Friday, September 24, 2021

Egads! It's Autumn! Where has the year gone?

 


At least in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway. It's time to say good-bye to longer days, warmer temperatures, and hopefully soon - lawn mowing.

But on the other side of the coin, Winter will soon be approaching, making it's presence felt long before Autumn is officially over. I'll be going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, and soon I'll go back to wearing three layers of shirts/sweaters as the cold temperatures return. And the Farmer's Almanac (if they're to be believed) is no help. They are prognosticating a "colder, snowier and longer lasting" Winter for my part of the Eastern Seaboard. As you can guess, I am hoping they're wrong.

The bright side is that the bands should become noticeably less filled with QRN from Summertime thunderstorm activity. Both 160 and 80 Meters should be welcome refuges of night time activity in the weeks and months to come. I haven't decided as to whether or not I'll be participating in the Winter QRP Fox Hunts this season. They start at 9:00 PM local time here in the Eastern Time Zone. It's hard for me to stay up much later than that these days. I wake up for work in the morning at 5:30 AM, and my job has been very demanding on this 64 year old body. I'm definitely no Spring Chicken anymore, and I'm not embarrassed to admit that, as I guess I've earned it. I do find I need as much sleep as I can get, so it comes down to whether I fall asleep in bed - or whether I fall asleep in front of the radio in the shack.  

At least I won't be falling asleep in front of the TV like my Dad used to do. I remember asking my Mom once, when I was just a tyke, as to why my father did that so often. That's a hard thing to understand when you're just a kid. She said, "Someday you'll know why.". You were right, Mom - you were right.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Crap!

 I was reading some stuff on the internet this morning when my phone chirped to let me know that my friend Bob W3BBO was on the air calling CQ. I saw that he was on 30 Meters, and I thought the band might be conducive to a Pittsburgh to Central Jersey QSO, so I ran downstairs to fire up the KX3. I flipped the switch on my Astron 20 Amp power supply and there was no hum and the rocker switch didn't light up.

Not good.

I checked to make sure the power strip that I have it plugged into was working and that showed to be fine. My Astron 7 Amp power supply is plugged into the same surge protector and it fired up just fine. I replaced the fuse and powered up again. This time, there was a hum and the rocker switch lit up - all for about a second. Then the new fuse blew.

I unplugged it, took off the cover and gave it a visual inspection. Nothing burnt, nothing charred, no funny smells. I then took a meter to all the major semiconductors - pass transistors, diodes and SCR and the readings were normal - no shorts. The filter caps look ok - from my experience with repairing studio strobes, those big electrolytics tend to bulge a bit before they have a "non passive failure" so I doubt they're the problem. That leaves the transformer itself or something on the voltage regulator board. I'm thinking the voltage regulator board as transformers in and of themselves really don't go bad without some evidence of getting overly hot or burning.

I don't have the time or resources to go into deep trouble shooting right now, so I'll rely on the 7 Amp supply for the time being - too many projects, too many things to do. Besides, running 5 Watts shouldn't even make it raise a sweat. While I was down there, after getting things transferred over and squared away, I made a couple contacts on 15 Meters with some Texas QSO Party stations. I also had a brief QSO with Lazlo HA3NA on 17 Meters (and I got a 579)!  It was really nice to see 15 and 17 Meters alive for a change. Maybe the sun spots ARE making a comeback.

When I do get the time, there are some wonderful resources on the web for fixing these babies. One in particular can be found here - http://www.repeater-builder.com/astron/pdf/astron-troubleshooting.pdf

It's a nice step by step resource and as it's been over 14 years since I repaired circuit boards down to the component level every day for a living, my trouble shooting skills are a bit rusty to put it mildly. I'll take whatever help I can get.

On another note, I downloaded Hamrs onto my cell phone after watching Tom K4SWL use it on his POTA videos. It's a super easy logging program to use, even easier than Ham Log NG. I like that you can create specific logbooks for individual POTA activations or other events. Each log can be converted to an ADIF so that I can import them into my master AC Log logbook on the laptop. I also downloaded it onto my Android tablet which should be a bit easier on my fat fingers in the field. This, of course, assumes that I will give up on paper and pencil. That may be easier said than done! LOL!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Upcoming Events

 QRP Afield

QRP Afield 2021 is held on the third Saturday of September, which is September 18 this year; as in the past few years, it runs from 1500-2100Z (11am-5pm EDT). You can read the rules here: https://www.newenglandqrp.org/qrp-afield-2018/ (still mostly correct).

