Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post for 2010


And that makes it 339 post for 2010 - my most prolific year since starting this.  I hope that reading this blog has been as fun and entertaining for you as it has for me.

My plans for tonight are simple - a little Straight Key Night and then watch the ball drop at Midnight.  Joey and Cara are determined to stay up and watch, and hopefully Marianne will get home from work in time to usher in 2011 with me.

Amateur Radio New Year's Resolutions for 2011 ???

1) Get on the air more

2) Get that 160 Meter vertical built in 2011

3) Get on the air more

4) Lay even MORE radials down for the Butternut (I added some this year; but would like to add more)

5) Get on the air more

6) Attend more Hamfests

7) Get on the air more

8) Do much more portable operating from the great outdoors this Spring/Summer/Fall

9) Get on the air more

10) Do more milliWatting in 2011

11) Get on the air more

I think you get the picture .....


72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least

Thursday, December 30, 2010

From Winter to Spring?

Well, not exactly.  But the forecast high temperature for New Year's Day is supposed to be near 50F !!!  A long way from the blizzard of last Sunday and the 11F that I woke up to this morning.  Two small items regarding the recent snowfall that I read online:

1) The National Weather Service believes that we broke a record for snowfall amounts for a 24 hour period in New Jersey, and that's since record keeping began.

2) The barometric pressure during the severest period of the storm was equal to that found during a Category 2 hurricane.

That all said and done, I am once again looking forward to Straight Key Night tomorrow evening.  If it's like the past few years, it will be hard to find a spot to transmit on the bands.  And that really warms the cockles of my heart, as it reminds me how the bands used to be in my Novice days.  I only wish it was like that all the time!

It isn't however, as you all know; so it's best to enjoy it for the evening while it lasts.  I'll have the K2 going, of course, and I will probably be alternating between my Speed-X straight key and the Vibroplex bug - depending on how tired the wrist gets (if it even gets tired at all!).

And I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my wishes for a very Happy and Healthy New Year to all of you out there.  A year from now, I hope that you may have found 2011 deserving enough to go down in your personal record books as one of the best you've ever had!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Perfect together !

My lovely wife Marianne, gifted me with an Amazon Kindle for Christmas.  I love to read; and if I have free time and I'm not on the radio, then that's probably what I am doing.

"Good for you!" you may be thinking, "But what does this have to do with Amateur Radio?"



Everything!, As I found out much to my delight!  I can e-mail copies of the K9YA Telegraph and WorldRadio Online to my Kindle; and now I can take them everywhere!  I loved WorldRadio and I love the K9YA Telegraph; but I must admit that I find it a pain to have to read them while sitting behind the computer (of which I rarely get to use anymore, sharing it with my wife and two "tweens").  Even with a laptop or netbook, it's a bit of a bother.  The Kindle makes it a pleasure!  I can now take them anywhere with me, even to "the Library".

Also, since my Kindle is WiFi compatible I can keep up with the latest blogs and such through Google.  It's not as good as having a Netbook in that regard; but it's a nice feature to have.

I have already downloaded a free sample of "Three Hundred Zeroes" the book by Dennis Blanchard.  Since this involves his QRP experiences on the Appalachian Trail, I am seriously thinking of purchasing the Kindle version.

Usual disclaimer - I don't work for Kindle or Amazon.com - I am just very happy with my Christmas gift (that it's electronic and gadgety has nothing to do with it!  wink, wink, nudge, nudge!).

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Final snow update



When I went out to shovel this morning; before heading off to work - (yes, to work), another 14 inches had fallen since I finished last night.  So we had a grand total of 28 inches of snow here in South Plainfield.  Roads were anywhere from clear to atrocious.  The plows didn't even touch my street until around 9:00 this morning, while I was working on the driveway and the walkway to the front door.

Surprisingly, near work, which is 20 miles further inland, the snowfall was approximately half or a little less than we got here.  This truly was a coastal storm - the farther inland you were, the less you got.  I heard on the VHF/UHF in the car that some sections of Southern New Jersey, particularly those close to the shore got really walloped, with some areas receiving close to three feet.

Hopefully, this will be THE big storm for the winter and that all the rest will be minor compared to this.  If you can believe it, AccuWeather is forecasting highs on the low 50s this coming Saturday.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow update

I just finished checking into the Middlesex County Skywarn Net after my second go at shoveling.  In the last three hours, it has snowed an additional 9 inches of snow; for a total of 14 inches in South Plainfield.  Its 24 F outside with moderate sustained winds with heavier gusts.  Visibility is very poor at this time.

I'm glad I got a jump on the snow shoveling this afternoon and tonight; even though conditions outside were pretty brutal.  I won't have it quite as bad as some of my neighbors will tomorrow.

As far as work goes ...... I get there when I get there.  I'm not going to kill myself to make it exactly right on time.

Courtesy of AccuWeather

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Whew!

What a day after Christmas surprise!

We are in the midst of what can best be described as a full blown blizzard.  Snow is falling at the rate of several inches an hour - horizontally!  The winds are around 30 MPH, sustained and there are gusts approaching 40 MPH.  I just got in from the first round of shoveling, and so far there are 5 inches of snow on the ground.  Visibility is very poor, approaching white out at times and the wind is like a slap to the face if you're facing the wrong direction.

The snowstorm is expected to intensify within the next couple of hours and finally abate early tomorrow afternoon.  Total snowfall amounts are expected to be around 12 - 14 inches; which I guess I can believe after my little snow removal session.

I will probably head out about 8:00 PM to get more off the ground before going to bed; and then will remove the remainder tomorrow before heading in for work.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas !!!


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid.  
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  
 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 



72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Memories


As I stated in my last post, Christmas Eve has always been very special.  Perhaps it has been even more special than Christmas Day itself.

My dad and my Uncle Frank owned a very small grocery store in South River, New Jersey.  It went by the name of Frank and Al's Market.  It was so small that it had only two aisles.  But it was known throughout the surrounding communities for the Polish provisions and specialties that my dad and uncle carried.  At Christmas and Easter the store was crowded; but even more so at Christmas time.  My dad and uncle produced fresh Polish kielbasa throughout the year; but the holidays were even more special.  It was not uncommon for my dad and his brother to make between 1,000 - 2,000 pounds of the tasty sausage during Christmas time.  I remember spending time at the store, stocking shelves, only to see people come as far away as Virginia just for some of Frank and Al's fresh Polska kielbasa.  In addition to the kielbasa, there were Polish cakes, candies and other specialties, such as fresh herring in cream sauce that was always popular.  It was a busy but special time of the year.

The store closed early on Christmas Eve; and when I was very young, we would head over to my grandmother's house - Babcie's house for Christmas Eve dinner - Wigilia.   All my aunts, uncles and cousins would be there; and there would be the traditional dinner of fish, pierogies and other good foods.  The Wigilia was always meatless. They had their Christmas Tree on their front porch, which was enclosed and I always marveled at the hand blown glass ornaments that I was not allowed to touch!

After dinner wound down, my family would return back home to find that Santa had already been to our house!  There were presents under the tree; and I never did figure out how Santa got them into our house without the benefit of the traditional fireplace entry - we had steam heat!

