Fri Aug 16 2019 07:25PM - Something new. Although I've done many parkpeditions before, this parkpedition was different today. We did it as an official POTA Activation. By we I mean Tom WB3FAE (whose idea it was) and me. Of course POTA stands for Parks on the Air. The park we put on the air was Moraine State Park near Butler PA.
We left around 9AM just after I walked Roscoe and stowing my gear in Tom's vehicle. Roscoe wasn't happy to see me leave again and he barked and whimpered. It took us about 45 minutes or so to drive to the park. When we got there, we immediately began setting up our stations. We were interrupted (pleasantly) by another ham who had just finished an Activation. His was with 100 watts on SSB while ours would be of course 5 watts on CW. After we finished the eyeball QSO, we continued setting up and by 11AM or so we were ready to get started. However the bands weren't ready to start and we went quite a while without any QSOs. I began to question my setup, especially the coax. However everything seemingly checked out fine, but my SWR and Power readings just weren't quite right. After some tinkering around, things started to look better. Still no QSOs for me though.
Tom finally worked someone and asked them to spot us on the POTA site. Things immediately picked up for Tom and he had a run of stations while I was still struggling even though the fellow spotted me too. Eventually I started to work stations and without going into details we operated until around 3:45PM by which time activity had drawn to a standstill and we decided to quit. Tom wound up with 23 QSOs on 20 meters with his best being France, Belgium, California, and British Colombia. I struggled to make 16 QSOs on 40 meters with my best being Kansas.
To be an official activation, 10 QSOs must be made. Since we were using the NAQCC club call of N3AQC, we made a total of 39 for N3AQC, and 23 for Tom, and 16 for me, I believe that counts for three activations if Tom and I understand the rules correctly.
All in all, even though activity was slow, the great weather made up for that, and we had a really enjoyable time today. On the way home we stopped at Ponderosa for a buffet meal. I treated Tom since he was kind enough to drive here to Kittanning to get me and then deliver me home afterwards. He went a good distance out of the way to do that.
Let's close now with some pictures:
Top to bottom
View of the lake
View of the lake
View of the lake with John's antenna
We both hope to have another activation soon now that we've learned a lot about doing one. The main lesson learned, I think, is that you must be spotted to have success as too many hams nowadays depend on spotting rather than just tuning the dial looking for stations. That's not my way, but to each his own.
Now almost time to go get my streak QSO, then a day off tomorrow, then off to the Kittanning Community Park for the Skeeter Hunt with Mike KC2EGL on Sunday. -30-
Thu Aug 15 2019 09:02PM - Well, Roscoe is finally home. What a great greeting I (and Jeff) got at the vet's. At first when he entered the hall and saw us, he hesitated a few seconds like he didn't recognize us, then he ran up to me and I kneeled down and got about 10 minutes of kisses. I don't think I've ever had someone be so happy to see me. We settled up with the vet and Roscoe ran out to the truck and jumped in. On the way home we stopped at Dairy Queen and got him a small vanilla ice cream cone which he promptly devoured. Back home now and pretty much back to normal. Finally!
Now after just getting my weather readings, I've got to wrap up this entry and get my gear ready for the trip to Moraine State Park for our (Tom WB3FAE, and I) POTA activation tomorrow. Tom has the details and all I really know is that we're doing 20 and 40 using N3AQC. He has times listed at 1300-2000Z, but we won't be starting that early. I'd say more like 1430Z since we will just be leaving here at 1300Z. Frequencies, I don't know. Maybe someone will spot us on the POTA site. If you're interested, you might check there.
We had a really bad TS today. We were at the vet's at the time. When we got home, there was an old apple tree blown over less that 100 feet from my back yard. No damage though except to the tree. A lot of little twigs and leaves blown down also. -30-
Wed Aug 14 2019 08:13PM - Same old broken record. Wait another day for Roscoe. The vet wasn't in today and we want to get Roscoe from her instead of any assistant in case there is anything we need to know and also hopefully she can answer some questions we have. So hopefully tomorrow.
I am now a POTA activator. I signed up for an account on the POTA web site. That means when (if?) Tom WB3FAE and I activate Moraine State Park on Friday using the N3AQC club call, both N3AQC and I will get credit for the QSOs I make. That is if I understand it correctly. I'm not really into POTA, but I might as well get credit for making QSOs, I guess. More about our POTA activation in tomorrow's diary when everything is finalized and certain.
I worked some DX this evening for my QSO, and he was about the only station, or one of a small handful of stations I was hearing on the bands. It was John YV5IUA on 30 meters. He had my call as KA3WWP for a while, but after sending K3 many times, he finally got it right. I guess conditions were noisy down there in Venezuela, just like here.
In addition to POTA (oh that's parks on the air in case you don't know) on Friday with Tom, Mike and I will be in the Skeeter Hunt on Sunday from Kittanning Community Park (no, it's not an official POTA park for whatever reason) probably for the full four hours from 1700-2100Z on 40 and 20. Then next week, possibly another visit to Moraine with Tom and Mike. Date yet to be decided. Then next Sunday (25th) down to Skyview for our annual QRP demo. Whew, a busy time coming up plus taking care of Roscoe in between all of that.
I got a couple railroad items in the mail today. Some flat black paint for painting part of my HO roadbed and maybe touch up work on a couple black locos. Also some traction tires for one of my HO engines. Installing them was fairly easy the first time I've ever done that. It helped the loco also. It knocked lap time down to 11 seconds from 13-14 seconds even with more rolling stock in the consist. -30-
Tue Aug 13 2019 08:48PM - The bands were decent tonight although sigs were up and down like an elevator. I worked N3FZ with s8/s9 signals to start, but they were down in my noise after just about 5 minutes or so. Then I got in the NAQCC sprint for a QSO with NN9K just so I can still say I've never missed one of our NAQCC sprints. That's 178 in a row now that I've entered even though conditions of late have prevented me from making more than a couple contacts.
Still no word on any more delays with Roscoe, so it looks like tomorrow will be the day he comes home barring something last minute tomorrow morning. -30-
Mon Aug 12 2019 08:48PM - Another couple days delay in getting Roscoe home. That ear just doesn't want to finish healing satisfactorily. So now the target day is Wednesday. Fingers crossed.
