POWr Countdown Timer

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lunchtime QRP continues to be successful

My lunchtime QRP sessions continue to be a success with QSOs all over the world.  SOTA stations, special event stations, DX stations and rag chews all have been making it into the log.

Last week, I mentioned bringing my mag mount into the house to replace the PL-259 connector.  Thinking about that, I realized I had neglected maintenance on the other end, even though my high SWR problem was cured last week.


The coax at the business end goes into a plastic assembly. The center conductor is securely soldered to a ring which makes contact with the hex sleeve that holds the radiator - a Hamstick, or in my case, my Buddistick.   The shield, however, makes only physical contact with the metal of the mag mount.  The shield braid is pig tailed and is sandwiched in place between an insulator (which insulates the radiator from ground) and the actual metal of the mag mount frame.  There is no electrical soldered connection, per se - just physical contact and the pressure to keep it in place is provided by the main through bolt.

So tonight, I took it apart.  I took a metal kitchen scrubbie and cleaned the metal of the mag mount frame and also scrubbed the shield copper.  It is amazing what kind of crud and garbage builds up in there from exposure to the elements over the years.  Now, even though it is still only physical contact, at least the metal has been shined up and minimal resistance has been achieved.

The other thing I did was to drill two holes into the frame of the mag mount, so that I could cable tie the coax in place against the metal strut.  This will act as an added strain relief to prevent the coax cable from flexing around a lot and causing metal fatigue and possible shield or center conductor problems down the road.

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

FOBB 2013 and some Skeeter Hunt news

Distracted.

That's the best word that I can think of to describe my effort for Flight of the Bumblebees 2013.

The weather was certainly a distraction. With the forecast (all week long) calling for a 60% chance of rain on Sunday, I was not surprised to find that it was raining when I left Mass yesterday morning. That sealed the deal for me regarding my operating position. Right then and there, I decided that I would be a home station this year, and would forgo using my Bee number. As it turned out, it ended up being sunny, then rainy, then sunny, then rainy in small cycles just about all afternoon. Thunderstorms and torrential downpours waited until the 5:00 PM hour, just when I would have been tearing down.

Operating from home has its conveniences and creature comforts, but it also comes with its share of distractions. The phone rings when you don't need it to, spouses and children ask for things like they always do .... it's just a bit different than an evening Sprint, which are generally shorter and occur when things have already pretty much settled down for the night.

But the biggest distraction of all was this little guy (and I am definitely NOT complaining!). Meet Harold, the newest member of the W2LJ family, who came to live with us on Saturday.



We met Harold last Sunday, when we went to the local Petco store to pick up a bag of cat food for Sandy. Happy Paws Rescue was there with a full compliment of dogs looking for homes. Harold was not down on the floor with the other dogs, he was sitting in one of the volunteer's laps. We didn't even see him at first.

The first dog we were interested in was a retriever mix named Tia. She was a very playful and friendly little girl, and most importantly, I was informed that she was cat friendly. But it turned out that someone was already filling out papers for her while we were looking at her. There was another retriever mix there, a little older and a little bigger, named Hershey. However, the volunteers weren't able to tell me if he was good around cats, or not.

Disappointed, we were about to head to the checkout with our cat food, when I decided to ask if they had any dogs that were cat friendly. They immediately told us that Harold was being fostered in a house that had cats and that there were no problems. Interested, they put Harold on a lead for us, and allowed us to take him for a walk around the store. That's when the volunteer told me about Harold's background.

Harold is a nine month old beagle pup who was bred to be used as a test animal at either a pharmaceutical or cosmetics company. The inside of his ears are tattooed with a serial number, as a testament to this fact. Lab dogs like him are never really "named". It turned out that Harold was never used for testing, and was just an extra dog that was going to be offered for adoption. A secretary at the company found out about this and got him put into the custody of Happy Paws.

And now, he's with us. He's a very friendly little fellow, who like Jesse before him, seems "to not have a mean bone in his body". He loves to be held and played with, and right now, is a bit of a "nose and stomach on four legs". While he's a tad underweight, this little guy eats his meals so thoroughly, and with such gusto, that we briefly kidded about changing his name to Hoover. He loves to join you in whatever chair you're sitting in and totally relax next to you, in essence becoming a "puppy puddle".

So far, Sandy our cat, has made a few wary attempts at getting familar with Harold. With Jesse, she was used to an older dog who really paid her no mind. She is not quite sure what to make of this little brown, black and white furball of energy. They have been getting closer and closer to each other (nose to nose at one point, in fact) without any bouts of barking, hissing or chasing. If they don't end up becoming best friends, I am fully confident that at the very least, they will become quite comfortable with each other's presence.

