2018-03-01 00:00:00 GMT-05:00TILL METEOROLOGICAL SPRING ARRIVES
Wed Jan 17 2018 8:00PM - This has been a trying day in several ways, all of which I won't bother you with. I guess it started when I woke up with a headache which at least didn't last all that long. Then my email was down just when I really needed to check some emails. That went away also, but it took a couple hours.
In the meantime I was struggling to try to get a DX QSO. The morning opening to Europe wasn't all that good and it didn't last long enough for me to make a contact. I did try a few stations but wasn't being heard at all. When that opening ended, I thought maybe the streak had run its course as the bands were pretty much dead all over especially for DX. I kept checking every now and then though and finally found a weak KP4TF on 30 meters at 1824Z. I could barely copy him but I called anyway and he came back with K3WW?. I breathed a sigh of relief and sent my call two more times and the QSO was made and the streak extended.
This evening the bands are even more horrible with virtually nothing above 80 meters and very little on 80 itself. Apparently along with the QSB and QRN there is very long skip. About the strongest signal in the lower 60 kHz or so was YL3CW who was a good S9 with some peaks over S9. However I kept losing out to other stations calling him and finally gave up and went looking for a regular W/VE QSO for the main streak. CQs yielded nothing so I went looking for other CQs and found N5DY whom I worked for a few minutes. He is in Oklahoma, a further indication of long skip.
Now it's about time for our NAQCC sprint. I might be lucky to get one QSO if the bands are still the same. Maybe even no QSOs, but at least I'll get credit for participating and still having never missed one of our sprints. -30-
Tue Jan 16 2018 7:54PM - After yesterday's busy fun day, today was kind of a nothing day. Just glancing out the window every now and then to see the ugly s#$w still falling. I guess we had about 3 inches of new stuff today on top of 3 or 4 from a couple days ago. Hard to tell because of all the blowing, sweeping, and plowing moving it around. I did have it down to a wet sidewalk at one point today with some sweeping and ice melt, but that didn't last all that long. Sigh.
No DX at all again this evening. I did have a nice chat with Dennis K1LGQ though. Tomorrow evening is our NAQCC sprint. Since my final retirement from all NAQCC work at the end of 2017, I'm not really all that enthused about the sprint, but I will get in it at least for a while just so I can keep my record of never having missed one of them. -30-
Mon Jan 15 2018 7:55PM - As usual, a great day today with a visit from Mike (KC2EGL if you're a new diary reader). He arrived just as I was going over to take Roscoe for a walk. He barked at Mike like he used to do. We thought he got over that, but perhaps it was because Mike was in his coat and cap this time and Roscoe hates change or anything different at all. In my house Roscoe still barked and shied away from Mike even though Mike had treats for him. I'm going to jump ahead now in the story. Later in the day on another Roscoe walk, when we came in my house Mike was sitting in the chair he usually sits in and Roscoe is used to that. He jumped right up on Mike's lap and was as friendly as could be.
OK back in sequence now. After I took Roscoe over home from the first walk and gave him his breakfast, Mike and I got started on our plans for the day. The first order of business was getting the dates for our WPA Chapter activities for the year. That meant the hamfests, Skyview visit, Skeeter Hunt, FOBB, and also a train ride and visit to the PA Trolley Museum. Let's see, oh yes and Field Day and our N3A activation during NAQCC anniversary week, plus our annual day before Thanksgiving visit to the Requin. I think that's all, but I better look at the list we made. Back in a minute. Oh, and the Museum Ships on the Air event in June which we'll be operating from the Requin. Then we'll be filling in the gaps with additional parkpeditions, subpeditions, and a sky viewing or two with Mike's scope. Whew, sounds like a busy year. We strongly hope that other chapter members will take part in any or all of the activities also. Of course as each activity draws closer, I'll talk more about it here in the diary.
Next up was a visit to Chili's in the Pittsburgh Mills for a great meal. I had a California Turkey Club Sandwich and ORs. Mike had some kind of chipote and ORs. Of course faithful diary readers knew a meal had to be involved somewhere when the two of us get together. After that we stopped briefly in Best Buy where I got a printer ink cartridge and Mike looked at some phones.
Back home again for an attempt at some DXing. The bands didn't cooperate though. We did hear a pileup working some DX station, but couldn't hear the DX at all. So we moved on to do something we have been wanting to do for some time. Here's a picture hint:
Yes we set up our Tuna Tin transmitter to figure out if we had all the cables necessary to get it up and running. We did, and gave it some on air testing using it to transmit and the KX3 to receive. The tone sounded good on the KX3 with only a very slight chirp almost unnoticeable. We didn't get any answers to our CQs though. In the picture L to R are the MFJ antenna tuner, the MFJ SWR/power meter, my popsicle key, and the Tuna Tin transmitter. We powered it with my old 7Ah Gel Cell, and used my attic random wire antenna. The tuner got the SWR all the way down to 1:1 and we were putting out something less that one watt of power. That all took time to do, but we learned we have a viable setup and will give it some more testing on Presidents Day in February and later out in the field when the weather warms up. We also each have in addition to the Tuna Tin transmitter for each of us, a Tuna Tin transceiver for each of us. We built them a few years ago, but never seriously tested the transmitter till today. We still have to test the transceivers.
Then to close out the visit, another of our favorite things - playing hidden object games on the computer. By now it was s#$ing and Mike wanted to start for home a little earlier than planned.
After he left, it was time for Roscoe's third walk. Then when 0000Z rolled around, I got my DX streak QSO pretty quick from CO5LB on 40 meters at 0009Z. A couple more QSOs with NM1I and K4BAI brought me here to where I'm writing this diary entry. Now to proofread and post it. -30-
Sun Jan 14 2018 9:12AM - Well, that was quick. I headed to the shack about 1403Z, and at 1406Z I had my DX streak QSO for day #1,781. Thanks to PZ5RA on 30 meters for an easy QSO. I got a K3WW? on the first call, repeated my call twice and got K3WWP K3WWP 599 BK. Sent my TU 599 73 and got a 73 back, and that was it. No new letters for the NAQCC challenge, but maybe a new grid square for the ARRL GS activity. Let's see. Yep, GJ25 is #27 for the year overall and #2 on 30 meters. There hasn't been much on 30 when I've checked that band.
If you're working on the GS activity and don't know about it, here's a site recommended by the ARRL for finding GS info. Amateur Radio Ham Radio Maidenhead Grid Square Locator Map. All you do is punch in a call sign and it will spit out a GS in a second or two. A couple of caveats though. If it's a DXpedition station or in some other situations it may spit out the DXpedition station's home location or some other false info. You have to use your brain power to verify the info in those cases which isn't hard to do. Also in my case, I often get time outs or it takes a long time (over a minute, at least) to spit out an answer. If the wait is long, I'll often go to QRZ.com and try to get an answer there. However another caveat in that case. You have to look at the source of the location info. If it says "User Supplied" I consider that accurate. Anything else is questionable. When I first started looking up Japanese stations years ago for 1000 MPW info, I couldn't understand why so many mileages were exactly the same. Then I noticed the info was based on the center of a DX entity if an exact figure for the station was unavailable. Hope that info is helpful.
