Friday, July 19, 2019

Bucket list

If any of you have kept up with the news; or are active in social media, then you've heard about the new app for cell phones that will allow you to see what you'll look like 30 to 40 years from now. It takes a "selfie" (I hate that word!) and will age your features so that you'll know what you'll look like when you're 70 or 80.  I guess Millennials get a big kick out of that.  I don't, and I definitely don't need the app.. I turned 62 this year, so I know where I'll most likely be 30 to 40 years from now.

So what's this post all about?  It's not about being maudlin, or morose, or being a "Gloomy Gus". No, this post is about the things I want to do in Amateur Radio before leaving for that big DX Contest in the Sky.

The good Lord willing, I may actually get to retire somewhere within the next 5-8 years. After that, I'm hoping He will allow me to live long enough to do some of the things that I just don't have the time and opportunity for right now; work and keeping up the house being the necessary evils that they are. But when I do get some time, here are some Amateur Radio things (in no particular order) that I want to accomplish before I leave this rock that we call Earth.

1) Do an honest-to-goodness SOTA operation
2) Attend FDIM and Hamvention (I'm hoping to do that in 2020 - fingers crossed, we'll see)
3) Get back on the satellites.
4) Do more POTA activations - particularly ones that require a bit of travel.
5) In general, just get on the air more than I have been able to.
6) Build stuff - oh, how I miss building stuff!

So why is it so hard to do these things now? Most of you probably know. Between work, house chores, doing things for the family, community and church obligations, there really isn't a lot of time for projects, or self indulgence. The fact that I manage to lock away enough time for events such as FOBB and the Skeeter Hunt amazes me enough, in and of itself. Even those rare times are dicey. It seems whenever I have some event for myself penciled in, something comes out of left field to spoil the best laid plans of mice and men.

And that 'work" thing ..... it seems that by the time I get home around 6:00 PM everyday, I'm just too tired to even think about doing much of anything with the rest of the day. I remember when I was in my 20s and 30s, how I could come home from work and stay up until 1:00 or 2:00 AM doing things and wake up the next morning and feel ready and raring to go. I got a lot of stuff accomplished when I was younger. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. So I dream the dream of some day, being able to accomplish things that I want to do - again.

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"That ain't no sunspot, Mabel!"


"That's the International Space Station!"

Photo courtesy of NASA - no freckles on the sun as far as anyone can tell.

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

Monday, July 15, 2019

If you have a bug ......

please take a "re-look" at my Morse Code page on "How To Adjust a Bug".  Benny Owens K5KV, who had purchased a lot bugs from an SK's estate, and spent a lot of time adjusting them all, and graciously made some suggestions/corrections to what I had written.

His remarks are in red type and are easy to see. I think it's a more complete and comprehensive treatise now, from which many neophyte (and maybe not so neophyte) bug users will benefit from.

Thanks Benny for the editorial assistance!

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

Contact Sport

While we were on vacation last week, I finally got the chance to read the book that my sister gave me for Christmas - "Contact Sport" by Jim George N3BB. I held off reading it with the intention of bringing it along on vacation. I was not disappointed. This book is his recounting of N3BB's experiences as a driver for the 2014 WRTC Championship, which was held in New England that year.


I enjoyed the book on several levels:

A) It is a book about Amateur Radio, to which I can totally relate. It was an easy read. N3BB is a talented writer and the book was written in a manner so that someone who is totally foreign to Amateur Radio could pick this book up and enjoy reading it. In the same vein, it was not overly simplistic. It held my attention throughout and was a relatively quick read

B) As pretty much a non-contester, I was impressed - VERY impressed with these "Top Guns" who qualified for the Championships. I could never do what they do. I don't have the resources or the devotion to plant my butt in a chair for 24 hours almost every weekend during contest season. These guys can do that and their experience and abilities are just amazing to me. That being said ........

