10th Anniversary Giveaway!

On April 30th, it will be ten years since the "W2LJ - QRP - Do More With Less" blog was born.

In appreciation for all who read this blog, I am going to give something away to one lucky reader. I have a new, mint condition, unused, complete sheet of fifty United States Amateur Radio stamps, issued in 1964 on the 50th Anniversary of the ARRL - Scott #1260. I am going to have the sheet matted and framed - ready for display on some deserving shack wall. All I ask is that you send an e-mail to w2lj@arrl.net - entitled "Blog Anniversary Giveaway". Include your name, call sign and mailing address.

Any Amateur Radio op worldwide can enter. I will package and ship the framed stamps to any destination that the United States Post Office will accept.

The names and call signs will be loaded into a software program such as RandomPicker on April 30th and a winner will be determined. The winner will be announced here, and then the framed stamps will be posted.

Good luck, and thank you for reading!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

As the years turn - resolutions - again!


Things from 2011 that I wanted to get to; but didn't.

As I stated last night, this includes adding radials onto the base of the Butternut HF9V vertical.  The antenna plays extremely well and with about 25 radials presently, it could use some more.  I know a few (2 or 3) have gotten torn up by the lawn mower or the dog over the years - so adding some more will only help matters.  Didn't get to it in 2011; but hope to in late Winter 2012 before the grass wakes up for the Spring.

160 Meter vertical antenna - in particular, the one described in the August 2010 issue of QST.  It's an easy enough project, I just need to find the time.  I think I get a few additional vacation days in 2012, and hopefully I won't need to use any for surgery this year - so maybe I will finally find the time I need.

Resolutions?  In addition to the ones that carry over from last year, basically only a few.....

1) Get on the air more.  That was also one of my resolutions for 2011.  And I did get on the air more in 2011 - mathematically, about 15% more than 2010 if you go by QSO count.  But I want to be on the air even more in 2012.  I am hoping to do the MOQAD (make one QSO a day) thing again in 2012, like I did in 2006.  I'm not sure if I will be able to make all 366 (yes, 366 as this is a Leap Year) with family and other obligations; but I am going to give it the old college try.  They say if you want something to become a habit, it takes 30 days.  So I will definitely try to be on the air every day in January.  Maybe by February, it will just seem natural again.

2) Get on the air more outdoors. The other goal this year is to get out and activate New Jersey's parks.  There sure are enough of them; and as a member of the Parks On The Air group, it is my duty to at least make an effort.  With a new KX3 sometime in 2012, that will be an even bigger incentive.

3) Get my code speed up to 40 WPM.  Why? Simply because it's a personal challenge and I want to.  I am going to make some high speed code practice discs using Julian G4ILO's software.  The ride to work is roughly a half hour to 45 minutes each way, depending on traffic.  This time can best be used listening to code practice.  I am comfortable at 25 WPM now and can stretch myself to 30 WPM for short periods of time.  I don't desire to be a QRQ operator, per se; but I'd sure like to be able to follow a conversation if I stumble into one.

And of course, there are also a few personal, non-Ham ones that I won't bore you with here.

Now,  I would like to take this moment to thank all of you, my readers for your support in the past.  Please know that you all have my best and most sincere wishes for a most QRP and CW fun-filled,  healthy, prosperous, worry free, peaceful and most happy New Year!

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking back on 2011

The year, Amateur Radio-wise, was a pretty good one.  Some goals that I had previously set, I was able to keep - others I fudged on (read - didn't get done!).  For example, I didn't get new radials down for the HF9V that I had wanted to.  But, on the other hand, my vertical was a solid performer for me all year long so I am not complaining.

Highlights:

I got the PFR3A up and running after some problem solving that I have chronicled here.  It's a great little rig and I'm glad that I held onto it. I almost sold it at one point after finishing it. One of my best QSOs of the year was accomplished with the PFR3A, when I QSO'ed with John ON4UN while we were vacationing up at Lake George this summer.

I was also successful in replacing the G5RV last Spring.  On a warm weekend in March I took down the G5RV (which had been up for 13 years!) and replaced it with an 88' EDZ (Extended Double Zepp) antenna.  The good side is that the EDZ performs much better on 30 Meters than the G5RV ever did. I have had quite a few nice QSOs on 30 Meters as a result, with a goodly deal of DX thrown in, to boot.  The not so good side, is that, with care I was able to get the G5RV to load 0n 160 Meters.  The EDZ won't go anywhere near there.

Flight of the Bumblebees.  I took over as Contest Manager this year from Chris Kantarjiev, who had done an outstanding job running it the last several years.  I had a blast running this event, which I also LOVE participating in!  It is definitely one of my most favorite events of the year.  It was great fun handing out Bee numbers and compiling the results.  No one from the Adventure Radio Society complained about my efforts, so hopefully they will allow me to head up the FOBB again in 2012.