I've got some spare time now before walking Roscoe. How about a progress report on the dreaded season of winter so clearly exemplified by this picture taken this morning when it was 3 degrees:
1. We're at the halfway mark with 45 of 90 days remaining until spring (see countdown timer above).
2. The sun is now setting 24 minutes later than on December 7.
3. The sun is now rising 2 minutes earlier than on January 4.
4. Combining 2 and 3 means 26 more minutes of daylight than on December 21.
5. The altitude of the sun is now 28 degrees at noon vs 25.8 degrees at noon on December 21.
Here's a picture sort of illustrating the difference in altitude.
A indicates approximately where the sunlight first hits in my living room on December 21. B is where it first hit today. Somewhere around a month from now, it won't make it into the living room at all.
So far it's been a four seasons winter. We've had daily high temperature, daily low temperature, and daily precipitation records set just in the first 13 days of January. Here's a list:
Jan 1, -5, old 3 in 1968,1969,1977
Jan 3, -4, old -1 in 1979
Jan 7, -10, old -9 in 2014
Jan 11, 62, old 60 in 1975,2006
Jan 12, prec. 2.37, old 0.85 in 2017 (also an all time daily record for the entire month of January, old 1.79 on January 6, 2005)
Fortunately no s#$w or ice records. Although Erie did smash all kinds of s#$w records. Too numerous to list here, but you can do a Bing search for "Erie PA snowfall records" and the first hit will list them with videos as well.
OK, enough for today. Come on spring (and better band conditions). -30-
Sat Jan 13 2018 9:08AM - One more day. Yes, another day added to the DX streak. There were several European stations on 20 meters and even one on 17 meters this morning. However, none of them were hearing me and I had to resort to working XE1XR again for my streak QSO. Probably 20 would have picked up a little later, but when I heard David, I thought I'd just go ahead and work him rather than waiting.
Thankfully we did transition directly from rain to s#$w last night without any ice, or maybe just the very slightest trace. For once in my later life I was rather glad to look out the window and see it s@#wing. We also wound up with less s$%w than predicted. I did better than they did. My prediction was in a narrower range than theirs. I said about 3-4 inches maximum after studying the radar, temperature, etc. It was also in their range, but their range was wider all the way from 3 to 8+ inches. I think as in many things these days, too much dependence is placed on what computers say which leads to errors. The human brain needs to be factored into what the computers say. That would lead to greater accuracy.
As an example, when I was doing the cross-checking of logs for our NAQCC sprints, the Microsoft Excel program I used was very helpful in catching most of the errors. However it also couldn't figure out some things. I ultimately had to apply brain power to clean up what it missed. Computers designed by man are still inferior to brains designed by God. They are a tremendous help and time savers, but in the end, brain power must dominate. -30-
Fri Jan 12 2018 7:47PM - So far we've escaped the bad weather with only rain, and a lot of it. I emptied my rain gauge early this evening to avoid the predicted ice, and there was already 2.07 inches of rain in it. It's still 36 degrees here. I just worked K8EHE near Columbus Ohio and he said it was s#$wing and 21 degrees there. He did have some sleet in between rain and snow there. Hopefully we can transition here from rain to s#$w or rain to sleet to s#$w without any freezing rain involved.
I had a tough DX QSO this morning from OT4A. He was within a very few Hz of a strong always present birdie here on 14016. I had to use my best filter that I have - my brain - to pull him out from the beacon. It was even too close for the great filters in the KX3 although had I had a bit more time, I might have tweaked them to pull him out. Anyway I got my DX streak QSO in the books as the early morning 1300-1500Z hours continue to be good for Europe on 20 meters. -30-
Thu Jan 11 2018 9:15AM - I heard a lot of Europeans on 20 this morning, but none were hearing me until.... I got a P? from 7S75AA, but after I sent my call a couple more times he said "QRM QSY". Not to fear, I've got a PX3 panadapter. I watched up the band until I saw a similar strength peak. I tuned the KX3 to the peak and it was 7S75AA up about 15 kHz higher. He worked someone, then I got a QRZ? after I tailended the QSO. I sent my call two more times and he came back with K3WWP 599. I sent TU 599 and not only was the streak extended another day but..... I got a nice new prefix in 7S75, got 4 As for the NAQCC challenge and a new grid square JO89 for the ARRL 2018 grid square activity.
It looks like we have a mojor winter storm setting up for the weekend, so if you don't see a diary entry that means we might have lost power, Internet, or whatever. -30-
Wed Jan 10 2018 7:51PM - The rut keeps getting longer and deeper as the days go by and we move further down the sunspot cycle. I clawed out another DX day for the streak thanks to the CWT sprint this morning when I worked my friend Bert F6HKA. It wasn't the easiest QSO we ever had by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a QSO and that's the bottom line.
This evening I heard PJ7/UT6UD on 40, but he couldn't hear me at all. Then I heard Bolmar HK1MW on 30, but pretty much well into my noise so I wouldn't have been able to tell if he answered me at all, so I didn't call. I guess it will be somebody on 20 meters in one of the morning hours again.
80 meters was generally poor this evening again after a couple good evenings. I struggled for a while, but finally got an answer from Tom W0MFQ in MO. It was a 2x KX3/5W to KX3/5W fairly solid QSO with a lot of the credit due to the great RXs in our KX3s. I just can never say enough good things about the KX3 and the Elecraft company. I'm sure my DX streak would have ended a long time ago without the KX3/PX3 combo.
I updated some stats on my DX streak report in the QRP section of the web site today. It's now current through today, January 10 at 1,777 days. The monthly stats there really reflect clearly the downswing in the sunspot cycle.
I got a chance to watch some more s$%w melting today. A lot of green showed up in my back yard by late this afternoon after being pretty well covered early this morning. Now we have two more warm days coming up before a cold front invades late Friday and brings back some more winter precipitation. -30-
Tue Jan 09 2018 7:55PM - I had some Internet problems yesterday and they caused my site updates to be done intermittently. I think with the Internet back to normal today, I got everything caught up now. If you see something that doesn't look right, please let me know. Thanks.
It was a rather nice day today and I got to see one of my favorite winter sites - s#$w melting and water running down the streets. Not a complete melt yet, but maybe by Thursday when it may be near 60. It was only about 37 today for a high, but that was enough to allow me to break up some ice on my and my neighbor's sidewalks. It was great to see that go and have bare walks again. Here we are 10 (9) days into January already. The end of winter draws every so slowly closer although there will be rough times yet before we reach spring. Sure is nice to have something to look forward to though.
Ham radio? Oh yes, I haven't forgotten about that. However the current conditions are more forgetable than memorable. The past couple evenings have been a bit better, but still not as far as DX goes. I have had some nice domestic rag chews though. My DX for today (9th) came last evening from old faithful PV8ADI on 40. So I didn't have to spend the morning looking for a DX QSO. I guess I will tomorrow morning though. I'm toying of writing an article for the web site about how to try to keep such a DX streak as mine going at different points in a sunspot cycle. If it continues, I will soon be able to talk about continuing it through a sunspot minimum. Actually when you look at the current sunspot and SF numbers, they are not all that far from what we'll see at the depth of the upcoming minimum. -30-
Mon Jan 08 2018 5:57PM - The path to Europe is still there early in the morning on 20M. Most of the time I have a decent pipeline to the Scandinavian countries, but not always. I can often go up and down the bands, especially 20 meters, in big DX contests and easily work virtually every SM, LA, OH, and OZ station I hear even if they aren't that strong. I say that because my DX streak QSO this morning was with SM5CCE on 20M. He wasn't all that strong at S5-S6, but we had a several minute QSO talking about rigs and weather. It's been raining in Sweden interestingly enough while it's been bitter cold here. Kjell is also SM0CCE and we've worked a few times when he was using that call in contests.
