Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - 2011

Since 1868, Decoration Day, has been a day set aside for us to remember and pray for our fallen soldiers.  This day has come to be known as Memorial Day and it is the day we honor all American Soldiers who have died in American conflicts - from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.  It is fitting for us to remember that freedom is not free; and we have our freedoms because of the price that they have paid.



Today, throughout the cities, towns, villages and boros of the United States, wreaths have been laid, salutes have been fired, speeches have been made, parades have been marched, Old Glory has been saluted and "Taps" has been played.






It is fitting to take this day to also remember and pray for the living, those who have suffered from injuries, missing limbs, psychological trauma ..... those who may be home, but for them the war has not ended.  And also this is a day to say to all of our Veterans - "Thank you for your honored service - may God continue to bless you and may God continue to bless America".

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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hootowl Sprint Highlights

I had a lot of fun working the Hootowl Sprint tonight.  I am pulling the plug early, though.  There's an hour to go; but I have to have my son Joey at the local VFW early tomorrow morning as his Boy Scout Troop is participating in their Memorial Day program.

There was a goodly amount of activity; and it was great to hear a lot of stations.  I'm sure a lot of the guys were tired after participating in the CQ WW Prefix contest this weekend.  I made 21 QSOs in my effort.  We went out to dinner and I got back home past starting time; so that cut into my operating time a bit.

The main highlights were:

1) Working W7CNL on 20 Meters. I think Jack has the lowest QRP ARCI number that I have ever worked - # 271.  That's as close to the founding days of the organization as I think I'm ever going to get.

2) Working AI4SV on 40 Meters and hearing him send 500 mW as his power.  I get a kick out of milliwatting and working milliwatt stations.

3) Working Kelly K4UPG, my fellow Polar Bear on 20 Meters.  Kelly and I kid each other about how we always seem to miss each other during these QRP events.  Tonight we scored - Grrrrrrr.

I had three QSOs on 20 Meters, two on 80 Meters and the balance on 40 Meters.  80 Meters was already into summer time static crash QRM.  I thought 20 Meters would be busier than it was; and 40 Meters, is well, 40 Meters - ol' reliable.

There was no activity that I was able to sense near the old 7.040 MHz watering hole. The conversion over to 7.030 MHz as the standard 40 Meter QRP watering hole seems to be complete.  But there was some digital QRM around 7.034 MHz which was disturbing.  Can't 7.040 MHz be the "lower edge" already?  It's bad enough that these guys don't seem to listen at all before they transmit.  I was running a frequency for about 15 minutes when out of nowhere came some really loud digital noise that forced me to move.  Whatever happened to courtesy?

Sorry, guess I'm tired and crabby.

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

Contentious Discussion Alert

An interesting discussion is in its infancy on QRP-L.  Suggested  this afternoon - should FDIM be moved and rotated about the country, as the ARRL National Convention is?

This is a fascinating idea. The idea is that Hams who might not be able to make it to Dayton might have a chance at attending something closer to home, were it moved there.  Hey, if FDIM ever came to the greater NYC Metropolitan area, I'd be the first to book a room!  The idea has its merits, making the process of attending easier for some who could not normally make it.

However, in reality, I doubt this would ever come to pass for several very valid and realistic reasons.

1) The FDIM folks have built up a really nice working relationship with the Holiday Inn at Fairborn, where the event is held.  It is my understanding that because of the repeat business, a better deal is struck that keeps attendance fees at a reasonable price for those who can make it.

2) Dayton Hamvention - The premier hamfest in the USA.  FDIM coincides and the two have become somewhat ........ maybe symbiotic would be the best term?  There is a "connection" between the two that cannot easily be broken.

3) And this goes back to Point #1 .... having it at the same place every year not only has economic benefits; but logistical benefits as well.  It's just easier to plan when you know a year ahead of time where and when you are going to hold an event of such magnitude.

4) There already exist regional "conventions" i.e Lobstercon, Ozarkcon, Pacificon, etc. that fill this void.  Sadly, Altanticon has gone by the wayside.  But these do an excellent job of bringing together QRP'ers who can't make it to Dayton each year.

While my heart would love to see FDIM move around and make it easier for all to get a chance to attend (myself included) my head knows that it's already at the best place it could probably be.  As my kids get older; the chances that I can attend get better and better with each successive year.  Definitely not this year, of course, as I wasn't there - but maybe next year, or an even better chance the year after that.  My only hope and prayer is that FDIM is still going on when I finally do get the chance to attend.

Hope to get a chance to meet many of you face to face next year - God be willing!

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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guess it's just as well

I've seen on the various QRP e-mail reflectors that dues to a solar disturbance, band conditions were in the tank today and that propagation was pretty terrible.  That's too bad of course, but now I don't feel so bad about not being to get on the radio at all today.

