Sunday, December 10, 2023

Busy, busy weekend

Too many chores, too many responsibilities to have much Amateur Radio fun this weekend.  No HF for me, although this was Amateur Radio Exam Saturday for my team. We had two candidates. One earned his Technician class license. The other candidate got his Tech last month only to come back yesterday and pass both the General and Extra elements.

In the evening, some members of our CERT Team, including yours truly got together to help with pedestrian control at the South Plainfield Christmas Parade and Christmas Tree lighting.

From left to right, that's our OEM Coordinator. Captain Wendell Born who was off duty, but came with his family to enjoy the festivities, Mayor Matt Anesh, Tim AB2ZK, W2LJ, Bill W2AOF, Sharon Padula, and Councilman Derryck White. Although they were there in their official capacities, both Mayor Anesh and Councilman White are also CERT members. Matt's father is John Anesh AB2VE, another South Plainfield Amateur Radio op.

This event was supposed to be held tonight, but was moved to Saturday because it's raining cats and dogs here tonight.  It's 62F right now, but when I leave for work tomorrow morning there will probably be something like a 30 degree drop in temperature. A cold front is supposed to come ripping through overnight. 

So far, we've received 0.60" of rain today. When all is said and done and this front moves through, the forecast is for close to 2 inches.

UPDATE: We're up to 1.70" of rain from this event since it began yesterday afternoon. The temperature did drop overnight, it was 39F when I left the house and it's 34F here at work. There were some wet snowflakes hitting the windshield during the commute in. As far as I am able to tell, there were no thunderstorms accompanying the cold front moving in.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least !

Friday, December 08, 2023

Hunting Foxes and the weekend

I grabbed two furry Fox pelts last night on 80 Meters. This first was Steve WX2S and that should have been no surprise as he lives less than 25 miles south of me.

Don K9DRP was another matter. His signal was constantly up and down, in and out due to QSB. The KX3's APF feature wasn't helping much, so I went "old school". I turned the RF Gain all the way down to eliminate as much of the background hash as I could, while simultaneously turning up the AF Gain. Tightening up the KX3's filters finally put Don in a place where I could reliably copy him and I finally worked him at 0256 UTC. Even at that point, i wasn't sure Don had me, so I threw out my call again a few minutes later. Then it hit me that I should refresh the Fox Hunt map and I saw that he had me in his log, so I knew I was good to go........literally. I hit the sack after working Don.

Both Foxes were working split and no one had to gently "remind" me with an "UP". This time, at least, I didn't goof up and QRM anyone. And both Foxes were excellent ops, dealing with less than deluxe band conditions.

Here are the goings on for the weekend:


ARRL 10 Meter Contest

QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Sprint

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon

K1USN Slow Speed Test

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint:

Special Events:

12/06/2023 | Crossband Activation of Battleship Iowa's NEPM in Memory of Pearl Harbor

 Dec 6-Dec 9, 1500Z-2359Z, J3E/A1A, San Padro, CA. Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association. 14.375 18.1625 21.856 on J3E/USB and/or A1A/CW Do Not Transmit on NEPM Military Frequencies. QSL. See website, for, information. Times are daily. 1500Z to 2400Z.

12/07/2023 | WX3MAS

Dec 7-Dec 10, 1400Z-2200Z, WX3MAS, Nazareth, PA. Christmas City ARC. 14265 7270 3850. QSL. Christmas City Amateur Radio Club, 14 Gracedale Avenue, Greystone Building, Nazareth, PA 18064. Daily operation 1400 to 2200 UTC, may be extended as conditions permit.

12/09/2023 | Commemorating Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day

Dec 9, 1700Z-2359Z, NI6IW, San Diego, CA. USS Midway Museum Ship. 14.320 7.250 14.070 PSK31 DSTAR on Papa system repeaters. QSL. USS Midway Museum Ship COMEDTRA, 910 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

12/09/2023 | Ike's Atoms for Peace Speech - Sponsor of Nuclear Ship Savannah

Dec 9, 1400Z-2200Z, K3S, Baltimore, MD. Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC. 7 14 21 28. QSL. ULIS FLEMING, 980 PATUXENT ROAD, Odenton, MD 21113. Operating from the ship. Please check the spotting networks since we may be operating anywhere on 40, 20, 15, or 10m SSB or CW.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

'Tis the Season - Happy St. Nicholas Day!