Mass was either attended at Midnight or early on the morning of Christmas Day.  We attended an ethnic Polish parish, St Mary of Ostrobrama in South River.  In fact, that's where I spent my elementary school years, being tutored by Polish nuns.  The Masses at Christmas were so crowded that if you didn't get there early, it was standing room only.  There were even a few times that the Church was so crowded that a person or two would pass out from the heat generated by all the bodies.

Christmas Day itself was a bit anti-climactic.  My mom's sister, my Aunt Irene lived next door to us and we would alternate between our two houses each year for Christmas dinner.  The day itself was quiet with my sister and I playing with the things we got from Santa.  Occasionally, an aunt, uncle and cousins would come for a visit towards the evening.

We always had the following week off from school, like kids do now.  And we always looked forward to going back to find out what Santa had left at their houses.

Living in New Jersey, there weren't many white Christmases; but they all were special in their own way.

From the W2LJ household to yours, we extend our best and warmest wishes for a Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

Wesolych Swiat !!!!!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Busy time

As all my regular readers can tell, December has been a busy month for W2LJ!  Only four posts this month.  I can't remember a recent time when I have been so distracted.

With preparing for Christmas and with work having been a real bear lately, I have not touched the radio in weeks.  I haven't even joined in on the Foxhunting fun for the past couple of weeks.  I have been coming home from work so beat that the radio has not been a pull.  To make matters worse, radio-wise, I haven't even turned on the VHF/UHF radio in the car on since Thanksgiving, preferring to listen to Christmas music instead.

Add to that, the fact that I went for my "Pre-Admission Tests" today at the hospital.  Surgery is scheduled for two weeks from tomorrow, so I had the EKG and chest X-ray done, along with six vials of blood being drawn and the obligatory talk with the anesthesiologist (thank God for spell check for that one!).  Everything seems to be a "go" at this point, the last hurdle is getting formal clearance from my personal doctor for the surgery.  This all started out as his idea - so I am sure that won't be a problem.

The weather here has been colder than normal; and windier than normal, too, it seems.  Wind chills have been in the 20s and teens for most of December.  We also might see the first snow other than flurries arrive on Sunday, the day after Christmas.

All I can say is "Thank you God" for my two kids.  Their excitement and enthusiasm has kept me going.  Christmas truly is for kids.  I have ALWAYS enjoyed the Holiday, but it is just all that more special having Joey and Cara around.

Needless to say, with tomorrow, Christmas Eve, being an off day, I am looking forward to the three day weekend.  Speaking of Christmas Eve, that day was always so special, growing up in a Polish household.  I'll go into the reasons for that tomorrow, in honor of it being Christmas Eve.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A sign of the Season



The above happened at the Nordstrom's in Seattle, Washington a few days ago.  It's entirely appropriate given the Season.  A bit tired of the PC thing, I make sure to wish all my friends and acquaintances "Merry Christmas.  That IS the holiday, after all.

Thinking that someone may be offended by "Merry Christmas" is a bit foolish in my book.  If someone were to come up to me and wish me a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Diwali, or a Happy Kwanzaa - I would not be slighted in the least.  In fact, I would turn around and wish them the same!  I doubt that anyone is really THAT sensitive to be offended upon hearing "Merry Christmas".  I think that I would really dislike if anyone felt that they had to tiptoe around me worrying that I'd be offended by everything that they say.

If I was having a bad day, should I be offended by a "Good Morning"?  Should I get teed off by a "Good Night" after an exceptionally bad commute home from work?  Again, I think it's more foolishness and false caring.  Better to worry about the big things than the small ones.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recent QSLs

I have received a couple of QSL cards within the last week (actually received one today) that are noteworthy, to me at least, anyway.

When I got home from work today, I received an SWL QSL from K6JSS for the QRP-ARCI sponsored flight if iHAB-2 back in October.  It's an impressive card with a picture taken by the on-board camera that must have been at close or near to maximum altitude, I would imagine.  The back of the card features all the "specs' of the flight.  Not bad for merely e-mailing in a listening report.  I am sure there were a few of us who probably thought, "Yeah, right" when it was mentioned back in October that SWL reports would garner a special QSL card.  QRP-ARCI came through; and with a pretty darned nice card at that!

The second two cards of note, which I received last week, were from W8BI, the official call for the Dayton Amateur Radio Association.  I had worked their club call in a couple of QRP contest just about a year ago.  It was nice to get QSLs from them and I will do my due diligence and will return the favor.  This card is also very nice with a full color shot of the building where they have their station surrounded by four impressive looking towers.  No wonder I got 599 reports!  With the aluminum that they have up in the air, I could have been transmitting into a rubber band and I still would have probably gotten at least a  559.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas is a coming ......


I saw this mentioned on the Buddipole reflector; and with Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would post this here.  It's one of the better versions I've seen - notwithstanding the little jab at QRP!  :)



It was done very well; and I really enjoyed seeing all those old Ham Radio magazine Christmas ads - especially the ones from Burghardt's.  My very first transmitter, my Drake 2-NT was a Christmas present to me from my folks - and that's where they got it from!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

80 Meter Foxhunting

I managed to nab Jim K4AXF rather quickly tonight, immediately after my friend W2SH Charles worked him.  W2SH is about 10 miles or so from me as the crow flies; but I think he has an advantage over me as far as elevation goes.  He is situated amongst the Watchung mountains (hills to you folks who are familiar with the Rockies - but mountains in NJ) where I am only about 150 feet or so above sea level here.

80 Meters is a bit strange here tonight.  There's a steady S2 level "whooshing" sound that's annoying as all heck.  I have no idea what is causing it.

My lovely wife Marianne has been asking me if there's any radio thing that I want for Christmas this year; and I find myself in a bit of a quandary.  I don't want her spending a lot of money on me; so I am limited as far as the Amateur Radio world is concerned.  I was thinking of maybe the PAR End Fed for 20 - 30 - 40 Meters which is about $75 or so, I think.  The price of the Morse Express Christmas keys has been going up and while they are very nice .......... I don't think so this year.  I have a few of them already and I'm thinking "Just how many miniature keys do I need, anyway?".

Marianne wants me to send her some links to items I would like; but somehow I think she'd have a coronary at the price of a K3 or a Begali.  Since I don't want that to happen, I'll keep those links to myself.

What are all you hoping to find under your Christmas tree or in your Christmas stocking or for your Hanukkah present this year?

72 de W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Steve WGØAT, Peanut & Rooster go on hiatus

It was announced on several of the various e-mail reflectors that Steve WGØAT will be going on hiatus with regards to producing new "Rooster and Peanut" videos.



The one that appears directly above will be the last for a while. Steve noted that after all the planning and shooting are done, that it takes another 30 - 60+  hours of post production work to get the editing and audio recording done. That's an amazing amount of work and is truly a labor of love!  We are very fortunate to be able to go to YouTube at any time and watch his fine library of videos that he has produced up until now.

On the bright side, Steve has promised that after taking some time off to get back to doing some of the other things that he loves to do; that we will see more of him and Peanut and Rooster in the future.

Thanks, Steve, Peanut and Rooster for all the enjoyment that you have provided for us throughout the years.  And thanks for all that you've done to promote QRP and portable ops using various set ups and antennas.  I'd dare say that you've been an inspiration to a lot of us.