C) As an avid participant in Field Day, on some levels I can relate. I can relate being to being "locked up" in a hot tent for 24 hours trying to make as many CW contacts as possible.  For the first few years of SPARC's Field Day efforts, the CW duties were left pretty much to Marv K2VHW and myself. This year we had a lot of help with that. I am hoping that continues in the years to come. Reading about these guys doing what I do once a year (of course on a much more advanced level than I could ever hope to do - Uber Field Day) was neat, because I totally "got it".

D) It turns out I actually know one of the major players in the book.  John Laney K4BAI is a familiar call sign in just about all the QRP Sprints in which I participate. I have always looked at John with major respect for his talent and abilities, and his sterling character and reputation for fairness and honesty. To read about someone I know being eminently qualified to act as a WRTC referee made the book somewhat more "personal" and brought it home for me.

E) Chapter 17 was devoted to Morse Code. A relatively short chapter, Jim attempted to explain the "magic of Morse" to those not familiar with the mode. IMHO, this was the best chapter of the book - but then again, I AM biased!

If you get a chance to pick this up in your local library, or order it from Amazon, I would recommend it. It's a fun read about something that all the readers of this blog enjoy - Amateur Radio. I had no idea this book was out there. I thank my big sister many times over for gifting it to me.

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Quest for 30

That new ARRL/Vibroplex Code Proficiency Certificate has renewed my quest for 30 - WPM, that is. After comfortably loafing around at 23 -25 wpm for years now, I have been able to stretch myself to 30 wpm for events like Field Day and such, but it IS a stretch. A conversational rag chew at 30 would probably not go well for me at this point.

So I am resolved to hit the 30 wpm mark within the near future. I'm hoping with some dedication, that can be within the next six months or so. Learning Morse was never easy for me, as I've detailed more than a few times. It was a big struggle, but ended up being my salvation in being able to operate without interfering with the family TV.

Once I learned it, raising my speed was a much easier affair. The 13 wpm test for General and the 20 wpm test for Extra were both a breeze for me. Getting to the point where 30 wpm is easy copy shouldn't be that difficult. It will just take time and dedication.

My plan is to use my CW Trainer app as my weapon of choice.


This app will allow me to listen to code sent as high as 60 wpm. The routine that I have taken to is to listen to code practice twice a day. I start with a session at 40 wpm, and I just listen. I do not consciously try to decode the Morse, just relax and listen. If I get a word here and there, so much the better, but the main goal is just to listen to the rhythms of the dits and dahs. When that session is over, I lower the speed to 30 wpm. after listening to the 40 wpm session, the 30 wpm session becomes almost decipherable. At this point, I can correctly copy about 30 to 40% of the session.  I'll keep this up for a week or two and gradually increase the speed of the first session, while seeing how much my comprehension of the 30 wpm session increases.

My thinking is that if I keep this up, I should be pretty comfortable at 30 wpm within six months or so. I doubt I'll ever become comfortable at 40 wpm, but it's a goal worth reaching for and besides, there's a side benefit of keeping the old gray matter exercised.  Maybe "Some Morse Code each day will keep the Alzheimer's away".  That would be a good thing, wouldn't it?

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

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Some Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Special Event Stations



Courtesy of the ARRL:

07/01/2019 | Eagle Has Landed
Jul 1-Jul 28, 0900Z-2359Z, GB5EHL, Leiester, ENGLAND. Leicester Radio Society. 14.250; 160 to 10, 4, 6, and 2 meters; 70 cm, on all popular modes. QSL. Mr. M. Harriman, 70 Station Rd., Thurnby, Leicester LE79PU, ENGLAND. https://www.g3lrs.org.uk

07/06/2019 | PA11APOLLO - Remembering Apollo 11 mission 1969
Jul 6 - Aug 2 Standard HF bands - See QRZ page for details

07/08/2019 | 50th Anniversary of First Moon Landing
Jul 8-Jul 24, 0000Z-2259Z, N8A, West Chester, OH. Midwest VHF/UHF Society. 10368.100. Certificate. Tom Holmes, N8ZM, 1055 Wilderness Bluff, Tipp City, OH 45371-9221. Plan to work 10 GHz EME when moon at best position for good DX. Contact for schedules and exact frequency. n8zm@mvus.org