In connection with FOBB -  End Fed antennas !!!!!  I have played around with a lot of antenna schemes for portable operations.  This year my portable ops were dominated by the use of End Fed wires. They are superbly easy and fast to deploy and the results speak for themselves.  I am very happy with them and the Buddistick in cases where trees are not available.

K6JSS/X - I also had a lot of fun participating in the QRP-ARCI Golden Anniversary event.  I came within 4 or 5 states of a clean sweep, and strangely enough - Alaska and Hawaii were NOT two of the missing states! And I was able to head up the New Jersey K6JSS/2 effort along with Chris KQ2RP.  Chris was a life saver; and I don't know what would have become of New Jersey without him!  I hope between the two of us, that you were easily able to get your NJ K6JSS/2 QSO in your log.

KX3 - what can I say?  Even though I don't have the radio yet, I pined for it the minute I saw it on the Web, live from Dayton.  I immediately knew I just HAD to have one.  Thankfully, I was successful in selling some items and as I told you all before - I placed my order this week.  This is an adventure that will span two years, as 2012 will entail building and operating.  What my wife loves most about this is that no "house money" was used in the acquisition - I raised all the funds by myself.

Ham Radio Deluxe - I am fussy when it comes to my log book. You should see some of my early paper ones!  I'll have to scan some pages and post them for you - talk about a meticulous "Type A" personality!  After using Log-EQF for so many years, I wanted to find something more up to date with more "bells and whistles" and panache.  I used AC Log for a bit; but finally settled on Ham Radio Deluxe.  It is a superb program; and it took me a little bit to get used to it, but I am very happy with the result.  Now, I have my fingers crossed, hoping that things don't change too much now that Simon HB9DRV sold the rights and is no longer in direct control of the software.

Emcomms - Thank the Lord that South Plainfield didn't have a lot of disasters to deal with this year.  But in late August, we did have to deal with Hurricane Irene.  Our effort wasn't to the point of manning shelters but we did help with evacuations. Our CERT team and our little band of RACES/ARES operators gave a good effort and showed the town that we were willing, able, and most importantly - ready to help at a moment's notice.  I am extremely proud to be associated with my fellow South Plainfield Hams, they are a superb bunch - every single one of them. And yes, while we are technically "Amateurs", IMHO, we handled ourselves as professionally as the "paid guys".

This blog.  This blog has become a huge part of my Amateur Radio life.  Sometimes it's a little tough to come up with ideas on stuff to write about, but the negatives are far outweighed by the positives.  It's a lot of fun and I have gotten to meet and correspond with so many good people because of it.  I hope that the "idea well" and inspiration will not run dry and that I can be as prolific a writer, if not more so in 2012.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the "low lights" for the year as well as my "Radio Resolutions" for 2012.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I am almost at a loss for words

Sometimes I post things that are controversial.  Sometimes I post things that are boring (and do I ever hear about that!) Sometimes, I am fortunate enough to post words that touch people's lives in a certain way.

Two folks sent me e-mails about a couple of those today - and for that I am truly, truly grateful.  Your kind words are appreciated in ways you can't imagine.  Thanks so very much!

In other Amateur Radio news, the KX3 list is hopping like crazy, as you can imagine.  Wayne N6KR alluded to the fact that the User Manual will probably be released in January, while the Assembly Manual won't be ready until February.

Always being somewhat curious, I would love to know what the first hour and first day order figures for the KX3 were.  After all, this radio was introduced at Dayton and so many videos featuring the radio were released in the meantime.  I'm sure there was a "dam bursting at the seams" phenomena, and it would be very interesting (to me anyway) to see how order figures stacked up against those for the K3 and perhaps the KX1.

I continued to get some more QSLing done today.  I am so embarrassed that I have let my QSLing slip.  If you've sent me a card in the past few months and I haven't responded ...... well, keep an eye on your mailbox within the next few weeks.

Oh, and by the way, in my post the other day, I didn't mean to denigrate or sound harsh about DX stations who insist on QSLing direct with a couple of green stamps included.  For guys who are in rare locations, I can understand totally.  If they didn't QSL that way, they would probably quickly go broke.

I also mentioned using the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service.  If you're an ARRL member and you're not aware of this service - please, by all means, check it out!  This is by far the most economical way I can think of to send out QSL cards to DX stations who will accept cards via their Bureau.  They will even accept cards for DX stations that go to US QSL managers!  The ARRL Outgoing QSL Service, IMHO, is one of the best side benefits of being an ARRL member.

