Sunday, September 16, 2018

First time ever!

So I did something yesterday that I've never done in 40 years of Ham Radio - I entered the NJ QSO Party. Granted, I think the event fell into a malaise for many of the years of my Amateur Radio career. However, due to the yeoman work of the Burlington County Amateur Radio Club, the NJ QSO Party has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts.

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If I am not mistaken, the Burlington County ARC took over sponsoring the event in 2012, the same year the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt was born.  Before that, it was sponsored for many years by the Englewood Amateur Radio Association, Despite their best efforts, the contest just fell into a state of disarray.

The guys at K2TD have been faithful participants of the Skeeter Hunt. How could I not return the favor? I've been meaning to participate the past couple of years, but something always seemed to get in the way.

Not this year!  I didn't put in anywhere near the 18 hours that the contest ran. I was only able to afford about 3 or 4 hours in total between chores and other commitments.  But in that 3 or 4 hours, I managed to make 30 QSOs in the QRP category. My best DX was working OM2VL on both 20 and 40 Meters. I also managed to snare WA, TX, and AR as well as many of the "closer-in" states.

Not being a contester outside of QRP Sprints, this is also the very first time that I have submitted a log in cabrillo format. I used SP7DQR's adif to cabrillo converter, but I'm still expecting an e-mail from the Burlington County ARC that will probably go something like this:

"Dear Larry,

Thank you so much for participating in the NJ QSO Party this year. We hope you had a good time. However, what is this hot mess of a log that you submitted? We can't make heads or tails out of it. Please try again - and watch YouTube if you have to, OK?"

Cordially yours,
Burlington County ARC"

I have until October 1st to get it right!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Enough with the rain already!

Not in any way to minimize the effect that Florence is having on the Carolinas, I know I am so much more fortunate than the folks down there - but enough with the rain already!

Honestly, I can't remember when the sun showed its face last here in these parts. It's been tropically humid for over a week now with clouds and rain just about every day. According to my weather station, we've had over 5.25" (13.33 cm) if rain since Wednesday. 4.63" (11.76 cm) of that total came down in a three hour period between Midnight and 3:00 AM Thursday morning!

What does it look like when you get that much rain in such a little time? One of our residents flew a drone over the parts of town that are situated near the Bound Brook, a most-of-the-time small-ish body of water that feeds the Raritan River. Here are some still photos.





Luckily, my house is in part of town that is situated towards the top of a small rise, so all the rain water flows downhill past us, and towards the brook. When Marianne and I were shopping for a house in South Plainfield back in 1998, we found a house that was PERFECT for us. She absolutely loved it and for me, there were plenty of tall trees in the backyard - ideally suited to become a wire antenna farm. I was ready to sign on the dotted line in a heartbeat. Then I asked the realtor what was behind the trees and she said, "The Bound Brook". I immediately put the kibosh on buying that house. Growing up in this part of New Jersey, I was well aware of how that "minor brook" floods. Since we moved here, there have been at least 6 or 7 instances where I know we would have had to contend with a flooded basement, or worse. I believe that during Hurricane Irene water even reached into the main floors of houses in that neighborhood.

This rotten weather looks to be affecting what I will be able to do for QRP Afield, which is tomorrow. The idea, of course, is to operate from a portable location using emergency power and portable antennas. It's not required to stay dry during the event; but from my point of view, staying dry is highly preferable. Even if it's sunny tomorrow, everything around here is so soggy, I don't know if I be able to find a relatively dry park in town from which to operate portable.

Tomorrow is also the NJ QSO Party, so maybe I'll just stay in the shack (as much as I can amongst the normal weekend chores) and make an effort to participate in that. I've never made a really big effort, and maybe as a QRP station, I can make a good showing.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Be safe!

To all our Ham friends in North and South Carolina - be safe!


As you are well aware, Hurricane Florence is barreling down on your QTH. What worries me is that your current situation is much akin to our situation back in 2012, and a most unwelcome visitor that we had - Hurricane Sandy.

Like Sandy, Florence is coming directly at you from the open ocean. At this time there appear to be no wind shear or deflecting pressure systems to weaken her or steer her away from you. She is building up strength and will most undoubtedly be a Category 4 hurricane (or possibly Category 5) when she comes knocking on your door.