The bitter cold broke today. The temperature actually rose during the night to reach freezing early this morning. It did bring some s#$w, but less than an inch. We may lose that over the next few days as it reaches the mid-40s to mid-50s for Wednesday through Friday. That will be so nice to be able to start with a clean slate instead of having the stuff keep piling up. -30-
Sun Jan 07 2018 8:27PM - I can't remember the last time I resorted to 160M for my streak QSO, but I had to do it tonight. There was just nothing on 80 or any higher bands strong enough to even try to work. So I went to 160 and before long I found and worked Mark K1RX in NH easily for a brief QSO. I guess it will be the morning again for the DX QSO. This morning it was DK1NO for an easy QSO on 20 in the 13Z hour. Hannes is a good contester with a good station. I've worked him before in a few contests.
Among the many emails I got wishing me well on my retirement from NAQCC work was one from Tom N3UFJ who very succinctly described my attitude toward promoting CW. I liked it so much, I've now incorporated it into my initial opening statement on the main page of my web site. With his permission, of course.
Out of the freezer into the refrigerator now. It was 9 below this morning, and it looks like, if the long range outlooks are correct, that may be our last below zero temperature this winter. Of course, outlooks are not forecasts, so that could change. Anyway with the less cold temperatures, now we have to deal with precipitation. Tomorrow it starts with 2-4 inches of you know what. But by Thursday it should be in the 50s with some rain. -30-
Sat Jan 06 2018 7:30PM - Still the same old story - miserable weather, miserable band conditions. At least I ran into someone running 200 watts to a (dipole I think he said) with the apex on a 100 foot tower who lives on a 3,000 foot mountain top in the Blue Ridge mountains. Of course that made for an easy QSO on 80 meters this evening with Jack W4TJE. He was 20 over vs. my 569 report and solid copy both ways. Other than that there wasn't much else to be heard at any strength on any of the bands. I thought maybe I'd find someone in the PMC contest on 80 or 40, but no such luck like I had this morning on 20 when I fairly easily worked S53EO in the contest to keep the DX streak going.
As for the weather, it's 4 degrees right now supposed to hit 5 below overnight, but then some good news with a warmup for the next few days until we hit the mid 50s on Thursday. One fly in the ointment and that's a mixed precipitation bag on Monday with the various services predicting one or more of the following - s@#W, sleet, rain, and/or freezing rain. That might even be worth going through as long as the freezing rain isn't bad to get to the warmup. AccuWeather then predicts mostly above normal temperatures for the rest of January which is good but that means a better chance for precipitation compared to these real cold days with only a few light flurries. -30-
Fri Jan 05 2018 9:02PM - Things are getting more and more ridiculous around here. It took an hour and 7 minutes to get a QSO this evening, and that wasn't even DX. It did wind up being a good almost half hour QSO with Butch NM1I. He has a very impressive all Elecraft station. I can't even remember all the gear he said, but it did include a K3/P3 combo with amp and QRO tuner and a KX3/PX3 combo like I have here.
The weather? Bah humbug is the best way to describe it. We haven't been above freezing since Christmas day. The only saving grace is a lack of s#$w. We're heading below zero again tonight for the third time already this year. -30-
Thu Jan 04 2018 7:28PM - I'm not sure which is more depressing, the weather or conditions on the ham bands. I guess it's a tie, and neither look to be improving any time soon. It's even getting a bit hard to get my regular streak QSO, let alone a DX QSO. This morning it was old faithful John ON4UN to the rescue. I wasn't hearing much of anything my first two checks of the bands, and the third check was about the same way when I heard a fairly strong CQ. I figured it was probably a W/VE station, but I listened anyway. It was John peaking around s7/8. He answered my first call with K3?, and on the seond try, I got him and he gave me a 559. That was on 20 which is about the only DX band these days. Oh, I did also hear CO8LY on 17, but he wasn't hearing me at all.
Although it isn't very pleasant, it is at least interesting to see how the band conditions are following the sunspot cycle pretty closely. Actually I think the poor conditions are cumulative. They seem to be decreasing more rapidly than the actual propagation indexes (indices). I remember when I was into seriously DXing the AM Broadcast band years ago, conditions would improve when there was a long streak of ionosphere quietness, not merely the first few days of a quiet ionosphere. I think it's similar with the ham bands, but the other way around. Conditions get worse the longer there is little or no ionospheric activity. Anyway the bottom line is it still doesn't look like the DX streak will go on much longer although I still am eking out some DX each day somewhere, sometime. Hope tomorrow will be another such eking out day as well as the days beyond. -30-
Wed Jan 03 2018 7:20PM - I got a bit of a shock when I looked up PY2ZEA whom I worked last night on 30 meters for my DX streak QSO on QRZ to find his grid square for the ARRL GS activity. That's another call for the world famous contester Villi Hiilesmaa OH2MM OH0MM EA8EA among other calls. I've worked him before on several of his other calls. His list of contesting achievements is AWESOME to say the least. Too many top 10 World scores in big DX contests to count, and the majority of them are #1 World scores. I never knew he had a PY call also. If you want to be impressed, look him up on QRZ. Wow!
I had a contact today with another very interesting person, not on ham radio, but via landline. That was my good friend WY3H Tom Mitchell who as you know is the founder of the NAQCC and former resident of this area now living down in Georgia. He called to wish me well on my second and final retirement from NAQCC work. We also got caught up on some other things since we last talked about a month ago. I miss Tom up here, but as we said at the end of our conversation, at least we can visit via landline or ham radio.
Business as usual (or is it lack of business) on the bands this evening. An easy QSO for the big streak, but no DX. I did hear HK1X, but not very strong and I couldn't get him. So you know what I'll be doing in the morning.
It kind of looks like the bitter cold spell will hold on maybe 3 more days, then moderate possibly for the rest of the month if a couple long range outlooks are correct, and I'm rooting for them as long as the moderation isn't accompanied by the horrible white stuff or even worse, ice. -30-
Tue Jan 02 2018 8:02PM - Finally another day when my DX comes in the 0000Z hour. Thanks to PY2ZEA who made the effort to get me in his log on 30 meters. It was rough, but we made it. It's great to have operators who will take the time and effort it sometimes takes to get a QRP station in their log. All too often, stations seem to have what my friend Mike calls, their "599 Filter" turned on. If you don't blast their eardrums with your signal, you get ignored. Those fellows are not going to get that many stations in their logs the next few years as we go through the sunspot minimum.
This morning looked rough for a DX QSO. Even John ON4UN was weak and a bit fluttery and didn't hear me at all. He was about the only European above my noise level. Finally though XE2I showed up and I got him with one call and a repeat.
I'm having fun with the new ARRL International Grid Square event for 2018. I've made up a special Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track the grid squares as I work them. I've alwaya wanted to do something with grid squares and started a few times, but never followed through. Maybe I'll stick with it this time.
