Tue Dec 31 2019 7:32PM - A good day with Mike to close out 2019. We took a trip to Hobbyspeed in Indiana to return my defective locomotive and for Mike to buy track for his layout. Both missions were accomplished successfully. Mike has all the track he needs for his layout, and I have a new Nickle Plate Road GP9 Lionel Legacy engine which so far has run beautifully. Hopefully it will continue to do so. Time will tell.
With SKN underway, it wasn't too hard to get a QSO this evening, although I did have to call a couple stations before one responded. It was KN4ZQ in VA on 80 meters. I used my Begali Blade key for the QSO. The first SK QSO I've made in a long time now. The keying came right back to me after just a few seconds.
I hope you all have a happy New Year's Day as I should here. I have nothing out of the ordinary planned. Just playing with my new train, eating, and walking Roscoe. Anything else will come as a surprise. HI
On Friday Mike and I are going back to Indiana where he wants to exchange some signaling equipment. I don't plan as of now to buy anything there. Then it's off to Menard's in Warren, OH where Mike wants to pick up some buildings for his layout. -30-
Mon Dec 30 2019 7:22PM - Some good news and some bad news in the ARRL Propagation Bulletin today. Two new Cycle 25 sunspots were spotted on the Sun within the past week. However despite that, some propagation gurus say now that the Cycle 24 minimum might not come until early 2021. Others say it will probably come around April 2020. Just like the weather, you pick which forecast you like to believe. Me, I'll just wait and see. I have noticed the majority of days lately have had a Solar Flux value in the very low 70s unlike earlier in the year when there were a lot of upper 60s values. Also I think there is a slight uptick in signal strength of late, although not much.
Tonight I worked KG4CNZ in KY to close out my QSOs for 2019. Tomorrow evening I hope to get my first QSO of 2020 in the SKN event. In 2019 I only made 421 QSOs which is my lowest yearly total since before 1995. That's as far back as one graph goes. I'll do a bit more research and narrow it down further from my full log starting in 1963. The low figure is not completely attributable to propagation at this solar minimum although that has contributed. It's mainly because I am not as active in contesting now and seldom go beyond getting my daily streak QSO each day. Plus other interests like my model railroading. -30-
Sun Dec 29 2019 7:52PM - Let's start with a picture of me and Gene AA8MI that his wife Judy took after our meal in the Subway restaurant yesterday.
Looks like Mike and I will have a couple get togethers this week. One on Tuesday to go to Indiana where I'll take my Chessie switcher to be looked at and Mike may buy some track for his layout. Then Friday off to Warren, OH where Mike will buy some buildings for his layout. I'm still deciding on a design for my layout here to replace the simple oval I have now. There are so many good layouts that it's hard to decide just which one I want to go with. I guess I will someday though. First I want to learn more about the Lionel Legacy control system.
I had to go to 160M for my QSO this evening. 80 was very poor with only a few weak net stations heard here. In contrast, there was a lot of activity on 160M, but I had trouble chasing the stations till I caught and worked KA1FSX in PA who was calling CQ. -30-
Sat Dec 28 2019 7:17PM - I had a nice visit today with Gene AA8MI and his wife Judy. Gene called me a couple weeks ago saying he would be in my neck of the woods and would like to stop by for a visit. After going back and forth a couple times we decided on the 28th. They arrived right at 3:30PM. It turns out that Gene and his wife are also interested in trains, so we spent some time looking at my HO and O railroad setups. Then I gave Gene a tour of my antenna "victory garden" before we came inside and went up to my shack. We looked over my equipment and my awards before delving into my QSL collection. We enjoyed comparing notes on the countries we worked, and then the band-states after that. Next it was up to the attic for part two of the antenna tour. After we covered pretty much everything, Gene and Judy took me out to dinner at Subway. Then they departed after a couple hours together. I enjoyed the visit very much.
I got a couple QSOs this evening. First I worked KB1W who was in the RAC contest, but at one minute after the contest ended. It was a QSO nevertheless. However I made another QSO just to be sure. That was with Mario N2AK in NJ. It was rough on my end with QSB and QRN, but we made the contact for an insurance streak QSO. -30-
Fri Dec 27 2019 7:33PM - Now my interview with Mike. J-How would you describe our day today? M-Interestingly frustrating. J-Can you elaborate on that? M-Ummm, two locomotives that were in need of repair will be fixed, fortunately. We found out how good customer service is at Hobbyspeed in Indiana. J-How long do you think repairs will take. M-Not quick enough. J-What's involved? M-The Big Boy needs rewiring for the smoke fan unit. The NYC most likely needs a new motherboard because it's deader than a doornail. J-Anything else you want to add about today? M-John got a bright brand new yellow locomotive. Unfortunately it wasn't the Union Pacific that he first looked at. J-Yes I have O-31 curves on my setup and the Union Pacific required O-42. So I got the yellow Chessie switcher instead. Basically I just wanted a Legacy engine to study the Lionel Legacy Control system. J-Do you have anything to add, railroad wise, ham wise, or otherwise. M-Yes, my soldering skills for soldering that doesn't require a circuit board need a lot of work. J-You're referring to? M-The train speedometer we worked on today. J-Thank you Mike, you've certainly been an interesting and informative guest. M-Thank you.
As I sat down to type the diary entry, and started to type, it reminded me of interviews I helped out with at WPIT many years ago. The show was On the Traffic Beat with Nick Nicklas. He did the interviewing and I helped record it and edit it. He always had a standard format for the shows which included the question, "Do you have anything else to add, traffic-wise, safety-wise or otherwise?" that I paraphrased above. Also the closing, "Thank you -----, you've certainly been a very interesting and informative guest. Those were good days and Nick was a good friend. I'm sure he's long gone by now as he was fairly old those many years ago.
After Mike and I had a pizza this evening, I got a quick QSO in the RAC Contest with friend and "callsignsake" K3WW. I haven't worked Chas for a while now since I haven't been doing as much contesting recently. -30-
Thu Dec 26 2019 7:16PM - Almost a 0000Z QSO tonight, but the clock just turned to 0001Z when I successfully called K8KEM, David near Cleveland. We had a solid 10 minute 599 to 599 QSO before he had to QRT to go see his XYL.
We almost hit 60 degrees today. The AcuRite maximum shows 59 as the high. What a great stretch of weather we have been having, and it looks to continue at least another week although with some rain. Rain is great this time of year also.
Tomorrow Mike and I are off to the hobby shop in Indiana again. Me to get a Lionel Legacy locomotive so I can learn more about my new Legacy control system before getting a Big Boy some time next year, I hope. Mike is going to check on the problems he mentioned when he wrote the diary entry a couple nights ago. Should be another great day as all are when Mike visits for some railroad or ham radio work.
For Christmas, my neighbor (and Roscoe) gave me a trains shirt. He also suggested I might think about getting one for Mike also, and I did. Here's a picture of the two kids in their shirts.
Both shirts have the same text except for the name. My shirt was a bit wrinkled where the text is which I guess is appropriate because the wearer is wrinkled also. HI. I'll be wearing mine to the hobby shop tomorrow and maybe Mike will wear his also. -30-
Wed Dec 25 2019 9:15AM - Now as I do each year:
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.
Tue Dec 24 2019 8:42PM - And now, here's Mike: Our annual Christmas Lights Tour was a day earlier than usual. I arrived at John's QTH just before 2PM. We jumped right into a train project. My new Big Boy locomotive is having an issue with smoke not billowing out of the stacks. John had an idea of what may be wrong. So he asked me to bring down my MTH DSC control system. He thought that using his Lionel DCC system may have shut down the smoke feature. Unfortunately that was not the issue. We did figure out how the WiFi set up works on the MTH DSC system. It was much easier to set up than I originally thought. We ran the Big Boy for a good amount of time waiting to see if the smoke fan would finally kick back on. No luck. So we put my Hudson New York Central locomotive on to see how it worked. It worked like a charm for just a little bit. The smoke function started up right away. Unfortunately it suddenly stopped. I tried to reboot it from the app on my Ipad. No luck. Took it off the track and re railed it. It started up then shut down shortly afterwards. We went back to the Big Boy to see if it would still run, and it did. We disconnected my DSC system and reconnected John's Lionel Legacy system. The Big Boy still ran like a charm with the same issue with the smoke fan. Then tried the NYC Hudson. It would not work on John's DCC, yet his locomotives worked just fine. So its off to the train store on Friday with both locomotives in tow to see what's up with the smoke fan on the Big Boy and why the NYC Hudson stopped all together.
We headed out to Subway for dinner followed by our Christmas Lights Tour. We arrived back at John's QTH around 25 minutes ago. John headed straight for his shack to get his QSO of the day. And now I sit here typing to all of you fine people on this Christmas Eve.
Shortly I will be headed out into the fog to my QTH. Merry Christmas everyone. 73 Mike KC2EGL -30-
Mon Dec 23 2019 8:13PM - A somewhat unusual QSO this evening. The station was in VT operated remotely by a ham in FL. I'm not really sure just how that works and I'm really not interested. All I care is that it was a QSO that keeps the streak going another day.
Speaking of another day, it was another of those mid-fall days in winter. Let's see, AcuRite shows a high of 55 today, warm enough to go without a coat while walking Roscoe in mid-afternoon. It certainly is great.
When I listened to Party Line with Ed and Wendy King many years ago on KDKA, Ed brought up this interesting winter superstition attributed to an old Indian legend. If you add the day of the month to the age of the moon on the date of the first s@#wfall, the number will predict the number of s@#wfalls for the winter. I'm going to have to check that out because it certainly has been a pretty s#$w free winter so far. I think our first s#$w came in early December when the date number was low. The moon was fairly young then, so the predicted total would be low.
Mike will be coming around 2 PM tomorrow and we'll be doing some train work and playing before it gets dark and we go look at the lights. We'll also exchange our Christmas gifts tomorrow. Unless it comes tomorrow, one of my gifts for Mike will have to be given later on, maybe for Orthodox Christmas. I ordered it a couple months ago from a company from whom I ordered another item about a year ago and it took about three months to arrive. I think I will not order anything else from them. -30-
Sun Dec 22 2019 7:51PM - Another quick QSO this evening with VA3SY on 40 meters. Yes - 40 meters. There were a few good sigs on 40 strong enough to break my high local noise level.
Not much going on today. It was nice enough for a couple walks with temperatures around 50 degrees. In fact I see a high of 52 on my AcuRite remote unit. Otherwise just waiting around for Christmas in a couple days. -30-
Sat Dec 21 2019 8:38PM - I thought I'd get on for a quick QSO in the Croatian contest then go for a little walk around town to check out some Christmas lights. It took 7 minutes to get the QSO with VA2CZ on 80 meters. He gave me a number 198 so he was doing pretty good in the contest. Of course he was my number 1. When DX conditions were better near the sunspot peaks, I liked the Croatian contest a lot. In 2000 I made 47 QSOs in just over 2 hours as an example.
The beautiful (no s@#w) weather continues and is forecast to do so until at least Friday. It's a Christmas miracle. However when the bad weather comes we will be so spoiled it will feel even worse than it is. So I'll enjoy this nice weather while I can. The high every day this week is predicted at 46 through 50 with only one day at the 46. Great!
For the eleventh year in a row, with a slight change this year, Mike and I will get together for Christmas. For the previous 10 years it was on Christmas night. This year it is going to be Christmas Eve. Same routine though which is going for a drive around Kittanning and its environs to look at the Christmas lights. Then we usually get in some ham radio and this year it will also include trains, I'm sure. -30-
Fri Dec 20 2019 9:09PM - A quick start to a nice long steady QSO tonight. I worked Bob K8JPM from 0002Z to 0030Z on 80 meters. Both his signals and mine were well over S9. There was very little activity on the band though. For the umpteenth time folks, conditions are still good on the bands even at this sunspot minimum. Perhaps not all bands at all times are good. However there are enough good bands and times to make it worthwhile to get on the air. End of lecture.
I finished my Christmas shopping with two more gifts today. I also worked on my trains and rails. I had to replace a small part on one of my turnouts. I also did some wheel cleaning and lubrication. Of course I also played with Mike's Big Boy. It seems to smoke more now, but the smoke just wafts out of the stack. I think the trouble is with the smoke fan in the engine. We'll look at that more on Christmas night, and maybe take it to Indiana a couple days after Christmas.
Pet peeve this time of year: It's the birthday of Christ, not the birthday of X. So it's Christmas, not Xmas. -30-
Thu Dec 19 2019 8:36PM - Mike arrived around 11:00AM today with his Big Boy locomotive. We soon got to work on it after first recreating the problem of the back set of driving wheels locking up. It didn't take long to notice that one of the bolts holding the eccentric drive rod to its wheel was very loose. In fact about ready to fall out. When we tightened down the bolt, everything worked fine again. Well, most everything. After we ran it for a while, we noticed that it wasn't smoking. We added some smoke fluid and that didn't help. So we then thought there was too much fluid in the engine and tried blowing it out with compressed air. That helped a bit, but the smoke was just lightly wisping out and not puffing. We still haven't figured that one out. We took a break to get a sub at Subway, then came back home and did some more work on the Big Boy and one of my passenger cars. We also watched some railroad videos. Mike left his Big Boy here for me to "play" with until he comes back on Christmas night for our annual "drive around and look at the lights" night. Then he headed up north to home in Brookville.
It was just after 0000Z when he left so I went to the shack for my daily QSO routine. As soon as I turned on the rig, I noticed a pretty tall peak on the PX3 and tuned it in to find it was a CQ from N4ACF. I answered and we had a short solid 10 minute QSO.
That was about it for the day. Oh, the roads were bad this morning and we had to postpone Roscoe's visit to the vet until Monday. Good thing it's nothing at all serious, just a check up. -30-
Wed Dec 18 2019 8:08PM - The bands continue pretty dismal, but despite that, the streak goes on. Tonight it was a quick QSO from W8HOG on 80M. He treated it sort of like a contest QSO so maybe he was in some club sprint or other. Anyway it was a QSO.
I got around to wiring up my Lionel Legacy system today and it works very nice running all my old conventional locomotives. I still have to add a Legacy locomotive to my fleet though, to really take advantage of all the great features of the Legacy system.
Mike got some hints today about his BigBoy from the Indiana Hobbyspeed store. He's coming down tomorrow after we get back from taking Roscoe to the vet for a check-up. We'll implement the suggestions he got and if that doesn't work, we'll take a third trip to Indiana this week. At least the weather should be great tomorrow if a bit cold. In fact it looks like my wish for a Green Christmas may come true this year. There's pretty much no precipitation at all for the next week which takes us through Christmas day. That will be great. -30-
Tue Dec 17 2019 7:58PM - Mike and I returned to Indiana and the hobby shop again today. It was open this time. We spent a couple hours there buying various items too numerous to list here, so I'll summarize. I bought a Legacy control system for my Lionel layout plus a couple little parts. Mike bought a MTH control system and some other items including a Big Boy locomotive. After eating at Long John Silver's, we came home and played with some of our items.
I unpacked my Legacy system and checked it over. Then charged the batteries. I didn't want to go any further with it until I read the manuals thoroughly which I might do later tonight. If I do, then tomorrow I'll hook it up and test it out. Next we put Mike's Big Boy on track and gave it a test run. It didn't perform as expected though and we think there may be a problem in one of the two motors that runs the dual set of driving wheels. Mike will call the hobby store tomorrow to try to resolve the problem.
While Mike was packing up the Big Boy, I went to the shack and got a quick QSO with N5ID in AR for my streak. Now Mike is sitting across the room with his smart phone while I type this. I asked him for any comments and he just said to say our trip to Indiana went better than the one yesterday. -30-
Mon Dec 16 2019 7:49PM - Mike and I were greeted by an ugly sign when we parked in front of the Hobbyspeed store in Indiana, PA today. It said Store Closed Today - We're catching up on our Internet orders. Grrrrr!!! We drove all the way there for nothing. So we stopped at Wendy's for lunch then came back here to Kittanning. We're going to try again Wednesday. However, we'll call and make sure they are going to be open before we go.
So instead of playing with our new purchases we planned to get, we instead watched some train videos.
I had another QSO ended prematurely by QSB and QRN tonight. This time with N1MX in MA on 80 meters. The band has sure gone back to its old ways again after a couple weeks of good solid lengthy QSOs back mostly in November. -30-
Sun Dec 15 2019 8:16PM - The bands were strange tonight. I heard W9ZN calling CQ, and he usually always hears me call, but not tonight. I didn't even get a question mark from him. So I continued to search and found NJ8D at S9 calling CQ. He heard me and gave me a 599 report. However during his exchange the S9 quickly faded down into my noise and never did come back up. So no QSO. Back to the search. Finally with 42 minutes gone in the 0000Z hour, I found K3XR at S9 calling CQ, and managed to have two solid rounds with him before he had to QRT. Whew, that was a close call with Mike coming tomorrow for a day together. Plus I hate it when I get only a partial no-count QSO because I feel that may be a jinx and if I don't get anyone else for the day that would be a horrible way for the streak to end. But I don't have to worry about that for now.
Then just as I shut down and took off my headphones, the band on the phones broke right in two. It was pretty much non-fixable so I went and got my portable phones to use in the shack at least for the time being.
Tomorrow Mike and I are going to a model train store in Indiana, PA to buy some things. More about that tomorrow night maybe with some pictures. -30-
Sat Dec 14 2019 7:18PM - The bands were very poor again tonight, but I did manage a short, good, QSB-terminated QSO with W1OBJ up in MA to continue the streak.
About the only good thing to say about today is it's a good thing it wasn't s#$w, but rain. It rained on and off, mostly on, most of the day today with the temperature between 35 and 43. It looks like it will be a mix of rain and s@#w the next couple days now. Just enough to be annoying, no big storms. At least as the predictions go now. -30-
Fri Dec 13 2019 7:45PM - The bands took a couple steps backward tonight after being pretty good for several days now. 80 was the only band with signals and none of them strong. I did manage to get a QSO with WQ9H though after trying for a while with no luck.
Nothing much to write about tonight. I did get another Ebay package today with a building kit to add a store on my HO layout. Also I went for a couple walks/shopping trips to pick up some needed items. I'm not a believer in Friday the 13th, but I did have two batteries die today. One in my old mantle clock and one in a little timer I use to measure laps on my model railroad circuits. Maybe there is something to it. HI. -30-
Thu Dec 12 2019 8:03PM - That was one of my longest QSOs in a while tonight. I chatted with Doug WA4LJJ in KY on 80 for 48 minutes. Copy was virtually solid both ways the whole time with sigs at or above 599. Again I say it isn't propagation entirely making things hard on the bands. It's a lack of activity more than anything else. I guess everyone is scared away by the low sunspot numbers.
Not much going on today. I did get a couple of gifts in the mail which will go to my friends on Christmas. Still awaiting a couple others. It was a fairly nice day today after a brief s#@w flurry last evening that deposited about a half inch of the stuff on the ground, walks, and roads. -30-
Wed Dec 11 2019 7:43PM - After my streak of making my daily QSO in the 0000Z hour ended because of the ham radio meeting last night, I started up again tonight by working N3MLB at 0011Z on 80 meters.
Just a couple words about last night. First of all Mike and I left my house a little late to head to the meeting. Then one of those brief wrong turns slowed us a bit. Next it was off to Chili's for a meal, and the service, at least waiting for the check was a little slow. The big slow down was some kind of accident that closed the main road to the clubhouse, and we had to drive all over the country in that area to finally make it to the meeting which was underway when we got there a bit after 7:30. Had we made it at 7:00 as we hoped, I might have been able to use the radio room for my QSO. However when we arrived, all the rigs were being used and being a new member, I didn't want to try to "borrow" one, even for a few minutes. So the 0000Z streak ended.
However a couple other streaks were on the line also. The big main streak and the streak of entering every one of our NAQCC sprints. Those were taken care of after the meeting when my friend Jody K3JZD took me into the radio room and requested the use of a rig for me. The ham (I forget his call now as there were so many hams there I never met before or maybe met only once or twice some time ago) relinquished the rig and Jody helped me (or actually did most himself) figure out how to get a simple wire antenna connected to the rig, set it to CW, and then to 5 watts. As soon as that was done at 0208Z I got my QSO with a single call to NN9K in the NAQCC sprint.
Now let me see just how many days long the 0000Z streak was. It started on March 24, 2019 so that's 8 days in March + 30 + 31 + 30 + 31 + 31 + 30 + 31 + 30 + 10 in December or a total of 262 straight days if my math is correct. Not bad at this stage of a sunspot cycle near the minimum. And it wasn't propagation at all that ended it. I'll probably continue to try to get my QSOs in the 0000Z hour and see how far it can go. Then add the proverbial asterisk to the number to indicate the missing day. HI. -30-
Tue Dec 10 2019 10:38PM - It was a good day today with Mike. He came around 1:30PM, and we talked trains and watched train videos. Around 5:00PM we headed down to Chili's for a meal, then over to New Kensington for the ham meeting. On the way there, we ran into a road block and subsequent detour through these back roads that must have been built in the early 1900s. Finally we did make it to the meeting which took a little over an hour or so. After the meeting it was a pleasure to talk with Jody K3JZD, Marty (I forget his call), and Bob WC3O. Jody commandeered (so to speak) the radio room so I could get my streak QSO as well as a QSO in our NAQCC sprint. That was accomplished quickly after we figured out how to set up the ICOM (7300?) for CW, 5W, and connected to a simple wire antenna (40 meters dipole). I got NN9K in IL with a single call. Then we had a quick trip home where I am now typing this and Mike is on his way home. -30-
Mon Dec 9 2019 08:13PM - Tonight may be the end of my streak of making my streak QSOs in the 0000Z hour. Tomorrow evening I plan to go to a Skyview ARA meeting with Mike. The meetings start at 0000Z, so unless I impose on them to use their shack for my QSO, which I don't want to do since we are just new members, the 0000Z streak will have ended. Not the big main streak though. I'll have 22-23 hours to get a streak QSO for Wednesday. Hopefully we'll be home here in time for me to get a QSO in our NAQCC sprint to keep my participation streak alive for our sprints.
I received three packages from Ebay purchases today. Three Pennsylvania passenger cars that I bought knowing they needed some work which I performed today. They still need a bit more tweaking but they are speeding around my track right now as I type this. I also got some weights for some of my lighter HO rolling stock to help them run better. Still waiting for a scale to weigh the cars before I use them though. And a pack of smoke gaskets for my Lionel 736 Berkshire. I'll probably use one of them tomorrow although maybe not till Wednesday as I have a few things to do tomorrow.
It's 55 degrees right now. That's great for a third of the way into December especially since it's raining heavily and that could be s#$w if it was cold.
Sun Dec 8 2019 01:50PM - It's an unusual time of day to be writing the diary entry, but it is a quiet day here, and I thought I'd take care of the pictures from the Trolley Museum. First of all, thanks to Mike for writing the diary entry about the Museum last night. Secondly, with 90+ pictures to choose from, it was hard to narrow them down for posting. I had to leave out a lot of good pictures to keep it down to a reasonable size here in the diary entry. I narrowed it down to about a dozen representing the different aspects of the Museum. So here we go now.
That's it. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and will go to see the Trolleys, etc. at the Museum yourself someday. -30-
Here are the dynamic duo in front of one of the newest additions to the Museum
John standing in front of one of the two trolleys on which we rode (Santa and Yuletide)
John, some jolly old fellow, and Mike. The host said you're never too old to have your picture taken with Santa, and as Mike and I walked up, I said, "and we're here to prove it"
Here's a full side view of one of the trolleys we rode
A view out the front window of the course we'd be riding on the Yuletide trolley
One of the trolleys similar to the ones I rode in Pittsburgh long ago. Kind of nostalgic seeing the Forbes Field one
Another of the trolleys in the Museum
They also had two big model train displays there
Two more general views of the displays
Kids (and the young at heart like Mike and I) will recognize the next two trains - The Polar Express and Thomas
Nothing to do with trolleys or model railroads, but I enjoyed seeing this model of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander
Sat Dec 7 2019 08:22PM - I just asked Mike if he wanted to write a diary entry about our day at the Trolley Museum, etc., and he said yes. Then for tomorrow or the next day, I'll pick out some of the 90+ pictures we took and post them in the diary. So here's Mike now.
Good evening all. Our day started around 8:45AM when I arrived at John's QTH. We sat and caught up on a few things. Mostly model railroading. I brought my new set of New York Central Passenger cars to test run on John's O Gauge layout because it is much bigger than mine. These cars are 18" long. Much to long to try on my current oval setup. I gave John an early Christmas gift of my old NYC Pullman cars since they are much smaller than the new ones. After John walked Roscoe we headed out to the PA Trolley Museum. We thought we missed a turn on I376 for I79. We followed my GPS to get back on to I376 towards I79. As we exited I376 we noticed that there isn't a exit for I79 on I376 East bound. Who ever designed the road system in and around Pittsburgh needs to be beaten with a wet noodle. Pittsburgh has the worst road system that I have ever driven on. This comes from someone who grew up in New York City and lived in Europe and Korea.
We arrived at the Trolley Museum around 11:30AM which gave us 45 minutes to kill. We checked out one of their storage sheds with some very nice Trolley and Street Car pieces. After the quick tour of said shed (no not Cheryl's She Shed) we went back to the main building and picked up our tickets and I joined as museum member so I can attend the Trolley OPerators classes starting in March. We then headed over to the line for the Santa Trolley. We sat at the front of a packed trolley. There was singing of Christmas song's as we waited for Santas arrival so we could depart on our journey. We stopped at the halfway point so Santa could make his rounds to all the children on the trolley, John and I included. I struck up a conversation with the young lady who was driving the Trolley and the trolleys conductor. I explained how I plan on attending the operators course in March. They gave me a on the spot quiz to see if I knew what lever controled what. I think they were a little surprized when I gave correct answers for all of their questions. They trolley headed back to the main station. Just before we arrived at the station the trolley stopped so everyone who wanted a photo with Santa could get one. Yes John and I could not pass up the opportunity for a photo op. We told Santa that we were the oldest kids on the trolley. The master of ceremonies was more than happy to take photos of us.
We shortly arrived back at the main station so we could catch a ride on the Yuletide Trolley, which took us to the 'South Pole' which they have named the Wexford Station. We were barely off the trolley when the conductor pulled us aside and took us into the storage shed at that station and gave us a quick personal tour of a shed with some very nice museum peices. I think we were treated like royalty because of my interest in learning how to operate their trolleys. After our quick tour we boarded the trolley and headed back to the main station. After we arrived back I struck up a conversation with the trolleys operator about the electronic switching system which he graciosly explained.
After our trolley rides we went into the events building where they had a very nice Lego train and village setup. We then headed back to the main building where they had a very nice 0 gauge layout. We then headed to Best Buy so I could get a new media card reader to transfer photos from the memory card in my digital camera to my computer. After that we went for a late lunch early dinner at Applebees. You didn't think we were going to pass up on a meal while we were out and about, did you? We then headed back to John's QTH where we planned on an experiment with my new passenger car's on his layout. That ended quickly when one of my new cars could not negotiate the first curve. We sumized that I will need a larger radius curve for this passenger consist. Then it was off to John's shack to get his QSO for the day, which he had no issues in doing so with a contest on 160M. I followed by logging 3 QSO's from the contest. We also did some minor maintenace work on the couplers on the three passenger cars I gave him. All they needed were a good oiling. Now the couplers work flawlessly. John just got back from taking Roscoe for his last walk of the day. And I will be heading North to my QTH in a few.
Until next time this is KC2EGL Mike. 73 -30-
Fri Dec 6 2019 07:35PM - Of course the 160M Contest provided me with my streak QSO just about as soon as I tuned there after checking 80 and 40. Surprisingly, 40 had a few good signals. Some chasing DX and others rag chewing. I didn't feel like waiting around there though, so it was off to 160 at 0004Z where I quickly worked VE3KZ.
Tomorrow is trolley day as Mike and I visit the Trolley Museum in Washington, PA. The weather continues to look good with partly sunny skies and mid 30s temperatures. After that, we'll get something to eat somewhere then come back here for some model railroad projects. -30-
Thu Dec 5 2019 - I've been promising some Christmas pictures the last couple diary entries. Finally here they are.
First two views at approximate right angles of the tree with the first one also showing the window stencils.
Wed Dec 4 2019 - Took a little longer to get my QSO this evening, but still made it well within the 0000Z hour as I've done every evening since mid-March. Once again a case of a lack of activity and not poor propagation was the reason for the delay. Once hooked up with W2IFB, we had a fairly solid 21 minute rag chew on 80 meters. Folks need to cease being scared of the alleged poor propagation and get on the air. Don't give up if you don't hear anyone. Try some CQs of your own. The band is waiting for your signals to propagate them somewhere.
I heard my friend Kam TI5/N3KS on 40 and called him a few times, but lost out to stronger stations. Then he wen't QRT before I had any more chances to call. I'm sure he would have heard me in the clear as he always does.
Not much going on today. I did take a couple shopping walks in between the s#$w flurries. I also stopped to get my Skyview ARA membership card laminated at a print shop here in town.
Still looks like nice weather Saturday when Mike and I go to the Trolley Museum. Sunny with a high in the upper 30s and no precipitation.
No Christmas tree pix today. Maybe in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Tue Dec 3 2019 07:52PM - Wow, a 40 minute solid rag chew on 160M with W3DF in MD. He was 599 pretty much all the way and said I was 579 to 589 all the way. So boys and girls, as I've been saying, the conditions are there if you just find the right band, right time, and someone in the location to which you have the best path.
Part of our discussion was about QRP rigs. He's getting one for Christmas, and said he looked at the KX3, but it was too expensive for him. He operates QRO and other modes. I said that yes, the KX3 is pricey, but for my MO which of course is QRP/CW only, it is a perfect rig, despite the price. I said if I was a QRO/other modes operator, I probably would have gone for a cheaper rig as a sidekick QRP rig, so to speak, instead of a mainstream rig as it is for me.
I finished my Christmas decorating today and now am looking at the tree across the room from me. I'll try to take a couple pictures tomorrow and post them here in tomorrow's diary entry. I also finished almost all my Christmas shopping today. I just have one or two little gifts left to get now. -30-
Mon Dec 2 2019 07:38PM - A busy day today with laundry, paying some bills, doing some Christmas shopping, and some Christmas decorating along with other things. I think tomorrow I'll try to finish my Christmas decorating. About all I have left is trimming the tree. I set it up this evening and just have to add the lights and ormanents. No, that's not a typo. If you remember the Party Line talk show on KDKA many years ago with Ed and Wendy King, Ed always referred to Christmas ornaments as "ormanents" to distinguish them as an entity unto themselves. I always think of that around Christmas time.
A fairly quick QSO this evening at 0009. I didn't find anyone calling CQ, so I called myself and it didn't take too long until Chris N3MLB answered me and we had a (2XQRP) 7 minute QSO. Amazing (or maybe not) that our QRP signals were S9 + 10 both ways. Yes folks, despite the sunspot minimum, conditions are (very) good over certain paths. So don't be hesitant to get on the bands. If you don't hear anything, call CQ. Somebody may be tuning looking for CQs to answer.
Mike and I have another event planned for this Saturday. We're going back to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum near Washington, PA. Nothing ham radio related, but trains related. I think this is our 3rd, maybe 4th trip there, and it has always been enjoyable.
In case you're keeping track, I didn't have any Thanksgiving Dinner of any kind today. Just back to my fairly regular diet. -30-
Sun Dec 1 2019 07:25PM - An easy and solid QSO tonight with K3SEW on 80 meters. Propagation seemed pretty good this evening with a lot of stronger signals on 80 and even a couple on 40.
I put the November weather records in my computer today and for a change, the average temperature was below normal. Since January 2017, only 5 other months have averaged below normal, while 30 months were above by 5-10 degrees in several cases. There was a run of three below normal months from Dec 2017 - Feb 2018. Without those three the difference would be even more outstanding.
As far as the current weather, we got no ice and no s#$w at all last night. Only some rain, and not even all that much. That was perfectly OK with me.
I had Thanksgiving Dinner IV a little while ago. Now I think I'll diet the rest of the week.
I did a little more Christmas trimming today adorning my front picture type window with the traditional stencils depicting the true meaning of Christmas. Here's a picture:
Sat Nov 30 2019 07:22PM - Have you noticed that the Solar Flux has crept up slightly the past month or so? If you look at my Propagation section of the web site, you'll see what I mean. For a very long string of days through late October, it was in the upper 60s. Since October 29, only 3 days has it been in the 60s. The rest of the days, it's been 70 or 71. Can it be we've passed the sunspot minimum or is this just a seasonal thing as the Earth closes in on perihelion in early January?
I don't want to say this too loud for fear of a jinx, but the weather forecasts have backed off on the freezing rain forecast for overnight. Now it's just rain with the possibility of mixing with freezing rain from 1 to 3 AM. So if it's true, that's good news.
Some Russian contest this evening with everyone working everyone else gave me my streak QSO when I exchanged info with W1KM on 80 meters. He had 85 QSOs when he worked me for his # 86. Of course, he was my # 1.
I had Thanksgiving Dinner III today from the meal that Ange brought me yesterday when he brought the grandkids over. So I guess it's time to diet now for a while. HI -30-
Fri Nov 29 2019 07:48PM - 40 meters! Yes, I actually had a regular QSO on 40 for the first time in a long while. I've had contest QSOs there, but not a regular rag chew. It was only 7 minutes long before the band changed, but it was still nice. Then I went to 80 and got an answer to my CQ there and a 17 minute QSO.
I had a very good time this morning. My garden friend Ange brought two of his grandkids who were visiting for Thanksgiving over to see my trains. They were a sheer delight. The boy is about 5 and I think the girl about 8. Very intelligent kids with a lot of questions and comments on my trains. They didn't want to leave, but they did have to go after a half hour or so. The Ol' Station Marketplace used to be a Railroad Station and Ange told the kids they could walk over and see that sometime. The boy (Leo) said "we can walk with John sometime." I guess they really enjoyed the visit. That pretty much made my day.
Later I had Thanksgiving Dinner II at my neighbors with the food left over from yesterday.
The lady from the Ol' Station Marketplace told me today that the train sets at the auction she attended went for a lot more money than I wanted to pay, so she didn't get them for me, but said she would continue checking at auctions.
We've got some nasty weather predicted for tomorrow night including a chance of freezing rain. I hope we don't lose power. If you don't see the diary updated, you'll know why. -30-
Thu Nov 28 2019 07:41PM - I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving as I did here.
I promised a wrap up of our USS Requin subpedition. Mike arrived yesterday around 8:50AM or so. After I fed and walked Roscoe we headed for New Bethlehem.... err, I mean Pittsburgh. That's an inside joke for Mike when he reads this. Well, actually we got absorbed in talking railroads and took a wrong turn not far from Kittanning. We arrived at the sub around 10:00AM or so, and Art was waiting for us there. We went into the Radio Room, and got set up. Art had to go to the Science Center to work on the train display there. Mike and I ran the show as we always do, but we missed Art dropping by now and then to see how we were doing and sharing some humor with us.
The activity started with two quick QSOs. Mike was at the key and I was logging since as you know, the Requin has only a single antenna and thus only one band can be active at any time. After the initial QSOs, things slowed down and we wound up with only 3 QSOs for the first hour. The second hour was worse with only 2 QSOs. It took until the third hour for things to pick up and that hour yielded 8 QSOs including one eyeball QSO with one ham who works in the Science Center and came to visit us in the sub. I took over the key about midway through that hour. The final two hours gave us 3 and 2 QSOs respectively. That's a total of only 18 QSOs and a great number of unanswered CQs. We did have one ship to ship QSO when we worked NI6BB on the battleship USS Iowa moored near Los Angeles, CA.
As always, it was great to interact with the visitors to the sub and answer their questions. One of the most popular questions seems to be if we had served active duty on the Requin or other submarines. We hadn't and usually explained that we are ham radio operators and visit the sub several times a year to keep the Radio Room active. We enjoy it, and those who run the Science Center and the sub are happy that we do it.
We wound up staying the full five hours, and didn't wrap up until just before 3:00PM when Art said he would be back to see us off. We told him how we did. He told us that the sub would probably be down for maintenance in January and February. So we might not be back there until March unless we do something in December. I don't remember now just what Mike and I planned for December.
We then headed home in the pre-Thanksgiving traffic which was quite heavy. When we did get home, we spent time doing various things relating to ham radio and railroads. We ordered a pizza and devoured that. Some railroad videos, then Mike headed on home. Our next get together will be going to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum near Washington, PA on December 7.
Back to tonight. I got one of those quick QSOs at 0001Z when I found and worked Bill VE3AUI on 80. I worked him 10 days ago on 160. The QSO succumbed to QSB and QRN tonight and ended after only 6 minutes compared to 32 minutes for the 160M QSO. -30-
Wed Nov 27 2019 09:23PM - A great day today on the sub and otherwise. Since it's late and I have other things to get caught up on, I'll chronicle today in tomorrow's diary entry. I should have pictures by then also.
Tonight getting my streak QSO was a bit suspenseful. Come 0000Z Mike and I ordered a pizza via pickup. So I wanted to try to get my QSO before we had to leave and pick it up and then eat it. The bands didn't look good and except for the usual net stations and DX chasers, there was nothing to be heard at all. As the time ticked away, it looked like maybe the 0000Z streak would end as a trip to the pizzeria and eating the pizza would kill at least 40 minutes. However at 0015 I found KC2LSD calling CQ at the low end of 80. He wasn't strong, but I called, and we had a 4 minute QSO. I was glad when he said conditions weren't all that good and he would let me run for now and try again some other time. We did exchange enough material before that to make it a good QSO though. -30-
Tue Nov 26 2019 08:05PM - A very rough night. I thought at least my 0000Z streak was coming to an end. However it was 160M to the rescue again. I found and worked Stu NV3N with only 14 minutes remaining in the 0000Z hour. Whew!
It was in the 60s today for maybe the last time till spring. I hope not, but... I took advantage and put up my outside Christmas lights. I also prepared a little inside for the inside decorations which I'll probably do next week.
Tomorrow we go to Pittsburgh to operate from the Requin as I mentioned in last night's diary entry. Looks like the weather won't be so good, but we'll be inside the sub so it shouldn't matter much. Some rain and high winds are predicted. I took in my porch furniture, plants (artificial), and wind chimes just in case. Anyway, hope to work you from the sub. -30-
Mon Nov 25 2019 07:37PM - Rough conditions again, but still I got my streak QSO in a 22 minute QSO with Dick WB3AVF on 80 meters.
It was a nice day today with a high of 56 according to my AcuRite remote unit. It was nice to go out with just a light jacket instead of the winter coat I've been wearing most of November. It should be nice the next couple days also but with some rain on Wednesday.
Speaking of Wednesday, I confirmed our visit to the USS Requin with Art from the sub a little while ago. So Mike and I hope to be operating there starting around 1500Z and going until 1800-1900Z if activity warrants us staying that long. As usual we have only one antenna so only one band at a time. Probably we'll be on 40 around 7041 most of the time, but we will try 30 around 10117 and 20 around 14061 now and then. The last couple times we were there we had some bad QRN on 20 right around our intended frequency so if it is still there, we may try down around 14031 as it seemed quieter there before. Give a listen and if you find and hear us, by all means give us a call. You can get a nice picture QSL of the Requin if you QSL to the QRZ address for NY3EC, the Requin's call. We will be using NY3EC for our activity. Hope to work you Wednesday. -30-
Sun Nov 24 2019 08:09PM - The bands seemed pretty quiet at 0000Z which is normal after a big contest has just ended. Activity did start to pick up slowly and it wasn't long before I found N1NDN calling CQ. I had to call him twice but we did get a minimal QSO to extend the streak another day. It's now just over 8 months since I failed to get my streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. I wonder if I can make that particular sub-streak last a full year.
I see my next door neighbor put up her Christmas lights today. I thought it was a bit cold out there for that. I've set my target for putting up my outdoor lights at Tuesday when it is supposed to be in the mid 50s compared to the low 40s today. I like to avoid the cold weather as much as possible. At least we haven't had any s#$w to speak of so far, but it probably won't be long. I think I'll activate my countdown to spring timer a bit early this year. Of course with 2020 being a leap year, winter will be one day longer at least as far as the calendar goes. I hope the winter weather won't be one day longer.
I did a bit of minor work on my old Lionel 736 locomotive today. I glued up a tiny crack in the tender frame and found a screw that matched the tender better in the process. I guess I lost the original screws a long time ago, and there were some makeshift ones holding the frame on. It looks a little better now. Also I did a little touch up painting as well. I also added a lockwasher to the little screw that holds the boiler door on. I still like the 736 best of all the dozen or so engines I have now. I think because of all the memories attached to it. I remember my dad and I lying on the floor in front of the fireplace (we hadn't gotten central heating back then) playing with the 736 and its consist. That meant a lot to me since I didn't have my dad with me all that long. He died when I was 17. Even while he was living we didn't have all that much time together because of his job delivering mail on a star route working from 5AM or so until 6PM driving some 220 miles a day with only an hour break between two runs and a half hour or so layover at one post office. Some great memories that also included going along on the mail route many many times. We would often go fishing during that layover at the Clarion, PA post office. We'd fish in Toby Creek and catch mostly bluegills.
I better close here before I get too nostalgic and go on forever. -30-
Sat Nov 23 2019 07:14PM - I never did get around to checking the bands for DX during the day today. I did hear a few DX stations this evening, but they weren't hearing me. Again I just settled for a USA QSO and worked K5GN on 40 to at least get the streak QSO for the day.
Otherwise it was another pretty much nothing day. I just don't like this time of year all that much. There doesn't seem to be a lot to do with the very early sunset limiting the hours of daylight. I did do a couple things today like going downtown for some shopping. I also fixed up one of my house plants which was starting to lean over quite a bit. I propped it up so now I don't think it will fall on my Lionel railroad. I also watched the Penn State / Ohio State football game for a while. Playing with my trains pretty much finished out the daylight hours
One other good thing today was receiving a couple of train DVDs and CDs in the mail from my train/ham friend Lane N8AFT. I haven't watched the DVDs yet, but I did listen a bit to the CD which has a lot of good railroad sounds from the days of steam on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. -30-
Fri Nov 22 2019 07:21PM - Kind of disappointing this evening. I thought maybe 20 would be open late for the DX contest, but I heard nothing there. I did hear a few DX stations on 40, but all were very weak. So I just settled on working NN7CW for my streak QSO, then I shut down. Maybe I'll check 20 and 15 during the day tomorrow, but more than likely not. I just am not in a contesting mood these days with the lack of really good propagation plus my strong local noise.
So it was just another everyday day again with nothing really worth writing about. I can't wait till next Wednesday when Mike and I go to operate on the Requin again. -30-
Thu Nov 21 2019 08:22PM - 40M!!! DX!!! Yes, it's been a while now since I've gotten anything on 40M and the same with DX, but this evening I got 3 DX QSOs on 40M. The upcoming CQ DX Contest is the reason as stations get their equipment set up and tuned in advance of the contest. Also my noise was a bit less this evening and that helped. Who did I work? All portable calls: CT9/HA3NU, PJ2/NA2U, HI3/N4YDU. So that kind of made my day. I wonder if the lowering of my noise is going to last.
I forgot to talk about the battery last night. It got to the point where it was dropping off fairly rapidly. I lost four tenths of a volt after only about 10 minutes and it was down to 11.6 or 11.7 volts on transmit and about 12.0 or 12.1 on receive. So I disconnected it and went back to my main power supply. I put the battery on the charger around 9:00PM and left it charge overnight until 9:00AM. I measured the voltage with no load and it was 14.3 volts. I think I'll just leave it set now and see if it loses any charge that way. Unless Mike wants to test his LiPo batteries on the subpedition, I'll try it again there.
I moved my HO train layout today in preparation for putting up the Christmas tree around December 1st. I kind of like it the way it is now and may leave it like this and put something else in the corner where the tree will be after I take it down the first week of January or so. The lady who runs the Ol' Station Marketplace told me today she is going to an auction this weekend that has three train sets among the objects to be auctioned. I gave her a price I'd be willing to pay if she can get them for me at that price. I'm not sure just what they are, but at least two of the three look to be Lionels from the tiny pictures on her phone. -30-
Wed Nov 20 2019 08:05PM - Once again it looked rather dismal on the bands. There was more activity than usual but it seemed everyone was in a net, chasing DX, or calling CQ for another club of which I am not a member. Finally I did find a regular CQ. It was my friend Bob NR8M whom I've worked 20 times before. We had another of our usual good rag chews that lasted 27 minutes with virtually solid copy all the way.
Now at 8:30PM I'll be going back to the shack to try to get a QSO in our monthly NAQCC sprint. Hope I can find someone to copy through my local noise.
It was a pretty nice day today for this time of year with a high in the upper 40s and no precipitation.
Other than helping my neighbor fix his front doorknob and latch, I didn't do anything out of the ordinary. -30-
Tue Nov 19 2019 07:58PM - On quite a few evenings of late I have been pretty sure that my long streak of making a QSO in the 0000Z hour was going to end. However so far something always happens to keep that streak going and in turn of course keeps the big main streak going as well. I think it's a great example of never giving up and keeping on going. Tonight I just couldn't find any one calling CQ, and in between searching I called a lot of CQs myself with no answers. At 0032Z though, my friend NW2Z Robert down in NC answered my CQ on 80 meters and we had about a 20 minute chat. With my strong local noise, I often have to switch antennas to get the best signal to noise ratio. Tonight there was a big difference in antennas. I had a lot of trouble copying Robert at first using my 6 meter dipole on receive. That antenna often gives me the best s/n ratio on 80 so I use it a lot for rcv on that band. However tonight when I tried switching to my 10 meter dipole, Robert's signal jumped right out of the noise for about 95-100% copy the rest of the QSO.
I think it's getting close to time for recharging my battery. Tonight it started at 12.6 volts which meant that each of the last 4 nights, it's started one tenth volt lower. It then quickly dropped to 12.4 volts, then settled at 12.3 volts where it finished. For the first time it dropped below 12 volts on transmitting at 11.9 volts. So it's definitely slipping away after 15 evenings of an average of 30-40 minutes activity each evening. That should be plenty of power for a parkpedition lasting 4-5 hours when we go portable this coming spring. Not bad for a 1.4 pound battery that compares well with my 15 pound SLA behemoth, and will be much easier to carry around on a portable outing. -30-
Mon Nov 18 2019 07:56PM - This was one of those busy days that I like. I'm not much for sitting around doing nothing, and I certainly didn't do that much today. It started off with my laundry as most Monday mornings do. Next I had some business to take care of at the bank like my annual IRA distribution. Then this afternoon I decided with the nice partly cloudy mild weather with calm wind to rake the leaves in the back yard. Some cleaning up around the house of various things passed some more time for me. All that plus the usual walking Roscoe, eating, etc. pretty much filled up the day till 0000Z.
When I turned on the rig I found the bands even more empty than usual. About the only thing on 80 was a small pileup chasing some DX I didn't bother to find out who it was. 40 was empty also except strangely for a very strong FM5BH who was chasing some other DX. With 40 and 80 out of the picture, I went to 160 and bingo! My first CQ yielded a great 32 minute almost solid QSO with Bill VE3AUI. I may have to be using 160 a bit more often this winter if the other bands don't improve soon.
