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!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday - Resurrection Sunday

 Good Friday - "It is finished."


Easter Sunday - It is just beginning.


"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."

He is truly risen - Alleluia!  For this is the day the Lord has made, may all in Heaven and on Earth rejoice and be glad!

A most Blessed and Happy Easter to all.

Larry W2LJ


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Picked up one of these today

It's called the Music Bullet.


It's a little portable speaker that was designed to be used with laptops, iPods, iPads, MP3 players, etc.

I saw this on the "As Seen on TV" shelf that my local A&P Supermarket has.  In the back of my mind, I remember seeing the TV commercial for this, some time back.  Going online, I see they are still available for $19.99 "plus shipping and handling" (translated, "This is REALLY where we make our money")  I got mine for $10 and no shipping and handling.  I figured it would work well with the KX3.  It's very small and extends if you desire extra bass response - which I guess is not critical for CW work.


It has a small, built in amplifier, so it needs and has a rechargeable battery. The battery is charged via a USB port.  The box says that one charge provides seven hours of continuing listening capability.  What I really like about this little speaker, though, can be seen in the top picture. The cord is retractable, just like a tape measure.  And the plug fits right into the molded cover to which it is attached, for even more protection while not being used.

I plugged it into the KX3 tonight and it seems to work just fine.  I don't need "kickin' bass", just something that will allow me to hear the KX3 when I do not wish to use ear buds.  Let's face it, the KX3's built in tiny speaker is not the best.  This is small, very portable, sounds decent enough and seems to do a good job.  If it were $19.99, I think I probably would have passed - but for $10.00, it was a good deal.

The CW portions of the bands were dead tonight. I guess everyone is pre-occupied with the CQ WW WPX SSB contest.  I worked HI3LFE in the Dominican Republic on 30 Meters; but other than Lorenzo, I didn't hear much activity at all on any of the CW sub-bands.

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

QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party Next Weekend!

From the QRP ARCI Website:

Saturday 6 April 2013, 1200z - Sunday 7 April 2013, 2359z

This is one of the “Big Ones” !

The Spring QSO Party and the Fall QSO Party are the two most popular QRP ARCI Contests. This contest is also a very good way for you to increase your QSO totals if you are involved with the 2013 QRP ARCI operating event known as 'The QRP Challenge' where the goal is to work at least 100 QRP ARCI club members to qualify for The BIG 13 Award. You can also use the Spring QSO Party to increase your QRP totals for various QRP ARCI Awards.  Or you can just get on the air and have some fun whether you’re a serious competitor or a casual participant the Spring QSO Party is for you !

You can enter as an all band, single band, high band or low band station and then pick the antenna and power category that matches your personal setup and compete with similar equipped stations around the country and around the world.

Read the complete rules and get on the air for the Spring QSO Party !

Thanks to Hank N8XX for posting the reminder!

I am so glad about this!  It seems like the last few years, the Spring QSO Party has fallen on Easter weekend.  I may actually get to participate this year.

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

Holy Saturday



Like all the Christian faithful ...... we wait.

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. -from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday


Larry W2LJ

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday


Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.  But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

A very Blessed and Peace filled Good Friday to all.

Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Frustration X2

In honor of Holy Week, I will be charitable and not refer to certain ops the way I might normally be so inclined.

I had two nice rag chews on 40 Meters busted up by inconsiderate ops.  The first QSO was with Howard K4LXY.  This was a 2X QRP QSO. Howard was using his KX1 and I was using my KX3. We were going at it pretty well until a certain W2 station (I will refrain form posting the suffix, although I certainly made note of it) came on frequency and called CQ right on top of us. Before that, another station came on frequency, but had the decency to "QRL?" and politely moved when he discovered that there was a QSO in progress.  Unfortunately, this W2 station didn't bother with such niceties.

The second QSO was with Hank K1PUG.  Hank had answered my CQ, which I sent AFTER listening to the frequency to make sure it wasn't being used AND after sending a "QRL?" with no response. Our QSO was evolving into a rather nice discussion about the Ten Tec equipment that Hank was using.  Again, this chat was going nicely until some digital mode (not familiar with the sound enough to know which mode it was) user came on and just put the complete kibosh on things. For crying out loud, we were on 7.035 MHz.  Can't digital stations stay above 7.060 MHz? It's bad enough when they practically come down to the Extra portion of the band on contest weekends. Can't they leave CW ops in peace during a weeknight?

