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Saturday, April 30, 2011

K6JSS/7

From looking at QRPSPOTS today, it looks like if I am going to have any shot at all of getting Montana in the log, then I will have to get up early tomorrow morning.  K6JSS/7 was on the air for what seems to be a goodly amount of time from about 6:30 to 9:30 AM local time.  The rest of the day, not so much.

I listened around 20:56 UTC on both 15 and 20 Meters, as posted.  I heard absolutely nothing on 15 Meters and only ESP signals on 20 Meters.  Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow morning on 40 Meters.

The bands were very busy with Florida QSO Party stations.  Other than that contest, I didn't seem to hear much.  15 and 17 Meters seemed pretty dead.  Not too much QRP activity on 20 Meters from what I was able to hear (or not hear).

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

Guess I won't have to get up extra early tomorrow.  Roy AB7CE who is K6JSS/7 this week just announced on QRPSPOTS that he was going to 30 Meters and I worked him!  A good 559 into NJ, this was the clearest and loudest that I had heard him all week.  Common wisdom made me think 20 Meters would have been the preferred band between MT and NJ.  Seems 30 Meters doesn't know much about common wisdom - and for that I am extremely grateful!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Great Club Meeting!

Today was one of those rough work days that you get every now and then.  When I left the building at 5:00PM, I felt like I had spent a week there today!  I knew there was a repeater club meeting scheduled for tonight, but I was not really too keen on attending.  I have missed the past couple meetings, though, and a little bit of guilt was kicking in.

I am so glad that I decided to go, however.  There was a presentation on the QSL card collection of Joe Painter W2BHM (SK) as given by Barry Cohen K2JV.  Joe was a Past President of the North Jersey DX Association and was a very avid DXer.  He's on the DXCC Honor Roll with over 370 confirmed.

Joe passed away in 2005, a couple of years after moving from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.  As Barry explained it, Joe left New Jersey after his wife passed to go live with family in Pennsylvania.  In the move, he gave up his radio station and his antennas.  In his depression over his wife's passing, he simply threw away his QSL card collection and other radio related items.  They just didn't mean anything to him anymore.  I can understand that, were I to lose my Marianne, the love of my life, I would probably be just as despondent.

However, Barry was a very good friend of Joe's and understood the value of what was discarded.  It may not mean anything to the average person, but those awards and certificates mean a lot to other Hams.  So Barry did some serious dumpster diving and saved what he could, including W2BHM's original DXCC certificate, his Honor Roll plaque and a boat load of QSL cards.  He felt that this was something worth preserving for Ham Radio posterity.

Wow!  What a collection!  Some of the cards that he was able to save predated WWII as Joe was first licensed in 1933.  It seemed like W2BHM had more QSL cards from countries that don't exist anymore than I have from countries that DO exist today!

Barry put together an excellent PowerPoint presentation and shared a lot of interesting stories and anecdotes about some of the Hams that W2BHM had worked over the years.  The highlight was when Barry related how he had actually contacted Ivan Pastre F3AT who was one of the Hams that Joe had worked back in the 50s. Ivan was the only person in the world to ever use a FQ3 prefix while he was on an overseas assignment for the French government.  That prefix has never been used again!  Barry recorded bits of a CW QSO that he had with Ivan on 20 Meters.  Ivan, who is now 91 still has an EXCELLENT fist and it was so neat to hear him pound the brass.  I hope my fist is that good, should I be fortunate to live to reach that age!

It was a fascinating evening and even though the meeting lasted a couple of hours, it seemed to have flown by in the blink of an eye.  I was so glad that I attended, it just made the stress of the entire day just melt away!

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh my gosh!

Sending Morse Code over the airwaves is a passion of mine.  I guess I have made that obvious enough throughout the posts of this blog.  As I type this, I am sitting back, tuning through the 40 Meter CW portion of the band (yes, I do know that CW is allowed everywhere - but you know what I mean) just content to listen for a change.

