Friday, July 20, 2018

This needs to go viral

Dan KB6NU's most excellent post for today. Everyone needs to read and do this:

I can think of MANY local Hams, off the top of my head, who are so deserving; but yet never get the recognition they so richly deserve.

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

49 years ago, today

It all started the year I was born. When I was a mere 5 months old. our friends in Russia launched Sputnik. I am told that Amateur Radio operators the world over listened to the "Beep, Beep" of its beacon on their shortwave receivers. The "space race" was born and little did I know, as a tiny infant, what a big role that both Amateur Radio and that space race would play in my life.

Some of the earliest and most vivid memories that I have were watching the televised launches of both Alan Shepard and John Glenn on their history making flights.  By the time I got to grade school, Program Mercury was ending and Project Gemini was taking its place. I was hooked! I followed each mission with the zeal that only a kid can muster.

And then, when I was 12 years old ....... 49 years ago on this very day, we sat glued to our TVs to watch these ghostly images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon for the very first time!

What a time to grow up in! Back then it was like we could do anything we put our minds to. I think in the 70s we lost a lot of that child like innocence and the reality of national budgets, changing national priorities and the "lack of will" came crashing down.

But, oh, what a time it was while it lasted! I've always been and will always be a "fanboy" of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. And I'll always be a "fanboy" of Amateur Radio. Some things WON'T change - for me at least!

Hmmmmmmm ........ I wonder how many Hams worked on/in/for the Space Program back in those days?  I'm willing to bet "a lot"!

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Some Skeeter Hunt videos

Amazing what you can find on You Tube!





My thanks to the videographers and my apologies for the shameless self promotion of the Skeeter Hunt!

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Skeeter Hunt updates

First, my apologies to the winners of certificates from the 2017 Hunt.  Last night, I printed out the certificates. They will get placed into envelopes tonight and will be mailed later this week. I got an e-mail from one of the winners a few weeks ago, inquiring as to where his certificate was. That's when I had an "Oh, my gosh!" moment - or a Senior Moment, if you will.

I thought I had taken care of this last September or October !!!!  A few discrete e-mails of inquiry, on my part, to a few other winners revealed to me that I hadn't taken care of it at all. No one has received their certificates.

I hang my head in shame.

All I can say is the situation is being remediated and I will do my best to make sure it doesn't happen again.

As far as the 2018 Skeeter Hunt goes, 91 of you have signed up for Skeeter numbers so far. There's about a month left until the actual day of the event, so there's still plenty of time to get one. Just send an e-mail to and I will happily oblige your request. All Skeeter number requests will be acknowledged by a return e-mail. So if you don't hear from me personally with your number, please try again.

Remember, while going out into the field is highly encouraged ....... you don't have to in order to be considered a Skeeter. That goes also for Skeeters who get rained out. Use your number from home! No restrictions there.

Happy hunting and I hope to hear you all on the air on Sunday, August 19th.

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Two more new ones from the QRPGuys

This is really neat - a Digital Power Port -

"The QRPGuys Digital Power Port is a handy way to turn a common sealed lead acid battery (SLA)  or Lithium (LiFePO4) into a convenient power source for your indoor, portable operation, or other projects. It can be used with just about any size battery and voltage from 3-30V, as it is attached to the battery with clear packing tape. It uses a digital voltmeter will with .1V resolution so you can easily check your capacity before you depart and while your are operating. The output is fused with an automatically resetting Polyfuse rated at 3.0A continuous/5.1A trip. There is a convenient 2.1mm pin coaxial power jack for charging. Output connections are captive S.S. hardware. This kit can be built in less than an hour. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 1 or 2, depending on your experience." 

This is going to be great for Field Day - I placed my order!