Still bitter cold here. Right now it's let's see.... 10 degrees on both my remote sensing units, one in my shelter in the back yard and one on the front porch. That's much too cold for my outdoor walking, so my floors here in the house are taking a beating as I get in my ration of miles for the day. My neighbor, Roscoe's owner Bruce, took me downtown for my first (second) of the month banking run in his truck. That was greatly appreciated. I do miss my outdoor walks though, but my health is more important as I get older. -30-
Mon Jan 01 2018 6:19PM - These long bitter cold spells really leave not much to do. The only time I go outside is to walk Roscoe, and I try to keep those walks as short as possible so he doesn't get too cold. He does have nice long hair now though, and I imagine that helps keep him warm. Still I can tell his feet get cold walking in the s@#w or on the bare cold concrete. On one walk yesterday he was limping just a tad as we came back up on the porch, but very quickly recovered as soon as we got inside.
At least the past couple days I've kept busy with my EOM/EOY and FOM/FOY things. I think I've got most everything taken care of. The final thing today was putting the weather from December and 2017 in my Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and then printing out hard copies of some of it. December with the mild start and very cold finish wound up just about normal at -0.2 degrees (below the long range average). Fortunately precipitation was just below 50% of normal. It was another warm year overall at 3.7 degrees above normal. 47 inches of precipitation was about 5 inches above normal.
The 54.4 degree mean for the year was the third warmest year in my 58 years of keeping records. Only 2012 at 55.4 and 2016 at 54.9 were warmer. Shades of the 1930s.
My first DX of 2018 came very easily this morning with a single call to IK8TEO on 20 in the 1300Z hour netting a solid short QSO. I had worked Frank a couple times before a few years ago.
The first overall QSO of 2018 came in SKN last evening when I worked Bob KC8MFF on 80M. In about 25 minutes now I'll see what the 2nd day of 2018 holds in store. I hope some DX as I still have a few things to take care of tomorrow.
It seems strange talking about tonight, today, tomorrow, etc. when UTC and local time both have to be taken into account. However I'm sure since probably over 99% who read the diary are hams and understand such matters. -30-
Sun Dec 31 2017 7:41PM - Not much to say tonight except:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Sat Dec 30 2017 7:48PM - With the working of Tom NJ8D at 0012Z, another full year of my streak is in the books. At least the big regular streak. I'll still have to work some DX to finish the year in that fashion. I did hear a strong PJ2 station on 40, but engaged in a long QSO, and from the pattern, I think he answered the other station's CQ, so probably would move on after the QSO anyway so I didn't wait around.
Last night when I worked KP4TF at 0517Z, that was the first DX streak QSO in the 0500Z hour I can recall in a long time.
I hate right now to think of all the end of month/end of year chores I'll be involved in tomorrow. That's always a lot of work, but it has to be done.
I hope to get in SKN tomorrow evening for a bit. However as I say every year at this time, my SKN or more accurately use of CW night is 365 nights a year so SKN doesn't excite me as much as those who literally may use CW only once a year. It is a good idea though, and I'm not knocking it by any means. I just wish those folks who do only use CW once a year would get on the bands more often using CW. It doesn't have to be each and every day like I do, but at least do it a couple times a week or so. If everyone would do that, the bands would sound like they used to many years ago. Wouldn't that be nice! -30-
Fri Dec 29 2017 7:36PM - Of course with the RAC contest in swing, my streak QSO came easily this evening. Hopefully the DX QSO will come easily later tonight or tomorrow morning.
I got a surge of excitement this morning when I heard an OJ station calling CQ. For a fleeting instant I thought I had a chance to work Market Reef, one of only 4 entities I need to complete Europe. Turned out the number in the call was 9, not 0 though. Just Finlad with a special call OJ9X for their yearly Santa event. Still I did work him for the DX streak QSO.
Not much else going on here so I just wish you a Happy New Year in a couple days and close the entry. -30-
Thu Dec 28 2017 7:47PM - I'm going back to Komodo Edit for my html editor. Too many strange things happenning with Bluefish.
Another cold day today and I only went outside to walk Roscoe, and I even hurried him in after he did his business. Right now it's 13 degrees and going down to single digits again.
As usual, no DX this evening. DM500RT was strong on 80, but couldn't get him to hear me. Earlier in the day in the 1300Z hour, I got IP0TRC on 20 meters pretty easily. There didn't seem to be much DX except for him at that time. -30-
Wednesday 27/12/2017 7:35PM - Looks like winter is going to be vengeful this year. At least temperature-wise so far. It's now 12 degrees as I type with a low of 1 predicted. That's not the worst of it. It may not get above 20 degrees until at least the middle of next week. At least there's only a trace of s#$w on the ground and no big s#$ws predicted. But unfortunately that could change as it's hard to predict things all that far in advance in wintertime.
I'm starting a new feature on my web site called Guestbook Adjunct. It's just what it says. It will include info similar to what is posted in the guestbook, but received here via other means like email and letters. I'll always check with the sender before posting anything. I'll be the sole judge of what I post. I've got it started as of now. You can check it out via the "View Guestbook" page in this section.
I'm getting to like the CWT sprints as a source of DX for my streak. Early this morning it was IT9VDQ at 1356Z with a single call on 20. Now as usual in the 0000Z hour, only a couple very weak DX stations heard - too weak to even try working as I probably couldn't tell if it was me they were answering or someone else. -30-
Tuesday 26/12/2017 12:09PM - Mike and I had our usual good time last night. That was the 9th Christmas in a row now we've done our Christmas lights drive. Each year we pick out what we think is the best display. The last couple years now, it's been the same house in neighboring Ford City. So from now on we are retiring our award and will search for a new winner. Actually there is no award involved, but anyway we will pick a new winner.
When we got home, we worked some DX. I got my DX streak QSO from CX7CO on 30 and Mike worked PV8ADI on 40. We also heard a fairly strong OK2PVF (or was it PFV?) on 80, but he wasn't hearing us at all.
If you're a NAQCC member and sent me comments on my retirement as a NAQCC worker, I thank you very much. Paul and I are going to post those comments in the January NAQCC newsletter after we check and get everyone's permission. -30-
Monday 25/12/2017 15:42:29 - Would you believe... a la Agent 86 (Don Adams) the last three days my DX has been from Europe on 80 meters. Unlike the first one or two choices by 86 which were exaggerations, my first choice is true. Today, last evening it was HA8RM. Not quite as easy as the previous two days, but the QSO was made after a few unanswered calls to him. As regular diary readers know, I often say that the low point of a sunspot cycle is a good time for working DX on the lower bands like 80 and 160. Hey, maybe I'll even get some 160M DX sometime during the upcoming sunspot minimum.
Once again this year it was a good Christmas day here, and I hope it was the same there. I had a great lunch with the family next door. That's the family of the parents of Eric KB3BFQ I often mention in the diary. With a collection of parents, kids, grandkids and other relatives, and me, there were 12 of us there. It's always a joy to watch the four youngest kids opening literally dozens of presents. Each one of the four always thanks the gift giver religiously. I think that's great in this day and age.
