Friday, December 01, 2023

Skywarn Recognition Day & more

Rare second post for the day:

Skywarn Recognition Day starts tonight night at 7:00 PM EST and runs all day Saturday until 7:00 PM EDT.  That would be December 2, 2023 from 0000UTC to 2400 UTC.

This annual event  was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that Skywarn volunteers make to the NWS mission, the protection of life and property. The day typically falls on the first Saturday in December (in UTC time, so in EST it goes from 7 PM Fri to 7 PM Sat)

We want to take this opportunity to send a big THANK YOU to our spotters and we want to show off our network of dedicated volunteers to everyone! So as a part of the celebration this year, if you're a spotter or HAM Radio Operator, check in and be recognized for #Skywarn2023 as a valuable part of the National Weather Service.

Link to map and check-in form:

For more information on Skywarn Recognition Day, visit

For information on the Skywarn program in our region, visit

Also going on this weekend:


ARRL 160-Meter Contest

Special Events

12/01/2023 | SEC QSO Party
Dec 1-Dec 2, 2100Z-2100Z, W5YD, Starkville, MS. Mississippi State University ARC. 14.250. Certificate. Department of Physics and Astronomy. Attn Torsten Clay, PO Box 5167, Mississippi State, MS 39762. First Inaugural Southeastern Conference QSO Party. Mississippi State University will be participating in this event.

12/01/2023 | SEC QSO Party
Dec 1-Dec 2, 2100Z-2100Z, W4DFU, Gainesville, FL. Gator Amateur Radio Club. 14.288 7.288. QSL. Dr. Jay Garlitz AA4FL, P.O. Box 100012, Gainesville, FL 32610.

12/02/2023 | "Christmas in Bethlehem" Clark Co ARC 2023 from Bethlehem Indiana
Dec 2, 1300Z-2300Z, W9WWI, Sellersburg, IN. Clark County Amateur radio club. 28.400 7.210 21.3450 18.160. QSL. Clark Co. ARC, po box 201, Sellersburg, IN 47172. Merry Christmas From The Clark County Amateur Radio club of Indiana

12/02/2023 | Bethlehem Christmas
Dec 2, 0700Z-1200Z, WR4BC, Bethlehem, GA. Barrow County Amateur Radio Club. 7.250 14.225. QSL. Barrow Amateur Radio Club, PO BOX 411, Bethlehem, GA 30620. We will do our best to be on the listed frequencies, but we may have to move around to find an open spot.

12/02/2023 | Flight 19 the missing avengers
Dec 2, 1300Z-2100Z, K4P, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Parrot Amateur Radio Club Inc. 14.240 7.210 18.150 21.315. QSL. Gerald Deitch, 2621 NW105 Lane, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33322. send SASE for qsl card

Everyone have a good weekend!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Hunting the 80 Meter Foxes - lesson learned

Last night, during the event, the K Index was zero and the Geomagnetic Field was "Very Quiet". The CMEs had not had their effect .......yet.  This morning is a different story with the K index up at 7 and the Geomagnetic Field is described as "Severe Storm". I can see why forecasters are saying band conditions may deteriorate throughout the day. As an aside, despite the claims being made on social media, I was not able to see any Aurora last night - I checked before hitting the sack at 10:30 PM, once during the night around 2:30 AM and then when I awoke at 5:00 AM. It may well be visible tonight, but par for the course, rain and clouds are forecast for later this afternoon through Sunday.

As I said, last night band condition were nice. I found Milt K4OSO pretty easily. He was the Upper Fox and had a very nice signal - truly 579.  It took a while to work him as he seemed to be inundated with K4 stations, but once they thinned out, I was able to snag him at 0240 UTC. He was originally listening about 2 kHz up, but had to move his listening frequency down a bit when the 3rd Section CW Traffic Net started up.

Steve WD4CFN was a bit more of an elusive quarry for me. He was the Lower Fox and it turned out that he was parked on a frequency which had a lot of local QRN on it. If an observer were standing next to me and was listening on the outboard speaker, they would have never heard Steve. Thank you Elecraft for the APF function on the KX3. That was the only way I was able to pick out Steve from the background noise.

