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!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Hallowe'en


Happy Hallowe'en everybody.  Be safe and don't forget to brush your teeth after all that candy.  What was your favorite Hallowe'en candy as a kid?  I loved getting Mary Janes and I also loved those caramel popcorn balls.

By the way, the name "Hallowe'en", for those who don't know, is actually a kind of contraction or shortening of the proper "All Hallows Eve".  It is the vigil of the Catholic Holy Day of All Saints, or All Saints Day.  Just thought I'd throw that bit of trivia out there - impress your friends!

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

Three Toms and a Sam

It turns out that I discovered (after the fact) that my lunchtime session netted me three Toms and one Sam.

I worked today, in order:

9A4W - Tom in Croatia
S51WO - Sam in Slovenia
SP7BCA - Tom in Poland
ON/DJ6OI - Tom in Belgium

Is that kind of weird or what?!? If I had worked four Toms, it would have been time to stop and buy lottery tickets on the way home, or find a good poker game to join. LOL! I thought it would be neat to take all my lunchtime QSOs from this year and plot them to Google Earth. Here's what they look like:


and


By clicking on either, it should get you a larger version to look at.

So the next time that someone tells you can't work anybody with 5 Watts and that QRP is a bunch of hooey - well ................

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The 10 Meter QRP Watering Hole

was quite packed today at lunchtime!  Which was absolutely, positively fantastic!  In fact, it was just a little difficult to find an empty frequency. So for a change, I listened for a CQ instead of calling, and I ended up having a nice QSO with F5LAW, Yann who lives near Lille, France. Yann was using his Kenwood TS-480SAT at the 5 Watt level.  He was pushing those 5 Watts into a 4 element Yagi antenna.  I gave Yann a 549 and he gave me a 559.  There was some QSB, but the entire QSO was solid copy!  And on his last exchange, Yann's signal had peaked to a solid 589.

Yann had commented that he had survived Autumn storm Christian with no damage to his property, although some of the surrounding area was not as lucky.  That reminded me that it was just one year ago today that Hurricane Sandy did her number on New Jersey and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic coast:




Fortunately, in this section of New Jersey, all the damage has been repaired.  There are still areas close to the shoreline that bore the brunt of the storm much harder than we did and have still not fully recovered!

After working Yann, which ended up being a 16 minute QSO (nice!), I went to 10 Meters and worked OHØH in the Aland Islands.  Then it was time to pack it in and head back into work. Another successful day with QRP.

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




Monday, October 28, 2013

Stuff

Some things I have been meaning to pass on:

The first concerns a contest that will be held this coming Saturday - November 2nd.  As Greg N4KGL explained to me:

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. This Saturday November 2nd is the 2013 Fall RaDAR America Contest. This is not your usual contest. The contest encourages rapid deployment and redeployment but there are several categories for you pleasure. Bottom-line is if you want to have some fun between 9AM and 1 PM CDT (1400 - 1800 UTC) Saturday read on.


So go RaDAR on foot, mobile,  portable or operate fixed. RaDAR participants will be lucky to find other RaDAR participants so fixed stations are encouraged to participate. The exchange is Callsign, Name, RST, City State (Grid locator preferred). I spared you all the details but they are at

http://radar-america.blogspot.com/2013/10/radar-november-2013-contest.html

All hams can play and it would be cool for many of you to disperse to various portable ops locations. Pick your favorite. I will be at St Andrews State Park FL and will be foot mobile on the beach. I will move 1 kilometer for every five contacts. I plan to operate around the following frequencies

40m CW 7055 kHz SSB 7185
20m CW 14055 kHz SSB 14342.5
15m CW 21055 kHz SSB 21437.5
10m CW 28055 kHz SSB 28400
2m FM 145.565 Simplex

Greg N4KGL

I will admit, the concept is cool and this looks like a ton of fun.  I have so much already planned for this weekend, that I will be hard pressed to squeeze it in.  But if I can find the time, I will definitely join in on the fun.

Secondly, I came across this site, which is run by Steve Roberts W1SFR.  http://kx3helper.wordpress.com/
I especially think Steve's QRPads are a great idea!  Neat way to stack QRP rig, tuner, watt meter, etc. Steve also sells his own version of a KX3 stand, and he also sells a fully assembled version of the antenna and 9:1 UNUN that I am currently in the process of building.

That's it for tonight. Fortunately, 10 Meters was still hopping today during lunchtime.  I worked Italy and Hungary again today  Currently the SSN is over 200 and the SFI is at 159.  I sure hope these conditions stay with us for a while. It does a body good to hear so much activity on the bands. Reminds me of my Novice days back in the late 70s.  Back then, it took a bit of effort to find an open frequency!

