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2019-03-01 00:00:00 GMT-05:00 TILL METEOROLOGICAL SPRING ARRIVES


Fri Dec 14 2018 07:25PM - Conditions seemed better on 80 this evening with several fairly strong signals showing up on the panadaptor. I tried a CQ and it wasn't long before I got an answer from Phil K2NPN in NY.

Otherwise it was another mild day, at least for mid-December standards. It got up to 52 although it was mostly cloudy all day. Some rain coming later this evening and it should be off and on all weekend. The key good word is rain, not s@#w.

I posted a new poll today asking about your plans for 2019 in ham radio. I hope you'll cast your vote. The last poll got 58 voters, the most in a while. Every time I think about ending the polls, I get one with a better response and decide to continue them a while longer. -30-



Thu Dec 13 2018 08:35PM - Poor conditions this evening. I did manage to work my NAQCC friend Mark WG8Y, but copy was very poor and I really didn't copy much more than his call and my RST report. It was a QSO though to continue the streak. I also got another answer to a CQ, but never could get even his call. This local noise is going to drive me crazy. I suggested to Mike that he bring his KX3 down here with its internal battery pack (which I don't have in mine) and we put a short whip antenna on it and we walk around the neighborhood to try and narrow down where it is coming from. Some day when we get some nice weather and he is available, maybe we can try that.

At least the weather was nice today with a high right around 50 depending on which thermometer you were reading. One showed 48, another 52, and I haven't gotten the 'official' one outside in the shelter yet. -30-



Wed Dec 12 2018 02:12PM - OK, now here are the Trolley Museum pictures - most in no particular order - with comments below each one.


Yuletide Trolley

View of the tracks out the Yuletide Trolley front window

Santa with the powerful voiced announcer

Me and Mike with Santa

Model train exhibit with the Lego buildings

Interior of a very old wooden trolley

Another old trolley

One more old trolley from the movie "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Some period advertising signs on one of the trolleys

Me in front of the Yuletide Trolley

Two of the trolley workers in front of the Santa Trolley
And that's it. Hope you enjoyed the short tour. You should really visit the Museum in person if you are interested in such things. -30-



Tue Dec 11 2018 07:46PM - This has not been a very good day. First of all, both engines that came with the train I bought last Thursday are having motor problems. I spent a lot of time working on them and so far, no success. At least the train Mike gave me is still working fine. Then I just noticed one string of lights is out on my Christmas tree. At least it is the 35 light string and not one of the others which are all 50 light strings.

So almost needless to say, I did not get a chance to work on and post the pictures I promised. If tomorrow turns out better, I hope to take care of that.

At least it was a fairly quick and easy streak QSO although QSB killed it prematurely. I worked WB4AEG in GA on 80 meters. -30-



Mon Dec 10 2018 10:22AM - OK, here we go. Fleshing out the outline in yesterday's diary entry.

I got up around 7:30 (EST - all times in this entry will be that) since Mike planned on arriving here at 8:00. I wanted time to get a little breakfast since we probably would be at the Trolley Museum a good part of the day. I ran my newly purchased and refurbished N gauge railroad while I was eating and waiting for Mike.

Mike arrived a little past 8:00 and laid his jacket on a chair and told me not to peek. When he came back from the "little boy's room" as we call it, he pulled out a package from under his coat. Lo and behold, it was a N gauge railroad kit which he said was an early Christmas present. So now I had two railroads whereas three days earlier I had none. Wow. Nothing like model trains to bring out the kid in someone (doesn't take much in me). We set his railroad (now on referred to as Train 2, with mine as Train 1) aside since we had to get to the Trolley Museum for our reserved ride at 11:30. We did have a little time to kill before we left and looked over Train 1 and chatted until about 8:40 or so. Then we set out for the Museum. It was an uneventful ride (meaning we didn't get lost nor make any wrong turns) and we played the alphabet game to pass the time.