One more tradition still to come this evening. Mike will be stopping by and we'll go for our annual drive through Kittanning and environs trying to figure out who has the best Christmas lights display. -30-
Sunday 24/12/2017 10:17:17 - Another somewhat of a surprise DX QSO last night. I woke up around 0700Z and thought I'd just check the bands. I found 3 or 4 fairly strong Europeans on 80M. I decided to call SM4OTI since I thought I needed Sweden on 80. As with 9A9A the night before, he answered my first call and I had my DX streak QSO and it is a new band-country on 80. That's 61 entities on 80 meters now plus a lot more confidence in being able to work Europe on 80 meters. That's 22 European countries on 80.
And now as I do each year:
For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Saturday 23/12/2017 6:05PM - I'm using a new html editor, hence the different date stamp for now. I found it while working on the GenLog data program. It's called Bluefish. At first glance it seems to work better for me than my previous editor, Komodo. Time will tell.
My DX QSO last night came as a pleasant shock. I didn't hear any DX in the 0000Z hour, but when I checked later I heard some fairly strong European signals on 80 meters. I picked out one, 9A9A and gave a call. I heard another strong station calling him at the same, and figured he would win. To my surprise though 9A9A came back to me with a K3WWP 599. That may be one of my easiest ever European QSOs on 80 meters. Competition, no repeats from me and a solid short QSO.
I wonder what tonight will bring. Probably nothing and I'll have to wait till morning or afternoon for my DX. -30-
Fri Dec 22 2017 7:35PM - Besides walking for a while in the low 50s temperatures and doing some shopping along the way, I spent a good deal of time on the computer.
I transferred a lot of my genealogy info to my new genealogy program - Gramps. I'm getting to like it more and more. I think it makes the info more easily accessible than the previous programs I have used.
I also did some work on transferring more of my former NAQCC duties to others. Today I spent a good deal of time figuring out how someone with a Mac computer and its spreadsheet program could produce a GenLog data file that would work like the one I produced each month With Windows and Excel. Since I only use Windows here, I had to do a lot of head scratching coming up with something I think will work on a Mac. Still some checking to be done to see if I figured it right. Anyway I got some good brain exercise working on it. I love doing things like that to keep the brain active along with the walking to keep the body the same way. Still age is gradually catching up to me. -30-
Thu Dec 21 2017 6:26PM - I was very close to my projected scenario for our NAQCC sprint. About the only difference was that I did make a QSO and I stayed about 5 minutes longer than predicted.
As for DX today, I got another of those Irish WAW stations - EI22WAW. It was an easy QSO on 20 in the 1300Z hour. It came quickly also, so I decided I'd also try to finish the NAQCC December Challenge. I went searching for a station with a G in the call. It took a while to find, and then a while longer to work TG9ADM. That finished the challenge.
It looks like we have another year long event in 2018 to keep us busy. As explained in this excerpt from The ARRL Letter for December 21, 2017:
"Ready, set, go! The ARRL International Grid Chase 2018 gets under way on January 1 UTC (New Year's Eve in US time zones). The objective of the year-long event is to work stations on any band (except 60 meters) in as many different Maidenhead grid squares as possible, and then upload your log data to ARRL's Logbook of The World (LoTW). Many hams are familiar with grid squares from the VHF/UHF and satellite realms, and everyone lives in one. An online calculator by David Levine, K2DSL, can determine your grid square. Enter a postal address, ZIP code, or a call sign, and the calculator will return the grid square for that location. Each new grid square contact confirmed through LoTW will count toward your monthly total."
Sounds like a lot of fun and definitely something that appeals to my love of statistics. Probably would have been easier back near the sunspot maximum, but I'm definitely going to give it a shot. I always upload all of my QSOs to the LoTW so that part will just be business as usual. Hopefully the activity will encourage more hams to start using the LoTW. -30-
Wed Dec 20 2017 8:05PM - Just 25 minutes to our NAQCC mW sprint. As of right now I envision this scenario. I'll fire up the rig at 8:30, find the bands as dead as they were about an hour ago, listen for maybe 15 minutes hoping to get at least one QSO, and finally saying it's no use wasting my time here and QRT. At least I will have participated and we reward participation more than we do making scores. I'll be happy with that. Tune in tomorrow to see if I predicted correctly or not.
It was very rough getting my regular streak QSO again this evening, but I finally found and worked Bob AK4JA on 30 meters. He also commented about the sprint probably being rough tonight.
It was much easier getting my DX QSO this morning at 1318Z thanks to LY8O and the CWT sprint. Only took a couple calls to get him on 20 meters.
Just in case I do get involved in the sprint past my projected scenario, I'll close this now and get a couple chores taken care of. -30-
Tue Dec 19 2017 8:29PM - Many folks develop the habit early in life of taking notes and / or keeping to-do lists. I never have done that as my memory has always served me well in that regard. However as the years go by, I'm tending to become a little forgetful and wish I had been a note taker. I guess I could start now, or maybe it's too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
Case in point - I had my diary entry tonight planned out a while ago, but I wonder how much of that plan I will remember now. At least I remembered how I was going to open it.
The bands were really poor this evening, or were they just deserted? Of course there was no DX, but that's the norm of late. However there were very few signals showing up on 80 on the PX3, and those that did show up were at the most S9. Usually there are many well over S9 signals on that band. Calling CQ for nearly a half hour yielded nothing and I feared even my main regular streak might be in jeopardy. Finally I went S&P and called a couple stations with no response. Then I found and called N8AFT, and we had a great 30 minute solid QSO. Lane was also running QRP. So going by that, I'd say conditions were pretty good. So which was it, good or bad? During the QSO Lane mentioned he worked for the CSX Railroad which brought back some memories here.
When I was young (yes I was that at one point eons ago) the Pennsylvania, later Penn Central, and still later Conrail track ran right by my house only around 100 feet or so away. I used to love to watch the trains go by, especially when steam locomotives were in vogue. I became curious to know just how many cars were on each train and started counting and logging them. Yes, my love of statistics was born early in life. Everytime I'd hear a train coming (and at that close range it was hard to miss them), I ran to the window or went outside to count the cars. I forget now what the record was, but since I never throw anything out, I probably still have the list somewhere. I'll have to try to find it.
Another thing to do with statistics is genealogy. For the third time in my life now, I've gotten interested in my family tree. Each time I used a different software. First it was Family Tree Maker, then Legacy, and now Gramps. I think I like this latest program best of all. I only got it about a week ago. My renewed interest was brought on by the death of a cousin on my mother's side who was my last first cousin on that side. I think I have only one left on my father's side. The previous programs didn't make it all that easy to get that info, but I think Gramps will. If you're working on a family tree, I'd suggest you give Gramps a try. Just do a Bing search for "Gramps genealogy". It's completely free and open source, another great point in its favor.
One other thing I wanted to comment on, and I didn't forget. I am continually amazed by how many folks I work on the air mention about reading this diary. Lane did so in our QSO this evening, and I always appreciate hearing about folks reading this. I really don't understand why, but it does make writing it worth the time.
Finally, and I think I remembered it all, I found 30 meters to be interesting this morning. In the 1300Z hour, I noticed the German RTTY signal was there albeit not too strong. I also heard a couple European ham stations although not strong enough to work. It's kind of unusual hearing Europe at that hour on 30. Could be because I just am not on the air in that hour all that much. But when I am, I usually check 30, so I don't know. Let me just see how many EU stations I've worked, say from 1300-1500Z or so on 30. Back in a minute. That was quick and easy with my Microsoft Access log. None! Of 397 European QSOs on 30, the latest UTC time was 0547 and the earliest was 1949. Nothing in between. I'm not quite sure what to make of that. I'll have to think about it some more. -30-
Mon Dec 18 2017 7:39PM - A nice mid-December day today. It was wonderful to see so much of the s#$w melting away as the high reached 42 degrees. It's predicted to be several degrees warmer tomorrow so the ground may wind up pretty bare so we can have a lovely green Christmas this year. I was afraid that 6 inches of the ugly stuff we got a few days ago was going to hang on forever.
