Saturday, February 28, 2009

CFLs - revisited

From time to time, I like to look through my old QSTs and read articles I missed; or re-read articles that that I may have glanced over too quickly the first time.

In this case, the November 2008 had an article about making your station "green". Now anything that pertains to "green" tends to make me groan. Don't get me wrong ..... I believe in conservation, using energy wisely, not wasting resources and being a good steward towards the planet. But, in accordance with my Catholic upbringing, I believe that the planet was created for us; and not we for the planet. Ecology as a religion is just not my thing.

All that notwithstanding, the article was interesting and useful; as it contained some interesting information about CFLs - compact fluorescent lights. I have started using them about 16 months ago - mainly in my kitchen. The lights in the kitchen are recessed indoor floods and they tended to have very short lifespans. I switched over to Philips CFLs and for the most part have been happy with them. They do not generate any RFI that I can detect. I can have my radio on and if someone turns on the kitchen lights, I am oblivious to it. I can't "hear" them on the K2, which is known throughout the Amateur Radio world for its fine receiver. In addition to them being "radio quiet" the CFLs have lived up to their reputation of being longer lived. I haven't had to change them since I installed them. 14 months may not seem very long to you; but regular incandescent floods were only lasting 4 months or so - so to me, it means a lot. The thing I don't like about them, though, is that they are very dim on start up. I can come downstairs in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning; and when I turn them on, it's just not the same. Regular incandescent bulbs come on at full brightness. These Philips CFLs take about three or four minutes to "warm up" to full output.

Getting back to the QST article, the author recommended GE CFLs as they are the only ones that do not come with an RFI warning printed on the package. So when I went grocery shopping today, I bought two 100 Watt equivalent GE CFLs. And sure enough, there is no RFI warning label on the package (although there is a warning that they have to be recycled properly as these little devils, like all CFLs, contain mercury). I decided to test the author's claims and installed them in the two ceiling fixtures that I have in my basement shack.

His claims are true. No RFI that these 52 year old ears can hear, anyway! BUT, the one big difference I noted was that when I turned these puppies on - they are BRIGHT !!!! I would say at least 90% of their normal operational brightness. No annoying dimness while waiting for them to "warm up". And to me that is a big deal!

I can heartily recommend GE CFLs. They are "radio quiet" and I like the light they put out. The two 100 Watt equivalent bulbs that I installed will use substantially less energy than just one 100 Watt incandescent bulb that I used to use. It might take me a bit of time to get used to their squirrely corkscrew shape, though.

Which brings me to another thought - just how far away are we from the next generation of home lighting - LED based "light bulbs"?

73 de Larry W2LJ

Just in case

you never check out my "Amateur Radio Blogs of Interest" down to the lower right, please do your self a favor and either go to the SolderSmoke blog; or go to:

Either will lead you to a neat little 40 Meter transmitter kit called the NS-40 (No Simpler 40 Meter Transmitter). According to the article, it has only 14 parts and no coils to wind because they are etched right into the PCB! How cool is that?

At the same time, if you decide to buy the kit, your payment will help fund Ozarkcon. So you can have some fun melting solder and do your "patriotic duty" to QRP all at the same time.

I think I'm going to get a check out to WAØITP today!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Hooray! I worked the DXpedition today!

I got home from Church and saw an announcement by WB3AAL on one of the QRP reflectors that the K5D team was indeed on 30 Meters. He worked them at 1538 UTC.

Even though it was almost three hours later, I decided to say, "What the heck"; and I headed down to the shack and fired up the K2 and switched to the HF9V vertical. K5D was coming into NJ at 599; but I had a bit of a problem. The op was working a lot of Europeans; and propagation was such that I couldn't hear the Europeans answer. Thus, I didn't have a good idea as to how high he was listening. I flipped the K2's "B" VFO up two and kept my fingers crossed; and was lucky enough to grab them on my second call at 1825 UTC.

During my weekly conversation with Bob W3BBO yesterday; he informed me that according to the K5D Website, the CW side of the operation was sitting this weekend out because of the ARRL DX Contest. I told Bob that while I certainly respected their decision to not contest, I couldn't understand why they wouldn't then just operate on 30 and 17 Meters for the weekend, where no contesting is allowed.