So while I was making a few paltry contacts on 20 and 40 Meters yesterday afternoon, my head just wasn't in the game this year. My head and my heart were more fixed upon Harold, and also Jesse, whom I think would approve of his successor, very much. Even though he is a totally different breed and a much smaller dog, each time I look at Harold, I can see Jesse shining through him. And that's a very good thing, because now it really does feel like Jesse is still right here with me.

As for the news about the Skeeter Hunt - Brady AC0XR wrote a logging program specifically for the Skeeter Hunt this year.  It can be found at http://www.qsl.net/ac0xr/skeeterhuntlogger.html  Some of you may remember Brady from last year's hunt.  He was one of the few entrants who built a homebrew key for the event for bonus points.



I feel like we've hit the big time!  Our own logging program - thanks, Brady!


By the way, as of tonight, we're up to 94 entries.  I'll be issuing Skeeter numbers right up until the morning of the event - but don't wait for the last minute.  And remember, this year SSB has been added as a mode. So if Morse Code's not your thing?  You can join us anyway and get in on the fun!

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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Busted the pileup!

My lunchtime QRP session stalled for a day.  I went out to the car yesterday, and could not get the KX3 to tune the Buddistick.  If I twisted the coax near the radio connector, it would intermittently tune, but would not stay tuned. A SWR of 25:1 is certainly not desirable.

I brought my magmount into the house when I got home.  With some time to kill before the 20 Meter QRP Foxhunt, I checked out the PL-259 with my VOM, and found an intermittent short between center connection and shield.  So I snipped the cable back a few inches and soldered on a bright and shiny new PL-259.  Viola`!  Problem solved! And this is exactly the reason why, that one of my yearly purchases at some local hamfest is a small bag containing PL-259s. You never know when the need for one will arise.

Today, my results were like night and day.  The Buddistick tuned today with not even a blip of the KX3's autotuner.  I had 1:1 matches on both 20 and 15 Meters.  20 Meters yielded two nice QSOs, one with John K9DX down in Lakeland, FL and the other with Scotty KG3W in PA.  Scotty and I have worked many, many times before.  A few rag chews but mostly brief QRP Sprint QSOs.  It was good to spend a few minutes with him.

The coup de grace, came on 15 Meters however, after I had finished up with Scotty.  There was an extremely loud PY0F/PP1CZ on 21.023 MHz with quite a pile up chasing him.  He was soooo loud, though, that I knew if I could figure out the split he was using, I stood a good chance.  Trying to figure out the split can be tricky on 15 Meters, though, because you can't always hear the station the DX is working.  If you're patient and give it enough time, sooner or later the DX station is going to work someone that you can hear, too.

That was the case today.  I waited long enough until I heard him go back to a European station that I was also able to hear.  I figured out the split and within a few minutes, I had Fernando de Noronha in my log. Worked with 5 Watts to a Buddistick plopped on the roof of my Jeep.  Don't let ANYONE tell you that QRP doesn't work!

By the way, did you know that tomorrow is "Respect the QRP Frequencies Day"?  The QRP Respect Committee (an Italian organization) is running a day long QRP QSO Party tomorrow. A non-competetive event on or about the QRP Watering Holes.  Check out their Webpage here.



So spend some time around those frequencies tomorrow if that's not something you already do.  You just might find more DX than you might otherwise expect!

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And this is why I'm an HF & CW kind of guy.

I went to the Sussex hamfest two weeks ago, this Sunday. I bought that cup holder bracket for my VHF/UHF handheld, so I could listen a lot and talk a little during my trips back and forth to work.

Today, I was ready to rip the thing out and toss it out the window.

The absolute garbage that appears on some of these repeaters is appalling. Yeah, I know ...... 14.313 MHz and 75 Meters are no better. Have these guys (VHF/UHF/HF "mavericks") no shame? Do they have no idea how moronic they sound with their little "games"?

I was so horrified at listening to some of these shenanigans that it almost made me embarrassed to be a Ham. But then I remembered that I get on VHF/UHF so seldom, that I'm usually treated as a newcomer, even though I've been licensed for 35 years.

VHF/UHF - it's not my domain, and I thank the Lord for that! I'll take the QRP Watering Holes any day!

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mountain to mountain QSO.

My lunchtime QRP session had that ominous look, like it was going to end up being a bust.  The bands were nowhere near as hearty and robust as they were the past few days.  15 Meters had one strong signal, HA9RT booming in.  I've worked Jozsef several times in the past, and even though he was coming in like gangbusters, I figured I'd let him get some new stations in his log.

20 Meters was a ghost town and 17 Meters seemed to be the liveliest of the three bands.  Still, there wasn't much activity and the signals I was hearing weren't the strongest.  I didn't feel like going back into the building, so I decided to call CQ on 17 Meters.

Much to my surprise, I was answered by George KX0R who was the first place finisher in last year's NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. George had a nice 579 signal into New Jersey. He was using an ATS3B at 5 Watts into an inverted "L" on a mountain in Colorado.  Bald Mountain, SOTA peak W0/FR174, to be exact. 9,190 feet above sea level to be even more exact.


