Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun Sprint tonight!

Tonight is the annual QRP-ARCI Hootowl Sprint, which is always a lot of fun! This and the Michigan QRP Club Sprint, which was held last weekend are the kickoff events for the summer QRP season. As you can see from the image above, I was able to place decently a few years ago; and was quite surprised to have that beautiful certificate mailed to me.

The Sprint will run between 8:00 PM and Midnight, local time. For more details, please visit:

The QRP-ARCI events are always a good time. I hope you'll find some time to get on the air tonight and make a few QSOs.

And don't forget 80 Meters - the QRN has been not bad the past few evenings!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, May 30, 2009


This afternoon, the doorbell rang. It was the Postman with a piece of registered mail for me, that I had to sign for. It was my 50 WAS QSL cards back from the ARRL.

That was very nice; but somewhat surprising as I have not received the actual award yet! My past experience with this kind of thing has been that I receive the award and then a few days or a week later, the cards come back.

I'm very glad to have the cards back; but now I'm wondering if the certificate got routed to the wrong address. I guess if I don't receive anything in the mail by next Friday; then I'll either be e-mailing or telephoning the ARRL to find out "what's what".

Saturdays are always busy around the W2LJ household; and today was no exception. But I did take about a half hour out of the hectic schedule of things for a quick listen of 15 and 10 Meters this afternoon. Considering that this weekend is CQ Magazine's Work All Prefix contest, I thought there might be some activity on those two bands. I heard a few Brazilian stations coming through on 15 Meters; but the QSB was fast and strong, and I didn't work anyone. 10 Meters was pretty dead as far as I could tell. I heard one or two W4 stations calling CQ; but couldn't even hear if they were getting any responses.

Hopefully tonight or tomorrow, I'll get more air time.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MIQRP Results

Tonight I sent my log off to Hank N8XX for my effort in the MIQRP Memorial Day Sprint that was held Monday night. I did not operate the entire four hours, actually with the breaks I took, I probably put in about 90 minutes. In that time, I managed to make 34 QSOs. My score, if I calculated it correctly was 2,940 points. Out if the 34 QSOs, 10 were with members and I worked a total of 20 states on all the bands I operated on.

80 Meters was a disappointment. Considering we're well into Spring and thunderstorm season, 80 Meters was very noise free Monday night. It would have been an ideal band to work a lot of stations; but there was no activity. I worked three stations on 80 Meters from NY, CT and NC.

Once again, 40 Meters was the money band; and 20 Meters was decent from the beginning of the contest, too. It was good to hear a lot of old friends; and since this is a pretty casual contest, it was nice to hear the "Hi Larry"s that were included in the exchanges.

Ken WA8REI was operating portable once again, probably from his camper/RV. I worked him about an hour before the contest and he was very weak. He was telling me that he was somewhere north of Saginaw; but I couldn't make out much, as he was about a 339. When evening arrived and 40 Meters improved a bit, he was up to 559 during the actual contest. I worked Ken on both 20 and 40 Meters.

The contest was a nice capper to the holiday weekend. I did so many chores from Friday through Monday that it was so nice to sit behind the radio and just play for a while.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, May 25, 2009

QRP Sprint tonight!

The Michigan QRP Sprint is being held tonight. For me, it's a perfect way to end the Memorial Day weekend. Since Friday, it seems I've spent the weekend doing nothing but needed yard work and house chores. It will be nice to kick back tonight and spend a little "rig time" before heading back to the workweek grind tomorrow. (I'll have to stop by the Adult Beverage store and pick up a few 807s, too!)

For the details regarding this Sprint, please visit:

Hope to hear you on the bands tonight!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

The day started out as "Decoration Day" before the end of the Civil War. Ladies groups from the South would go to the graves of their fallen husbands, sons or fiance's and would decorate the sites with flowers and other small mementos. The practice soon caught on and the first Memorial Day was officially celebrated on May 30, 1868 with the decorating of both Union and Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Following World War I, the day's purpose was changed in order to commemorate the fallen soldiers from all American conflicts, not just those of the Civil War. In 1971, by act of Congress, the date of Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday in May.

Over the years, the emphasis of Memorial Day has changed away from its original significance and more towards the "unofficial beginning of the Summer season". However, in recent years, we seem to have reverted a lot of our attention back to the Holiday's original purpose - to honor and remember those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice for their country. Tomorrow, in South Plainfield, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars will visit the cemeteries in town, to play "Taps" and to place a small American flag on the grave sites of those, not only killed in battle, but upon the graves of all who have served in the American Armed Forces.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"

May the souls of all our honored dead be granted eternal rest and may Perpetual Light always shine upon them. Rest peacefully, Brave Soldiers - we thank you for a job well done.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, May 22, 2009

Patience is a virtue

that I am not good at!

