POWr Countdown Timer

Monday, February 28, 2011

Getting old is a bummer

Not that 53 is that old.  But again, I embarrassed myself and I prefer to blame it on the onset of old age rather that my own silliness and stupidity.

I went to the Ham Radio Deluxe website the other day and was looking at the various versions of Ham Radio Deluxe 5.0.  I had version 2837 installed.  Looking quite hastily, I saw February 24th and downloaded the software thinking it was version 2949.

It was actually version 2494 and the date was February 24th - but the year was 2010.



Then to make matters worse, I went on the Yahoo Groups HRD message board and asked why I lost the ability to configure the names of the Custom Fields.  Hello!!!!  Perhaps it's because you're using a software version that's over a year old?  Talk about feeling mortified.  I feel like I should send my A-1 Operators Club certificate back to the League!

There are days when perhaps it's better to not get out of bed.

On the bright side, I did manage to work Drew K9CW as K6JSS/9 in Illinois tonight. Drew was 589 into NJ and I got a 579 back on the G5RV.  That's the best RST I've gotten using the G5 in quite a while.  Pretty good for a guy who can't seem to walk and chew gum at the same time (that would be me).

As far as the replacement antenna goes, I located my window line and wire for the legs, as well as the 4:1 balun while I was looking for the Vibroplex weights.  All I need is the Ladder-Grabber and some free time on an upcoming weekend (and some nice weather wouldn't hurt, either).

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

A needle in a haystack!

Arggghhh!

Rich, WB9LPU sent me one of his "BugNappers", which arrived in the mail today.  Up until this point, I have been using a lever extension device, which required me to take the weights off the pendulum.  It was effective and did the job; but was not smoothly adjustable.

Of course, now that I need one, I can't find them!  I've searched the shack high and low, every nook and cranny and they are nowhere to be found. I will order a medium weight from Vibroplex and I'm pretty positive that when it arrives - the ones I already have will come out of hiding.  If I still have them.  I gave someone one of my extra bugs about a year or two ago; and I am trying to remember if I put my extra weights on that one, for storage, since I wasn't using them.  They may be gone for good.

Age 53 and I am suffering from CRS Syndrome - Can't Remember Stuff.

Anyway, Rich, if you are reading this, I have posted a check in the mail.  I'm sure you'll get it before my weights arrive.  Gosh, I can't wait to try this out!

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

To each his own.

This past weekend, my XYL Marianne and I (along with Cara and Joey) went shopping for a new vehicle.  After almost 12 years and a ton of miles, the Ford Explorer grew tired and expensive to maintain.  We still need a 4WD vehicle, as there are times Marianne (who is a nurse) needs to get to the hospital while enduring hostile driving conditions.  Back in the mid 90s, I owned a Jeep Wrangler.  In my book, it was the best vehicle I've ever owned.  So we decided upon the Jeep Patriot.  It's the most "economical" of the Jeeps while still offering 4WD on demand; and offering the space a family of four requires.

So what's this have to do with Amateur Radio?  Both followings, both Amateur Radio and Jeep, have their snobs.   I encountered this quite a bit back in the 90s and got reacquainted with it today.   Back then, and probably still today, Jeep enthusiasts had their own e-mail reflectors.  But looking at some Jeep videos on YouTube, I see comments like, "The last REAL Jeep was made back in the 90s.  It stopped when they introduced the YJ", or "They should stop producing the Jeep Compass.  If it can't handle the Rubicon off-road course, it's not a REAL Jeep".  I saw these comments on YouTube; and even though they didn't apply to me, I got annoyed, nonetheless.

Sound familiar?

"It's not REAL radio unless it has tubes!"  "It's not a real radio if it's hooked up to a computer".  "It's not real radio because ........"  Blah, blah, blah ....... on and on and on and on.

It seems there's never a shortage of folks who are more than ready to rain on someone else's parade.  I think that in instances like this (and I am sure there are tons of other followings where this type of snobbery occurs) that it's best to enjoy what you like; and mind your own business when it comes to other folks likes or dislikes.  When you go out of your way to denigrate someone's like for something, you just come off looking and sounding like a jerk.

To each his own.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

40 Meters is long again!

The 40 Meter QRP-L Foxhunt has been interesting this season, to say the least.  The Hunts were set up so many years ago as an aid towards learning band conditions and propagation.  This fall/winter the band has been going loooonnnngggg way early.

Tonight I could barely hear Al K0FRP in Colorado.  Around 02:40 UTC he finally went from about 229 to pfffttt!  Dave N0IT in Missouri has not been heard at all.  Half the country away and he's too darned close!  But I was able to hear F3NB quite clearly. Go figure!

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Threat to the 440 MHz band

Subject: ARRL Asks Members to Write in Opposition to HR 607

Greetings Members:

Please read information at the following link regarding HR607:

http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-asks-members-to-write-in-opposition-to-hr-607

"ARRL is asking its members to contact their US representatives in
opposition to the sections of HR 607 that could affect the Amateur
Radio Service allocation at 420-440 MHz. HR 607 is a direct threat is a
direct threat to our limited spectrum and the ARRL encourages all
amateurs to appropriately voice their opposition to this bill."

A Sample Letter for addressing this matter is at:
http://www.arrl.org/sample-letters

Letters MUST go to the ARRL representative in Washington (Chwat and
Co), NOT directly to your local Representative in Congress. Due to how
postal mail is now physically processed to Congress, post 9/11, delays
in timely deliver, sometimes of months or more, can be incurred. The
ARRL representative will hand deliver letters on this matter to the
appropriate locations/people  Full Contact info for Chwat and Co is at:
http://www.arrl.org/contacting-chwat-and-co

Information is also available at: http://www.hudson.arrl.org

73,
Joyce KA2ANF

ka2anf@arrl.org

--------------------------------------------------------------------
ARRL Hudson Division
Director: Joyce A Birmingham, KA2ANF
ka2anf@arrl.org
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Beginning the process

I just placed an order for an Emtech-Ladder Grabber:


This will be the center point for the new doublet antenna.  I could have used a dogbone insulator as a center piece; but this Ladder-Grabber is nice with the hole for a piece of rope and all ......