If you really, really, really, REALLY want to stretch the truth ..... you could say we had a mountain to mountain QSO.  But that would be stretching the truth almost to the point of breaking it!

Warren, the town where I work, is located on the second ridge of the Watchung Mountains here in New Jersey. My height above sea level there is all of about 500 feet or so.  Not much, by mountain standards, but since most of New Jersey is coastal plain and Piedmont, 500 feet is pretty high up there for a relatively flat state.


Now, according to geologists, if we went back in time, say about 200 million years or so, the Watchungs were about as tall as the present day Rockies or even the Alps. Just goes to show what time, rain, ice and wind can do to you, eh?  So in essence, compared to the Rockies, and even the farther western Appalachians, the Watchungs are more or less just "hills".  But they're our hills and the original settlers of New Jersey called them mountains, so who are we to argue?

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


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sizzling hot!

Not the weather (for once) although, it's still pretty warm.  No, I meant 15 Meters at lunch time was sizzling hot!

Besides telling you who I worked,  let me tell you about "the one that got away" a bit later. (As if I ever stood a chance!). First things first, though. I got to the car and set up the station. A quick scan of 17 Meters left me feeling - "meh".  20 Meters was a little better, but not all that much to write home about, either.  That's when I got the inspiration to check out 15 Meters.

At 1614 UTC, I heard and worked a very loud OL2013CM from the Czech Republic.  Later, when I looked OL2013CM up on QRZ, it turned out to be a very big deal for this Ham, considering my background.  You see, OL2013CM is one of several Special Event Stations from the Czech Republic honoring the 1150th anniversary (Yes, the 1150th!) of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to that area.

Saints Cyril and Methodius were the two men responsible for bringing Catholicism to the Slavic nations. Today this area includes the following countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Belarus, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Russia, the Ukraine, Macedonia, Lituania and Latvia, Estonia, and yes, Poland - the land of my ancestors.

There is a big seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan named after Saints Cyril and Methodius.  Almost all the priests that were in the Polish ethnic parish that I attended while growing up, graduated from that seminary. For me, working OL2013CM held a lot of sentimental value, and was a big deal.


And as always, there's a diploma that's available for working stations associated with the Special Event.  For the details, you can visit: http://award-cm.ok2kyd.cz/en/award-rules.html   Now, time for a bit of trivia. Besides introducing Catholicism to that part of the world, this duo also developed the Glagolitic alphabet, which was used to transcribe the Gospels into the Slavonic languages.  While that alphabet is no longer in use today - one of its descendant scripts is still very much in use today - the Cyrillic alphabet.  Wonder where they got that name !!!

After working OL2013CM, I also worked 4O/UA3RF in Montenegro and HA8QZ in Hungary.  Indeed,
15 Meters was open and very hot to Europe. Three solid QSOs to Europe in the span of minutes. Priceless!

But now for the one "that got away".  Down towards the bottom of the band (just above where CO8LY was calling CQ), I heard a very loud (extremely loud!) BY4IB/4.  China!  Holy cow, I never heard a station from China so loud. 599+ loud!  Insanely, I thought I stood a chance.  He was working split, and with the KX3's Dual Watch feature, I was very handily able to figure out the split, in no time.  I was determined to keep on throwing my call out until either:

1) I worked him
2) He faded away
3) I had to break down to go back inside to work.

Well, Door Number Two opened first, as he slowly faded away into oblivion.  And I never made contact, despite my best efforts. But if I had, how cool would that have been?  NJ to China on 5 Watts with a Buddistick!  I'd still be doing the ecstatic dance (never mind the happy dance) if I had been able to pull that off!

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Neat!

A top o' the callsign cap to Wey Walker K8EAB from the NoGa QRP group for pointing me towards this video by K7AGE:



Even if you don't care for the subject matter, the music's pretty catchy!

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Memphis Belle

I had mentioned that I was going to be offering the “QRP – Do More With Less” blog up to guest bloggers. Here's the first!  This post is in response to an e-mail that I received from Steve K8SAR. He had sent me an e-mail about his visit to the Memphis Belle.

I thought this was too cool to keep to myself, so I asked Steve to write something up.  Here's the story of his adventure in his own words:

Larry,  I thought you'd be interested.  The Memphis Bell was in our town over the weekend with a friend who was one of their volunteer pilots.  I had the chance to get a tour of the fighting lady including the radio station on board. I doubt they're functional but they are indeed very interesting!


There are a number of B-17 "Flying Fortresses" from WW II still in the air.  I believe currently 4 of them are owned and flown by nonprofit organizations dedicated to their preservation. During the summer months they can be found traveling to various cities offering rides (in the range of $3-500 for a  40 minute trip) to wanna be crew members.  The Memphis Bell is one of those "birds" traveling this summer and visited central Ohio over the past weekend.