There are some beautiful fists out there; and there are also some horrid ones.  I think there are several reasons for both - good and bad.

1) A good CW op will knows what their sending speed is and seldom pushes it too far past the boundaries of the envelope.  Yes, you have to push to improve; but if you push too far, your sending will suffer.  Hey, if you're comfortable at 5 or 10 WPM, there's no shame in that.  And if you're comfortable at 40 WPM, bully for you!  But if you're comfortable at 18 WPM, for example, why try sending at 25 WPM?  You're going to make more mistakes than is good form and it's going to sound terrible.

2) Spacing, spacing, spacing.  This is maybe the MOST important thing to pay attention to when sending Morse.  Spacing is everything !!!!  Noonewantstolistnetomorsecodethatissentlikethis. Itwilldriveyoucrazy.
A    t         t   h   e       s   a   m    e       t   o   k   e  n,      t   h   i   s         c   a   n      d   r  i   v   e       y   o   u  
n    u    t   s,       t   o   o  !  (And I don't mean slow sending - I mean sending with exaggerated pauses for spacing).

When you get behind that key, please try to send in a nice easy, conversational rhythm.  That's what makes for the best  QSOs.

3) When you make a mistake - admit it!  A series of about 5 dits ..... or even a ?  and then starting over again with the word you messed up on is a lot better than just glossing over it.  Sometimes trying to figure out what's being sent, whether or not a mistake was made can leave you scratching your head.

Try to do your best, keeping it neat and not sloppy; and you will earn the reputation for having a fine fist.  Care about what you're doing and take pride in it - that's how the Old Timers did it in days of yore.  These practices will only enrich your CW experience.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Looks like Montana is going to be tough

It's Montana's turn as K6JSS/7 this week, and it look like this could possibly be a repeat of New Mexico.  I have heard K6JSS/7 only once this week, on 40 Meters.  They were 559 into New Jersey; but I wasn't making the return trip.

Last night, the station was on 20 Meters for a goodly amount, according to QRPSPOTS.  However, when I fired up the rig last night, 20 Meters had 10 over 9 QRN on it - wall to wall!  I couldn't hear them on any of the bands they appeared on last night.

Having done this since the first week of the year, I know that if I haven't made contact with a K6JSS station by Wednesday, the outlook isn't the most favorable.  Here's to hoping that I get lucky.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Four States Group releases new kit!



The Four States QRP Group announced the release of a new QRP transceiver on the QRP e-mail reflectors today.  Most notably (at least to me anyway), this kit will include a crystal for 7.122 MHz, which is a good move, utilizing that portion of the band!

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

The Four State QRP Group is pleased to offer a new kit for sale. It has been dubbed the "HamCan", and at only $30 it is an excellent value in a small transceiver. More information may be found on the order page here: http://www.wa0itp.com/hamcan.html

The NMØS HamCan transceiver is the latest offering in minimalist amateur radio from the Four State QRP Group! It is a crystal-controlled CW transceiver, delivering 1/2 to 1W transmit power, with enough sensitivity and selectivity to receive plenty of signals. It does all this with only TWO transistors!

It is a minimalist transceiver designed to be very simple and inexpensive, yet provide good performance. The low cost kit sacrifices nothing in the way of quality. It features a high quality printed circuit board, through hole parts, low parts count and fast and easy building. It is an excellent kit for first time builders, and was chosen as the Build Session kit for OzarkCon 2011. It has also been selected as one of the ARRL Midwest Convention's Buildathon kits. There are two, the other is Four States AAØZZ EZKeyer
http://www.wa0itp.com/aa0zzkeyer.html

Click here to order http://www.wa0itp.com/hamcan.html   Payment may be made by PayPal, Check, or Money Order. We hope to fill your order soon.

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

I placed my order - looks good!  Hey ..... $30 for a transceiver.  How can that be a bad thing?

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

QRPTTF - 2011

As expected, I was not able to put much of an effort into QRPTTF for 2011.  The reason was twofold:

1: The day was also Holy Saturday and there was just too much to do in preparation for Easter Sunday.