We must have been on the same brain wavelength then; because they were on 30 Meters today; and I nabbed 'em! Thanks, K5D team! I think this was an excellent decision., as it gave us "non-serious" contesters and us QRPers a chance to get you without the heavy "normal" pileups!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Two blogs added

To the list of "Amateur Radio Blogs of Interest" to the lower right:

K3WI Blog - which seems to be a newer one; but I like the posts I've read so far.

a brasspounder's cafe - which is authored by JJ8KGZ from Hokkaido, Japan.

I hope you enjoy them!

73 de Larry W2LJ

ARRL DX Contest weekend

I've been playing around in the DX contest today. Not a big effort; just a sit down for a few minutes here and there between chores. It's nice to see 15 Meters open with great signals from the Caribbean and South America.

The Butternut is doing a fantastic job for me today. I'm working just about everyone I hear, even if it takes a few calls with the QRP signal!

Moved on down to 20 Meters for a bit and worked Ireland and Alaska - first try on each! The "magic of radio" rush always comes back during a DX contest!

73 de Larry W2LJ

The Gnat

OK - so I've been burning to build something from scratch for a while now. And today, on QRP-L, I think I found the answer.

Chris Trask N7ZWY published an article about a one-transistor CW transceiver for 40 Meters, called "The Gnat". Here's the link to the .pdf with all the details:

Looks like I'm gonna order a few parts that I don't have from either Mouser or Jameco; and then I'll get to building!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, February 20, 2009

From the ARRL Letter

This appeared on today's release of "The ARRL Letter". I thought it worthy to post here as many of you may remember reading of this man's ingenuity just a few years ago.


John Kanzius, K3TUP, of Erie, Pennsylvania, passed away February 18 in Florida from pneumonia. He was 64. Kanzius was best known for his research into finding a cure for cancer using radio waves, specifically 13.56 MHz.

In 1966 at age 22, Kanzius came to Erie, Pennsylvania to work for JET Broadcasting. After 24 years as a broadcast engineer, he was appointed vice president and general manager of the company in 1980. After retiring, Kanzius was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002. He summarized his chemotherapy in a February 2008 article in QST as "Hoping we kill the cancer before we kill the person". In October 2003 -- thinking there had to be a better treatment -- Kanzius had the idea to kill the cancer cell with radio waves, not a new idea. But Kanzius went a bit further: Instead of using needles, as was currently used, why not "trick" the cancer cells into absorbing a metal target -- sent by RF -- into the inside of the cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells alone?

In 2005, Kanzius teamed up with cancer researchers at M. D. Anderson (part of the University of Texas health system in Houston) and Rice University (also in Houston). Using nanoparticles -- metallic objects measured in billionths of an inch -- heated by RF using a machine that Kanzius invented, the researchers were impressed: "The research scientists at Rice were stunned to see that my device could heat nanoparticles at the 13.56 MHz frequency," Kanzius said.

Kanzius credited his father for his inspiration: "Trying to build an array that would heat particles one billionth of a meter in length was challenging. But building equipment all of my life was inspired by my dad, W3NRE, who was licensed in 1934."

Kanzius told ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, that if it were not for his Amateur Radio background, "and all the days of experimentation to improve my station, this new procedure for treating cancer, which continues to show such promising results, would
probably not be on the cutting edge at the largest cancer center in the world [M. D. Anderson]."

But Kanzius did more than just try to find a cure for cancer. In 1991, he was Top of Honor Roll in the ARRL DXCC program; at his death, he had 347 countries confirmed. In the March/April 1987 issue of NCJ, Tim Duffy, K3LR, described K3TUP as "a relatively new contest call," but said Kanzius had been DXing for many years: "As he has caught the contest bug, John has taken a station which was designed for busting DX pileups and converted it over to have the flexibility and brute force required to compete in Multi-Single contesting." Duffy described the station as sitting "situated on a high ridge that overlooks Lake Erie. The station is well secluded from city-type radio noise and the rural setting allows John to run several temporary beverages for low band receiving." Both Duffy and Randy Thompson, K5ZD, have operated from
Kanzius's station.