07/14/2019 | 50 Years - First Man on the Moon
Jul 14-Jul 28, 1700Z-2000Z, N1A, Milford, OH. Milford Amateur Radio Club. SSB: 28.350 14.260 7.240 3.840; CW: 14.045, 7.045, 3.545; FT8 standard frequencies. QSL. Milford Amateur Radio Club, P.O. Box 100, Milford, OH 45150-0100. Email qsl@w8mrc.com for QSL requests. www.w8mrc.com

07/16/2019 | Apollo 11 , The 50th Anniversary
Jul 16-Jul 24, 1332Z-1650Z, K2CAM, Garden City, NY. Long Island Mobile Amateur Radio Club. 15.340 14.240 7.240 3.840. Certificate & QSL. LIMARC, P.O. Box 392, Levittown, NY 11756. K2CAM is the callsign of the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, NY. Long Island is considered the birth place of aviation in America. Grumman Aerospace was the primary contractor for the LEM, Lunar Excursion Module. QSL card please end SASE. Certificate, please enclose $3.00 for mailing. Info available for K2CAM on QRZ.com www.limarc.org
07/16/2019 | Apollo 11 50th anniversary

07/16/2019 | Apollo 11 50th anniversary
Jul 16-Jul 25, 1400Z-0000Z, N4A, Huntsville, AL. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center ARC. 14.273. QSL. MSFC Amateur Radio Club, NASA/MSFC c/o Don Hediger, ES35, Huntsville, AL 35812. Various bands and modes will be used. Check spotting cluster or @NASARadioClubs for details. Numerous other NASA radio clubs will be on the air during this period. SASE is required for QSL card. nn4sa.wordpress.com

07/18/2019 | W3A Apollo 11-50th Anniversary-Live TV from the Moon
Jul 18-Jul 23, 1300Z-2200Z, W3A, Baltimore, MD. The Amateur Radio Club of the National Electronics Museum (K3NEM). 14.250 14.050 7.250 7.050. Certificate & QSL. W3A-Apollo, PO Box 1693, MS 4015, Baltimore, MD 21203. Amateur Radio Club of the National Electronics Museum (ARCNEM) will operate W3A to commemorate the live television transmission of the first moonwalk using a camera designed and built by Westinghouse. While the flight camera remained on the moon, a duplicate unit manufactured at the same time is on display at the National Electronics Museum where W3A operations will take place. Primary operation will be July 19-July 21 with additional operation possible during the July 18-23 period as operator availability permits. Operation on 80M (3.550, 3.850) and digital modes possible during event. Frequencies +/- according to QRM. QSL and Certificate available via SASE; details at www.W3A.space

07/18/2019 | Apollo 11 Moon Landing 50th Anniversary
Jul 18-Jul 21, 2300Z-2300Z, N5A, Springdale, AR. Razorback Contest Club. 14.250 14.040 7.200 7.040. QSL. Razorback Contest Club, 3407 Diana St., Springdale, AR 72764. www.qrz.com/db/ke5xx

07/16/2019 | K2M, Honoring the Men and Women that built the LEM on Long Island 50 years ago.
Jul 16-Jul 24, 0900Z-2359Z, K2M, Babylon, NY. Great South Bay Amateur Radio Club. 14.321. Certificate. GSBARC - K2M, PO BOX 1356, West Babylon, NY 11704-0356. www.gsbarc.org

07/19/2019 | Apollo Moon Landing 50th Anniversary at Space & Rocket Center
Jul 19-Jul 21, 2000Z-2000Z, W4A, Huntsville, AL. Huntsville Amateur Radio Club HARC. 14.290 7.225 7.044 3.945; SSB CW FT8. QSL. M.D. Smith, WA4DXP, 307 Clinton Ave. W,, Suite 100, Huntsville, AL 35801. No overnight. Celebrating Man's first steps on the moon 50 years ago. SASE for QSL. www.qrz.com/db/W4A

07/20/2019 | 50th Anniversary of the 1st Manned Moon Landing
Jul 20-Jul 28, 1300Z-2359Z, K1M, Ansonia, CT. Stratford Amateur Radio Club, Inc.. 14.275 7.225 3.825. QSL. K1M , 32 Benz Street, Ansonia, CT 06401.