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon OF ...... back in the 90's when I was doing A LOT of digital mode work, we made sure to stay above 7.060 MHz on 40 Meters - EVEN during contest weekends.  Has civility been completely thrown out the window?  Man, I hate sounding like some bitter old man; but now I think I can begin to understand how they get that way.

Anyway, I jumped on over to 30 Meters to escape the madness and worked HC1MD/HC2, Dr. Rick Dorsch in Ecuador.  Rick is operating from the Fallaron Dillon Lighthouse through Friday, according to his QRZ page.


Although Dr. Rick was 599 here, I didn't know whether or not to expect that I was going to be able to get him with QRP.  For some reason, I don't always have the best of luck working South American stations.  I guess maybe my antennas don't radiate all that well in that direction.  But I did indeed, work Dr. Rick with 5 Watts with the 88' EDZ antenna.  According to the QRZ page, Dr. Rick was using a Yaesu FT-857D at 100 Watts to an Outbacker vertical.  When I read that after our QSO, I was even more impressed! I wonder if he's an ear doctor, because he has to have a good pair of ears to have picked me out of the pack!

And so ends my night.  Have to turn in so I can get up and go to work tomorrow.  But Friday is a day off as it's Good Friday.  The bad news is that W3BBO e-mailed me today to inform me that the Easter Island DXpedition ceased operations today.  Another one missed!

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Piece o' cake (almost)

I was fortunate enough to work both 40 Meter QRP-L Foxes tonight.  Jimmy WA4ILO and Jerry N9AW are superb operators, both with good ears, so that had a lot to do with it.  But I used the KX3 tonight and that made it all the easier.

The "Dual Watch" feature is something else, and makes working split a snap!  You go into the KX3's menu until you get to "Dual RX" and you turn it from "Off" to "Auto". What happens next is that you hear your quarry on VFO A in your right earbud.  VFO B is heard in your left earbud, so you can tune around VFO B until you hear the Hound the Fox is currently working.  Once you know where the Fox is listening, it's just a matter of time!  The only caveat is that the Dual Watch feature will only work with splits less than 1.5 kHz.

Anyway, I nabbed Jerry N9AW at 0106 UTC, six minutes into the hunt, and Jimmy WA4ILO at 0139. For the last hour, I was just listening to the two Foxes work my friends.

The past few days, I have been getting very few e-mails.  I subscribe to quite a few QRP e-mail reflectors and I was wondering what was up.  I thought that maybe it had something to do with that Microsoft / arrl.net thing that was going on last week, as I always use my arrl.net address for e-mail.

This evening, I checked my Web-based Verizon e-mail page.  Everything was in the spam, folder!  All the spam was in there; but also a ton of good e-mails, too! For the longest time, Verizon's e-mail spam filter was doing an excellent job and I never really had to give it a second thought.  Looks like for the next while that I am going to have to regularly check the spam folder until the e-mail client "learns" what is spam and what is not.

I got an e-mail from my good friend Bob W3BBO, telling me that he was fortunate to work the Easter Island DXpedition on both 12 and 15 Meters today.  I haven't had much luck hearing them loud enough to work them, and when they have been loud enough - they have been calling for EU stations only.  I don't know how much longer they are going to be there; but I do have this Friday (Good Friday) off; so maybe when I'm not in church, I just may get an opportunity.  I've worked Chile many times, both QRP and QRO, but I have NEVER worked Easter Island.  It would be appropriate to work them this week, wouldn't it?

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Passover 2013


A most happy and joyful Passover to all my friends and readers who celebrate it.  
Pesach Sameah!

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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

6V7S

I managed to break the pileup on 40 Meters tonight to work Vlad in Senegal for a new band. This makes for contacts now on 40, 20, 17 and 12 Meters, all via QRP. I also worked Vlad once on 20 Meters with QRO power, think it was 85 Watts.

Spring must be on the way though, as the band was super noisy tonight. Lots of QRN made it tough for two QRP rag chews (2X KX3 QSOs, by the way) that I had earlier in the evening. There were static crashes galore! Someone must have been getting some pretty bad thunderstorms.