I haven't decided as to whether or not I will do two 44 foot legs; or perhaps just random length legs as long as I can stretch them to each end.  The leg to the house could be about 64 feet long and the leg to the other side of the backyard could be approximately 50 feet long.  That would give an OCF effect and I'm not sure I want that. The advantage of doing the random length legs is that if I don't like the result, I could always cut them back to 44 foot lengths and then have the classic 88' EDZ.

I will run window line down about 30 feet or so to the ground where I will terminate to a 4:1 current balun.  I will then run coax to the house.  I would run the ladder line all the way to the house; but I have no easy way of keeping it elevated off the ground from the tree to the house and still remain somewhat inconspicuous.  Marianne doesn't mind my antennas as long as they are not "ugly".  The G5RV as it is now is very inconspicuous and if you didn't know it was there, you'd probably miss it.

For wire, I will use some either 14 or 16 gauge stuff that the son of an SK gave me when he was clearing out his father's stuff.  It regular old stranded wire from a hardware store (insulated) - nothing fancy like the stuff you'd get from The Wireman.  The other goal is to economize as much as possible.  Except for the Ladder-Grabber, the only other purchase will be new coax.

This weekend will be busy with a cheer competition for Cara on Sunday and some car shopping on Saturday.  If we don't get any blizzard or Arctic type deep freeze weather, I will try to get this done the following weekend.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Totally outclassed

I have had the honor and privilege to work Michael Rainey AA1TJ on a couple of occasions.  Mike homebrews and operates the neatest designs and rigs.  This evening I worked him on his newest 250 mW special, which is detailed in his blog.  I have added his blog to the blogroll on the right.

I have added it, not really expecting to be able to easily understand most of it; because Michael is in a league to which I am not even close.  But I would hope that there are a lot of readers of this blog who are in his league that would not only easily understand but enjoy his writing.

Mike was 339 into New Jersey, for the most part.  He was even louder when the QSB was at minimum.  I received a 229 report. I was using the K2 and the HF9V.

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

It's definitely nice to know that folks are reading!

This appeared on the North Georgia QRP e-mail reflector today, it concerns my post from the other night, "Couple O' Things".  This was a concern that Julian G4ILO also mentioned in the comments section of that post:

--- On Tue, 2/22/11, Chris Fowler wrote:

Subject: Re: [nfarl] Re: W4QO and WB4MAK featured in W2LJ's blog
To: nfarl@yahoogroups.com
Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 12:45 PM

 On Tue, 2011-02-22 at 09:46 -0500, Philip L. Graitcer wrote:

 Is it a bona fide QSO when reception and one side of the exchange is over internet?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To which, Jim W4QO (who I mentioned in the post), responded:

If any of you were at HamJam2010, then this is the gray area that Ward SIlver was discussing. It will only get "worse" with time in terms of gray areas.  Award committees will have to examine these kinds of situations and make a ruling.  Awards are one thing; contests are another.


There have always been a lot of gray areas.  Is it ok to drive over near the AL state line in your mobile so you can work a mobile on the other side of the line on 17M and get a W.A.S. 17M?  Tough to work them or S.C. from Roswell on that band.  This does meet the rule that all contacts must be made from a 50 miles apart.


Many of us feel that providing technology that muddies the water is a good thing (otherwise, we all go back to spark gap).  Now what counts and does not count is up to the guys with the green eye shades but we should keep pushing technology to see how far it can go.


A couple things here:


1. In the QRP world, there seems to be a thought that what you use to qualify is up to you.  You hang the award on YOUR wall!  Hence, no QSLs are required for QRP ARCI awards, simply a review of your log with two General Class hams or higher.  I hate to be so morbid but your kids will throw all that in the trash when you die anyway!


2. It is true that most consider Echolink through a repeater in Germany, for example, not valid for an award, but a remote receiver is not quite in the same class.  You still have to hear the guy, if it's CW, you still have to copy the guy.  I once found a station on Mediera Island using the Dutch web receivers.  He was very strong.  I then went to that frequency at home and he was very week but I worked him using my receiver/transmitter.  I felt that event was fine, not unlike someone spotting him on a dx cluster.  Some may disagree.


My conclusion is that for something like K6JSS/2, it's fine and I'd use the contact to get that special WAS certificate at the end of the year.  But I would not use that card for ARRL W.A.S. to avoid any raised eyebrows at the League.    I'd also TRY to work them again without the WEB RX.  I sure wish there had been a WEB RX in AZ last week.  Whew!  That's one man's view.... YMMV and are we still HTMF?

W4QO Jim Stafford
www.w4qo.com
QRP - When you care enough to send the very least!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim made excellent and common sense points - and here's my line of reasoning (from someone who's actually been accused of being too much of a "purist" and an OF, by the way).  I don't think that using a InterWeb based receiver is that big of a deal in this case:

A) Tom K6JSS/7 didn't make any transmissions using the Internet.  He used his transceiver.

B) W2LJ didn't make any transmissions using the Internet. He used his transceiver as a transmitter.    And besides, if Tom couldn't hear my transmissions, it wouldn't have mattered what kind of receiver I was using .... period! This wasn't a case of using Echolink or VoiP, it was more of a case like using a remote receiver, which a lot of  Hams do.  I can't say for 100% certainty; but if my neighbor hadn't turned on his plasma TV or whatever noisemaker that he has, I probably could and would have done this QSO in the most "traditional" way.

Like Jim stated, for WAS or DXCC credit, my conscience probably wouldn't allow me to use this QSO.  But we're talking a fun special event here and I already know that I will probably not be able to get all 50, anyway. The key word being FUN, of course! 

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Make that two!

Thanks to reading John K3WWP's daily diary, I came to realize it was two new DXCC entities worked this weekend by yours truly.  I had forgotten that Curacao is now its own entity, so I had to add that one to the tally.  That makes my QRP DXCC now at 109, and that puts me over 140 in regular DXCC.  Still a long way to go before I even start coming close to the neighborhood of DXCC totals of several Ham friends that I admire.

I worked K6JSS/2 last night on 80 Meters.  Working them on the first night of operation - that's the fastest I've ever done that. And I am still very glad that the string is still unbroken.  Seems there was a little confusion as two K6JSS/2 stations were on 80 Meters at the same time last night.  I was able to work the only one I was able to hear.