As far as the CQ WW DX contest from this last weekend goes, I did not put any time in other than just a few minutes.  There was so much to do this past weekend that I just couldn't find the time.  But it was encouraging and enjoyable to see so many QRPers tell of their experiences via the various QRP reflectors.  On the PFR3 reflector, I enjoyed the story of one gentleman in particular, who after making a bunch of contacts, decided to scrap the 100 Watt rig for his PFR3.  He amazed himself by the success he had via QRP.  When the propagation is good, there's nothing as satisfying as working DX with just a few Watts.

I did get on 10 Meters on Sunday just for the halibut.  I worked Uruguay and a few other South American countries with 5 Watts; and they were really booming in.  Makes you yearn for even more sunspots and more activity on 10 Meters!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving


Tomorrow, in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  Every year around this time, I make a list on this blog of all the things that I am thankful for.  Indeed, there are so many, that it's hard to believe that we  set aside only one "official" day to give thanks to the Almighty for His abundant blessings.

This year, I have decided to post something that appeared in our Church bulletin this past Sunday.  It's a bit humorous; but yet, is very poignant and true.  Not only should we be grateful for the big things in our lives; but for the little things we so much take for granted:

Thanksgiving
by Fr. Brian Joyce

I am thankful for the mess to clean up after a party  because it means I have been surrounded by friends.


I am thankful for the taxes I have to pay because it means I have a job and I am employed.


I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have had enough to eat.


I am thankful for the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.


I am thankful for all the complaining I do about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.


I am thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the lot because it means I am capable of walking.


I am thankful for my big heating bill because it means I am warm.


(I love this one. Don’t look around. Don’t turn. Just listen.)
I am thankful for the lady behind me in Church who sings off-key because it means I can hear.


I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.


I am thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.


And finally, I am thankful for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means that I am still alive.

So, from the W2LJ household to all of you .... we extend our most sincere best wishes to you for a safe, warm, happy Thanksgiving Day.  May you have an enjoyable day with family, friends and good food!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!




Tuesday, November 23, 2010

80 Meter Fox tonight

Tonight I pulled my first stint as an 80 Meter Fox.  Conditions were strange.  Loudest signals were heard from the Midwest - Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota.  Usually on 80 Meters, the louder stations are from the South - Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky.  Not so tonight.  I did work a fair share of stations from those states; but they were not as loud as I have grown accustomed to.

The pelt count was not great and I called "CQ FOX" a lot.  It's definitely more fun handing out pelts than calling CQ.  Also, listening for weak stations with the AGC off for an hour and a half is probably not the best thing for the ears, either - but it beats a day at work any day!  What's that old QRPers saying ????  "A bad day behind the radio is better than a good day at work."

My next stint is a Tuesday in early January.  In fact it's the Tuesday after my surgery which was scheduled for January 7th. I am hoping that with the colder Winter weather that's undoubtedly coming, that better conditions on 80 Meters will be coming also.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Woo hoo - nice surprise !!!

A small, thin packet of QSL cards from the W2 QSL bureau was waiting for me when I got home from work today.  Inside was my QSL card confirming my 17 Meter QRP CW contact with VP6DX, Ducie Island from back in February of 2008. 

As the QRPer's motto goes, patience really does pay off.  Patience, two separate monetary donations, a whole ton of e-mails and a two year and nine month wait - but it did finally come.  To be honest, I had given up a while ago and figured "that's the way the cookie crumbles".  But it's nice to have the card!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Duck hunt?

I had to double check the calendar.  I had thought for sure that tonight was the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt.  Oh wait a minute ...... it IS Thursday night!  I'm just not hearing anything - Foxes or hounds tonight.  And that's a shame as their is hardly any background QRN and the band is pristine!

I am hearing some stations calling "CQ NS" however and sending an exchange with the word "DUCK" in it; so I am assuming there is either some kind of practice going on or perhaps a weeknight contest of some sort?  I am definitely not the Contest Guru; so am not sure at all.

I do see a skunk pelt in sight for tonight however.  Conditions are beautiful and I can't hear a peep out of either Fox or Hound pack.  How ironic!

Late note ...... finally found Rick NK9G.  He was mostly at ESP levels but occasionally popped up to about 559. Unfortunately, hearing him is quite tough as he is being alternately covered up by a QRQ station and F3NB calling"CQ DX".  Even with the K2's tightest filter, it's a mess on that frequency.  However, the French station is way is way stronger, so I guess the band IS long tonight.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Mixed Bag

The good news for the day was that I nabbed two pelts in the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt this evening.  Both Drew K9CW and Andy K1RA were worked without much difficulty - a testament to their fine ears and equipment and aerials.

The not so great news for the day is that I will be having the parathyroid surgery sometime after the New Year.  A visit to the surgeon pretty much confirmed that.  I have to have two more tests done - a bone density scan and a thyroid ultrasound.  After that, a date for surgery will be scheduled.  Recovery time will be about a week to ten days at home, followed by no heavy lifting at work (no more than 10 pounds) for a month after that.

It seems it either comes down to surgery now; or an enhanced possibility of more kidney stones and osteoporosis in the future.  Since I don't want to be bogged down by a broken hip when I'm in my 80s, the choice seems fairly logical.

On the bright side, I was explained that the procedure should take no longer than a half hour or so.  A local anesthetic and sedation is all that will be required; and I will be home the same day.  Doesn't sound too bad right now; but I'm sure the night before, I probably won't get much sleep!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Leaves ...... ugh!

I took part in the annual Autumn ritual today - raking leaves.  Or rather, I should say, blowing and vacuuming leaves.  God bless the man at Toro Company who thought up the combination leaf blower / leaf vacuum!  I spent about two hours cleaning up the backyard and then about an hour cleaning up the front yard.


You know what's disheartening though?  Coming back to the backyard after cleaning up the front yard only to see the backyard look like I never touched it!  Many leaves literally jumped at the chance to replace their fallen comrades.  The good news, though, is that it looks like maybe one more week and all the leaves will be off that sugar maple in my neighbor's backyard.

This is the tree we had to have topped about five years ago.  I'm thinking that once the leaves are all gone, I just might be able to get the center of my G5RV up another ten feet or so.  It's regained some of its stature in these past five years.

The maple back in December 2005, right after being topped - it has gained about 10 - 15 feet back.

I did get some time to head down the basement and tune around for a bit.  I heard VP2V/NY6X calling CQ on 17 Meters and handling a bit of a pileup.  Of course, the British Virgin Islands is an easy trip from NJ, but it was still fun and gratifying to be heard among the clamor with only 5 Watts.  I managed to snare Naoki on my second call - a testament to his superb ears and his superb operating skills.

That more than made up for the leaves!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP  When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

K8DD - Silent Key

This appeared on QRP-L today; and it is with sadness that I repost it here:

K8DD final update 11-13-10

This may be the hardest email I've ever written.

At 5:33 a.m. this morning Henry Richard Kohl passed away from respiratory complications in the ICU of Henry Ford Detroit. Hank was surrounded by his wife Kathie, son Andy and friends Trish and Stan Arnett.

Per his wishes there will not be a funeral, but a memorial service will be held sometime in the Spring.

Kath extends her thanks to everyone for their cards, prayers and well wishes.

K8DD (SK) RIP

I'll try to write more when I'm less likely to short the keyboard with tears

Stan, AC8W

I never met Hank face-to-face; but we met on the air dozens of times.  There were also dozens of private e-mails between us concerning a topic of interest we both held.   I will miss his observations, his wit and his friendliness.