20 Meters was decent this afternoon, as I was able to work SP6CEW in my ancestral country, Poland. I was also able to work S57KW in Slovenia.

When I spoke with Bob W3BBO on Echo link this afternoon, he told me that he had pretty good success on 17 Meters today. When I was tuning the bands this afternoon, 17, 15 and 12 Meters sounded pretty sparse to me with very few loud signals.

Tomorrow, we are forecast for more snow. Hopefully, it won't be much. In any event, the ground has had a chance to warm up, so any snow that falls should melt pretty quickly. Spring officially began a few days ago, but it sure hasn't felt like it.

One of my first radio goals for 2013 is to get about another couple dozen radials down for the HF9V. My Butternut is my "go to" antenna, so it will not be wasted effort. I want to get them down early, so that come late May or early June, they will have disappeared into the grass.

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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Mo' Time !

Fox Hunter’s Code of Conduct

I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
I will only call if I can copy the Fox station properly (so that I will know for certain that he is calling me and no one else).
I will not interfere with the Fox station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the Fox frequency or in the QSX slot.
I will double check to make sure I am operating split, if necessary.
I will use full break-in if at all possible.
I will wait for the Fox station to end a contact before I call.
I will always send my full call sign.
I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
I will not transmit when the Fox station calls another call sign, not mine.
I will not transmit when the Fox station queries a call sign not like mine.
When the Fox station calls me, I will send only the required exchange of RST – S/P/C – Name – Power out
I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
I will resort to attempting duplicate contacts only if I am very certain that I was not heard the first time.
I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Are you married ........?


The other day, I received a request from Terry WA0ITP, to post the monthly Run For the Bacon announcements on the Four States QRP Group e-mail reflector.  It would seem that quite a few “Four Stater’s” have built Pig Rigs and want to be kept abreast of when RFTB is held.  So I went about the process of joining the Yahoo group and subscribing to the e-mail reflector.  I was approved and started receiving e-mails yesterday.

Immediately, one hit my eye.  It’s entitled “QRP till death do you part?”, and it was written by Gust ON6KE

The premise of the post is, that in addition to all your QRP only gear, you own a 100 Watt rig, or perhaps a barefoot rig and an amplifier.  At the same time, a DXpedition is underway to Tromelin, Peter I, Kerguelen, or some other very exotic place that has not been on the air for years (and perhaps might not be on again for many more years). If you have never worked that entity before, do you:

 1)      Try to work them QRP until they’re just about ready to pack their bags, and then if unsuccessful, go all out with everything you have?

2)      Try to work them QRP for a few days or a week perhaps, and then if unsuccessful, go QRO (well before the departure time draws near)?

Gust ends his post by saying, “I guess this question is about how “fanatic” one is about QRP”.

Interesting question to say the least! In my head, I guess I would add another possibility:

3)      Try to work them QRO and get them in the log and THEN try to work them QRP at another time, before they leave?

Personally, my primary interest (my passion, if you will) in Amateur Radio is QRP and CW.  If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that. I have been interested in and have dabbled in QRP since I was licensed as a Novice in 1978. I joined QRP ARCI back in 1979, back when QRP was considered to be 100 Watts or less.  I became a “QRP only” station, under the current understanding of the term, in 2003.  From 2003 to 2013 (Wow, 10 years!), I have not had a rig that was capable of going past QRP levels (OK, my K2 could go up to about 15-20 Watts – that’s technically not QRP, but it ain’t QRO, either!).

But since my Novice days, I have also been drawn to working DX.  I’ve worked my share of DX with 5 Watts or less, enough to earn the ARRL’s QRP DXCC award.  There have been many DXCC entities where the only way I have worked them is with QRP, but I’ve also had many, many disappointments.  There have been many times during that ten year period where I limited myself to 5 Watts only, where I failed to get a DX station or a DXpedition in the log, even though I tried until the cows came home.

I would consider myself to be fan and aficionado of QRP, but not a foaming-at-the-mouth QRP “fanatic”, where it’s QRP and CW to the exclusion of everything else.  I am enough of a DXer NOT to marry myself to the idea that using something more than 5 Watts is heresy.  That’s why I went and sold my K2, so that I could purchase the KPA3, 100 Watt module for my K3.  For the first time in a long time, I have been able to increase my power in order to work DXCC entities that I have never worked before.  This just bore fruit a few weeks ago when I worked Egypt SU9VB for the very first time in my Amateur Radio career, and I did it using 85 Watts.

