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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Recommended Reading

Yet another blog post which I highly recommend - even though the link is right down there to the right ..... this is one you should NOT pass over.

This one is by Dan KB6NU and it's titled, "Field Day 2009: Stuart Makes His First Contact"

In all honesty, I cannot say that I have ever read a more encouraging and uplifting post than this one by Dan.

You have to read it for yourself; I don't want to spoil it. But the determination and spunk showed by Stuart truly warms the cockles of this ol' CW veteran's heart. After reading the post, I think Dan might have met someone who truly has "The Knack".

73 de Larry W2LJ - enjoy reading!

Giving a helping hand

I was contacted about a week ago; by a private telecommunications firm in California. They are experiencing some intermod or some kind of mixing problem on one of their repeaters, I guess. They asked me if I'd be willing to listen to a Morse Code ID that is coming in over their system; and if I could, would I please translate for them?

The engineer in charge sent me a WMA file and the CW ID, while kind of raspy, was clear enough for easy copy. I'd say it was at a rate of about 20 WPM or so.

In any event, I was able to e-mail back with the two commercial IDs that I was able to hear; for which they were most grateful. I think that now, they'll be able to contact the other parties and clear up their unintentional interference problems.

I guess being able to understand Morse Code still counts for something. I also guess that a lot of folks are either visiting this site; or my Website - or maybe Googling Morse Code comes up with a link to me pretty high up in the chain? In any event, it's fun to get e-mails like that and being able to help.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, June 29, 2009

Calling attention

to Jason NT7S's blog, "Ripples in the Ether"; and his really fine post about Field Day. I know Jason is listed down and to the right as one of the blogs that I follow; but if for whatever reason, you didn't read his Field Day report, please make sure you do.

It's very informative and fun to read. It gives a practical methodology for having a fun and productive QRP Field Day. Jason operated from his backyard; but there's no reason his modus operandi can't be followed for any QRP outdoor event. Especially interesting was reading about the new A123 lithium nanophosphate battery, which does seem to be the wave of the future.

This is not by any means a plug for the Buddipole, which is what Jason happened to be using. His Field Day effort could have been just as easily tried using whatever your favorite antenna d'jour is. The point is that he had a ton of fun, without a lot of back breaking effort. I'll bet that set up and tear down were minimal.

And that is the killer for some club efforts. Field Day can become so elaborate that set up and tear down become a major chore and getting volunteers can take some arm twisting. My own experience with Field Day and the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club ran along this vein. We had elaborate, multi station efforts with campers, trailers, generators - the whole shebang. And we had a ton of fun and plenty of good times, no doubt. Unfortunately however, it seemed the same group had the logistical responsibilities foisted upon them year after year; and the inevitable "burn out" reared it's ugly head. That being said, there is a lot to be said for Field Days with just a couple of guys, and one or a few simple antennas, and the main focus being on operating and fun.

Maybe the "super station" efforts can be left to those who want to win the contest aspect of Field Day. But when it comes right down to it; and someday the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillating air movers - it just might be the guys with the easy to set up "go kits" that rule the day with emergency communications.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Field Day !



Happy Field Day!

I wish you all good luck; but most of all good fun!

Enjoy the sun and clear blue skies (hopefully) ! Enjoy the camaraderie, the excitement and the anticipation. Enjoy the operating, the food, the cold drinks and everything good and memorable that is Field Day!

Make sure to bring the sun screen and bug repellent and plenty of ice. And if a stray thunderstorm should come your way, disconnect that feed line and throw it OUTSIDE your tent, trailer, camper or whatever.

Show 'em all what CW and QRP can do! Make sure to take plenty of pictures, so you can look back on Field Day 2009 for years to come.

Personally, this is an extremely busy weekend for me; but I hope to get out at some point and join either the Carteret Emergency Management group; or possibly the DVRA (Delaware Valley Radio Amateurs) group for at least a few hours.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the trail

I really admire guys like Steve WGØAT and Jim W1PID, who pack up the radios and go QRPing from some really beautiful locations. As far as I'm concerned, their exploits can best be described as "Ultimate QRP". I look forward to each new post they make and each new story they tell.