My good friend, and fellow Polar Bear, Rem K6BBQ has posted another outstanding video - this one concerning the December Polar Bear outing which coincided with the ARRL 10 Meter contest. Rem is right up there with Steve WG0AT as far as quality video goes.  I am posting here for your viewing pleasure:



Keep up the good work, Rem.  Your craft is enjoyed and most appreciated! The laughs are appreciated, also - it's great when we don't take ourselves too seriously and actually have fun.

Driving to work today, I saw a few Christmas trees already on some folk's curbs, ready for pick up.  For me, that's one of the saddest sights of the season.  But also - getting rid of your tree before New Year?  After all, Christmas is SUPPOSED to last for twelve days -right?  I'm not a die hard adherent to leaving the tree up for all twelve days - but at W2LJ, we do wait until New Years Day or later to do the dirty deed of getting rid of the tree.

I had hoped to be more prolific in terms of blogging compared to 2010.  Looks like I am going to come up short of my goal.  Within the next two days, I'll post some about some reflections from this year and some hopes for 2012.

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

PS: 40 Meter Fox Hunt tonight.  John K4BAI and Tom KV2X are the Foxes.  Two superb ops!  Hope to hear YOUR call being answered tonight.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Almost lost in the sauce

with all the excitement about the official launch of the KX3, this hasn't been getting much talk up on the QRP e-mail reflectors.  Doug Hendricks has announced the return of the TwoFer Plus CW Transmitter Kit.


"I have returned the TwoFer Transmitter Kit to my line up of kits at Hendricks QRP Kits. It is in stock and ready to ship for your choice of 40, 30, or 20 meters now, and when the crystals arrive in about 2 weeks, it will be available on 10 meters as well. The cost of the kit is $35 plus shipping and handling, and now includes an open chassis case, knob, and all connectors. This kit is ideal for use as a small beacon with the addition of a keyer, and is a great first time build for the beginner. The kit was retired several years ago, but I decided to bring it back after many requests for it. Ken Locasale, WA4MNT, designed a case for it, and we changed the final to a 2N3053. Check out the pictures and manual on my web page at www.qrpkits.com. Just click on the picture and scroll down to the manual and ordering information. 72, Doug, KI6DS"

Always good to have reasonably priced kits that you can recommend to first time kit builders! Thanks, Doug!

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

Holy Shamoly!

Things have been severely slow at work; as we are in an "End of Year" freeze.  No new equipment can be installed until after the New Year.  So there has been not much to do at all.  To alleviate the boredom, I brought my Acer netbook (which has my log on it) into work with me and have been catching up on some DX QSLing.

What a chore!

Some guys are OK with the bureau, some want only direct QSLs, some LoTW only, some eQSL only.  Some won't accept an eQSL. Some won't accept a paper card and so on and so on and so on. It's enough to make your head swim.

Figuring out how to get a QSL can be tough enough; but the "Direct QSL Only" guys are definitely getting a second look from me.  Most of these guys are requesting a couple of "green stamps" for each card.  That could add up fast!  The only way I am going this route is if the QSO represents a country I have never worked before.  Other than that, as much as I love getting QSLs, I'm not paying two bucks each plus postage!

I don't know how these die hard DXers survive this.  In addition to spending heaps of money like they do for top of the line stations and antennas - the cost of QSLing must make them reach way deep down into their pockets.

As it is, to save money, I employ the use of the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau. I can't imagine what it would cost to send each QSL individually overseas (even just to the bureaus) with the price of airmail stamps what it is.

In this case, I'm glad I'm not that big of a DXer. I'd never have been able to afford a KX3 at this rate.

While I am on the topic of QSLs ..... I want to let it be known (officially) that I AM NOT the QSL manager for T31A. That is W2IJ (Whiskey Two India Juliet).  Please do NOT send cards to me - I have no way of answering those!

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am a very happy camper

even though I never was able to work Rene in the Foxhunt tonight.

I came up to our bedroom with the laptop to give one final look at e-mail for the night and there it was, the announcement that Elecraft was accepting orders for the KX3.

Quicker than Santa sliding on down the chimbley, I clicked on the provided hyperlink and got my order in. Within seconds, I received the e-mail confirming that my order has been accepted. A KX3, autotuner and roofing filters will be on their way to New Jersey somewhere during the first quarter of 2012, hopefully!

Looking back on it, it took over three months for me to get my PFR3A after I had placed that order.  The KX3 should be here around February or so - a walk in the park by comparison!

There is a certain contentment knowing that a KX3 will be on its way sooner, rather than later (by that I mean a year or two down the road).  Thanks Eric and Wayne and all at Elecraft for your hard work!

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

80 Meter Fox Hunt tonight

and the ol' NJ - WI pipeline is back !!!

Jerry N9AW, one of the Foxes is SUPER loud here into NJ. 599+ and he sounds like he could be right in the neighborhood.  Jerry is handling stations with expertise and I got my pelt at 0205 UTC - five minutes into the hunt.