Let me back up a few minutes. Before finding Steve, I had to first locate his pack of howling Hounds. That was not an easy chore at first, even using the KX3's sub receiver and Dual Receive function. When I had that turned on, the idea was that the Fox would have been in my left ear and the pack in my right. However, my right ear is really bad .......REALLY BAD! I'll talk about that in a little bit.  I had to flip the headphones, and once I did that, I was able to locate the baying Hounds with my left ear. It was like they came out of nowhere! Of course, they were there all along, my right ear just couldn't hear them, and that jolted me. I knew my right ear was bad, but that really brought home "how bad"!

That frequency plugged into VFO B, I flipped the headphones back and began the search for Steve, beginning around 1 kHz down. Nothing at first, but once I turned the APF on, he was a pretty easy find. It was just a matter of time and I finally worked Steve at 0305 UTC. Steve was 559 at best, so that's the report I gave him. 

I really need hearing aids. My left ear is still not terrible, but the right one is. In situations like these Fox Hunts, I am either going to have to keep flipping headphones or go the old fashioned route and not using the Dual Receive feature on the KX3 until I remediate the right ear situation. I'm hoping to do that after Christmas. I want to make an appointment with the hearing lab at Costco. Marv K2VHW got his hearing aids there and he recommends them without hesitation and absolutely raves about them - and the prices are way better than the Miracle Ear office that I went to for my hearing evaluation. I could buy the high end Elecraft K4D for what they were asking for a pair of hearing aids - and those were their "less expensive" ones!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Aurora Alert!

Today and tomorrow, December 1st, we will be feeling the effects of three CME's all headed our way. NOAA ,as well as a private meteorologist that I follow and trust (he is amazingly spot on when forecasting winter storms and how they will affect New Jersey) are both predicting that even New Jersey might be able to see the Aurora resulting from these ejections.

To which I say:

That seems to be always the way it is around here. I've never seen the Northern lights except in videos. Heck, I've only seen the Milky Way from up in Lake George. I'd sure like to see the Aurora, but ........

And tonight is the 80 Meter Fox Hunt. Should be interesting. As of this moment, in the early morning, the K Index is still 1 and the Geomagnetic Field is still very quiet. I expect that will change drastically, sooner than later.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Tuesday night 40 Meter Fox Hunt ...... grrrr


The evening started off in the best possible manner. I stumbled upon Drew K9CW's loud signal from Indiana right off the bat. Realizing that this loud signal was indeed one of the Foxes, I quickly called him and worked him at 0202 UTC. Two minutes in, I think that's the earliest I've ever worked a Fox in all the years I've been doing this.  Drew had a fantastic signal - an actual 579 and if you look at all the blue and green dots on the map above, you'll see he handed out a lot of pelts.

John AJ1DM in Rhode Island was a whole different story. If you look at the red and green dots on the map, you'll see he handed out a lot of pelts as well. But if you look at the map carefully, you'll see there are no red dots from Ottawa to Washington DC, save for a solitary green dot in New York, a Hound who was able to work both John and Drew. It's hard to see in the photo above as he's right behind that blue dot in northwest New York State. John's RF was literally flying right over our heads destined for other distant Hounds, away from the Northeastern states.

I could tell where John was by listening for the pack chasing him, and then going down 1 kHz. After the hunt was over, I plugged him into RBN to see if I was correct in guessing where he was. It turned out that I wasn't chasing phantoms - my detective work proved fruitful, and I had the right frequency all along. Sometimes when signals are so weak you can fool yourself into hearing something that's not really there. Happily, that wasn't the case this time.

I was able to hear him only by using the KX3's APF function, and only then at ESP levels. I knew he was there, but that was about it, save for one single time when his signal rose out of the background well enough to throw out my call. He promptly returned to the dust of the noise floor, and at about 0300 UTC or so, he completely vanished and I was no longer able to hear his ESP level signal. Determined, I hung around to the bitter end, hoping that John might somehow re-appear (loudly) - but no joy.

