10th Anniversary Giveaway!

On April 30th, it will be ten years since the "W2LJ - QRP - Do More With Less" blog was born.

In appreciation for all who read this blog, I am going to give something away to one lucky reader. I have a new, mint condition, unused, complete sheet of fifty United States Amateur Radio stamps, issued in 1964 on the 50th Anniversary of the ARRL - Scott #1260. I am going to have the sheet matted and framed - ready for display on some deserving shack wall. All I ask is that you send an e-mail to w2lj@arrl.net - entitled "Blog Anniversary Giveaway". Include your name, call sign and mailing address.

Any Amateur Radio op worldwide can enter. I will package and ship the framed stamps to any destination that the United States Post Office will accept.

The names and call signs will be loaded into a software program such as RandomPicker on April 30th and a winner will be determined. The winner will be announced here, and then the framed stamps will be posted.

Good luck, and thank you for reading!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A most pleasant surprise

I came home from an exceptionally busy day at work today, feeling kind of crummy. It's that time of the year for me. When the leaves fall; and gather on the ground only to get wet and moldy, my sinuses go into rebellion. For the past week; I have been suffering from my annual October/November sinus revolt. I won't go into the symptoms; only to say that I'm left feeling worn out and pretty much blech.

However, when I got home there was an envelope waiting for me from the QRP-ARCI. Inside was a certificate for finishing 5th overall and top in New Jersey in the 2006 Hoot Owl Sprint. It was quite unexpected and most appreciated! I'm rarely a finisher towards the top of any of these QRP Sprints. There are so many stations out there that are so much better than my meager setup; and there are so may QRP ops out there who can dance circles around me with one arm tied behind their backs. To receive this certificate was so satisfying! It will definitely get framed and hung upon the shack wall.

So until it gets cold for good; and the mold spores die off; I'll continue to hack, sneeze and blow away until I start feeling better. Little surprises like this, though, make days like today just a little easier to take. Thank you, QRP-ARCI and Jeff Hetherington VA3JFF in particular, for making my day!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bug practice.

I'll admit that for the past month or so, that I've been a "lazy' CW op. Instead of getting on my bug, I have been using the paddles and keyer. As a matter of fact, I really love my Elecraft/Bencher Hexkey paddles. I've got them adjusted so fine that I do not feel any paddle movement at all when I produce Morse Code characters. It's the closest thing that I can get to using a touch keyer without using, well ........ a touch keyer.

Last night I felt a very small pang of guilt for neglecting my Vibroplex Orignal Standard. It sits there looking lonely and underused. So I switched the K2 over to "hand key" mode and plugged the Bug in. I was really surprised because I thought after the layoff that I was going to sound real lousy. Just the opposite occured when I started tossing the finger pieces back and forth. My code actually sounded agreeable (even decent!) to my own ear. As I am by far my own worst critic; it might have even sounded better than decent to fellow hams.

I originally had no idea why the layoff would have allowed me to send such decent sounding code. But looking at it 24 hours later, I think I might have an explanation. Going back to the paddles and keyer for a month got my ear retrained to what "machine perfect" code sounds like. It's not that I don't want any soul or personality in my Morse while using a Bug; it's just that I want to be good enough to the point where I don't send receiving ops screaming into the night with their ears bleeding from trying to decipher terrible sending. Listening to the keyer produced code helped me to send code that sounded almost as good using a mechanical device. In other words, if you know what good is supposed to sound like; then it becomes a bit easier to try and match it.

I ended up having an hour long rachew with a Ham, using the Bug. I have to figure that he was either amazingly polite; or that my sending was good enough where he didn't mind conversing with me for that period of time. In retrospect, my sending must have been good enough; no one's that polite anymore that they would put up with an hour of torture if they didn't have to.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lest We Forget .......

I was saddened to learn of the passing away of a good friend this week. Charlie Laterra, N2LHD has become a Silent Key.

