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!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This & that

I ate lunch at my desk today at work - it was one of those kind of days where lunch had to be short and sweet. However, I did go over to Google and searched videos for "Amateur Radio". There were a ton! More than I expected. Here are some good ones, at least I found them interesting! If you get a chance, check them out:

"How NOT to put up an antenna on Field Day"
"Radio Hams"
"Neighbourhood dispute over a Ham Radio long wire"
"Swiss Ham Radio antennas aerial view with RC helicopter"
"Arctic Radio"
"Andy Hardy and Ham Radio"

The one I liked the best was "Radio Hams". This was produced in the 30s or 40s and is like an old B&W movie newsreel feature. I can only imagine this as being the inspiration for a bunch of young Hams back in that era. The CW used in the short is quite easily copyable and in the end, the story has a real amusing twist.

I have also been playing with logging programs again. I don't know why; but I like to experiment and play around with these things. Once again, I have been playing a lot with AC Log. I deal with Excel all day long at work; so this program comes pretty close in appearance. It has a lot of nice features and I have found the ability to custom label a couple of entry fields to be pretty handy. Also, I have discovered (quite happily) that the memo pad field is just about as big as the one in Win-EQF, which was why I stuck with that logger for so long. It's a very flexible program, making customization very easy.

I have also been playing with AA Log. The neatest feature on that, which I absolutely love is that it works hand in hand with a program called DX Atlas. DX Atlas pops up a map of the world when you enter a DX callsign and allows you to see just where in the world the station that you are working is.

Once again, too much noise on 40 Meters to take part in the 40 Meter QRP Foxhunt; but 80 Meters was quiet enough to allow a few short ragchew type QSOs. Both of these were completed with my Vibroplex bug. I seem to be gaining in proficiency every time I use it.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Deader than dead !

The bands are dead tonight. I spent the last 30 minutes alternately scanning 40 and 80 Meters and calling CQ. You know it's time to quit for the evening when you start to nod off while calling CQ!

There's so much to do; and so little time to do it in. I've really got to spend some time cleaning out my shack. How my shack came to be the family repository for junk, I'll never know; but I can tell you that this is going to be a job that will take a weekend day or several weeknights in order to get it accomplished to my liking.

While I could be doing that, I find myself spending time perusing the Web trying to get some ideas for a new wire antenna this spring. Once again I find myself gravitating towards a Windom or some variant thereof. If I could put up four masts on each corner of my backyard, I would love to put up a loop; but my wife would kill me. She's not too fond of masts and towers and verticals and the like. If she can't readily notice it; then it's fine with her. If she considers it an eyesore; then it's a no-go.

But realistically, I am limited in my antennas endeavors by three things:

1) Space - this is the most precious commodity. I have one tree in the backyard. I am limited to an apex of roughly 25 feet as my maple had to be topped a few years ago for safety reasons. In addition, if I use that as my center point, I have one leg which can terminate near my son's bedroom window which is roughly 70 feet away. My other leg can terminate at the previously mentioned mast which is roughly 45 or so feet in another direction. My doublet (if you were to view it from overhead) ends up not running in a straight line; but more of a right angle, or "L" shape.

2) Money - Need I say more? I have family monetary concerns that come before my hobby needs. The more frugal the better.

3) Time - Full time job, family and a house and two pets to take care of. I can't spend an entire weekend futzing around with antennas.

What I will more than likely end up doing is making a "random length doublet" so to speak. I'll put up a center insulator in the tree. Then for one leg, I'll run as much antenna wire as I can until I reach the house. The other leg will run to the one mast I have tucked away at the far back corner of the backyard. I'll feed it with window line down the trunk of the tree until I reach the ground. I'll terminate the window line with a 4:1 balun at that point and will run coax to the shack. My own version of the $4 Special.

Someday, after I retire, I'll play around and experiment with antennas more. Currently, my operating time is at a premium. I just want to have a reliable hunk of wire up there that I can match up to using the ATU in the K2; and push in the big switch and go!