Steve and Rooster and Peanut went out for a Father's Day hike this past weekend; and once again, Steve created an excellent video:



When Steve is on top of that mountain; and you get to see that view - wow! I wish there were spots in New Jersey that were so breathtaking. This video is the kick in the pants I need to start selecting a special place for Flight of the Bumblebees. Not that I am going to find anywhere as spectacular as that; but I'll do the best I can.

I also like Steve's reference to MacGyver (one of my all time favorite TV shows)! For the most part, Hams in general and QRP'ers in particular are pretty resourceful.

One question though, Steve ...... what did you mean by being "stuck" on CW all day? ;)

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, June 22, 2009

NAQCC mW Sprint and VA2SG

Was held last week; and for some reason unbeknown to me, I missed it! I didn't see any announcements for it on the QRP e-mail reflectors that I remember. And for some reason, I have also stopped getting NAQCC newsletters and other e-mails. But I did find this on the Web:



If you've never QRP sprinted before, this video will give you a very good idea of what goes on. It's nice to see a QRP Kits PFR-3 in action. And I'm guessing that the paddles are the Black Widow paddles offered by Jerry W5JH.

Nice set up you have there, Jean-Pierre!

73 de Larry W2LJ

RFTB .... the day after.

It was fun!

I worked 16 stations from 11 different states, all in all. Two on 20 Meters, two on 80 Meters and twelve on 40 Meters. The QRN on 40 was pretty bad; but surprisingly, not so bad on 80 Meters.

I worked Bob W3BBO on both 40 and 80 Meters on his new Steve Weber Dual Band radio that he recently acquired from Hendricks QRP Kits. He told me that it went together fine; and after installing a new software chip to clear up some timing issues, it sounded great, too.

I quit at 10:15 PM local time, about an hour and fifteen minutes into the sprint. I wasn't hearing any new stations and getting up for work on Monday comes pretty quickly. After I posted my tally on the Autolog, I seem to be currently holding 4th place. I'm sure that will change!

I used the end fed Zepp for a portion of the contest, after putting new coax on it yesterday afternoon. The main purpose for this antenna, though, is for 30 Meters. It seems to hear better and load easier on that band than the G5RV. I am looking forward to using it there; but it was nice experimenting with it last night.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What makes for a great Hamfest?

Having a good time, of course!

The RVRC Hamfest, which I attended this morning, was by no means the best one they ever put on. Because of the threatening weather (looked like it was going to pour any minute) attendance was down by both buyers AND sellers from what I could see. The past couple of year's events were much better attended.

All that being said, I still had a good time. I saw faces of old friends and made a few new ones, too. I saw Charles W2SH, who I have come to know through NAQCC activities. We talked a bit and I got him to sign my QRP ARCI WAS application. He had a good time looking through the cards to see which operators that I worked, that he also knew.

The other signer (I needed two) was Barry WB2KLF. Barry and I go back close to 30 years now, since we were both members of the Metuchen Amateur Radio Club in the late 70s and the 80s. It was good to see Barry again and to do some "catching up" as it were, talking about things that have happened in each of our lives since we last saw each other.

I got to see many members of what used to be PARC, the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club. What was cool was seeing Bill W2WK and his son Tim N2LPN. I've known Tim since he was in High School; and found out today that it's actually "Dr. Koeth"; as Tim has earned a PhD in Nuclear Physics. Talk about wow!

It's always nice meeting up with W2WK. Back in our PARC days, he served as President of the club; and I was his Vice-President. That went on for two or three years until I assumed the role of President for two terms. It was also fun seeing Drew W2OU and Rich N2PQ, also two of the finer Hams in the South Plainfield/Piscatway area. And I also got the opportunity to see the faces behind the many voices that I hear regularly on the RVRC W2QW repeater.

I also walked away with a few goodies, too. I bought a 20 foot length of RG-8X coax, complete with PL-259 connectors, which I will use with my portable ops kit. The 50 foot length that I was using will now serve as my coax lead in from my Inverted L (from the balun, that is). I also picked up a set of diagonal cutters - you can never have enough "good" pairs of diagonal cutters as far as I'm concerned. And lastly I bought one of those little palm sized LED flashlights. This one has 6 LEDS at the front and is pretty darn bright. The three needed AAA batteries were included.

In all I may have spent about 25 to 30 bucks. Definitely no big ticket items purchased by W2LJ; but I did see a few pieces of mint looking Heathkit gear that I would have picked up in a heartbeat, had I the disposable income to do so.