07/20/2019 | Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing
Jul 20, 1400Z-2000Z, K8QYL, Wapakoneta, OH. Reservoir Amateur Radio Association. 14.250 7.250. QSL. Rich Spencer, W8GZ, 05925 Vogel Rd., Saint Marys, OH 45885. From the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum

07/20/2019 | Man on the Moon First Communication to Earth – 50 Years
Jul 20-Jul 21, 1300Z-1700Z, K9MOT, Schaumburg, IL. Motorola Amateur Radio Club. SSB within 10KHz: 3.83, 7.23, 14.245, 21.435, 28.465; CW 3.543, 7.043, 14.0. Certificate. MOTOROLA AMATEUR RADIO CLUB, PO Box 59701, Schaumburg, IL 60159. To commemorate Motorola’s contribution to the Apollo program and lunar communication. www.qsl.net/k9mot

07/20/2019 | SEMARC celebrates the 50th anniversary of the US manned Moon Landing
Jul 20-Jul 22, 1300Z-2300Z, N0M, Saint Paul, MN. South East Metro Amateur Radio Club. 18.075 14.040 7.260 7.040. QSL. B. F. McInerney, 2523 Cochrane Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55125. Special QSL with SASE www.semarc.org

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



Fishing at the Lake

When we come up to Lake George for our annual Summer respite, we notice that a lot of folks come up here for the fishing.  Throughout the day, you see people going to their boats; or coming back from their boats, with rods, reels, tackle boxes and other sundry items in hand.

I like to fish while I'm up here, too. My kind of fishing is different however. Instead of plying the waters of the lake, I ply the layers of the ionosphere. Instead of looking for blue gills, bass, carp and sunfish, I look for call signs. In a way, the two activities are a lot alike.

Instead of rod and reel, my equipment is my KX3 and my home brewed magloop.  I could set up an EFHW or perhaps the Buddistick, but the magloop offers rapid set up and take down while maintaining relative stealth. I try to stay in the good graces of our host here, and don't wish to do anything that he might deem as "not permissible".  Throwing a wire into a tree would definitely be pushing the envelope, all though I have done that in the past. The owner has never complained, but some of our fellow cabin dwellers can be a bit "catty" if you will, at times. Why press your luck if you don't have to?




I got on both 20 and 40 Meters yesterday. Activity wasn't the greatest; but I did make some contacts. I worked a W8/G station that I thought might be visiting the States on holiday. He was calling CQ with no takers and I just wanted to assure him that his signal was loud, and was getting out. Turns out he was in fact, in England, in Newcastle. But he was remoting through a station in Michigan via the internet. Sigh - DX that doesn't count.

I switched to 40 Meters and worked several CW Ops that were participating in the 1900 hour CWT, one of their weekly CW Sprints. I worked four stations, all in Virginia. For whatever reason, I seemed to have a pipeline to VA. I worked all on the first try - a testament to their antennas and ears - but also a testament to the magloop. It works, and pretty well at that.

Then I heard my buddy W3BBO working K3TF.  Bob was a solid 559/569 with some QSB. I waited for their QSO to end. Bob said he had to run at the end of his conversation with K3TF. He really did have to QRT! I called him a couple of times with no joy. A subsequent e-mail revealed that Bob had been told that dinner was ready, so that was that. Maybe another day.

Getting back to the analogy of fishing and Ham Radio. I have often commented on how the two are so similar. They both involve skill, smarts, knowing your equipment, but most of all, perseverance, especially for QRPers. If all you know is QRO, and then switch to QRP, you have to switch your mindset as well as your power setting.

Patience is not only a virtue, it is a necessity if you decide to become a dedicated QRPer. The contacts will come, but it will definitely be different than making them with brute force. You'll need to intimately understand propagation, timing, your equipment and yourself. And most of all, you'll need to understand the importance of listening and how that plays into the scheme of things.