Right from the get go, it was one thing after another.  Get the Jeep's oil changed, get the grocery shopping done, get the kitchen and bathrooms cleaned, take the kids to the movies. Whew! I'm ready for bed as I type this.

I am hoping that either tomorrow or Monday, that I can get to the local park for a few hours and get some outdoor QRP ops in.  The high temperature for today was 91F (33C) as we've jumped right from Winter to Summer. I know in reality that we did indeed have a Spring this year; but it was a cold and rainy one - not very enjoyable.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a little tiny bit cooler than today; but Monday is expected to be hotter perhaps.

Right now, I'm thinking PFR3A, 69' wire, Fuchs tuner, battery, paddle, fishing line launcher and a whole heckuva lot of fun. It would be nice if the bands cooperated.  I see that the SSN is back up to 65 and the Solar Flux Index is hanging around the 100 neighborhood.  With the K index nudging back down a bit, it looks as though the ionosphere is recovering.  That would be good for an hour or two at the park.

If I get the chance to go, I'll take the digital camera along.  Maybe I can get some stills or perhaps a little video going.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

6W/RK4FG in the log

I've worked Senegal before - both QRO and QRP.  But when I hear an African nation on the bands, and very loud to boot, I just can't resist!  I don't hear very many all that often and I don't have many QSOs with many African nations.  It's always a treat to work them. This time the HF9V got me through on 20 Meters.  The pileup was not fierce by any means - just a long line of stations to work.  I got through about 15 minutes or so after I started trying.

There's lots of DX to be heard on the bands even with less than stellar band conditions.  This coming weekend is the CQ WW Prefix Contest.  I am tempted to get on the air for a bit using NJ2SP, which is the call for the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club, for which I am trustee.

Hank N8XX has informed me that there were no NJ2 prefixes worked in the contest last year; so maybe even with QRP power I might command a pileup?  It might be fun!

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hey, we're going the wrong way!

Sunspot number down to 23?  Solar Flux back down to around 80?  Seems like we're headed back towards 2010 instead of towards solar maximum.  I'm sure that this is just a valley in the peaks and valleys of the cycle, but c'mon!

I averted a near disaster with the laptop. I don't know how it happened; but the other day, while I was reading my e-mail on the Verizon site, AVG popped up with a box telling me that it had quarantined some kind of virus. I don't think it was a virus as much as it might have been malware.  The computer started acting funny and this fake "Windows XP recovery" box came up telling me that my hard drive was corrupted and it directed me to some site, where for a fee, I could download some software that would restore it.

I recognized it for what it was - a scam and immediately rescanned the laptop.  Fortunately, there was nothing else infecting the computer; but the malware had caused some problems.  It wouldn't allow me to access Windows Explorer and some other features. Nothing fatal - just very, very annoying.

Thank you for the System Restore feature of XP.  I reset the computer to the way it was a week ago and now everything is back to normal and is working perfectly fine. I know what you're going to tell me - if I used Linux this wouldn't happen to me.  You know, I'm sure you're right; but I am nowhere savvy enough to pretend to know computers well enough to be a Linux user.

By the way, we're up to Bee # 112 - anyone want lucky # 113?

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

The Bee Keeper is IN


Wow!

103 Bee numbers given out in less than 24 hours.  It seems that The Flight of the Bumblebees IS quite a popular event.  I sure hope that the weather is good for all of us that day; and that we get a ton of logs, pictures and stories.

I'll be handing out Bee numbers until almost right up until the event.

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Iowa is in the books!!

Thanks to Jerry W0PWE, K6JSS/0 and the state of Iowa is in the books. I saw where he announced on QRPSPOTS that he was going to be QRV on 20 Meters. After my less than stellar luck on 40 Meters, I decided to high tail my kiester to the shack, PRONTO.

What a difference the right band makes!  Jerry was loud into NJ.  569 to almost 579 loud on the Butternut HF9V.  Jerry answered me on my first call and gave me a 559 in turn.  I was a very happy camper,to say the least.

So far, it seems all the states have done a wonderful job airing the K6JSS callsign given the resources at hand.  I only hope that when it is New Jersey's turn in the batter's box, that we make our state proud.

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

Flight of the Bumblebees - 2011


The Flight of the Bumblebees is one of my favorite outdoor QRP events of the entire year.  Usually, around May 1st, Bee numbers begin to be handed out.  This year, there seemed to be an uneasy silence about FOBB 2011.

So, I fired off an e-mail to Chris K6DBG asking him what was up and if there was any way I could help?  He replied that the Adventure Radio Society was looking for someone to take over as Contest Manager for FOBB this year, and would I be interested?