Last night's Run for the Bacon was a lot of fun.  40 Meters have very little background noise (as compared to the other night when I worked K6JSS/7 and it was horrific!).  I worked about a dozen stations in all and even managed to work a DX piggie for once!  Bob N4BP operated from the Bahamas as C6AKQ, his DX contest call sign.  As usual, Bob was booming into NJ.  In fact, it's a rare day when Bob does not boom into NJ, whether he's in Florida or the Bahamas.  If I hear Bob on the bands, and he's less than 579 or so, then I know something is afoot with regards to solar weather.

As a treat, today is a day off from work for the President's Day holiday.  I have to drop Cara off at cheer practice in about an hour.  The first competition of the season is next Sunday.  Luckily this one is being held right in our own school.  In between chauffeuring chores, I will try to get on the air. I see the Flux is 105 and the Sun Spot number is 103.  Maybe I'll hear something interesting.

Also spending some time on the InterWeb doing some more research on possible wire antenna candidates.  I am spending a lot of time on the W4RNL site.  Also spending time looking at new vehicles.  Yes, after eleven years, the Explorer seems to be spending more time in the shop lately.  Instead of repair, repair, repair - both Marianne and I think it might be time to look for something new (or at least different, if not "new").  The prospect of car loan payments is not exciting, though.

The tease of Spring that we got last week is now just a fond memory.  Those killer winds that we had over the weekend ushered in a cold front which brought snow this morning.  Not much, just enough to cover the grass.  Not even enough to shovel.  I am sick and tired of looking at it, though!

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Added a new one

I just realized that I added a new DXCC Entity to the "worked as QRP" list yesterday, when I contacted VP2MMM in Montserrat on 10 Meters yesterday.

10 Meters was not as sizzling today as it was yesterday.  15 Meters was still hopping this afternoon, as was 20 Meters.  I see the Solar Flux Index is a bit down - closer to 100 than 120.  With less that three hours left in the contest, this is a good time for newer QRPers to jump into the fray of a DX contest.  The big guns who are still in the thick of things have reached the point where they've worked a lot of stations; but are still hungry for points.  They are inclined to listen for weaker QRP signals that they might be hearing.

I was pleased to see on Facebook that George N2JNZ's new FlexRadio station is working quite well for him.  On 40 Meters alone, he's had more than 108 QSOs with 50 countries worked.  He said that the new release of software has made CW a lot better than it was; and that he has been having a good time with his bug.

My own involvement was very little.  I really was only poking around a bit to take advantage of the good conditions on 15 and 10 Meters; as well as to see if I could scare up a new country or two.  Working Montserrat completed that goal.  As always ...... want to make sure the antennas work, too!  All contacts except for one were made with the Butternut HF9V.  That vertical has been a very solid performer for me for this last decade.  I sure am glad it's out there.  This weekend, we've had some pretty ferocious winds, too.  Loud enough to make me cringe a bit as I was laying in bed last night as I was drifting off to sleep.  The HF9V takes the winds here in stride.  A little swaying, nothing even really noticeable.  And that's nice.  At one time, I owned another brand of vertical and I used to have agita and nightmares when the wind would start to blow.  Ice storms were even worse!

Tonight is the Flying Pigs monthly QRP sprint, The Run for the Bacon.  I would expect participation to be down as probably everyone is a bit pooped from the DX contest.  In an open e-mail to the QRP and CW e-mail reflectors, I invited K6JSS/2 to join in on the fun as "the Key" is passed from Arizona to New York state tonight at 00:00 UTC.

One last thing.  I was in "the library" looking at the newest issue of QST, when my eye settled on an advertisement for the Icom IC-R75 receiver.  Here's the text that made me pause for thought, as my fledgling footsteps into this hobby were as an SWL:

"Listening to shortwave over the air is part science, part art.  There's something magical about tuning a knob on a box and opening an earful of life in another part of the world.  No Ethernet cables.  No server shut-downs. No broken links.  Just hundreds to thousands of miles of air between the station and you, with your IC-R75".

Can you imagine if this ad had somehow magically appeared in an issue of QST of the 50s or 60's perhaps? "Ether what?"  "What's a server?"  "What's a link and how do you even break one?"  Yet these are things that we have now come to accept as part of every day life and get taken for granted.

It's nice to see that Icom (or perhaps just their ad agency) still recognizes that radio, in and of itself,  is still "magical".

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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Couple o' things

Last night, I saw on QRPSPOTS that Tom AC7A was calling CQ as K6JSS/7 on 7.107 MHz and wasn't getting many takers.  So even though it was getting kind of late here in NJ, I decided to go on down to the basement and give it a shot.  40 Meters has been long at nights; and I figured I'd at least give it a go.

Much to my horror, I turned on the K2 only to find that my neighborhood killer QRN had made a comeback for the evening.  I was faced with about 10 over 9 dB buzz saw noise.  40 Meters has been so good for me lately; and now this? And time is running out as K6JSS/7 - Arizona is only good until Sunday evening. What to do .... what to do?

I decided to try something radically different, thanks to an idea that Jim W4QO hinted at on QRPSPOTS a couple of weeks ago when GA was in the batter's box.  I ran upstairs for the netbook; as it runs so much faster than my shack laptop, which is ancient by comparison.  I fired up the browser and headed on over to WebDSR by WB4MAK site.  I turned the AF Gain on the K2 all the way down and turned up the volume on the netbook.  "Dialing in" 7.107 MHZ , I gave Tom a call using the K2 as a transmitter and not a transceiver ...... "K6JSS/7 de W2LJ" and listened.  Sure enough, after a few calls, I heard Tom coming back to me.  The QSO was difficult as we were both down in the mud. Tom earned a 449 from me; and I, a 229 from him.  But it got the job done and K6JSS/7 is in the log and the string of states is not broken yet!  Talk about your SDR radios, eh?

Secondly, I went out with Joey this afternoon,  as planned and measure the distance from the maple tree to the house where I anchor wire antennas.  Only 65 feet - not the 85 feet needed for a 80 Meter sized Windom.  It looks like the 88 foot extended Double Zepp will be the new wire antenna this spring.  With 44 feet of wire for each leg, I will be able to fit it in the backyard easily.  It will be a horizontal "L"; but it will fit.  I have the wire, I have the window line.  I want to order one of those Emtech Ladder Grabbers and I will need to come up with a balun (which I will probably make).  Since this will be a "new" antenna, I want to put virgin coax on it, so I will need to order some of that.