Conditions seem to be getting worse and worse, and perhaps that is keeping folks from getting on the bands making the situation even worse. Only a couple handfuls of stations heard in total on 80 through 20 meters. Finally and it wasn't easy, I worked N5DY on 40 in OK. The second day in a row my streak QSO was from the state of Oklahoma.Before that I almost got W6YA in CA on 20, but he just couldn't get my complete call beyond K3 and WP. I was just too weak out there on the left coast.
Depending on the situation with Roscoe, I might be doing a parkpedition with Tom WB3FAE at Moraine State Park on Friday for a POTA activation. Tom is pretty sure he'll be going. For me, I have to wait and see. More to follow. -30-
Sun Aug 11 2019 08:33PM - Well, that couldn't have been planned any better. I tuned around and found Carl N5XE calling CQ on 30 meters. I called and he came back to me. That gave me a perfect chance to thank him personally for the nice 25th anniversary card I got from him a couple days ago.
Yet another nice day today and I did some good walking and some more yard work. It's been very dry here of late so I gave my garden vegetables and flowers a good drink of water this morning. Then Ange came and I helped him water his garden as well.
Hopefully Roscoe will be coming home tomorrow. At least we didn't hear anything to the contrary this time. I'm looking forward to that. Some work is being done on his (owner's) house. It would be nice if that is done before he comes home in late afternoon, otherwise it might be a bit hectic as he doesn't like change of any kind. Although maybe the big change the past couple weeks will make him more adaptable. We'll see.
A lot of things coming up the next couple weeks also. Next Sunday is the Skeeter Hunt, then the Sunday after that is our annual Skyview visit and QRP demo. Maybe a train museum visit on the 30th. All of that with Mike, and we'll have our monthly pizza party on the 28th. It will be a busy time. -30-
Sat Aug 10 2019 08:44PM - Remember when I used to do a "Why is it that..." every once in a while? Well, I have one tonight. Why is it that sometimes you'll struggle to copy someone because of QSB, QRN, etc. and decide you might as well just say 73 and give up, and when you do suddenly signals improve drastically and you probably could have had a nice long rag chew now, but it's too late? That happened tonight on 30 meters in a QSO with KJ4RMJ in FL. He was at best a 459 being generous for several minutes and it was hard to copy, so I signed off with him, and his closing came through a good 579. Of course it happens vice-versa also. A 599 QSO can suddenly become 449 or even 339 at a moment's notice. I guess that's one of the fascinating things about ham radio.
It was another nice weather day like yesterday with a high of 82 and low humidity. Nice walking weather, and nice to do some yard work, both of which I did. -30-
Fri Aug 9 2019 07:48PM - Well, Roscoe's homecoming was delayed. The vet wasn't quite certain the ear healed completely and wants to keep him until Monday (at no extra charge). We think it's nice to have such a conscientious vet who cares so much about her patients and think that's best for Roscoe.
I got a beautiful card in the mail today from Carl N5XE offering his congratulations on the 25 years of the streak. I guess the printed wording on the card says it all in addition to the personal message from Carl. The front of the card goes as follows:
"Success takes... perseverance ambition passion courage heart humor talent." Then the inside of the card: "You've proven you've got what it takes to meet challenges, overcome obstacles, and pursue excellence to fulfill a dream. Congratulations on your well-deserved success."
Thank you very much Carl. Be assured that means a lot to me.
Not much else of real importance going on today. I enjoyed the nice mild day with low humidity and went for a few rather long walks. I also did some edging on my sidewalks and just sat on the porch enjoying the weather. Now it's time to head to the shack. -30-
Thu Aug 8 2019 08:46PM - Tomorrow is homecoming day for Roscoe. It will be great to see him again and get back in the routine of our daily walks.
Once again this evening, the bands were terrible. Virtually nothing on 40 or 20, and only the traffic net stations on 80. There were a couple good signals on 30. One was engaged in a long rag chew, and the other called CQ. I called and after a couple repeats we did make a QSO. It was N1RHY near Boston. So another day is added to the streak.
Nothing much else going on today. I did do some more updating on my web site. I brought my QSL stats partly up to date along with a few other little things here and there. I have now completed checking and correcting all the links on my links pages. -30-
Wed Aug 7 2019 05:57PM - I receivied an email today from Lester AJ5P with a question that I thought would make a good diary topic. He was in broadcasting as I once was and wondered what my duties were at WPIT. It might be simpler to say what were the duties I wasn't involved in. HI. Those would be sales and General Manager.
I probably can't even remember all the things I did do there, but I'll try to remember as much as possible. I started out basically as an engineer who drove to the transmitter site every day to make checks there, then to the studios where I hosted (introduced) the various taped religious programs until sign-off at 11PM or Midnight.
I also worked on the studio equipment while the tapes were running. From then on I don't exactly remember the order in which things happened, but I'll list them anyway.
I recorded various spots such as our sign-off with music and the National Anthem, promo spots for various programs, commercials, and the like.
I signed on the stations (AM/FM) on Saturday and Sunday mornings and ran the programs for the first several hours of the day, most of which were on tape.
I also ran the board for various live programs including religious and also ethnic. I could probably write a whole book about experiences with the ethnics. Let's see how many languages I can remember. Lithuanian, Italian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Slovenian, Slovak, Irish, German, Hungarian, Greek, and I'm probably forgetting one or two more. I worked with all of them in one way or other, but the ones I was closest to were Lithuanian, Italian, Irish, whom I worked with every week for a long time.
My "partner in crime" at the station was Reverend Charles Ray Thompson. He started out with a 15 minute religious program, and then was hired to work as a staff member. He and I hit it off something like Mike and I did and continue to do. I could write a second book about our exploits. We worked on all kinds of things together like handling the incoming program tapes and then getting them ready to mail back to the organizations who sent them in to be aired. We created new promos each week for various programs. And on and on. We also did things together away from the station like eating at various places, going to the Carnegie Science Center, and a lot of other places.
One thing that I got involved in was running both our AM and FM stations at the same time while still doing other things. I must say there were only a couple times in all the time I did that when I screwed up playing the wrong program or missing one of the station breaks. Most of the programming was on tape so we (Charlie did this also) ran one station a minute early and the other a minute late which made it relatively easy.