Not looking before I leaped, I said, "Yes" and the rest, as they say, is history. (Lord, what have I done?)

This year's Flight of the Bumblebees will be held on Sunday July 31st. You can find all the pertinent information at:

http://adventure-radio.org/wiki/index.php?title=Flight_of_the_Bumblebees

If you want a Bee number, please send an e-mail to w2lj@verizon.net 

All I ask is that you please "bee" patient with me if I don't answer your e-mails immediately; or you don't see updates to the roster as soon as you think you might.  I give you my solemn promise that I will do the best that I can.

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

Monday, May 23, 2011

Don't forget

Thia coming weekend, besides it being the "unofficial start of Summer", there are two good QRP Sprints occuring:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
QRP ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint (CW) ... QRP Contest!
May 29, 2000 to 2400 LOCAL TIME
Rules: http://www.qrparci.org/content/view/1518/118/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Michigan QRP Memorial Day Sprint (CW) ... QRP Contest!
May 30, 2300z to May 31, 0300z
Rules: http://www.qsl.net/miqrpclub/contest.html
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

K6JSS/0

K6JSS is in Iowa this week.  I tried working Terry WA0ITP both last night and tonight; but so far - no joy.  Terry's been plenty loud - 339 to 449.  Not booming in but loud enough for a basic QSO.

The problem, once again, is me.  I don't seem to be making it to the other end.  Sometimes, I fall into that trap that because I can hear a station I want to work, I assume they can hear me also.

This may end up being another case where I'm too close for 20 Meters; but too far for 40 Meters.  30 Meters might end up being the proper band.  Problem is, I don't get to choose the band!

Keeping my fingers crossed!

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

I think shaking the dead chicken worked

About a month ago, Thunderbird stopped working for me.  It received e-mails fine; but for the life of me, it wouldn't send one.  I kept getting a timeout error when it attempted to hook up to my ISP's outgoing mail server.

I tried changing settings, downloading the newest version - everything I could think of.  Nothing.  So for the past few weeks, I have been using Verizon's Yahoo page for looking at my e-mails.

Today, just for the heck of it, I sent myself a "test" e-mail, using Thunderbird.  It worked!  Thunderbird is now working with the Verizon outgoing server again - something healed itself.

Or perhaps it was the dead chicken that I shook at the computer?

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

One last photo ...........



That someone had sent me of the display at Hamvention.

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

Sunday, May 22, 2011

QRP ARCI awards at FDIM

As per the QRP ARCI Website, a detailed report will be published later.

There were no new inductees to the QRP Hall Of Fame this year.

Three people were included on the QRP Honor Roll -

QRP Honor Roll - Norm Schklar, WA4ZXV
QRP Honor Roll  - Steve Fletcher, G4GXL
QRP Honor Roll -  Terry Fletcher, WA0ITP
Three people received the QRP Merit Award -
WG0AT - "the goat man" - QRP award
AA4XX - QRP award
W3FPR - QRP award

The raffle was won by -
John Kunz, N8MCA, Dayton, OH - Elecraft K3
Chuck Nolin, WA6LTV - Flex 1500 Transceiver
Major draw prizes were won by -
W9UX - Begali Contour paddle
W4IM - Begali HST
N9WO - Buddipole Vertical Antenna
WA3JAT - TenTec 4020 Transceiver
KD0FRT - MFJ 9200 Transceiver
W0IMI - MFJ 266 Antenna Analyzer
ZL1AWR - Palm Key Paddle Package
There were approximately 50 other prizes. QRP ARCI is grateful to all companies who made prize donations - a full acknowledgement will be made in due course.

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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No streaming of the QRP Banquet

Darn!

As per Ken Evans W4DU, president of the QRP ARCI, due to technical difficulties, there will be no streaming of the FDIM QRP Banquet this year.

I really enjoyed it last year, especially the announcement of the new inductees into the QRP Hall of Fame.

I really have to try and get out to Dayton next year.  The kids are getting older, maybe next year will be the charm.

Now, down to the shack for a bit.

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

And now for something completely different

After all this talk of the KX3 and new technology, this appeared as Friday's "Pluggers" comic strip.  It struck a chord:



Thank you, Gary Brookins and comics.com !!!

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

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thanks to Jeff KE9V

Many thanks to Jeff KE9V for supplying the KX3 photos and some commentary that he has shared with me.

I love Amateur Radio ....... I really, really do.

But you gotta admit, this non-Ham technology stuff is cool too (although it could never take the place of Ham Radio for me)!  Here I am, sitting at my dining room table, typing away on my WiFi compatible laptop.  At the same time, Jeff and I are trading e-mails as he uses his iPad in Dayton.

We definitely take too much for granted these days.  100 years ago - heck ..... 50 years ago, this would have all been considered "magic".

