Monday, October 12, 2015

Can you hear me now?

If you've never spoken with someone from New Jersey now's your chance to hear what we sound like.... nasal, New Jersey accent (dawg, cawfee) and all. We don't sound like what you've heard on "The Sopranos" - really.

A couple of weeks after the Skeeter Hunt, I had the delightful opportunity to sit down with Eric Guth 4Z1UG, author and producer of the "QSO Today" series of podcasts. We had a very pleasant conversation, which I enjoyed immensely. Eric deemed it worthwhile enough to turn into a podcast which you can find it at

This is a fantastic site. Since our QSO, I have spent many hours listening to Hams of note, such as Pete Julian N6QW, Chuck Adams K7QO, Budd Drummond W3FF, Steve Galchutt WG0AT, and others. There are a lot more.

How I was selected to join this group, I'll never know. But I can tell you that I look forward to each new episode that Eric comes out with. Eric's guests span the wide spectrum of Amateur Radio interests. If there's something about Amateur Radio that intrigues you, odds are Eric has spoken with someone about it, or will be, in the near future.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Giving back to Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio, without a doubt, is the world's greatest hobby. It allows you to talk to like minded radio operators around the world, for free (once you've paid for the equipment!), anytime, anywhere. It provides hours of relaxing fun (ragchews), exciting fun (contesting, DX), frustrating fun (contesting, DX), exhilarating fun (SOTA, IOTA, DXpeditions) and even gratifying fun (public service communications).

And one of the unique things about Amateur Radio is that the participants who recognize this are particularly selfless. They go out of their way to "spread the wealth" and entice others into the hobby - perpetuating it for years to come. There are many examples of this, and I think it's something a lot of Hams don't even notice or perhaps take for granted. And it's a lot more common than many of us realize - when you really take the time to think about it.

The Internet, once thought of as "The End" of Amateur Radio, has actually become its best friend. It has given Amateur Radio a renewed breath of fresh air and has given Amateur Radio ops around the world an international "clubhouse" where they can meet, greet and share "war stories" with each other in a way never possible before. Think of all the things that are available to us now that we never had before:

Blogs -  Have an niche interest in Amateur Radio? Look it up on Google. Undoubtedly, some Ham somewhere has started a blog about it, where they are willing to share information about their special passion, in depth.

Podcasts - Podcasts provide hours of listening entertainment.  Podcasts such as QSO Today by Eric Guth 4Z1UG, or 100 Watts and a Wire by Christian Cudnik K0STH and Kair Allen WY7YL are not only fun to listen to, but you'll undoubtedly learn a thing or two in the process.

Videocasts - Ham Radio video series such as Ham Nation, the various live streams brought to us by W5UKB and the plethora of videos on YouTube are like having Ham Radio TV available to us 24/7, 365 days a year.

E-zines and E-books - There are many out there. But the ones that stick out in my mind are the K9YA Telegraph, which is an excellent magazine type publication by any standard.  Also out there are E-books, such as "Solder Smoke" which is available through, as well as a particularly entertaining book, "Worlds Best Hobby" by Dave Bell W6AQ, also available through

Training materials - The "No Nonsense" instructions manuals by Dan Roamnchik KB6NU, which are available online have helped many a new Ham earn their very first license or upgrade to a higher class license.

E-mail reflectors - This is where the average "Joe Ham" can post his ideas and thoughts. I can't tell you how many invaluable tips and ideas I have received from e-mail reflectors. Yes, there's also a lot of garbage to wade through, but if you think about it, e-mail reflectors are like having "Hints and Kinks" with you all the time.

The opportunities to give back to the hobby are limitless. It enriches the hobby and helps to perpetuate it, and the beauty of it is that a lot of Hams give back without even realizing it. Many people consider "The Golden Age" of Amateur Radio to be in the 50s and 60s. Years in the future, when we have had the opportunity to look back, I think the "Golden Age of Amateur Radio" will be what we are experiencing right now.

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

Thursday, October 08, 2015

They ARE attempting a comeback, after all.

I'm sure many of you got the same email from Heathkit, either yesterday or early this morning. I had to admit that I thought it was going to be another one of those "We're still coming back!" emails, but this one had some substance.

