Mon May 21 2018 12:38PM - OK, here we go with the pictures. My bandwidth on Windstream is getting close to being filled up because of a lot of picture posting lately. So I'm going to try something different. I'll put the pictures on my k3wwp.com site and link to them from my Windstream diary page. It should work. We'll see.
L-R above that's K3WWP, K3WWP's setup, WB3FAE
That's our little mis-named sunshade. There was no sun, but fortunately no precipitation either. So it didn't really protect us from anything, or maybe birds?
Finally a picture of my jumper inverted vee antenna. Unfortunately as with most antenna pictures, the wire never seems to show up all that well. You can see it sloping to ground against the trees background if you look closely. I also took pictures of Tom's antenna, but they were even worse and not worth posting.
Actually the height of the antenna masts is more than 20 feet. I knew that, but couldn't remember the exact height and was too lazy to look it up. If anyone really needs to know an exact figure, I'll try to find it or measure them. -30-
Sun May 20 2018 6:53PM - Although Tom and I had a good time at Moraine State Park today, the results of the parkpedition were not all that good for various reasons. There was one good hour from about 1538Z to 1630Z when we made 10 QSOs on 40 meters from 6 states. After that, it was like no one was interested in working us any more. CQs on 30 and 20 meters went unanswered.
When we weren't getting answers to our CQs, we tried chasing some DX. That also didn't work out. Finally we found out that Tom was having some kind of problem with his antenna. After some work on that, he was still having problems. We think we did find the problem at last, but too late to take advantage of it. It seemed the right angle connector going into Tom's KX3 was loose internally. When he was taking it off, it felt like something wasn't right with it. After he fooled with it, the antenna tuned much more quickly. I don't want to dwell on it too long, so let me just sum up our thoughts.
We think that the tuner in the KX3 may be just too good. Apparently it was tuning the defective connector to 1:1, and not really tuning the antenna system as a whole. It took much longer to tune the connector than it did to tune the system as a whole after the connector was apparently fixed. It's going to take some more thought, testing, and tweaking to be sure that is the case.
One thing that is becoming apparent and something that we referred to a lot after I first brought it up was that our age is slowing us down. When it seemed it was taking a longer time than usual to set things up, I said ten years ago we'd have been done with this a half hour ago. We used that as a catch phrase a few times during our operation and it is the truth.
We started out setting up my antenna, then our little sunshade. We set up my station and I started making contacts while Tom worked on setting up his antenna. After I made 7 quick contacts, I went and helped him finish his setup. After his setup was finished, I made 3 more contacts on 40 meters. It turned out those were the last QSOs we made. Tom soon noticed his setup just wasn't working right. He called other stations who were at S9 or better and they just weren't hearing him. That was because of the problem I described earlier.
Being at Moraine State Park near a hiking trail, we had several people stop by and ask what we were doing. It was nice to be able to explain to them about ham radio. Two folks who stopped were fairly new hams.
I took several pictures which still need some editing, cropping, etc. I think I'll wait and do that tomorrow and post them in tomorrow's entry.
I did get an email from someone who was interested in what antennas we were using, so let me describe them here, then they'll be in the pictures tomorrow.
My antenna was a simple inverted vee jumper dipole mounted on a ~20 foot mast. By closing/opening little slide switches in the antenna wires, it could be set for 20, 30, or 40 meters. Tom's was an end fed flat top random wire with a counterpoise. The ends were mounted on ~20 foot masts similar to mine.
All in all a good day with some disappointment along the way. We're going to do it again to try to have better results. That will be sometime after Field Day.
The weather today was just about perfect. It was cloudy and with temperatures in the upper 60s with very little wind, it was neither too hot nor too cold, but just about right.
To close, for anyone who is reading this and worked us, our grid square at Moraine was EN90 and the POTA for Moraine is K-1387 and for the North Country Trail which was right next to our setup is K-4239. -30-
Sat May 19 2018 8:34PM - I had written an entry saying I was still waiting to confirm our parkpedition for tomorrow (Sunday). Just after I finished I heard from Tom WB3FAE via telephone and we are go for launch, er for the parkpedition. It will be from Moraine State Park near Butler PA. We'll start around 11AM (1500Z) and stay as long as conditions warrant. We'll operate two of the following frequencies at a time depending on which two seem best - 7039, 10115, 14059. We'll use the NAQCC club call of N3AQC.
At least I've got my DX streak QSO in the books from HK7AAG on 30 meters. It's interesting how easily he copies me when it isn't that easy to work other stations from that area. -30-
Fri May 18 2018 8:56PM - The Good Days, Bad Days alternating pattern seems to be continuing. This morning and afternoon had some really poor conditions continuing from last evening. Finally I did manage to work OT70TLS again on 20 meters, but it wasn't an easy QSO and I appreciate the op sticking with me to finish the QSO.
This evening was much better. I was at the neighbors having some chocolate chip cookies and didn't hit the bands till a little past 0015Z. Then it only took a couple minutes to get a nice rag chew with Brad KR8P on 40 meters. Then not long after the rag chew I got TI8II on 20 for my DX QSO. I also heard TA3D at about 569 on 20. I tried him a couple times with no luck, and didn't pursue it any further since I alread had my DX QSO. Still it was nice to hear Turkey again. Oh and R5ZZ was also good on 20. Actually both of them worked TI8II before I did.
