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-
Thu Nov 15 2018 07:19PM - We were really blessed here today. No freezing rain, and no sleet to speak of. Actually it rained most of the day although in the past hour it changed over to light s#$w. That is extremely good compared to most of the rest of Pennsylvania who really got hammered. Many places had a top 5 of all time greatest s@#wfall for the month of November.
To pass the time while waiting out the storm, I was down in the basement working on building a mount for the antenna project I built with Mike the other day. I didn't spend a single cent on it. I just used parts from my well stocked junk boxes. I say boxes because not only do I have electronic junk boxes, but woodworking, metalworking, and just general junk boxes.
My QSO tonight came from W7FW in IL on 80 meters. He was running a KW, but with the poor conditions, he didn't sound like it. I'm surprised he copied my QRP signals as well as he did. -30-
Wed Nov 14 2018 07:35PM - Well, the streak marches on through the rough times. For the third night in a row, I've gotten my QSO via my CQ. Tonight it was Dick WB3AVF in NE PA on 80 meters. A lot of QSB as usual, but a pretty solid 11 minute QSO.
Winter weather advisory for tomorrow which is way too ridiculously early for anything like that. Earlier freezing rain was in the mix, but now it is sleet and s#$w which is better, although still bad. Predictions are for anything between an inch and 5 inches as we are right on the edge of the storm.
What ham gear do you want for Christmas? That's my new poll which made its debut a little earlier today. I hope you'll vote in the poll via the link on my home page or at the top of this diary page. -30-
Tue Nov 13 2018 07:36PM - After the busy day with Mike yesterday, today was quiet and uneventful. I guess the highlights were fixing an old pendulum clock that I bought at the Ol' Station Marketplace a couple years ago. Every once in a while it unexplicably loses a few minutes. I think just to confuse me. Anyway when I reset it last night, the pendulum stopped swinging. I couldn't do anything with it last night, and saved it for this morning. When I looked at it, the mechanism was slightly out of vertical, and the pendulum activator was rubbing against the side of the works. A bit of tweaking and it's working fine again. I also installed a new doorbell button to replace the one with a burned out light. So hopefully now folks will ring it and not just knock so quietly that I can't hear them if I'm in a somewhat distant part of the house.
This evening was a bit more interesting. I got an answer to my 40M CQ from WA9JTU/P, but I never heard him after that as the band changed, I guess. The bands were not bad tonight with quite a few signals on 40 where I stayed most of the time for a change. I called CQ again and this time got an answer from Kevin KC3RN. Kevin is a member of our NAQCC Western PA Chapter, and we've met in person at a few hamfests around the area. He is from Pittsburgh which is about 40 miles from here. It's always nice to work someone on the air whom you've met in person, or vice versa for that matter. It just adds a bit to the relationship.
Looks like I forgot to mention this in yesterday's diary entry, but when Mike was here, I got a phone call from Art WA3BKD at the Requin submarine. He told us that he wouldn't be there the day before Thanksgiving which as I've said was when we planned to make our subpedition. So we asked how about the day after Thanksgiving. He said that should be fine. So make a note of the date change for that if you would like to join or work us from the sub. That's always a lot of fun with Art whose sense of humor runs parallel to Mike's and mine. -30-
Mon Nov 12 2018 06:38PM - Today as I had been saying was a Mike visit day, and those days are always good and busy ones. Today was no exception. Mike arrived around 9:15AM and we spent a while talking college football before getting on to a couple projects.
The first project was building a new antenna for our portable operations. It was a kit from qrpguys.com - a tri-band 40,30,20 vertical antenna which required minimal assembly and went fairly smoothly with only a couple glitches. It involved winding a couple toroids and we never have that go smoothly although it wasn't too bad today. Pictures follow below.
When we finished the assembly of the circuit board, it was time for a meal at Wendy's along with a trip to a hardware store to pick up a couple parts for the rest of the antenna project.
Back home we measured out some wire for the antenna and ground plane wires. After that we fixed up the rest of the mount which consisted of some PVC pipe and a long bolt to support it in the ground to hold the 17 foot mast on which the antenna, radials, and circuit board mounted. Some minor tweaks finished the antenna project.
Next it was connecting some power pole connectors to a couple lithium polymer batteries. That's another thing that never goes all that smoothly - hooking up power pole connectors. I kidded Mike that if we'd known we were going to make so many power pole connections we should have bought the $30 or so dollars crimping tool when we first started working with them a few years ago. We'd have saved a lot of aggravation over those years. We did get the connections made and they worked well hooked to my PX3 as a test.
One final project was Mike's computer. It has been running very slowly lately and I suggested he needed to increase his RAM from the 4GB it has now. 8 is the maximum it can handle, so he is going to get 2 4GB chips to increase the RAM to 8GB total. That should help because we checked his RAM usage and the physical RAM was just about maxed out and a lot of programming was being paged out to his hard drive slowing things down. So we'll see what the increased RAM does to help.
Mike is just leaving now, so I'll bid him farewell, go get my streak QSO and come back and post some pictures from today.
It was a struggle, but finally VA3SZ answered my 160M CQ for the streak QSO. Took about a half hour to get the QSO.
Now here are the pictures of our projects. Just a couple. The one at left is the antenna circuit board with all parts mounted. At right the LiPo batteries with the power pole connectors attached.
Sun Nov 11 2018 08:09PM - Just how poor are the bands here? Well, Bill W9ZN with his KW station was only about 579 on 80 meters for our QSO tonight. Again though, I think the noise here is a major part of the problem as Bill copied my QRP signals almost solidly for our 15 minute QSO. I don't know. Maybe among our other projects tomorrow, Mike and I can play around with my little loop antenna and see if we can get it to help with the noise.
Another cold day today, but at least nowhere near as windy as yesterday, so it didn't feel as cold despite the actual temperatures being only a couple degrees warmer.