By the way, rumor on the Internet has it that Walter Cronkite KB2GSD is gravely ill; something that CBS will not confirm or deny. One of the "most trusted" newsmen in American history, Cronkite became a Ham after he retired. He carried Ham equipment on his sailboat to serve as his main communication mode, I guess. Anyway, as a fellow Ham, please keep him in your prayers.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ruminations

As I begin the weekend by doing household stuff, of course; my mind wafts off to other, more enjoyable things.

This is the first official weekend of Summer here in the Northern hemisphere. Yay! This is my most favorite time of they year. Longer days, warm weather and lots of outdoors stuff. The tomato plants and sunflower plants that I have growing in the garden are doing extremely well, thanks to all the rain we've been getting. Unfortunately, so are the weeds. It's a never ending battle.

My condolences to those of you in the Southern hemisphere who hate the Winter. I know where you're coming from and unfortunately, it will be back here all too soon.

I downloaded G4ILO's VOAProp tonight and installed it. I had HFProp on this computer for the longest time; and decided to finally switch over. This is a very fine program that Julian has made available to us all at no charge. There's a special place in Ham Heaven for folks like him. Anyway, it downloaded and installed flawlessly, as did VOACap. It's nice to see how fast these bigger files download now that I have DSL. Before last December, when I switched over, it probably would have taken all night to download the files using dial-up.

In the US and I guess some other places, too - this Sunday is Father's Day. I don't think we're going to do much of anything and that's all right with me! I think it's supposed to be a rainy day (again!) here in New Jersey; so maybe I'll get to spend part of the day on the radio. And now I'll have VOAProp on the computer to show me there isn't any propagation! :)

BUT ...... this Sunday night is the monthly Run For The Bacon QRP Sprint. It's from 9:00 - 11:00PM Eastern time here in the US. Even though it's sponsored by the Flying Pigs QRP Club International, membership is NOT a prerequisite. You can find the details here. This is not a cut throat contest. It's nice and laid back, so if you've never tried your hand at QRP Sprinting; but were thinking of giving it a try, then RFTB is THE place!

Tomorrow AM is the local RVRC Hamfest that I referenced earlier in the week. The WX guy is saying the heavy rain and thunderstorms are supposed to hold off until the afternoon. I have my fingers crossed!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, June 18, 2009

WX is starting to get to me.

Seriously, what is going on with the weather? This is definitely the crappiest June weather that I can remember in a long time. The other day, someone mentioned to me that this has been the coolest and wettest June since 1903. I'm not sure that's accurate; but it sure seems like it!

The weather has been cooler than normal, with the nights being downright chilly! And it seems like it has just about every day this month. Not comfortable or pleasant outdoor QRP weather by a long shot.

I'm not like Steve WGØAT or some of these other guys who like to go out and operate no matter what - freezing drizzle, blizzards, deluges, etc. I'm more of a "sit at a picnic or camping table in the warm sunshine" kind of guy.

The five day forecast for this area doesn't promise much of an improvement on things, either. I just hope the wet holds off for Saturday morning so I can get a few hours in at the Hamfest. This Saturday's event may be the only Hamfest I get to this year. I'm going to be mighty disappointed if it turns out to be a washout!

Anybody have any plans for Father's Day? I'm hoping to get away without doing too much of anything "chore-like". Please keep in mind that this coming Sunday night will be the monthly Run For The Bacon - Flying Pigs QRP Sprint. Should be a nice way to finish out the weekend.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anticipation

It's only Tuesday and it feels like it should be Friday! These past two days at work have felt like a whole week.

That may be due, in part, to the fact that I am eagerly awaiting this Saturday, which is the date of the annual Raritan Valley Radio Club (RVRC) Hamfest. This hamfest used to be held in this quaint little park in the town of Dunellen; and that's why it is known as the "Dunellen Hamfest" to this day, even though it is now held at Piscataway High School.

I'm not looking to buy a lot of stuff. My main purchase will hopefully be a new hunk of coax for my "Inverted L" or end fed Zepp antenna. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain, however; and books and tools are always on my radar scope.