I see the VP6DX team shattered all kinds of records for DXpedition QSO rates with over 180,000 QSOs in the logs. I'll send in a QSL card along with my $3 "contribution" and will wait for a "snail mail" QSL card. You can request an "on line" QSL; but it costs more. I also think 3 bucks is a bit steep for some colored cardboard; but hey, that seems to be the going rate these days. I guess whatever money they make as a profit goes towards defraying the costs of the DXpedition; and I really can't argue too much with that.

Tonight is their last night on the air with whatever remaining station(s) there are that haven't been broken down. Tomorrow they leave the island and VP6DX 2008 will be one for the history books. If a DVD ever comes out documenting this DXpedition, I might be tempted to buy it. After all, who hasn't dreamed of operating from some exotic South Pacific tropical locale, being the DX that is being pursued by the entire Ham world! Now THAT would be living!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One-fer tonight

Today is Tuesday; so tonight was the 80 Meter QRP Foxhunt. And I managed to snag one of the Foxes. I worked Ron W8RU who is located in Michigan. Conditions were not great; and that is being charitable. The QRN was pretty bad; but Ron was a decent 579 through the noise and static crashes. There must be a weather front moving through as it almost sounded like it was Summer. But it was indeed NOT Summer, as I sat huddled in the basement in a T-shirt, sweatshirt and sweater on top of that.

After I worked Ron, I went hunting for Karl K5DI who is in New Mexico. I not only did not hear Karl, I didn't even hear the pack chasing him!

I switched on over to 40 Meters to try and work some of the SKCC Sprint. I worked N8XE and then the 40 Meter local neighborhood QRN machine turned on, obliterating the band and rendering it useless.

So I came upstairs to warm up a bit; and compose this entry.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Doing the Safety Dance

I checked the VP6DX Website this morning only to find that my QSO from yesterday did not appear in the books - boo, hiss! So this afternoon, I made it a point to work them again, just to be sure.

Around 2000 UTC, I heard them on 15 Meters. I must have just caught them as the band was changing; because in a half an hour their signal went from 589 to nil. So I waited for the propagation to do its thing on 17 Meters again. Bingo! At 2148 UTC they were loud again (louder than yesterday) and I nabbed them again.

Wouldn't you know ..... just as I came upstairs from the basement shack after working them again, I got an e-mail from W3BBO informing me that my QSO from yesterday had just appeared on the online log just a few minutes previously! Well, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry in any event; and once more the K2 "mojo" got to do its thing.

Before working Ducie again, I managed to snag 8R1PW on 20 Meters for Guyana. And last night, I was fortunate to snag Z32ID for Macedonia. I've worked both Macedonia and Guyana before; but never QRP CW. That brings my QRP CW DXCC redo country total to 79. Maybe if I'm extremely lucky and put a decent effort into it; I will reach 100 entities total by the end of the year.

Whether or not I make the goal; one thing for sure is that I'm having a blast in the process!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, February 23, 2008

VP6DX

There's nothing like waiting until the next to the last minute! With less than a week to go; W2LJ finally managed to work the Ducie Island DXpedition.

Wow, those guys have great ears! They have to; or I highly doubt they could have otherwise have plucked my 5 Watt signal out of the air.

I understand that the rig of choice for this DXpedition is the Elecraft K3; so from my results, I guess K3's enjoy talking to K2's and visa-versa!

Hopefully, all you folks have had ample opportunities to work the Ducie Island team many times on many bands. Since I'm not a "hard core" DX'er, I'm satisfied with the one QSO on the one band. Although, you never know ..... maybe if I hear them decently on 20 Meters at some point over the weekend .....

My G5RV did the job for me once again; but as I looked up at it while I was outside today, it is showing its age. UV radiation is causing hunks of insulation to peel off from the wire. I think this summer I will replace it with a Doublet of some form or another.

According to Win-EQF, Ducie Island is 5,543 miles from me. At 5 Watts out, that works out to 1,108.6 miles per Watt. Not my best effort; but not bad, either. I am consistently and constantly amazed at what QRP can accomplish - especially at the bottom trough of two sunspot cycles!

Thank you Ducie Island DXpedition Team of 2008 - you made my day!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Guess I Shouldn't Be Surprised

Did any of you catch the latest "It Seems To Us" in the March 2008 issue of QST?