Oh, Tom and I decided to postpone our parkpedition till Sunday because of a pretty good chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. More in tomorrow's diary. -30-
Thu May 17 2018 8:38PM - I said I'd talk about the sprint last night, so here goes. My two alternate goals of operating for 30 minutes or getting 10 QSOs almost coincided. I got #10 just a minute or two before 9PM or the 30 minute mark. However, instead of quitting, since conditions were good and I was starting to get regular answers to my CQs on 40, I decided to hang around a while longer. I had started out on 20 meters where I got my first two QSOs in about 15 minutes or so. Then came to 40 for 8 QSOs in 15 minutes.
OK, we're into overtime now. It lasted for 23 minutes for a total of 53 minutes. In overtime, I had a steady stream of QSOs at a rate of about a QSO per 90 seconds. When I quit at 9:23PM, I had a total of 26 QSOs in 16 SPCs. I was a bit hesitant to quit since if I maintained that rate for the full two hours that would have been around 55-60 QSOs. However I did promise my neighbor I'd take Roscoe out at his regular 9:30 walk time instead of making him wait another hour since I really wasn't all that into the sprint before it started.
It was fun running stations like that, and maybe next month, I will just decide on doing the full two hours. Or maybe not, we'll see.
Tonight the bands were in horrible shape. The worst I've seen in a long while. When I first turned on the rig, it looked like it was maybe on 15 meters from the lack of activity. However, it wasn't 15 but 40. I thought to myself, oh oh, this isn't good. I did manage to work K9YII on 40 about 15 minutes later for the main streak. Not a sign of any DX though on any band. So as is happening more and more lately, it will be the morning or afternoon if the DX streak is to survive.
I haven't said much about this, but Tom WB3FAE and I are thinking of doing a parkpedition from Moraine State Park this Saturday if the weather cooperates. However right now it doesn't look all that good with showers and thunderstorms predicted. Stay tuned for an update in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Wed May 16 2018 8:10PM - Well, tonight I was able to get XE2I, unlike last night. It did take a few tries and a couple repeats when he did finally hear me, but that's good enough to keep the streak going as we slip further toward the bottom of the sunspot cycle.
It's our NAQCC sprint tonight. Since I retired from active duty in the NAQCC, I seem to be losing interest in the club events. I've not done the past couple months challenges. Tonight I plan to just either try for 10 QSOs or quit after 30 minutes, whichever comes first.
I'll talk about how I fared with my sprint plans in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Tue May 15 2018 9:19PM - It's been a long time since: 1. I went to the shack at 0000Z and didn't get a QSO until past 0100Z. 2. Neither XE2I nor HC2GRC heard me at all when I called them.
I just couldn't get anyone to answer my CQs nor could anyone hear me answer their CQs for a full hour and 5 minutes until K2TPZ finally answered my 40 meters CQ. Both XE2I and HC2GRC were pushing S7 to S8, but other than a couple plain question marks from GRC there was no sign either was hearing me on 20. At least the main streak is intact and hopefully tomorrow morning or afternoon will yield a DX QSO.
I had a busy day today, and I was going to talk about it a bit, but it's now almost time to take Roscoe for his last walk of the day. So I'll just highlight the day. I paid my second half of the month bills first this morning. Then I cut my grass which was almost a foot high in spots after all our rain of late. I did some shopping and other usual things. I fixed up a Craftsman grass trimmer I bought at the Ol' Station Marketplace last week. Then after the rain stopped and the grass dried, I tried it out. It's a bit heavy and a bit of a beast to handle, but it works well. I found a manual for it on line, and I'm glad I did. I found out it has a totally different line feed system. Squeezing the on/off switch for two seconds feeds the line out about 3/16 inch, and you can repeat that until it is the desired length. Or there's a button on the reel you can push and pull the line out manually. I think I'm really going to like it and I think it will last longer than others that I've had.
Well, off to walk Roscoe now. -30-
Mon May 14 2018 8:53PM - A while ago I mentioned the DX streak was becoming like a scavenger hunt. Another way of putting it is being at the right place at the right time. There were a lot of wrong times today when I found the bands pretty much devoid of any activity, DX or domestic. Finally though I did hit the right time and place. 1712Z and 20M were they. I found and worked David XE1XR, and as soon as we signed, he disappeared. So apparently I just made it.
This evening it was a different story. I ran into some weird (good) conditions. All three bands 20, 17, and even 15 had good activity with both short and long skip. Seemed in a way like sporadic E skip. I didn't have a lot of time to explore as the conditions seemed to go away within a half hour or less. Europe was good on 20 with OT70TLS and a couple others. Latin and South America were good on all three bands with Mexico, Colombia, and among others, El Salvador on 17 - TG9ADM whom I worked for the DX streak QSO.
I had a pretty busy day today in between raih showers. I did a little shopping and my big project was fixing my downspout which was clogged with maple seeds and leaves among other stuff. I had to drill out the rivets to get the elbow apart to clean it. I used screws to put it back together so it will be easier to take apart when it needs cleaning again. Of course it didn't rain again so I could see if I got it all cleaned out. I'm sure we'll get more rain this week though.
Now it's weather reading time again. Gosh, that comes around quickly.
Oh, I added a new poll today. I hope you'll cast your vote. I only got 25 votes for the last poll. -30-
Sun May 13 2018 8:52PM - Conditions poor again this evening for DX, and not too great otherwise either. Interesting that the German RTTY on 30M was the strongest I've heard in a while, but only two ham stations heard on the band, one too weak to ID and one of the FOC SE stations. So I'll be looking for DX in the morning or afternoon.