I knew Charlie before I even formally met him. How is that possible? I am not a big 2 Meter repeater guy. I get on occasionally; but 95% of the time I just listen. I remember back in the early 90s listening to Charlie N2LHD on the ETS of NJ (Greenbrook) repeater. Charlie was always involved in QSOs with Al Blasucci W2KOG. Both of these Sons of Italy had some good QSOs on the repeater. In fact, Charlie always had good QSOs on the repeater no matter whom he was speaking with! Charlie was a natural born Ham. He could talk the ears off an elephant; and everyone always loved to talk to Charlie. Charlie was one of those Hams that EVERYBODY knew.

Anyway, I remember listening one day and hearing Charlie tell Al that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer and that he was going into the hospital the following week for a laryngectomy. You could tell that Charlie was devastated. The thought of possibly never being able to talk again was eating him up. So then and there, I decided to send him a QSL card. I wrote something to the effect of, "You don't know me because we've never met. But I hear you all the time on the Greenbrook repeater and I'm sending you my wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery". After the surgery was over; Charlie sent me a "thank you" on a QSL card which hangs on my shack wall to this very day.

Charlie was soon on the air again, using an electric larynx. He learned to talk all over again and could often be found in his truck - steering with one hand and shifting with the other; all the while holding a microphone and yakking away on some repeater. Charlie sold provisions to Italian Delis all around the greater NorthEast. Charlie had more friends on his route than you can shake a stick at.

I formally met Charlie when I was introduced to the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club, by my friend Bob W3BBO. Charlie was one of the pillars of the club. He was quick with a joke and a smile. He was always concerned enough to pull you on the side to ask how you and your family were doing. Charlie genuinely and sincerely liked people.

When ever PARC ran an auction; or got involved in Field Day, Charlie could always be found in the middle of the action. I can't even begin to tell you how many Pasta machines or spaghetti bowls or espresso machines that he donated to be used as door prizes at our yearly auction. And when Field Day came, Charlie was always helping Norman KB2SBB (another SK) to be our field cook. And these two characters knew how to cook. At the zenith of PARC's existance, I think our Field Day efforts became better know for the food than for our operating or our scores.

Charlie was into photography - big time! He was always taking pictures and was proud of his cameras. Since he knew I made my living in the pro photo field; he would always ask me questions about this and that, which lens to use, which flash to buy. I never, ever tired talking with Charlie about photography. He had an infectious enthusiasm that was special. I have a photo that Charlie took. In 1994, a bunch of PARC members took a trip to Dayton Hamvention together. It was Rich AA2KS, Bob W3BBO, Bill W2WK, Rich W2PQ, Charlie N2LHD and Jimmy N2LFI and myself among others. When we stopped to gas up, Charlie pulled us over to the side and snapped a group picture. I wish he had brought along a tripod so he could have put the camera on self timer and gotten into the picture himself. Bob W3BBO gave a copy of the photo in a frame engraved with "Dayton 1994" on it to all of us who went that year. This photo is another prized posession in the shack.

And that year was the best time I ever had at Hamvention - ever! We caravanned from Piscataway, NJ to Dayton, Ohio. Several of us were in Richie AA2KS's brand new Cadillac and we followed Charlie who was driving his Linguini (Lincoln Town Car). I distinctly remember Richie AA2KS making us wipe off our muddy shoes with a towel before he would let us in his brand new car! Those were good times. I also remember that Rich W2PQ, or someone, brought along a cassette of "The Jerky Boys" - we howled all the way to Dayton!

When I met my future wife and kind of strayed away from radio for a bit to make plans to get married, buy a house, start a family; I still managed to catch Charlie from time to time on the repeater. He was always there to say "Hi" and to ask how things were going. Once I moved to South Plainfield, whenever Charlie would see my red Jeep on the road, he'd always give me a honk. Charlie lived by the credo that family and friends were everything. In the end, material possessions were not much of anything. You were rich if you had a lot of friends and family; and love.