So I guess one out of two isn't bad. The HF9V was the weapon of choice last night and served me well in being able to retire for the night with at least one Fox pelt.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Christmas is a comin' and the goose is getting fat......

So what Ham Radio goodie are you asking from Santa this year?

It's been a long time since I've asked Santa (Marianne) for anything Amateur Radio related, but this year I have asked for one of these:

The Elecraft AX-1 and the 40 Meter coil extender (and the little base thingy that supports it on a table)

I've been thinking about acquiring one of these for years - actually since 2019 before the pandemic. SPARC was holding a "Get On The Air" event at a local park in town connected to JOTA, and we were  hoping that some local Scouts would show up and take advantage of the opportunity to get on the radio. That hope didn't pan out, but that's not what this post is ultimately about.

Dave KD2FSI had his set up going (his Yaesu rig and the 20 Meters vertical he attaches to the frame of his back pack) and I had the KX3 on a picnic table with the PAR END-FEDZ going off to a nearby tree.  Dave had worked Italy on 20 Meter SSB with his station. Soon afterward, I also worked Italy, but with 5 Watts - and I hate to admit it, but I was feeling kind of smug. You know, the old QRP vs QRO thing.

Soon afterward, Bob WB2UDC came with his KX3 and the AX1 antenna. I'll be brutally honest here. I looked at it and thought to myself "No way is that thing is going to make any contacts." Much to my dismay, Bob served me with a huge plate of crow to eat when he worked that same Italian station I had worked an hour earlier! And to boot, he had gotten a 599 report! OK, maybe that was just the standard DX "599" report, but I was still impressed that the antenna was capable of a trans-Atlantic QSO.

He was making contacts - not a ton, but that little antenna was sure getting out! It occurred to me that would be just the thing to take along to Lake George for our annual summer sojourn. There's plenty of picnic tables, and I really don't like hanging anything from the trees (even though I have permission, I try not to abuse that trust), and it seems like an easier set up than the mag loop.

So I put in a request to Santa - I've been good this year and I have my fingers crossed that I'll find one of these under the Tree come Christmas morning.

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

Monday, November 27, 2023

It's funny

For the last week, the CW portions of the bands have been occupied virtually, wall to wall, in preparation for CQ WW DX and for the duration of the contest itself. After the St. Max Net ended on 75 Meters at 0030 UTC last night, I went up to the higher bands for a quick listen.

Pffffffffft! Zilch, zero (well not totally zero, but compared to the contest period), nothing.

I understand that after putting in multi-hour efforts most contesters pull the plug for some much needed rest. But what of the rest of the week? People will say the bands are dead and blame propagation. I have a feeling it's not a lack of propagation, but more a lack of participation.

If the bands can be wall to wall for a contest, they can be much better than dead for the rest of the time. I, myself, used the contest just to cherry pick a few DXCC entities that I have worked before, but were never confirmed on LOTW. I'm hoping that maybe this time will be a charm.

And of course, there are the QRP Fox Hunts, POTA stations to be worked and rag chews to be had. The bands aren't dead because of bad band conditions, we just need some bodies on them making noise!

Oh, and by the way, now that the big contest is over, the K Index is back down to 1, and the Geomagnetic Field is "Very Quiet" ..........of course!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Got 'em this time!


This time,  it's definite.  I am in the 4W8X log.

I set HamAlert for them and it was chirping all day. The problem was that all the spots were coming from Europe.

That's when I decided to go to the Reverse Beacon Network and set it up to show the spots for 4W8X. When the map showed the station was being heard in the US, that's when I started listening. The cool thing about RBN is that the lines from originating station to spotter are now color coded, so you can easily see on which band your quarry is being heard.

All the lines to the US indicated 30 Meters and that's where I heard them.  Still had to use the KX3's APF feature to make them easily audible,  but whatever it takes,  right?

Today's a big day for CQ WW DX and the K Index is up at 4, and the Geomagnetic Field is active. Not the best solar conditions that one would hope for.