I want to get this done as soon as possible.  I am hoping that we have seen the last of the major snow for this winter (which I probably just jinxed) and that I can get this done within a few weeks.  I think it will be way easier to get the G5RV down and the new antenna up while the leaves are still off the branches.  That's my hope anyway.  This will also be my first really good practical chance to use the antenna line launcher that I homebrewed at the end of summer last year.

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

The bands are jumping !

It is sooooo nice to see both 10 and 15 Meters jumping today for the ARRL DX Contest.  It seems like such a long time since I have made a bunch o' contacts on 10 Meters in one day.  The signals are nice and strong and the Big Gun DXers seem to be not having too much trouble pulling out my 5 Watt signal.  Thanks for your good ears and big antennas, guys!

It's a shame that after tomorrow that those bands will go back to being a habitat for tumbleweeds.  Hopefully the sun will start cooking the ionosphere to the point where this becomes normal for a while. 

We can hope, can't we?

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Worthless ?????

An interesting discussion is evolving on QRP-L.  Hopefully it won't devolve and become a  QRP-L embarrassment.  Anyway, it all began a few days ago when a fellow QRPer happily announced that he had worked PJ6/K4UEE,  his 100th DXCC entity at QRP power levels.  QRPers, being who and what they are, immediately started offering their congratulations, but also encouraged this fellow Ham to apply for "the wallpaper".

In this case, "the wallpaper" would be the QRP DXCC certificate, which is pictured above.  Things got a bit sticky when one Ham opined that it is a "useless award".  And even though I have the award and am VERY proud to have it, I can understand his point (which he is entitled to).  QRP DXCC does not require the applicant to mail in his QSL cards; or LOTW credits as the regular award does.  All you are required to do is send in a list of the 100 DXCC entities that you worked, providing call sign, date and band information. Therefore, in the opinion of this Ham, the QRP DXCC is useless because it lacks credibility. In his opinion, this is a simple case of, "I earned it 'cuz I said I did what I said I did,"

If this were a court case or a matter of law, I would agree wholeheartedly.  But this is not that, this is something totally different.  This boils down to being a matter of honor and faith, as it were.  The same Ham who proclaimed the QRP DXCC certificate "useless", also claimed in his post that he has worked over 120 DXCC entities via QRP and that he has the cards to prove it.  I never met the man face to face; and probably never will, yet I believe him.  I don't need to see his cards.  If I cannot take him at his word, then what's the point?  Furthermore, what's the point of just dreaming up 100 DX QRP contacts, taking the time to fabricate the details, put them down on paper and then send in $10 for the certificate?  It just doesn't make sense that anyone would do something like that; but I guess someone could.  And that would be very sad, indeed, if they needed to live a lie like that.

He went on to make the point that perhaps instead of offering a separate QRP DXCC award that the League (oops, sorry ..... the ARRL - they don't want to be called "The League" anymore) should just offer a CW endorsement on the regular DXCC award.  I see the point in this and would normally agree.  However, when I re-did WAS for the second time - all 50 via QRP and CW, all I got for my efforts and $10 were the words "QRP" and "CW" in rather small 12 point type, in an innocuous position towards the bottom right hand corner of the award.  Hardly what I would call a significant recognition of the added difficulty.

So here we have several issues coming into play in one topic:

1) What is credibility?  Does "honor" and "my word" count anymore; or have we become so jaded that we must always have the "cold hard proof".

2) In the end, do we really even need the certificates?  When it comes right down to it, isn't "I earned it 'cuz I said I did what I said I did" enough?

Maybe it's just human nature to want tangible recognition for a rather difficult achievement.  Maybe that's what drives us to strive to reach beyond the mundane, everyday things.

You have to be a Ham to dissect things like this!

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not a great night

"Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger - sometimes you're the ball".

"Sometimes you're the windshield - sometimes you're the bug".

"Sometimes you eat the bear - sometimes the bear eats you".

It appears that I was on the short end of the stick tonight.  I was trying to work Don NK6A in CA on the 40 Meter QRP-L Fox Hunt.  Charles W2SH, who lives eight miles away from me was successful - good for him!  For me, Don was at best a 229.  Very weak and lots of QRM to boot.  What a difference eight miles and some extra added elevation (plus the fact that Charles is a much higher skilled op than me) can make!

So I thought I'd flick on over to QRPSPOTS and at least see where K6JSS/7 in Arizona was operating. 10.106 - 10.107 MHZ and I could not hear a thing!  If  Tom AC7A was on the air; I sure wasn't able to hear him.  I hope this weekend is successful.  I have no illusions that I will work all 50 K6JSS stations; but I don't want to go down so early in the count!  Tom mentioned that due to the ARRL DX Contest this weekend that K6JSS/7 might stay mainly on the WARC bands.  Maybe I'll have better luck on 17 Meters this coming Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

On the logging front ..... I have left AC Log behind and an now using Ham Radio Deluxe exclusively.  I have not mastered it by any stretch of the imagination, but have figured out most of the ins and outs of the program.  I don't use the rig control features (yet), or hardly any of the bells and whistles, but I like how the program looks and works. And I also like that I can grow into this program and who knows, maybe a year or two down the road, I just might use the features I am not using presently.  Now, is that a ringing endorsement, or what?

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

Beauty and the Beast

It is often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". And I suppose that is very, very true. I took a look at this on e-bay and my immediate reaction was, ""Ewwwwwwwww" !!!


The picture is tiny and really doesn't do it justice (or perhaps it does); but in my humble opinion, this has got to be one of the homliest straight keys that I have ever seen!  That knob is just ...... just ...... I don't know what! The key is being listed at $9.00 and for $8.00 more you can have it shipped from Odessa, Ukraine to your front door.

There are four available so hurry up boys, get 'em while they're hot!  I doubt that Mr. Begali or the folks over at Junker, Hi-Mound or GHD are losing too much sleep over this one.

