Friday, January 24, 2020

A Shameless Plug

Check out the first header photo on the NJ Makers Day Website:

https://njmakersday.org/

I was quite surprised to see this, as well. This was brought to my attention by SPARC President Bill W2AOF. Our monthly business meeting on Wednesday was largely devoted to getting ready for this year's event.

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

If you have 'em - use 'em

This weekend is the CQ WW 160 Meter Contest - for the rules you can go here.

160 Meters presents a challenge for those of us who operate from small, suburban lots. Not a lot of real estate for full sized dipoles.

My W3EDP loads up on 160 Meters rather well with the aid of an antenna tuner and I've gotten out into the Midwest using QRP power levels. If I get the opportunity to get down to the shack this weekend, it might be an interesting exercise to make some QSOs and then map them to see just how well and where the W3EDP radiates to.

The problem I have is similar to what John K3WWP seems to be experiencing, if you keep up with reading his daily online diary. I also have horrific noise with my wire antennas in the evenings on both 80 and 160 Meters. I have not actively searched the neighborhood with a portable radio to possibly locate the problem. That is something I should do. There is a neighbor two doors down from me who has solar panels mounted on the roof. I am wondering if any inverters kick in during the evenings to convert stored DC to AC? Maybe that's what the problem is. The KX3's noise blanker and noise reduction circuity help somewhat, but they don't eliminate the interference.

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Interesting

Not Amateur Radio related in the strictest sense - but interesting, anyway:

https://wapo.st/2NT9c9k

A Washington Post article on plans to recover the radio apparatus used on the RMS Titanic.

"If carried to the surface, it could perhaps be restored to working order, RMS Titanic Inc. said, meaning “Titanic’s radio — Titanic’s voice — could once again be heard."

That would be one heckuva restoration job! After all these years under saltwater, I doubt there'd be much left of the original radio that would be recyclable.

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

Friday, January 17, 2020

This and that

During the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt last night (more on that later), I downloaded and installed Log4OM V2. The new version is a stand-alone version and can be run independently of Log4OM V1. In fact, if for some reason, you wanted to run both programs at the same time, there is nothing to stop you. They will not "talk" to each other, however. You would have to add contacts to each, if you wanted to maintain both.

My first impressions are very favorable. Installation was a snap and went without a hitch. Having used V1 for so many years, starting and configuring V2 was very intuitive. I stumbled around for a bit trying to find this or that, but a few "past practice" guesses got me where I needed to be with just a few mouse clicks.

Visually, V2 is very nice, well organized and is easy on the eyes. I think anyone who is looking for an easy to use, highly functional and aesthetically pleasing log program would do well to check out Log4OM V2.  From what I understand, V1 will be kept available for download on the Website, but updates and improvements have ceased.

The fact that I was able to install, configure and import my log into the new version should tell you all you need to know about my success in the Fox hunt last night. I got skunked. I did not expect to hear K2MAX in Oregon, here in NJ. I was not disappointed in that regard.

Tom KV2X was another story. He was loud for about the first 15 - 20 minutes and unfortunately, I did not score a pelt during that window. For the next hour, he was inaudible. With not even an ESP signal, the only way I knew where he was by the location of the Hounds calling him.

Then, with about 10 minutes left in the hunt, I heard him pop out of the noise and I started calling - furiously. He came back to me, and I sent my exchange several times, but the QSB was bad and I never got a confirmation. So I had my fingers crossed that I had made it into his log with only minutes to go. When he published his log to the e-mail reflector this morning, my hopes were dashed. W2LJ was not in there.

As the saying goes .......sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug. Last night was one of those squished, buggy times.

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Log4OM 2

Great news!

I have been using Log4OM by Daniele Pistollato,  IW3HMH for years now. I moved over from Ham Radio Deluxe when that started giving fits to the laptop that I was using, at the time. I have never gone back. Log4OM has been very easy for me to use. It is very intuitive and the learning curve was not long, at all.

Granted, I do not take advantage of all the bells and whistles. I do use it for all my logging needs. What I like most about it is that there is no subscription required (it's free!) and there IS an owner's manual that you can download. Uploading QSOs to eQSL and LOTW has been a snap.

Log4OM also maintains a Web presence with a forum, where you can get questions answered if you run into a problem - https://www.log4om.com/   Log4OM also maintains a presence on Facebook and twitter.

After many years of offering this fantastic product, Daniele and friends have just released Log4OM 2 - a new, updated version.