If you live on a barrier island, or near the coast - bug out now, while you still have time!  Please don't be foolhardy and attempt to "ride out the storm". Not only will you be putting yourself at risk; but also any First Responders who may have to come and aid you - assuming that they will be able to!

Here in New Jersey, the W2LJ household is 10 miles away from the Raritan Bay and the coast, as the crow flies. You might think those 10 miles would provide a decent buffer, but when you're talking about a storm that is 300 miles wide all by itself, then 10 miles is nothing.

This is a sample of what just the winds of Sandy did to my neighborhood:











If you have relatives in-state, away from the coast, that you can hunker down with, that's a great idea. Regardless, now's a good time to prepare, especially if you have to shelter in place. From my experience alone, we were without commercial power for five days. If you have a generator, gas it up and buy extra gas now! The problem we had in NJ, was that many filling stations had no back up power, so the pumps were useless.  Can't find a generator - they're all gone where you live? Get your hands on an inverter. As a last ditch resort, you can always use your car as a generator for short amounts of time.

Get a supply of drinking water. Buy bottled water or fill up the tub and cover is with plastic wrap if you have to. And make sure you have an ample supply of canned and other non-perishable food to keep you going.  If you have an additional storage freezer, fill it with bags of ice now - and open it as little as possible if the power is out. If you have a gas grill, make sure you have a good supply of propane. You may need to grill the contents of your freezer as the days without power add up. The grill also comes in handy for heating up large pots of water. Unless you enjoy cold showers, a sink full of hot water will allow for refreshing clean ups.

Charge up your portables and any extra batteries you may have. If you're into portable QRP ops, make sure those SLAs and lithium batteries are topped off. Make sure you have the proper cables that you need for your solar panel, if you have one.

On the bright side, if your neighborhood does lose power for an extended period, and you can get your HF station on the air - you will be amazed by the extremely low noise floor that you will be hearing on the bands. I was fortunate to be able to get on the air after Sandy - my antennas weathered the storm. It was a comfort to be able to make contact with Jim W1PID during the first few days of chaos. That tiny bit of normalcy was a blessing and I'll never forget Jim's kindness.

Good luck, be safe and Godspeed - and to our friends in Georgia and Virginia - keep YOUR situational awareness up. Florence may change course once she hits land.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We remember ....


New York City, the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania
We remember the victims and we remember the heroes 
who selflessly gave their lives, trying to save others.

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

Monday, September 10, 2018

FT8Call

Back in the 1990's - way back in the last century, I was into the digital modes for a bit. Back then, in the Dark Ages, all we had were RTTY, AMTOR, PacTOR, Helleschrieber and a few other exotic modes. I think Olivia was just jumping on the scene back then, if memory serves correctly (which it probably doesn't). Maybe it was just that it was so seldom heard on the bands that it seemed like it was brand new.

It was fun and I participated in probably 4 or 5 RTTY Roundups and made an acceptable showing for the ARRL NNJ Section. But truth be told, after I while I grew weary of it.  Granted, I had some really great QSOs, including some very neat DX QSOs.  But as the digital modes became more and more popular, it seemed (to me) that QSOs started devolving into a bunch of exchange of computerized macros and real "honest-to-goodness" conversation became more and more scarce.

So now, I've been reading about the latest and greatest mode, FT8 and the even newer FT8Call. They seem to be all the rage with Amateur Ops extolling their virtues. I even read Dan KB6NU's recent post about FT8Call and how the mode is evolving into one where you can actually have conversations instead of just computers talking back and forth between themselves.

In his post, Dan mentions that actual messaging is kind of slow, where one message can take "several 15 second time slots" to get through. Wow! That just kind of struck me a slow for such a sophisticated low power mode. Kind of reminded me of this:


Now before I get lambasted and dragged all over the hot coals, please know this post is all in fun and is not meant to demean or denigrate anyone else's enjoyment of Amateur Radio. It just seems to me, as a veteran Op, with some years of experience under my belt, that there truly is never anything completely "new under the sun."

So for those of you who enjoy FT8, FT8Call, PSK31, WJT, WJST and all the other combinations of alphanumeric soup out there - God bless you all! Knock yourselves out, have fun and keep coming up with the new stuff. it enriches the hobby, no doubt about that.