Charlie, you were the richest man I know. God bless you and keep you and shine His light upon you. Look down on me from time to time and send a prayer my way if you can. I'm going to miss you.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: I recently ran into Tim Halloran KC2PLK, one of the Hams from the Technician Class that we gave last year. Tim was telling me that at the last ETS of NJ meeting, the discussion of the evening naturally centered around Charlie. It seems that Charlie was out and about his normal sales route in the Philadelphia area. He checked into a hotel for the evening; and was feeling pretty bad. He called "911" from the hotel and was rushed to a local Philadelphia hospital. He was diagnosed as having an anyeurism. He was being prepped for surgery to repair the anyeurism when it gave out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not so new ...... but improved!

Ray Goff, G4FON, has just announced the newest release of his "Koch Trainer" Morse Code tutor software. This release is Version 9.

This is by far the best Morse Code tutor program that I have come across. It is a Windows program that can benefit beginners and veterans alike.

Want to learn the Code? You can take it one or two characters at a time, practicing them until you become comfortable. Then you can add as many as you wish, whenever you wish.

Think of it this way ...... if you learn only two characters per evening, you can learn the entire alphabet in under two weeks! There are so many features to Koch Trainer that if I tired to list them all here; I'm sure I'd forget some. However, some of the neater features are being able to introduce QRM (interference) and QSB (fading) into your practice to make it more "lifelike". You can practice receiving random letter groups, common words, QSOs or callsigns. You can set the practice spped from anywhere from 5 WPM to 70 WPM. You can also save a practice session as an audio file so you can burn it to a CD and listen to it in your car back and forth to work.

Best of all; this is all free! Ray charges nothing for his program; and that my friends, is truly remarkable. You can download it for free at: http://www.g4fon.net/

I wish I had a personal computer and software like this when I was learning the code. Sure beats cassette tapes!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, October 23, 2006

Where'd everybody go?

I went down to the basement, after tucking in my kids for the night, to fire up the K2 and enjoy some Amateur Radio fellowship.

Nothing there! And I mean nothing!

I must have called CQ on 40 and then 80 Meters for over an hour. Tuning up and down both bands revealed precious little in the way of signals. I looked at the solar conditions on the Web and found no evidence of any disturbances or storms.

If this keeps up; and we don't get more guys on the air on a regular basis; then it won't be any real big surprise when our bands finally get taken away for good.

Use 'em or lose 'em, guys!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall QSO Party

This weekend was the QRP Amateur Radio Club International Fall QSO Party. This was a 36 hour event sponsored by the QRP-ARCI for all QRP ops to work as many other QRP stations as possible within 24 hours. Even though the event ran for 36 hours, any one operator was allowed to operate a maximum of 24 hours.

Of course, that limit is no big disappointment for me; as I come nowhere close to being able to operate for that kind of amount of time!

Priorities, priorities, priorities. As much as I love amateur radio, other things come first. Like my kids, like housework, like yardwork; and the list goes on and on and on. So, in the limited time that I was able to operate, I did surprisingly well for myself. In about three or four hours worth of operating time I ended up working about 75 stations. That really brought up my QSO total as a result of the dip it took from spending time watching baseball these past few weeks!

A few surprises were in store. First was that 40 Meters, which is usually my "go to" band was a big disappointment this time around. A RTTY contest (what else?) wiped the band out on Saturday; and then Illinois QSO Party seemed to dominate the band on Sunday. So this time, the bulk of my contacts came on 80 and 20 Meters. Another pleasant surprise was that 15 Meters was open for a tiny bit on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I heard some activity there; and actually managed to work three or four stations.

The last pleasant surprise was working my friend Bob W3BBO on 40 Meters on Saturday afternoon. Bob was sitting on a frequency, running stations. I responded and he came back to me. He was a good 599; and in fact was 599+. Bob came back to me and told me my signal was quite loud too, which is always nice to hear. Amazing what 5 Watts will do!

All in all, it was a good radio weekend. I was happy for the opportunity to get on and wrack up my QSO total. I'm over 1500 for the year now. It's looking doubtful that I will hit my goal of 2006 QSOs for 2006; but I should do at least as well, or better than last year.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, October 20, 2006

Back in the saddle again

Boy, I haven't been on the air at nights for only about a week during the Mets run through the playoffs. It felt good to get back on again! Both 40 Meters and 80 Meters seemed to be in good shape, though it was hard to tell on 40 Meters. Another RTTY contest is running this weekend; and there were wall to wall RTTY signals almost all the way down to the Extra class CW subsband.