And that’s why I would subscribe to possibility number 3, above.  For instance, if I’m fortunate enough to hear Spratly loud enough to even attempt to work them before they leave?  Like any other DXer, I am going to be there with my 100 Watts trying to break that pileup and get them in the log, Baby!  But once they’re in there –  I just might try to work them again (not the same sitting) with 5 Watts only.  I am also enough of a practical QRP DXer to want to be able to claim that I got them with low power, too.

In the end though, you have to go with what works for you.  What works for me, may not work for you.  Amateur Radio is a big enough tent where opposite slogans such as “Life’s too short for QRP”  and “Quit Running Power” are cute; but really have no place.  There’s room for every thing and every one.  If there’s one bit of advice that I would subscribe to, it would be “Life is too short to pigeon hole yourself”.  Or as Cicero said, ”Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide”.

I have done QRP, I have done QRO, I have done CW, I have done SSB, I have done Digital, I have done HF, I have done VHF/UHF, I have done satellites – they were ALL fun.

I would still like to do more satellites and some PSK31, I would love to try meteor scatter and EME, someday.  I would LOVE to have a tower and a yagi someday. There’s so much to try and do – don’t cheat yourself! Amateur Radio is like being at a sumptuous buffet, it’s perfectly fine to try a little bit of everything!

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

             


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Decent DX Day


I was piddling around on the bands today.  Since there were a lot of contests going on, and I did not feel like participating, I exiled myself to the WARC bands - 30, 17 and 12 Meters.

There was enough DX to be had and I worked just about all of it QRP.

On 12 Meters, I worked Andy SP9KR. There was a lot of QSB there, and I'm not 1000% that he got my call right.  So at the very end, when I sent my call sign for the very last time, I bumped up my power to 55 Watts  (for insurance) but I'm not sure that even then that I was heard correctly.

On 17 Meters I worked Serge R7AY in Russia.  After our QSO and I got Serge's info in my log, I heard him continue to call CQ.  So I spotted him on the TelNet Cluster. Almost immediately, as he was working other stations I heard him send "W2LJ TNX SPOT".  I guess he had his computer on! I thought that was so cool.  You're very welcome Serge, I hope it brought you lots of DX!

I also worked OT4A in Belgium and GW100C in Wales.  Of course the GW100C call stuck out like a sore thumb.  After working him, I looked up the call on QRZ and it turns out that GW100C is one of several UK HQ team members of the RSGB.  These calls, GW100C, GM100C, GD100C, G100C, GJ100C are meant to be used by the HQ members so that they get practice in learning how to handle pileups for when they are taking their turns as G100RSGB, GW100RSGB, GM100RSGB, etc - the RSGB Centennial Stations.

On 30 Meters, I was able to work PJ7/N0TG and PJ7AA, both on Sint Maarten. J34G in Grenada who has excellent ears - and as it turns out, an FOC member, so no surprise there.

The last station that I worked for the day was Ivin 5N7M in Nigeria.  I ended up having to bump up the power to 85 Watts to work Ivin.  I was getting nowhere with 5 Watts and it actually took a fair amount of doing to get noticed at 85 Watts.  The pile up wasn't fierce, so I have no idea what the problem was, although for this QSO, the EDZ ended up being the antenna that worked.  I have worked Nigeria before with QRP power, but not on 30 Meters.  Nigeria was new for me on that band.

Geez, it almost sounds like I'm starting to pay attention to 5BDXCC matters!

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

And people think I'm nuts!

A hat tip to the AWT blog for this one!



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

Enough to drive you batty!

I wasn't going to post about this; but I'm sitting here and have a few moments while I wait for my daughter to call. She's on a Girl Scout field trip to the NJ State Police Training Academy.  The girls should be back at the troop leader's house in about an hour to 90 minutes, so I have some time to kill before going to pick her up. And I'm too tired to go downstairs and turn the rig on. Just got back from our Church's Friday Lenten Fish Fry. I'm part of the clean up crew and there were only four of us this week, to clean up after 400 fish dinners were served. To say I am beat is an understatement.

