Friday, September 19, 2014

What the hey!

You've undoubtedly heard of Summits on the Air (SOTA), Islands on the Air (IOTA), Lighthouses on the Air and maybe you've even heard of Parks on the Air (POTA). Ed Breneiser WA3WSJ announced a new program on QRP-L this morning - Fire Towers.

You may be having the same initial reaction that I did ...... Huh ?!?

But you know what? If it promotes QRP operating in the Great outdoors, then it's a good thing and deserves support.  So without further ado .... here's Ed's announcement from QRP-L.

"Hello all,

I'm pleased to announce that the Boschveldt QRP Club will sponsor an Amateur Radio Fire Tower Program. The program is global in scope. The fire tower program will have awards for activators and chasers similar to SOTA, but much less restrictive in the rules etc. So get out there and activate a few fire towers this fall and winter as all fire tower contacts in 2014 will count. Please take a look at the website as I have posted an Excel file that lists all PA Fire Towers in the program. More states and countries will be added later. If you make one contact at a fire tower, it will count as an activation - no repeaters. An awards program is in the works for this program such as Fire Tower WAS , Fire Tower WAC, Worked ALL PA Fire Towers etc. Activators will get special awards in the various categories.

The objective of this program is to get more QRP operators out into the wilderness and see all of Mother Nature's beauty! There's no requirement to hike to the tower, just get there anyway you can and operate. For all the chasers, grab a few fire tower QSOs and an award or two.


OK .... so it IS a little bit different, but it does sound like fun!

I immediately got to wondering if there are any fire towers in New Jersey. I figured there must be, as we have a lot of forested areas. I was surprised to find out that there are twenty one !

I did a simple Google search on "New Jersey fire towers" and was led here:

I'll bet dollars to donuts that you could do the same thing to find out where these structures exist around you.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Allrighty, then!

No big mystery as to why I was able to work Pertti OH2PM in Finland during lunch today, is there?

I think with this set up, Pertti would have been able to hear me had I been rubbing two sticks together.
Thanks for the QSO, Pertti !

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


This was posted to QRP-L by good friend and QRP Hall-of-Famer, Jim W4QO.  It was in response to another post by another good friend Pat KZ5J.  Pat is an avid DX'er, QRP Fox Hunter and an all around fantabulous op, who mentioned that he has, for the most part, given up on working DX with QRP. This was Jim's response basically saying, "Hey Pat, don't give up so easily".  It's a gem and it's worth re-posting here (for those of you who don't subscribe to QRP-L).

"Good show on the DX Pat.  I would not give up on QRP DX.  Here are a few things to consider:

1. Most of the logging programs (which by the way rejuvenated by hamming) allows you to keep track of things like power, band, etc.  I think it's  cool to be able to punch a button and see what the bands look like.

2. QRP ARCI does certificates for members for FREE so I use them for most of my paper chasing.  They also do not require QSLs/LoTW.  It's all honor system which when you get down to it makes sense for QRP contacts since having a card doesn't prove you were QRP.  It's up to you to be honest. After all, non-QRPers all think we are lying anyway!  So what.  I know what I did with 5 watts CW and 10 watts SSB, the international definition of QRP.  Your definition may vary; results too!

3. Wire antennas work fine for DXing.  I went for about a dozen years with  a horizontal loop at 35, then 50, then 75' and have DXCC on several bands with that before I put up a YAGI which does work better but not a whole lot better.  I enjoy using it for contesting.  Worked 102 unique countries last fall in the CQ WW DX contest.    My next challenge is to do DXCC with a #32 wire.  I'm eyeing the tree right now to put up a 125' enamel long wire.

4. Like Ron, we all have success stories about "busting pileups", "first  call", etc.  Really makes you smile!  It's a big thrill when you use QRP, a rig you built yourself, and attic antenna.  My friend W4JDS has 75 countries with his attic dipoles QRP.  Now he's moved into a house with trees!

5. I use every piece of technology I can find (other than remote receivers - I do use those - WEBSDR - to hear myself but not to work DX) such as  spotting networks, as VE7CC and DX Summit, Reverse Beacon Networks.  RBN now looks for the word TEST when you test.  So send TEST a couple times DE callsign a couple times and see where you are going with your signal.

