Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Interesting .........

I read this e-mail on the Flying Pigs QRP Club International e-mail reflector:

Do you need an excuse to take your radio to a park? I try to go out and operate portable as often as I can, but sometimes the motivation is the hardest part. So this year I decided to make my own motivation, and invite some friends.

Announcing:
The Portableradio.org Fall Operating Event!

The rules are the same as ARRL Field Day (with a few minor modifications). Use your favorite log program and submit a summary to a google form available on portableradio.org

The event happens on the same schedule as ARRL Field Day, except on October 21-22, 2017.
Maybe your club does something big for Field Day and you’d like to try something different. Maybe you’ve got a different location you want to test out. Maybe it’s just too darn hot in the middle of the summer where you are. Whatever your reason, join us for the Portableradio.org Fall Operating Event on October 21-22, 2017.

This is a new event, so if you play please submit your summary sheet. The submission link will go live on portableradio.org closer to the event. Results will be posted as soon as possible and updated weekly until the log submission deadline (one month after the event), when they are considered final.

Check out portableradio.org for more details.
73,
N0ECK

At that time of the year up here in the Northeast, this might not be for the feint of heart, as it can get really cold towards the end of October, especially overnight. But then again, sometimes we get a late Indian Summer. Like any Amateur Radio event, participation is the key.  If they can get enough people out to participate, it may grow in the next few years.  If not, and participation is low, well ............ but why dwell on the negatives?

I wish them the best of luck!

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Anudder QRP Event!

As I mentioned yesterday, this weekend is the NJ QSO Party. While that's not a strictly QRP event, I plan to participate as a QRP station.  For those QRPers living outside of NJ, or for those who do reside in NJ, but have no interest in the QSO party ......... I have an event for you!

This Saturday is also the New England QRP Club's annual event QRP Afield.

The rules can be found here - http://www.newenglandqrp.org/wordpress/afield/


Of course, this is another event that gives a better multiplier for those operating outdoors with portable antennas, so get on the air and have fun!

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

NJ QSO Party

The NJ QSO Party is next weekend. I'd really like to participate this year, QRP of course.


Over the years, the NJ QSO Party has withered away, almost to the brink of extinction. The Burlington County Amateur Radio Club has done yeoman's work towards reversing that decline. Participation seems to be growing, and I hope to add to that this year with some operating this coming Saturday.

Sunday looks sketchy, but I think I can fit in some time on Saturday.  Check that, I will MAKE some time to fit it in on Saturday, even if it's just 2 to 4 hours.

For the rules and particulars, you can follow this link - http://www.k2td-bcrc.org/njqp/njqp_rules.html

Hope to hand out "599 MIDD" to all of you this coming Saturday!

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Situational awareness

This does indeed seem to be an active year for increased Tropical disturbances. Last week Harvey did his number on the Gulf Coast and this week, Irma seems to be determined to wreak havoc too, albeit in another direction. While Irma's path seems a surety for Florida, where she will go after that is still any one's guess.


A certain "anyone", for whom I have tremendous respect is Joe Bastardi. Joe used to be with AccuWeather, but has since moved on.  I'm not sure if AccuWeather ever sufficiently recovered from losing Joe.  His ability to predict hurricane movement and behavior is uncanny. Granted, he's not always right, but he's been correct more often than not. What he came out with on Twitter yesterday, unnerved me.

Joe remarked that so far, the path that Irma is taking is remarkably close to the path taken by Hurricane Donna in September of 1960.


Hurricane Donna is one of my vaguest childhood memories.  I was only three when she traveled up the East coast, but I remember, in particular, how worried my mother was about the impending storm. Kids pick up on their parent's worries; and I was no different. To date, Hurricane Donna is the second strongest storm to visit New Jersey. Numero Uno is Hurricane Sandy, and I have no desire, whatsoever, to live through that again.

So what do you do? A hurricane's path is never a certainty. Just about anything can change it - ocean temperature, winds aloft in the atmosphere, competing high and low pressure systems further ashore. But you CAN plan for a direct hit, even if it doesn't occur. It's way better to be prepared than not.