2: It rained and it rained and it rained and it rained until about 5:30 in the afternoon.

I did manage to get on as a Home station for a lil' bit and made 13 QSOs between 20 and 40 Meters, using the EDZ on 40 Meters and the HF9V on 20 Meters.  Sad to say, there was also some deliberate QRM on 40 Meters.  Despite sending "QRL?" several times and not receiving a reply, I could tell, because of the K2's excellent QSK, that there was someone deliberately holding the key down as I would send "CQ QRP".  Sometimes the offending station didn't have his timing down and he would continue for a second or two after I stopped sending.  Thinking that it might be a coincidence, I QSYed, only to have the QRMer follow me.  Then, when he decided to drop that tactic, every time I did have a QSO, it would be followed up with an extra "dit dit" that was very obviously sent by neither the station I had worked or myself.

There's so much spectrum that we have that's underused.  You would think that better use would be made of it other than silly, childish games.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter 2011

 
Wesolego Alleluja
 
He is risen - Alleluia!

Holy Saturday

Today is Holy Saturday, which brings back a lot of childhood memories. But one of the most vivid; as well as one of the fondest remains that of the Blessing of the Food; or the Święconka, as it was known to the Polish community.

My mom would place a small card table in a corner of the living room.  On it would be the Easter ham, kielbasa, Easter Eggs, red horeseradish, fresh babka (Polish bread that could have cheese and raisins in it) and all kinds of Easter food.  Also included were two sticks of butter where one was cut in half and joined with the other to form a Cross.  Inserted were five cloves to represent the 5 wounds of Jesus.  There was also always a Lamb cake.  This was a vanilla cake that was baked in a metal form pan that was shaped like a lamb.  It was covered with white icing and flaked coconut for "wool".  The Lamb's nose was a small piece of Maraschino cherry. And of course, there was always a chocolate rabbit or two placed somewhere on the table.

At some point during the morning, a priest from our parish would come visit the house with an altar boy or two in tow.  He would sprinkle the food with Holy Water and pronounce an Easter blessing upon it.  He would stay for a few minutes to chat with my mom while my sister and I did our best to behave and stay out of trouble for a few moments.

This tradition is still carried out today here in the NorthEast US, even in parishes that are not Polish ethnic parishes, such as Sacred Heart church in South Plainfield, which is my home parish.  There is a twist now - since there are not enough priests to visit the homes of all the parishioners, we are invited to being our baskets of Easter food to the Church to be blessed.  The Blessing is the same, but I feel badly for the folks who won't have as quite a warm memory to hold for the future.

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

It's a rainout

If I get the chance to do any QRPTTF this year, it's going to be as a Home station.  Right now, as I type this at 8:30 in the morning (local time) the rain is coming down at a pretty good clip.  So much for having faith in long range forecasts! Even this morning's Town Clean-up, which was scheduled to be held this morning was postponed until next weekend.  Both of my children, one as a Boy Scout and the other as a Girl Scout, were supposed to take part in this (with the help of dear ol' Dad, of course!).

Even so, my trip to Home Depot the other day to buy a new painter's pole to serve as a mast for the Buddistick was not in vain.  The new pole is much nicer that the one I had, and it will serve nicely for years to come.  It is heartier and more robust in construction.  It is School Bus yellow and actually compliments the PFR-3A very well, if you're into aesthetics.  It collapses down to 6 feet and extends to 12 feet.  They had another that collapsed to 8 feet and extended to 16 feet; but it was twice the price.  Also by collapsing only to 8 feet, I thought that to be kind of unwieldy for transporting around to portable locations.

It looks to be another busy day, getting ready for tomorrow's big Easter celebration.  Even with the clean-up being postponed, I might find it hard to squeeze any QRPTTF activity in.  I guess it's just an unfortunate coincidence (for me, at least) that one of my all time favorite QRP events had to fall on Holy Saturday this year.  Lot's of running around to do today. AND ...... I'm sure glad I got the lawn mowed yesterday!  It was quite shaggy and after today's rain, certainly would have gotten more jungle like.  I also quietly thanked the Lord that the mower started.  Seriously had my doubts about that and really don't want to buy a new one if I don't have to.