Till we meet again, Hank!  May the DX be plentiful and the propagation always wonderful!  

Dit dit.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you!


Two simple words from the English language ..... "Thank You".  Can they ever be enough to let you (the Veterans) know how I feel?

They will have to do.  I have no other means of conveying my deepest gratitude.  Thank you for your service to our country.  Thank you for your sacrifices.  Thank you for everything!

And for our departed veterans, Lord please shine your face upon them and allow them to enjoy Your light for all eternity.  Amen.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Project for the Winter

As a QRPer you probably have a million of them - who doesn't?  If you're like me, you might have a small stash of kits waiting to be worked on (ie, started!), or perhaps you have a schematic for a transmitter, receiver or some other station doo-dad that you want to complete over the Winter.

With my post the other day about the Begali mono, and realizing that I won't be able to afford one in the near future, I have decided that I will try to craft my own single lever paddle for station use this Winter.  As of right now, there are only a few very crude ideas rolling around in my cranium.  Nothing refined and nothing definite.  But there are some goals that I have in mind:

1) The finished product has to have a good feel.  I don't want to make something and then never use it, only for the thing to take up space and collect dust.

2) It has to be heavy enough so that it won't wander all over my operating table.

3) I want it to look good.  I want to be able to be show it off without being embarrassed.

So, I have started trolling the Web for some basic ideas.  Maybe I can glean enough and then expand upon other ideas.  After all, that's how a lot of things come about   ..... no?  Improvements on existing ideas.

http://arj.nvg.org/ham/paddle1.html

http://9w2gu.blogspot.com/2008/03/homebrew-simple-iambic-key.html

http://home.online.no/~verner/Clippers.pdf

http://www.aa5tb.com/paddles.html

http://www.amqrp.org/projects/paddle/NB6M%20Paddles.html

http://www.eham.net/articles/7114

http://timelesson.blogspot.com/2010/02/second-life-of-dead-mfm-hard-drives.html

These should be enough to get me started.  The planning phase will probably take the longest.  The idea is not to make anything that I would consider "superior"; but just to have fun, and build something useful with my own two paws.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Tuning around on 30 Meters

and not hearing too much of anything.  Of course, I really don't have a great antenna for 30 Meters.  The G5RV is a pretty bad performer and the Butternut is OK; but not great.

I did hear PJ2/K2TQC managing a pretty good sized pileup; but by the time I found him, his signal was fading fast.  I stayed with him for a bit; but then reality took hold and I went searching other parts of the band.  I called CQ for a bit around the QRP watering hole and found no takers.  I then went back to listen to the PJ2 station, but he was so weak as to be almost non-existent.

The "normal" bands are filled with Sweepstakes stations, and that's really heartwarming to hear.  The contest doesn't pull me in the least, though.  Back in the 90's I used to participate to get the "100 Contacts" pin that the League offered.  Do they still even do that anymore?

I guess my attention span (or maybe my back and backside) are better geared for shorter 2 to 4 hour Sprints. I admire the die hard contesters, though.  They have drive and stamina that I could only hope for.  At the same time, I think about how accustomed we've become to having computers in our shacks.  I remember in my early Ham days, when everyone kept a paper and pencil dupe sheet.  Wow, we've come a long way!  I'm sure some folks still use the old paper and pencil method, but I'd also be willing to wager that that is becoming rarer and rarer.

For my involvement in the QRP Sprints, I still keep my log with paper and pencil and transfer to the computer after the fact.  With the number of QSOs that I generally make, a dupe sheet is not necessary.  When you only make 20 to 30 contacts in a couple of hours, it's real easy to see if you've worked a guy before on a given band.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sweepstakes

Everyone have fun in the Sweepstakes this weekend!  This is not one that I normally participate in; but back when I was working on WAS, I found it a nice vehicle to cherry pick the rarer states that I needed.

Now that we're entering the colder months; you just might find those rarer ones aplenty on 40 Meters in the evening.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Time for an apology

My sincerest apologies to Rick NK9G.

It has been pointed out to me that I crossed some sort of line and had attacked him with my post below about not making it into his Fox log this past Tuesday evening.

To Rick and to all the readers out there, that was not my intent.  I did not want to show anyone up, dress anyone down, or humiliate anyone in public, or least of all, look for "revenge".

It was suggested that I remove that post; but that would not be the right thing to do either.  I will let it stand, for what it's worth, along with this one.  I said what I said, and I've never denied my own words before.  The childish thing would be to "make it all go away".

So now, I am typing new words; and I stand by these, also. To Rick NK9G and to anyone else out there who feels I betrayed a trust, you have my most sincere apology.

Thank you for reading.

Larry W2LJ

Cool!

I was picking my kids up from school the other day, when I ran into one of the other student's fathers in the parking lot, who happened to be a Ham also.  He saw the callsign plates on the Ford Explorer and took the opportunity to shake my hand and introduce himself.

"W2LJ, you're into QRP and CW, right?" he asked.

Hmmmmmm ..... I guess he is either a reader or he saw my car before with the little QRP sticker on the back.  Anyway, we chatted for a bit and it turns out that he's "a Believer" too!  He has a regular QRO rig; but also a Ten Tec Argonaut for QRPing and a set of Begali paddles.

Begalis ....... WOW!

Those are yet another thing to add to the lottery winning list, along with the K3, new laptop and all the other little things I would love to have but can't afford.  As a matter of fact, I went to the Begali website just today and was drooling over the Simplex Mono single lever paddle.  You know, the price doesn't seem too bad until you convert those Euros into US Dollars.  Talk about sticker shock!

Beautiful, isn't it?  Courtesy of the Begali Website.

Something else to dream about these coming Winter nights.

Hey - US Hams ...... don't forget that we "fall back" and turn our clocks back an hour this weekend.

72 de W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Guess I was wrong

I didn't make it into NK9G's Fox log the other night.

Unfortunately, he chose an unsettling way to announce that to the entire world - from the Q-FOX reflector today:

80 Meter Log NK9G
corrections if any to nk9g@wi.rr.com
and those who didnt get in the log... W2SH,  W2LJ,  KG4J..,  K7GO
72 & Good Hunting!
Rick  NK9G
NK9G FOX LOG 11/02/10
01:01 K9CW 579 IL DREW 5W
 (rest of log appears)

Hmmmmmmm ..... I think it would have been better to have just read the log and discovered my call missing.  


I was heard (obviously); but guess my exchange wasn't copied. That's what I'll have to assume as no cogent explanation was given.

Them's the breaks!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thinking of doing it!

So I commented about the beginning of Fox hunt season last night; and sure enough the concept was new to some of the newer QRPers out there.  I got some private e-mails that, "It sounds like a lot of fun; but ......."

No buts about it!

It is fun and it is easy!  And to show you how easy it is; I will take you through it step by step.  This way, you can jump in with both feet Thursday night and you will sound like a grizzled veteran.  This Thursday night's hunt will be on 40 Meters.  The good news is that you only need to concentrate on a very small slice of it - from 7.030 to 7.050 MHz, in fact.  In that span, you will have two furry foxes hiding in the weeds.  This Thursday, they will be Pat KZ5J and Arn KØZK.   Somewhere in that frequency patch, if you listen closely, you will hear them call "CQ FOX".  To make things even easier, they will split up.  One of them will be hiding in the 7.030 to 7.040 patch, while the other will be hiding in the 7.040 to 7.050 patch.