I did manage to work Dan KB6NU for a bit right in the vicinity of 7.030 MHz. It's always good to hook up with Dan for a QSO. This time we spent a little time talking about the World Series. Dan lives in Michigan and the 2006 World Series starts tomorrow night in Detroit. Then we reminisced a bit about the last St. Louis - Detroit World Series in 1968. That was also the year that Denny McClain won 30 games for the Tigers.

After signing with Dan, I popped on over to 80 Meters and heard John Shannon calling CQ as N3A. The NAQCC is running a special event celebrating the 1st year anniversary of the club by running the callsign N3A. If you get a chance, please work N3A, by all means. I might get lucky enough to use the callsign myself later this week.

Lastly I worked Greg W2YYS up in the SKCC area of 80 Meters (translate: on or around 3.720 MHZ in the Novice subband). Greg and I have worked before; about a year and a half ago. We exchanged SKCC numbers and a quick search in Win-EQF revealed that Greg was my 71st SKCC QSO. So, I'm not too far from becoming an SKCC Centurion! I'll have to keep visiting that are of the band, often. I started out using my Vibroplex Original; but switched over to my Nye Speed-X straight key in order to give Greg my SKCC number. I'm still kind of sloppy in sending "4"s via the bug. So there would be no confusion, I switched over to the straight key. Greg was using a straight key that he's had since 1948.

Another neat thing is that Greg lives on Cape Cod, not too far from Wellfleet. Wellfleet is where Marconi had an experimental wireless station setup in his efforts to send a radio signal across the Atlantic. The site is now a National Historical Site, run by the National Park Service. The station ruins are right on the sand dunes, real close to the sea. You can stand on the shore and look out over the ocean and just close your eyes and imagine your HF signal jumping off your antenna to span the briney vastness on it's way around the world. Cool stuff!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Back to radio!

My friend Bob W3BBO sent me an e-mail this morning, titled, "Meanwhile, Back to Radio!". It was Bob's way of offering me some consolation about the Mets losing out to the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League pennant. I appreciate that; and I appreciate the gentle reminder that there ARE indeed good things in life besides baseball.

I've been caught up in the maelstrom of innings, balls, strikes, outs and at-bats the past few weeks. It will be good to get back to the routine of evening QSOs on 40 and 80 meters each night. Also, there are kits to build and projects to finish.

Immediately, however, is the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party which takes place tomorrow. I know I won't be able to put in a substantial effort; but maybe I can get a decent number of QSOs in. There seems to be nothing too, too pressing to be done tomorrow; so maybe I can get a few hour's worth of operating in, here and there scattered throughout the day.

It will be good to get back into the swing of things again.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on Father Moran

If you've read the article I mentioned in my last post; you'll get an idea on how well loved by the Amateur Radio community Father Moran was. This post by Mike Schatzberg W2AJI appeared on the DX News reflector. It's an e-mail that he wrote to the author of that article.
Hello Brooke:

I particularly enjoyed your article about Moran, as he
called himself on the air. Everyone knew he was Father
Moran, but when asked, he would just say "my name is Moran".

While you may remember him from the pile-ups on 15 or
20 meters, I remember hearing his "BREAK" while chatting
with local stations on 15 meters, way back in the sixties.

"Standby breaking station," said I. I then finished my last
thought, and said, "breaker go ahead please".

Then I heard, "This is 9N1 Mickey Mouse", said the voice.
"This is Moran in Katmandu".

I was really stunned, here he was, the best known DX
station in the entire world, breaking into my QSO.
I swallowed hard, and said, "hello Father, how
are you today?" Moran said, "Mike, (God he knew my
name from reading the mail), have you got the newspaper
there with the scores from the weekend football?"

"Sure Father, let me see where it is".

"Tell me how Notre Dame made out on Saturday please".