It looks like the initial offerings are a table AM radio as well as some parts for already existing Heathkit products, namely the HW8, as well as their weather instruments.

Everything can be found here:

Obviously, it's a small fledgling offering, but every journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.  So before we make any harsh judgments, let's all take a deep breath, wish the new "Heathkit" well, and see how this all shakes out.

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

Sunday, October 04, 2015

All certificated out.

I got all the 2015, and about ten remaining 2014 (sigh) Skeeter Hunt certificates enveloped and addressed. I will buy stamps tomorrow and will get them in the mail this week. Hopefully, that will be as early as Tuesday. I think I will be able to get away with two 1st Class stamps on each domestic certificate. Before inserting a certificate in an envelope, I put each one in a manila file folder first, in order to prevent the certificates from becoming bent or folded. I'll have to weigh one on the Post Office scale, but I think each is under two ounces.

The California QSO Party seemed to be all the rage on the bands this weekend. If I had a nickel for each "CQ P" that I heard this weekend, I'd be a rich QRPer. I worked VP2MLJ on both 10 and 15 Meters this weekend, both times with QRP power. I think the "LJ" at the end of my callsign may have been good for a few extra Watts.

I listened for the Chesterfield Island DXpedition, and actually heard them on 30 Meters this morning. They were too weak to work, and the DX Cluster said they were only working EU stations anyway, so.......

I am thinking that this may be another DXpedition where my best chances are going to come shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset. Hopefully, I will get them in the log, but if not, life will go on with nary a hiccup.

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

Saturday, October 03, 2015

A shameless plug that worked

About a week ago, I received this e-mail in my G-mail account from Scott N0HOT. I don't check my G-mail account on a daily basis, so I didn't discover this until yesterday:

As a Morse Code fan, I thought this was pretty nifty! I don't plug may people's products on this blog, but I thought this was neat enough to warrant an exception.  I guess I'm like Dan KB6NU, in that I consider myself a CW Geek. And for 99 cents, it's not like it's going to break the bank or anything - right?

So I think I'm going to pop on in to the iTunes store (if I can ever remember what the heck my Apple password is) and will purchase this little app.

Well played, Scott. Well played, indeed.

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stormy weather

The Summer of 2015 will probably be remembered very fondly by most Central New Jerseyans. It never got blisteringly hot. It was never chilly to speak of, while at the same time, the thermometer broke the 100 F (37 C) mark only once or twice.

But it WAS dry. Very dry. The last serious rainfall that we got this Summer was Field Day Weekend (of course). Since Field Day, you can probably count the number of days that it has rained on both your hands, and still have a finger or two left over.

Lawn mowing was sporadic. During a normal year, that's a weekly chore. This summer, there were stretches of weeks before mowing became necessary. My lawn is crunchy in spots, bare in a few, and green in others. The trees have been dropping leaves early, due to stress from lack of rainfall. According to the weather people, as of right now, we are about 5 inches (13 cm) below where we should be in rainfall for the year.

And it looks like that's all about to change:

Say "Hello" to Hurricane Joaquin. He may be visiting us this weekend. As always, weather prediction is still more of an art than a science, but it's looking like a fair assumption that he will be bringing us a lot of rain, even if he downgrades to Tropical Storm. As it is, we're experiencing a rainy week. Joaquin might just be icing on the cake. Come next Tuesday, we may have received a drought busting 5+ inches of rain.

The ARRL has announced that the Hurricane Net has already been activated. The Simulated Emergency Test is due to be held this coming weekend. Maybe it won't be so "simulated" after all. Our fingers are crossed that we will not be experiencing another Sandy like result, where power was out for five days.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bless me Holy Father, for I have sinned .......

Yes, Holy Father, I had to resort to picking up the microphone in order to work the Special Event stations commemorating your visit to the United States. Oh, the humanity!

I know, Holy Father, I am ashamed and shocked too. But no matter how long I tuned, there were no CW stations to be found, so I had to dig out my microphone so that I could work K2P and WM3PEN on 40 Meters.

From here on, I promise to go to back on the narrow bandwidth path. Holy Father, if you have a few spare moments, would you please tell those fine Amateur Radio ops who are there in Philadelphia with you to start pounding some brass?