I did snagged #258 QRP last Friday when the bands were wide open when I worked Western Sahara.  Had them with 600 watts 30 years ago but this was sweeter.  Propagation does 95% of the work.

Again, to each his own but I do like that QRP DX stuff and about any other QRP stuff such as SOTA and contests such as the Peanut Power Sprint -, building kits.  Frankly as Terry WA0ITP says, "I just love this QRP stuff!!!"


These are all good things for the budding (and maybe not so budding) QRP DXer to keep in reserve in the ol' brain box.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pirate - or for real?

I worked SP4KVA on 20 Meters at lunchtime. As you can see, he/she was being heard all over the place. Great signal, but ........ SP4KVA doesn't show up on QRZ, QRZCQ, or on Google except for showing up on various telnet reports.

So was this a REALLY recent license issue, a REALLY recent special event call sign - OR was a I slimmed by a pirate? (Not accusing anyone of anything ...... just asking.)
Avast ye swabs! Raise the tri-bander and point 'er to the sou'west ....... Arrrrgh!  Cut the lines and raise the jibs and the dipoles, ye scurvy dogs!

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's the little things that make life worthwhile

In the day to day, sometimes it's easy to forget the little things that make life worthwhile.

1) Like that yesterday was my daughter Cara's 13th birthday - she's officially a teenager now!

Did I mention she DETESTS having her picture taken and that she was ready to kill me when I snapped this one at Lake George this Summer?

2) Like that today they served chicken corn chowder in the cafeteria at work today - one of my all time favorite soups.

3) That while I was eating my chicken corn chowder in my Jeep, I managed to work DL4ISX in Germany (with some difficulty due to QSB) and HF37SONDA in Poland (who was super loud).

4) That I came home to a packet of QSL cards from the Bureau, including:

Yeah, it's the little things in life that are the absolute best!

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

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Crummy day

for yardwork, but it was a good day for radio! Cool, rainy and damp weather kept me inside for most of the day, grocery shopping notwithstanding.

This is the first Saturday in a while that I actually got some time to sit down at the radio and get some operating in.  The 17, 15 and 12 Meter bands seemed to be in decent shape and I worked a bunch of European stations today. And W1AW/5 in Texas was so strong that he sounded like he was just down the street. I think I could have worked him with 100 milliWatts, if I had tried.

And this was all icing on the cake as the day started out well with a successful VE session first thing this morning. Only two out of three pre-registered candidates showed up, but both of those passed their exams and earned their Technician licenses (one of the two getting a perfect score!).

This evening I twiddled the dial on 40 Meters and just spent some time listening to various fists. Remember that post I wrote a few weeks ago about atrocious bug fists?  Tonight I heard a guy who was using a Vibroplex Blue Racer that he claimed was manufactured in 1919 (I think that's what he said). I was astounded as I though he was using a keyer and paddles. His fist was THAT good! He was probably clipping in at around 25 WPM or so, but he was a breeze to copy.  I really did think he was using a keyer. His fist was a joy to listen to - the code literally flowed and it was like listening to a symphony.

The Ham he was in conversation with was using Bencher paddles and the built in keyer that was in his rig, and he did not sound as good as the guy on the bug!

I wish I sounded that good!

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Marv K2VHW and I, under the auspices of the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club, will be teaching a course for those in the greater Central New Jersey area who want to earn a Technician class license.

Here's the flier that Marv designed to advertise the class:

I'm excited, because so far we have eight potential students who have pre-registered. We have room for more, so if you're interested or know someone in the Central NJ area who might be interested, contact either Marv or myself.  We would also ask that anyone who has pre-registered or wants to register, to please try to attend the next SPARC meeting on Wednesday, September 17th at 7:00 PM at the South Plainfield OEM building.  At that time, we will be taking count and placing a group order for license manuals for the class.  Marv and I are both ARRL Registered Instructors, and a such we can apply for a group rate for the manuals.