I think the battery is about due for a recharging. It started at 12.7 tonight and quickly faded to 12.6 then 12.5 where it stayed during the long QSO. I think I'll wait till it drops into the 11 volt range before recharging. It has internal protection against discharging too far as well as charging too much. -30-
Sun Nov 17 2019 07:54PM - I was surprised to hear (see) several good signals topping my noise level on 40 meters this evening. The couple I did ID were coming in on a N-S path. I called one, but he answered another PA station calling him. I hope the signals are an indication of things to come on 40. It's been a long time since I worked anyone on 40, or on any band but 80 for that matter.
Tonight on 80 it was WK0B in MN whom I worked. It was a little rough copy but we did exchange the basic info plus the wx to make it a legit QSO to add to the streak.
As for the weather, last night when I went out to get my temperature readings, the door to the shelter just about came off in my hands. One of the two hinges had come loose, so I latched it up as best I could for the night. I checked this morning and the two screws holding the hinge had apparently just rusted away over the years. So I got out my portable drill and drilled two holes through the hinge and door, and re-attached the hinge with a couple 6-32 brass bolts and nuts. I don't think it will come loose any time soon now.
Other than that, nothing much else out of the ordinary today. I kept an eye on some football scores, primarily my Oakland Raiders score. They won. I also followed the NASCAR championship race at Homestead, FL hoping Kyle Bush would win and he did along with the season championship in the process. So it was a good sports day for me.
I also played with my trains. I lubricated Mike's locomotive that he left here for me to use until he comes back again the next time which should be the day before Thanksgiving for our trip to the Requin. -30-
Sat Nov 16 2019 07:32PM - One easy contest QSO tonight. After I determined that the LZ contest was an open one, that is you didn't need to work LZ stations exclusively, I worked N9UA on 80 meters for my streak QSO. Otherwise it may have been tough as there wasn't much activity other than in the contest or the net stations.
I lost another tenth of a volt from the battery tonight despite only being active around 15 minutes. It closed at 12.6 volts. I think it shuts down somewhere in the 11-12 volt range, and the KX3 is good for lower than that. I'll have to check the LiFePo4 manual to see just what the shutdown voltage is. I should still have a few more days before anything happens.
Nothing much else going on today. I did go with my cousin to visit some relatives' graves in our local cemetery. Also I did some more wheel cleaning on my HO rolling stock. -30-
Fri Nov 15 2019 07:55PM - I made a couple QSOs tonight by calling CQ. Both were subject to QSB and QRN, but lasted long enough to count. First was KB0HXL in MN who was using a 1929 Hartley Oscillator rig with the usual frequency jumping which made it hard to copy when the QSB and QRN is thrown in also. Next was NR8M who was strong when he called, but then QSB and my local QRN pretty much wiped him out. Still the streak goes on. Both QSOs were in the 0000Z hour on 80 meters.
I decided to chart the progress of my battery in an Excel spreadsheet, and here is a screen dump of the pertinent portion of the worksheet:
As you see, it is discharging very slowly from night to night, then recharging itself somehow for the next day.
I did some wheel cleaning on my HO rolling stock today. A couple of the wheels were really dirty. I don't think I cleaned them when I got the cars. They are clean now, and I think it improved performance to the point of cutting a second or so off the laps. I still have a few to do yet. I'm also doing a lot of studying of Lionel's TMCC, Legacy, LionChief with the intention of upgrading my conventional setup to one of them, probably Legacy. -30-
Thu Nov 14 2019 08:47PM - A quick QSO this evening as 80 seemed in better shape than the past few evenings with lots of signals, not overly strong, but well above my noise level. I found WQ9H calling CQ not long after I turned on the rig and at 0001Z I had my streak QSO in the log.
The battery perfored exactly as the past couple evenings although I only gave it about a 15 minute workout tonight. I was torn between staying on the air or going back to work on an HO engine I was working on. The engine won out. -30-
Wed Nov 13 2019 07:59PM - I thought for sure my 0000Z hour streak was coming to an end this evening. 80 was virtually dead except for a couple stations chasing DX and a couple other weak stations. I tried 160 and it had a few stations, but only one calling CQ whom I answered, but he couldn't copy me at all. So I went back to 80 and found one strong signal seemingly ending a QSO. I wasn't sure though, and I went up a few hundred Hz and called CQ. After a couple CQs, the station (K4OY) answered me at 0048Z, and we had one solid round before QSB took over and he lost me in the noise. It was a QSO though and both the big streak and the 0000Z streak go on another day.
As far as the battery goes, it acted pretty much the same as last night, starting at 12.9 volts and dropping quickly to 12.8, winding up at 12.7. So after 10 days, it still has a pretty good charge left.
We didn't come close to setting a low temperature record this morning, although many other locations did break some long standing records for a cold November 13th. Nearby Butler PA bottomed out at 6 degrees which was the lowest I saw anywhere in PA. Butler is only about 25-30 miles from here, but we never got lower than 19 degrees, at least on my AcuRite remote unit which usually tracks my mercury thermometer within a degree or so. I will be interested in seeing what the mercury thermometer low was when I go out at 9PM to check. -30-
Tue Nov 12 2019 08:13PM - After yesterday's busy day, today was rather quiet. It was sad also. We had our first s#$wfall of the season much too early. Fortunately only about a half inch on the ground. It will definitely stay overnight though as it is now 24 degrees heading for a possible daily record low of 12 by sunrise tomorrow.
After a couple days of pretty good conditions, the bands were pretty empty this evening. It took a while, about 10 minutes, to find and work Joe AA9IK on 80 meters. Then the QSO ended prematurely in QSB and QRN, mostly this end.
The battery report for tonight: It showed 12.9 as I turned the rig on, then very quickly dropped to 12.8 and wound up at 12.7 after a half hour of activity. That's a loss of just four tenths of a volt in 9 days with an average of 30-40 minutes activity each day. It was around this point in the previous cycle that it started dropping a bit more quickly each day. We'll see if that repeats this cycle. -30-
Mon Nov 11 2019 07:43PM - I hope you all had a happy Veterans Day. Actually more importantly, I hope you did something to honor those living and dead veterans who have helped to keep our nation the great one that it is. Something like visiting the grave of a fallen hero, attending a parade or other event that honored veterans, or flew a flag to show your love of country and honoring those who have helped make it a country worth loving. Personally with no veterans events in town, I did the latter and flew the flag that draped my dad's coffin back in 1964. He served in World War II.
Mike and I had our annual Veterans Day get together today, and I could write a book about the day instead of just a short diary entry. I did want Mike to be a ghost writer, but we got so busy we both forgot about it. I remembered after he was gone a short while ago, but it was too late then.
Mike arrived shortly after 9AM and we began our projects. First up was making up a couple banana plugs for charging Mike's LiPo batteries. That worked out well, and we let the two batteries charge while we moved on to other projects.
My neighbor wanted to know some info about bicycles and wondered if Mike could answer some questions for him. Mike is the one person I know who knows the most about bicycles. We went over there next and while they talked bicycles, I played with Roscoe.
Next on the agenda was looking at one of Mike's HO engines, mainly to see if the smoke unit would work in it. It did, but only somewhat intermittently. I thought maybe the smoke pumper in the engine had a problem, but we didn't delve into it any more then. Later in the day we did lubricate the engine which helped it run a little smoother, but that did nothing to the smoker.
We were going to wait till after I walked Roscoe to go to the Indiana train shop, but Bruce's brother came and took care of Roscoe. So we left a bit early. We had a great time browsing around the shop. Mike bought a Lionel NYC locomotive which was a combo AC/DC/DCC powered unit. It's a 4-6-4 Hudson steamer. He also got some oil/grease/steam fluid. I got a Lionel catalog and some track cleaner.
Next it was time to (naturally) eat. I miss the Long John Silver's we used to have in Kittanning, so I suggested going to the one in Indiana before we came home. That was a great choice. We both got a fish/chicken/shrimp platter with sides of coleslaw and french fries. Mmmmmm. I sure wish the one here in town hadn't closed down.
Back to Kittanning again. Naturally to play with Mike's new Lionel locomotive. It is really neat. We had to run it as an AC unit, but it still had some great sounds, among them the steam engine chuffing sound. It smoked very nicely. Actually so much smoke I though maybe my smoke detector would go off, but it didn't. We did have a bit of a problem getting it to start till we discovered the electrical connection between loco and tender wasn't making good contact. We seated the plug more firmly and after that it ran great.
Next a video about the restoration of the Santa Fe locomotive #2926, and some videos about Big Boy going through Texas on its Southwest Tour.
Mike had to go home after that and we closed out another great day. Mostly a train day, although the batteries will be used by Mike on our portable operations next year.
It took a little while to get my QSO, but after a bit, WB3AVF answered my CQ to keep the streak going. As far as my battery, it was the same as last night, starting at 12.9 and ending at 12.8 after a half hour or so of activity. -30-
Sun Nov 10 2019 07:49PM - Well, my battery finally lost one tenth of a volt since it was charged 6 days ago and used an average of 30-40 minutes each evening powering my KX3 and PX3. Tonight it started at 12.9 and ended at 12.8. Not bad for a total of 3 to 4 days of use.
Tonight I had the latest of many good QSOs with Bill W9ZN out in Chicago. He worked in broadcasting as I also have. Tonight though we talked mostly about the weather for 28 minutes on 80 meters.
I'm doing my laundry as I type so I won't have to bother with it tomorrow while Mike is visiting for the day. He said he'll be arriving around 9AM and we have enough projects scheduled to keep us busy most of the day. I'll have a report in the diary tomorrow night. Maybe I can get Mike to do one of his ghost-writing entries for me. -30-
Sat Nov 9 2019 08:16PM - My battery got a good workout tonight with almost a full hour of activity. After a quick hello-goodby 4 minute QSO at 0001Z, I called CQ and got into a 46 minute rag chew with K8AI in MI on 80 meters. As it has done the past 3 nights now, the battery started at 13.0 and wound up at 12.9 volts. However there was some flickering down to 12.8 just before I shut the rig off, but it ended at a solid 12.9.
An interesting football day with two pairs of undefeated teams facing off leaving two fewer undefeated of course. Those two being Penn State and Alabama. I think after today, it looks like the playoffs might feature Ohio State and LSU facing off. We'll have to wait and see though. That's why they play the games.
I did a little work on my Lionel Berkshire loco today. It was hiccuping on the track now and then. I figured the brushes must be worn to the point they weren't making good contact with the commutator so I replaced them and it seems to work fine again now. Mike and I are hoping to go to a model train shop in Indiana, PA on Monday to look around. We've been there a couple times before and always enjoy looking around and talking with the owner and crew there. -30-
Fri Nov 8 2019 07:39PM - Same old same old tonight. Horrible conditions or lack of much activity whichever applies, but I managed to eke out a QSO on 80M with W8AJU in MI. QSB was long and deep, but we did manage to stay in contact for 11 minutes before it got so bad on both ends we gave it up.
For the 3rd night in a row now, the battery started at 13.0 volts and ended at 12.9 volts after 30 or so minutes of normal activity level listening and transmitting.
It was a nice sunny day for the most part, but cold as it never got out of the 30s. Somewhat unusual for early November. I hope that's not a harbinger of how the winter is going to be. At least the predicted s@#w flurries never showed up today, and that was good. I bundled up and went downtown for some shopping for me and my neighbor.
I'm looking forward to spending the day on Monday with Mike. We have a few radio and railroad projects planned along with a good meal or two somewhere. -30-
Thu Nov 7 2019 08:13PM - A rainy day today which at this time of year is much better than a s#$wy day. We still may get a few lake effect flurries tonight, but the cold air today didn't arrive quick enough to change the rain to s#$w. Thank goodness.
The bands really sounded dead around 0000Z tonight. I did hear a PJ2 (PJ2ND) on 30 meters, but so weak I wouldn't have been able to hear if he answered me or not, so I didn't call. Instead I went back to 80 and found joe KC0VKN in IA calling CQ and we had a 14 minute QSO, mostly solid copy. After that I called some CQs, mostly on 20 and a few on 80 to round out a half hour of activity to keep the battery going. It was the same as last night, starting at 13.0 and finishing at 12.9. So it does continue to hold its charge to my satisfaction. -30-
Wed Nov 6 2019 08:00PM - A rather quick QSO at 0006Z with K1VZI in NH on 80M, so the streak goes on. The battery went from 13.0 to 12.9 after a half hour of activity, most of it transmitting.
I hadn't been keeping up on astronomical events lately and just noticed today that there is a transit of Mercury on Monday. So weather permitting, Mike and I will have something else to look forward to when we get together. However the weather as of now doesn't look all that good with rain/s#$w predicted from overcast skies. There is a few hour window for the event though so maybe we'll get a break as we did with the Venus transit several years ago.
As for model railroading, I made a little stand today to hold my DC and DCC controllers as well as the switch to go back and forth between them. It works nicely and makes switching locos a little quicker and easier.
Roscoe went to the vet today for a checkup of a couple issues and got a clean bill of health again. The vet said he should lose at least a couple of pounds though. We'll have to cut back a bit on the treats and people food, I guess. -30-
Tue Nov 5 2019 08:07PM - Kind of a busy day today. I went to vote twice today. No, no, I didn't vote twice, but our voting place had changed and I wasn't aware of it until the building was locked the first time I went to vote. So I came back home and my neighbor Bruce found out the new place for me. So the second time I actually got to cast my vote.
Later on I did some train work. Some of my older locos weren't running so well with my new DCC controller. I added a switch to go back and forth between DCC and DC depending on which loco I am running. Now all is well with the HO setup.
This evening I actually made two QSOs. I had a somewhat short QSO at first, and I wanted to use the battery some more, so I called CQ and got a second QSO. All in all I put in about 40-45 minutes. The battery dropped from 13.1 to 13.0 and is still following the first test cycle very closely. I continue to be happy with it.
I sure hate the changing back to standard time. It gets dark so early now and it seems like an eternity from sunset till bedtime at midnight. It doesn't matter to me at all that there is an hour more daylight in the mornings now since I don't get up all that early. Every year I ask this question, "Why is it called Daylight Savings Time?" There is no saving involved, only some shifting of light from evening to morning. Seems to me it should be called Daylight Shifting Time. Also why is June 21 (or so) called the longest day of the year? All days are about 24 hours in length, or to be a bit more precise, 23 hours and 56 minutes or so.
And to close, I owe some comments about the guestbook entry I mentioned in the previous diary entry. If you read the guestbook as I suggested, you'll know it was posted by Eddy KZ5EHN who was in the Canal Zone at that time and now apparently living in Switzerland. I emailed him and told him I remembered the call sign and the QSO very well. Mainly because it was only my second ever DX QSO after VP7ACF in the Bahamas. He returned another email today and said, "Am honored to see you remember me. The 15 meter 2 element monoband beam was about 3 feet above the flat roof of the 2 story townhouse. ☺️ Took me a bit longer to get rid of the N." I had mentioned I was also a novice for our QSO, but got "rid of my N" not long after our QSO. His N was at the end of his call while mine of course was before the number 3. Also back in the novice days, I think Puerto Rico novices used WP4 calls, and changed to KP4 after advancing in license class. I remember working WP4BOW around the same time I worked KZ5EHN. That was my first venture onto 15 meters and the last for a while as the neighbors still had the old TV sets that used the 21 MHz IF frequency. Need I say more. -30-
Mon Nov 4 2019 08:01PM - I got an interesting signing in my guestbook today. I'll let you read it, then comment on it in tomorrow's diary entry.
I decided to recharge my LiFePo4 battery today and check it out through another cycle. I put it on the charger for about 6 hours, and it measured near the end of the charging cycle and also just after disconnecting the charger at 14.4 volts. Later in the day when I connected it to the KX3 and PX3 it immediately dropped to 13.8 volts. After using the KX3/PX3 for just a few minutes or less, it dropped to 13.0 volts and stayed there through 33 minutes of operating in a nice long rag chew with K8CIT. Actually it fluctuated slightly between 13.0 and 12.9 while listening in the QSO, but settled at 13.0 at the end of the QSO. While I was transmitting it dropped to 12.6 or 12.7. That was very similar to my first cycle which started back on October 23 although for the first few days then I didn't connect the PX3 to the battery. Also that cycle included a Requin operation on October 24. On this cycle I plan to stick with about a half hour of normal operating each evening with a representative mix of listening and transmitting. I'll measure the voltage when I first turn on the KX3/PX3 and just before I turn them off. -30-
Sun Nov 3 2019 07:35PM - As always, a great day when Mike and I get together. We left Kittanning at 8:30AM and arrived at the WACOM hamfest in Washington, PA around 10:00AM. We could have gotten there sooner, but we had some problems with Mike's GPS and wound up on a couple unintended detours on the way. We spent a couple hours there with other Chapter members WC3O, WB3FAE, and WV8TG. We also saw Art WA3BKD from the Requin who said things look good now for our day before Thanksgiving subpedition. We didn't buy anything, but Mike won a couple gift certificates as a door prize drawing winner. Here are the obligatory hamfest pictures that go with these comments on our WPA Chapter activities.
Top L-R: General view of the hamfest. The ham in the center of the right picture is Art WA3BKD.
Bottom L-R: Candid shot of K3WWP and WB3FAE discussing something while waiting for the next picture to be set up. Then John K3WWP, Tom WB3FAE, Mike KC2EGL, Bob WC3O.
On the way home, Mike and I stopped at a different place to eat, the Olive Garden. I had a sampler lunch with calamari, stuffed mushrooms and lasagna. Mike had the "Tour of Italy". We both enjoyed the meals and headed back here. Among other things, we got in the SS where Mike made 10 QSOs. I didn't try to make any. We also watched some train videos. I walked Roscoe a couple times, and both times he ran right up my steps into my house and up on Mike's lap for a couple little biscuit treats.
I got a SS QSO just after 0000Z for my streak from K1XM. Shortly after that Mike headed home after we made a couple plans for our next get together on Veterans Day. That wrapped up a great day. Seems odd that my streak QSO still comes in the 0000Z hour, but now at 7PM instead of 8PM as we went back to standard time now. Speaking of that, all my clocks are set correctly now except my pedometer which I'll set later tonight. -30-
Sat Nov 2 2019 08:26PM - Of course with the SS contest, my QSO came quickly and easily this evening. For the record, it was NM2O who gave me 140 A NM2O 67 NNY as his exchange. After that I called CQ on 30 for about 6-7 minutes just to get some more info on battery drain. It started at 12.5 volts, up a volt or two from shut down last night. It ended at the usual of late two tenths of a volt down at 12.3 volts. So like the Eveready bunny, it is still going although slowing down a bit.
I've changed most of my 20 some clocks that required manual resetting. Most of the rest will set themselves automatically overnight. Then I'll check in the morning to see if I missed any or if any of the automatic ones really aren't.
Pretty nice weather today although a bit chilly with a high only around 50 or so. Tomorrow should be about the same for our trip to the WACOM hamfest. -30-
Fri Nov 1 2019 08:52PM - We survived the heavy rain and high winds last night. I walked around town today for a bit and only noticed several stray garbage cans, a lot of small limbs, and one big limb maybe 10 inches in diameter on the ground. We had 1.86 inches of rain. October was a warm wet month. Our average temperature was about 5 degrees above normal and precipitation about twice the October normal.
My battery voltage is holding up pretty good but slowly slipping away. Tonight it started at 12.6 volts and wound up after a 4 minute QSO and 20 minutes of CQs at 12.3. However I left the rig in rcv mode after I stopped calling CQ and the voltage recovered to 12.4 volts. My train friend Lane said his experience with LiFePo4 batteries seems to indicate they discharge slowly at first, then when they get to a certain point, the discharge picks up. That seems to be what I'm experiencing here.
Mike and I are going to probably our last hamfest of 2019 this Sunday. It's the WACOM hamfest in Washington, PA. We've been there a couple times before and it's a nice little gathering sort of like the one near Butler in Unionville, PA but perhaps a bit bigger. Hopefully we'll see some of our ham friends there and maybe find a bargain or two. Then we'll spend some time here doing ham or train stuff plus having a meal, of course. -30-
Thu Oct 31 2019 09:10PM - Very windy here right now. I hope we don't lose power. Just under a couple inches of rain today before the front and the wind came.
At least I got in my QSO in the form of a 29 minute rag chew with AB2OE in VA on 80M.
And that's it for tonight's diary entry. -30-
Wed Oct 30 2019 08:35PM - I got one of those right at 0000Z QSOs tonight after I was worried I wasn't going to get any QSOs at all. I got to the shack a couple minutes early and found nothing at all on 80 meters. However just as the clock turned over to 0000Z, I noticed a tiny blip on the PX3 screen and tuned to it. It was KM2KM calling CQ. I answered him and we had about a 10 minute QSO to keep my streak going.
Since I got the QSO so quickly, I decided to see if I could stress out my LiFePo battery a bit. First let me post a follow up email I sent to KJ4R after I heard back from him again.
"Hi Eddie, Here’s a bit more info about the battery. I note the voltage at the start and end of each evening session in the 0000Z hour. Maybe 20 or so minutes of transmitting out of each session.
For the past week now, I’ve started at 13.0 or 12.9 volts and ended at 12.9, 12.8. or 12.7 volts. Kind of amazing. It seems to recharge those losses of a couple tenths of a volt each day and I start anew the next evening. It’s not plugged into any charging device of any kind. Must be something in the chemistry of the Lithium, Iron, and Phosphate that does it. It will be interesting to see how long this continues that way."
Tonight once again the battery started out at 12.9 volts. However it did quickly drop to 12.8, and after the 10 minute QSO it was at 12.7/12.6 flashing between the two voltages. At 0013Z I went to 20 meters knowing I could call CQ there without getting any answers. I started my recorded CQ which consists of CQ CQ CQ DE K3WWP K3WWP K followed by 4 seconds of silence for a total of 19 seconds or three reps per minute. I let that run continuously for 17 minutes. At the end, the voltage was still 12.6 volts. I think I have a winner which although maybe not as long lasting as my big (heavy at 15 pounds) SLA battery, it is much easier to carry around at just 1.4 pounds. -30-
Tue Oct 29 2019 06:08PM - OK, now here's the portable info I referred to last night. That will be followed by some info about my LiFePo battery I got a couple weeks or so ago.
Don VA3BOW describes his portable station as follows:
"I use a Spiderbeam 40 feet (12 metre) fiberglass telescopic pole. I insert about 2 feet from an old fishing rod in the tip of this pole to attach my antenna. I support the 40 foot pole upright using a pvc pipe with 4 cargo straps. I learned how to do this thanks to Tracy - VE3TWM who published a video titled: The Fastest and Easiest Way to Deploy a Fiberglass Mast here about 8 minutes long.
My antenna is a Par EndFedz® EFT-10/20/40 Trail Friendly Antenna now available here
I installed my Par EFHW antenna in a vertical/sloper configuration on my Spiderbeam pole. I still use a sealed lead acid (SLAB) battery. The power behind my operation is the wonderful Elecraft KX3
I hope this is helpful. 73 and God bless, Don VA3BOW
p.s. I don’t think I did too badly for an 80 year old."
Thanks very much Don. I'm sure my readers will appreciate the info.
I've gotten quite a bit of interest in my new LiFePo battery. The latest was an email about it from Eddie KJ4R. Here is a copy of my reply to him:
"The company is Bioennopower. The battery I got is: here
12V, 6Ah LFP Battery (PVC, BLF-1206A) is the model number and data.
You’ll need a charger to go with it as the LiFePo batteries need a special charger.
Both battery and suitable charger are available on the same page above.
I got mine off of Ebay for some reason I don't recall exactly now. I believe because Bioennopower wouldn’t take Pay Pal and that’s the only way I buy online."
I hope that will be helpful. Although I haven't used it very long now, I am extremely happy with it, especially how long it stays charged. Tom WB3FAE has used one for several weeks at least, and he says pretty much the same thing about it. -30-
Mon Oct 28 2019 08:35PM - It was tough but after a few minutes we did exchange enough info for a good QSO. That was with AA2YK in NY on 80M. Ernie's a QRPer, and I imagine he was running QRP for our QSO. It's rough to copy QRP with my high local QRN unfortunately.
I used some comments from Don VA3BOW in my diary entry last night in which he mentioned his portable operations. I got an email today in which he described his QRP portable setup. I'll use that for tomorrow's diary entry.
It was a beautiful late October day today. A large portion of the day you couldn't find even a trace of a cloud in the sky and the bright Sun did its best to warm it up to around 70 degrees. I did some walking, pulled my last garden plant, sat out on my porch, sat on my neighbor's porch with him and Roscoe, among other outside activities. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice also but with some increasing clouds as some rain approaches for later this week. -30-
Sun Oct 27 2019 07:18PM - I got a response to my comments about "poor conditions" in last night's diary, and I'd like to share it with you. I have permission to do so. Here goes from Don VA3BOW:
You mentioned in your diary that “I think a lot of the "poor conditions" are just the lack of folks on the bands because they think they won't be able to work anyone if they do get on.”
Yesterday, Saturday, October 26th, I set up my portable station near Moncton, NB, Canada while visiting family. The CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB was running. Because it was so cold I was only on for a short time. In that time I made 2 DX contacts. One with DJ5MW - Manfred Wolf, in Germany on 14.165 using only 5 Watts.
My second contact was with YU5R - Ljubisa Lui Petrovic in Serbia on 14.241 with 10 Watts.
To get two DX contacts with my KX3 using QRP power and under the current conditions was great. The bands are still working “if they do get on.”
Of course I don't work SSB or even listen to it, but I am sure that the bands were very alive with signals in the contest. Contesters are the ones who know that the bands will be active in contests and they "do get on" for sure no matter what the propagation reports are. Thanks Don for adding support to my comments. -30-
Sat Oct 26 2019 08:59PM - The bands sure sounded poor tonight although I did hear a N7 station on 30M. He heard me but not well enough to copy me. I called a lot of CQs on 80 with no results, but finally I heard W2PL strong and calling CQ. He was Phil in TN and we had a solid 23 minute QSO. Again I think a lot of the "poor conditions" are just the lack of folks on the bands because they think they won't be able to work anyone if they do get on. That's just not so as I keep saying. Please give it a try and get the bands active again.
The LiFePo battery is still holding its own. In about 50 minutes of the CQs and the QSO in between, the battery started at 12.9 volts and ended at 12.8 volts which is pretty much exactly the same as the past 3 evenings now.
It was a rainy day today and I had to walk Roscoe in between the rain drops. I also got in a walk for some groceries as well. Tomorrow is supposed to be the same as well. My neighbor's brother and I may take a trip to the mall to get some supplies for his brother, me, and Roscoe also. I guess especially Roscoe. HI.
I watched more football today than I have in some time. At my neighbor's house. We watched Ohio State - Wisconsin and Penn State - Michigan State. Some computer rankings have Ohio State the top team in the country and they looked like it today. Penn State the past couple weeks has been the "Tale of Two Halves". They look great in the first half, then it seems like another team takes the field after halftime. They almost gave the last two games away that way, but did hold on to win both. One of my favorites, the Oklahoma Sooners lost their first game today to Kansas State after being favored by around 23 points. That was disappointing for me and probably puts them out of the playoffs at season's end. -30-
Fri Oct 25 2019 08:41PM - I found it interesting that several solar reporting sources are saying the same thing I said in my diary a few days ago. That is the SF of 64 represents just about the lowest value since SF records have been kept. There are slight discrepancies about just how low it can go. There is such a thing as an adjusted flux that somehow takes into account the varying distance between the Earth and Sun and other such things. Using the adjustment, SF values as low as the low to mid 63s have been recorded. It's all a very complicated story. The bottom line is that seemingly it doesn't really matter how low it has been, it is still very possible to get on the bands and make contacts. I think I've proved that with my streak which has gone through a few sunspot minimums without missing a beat. So don't get discouraged. Just fire up the rig and make those contacts.
I'm getting more and more pleased with my new LiFePo battery. Tonight I hooked up both the KX3 and PX3 to it and with calling CQ and a 7 minute QSO in a little over a half hour, the voltage only dropped from 12.9 to 12.8. Overall since the initial quick drop to 13.0 volts a few days ago including the session on the Requin, it's only dropped a total of two tenths of a volt without any additional charging.
We took some pictures of the subpedition yesterday, and I'll show a couple here:
At top a view of the "sail" with the Pittsburgh skyline in the background. The vertical antenna can be seen pretty well mounted on the sail. Below that our setup in the radio room with more or less left to right. Me holding my patriotic pen waiting to log a QSO. The log with my pedometer clock on top. Mike's PX3. His KX3. The white object is an external speaker so visitors to the sub could hear the Morse code. Mike's Begali paddle in the lower right corner. -30-
Thu Oct 24 2019 08:54PM - Requin day began around 08:45AM EDT when I arrived at John's QTH. Shortly thereafter we departed to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. We encountered heavier than normal traffic on this trip. We arrived at the Science center around 10:00AM EDT. We met Art WA3BKD who was waiting for us topside of the sub. We quickly went below to set up for our days operations. After set up we quickly got down to business. Unfortunately it was slow going. We made 19 QSO's over roughly 5 hours. Thanks to all who answered our call. As usual we had some very good public interaction. John has a story to add about Drew who is only 5 years old. After we tore down we headed back to John's QTH where we watched a nice selection of railroad videos on Steam Locomotives. After our viewning pleasue we had dinner. A pizza from Vocelli's. Then we played a hidden object game followed by me ghost writing for John this evening. During the hidden object game John snuck upstairs for his daily QSO. He logged W9VC. John is now rearranging his HO railroad set after (accidentally) playing Godzilla derailing a train.
OK, the train is back on track now, so let me add my comments to Mike's
I especially wanted to talk about Drew, but let me add a couple other things first. I continue to be pleased with my new LiFePo battery. It started at 13.0 volts and after about 3 hours of virtual constant transmitting, it wound up at 12.9 volts. I think it will be great for our 4-5 hour parkpeditions. I haven't tried it running both the KX3 and PX3 together yet. Today it was just the KX3, but the current drain on the PX3 is a lot less than on the KX3. Mike has his KX3 programmed to send CQ DE NY3EC K, and with a 4 second space between CQs that's about 13 seconds for each cycle which means 60 seconds/13 times 60 minutes = ~276 CQs each hour x about 3 hours = ~830 unanswered CQs today which is a lot of transmitting which means a pretty good strain on the battery. That it only dropped one tenth of a volt is great.
Not long after we started today a group of seventh graders came through the sub, and I was impressed with their behaviour and friendliness. Virtually all of them gave us a smile and a hello or hi as they passed by. I was mostly just logging for Mike today and I only made 3 of the 19 QSOs so that gave me more time to talk to those visiting the sub.
Later on I was really impressed by 5 year old Drew. He was very interested in this means of communication called Morse Code and how we were using it. He asked how it worked and I told him about the dahs and dits. I asked him his name and explained how Drew would be sent. Then we got to talking about who we were talking to with the code. I read the names and states on the log, and he said he knew some people in NC. He thought a minute and then gave me their names. We talked about some other things one being how old he was and he told me his birthday. It turned out it was the same day as my mother's and he got a big kick out of that. Just remember this is a five year old kid. Smart, polite, talked very clearly with good grammar, friendly, and a real joy just to talk with him. His mother, who was with him should really be proud to have a kid like that. After they left, I said to Mike wouldn't it be great if there were a lot more kids like him. Later when Art stopped by, he had also been talking with Drew and said he was asking a lot of questions about other aspects of the sub also.
It was a really great day. Thanks Mike for the day and the ghost writing of the diary entry. -30-
Wed Oct 23 2019 08:47PM - My new LiFePo battery started at 13.1 volts tonight and after about 15 minutes of rag chewing and 15 minutes of calling CQ, it wound up at 13.0 volts. I'm happy with that. I think I'll see if Mike wants to use it to run his KX3 on the sub tomorrow to give it a real workout. We're only taking his rig since we can only operate one band at a time on the sub.
Pretty much a quiet day today. It was a bit cooler with a high of 61 and quite breezy to make it seem even cooler. It's supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow as we head to Pittsburgh. -30-
Tue Oct 22 2019 08:30PM - Still wonder just how long I can keep on getting my streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. Actually it's 7 straight months I've been doing it now. It seems difficult every night unless there is a contest, special event, etc. going on, but still I seem to manage to find someone, mostly on 80M, and am able to work them. I think the biggest problem is this horrid local noise. Most folks I work are able to copy my minimal QRP solidly while I often have to struggle to copy them solidly. Oh well, it continues to prove my point that QRP, CW, and simple wire antennas do work and work well with a little effort.
I received my LiFePo battery today and hooked it up to the charger for about 3 hours. The initial voltage was 14.3-14.4 volts. When I connected it to my KX3 later, it read 13.7-13.8 volts. After a lot of transmitting calling CQ and chatting with Tony N2ATB, the voltage was 13.0 volts. I don't know if that is normal or not. When it did hit 13.0 volts, it seemed to hold steady there.
Not much else happening today other than I cut my hair and shaved. Otherwise it was a rainy day with nothing out of the usual daily routine. No, I don't shave every day, only about every 4-5 days. Lazy, I guess. HI.
Tomorrow will be another run of the mill day before heading to Pittsburgh and the USS Requin on Thursday. It will be nice to have a day like that again. Oh, we'll be on 7040.5 and 14060.5, one at a time depending on conditions. The Requin has only one antenna. -30-
Mon Oct 21 2019 08:34PM - A nice day again today with sunny skies and a high right around 70. Hard to beat that this time of year. I spent a lot of time outside walking and sitting on the porch.
The solar flux is just about at rock bottom today. A value of 64 is just about as low as it goes. I have seen some 63s in the past, but I can't recall anything lower than that although I could be wrong and I don't feel like going through my propagation Excel spreadsheet to check right now.
Still it wasn't that hard to get a QSO this evening after I did find someone calling CQ at 0009Z. It was WB0GKH in WI on 80M. We had a good rag chew at around 20-22 WPM for 19 minutes. Copy was pretty good both ways. Actually I think Mitch was copying me a little better than I was copying his 100 watts in my local noise here.
I checked with Art on the USS Requin this evening and he said it's a go for our subpedition on Thursday. Mike and I will be there to start operating at 1400Z if all goes well, and we'll stay for 3 or 4 hours depending on activity. -30-
Sun Oct 20 2019 07:44PM - I am just sitting here waiting for 0000Z to come so I can head to the shack. To pass the time I was just thinking of some of the greatest football games I have seen. In no particular order, here are some of them.
The "Sea of Hands" game. The Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins in a see-saw battle that ended with Ken Stabler throwing a pass just as he was being tackled to Clarence Davis who caught the ball among several Miami defenders just as time was running out to give the Raiders a 28-26 victory.
"The Pass" game in which Doug Flutie of Boston College threw a Hail Mary pass to receiver and roommate Gerard Phelan to beat the Miami Hurricanes. The ball travelled 64-65 yards in the air.
"The Comeback" game in which backup quarterback Frank Reich of the Buffalo Bills led them to a comeback victory over the Houston Oilers after trailing by 32 points in the third quarter.
The "Ghost to the Post" featuring Ken Stabler (again) passing to Dave Casper (Casper the Friendly Ghost) to end the third longest NFL game in overtime against the Baltimore Colts.
There are several more. Maybe I'll list them another time, but right now it's time to head to the shack to look to extend my streak.
That was quick. I forgot about the IL QSO Party and worked K9NR right after I sat down at the rig. So that gives me time to do and finish my laundry before the 9:30PM Roscoe walk now. -30-
Sat Oct 19 2019 08:33PM - As those of you who have followed my streak for a long time know, I have never and never will make a sked with someone for the purpose of continuing the streak. I just wanted to make that clear because tonight Rob KN4IXU in NC wanted a sked to work me. Since he initiated the request for a sked, that doesn't go against my rule about not making skeds to continue the streak. It was a rough QSO, but we made it through my noise and QSB.
The weather was nice today with lots of sunshine and a high in the upper 60s. I got in a couple of good walks, and even Roscoe on his walks wanted to stay out longer than usual. It looks like the next couple days will also be very nice.
I did a little study on programming CVs with my new DCC HO setup today. That was the first time I used my programming track and the first time I changed a CV value. I stuck to the very basics and only changed the locomotive's programming number. I think next I'll fool with changing the bell and horn sounds and the acceleration and deceleration values. There's a lot to learn even with just the very basic things that can be done with DCC. -30-
Fri Oct 18 2019 08:52PM - A couple little things came up around 0000Z tonite and delayed my getting to the shack. I thought my string of 0000Z hour QSOs might come to an end. However before the hour was up, I wound up with a great QSO. It was a pleasant surprise to have my CQ answered by Lane N8AFT over in Columbus, OH. Diary readers with a good memory will know that back in the early part of this year or maybe late last year when I was getting interested in model trains again, Lane gave me a little Pennsylvania locomotive and tender. That was the first steam loco I ever had for my HO scale setup. It was really nice to visit with him again on the air.
Otherwise today I put the PL-259 connectors on my portable coax. When I was young it was always hard for me to install the PL-259s, especially tricky to solder the braid to the connector. You know what? I found today I haven't gotten any better at it over the years. But I struggled and finally got all four put on and checked out. It looks so easy in videos or in written articles, but it's not for me. Oh, and I don't really like the solderless ones, in case you're going to suggest that. HI
Today was also a sad day. With frost predicted for tonight, I decided to take out my garden plants. I got quite a few peppers, a few tomatoes, and a couple little zucchinis from the plants today. I decided to leave one Siberian tomato plant and cover it. It has a lot of little tomatoes on it. It actually almost died earlier in the year, then started up again even better than its first life. So I'll try to keep it going a while. Time now to go out and get my weather readings and check the Siberian. Maybe cover it a bit better. -30-
Thu Oct 17 2019 08:24PM - Will we ever see a solar flux number out of the 60s again? I don't seem to recall previous sunspot minimums having such a long streak of SFs in the 60s. I know we had a couple low 70s several weeks ago, but basically it's been all 60s for a very long time now. Except for two days, the SF has been in the 60s starting May 19th this year. Almost 5 solid months. Oh well, at least it hasn't been bad enough (yet?) to put an end to my streak. Tonight I worked W3TOP in MD on 80 meters.
Once again nothing out of the ordinary to report today. It was a chilly one with strong wind making it feel much colder than the actual temperature in the upper 40s. I even got out my winter coat for my walk this evening.
I did get a pack of 10 PL-259 connectors in the mail today. I'm going to replace some of my older ones, especially those on the coax I use for portable operations.
Speaking of portable operations, a week from today Mike and I will be heading to Pittsburgh to operate from the USS Requin again. That will be the first of our monthly 4th Thursday operations from there after we had to cancel the one in September due to Mike being under the weather. -30-
Wed Oct 16 2019 08:32PM - QRP/CW continues to work despite the extended lack of sunspots and "poor" propagation. It's now approaching 7 months since I didn't get my daily streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. I wonder just how "poor" propagation really is. I think it just depends on the band and the time of day more than anything. In my case the 0000Z hour always yields a QSO, most of the days it is on 80 meters, so don't neglect that band in the evenings. Some days, the QSO comes on 40, 30, or 20 in the 0000Z hour also. The bottom line is the only real reason you may not make a QSO every day is the lack of time to get on the air or not being able to be on at the right time on the right band. I still get a kick out of getting that daily QRP/CW QSO, even after 25 years plus of doing it. And it doesn't take away from my other daily activities more than an hour at the very most.
Today was grooming day for Roscoe. He got a haircut, a good bath, and his toenails clipped which took about an hour and a half this afternoon. He really looks different now and seems to be glad to get rid of the extra hair. I haven't posted a picture of him in a while now. Maybe I'll take a picture tomorrow and post it.
I went ahead and ordered a LiFePo battery today. It's a 12V 6Ah battery like one that Tom WB3FAE has been using with his KX3 and he says the battery drain is very minimal. The one I have, as I mentioned, seems to drain very rapidly. Mine is a different kind of Li battery which may explain the difference. I'll find out in about a week or so when it arrives with its charger. -30-
Tue Oct 15 2019 09:05PM - It took a little longer to get my QSO this evening, but at 0016Z, WA2WMJ answered my 80M CQ and we had a 10 minute QSO. So the streak goes on.
Really not much else to talk about. It's sad to see the period of daylight getting shorter and shorter as the days go by. The decrease in daylight peaks at the autumnal equinox, but about three weeks later it still decreases rapidly. Then in early November we mess with the clocks and it gets dark not long after 5 PM local time. Very depressing. -30-
Mon Oct 14 2019 08:27PM - It wasn't our best parkpedition ever, but at least the weather was good if a tad chilly. 40 was the best band with about 16 QSOs, then 4 on 30, and just one on 20. I did get a chance to test my Li-ion battery pretty well with all the unanswered CQs I called. It dropped about 6 tenths of a volt in about 2 1/2 hours of calling CQ with 4 seconds of listening between each 3x2 CQ. I think that's quite a drop and I'm going to look for something that will hold its voltage longer. We did take a few pictures, but I'm not going to post any because other than a different park, they are pretty much similar to what I posted last Friday.
It took a little time to get my streak QSO tonight, but it was the first one I got via my CQ in about 8 days now when W8AJS answered my CQ on 80 meters for a 12 minute QSO. It was interesting that 30 meters had two strong signals from Colorado and nothing else that I could hear. Both were in rag chews so I couldn't try them.
Oh, up at the park today 20 meters was quite good with some strong DX. I tried to work a couple with no luck though. It would be nice if that is a sign of things to come, but I won't count on it. -30-
Sun Oct 13 2019 08:13PM - DX!! Yes, tonight's QSO was with XE1IM on 30M. An easy QSO and a quick one at 0003Z. That was good because now I can get my laundry done tonight so I'll have tomorrow morning free for final preps for our parkpedition. It should be a nice day with sunny skies and temperature in the low 60s.
We'll all three be using the QRPGuys vertical antenna. I didn't know what Ray had till he emailed a while ago and told me what he was going to use. I'm looking forward to working with Ray (and Mike of course). I hope Ray will be able to come here to my house for the nickel tour of my ham radio setup and also my model trains setup. He's never been here before. I hope we can work you tomorrow. It may be rough with the poor conditions of late, but I hope you'll at least give us a try and if you don't work us, email me and let us know you tried. Remember all three bands will be active at the same time. -30-
Sat Oct 12 2019 08:30PM - Of course a quick QSO in the PA QSO Party tonight extended the streak another day. Thanks N3AD in Lancaster County, who gave me his number 423 in the Party. I'll wind up with 1 QSO for the party. I just don't have the desire to seriously get into contests anymore. Now if I had a very quiet QTH like we had at Moraine yesterday, it might be a very different story. It is so quiet there that I was hearing Germany at around S1 on 30 meters at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. The noise level was less than S1 compared to my S9 here at home. Sigh!
I resoldered the PL-259s on my portable coax. When I was setting up yesterday I noticed a high SWR and in checking I found a bad connection in one of the PL-259s. I kind of twisted it around till I got a good contact which held the whole time we were there. I think it will be much better on Monday when we go to Kittanning Community Park. Here are the details of that parkpedition:
Date: October 14 (Monday)
Time: 1500-1900Z or so depending on activity
Location: Kittanning Community Park
Ops: K3WWP (30M) KC2EGL (40M) Ray WA3PRR (20M)
Frequencies: 7041 10117 14061
Please try to work us if you get the chance. All three frequencies +/- QRM will be active simultaneously for these two parkpeditions.
Note the new op Ray WA3PRR. We're glad to have Ray joining us for his first (of many, we hope) parkpedition. PRR by the way stands for Pennsylvania Railroad. Ray is, like me, an avid railfan and model railroader. He'll be using a KX1 rig I've loaned to him. I'm not sure what his antenna will be. Mike and I will be using the same setups mentioned in yesterday's diary entry.
I played with and learned a little more about my HO DCC setup today. I tried running two locos on the same track. It worked but is a bit tricky because my layout is so small. Also I switched out the coupler on my DCC UP loco so it is now compatible with all my other rolling stock and it can pull a sizeable consist now. Over the next few days I hope to have time to learn more about programming CVs. -30-
Fri Oct 11 2019 08:33PM - It was a good day at Moraine State Park. Beautiful weather although a bit on the windy side which made it feel a little chillier than the actual temperature in the upper 60s. Among the three of us (K3WWP, KC2EGL, WB3FAE) we made around 30 QSOs which considering how dead the bands sounded was pretty good. A picture is worth 1,000 words, they say, so here are 8,000 words about our outing today.
Hope you enjoyed the picture show as much as we enjoyed operating. Thanks to all of those who worked us. Seems like most of our QSOs were with those chasing POTA operations. We always get questions about our antennas and rigs. K3WWP and KC2EGL used KX3 rigs, PX3 panadapters, 17 foot verticals, Mike used a Begali paddle, John a Bencher paddle. Tom WB3FAE used a KX3 and I believe kind of a random wire antenna with a paddle. -30-
Thu Oct 10 2019 08:20PM - Another quick QSO at 0003Z, thanks to Tony N2ATB whom I've worked before a few times. That was on 80M. A quick tune on the bands above 80 showed very little at all.
I hope conditions are good tomorrow when we go to Moraine State Park for our parkpedition. Here's a repeat of the parkpedition info from a couple days ago in the diary: Time: 1400-1800Z. Frequency: 7041, 10117, 14061 all active at the same time. Call used: N3AQC. Location: Moraine State Park near Butler. It will count as a POTA activation (K-1387). Ops: K3WWP, KC2EGL, WB3FAE.
It was a busy day today. I went with my neighbor and his brother to Pittsburgh for my neighbor's doctor appointment. Everything went smoothly and well. We didn't get lost either driving to or inside the hospital. While waiting at the hospital, I read one of my DCC instruction manuals and have a little better handle now on how it works. When I got back home, I made up a programming track, but haven't tried it out yet. Maybe tomorrow around our parkpedition. I think I am going to really like DCC and probably will add a couple more DCC locos to my fleet. -30-
Wed Oct 9 2019 08:44PM - A quick QSO tonight just one minute after I sat down at the rig. I found KD8ZM calling CQ and we wound up with a solid 11 minute QSO on 80 meters.
My Digitrax DCC Starter Set arrived a day early today so I spent a lot of time playing with it. I've only used the basics so far like running an older DC locomotive with it, addressing a DCC locomotive, adjusting speed and braking, and other simple things like that. In the next few days I'll study functions, CVs, programming, etc. Should be a lot of fun.
Nothing has changed for our parkpedtion plans on Friday. The weather looks absolutely gorgeous. Hope to work you Friday. -30-
Tue Oct 8 2019 08:53PM - It's hard to believe at one time I could easily make 40, 50, 60 QSOs in our NAQCC sprints, and now thanks(?) to propagation and my constant S8-S9 or so local noise, I have to struggle to hear 1 station strong enough to break through the noise. If I can hear them, I can work them easily. The problem is hearing anyone. It's virtually impossible to hear any QRP stations now. Most all my streak QSOs are with QRO stations these days.
Tonight's streak QSO before the sprint was with Ulis K3LU in PA on 80M who was running the above mentioned QRO power at 100 watts.
It was just about a perfect October day with a high in the upper 60s, lots of sunshine after morning fog, and light or no wind. It was a keeper if we could just keep weather conditions.
I played with and learned more about my dcc locomotive that came yesterday and the Loco Genie (miniature DCC) controller that came with it. My full scale DCC Starter Set is now scheduled for delivery on Thursday instead of Saturday. I'm looking forward to that.