The other kit is a Digital Field Strength Meter -

"The field strength meter is one of ham radio’s earliest diagnostic tools that can be used in a variety of tasks inside the shack and out in the field, from detecting rf leaks in coax cables, testing antenna improvements, and aid in determining antenna emission patterns. The QRPGuys Digital Field Strength Meter can detect RF energy over the VLF-500MHz range with sensitivities from -80dBm to +10dBm. It uses the popular Analog Devices AD8307 logarithmic detector/amplifier, used in many popular VNA’s, coupled with an on-board digital voltmeter that has been modified to compare small signal changes of about 0.7dB, and display a relative digital reading. We also see use of this device as an RF probe for troubleshooting signal flow thru circuits. The sensitivity is equal to our retired RF Probe, and the BNC input jack is the input point to connect a scope probe for this use. It is powered by a 9 volt battery (not supplied) attached directly to the pcb, with a continuous “on” switch, as well as a “momentary” pushbutton switch for spot checking the presence of RF. There is a potentiometer to adjust the amplitude of the RF sampled, an SMA connector with antenna, and a female pcb mounted BNC for connection to longer antennas, probes or other test inputs. It does contain one SMT IC component (AD8307), but all the other components are through hole. The pcb is small, 2.50” x 2.75” (63.5mm x 69.9mm) and can be used without a chassis. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 3 to 4. Allow an hour or so to build, depending on your experience."

Once again, I have no affiliation with the QRPGuys, 4 States QRP Group, SOTABeams or any other company for whom I make product announcements. Just trying to keep the QRP community informed as to new offerings as I see them.

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

I played hooky

For those readers who are not from the USA - we have a saying here. When you're a kid, and you don't go to school when you're supposed to, but you go off and do something else that you would rather do - it's called "playing hooky".

I played hooky in more ways than one last week. First off, it was our yearly family pilgrimage to Lake George, NY, so I was on vacation and was "playing hooky" from work. At least it was an excused absence!

Secondly, I did bring the radio gear along; but I have to confess I did not use it much at all. This vacation was markedly different from the past ones. With Joseph and Cara being teenagers now, my time was not spent trying to keep them entertained. They are capable of doing that for themselves now. So I spent my time mostly "vegging", and "playing hooky" from radio, and just about everything else! . I listened to music, enjoyed the view and the fresh mountain air and napped - a lot! It was fantastic. If I felt like doing something, I did it. If I didn't feel like doing anything - I didn't. I was a real lazy bones all week. I can't remember the least time that I had the opportunity to do nothing - and boy, did it feel great!

I did break out the gear on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had some thunderstorms come through the area on Tuesday morning; but it cleared out and was bright and sunny in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the bands were dead in the afternoon. I worked my bud, Bob W3BBO on 40 Meters, but it was a real shorty QSO. We gave each other 339 reports. he was using his new to him HW-9 and it sounded good. We were both too weak to carry on a QSO of any length or substance, though.

Later as it got closer towards evening, 20 Meters started to open. I began to hear several loud DX stations from Portugal and England and Russia and the Ukraine. I managed to snare UX1RX that evening.  5 Watts from Upstate NY to the Ukraine with a magloop - not bad!

As an aside, two of my cabin neighbors were curious as to what I was doing and what I was using. I had the chance to explain all about Amateur Radio and QRP. Both were fascinated when I told them it was possible to work stations around the world using less power than a nightlight. So now, every time the one cabin neighbor sees me, he calls out "CQ CQ".

Knowing that the bands were dead during the day and not open until the evening was kind of an inconvenience and a disappointment.  Just as the bands were opening, it was usually time to make dinner, or go out and eat and spend some family time together. But that's what a family vacation is all about and I didn't want playing radio to interfere with or spoil those opportunities.  As my children are growing older and becoming college age, I know I won't get many more vacation opportunities like this.  They'll have their own lives to deal with and family vacations where we're all together will become more and more scarce.

Radio can wait - family comes first. Besides, Dad will have his opportunities to play in both the FOBB and Skeeter Hunt, which are coming up soon!