But as for W2LJ, I'll just keep going with "Ol' Reliable" and will continuously ride "Westward,Ho!", right into the old dinosaur sunset.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

New mast holder for the QRPGuys antenna

This past Labor Day weekend was pretty busy, between sorting out the Skeeter Hunt results, composing the Soapbox pages and volunteering with OEM for crowd control at South Plainfield's Labor Day Parade and fireworks display. (How's THAT for a run on sentence ?!?)

I did get some time to make a new mast holder for the QRPGuys N2CX antenna. The Shakespeare 20 foot crappie fishing pole arrived early last week. It's quite lighter than the Jackite. In fact, it's MUCH lighter than the Jackite. Unfortunately, it's not that much slimmer than the Jackite. I still required a 2" piece of PVC tubing from Home Depot, as 1.5" was just too narrow.

So my dimensions departed quite a bit from what the QRPGuys have listed in the antenna construction manual, as I didn't feel like cutting the PVC - I used the entire 3 foot length.


I'd sure like to know where they secured a 17' fishing pole that would fit into a 1" diameter piece of PVC !!!  Anyway, I made my "spike" out of 1/2 threaded rod. I cut a piece about 2.5 feet long (the heck with 8-12 inches!) and got out the Dremel to grind myself a pointy end.  I secured the other end in the cap using four nuts, two on each side.

I took it outside and was surprised how easily it went into the soil. When I use the Jackite holder which is PVC hose-clamped to a piece of angle iron, I really have to pound on that pretty hard. This went in like a hot knife through butter, by comparison.

The mast holder seemed to do a decent job, even on a mildly breezy day. I didn't deploy the actual antenna, but the four sloping radials will double as guys to hold everything securely. The mast and antenna probably come in under two pounds combined, so they probably don't offer much wind load. In other words, I don't see the likelihood of them falling down a lot.

I want to deploy this antenna for the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint later this month. I saw on Facebook where Steve WG0AT used the same on a recent SOTA deployment and he seemed pretty pleased with it. And if it's good enough for the Grand Master of Portable Ops, then I'm pretty sure it will be more than sufficient for me.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

2018 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Results

Congratulations to the top five finishers!

1st Place - NK9G
2nd Place - AB9CA
3rd Place - N3AQC
4th Place - NN9K
5th Place - N5GW

And special congratulations to all of you who participated and hopefully had a fun day spending some time with your QRP gear in the great outdoors.

This year we have two pages of soapbox comments.

Out of the 175 people who signed up for a Skeeter number 79 Skeeters sent in logs - so we had a 45% participation rate by Skeeters. There were seven non-Skeeters who turned in logs, so overall, we had an overall 47% participation rate. Not bad, not bad at all.

This year I added a new "award", or mention for special merit..


This will be awarded at the contest manager's discretion for "going above and beyond". This year the very first Gold Star went to KC0ZCX, for making his first CW contacts during the Skeeter Hunt. Making your first CW contact is nerve-wracking enough - but to do it during a QRP Sprint is just phenomenal! My hat is off to you, Eddie - you are a braver man than me!

Another Gold Star went to N0SS, the Mid-Mo Amateur Radio Club. By themselves, N0SS had a less than stellar day. But they sent 11 members from their club out to the field. A lot deployed with home brewed gear and a lot of them had limited CW experience. N0SS gets a Gold Star for exemplary Elmering. Way to go, guys!

Again, I hope you all had a great time and I hope you enjoy the soapbox pages.

The scoreboard can be found here.
Soapbox Page 1 is here.
Soapbox Page 2 is here.

And I fervently hope that you'll all come back for the 2019 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Howdy pardners! There's a new Sprint in town!


We start the outdoor QRP Season each year with FYBO in February.

The there's a long wait until the Spring Classics - QRP To The Field and the Cookie Crumble Contest. Then in the heat of the Summer the Bumblebees and the Skeeters take flight. In September we join out New England friends with QRP Afield and then we get nutty with our NoGA friends in the Peanut Power Sprint, and then we pack it all away for the Winter.

Until now, that is! Thanks to Tim W3ATB we now have the Leaf Peepers QRP Sprint, which is designed to get you out in the glory of Autumn, where the air is crisp, the leaves colorful and the beauty of nature is breathtaking.