Our parkpedition on Friday now looks like this pending final tweaking. Time: 1400-1800Z. Frequency: 7041, 10117, 14061 all active at the same time. Call used: N3AQC. Location: Moraine State Park near Butler. It will count as a POTA activation. Ops: K3WWP, KC2EGL, WB3FAE. Any updates will be here in the diary. -30-
Mon Oct 7 2019 09:10PM - One of the roughest QSOs in my streak came tonight. I must give public thanks to Bill KA4KSB for staying with me long enough to make a legitimate QSO. Some folks are real gentlemen and Bill is one of them. It took me sending my call at least 15 times before he could dig it out, but he stuck with it and did. He was about 559 here with a lot of QSB and the usual QRN. He gave me a 329 at first, then my signals got a bit better and wound up at 349 at the end. Thanks Bill.
Mike's camera was ready a day early so we went to Pittsburgh today to pick it up. We ate at the Oyster House in Market Square. It was great to get back there. When I worked at WPIT, we would eat there a lot. Or actually get take out orders to eat back at the studio. The last time I was there was probably in the late 1980s. I mentioned that to the waitress and she enjoyed hearing about it. It was Mike's first time ever eating there. He had a big dish of fish and chips. I had a huge fish sandwich with onion rings and coleslaw.
After we got home, I found my new DCC locomotive was delivered as promised, and I set it up and played with it for a while as Mike enjoyed watching me. It has a miniature controller with it, sort of a very miniature DCC. It was fun playing with it, but I'm really waiting for the full DCC Starter Set which is scheduled to arrive this Saturday or sooner.
I also heard from Tom WB3FAE today before Mike came. He wanted to know if we wanted to do a parkpedition later this week. I talked it over with Mike and I emailed Tom to say that Friday looks good. More details in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Sun Oct 6 2019 09:00PM - Yes, it's definitely 9:00. The 9PM whistle (siren) just blew as I was entering the time.
It took a little longer to get my QSO this evening. 0015Z when AA8IK in MI answered my 80M CQ. That's the first streak QSO via my CQ for a while now. There was quite a bit of activity on 80, but no one calling CQ, so I thought I'd give out some CQs and it worked.
Another day with not much happening. I cleaned out some pictures on my computer and worked a bit on my trains. That was pretty much it. It was a gloomy chilly damp day with some showers around. After the first 3 days in October being in the low 90s, the last three haven't gotten out of the 60s. I even dug out a blanket which I will put on my bed a little later. Sigh! -30-
Sat Oct 5 2019 08:10PM - My streak QSO went as I figured tonight. Namely working a CA station in the CQP on 20M. It was K6MR in Shasta County at 0007Z.
Other than that it was mainly a trains day. I added a couple of switches to my HO layout to make a shorter loop inside the bigger loop. That works fine. I also ordered a DCC ready Union Pacific Diesel as I would like to experiment with DCC. Of course in order to do that I also ordered a DCC starter set with controller, power supply, etc. Hopefully both will come this week. Then maybe Ray WA3PRR who has a DCC setup can give me some tips after our parkpedition on Monday the 14th. It should be a fun adventure with a new toy. HI. -30-
Fri Oct 4 2019 08:20PM - Mike and I had a good time today. The weather was great although a bit on the chilly side by comparison after the past 3 days of 90+ degrees highs. Today the high was just 67 according to my AcuRite remote thermometer. The camera shop was right in the heart of Market Square in Pittsburgh so it brought back a lot of memories of the days I passed through the Square while working at WPIT. We used to eat at the Oyster House in the Square now and then. It was good to see it is still there. Also good to pass within a couple blocks of both our studio locations in the Pick Roosevelt Hotel (where it used to be) and the Gateway Towers which is still there. We'll be going back on Tuesday when Mike's camera should be ready for pickup. Maybe we can walk around a bit then. We didn't today.
We stopped at Applebee's on the way home for one of their great meals. When we got home we watched some railroad videos before Mike left to head home. Earlier in the day we pretty much finalized our plans for our Columbus Day parkpedition on the 14th. Right now it stands at 1500-1900Z on 7041, 10117, 14061 using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC. Mike and I will start out on 40 and 30 and when Ray WA3PRR arrives a bit later, we decided to let him have 20 meters hoping it will be the best band since this will be his first time with us on a parkpedition.
The bands continue poor but once again with the PX3 pointing the way, I found and worked N3NMP on 80 meters starting at 0007Z. QSB ended the QSO after just a couple rounds, but at least it was good for another day in the streak. -30-
Thu Oct 3 2019 08:35PM - It will be good to see Mike again tomorrow as we make a trip to Pittsburgh to visit a camera shop and then have a meal at Applebee's. Then our next get together should be Columbus Day for our annual parkpedition for NAQCC anniversary month. One of our new West Pa Chapter members Ray WA3PRR just confirmed a little while ago that he will be joining us there. That will be his first parkpedition and maybe one of his first portable operations. He'll be using the KX1 that I loaned to him. That should be fun as usual.
Another day with not much else to talk about unless I just go over all the everyday things that go on here and that would get boring. We did have our 3rd 90+ degree October day this month today, but that will come to an end soon. In fact it is getting windy right now and I think the cold front is about to go through which will mean a high in only the 60s tomorrow and the next few days as we get back to normal October weather. -30-
Wed Oct 2 2019 08:23PM - When are band conditions ever going to turn around? Are they ever going to turn around? The pretty much regular pattern here of late in the evening has been nothing at all heard on 40 that is strong enough to break through my noise on that band no matter which antenna I use for receive. 40 has the worst noise of all bands. 30 also pretty devoid of signals most evenings although an evening now and then will have some good signals. I can lower my noise on 30 by using my 20 meter attic dipole for receive on that band. 20 is pretty much the same as 30, having a good evening now and then, but not often. The noise is tolerable there and I can use the 20 attic dipole for xmt and rcv. 17, 15, 12, 10 are pretty much dead all the time even though my noise is lower on those bands. I really never listen in the daytime anymore and those bands could be open at that time of day. That leaves 80 as the band on which I get almost all my daily QSOs lately. I can get a pretty good S/N ratio on that band using one of my other antennas (6M dipole, 10M dipole, 15M vert dipole, 20M attic dipole) for receive. It seems to vary each night which antenna works best. Most often it is the 6M attic dipole though that gives the best S/N ratio although both noise and signals are very low level. That's a pretty good description of my situation here. Even with that, the streak goes on proving that you don't really need great propagation or a great noise-free location for CW at QRP level to make the contacts. -30-
Tue Oct 1 2019 08:23PM - A somewhat busy day today with a trip to the bank and a couple other places. Then helping my neighbor to get settled in a few times today. We're getting things pretty much in order again after his long hospital stay. And of course walking and feeding Roscoe. Also watching him while the visiting nurse was there.
The bands are about the same tonight which is poor, but still with the PX3 I was able to find and work AE8EA in OH on 80 meters for a short 4 minute QSO. That's the first time I've had a QSO that lasted less than 10 minutes in several days now. Actually since Sep 22 except for one 8 minute QSO on the 28th.
Mike and I are going to Pittsburgh on Friday. Not ham related though. He needs to take his camera to a repair shop, and after that we'll have a meal at Applebee's. Then we should have some time here for a few ham or railroad activities. -30-
Mon Sep 30 2019 08:45PM - It turned out to be every bit as busy a day as I anticipated, and I'm on the tired side right now so I'll keep this short. Everything I listed in last night's entry did happen today plus some other things. It was nice to get a quick streak QSO this evening at 0007Z. It lasted 17 minutes for a nice rag chew. Thanks Dick W2WC on 80 meters. I like his QTH name of Halfmoon or Half Moon, NY. It would be nice for someone who likes astronomy. -30-
Sun Sep 29 2019 08:18PM - Looks like I made it through the geomagnetic storm this weekend and also finished another calendar month of the streak as well. Both thanks to KG4CNZ in KY on 80 meters whom I found and worked just two minutes into the new day at 0002Z.
I'm doing my laundry tonight in anticipation of a busy day tomorrow, being it's the end of the month. Also my neighbor (Roscoe's owner) is coming home from a hospital stay and I'll be helping him get settled back in his house. I bet Roscoe will be glad to see him.
Also tomorrow I should be getting a new motor for one of my HO locomotives. I won an Ebay auction and tracking says it will arrive tomorrow. So I hope to add my Chattanooga Choo Choo to my fleet of running HO locomotives again. -30-
Sat Sep 28 2019 08:30PM - At first listen to the bands this evening, I got a bit worried. I didn't hear anything on 40 through 20 except some RTTY signals in the ARRL RTTY DX Contest. On 80 it was just the usual net stations. I thought the geomagnetic storm was going to do me in, or at least end my six month plus streak of getting my daily streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. However it only took 4 minutes to find and work KA8MNP in WV on 80 meters. In fact we had a fairly solid 18 minute QSO. Once again proving that if you can find someone (tnx PX3!!) to work, QRP/CW/simple wire antennas will do the trick pretty much no matter how bad conditions are.
Not much else to talk about today. Summer returned for a final (I hope not) curtain call with a high of 87 along with pretty high humidity. Tomorrow should be the same and even possibly a bit warmer. -30-
Fri Sep 27 2019 08:30PM - A little tough getting a QSO this evening. I answered 3 or 4 CQs with no luck, then called CQ myself for a while with no answers. Finally I found and worked Bill K4GDR in Atlanta, GA on 30 meters. Copy was a bit rough both ends but we made an 11 minute QSO out of it.
Not much going on today. I went shopping to get some dog food for Roscoe. Also took a couple nice walks and did some shopping for myself. We had our lowest temperature since spring when it got down to 45 degrees this morning around 8AM. That's from my Computemp remote unit. It should be close to what I'll find in my mercury in glass thermometer later when I check my instrument shelter around 9 o'clock. -30-
Thu Sep 26 2019 02:19PM - Just to let you know, Mike was not feeling well enough to drive to Pittsburgh today so we had to cancel the subpedition until a later date, probably October 24, the next fourth Thursday.
I might have more for the diary later in the day. -30-
Wed Sep 25 2019 08:23PM - Another 0000Z QSO tonight that turned into a 21 minute rag chew at 20 WPM or so. Thanks to John WB4OFT in NC on 80 meters. I've not had a QSO on any band except 80 meters since Sep 15. The higher bands are pretty much covered by my local QRN that prevents a lot of sigs being heard if they are there. I've been thinking of getting a small loop antenna for receiving to see if that will help with the noise. I never seem to get around to doing it though. Probably would be easy now that I use Ebay. I'll have to look and see what is on there.
Don't forget to look for Mike and I from the USS Requin tomorrow (26th) from about 1400-1800Z on 7041 or 14061 using the sub call of NY3EC. Art from the sub will send you a nice QSL with a picture of the sub on it if you work us and request one. Use the QRZ entry for NY3EC for info. -30-
Tue Sep 24 2019 08:52PM - A little more elaboration on the previous diary entry. When I say that saving time is important, it is, but not to the extent that I don't enjoy a good long rag chew when the opportunity presents itself. What really takes up time without anything to show for it is tuning around looking for a QSO. That is where the PX3 really comes in handy. Also calling endless strings of CQs with no response is time consuming. Again the PX3 helps out there also. As you well know, many stations do not know how to or bother to zero beat. Without the PX3 that means tuning the RIT after each CQ looking for a response. Now with the PX3, a simple glance at the screen shows if someone is calling off frequency. Then you can tune the RIT to the frequency and see if it really is an answer or just a coincidence. It's a really helpful device in many ways.
Speaking of rag chews, I had a great one last night with NV3N. We chatted about this and that for 42 minutes at around 20-21 WPM. Then I heard him again tonight and we had another 24 minute chat about the same speed. That was absolutely enjoyable and not a waste of time in any way, shape, or form.
I forgot to mention that on the sub Thursday we will be using the sub's call of NY3EC. Hope to work you. NV3N says he'll be listening for us. -30-
Mon Sep 23 2019 07:38PM - I want to elaborate on my PX3 statements of the previous diary entry. I neglected to mention the biggest advantage of a PX3 although it was inferred in the statements. That is, the time-saving factor. As I get older and have fewer years left to spend on this planet, I find that time becomes more and more valuable. The less that I waste, the better. The PX3 has probably saved me countless hours in the years I've been using it. It is just so time-consuming dial twirling listening to hear signals. It is so time-saving looking at a display screen to see where the signals are, then tuning right to them in a flash.
I really never thought I would ever use something like a panadapter, but I am now just so glad that I have and use one. In a parallel to that, I never thought I would ever buy anything via the Internet unless I could write and mail a check for the item. In another concession to saving time and also effort, earlier this year I started using Ebay mainly for purchasing things for my model railroad. Now I use it for other things as well. For example I got a LiPo battery today and am now charging it up. Using Ebay, I no longer have to travel long distances to a store to buy something, again saving a lot of time. You see, in this small town, there are very few stores that handle items that I want or need, and it is necessary to travel a good many miles to find a store that does handle the items.
I wonder what is the next to change because of my age. Maybe I'll wind up getting a car and start driving again for those trips to the grocery stores. Nope, I don't think so. I get way too much good exercise walking there and carrying the heavy packages home.
As far as the Requin trip on Thursday goes, I think we'll shoot for starting our operation shortly after 1400Z and will concentrate on 40 and 20 meters around 7041 and 14061. We can only use one band at a time because the Requin has only one antenna. We'll try to figure a more detailed schedule and post it here in the diary probably on Wednesday evening.
Off to the shack now. Hope the PX3 can find a quick QSO for me so I can do some other things I still need to do before bed time. -30-
Sun Sep 22 2019 08:40PM - Working the ham bands without a panadapter is like trying to find a dropped coin in a totally dark room. The PX3 has been an invaluable aid in keeping my streak going during these dismal sunspot minimum days (evenings). There is so little activity on the bands it would be easy to just tune across a band without hearing anything at all even though there were 4 or 5 signals active as you tuned. You just tuned across them as they were between sentences, words, or even letters. The panadapter eliminates that problem as it shows at a glance just what is active on a band. All you need to do is tune to the frequency of one of the peaks on the display to find out who it is. Hopefully someone calling CQ or just ending a QSO so you can then call them.
Summer took a final curtain call today with a sunny hot 90 degree blast with humidity thrown in for good measure. Now we enter into a 3 month preamble to w#nter if you go by astronomical seasons, and not meteorological ones. That way we're already 22 days into fall.
I talked to Art WA3BKD of the sub USS Requin a little while ago and it's set for Mike and me to operate the Requin this Thursday the 26th. Art also said if it works out OK, he'll take us into the Science Center and show us the workroom where he works on maintaining the model train display there that Mike and I saw when we visited the Center several days ago.
More details on the subpedition in a couple days here in the diary. -30-
Sat Sep 21 2019 08:04 PM - Yes, as expected, the NJ QSO Party gave me a quick streak QSO at 0001Z. Thanks to KE2D in Mercer County
I got the HO motor I won in an Ebay auction a couple days ago. I installed it, and after making a new draw bar from a plastic jar lid to replace one I broke a couple weeks ago when I was examining the loco, I put it on track and it runs nicely. It's a Union Pacific 4-6-2 Pacific type locomotive. UP did have quite a few Pacifics in their steam fleet, but I don't see a #4073 on the roster which is the number my model carries. Oh well, I like it anyway.
On the next to the last day of astronomical summer, it felt like summer today with a high of 89 and higher humidity unlike the last several days this month. Still nice to be outside though. -30-
Fri Sep 20 2019 08:15PM - I was watching the ISS at 8PM and didn't get to the shack till about 0004Z. However it then took just about 15 seconds to find and get VA3SB into my log on 80 meters for a super quick streak QSO. Three more days and it will be six months that I got the streak QSO in my log in the 0000Z hour each day. That's quite a statement for QRP/CW, I think. You have no excuse for not getting on the bands and working folks even at this low point in the sunspot cycle. Unfortunately I think the dead sounding bands are due more to the lack of activity than the poor propagation conditions. Fire up the rig and get on the bands and prove me right.
The record is still broken and skipping. I mean the phonograph record that is the weather of late. For the ?? day in a row now, it has been ideal with sunny skies, mild/warm temperatures, and low humidity. The grass and plants need rain, but I don't mind making them wait, and wait, and w.... for it. I don't mind at all.
I took another concession to age today and ordered a small Li-ion battery for my portable operations to replace the much too big and too heavy SLA battery I've been using. It should be here next Thursday and I'll hook it up to my PX3/KX3 and see how long it lasts before it needs recharging. It's 12V and 9800mAh which is about half my SLA as far as Ah. Perhaps I'll have to get a second one and have one each for the KX3 and PX3. That will still be much lighter and smaller than the SLA. I don't see the weight listed, but it's 5"x2.5"x1" in size. I'll have more info when I get it. -30-
Thu Sep 19 2019 08:48PM - I had an interesting few minutes just a few minutes ago. Huh? Oh, I worked an old friend I haven't worked in quite a while - Tom KA2KGP who tail-ended a QSO I had with K3OS on 80 meters. After the QSO, I came to the computer just in time for the closing bell on an Ebay auction, and I won! It was a replacement motor for one of my HO locomotives. Then the third item fizzled out or never showed up. There was supposed to be a very bright apparation of the ISS rivalling Venus in brightness, but clouds ruined that. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad.
Yet another in a long string of perfect September days. It was a bit cloudy as I mentioned above, but other than that it was perfect. The kind of weather you wish you could store somewhere and bring it out on those cold s^%$wy days. I cut my grass this morning and just generally enjoyed the weather as I have the past several days now. We should have a couple more nice days coming up also. -30-
Wed Sep 18 2019 09:13PM - I did a couple things today I haven't done for a while. I made more than one QSO in our NAQCC sprint. I actually copied a few stations in the sprint as conditions were good enough to bring QRP signals above my horrendous noise level. Also a neighbor told me he was going to watch the International Space Station around 8:00PM, so I watched with him. That's the first satellite I've watched probably in a few years now.
Another picture perfect September day today. Ideal for walking and just being outside. Supposed to continue that way for at least a few more days now.
I got some traction tires today for one of my Lionel locomotives, and the pulling power increased dramatically after installing them. Now it runs pretty much on a par with my #736 and #2037. -30-
Tue Sep 17 2019 08:09PM - After our POTA activation yesterday, my QSO tonight was with a POTA station in NY - N4ZN at K-2116. Somewhat ironic, I guess.
That was a lot of fun yesterday. Thanks to Mike for writing the diary entry. It's always nice to operate with Mike and Tom WB3FAE. Now we have another Tom who seems to be quite interested in our WPA Chapter activities - WV8TG. Hope he'll be active and replace some of our chapter members who seem to have lost interest for whatever reasons. Next up for the chapter is the first of our regular fourth Thursday operation at the sub USS Requin in Pittsburgh. Right now that looks to be just Mike and me at the key, but maybe some other chapter member will respond. The two Toms are going to be away that day. Ironically if I heard correctly, both will be going to Maine, but on completely different missions. WB3FAE hopes to activate a POTA park or two while up there.
It was another in a string of nice September days with warm temps, low humidity, sunny, and no rain. I think May and September are two of the nicest months in this part of the country. The only bad thing about September is it means wi$#3r is coming. On the other hand, May heralds the approach of the best season of all, Summer. -30-
Mon Sep 16 2019 04:07PM - And now heeerrrresss Mike!
I arrived at John's QTH shortly before 1200Z. We chatted a bit before John took Roscoe for a walk. Roscoe likes it when I am visiting. He runs straight for John's porch knowing that I am sitting inside with a few treats for him. After Roscoe's walk we headed out to Moraine State Park for a Parks On The Air activation of Moraine State Park. We were joined by Tom WB3FAE and Tom WV8TG who is the latest to join the NAQCC Western Pennsylvania Chapter. We logged 27 qso's added to the log. It was a beautiful day for a Parkpedition. And the veiw was quite nice as well (see photographs below). We packed up around 1700Z and headed back to John's QTH. John took Roscoe out for a walk shortly after we got back (yes he got more treats from me. Its the only time he likes me. Otherwise he wants nothing to do with me).
We will check out a railroad video or two before I head north back to my QTH. As usual it was a great day visiting John. Next visit will be the start of our monthly activation of the radio room on the USS Requin on September 26th.
Until next time, de Mike KC2EGL 73.
The three ops busy making (trying to make?) contacts
KC2EGL (L) and K3WWP (R)
K3WWP (L) and WV8TG (R)
No, that thing protruding from WV8TG's headphones was not being used. It was just there.
View of the lake 1
View of the lake 2
K3WWP's vertical antenna
Sun Sep 15 2019 08:46PM - Yet again, a quick streak QSO this evening. That's good, because it gives me a chance to do my laundry this evening now. Otherwise I'd have to wait till tomorrow evening since the rest of the day will be spent on our parkpedition as I mentioned in last night's diary entry.
Otherwise a very nice day today. I did some walking and shopping and just sat on the porch to enjoy the weather. It won't be all that long until wi^&*r and s#$w will be here. Hopefully it will be a short and non-nasty season this time around.
OK, I have other things to do to get ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow's entry should have a few pictures from the park. -30-
Sat Sep 14 2019 08:13PM - Another quick streak QSO this evening thanks to the Texas QSO Party. I worked N5RZ on 20M at 0002Z.
I gathered up my gear for our Parkpedition on Monday. We'll be at Moraine State Park from about 1330Z till mid-afternoon 1800-1900z or later if activity warrants. We'll have three bands active 40 (7041), 30 (10117), 20 (14061) using the NAQCC club call N3AQC. This will also count as a POTA activation. Moraine is POTA # K-1387. -30-
Fri Sep 13 2019 07:22PM - As expected, a great day today visiting the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. The only disappointment was not seeing Art from the Requin who was off today. We still toured the sub at a more leisurely pace than we do while activating the sub radio room. After that we went to the Science Center itself.
There is just so much to see there I can't begin to describe it all without writing a book instead of a brief diary entry. So I'll confine myself to a picture description of the model railroad exhibit plus a couple other items, and then a brief description of some other things we saw.
After that we checked out a few more exhibits until it was time for the show to start in the Rangos Theater. After purchasing our tickets, the usher let us in. We were the only attendees so far and we climbed to near the top of the seats as we both learned many years ago, that's the place to be to prevent neck strain while watching the show. To our surprise, we remained the only two at the show which was very nice. That reminded us of the Trolley Museum a few years ago when we were the only two on the tour. The show featured coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and contained a lot of never before seen films and images. It was awesome and interesting. Just one silly complaint from me. I was sorry they omitted Buzz Aldrin's quote when he became the second person to set foot on the Moon after Neil Armstrong did so a little earlier. Buzz said something like this - that may have been a small step for Neil, but it was a big one for me. I always enjoy a sense of humor in folks, so I kind of savored that quote over the years.
A strange clock that Mike and I partially figured out.
The old Zeiss projector that displayed so many sky shows over the years at the old Buhl Planetarium building.
A turntable on the model railroad exhibit.
Some random scenery.
Part of a freight yard with lots of rolling stock.
A rack of display locomotives.
More random scenery.
A model of Forbes Field on opening day in 1909. As a hostess told us, it was made out of ground up bricks from the real Forbes Field when it was torn down, I think in 1970 or 71?
A final look at some more scenery.
After the show, we explored exhibits on other floors of the Science Center. Maybe when Mike comes back on Monday, I'll get him to add his thoughts on the Science Center.
Then we headed home with stops at Dick's for a new pair of shoes for me and at Staples to have our Skyview membership cards laminated. At home I downloaded the pictures from today (well over 100) from Mike's camera. To close out the day we watched some railroad videos. -30-
Thu Sep 12 2019 08:13PM - To borrow a title from an old Guy Lombardo song, "Seems Like Old Times". My streak QSOs tonight were CT9/DL5AXX and HI3AA, both on 30 meters. I beat a fairly big pileup at 0002Z on my 3rd or 4th call to get the Madeira station, and a smaller pileup to get the Dominican Republic a minute later. Now if only that would become a daily occurence. But of course it won't. Still it brings back memories of how the bands were not all that long ago. Hey, I've got a new DX streak going now at 2 days. HI
Other good news today. I got an HO gauge Penn Central GP-38 diesel. That means I've now got locos from the three railroads that ran about a hundred feet or less from my house. That's the Pennsylvania, Penn Central, and Conrail. Actually it's one railroad line that because of mergers was used by those three companies.
Tomorrow it's off to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh with Mike. That should be a good day. Pictures and comments in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Wed Sep 11 2019 08:09PM - The time stamp gives it away. A pretty quick streak QSO this evening, and DX to boot. I worked KP4TF easily on 30M with almost just a single call. He had me as K3WWW after the call, but corrected it to K3WWP after a repeat. That was at 0002Z for one of my quickest streak QSOs in a while now not counting the /150 stations. July 25 was the last quicker one at 0001Z when I worked KD9CK.
I pretty much finished my solar flux spreadsheet today. I now have daily SF values going back to 1947 although the earlier years do have quite a few days missing. I have monthly averages for all months. I have yearly graphs of the SF values for all years. I also have somewhat spotty A indices going back to 1994. In doing that, I notice that I missed out on a few of the peak years before my streak started and I was off the air at the wrong times. I wasn't yet licensed for the super peak of 1957-1959. I was starting work for the 1969-1970 peak and not very active. I was just getting active again at the ending of the 1980-1981 peak. I was off again for the 1989-1991 peak just before I became really active again in 1992-1993. The next two peaks came during my streak in 2000-2002 and 2013-2014. However those last two peaks were much lower peaks than the previous ones. So I missed the best peaks for the most part. I would love to know how my current setup would have worked in the 1957-1958 peak. Or even the 1989-1991 peak when the three year average was 203.9. Oh, the 1957-1959 peak averaged 224.7. In contrast 2000-2002 was just 180.2 and 2013-2014 only 134.3. Wonder what the next peak will bring. Most predictions seem to predict a very low peak with some even suggesting there won't be a peak at all. -30-
Tue Sep 10 2019 08:53PM - I wish Old Sol would stop hitting the snooze button and wake up for good. It seems that conditions improve a bit for a day or so, then slip away into something even worse. It's frustrating. I'm still going though, and still in that 0000Z hour since Mar 23 now. Maybe I'll make the 0000Z hour into a six month streak if I can do it for 12 more days now. Perhaps like the DX streak that ended a year ago, this 0000Z streak also proves very solidly that QRP/CW/simple wire antennas works even more so than the much longer 25+ year streak.
Not a lot out of the usual happening today. We slipped back into August as far as weather goes with some humidity and a high in the upper 80s, just missing 90. The only thing that spoiled it all is how early it gets dark now.
I've got a couple good things coming up in a few days that I'm looking forward to. On Friday Mike and I are going to Pittsburgh to visit the Carnegie Science Center. We always go right by it when we are going to the Requin, but have never really explored it all that much. This time we will with at least a visit to the model railroad and taking in a show at the Rangos theater. We'll also try to find Art and say hello. Then on Monday it looks like a parkpedition with Mike and Tom WB3FAE at Moraine State Park. -30-
Mon Sep 9 2019 08:38PM - I was thinking about this as I was tuning around the bands looking for someone to work. I believe that even while mired in this prolonged sunspot minimum, there is still a good path to somewhere on some band at some time. For example, tonight with very poor conditions, I had a solid QSO with Jon W8TY in Lima Ohio on 80 meters. He said I was peaking at S9 and his 100 watts was 10-20 over S9. That's not an isolated case either. It doesn't happen every night, but every several days or so, I get a solid QSO like that. I think the days I don't, it's only because there is no one on the air from wherever the current good path is leading my signals at that time and band. What do you think?
I have a spreadsheet of daily solar flux values. I mentioned about sending it to Tad Cook's ARRL Propagation email a few days ago. In that newsletter, he mentioned another source of SF values. I checked it out and it goes back to the beginning of keeping track of SF in 1947. I added the years from 1947-1968 to my spreadsheet now, and I'm tweaking it to include not only daily values of SF, but monthly averages as well, and yearly graphs also. I also have daily indices of the A index going back to the early 1990's in the spreadsheet. I'd like to get earlier values of that to add to the spreadsheet. I'll see what I can find someday. -30-
Sun Sep 8 2019 05:25PM - It was a great day today with Mike visiting. He arrived a little past 8:00AM and shortly we took off for Butler. Our first stop was going to be at Ponderosa for their Sunday Breakfast Buffet. We used to enjoy that regularly when there was a Ponderosa here in Kittanning. But since they shut down we hadn't been to the Breakfast Buffet very often, and it was good to get back again. After we finished our meals, we headed to Unionville for the hamfest.
We were only planning to look around and visit with some of our ham friends, and that we did. First we looked up Tom WB3FAE who was working in the kitchen serving coffee as shown here:
When we went back outside to start our circuit of the vendors, about the first one we saw was Ray WA3PRR, the newest member of our NAQCC WPA Chapter:
While walking around, I ran into another one of my friends who said he wanted to talk with me. So we stepped aside and he handed me a very nice present, a N scale boxcar on the condition that I don't mention him by name in the diary. So I didn't, but I really appreciate the gift, Mr. Anonymous.
Mike took this panoramic picture of part of the setup of the vendors. As I said it's not a really big hamfest, but does have a lot of things to check out among the vendors:
After wandering around about an hour, we gathered together the members of our little chapter for a group photo. Tom was still busy in the kitchen and couldn't join us, but here (L-R) are: Jim KC3IXE, Bruce AA3LX, Mike KC2EGL, John K3WWP, Ray WA3PRR, and Bob WC3O.
Mike and I wandered around a bit longer, and heard on the PA system that Ray WA3PRR had won one of the prize drawings after telling us that he never wins any drawings except for one years ago. So we went back to his spot and called him a liar. HI HI And congratulated him on winning the drawing.
Mike and I then left and headed back here to Kittanning. After walking Roscoe, we downloaded the pictures you see here from his camera to my computer. We chatted about several different things. We watched a couple railroad videos. Then we went to my shack to see what the bands had to offer. It wasn't much. Mike tried working N0AC/150 in IA on 20, but couldn't connect. So it was back to my computer to play some hidden object games. After that, Mike left and headed "up north" as we call it, to his home. -30-
Sat Sep 7 2019 08:10PM - The last day for being able to use a /150 station for an easy streak QSO. Tonight it was W9IK/150 in IL on 40 meters.
Today, Sep 8 (UTC) my web site celebrates it's 23rd birthday and begins the 24th year of existence. Wow and whew! That's a long time. As I do every year on this date, I update the logo at the top of my web site pages to reflect the new year. This year as I said in a previous entry, it's a red white and blue logo for our great United States of America.
Tomorrow it's the Butler County ARA hamfest at Unionville, PA. Mike and I hope to be there shortly after we partake of the breakfast buffet at the Ponderosa in Butler. We'll probably hang around until Noon or so kibitzing with our fellow hams and seeing if we can find any good bargains. Maybe see you there if you're in the area.
I was just getting the propagation numbers for updating my propagation page and to my surprise, the solar flux was 74. That's the highest value since May 16 when it was also 74, and May 13 when it was 75. Could it be...? Probably not. I mean coming out of the current sunspot minimum. Sure would be nice if it was that, but probably just a fluke. -30-
Fri Sep 6 2019 08:39PM - Looks like getting mentioned in Tad Cook's ARRL Propagation email drew a lot of (new?) visitors to my web site today. I sent Tad a spreadsheet of old SF and K index values going back many years after he mentioned in a previous email that this current string of under-70 SF values was very unusual. He got some other data from other folks also, but did mention my web site. Thanks Tad.
Another /150 streak QSO this evening, thanks to K2DSW/150 out in Iowa on 40 meters. He was pretty much down in my noise but copied me easily. Only one more day of /150 activity now, then it's back to looking for needles in the band haystacks.
I received my official Skyview Radio Society membership today. My application was approved at their last business meeting which was September 3. That's another club of which I'm now proud to be a member. It's a great club. Although it's some 30 miles away and I don't drive, I hope to somehow be somewhat of an active member. -30-
Thu Sep 5 2019 08:23PM - As I said in the diary entry for August 30, the HPM event should make for some easy streak QSOs. Well, it has, sort of. Five of the last seven days, a /150 station has been my streak QSO. Tonight it was K2QU/150 in NNJ on 80 meters.
As my web site approaches its 23rd birthday on September 8, I am updating my logo that adorns the top of most all my web site pages to reflect the start of the 24th year. Right now, I only have it showing up here on my diary page, before I make the change on all the pertinent pages. I thought I'd go with a red, white, and blue theme this year in honor of our great country. Looks like the blue is more like purple. I'll have to work on that.
I recently updated my biography page (Who am I?) and mentioned QSOs made with other calls besides K3WWP that I've used over the years. I thought I'd post a more detailed listing here in the diary, so here goes.
Call Start End QSOs
KN3WWP - 4/8/1963 to 9/8/1963 - 438
K3WWP - 9/14/1963 to Present - 90,640
K3WWP/3 - 2/10/1967 to 10/13/1967 - 41
WA3IXO/3 - 10/14/1967 to 1/19/1968 - 19
WA3IXO - 10/16/1967 to 3/7/1968 - 121
KB3MQT - 10/5/2005 to 3/29/2006 - 54
N3AQC - 5/19/2006 to Present - 2,313
N3A - 10/16/2006 to Present - 1,429
N3A/3 - 10/1/2007 to Present - 791
N3AQC/MM - 8/13/2009 to 8/13/2009 - 4
K3MJW - 8/23/2009 to 8/23/2009 - 1
NY3EC - 9/12/2013 to Present - 1,587
Present means ongoing and I will still be using those calls in the future.
K3WWP/3 - Portable at my apartment in Pittsburgh
WA3IXO - For my apartment in Pittsburgh a couple years when I worked at WPIT (/3 in Kittanning)
KB3MQT, N3AQC, N3A, N3A/3 N3AQC/MM - NAQCC club calls. The /MM was one time when we were on the Requin. HI
K3MJW - Skyview club call
NY3EC - USS Requin call
Stats as of August 31, 2019. Total QSOs: 97,438. Whew, I've been busy on the bands. -30-
Wed Sep 4 2019 08:25PM - Wow, that brought back memories. A solid 2X 599+ QSO. It was 80 meters and the participant was Charles N4KER in Virginia. He completely overrode my local noise with signals that peaked at 25 over S9 and never dropped below about 5 over S9 for our 12 minute QSO. We could have gone on longer but I had to QRT since I'm expecting a phone call. Meanwhile till it comes, I might as well type the diary entry.
It was pretty much a routine day with not anything different to talk about. It was a beautiful weather day with mostly sunny skies, low humidity, and a high of 86 which felt more like the upper 70s with a nice breeze going. -30-
Tue Sep 3 2019 08:35Pm - Another /150 station in the log for the streak tonight. It wasn't easy finding someone I could work. The bands seemed a little busier this evening, especially 20 meters, but signals were weak and up and down. I tried a couple /150 stations before finding and working K5UZ/150 on 40 in AR for a fairly easy QSO after about a half hour of searching.
It was still another quiet day with nothing out of the ordinary. I did do my first of the month stuff a couple days late because of the weekend and the holiday, but that's all taken care of for another month now. The weather continues to be very good with few clouds, warm, but not hot temperatures, and low humidity.
I guess not much going on the rest of the week either. Until the weekend that is. I'm expecting a new HO steam engine from Ebay in the mail Saturday. Then on Sunday a hamfest with Mike and Tom. It's the Butler County ARA hamfest in Unionville, PA not far from Butler. It's always a somewhat small "intimate" hamfest with a lot of fellowship with fellow hams, a nice selection of things for sale, and some good food. Tom WB3FAE works in the kitchen for this one. Mike and I will wander around for a couple hours or so, and sample some of the food, I'm sure. -30-
Mon Sep 2 2019 08:35PM - My expectations were fulfilled this evening. I turned on the rig and almost immediately found a /150 HPM station in K9ZTV/150 on 40 meters in MO and got him on the first try.
A pretty quiet day today. I did some railroad work. I built a building from a kit I got at the Ol' Station Marketplace on Thursday. That's my first HO scale building. I'm thinking about taking this plan of attack for a railroad. I've got a lot of good diagrams for HO layouts. I think I'll pick one and lay down the track for it. Then I'll gradually add buildings and scenery a little at a time. It won't be long now till semi-hibernation for the winter sets in and that will be a good time to work on the plan. Here's a picture of the building before I get around to painting it.
I also did a little garden clean-up today. Sad to see garden season gradually coming to a close. It wasn't a great year for gardens for whatever reason. Probably too much alternating of wet and dry weather. My beans were probably the best crop followed by my Siberian tomatoes, then my Rutgers tomatoes. My cucumber and zucchini plants didn't do anything but produce a lot of male flowers and no females. The daylillies were good, and the roses a little below average. -30-
Sun Sep 1 2019 08:20PM - Thanks to the TN QSO Party for the streak QSO tonight. TN is a place I seem to have a good path to all the time, but not so tonight. I only heard one TN station on 40. 80 was pretty good though. I heard several TN stations there and worked K4AMC fairly easily with one repeat.
I checked the bands this afternoon in the 2000Z hour and I felt that conditions were a little better then than they have been in the evenings of late. I had a pretty solid 17 minute rag chew with W9EBE in IL on 30 meters. Both of us had some QSB, but copy was good both ways for the most part. He was running 200 watts to my 5 watts and said he was surprised how good my signals were for QRP. I still think conditions are better than they are made out to be in this sunspot minimum. It's in large part due to a lack of activity that makes them seem worse than they are. They are bad, but.... -30-
Sat Aug 31 2019 09:10PM - I envisioned turning on the rig tonight and hearing a lot of stations calling CQ HPM and signing /150 for the Hiram Percy Maxim birthday event/contest. However that wasn't the case. I heard a total of two, one of which I lost in the noise and the other I almost lost, but did manage a QSO for the streak. Things are really getting worse and worse on the bands and I think now a lot of folks are just plain giving up and not even bothering to get on the bands. It's a sad state of affairs. I think I'm going to have to rearrange my schedule and try getting on the bands during the morning/afternoon and see if things are any better then. They can't be any worse than the evenings now. -30-
Fri Aug 30 2019 08:05PM - Hope I don't jinx it by saying this. It looks like the next 8 days will be easy ones for the streak with the ARRL Hiram Percy Maxim 150th birthday event going on. Tonight I started at 0002Z with W1FM/150 on 40 meters in EMA. If that is true, it will be nice to have a relaxing week or so.
Not much going on out of the ordinary around here. Just playing with my trains, and also giving them some lube jobs. I didn't even go for a walk today other than walking around inside the house here. Just looking out the window and it's already pretty dark. I was thinking of going out after I finish my web site work, but I don't think I will now.
Besides getting dark early, there are other signs of the coming of autumn in my garden. My daylillies stopped blooming a few weeks ago already. A couple of my early Siberian tomato plants have stopped producing within the past week or so. I've picked a lot of my speckled butter beans over the past several days. There are still a lot left to ripen though. It's a sad time of year. Fall itself is a nice season, it's just that it's a harbinger of the worst of the four seasons. The one that starts with "W". Oh well, not much I can do about it. -30-
Thu Aug 29 2019 08:30PM - If I could be granted one wish, it would be that either my local noise goes away or propagation improves. It's getting rougher and rougher dealing with both as I attempt to continue my streak. It took some doing this evening but I finally caught CO3ET on 30 meters to add another day. Also it was in the 0000Z hour to continue that streak as well.
We are really at the very depths of the sunspot cycle now. The last time the solar flux was at 70 or higher was way back on June 12 when it was 70. There are some dire predictions that we may be entering a quiet sun period that will last quite a while similar to the 17 century Maunder Minimum. That would not be good at all. We'll see. -30-
Wed Aug 28 2019 10:58PM - Pizza night with Mike and it's now late because we got carried (railroaded?) away watching railroad videos of Big Boy among other topics. So being as it is late, I'm just going to close now and get ready for bed. -30-
Tue Aug 27 2019 08:28PM - It took a little longer tonight to get my streak QSO, but still within the 0000Z hour to keep that 0000Z hour streak going. I think it was mid-April the last time I failed to work someone in the 0000Z hour. Let me check and see after I tell you it was an IOTA activation this evening on 40 meters that I worked. Matt AF2F was operating from IOTA NA-67 Hatteras Island in NC, and I got him on the first call. Oh, it was March 23 when I worked K4QS at 0118Z. Every day since then, the streak QSO came in the 0000Z hour if my old tired eyes are correct glancing back through my computer log. Maybe I'll double check that with an Excel filter someday, but not now. -30-
Mon Aug 26 2019 11:04AM - Picture time with Skyview.
The Skyview banner hanging over the site
Panorama of some of the tailgate vendors. The arrow points at Ray WA3PRR at his table.
Bob WC3O aka "Cooky" cooking up some great food for the visitors.
Tom WB3FAE (L) and John K3WWP (R) busy racking up QSOs or trying to. HI
Lastly L-R Bob WC3O, Mike KC2EGL, Tom WB3FAE, John K3WWP
Sun Aug 25 2019 08:27PM - A great time was had by all today at Skyview. I just received a big batch of pictures from Mike. I'll have to go through them and pick out what I want to put in the diary, then crop them. So I'll do that tomorrow and just stick with narration in tonight's entry.
We got a somewhat early start today. I walked and fed Roscoe at 7:30AM, then waited for Mike who arrived just around 8:00AM and we took off for Skyview. We arrived there about 1245Z or so and began setting up. Things went smoothly for me and I started making contacts not long after 1300Z. Mike was having trouble. It seems every time we go to Skyview they have new or different equipment and we didn't notice they had a new bandpass filter in the circuit Mike was using and it was set to 'manual', so it didn't change bands automatically. Tom WB3FAE arrived a little later and he noticed the filter. Once that was changed, Mike was off and running.
I was making QSOs pretty fast for a little while, but then the Kansas QSO Party dropped in on my frequency on 40 meters. That kind of ended my run and I started to work some KS stations in the QP, then searched for a clear frequency on 40 and started calling CQ again. All in all I made 16 QSOs which wasn't bad considering conditions plus a lot of QRM in the radio room as we interacted with visitors who dropped in to see the QRP demo. It was a lot of fun.
Tom didn't bring a rig so I let him log for me. Mike got going after his slow start and I noticed quite a few QSOs in his 20 meters log. I think a lot from the KSQP.
Mike, Tom, and I applied for membership in Skyview today. I had printed out a couple application forms last night and noticed that if you joined in Oct, Nov, or Dec your membership was good through all of 2020 as well. So we were going to wait to turn in the applications and just get the required 3 signatures from current members on our application. However it turned out that special offer was also in effect today at the swap n' shop. So we turned in our applications after the ham who was handling the talk-ins in the radio room said he would sign our applications and also get us the other two signatures. So now we have to be approved at the next club business meeting which I think is the second Tuesday in September. Then we'll be official Skyview members.
We shut down operations a little before 1700Z. Mike and I got lost going a different way to Applebee's, but eventually got there and had a good meal before coming home here and watching some railroad videos before Mike headed home a little after 6:00PM. Chalk up another great day with Mike.
Another pretty quick streak QSO this evening although a bit sketchy with QRN and QSB, but a QSO nonetheless. -30-
Sat Aug 24 2019 08:17PM - An even quicker streak QSO tonight courtesy of W0K in the Kansas QSO Party at 0002Z on 40 meters. The little delay in the time stamp is due to disconnecting the KX3 and PX3 and packing them to go to Skyview tomorrow morning.
Mike and I plan to leave here around 1145Z and be there at Skyview to set up around 1230Z, and begin transmitting as sonn as we are set up. There will be three of us there all using the N3AQC call on 40, 30, and 20 meters around 7041, 10116, and 14061. All three bands active at the same time from setup until 1700Z or so. If more WPA Chapter members show up, they can try 17 and 15 meters or share time with one of us on 40, 30, 20. We three are me, Mike KC2EGL, and Tom WB3FAE. We're the only ones who responded to the call for ops. If anyone else shows up, it will be a surprise. Actually Ray WA3PRR will be there too, but selling some items at a table. I don't know if he'll have time to operate or not. However it turns out, it will be fun, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to it. It will also be great to see our Skyview friends again and to interact with visitors to the Swap n' Shop who drop by the radio room. -30-
Fri Aug 23 2019 08:12PM - Observers of the time stamp will note that I got another rather quick streak QSO for the second night in a row. Tonight it was John YV5IUA on 20 meters.
It was somewhat of a preview of mid-September weather today, and it felt good with a high in the mid-70s and low humidity. The partly cloudy skies looked good to go along with it also.
I sat on the porch quite a while enjoying the weather, and Roscoe joined me for a while. While inside I changed out some couplers on some of my HO rolling stock. I upgraded one of my boxcars from the 1950s or 60s and it is nice to see it rolling again. I also ordered a Pennsylvania locomotive and tender. Of course I've mentioned the Pennsy railroad ran only about 100-150 feet from my house. So I've always liked that railroad along with its successors, the Penn Central and Conrail. I have a couple Conrail diesels, but no Penn Central locos yet. Also this will be my first Pennsy loco although I do have some rolling stock and a caboose. -30-
Thu Aug 22 2019 08:10PM - As you may be able to guess by the time stamp I got a pretty quick streak QSO this evening despite poor conditions. I found and worked special event station W1R on 40 with a single call. Let's see now what the special event was. It's for something called CW Week. Not a lot of specific info on QRZ. See the listings for W1R and N2TA for what info is there. Anyway the streak goes another day through the drought of the sunspot minimum.
Not much else in the way of news or info. I'm glad to hear that Tom WB3FAE will join us at Skyview on Sunday in the radio room. Another WPA Chapter member, Ray WA3PRR will be setting up as a vendor. -30-
Wed Aug 21 2019 08:52PM - Not much to talk about tonight. It was a rather quiet day with very little out of the ordinary. I did help do a little painting on the neighbor's house (Roscoe's). A little garden work cleaning up mainly my daylillies which have stopped blooming as they do each year in early August. Oh, and I also talked on the phone to one of my old WPIT co-workers. I was going to go see him after Skyview on Sunday, but he had a couple other things in the works then. So we'll have to try another plan.
The bands are their usual poor selves tonight. Very little activity other than the nets on 80 and a couple other stations here and there. I did find and work Bob K3CKO in NY on 80 meters to keep the streak going. -30-
Tue Aug 20 2019 09:02PM - Conditions were truly horrible tonight. Outside of the 80 meters net stations, there was not much else at all to be heard tuning through 80, 40, 30, and 20. I did have sort of a QSO with N4PGJ on 80, but I wasn't sure I should count it or not, so I continued tuning. Then strangely I found K5LY in TX on 30 meters just booming in at S9 calling CQ and easily worked him for a sure QSO.
Not a lot going on today. I did send in my POTA Activation log from last Friday and it was accepted so I guess I did it right. The instructions on the POTA web site as to log format were not all that clear beyond saying it must be an ADIF file, but it wasn't too clear which fields they wanted in the file. But Tom and I figured it out and got our logs in OK.
Speaking of POTA, I mentioned there was another activator there at Moraine on Friday and he dropped by to visit. Here's a picture he took. That's him (Paul K2PMD), Tom WB3FAE, and me L-R. And his camera didn't break with me in the picture!
Mon Aug 19 2019 08:58AM - I figure while my laundry is in the dryer would be a good time to write about yesterday's Skeeter Hunt while details are (hopefully) still fresh in my mind.
Mike arrived a little past 1400Z and we kibitzed about various topics until around 1545Z. Then we put my equipment into his (new) Subaru, and I took Roscoe out for a walk. Roscoe was glad to see Mike again and jumped right up on his lap as soon as he got in my door. After that we headed to the park.