In any case,  the terrestrial weather here today is decent. Cold, but sunny so the outside Christmas decorations will probably go up today. That will take up a good chunk of the afternoon.

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

Friday, November 24, 2023

Busted DX

 CQ WW DX will be dominating the weekend. There are no other contests or even Special Event Stations scheduled for the weekend.

Personally, I'll be chasing 4W8X in Timore-Leste again. I worked him on 15 Meters a while back, but I checked in ClubLog and I'm not in their log. However, W2LO is in their log on 15 Meters twice - while all his other band spots occur only once per band. That leads me to think they didn't hear that first dit in "J" and logged me as W2LO. C'est la Vie - but if I can work them again this weekend, that will make C'est la Vie a bit easier to take.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 23, 2023


And now, bless the God of all,
    who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
    and fashions them according to His will!
May He grant you joy of heart
    and may peace abide among you;
May His goodness toward us endure in Israel
    to deliver us in our days.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Day 2023

"Hurry with that Turkey, Jeeves. I'm awfully Hungary - and then bring Samoa!"

Technically, it's the day before Thanksgiving Day 2023, here in the USA. Tomorrow is going to be filled with cooking chores and last minute straightening up of the house, so I thought I'd post today. My wishes are for all of you to have a safe, happy and joyous holiday, with good food, family and friends. Marianne's brother and his wife are coming for dinner. My sister and her husband are having Thanksgiving at one of his brother's houses this year, so I'll miss being with my "big sis". Ahhhhhh ......maybe Christmas.

Thanksgiving is such an underrated holiday. Halloween and Christmas sandwich Thanksgiving and get much more attention and hype. But yet, in and of itself, the holiday is so important just on it's own. It is soooo much more than just the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It's so much more than the day before Black Friday.

I've so much to be thankful for. I do more than my share of kvetching and complaining about work, traffic, my commute and the other little annoyances of life, but they're just that - annoyances. I've made it to another Thanksgiving. I have a wonderful wife and two fantastic kids. Heck, I can't even call them kids anymore. They are young adults who are establishing themselves and striking out to embark upon their own careers. I imagine that sooner, rather than later, they'll both meet that special someone with whom they'll start their own families.

Marianne and I are reasonably healthy (besides the requisite growing older aches and pains), and for that I am most grateful. The kids are healthy, too and for that I am even more grateful. I'd rather have something happen to me than them. We have a warm house, food on the table and we have each other. We take that so much for granted and we proudly attribute the "things" we have to our own abilities, hard work and labor. But in the end, it's ALL a gift from God - without Him and His benevolence, we'd have nothing. Everything that we have belongs to Him, when all is said and done, and we are thankful for His most gracious "loan".

So I'll leave you with a little video of a Thanksgiving song, written and composed by Ben Rector. Thanksgiving deserves more songs like this. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - and oh, one last thing that I am so grateful for and do not wish to fail to mention- all of YOU, from all around the world who read this little blog and enjoy the best hobby in the world along with me - Amateur Radio. You folks are the best! And the hobby is too!

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

It's a BIGGIE!

Just a brief post today. Don't forget that this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) is the CQ WWDX CW Contest! This one, along with the ARRL DX Contest are perhaps the Kings of Amateur Radiosport.

A good thing to remember is that a lot of DX stations are on the air now, setting up and getting ready, making tweaks to maximize their stations for the event. Now, and as we get closer to the start of the event, is a good time for logging some of them in a non-competitive manner.

For the newbie QRPers out there who may be reading this - with the sunspot cycle the way it is now - this is a GREAT time to start working on, making headway into, or finishing up your QRP DXCC. My advice has always been the last half to last quarter of the contest is prime QRP hunting time.  By then, the big guns have worked all the loud stations that they have heard, but are still in the process of fattening up their QSO totals. That is when they will take time to listen just a bit harder for less that 599++ signals.

Personal experience has taught me this to be true. I remember specifically one year when I decided (for grins and giggles) to jump into the contest on a Saturday evening with my K2 (it WAS years ago!) set at 500 milliWatts, just to see if anyone would actually hear me. I surprised myself by working between 20 -30 different DXCC entities that evening in the span of several hours. If you're really dedicated and are willing to sit in the chair for an extended period or periods of time - there's always the possibility of acquiring QRP DXCC in a single weekend.