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

Monday, July 09, 2018

That ol' Summertime Classic

That's how I think of it, anyway ..... right up there with BBQs, lemonade, ice cold beer, pretzels, watermelon, ice cream and swimming pools ..... The 2018 Flight of the Bumblebees has been announced!  Thanks to Rich Fisher for putting this on from year to year, this event, along with QRP To The Field has gotten me "into" portable QRP operations more than anything else.

OK, so maybe I'm an Amateur Radio and QRP nerd, but what is more sublime than sitting somewhere in a nice shady spot on a hot summer day, making contact after contact with QRP friends around the USA and the rest of the world? The breeze in your face, the Bumblebees buzzing, the bands hooping with CW?

That's right ....... nothing!

This year, the last Sunday in July falls on July 29th and the contest runs from 1700 to 2100 UTC. So grab your radio, a hunka wire and make like a bee and get out to the field and pollinate those frequency bands! Get out of that musty ol' shack and enjoy the beautiful weather and sunshine. These are the things I dream about while I'm shoveling the pile of frozen over, rock hard slush that the snow plow leaves at the end of my driveway after every big snowfall.

For the rules, please go to

For the roster, please go to

72 de Larry W2LJ - Bumblebee # 12
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

New offerings

The heat wave across the United States sizzles - and it must have something to do with QRP kits, because they're coming forth like rabbits!

First, from the 4 Sates QRP Group - The Murania

This is an AM Broadcast band radio - just like we used to have back in the 50s and 60s.  Remember when you used to have one of these? We'd sneak them to bed with us and listen to ball games or Jean Shepherd K2ORS on WWOR Radio out of New York City.

It's described as perfect for the 1st time kit builder. The price is a modest $35. This would be a great kit for youngsters or scouts, because unlike a lot of Amateur Radio kits - this is something that can be used immediately after they've finished building it.  The details are at

The other offering is a Simple RF Probe Kit from the QRPGuys:

Coming in at $10 - this is a great item to have on your workbench for troubleshooting RF circuits. No RF output?  Go back to the beginning stages and see where the output stops. Trouble has to be there! For details -

You can always get one of these to have on hand if you have trouble with your Muriana - although, like most 4 States kits, I doubt you'll encounter any problems.

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

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Independence Day - 2018

Thank you to our Founders!

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

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Amateur Radio Curmudgeon - Reality or Myth?

So I had a conversation with Jeff KE9V on Twitter this afternoon.  It resulted when I saw the following tweet that he posted:

I have to admit, what struck me was the line, "just to annoy that one curmudgeon at the radio club who always tells others HOW to have fun".

Curmudgeon? Really?  A little background. As you know I live in New Jersey - in the Northeast, the USA's Home of Nasty. Driving on any of our roads, you're more likely to see "the bird" or the "five finger salute" as a stop sign or a traffic cone. Think of Frank Barrone from "Everybody Loves Raymond". That's an example of typical here in New York and New Jersey.

But yet, not in the Amateur Radio world. At least not that I've experienced, in the five or six local clubs of which I have been a member at one time or another during my Ham Radio career. So I answered: "Damn! In 40 years of Amateur Radio, I've never once ran into that fabled "curmudgeon" who actually tried to tell me HOW to have fun, other than by encouraging me to get on the air. For the most part, all of the experienced Hams I have ever met have been kind and enthusiastic."

And Jeff could not believe that. But to be totally honest with you - as God is my witness, with my hand on the Bible, I have NEVER run into anyone who told me (or anyone else that I've been near) HOW to have fun in Amateur Radio, or that something I was doing "wasn't REAL Amateur Radio".

I've encountered inebriated Hams on local repeaters. I've encountered "know-it-alls" who would tell you "THAT'S not how you make a dipole!", but would then show you how to.  I've even had Hams joke about my first few attempts at my homebrewed wire antennas. But I have never, and I mean NEVER, have I had a Ham tell me that something I was doing "was not REAL Ham Radio", or "That HAS to be done this way."