Basically, it's an upbeat letter about how "There has never been a better time to share your passion for Amateur Radio with your friends and family members". And it goes on to list some great points. I paraphrase:

1) Our stations are no longer bulky boat anchors confined to the garage or basement.

2) There's a digital revolution in consumer electronics that's bringing exciting changes to Amateur Radio.

3) Computers enhance our operating.

4) The Internet enhances our operating.

5) Amateur Radio is the last communications link "When all else fails".

And these are all very good and valid points. However, it's Number 6 that rubbed me the wrong way. And here I will stop paraphrasing and will directly quote the bullet point:

6) Do they know that knowledge of the Morse Code is no longer a requirement for any class of FCC amateur license

But here they throw a bone at the roughly half of us who still think that Morse Code is relevant and important:

(but that CW continues to be one of the most popular operating modes)?

Now why am I not surprised by this two-faced clap trap? The ARRL has been ignoring the advocates for Morse Code for years. "Get rid of it and watch our numbers grow (and the ARRL's coffers swell!)." While they didn't actively lobby AGAINST Morse Code, I begrudgingly admit, they didn't openly lobby FOR it, either.

Ohhhhhh, and look at the tidal wave of new applicants just rushing in beating down the doors for their licenses! Look how our ranks have swelled to the newest and greatest of heights because we got rid of that nasty ol' Morris Code! All those poor, poor people who were denied their "right" to a license because no matter what they did, they just couldn't master Morse Code.

What a bunch of crap! Maybe, just maybe, if we had stuck to our guns; and didn't let the VEC dictate policy, we'd have an Amateur Radio license structure that means something more than it currently does. Something that you could be most definitely proud of and point to; and you'd be able to say, "Look at what I learned!" instead of "Look at what I memorized!".

I know there are still a bunch of folks out there (probably the majority) who studied hard and actually took the time to learn the theory; and to those I send my heartiest congratulations and "Welcome to the hobby". Fortunately, I've taught enough Amateur Radio classes to have actually have known people who fit this bill. They are a credit to our hobby; and they have truly earned their licenses.

But, on the other hand, I've also been a VE for over 15 years; and I personally know the other seamy side of the story. Folks who come in and take an exam and pass because they are good at memorizing answers. Folks who, if you re-phrased the questions they had just answered correctly, would give you a "deer in the headlights" look; or like you had three eyes or something. Folks, who if asked, don't really know the difference between an ohm and an amp.

And that is sad. Maybe we should be more concerned that quality should trump quantity; and that we shouldn't pander just for a "false" rise in statistical numbers. Which hasn't seemed to happen, anyway.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mission Accomplished !

That's Snoopy, of course; and he's helping me do the "Happy Dance"! At 1809 UTC on 20 Meters, I managed to nab KL7RA to finally work Alaska via QRP CW. Interestingly, my trusty ol' G5RV was ineffective on this one. After much calling without an answer, I switched over to the Butternut HF9V. I got an answer within a few minutes. Granted, there were some repeats requested; but we got 'er done.

Like the kids say about Pokemon - "Gotta catch 'em all". Well, I caught 'em all, now.

A QSL will go out, for sure, in tomorrow's (Tuesday's) mail; and once that confirming QSL comes back, I'll have those babies on their way to Newington faster than you can say "Jack Robinson".

Wow! QRP WAS during (for the most part) a solar minimum. This has got me licking my chops for the conditions we'll be seeing in a few years as more and more sunspots appear in the upswing of cycle 24!

Bonus! As Bob W3BBO so aptly pointed out to me; not only does this finish WAS for me, but AK also counts as a DXCC entity. That brings me closer to DXCC QRP to boot! Shortly before working Alaska, I also worked Antigua for a new one also. And going over my list, I see I made the "rookie mistake" of not counting a W station in my totals. So with Alaska, Antigua and the US, that brings my QRP DXCC total to 75 entities worked.

