Sunday, May 09, 2021

Giving a helping hand

First off, I don't know if I have any YL readers who are also Moms; but if I do - Happy Mother's Day to you! Enjoy your day - I don't know what we'd do without you.

Secondly, sometimes the best Amateur Radio activities are not performed on the air. Yesterday, I had the chance to help a Ham get back on the air. Our SPARC Club President, Bill W2AOF, has been a Ham for a long time, as you can tell by his call. He recently got back into the hobby a few years ago after a long hiatus.

He had put up an economy vertical on the roof for his HF rig, which is an Elecraft KX3. Unfortunately, he wasn't hearing much. At our get-together for World Amateur Radio Day, Bill was impressed by the 40M End Fed Halfwave that was being used by one of the stations. He was able to hear signals on his radio that he hadn't been able to at home.

As a result, Bill ordered a G5RV which arrived on Friday. He texted me yesterday, asking if I would bring my antenna launcher over to his house The weather wasn't the greatest, heavy over cast with bouts of drizzle, but as they say ...... perfect antenna weather!

Bill has very tall pine tree on one edge of his property. On the first try, we did not charge up the air tank with enough pressure and only got the line up about 30 feet or so, nowhere near satisfactory. On the second try, I was able to get a line into the branches at about the 50 foot level. The tricky part of course, is getting the projectile, or "bullet" as I call it, to come down to street level. Many times, it will get caught up in branches on the way down, necessitating another try. Luck was with us this time.

One end of the G5RV went into the tree and then we shot another line from the back of the house to the front of the house, so we could pull the rest of the antenna into the backyard. Bill had the remnants of a clothes line pole in the corner with the rope pulley still on it. This was to be the other anchor end. In effect the antenna would become a sloper.

Much to our dismay, while pulling the antenna into the backyard, the wire got hung up on the corner of Bill's chimney. As a result, he had to get up on the roof to free the wire. Luckily, Bill owns a one story ranch, and it was not a chore that he was unaccustomed to. While he was up there, Bill took the coax from the vertical and hooked it up to the feedline for the G5RV. With the antenna now free, we got the other end into the backyard for the final part of the installation

At this point, Bill thanked me and I headed home. A little while later, I got texts letting me know that successful QSOs had been made with Serbia, Spain and Croatia - all with 5 Watts!.  Bill is on his way to DXCC and I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had helped someone get back on the air. How cool is that?

73 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, May 01, 2021

I can hear the buzzing already!

 Great news! If you don't subscribe to any of the various QRP e-mail reflectors, you might have missed this great piece of news, which I am re-posting here:

"In concert with today's National Arbor Day, The Adventure Radio Society is announcing the return of the Flight of the Bumble Bees on the last Sunday of July. This year it is July 25.

Applications for field stations' Bumble Bee number requests will be opened on Friday, June 25 - one month before this year's BB event. Full details about 2021's FOBB will be posted at that time on the ARS homepage at: http://www.ARSqrp.blogspot.com. There have been no changes to the rules used in previous years.

This event is open to all radio amateurs running 5-watts RF power output or less. Both home and field stations are encouraged to participate.

It's never too early to plan!

73 and  TNX for your ongoing support of ARS,

Richard Fisher, KI6SN

Co-founder, the Adventure Radio Society"

73RadioRow@gmail.com

I know you all dearly missed FOBB in 2020. It's a good sign that things may be finally returning back to normal. Thank you so much, Rich for hosting this event and for all the work you do behind the scenes.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Two QRP-ARCI things

QRP-ARCI is conducting a survey about their contests. This survey is NOT JUST FOR QRP-ARCI MEMBERS. They would like all QRPers input. Please got to:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V5C2YMK

It only takes a few minutes out of your time; and it will help them plan events to maximize participation - and that benefits all of us.

Secondly, they have made an announcement about one of their sprints that is near and dear to my heart, the  2021 QRP-ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint. I've been a participant for years when family events allow. It was from the Hoot Owl Sprint that I got my first ever certificate for participating and being the high scorer for New Jersey. The certificate was unexpected, but was delightful all the same. In any event, that experience led me to form my policy about certificates for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.

The details for this year can be found here: http://qrparci.org/contest/hoot-owl-sprint

This is a fun, easy paced contest. One of those that you can have fun in whether you're a veteran sprinter, or a dyed-in-the-wool newb. Join us - if propagation is halfway decent, I guarantee you'll have a good time!