Facebook photo of Log4OM 2 uploaded by Gaetano Migliozzi

But better than me telling you all about the features of Log4OM, I heartily encourage you to visit their Website to see for yourself.  I think you will be more than pleasantly surprised.

Log4OM V2 was JUST released; and the past two evenings have been busy away-from-home ones for me. I can't wait to download the new version and get it running!

Thanks, Daniele and the Log4OM Team!

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


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A word to the wise ..... a Public Service announcement

I get notified with regard to all the comments left on the posts that appear on this blog.

I do NOT delete comments and opinions that disagree with my own - that would be in poor taste. The only exception would be comments that I deem to be inflammatory (and I think that's only happened once in 15 years of doing this.)

However, please note that I DO and WILL delete all comments that are not related to the post's contents, or are otherwise not Amateur Radio related. So all you folks out there trying to append comments about buying this service or buying this new gizmo, or "Please try my new product!" that are in no way germane to the contents of this blog or Amateur Radio - please don't even bother - they will be deleted. Save your time and energy.

To those of you who ARE marketing Amateur Radio products and services, I'd be happy to support and encourage your efforts, for the betterment of the hobby. Just please be prudent, honest and post in good taste.

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


Wednesday, January 08, 2020

On The Air

Many of you have probably heard that the ARRL has launched a new publication - "On The Air". This magazine is dedicated to / aimed at the "Beginner to Intermediate" Amateur Radio operator, in terms of experience.

ARRL members will be able to specify which print magazine they wish to receive - either "On The Air" or "QST". Both will be available to all ARRL members as digital editions. But hey, don't take my word for it - here it is right fro the horse's mouth:

01/07/2020

The premiere issue of ARRL’s On the Air magazine has left the printer and is on its way to member subscribers! The magazine should be in mailboxes within the next 10 days. On the Air is the newest ARRL member benefit to help new licensees and beginner-to-intermediate radio communicators navigate the world of amateur radio.

Eligible US-based members can elect to receive On the Air or QST magazine in print when they join or when they renew their ARRL membership. All members will be able to access digital editions of On the Air magazine.

The first digital issue of On the Air will be available beginning January 14, supported by a new version of ARRL’s digital magazine app. With one app, members will be able to access On the Air and QST.

Looks like there's a new app that I will be downloading onto my phone, soon.

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

Hope springs eternal

I guess for the QRP operator, it has to. I'm going to bore you guys with yet another Fox hunt post, but there's lessons to be learned - mostly by me.

Last night was the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt. Our two Foxes were Marty NR3Z in PA and Rick NK9G/7 in AZ.  Marty doesn't live all that far from the NJ/PA border, radio-wise, so I didn't expect to hear him - and I didn't.

Rick NK9G was a different story. He was weak (to me) all night. Mostly he was ESP.  I figured out where he was from the baying of his chasers. I knew he was there and I could make out his call sign and the occasional "QRZ" or "AGN?". Late in the hunt, for about ten to fifteen minutes, he rose to about a 229 / 339 level.  I called, furiously, to no avail. I went 0 for 2 last night - skunked.

Why? I don't know. Both Steve WX2S and Charles W2SH, two other NJ Hounds bagged Rick's pelt. Maybe South Plainfield is in an RF hole or something. Or maybe that first ridge of the Watchung hills blocked me - I am in their shadow. Not sure what it is, except that it was frustrating as all get out. For crying out loud, I just worked Paraguay the other day and I can't make it to Arizona?!?

But looking back on it, even though at the time it seemed and felt like a wasted night, in reality I WAS doing something that I love to do. Just because I wasn't successful at it doesn't nullify the effort or the experience. I think we (that should be "I") get too hung up on results sometimes.  I keep my eye on the destination too much, without looking at and enjoying the journey instead.

What's the twist on that old saying about fishing? "A bad day (night) at QRPing is better than a good day at work!" Forty years a Ham, and I still need to kick myself in the pants and remember that - often.

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

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Puerto Rico Earthquake

From the ARRL:

Strong Earthquake Shakes Puerto Rico, ARES Standing By

01/07/2020

A strong magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit Puerto Rico early on January 7 on the heels of a smaller magnitude 5.8 tremor a day earlier. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported widespread power outages after generating plants automatically activated protective shutdown systems following the earthquake. Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced urged citizens to remain calm.

“The entire government is active and in action,” Governor Vazquez said in a tweet. “I ask our people to remain calm and urge you to remain safe.” Government offices have been shut down for the day.

The director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, Víctor Huérfano, told The Associated Press that it’s been difficult to obtain reports of damage or injuries because communications are out over much of the island. Geologists had warned of additional seismic activity following the January 6 earthquake. Tremors have been occurring in some areas of Puerto Rico since December 28.