I took the day off from work today, so that I could help flip burgers at my kids' school this morning. They had their annual "Field Day" today with games, prizes, hamburgers, hot dogs .... the whole nine yards.

Before I had to leave the house, I had about a little over an hour of time to kill. I went down to the basement and turned on 20 Meters and heard mostly a whole lot of nothing. Except for YS1G, who was running a pile-up. Not being the encyclopedia of international call sign prefixes, I enlisted the help of Log-EQF, which informed that YS is the prefix for El Salvador. It also told me that I have worked El Salvador before; BUT a quick check of that QSO informed me that the previous QSO was at the 100 Watt level back in 2000.

"Aha!", I thought to myself! Here's a new one that I can count towards QRP DXCC if I can nab him. Unfortunately, it was not to be. I spent the hour calling in vain. The QSB was wild, with YS1G going from 599 to 339 in mere secconds. It was like being on a roller coaster, without the fun. I heard lots of Eurpoeans being worked, especially a lot of Netherlands stations; and only a few state side stations.

If I didn't have to leave the house, I would have stuck with it. But somehow, I have the nagging feeling that conditions were against me today; and it wouldn't have been accomplished even if I was able to stay behind the rig longer.

By the way, it turns out that YS1G is a DXpedition of British ops to El Salvador. They leave for home tomorrow, according to what I've seen on the Web.

C'est la vie!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making high speed progress

Two weeks ago, I made a 40 WPM CW code practice CD; and have been playing it in the car each day during the ride to and from work. The first few days were nothing more than a big, "Huh"? The code slipped past my ears and brain faster than a 5 year old coming down a playground slide that had been buffed with wax.

It made no sense to me at all; and I was lucky if I could pull out a letter here and there. But determined to not ignore my own admonitions, I just let the CD play and relaxed the best I could, allowing my brain to wrap itself around the oncoming buzz saw of Morse characters.

Before I knew it, individual letters were sticking out and being recognized. A few more days and an occasional word made itself heard. Now I'm at the point where I am copying at a rate of what I would guesstimate to be 25 to 30% of the words coming at me.

I find that if I concentrate too hard, then I start messing up. The same thing happens if I concentrate on the code too little. There seems to be a zone of concentration that is just right; and everything starts to flow. I can't define it; and I can't explain it; but I definitely know when I am in that zone. I'll start getting 5, 6, 7, 8 maybe even 10 words in a row; and then "BAM", something upsets the apple cart and I start flubbing again.

Just for kicks, I went back and inserted the 30 WPM CD that I made a few months back. It didn't seem painfully slow; but it didn't seem as fast as I remembered it, either!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Elmering 101

If you're a regular reader of this blog; then you might also be a regular reader of Jeff Davis, KE9V's blog - "Calling CQ". He's issued a new post which you should make sure to read entitled, "Building a Better Blogosphere". It's a very interesting piece, which he addresses mostly to other bloggers, I guess; but it's worth reading just the same.

I started this blog with no real purpose in mind. Over the years (it's been four now!) I guess the main purpose of this blog has been to be newsy, helpful, entertaining and to promote QRP and the continued use of Morse Code in some small way. I've also used it to vent, rant, and blow off steam from time to time.

Related to this, was the result of the latest VERY unscientific poll that I ran about Elmers. The question was "Did/Do you have an Elmer?" With only a few hours to go until the poll closes, only nine of you responded, which is a limited sample to say the least. But seven of the nine responded with "No". Now THAT surprised me! I didn't respond to my own poll; but I would have more than likely answered "No" also. And all this time, I thought that I was the exception to the rule.

When I became a Ham back in 1978, there was a Ham living very close to me that I didn't even know existed. Back in the day when a lot of people were still running outdoor TV antennas, I guess he just wanted to maintain a very low profile. It turned out he had a very good reason. We had a mutual neighbor, who indeed had TVI "on the brain". As soon as he saw any new antenna of mine, I would get accused of causing TVI, even when I wasn't home!

But I digress. I got my ticket by taking an Adult Course that was offered at North Brunswick High School. The closest thing I had to an Elmer was Bill O'Donnell K2YJE who was one of the two Hams who ran the course. He helped the 10 or 15 of us earn our Novice licenses; and for that I am eternally grateful. I keep his QSL card on the Shack wall to this day.

But after that course, I was pretty much on my own. I learned Ham Radio basically by the "School of Hard Knocks". Fortunately, I never did anything stupid enough to get badly (and I emphasize BADLY) shocked or come close to killing myself. I did make blunders; and sometimes I was tactfully explained as to the error of my ways; and sometimes I was quasi publicly humiliated. In any event, I didn't cease to exist, I didn't leave the hobby, I didn't take my ball and run home. I plodded along, using the resources I had (which were darned few compared to today) and learned the best I could.