The other Fox, Rene K5JX is not even being heard at this point. BUT, I did hear Todd N9NE work him; so I know where to listen. Todd, also in WI is back to his ol' "knock the cans off of Larry's head" mode.  I think Todd is a skosh louder than Jerry tonight.

Too bad that both Foxes aren't from Wisconsin tonight. I'd have a double pelt without breaking a sweat!

On a side note, it's quite warm here in NJ tonight.  55F the last time I checked about a half hour ago. The bad side is that the rain is teeming down.  Alerts have been posted for local and coastal flooding.  I got soaked running to and from the car coming home from work tonight.

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

Addendum: I found Rene - he's working around right where I heard Todd.  He's getting louder and if he gets even louder, it might be worth a shot sending my call.  However, some Maryland Net being called up by N3DE just came up on frequency without notice and they are totally covering up Rene.  My ears are bleeding as I had the volume set pretty high!

New ARRL Video

Was released today, titled "The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio in HD".



It's nice to see so many familiar faces and so many of the things we QRPers really like, too!

Nice job by Bill Pasternack, Dave Bell and crew!

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

Deleting a post

I probably shouldn't even bring attention to this; but I decided to delete my blog post from a couple days ago regarding the 73 Magazines. After reading comments from Matt W1MST and Jeff KE9V, I came to realize there may be issues with permissions and stuff like that from the original authors of said articles.

One of my personal Prime Directives (channeling Star Trek) for this blog is to "Do No Harm".  So since the permission issue in a gray area, and not wanting to do anyone any badness; I decided to delete the post as well as the issues that I had downloaded from my own hard drive.  If this matter gets cleared up for the good, I can always go back and re-download.

On a lighter note, I saw in the British Newspaper, "The Independent" that a British company has sold out two cruise ships that will be making a "Memorial Cruise" to mark the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic this April.  Supposedly, they will be following the exact same route and will hold a memorial service at 2:00 AM over the spot that Titanic went down, on the actual anniversary day.

One wry commenter stated that to make the cruise more "eventful", that the ship(s) should be forced to make the cruise without the help of radar.  Oh well ........

On the other hand, on the KX3 reflector, Eric WA6HHQ has intimated that ordering of the KX3 will be taking place any moment now - remarking that it's going to be a busy week at Elecraft.  I for one, have all my funds neatly set aside and am only waiting the "Go" order.  Again, I know I won't be seeing anything until February or March, but at least I will have the peace of mind of being in queue.

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day 2011


I hope you woke up this morning to find that Santa had been very good to you, by leaving that new kit, rig or perhaps even a Vibroplex or Begali or custom made key that you had been dreaming about?

Enjoy the day with family and friends, good food, warm fellowship and all the glad tidings of the Day.

So, once again:

Merry Christmas
Cestit Bozic i Sretna Nova godina
Feliz Natal
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Sretan Bozic
Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi
Hyvaa joulua
Joyeux Noel
Fröhliche Weihnachten
Linksmu Kaledu
God Jul
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Feliz Navidad
Srozhdestvom Kristovym


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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

To all my dear friends who read this blog - on this Christmas Eve 2011, my most sincere wish is that you will all experience and know in your hearts the Joy and Peace that was given to us so many years ago.


 Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” 

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Merry Christmas !!!

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Eve (Eve) present

This one is becoming somewhat of a tradition for many a Ham to view this time o' year:



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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

40 Meters is quite long tonight

I can't hear either Fox tonight.  One is in New York and the other is in Wisconsin.  However, the Russian "D" beacon is quite loud, as are some stations that I am hearing from Cuba and Brazil.

Maybe the strange propagation is tied to the weather (not!) ?  It was close to 60F here today in New Jersey.  It feels a lot more like Easter than Christmas.  Hard to believe that Christmas is only two days away!  I have all my shopping done.  Now comes the gift wrapping and baking.  I hope to get a majority of both done tomorrow night.

I will listen around for a bit more; but it's a strange night when I don't hear any chasing Hounds in addition to not hearing Foxes.  This is a shame as the neighborhood QRN has taken the night off and my ambient band noise level is only a bar or two on the K2's display.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Secret Morse Code Message

Milan Illinois National Guard building holds secret message

In the Illinois National Guard building.  Not so secret to us Hams; and definitely nothing that needed to be kept secret - but cool, nonetheless!

Thanks to my friend Drew W2OU for bringing this to my attention.

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snowmen

in a way that only Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes" could build them!



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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tha magic that is CW and how I got there ......

It is funny how unintended events have a way of shaping our paths.  I was pondering this yesterday, as I was discussing with my good friend, Bob W3BBO, concerning our mutual fondness for sending and receiving Morse Code.

