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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Android

I am making this brief post on a very inexpensive Android tablet that I purchased through eBay.  Not the ideal way to do this, but fun in any case.

I was amazed on finding so many Amateur Radio apps in the Google  Play Store.

I have a few installed, including Ham Log. It will be interesting to see if this tablet can be used as an effective portable ops logging device.  Reminds me of the time that I used to use a Palm Pilot for that purpose.

One concern would be that the battery life on this thing isn't all that great.  It will be fun to experiment, though.

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

New QRP operating event

A new QRP operating event will occur NEXT Saturday - October 6th from 17:00 to 21:OO UTC. It is sponsored by the 4 States QRP Group and is called the "4X4 QRP Sprint".

For particulars, please visit:
http://www.4sqrp.com/FourByFour/4%20State%204x4%20QRP%20Sprint.pdf

This was the announcement that hit the QRP e-mail reflectors:

QRPsports has a new Sprint to provide lots of fun!

The 4 State QRP Group is sponsoring the new: 4x4 QRP Sprint........4 hours and your best 4 bands! October 6, 2012......1700 to 2100 UTC

Special Bonus Points for being portable
Special Bonus Points for making a contact with a station using a HamCan
Extra Points for being a member of the 4sqrp reflector or having attended OzarkCon

More on the rules, awards, online downloadable scoring, and Bonus Points, see: http://www.4sqrp.com/4sqrpOnTheAir.php 
Scroll to the 4x4 QRP Sprint information. Its gonna be fun!

72/73....Walter - K5EST - 4x4 QRP Sprint Coordinator

I can deeply appreciate the endeavor of launching a new QRP event!  And any excuse to get outside and operate is a good one as far as I am concerned.  I hope to get out next Saturday and jump into the fray. The  AccuWeather outlook for next weekend in Central NJ is clear with daytime highs in the 60s (18C). So if that holds true, it can potentially be beautiful outdoor operating conditions.

As far as QRP events go - the more the merrier.  Please consider joining in to make the 4 States QRP Group's new event a rousing success!

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

USS Slater

At the beginning of the month, I posted about a Special Event Station - K2N, that was going to be operating from NY State aboard the USS Slater.

As luck would have it, my schedule did not permit me to get on the air that day "to give a shot" at working them.  This was a disappointment as I love working Special Event Stations, especially those that in anyway commemorate our Military or our Veterans.

Fortunately, Stan WB2LQF announced on the e-mail reflectors about a video posted to YouTube showing the day's activities.  Here it is:



On a different note, I spent the evening printing out certificates for the 2012 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.  The top five finishers, as well as the high scorers from each state or province that entered should be seeing something in their mailboxes within the next week or two.

Again - thanks to all for making this inaugural 2012 event a big success!

Lastly - ATTENTION KIT BUILDERS !!!!!!

The ARRL wants your input, as they are looking for recommendations for "easy to build" kits for first time or Newbie kit builders.  The link to the page is: http://www.arrl.org/news/attention-kit-builders-the-arrl-wants-to-hear-from-you.

I recommended the ACME QRP GC100 Gel Cell Charger Kit.  It was easy to build and is highly functional and usable.  What more could you ask for?

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Inspiration

In my links section, I have a link to W6AQ, Dave Bell's e-book, "Worlds Best Hobby".  I've mentioned the book on the blog here, before. I'd like to make a couple of points about it.

The first is that it is a WIP - a work in progress.  If you haven't visited the site in a while, you might find that Dave has added a few more chapters since you last aimed your browser his way.

That happened to me. As I read the last two "new" chapters, I became intrigued with Dave's first ARRL Film, "The Ham's Wide World". Produced in the '60s, this would have been EXACTLY the kind of film that would have started me on the journey towards my ticket. 

I'm so sorry that I never saw this film when it first came out, when I was 11 years old.  If I had, I am sure that I would now be closer towards my 45th anniversary as a Ham instead of closing in on my 35th, as I am now.

I found the movie on YouTube and am posting it here.  Event though the equipment is old and outdated, I still gleaned an eternal and timeless spark of enthusiasm and excitement while watching it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you will enjoy the nostalgia also.


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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt results

Are finally done - thanks for bearing with me!

Spreadsheet of scores: http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%203

Soapbox comments: http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%204

Main Skeeter Hunt page: http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/

Thanks to the NJQRP for sponsoring and thank you to all who participated. Special thanks to those of you who sent in Log Summaries and Soapbox comments and photos.