In many European countries (including Poland, where my roots lay), today is a special day - the Feast Day of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (in modern day Turkey) during the early 4th century. Nicholas was known for his generosity to the poor and destitute.  One famous story is that Nicholas rescued three girls from being sold into prostitution by tossing bags of gold coins into their house on three successive evenings so as to provide them with a dowry, so they could be married.

The Dutch settlers who came to Colonial America brought with them their tradition of honoring Saint Nicholas - Sinterklaas every December 6th. From Sinterklaas (corrected - thanks Bas!), the name and pronunciation eventually evolved into Santa Claus.

To celebrate St. Nicholas - Santa Claus and to honor the  upcoming Christmas Holiday season, we left a shoe out on the porch last night (according to the St. Nick tradition), only to wake up this morning to find a gift had been left inside it. A true gem at that! Jeff Davis KE9V granted me permission to once again post his classic Amateur Radio holiday story "A QRP Christmas". Thank you so very much, Jeff! 

So whether this is a familiar story to you, or you're a newcomer to Amateur Radio and have never heard of this before - here it is for your reading pleasure:

A QRP Christmas

Jeff Davis, KE9V

"A foot of new snow and it's still falling, this is getting bad," Tom muttered to no one in particular. Just then Stella walked in with a sad look on her face and Tom knew right away.

"The kids aren't going to make it, are they?" he asked. "No," she answered, "I just got off the phone with them and the roads are all closed."

Great! Two days before Christmas, and the world had come to a halt.

Tom gave his wife a hug and said, "Well Mother, we might as well get over it, nothing much we can do now but wait this thing out." In the 50 plus years since the couple bought the house they had weathered many winter storms, but this would be the first Christmas without the kids and, now, the grandchildren. Nature could be cruel, but at least they had plenty of food and firewood, and there was ample gas for the generator in case the power went off. "I think I'll go see if the repeater is still on the air," Tom said as he headed to his ham shack over the garage. Being a radio amateur had its advantages, and emergency communication was one of them. He fired up the VHF set, and--sure enough--the local repeater was alive and busy. Several folks in the community needed assistance, and snowmobile deliveries were being organized accompanied by hams to maintain communication.

As with many things, people take communication systems for granted until they're suddenly unavailable. Two years earlier, with the proliferation of cellular telephone technology, Middletown decided it no longer needed Amateur Radio to assist during emergencies. A few months later, the river overflowed its banks during a massive rainstorm. Lightning wreaked havoc on the power grid and even cellular telephones were overloaded or knocked out altogether.

With one loud clap of thunder Amateur Radio was back in the disaster communications business in Middletown. The Town Council went so far as to give the Middletown Amateur Radio Club access to a county building to serve as a communications headquarters and monthly meeting spot.

Stella walked up the stairs to the radio shack with a hot cup of coffee for Tom. She figured he'd be spending quite a lot of time on the air during this snow emergency. She was wrong. Tom wasn't all that fond of 2-meters, really. He'd always been a CW op. In fact, for years he never even owned a microphone for his HF gear. To him, ham radio was and would always be, CW.

His high school print shop teacher had convinced him to get his ham license in 1939. A few years later, Uncle Sam took note of his radiotelegraphy talents and made him a Navy radio operator aboard the USS Missouri. He served from 1941 until the end of the War and even was present aboard the Missouri for the formal Japanese surrender.

Not long after the War, he married his high school sweetheart, Stella, and started what would be a 40-year career at the telephone company. They had three children and still lived in the very house they'd bought brand new as a young couple in 1947.

Tom was a tinkerer, and he'd built several transmitters and even a few receivers. But he was a serious brasspounder and could handle 30 to 40 WPM with ease. His station was always as clean as his signal, and any piece of equipment he built was a work of art. It wasn't good enough just to work and look good--it had to be perfect. Other members of the local radio club poked fun because Tom had a habit of making sure that even the screw slots on anything he built were aligned in the same direction.

He didn't buy his first commercially made gear until 1961--a Hallicrafters SX-140 receiver with a matching HT-40 transmitter. That was the only store-bought equipment in his shack until over a decade later, when his best friend died suddenly. His friend's widow gave Tom all the equipment in her husband's shack, including a complete Collins S-Line. That gear took a special place in Tom's heart and shack, not so much because it was the "ultimate station," but because it had belonged to his closest friend.

After retiring in 1986, Tom quit building equipment. He maintained several skeds with on-air friends from around the world. Saturday nights were his favorite, for it was then that he met with a large number of old Navy radio ops on 7.030. He really enjoyed those rag chews! But, one-by-one, the gang started to dwindle as more and more of his buddies became Silent Keys. It depressed him so that when his main receiver quit working in 1993, he didn't bother to fix it. K9NZQ was off the air for the first time since World War II.