Odds are that they will be operating split, meaning that they will transmit on one frequency while listening on another.  You're job is to figure all this out.  Don't be scared - it's not all that difficult!  Let's say for example you come across KZ5J calling 'CQ FOX DE KZ5J U" on 7.035 MHz.  This usually means that he will be listening for you to call him on or about 7.036 MHz.  The "1 up" rule is not written in stone.  It's up to you to listen up and figure out exactly where he is indeed, taking calls.  Once you discover that, you either make use of the split button on your rig (or the RIT knob) to call on his listening frequency, while in turn listening for his transmission on his transmit frequency.  A tip here - just put out your call once or twice - do NOT keep sending your call over and over and over.  This will not accomplish anything except cause a very messy pile up!

If you are lucky to have been heard, you will then probably hear something like this, and I will use my call for the sake of the example.

W2LJ de KZ5J TU 559 TX PAT 5W BK

The exchange is signal report, state or province, first name, output power.  In turn, I would send:

TU UR 559 NJ LARRY 5W DE W2LJ BK

 If he missed any part of your exchange, he would  ask for a fill at this time. You might get something like "NAME?" or "PWR?"  If you get one of these you need to make sure he gets all your information for a valid exchange.  If everything went well, you will probably hear something like TU QRZ DE KZ5J FOX U signaling that he's ready to take on the next hound.

And there you have it - a pelt in the bag and the opportunity to go find the other Fox.

If you hear the "U" or a "D" after the Fox's call that means they are listening up or down - usually 1 kHz, but not always!  Sometimes it could be more and sometimes less.  That's up for you to figure out.  As the pileup thins and it gets late into the hunt, it's not unusual for the Fox to stop operating split and begin operating simplex.  This can be determined by there being no "U" or "D" after his call.

As you can see, listening and listening well is the key to success.  Just aimlessly putting out your call over and over and over again will not guarantee you any ind of success - in fact it just might make for an angry bunch of hounds.

There is also a Fox primer on the QRP Fox hunt site that you can read by clicking here.  It was written by Lloyd Lachow K3ESE and is another good explanation of how this all works,

See you in the pack of Hounds tomorrow night!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

And so it begins

Another QRP Fox hunt season has begun.  It started tonight on 80 Meters and will continue Thursday night on 40 Meters.  The season will last until March of 2011.  A lot of hunts and a lot of fun.  I have volunteered to be a Fox for 80 Meters once again this year, with my first turn coming the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

Tonight the Foxes were N0UR, Jim in Minnesota and NK9G, Rick in Wisconsin.  I found Rick early on and was hearing him only weakly; so I decided to go look for Jim.  N0UR was loud and I bagged his pelt fairly quickly.  Jim and I seem to have a pipeline to each other.  It's a rare day when I cannot work him, or visa versa.

Rick was hard work on the other hand.  It took the entire hunt time allotment to snare him.  I grabbed his pelt with literally minutes to go.  When signals are weak, sometimes it takes patience (a LOT of patience!), timing and persistence.  Some times just tweaking your transmit frequency a hair; so that your received signal tone will jump out to the Fox's ears is the way to go.  Some nights, all the patience, timing, persistence and "tricks" net you nothing.  But that's the way it works in the world of DX pileups, too - and that's the purpose of these hunts ...... to hone operating skills for the bigger events where a QRPer might need every edge he or she can pull out of his or her sleeve.

If you have never tried a QRP Fox hunt before, thinking that it might be too hard or intimidating .... think again!  Jump into the fray and have some fun (and sometimes some frustration too) - but usually the fun outweighs the frustration.  One thing I guarantee you, you will learn the capabilities and limitations of your equipment, antennas and yourself, very quickly.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween


There will not be much time for radio today ..... chores in the morning, and then taking my kids "Trick or Treating" this afternoon. Then this evening, my local Knights of Columbus Council is throwing a Halloween party; and I am one of the two guys tasked with running that.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a fun and safe Halloween.  Enjoy the time spent with your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. May there be enough ghosties and goblins at your door to take all your candy; so that you won't be tempted by the left overs like I am.

Hon ..... did you save me a few Snickers bars ??????

72 de Larry
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Human again

The Zombie Shuffle is over and I leave the ranks of the "undead" and become human once again.

Going to sleep last night, slightly disappointed with the outcome, I had a chance to read other participant's comments this morning.  I don't know about any of you out there; but when I have a poor experience with a radio event, I always assume that it was something that I did wrong; or perhaps my equipment.  I don't know why; but I guess I tend to blame myself, first.  Also, I had a pretty crappy work week; and had my mind's eye focused on the Shuffle as a fun but relaxing way to turn that around

There was some solace to be had from seeing that other folks had the same results that I got.  Band conditions were indeed poor; and Hank N8XX claimed that some of the MI QRP guys noted significant aurora in the higher latitude Michigan skies last night. 

There were also a few reports from guys who had great success with upwards of 40 contacts or so.  To them, I say "Congratulations - good job!".  But it's also comforting to know that there are guys out there, like me, who also feel that they pretty much got skunked.

As my friend Bob W3BBO constantly reminds me ...... "location, location, location!"  Guess I didn't have a good one last night.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zombie Standstill

 W2LJ without his makeup on.

This Zombie didn't do much shuffling tonight.  Band conditions were pretty poor.  It's almost 11:00 PM local time and I've only bagged six Zombies.  And just about each QSO was like pulling teeth.  Heavy QRN and QSB on 80 Meters - heavy SSB QRM on 40 Meters.

I ended up pulling the plug at 11:30 PM local time; after a "micro-run" on 80 Meters yielded three more QSOs for a total of nine Zombies worked.  Nothing to brag about; but still fun!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Listen for me tomorrow night



Not sure why; but I always get hepped up for the Zombie Shuffle.  Probably because it's a zero pressure, totally fun QRP event.  I am going to try and put in as much time as I can.  I hope to get on the air around 7:00 PM or so, local time and stretch it out until 11:00 PM or so, local time.

Hope to catch you on the air tomorrow night to hear all those BOOtiful QRP signals!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some Halloween Events

Halloween (or All Hallows Eve) is coming up this Sunday.  Originally the day was celebrated by the Celts as Samhain.  This translates roughly to "Summer's End" and marked the time when the hours of darkness started to become longer than the daylight hours as the seasons changed.  The Celts believed that at this time of the year, the veil between our world and the netherworld became nebulous, allowing for demons and evil spirits to cross over to our realm.  This is the source of the belief in ghosties and goblins around this time. People began wearing masks or costumes to confound the evil spirits.  The name came about as the evening precedes the Catholic Holy Day known as All Saint's Day - thus the All Hallows Eve moniker.

What's this got to do with Amateur Radio?  There are several Halloween events coming up, with the ghostie and goblin theme as part of the "fun".  Probably the best known amongst QRPers is NA5N's popular Zombie Shuffle which is traditionally held the Friday before Halloween, which happens to be this coming Friday. It's called the Shuffle because we all know that zombies don't possess the wherewithal to sprint!  For the rules, you can visit http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/zombie.htm  The competition runs from local sunset to local midnight; and you can operate for any four hours.  Participants are asked to call "CQ BOO".