I guess that covers the day. Hopefully I'll have more to write about tomorrow, or maybe Mike will do a ghost writing job for me in the diary. We'll see. -30-
Sat Nov 10 2018 07:53PM - It was nice to work my old friend Gary N2ESE tonight. We haven't worked much lately since my local noise started here. Let's see....we've worked 216 times now, but tonight was the first time since May 17 this year. 80 did seem a little busier this evening so I called CQ and Gary found me and gave a call.
I'm looking forward to Monday when Mike will be visiting. We've got a couple ham radio projects in mind plus our usual eating projects. HI
This was not a good day weatherwise. When I got up this morning, there was some of the ugly white stuff on the ground. Also it was very windy all day today and with the temperature not getting out of the 30s, the wind chill was at least down in the teens and maybe even single digits. Not very pleasant at all, but I did take a walk downtown to the store to pick up a couple grocery items. -30-
Fri Nov 09 2018 07:19PM - Conditions seemed a little better tonight. At least I was hearing more sigs on 160 through 30 meters. My QSO came on 160 though when I answered a CQ from KN4ZQ in VA. I did fool around a little today with my loop antenna and got some mixed results which I will have to sort out before I move on with the experiment.
The 2018 ARRL Field Day results were finally released today, at least in the QST Digital Edition. Our N3A operation with me and Mike KC2EGL netted us second place in our category of 2B - 2 operators - Battery power. Overall in the total of 5 2B categories, we came in 3rd out of about 30 participants. The results in the digital edition don't lend themselves to further analysis. That will have to wait till the results are added to the ARRL Contest Database. As of this afternoon they were not there yet. -30-
Thu Nov 08 2018 08:00PM - I'm beginning to think more and more that my local noise is more of a problem than the poor propagation. When I work someone, the contact is solid and I get good (up to legit 599) reports. The problem with my noise is getting a good s/n ratio so I can copy. To do that, I have to use other than my main antenna to listen with. That is, to work someone on 80, I must use say my 15 meter vertical dipole. That reduces my noise from S9 plus to around S4 and consequently lowers the received sigs as well, but does give the better s/n ratio for good copy. I think I'm going to have to experiment with a small loop antenna with which I may be able to null out the noise and still keep the signals stronger and more in the clear. Now all I need is the time to do the experimenting. I do have a small loop here I built a few years ago. I'll report any results here in the diary.
Tonight I got an answer to my 80 meters CQ from N3WT in Maryland and we had a nice solid 10 minute QSO before he had to QRT. -30-
Wed Nov 07 2018 07:54PM - Once again I had to go down (up?) to the Top Band (160) for my QSO tonight. And a good QSO it was with a nearby friend in Apollo, PA - about 20 miles from here. It was an almost 100% solid QSO for 21 minutes despite strange QSB and my local QRN. I guess the QSB was mainly from a combination of ground wave and sky wave reception. Who was it? Oh, Geo W3ANX. It had been a while since we worked, and the first time on 160. Our last QSO was back in July 2012 when I was using my K2 a few months before the KX3 came into my life.
It was another nice day today. Not as warm as yesterday and more of a breeze, but still nice for early November. I raked some more leaves, walked Roscoe, and did a little walking myself. I also cleaned up a bit more in my basement and got rid of a few more things here and there. It's still a mess though. HI. Not much else to say about today. -30-
Tue Nov 06 2018 07:23PM - On and on it goes. Poor conditions, high noise, low activity, but still the streak goes on. Tonight it was a 10 minute chat with Jim K8MPH in Kalamazoo, MI on 80 meters.
Otherwise today was a very nice day, weatherwise with a lot of Sun (I think that's what it's called. It's been a long time here without seeing that bright object in the sky.) and a high in the mid 60s. It was quite breezy though so it didn't feel like the mid 60s, but it was good enough for me. I even got to sit on the porch with Roscoe for quite a while. I started the day off by casting my vote, then I walked Roscoe right after that. A neighbor friend of mine then did a little plastering up in my attic. I took a couple walks. I raked some leaves. I don't have any deciduous trees on my property, only the one little evergreen, but the neighbors' trees gladly share their leaves each fall, especially on a breezy day like today. Hopefully a couple more rakings, and they'll all be down by then. -30-
Mon Nov 05 2018 07:51PM - What a big difference a day makes (plus the absence of a big contest - HI). Last evening almost wall to wall signals on 80, 40, and 20. Tonight nothing on 40 and 20. The usual net stations on 80 plus a couple others. I had a great visit with K2ZF in NJ on 80. Solid copy both ways for 23 minutes and could have gone longer, but my phone rang and wanted to QRT to see who it was. We had geomagnetic storms today so that affected conditions adversely also along with the low sunspot numbers and QRN, etc. -30-
Sun Nov 04 2018 07:59PM - Let me first post 3 pictures from today's WACOM hamfest, then do my comments after that just to be different. HI.
The left and right pictures are just a wide view of the hamfest setup, the first from ground level, and the second looking down from a 'balcony'. In the middle picture are L-R, Tom WB3FAE, Bob WC3O, John K3WWP, and Mike KC2EGL.
We had hoped to have more of our WPA Chapter members there, but we guess all were busy with other activities. Anyway it was nice to wander around with Tom, Bob, and Mike. We also saw Art WA3BKD from the Requin, and he pretty much assured us we could make our annual day before Thanksgiving trip to operate from the Requin, but to check a couple days beforehand just to be sure.
Mike arrived here shortly before 8 AM and with one minor deviation when we missed a turn, the trip was uneventful. We arrived a little past 9 AM and stayed for a couple hours. Mike and I both bought a couple things. He bought a mini-manual for some piece of equipment and some power pole connectors to use at the Requin. It was more a woodworkingfest for me as I bought a hearing protector for my woodshop work, some wood clamps, and a couple DPDT toggle switches for ham radio use.
When we left, we headed for Best Buy to mostly look around and drool a little over all the great computer, etc. stuff they have there. I bought a 4 port USB hub to have some more USB ports available for my new computer.