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Monday, September 08, 2014

QRP Afield Spetember 2014

Did you know this year is QRP Afield'd 20th Anniversary?  This was posted yesterday on QRP-L:

QRP Afield 2014 – Saturday, September 20, 2014 – 1600Z - 2200Z

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of QRP Afield, this year’s event will follow the rules, times, and scoring of the original event from 1994. Note that this is now a six hour event, encouraging everyone to get out during daylight hours. Note also that the scoring particularly encourages QRPp operation, with added points for operating a field location at powers below one watt. Information regarding the event is given below. It has been taken from the June 1994 issue of NEQRP’s 72 monthly magazine, modified only slightly to accommodate reporting via email. It will also soon be posted to the NEQRP web page.

The weather today is absolutely gorgeous in the northeast, with temperatures in the low to mid-70s, mild breezes, and a deep blue sky. This should actually improve over the next couple weeks (we hope), with the advent of early fall. Should be a great time to get out with your QRP rigs, portable antennas, etc., and to take a short (or long) hike to your favorite mountain, state park, lake, wherever and to join in the fun.

See you on the 20th!

72 DE K1CL Chuck...



QRP Afield-2014 is sponsored by the NEW ENGLAND QRP Club and is designed to encourage QRP enthusiasts to field-test their radio equipment, using temporary and non-commercial Antennas and non-commercial sources.

Date/Time Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 1600Z to 2200Z

     QRP-NE Members: RST, state/province,
     NE-QRP # Non-Members: RST, state/province, power OUTPUT


Permanent Location: Any location using commercial power AND/OR permanently installed antennas

Field Location: Any location using battery/solar/natural power AND temporary antennas Low power QRP: Less than one watt output. High power QRP: 1 to 5 watts output.

Scoring (CW only)

1 point for each contact from a permanent location using high power QRP. 2 points for each contact from a permanent location using low power QRP. 4 points for each contact from a temporary location using high power QRP. 8 points for each contact form a temporary location using low power QRP.

Note: All contest contacts MUST be made using the same location and power output.

Multipliers Each state/province/country worked counts for one point. Multipliers may be counted only once, regardless of band worked.

Awards and Results Certificates will be awarded to the ten stations with the highest point totals. Complete results will be posted to the NEQRP web page. Scores and results may be sent by email or mail to the following:

Chuck Ludinsky – K1CL 6 Prancing Rd. Chelmsford, MA 01824

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

Saturday, September 06, 2014


Of course!  The ONE Saturday where I actually have time to get on the air ..... the weather refuses to cooperate!  We've had some bad thunderstorms blow through this afternoon and we have a severe thunderstorm watch until 9:00 PM local time.

As you can see by the radar map, the band of cells we went through is now to our east (my QTH denoted by the little red marker). But those cells off to the west should be here in an hour or 90 minutes. The antennas will remain unplugged for the evening, it looks like.

Maybe tomorrow. This is supposed to clear out tonight and not much is planned for Sunday. Maybe I'll be able to spend some quality time behind the key tomorrow.

Oh well, a good opportunity to print out Skeeter certificates.

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

Friday, September 05, 2014

Here's a little something I came up with

This was designed to be printed on 4X6 Glossy stock and then laminated. You can jam in your portable ops bag, in case you're always forgetting the US QRP frequencies like I do.

Feel free to save the JPG as an image on your own computer and print it out, if you like. I also have it as a doc file if you'd like to edit to suit your needs. An e-mail request will get it sent to you.

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

I was asleep at the wheel

How did I miss this?  I've had my September QST for over a week now (we Lifemembers seem to be the last to receive our QSTs!), and I must confess .... today was the first time I've given it a leaf through.  I was surprised and gladdened to read a really nice op-ed piece by good friend Jim W1PID on page 101.

Jim shared his thoughts on the changing face of Amateur Radio in celebration of the ARRL's 100th anniversary, but yet focused on the things that remain the same through the changes. The joy, the excitement, the satisfaction, the fun.

Good article, Jim and I'm glad the Newington Bunch had the good sense to publish it!

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

Thursday, September 04, 2014

I'll admit, I fell for it!

Back in 2000, I applied for and received W2LJ as a vanity call.  I had upgraded to Amateur Extra back in 1994, and I had been wanting a shorter call sign. I picked W2LJ as L & J are my first two initials. The fee was all of $10 back then, if I remember correctly.  It seemed like a bargain - a buck a year.