Stella was worried enough about her husband's depression that she told the kids about the problem. They chipped in and bought him a brand new 2-meter FM radio for his birthday thinking that would cheer him up. Tom listened to the local repeater every day, but he rarely transmitted. It just wasn't the same.

She had hoped that having all the kids and grandchildren at the house again this Christmas would perk Tom up and chase away the lingering blues but now the weather had ruined that plan.

"I think I'll go out and make sure the generator still starts," he said as he passed through the kitchen. "The power lines are beginning to ice up."

Once he was out the back door, Stella took the opportunity to quickly and carefully wrap her gift to him. One of his friends had suggested to her that she buy Tom a kit for Christmas. Taking his suggestion, she ordered a small QRP CW transceiver kit he'd recommended. She didn't know if he would like it, but with this weather she was especially glad it had a arrived a few days earlier. Like it or not, at least he would have something to open on Christmas morning.

Day turned into evening and somehow the power stayed on. More snow was falling outside. The TV was calling it some sort of record snowfall for central Indiana. When Tom said he was going to bed and it was only 6:30 PM, she decided it was time.

"Let's go ahead and open our presents now, and not wait two more days" she said, handing him the gaily wrapped box. He didn't really want to open presents, now but he didn't want to disappoint Stella, knowing that she was still upset about the kids.

"All right, let me go get yours first," he agreed. In a few minutes they were opening their presents. She seemed to really like the bread making machine. He was more than a little surprised as he opened the little QRP kit.

"There now," she allowed, "that will give you something to do for a few days and it will keep you out of my kitchen." Tom knew he'd been underfoot lately. "You're sending me to my room without pie?" he said with a smile.

"Go on with you. I'll bring pie up to you as soon as the coffee quits brewing," she said as he headed back to the shack with the little box in hand.

By the time she walked in the shack, pumpkin pie in one hand and hot coffee in the other, Tom had unpacked the box, sorted the parts and was halfway through the instructions. She was happy to see he at least looked interested and left the room with her fingers crossed that this might cheer him up.

He didn't leave the shack until nearly midnight. By then, he had half of the components soldered to the main board, and he had wound several coils. "If the power doesn't go out," he muttered, "I could have this thing running by Christmas!"

The next morning he awoke at 7:30 AM, two hours later than usual. Stella already had the bacon frying when he walked into the kitchen. A quick look out the back window revealed yet another foot of fresh snow had fallen last night. He was glad to see blue sky and sunshine and hoped that meant the worst was over. After breakfast he was back in the shack, soldering pen in hand.

Tom was genuinely impressed with the little kit. The instructions were clear, and it looked to be of high-quality. He had already convinced himself, though, that he would never make a contact on 40 meters with less than 3 W. Nonetheless, he was happy to have something to keep his hands and mind busy. And it was a good thing that he'd kept up that dipole so he could see if this radio actually worked.

By 7 that evening, the kit was nearly finished. He was ready to apply power and begin initial testing. Stella knew that her decision to buy the little kit was a good one when he asked if she'd mind if he ate supper in the shack. By 11 PM Christmas Eve, the kit was finished. He plugged in the headphones, hooked up the antenna connection, and applied power.

The noise level jumped, and he knew things were working when he moved the VFO ever so slightly and instantly heard a QSO in progress. "Now, that's a good sign," he said to himself. He pulled off the headphones and headed upstairs to tell Stella the good news. But she was fast asleep. It was midnight. No point in waking her up now. He slipped back to the shack and put the headphones back on.

73 ES MERRY XMAS OM DE W5WBL he heard as one QSO completed. Tom moved a little higher in the band until he heard a strong station in QSO with a VE6 in Vancouver. He was more than a little impressed with the sensitivity of the receiver. After listening to a few more QSOs he continued moving up the band until suddenly, he heard a familiar call sign.

CQ CQ CQ de XE3HHH XE3HHH XE3HHH K. Tom almost couldn't believe it. Here was his old friend Miguel in Mexico calling CQ. He listened as Miguel called several more times with no reply. Thinking it silly to even try, Tom grabbed an old straight key and plugged it in. It was the first time in years that he had even touched a key. "This will never work" he thought as he tapped out XE3HHH XE3HHH XE3HHH de K9NZQ K9NZQ HW CPI OM?