In fact, it's been just the opposite. Some of the most experienced Hams that I have had the privilege to know have been the most supportive and enthusiastic.  Take Jules WV2O (SK). He was a dedicated CW man. He was a Morse operator in the Merchant Marines. He didn't even know what a microphone was. In fact, I'm pretty sure he didn't own one. He had a really stereotypical gruff exterior that might have scared some people away.  He was exactly the type you might expect to say, "Pffft! If it ain't CW, it ain't Ham Radio!" But in fact, he was just the opposite! He encouraged all new licensees to experiment and find out what worked best for them. He certainly was an advocate for CW; but he never discouraged anyone from trying anything that might bring them joy.

And all the Hams I have had the privilege to know have been pretty much the same. Oh, they might make a comment about a new mode with something like, "I don't think that's for me" or something like that; but I have never, ever heard the words "That isn't Ham Radio" or insinuations to that effect.

Maybe I've been lucky. Maybe living in New Jersey gives me a thicker skin. We have a saying here in NJ, when we hear something we don't like, we say "consider the source." So maybe we just don't pay attention to or really even hear negative comments about how we enjoy our hobby. Maybe we ARE just different up here.

So I'll keep on searching for "The Curmudgeon" and while I'm looking for him, maybe I'll find Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

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

Monday, July 02, 2018

Not holding my tongue

This is part of what I had in mind last week when I said I was holding my tongue.  Today, I am not. This appeared on the Facebook on the 13 Colonies Special Event page. It's a darn shame that anything like this even need to be posted!

From organizing and running something as simple as the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, I can only estimate the planning, and blood, sweat and tears that go into running the 13 Colonies event.  That it is so popular is a testament to the work of the organizers.

In addition to the on-air activity, comes the necessary log checking, QSL printing, QSL sending, certificate sending and everything else. But some people seem to forget that this is NOT the livelihood of the people behind the scenes. THEY ARE VOLUNTEERS. They are doing this because the love Amateur Radio, they love the United States and they love the Independence Day holiday.

Are they perfect?  No. No one is perfect. I am sure they make their share of mistakes. And I'm sure the amount of mistakes made are insignificant to all they get correct. But in an event like this, some people need to take a deep breath and take a step backward, instead of whining, yelling or screaming.  This is not worth sending your blood pressure into the stratosphere, for either the organizers or the participants. In the grand scheme of life, this is small potatoes, folks.

So just enjoy the event for what it is and let's all play nice and have a good time. Shall we?

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

WOW !!!!!!

Is all I can say!

After watching this video sent to me by Marc W4MPS, which shows the WQ4RP 2018 Field Day effort, I feel like Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World.

We are not worthy! We are not worthy!

This, folks, is how QRP Field Day is meant to be done!

I'm sure glad they were 4A Battery and not 3A Battery, SPARC would have ended up WAY DOWN in the standings! Talk about getting your butt womped!

Thanks, Marc - that is one heckuva EXCELLENT video - so glad you shared it!

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Field Day - then and now

I don't mean this post to seem vain; or "all about W2LJ," but I was looking at Field Day pictures on my USB thumb drive and I was just kind of taken aback.

Field Day in the 80s and 90s with the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club:

Field Day with the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club - current day:

Where'd the skinny guy with all that dark hair go?  Although you can't tell because of the SPARC hat, I've gone completely gray.  I've added on quite the few pounds and the last picture show why - W2LJ is not one to miss a meal! But in all fairness, I've lost about 15 pounds in the last few months in an effort to lose some of the excess weight. It's a start; but I still have a long way to go!
Some 20 - 30 years later, in my mind I still feel like the skinny guy with the dark hair. But now, joints hurt that never used to hurt before. I definitely can't move around as fast as I used to and I've lost so much flexibility that it's very frustrating at times.

It's at times like these that I fondly remember my Mom always telling me, "Larry .... don't get old." and my answer always was, "Can't do much about that, Ma!"

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Holding my tongue

A couple years back, when I was interviewed for "QSO Today" by Eric 4Z1UG, he asked me what were some of the things I learned from doing this blog. I answered "Humility" as that was the topmost thing I could think of. And right after that was "Respecting other's opinions".