This sprint will take place on Saturday, October 6th from 1700 to 2100 UTC. For all the details and to sign up for a Leaf Peeper number, please visit - https://w3atb.com/leaf-peepers-qrp-contest/

So take a break from raking and get on the air and enjoy the beauty of the season. QRP and the Great Outdoors - you can never have too much of a good thing!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Help for bad eyes

Last week, when I was building that QRPGuys antenna circuit board, I found out how really bad my eyes have gotten. Placing components was not a problem; but soldering was. I currently wear bifocals, but the "close up" part of them is meant for reading, with the reading material being held at a normal distance. For very close up work, like soldering and inspecting solder joints, my normal prescription is just about useless. So I built without my glasses. I can see well close up without them; but I have to get uncomfortably close - my face has to be RIGHT IN THERE, and I get concerned that that's a little too close for safety.

W3BBO to the rescue!  Bob recommended something to me that I had never even thought of before:


During one of our weekly Skype sessions, we had talked about this very subject. That's when Bob recommended buying a pair of drug store "readers" for the very close up work.  Strangely enough, as an eyeglass wearer, the thought never occurred to me. My normal eyeglasses should be good enough - no? I guess I'm not that much of an "outside the box" thinker.

They have them at the ShopRite where I do our grocery shopping, so last Saturday, I bought a pair. They are of medium magnification, only +1.5 - but they made all the difference in the world! I am now able to get my face right at a comfortable distance from my working area without squinting or getting annoyed that I can't see clearly. I still need a magnifying glass for the super tiny print on capacitors; but for all intent and purpose, kit building is no longer an uncomfortable hassle.

The best thing is that they were cheap - only $15.00 for the pair, and I bet I could have found them cheaper had I done a little shopping around. So, if you have the same problem that I had, a small investment can make as much as a difference for you as it did for me.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

QRP Guys go on hiatus

Just so you know and don't get your hopes up for any quick shipments - I saw the following on their site today. Guess they're getting ready for the Christmas rush.

Fall recharge… QRPGuys will not be shipping product from now and until most of October. We will only be providing e-mail support, and answering inquiries. If there is an issue with a kit already shipped, we will address that upon our return in October. We appreciate your patience for a needed break.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

K2IB - SK

Mr. Robert Benson K2IB, who was an electronics teacher at East Brunswick High School, and who was a major piece in the puzzle to the start of my Amateur Radio career passed away on August 12th.


I had become enthralled with Amateur Radio at a young age. I've recounted that story here and elsewhere. When I was 16 and a Sophomore at East Brunswick High School (circa 1973), they had this program where, in the Spring semester, you could sign up for an extra elective course during what would have been your Study Hall period. One of the electives was "Amateur Radio" as part of the electronics curriculum. When I saw that, I jumped at it.

Mr. Benson introduced us to HF, as the school had a station - all Heathkit gear as I remember, as well as VHF. He had a 2 Meter radio in the classroom and he would get on and talk to Harry Schneider (can't remember the call sign) who was the owner of the Princess Bakery at the Mid State Mall which was a couple of miles away.  Between listening to those rag chews on 2 Meters and the HF contacts the students who were already licensed were making, I was definitely hooked.

My stumbling block was the Morse Code - ever hear that one before? Mr. Benson gave us a handout with the code printed out on it and I even went to the local Lafayette store to purchase an AMECO code practice LP.  I know a lot of kids younger than 16 were licensed Hams, but for some reason, I wasn't ready to become one of them. I tried and tried and tried - but I just could not get the code down. And at 16, I guess I just didn't have the dedication or the maturity.

But thanks to Bob Benson, the seed was starting to sprout!  Five years later, when I was 21 and out of school, and working full time, I saw an article in the local Sunday newspaper that in neighboring North Brunswick, at their high school, they were offering an adult continuing education class in the evenings where you could earn your Novice license.

With steely determination, I whomped that Morse Code Monster, learned the required theory and regulations and passed my Novice exam. About six to eight weeks later, as 1978 had only a few days left to it, my Mom called me at work to tell me that an envelope from the FCC had come in the mail. I had her open it to find that I was officially KA2DOH.

While Bob didn't administer my license test, he was a driving force towards the goal. We kept in touch via the telephone from time to time. The last we spoke was a couple years ago when he called to ask my opinion on the Ten Tec Eagle. He found a used one at a good price and was wondering what my opinion was. He was concerned about how good a CW rig it might be. Funny how the kid who couldn't learn Morse Code became a valued opinion about buying a good CW rig.