There WILL be a 2013 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt!  Stay tuned to the QRP e-mail reflectors and this blog for an announcement around the beginning of May 2013.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beautiful Autumn Day

The weather was sunny, and mild - not hot. A gorgeous Autumn day with crisp, blues skies and big, puffy white clouds.  We spent the early afternoon picking apples at a nearby "pick your own" orchard.  We got some great looking Red and Golden Delicious, Winesap, Jonathan and Macintosh apples.  Probably about 15 pounds of apples all told. Great snacks for a person (yours truly) who has sworn off junk food in an effort to drop some poundage.

After returning home, I spent some time on the radio and worked some DX as the bands were open. 20,17, 15 and 12 Meters were active and I even heard some stations on 10 Meters, too. I managed to snare the following:

PA6XX on 15 Meters
PA3FQA on 12 Meters
S57DX on 17 Meters
EA8DO on 12 Meters.

I heard a ZL1 station on 10 Meters; but from listening, it was apparent he was running QRO and was only about 569/579 here and there was quite a pileup.  Getting him in the log would have been nice, and I gave a few tries; but decided that hanging around too long was not going to bear fruit.  As the song says, "You've got know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em."  And sometimes you do "just know" when it's not going to work, and sometimes perseverance also means "not today; but some other time".

I also worked two stateside stations. One was Terry WA0ITP, on 20 Meters, who was working portable from Pioneer Ridge County Park near Ottumwa, Iowa.  Terry self posted onto QRPSPOTS and sure enough, I was able to get into his log.  That was fun, as I consider Terry to be one of the better known QRPers and it's always a delight to work a QRP "celebrity".

QRPSPOTS is (if you're not already familiar) a QRP Spotting site, sponsored by the Four States QRP Group..  QRPers who are going portable will often spot themselves in advance of their outing in order to let everyone know that they are active in the field.  There are a lot of spots posted for SOTA activities and many QRPers will spot juicy DX that they have been able to work with low power.  Nothing like spreadin' the wealth, man!  QRPSPOTS is a boon to QRPers and many thanks to the Four States QRP Group for the service they make available to us.

The other QSO was after dinner with Adam N0SSS who answered my CQ on 20 Meters. Adam is a younger Ham (relatively speaking) at 32 years of age and only 4 years as a Ham.  But I have a feeling that Adam will go a long ways in the QRP world.  He was using his KX1 at 2 Watts with a Moxon antenna that he built himself this summer.  When he turned the antenna so that I was in his sites, his signal went from 559 to 599+.  We had a very enjoyable chat that lasted for over a half an hour.  I sure hope we run into each other again sometime.

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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oopsy!

Forgot a score.  And it affects the Top Ten - mea culpa, mea culpa. mea maxima culpa!

My apologies to Pete W1PNS who came in with a score of 4620 - so let me rephrase this .....

The Top 11 Finishers

KXØR - 11984 points
NØSS - 5840 points
NK9G - 5520 points
K9DXA - 5016 points
W1PNS - 4620 points
W4QO - 3760 points
W2LJ - 3672 points
WGØAT - 3268 points
K4UPG - 2320 points
AF40 - 2025 points
AD4S - 2016 points

Golly gee, and Pete went to so much trouble to post niceness about the Skeeter Hunt on his blog and I went and left him out - truly and purely accidentally with no malice a forethought.

Thanks, Pete, for being so understanding.  I'll get the hang of this yet, I promise!

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

Friday, September 21, 2012

2012 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Results

Are in!  Well, partly that is!

I have yet to post the Soapbox pictures and comments - that WILL be completed by the end of the weekend, God willing and the creek don't rise.  But for a spreadsheet of the scores, you can visit - http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%203

123 of you signed up for Skeeter numbers and there were a number of non-Skeeter participants (how many exactly, is known only to God). 45 logs were received, so I am going to very roughly guesstimate and hope that was maybe a 25% log submission rate.  Not bad for our first year, I guess!

The Top 10 Finishers

KXØR - 11984 points
NØSS - 5840 points
NK9G - 5520 points
K9DXA - 5016 points
W4QO - 3760 points
W2LJ - 3672 points
WGØAT - 3268 points
K4UPG - 2320 points
AF40 - 2025 points
AD4S - 2016 points

But in my book, all who participated were #1 Finishers.

Special kudos to NØSS, NE5DL,K4UPG, and ACØXR who fashioned homebrewed keys just for the Skeeter hunt.