The ground crews and pilots are generally retired and give of their time for the love of aviation and history. A friend was one of those pilots.   I was offered the opportunity to tour the aircraft following the daily flights. See cockpit photo.


My pilot friend was a top gun fighter pilot of the Viet Nam era who then went to work for Delta as a pilot, eventually heading up their pilots. He has since retired from Delta. We met when he and his family relocated to central Ohio, where he began his own air operations consulting firm.  Forever an advocate for the industry he had the opportunity to be on one of the B-17s.  

They arrive on Fridays at the host city, do the rides on Saturday and Sunday then fly the plane to the next city on Monday where they do media rides to promote the "rides for a fee" the following weekend.  Typically the plane is left in the new city all week to build up interest.

Maintaining a 60-70 year old bomber isn't cheap, so over the course of 2 days they will conduct 5-8 rides a day with up to 9"paying crew members" at around $400-500 each (pilots and crew just get expenses as volunteers).  Additionallly they have a trailer selling videos, hats, shirts etc.  As a nonprofit they also receive tax deductible donations.

When he knew that Columbus, OH was on the schedule, having lived here briefly, he volunteered to do the weekend (he volunteers one weekend a month), He e-mailed me a few months back and we hooked up while he was here.


I found most interesting the radio desk, located right behind the bomb bay and right in front of the two side mounted 50 caliber machine guns.  While the radio gear was nonfunctioning it did appear to be from the era. At the desk photo I am seated in front of a 3.5-6.0mhz transceiver (note the Morse key!).  Right behind the radioman's seat is a second set of HF gear. I would have liked a little more time to study the rigs in some detail. The experience gave me a whole new appreciation for those men who, averaged 22 years of age, were piloting missions after just 167 hours of training.


Thanks Steve, for sharing your story!  

A few facts about the Memphis Belle:

The aircraft was one of the first B-17 United States Army Air Corps heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact.

The aircraft was the namesake of pilot Robert K. Morgan's sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee.

The aircraft was a Boeing-built B-17F-10-BO, USAAC Serial No. 41-24485, was added to the USAAC inventory on 15 July 1942.

She deployed to Prestwick, Scotland, on 30 September 1942, to a temporary base at RAF Kimbolton on 1 October, and then to her permanent base at Bassingbourn, England, on 14 October 1942.

Here's a few more pictures of the Belle, courtesy of Bob W3BBO, who took these when the famous aircraft was visiting Erie, PA.




Indeed, the military had a lot of fine radiomen throughout the years.  A lot were Hams that went in to serve; but also, a lot of men and women went into our Armed Forces, were bitten by the radio bug during their tour of duty, and then became fine Amateur Radio ops after their time of service to our country ended.

A good history of Amateur Radio and World War II can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/kdw5onr

Also, the “Golden Era” of Amateur Radio came about to be, largely due to the glut of surplus military electronics that became available after WWII.  In fact, if there had been no glut of parts and pieces, there probably wouldn't have ever been a Heathkit!

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



Friday, July 19, 2013

Old stuff and new stuff

I just came inside from outdoors. There's a small cell with a thunderstorm approaching. In fact, it's just on the other side of town, according to the weather radar at weatherunderground.com. Nothing large enough to break the back of this heatwave, and will probably just make it feel steamier than it already does.

The backbreaking thunderstorms are supposed to arrive tomorrow. By Sunday afternoon, it is supposed to be at least 10 degrees cooler than it has been.

Today during lunch, I headed out to the Jeep once again, even though today has been the hottest day of the week, by far. 17 Meters yielded a QSO with OE3DXA, Werner near Vienna Austria, while 20 Meters was good for a QSO with N5URL, Bob in Oklahoma. The QSO with Bob fell victim to QSB. Like two old soldiers, we both just faded away.

I am going to be mixing things up a bit on the blog in the very near future. I will be having occasional guest posters. Every now and then, I get an e-mail from a QRPer who has had an interesting adventure or radio related experience. They don't have blogs of their own, but yet are eager and willing to share. I will make the "Do More With Less" blog available to them. I think you'll all love these guest posts and I am looking forward to them.

The other new item that you will see shortly is a new series that I have decided to call "Profiles in QRP". These will appear once a month, where different QRPers will answer a set of questions, related to how they got started in Amateur Radio, what drew them to QRP, etc. Some of the profiles will hopefully be from some very prominent QRPers, while other profiles will be from people you may never even heard of.  I hope to get profiles from the QRP gamut ...  builders, contesters, designers, everyday Joes, HOFers, etc.

I'm sure you guys have had enough of me and my situation. This blog is supposed to be about QRP and CW. Hopefully, I can bring you some interesting reading in the near future.

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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Toasty!