I even took a couple of walks to the Post Office and grocery store today. I mailed my last ever NAQCC prize out today. Now the mailing of prizes is in someone else's hands. As I mentioned in the previous diary entry, I also did my last ever sprint log cross checking. Now after tying up a couple more little things, I am just a regular ordinary NAQCC member after December 31. It will be nice after 13+ years of club work.
It was rough today getting my DX. I did manage to work PJ2ND very easily with a single call at 1824Z, but finding him as someone to work took a good deal of time.
There are some stations who never seem to be able to hear me. I heard one of them tonight. He was S9 at times, but as usual didn't hear me. I'm not going to mention his call because I don't know the circumstances why he can't hear me. It could be he lives in a very high local noise area as I do here. Maybe he has inferior receiving equipment. Oh, I could list a lot more reasons, but I won't. I just want to point out that I'm sure it's nothing intentional on his part. With my noise here, there may be other stations who feel the same way about me not hearing them. Although the great receiver in the KX3 does help me a lot of times to pull someone out from at or just below my noise level. -30-
Sun Dec 17 2017 9:25PM - Not much time for an entry tonight. Just finished up cross-checking our NAQCC sprint logs. That was the last time I'll be doing that. As you may know, my final retirement from NAQCC work comes at the end of this year.
No DX this evening. That will have to wait till morning.
Time now to go walk Roscoe in the drizzle. -30-
Sat Dec 16 2017 8:27PM - Back to normal today. No quick DX nor any at all this evening. I thought I might catch some in the 9A DX contest, but no such luck. Perhaps in the 1300Z hour in the morning before it ends at 1400Z. I usually don't get DX in the 1300Z hour, but I have gotten some, so we'll have to wait and see.
Just a couple of stats from my analysis of the first DX QSO of each of the past 1,752 days. Actually I haven't figured in the last few days so it's not quite 1,752, more like 1,746 or so. Here's the percentage of QSO's from each continent each year:
AF AN AS EU NA OC SA
2013 2.6 0.0 2.6 47.7 36.3 1.0 9.8
2014 5.2 0.5 4.1 44.7 30.4 1.4 13.7
2015 3.8 0.3 3.6 41.9 37.8 0.3 12.3
2016 3.8 0.3 0.8 32.2 44.0 1.1 17.8
2017 2.3 0.0 0.0 24.8 51.6 0.6 20.7
I would say that follows the sunspot cycle pretty closely. Asia and Europe peak in the maximum year(s), then North Ameica takes over when they decline. Africa, Antarctica, Oceania, and South American are more evenly distributed over all years because of the lower latitude paths to those continents. More to follow on band distribution plus the number of different stations worked each month.
Now time to wander out in the s#$w to get my temperature readings. It was a joy to see quite a bit of s$%wmelt today as the high was 40. we should have more the next few days also as the above freezing temps continue. -30-
Fri Dec 15 2017 7:09PM - Cue up KC and the Sunshine Band, "That's the Way (I Like It)". My DX QSO came at 0001Z this evening when I worked HH2AA on 30M. Kind of a strange QSO. I heard him calling CQ - UP. He ended before I got set up for split so I thought I'd wait till his next CQ. But about 10-15 seconds went by and I didn't hear him again, so I sent my call once, waited a couple seconds for a reply which didn't come, then I sent my call again and he came back with K3WWP 599 after a couple more seconds. So I'm set for another 23+ hours now as far as DX goes. I might get on for a while during the day anyway to see if I can get the last few letters to complete the NAQCC December challenge. My work sheet is up in the shack, but if memory serves, I think I need 3 Rs, 1 G, and 1 T to finish.
Mike and I had our usual good time last night. He arrived a little after 5PM with a Vocelli pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes. After we devoured that, we put the finishing touches on a story about our NAQCC WPA Chapter activities in 2017. That was for the ARRL WPA Section Yearbook being put out by Section Manager Joe W3BC.
Next it was up to the shack around 6:30PM to look for DX. 40, 30, and 20 were virtually dead so Mike went to 80. The first peak he checked on the KX3 belonged to OE3XMA. It didn't take long for Mike to work him. I couldn't remember if I had Austria on 80 meters or not, so I worked him also instead of waiting till 0000Z for a DX streak QSO. Turns out I did have Austria on 80, but OE3XMA had QRT by 0000Z anyway so it was a moot point. We also were hearing UT5UGR and a Belarus station on 80, but we couldn't get either one.
We left the shack after I worked W1IE for my regular streak QSO, and talked about some WPA Chapter plans for next year among a few other things. Today (Friday) was a work day for Mike so he headed home around 7:30PM or so. We'll next get together Christmas evening (not eve) for our annual Christmas lights tour of Kittanning and some surrounding areas. -30-
Thu Dec 14 2017 9:28AM - I was going to wait to write this till after Mike's visit this afternoon in hopes he might do a ghost writer entry for me. Maybe I still will try to get him to add something later on.
I just worked Luc I1YRL on 20 meters easily for my DX streak QSO to make it 1,750 days now. I should know better, but it still amazes me how well my setup here works with QRP, CW, and an attic 20M flat-top inverted vee dipole. Luc gave me a 579, and I gave him a generous 569. Actually it was an effort to copy him even with my low noise around S3 or S4, yet he heard me on my first call, although I did have to repeat my call twice after that.
So going to a bottom line now. Never think you can't work someone with a minimal setup like mine even though the station you are trying to work is quite weak. The odds are fairly good that you will connect, especially if it is a fine op like Luc whom you are trying to work. Someday I'd like to make a list of those stations whom I consider to be the finest ops in the world and whom you are likely to work easily. -30-
Wed Dec 13 2017 8:03PM - I guess you could call today a day of opposites. As I mentioned in the diary a couple days ago, I've been having trouble working CO8LY lately. Well, today I got him with a single call on 30 meters. I got up early today because the plumber was coming to do some work. Shortly after I got up, I remembered I didn't turn off my alarm clock since I was up ahead of it. When I went up to the bedroom to turn it off, I thought I'd take a quick check of the bands. I immediately found and worked CO8LY to continue the DX streak.
Last night was horrible for our NAQCC sprint. Almost all participants complained about conditions except it seems for those living along the Atlantic coast from FL up to ME. Almost everyone from that somewhat narrow strip of land either reported good scores or mentioned conditions were good. The good conditions didn't make it this far west though, and it was a tremendous struggle for me to make just 11 QSOs. That was another opposite as last month I was one of the few who had good conditions and I easily made 50 QSOs in the November sprint.
The final opposite was comparing last night's conditions to tonight. 80 through 30 were good tonight with strong signals on all three bands. I even got an answer to my CQ on 40 meters. That hasn't happened often lately. Antarctica was strong on 30, but after trying to break the pileup a few times, I didn't pursue it any longer.