For me, at least, it wasn't always that way.

Like many of you out there, my quest to become a Radio Amateur began when I was in high school.  I happened to take a course in electronics under the tutelage of Bob Benson, K2IB where I was exposed to Ham Radio in depth.  I had heard about Amateur Radio before and was always interested in it; but Bob was not only an electronics teacher at East Brunswick High School, he also "ran" the station that was at the school.  He introduced us to Morse Code and the all the fascinating things about the hobby.  Bob was my first big exposure to Ham Radio and fortunately for me, he planted a seed.  The seed didn't sprout immediately, but it didn't die, either.

I was 16 when I first tried to learn Morse Code and my brain wasn't having any of it!  I went to the local Lafayette Electronics store and bought myself on of those AMECO code practice 33 1/3 LPs.  I listened and listened and listened.  I don't know if it was I was too preoccupied by my other subjects, or what - but my brain would just not cooperate.  After many months of trying, I just grew weary and gave up.

After college, with a new job and a lots of "disposable time" (but not necessarily disposable income) I read in the local newspaper one day, where the Continuing Adult Education Department of North Brunswick was offering an evening course where you would end up with a Novice license.  It was open to all county residents, so I immediately signed up.  The seed that Bob had planted, while dormant for a while, itched to come to life again.  I decided this time that I would "win" and I would conquer the code and earn that license that I had wanted for so long.

And just about this time of year, back in 1978, I did end up learning the code and did, in fact, earn my Novice Ticket.  I was restricted to CW only and while I didn't HATE it, it wasn't my first choice, either.  My Novice time was spent learning, getting experience and starting the process of upgrading to General.  The General ticket was my dream.  I would shed the shackles of Morse Code that I had erroneously thought were binding me.  Once I had voice privileges, I was going to be a "Real Ham", kicking back at the operating table, with my feet up on the desk and microphone in hand, working all the "rare ones"  - just like something out of a Gil cartoon!

I upgraded in June of 1979. It just so happened that the FCC  had come to the hamfest put on by the Morristown club that year.  My sister drove me to the hamfest, as I was sick with a fever and was feeling miserable; but I was bound and determined to earn those voice privileges. And I did - fever or no, I passed the 13 WPM code test first and then the theory test.

In the meanwhile, I had procured for myself a pair of Kenwood Twins - the R599D and T599D.  I was going to be one of the "Big Boys" now - a member of the fraternity that I has so longed to belong to.  I ran up to my shack, which was on the second floor, tuned up the transmitter for the phone section of the 20 Meter band (ah, Nirvana!) and proceeded to transmit.  I don't know if my signal was heard anywhere 'round the earth; but I sure was being heard through my parent's TV set, loud and clear - TOO loud and clear.  And no matter what I tried to do to fix the problem, it wouldn't go away entirely.  I know now that the problem involved the lack of a true and proper RF ground.  But then, I was licensed for less than a year, and while I was a General, I was still quite green behind the ears.

I also knew better than to mess around with my Dad's TV viewing habits.  So I faced a decision - as I saw it at the time, I had two options.  I could still pursue SSB operations and instill upon myself "quiet hours", where I would not operate until AFTER my Dad had gone to bed for the evening, or I could go back to using mainly CW.  Whenever I used Morse Code, I did not interfere with the family TV.

I had my own job to go to now, so quite frankly, not operating until after 11:00 PM or so, wasn't much of an option. I chose the Morse Code option and quite frankly, have never looked back!  If you take all my logbooks from 1978 to the present day, you would see that my QSOs break down pretty much this way - SSB 1 or 2 percent - Digital modes maybe 3 percent, CW is 95 percent or better.

The unintended consequences of the RFI interference and not having enough knowledge to overcome them made me the CW op that I am today.  And quite frankly, I have no desire to use either SSB or the digital modes.  DO NOT GET ME WRONG - there is NOTHING wrong or bad with those methods of making QSOs - they're just not for me. 

So that's my story - and I'm sticking to it!

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Christmas Memory

This one from 1968, when I was as old as my son Joey is now.  I remember watching this on TV on Christmas Eve - Channel 2 from New York City. All the manned spaceflight coverage was done by none other than Walter Cronkite himself, who would later become KB2GSD.

Apollo 8 was an important milestone. During the previous year, on February 21, 1967, three astronauts - Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee had perished on the launchpad when a fire erupted inside the Command Module of Apollo 1 during a countdown dress rehearsal.  More than a year and a half later, Apollo 7 had successfully tested the redesigned spacecraft in earth orbit during its flight in November of 1968. Apollo 8, with Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and Bill Anders flew to the moon, orbited around it and returned safely to the earth.  This marked the first time men had ever flown to another celestial body and the first time that human eyes had ever seen the far side of the moon.