It sure has been warm here since last Sunday.  This morning I Tweeted that you know your in for a rough day when you wake up at 6:30 AM and the air conditioner has already turned itself on ...... and we keep the AC set on the kind of high side here at the W2LJ household.  We try to keep the house comfortable, but not like a meat locker.  So when the cooling turns on, it's already pretty warm in the house.

So when the weather is like this, what does a sensible QRPer do for lunch break?  Does he stay inside the nice, cool office building, kick back and maybe read for a while while eating his sandwich?

Well, maybe that's what a wise, sensible, pragmatic QRPer does, but none of those descriptions fit me, so I headed out to the parking lot to get the Buddistick on top of the Jeep and the KX3 on the air!  When I got out there, I set out the thermometer that I brought along from home.  I set it in a shady spot, out of the direct sun, and let it sit while I operated.  The plan was to check it and snap a photo of it, after I broke the station down, but before I headed back inside.

My first band of choice was 17 Meters as it has been really good to me over the last months of lunchtime operating. However, there must have been some kind of device turned on in the Engineering Building at work, because I had terrible electronic pulse noise from 18.068 to about 18.083 MHz.  The KX3's noise blanker (which is the best noise blanker I have ever used) put only a slight dent in the noise.  The incoming signal would have had to have been 599+ to overcome that racket.  The funny thing is that right at 18.083 MHz, it was like someone turned off a light switch and the pulse noise quite literally vanished.  The problem is that on 17 Meters, the majority of DX stations will be found on the lower portion of the band, so I decided to QSY.

On to 15 Meters!  I didn't hear a lot of signals on the band, so I decided (for whatever reason) to do something I hardly ever do.  I went to the QRP watering hole of 21.060 MHz and actually called "CQ QRP" for a bit. Normally, the only time I do that is during a QRP Sprint or contest, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to try it today.  And strangely enough, I got an answer.  The answer came from Reiner DL5ZP.  The QSO was a tough 2X QRP affair, as QSB was fierce, but we got in an exchange of the basics.  Afterwards, I had to wonder if I was taken in by a "slim" or a "pirate" as they are better known.  DL5ZP does not appear on QRZ.com. He does kind of halfway show up on QRZCQ and DX Summit and even Google, but by not coming up on QRZ.com, I have to wonder if this was legitimate, or what.

After the QSO with DL5ZP, I went to the 20 Meter QRP watering hole and did the same thing.  This time I was answered by W7USA in Arizona, and we had a very brief QSO.  Band conditions did not seem to be the best this early afternoon.

So after I put everything away, as far as the station goes, I went and fetched the thermometer from it's shady spot.  Here's what it indicated:


About 96 or 97F (36C) with just under 50% humidity.  Hot enough for me to almost burn my fingers on the magmount when I lifted it off the Jeep, but not hot enough to keep me inside.

Band conditions were much better tonight for the 20 Meter QRP Foxhunt.  I managed to grab two furs tonight by working John K4BAI in Georgia and Jay KT5E in Colorado.  But I have to admit that as soon as I bagged both pelts, I shut the station down and disconnected the antennas.  The weather service is saying that this 6 day heat wave may break tomorrow afternoon with possible severe thunderstorms anytime from tomorrow afternoon into Saturday morning.  I don't need to be driving home tomorrow afternoon, in the middle of a bad boomer, only to be worrying that I forgot to disconnect my aerials.

By the way, it's now 11:00 PM here. The sun has been down for about 2 1/2 hours, and it's still 84F (29C). Those are probably going to be some pretty powerful thunderstorms to break the back of this hot spell.

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Success like W1PID, but no scenery

Like my good friend Jim W1PID, I also operated portable QRP today.  Like him, I had some success working Germany, Sweden and New Mexico. Unlike him, I did not have a beautiful river and pastoral country views to soothe my eyes.

Nope, I was in the parking lot at work during my lunch break - again.  But also like Jim, I got to deal with the heat.  It was just breaking the 90F (32C) mark when I got out there.  I think the sunshine reflecting back up off the asphalt pavement might be good for another few degrees.  Tomorrow, I'll have to bring a thermometer with me and find out.

I plopped the Buddistick on top of the Jeep and found that the air temperature was not the only thing that was hot.  17 Meters seemed to be sizzling, too.  I worked two special event stations - the first being DL50FRANCE.

This station is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Elysee.  That historic document started a period of deep friendship and cooperation between France and Germany.  Up until that point, those two countries didn't exactly play nice together.

The other special event station I worked, and was also worked by W1PID, was SJ0SOP. This station in Sweden is on the air to promote the Sea of Peace award.


In between working these two special events, I slipped on over to 15 Meters to see if there was any activity there.  That's where I heard Paul KW7D in New Mexico calling CQ.  He was 599 loud in New Jersey and I got a 569 in return.  We had a brief QSO and I informed Paul that 17 Meters seemed to be a lot more active than 15.  We kept our QSO short so that he could QSY on over to 17 Meters and point his Force 12 Beam antenna towards the DX that was humming on the band.