So, for all my friends living up and down the east coast, this may be old hat for you - but if it's not, here are some tips from the National Hurricane Center and FEMA:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php

https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

http://hurricanesafety.org/prepare/hurricane-safety-checklists/

And from an Amateur Radio standpoint, have those HTs and spare batteries charged up and ready to go. Have your personal Go Kits stocked, packed and ready to go.  For those of you who are into portable HF ops, have those packed and ready to go. If you have a generator for your home, NOW is the time to gas it up and power it up to make sure it works.

To all my readers who are CERT members - remember, even if you are not called out by your respective Office of Emergency Management, you have been trained and are expected to care of yourself and your family and those in your immediate neighborhood.  Do what you can, without putting yourself in danger, and you just might be able to spare your town's First Responders some time and resources.

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

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

An addition

I was surprised to come home from work last Friday evening to see a small package sitting on the front steps.  It was small, but yet a little too big to fit into the mailbox. I haven't purchased anything lately, so I figured it was something for either my wife Marianne, or perhaps for my daughter Cara, or my son Joseph.

But no, it was addressed to me; and when I looked at the return address, I saw that it was a package from my good friend and Ham Radio mentor, W3BBO. I opened the package like a kid opening presents on Christmas morning.  When I opened the box I was able to detect a whiff of "fresh paint" smell. Oh goody, a homebrew project!


It turned out to be a home made DC Voltage monitor, manufactured from a voltage display that Bob had picked up at a local Hamfest, near his home in Erie, PA.  We either spoke about this topic, and my need for such a device during one of our weekly Saturday chats, or Bob is a talented mind reader! Wow!  Adding mind reading to his impeccable talents as a master builder / home brewing craftsman is quite the combination.

This is just the addition that I was looking to cobble up myself for my portable ops battery box.  I know that I can monitor the input battery voltage on the main screen of my KX3; but I prefer having an off board meter.  I can keep a tab on things when I use my batteries as well as when I charge them.

This ammo box, that I purchased from Dick's Sporting Goods holds my PowerWerx deep cycle battery as well as a smaller 5Ah SLA.  The two plastic boxes hold a battery charger and the associated cables that I need to connect these babies up to the KX3.  Now Bob's DC Voltage Meter is a welcome addition that will reside in the same container.

Yesterday, Labor Day was spent performing CERT duties for our town. We host a parade in the morning, a big "lawn party" on the grounds of the Middle School in the afternoon and then a fireworks display in the evening.  Our duty was to aid the Police Dept with crowd control duties so that no onlookers would get hurt.

There was a break between the lawn party and the fireworks, so I went home to grab some dinner and relax for a bit. I grabbed my tablet to check out e-mail and to take a quick look at our town's Facebook page to see what the reactions were to the parade.  Most were positive; but a couple were quite negative.  To the naysayers, I suggested that perhaps they should join the Public Celebrations Committee and help make the parade better next year.  You would think that I had just announced that Santa Claus had been shot dead by the Easter Bunny!

It's really sad that often, the people who complain the loudest are also the least willing to roll up their sleeves to help make things better.  My Mom always said that there are some people who just aren't happy unless they're miserable.  I think she was right.

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

Monday, September 04, 2017

2017 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Results


The results of the 2017 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt results are in!  Congratulations to the following:

N5GW - First Place Overall
AB9CA - Second Place Overall
N3AQC - Third Place Overall
N0SS - Fourth Place Overall
K9DXA - Fifth Place Overall

To view the entire 2017 Scoreboard, please go here.
To view the 2017 Soapbox comments and photos, please go here.

Once again, thanks to all who signed up and participated - and special thanks to the NJQRP Club for supporting this annual Summertime QRP Event. Without ALL of you, sponsor and participants, none of this would be possible.

It is our fondest hope that the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will continue to bring you fun and a good time well into the future!