With that in mind, I've done my best throughout the years to be an Elmer in order to "give back" some of the joy I've received from the hobby. I've given talks explaining Amateur Radio to Boy Scouts and different children's groups. I've taught my fair share of license classes and I've spent a lot of time as an ARRL VE. I have also served as an officer in more than one local radio club.

Now before you get put off by this ..... I'm not trying to blow my own horn or anything like that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the main purpose of this blog (as well as my Website, for that matter) has evolved (for me at least) to continue those "Elmering" ways, while having fun at the same time. I sincerely hope that some of the stuff I post here is helpful and useful to some of you out there, somehow. If there's anyone out there that doesn't have anyone to bounce questions off; or get needed guidance or advice from - please feel free to leave a comment or question here or via an e-mail. I'm no expert, but if I can answer a question or help in any way I can, then I will be more than happy to do so.

"Now, for something completely different", as Monty Python would say, I was very intrigued by an article I just skimmed across in the new June issue of QST which arrived at my house yesterday. It's an article about building a spirally wound vertical antenna for 160 Meters. Since I do not have nearly enough real estate for a good wire antenna for 160 Meters, this baby just might do the trick. I have a corner of my property, behind the shed, that just might be the perfect place for one of these. I'm going to re-read the article a few more times to wrap my brain around it; and if I can convince myself that it will work, it just might become a Summer project for me.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Working All 50

I've been asked by a few folks, "How did you work all 50 States on just 5 Watts?"

It's not as difficult as it sounds or seems. Let me see if I can coherently offer some advice or tips.

My equipment for this effort consisted of three different rigs, an Elecraft K1, an Elecraft K2 and a Rockmite 40. The antennas used were a G5RV, a Butternut HF9V, a homebrewed Buddipole, a homebrewed PAC-12 and Hamsticks on top of my car. Nothing exotic or as titillating as stacked Yagis on a 100 foot tower. Power out was anywhere from 250 milliWatts to the full boat 5 Watts; and all contacts were made via CW.

First thing you have to get out of your mind is that this task is insurmountable. It isn't by any means. You will get your share of 339 reports; but you will also get, "UR 599, UR REALLY 5W?" Even though you're using 5 Watts or less, your signal will usually be loud to someone, somewhere. I've never bought into the theory that all QRP signals are necessarily weak signals. I've worked enough QRPers who have blown the headphones off my ears to know that's just a myth.

Use propagation to your advantage. 80 Meters at night will get you the states close to you. 40 Meters during the Winter evenings can easily cover the entire Continental US. 20 Meters will get you the distant ones, also. There's an appropriate band for every season. By getting on the air on a regular basis, you will soon get a feel for what's what.

Get in on the action and use the QRP Sprints to your advantage! Every month you have the ARS Spartan Sprint, the NAQCC Sprint, the Flying Pigs Run For The Bacon that you can use as tools to help you work all 50. All these Sprints have regular participants from all over the country. If you're new to this endeavor, you can get on a QRP Sprint; and if conditions are decent, you can walk away with 20 or 25 different states under your belt on your first try!

And you don't need to limit yourself to these. The ARRL's Sweepstakes and the ARRL and CQ DX Contests will help you work the harder ones. For me on the East Coast, Alaska and Hawaii were the most difficult, and I worked these during contests. Remember, Alaska and Hawaii count as different DX entities and there always seem to be operators from these two states on during the major contests. Also remember to take advantage of the individual State QSO Parties. You can check the N2CQ Contest Calendar on a regular basis to see which state is running its party when.

Get on the air! You're not going to work 'em all by not being behind the radio! Calling CQ, or answering CQs and just having ragchews was how I got Rhode Island and Delaware, two more of the "rarer" ones in the log. If you don't want to get involved with any of the contests, that's fine too. There's no reason to think that you can't work all 50 just by "plain ol' vanilla" QSOs. You can, but remember, it might take longer that way.

If you have multiple antennas, use them to your advantage. Let's say you're in Florida and you hear Alaska running QSOs like a DXpedition. You call and call on your dipole with no luck. Have a vertical? Try it! The lower signal take off angle just might do the trick. It might take a couple of hours of continued calling to work that "rare one" that day - and if you don't work him, don't be frustrated. There will be another time and another opportunity.

So be patient and don't get discouraged. Remember, it's not an issue of if you can do WAS QRP ..... the issue is how long will it take you to complete WAS QRP. It will probably not take you as long as you think; and if the sunspots start coming back soon, it might be even quicker than that!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, May 16, 2009

QRP Hall of Fame Inductees

As appeared on QRP-L:

The following people have been inducted into QRP-ARCI QRP Hall of Fame 2009

Hans Summers, G0UPL
This man is an inspiration to many QRP home builders said Rev George Dobbs. He has produced a whole series of novel and innovative designs for the QRP constructor.