Well, that was the beginning of many contacts with
Father Moran. I often read the scores to him, and he
always broke in when he heard my signals. My callsign
for 42 years was WB2AJI, and I was operating from
West Orange, New Jersey in the sixties.

To avoid creating pile ups, I always mumbled his callsign.
His signal wasn't very strong as I remember, and I could
almost keep a contact with him a secret for a while, until
the anxious tuner uppers would finally bury Moran's little
signal.

Thanks for putting a smile on my face tonight as I read
your article. I remain an active DXer to this day, but
those contacts with Father Moran were really special.

73,

Mike Schatzberg
W2AJI

Thanks Mike, for the cool post. I always enjoy these
"personal" stories. This is part and parcel of what makes
Amateur Radio so great!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not much radio

I have to admit; I have not been on the radio for a few nights now. My first passion, baseball, is taking center stage right now.

But just because I haven't been on the air doesn't mean that I've been ignoring the hobby. I caught this on the DX News e-mail reflector. It's a great story about Father Moran, 9N1MM who operated out of Nepal for many years.

Go to http://www.internationalfamilymag.com/fables/septstories06.htm
to read it.

The Run For The Bacon, which ran on Sunday night was a huge success. It's only three days after and already we've got roughly 35 folks who have submitted scores via the Autolog. Maybe we'll top 40 this month, yet!

Things are extrememly busy at work; but it looks like tomorrow will be the last day of Indian Summer. High temps are expected around 73 degrees. Maybe I'll bug out to the parking lot at lunch time and get a QRP session in. If you happen to be on the air; listen for W2LJ on or about 1700 UTC somewhere in the vicinity of 14.058 MHz.

By the way, I'm still looking for a better straight key than what I'm currently using. I'm interested in picking up a Kent straight key. If you know of one available at a decent price; send me an e-mail - w2lj@arrl.net

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Don't stick your head in the oven ..... just yet!

Keith Hernandez, perhaps the first baseman the NY Mets ever had, is now a broadcaster in their TV booth on their TV home, Sports Net NY. During a particularly rough patch during the season, when the Mets were swept in a three game series by the Philadelphia Phillies, Keith was heard to say, "Hey Mets fans, don't stick your heads in the oven just yet!" Being an ex-player, Keith understands the long 162 game season better than any of us fans. And he was indeed, right. The Mets righted themselves and went on to complete a 97 win season.

Last night, though, a bunch of us were ready to open the oven doors and turn on the gas. The Mets won Game One of the National League Championship Series and were cruising towards a Game Two win when the vaunted Mets bullpen stuttered and gave away a 6 run lead. The Cardinals eventually won Game Two with a 9-6 score. Then in Game Three, Steve Trachsel, the Mets pitcher lasted less than 2 innings. The Cardinals bats took control, and they gained a 5-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Mets bats were anemic and the Mets lost, looking pathetic all the way.

After so many years of losing, we Mets fans are used to things going bad, and I guess some of us (judging from phone calls I've heard to WFAN radio) were ready to turn on the gas and open the oven door.

But the Mets bats came alive tonight with a vengeance! The young untested and erratic pitcher for the Mets turned in a gem; and the Mets have just won Game 4 by a score of 12-5 !!! The series is now tied at two games apiece. Mets fans have our ace, Tom Glavine, going in the next game, which just might get delayed one day by rain. That would be awesome, as it would give Tom his four full days of rest. Then the series comes back to Shea Stadium, where the fans are terriffic and are truly the "10th man" on the field.

Things are suddenly looking and Mets fans are feeling better. The momentum has swung once again; and hopefully the Mets will have completed dusting themselves off and will get back into the business of winning baseball games again. Six more wins and the NY Mets can be World Series Champions if everything goes just right.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: Instead of watching the game on Fox; I decided to bring the radio down with me into the shack while I joined in the monthly "Run For The Bacon". The game was tied when I sat down; but soon after, the Mets started hitting and went on an offensive roll. In the spirit of true baseball superstition, I guess there's hits down in that metal folding chair I was sitting on! Maybe just maybe, that's where I will spend tomorrow night, listening to the game and pounding out CW while the Met's bats keep pounding out hits.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ruminating on the R&O

It's been a couple of days since the FCC posted their "Report and Order" to changes to the rules of Part 97, the rules which govern Amateur Radio. The thing which sticks out in my mind the most is the increase of the phone band size on both 80 and 40 Meters. It was a sizeable increase; and a lot more expected on 80 Meters than was asked for by the ARRL.

