Monday, June 05, 2023

Where's Summer?

In the USA,  Memorial Day Weekend is considered to be the "unofficial" start of the Summer season. Boy, I'll say it was certainly "unofficial" this year!

I had intended to set up the KX3 on the patio table, along with the magloop in the backyard and spend the day hunting museum ships. It only got into the higher 60's (19 C) and the sun and clouds were competing all day with the clouds winning most of the time. Because there was also a bit of a chilly breeze, I decided to do my hunting from the main shack downstairs, instead of setting up outside.

I ended up working three POTA stations, one of which was Alan W2AEW who was operating from Cheesequake State Park K-1612, which is in Old Bridge, NJ all of about 20 or so miles away from me. I caught him on 15 Meter groundwave. He was about a 539 for me and I was a 529 for him, but we got the exchange made.

Scanning through the bands, and zeroing in on museum ship spots on the DX Cluster yielded nothing. I heard nary a museum ship in the entire time that I hunted. The good thing is that the Butternut is still proving to be a reliable antenna along with the W3EDP, some 20 years after I originally installed it. It has weathered many a harsh winter and a few not so nice hurricanes like a trooper.  This is a good thing because that I doubt I could replace it if anything ever happened to it. I looked up the current retail price and it's now close to double what I paid for it so many years ago.

Getting back to my Summer rant ........ when I woke up this morning it was 47 F (8 C) which is virtually unheard of for New Jersey on June 5th. For years and years, I've always known it to be that in this area of the US, that May 14th is considered to be the last chance for a hard overnight freeze as per Dept. of Agriculture planting guides. We had a few frost warnings after that date this year! We had to bring in some sensitive plants in the house for the overnight on a couple of evenings.

I know what's going to happen. Undoubtedly, we're going to go from early Spring-like weather to scorching Summer heat with a bang seemingly overnight over the next few weeks! While I much prefer the Summer, I do like to ease into it gradually. As I get older, these sudden changes take a harder toll on my system.

The other thing that I got accomplished yesterday was to order a new Field Day banner for the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club. For the past 9 years we've displayed our original club banner. I thought that having something a bit different and just for Field day was justified. It's nothing fancy, but it does two things. It very briefly explains what the purpose of Field Day is and it also tells folks that they are welcome to come visit, see what's going on and ask questions.

Field Day banner

Original banner

When I designed and purchased our original banner, we were such a new entity that we didn't even have our club logo yet.  We formed in April and as Field Day is in June, I was hurried to have something ready for Field Day deployment and didn't really consider something important. It was a rather spectacular blunder on my part to not include our club call sign on the original.  Even so, it still serves a purpose and is still in great shape despite being displayed in some less than ideal weather over the years.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, June 02, 2023

Museum Ships Weekend

This weekend, June 3rd and 4th, is the Annual Museum Ships Weekend and there will be plenty on the air! Of course, I am partial to this one:

The USS New Jersey, which has been re-outfitted several times, now rests permanently, docked at Camden, NJ, right next to our State Aquarium. The USS New Jersey is the most highly decorated battleship in Naval history.  A little known fact is that the New Jersey was originally designated to be the platform on which the formal ending of WW II was to take place, but because President Truman was from Missouri ...... well, you know how that turned out.

This is an international event and is not exclusive to North America alone. A list of participating ships can be found here.

Of course, I have another busy Saturday planned, including pulling CERT duty at a statewide track meet being held at our high school athletic field in South Plainfield. But ........ Sunday is looking good with nice weather to boot! I cleaned off the patio table last weekend, so I'm hoping that Sunday will be a good time to break out the KX3 and the magloop out in the backyard for some museum ship hunting.

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

Thursday, June 01, 2023


Chip Margelli K7JA was one of the "celebrity" Hams. He was quite well known in the Amateur Radio Universe and perhaps his most "famous moment" came during this appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno back in 2005.  Chip is the Ham you see in the opening:

Chip died from cancer on May 29th. To read more about him, you can go here.

BTW, this coming Sunday, June 4th is Cancer Survivor's Day. If you know someone who has survived cancer, this is a good time to help them celebrate their victory. For those in the heat of battle and for those who have lost the battle, this is a good day to remember them in prayer.

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

I be tempted

 I'm not sure whether to give a tip o' the  hat to Bob W3BBO for bringing this to my attention or .......

Meet the QMX from QRP Labs.

