Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Coming up this weekend

 CQ 160 Meter Contest - https://www.contestcalendar.com/contestdetails.php?ref=232

Winter Field Day - https://www.contestcalendar.com/weeklycont.php#14254

UBA (Belgium DX Contest - SSB - https://www.contestcalendar.com/weeklycont.php#14250

REF (France) DX Contest - CW - https://www.contestcalendar.com/weeklycont.php#14249

BARTG RTTY Sprint - https://www.contestcalendar.com/weeklycont.php#14239

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!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Admittedly, I am a dinosaur.

While strolling through Facebook today, I came across a posting on the POTA page about getting started in POTA CW.


I whole heartedly agree with Bob, more CW ops are needed on POTA. So I clicked on the pdf and this was the opening paragraph:

CW POTA HUNTING / CW CONTESTING WITH MINIMAL OR NO KNOWLEDGE OF MORSE CODE

by

Bob Lewis – N8GU

Undoubtedly, CW purist operators would probably think that using devices to decode and send Morse Code as being heresy. We use devices to decode digital modes like FT8, RTTY, PSK31, etc. Why not use devices to decode and send CW? I look upon these devices as being the entry point into the fun world of CW and as a stimulus for users to actually learn CW. Operating activities such as POTA (Parks on the Air) have caused a resurgence of interest in CW as well as radio manufacturers creating low power radios and portable antennas that are great for CW transmissions.

I love the idea of people wanting to learn CW. No disrespect intended, my only sticking point is that it seems more than likely to me that if you're going to use a CW decoder and rely on your computer or transceiver to send the CW for you, then this is going to become a crutch and in the long run will actually hinder your ability to learn CW. I'm not saying you won't learn CW this way, but I think it will take you a lot longer and is the scenic route instead of the express. But that's just this writer's humble opinion.

I speak from personal experience. I wanted to become a Ham when I was 16 and in high school. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the code. I gave up. I was a quitter. After college, with some free time on my hands, I buckled down and learned the code the traditional way. Lord knows, if I had CW decoders and a computer or transceiver where I could push a button and have flawless Morse sent for me when I was 16, I may have been in the hobby earlier, but I'm doubting that I would be as proficient with a key as I am today - and I'm by no means "Mr. CW" - just your normal CW op.

I know a lot of folks won't agree with my opinion. Just ask my XYL ...... she'll tell you how often I am wrong!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Coming soon to a frequency near you!

Saturday, February 4th will be the kick off to the 2023 Outdoor QRP Contest Season with the Arizona SQRPions FYBO - "Freeze Your Butt Off" contest.  This is always a fun event, and in New Jersey at least, it's impossible to know much in advance if we'll actually freeze our buns off. Some years have been brutally cold, some years have had Spring like temperatures. Whatever the temp, it's always fun and if I set up outdoors, it may be with the magloop.

So far this Winter, we've been having relatively mild temperatures with only one memorable cold snap to speak of. Any snow that's fallen in the Garden State has been in the extreme NorthWest corner in Sussex and Warren counties. A meteorologist that I follow closely on Facebook is saying that may change real soon. To him, it looks like the pattern of the Gulf Stream may be changing, bringing more frigid air for the majority of the rest of us New Jerseyans. Just my luck that FYBO may end up being a real freezer. Good for a multiplier, but not good for someone who hates the bitter cold.

This coming weekend is the North American QRP QSO Party, SSB iteration, which has a QRP category. Another contest this weekend with a QRP category is the Hungarian DX Contest. While I'm sure this is meant mostly for Hungarian QRPers, this is a good opportunity for QRPers on this side of the Atlantic to add Hungary to your QRP DXCC tally if you haven't already got them.

From comments I've been seeing in email reflectors and on social media, keep checking the higher bands. Seems they've been open lately.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Is this a new thing?

 A good friend of mine, John Wyatt W2VTV posted this on Facebook.


He received a certificate from the ARRL for 25 years of membership. Have any of you out there gotten something like this from the ARRL?

Let's see ....... I've been a member sine 1979 - that's 43 years.  I've been a VE Examiner since 1994 - that's 28 years. I became a Life Member as N2ELW back in the 80s and received the associated plaque. When I changed my call to W2LJ in 2000, I had to pay for a new one. 

I guess being a Life Member they figure they've lost money on me over they years - so no certificates marking the milestone years. Oh well, they would have looked nice on the shack wall.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Friday, January 13, 2023

Better late than never

News of this article has been around on social media for the past few weeks. I do realize however, there are some Hams who disdain that platform and might not be aware of this article which appeared in a recent edition of the Smithsonian Magazine. So I am posting a link here - 


It's rare when our hobby (and Morse Code, in particular) gets mentioned anywhere outside of our own circle. I thought it fitting to make mention of it on this blog ....... as that's what it is devoted to, and it's nice to see our passion get some recognition.

