Wed Jul 18 2018 6:37PM - I received my 13 Colonies certificate in the mail today. I'm proud to have done a sweep of the 13 colonies plus WM3PEN all of course with CW QRP and my simple wire antennas. I did miss GB13COL again though. I only heard them once during the week right near the end and quite weak with a lot of competition. Maybe next year. Anyway here's what this year's certificate looks like:
This was one of the hardest days in my DX streak to come up with a QSO. As I said yesterday, I would miss the 1300Z hour of the CWT as that's when we took Roscoe to the groomer. I never did get to check the bands till around 1600Z and found nothing in the way of DX. That continued up until the 1900Z hour and the next hour of the CWT. However repeatedly tuning the CWT on both 20 and 15 showed nothing but W/VE stations. I did hear LZ380PM outside the CWT, but never got more than a tentative ? from him. Then I found DK1NO and got a response of K3WHV or something like that, then he just faded out completely. Now LZ380PM was much stronger so I tried again, but many repeated calls never got me closer than K3RRP. Even though he did close with R QSL, he never did send my call correctly so I didn't count him. While I was calling him though I noticed a strong signal a couple kHz up the band on the PX3. Tuning it in, I found it to be DL1REM peaking near an S9. Since he apparently was just starting up, I figured I had a good chance at him so I called. No response so I started sending my call again, then heard him coming back with WWP. I stopped and sent K3 K3WWP and the QSO was made and the DX streak continued. Add a big WHEW!! to the collection.
I've always found that diary visitors don't only come for ham radio info, but they also enjoy the other topics I cover in the diary. Here's an excerpt from an email I got today from W4MMR to prove that. "Thanks to you and Mike for doing the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad excursion. Also, the light rail article was very interesting, too. That was a very interesting pair of diary entries. I work with a young engineer that is a big rail fan down here in SC and I shared your diary entries and the website with him. Nice work!".
Thanks for those kind words and comments, Mark. That encourages me to keep covering other topics here in the diary along with ham radio.
Tonight is our monthly NAQCC sprint. I just set up GenLog for it. Right now I plan to just go for 10 QSOs and then quit. I've done that a lot lately. It gets me a participation point plus keeps my streak of never missing a regular NAQCC sprint since we started them back in 2004. Tomorrow in the diary I'll have my soapbox comments here in the diary to let you know how things went. And hopefully in the half hour before the sprint I can get my DX QSO for tomorrow so I don't have to spend another day like today trying for one. -30-
Tue Jul 17 2018 9:10PM - About DX this evening: Ditto last night's first paragraph of the diary entry.
It was rough today, and I only heard one weak DX station in all my every 30-60 minute brief checks of the bands. That held true until almost 2000Z. Finally old faithful PV8ADI showed up on 20. I had trouble working him though, and I thought I was never going to get past his K3? So I gave up for a while but came back again a little later. Finally I got a K3WWP 599 from him, and another WHEW! was added to my growing collection of late.
Tomorrow is Wednesday and that means the CWT sprint, so that may help. However I won't be here for the first hour. We're taking Roscoe to the groomer then. So unless I luck out and get someone later tonight, it may be rough during the day tomorrow again. Tune in tomorrow for the continuing story of "Wll he, or won't he (continue his DX streak)?" -30-
Mon Jul 16 2018 8:18PM - Not a sign of any DX at all this evening, so my little pink slip with the reminder that I haven't yet gotten my DX streak is now out in front of my computer. Hope I can put it away later tonight, but I'll probably have to wait till morning or afternoon, if then.
It was a very hot and humid day today. The high was 94 and the humidity around 45%. According to a table I found at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/Humidity.html that computes to a dewpoint of 69.43 degrees which is pretty uncomfortable. Right now it's 86 and 50% or a dewpoint of 65.2 degrees.
Last night I was fooling around with my camera around sunset. I noticed a very thin crescent moon and thought I'd try to get a picture of it. Here's what I came up with and it included a bonus.
Yep, that's Venus to the upper left. I didn't notice it with the naked eye when I took the picture. This little Nikon CoolPic camera is really "cool".
Well, it's "cooled" down a bit weatherwise and I need to go mail some bills before it gets dark. -30-
Sun Jul 15 2018 8:17PM - Did he or didn't he? Log me correctly, I mean. I worked CT3MD on 30, but although he said R QSL a few times, he never did send my call correctly. It was always K3JP. Well, it became a moot point because 7 minutes later I worked F2QJ on 30 and after having me as K3WAP at first, he sent K3WWP correctly the second time around. So the streak goes on.
I finished editing my train ride pictures from last Saturday. Gosh, has it been 8 days already since the ride. Time sure flies and accelerates rapidly as one gets older.
I decided since there were 30 of them, I would just add a folder to my Microsoft One Drive cloud side and post them there. I haven't used One Drive in some time now, but I think I got it right. You should be able to click here and see the pictures if you are interested. If it doesn't work, please email me and let me know. Each picture has a brief comment that should show up below the picture if I did it right. -30-
Sat Jul 14 2018 9:03PM - A hot and humid day today. The first one we've had in a while. It's still 82 and 62% humidity right now as I type this. I just finished mowing my back yard so I'm feeling a bit tired right now.
The DX was easy tonight of course with the IARU HF Championships. I found and worked ZF9DX just a minute after turning on the rig a bit after 0000Z.
Other than that not much to talk about so I'll close and get to some other things that need doing. -30-
Fri Jul 13 2018 8:43PM - Never doubt that you can work a DX station. I almost did that tonight with R18PAN. I had been having trouble working Russia since the sunspots declined and he wasn't all that strong anyway. However I tried and right away got a K3? or something like that. I called again and got K3WWP 599. That continues to make me wonder just how long into the sunspot minimum I can keep the DX streak going. I tend to believe that if I can be on the right band at the right time, I should be able to keep it going. I think I know the bands well enough to know when and where is the best chance to work some DX. I believe only two things can stop the streak. First simply a lack of active DX stations. There is much less DX activity now as a lot of stations seem to think the bands are not going to be any good until we get to climbing toward the next sunspot maximum. Second a major geomagnetic storm that lasts a full day. I've found that storms during a minimum are much more destructive than storms that occur near a maximum. In fact at a maximum storms sometimes enhance DX propagation.
At any rate whatever happens, I'm learning more and more about working DX as the streak goes on. That makes it a little more worthwhile than just working the DX.