This year, on the day of Halloween itself, the Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club will be operating Special Event Station WØO from Frankenstein, MO.  They will be operating on or near the standard QRP watering hole frequencies throughout the day and night.  If your address is good on QRZ, they will send you a commemorative QSL.

Also this year, Ed Breneiser WA3WSJ has announced that his GORC organization will be holding a Zombie Sprint.  You can operate any four hours of the entire Halloween weekend; and while this is not a strictly QRP event, there is a bonus multiplier for operating QRP.  The winner of the contest will receive a Ft. Tuthill 15 Meter Transceiver kit.  Details can be found here: http://www.wa3wsj.org/Zombie-Sprint.html

Have fun and BOO !!!!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The bands seem to be waking up

even with solar conditions not at their optimum.  This afternoon, while twiddling the dial of the K2, I heard several Argentinian stations on 10 Meters.  I also worked CO8LY, Eduardo in Cuba on a fourth band - 12 Meters.  I have previously worked Ed on 30, 20 and 17 Meters.  Ed was coming in like gangbusters.  His signal sounded more like he was down the street from me rather than 1,300 miles away.

I also had a nice lil' chat with Kim AB7JK on 15 Meters. Kim, who is in Largo, FL was using 1 Watt during our QSO.  There was a lot of QSB, but at peaks, AB7JK's signal was 579 into New Jersey.  I almost felt guilty using the entire "QRO" 5 Watts on my end!

I have started gathering the materials I need for constructing the 160 Meter antenna and for also adding 20 or so more radials to the HF9V.  The HF9V has been performing so superbly as of late that adding some more radials can only make things better.

And lest I forget, kudos to the ARRL for restoring the list of QRP DXCC holders on the ARRL Website.  When it went away, I was disappointed, as I like to look at the list from time to time to see how many call signs that I recognize.  It disappeared when the newly designed Website came into being in April; but now it's back - thanks ARRL !

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

And now .......

back to our regularly "not scheduled" series ........


 http://www.mv.com/ipusers/w1pid/mtpond/mtpond.html

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Antenna Maintenance

Today was a beautiful Fall day in central New Jersey!  It was sunny and not too warm; but at the same time, not too cool.  The high for the day was about 64F (17C).

After doing the grocery shopping and some "running around" errands, I got down to the serious work for the day - yard work.  For one reason or another, I had neglected all Summer long, the task of cutting back the overgrowth of foliage from my neighbor's yard.  There is a chain link fence between us; but that is largely invisible due to the large amount of decorative shrubs and bushes and plants that they have.  Every Summer I have to cut it back; or else I get whapped in the face by vines and branches when I mow my back lawn.

I got that all done today.  As I had estimated, it was a three hour job, and I was able to fill eight large refuse bags with trimmings and clippings.  The best part was that I was able to prune back my other neighbor's tree that had overgrown into my back yard which had caused my Butternut to become less than straight up and down vertical.  Two large leafy branches were cut back in quick order and my HF9V is truly a vertical once again.

Tomorrow, if nothing else comes up to deter me, the plan is to go to the local hardware store to purchase all the materials needed to construct my 160 Meter vertical.  I am hoping that next weekend will see the fruition of that dream.  I am keeping my fingers crossed already for good weather!  I am not one of those Hams who feel that the best time to put up an antenna is during a hurricane or blizzard!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aaaarrrgh!

And I am not trying to speak in "pirate".

"Oh, the pain!"  as Dr. Smith from "Lost in Space" would say.

I was fortunate enough to hook up with Dick K5TF again this evening.  We worked last week during the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party last weekend; and this evening we were able to engage in a short chat.  The QSO was fine; but a lil' work.  I was 339 and Dick was 449; but with a little concentration and a little tweaking of the RIT knob for good tone, the copy was good and the QSO was flowing.

Then an earsplitting VE9 station came on the frequency and called a W2 station.  And yes, you have guessed correctly, the VE9 station engaged in my Pet Peeve - he commenced his call up without so much the benefit of a "QRL?" 

At this point, I'm almost tired of bringing this subject up - but what the heck has happened to courtesy and manners?  Has it gone out the same window as courtesy and manners on the Internet?

You know, if the VE9 had called "QRL?" once or twice and THEN commenced his call; I would have chalked that up to him not hearing two QRP stations on the East coast from all the way up in VE9 land.  That can happen and you just classify it as "one of those things".  But to not put out a "QRL?" before calling another station or calling CQ is inexcusable in my book.

Hiram ..... can I borrow the Wouff Hong and the Rettysnitch?  There's someone I have to take care of!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One of our own

is sick; and could use your prayers and best wishes.

If you've been involved with the world of QRP for any length of time, you've run across Hank Kohl K8DD.  If you've attended FDIM you probably reserved your room through him.  But you may also know him from working him in any number of QRP contests, sprints, or perhaps even one of the many DXpeditions he's been a member of.  Hank is also familiar to his fellow members of QRP-ARCI, the Flying Pigs, MI-QRP, NAQCC, etc.

Hank is in the hospital with some serious medical issues.  If you subscribe to the Flying Pigs list, the details have been made known there; and I'm not going to get into specifics here.  Suffice it to say, it's not as simple as "same day" surgery.  Hank's a hurtin' puppy right now and can use your prayers and best wishes.

And, I am sure, he wouldn't mind receiving a QSL card from you letting him know that you're thinking of him.  Here's his address courtesy of QRZ.com:

HENRY R KOHL
PO BOX 88
ATTICA, MI 48412-0088
USA

I am sure that Hank's wife Kathie would love to lift Hank's spirits with a lot of well wishes from his fellow Hams and QRPers.

I'm putting mine in the Post Office mailbox tomorrow morning.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last minute thought

about the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party this past weekend.

Due in large part, I guess, to yet another RTTY contest, 7.030 MHz became "home" to most, if not all of the QRP activity on 40 Meters this past weekend.  I heard and worked QRP contesters from about 7.027 MHz right on up to about 7.037 MHz or thereabouts.

So maybe the 7.040 MHz vs 7.030 MHz debate will simmer down for a bit?  I guess there will always be activity around 7.040 MHz for a while due to so many crystal controlled kits being centered around that frequency.  But when you have ear splitting RTTY signals occupying 7.038 MHz to about 7.050 MHz for an entire weekend, those built kits become pretty useless.

The next "fun" QRP event (as if they all aren't)?  Don't forget that annual Halloween ritual, the Zombie Shuffle.  This year's shuffle is scheduled to take place on Friday night, October 29th,  The Friday before Halloween.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

More on the SDR Cube

The other day, I received an e-mail from Toby DH1TW concerning N2APB's SDR Cube.  It seems that Toby had the opportunity to sit down with George N2APB for an in-depth interview about his new product.

Toby wanted to share with you folks - so here's the link to his blog:

http://www.dh1tw.de/sdr-cube-interview

 Thanks, Toby, for sharing!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mor(s)e fun!

I got to play around more in the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party today.  My time was once again limited between leaf raking and other cleaning chores.  But I got a few QSOs in between distractions; and had a lot of fun.

15 Meters was open again; but not to the extent that it was yesterday.  It also seemed like there were fewer station on 15 Meters today than yesterday.  20 and 40 Meters were the hot bands today and as the closing minutes of the event are winding down, there is some activity on 80 Meters.