Bob, I'm going to miss you. Hope all the QSOs are 599 and the propagation is always heavenly.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, August 20, 2018

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt 2018

I want to start off this post with two big "Thanks You"s.

First, a very big "Thank You" to everyone who signed up for the 2018 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, and extra special thanks to all who participated. Without you, this would be a non-event. You folks ARE THE BEST !!! 

Second, a very HUGE thanks to NJQRP, particularly George N2APB and Joe N2CX for putting the prestige of the NJQRP group behind this event. Your sponsorship makes all the difference.

I learned a few things from the 2018 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.

1) Even though I knew this already, it got reinforced, big time. Take weather forecasts with a grain of salt! When I woke up early Sunday morning, it was raining - hard. I turned on the computer, went to WeatherUnderground to see that "The rain will end at 11:45".

OK. Since it was already soggy as all get out, I decided to stay home and operate "backyard portable". Around Noon, I wiped down the table and chairs and then set up the Jackite, the PAR ENDFEDZ and the station. I wisely chose to operate from the patio table, which is covered (more or less) by a big umbrella - which I found out was meant more for protection from the sun than from rain.



Setup went great. It was a little damp, but it was OK. Then it came time for the Skeeter Hunt and wouldn't you know it? It started to rain again, even though the rest of the afternoon was supposed to remain cloudy, but precipitation free.


You can see that the wiped down chairs got all drippy again. It rained for about a half hour, and at times it got a little heavy. After that, the last three and a half hours of the Hunt were rain free. But not mosquito free!  I had to light the citronella candles to keep the little buggers away. Someone forgot to tell them that they were NOT the Skeeters that I was interested in for the day!

2) Pencil and paper don't work well in the rain. I'm old school in that while I DO keep an electronic log, for events like this I log on paper and transfer later. I don't type fast enough to log electronically real time in such a "fast paced" (relatively speaking) event such as a QRP Sprint. And even if I was a competent typist, I'm still lucky that I can walk and chew gum at the same time - so it's paper and pencil for W2LJ. I had to run into the house for a pen. My paper was still a bit damp; but ball point pen worked just fine. From here on out, I am going to keep a pen in my backpack.

3) An Elecraft KX3 can hold up well to water. Throughout the years, in reading various QRP forums, one of the biggest knocks against the KX3 that I have seen is that it is (I'm paraphrasing here) "flimsy and won't hold up well to the elements". My KX3 got wet. Not dumped-in-a-bucket-of-water wet, but it was covered with enough water, so that when I picked it up, it was dripping. Yes, I was covered by the umbrella, but I was not enclosed and the radio, the battery and everything else, including me, got pretty wet. The KX3 took it in stride without a whimper. After the rain stopped, I did a quick wipe off with a paper towel, and the radio is no worse for wear. It performed like a trooper.

In all, I had a blast. I logged 38 QSOs, 33 with other Skeeters. I worked 19 different states and Provinces. 20 of my QSOs  were on 20 Meters and 18 were on 40 Meters. I just realized as I'm typing this that I neglected to even listen on 15 meters. This is where the Reverse Beacon Netowrk was hearing me:


As noted on a lot of log summaries that have been submitted so far, and I concur, QSB was a big problem. A station which was 579 one second, was gone the next. I had two dupe contacts as the people who worked me weren't sure that I had them in my log. Seems that when I gave them my part of the exchange, I must have disappeared!

Another problem that I had was with motor noise. From time to time, one of my neighbors was working on fixing a lawn mower, or something with a small motor. I was plagued with ignition noise at various times throughout the event. The KX3's noise blanker did a good job of wiping a lot, but not all of it, out. I've received a couple e-mails from folks telling me that they tried calling me several times with no luck. Blame my neighbor! If he hadn't decided to play mechanic, I probably would have worked you!

My last QSO was at 2047 UTC with KI4MCZ.  With only 13 minutes to go; and not hearing anyone new on either band, I decided to tear down the station, wipe everything dry and set it all aside indoors so that it could all really dry out well.  Tired and damp, but happy, I proceeded to grill dinner and wind down after a day of hunting Skeeters.