I broke down the station and headed back inside into the air conditioning. When I got back to the car to head home, it was 95F (35C).  The humidity is up there at 68%, but at least it's not at 90% like it was last weekend.  The 90s with 90% humidity?  THAT'S miserable!

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

E-mail change

To all my readers and friends .......

I am migrating my e-mail over to gmail.  All w2lj@arrl.net e-mail will now be routed over there.  If you think you're having problems reaching me using the ARRL alias, and wish to try and reach me directly, going forward my primary e-mail address will be w2ljqrp@gmail.com.

I'm just trying to consolidate as much as possible, so I don't have to remember so many darn user names and passwords!

Thanks in advance for your cooperation!

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

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Weekend

We arrived home from Lake George yesterday.  I went to go pick up Sandy, our cat, from the place where we took her and Jesse to be boarded while we were away.  When Sandy got home, she was as upset as I was. She was looking all over the house for her "big brother".


They were real good buddies and it's quite obvious that I'm not the only one around here who has a bit of a broken heart right now.

The manager of Best Friends came over and explained to me that last Tuesday morning they found Jesse laying on his bed, which wasn't unusual at all.  He was an older dog and was no longer very active. They thought he was asleep and when they tried to wake him, well ......... he didn't.  The manager told me that one of her own dogs did the same thing.  He was old and hanging on and hanging on and waited until she and her husband were away to pass.  I don't know if it has any merit or not, but she told me that some dogs do that. It's like they want to spare their owners the hardship of seeing them pass.

This house is not the same without him, and I am definitely not the same without my pal.  The sun just seems to be a little bit dimmer than it used to be. And while I am thinking of Jesse, I'd like to thank all of you who left very kind comments or sent me an e-mail with the same.  I appreciate it and thank you so much - you're all in my prayers.

But life goes on, so even though I really wasn't in the mood, I decided to go to the Sussex Amateur Radio Club hamfest anyway - to at least take my mind off of Jesse for a while.  I got there at 8:30 AM, about a half hour after the doors officially opened.  I got there to a double line of cars, backed up, paying admission and waiting to get in.  When was the last time you saw THAT at a hamfest that isn't Dayton or one of the other true "biggies"?

It was sunny and hot and humid!  I was sweating just walking around at a leisurely pace.  I ran into Don W2JEK who I have worked so many times in various QRP Sprints.  I walked up to the table where he was selling stuff and shook his hand and said "Hello".  You could tell he was taken aback for half a split second until he noticed my call sign on my cap.  We talked for a bit and then I continued to meander around.

I noticed a lot of QRP stuff on the tables.  There were at least two HW-8s and one HW-7 that I saw. There were at least two of the Chinese/TenTec HB-1As and there were several MFJ QRP rigs for sale.  I will take it as a good sign for QRP, that when I made my last pass of the tables, all the QRP equipment seemed to have been sold and in the hands of eager, new users.

There was lots of other interesting stuff, too, including this:


A Martin Flash Bug, which is a brand that I never even heard of, before.  It looks to be in very good shape, too.  However, I didn't want to part with the $100 the seller was asking for.  I also saw this, which was not for sale, but was being demo'ed.


This is the E-APS - the Emergency Antenna Platform System.  It's a robot that will serve as an emergency platform for a VHF/UHF antenna.  You put the robot on a light pole in a parking lot, for instance, and then remotely control its climb until it's at the height you desire. It was designed and built by a team of young Hams from New Jersey including Devlin KC2PIX, Chris KD2CXC, Ben KD2DLM, Joe KD2CQL, Kyle KD2DWC, Gavin KD2DPN and Robert KC2WCQ.  This unit is not for sale, but plans and open source programming are available to anyone who wants to build one.  For more information you can go to www.wc2fd.com or e-mail for info at info@wc2fd.com.  It's good to see young minds with fresh ideas doing concrete things to make Amateur Radio better; and thinking out of the box, to boot!

I ended up buying two items.  First, I bought a handful of 3.5mm DC connectors.  These seem to have become the de-facto standard power plug for QRP rigs.  You can never have enough, so I bought some to have for spare.

The second thing I bought was an HT holder for my Jeep.  It fits into the cup holder of my Jeep Patriot. There's a twist ring at the bottom which allows the insert to expand so it fully fills the cup holder and stays in place without budging.




Before this, I had simply rested the radio IN the cup holder.  That was very inconvenient for looking at the display, hitting the search button, etc.  I'm by no means an active VHF/UHFer, but had recently started taking the HT with me to work again, as broadcast radio gets boring to listen to after a while (no offense to those of you in the industry). I still need to get my ICOM  VHF/UHF molbile radio installed in the Jeep by a professional, and this will carry me over until I can find someone good and reliable who can do that for me. Listening to the local repeaters and even chatting on occasion makes the commute more pleasant.