There are hundreds of things running through my mind as I type this, and I don't know where to go next. I also helped out in the front office a lot, working with billing, program logs, mailing out our little program guide we produced every so often. Now I must detour and elaborate on one mailing. Basically we (Charlie and I) while running the stations in the evenings would stuff the guide into envelopes, add a mailing sticker, and sort by zip code to get a certain postage rate. Oh, I also maintained the mailing list which I believe numbered a couple thousand or so. You can imagine working out just one issue of the guide took a LOT of time even with two of us working on it. Well, this one time after we spent the many many hours getting it ready to take to the PO to mail, it was noted that some of the material was dated in the guide, and the powers to be decided that we couldn't use it. After all that work!!! If it wasn't really so funny, I would have been a lot more upset than I was. The Program Manager and I wound up carting all the guides to a recycling center to be disposed of.
Wow, this is bringing back great memories. Another enjoyable time was the lunch break. The office girls, I and a couple staff announcers would get together and decide where we wanted to get our food from that day. We would always order food and go get it to eat in our lunch room. I often was the one to go out and get it from one of the many establishments we honored with our order. Probably another book could be written here.
Charlie and I also did a lot of odd jobs that needed doing like sweeping floors, other cleaning, touch up painting, and the like.
Although I liked everyone there, well maybe with one exception, but I won't dwell on that, there was another favorite, Tom McGough who was an announcer with his own program and a salesman. I would help him produce his program, mostly with some commercial spots. One time, and I would love to play the outtakes for you, we just could not get more than a few words recorded when one of us would break up mainly because of one joke he made about the product we were advertising. It took us about 15 minutes to record one 30 second spot. Tom was a minor league baseball player in the Cleveland Indians organization, and after work we often went to watch the last part of a Pirate game at the park just across the river from our studios.
I've gone way beyond answering Lester's question, and I'm going to add just one more thing, then close. We carried the Metropolitan Opera on Saturdays during their season of live broadcasts which as I remember lasted about 2/3/or 3/4 of a year. In the offseason we filled in with similar programming. One year the manager wanted to fill in with recorded opera broadcasts. Guess who got the job of hosting them, and being the local Milton Cross (he was the host of the live broadcasts from the Met) because I was good at pronouncing all the singers and characters names. Oh, and one final note, I also was a country music DJ when we filled in with country music in the early evenings from 5 or 6 until sunset when the AM station (a daytimer) signed off.
And that folks, ends a very long diary entry. -30-
Tue Aug 6 2019 08:38PM - 30 meters was pretty good this evening with several good signals showing on the PX3. One was K5WK at S9. I calle Ken and we had an 11 minute QSO before QSB as usual set in.
Not much else to talk about. I did update a few more links pages today. Also took a couple walks. I found out that Roscoe will be coming home on Friday. The vet wanted to wait a couple more days to be sure the ear healed completely before sending him home. -30-
Mon Aug 5 2019 08:35PM - Here are the folks who commented on the 25 year point of the streak: Glenn K3SWZ, Don W2JEK, Lester AJ5P, Tim K6ACF, Bill K4WLW, Ed KJ4R, John KK4ITX, Lane N8AFT. Hope I didn't miss anyone. I've been getting a lot of emails on various subjects lately.
I've also been getting a lot of visitors to my website lately. I don't know if it is because of the streak, dropping updates on my Windstream morror site, or maybe my site was posted in some prominent web site somewhere, or .........? I've had over 100 visits every day but one starting back on July 27. I 'only' had 99 on July 31. Today it's 107 and counting. I haven't had a run like that since I don't know when. The last time I had a month average over 100 a day was November 2018 with 109.7.
Tonight was as rough as any night lately and it took some doing to keep the streak going. I finally resorted to calling CQ on 80 meters and after 10-15 minutes I finally got an answer from Drew K1APJ who was very weak, but we did have an 8 minute QSO. -30-
Sun Aug 4 2019 08:12PM - Sometimes even after 25 years of daily QRP/CW/simple wire antenna QSOs, I still get a bit amazed and surprised at how well that combination works. Tonight was such a night. In looking for a QSO, I found my old Swiss friend Andy HB9CVQ calling CQ on 30 meters. He was a 559 and I was being generous at that. I called him 3 or 4 times with no success, then went looking for someone else. Finding no one I went back to 30 and Andy was still calling CQ at the same strength. I called and got him on the first try with no repeats this time. I got a 449 report and the second 25 years of the streak is underway. HI
I am going through my links pages and updating them. There sure are a lot of changes since I last checked a few years ago. I just deleted a lot of the dead links. I never tried too hard to find a new link unless there was a forwarding page or something like that. I question the value of links pages anyway these days. If you want to find something there is the great Microsoft Bing search engine. Using that, I can find anything I want and usually get a lot more than I really need. It's wonderful. Maybe someday I'll just completely eliminate the links pages.
Oh, thanks to all who emailed comments about the streak. I'll list those folks in tomorrow's entry. -30-
Sat Aug 3 2019 08:30AM -
The above became reality for the streak at 0005Z when I worked K4XU, Dick in Oregon on 14.036 in the NAQP. Conditions were very poor just as they have been lately. If not for the NAQP and long skip on 20M, I might still be looking for a QSO.
As I said in an earlier version of this entry today, I did call CQ on 10122.5 for a solid 15 minutes from 0005 to 0020Z with nary a peep in response so I quit.
So where to now? I guess just keep doing what I have been doing for the past 25 years. Try for a QSO each and every day. Just a couple minutes ago I got an email from Lester AJ5P who said, "John, congrats on 25 and never a day off. Wow! Let's hope for 40." Well, I don't know about that. I would be 89 then at the 40 year mark. Maybe go for 30 and take it from there?
Thanks to all who have followed the streak to this point. I hope you'll all stick with me however long it does last. I hope you remember the point of the streak which is simply to prove the power of QRP / CW / simple wire antennas. You don't need QRO / other modes / big beam antennas to succeed and have fun in ham radio. Those things are helpful in emergency situations to be sure but are not needed for every day contacts.