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS: A little while later, I got back on 20 Meters and managed to work 4U1UN for the very first time in my 30 year Ham career. I have NEVER heard 4U1UN without a pileup; and today they were calling CQ without takers! A double bonus day that I'll remember fondly for quite some time.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I did get a new one!

Country Number 71 towards DXCC QRP was tacked on tonight.

EI5E - Ireland.

40 Meters - almost down at the band edge. I was stoked and pumped and ready to look for more. Then the buzzsaw that is my neighborhood QRN came on, drowning out everything on 40 Meters.

I came upstairs and watched a re-broadcast of Game 3 of the 1969 Mets-Orioles World Series on Sports Net New York. Ah yes, pitchers and catchers have reported for Spring Training! It does my heart a world of good.

73 de Larry W2LJ

My Erie Connection

I am lucky in the fact that I know a lot of QRP Hams that I consider to be good friends who live throughout the country. I have an especially good friend or two in Erie, PA. I have been blessed to know Bob W3BBO for a good number of years now, since he temporarily lived in New Jersey for a few years back in the 90s. Through Bob, I have come to know his friend Neal W3CUV. Bob and Neal were licensed around the same time and they've been friends throughout the years. Neal has become interested in QRP and home brewing.

These guys do excellent work! Bob was over Neal's house a few weeks ago to go see the new SWL-40 that Neal had recently built. I know that he did a fantastic job as Bob has sent me photos of some of Neal's projects. Let's put it this way ..... if any of you ever have the fortune to ever own a piece of gear that either Bob or Neal have built, you are GUARANTEED to own something that was put together the right way and will stand the test of time.

Their "mini-QRP forum" as Bob called it, inspired him to purchase a Wilderness SST.


This is the bag of parts that arrived at W3BBO's house. Needless to say, after a few hours in Bob's more than capable hands, the bag o' parts in the above photo was transformed into the working specimen that appears in the next photo.


And "working" specimen it is! I doubt that anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis is a QRP skeptic; but if you are, and you're wondering what a "measly" 1 and 1/2 Watts can do - it can do a lot! Bob hooked up his Wilderness to his R5 vertical this afternoon; and jumped in the the fray we call the ARRL DX Contest; and in just a few hours, he had worked HG6, OK1, YU1, F8, OE4, 9A5, KP2, 6Y1, ES9, KH7, VP5, EA8, CT9, LY9, IZ2 and T99. Not bad, eh? And never satisfied to have just a "good" radio; Bob is in the process of installing a TICK keyer.

So that in turn, inspired me! I ran down the basement and hopped on the air for about an hour this afternoon. Kind of hard to do when your wife is working; and you're home alone with your 6 and 7 year old kids - but not impossible! I turned on the K2 and was pleased to find that 15 Meters was open (funny how "dead" bands are always open during a major contest!). In about an hour, I was able to work the following (with 5 Watts) 6Y1, TI5, V49, KP2, EE7, PT7, EA8 and V31.

But getting back to Neal and Bob; they are two very active and avid Hams. Bob and Neal are planning a few portable QRP operations this summer (day trips and such) from various places in and around the greater Erie, PA vicinity. Whenever I hear their plans for this coming season, I'll post them here. Listen for these two guys; and work them if you can ..... you'll have worked two of the best!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bone tired!

As you can see; there were not many posts this past week.

My boss was away on vacation; and I had to fill in for him at work. That meant some overtime; but it also meant a lot more "tired"! I ended up having to do his work as well as my own.

Today was a 12 hour day; and I came home and turned on the radio, only to be reminded that this weekend is the ARRL DX Contest. My brain is Jello-fied enough where the Morse just all runs together into one big blur.

So I am going to hit the hay early; and if I feel less like a truck ran over me, tomorrow; maybe I'll get on the air for a 'lil bit to see if I can possibly work a new country or two.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Another plug for Win-EQF

This has got to be a record for me - three posts in one day! But I got chased off the air as I just heard a few loud claps of thunder. Time to pull the switch; so I might as well post here.