Another thing that is made worthwhile is having someone I work tell me how much my web site has helped them with their ham radio activities. That happened this evening after I worked R18PAN. I called CQ and got an answer from KB5EDR who told me how much I've helped him even though we never have met in any way until our QSO this evening. Sometimes it gets discouraging not getting any kind of feedback about the site for quite a while. Then something like this happens to pique my interest in the site work again. Thanks. -30-
Thu Jul 12 2018 9:14PM - I did some work on sorting out my train trip pictures today. I cropped and resized several of them in preparation for posting them in the diary. I'll probably wait till after the 15th when I archive another section of my diary. That will free up space on my Windstream server so I don't have to just post them on k3wwp.com and link to them from Windstream. I'll see how that goes. That will also give me more time to sort and pick pictures to post. I still have all of Mike's to go through.
I was kind of surprised this evening. I heard EA8/UA5C strong on 20, but couldn't get him. I usually have a good path to that part of the world. There was some competition, but not all that much. After several minutes, he then disappeared. I think he just QRT. So back to the search or the scavenger hunt as I named it a while back here in the diary. Nothing else on 20, so it was off to 30. About the only station there was a French special event station TM100ARM, and it took all of just one call to get him in the log. That was at 0005Z, so I then tried some CQs and didn't get anyone else after about 20 minutes, so I QRT. -30-
Wed Jul 11 2018 8:52PM - I get a lot of questions about the jumper inverted dipole I use for portable operations. Today I decided to add a description about its construction. I took the article from a 2010 NAQCC Newsletter article that Mike and I wrote and updated it with some changes I made since then. Now it is at the end of the "Portable Operating" page in the QRP section of my site.
Patience! That's what it took for my DX QSO this evening. CT3MD was strong enough that I knew I could work him. However he was turning QSOs over very slowly having trouble getting calls right and needing a lot of repeats. Those working him didn't help either with some sloppy sending and insisting on sending more info that necessary instead of just RST like he was doing. Anyway I must have lost out to maybe 20 stations or so before a K3? came from him. I was one of the easier stations for him to copy for whatever reason. It only took a couple of repeats before I got R R K3WWP 599 TU. I sent TU 599 599 and added another day to the streak. Whew!! What I said here is not criticizing anyone - just telling it like it happened.
I got my RPO letter in the mail today. At first I didn't think a lot of the cancellation as it wasn't fancy. But then on second thought, the plain RPO cancellation was much more authentic and I like it that way. I think I'll include a picture of it when I get to posting my pictures from the train trip. -30-
Tue Jul 10 2018 9:07PM - After all the train ride excitement of the last couple days, it was back to business as normal today. A lot of little things to get caught up on, and nothing really exciting or different to write about.
I did do some sorting out of the train ride pictures and also some other pictures from parkpeditions, hamfests, etc. Now I should be able to find any pictures more easily if I'm looking for this or that. There's still a lot of sorting to do though.
I figure it will be a couple more days at least before I get to the point where I can figure out which of the around 100 pictures from the train ride that I want to post, and then crop and edit them after that.
A quick DX QSO this evening from HI3T at 0003Z. I haven't worked or even heard him for a while. So the DX streak goes on at 1,959 days now. I'm looking forward hopefully to making it to 2,000 days. Funny how things like streaks or other kind of records sound better when they reach a landmark number like 2,000, 500, 100, etc. There's not much fuss made when someone works 99 countries, for example. But when 100 is hit, all kind of good and memorable things happen. -30-
Mon Jul 09 2018 11:20AM - Let's see, where were we? The first half of the enactment was about to come to an end. All the way, we were treated with German World War II era music on the train's intercom system in between announcements (in English) about the tour and the enactment. It was an excellent sound system with an excellent announcer at the mike making everything that was said perfectly understandable. Our coach tour guide also was an excellent announcer with a wireless mike that worked perfectly. So many times in events dealing with loudspeakers, the sound quality is horrible. Not so this time.
At the halfway point at a place called Rynd Farm, all the pasengers embarked for a snack shop, restroom, and stretching of the legs break. Also the peak of the WW II enactment took place here. A troop of Allied soldiers appeared in the distance and headed toward us. Their assignment was to take over the train and take it out of Germany. They did just that in a mock (noisy) battle that lasted perhaps 15-20 minutes or so. It definitely was loud and action filled. Words can't adequately describe it. You really had to be there as I mentioned before.
With the train securely in the hands of the Allies now, we headed back north to the Tionesta station. This time it was American WW II music on the loudspeakers. Songs like American Patrol, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Boogie Woogie Bugler Boy, and the like. One of the captured German officers was in the seat right behind us. He was a lover of American music like that, and could identify the songs immediately. We had fun singing along with Chattannooga Choo Choo. He also told us of many other such enactments around the country in which he participates. It was very interesting to say the least. Mike and I will think about attending some of them next year.
The trip back for the most part was uneventful. We did get shot at by a German sniper at one point. Otherwise it was mostly watching all the trees go by, and digesting all the interesting info our tour guide was dispensing. When we did get back to the station for disembarking, it was a slow process and we got a chance to talk with a couple more of the "Germans" as well as chatting with our tour guide and thanking him for a wonderful job.
In the station gift shop, we stopped to see if Mike won anything with the raffle ticked he bought. It turned out he did win a book about the cold war. Then it was out to the car. Turned out the parking spot wasn't as great as we thought. A large bus that brought a lot of handicapped people to the tour had us and a few other cars completely blocked it, and we had to wait quite a while to finally get out and on the road again.
Of course now we had to find someplace to eat. None of the local establishments sounded appetizing. Nothing against them at all. It was just they didn't have the kind of food we were hungry for at the moment. We wound up going over to Brookville and eating at a buffet restaurant there.
That pretty much wraps up the tour story unless after Mike reads this, he notices something important I left out or just wants to add some of his thoughts in a future diary entry.