We arrived at the Museum around 10:15 or so. That gave us a little over an hour to kill. No problem with all the things to check out there. We got our boarding pass, and then checked out the Lionel model train display. I think more than watching the trains, although that was a joy, watching the (other?) little kids reacting to the display was really enjoyable. They had one N gauge railroad which really interested me because of my new N trains. The lady hosting the exhibit told me that was their first time using an N gauge layout. They wanted to fill in a space and didn't have room for an O gauge Lionel there.

Next we wandered through the souvenir shop, and resisted buying all the great items. It was outside next to take some pictures of the various trolleys. We told the conductors / engineers there we were just waiting for the 11:30 ride. The 10:45 ride was just leaving, and they told us we were welcome to ride the Yuletide Trolley which was departing in about 5 minutes following the Santa Trolley departure. We did that and got about a 30 minute ride along with maybe a dozen or so other folks. Santa's cute female elf did her bit on the ride. She showed us the "naughty/nice" book of Santa and checked all the passengers to see which section of the book they were in. Mike and I barely made the nice section, but we were "iffy". We thought Santa's standards might be a little low if we made the nice section at all.

We arrived back at the station and waited around for the Santa Trolley to return and get ready for the 11:30 departure. This one (as well as the earlier one) was sold out with a mix of kids and parents. We both thought the ratio of kids to parents was higher than the previous year we took the ride. As usual, Santa was "late" in arriving and we all sang "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town" at the end of which he arrived just in time and the ride started. We all passed the time singing Christmas Carols and listening to the train "announcer" (who had one of the loudest voices we've ever heard and didn't need a microphone and amp to be heard) telling some awful Christmas puns and stories.

After Santa then talked with all the young kids and got their Christmas wishes, it was photo time where all the kids (young and old) got their pictures taken with Santa. The Trolley stopped for that, and then it was back to the station, singing along the way again. After we exited, Mike and I chatted with the conductor and engineer. One of them was telling Mike about a program they had at the Museum whereby someone can come and learn to operate a trolley, and after that they could become a volunteer and conduct some of the trolley rides. I figured I was too old for something like that, but Mike is going to pursue it and come to the courses in March. Maybe Mike can have more to add to that the next time he ghost writes my diary entry, but that's all I'll say about it here.

Next we checked out some more exhibits, especially one model railroad setup where all the scenery was made from Legos. It featured a Harry Potter theme. It had to be a lot of work to set that up. Back in the souvenir shop, Mike bought a trolley operators book, and I bought an engineers cap to wear when I play with my new trains. Mike wanted to talk to the engineer or conductor again, and we went outside. They told us that we could take a special tour of the car barn if we wanted. Of course we did, and had a nice chat with the tour host as we looked at various old trolleys there.

That concluded our stay at the Museum and we headed to the Mills and had a meal at the Red Robin restaurant before heading home. Back home we shared some pictures we took at the Museum, chatted about many varied subjects, went to my shack where Mike worked WP3C on 30 meters, and then I said I had another card table. He asked what I had in mind, and I pointed the Train2 box. I set up the table, and we set up the train. I think you could fairly say that I like both trains equally. Train1 because I pretty much resurrected it from its grave, and Train2 because it was such a thoughtful gift from a very good friend.

We played with both trains, and did a little work on Train1 tweaking some little things that still hadn't been working 100% yet. After that Train1 got very close to the 100% mark. Train2 was at 100% right out of the box. The only thing is that, the couplers on the train sets are not quite compatible with each other although each will run on the other layout.

And that fleshes out the skeleton of the trolley visit. Mike left and our next visit is on Christmas when we go out and check out the Christmas lights around town.