I was rudely interrupted by the elements during a QSO with George W3ANX. Turns out we had a QSO almost to the day, three years ago. George had noted it in his opening comments; and I saw that when I entered his call sign into Win-EQF. The beauty thing about it though, was that I was able to make notes of that last QSO in Win-EQF's more than ample Notepad that accompanies each entry. I was actually able to ask George about a future project that he had talked about last time. Not only did he answer the question; but I think he was quite surprised that I had even remembered it.

To me, that Notepad is the best feature of Win-EQF; and it's that feature which keeps bringing me back even when I'm silly enough to venture forth and explore other logging programs.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Dziękują za odwiedzanie mojego blog !

I hope that translated correctly!

Looking at the little "Feedjit" widget traffic map on the right side edge of this blog, I see that I get regular readers from Poland. Poland is the land of my family; and to the (pardon the pun) Polish Hams reading this, I send you a very special "Welcome"!

All of my grandparents came to the United States in the early 1900's as part of the "Great Immigration". They all legally entered the United States through Ellis Island, which of course, is right next to the Statue of Liberty.

I don't know much of my family history in Poland. I know that all of my grandparents lived in the area of Bialystok before they moved to America. My last name is Makoski, which is actually Makowski. And that's how I pronounce it, as if the "w" is still there. Some time when my dad was young, he took the "w" out and signed all official papers "Makoski". To this day, am not sure just what prompted him to get rid of the "w"! My grandmother's maiden name was Romatowski. My grandfather died when my dad was very young. His mom re-married and my step-grandfather's last name was Rusin. My dad's dad was a farmer; and my dad was born on the farm in same town I would grow up in. When his mom re-married my step-grandfather moved the family to Pennsylvania which my dad considered to be his home.

My mom's maiden name is Kruszewski. Her mom's maiden name (my Babcia) was Sawicki. My grandfather was in the Merchant Marines, visited America and decided to return for good. I'm not sure how my grandmother came to America; but I do know that before she married my grandfather she worked as a maid for a wealthy family in Manhattan. My grandfather settled his family in New Jersey and worked as a carpenter. To this day, my sister has one of his home made rocking chairs. He was also an avid stamp collector; and each grandchild got a plate block collection when we graduated from eighth grade. Unfortunately, my dziadek died before I reached eighth grade; but he had one set aside for me anyway! I have very many happy memories of him; as he used to babysit me and my sister when we were very young. I'm so happy that he lived long enough so that I was old enough to remember him well.

After WWII, my dad's family moved back to New Jersey. They settled in South River; and my dad and his half-brother (my Uncle Frank) opened up a small grocery store, specializing in Polish style meats and provisions. Ahh, the home made kielbasa! I can still smell it like it was yesterday! The literal tons of that wonderful sausage that was made all year around; but especially for Christmas and Easter. We grew up eating that and the traditional pierogi, golumpkis, and pazcki, and krusciki among many others. The Christmas Eve Wigilija and the sharing of the oplatek at my grandmother's house are happily burned forever into my memory.

I went to school at Saint Mary of Ostrabrama Parochial School. The sisters who taught us were the Bernardine Sisters. They tried to teach us rudimentary Polish; and I still know a few words. Unfortunately, they are only basic words. Back in those days, every one worked hard to assimilate into the American culture and while Polish was spoken between my parents and grandparents, English was the common language. As kids, we knew the conversation was about something that our grown-up relatives didn't was us to know about, when they started speaking Polish. It is a personal goal that someday I will learn the Polish language. I figure if I can learn Morse Code (which is its own language) then I should be able to learn passable Polish.

I know my grandparents had brothers and sisters that did not come to America. So there have to be relatives still in Poland, that over the years we have lost touch with. My sister and I still try to keep alive the Polish customs that we learned from our parents and grandparents. Being of Polish descent is something that this American is very, very proud of. If you're from Poland and happen to be a reader of this blog, I'd be very happy to hear from you. The e-mail is w2lj@arrl.net

Mam nadzieję mówić z wami na radiu

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS: I apologize if the tranlations don't make sense - I used an online translator!

Kudos to the ARRL

I'm a Life Member; but not a particularly enamored one.