I want to close with some personal info. Back in the 1950s and early 60s until he passed away in 1964, my dad was a Star Route mail carrier whose daily trips took him along many of the roads Mike and I travelled to the tour and back. His main route was changed once during the time he drove so he had two different routes. I used to ride along with him many times. I hadn't really been on those routes but a very few times since 1964. The first route was from Kittanning to Brookville, then over to Clarion and back. The second route was from Kittanning to New Bethlehem, then on to Clarion and a couple stops beyond that ending (I think) at Knox, then back home. He did each of those routes twice a day covering some 220 miles each and every day Monday through Saturday. Anyway to shorten the story, I always look for the post offices when we pass through the towns he made stops at. Most of the ones, if not all, have changed since the 1960s. Back then, a lot of the smaller town POs were in a house or store. Since then those towns have built their own dedicated PO buildings. I think only here in Kittanning and in Clarion are the POs still recognizable from the 60s. OK, enough of that for now. Maybe I'll have more to say about those days in a future diary entry.
As far as ham radio, the streaks are still going. I've been getting some pretty quick DX contacts in the evenings. Tom WB3FAE and I hope to do a parkpedition soon this month. No definite date yet. If it's a Sunday, Mike will join us. -30-
Sun Jul 08 2018 12:18PM - Where do I start? What do I write? This is going to be tough. I could write a whole book about our train trip yesterday, but I don't want to do that. I want to wind up somewhere between that book and just a brief listing of some events on the trip. Between Mike and me we must have taken over a hundred pictures and Mike also took several videos. Sorting them all out will take some time and will have to be in a future entry. Since railroads and Morse went together in the early days of both, I'm sure a lot of hams have an interest in railroading just like Mike and I do. So with that as a preamble, let's get started.
It was an early awakening for me at around 6:20AM and I'm not that great an early morning person while Mike is used to it with his Post Office job. I managed to down a bit of breakfast while waiting for Mike to arrive. When he did just before 7AM, we talked about some last minute things about the trip. I told Mike that there was the last remaining active RPO car in the country and it was the one on this train. That's Railway Post Office car, and we could have a letter posted from there with a unique (valuable?) postmark. I had my letter made up, and Mike made his now. More about that later.
We figured it would be about a 90 minute trip to Tionesta's railroad station, so we left around 7:30 which should get us there around 9AM if all went well. It did go well and Mike wanted me to be sure to include in this entry that we didn't get lost at all on the way, not even one tiny wrong or missed turn. Probably the most perfect drive we've ever had to any event we've attended. Still with traffic and a little detour, it took over 1 3/4 hours to get there. Still we were early enough to get what seemed to be a perfect parking spot right near the station entrance.
We had pre-ordered our tickets so all we had to do now was kill time until the train was ready for boarding. We walked all around the area for our first photo taking session. We took pictures of engines, railway cars, signs, troop encampments, and anything else that caught our fancy. Troop encampments? Yes, this was a World War II enactment event where to sum up briefly, the train was to start out as a German passenger train occupied by German troops, and wind up after a pitched battle at the end of the round trip being taken over by Allied troops for the return trip. More on that later also.
We continued our time-killing by roaming the souvenir shop in the station. We both bought a few items and picked up some free folders and booklets as remembrances of the journey. Being railfans, among other things we both picked up a "train in a tin box" which consisted of an oval track something like 10 x 20 inches with four cars including two freight cars and an engine and caboose. It is powered by a single AA battery. I put the track together and tried it out last night. It runs nicely and looks quite accurate at its scale. We took some added pictures inside the station of an old safe, scale, and a couple other historical items. Then we sat outside enjoying the great weather (sunny and mid-70s). I watched the people going by while Mike put some order to his pictures in his phone. We grabbed a hot dog at the concession stand, and then finally around 11:30 we went and waited by the boarding gate. It was manned by German attendants who were passing out boarding papers.
When Noon arrived, we boarded the train. Mike and I were around 8th or so in line, and we got some good seats about in the middle of the first class coach called the Wabash Cannonball. It was built in the 1920s and served its "tour of duty" on the Wabash line. It had some of the comforts of home added to it since it was "retired" for tour duty as it is doing now. It was air-conditioned, had rotatable seats installed among other niceties. After we boarded, we watched out the windows as a seemingly endless line of people heading for the cars behind us passed by outside. We had a very nice and knowledgable tour guide in our car. He had been a volunteer for the train rides 32 years. There were many other volunteers helping out with the whole event. Plus all the Allied and German troops were folks who do various such enactments around the country. We talked at length with one who told us of several such events he does regularly. Also we chatted briefly with another couple who came from MN and WI to take part. The Germans were very realistic in their uniforms, speech and actions. We had more interaction with them than with the Allies.
When it was 1PM, the train started on its journey southbound. The Germans checked out and punched everyone's boarding pass. We hadn't gotten very far before the train stopped. A tree had fallen on the tracks ahead. That was not part of the show, but an act of Mother Nature sometime since the last train a couple days earlier. That held us up for maybe 20-25 minutes or so while some "German troops and their American prisoners" used chainsaws that the train always carries to cut up and remove the fallen tree. Part of it was so high in the air they had to nudge the engine right up to it and stand on the engine to reach it.
Meanwhile the WW II plot continued. One of the passengers was designed as a "spy" and the German officers had to search out and find the spy. The spy and or another passenger was given a map by our tour guide and another sub plot was the Germans finding and arresting the map holder. After a deal was made, she was released though. She promised if Germany lost the war, she would provide sanctuary for the German officer in Pittsburgh. The whole plot was really a lot of fun with events like this interspersed into the tour. You had to be there to really fully enjoy it. They do have this war re-enactment every year around the Fourth of July. You might think about enjoying it some year.
The train now continued its journey after the tree was cleared. It wasn't long though before the second and last fallen tree was encountered. It only took a couple of minutes to clear this small one and we were on the way again. It was hard to believe but in this heart of "oil country" where the first oil wells were drilled in the nineteenth century that we were passing through places where bustling towns and huge oil fields once existed. Now just about all that could be seen were endless trees. Interspersed here and there were rotting remnants of old oil wells, telegraph poles now with their wires mostly all gone, and a few other relics. As far as buildings, all of them had been taken over by nature, and I don't think we saw even one building foundation. What a contrast to the pictures in a couple of photo albums from the area's heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s that were passed around for us all to see.