My main purpose for going is to reconnect with friends and faces that I get to see only all too seldomly. Since the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club pretty much faded away, I don't really get to see anyone on a regular basis. I still belong to the ETS of NJ which runs the famous (in NJ) Greenbrook repeater; but those meetings are on Friday nights; and Marianne (my wife) ALWAYS works Friday nights - it's a given. So I'm home with the kids on Friday nights.

Being a CW guy, I'm not a fixture on the local 2 Meter repeaters, although I do enjoy listening to K2ETS (Greenbrook) and W2QW (RVRC) very, very much. I just don't pick up the microphone and transmit all that much, except to say "hi" every now and then.

The forecast for Saturday is cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. Hopefully the rain will hold off until later in the day; and I'll get in a few hours of rummaging and talking with old friends.

Oh, yes! The other thing I want to do is take along my 50 WAS QRP CW QSL cards and have two Ham friends sign off on my QRP-ARCI WAS application so I can send that in. ARCI doesn't need or want cards. All they want are the signatures of two fellow Hams to testify that they have seen the logs or QSL cards.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, June 15, 2009

LOTW and VP6DX

I had a free moment today and got a chance to go over to the ARRL's Logbook of the World site, to see what was new with my account. And what to my wondering eye should appear; but an entry of QSO confirmation with VP6DX - Ducie Island. Wow! Finally!

I had almost given up hope. When the DXpedition was winding down, I went over to their Website and made an "official" donation to the cause. However, up until today, I had never heard anything from them except to see that they didn't have my callsign attached to my name as a donor. About (no joke) 10 to 15 e-mails trying to correct that went unanswered; and I have still not received a paper QSL. I figured that I'd never see anything on LOTW, either - but at least that finally showed up.

To be honest with you, this leaves an unpleasant aftertaste about donating towards the cause of DXpeditions. I realize that my measly 10 bucks is like the proverbial drop in the bucket; but not everybody is "Daddy Deep Pockets", eh? The big fish might get the splashy headlines; but the small fry donors like you and me who make the "nickle and dime" donations probably account for a huge slice of the pie when all is said and done.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I went over to Goody K3NG's blog today to read his latest entry when my eye was captivated by the title of one of his previous blog posts - "Why can't BOB IN TX Design a Website?"

It was a very good, thought provoking post. In fact, it caused me to take a few minutes to take a look at my own Website and re-evaluate things. I ended up making a few changes and got rid of some superfluous (and unnecessary) things that were slowing down the loading of the pages.

The basic content hasn't changed; and it seems to load faster now. I got rid of the link boxes at the bottom of each page. I figured that once you navigate away from the main page it's just a matter of hitting your browser's "back button" to get to the main page and do all the navigating from there, rather than navigate between pages.

I also got rid of the "Links Page" and replaced it with N2CQ's QRP Contest Calendar. Goody is dead on when he states that Google or any decent search engine can do a better job of providing links better than I can - why should you care what MY favorites are?

I don't consider my Website to be the best Amateur Radio Website by a long shot; but I'm happy with it and I think it has its purpose. I do think it's a little bit better than it was due to K3NG's observations about Amateur Radio Websites in general.

Thanks, Goody!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Weber Dual Bander


I had the opportunity to meet my friend Bob W3BBO on the air today in order to hear his newly completed Steve Weber Dual Bander which is offered by Hendricks QRP Kits.

Bob built his to be used on 40 and 80 Meters. I first heard him in QSO with Ken WA8REI on 40 Meters at about 7.030 MHz, give or take a few. He had a very nice signal, from Erie, PA into New Jersey, about 579. The tone was pleasing to listen to, as you would expect from a Steve Weber design.

A bit later I also heard Bob at around 3.560 MHz on 80 Meters. The band wasn't good for us as Bob was only about a 449 on my end; and I was about a 339 on his, and QSB was playing havoc on both ends.

If you're interested in seeing more about this rig, you can follow the hyperlink that I provided above. Two caveats, however ...... the first it that Hendricks QRP Kits blew through their stock of the first run of these and it appears they currently don't have any at this time. The second is that even if Doug did have stock, it really wouldn't matter as KI6DS has closed up shop for the summer in order to take a much needed vacation with his XYL. However, when Doug returns later this summer, I'm sure he'll lay in another supply for your purchasing and building pleasure.

I can't vouch for how easy it was to build; or how easy it is to operate; but is sure sounded good on the air!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Chomping at the bit

40 Meters was quiet tonight. There was no contest activity and not much DX heard on the lower portion of the band. I did manage to work Emil, E71A from Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was about the only DX station that I was able to hear.