Of course, next it was on to some place to eat. We chose Max and Erma's. Mike had some Buffalo chicken and macaroni dish and I had chicken tenders and onion rings.
One more stop before heading home. We both bought a pair of new shoes at Dick's Sporting Goods, and Mike added some gloves to keep his hands warm on his mail route.
Back home again. We kibbitzed a while, then went to my shack where Mike worked, I think 11 QSOs in the SS. I just enjoyed watching him work while I took it easy. 15 meters was in good shape, and he worked OR, UT, ID, AZ, NM, TX, and I think SD and maybe one or two other states.
Then we finished out the very enjoyable day watching a couple episodes of one of our favorite British Comedies, "Are You Being Served?" before Mike headed home.
We'll be getting together again next Monday for the observed Veterans Day to do a couple projects and of course enjoy a meal somewhere. -30-
Sat Nov 03 2018 08:13PM - Of course an easy streak QSO this evening courtesy of the SS and N8NA, Karl in DE. Should be the same tomorrow evening with someone else.
Tomorrow Mike and I get together and head for Canonsburg, PA for the WACOM Hamfest. If you're in the area, why not stop by and look us up and maybe find some good bargains. We were there a couple years ago, and they had a very nice assortment of vendors selling just about anything you could imagine. I'm guessing it will be the same or better this year. They have a brand new venue this year. For more info do a Bing search for "WACOM Hamfest 2018".
Mike and I plan to arrive around 9 AM and stay at least a few hours before we head out to get something to eat around Cranberry Township. Then in the same place, we'll be going to Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy for some shopping. After that, back home here.
Oh, we won't be setting up at the hamfest, just visiting hoping to see some ham friends and maybe we'll find some bargains also. -30-
Fri Nov 02 2018 09:21AM - Yes, 9:21 AM. About 12 hours earlier than usual for a diary entry. I just had a very nice QSO, and I think this time of day needs to be explored more as I found band conditions quite good. I may have to readjust my daily schedule to take advantage if the evenings continue to be as poor as they have been lately. This morning I found several good signals on both 40 and 20 including some DX on 20. I didn't work the DX as they weren't hearing me. YL100K was strong, but had a pretty good sized pileup. Still even in the pauses in the pileup, he wasn't hearing me. HA8IB was getting no answers to his CQs, but never heard me at all in the clear. I think I heard Bert F6HKA very strong. I just caught the HKA as he started a long transmission and I didn't listen long enough to see if it was Bert or some other HKA. I'm sure had it been him and I waited, I could have worked him.
Finally I migrated to 40 and tried a couple CQs with no answers. Then I checked some strong peaks on the PX3 and found one was AA4MC calling CQ. I answered Mike and wound up with my longest QSO in quite a long while now. We talked 38 minutes and probably could have gone longer, but some QSB set in and it was getting a bit rough near the end, so we said our 73 and QRT.
At one time long ago I set up either Access or Excel to include length of QSO, but I must have dropped that feature at one point. It might be interesting to do that again. I am pretty sure I would have to go back a while to find a 39+ minute QSO. Probably when Gary N2ESE and I used to work regularly. I haven't worked or even heard Gary lately, but I know we used to have some good long QSOs at one time. Oh well, something to think about and maybe include in some of my project plans during my winter hibernation. HI -30-
Thu Nov 01 2018 08:24PM - As I was sitting at my rig listening to the noise and lack of signals, I got to wondering how I made it through the last two sunspot minimums, or at least the last one since the streak started pretty much during the minimum before that. I don't think I'll do it tonight, but I have the resources with my Excel log and my Excel spreadsheet of solar flux numbers back through both previous minimums, to take a month or two with similar numbers to this month at similar points in those sunspot cycles and do some comparisons. I honestly don't think it was as hard then to keep the streak going. But then, I didn't have this strong local noise on top of the poor conditions. Perhaps I can learn just how much of an adverse effect this noise is having right now. Anyway it will give me something to do, and hopefully I'll learn something in the process. Needless to say, no streak QSO this evening. Last night I did get an easy QSO later in the 0300Z hour in the CWT sprint from N8BJQ.
I was also thinking at the rig about this weekend, especially since I will be away most of the day on Sunday. However that shouldn't be a problem, as the Sweepstakes should provide easy QSOs both Saturday and Sunday if I make it through Friday. Well, actually the SS covers three days - 2100Z Sat through 0259 Mon, so (knock on wood) there are three easy days in a row. -30-
Wed Oct 31 2018 08:33PM - On and on it goes. Conditions continue to deteriorate. Well, maybe I can get someone in the CWT sprint in the 0300Z hour later tonight. The bands had nothing to offer in the 0000Z hour, for sure. As I'm sure you've noted, these conditions leave very little to talk about here in the diary other than just talking about how bad they are. I was wondering this evening if going back to standard time this weekend will make any difference. That will put the 0000Z hour closer to sunset time for a while anyway.
This Sunday is the last hamfest of the year at least for me. Mike and I will be going to the WACOM hamfest in Canonsburg, PA. It looks like great weather after we get through the next couple of days which will be very rainy. Then it's supposed to be sunny and mild Sunday with a high in the mid 50s. At least it looks that way now. -30-
Tue Oct 30 2018 08:44PM - If it's true that anything worth having is worth working for, and I firmly believe it is, then a lot of my QSOs lately are worth having because I've really had to work hard to get some of them. First it's work just listening through all the QRN just to find someone to work, someone whom I'll have a chance to copy well enough to have a decent QSO. Then when I do find someone like that, the way the bands are up and down I have to pull out all my CW copying skills and work hard to make a good QSO out of it. I didn't think I was going to get past the first part - finding a station - tonight. Just like the past few nights, only a very few, very weak stations were heard, and all engaged in nets, chasing DX, rag chewing. Finally I did come across W9YK who was calling CQ. He was peaking 579, but at times QSB took him out of the picture. I decided to try calling him, and I got him for about a 10 minute QSO. I copied probably around 90 percent of what he was sending.