Last night I participated in the 80 Meter QRP-L Fox hunt. The Foxes were Paul AA4XX in North Carolina and TJ WØEA in Iowa.  I was able to hear them both well, and work them both - Paul was pretty much 599 the entire evening.  TJ started out ESP but was also 599 before the night wore on too long.

They both started at 0100 UTC and were doing quite well, running the packs of baying hounds in an orderly manner.  But I felt really bad for Paul as he had to QSY a couple of times during the 90 minute session.  Why?  Because someone would start calling up a net right on top of him.  

OK, OK ...... I understand that Paul was a QRP station running 5 Watts and the Net Control Station may not have heard him. But no "QRL?" - not even one?  I was there when this started, and yes, the frequency might have sounded empty to the NCS - but that is never, never, never, NEVER an excuse for ANY station to start transmitting without double checking to see if the frequency is in use.

It's good operating practice and it's good manners.

I was on Facebook with some of the other Hounds after the hunt and brought this up.  TJ WØEA asked me, "You're going to blog about this, aren't you?"  (My friends know me so well.)

My answer to him was that I didn't plan on it as I have beaten this dead horse over and over again. But it bears repeating, even though I might be reported for harming this poor horsie.

Good operating practice and manners will only rule the day if we make it a point to make them rule the day.

There's no excuse for being a Lid - NCS or not.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scorch Your Butt Off

Yes - you've read it correctly. I am speaking of scorching your hind quarters off even as we haven't officially made it through Winter yet.

Scorch Your Butt Off is the Summer time answer to Freeze Your Butt Off, a brandy new for 2013 outdoor QRP operating event.  The concept is the brain child of Rem K6BBQ, of QRP portable recumbent tricycle fame.  You've seen Rem's videos, you know how dedicated he is.


Rem was concerned that the BUBBA contest had gone by the wayside. Being the courteous Ham that he is, Rem contacted the Arizona ScQRPions and asked if they'd mind if he organized and ran something to take its place.  He didn't want to step on anyone's toes.  So when he got the "knock yourself out" e-mail, SYBO was born.

It will take place on Saturday July 20th.  Rules can be found here.

So now, all you rabid outdoor QRPers have three great "under the sun" fun events to look forward to this Summer (as if you needed an excuse to get oudoors!)- Scorch Your Butt Off, the Flight of the Bumblebees, and the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.  Three perfect opportunities to put into action all the great gear you've built over the Winter!

It's a good thing Spring is coming - I can hardly wait for these!

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

DX Code of Conduct

This post will deal with a phenomena that is occurring more and more frequently, I believe.  But it hasn’t been noticed by me alone, it was also noticed by Jim K9JV, who posted about it on QRP-L this morning.  I touched upon this  in my recent post about pile up behavior; however,  this is a very important topic, so here we go again.

Jim was trying to work both P29NO and 9M4SLL.  The pileups were big and unruly.  While it is the domain of the DX to try and control the pileups, it remains the responsibility of those trying to work the DX to do so in as “professional” a manner as possible.  Jim pointed out that several stations continued to throw out their calls, even though the quarry was clearly calling for a station whose call was in no way similar to those of the perpetrators.

This is maddening!  K9JV was furious (and justifiably so) that when  P29NO was calling “K9?V”, a KØ, a VE and a W2 kept plaguing the aether with their calls.  I had a similar experience a few years ago when I was trying to work an Iraqi station.  I was one of those competing in the pileup, and the Iraqi station suddenly began sending “W2L?”   He meant yours truly of course, yet I was obliterated by a W4 station, and no, it wasn’t a W4Lsomething (I could have accepted that) – the station didn’t even have an “L” in their call at all!  Jim was lucky as he ended up working P29NO. In my case, the Iraqi station subsequently went QRT and I never got him in the log.

What causes this kind of behavior?  Are people truly that stupid and discourteous?  I don’t know the answer to that, although I am tempted to offer an unfounded and uncharitable guess.

But I think part of the problem may lay in the way that I think DX is encountered today.  At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, in the days of old, we used to find DX by twiddling the dial and listening for it.  You spun the dial knob, up and down – back and forth, straining your ears to find that foreign amateur radio op.  If you were lucky, you were able to hear him, you worked him and you were good to go.  Or you listened for a pileup, and you located the station they were all calling, determined if you needed him, and then you joined the fray.  But in essence, YOU had to locate the DX station yourself, either by dial twiddling or by locating the goal of a pileup.