All kidding aside (and I really am just kidding), from the looks of it, the construction looks to be mostly plastic.  I doubt it weighs very much and it would have to be clamped down in some matter of fashion in order for it to work well.  Hey, for all I know, it might have the greatest mechanical action since Rolex - but it sure isn't what you'd call "eye candy".  Although, at that price, you might consider it "wallet candy".

This coming weekend is the ARRL DX Contest.  Currently, as I type this, the SFI is at 111 and there are about 60 freckles Ol' Sol's surface.  I hope the promising conditions last into the weekend with no further disruptive CMEs or solar flares.   I certainly would like to get a few DX QSOs into the log with 5 Watts.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

K6JSS/2

The New Jersey edition of K6JSS/2 will occur the week of August 15th through the 21st.  This will hopefully coincide with the NJ QSO Party which occurs around then.  I have volunteered to serve as the Point of Contact for New Jersey.

The state hosts a most excellent QRP club, the NJQRP, and many of its members are QRPers who actually live in the state.  I am hoping for a huge turnout of NJ QRPers and that we will do our state proud, representing it as well as all the other states have done so far.

NJ QRPers - keep that week open and plan to be on the air a lot!  Let me know if you will be available to operate.  I will be posting a ton about this between now and then, with most of it occurring as we get closer to August.  As always, I can be reached at W2LJ@arrl.net.

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patience pays off

for an unexpected double pelt in the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt.

Early on, I did not hear the Fox in the lower part of the Fox band; but I was able to hear the Hounds baying.  My strategy was to go up and see if I could hear the "High Fox" and I did hear John K4BAI picking off Hounds and handing out pelts at a rapid clip.  After much calling, John's fabulous ears picked me out.  I guess it was too close for him to hear; but 4RN (the 4th Region traffic net) was in full swing and covered him up pretty well. Luckily, due mainly to the K2's excellent filtering, I was able to hear him and he was able to hear me - exchange completed and pelt #1 was in the bag.

The other Fox was Dave N0IT in Missouri.  As I didn't hear him at all early on, I wasn't expecting much.  However, his furry little head popped out of the QSB and I was able to snag him on my second or third call.  Pelt #2 in the bag!

Again, both Foxes were heard louder on, and were worked with the Butternut HF9V.  I spent a little time looking up antenna articles on the Web and will soon decide between a Windom or the 88' EDZ as my replacement wire antenna.  The longer leg of the Windom would be about 85 feet.  I just might have enough room between the maple tree and the house to accommodate that.  This weekend, I'll have to have my son Joey accompany me to the backyard with the tape measure to do some figuring.  Planning a new antenna is always fun!

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breaking the pileup!

Watch as John K7HV breaks the pileup and works S9DX, Sao Tome & Principe with 2 Watts from a PFR-3.



Next time you meet a "QRP Naysayer" who says it can't be done - show him this!

Way to go, John, nice job!

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

Good afternoon on the radio

I was able to put a decent amount of time on the radio today, interspersed among other chores and duties.  So far, I have been keeping my New Year resolution for getting on the air more.  I am way ahead of last year's pitiful QSO tally.

15 Meters was open nicely today and I had the pleasure of working W5KCM, Randy down near Ft. Worth, TX.  We had a small ragchew and Dick was using his Yaesu at the 5 Watt level and had a very nice 579 signal into NJ.  Later on in the afternoon, I heard Paraguay absolutely booming into NJ; but before I could get a QSO in, the band dropped out - just like that!

I snagged FM5LD on Martinique on 20 Meters.  I have worked Philippe several times before and he always puts a good signal into NJ.  For the rest of the afternoon, I just band hopped, listening here and there; and calling CQ here and there, having QSOs here and there.  I finished up by working Mert W0UFO as 6JSS/0 on 20 Meters before coming upstairs to get dinner going.

A cool tool for seeing where your signals are being heard is the Reverse Beacon Network.  This is a network of receiving stations that have CW Skimmer implanted and are constantly skimming the HF bands, worldwide.  You can go to the site, plug your own call sign into the query tool and find out just where you are being heard.

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What a difference about 10 days makes!

Tonight, I had a nice QSO on 30 Meters with Mike KØMDS in Kansas.  You might recall from a blog entry that I made close to two weeks ago that it was Mike who was my contact as K6JSS/0 from Kansas.  That QSO was tough.   This one was a lot easier and was quite enjoyable.  Mike answered my CQ and we went back and forth for a couple rounds before the band changed and propagation disappeared.

I was hanging out on 30 Meters tonight as there's a RTTY contest and 40 Meters is quite bad.  There are RTTY signals down almost to 7.030 MHz, which was pretty unthinkable back in the mid 90s.  Back then, the digital enthusiasts tried to stray no lower than 7.060 or perhaps 7.050 MHz at the lowest.  That "gentleman's agreement" seems to have gone out the window or perhaps down the toilet, might be a better expression.

The HF9V served me well again tonight.  Mike was a 449 and he gave me a 549.  We both compared notes about the amount of snow on the ground and we both agreed wholeheartedly that we can't wait until spring.  I am anxiously planning the take down of the G5RV and replacing it with an 88' EDZ, as mentioned before.  I will have to place an order for one of those ladder line grabber devices so that I can homebrew the antenna when time comes.  I have a 4:1 current balun kit down in the basement that I better get started on, too.  I will probably need it.

K6JSS/Ø will leave Minnesota tomorrow night and will become K6JSS/7 in Arizona.  The Arizona effort will be headed up by Tom AC7A, who is a fine QRPer and is also very well known in Fox Hunting circles.  In fact, Tom mentioned after the Thursday night hunt, that he was using his newly acquired Ten Tec Eagle.  That is one fine looking rig!  I am hoping that the receiver will facilitate Tom's being able pull my weak signal out of the aether some time next week.  The way 40 Meters has been going so long lately, that may end up being the band of choice.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Today is Thomas Edison's 164th birthday, as commemorated by Google:


I am very fortunate to live only a few miles away from the site where Edison perfected the electric light in Menlo Park.  Menlo Park is not a town unto itself.  At the time, it was just a part of a larger town which was known as Raritan, NJ - named after the largest river in our area.  Raritan was renamed "Edison" after the inventor's death and now Menlo Park is just a neighborhood of Edison, NJ.