Tom's jaw dropped when almost instantly Miguel came back. K9NZQ de XE3HHH FB OM I THOUGHT YOU DIED HI HI MERRY CHRISTMAS AMIGO. The two chatted for nearly an hour until Miguel had to go.

After the final 73, Tom sat back in his chair and rubbed his chin. He couldn't help but smile when he thought of just how much fun this day had been. Building the little kit and actually working an old friend just seemed to make his day complete. He would have bet half his retirement pension that there was no way to work Miguel with less than 3 watts. He knew some guys who worked QRP regularly, but he had always assumed that actually making contacts was a pretty rough and risky business. At least he never thought it would be that easy.

He was about to shut down the rig and go to bed when he heard a loud CQ just off the frequency where he worked Miguel. It was KL7DD. Tom reached for the key figuring he'd get in another quick QSO--or at least make the attempt--then go to bed. KL7DD turned out to be Joe in Point Barrow, Alaska. Joe also was ex-Navy, so the two hit it off right away. What started off to be a "quick" contact turned into a two-hour QSO. Joe only had trouble hearing Tom a couple of times. The little QRP rig was holding its own and making a believer out of Tom in the process.

Four contacts later, Tom was exhausted. About the time he shut things down and headed for bed, Stella walked in. "Merry Christmas!" she exclaimed. "What time did you get up? I didn't hear you get out of bed?"

Tom wasn't sure how to tell her he had been up all night 'playing radio' so he just replied, "early."

"Well, I've got breakfast ready," she said as she walked back down the stairs. He was still thinking about the contacts he made last night when he sat down at the kitchen table. "You know Mother," he said with a smile, "this might have been one of the very best Christmas's we've had in a long, long time. After breakfast, let's call the kids, but then I need to be back in the shack by noon because I told a guy that I would meet him on 40 meters to help him check out his new antenna..."

No doubt about it. K9NZQ was radio active once again.

A QRP Christmas by Jeff Davis, KE9V

Copyright 1998 © All Rights Reserved

Thanks again, Jeff! Your "early Christmas gift" is most appreciated! Thank you for sharing your masterful story telling talent with us!

Briefly, to end this post - last night, conditions on the band for the 40 Meters Fox Hunt were less than ideal, putting it mildly. I was able to work Cathy W4CMG in Tennessee, but Jerry WB7S in Wyoming was ESP most of the time and about 339 a couple of other times. In addition to his signal being sparse, there was a ton of SKCC activity right on top of him. Doesn't anyone send "QRL?" before jumping on a frequency anymore?  A couple of times I thought he went simplex early and was scolded with an "UP". If anyone from the Hunt is reading this, I most heartily apologize if I QRM'ed you. It was certainly not intentional - the "UP" that Jerry was sending got covered up by the SKCC station. Eventually Jerry did go simplex a bit later, but all my efforts were for naught. Conditions must have been pretty bad as I was the only New Jersey Hound to grab a pelt. You know propagation would have to be pretty terrible for THAT to be the case!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Crazy or not?

This is something that two good friends brought to my attention - Bob W3BBO and Dave KD2FSI. This is near and dear to me as the Heathkit HR-1680 was my Novice Receiver, which I built back in 1978.

You look at that, and you might think, like I did "WOW! $911.00 for an unbuilt Heathkit? Really?" When Bob and I were talking about this over the weekend, I told him I thought it would end up selling for maybe a bit of change over $500 - I didn't think the bidding would go so high.

But as usual, Dave KD2FSI had a good perspective on this and I am going to quote what he posted on the SPARC Facebook page. So you know, Dave has a nice collection of choice Heathkit gear.

"This week I saw this unbuilt Heathkit HR-1680 ham radio receiver come up for auction on eBay. I already have a nice working near museum quality HR-1680 in my collection, so I didn’t have any interest in bidding on it, but I was interested in seeing what it would go for. The HR-1680 is a nicely styled and still useful receiver even to this day.

So, when the bidding closed, the hammer price was $911.00. I think this was well bought, especially when you consider that in 1976 a HR-1680 went for $199.95 or about $1100.00 in today’s dollars.
However, if this buyer decides to build this kit, I think the experience will be priceless! 

73, Dave KD2FSI"

When you think of it the way Dave states the case, I guess $911.00 isn't so crazy, after all. But there may be some hidden costs, if the buyer does indeed, decide to build it. I'm not sure how the unit was stored; but I'm wondering how well all the electrolytic capacitors have held up for close to 50 years. They may all have to be re-purchased for a successful build. But then again, maybe not. I have since purchased a used HR-1680 to replicate my Novice Station (I also have a Drake 2-NT) and it works just fine even after all these years.