Today, things have gotten immensely easier; but at the same time, we have invoked “The Law of Unintended Consequences”.  Allow me to explain with this scenario:

A station twiddles the dial – he finds and hears (for example, we’ll use a DXpedition that just concluded) TX5K.  He works him.  Then, proud of his accomplishment, he posts TX5K to the Internet (in the days of old, the PacketCluster), wishing to share the bounty. Immediately, on the screens of Amateur Ops the world over, it appears that TX5K has appeared on 18.073 MHz (for example).

Nowadays, with the myriad of the logging programs and rig control programs available, an Amateur Op can just point and click with his mouse and “Viola!” there they are, on TX5K’s frequency.

I think the problem is, that many (but by nowhere near all) ops don’t pause to listen to hear if they can actually hear TX5K.  Or may be they can, but they hear him only marginally at best.  In fact, they hear him so marginally that if they were tuning across the band on their own, they wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was TX5K in the first place – but hey, their computers tell them that he’s there, right?  So what do they do?  They start throwing out their calls in the hopes that somehow he’ll magically get louder and that they’ll be heard in return.  Heck, in many cases they can’t even tell that he’s working split!  So they call right on the listening frequency, which then invokes the ensuing cacophony of “UP”s and “LID”s being sent.

It gets to be one, big frustrating mess.  And this doesn’t even take into account the zoo that can occur if some quack, who literally enjoys jamming DX operations, gets involved.

So what should be done about this?  Closely and completely adhere to the “DX Code of Conduct” – that’s what!

The DX Code of Conduct was formulated by Randy Johnson W6SJ.  You can read about it here.

I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
I will not trust the DX cluster and will be sure of the DX station's call sign before calling.
I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot.
I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call.
I will always send my full call sign.
I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine.
I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign not like mine.
I will not transmit when the DX station requests geographic areas other than mine.
When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.
I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.

Having wonderful tools at your disposal does not abrogate your responsibility to operate in an unselfish manner. You must still be courteous to your fellow Hams.

I am so taken by this credo, that I am posting the DX Code of Conduct badge on the side of this blog, to be a reminder to myself and others.

Oh, and QRP Fox hunters …… your situation is a bit different, so let’s adapt these:

Fox Hunter’s Code of Conduct

I will listen, and listen, and then listen again before calling.
I will only call if I can copy the Fox station properly.
I will not interfere with the Fox station nor anyone calling and will never tune up on the Fox frequency or in the QSX slot.
I will use full break-in if at all possible.
I will wait for the Fox station to end a contact before I call.
I will always send my full call sign.
I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
I will not transmit when the Fox station calls another call sign, not mine.
I will not transmit when the Fox station queries a call sign not like mine.
When the Fox station calls me, I will send ONLY the required exchange of RST – S/P/C – Name – Power out
I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
I will resort to attempting duplicate contacts only if I am very certain that I was not heard the first time.
I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.

If we all do these things, life on the bands can be much more pleasant.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

10 Meters was nice today

I got the chance to get on the air for a short time this afternoon. I took the opportunity to spin the dial around the 10 Meter band.  Around the 28.200 MHz neighborhood, I heard beacons from Mexico, Brazil and British Columbia in Canada.  Encouraged that the band might be open, I continued my spin.

In the CW portion of the band, I was able to work CT1IUA with 5 Watts.  He was 599 and I received a 559 in return.  After that, for the heck of it, I traveled all the way up to the SSB portion of the band.  Here, I heard CT1EHI booming into NJ.  Again, for the heck of it, I pumped up the power to 10 Watts and gave him a call.  He answered me!  When he found out that I was in New Jersey, Marco asked me if I knew where Flemington is.  Heck, it's about 10 - 15 miles down the highway from where I work.  Marco informed me that he has some friends that live there, and in fact he's gone to Dayton with them a few times.

I don't do so much in the way of QRP SSB as CW has always been my first love.  It's gratifying, though, to make a SSB contact using only 10 Watts and it's even more gratifying when that contact is overseas.  Marco  gave me a 5X7 signal report, too - not too shabby!  You have to absolutely love 10 Meters when it's open - pure magic!