Good luck and good hunting!

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

Monday, November 20, 2023

You can teach an old dog new (old) tricks


I had a Homer Simpson "D'Oh" moment last night, and I'm embarrassed to admit it. It's almost a Rookie mistake. One of those "Why didn't I think of that before?" moments. Also, one of those "I should have known better" moments.

I checked into the St. Max last night on 75 Meters. There was a lot of QRM from the Sweepstakes, but there was also a lot of QRN. Someone in the neighborhood must have been using something that doubled as an RFI generator. The noise level was noticeably up for the first time since I put the ferrites on my coax. The Net Control Station, Lloyd K3QNT, offhandedly just happened to mention he was being by bothered by some local QRN, so he installed a low pass filter in line and it greatly improved his situation.

Low pass filter? I have one of those!! Back in the Dark Ages before cable, it was almost mandatory if you wanted to avoid an angry knock on the door from a neighbor whose TV looked like a test pattern when you would transmit. When I moved to South Plainfield, and I went QRP, and I saw that all my neighbors were hooked up to cable,  I put my low pass filter into storage. "Who was I going to bother?" was my rational.

But here's the reality which I totally overlooked. A low pass filter works both ways. It's a two way street! Just as it will prevent potential harmonics above 30 MHz from leaving your station ... it will also help in reducing higher frequency RFI from interfering WITH your station!

I found a coax jumper (way too long) in my junk box and inserted the filter in line. Voila! It didn't knock out all the hash, but it reduced it quite a bit. Every little bit helps. Over the long holiday weekend, I will shorten up the jumper.

Over this past weekend, no new DX. but I did work a bunch of POTA stations. I was hunting the H44WA  Solomon Islands all weekend long, but they were never loud enough for me to be able to hear them answer me if by some odd twist of fate, they should hear me.

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

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Thanksgiving Special Event

I mentioned yesterday about a Thanksgiving Special Event Station that I used to enjoy working. I thumbed through my collection of certificates last night and found this one:

The Whitman Amateur Radio Club in Massachusetts used to put WA1NPO on the air from the Plimoth Plantation. This certificate is 39 years old!

I Googled the Whitman ARC and they are still doing this! Here's the details from their website:

Plimoth Patuxet Museums annual event returns Thanksgiving 2023 weekend.

Thank You to all Check-ins and those participated last year !!

Hours: Setup Friday Nov 24'th 10AM to 12PM

On the Air time Sat Nov 25'th 9AM to about 3PM

On the Air time Sun Nov 26'th 8:30AM to about 3PM

Take down about 3PM

We will be using special event callsign NI1X monitoring the WA1NPO repeater on 147.225 Mhz Tone 67.0. 

Our HF station will cover 80 through 10 Meters.

It's nice to see they're still doing this so many years later! They also mentioned that they will be posting their HF activities to the DX Cluster. I think I'm going to keep an eye out for them and will try to work them again for old time's sake.

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, November 17, 2023

The Weekend

Before getting into weekend happenings - the NorCal 40 is back - this time offered by NM0S Electronics, with the express permission of Wayne Burdick N6KR. Details at:


 SARL Field Day Contest -

LZ DX Contest -

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB -

Special Event Stations

11/18/2023 | 1st Transatlantic Ham Radio QSO (1923)

Nov 18, 1400Z-2200Z, K3S, Baltimore, MD. Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC. 7 14 21 28. QSL. ULIS FLEMING, 980 PATUXENT ROAD, Odenton, MD 21113. Operating from the ship. Please check the spotting networks since we may be operating anywhere on 40, 20, 15, or 10m SSB or CW.

11/18/2023 | Collins ARC 40th Anniversary

Nov 18, 1400Z-2000Z, W0CXX, Cedar Rapids, IA. Collins Amateur Radio Club. 7.180 MHz 14.263 MHz 21.380 MHz 28.380 MHz. QSL. Collins ARC 40th Anniversary SES, 1110 Lyndhurst Dr, Hiawatha, IA 52233.