Our weekend always has a number of other operating events going on, perhaps because it's the final weekend of summer. Five QSO parties overlap some or all of our operating period: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington (the Salmon Run). There is also a major international contest, the Scandinavian Activity Contest (they were booming into NH last year; I worked a couple of them on 40 CW!), and this year we have Wisconsin Parks on the Air. There will surely also be some activations in programs including POTA, SOTA, and IOTA, and some special event stations. Here in MA there is one to commemorate the 100th anniversary of broadcast station WBZ; it will use the special call signs W1W, W1B, W1Z, and WB1Z. Also keep an ear out for the Chowdercon station, W1C; that will have NEQRP members operating portable from an island in Portsmouth NH.

This year, contacts with stations in other operating events are explicitly allowed. (If you can't beat them join them!) You are not required to complete the full QRP Afield exchange with those stations; instead, you should use the exchange required by the other event. (Their logging software probably isn't set up to record your power level or NEQRP number.) We encourage you to submit logs to any contests you make contacts in, even if you only make one or two contacts; the organizers use your data to check other logs.

I'm also introducing a new bonus. Any contact where both operators send a NEQRP number and submit logs that contain a matching contact is worth two points instead of the usual one. The normal power, location, and S/P/C multipliers still apply. That's meant to encourage people to make some QRP Afield contacts. (Don't have a member number? Membership in the New England QRP Club is free and open to all hams. Send email to kk1x@kk1x.net with the subject Join.)

You can work each station once per band per mode. For our purposes there are three modes: CW, voice (any voice mode including digital voice), and digital (everything else: RTTY, PSK31, JT65, FT8, SSTV, fax -- if it's not Morse Code and doesn't involve a microphone it goes here). All bands other than WARC bands and 60 meters are allowed, but you'll find most of the QRP Afield activity on 40 and 20 meter CW. (The only bands and mode that appeared in 2020 logs were 80, 40, and 20 meter CW.) Perhaps 15 will have an opening this year, and consider trying 80 to work some nearby stations, especially if you are in or near one of the states with a QSO party.

A field station must use non-permanent antennas and be powered by something other than the commercial power grid or a motor-driven generator. Usually that means batteries. No minimum distance from your house is required; operating from your porch or yard is fine. That said, we encourage you to get out and operate from a location away from home!

---------------------------------------------------

Last year's submissions included a mix of logs that only included full QRP Afield exchanges, and logs that also included QSOs with stations in other operating events. That made it hard to compare the results, and I procrastinated reporting because I wasn't sure how to handle that. But I have compiled a spreadsheet with the best available data. You can see that here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18nwip7vXWWj0-O8E9p2sIyQRO2xZHWmzvftRqf5HjZg/edit?usp=sharing

I promise to get the 2021 results out in a more timely manner!

Leaders in 2020:

Top scores:

W1PID    3360

N5GW     2860

NN9K      2470

Leaders by ARRL/RAC section:

W1: W1PID

W2: W2JEK

W3: W3TS

W4: N4KGL

W5: N5GW

W8: WD8RIF

W9: NN9K

W0: W0UFO

VE3: VE3DQN

We did not receive logs from any other sections or from DX stations.

72, Shirley KE1L

2021 QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party

The next QRP-ARCI sponsored contest is our Fall QSO Party.  This is a 24-hour operating event from 0000z to 2359z on October 9th. 

Look for others around the normal QRP operating frequencies from 160m to 10m (no WARC) bands. The exchange is RST, State/Province/Country plus QRP-ARCI member number (for members) or power output (for non-members). Club member numbers are good for life and can be looked up at www.qrparci.org

If you can operate just a couple of hours or many, be sure to submit your log by November 1st at www.qrpcontest.com  Last year's contest only had 21 entries. Mike W3TS took the top spot in the 250mw to 1w category, and overall top score, with 25,520 points. Leading the 1w to 5w category, and 2nd overall, was Jim W4QO with 21,000 points followed closely by John K4BAI with 20,020 points. 

Complete rules and details are available here:  https://qrparci.org/contest/fall-qso-party

Hope to catch you on the air!