The highlights today were working my good friend Bob W3BBO on both 40 and 80 Meters.  We even gave 160 Meters a shot; but I didn't hear anything.  I really have to get that 160 Meter vertical constructed - SOON!  I was also fortunate to work John K3WWP twice today as N3A - the NAQCC Anniversary station, on both 80 and 40 Meters also.

I worked TO3GA on 40 Meters at 22:09 UTC.  Boy, was he loud!  Great signal from Martinique.

All in all, it looks like approximately 65 stations were worked during the meager amount of time I was able to put in.  It was nice to get my feet wet again a QRP ARCI event.  Thanks to all of you out there who heard my signal and allowed me to give you some contest points.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TU UR 559 NJ NR 4488 BK

In between chores and other duties (grocery shopping, etc.) I did a lot of calling "CQ QRP DE W2LJ" today in honor of the 2010 QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party.  I did a lot of CQing and a lot of searching and pouncing and had a lot of fun in the few hours that I was able to participate today.  And the fun was the most important part.  I am not in these contests to win, I am a Contest Point Giver as my friend K4UPG likes to point out (the coiner of the term).  My QSO/hour rate was atrocious at best; but lest I repeat myself, I had fun - lots of fun.

The set up here (as always from home) was the K2 to the Butternut HF9V on 15 and 20 Meters and the G5RV for 40, 80 and 160 Meters.  Several surprises - the most heartwarming of which was that 15 Meters was wide open today!  I worked a Spanish station that was calling "CQ ARCI".  I nabbed EA2LU, Jorge at 15:51 UTC.  He had a nice 559 signal coming across the pond from Pamplona, Spain.  I also managed to work good friend and fellow blogger, John AE5X.  I haven't worked John for a while; and he had one of the loudest signals I heard on 15 Meters today.

video

Another highlight was working Bob N4BP on three bands - 15, 20 and 40 Meters.  Bob always has an impressive signal into NJ.  And if you want to know why, look up his call on QRZ and then look at his QTH on the satellite version of the map.  His tower and antenna are visible from space!  Here's what his signal sounded like at my QTH.

video

Another surprise was working Ken W4DU on 20 Meters.  Ken is the President of QRP ARCI and working him was a special treat.  He also had a VERY loud signal on 20 Meters into NJ from GA.  Here's what he sounded like:

video

Although he didn't answer him right away, you can hear that Ken was called by WØNTA - Dick in Colorado.  I didn't work Dick today and regret that.  I haven't worked him in a while; but have him in my log many, many times as he is a very avid QRP Contester.

Shortly after working Ken, I came across another Spanish QRP staion.  This time it was Guru EA2IF.  We completed a QSO at 20:35 UTC.  Guru didn't have a QRP ARCI number, so he gave his output power of 5W as his number.  Five Watts from Madrid to South Plainfield works out to be about 725 miles per Watt. Not bad ..... not bad!

And yet another surprise was working Rich K5TF on 40 Meters.  A quick check in my log told me that the last time we had worked each other was back in 1993 via RS12/13.  Now that's a long time between QSOs!  I wasn't even aware that Rich was a member of QRP ARCI until today.  And see?  We QRPers DO have other interests besides just QRP ragchewing and contesting - we even enjoy satellite work!  We're definitely not a one dimensional bunch.

I also had a few contacts on 80 Meters tonight; and even listened and called CQ a few times on 160 Meters.  The contest runs until tomorrow evening, so I will be anxious to see if 15 Meters will be open again tomorrow and am looking forward to working some more QRP friends both old and new!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party

Just a reminder that this weekend is the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party.  The seasonal QSO Parties remain as the most popular of the QRP contests.  I will always work some QRPers during these contests that I never seem to hear in any of the smaller Sprints.


This contest is a 36 hour event; so even the most busy QRPers should be able to find a few spare hours to get on the air.  As Kelly K4UPG would say, this is a prime opportunity for us CPG's (contest point givers) to get on the air and hand out some points to the dedicated contest ops.  To make matters even better, solar conditions, while not superb, have been decent as of late.  At least there have been no major geomagnetic anomalies to curtail activity.

All the pertinent details can be found at the QRP ARCI Website; or you can simply click here for the straight skinny.

So if you want to A) Increase your code speed,  B) Hone your contesting skills, or C) Just have some fun ....... here is a grand opportunity to do D) All of the above!

73 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New hat

I was looking at some posts on Twitter the other day; when I noticed that my friend Gerry N2GJ recently got a brand new call sign hat from Astrid's Embroidery & Quilts.  The picture that was posted was very nice and soon had me wanting one of my own. 

I placed an order on Monday.

It's Thursday and it's in my hands!  How is that for service?


 Here's a picture of my son Joey, wearing the cap.  He makes for a much better model than me.

In addition to your call sign, you can add the ARRL logo, like I did.  You can also add a second line of text; and best of all, it doesn't have to be your name.  I added a description of my Ham Radio passions in one simple line - QRP & CW.  And on the side, you can add a graphic, such as the flapping American flag, like I did.  If you want, there are also graphics available of a microphone, straight key, SkyWarn logo, etc.  You can really do a fantastic job of customizing your hat to just about anyway you'd like it.  If you're a member of the NAQCC or SKCC, then there are special pages that you might just want to check out!

Todd W8MC provides a quality item here.  This ain't no flimsy, chintzy hat.  This is one you will be proud to wear for years to come. 

Last spring, I lost my ARRL 2009 Field Day hat in a gust of wind during a rain storm.  Up until now, that hat was my all time favorite.  I've got a new favorite now!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Times have changed



Oh yeah - times have changed, haven't they?  When was the last time you came home from a hard day at work, only to sit down in your shack on your callsign embroidered seat cushions, loosened your necktie, while "the little woman" came and brought you a brewski on a tray, no less?

Although, listening to some of those SSB roundtables on 75 Meters leads me to believe that some of the boys may still be having a few too many brewskis.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not sure what to think

South Plainfield CERT/RACES members got together to take part in the Simulated Emergency Test, the first Saturday on October.  Much to our dismay, we heard no activity on any of the local OEM repeaters; or for that matter, any chatter on the NNJ ARES group page.  So we conducted our own exercise and sent our report in to the usual set of officials. Inquiries to the  County OEM by Marv K2VHW, as to the lack of activity that day went unanswered.

I guess there was a reason for that:

http://www.co.middlesex.nj.us/news/2010_CERT.asp

It seems there was an exercise planned to occur the following weekend; the only problem is that we found out after the fact.

I'm not sure what to think, who might have dropped the ball, why we weren't told.  It certainly seems like it was a good drill; and the chance to participate would have been welcomed by all members of the South Plainfield CERT Teams (there are four teams, consisting of about 10 to 15 CERT members each).  Certainly, we were one of the earliest townships to organize CERT in the county, and we are also one of the towns close to bordering on Somerset County (with whom this joint exercise was conducted).

In two words, I can sum up the entire experience as far as South Plainfield is concerned - very disappointing.

I am certainly hoping for better communications next year - after all, isn't that what we're supposed to specialize in?

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Are CW Veterans Killing CW?

This is the article du jour at eHam.