We set up our QRP Guys vertical antennas quickly, then the rest of our gear. This time Mike shared my table since he always got hit by the Sun at the other table late in the afternoon.
W3TTT wanted a chance to work me as K3WWP so I told him we'd try about 10 minutes before the Hunt started so I called him for about 5 minutes starting right at 1650Z. I never heard as much as a single dit in response to my calls. I guess conditions from PA to MD just weren't good at that time.
I had intended to log with my computer, but I had some glitches and decided to go with paper logging instead. I figured my band 40 meters wouldn't be that active anyway. Well you can't be right all the time, and I did start off with a rush of QSOs. I had given Mike 20 meters hoping it would be the active band like it was back for the FOBB a couple weeks ago. Well, it was active, but when all was said and done at 2100Z, we wound up with 69 QSOs. Mike had 35 and I had 34 so both bands were virtually equal.
For the first couple hours we had to contend with thunderstorm static. I said to Mike it's almost like being at home with my local man-made noise. Although in between the static the noise level was zero at the park. At home I never get any breaks. The storms passed us by both north and south so there was no nearby lightning. It did rain lightly for about 5-10 minutes and we had to watch our equipment didn't get wet. We were in a roofed pavilion but age had made many holes in the roof. We got a few drops here and there, but nothing serious and no damage. The rain did cause one problem though. Somehow it seemed to mess up Mike's antenna system. Or it might have been one of his coax connections. Maybe a combination. Anyway it took a little time for us to figure it out. Finally one connection I tightened a bit seemed to do the trick, and we carried on.
The second half really slowed down. My totals by hour are as follows:
1700Z - 18
1800Z - 4
1900Z - 4
2000Z - 8
I don't have Mike's totals, but they were similar, I'm sure.
When we got home, we figured our totals of Skeeter and non-Skeeter QSOs and SPCs. We had 54 Skeeters and 25 SPCs. We got our summary ready and emailed it off to Larry W2LJ.
Of course as soon as we got home, we went to Wendy's for a meal before doing the work on the summary. I'm sure you guessed that if you follow our exploits over the years. HI
With that taken care of, it was on to other things like talking about sports, railroads, etc. Then we worked out our plans for activities the rest of the year. We decided on dates for our trips to Steamtown USA, Strasburg, etc. Perhaps I'll list them in a future diary entry along with dates for those two events.
Mike left just at 0000Z after a great day together. Later I checked past Skeeter results and our 69 QSOs seem to be in the top 5 overall QSO totals all-time going back to 2012. I plan to analyze that some more later today.
Now let's close with some pictures. Mike took several with his old film camera shown in the middle picture below and will get them developed later and send me some copies. Meanwhile here are a couple that I took with my digital camera. First a picture of Mike at our operating table showing the Skeeter Logo that we posted to earn 100 bonus points. Then Mike operating. Finally my station. In case you're wondering why no pictures of me in either the POTA or the Skeeter Hunt. I just thought I wouldn't risk damaging any cameras by taking my picture. OK, here we go.
Sun Aug 18 2019 09:04PM - We had a great time in the Skeeter Hunt today, and some pretty good results were put in our log. We totalled 69 QSOs, 54 of which were "Skeeters", and 25 SPCs. I'll have more to say about it tomorrow and post a couple pictures also. I'm a bit on the tired side right now. -30-
Sat Aug 17 2019 07:30PM - This was the first day since Roscoe came home a couple days ago that I was able to take him for four of his five daily walks. I really enjoyed that and I think he did also. I'll miss one or maybe two tomorrow again because of the Skeeter Hunt, but after that I should get four at least and probably five a day for most of the week. He really seemed used to being home again today after a couple of slightly unsure days.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow and the Skeeter Hunt. I sent out a promo for it on our NAQCC email list a little while ago and posted it on our NAQCC sked page as well. Hopefully conditions will be good and the weather as well. I'm going to take 40 meters since it was the poorer band in the FOBB and I'd like Mike to have the supposedly better band this time.
Still over an hour till streak QSO time. Think I'll check and see if there are any contests this weekend that would help me get a quick QSO. Only a couple not so promising DX contests. However last night I did work Karel OK1CF on 40 meters so I might be able to get a QSO in one of the DX contests. Even if I don't get anything tonight, I could always use my call in the Skeeter Hunt to get one QSO. Otherwise we'll be using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC.
I got an interesting email a little while ago asking if I ever get bored using the same mode and QRP power all the time. Simple answer - Nope. I emailed him a more detailed answer, and I may discuss that in the diary some time, but not now. -30-
Fri Aug 16 2019 07:25PM - Something new. Although I've done many parkpeditions before, this parkpedition was different today. We did it as an official POTA Activation. By we I mean Tom WB3FAE (whose idea it was) and me. Of course POTA stands for Parks on the Air. The park we put on the air was Moraine State Park near Butler PA.
We left around 9AM just after I walked Roscoe and stowing my gear in Tom's vehicle. Roscoe wasn't happy to see me leave again and he barked and whimpered. It took us about 45 minutes or so to drive to the park. When we got there, we immediately began setting up our stations. We were interrupted (pleasantly) by another ham who had just finished an Activation. His was with 100 watts on SSB while ours would be of course 5 watts on CW. After we finished the eyeball QSO, we continued setting up and by 11AM or so we were ready to get started. However the bands weren't ready to start and we went quite a while without any QSOs. I began to question my setup, especially the coax. However everything seemingly checked out fine, but my SWR and Power readings just weren't quite right. After some tinkering around, things started to look better. Still no QSOs for me though.
Tom finally worked someone and asked them to spot us on the POTA site. Things immediately picked up for Tom and he had a run of stations while I was still struggling even though the fellow spotted me too. Eventually I started to work stations and without going into details we operated until around 3:45PM by which time activity had drawn to a standstill and we decided to quit. Tom wound up with 23 QSOs on 20 meters with his best being France, Belgium, California, and British Colombia. I struggled to make 16 QSOs on 40 meters with my best being Kansas.
To be an official activation, 10 QSOs must be made. Since we were using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC, we made a total of 39 for N3AQC, and 23 for Tom, and 16 for me, I believe that counts for three activations if Tom and I understand the rules correctly.
All in all, even though activity was slow, the great weather made up for that, and we had a really enjoyable time today. On the way home we stopped at Ponderosa for a buffet meal. I treated Tom since he was kind enough to drive here to Kittanning to get me and then deliver me home afterwards. He went a good distance out of the way to do that.
Let's close now with some pictures:
Top to bottom
View of the lake
View of the lake
View of the lake with John's antenna
We both hope to have another activation soon now that we've learned a lot about doing one. The main lesson learned, I think, is that you must be spotted to have success as too many hams nowadays depend on spotting rather than just tuning the dial looking for stations. That's not my way, but to each his own.
Now almost time to go get my streak QSO, then a day off tomorrow, then off to the Kittanning Community Park for the Skeeter Hunt with Mike KC2EGL on Sunday. -30-
Thu Aug 15 2019 09:02PM - Well, Roscoe is finally home. What a great greeting I (and Jeff) got at the vet's. At first when he entered the hall and saw us, he hesitated a few seconds like he didn't recognize us, then he ran up to me and I kneeled down and got about 10 minutes of kisses. I don't think I've ever had someone be so happy to see me. We settled up with the vet and Roscoe ran out to the truck and jumped in. On the way home we stopped at Dairy Queen and got him a small vanilla ice cream cone which he promptly devoured. Back home now and pretty much back to normal. Finally!
Now after just getting my weather readings, I've got to wrap up this entry and get my gear ready for the trip to Moraine State Park for our (Tom WB3FAE, and I) POTA activation tomorrow. Tom has the details and all I really know is that we're doing 20 and 40 using N3AQC. He has times listed at 1300-2000Z, but we won't be starting that early. I'd say more like 1430Z since we will just be leaving here at 1300Z. Frequencies, I don't know. Maybe someone will spot us on the POTA site. If you're interested, you might check there.
We had a really bad TS today. We were at the vet's at the time. When we got home, there was an old apple tree blown over less that 100 feet from my back yard. No damage though except to the tree. A lot of little twigs and leaves blown down also. -30-
Wed Aug 14 2019 08:13PM - Same old broken record. Wait another day for Roscoe. The vet wasn't in today and we want to get Roscoe from her instead of any assistant in case there is anything we need to know and also hopefully she can answer some questions we have. So hopefully tomorrow.
I am now a POTA activator. I signed up for an account on the POTA web site. That means when (if?) Tom WB3FAE and I activate Moraine State Park on Friday using the N3AQC club call, both N3AQC and I will get credit for the QSOs I make. That is if I understand it correctly. I'm not really into POTA, but I might as well get credit for making QSOs, I guess. More about our POTA activation in tomorrow's diary when everything is finalized and certain.
I worked some DX this evening for my QSO, and he was about the only station, or one of a small handful of stations I was hearing on the bands. It was John YV5IUA on 30 meters. He had my call as KA3WWP for a while, but after sending K3 many times, he finally got it right. I guess conditions were noisy down there in Venezuela, just like here.
In addition to POTA (oh that's parks on the air in case you don't know) on Friday with Tom, Mike and I will be in the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday from Kittanning Community Park (no, it's not an official POTA park for whatever reason) probably for the full four hours from 1700-2100Z on 40 and 20. Then next week, possibly another visit to Moraine with Tom and Mike. Date yet to be decided. Then next Sunday (25th) down to Skyview for our annual QRP demo. Whew, a busy time coming up plus taking care of Roscoe in between all of that.
I got a couple railroad items in the mail today. Some flat black paint for painting part of my HO roadbed and maybe touch up work on a couple black locos. Also some traction tires for one of my HO engines. Installing them was fairly easy the first time I've ever done that. It helped the loco also. It knocked lap time down to 11 seconds from 13-14 seconds even with more rolling stock in the consist. -30-
Tue Aug 13 2019 08:48PM - The bands were decent tonight although sigs were up and down like an elevator. I worked N3FZ with s8/s9 signals to start, but they were down in my noise after just about 5 minutes or so. Then I got in the NAQCC sprint for a QSO with NN9K just so I can still say I've never missed one of our NAQCC sprints. That's 178 in a row now that I've entered even though conditions of late have prevented me from making more than a couple contacts.
Still no word on any more delays with Roscoe, so it looks like tomorrow will be the day he comes home barring something last minute tomorrow morning. -30-
Mon Aug 12 2019 08:48PM - Another couple days delay in getting Roscoe home. That ear just doesn't want to finish healing satisfactorily. So now the target day is Wednesday. Fingers crossed.
Conditions seem to be getting worse and worse, and perhaps that is keeping folks from getting on the bands making the situation even worse. Only a couple handfuls of stations heard in total on 80 through 20 meters. Finally and it wasn't easy, I worked N5DY on 40 in OK. The second day in a row my streak QSO was from the state of Oklahoma.Before that I almost got W6YA in CA on 20, but he just couldn't get my complete call beyond K3 and WP. I was just too weak out there on the left coast.
Depending on the situation with Roscoe, I might be doing a parkpedition with Tom WB3FAE at Moraine State Park on Friday for a POTA activation. Tom is pretty sure he'll be going. For me, I have to wait and see. More to follow. -30-
Sun Aug 11 2019 08:33PM - Well, that couldn't have been planned any better. I tuned around and found Carl N5XE calling CQ on 30 meters. I called and he came back to me. That gave me a perfect chance to thank him personally for the nice 25th anniversary card I got from him a couple days ago.
Yet another nice day today and I did some good walking and some more yard work. It's been very dry here of late so I gave my garden vegetables and flowers a good drink of water this morning. Then Ange came and I helped him water his garden as well.
Hopefully Roscoe will be coming home tomorrow. At least we didn't hear anything to the contrary this time. I'm looking forward to that. Some work is being done on his (owner's) house. It would be nice if that is done before he comes home in late afternoon, otherwise it might be a bit hectic as he doesn't like change of any kind. Although maybe the big change the past couple weeks will make him more adaptable. We'll see.
A lot of things coming up the next couple weeks also. Next Sunday is the Skeeter Hunt, then the Sunday after that is our annual Skyview visit and QRP demo. Maybe a train museum visit on the 30th. All of that with Mike, and we'll have our monthly pizza party on the 28th. It will be a busy time. -30-
Sat Aug 10 2019 08:44PM - Remember when I used to do a "Why is it that..." every once in a while? Well, I have one tonight. Why is it that sometimes you'll struggle to copy someone because of QSB, QRN, etc. and decide you might as well just say 73 and give up, and when you do suddenly signals improve drastically and you probably could have had a nice long rag chew now, but it's too late? That happened tonight on 30 meters in a QSO with KJ4RMJ in FL. He was at best a 459 being generous for several minutes and it was hard to copy, so I signed off with him, and his closing came through a good 579. Of course it happens vice-versa also. A 599 QSO can suddenly become 449 or even 339 at a moment's notice. I guess that's one of the fascinating things about ham radio.
It was another nice weather day like yesterday with a high of 82 and low humidity. Nice walking weather, and nice to do some yard work, both of which I did. -30-
Fri Aug 9 2019 07:48PM - Well, Roscoe's homecoming was delayed. The vet wasn't quite certain the ear healed completely and wants to keep him until Monday (at no extra charge). We think it's nice to have such a conscientious vet who cares so much about her patients and think that's best for Roscoe.
I got a beautiful card in the mail today from Carl N5XE offering his congratulations on the 25 years of the streak. I guess the printed wording on the card says it all in addition to the personal message from Carl. The front of the card goes as follows:
"Success takes... perseverance ambition passion courage heart humor talent." Then the inside of the card: "You've proven you've got what it takes to meet challenges, overcome obstacles, and pursue excellence to fulfill a dream. Congratulations on your well-deserved success."
Thank you very much Carl. Be assured that means a lot to me.
Not much else of real importance going on today. I enjoyed the nice mild day with low humidity and went for a few rather long walks. I also did some edging on my sidewalks and just sat on the porch enjoying the weather. Now it's time to head to the shack. -30-
Thu Aug 8 2019 08:46PM - Tomorrow is homecoming day for Roscoe. It will be great to see him again and get back in the routine of our daily walks.
Once again this evening, the bands were terrible. Virtually nothing on 40 or 20, and only the traffic net stations on 80. There were a couple good signals on 30. One was engaged in a long rag chew, and the other called CQ. I called and after a couple repeats we did make a QSO. It was N1RHY near Boston. So another day is added to the streak.
Nothing much else going on today. I did do some more updating on my web site. I brought my QSL stats partly up to date along with a few other little things here and there. I have now completed checking and correcting all the links on my links pages. -30-
Wed Aug 7 2019 05:57PM - I receivied an email today from Lester AJ5P with a question that I thought would make a good diary topic. He was in broadcasting as I once was and wondered what my duties were at WPIT. It might be simpler to say what were the duties I wasn't involved in. HI. Those would be sales and General Manager.
I probably can't even remember all the things I did do there, but I'll try to remember as much as possible. I started out basically as an engineer who drove to the transmitter site every day to make checks there, then to the studios where I hosted (introduced) the various taped religious programs until sign-off at 11PM or Midnight.
I also worked on the studio equipment while the tapes were running. From then on I don't exactly remember the order in which things happened, but I'll list them anyway.
I recorded various spots such as our sign-off with music and the National Anthem, promo spots for various programs, commercials, and the like.
I signed on the stations (AM/FM) on Saturday and Sunday mornings and ran the programs for the first several hours of the day, most of which were on tape.
I also ran the board for various live programs including religious and also ethnic. I could probably write a whole book about experiences with the ethnics. Let's see how many languages I can remember. Lithuanian, Italian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Slovenian, Slovak, Irish, German, Hungarian, Greek, and I'm probably forgetting one or two more. I worked with all of them in one way or other, but the ones I was closest to were Lithuanian, Italian, Irish, whom I worked with every week for a long time.
My "partner in crime" at the station was Reverend Charles Ray Thompson. He started out with a 15 minute religious program, and then was hired to work as a staff member. He and I hit it off something like Mike and I did and continue to do. I could write a second book about our exploits. We worked on all kinds of things together like handling the incoming program tapes and then getting them ready to mail back to the organizations who sent them in to be aired. We created new promos each week for various programs. And on and on. We also did things together away from the station like eating at various places, going to the Carnegie Science Center, and a lot of other places.
One thing that I got involved in was running both our AM and FM stations at the same time while still doing other things. I must say there were only a couple times in all the time I did that when I screwed up playing the wrong program or missing one of the station breaks. Most of the programming was on tape so we (Charlie did this also) ran one station a minute early and the other a minute late which made it relatively easy.
There are hundreds of things running through my mind as I type this, and I don't know where to go next. I also helped out in the front office a lot, working with billing, program logs, mailing out our little program guide we produced every so often. Now I must detour and elaborate on one mailing. Basically we (Charlie and I) while running the stations in the evenings would stuff the guide into envelopes, add a mailing sticker, and sort by zip code to get a certain postage rate. Oh, I also maintained the mailing list which I believe numbered a couple thousand or so. You can imagine working out just one issue of the guide took a LOT of time even with two of us working on it. Well, this one time after we spent the many many hours getting it ready to take to the PO to mail, it was noted that some of the material was dated in the guide, and the powers to be decided that we couldn't use it. After all that work!!! If it wasn't really so funny, I would have been a lot more upset than I was. The Program Manager and I wound up carting all the guides to a recycling center to be disposed of.
Wow, this is bringing back great memories. Another enjoyable time was the lunch break. The office girls, I and a couple staff announcers would get together and decide where we wanted to get our food from that day. We would always order food and go get it to eat in our lunch room. I often was the one to go out and get it from one of the many establishments we honored with our order. Probably another book could be written here.
Charlie and I also did a lot of odd jobs that needed doing like sweeping floors, other cleaning, touch up painting, and the like.
Although I liked everyone there, well maybe with one exception, but I won't dwell on that, there was another favorite, Tom McGough who was an announcer with his own program and a salesman. I would help him produce his program, mostly with some commercial spots. One time, and I would love to play the outtakes for you, we just could not get more than a few words recorded when one of us would break up mainly because of one joke he made about the product we were advertising. It took us about 15 minutes to record one 30 second spot. Tom was a minor league baseball player in the Cleveland Indians organization, and after work we often went to watch the last part of a Pirate game at the park just across the river from our studios.
I've gone way beyond answering Lester's question, and I'm going to add just one more thing, then close. We carried the Metropolitan Opera on Saturdays during their season of live broadcasts which as I remember lasted about 2/3/or 3/4 of a year. In the offseason we filled in with similar programming. One year the manager wanted to fill in with recorded opera broadcasts. Guess who got the job of hosting them, and being the local Milton Cross (he was the host of the live broadcasts from the Met) because I was good at pronouncing all the singers and characters names. Oh, and one final note, I also was a country music DJ when we filled in with country music in the early evenings from 5 or 6 until sunset when the AM station (a daytimer) signed off.
And that folks, ends a very long diary entry. -30-
Tue Aug 6 2019 08:38PM - 30 meters was pretty good this evening with several good signals showing on the PX3. One was K5WK at S9. I calle Ken and we had an 11 minute QSO before QSB as usual set in.
Not much else to talk about. I did update a few more links pages today. Also took a couple walks. I found out that Roscoe will be coming home on Friday. The vet wanted to wait a couple more days to be sure the ear healed completely before sending him home. -30-
Mon Aug 5 2019 08:35PM - Here are the folks who commented on the 25 year point of the streak: Glenn K3SWZ, Don W2JEK, Lester AJ5P, Tim K6ACF, Bill K4WLW, Ed KJ4R, John KK4ITX, Lane N8AFT. Hope I didn't miss anyone. I've been getting a lot of emails on various subjects lately.
I've also been getting a lot of visitors to my website lately. I don't know if it is because of the streak, dropping updates on my Windstream morror site, or maybe my site was posted in some prominent web site somewhere, or .........? I've had over 100 visits every day but one starting back on July 27. I 'only' had 99 on July 31. Today it's 107 and counting. I haven't had a run like that since I don't know when. The last time I had a month average over 100 a day was November 2018 with 109.7.
Tonight was as rough as any night lately and it took some doing to keep the streak going. I finally resorted to calling CQ on 80 meters and after 10-15 minutes I finally got an answer from Drew K1APJ who was very weak, but we did have an 8 minute QSO. -30-
Sun Aug 4 2019 08:12PM - Sometimes even after 25 years of daily QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSOs, I still get a bit amazed and surprised at how well that combination works. Tonight was such a night. In looking for a QSO, I found my old Swiss friend Andy HB9CVQ calling CQ on 30 meters. He was a 559 and I was being generous at that. I called him 3 or 4 times with no success, then went looking for someone else. Finding no one I went back to 30 and Andy was still calling CQ at the same strength. I called and got him on the first try with no repeats this time. I got a 449 report and the second 25 years of the streak is underway. HI
I am going through my links pages and updating them. There sure are a lot of changes since I last checked a few years ago. I just deleted a lot of the dead links. I never tried too hard to find a new link unless there was a forwarding page or something like that. I question the value of links pages anyway these days. If you want to find something there is the great Microsoft Bing search engine. Using that, I can find anything I want and usually get a lot more than I really need. It's wonderful. Maybe someday I'll just completely eliminate the links pages.
Oh, thanks to all who emailed comments about the streak. I'll list those folks in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Sat Aug 3 2019 08:30AM -
The above became reality for the streak at 0005Z when I worked K4XU, Dick in Oregon on 14.036 in the NAQP. Conditions were very poor just as they have been lately. If not for the NAQP and long skip on 20M, I might still be looking for a QSO.
As I said in an earlier version of this entry today, I did call CQ on 10122.5 for a solid 15 minutes from 0005 to 0020Z with nary a peep in response so I quit.
So where to now? I guess just keep doing what I have been doing for the past 25 years. Try for a QSO each and every day. Just a couple minutes ago I got an email from Lester AJ5P who said, "John, congrats on 25 and never a day off. Wow! Let's hope for 40." Well, I don't know about that. I would be 89 then at the 40 year mark. Maybe go for 30 and take it from there?
Thanks to all who have followed the streak to this point. I hope you'll all stick with me however long it does last. I hope you remember the point of the streak which is simply to prove the power of QRP / CW / simple wire antennas. You don't need QRO / other modes / big beam antennas to succeed and have fun in ham radio. Those things are helpful in emergency situations to be sure but are not needed for every day contacts.
Here's what I wrote earlier in the day in this entry.
I have decided to just use the NAQP at 0000Z for a quick QSO to secure the 25 year mark of the streak. Then time permitting I will try some CQs around 10122.5 on 30 meters in case anyone reading this would like to try to work me on this memorable day for me. I figure 80, 40, and 20 will be too crowded with NAQP participants for QRP signals, especially with the poor conditions at this sunspot minimum.
I'll then modify this diary entry after that. -30-
Fri Aug 2 2019 09:17PM - And then there was one. One day left for the streak to hit the quarter century mark. I had a rough time on the penultimate day this evening. All the bands were almost dead until finally after about 30 minutes, 30 meters showed signs of life, and I worked N9JYJ in Ponca City, OK. Whew. Of course had the bands stayed dead I still would have had the NAQP tomorrow afternoon for a sure QSO. I think I will just use the NAQP tomorrow evening to get that 25 year QSO rather than do anything special. Should I change my mind I'll put it in the diary tomorrow afternoon.
Everything still the same with Roscoe. I'm sure looking forward to him coming home, hopefully on Thursday if not sooner.
Not much else new today, just the usual everyday things. -30-
Thu Aug 1 2019 05:50PM - I just engaged in something interesting. I got an email from someone (I won't mention names or calls) who said he found an error on my site dealing with call signs. He said the info I had for a certain call was wrong because his father owns the call, not the person I mentioned. Well, I knew my info was correct so I scanned a card I had from the person I mentioned and emailed it to him. Then I went to the Ham Call web site remembering they had archived callbook listings. I looked up station xxx for the year 1969 and it showed my person as the call owner. I continued on looking at 1972 and 1977 when no one owned the call. Then in 1983 it did show the emailer's father as the call owner. So his dad got the call sometime between 1977 and 1983. I haven't had any more emails from him yet, but that wasn't long ago I sent mine.
In the process, I noticed Ham Call now has a different URL so I changed my link on my DX searches page to the correct one.
Hey, only three more days to reach the 25 year mark for my streak. When I work someone on August 4, that will complete the first 25 years of the streak. To get another 25 I would have to live and be in good health at age 99. Not much chance. Anyway I had a couple ideas about a QSO for that date. I haven't decided whether I will use them or not. Perhaps I'll just treat it as a normal regular QSO. I thought maybe contact KG9N for a sked since he was my first QSO in the streak. Or maybe a couple very special friends - Dave VA3RJ or Mike KC2EGL or Tom WY3H. Or maybe just give a frequency and call CQ there starting at 0000Z on the 4th. I don't know. I'll think about it the next couple days. Maybe I'll just be lazy and use the NAQP contest for my QSOs on both the 3rd and 4th.
For those follwing Roscoe's progress, his stitches were bothering him a bit, so the vet removed them a little earlier than planned. Everything else is still going absolutely great. Still shooting for him to come home Thursday. -30-
Wed Jul 31 2019 05:05PM - I seem to have gotten all of my end of month chores done quickly this month and found some extra time to fool around, especially while Rosoce is away at the vet hospital. He's still doing very well and should be coming home in just about a week now.
I used some of the extra time to figure out how many different ham calls I've used in my ham career and how many QSOs I've made with each one. So here we go with the call, first QSO, last QSO (to this point in time) and how many QSOs.
K3WWP - 9/14/1963 to 7/31/2019 - 90,640
N3AQC - 5/19/2006 to 7/28/2019 - 2,313
N3A - 10/16/2006 to 6/23/2019 - 1,429
N3A/3 - 10/1/2007 to 10/25/2008 - 791
KN3WWP - 4/8/1963 to 9/8/1963 - 438
NY3EC - 9/12/2013 to 6/2/2019 - 158
WA3IXO - 10/16/1967 to 3/7/1968 - 121
KB3MQT - 10/5/2005 to 3/29/2006 - 54
K3WWP/3 - 2/10/1967 to 10/13/1967 - 41
WA3IXO/3 - 10/14/1967 to 1/19/1968 - 19
N3AQC/MM - 8/13/2009 to 8/13/2009 - 4
K3MJW - 8/23/2009 to 8/23/2009 - 1
Explanation of each call:
KN3WWP - My regular call as a Novice
K3WWP - My regular everyday call (for lack of a better description HI)
K3WWP/3 - Portable in Pittsburgh while at WPIT
WA3IXO - A second call I held licensed to my Pittsburgh address when I worked at WPIT. I held it for just one license term.
WA3IXO/3 - Used the Pittsburgh call in Kittanning.
KB3MQT - First NAQCC club call
N3AQC - Second NAQCC club call
N3AQC/MM - NAQCC club call used on the USS Requin
N3A - NAQCC special event call
N3A/3 - When we used N3A/1, N3A/2, N3A/3.......N3A/0
NY3EC - The call of the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh
K3MJW - The call of the Skyview ARA
I found that interesting. Hope you did also. Next I have an idea to list all the locations I've operated from. I don't think I'll be able to list dates and QSOs with that list though. -30-
Tue Jul 30 2019 04:20PM - I've gotten a couple questions about Roscoe and also about the antenna I used for the FOBB on Sunday. So since nothing much else is happenning today, I'll answer them.
First of all, Roscoe is still doing just great. The staff at the vet's have really taken to him, and they say they'll miss him when he leaves there and comes home. Right now it looks like that won't be until around August 8. They want to be absolutely certain that the ear is completely healed before they release him, and we agree with that because if anything does happen, he'll have skilled help right there.
As for the antenna, it is from QRP Guys. See https://qrpguys.com/qrpguys-tri-band-portable-vertical-antenna for info on that.
As for the mount, I use a 20' Jackite pole as listed here. Mine is the 20' size with the extra thick tip (3/16") which reduces flexing nicely. You can see how solid and straight it is in yesterday's diary picture. I mounted it on a 31" long piece of angle iron (5/8" x 5/8") filed to a point to facilitate driving it into the ground. The pole is bungee corded to the angle iron as shown in the pictures below. I drive the angle iron about halfway into the ground (15" or so), then fasten the antenna PC board with bungee cords to the pole about 2 inches above the top of the angle iron (actually I think it's aluminum to be correct). Then the pole and antenna are extended to full height, the four radials are fastened to the PC board and extended. The switches are set to the desired band, the coax is connected to the bandpass filter unit (bought separately from a different source) then to the KX3, and in maybe 10 or so minutes it's time to have fun operating. No guy wires at all are needed. Now the pictures:
Any questions, email and ask. -30-
Mon Jul 29 2019 12:56PM - Here's a report with pictures from yesterday's FOBB.
Mike and I set up at Kittanning, PA Community Park in the 1600-1700Z hour. After some glitches finally traced to a short coax run between Mike's KX3 and his 40M bandpass filter, we got started in earnest a minute or so past the starting time of 1700Z. 40 was sporadic with contacts coming and going. 20 started slowly, then erupted into a flurry of activity. I wished I had brought my laptop for logging as I could hardly keep up with the pace from about 1715 to 1829 when I logged 38 QSOs logging all on paper. It slowed down for the rest of the contest. Mike and I both used our new portable vertical antennas from QRP Guys, and we were both pleased with them and I think they will be our antennas of choice unless or until something better comes along. They are easy and quick to set up with Jackite poles and take up very little ground space.
You wouldn't know we were at a sunspot minimum. Virtually all signals were strong with very few repeats needed either way. Finally activity did drag to pretty much a standstill about a half hour before the contest ended and we shut down about 20 minutes before the end. We wound up with 78 QSOs which seems to be the best we've done in either a FOBB or Spartan Sprint according to a glance through my old diary entries and old NAQCC newsletters. We made contacts from all parts of the country from WA to ME to FL to NM and many places in between. It was really a lot of fun and the weather was great with no rain, a lot of sun and the humidity wasn't all that high.
We tore down and headed home, then to Wendy's for dinner. Back home again we made up and sent in our FOBB report. Then we watched some train videos and made my streak QSO before Mike headed home. Here are the pictures from our FOBB report.
That's Mike, his antenna
me, my antenna
the park pavillion. -30-
Sun Jul 28 2019 09:24PM - A really great day today. The weather was great for our outing in the park working the FOBB contest. I took 20 meters and Mike took 40. Between us, we made 78 QSOs which seems to be the most QSOs in any FOBB or Skeeter Hunt. I'll have more to say about it in tomorrow's diary entry as I'm a bit on the tired side now. There will also be some pictures, probably the ones we included with our FOBB report we sent out earlier this evening.
Mike left just a few minutes ago after we sent the report, watched some train videos and went to my shack to get my streak QSO who turned out to be N0JSD down in VA. -30-
Sat Jul 27 2019 08:35PM - I used the IOTA contest this evening for my streak QSO(s). I worked K3EST on 20, then WA1Z on 40.
Looking forward to the FOBB contest tomorrow with Mike at the Kittanning Community Park. The weather should be good. I hope the bands are. I did a little tweaking of my portable vertical antenna today.
I'm missing Roscoe and looking forward to when he is able to come home. -30-
Fri Jul 26 2019 08:43PM - I wish more people would realize that just because we are in a sunspot minimum, the bands are NOT dead. There seems to always be some signals somewhere, often quite strong ones like K5WK on 30 meters in MS this evening whom I worked easily. We chatted about 16 minutes and could have gone longer but his wife called him for dinner. Since there are not as many signals on the bands now, it really helps to have a panadapter to find those 'needles in a haystack'. Otherwise it would take much much longer to find someone to work unless you only sit on one frequency and call CQ to get your QSOs. Then a panadapter is not very useful.
Good news about Roscoe. The vet called Bruce this evening and he is doing just fine in the 'hospital'. All the staff really like him, and probably when his stay ends, he'll be even more spoiled and so will the staff. HI
I'm pretty sure I'm going to end my web site mirror on windstream.net and stick with just k3wwp.com on Cahaba Internet. That will cut down on a little work here and also the FTP to Cahaba is more secure than Windstream. So if you don't see any updates on Windstream, please use only k3wwp.com. I'll have more to say about that in the coming days. -30-
Thu Jul 25 2019 09:03PM - Some of you asked about Roscoe, and I'm pleased to report the surgery went all according to plan today. He'll be staying at the vet hospital for a while now mainly to be sure he dosen't try to get at the sutures. We figured it would be better to have in a small cage there than a big house here where there is a lot more room for damaging the ear before it heals.
Otherwise it was another nice day today with reasonable temperature and humidity. I took a couple fairly long walks.
It was DX for my streak this evening. Another QSO with Ger HK7AAG on 30 meters after I called a couple other stations with no success. -30-
Wed Jul 24 2019 09:47PM - Mike is here and after I write this first paragraph I'll turn it over to him to add his thoughts. My streak QSO came in a hurry tonight when I found and worked KD9CK in IL on 20 meters at 0001Z. There were several strong signals on 20, but I didn't listen to see where they were from since I wanted to get my QSO in before Mike arrived. OK, now here's Mike.
Greetings all. After our monthly pizza night John and I worked on plans for two operating events. This weekends Flight of the Bumblebees contest. We will be operating N3AQC from the Kittanning Community Park. And we began setting up a monthly visit to the USS Requin. We will be starting our operations onboard the Requin on the 26th of September. Art WA3BKD was very receptive to the idea. It looks like we will be operating from the Requin every 4th Thursday of the month barring any closures due to holidays or any other issues that may arise. We will have more information as September 26th approaches. Hope to see you on the radio. DE Mike KC2EGL 73. -30-
Tue Jul 23 2019 08:10PM - The Sun has been very quiet for quite a while now. Let's see when the last time the SF was 70 or higher. The last 70 reading was way back on June 12 which was also the last day it was above 68. I'd say we're definitely sitting right in the middle of a solar minimum with nowhere to go but up now. Still the bands are open to somewbere every day. This evening 20 was open to Arizona and I worked special event station K7O. It honors the Lowell Observatory and its participation in the lunar landing 50 years ago.
I've had a lot on my mind lately. My friend Roscoe has had an ear infection and now has a hematoma in one ear. He will be getting surgery on Thursday and I am hoping that all goes well. It's amazing how attached one can get to a dog, even though he is not really mine, but my neighbor's. -30-
Mon Jul 22 2019 08:18PM - I've been curious about this for a while now and finally figured it out. How many consecutive days now have I gotten my streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. The last time I didn't was March 23 this year when I worked K4QS at 0118Z. I don't remember now why it was late. Let me check my diary to see if there is any clue there. Nope no clue there, and while checking, I see my March 22 entry was truncated somehow. Strange. Anyway that's now 122 straight days for a 0000Z hour QSO. Now I've probably jinxed things and won't get anyone in the 0000Z hour tomorrow.
Finally a cool day today with the temperature in the upper 60s to low 70s all day. It felt good. Now it will gradually warm up the rest of the week again.
Oh, my QSO tonight at 0006Z was with N9OL in IN who was running 4 watts on 20 meters. Good solid 2X QRP signals. I could use more of those kind of QSOs. -30-
Sun Jul 21 2019 09:07PM - Watching the replay of the moon walk last night was another real joy. The coverage was from the NASA channel so I got to hear a lot more than the original airing in 1969 when the TV reporters would often talk over the astronauts or mission control. I've also been enjoying watching coverage of the current Big Boy Midwest Tour. Quite a bit of it has been covered from various sources, mostly taped coverage a little later in the day or the next day.
The bands were only fair tonight, but I did manage to work WA0BAG in TN on 30M despite him being pretty much down in my noise.
This was the hottest day of the year here so far. The high was 96 degrees, but it wasn't quite as humid as it could have been, so it was survivable. -30-
Sat Jul 20 2019 08:27PM - So far, the highlight of the day was watching the rebroadcast of the Lunar Landing exactly 50 years ago today. I'm so glad they used the CBS tape with Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra. I always thought they were the best space coverage broadcast team among the three networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC. I always watched them when a space shot was on. Oh, I did watch Jules Bergman on ABC a bit here and there mainly when CBS was in a commercial break or otherwise skipping a bit of coverage. I can't even remember who Jules teamed with. Someone named Frank ?? As for NBC, I think it was david Brinkley and someone. I could look it up but I'm not going to.
Later tonight around 11PM I'll watch the rebroadcast of Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon. Hope that's CBS also.
What an exciting year this has been with the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, and now the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing and Moon walk.
20 meters was pretty good this evening with several strong signals, but some were not hearing me. Finally KP4TF did get my call after a couple tries and that continued the streak another day getting closer to I guess a much less important anniversary on August 5. That's the 25th anniversary of the first daily QSO in the streak. -30-
Fri Jul 19 2019 08:12PM - Has it really been 50 years? Yes, or it will be tomorrow. I'm talking about the Apollo 11 moon landing. What a great event that was in a great period in history. The space age had some problems, but overall it was a great time to be alive. I vividly remember working at WPIT following the landing on our little TV set. I remember being disappointed when they moved up the time of the moonwalk. I had thought I'd be home in time to see it all, but now I had to cheat a bit and sign the station off a few minutes early, get to my car, drive home hurriedly and run up to my third floor apartment. I wanted to tape (audio - didn't have a video recorder then) the walk. I threw the recorder down on the bed and it bounced on the floor, but still worked and I got all but those very first few words issued by Neil. I've still got those tapes (dubbed from reel to reel to cassettes) somewhere up in my attic, I believe. In fact I have a lot of audio I taped off the TV from the Space Program.
Personally I rate Apollo 8 equally with 11 as far as memories go. When Borman, Anders, and Lovell circled the moon, the first time humans had done so, and recited those verses from the Bible, it's hard even now to describe the feeling. Having it occur on Christmas Eve just added to the wonderful experience.
Tomorrow the NASA channel will rebroadcast the original tapes of the landing, and subsequent moonwalk. Times will be 4:02 and 10:38PM EDT, precisely 50 years from the actual events.
As far as ham radio, I worked DX for my streak QSO. Ger HK7AAG, whom I've worked several times over the years was the guilty party in an easy QSO on 30 meters. -30-
Thu Jul 18 2019 01:07PM - Thought I'd do an early diary entry today and "show off" what came in the mail a little bit ago.
Pretty much the same as the previous few years but with a new picture and the addition of a K2Z QSO for the Manager Bonus. -30-
Wed Jul 17 2019 09:15PM - Another of those busy days today. Not exciting busy, just busy so I won't bother with details.
I had to go out to get a battery for my answering machine this evening and was late getting to the shack, but when I did get there, I got a quick QSO with K9VP in IN that lasted 16 minutes till QSB set in. Then I tried our NAQCC sprint, but didn't hear a single signal, so once again I have to report I participated but didn't make any QSOs. I hate doing that, but.... -30-
Tue Jul 16 2019 08:58PM - 30 meters was the star this evening like 40 was last night. Several good signals including PJ2Y whom I worked right away at 0001Z. Then I decided to try some CQs and got answers from WA5VSK and old friend Carl N5XE. WA5VSK was a rough QSO but Carl was solid copy for about 15 minutes.
Not a lot else to talk about out of the ordinary things. Laundry (a day late), shopping, taking care of Roscoe, playing with trains, etc. -30-
Mon Jul 15 2019 08:47PM - The bands were a bit better this evening with quite a few decent signals on 40 meters especially. It didn't take long to work WA4LJJ for a quick streak QSO.
I received 10 pieces of 9" HO straight track today and expanded my HO layout to what looks somewhat like a Martinsville speedway oval.
The weather was good again today and I did some more outdoors work. I also just got home from an nice combo walk and shopping trip. That pretty much covers the day. -30-
Sun Jul 14 2019 07:45PM - Anyone reading this in France or anyone from France? If so, Happy Bastille Day! It's just about over now, so hope you had a good one.
Not a lot going on today. I did a little yard work and just walked downtown for some shopping. I sat on the porch with Roscoe for a while enjoying the nice weather. Mostly sunny and warm, but low humidity.
I never did get any pictures yet from the BVARA demo the other night. If I do, I will post them.
Almost time now to go to the shack and try for my streak QSO. I'm closing in on the 25 year mark now on August 4. That's 21 more days according to my rough figuring. Sure hope I make it and don't fall short like the DX streak ending last year with just 20 days to go for 2,000 days in that case. -30-
Sat Jul 13 2019 08:23PM - I've got a new DX streak going. It's at TWO days now after working TM0HQ in the IARU HF Championships. Wow!
Other than that, the highlight of the day was getting three packages in the mail. One set of DVDs with the mainline Little Rascals episodes from 1929-1938. One set of DVDs with the MGM era of Little Rascals episodes from 1938-1944. A Broadway Limited Exports Train Catalog. They sure have a lot of (pricey) nice things in there including an HO Big Boy 4010 for "only" $749.99. It's more of a wish catalog than anything else at those prices, but...
I also ordered a new pole for mounting my portable vertical antenna which should be sturdier than the homebrew one that turned out to be just too flexible in even a moderate breeze. Hopefully we'll give it a test when Mike and I operate the Flight of the Bumblebees on July 28. -30-
Fri Jul 12 2019 12:40PM - I thought I'd write about last night's demo while it is still fresh in my mind. A few months ago, Jim KC3IXE asked me if I would be willing to give a demo on QRP/CW at one of their Beaver Valley ARA club meetings. I agreed. Then we had some delays due to this and that. Finally a firm date was set - July 11 at their second Thursday of the month meeting. One of the delays was the timing for Mike because of his work. However now that he was retired, that restriction no longer applied.
Mike came down early in the afternoon and we did a little soldering work on his portable antenna and a few other things. We decided to leave for the club around 4:00, which we did. One of the GPS routes took the PA Turnpike and Mike didn't want to pay the toll. The route he decided on took us on what seemed every back road in Western PA. We did get to see a lot of nice homes and nice scenery along the way and only missed one turn, I think. In Ambridge though, we realized the GPS had the wrong address, 911 14th Street instead of the 911 Center on 14th Street. After we rectified that and arrived at the site, we were warmly greeted by Jim who introduced us to other members of the club. We set our equipment in the meeting room and went outside to look for a site for the portable antenna. It was the same antenna we used at the Butler hamfest back in June. It went up quickly and perfectly. Then we had to position a long run of coax to connect it to the meeting room. After connecting it to the KX3 and hooking up the PX3, paddle, battery, etc., we waited while the club held their business meeting. Then it was time for Mike and I to head to the podium.
They had something there called a mickey phone or something like that (inside joke). They had their own laptop connected to a huge projection screen which made it easy for our demo.
Briefly, the demo started with me using material from my web site on the screen for the members to glance at or read while I commented on the content. After I went through sections on my biography, station and antenna pictures, working DX, my streaks, and the like, I fielded some very good questions from the club members. Then we kind of segued over to Mike who commented on the NAQCC after showing the club video on the web site. Then Mike talked about portable operating while we showed pictures of some of our operating sessions.
All in all it was a very good demo. All the club members were very receptive to the demo. We didn't notice any of the anti-CW or anti-QRP feelings that are present at some ham clubs. They were just a great bunch of folks as Mike and I agreed as we headed home.
Before we did leave though we showed off the KX3/PX3 setup. A lot of the members were impressed with both the KX3, PX3, and our portable antenna. Mike fielded a lot of questions about them while I attempted to make some contacts. It was rough being in the middle of all the talking going on, but I did manage to work K4IBZ in Florida on 40 meters easily. I think that definitely showed the members that QRP/CW and simple antennas do work well. That QSO also turned out to be my streak QSO for the 12th since it was after 0000Z.
While Jim and I went out to tear down the antenna, Mike was still answering questions about this and that. After a while we wrapped everything up and headed home. Jim told us it would be much easier if we just took route 65 and then hooked up with route 28 just north of Pittsburgh which would take us right here to Kittanning. That was much simpler than the GPS route taking us to the meeting.
A few times on the route home Mike and again commented how much we enjoyed the demo and how great all the members were. Mike took off for home as soon as we arrived at my house since it was almost 11:00.
Jim and some other members said they would send me some pictures. When I get them, I'll post them here in the diary along with a couple I took of our antenna. -30-
Thu Jul 11 2019 10:59PM - Just got home from the Beaver Valley ARA demo that Mike and I gave. I'm tired now, so I'll wait till tomorrow's entry to talk about the demo, and maybe have some pictures. -30-
Wed Jul 10 2019 08:37PM - Conditions were even worse tonight than last, but I managed to find and work KG8V in MI on 80M for the streak.
I picked my first ripe tomato today. About a month+ late for a normal Siberian tomato, but the plants are doing very good and I should get quite a few more now over the next couple months or so.
Mike will be stopping by tomorrow to do a few things including a demo on QRP/CW at the Beaver Valley ARA tomorrow evening. Hopefully conditions will be better and we can add a couple QSOs to the demo. -30-
Tue Jul 9 2019 8:49PM - I honestly thought we had passed through the sunspot minimum and conditions were improving 2 or 3 months ago. Well, they were, but now I'm convinced that was just a fluke. The last few weeks now I have really had to scramble to get my streak QSO. At least the 13 colonies event helped last week. Tonight though, it was just about the worst I've seen. The KW of W1AW and a couple other stations were the only strong signals I was hearing. Everything else was down in my noise level even though the noise seems to have let up somewhat of late. I started a QSO with KM4DR, but QSB and QRN ended that before it lasted long enough to count as a legit QSO. I continued to look around and found VA3ZB who was a bit stronger but still right at my noise level. We did work a couple rounds so that did count for the streak. Whew!
It was another nice day today although a bit warmer than yesterday. I spent most of the day indoors though. I did some work on my trains. I fixed an indicator light on one of my Lionel switches. The socket was just a press fit and was intermittent. I soldered it, and that cured the problem. Then I did some work on the new layout for my HO trains. I changed some old track to some newer Bachmann EZ track which is what I'll be using exclusively from now on. I got some track connectors in the mail today, and hope to get some pieces of track in a couple more days. -30-
Mon Jul 8 2019 08:42PM - A nice day today with no rain, lower temperature and humidity. So I did some outside work cleaning grass and weeds from my brick sidewalk and painting my front porch railing.
Inside I worked on my trains a bit. I am one track piece short of a second HO circle layout so yesterday I ordered a few extra curved pieces and some straight pieces. I plan to expand my HO layout now that I have the Lionel layout working very good. I want to add some switches and get some buildings now. Also maybe some things like a semaphore, railroad crossing sign, water tower, etc.
I also worked a bit on the smoke units in my 736 and 2037 engines. I think I finally figured out just how much smoke fluid to put in the 736, and also remembered to shake the bottle before adding it. I've got some new smoke pellets for the 2037, and after I use up the last old pellet I have, I'll try them.
Ham radio - It was nice to hear several DX stations on this evening. Apparently getting ready for the IARU Championships. I worked KP2M for the streak, and then just listened around for a while. -30-
Sun Jul 7 2019 08:35PM - And the winner is VA. I worked K2B on 4 different bands. Next were K2E DE, K2G GA, K2H MA ON 3 bands. WM3PEN, K2I NJ, K2C RI, K2F MD on 2 bands. On just a single band were K2L SC, K2J NC, K2M PA, K2K NH, K2A NY, K2D CT. I could have gotten more multi-band QSOs, but I didn't really try until I got all 13 on one band locked in. Tonight I added K2Z which was a special station run by the 13 Colonies folks who run the event, mainly Ken KU2US. I didn't know about K2Z until I was looking at the 13 Colonies web site today. I'm glad I was looking now.