If I get some time, I hope to hear you folks on the air later.  If I don't - good luck to you all.  Hoping for good band conditions and lots of QSOs!

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Warmth of a Friendly QSO

The chores and preparation for Easter are many; but I managed to get on the radio for a few brief minutes before heading out to Church for Good Friday evening prayer.

On 40 Meters, I called CQ for a bit to be answered by Buzz WA4AIM.  Something about that call seemed familiar and the mention of his name really jogged my memory.  The shack laptop was busy doing the latest updates to Windows XP; so even though I didn't have Ham Radio Deluxe to rely on, I could sense that  I was in familiar territory.

WA4AIM courtesy of QRZ

Buzz and I had last QSOed about three years ago.  Evidently though, Buzz keeps a lot of notes in his log, like I do.  He asked if I was still using the K2 and even asked me about Joey and Cara, my two kids.  That was really nice and during the conversation, I was able to start up the logging program.  Turns out that Buzz was still using his Ten Tec Omni 6 and his 80 Meter dipole.  The exciting news is that he's contemplating the possibility of a K3 in the near future.

Isn't this hobby neat?  Three years go by and you can pick up a conversation where you left off with it.  There's something quite reassuring and nice about that.  Amateur Radio has its share of quick, rapid "TU UR 599 NJ 73" type of QSOs; but it also has it share of "How are the wife and kids?" type of QSOs, too.  Those gems are what makes this all worthwhile.  And when you get to share the air with a really good fist, that makes it even more special!  Thanks for the QSO, Buzz - sure hope it's not another three years before we hook up again.

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

Good Friday - 2011


Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Monday, April 18, 2011

20 Meters - just right!

20 Meters was the band on which to work K6JSS/4 from Alabama.  When I worked Dave at 01:08 UTC, he was a nice 569 into New Jersey with the 88' EDZ.  A few minutes after working him, Dave shot up to a bona fide 599.  Amazing how a 5 Watt signal can be so loud.

The hunt for these K6JSS/ stations has been a lot of fun and at times, a bit of frustration.  I'll take an easy one for a change with no complaints.

Looking forward to QRPTTF this coming weekend.  Of course, as we get closer to the day itself, the weather forecast is changing.  Yesterday, the prediction was for a chance of rain.  Now I am looking at mostly sunny skies with temps in the upper 60s.  If it stays that way, or gets even better, then that would be the perfect Easter present for this Ham!

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another good day on the radio

And another good day to be indoors!  It's sunny and a lot warmer in Central NJ today; but you wouldn't quite know that if you stayed outside for any length of time.  The high for the day peaked at about 59F (15C) but there was a ferocious wind that made it feel quite colder.  However, for the few brief minutes when there were no gusts and if you were standing directly in the sun, it felt heavenly.

I got so spend a little time on the radio this afternoon and it didn't seem to be quite as busy as yesterday.  Also, 15 Meters seemed to be busier than 17 Meters, which was the opposite of yesterday, at least in my opinion.  I worked Greece, Brazil, Denmark, Aruba, the Turks and Caicos Islands.  I also worked a Special Event Station from the Slovak Republic for the IIHF Hockey Tournament, which must be taking place there.

The highlight of the day was working Steve WG0AT who answered my CQ on 21.060 MHz.  We exchanged 449 reports and only a few brief pleasantries as there was also a lot of QSB.  And no, he wasn't on the mountain top with Rooster and Peanut.  This time he was working from the friendly confines of his home station.  It's always nice to run into Steve and I asked him to say "Hi to the boys" for me.

Tonight is the Run For the Bacon, the monthly QRP Sprint hosted by the Flying Pigs.  Hopefully, I'll get to make a few contacts in that tonight and will get the chance to say hello to some more QRP friends.