We were now well along toward the halfway mark in the train ride and the main event of the WW II scenario. I think I'll just stop here for now and pick up the rest of the story in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Sat Jul 07 2018 10:34PM - What a fantastic time we had on the train trip today. Only a couple very minor delays kept it at 99.9% perfect instead of 100%. I'm too tired to think straight now, so I'll wait till tomorrow to write more about it. I'll also pick out some of the best pictures Mike and I took of the event, and post tomorrow or the next day. I've been on the go since about 6:20AM this morning and we were gone until 8:20PM this evening. ZZzzzz... -30-
Fri Jul 06 2018 8:28PM - That's the way I like it. On a evening before a busy day coming up, I like to get my streak(s) taken care of as soon after 0000Z as possible. I did just that by working CQ918FWC on 20M at 0006Z. I'm not sure about the number 918 in the call. I mean I copied it correctly. I guess the 9 with the CQ signifies Madeira Island, and the 18 is for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Anyway no need to worry during our train trip tomorrow about a DX QSO.
Mike and I will be leaving here about 7:30AM in order to arrive at Titusville around the time the station opens at 9AM. I'm not going to say all that much more about it here and now. Hopefully we'll have more comments and pictures in the next few diary entries. Meanwhile check out the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad web site here. -30-
Thu Jul 05 2018 10:17PM - It's late, so not much to say tonight. Today was the start of a 2 day transition to cooler less humid weather on Saturday. We only hit 88 today, and only for a short period of time. It was still pretty humid though. Tomorrow should be in the low 80s and less humid, then Saturday the upper 70s and low humidity. That will be a nice break and a good day for our train ride with Mike. More about that the next couple days here in the diary. -30-
Wed Jul 04 2018 6:10PM - Well, the 13 Colonies are booked. I just worked PA on 20 and MA on 40 to complete all 13. Here's the order I worked them after a bit of info for those who may not know me all that well. All contacts were on CW using 5 watts output power to simple wire antennas. I did not use any form of spotting, reverse beacons, or anything like that - I NEVER do. I just fired up the rig, tuned the bands till I heard one of the thirteen K2 1X1 calls, then usually worked them within a couple of minutes.
Stn State Date Time Band 2017 2016 2015 2014
K2I NJ 1st 0022 20 X X
K2K NH 3rd 0009 40 X X X
K2E DE 3rd 0026 20 X X
K2A NY 3rd 0027 30 X X
WM3PEN 3rd 0037 30 X X
K2C RI 3rd 0158 40 X X
K2L SC 3rd 0210 30 X X X
K2B VA 3rd 1538 40 X X
K2D CT 3rd 1544 20 X X
K2G GA 4th 0004 20 X X X
K2F MD 4th 0410 80 X X
K2J NC 4th 0413 80 X X X X
K2M PA 4th 2200 20 X X
K2H MA 4th 2207 40 X X
After making the table above, I decided to check the past few years. I added columns for those years and put an X there if I worked the station. I know I had a sweep in both 2017 and 2016, but I'm not sure before that. So I'm going to do that now. Of course you've already seen it now. HI.
I kind of figured that. I never really bothered with the event seriously until 2016. Since then I've done my best to try for a clean sweep. Technically I never have made it yet though. I haven't worked the British station which if I remember right is GB13COL. Maybe this year.
Whatever, it is a lot of fun and somewhat of a challenge to do it the way I do as mentioned in the first paragraph above. Also a very beautiful patriotic certificate comes with the event which I proudly display on the shack wall each year.
Next up is the DX streak in about 90 minutes or so. -30-
Tue Jul 03 2018 8:24PM - Hmmmm, same time as last night. The bands were rough today and tonight. The only DX I heard were a couple of stations chasing the 13 Colonies stations so I couldn't work them.
I did manage to add some more Colonies stations to the log late last night, today and this evening though. Now I'm up to 9 worked plus WM3PEN. I need PA NC MA, and MD for the sweep. I chased MD a while this evening, but couldn't beat the pileup as skip was too long to favor my QRP signal and he was only working longer skip stations like WI IN IL MN and the like. I guess I'll hunt some more during the day tomorrow while I'm hunting for my DX. -30-
Mon Jul 02 2018 8:48PM - Kind of a busy, strange, and good day today. I got started early with my banking run and got that taken care of quickly. When I got home, I helped Ange water his garden. Right after that it was time to walk Roscoe. Next it was watering my garden and picking my first ripe tomato. Then it was helping Bruce do a little work on his bicycle. Gee, I'm glad I did my laundry last evening.
Strange in that the circuit breaker on my power strip for my microwave tripped for no reason. Also strange that the new neighbor's tent they put up a couple days ago succumbed to a gust of wind this evening and landed on my fence and broke my cord at the end of my random wire antenna. So I had to fix that after a heavy thundershower came and went.
Good in that I got my DX at 0003Z this evening from S57V and had time to search and work some 13 Colonies stations. I got K2K NH on 40, K2E DE on 20, K2A NY on 30, WM3PEN on 30. Add those to K2I NJ on 20 last night and I'm off to a pretty good start. 4 down and 9 to go with 4 days to go. Hope I can get all 13 again this year as I did the past couple years. -30-
Sun Jul 01 2018 8:24PM - Absolutely horrid! Band conditions this evening, I mean. Fortunately Ger HK7AAG was strong on 30 meters so I worked him even though our previous QSO was just a couple days ago. He was the only DX station I heard other than a weak NP3YL on 40.
I had hoped to rack up a few 13 Colonies stations. However I only heard 3 of them, all right down at and below my noise level. I tried calling a couple times, but knowing it was futile and there are still 5 days left to get them all, I just QRT for the evening and decided to do my laundry instead.
We reached 95 today on my AcuRite remote. If that holds up outside, it will make this the warmest (hottest!) day of the year so far. It may "cool" off overnight tonight before heading for the 90s again tomorrow and also each day through Thursday. I say cool off because it's dropping fairly fast right now from the 90s within the last hour to 86 now.
Tomorrow morning I'm heading out to the bank while it is still relatively cool. I sure wish I could take the heat like I could when I was young(er). It couldn't really get hot enough for me, but that is slipping away now over the past few years. Another downside of ageing. -30-
Sat Jun 30 2018 8:52PM - It was rough getting my DX today (for the 30th, I mean). There was nothing workable from the time I started my regular half hour or hour checks at 1200Z for the next 5 hours. There were a couple weak DX stations, but they weren't hearing me, not suprisingly as they were down in my noise here. Finally although conditions didn't seem any better, I did hear one of the Bulgarian saint stations around s6-7 or so on 20 meters. I called a couple times with no response. But then he sent a K3? or maybe WP?, I forget now. Anyway I persisted and after a few times sending my call, he came back with K3WWP 599. Whew! Thanks to the great op at LZ430PPW, the streak lived on another day.