A couple days ago I asked Mike if he would be interested in signing up to operate K2M PA in the 2020 event. He said yes, so we'll see if we can do so. I know they accept QRP stations although the majority are QRO stations with big antenna farms. I was thinking we could operate portable from the place we do our parkpeditions, the Kittanning Community Park. We'll see what develops from the idea. -30-
Sat Jul 6 2019 08:45PM - DX!! Yes, I actually worked DX this evening, and it wasn't that hard. I heard SI9AM in the MM contest, called, got a K3?, sent my call twice and made the QSO with no repeats needed on the exchange. Also tried OH8WW who usually hears me, but not tonight. I also worked a couple K2 stations, but not new for the second time. Worked K2G (K4BAI at the key) for the third time. Also K2E for the third time. Very unlikely now I'll get all 13 at least twice.
We had a cold front come through this evening which cooled it off a bit after a high of 91 earlier in the day. It's supposed to be less humid and cooler tomorrow also.
I worked with my trains a bit today. I cleaned and oiled the wheels on most of my Lionel rolling stock. I also expanded my HO layout a bit and fooled with the train speedometer comparing it's readings against what I computed by measuring lap times. Came out pretty close after I adjusted a couple paramaters on the speedometer and recomputed the readings for the expanded track in my computations. I also cleaned the HO track which I hadn't done in a while. Actually the new old pieces of track I added were the dirtiest as they hadn't been used in I don't know how long by the person who gave the track to me.
Fri Jul 5 2019 09:18PM - I had a busy evening and I'm running a bit late so just a short entry.
I worked a few of the K2 stations this evening. I don't think I'm going to make my secondary goal of working each one at least twice though. I only have the following a second time: GA VA DE MA WM3PEN NJ RI. Conditions were better this evening and maybe if they stay that way I'll have a chance. Let's see, well, it runs until 0400Z Monday so that gives me 2 full days plus to do it.
Anyway time to go walk Roscoe now, so I'll close. -30-
Thu Jul 4 2019 07:40PM - I finally managed to find and work K2K for NH to finish the sweep of the 13 colonies. That was sometime around Noon on 20 meters. At first K2K was barely audible, but the band was unstable and I waited till his signal came up and got him with several repeats. I think that's 4 years in a row now I've gotten the sweep. I'll check that later to be sure.
I think I may try to get all 13 again now before the event ends. I'll use a different band for each one and won't duplicate any on the same band on which I already worked them. I've already got a couple. -30-
Wed Jul 3 2019 08:49PM - Still no NH worked or even heard. There is a huge pileup working something I can't hear on 20 meters. Perhaps a lot of folks need NH also and that's who or what they are working. Oh well, I still have a few days left, and even if I don't get NH, my world isn't going to change or end.
For the streak, I worked K2B on 20 meters.
I had some trouble getting it to work, but I finally did get the train speedometer to work after I played with the USB COM port settings on my laptop. It's a neat little device. I don't know how often I'll be using it, but it is fun to play with for now at least. -30-
Tue Jul 2 2019 08:42PM - Last year it seemed every time I went searching for the 13 Colonies stations, I heard K2K New Hampshire on every band. This year I have 12 of the 13 worked so far. Know which one I still need? That's right.
Late last night I worked K2I NJ for #10. Today I got K2F MD in the 19Z hour, then in the 22Z hour I got #12 in K2C RI as soon as I turned the rig on.
Tonight for my streak I worked K2G on a different band, 30M. I think I'll do the same the rest of the week - just work a K2 station on a new band. Might as well take it easy while I search for elusive NH.
I did a little railroad work today. I hooked up my remote switches to a fixed voltage source since my engines run so efficiently now at low track voltage, the switches don't deploy well at that voltage. Now they do with the separate fixed voltage. I also worked on the train speedometer kit I got yesterday. I just have a few more connections to make and I can try it out. I might wait till tomorrow to finish it up. -30-
Mon Jul 1 2019 08:52PM - 9+1 Down and 4+1 to go. Today in about 1 hour 15 minutes divided between this afternoon and evening I worked K2A NY, K2B VA, K2D CT, K2E DE, K2G GA, K2H MA, K2J NC, K2L SC, K2M PA, + WM3PEN PHILA. Still need K2C RI, K2F MD, K2I NJ, K2K NH + GB3COL to get a clean sweep in this year's 13 Colonies Event. Actually WM3PEN and GB3COL are not needed for the we sweep, just the 13 K2 stations will do, but it's nice to get PEN and COL also. Conditions were really good today all the way from 80 through 20 which made working the K2 stations easy. I worked all that I heard. I could have worked some on multiple bands, but I'm only going for one QSO from each colony.
I got four packages in the mail today from my Ebay browsing. A couple of fixed voltage plugs for my Lionel switches. The Leonard Maltin book on the Little Rascals. A soldering iron stand. A train speedometer. So some new toys to play with the next couple days. -30-
Sun Jun 30 2019 07:50PM - And another month bites the dust. It was a very rough month for getting my daily streak QSOs, but I prevailed getting the QSO in the 0000Z hour all of the 30 June days. I hope I can do the same for all the July days and the first few days in August so I can hit 25 years - a Quarter Century - of daily QSOs with CW/QRP/Simple Wire Antennas. We'll have to wait and see. At least July 1 should be easy with the RAC Contest.
Of course today was a day of Last of The Month activities here of which I have most completed except putting the weather in my computer and flipping the rest of my calendars over to July.
Right now, I've got my laundry in the washer for the end of the week activity. And in a couple minutes it's off to the shack to get that quick (hoefully) RAC QSO. -30-
Sat Jun 29 2019 08:35PM - Conditions seem to be getting worse each day. Both with propagation and my local noise level. It may be a real struggle to make it to August 4 for my streak to reach 25 years, but I definitely won't give up easily. After (if) I make the 25 year mark, I may have some tough decisions to make.
I had somewhat of a strange QSO on 30 meters this evening. I heard KB3VQU calling CQ and answered him, then my noise attacked and I only got his QTH in Wilmington, DE. Then when he turned it back to me, he used the call K3SAV. The noise was so bad that if he explained, I missed it. I did copy enough to figure maybe his home call was KB3VQU and K3SAV was a ship call. After the QSO I looked it up on WM3D and found that was pretty much right. K3SAV is the Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC call. So I guess I'll log it as KB3VQU with a note about K3SAV. Since that will be my last QSO for June, I think maybe now I'll upload my June QSOs to LoTW and eQSL.
For the weather fans out there, it was not so hot and humid today. The high was just 84 with somewhat lower humidity. -30-
Fri Jun 28 2019 08:27PM - I've said this a few times before, but having the PX3 Panadapter really makes a difference when getting on the bands. I think without it, my streak would have ended some time ago as it would have been just too hard to find a station by tuning across a band listening for one. With the PX3 all it takes is a glance at the screen to see if there is any activity on a band and if there is, just tune to the peak on the screen to listen to see who it is and if he is calling CQ or immersed in a rag chew. I'll never go to the next step and use something like the Skimmer which automatically identifies the call for each peak on the screen. That's just too easy while something like the PX3 is a reasonable amount of assistance in my opinion. With it you still have to tune and then listen to ID a station.
Tonight I turned on the rig, saw a peak a little higher in frequency than the KX3 was tuned to at the moment, tuned to the peak, IDed it as special event call N4T calling CQ, answered and got my QSO at 0002Z.
One of my past favorites when I was into entering virtually every CW contest, and one of my newest favorite activities both start on Monday July 1. I used to enter the Canada Day contest every July 1, but haven't done so for several years now except to use it to get my streak QSO. Also on July 1 is the start of the 13 Colonies Event which lasts for about 7 days. I'll definitely be in that to try to get all the special calls, one from each of the 13 colony states for a clean sweep which I've done the past few years now. I'll also try for WM3PEN and GB13COL. I haven't had any luck with GB3COL yet - maybe this year.
Today was groomer's day for Roscoe. Time to get that short haircut for the hot summer months ahead plus a bath and manicure (pedicure?, pawicure?). He really looks great now and probably feels better also as it is starting to get hot now. The groomer really likes to work on Roscoe because he is so easy to work on, and never gives her a hard time in any way.
I said it was hot today. How hot? My remote unit says the high was 92, and it was very humid. Still I didn't mind it as much as yesterday which was about the same. I guess yesterday was my heat training day and now I'm ready for what the weather throws at me. Hope so, anyway. -30-
Thu Jun 27 2019 09:38PM - Last night was our (Mike and I) pizza night, and after enjoying the pizza, we put together our FD report for the ARRL. That did not go smoothly and took quite a bit of time. I won't elaborate. When we finally got through that, we watched some railroad videos before Mike had to head home.
Today was our first really hot and humid day with a high of 93. As with every other year, I really drag on the first couple of H&H days. Then I get used to them after that. Looks like we will have a few more in the next few days.
I did some garden work in the evening after it cooled down a bit. I tied up my tomatoes and noticed that I have a lot of small green ones on the plants. I also put up a rope for my beans to climb. The way they were going I didn't think I'd need it this year, but lately they've picked up and are climbing pretty good now.
Conditions were rough this evening with very few signals being heard. It took 44 minutes to finally get a QSO when I found and worked Dan NI9Y on 80 meters. We had a very solid 18 minute QSO and could have gone longer, but Dan had to QRT for bed time. -30-
Wed Jun 26 2019 10:01PM - It's been a long hard day today, so I'll just say that I got an easy quick QSO tonight from NM5M Eric in Dallas, TX. -30-
Tue Jun 25 2019 09:10PM - How about just posting those FD pictures for tonight's entry.
From top down:
My antenna - the black pole supporting an orange wire that is very hard to see
Mike's antenna - the whip antenna extending from the left window. The wire is an old dead cable TV line.
The base of my antenna with the four orange radials and a glimpse of the antenna itself. -30-
Mon Jun 24 2019 08:33PM - Well, I never did get around to editing the FD pictures. Hopefully I'll find time tomorrow to do that and post them here in the diary.
We're in the midst of a heavy rain and thunderstorm right now, but I think it is winding down. It was quite warm and humid today - a nice recipe for a summer thunderstorm.
It was nice to work an old friend for my streak QSO this evening. Robert NW2Z and I worked during the winter quite often on 80 meters, but after that I hadn't heard him for a few months now. Tonight we made it on 40 meters until QSB cut things short after about 20 minutes.
Think I'll cut this short now and maybe start to work on those FD pictures for tomorrow's entry. -30-
Sun Jun 23 2019 07:25PM - As far as performance goes, it was a poor FD compared to our last few FDs, but it still was a lot of fun anyway. My local noise along with poor sunspot minimum propagation really hurt our performance. It would have been better with only the noise or only poor propagation by themselves, but the combination was a real knock out.
Between us, we made 265 QSOs in 40 states plus a couple VE provinces and KP2. All on just 40 and 20 meters. Here are some state totals:
Both of us: AL GA IL IN KS KY MI MO NH NY NC OH SC TN VT WI (16)
Me only: CT DE LA ME MD MA NJ PA RI VA WV (11)
Mike only: AR AZ CA CO FL IA MS MT NV ND OK SD TX (13)
Neither: AK HI ID MN NE NM OR UT WA WY (10)
We set up starting around 1500Z Saturday and finished about an hour before the start of FD at 1800. It became apparent quickly that this was not going to be like previous years as there were only spotty signals on 40 and 20, not the wall to wall signals normal for a FD. I had 40 meters and Mike had 20 meters. For the most part the first few hours it was the somewhat usual short skip on 40 and longer skip on 20. As you see from the states list above, I covered the eastern half of the USA and Mike covered the western half with some overlapping here and there.
We made a couple analogies like this one. Working stations was like the carnival games where objects pop up and you have to shoot them before they went back down again. You had to work stations while they briefly popped up out of the noise, and I mean briefly in many cases.
I was using the new vertical antenna that Mike and I build last fall. Mike was using his whip antenna mounted in my attic window like he did last year. I made a mistake setting the jumper switches on my vertical, and was unhappy with its performance until I checked, found and fixed the error. Although the KX3 tuner was tuning the antenna with the error, when I bypassed the tuner there was a high SWR. That led me to check and after it was fixed, the non-tuner SWR was down to only about 1.3:1. The performance was better after that. Not by a lot, but definitely notieable. That KX3 tuner is just too good. It would tune a wet shoelace to 1:1, but the shoelace wouldn't radiate. An exaggeration, but a good point. Always check the SWR if you can without a tuner and get it down to as close to 1:1 as you can that way before switching in the tuner for that final tweaking.
Tomorrow some FD pictures if I find time to edit/crop them. -30-
Sat Jun 22 2019 11:11PM - A report on FD in tomorrow's entry. Conditions were not good sums it up in a couple words. -30-
Fri Jun 21 2019 08:33PM - Happy first day of astronomical summer. Now all of those of you who celebrate the astronomical way can catch up with those of us who celebrated the meteorological way back on Jun 1.
The bands certainly weren't in a celbrating way this evening. The conditions were horrible. About the only decent signals were in the traffic nets on 80 meters. Even W1AW on 40 who is usually strong was way down in the mud. I did manage a QSO though when I worked Hank K1PUG on 80 meters. It was rough, but we made it. Signals then picked up just as the sun was setting here. Hank went from S4 to S7 and I went from S3 to S5 just as we were signing off.
Only a little over 17 hours till Field Day now. I'm getting a bit fired up about it. I just hope conditions get fired up also. I did a little preliminary work a little while ago cleaning off the front porch and getting some other items ready to save some time tomorrow. One thing I did was te get a little sun screen ready as it looks to be sunny around sunset tomorrow when the sun shines directly onto the porch. We'll be using the call N3A, so look for us and give a call. I'll be on 40 and Mike will cover 20. We'll try for some action on 15, 10, and 80 also. -30-
Thu Jun 20 2019 08:23PM - Better conditions this evening. Several good signals on 30 meters including W9JEF in AR whom I worked easily.
Mike visited today and we had a good day together as usual. We did some planning and testing for FD this weekend. Also he brought some of his gear along to leave here for the weekend. We also did some planning for the Skeeter Hunt, FOBB, and Skyview later this summer. Then I showed him my new and repaired trains. We replaced a couple of trucks on an old caboose of his. We also watched some trains videos. Of course we went out to eat at Wendy's.
Mike is counting down the days to retirement now. Only six more working days till that day arrives now. He's still in th work force though and had to leave to head home early. -30-
Wed Jun 19 2019 09:12PM - Conditions seemed pretty horrible tonight. Poor propagation and some kind of new noise to accompany my usual strong noise. However the German RTTY station on 30 was booming in so I thought conditions must be good there. I heard TG9ADM weakly, then Kam TI5/N3KS working him, and a little later SM3NXS also worked him. TG9ADM was too weak here to even try though. But there's a peak on the PX3 that is pretty strong. Let's see who it is. Well, it's SM3NXS now calling CQ. I called, but no response. I tried again, no luck. So I tuned around some more but didn't find anything. So I came back to 30 and found NXS stronger now. I called and got WWP? I sent K3 K3 K3WWP and got a K3WWP TNX JOHN 559 for the streak QSO. Whew! Took almost an hour tonight. The longest in quite a while now.
I really like this Coffee Cup HTML editor, and I'm getting interested in working more on my web site now. Today I got my guestbook entries pretty well caught up and plan to do more in the coming days.
It was a rainy day today so I wasn't outside much except to walk Roscoe between the showers. I also took one walk downtown for some shopping. Other than that it was staying inside to play with my 736. It really runs very well. I also gathered up some things for FD and charged up my laptop and my battery for the KX3/PX3 combo. It looks like nice weather Saturday and most of Sunday. -30-
Tue Jun 18 2019 07:41PM - I'm trying out a different HTML editor. I had a lot of little glitches with the Komodo editor I had been using for a few years now after switching from HTML-Kit. I think this one might be more stable, or at least I hope so. I guess I'll know after using it for a while which I plan to do. One thing I like immediately is the use of basic black on white instead of Komodo's white on black for text, etc. I did try modifying Komodo, but it was just too complicated and never did modify quite right. I think it was more for a Mac computer than for a PC which could have been part of the problems I was having with it. I wish I'd had time to change over sooner, but something would always come up.
I just tried out a snippet, and that worked OK.
Other than the new editor, nothing else out of the ordinary happened today. It was a dreary day, quite humid with some light showers now and then after over an inch of rain during the night.
Almost time now to head to the shack to try for the daily streak QSO so I'll close here. -30-
Mon Jun 17 2019 08:31PM - It looks like the sunspot minimum might still be ahead of us. The SF value for the past few days has been: 68 68 67 66 66. Still conditions haven't been all that bad. I have noticed more QSB on 40 meter signals lately though. Oh well, no use talking about something we can't do anything about.
I got a nice package this morning. My Lionel 736 Berkshire returned from Indiana with a repaired wheel, axle, and gear. So I spent a lot of time today watching it run around the track emitting puffs of smoke. It's great to have it home again. I won't ignore the 2037 and 1060 that I got while the 736 was away though. I'll run them also.
I'm looking forward to FD this weekend with Mike. We always have a great time in that event every year. Saturday looks like a sunny day with mild temperatures. A chance of rain on Sunday though. Shouldn't bother us since barring a last minute very unexpected change, we'll be operating from my front porch with battery power and portable antennas.
Tonight it was another of those 0000Z QSOs. I turned on the rig precisely at 0000Z and immediately heard and worked Alex AI2Q from ME on 40 meters. -30-
Sun Jun 16 2019 08:49PM - Another day pretty much like yesterday. Quite a bit of playing with the trains. Walking with Roscoe between rain showers. He and I also sat on the porch swing for quite a while.
The streak QSO this evening came rather quickly within a few minutes of getting to the shack. I worked Sam WZ4L on 40 meters. -30-
Sat Jun 15 2019 09:03PM - Unlike yesterday, this was a quiet day with only the usual daily routine for the most part. I did get a chance to try out my new lighted headset magnifier when I was glueing a couple of rails on my Conrail HO engine I got yesterday. It works like a charm and is going to make working on my railroads much easier. I especially like the light. I had a magnifier before but it didn't have a light. That makes a world of difference.
The bands were a little rougher tonight. I called a couple stations with no success, but did finally go to 80 meters to work WA7WKY in Ohio. -30-
Fri Jun 14 2019 07:53PM - Last Saturday I wrote about a busy day. Well, today topped that. Early this morning I received the HO Conrail locomotive I ordered and tried it out and played with it for a bit before taking Roscoe out for the first of his four walks each day. A little later he had an appointment at the vet to check the progress of his ear infection. He got a clean bill of health and doesn't have to go back again.
We dropped Roscoe off at home after stopping at Dairy Queen to get him an ice cream cone to help relieve his trauma at the vet's visit, then Bruce took me to Walmart. My microwave quit working last night so I had to get a new one which I did. I set it up and tried it out. Then a couple more Roscoe walks. After that I fixed up a little step that Bruce uses to get over the high threshold in his house.
Sometime while I was doing that, I got another package. This time a lighted magnifier headset to help me work on my trains. I haven't tried that yet.
Then just a little while ago, I attended the Elks Flag Day Ceremony as I do every June. Now here I am typing away and just about to go get my streak QSO for the day. I'll come back and close this entry with a report on who I worked. OK, that didn't take long to work KD9CK on 30 meters near Chicago, IL so the streak goes on.
I was thinking today that there are probably new readers of the diary who may not know exactly what the streak refers to. If so, you should refer to my home page on the site here where there is a description of it about half way down the page. Any questions? Just ask and I'll try to answer. -30-
Thu Jun 13 2019 08:45PM - It was one of those off/on rainy days, and I had to walk Roscoe in between showers. Also the same with a couple trips I had to make downtown. Still it's a lot better than s#$w.
It was a good day to watch my 'new' Lionel 2037 run around the track smoking away. I've run it a few hours now, and the residue smoke pellets are still smoking. I don't know how much longer they will last, but then I have a couple bottles of pellets left here from the 1950s and 60s. It will be interesting to see if they still work. If so it will give me a chance to use them as the Lionel 736 uses liquid smoke or will when I get it back from repairs. I was just about ready to hook up and check the smoker in it, when the problems developed and I had to send it away.
I made a couple QSOs this evening for a change. I worked old friend Alan W4MQC on 30. I had a lot of trouble copying him with QSB and my local noise, so after we signed I thought I'd try a few CQs on 40 to see if I could get someone I could copy better. AD8EE answered me and copy was a bit better, but still rough. I'm wondering how my local noise is going to affect our FD operation (with Mike) on my front porch. Hopefully our makeshift antennas will be better than my regular ones as far as the noise goes. -30-
Wed Jun 12 2019 08:47PM - This was a good day today for a number of reasons. I won't bore you by listing them all, just a couple.
The biggest joy was receiving the Lionel 2037 2-6-4 engine I ordered from eBay. As with the other Lionel engine #1060, this one ran well right out of the package. After the brief test, I did clean and lube it though. That made it run even better. I still want to open it up and check and lube the motor. It does hesitate the first few seconds after applying power to the track. After that, it runs virtually perfectly.
Another good thing was the weather. Just about a perfect June day with temperature in the 70s and just a few clouds although they have increased as the day wore on.
Then this evening a quick DX QSO for the streak from Kam TI5/N3KS. I found it interesting he was running a lot of stations, but I was the only one he answered by name for whatever reason. Maybe because we've worked so many times on different bands. This was our 21st QSO, 9 from Baltimore and 12 from Costa Rica. We've worked on 160 80 40 30 20 15. Interesting again that tonight was our first 20 meters QSO. -30-
Tue Jun 11 2019 08:13PM - Nothing special going on today. I'm just waiting now to go get my one QSO in our monthly NAQCC sprint. Or if there is a miracle and my local noise is gone, maybe I'll try for more than one QSO. Conditions weren't very good a couple minutes ago as I got my streak QSO on 30 from N2FRB in NY. The band changed and I lost him after just a few minutes. -30-
Mon Jun 10 2019 08:18PM - I forgot to mention it, but when I worked VA3DCF last night, that was my QSO # 91,000. That's counting only QSOs using KN3WWP and K3WWP going all the way back to 1963. I also operated with several other calls like K3WWP/3, WA3IXO, N3AQC, N3A, NY3EC, and a few others. Those QSOs total 4,713. So overall with all calls counted, that's a grand total of 95,713. Many years ago in 1963 or 1964 when I was a new General I got a QSL card from Lloyd Colvin W6KG, and it said on the card he had made over 100,000 QSOs (actually 105,000). I read that with my mouth gaping open and wondered how anyone could ever get that many QSOs. I don't know how rare a feat that was back in 1963/64. It's somewhat commonplace nowadays with the big contest stations. But I stray from the point. I was getting to saying that now here I am approaching 100,000 QSOs myself, and if I can stay active and healthy a few more years, perhaps I'll make it. Let's see, overall I would need 4,287 more QSOs, or with just K3WWP, it would be 9,000 QSOs or actually 8,999 since I made one more QSO this evening.
For the third night in a row, my streak QSO came from a Canadian. This time VE2GDI in QC on 20 meters. The bands, especially 20, seemed quite active this evening with quite a few strong signals. I didn't really listen to see where they were from since VE2GDI was one of the first ones I checked, and he was calling CQ, so I worked him, then QRT.
Otherwise today I worked on my trains. Actually more so on the track which I cleaned thoroughly. I also used popsicle sticks to make somewhat of a better support for the track to keep it from sinking into the carpet. Then I also ordered another engine. A Conrail HO locomotive. I like Conrail since it was what became of Pennsylvania, then Penn Central. Those tracks were just a stone's throw from my house, although I never threw any stones at the trains. I'm not good at estimating distances, but I know the rails were well within 100 feet of my house, especially one siding that went to the station and also to a local brickyard. Oh, and I ordered a lighted headset magnifier to help my old eyes see and work with the tiny train parts. -30-
Sun Jun 09 2019 08:31PM - Another shopping trip this morning to get some more things for Roscoe and for myself. Other than that, not much out of the daily routines.
I did get a notification from Train Tender Jim in Goshen, IN that the repairs on my Lionel Berkshire were finished. I mailed off payment today and hopefully will have the engine back and running here by next weekend. It will certainly be nice to have it back. Then with the steam engine I ordered yesterday, I'll have three steamers to play with on my Lionel tracks.
For the second night in a row my streak QSO was with a VA3 station. Tonight it was VA3DCF in Ottawa on 40 meters. -30-
Sat Jun 08 2019 08:20PM - This was one of those wall to wall busy days. I can't even remember all the things I did today. It started out early this morning with a trip to Walmart to get some food for Roscoe. I also looked around at some computers as I needed one to replace my backup Laptop. I saw a couple of nice ones, but didn't have enough money with me to get one. I also needed a pair of summer pajamas and I did get them. Then Bruce who took me to Walmart and I stopped off at Dizzy Lizzie's for a good breakfast before going home. Then I stopped at the bank to get some money for the computer. I asked Bruce if he wanted to go back to Walmart so I could get my computer. He said this evening we could go. Then he went off to take care of some things for himself.
When he got back, he asked if I wanted to go then. I said yes, in a little bit as I was helping Ange with some gardening. So we went in about 10 minutes or so and I got my computer. We also stopped at Dollar Tree to get some new kind of dog biscuits we had heard about for Roscoe. Back home again and after a little break, I set up the new Laptop. I really wanted to get it going before Field Day in a couple weeks so I could log with a computer for that event. My main computer is a Laptop, but an expensive one and I'd rather not move it around all that much. Plus it has a lot of peripherals attached to it which makes it less portable than it could be.
Next some more helping Ange with his garden plus watering my plants. After that, things quieted down a bit. I took care of some routine things. Next I ordered another steam locomotive, a Lionel 2037 from EBay. And just a little while ago, I headed to the shack for my streak QSO which came at 0010Z on 30M from VA3KSF near Sarnia, ON. And now I'm typing the diary entry. -30-
Fri Jun 07 2019 08:08PM - DX!! Yes, some DX in the logbook again this evening. PB8DX from the Netherlands on 20 meters at 0004Z. Sure is nice to see DX QSOs showing up somewhat regularly in my streak listings again.
It was a nice day today, warm, but not humid with a high around 80. So I decided to cut my grass in the back yard. I had kind of let it get away from me. It wasn't hard to cut though. Then I did some weeding in my mini-garden and cleaned some grass and weeds from the cracks in my brick sidewalk. -30-
Thu Jun 06 2019 08:38PM - The 75th anniversary of D-Day. Lest we forget.
Another pretty much nothing day. Some work in the garden eliminating some annoying weeds trying to steal nutrients from my vegetables. Some more flowers on the tomato plants. Some more tiny peppers on the pepper plants. Still only 5 bean seeds sprouted.
Another quick 20M streak QSO this evening from K4UX in VA. Short skip for 20. I heard an AM70 station in Spain, but after I called him, he just disappeared and never did hear him again. Must have gone to bed or changed bands. -30-
Wed Jun 05 2019 08:13PM - Not a very exciting day in any way today. I guess I spent most of the day just cleaning up some things that I hadn't done for a while. I also received a Big Boy 2 DVD set that I ordered from EBay. I watched one of the two, and will watch the second one maybe tomorrow.
It was another quick streak QSO tonight when I found and worked CM2RSV on 20 meters at 0005Z. -30-
Tue Jun 04 2019 08:23PM - Another quick streak QSO this evening. 30 meters had several good signals. I picked out KA4EET who was calling CQ and answered him. I had to repeat my call, but then we had a good 12 minute QSO despite QSB and QRN. That leaves just 2 months to go to reach 25 years in the streak if I make it.
Roscoe wasn't feeling good today so we made a trip to the vet. He has an ear infection. The vet gave him some medicine and we have to go back in a week. He seems better than he was this morning.
Other than that, I planted the three Rutgers tomatoes I bought last Thursday, and watered my other garden plants. I've got flowers on the Siberian tomato plants. I have a couple tiny peppers on the pepper plants. Finally a couple more bean seeds have sprouted. Hopefully the others will follow suit. -30-
Mon Jun 03 2019 09:18AM - Picture day. First one is from the Butler Hamfest on Saturday and shows L-R: Bob WC3O, John K3WWP, Tom WB3FAE, Mike KC2EGL.
Now the cap and badge given to us by Art WA3BKD of the Requin. Now Mike and I are official members of the Requin ARC.
Incidentally I was glancing through the Requin log and for the past several years virtually all the QSOs there have been made by Mike and me. Only a handful by other ops. Now back to my chores. -30-
Sun Jun 02 2019 08:31PM - That wraps up a great 4 day stretch. I mean the operation from the Requin today. Mike and I left around 8:30 and arrived at the Requin around 9:25 or so. We waited for Art to arrive. When he did, we headed for the Radio Room. There was some trouble with the paddle connection, but Art did some cutting and splicing and got us going after several minutes. Activity was slow but fairly steady throughout our session which lasted till around 3PM with a break in the middle while Art and another ham did some operating. While that was going on, Mike and I went outside and ate our lunch at one of the Science Center tables. Overall Mike, who did most of the operating while I logged, and I put 26 QSOs in the Museum Ships on the Air log. We didn't work any other ships, only hams who were working ships for the event. Our most distant contact was with KH6LC in Hawaii on 20 meters. We enjoyed, as always, interacting with visitors to the sub and fielding and answering their questions if we could.
I think the highlight(s) of our day came when Art made us members of the USS Requin ARC and gave us some very nice patches. Then later after Mike had asked him if there were any Requin hats available in the Science Center gift shop and Art said no, he came back with a hat for each of us. I'll try to have pictures from today and yesterday in tomorrow's entry, so tune in tomorrow. HI
When 3 PM came we shut down and headed home, stopping at Chili's on the way for a delicious meal.
It took about 10 minutes this evening to get my streak QSO from NU2J in NJ. -30-
Sat Jun 01 2019 07:41PM - As is usual, Mike and I had a great time today. We left early for the Breezeshooters Hamfest and started setting up to operate N3AQC. This was the maiden voyage of the antennas we built last fall. We had some trouble with the antenna in that the small PVC pipe was too flexible, so we had to shorten the mast and the vertical antenna wire attached to it. After we did that, it didn't sway as much, and actually worked pretty well. There was another powerful station at the hamfest splattering all over the bands and that was frustrating and kept us from making more contacts. We did make three contacts though in CA, NM, and MA so we deemed our antenna to be a success even though it was somewhat crippled.
We stayed there till around 12:30PM and met some of our NAQCC members. Let's see who I can remember. Of course me and Mike, Tom WB3FAE, Jim KC3IXE, Mike WA8SAN, Bob WC3O, Ron K3MIY, Bob W3BBO, and K8ZT. Hope I didn't leave anyone out. I have a picture of four of us. I'll maybe post that tomorrow along with any pictures we get tomorrow on the USS Requin.
After that we headed to the golf store where Mike picked up his clubs. Then to Home Depot to get some dowels to insert into our antenna mast to try to stiffen it up. Next up a trip to Applebee's for another delicious meal. We wound up taking the scenic route a couple of places where the GPS lady was late in telling us to turn or we missed a turn, etc. I think we saw or were on every street in that area.
We then headed home and Mike put some sensors on his golf clubs, and we tried out the dowels in the antenna mast. They did seem to make it more sturdy. To close out the day, we watched some Big Boy 4014 videos.
Tomorrow it's off to Pittsburgh and the USS Requin for the Museum Ships on the Air event. We'll try to operate NY3EC from about 10AM to 2 or 3 PM depending on activity and conditions. If you find us somewhere on 40 or 20, give a call. We're not sure of the frequencies since it's not a NAQCC club event. -30-
Fri May 31 2019 08:37PM - The bands were in great shape this evening. Strong signals on 40, 30, and 20. Mostly USA signals. Only heard a couple weak DX signals. I had a nice strong 2X 599 QSO with Bill K4VSV in SC on 30 meters. I also heard KB6NU at s9 plus but didn't try to work him.
Of course being the last day of the month, I had to get my EOM chores done, and I did finish most of them. I still need to put my May weather data in my Excel spreadsheet. My first of month chores will have to wait a day or two since Mike and I will be at the Breezeshooters Hamfest tomorrow and at the USS Requin on Sunday for a full weekend of ham radio action.
It actually didn't rain today. Almost can't recall the previous rain-free day. It's been a while. And it may start raining again tomorrow and Sunday. It will be interesting to see how May temperature and precipitation compare to normal. I get the feeling temperature will be close to normal, and precipitation somewhat above normal. I guess I'll know later tonight, but if not then, probably not till Monday.
I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not, but Mike and I hope to be set up at the hamfest around 8:30AM EDT. We'll be using N3AQC and operating around 7040, 10116, and 14059 plus or minus QRM. We'll probably stay until around 1PM or so. Give a call if you hear us. Only one band at a time so tune around. -30-
Thu May 30 2019 09:01PM - An impromptu visit and day together with Mike today. He emailed yesterday asking if I wanted to ride to Pittsburgh with him. He was going to get his golf clubs re-gripped. I think that's the correct term. I haven't played golf since I was a kid playing miniature golf. That's it. Anyway I said sure.
After a detour caused by flooding he arrived here about a half hour late at 8:30AM and we took off after a few minutes. Highlight: We didn't get lost - not even a minor wrong turn. That's unusual. After Mike left the clubs to be worked on, we moved on. The clubs will be ready in 24 hours so we'll go back there after the Saturday hamfest. We killed some time before Applebee's opening at 11 AM. We went to Petco where I bought some snack food for Roscoe. Petco sure has a LARGE variety of stuff for all kind of pets. Very impressive!
When Applebee's opened we both perused the menu, and strangely we both decided on the same meal without even discussing anything about our choices. A very good chicken and pasta dish.
Mike said he was pretty sure there was a Best Buy nearby. We looked for and found it. Of course we spent a lot of time just browsing since we didn't really need anything. This store is about three times as big aS the one that used to be in the Pittsburgh Mills, so we did spend a LOT of time there. I wound up buying some printer ink cartridges. You know, when you aren't looking for anything in a storE, just about every employee winds up asking if they can help you. But when you need some help, just try to find an employee. Strange how that works. It sure worked today. I think we counted 7-8 times that we were asked. I told Mike we should play a game and see if we can get every employee there to ask us.
Then we headed home with a last stop at Walmart here in town where I bought three Rutgers tomato plants for my garden.
At home we took care of getting things ready for the Breezeshooters Hamfest on Saturday. We plan to be there by 8:30AM and stay till 1:00PM or so.
Due to work and preparing for retirement, Mike wasn't able to watch much of the 150th anniversay of the Transcontinental Railroad celebration so we watched a video of the UP celebration at Ogden, UT. That's about the third time I watched all of it now, and I'm still impressed and moved by it.
After that Mike headed home.
The bands were poor this evening or at least there was little activity. I finally did get an answer to my CQ by AA9BD for a very rough short QSO. -30-
Wed May 29 2019 09:00PM - Just a couple pictures for my entry tonight. First my 'new' Lionel 1060 engine and tender. Next the hailstone I talked about yesterday. That gap between the carpet and railing measures about 3 1/8 inches to give an idea of the size of the stone.
Tue May 28 2019 08:30PM - A rather bad weather day today with a lot of thunderstorms which are still going on now. Two of the storms produced hail. Some of the stones from the first storm were the biggest I can recall ever seeing. At least 1 inch across. Can't say diameter because they were irregular in shape, not even close to spherical. I took a couple pictures which I have to crop and resize yet. Hopefully I'll post them tomorrow.
I also got a Lionel 1060 engine and tender that I ordered from Ebay a few days ago. It ran beautifully right out of the box. It was a little dusty and the drawbar was a little bent, but straightened easily. I'm very happy with it, and now I have a steam engine to run on my Lionel layout until my repaired one arrives hopefully around the middle of June.
I also did some work on the pancake motor from one of the HO engines I bought last Thursday. I used Super Glue to repair the cracks in two of the plastic gears and it's running around the track now doing a good job so far.
The streak QSO came from W4TJE down in VA on 30 meters who knows about the streak and encouraged me to keep going with it. I certainly hope to. It's nicer now with the better conditions of late spring and the ones of summer coming up soon. -30-
Mon May 27 2019 09:06PM - I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day, and spent at the very least part of it honoring those who served in or are serving in our Armed Forces. I attended our town parade and the Memorial Day Ceremony that followed in our community park. Both were very impressive as always. I also proudly flew my flag on my front porch as shown here:
As long time diary readers know, that is the flag that was draped over my dad's coffin when he passed away back in 1964.
My streak QSO was similar to last night's. It lasted just long enough to be official before QSB and QRN set in. -30-
Sun May 26 2019 08:30PM - The day started out with way to big a breakfast at Myrt's Cafe courtesy of Roscoe's owner Bruce. Thanks Bruce. Then an hour or so spent with Roscoe walking and sitting on the porch swing enjoying some nice weather in between the rain drops.
After that some time spent working on the HO engines I got last Thursday. I gave the old pancake motors a better cleaning. I found a crack in two of the plastic gears in the motor. It still runs good though, but I would like to get some better gears eventually. I thought of combining the two pancake motors to make one 'perfect' one, but they are slightly different and that wouldn't work.
As far as the streak this evening, it only took about 5 minutes and a couple CQs on 30 to get an answer from K2ZA. Howeven the QSO lasted just long enough to be official as QSB took him down into my local noise after the exchange of only a bit of info.
I hope you all have a happy and safe Memorial Day and observe whatever annual events you have to honor those brave men and women who helped and are helping to keep America the great country it is again. -30-
Sat May 25 2019 08:12PM - We're (I'm) sitting here riding out a line of severe thunderstorms. There hasn't been too much lightning and thunder so far. Hope it stays that way. I don't want to jinx anything by saying this, but many times when a line of storms goes through here, the line seems to weaken over the Kittanning area or even develops a gap here. I don't have any meteorological explanation for that, but it does happen quite often, thank goodness. Incidentally there was a tornado warning for about 25 or so miles south of here. I don't have any more info than that right now.
Anyway, thanks to the WPX contest, I didn't have to wait in the shack for long until I worked TI7W on 20 meters. I had to wait through about 5 other stations, but then it was an easy QSO although I did have to repeat my number (002). Guess he couldn't believe it was that low a number. HI
I did some track work on my Lionel layout today. I noticed the engine headlight was dimming, then brightening again at one spot so I took the track apart and cleaned the connecting pins, then tightened them up and put the track back together. That seemed to cure things, at least for now. Also it now runs at 12 volts just like it had been running at 14 volts before.
One week from today, Mike and I will be at the Butler, PA hamfest with a NAQCC setup. Then the next day off to Pittsburgh and the USS Requin to help out our friend Art from the sub in the Museum Ships on the Air event. Should be a fun weekend. Of course then later in the month it's Field Day. We're not sure where we'll set up, but probably on my front porch with some makeshift antennas and battery power as we've done a couple times in the past.
My neighbor just knocked on the door and said there was a double rainbow so I took a moment to get a picture of it. It wasn't all that bright and was quite high in the sky since it is so near sunset here. I'll see how it turned out and maybe post a picture tomorrow. -30-
Fri May 24 2019 08:11PM - Well, I knew the streak QSO would be easy with the WPX contest in full swing. However I didn't want to make it super easy by just working the first station I heard, so I looked around a bit till I found an Italian on Sicily - II9P and worked him. That was on 20 meters.
It was a nice day today and I guess I mostly just took it easy. I did work on the one HO engine I bought the other day. I got the pancake motor running smoothly. Unfortunately the plastic gears wouldn't mesh very well and despite the good motor, it still wouldn't run well. Oh well, it only cost a couple bucks. Maybe I can find a replacement motor somewhere. -30-
Thu May 23 2019 08:20PM - Mike and I had a good time as usual last night. We helped each other with a couple things, and then watched some Big Boy videos. We also talked about some upcoming plans. He couldn't stay too long as he had to do some more retirement business today. He's looking forward to the end of June when the retirement goes into effect.
For me, today was a trains day and a DX evening. I worked some DX again this evening. Just after finishing my streak QSO with Ken N4KS in FL on 30, I heard PJ2/WI9WI just down the band and decided to give him a try before I QRT for the evening. I got him on my 3rd call.
As far as trains, I ordered a Lionel steam locomotive on EBay which should arrive by the 29th. It looks in good shape, but I wouldn't mind if I had to do some work on it, as I really love working on the engines and rolling stock. I think that may be my favorite aspect of Model Trains. Then at the Ol' Station Marketplace, I bought a couple HO engines, an HO boxcar shell, and a Caboose. One engine was a Santa Fe, the other items are my favorite railroad of late, the Union Pacific. All except the caboose needed some work. I installed the boxcar shell on another old 'chassis'. I roughly cleaned and lubricated the two engines and got them running. In fact the UP diesel is doing laps as I type getting itself run in after who knows how long a period of inactivity. It was pretty dirty and had a lot of fibers (from a rug?) wound around the axles. The Santa Fe diesel has a broken traction tire and it's a wheel that has a groove for the tire which grips the rail as it tries to run smoothly. I'll either have to get a tire or use some Bullfrog Snot to fill the groove before it will do some smooth running. Also I still want to give both engines a more thorough cleaning and lubricating before I release them for full service. -30-
Wed May 22 2019 08:08PM - Mike just pulled up as I started this entry, so I'll just say XE2I was my streak QSO a few minutes ago. More in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Tue May 21 2019 08:25PM - The bands didn't seem too good tonight or maybe just not that busy. However I did get a QSO fairly quickly when K4UY answered my CQ on 40 meters.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow evening when Mike will be visiting for our monthly pizza "party". He's been busy preparing for his retirement and I haven't seen much of him of late. I think last month's pizza night was the last time. We do have some get togethers coming up in June though. On the 1st the Butler hamfest. Then the next day Sunday we'll be on the Requin helping out with the Museum Ships on the Air event as we did last year. Of course then later in the month it will be Field Day. So it will be a fun month, ham radio wise.
This is the primary ballot voting day here in PA, so I cast my vote early this morning. That was pretty much the non-ordinary things today. Otherwise I walked Roscoe 4 times so far with one last walk still to come for today. I also watched my Lionel F3 locomotive with its consist making its way around the track. A couple of walks thrown in here and there. That was it for the day. -30-
Mon May 20 2019 08:39PM - My Lionel 736 is in the hands of Train Tender Jim who says he'll be working on it starting in June. So I guess there are other engines ahead of me in the queue. Still that's not bad and I should have it back by the middle of June or so. Meanwhile I can continue to work on and play with the F3 diesel. Today I worked on the semaphore and the water tower.
After the 90 degree day yesterday, it didn't get out of the 70s today. Typical May changeability.
Another pretty quick QSO this evening when I answered the CQ of KC9UPP in WI. Hmmm, wonder if he's a fan of the Union Pacific. There's a ham not far from here with the vanity call of WA3PRR for the now defunct Pennsylvania Railroad. -30-
Sun May 19 2019 08:15PM - An interesting day today. I was just in time to catch Big Boy leaving Laramie, then a couple spots along the way before the arrival in Cheyenne and back to home in the Steam Shop. What a wonderful journey the last couple of weeks. I only wish there had been more live coverage, but I understand the problems involved. Still there was a great deal of live streaming. With that and the taped coverage, I bet I saw well over half the route covered by Big Boy. And let's not forget the Living Legend UP 844, and the diesel "helper". Actually the diesel was there mainly for assisting with the dynamic braking and also to provide additional load for Big Boy to haul along to break in all the new parts.
It was the first 90 degree day of the year today with the high just barely touching that mark for a brief time this afternoon. I took advantage and planted out my tomato plants in the back yard. Sometime this week, I'll probably plant out my pepper plants. They have a couple tiny peppers on them. I think that's the first year I've had peppers before putting the plants outside. Of course I have tomatoes every year, some years as early as March. This year not until May though.
I worked DX again this evening, catching CO2SG on 20 meters. Took a couple tries to get him, but it was an easy QSO then.
My Lionel 736 arrived at Goshen, IN this morning, so Train Tender Jim will get it tomorrow, and hopefully I'll be in the queue for it to be worked on this Saturday in his next work session. I'm anxious to see it running again. It's nice watching the Lionel F3 diesel, but there is nothing like steam. -30-
Sat May 18 2019 09:20PM - Took almost an hour to get my streak QSO tonight. That's the longest in quite a while. No one answered my CQs and almost no one else was calling CQ. The couple I did hear didn't hear my answer. Finally Tom K8VBL in MI called CQ and heard my response.
So not much time to write anything in the diary tonight. Then there was not much to write about anyway. HI. I did check the progress of my Lionel 736 and it arrived in Indianapolis today so the train repair man should get it Monday for sure. However he only works on trains on Saturdays as I may have mentioned. At least I should be the first one he gets next week if that means anything. -30-
Fri May 17 2019 06:39PM - I'd like to acknowledge a couple more diary comments received today or yesterday. Thanks to Dennis WB8WTU who reminded me of the Laramie Railfan site in time for me to watch the arrival of 4014 and 844. I had forgotten about that site amongst all the other railroad sites I've been visiting the past couple weeks to follow Big Boy. I often watch those Virtual Railfan sites, especially the Horseshoe Curve one near Altoona, PA. The excursion train is now parked at Laramie till Sunday when it departs for home at the Cheyenne Steam Shop. Apparently Big Boy survived the slight derailment of two of its axles at Rawlins yesterday. There hasn't been much real info about the derailment, but a lot of speculation that it was a problem with the rails and not with Big Boy. It was on a siding which is not maintained as thoroughly as a main line rail. I imagine more definite info will be forthcoming or perhaps is there already and I just haven't found it.
Thanks also to Jim Miller who thanked me for providing the info on Big Boy in the diary. He has been very busy the past several days and appreciated my updates as a quick way to find out the main news about Big Boy.
I also finally shipped out my Lionel Berkshire 736 for repairs on the wheel that is slipping on its axle. It goes to Jim out in Goshen, IN who was recommended to me by my friend and parts supplier up in NY, Jeff Kane, the Train Tender. Jim only works on Trains on Saturdays since he still has a full time job. He told me via phone today that he can definitely fix the problem, and that it should be done within 30 days or at the very worst in 60 days if any delays or problems are encountered. It will be nice to get the 736 back running again. Meanwhile I continue to tweak the Lionel F3 diesel and have it running pretty well right now as of the past couple days.
I also got a letter today from Art WA3BKD of the USS Requin confirming that he will be available for Mike and me to run the Museum Ships event on Sunday June 2. Now I have to call him and confirm his confirmation. HI
OK, that gets us up to date. Now an hour to go to head to the shack for my streak QSO. Wonder if there are any contests this weekend for a quick QSO. Not really, just a few minor DX contests, the biggest of which is the King of Spain contest which usually has quite a bit of activity, but it doesn't start till 1200Z. Hopefully I'll have my QSO long before then. -30-
Thu May 16 2019 08:46PM - Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this diary. I often go long periods of time without getting any feedback at all, neither good nor bad. Then a day like today comes along to make it all worthwhile. There was a priority mail envelope in my mailbox today. I hadn't ordered anything as far as I could remember. It looked and felt like a magazine of some kind. I took care of my other mail first, and then opened the special package. At first glance it was a calendar, but a 2018 calendar. Then I saw the railroad pictures on it and a QSL card at the bottom of the package. Things started coming together now, and the full explanation was on the back of the card. It was from Bob WA6GFR who said, "Been reading your website for some time. Enjoy it tremendously. Thought you might like these RR pics." And then, "Calendar is out of date so only use the pics! HI HI"
Well Bob, I certainly do appreciate the pics, and I thank you many times over for the great gift. With my birthday coming up in a week or so, I guess I can count it as a birthday gift. HI
And that, folks, really made my day. Nothing else today came close to that for something to talk about, so I'll just close here. -30-
Wed May 15 2019 08:49PM - Here it is almost 9PM and there is still some daylight in the sky. Ain't it great. Can summer be far away now?