There is a memorial tower and a tiny museum there. The actual buildings which made up TAE's Menlo Park laboratory were moved down to Florida after his death by his good friend Henry Ford.  The National Park Service maintains the Edison Laboratories in West Orange, NJ as a National Historical Landmark.  I have been there a few times and it's a very interesting place to visit. It was there that Edison perfected the phonograph and did his early pioneering work in movie making.  His movable stage is located there and you can see it still today.  The stage was on a circular or oval track which allowed it to be moved so that it was always in the direct sun for best lighting.  Some of Edison's original batch of electric lamps still burn there.  They have been refilled with inert gas and are run on DC so as to make them last.



The memorial tower at Menlo Park is currently closed to the public as it has fallen into disrepair.  The good news is that private funds have been raised and a refurbishment project is underway.  It should be reopened in a few years for public viewing and the tiny museum is also going to be renovated and made substantially larger.

Back in the mid 90's the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club held a special event station right on the tower grounds.  It was super cool to visit the museum when it was open.  There was a visitor guest book there and it was fantastic to see the signatures and addresses of all the folks from foreign countries who came to see the spot where the electric lamp was perfected.  Almost as cool as looking through QSL cards!

For as many inventions and patents as Thomas Alva Edison is famous for, we don't normally think of him as associated with Amateur Radio.  But in a way, he indirectly was ......

"Thomas Edison in 1883 noticed that electrical current flowing through a light bulb's filament could make the wire so hot that electrons boiled off, sailing through the vacuum inside the light bulb to a metal plate that had positive charge. Because Edison didn't see any way the phenomenon would help him perfect the light bulb, all he did was to make a notation of the effect, which he named as the Edison Effect. The Edison effect remained on the shelf until 1904, when a former employee; inventor John Flemming went to work for Marconi Radio Company! John Flemming first assignment was to find a better way to receive radio signals. Flemming began experimenting with the Edison effect. He discovered that radio waves passing through an airless tube created a varying direct current, which could be used with headphones to reproduced the sound carried by the waves."  From that point, the vacuum tube was developed, which was the building block of all radios until the invention of the transistor (also developed in New Jersey, by the way).

On a personal Ham Radio note - more progress has been made with Ham Radio Deluxe.  I finally figured out how to rename the Custom Fields; and it was just as easy as everyone stated.  The only thing is that I didn't realize that you had to have the very latest version to be able to do that!  I had been using version 2494.  Tonight, I downloaded and installed version 2837 and that little problem was taken care of.

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thanks, guys!

Thanks, guys, for all the suggestions regarding Ham Radio Deluxe. You are the best!

I am using version 5, and for whatever reason the export option "ADIF+HRD" still wasn't moving over the data for "Custom Field 1".  So I took Andy K9CHP's suggestions and used them with a little twist.  Instead of using the backup function, I am just making a copy of the database file "HRD My Logbook" which is the .mdb file; and am copying that to Dropbox.  Then I simply copy that to the "HRD Logbook" file on each computer and all three agree!  And, the "Custom Field 1" data doesn't disappear.  This procedure of copying the main logbook database file and then just setting it in place using Windows Explorer isn't new to me. That's how I used to share data between computers back when I was using Log-EQF and then Win-EQF.  Back in those days, I used to keep the data on a 3.5 inch floppy.  We've come a long way in such a little time!

Since I am not that computer savvy, I had no idea that there was such a thing as Dropbox.  What a neat feature!  For those of you who are like me and don't know about it, let me explain.  You go to www.dropbox.com and you install the software on each of your computers and then you set up an account.  If you do not desire more than 2 GB worth of storage, it's free (that magic word, again!).  Then you place the files you want to share between your computers into the Dropbox folder.  When you go to any of your computers, and look in your Dropbox folder, that file will be there until you delete it or move it.  The same thing as using a USB memory stick; but without the hardware.  Really, really cool.

As far as the 40 Meter Foxhunt goes for tonight - I am afraid it's going to be a night de skunk.  Tom KV2X is way too close to me in NY state to be heard.  I'm not getting a read on Jim N0UR in Minnesota, either.  I am hearing stations from Cuba and France with NO problem whatsoever, though.  The band is way long tonight; and I doubt that I will be able to bag even one skin tonight, except perhaps for a skunk skin.

Looking forward to the weekend if I can get through one more day of work unscathed, with my hide intact.  Next weekend, guys, is the ARRL's International DX Contest - CW portion.  For those of you who are trying to finish up DXCC, this is a good opportunity.  A lot of points hungry DX stations will have their ears peeled - especially Sunday towards the latter phase of the contest.  This is primetime for QRP stations to be heard.  And that Monday following is the Presdent's Day holiday, so you get an extra day to rest up after a big weekend of playing radio.

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

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Anyone familiar with HRD?

I have been playing around with HRD and have a couple of questions.  Are any of you readers familiar with the program enough to try and take a stab at a few answers?

1) I'd like to use "Custom Field 1" in order to keep track of whatever QRP rig / antenna combo I happen to be using for each QSO.  Is there a way to rename the field so that when it displays in the main logbook, it shows as "Rig/Antenna" instead of "Custom Field 1"?

2) I keep my log on three different computers - the shack laptop, the netbook and the main family computer.  I made a few entries last night and dutifully recorded my rig/antenna combo as I talked about in Question 1.  I exported the ADIF file from the shack laptop as a ADIF+HRD file.  This should have recorded all the information in all the fields.  After importing said file into the netbook, I found that the "Rig/Antenna" info didn't carry over.  What's up with that?

I'm sure I must have done something incorrectly.  I am hoping I did something incorrectly.  If this is a quirk of the program, then I'll end up sticking with AC Log.  I'd like ALL my logbook info to be on each computer.

TIA for your help, if you have any to offer!

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

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Any wannabe bug ops out there?

So you always wanted to try a bug, but were scared off the speed?  Here's a new approach by Rich WB9LPU.



It looks like a great idea and I'll have to get one of these!  I currently use a tube that extends the pendulum to slow down my Vibroplex Original to a more comfortable sending speed for me.  This is much more elegant (as the video states).  I sure hope that Rich plans to offer these in the near future.  I'd PayPal for one of these in a heartbeat!

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

A quick two pelts

After coming home from a Knights of Columbus meeting, it occurred to me that it was 80 Meter Foxhunt night.  80 Meters has not been a quiet band for me this winter - lots of QRN and hash.  I decided to give it a go, anyway.