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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Say it ain't so, Joe!

As Elecraft announces the availability of their KXPA1500, full legal power amplifier, it has become apparent that, as you peruse through their Order Page, that the Elecraft K1 has gone the way of the Dodo bird - it is extinct.


You can still acquire some of the accessory band modules, the autotuner , the noise blanker and the back light modification kit; but that's about it.  I would expect that declining sales; plus the problems associated with purchasing "through hole" components are what led to the demise of the K1.

In the back of mind, I knew the day would come; but it's still a shock to see it become a reality. The K1 was the first transceiver kit that I purchased from Elecraft - in fact, the above photo is "my" K1. I very reluctantly sold it in order to afford my KX3.  I don't regret having the KX3 as it's my dream rig; but I sure wish I could have found a way to afford it without selling my K1.

So if you have a K1, give it a pat on the head for me tonight.

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

Yesterday was very good day!

Once again, we were blessed with picture perfect weather for our Annual K2ETS Club Picnic.


The food was excellent and the company was excellent and the day was excellent. If you look to the bottom right of the photo, you'll see Harold laying in the grass.  He was basking in the glow of the limelight yesterday as just about everyone stopped over to say "Hi" and to pet him and give him attention - and even a few treats.  I took him for a long walk and he must have enjoyed the day too, because he slept like the proverbial brick last night.

I won the picnic door prize!  Me, who hardly ever wins anything!  I won a Baofeng 2M/220 MHz dual band handheld.  My Wouxon 220 MHz HT, which I had purchased a few years ago, died recently. This is a welcome addition and I can keep tabs on our 220 MHz repeater.

But the best surprise of the day was this.


I arrived at the park early, around 9:15 AM in order to help out with setting up for the day. After sweeping out the pavilion where picnic tables were and then washing them down, it was time to put up the antenna.  Every year we throw a wire up into the trees and we bring along the club HF rig for anyone who wants to operate.  When it came time to put up the antenna, Dave KC2YRC said to me, "Come over here, we have a gift for you." I must have looked confused. He presented me with a new antenna launcher that he and his brother Dave W2OIL had made for me.  They even painted my call sign on it. To say I was gratefully overwhelmed is an understatement.

Flash back two years, when both Dan and Dave were at set up for SPARC's participation in the Rookie Roundup at Putnam Park in South Plainfield.  I was going to put up an EFHW into one of the trees; only to discover that the air chamber in my Joplin ARC antenna launcher had cracked on me when I must have dropped it at some point.  I didn't even realize it until I tried to use it that day. I ended up supporting the wire with my 31 foot Jackite pole.

Fast forward to yesterday, when they presented me with a launcher of their design with a used METAL (translate that to "unbreakable") oxygen bottle serving as the air chamber. In addition, they gave me a fancier (and much smoother) air release lever and they also installed an air pressure gauge so that I don't have to rely on the pump's gauge.

I couldn't thank them enough!  That they thought of me and had me in the back of their minds meant so much to me. These two guys, Dave W2OIL and Dan KC2YRC are the salt of the earth and have hearts of pure gold. They would do anything for anyone. They are just THE best and it is an honor and a privilege to be their friend.

Anyway, after returning home, I just had to try it out.  I went to an empty field and pumped it up to about 20 LBS of pressure and let the weight fly.  Because the air chamber is a bit smaller than the chamber of the Joplin launcher, the weight didn't fly as far.  A second shot, with the chamber filled up to about 35 LBS psi easily sent the weight over a  (my guesstimate) 70 foot tree.  That smoother release lever allows me to hold the unit steadier during launch, better enabling me to send the line where I want it to go.

By the way, during the picnic, the club station K2ETS was reasonably busy throughout the afternoon. Talking with some of the other fellows, I discovered that we had worked several Kansas QSO Party stations, as well as stations from Germany, Brazil, Georgia (the country, not the state) and Oman. Not bad for 100 Watts to an off center fed dipole sloping from about 15 feet at the low end to about 55-60 feet at the high end.