ARRL Puerto Rico Public Information Officer Angel Santana, WP3GW, said the earthquakes have damaged homes in communities including Guánica and Guayanilla, with aftershocks felt minutes later from today’s event. A tsunami advisory for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands was canceled minutes after being issued. Santana said the PREMA Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated.

Santana said VHF and UHF repeater systems having emergency power carried reports of power outages and other information. ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, told ARRL that no Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) activations have been necessary, as commercial telecommunication systems remain functional.

“The situation is scary, with houses, schools, and roads collapsing,” Resto said, with many structures — including a school and homes in Guánica — damaged.

********************************************************************************

Should any HF emergency frequencies become activated, please be sure to give them a wide berth.

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

That was fun!

Last night was the monthly Adventure Radio Society Spartan Sprint, and as I had promised myself, I got on the air for it. I only stayed on for the first half hour of the two hour long event. It was a long day at work, and as I am not a Spring chicken anymore, I was tired.

I did work four stations however, K4BAI on both 40 and 80 Meters, and KF0N, W5QLF and K3RLL all on 40 Meters. It was good to work Don K3RLL, as it's been a long time and he had a very good signal from his winter residence in Florida.

I was surprised at 80 Meters. It was QRN free last night. For the past few weeks I have been plagued during the Thursday night Fox hunts with an S7-S9 buzz saw kind of noise, right around 3.564 MHz. It was not there last night. Maybe because most of the neighborhood outdoor Christmas decor has been put away?  I'm not sure what was causing the racket, but I hope it stays away for good!

This evening is the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt, which I hope to participate in. I have a meeting at 7:00 PM and then at 8:00 PM starts the Jeopardy "All Time Greatest" Championship. I'd really like to see that. It runs for an hour and will be over at the start of Fox hunt time. Jeopardy is one of the few TV shows that I like to follow. Most of the time, if I watch TV at all, I'll catch a rerun of such shows as M*A*S*H, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, The Rifleman or JAG.

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

Sunday, January 05, 2020

OK, so it wasn't a portable op

but I did start 2020 off on the right foot by getting on the air this weekend!

Yesterday (Saturday) the HamAlert let me know that W2P was on 40 Meters again - just as I was heading downstairs to shut everything off as I was headed off to Mass. I decided to give them a call for an insurance QSO and got through on the first try. Got to Mass on time, too. Double woot!

Then this afternoon (Sunday) I went downstairs to see what I could find while Marianne went to her company's Holiday party.  I worked ZP/KC2RG in Paraguay, several CW Ops stations who are on the air commemorating the group's 10th anniversary and then Tom W4VHH at the 20 Meter QRP Watering Hole.  I've worked Tom before in NAQCC and Spartan Sprints. It was good to say "Hello"!

Speaking of the QRP Watering Holes:


It's becoming increasingly apparent that there has been a lack of respect, lately, for the QRP frequencies. I've been finding it to be so and I have been getting e-mails from folks wondering what's going on. We all know that no one "owns" any frequency or set of frequencies, but in the past there have been various Gentlemen's Agreements - we all recognized the QRP frequencies, the SKCC frequencies, the FISTS frequencies and so on, and so on.

While operating in the tiny slice of spectrum that was known to be QRP country, it seems that courtesy towards QRP operators seems to have been suffering a bit. Traffic nets, digital stations and other QRO stations have been coming close to the watering holes - many times just jumping in without so much as a "QRL"?

I guess the solution, if there CAN be a solution, is to get on the air and make more noise - even if that's QRP noise. So I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and pledge to get on the air even more often this year and occupy the QRP Watering Holes - whether that be for sprints, rag chews or what have you. Tomorrow is the first Monday of January. The ARS Spartan Sprint will be on the air in the evening, US time.

I will see you there.

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

Friday, January 03, 2020

Thank you, Delaware Valley Radio Assocation!

As I've stated here, before - I am so happy to have worked W2T and W2P which commemorate the crucial turn of events in the Revolutionary War that occurred here in New Jersey. In fact, you can still work W2P through Sunday,  January 5th.

If you want to see EXACTLY what the DVRA is commemorating, here's a video that I came across that explains everything - it's just under a half hour long, so grab the popcorn and enjoy!



Two Amateur Radio related notes: 

1) "It's a fine fox chase, my boys!" - The Rallying Cry of the QRP Fox Hunts - Thank you, General Washington!