Another said “He is an Elmer in the finest tradition of the term”

His "Pound Shop" radio articles let to a flurry of UK QRPers building something from almost nothing Perhaps his greatest contribution has been promoting QRSS equipment using simple circuits and very reproducible ideas His novel ideas for simple QRSS beacons have been taken up my QRPers worldwide.

Younger than many of the others in HOF, He offers us a future for amateur QRP design and home construction

Tony Parks, KB9YIG
The next recipient has brought innovation to the QRP and radio world by creating and offering specialised kits to the radio community.

More elaborate and expensive versions of his kits have been available for a while, but with his kits now every ham can have access to an affordable one. By putting inexpensive, high quality kits in the hands of experimenters this will advance his technology, as seen by the activity on the QRP email lists and Yahoo groups.

He has kitted thousands of kits and throughout all of this has had an incredible attitude and willingness to help other hams.

Martin Jue, K5FLU
A commercial vendor in Ham Radio, While his products benefit amateur radio in general, his impact on the QRP community is major both in terms of the products his company produces and his personal contributions to QRP and to this organisation.

His products are not strictly QRP, but it is clear that QRP has always been a major focus of his endeavours.

He has been an active supporter of QRP, and QRP ARCI in particular but not exclusively, as evidenced by his recent collaboration with the GQRP club’s India project. His donations to QRP in general and QRP organizations have always been generous and without “strings

Last year, he was approached while at Dayton to thank him for his support of QRP. His first words were, “What can we do to help your club?”

I could expand his nomination petition to a much greater extent, citing examples and instances of his contributions to QRP. Many of us probably have our own supporting experiences, so we really just need to focus on the fact that this man has indeed touched QRP on an ongoing basis to our benefit.

Rick Campbell, KK7B
The next induction is for a man who has the ability to convey complicated material by using simple analogies and practical examples, allowing his students to more easily learn.

He has also been the designer or involved in the design of several transverters, receivers and transmitters. He is a well known author and several of his projects have appeared in print. He continues to publish articles pertinent to QRP that are easily understood by average hams

He has been a speaker at FDIM on more than just the one occasion enlightening and entertaining us all.

There you have it - the Class of 2009.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Nicer than expected

It turned out to be a nicer day than expected. The forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. That may still happen; but so far it has been sunny; but humid. It feels warmer than the 66 degrees that it is.

I went against doctor's orders and mowed the lawn. I was supposed to wait at least until tomorrow; but since the forecast for tomorrow looks wet, I did it today. The only good thing about it was that it wasn't as thick as it was last week.

I got the WAS CW QRP award application and QSL cards mailed off to Newington today. According to the automated USPS "clerk", the package should arrive on Tuesday. I have no idea what the backlog might be on processing awards. It will be interesting to see. Since today is Saturday, to be fair, I will consider Monday to be Day One.

Maybe someone out there has filed for WAS recently and can give me a clue as to the current turn around time.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, May 15, 2009

Productive day after all

I managed to get a bunch of things done around the house even if they were light chores. Yesterday, I was told no strenuous chores or anything like house cleaning or lawn mowing until Sunday at least. So today was a Ham day for the most part.

I got my WAS QRP CW application filled out. I still have to get it mailed to ARRL; and will probably do that tomorrow. Also I got country #92 worked on 20 Meters this evening. Way down at the band edge, OX3XR, Peter from Greenland was working split "up". I got him on my second try.

If the sunspots keep perking up; maybe I'll be filing for DXCC QRP this year, too. Only eight more to go!

73 de Larry W2LJ

That's better!

Doing much better, thank you!

My jaw feels like I got whacked by a baseball bat; but the bleeding is over, thank the Lord!

I had some soup and some yogurt and a snack cup of pudding throughout the day. Dinner will be macaroni and cheese as that's nice and squishy.

Thanks to all of you who sent e-mails - they are appreciated.

On a Ham note, not much worked throughout the day. I thought a day off from work and some sunspots would yield some contacts. I worked Aruba on 20 Meters and that was about it. The signals I heard on 30 and 40 were very weak. In fact, the background noise on 40 Meters was so low that I had to double check to make sure I had the volume on the K2 turned up! I haven't heard it THAT quiet in a long, long time.

Since it's Dayton weekend, the contest schedule looks rather light. Maybe conditions will be good tonight on 40 Meters for a ragchew ..... if anyone's around!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This bites!

Or rather, doesn't physically bite; but is just as bad.

I had my wisdom tooth out yesterday. The actual procedure only lasted about 25 minutes or so; and I didn't feel a thing. I was shot up with so much carbocaine that all I felt was some pressure and not much else.