Here's what I wrote earlier in the day in this entry.
I have decided to just use the NAQP at 0000Z for a quick QSO to secure the 25 year mark of the streak. Then time permitting I will try some CQs around 10122.5 on 30 meters in case anyone reading this would like to try to work me on this memorable day for me. I figure 80, 40, and 20 will be too crowded with NAQP participants for QRP signals, especially with the poor conditions at this sunspot minimum.
I'll then modify this diary entry after that. -30-
Fri Aug 2 2019 09:17PM - And then there was one. One day left for the streak to hit the quarter century mark. I had a rough time on the penultimate day this evening. All the bands were almost dead until finally after about 30 minutes, 30 meters showed signs of life, and I worked N9JYJ in Ponca City, OK. Whew. Of course had the bands stayed dead I still would have had the NAQP tomorrow afternoon for a sure QSO. I think I will just use the NAQP tomorrow evening to get that 25 year QSO rather than do anything special. Should I change my mind I'll put it in the diary tomorrow afternoon.
Everything still the same with Roscoe. I'm sure looking forward to him coming home, hopefully on Thursday if not sooner.
Not much else new today, just the usual everyday things. -30-
Thu Aug 1 2019 05:50PM - I just engaged in something interesting. I got an email from someone (I won't mention names or calls) who said he found an error on my site dealing with call signs. He said the info I had for a certain call was wrong because his father owns the call, not the person I mentioned. Well, I knew my info was correct so I scanned a card I had from the person I mentioned and emailed it to him. Then I went to the Ham Call web site remembering they had archived callbook listings. I looked up station xxx for the year 1969 and it showed my person as the call owner. I continued on looking at 1972 and 1977 when no one owned the call. Then in 1983 it did show the emailer's father as the call owner. So his dad got the call sometime between 1977 and 1983. I haven't had any more emails from him yet, but that wasn't long ago I sent mine.
In the process, I noticed Ham Call now has a different URL so I changed my link on my DX searches page to the correct one.
Hey, only three more days to reach the 25 year mark for my streak. When I work someone on August 4, that will complete the first 25 years of the streak. To get another 25 I would have to live and be in good health at age 99. Not much chance. Anyway I had a couple ideas about a QSO for that date. I haven't decided whether I will use them or not. Perhaps I'll just treat it as a normal regular QSO. I thought maybe contact KG9N for a sked since he was my first QSO in the streak. Or maybe a couple very special friends - Dave VA3RJ or Mike KC2EGL or Tom WY3H. Or maybe just give a frequency and call CQ there starting at 0000Z on the 4th. I don't know. I'll think about it the next couple days. Maybe I'll just be lazy and use the NAQP contest for my QSOs on both the 3rd and 4th.
For those follwing Roscoe's progress, his stitches were bothering him a bit, so the vet removed them a little earlier than planned. Everything else is still going absolutely great. Still shooting for him to come home Thursday. -30-
Wed Jul 31 2019 05:05PM - I seem to have gotten all of my end of month chores done quickly this month and found some extra time to fool around, especially while Rosoce is away at the vet hospital. He's still doing very well and should be coming home in just about a week now.
I used some of the extra time to figure out how many different ham calls I've used in my ham career and how many QSOs I've made with each one. So here we go with the call, first QSO, last QSO (to this point in time) and how many QSOs.
K3WWP - 9/14/1963 to 7/31/2019 - 90,640
N3AQC - 5/19/2006 to 7/28/2019 - 2,313
N3A - 10/16/2006 to 6/23/2019 - 1,429
N3A/3 - 10/1/2007 to 10/25/2008 - 791
KN3WWP - 4/8/1963 to 9/8/1963 - 438
NY3EC - 9/12/2013 to 6/2/2019 - 158
WA3IXO - 10/16/1967 to 3/7/1968 - 121
KB3MQT - 10/5/2005 to 3/29/2006 - 54
K3WWP/3 - 2/10/1967 to 10/13/1967 - 41
WA3IXO/3 - 10/14/1967 to 1/19/1968 - 19
N3AQC/MM - 8/13/2009 to 8/13/2009 - 4
K3MJW - 8/23/2009 to 8/23/2009 - 1
Explanation of each call:
KN3WWP - My regular call as a Novice
K3WWP - My regular everyday call (for lack of a better description HI)
K3WWP/3 - Portable in Pittsburgh while at WPIT
WA3IXO - A second call I held licensed to my Pittsburgh address when I worked at WPIT. I held it for just one license term.
WA3IXO/3 - Used the Pittsburgh call in Kittanning.
KB3MQT - First NAQCC club call
N3AQC - Second NAQCC club call
N3AQC/MM - NAQCC club call used on the USS Requin
N3A - NAQCC special event call
N3A/3 - When we used N3A/1, N3A/2, N3A/3.......N3A/0
NY3EC - The call of the submarine USS Requin in Pittsburgh
K3MJW - The call of the Skyview ARA
I found that interesting. Hope you did also. Next I have an idea to list all the locations I've operated from. I don't think I'll be able to list dates and QSOs with that list though. -30-
Tue Jul 30 2019 04:20PM - I've gotten a couple questions about Roscoe and also about the antenna I used for the FOBB on Sunday. So since nothing much else is happenning today, I'll answer them.
First of all, Roscoe is still doing just great. The staff at the vet's have really taken to him, and they say they'll miss him when he leaves there and comes home. Right now it looks like that won't be until around August 8. They want to be absolutely certain that the ear is completely healed before they release him, and we agree with that because if anything does happen, he'll have skilled help right there.
As for the mount, I use a 20' Jackite pole as listed here. Mine is the 20' size with the extra thick tip (3/16") which reduces flexing nicely. You can see how solid and straight it is in yesterday's diary picture. I mounted it on a 31" long piece of angle iron (5/8" x 5/8") filed to a point to facilitate driving it into the ground. The pole is bungee corded to the angle iron as shown in the pictures below. I drive the angle iron about halfway into the ground (15" or so), then fasten the antenna PC board with bungee cords to the pole about 2 inches above the top of the angle iron (actually I think it's aluminum to be correct). Then the pole and antenna are extended to full height, the four radials are fastened to the PC board and extended. The switches are set to the desired band, the coax is connected to the bandpass filter unit (bought separately from a different source) then to the KX3, and in maybe 10 or so minutes it's time to have fun operating. No guy wires at all are needed. Now the pictures:
Any questions, email and ask. -30-
Mon Jul 29 2019 12:56PM - Here's a report with pictures from yesterday's FOBB.