Pitts recalled that in 2007, he received an e-mail from a ham, asking if he was aware of the research Kanzius was attempting: "I looked at the attached video clip and I was skeptical. But I became more curious about this kitchen table tinkerer-ham and investigated the claims. I learned two major things: First, this was not a harebrained scheme -- it really worked (!), and -- even more important for me -- John Kanzius was a true gentleman. Bright, polite and enthusiastic without being overbearing, I liked him. Over the next months as I wrote the QST article about his work, I came to know him and his true desire to help other cancer victims. Since then, we stayed in touch by phone and e-mail. I enjoyed his delight as each step in the process of bringing his machine and concept to human use was proven by M. D. Anderson and other cancer
research facilities. Some people just make your world better by being there. John was one of those people. Though I never met him in person, it was always good to hear from him and I enjoyed the friendship. Losing him makes the world a little colder. I will miss him."

Kanzius is survived by his wife Marianne, two daughters -- Sherry Kanzius and Toni Palmer -- and two grandchildren. Calling hours are Sunday, February 22 from 2-5 PM and 7-9 PM at the Duskas-Martin Funeral Home , 4216 Sterrettania Rd, Erie, Pennsylvania. A funeral service is planned for 10:30 AM on Monday, February 23 at the Episcopal Cathedral of St Paul , also in Erie. Memorial contributions may be made to the John Kaznius Research Fund, Palace Business Center, 915 State St, Erie, PA 16501.


Rest in Peace, John.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh My!

I must profess a certain amount of naivete' when it comes to DX pileups. I am certainly not a big gun DXer although I am not afraid to jump into the fray.

Today while testing the futile K5D waters, I heard behavior that I had never witnessed before in a CW pileup. It was behavior that I've witnessed in SSB pileups in years past; but never in a CW pileup before.

One Ham was calling on K5D's transmit frequency, so inevitably the "pileup managers" all started sending "UP" "UP". This must have frustrated the guy or gotten him angry for some reason, so he replied by sending, slowly and deliberately, "FU" "FU".

Has it come to this?

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Struck me as odd.

Last night, as I recounted earlier, I had a QSO with K3OXG. Tonight I got on the air and the first station I worked tonight was K5OGX.

Back to back QSOs (almost 24 hours apart however) where the suffixes have O, X and G in them.

I guess I get amazed by minor things.

By the way, the pileup for K5D on 40 Meters tonight is horrendous, with lots of horrendous behavior. I salute the K5D ops for putting up with the nonsense. I'm sure glad that I didn't have anyone in the shack that I was trying to demonstrate the finer points of Ham Radio to.

73 de Larry W2LJ


I turned on the rig this afternoon, to see if I could hear the Desecheo Island DXpedition.

I heard it, all right!

The bad news is that it was a mass of bedlam on both 20 and 30 Meters. The good news is that the signal to NJ was strong. I should be able to bag this one during the second half of the DXpedition, after all the Big Guns have gotten their QSOs on all bands from DC to Daylight.

If you're new to QRP - that's a sanity saving hint. Don't spend a lot of effort bagging the rare DXpedition during the opening phase. Save your effort towards the end when things are winding down. You're less likely to want to pull your hair out of your head.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Oh Lord, that felt good!

As a Ham who did the "QSO a Day" thing successfully for an entire year, a few years ago; it's frustrating when I'm not able to get on the air for extended periods of time.

That's why last night was such a treat. My wife came home early from work; and after a nice dinner that I prepared for both of us, I was able to get down to the shack to operate for a while. While she was relaxing, going over her e-mail and surfing the Web, I was able to pound some brass on 80 Meters. And boy, did that feel great!

My first CQ resulted in a call from an old friend, Dave W1DV. Dave lives in Upstate New York and had a solid 599 signal into New Jersey. Dave is a fellow SKCC member and we chewed the rag for a bit. I found out that he's out of retirement and back to teaching high school. It's nice when you can go into the logbook and read notes from past QSOs and carry on a nice conversation, rather than just exchange tidbits about rig, antenna, weather, etc.

After wrapping things up with Dave, I heard a loud CQ coming from a few KHz down the band. The caller was K3OXG, who turned out to be Lou from Waynesburg, PA. This was a fun QSO which I really enjoyed. Dave was using a K1 that he had bought used to a homebrew Inverted Vee. His really solid 599 signal was a joy to copy. What made it even better was finding out that he's just recently licensed (2007). He handled the key like a seasoned veteran! He was easy copy and it was heartwarming to see that a relative newcomer had really embraced CW; and was really enjoying it, too. Looking up Lou on QRZ, I see that he's active with the North American QRP CW Club, FISTS and the Straight Key Century Club - three organizations that I hold near and dear.