15 Meters was also open and I had a nice "chew" with N5XE, Carl in Oklahoma who answered my CQ.  I also had a quick QSO with OX3XR, David in Greenland.  I've worked David twice before, once on 12 Meters and once on 20 Meters, so this was a new band for me for Greenland.

On 17 Meters (I was doing a bit of band hopping) I ran into and worked OJØH/MM again.  Last time I worked them, they were travelling the Caribbean.  I have no idea where they were located this time.  They were not as strong as they were last time; but not sure whether that was due to location or just how the propagation was.

When the bands are open and propagation is good - the most fun hobby in the world becomes even more so.

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

Friday, March 08, 2013

The good and the not so good.

Last night, while hunting in the 80 Meter woods in the QRP-L Fox hunt, I continued to work on my PigRig.  I came to the part where I am winding T1, and I guess I had a case of brain flatulence, because I just couldn't figure out from the instructions, how the center tap was supposed to be done.

Before going to bed (late), I came up here and fired off an e-mail to the Flying Pigs e-mail reflector looking for some enlightenment.  When I checked my e-mail this morning, there was an e-mail from the Head Honcho himself, Diz W8DIZ.  He explained to me (very patiently) what should have been as obvious as the hand in front of my face.

Thanks, Diz for excellent customer service! And also thanks for being super courteous and patient with someone who seems to have had a "Senior Moment".

On the other hand, last night I was fortunate to work an SU9 station from Egypt on 40 Meters.  I was doing the "happy dance" as this was my first QSO with Egypt - ever.  So I dutifully went to QRZ to look up QSL information, only to find that LOTW is not accepted (as it's too cumbersome and difficult to figure out), that paper QSLs are not really wanted, but if you go to PayPal and enter this particular PayPal address (along with the appropriate "donation") that a QSL card can be had.

What ?!?    I mean, really ...... what?

OK, I understand that Egypt is not the most commonly found country on the air; and I'm sure that QSLing is quite the tedious chore (if not a downright pain in the butt).  But isn't that what QSL managers are for?  And really, I mean even I can figure out how to use Log of the World.  You know, the guy who had trouble figuring out how to wind a simple toroidal transformer? ...... Yes, me - even I figured out how to use Log of the World.

I hesitate to use that hackneyed expression, but if I can figure it out - you can figure it out.

Maybe I ought to quit my job, move to a "rare and exotic" locale, get on the air, make a couple hundred QSOs a day, and start charging a few bucks per QSL card.

But then I guess I'd have to figure out how to use PayPal.  (Of course, I am being facetious, I already know how to use that. Learned how just around the same time I learned how to use LOTW).

72 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

March CQ

If you're not a subscriber, then you might want to go to the local news stand or book store to see of you can procure a copy.  This month's issue is devoted to QRP.

Good articles (as always) by Cam N6GA and Joe K0NEB.  Cam reviews the new Argonaut VI, and Joe has his monthly, first rate article on kit building.

There are other interesting articles - one about using QRP next to saltwater and a look inside the NAQCC. And also an article with some novel and unconventional ways on how to run a 100 Watt transceiver at QRP power levels, by splitting your output power between a dummy load and an antenna

There's also a very interesting article about the Raspberry Pi.

FYI, I'm not an employee of CQ Communications - I just appreciate the fact that they have an annual issue devoted to QRP.  And in all honesty, besides this annual issue, they give QRP related items and events good coverage year 'round.

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

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Radio workout

The 40 Meter Fox hunt turned out to be radio "workout".  The two Foxes for the night were Kevin W9CF in Arizona and Tom KV2X in New York.

I turned on the K3 about twenty minutes ahead of time, to hear the "D" beacon from Odessa, in the Ukraine, coming in at about 579/589. I figured right there and then, that barring some kind of propagation miracle, that KV2X was an impossibility - too close.

As it turned out, I was correct in my assumption, and I did not hear Tom all night. But Kevin W9CF was another matter. Kevin was audible, but the QSB was very bad.  His signal was anywhere from ESP to 559. At peaks, he was very workable.

At about an hour into the hunt, the pack was thinning out and Kevin was calling CQ FOX with no takers. It was frustrating, and I was bouncing from antenna to antenna, trying to figure out what would work.