When I got home, I realized that today was "Scorch Your Butt Off". I had almost forgotten!  And what an appropriate day!  Because of the steamy conditions, I decided to not go far. I went to the Cotton Street Park, here in town ...... where I went for FOBB last year.  When I left the house, the thermometer on the back deck said that it was 92F (33C) but that sensor is in the sun and tends to read a little high.  I checked both WeatherUndergound and the National Weather Service.  Most local weather stations close to my house were reading 88F (31C), so that was the temperature I used for the exchange throughout. The humidity was a whopping 91%.  Can you say, "Ugh"?

There didn't seem to be too much activity. Either that, or the bands were crud, and it may have been band conditions as I didn't hear too much activity of any kind, anywhere.  My set up was the same, my KX3 and PAR ENDFEDZ hauled up into a tree.  I made a grand total of nine QSOs, and the only person I worked on two bands was Rick NK9G on both 20 and 40 Meters.  QSB seemed to be deep and fast on all three bands I worked - 40, 20 and 15 Meters.

I stayed until the water and freezer pops that I brought with me ran out.  When I got home, the temperature had legitimately climbed to 92F (33C).  Another thermometer that I had on the front porch in the shade gave me that reading, as did another check with WeatherUnderground. The humidity had mercifully dropped down to 65% percent, though. Still tropical, but not as sauna-like.  The bad news is that it is supposed to remain like this for the rest of the week.

Remember, if you SYBO'ed make sure to get your logs off to Rem K6BBQ!

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

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Good-bye, old friend.


Jesse - Born August 1999 ... Died July 2013

My very good friend passed away in his sleep last night. I love you, Jesse and will miss you like crazy. There is a huge hole in my heart right now.

Larry W2LJ

Sunday, July 07, 2013

From the mountaintop

I headed up to the top of Mount Prospect to operate in the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint. It's not on the SOTA list, but it affords a fantastic view of Lake George. I headed up there one day last year, but unbeknownst to me at the time, we were experiencing a geomagnetic event, and there was nothing to be heard on the bands.

This year was different. I headed out early and set up the PAR ENDFEDZ, using the Jackite pole and my drive on mast support. One thing you notice when you get up there is how quiet it is. There weren't many people up there, even though it's an easy drive to the top and its a local tourist attraction. All I was able to hear was the breeze rustling through the trees.

Set up went easy, like a hot knife through butter. It turned out that there was a conveniently placed picnic table there, which provided a perfect operating location. Within minutes I was calling "CQ QRP".



The Sprint was scheduled to run from 4:00 - 8:00 PM EDT. On the way up, I noticed that the observation area is only open to 6:00 PM, so my participation was going to be limited. I worked the following:

AB9CA
WB5CTS
KB5JO
VE3EDX
KB5FCF
N7RVD
K4BAI
K4KJP

All these stations were worked on 20 Meters. I tried going to 40 Meters for a while, but the static crashes and QRN were so vicious that I didn't stay there long.  When I went back to 20 Meters to call CQ again, I knew it wouldn't be for long as I would have to begin packing things away soon for my return trip down the mountain.



That's when I had my "winner" QSO of the day. My "CQ QRP" was answered by DK7IT, Fred in Stuttgart, Germany. Fred was a loud 599 and I received a 579 in return. Fred was attracted by the "CQ QRP" and told me that he was not accustomed to hearing such clear QRP signals from the States. He was curious as to what the setup was, so I gave him the rundown. Admittedly, Fred's great signals were due to him running 100 Watts into a 3 element Yagi, but I guess the mountaintop location sure helped my QRP signal.

After my QSO with Fred, I quickly repackaged everything and made it down the mountain in time before closing.  Not a ton of contacts were made, but I had a lot of fun and the DX QSO, which turned out to be a real "honest to goodness" QSO was icing on the cake. The cheeseburgers that I grilled for dinner when I got back to the cabin weren't half bad, either!

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

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Friday, July 05, 2013

QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint

Is this coming Sunday from 20:00 to 24:00 UTC. That's from 4:00 to 8:00 PM EDT for those of us here on the East Coast. I will have to participate as W2LJ/2 (technically), as I won't be home. Tomorrow we're leaving for our yearly sojourn to Lake George, NY.

Of course, the KX3, Buddistick, and PAR ENDFEDZ 40/20/10 will be accompanying me. Not sure if I'll operate from near the cabin with the Buddistick, or perhaps from a park, or even from a nearby mountaintop with the PAR.

In any event, I am looking forward to some well deserved R&R. I anticipate a lot of reading, and a lot of radio in addition to all the fresh mountain air and cool lake breezes.