Further up the band, at around 7.055 MHz, I called CQ for a bit to be answered by Scott N3JJT, a fellow SKCC member. We had a nice rag chew. Scott was operating QRP portable from his campgrounds by a lake in Ohio. He was using a Yaesu FT-817 at 5 Watts to a dipole up about 15 feet. He had a nice 569 signal - 579 to 589 when QSB allowed.

Finding out that he was lakeside brought visions of Lake George to my brain. Our annual summer pilgrimage isn't that far off; and I have begun daydreaming about it a lot! Work has been an absolute bear the past two weeks, even more so than usual; and I find myself yearning for that week off more and more everyday.

I desperately need some time to turn my "responsibility gene" back to half throttle for a bit in order to recharge the internal batteries. A week of sun and blue skies (hopefully) by a placid lake, along with some quality time with my wife and children is what I am yearning for. No crises to solve, no problems to fix, no situations to handle, no corporate hoops to jump through - just some good family time, relaxation, a good book and some radio time (of course!). Just what the doctor should order!

I don't know what I would do without Amateur Radio. This pastime is such a wonderful and needed diversion from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It helps clear my brain and keeps me balanced and allows me to keep from focusing too much on negative things. My grandfather once told me when I was very young that everyone needs a "passion" in their lives for something that's not family or work related. At the time, I didn't understand what he meant - I sure do now!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making a comeback

The NorCal club is reintroducing (or bringing back, if you prefer) the VE3DNL Marker Generator kit. This is a kit that is extremely well known in the QRP community and has received very good press over the years.

It is a 5.12 MHz oscillator which generates marker tones every 5, 10, 20 and 40 KHz. It's often been called the "Poor man's signal generator". Just about every treatise that's been written about kit building also mentions this one as one of the ideal "Beginner kits". It's very versatile and it's often been said that no serious radio builder (kits or scratch) should be without one.

If you're interested (and I am, too) in getting one, then http://www.norcalqrp.org is the place to go. The price is right, too. $7.50 for US orders and $10 for DX.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ta Daa !!!

OK - so here's the new W2LJ QSL card. It's not as "classic" as my first choice; but I took the photo myself (no copyright problems that way) and ended up with a high enough resolution photo that worked for a card. Here's the front:



Of course, it's the K1 and the 2004 Christmas Key that I just got this past Christmas. I love that "Camel back" design! And this photo pretty much sums up my whole operating philosophy, which is QRP, CW and the outdoors in one photograph. Now, it's not to say that this is the only way I operate - far from it! But it is one of my favorite ways to get on the air.

Here's the back:


That's me on vacation up at Lake George last summer, doing exactly what I enjoy so much. I decided not to clutter up the card with a ton of logos or membership numbers. I am trying to keep the design as clean as possible.

I am so looking forward to getting these! I decided to go with UX5UO's "Luxury" series, which gives the front a glossy finish. I should have 1,000 of these in about a month. If the finished product comes out nearly as well as the proof has, I will be happy indeed.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, June 08, 2009

Stop me if you've heard this one before .....

I've mentioned this YouTube video on this blog before; but perhaps you didn't follow the link. So here it is:



I love this newsreel! Yes, it's a bit hokey and maybe it does make Ham radio ops look a little "different"; but it's supposed to be informative while being funny at the same time. And whether you notice it not, there are some time tested truths made evident in this piece of film that are as valid today as they were 60 years ago.

A) You can build your own Amateur Radio equipment and get on the air and have a ton of fun.
B) Ham Radio operators unselfishly give of their time and talent to help those in need.
C) Ham Radio ops young and old are still attracted to DX and the "magic" of radio waves traversing the globe.

These "Pete Smith Specialties" were used as fillers by MGM back in the days of double features, cartoons, B movies and all that stuff of a time gone by. And Pete Smith actually won an Oscar for one of these features. If you Google "A Pete Smith Specialty" you can see a lot of them on the TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Website. Pete may have been ahead of his time with a reliance on wit, sarcasm and dry humor.

I wouldn't be surprised, however, if this newsreel wasn't the inspiration for a lot of new Hams back in the 40s and 50s. I enjoy watching it over and over. You can actually copy the code, which makes real life sense. And even way back then, a little publicity for Amateur Radio never hurt.