Not much else of interest today. My mother is deceased, and I'm not married, so nothing to get excited about Mothers Day.
About time to get the weather readings. We had some heavy rain and thunder showers today. They didn't last long, but looking out my window at the rain gauge, it looks something like 3/4 to 1 inch or so. -30-
Sat May 12 2018 8:08PM - Another mini-milestone for the DX streak when I worked OT70TLS on 40M at 0002Z this evening. That marks day # 1,900 in a row of working some DX. The next real more notable milestone will be 2,000 days sometime in August. Wonder if I'll make it? OT70 is also a nice new prefix for my WPX collection. The last time I updated my totals back in February (gosh, I've been lax in updating things lately), I had 2,885 prefixes worked and 2,444 confirmed (card or LoTW or eQSL).
It was a cool day today, but I did get in some walking and some yard work in between some showers. I pulled some weeds and maple tree sprouts from under the bush in my front yard. I also deadheaded my tulips. I counted 54 of them so they divided themselves quite a bit since I manually divided them for a total of 18 a few years ago.
Other than that, I did some work on my genealogy and also on my grid square totals. I just love doing things like that which involves working with stats of one kind or another. -30-
Fri May 11 2018 8:51PM - Conditions continue poor. No DX heard at all this evening. The regular streak QSO came easily though from Ted KG6AJH in VT on 40M. The CQ-M contest is this weekend, so that may make picking up a DX QSO the next couple days easy. Oh boy, I hope I didn't jinx things by saying that.
I've been involved in a project the past few days now that I can't say more about yet. However if it does come to fruition, I am going to be extremely happy. It will change my life for the better. That's all I can say about it now. If it does happen, you'll probably hear more about it than you want. HI End of teaser. -30-
Thu May 10 2018 8:34PM - Well now, that was different. The bands seemed really poor this evening - no, that's not what's different. HI I thought I wasn't even going to get a regular streak QSO, let alone a DX streak QSO. I tried CQs on 30 with no luck, then 40 with the same non-results. I looked at 20 and 17, neither of which looked promising. So I went back to 30 even though it was and had been totally empty and called CQ again. After a few tries, I got an answer, and it was Ger HK7AAG this time answering my CQ instead of vice versa. So both streaks were covered with that one surprise QSO. Thanks, Ger.
Other than that is was an ordinary day with some walks, some genealogy work, and other usual things like walking Roscoe. He and I sat on the swing for over a half hour this evening.
I guess that's about it for this entry. -30-
Wed May 09 2018 8:46PM - Once again it was 17 meters to the rescue. There were 3 or 4 good signals on that band this evening as even with the decreasing sunspots, it is staying open longer in the evenings with the greater amount of daylight. Tonight I worked XE2V in La Paz, Mexico pretty easily. He was about 579 and gave me a 559 after I repeated my call a couple times.
I think the warm weather is finally here to stay, so I fixed up a couple of bean poles this morning and planted out my speckled butter bean seeds which I soaked overnight. Then since it was so nice out with bright sunshine and temperature around 80 or so, I decided to put out my Siberian tomato plants as well. I had tilled the soil a day or so ago in preparation. There is no way I will have ripe tomatoes in May as I have had in previous years, but there are very tiny buds on the plants so if the weather cooperates, I probably will be eating garden tomatoes at least before the end of June. Now I've got to get the pepper plants to grow a little bigger before I put them out. I'll probably also plant some pea seeds. I think I have some from last year or I may just buy a new pack. It sure is great to be working outdoors again. It seemed for a while like this might be another year of no summer as it was back in 1816. That was an interesting year. Of course I wasn't there then, but I've done a lot of reading about it.
Speaking of weather, I see it's almost 9 o'clock, so I better finish my site updating and get the weather records for today. -30-
Tue May 08 2018 9:12PM - Remember the song "Good Times, Bad Times" by Edie Brickell? I first heard it via a video that came as a demo with one of the versions of Microsoft Windows. Windows 98, maybe? Anyway it reminds me of band conditions lately. Over the past few days, it has been Good Condx, Bad Condx. Tonight being in the bad phase. I even had trouble getting my regular QSO. It took 45 minutes of trying before KB0HXL answered my 30 meters QSO. Then we had a solid 18 minute rag chew. So were conditions really bad or not? No DX at all. I did hear a pretty strong HK6J on 20, but he wasn't hearing me or anyone else answering his CQs. So it looks like I will have to use the CWT sprint tomorrow morning or afternoon for my DX. And that wraps things up in a nutshell as far as conditions go.
I got rather a thrill and then a disappointment this evening. I've mentioned Penn State's Weather World program that I watch eveny night. They take picture submissions from viewers, and I sent in the picture of my tulips that you see a couple entries down here in the diary. Well, they used it tonight, but I missed getting a screen dump or video of it. Weather World airs twice back to back. I was over at my neighbor's and missed the first airing. When I watched the second airing there was my picture at the first break, but I wasn't ready to capture it. In fact, I really didn't even think they would use it, let alone so soon. Had I watched the first airing, I could have prepared for the second airing, but..... Oh well, at least I did get to see it anyway along with all the other viewers. I hope they all enjoyed the picture.
I've gotta run now as I'm running late because of the marathon calling CQ with no answers, then the long rag chew once I did get an answer. -30-
Mon May 07 2018 9:09PM - My day today consisted basically of three activities.