It wasn't until the "four minute to go" mark, that I was able to work Kevin. And I think what worked in the end was that I changed my code speed. All evening, I was attempting to work him at about 23 WPM, which was a match for his speed. When I slowed my speed to 20 WPM, it wasn't long until I was heard. By doing something to "stick out", I was able to garner Kevin's attention and get in his log.

This was a good lesson learned. I think I'll have to remember this one and pull it out from time to time in the DX pileups. It might not work there, but it can't hurt to try.

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

Monday, March 04, 2013

Sure you did!


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

Sunday, March 03, 2013

DX today, but not QRP

Turned on the K3's afterburner to 80 Watts in order to work TX5K on Clipperton and TZ6BB in Mali.

This was the first time I have ever heard Mali on the air. My concern was to just get them in the log. He was very loud on 17 Meters. Afterwards, I did one of those "V-8 forehead slaps", thinking that he may have been loud enough to work QRP.

I could have tried again at 5 Watts, but somehow it didn't seem "quite cricket" to try and work them again on the same band so soon.

I heard TX5K again a bit later, and almost as loud on 12 Meters. I tried for a while to break the pileup, but my 5 Watts wasn't up to it. I will have to try later this week. If conditions keep up like they were today, I should be able to snag them again on 17 Meters via QRP. Patience and persistence will be the key.

I also began working on my PigRig while monitoring the pileups for TX5K. I got all the parts inventoried (yes, everything was there) and got the first few resistors soldered in before I had to step out for a while. Serial #81 is slowly coming to life!

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

2013 QRP To The Field Pre-Announcement

From Paul NA5N on QRP-L:


"Head's Up" - Initial announcement:

The 2013 QRP TO THE FIELD will be held on SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2013

QRP TO THE FIELD is the annual "get out of the house and operate somewhere from the field" QRP event and contest.  It is also the annual event for QRP-L, as this is where it is exclusively administered.

PROBLEMS:
1. Our solar maximum is very disappointing, making contacts more difficult
 than should be expected at this point in the solar cycle.
2. #1 above discourages many QRPers from participating
3. #1 and #2 means fewer stations to work for our efforts.
4. We have new hams and new QRPers joining our ranks all the time, both
 CW and SSB, with various skills wanting to get on the air.

PROPOSED CHANGES:
SOTA (Summits on the Air).  Last year, we joined forces with SOTA for plenty of new stations to work and a new measure of fun (with those strange exchanges!).  We will join forces again with SOTA for the increased on-the-air activity for us both.  Most SOTA stations are QRP.  SOTA does not have an organized annual event; QRPTTF can serve as their annual special event, as well as ours, for increased activity.

THEME: QRPTTF has always been unique by having a "theme" each year.  Last year it was SOTA and summits.  This was last year only.  The different themes for QRPTTF will continue ... though, I haven't figured out YET what this year's theme will be.  Ideas welcome.  I wasn't expecting to live past the Mayan Calendar thingie!

CW vs. SSB: For years, I have been asked to add an SSB category to QRPTTF.  There are few organized events for SSB QRPers, and many QRP-L members are SSB QRPers.  We also have plenty of new QRP hams who are SSB only.  Many SOTA stations also find SSB more convenient from those mountain tops.
Therefore, I have decided to add SSB to QRPTTF this year to those who prefer SSB or are no-code QRPers.

I NEED YOUR HELP.
It's been years (like decades) since I've had an SSB QSO on HF.  I know nothing about it, what frequencies are REALLY used, etc.  I need someone who is willing to serve as the Contest Manager for the SSB side of QRPTTF and accept the summary sheets.  Results can be published on your website, or of course, my existing site http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ Please contact me privately if you are interested.

Again, I see QRPTTF (and the Zombie Shuffle) as events for the QRP-L community and our new SOTA friends.  I am always interested in your comments or thoughts on the above to bring more fun and enjoyment to the majority of us.  Hopefully, adding SSB will be one.

There are yet no rules for this year's QRPTTF (not much different than in the past).  I will wait until I have a volunteer SSB Contest Manager before finalizing this year's rules and get some feedback from SOTA on their preferred SSB protocols.  But basically, get on the air, work stations, have fun.  The rest are just details!

72, Paul NA5N
Socorro, NM
http://www.zianet.com/qrp/

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