And, in all honesty, the after procedure pain isn't all that bad, either. The pain in the butt part is walking around with gauze in my mouth to control the bleeding. The surgeon had to cut pretty deep into my gum to get that little monster out. I got to see the X-ray he took and the tooth was coming out sideways!

Anyway, the wound was stitched up and now it's on the mend; and I have to deal with gauze in my mouth which isn't so bad except having something dry in your mouth is one of the most weird sensations!

And for the next 24 hours I am limited to food like yogurt, pudding, cottage cheese - anything I don't have to chew; and I am extremely prohibited from eating anything with small seeds like poppy seeds or strawberries.

I am more than half tempted to go out and get a pizza and put it in a blender so that I can have some real food! Just kidding.

On the bright side, I see where the SSN is up to 18 today. I took a vacation day from work; because I really can't talk too well with gauze in my mouth. I went down the basement and fired up 20 Meters and there isn't anything going on! Maybe there will be more signals later in the day when our European counterparts come home from work for the weekend.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Seller's regret

I guess there's SOMETHING, in every Ham's career, that he regrets parting with. In my case it was my venerable Heathkit HW-8. I sold that little rig probably about 15 years or so ago; and I still regret it to this day.

It was the mid 90s; and we were running another one of our Piscataway Amateur Radio Club annual auctions. We needed material and I had just recently figured out how to get my Icom IC-730 to go down as low as the 100 milliWatt level. So who needed that HW-8 at that point? I had a first class QRP rig for all intent and purpose; with a receiver section that literally blew the HW-8 out of the water. Foolishly, I brought it to the auction and got some ridiculously low price for it.

In my case, the regret wasn't immediate. It probably really started in earnest when the HW-8 started earning cult-like popularity. I had built it myself; and I still get nostalgic for it. I fondly remember regularly working Europe with its 2 Watts into a homebrew magnetic loop antenna that I had built from an article that I had read in 73 magazine. It was small, portable and light. I was able to keep it on the nightstand by my bed; and whenever I got a hankering to operate (or couldn't sleep) my HW-8 was turned on and I was working the world (back in the days when there WERE actually sunspots!).

Was it the best radio I have ever had? Not by a longshot. But I had built it; and didn't realize the connection I had with it until after it was gone. Maybe that's the "kitbuilder's / homebrewer's bane", in that we tend to consider our efforts more like kids than radios. They do become hard to part with; or maybe it's just that I'm an old sentimental sap. Probably that's it!

It's nice to see that these little gems still garner a nice price on eBay. Around $150.00 (plus or minus) will get you one. I would never bid on one, though; but I sure would like to have MINE back!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dayton envy

Back when I was single, Dayton was a trip that was always looked forward to with anticipation. When I had more disposable income; and only myself to worry about, making a yearly trek was an easy decision. I haven't gone since getting married. Job, money and family circumstances won't allow it.

Such is life; and while I don't regret the choices I've made, it would be silly to say that I don't envy (a little) those who are able to make the trip. I'd love to see the flea market again and would especially love to attend Four Days in May.

I did receive an interesting e-mail over the weekend with regards to Dayton. I am posting it here in the chance that it might interest some others of you, who like me, are not able to attend.

Get ready! Its almost here. In 3 days, on Wednesday May 13th, we will be starting our live broadcast. Watch our 10 hour drive of 550 miles on Wednesday from Memphis, TN to Dayton, OH. Watch us and others set up in the flea market on Thursday, then the entire show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

This is our 7th year to broadcast hamfest events. We are seen in over 150 countries and advertised to over 100,000 hams around the world.

We have thousands of dollars of nice FREE ham Prizes and lucky viewers will win some great prizes .We will interview Astronaut Richard Garriott,W5KWQ, at 2100 UTC on Saturday May 16th. During the interview we will try to ask Richard any questions you may have.

The web site is and we actually start broadcasting with our “helmet cam” Wednesday morning May 13th at approx 1300 UTC and will be broadcasting our entire 550 mile drive from Memphis, TN to Dayton, OH.

The video web site not only has the live video but also has a chat room where anyone can log in and talk to other hams around the world or to us.

There is a link on the left side of our website which tells of the prizes and what days each will be given out.

Follow us every move for the five days (May 13 – May 17). ARRS at the bottom of the page will show you our progress as we drive, or maybe you will recognize the road and landmarks.


So I guess I'll be living vicariously through Tom. On the bright side, at least I have DSL now and the video should be way easier to watch than on dial-up!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, May 11, 2009

Worth the price of admission

Once again, I'm not going to Dayton, although I'd really, really like to. In fact, with Thursday being the day that I'm scheduled to have this wisdom tooth out - I'd like to be pretty much anywhere besides sitting in THAT chair!