1. Trying to get a DX QSO.
2. Working on my genealogy.
1. It was a real struggle to get that DX. I never even heard a weak DX station, let alone one I could have worked, until past 2030Z. The bands were pretty much dead with the poor propagation conditions. I even only heard a few domestic stations and they weren't strong. Finally I did hear PV8ADI on 20, but much below his usual strong level. I did manage to connect, but he had me as K3WJP and never did send a corrected call, so I didn't log him. He doesn't seem to have the patience of other operators like HC2AO. I mention him because Alex was operating HC2GRC today, and I did work him. He took the effort and time to get me in the log correctly. He gave me a whopping 229 RST which says just how poor conditions were and how good an op he is. Thanks Alex for saving the streak.
1a. By contrast it was pretty easy this evening. First I had a good rag chew with Ted AE8G in Pensacola, FL in which he told me it was even a cold winter down there and he lost his garden to frost/freeze. Then with that streak secure, it was on to looking for DX. I found it in of all places, 17 meters. I think KP4TF just started calling CQ and wasn't getting any answers nor was he hearing me at first. I persisted though as I knew he was strong enough to work. I think it was on the fourth try he heard me and after a couple repeats, the DX streak is now at 1,895 days.
2. I'm approaching a total of 2,000 blood relatives in my family tree now with mainly the help of two great web sites, Find a Grave and Family Search. It's really interesting seeing how everything falls into place in the whole picture of things. Also challenging to try to figure out some of the relationships. That becomes harder the further back in time you go. I'm really enjoying it, and spending a lot of time each day working at it.
3. After we got through some showers, the weather turned really nice, and I took 3, or was it 4, long walks today. That really felt good. Not only for the exercise, but just getting out in the fresh air again after the never-ending long winter and cold early spring. -30-
Sun May 06 2018 8:40PM - Poor conditions this evening. I did manage an easy QSO with Hal WB4AEG down in GA on 30 meters, but other than that, the bands were quite dead with very few signals, even on usually very busy 40 meters. Not a single DX station heard. There were some geogmagnetic storms at the G2 level today which probably accounts for the poor conditions. There are supposed to be some G1 storms tomorrow so it may be rough getting the DX streak QSO again. But I'll certainly give it a try.
Not much going on today. It was a bit chilly again with some rain showers, so it was mainly an inside day. Most of my tulips have shed their flowers already so after the rain, I did pick up the fallen blossoms, then went for a walk. That was earlier this evening.
I'm getting my laundry done now, so I'll have the day free tomorrow to do whatever. I have been doing a lot of house (spring?) cleaning the past few days. Maybe I'll continue that tomorrow. -30-
Sat May 05 2018 8:12 - Each day for the past few days now, I am so grateful for being able to go outside without having to worry about s#$w, ice, and cold. It is just so wonderful beyond words. Over the past couple days, I've finally put away my winter coat, gloves, scarf, balaclava, boots, etc. It tires me out just listing them. Hopefully it will be well into December at least, before I have to dig them out again. I also turned my furnace down to the point where it sholdn't be coming on again for a long while. Finally, I got out my fan for when the wonderful really hot humid days come along.
Ange finally unburied his fig trees, doing the last few today. I can't recall him ever having to wait till May to take care of that task. The lawn and garden care company across the street here has also finally gotten into high gear after waiting out the long winter and cold spring. One sort of negative thing is that the grass is growing like crazy and has already had its first cutting. That's very late in the year for that event also. It sure beats shoveling that white stuff though - by a long shot.
All those events really buoy up one's spirit. I just feel so much better mentally, emotionally, and even physically now that I don't have to deal with winter weather. It's wonderful. Oh, I think I already said that, didn't I?
Even ham radio, especially DX seems to have picked up now that the great weather is here. I think that's mostly because of the Sun now activating the Northern Hemisphere more now that our hemisphere is pointing more directly at the sun again. Those longer hours of daylight really make a difference especially in keeping the bands open for DX later in the evening again. I got my streak QSO quickly again tonight. I think there has only been one day in the past couple weeks now that I didn't get my DX in the 00 or 01Z hour. -30-
Fri May 04 2018 8:38PM - A couple entries ago, I promised some pictures, so I'll make good on that tonight since there isn't really much to talk about.
The tulips in my back yard.
Tail-end of a beautiful sunset this evening. I was on the air for the main phase.
One of the many many trees around town that put out their white blossoms the past few days.
Thu May 03 2018 8:19PM - Somewhat of a coincidence tonight, I think. My DX QSO came from HC2GRC on 20 meters at 0006Z. A couple days ago in checking my LoTW verifications I had to reject one from HC2GRC back in the CQWW or ARRL DX test. When I checked the date and time, I had HC2AO logged then. Now GRC is the Guayaquil Radio Club, and I know Alex HC2AO operates from there. When I worked AO in the contest, the keying didn't sound like Alex. Tonight it did sound just like Alex. So something to think about.
Oh yes, you can recognize some hams from their keying, and that doesn't mean bacause it is sloppy. There are just very tiny millisecond(?) differences in letter spacing, dot length, dash length, dot/dash ratio or other little nuances that allow the sensitive ear to identify someone before they even get to sending their call letters. I think two of the most distinctive are KW7D and WB6BEE. I can ID their keying well over 90 percent of time. Perhaps closer to 100 percent for KW7D. There are a couple others with keying similar to WB6BEE. A funny thing about that is that Chas K3WW and I have virtually identical keying. No wonder we get mistook for each other now and then, although Chas is almost all the time stronger than I am.