What follows is something I found on YouTube which is not what we saw on TV that evening; but is a nice little three minute show in and of itself



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

Hey, whaddya know?

W2LJ T32C 2011-10-21 00:56:02 17M CW 18.070000 EASTERN KIRIBATI
W2LJ T32C 2011-10-09 20:18:13 12M CW 24.910000 EASTERN KIRIBATI
W2LJ T32C 2011-10-08 20:22:30 10M CW 28.011830 EASTERN KIRIBATI
W2LJ T32C 2011-10-06 00:37:44 17M CW 18.070000 EASTERN KIRIBATI
W2LJ T32C 2011-10-04 23:09:36 17M CW 18.073000 EASTERN KIRIBATI

I have noticed that folks have been mentioning that their QSOs with T32C have been showing up in Logbook of the World, so I went to go see if mine were in there.  Sure enough, these were!

I did submit a real QSL too, so I am looking forward to getting a real one back, also.

This was an amazing DXpedition with superb ops. I am glad that they were able to dig my QRP signals out of the maelstrom of callsigns that were being tossed at them.

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

Ordering a KX3

Mike, KB3ELW (love that suffix) posed an interesting question on the KX3 Yahoo group:

"As we near the release date, is there any specifics as to how initial orders will be taken? Will emails go out to those who have added themselves to the list at Elecraft? Will it be sequential? Will it be rolling orders? Maybe a brief synopsis from those in the know?"

I am nowhere close to being in the know; and since I didn't order a K3, I don't have the knowledge of how it was handled back then.  But I would assume that those of us who signed up for the KX3 announcement page would simply receive an e-mail stating something like: "Orders are now being taken, please proceed to the Elecraft ordering page."

Really, how else could it be handled?  The initial surge will probably be for hundreds if not a thousand or so units.  I can't imagine it being in the tens of thousands; but then you never know.  Whatever the initial order surge is, I am pretty confident that Elecraft's ISP can handle it.

Working in the hardware side of the IT field, I've seen servers in the financial industry literally fry and die from overload activity; but that was only during the mortgage bubble collapse back in 2008, when Lehman Brothers went down.  I can't imagine us QRPers and other Elecraft fans generating THAT kind of activity.

I too am anxious to get my KX3 ordered, just so that I know the order is in and taken care of. I know the actual order processing will take a while; but there is something to be said for the peace of mind, knowing that I am in the queue.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another night QRN'ed to pieces.

The 40 Meter Foxhunt was a dud tonight, even though I think I am hearing one of the Foxes.  I have the 10 over 9 QRN again.  If it is AA4XX that I am hearing, then he'd be an easy 579 / 589 if the band was quiet.

And to make matters worse, I made a sked with Joe KK0SD on 20 Meters in order to get K6JSS/0 for South Dakota.  This band noise is taking out 20 Meters for me tonight, too.

It's enough to make a person utter, "Bah, humbug!"

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

Getting that Ol' Christmas Spirit

I shared this last year; but it's good enough to share again - a Christmas memory from my youth (1966) - a TV commercial from WCBS TV.



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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By the way, it's time

to read (or re-read) that KE9V "Classic":




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

Just in the nick o' time!

This week is the last week of regular operations for K6JSS/X, with TN being in the batter's box.  It's hard to believe that all 50 states have been on the air. Time has flown so fast, where has it gone?

I was watching QRPSPOTS and I saw several stations including my good bud, W3BBO making posts about K6JSS/4 being on the air on 40 Meters.  So I ran downstairs (literally) with my fingers crossed, hoping that the band would be quiet and that I could hear my quarry.

Happy dance time!  I not only heard Larry (familiar name) on 7.031 MHz, but he was 579 and was finishing up a QSO.  I tailended by sending out my call and got an answer and a 579 report back. Yay, Tennessee is in the log!  And wouldn't you know it?  Just as Larry was signing with me, sending "W2LJ DE K6JSS/4", just as he finished sending the "4", my S-Meter went from two bars to this:


Almost full scale as the neighborhood QRN kicked in, rendering 40 Meters useless for the rest of the night (well, at least the next couple of hours, probably).

The next week or so will be spent making contact with the states I have missed.  Hopefully, SD, NM, and a few others will be gotten and I will have all 50 in the log to celebrate QRP-ARCI's Golden Anniversary.

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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting ready for Christmas

Spent the day procuring the Christmas tree.  This year, we have continued a tradition begun last year; and we went to a Christmas Tree "farm" where you pick out the tree you like and they cut it for you, right there. The name of the place is Griffin Farms in South Brunswick, NJ.  It was a beautiful day for the task - sunny and about 40F (4C).


Cara, Joey and Marianne and I took our time looking at specimens.  Here is a Frasier Fir that we kind of liked.  Of course, it had to be measured to make sure it wouldn't be too tall for the living room.