Yeah, it's way easier to make those contacts with 100, 500 or 1,500 Watts. But IMHO, at least, it's nowhere near as satisfying.  When you get to the point where you can bust a pileup or make that contact with Japan or Australia the first time you try with 5 Watts, that's Ham Radio heaven.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Flight of the Bumblebees

The Adventure Radio Society's annual Flight of the Bumblebees is on! This year, it will be held on Sunday, July 28th.


The Flight of the Bumblebees, or FOBB as it is also known, is without a doubt, THE premier Summertime QRP operating event. It's been around for two decades and is still going strong!

All the rules can be found at http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/.  Here you will not only find the complete rules, exchange, reporting information, but also how to apply for a Bumblebee number. The roster can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yy96zywm

W2LJ is Bee # 13 and I plan to operate from Washington Rock State Park, which is also a registered POTA entity. Anyone who works me gets "a two for one".

These outdoor operating events are what I live for each Summer. It is sooooo much fun to get out into the fresh air with a radio, battery and a wire. This is where the wonder and magic of radio becomes real again, making contacts all over with just simple equipment.  If you've never done this before, seriously consider it, especially if Amateur Radio has become routine and somewhat boring for you.  It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Operating from a local park, or perhaps even from your backyard with a portable antenna will change how you think about Amateur Radio and QRPing forever!

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

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Code Proficiency - News from the ARRL

The ARRL Code Proficiency certificate has been around for decades. In fact, it's been around longer than the four decades that I have been licensed. But starting next month, there's a new twist. In addition to getting the certificate for successfully copying the W1AW Qualifying Runs, now you'll get your name published in QST.


From the ARRL:

Starting with the August issue, QST will list the recipients of W1AW Code Proficiency certificates. Key manufacturer Vibroplex now is sponsoring the certificates, which debut a new design. The Code Proficiency program has been an ARRL staple for decades. Participants who copy a W1AW qualifying run and submit 1 minute of legible solid copy and the $10 certificate fee can qualify.

Send submissions to W1AW Qualifying Run, 225 Main St, Newington, CT USA 06111. These are checked directly against the official W1AW text, and those demonstrating solid copy will receive an initial Code Proficiency certificate. Endorsement stickers, which cost $7.50, are issued for speeds up to 40 WPM.

The W1AW Code Proficiency Program is open to hams and non-hams alike. Those seeking to attain a Code Proficiency certificate can listen to W1AW daily code practice sessions, in which the text is taken directly from QST, as announced before each practice run.

Cynics will of course, think that this is just another means of the ARRL boosting income generation. They may be right, who am I to argue? But I do think it's kind of neat seeing your name in QST for persevering in acquiring a skill that is not the easiest to attain.

For some people with intrinsic musical talent, learning Morse Code is as easy as falling off a log. For the rest of us, it wasn't or isn't nearly that easy. Personally, it took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the 25 WPM level that I am at. At least that's what my last certificate shows from some 20 years ago.  This newly designed certificate and the ego boost of being able to see my name in QST has me wanting to get at least to the 30 WPM level, if not higher.

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

Saturday, July 06, 2019

I did not 13 Colonies this year.

I'll not hesitate to say that the 13 Colonies Event has become a mainstay in the operating year. Amateurs from around the world try to work the 13 States that were the original 13 Colonies as well as WM3PEN and GB13COL for the sweep. You earn a very nice certificate which makes beautiful wall paper for the shack. On top of that, 13 operators and organizers do an outstanding job to pull this off, year after year. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make something like this work.

All that said, I did not join the hunt this year. More likely than not, my ambition level this year was left kind of flat after that bout of stomach trouble that I had experienced. That, and finding the time. Working full time makes it hard to find the time to work all 13 plus the bonus stations.

And I got annoyed by some of the comments I saw on social media. I know, I shouldn't allow morons to get to me, but some did. The whining, the complaining that this station wasn't on and this station wouldn't do my favorite mode, etc. It just made me weary.