On a different note, I supplied a new and totally different photo to Gennady UX5UO for the New W2LJ QSL card. I got the proof today and suggested one tiny change. I guess the next step is payment and printing. More on that after things are firmed up.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pooh!

Talk about fast service! I received an e-mail from Gennady UX5UO in about an hour within submitting my QSL design, with some bad news. The Federal Telegraph Key .jpg is not of high enough resolution for a good QSL card. I went over to Corel Draw and printed out the comped version I made and sure enough, Gennady was right. It came out just a bit on the soft side - not really satisfactory.

He suggested that for the card front, that I use the photo of myself that I had submitted for the card back. I don't want a picture of me to be the main focus of the QSL card; so I e-mailed him back with a "Thanks, but no thanks" message. Then a bit later, I remembered a T-shirt design I came up with a few years ago and sent him that .jpg. Hopefully, that will be of sufficient resolution and quality. If it isn't, I have another idea cooking around in my brain - we'll see.

On a totally unrelated manner, I took Joey and Cara to the movies to see "Up" this afternoon (as I type this, it was actually yesterday afternoon!). What a great movie! Since it's a Pixar movie, you might be tempted to think it's a movie for kids; and maybe it is. But I also think that there will be many an adult who can and will benefit from the movie's message. I won't go into it any further as I don't want to be a spoiler; but I heartily recommend "Up" for kids and adults alike.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, June 06, 2009

New QSL Cards

It's time for some new QSL cards. I've been playing around with some ideas in my head for a while now. Do I want the card to reflect New Jersey somehow? Do I want it to have a picture of the K2 or K1 or something like that? Or do I want to relate the card to one of my other hobbies, perhaps my interest in the Revolutionary War? Since New Jersey is considered "The Crossroads of the Revolution", I thought that might be a good theme.

As an aside, did you know that more military activity took place in New Jersey than any other colony? Yes, there were more battles, skirmishes and fights in what we now call the Garden State, than any other colony. In fact, not more than a couple of miles from my house, in Edison, is the State of New Jersey recognized "Oak Tree Pond" park. It was here that local farmers and New Jersey militia fought back British troops who were trying to engage in a flanking maneuver during the Battle of Short Hills.

A little farther away to the north, in Scotch Plains, is the Frazee House. The occupants of this house also played a role during the Battle of Short hills when General Lord Cornwallis attempted to commandeer provisions from the Frazee's for his British Regulars.

In the end, I decided to stick with a simple and clean Amateur Radio theme. Above you will see a rough idea of what the finished card will look like. If your a frequent visitor to this blog and/or my Website, the image will be familiar. It is the photograph of the Federal Telegraph key that I prominently display on both sites. I figured, that why shouldn't my QSL card have it as well?

A good friend, Brian KB9BVN had his QSL cards printed by Gennady UX5UO. They came out beautifully, so I have decided to give Gennady a shot. I checked him out on e-Ham, also and he received a 5.0 rating with over 350 reviews. I figure that if he can make that many Hams happy, then he must be doing something right! So I went to the UX5UO Website and submitted my design this afternoon. I think the price for the "Economy" (non-glossy finish) cards is $69.00 for 1,000 cards, postage included. I'll keep you all informed as to how this all comes about.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, June 05, 2009

Nabbed another!

I managed to get QRP DXCC entity #93 in the books tonight! After finishing up the post about the Hoot Owl Sprint, I headed down the basement to see how 40 Meters was doing. I guess it's not a big CW contest weekend; as there wasn't wall to wall pandemonium. Down near the bottom of the band, I heard J48HW calling CQ. Again, not being familiar with the prefix, I called on Win-EQF to inform me that this was Greece. Hot dog - a new one for QRP if I could make myself heard!

A few calls later, I got Greece in the books. In my excitement, I must have screwed up my number as I had to repeat that I was W2 a couple of times and not W3. But Laci has good ears and my fumble fingers notwithstanding, I now have country number 93 in the log. Only seven more to go! I was extremely lucky tonight (being in the right place at the right time) because very shortly after our QSO, Laci went QRT for the night, or early morning in his case.