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

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Got 'er done

I feel badly saying this, considering what's transpiring in Texas - the weather here today was gorgeous! What a beautiful day! Sunny, with a high of 80F later in the afternoon and low humidity. Perfect for changing out the coax on the W3EDP.

And that's exactly what I did; and it got done without incident or mishap. I used the 46 foot stub that I had made for Field Day for 80 Meters. After the cable run part was done, I was able to cut about 10 feet off that.  I soldered on a brand spankin' new PL259 and was in business.

I had other things to accomplish after that, so I wasn't on the air for long. I called CQ at the QRP Watering Holes on 40 and 20 Meters without result, but the Reverse Beacon Network let me know my signal was being heard. Then I listened to a ragchew on 17 Meters for a while before pulling the plug and getting to work on other things.

Both HF antennas now have brand new, low loss coax runs. Hot dog!

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

1st test was a success

Before I begin, a shout out to all my friends in the path of Hurricane Harvey. Evacuate if you can, hunker down if you can't. Stay safe and don't take unnecessary chances. My prayers are with you.



Harvey as seen from the International Space Station

Harvey as seen from the Seawall.cam in Galveston, TX

Last night was the first chance that I had to get on the air after switching out the coax on the Butternut. As I had mentioned in the Skeeter Hunt post, we were away last week on a college open house visit to Virginia. Between the "before trip" planning and the aftermath that always occurs when you get back home, I was radio silent.

I thought that it would be a good idea to jump into the 20 Meter QRP Foxhunt. I haven't participated in it much at all this Summer, maybe only one or two sessions. I figured this would be a good a test as any.

When I got home from picking up my daughter Cara from high school Color Guard practice, I went down the basement a hooked up the coax to the rig and plugged in the power strips. These were all still disconnected since we had left. Someday I'll tell you the story of the routine my wife and I go through before leaving the house on an extended trip. Talk about OCD kicking in!

Anyway, I got everything plugged in, turned on and got the laptop to start the laborious procedure of booting up. I flipped the KX3 to "ON" and set the band to 20 Meters. I put the ear buds on and was greeted by ......... quiet. The background noise was lower than I was accustomed to.  I thought maybe something was wrong. Had I possibly not soldered a PL259 correctly?  But then I thought, "No, when I did the quick listen that Sunday, I heard stuff".  So I twisted the dial and before I could even turn it a quarter of a turn, N0UR's signal came skyrocketing out of the background.  So much quiet and then, "BAM!".  It was like seeing a black lump of coal on a pristine white field of snow, or watching a firework blaze brightly against a dark sky. The contrast between Jim's signal and the lack of background noise was stark. I'm sure it was mostly just band conditions, but it was amazing, nonetheless. I got him in the log on the first try, and then it was off to hunt for K4BAI.

Since I found N0UR, I knew I had to go to the other side of 14.060 MHz to find him as the Foxes always (most always) split up in to a High Fox and a Low Fox. So I twiddled and I listened, then I twiddled and listened some more. Finally, I heard a signal, but it wasn't John - it was a familiar call, one of the Hounds chasing him.  Knowing how K4BAI operates (textbook and professionally) I tuned down exactly 1 kHz.  There he was; but just the faintest of a faint whisper.  My first reaction was that perhaps it was only going to be Jim N0UR in the log, but I decided to sit and listen for a bit. It wasn't like I had anywhere to go or anything else to do. Well, actually I did, but putting the dishes in the dishwasher could wait for a while.

John's signal started to increase, slowly but surely. I thought at first that it was propagation changing and maybe that was part of it, but then I remembered that John owns a beam and he must be turning it North. Eventually, his signal rose up to about 569. Nowhere as loud as N0UR, but surely good enough to make a QSO!  I gave John a call and again - an answer on the first try.  Two Foxes in the books for the night.