Then, to make matters worse, Doug Hauff W6AME announced the release of the above little beauty at Dayton this year. It's called the Bushwhacker; and it's a single lever paddle ( I love single lever paddles!).

This is how Doug describes it:

"Incredibly adjustable, the Bushwacker has three paddle lever pivot ratio positions, providing an incredible range of feel adjustment, from gentle-soft to hard & notchy, & anything in between!"

I'm pretty sure I want one. Here's a link to American Morse Equipment. Maybe I'll place an order after Dayton if I can get some coins assembled in an orderly fashion.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, May 10, 2009

If I Had a Million Dollars .....

or won the lottery ..... what would I make sure to treat myself to, Amateur Radio wise? That's a game that Bob W3BBO and I were playing the other week. I guess my list would be:

1) A brand new K3. This would top the list. I love my K2, make no mistake about it, but if a hunk of money suddenly plopped into my bank account, I would love to have a K3. It would be the QRP version, of course.

2) A Kenwood TH-F6A handheld. I could use a 144/220/440 MHz HT for my involvement with CERT.

3) New computers for the house. A new desktop up here and a new laptop for the shack; and I would like to set the house up with a wireless router so I could access the Internet without having to be tied to a hardwire connection.

4) A Bencher Mercury key. While an original N2DAN would be ideal, they're scarce as Hen's teeth. I've been told the Bencher is an adequate replica.

And I guess that would be about it. No, no tower or beam - I'm a wire kind of guy. Maybe one of those Force 12 verticals might be nice to play with; but I'm quite happy with my Butternut HF9V and my G5RV and my end fed Zepp.

The results of the last poll concerning logging surprised me. Paper and pencil lead the way (no pun intended) with a whopping 46% or 12 votes. AC Log and N1MM both got 4 votes each; while Log/Win-EQF got 2 votes. "Other" received 6 votes.

I didn't think there was that much paper logging still going on. I sure was wrong.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, May 09, 2009

First Communion

I was stirred out of my sleep this morning at about 3:00 AM to the sound of rain pounding against the roof along with flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder. A very short and muttered; but reverent prayer of "Please Lord ..... no!" escaped my lips before falling back asleep. Trying to transport a 7 year old girl in a white, floor length Communion dress unscathed from inclement weather would require some kind of doing. This might be something that even Daddy wouldn't be able to pull off.

However, the Lord heard my prayer; and while the weather was not perfect, the day broke with only partly cloudy skies and no rain. And fortunately, it stayed that way. It felt like a sauna, with higher than normal temps and very high humidity; but I was more than happy to settle for it.

The Mass went off without a hitch. The picture above shows my daughter Cara doing a reading of one of the general intercessions. She also did some singing; and to my surprise she had a solo part. I was floored! Now I hear my daughter singing around the house all the time; but somehow at Mass, hearing her voice and her voice only and in that kind of acoustic environment was very, very different. I truly did not know that she could sing THAT well; let alone in front of a church building that was packed to Standing Room Only status.

The meal afterward was excellent. It was at a restaurant that I have been to many times and I was happy to share some time and good food with family and friends. While Cara was supposed to be the center of attention; she was totally absorbed by the Nintendo DS that my wife and I bought her as a Communion gift.

I was brought to pause several times throughout the day to reflect upon how truly blessed I am and how very good God has been to me. My wife, daughter and son mean so much to me. They are so much a part of me; I cannot even imagine living without them. I only hope that I can instill the kind of values in my two children that my parents instilled in me. Hopefully, Marianne and I will do a good enough job that will last their whole lives through.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, May 08, 2009

Busy weekend coming up

Tonight, after getting home from work, I took the opportunity to mow the lawn. Ugh! It has rained just about every day this past week, with today being the first dry one in a while. Needless to say, the grass was tall and THICK! It was not a fun chore trying to cut through all that. I think I should have got in touch with Steve WGØAT and maybe arranged to borrow Rooster and Peanut for a while.

Tomorrow is my daughter Cara's First Holy Communion. The big day starts with Mass at 11:00 AM followed by a meal at a local restaurant. I think that I could have gotten a K3 for what this is going to run. Ahhhhh, ever the Ham - keeping tab of rig prices in the back of my mind! Anyway, close family and friends will be coming to help us celebrate the day. I am looking forward to it; and I'm sure my Cara will look like an angel.

Sunday is Mother's Day, of course. Happy Mom's Day to all the moms out there. I have no idea as to how we're going to spend the day. It' s supposed to be nice with sun and temperatures in the 70s. After that, however, I think it's going to be a rather cool week with daily highs in the mid to upper 60s only.

As long as it's dry, maybe I can get out with a few lunchtime QRP outings next week.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I started feeling that ol' familiar toothache pain again over the weekend. I thought the tooth I had a root canal done on a couple of months ago was acting up again.