73,

Paul K4FB

QRP-ARCI Contest Manager


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Being prepared

 A few months back, in April, I ended up trading in the Jeep Patriot for something newer. The Patriot was 167,000 miles old and needed a new catalytic converter (estimate close to 2K). My wife Marianne brought up the point that it wasn't worth spending any further money on the vehicle, as it had done well for us over the years, and we had gotten our money's worth out of it. The possibility existed that it was just going to become a repair money pit.

She went online and located a "pre-owned" 2018 Jeep Cherokee at a local Honda dealer that was turned in after a short term lease.


This is the nicest vehicle that I have ever owned and I was a bit hesitant to put holes in it and mar the interior by installing my VHF/UHF radio. I have been driving around without since. This past Wednesday and Ida changed my mind.  However, I still didn't want to permanently deface the interior by drilling screw holes, so I came up with another solution.


I took a piece of plywood, cut it to a size that I thought would work best and I painted it black. It slides in between the driver's seat and the center console and because of the almost non-existent gap, stays put. I attached the radio to the plywood and that's how it's mounted.


I put black duct tape over the edges of the plywood to make that look a more finished and I put some Velcro (the soft, fuzzy side) over the screw heads securing the mounting bracket so that they can't scratch the side of center console.

I'm waiting on a new antenna, a Compactenna 2M/70cm dual band antenna. 

When I first saw this compact antenna a few years ago, I was skeptical as to how good a performer it could possibly be. My friend Tim AB2ZK has one and he raves about it. I want a low profile antenna so I can park in the deck at work with no problems. The 5/8 wave antenna I had on the Patriot forced me to park outside, as it would bang into the low hanging pipes protruding from the deck ceiling. I was also afraid that I would one day damage one of the low hanging fire detectors that are there.

The antenna is due to arrive this week and I should be in business by next weekend.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Wild and wooly - but blessed

Tropical Storm Ida paid us a visit yesterday. I can only imagine what Louisiana is like after she got through there. It was a dark and dreary day all day, but the real rain didn't kick in until just as I left work for home.

After I got home, (which took an hour - usually it's a 45 minute trip) it got worse. By 2:00 AM (when I finally got to bed last night) we had accumulated 9.50 inches (23 cm) of rain. My daughter Cara got home from Rutgers before I did, so she was safe. My son Joseph had a class until 8:40 PM. He texted me to say he was on the way home after class and I told him to either find a campus building to hunker down in; or just sit it out in his car at the University parking lot. The parking lot is a solar farm and is on high ground, and for all intent and purpose, the cars are covered. He told me he was going to recline the driver's seat back, and get a snooze.

My wife Marianne could not get home. Around 8:30 PM she texted me to let me know her car was stuck in water. I tried to drive out to where she found shelter, in a Petco Pet Store right next to her dialysis clinic - but I was turned around. The streets were flooded and impassable.  I texted, asking her why she didn't just go and re-open the clinic (cots/stretchers there) and stay there, and she told me the entrance was blocked by waist high water. By 11:00 PM her car in the parking lot was under water to the roof line.

Conditions at the W2LJ QTH at 11:00PM Local last night with rain still coming down


Added to all this craziness, my cell phone was beeping and buzzing all night with severe weather alerts, flash flood warning alerts, tornado warning alerts and the like. The Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management volunteers and South Plainfield CERT volunteers were all keeping in touch via GroupMe and the various repeaters. It was a hectic evening, to say the least.

The rain started easing up after Midnight, enough so that my son was able to navigate his way home by about 1:15 AM. At 2:00 AM, just before trying to get a few hours sleep, I texted my wife, advising her to get some rest if possible, and that I would pick her up around 5:00 AM after giving the floodwaters a chance to recede. Before hitting the sack, I checked into the local Skywarn Net to give our rainfall total.

When I got to where Marianne had sheltered, her car was no longer under water, but it was totally dead. Totally dead - like "dead as a doornail" dead. Dead to the point where I couldn't shift it into neutral to try and push it to a better, out of the way spot.

I called the police to let them know where we left it. I went online and filed a claim with our car insurance company. They are going to have it towed and provide a repair estimate. If it's not totaled,  I will be gobsmacked. It's a 10 year old Ford Fiesta and my wife told me that as the car was being covered by water, the lights came on by themselves and the trunk popped open. Total electrical system blow out. When I opened the doors, water did not come gushing out, but the seats and seatbacks were soaked like wet sponges. It's a mess. I can't imagine a 10 year old car would be worth even trying to repair at this point.