I find fault with the League for failing to take a strong stand in favor of the CW requirement in Amateur Radio licensing. We've seen what a "smoke and mirrors" deal that turned out to be! I also am not quite the fan of their "regulation by bandwith" plan; and I'm definitely suspect of their (what I consider to be) ill-advised love affair with WinLink.

But when they get something right, they get it right; and since I'm not shy to offer my criticism, I have to be fair and not be shy about giving them their due, either.

I haven't uploaded anything to Logbook of the World in over a year. I decided to rectify that situation about a week ago. I figured I'd get all up to date. So I went to LOTW, and figured out what my last uploaded QSO was; and made an ADIF file for all the most recent. It turned out to be over 1200 QSOs, by the way.

However, when I uploaded them; I found out that a bunch (over 1000) of them didn't "take". A little investigation as to the properties of my certificate showed, that while the certificate itself hadn't expired, the certificate would only accept QSOs up to December of 2006.

Not a problem! I simply went through the process of renewing the certificate and put in a "ending date" as high as I possibly could. In this case, the latest date I could enter was December 31, 2009. So I did that.

Two days later, the new certificate came in the e-mail, along with the .tq5 attachment. As per the e-mail, I double clicked the .tq5 attachment and the Trusted QSL Certificate program came to life. It did away with the old certificate and seemed to unlock the new one I had just applied for. I proceeded to sign may ADIF file with the new certificate and uploaded those over 1000 QSOs that didn't "take". Much to my chagrin and horror, they didn't take this time, either! My results message was that the processing of my QSOs had been aborted because my certificate had been "superseded". Superseded by what? I checked the certificate under the "properties" area and the serial number showed I was using the correct one. I was disappointed.

In my opinion, LOTW is unnecessarily complicated. I also use eQSL and find it much more intuitive and easier to use. Ironically, I'm not a big fan of electronic QSLs, preferring the traditional way the most; but I do like to be up to date with both electronic QSL powerhouses.

I was annoyed and vexed and was willing to let it just be. But then I saw the link on the LOTW page where I could contact the League with problems. I figured "What the heck" and fired off an e-mail with a cut and paste off the error message that I had received. I figured that if I ever heard from the League, it would probably be in a week or two.

I was surprised to see an answer the next day, sitting in my e-mail inbox! It was from Kathy Allison KA1RWY. She explained that I had tried to update the old certificate and was using that. Now, that was incorrect, because when I had double clicked the .tq5 attachment, it got rid of my old certificate. But then she added something that caught my attention. She told me to go into the Trusted QSL Certificate program and manually re-apply the .tq5 file (instead of double clicking) and then upload my log again. That worked! The program accepted my QSOs and I am up to date.

Being a curmudgeon, I did not expect such a fast response from the League. While their answer wasn't quite spot on, they did give me the information I needed to figure out how to get the job done. Thank you ARRL (in particular, Kathy Allison KA1RWY). You really came though this time!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Not so good tonight

As good as the bands were last night; that's how terrible they were tonight. 40 Meters was unusable for the Foxhunt tonight. My local QRN was 20 over 9 on the meter. I wish I knew what was causing it; it's very frustrating, indeed.

80 Meters was better. I was able to QSY down there and had two rather nice QSOs. So the night wasn't a total loss.

Speaking of total losses ...... another disappointment was learning that Mitt Romney has dropped out of the Republican race. Darn! Mitt was the only true Conservative that was running after Fred Thompson decided to pack it in.

McCain is a RINO in the truest sense of the word.

Let's see - ol' Johnny boy is:

Against tax cuts
Believes in Global Warming as a direct result of human activity
Squelched the First Amendment with McCain/Feingold
Wants to grant amnesty to all ILLEGAL aliens (if you're offended by that term (which is the truth) - tough!)
Very soft on border enforcement
Wants to endow Constitutional protections to terrorists captured in the ongoing War against terror.

I may be sitting the election out, come this November.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Rudeness bites!

The bands were pretty quiet and in semi-decent shape here tonight. This despite the wacky weather we're experiencing. February 6th and it peaked over 60 Degrees today! It felt more like Spring outside than Winter today.