It was a hot one today with a high on my AcuRite remote of 94. Since it's now 9PM, let me go check the 'official' thermometer in the backyard shelter. Back in a moment or so. OK, the min max pres were 65 94 80 today which ties the highest max so far this year. It was a good day to stay inside although it really wasn't too humid. I did go out for walking Roscoe three times so far. One more to come before long. I also did some weeding in my garden and planted three more tomato plants that Ange gave me.
When I went to the shack at 0000Z, I had three objectives in mind. Get my regular streak QSO probably using the RAC contest if I didn't find anything else first. Get my DX streak QSO also maybe using the RAC contest. Start collecting the 13 Colonies stations.
After not finding anything else, I worked VE3AQ in the RAC contest for the main streak. Then I looked for some DX and the 13 Colonies stations. That was like finding a needle in a haystack or actually among the W/VE stations in the RAC contest. That contest sure has grown in the last 20 years. I remember there were usually only a couple dozen USA stations listed in the results and my late ham friend Corb K8UCQ and I usually finished near the top. Nowadays it is a major contest that really fills up the bands. I finally did find the first needle in K2I in NJ on 20 and got him with a single call. So 12 Colonies to go now. I also finally found a DX station in the contest. It was HP3SS (ex-VY2SS). After losing out to about a dozen or more stations, finally I got a K3? and after several repeats, the QSO was completed successfully. -30-
Fri Jun 29 2018 9:06PM - Hard to believe the first month of Summer (meteorological) is almost got already. It looks like July is going to be a real scorcher, at least starting off with upper 80s to mid 90s for at least the next week or so. It reached 90 today on all three of my thermometers which is unusual since at least one is a degree or so different.
The bands seem decent tonight, but no DX. Either the stations weren't hearing me or I was getting beat by the pileup. I'll try again later or tomorrow morning/afternoon. I did work K4EKD in SC. He's been licensed since 1955. Makes me feel a bit younger after hearing that. -30-
Thu Jun 28 2018 8:53PM - Not a whole lot to talk about compared to the last 3 entries about Field Day. It was nice as always to visit with Mike last evening. We got off our FD report to the ARRL after we had our pizza. Then we made some plans for our upcoming train ride on July 7. More about that as the time draws closer. Then we checked the bands for some DX, but didn't hear a single DX station that was workable.
There wasn't much DX around this evening either. However after a nice rag chew with Dan KB6NU mostly about our respective FD efforts, I did find and work one of my regular DX ops of late, Ger HK7AAG. He was booming in at 599, about the strongest I've heard him. Conditions seemed good, but there was just no other DX around except XE2I on 20 and he was weak. Anyway the streak still struggles along deeper and deeper into the upcoming sunspot minimum. -30-
Wed Jun 27 2018 8:32AM - Yes, AM. I thought I'd wrap up our Field Day report early. At least my part. Then I'll see if Mike has anything to add when he visits this evening.
We got together on Thursday to do some planning before we took the trip to Pittsburgh I described earlier in the diary.
We were going to set up my sun shade in the back yard, but after studying the weather forecast for the weekend which was highlighted by one word, RAIN, we decided we'd instead operate from my front porch as we did last year and a few years ago.
Of course to be eligible for the 2B category, we couldn't use my regular antennas. So we did some thinking about that. I did come to the conclusion earlier that I wanted to use my portable jumper inverted vee dipole I use when we go out in the parks. I figured I'd set it up at the very end of my small back yard. Mike wanted to use his bottom loaded whip antenna. We thought we could set it up in my front attic window. That would separate both antennas as much as possible to hopefully prevent interfering with each other. Mike checked out the mounting setup and found the antenna could be attached to the bottom of the storm window since the window swings in horizontally instead of being a regular double hung window and couldn't be used. He also wanted to set up his portable inverted vee along the side of the house as he did last year. That way he could see which one performed best with the least interference.
After figuring out the antenna situation, we put things away till Saturday morning set up and headed off to Pittsburgh.
Fast forward now to Saturday morning. Mike arrived around 9:45AM or so. I had already cleared off the front porch and set up our operating tables and chairs. Although it looked good on the radar with no rain yet, we thought we'd get the antennas set up first of all. It took a bit of time, but all that went smoothly. Next we set up the rest of our gear on the porch as shown in the pictures in Monday's diary entry. We tried out the antennas and they seemingly worked good with minimal interference as long as we weren't too close to harmonically related frequencies.
Once satisfied with the set up, we headed out to Wendy's for our lunch around Noon. Back home again to kill some time till 1800Z arrived.
Things started quickly for me when the starter's gun fired. I made 10 contacts in the first 13 minutes on 40 meters, and it continued on good from there. At the one hour mark I had 42 contacts. After two hours, it was 71 and 96 by 2100Z. It looked like we had a good shot at our goal of 500 contacts. However it started getting harder to find stations I hadn't worked before as time went on. I did try 15 meters during those first three hours, but it was found pretty much wanting. I only made 14 of the 96 contacts there. Ten meters was dead for all practical purposes and I didn't make any contacts there. As it was the whole operation, 40 was THE band. More about me later. Let's see how Mike was doing.
He started off with problems. Although he was getting a 1:1 or 1.1:1 SWR, the reception level was low and stations he called weren't hearing him. I thought about it and it sounded similar to what Tom WB3FAE experienced when we were at Moraine State Park. The KX3 was loading up a bad connector, but not really the antenna. I suggested to Mike that he check the connections around the whip antenna. So he went off to the attic and I'm not sure exactly what he did, but he came back down and said he found the problem. Maybe he can explain exactly what it was when he comes tonight and adds his thoughts.
Now with things working better and the signal levels up to what they should be, Mike started to roll at 1833Z. In looking at his log, it looks a little like the IL QSO Party at the start with 5 of his first 6 contacts being from IL. For the first hour and a half, it looks like 20 was pretty much in short skip almost like 40. There weren't any adjacent states in his log then, but all but a couple were from the same states I was working. As sunset approached, I see longer and longer skip till at 2212Z I see a couple CA (SDG) contacts and at around 2245Z, most all contacts were from west of the Mississippi or from FL. I'll let Mike add anything else about his part of the operation that he wants to in an addendum to this entry later this evening.