11/18/2023 | Liga Colombiana de Radioaficionados 90th Anniversary

Nov 18-Nov 19, 1700Z-2359Z, 5J3L*, Bogota, COLOMBIA. Liga de Radioaficionados de Bogota. 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters; CW, FT8, and SSB. Certificate. See website, for , information, COLOMBIA. *And an additional 10 call signs: 5K0LR, 5K1LR, 5K2LR, 5K3LR, 5K4LR, 5K5LR, 5K6LR, 5K7LR, 5K8LR, and 5K9LR. This is an operating event.

11/18/2023 | November 2023 Bug Roundup

Nov 18-Nov 20, 0000Z-0000Z, W6SFM, Fair Oaks, CA. Samuel F. Morse Amateur Radio Club. 14.033 7.033 3.533. QSL. John E. Geyer, Samuel F. Morse Amateur Radio Club, 4901 Minnesota Ave, Fair Oaks, CA 95628. Grab that bug, clean those contacts, and let'er fly! Let's hear that "Banana Boat/Erie Swing" or that commercial KPH/WCC quality fist. Switch off that keyer! Fill the ionosphere with home grown digital music and have some fun! No exchange for the event, just a relaxed QSO talking about whatever you want.

Hmmmmmmmmm - I remember every year (when I wore a younger man's clothes) there was a club that held a special event from Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts to celebrate Thanksgiving. It doesn't appear on the ARRL Special Event schedule. I used to enjoy trying to work them every year.

And my Fox Hunt streak did come to an end last night, with my getting only one Fox pelt - that of Jim N0UR in Minnesota. Jim heard me relatively early at 0213 UTC, and the exchange went like a breeze. Jim's signal was not overpowering, (and I'm sure mine wasn't either), it was a true 559, and that was enough to get a "mission accomplished".

Wayne N4FP was another matter. He was barely audible at my QTH. I had to turn on the KX3's APF (Automatic Peak Frequency) feature to even hear him. Switching between the W3EDP and the Butternut did not help in any shape, way or form. I threw my callsign out several times when I felt he was decently audible, and that I might hear a reply. I did get  admonished with an "UP" after I called him on his frequency once thinking that he had switched operating from split to simplex. No - that was a goof on my part and I apologize if I QRM'ed anyone.  I have no idea why Wayne was so weak at my end, when all the other NJ Hounds managed to work him. I truly believe that sometimes South Plainfield is an RF black hole.

I listened intently and tried until about 0320 UTC and hung it up with only the solitary Fox pelt with 10 minutes to go. It was a long day at work, and after, I went for a hearing evaluation. It was determined that I have minor hearing loss in my left ear and significant hearing loss in my right ear. I will need hearing aids, but I need to save up some $$$ and check out my options.  I can't afford to spend 5K on hearing aids right now.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

When will it end?

 QRP Image of the Day

A couple of iterations of the Four State QRP Group Bayou Jumper - photo by Gary Chambers, Jr.

So the question for the day is, will my newly found QRP Fox Hunt streak come to an end tonight? Will my luck finally run out?

Tonight's Foxes for the 80 Meter Hunt are Jim N0UR in Minnesota and Wayne N4FP in Florida. Just wondering if either or both of those two states are too long of a haul for a QSO from New Jersey on 80 Meters. Jim has always had a decent signal to New Jersey, but I have my reservations. I don't have my AC Log on this computer. I'd like to open it up and look up the previous contacts I've had with both of these Foxes to see if any have ever been on 80 Meters. Tonight will tell, I'll just have to be patient (not one of my strong suits). And if I do work either Fox tonight, which will be the hero - the W3EDP or the Butternut?

No radio last night except for a brief check-in to K2VHW's Middlesex County Chat Group Net on 70cm on the way home from the Middlesex County Fire Academy last night. We had our monthly CERT training and last night was a review of basic firefighting using fire extinguishers for small trashcan type fires. Each one of us got the chance to extinguish a small controlled burn set by the Chief of Firefighting Education at the Academy.