But as Dave states so well, I can agree with him that the experience of building a Heathkit is priceless - way over the $911.00 paid for the hardware.

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

Monday, December 04, 2023

Radio inactive weekend

No radio time for W2LJ this past weekend. It was time for decorating the interior of the house and also time for the annual Christmas light fight. I was too busy setting up the tree (artificial - real ones play havoc with my sinuses) and just about pulling out my gray hair over Christmas lights. It is so frustrating to have strings of lights where entire sections go dark. 

That's not me - but you get the idea!

My son and I looked at the offending sections for a while and discovered that some wires completely pulled out from a few sockets, so rather than dealing with trying to figure that out and waste time making what would probably end up as a futile attempt at repair, I just chucked them and purchased two new strings. It's not worth the frustration.

I don't know what happens to these things. When we took them off the tree last year, they were fine. We carefully wound them onto reels and stowed them in a safe place until it was time to deploy them again this year. I think I must have Christmas Tree light gremlins that come and visit the house during the summer months and destroy what we have - just to play mind games with me. For reasons unknown, these little demons did not bother the outside lights - no,  those were just fine! I guess I should be grateful they left those alone.

Tonight we'll actually put the ornaments on. When that's done, that will finish the decorating for 2023, then radio activity can commence again.

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

Friday, December 01, 2023

Skywarn Recognition Day & more

Rare second post for the day:

Skywarn Recognition Day starts tonight night at 7:00 PM EST and runs all day Saturday until 7:00 PM EDT.  That would be December 2, 2023 from 0000UTC to 2400 UTC.

This annual event  was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that Skywarn volunteers make to the NWS mission, the protection of life and property. The day typically falls on the first Saturday in December (in UTC time, so in EST it goes from 7 PM Fri to 7 PM Sat)

We want to take this opportunity to send a big THANK YOU to our spotters and we want to show off our network of dedicated volunteers to everyone! So as a part of the celebration this year, if you're a spotter or HAM Radio Operator, check in and be recognized for #Skywarn2023 as a valuable part of the National Weather Service.

Link to map and check-in form:

For more information on Skywarn Recognition Day, visit

For information on the Skywarn program in our region, visit

Also going on this weekend:


ARRL 160-Meter Contest

Special Events

12/01/2023 | SEC QSO Party
Dec 1-Dec 2, 2100Z-2100Z, W5YD, Starkville, MS. Mississippi State University ARC. 14.250. Certificate. Department of Physics and Astronomy. Attn Torsten Clay, PO Box 5167, Mississippi State, MS 39762. First Inaugural Southeastern Conference QSO Party. Mississippi State University will be participating in this event.

12/01/2023 | SEC QSO Party
Dec 1-Dec 2, 2100Z-2100Z, W4DFU, Gainesville, FL. Gator Amateur Radio Club. 14.288 7.288. QSL. Dr. Jay Garlitz AA4FL, P.O. Box 100012, Gainesville, FL 32610.

12/02/2023 | "Christmas in Bethlehem" Clark Co ARC 2023 from Bethlehem Indiana
Dec 2, 1300Z-2300Z, W9WWI, Sellersburg, IN. Clark County Amateur radio club. 28.400 7.210 21.3450 18.160. QSL. Clark Co. ARC, po box 201, Sellersburg, IN 47172. Merry Christmas From The Clark County Amateur Radio club of Indiana

12/02/2023 | Bethlehem Christmas
Dec 2, 0700Z-1200Z, WR4BC, Bethlehem, GA. Barrow County Amateur Radio Club. 7.250 14.225. QSL. Barrow Amateur Radio Club, PO BOX 411, Bethlehem, GA 30620. We will do our best to be on the listed frequencies, but we may have to move around to find an open spot.

12/02/2023 | Flight 19 the missing avengers
Dec 2, 1300Z-2100Z, K4P, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Parrot Amateur Radio Club Inc. 14.240 7.210 18.150 21.315. QSL. Gerald Deitch, 2621 NW105 Lane, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33322. send SASE for qsl card

Everyone have a good weekend!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Hunting the 80 Meter Foxes - lesson learned

Last night, during the event, the K Index was zero and the Geomagnetic Field was "Very Quiet". The CMEs had not had their effect .......yet.  This morning is a different story with the K index up at 7 and the Geomagnetic Field is described as "Severe Storm". I can see why forecasters are saying band conditions may deteriorate throughout the day. As an aside, despite the claims being made on social media, I was not able to see any Aurora last night - I checked before hitting the sack at 10:30 PM, once during the night around 2:30 AM and then when I awoke at 5:00 AM. It may well be visible tonight, but par for the course, rain and clouds are forecast for later this afternoon through Sunday.