One of the things on the "To Do" list for this week, is to stop by the hardware store and pick up a new painter's pole - preferably one that will extend to about 16 feet (approx. 5 meters) if I can find one.  With QRP To The Field coming up next Saturday, the current plan is to use the Buddistick from the backyard station.  The extended forecast for next weekend (if you can believe a forecast a week in advance) is calling for a cloudy day with a high of about 62F (17C),  If it stays dry, it just might be a very pleasant time.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Google Earth

I had Google Earth on the old computer and never added it to the new one - until now.  I did this because of the Google Earth feature that's included in Ham Radio Deluxe.

If you click on one of your QSOs in the logbook display and then click on "Google Earth" from the "More" drop down menu, you'll get a graphic display that shows you the straight line path between you and the station you worked.  This is really cool, especially for those of us who only have verticals and wires which don't require us to point our antennas.

I am looking at how my signal traveled today to the DX stations I worked.  You grow up looking at paper maps and at least for me, even though I know it doesn't really work that way, I always envisioned my radio waves traveling from my QTH, east across the Atlantic to Europe.  Google Earth has shown me that my signals to Europe actually shoot almost straight North/NorthEast to Europe.  Looking at the globe view is somehow even more meaningful that just looking at one of those Great Circle Maps.

On a side note, I have found that the HP Laptop with the dual core processor that I got from eBay a few months ago is by far the fastest computer that I have out of the three that we own.  Google Earth works better on it than either the Acer or the family computer.  In fact, graphics wise, the family computer which is now a little over two years old, is the slowest of the three.

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

17 Meters ..... nice ..... VERY nice!

It's been a very rainy day here in Central NJ.  That meant no outdoor chores today; so I spent some time on the air.  There seemed to be quite a bit of contesting activity on 20 Meters, so I decided to hang out on 17 Meters for a bit this afternoon.

The band was hopping and I worked a new DXCC entity via QRP.  ER1LW in Moldova (Moldavia). Slawa was loud into NJ - 599 and I received a 569 report in return.  I even managed to tell Slawa that I was running QRP and got a "FB" in return.  I just checked my DXCC account on the ARRL Website and I see that Moldova is new for me .... period!  Not just QRP!  I also worked ES3AX, August in Estonia and OL2011VP in the Czech Republic, and CT1JGA, Oli in Portugal.

Later in the day, I got on 20 Meters for a bit and decided to call CQ at the 500 mW level.  I posted myself on QRPSPOTS and got a call from Jack W7CNL in Idaho, who saw my spot. I got a 529 and then a 559 from him, while he was a solid 559/569 into NJ.  According to the distance calculator feature on the QRP-ARCI Website - the distance between Jack and I is 2,133.62 miles, so this was a case where I was at the 4,267.25 miles per Watt level.  I know that a lot of times this is meaningless, but I still get a kick out of it!

Looking at the Reverse Beacon Network, my 500 mW signal was being reported as 19dB above the noise floor by OL5Q.   So my 500 mW signal was kind of loud to the Czech Republic - not bad!  In all cases I was using the K2 and the Butternut HF9V.

As I type this, it is REALLY pouring rain - I mean cats and dogs, buckets of rain!  I sure hope it's not like this next weekend.  Not only is next weekend Easter weekend; but next Saturday is QRPTTF - QRP To The Field.  This is the inaugural "outdoor" QRP event for the 2011 outdoor season.  I always enjoy this one and I really hoping for decent weather.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gotta hand it

to the boys from Michigan!  They are doing a SUPERB job of keeping K6JSS/8 on the air.  They will be a hard act to follow and they've definitely raised the bar.  It seems every time I check my e-mail or look at QRPSPOTS, one of the avid MI QRPers is on the air, handing out contacts.  If you don't get K6JSS/8 in your log this week; then it will have certainly been for the lack of trying.

Way to go, Michigan - thanks for all the QSOs!

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A time for celebration !!!