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

Double wow!

I just watched Wayne Burdick give a presentation of the KX3 courtesy of some streaming Dayton video from Steve G4GXL.



This radio is even more impressive than the still photos could ever convey!

Imagine having a little K3 out in the field with you.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get every feature available, but I'm pretty sure I'd be happy with the basic radio and the built in tuner.

As some others have said, Elecraft has hit another home run and has raised the bar, once again!

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

I am starting to save for one of these ..... today!

WOW !!!!!!


Thanks to Jeff KE9V for the photos.  

I want one of these!  I am going to start saving now; and as availability gets closer (end of the year?) you just might see my K1 being offered up for sale.  I never thought I'd ever think that possible; but for one of these?  Definitely!

Drool, drool, drool, drool ...........

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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favorite QSLs

I got my old Canon scanner working with this HP Laptop.  It will only work with Windows XP, so it has lost its place connected to the big family computer, which is running Vista.  So, from time to time, I will post some of my favorite QSL cards.  This is the one that earned me the QRP-ARCI "1,000 Miles per Watt" award. In reality, it worked out to be 1,191 miles per Watt.  I worked Jeff V73GJ back in February of 2004.  If memory serves me (and sometimes that's iffy!), at that time I only had my K1, the K2 wouldn't be finished until that July.  I was putting 5 Watts into the Butternut HF9V.  I got a 559.  As I recall, Jeff was using a K2/100 and was about a 569/579 here.  The QSO was on 21.050 MHz.




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

K6JSS/8

In honor of Dayton Hamvention, K6JSS has been operating from the great state of Ohio this week.  By the looks and comments on QRPSPOTS, operation so far this week has been on the sparse side.

It was no surprise then, that when Mike N8IUP got on the air tonight as K6JSS/8, that he immediately faced a pileup of determined QRPers.  I joined the fray and finally made it into the log after about a half hour or so of trying.  He did come back to me earlier and asked for "W?LJ" but someone came on top of me and took my spot.  No matter, a few QSOs later, I was in the log.

Jeff Davis KE9V promised to send a photo of the new K3/KX1 if he will be able to get anywhere near it.  He said that the QRP community at FDIM is abuzz with the news.  Depending on how much this new guy costs, I just might be tempted to sell my K1 and my PFR-3A to raise funds to buy one.  If I do, it won't be for a while.  As much as I LOVE Elecraft equipment, they have a little bit of a history supplying new products right out of the gate.  I wouldn't want to sell my K1 and PFR-3A to finance a new Elecraft rig, only to have it arrive AFTER the summer QRP season is over.

If I'm going to do this; and that's highly speculative at this point, I'd wait until the initial order tsunami has petered itself out.

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

New at Dayton

Posted by the Elecraft folk on the QRP mail lists:

KX3: Ultra-compact K3/KX1 hybrid; 160-6 m, 10/100 W, all-mode, 32-bit   DSP/SDR, 1.5 lbs.

Dimensions: 3.5"H x 7.4"W x 1.7"D -- a bit larger in all dimensions  than a KX1.

(By the way, I'd like to thank everyone on the list who's sent us   suggestions for a next-generation portable over the years. Many great ideas!)

73,
Wayne
N6KR

Details will be posted to the Elecraft Website this weekend.

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Godspeed!

To all of you fortunate enough to be heading out to Dayton and FDIM, my best wishes for a safe journey there and back.  May your trip be filled with good times and pleasant memories.

 
Maybe next year ......... (sigh!)

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thank God for the WARC bands!

Sometimes you want to get on the air and have a nice casual rag chew.  It can be difficult sometimes in the midst of a contest.  Personally, I have nothing against contests and contesters; but there are times one can be "not in the mood".  This seemed to be the case for R7AX, tonight on 20 Meters. This has to be one of the first, if not the first time I have ever heard a DX station send "NO TEST" to stations calling him.

Thank God for the WARC bands!  If you are a rag chewer by choice, then you have a haven during contest weekends.  I switched over to 17 Meters for a bit and had a QSO with Pat F6GCP who was a very loud 589 in NJ.  The QSO wasn't what you'd consider to be a marathon; but it was a bit more than just "5NN TU" and goodbye.

Conditions on 20 Meters were strange.  Bob AJ4SM and I had to strain with QSB and changing band conditions to complete our QSO - Florida to NJ.  A few minutes later, I was working European stations with no sweat and good reports on the very same band.

This is the reason I have high esteem for the folks who understand this propagation stuff better than I do.

Today was the monthly Polar Bear outdoor QRP event.  I had intended to put my newly assigned #283 to good use from the local park.  However, my wife reminded me that our son's Boy Scout Troop was holding their annual car wash today.  So I spent most of the day washing other folk's cars.  It was a good day for fundraising and we managed to gather $192 for his troop, which will probably go towards new tents or a camping trip this summer.