Earlier in the day at 1418Z I worked NZ0T on 30 meters for 'yesterday's QSO of the day. So the streak struggles on another two days and also another calendar month is closed out as well. I guess I'll get my October log, what there is of it which is not many more than 31 QSOs, uploaded to LoTW and eQSL after I get my weather readings and walk Roscoe because I know I won't be getting on the bands during the day tomorrow.
We had a pretty nice day today with a lot of sunshine and a high of let's see, 59 on my AcuRite weather station. It should be even warmer tomorrow but with clouds on the increase and rain arriving sometime during the day or evening. Probably just in time to ruin it for all the trick or treaters. -30-
Mon Oct 29 2018 08:33PM - A couple nights ago I said in the diary that I felt that conditions had pretty much reached rock bottom. I may have been wrong and actually there is not bottom to the conditions. It's like a bottomless pit and conditions just keep dropping lower and lower without ever reaching an actual bottom. I only heard a couple stations calling some DX which I couldn't hear plus 1 rag chew QSO and also one or 2 80 meters nets. Otherwise all the other territory in 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, and 17 was only noise - period. It's getting to the point that the regular streak is becoming as discouraging as the DX streak was back in July just before it finally ended at the start of August. I'll see what happens tomorrow morning and/or afternoon. -30-
Sun Oct 28 2018 08:29PM - Pretty much ditto last night's diary entry except I did wind up working one of the only 2 or 3 stations I was hearing. Not the best QSO ever in the QSB and QRN on both ends, but a definite QSO to continue the streak another day. I'm wondering now if the streak will last through the winter. I may have to change my operating habits and get on more during the day like I did this morning. After Bruce and I went out for breakfast and I walked Roscoe... no I walked Roscoe a bit later. As soon as I got home from breakfast I went to my shack and found a few decent signals on 20 meters around 1340Z. I tried to get W4CI, but he wasn't hearing me at all. Then it was old friend W4MQC, Alan down in FL who despite being weaker than W4CI copied me right away. We had about a 5 minute QSO before QSB and QRN did us in. Oh, who did I get this evening? It was Cecil W5HWU in AR on 80 meters. So thanks to both Cecil and Alan for helping me continue the streak.
It was not a good weather day, although it could have been worse. Showers and drizzle off and on most of the day with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. It looks like some better weather coming the next couple days though with highs predicted in the mid 50s maybe even hitting 60. I never did get in any walks outside today other than the regular short ones with Roscoe. Roscoe is not much of a distance walker. He has set up certain limits for himself and won't go beyond them. I think maybe because when he was young, Bruce's mother would walk him and she was in her upper 70s and low 80s and never took him all that far and that became ingrained in Roscoe. So he'll go so far, then turn back again. -30-
Sat Oct 27 2018 08:40PM - For the first time since, let's see, September 23, I came down to the computer here without an entry in my log in the 0000 or 0100Z hour. Conditions are the absolute rock bottom tonight. I only heard 3 extremely weak signal in total on 160 through 20 meters. N9HAL was the strongest on 80, and I might have gotten him but someone else answered his CQ the same time I did, and I lost out to the other station. They then got into a long QSO, and HAL gradually faded into my noise. So I'll have to try tomorrow morning or afternoon to see if I can get someone. Or maybe later tonight. Oh, on September 23, my streak QSO didn't come until 1420Z -30-
Fri Oct 26 2018 08:37PM - Poor conditions again tonight. I was disappointed when I worked my friend Tom KA2KGP because just after we got started into a good QSO, QSB took him down into my strong local noise and ended the QSO abruptly. It was good for my streak, but I would have liked to talk some more with Tom. I see Tom in person at some of our WPA hamfests along with his brother Mike N2COD. I guess that goes back a dozen years or so now, although they haven't been attending the past couple years. Hopefully we can get together next year at one of the hamfests.
With the bands so poor and my local noise - I don't know which is worse, conditions or noise, probably a combo of both - I've got to find other ways to amuse myself. Today I was going through some of my old train spotting logs from the early 1960s. Those brought back some nice memories. Also just a little while ago, I installed a version of Super Mario Brothers that runs nicely on Windows 10, and looks and acts just like the original version from (I think) the early 1980s? So it looks like I may have some things to keep me occupied when the ugly and deplorable s#$w starts flying this winter. Shudder!!!! What a horrible thought. -30-
Thu Oct 25 2018 08:42PM - The bands, especially 80, weren't too bad again this evening. I had a nice "official" 30 minute rag chew with Bob NR8M on 80.
Otherwise today (and yesterday) I did some woodworking. I made a napkin holder for the kitchen. A simple project but it gave me a chance to use up some of my wood from the wood junkpile. Also a chance to use some of the tools I've been buying at real bargain prices at the Ol' Station Marketplace about a block from here which opens every Thursday except in the heart of winter from December through March or April. I got a nice Craftsman sabre saw today which seems to work very well in the brief trial I gave it. One thing I bought some time ago there was an orbital sander attachment for my drill press. I used it on the napkin holder to make nicely rounded corners.
Last night Mike and I did a lot of talking and planning some railroad trips for next year. I would especially like to visit two places in PA - Strasburg for a steam ride and Steamtown in Scranton. Many years ago I visited Steamtown when it was in Bellows Falls, VT. In the 1980s they went bankrupt and Steamtown was transferred to Scranton. I especially liked seening one of the Union Pacific "Big Boy" locomotives when it was in Vermont. It's now in Scranton and I'd love to see it again along with all the other rolling stock they have there. I've mentioned this before in the diary, but when I was a kid in the 50s and even the 60s, The Pennsylvania/Penn Central/Conrail lines ran just a stone's throw from my house and I loved watching the trains go by hauling their freight here and there. I would count the number of cars on the trains as they went by. Sadly the tracks were abandoned as the railroads cut back and reorganized over the latter part of the 20th Century. Now all the tracks are gone and it's a hiking trail now.