We finally found this one all the way on the other side of the farm.  It measured at 7 feet (2.1M) and was considered to be just about perfect for our needs.  I think it's a Balsam Fir - not claiming to be a botanist by any means, but nonetheless, a very "traditional" looking kind of Christmas Tree. The next thing to do was to get one of the workers to cut it down for us.  



This guy was extremely nice to us.  He must have been having a bad day with a lot of nit-picky requests.  When we pointed out the tree we wanted and asked him to cut it for us with no other special requests, he was so happy that he gave us this 7' tree for the price of a 5.5' foot tree - a savings of about $15.  Then the tree was baled up and put atop the Jeep.


Once we got it home,  I unbundled it, got it in the stand with some nice, fresh water.  Then I got the lights and garland on it and let Marianne and the kids take over from there.  Here's the finished product:


Now all this puppy needs is a gift wrapped KX3 underneath it to make it complete. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen; but I can dream - can't I ?

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

Thursday, December 08, 2011

One is better than none

with regards to tonight's 40 Meter QRP Foxhunt.  I managed to work Dave AB9CA down in Alabama.  Then as I was listening for Greg AB7R in Washington, there was a "snap" and the noise level went from S1 to S9 +20 in the blink of an eye.  Danged plasma TV or other appliance!

It's really amazing how this occurs. Literally, like the flip of a switch, 40 Meters is turned from a nice quiet band to instant garbage.

For those of you who have been in the hobby for a long time, you probably remember the days when someone would come knocking on your door saying, "Your Ham Radio is screwing up my TV."  Did you ever think the day would come when a Ham would be able to say, "Your TV is screwing up my Ham Radio"?

I just wish I could pinpoint the offending appliance.

Well, that finishes my Foxhunting for the night.  Maybe I'll go down to 80 Meters to see if I can scare up a ragchew. Or even better, maybe I'll turn in early for some extra sleep.

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

Can't sleep

so I will peck away at the keys for a few moments, hoping that tiredness will come.

As the song goes, "Christmas is a comin' and the goose is getting fat" ..... my lovely bride asked me what I want for Christmas.  Other than the KX3, for which I have funds set aside, I really can't think of anything all that much.  A weather station perhaps?  I've always wanted one of those; and John AE5X pointed me towards a rather inexpensive one.  I have enough keys and unbuilt kits.  What I really would like is a trip out to Dayton for FDIM in 2012.  THAT would be ideal!

What are you folks hoping that Santa will leave under the tree for you?  Maybe I can garner some ideas. :)

The weather is turning nasty.  It was quite warm the past couple of days, feeling more like April than December. But that is changing with a vengeance.  It has been pouring buckets all day and the temperature is steadily sinking.  It started out at about 56F (13C) this morning.  Right now, it's 40F (4C) and the rain is getting closer and closer to turning over to snow.  The weather folks say that by tomorrow morning we should have a coating to about 1/2 an inch on the ground.

The weather for the weekend is supposed to be sunny and in the low 40s (4C) each day - good weather for Christmas Tree buying this Sunday!  I think that this Christmas we will be staying home. I believe that both my sister and my wife's brother have their respective in-laws to visit this year, so it may end up just being the four of us at home with a small turkey for Christmas dinner.  That would be nice for a change, instead of hurrying to and fro to someone else's house for the day.  If we are fortunate enough to get a white Christmas this year, that would seal the deal.

In all my 54 years, I can really only remember about 2 or 3 white Christmases here in NJ.  They do not come often at all, and are quite rare.  Cold Christmases, on the other hand are fairly common, but by no means the rule.  I have experienced Christmases where the weather felt like Easter and Easters where the temperatures felt like Christmas.  But we have also had our share of bone chilling, teeth chattering, knee knocking cold Christmases.

Last year, we didn't get a white Christmas Day - but the day after was a whole other story!






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

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It was that kind of day at work ....

The kind that makes you shake your head and wonder why you ever do anyone a favor. Sometimes it only seems to come back to bite you in the butt and cause you so much grief.

But the day ended on a high note with a "twofer" in the 80 Meter Foxhunt.  I managed to snare both Dave N1IX and John K4BAI within the first 30 minutes. Sometimes it's the smaller things in life that bring the most pleasure.  Anyone outside of the Ham and QRP communities just wouldn't understand - but to me, it turned a cruddy day into a "not so bad" one.

And as if that wasn't good enough - I managed to hear and work Dallas N1DW as K6JSS/5 in Louisiana on 40 Meters. A virtual "threefer". Maybe tomorrow WILL be a better day!