I had a blast putting this together, operating in it and now tallying up the results.  A very, very special "Thank You" goes out to the NJQRP Club, especially George N2APB and Joe N2CX for lending "Big Name" sponsorship for this event.

I will announce on this venue when the Soapbox page is done - I hope that will be by Sunday evening.  And yes, Virginia, this year's Skeeter Hunt was enough of a success where there will be a 2013 version.  Any suggestions you might have towards improving the event will be entertained - please send me a private e-mail.  I am considering opening up a SSB category next year to encourage those who feel that CW is not their thing.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Skeeter Hunt results delay

I had intended to post the 2012 Skeeter Hunt results last weekend; but alas, some family stuff has come up which has taken away my discretionary free time.

Results will be posted this coming weekend on the Skeeter Hunt page of my blog and at  http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/

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


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Whither "DE" ???

Listening to some QSOs on 30 and 40 Meters tonight, I have noticed an increasingly less usage of "DE".

VERY often, I seem to be hearing (for instance) "W2WK W2LJ" instead of "W2WK DE W2LJ".

Was "DE" tossed out the window?  Did I not receive the memo?  I know it's gone by the wayside in contests. Lord knows, the hour and a half it takes to send two letters will really cut down on the ol' QSO per Hour rate.  But in casual rag chews?

Call me a curmudgeon, call me old fashioned, but I'll stop using "DE" when I stop using my rotary phone, my 5.5" floppy disks, my Smith Corona typewriter and stop wearing my spats.

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

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A beautiful day!

I got up this morning for my daily walk - well, actually, I don't do a daily walk, anymore.  Saturday and Sunday, I get up early and go for a walk. Monday through Friday, I spend a half hour on my elliptical machine in the basement - but I digress.

I woke up this morning to the beginnings of a beautiful day!  Yesterday was positively tropical, hot and humid, with the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes all day. One minute it would be sunny, the next it was dark and threatening. While other areas in the North East were not so lucky, I praise God, that in South Plainfield, all we got was some really heavy rain from about 5:00 to 6:00 PM yesterday evening.  After that, the temperatures dropped, dry air moved in and you can honestly say that today is one of the "Ten Best of the Year".

Weather issues aside, the object of this post is to relate that I did something yesterday that I have not done in a very long time - about 9 years to be exact.

I made a contact using SSB.



Yes, I know - totally out of character; but I did it and surprised myself in the process.  After mowing the lawn yesterday, I had a little bit of down time, so I went down to the shack to spend a little bit of quality time behind the rig.  Alas, 12 Meters, 15 Meters and 17 Meters were a vast wasteland.  20 Meters was not bad; but had very little activity in the CW portion of the band.  So I decided to switch the K3 over to USB, and went "up" the bad to see if perhaps there were any special event stations doing their thing.

Didn't hear any of those, either.  But I was hearing a lot of loud European stations working the WAE contest. So I thought to myself, "I wonder if one might hear me ........ hmmmmm".  I twiddled the dial looking for a particularly loud one - there were a good number of them.  Then I heard a call sign that sounded interesting - 3Z2X.  AC log informed me that it was Poland.  All the better, the country that my ancestors came from!

Using my noodle, I pumped the K3 up to 10 Watts - still QRP by definition (I may be a little crazy; but I'm not insane - SSB and QRO? No way!). Then, I picked up that funny looking little box that you speak into - I think it's called a microphone and pressed the button thingy on the side.  Announced my call sign and actually heard him call me back!  I gave the contest exchange, got his and then sat there kind of amazed.  10 Watts via SSB all the way to Poland - and he heard me!  We spoke to each other, exchanged information and said good-bye. It worked. I was amazed.

I made a few more and it was fun but it wasn't enough to convert me from being a dyed-in-the-wool CW op.  But it did hold out hope for me that, in the future, I may be able to work Special Event stations that choose not to have CW as one of the modes that they employ.  It also encouraged me to maybe dip a toe into the pool when the QRP-ARCI holds their annual QRP SSB Sprint.  I never participated in one of those before.  This year just might be different.

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

Friday, September 07, 2012

A must read!

If you are a QRPer and are serious about it, especially when it comes to working DX or participating in the QRP Fox hunts (or any radio contest, for that matter) then the following IS A MUST READ.

http://www.ae5x.com/blog/2012/09/07/from-sardine-sender-to-dxcc-honor-roll-in-10-years-qrp/

This post on John AE5X's blog, is an absolute gem.  I have rarely read posts that are more pragmatic, to the point, that are dead on and hit the ball over the wall.