If you've never noticed that about keying, try paying attention more and you'll see what I mean. It helps if you can easily copy QRQ CW solidly. Then you can pay more attention to the nuances of slower speed CW since you can easily copy the content of what is being sent. Just another of the many fascinations of the wonderful original digital mode - Morse or CW. -30-
Wed May 02 2018 8:10PM - The time stamp often gives a clue to how I fared with my DX streak QSO. The fact that it is at 8:10PM tonight means I got the streak QSO quickly, in fact at 8:01PM (0001Z) from HB9CVQ on 30 meters. He was having trouble getting QSOs when I found him. It took several repeats for him to get my call correct and then the RST I sent correct. While I was logging him he tried a few more CQs with no success and QRT. That's a general rule with the time stamp on these entries. The closer to 8:00PM it is, the more likely it is I got my DX quickly and then QRT as I did tonight.
It was summer again today, even more so than yesterday with a high of 87 on my remote unit. So I was outside quite a bit. I walked around town this morning and took some pictures of the various trees and flowers in bloom. Maybe I'll post a couple tomorrow. My dad always said the trees in spring with their blossoms were much prettier than the fall colors of trees. One reason was the season that followed each. He disliked winter as much or more than I do, and the spring colors heralding the coming of summer pleased him (and me) much more than the fall colors and what they presaged.
I picked what must have been a couple hundred or more maple tree sprouts out of the cracks in my brick sidewalks today. I heard somewhere a long time ago that a single maple tree can produce around 100,000 seeds. I really believed that this year. I don't think I've seen as many sprouts as this year. I just checked the Internet on Internet Explorer and a Wikipedia article says red maples around a foot in diameter have been known to procude a million seeds in a season. However they also say red maples between 2 and 8 inches in diameter generally produce between 12,000 and 91,000 seeds in a season. Wonder who had to count them to get those figures. I know, I know, I'm sure they counted a small sample, weighed the sample and converted the weight of all the seeds from the tree to a number of seeds. At least that's how I'd do it. -30-
Tue May 01 2018 8:53PM - OK, what happened to spring? We pretty much went from late winter to early summer the last couple days. Actually today itself since the low was 34 this morning and the high 82 not more than 8 hours later. We don't often get a temperature range that high in a day. The highest range in my records here is 53 degrees. That was back in April 1985 when we had a low of 32 and a high of 85 on the 18th. We've also had a handful of days with a range of 52.
I guessed the April departure from the mean normal temperature would be around 5 degrees below normal. I was in the ballpark, but not right on base since it was 2.9 degrees below normal. The maximum was 4.8 below and the minimum only 0.9 below. Still that made it the 8th coldest April in my records going back to 1959. According to the Penn State Weather World show, it was in the top ten coldest for the state of PA as a whole and those records go back to the late 1800s.
Well, no DX this evening (yet). I may have to assist the aid of the CWT sprint tomorrow to keep the streak going another day. -30-
Mon Apr 30 2018 8:18PM - A busy day with all the end of month chores, but I have them almost all done with a couple exceptions. I still have to put the April weather data into my Microsoft Excel weather spreadsheets. I'll do that either later tonight or tomorrow morning. I suspect April will wind up somewhere around 5 degrees below normal, but that is a pure guess based on nothing more than how it felt all month. A few warm days should have offset the bulk of the other days to keep it from being a bigger departure.
It was a nice day to close out April with a high just missing 70 on my remote unit here. Just nice walking weather - no precipitation of any kind. I forgot to mention that we had some extremely light s#$w yesterday. You had to look at it against a black background to even see it. Still that was very late in the season for any kind of s@#w here. We have had some in May, but few and far between. Only one time comes readily to mind. We got some that accumulated in 1966 sometime in the first week, if memory serves, and it is becoming a poorer servant as I get older.
I got one day closer to 1,900 days when I hit day # 1,888 in the DX streak quickly this evening at 0010Z by working XE2I on 20 meters. That also started off month # 63 of the streak. -30-
Sun Apr 29 2018 8:53PM - It was nice to get my DX QSO this evening since tomorrow is my day for all of my last of the month chores. Now I can get them done without having getting a DX QSO in the back of my mind. As I get older, I find it gets harder to multitask in my brain. So I can concentrate on the EOM chores and hopefully get them done fast and accurately. I'm noticing a lot more little mistakes creeping into things that I do lately. It's not a good feeling, but it comes with aging, I understand and am finding out firsthand now.
I also had a nice chat with NAQCC member and regular diary reader Walt KB1M. Of course I work a lot of members in our sprints and enjoy that, but it's also nice to have a rag chew with those members also and find out a little more about them.
For a while today, it looked like our high temperature was going to be only 41 degrees which may have been a record low maximum for the date. Then in late afternoon it did warm up suddenly and the temperature got up to 50 or so. -30-
Sat Apr 28 2018 8:48PM - Back to chilly weather again today. I saw a friend of mine and his wife when I went for a walk this evening. She said she wondered if we would ever be able to put away our winter clothes this year. I said one day..... maybe in June. Well, it's only about 33 days till June, so that may not be all that far from the truth. Oh, it's 42 right now after falling all day from a high of 57 sometime early this morning. So no outside work today except for sweeping the front porch.