A very dear friend of mine, who is a Ham, recently decided that the best situation for him and his XYL, was to move out of their house and into a Senior's housing complex.  This is becoming more and more common as owning a house is taxing.  It's taxing on your time, it's taxing on your finances, it's taxing on your peace of mind.  For those on a fixed retirement income, sometimes it's the only thing to do.  In my friend's case, I don't think it was so much of a money thing as it was a peace of mind and peace of body thing.

But here's the problem; and I mentioned it in the first sentence.   He's a Ham ..... a pretty darn active Ham.  He's definitely not one of those "on the air once every few years" kind of Hams.  So in the process of moving, he also had to give up his antennas.

Now I don't know about you folks out there; but in that regard, I guess I'm kind of weird.  If something happens to one of my radios or one of my antennas, I just don't feel quite "right" until I get it rectified.  Even if I don't be happen to have the yen to be on the air that much during that time period ...... just knowing that "I can't" makes me uneasy.  There's just something calming and liberating about knowing that I can enjoy my hobby any darn time that I want to - that all is up and running if I want it to be.

So I felt badly for my Ham buddy.  Right now, I'm in a point in my life where I don't even want to imagine about having to do without an antenna.  Even though he had gained a new kind of freedom - freedom from worry, freedom from the extra financial burden - I was a bit concerned as to how he was going to deal with his new situation.  For Ham radio isn't just a hobby for him.  For him, like me and so many others, it's part of who he is.

So I was very happy to get an e-mail from him today.  In it, he explained that he threw a hunk o' wire out off his apartment balcony, hooked it up to one of his QRP radios and had a QSO!  Way to go!  Okay, so maybe it wasn't a QSO with the outer reaches of Inner Mongolia; but the important thing is - he's on the air again!  And for the most part, any time he wants to get on the air, all he has to do is throw out that hunk o' wire and he's pretty much good to go.

Another advantage of  QRP.  That's something you really can't do with the kilowatt station and expect to remain alive with your skin intact.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Busted

My very good fortune of working K6JSS stations in the various states looks like it has come to an end.  As I write this, there remains only about 25 minutes of time before K6JSS/5 becomes K6JSS/8 and moves on to Michigan.

http://content.answcdn.com/main/content/img/McGrawHill/Aviation/f0090-01.gif

20 Meters just didn't work for me, I am sorry to say.  I tried several evenings, but my signal was too weak to be heard - trying with both the EDZ and the Butternut.  I must have been "Receiver Y" in the dreaded "Skip Zone" and the radio waves were just flying too far above my antenna to be captured.

Oh well, it was a good run and I am happy with what I have accomplished so far.  I knew that it would be tough working all 50 going into this.  I thought the stumbler would be either Hawaii or Alaska, though.  Much to my delight K6JSS/6 from Hawaii has been confirmed for me through my logbook on QRZ.com. Alaska will remain to be seen.

Kudos to all of you out there who are fortunate to still have your streaks unbroken.  Here's to working all the rest! (Glass held high!)

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

PS: Wow!  Worked two K6JSS/8 stations within the first 20 minutes of Michigan's start for the week.  Hank N8XX on 30 Meters and Ken WA8REI on 40 Meters.  Superb operators both.  Thanks, guys!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Strange

Band conditions and propagation are subjects that are very well known to better men and women than I.  For all these years in Ham Radio; and I consider myself to only have a smattering of the most basic knowledge of propagation.  For the most part, I am a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of guy.

I am still hunting the elusive K6JSS/5 from New Mexico (can you say jackalope?); and time is dwindling and I am starting to feel a lil' bit of pressure.  This state may prove to be the end of my streak.  I have been following QRPSPOTS and have been straining to hear K6JSS/5 on 20 Meters, who, when I can hear him at all, is only about 229 at best with lots of QSB.

However, on the SAME band, working stations in Asiatic Russia has been a veritable piece o' cake by comparison.  With the standard QRP 5 Watts, I have been able to work RO9O (1141.23 miles per Watt)  and UA9OG (1141.27 miles per Watt), who are both almost 6,000 miles away from me with relative ease.