I got some good news and some bad news at the dentist. The good news is that the tooth he worked on is fine. The bad news is that the wisdom tooth right behind it has a hole in it and has to come out.

I have oral surgery scheduled for next Thursday.


73 de Larry W2LJ

Ed Freeman

A friend sent me this today - found it in my e-mail. I checked this one out on

It's true.

Ed Freeman

You're an 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam . Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8 - 1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors and Nurses.

And, he kept coming back.... 13 more times..... And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient
, Ed Freeman, died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise , ID .......May God rest his soul.....

I bet you didn't hear about this hero's
passing, but we sure were told a whole bunch about some Hip-Hop rap singer coward beating the crap out of his "girlfriend".

Shame on the American Media!

Blogger's Note: This account it true; however, Ed Freeman passed away in August of 2008. We surely could use more American heroes like Ed!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, May 04, 2009

My poll

I'm a bit surprised that in this week's unscientific poll, that paper and pencil is leading the way so far.

Please do me a favor; and if you vote or have voted the "Other" category; please leave a comment here and let me know which program you're using. For whatever reason, the topic of Ham logging software fascinates me. I love to know what people are using and why.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Being crafty

Up until yesterday, my K2 "stand" was the cardboard box that my Yaesu FT-1500 2 Meter radio came in. It was perfect. It lifted the rig about 2 or 3 inches off the table; but yet maintained a flat angle for the front panel as opposed to the titled angle that you get when using the bale. I don't care for using the bale - I like the angle of the front panel to be straight on. Call me "picky".

The cardboard box served well for several years; but as of late it has gotten saggy. What I wanted was something the same size; but sturdier. Yesterday I had to go to a local arts & crafts store to buy some supplies for a school project that my daughter Cara has to do. While I was in there, I decided to walk down the unpainted wood aisle. That's where I found an unpainted wooden box that's normally meant for decoupage projects. The length and width are a bit bigger than I wanted (the Yaesu box almost mirrored the K2's dimensions to a "T"), but the height is perfect. And it only cost me $5.

So now, as you can see, my K2 is happily perched atop its new pedestal; and it's a comfortable fit for me, too. My wrist is at a good angle to manipulate the tuning dial and the buttons without getting tired or feeling cramped.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, May 03, 2009

NJQRP Homebrewer Sprint - Spring 2009 Results

After a bit of a hiatus, the NJQRP Homebrewer Sprint burst onto the QRP Sprint scene again in March 2009. As we've all been experiencing, band conditions weren't the greatest; but fun was had by all who participated. Many thanks to all who joined in on the fun; and SPECIAL thanks to all of you who submitted logs. Certificates will be going out in the next few weeks; so keep an eye out in the mail!

N4BP - 74,648 pts
K8NWD - 8,512 pts
W2LJ - 8,512 pts
W2JEK - 6,664 pts
VE3KQN - 4,400 pts
NG7Z - 4,368 pts
K4BAI - 1,680 pts
W1PID - 1,680 pts
N7RN - 686 pts
N4FI - 420 pts
WU7R - 168 pts
KK5NA - 112 pts
WB0OEW - 112 pts
N0EAX/QRPp - 40 pts


W1PID - Rig: DSW-20, DSW-40, DSW-80 Ant Windom OCF dipole Power 2 Watts - I operated for an hour. Very low participation. I worked Bob N4BP on 3 bands. Bob was my only QSO on 20 and 40. On 40 meters, Bob was 10 over S9. I used 3 different DSW rigs each at 2 watts. Where was everyone? Thanks for the contacts. 73 Jim W1PID

N0EAX - I operated on 80m only for about an hour and responded to several CQ’s but W2LJ was the only one to pick me out. I was running an OHR400 at approximately 900 mw to an inverted vee.

N4BP - Rig Elecraft K3, Antennas: Cushcraft A4S, 40/80 Sewper Armadillo Trap Dipole
Good condx and good participation! Would suggest a shorter time period however. W1PID called me a second time on 40M to give me an S9+20 report, he was same! Struggled to copy VE7DER on 40M and then worked him a second time on 80M. That corner to corner QSO on 80 would be hard to top, so called it a night after 2.5 hours of fun.

NG7Z - Elecraft K1 @ 4 Watts - Antenna 20M--Force12 C3 at 60 feet and 40M--Cushcraft 40-2CD 2 element yagi at 50 feet. Only had a hour available to work the contest. 20M petered out within 20 minutes. Jack WA7LNW had a solid 579 up here. There didn't seem to be much activity after the first hour so I don't think I missed much. We need sunspots!!!

N4FI - Used my ICOM 718 as a rcvr and a random wire ant . total length about 115' at 20 ft. It seems that the VA-QP took over the first hour here and could only hear them. I thought it was real nice of them to used the QRP freq to run their KWs.