The bands seemed decent tonight. A couple of contests brought out the activity and propagation was good. I got my regular streak QSO in the FL QP on 20 from K4LQ. Then my DX streak QSO in the HB9 Helvetia Contest from HB9CA on 40. He wasn't too strong when I worked him, and I did need a few repeats for him to get my call right. Just after I worked him though, either propagation got better or he turned his beam as he then peaked over S9 as I was logging the QSO.
Time now to go out in the cold for the next to last time to get my weather readings, then one more time for Roscoe's last walk of the day. Maybe I'll combine both and take him a little earlier than usual. -30-
Fri Apr 27 2018 8:09PM - The last time I did this was Dec 27, 2015. What? Worked V44KAI for my DX streak QSO. In fact, I don't even recall hearing him since then. It was an easy QSO on 30M. I beat out a couple other stations to get him only about a minute and a half into the 0000Z hour. It's always good to work someone I haven't worked in a while, especially someone I worked several times, and then they just kind of disappeared. This is the 15th time I've worked V44KAI. I've also worked V44KAO 8 times. Never did check to see if they are related. Might as well do that now while I'm thinking of it. Well, they both have the same last name (Liburd) which I don't think is all that common, and both live in Basseterre. So I guess it's likely they may be related. It's been since August 24, 2013 since I worked KAO.
Another nice day before some rain (and thunder) this evening, so I did some more outside clean up work. Sure is nice to be able to do that again.
Speaking of outdoor activities, I got this email today.
"Hi John, I continue to enjoy reading your diary every day. I haven't seen you talk about fishing in a while. I don't think you had a chance last year to do much fishing. Any plans for this year that you want to share with us readers in your diary? 73, Tim K6ACF"
Well Tim and others, as I get older and not much work has been done lately on making the river more accessible to us shore fisherman, it does get harder for me to get to the river. The only really easily accessible place is the riverside amphitheater and it's usually crowded with fisherman or busy with some other activities. So the bottom line is that I probably won't be doing much fishing this year either unless the situation changes. -30-
Thu Apr 26 2018 8:38PM - I was just wondering how many days this month I got my DX streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. Let me see my Access log and find out. Counting this evening, it's 17. I was thinking it was more than that.
We finally had some more nice dry mild weather today, and I took advantage and continued cleaning up the back yard which I started a couple weeks ago now. My tulips are in full bloom now as you can see here:
My daylillies are well along toward flowering in June or July. My roses are showing their extreme age and seem to be producing fewer and fewer flowers each year. I might have to get a few new bushes next year depending on their showing this year. Anyway it's nice to be getting into the growing season again after a very long winter. -30-
Wed Apr 25 2018 10:54PM - Mike and I had our usual good time this evening on Pizza Night. After the pizza we chased some DX for a while. We both caught FJ/N0KV on 30M. Then we ordered tickets for a train ride this July 7 on the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad. After that a Sherlock Holmes hidden object game on the computer. Then all to soon just a few minutes ago it was time for Mike to head home again. -30-
Tue Apr 24 2018 8:38PM - Propagation was in high gear this evening with strong signals everywhere on 40, many on 30, and a few on 40. I guess 7 straight days with the solar flux in the 70s really livened up the ionosphere as I surmised might happen when I mentioned that in the diary a couple weeks or so ago. I heard a couple DX stations I worked before in the past few days on the same bands, so I passed them up and got my regular streak QSO from Tom in SC W4OIS with a nice 15 minute rag chew on 40. Then I went hunting for DX again. I did hear HC5AI who doesn't hear me at all, ever, when I call him. That despite being able to work HC2AO not that far away just about any time I hear him. One of the mysteries of radio, I guess.
Anyway, I did find a very strong station in a DX mode on 30. I thought he was probably a Caribbean station, so I did wait through a couple QSOs for him to sign his call in case it was someone I worked recently. I was mildly surprised to hear him sign CU2DX at S8-9 strength. When he signed, I sent my call once and beat out a couple other stations to work him easily.
Thinking back, conditions on the Requin were quite good with very strong signals from Europe and Hawaii in the CQMM contest. Then last night I had a 2X QRP QSO with TG9AFX, probably my first ever 2X QRP contact with Guatemala. So actually conditions have been good for a couple of days now. Let's hope they continue.
Now I won't have to depend on the CWT sprint tomorrow for my DX. Tomorrow evening is pizza night with Mike KC2EGL, so after we partake, maybe we can get some good DX. We'll see. -30-
Mon Apr 23 2018 4:17PM - As promised, here are pictures from the Requin subpedition yesterday. I don't think they need any explanation. If you do have questions though, feel free to ask via the email link above.
Sun Apr 22 2018 4:58PM - Here's the story of today's Requin subpedition. By the way do you know that Requin is French for shark.
Mike arrived around 8:00AM, and we chatted for a while before heading to Pittsburgh around 8:15. All went smoothly and we didn't even get lost till we got within a couple blocks of the Requin. What a madhouse we encountered then. It looked like there was going to be a Pirate game coming up with all the traffic and filled parking lots. After making a couple of U turns looking for a policeman to see what was going on, we did find one who was very friendly, professional, and helpful. He gave clear instructions on how to get to the submarine parking lot. He also said the madhouse situation was being caused by a March of Dimes event which was just about to start.
After following his instructions and getting a parking place, it was on to step 2. We started to walk from the lot to the sub, and ran into a dead end because of barricades set up for construction work being done on the Science Center. So we had to loop back again (definitely got out exercise for the day) to find another way to the sub. Although it wasn't supposed to be open yet, there was a narrow opening in the Science Center doors and we went in that way. The inside of the Science also had construction work going on, and we needed an individual from security to help us through the center and finally get to the sub. Whew!