In other Ham Radio news, much of New Jersey has a high wind warning today from about Noon to 6:00 PM local time. Last night before dinner, I installed the hose clamps, securing my W3EDP support mast to the chain link fence post.  I am hoping that with that said and done, I will not have a repeat of the incident from last March. Knowing my luck, the whole darn fence post will come down!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

QRPTTF this Saturday!

 A reminder from Paul NA5N:

A reminder that QRP TO THE FIELD (QRPTTF) will be held this SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2021 from 0800-1800 your local time.

Rules are virtually the same as last year: OUTBACK Part 2

Operate from:

OUTBACK in your home shack

OUTBACK in your back yard

OUTBACK in the field or a SOTA summit

Since covid is still a moving target with varying health orders from state to state, operate from your home, backyard or "in the field" as you feel comfortable with and to conform with local health and travel restrictions.

*** JUST GET ON THE AIR, MAKE SOME QRP QSOs, AND HAVE SOME FUN. ***

RULES: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/pg.html

CONTEST CALENDAR:

https://www.contestcalendar.com/weeklycont.php?mode=custom&week=current

My weather calls for temps in the upper 70s with 15-20mph winds, so will be operating from a nearby field if not too windy.  I'll be putting some old gear on the air ... my old Ten Tec Argo (5W Scout) and an SGC-2020 with a 1938 McElroy bug for the nostalgia.  I used 20M and 40M MFJ QRP rigs on my very first QRPTTF, the Argo on the 2nd, and the SG-2020 on the third, so time to get a couple of them back on QRPTTF.  Have made several QSOs with them past couple of weeks for the NMQP and SKCC WES, so the old analog radios still work and sounds great.

72 and CU Saturday,

Paul NA5N

Socorro, NM

In W2LJ land, it's supposed to be mostly cloudy with a high in the upper 60s. Lots to do (as always) on Saturday, so if I get out in the back yard at all, it would be for a short time. I hope to be able to get some operating time in, even if it's just an hour. Why does it seem that the older I get, the busier I get?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, April 19, 2021

World Amateur Radio Day 2021

 The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club met at Putnam Park and had a good time.  There were tow good set ups going before I was able to get there, so I did not bother setting up my QRP station. As always, Dave KD2FSI took the lead - getting there early:


Dave arrived shortly after sunrise and was working 80 Meters before the sun took full effect and shortened the band for the day. He worked North Carolina with a 14/wave vertical with counterpoise. I visited for a few minutes before returning home in order to go to Sunday morning Mass.

When I returned at 11:00 AM, Marty W2BEW had a 100 Watt station running to a home brewed 40 Meter EFHW antenna.

His set up was doing quite the job, working into Texas, Manitoba, Ontario, North Dakota and Oklahoma among others.

Here's Marv K2VHW at Marty's station. And here's a little video of a contact he made:


So all in all, it was a good day. A lot of contacts were made, we had a lot of visitors, and we were able to see each other after a long pandemic hiatus - all the while maintaining face masks and proper COVID protocols.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

 That quote from John Lennon has always stuck in my noggin.

As is so painfully obvious, I have not been doing much in the way of blogging lately. That is because of the title of this post. Life has gotten in the way of Amateur Radio.  Nothing bad, like injury or illness, thanks be to God - just ....... life.  Things to do, like projects at home and work. 

Work has been ....... work. While I am thankful and grateful for employment, I come home exhausted most nights. I have not participated in the entire 2020/2021 Winter QRP Fox Hunt season because I am usually out like a light by the time the 9:00 PM starting bell rings. While the Hounds are gleefully chasing the Foxes around the radio frequencies, I'm sawing wood. I'm hoping that as we slowly crawl out of this pandemic that my work life will return to the way it used to be, pre-pandemic. To use another familiar phrase, "I'm getting too old for this."

As a result, not much Amateur Radio activity to write about and I certainly don't want to bore you all with my tedium.

This Sunday, however, the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club will be getting together for the first time in over a year to celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. We are going to meet outdoors in Putnam Park, in our town and we hope to put NJ2SP back on the air.  We will respect all COVID safety protocols and will mask up and remain socially distant, but we will be together again ... at last! It will be good to see each other again in a way other than Zoom, even if we can't shake hands or share hugs. We plan to be on the air from 12:00 to 3:00 EDT - 16:00 to 19:00 UTC. Please listen for us. If you work us, you can get one of our great QSL cards, designed by none other than that Ham Radio art genius himself, Jell K1NSS.