The 13 Colonies event has certainly grown with more ops providing more modes than ever. A few years back, when I accomplished a sweep, not all the states were on the air with CW.  Instead of moaning and groaning, I picked up the microphone and worked the ones I needed on SSB. That was disappointing for me - but it was what it was. If you want something badly enough, you do what you have to do to get it done. Crying and threatening to take your ball home because the game's not being played the way you want it is a bit ridiculous.

And then, of course, there are the jammers and the pirates. These idiots just can't be happy with other people having fun. They have to make everything about themselves.

Maybe next year, I'll join the fray again. When you feel well, your level of BS Tolerance goes way up. I hope it will be that way next year.

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

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Happy Independence Day!


A Happy Independence Day to all!

I am very fortunate in that the home QTH of South Plainfield is rich with American Revolution Era history.

From our town's Webpage:

"The area that later became South Plainfield was included in the “Elizabethtown Purchase” of 1664 as a part of Piscataway Township. The name “Piscataway” came from the “Piscataqua” Indians of Maine.  (Remember the early settlers were originally from New England). Piscataway Township encompassed all of the land from Woodbridge to the southern most part of Middlesex County, including what later became New Brunswick, Spotswood, Millstone, Princeton and Cranbury. Most of the first settlers were of Scottish descent although some Quakers also lived here.

Logging was a significant industry of the time and a major operation was established along the Cedar Brook where a sawmill and gristmill were started in 1732.

Two hamlets developed in the mid 1700’s. “Sampton” was located at the junction of what is now Sampton and Clinton Avenues, which was the main road from Elizabeth to New Brunswick.   In the late 1700’s, a tavern was established to serve travelers at what is now 746 Sampton Avenue  (the Drake house).


The second hamlet was called “Brooklyn” and it was located at Front Street and South Plainfield Avenue.  Brooklyn is where the families of the men who worked at the gristmill and the sawmill on the Bound Brook lived.   The remaining land in South Plainfield was occupied by what then was considered small farms of less than two hundred acres.

South Plainfield During the Revolutionary War

This area of New Jersey was occupied by the British from December 2, 1776 to June 22, 1777.  Much activity took place in this vicinity during the spring and summer of 1777.  There were continuing British and Continental Army movements between Perth Amboy and New Brunswick.  It is documented that General Washington and his troops had an encampment in the New Market section of Piscataway and it is believed that British troops led by General Cornwallis moved towards General Washington and likely crossed Spring Lake on an old log road.  In response, Washington sought a higher vantage point to view British troop movements and relocated his regiment to what became known as “Washington Rock”."

Maple Avenue, which is about a block away from my house is part of the Washington-Rochambeau trail, which is the actual path taken by Continental and French Troops on their way to Yorktown.

As I said, South Plainfield swims deeply in the waters of American Revolution history. It's a great small town and a great place to live.

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

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

A rather late Field Day report

Sorry for this late Field Day report - our Field Day effort was "different' to say the least. I can confidently say that while this was not SPARC's best effort, we learned some very valuable lessons in the process which will serve us in years to come. So all was not lost.

We first started having major problems with the SSB Beam antenna.


We put it together exactly the way we had in years past, but for some reason or another we kept getting wild SWR reading on the analyzer.  After 5 separate put ups and bring downs, we weren't able to get better than a 2.8:1 match on 20 Meters. When you're running the battery category with only 5 Watts out, that's way too much to let the autotuners handle. And to make matters worse, the SWR readings became unstable. They would change as we watched them. We thought perhaps it was a bad roll of coax, but we swapped that out with no effect. Must be something in the traps.

The Vadney brothers saved our bacon on this one, though. They brought their Hexbeam along and put it up to replace the Yagi, and it only took W2OIL and KC2YRC about an hour to put it up!


The match was 1:1 on 20 Meters - much better! And the hex performed flawlessly all weekend long.