2) The narrator mentions that after the battles, the General and the Continental Army retreat to the safety of Morristown to billet for the winter. This would be at Jockey Hollow, which is now part of Morristown National Historical Park, which Dave KD2FSI and I (and many others) activated for NPOTA.

If you're ever in New Jersey, please take the opportunity to visit Jockey Hollow. In many ways, it was as bad, if not worse, than the famous winter at Valley Forge. The video mentions how General Washington ordered the troops be inoculated against a small pox epidemic. Inoculation was as, if not more so, controversial than it is today. It was a bold and providential action.

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

Thursday, January 02, 2020

FDIM Registration open

http://qrparci.org/fdim

I was planning to attend this year. However, I was informed a couple days ago that this is the weekend I have to move my daughter back home from college for the summer.

Sigh. But on the bright side, I guess I'm still needed.

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

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Woot! Got 'em!

Thank you, HamAlert!

I just finished working W2P just a little while ago!

HamAlert was chirping at me earlier in the day. They were spotted on 20 Meter SSB and 40 Meter CW. I tried listening on 40 Meters, thinking that I would have luck like I did the other day. No joy. I couldn't even hear the whisper of an ESP signal.

20 Meter SSB was better, but not much. I heard Matt, who was running the frequency, but he was very weak. If he was continuously calling CQ with no takers, he might have heard me, but he had plenty of stations to work that were much louder than me. That was a bust, also.

Around 2:00 PM this afternoon (1900 UTC) my cell phone started alerting me again. This time 40 Meter CW again in the 7.057 MHz neighborhood. Even though I was busy with a house project, I ran down the basement and popped in the earbuds.

Hallelujah!  W2P was a good 579 and I worked them on my third try.  Now I can get the two QSL cards and that certificate which enrolls me in the Signal Corp of The Continental Army. LOL! Now my Dad's not the only one who served in the Signal Corp.

I shouldn't make light of that, as he served in the REAL Signal Corp. during WWII. But I think if he were still around (he'd be 99 this year), he'd have gotten a kick out of it.

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

This works really well!


I loaded this onto my cell phone a while ago; and I don't use it all that much. When I do use it, it works very well!

I added W2P as a trigger to notify me when the Battle of Princeton special event station is active and on the air. I've been getting alerts all morning - SSB, FT8 and CW alerts. Now ........ if I was only home to be able to sit down behind the radio!

I would recommend this app to everyone. You can find it in the Google Play Store if you have an Android device. It's also available to use on your personal computer from: https://hamalert.org/about

If you are looking to be reminded when specific stations, countries, prefixes are on the air - then this is a really useful tool.

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

Happy New Year!

As we welcome in 2020 .........


....... remember that 2020 is a Leap Year - so you get 366 days to enjoy Amateur Radio in the coming year!

Bonne Année 
¡Feliz Año Nuevo! 
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda 
Buon anno 
Frohes Neues Jahr 
Gelukkig Nieuwjaar 
Gleðilegt nýtt ár 
あけましておめでとう 
Xin Nian Kuai 
San Nin Fai Lok
Mutlu yıllar 
Sťastný nový rok 
Godt nytår 
Hyvää uutta vuotta 
Godt nytt år 
Szczesliwego Nowego Roku 
Feliz Ano Novo 
с новым годом

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Solar Cycle 25

From the ARRL Website:

Two Solar Cycle 25 Sunspots Appear

12/30/2019

New Solar Cycle 25 is on the way, but just when the transition from Cycle 24 to Cycle 25 will take place is not entirely clear. On December 24, two new sunspots — one in each hemisphere — emerged on the face of the sun that exhibit the reversed magnetic polarity marking them as belonging to Solar Cycle 25. According to Hale’s Law, sunspot polarities flip-flop from one solar cycle to the next, the National Center for Atmospheric Research explains.

“The sun is currently in solar minimum — the nadir of the 11-year sunspot cycle,” Tony Phillips said in his article, “Reversed Polarity Sunspots Appear on the Sun” on the Spaceweather.com website. “It’s a deep minimum, century-class according to sunspot counts.” The remarkable sunspot scarcity has prompted discussion of a possible “extended minimum” akin to the Maunder Minimum in the 17th century, when no sunspots appeared for decades, Phillips said. “Such an event could have implications for terrestrial climate.”

“Today’s new-cycle sunspots (along with isolated new-cycle spots earlier this year) suggest that the solar cycle is, in fact, unfolding normally,” Phillips wrote, adding that a new Maunder Minimum does not appear to be in the offing.