I got into it late at around 02:40 UTC, so the main rush had petered itself out.  First, I heard Andy K1RA making exchanges and sending "UP", so up I sent!  Within a few minutes at 02:42 UTC, he came back to me with a 559 report and we completed our exchange.

Next, on to find the other Fox - Drew K9CW.  He was even easier as he was a loud 579 into NJ.  One call and WHAM - in the bag!  That was completed at 02:45 UTC - two Foxes within three minutes.  I have not had such a quick hunt in maybe three or four years.  And with the way band conditions have been this winter, this is one of the few "2-fers" that I have had in a while, too.

Again, oddly enough, both Foxes were louder on the Butternut than the wire, so that is what I used to snare them both.  I really have to do something new wire-wise this spring!  And I also need to lay down more radials for the HF9V this year, also.  Ahhhhh ....... antenna work - it's never done!

As an aside, if you've never tried QRP, the Foxhunts are a great way to get started, if you are so inclined.  It's not a contest; but more like trying to break a DX pileup.  The rules are very simple and can be found here. There's still quite a few hunts before the season ends.  C'mon ..... it's fun!  You should give it a try - I'd be willing to bet a donut that you'll have a blast!  And in the process you'll learn a lot about your equipment and improve your operating skills at the same time.

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

Monday, February 07, 2011

Minnesota is in the books!

Thanks to the excellent ears of Scott N0AR, K6JSS/0 from Minnesota is in the books.  I had a heck of a time working him and got a 229, thanks to the efforts on his end.  I ended up using the Butternut HF9V, which I rarely use on 80 Meters, preferring to use the G5RV.

Scott's signal into NJ was much louder on the Butternut; so that is the route I took.  His signal was a good 559 with QSB.  This concerns me as the wire was always better on 80 Meters.  I think this confirms my suspicion that this antenna has seen much better days and needs to be replaced this spring.

I will probably replace it with the venerable 88' EDZ which seems to be one of W4RNL's all time favorite backyard antennas.  The footprint is smaller than the G5RV,  and I should be able to fit it in the backyard without having to zig-zag the wire.  I have plenty of window line and plenty of wire.  I'll have to build a balun to transition the window line to coax to feed to the shack. 

The other possibility is a Carolina Windom.  Using my maple tree as a center anchoring point, the run from the tree to the house is longer than from the tree to the mast across the yard.  I think that would also fit with no problem whatsoever and would make good use of the different lengths that are available to me.

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

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

I guess you could call me un-American; but I am not a big fan of football.  The game is on and I am typing this.  My father-in-law was a huge Steelers fan while he was alive; so if there's any allegiance, I guess it's that.  Every now and then I am hearing my wife shriek from the other room as she cheers on her dad's team. I, on the other hand, am a HUGE baseball fan.  For me, the Super Bowl means that it's only a few weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

I managed to get some more "on air" time today and worked a few stations on 40 and 20 Meters this afternoon.  I worked WA1SKQ, Rich in Cranston, RI as well as AB7JK, Kim in Largo, FL and finally KB0BWY, Bill in Ramsey, MN.  That last QSO bodes well as K6JSS/0 leaves Kansas and becomes K6JSS/0 from Minnesota this week.  Minnesota has always been a "pipeline state" for me - always very easy to work, so maybe K6JSS won't be as quite as big a struggle this week.

It was funny during the QSO with Bill, though.  Band conditions changes as we were QSOing and it was like someone pulled a window shade down on Bill.  He went from 569 to nil in a matter of seconds. Then the QSO was over.  I sent my 73 and my call to keep it legal; but I severely doubt that it made it to the other end.

I also downloaded and have been playing around with Ham Radio Deluxe version 5 this afternoon.  I thought it was going to be snail slow on the laptop in the shack, but so far it has been only tolerably slow. Considering that Dell was designed when Windows 2000 was in vogue, that's not bad at all. On the main computer and the new netbook, it is as slick as icy rain in January. 

So the sequence of computerized logging programs has been from Log-EQF to Win-EQF, to AC Log and onto Ham Radio Deluxe.  I am not sure if I will abandon AC Log and move over to HRD for good, but it's fun to play with in the meantime.  It is relatively easy to use even early on.  I suppose once I get used to it, it will be even easier to use.  It has a lot of nice features, looks nice and best of all, is free!  What true blue Ham wouldn't get excited about the "free" part?

I like having the DX Cluster window right beneath the log window.  Not that I use the DX Cluster to chase DX stations; but it's nice to see what other Hams are hearing and where they are hearing it.  It gives you a good idea as to how the bands are working at any given time. As a QRPer, I have found that if the DX has made it to the cluster, the chance of  being heard grow slimmer and slimmer as the post gets older and older.  A QRPer's best chances are when the DX first comes on the band, before they are spotted.  That's why we fans of low power have to be vigilant and good listeners.

The world map with the delineation of day/night is cool too.  That magical time of grayline propagation is easier to see with that display.  The first time I worked Australia as a Novice was via grayline propagation. I've been a big believer of that path ever since.

Having all these tools available on one screen is very nice.  Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch; and HRD has it's drawbacks, too.  Since it's a more complicated program, it's not as fast as AC Log. In particular, importing ADIF files takes quite a bit longer.  Also, there are more keystrokes involved; but after I get used to the program, this might be a small price to pay for all the added features.

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

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Fun afternoon on the radio

The weather this afternoon turned out to be as dismal as promised - maybe even more dismal than promised!  The kids and I went grocery shopping late this morning.  When we went into the store it was drizzling - when we got out of the store it was drizzling. When it was time to transfer the grocery bags from the car to the house it started raining in earnest and was just plain miserable.  It was a day where you could feel the cold and wet all the way, deep down into your bones.

The cruddy weather notwithstanding, I did manage to put some time in on the air this afternoon.  In honor of it being FYBO day, I decided to forgo the K2, and instead broke out the PFR-3A.


My "Summer Station" was on the air.  I was using my Bulldog clip paddles, and headphones along with a Booster-oo audio amplifier (which these old ears find most helpful).  I didn't use the AA0ZZ keyer, I just manually called "CQ FYBO" instead.  The power source was a 12V SLA battery which had been charged via a solar panel.  If I end up sending in my score, at least I can qualify for the "alternate power source" bonus.