Why would the FCC be so generous with the allocation? I'm thinking it might just be related to another matter before the FCC - one in which they haven't acted upon yet. That would be the much awaited decision regarding the fate of the 5 WPM Morse Code requirement to gain access to HF radio operating privileges.

Imagine the FCC declares that it is no longer necessary to know Morse Code in order to operate on the HF bands. Can you imagine all the Novice and Technician licensees who would instantly be eligible to get on the HF bands and operate? Where are you going to put them all? And you can imagine how many "wanna be" Hams would now be able to get on HF now that they would no longer be "burdened" (my sarcasm) by having to learn Morse code and pass a proficiency test?

I fear the FCC is clearing the forest and is making pasture for the inevitable increase of activity that would occur on the phone bands when and if they eliminate the 5 WPM code requirement. Unfortunately, that is going to put the squeeze on us CW ops. Even though CW is allowed on any part of the Ham bands, there are defacto "CW only" havens that will become smaller and smaller.

Of course, this is all speculation; but sometimes it doesn't take a prognosticator to see the future.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New QSL Cards

So I ended up having 100 of the new Flying Pigs QSL cards printed up for myself. The rough draft appears to the side here.

I'm glad I only ordered 100; because after approving the draft, I have already thought up a few changes! Naturally, I thought of these changes AFTER I approved the job!

I'm very happy with the design; but I think that the next batch will include in text the name of the organizations that I belong to, instead of graphics. I think that will give it a less cluttered look. Also, I can include (maybe) a list of the more major operating awards that I have earned up until this point of my Ham career.

I have to hand it it Sue and Hal at CheapQSLs.com, though. These two folks are pros in every sense of the word. Not only do they provide high quality (but inexpensive) QSL cards; but they also do it in a most timely manner with the highest degree of professionalism and the most friendliest manner that you could ever want! Companies that offer fantastic customer service seem to be on the "endangered species" list these days. Luckily, CheapQSLs.com is there to offer fast, friendly and more than competent service.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Report and Order

The FCC issued a Report and Order statement, making significant changes to Part 97 , the rules which govern the Amateur Radio Service.

I won't comment on them for now; as I have not had the time to read and review the entire document (which is 50+ pages long!). If you would like to read it yourself, here is the link:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-06-149A1.doc

Significantly, at this time, no changes have been made regarding the requirements for learning and knowing the Morse Code to earn HF operating privileges. It does look like the traditional "CW Subbands" will be getting squeezed a bit, with the expansion of phone operating privileges. In fairness, though, the use of CW is permitted anywhere on the Amateur Radio spectrum, save the 60 Meter band.

More to follow after some reading and rumination.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Polling

By the way, just a quick thought. I've added a polling thingy to my Webstite. It's on the "home page" of http://www.w2lj.qrpradio.com

It's nothing sacrosanct or scientific; it's just meant to be fun. So if you get a chance, drop by and vote! The question will change about once a month.

73 de Larry W2LJ

This may be it for a while.

Today looks like it will be another glorious Fall day, with plenty of sunshine and a high temperature expected to be somewhere in the mid 70s. According to the forecast, this may be as good as it gets for a while.

I will definitely be out there pounding brass during lunchtime. With wet weather expected for the next few days to be followed by below average temperatures; this may be one of my last few lunchtime parking lot QRP sessions for the season.

Look for me at 1700 UTC on or around 14.055 MHz or so. I should be out there for a half hour or so, which is as much time as my lunchbreak permits.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, October 09, 2006

I have to post this!