Mike and I set up at Kittanning, PA Community Park in the 1600-1700Z hour. After some glitches finally traced to a short coax run between Mike's KX3 and his 40M bandpass filter, we got started in earnest a minute or so past the starting time of 1700Z. 40 was sporadic with contacts coming and going. 20 started slowly, then erupted into a flurry of activity. I wished I had brought my laptop for logging as I could hardly keep up with the pace from about 1715 to 1829 when I logged 38 QSOs logging all on paper. It slowed down for the rest of the contest. Mike and I both used our new portable vertical antennas from QRP Guys, and we were both pleased with them and I think they will be our antennas of choice unless or until something better comes along. They are easy and quick to set up with Jackite poles and take up very little ground space.
You wouldn't know we were at a sunspot minimum. Virtually all signals were strong with very few repeats needed either way. Finally activity did drag to pretty much a standstill about a half hour before the contest ended and we shut down about 20 minutes before the end. We wound up with 78 QSOs which seems to be the best we've done in either a FOBB or Spartan Sprint according to a glance through my old diary entries and old NAQCC newsletters. We made contacts from all parts of the country from WA to ME to FL to NM and many places in between. It was really a lot of fun and the weather was great with no rain, a lot of sun and the humidity wasn't all that high.
We tore down and headed home, then to Wendy's for dinner. Back home again we made up and sent in our FOBB report. Then we watched some train videos and made my streak QSO before Mike headed home. Here are the pictures from our FOBB report.
That's Mike, his antenna
me, my antenna
the park pavillion. -30-
Sun Jul 28 2019 09:24PM - A really great day today. The weather was great for our outing in the park working the FOBB contest. I took 20 meters and Mike took 40. Between us, we made 78 QSOs which seems to be the most QSOs in any FOBB or Skeeter Hunt. I'll have more to say about it in tomorrow's diary entry as I'm a bit on the tired side now. There will also be some pictures, probably the ones we included with our FOBB report we sent out earlier this evening.
Mike left just a few minutes ago after we sent the report, watched some train videos and went to my shack to get my streak QSO who turned out to be N0JSD down in VA. -30-
Sat Jul 27 2019 08:35PM - I used the IOTA contest this evening for my streak QSO(s). I worked K3EST on 20, then WA1Z on 40.
Looking forward to the FOBB contest tomorrow with Mike at the Kittanning Community Park. The weather should be good. I hope the bands are. I did a little tweaking of my portable vertical antenna today.
I'm missing Roscoe and looking forward to when he is able to come home. -30-
Fri Jul 26 2019 08:43PM - I wish more people would realize that just because we are in a sunspot minimum, the bands are NOT dead. There seems to always be some signals somewhere, often quite strong ones like K5WK on 30 meters in MS this evening whom I worked easily. We chatted about 16 minutes and could have gone longer but his wife called him for dinner. Since there are not as many signals on the bands now, it really helps to have a panadapter to find those 'needles in a haystack'. Otherwise it would take much much longer to find someone to work unless you only sit on one frequency and call CQ to get your QSOs. Then a panadapter is not very useful.
Good news about Roscoe. The vet called Bruce this evening and he is doing just fine in the 'hospital'. All the staff really like him, and probably when his stay ends, he'll be even more spoiled and so will the staff. HI
I'm pretty sure I'm going to end my web site mirror on windstream.net and stick with just k3wwp.com on Cahaba Internet. That will cut down on a little work here and also the FTP to Cahaba is more secure than Windstream. So if you don't see any updates on Windstream, please use only k3wwp.com. I'll have more to say about that in the coming days. -30-
Thu Jul 25 2019 09:03PM - Some of you asked about Roscoe, and I'm pleased to report the surgery went all according to plan today. He'll be staying at the vet hospital for a while now mainly to be sure he dosen't try to get at the sutures. We figured it would be better to have in a small cage there than a big house here where there is a lot more room for damaging the ear before it heals.
Otherwise it was another nice day today with reasonable temperature and humidity. I took a couple fairly long walks.
It was DX for my streak this evening. Another QSO with Ger HK7AAG on 30 meters after I called a couple other stations with no success. -30-
Wed Jul 24 2019 09:47PM - Mike is here and after I write this first paragraph I'll turn it over to him to add his thoughts. My streak QSO came in a hurry tonight when I found and worked KD9CK in IL on 20 meters at 0001Z. There were several strong signals on 20, but I didn't listen to see where they were from since I wanted to get my QSO in before Mike arrived. OK, now here's Mike.
Greetings all. After our monthly pizza night John and I worked on plans for two operating events. This weekends Flight of the Bumblebees contest. We will be operating N3AQC from the Kittanning Community Park. And we began setting up a monthly visit to the USS Requin. We will be starting our operations onboard the Requin on the 26th of September. Art WA3BKD was very receptive to the idea. It looks like we will be operating from the Requin every 4th Thursday of the month barring any closures due to holidays or any other issues that may arise. We will have more information as September 26th approaches. Hope to see you on the radio. DE Mike KC2EGL 73. -30-
Tue Jul 23 2019 08:10PM - The Sun has been very quiet for quite a while now. Let's see when the last time the SF was 70 or higher. The last 70 reading was way back on June 12 which was also the last day it was above 68. I'd say we're definitely sitting right in the middle of a solar minimum with nowhere to go but up now. Still the bands are open to somewbere every day. This evening 20 was open to Arizona and I worked special event station K7O. It honors the Lowell Observatory and its participation in the lunar landing 50 years ago.