Getting back to me, after 2100Z, the QSOs on 40 kept on coming steadily, but a little slower. The hourly totals from 2100Z till bedtime were as follows: 23 25 21 17 20 19 3. All of those were on 40 except for 7 on 80. I wanted Mike to have 80, but he was having a good successful time on 20 and told me I could take it. It wasn't all that good and with my jumper dipole set to 40 which is as low as it goes, it wasn't working all that well.
My last contact before bedtime was at 0314, and Mike's at 0309. Then it was off to bed with no definite plans when we'd start again in the morning.
Looking at our logs, my first morning contact was at 1053Z with K4FC in FL on 15. So it looked like 15 might open up on Sunday as it did last year. Perhaps 10 also. We'll see, but now it was back to the workhorse 40 meters. I did hit 15 again at 1133 and ran off 9 QSOs in 30 minutes. Not great, but at least it looked like 15 would add to our totals. Nothing on 10 yet though.
The hourly totals on Sunday starting with the 1000Z hour were: 2 22 31 15 21 19 17 20. The 15 total was in the 1300Z hour when we took time out for breakfast. 10 meters did open up somewhat and I made my first contact there at 1253 working W4NPT in FL. I skipped among 40, 15, and 10 on Sunday. 15 and 10 fell short of last year, but still provided 73 and 19 contacts respectively to give us a total of 482 contacts, 9 short of last year and 18 short of our goal of 500.
We were happy with the total, but a couple of things held us back. One was a persistent problem with GenLog. For some reason, it took a long time to write the contact info to the hard drive. I remember having that same problem with Field Day before. However it's only a problem with Field Day, not any other contests. The time lag started out somewhere about 70 contacts when I noticed a slight delay till GenLog was ready for the next entry. As more and more contacts were added, the delay got longer and longer and reached around 25 seconds near the end of FD. Mike also noticed the same thing, but his delay was only several seconds. Perhaps because he had fewer QSOs. We'll have to investigate that problem, and perhaps try another logging program next year. Otherwise, GenLog is a fabulous contest logger for simple contest operating. I absolutely love it and use it for all my contesting.
Another couple little glitches held us back a bit. One was a neighborhood dog that got loose and came to visit us. The dog was totally friendly, but we took time to go find the owner. I see a little girl walking him now and then so I had an idea where to look for the owner although I didn't know exactly where they lived. I did run into him. He was out looking for the dog.
One thing that was absolutely great was using N3A instead of N3AQC. Now I (we) know firsthand why all the big contest stations want the shortest call possible. You can really sneak that call in and 'steal' some contacts. I don't mean using improper procedures, but just being 'quick on the draw'. I've already signed us up for N3A for the 2019 Field Day.
Oh, by the way, it never did seriously rain over the weekend. Just a few rather minor showers and no wind to speak of. So we probably could have easily used the sunshade. Oh well.
I think that about covers the operation unless Mike has some things to add. If so, I'll post them right here this evening.
de Mike KC2EGL
This year I decided to try an antenna that I have had for nearly 20 years but have yet to use. It is a BW Apartment Window multiband whip antenna with an adjustable coil. It is advertised to work from 2M to 40M. To my surprise it worked like a charm (after I went back upstairs to connect the counterpoise). This will be my go to antenna for any operations at John's QTH.
As usual operating radio with John was a blast. -30-
Tue Jun 26 2018 6:56PM - Last night it was pictures, tonight will be stats of our FD operation.
I worked 80, 40, 15, and 10. Mike stuck it out on 20.
QSOs by band -
80 - 7
40 - 272
15 - 73
10 - 19
20 - 111
How did we fare with states? Not as well as previous years. We missed 8 this year - AK AZ HI ID MT ND NV WA.
States per band -
80 - 5
40 - 34
15 - 28
10 - 10
20 - 34
All - 42
Here's how we fared ARRL section wise. All is our combined total different sections from our 482 QSOs
ARRL Sections per band -
80 - 5
40 - 48
15 - 31
10 - 13
20 - 45
All - 61
Here's a rundown of the categories we worked. The first number is my total on 80, 40, 15, and 10, the second is Mike's total on 20, the third our totals added together. These are not unique stations since I worked some stations on more than one band and Mike and I worked some of the same stations. It's just a rundown of our 482 QSOs.
Tomorrow is pizza night, so I'll write my comments on FD, then ask Mike while he's here if he wants to add his comments. -30-
Mon Jun 25 2018 3:21PM - I thought I'd do a picture entry today for FD, then tomorrow a story of the operation.
My jumper dipole set up at the far edge of my back yard. No, it's not as close to the house nor the power lines as perspective makes it seem.
The far end of one leg of the dipole fastened to the blue pole.
Mike's whip antenna mounted to one of my third story windows about as far as it gets from the backyard dipole.
My station setup with the KX3/PX3, logging computer, headphones, paddle, and some note paper and pens if needed. Also my fan in the background if needed (and it was at times).
Overall view of both our stations. You can also see our batteries in this picture.
The old man calling some station.
Mike doing likewise. Gee, I wish I was that young again.
Tomorrow I hope to do the write up of our Field Day experience and post it here in the diary. -30-
Sun Jun 24 2018 6:40PM - It was an enjoyable weekend doing Field Day. There were some glitches and some disappointments along the way, as always happens pretty much with any event. I'm not going to write a full report tonight. I may do that during the day tomorrow, but leave room for Mike to add his thoughts in Wednesday's entry when he visits for pizza night that evening.
Briefly, we put in about 16 hours operating with a sleep break Saturday night. Mike stuck with 20 meters and I covered the 80, 40, 15, and 10 meter bands. We made 482 QSOs which was 9 shy of last year. Our rough state total was 41 and we worked about 61 ARRL sections. More accurate totals coming later.
I did get my DX QSO on 30 from HK7AAG in a short break from the FD action.
That's it for tonight. I am a bit tired mentally and also physically after sitting still for so long. -30-
Sat Jun 23 2018 11:35PM - We're in the midst of FD, so no diary entry other than this today. A complete summary of FD in the next couple diary entries. -30-
Fri Jun 22 2018 8:17PM - I tuned to W1AW at 8:00PM (0000Z) as shown in the copy below for the FD message, and they had something else on instead. So if I read correctly, the next transmission of the FD message will be at 11:00PM (0300Z). I'll have to try then. Kind of discouraging. Or am I not reading this schedule correctly?