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Two heads are better than one!

 A good part of the Eastern part of the US experienced some high winds this past Thursday and Friday. My weather station recorded some gusts in excess of 30 MPH on Friday. I didn't give it a second thought, but when I let Harold out yesterday morning to do his business, I saw my W3EDP antenna laying on the ground. The mast that I had holding the center run had fallen to the ground. It was attached to a chain link fence post by a bunch of cable ties and the wind proved to be too much for them. It was not a big deal to re-do. It was sunny, warm day yesterday and I out everything back in order rather quickly.

Later in the afternoon, I had my weekly Skype call with Bob W3BBO, where we discuss all kinds of things, including Amateur Radio, of course! I mentioned to him about the antenna mast falling down and my repairs. That's when he told me how he attached his mast to a fence support at his house:

Hose clamps!

I hadn't even thought about hose clamps! Two heads are better than one - thanks, Bob!

It's raining today with a threat of thunderstorms. I may have some hose clamps down in the basement, and I'll have to check if they are long enough to do the job. If not, it will mean a trip to Home Depot, which is not a big deal. Once they are in place, I won't have to worry about them breaking, like the nylon cable ties did.

Those nylon cable ties lasted all winter long - through a couple of bad storms and some pretty windy days, even windier than what we experienced on Friday. Perhaps they degraded in the UV from the sunlight. That's another variable that will be eliminated with the use of metal hose clamps. I'll have to make sure I get stainless steel ones, though - so they won't rust and I can remove them if I ever need to.

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


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Another virtual! FDIM

This time it's for Four Days in May - to be held (virtually) on Saturday, May 22nd. I'm sorry to say that  this will be my very first FDIM. My last trip to Dayton was the very last year before FDIM began. Talk about "so close and yet so far!".  Marriage and helping to raise two little kids followed closely and those duties along with work kept me from making the trips to Ohio.

But I digress.

For all the details, you can go to the QRP-ARCI Website

This year some of the topics are:

Jerry Wolczanski KI4IO - Making an Antenna Coupler

Dr. Jack Purdum W8TEE - How to Select a Microcontroller for a QRP Project

Dave Benson K1SWL - Anatomy of a Transceiver; Building a Better Mousetrap

Han Summers G0UPL - Reach for the Skies: Extreme QRP at 35,000 Feet

Dino Papas KL0S - Bench Setup Using Inexpensive Test Equipment

Tim Snodgrass KC0DN - Breaking Free of the Sunspot Cycle

Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE - sBITX - An Open Source SDR that YOU can hack!

I am so looking forward to this!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo

 is this coming weekend, March 13th and 14th.

https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/?fbclid=IwAR3tChz4f9f1iTS3kDgPGn_RkQSafx2woPP5ryBCUdSa_VuTPMtH2oyNCcM

This Virtual Ham Expo ....... Hamfest ...... Convention ....... whatever you want to call it is being run by Eric Guth, the founder of the now pretty well known "QSO Today" podcast.  I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Eric back in the earlier days, probably when he was less well known and was having trouble finding good people to interview. Sometimes you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

If you haven't registered, you may want to consider it. There is an "admission fee" of ten dollars, but I think it will be well worth it. There are a veritable slew of interesting speakers and presenters. Everything from SDR to building to antennas to POTA to, well .... whatever.

And manufacturers and sellers such as Begali and Quicksilver Radio and many more will be there to present the wares. all in all, I think it's an experience not to be missed.

If you're busy this coming weekend and can't make it for the live presentations, everything is to be archived for 30 days for later viewing. You'll have ample time to catch everything you wanted to see.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

So that's done!

The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt certificates for 2020 were mailed last Monday. Since then, I've already received reports that some of you have gotten yours, which is a relief. The mail can be tricky here in South Plainfield.

With that done, even though it's still cold and snowy for a lot of us, we are anxiously dreaming about Summer and warmer temps. It's time for you to start thinking about this year's Hunt!

The 2021 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be held on Sunday, August 15th. This is the 10th running of the event, and you will have two options to choose from to earn the 100 point bonus.  Note - you will be able to claim ONE bonus - not both. Although if you choose to accomplish both, I'm not about to stop you!

You can view all the details at https://www.qsl.net/w2lj/

For many, a fun part of the Hunt is in getting a low Skeeter number (Skeeter numbers do not remain the same from year to year), so number requests will be honored beginning the First Day of Summer - June 20th, 2021. PLEASE DO NOT REQUEST A NUMBER BEFORE JUNE 20th.