As I said, last night band condition were nice. I found Milt K4OSO pretty easily. He was the Upper Fox and had a very nice signal - truly 579.  It took a while to work him as he seemed to be inundated with K4 stations, but once they thinned out, I was able to snag him at 0240 UTC. He was originally listening about 2 kHz up, but had to move his listening frequency down a bit when the 3rd Section CW Traffic Net started up.

Steve WD4CFN was a bit more of an elusive quarry for me. He was the Lower Fox and it turned out that he was parked on a frequency which had a lot of local QRN on it. If an observer were standing next to me and was listening on the outboard speaker, they would have never heard Steve. Thank you Elecraft for the APF function on the KX3. That was the only way I was able to pick out Steve from the background noise.

Let me back up a few minutes. Before finding Steve, I had to first locate his pack of howling Hounds. That was not an easy chore at first, even using the KX3's sub receiver and Dual Receive function. When I had that turned on, the idea was that the Fox would have been in my left ear and the pack in my right. However, my right ear is really bad .......REALLY BAD! I'll talk about that in a little bit.  I had to flip the headphones, and once I did that, I was able to locate the baying Hounds with my left ear. It was like they came out of nowhere! Of course, they were there all along, my right ear just couldn't hear them, and that jolted me. I knew my right ear was bad, but that really brought home "how bad"!

That frequency plugged into VFO B, I flipped the headphones back and began the search for Steve, beginning around 1 kHz down. Nothing at first, but once I turned the APF on, he was a pretty easy find. It was just a matter of time and I finally worked Steve at 0305 UTC. Steve was 559 at best, so that's the report I gave him. 

I really need hearing aids. My left ear is still not terrible, but the right one is. In situations like these Fox Hunts, I am either going to have to keep flipping headphones or go the old fashioned route and not using the Dual Receive feature on the KX3 until I remediate the right ear situation. I'm hoping to do that after Christmas. I want to make an appointment with the hearing lab at Costco. Marv K2VHW got his hearing aids there and he recommends them without hesitation and absolutely raves about them - and the prices are way better than the Miracle Ear office that I went to for my hearing evaluation. I could buy the high end Elecraft K4D for what they were asking for a pair of hearing aids - and those were their "less expensive" ones!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Aurora Alert!

Today and tomorrow, December 1st, we will be feeling the effects of three CME's all headed our way. NOAA ,as well as a private meteorologist that I follow and trust (he is amazingly spot on when forecasting winter storms and how they will affect New Jersey) are both predicting that even New Jersey might be able to see the Aurora resulting from these ejections.

To which I say:

That seems to be always the way it is around here. I've never seen the Northern lights except in videos. Heck, I've only seen the Milky Way from up in Lake George. I'd sure like to see the Aurora, but ........

And tonight is the 80 Meter Fox Hunt. Should be interesting. As of this moment, in the early morning, the K Index is still 1 and the Geomagnetic Field is still very quiet. I expect that will change drastically, sooner than later.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Tuesday night 40 Meter Fox Hunt ...... grrrr


The evening started off in the best possible manner. I stumbled upon Drew K9CW's loud signal from Indiana right off the bat. Realizing that this loud signal was indeed one of the Foxes, I quickly called him and worked him at 0202 UTC. Two minutes in, I think that's the earliest I've ever worked a Fox in all the years I've been doing this.  Drew had a fantastic signal - an actual 579 and if you look at all the blue and green dots on the map above, you'll see he handed out a lot of pelts.

John AJ1DM in Rhode Island was a whole different story. If you look at the red and green dots on the map, you'll see he handed out a lot of pelts as well. But if you look at the map carefully, you'll see there are no red dots from Ottawa to Washington DC, save for a solitary green dot in New York, a Hound who was able to work both John and Drew. It's hard to see in the photo above as he's right behind that blue dot in northwest New York State. John's RF was literally flying right over our heads destined for other distant Hounds, away from the Northeastern states.