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

Saturday, December 03, 2011

There's a silver lining

to every cloud. Today was a very busy day; so there was not much time to get on.  But with the little I did get on, I had fun. I managed a half hour window today between the basketball game where my daughter was cheering and an afternoon full of chores, including grocery shopping.

The half hour started by working Mike NF0N as K6JSS/0 from Nebraska on 20 Meters.  I saw him post his frequency on QRPSPOTS, and sure enough, I was able to get him in the log.  There are only two more states to go before "makeup" QSOS begin in earnest, with states who were previously missed.

After that QSO, I headed up to 10 Meters to see who might be hanging around the QRP watering hole of 28.060 MHz.  My CQs snared two 2X QRP QSOs.  The first was with Bojan S51CN from Slovenia. Bojan was running 3 Watts and had a 549 signal here in New Jersey.

Courtesy of QRZ

The next QSO was with Bill GM4UBJ in Scotland.  This QSO was a little tougher as the QRN on the band seemed to be bothersome for both of us. But I gave Bill a 439 and he in turn gave me a 529. It was neat to see ME posted on QRPSPOTS as if I were rare "DX"!

Courtesy of QRZ

Three measly QSOs isn't a lot by any means, especially to you contesting folk out there who can wrap up hundreds in the course of a weekend.  But when the opportunity for air time does not present itself so readily, any successful QSOs that you can have are worth their weight in gold and each is to be treasured like a fine pearl.

A little more evening air time netted a couple more DX contacts.  The first was with the Honduras via HR5/NQ5W on 30 Meters.  The other was with PJ5/DL7VOG, also on 30 Meters, which winds us being a new DXCC entity for me - Saba & St. Eustatius Islands. This became a new DXCC entity in October of 2010, and this was the first for me since then - although I have worked this location before, back when it was considered part of the Netherlands Antilles.

Getting on the air is so much fun - definitely not something to be taken for granted.

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

Friday, December 02, 2011

What's the buzz?

Here's the buzz - as posted on QRP-L :

"I am pleased to announce that Hendricks QRP Kits has purchased Red Hot Radio Company, owned by David Fifield, AD6A. With this purchase, I now have the exclusive rights to produce and sell all of the Red Hot Radio Kits, including the Red Hot 40, the Red Hot 20, and the SMK-1. Red Hot Radio produced some of the highest quality kits for several years, but was closed due to Dave not having the time to run the company because of his day job. Now, those kits will again be available. The first kit that I will bring back online is the Red Hot 40, and it is available for shipping now. There are 35 kits in the first run, all on 40 meters. The next kit will be the SMK-1 which will be available in about a month. I encourage you to go to the website, www.qrpkits.com and check out the manual for the Red Hot 40. The kit will sell for $250 plus shipping and handling. And the kit is in stock and available for immediate shipping. Ordering
information and a full description of the radio including the manual is available on my website: www.qrpkits.com

Scroll down and click on the picture of the Red Hot 40 to see all of the information. Thanks, Doug"


A lot of folks seem to be excited by the return of this.  We all know what I'm saving up for.  Oh, and by the way, Wayne NK6R announced on the KX3 list that they will be publishing an early draft of the owner's manual within the next week or two.  I am looking forward to that!

Lastly, Jim W1PID posted of a late fall hike up in New Hampshire - complete with beautiful scenery and pictures.  I had the pleasure of visiting the Franconia Notch in the White Mountains; but that was way back in 1979 - on a photographic vacation with a high school buddy of mine.  That really is "God's Country" up there!

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

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Noise problem still here

The 40 Meter Foxhunt is tonight and from the first moments, I had Pat KZ5J in my sights.  It was only a matter of time until I worked him as he was an honest 549/559 here.  Then the local neighborhood QRN turned up.  I was able to watch the K2s S meter go from 3 bars to full scale in a matter of a few seconds, totally blanking out Pat's signal.

If there's any money left over from the KX3 purchase, I think I am going to invest in an MFJ 1026 noise canceler.  Mike VE3WDM uses one, I believe, to get rid of heavy hydroelectric power line noise near his QTH.  Hopefully, it can do the same kind of job here.  I am getting tired of missing out on the 40 Meter Foxhunts and other evening 40 Meter operations because of a lousy faulty appliance somewhere in the neighborhood.  This seems to happen mostly in the evenings, and at random times, so I am suspecting a plasma TV or other RFI generating appliance.

45 minutes to go in the hunt.  I sure hope this "thing" gets turned off and the noise goes away; but I am not holding my breath.  Thank God for the Tuesday night 80 Meter hunts!  The noise is all but non-existent on that band.

Ken Newman N2CQ, announced today on the QRP reflectors that December will be the last month for the N2CQ QRP contest calendar.  Ken has been doing a superb job for many years.  He will be missed.  As the saying goes, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone".

Thanks for the many years of effort, Ken.

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