Its a 5 band multi mode QRP transceiver. Currently it only supports CW and the digital modes, but a future firmware update should include SSB. Here's a rundown on the features:

80, 60, 40, 30 and 20m

CW and FSK Digi modes

All features of QCX-mini (VFO A/B/Split, RIT, Message and frequency memories, beacon, keyer)

5W output at 9V supply (can be built for 4-5W at 12-13V supply)

SWR bridge built in

Single signal transmission (zero unwanted sideband, zero residual carrier, zero intermodulation distortion)

Solid-state band switching and transmit/receive switching under CAT control

High performance embedded SDR SSB receiver with 60-70dB of unwanted sideband cancellation

Built-in 24-bit 48ksps USB sound card

Built-in USB Virtual COM Serial port for CAT control

Si5351A Synthesized VFO with 25MHz TCXO as standard

Easy to build single-board design, Professional quality 6-layer, through-hole plated, silk-screen printed PCBs

All SMD components factory assembled

Connectors: 2.1mm power barrel connector, USB B (for audio and CAT control), BNC RF input/output

Built-in test signal generator and testing tools

Switched mode regulators

Receive current 80mA, Transmit current 1.0-1.1A for 5W output with 9V supply (around 0.7A for 5W with 12V supply).

Optional aluminum extruded cut/drilled/laser-etched black anodized enclosure

All at a price point of $95.00 (kit form), as you can also order one pre-assembled. If you purchase the kit, the enclosure is available for another $20.00. Pre-orders only at this time.

This little rig has me in a quandary - I'm a bit disappointed that 17 and 15 Meters are not available, but I'm tempted to purchase one nonetheless. I could see this little guy becoming my main portable ops radio, significantly minimizing the size and weight of my current "go bag".

I'll have to think seriously about this one.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, May 22, 2023


 Congratulations are in order to John Shannon K3WWP and Tom Witherspoon K4SWL for being inducted into the QRP Hall of Fame at this year's Four Days in May event at Hamvention.

It's nice to see some of "the guys in the trenches" being recognized for their contributions.  John for his streak, super informative blog and his daily "diary" and for all his efforts to show how QRP, CW and simple antennas really and truly can get the job done.

Tom for his excellent blog and all his inspiring videos to show the way "to do it". How to go about portable ops the right way and the way he shows how equipment works and how to use it.

QRP-ARCI Leadership - thanks so much for inducting these two into the HOF. I can't think of any two more deserving!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, May 12, 2023

An interesting video

 I stumbled across this yesterday


Several things stood out for me:

1) He had no real purpose for learning Morse Code in that he's not an Amateur Radio operator or intends to use it on a regular basis. He's learning Morse just for the experience. While I suppose that is a goal in and of itself, it seems to offer no sense of purpose or urgency, if you will.  When you're learning something just for the halibut, rather than because you need to use it, you can afford to be blasé' about it.

2) He practiced when he was tired. Not a good way to go about it, in my  humble opinion. Being relaxed is a good thing, but when you're dog tired, your mind wanders.

3) Even worse, he seems to have started off by writing down the dits and dahs and then decoding them as an afterthought. He seems to have abandoned that by the end of the video. The biggest error one can make in learning the code is to have any type of visual aid, unless of course, you're in the Navy and intend to be looking at blinking lights. I see charts and  other printed "quickie methods" for learning/remembering the characters. Those make me shudder. When you rely on visual aids, eventually you are going to have to "unlearn" them and rely on the sounds only. Might as well do that from the start.

4) If nothing, this young man is persistent. He doesn't give up even when he hits a wall and it gets hard. Kudos to him for that.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

HamTest Online going away

 An email from ARRL:

Sent: Thu, Mar 23, 2023 5:54 pm Subject: HamTest Online is Going out of Business

Thanks to Adam Karsin KG4WWH for sending this:

Chris AB3WG

This is John, W1AI, the creator, owner, software developer, and coursemaster of HamTestOnline. I launched the HamTestOnlin website in August 2002, and I’ve spent the last 20 years helping tens ofthousands of students pass the ham radio exams.  While it's been a tremendous amount of work, it’s also been the most fun and personally rewarding portion of my career.  

However, I’m turning 68 this year, and I’m ready to retire. Therefore (unless I find a serious buyer), we will be shutting down the website effective June 30, 2023. I truly appreciate all the support and encouragement we've received from our loyal customers through the years!

If you are one of our eternal procrastinators, this is your last chance. As this newsletter goes out, we are selling 3-month website subscriptions. However, as the website shutdown date approaches, we will be selling shorter and shorter subscription terms, so that no subscription extends past June 30.