I've had a lot on my mind lately. My friend Roscoe has had an ear infection and now has a hematoma in one ear. He will be getting surgery on Thursday and I am hoping that all goes well. It's amazing how attached one can get to a dog, even though he is not really mine, but my neighbor's. -30-
Mon Jul 22 2019 08:18PM - I've been curious about this for a while now and finally figured it out. How many consecutive days now have I gotten my streak QSO in the 0000Z hour. The last time I didn't was March 23 this year when I worked K4QS at 0118Z. I don't remember now why it was late. Let me check my diary to see if there is any clue there. Nope no clue there, and while checking, I see my March 22 entry was truncated somehow. Strange. Anyway that's now 122 straight days for a 0000Z hour QSO. Now I've probably jinxed things and won't get anyone in the 0000Z hour tomorrow.
Finally a cool day today with the temperature in the upper 60s to low 70s all day. It felt good. Now it will gradually warm up the rest of the week again.
Oh, my QSO tonight at 0006Z was with N9OL in IN who was running 4 watts on 20 meters. Good solid 2X QRP signals. I could use more of those kind of QSOs. -30-
Sun Jul 21 2019 09:07PM - Watching the replay of the moon walk last night was another real joy. The coverage was from the NASA channel so I got to hear a lot more than the original airing in 1969 when the TV reporters would often talk over the astronauts or mission control. I've also been enjoying watching coverage of the current Big Boy Midwest Tour. Quite a bit of it has been covered from various sources, mostly taped coverage a little later in the day or the next day.
The bands were only fair tonight, but I did manage to work WA0BAG in TN on 30M despite him being pretty much down in my noise.
This was the hottest day of the year here so far. The high was 96 degrees, but it wasn't quite as humid as it could have been, so it was survivable. -30-
Sat Jul 20 2019 08:27PM - So far, the highlight of the day was watching the rebroadcast of the Lunar Landing exactly 50 years ago today. I'm so glad they used the CBS tape with Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra. I always thought they were the best space coverage broadcast team among the three networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC. I always watched them when a space shot was on. Oh, I did watch Jules Bergman on ABC a bit here and there mainly when CBS was in a commercial break or otherwise skipping a bit of coverage. I can't even remember who Jules teamed with. Someone named Frank ?? As for NBC, I think it was david Brinkley and someone. I could look it up but I'm not going to.
Later tonight around 11PM I'll watch the rebroadcast of Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon. Hope that's CBS also.
What an exciting year this has been with the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, and now the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing and Moon walk.
20 meters was pretty good this evening with several strong signals, but some were not hearing me. Finally KP4TF did get my call after a couple tries and that continued the streak another day getting closer to I guess a much less important anniversary on August 5. That's the 25th anniversary of the first daily QSO in the streak. -30-
Fri Jul 19 2019 08:12PM - Has it really been 50 years? Yes, or it will be tomorrow. I'm talking about the Apollo 11 moon landing. What a great event that was in a great period in history. The space age had some problems, but overall it was a great time to be alive. I vividly remember working at WPIT following the landing on our little TV set. I remember being disappointed when they moved up the time of the moonwalk. I had thought I'd be home in time to see it all, but now I had to cheat a bit and sign the station off a few minutes early, get to my car, drive home hurriedly and run up to my third floor apartment. I wanted to tape (audio - didn't have a video recorder then) the walk. I threw the recorder down on the bed and it bounced on the floor, but still worked and I got all but those very first few words issued by Neil. I've still got those tapes (dubbed from reel to reel to cassettes) somewhere up in my attic, I believe. In fact I have a lot of audio I taped off the TV from the Space Program.
Personally I rate Apollo 8 equally with 11 as far as memories go. When Borman, Anders, and Lovell circled the moon, the first time humans had done so, and recited those verses from the Bible, it's hard even now to describe the feeling. Having it occur on Christmas Eve just added to the wonderful experience.
Tomorrow the NASA channel will rebroadcast the original tapes of the landing, and subsequent moonwalk. Times will be 4:02 and 10:38PM EDT, precisely 50 years from the actual events.
As far as ham radio, I worked DX for my streak QSO. Ger HK7AAG, whom I've worked several times over the years was the guilty party in an easy QSO on 30 meters. -30-
Thu Jul 18 2019 01:07PM - Thought I'd do an early diary entry today and "show off" what came in the mail a little bit ago.
Pretty much the same as the previous few years but with a new picture and the addition of a K2Z QSO for the Manager Bonus. -30-
Wed Jul 17 2019 09:15PM - Another of those busy days today. Not exciting busy, just busy so I won't bother with details.
I had to go out to get a battery for my answering machine this evening and was late getting to the shack, but when I did get there, I got a quick QSO with K9VP in IN that lasted 16 minutes till QSB set in. Then I tried our NAQCC sprint, but didn't hear a single signal, so once again I have to report I participated but didn't make any QSOs. I hate doing that, but.... -30-
Tue Jul 16 2019 08:58PM - 30 meters was the star this evening like 40 was last night. Several good signals including PJ2Y whom I worked right away at 0001Z. Then I decided to try some CQs and got answers from WA5VSK and old friend Carl N5XE. WA5VSK was a rough QSO but Carl was solid copy for about 15 minutes.
Not a lot else to talk about out of the ordinary things. Laundry (a day late), shopping, taking care of Roscoe, playing with trains, etc. -30-
Mon Jul 15 2019 08:47PM - The bands were a bit better this evening with quite a few decent signals on 40 meters especially. It didn't take long to work WA4LJJ for a quick streak QSO.
I received 10 pieces of 9" HO straight track today and expanded my HO layout to what looks somewhat like a Martinsville speedway oval.
The weather was good again today and I did some more outdoors work. I also just got home from an nice combo walk and shopping trip. That pretty much covers the day. -30-
Sun Jul 14 2019 07:45PM - Anyone reading this in France or anyone from France? If so, Happy Bastille Day! It's just about over now, so hope you had a good one.
Not a lot going on today. I did a little yard work and just walked downtown for some shopping. I sat on the porch with Roscoe for a while enjoying the nice weather. Mostly sunny and warm, but low humidity.
I never did get any pictures yet from the BVARA demo the other night. If I do, I will post them.
Almost time now to go to the shack and try for my streak QSO. I'm closing in on the 25 year mark now on August 4. That's 21 more days according to my rough figuring. Sure hope I make it and don't fall short like the DX streak ending last year with just 20 days to go for 2,000 days in that case. -30-
Sat Jul 13 2019 08:23PM - I've got a new DX streak going. It's at TWO days now after working TM0HQ in the IARU HF Championships. Wow!