So I expected to get on 80 Meters tonight and hear all kinds of static crashes and stuff; but lo and behold, the band was pretty stable and decently quiet. 40 Meters was quiet tonight, also. I called CQ on 80 Meters and had a short but pleasant QSO with Chip W9EBE. Things were going pretty well until a net started up so close to our frequency that it made carrying the conversation any further pretty near impossible.

Which gets me started off on a tirade. Don't net controls "QRL?" anymore? Just even for good looks, if nothing else? Not this guy tonight. He just started with his net callup and preamble without so much as a "?" before starting! Makes you wonder where these guys have their heads buried. I have a few ideas on how to answer that; but this is a "G" rated blog, so I won't go there!

Last night, I was reading a post by Steve NØTU on QRP-L about his homebrewed Buddipole. You can see pictures by visiting here. I was very impressed by Steve's construction. It got me thinking about building another homebrewed Buddipole, myself. I have no idea why; but I had so much more success with my homebrewed version than I ever did with the commercial version. My first QSO with my homebrewed version was with the Azores with my K1 at 5 Watts. Unfortunately, I gave my homebrewed version away when I bought my commercial Buddipole. I sold the commercial version a few years back when I got frustrated with the lack of success with it.

So for about 30 dollars I can make another homebrewed version. I just might do it for this year's portable operating season. Only two sets of coils, one for 40 meters and one set for 20 Meters - although if the sunspot numbers start to improve maybe a set of 15 Meter coils might come in handy, too.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, February 04, 2008

About as much fun as a tonsillectomy

I tried my hand at the Adventure Radio Society Spartan Sprint tonight. I did not have much fun.

40 Meters was once again useless, with 20 over 9 QRN. Unfortunately, 80 Meters wasn't much better. The QRN was slightly less and I managed 8 contacts. The band seemed to be in ripe, summer time conditions with lots of loud static crashes.

A good time was not had by all.

Where's the FCC? Why aren't they doing anything about all these consumer electronic home entertainment devices that are causing RFI? It seems you can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting yet another kind of poorly designed and constructed device that's polluting the RF environment with its spew.

Gosh, I remember the days when people used to complain how Hams were messing around with TV reception, causing weird herringbone patterns and the like. Now it's just the opposite! Plasma TVs, broadband cable modems, baby monitors and the like will be the death of Ham Radio when the aether gets so polluted with spurious RF signals that we won't be able to hear anything anymore!

VERY frustrating.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Sunday Soapbox

I've had the TV on the day long "pre-game" show all day long. I just saw something before the start of the game that left a lump in my throat; and a tear in my eye.

Various NFL greats from present and past read excerpts from The Declaration of Independence. It was moving and beautiful.

During the reading, I heard numerous mentions of "The Creator" and "Divine Providence". I dare ANYONE out there to tell me that the Founding Fathers of this great nation were not God fearing men who believed that relying on Him was not only a good thing to do; but a necessary thing to do.

Some people obviously "get it".

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, February 02, 2008

No FYBO here

Sad to say; but no FYBO here for W2LJ. My wife had to work today; and normally, that would not present a problem. But around lunchtime, I was sitting on the couch next to my daughter, and I noticed that her forehead felt kind of warm. The thermometer confirmed a 100.8 fever.

A dose of children's Motrin fixed her up right quick; but I stayed close to both my kids today to monitor them for any further signs of illness. Luckily, there were none.

I did sneak down the basement for a quick couple FYBO contacts and managed to work the ever present N4BP and Steve NØTU out in Colorado. He reported a temperature of 55 degrees, which was actually warmer than it got in New Jersey. I think our high for the day reached somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 degrees. However, it was quite breezy today; and if I had been outside, that45 would have felt more like 30!

Tonight, 40 Meters is abuzz with the NA Sprint. Hard to find a hole where non-contesting is going on. As soon as you reach around 7.040 MHz, the hard line RTTY kicks in and takes the band over. I did sneak on over to 80 Meters for a nice QSO with Mike WB2KKI, for a bit.
The Sprint is only scheduled for another couple of hours. I should go down there and see if I can here Alaska. The way 40 Meters has been long the past week or so ...........

73 de Larry W2LJ