Not much to talk about tonight. I just got in our NAQCC sprint to make my one QSO as is SOP of late so I can continue to say I've never missed one of our sprints since thay started back in 2004. Another sort of streak. I think this was sprint # 175 tonight.
Just a little bit of work on my trains today. I reattached the arm on my old semaphore. I also fixed a bearing on the motor mount in my Lionel F3 diesel. -30-
Tue May 14 2019 07:52PM - Paul Knight and Fred Gadomski. Know who they are? The answer in a minute.
Today was another March in May day. Maybe even more so than the previous couple days. I see a high of only 54 on my AcuRite remote thermometer. That plus the wind made it definitely feel like March. Better times are coming though. It should be back to normal May weather before too long. My tomatoes and peppers are getting anxious to be planted outdoors. Also my bean seeds are anxious for the warmth so they can sprout.
I'll be heading to the shack soon to get my streak QSO. Maybe some more DX like last night. It's getting close to a month now since I last had to use 80 meters to get a QSO. 40 has been open and active every evening of late. Also 30 and 20 showing signs of awakening from hibernation.
Nothing new railroad wise, either model or real. Well, I did have a bit of excitement when my Lionel caboose started smoking due to a short in the lamp circuit. Fortunately I never throw anything out and I found a replacement socket in my junk box to replace it, and this one works better overall.
OK, Paul and Fred. They were the main co-hosts on Penn State's Weather World program for many years till they retired. Paul a few years ago, and Fred just last year. Although all the hosts and reporters on Weather World are very good, Paul and Fred were the cream of the crop, in my opinion. They had great rapport and just the right amount of humor to inject into the show. I mention them because Paul, at least makes a guest appearance on the show now and then. He did so this evening. Unless I missed it, Fred has not done so yet. And I try to never miss the show.
OK, off to the shack now. -30-
Mon May 13 2019 08:33PM - DX! EASY DX! Took but a single call after I corrected my keyer setting to get CT9/DL5AXX on 30 meters. I've worked AXX quite a few times before, and Madeira is in that part of the world that I generally work easily. Feels good to work DX as always.
Otherwise it was train work that took most of my time. My latest package from the Train Tender with some Lionel parts came. That enabled me to fix up one of my switches or turnouts as they are more officially called in railroading. Tomorrow I have a few more little parts to take care of like a pin for the arm on my semaphore and one for the spout on my water tower.
Say, what month is this? March? Sure feels like it. Two very chilly windy days in a row now with temperatures mostly in the 50s and even 40s. Weather World from Penn State shows temperatures steadily moderating the next several days. I sure hope that is right. -30-
Sun May 12 2019 08:40PM - A chilly drizzly day today, not at all like a typical May day of sunshine and warm temperatures. Looks like the next few days will be the same also.
Good days to get caught up on some indoor things. Today I found more recorded videos of the Promontory Summit celebration and the more I see, the more I am impressed by and pleased with it. The organizers did a great job. It's a shame the whole thing couldn't be streamed live on Friday like the UP celebration was on Thursday. At least I'm getting to see it now, albeit a delayed not fully complete version.
I also worked on my web site today. It needed a lot of catching up, and still does. Hopefully I can work more on it this week.
As far as my model trains go, I emailed a company in Indiana that repairs locos to see if they could fix the wheel that slips on the axle of my Lionel 736. Hope to hear back from them soon. Also I should get a package from Jeff Kane Monday or Turesday with some more litlle parts I need like a couple of auxiliary rails for my switches and a couple connector rollers for my transformer controller. It may be a busy week. -30-
Sat May 11 2019 08:12PM - I was wrong about the Promontory Summit celebration yesterday. It was much more than the half hour musical presentation. It just looked like that because I couldn't find any live feeds after the Trains Magazine feed ended and I thought that was it. However later last night and today I found recorded excerpts of more activities later in the day. They looked quite impressive although none were really all that long and it's kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together together to get a good feeling of what the whole celebration entailed. It was definitely more than the first impression I got.
The AR QSO Parth gave me my streak QSO this evening when I worked WA5SOG on 40 meters. I also heard TM6M quite strong on 40, but he was in the AR QP also so I coulldn't try to work him.
Still working on / playing with my trains. Today I got an old Lionel small switcher engine running good. Well at least in one direction. It's still sluggish going the other direction for some as yet figured out reason.
It was a mild day today, a little chillier than the past few days, but still nice for walking with a high in the low 70s. -30-
Fri May 10 2019 08:22PM - I have mixed feelings about today's Promontory Summit celebration. A couple people said it was more of a Disney Railroad Musical than a historical celebration. And they are right, but at least the musical told the story of building the transcontinental railroad and the coming together at the summit 150 years ago today. Personally I thought the UP celebration yesterday was the better of the two. But that's just my opinion.
Anyway I totally enjoyed alll the leading up to the two celebrations. I think counting live and recorded video, I watched a good deal of the entire journey of 4014 and 844 from Cheyenne to Ogden. I'm continuing to search out any video coverage I haven't seen yet, and am still finding quite a lot. Then of course still coming up is the return home of 4014 and 844 the next several days.
I'm glad my interest in trains came back in time to enjoy all the surroundings of this once in a lifetime event. There will never be another 150th celebration, and I don't think I'll be around for the 200th. Kind of like when Mike and I saw the transit of Venus several years ago. We knew that was our one shot at such a transit since the next one won't be for another hundred years.
I haven't mentioned it the past few entries, but the streak is still going on. I just completed another log page, and I see every QSO on it has been in the 0000Z hour, so it continues to be pretty easy despite being near or at the bottom of the sunspot cycle. -30-
Thu May 09 2019 07:48PM - Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was the space program that captured all my attention so much so that I had to watch every possible launch that I could and follow the entire flight if I could. And back then it was possible as the TV networks provided extensive coverage before they found unfortunately that bad news like terrorism, mass murders, and the like provided more viewers and more revenue. But I digress already. I just want to say the UP Promontory ceremony at Ogden, Utah captured my attention every bit as much as the space program events years ago.
Fortunately the UP had a professional video streaming outfit handle the ceremony so their coverage of the ceremony was HD without a single glitch the full 45 minutes of the 15 minute opening and the 30 minute ceremony itself. It was nice and to the point, not dragged out endlessly as some ceremonies are. Unfortunately other attempts at streaming live activities today by Trains Magazine and others did not work out so well because they basically used cell phone technology and badly overloaded the cell phone infrastructure. However they also recorded a lot of the events and those will be or are available for viewing after the fact.
I saw a great, but far too short (cut short by the cell phone problems, I guess) interview with the engineer Ed Dickens and fireman Austin Baxter from Big Boy. I didn't know this, but Austin designed and helped construct many of the new parts for Big Boy. Ed complimented him for his efforts, especially for the CAD design work. Talking about the power of Big Boy, Ed said they didn't really run Big Boy at full power because they didn't want to pull the front off of 844 which of course was the trail engine in the double header. Austin also came up with a good quote about how Big Boy handles when he said don't tell 844, but 4014 even fires a little bit better than 844. He also said 4014 is so easy to run, about all you need is an extension rod so you can sit back in the fireman's seat and just push the fuel injector every now and then.
Absolutely great stuff, but you have to take the effort to dig it out from all the various services covering this event with a proliferation of various info. And more to come tomorrow! -30-
Wed May 08 2019 04:21PM - Here's the quote from the Trains Magazine web site at http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2019/05/05-big-boy-finds-its-footing-as-trip-west-continues that I couldn't find last night among all my Great Race data. "The locomotive, whose restoration only concluded in time for a test run on Thursday, turned in a remarkable performance, cruising along at 35 mph for long periods of time Sunday, with a diesel in full dynamic braking, 4-8-4 No. 844, and nine passenger cars on the drawbar. The 7,000-hp steam locomotive didn’t even notice." Actually that's somewhat of a paraphrase of the original wording when I first saw it. However it conveys the message that a Big Boy is definitely back on track (pun intended).
Live streaming today from Trains Magazine was disappointing. Not really their fault although they may have planned better in advance. It was the fault of poor communication in the Rocky Mountain terrain plus overload of what communications ther was. I hope UP has more success with their streaming of the Ogden ceremony tomorrow. -30-
Tue May 07 2019 07:35PM - A day of getting caught up again on some more Great Race videos. Along the way I ran into a great description from Trains Magazine's Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/TrainsMagazine/videos/430765917481895/. I can't find the quote now among all the favorites I've saved the past few days, but it went something like this. Ed Dickens got the Big Boy running steadily at 35 MPH with the diesel "helper" in full dynamic braking to simulate a heavy load, the 844 and 9 passenger cars in tow. Big Boy hardly noticed the load with its 7,000 HP. Imagine what it will be able to do when all those new parts are fully broken in before long. -30-
Mon May 06 2019 08:09PM - This was a day to get caught up on some Great Race videos from the past couple days. The Great Race Train started early today and finished early when it arrived at Evanston for a day off the rest of today and tomorrow before taking the last leg of the journey to Ogden for the Thursday ceremonies. I did get to watch live this morning from Carter, WY. Carter has a population of around 10 normally, but today that jumped to at least a couple hundred or more. Trains Magazine provided the live streaming coverage. It was a bit disappointing as just when the train arrived, there was so much wireless/satellite coverage by so many people, the service froze up. However after a minute or two, I thought maybe refreshing my Edge browser might do something, and it did. I got a clean connection and watched the rest of the train layover in Carter, and the departure. It sure is an exciting time.
I think some people are disappointed that Big Boy is not speeding across the Wyoming landscape as it did so many years ago. Of course, and Ed Dickens eplained it very clearly, it's not because 4014 is an old engine, but because it is virtually a brand new one, or at least very many of its parts are brand new, and this is the breaking in run for those parts.
Other than that, some walking, pulling weeds, and playing with my Lionel F3 train occupied my time today. -30-
Sun May 05 2019 07:16PM - This was definitely a trains day. I spent a good deal of time watching multi sources of info on the 4014/844 Great Race to Ogden. I think my brain is suffering from overload right now. But it certainly is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Right now the train is bedded down for the night in Rock Springs, WY preparing for an early departure tomorrow morning to cooperate with some MOW (Maintenance of Way) work on the rails somewhere along the line.
I take 3 iconic moments out of all the videos I watched today. First something of a wistful fantasy. I was watching as the train was parked and a long fast freight whizzed by on an adjacent track. If steam engines were alive beings as some like to think they are, I was wondering if 4014 watched the train zip by and thought of the old days when he pulled such big long heavy freights himself and wondered if he would ever do so again. I wonder what he thought of having 5, 6, 7.....12, 13 diesels being needed to do the work he did alone back when. OK, silly maybe, but....
Next I was watching as the train again was at a stop, and up in the background of the blue sky a jet plane contrail looked almost like it was coming out of the 4014 smokestack. What a contrast of technologies with both being the state of the art at their era in time.
Finally it was a delight to see that some member of the UP Steam Team had scrawled "Big Boy" in chalk or perhaps paint on the boiler front door. According to legend that is how the 4-8-8-4 class of locomotives got the name "Big Boy" when some worker at ALCO did that when one of the locomotives was being built. The class was to have been named "Wasatch" before that.
Now off to kill 30 minutes until streak time. -30-
Sat May 04 2019 08:05PM - My two favorite real locomotives are at this moment near Durrant, WY heading to Odgen, UT for the Thu/Fri ceremonies at Promontory Summit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike. I'm speaking of course of Big Boy 4014 and the Living Legend UP Northern 844. Someday I hope to own both of those for my model railroad collection. Also it would be nice to have the UP Challenger 3985 as well. I think she may be resting in Cheyenne as all the attention is focused on 4014 and 844.
Using some of the hints and suggestions Jeff Kane gave me in our phone call last night, I worked on the two motors from my Lionel F3 2343. I won't bother with all the details, but I did get the one that was smoking fixed up and running good. In fact better than the one that was the "good" one before today. Now I'm thinking I may put both motors in the engine as it originally was before the one started to smoke. However I imagine they should be closely matched in speed to work together, and right now they are not.
Several contests this weekend made for an easy streak QSO at 0000Z this evening when I worked NC1CC in RI on 40M. -30-
Fri May 03 2019 09:04PM - I was just getting set to write the diary entry after checking the message on my answering machine. Turned out it was Jeff Kane from the Train Tender store I've mentioned a few times here in the diary. I called him back and we had a great - I guess about 25 minute talk about trains (of course). I had emailed him earlier today asking a couple questions about my Lionel trains. He gave me some things to try to see if they would help with my problems. I will do that next week some time. He is really quite a fellow, conservative like me and extremely knowledgeable about model trains, especially the post war Lionels and American Flyers. He said he was in the business for 34 years now.
Turning to real railroads now. I'm getting ready to follow the events leading up to the Golden Spike 150th Anniversary this coming Friday. Wish I could be there in person. The Big Boy 4014 will be christened tomorrow, then will be heading off to Utah for the pre-ceremony events on the 9th which will be streamed on the Union Pacific web site, and the ceremony itself on the 10th which will be covered in other ways.
You know how there are many kinds of laughter ranging from cruel to side splitting, and so forth. One kind is a very warm laughter when you are so happy to see something happen like maybe the first time a baby walks and the like. I had to laugh that kind of laugh the other day when I watched a video of the first time Big Boy 4014 blew its whistle in some 60 years. Very heartwarming to see her struggle for several minutes with some sounds nothing like a true whistle, then finally winding up after some tuning and tweaking to something remniscent of what it sounded like years ago. If you like such things, the video is here.
Streak QSO? Of course. Tonight it was KP3U not in Puerto Rico, but SC on 40 meters. -30-
Thu May 02 2019 09:12PM - A solid QSO with KN4LEL down in FL on 20 meters was my streak QSO tonight. It lasted 35 virtually solid minutes. Only a couple words lost both ways in all that time. Sure is great to see the bands like that. Who knows, maybe I'll be chasing DX on 15 and 10 before long. Enough of that dreaming. It will happen, but not for another couple years probably.
It was another nice day for walking and working outside, so I took advantage. My tomatoes and peppers are getting big and getting anxious to go outdoors. Still waiting for my bean seeds to sprout. They've been slow the past couple years now for some reason. -30-
Wed May 01 2019 09:08PM - My streak QSO tonight was with a young (46) ham who just got licensed 4 years ago and into CW 1 year ago. I hope W8SVC Steve sticks with CW. He's already got his speed up pretty good. I was sending about 17 WPM and he about the same and until QSB hit after about 15 minutes, it was solid copy both ways.
It was our warmest day of the year so far, peaking at 87 degrees with some humidity. Sure felt good, and I spent a lot of time outdoors, going downtown, sitting on the porch with Roscoe, doing some weeding, picking up the dead flowers from my tulips. It's a shame they don't last longer.
I put the April weather stats in the computer this morning. April was about 4-5 degrees above average overall. We only had one daily record all month and that was a tie of 24 degrees for the low on the 2nd. It's unusual to have only one in a month, although after about 60 years of records, I guess that's to be expected. -30-
Tue Apr 30 2019 08:41PM - End of the month today so my usual EOM chores. Got quite a few done today, but still a couple left which I'll do later tonight or tomorrow. Of course tomorrow it's my first of the month banking and bill paying day.
My old Lionel 736 acting up again. Now one of the drive wheels is slipping a bit on its axle. I'll probably get a new wheel from the Train Tender and replace it. I'm guessing the wheel metal is softer than the axle metal so it's probably the wheel that is wearing. I'll probably get an axle too though just to be sure. Seems like there is always something going wrong, but then the engine is really almost 70 years with a lot of wear on it back in mostly the 50s.
It was nice tonight to not have to keep switching between xmt and rcv antennas. Conditions were good enough to keep W8HOM's signals above my S7 noise. Actually my noise does seem to be getting a little less strong lately also. -30-
Mon Apr 29 2019 08:25PM - A quick QSO tonight to close out another month of the streak. That's 24 years, 8 months and 26 days. Let's see how many full months that is - 24 x 12 = 288 + 8 = 296 months. Wow, just 4 more months and it will be 300. I didn't realize that till I did the math here, but it makes sense since 25 years would be 300 months and I'll reach that after the month of August concludes. Of course I'll hit the 25 year mark earlier that month also. Oh, the QSO was with Doug WA0CRI on 40 from MN just south of the Canadian border where it is 32 degrees with 3 inches of new s#$w on the ground. Our low here this morning was 31 or 32 and we had some frost. No s#$w though.
I got my package from the Train Tender today, and installed most of the 10 or so parts. I'll finish up tomorrow. I really like the boiler front for the 736. The old one was pretty beat up. I also put the side posts on the lumber car. Three were missing. Another thing was the spout on the water tower which was broken. To tell the truth, very little from the attic didn't have some damage or was dirty, just didn't run, had items missing, etc. I think a lot of it was my fault, or the fault of the person I got a lot of it from way back in the 1950s. I also got some smoke fluid and I need to hook the power to the smoke unit before I use it. That should be tomorrow also.
I also moved my trains around again. I don't think I'll ever settle on a final arrangement or choose which scale I will concentrate most of my efforts on. Right now it's the Lionel simply because I have so many items from that scale and have the Train Tender as a great source of anything I need. -30-
Sun Apr 28 2019 08:33PM - Once again, not much to talk about in the diary. Just not a lot of new things happening around here lately. There should be something a little different tomorrow or maybe the next day. I should be getting a package of train parts from Jeff, The Train Tender. Mostly cosmetic parts, not operating parts. For example, a new boiler front door for the 736, a semaphore arm, a rectifier for the controller which should allow the whistle to operate again, some smoke fluid for the 736, and a few other things. All the trains continue to run well here.
It took a little while to get my QSO this evening, but finally worked Joe AA9IK up in WI. We worked before several years ago.
That's about it for tonight, so 73. -30-
Sat Apr 27 2019 08:17PM - The FL QP provided a very quick streak QSO this evening as I knew it would. It's nice to have those days when there are virtually no worries about keeping the streak going.
I did some train work today. I made a track cleaning tool so I could clean the track where I couldn't easily reach it. It's just two pieces of wood - a block with a handle attached to it. Then the block is wrapped in a rag, cleaning fluid added, and the track is wiped clean. I also attempted to make a pair of track pliers like those shown here:
Actually to be technically correct, those pliers are for O-27 track. I was making mine for regular O track. I clamped a pair of pliers to my drill press, inserted a 7/64 inch bit, and started drilling a little hole near the tip of the pliers as shown in the picture. However the metal in the pliers proved too tough, and my bit too old and dull. I never got beyond the very start of a hole, perhaps 1/32 inch deep. I'll get a newer, sharper, and tougher bit at a hardware store next week and try to finish the job. If I succeed, it will help me crimp the ends of the track sections to make more secure connections to the track pins and improve any electrical deficiencies there may be. -30-
Fri Apr 26 2019 08:19PM - Thanks to KM1CC handing out IMD QSOs, my streak QSO came easily and fairly quickly. I did try a few DX stations on 20 with no luck before that.
I thought maybe I had my Empire Builder engine derailing problem solved. I thought it was a couple questionable track connections I found and fixed. However after running 3 hours last night and 5 more hours this morning without incident, it went back to its old ways. I thought it might have been the speed, as I just turned up the speed a bit before it derailed. However after I slowed down to the speed at which it had been running perfectly, it again derailed. So back to the drawing board. I still think it is the pilot truck being too light and too loosely connected to the engine. Under certain conditions it bounces and jumps the rail is what I think is happening. Its something that's hard to check and if that is it, it's hard to fix. Oh well, I've got several other engines to play with. -30-
Thu Apr 25 2019 08:31PM - It sure is nice to have good conditions on the bands again that allow signals to peak out of my local noise. It makes me want to stick around after I get that QSO for my streak. Tonight I stuck around long enough to get three QSOs including one DX - XE2I. I hope it continues this way now.
Nothing much to talk about otherwise. Some playing with trains, walking, walking and sitting on the porch with Roscoe, and other such things. -30-
Wed Apr 24 2019 09:18PM - Pizza night with Mike who is now in my shack trying to work S58Q on 40 as I type here. I hear him coming down now. Wonder if he got him. Wait a minute and we'll find out. No, but he said it was fun trying.
Well, we watched some railroad videos, and a couple hours later, Mike just left for home.
So it's late now so I'll cut this short and update my other pages. -30-
Tue Apr 23 2019 08:37PM - A quick QSO from AD5A at 0001Z who was giving out IOTA NA-092 QSOs from Padre Island, TX.
Not much going on today besides the usual daily routines. I did dig out a couple old Lionel switches from my attic. I don't think much of anything from the attic collection of mostly 1950s train equipment works right away without some tinkering. The switches were the same way. A couple solder connections had broken loose. After fixing them, they seemed to work OK. The track itself is in rather poor shape with quite a few little, but rather deep pits. I sanded them down as best I could. I checked the operation of the switching mechanism, but I haven't put them in my circuit yet. I might do that tomorrow.
We had a variety of weather today from cool to pretty warm, from sunshine to thunderstorms, from calm to windy, and so forth. Pretty much a typical April day in these parts as we transition from cold months to warm months. -30-
Mon Apr 22 2019 08:24PM - A nice weather day today. Cloudy in the morning, then clearing in the afternoon with a high near 70. A good day to be outside which I was walking and sitting on the porch swing with Roscoe. Then I did some yard clean up and mowed the grass for the first time this year.
I did get a scare today when my Lionel stopped on the track while I was sitting here at the computer. I gave it a good inspection and didn't find anything wrong so I thought I'd give it a good lube job and that seemed to fix things. I didn't think I'd run it long enough to need a lube job yet, but I guess I have been running it quite a bit lately. Anyway, it is running normally again as I sit here and type the diary entry.
A quick QSO on 40 for the streak at 0012 from VE2GDI Gary in Valleyfield.
Need a red bulb for something on your train layout and only have clear ones? I bought a cheap $1 bottle of nail polish and applied 4 or 5 coats to the bulbs and now I have two flashing red lights in my railroad crossing sign. Have a black engine that has some scratches and chips? I fixed the old 736 with a Sharpie marker. Not an exact match but very very close. After figuring that out myself, a couple days later I saw a video using the same method, but after the ink dried, a rubbing with motor oil blended the ink with the black paint for a perfect match. I haven't tried that yet, but it sure looked good on the video. -30-
Sun Apr 21 2019 09:06PM - A good long rag chew this evening with Pete K4EWG on 40 meters. Solid all the way for 43 minutes. Nice to be able to have those kind of solid QSOs again after so many touch and go QSOs the past few months mostly on 80 meters.
Friday night Mike and I were talking about trains, basically the pros and cons of O, HO, and N scale railroads. We came up with the following:
O - Pros: Big and easiet to work with with ageing eyesight and fingers. Equipment is most realistic because of the size for details. I already have a collection of equipment and accessories, although not really a lot. Cons: A decent sized layout takes way too much space. Equipment is expensive.
HO - Pros: Takes up only about half the size of O scale. Less expensive than O. Still pretty easy to work on. Equipment widely available. Cons: Detailing somewhat less than O.
N - Pros: A large detailed layout takes very little space. Cons: Very difficult to work on at my age because of the small size. Not quite as much equipment available as HO or O. Fewer details on the equipment and accessories.
There's more, but those are most of the main points. Some day, I'm going to have to decide on one of the three as the one I spend the most time, work, and money on, and keep the others as just basic sets. Stay tuned as things progress. -30-
Sat Apr 20 2019 08:12PM - This was the weekend a few years ago that Mike and I had a contesting extravaganza. We entered something like 7 or 8 different contests. I was reminded of that when I saw several contests listed this weekend. I tried a couple DX stations in the CQMM DX contest with no luck. That was strange because one was HC2AO and Alex usually hears me no matter the conditions. So I guess they are really bad tonight. Then I went to 40 for either the MI or ON QPs. I worked KM8CC in MI for the streak.
Not a lot going on here today. I did some track and wheel cleaning on the Lionel 736 layout. I also worked on the G scale train I got yesterday, but still don't have it running all that good. I think it's a gear problem. It runs intermittently. Backwards it runs quite a while. Forwards only a few inches then quits till it is pushed again. -30-
Fri Apr 19 2019 08:46PM - Deja Vu all over again, as Yogi would say. We went out to the Kittanning Township Fire Hall all set for a big fish buffet dinner, but as happened a few weeks ago, they were sold out of food. This time even earlier than the previous time, only at 6:10PM and they are supposed to serve until 7:00PM. Very poor planning on their part. I guess they didn't learn from the last time. So Mike and I instead headed to Long John Silver's and ordered one of their big family sized fish dinner. As Mike said on the way, next year he'll be retired and we can plan to be there when they open up the buffet.
We also did some planning for our upcoming events, then went to the shack. I got my streak QSO from W1CVE on 40, but we didn't find any workable DX. Mike did chase an LZ station, but didn't have any luck working him. With tomorrow being a work day, Mike had to head home a few minutes ago. -30-
Thu Apr 18 2019 08:54PM - Wow, the bands really are picking up. I got three QSOs, all on different bands, and all from my CQs which I didn't have to call too long. I worked WA4WZR in TN on 40, KQ1P in ME on 30, and NT5TT in TX on 20. Kind of peaking my interest in ham radio again. Hope these conditions continue. I also probably could have worked Kam TI5/N3KS on 20, but he was working some other DX so I didn't bother calling him.
I bought another train set today. The Ol' Station Marketplace had a G gauge set called the Gold Rush Express consisting of an Engine, Tender, Box Car, and Caboose. The price tag said 6 dollars, so I couldn't resist. With my usual discount for being a good regular customer, it came to only $4.25. As of yet, it doesn't run all that well, but I still have to work on it. Even if it doesn't run, it's a beautiful looking set and will be nice for display. If it does run, I don't know where I'll put such a big G gauge rail anyway. HI. -30-
Wed Apr 17 2019 08:25PM - Not really much going on today. I just took care of some little jobs I'd been putting off. I fixed my sundial. The gnomon had come loose. I just super glued it back in place. I'll see if that will hold. I also fixed the broken pipe at the bottom of my gate that broke when a recycle bin blew into it last month in a very strong windstorm. And other things like that which I won't go into.
It took a while to get my QSO tonight, and when K2PMC down in FL did answer me, copy was very rough here and I had to ask for repeats to get his name and QTH, but at least it continued the streak another day.
Mike and I decided to go to the last Lenten fish dinner on Friday and discuss some of our plans for the summer. -30-
Tue Apr 16 2019 09:13PM - It was D-Day today. No, not that D-Day, but Diesel-Day. I did some super glue work on my 736 this morning, and wanted to give it a full 24 hours to set up thoroughly. So I decided to do some work on my Lionel 2343 diesel while the 736 was out of commission. I cleaned and oiled it and tried to fix a point where one truck was rubbing the chassis. I think I got that fixed. However it still doesn't run as well as it should. I don't really know why. Everything looks and checks good, but it still starts very slowly and runs slowly and noisily until after several laps around the track it does run faster and a little quieter, but still not perfect as I would like it to. I probably never will get it to be perfect and will have to settle for what I have. After all, it is over 60 years old like the 736, and I guess without a total rebuild with all new parts, it never will be like it was way back when.
As it has for the past dozen days now, 40 once again provided my streak QSO. Well, except for last night when it was 20 meters. Tonight it was NR2Z answering my CQ from NC. We had a solid 30 minute QSO. -30-
Mon Apr 15 2019 08:23PM - Well, well, what do you know? I worked some 'real' DX this evening. Not that KP4 and other Caribbean stations I worked the past few months aren't DX, but tonight my signal went much further than that. Maybe conditions are picking up! I worked pretty easily XR201H in Los Angeles, CHILE on 20 meters. He got WWW the first time, then K2WWP, and finally K3WWP after I sent K3 K3 K3WWP. According to QRZ, that's a 1000 MPW QSO at 5153.7 miles for Santiago, and Los Angeles is a couple hundred miles more distant. I'm still excited. I guess the thrill of working DX never gets old.
Nothing new on the trains front today.
I mentioned discontinuing my web site poll, and I am going to do that in a couple of days now. I'll say more about it when I actually do it. -30-
Sun Apr 14 2019 09:14PM - I'm running a bit late tonight. My streak QSO was with Pierre VE2PID on 40. Unfortunately QSB brought it to a premature halt after 1 1/2 rounds. Just like a lot of QSOs on 80 the past few months.
Not a lot of train work today. Mostly I played with my N gauge trains. Still trying to figure out why the Empire Builder loco likes to derail quite frequently. I was reading some Internet reviews on the engine and it seems to be somewhat of a common complaint. Wish now I'd read the reviews before I committed to buying the set. However that was back when I was just getting started in my train revival and I lost a couple N gauge locos and wanted to get something up and running quickly and the ad for the Empire Builder looked like just the thing. Oh well, live and learn.
I'm thinking of getting rid of the poll on my web site. I only get about one or less votes per day each month, and that doesn't seem worth the effort it takes to think up a new poll, and then create the poll page. I'll have more about that in the next few days. Now it's time to walk Roscoe. -30-
Sat Apr 13 2019 08:06PM - This was just about an ideal spring day. Partly cloudy, low 70s temperature, low humidity, no precipitation. What more can you ask for. Needless to say I spent a lot of time outdoors. I took 3 pretty long walks, of course also walked Roscoe as I do 3 or 4 times every day, helped Ange do some work in his garden, did a little clean up in my own yard, etc.
That didn't leave much time for trains, other than to just run them for a while to keep them loose, and clean the track(s) a bit. I'm looking for some info on my old American Flyer 322 on the Internet. I've found some sources listing part numbers which is what I really need to get started on its restoration. It will be much rougher than the 736 as there are a lot more missing parts. It looks like I really disassembled it when I was a kid. Also the only thing I have from whatever the set consisted of at that time is the locomotive and tender bodies - no track, no rolling stock, no controller. Still it would be an achievement that would bring great satisfaction to get it running again. I guess kind of like the Big Boy 4014 restoration, but on a much smaller scale. HI.
When I went to the shack for my streak QSO, I found the GA QSO Party in full swing, and got a quick QSO there from W4TM. -30-
Fri Apr 12 2019 08:46PM - Once again, it was 40 meters for the streak QSO this evening. Looks like it is going to be the band of choice for a while now. Tonight I worked Ron K4UY in AL.
I finished the last major piece of restoration on the Berkshire 736 this morning when I installed the e-unit. Still a few minor things to do, but they are simple fixes. I need to get some smoke fluid for the smoke unit. I also need to get the whistle working, but that's mainly a controller problem, not a train problem. I think the rectifier in the controller that sends DC to the track to activate the whistle relay is bad. Oh, I also did a bit of touching up the finish on the locomotive where the black paint was a little chipped or scratched. So it's close to being just like it was back in the 1950's. According to minor differences, I think my loco is either a 1950 or 1951 model. I need to do a bit more research to be sure. -30-
Thu Apr 11 2019 07:08PM - I don't really thoroughly read the ARRL letter, but just glance through it quickly unless something catches my attention. With that said, I was struck by this article in the latest letter.
Solar Cycle 25 Predicted to be Similar to Cycle 24:
Scientists predicting the sun's activity for Solar Cycle 25 say it's likely to be much like that of current Cycle 24, which is declining and predicted to bottom out in 2019 or 2020. Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel experts said Solar Cycle 25 may get off to a slow start, but is anticipated to peak between 2023 and 2026 with a sunspot range of 95 to 130. This is well below the typical average of 140 to 220 sunspots per solar cycle. The panel expressed high confidence that the coming cycle should break the trend of weakening solar activity seen over the past four cycles. The Solar Cycle Prediction Panel forecasts the number of sunspots expected for solar maximum, along with the timing of the peak and minimum solar activity levels for the cycle. The outlook was presented on April 5 at the 2019 NOAA Space Weather Workshop in Boulder, Colorado.
The key takeaways from that statement for me were:
1. The current cycle 24 is very close to, if not at, the minimum. That agrees with what I've been saying as I track the daily solar flux on my propagation page. After dipping into the upper 60s at times last year, most readings this year have been in the lower 70s which indicates we may be on the way back up.
2. It looks like cycle 25 will reverse the trend downward in overall numbers in the last 4 cycles indicating another Maunder Minimum may not be on the way as some folks feared.
That's just a very simple take on the story. It goes into much more detail for anyone who is interested enough to delve down into the atom, electron, ion, etc. level. I'm really not.
My Lionel 736 e unit came today, but I just didn't feel like working on it today. Maybe tomorrow. Then that will pretty much complete the 736 restoration. Then I may work on an old American Flyer engine if I can find info on it like I did for the Lionel.
Speaking of restoration, I was excited to learn from the Union Pacific Steam Shop news email that the Big Boy 4014 had a fire in the boiler for the first time in some 60 years, and this time it was an oil fire, not coal. Looks like the conversion to oil went well. The 4014 will be joining the 844 on a trip to Promontory Point for the 150th anniversary celebration of the driving of the golden spike on May 10th. I'd love to be able to be there or even more so I'd love to be on the excursion train back to Cheyenne led by those two engines after the ceremony. I wonder if 3985 will be there also. It wasn't mentioned in the newsletter or I missed it. -30-
Wed Apr 10 2019 09:07PM - Nice to see 40 meters still behaving well in the evenings. Took only a couple minutes to get an answer to my CQ from Carmen K1LKP followed by a 47 minute solid copy QSO. I hadn't got a lot of QSOs like that on 80 the past few months.
My Bachmann Empire Builder engine still acting up today. It runs good for long periods of time, then decides to derail. I also noted when it runs real slow it moves jerkily. I'm not sure what it all means or if the two things are connected. I need to do more research.
Otherwise I expanded my Lionel oval track layout today. I added two track sections, about 20 inches to the long dimension. I'd like to add even more. I certainly have enough track, but not enough real estate. HI. -30-
Tue Apr 09 2019 08:44PM - I had a really great time this afternoon. I got the phone number of a friend I worked with at WPIT many years ago and gave him a call. I hadn't talked with him in probably over 20 years now. We kind of made up for that with about a two hour telephone "rag chew". We got caught up on a lot of things in that call.
I made my usual of late one QSO in our NAQCC sprint this evening to keep my streak going of never missing one of our 174 sprints. I wish I didn't have this strong local noise that makes it virtually impossible to copy other QRP signals. Maybe some day it will go away.
Before that I worked Ad W7FW on 40 for my streak QSO. He was running a KW so no problem copying him at all.
About all I did today with trains was to try to figure out why my new Empire Builder Bachmann Santa Fe engine was periodically derailing. I found one truck on the engine was lightly rubbing against a step on turns and fixed that by bending the step very slightly. I also fixed some joints in the track that were very slightly not mating completely correctly. Finally I oiled all the rods on the engine. I also cushioned the board on which it was running to perhaps eliminate any floor vibrations possibly causing the derailing. It seems to be working much better after doing all that, but I'm not quite ready to give it an "A" just yet till I run it some more.
Also my e-unit for the 736 plus some light bulbs should arrive tomorrow. The package is in nearby Pittsburgh as of late this afternoon. -30-
Mon Apr 08 2019 08:52PM - It was nice to be able to call CQ on 40 and get a response after not too long. There were a lot of good peaks on 40 on the PX3. You can tell it's spring with the increased hours of daylight here in the Northern Hemisphere. Not only that, but it seems we've bottomed out in the sunspot cycle and it's onward and upward from here on out. It was also nice to work a long-time diary follower from the NFL championship city, Green Bay, WI. Of course you know or should know that Green Bay has the most NFL championships. New England has the most Super Bowl victories now, but not the most NFL championships. That irks me that many folks think the NFL started when the Super Bowl started. WRONG. The NFL existed some 45 years before the Super Bowl. Oh, who did I work after that soapbox comment? It was Nate N8HWV. We had a nice chat although he did use the word s@#W once or twice. Come to think of it, so did I. There's no way to easily send s@#W in Morse and I had to (ugh) spell it out. HI.
Train work today consisted of cleaning the wheels on my Lionel consist of 10 pieces of rolling stock along with the track. The 736 continues to roll along at a steady pace. Next up, installing the e-unit and some burned out bulbs. Jeff sent them off today so I should have them in a couple days now. -30-
Sun Apr 07 2019 08:25PM - Way to go Baylor Lady Bears. They've always been my favorite lady's team ever since Kim Mulkey became their head coach back in 2000. This is their third championship since she became head coach. Might have had more without a UConn team to contend with every year in the tournament. I alway thought Kim Mulkey was the best point guard (man or woman) I ever watched when she played for Louisiana Tech way back when. It was really a joy to watch her play. Now I think she is still the only person to ever win a championship as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. Ever since the women got their NCAA tournament in 1982, Mulkey has been involved every year in some capacity except 1985 and 2003.
Now in the man's championship tomorrow evening I'll be rooting for Texas Tech. I've been a fan of that team since they hired Bobby Knight as coach after he somewhat unceremonially left Indiana. He's retired now, but he did coach TT from 2001-2008. In several of those years he led TT to the tournament, someplace they hadn't been the previous 4 or 5 years. Although a very controversial person, I rate him as one of the best coaches, maybe the best, that I've seen. The 1976 Hoosiers coached by Knight are the last team to go without a loss the entire season including March Madness.
Otherwise today was a copy of yesterday. Same train story, different train. The other one I bought at the Ol' Station Marketplace back in December. So I have two N scale engines in need of a motor to be running again.
It only took a couple minutes to work Ken W9STG for the streak this evening. He answered my CQ on 80 meters. I tried calling a YV and an N5 on 20, both who had great signals, but no luck. The YV almost got me, but not quite. Nothing from the N5 but a QRZ, then nothing after I repeated my call. -30-
Sat Apr 06 2019 09:09PM - The MO QSO Party gave me a quick streak QSO when I worked K0JPL on 40M.
I spent the day, or most of it, wrestling with another train engine. Back in December I bought a couple N gauge locos from the Ol' Station Marketplace. They were in poor shape but they ran for a little while before giving up the ghost. Shortly after that I got several train sets in various ways. Some I brought down from my attic where they were stored for many years. Others were gifts. A couple I bought myself. So the Ol' Station Marketplace engines got put away on the shelf. I dug one out today and tried my best to get it running, but the best I could do was get it to run intermittently, never really making a full lap. A little bit ago I gave up after finding the motor was pretty much shot like the Lionel 736 motor. It can be fixed though if I can find a replacement motor as I did with the 736. At least I have the five RRs running quite well to enjoy now as you saw in the video I posted a couple entries ago. -30-
Fri Apr 05 2019 08:38PM - Mike just left a couple minutes ago. We went to the Kittanning Township Firehall for a Lenten fish dinner buffet and stuffed ourselves. Then we came back here and worked on or played with my trains. I was trying to figure out what was wrong with one of my N gauge transformers/controllers. We finally did figure it out, and it's working fine now. It's too complicated to even tell the full story. Our brains are still tired from all the thinking we had to do to figure it out.
Then we went to the shack at 0000Z where I worked after a minute or so VE7ACN/CK9 on a single call followed by Mike who then worked him. That was on 40 after which we checked 30 and 20, but found nothing there.
Earlier today I added a headlight bulb to the 736 and installed part of the smoke generator. Both worked just fine. -30-
Thu Apr 04 2019 04:56PM - How about a video today?
Those are my five model railroads. Well, at least the trains sans scenery, etc. as follows:
1. HO train with a Rock Island locomotive my neighbor gave me.
2. Toy train in a tin I bought at the WPA Model Railroad Museum last year.
3. Bachmann Yard Boss set Mike gave me for Christmas.
4. Bachmann Empire Builder set I ordered in December and finally receivied yesterday.
5. The 1950s Lionel Berkshire 736 I've been talking about quite a bit in the diary lately.
I hope to eventually get some real layouts going. Probably mostly with the N gauge Empire Builder. Incidentally the engine for that set is a Northern 4-8-4 which is the configuration of my favorite real life engine, the Union Pacific 844. Perhaps someday I can re-paint and re-number it at the 844. Maybe even add the smoke deflectors like the real 844. A lot to look forward to, if I ever do get to it some day. -30-
Wed Apr 03 2019 07:17PM - Fifty-six years ago today, there was a very happy young boy when this came in the mail. Well actually it really didn't come on the third, but a few days later.
Fifty-six years to the day after that (today) there is a very happy young (at heart) boy again. I got my Lionel 736 motor today, installed it, and watched it working quite a while. But wait, there's more (as they say in those ads). Later in the day a neighbor showed up at the door with a big box. He said it was delivered to his place by mistake. I couldn't figure out what it could be, but I thanked him and took it inside where it dawned on me that it might be my Bachmann N gauge Empire Builder railroad set I ordered way back in mid December. Sure enough, it was. So I set it up and 'ran it in' for a while as should be done with all new locomotives.
How's that for a great double header? Now I've got 5 railroads running. Not all at once yet though. I have to figure out just where I'm going to eventually set them up.
Now that I think I have the 736 running in good shape, I want to finish refurbishing it. Maybe I'll add the smoke generator tomorrow. After that the e-unit. I emailed Jeff at The Train Tender and asked him if he had a complete e-unit. He didn't, but kindly offered to build me one from his parts inventory. Wasn't that nice of him!.
Well guess I'll run some trains till it's time to go to the shack and add another day to my streak. -30-
Tue Apr 02 2019 08:26PM - Just checking on my 736 motor mailing. It departed the regional facility at Warrendale, PA at 6:44PM this evening. It should arrive in Kittanning overnight, be sorted and ready for delivery in the morning, and be in the 736 by tomorrow afternoon. Then hopefully when I type the diary tomorrow evening I can be listening to the sweet music of it going around the track again as was the case a couple nights ago.
Today I decided to give my track a good thorough cleaning to be ready for the return of the 736. I took it all apart and cleaned the connecting pins (it's the old Lionel class O three rail track), tightened them in their 'sockets' and crimped the 'sockets' in the matching pieces of track for a snug fit when I put it all together again. Actually I still have half the track to do yet. Maybe tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. So far that seems to have helped with a couple minor slowdowns at certain points in the track.
My streak QSO came on 40 meters this evening when I worked Ken K5WK. The band was in pretty good shape. I saw several good peaks on the PX3 while I was working Ken. Very gradually, overall conditions seem to be picking up, maybe because of the lengthening hours of daylight now.
If I remember, in tomorrow's diary I'll show my first ham license as KN3WWP from April 3, 1963. -30-
Mon Apr 01 2019 08:54PM - In a couple days now, it will be the 56th anniversary of my first ham ticket KN3WWP. I say this a lot lately, but where does the time go?
On the other hand maybe it's good time passes fast sometimes. Like the next two days as I await the arrival of my new Lionel 736 motor from Jeff, the Train Tender. I don't know Jeff personally and have only dealt with him three times now in the past three weeks or so, but I already consider him a friend. He has really helped out with the restoration of my 1950s trains quite a bit now. I didn't see the motor in the parts list on his web site, but I emailed him anyway and he came right back with another motor that he said would fit the 736 and would run it. He asked if I wanted him to ship it. I said I'd give it a try. So he mailed it today after I said that last night. It is scheduled to arrive in three days, although his last shipment came in just 2 days. He said I could send him a check when it arrives. Now that's a very nice person and he has a great way of doing business. I've said this before, but if you are ever looking for parts for a Lionel train or accessory, give him a try. I bet he can help you. He handles some American Flyer parts also. Oh, it's prewar, postwar, and modern Lionel stuff, so he covers all eras.
OK, weather time now. I put the March data in the computer this morning. The average low, high, and mean were all within about a half degree of normal. Precipitation was about 50% of normal.
Tough bands tonight. I had a rather intermittent QSO with Jim KW4KD on 80 meters. Otherwise not many good signals except for the 80 meter nets. -30-
Sun Mar 31 2019 08:42PM - After running beautifully for a few days, the 736 blowed up this evening. The motor seized up and several wires in the armature burned up. I don't know which came first, but there's no way to repair the armature short of a complete rewiring or buying a new one. I'll probably do the latter. At least I enjoyed it for a few days. I had it up to hauling all my Lionel rolling stock effortlessly. Oh well. To be continued, I hope.
I worked some DX for the streak QSO a few minutes ago in the form of Ger HK7AAG on 30 meters. A fairly easy QSO as I got him on my second try after he worked someone else before me. -30-
Sat Mar 30 2019 08:34PM - I'm sitting here listening to some nice background music as I type. My Lionel 736 running like a charm around its loop of track. Sure is good to hear it running pretty much like it did back in the 50s again. I still have some things to restore on it, but hey it's at least running great now. I worked on the whistle in the tender today and have it pretty well back in working order again except for a few little tweaks. Then I still have to re-install/update the smoke unit. Also I need to put in a new e-unit. For those non-railroaders, that's the device that switches directions of the train. Right now it's locked into going forward.
Tomorrow is one of those end of month busy days followed by a first of the month day which is also busy. So I've got a lot to do the next two days. Probably won't get to do much train work.
The bands were good this evening. I didn't get to check much since I heard my friend Geo W3ANX in nearby Apollo calling CQ and answered him for almost a half hour QSO ragchewing about trains and other matters. -30-
Fri Mar 29 2019 08:43PM - A rough night on the bands although conditions didn't seem all that bad. I tried HK7AAG a few times on 30 but lost out each time to someone else. So I went back to the band of choice of late, 80 meters. I called CQ quite a few times before finally getting an answer from N3BXZ in MD. Copy was very rough and I had to ask for several repeats which I usually don't have to do, but copy was rougher than usual for this QSO.
I changed out the brushes on the 736 this morning. The new brushes are about two times plus the length of the old worn ones. In fact even a bit longer than the old brushes and the spacers I put in the brush well. It didn't make a lot of difference, but it's nice to have the new brushes in there. I also worked some on the motor(s) in my Lionel diesel engine. The engine has two motors but the one was smoking so I removed it some time ago. It's strange, but I get almost identical resistance readings on both motors, but the one still smoked a little when I tried it today. So back on the shelf for the time being. Maybe tomorrow I'll work on the 736 smoke unit. Meanwhile it ran beautifully every time I ran it today. Oh, I didn't bother replacing the brush springs as the old ones work fine with the new brushes. I can't wait till I see it running with steam/smoke as a real steam engine should do. Maybe tomorrow I will. -30-
Thu Mar 28 2019 07:45PM - Just finished answering some DX cards that will be sent out the next time I do a buro mailing which isn't very often lately. It takes a while to accumulate a pound of cards so I've been sending a half pound recently and it even takes time to accumulate that many. I work very few new band countries, prefixes, etc. and most cards I send now are to those who send a card requesting mine.
Besides that, it was mostly a train day. I got my parts order from the Train Tender today, and installed some of them. For cosmetic reasons I added the two missing handrails and that looks nicer now. I also added two missing bolts to the guide rod and now all 8 wheels are being driven by the motor. I replaced the screw in one eccentric rod bearing = another cosmetic move since the one I had used for a replacement worked fine, but this one looks better. Finally I replaced the (very) worn power pickup rollers. I still have to do the brushes and springs plus the smoke unit. No hurry on the brushes as the motor is working fine as is right now. The smoker is another just cosmetic thing, so no hurry on it either. However I may put that on the project list for tomorrow. Old 736 ran just fine all day today except for a couple minor derailments. I think that is a track thing. It also was a tiny bit sluggish when starting up after a long rest.