Three months is plenty of time for most students to get to Extra.  In fact, our most successful students use concentrated study, cramming all of their studies into a few weeks.  We've had hundreds of students go from zero to Extra in a single exam session after studying for 6 weeks or less.  If you are willing to put in the effort, you still have time to get your Extra class license before this resource disappears forever!


ARRL Maryland-DC Section

Section Manager: Mr Christopher D Van Winkle, AB3WG

For those who may be interested.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Sláinte - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my brother and sister Amateur Radio ops from Ireland, and to those who are of Irish descent!

My dear departed mother-in-law was from Donegal - so this Pole holds the Irish in a special place in his heart. So in honor of the day - I will lift a pint of Guinness to you this evening and will offer an Irish blessing (of sorts) to all of you out there:

May good DX be with you wherever you go, and your QSOs outnumber the shamrocks that grow. 

May your contacts be many and your busted QSOs be few, May all God's blessings descend upon you, May peace be within you, 

May your antenna be strong, May your dial be full of signals wherever you roam.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

SSB QRP? No way! That's too hard!

 Well, actually, right now ....... no it isn't.

And like he said, band conditions are only going to get better over the next few years!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, March 02, 2023

From the "weird" Morse Code file

As shown in the article this clock would drive me nuts. The clock has an LED that flashes the time in Morse Code. If I'm not mistaken, the time shown in the video is 11:55?  I don't know if that's AM or PM.

The author says the clock has a speaker and that would definitely work better for me. I suppose I could get used to decoding Morse by sight, but after doing it for 40+ years by sound, my ears feed dits and dahs to my brain more quickly than my eyes.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


I played around in the ARRL DX CW contest this weekend. Not long, just for about an hour and a half to two hours. It was nice to get back behind the rig again after a long absence. I must apologize to the first few stations that I worked. My Morse sending was absolute crap!  But after about 4 or 5 contacts, I found my rhythm again and it was game on.

I haven't been on the air since my time undergoing radiation therapy. And let me tell you, the radiation therapy was a cakewalk compared to this hormone therapy I'm undergoing to keep my PSA level low. But I muddle through the best I can. One of the worst side effects is that it takes motivation away. You just feel like "meh" and not doing much, other than the things you absolutely have to.

But Sunday was rather warm for February here in NJ, which meant the basement was not quite the icebox it usually is during the winter. The temps down there were in the low 60s rather than the high 50s, so it was a bit more bearable.

My main weapon was the Butternut HF9V. All contacts were made at 5 Watts of course. In the time I felt motivated to operate, I made 31 contacts, all search and pounce, of course.. I worked into Europe, South America, the Caribbean and Hawaii.  I was surprised that KH6LC came back to me on my first call!

I made contacts on 10, 15 and 20 Meters. 10 Meters was absolutely awesome! It was truly difficult to find a dead, open spot on the band. I think that 27 of my 31 contacts were made on 10 Meters. I should have stayed on longer, but I caved in to the tiredness. But while I was on, I had a blast!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very keast!

Friday, February 03, 2023

So what's up this weekend?

 Freeze Your Butt Off -

Vermont QSO Party -

Minnesota QSO Party -

British Columbia QSO Party -

AGCW 80 Meter Straight Key QSO Party -

North American CW Sprint (Sunday UTC) -

The high temp in South Plainfield is expected to be 27F with a bit of a breeze, so it may feel colder. I may set up the magloop and KX3 on the front stoop and participate for a bit. I'll be home alone as the kids and XYL are all out tomorrow doing their own things. A rarity for W2LJ. I wish I had a pair of those fingerless gloves. Maybe I can find a cheap pair at the grocery store tomorrow and take a pair of scissors to the right glove.

Then later in the afternoon, I'll hop downstairs to the shack to see if I can't make a few QSO party QSOs, just to fatten the log up. It's been way too long.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, February 02, 2023

When all else fails!

Sadly, there are a lot of Hams who scoff at that, saying Amateur Radio as a true mode of emergency communication is just a fantasy.. They should know better and this says otherwise:

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Coming up this weekend

 CQ 160 Meter Contest -

Winter Field Day -

UBA (Belgium DX Contest - SSB -

REF (France) DX Contest - CW -


There does not appear to be any State QSO Parties until February. Have fun!

It seems that Winter Field Day is becoming more popular with every passing year. Thanks, but no thanks for W2LJ. Winter is my least favorite season and I have no desire to sit outside somewhere in the freezing cold. I'm not that adventurous anymore ....... 20 or 30 years ago - maybe.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!