We met Art at the sub entrance and made our way to the radio room. Next came step 3 in our quest. We hooked up the KX3, PX3, paddle, antenna, etc. We then turned on the rig and --- nothing happened. The three of us were puzzled, but Art of course knew more about the sub setup so we let him check into the problem. After a few minutes he found one plug amid the jumble of wiring from the power supply that had come lose. Once that was fixed, we were in business.
Step 4 was getting on the air. As always, there was a surge of activity at first on 40 meters and we worked 6 stations in 26 minutes before moving on to 30 meters where we added 2 more stations. Then as noted in our email promo we moved to 20 meters at 1500Z only to find some wide band noise that was at least 30 kHz wide and centered on our announced frequency. So that right away put any activity out of the question on that band. After that we jumped around between 40 and 30 with only 4 stations on 40 and none on 30.
It became pretty frustrating calling CQ after CQ with not a single answer. After a while we set up a CQ in the KX3 memory and figured out it was calling 3 sets of CQ per minute or about 180 CQs per hour. So the lack of contacts was definitely not due to a lack of effort on out part. It was also very frustrating to say the least to have one of our NAQCC members jump right on top of our frequency and call repeated CQs. There was also some QRM from other sources as well.
Finally with the lack of response we decided to go and hunt some DX instead. The lower portion of 20 was free of the wide band noise so we settled on operating there in the CQMM contest. We made 4 DX contacts on 3 continents. XE2S, F5IN, CO2JD, KH7M. We also almost worked Bert F6HKA.
All in all, kind of an up and down day. It was good to interact with the visitors to the sub as always, many of whom recognized Morse Code as we were sending it. Also as always it was great great to fellowship with Art WA3BKD the caretaker of the Requin. He has an identical sense of humor to ours (Mike is sitting here as I write, and he adds that could be dangerous).
That was quite a bit of writing and it took some time. We also got some good pictures which I will work on and post in tomorrow's diary entry. -30-
Sat Apr 21 2018 8:08PM - Fortunately I got my DX QSO at 0002Z tonight in the CQMM contest from CO2JD on 20 meters. Fortunately because tomorrow is a USS Requin subpedition day and I wouldhn't have had much time to look for DX during the day.
For the rest of the entry, here's the subpedition announcement that I sent to our NAQCC email list this afternoon.
"On Sunday, April 22, the WPA Chapter of the NAQCC will put the submarine USS Requin on the air from its permanent dock near the Buhl Science Center in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA. The operators will be Mike KC2EGL and John K3WWP.
They will try to begin the operation as soon as the Requin opens for visitors at 10:00 AM EDT which is 1400Z. The Requin has only one operational antenna so only one signal can be on the air at any one time. From 1400-1430Z they will operate on 7039 kHz, from 1430-1500Z it will be 10115 kHz, and from 1500-1530Z on 14059 kHz. Note the departure from the normal frequencies to try to avoid possible QRM from SOTA and other operations.
Also don't forget to check up and down slightly from those frequencies if we have to QSY to avoid QRM.
After 1530Z, operation will take place on the frequencies that were deemed most successful in the first 90 minutes. The operation will continue as long as activity warrants, but probably no longer than 2:00 PM or 1800Z. Please keep the exchange of info as short as possible to give as many folks as possible the chance to work the sub. Also keep in mind we are interacting with the visitors passing through the sub if we don't copy you all that well and ask you for repeats.
If you do make contact, please QSL to the NY3EC address in QRZ.net. That is the call of the submarine which will be used for the operation. The NAQCC number of the sub is 8483.
There will be a write up and pictures of the operation in K3WWP's web site diary at http://k3wwp.com/home_ss_diary.html within a day of the conclusion of the operation." -30-
Fri Apr 20 2018 3:00PM - DEAD!! That's what the bands were every time I checked so far today, and with 5 hours remaining to make my DX streak QSO, it really doesn't look like they are going to get any better in that time. So it looks like the DX streak is going to end after those 5 hours barring some sort of a miracle change. Of course I have written a couple prior obituaries for the streak during the past year or so only to have conditions change enabling me to pull out a last minute DX QSO. I have a feeling that is not going to happen today though. I have not heard a single DX station even a very weak one anywhere. Actually only one USA station of any strength at all. I will keep trying until 0000Z, and will amend this entry should the seemingly impossible happen.
MIRACLE TIME came at 2305Z in the form of FJ/AI5P on 10.127 MHz. The bands looked every bit as dead then as they had all day. I did find P43R on 30M and tried him a few times without any luck at all. He was in and out of my S4-5 noise and I probably wouldn't have been sure he answered me or not. Anyway while I was calling, I noticed a stronger peak up the band on the PX3 and tuned up there to find FJ/AI5P calling CQ with no takers. He must have just signed on because a couple evenings ago a similar FJ portable station had a large pileup. It took just two calls to get him in the log and continue the DX streak to 1,877 straight days of DX. I've now worked AI5P portable from the following countries - VP2E, G, CY9, FP, FG, J3, 9Y4, PJ4, PJ2, PJ6, and now FJ. Man he really gets around, doesn't he? Kind of a modern day Gus Browning W4BPD although Gus operated from enough countries so you could get DXCC from him. I don't know where AI5P stands in countries operated from. If anyone knows, let me know. -30-
Thu Feb 79 2018 (That's the weather date) - Thu Apr 19 2018 9:13PM - The calendar date. Yes winter weather continues on at around 25 degrees below normal and s#@w flurries to boot. I'd love to boot it out of here. I watch the Penn State weather show every weekday evening at 5:30PM and they used that Feb 79 2018 bit on the show. I thought it was clever (and accurate) so I 'borrowed' it for the diary.