Normally, I take anything I see on eHam with a grain of salt.  Obviously, this little article was written with the intention "to push buttons".  I guess I was supposed to get all bent out of shape by the premise of the article and the accusations being made.  I think I laughed more than anything else.

For years it has been, "CW is killing Ham Radio".  The requirement was downsized to 5 WPM and then eliminated.  Now the mode itself is being killed by the veteran ops who "just won't slow down" for the newbies.  This statement, IMHO, is a "hasty generalization" as I know that there are veritable tons of veteran ops out there who never fail to QRS when asked - and maybe even do so when not asked.

I'm getting tired of all the whining.

If you scroll down the page, I posted a response.  It's there to be read by one and all.  I still stick with my answers - the Morse Code has never been more easier to learn than it is now.  Now before you jump all over me, I don't mean that actually learning the Code is easier than it used to be - what I mean is that there are more resources and learning tools than there have ever been before.

Back when I learned it, you had few choices.  You had the AMECO LPs, or those unwieldy Instructograph machines and paper tapes, or you had cassettes from the ARRL; or if you were really lucky, you had an Elmer who would tutor you.  I didn't have that kind of Elmer; but I did have a cassette player.  I got up to the necessary 5 WPM  in a few weeks.  I got my ticket and cut my teeth in the Novice "sub-bands" with all the other newbies.  We communicated amongst ourselves and the higher class licensed holders who ventured forth into our little world.  We kept at it, working other stations and listening to more higher speed code tapes and W1AW.  It took time and was hard work; but we kept at it and we upgraded.  And we knew one important tip that used to be stressed often; but never seems to be stressed now.  If you want to increase your speed, you have to work ops who are sending just a bit higher than the speed you are comfortable with.

So let's get down to brass tacks. These days, there are a plethora of Morse Code learning tools.  The absolute best method is a fantastic trio of programs from fellow blogger G4ILO, Julian Moss.  Morse Machine, MorseGen and MorseTest are a triumvirate of software programs that are the ultimate tools for teaching yourself the Morse Code or for helping you improve your copying ability.  If you can't get it done by using these programs, then I'm not sure what to say.

But wait, there's more!  As if those aren't enough, there's Koch Trainer by G4FON. There's also Morse Academy, and Super Morse, and Nu-Morse.  There's also Morse Runner and RUFZ, which are excellent programs designed for the sole purpose of helping you to increase your speed once you have mastered the Code.

Just about all of the learning programs allow you to make practice cassettes or CDs or MP3 files for your iPOD or whatever MP3 device you happen to own.  It has never been easier to custom tailor a learning program to your own specific needs.

That all said and done, however, the hard work and desire remain.  In these days of instant gratification, if you want to learn Morse Code or increase your code speed, then you'd better get used to the fact that you are going to need patience, desire and time.  There are NO shortcuts.  You are going to have to slog it out like the rest of us.  And unless you have some kind of physical (hearing) limitation or learning disability; then you should be able to meet your goal.

To this day, some 32 years after learning the Code, I still keep a CD in the car onto which I have burned some 40 WPM code practice.  When I get tired of listening to the chatter on VHF/UHF, I pop the CD in and continue to push myself to stretch the limits of the speed that I can comfortably copy in my head.

And as a Newbie, once you get on the air, there are even resources there!  Get involved with FISTS, the Straight Key Century Club or the North American QRP CW Club.  Each of these organizations have members who are more than willing to get on the air with you and help you increase your speed.  There are slow speed traffic nets out there with just this purpose in mind.  The help IS there, you just have to be willing to swallow your pride a little and look for it and ask for it.  It's not going to fall out of the sky and land in your lap.

Are the CW veterans killing CW?  No.  But maybe frustration, lack of patience and unrealistic expectations and maybe (I daresay) laziness might.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wouxun Mobile Radio


So here's a picture.  Not exactly too sure about any details; but you can click on the picture to look at the specs.  And I'm not sure exactly what might be getting lost in the translation.

Somehow I doubt that this will be a 2M/220/440 tri-bander like some folks I have heard desperately wish for.  If the quality is the same as the HTs; then it will surely be a good buy for the price.

Some of the radio forums are speculating on a price in the $150 to $200 range.  If this radio is like their HTs; then I'd be happy to buy a 2M/220MHz version, install it in my car and keep it on 220 MHz; and let my Icom do the rest.

BTW, so far there is no date mentioned as to when these will be available on the market.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

More iHAB2

The following was posted on QRP-L today.  Take the time to go watch the YouTube launch video, it is fascinating!

iHAB-2 Launch Update


First, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the second launch of the iHAB Project. I would like to thank QRP ARCI (http://www.qrparci.org) for sponsoring thisflight. iHAB-2 was a great success, and I am pleased with the overwhelming responses I have received! Amateur Radio operators from around the world tuned in to take a listen and watch iHAB-2 on it flight.

Here are some statistics for iHAB-2

Flight lasted 4hours 28min. iHAB-2 ascended to 87,100 feet, and covered over 170 miles. The balloon and payload landed safely in a corn field east of Rockbridge, IL. Thanks to the help of 3 local hams operators & experienced FoxFunters, it was recovered within 30min of landing. Many thanks to Mark Joseph (KC9DUU) - Jesse Risley (K9JLR) - Jeremy Lamb (KC9KGJ) for their fantastic work!

The APRS telemetry didn't work as well as expected due to VERY sparse APRS iGate density along the flight path. The camera on board took 2100 digital photos, and provided some excellent pictures of the earth in near space. The High Resolution version of the iHAB-2 Panoramic is "out of this world"! It is a MUST SEE!  http://www.w0otm.com/iHAB/iHAB-2/Media/iHAB-2_Panorama1_HQ.jpg

Over 350 signal reports were submitted worldwide from the 14.059 CW beacon.

The iHAB-2 website has been updated with post flight analysis data, photos, as well as PreLaunch, Launch, and recovery videos. Feel free to share your experience withyour fellow hams, and prepare for iHAB-3 launch very soon!

Keep Looking Up!

http://www.w0otm.com/iHAB/iHAB-2/

Launch Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTdsSM9_rq4

Flight Photos:
http://www.w0otm.com/iHAB/iHAB-2/Launch-Photos.html

Marshal WØOTM

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More bug time

I was playing around with the bug some more tonight; and had a nice QSO with Paul AA1LL from Mason, NH.

I noticed two things in particular, which has got me thinking that I might be crazy, or maybe just a little odd.  There might be some people out there who would gladly jump at the opportunity to agree with me on that assessment.

However, the odd one first.  I seem to do better on the bug I keep my eyes closed while sending.  This allows me to send without any visual distractions and allows me to concentrate more on the sound and rhythm.  OK, maybe not so crazy after all, after thinking about it for a few minutes. 

Secondly, I do much better when I place the bug at a 45 degree angle in relation to how I face the shack bench while sitting.  I found that if I point the base of the bug between the 10:00 and 11:00 positions, that I have better control than if I place the bug straight on (12:00 position) or straight across (9:00 position).

My biggest hurdle, even after practicing on and off these many months, is getting it into my thick skull that there are not going to be any automatic "dahs" made via the bug.  Sometimes old habit guides me, and that first "dah" ends up being REALLY long!  Then it's a Homer "Doh" moment and I swing back into rhythm again.

It's a lot of work; but I think it will be worth it in the end.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!