Day Mode Pacific Mountain Central Eastern UTC
FRIDAY CW 5:00 PM 6:00 PM 7:00 PM 8:00 PM 0000 (Sat)
Digital 6:00 PM 7:00 PM 8:00 PM 9:00 PM 0100
Phone 6:45 PM 7:45 PM 8:45 PM 9:45 PM 0145
CW 8:00 PM 9:00 PM 10:00 PM 11:00 PM 0300
SATURDAY CW 7:00 AM 8:00 AM 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 1400
Phone 8:00 AM 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 11:00 AM 1500
CW 5:00 PM 6:00 PM 7:00 PM 8:00 PM 0000 (Sun)
Digital 6:00 PM 7:00 PM 8:00 PM 9:00 PM 0100
Phone 6:45 PM 7:45 PM 8:45 PM 9:45 PM 0145
SUNDAY CW 7:00 AM 8:00 AM 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 1400
Phone 8:00 AM 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 11:00 AM 1500
Digital 9:00 AM 10:00 AM 11:00 AM 12:00 PM 1600
Anyway since the message wasn't there, I tried for and got my DX streak QSO. I first heard DF7MJ on 20, but he didn't hear me. Then I heard DL1REM on 20 and got him on the first try. It is nice to hear Europe on 20 meters after 0000Z again. I hope that bodes well for FD conditions this weekend. -30-
Thu Jun 21 2018 7:53PM - Mike visited today and after we went over some plans for our Field Day operation, we took a trip to Pittsburh. I'll have some pictures of that in a moment.
I had completely forgotten, and I guess Mike did also since he didn't say anything about it, that I signed up just after last year's Field Day for the 1x1 call of N3A for us to use this year in Field Day. I'm glad I was looking at last year's FD diary entry for something else and noticed that. So we will use N3A this year in our 2B operation from my front porch with some makeshift antennas to qualify for that category. I'll have more about that after FD is over. Anyway we do have all our equipment gathered up to assemble Saturday morning. It looks like a very rainy weekend which is why we decided on the front porch instead of a sun shade in my back yard.
As for the Pittsburgh trip, we wanted to go take a ride on the "T" which is Pittsburgh's light rail/subway system. It had just been built when I was winding up my job in Pittsburgh, and neither Mike nor I had ever ridden it before so we decided to go on a joy ride today.
That's the platform on the North Side that we started from.
That's the trolley/train on which we rode.
The control compartment with the conductor seated behind the pole and console at the left and you can see another train coming in the opposite direction.
A map of the RED LINE route we took. The one on the left from the starting platform to the big South Hills Village shopping mall where we stopped off for a bit then took the ride back to where we started.
Picture of Mike standing between the rails.
And me standing between the rails.
It was another great day with Mike as usual, and now I'm looking forward to our FD venture on this weekend. I wonder if we can top our 491 QSOs from last year. We should since Mike had to miss the first few hours of FD then because he had to work. This year we'll both be there for the full session.
No DX this evening. I only heard ZW18FIFA and a couple DL stations, none of whom heard me calling them. Mike and I also listened late this afternoon after we got home and didn't even hear any DX then. Kind of odd with the great propagation numbers of SF 82, A 3, and K 0. But then actual conditions are not locked into those numbers by and means. -30-
Wed Jun 20 2018 8:18PM - Both my DX QSO for the 20th and the 21st came quickly today. I turned on the rig not long after I got up at 1150Z or so. It was 1200Z when the rig came on and showed a peak at 10117 on the PX3. I tuned to the peak and it was KP4TF whom I immediately worked I think on my second call if I recall correctly. Then this evening the rig came on at 0000Z and showed a peak at 14015 just where XE2I was last night. It was he, and I settled down to see how long it would take to work him if I could get him at all which I couldn't do last night. Surprise! I got him on my very first call.
Thinking about those two QSO, I give all the credit for finding the stations to my PX3 panadapter. Without it, I might still be listening to find a DX station. Thinking some more, actually the panadapter is the only concession to any of the modern facets of ham radio that I use differently from how I did it in the 1960s.
Disclaimer: I have nothing against anyone who does use all the modern conveniences of ham radio. I just don't do it that way myself. Let's talk about some of them. I'm sure I'll forget some, but here goes.
Spotting. I much prefer to find stations myself and not have other folks point them out to me. Unless you count the very few times a ham friend told me he just worked so and so a few minutes ago, and I tried to see if I could get so and so, I have never used spotting to get any of my 90,000+ QSOs. Actually I can only think of a couple - V51AS and OD5ARMY. I'm sure there were maybe a couple more at most, but that is it.
Reverse Beacons. Actually I'm not even sure how they work. I think somebody posts somewhere that they heard you, and other folks check the posts to see if they want to try to work anyone posted there. Don't quote me on that. Anyway it sounds kind of like just a variant of spotting, and if so, I'll never use it for the same reasons.
Skimmer. Just a panadapter that identifies the station for you. I much prefer to tune to each peak and listen to hear who it is myself rather than have some piece of software ID for me.
Keyboard keying. If I want to type something to someone, I'll use a letter or an email. For CW, I'll use a straight key, bug, or keyer.
Memory keyer. Well I guess this may be another concession. I do use the memory feature in the KX3 to call CQ for me, but only when getting answers is slow, and I could be using the time to do something else in the shack instead of calling CQ manually. That's it for memory keying. I still send all contest exchanges manually, along with any other type of sending.
Computer logging. I do use this for contesting for two reasons. As I age, my writing and printing gets sloppier and sloppier to the point where if I'm in a hurry, I have trouble reading it later. The same with dupe checking. I used to be able to dupe check in my head easily up to a few hundred QSOs, but as the memory slips away, it gets harder and harder to dupe check after a few dozen QSOs. Especially with so many short and similar contest calls these days. Was that N1BT or NB1T or KB1T or K1TB I worked before? My computer knows, but I don't.
Other digital modes. I have no use for any but the original digital mode - Morse Code - and never will. Morse Code requires the use of my brain while the other modes downplay the brain in favor of the computer doing the work. I think just like the body needs exercise, the brain needs it also, and this is one way of getting the exercise.
Copying code via computer. This pretty much goes with the previous comments. Many years ago, just to learn how it was done, I programmed some software for the old Color Computer (remember them?) that copied Morse. It worked to a certain extent, but was just a novelty and I never used it in any QSOs.