To all who participated - log summaries are due by Midnight of Labor Day, September 3rd. When you submit your summary (use the format on the Website, please) I will acknowledge your entry with a return e-mail. Please submit any photos you have; or post them to the Skeeter Hunt Facebook page. I'll publish the scoreboard sometime the week of Labor Day and this year, I promise to get the certificates out early!

The Bumblebees and Skeeters have flown. See you all again in the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint in September!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

QRP Guys vertical antenna

Thursday evening, I came home to a delightful surprise. My son had mowed the lawn while I was at work. That gave me some unexpected free time and I used it to build the QRP Guys 3 band vertical antenna that I had recently purchased.

Today I got the chance to deploy it and check it out.  I used my 31' Jackite pole as a support, which was definitely overkill. I ordered a 20' fiberglass crappie pole from Sportsman's Warehouse for $20 - but it won't get here until next week. As per the QRP Guys instruction manual, I checked eBay for "17' fiberglass fishing pole", but came up blank.

Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, this is what it looked like.


I hooked up my little Autek antenna analyzer, tuned it to 14.060 MHz and checked the SWR and found it to be 1.5:1.  Following the instructions, I cut a 3" section off, thinking I could get the SWR even lower, but it ended up increasing instead of decreasing!  So I replaced it with another 17' piece of wire and am going to let it go at that. In any case, the KX3's autotuner brought the match to 1:1 in less than half a second. The same held true for 30 and 40 Meters.

This is a close up of the actual circuit board portion of the kit.


After all was said and done, I secured the toroids with the provided wire ties. To secure the matching portion to the fishing pole, I am going to end up using two pieces of gardener's Velcro tape that I keep in my backpack. When not securing the board to the pole, the Velcro tape will keep the antenna and radial wire bundles neatly wound.  Here's a view of the antenna looking back towards my operating position.


The circuit board was a piece of cake to build. Even the toroids were no big deal. After all the toroids I've wound over the years, I don't even think twice when I have to wind some. The hard part for me was seeing! The "close" portion of my bifocals are OK for reading; but are useless for real close work like soldering. I took Bob W3BBO's advice and bought a cheapie pair of grocery store "readers". In my case, I chose the +1.5 magnification variety. I put those on and no problem! Those are going to be a tremendous help in kit building projects, as my eyes are nowhere where they used to be.

Tomorrow's weather is "iffy" at best for my neck of the woods. There's a 50/50 chance of showers the entire day. I may end up working the Hunt from the backyard, losing the water bonus points. My reasoning is that I have that nice, big umbrella that you can see in the third picture. That will be a real boon should it start to rain. And it it should start raining really hard then I can always finish the Hunt from the basement shack, if I really have to.

I have my fingers crossed, hoping it ends up being a blown forecast and that I'll wake up to sunny skies tomorrow morning that end up lasting for the whole day.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, August 17, 2018

QSX Transceiver

Hans Summers and QRP Labs have updated the Website with information on the new QSX transceiver.

http://www.qrp-labs.com/qsx.html

This is really exciting; as it could open HF to a whole new generation - especially those who are into building, making, experimenting. You know ....... Amateur Radio like it used to be. AND most important, it will be affordable. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to youth events, and the youngsters get all enthused about the prospect of getting their license, only to hear what rigs go for, and you can see their disappointment.

"How much will QSX cost?

We aren't sure exactly yet. It is expected to be somewhere in the region of $75 or the 40m single-band version. Addition of the 10-band filter module and the anodized black aluminium enclosure should take it to around $150 in total. These are ballpark figures and subject to change."

$150 ????  Mow a Summer's (no pun intended) worth of lawns, do some baby sitting and that can be within practical reach for a teenager!




  • Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology with standalone Digital Signal Processing (DSP), no PC required
  • Very high performance 24-bit Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) and 24-bit Digital to Analog Converter (DAC)
  • 40m (single band) or 160-10m (10-band, including 60m) versions available
  • Modes: SSB, CW, AM, FM, PSK31, RTTY, WSPR beacon
  • Power output: 10W from 13.8V supply (power output is adjustable by the firmware)
  • Single power supply needed, 12V to 14V
  • USB host interface and connector, for USB keyboard to allow PC-less operation on PSK31 and RTTY
  • USB device interface and connector, for PC CAT Control
  • QSX can appear to a PC as a high performance 24-bit USB sound card and radio - for digital modes from a PC e.g. FT8
  • Built-in CW IAMBIC keyer (or straight keying also possible) with raised-cosine key-envelope shaping
  • DSP features (selectable sharp filters, AGC, Speech Compression, Noise Reduction etc.)
  • Dual microphone inputs (mobile phone headset with VOX, or RJ45 connector for Kenwood/Yaesu mics)
  • Dual VFO (A/B/Split), frequency and message memories
  • Through-hole assembly only
  • Built-in test equipment features for alignment, debugging and general purpose use
  • Detailed assembly manual
  • Macro facility for user defined sequences of operations, or redefinition of controls
  • Front panel: 16 x 2 LCD (yellow/green backlight), 2 rotary encoders, 4 buttons, mic/earphones socket
  • Soft-power on/off switch, the radio saves its state automatically on switch off, so that it starts up in the same state next time
  • Free firmware updates for life, very simple firmware update procedure via a USB memory stick
Availability is not expected until November - maybe. But even so, this is still very exciting news. If the quality of the QSX is anything like the QCX - and I have no doubt that it will be - this transceiver WILL be the next big thing!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Say it ain't so!

The forecast for South Plainfield for Sunday:


It may end up being a washout for a Skeeter Hunt outdoor portable op. But then again, they forecasted rain and heavy thunderstorms for Field Day and all we got were a few drops here and there.

Fingers crossed that they're wrong again for Sunday.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

August 14th - SP3RN

It's August 14th, and each year on this date in the Roman Catholic calendar, we celebrate the life of Maximilian Kolbe, SP3RN.

Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest who lived in Poland. Fr. Kolbe was a Ph.D. level philosopher and an insightful theologian. He opened a monastery which was devoted to spreading the Word of God. In addition to printing many publications, he also used radio - hence his Amateur Radio call sign SP3RN.


In 1941, Fr. Max's monastery was shut down by the Nazi SS and he was taken prisoner. Kolbe was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was assigned Prisoner #16670.  In July of that year, ten prisoners were condemned to death in retaliation for an escape attempt from the camp.  Among the condemned was Francizek Gajowniczek, a Sergeant in the Polish Army.  Gajowniczek pled for his life as he had a wife and children.  Kolbe stepped out of line and offered his life in place of Gajowniczek's.  The Nazi commandant accepted the exchange and sent Kolbe to a camp starvation bunker where he was deprived of food and water for nearly two weeks.  Maximilian Kolbe died on 14 August 1941. He was the lone survivor of the ten sentenced to death, and his life was ended by a lethal injection of carbolic acid.


There is a St. Max net that operates every weekend.  I try to check in when I get the time and remember to do so - and the St. Max net is one of the reasons why I keep a microphone as part of the shack's equipment list.  It's a great group of guys and is interesting to listen to.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, August 09, 2018

A couple of "How To" FOBB videos

Good ones by Steve KF5RY and Myron WV0H.

 
 

Good stuff to keep in mind when planning portable ops.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

May have to change my plans.

I may have to find a site for the Skeeter Hunt where I definitely know there are trees close to the water. I was hoping to go to Donaldson Park, in Highland Park, which is about a 20 minute ride from home. Marianne and I went there a few years back for a "reunion" of Beagles rescued through Happy Paws Rescue - from whom we adopted Harold.


I know that there is a section of the park which is right on the banks of the Raritan River, which is Central New Jersey's largest river. However, the Happy Paws reunion was about 3 or four years ago and I don't recall the tree situation.

Wait a sec! (W2LJ smacks his forehead) I've got technology at my disposal! Let's see what Google Earth shows:


I like the fact that there are two parking lots pretty close to where I want to go.

Even though this photo appears to have been captured in the late Fall/Winter/early Spring part of the year, there seems to be enough trees right on the river bank to make this worth the effort.  We're supposedly in store for scattered thunderstorms all this coming weekend., but perhaps it will stay dry, long enough for a pre-Skeeter Hunt scouting session for a good operating location.

Trees are becoming a necessity as I want to continue using the PAR END FEDZ. I did order the N2CX antenna from the QRPGuys, but it just shipped yesterday; and I don't think I'll receive it and have the required time needed to build and tune it before the Skeeter Hunt, which is a week from this Sunday.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!