I did make sure to have the VHF/UHF handheld secured to my belt.  It was turned on and was monitoring the local repeater.  Several of the boys seemed curious and interested; so I started explaining about Amateur Radio.

I think some seeds have been planted.

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

Driving you buggy

On AmateurRadio.com, another venue where this blog shows iself, a comment was left by Ernest, AA1IK with regard to my posting about WB9LPU's new bugs:

Ah-dunno-Larry! It seems to me the last thing this ham world needs is another bug on the air.


Didididididididididididididididid - DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAh,dididididididididiidi-Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah -  ddidididi,


When I hear stuff like this I shut the rig off and play my clarinet!


Charter member of the Dead Bug Society! I can hear it now! 'There are lots of good bub ops out there, sure there are!


Ernest does have a point, and I sure as heck won't deny it.  You will run into guys who use a bug badly, and it can be painful to listen to.  At times like those, I 'd be right next to Ernest, playing the clarinet. But since I don't know how to play the clarinet - the bad bug fists would probably sound better!  But in all seriousness, it's not the bug that causes the bad sounding fist.  It's the fist that causes the bad sounding fist.  If you learn the proper technique and then work at it, there is positively no reason that a bug fist should sound any different than a keyer and paddles or a good straight key fist.

Rich WB9LPU goes out of his way to eliminate those variables in his designs.  He responded thusly:

Hi, Ernest


I couldn't agree more with you about the pain of hearing (let alone trying to copy) bad bug sending.


Ever since I began designing bugs, my goal was to keep them from sounding like typical bugs - using features like independent control of dot duration and dot spacing. You are welcome to search YouTube to hear a variety of bugs from my workshop.  It is very difficult to hear the "bug signature" or the "Lake Erie swing" in any of them - they do sound like straight keys (well handled, I hope).


But I do wish that I could play the clarinet!


So to borrow a cliche' - bugs don't cause swing ... people cause swing.  Used correctly, bugs ARE sweet to listen to; and I've heard a number to excellent fists who just happened to be bug users.  Just wish mine was one of them!

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Heaven!

If you're a CW op and like to use bugs, that is!

Richard Meiss WB9LPU posted to the Brasspounders Yahoo Group two new bugs.  The BB-7 and the GoBug.  The GoBug has got my radar beeping full blast!  I can imagine taking this guy to the field:




And the BB-7 is a work of beauty! The wood base is gorgeous and I'm sure like all of Rich's creations, is a joy to use.



Just think - if I didn't just purchase that new lawn mower .....

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

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Now that's not something that happens everyday

In my 30+ year Ham career, I think this may be only the second or third time that this has ever happened.  I had a QSO with a Maritime Mobile station.

I was listening around the QRP watering hole on 20 Meters, when I heard a pretty loud station calling CQ. I answered and had a short QSO with Oleg UR5FA/MM who was running QRP also.  He was using a Yaesu FT817 at 5 Watts to a Windom antenna.  He was a good 569/579 and I received a 559 in return.

He gave his location as FL97.  A quick look at the Maidenhead locator available at the ARRL Website allowed me to see where that is - in the North Atlantic, about 1/3 of the way between Florida and North Africa.  Talk about a ground plane!


The picture above was provided by the program DX Atlas, and according to the ARRL Maidenhead locator, FL97 appears to be towards the eastern edge of the grid.

Now that's just something that doesn't happen every day!  Not only did I get to work a Maritime Mobile station; but he was also a QRP Maritime Mobile station.  How cool is that?

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

QRP can't be beat!

Remember me telling you about my buddy who moved into the Senior's apartment?  How he and I were both kind of fearing that his Ham Radio days might not be over, but might be significantly curtailed?

Needless worries on both our parts, as it turns out - and that, my friends, is mighty good news!  For sure, his situation is not as ideal as when he was in his own house; but as I often say, "We have to make do with the cards we are dealt". So my heart gladdened when I received the following report in an e-mail the other day.

"I made 25 contacts yesterday and worked all the states in W7 land.  I still need Maine and Vermont to finish off W1 land and will be looking for those today.  So far, 20 states  and 13 countries worked from my "noisy" apartment, via QRP."

 
Proof positive that you should never, ever underestimate the power of QRP and the resourcefulness of an eager Ham who is willing to exploit it!  For where there's a will, there's a way and you only need a few Watts  to do it with.

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

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ahhhhhh .... Summer time!

No, it's not here YET.  Heck, it hasn't been nearly warm enough to even feel like late Spring, let alone Summer.  But the following QRP event, of which I was reminded of by Brian KB9BVN, always speaks to me as the beginning of Summer.  It's the annual QRP-ARCI Hootowl Sprint, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend - and it's only three weekends away!