I know this itty-bitty sample is nowhere big enough to let me really evaluate how much a change in the coax has made. But so far it seems to be working well. Maybe it's just like getting your prescription changed in your eyeglasses.  At first you notice the big change and then as you get used to it, the new prescription becomes the new "normal".  I'll be more than happy if this perceived hearing improvement becomes the new normal in my shack.

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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

N3FJP's AC Log - Version 6 available

Although I use Log4OM as my logging program for my Amateur Radio logbook, I do own a registered copy of AC Log. As the Trustee of NJ2SP, I use it as the official logbook program for the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club.


"Why?", you might ask, "It seems kind of stupid to keep two logbooks on two separate programs."

Because of Scott's program's popularity, there are other AC Log users in the club so I keep a current N3FJP generated ADIF in the club's Dropbox file folder so that they all can have copies of the logbook, should they desire.  And as universal as ADIF files are supposed to be, I have found that ADIFs work absolutely the best when you load one onto another computer that uses the same logging program as what generated it.

It was announced yesterday, that the newest version of AC log was made available for download. According to Scott, N3FJP, these are the details regarding the new version:

Enhancements include:

- You can optionally display digital modes in the DX Spots list based on the frequency of the DX Spot (Click Settings > DX Spotting > Configure > More Filtering > Display Digital Modes to enable). You'll also need to download the latest BandPlan.txt file by clicking File > Download Country Files from AD1C.

- AC Log now uses ARRL's LoTW User's list to identify LoTW users (an L is placed in the DX Spots list). Click eLogs > LoTW Users > ID LoTW Users to enable the feature. If you already have enabled the feature in AC Log 5.9, AC Log 6.0 will detect that you don't have the new LoTW user list on start up and download it for you with a single click.

- The last LoTW upload date of the station contacted is optionally displayed when tabbing from the call field. (Click eLogs > LoTW > ID LoTW Users on Call Tab). If the station you are working has a recent upload date, that will give you a better sense if he is really active with LoTW or not.

- Added FT8 to the mode drop down lists.

- Ability to update mode drop down lists without requiring a new release.

So if you have a registered copy of AC Log, you can get the download for free by visiting his Website - http://www.n3fjp.com/index.html Just go to the "About Us" tab on the header and choose "Recent News" from the drop down menu and it will take you to the newest release.

As I said above, personally, I'm a confirmed Log4OM user. It suits my needs so very well. I like it's looks, it's feel and they way it operates. It has all the features that I could hope for and I've become super comfortable with it. That being said, logging software is a very subjective matter. What works for me may very well not work for you. In any regard, AC Log by N3FJP is an excellent program as well.  I would highly recommend it if you're not satisfied with whatever you're currently using. It's highly intuitive and easy to use; and if you've never used a computerized logging program before, AC Log might just be what you're looking for.

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One down, one to go

Yesterday was the day of the Great American Eclipse.  I wasn't thinking too much about it; as I was at work, where my desk happens to be in a room with no windows. I wasn't anticipating much of a view. Around 2:44 PM, when totality for NJ reached the peak of approximately 75%, I wandered out to the lobby, where I saw a bunch of people just outside the building, looking at the sun with eclipse glasses, cell phone cameras and the like.

It just so happened that there was a light to medium cloud cover which totally obscured the Sun, at times. The silver lining to these clouds was that, when they got thin enough, you could see the Sun/Moon do their tango for a few seconds without even squinting or straining your eyes in any fashion. So I got to see the great eclipse of '17. 

I don't much remember the 1979 eclipse; but I do remember the 1972 eclipse pretty vividly.  I set up the 4" refracting telescope that I owned at the time, to do a projected view onto a white screen. I took pictures and I know that I still have those, somewhere - probably mixed in with all my Apollo program ephemera and miscellania.