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

Friday, December 30, 2022

Weird

The QRP Contest Calendar mentions that there's a 2023 QRP ARCI New Year Sprint on this Sunday January 1, 2023, from 1500Z - 1800Z.

There's nothing about this sprint at all on the "official" QRP ARCI Contest calendar, but I have participated in it in the past. Unfortunately, there's always been a lack of activity. I hope that's not the case again this year, but I won't hold my breath.

To start off the New Year and jump back into Amateur Radio activity, I'm going to give this one a go - again.  I guess the "standard rules" would apply:

MODE: HF CW Only.

EXCHANGE: Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number

Non-Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO POINTS: Member = 5 points

Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points

Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

MULTIPLIER: S/P/C (State/Province/Country) total for all bands.  The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

POWER MULTIPLIER: >5 Watts = x1

>1 - 5 Watts = x7

>250 mW - 1 Watt = x10

>55 mW - 250 mW = x15

55 mW or less = x20

SUGGESTED FREQUENCIES:

160m 1810 kHz

80m 3560 kHz

40m 7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz and 7100 to 7125 kHz for rock bound participants)

20m 14060 kHz

15m 21060 kHz

10m 28060 kHz

SCORE:

Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier

And of course, tomorrow evening is Straight Key Night. I'm hopefully going out to dinner with family for the evening, but maybe I'll get back in time to put the station on the air for a QSO or two before I fade and fall asleep.

I'm going to do my best to be awake at Midnight to make a toast to 2023 with my lovely bride Marianne and to tell 2022 to take all its troubles with it, and to kindly never bother us again!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Thank you - best Christmas gift ever!

 Yesterday, I had to go to see my urologist for a follow up PSA blood test after the radiation therapy for prostate cancer I received in September, October and November.  I went from a level of over 10 in April to < 0.1.

It would appear your thoughts and prayers worked (Thank you so very much!) - God was very, very good to me. Best Christmas gift ever and now I am more than ready to start up resuming Amateur Radio activities with the New Year.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

 


Today in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, which was instituted by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, which was a particularly fierce battle of the Civil War.

There are many things to be grateful for and about a week ago at this past soup kitchen session, where I volunteer once a month, I met someone who really inspired me to list some of the things that I am thankful for. I did this over a period of eleven days on Facebook.  I wanted to share with you Day 10:

Gratitude Day 10 - This one may seem a little weird and nerdy, but stick with me on this. For Day 10, I am grateful for my hobby, which is Amateur Radio....for a lot of reasons. I've been a licensed Ham for 44 years now.  The smattering of electronics that I had to learn for my license led me to 22 year career at Sinar Bron, where I was Service Manager. In order to learn even more about electronics, I enrolled and went to night classes at DeVry where I met another good friend (he's on FB and he knows who he is). The hobby led me to memberships in several clubs where I have established some of my most important friendships. Rather than embarrass them,  I'll just name a few call signs ... W3BBO, K2VHW, KD2FSI, AB2ZK, W2AOF, N2LCZ, W2OIL, KC2YRC, K2NBC, WB2KLF, AB2VE .... this list could go on for days and days, and doesn't even begin to touch the hundreds of Ham friends I've gained through Facebook and the internet, and the many I have met over the airwaves.  Also, I was privileged to know some fine Hams who have passed and are now known as Silent Keys ... W2OU, W2WK, K2FD, WV2O, N2EBA, WB2MSV, N2LHD - all good and treasured friends. Besides providing me with hundreds of hours of fun and enjoyment,  Amateur Radio also led me to become a CERT member as well as a volunteer part of the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management. The hobby has provided quite a ride, for which I am most grateful.

I hope all of you who celebrate today have a truly wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Field Day Scores 2022

 

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club under call sign NJ2SP has done something it hasn't done since 2017. We've come in 2nd Place in the 3A Battery category. 2nd Place out of 10 entries.  To be honest with you, at the end of Field Day, I wasn't sure how we had done compared to previous years.

Congratulations to SPARC and all who participated!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Warms the cockles of my heart

 I didn't participate in the Zombie Shuffle on October 28th, but I like what I see in the results.

After a few years of a modicum of entries, Paul NA5N received and posted results from over 110 Hams. This is a significantly upward trend and can only mean good things.  One is that the solar cycle is indeed on the upswing and the other is that publicity works.

The Zombie Shuffle has always been a very popular and fun event and it's one of the highlight events of the QRP year. The fact that Paul announces it early and that it's promoted by him and others makes all the difference in the world.