The second problem reared its ugly head around 1:30 AM Sunday morning. The desktop we were using as a server, which was linking all our logging computers gave up the ghost. Bill W2AOF thought quickly enough on his feet to set up a new logbook file on One Drive and he directed all the laptops to the cloud.  The only bad thing was we had to rely on stations and memory to tell us if we were working a station as a dupe.  Fortunately, after the event, our tech wizards Ron N2LCZ and Drew W2OU were able to combine the two log files. I think we ended up with 4 dupes in total.

The problem is, you can't count on the cloud being there during a disaster. In fact, the internet is usually one of the first things to disappear in a large scale emergency. The internet rescued our butts this year- but we need to develop a more iron clad solution for 2020.

Our CW QSO total was WAY down this year. At around 3:30 AM on Sunday morning I was hit by either a stomach bug or a case of food poisoning (my Doctor thinks it was food poisoning from my symptoms), or something. It really wiped me out, I had a low grade fever for over a week. I stayed until the bitter end, but I have to admit I snoozed most of the last half of Field Day. Normally, I'm at that key like a fly stuck to flypaper. Not this year. In fact, almost a week and a half later, I'm just feeling human again.  I sure don't bounce back as quickly as I did when I wore a younger man's clothes.

Here's some photos to close out this post. Even with all that happened, we still had fun, we had lots of visitors and we definitely learned from our mistakes, and I'd rather learn them now than in the middle of some kind of disaster situation.










The signs were new this year - and I took this video before the stomach blues hit:


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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Summer is almost here!

Sign ups for the 2019 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt are almost here!



That's right - this Friday is the First Day of Summer 2019 - and you know what that means!

Applications will be accepted for Skeeter Numbers for the 2019 Skeeter Hunt.

For those not familiar, this event has become one of the Summertime QRP operating staples. It is a four hour QRP Sprint that will be held on Sunday, August 18th. The idea is to get you and your equipment to the Great Outdoors for some QRP fun. A Skeeter Number is not a requirement, but it adds to the fun, so why not get one for yourself, or your group if you want to get out and operate with a bunch of friends?

All the details can be found on the Official NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Webpage.

To apply for a Skeeter Hunt Number - send an e-mail, BEGINNING ON FRIDAY, the First Day of Summer, to w2lj@arrl.net and you'll get an e-mail reply with your number. If you don't get an acknowledgement, then I didn't get your e-mail - so try again!

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

Skeeter #13 (in perpetuity

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sometimes you run across things that surprise you.

Every day, I have one guilty pleasure.  I get on the Web and I go to two different sites where I can read the comics. There, I said it. 62 years old and I love to read the funny pages. Some new ones are my favorites, like Zits, Pluggers, Sally Forth, Bliss, and Andertoons join my old favorites like Beetle Bailey, Blondie, BC, the Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Mutt and Jeff, Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft - and of course Peanuts and Family Circus.

Anyway, while reading the comics, advertisements always pop up.  Most of the time they seem to be for things that barely interest me, or mostly have nothing to do with me. Yesterday, however, was a different story.  One came up with the words "Ham Radio" in it. And it wasn't for any of the usual suspects such as Gigaparts, or Jameco or DX Engineering. This ad was for a company that I never heard of; and it immediately caught my eye.


My concern here, is that while they DO mention that you need to be a licensed Ham to use these products legally, the average buyer might just say "Pfffffffft" to that requirement and will start using this stuff illegally. Many might say it's just an ill-founded worry, but IMHO, I think it's a legitimate concern. As it is, with the proliferation of inexpensive HTs, I hear plenty of interlopers that are obviously not licensed on the local repeaters - another reason that I am mostly an HF kind of guy.