But even with all this, we are blessed. We are all safe and sound - even though (except for my daughter,) we all had wet socks, pants and squishy shoes from wading through various depths of rainwater. Some 25 miles or so to the south of us in the vicinity of Trenton, NJ there was a lot of tornadic activity. From what I was able to gather from various media sources, several homes were destroyed.

We never lost power at home and our basement remained dry as a bone - which is more than I can say for lots of my neighbors. We are all safe and injury free and for that I thank the Almighty. A car can and will be replaced - my wife, son and daughter cannot.

Thank you, Lord, for being with us through the eye of the storm.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

2021 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Results

 After a few flubs by yours truly - the "final" version of the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Scoreboard is available for viewing:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-drxnlwD8qJtv0mcTaPzXWB-9tFrU11v/edit?fbclid=IwAR0ewmzLjZPqmgFty-B1FaOb1zeSXr1hjaIVC8un6s4nGP3uQh3cMk8q9Lg#gid=450200681

A big CONGRATULATIONS is in order to ALL those who participated, but a special "hat tip" to the Top Five finishers:

1st Place - Dave AB9CA

2nd Place - Gene N5GW

3rs Place - Rick NK9G

4th Place - Mark NK8Q

5th Place - Kent K9ZTV and the N0SS Crew!

The soapbox pages and the certificates will follow soon.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Resurrection?

 I am pondering of the possibility of resurrecting the NJQRP Club as an actual and viable organization. The club kind of fell asleep over the years, and when we lost the two masterminds, it went into a deep slumber. George N2APB now lives in Tennessee, and Joe N2CX passed away suddenly a few years ago. They were the heartbeat of the club. Except for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, we're basically in a flat line status.

Is it possible to break out the paddles and shock the club back into life? I think so; although it will take a lot of work and it will only be a shadow of its former being for a while, at least. The first step I've taken is to start an NJQRP io group. The next step will be to start publicizing its existence. I would really like to find a place centrally located in the state where QRPers could get together and meet maybe 3 or 4 times a year. We used to gather at the food court at a shopping mall near Princeton. I'll have to look into that. I miss the show and tell sessions and when we used to meet as a group at a park in Blackwell's Mill for some impromptu operating. By the way, that was the fabled site where the aliens landed in Orson Well's famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast.

So, if you're from NJ or the greater NJ, NY, PA area and would like to be in on this project - drop me a line to w2lj@arrl.net. I'll send you an invite to join the NJQRP io group - just an e-mail reflector for now. Stay tuned!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Cool POTA video from Poland

 


I like the way he extends his fibreglass mast! But he seems to bring a lot of stuff along! And I've been a CW op for over 40 years and I've never come across the "44"s before. Anyone know what that is all about?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, August 20, 2021

Maybe another time

 I recently purchased this from eBay.

It's an arborist's throw bag and line. I thought it would be a handy thing to take along to Lake George next summer in order to get my my 28' speaker wire antenna into a tree. I'd rather not bring the pneumatic launcher along, as it would probably raise too many questions. Being discreet is always preferred when you're a guest on someone else's property.

This Sunday was looking to be a relatively quiet day activity-wise. I thought I'd go over to Cotton Street Park and get some practice in. Yes, it will be quiet activity-wise, but not weather-wise. Looks like we're going to have a visitor.

Henri will probably not make landfall at New Jersey, but he will travel close enough to bring tropical force winds and periods of heavy rain all day Sunday. Not a good day to be at the park trying to throw objects into trees.

Maybe next weekend - we'll have to see how things play out.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Pencil and paper

 In Sunday's Skeeter post, I mentioned a story about pencil and paper. I know such methods are "old school", but ..........

Last Saturday, I went into a local auto parts shop to by floor mats for the car we recently purchased for our daughter. She is going to be commuting back and forth to college this year and she needed some wheels. I looked around inside the shop and found a set that were the right size and the right color.

I took them up to the clerk behind the register to finalize the purchase. That's when it started. 

"I can't seem to ring this up. The computer thinks we don't have any stock, it won't allow me to continue."

"But you're holding them right in your hand!".