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

THAT would have been nice!

17 Meters was nice during lunchtime. I worked YU65GMN, which is in Serbia. I am wondering if with the "65" in the call sign, if this wasn't some kind of special event station.

Then I worked NP3CW a little farther up the band. I've worked Julio a couple of times before, and I just wanted to let him know his signal was loud.

The catch of the day would have been Madagascar. 5R8UI was very loud, and this may have been the first time I've ever heard Madagascar on the air, if memory serves me correctly. Even though he was very loud, my 5 Watts and my Buddistick were not equal to the task at hand ...... this time. Perhaps if I had more time, I would have snagged them. But not today.

So, what's life without goals, anyway?

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Worked a QRP Celebrity

I spent a good portion of lunchtime trying to bust the pileup for T46X on 17 Meters.

No dice today, and that's a bit disappointing. Usually, NJ to Cuba is "easy-peasey-lemon-squeezey", but there's 8 days left to work them.  Maybe I'll have better luck from home with the "big antennas".

After T46X signed QRT, I still had some time to kill, so I went on down the road to the 20 Meter QRP Watering Hole environs. There I heard K7TQ calling CQ.  Randy K7TQ and I have worked many, many times before in the various QRP Sprints. Over the years, it's never been more than that, though, so I jumped at the opportunity.

We were both 449 and fighting QSB, so it wasn't a bona fide ragchew, but it was pleasant and (very) cool, nonetheless. Randy was working with 1 Watt to a Yagi at the 60' (18 Meters) level. We had good enough conditions to exchange weather reports and for Randy to tell me how he participated in the Salmon Run last weekend as a mobile station.

Randy Foltz K7TQ is one of the what I-consider-to-be "QRP Celebrities".  He is extremely well known throughout the QRP community and he appears in just about every QRP Sprint and contest that there is.  It was a pleasure to exchange a little bit more than the usual "559 ID 5W / 559 NJ 5W".  K7TQ is one of those iconic call signs that just about every active QRPer recognizes right away.

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

NAQCC Anniversary celebration in October

The North American QRP CW Club (NAQCC) will be celebrating its 11th anniversary the week of October 12-18 with some fun on-air activities.

Special event stations N1A, N2A, N3A, … N0A will be on the air from all over the United States, and special certificates and QSL cards will be available for these contacts. The stations will be operating CW at QRP power levels and will be announced on our special spotting page ( ) in almost real-time. (You do not need to be QRP but we encourage you to give it a try.) 

On Tuesday evening of that week (0030-0230Z Oct 13) we will have our usual monthly sprint but with the bonus that all NAQCC members who participate will be automatically entered into a drawing for some great prizes. 

More detailed information about our anniversary celebration can be found in our September newsletter at . Information about the NAQCC, including a membership application (it’s free), can be found at .

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Worked three during lunchtime

Which hasn't happened in a while. Could Ol' Sol be coming back to himself?

1) KA4CLM - Arn in Live Oak, FL - but the 20 Meter QSO got busted up by QSB.

2) S57S - Alex in Slovenia - 579 to him, 559 to me on 17 Meters

3) AB7RW - County Hunter in Iowa. I'm not a County Hunter, but just joined the pileup to see if I could bust it. I did.

I wanted to work Serge EW1TZ in Belarus on 17 Meters, but he wasn't hearing me. Funny, he was stronger that Alex in Slovenia who heard me first try.  Funny stuff, this QRP DX is.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

RFTB - meh.

Only six QSOs here in the first hour, but RBN is hearing me:

More activity would be nice.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Going retro

Thanks to Bob W3BBO, I have a line on acquiring a Drake 2-NT, which was my Novice transmitter.

Last weekend, Bob and a friend went to a meeting of the Lake Erie Boatanchors, and spotted one.  He knows I have been looking to get my hands on one, so he got the owner's contact information. We have been corresponding back and forth and it looks like I may purchase it soon.
The next question will be - what to use as a receiver?  As mentioned before, I had a Heathkit HR-1680, but the prices I have been seeing on used ones are a bit more than I would like to spend.
Any suggestions for a decent Novice receiver of the 60s or 70s that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg?
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1st lunchtime DX in two weeks!