Other than that, the highlight of the day was getting three packages in the mail. One set of DVDs with the mainline Little Rascals episodes from 1929-1938. One set of DVDs with the MGM era of Little Rascals episodes from 1938-1944. A Broadway Limited Exports Train Catalog. They sure have a lot of (pricey) nice things in there including an HO Big Boy 4010 for "only" $749.99. It's more of a wish catalog than anything else at those prices, but...
I also ordered a new pole for mounting my portable vertical antenna which should be sturdier than the homebrew one that turned out to be just too flexible in even a moderate breeze. Hopefully we'll give it a test when Mike and I operate the Flight of the Bumblebees on July 28. -30-
Fri Jul 12 2019 12:40PM - I thought I'd write about last night's demo while it is still fresh in my mind. A few months ago, Jim KC3IXE asked me if I would be willing to give a demo on QRP/CW at one of their Beaver Valley ARA club meetings. I agreed. Then we had some delays due to this and that. Finally a firm date was set - July 11 at their second Thursday of the month meeting. One of the delays was the timing for Mike because of his work. However now that he was retired, that restriction no longer applied.
Mike came down early in the afternoon and we did a little soldering work on his portable antenna and a few other things. We decided to leave for the club around 4:00, which we did. One of the GPS routes took the PA Turnpike and Mike didn't want to pay the toll. The route he decided on took us on what seemed every back road in Western PA. We did get to see a lot of nice homes and nice scenery along the way and only missed one turn, I think. In Ambridge though, we realized the GPS had the wrong address, 911 14th Street instead of the 911 Center on 14th Street. After we rectified that and arrived at the site, we were warmly greeted by Jim who introduced us to other members of the club. We set our equipment in the meeting room and went outside to look for a site for the portable antenna. It was the same antenna we used at the Butler hamfest back in June. It went up quickly and perfectly. Then we had to position a long run of coax to connect it to the meeting room. After connecting it to the KX3 and hooking up the PX3, paddle, battery, etc., we waited while the club held their business meeting. Then it was time for Mike and I to head to the podium.
They had something there called a mickey phone or something like that (inside joke). They had their own laptop connected to a huge projection screen which made it easy for our demo.
Briefly, the demo started with me using material from my web site on the screen for the members to glance at or read while I commented on the content. After I went through sections on my biography, station and antenna pictures, working DX, my streaks, and the like, I fielded some very good questions from the club members. Then we kind of segued over to Mike who commented on the NAQCC after showing the club video on the web site. Then Mike talked about portable operating while we showed pictures of some of our operating sessions.
All in all it was a very good demo. All the club members were very receptive to the demo. We didn't notice any of the anti-CW or anti-QRP feelings that are present at some ham clubs. They were just a great bunch of folks as Mike and I agreed as we headed home.
Before we did leave though we showed off the KX3/PX3 setup. A lot of the members were impressed with both the KX3, PX3, and our portable antenna. Mike fielded a lot of questions about them while I attempted to make some contacts. It was rough being in the middle of all the talking going on, but I did manage to work K4IBZ in Florida on 40 meters easily. I think that definitely showed the members that QRP/CW and simple antennas do work well. That QSO also turned out to be my streak QSO for the 12th since it was after 0000Z.
While Jim and I went out to tear down the antenna, Mike was still answering questions about this and that. After a while we wrapped everything up and headed home. Jim told us it would be much easier if we just took route 65 and then hooked up with route 28 just north of Pittsburgh which would take us right here to Kittanning. That was much simpler than the GPS route taking us to the meeting.
A few times on the route home Mike and again commented how much we enjoyed the demo and how great all the members were. Mike took off for home as soon as we arrived at my house since it was almost 11:00.
Jim and some other members said they would send me some pictures. When I get them, I'll post them here in the diary along with a couple I took of our antenna. -30-
Thu Jul 11 2019 10:59PM - Just got home from the Beaver Valley ARA demo that Mike and I gave. I'm tired now, so I'll wait till tomorrow's entry to talk about the demo, and maybe have some pictures. -30-
Wed Jul 10 2019 08:37PM - Conditions were even worse tonight than last, but I managed to find and work KG8V in MI on 80M for the streak.
I picked my first ripe tomato today. About a month+ late for a normal Siberian tomato, but the plants are doing very good and I should get quite a few more now over the next couple months or so.
Mike will be stopping by tomorrow to do a few things including a demo on QRP/CW at the Beaver Valley ARA tomorrow evening. Hopefully conditions will be better and we can add a couple QSOs to the demo. -30-
Tue Jul 9 2019 8:49PM - I honestly thought we had passed through the sunspot minimum and conditions were improving 2 or 3 months ago. Well, they were, but now I'm convinced that was just a fluke. The last few weeks now I have really had to scramble to get my streak QSO. At least the 13 colonies event helped last week. Tonight though, it was just about the worst I've seen. The KW of W1AW and a couple other stations were the only strong signals I was hearing. Everything else was down in my noise level even though the noise seems to have let up somewhat of late. I started a QSO with KM4DR, but QSB and QRN ended that before it lasted long enough to count as a legit QSO. I continued to look around and found VA3ZB who was a bit stronger but still right at my noise level. We did work a couple rounds so that did count for the streak. Whew!
It was another nice day today although a bit warmer than yesterday. I spent most of the day indoors though. I did some work on my trains. I fixed an indicator light on one of my Lionel switches. The socket was just a press fit and was intermittent. I soldered it, and that cured the problem. Then I did some work on the new layout for my HO trains. I changed some old track to some newer Bachmann EZ track which is what I'll be using exclusively from now on. I got some track connectors in the mail today, and hope to get some pieces of track in a couple more days. -30-
Mon Jul 8 2019 08:42PM - A nice day today with no rain, lower temperature and humidity. So I did some outside work cleaning grass and weeds from my brick sidewalk and painting my front porch railing.