"Let me try another register"

Same result - the computer running the register(s) thinks there is no stock  No stock - no purchase - even though there most definitely IS stock on hand.

I offered a solution. "Why don't you just ring it up manually, then?"

That's when I got "The Look". You know ...... the look like you're a visitor from another planet, you have three heads and you've just asked this guy to take you to his leader.

"Ummmm ..... we can't do this manually"

What the bloody heck?  "You can't do a manual transaction?", I asked - somewhat dumbfounded.

"No, this is a problem for the IT Department. They'll have to fix this. I can hold these on the side for you if you want to come back another time."

I took the mats, politely said "No, thanks" and put them back on the rack and left the store.

I hate to sound like an old geezer, but I remember my retail days when cash registers were mechanical, the electric ones could be overridden, and if you wanted a receipt we wrote it up using a pen on a receipt pad that had carbon paper to make duplicates.

How is commerce going to continue with such a reliance on the internet and computers if and when the fecal matter hits the rotary air oscillating device?

Is it a generational gap thing? Is it a laziness thing? Is it something else? This was by no means a major transaction - but what if it was? Suppose I had items that totaled up to hundreds of dollars? You turn that away because you can't perform a manual transaction? This boggles my mind.

We ..... and I include myself in this .... rely on computers way too much. To relate this to Amateur Radio, I think from now on, I am going to print out my Amateur Radio logbook and regular, periodic updates and keep it in a 3 ring binder someplace - besides keeping it backed up on a thumb drive and on Google Drive. There's just too much data - 43 years worth of QSOs to lose should something happen. But, on the other hand, I suppose if something of that magnitude were to happen, my personal Ham Radio history might be the last thing I'd be worried about, anyway.

But still ............ I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Hunting Skeeters

Weather-wise, it was a near perfect day! Temperatures were in the low 80s F, humidity was low, there was a very slight breeze that made it feel super comfortable for being outdoors.

I headed to Cotton Street Park just a few minutes after Noon. I gave myself plenty of time to set up and I was ready to go with about 15 minutes to go before the starting gun sounded I decided to use the MFJ-1982LP and the Jackite pole as I mentioned previously. I really should have just relied on one of the tall trees in the park as a support for the antenna, but I guess I wanted another go at setting it up. Of course, the support mechanism that I was clued into by Dave KD2FSI worked flawlessly and I had the antenna up in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

The Jackite just blends into the background for the camera, so I highlighted it with yellow so you could see how I positioned it. The antenna ended up running pretty much due north and south -with the lobes reaching out to the east and west. Hindsight being 20/20, I probably should have had it pointing NW to SE which would have had the lobes covering a majority of the country. Next time. The rig, of course, was the KX3. I always keep the Bulldog Clip paddle and an American Morse paddle in the backpack, but I decided to spend the day using the attached QRP Guys paddles, which I really enjoy using.

I've had this camping table for over ten years now. It's nice to have for portable ops, but sometimes it gets really bouncy and is more like a trampoline than a table. It's small, and lightweight and that's what counts. The chair I use has a side shelf, but it's hinged and is really too small to comfortably and reliably hold the radio. I have these visions of me reaching for the radio and pushing down on the shelf accidentally, causing the radio to fall. and go kablooey.  I use the side shelf to hold my log - yes, I use paper and pencil when I log portable sprint ops. I'm not coordinated enough to type into a tablet or my phone AND try and make as many contacts as possible in a limited amount of time. Other times, when it's just "casual" operating, I'll log using my phone or tablet as I have the luxury of stopping what I'm doing to get the information into HamLog NG. When time is of the essence, I resort to ol' reliable pencil and paper. (I have a story to tell kind of relating to "pencil and paper", but that can wait for another day - maybe tomorrow).


The first hour seemed slow and I made about 10 contacts. There was a ton of EU stations participating in a DX contest (all the way into "QRP Territory"). It was hard to pick out the Skeeters, The Europeans, who must have been running power, were very loud and were running roughshod over the Skeeters. Things picked up after that first hour, and I ended up making 31 QSOs - 29 with Skeeters and 2 with "5 Watters". I think my best DX was working Myron WV0H in Colorado.