Hopefully conditions in the morning will be good so I can get my DX. Mike is coming to visit in the afternoon. -30-
Tue Dec 12 2017 7:47PM - It sure doesn't look like a very good night here for our sprint. I just checked the bands and 40 is virtually dead and 80 has very few signals. Plus there is a high noise level on both bands. I may just get a few QSOs (if I can) and then shut down. Perhaps it's my turn this month to be in the black hole. Last month I was one of only a very few who had good conditions. What goes around, comes around.
It also going to be a rough day for the DX streak. I doubt I'll get anything this evening and I'm getting some plumbing work done starting early in the morning. Stay tuned to see what happens. -30-
Mon Dec 11 2017 6:12PM - Unlike the exciting bottom of the ninth finish yesterday in getting my DX streak QSO, today was much easier. Still nowhere near as easy as when the sunspots were more plentiful, but compared to the past several days, it was easy. I also got a new prefix in the deal - 9A57AX. There was more DX around on a Monday than yesterday. I even heard a G station on 17M. So it was nice to have my self-imposed pressure of working DX relaxed early today. Of course it starts again in about 45 minutes now. Maybe I'll get lucky and get someone this evening.
I continued assembling some stats about the first DX QSO each day. Some interesting things are showing up. One standout is the difference in percentage of European QSOs in summber vs. winter. That's easily explained. Because most of the time I get the DX in the evening, the higher bands are open to Europe later in the summer months, hence Europe is the continent with the most QSOs during those months. Another obvious thing is the percentage of European QSOs getting lower as the sunspots decline. Those are just a couple of the things that stand out. There are others also, but I'm not going to dwell on them now until I complete analyzing the stats. -30-
Sun Dec 10 2017 6:36PM - Either read the first three paragraphs or jump ahead to the one that starts 'SKIP TO HERE' which will explain all.
I knew it was inevitable. The only thing that needed deciding was when. Now that has been decided - December 10, 2017. Those of you who follow my doings know exactly where I am heading with this. You're right. The last day similar to today was February 28, 2013. That's a long time. OK, let's say it. I didn't work any DX today for the first day since then. It's disappointing, but I went down fighting. I spent a good amount of time in the shack watching for peaks on the PX3 and most of the time seeing only small ones around S3 or S4 if they were DX. Conditions started out bad this morning and went downhill from there. At least there were no close calls. I never even got so much as a question mark from any DX that I called. Just a couple things worth mentioning. CO8LY was pretty strong on 17, and I usually can work him easily anywhere any time, but not today. He was also on 30 later. I called him once there, and never heard him again. Next to him, probably the strongest DX I heard was a JR5 station on 30 a little past sunset. I forget his suffix now. Like everyone else today, he didn't hear me at all. Those were the closest calls, and they weren't even that close.
So with the DX streak over, where do I go from here? I think I've already made that plain. I plan to try and keep the percentage of days on which I work DX since March 1, 2013 above 99%. I've already implemented that in my streak table on the main page of the web site.
OK, still a few minutes left in today. I'm going to take one final shot hoping I have to revise the above two paragraphs.
SKIP TO HERE. Well, it worked. A few months ago, I wrote another obituary for the streak prematurely, then worked some DX before the day was over. Darned if it didn't work again. I found nothing on 20, 30, or 40, BUT then I checked 80 and there at 2352Z on 3503 kHz was HB9CVQ just above my S5 to S6 noise. I've worked Andy several times, but never on 80. He's a great op. I called once and excitement reigned. He came back with WWP or ?WWP. A couple more times sending my call and it was ?3WWP, then a couple more times and CFM K3WWP 559 which stretches the streak another day. Whew. And you know what. That's a new country worked on 80 meters for me also - number 60. Wow!
Now it's tomorrow (Dec 11 UTC) so to speak so back to the shack to at least stretch the regular streak. -30-
Sat Dec 09 2017 8:10PM - Although I only checked twice today, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, I didn't hear a single station on 10 meters. So the contest activity didn't open up the band, at least as far as I was concerned.
There wasn't much on the other bands either for that matter. I did mange a QSO with John ON4UN on 20 meters for day # 1,745 in the DX streak.
No DX this evening, but I did have a nice long 36 minute rag chew with Bob K0RKH out in Iowa. That's the longest QSO I've had in quite a while now as far as I can recall. That was on 80 meters where overall conditions didn't seem all that good, yet our 36 minute QSO was 100% solid copy both ways.
I did a little bit of analysis on my DX streak as it pertains to this year so far. It certainly has changed from the first 4 years or so, especially the first two. I'll have some comparison figures for all of the almost 5 years some time here in the diary. Or actually I already have some if not all the figures on my DX Streak story page here. Those figures cover all the streak up through July 23 of this year. They also cover all the DX QSOs in that time frame. What I did today was only figure the stats for the first DX QSO of each day. Here is that update of 2017 up through December 9.
QSOs by band:
10M - 0
12M - 0
15M - 9
17M - 19
20M - 107
30M - 80
40M - 67
80M - 2
AF - 6
AN - 0
AS - 0
EU - 67
NA - 145
OC - 2
SA - 60
A big difference indeed as the sunspots decline. I'll have to adjust the early years to take into account using only the first DX of the day, then a more realistic comparison can be made that will really show the change. -30-
Fri Dec 08 2017 7:52PM - I wonder if the ARRL 10M Contest this weekend will bring the band to life. If past results mean anything, I will not hear anything here, yet the big stations with their KW power and high beams will rack up respectable scores at this point in the sunspot cycle. I could be wrong though, and perhaps I will hear and maybe even work a few stations. Certainly nothing like at the sunspot cycle peaks though when I could easily make over 400 QSOs without batting the proverbial eye. We'll see.
DX was decent on 20M today. At least decent enough to work Zen IK5ZWU fairly easily at 1515Z. He wasn't peaking much above S6, and he gave me a 439 RST. Although I know better, I'm still somewhat surprised that my minimal station can still work DX that is not all that strong despite the great decline in the sunspot cycle so far. Actually the solar flux is in the upper 60s now and as far as that number goes, it's not going to get much lower than that. I thought it was 64 for a record all time low. Just to check my memory, I did a Bing search on the Internet and found this interesting article which states the lowest value was set on July 16, 2008 when it was 64.2. Before that the record was 64.4 on July 2, 1954. There's a lot of other interesting reading in the article if you're interested in such things as I am. Since that record is now almost 10 years old, I'm wondering if has been broken since then. The article is from 2008. So let's look a little further. Well, there's just too much material to look through right now. I'll let the 64.2 stand for now as the lowest all-time solar flux. So back to my original point after all that rambling, the current solar flux of 68 is only a little less than 4 points from being as low as it can get. Barring other circumstances, perhaps based solely on that, the DX streak could go on for a ways yet, maybe even make it through the minimum. That will require the big DX stations to maintain their regular activity during the minimum. -30-
Thu Dec 07 2017 7:33PM - December 7th is always a special day for remembering. Of course for the bombing of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii in 1941, but also for something closer to home.
Each December 7, I pause to remember Joe who passed away 6 years ago today. Regular diary readers know who Joe was. For those who don't, he was my neighbor's dog with whom I became very good friends and helped quite a bit in taking care of him. Here's what he looked like:
I didn't think I could ever get close to another dog after that, but 8 months to the day later another dog came to live next door. He was named Roscoe. It didn't take long to win me over. Now we are very good friends also. He's different from Joe, but nonetheless, just as loving. I don't really have as good a picture of Roscoe as that of Joe. I do have these two, one not long after he came to live next door and one just before going to the groomer last year. He looks a bit apprehensive about getting groomed.