This from the ARRL today:

ARRL Bulletin 16  ARLB016
>From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  September 4, 2014
To all radio amateurs

ARLB016 New Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Fee Set at $21.40

The FCC has adjusted very slightly downward - to $21.40 - its proposed Amateur Service vanity call sign regulatory fee for Fiscal Year 2014. In a June Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), the Commission said it was planning to hike the current $16.10 vanity fee to $21.60 for the 10-year license term. The FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (R&O) in the proceeding on August 29, in which it recalculated the fee to $21.40 for the 10-year license term. The $5.30 increase still represents the largest vanity fee hike in many years.

The new $21.40 fee does not go into effect until 30 days after the R&O is published in The Federal Register.

In the R&O, the FCC said it considered eliminating the regulatory fee for Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications but decided not to do so "at this time," because it lacks "adequate support to determine whether the cost of recovery and burden on small entities outweighs the collected revenue; or whether eliminating the fee would adversely affect the licensing process." The Commission said it would reevaluate this issue in the future to determine if it should eliminate other fee categories.

The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau sets the vanity call sign regulatory fee using projections of new applications and renewals, taking into consideration existing Commission licensee databases, such as the Universal Licensing System (ULS) database.

The FCC reported there were 11,500 "payment units" in FY 2014. The Commission said the vanity program generated an estimated $230,230 in FY 2013 revenue, and it estimated that it would collect nearly $246,100 in FY 2014.

The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable when applying for a new vanity call sign or when renewing a vanity call sign, although some older vanity call signs are not subject to the regulatory fee.

I wonder what the fee will be in 2020 when it's time for me to renew again!  I think it was around $14 in 2010 when I last renewed.  Oh well, if you want to dance, you have to pay the piper, I guess.

I love this part, though. "In the R&O, the FCC said it considered eliminating the regulatory fee for Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications, but decided not to do so "at this time," because it lacks "adequate support to determine whether the cost of recovery and burden on small entities outweighs the collected revenue; or whether eliminating the fee would adversely affect the licensing process."  Translation - "Naaah!  We decided to raise it by $5.30 instead."

Ya just gotta love the Federal Government!

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014


It was once again a busy Saturday.  I rewarded myself with a bit of radio time in between mowing the lawn and starting dinner.  I hadn't looked at the contest calendar beforehand and had no idea if the bands would be full of ravenous contesters, so I headed off to the relative quiet of the WARC bands.

Holy pileup, Batman!

There was a H U G E pileup just above 18.077 MHz.  Some listening revealed that it was indeed a "holy pileup" as the quarry of the hunt was HV0A - Vatican City. And he was loud - very loud! In 36 years of Ham Radio, this was about the second or third time that I have ever heard the Vatican on the air. I have never worked them before.

But today, with them being that loud (599+), I felt I stood a chance. In case you're wondering, wonder no more.  My QRP sensibilities took a backseat and I pumped up the KXPA100 to its full 100 Watt setting. How many times have I heard the Vatican?  Again, only once or twice before - it's rare for them to be on the air, for me to be home at the same time, and for propagation to be so favorable.  I wasn't about to let some false sense of QRP Pride get in the way of getting a rare and new country in the log.

The operator was smooth and was handling the pileup quickly and efficiently. Operating split, he was running a standard racetrack pattern. He was listening slightly higher up after each QSO until he reached a certain frequency and then began listening down unilt he reached a frequency about 1 kHz above where he was transmitting. The he began listening up again, starting the whole cycle over again. Almost exacty like trying to work any of the ARRL Centennial stations - once I figured out his pattern and approximately how much higher he moved after each QSO, I made my plan to "get in his way". After about 6 or 7 attempts, I got in the log. If I ever hear the Vatican this loud again, then next time will be a QRP attempt, this time I'm just fat, dumb and happy.

According to the CW Ops e-mail reflector, the operator was Robert S53R, CW Op #492.  Whomever, he was, he was good!

This is one QSL card that will be framed and hung on the shack wall, once I receive it.

Still stoked!

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