Even with my limited knowledge and expertise, I have a feeling once again that 40 Meters would be the band on which to "get 'er done" at this time of day.  However, if the NM station wishes to remain on 20 Meters, then there ain't much I can do about it.

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

Friday, April 08, 2011

Elusive

K6JSS/5 in New Mexico has been eluding me so far.  I saw a post on QRPSPOTS that W9YA was operating as the Special Event station on 20 Meters.  He was 449 at best here, more often 229-339 with lots of QSB and QRN.

Continuous calls for a good part of the evening have yielded nothing.  Bob has taken a break for now; and I am hoping he will come back on to 40 Meters.  That was the band where I had luck working KK6MC last week in the Spring QSO Party.

If not tonight, there are still two days left.

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

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Grrrrr ...

"They" say that timing is everything.  If this is true, then my sense of timing has not let me down, once again.  :)

As Winter draws to a close here in New Jersey land, I was invited to join (and did) the PolarBearQRP Ops group.  I am now Polar Bear #283.  Of course, while these hearty QRPers love to operate portable all year long, they seem to thrive outdoors even more so during the Winter months. 

As adverse as I am to the cold, this looks like a fun group to belong to.  I appreciate the invitation and the acceptance; and I am hoping that this will draw me out into cold weather in Winters to come.

Operating portable is one of my most favorite activities.  As I've said so many times before, there's nothing like being in the great outdoors while sitting next to a portable QRP rig and antenna.  If you are a subscriber to CQ magazine, please be sure to check out the QRP column in this month's issue.  You'll be treated to a photo of Jim Cluett W1PID doing his outdoor portable QRP thing.

On a totally non-related note, I was successful this past weekend in acquiring an Acer Aspire One at a good price to serve as the shack computer.  It arrived today and I have installed Ham Radio Deluxe onto it and have successfully gotten my logbook added.  It's not as fast as the family computer here; but it way faster than the old Dell I was using.  I think the lady I had purchased it from hasn't used it much as it was very busy downloading upgrades to its Windows XP operating platform.

Other than DX Atlas, Firefox, Dropbox and maybe a few other Ham related programs, I don't intend to bog the hard drive down with a lot of garbage.  Also, this netbook is going to be the sole property of Dad.  No kids on this one - one of which catastrophically damaged the old one.  This is for Ham Radio purposes only!

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

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

It's all a matter of perception.

I hope I am not touching a nerve here.  But really, it's all a matter of perception.  What is a hindrance to one is a golden opportunity for another.

http://www.learnmorsecode.info/philip-morse-code/

Old .... antiquated ...... useless ...... an anachronism?

I think not.

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

Monday, April 04, 2011

Club72

Not sure if many of you know about this organization - Club72.  Club72 was recently started by Oleg Borodin, RV3GM. Oleg was the one who coined the term "72".  We all know that 73 means best regards. Oleg thought that one number less or "72" should mean "best QRP".

The organization is devoted to the promotion of low power radio communications, worldwide.  To that end, that's my kind of organization and I quickly became a member.  This month, the club is running a QRP Marathon.  The idea is to get on every day and then enter your best, longest distance QRP QSO.  There is a form where you enter your call and the call of the station you worked, along with the output power of both stations and both maidenhead locators.  The webpage does all the calculations for you.  Then you get to see where you stand with regards to your fellow QRPers.

As of right now, there are 22 stations competing. Most are Russian and Europeans.  In fact, I'm the only stateside station that has jumped into the fray at this point.  Thanks to my two QSOs with EA2LU over the weekend, and one tonight with V44KJ on St. Kitts and Nevis, I stand in 9th place - pretty firmly smack dab right in the middle of the pack.

I'm sure my place in the standings will probably drop towards the bottom as the month wears on.  However, I am now motivated to look for at least one DX QSO everyday for the rest of the month.  The things I do to get on the air more!

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

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Fun ...fun...fun!