I learned both those lessons the hard way. When I started this blog some 13 years ago,  I was much younger and a lot less thoughtful and a lot more arrogant. There were times when I was brash, thoughtless and I acted like I couldn't care less if I offended anyone by what I was writing at the time. Folks called me upon it in the comments from time to time; and I took their words of advice or more properly, admonishment, to heart.

It's easy to be brash, snotty and snarky while pecking away at the keyboard. After all, you're by yourself with no one looking over your shoulder while you're typing - it's so anonymous.  However, I didn't want to earn the reputation as someone who a) inserts foot in mouth before speaking, or b) thinks he knows-it-all.

But I have to tell you, boy-oh-boy, would I really like to let loose one of these days.  Over the past few weeks, I've read things from various sources and in various places on line that were either flat out wrong, misleading, frustrating, inanely stupid or just plain "Horse Hocky" as Col. Potter would exclaim on M*A*S*H. Just gets the ol' boiler bubbling.

But as the quote goes "discretion is the better part of valor" - so I'll hold my tongue ....... for now. We're having problems as it is in Hawaii, with one volcano. We don't need another.

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

That wasn't good - that was great!

180 degree opposites! As much as I feared that I wasn't into Field Day this year, that's how much it turned out to be a truly great experience! Just as I thought, as soon as I gathered together with my fellow South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club members, that's just how quickly the adrenaline got to flowing and the fun and excitement began. And thanks be to God, we never got any of the rain or thunderstorms that were predicted for Saturday.

In addition to the gratification that you get from doing a job well done, some added satisfaction came from a lot of the public that came by and visited our enhanced information booth this year. In addition to the normal ARRL informational handouts, we added some multimedia. We set up a 24" TV which was hooked up to my laptop which was running a continuous loop of a video about Amateur Radio.

We had chairs set up so that people could sit down in the shade of the canopy to watch the entire 30 minute video if they wanted to and more than just a few people did. One woman that I spoke to, in order to ask if she needed any more information about our hobby exclaimed to me, "This is great! I learned so much today! More people should come by to watch this." So in that regard, we did what I think was a pretty good job of creating public awareness for the benefits of Amateur Radio.

Marv K2VHW set up some code keys and code practice oscillators in the info tent for people to try. One man brought his nephew along with him to visit our setup and the youngster really got a kick out of the keys. Marv showed him how to use them and he had fun trying to use Morse Code.

The next day, his uncle came back to visit again to tell us that his nephew got such a kick out of Morse Code and Amateur Radio in general, that he spent hours with his friends on the telephone Saturday evening, telling them all about what he saw and did.  That's called "planting the seed", my friends.

This was SPARC's fifth Field Day and you could tell that we are beginning to get into a routine and really know what we're doing now. I think that "they" would call us a "well oiled machine" - thanks mostly to KD2FSI, W2OIL and KC2YRC and Phil KD2HPG who designed and built our HF tower. We started setup at 10:00 AM and were pretty much finished by Noon. Some final incidental "finishing touches" were taken care of and we were absolutely ready by 1:00 PM with an hour to go.  

As always, Ron N2LCZ had our mini logging computer network up and running flawlessly. He was even able to tap into our Wifi account through the help of a wireless router that Bill W2AOF brought along, so that we had full internet access on site ........ in the middle of Spring Lake Park. It was awesome!

Antennas went up as smoothly as a hot knife through butter and with the help of Dave W2OIL and Dan KC2YRC, I was able to get the W3EDP antenna up even higher this year. We had it as high in two trees as we could get it and it sloped from about 40 feet high in a maple to about 30 or 35 feet at the other end in a pine tree, where it terminated. While the W3EDP was my main stay on 40 and 20 Meters, I was able to make at least one contact on all bands, 160 through 10 Meters with it.  However, for 80 Meters, Dave KD2FSI had me hooked up to his 80/40 Meter Inverted Vee and that wire was simply magnificent. With 5 Watts, I was able to work absolutely everyone that I was able to hear on 80 Meters.