The QSOs seemed to be evenly spread between 40 and 20 Meters - I kept switching back and forth. When one band would seem to dry up, I'd switch and make a few contacts on the other.  Switching back after a bit would then reveal some stations I hadn't heard before. QSB was horrendous all day. Take for example Rick NK9G. One minute he'd be blasting the earbuds right out of my head, the next minute he'd be S3 at best. I think a lot of us battled with that all afternoon.

15 meters was dead the few times I tried it, even all the way to the bottom of the band, where you might at least expect to hear a station or two. I tried 80 Meters twice and the second time, I was rewarded with hearing Mark NK8Q calling CQ and we completed an exchange on that band.

When the action on the band lulled, I took a few photos for the social media bonus points including one of this ugly guy.


And then later in the afternoon, I had a visitor (actually two).


Usually, I get a human visitor or two, but this year it was of the hooved and ruminant kind. They checked out the funny looking tree (Jackite) sticking out of the ground. They were probably disappointed that it had no leaves for them to munch on. I remained sitting quietly working stations and they approached cautiously, coming as close as about 10 feet (3 meters) from me before wandering off to a more prodigious food area of the park.

Tear down went quickly and I was home within about 20 minutes from when I started taking things apart. The Home Depot bucket lid antenna winder that Dave KD2FSI made for me worked like a charm! No kinks or tangles when I unwound and deployed the antenna and none when I wound it back up. His idea was pure genius!

Thanks to all of you who gave me QSOs and participated in the Skeeter Hunt. If it wasn't for you guys this event would be a big flop. To take a line from the song, you are the wind beneath its wings. I'm already thinking about next year's Hunt, even though there's still lots of work to do before the 2021 Hunt is in the books. Let's hope that 2022 provides more sunspots!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, August 14, 2021

SP3RN

 

St.Maximilian Kolbe SP3RN


A "Guest Post" if you will, content courtesy of Lloyd K3QNT from his QRZ page:

Ham Radio’s Saint

By Lloyd – K3QNT

Deputy Camp Kommandant Karl Fritsch was screaming at the prisoners who been standing at attention for nearly nine hours on the parade field at Auschwitz on a brutally hot August day in 1941. “You! You! You! You! and….You!” The day before a fellow prisoner had escaped and as a result, 10 residents of Block-14 were automatically assigned to a starvation bunker to die. All the Deputy Kommandant needed to do now was pick which ones. Suddenly, Polish Sergeant Francis Gajownicznek, one of the chosen, cried out that he had a family and did not want to leave them as a widow and orphans. Then quietly and to the astonishment of all present another Polish prisoner, Maximilian Kolbe, stepped out of line, approached Colonel Fritsch and in fluent German said, “Take me instead. I am a Catholic Priest. I have no family. I am old and of no use to you.” Colonel Fritsch agreed and the condemned men were stripped naked and thrown into a camp basement with a dirt floor where they were denied food and water until every one of them, including Kolbe perished. Auschwitz was not a mythical “Hogan’s Heroes” prison. It was brutal death camp operated by the Nazi “SS” and Kolbe was not just any priest. Prior to his arrest in June of that year, he had founded Niepokalanow, an extraordinary Franciscan monastery who’s sole mission was communications. The five acre campus included a newspaper with over a million monthly circulation and a radio station. This enormous facility outside of Warsaw, employing over 700 monks was headed up by Father Maximilian Kolbe, OFM. Because of his selfless act, Maximilian Kolbe became a Martyr on August 14, 1941. The following day, his remains were turned to ashes in an Auschwitz oven.

In the late 1980s, I was looking forward to reading my QST which had just arrived at my home. I noted a small “Stray” that reported in October of 1982, a man named Maximilian Kolbe had just been canonized into the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul, II. The story mentioned that Kolbe, the “Martyr of Auschwitz” had held the Polish amateur radio call sign SP3RN, making him the first Canonized Saint to be a Ham. Several years later, I would become a founding member of the new Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Westtown, PA. After our church became active, I organized a Special Event Station with the call, K3M. We operated from the parish offices immediately following the 12 O'clock Mass.

In the summer of 1998, I was working Dr. Ted Figlock, W1HGY on 40 meters. I mentioned during the QSO that the patron Saint of our local church was a Ham. Ted, himself of Polish decent, suggested that we establish a net to honor the accomplishments of this remarkable man. The 75 Meter Saint Maximilian Kolbe Net has been on the air for 22 years every Sunday @2400Z on 3814 kHz.