The keyword in those situations is PASS

P - Pull the pin

A - Approach (staying as low as possible) the fire and aim the nozzle at the base of the fire

S - Squeeze the handle of the extinguisher.

S - Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Two other important points:

NEVER turn your back on a fire - while approaching or leaving, even if you think you've extinguished the fire. Always back away. Secondly, always have a "buddy" go with you if at all possible. This second person is there to guide you as you back away as well as to help you should something unexpected happen.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Radio active night

I don't know what the heck was going on last night, but boy-howdy, was there a lot of traffic on the way home from work last night! My normal commute home from the western side of the state to South Plainfield is just under an hour. Last night's commute was 90 minutes with a sea of red tail lights in front of me as far as the eye could see. I didn't pass any accidents or emergency construction, so I have no idea as to the "why". My son Joseph reported the same thing on his commute from the northern part of the state to home. Lots and lots of cars, and lots and lots of sitting and staring at red tail lights. We both could have used Moses to part this kind of "red sea" but I guess he was busy helping others.

A night at the radio proved to be a remedy for that debacle. After dinner, I headed down to the shack to check into the NNJ Southern District ARES Net. The Southern District includes Middlesex, Somerset, Monmouth and Union counties. When that was over, the entire NNJ Section ARES Net was held on a different repeater.  But there was some time to kill between ARES nets before that started, so I turned my attention to the KX3. I managed to work a POTA activation, and them I saw that W1AW/KL7 was spotted on 15 Meters. I dialed on over and discovered to my delight that they were pretty loud on the HF9V - 579 peaking to 599. I haven't worked Alaska in a long time, so I decided to give it a whirl. I had to wait for the pileup to dwindle a little, but my 5 Watts made it through! Ya gotta love it when the sunspot cycle is good to you!

At 9:00 PM EST (0200 UTC) the 40 Meters QRP Fox Hunt was starting up. Starting at 7.030 MHz and still on the HF9V, I very slowly twiddled the dial searching for the Lower Fox. At first I wasn't hearing the Fox himself, but I did hear some familiar call signs which indicated to me that I had stumbled upon the pack of chasing Hounds. I backed down about 1 KHz and sure enough, there was Earl N8SS firing off CW from his fingertips at a prodigious rate. The problem was QSB - I would hear Earl only very faintly and then he would disappear, only to come back after a bit. I listened for a while and hoped that propagation would improve after a while, so I went to go find the Upper Fox.

That duty fell to Steve WX2S for the evening. Steve lives all of about 25 miles, +/- a few, from me down in Kingston, NJ which is right next to Princeton. Would there be enough 40 Meters groundwave to allow us to QSO? I found Steve easily enough, but I knew my signal to him was going to be weak, even by QRP standards. I listened for a while and even threw out my call sign a few times with no joy, so I decided to descend back down the band to see if Earl's signal had gotten any louder.

In fact, it did ......... but there was a loud station almost on top of him which was making it extremely hard to hear Earl. I had to tighten up the KX3's filters almost to the maximum of tightness in order to block out the offending RF, but they did their job and I was finally able to hear Earl well enough to be able to hear any reply back to me. Earl, who was 559, finally answered my call to him at 0241 UTC and we completed the exchange.

Now it was back to the Upper Woods to see if ground wave to Steve was going to be enough. Steve didn't get any louder, but he was in the clear and was Q5 copy, so I started throwing out my call. His pileup was slackening off as he was calling "CQ Fox" multiple times in a row. I kept on throwing out my call with my right hand on the paddles and the fingers of my left hand crossed. That must have counted for something as at 0248 UTC, RF made it from South Plainfield to Kingston and visa-versa and we completed the exchange.  Six for six so far this season! That's not going to last and I probably just jinxed the heck out of it.

Hats off and kudos to both Steve WX2S, Earl N8SS and whoever was behind the key last night at W1AW/KL7 last night. All three ops have tremendous ears and it made for quite the delightful QRP night. I love it when 5 Watts does the job!

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