I'm sure there are other modern features that I don't even know about. Even if I did, I wouldn't be interested. So I'll just sum up that for me it's Morse Code copied and sent manually with the aid of a panadapter to quickly scan for signals and a computer to log in compensation for decline in some faculties due to the ageing process. -30-
Tue Jun 19 2018 8:52PM - It cooled off a bit today, but still a little humid. Let's see, the high on my AcuRite remote shows as 84 or ten degrees cooler than yesterday.
The bands were a little better this evening, but still I didn't get any DX. I did hear Ger HK7AAG, but since I just worked him late last evening, I didn't bother him again. I also heard XE2I, but he didn't hear me. Those were the only two DX stations I heard. Hopefully I'll get my DX in the CWT sprint tomorrow morning or afternoon. Or maybe later tonight as I did last night.
I did something a little different today - a sewing project. Although I do sew to mend things, I never made anything from scratch until today.
My late aunt Virginia made plastic bag holders several years ago, and I had about a half dozen of them at one time. However when a friend moved into a new house, I would give them away as housewarming presents. That took me down to just having two left when I gave one away a couple weeks ago. So I thought I'd attempt making one myself. Virginia did them on a sewing machine which I don't have here. So it was the old fashioned needle and thread by hand sewing.
Let me descibe them briefly in case you don't know what I'm talking about. They are basically a tube of cloth anywhere between 1 and 2 feet long and 4-5 inches or so in diameter. There is a handle at top, and elastic at the bottom restricts the opening there so the bags don't just fall straight through. You put the bags in at the top as you get them at the grocery store, etc. and then pull one out at the bottom when you need one for something. Simple, but it sure is a great way to store plastic bags if you get as many of them as I do here. Get the picture? If not, here is a picture of the one I made today as it hangs on the cellar door in my kitchen.
You can perhaps just see a bag peeping out of the bottom ready to be plucked out and used for something. I'm pleased with how it turned out. Sewing the elastic around the bottom was the trickiest and most tedious part of the project. It was fun though, and maybe I'll make some more sometime.
I did learn something though. My aunt Josie was a great seamstress up into her 70s, and I have greater admiration for her now as I certainly noted how my age in the 70s made the simple task of sewing harder with the eyesight and lessened feeling and flexibility in the fingers, etc. It couldn't have been all that easy for her, and she did a lot more of it than I did.
I'm a bit late for my weather readings, so I'll get them, proofread this entry and post it after the readings. -30-
Mon Jun 18 2018 7:57PM - The hottest day of the year so far at 94 degrees on my AcuRite remote thermometer. Probably the official liquid in glass reading will show the same when I get it at 9 PM. It's still 88 degrees. Back with more after my trip to the shack.
The bands are sure not hot this hot evening. I didn't hear a single DX signal from 40 through 17. So I know what I'll be doing part of the time during the day tomorrow. I hope it doesn't take too long. I did work Bill K4VSV on 30 for the main streak though. We've worked many times through the years.
In contrast, last evening my DX came at 0002Z from WP3C on 30 meters. Then I tried some CQs since the DX came so quickly, and worked friend and fellow NAQCC member Bob K2YGM on 30. We had a nice rag chew till the band changed after some 23 minutes. He was telling me about a small loop antenna he recently purchased. I've always thought about trying a small loop especially for receiving as they may be good in reducing some of my local noise. I've used them for receiving AM BC stations as well as LW beacon stations in the past, and they are really good in those activities. I especially like an altazimuth loop that can be tilted as well as rotated. You can really get some good nulls that way, especially if there is only one noise source. Also you can really null local AM BC stations. I remember using one in my apartment in Pittsburgh, and I think the best example of that was being able to null out 50KW KDKA on 1020 deeply enough to pull in WPEO in Peoria Illinois in the daytime. It works best in the daytime when there is little skywave and almost all direct or ground wave to contend with. At night the skywave contributes to changing the polarization of signals almost continuously so you can't get that really deep null then.
Well, I kind of rambled on there, but I really enjoyed my time spent in AM BC and LW DXing. I've forgotten some of the stats exactly now, but I logged something like 1800 AM BC stations in all states but Alaska and some 60 countries. Just for anyone not sure, AM BC means 540-1600 kHz. Of course now the top end is 1700 kHz. The LW beacons consisted of aeronautical and marine beacons from roughly 190 to 420 kHz with some overlapping past those limits. It was also fun listening to the 500 kHz 'emergency' or 'calling' frequency. OK, enough rambling. It's getting close to weather reading time now, and then Roscoe walking time. -30-
Sun Jun 17 2018 7:20PM - Finally some hot humid summer weather. Very nice, as long as it doesn't get out of hand now. As I get older, I'm a little less tolerant of such weather. It still beats the winter weather though. I did a little outside work today, but mainly I've been at the computer with my fan blowing on me. I tied some of my roses to their trellises, and my beefsteak tomatoes to their poles. My Siberian tomatoes are coming along nicely with a lot of little green tomaotoe. The biggest just over an inch in diameter. As you may know, they don't really get all that much bigger than that even when they ripen. The pepper plants are growing at a steady pace. I don't see any flowers on them yet, but there may be some buds. I didn't look all that close today.
I just took a break and went for a short 10 minute walk. I really felt the heat, and now I'm back in front of the fan until it's time to go to the shack and try for my DX QSO. Hopefully it won't take long as it is warmer on the second floor where my shack is. -30-
Sat Jun 16 2018 8:47PM - It wasn't easy, but after trying and failing with about a half dozen DX stations, I finally ran into a persistent op with good ears at HG1FIFA who stuck with me on 40 meters for a couple minutes to get my call right. Thanks, whoever you are.
I'm not sure which is more frustrating. Hearing and calling DX, and having them not hear me at all - or - not hearing any DX at all. Both situations happen to me with the not hearing anyone at all prevailing. It's even more frustrating hearing stations I usually easily work and having them not hear me. That happened this evening with Andy HB9CVQ on 30 meters. He was pretty strong peaking at S7-8, but all I got from him was a tentative 3?. I remember working him on 80 meters back on Dec 10 last year on 80 meters pretty easily at 2352Z to preserve my DX streak. I also worked him again on 80 meters on January 15 this year. Neither time was he very strong, but he worked me fairly easily both times. Strange how propagation works. -30-