Inside I worked on my trains a bit. I am one track piece short of a second HO circle layout so yesterday I ordered a few extra curved pieces and some straight pieces. I plan to expand my HO layout now that I have the Lionel layout working very good. I want to add some switches and get some buildings now. Also maybe some things like a semaphore, railroad crossing sign, water tower, etc.
I also worked a bit on the smoke units in my 736 and 2037 engines. I think I finally figured out just how much smoke fluid to put in the 736, and also remembered to shake the bottle before adding it. I've got some new smoke pellets for the 2037, and after I use up the last old pellet I have, I'll try them.
Ham radio - It was nice to hear several DX stations on this evening. Apparently getting ready for the IARU Championships. I worked KP2M for the streak, and then just listened around for a while. -30-
Sun Jul 7 2019 08:35PM - And the winner is VA. I worked K2B on 4 different bands. Next were K2E DE, K2G GA, K2H MA ON 3 bands. WM3PEN, K2I NJ, K2C RI, K2F MD on 2 bands. On just a single band were K2L SC, K2J NC, K2M PA, K2K NH, K2A NY, K2D CT. I could have gotten more multi-band QSOs, but I didn't really try until I got all 13 on one band locked in. Tonight I added K2Z which was a special station run by the 13 Colonies folks who run the event, mainly Ken KU2US. I didn't know about K2Z until I was looking at the 13 Colonies web site today. I'm glad I was looking now.
A couple days ago I asked Mike if he would be interested in signing up to operate K2M PA in the 2020 event. He said yes, so we'll see if we can do so. I know they accept QRP stations although the majority are QRO stations with big antenna farms. I was thinking we could operate portable from the place we do our parkpeditions, the Kittanning Community Park. We'll see what develops from the idea. -30-
Sat Jul 6 2019 08:45PM - DX!! Yes, I actually worked DX this evening, and it wasn't that hard. I heard SI9AM in the MM contest, called, got a K3?, sent my call twice and made the QSO with no repeats needed on the exchange. Also tried OH8WW who usually hears me, but not tonight. I also worked a couple K2 stations, but not new for the second time. Worked K2G (K4BAI at the key) for the third time. Also K2E for the third time. Very unlikely now I'll get all 13 at least twice.
We had a cold front come through this evening which cooled it off a bit after a high of 91 earlier in the day. It's supposed to be less humid and cooler tomorrow also.
I worked with my trains a bit today. I cleaned and oiled the wheels on most of my Lionel rolling stock. I also expanded my HO layout a bit and fooled with the train speedometer comparing it's readings against what I computed by measuring lap times. Came out pretty close after I adjusted a couple paramaters on the speedometer and recomputed the readings for the expanded track in my computations. I also cleaned the HO track which I hadn't done in a while. Actually the new old pieces of track I added were the dirtiest as they hadn't been used in I don't know how long by the person who gave the track to me.
Fri Jul 5 2019 09:18PM - I had a busy evening and I'm running a bit late so just a short entry.
I worked a few of the K2 stations this evening. I don't think I'm going to make my secondary goal of working each one at least twice though. I only have the following a second time: GA VA DE MA WM3PEN NJ RI. Conditions were better this evening and maybe if they stay that way I'll have a chance. Let's see, well, it runs until 0400Z Monday so that gives me 2 full days plus to do it.
Anyway time to go walk Roscoe now, so I'll close. -30-
Thu Jul 4 2019 07:40PM - I finally managed to find and work K2K for NH to finish the sweep of the 13 colonies. That was sometime around Noon on 20 meters. At first K2K was barely audible, but the band was unstable and I waited till his signal came up and got him with several repeats. I think that's 4 years in a row now I've gotten the sweep. I'll check that later to be sure.
I think I may try to get all 13 again now before the event ends. I'll use a different band for each one and won't duplicate any on the same band on which I already worked them. I've already got a couple. -30-
Wed Jul 3 2019 08:49PM - Still no NH worked or even heard. There is a huge pileup working something I can't hear on 20 meters. Perhaps a lot of folks need NH also and that's who or what they are working. Oh well, I still have a few days left, and even if I don't get NH, my world isn't going to change or end.
For the streak, I worked K2B on 20 meters.
I had some trouble getting it to work, but I finally did get the train speedometer to work after I played with the USB COM port settings on my laptop. It's a neat little device. I don't know how often I'll be using it, but it is fun to play with for now at least. -30-
Tue Jul 2 2019 08:42PM - Last year it seemed every time I went searching for the 13 Colonies stations, I heard K2K New Hampshire on every band. This year I have 12 of the 13 worked so far. Know which one I still need? That's right.
Late last night I worked K2I NJ for #10. Today I got K2F MD in the 19Z hour, then in the 22Z hour I got #12 in K2C RI as soon as I turned the rig on.
Tonight for my streak I worked K2G on a different band, 30M. I think I'll do the same the rest of the week - just work a K2 station on a new band. Might as well take it easy while I search for elusive NH.
I did a little railroad work today. I hooked up my remote switches to a fixed voltage source since my engines run so efficiently now at low track voltage, the switches don't deploy well at that voltage. Now they do with the separate fixed voltage. I also worked on the train speedometer kit I got yesterday. I just have a few more connections to make and I can try it out. I might wait till tomorrow to finish it up. -30-
Mon Jul 1 2019 08:52PM - 9+1 Down and 4+1 to go. Today in about 1 hour 15 minutes divided between this afternoon and evening I worked K2A NY, K2B VA, K2D CT, K2E DE, K2G GA, K2H MA, K2J NC, K2L SC, K2M PA, + WM3PEN PHILA. Still need K2C RI, K2F MD, K2I NJ, K2K NH + GB3COL to get a clean sweep in this year's 13 Colonies Event. Actually WM3PEN and GB3COL are not needed for the we sweep, just the 13 K2 stations will do, but it's nice to get PEN and COL also. Conditions were really good today all the way from 80 through 20 which made working the K2 stations easy. I worked all that I heard. I could have worked some on multiple bands, but I'm only going for one QSO from each colony.
I got four packages in the mail today from my Ebay browsing. A couple of fixed voltage plugs for my Lionel switches. The Leonard Maltin book on the Little Rascals. A soldering iron stand. A train speedometer. So some new toys to play with the next couple days. -30-