I 'celebrated' an annual tradition this evening. I attended our town's Halloween Parade. I almost missed it since it was so early this year. I'm guessing because it is usually on a Thursday and next Thursday would be November, so they had it tonight instead. It's pretty much the same every year, yet I still enjoy going to see it. -30-
Wed Oct 24 2018 09:30PM - I'm just sitting here chatting with Mike. This is our fourth Wednesday evening pizza "party". After the pizza, we are making plans for our November and December activities. In fact right now, Mike is ordering our tickets for a Trolley Museum vist and trolley ride on December 9th. We also hope to visit the Western Pa Model Train Museum sometime the week of Christmas. Then there is our day before Thanksgiving trip to the Requin. Oh, and the Washington PA hamfest on November 4. Also a Veteran's Day get together on November 12. Wow, we are going to be busy the next couple months. Well, gotta run now. Bye. -30-
Tue Oct 23 2018 08:26PM - That was different and nice this evening. Conditions were actually rather good, especially on 80 meters with quite a few good signals. Most were busy in nets or rag chewing though, so I thought I'd call CQ and see what would happen. I got an answer after just a couple minutes from WA2WMJ in NY. We chatted almost 10 minutes before he had to QRT.
A few days ago I got a request from a ham about my streak report on the web site. He collects stories and posts them to, as he put it, preserve them for history so they won't be lost. He wanted to do that with my streak story. I felt honored that he thought it was that important. I gave him permission to do so, but only after I go through it for any corrections or updates. I did add some info to it and adjusted/updated some of the stats in the article. In so doing, I find that some stats seem to be easier to compile with my new Excel log vs. the old Access log. I was glad of that, needless to say. So I'm now just about ready to give him the go ahead to post it.
I've decided, whether I follow through or not, to work on cleaning up a lot of the junk in this house. There is so much here that I haven't used in years, and probably will never use again. I worked on my wood junkpile the past couple days and got rid of a lot of old tomato stakes, for example. I'll never have as many plants as I once had, so I'm only keeping so many now. If I can just keep up my ambition in doing so, I hope to have a lot less of all kinds of junk come next spring. We'll see. -30-
Mon Oct 22 2018 08:37PM - Desperate times call for desperate measures. An old saying that some say goes back to Hippocrates in ancient Greece. In researching it via the wonderful Bing search engine, I found that many historical figures are supposed to have used it at one time or another in one form or other. Although it isn't sure that he used it as such, one of my heroes, Winston Churchill is supposed to have used it in leading the struggle against The National Socialists of Germany and the National Socialist Fascists of Italy in World War II. OK, back on track now. Although in a much much milder situation, I kind of used it tonight. I tried desperately to find someone to work on 80 through 17 meters, and didn't find anyone. In fact I only heard a total of maybe 5 or 6 signals on those bands, and all were dipping in and out of my local noise. Desperate measure - try 160 meters. I figured it was at best a shot in the dark. At first all I heard or saw on the PX3 was a very weak W1AW on 1802.5. About that time I figured I was going to be shut out this evening. But wait! There's a small peak on the PX3. Tuning it in to listen, I heard QRL? and figured someone was going to call CQ. I was right. It turned out to be W8NJR, but he was up and down like an elevator in and out of my noise like everyone else. I wasn't even sure when he ended his CQ. I waited a short bit, then called him. I heard a weak "K3WWP...." response to my call, then a fade out followed by W8NJR thanking me for the call and giving RST (449), QTH (near Dayton, OH), and Name (Terry). Then he turned it back to me. I gave my info and we chatted through the QSB and QRN for about a dozen minutes. The "desperate" measure worked.
If I keep having to go lower and lower to get my QSO, I guess I better get some kind of setup for the relatively new LF bands. HI Up next is Wednesday about which I feel a little more secure since I have the CWT sprints to fall back on if other means fail. -30-
Sun Oct 21 2018 08:21PM - Thanks to the IL QSO Party, I got an 0000Z QSO tonight from K9PG to keep the streak alive.
Not much to talk about in the diary tonight. It was a quiet cool day with a high only in the low 40s and that was at midnight. During the day it just hung right around 40. A neighbor said he saw s#$w up on one of the hills around Kittanning, but it was only light rain down here in the valley.
Other than a couple walks and doing my laundry right now, I spent a good part of the day on the computer. I did some organizing of my thousands of digital photos using the program XnView. It was nice looking over a lot of the pictures as I was organizing. -30-
Sat Oct 20 2018 05:17PM - I got an interesting piece of mail today from W1BCC. Before opening it, I figured it was a QSL card request. It wasn't, but it was a QSL card. He comes into possession of old QSL cards from silent key estates or in other ways. This card was one of mine that I sent to K1AJ back in 1966. Let's take a look at it and then I'll have some comments.
First of all, this was my card of choice then, as it was with many active QRP ARCI members back in the 1960s. I have no idea if they even make club cards anymore since I haven't been active in the club for many years now.
Note the logo with the arrow pointing to the "100". For those who may not know, QRP was once defined as 100 watts or less input power to the final amplifier. I don't know when the definition was changed to 5 watts or less output power.
Of course it only cost 4 cents to mail a QSL card back then in 1966. What is it now? I think it's 35 cents, but honestly, I don't send that many QSLs these days unless someone wants my card and I'm not really sure of the rate the way it keeps going up.
You can't tell simply from looking at the card, but my writing and printing was much better back then. Age has taken its toll.
Notice from the awards listed on the card that I was not much into DXing back then. My main interest was county hunting, hence the WAS and USA-CA awards, but no WAC or DXCC. I also liked ragchewing and some QRQ work and tried to be a good operator, hence the RCC, A-1 OP, and CP-35 awards.
Note the state abbreviations of Penna and Mass. That was before the standardized two letter state abbreviations. After the start of using Zip Codes though since the 16201 and 01966 are there.
I see I used a dipole antenna. I believe if memory serves, it was strung along the passageway between my house and the house next door. Perhaps it was in sort of an inverted Vee configuration as 66 feet is pretty much the full length of the passageway. I wish I could remember.