Earlier this month, the NOAA/NASA-co-chaired international Solar Cycle Prediction Panel released its latest forecast for Solar Cycle 25. The panel’s consensus calls for a peak in July 2025 (±8 months), with a smoothed sunspot number of 115 and the solar minimum between Cycles 24 and 25 occurring in April 2020 (±6 months). If this solar minimum prediction is correct, it would make Solar Cycle 24 the seventh longest on record at 11.4 years.

Climate scientist David Archibald speculates that the Solar Cycle 24/25 minimum could occur as late as March 2021, and that Cycle 25 maximum might not happen until 2027.

“We are well into the Solar Cycle 24/25 minimum but [Cycle] 24 may not have ended yet,” Archibald said in a December 22 update on the Watts Up With That? website. “A solar cycle isn’t over until the heliospheric current sheet has flattened. And that could be as late as March 2021. Solar cycle amplitude does matter with respect to climate and the amplitude of Solar Cycle 25, from projecting trends from the last three cycles, looks like being about 80 in 2027.”

The Solar Cycle Prediction Panel agreed that Cycle 25 will be of average intensity and similar to Cycle 24.

In an article posted on NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center site, Scott McIntosh, the Director of the High Altitude Observatory at National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), stresses that Solar Cycle 25 will happen, “but a sunspot cycle could be small.”

Predictability comes with some physical understanding of the underlying process, McIntosh asserts. “The sunspot cycle is erratic,” he said in his presentation, “provocative of a chaotic, turbulent solar interior where sunspot progressions with time and latitude are the only tracers…”

Thank you for the news, ARRL!  Two new sunspots may not seem like much - but they're better than nothing. A portent of better conditions to come - something we can all hope for!

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

New Year's Eve possibilities

Lots happening this New Year's Eve - no excuse for NOT getting on the air! (Unless you have family obligations, of course. Family always comes first!)


40 Meter QRP Fox Hunt  - With two excellent Foxes - K4BAI in GA and NC4RT in NC.
0200-0330Z - search between 7.030 and 7.050 MHz - http://www.qrpfoxhunt.org/winter_rules.htm

SKN - Straight Key Nighthttp://www.arrl.org/straight-key-night

SKCC Slow Speed Saunter https://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/slowspeed/

W2P Special Event Station - Commemorating the Battle of Princeton and the "Ten Crucial Days of the Revolution"https://bit.ly/2ZD9XYQ

I'm sure this is nowhere a complete listing - probably lots of other events you can join in on.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Year end thoughts

As 2019 comes to an end and we get ready to begin a new decade, I've been having some year end thoughts.

One - Don't forget that this Tuesday evening (and into New Year's Day) is Straight Key Night. Besides getting on the air and pounding brass, a lot of our Ham Radio brothers and sisters will be putting their classic radio on the air. Straight Key Night is always fun as it's like stepping back in time to the days of the Golden Age of Amateur Radio.

Two - Bob W3BBO and I were shooting the breeze as we do doing in our weekly gab sessions. He asked me if I had any goals for 2020. I've been thinking about that; as I really didn't have any as we spoke - hadn't given it much thought, really.

But giving it more thought, I have come up with a goal. And the goal for 2020 is to do way more portable operating than I have in 2019. Whether that be POTA, PBMME's, QRPTTF, FOBB or the Skeeter Hunt, the goal is to get out in the great outdoors and get on the air.

The good Lord be willing and my knee and ankle hold out, I want to do a lot more than I did last year. I will be looking for a bit bigger backpack than what I have been using, as I need space for a few more antennas. I've been watching some YouTube videos on some guys who have been doing portable ops and it has been downright inspirational.

Three - More posting here, fewer quiet interludes - but not fluff  just to fill space- posts with substance

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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Looking forward to 2020

You might want to add these to your personal Ham Radio calendars. Thanks to Brian KB9BVN for posting these to QRP-L:

QRPARCI 2020 Contest Calendar

See details, updated rules:

http://www.qrpcontest.com/

JAN 01 - 2020 New Years Day Sprint (3HR)
MAR 14 - Spring Thaw Shootout (1HR)
APR 11 - Spring QSO Party (24HR)
MAY 24 - Hoot Owl Shootout (1HR)
JUL 12 - Summer Homebrew Sprint (3HR)
AUG 08 - European Sprint (3HR)
OCT 10 - Fall QSO Party (24HR)
DEC 03 - Top Band Sprint (3HR)
DEC 13 - Holiday Spirits Sprint (3HR)

And as Brian put it, "We have promises from Mother Nature that say the bands will be back big time in 2020.  Don't miss out on all the fun!"

Viva Sunspot Cycle 25!

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