Sunday, January 22, 2006

Too much fun!

A week ago, maybe two at most, I got wind of a new Yahoo Group that was forming. This one is called the Straight Key Century Club; and it is the brainchild of Tom Peterson KC9ECI. This group is dedicated not only to the CW lover; but to the CW lover who loves to use the original tool of the trade, the straight key. In order to accomodate those who have carpal tunnel problems, the use of bugs and Cootie keys is permissable. That the Morse has to be generated mechanically, is the "key". And no, I'm not sorry for the pun.

What is phenominal is how Tom's concept has caught on like wildfire. Over 500 Hams have joined just in the first few fledgling weeks of the club! Fortunately, that tells me that the prophets who have declared that, "CW and Morse Code are dead" clearly have their heads firmly planted up their nether regions.

The club's founders also had the vision to decide to locate the "watering hole" frequencies within the Novice/Tech CW allocations. So not only will entry level Hams get the chance to participate; but the rest of us will make those regions of spectrum sing once again with the delicious sounds of Morse Code.

So, if you love CW (and you probably do if you're even reading this) and you haven't joined the SKCC, then please hop on over to and see what it's all about!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!

Tuesday evening, I embarked upon a journey that I haven't taken in about 9 or 10 years. Tuesday evening, I began teaching a Technician class license course.

In South Plainfield we have, according to QRZ and HamCall (as well as FCC records) about 50 or so licensed Amateur Radio operators. Maybe five have shown interest in becoming involved with public service communications for the town. A ten percent turnout is definitely disheartening.
So the group of five decided to do something about it. We advertised a Technician License course in the local town newspaper. At an introductory meeting in December, 11 folks showed up. At that time we took the opportunity to explain a bit more about what Amateur Radio is, what it can do; and why we were offering the class.

Six of those eleven people showed up for the class Monday night. I was happy to see so many people show up with so much enthusiasm for Amateur Radio. Over the next 9 -10 Tuesday evenings there will sessions covering every aspect of the hobby needed for these good people to pass their tests and get their licenses.

My hat gets tipped to the ARRL for offering "The Now You're Talkinig" text and associated study materials. Like I said before, the students are showing enthusiasm and a "wanting-to-be-there" attitude that tell sme that this is going to be a ton of fun.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Flabbergasted, surprised, shocked and humbled.

Checking my e-mail earlier today, I saw an e-mail from Jim Sheldon WØEB which was titled, "A1 Ops Club". I figured that Jim had been named an A1 Operator and was relating his excitement and joy. A few seconds later, I saw that Jim was congratulating ME on being nominated, seconded and inducted into the A1 Operators Club !!!!!

HooooooooooYaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!!

I have dreamed about this moment since my days as a Novice operator some 27 years ago. Then, that was a far away dream - a hope that someday I would be considered a top notch operator. I am elated, flabbergasted, shocked, overjoyed and humbled all at the same time! I have nothing to relate this to on the Amateur Radio Scale of Happiness! This is way better than earning DXCC; or joining the 1000 Miles per Watt Club. This is better than anything. Maybe, just maybe, the only thing that comes close was being named "Elmer of the Year" back in 1998 by my local chapter of the QCWA.

No, this is in a class all by itself. This is better than anything. This is extra special because the A1 Operators Club is a club you cannot join. You have to be nominated and seconded by two Hams who are already members - your peers. You have to be deemed fitting in the following criteria, as it appears on the ARRL Web site.

Membership comes after nomination by two Club members who find the nominee qualified to be a member of this elite group. Nominations should be based on the following:

  1. General considerations. Transmissions stable, well filtered, and occupying the minimum required bandwidth. On voice, clarity of speech, brevity, uses appropriate words and good grammar. On digital modes, clean tones and appropriate operating-frequency selection. On CW, proper character formation and spacing with appropriate speeds (high-speed ability is not a consideration).

  2. Procedure. Always listens before transmitting. Appropriately short CQs, avoidance of unnecessary repetition, use of proper procedures and abbreviations recommended by ARRL, avoidance of common inanities in making contacts. When operating a message forwarding system, make sure that traffic is routed to its destination.

  3. Judgment and courtesy. Courteous, and considerate of the other operator's point of view. Takes every opportunity to assist others, especially beginners. Patient and helpful at all times, and never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

  4. Copying ability. This applies to all modes, for there is a knack to passing information through such difficulties as interference from other stations (QRM), atmospheric noises (QRN), fading (QSB), etc.
The thought that two of my fellow Amateur Radio operators are of the opinion that I display such qualities is really, really humbling. I hope to ALWAYS operate in a manner so as to be worthy of my inclusion.

To the two Hams who nominated and seconded me ..... I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is the pinnacle of my Ham radio career.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, January 06, 2006

SKN 2006

Straight Key Night was a week ago; and as usual, it was fun! It was nice to hear 80 Meters filled with wall-to-wall CW signals. It reminded me as to how 80 Meters used to be most nights back during my Novice days in the late 1970s.

I only had about four QSOs on New Year's Eve; but they were fun, relaxing and enjoyable. I used two different straight keys and both were a pleasure to use. I started off with an old Western Union J-38 that I acquired from eBay a few years ago. I have it mounted on an extra heavy aluminum base - it goes NOWHERE! I have it adjusted so that the action is barely perceptable, yet positive. I could send all night on that baby.

The other key was the Christmas 2005 miniature key that my wife gave me for Christmas a week ago. It was surprisingly comfortable and easy to use. Even though it is small and light, it has three rubber feet on its base that keeps it where you put it.

24 hours later, on New Year's night it was amazing to see the "difference a day made". That night there were barely ANY signals on 80 Meters and it took me about an hour to drum up a QSO. That ended up being with a local guy who lives probably less than 10 miles or so away from me. It would be nice indeed to have that kind of activity on the bands every night of the year!

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS: We're into the sixth day of January and I've logged 38 QSOs so far this month! Hopefully, I will get a good start on breaking my total for 2005.