I was going to intersperse pictures from yesterday in this entry, but now I just decided I'd post them separately in tomorrow's entry since there are so many to look at and narrow down to those I want to use. Then edit and crop those, etc. -30-



Sun Dec 09 2018 08:14PM - Just a great day all around today. I'll write it up more fully in tomorrow's entry and just give a synopsis today. Mike arrived around 8AM and after a half hour or a little more of visiting, we headed to the Trolley Museum and arrived there I guess around a little past 10AM. Our reserved ride was at 11:30AM so we had time to kill which wasn't hard to do with all the things to do and see at the Museum. Our ride lasted about 45 minutes on the "Santa Trolley". We hung around the Museum for a while, then headed to the Pittsburgh Mills where we ate a meal at the Red Robin restaurant. Back home here again where we shared some pictures we took, went to my shack where Mike worked WP3C. Then played with my train plus another one that Mike gave me as an "early" Christmas present. Mike left, and I went and got my streak QSO from K8CCG. Now I'm doing my laundry so I'll have time tomorrow to more fully document today. -30-



Sat Dec 08 2018 07:47PM - Still hanging in there with the streak nearing 8,900 days now. Thanks go to Brady KD8ZM for tonight's streak QSO. 80 was decent tonight, but not much activity. It must be that a lot of folks have put away their keys for the duration of the sunspot minimum. There sure is not as much activity as there was a couple years, or even one year ago. I don't think it's strictly due to my high local noise level either, although that is a factor also.

Three things occupied my time today. I spent some extra time with Roscoe today while his owner Bruce was driving a charter school bus to a wrestling match which took almost the whole day. I also did some more tweaking and testing of my new train set. I think getting it up and running is more enjoyable than watching it run. HI I also listened to some CDs/DVDs of Christmas music that I've gathered mostly at the Ol' Station Marketplace. Some of it is very good, some not all that good. I still have more to check out. I just listened to a 1940s collection of Christmas songs in the big band style which was good. I like big band music. -30-



Fri Dec 07 2018 08:27PM - After a tease last night with good conditions on 80, tonight it was back to the same old story tonight, if not even worse than ever. I managed to work Bill KA4KSB, but after a pretty good round and a half or so, we lost each other in QSB and QRN on my end also. But the streak goes on. Sunday might be rough. I hope I get someone tomorrow evening since I'll be away a good part of the day on Sunday at the Trolley Museum near Washington, PA.

I did quite a bit more work on my railroad today, and solved most of the little problems. Some axles had come loose or even came off all the way from the bogie(ey)s. Fortunately they were all there and I was able to fix them. However one bogie was missing altogether from one boxcar. Another bogie was off altogether and the pin holding it to the car was missing, so I improvised with a nail and some super glue. Now I have a pretty good collection of rolling stock to play with. There is one more little problem, well actually two. Some of the couplers on the cars are a bit balky, and need some attention. Also the track comes apart every now and then. I don't want to fasten it down solidly yet though, and tried some double sided tape which didn't work all that well. I'm trying one spot with rubber cement now to see if that works and still lets me remove it when I change the layout. It's all a lot of fun even though it's rough sometime with the small N scale and my old eyes. HI. -30-



Thu Dec 06 2018 07:42PM - I got my "toy" train today. It was still available so I grabbed it up. It is an N gauge railroad. It needs some work and I did some of that today. I've got a small oval track set up and in operation. There were two engines with it, and I took the one into the shop and after some cleaning up, crazy gluing one broken wheel support, and some light oiling, it works like a charm so far. The other one doesn't run at all - yet. I will work on it, maybe tomorrow. A lot of the rolling stock is not in the best of shape and some have missing wheels. They will need work. There is a nice set of passenger cars that look in great shape, but I haven't tried them out yet. It also came with two power units and both of them work fine. I think I got a good deal, and I love working on things like that, maybe even more so than something that works perfectly right out of the box. Perhaps when Mike and I go to the model railroad museum around Christmas, I can pick up some accessories or some more rolling stock, extra track, switches, etc. I always did want to get a small gauge railroad and now I have the start of one. I had an American Flyer and Lionel when I was a kid, and also got started with an HO setup, but never got very far with it. Ever since I saw the smaller gauges like N, I knew that was for me and I would have one some day.