No DX this evening. It seems like it is alternating lately - easy one evening, none the next. I guess that's better than not having any every evening. I really don't like having to wait till morning or afternoon to get the DX streak QSO.
That's about all the time I have to write an entry. I had a visit from an old friend for a couple hours this evening and I'm running late. We used to walk together in the park several years ago, but he doesn't walk much these days and I hadn't seen him in a couple years now. -30-
Wed Apr 18 2018 8:22PM - It seems my DX of late has been coming with a little story or anecdote with it. Today was no different. This morning I tuned in the CWT sprint hoping to find some workable European stations. I only found two, and both were on the borderline of workability. They were 9A7R and HA9RT. I tried both off and on with no luck. Finally HA9RT came up in strength so I tried again and he came back with a clear K3WWP and the sprint exchange, but he had already dropped in strength again. I sent my info, and I think he acknowledged it, but I wasn't positive. I did log it, but I wasn't happy and decided to wait and try the afternoon CWT. 9A7R was there again, more solid than in the morning. It took a few tries losing to other stations, but I got a solid sure QSO.
Last year sometime I bought an atomic clock from the Ol' Station Marketplace. That clock regularly sets itself with one of the WWV stations, and in checking the time, I've always found it to be within one second or less of the correct time. I say that as a little preview of what comes next. I went to the shack as usual just before 0000Z and found Alex HC2AO calling CQ on 20 meters. It was still 45 seconds or so too early to call him for the QSO to count for the 19th. I waited him out hoping he wouldn't leave before 0000Z. He wasn't getting any answers at all. As 0000Z approached, his last CQ before that ended exactly at 0000Z. I sent my call which he heard at once, and we exchanged signal reports, greetings and thanks. At about 20 seconds past 0000Z, I had my DX streak QSO in the books. Alex is a very interesting person. If you've never done so, take a look at his QRZ bio when you get a chance. He's an excellent operator and one of several who can be counted on to give me a QSO pretty much no matter how bad the bands are. -30-
Tue Apr 17 2018 6:58PM - A bit of an unusual twist to my DX QSO last evening. It took a while to find someone, but finally I found a big pileup on 40 meters and set to figure out if I could hear the station they were chasing. It didn't take long to be very surprised to find out it was Rey CO6RD. I had no idea why he should be so popular. I had worked him 31 times before on several different bands - 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, and 30. I mean the pileup was BIG being at least 2-3 kHz wide. I never did look on QRZ to see if he was doing anything special to be so popular. Think I'll do that now. Back in a moment.
OK, I guess this quote from Rey's QRZ page partially explains it, but still....
"NEW Special Event Station CO6RD. Waving at CW on World Amateur Radio Day The CW Group of Cuba (GCWC) on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), will carry out special broadcasts in Telegraphy on April 17, starting at 8:00 p.m. until 19:59 hours on April 18 (from 00:00 to 23:59 UTC on April 18)"
So that plus being in the first hour of the operation when I worked him (yes, I did break the pile and work him) further explains the big pileup. When I saw and heard the pile at first though I thought it must be 3B7A or some similar rare DX.
As far as working him, that was a piece of cake. At first I didn't even think I'd bother trying, and just looked around for someone else to work. Failing in that, I went back to Rey, studied his pattern and watched who he was working on the PX3. After about 30-45 seconds of that, I set the KX3 to transmit on the frequency of the last peak I saw him work on the PX3. As soon as he said TU UP, I called and got K3?, called again for K3W?, then the next time it was K3WWP 599. I sent my info and broke a big pile with virtually a single call. I love it when that happens. It proves that it can be done with such a simple setup as mine with just a little bit of thinking thrown in for good measure. -30-
Mon Apr 16 2018 1:48PM - It's nice to not have to worry about getting my DX QSO during the day today nor having to take time to do my laundry. Both those things were done last evening. It's just too bad it's a chilly rainy day today so I can't be outside doing something.
Anyway with time on my hands (wonder how that expression got started?), I took a couple pictures of my bug and the weight I added to slow the dots. The first picture here shows the bug without the weight which is in the forground of the picture. On the left is an unmodified barrel type fishing sinker that weighs one ounce. At the right after modification that consisted of simply using a saw that makes exactly the right size kerf in the sinker to let it fit just snugly enough on the bug shaft to hold it on but allow it to be slid along the shaft to adjust dot speed.
The next picture shows the bug with the weight on the shaft lodged just to the right of the weight that came with the bug. The supplied weight is slipped as far as it will go to the left. This particular setting gives me dots about 17 WPM. If my weight is slipped to the right or removed altogether, it will give what I estimate at 22-25 WPM or so. I've never measured it like I did the 17 WPM
It's so simple, there shouldn't be any questions, but if there are any, I'll be glad to answer them.
Of course different bugs have different configurations, so if you want to try the idea, some adaptation may be necessary. For example your bug may have a round shaft in which case you'll have to make a round opening in the weight instead of a slot. Things like that. Also I wouldn't try too heavy a weight unless you are sure that the shaft will support the weight. I've never had any trouble with my bug and a one ounce weight. -30-