I have found with the Skeeter Hunt that promotion is of utmost importance. While I take the chance that people are going to get sick of hearing about it, the results speak for themselves in that interest remains high and even more importantly ....... no, make that MOST IMPORTANTLY, that those who participate have a good time. And that's what it is all about - giving people the opportunity to enjoy themselves and have a good time, even if it is for only a couple of hours.

Announcing an event on only once or twice and only one one or two outlets isn't going to get the job done. That's why, in my most humble opinion, some previously well attended QRP events seem to be floundering as far as participation goes.  Band and solar conditions play a big role, and there's no doubt about that. At the same time, you can't rest on your laurels. Just because you've had a good turn out and good participation for a year or two doesn't guarantee that such success will continue.

It's sad when you look forward to a yearly QRP event that was popular in the past, and go on the bands that day and find hardly anyone to work. And it's even sadder when you peek at the QRP reflectors and you see little or no chatter about the event other than "Where is everybody?"

I mentioned the "Fun Factor" of the event itself. That plays largely into word of mouth advertising and the "anticipation factor" that will augment any publicity that can be garnered via e-mail reflectors, websites, blogs or contest calendars.

Your club's or organization's QRP event will only be a big deal if you make a big deal about it. We hold and put on niche events and we can't rely on big reputations like the big contests have. They don't need a lot of publicity and reminders. Our events do.

Hopefully as the bands improve, the attendance and interest in some of the yearly QRP events will improve - but organizers and sponsors ....... don't discount the "Two P's" ...... Promotion and Publicity. They will make all the difference in the world; and if you're not up to using them, then expect and don't be disappointed by less than optimum results.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Has he gone the way of the Dodo?

I look at the sidebar of my blog here and I see a total of 38 posts for the entire year of 2022. Holy Shamoley - that's pretty bad! I know some of you are probably wondering what's been going on.

Frankly, my attention has been divided this year. I chronicled the work accident that I had with my hand last January and then how I was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly thereafter. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

Fortunately, as previously mentioned, the cancer diagnosis came really early while the situation remained very treatable. In fact, just this last Friday, I just finished a nine week round of radiation therapy, rather than opting for surgery.

For those who are not familiar, that means nine weeks of radiation exposure every day, Monday through Friday for nine solid weeks. Each treatment was about 15 minutes long and was absolutely painless. The main side effect was intense fatigue, and I did end up telling my doctor that I now know what a microwave chicken feels like!  Extreme tiredness from the therapy, in addition to working full time left me with no desire to even so much look at a radio. The thought of undertaking a portable operation or going down to the shack seemed akin to climbing Mount Everest. Most evenings I was in bed before 8:00 PM. I still can't manage to view one of my favorite television programs, "Blue Bloods" which airs on Friday nights at 10:00 PM. I'm out like a light way before that!

My doctor had mentioned that I tolerated the therapy very well, all things considered.  Most patients, according to to him, are not able to finish the course of treatment in one shot. Many times the series of weeks need to be interrupted so that one or more breaks can be taken. He was amazed that not only was I able to finish the course of treatment in one shot, but that I was also able to continue working full time simultaneously.

I have to tell you, there was also a lot of driving involved. I'm a contract worker here where I work, so if I'm not here, I don't get paid.  To maintain a 40 hour per week paycheck, I would wake up super early (4:00 AM) and come to work super early, put in some time, leave for therapy (at a hospital back near home) and then return to work to finish out the day. That meant putting about 100 miles per day on my car, and with gasoline prices doing their roller coaster ride over the last few months that also taxed my wallet. Needless to say, any Ham radio purchases that I may have been considering are on an indefinite hold.

None if this is to call attention to myself, to pat myself on the back or to engage in a self pity party. I just wanted all of you to know that I have not gone the way of the Dodo and am in no danger of extinction. As my energy level slowly returns to normal, my passion for radio and blogging will also return. But I do want to impress upon my readers, especially the "more mature" ones - make your you get a PSA test on a regular, yearly basis.  That, and the grace of God are what led me on this journey which so far is looking very good and may have very well saved my life.

You know, the irony of all this is that I went totally QRP back in the very early 2000's because I was concerned about the effects that high levels of RF might have had on my kids. I didn't want to take any chances with their health considering that my wire antennas were anchored to the house, near their bedrooms. Now 20 some years later, I myself got to experience the life and times of a frozen microwave dinner!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, September 16, 2022

QRP Afield tomorrow !

 As always, on the third Saturday of September, the New England QRP Club sponsors QRP Afield.

All the rules and regs can be found here - https://www.newenglandqrp.org/qrp-afield-2018/

I know, I know ....... the hyperlink says 2018, but the page has been updated with the dates for 2022, 2023 and 2024, so it's current.