DATE/TIME:

8pm to Midnight LOCAL TIME on 29 May 2011.

OBJECTIVE:

To test your ability to make contacts late into the evening local time.

MODE:

HF CW Only.

EXCHANGE:

Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number
Non-Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO POINTS:

Member = 5 points
Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points
Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

MULTIPLIER:

SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands.  The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

POWER MULTIPLIER:

>5 Watts = x1
>1 - 5 Watts = x7
>250 mW - 1 Watt = x10
>55 mW - 250 mW = x15
55 mW or less = x20

SUGGESTED FREQUENCIES:

160m    1810 kHz
80m    3560 kHz
40m    7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants)
20m    14060 kHz
15m    21060 kHz
10m    28060 kHz

SCORE:
Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier Bonus Points.

BONUS POINTS:

If you are operating PORTABLE using battery power AND a temporary antenna, add 5000 points to your final score.  (You can NOT be at your shack operating from battery power using your home station antenna to qualify for this bonus.)  This is to help level the playing field for contesters who work from the field against contest stations with 5 element yagis at 70 ft.

CATEGORIES:

Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m-160m)

HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies.  Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself!  You can work a station for credit once on each band.

LOG SUBMISSION:

Email Submission:  Submit Logs in plain text format along with a summary stating your Callsign, Entry Category, Actual Power and Station Description along with score calculation to contest@qrparci.org

Snail mail Submission:  Submit Logs along with a summary stating your Callsign, Entry Category, Actual Power and Station Description along with score calculation to:

ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint
c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF
139 Elizabeth St. W.
Welland, Ontario
Canada  L3C 4M3

Deadline:

Entries must be postmarked on or before 30 June 2011.


RESULTS:

Will be published in QRP Quarterly and shown on the QRP-ARCI website.

CERTIFICATES:

Will be awarded to the top scoring entrant in each category, as well as the top scoring entrants from each State, Province and Country. Certificates may be awarded for 2nd and 3rd place if entries are
sufficient in a category.

I got a certificate one year for top NJ entry.  That was a surprise and the very first certificate I was ever awarded for participating in a CW contest.  Maybe that's why this one is so near and dear; or maybe it's just because this Sprint is just so much darned fun!

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

35th Anniversary

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Tuna Tin II, QRPME Kits is offering an updated version.  No toroids on this one, so for those of you who might suffer from toroid-windophobia, this one is a must.


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

Friday, May 06, 2011

KØK in the log!

Jim W4QO as KØK,  was working stations coming at him with savvy and finesse.  I made it into his log at 0234 UTC with a 579 report.  Here's some video of Jim going at it after we made contact. Conditions on 40 Meters was great - low background noise and loud signals!


video



By the way, you might notice that this video looks a bit cleaner and sharper than ones I've previously posted.  Our old Polaroid digital camera was stolen recently.  Marianne's and my birthday fall within two days of each other, so this year we "gave each other" a new digital camera.  This was taken with a Kodak EasyShare C195 that we purchased on sale at Target.  We're very pleased with it so far.

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

Did anybody see this?

First off .....  Wow!  I seemed to have touched a nerve with the Vanity Callsign renewal fee post from last night.  I've only one more thing to say about that.  Glad to see you're out there, reading!  Sometimes you wonder when you do an undertaking such as this.

Secondly ...... was it just me that seemed to miss this?



I saw this for the first time in the "What's new?" column of May CQ magazine.  Usually, when a new QRP rig is introduced there's a big hoopla, fanfare and general buzz on the QRP mailing lists and blogs.  Did I miss all that; or did I fall asleep at the wheel?

Or is it the reputation that MFJ has for producing "Mighty Fine ....." that has kept this from being bigger news?  Personally, I've never had a problem with any MFJ product that I have owned in the past; and I've owned plenty of them over the years.

For more details, you can click here, which will take you to the MFJ Website.

A lot of my Ham brethren and sisteren (new word - just made it up!) have the philosophy that "you can never have too many radios".  That's a philosophy that my XYL would take exception with.  So as much as I would like to have a neat lil' radio that would fit in my pocket (I never did get my ATS-3B to work), I don't think I'll be forking the money over anytime soon.

You know, I was thinking though - I don't wear my high school or college rings anymore and with the price of gold the way it is ...

Before I go for the night to catch some shut-eye ....... here's a good one to try and work this weekend!  This was posted on the QRP e-mail reflectors:

This weekend Coca-Cola will celebrate its 125th anniversary. On 8 May 1886 Jacobs' Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, began mixing Dr. John Pemberton's syrup with carbonated water at a price of 5 cents per glass.