There's something deeply satisfying about having your signal heard by a station in a distant land. Whether it's QRO or QRP the feeling is just as sweet.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Time for a deep breath

It was one hectic work week! That, coupled with activities on the only night that I didn't put in OT, prevented me from figuring out my Hoot Owl Sprint score until tonight. I not only managed to figure it out; but I also managed to e-mail my entry off to Jeff VA3JFF who is the QRP-ARCI Contest Manager.

Here's my summary. I managed 30 QSOs altogether in the time I put in; which was nowhere near the full four hours. With breaks that I took (and plain ol' dawdling around), I managed to put in about two hours actual operating time. I know, not an impressive QSO rate by any means; but I'm in it just to have fun and participate. N4BP or K4BAI (Master QRP Contesters), I am not!

Anyway, I racked up 144 total QSO points and 20 S/P/C's. That coupled with the X7 power multiplier yields a claimed score of 20,160 Points.

The setup was my usual - the K2 at 5 Watts to my G5RV. It seems that during these sprints, I always get caught up in things and forget to switch over to the HF9V, which actually might help increase the QSO rate. But, what they hey, like I said, I'm in it for the fun.

I had 8 QSOs on 80 Meters which was dead and noise free, I might add. I had 2 measly QSOs on 20 Meters, which was noisy. The "money band" was once again, 40 Meters, with 20 QSOs. It was nice to see everyone spread out for a change. There were only a few stations that were right on top of one another. And there was activity around BOTH 7.040 MHz and 7.030 MHz. That was nice to see for a change.

One of these days, I'm going to have to motivate myself to put in the entire amount of time available in one of these four hour Sprints. You know, I could never be a serious contester, though - my butt simply can't handle sitting in one position for that long! That, coupled with the fact that I don't computer control the rig to maximize its capability; and that I only have a very basic and simple antenna farm puts me at a disadvantage "right from the get go" compared to the Top Guns. No excuses - just plain facts.

However, the stated purpose of these Sprints is to have fun; and I get my fair share of that! In addition to the monthly NAQCC Sprints, as well as the monthly Runs for the Bacon and the ARS Spartan Sprints, there are some good QRP Contests coming up this summer. The QRP ARCI will sponsor the Summer QSO Party, QRP Field Day and the Memorial Sprint. Also, and never to "bee" forgotten is the Flight of the Bumblebees, sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society on the last Sunday in July.

I guess that's part of what I like about the QRP community. There's lots of fun and challenging operating events that you can choose from in addition to kicking back and just having plain ol' rag chews.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I guess I'm just tired

So I apologize in advance for tonight's post. It will probably turn out a bit on the cranky side. I've just gotten home from work after my third "13 hour day" in a row.

My WAS certificate arrived today! Yay! I was immediately struck by the number of the certificate. It is certificate number 53,773. Back on August 17th of 1995, when I was originally awarded my "mixed" WAS certificate as N2ELW, I was issued certificate number 48,237. So in almost 14 years, only 5,536 WAS certificates have been issued. That works out to approximately 395 WAS certificates issued each year. For some bizarre reason, I thought that there'd be more than that.

The other thing is that receiving this certificate is kind of anti-climatic. I guess anticipation is the sweeter part of the deal. No doubt that it's a beautiful certificate that I will frame and proudly hang on the shack wall ........ but the endorsement. I paid an extra $7.50 for the "CW QRP" endorsement; and all I get for that is "CW" and "QRP" in 24 point laser type on the right hand side of the certificate? One of those nice little gold foil embossable labels would have been nice. Somehow $7.50 for five little letters doesn't seem ....... I don't know ....... worth it.

Secondly, I got annoyed during my travels to and from work today. One of the back roads I travelled on is having the asphalt removed in preparation for re-paving. You know how the machine chews up the asphalt and leaves the road all rough and bumpy? Well, tonight, I was following a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Toyota Highlander on different trips on this road. From the way they were driving, you'd think they were driving on egg shells! I mean I didn't want them to go super fast or anything like that; but how about just driving normally? I mean, after all, they were both driving vehicles that were designed to be driven "off road" for crying out loud! Chrysler boasts how the Grand Cherokee handles the Rubicon Trail with ease - I don't see the need to come to a dead stop just because you're going to transfer from smoother payment to torn up road. The vehicle was designed to handle that and sooooo much more!

I'd better stop before I get carried away.

73 de Larry W2LJ