After the QSO with Lou, I turned the big switch and shut the station down, after being back on the air for about an hour. After all, it was St Valentine's Day and I didn't want to ignore my wife, the love of my life! A Ham is supposed to be balanced ...... right?

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A new link

After a conversation with Bob W3BBO, I am proud to offer a link to a new blog in the bottom right hand corner.

It's called, "Trail-Friendly Radio Extra" by none other than Richard Fisher KI6SN, who also authors the blog, "The QRPer"; and who also writes for WorldRadio.

Even if your more of an outdoorsman "at heart" than than in action, like me; I think you'll enjoy glancing at this new blog from time to time. It offers to be entertaining and educational.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No Atlanticon this year

As seen on the NJQRP e-mail reflector today, this was George Heron's response when someone asked if whether or not Atlanticon would be held this year:

"Sadly, no Atlanticon this year (again). Economic troubles, attendance problems, coordination time problems.

Maybe next year.

Now that my kids are getting older, I was hoping to attend one of these, one of these years. Looks like my chances are dimming.

Could this be a sign that the "Golden Days" of QRP are waning? I certainly hope not!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Another surprise waiting in the mail for me when I got home from work! Today I received the Winter 2009 edition of "QRP Quarterly", the journal of the QRP-ARCI. QQ is a wonderful publication; and is well worth the subscription price. Even though by no means do I have the technical skill or knowledge to grasp all the contents, it's still a treasure trove!

This QQ features a good Ham Radio friend, Jim Cluett W1PID. It's always a pleasure to catch Jim on the air; and it's always fun to read his stories about QRP in the great outdoors. I haven't read the article yet; but am very much looking forward to it. I noticed that the editors of QQ did something different this issue with regards to Jim's article. In the main body of QQ, the photos that occur are published in black and white. Jim's article was accompanied by some many wonderful color photos that they took the extraordinary step of eliminating advertising from the back inside cover and published Jim's photos in color! That's a tribute!

BTW, if you want to visit W1PID's Website - click here.

Other articles that I want to spend some time reading are Roy Lewallen W7EL's article on QRP Field Day with Tips and Tales. And in the QRP World News department, there's a short bio of how Oleg Borodin RV3GM got into Ham Radio. For those of you who don't know, it was Oleg who coined the term "72" that we QRPers use in addition to or instead of "73". To us it means, "Wishing you good QRP".

Also, there's an article about working the Ham Satellites using QRP. Hmmmmm .... an article in QQ and QST about the same subject in the same month. Is someone trying to tell me something?

Finally, one of the most enjoyable part of QQ for me is the contest section. While I am no means a big hot shot contester, I do enjoy reading the Soapbox comments every issue. I have come to know and become friendly with a lot of the Hams that send in contest logs; so it's a treat for me to read their comments.

If you are a QRPer and you don't belong to QRP-ARCI, you really should consider it. You'll find that a lot of the "Cream of the Crop" of the QRP crowd belong. And it seems the best new ideas and technical articles make it into QQ sooner or later. Even if you're like me and don't pretend to understand half of it with any authority, you still have to shake your head in admiration of the guys who come up with this stuff.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, February 02, 2009


The February issue of QST came in today's mail; and from the looks of things, there seems to be a few articles there that have actually caught my eye this month!

When RS10 and RS12 were happily orbiting the earth, I was quite the fan of them. While I didn't achieve WAS on them, I did manage a QSO with a Ham from the UK, which was pretty rare, as the two LEO satellites didn't have huge footprints. Related to this, there's an article on working the LEO FM satellites which has piqued my interest. Yes, I know it's voice and not CW (still QRP however!); but "man was not meant to live on bread alone", eh?

There are also articles on logging, which is always a favorite subject of mine. Also, during a cursory glance of the issue, there appears to be an interesting Vibroplex related article. Love those bugs!

The last article that I want to investigate further, is entitled "Build a Battery in a Box" which is about a contained AC to DC power system. That might spawn some ideas for a better portable QRP power system.

Happy reading!

73 de Larry W2LJ