Most of you foxes and hounds know Newton White, K0NWT. In addition to being a regular fox hunter he is a longtime Coke employee, and he has organized an amateur radio event to commemorate the anniversary. Newt convinced Coca-Cola to provide a special QSL card, and a group of Atlanta-area amateurs will operate from the World of Coca-Cola museum during the headquarters celebration party.

The K0K special-event callsign will be in operation from 0000Z Friday through 0000Z Sunday (Thursday evening through Saturday evening, local time). There are two phases:

1) Prior to Saturday's party, a group of Atlanta-area QRPers will use the K0K callsign from their home or portable stations. We will use qrpspots.com to announce our presence. Operating frequencies could be on any band. The duration of the "pre-party" is from 0000Z Friday through 1200Z Saturday. These contacts will qualify for the special QSL card.

2) The "main event" at the World of Coca-Cola will run from 1200Z to 2359Z on Saturday. Newt hopes to have four stations running throughout the day. The primary emphasis will be on these frequencies, +/- as conditions dictate:
CW: 7.050, 14.045
Phone: 7.250, 14.260

If we are able to operate on additional bands, our target frequencies are:
CW: 3.545, 21.045, 28.045
Phone: 3.810, 21.30, 28.450

We look forward to working as many stations as possible. The QSL card will be a very "limited edition" piece of Coca-Cola memorabilia. The operating station on Saturday will be in front of the museum where hundreds of Coke employees and their guests will see our hobby at work. We will have extra hands on deck for educational outreach.

The main event stations will operate QRO but will certainly try to work QRP stations whenever we can hear them!

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

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

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Vanity Callsign Fee to Increase

The FCC is seeking to increase the fee for a vanity callsign.

http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-seeks-to-raise-the-fee-for-vanity-call-signs

What we're talking here is chump change - a mere 90 cents from $13.30 to $14.20 - a mere 9 cents a year, if you think about it.

But the "Don't Tread On Me" hairs on the back of my neck get prickled just a little by this.  I am reminded of the old tale of the frog who sat in the pot of water, thinking that nothing was wrong, until the water boiled and it was too late!  Yes, I have a vanity callsign.  No, I do not mind paying for the privilege.  If I minded, I would not have changed from N2ELW.

BUT ....... in the days of computers, does it really cost the FCC anything to allow me to keep W2LJ?  I don't think they have to pay a lil' ol' man somewhere in Gettysburg who sits behind a desk wearing a green eye shade and sleeve garters and toils all day writing down vanity callsigns in a huge leather bound ledger, like a monk in the Middle Ages.

Maybe there should be a one time fee for the privilege - like say $50 or something when you originally apply and then wham!, it's yours for the rest of your life (or as long as you choose to retain your license) -  like any other callsign?  If you want to apply for a different vanity callsign, then you submit a new "application fee".

Really, once you change your call, it doesn't cost the FCC anything to maintain that.  Once their licensing system knows me as W2LJ or N2ELW or even KA2DOH for that matter, it doesn't cost a thing to maintain.

To me, as it stands, this just smacks of another tax increase.

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

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

It's been two good days

not at work (sigh); but at least at the mailbox!  Last night I came home to find my Four States Hamcan transceiver in the mail.  Today, I found QRP Quarterly and CQ magazine in the box today.

The Hamcan is going to be a super easy build - only 26 parts.  This will most likely be a one evening kit.  This little gem is even featured on page 62 of May CQ. I am looking forward to getting it built and going this weekend, which should be my first opportunity to work on it.

CQ and QRP Quarterly are always good finds in the mailbox.  CQ seems to have a goodly amount of QRP and homebrewing articles this month.  QRP Quarterly is always a gem and there's a nice article in this issue about WB9LPU's Bugnapper, which I featured prominently on this blog.

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

Club72 QRP Marathon - April 2011

I received the above certificate for participating in the Club72 April 2011 QRP Marathon.  Out of 28 entries, I came in 24th - but hey, I was the only W/K/N station to participate!  Fred VE3FAL was the only VE station to participate.

There's another one of these that will occur in July of this year.  You should join and participate.  This is another one of those organizations that should be near and dear to any Ham's heart - membership is free!

To join in the Marathon you just enter your QSO for the day where you got your best distance.  Enter in the maidenhead locators for the two stations, the power used and hit submit and BINGO, your entry is automatically tabulated.  You can enter one QSO per day, so if you have the time to make one a day for 30 days - you could end up scoring big!

It's another fun activity and don't think that your QSOs necessarily have to be DX - just think MPW, really.  A 500 mW QSO between NJ and CA would have been a HUGE entry in this competition.

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

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The QRP mindset

This post is a "back to basics" post, intended ideally for QRP beginners and those new to this blog.