I could tell where John was by listening for the pack chasing him, and then going down 1 kHz. After the hunt was over, I plugged him into RBN to see if I was correct in guessing where he was. It turned out that I wasn't chasing phantoms - my detective work proved fruitful, and I had the right frequency all along. Sometimes when signals are so weak you can fool yourself into hearing something that's not really there. Happily, that wasn't the case this time.

I was able to hear him only by using the KX3's APF function, and only then at ESP levels. I knew he was there, but that was about it, save for one single time when his signal rose out of the background well enough to throw out my call. He promptly returned to the dust of the noise floor, and at about 0300 UTC or so, he completely vanished and I was no longer able to hear his ESP level signal. Determined, I hung around to the bitter end, hoping that John might somehow re-appear (loudly) - but no joy.

So I guess one out of two isn't bad. The HF9V was the weapon of choice last night and served me well in being able to retire for the night with at least one Fox pelt.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Christmas is a comin' and the goose is getting fat......

So what Ham Radio goodie are you asking from Santa this year?

It's been a long time since I've asked Santa (Marianne) for anything Amateur Radio related, but this year I have asked for one of these:

The Elecraft AX-1 and the 40 Meter coil extender (and the little base thingy that supports it on a table)

I've been thinking about acquiring one of these for years - actually since 2019 before the pandemic. SPARC was holding a "Get On The Air" event at a local park in town connected to JOTA, and we were  hoping that some local Scouts would show up and take advantage of the opportunity to get on the radio. That hope didn't pan out, but that's not what this post is ultimately about.

Dave KD2FSI had his set up going (his Yaesu rig and the 20 Meters vertical he attaches to the frame of his back pack) and I had the KX3 on a picnic table with the PAR END-FEDZ going off to a nearby tree.  Dave had worked Italy on 20 Meter SSB with his station. Soon afterward, I also worked Italy, but with 5 Watts - and I hate to admit it, but I was feeling kind of smug. You know, the old QRP vs QRO thing.

Soon afterward, Bob WB2UDC came with his KX3 and the AX1 antenna. I'll be brutally honest here. I looked at it and thought to myself "No way is that thing is going to make any contacts." Much to my dismay, Bob served me with a huge plate of crow to eat when he worked that same Italian station I had worked an hour earlier! And to boot, he had gotten a 599 report! OK, maybe that was just the standard DX "599" report, but I was still impressed that the antenna was capable of a trans-Atlantic QSO.

He was making contacts - not a ton, but that little antenna was sure getting out! It occurred to me that would be just the thing to take along to Lake George for our annual summer sojourn. There's plenty of picnic tables, and I really don't like hanging anything from the trees (even though I have permission, I try not to abuse that trust), and it seems like an easier set up than the mag loop.

So I put in a request to Santa - I've been good this year and I have my fingers crossed that I'll find one of these under the Tree come Christmas morning.

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

Monday, November 27, 2023

It's funny

For the last week, the CW portions of the bands have been occupied virtually, wall to wall, in preparation for CQ WW DX and for the duration of the contest itself. After the St. Max Net ended on 75 Meters at 0030 UTC last night, I went up to the higher bands for a quick listen.

Pffffffffft! Zilch, zero (well not totally zero, but compared to the contest period), nothing.

I understand that after putting in multi-hour efforts most contesters pull the plug for some much needed rest. But what of the rest of the week? People will say the bands are dead and blame propagation. I have a feeling it's not a lack of propagation, but more a lack of participation.

If the bands can be wall to wall for a contest, they can be much better than dead for the rest of the time. I, myself, used the contest just to cherry pick a few DXCC entities that I have worked before, but were never confirmed on LOTW. I'm hoping that maybe this time will be a charm.

And of course, there are the QRP Fox Hunts, POTA stations to be worked and rag chews to be had. The bands aren't dead because of bad band conditions, we just need some bodies on them making noise!

Oh, and by the way, now that the big contest is over, the K Index is back down to 1, and the Geomagnetic Field is "Very Quiet" ..........of course!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Got 'em this time!


This time,  it's definite.  I am in the 4W8X log.

I set HamAlert for them and it was chirping all day. The problem was that all the spots were coming from Europe.

That's when I decided to go to the Reverse Beacon Network and set it up to show the spots for 4W8X. When the map showed the station was being heard in the US, that's when I started listening. The cool thing about RBN is that the lines from originating station to spotter are now color coded, so you can easily see on which band your quarry is being heard.

All the lines to the US indicated 30 Meters and that's where I heard them.  Still had to use the KX3's APF feature to make them easily audible,  but whatever it takes,  right?