Once again this evening my new friend Robert NW2Z answered my 80 meters CQ for my (and his?) streak QSO. The band was pretty good this evening with several good sized peaks on the PX3 as soon as I turned it on. -30-



Wed Dec 05 2018 07:38PM - It was a struggle tonight, but I finally worked KB0HXL in MN on 80. However I lost him after a while in my noise. He wanted to QSY to 160 to give it a try, but I never could copy the frequency he wanted to try. I suggested 1812 if he was copying me, but when I listened there, I only heard a little wisp of a signal and couldn't copy anything. I don't know if it was him or not. Anyway the streak still lives.

Nothing else to comment on today. I am looking forward to Sunday and a visit to the Trolley Museum with Mike. Looks like nice weather.

Also looking forward to tomorrow when the Ol' Station Marketplace opens as it does every Thursday. There was a nice model railroad setup there last week. Looked like maybe N gauge, but I really didn't have time to check it out then. If it is still there tomorrow, I think I'll get it no matter what gauge it is, if the price is right. I'm getting more and more into railroading here. Watching a lot of railroad videos on the Internet. Also I mentioned in the diary several weeks ago I've been looking at some of my old railfan records from when the Pennsylvania/Penn Central/Conrail ran through town here just an easy stone's throw from my house. -30-



Tue Dec 04 2018 06:38PM - As I promised, here are some pictures of my Christmas decorations.
angels
tree
manger

I thought I would take care of that before I head to the shack to get my streak QSO in a few minutes. Nothing out of the ordinary today except I had my gutters cleaned as I do each year after the leaves are all down. They were late this year, but plentiful. The fellows pulled out a big garbage bag full of them this year. I'm glad that's out of the way now. -30-



Mon Dec 03 2018 07:50PM - After yesterday in the 60s it was back to reality today with steady to slowly falling temperatures in the low-mid 40s. The outlook for this week is good though with cold temperatures, but virtually none of the horrid white stuff.

The bands, especially 80 seemed a little better this evening with several signals breaking through my high local noise. I had a nice chat with Hank K9LZJ that went about 25 solid minutes, then Robert NW2Z called to give me another 2 QSO evening. -30-



Sun Dec 02 2018 07:41PM - Well, we're only a few days away from the earliest sunset around 40N latitude. On December 7, the sun sets here at 4:48PM EST. Actually for a few days before and after that date, it's also 4:48PM rounded to the nearest minute. Then we gradually get a little more daylight each evening. Actually not really enough to notice for a while, but at least we're going in the right direction. Any sign, no matter how tiny and insignificant that points toward the end of winter is welcome.

Actually today was more like mid-October than early December with a high of 65 and presently it's still 45. Nice to walk outside without the heavy winter coat and hat. It's only a one day respite though. Back to the 30s and 40s again tomorrow.

The bands responded to the nice weather - well...... at least 80 seemed a bit better this evening. After I worked WZ2J in NJ for the streak, NW2Z called me and we had our fourth QSO in the past several days and Robert was the strongest of any of those QSOs tonight. -30-



Sat Dec 01 2018 07:09PM - Not a lot to report again today. I did my first of the month banking early this morning and picked up some groceries along the way. I wanted to get all that done before the predicted rain arrived, and I did. At least it was rain and not s#$w, thank goodness. We did have a couple pauses in an otherwise steady rain - just enough to take Roscoe out for his walks.

I got another quick 160M Contest QSO for my streak this evening. This time from VA2EW. It was nice to have two easy evenings in a row for the Streak. Tomorrow evening it will probably be rough again. -30-



Fri Nov 30 2018 07:29PM - Another month closed out. Where does the time go and why does it accelerate when we get older? I only made 32 QSOs this month, the lowest in I don't know how long. Chalk that up to the double whammy of my strong local noise and poor propagation near the sunspot minimum. Also not getting on during the day to take advantage of the better conditions in the daylight hours.

Of course tonight I used the 160M Contest for my streak QSO. Good thing too, as I didn't see any signals on 80 meters in a quick scan on the PX3.