In all, I made seven FYBO QSOs and had a couple of nice random ragchews in between.  The contact I envied the most was Bob N4BP who was giving out 82F (28C)  as his FYBO temperature part of the exchange.  It was 58F (14C) in my basement!  I know I was confusing people as one or two expected a NJ temperature in the 30s.  So when I was asked for the temperature a second time, I would send "58F INDOORS".

The stations I worked were N4BP, VA2SG, WQ0RP, WA2DAC, N8KBG, AE8M and WD8RIF.  Anyone that I heard with the PFR-3A, I was able to work.  It was nice using it again and "rediscovering" its ins and outs.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a dank, gray, miserably wet February winter afternoon.  Maybe next year it will be sunny and dry and I can operate from the back yard!

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

Friday, February 04, 2011

FYBO - Saturday 2/5/2011

Tomorrow is the annual FYBO contest, sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions, who in all probability, will not be freezing their buns off at all.

But the rest of us might!

The forecast for the immediate W2LJ area and environs is wet and cold.  A Winter Weather advisory has been issued, as a high of only 38F (3C)  is predicted with a wintry mix starting early tomorrow morning as snow around 1:00 AM, changing to sleet, freezing rain, then rain, then freezing rain again, and finally ending as snow sometime around 10:00 PM Saturday night.

The odds of W2LJ going outside to operate are VERY slight.  The backyard is a sheet of ice and I really don't care to risk much valued equipment or life and limb (got my priorities straight, right?) on the glazed over snow.  I don't know .... somehow envisioning my painstakingly built K1 or PFR3A covered with freezing rain, sleet and snow just doesn't send thrills running up and down my spine.  If it was going to be sunny and dry, I'd consider it,  but when you step on the snow and it sounds like glass breaking, you know it's not particularly Ham friendly outside.  So I'll probably just sit in the basement for a bit and will hand out points.  I'd be willing to be that my basement temperature will be colder than some outdoor temps in Arizona, California or Florida!

For the rules, you can go to the Arizona ScQRPions Website - here.

Who knows?  Maybe between now and then, I'll get a hankering for a bad case of pneumonia and you'll get an exchange from me something like:   559 NJ Larry 5W 28F

But then again, maybe not!

SERIOUSLY, though (all humor aside)........ as the rules state, this is supposed to be a fun contest and not an episode of the Discovery Channel's "Survivor Man".  Please use your noggin and common sense and avoid frostbite, hypothermia and other cold related injuries!

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

Thursday, February 03, 2011

So who is better off?

In the "Golden Age" of Ham Radio, things were harder.  The testing procedure was different.  In most cases, if you wanted to take an Amateur Radio test, you had to travel to an FCC Field Office to take the exam under the watchful eye of a hard core professional test giver. 

After you passed your test, you had no place like HRO or Amateur Electronic Supply where you could dial up an 800 number, whip out your credit card and have a new rig delivered to you in a matter of days.  You had to "roll your own" as it were; or save up your hard earned cash for whatever was available "du jour".  It was not uncommon to scavenge parts from discarded radios, cars and whatever to homebrew a rig that put out just a few Watts in order to communicate with the world.  Not that it couldn't be done; but it wasn't as "easy" or elegant as it is today.

On the other hand, today we have it made ..... right?  There are ample opportunities to take an Amateur Radio exam just about anytime and any place that you want.  We have computers to aid us in studying Morse Code and the exams themselves.  There are places on the Web where you can take practice exams as many times as you want, until your confidence level is at 1000000%.

Today we have rigs that will practically let you contest or operate almost without you having to be there.  The bells and whistles have developed to the point where Hams from years ago couldn't have even envisioned them.  The latest IcoYaesWood radio will almost walk your dog for you, if you ask it politely.

On the other hand ...... we have enough RFI pollution where sometimes it is impossible to find a quiet band on which to operate.  There are enough wireless gadgets, plasma TVs, thermostats, furnaces, CFLs, etc, that make so much hash that you just want to scream about the 40 over 9 QRN that is covering up that DXpedition that you so much wanted to put in the log. Today, there are enough HOAs, covenants and other difficulties in place that make even thinking about putting up an outdoor antenna a traumatic event.  Years ago, no one really gave you a second look when you ran a wire from your trees to your house.  Unless you screwed up their TV reception, no one cared what you did in your house, on your property.

So who has it better?  The Hams of old who had more "primitive" equipment; but had seemingly more freedom, quieter bands and plentifully populated bands to operate on?  Or the Hams of today, who have more opportunity, better equipment, better resources - but who have to suffer with more inherent QRN, and when the bands are quiet for a change - can call CQ for an hour because there's no one on?

This post isn't meant to stir up a hornet's nest or start a big debate - just to let you know about some things I've been thinking about on the ride to and home from work. So, did "they" have it better; or do "we" have it better?  When it comes right down to it, it's probably a wash.

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

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Looks like KS will be as tough as TX.

Mike K0MDS posted on QRPSPOTS that he was going to be on the air as K6JSS/0 this evening from 0100 unit 0200 UTC.  The first half hour was spent on 40 Meters and I heard NOTHING!  For the second half hour, Mike is calling CQ on 80 Meters at 3.561 MHz.  Here, I can just barely hear him - 339 at best!  I can hear him work quite a few stations quite easily.

Maybe it's just propagation, maybe it's the storm that's plaguing 3/4 of the country tonight. Maybe New Jersey is stuck in the middle of an RF hole ....... wait a minute!  Persistence pays off again as Mike's wonderful ears pulled me out of the muck!

How this QSO took place is a thing of amazement.  There are plenty of times that QRP signals are as loud as any QRO signal; but not this time.  This QSO was a testament to K0MDS and his fantastic skill.  Thanks, Mike for pulling a tiny 229 signal out of the aether!

By the way, tomorrow is Groundhog Day.  Unless Mr. Groundhog has an ice pick on him, I don't think he's coming out of that hole, much less see his shadow.  While the rest of the country seems to be getting snow out of this monster storm - we're getting ice.  Oh, it's going to be lovely trying to get into work tomorrow!

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