Today's a big day for CQ WW DX and the K Index is up at 4, and the Geomagnetic Field is active. Not the best solar conditions that one would hope for.

In any case,  the terrestrial weather here today is decent. Cold, but sunny so the outside Christmas decorations will probably go up today. That will take up a good chunk of the afternoon.

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

Friday, November 24, 2023

Busted DX

 CQ WW DX will be dominating the weekend. There are no other contests or even Special Event Stations scheduled for the weekend.

Personally, I'll be chasing 4W8X in Timore-Leste again. I worked him on 15 Meters a while back, but I checked in ClubLog and I'm not in their log. However, W2LO is in their log on 15 Meters twice - while all his other band spots occur only once per band. That leads me to think they didn't hear that first dit in "J" and logged me as W2LO. C'est la Vie - but if I can work them again this weekend, that will make C'est la Vie a bit easier to take.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 23, 2023


And now, bless the God of all,
    who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
    and fashions them according to His will!
May He grant you joy of heart
    and may peace abide among you;
May His goodness toward us endure in Israel
    to deliver us in our days.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Day 2023

"Hurry with that Turkey, Jeeves. I'm awfully Hungary - and then bring Samoa!"

Technically, it's the day before Thanksgiving Day 2023, here in the USA. Tomorrow is going to be filled with cooking chores and last minute straightening up of the house, so I thought I'd post today. My wishes are for all of you to have a safe, happy and joyous holiday, with good food, family and friends. Marianne's brother and his wife are coming for dinner. My sister and her husband are having Thanksgiving at one of his brother's houses this year, so I'll miss being with my "big sis". Ahhhhhh ......maybe Christmas.

Thanksgiving is such an underrated holiday. Halloween and Christmas sandwich Thanksgiving and get much more attention and hype. But yet, in and of itself, the holiday is so important just on it's own. It is soooo much more than just the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It's so much more than the day before Black Friday.

I've so much to be thankful for. I do more than my share of kvetching and complaining about work, traffic, my commute and the other little annoyances of life, but they're just that - annoyances. I've made it to another Thanksgiving. I have a wonderful wife and two fantastic kids. Heck, I can't even call them kids anymore. They are young adults who are establishing themselves and striking out to embark upon their own careers. I imagine that sooner, rather than later, they'll both meet that special someone with whom they'll start their own families.

Marianne and I are reasonably healthy (besides the requisite growing older aches and pains), and for that I am most grateful. The kids are healthy, too and for that I am even more grateful. I'd rather have something happen to me than them. We have a warm house, food on the table and we have each other. We take that so much for granted and we proudly attribute the "things" we have to our own abilities, hard work and labor. But in the end, it's ALL a gift from God - without Him and His benevolence, we'd have nothing. Everything that we have belongs to Him, when all is said and done, and we are thankful for His most gracious "loan".

So I'll leave you with a little video of a Thanksgiving song, written and composed by Ben Rector. Thanksgiving deserves more songs like this. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - and oh, one last thing that I am so grateful for and do not wish to fail to mention- all of YOU, from all around the world who read this little blog and enjoy the best hobby in the world along with me - Amateur Radio. You folks are the best! And the hobby is too!

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

It's a BIGGIE!

Just a brief post today. Don't forget that this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) is the CQ WWDX CW Contest! This one, along with the ARRL DX Contest are perhaps the Kings of Amateur Radiosport.

A good thing to remember is that a lot of DX stations are on the air now, setting up and getting ready, making tweaks to maximize their stations for the event. Now, and as we get closer to the start of the event, is a good time for logging some of them in a non-competitive manner.

For the newbie QRPers out there who may be reading this - with the sunspot cycle the way it is now - this is a GREAT time to start working on, making headway into, or finishing up your QRP DXCC. My advice has always been the last half to last quarter of the contest is prime QRP hunting time.  By then, the big guns have worked all the loud stations that they have heard, but are still in the process of fattening up their QSO totals. That is when they will take time to listen just a bit harder for less that 599++ signals.

Personal experience has taught me this to be true. I remember specifically one year when I decided (for grins and giggles) to jump into the contest on a Saturday evening with my K2 (it WAS years ago!) set at 500 milliWatts, just to see if anyone would actually hear me. I surprised myself by working between 20 -30 different DXCC entities that evening in the span of several hours. If you're really dedicated and are willing to sit in the chair for an extended period or periods of time - there's always the possibility of acquiring QRP DXCC in a single weekend.

Good luck and good hunting!

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