The receiver was still a Knight Kit R100. I didn't think I had it in use that long, but I can't dispute the info on the card. I would guess I got my Hammarlund HQ-110 not long after that.
My power was 75 watts input which as I mentioned was QRP back then. I would venture to say that the output from my 1625 final was 50 watts or less.
One more thing. Look at the postmark. You don't see such clear or informative postmarks these days.
I've gotten a couple more of my old cards over the past few years also. I'll have to dig them out and analyze them similarly some time. Meanwhile thanks to Brad W1BCC for sending me this one. His email address is on the enclosed letter. I'll have to get off a thank you message to him after I finish this.
I see there are three contests that go past 0000Z tonight. Hopefully one of them - NYQP, WAG, SP160 - will provide my streak QSO easily for the 21st. -30-
Fri Oct 19 2018 08:39PM - This is getting to sound like a broken record, but again tonight it's the same story of poor conditions, strong local noise, and yet another day added to the streak. Tonight I worked old friend Paul KB4GYT. We haven't worked all that many times, but they were always good QSOs with a lot of info exchanged. Our first QSO was back on May 25, 1994. In our QSO, Paul said he found good conditions earlier in the morning today on 20 and 17 to Europe and the Middle East. I'm going to have to get out of my habit of only getting on the bands in the evening, and start in again checking during other parts of the day. It just seems there are so many other routine (boring?) things to do maintaining a big house all by oneself, and that leaves little time for getting on the bands or other fun activities.
One thing I did do today was to finally get my little aircraft receiver I won as a door prize at a hamfest a couple years ago, mounted in a little box. I did some listening today and heard a few planes, but it was very hard to understand what they were saying. Now if they would just use CW. HI -30-
Thu Oct 18 2018 08:14PM - He wasn't getting any answers to his CQs and I hadn't worked him in 11 days, so I went for 6D50I on 20 meters and got him with a couple repeats for my streak QSO at 0005Z. There was nothing to speak of on 40 and 30, and only the regular net stations on 80.
It was a brisk day today. It's like we went from August to November weather over the last 10 days or so. I think we'll get our first frost overnight tonight. It's a good thing I cleaned out my garden. It's been in the mid to upper 30s the past few mornings, but not down to the frost level. I did manage a couple good walks today despite it being only in the low 50s or so. -30-
Wed Oct 17 2018 08:26PM - Same old story tonight. Poor conditions, local noise, etc., but I got my QSO albeit a rough one. Thanks Bob KC8MFF from WV on 80 meters. I've worked Bob about a dozen times before, but it took a few repeats for me to get his call. On the other hand, he seemed to be copying me better than I was him.
Well, no more garden here for this year. I pulled my remaining pepper and bean plants today. The peppers did the best of all my plants this year. They produced abundantly with some nice big peppers. I gathered about a dozen from my remaining three plants. The beans came in a distant second and the tomatoes had a really bad year for whatever reason. Perhaps the up and down hot/chilly, wet/dry weather. No consistency at all. -30-
Tue Oct 16 2018 08:17PM - Something different this evening. For the first time since October 11 I made a QSO on a band other than 80 meters. Forty was pretty much dead, but there were a few pretty good signals on 30 meters and I worked one of them - KV5V in Salado, Texas who was running 100 watts. A lot of QSB, but we managed to stay hooked up for about 9 minutes before our signals faded too much to copy any longer.
Today was grooming and nail cutting day for Roscoe. He looks a bit different now with the hair cut, but getting it done now should let him have a thick coat by the time the cold #$%@$ weather comes along this winter. -30-
Mon Oct 15 2018 08:51PM - I did another fix-it job today. I had an old cordless drill that had batteries that never charged any longer. So I decided rather than going through the hassle of trying to find a new battery pack for it, I would rig it up as a corded drill using a 7Ah gel cell I bought for a buck or so at the Ol' Station Marketplace a few months ago. It wasn't hard to do, but with my old hands and eyes, it took longer than it would have several years ago. In fact that applies to a lot of things I do now. HI
I also went through my collection of about a dozen headphones and checked them with a couple of web sites that specialize in providing the audio/tones to check headphones. I wanted to find the best one for listening to music on my computer and another set that provided the loudest audio for my KX3. A pair of Heil Pro Set 3 headphones that Mike gave me some time ago proved the best for music, while a generic set I got somewhere long ago was the best for the KX3.
It's hard to believe according to some predictors we are still not at the sunspot minimum and won't be for maybe another two years. I hope that is wrong because the bands are bad enough right now without getting any worse. Anything above 80 meters is virtually useless in my favorite 0000Z hour now and even 80 is not that good. It's taking longer and longer into that 0000Z hour to get my streak QSO whereas before I could virtually get my QSO within 15 minutes at most on any band up through 20 or 17. Although I still see some in the first few minutes in my latest log page, I also see 30, 52, 23, 27, 52, 51, 55, 33 minutes into the 0000Z hour on that page. It gets kind of frustrating at times looking for someone to work. My CQs go largely unanswered lately so I resort to S&P a lot. I see only 5 out of 22 QSOs on the same log page came from my CQ. Oh well, anything worth having is worth working for, I guess. And the QSOs are taking a good amount of work.
Well, I'm past my 9PM weather readings now, so I'll close and get this uploaded along with my home and propagation pages now. -30-
Sun Oct 14 2018 08:33PM - I think the bands were about as bad as I've heard them this cycle. Just about nothing on any band above 80 and only a few moderate signals on 80, one of whom I did manage to work - W8DVE in MI - to keep the streak going.
It was another quiet day today. I did quite a bit of work on my genealogy looking through old census records. I found some exact street numbers where my late ancestors lived. I think I'll look up the houses tomorrow if the weather is nice enough and see if they are still standing. A lot changes in almost a hundred years. -30-
Sat Oct 13 2018 08:12PM - That was quick, as I knew it should be. My streak QSO in the PA QSO party came after I just listened around for a few minutes, then decided to work WQ3N in Clinton County. It took just a single call - no repeats of any info. On 80 meters - I didn't hear anything on 40, 30, or 20, party or no party.