The ARRL FD results are now in the ARRL Contest database. Here's how Mike KC2EGL and I made out with our N3A operation back in June. Columns are Category, # Participants, Our overall finish, and Our finish in WPA.
2B2B      -   7 - 2nd,  1st
QRP       - 276 - 20th, 1st
QRP 2 ops -   ? - 4th,  1st
WPA       -  42 - 5th,  5th
WPA 2 ops -   3 - 1st,  1st
Not too bad for our very simple setup. We should do even better next year all things being equal except we now have our bandpass filters which should cut down on cross-station interference. -30-



Thu Nov 29 2018 08:10PM - My streak QSO again tonight was from Robert NW2Z. Conditions weren't all that bad and we managed to have a 27 minute chat about a few different things.

There wasn't a lot going on today out of the ordinary everyday things. I did want to check the bands during the afternoon, but never did get to it. It looks like this weekend will be easy for the streak with the 160 meters contest going on. My noise on that band is lower than it is on 80 and 40 which are the worst bands. -30-



Wed Nov 28 2018 10:22PM - This was the fourth Wednesday of the month, and regular diary readers know what that means. It was pizza night with Mike KC2EGL. No bike ride for Mike this evening so he arrived early around 6:30 PM. We had the pizza and then headed for the shack. The bands were their usual horrible selves with nothing in the way of DX nor not much in the way of W/VE stations either. About the best band was 160, and that was where I got my streak QSO from K1RX in NH. After a few more minutes listening, we gave up and watched a British comedy, "Are You Being Served?".

Next up, Mike helped me solve a vibration in my computer desk. He correctly deduced that it might be a couple of loose screws in the desk frame. With that fixed, we played a hidden object game till it was time for him to head north.

After that, I went over to see about Roscoe. Bruce had taken him out already. We watched an old Our Gang episode, then I came over here and am writing this diary entry.

Before I close, I want to tell you about something I did today that I hadn't done in a long while. I worked some DX!!!. I did some work on my antenna switch, and while I was checking it out, I saw a big peak on 17 meters on the PX3. I tuned to see who it was. It wasl H7/RM0F working split. I set up and got him on the first call even though I hadn't set the KX3 tuner yet and I had a high SWR. I'll have to try to not get involved in so many other things during the day and get on the bands more often then.

I also finished my Christmas decorating today. I'll take some pictures and post them here in the diary, probably not till December 1st though. -30-



Tue Nov 27 2018 07:51PM - The bands were very changeable this evening, especially 80. I had two QSOs started, and never got past the first round with the first one, so I didn't log it. The second one started out good, then went downhill, but we did exchange enough info to count it. So the streak limps on.

I did get my window trimmed today. Picture below. I also brought down all the rest of the ornaments from the second floor and the tree from the attic. I wasn't going to trim the tree till tomorrow, but I did get the lights on it anyway this evening.

It was not a good weather day today. I never saw the temperature vary more than two degrees, 29 to 31. Plus we had a trace of the ugly s@#w to top it off. Well, it's only about 93 days till March l and spring now. I'll have to start my spring countdown at the top of the diary page soon. In fact I'll do it now.

Finally here's the decorated window: (Apologies for the ugly white stuff outside across the street.)
window

-30-



Mon Nov 26 2018 08:32PM - Still no improvement in conditions - not that I'm expecting any soon. But the streak rolls (crawls?) along. I see only one day on this log page that goes back to November 14 that I didn't get my QSO in the 0000Z hour, and that day it was in the 0300Z hour. Perhaps even with my local noise and poor propagation I can make it through the sunspot minimum after all. Maybe then I can try another DX streak also.