I have some good books loaded on my kindle, including James Rollins' new one, "The Eye of God". If this Sigma Force novel is as good as his others, I should burn through it in two or three days. For the past several years, I have been able to read two books during our time up north. In addition to Rollins' new one, I also have several of David Baldacci's novels loaded on the kindle.

FYI, any requests for Skeeter numbers will be processed when I return. So if you send me an e-mail, I will acknowledge it, and I may even issue you a number. However, I won't be able to update the online roster until I return.

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

Thursday, July 04, 2013

I did it!


I did it! I got New Hampshire and Maryland for the sweep! New Hampshire in the morning, and Maryland in the afternoon. All stations were worked on 40 Meters and three were worked with CW, the rest SSB. This has been the most SSB work that I have done in decades.

I have to say that this was a lot of fun, especially for something I really hadn't planned on taking on. But the other evening, when I had worked the first 8 Colonies before I had really even realized it, I became hooked.

There's still plenty of time for you to complete this, or even get started if you haven't already. The 13 Colonies event runs until midnight Sunday morning, so get behind the radio and start spinning the dial!

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

Happy Independence Day!


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

You need a scorecard (or QRZ or somesuch .......)

I had another good day out at the car today during lunch time.  Both 17 and 20 Meters were active and I nabbed three QSOs during my lunch break.

"What's that got to do with your post title, W2LJ?" you might be asking yourself.

One of the stations I worked at lunch was HF80LOT.  You hear a call sign like that and your first impression is undoubtedly, "Huh? Where's THAT?"  If you're like me you prescribe to the "work 'em first, worry about the location later" theory, so that's what I did.  It turns out that HF80LOT is a special event station in Poland that is commemorating the 80th anniversary of a trans-Atlantic flight by two Lithuanian pilots.  I sure wouldn't have known that without the aid of QRZ or HamQTH, or one of the other fine call book services out there.  From the HF prefix, Poland was probably my last or next to last guess.  In fact, I wasn't sure at first whether I was hearing 5F80LOT - at first I was guessing Serbia or somewhere around there.  Listening for a few times confirmed that it was HF80LOT, but I still had to look it up.  Exciting!

But lately, it seems like there's been a smattering of special event call signs that either boggle your mind or tickle your ear in an effort to copy them correctly.  For example, here are some out of the ordinary ones that I have worked recently and you may have, too:  LZ1722SN, H70ORO, 9A282EU, LZ110RF, LZ1876SMB, and the prize winner SV2013ATGM.  Wow!  That's a lot of letters and numbers and what's up with you Hams in Bulgaria?  It's almost like every one of you is running a special event this year!

Speaking of special events, I worked three more Colonies tonight, bringing my total to eleven.  Connecticut, Georgia and Pennsylvania are now in the log, and I also had a QSO with the bonus station, WM3PEN in Philadelphia, PA - Chaz behind the key.  I only need two more, New Hampshire and Maryland for the sweep.  If I can't nab those two by the time this ends, I am going to be severely disappointed!  I've gotten a taste of the quarry and now I'm hungry for a clean sweep.

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

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

13 Colonies time!

Yessiree!  If it's close to the 4th of July, then it's time for the 13 Colonies Special Event!

The 13 states, which were the original 13 colonies (Can you name them?  How's your history?) will be on the air until 12 Midnight on Saturday evening/Sunday morning of this coming weekend. They will have special call signs from K2A to K2M.

If you participate, a very special certificate (suitable for framing) can be yours.  Work all 13 colonies and your certificate specially will be marked to denote the Clean Sweep.


Log summaries can be submitted via snail mail with the suggested donation to obtain the certificate.

Just this evening, I was able to work the following eight states/colonies on 40 Meters - NY, SC, DE, RI, NJ, MA, VA, NC.  I also heard the NH station, but his pileup was something akin to the crowd trying to work Spratly.  I also heard the GA station, but he was very weak.  GA is usually super loud here in NJ, maybe he had his beam turned away from the NorthEast and I was hearing him off the side.

NY and NC were worked via CW - the rest were worked using that SSB mode.  I got a kick out of working K2I, the NJ station.  The operator was Mike KA2FIR, who I've worked before.  When I finally broke the pileup, he came back to me with "W2LJ, we've run into each other before. Aren't you that QRP guy?"

My reputation precedes me!

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

Monday, July 01, 2013

You can sign up!

Rich Fisher KI6SN, has begun issuing Bee numbers for the 2013 Flight of the Bumblebees. I signed up this evening, and was awarded Number 16.

You can get your own Bee number, by going to the ARS blog. All the instructions are there. You can view the Bumblebee numbers already give out by clicking here.

Pick out three numbers you would like (that aren't already taken) and then send an e-mail to: ARSBumblebees@gmail.com

Include your name, your call, where you plan on operating from, and your three number choices.

It's that easy!

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