I'd like to give it a whirl for at least a little bit, but weekends are just so darn busy, cramming in on Saturdays the things I don't get to do during the week because of that nasty ol' work thing. We'll see. The weather outside is forecasted to be delightful, with partly cloudy skies and temps in the upper 70s.

The backyard has been totally transformed. We had a landscaping crew come in and clean up all the overgrowth reaching into our backyard from our neighbor's yards. They also got rid of the kids swing set, which was 20 years old and beginning to rot.  We also had them tear down and remove the utility shed. The back wall had been broached by squirrels and by limbs form a neighbor's pine tree - which was removed by the new owners who recently moved in. The patio block pad is none the worse for wear and we will eventually get (probably) a metal shed of the same or a bit smaller size. Until then, I'll place the mower and whatever garden tools I wanted to keep on the pad and will keep it all covered with tarps.

The guys who did the job for us were great! No antenna or feedline damage!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 08, 2022

To my Amateur Radio friends in Britain

Thinking of you in your time of mourning.

If there was ever someone who was the epitome of service to their country, it was Queen Elizabeth.


God save the Queen! Long live King Charles III

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, August 22, 2022

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt 2022 Aftermath

As planned, I set up in the backyard. The Jackite pole held my PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10 aloft and the radio was of course, my KX3. With the ATU out of line, the PAR delivers a nice 1.2:1 SWR. Setup is a matter of routine, now. I started setting up with about 20 minute to go before the bell rang for the beginning of the Skeeter Hunt and I still had about 12 minutes to spare when all was said and done.

The terrestrial weather was cloudy to mostly cloudy with only a few peeks of sunshine here and there. It was hot, hovering between 88F and 91F depending on whether or not the sun was out. It was muggy, but not too uncomfortably so. I was glad I decided to set up in the back yard as I was afforded many opportunities to go inside for a refreshing glass of cold water.

Band conditions were not what I was hoping for. At the 17:00 start, I answered John Shannon K3WWP who was calling CQ on 20 Meters using the NAQCC Club call N3AQC.  He was loud, and that made me do a double take.  Basically - loud signals between Central New Jersey and Western Pennsylvania on 20 Meters?  I expected to work N3AQC on 40 Meters - not 20 Meters. It was harbinger of things to come.

As it turned out, skip was relatively short for the day on 20 Meters. later on in the afternoon, TX and OK stations started rolling in, but for the most part 20 Meters remained what I would call "relatively local". I never heard the West coast and the only VEs that I worked were in Ontario and New Brunswick - nothing to the West.

40 Meters was just plain bad. I only worked two stations - N3AQC again, this time with Mike KC2EGL behind the key and AF1N in Vermont.  I spent some time calling CQ on 40 Meters but had no luck.

I started the event calling "CQ QRP" but changed over to "CQ BZZ" after two stations on 20 Meters answered my "CQ QRP" call and initiated rag chew type QSOs.  I consider it rude to snub someone who wants to have a conversation just because I am in a QRP Sprint, so I sacrificed some contact time (maybe, maybe not) as a result of those two QSOs. 

From my QSO total, I probably didn't miss out on too much, anyway. I ended up with only 24 Skeeter QSOs, 2 non-Skeeter 5 Watt QSOs and the one ragchew was with a guy running 100 Watts. My personal goal was to make 30 contacts for the day and I came up three short.

I don't know why 40 Meters was so underpopulated with signals. Usually, it can be a money band for in-close stations, especially towards the end of the Sprint. In the past, it's been customary to see activity switch from 20 Meters to 40 Meters towards the last hour or so. Not yesterday.

Participation seemed to be high from what I could tell. My utmost thanks to everyone who participated! You guys are the best and you overwhelmingly support this Sprint year after year. The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is what it is because of all of you! I remember a slogan from my youth - it was popular among those who were protesting the war in Vietnam.

"What if they held a war and nobody came?"

What if we held the Skeeter Hunt and nobody came? The point is you folks DO come and participate. Like I said before, many of you return year after year after year.  My part in any of this is small potatoes. All of you out there are the wind beneath the Skeeter's wings!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, August 19, 2022

Skeeter Hunt Sunday!

 This coming Sunday is the annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt !!!

There's still time to get a Skeeter number of you so desire. I will be honoring any requests received until Midnight EDT Saturday/Sunday.  Latecomers will probably receive their numbers Sunday morning, so step up and don't be shy.

Complete rules can be found by going to the Skeeter Hunt page of this blog; or by going to www.qsl.net/w2lj

The terrestrial weather in my part of NJ is looking to be cloudy to mostly cloudy with a high of 87F (31C). I will most likely set up in the back yard like I did for FOBB, rather than go to a park. Energy and stamina levels are having supply chain issues these days. I'm just hoping Ol' Sol calms down and that we have some decent band conditions.

Have fun, be safe and have a great time!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least