At least the poor conditions are giving me a chance to do a lot of work around the house like cleaning out the basement and getting rid of a lot of junk. Also tonight I just brought down the rest of my Christmas decorations. I think tomorrow I'll decorate the window with my traditional manger scene stencils as I've done for what must be well over 55-60 years now. I'm not sure just when we switched from a Santa theme to a religious one, but I wasn't very old when we transitioned. Then maybe the next day I'll put up and decorate the tree. I'll have some pictures of it all when it's done. -30-



Sun Nov 25 2018 07:53PM - For the first time in years I didn't get any DX QSOs in the CQWW DX Contest. I didn't bother even trying to fight my local noise as it would have been too nerve-wracking and hectic, especially the rapid switching between RCV and XMT antennas which probably would have been done a lot. Oh well, I've had more than my fair share of fun and success in past years' CQWW DX Contests. So really no big deal. I think though that a main project this winter will be seeing what can be done about the noise. You've sent me some good suggestions which I plan to try out when I get more free time (when the s@#w starts to get serious).

I posted some info about our Requin subpedition to the NAQCC email list and my site has been flooded with visits since then. Welcome to all the frst time visitors. I hope you'll drop by regularly. My visits the past three days have numbered 280, 298, and 106 vs. a daily average of late around 90. I guess it pays to "advertise". HI

It wasn't too hard getting my streak QSO this evening. There were several stations on 80 breaking through my noise so I called CQ and Brad KR8P answered me. I was able to copy him solidly except for a couple words.

Oh, I neglected to thank Mike for ghost writing the diary entry on Friday, so thanks Mike. -30-



Sat Nov 24 2018 07:24PM - My ghost writer Mike said I would have stats and a photo from our Requin subpedition yesterday, so here goes.

First my stats, then Mike's, then combined.
QSOs    12  -  16  -  28
States   7  -  12  -  14
DX  (CT3, HC) (CM, PY, KH6) (CT3, HC, CM, PY KH6)
Plus Mike worked Ontario
We worked 2/3 of a WAC - NA, SA, AF, OC.
Our first QSO came at 1515Z, last at 1954Z
QSOs by hour - 1500-12, 1600-4, 1700-3, 1800-4, 1900-5.
QSOs by band - 40-11, 30-6, 20-10, 15-1.
It was pretty much the usual pattern of any parkpedition or subpedition. They start off with a burst of activity for the first hour or maybe two, then die out rapidly. This time the answers to our CQs died out after a couple hours, so we went on and switched to chasing some DX.

I would like to comment on a new problem that developed on the Requin the last couple times we were there. There is now some strong wide band noise on 20 meters that really ruins reception centered pretty much on our planned 14059 frequency and extending up and down 15-20 kHz from there. So we spent much less time calling CQ on 20 than we planned. The 20M QSOs were mostly DX that we chased and caught on the lower portion of the band. I think for our next subpedition sometime early next year we'll announce a frequency lower in the 20 meter band, maybe around 14025-14030 and see how that works out.

We were having such a good time making contacts, kidding around with our host Art, and interacting with many many visitors who passed by the radio room that we forgot about taking our usual pictures. However Mike came up with a view of the sub from the other side of the river. I'm not sure when or from just where he took it, but here it is.

USS Requin


-30-



Fri Nov 23 2018 06:29PM - Good evening everyone. Tonight I will be filling in as John's ghost writer.

Our day started out around 8:45AM when I arrived at John's QTH. We chatted for a few minutes before heading to the USS Requin at the Carnegie Science Center. We arrived shortly before 10AM where we met Art WA3BKD the caretaker of the sub. He escorted us below to the radio room where we set up shop for the day. Radio activity was very busy for the first hour or so and died down as usual. There was a steady stream of visitors to the sub all day long. Most would stop by and ask what we were up to. We explained that we are priviledged to be allowed to operate from the Requin multiple times during the year. Some were surprized to find out that Morse Code is still in use. Everyone were quite fascinated with the sub. With all the visit's John and I have made to the sub we are still fascinated with her. We were on the air until 3:30PM or so before we packed up for the day. Thanks again to Art WA3BKD for allowing us to 'play radio' (as we tell the visitors to the sub) once again.