The other thing that surprises the heck out of me is the "Ham Radio Go Kits" page on Facebook.  Have you ever visited that site? I look at some of these Go Kits that these guys put together and I think, "Geez, you'd need a crane to move that thing!". I thought the purpose of a personal Go Kit was to be relatively light and portable, so that you can go anywhere and provide emergency communications wherever it might be needed. What's the purpose of building a Go Kit that you need a hand truck or dolly to tote around?  That might be OK for a local shelter in town, but what if it's a situation like they had in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria? If you're being tasked to some remote location, I would think you'd want to simply pack as much as you could into a backpack that you would then carry into the affected area. Elaborate and pretty is nice I guess, and may generate lots of "Oooohs and aaaahs"; but unless your setup is tactically ready and efficient, it may not end up being of much use. When I think of "Go Kit" - personally I think of portability - not necessarily a shack away from home with all the bells and whistles. And if something more elaborate is needed, at least put it in something that already has wheels built into it that can be easily pulled or pushed around.  50+ pounds in a hard Steelcase with one or two handles that needs two guys to carry it just doesn't seem to cut it, in my mind.

Field Day is coming up this weekend and the CW station, for which I am responsible, will be coming to the site contained entirely in one backpack and one plastic ammo box.  Not that I would want to; but if I had to, I could comfortably walk it to the Field Day site without exhausting myself in the process of getting it there.

Sorry for the rant - maybe it's just Monday morning crankiness.

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


Sunday, June 16, 2019

W2QW Hamfest

The day dawned clear and a bit chilly. Getting up at 4:00 AM to be on site at 5:00 AM was no picnic. As the sun rose, the temperatures rose also and a big, hot cup of coffee went a long way towards warning me up AND waking me up.

The first job of the day was working with Tim AB2ZK and Craig AC2FE to park the seller's cars into appropriate spots. We had a pretty steady stream right up until the 8:00 AM start time. We almost filled the lot thanks to the spectacular weather, but not quite. One of these years, we will.

All photos courtesy of Jim Roselli N2GMA

The VE Testing session began almost as soon as the parking duties were done. We started the filling out of paperwork at 8:30 AM, so that we could begin testing at 9:00 AM, sharp. We were expecting about four, five or maybe six candidates at the most. Imagine our surprise when we ended up with nine candidates!

The team, which was the K2ETS VE Team, did a magnificent job keeping everything flowing smoothly without the slightest hitch or hiccup - except for the breeze. Halfway through the exam session, a pretty good breeze kicked in. We were using keys, HTs, anything we could find to use as paperweights to keep papers from blowing all over Creation.






In all, out of the nine, we were able to award one new Technician license, four upgrades to General and one upgrade to Extra.

Photo courtesy of Pete Fierro KD2ARB

After the exams were over, I was able to spend some time with Dave KD2FSI who bought a Hallicrafters receiver that was in EXCELLENT shape. It didn't look like it was new, out of the box, but it sure wasn't far from that condition. Then I got to spend some time in the shade with our ETS of NJ Group who had a club table at the hamfest. Before long, it was time to come home, to process the VE paperwork and get it into the mail so that the ARRL can get the new license and upgrades to the FCC as soon as possible.

Did W2LJ buy anything? Not really, besides a pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. My goal for the day was to find a 9V wall wart to use with the little o'scope kit that I'm building. There was a box of wall warts at the K2ETS table, so while I was doing the VE thing, Dave W2OIL and Dan KC2YRC went through the box and found one - and of course, typical for them, they wouldn't accept anything for it.

So, yeah, it was a great day with friends and a very productive morning to boot.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ham Humor for the Day


Would this make QRP "small potatoes"?


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

If you happen to be in the area

Central New Jersey, that is ......... this coming Saturday is one of the better (I am biased) NJ Hamfests.


I will be there to help direct vendors to their spots in the early AM, run the VE Session at 9:00 AM and to help man the K2ETS Club Table the rest of the time.

So if you're in the area, come have a good time and make sure to look for W2LJ and say "Hello".

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

QRP Day ???

July 2 or if you write the day and month digitally, as we do in the USA with the month first and then the date, it would be 07/02 or "72", or so say the Indiana QRP Fireflies.  In order to celebrate "QRP Day", they are instituting the Fireflies QRP 72 Sprint.

The details can be found here: http://ko9f.org/FF72Sprint

Let's hope and pray for better band conditions than we had yesterday for the Cookie Crumble!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Firefly # 39
QRP - When you care to sent the very least!