Over the years the net has welcomed thousands of check-ins from all over the USA, Caribbean Islands, South America, Canada and Europe. In 2005 we started a “Long Haul” net on 20 meters with the idea of attracting DX check-ins. The Net Control stations are Deacon George Carr, WA5KBH and Laurence Galle, K9EYZ. This net operates also on Sunday @ 2200Z on 14,341 khz. Our future plans include a new effort on 40 meters based in the mid-western United States operating on 7238 khz. The net frequencies were selected to signify some milestone in Kolbe’s life. 3814 kHz is the month and day of his death and14,341 kHz marks the year. 7238 kHz represents the founding of SP3RN at Niepokalanow in February of 1938. Net member Tony D’ Alonzo, K3ZA has recently begun a DMR Net to expand the reach of our Amateur Radio apostolate.

Today SP3RN is memorialized on-line with its own web site and QRZ.COM listing. In addition there is a For-TV movie, two documentaries and more than a dozen books written about Maximilian Kolbe, the most recent of which is: The Life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Apostle of Mass Communications. published in 2019 by net member Bill La May, K3RMW. There are dozens of Saint Maximilian Kolbe Radio Clubs in Brazil, Puerto Rico, Italy, Spain, Japan, Poland and the United States. If you would like to learn more about SP3RN and the Saint Maximilian Kolbe Net, join us any Sunday on 80, 40 or 20 meters. You can also visit www.saintmaxnet.org for net history and details.

-30-

Thank you Lloyd, for the wonderful memorial.        St. Max - Ora Pro Nobis!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least! 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Looking forward to Sunday!

 Here's my local weather forecast for Sunday afternoon:

Partly cloudy to mostly sunny, temps in the low 80s F, with low humidity - only 30-40%. I couldn't have asked for better weather!

I'll be operating from Cotton Street Park, which is not far from home at all:

It's maybe a 2 or 3 minute ride by car.

Still haven't decided which antenna I'm going to use, but I'm leaning towards the MFJ-1982LP just in case 15 Meters opens up - if anybody will be listening! so that means bringing along my Jackite and the PVC supporting tube.

There's still time to sign up for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt if you haven't already. Just go to www.qsl.net/w2lj  for instructions on how to get your very own number for this year's Hunt. I will be assigning numbers for e-mails received right up until 12:01 AM Sunday morning. As of this morning, we're up to potential 233 Skeeters getting ready to fly. If everyone gets on the air this Sunday, we can really make the airwaves BUZZ!

I hope you all have a good time - remember, be safe, have fun - enjoy the day!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

HHH

 We are under an Excessive Heat Warning for the next few days, with hazy, hot and humid weather forecast through Saturday morning.  

The good news is that sometime Saturday afternoon into Saturday night, a cold front is supposed to move through bringing thunderstorms AND cooler and drier air behind it.

Sunday (as of right now) looks to be sunny, significantly less humid with a high of 84F for the day. Looking good here for the Skeeter Hunt at the park in town that is my normal "go-to".

The bummer for today is that this is the last day that we will have a sunset after 8:00 PM local time until next May. Boo !!!!!!! Hiss !!!!!!!!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, August 09, 2021

The weekend

This past Saturday, the VE Team that I am associated with held an exam session for Somerset County Emergency Management. We were asked to give Technician tests to 17 of their CERT members who wanted to obtain Amateur Radio licenses.

They were given instruction by Bill Kelly NB1LL via an online Microsoft Teams class. Bill did an outstanding job as all 17 got their licenses, with 5 candidates getting a perfect score. The VE team performed like a well oiled machine - all went well without a hitch, for which I am very grateful!

Before the exams began, I had a chance to chat with Alan Wolke W2AEW from YouTube fame. He whipped out his phone and showed me a QRP rig kit that he was interested in perhaps purchasing. I had never heard of this offering before - WA3RNC and his transceivers appear to be really, really nice.

He offers what appears to be a very nice quality two band kit , the Penntek TR-25, and will soon be coming out with a 4 band transceiver.



These rigs are certainly nice looking and from the video, they appear to perform quite nicely. If you're craving the building experience, you can get more information here - http://www.wa3rnc.com/store/

To be honest with you, these WA3RNC rigs were new to me. I mist be a latecomer to the party. I'm betting you folks knew all about these. If you didn't, they seem to be well worth looking into.

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