After we departed the Science Center we took off for another of our favorite activities. Yes we stopped at Chili's for an early dinner. Then we headed back to John's QTH were John showed me his new portable antenna mast for the QRP Guy's vertical antenna's we built a couple of weeks ago.

Now its time for me to get ready to head North to my QTH since tomorrow is an early wake up for me (retirement can't come soon enough). Until the next time John needs a day off.

DE Mike, KC2EGL 73.

P.S. John will have some stats and a photo from todays SubPedition. -30-



Thu Nov 22 2018 08:15PM - I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving as I did here. My neighbor Bruce and his brother invited me to have dinner with them in nearby Templeton which I guess is around 10 miles from here. It would just be the four of us. But that's only three, you say. Regular diary readers probably know where I'm going with this. Yep, party #4 would be Roscoe. I wondered what it would be like taking him along in the van. It would be the first ride in the van for him, and only the third place he ever went to other than the groomer or the vet. He usually is excited and whimpering going to those two places. However it was a very peaceful quiet ride today, both going and coming back. He did wander around the van going, but coming home, he staked out a seat and stuck with it all the way. The meal was pretty much traditional Thanksgiving fare - turkey, stuffing, stuffing balls, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, cranberry sauce, olives, and pumpkin pie. I probably left something out too as there was so much there. Roscoe had a little bit of each also. He didn't seem to care for the cranberries though. Now being fully stuffed, we just sat and watched a dog show followed by the Macy's annual Thanksgiving Parade.

Robert NW2Z was my streak QSO again as he once again answered my CQ on 80 meters. It was somewhat of a rough QSO with QSB and my local noise, but I think we exchanged more info than the last QSO. I'm not sure how the CW Academy works, but I think he said he achieved a new level there. He also said he is doing a CW QSO a day after reading about my streak and being inspired to do so. At least I'm pretty sure that's what he said. It was rough with moderate QSB taking a run of letters into the noise followed by a run of easily copied letters at 579 and then filling in the blanks so to speak.

Anyway, now I can enjoy the subpedition to the Requin with Mike tomorrow with my streak QSO safely logged. Saturday and Sunday should be no problem with the CQWW DX Contest in full swing. Hey, I may even find out what it's like to work DX again although I don't intend to put in as much of an effort as I usually do in the big DX contests. Maybe if signals are good enough to regularly overcome my noise, I'll rethink that though. We'll see. -30-



Wed Nov 21 2018 07:50PM - Nothing. The bands afe still further down this evening. I only heard one NCS station on 80 plus a few stations chasing some DX that I couldn't hear on 160 and 80. Very discouraging.

I'll try our NAQCC sprint a little later tonight, but I doubt any of the QRP signals can make it through my noise. Then there is the CWT a little later. That's probably my best choice to keep the streak going. -30-



Tue Nov 20 2018 07:45PM - When I got up from my shack chair after working NW2Z in NC on 80 I said to myself another day, another QSO. Yes, the streak goes on, and I followed that thought with the thought the streak continues with the current conditions even further proves the effectiveness of QRP, or does it really? What is making the streak harder to keep going is not really the power that I'm running as it always works, no matter what. It's more a problem of me hearing "them" than it is "them" hearing me. Perhaps what it is proving now is that I'm just a stubborn old coot, to stubborn to give up and too determined to keep going. At least the streak is giving me food for philosophizing about things.

One of my ongoing projects of late is cleaning out a lot of junk in my house, especially that in the basement. Hopefully getting the basement cleaned out will give me a chance to better organize my many woodworking tools and allow me to make it into a neater woodworking shop so I can enjoy that hobby some more and pass the time till the sunspots return and/or my noise goes away. I built a couple nice shelves today above my main work area so I can keep the tools I use most often handy right in front of me instead of having to dig in this toolbox or that toolbox or drawer and wherever else they may wind up after I use them. All that provides a lot of satisfaction while helping to pass the time. -30-