OK, time to head to the shack now. Hope I can get another quick QSO. -30-
Wed Mar 27 2019 10:33PM - Another late night and a short entry. Mike came down for our monthly pizza night, and he just left a little bit ago. We had our pizza, discussed some plans for later this year, checked out the bands which were decent although we didn't work anyone, then closed out the evening by watching some railroad videos.
Speaking of railroads, the Berkshire 736 is running the best it has since my restoration began a few weeks ago. It's still not 100% as it does hesitate and even come to a full stop, but not nearly as often as it used to. My train parts should be here on tomorrow or Friday and it will be interesting to see what happens when I replace the brushes, brush springs, and pick up rollers. I'm pretty sure it's an electrical problem that's making it still act up a bit. -30-
Tue Mar 26 2019 07:01PM - A milestone was reached today (last evening) when my CW/QRP/simple wire antenna streak of at least one such QSO per day reached 9,000 consecutive days when I worked Dick KD3KO on 80 meters. Only(?) 1,000 more days now till I hit the 10,000 day mark if I do. Check my math, but I think that should be Sunday, December 19, 2021. Right?
I won a major battle with the Lionel 736 last night. First it was it's turn. It stopped dead on the tracks after running good most of the day with only some minor problems. The drive wheels and the axle with the gear on it were totally seized up. I couldn't turn them at all by hand nor by spinning the armature by hand. I gave up for a while and figured this was a job for a professional repairman. I went and took Roscoe for a walk and visited with Bruce for a while. When I came back home, I got really mad at the 736 and grabbed the wheel by hand and turned it as hard as I could. Snap, it broke free and turned. I then went about examining the gear well and started picking at some of the old grease with a toothpick and small screwdriver. I was pulling a couple bits of something out of the well. I couldn't tell what it was because it was covered in grease. Then I noticed a bigger piece of something and tried to dig it out. It was something curved and hard like metal. I finally got it out and it was a tiny lockwasher. I wondered how long that had been in there and how many of my problems with the engine it had been responsible for. I tried out the engine briefly before going to bed and it seemed fine and quieter than before.
The first thing this morning, I started it up and after still starting a bit sluggishly, it ran well about 98 percent of the day. It still hesitated a bit a few times and even stopped completely once or twice. I think that may be a problem with the brushes, brush springs, or pickup rollers. I have an order on the way with replacements for all three plus some other parts. I ordered them from the Train Tender whom I've talked about before. I emailed the order yesterday evening, and he mailed the parts today with the bill which he says to send my check for when I get the parts. That is such a great way to do business and a real throwback to the times before credit cards, PayPal and other newfangled ways of transferring money. I love it and will give him my business whenever I can. The package should be here in just 3 days now according to PO tracking.
Oh BTW, the 736 ran so well today, I put the frame on this evening and it still runs fine except for a little hesitation now and then that I described. Perhaps it's no wonder it hesitates now as the engine alone without the tender or rolling stock weighs 5 1/2 pounds! That's a big load in itself alone on the track. So far I've only added the tender and a caboose.
Well, about 35 minutes to kill now before I go for streak day 9,001. -30-
Mon Mar 25 2019 07:31PM - I'm just sitting here waiting for 0000Z to arrive so I thought I might as well get the diary entry written now.
I actually got a pack of 21 QSL cards from the QSL bureau today. Five are answers to cards I sent out, 13 more need my card for whatever reason, and 3 are for QSOs I can't find in my log. There were something like 6 or 7 new prefixes verified among the bunch. It had been so long I had to think a while just what my procedure is for taking care of and logging bureau cards. HI
A record was tied in March Madness in the round of 16 or as it's more popularly known, the Sweet Sixteen. If you add all the seed numbers of those teams who made the 16, a perfect score would be 40. That is 1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds advancing in each of the 4 brackets. That has never happened since the field expanded to 64 in 1985. This year the total was 49 with a 5 and 12 seed advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. That was also done back in 2009. If you're curious, the highest total was in 1986 at 89.
A perfect Elite 8 would be 12 with all 4 1 and 2 seeds advancing. That likewise has never happened, but it was 13 in 2007. Did all four 1 seeds ever make it to the final four? Yes, but only once in 2008. The final four seeds totalled 26 three years later in 2011.
Today so far was the best day yet for my Lionel 736. I ran it still without the frame for maybe 8-10 sessions of 18-24 minutes or so, some of them with the tender and a couple freight cars and the caboose. I had only a couple hesitations, one derailment, and one time when the power connector to the track popped off. The armature still perfect as well as the motor mounting and gear mesh. With that, I went ahead and ordered the parts I need to fully restore it.
Sun Mar 24 2019 08:41PM - The bands seemed pretty good this evening, but it was hard to get a QSO until Carl WB0CFF finally answered one of my CQs on 80 meters. If you looked at my streak table on my home page, you probably noted I actually worked some DX last evening on 40 meters in the form of K7FA operating portable in Curacao. It wasn't an easy QSO, but we made it.
Mpre struggles with the 736 today, but I think I'm finally winning the war although the 736 still winning some battles. She ran good all morning but then was up to her old tricks this afternoon. I have a new suspect now. I'm pretty sure I have the armature fixed, the gear mesh constant, the motor mounting screws secured, the shims just right, the wheel rods OK. However one of the drive wheels is slightly loose on the axle and that may be causing some problems, but I'm not sure yet. Time will tell. Right now it's running good but without the frame although towing its pretty heavy tender.
OK, I've got to check on the basketball scores now. Things have gone pretty well according to seed yesterday and today so far after 12 upsets in the round of 64. -30-
Sat Mar 23 2019 11:24AM - This is going to be an entry where I get caught up on some things. First, I've been meaning to mention this, but I keep forgetting as my brain ages. My streak is closing in on another 1,000 day mark. On March 26, the streak will hit day # 9,000. Hard to believe it's been that long now that I've gone to the shack and made at least one CW/QRP QSO each and every one of those days. Where does the time go, and why does its passage accelerate as we get older?
Next I promised some pictures of my tulips and my vegetable plants, so let me edit those now and then post them here.
The tulips in my back yard sprouted around the first of March and this picture shows them on March 19. The containers in my kitchen window show the peppers on the left and the Siberian tomatoes also on March 19.
Mike arrived yesterday around 5:30PM and we chatted about various things, one of which being his retirement later this year and how it (positively) will affect our various projects from then on. We discussed that more after our Lenten dinner. That did not go as planned. The Kittanning Township Firehall ran out of food shortly before we arrived around 6:20PM. So it was off to find an alternative which we did at our Catholic Church here in Kittanning. It wasn't a buffet as the Firehall one would have been, but the food was good nevertheless, just not as much of it. Maybe that was good? Naw! Back home here, I reassembled my 736 which I once again was working on. I think I found the problem with the armature. The wire I used to splice the windings may have been of some metal or alloy that didn't solder properly. The joints looked good, but then somehow went bad after the engine ran for a while. Anyway I re-did the splices with a different wire, and so far so good, at least with the armature. Now I'm checking on the gear meshing. I'm running the engine for periods of time that increase by one minute for each period. So far so good with that also. Back to Mike's visit. We continued our schedule planning, and then watched some train videos before Mike headed home at 9PM.
March Madness has been pretty mad so far. Some stats at random. All 4 #9 seeds won. 3 of 4 #12 seeds won, and the other one lost by a single point. 3 of 4 #10 seeds won. 12 total upsets so far is just short of the tournament record of 15, and the 12 just missed tying the first round record of 13. I was just reminiscing with my neighbor about some memorable tournament moments over the years. Here are a couple of mine. NC State's win over Houston with Derek Wittenberg's AlleyOop "pass" to Lorenzo Charles for the last second winning basket. Derek later admitted it wasn't a pass, but just a missed shot on his part. Then Jim Valvano running around the court looking for someone to hug after that game ended. One more. Danny Ainge dribbling full court through all 5 Notre Dame defenders to score the winning basket. There are so many more. They are why March Madness is my favorite sporting event of the year.
I think that gets me caught up on diary matters now. I'll probably think of something I forgot later. -30-
Fri Mar 22 2019 09:24PM - A busy day today with train work, March Madness, a visit from Mike for a Lenten fish dinner, etc. So I'll postpone writing about it until tomorrow morning and get caught up on some things now. -30-
Thu Mar 21 2019 08:45PM - My battle with the 736 continues. I put a spacer between the brushes and the brush springs this morning and like all the other fixes, it ran great for quite a while then the mesh of the worm gears changed after it heated up. I fooled with the motor shims till I got a good mesh and again the same story. It ran great then slowed down and became intermittent. The gears seemed to still be good, and the brushes seemed OK unless they became very dirty. I haven't checked that yet and don't think I will until tomorrow. It's really getting frustrating. I am going to go ahead and order some other parts for its appearance. I had been waiting till I got it running good and I hope I'm getting close to that goal. We'll see.
My streak QSO again came on 80 for the 7th straight day following those few days when 30 and 20 were open for me in the evening. Tonight it was KA2DDX.
Still haven't gotten to those pictures yet. The old 736 is just taking up too much of my time.
Tomorrow evening, Mike and I are attending our first fish dinner of this Lenten season. That's always a great meal and for a good cause. -30-
Wed Mar 20 2019 08:41PM - The 736 still not running like it should. Sometimes it runs great. Other times it starts up very slowly and roughly. Other times it slows down and even stops. I think it's a brush problem. I tried pressing on the brushes with a toothpick and that got it started, albeit roughly. Then it ran good for a while, at least until I had to head to the shack. I haven't gotten any further with it since then. Tomorrow I'm going to take a good look at the brushes and the brush holder and springs. Maybe try to increase the spring tension to push harder on the brushes. At least I know it's capable of running good now, and also the armature splices seem to be holding now.
I got one regular QSO from KN4ZQ for the streak, then added another from AJ8S for a NAQCC sprint QSO. My noise is still too bad to put in more than a brief token effort in out NAQCC sprints. I still want to try to keep my streak of never having missed one of our sprints going though so until my QRN situation is better, I'll try to get at least one QSO per sprint, if possible.
Happy first day of spring to those who celebrate astronomical spring 20 some days later than meteorological spring. Didn't get to edit those pictures I mentioned today. Maybe tomorrow. -30-
Tue Mar 19 2019 07:48PM - Some more train work today. The 736 started acting up again, running intermittently. I thought maybe there was not enough pressure on the brushes from the old springs. I tried rotating the brushes so the spring went across the slit instead of in it. That gave a little more pressure on the brushes and it seems to work fine again. I also found a replacement for the missing thrust washers and put them on the armature shaft. That kept the armature from moving in and out as the engine was running, and that kept a steady pressure on the brushes too. So we'll see what pops up next with the 65 or so year old engine. Right now though it is running well.
It was a nice day today. Sunny and a little cool, but no wind to speak of so it felt good outside. Oh, I took a picture of my tulips which have sprouted outside, and the peppers and tomatoes coming along nicely inside. However it's almost streak time and I don't have time to edit them now, so look for them tomorrow if I don't get absorbed in trains and/or March Madness and forget.
OK, off to the shack now for a quick (I hope) streak QSO. -30-
Mon Mar 18 2019 06:36PM - As I sit here typing, my Lionel Berkshire 736 is running merrily across the room with a consist of its tender, hopper car, box car, tank car, and caboose. How did that happen?
This afternoon I just stuck it on the track to watch it crawl around the circuit a few times. To my surprise it took off at full speed and ran for about 5 minutes that way, then it did slow down to an intermittent crawl. Aha, might be an intermittent connection in the motor armature. So off to the repair shop, otherwise known as the top of a large pizza box laid on the kitchen table to protect it. I took the loco apart and checked the armature windings with my ohmmeter. Still showed one or two open windings until I jiggled a couple of my previous repairs, then at one point all three windings showed continuity. I examined my solder connections on the splices and one was mechanically connected, but wiggled around at the splice. So I heated up the soldering iron and re-soldered it. The meter showed all three windings good now, So I started putting the armature back in the motor shell and dropped one of the thrust washers on the table. I never could find it, so I put the motor back together without it and took it to the track, where it promptly showed a short. Yes, the washer was stuck to the wheel of the loco. I hate magnetraction wheels at times. So back to the repair shop with my Lionel manual to see exactly how the washer and the thrust bearing fit on the armature shaft. In doing that, I noticed there should be two washers at each bearing, not just one. So sometime years ago, I guess two washers got lost. I'll have to fix that some day, but right now it's running just fine without them. For how long, I don't know. I probably have the right size washers in my junk box, but I was too tired to look hard today. Anyway old 736 is running and running well.
I got my March Madness Excel brackets all made up last night. This morning I noticed Iowa St was playing themselves. I put Iowa St instead of Ohio St so I had to fix that. There are only two first time schools in the tournament this year - Abilene Christian and Gardner-Webb. The other 66 are the usual suspects. I'll see if I can find some interesting stats for tomorrow's diary.
Still about an hour to go for streak time, so I guess I'll watch the 736 for a while. -30-
Sun Mar 17 2019 08:50PM - It's that great time of year again. Not only spring, but March Madness. However if they keep delaying it, it may have to be called April Amazement or some other such moniker. I think, but I'm not sure without checking that March 17 is the latest ever for a Selection Sunday. Anyway it is here and I'm all set to follow it all through the final game in Minneapolis on April 8.
More train work today. I found a couple more rolling stock items in the attic, a boxcar and tanker and cleaned them up, especially the wheels which were a mess. As I said, I don't think I ever cleaned wheels back in the 50s when I was a kid. I also prepared a parts list with part numbers of what I need to get for the Lionel 736 loco. I'll try to get an order in sometime this week.
Poor bands again tonight. Took a while to get an answer to my CQ. Before that I did try Kam TI5/N3KS on 40, but he seemed to have QRT after I tried once. Or Mike would say I scared him away. I did work Ron WB9DKL on 80 in a QRN/QSB filled QSO. -30-
Sat Mar 16 2019 07:45PM - I promised several days ago I'd post a recent picture of Roscoe. Well, here's a before/after picture going to the groomer.
While I"m at it, here's a picture of the Navy Yard Switcher I mentioned yesterday. It's close to full restoration except for one broken coupler that I'm still working on.
And that will do it for this diary entry as it's almost 0000Z and time to go get my streak QSO. -30-
Fri Mar 15 2019 09:06PM - Good bands again this evening, but I couldn't work anyone on 40-20 and had to settle for a QRN/QSB plagued QSO on 80. Thanks to KW4KD in TN for sticking it out with me for a while.
I'm in the midst of working on an old Lionel Navy Yard Switcher engine right now and I want to get back to that, so I'll make this a short entry. -30-
Thu Mar 14 2019 08:50PM - If this keeps up, I may start another DX streak. Naw, not yet anyway. I did work KP4/VE3DZ on 30 for my streak QSO this evening. The high bands were again open, at least through 20 this evening. Still hoping that continues.
Almost made it to 80 today. At least on my AcuRite remote unit. It felt so good to be outside. Too bad the cold returns this weekend.
Just posted a new poll. Hope you'll check it out and cast your vote. I've only been averaging about 30 votes a month lately. I may consider dropping the poll feature if the activity doesn't pick up.
I got my Lionel Repair and Operating Manual today and I've started gathering parts numbers for those parts I need. -30-
Wed Mar 13 2019 08:43PM - Hey, this ham radio stuff is getting to be fun again. The higher bands were open again this evening and I didn't have to fight the noise and QSB on 80 meters as I've had to do most every evening all winter. Tonight it was KB4AZR in Miami on 20 meters for a half hour rag chew. I didn't even have to switch receive antennas for solid copy. I just kept the antenna switch on my 20 meter dipole for both xmt and rcv. I had to fight my hand wanting to go up and switch antennas on rcv. HI I hope that will be the MO from now on at least until next winter and hopefully beyond. It's great.
The weather is great also. Let's see what AcuRite says our high was today. 63 and it may hit 70 tomorrow. Unfortunately back into the 40s for the weekend, but that's still not too bad. I put a second coat of paint on my back steps today. I also took a nice longer walk.
To continue with some more good news. My Lionel manual left the PO in Pittsburgh this afternoon headed here to Kittanning so I should get it early tomorrow. Then I can order some parts for the Lionel 736 and hopefully get it running good again. Tomorrow is also Ol' Station Marketplace day (every Thursday), so I'll be heading there to see what bargains I can find. Maybe the lady (Gloria) will have found those old HO engines I mentioned. She said she would look for them. -30-
Tue Mar 12 2019 08:22PM - How about that, ham radio fans. A different band for each of my last 4 streak QSOs the past four nights - 40, 80, 20, and 30 this evening. It's nice to have a variety of bands to work with. I just hope that continues. Best of all, 80 is the worst band for my local noise and it will be nice not to struggle on that band each night if the current situation holds. Tonight I had a 15 minute QSO with Dick WB4DKF in Tampa, FL on 30 who answered my CQ. I heard a couple good signals on 30 and thought I'd try some CQs and it didn't take long before Dick answered me. He was weak at first but then came up to 579 and pretty much stayed that way the rest of the 15 minutes. Just as I finished typing this, I received an email from Dick with a picture of him and his modest station as he puts it. I also see a picture of a cute dog on a monitor in the background. That reminds me I need to post a picture of Roscoe again. I haven't done so in a while now. He looks great with the grooming he got a week ago.
I found a great train company who mainly handles Lionel parts. The best thing for me is that he accepts regular mail or email orders. And he doesn't accept credit cards or PayPal. Only personal or cashier checks. Not too many companies nowadays do business that way. That's the only way this conservative guy here does business also so we make a perfect pair. And get this, he fulfills orders even before receiving payment. I mailed a check this morning and at the same time, he mailed my order which is a Lionel Repair manual for Postwar Lionels from 1945-1969. According to the USPS, it should be here in two days. Then I can start getting part numbers of those parts I need and order them from this same guy. Who is this? Just check out The Train Tender at http://www.ttender.com/. Tell him John Shannon sent you if you order anything. No, I don't get anything from him for that. I just feel folks who do business like that need some recognition these days. -30-
Mon Mar 11 2019 08:28PM - DX! Heard some and worked some this evening. Don't know if it had anything to do with it, but the sky was still somewhat light when I hit the shack at 0002Z. There apparently is also some DXpedition going on as there were big pileups chasing something on both 30 and 20 meters.
My Lionel 736 is acting up again. I think my armature fix broke down, and I'll probably have to get a new one or a whole new motor. The only other alternative may be to rewind the armature. I will do whatever it takes to keep the 736 running though. It sure was nice watching it for that week or 10 days I had it going.
Another nice weather day although not as warm as yesterday plus a lot windier today which made it seem even less warm. Still it is nice to see all the s#$w gone, hopefully for good until next winter. -30-
Sun Mar 10 2019 08:23PM - I forgot about the WI QSO Party, and that used to be one of my favorites. Time changes things. Anyway the WIQP provided a quick streak QSO a couple minutes after I got in the shack.
It was a beautiful day today after a lot of rain during the night. I took advantage and did some yard clean up work and a little painting on my back steps where they were repaired a week or so ago. I also took a pretty long walk. It was just nice to be outdoors. Oh did I mention my tulips have sprouted? They popped out of the ground a couple days ago. Also the daylillies are sprouting. The whole world is coming alive again after nasty old winter is winding down. It sure is great. -30-
Sat Mar 09 2019 06:32PM - Last night I promised to share (with his permission) an interesting email and picture from Tom W3TLN, so here goes:
If you recall we spoke at the WashFest a couple Sundays ago. I was manning the Breezeshooters table along with my wife and another couple. I mentioned your NAQCC group coming and operating from my deck. I live just off exit 17 (Freeport) route 28. I'll be attending the upcoming Two Rivers Hamfest on April 7th. Maybe we can touch base again.
Your current model train photos and blog comments have jogged my childhood memories. BTW, we are the same age and our childhood hobbies parallel.
Anyway, attached please find a photo, from 1959, of my HO layout. [WOW, 1959 was 60 years ago.] My layout was composed of 2 - 4x8 sheets of Homosote board connected with a 2x4 sheet. I designed and built the entire layout, plaster mountains and all. I was 14 years old. I also had a round house, as seen in the photo, which was rare in HO scale at that time. My father is at the controls in the photo and my uncle is standing behind him.
When I got married in 1965 my train passion switched to N scale. I purchased some N scale gear but family life, education and work obligation quickly got in the way. I continued to purchase N scale train gear over the years up to this year. Although I never set up more than a temporary circle of track.
I was an avid shortwave listener with my Allied Radio Ocean Hopper regenerative receiver kit. Also had a small scratch built transmitter. You can read a little more about me on my QRZ PAGE.
You have my permission to use any or all of this in your daily blog. I very much enjoy your daily blog and I hope it continues for many years to come.
73, Tom ,W3TLN, NAQCC #5990"
It seems I'm finding more and more hams who are also into model railroading. When you think about it, the two have gone together in the past, especially telegraphy and real railroading for many of the early years of the two.
Right now my Berkshire 736 is zooming around my oval track, and the rods are working perfectly. I did some work on the smoke unit today. I took the cover off of it and found the heating element had a broken wire. It's too small to try to fix as I did with the main motor armature, so I'm going to get a conversion kit for it and turn it from pills to liquid for the smoke.
Almost streak time now, so till later. -30-
Fri Mar 08 2019 07:50PM - I spent most of the morning getting all the rods mounted on my Berkshire 736 so that it now looks like this:
Finding those last couple bolts I mentioned yesterday took the most time. Lionel used some special size bolts and I had a hard time matching them from my parts junk box. Finally I enlarged the mounting hole with a tap/die and used bolts I did have among my parts and now it works just great and looks more realistic with all the rods in place. Next up I'd like to fix up the smoke generator or get a replacement one. I haven't found the lever that pumps out the smoke yet although I do have the generator (don't know if it still works yet) and the piston that does the pumping. After that, maybe the e unit, then the whistle. The whistle is in the tender. I looked at it today and the brushes in the motor are missing. Oh, and I need a bulb for the headlight. Unfortunately the headlight 'door' hinge is broken and I can't open it. I'll have to remove the shell to install a bulb when I get one. A lot to do, but I'm really enjoying all the work to restore the locomotive.
Yet another quick QSO this evening. I heard KN4ZQ calling CQ on 80 and made contact immediately to keep the streak highballing along. Oh oh, railroad terminology is creeping into my ham radio talk.
I got a nice email today from diary reader and friend Tom W3TLN. He said it was OK to share it here in the diary. I think I'll do that in tomorrow's entry. He's also interested in trains as you'll read. -30-
Thu Mar 07 2019 08:02PM - I found all the hardware for the driving rods for my Lionel Berkshire 736 today. Well all but a couple little bolts/screws and I'm sure I can find replacements in my huge junkbox of hardware here. Finishing that up is my goal for tomorrow. I was going to do it all today but several distractions came along. Among them the opening of the Ol' Station Marketplace. I just had to see what they got in new while they were closed for the winter. There were a lot of new tools there, but nothing I really needed. I asked the manager to keep an eye out for any model train pieces that she finds and save them for me.
Another fairly quick QSO for the streak when Lester W8BJO answered my 80M CQ at 0010Z. The bands seemed pretty good with some signals on 40, but none on 30 or 20.
The weather continues to slowly improve and get back to normal for March after a very cold start to the month. We got above freezing for the first time in a few days now and we're heading for 60 come Sunday. That will sure feel good even with the accompanying rain. -30-
Wed Mar 06 2019 07:24PM - Another January in March day today. A low of 13 and high of 24 which is actually below normal for January, let alone March. Better things are coming though after we get through the rest of this week. A high in the 60s predicted for Sunday.
I haven't mentioned this in connection with my trains, but here's one reason why I so much want to get the old Lionel Berkshire locomotive running well again. Many were the times that my dad and I would lie on the living room floor in front of a cheery fireplace watching that Berkshire going round and round that oval track. Now I'm watching it again and harking back to those days in my memories. Great times those were, but I lost my dad much too early when he was only 51 and I was 17. The Berkshire is running good still, but it was a bit more hesitant to start a couple times today. I suppose I'll have to look into that again.
A fairly quick QSO this evening as 80 seemed good again. Carl WB0CFF from bitter cold MN answered my CQ after just a couple minutes or so. -30-
Tue Mar 05 2019 06:42PM - Here's a video that I just posted to Microsoft's OneDrive of my old Lionel Berkshire Locomotive # 736:
Apologies for the poor lighting and focus. I'll try to get a better copy sometime and replace this one. Anyway you can get an idea of how it is running now to go along with the info and picture link I provided in last night's diary entry. -30-
Mon Mar 04 2019 06:43PM - I'll type some of this entry before I head to the shack for my streak QSO.
Here's an update on my old 1950s steam locomotive. First of all, I never described it. It's a Lionel Berkshire steam locomotive which of course is a 2-8-4 wheel configuration. It's Lionel # 736 which is supposedly an update of their # 726. No particular railroad, just Lionel. Supposedly it was modeled after a real-life Boston and Albany locomotive. Wait a minute, if you want more info, rather than typing it here. Just check this web site: http://postwarlionel.com/motive-power/steam/berkshire/736-berkshire/
I've now got it running very well without the stopping I mentioned yesterday. How? I changed out the brushes and brush clips from a motor that was in better shape. It still has one tiny quirk though. When I apply power, it sometimes just sits there until I give it very tiny nudge after which it will run without interruption for as long as I let it - up to a full half hour once or twice today.
Unfortunately back in the fifties, it suffered from a young boy's curiousity. This boy was curious about everything and loved to take things apart to see how they worked, and often never put them together again. Also the loco took its normal amount of abuse in the course of its first life. We won't say who that boy was, but as a result the loco is incomplete in a few things. The smoker was removed. I have it here, but it's a pellet type and I don't know if it would still work or not. I might try converting it to a liquid smoker. A couple of the drive rods are missing. I haven't found them yet. The e unit also, but I can do without it running in reverse, at least for now. The headlight bulb needs to be replaced. I don't know if I have one or not. BUT at least it runs just great as of now. As I said before I feel like the Cheyenne Steam Crew who restored the UP 844 and 3985 and are restoring the Big Boy 4014 now. Actually the 844 was never retired from service, but was overhauled pretty much completely a few years ago. And that takes me to 0000Z. I'll go and see what the bands have to offer, then come back and finish this.
The bands were good again this evening and again there were signals on 30 meters. No CQs though and no answers to my CQs there. So I went back to 80 and got an answer from Jim K4WOP after just a few CQs and we had a 28 minute QSO. I've had a lot of long QSOs on 80 lately but interspersed with those that last only a few minutes due to QSB and QRN also. Overall the bands do seem to be improving with the coming of spring although there are still a lot of ups and downs along the way. It's also been interesting that there have not been an overly large number of solar flux days in the 60s this cycle. Mostly they have stayed in the low 70s. Not much difference, but maybe it does have an effect. -30-
Sun Mar 03 2019 07:45PM - My streak QSO was on 30 this evening. W3EEK from PA wintering down near Tampa, FL. We had some kind of polarization QSB at this end. As I do now with my local noise, I use different receiving antennas. Carl's signals seemed to change polarization as he would be good on my 15M vertical for a while, then fade out only to show up strong on my 10M sloping dipole, then the same over to my 20M attic dipole. I guees swings in polarization of the received signal here best explains that.
Still working on my old Lionel steam engine. I think I have it fixed and it runs great for 15-30 minutes or so, then suddenly slows down or just plain stops. I'm thinking now maybe something in the brushes in the motor. I notice one is just a little shorter than the other and also one brush spring is stronger than the other. I have another old Lionel motor here and glancing at its brushes, they seem to be the same as the steam engine motor. I may try switching them out tomorrow and see if that helps. Although the innards of the steam engine have been stripped out such as the headlight, direction switcher, etc., it does run fine when it does run. When I do get it running steady, I'll work on those other things. -30-
Sat Mar 02 2019 08:01PM - Seems like when I have a lot to talk about here in the diary, I don't have the time and vice versa. I'm taking a run to Walmart with my neighbor to pick up a couple things in a few minutes, so I'll do a Reader's Digest version of the diary entry tonight.
Most of the day I finished up work on my old 1950's Lionel Berkshire Steam Locomotive. I repaired the armature windings and got the motor running good after a cleaning and lubricating session. I installed it back in the Loco and got it wired up and running good for the first time in probably 60 years or so. However the gears are worn and I had to shim the motor to make them mesh better and that's not working quite perfectly yet. I'll work more on that tomorrow. I feel like the fellows out in Cheyenne working on restoring Big Boy 4014 to running order. HI.
A great rag chew QSO this evening with Bob KB2BSF. We talked for 44 minutes about the old days of radio - SWL, AM BC DXing, LW DXing and much more. We had a great deal in common about those early days in our radio "careers". I hope we can continue some day. If I can find his email address, I might drop him an email.
Well, got to finish my site updates and get ready to go shopping. -30-
Fri Mar 01 2019 09:00AM -
Unfortunately no one told Mother Nature. We got about 2 inches of s#$w during the night. However the good thing about March spring s@#w is it doesn't overstay its welcome (actually it's NOT welcome, but...).
At least my plants know it's spring as shown here:
Peppers on the left, tomatoes on the right. There are a couple others there also that are too small yet to show up well in the picture.
I've got to run now. Roscoe goes to the vet in about an hour for his annual checkup and shots. Then I have a couple railroad projects to occupy probably a good part of the rest of the day. -30-
Thu Feb 28 2019 08:20PM - Here it is, the end of meteorological winter. All in all, it wasn't that bad a winter. I don't keep track of s@#wfall, but it seems to me that we couldn't have had much more than a foot total all winter. Maybe two feet at the very most. I don't think we had more than 6 inches on the ground at one time. It wasn't all that cold either. A couple below zero days near the end of January was it, and then only a few degrees at most. So I can't really complain all that much although anytime the ground is white or icy, that is not good.
There wasn't as much activity on the bands as last night, and I didn't hear anything on 30 tonight. No DX on 40 like last night. Not much beyond the usual nets on 80. However I did find and work Lou WA3MIX for a 17 minute QSO.
As far as trains go, I continued cleaning up and lubricating my old Lionel trains from the 1950s. I don't think I ever cleaned the wheels back then as they were filthy to say the least. But then I was just a youngster then and either didn't know about such things or just didn't pay attention to them. It's really amazing what a little cleaning and oil will do to reduce the drag on a car and make it run much better. It's actually the difference between an engine stalling out and breezing around the track as UP 844 would do in the real rail world. I really admire that engine and what it has done and is still doing out there. I still love it when it pushed an 11,600 ton freight up a hill near Cheyenne when the diesels pulling the train stalled out. 844 made it look effortless. Any fan of steam has to admire the Union Pacific for what they are doing keeping 844 alive along with the Challenger type engine 3985 and of course the Big Boys. I can't wait till they finish restoring Big Boy 4014 and take it around the country. -30-
Wed Feb 27 2019 10:13PM - Kind of a late evening here. Mike left a little while ago, and then I walked Roscoe and visited with Bruce a bit. So this will be a short diary entry. Hold the applause, please.
I actually worked some DX this evening. I got my regular QSO, then let Mike sit at the rig to see what he could find. After tuning around a while, he came across a strong station on 40. It turned out to be ON4UN. I told him to go ahead and work him, but he wanted me to do the honors. I sat down and got him with a single call after a couple seconds as Mike and I exchanged chairs. I think that was my first DX since October 19, not counting a couple DX stations in contests. Unfortunately he then developed a quick big pileup and Mike was unable to get him after about 15 minutes of trying.
We also had our pizza and did a little train work and watched some train videos. -30-
Tue Feb 26 2019 08:05PM - A quiet calm day today for a change. Although it was cold, there was no wind to speak of and no precipitation of any kind. The high was just 31 and the low 25. Not much going on to talk about either. I got a quick streak QSO this evening from KD8ZM, whose CQ I answered successfully at 0002Z. Signals held strong and steady for a 17 minute QSO with just a little QSB at the end.
Tomorrow is a fourth Wednesday so that means I get my Social Security deposit. More importantly it means a pizza night with Mike. I haven't had a pizza for a while now, probably since our last pizza night. -30-
Mon Feb 25 2019 07:31PM - Well, it's nice to get back to normal again. By that I mean getting the things back out on my porch after taking them in when the high wind warning was in effect. Actually other than a couple minor things, we escaped the wind pretty well. I did have to pick up a lot of small twigs that blew in my yard from the neighborhood. Almost enough to make a new tree with them and all the leaves that blew in my cellar stairwell and one corner of my fence. Nothing big though. I also had some damage to a couple of garden decorations. A wing broke off my yellow bird and blew to heaven knows where. Probably never will find it. Also my little motorized butterfly broke apart, but some super glue took care of that. Oh, and my thermometer shelter was blown around 180 degrees with no damage. And that's about all to speak of.
At least now, no severe weather of any kind predicted for the next 10 days or so, and that will take us into the first week of spring. In all but a couple of Marchs, that means the worst of winter is over here. Won't that be great? Yes sir!!!
My friend Robert NW2Z answered my CQ for the streak this evening. The bands didn't really seem all that good, but he was almost a solid 589 all the way except for one mid-round fade almost to my noise. -30-
Sun Feb 24 2019 07:19PM - A couple of pictures and some words make up tonight's entry.
Top is what I found when I opened up my tomato plants container to see if they needed watered. As you see, one has already sprouted in only about a week. That's pretty fast compared to past records. Maybe because I sealed the container that held the little peat pots and kept them continually moist? Anyway I hope the rest of them sprout as quickly since I got such a late start in planting them. The same hope for the peppers although none of them have spouted yet.
The bottom picture was taken at the South Hills hamfest this morning and shows L-R: Bob WC3O, Bob N3RD G, Tom WB3FAE, John K3WWP, and Mike KC2EGL. We understand that Jon AB3RU and Drew W3FFZ were there also but left before Mike and I arrived. A nice turnout of our NAQCC WPA Chapter members for our first real event of 2019. I had some nice model railroad chats with folks who were there. I also bought a couple little tools that I can use to work on my railroads. Mike and I stayed till around 11:30AM or so, then we left to, yes, go get something to eat before coming back home here. We picked Chili's in the Pittsburgh Mills for that. Back home we worked on our railroads, and also checked the bands where Mike worked some DX in the form of KP2M on 40 meters.
All in all, a very good day as usual. Mike headed home around 6PM or so.
It was a very windy day today and still is actually. We could feel the car being blown around as we drove. The winds are supposed to continue till 7AM or so tomorrow morning. I just hope and pray we don't lose power.
Another QSO party took care of my streak this evening when I worked N4KW in the NC QSO Party a few minutes past 0000Z. -30-
Sat Feb 23 2019 07:39PM - I'm multi-tasking right now. I just got my streak QSO, and now I'm working on a Lionel track connector that seems to be intermittent. While that's going on, I'm watching a train video and doing my laundry. And of course typing this diary entry. WHEW!!
I got the Lionel diesel working today. I removed the one of the two motors that was smoking and it runs good now. I'll try to fix the bad motor later. I also dug out a little Blue switcher and got it going. I'm getting quite a collection of engines now.
OK back to the other tasks now. -30-
Fri Feb 22 2019 07:49PM - I had a bad train day today. I brought down a couple of my old Lionel engines from the 50s and 60s to check them out. The steam one didn't do anything, and when I examined it, the grease in the worm gear was dried out and hard. I started to clean it out, but then I noticed a couple open wires in the armature windings. That would be pretty hard to fix, so I put it aside for now and turned to my Santa Fe diesel. I gave it power and got some smoke from the motor. I gave up on that one after making a wiring diagram. I may try checking all the wiring and maybe just rewiring it all. Future projects.
The bands were pretty poor tonight. Only a few signals heard on 80, but one was KA1FXK calling CQ. I called and he answered for a 27 minute mostly solid QSO although QSB and QRN did make it not easy.
Another nice s#$w melting day today although not as warm as yesterday, 44 vs. 48. Sunday may be in the mid 50s so most s@#w should depart then if not before. -30-
Thu Feb 21 2019 07:53PM - As sloppy as yesterday was, that's how nice today was. Partly sunny with a high of 48. Not bad for just past mid-February. I took a couple of nice walks. Nice if you avoided the mud. HI It is quite muddy in places now, but I don't complain about that at all. It's nice watching the s@#w melt and the water run down the gutters or make mud in the yards.
Today when I wasn't walking, I was working on or playing with my trains again. Oh, and watching train videos on the Internet. Today I visited Siberia, Tibet, and China via the videos. Oh, and also the Pike's Peak cog railway. My, there is some beautiful scenery on the peak. Also great to see all the scenery, cities, and people of the other countries as well.
For my streak tonight, it was Bill W9ZN in Chicago on 80 meters. We've worked a few times before. Like me, he worked in broadcasting. Actually he is still working at age 79 at WGN-TV in Chicago while I retired long ago. -30-
Wed Feb 20 2019 08:12PM - Another of those worrisome days with freezing rain predicted. Not as worrisome as some though as I knew the setup wasn't right for a lot of freezing rain. In fact not really solidly set up for any. Although we did get about 4 inches of s@#w and it's raining now, we never did get any freezing rain, thank goodness. Now they are predicting freezing rain again for Friday night into Saturday.
My friend Robert NW2Z answered my CQ after about 15 minutes and we chatted pretty solidly for almost a half hour. The usual 80 meters QSB was there, but not too bad. -30-
Tue Feb 19 2019 07:53PM - I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion than N gauge model railroading may be too small for 73+ year old eyes and fingers. HI But I'm going to stick with it and also keep in a mixture of HO which is a little easier on the eyes and fingers. Anyway it took me about a half hour plus to change out a coupler on the Conrail engine I bought yesterday. Still it was a lot of fun although it did almost reach the frustrating point. I also finished applying the Bullfrog Snot to my one HO locomotive and it really has great traction now. In fact it's zipping around my 3 foot diamater circle track right now as I am typing. I also took a video of my Conrail engine running around the N gauge circle. I'll post that on OneDrive sometime soon.
Chalk up another QSO cut short on 80 by QSB. After two solid rounds with Bob K9LWA, his signals just faded away into my noise here. At least it was good enough for a streak QSO, but I wish we could have talked longer.
Next Sunday the 24th members of our NAQCC WPA Chapter will be going to the South Hills Hamfest. Just letting you know in case you might be reading this somewhere in reach of Pittsburgh and might want to attend. We've gone a few years now and it's always a nice medium sized hamfest with a lot of good things for sale and good fellowship with fellow hams. Do a Bing search for South Hills Hamfest if you want more info. -30-
Mon Feb 18 2019 07:30PM - I got a quick answer to my first CQ on 80 this evening from Ray W0DQ in Iowa.
That was a follow up to yet another great day with Mike. As he said before leaving this evening though, this was a milestone day. I asked how, and he said it was his first visit here we didn't wind up in my shack at some point. True - this was a model railroad day. Mike arrived early just past 8:30 with a couple boxes of train stuff. I could make this a very long diary if I talked about everything we did with the trains, but I won't. Instead I'll just highlight a couple things from along the way.
First was a trip to the Hobbyspeed.com hobby store in Indiana, PA. We both bought some things there. Among other things, I bought a new N gauge Conrail engine, an exacto hobby knife and a bottle of track cleaner for my friend Ange, and Mike bought some couplers to fix an old caboose of his, a couple passenger cars, a track connector and I think a couple other little things. It's a very nice hobby shop and I said to Mike I wish it was in Kittanning, but then reconsidered because it it were, I'd probably go broke quickly buying from the wonderful train items thay have there.
One of the locomotives my neighbor gave me lost its traction tires, and Mike brought a small jar of a liquid replacement for them. You apply it and let it set up. Other model railroaders will know what I mean. Others may think I am making up the name. It's called Bullfrog Snot (look it up with a Bing search if you have any doubts). I applied it to the wheels and let it set up while we were in Indiana. I tried it out when we got home and the locomotive has much better traction now. I'm going to apply it to a couple other wheels now.
After that I tried out my new N gauge Conrail engine, and to my dismay, suprise, and delight, it ran slowly just like my Yard Boss engine started doing a week or two ago. Aha, I said, must be my controller. So I tried a variety of combinations of other controllers and track connectors of mine and some of Mike's also. Finally it started working at normal speed again with a couple combinations. I'm not really sure what the problem was, but one of my old controllers with my track connector has worked fine since then. So I'll just have to keep an eye on it. I was really happy it was the controller/connector and not my recently repaired Yard Boss engine itself.
I mentioned Lane sent me a surprise for Mike. It was a small silver engine. When we first put it on track, it showed no sign of life, so we put it aside for a while as we did some other things. Later we took it apart, cleaned and lubricated it, and it runs just fine now. There were a lot of little tweaking things we had to do, especially when reassembling it, that took a lot of time and patience that I won't go into.
That's a Reader's Digest version of the day. The full version would be several pages long and I don't feel like typing that much right now as I want to play with my new Conrail engine now. I'll have a couple pictures in tomorrow's diary entry, I hope. -30-
Sun Feb 17 2019 07:50PM - I had an unusual QSO this evening with Jim K2ZF in Clark, NJ. What's unusual about that, you ask. Well, it was on 80 meters, lasted 31 minutes AND there was NO QSB the whole time - on either end. It's been a long time since I've had a QSO like that. Maybe all the activity in the ARRL DX Contest energized the ionosphere somehow. Whatever the reason, it was nice not to have to keep switching rcv antennas during a QSO to try to maintain copy.
Not much more going on today besides working on and playing with my trains. I fixed up a little detail work on my HO Rock Island locomotive as the main bit of railroad work. I also watched a lot of cab view videos. I'm trying to see how many countries I can get via the cab view videos. I made a list today of those I could remember, and have 11 countries in the list. I know I've forgotten a few others also. -30-
Sat Feb 16 2019 07:39PM - To quote or paraphrase the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, "I'm Late! I'm Late." The picture will explain to long time diary readers. For newbies, I'll add a little after the picture.
Yes, today about a month and a half late, I'm starting my Siberian Tomato and Pepper seeds. I had just totally forgotten about it until my friend Ange visited today and talked a bit about gardening. I guess I can blame it on my obsession with trains that started late last year. Oh well, maybe they'll take off quickly this year and I'll still get a yield in June or so. We'll see.
Another ARRL DX QSO was my streak QSO for this evening. KP2M on 40 meters heard me. He usually always does no matter the conditions. There wasn't a whole lot more to be heard, but then I only checked 20 briefly then came to 40.
Our preview of spring yesterday didn't last long. We barely got above freezing at 33 degrees today and with a breeze, it felt even colder. But at least no s@#w, although we may get some tomorrow. -30-
Fri Feb 15 2019 07:48PM - For the first time since November 28, 2018, my signals left the boundaries of the continental USA and were heard and answered by someone. That someone tonight being HQ9X on 20 meters in the ARRL DX Contest. In the half hour before that however, I must have sent my call 50-60 times to several different stations without so much as a ? in response. Actually more so than not being heard was losing out to the competition. Not a single one of the times I called did the station I called not answer someone else. Every single time I was simply beat out. So I can't really say that my QRP wasn't working. It was just that someone else was stronger than I was. I think without that competition, I could do well in the contest if I felt like hanging in there. Perhaps I will try some during the day tomorrow, but don't hold me to that.
Today was kind of a preview of spring. Not so much that it was so warm, but because all the ground was bare and a hint of the smell of spring was in the air. It will be so nice when every day is similar.
I'm looking forward to Presidents Day on Monday when we honor three of our greatest Presidents, Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan. Also because Mike will be visiting that day. We have a model railroading day planned. Of course I or Mike will write it up in my diary for that day and perhaps add some pictures as well. There's a surprise waiting here for Mike. He probably will read this entry so I won't say any more about that now. -30-
Thu Feb 14 2019 08:40PM - Is that a glimmer of light I see at the end of the tunnel? I'm not sure but I did hear some signals on 30 meters this evening. One in a rag chew style of QSO whom I couldn't ID beyond he sounded like a WA6 call. A couple others chasing some DX station I couldn't even hear. There were also a couple weak signals on 40. However I had to go back to old reliable 80 to get my QSO from AA1LL in NH.
Looking back, this winter has really not been all that bad (so far). We've had very little s@#w and only a couple days zero or below. There have been a lot of days when the ground was green/brown instead of ugly slippery white. And we've only got a couple weeks until meteorological spring. Of course the first month of spring can act and has acted like winter. Let's hope it doesn't do so this year.
I'm still learning about railroading. I tore a little deeper into a couple of my engines today and cleaned and lubricated a little further. I also switched out the Foodland body on one engine chassis and replaced it with a Santa Fe one. I'm very glad I'm getting back into the hobby and enjoying it tremendously so far. Still awaiting arrival of the Santa Fe Empire Builder N gauge set though. I got a little excited when I saw the big brown truck (UPS) on my street today, but it wasn't my train arriving, but something for another house. -30-
Wed Feb 13 2019 08:51AM - Ken WA8REI and I had our first contact over 52 years ago on August 25, 1966 and it set the tone for many later non-contest contacts since it was 42 minutes long. I noticed in his obituary which I posted yesterday, he was about 2 years younger than me, so our first QSO took place when I was about 21 and he was 19. Ken loved to rag chew and could talk on many different subjects. Over the years, we had 78 contacts. Of them, 21 were in contests, and the rest enjoyable rag chews. Usually our rag chews were at somewhat higher speeds than normal, perhaps in the 20-25 WPM range. So we did exchange a lot of info, not just a couple items at much slower speeds. A couple of contacts come to mind. We made it a point to have a contact 40 years after our first QSO. So on August 25, 2006 at 0008Z on 3561 we did just that. We chatted about various things, among them how things have changed in that time span. Let's jump ahead 10 years now. On August 25, 2016 for the 50th anniversary we went a step further and made it at the exact date, time and band. So we contacted each other at 1631Z on August 25, 2016 on 7030 and chatted for over a half hour. The only difference was the frequency. It was around 7020 in 1966. I didn't log exact frequencies then, but only within a couple kHz or so with the old analog dials. This time it was 7030. We each sent the other a special commemorative QSL card. I don't have that handy at the moment, but here is an image of the QSLs we sent each other back in 1966 that I originally posted on Microsoft's MySpace (now OneDrive):
I have other images also, and when I find them, I'll post them here in the diary.
Another memorable, in a different way, QSO was the time when Ken answered my CQ, but his CW was not like the crisp clean CW he always sent. It hit me hard when we started the QSO and he told me that he had suffered a stroke recently and was having difficulty sending.
There are many other memories. Unfortunately Ken's plans to stop by here for an eyeball QSO never materialized for one reason or other. I know that many others have had eyeball QSOs with Ken and have more interesting stories to tell, so I'll yield the floor to them wherever their stories may be posted.
I'll close again as I did yesterday. Rest in peace, my very good friend. -30-
Tue Feb 12 2019 08:07PM - I had planned on talking about some other things tonight until I got this sad email from Larry W2LJ.
After a bit of introductory info I won't repeat here, the email goes like this:
Kenneth A. Louks (WA8REI) of Freeland, Michigan passed away February 10, 2019 at the age of 71.
Ken was a life-long resident of the Saginaw area. After graduating from Buena Vista High School in 1965, he entered Western Michigan University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Ken served in the US Army from 1970-72 and was stationed in Stuttgart, West Germany where he was assistant to the Chaplain. Upon his honorable discharge, he was employed by the US Postal Service from 1972 to 2002, reaching the level of Mail Processing Manager at the Saginaw USPS facility.