The post title has to do with antennas, once again. The "One Down, One to Go" title means that this Saturday, I am hoping to replace the coax to the W3EDP antenna. This is a much shorter run than the Butternut.  The W3EDP is anchored by a second floor window which is more or less directly in line with the window that serves as my entry point to the shack.  I am anticipating that a run of coax probably no longer than about 30 feet will be required.  I am looking to replace the RG-8X with the LM-213 that I purchased to serve as coax stub filters for Field Day 2017.  I figure I can always buy more coax for a replacement filter next year. In the meantime, the band pass filters that I ordered from QRP Labs arrived yesterday.  I will build those over the Winter and will combine them with stub filters, if necessary, next Field Day. With the W3EDP coax replaced, both antennas should be set for the next decade or two barring any critter damage.

Oh, and by the way, Hans Summers has announced that the QCX transceiver kit, which I originally posted about on August 3rd, is now ready for ordering and shipping. Here's the link, so you don't have to scroll all the way back to August 3rd: https://shop.qrp-labs.com/qcx

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


Monday, August 21, 2017

2017 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt - my sincerest apologies!

Thank you to all who participated in the 2017 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt yesterday. So far, from the log summaries and soapbox comments that I have received, it would seem you all had fun despite the crummy band conditions.

I apologize for not being able to participate and work many of you this year. I was stuck on I-95 yesterday for almost 10 hours, returning home from Virginia where we took our son Joseph on a college visit. I thought I might get home in time, early enough to catch the last part of the Hunt; but it was not to be.

Please remember that log summaries and soapbox comments are due NO LATER than Midnight, Sunday Night September 3rd.  You can send them to w2lj@arrl.net. Each log summary received will be answered by a confirming e-mail - so if you don't hear from me within a day or two, please try again!

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Don't try this at home!

Before I go into today's blog post, I have to mention that for Catholics, today is the Feast Day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, SP3RN. St. Max was a Franciscan Friar who was interned at Auschwitz during WWII.  After three prisoners escaped, the Camp Commander responded by sending 10 prisoners to their deaths by starvation.  One prisoner plead for his life as he had a wife and children.  Upon hearing this, Fr. Max asked to take that man's place.  His request was granted and he was the last of the 10 to survive. Maximilian was injected with carbolic acid to end his earthly life on August 14th, 1941.

Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Catholic Hams have fondly and unofficially taken St. Max on as our patron saint, the patron of Amateur Radio operators, worldwide.

St. Max, ora pro nobis!

They say that confession is good for the soul - so I will confess. Yesterday, I replaced the coax running out to my Butternut HF9V.  The coax has been there for umpteen years since I put the vertical in place in 1999, about a year before my son Joey was born. It's been a while now that I've wanted to replace the coax and last Autumn, I purchased some 9913 from DX Engineering, My good intention was to run that coax out to the antenna before last Winter began.  You know what they say about good intentions.

Yesterday, the weather for the chore was about as near perfect as it gets. It was sunny, warm, but not hot, with a slight breeze and low humidity.  I began by putting on the work gloves and pulling up the old coax. It's been such a long time since I put that coax down; and I was mortified by what I discovered.

Connected to the Butternut's matching stub was a barrel connector and then a 100 foot run of LM-213.  At the end of the 100 foot run was another barrel connector and a 25 foot run of some more LM-213. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough - there was yet another barrel connector and a final 25 foot run of RG-8X leading directly to the operating bench.

What the heck was I thinking?!?  This was coax hack job of the century! I still can't believe that I did this; and if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that I could do such a sloppy, piecemeal job. The only thing that I can think of was I was so tapped out after purchasing the Butternut, that I just used whatever coax I had on hand to get the job done. 

All those barrel connectors! All that loss!  I must have had an ERP of about 2.5 Watts! It seems a miracle that I made any QRP contacts at all, let alone all the DX and states I have worked with that cockamamie set up. I am truly amazed at what a lousy job I did - EXCEPT in one respect.

When I removed the electrical tape covering up those barrel connectors and their accompanying PL-259s, they were as shiny and new looking as Day One. And I owe that to an article I read somewhere, way back when, maybe it was on QRP-L.  When I made those connections, I first wrapped the coax and the connectors with electrical tape.  Then, I covered that with a layer of plumber's putty. The plumber's putty was followed by a final layer of electrical tape.  After some 18 years, the connections were bright, shiny and there was NO sign of any water intrusion, whatsoever. And considering the coax was laying on the ground through some very harsh Winters and at least three major Hurricanes, Floyd, Irene and Sandy, that's pretty darn good.