Lastly, a reminder that all log summaries must be submitted by an e-mail to w2lj@arrl.net. Submission e-mails will be answered with an acknowledging e-mail. If you don't get a "Thank You" e-mail from me, I didn't receive your summary - for whatever reason.

Hope to hear you on August 15th!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Thank you for your patience!

 Skeeter Hunters!

The certificates from the 2020 Hunt have been printed. I hope to get them mailed later this week, upcoming snow events notwithstanding.

Thank you for your patience!

And for the record, I'd much rather have a hot and humid Skeeter Hunt day over this stuff that we have now, hands down!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

My feelings about now

 

I went down to the shack last night to retrieve my laptop, which was sitting in its dock. I looked at the thermometer on the wall and it read 58F (14C). Needless to say, I didn't stay long.

We got another two inches of snow over night with more forecasted for the weekend and next Tuesday. Seems we are stuck in a weather pattern that I'd rather not be stuck in.  The temperatures are not supposed to go much above freezing for a while. While December and January were relatively mild and dry, February has decided to tell those two months, "Hold my  beer."

And speaking of wondering how low the temperatures can go, I wonder how low the RTTY signals will go on the bands this coming weekend? It's the CQ WW RTTY Contest this weekend and I'm willing to bet we'll hear RTTY signals all the way down to the ".25" part of all the bands.

I guess it won't matter too much to me as it's too dang cold to sit down there comfortably for any extended length of time, anyway.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

If you were hoping that Field Day would return to "normal" ...

 ARRL to Extend Field Day Rule Waivers from 2020, Add Class D and E Power Limit

02/10/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic-modified ARRL Field Day rules from 2020 will continue this June with the addition of a power limit imposed on Class D (Home Stations) and Class E (Home Stations-Emergency Power) participants. The news from the ARRL Board’s Programs and Services Committee comes as many clubs and groups are starting preparations for Field Day in earnest. Field Day 2021 will take place June 26 – 27.

“This early decision should alleviate any hesitancy that radio clubs and individual Field Day participants may have with their planning for the event,” said ARRL Contest Program Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE.

For Field Day 2021:

Class D stations may work all other Field Day stations, including other Class D stations, for points. This year, however, Class D and Class E stations will be limited to 150 W PEP output.

An aggregate club score will be published — just as it was done last year. The aggregate score will be a sum of all individual entries that attributed their score to that of a specific club.

ARRL Field Day is one of the biggest events on the amateur radio calendar. Last summer, a record 10,213 entries were received.

“With the greater flexibility afforded by the rules waivers, individuals and groups will still be able to participate in Field Day, while still staying within any public health recommendations and/or requirements,” Bourque said.

The preferred method of submitting entries after Field Day is via the web applet. The ARRL Field Day rules include instructions on how to submit entries, which must be submitted or postmarked by Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

The ARRL Field Day web page contains for complete rules and entry forms, as well as any updated information as it becomes available. Join the ARRL Field Day Facebook page.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, February 08, 2021

Meh

 I'm not about to do a K3WWP and start calling it S#*&^, but I, like John, am growing a distinct distaste for snow.  Last weekend into last Tuesday, we got 19.5 inches (50 cm) of the stuff. Yesterday, we got another 7 inches (18 cm).

And it looks like the weather people are forecasting another 5 inches of snow to come during the middle of this week and even more over the coming weekend. And the temperatures are going to plummet with an accompanying blast of Arctic air. It's "seasonably" cold outside now and my shack temperature is 58F - I can't wait to see what it's going to be later this week!

This is more snow than we've seen in this part of Central New Jersey in about 5 or 6 years. For you folks who get a ton each winter - God bless you! I don't like dealing with it - and my hat is off to you for dealing with yours.

On a side note, my son Joseph is getting tired of helping me deal with it and this is what he wants me to buy.

As appealing as the thought was to me, my answer was "NO!".

On the Ham Radio side of the coin, I did work my good friend Dave KD2FSI as he ran his Heathkit special event station yesterday. I had to hook up the KXPA100 and turn up that wattage. Even then, he could barely hear me - we just live too close to each other for the band conditions that were what they were yesterday. But he did earn his "Veteran's Ears" for pulling my 2X2 SSB signal out of the mud. Thanks, Dave!

He was using an EFHW, so I made the contact using the W3EDP. He wasn't even audible on the Butternut vertical.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!