It was another cold depressing day. Well, depressing because of the weather, I should say. Otherwise it was a good average day. Nothing out of the ordinary to talk about.
Tomorrow I'll have to come up with a new poll for the web site. It's almost impossible to come up with any new polls after my run of well over 200 of them. I'll probably try to find one I haven't used for a while and repeat it. That's what I've been doing a lot lately. -30-
Fri Oct 12 2018 08:42PM - It was a sad day today. A partial end to my garden. I pulled my tomato plants which only had about 5 tomatoes total left on the 7 plants. This was a very poor year for gardening, especially the tomatoes. I don't think I harvested more than 60 or so tomatoes. Compare that to one year several years ago when I got around 700 tomatoes. Of course I had more plants then, but really not all that many more. My peppers and beans are still producing, but are coming to the end also. They both did pretty well this year although still not up to par.
The bands were pretty much at par this evening compared to the past couple poor months. It didn't take too long to have K3JN in Cresson, PA answer my CQ on 80 meters. I have been through Cresson on a trip to see the Horseshoe Curve many years ago. I also watch the railroad web cam at Cresson now and then. I really love trains here, and miss not having rails going through town here as they did years ago. The tracks were only about a hundred feet from my home, if that far. Then there was a spur that ran up to a brickyard even closer than that. Those were the days! Maybe I'll talk more about those times in a later diary entry. -30-
Thu Oct 11 2018 09:22PM - It seems like it's just one thing after another going wrong here the last half of the year. Tonight it was my AcuRite weather unit. I got it going again after putting new batteries in the units, but the problem was more than that as I had to fool with the units after putting in the new batteries. I think when replacing batteries, it is necessary to shut the units down completely and then start them up again, like rebooting. I'll fool with that again tomorrow.
The bands were horrible again tonight. It was a struggle to work W8BJO on 80 meters after he answered my CQ there. But it is a good QSO and keeps the streak going.
Referring back to last night's comments about DX-less streaks. I checked today and the last time I went 11 days without DX was from 26 Dec 2012 to 11 Jan 2013 or 16 days.
OK, time to move on and walk Roscoe now. -30-
Wed Oct 10 2018 09:17PM - After a streak of 11 days with no DX, I ended it quickly by working 6D50I, a Mexican special event call, at 0000Z on 20 meters with one call and one repeat. I guess I have to go back at the very least 5 1/2 years to find a similar no-DX streak. I may just check that when I have some more time.
My ARRL Centennial paddle was acting up tonight and I spent almost an hour after I worked the XE station trying to figure out what was going on. I cleaned the contacts but that wasn't the problem. I checked the cable and plug. Nope. I think it boiled down to the paddle lever tension springs. As near as I can figure out without further checking, the circuit is completed through the springs, and apparently the connection between springs and levers got dirty. I moved them around a bit and that seemed to fix the problem. I may look at it more closely when I have time.
Speaking of time, I better close this entry now. It's almost time to walk Roscoe. -30-
Tue Oct 09 2018 09:03PM - Horrible conditions on the bands this evening yet the streak struggles on. First I worked Hugh NC1M in MA on 80. We had a solid two way 14 minute QSO despite the poor conditions and him running a KW to my 5 watts. We could have gone on even longer, but I wanted to run and try to get at least one QSO in our NAQCC sprint. I did, but it wasn't easy. I heard nothing on 80 or 40, but 20 was the saving band. I only heard part of a couple exchanges. I heard GA 644 which I knew was John K4BAI and also a number that started with 78. A little later I did hear VE3DQN well enough to work him, which I did for my total of one QSO. Maybe had I stayed longer I could have gotten a few more, but it really wasn't worth the effort and aggravation. At least I've still never missed one of our regular NAQCC sprints.
Almost an all-time high temperature record for October yesterday. We hit 90 degrees, just shy of 91 set 11 years ago back in 2007. It was only 88 today. I think tomorrow will be the last of these summer like days in October though. All indications are that the cool Canadian air masses are going to invade us and stay for a while, at least into the foreseeable future. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. -30-
Mon Oct 08 2018 07:10PM - Our parkpedition went very smoothly today with only a couple very minor glitches not even worth mentioning. Mike took 40 meters and I alternated between 30 and 20 with 30 being the better band. I made 17 QSOs there versus 7 on 20 with about an equal amount of time spent on both. Don K3RLL stopped by the site but didn't do any operating despite our offer to him to use our rig(s). He'll be heading back to FL for the winter at the end of the month so it was nice to see him before he departs.
The bands were very up and down with signals anywhere between eardrum shattering and a quiet whisper. I got RSTs from 599 to 229. I was surprised to work Oregon (KC7DM) on 30 meters just before 2PM local time here. My contacts were from 17 states and 1 province. 17 with NAQCC members, 7 with non-members.
We used our brand new just received band pass filters and they are fantastic. We never heard a single dit from each other.
L-R Above: Mike KC2EGL, John K3WWP, one of our new bandpass filters, K3WWP's KX3/PX3 setup.
L-R Above: Mike's antenna mast with our operating pavilion in the background, John and his antenna mast, John's antenna and mast.
The four hour session passed very quickly and we want to thank all of those who took time to contact us. You are the ones who make these sessions even more enjoyable beyond the fun Mike and I have together. -30-
Sun Oct 07 2018 08:37PM - My noise didn"t stay away very long. It's back again tonight although not quite as strong as it had been. Anyway I got my streak QSO from Lee K5LY on 30 meters. I also heard some DX, but they weren't hearing me at all except for one P? from XQ3SK which might have been me he was hearing down in Chile. As an example of conditions, PV8ADI was only about an S4 on 40 meters tonight, and he is usually at least S8 or S9.