Even though I didn't think it was going to be possible, I did manage to put in about another hour's worth of operating time in the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party today.  In all, I completed 54 QSOs in the time I spent yesterday and today - perhap about 3 hours total.

The highlights were working EA2LU yesterday on 15 Meters and 20 Meters today, as well as HA7UG on 20 Meters yesterday.  I also worked a few really low QRP-ARCI numbers.  I managed to get KR3E #85, K2UFT #447, W1XH #59 as well as K6JSS/4 for #1 in the log.  I always enjoy working the really low numbers, guys who have been at this way longer than me.

I didn't hear any activity on 15 Meters today and not much at all on 20 Meters, except for EA2LU.  Today was totally on 40 Meters - all around 7.030 MHz and environs.  It seems that the argument about the 40 Meter QRP calling frequency, that was so contentious just a few years ago, is now a moot point.  It seems most weekends (at least in this part of the world) that 7.040 MHz and the immediate vicinity is covered in wall-to-wall RTTY and other digital signals, and is virtually unusable for QRP or any CW, for that matter.

There were a lot of contests happening simultaneously this weekend. The Polish contest, the MO QSO Party and a few others that I wasn't able to decipher.  It was veritable alphabet soup at times with stations calling all sorts of special "CQ"s depending on what contest they were in.

The K2 and both antennas performed as or better than expected.  My two EA2LU QSOs were my entries in the Club72 QRP Marathon

It was a fun weekend.

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

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I am a DOP

No, No, No.  I am not trying to be hard on myself.  I am a DOP - not a dope!  I am a "Dispenser of Points".  At least that's the role I took on in my participation  in the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party today.  Not out to win anything - just have fun and hand out points to the serious contenders.

This afternoon, on the higher bands, I though it was going to be a DX party.  I was hearing and worked a few DX stations.  EA2LU as I mentioned before on 15 Meters and HA7UG on 20 Meters.  But right around dinner time 40 Meters livened up with activity and I started having some fun.

From there it was down to 80 Meters to work some closer in stations.  Conditions were decent with lots of loud stations, but also a lot of loud static crashes.  Then it was back to 40 Meters to see if it had gone long.  And it did.  I was able to work some farther away stations and now I am going to call it quits for the day.

The K2 and the EDZ did a fine job on 40 and 80 Meters.  I am becoming more and more satisfied with it and do not have the yen to pull it down in place of anything else (at this point!).


Tomorrow will be a busy day and I'm not sure I'll get any air time.  If that's the case, then that's all right as I had a lot of fun this evening.

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

Hmmmm

Right now, it's 17:40 UTC and I am not hearing too much activity in the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party. I've worked WA8ZBT on 20 Meters and EA2LU on 15 Meters.  I'm hearing lots going on in the Polish contest; but not many calling "CQ QRP".

Maybe it will pick up later in the afternoon - people are busy on the weekends.

Got the April 2011 edition of CQ in the mail today.  I see that there's a nice photo of Jim W1PID in the field, paying close attention to his rig and tuner.  Nice to see friends make the magazines.

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

Friday, April 01, 2011

Four months in

April Fools!

We're now four months into 2011.  Wow, time flies by fast!

Looking back on my last post for 2010 and looking at my Ham Radio resolutions, I see that I have only really kept one so far.  I have been on the air more so far this year.  In fact, my QSO tally is about 20% higher than it was at this same point, last year.

The other resolutions can't really be touched until warmer weather returns and I can get more done outside.  But I did take care of one thing that didn't even make the resolution list and that was putting up the new wire.

Hopefully during the summer months, I will get more radials down for the HF9V and I will get that 160 Meter vertical built.  The Butternut continues to amaze me as to how good a performer it is.  Since I removed it from the coax switch and put it directly on the K2 as "Antenna 2",  it's been my mainstay.

Tomorrow and Sunday, I hope to spend time in the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party. Meeting old acquaintances and perhaps making new friends.  Keep your ears peeled for #4488 (that would be me!).

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