VE3KQN - Condx were very rough. I was using a sierra at 1 watt to a 70 foot wire. Contacts: 40m - 5 QSO's - Puerto Rico, AL, FL, GA, WI Contacts: 80m - 6 QSO's - ME, MI, NC, NJ, VA CLAIMED SCORE - 11Q's x 4 (HB xcvr) = 44, 44 x 10 (250mw to 1w) = 440, 440 x 10 (spc) = 4400 final total score claimed..... 4400.



KK5NA - Worked in conjunction with other events that day...only heard two. Had a good time. Rig: Elecraft K3 @ 5 watts, Ant: EDZ @ 50'. Joe KK5NA

WU7R - 5 Watts using an Elecraft K1 and GHD Bug. I only had one hour; but I had fun! Thanks! Ci, WU7R

W2JEK - Didn't do much till 0100Z when the VA QSO Party finished and 80M became available. The RTTY on 40M stopped at 0200Z but no luck there. By then, everyone must have gone to 80M. Glad you got the contest going as I always enjoyed it.

Again - thanks to all who participated. Please look forward to the NJQRP Homebrewer Sprint again this fall. Look for a few minor changes and the possibility of added bonuses!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Good night on the radio

Actually a good afternoon and a good night. 20 Meters, 40 Meters and 80 Meters were all in decent shape.

In the afternoon, I worked a bunch of Italian stations and a few Lithuanians in some kind of contest that's seems to be going on in Europe. It was nice to see QRP making the hop with little difficulty. Of course, I didn't believe any of the 599s that I received as signal reports. As a veteran QRPer, though, you develop a sense on how your signal is making it. If you don't get asked to repeat your call or any of the exchange then your signal is probably at least a 449 or better. If you constantly get asked for repeats, then more than likely you're really way down in the mud.

Then 40 Meters in the evening was long; and I was handing out QSOs to participants in the 7 Land QSO Party. Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington were all coming in strong. A push of the band button on the K2 brought me over to 80 Meters for the New England QSO Party as well as the Indiana QSO Party. I handed out several QSOs in both. The New Englanders, just by their close proximity to me, were blowing the headphones off my ears. I even managed to hand out a few points to some veteran QRPers who immediately came up as "worked before" on the computer log.

All this while melting solder on the MRX40 which is now completed. All I have to do tomorrow is hook up a battery, headphones and antenna to it, to make sure it works. I was going to give it a shot tonight; but I'm a bit tired and want to head upstairs to bed.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Bee Time!

The announcement has been posted! Official Bee numbers are being issued for the 2009 Flight of the Bumblebees.

What's that you say? You're new to QRP and you have no idea what I'm talking about?

Well then, pull up a chair and I'll give you a short education.

The Flight of the Bumblebees is one of the most anticipated outdoor QRP events of the year. It ranks right up there with QRP to the Field, Freeze Your Buns Off, the Summertime "Bubba" event, or even QRP Field Day

This sprint is sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society which emphasizes QRP operating in the Great Outdoors. The FOBB takes place on the last Sunday in July, which this year is July 26th. The idea is to walk, canoe, cycle, hike or otherwise get out to a location selected by you; and then try to contact as many other Bees and home stations that you can. Don't be put off by the walk, canoe, cycle or hike part - lots of us Bees have to do a little driving before we can get to the walk, canoe, cycle or hike part. Do yourself a favor and Google "Flight of the Bumblebees" and you will undoubtedly come across Webpages dedicated to previous years events. That will definitely give you a good idea of what I'm trying to describe.

It's simple, fun and memorable. I'm already thinking of where to operate from this year. Maybe the Jersey Shore? Maybe from one of our State Parks? Maybe High Point State Park would be a good choice this year. Get some elevation going. Who knows? One thing I do know - this is always one fun operating event; and I'm going to start praying tonight for good weather that weekend!

By the way, I signed up as soon as I saw the e-mail come out on QRP-L. W2LJ is Bee #2.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, May 01, 2009


I have to admit that for the most part, I like eHam. I don't use all its features; but I do enjoy the product reviews and I like scanning the articles. I don't like the snarky comments that just about everyone feels that they have to make; and I hate the code vs. no-code arguments. I ESPECIALLY hate it when some "newbie" calls Old Timers "Old Farts". To me, that's just as bad as dragging your fingernails across a blackboard.

Every now and then they come across with a gem of an article; and I loved this one, entitled "A Radial Plate for Cheapskates". For all the details, please make sure to read the article.

I have to give the author, Bill Savage K3AN, five stars for ingenuity. Gosh, I wish I could think of things like this. To see an ordinary, every day item and think of an "outside the box" use for it is a gift that I wish I had.

73 de Larry W2LJ