Pay particular attention to the passage that begins with, "There is a common misconception that the heavy lifting in a QSO containing a QRPer is done by the non-QRP station" and then ends with, "rather than using a strategy, are simply calling on unproven frequencies within the split range, thereby eliminating themselves as valid competitors."

This part is what I consider to be the "meat and potatoes" of this post, and I can think of no better words of wisdom to impart upon ANY Ham, let alone a budding QRPer.

John, thanks so much for writing this and sharing it with the radio and QRP community.  Words to live by!

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

Thursday, September 06, 2012

TALARC

A tip o' the cap and a smart salute to NS8R for making me aware of The American Legion Amateur Radio Club.

http://www.legion.org/hamradio


If you're a US Armed Forces veteran and belong to the American Legion - please be sure to check it out.  It looks really, really nice.

Oh, and if you're a veteran and a Legion member or VFW member, or not a member of any organization at all - thanks for your service!

On another note, QRP DXing can be a mixed bag.  Some days, when the band conditions are right, it can be like shooting fish in a barrel. Other days, when the bands and the sun are not very cooperative, it can be akin to having a root canal.  But either way, it's fun. Hey, even trying for "the one that got away" is more fun than being at work!

But I really have to give credit to my brother and sister QRPers who go about it using SSB.  They have just that smidge more of patience and endurance than most of us. Sometimes, it seems like it just can't be done - but here's proof that it can.



Thanks, John K7HV for posting to YouTube.

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

Monday, September 03, 2012

New one

Worked a new one for me.

I heard 5N7M from Nigeria on 30 Meters and it took a little doing; but I got an answer for my efforts. Nigeria is a new one for me - never worked 'em before - via QRP.

This brings me up to (I believe) 112 DXCC entities worked via QRP and somewhere in the neighborhood of 138 DXCC entities worked over all.  I really have to do a serious recap accounting one of these days.

As hot as 12 Meters was on Saturday, the bands seemed pretty crummy yesterday and today. And that was matched by the weather here in Central NJ.  I participated, along with my CERT Team, in providing communications for the South Plainfield Annual Labor Day Parade and got downpoured on twice. And like the Ham that I am, I was more concerned about the radios getting wet than me! Fortunately, that was quite early in the morning; and by the time the parade kicked off, it was only overcast, with no precipitation.

Our annual fireworks display should kick off in about an hour and a half, really signalling the end of summer.  While it's been a pretty crummy year so far, personally, I still hate to see summer come to an end.  It's my most favorite season of all.  But the nights are getting longer; and the maple in the back yard is already starting to shed its first leaves.

Time stands still for no man.

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

Special Event station coming up

From the KX3 e-mail reflector (posted today). And this sounds very interesting:

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

Just a note to advertise a Special Event Station scheduled for 1600 UTC to 2400 UTC on 19 September 2012 - a hairbrained scheme launched too late to meet the printed matter deadlines.

Further details at www.qrz.com under call sign K2N. Bottom line: An eight (8) hour QRP CW-only special event aboard the only floating American WW II destroyer escort in the world that has been restored to its original 1945 wartime condition. We will operate two - possibly three - barefoot Elecraft KX3 transceivers and our antennas will consist of the authentically restored maritime verticals and horizontal wires. That means 70 and 80 foot wire verticals on the port and starboard sides; 100 and 190 foot long wires running amidships toward the fantail. We've already run a test and the KX3 internal ATU loads to 1:1 with no complaints whatsover on 40 through 6 meters inclusive. Our counterpoise is to die for -- a 1200 ton navy warship floating in the Hudson River at the Port of Albany, New York.

If everything goes according to plan, we also expect to have pre-production versions of the new Begali "Adventure" paddle to field test. Two iambic paddles and one non-iambic mono version. The "Adventure" is designed to mate directly with the KX3 - or - sit in its base for use with any other transceiver.

So, if you are interested in working an historic ship then please mark your calendar as per www.qrz.com. We will QSL as per www.qrz.com with a nice postcard of the USS Slater (DE-766). 

73, Stan WB2LQF www.wb2lqf.com

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

That's the middle of the week - on a Wednesday.  But they will run until 8:00 PM that evening, so I stand a chance after getting home from work.  I would like to nab this one!

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