While we had a generator going to run the info booth, all the computers were run off solar power charged batteries, so that we could explain to people about how easy it is to make use of alternative sources of power. We had two solar arrays up and running. These were purchased through Harbor Freight and it was amazing (to me at least) that they supplied ample power even under the overcast conditions that we had.

When "go time" came at 2:00 PM, we got down to the serious business of making contacts. Through the entire 24 hour period, I can honestly say that we had all the radios occupied for at least 90% of the time. Dave KD2FSI and I forsook our customary "middle of the night" 10 winks of sleep this year. The group is probably tired of hearing it from me, but once again I was telling them that "these contacts aren't going to make themselves" and it showed, as we reached our highest number of QSOs this year.  We also had our share of guest operators, including some new Hams from the area who got their first taste of HF thanks to Field Day. Their excitement was palpable.

And even one of our Town Council members took a turn behind a radio, while our Mayor and some other members spent some time talking and visiting with us. SPARC is really dedicated to making Field Day more than just making contacts. We really try to make this a fun weekend "Amateur Radio Awareness Event".

 But we also "put our money where our mouths were" and got down to the busy task of making contacts. Our classification was 3A Battery, so by ARRL definition, we were limited to 5 Watts output - true QRP.  We made well over 300 CW contacts and came somewhere around 175 phone contacts for the weekend, with a goodly amount of digital contacts thrown in for good measure, courtesy of Dave, KD2FSI.

KD2HPF getting "artsy" with a photo of yours truly!

So when 3:30 PM on Sunday came around and all was torn down and put away for storage until next year, I came home tired (no, make that exhausted), but yet thoroughly pleased and happy. I had just spent 24+ hours with people I absolutely enjoy being with, doing something that I absolutely love and enjoy doing. How can you possibly ask for anything more than that?

One final shot of SPARC Field Day 2018.

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

Special thanks to Mario KD2HPF for a lot of fantastic photos of the weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Field Day Quandry

OK, heresy of heresies ...... I am not stoked for Field Day this year.

It's been a really tough couple of weeks here at work as the result of things I'd rather not elaborate about.  Nothing terrible, or job threatening - just a tough situation right now. I know, we all go through these, and I shouldn't feel sorry for myself. It's just that it's so exhausting!

As a result, I'd much rather loaf and nap the weekend away. Add to all this that our local forecast is for general wetness and thunderstorms for Saturday, it looks like we may be in for a repeat of Field Day 2015.  That was the Field Day that we got so soaked, that I was amazed we all didn't come down with pneumonia.

But I will be there at 10:00 AM tomorrow for setup, with a smile on my face, ready to get to work and get down to business.  I'm sure that once my earbuds fill with Morse and my fingers start tapping out those all too familiar dits and dahs, that I will find myself being happy about being in my element.

Hope to hear you! For your part, I hope you will keep an ear out for NJ2SP (our club call). We'll be operating 3A (Battery) NNJ again this year - so we'll be QRP. Yay!

Hoping we don't get soaked or zapped, I remain faithfully "yours truly".

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Them Skeeter numbers are going fast!

Today is the First Day of Summer and we already have 59 Skeeters ready to take flight on August 19th.

I'm glad to see we have a lot of regulars coming back - tried and true Skeeters who have been there since our first run back in 2012. And even more exciting is seeing new calls and names that are making 2018 their first "go".

Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a totally green newbie, it matters not!  The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is meant to be more fun than anything else. Yes, there are certificates to be had for getting the high scores (and yes, I still have to get the 2017 certificates mailed - my first act of business after Field Day), but even more important is getting outside with your gear and participating. And even if you can't get outside, there is still the fun to be had spending an enjoyable afternoon making contacts with other QRPers.

Remember,, there is a SSB category for those of you who have a disdain for dits and dahs - so no excuses!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Perennial Skeeter # 13
QRP - When you care to send the very least!