Those two dogs have certainly been a great source of enjoyment for me over the past several years. It's also a great feeling to have someone who relies on you so much as they did and do.
As I mentioned a few days ago, December 7 (and/or 8) is also the day of the earliest sunset each year. So from now on until June 27, the sun sets later each day. At first almost imperceptibly, but then it speeds up a little each day until around March 21. That is for locations around 40 degrees north latitude. Times vary at different latitudes. Instead of me trying to describe it, it is easier to look at a table of daily sunrise/sunset times such as the one here which should show the times for here in Kittanning. If you want to construct one for your location go here and fill in the form.
Same old stuff as usual on the bands. No DX this evening, but I got PJ2ND earlier in the day for the DX streak. -30-
Wed Dec 06 2017 8:46PM - It's always nice to have a rag chew type QSO with folks I usually work only in contests or sprints. I had such a QSO this evening with NAQCC member NN0SS whom I've worked before, but only in our NAQCC sprints. It wasn't a long rag chew, but we did exchange a lot more info than in the sprint QSOs. Some of the info I didn't like - Steve said it was 18 degrees with s#$w up in Grand Marais, MN. Brrrr. The worst of it is - it's heading this way and next week is going to be the coldest spell of weather so far this season with the exception of that day in November when it was 15 degrees.
As usual, no DX this evening. I did hear YV5DRN strong on 40M, but for whatever reason, I can never get him to hear me. The same tonight.
At least my DX during the day today was easier than yesterday. After one fruitless trip to the shack, the next time I right away found John ON4UN whom I can always work easily if he's not too busy. It was easy today, and another day was added to the streak. Hope it's that easy during the day tomorrow. -30-
Tue Dec 05 2017 7:44PM - No DX this evening at all. So it will probably be morning or afternoon for the DX again.
Today was another candidate for the hardest day to get my DX QSO. There was just no strong DX at all in the morning hours. I guess the strongest was IK4VFD on 20 at S4 at best. Then this afternoon had a strong V5/DK.... (forget the call now) on 30 meters with an unbreakable pileup. A little later both CO8LY on 30 and PV8ADI on 20 were strong. CO8LY continued his not hearing me lately. PV8ADI wasn't much better, but after about 30 times trying him as the only possible workable station at the time, he finally did send several partial versions of my call. Then it took about 10 more tries for him to get my call right. That was at 2004Z, the longest it's taken to get the DX QSO in quite a while now. I hope I don't have to go through the same thing tomorrow but more than likely I will as we are getting to that point in the sunspot cycle where DX is getting harder and harder to find and work. -30-
Mon Dec 04 2017 11:47AM - It looked for a while like I was going to be hit with a double whammy today. When I was getting dressed this morning, I got a muscle spasm in my back. That's the first I've have in... oh, must be a couple years now. I immediately applied some BenGay and walked a couple miles here inside the house. It hasn't been bad so far. Knock on wood.
Then while checking the bands, the first three checks showed absolutely no DX above my S4 or so noise level. The next check was pretty much the same, but I did hear EI44WAW at S6 or so. Knowing I work Ireland fairly well, I figured I had a chance at him. I was right and I got him easily after he worked a couple other stations. It was just in time, because as I was logging him and marking the NAQCC challenge letters from his call, he said QSY now to SSB. (I think that has something to do with voice communications??? - HI). So that's day #1740 in the DX streak and still at 100% of the days since March 1, 2013.
EI44WAW is part of the Wild Atlantic Way Irish event whereby they activate stations along the WAW which is a famous tourism route on the west coast of Ireland. There are nine special calls EI11WAW through EI99WAW - one from each of the nine counties the route passes through. EI44WAW is from County Mayo. There's an award for working all 9 stations in 2017, but I won't make it as I only have EI44WAW, EI11WAW, and EI55WAW worked. I don't really care about that though, as long as one of them helps me keep the streak going. -30-
Sun Dec 03 2017 7:45PM - One fairly strong DX signal heard this evening on 40 - HH2AA. However a ton of folks wanted to work him and I was not able to break the pileup in about 10 minutes of trying. I'll see if he is still around later tonight with fewer folks chasing him.
My neighbor and I are going shopping in a few minutes to get some dog food for Roscoe and a few other items, so that's all I have time to write for tonight. -30-
Sat Dec 02 2017 7:39PM - I did something this evening I should do more often, especially since it's now winter and the sunspots are dwindling away. What's that? Check 80 meters for DX. This is the season and the point in the sunspot cycle when 80 should be good for DX. It was this evening, and I found quickly and easily worked CT9/DL5AXX with a single call and one correction of my call. While I was filling out the letters from his call for the NAQCC December challenge, I kept listening to him. Strangely others were calling him, but he wasn't hearing them as well as he heard me. I glanced at the S-meter graph on the PX3 screen and he was peaking at S9 plus 10. Not a bad signal for 80 meters DX. I don't think Madeira is a new country on 80, but I'm going to take a quick check anyway. No, I have a few there.
Otherwise today, I finished my Christmas decorating, putting the ormanents on the tree. Ormanents? Those who listened to Party Line on KDKA those many years ago will remember that was Ed King's name for Christmas ornaments to distinguish them from ordinary ornaments. That brings back a lot of memories. I loved listening to Party Line from 10 to Midnight or so. I still think it was the only good radio talk show there ever was (or will be). I'll talk more about it some time here in the diary. Meanwhile here is a picture of the tree and the manger scene under the tree.
Fri Dec 01 2017 7:41PM - Yes, December 1 - the start of the worst of the four seasons. Now I start looking forward to those little landmarks along the way that mark another step closer to spring. Actually the first of them comes in just six days now. That's the earliest sunset here around 40 degrees north latitude. But isn't the shortest "day" around December 21 or so? No, actually shortest day is a misnomer. All days are the same length at just under 24 hours - the exact length depending of whether you are using sidereal or solar time. But that's another story. Actually the shortest period of daylight is what folks really mean when they erroneously say the shortest day. That is around December 21. Ok, then why the discrepancy between the earliest sunset and the shortest period of daylight? Aha, good question. Because of the complex geometry of the Earth's orbit around the Sun which I won't go into here, the earliest sunset is around December 7th, but the latest sunrise doesn't come until around January 4th or so. Do the math and you'll see that the sunrise and sunset times average out between Dec 7 and Jan 4 so that the midway day of December 21st winds up with the shortest period of daylight. OK, got that? There will be a pop quiz tomorrow. HI
You know, there are so many fascinating things in this world such as what I described above. It's a shame that so many people are totally oblivious to a lot of them. Personally things like that fascinate me and have always done so. I guess I have an above average amount of curiosity about just how everything works.
Maybe that's one reason why DX fascinates me so much. I'm always curious to see just at what time and on what band, among other factors determine just where in the world I can hear someone and get them to hear me.
One thing for sure tonight, no combination of factors helped me work some DX. And I only heard one weak CT9 and one weak PY signal. So I guess it will be later tonight or tomorrow morning/afternoon for the DX streak QSO. -30-