Tomorrow's the day of our parkpedition. Mike and I will be ready to activate N3A around 10AM (1400Z). I heard today from Don K3RLL and he said he would stop by to see us. Maybe we can get him to do some operating also. -30-
Sat Oct 06 2018 10:04PM - A bit late tonight. My neighbor went to Walmart and asked if I wanted to come along. I did. I needed to stock up on one of my favorite snack foods, Turkey Spam. I also got some ink for my printer.
Because of that I never did get to the shack till a couple minutes past 0100. I wasn't worried though since this is the weekend of the CA QP. Which leads me to one of two openings I had planned for the diary entry.
1. I think I know who has one of the best receiving setups in CA. I must have called 7 or 8 CA stations and never got any kind of reply from them. Then it was K6NA who got me after just one repeat.
2. When I finally got to the shack tonight, I got a shock and a pleasant surprise. My local noise was down some 2 to 3 S units and after building the xmt/rcv switch a few days ago I didn't need to use it. I hope the noise reduction is not just a brief anomaly and lasts for a good long while. -30-
Fri Oct 05 2018 08:25PM - My streak QSO this evening was an interesting one. It was a special event station in GA - W4O. He didn't give any info on the air, but referred folks to QRZ for details. I got a pleasant surprise when I looked it up. It was honoring Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy. More specifically, the 30th Annual Oliver Hardy Festival in Harlem, GA. I really have always enjoyed the Laurel and Hardy films along with other films of that era like Our Gang. Incidentally did you know that Laurel and Hardy made a cameo appearance in one of the Our Gang films? The first person who emails me telling me which one gets instant immortality by being mentioned in one of my diary entries. HI
We had a sneak preview of fall weather today. The high was only 70, which is still above average, but felt nice and cool because the humidity was also a bit lower than it has been. Tomorrow it's back to summer though, and that will last at least another week.
I took advantage with a couple walks and a couple "sits" on the porch, one by myself and one with Roscoe.
Other than the above, I also studied the design program, Sketch Up for quite a while. I love learning new things, and I never really delved into CAD type programs before. This one is really neat. -30-
Thu Oct 04 2018 08:34PM - It was a struggle this evening as the better conditions of last night weren't present this evening. Even the usually strong net stations tonight....weren't. I did hear a very weak CQ from W9BZ, but didn't answer because I didn't think I'd be able to copy him. Lo and behold though, I called CQ higher in frequency, and he answered me. I managed to copy RST, QTH, and name on the first round, but after that, QSB and QRN got the best of the deal. He seemed to copy me OK and gave me a 449. I generously gave him a 339. Anyway the streak goes on.
Another decent day today although interrupted by a couple of short but heavy showers a couple hours apart. Actually it wasn't windy with the showers and it was nice otherwise so I sat on the porch and just watched it rain. I haven't done that in a long time and I must say it was very relaxing. Maybe I should do it more often when conditions permit.
Other than that, another uneventful day here. A little shopping, a couple walks between the showers, and my usual daily computer work. -30-
Wed Oct 03 2018 08:37PM - Conditions seemed a bit better this evening or there was just more activity than last night, maybe both. It only took 10 minutes this evening vs. 52 last night to work someone - Marv K9VPL in IL on 80 meters. After we finished, Jason N3YUG called me so I got a bonus QSO this evening.
It was another nice weather day with a high of 79 and not a lot of humidity. I'm at 9.94 miles on the pedometer after three nice walks today and will go over 10 before I hit the sack around midnight. Not much else out of the ordinary today although I did get together my portable kit for our parkpedition on Monday. Looks like we'll have an almost summer-like day - dry and low 80s. Not like several years ago for our Columbus day outing when it was so cold we had to quit early as our fingers got too still to key properly. I won't forget that day. I think we made only one QSO before we quit very early. -30-
Tue Oct 02 2018 09:16PM - It took me 52 minutes to get a QSO this evening, then when I did, it was a nice long chat with Les K5LG in AR on 40M. So, that leaves me only a short time before it's time to take Roscoe for his last walk of the day. There wasn't much happening today to write about anyway. It was another warm humid day for early October. Not too bad for walking so I put just over 8 miles on the pedometer so far. The bands were in pretty good shape this evening, but there just wasn't much activity. Maybe everyone is watching the BB playoffs? HI. -30-
Mon Oct 01 2018 08:40PM - As it is every first of a month, today was a busy day, more so because it came on a Monday. Being a Monday, it started with doing my laundry. After that, an enjoyable walk with Roscoe. Walks with him are always daily highlights. Next it was off to the bank, church, and borough office for my financial things. That was about a 2 1/2 mile or so walk. Thank goodness the weather was just about perfect for that kind of walk. Back home again for lunch.
The early afternoon was a little less hectic. Another walk with Roscoe, then a bonus walk with him after which we sat on the porch swing for a while. Next up I labeled the switches on the antenna switching unit I pictured here in the diary a couple days ago. I listened briefly but didn't hear anything interesting. When I was sitting on my porch a little later, I noticed that the bush in the front yard had really grown back after I cut it back severely earlier in the year so I gave it a bit of a trimming to get rid of some of the scraggly growth. After that it was something else unplanned. My neighbor's brother came to cut his grass, and he always lets me use their mower to cut mine, so I did that. That pretty much covered the day except for a final long walk. Just looking at my pedometer shows almost 10 miles of walking today.
As far as ham radio goes, it was another 0001Z QSO this evening with another WA5 station. This time it was Darron WA5TCZ whom I hadn't worked in quite a while. It was good to hook up again and chat for a while.
Now it's almost time to get my weather readings. Oh, September turned out very warm and wet. The average low of 61.1 was 8.8 degrees above normal and a record for September. The same with the daily mean average of 70.6 6.7 degrees above normal. The average high of 80.0 was 4.4 above normal but not a record. That was 81.6 back in 2016. Rainfall was 10.36 inches, a record. Also a record for the first nine months of a year was set with 47.36 inches. There were more records too, but I won't list them here. -30-