Jim Cluett W1PID is a good QRP friend. I always enjoy hearing his signal on the air; and I always enjoy working him. His fist is excellent; and he's a good salt-of-the-earth type of guy. On top of all that, he's an experienced outdoorsman who enjoys taking his QRP station out into the fresh air with him.

I like to do that too; but I don't nearly get the opportunity to do it as much as I would like to. So I kind of get to live vicariously through Jim. Lucky for all of us, he posts stories about his adventures on his Website (should you visit it; be sure to bookmark it!). For Jim's latest adventure with some really beautiful photographs, click here.

Jim is good friends with Dick Christopher N1LT. Dick is another New Hampshire QRPer with an excellent signal. I work Dick in a lot of the various QRP Sprints. It hasn't been a good contest unless I've managed to work either Jim or Dick.

Guys, keep up the good work; and keep posting your adventures!

73 de Larry W2LJ

QSL Cards

While e-mailing back and forth with Brian KB9BVN, we got into a discussion about QSL cards with the Flying Pigs logo on it. For one of the few times of my life, the light bulb went on over my head!

The QSL printer that I use, CheapQSLs.com features dedicated club cards for various organizations, such as FISTS, NAQCC and SKCC. I figured that if they print cards out for those clubs, they just might have an interest for doing it for the Piggies.

I contacted Sue with a rough draft. She cleaned it up and polished it off and between the two of us, we came up with the design above. The one you see is a black and white card. They are also offering the same card with colored type and a "pink Piggie" in the logo. Today, I got an e-mail from Sue that the cards are now officially part of the CheapQSLs.com offering.

You can see them at: http://cheapqsls.com/fpqrp.htm

Sue did a wonderful job! And her husband, Phil , is also a member of the Flying Pigs. CheapQSLs is kind of a misnomer; as the only thing cheap about them is the price. The finished product and the customer support are job A#1. Hal and Sue are so helpful; that it is hard to find another company that offers as much assistance as they do. CheapQSLs is an American owned and operated program that offers a quality product at a more than resonable price - that's a combination that's hard to beat!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bands dead tonight

I got on the air tonight; only to find a dearth of signals. Not much doing at all on 40 or 80 Meters. I got involved in a QSO on 40 Meters only to be sidetracked by a telephone call. By the time I was able to get back to it a few minutes later, the guy who I was working had wandered away.

Oh well, at least I got to see Kenny Rogers pitch a masterpiece against the Yankees.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Too Good to be True

I should have known that the QRP discussion on eHam would "de-evolve" down to name calling, and insults. It always seems to happen there; and that's pretty much why I avoid the eHam thing except to lurk at the posts.

But whenever QRP discussions come up, I get stoked. So I joined the fray - and unfortunately, I also took the bait. I got bent out of shape by the resident QROers who just can't help themselves from taking potshots at; and dismissing the entire QRP concept.

I jumped in and began dismissing the stereotypical arguements which dismiss the acheivements of low power ops. In one particular case it was trying to debunk the myth that QRP signals = weak signals posted by KØCBA. In a reply post I had asked him, if in his entire Ham career he had never, even once received a QRP signal that was 579 or better. I had politely stated that I had. I went on to mention the consistantly fine signal that is the product of the station of Todd Fonstad N9NE. I also mentioned the many times that Todd has almost blown out my eardrums with his powerful 599+ but only 5 Watt signal.

So for my efforts, KØCBA came back with a reply of his own. In it I was labeled a "jerk". He must have gone to the trouble of looking me up in QRZ, becaused he went out of his way to let me know that he was licensed for 18 years at the time I earned my Novice license. He also went out of the way to belittle the fact that I have a Vanity callsign. Heck with describing the post; here it is in full:

"I usually dismiss people like you out of hand and I may be sorry for this but you have actually pushed my button.

I was just making the observation that the receiving station deserves some credit too. But being the true NJ jerk you appear to be, you had to make it a personal attack.

So, you were licensed in '78? well bully for you sonny. I had 18 years under my belt by then. BTW, I had done my 20wpm at the FCC 3 years by then so I guess I'm just not impressed with your credentials....AND I didn't need to BUY a vanity call to try to wow people.