Mon Nov 19 2018 07:31PM - As I sit at the rig struggling to find someone strong enough to make it through my local noise or while I'm sitting there calling CQ, I get a lot of time to think about things. Tonight I was thinking about those folks who over the years say they just can't seem to make any QSOs with QRP or sometimes even with say, 50 watts. Apparently they may be in a situation similar to what I'm in here the past couple months or so with a constant high local noise level at the bottom of a sunspot cycle. I've pretty much come to the conclusion without my many years of activity on the bands I too may be thinking that QRP doesn't work. It may not work as well as in a quiet location and/or at a better point in the sunspot cycle, but it does work if you've learned all the skills required to work with QRP power levels over the years. Just never give up even if the odds are stacked against you. First of all become adept through practice of digging weak signals out of the noise. Try different receiving antennas, better bandwith and noise filters to find a combination that makes things better for you. Practice copying CW at much faster speeds than you normally copy. It is easier to copy weak signals at slow speeds if you can easily copy strong CW at much higher speeds. That aspect is often overlooked by many hams. If you can't find anyone to work on a band, try calling CQ yourself. You will be surprised how many times a CQ will lead to a QSO on an otherwise seemingly dead band. Don't just call CQ once and give up though. You must persist quite a while, at least 10 or 15 minutes, then it may be that the band is really dead, and it would be wise to try another band, or try later in the day. Persist, persist, persist, and if you have the time, you too can get at least one QRP QSO each and every day as I have done for closing in on a quarter century now. End of pep talk, now get out there on that field and win one for the Gipp...... Oh wait, that's the closing to another speech years ago. -30-



Sun Nov 18 2018 08:19PM - A couple of observations. First one good thing about my strong local noise of late. At least my furnace noise no longer bothers me as the other noise overrides it. It seems better to have a steady noise than one that cuts in and out as the furnace does. If I can work someone from the beginning now, I don't have to worry about the furnace coming on and ruining a QSO in mid-streak. Of course QSB can still do that as always.

This is only the second day this month I've made more than a single QSO. 80 meters was good tonight so after I made one QSO with WD8KNL in OH who answered my CQ, I did a bit of working on my antenna switch tightening up a loose knob on the receive switch, I heard N8DUS calling CQ and decided to go for a second QSO, and made it, before I QRT for the evening.

The temperature has been trading in a very narrow range here - basically it's been between 30 and 40 for 5 straight days until today when we broke through and got close to 50 for a while. Right now it's starting to rain a bit and looks like a rain/light snow mix the next few days off and on. It looks like Friday will the best day this week and that's good since we go on our subpedition to the Requin in Pittsburgh that day. -30-



Sat Nov 17 2018 07:24PM - The LZ DX Contest which is a worldwide contest with everyone working everyone provided a quick 0000Z streak QSO this evening when I worked W3UA on 80 meters.

I pretty much finished the mounting pole for the antenna Mike and I built the other day. As I said, it's all from my junk bok and the price is $0.00. I decided to post a couple pictures of it here with some comments.

antenna mount


Above from top to bottom is a piece of angle stock pointed to drive in the ground, then an old window blind rod that slips into the clamps on the angle stock, then a piece of PVC pipe that slips onto the hole in the rod where the spring was mounted, after that a second piece of PVC pipe with a dowel in the end to mate it with the other PVC pipe, finally a 10 foot crappie pole that slips over the second PVC pipe with a homebrew wooden washer on the pipe to adjust the overall length of the mast and to keep the crappie pole from slipping down too far on the PVC pipe.

antenna mount


This is a view of the lower portion assembled, and below is the upper potion showing the crappie pole.

antenna mount

I get great satisfaction out of building things from junk, and also enjoy the savings. I could have just bought a 20 foot crappie pole and spent some money and saved some time, but that wouldn't provide nearly as much fun and satisfaction. -30-



Fri Nov 16 2018 07:40PM - A quick QSO tonight from N2MM, Carol in NJ on 80 meters. Before that, I almost worked OM2VL on 80. He never got more than a partial call from me, WP one time, and K3 another. Oh well. -30-