This week is the week that I refer to as "Hell Week" at work.  One week, every month, we do inventory at all of the 40+ remote locations that the company owns, nationwide. We also do disposals at the same time. I'm the one who coordinates and schedules the technicians doing the inventories. I also arrange for either the shipment or pickup of old outdated computer and networking equipment to go to a recycling facility. I also have to examine and sign off on each inventory, a time consuming process.

We accomplish this by breaking up the sites over three days - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Needless to say, those days are hectic and lunch is eaten at the desk, in order to be available for telephone calls, from both technicians and trucking companies Today was the first day this week that I have been able to take a breath and the first day that I was able to make it out to the Jeep for some lunchtime QRP.

The bands seemed to be inactive - not dead, as I was hearing some signals - but not much activity. Then, on 17 Meters, at about 18.072 MHz, I heard a very loud JW/OX5M. I knew that OX is Greenland, and I was pretty sure the JW prefix was Svalbard. In any case, he was 599 at peaks with QSB taking him as low as 579 at times.

This was one of those times when I immediately got the gut feeling that "5 Watts will be enough."  Since there wasn't all that much other activity (at least that I was hearing), I decided to stay with him until he was in the books.

It didn't take long. Mia was running the pileup (split, of course) with great skill, answering a call and then moving slightly up after each - eventually running the "racetrack pattern".  I absolutely love when DX stations do this, as I feel it gives the QRPer a better than average shot of busting the pileup.  In this case, it becomes a matter of figuring out the pattern, placing yourself on the right frequency and then carefully timing your call. As someone else said, "Wits ...... not Watts."  Maybe that sounds a little too pretentious - how about "Technique ..... not Watts."? Or better yet, how about "Successfully getting in the way"?

I had Mia in the log within about 10 minutes worth of trying. Did I mention how he was managing the pileup with great skill?  Not only that, but he was also giving out his callsign VERY frequently. How many times have you run across the pileup, only to have to wait agonizing minutes for the DX to give out their call - only to find out it's someone you have worked recently, or perhaps it's not anything you particularly want to chase at the moment?

I have no idea what Mia was using up there on Svalbard, but his signal was terrific and this image from Reverse Beacon Network bears that out.

Thanks, Mia, for your great ears, patience and skill. You made my work day all that much nicer!

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

For every dark cloud, there's a silver lining.

I was hoping to go to the Delaware Valley Radio Association Hamfest this Saturday.  It's being held in a park not all that far away from where my sister lives. I know the area rather well and have been there before, so finding it would not have been a problem. The only Hamfest I have been to this year has been the Raritan Valley Radio Club, of which I am a member - so most of that Hamfest is spent working.

My darlin' wife Marianne reminded me that our son, Joey, has a dental appointment for 9:00 AM this Saturday.  She's working, so I am on the hook. I called in an attempt to re-schedule, but there are no open Saturday appointments until January.

Busy dentist!

So, while there will be no Hamfest for W2LJ this weekend, the consolation is that both QRP Afield and the NJ QSO Party are this weekend. As of this moment in time, the forecast is for clear and sunny skies with a high of 85F. The plan is to set up the Jackite in the backyard, hoist up at PAR END FEDZ and go to town (hopefully), for a while in the afternoon.

We've gotten some rain for the first time in a very long time, so lawn mowing may have to happen first - but after that, I should be a free man for the afternoon. 

Now all I need is for Ol' Sol to cooperate and not throw a temper tantrum, or flares, or x-rays, or whatever he's prone to throw.

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A grave injustice!

I began work on the 2015 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt certificates this morning, and I have discovered that I have committed a grave injustice to the following Hams:

Malcolm VE2DDZ
Eric N0YET
Peter KB1PBA
Tom AC7A
Flying Pigs International - Mid Tennessee Chapter WA4PIG
Bill VE3XT
Pickett AD4S

All of you are owed 2014 certificates that I just plumb forgot to mail out! I found them in the box that I keep the certificate paper in.  Rest assured they will go out and you will have them - very soon!  My utmost apologies, guys.

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