Can anyone who is devoted exclusively to QRP have any fun and stand a real chance at Amateur Radio?

My first answer to that is to read Jim W1PID's latest - May Afternoon at the Pond.  Jim is living proof positive that a QRPer can have just as much success and fun as any other Ham Radio operator in the world.

If you're new to the QRP game, I have some words of advice.

1) Forget that you are running low power.  Don't handicap yourself.  If you take the "Woe is me, I'm just a lil' peanut whistle" attitude, you've already lost the game.  In reality, you're just another fish in the pond.  A smaller fish, maybe, but just another fish.

2) Don't advertise that you are a QRPer.  I never tell anyone that I am running QRP unless I am calling "CQ QRP" for a QRP Sprint or QRP QSO Party.  When I'm in a QSO, I have learned to mention that I am running a K2 and a doublet or vertical.  There have been many times in the past when I was engaged in a ragchew, where once I mentioned that I was running 5 Watts, that my RST went from 599 to 449 in a heartbeat and the QSO came to an abrupt an unfortunate end.  As far as I'm concerned, let them think I'm running a K2/100.

3) Don't work only the strong ones.  Many times, especially when working DX, I will also try to work weak signal stations.  For all I know, they may be running QRP also.  In fact, just this evening I worked S57JA on 30 Meters.  He was only 569; but in return, I received a 559, just a little bit weaker than he was to me.  We had a good QSO, even though it wasn't 599 both ways.

4) Don't fall for that line that QRPers have to resort to the receiving station "doing all the heavy lifting".  In many cases that is true.  But I personally have received 5 Watts signals that have blown the headphones off my ears.  Chances are that your signal is going to be loud to someone - somewhere.

5) Have fun!  You are an Amateur Radio operator, no different than anyone else, really.  If you take that mindset, you WILL have fun!  Power isn't everything!

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

So was that you that I worked so many years ago?

For whatever reason, the bands were super noisy for me today.  After doing some heavy duty yard work (I ripped out about eight dead shrubs from in front of the house that didn't survive this past harsh winter on top of last year's scorching summer), I decided to sit my butt down in front of the radio for a little relaxation.  It was not to be, really.  All the bands were filled with loud hashy noise, except for 80 Meters of all places!

I was listening around 3.560 MHz, the QRP watering hole, when I heard a fairly weak station calling CQ - K4JYS.  I answered him and we made contact.

Station K4JYS, courtesy of K4JYS and QRZ.com

As you can see, Bill is into using older equipment.  His signal was only 449 and there was lots of QSB.  I can say with confidence that he told me he was using a Hammerlund receiver; but am not quite sure what he was using for a transmitter.  Since band conditions were not the best, we kept it short and bade each other best wishes and called it a QSO.

"So, what's the point of this blog post, W2LJ?  Are you just going to bore me with details about a short QSO?  Or are you going to whine about band conditions?"  Neither, gentle reader, neither ....... read on.

I popped K4JYS into Ham Radio Deluxe only to find that I had worked that station twice before.  Once in 1994 during the ARRL's Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial contest event that the League had run that year; and also in 1995 in the RTTY Round-Up.  Back in the old days, when I used to be QRO - 100 Watts for the 1994 QSO and 125 Watts for the RTTY QSO.

But ultimately, this begs the question ..... was this K4JYS the same person that I worked back in 1994 and 1995?  I have gotten several e-mails in the past from folks who have looked at my log on QRZ.com and have written me to say, "There's an error in your log. You say you worked me on such and such a date; and I wasn't even licensed then!" To which I can usually reply, "No, that's not an error.  I worked the person who was the original holder of your call".

We tend to forget that those of us who have vanity calls (myself included) are many, many times not the original holder of said call.  Just because I didn't work YOU, doesn't mean that I did not work the callsign which you now hold.

Having that experience in the past, this leads me to wonder about this when I work someone that the log tells me that I worked 10, 15, or 20 years ago.  Fortunately, there's a place where you can go to check things out for yourself.  N4MC's Vanity HQ  Pop in the callsign in question and you can see for yourself.  When I popped in K4JYS's call, I found out that yes indeed, this was the very same Bill that I worked sixteen and seventeen years ago.

Plug in my callsign and you will see that if you worked W2LJ prior to 1999, it wasn't me, it was Ed Swoffer, the original W2LJ.  It's a neat tool to have at your fingertips if you have a computer in the shack.  There's a lot of guys who are "purists" and are dead set against computers in the shack.  There are also guys, whose computers do everything for them from pointing the antenna, to generating the CW, to making coffee for late night contesting sessions.  I fall in the middle - my computer is there for logging, looking up QTHs on Google Earth and for neat little Web sites like QRPSPOTS and N4MC's Vanity HQ.

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