Agree of not, if you can't respect someone elses' opinion maybe you should 'belt up' and take a deep breath of that fine New Jersey air."

Boy, I must have really pushed this guy's button! I really did not mean to; I thought I was just asking a valid question and the next thing I know, I'm getting lambasted. But I've got to tell you, I kind of enjoyed the "sonny" thing. At 49, I start feeling the years catching up with me at times. Muscles and joints ache and get sore like they never used to. Being called "sonny" made me feel young again! However, on the flip side, I really, really, really dislike the derogotory references to New Jersey. You want to insult me? Fine - but don't insult the state I live in. I guess he couldn't think of anything better to offer.

Anyway, this was my response back:

All I asked was if you ever heard a QRP signal that was 579 or better. And I stated that I had. That is a personal attack?

Your response is a personal attack. Using words like "jerk" using the derogatory "sonny" and belittling my callsign is a personal attack.

OK - so you dislike QRP and QRPers - I respect your opinion. Different strokes for different folks ... relax, take a deep breath - it's okay.

Very best regards to you sir - have a wonderful day.
Larry W2LJ

BTW - I didn't "buy" the Vanity call to "wow" people. I got it because "L" and "J" are my first two initials. I apologize if that offends you.

eHam is really a cool resource. I've learned some good stuff over there and will continue to use it; and to even post there from time to time. The product review section is worth it's weight in gold, as far as I'm concerned. It just seems to be a darn shame that when you offer a differing point of view to some folks that they have to, in turn, become base and sink to the level of the lowest common denominator.

Oh well, another lesson learned again .... the hard way.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: When I made my previous post about this thread on eHam, I did NOT consider KØCBA to be one of the "banal, tomato brained ignoramuses". I had W9OY particularly in mind for that honor. I guess I'll have to reconsider.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Check it out!

On eHam there's actually a civilized discussion going on about operating QRP. Except for a couple of banal, tomato brained ignoramuses, the conversation has been refreshingly pleasant and positive; as well as informing and entertaining.

Click here to check it out.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A night of thunder

The past few days have been warm here in Central NJ, with highs flirting with the 80 degree mark. I guess not true Indian Summer; but close enough. True Indian Summer is when you get a patch of warm weather after the first frost. These past few days have been warm enough; but so far, no first frost ..... yet! . But any time we get a spell of warm weather after the furnace has kicked on for the beginning of the heating season, I consider that to be Indian Summer.

Tomorrow, the temperatures are supposed to fall back into the 60s for a high, with night time temps in the upper 40s. So tonight brought a batch of thunderstorms to accompany the cold front that's moving through.

In between two belts of boomers, I did manage to get on the air. I worked Frank K4WFM who resides in Tampa, FL. Frank and I have QSOed before; and it's always nice to work him. Frank was using his K2 to a 160 Meter loop. He was running 50 Watts and was a good 599. I, on the other hand, was running my K2 at the 5 Watt level into the G5RV. Frank gave me a 559; but indicated that he had a solid copy on me. His K2 is serial number 4191 and mine is number 4090; so we both built them roughly the same time.

Frank had a great signal and a great fist. It was a rather short 20 minute QSO; but we mutually decided to pull the plug as both our signals were beginning to fade (QSB). The band was devoid of signals. I guess everyone in the NorthEast must have shut it down because of local lightning. Frank was easily the loudest station I had heard. As I write this, the second band of boomers and heavy rain is moving through. I can hear the rain pattering against the skylight in the other room. My dog Jesse is curled up at my feet - thunder sends him over the edge. Doggie Paxil, anyone?

Even though the weather has been so warm; I haven't gone out at lunchtime to the car for any radio. In addition to a super heavy workload; the outside of our building is being painted. There are painters, ladders and scaffolds everywhere - I don't think they need me getting in their way. Maybe tomorrow, I'll park on the other side of the building, out of the way. A nice lunchtime QRP session in the cool, brisk Autumn weather might just hit the spot.

73 de Larry W2LJ (have to go over and calm down the dog - he looks like he's going to jump out of his skin).