There was one section where the jacket of the LM-213 got chewed up pretty badly from lawn mower hits.  To prevent that, this time I elevated the coax as it ran along the back fence.


I used garden fencing stakes, spaced out at about 5 foot intervals and I cable tied the coax to the stakes to keep it off the ground and away from the angry blades of my coax eating lawn mower. Once I got to the chain link fence running along the side perimeter of the yard, I then cable tied the coax to the top tube.  My new run of one piece of 150 feet of  RG-9913 is safe and sound from gasoline powered lawn tools!  There's only one barrel connector, where the terminus of the coax meets the Butternut's matching stub. and you can see that little lump in the picture, above.  Now maybe I'll get a bit more of that precious 5 Watts into the antenna and out into the aether.

Later on, in the afternoon, after getting home from my monthly volunteer stint at the soup kitchen, I soldered on the PL-259 to the radio end of the coax.  I plugged it into the KX3 and was happy to see a VERY easy match made by the autotuner on all bands.  Maybe a 1/2 to one second "BRRRRP" by the relays in a few cases, and in the rest, there was no match needed at all.

There's peace of mind knowing that I now have a proper run of low loss coax out to my vertical.  I'm also going to change out the coax to the W3EDP.  That's a straight forward exchange, and I figure that as long as I'm doing one, I might as well do both. I'm happy to state that the coax currently running to the W3EDP is not a hack job conglomeration like what was running out to the vertical !

I'll NEVER do that again and like they say on all those shows on TV = "Don't try this at home!"

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least! (using good coax!)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

SOTA envious

I have to admit that I am more than "sorta" envious of those Hams who activate the SOTA summits. I look at photos like these from Steve WG0AT, and I'm just beside myself, admiring the beauty of the landscapes and the tenacity of those who go to these places.





Yeah, there are summits in New Jersey (EVERY state has a few), but they're nothing like these. Well, according to geologists that I have read, the Appalachians were once taller than the Himalayas at one point, but that was about a bajillion years ago. What we call mountains here on the East coast are mere hills compared to the Rockies. I've been fortunate enough to visit the Rockies and even come close to the Alps in Switzerland, so I can affirm that comparison.

Instead, with the limited time that I have to devote to portable ops (employed full time with a mortgage and two kids going off to college soon), I resort to POTA and NPOTA (when it was active) for my outdoor venues of operation.

Because those opportunities present themselves so seldom, I like to take the moment to enjoy the place that I am operating from. No long hikes to summits with beautiful vistas of multiple states present themselves to me; but in the parks that I do go to, I am surrounded by nature and beauty all the same. There's something special and wonderful about being bathed in sunshine and fresh air, and seeing trees, and listening to the sound of the breeze rustling through their leaves, while at the same time watching and listening to brooks, streams, rivers, wild life and what have you. Whether you're perched on a mountaintop or operating your QRP gear from a picnic table in the local city park, I would hope that all portable ops mavens take the time to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings and not dismiss that beauty for the tunnel vision of just chasing QSOs. Portable ops should be about way more than just a bunch of QSOs. Heck, I can do as much from my cinder-block-walled-in bunker of a basement shack.

Don't miss the forest for the trees!  Take the time to smell the roses. Take a moment to breathe deeply, enjoy the fresh air and Nature in all the glory of your surroundings! Life is precious - enjoy it and revel in the moment. And should you not make any QSOs, don't be disappointed. You had the opportunity to go and be somewhere that is beautiful, and that is far more precious than just making a few contacts on the radio.

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


Thursday, August 10, 2017

SEQP

Darn!  I'll be at work - maybe I can sneak out during lunch hour ........ http://hamsci.org/solar-eclipse-qso-party




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