Ken had a strong Christian faith and was past member of Sheridan Avenue United Methodist Church, Auburn UMC, and presently was a member of Hopevale Church. He enjoyed the Christian fellowship of all members at these houses of worship.
Ken was a gifted keyboardist from his youth and throughout his life. Ken was organist at Auburn UMC and part-time organist at Sheridan Avenue and Swan Valley UMC over the years. Ken also taught piano from his home. Even after a stroke at age 60 rendered his left hand paralyzed, Ken still played his electronic keyboard, recording and sharing his music, which were often arrangements of favorite hymns. Ken also played the dulcimer.
Ken loved his Lord and his country and was proud of his service in the Army. He enjoyed traveling our scenic country, either in his RV or Tahoe, often stopping at the homes of relatives or his ham radio buddies. He loved nature, and loved visiting relatives whether they were in Saginaw, Mayville or Florida.
Ken’s favorite hobby was amateur radio. Licensed in 1965 as WA8REI, he was very active on the air until his death. Ken loved to operate his radio, using Morse code, from wilderness areas as well as from his home. He made loyal friends on the air all over the world.
Ken was predeceased by his parents, Ferris and Donna Louks. He is survived by his brothers David (Kathryn) Louks, Paul (Vicky) Louks, a dear aunt G. Elaine Fox, and many treasured nieces, nephews and cousins.
Honoring Ken’s wishes, there will be no formal funeral service. His wish was for his friends and relatives to remember him in their hearts and give all thanks and praise to God for our time of grace. Also per Ken’s wishes, he will be cremated, and his remains interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan at a later date. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider Hopevale Church of Saginaw
In tomorrow's diary entry, I'll have some personal memories of Ken. Right now I'm in shock since I last worked him, well just one month ago today in fact. It wasn't a long QSO because of the usual QSB and QRN, but he was telling me of some health problems which he seemed to be conquering. I guess they won out though. Rest in peace, my very good friend. -30-
Mon Feb 11 2019 07:41PM - Maybe complaining about not having many good rag chews because of QSB had some effect. Tonight Dick WB3AVF and I had a 30 minute QSO with 95% or more solid copy with signals both ways S9+ quite a bit of the time.
After getting some s#$w last night - an inch or so - it turned out just mostly cloudy or rainy today. No freezing rain. It looks to be the same tomorrow and early Wednesday also. At least in this part of the state. I can't speak for the rest of the state. It doesn't look all that good.
I was ambitious this morning and shoveled the s#$w from my and my neighbors' walks. It was above freezing and the s@#w just glided off the walks.
I also took care of my State and Federal Income Taxes today. That has to be the earliest in the year I've done that since I don't know when. I usually procrastinate on those tax matters. It feels good to have them done now. -30-
Sun Feb 10 2019 08:07PM - Poor conditions again tonight and a QSO that started out pretty good before QSB and my local noise took over. We did at least get in a couple rounds first. That is better than some of the QSOs of late. I sure miss the good long solid rag chews, not to mention the DX. The space weather forecast seems to indicate the solar minimum will occur this year and then things will start to pick up again. I sure hope that is right.
Until that happens, I have my railroads to keep me occupied. Thanks to those of you who are emailing comments on the railroads. I try to answer all personally, but it may take a few days to get to them. Lane who sent me the shifter enjoyed the video of it running around the circular track with a good sized consist that I posted via last night's diary entry. Today I worked on cleaning and lubricating my N gauge rolling stock among other things like painting parts of the layout board to make it all a uniform green color for now.
We've got some freezing rain precidted during the next couple days. Looks like just a slight coating as of now, but if we do get more, and you don't see a diary entry, then you'll know we got enough to knock out power. Sure hope that doesn't happen. If it does, the first thing I'll say is I sure wish I'd gotten that emergency generator I've been thinking of getting the past several years now. Also if it does, I definitely will get one sometime this year. -30-
Sat Feb 09 2019 01:39PM - I think I learned a lot about videos in general as well as presenting them on a web site, thanks to Microsoft's OneDrive. So with that said, I present via here (I hope) the video of my train I made a couple days ago. My actual video cinematography needs work yet. I need to work on lighting, camera angles, focusing, sound, among other little things. The video should show up in a new browser window. I'd suggest muting the sound as it's only noise and quite loud. If it doesn't show up, or you have any other problems with it, let me know via email.
Took me about a couple hours to figure out why it would play some places and not others. The basic problem was the original AVI from my camera did not have the correct frame rate nor index points embedded in it. I got that info from the free video editor Prism when I tried converting it to a WMV file. It had a place in its options to set a size and frame rate in the converted file. By golly, that worked just fine then. -30-
Fri Feb 08 2019 10:51AM - I didn't have any luck with the video I mentioned yesterday, so in lieu of that here are a couple still pictures of my trains.
The top picture shows my N gauge Yard Boss engine pulling a consist of 5 passenger cars I got from the Ol' Station Marketplace last year. Other various N gauge rolling stock is in the middle of the track circle.
Below that is my HO Pennsy shifter as mentioned in yesterday's diary entry pulling the consist listed there. A little more about the dummy engine at the rear. It's an old Santa Fe engine stripped down to the chassis and shell after I removed the motor and wiring pending repair of same. It's very light now and gives the illusion of actually being a pushing engine while it is just coupled and being pulled along by the main engine.
Winter is back from vacation today. It's now 30 degrees with strong winds to make it feel much colder than that, probably the wind chill is in the teens or maybe even single digits. A good day to stay inside and play with trains or maybe do my income taxes. -30-
Thu Feb 07 2019 07:48PM - 80 meters was back to being good tonight with a lot of strong signals. It only took a couple CQs to get a QSO from Tom NJ8D in MI.
I did some more cleaning and lubricating of my HO rolling stock today, and it made a difference. When I first got the Pennsy shifter from Lane, it could barely make it around my 3' circle track. After a little work, I got it to running circles quickly and steadily. A little more tweaking, and it could pull s couple cars easily. But after today, I had a consist of 3 hopper cars, 2 boxcars, 2 tank cars, a caboose, and a dummy pusher engine all being towed along easily by my Rock Island locomotive. Then just for fun I thought I'd see if the shifter could handle that. No problem at all. I'll try to post a video in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Wed Feb 06 2019 07:45PM - Compared to a normal February day, today wasn't bad with rain and a high in the upper 40s, but compared to the last couple days, it felt chilly and damp once again. Tomorrow is supposed to be back up again, maybe into the 60s and dry most of the day.
The bands were fair to middlin' tonight. Not as good as the last couple evenings, but not as bad as many evenings of late. I worked Bob N9HAL on 80 for a 14 minute QSO with almost solid copy all the way.
I'm continuing to (re)learn a lot about my HO and N trains. Things like wheel and track cleaning, how many cars an engine can pull without struggling, what effect grade has on perfomance and the like. By the time I get around to actually going beyond my circle track and designing a real layout I should be pretty proficient with the engines and rolling stock aspect of the hobby along with the track as well. I think the learning aspect of any hobby is not only the most important thing, but a lot of fun also. All my life I enjoyed learning things about everything. -30-
Tue Feb 05 2019 07:33PM - The bands (80) were good this evening with lots of good peaks on the PX3. It only took a couple minutes to have my CQs answered by Dick WB3AVF. We had about a 16 minute QSO with solid copy both ways all the way. Unusual for 80 meters lately. Hope it continues.
Not a lot going on today except for working on/playing with my trains and watching several model railroad videos trying to learn more about the hobby. -30-
Mon Feb 04 2019 05:46PM - I don't really expect anything exciting to happen on the bands this evening, so I thought I'd write my diary entry now. I heard a couple great quotes in the course of the day today. I'll share them after some weather info. It was April in early February today. A great day for those of us who love to see the ugly s@#w disappearing quickly, and that it did although some patches still survive where it was piled up from shoveling or covered with ice. I see a high of 66 on my AcuRite remote thermometer and with no wind it did indeed feel like that. I'm not going to check right now but that may be a record high for the date in my 60 years of personal weather data here.
When my neighbor is at work, he keeps something on the TV/Internet as some background noise for Roscoe. There are some shows that play consecutive episodes on Microsoft's Bing search engine and Charlie Chan is one of them. When I went over to take Roscoe out, Charlie just uttered this great quote, "Man who sit on tack better off." It took a second for it to sink in, then I burst out laughing at the absurdity yet truth of the statement.
I've been watching a lot of train videos lately. Many of them deal with a couple of my favorite locomotives, real powerhouses in the Union Pacific collection of powerful steam engines, the Big Boy, one of which is being restored to be active again. Also another one that was actually never retired and is still active doing excursions and other activities for the UP. It's a 4-8-4 number 844. Someday I'm going to have a Lionel or HO version of both 844 and the Big Boy. I really enjoyed one video clip in particular of the 844. When out running one day, she comes along a stalled 11,600 ton diesel freight and offers to help out. She hooks up to the rear and easily pushes the train up to the next summit a few miles away. That says a lot about the power of steam engines. Nowadays you need 2, 3, 4 up to 15 that I saw one time, diesel engines to run a train that a steam engine could do by itself. Anyway, I saw this great quote someone made in the comments of one of the 844 videos, "the mighty 844 doesn't actually go anywhere. when it spins the wheels, it rotates the earth underneath it." Isn't that a great statement? HI.
Congrats to the Pats. Hey, I'm rhyming again. The Pats now have 6 Super Bowl victories and are tied for first place in that stat. However both tied teams are still far behing the mighty Green Bay Packers for the most NFL Championships combined in the pre-Super Bowl and Super Bowl eras. Here's my list of the Packers and others who have more than 6 championships overall. Numbers are pre-Super Bowl, Super Bowl, and total.
Packers 9 - 3 - 12
Bears 8 - 1 - 9
Giants 4 - 4 - 8
So if anyone tells you the Pats and the Steelers are tied for the most NFL championships, they are wrong. Remember the NFL started 99 years ago in 1920, not in the mid-1960s. That has always irked me and I like to tell the correct story now and then. -30-
Sun Feb 03 2019 07:47PM - Everybody must be watching the Super Bowl. The bands are really dead this evening. Or maybe conditions are just that poor. I decided to just QRT and do my laundry instead. Maybe I'll check again after the Super Bowl is over. Or maybe just wait till tomorrow morning or afternoon.
Otherwise not much to talk about except the beautiful weather. We made it to the mid 50s today and lost a lot of the ugly s@#w as a result. Hopefully it will all be gone in a couple more days. It was nice to walk Roscoe without a heavy coat for either of us. -30-
Sat Feb 02 2019 07:08PM - Today Phil put himself in a good light. Now let's just hope he's right. You didn't know I was a poet, did you? Anyway the area is filled with anticipation since Phil didn't see his shadow today and that means (well...) winter is coming to a premature end. That is true for the next week for sure as daily temperatures are expected to be in the 40s and even the 50s. We started today just barely cracking the 40 mark briefly this afternoon. Let me tell you, it sure felt good. Also it was great seeing white changing to green in the yards. Keep it up!!!!
The bands (80) seemed good this evening. I saw a lot of nice peaks on the PX3, but the first one I checked out was W1JXN in the Vermont QSO party. I worked him at 0002, then QRT. I should have checked the bands some more, but I didn't feel like it.
My neighbor was away for the day, so I spent a little more time with Roscoe than usual. As soon as I finish updating my site, I'm going over to check on him once again if my neighbor isn't home before then. -30-
Fri Feb 01 2019 07:26PM - Deja vu all over again as Yogi Berra used to say. A bit different tonight though. A couple nights ago, I started a QSO with Ricke AJ8V, but QSB ended it before we exchanged enough info to count it as a QSO. Tonight at least we got past a solid first round before QSB intervened in the second round. I can't recall when 80 meters has had so much QSB for so long and so deep. However it's doing it now and signals can go from S9 to nil at the drop of a hat. Anyway tonight the QSO counted for the streak at least.
Today is the beginning of a nice warm up which should peak in the 50s early next week. It got to the low 20s today for the first time in a couple days now. Many of you email saying you find my weather comments interesting. I put the January figures in the computer this morning. Overall January was just slightly above normal. The temperature was 1.9 degrees above and the precipitation .04 inches above normal. HDD 57 above the norm. No monthly records were set or tied other than the usual ones like number of 90+ degree days at 0 as is every January. Very few daily records set or tied. Only the following:
Low -4 on the 31st.
Mean 8 on the 30th.
Least daily range 5 on the 2nd (tie) and 4 on the 10th (tie).
That's it. So a pretty normal January overall. Wonder what February will bring now. I guess Phil (or whoever the groundhog is where you live) will tell us tomorrow morning. -30-
Thu Jan 31 2019 04:24PM - It was an unusual weather night last night. After the temperature fell during the day and reached -2 in the early evening, it stayed there and never moved up nor down until the sun rose about 8:15 this morning. I don't graph the temperature, but when I checked the low and high this morning, both were -2 indicating the temperature never changed during the night. I don't recall that happening too many times at all during the almost 60 years I've been keeping my weather records. It was supposed to get down to -8 overnight, but it never made it for whatever reason. The sky was clear, the winds died down, and with a s@#w cover, that's a recipe for a rapid temperature drop. Possibly that -2 was the dewpoint as many times the overnight low can be predicted from the dewpoint earlier in the evening or day. I don't know. I just found it interesting.
How clear was it? Very clear which gave me a beautiful view of Venus, the Moon, and Jupiter around 6 o'clock this morning as shown here (L-R). I was still half asleep when I took the picture and it is a little out of focus, but all three objects show up clearly.
A couple days ago I went looking for and found some old railroad magazines I knew I had up in the attic. A couple I forgot I had including "Complete Layout Plans" for all model train sets, and "N Scale Primer" a beginner's guide to N scale model railroading. Those should be a big help as I slowly get more into model railroading and start building some layouts beyond the simple loops and ovals I have now. The layout plans magazine has some 140 layouts pictured along with a list of track sections for many of them.
It's near sunset as I write this and I'm just looking out the window seeing a very bright day - a beautiful day if it wasn't for the s@#w. Even the cold temperatures wouldn't be that bad without the ugly s@#w and ice around. It's 14 right now and supposed to head to zero tonight if it doesn't get hung up like it did last night. -30-
Wed Jan 30 2019 07:25PM - This is ridiculous. It's now -1 degrees as I type and my new furnace is struggling to keep it warm inside here, but it still feels chilly so I'm not going to make this a long entry. Not much going on anyway besides trying to keep warm. I only went outside to walk Roscoe, and those were VERY brief walks to keep him from getting cold. The bands were up and down tonight. Had a 2X 599 QSO going and 80 changed so quick we never finished the first round. I didn't count the QSO and got another one which was just about as rough but at least we exchanged enough info to make this one legitimate for sure. -30-
Tue Jan 29 2019 07:37PM - Conditions a little better than last night, but not much. I did get an 'official' QSO for the streak from KB0FJU in IL, but QSB ended it before we could exchange more than the minimum info. The QSB was bad both ends too.
Not much going on today. Just waiting around to get through the next two or three frigid days before a nice predicted warm up for a few days starting on Saturday. That will be nice. -30-
Mon Jan 28 2019 07:40PM - I guess the bands didn't like me saying how good they were the past few nights, and went back to being horrible tonight. I did manage to work Wayne WA9VEE on 80, but it was a rough and short QSO with the QSB and my local noise. It does extend the streak another day though.
Otherwise today, I worked a little with my Yard Boss train set. I switched out some couplers on some older N gauge stock I had so it would be compatible with the Yard Boss set. Then I just ran the engine quite a bit for its break-in period. I used an older controller and thought its voltage/current was a bit high so I put a couple resistors between it and the track, and I like it better now and feel more secure that I'm not going to burn up the engine.
I also got caught up on logging my eQSLs received over almost the past two months now. Let me see how many QSOs I have verified in eQSL and LotW now. OK. eQSLs 13,380 - LotW 22,050. I didn't think there was that big a difference, but my Excel log doesn't lie as far as I know. Let's compare that with regular QSL cards. 6,463 of them. I thought that would be higher. Oh, wait a minute, at one time for quite a while I didn't log date received for cards. Let me try another way. That looks more like it - 9,692 counting the column I have for a "Y" when a QSO is verified via a card. -30-
Sun Jan 27 2019 07:27PM - I did some catching up on logging my LotW verifications today and found among a lot of others, a verie from Algeria which is an all-time new card/LotW country. Thanks to 7X3WPL whom I worked on both 20 and 15 a few years ago. The last time I updated my LotW veries was way back on November 30 last year so there were quite a few to go through. In fact I'm actually not quite finished yet. Then I'll have to do my eQSLs next.
Of course I also worked/played with my trains today. I hooked up my Yard Boss set and tried out the repaired engine from Bachmann. It works fine. So I now have three railroads set up - my HO, N gauge, and train in a tin. That comprises five working engines and maybe a couple dozen pieces of rolling stock.
The next several days will be good ones to play trains and ham radio. The middle of the week will have about 3 straight days it doesn't get above +10 degrees. Fortunately not much s#$w to go with it. At least as predicted now. This has been a rough winter for weather forecasting by all the services. Perhaps Penn State is the most accurate.
Another quick streak QSO tonight. It seems to me that conditions are improving slowly overall. Maybe what I said last night about conditions is true. Tonight it was Bob N9HAL. We go back quite a ways. Let's see. This is our 18th QSO going back to November of 2003.
OK, I'm doing my laundry now, and also going to work on my trains some more. -30-
Sat Jan 26 2019 07:08PM - I just added the SF number for today to my propagation page. It was 77. I wonder when the last time it was so high. Let's see if there is one in my table. Nope, I had to go back to my archives to find June 23, 2018 when it was also 77. Interesting, and there have been a lot of days in the 70s lately. 42 days since December 5 out of 53 total days. Plus if you look at the graph on my propagation page, You'll see an upturn in the SF starting within a couple months. Does all that mean we're at the minimum and things will start getting better soon? I sure hope so.
Meanwhile I used the CQ 160M contest for my streak QSO again tonight at 0001Z when I worked NA8V in MI.
When I took Roscoe out for a walk earlier today and came back over home, I saw two boxes on the chair on my porch. I don't know if I missed them when I went out to get Roscoe or they came when I was in "Roscoe's" house. I figured they had to be two of the three railroad related items I was waiting on. One box was small and I figured it was the repaired engine from Bachmann. Right. The other was pretty big and I figured it might be the Empire Builder N gauge set. I never did try to figure out the return address among all the writing and labels on the box. I just opened it and my percentage dropped to 50 since it was the locomotive that Lane sent me surrounded by at least a couple dozen crumpled up newspapers which is why the box was so big.
I put the repaired engine aside for later and set up the Pennsy switcher. At first it was very sluggish, but I got it going very slowly after some pushing. Something was not right so I examined it and there was a lot of crud on the wheels especially the power pickup wheels. It was so bad I had to use sandpaper and alcohol to get them shiny again. Now it runs much better, but I still want to tear it down for a good cleaning and lubrication. I want to make it clear the condition was no fault at all of Lane. I found out he saw the engine on Ebay and ordered it and had it sent directly to me. So he never saw it "in person". To close now, here's a picture of the engine on my track with one of the neighbor's cabooses attached.
Fri Jan 25 2019 07:29PM - Of course a quick 160 meters QSO in the CQ 160M contest took care of the streak this evening. In fact, I made 2 QSOs as I wasn't 100% sure the first ham I worked had my call right. It doesn't hurt to always be sure.
I guess tomorrow evening will be the same with the contest still going on.
Not a lot going on today to talk about. It was a decent weather day with some sunshine and temperatures in the 20s. We did have a bit of s@#w during the night, but not enough to cause any problems, other than scarring the landscape ugly white.
A lot of time spent with my trains. I'm anxiously awaiting 3 new trains. First the Pennsy shifter I've talked about. Second the return of the engine for the set Mike got me for Christmas. Oh, the engine in it quit so being in warranty, I just sent it back to Bachmann. Third the Santa Fe Empire Builder set I ordered in mid-December and is now awaiting the supplier I ordered it from to receive new stock from their supplier. Then I have to decide how I'm going to set up and manage all my railroads. I'll soon be a big railroad magnate. HI -30-
Thu Jan 24 2019 07:48PM - I said I was going to talk some more about the folks who responded to my train equipment query. First of all, Jim Miller who has been following my diary entries about my train stuff and enjoying it, said that he has some train equipment but it is in a storage unit at the moment while he is looking to move. I told him I'd be interested when he moves and gets the stuff out of storage to let me know if he finds anything he wants to part with.
Lane N8AFT is sending me an HO Pennsylvania switching locomotive. I'm looking forward to receiving that and thanked Lane profusely. We got into a discussion about trains and he made the statement that the engine he is sending may turn me into a fan of steam. I responded with the following email which he granted permission to use.
"Hi Lane, Actually I think steam is the only real railroading and always have. I loved watching the steam go by on the tracks literally a stones throw from my house on the Pennsy line as a youngster in the 50s. Steam locos have a living aura about them. It’s like watching some being with a soul instead of just a machine like the diesels. I do have some steam here. Old American Flyers and Lionels up in the attic, and a couple of toy steam engines, one of which is running over there across the room as I type. It’s called a train in a tin and is just a little smaller than N gauge. That third rail of Lionel never did appeal to me. I liked the American Flyer better. A little later but still in my teens I collected some HO rolling stock and track, but never did get a loco before college and life took over. Then a couple years ago, I got a toy train set at a hamfest, and my interest kind of re-blossomed again. I got some N gauge stuff at a local “junk” store, and more recently a neighbor gave me my first HO engine, followed by two more from another neighbor, and on it went to the point where I spend more time on trains and less on ham radio. Maybe a good thing at least until sunspots return. Think I’ll use some of the above info in my diary entry later today if you don’t mind. Many thanks again."
Lane has worked on the railroads as a loco mechanic/electrician for Conrail, Norfolk Southern, and now CSX, so he knows of what he speaks about railroads. Unfortunately in a way, he is younger than I am and was just a baby when the steam era came to an end in the late 50s and very early 60s (Norfolk and Western was the last main line railroad to use steam regularly, not terminating it until mid-1960).
Ham radio? Yep, I'm still at it. My streak QSO took a while to get this evening although the bands were good with signals even on 40 and 30. I had to use reliable old 80 to get my QSO though when Skip K5FC in TN finally answered my CQ after about a half hour. -30-
Wed Jan 23 2019 10:21PM - I was going to write a bit more about the folks who responded to my query about railroad equipment, but Mike visited this evening and we had a long and good time together and now after he left and I took care of Roscoe, etc. it's kind of late and I'm tired, so I'll carry my thoughts over to tomorrow's entry.
I did get an easy streak QSO this evening with Vic N8OO. I've worked Vic in several contests, but I think this is our first non-contest QSO.
OK, till tomorrow, good night and 73. -30-
Tue Jan 22 2019 07:47PM - A fairly quick streak QSO just short of a 30 minute rag chew with Tom NJ8D on 80 meters. A little later tonight is our NAQCC 160M sprint. I'll try to get my normal, of late, one QSO although my local noise isn't quite as bad on 160 so if conditions are good maybe I'll hang around for a few more.
We had another weather worry with freezing rain predicted for overnight tonight, but now it's been cancelled and we'll just get regular rain starting tomorrow morning with temperatures in the mid 40s later in the day. Now that's the kind of weather I like for January.
I spent a good part of today with my trains again. I cleaned the wheels thoroughly on all my rolling stock and did a little more lubrication with the oil I got yesterday. Oh, thanks very much to the two of you who responded to my request for any HO gear you don't need. I'll have more to say about that in a few days, but for now, hearty thanks for your kindness. -30-
Mon Jan 21 2019 08:02PM - As usual, a good day with Mike visiting. It was mostly a model railroad visit although we did check the bands in late afternoon. I haven't checked at that time of day hardly at all lately. It was interesting to hear activity on 30 and 20 meters, some of it DX. We didn't work anything, but it was interesting listening.
The main part of our visit was visiting and checking out a hobby shop in Indiana, PA to see what they had in the way of model railroad gear. They had just moved into a new store a few weeks ago, and were still getting set up in the new location. Still the equipment they did have on display so far was impressive. A lot of the gear was Lionel O gauge, but they also had other gauges as well like HO and N. Not only trains, but track, accessories, tools, parts, etc. I bought a maintenance kit consisting of oil, grease, and track cleaner, and also a pair of locking tweezers which will come in handy helping my old fingers working with some very small parts.
We drooled over a lot of the beautiful locomotives and rolling stock they had, especially over a big boy locomotive they had set up to run, and did run it for us. Just like the real big boy, it was huge in G gauge. As Mike would say and maybe did, "OH MY GOODNESS". The salesperson said it weighed something like 50 pounds if I heard right. That could be, because it was huge as I already said. WOW! I want one! HI
It didn't take too long to get my streak QSO. After Mike and I watched some railroad videos, he had to head home since tomorrow is another working day for him. I went over to check on Roscoe who was doing fine in the cold, only taking very quick trips outdoors. After killing some time, I headed to the shack and checked to see if 30 and 20 might still be open. Of course, they weren't at 0000Z, and 40 wasn't much better. There were a few signals on 80, but not very strong like the past few evenings. I found K4AOA whom I've worked a few times before and gave him a call. He copied me and we chatted briefly but QSB and QRN made it rough so we said 73, and I QRT.
Oh, what would a Mike visit be without food? We ate in Indiana at a Ruby Tuesday, a place I had never eaten at before. I had a HUGE large shrimp platter with hushpuppies, coleslaw, and onion rings. I think the shrimp were the largest I've ever seen, let alone eaten. There were a half dozen of them. I thought I'd never finish the meal, but I did. Mike got a Shepherds Pie. -30-
Sun Jan 20 2019 07:41PM - Our luck held last night. It continued mostly rain until about 3AM or so, then turned over to s#@w and gave us about 2 inches at most. Still bad, but way short of what was originally predicted which was as much as 15 inches. Now we have to endure a cold night, cold day, and cold night. 0 - 15 - 0 approximately.
One of the many things that make ham radio a fascinating hobby is the uncertainty that mixes in now and then. This evening, I first checked 40 meters and saw a few good signals there, so decided I'd go to 20. Besides my usual strong birdie around 14016, I saw a strong peak up around 14037 and checked it out. It was KE4COH calling CQ. I started to call and noticed my SWR was high so I hit the autotuner and continued my call. He came back to me with a 229 RST. In the middle of my first round I glanced at my antenna switch and saw, despite the 1:1 SWR, I was on the wrong antenna. After that round, I switched to my 20 meters dipole. Now I was 559 in SC and Bryan was 599. I explained it was so unusual hearing 20 open in the evening I had been on the wrong antenna. We had a nice 15 minute chat once things got organized.
I guess we're still going to the hobby shop tomorrow to check out some railroad stuff. At least I haven't heard anything to the contrary about Mike. I did some work on one of my locomotives today. After tearing the 'pancake' motor apart to see why it siezed up, I noticed one problem was a couple broken teeth on one of the gears. I wonder if perhaps any of you also interested in model railroading might have an HO sized pancake motor in your junk box you'd be willing to part with. It doesn't even have to work as long as the gears are good otherwise. Just a stab in the dark. -30-
Sat Jan 19 2019 07:35PM - So far, we've lucked out on the big winter storm. I hope saying that doesn't jinx us now. Actually we haven't had any s@#w to speak of so far. Just a few flurries and some rain. The temperature has been in the mid-upper 30s just about all day. I'm not sure what overnight will bring. The latest prediction is for rain changing over to snow around 4 AM with maybe 2-4 inches. We'll just have to wait and see.
The bands were again good this evening. I tried to get an answer to my CQ, but didn't and finally just worked N8UM on 40 in the HA contest for my streak QSO.
Still looking forward to Mike's visit on Monday if the weather doesn't mess things up. Mike said it's not like were going out to set up portable in the park so the fact it is supposed to be only in the low to mid teens shouldn't matter. -30-
Fri Jan 18 2019 07:43PM - 80 was pretty much the same as last night with a lot of good signals. I got an answer to my very first CQ from Pip WB4FDT. Pip and I go back quite a ways on the bands and it was nice to chat again after several months now.
A lot of my day was spent working on or playing with my HO trains. I was comparing ham radio and model railroading several entries ago. I realized another difference today. Trains require a lot more maintenance. They take lubricating, wheel cleaning, track cleaning, among other little things. With ham radio, I just turn on the KX3 and make QSOs. Maybe run a feather duster by it now and then, and perhaps tighten a screw connection when needed, but that's really it.
We're getting reading for a big s#@w tomorrow into early Sunday. The forecasters at various times have predicted anywhere from 2 to 14 inches. As long as it's only s@#w, I can live with it even though I don't like it. I just hope and pray there is no ice with it. We'll see. -30-
Thu Jan 17 2019 08:27AM - Remember a couple entries ago, I mentioned being worried about that pool of cold air up in the arctic? Well, I guess my comments upset the Canadians because they are releasing the cold air this weekend. See this NWS forecast:
Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 2.
M.L.King Day: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 9.
Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 2.
Brrrrr!!!! And Monday's the day Mike and I get together for a trip to Indiana, PA to visit a big hobby shop to see what they have in the way of model railroad equipment. I want to pick up a few things there if they have them. Like special engine lubricating oil, some HO wheels and couplers, rail fasteners, etc.
I've got most of the stuff my neighbor gave me a couple days ago working beautifully now. One piece needs a truck and another needs a coupler. Also I want to change over some couplers on my old rolling stock from the 50s and 60s to the ones on my neighbor's stock. One of the two locomotives doesn't work. I'm looking into why. I think it may be a dead motor, but I haven't finished checking yet. I'm really getting into the model railroading now. Actually what I have now are just train sets. It's not really technically called model railroading until you get the scenery, buildings, switches or turnouts, and the like. I have some ambitious plans for that. Whether I'll ever get to them or not, I'm not sure. I'd like to create the layout of my block here from the 1950s. At that time there was a railroad station (which is now the Ol' Station Marketplace I talk about) and an associated large freight building as shown here:
Apologies for the ugly white stuff in the picture. The railroad station is in the middle, the freight building to the left, and the open storage shed was not there in the 50s. Kind of along the bottom of the picture there was a spur leading up to a brickyard, and leading into the freight building was another spur. The main track ran along that road you see looking through the open storage shed. Actually at that time there were two parallel main lines there. Now it's a "Rails to Trails" walking and biking path. I really miss the old railroad. I guess if my plans reach fruition, it will be a good nostalgia source.
OK, this is still mainly a ham radio site, so..... Conditions last night were a little better than usual for our monthly NAQCC sprint. That's not saying much, but I did hear 3 or 4 stations, and worked one of them. All the others who may have been on were buried in my strong local noise. At least I got my participation point and kept my record intact of never missing one of our sprints. -30-
Wed Jan 16 2019 07:29PM - 80 was good this evening with a lot of signals topping my noise on the PX3 so I called CQ and got an answer before too long. Unfortunately the station who answered me wasn't one of the strong ones and I had a hard time copying, but we managed to exchange RST, QTH, and name to make it a good QSO for the streak.
Tonight is our NAQCC sprint. I wonder if I'll be able to make some QSOs. Our sprints have been very rough for me the past few months now with the local noise problem and I only manage a couple QSOs at most. Very frustrating being a QRPer and not being able to copy other QRP signals for the most part. -30-
Tue Jan 15 2019 07:42PM - I worked Malta for my streak QSO this evening. The town of Malta, IL to be precise. Thanks to Roger K9KVS for the 80 meters QSO.
My next door neighbor Bruce (Roscoe's owner) gave me a bunch of HO railroad gear today that his brother Jeff found abandoned in one of the apartments he used to rent. It was in pretty good shape. One of the two engines needs some work, the other runs like a charm. A few of the cars have missing wheels and/or couplers. That can easily be fixed. Also included were two controllers and power packs, a lot of track, and some extras like RR crossing signs, trees, and other such items. Here's a picture of a mix of the new stuff I got today and some I had before.
Mon Jan 14 2019 07:53PM - A nice 31 minute rag chew with Al K4UX on 80 meters satisfied the streak this evening. We were chatting among other things about DX conditions being very poor these days. I got to wondering about how long a NO-DX streak I have now. I have worked only a few DX stations since the DX streak ended back in August, and none recently. Let's see. November 28 was my last DX QSO. That's 48 straight days without a DX QSO if I count right. I'll be forgetting how to work DX. HI I better start getting on in the mornings and try to work some. That's about the only time of day, along with early afternoon when the high bands open up here, if they open at all.
It's mid month now, so I posted a new poll question today. I also archived part of my diary, leaving just the last 30 days or so here in the main diary page.
It was a pretty nice day today with bright sunshine which brought the temperature up into the upper 30s and low 40s depending on where you were standing at the time. HI There's often a big difference between my back yard and front yard on bright sunny days like today. The back yard faces SE and the front yard obviously then NW. -30-
Sun Jan 13 2019 07:51PM - Once again conditions not all that good, but the streak goes on thanks to Ricke AJ8V in MI.
Another bad winter day with s#$w and cold. At least there is no ice. We're almost at the midpoint of meteorological winter now. If the second half is like the first, it won't be all that bad. I'm worried though about the big pool of cold air up in the Arctic just growing and getting colder every day. When it decides to spill down into the USA, it won't be good. Too bad we can't build a fence on the Canadian border to keep their cold air from entering the USA. That would really be nice. -30-
Sat Jan 12 2019 07:14PM - Of course with the NAQP in full swing this evening, it only took a few seconds to continue the streak. Actually a little longer since I wanted to work some old contesting friend whom I've worked many times before. It took a minute or so to find and work Al N4AF.
We've got some more of the ugly s#@w falling right now. A good night to be indoors. I sure can't wait for the time when s#$w is a thing of the past for this winter and it's light in the evenings until 9:00 and later. That will be nice. Meanwhile I can stay inside and play with my trains and do ham radio, etc. -30-
Fri Jan 11 2019 08:35PM - A tough night on the bands. I must have answered 5 different CQs with no comebacks. Then I found my old time friend Ken WA8REI in a QSO. I waited till he finished and called him. We chatted for a while before I had to run. That took up most of the 0000Z hour till I worked Ken.
I think I mentioned about a month ago here in the diary that I ordered a fairly big N scale train kit. After patiently waiting for it to come, I finally called the company today and found out that they were waiting on their supplier for the kit and it would be another 2-3 weeks before I will get it.
Meantime I'm having fun playing with and learning about the Rock Island HO locomotive my neighbor gave me a few days ago. I've got it running in very good condition now after a good cleaning and a lube job.
It was cold today, but sunny and a lot of our s@#w melted. We may get another inch or two tomorrow afternoon though. The following week should be good, but then winter may start in earnest around the 20th or so and remain at least through early February. If that's all it lasts, that won't be bad, but February is usually always a bad month here, even after spring starts on March 1, it can be bad still. We'll just have to wait and see. -30-
Thu Jan 10 2019 07:33PM - The bands (actually these days when I say 'the bands' that usually means 80 meters as that's about the only useable band in the 0000Z hour any more, except 160 at times) were not as good as last night, but still it didn't take too long to get an answer to my CQ from Ron K2MR. We had about a 15 minute chat. He said he is just getting back to CW after a while. I'm always glad to hear that from folks I work or who email me after visiting my site here. In fact WW4MM signed my guestbook today saying, "Great site for those of us returning to CW". I try to convince folks who visit that CW is the way to go. I hope they will all consider joining FISTS and if they like QRP also, then the NAQCC as well.
It was really nasty today with temperatures staying in the mid-20 and sidewalks being slippery. I only went out for brief walks with Roscoe and that was it. Still except for another small bout with s@#w on Saturday, things look pretty good through at least next Thursday with it getting gradually less cold each day. We really got spoiled for the last month or so. I was watching the Penn State Weather World as I do each evening at 5:30P (ET) and they said that for many places in PA this is the first below normal average temperature for 3-4 weeks. Pittsburgh was only 15 days though. I'm not sure what it was here. Maybe I'll check later.
I got a pack of a few QSLs today from Art WA3BKD of the USS Requin. He answers the QSLs he gets for our (Mike and me) operations at the Requin then sends the cards along to us. It was nice to think of our many ops on the Requin and got me thinking of our upcoming ones this year. We're not sure just when that will be as we have to work around the times when the Requin will be in dry dock for some needed maintenance this year. I hope we can fit in at least 4 or 5 ops there, including the Museum Ships on the Air weekend in June. We'll see. -30-
Wed Jan 09 2019 07:35PM - I got a bit of a scare last night. Midway through my operating session, I noticed an audio hiss along with my usual noise, and it seemed like something in the KX3 itself this time. I couldn't figure anything out and just gave up until this evening. It didn't take long for me to notice my bandpass filter was set higher than usual at some 250 Hz. I tuned it back to my normal 50 Hz. and that cured the hiss problem right away. I think I accidentally got my fingers on the wrong knob last night and widened the bandpass instead of whatever I was wanting to do. WHEW!
It wasn't a scare today, but more of a surprise when we got about an inch or a little more ugly white stuff. Just a persistent s#@w band off Lake Erie that targeted Kittanning. I guess revenge for lauding the beautiful warm s#@w free day yesterday here in the diary. It kind of looks like an isolated incident with very little more predicted at least through next mid-week.
80 meters seemed quite good this evening. While I was working Lynn NG9D, I counted peaks on the PX3 and saw around l2-14 or so breaking through my noise level. That's in a 40 KHz bandwidth which is pretty crowded compared to how it has been of late. Hopefully it means better things are on the way, but I doubt it. -30-
Tue Jan 08 2019 01:08PM -
Ain't that beautiful! No ugly s#@w anywhere and 57 degrees on January 8 at 12:58PM. If only that could last throughout all of winter. I know for sure it won't though. Oh well each day like this means winter weather won't last as long as it could. Just had to get that in the diary today. -30-
Mon Jan 07 2019 07:43PM - It was my friend Robert NW2Z to the rescue tonight. After an endless string of unanswered CQs, Robert called to say hello after hearing all my unanswered CQs. Thanks Robert. Maybe I helped him with his streak also. He is following in my footsteps as he puts it, with a streak of his own. Not QRP like mine, but nonetheless a great way to keep active on the CW bands.
I was thinking about model railroading again, and I've come up with the conclusion that what I said about homebrewing in ham radio and model railroading applies pretty much equally well to the cost of the hobbies. You can start out with a little QRP xcvr for less than 100 bucks. You can start your model railroad with a kit of an engine, a couple pieces of rolling stock, a small circle of track, and a power supply for under 100 bucks. Then you add to either as much accessory equipment as you want. More powerful transceivers and bigger antennas to your ham station. Many more feet of track, additional engines and rolling stock, perhaps DCC to your model railroad. You can wind up with several thousand dollars invested in either hobby - go as far as the budget allows. I'd rate cost of both hobbies pretty much in line with the other. -30-
Sun Jan 06 2019 07:40PM - I'm not sure what happened tonight. I had a very solid strong both ways QSO going on 80 with Steve N3YWQ, after our 3rd round, I turned it back to him and never heard him again. I hope it was just a sudden change of propagation.
My neighbor gave me an old HO engine today and I spent a good bit of time working on it. I've got it running pretty well now. It's a Rock Island unit. It still needs a little tweaking and perhaps a little lubrication before I'm completely satisfied with it. Oh, and a little cleaning and some paint touch up. I just hope my seeming jinx with motors doesn't extend to this unit. Here's a picture of it.
Sat Jan 05 2019 07:50PM - Last night we discussed one topic that was pretty much 180 degrees different in ham radio vs. model railroading. Tonight one that is very similar. That is building your own equipment.
In both hobbies, it is possible to build a complete setup from very basic scratch ingredients, so to speak. You can truly start with some pieces of metal and wood, mix in some pieces of plastic and some paint and come up with a very nice model railroad. Likewise get some wire, some transistors, solder, other small parts and come up with a nice ham radio station. That's simplifying things, but you know what I mean. In both hobbies, you can build from scratch as much as you want and fill in the gaps with some commercially manufactured equipment. Or you can simply buy a complete model railroad or a complete ham radio station right off the shelf, so to speak.
That aspect of the hobbies winds up as pretty much being a dead heat when comparing the two.
As for the bands, again 80 meters was pretty good although it took a while to get an answer to my CQs, and I didn't hear anyone else calling CQ. Finally I did get an answer from Adam KE8DNU and we chatted about 8 minutes with good copy.
Mike was here briefly today. He goes out to Eastern Pennsylvania a couple times a year and while there stops at a specialty food store to get some kolbasi (kielbasa) loaf for himself, me, and some other friends of his. He delivered the goods today. Mmmmmm! He couldn't stay long as he had other deliviries to make, but we did talk model railroading a while and also checked the bands. They weren't much better around 2 PM than they are in the evening. We didn't hear any DX, only USA stations on 40 and 20. -30-
Fri Jan 04 2019 06:07PM - I got some nice email comments on my model railroading and weather info I presented in the diary the past few days. Thanks for that. I'm glad you're enjoying such info.
Tonight I'm going to talk a bit about the outside influences there are on ham radio and model railroading. I think this is one facet in which model railroading has a definite advantage. In ham radio, you are vulnerable to interference (QRM) from other ham operators, whether intentional or accidental. Of course you have means of avoiding that by simply changing frequency. Then there is electrical noise (QRN), man made or natural. Since this is broad-band in most cases, you have no way of avoiding it. Something you really can't avoid at all are propagation conditions. Severe solar storms can pretty much prevent any communications via radio. Also the sunspot cycle is a real annoyance, especially when the sunspots cease to appear and don't enliven the ionosphere for propagation a few years at a time in each 11 year cycle.
I can't really think of anything at all similar with model railroading. Maybe getting unwanted company when you are in the middle of some important building or operating of your railroad, but that's about it.
I hope it's easier getting my streak QSO tonight than it was last night. I called a couple stations with no results, losing out to other calling stations. Then the third time was a charm. I got answered, but QSB kind of made a shambles of the QSO. I had a lot of trouble copying the station, but we did exchange enough info to make it a completely legitimate contact. -30-
Thu Jan 03 2019 06:51PM - I was going to start my series comparing ham radio and model railroading by comparing the cost of both hobbies, but last night something else struck me as I was sitting in the shack looking for my streak QSO.
As far as I can tell without doing an inordinate amount of research, both hobbies are for us older folks. Especially CW and/or QRP. I note the age of the ham I am working in my log book if he/she gives me one. It is very difficult to find any ages in my log under 50, and not very many between 50 and 60. The vast majority are in the 60s, 70s, and quite a few 80 or above. I'm sure there are young folks somewhere in ham radio, but just not in my style of ham radio, namely CW and QRP.
Since I got back in model railroading, I've been watching a lot of videos of other folks' layouts and videos of tips and tutorials as well as on-line magazines. The vast majority of the hosts of those videos would seem to me to be 50 or older. That goes with the related hobby of railfanning as well. I mean folks who drive around the country to watch real trains in action.
It also seems that a lot of folks enter both hobbies at an early age, enjoy them for a while, then get absorbed in other aspects of life. Later in life, they then return to their roots and are captivated all over again by both of these great hobbies. That exactly describes my course of action.
More comparisons or contrasts as well will follow in future diary entries. I hope you will find them of interest.
Now it's time to go to the shack and hopefully extend my streak another day. -30-
Wed Jan 02 2019 07:25PM - The bands, or at least 80, the only one I really checked, seemed good again with a lot of signals breaking out above the noise level on the PX3. I looked for a while for someone calling CQ, and didn't find anyone. Then I tried calling CQ myself and it wasn't long before Jerry N3HAM called me. The copy was a little rough, but we managed a 15 minute QSO.
I'm getting ready to start my comparison of ham radio and model railroading here in the diary. Once I get all the holidays things out of the way, I'll get to that. I've still got all my Christmas stuff up mainly because my cousin wanted to visit and see the tree, etc. She has been busy lately and hasn't made it yet. I guess I'll give her a couple more days, then I'll have to get to my de-decorating, as we used to call it at WPIT. It was DD-day when we took the trim down there.
When I do that, I'll have a better idea of just how I'm going to set up my model railroad(s). -30-
Tue Jan 01 2019 04:54PM - Yep, 2019. Time to ask that familiar question that becomes even more familiar as we grow older, "Where the heck does the time go?" I was working on my weather records today, updating all the info from last year, when I noticed that my totals/averages didn't include any figures for 90+ degree days in October. I knew we had some just a couple years ago so I guess I just didn't incorporate them since it would have made the average less than one per year which I represent with an L in my averages. Anyway to shorten the story and get to some stats for last year, that couple of years ago turned out to be way back in 2007. A prime example of where does the time go. That's only one example of where I've thought something was a couple years ago which turned out to be 10+ years ago in reality.
I think the outstanding stat for 2018 was the rainfall. The total was 60.51 inches which was 18.21 inches above normal and easily broke the previous record of 54.69 in 2004. Earliest/latest in year/season temperatures were also very interesting. The following are the earliest in year high temperatures: March 13 - 84,83,82,81. February 20 - 79,78,77,76,75,74,73,72. Latest in year highs: October 8 - 90,89 (both tie with 2007). October 9 - 88.
Some monthly records:
January - Greatest daily precipitation - 2.37 inches on the 12th.
February - Greatest precipitation - 7.34 inches.
Most days greater than .01, .04, .25 inches precipitation - 22, 19, 11.
Greatest year to date precipitation - 11.62 inches.
Fewest days with low <= 32 degrees - 18 (tie).
March - Greatest year to date precipitation - 14.86 inches.
April - Greatest YTD precipitation - 18.75 inches.
Most days .04+ inches precipitation - 18 (tie).
May - Greatest YTD precipitation - 23.99 inches.
Lowest DD(H) total - 26.
Highest average low temperature - 57.3.
Highest average mean temperature - 69.1.
Highest DD(C) total - 161 (tie).
Highest lowest daily mean - 58.
Highest daily minimum - 74.
June - Greatest YTD precipitation - 29.02 inches.
July - none.
August - Highest lowest maximum temperature - 80.
September - Lowest greatest daily temperature range - 29
Highest average low temperature - 61.1.
Highest average mean temperature - 70.6.
Highest DD(C) total - 206.
Highest DD(C) season total - 1,267
Highest daily mean - 83 (tie).
Greatest precipitation - 10.36 inches.
Greatest YTD precipitation - 47.36 inches.
Most days 1.0+ inches precipitation - 3 (tie)
October - Lowest greatest daily temperature range - 28
Highest DD(C) total - 73.
Highest DD(C) season total - 1,340.
Highest daily mean - 77 (tie).
Highest highest minimum - 66 (tie).
Greatest YTD precipitation - 51.93 inches.
Most days 0.25+ inches precipitation (tie).
November - Lowest mean daily temperature range - 11.9 degrees.
Lowest greatest daily temperature range - 25 (tie).
Highest DD(C) season total - 1,340.
Greatest YTD precipitation - 56.47 inches.
December - Highest DD(C) season total - 1,340.
Greatest YTD precipitation - 60.51 inches.
Whew, quite a record setting year. A lot of those record descriptions are confusing. Even the professional meteorologists stumble over them. I hope I didn't stumble too much above. If you question anything I said, please email and tell me. I wonder how 2019 will compare as far as record setting weather enents go. Tune in at the start of 2020 to find out. But don't stay away until then. I try to have interesting info of all kinds here in the diary every day, although some days it's not easy. -30-