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zombie Shuffle 2013

Another Zombie Shuffle in the books and unfortunately, I missed most of it.  Operating hours were from 6:00 PM local to Midnight, local. First, I ended up working until 6:00 PM last night, instead of my normal 5:00 PM.  Then, on top of that, I had my local radio club meeting, which is always at 8:00 PM on the last Friday evening of the month.  That gave me an hour (roughly) to get home, get changed out of my work clothes, wolf down some dinner and then get to the meeting. Not good - Shuffle-wise.

I ended up getting on the air for the Shuffle at approximately 10:00 PM local.  By then you could tell that the cork had popped and the air let out of the balloon.  Activity was way down by then. 20 Meters was a lost cause on the East coast and 40 Meters was full of SSB QRM in the background.  80 Meters was a bit better than 40 Meters.

I ended up making 13 QSOs - I know, somehow that's an appropriate number for the Zombie Shuffle, right? My score was a paltry 66,451 points.

Some visitors came by the while I was operating:


I didn't mind the witch, the ghost or the Jack-O-Lantern so much, but that skeleton that insisted on "hanging around" my monitor made logging just a wee bit difficult!  At least I was able to lure the gremlins off my feedline by throwing some Snickers bars at them!

PS:  As of Monday morning, according to the results at:  http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/zombie_006.htm, I have come in 17th in a field of 38 entries.  That's a lot better than I thought!

72 es Boo de Larry W2LJ
BooRP - When you care to send the very least!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Two things

that I want to "talk" about tonight.

First is that tomorrow night is the Annual Zombie Shuffle.  This is a really fun Halloween themed QRP Sprint which is the brainchild of Paul Harden NA5N and his wife Jan NØQT.  The official rules can be found here. The Sprint runs from 6:00 PM local time to Midnight local time.  I will only get a few hours in towards the end of the contest because tomorrow night is the monthly meeting of the local radio club.  As I am the newly elected Secretary, so I kinda gotta be there! (Somebody has to take the minutes!) So look for W2LJ tomorrow night (late), because if you work me, I am worth extra points.  Since I was a Maya King in last year's Shuffle, and an Elvis the year before that, I am automatically an Elvis for tomorrow night.

You're probably saying to yourself, "What the heck is he talking about? Elvis" What?"  Just check out the rules that I linked to above and it will all make sense, I promise you.  Oh and by the way, my Zombie number is 858.

The second thing I wanted to touch on tonight was a Letter to the Editor that showed up in this month's (November) edition of QST.  It appears on page 24 and was written by Sean Cowdrey KJ6TTR from Camarillo, California.  I have never written to the editor of QST in my 35 years as a Ham. I was sorely tempted to because of this letter - it really annoyed me in several ways.  I would like to re-post it here; but that would probably get me in big time copyright trouble.

The gist of the letter is that Mr. Cowdrey is a fairly newly licensed Ham, earning his ticket in early 2012.  I guess he must have had some bad experiences out there on the Left Coast.  He goes on to bemoan Morse Code, those who use it, and those who think that present day Amateur Radio exams are too easy - "crotchety old timers" as he labels them. He goes on to define "crotchety old timers" as anyone who's been licensed for more than 10 years.

Well, this "crotchety old timer" genuinely feels bad for Mr. Cowdrey.  It has been my experience here in New Jersey that new Hams are made to feel as welcome as possible.  Any and all VEs that I have had the pleasure to work with have been nothing less than encouraging, welcoming and professional.  I am trying to think if there's ever been an incident that I can remember of a newbie being dressed down by a veteran Ham on a repeater or at a club meeting or any other occasion, and for the life if me, in all honesty, I can't.  I have heard rumors of such things happening; but to have personally witnessed it? Nope, never, not even once in 35 years. I don't know how new Hams are treated in California, but in New Jersey they are welcomed and made to feel like one of the group.

At the same time, I was also annoyed by Mr. Cowdrey.  In the letter, he makes several statements which really irked me.  I am going to type these in here so you will know what I am talking about.

"From a technical standpoint, other allege that new hams don't even know how to cut wire dipole antennas to the appropriate lengths. While failings such as these may afflict a few of us, it is an inaccurate generalization when applied to the new ham community as a whole."

He then goes on to say two more things:

"I have only occasionally encountered rude behavior, and that has come mostly from operators licensed more than 10 years ago."

"For those who insist on bringing back Morse code testing, coupled with exams that require knowledge approaching that possessed by an electrical engineer, I submit that if you got your wish Amateur Radio would be dead in 10 years.  I think that it is high time that these crotchety old timers lighten up."

Well, Mr. Cowdrey, I AM sorry to say that I have personally witnessed brand new Extras that couldn't figure out how to cut a dipole antenna if their lives depended on it.  In my case, rather than say something negative, I just helped to build the antenna and explained the "why" behind it.  But seriously ...... an Extra not knowing how to cut a dipole?  Something is wrong there.  And if you don't know how, then at the very least, you should be going back to your license study material to review and figure out how and why on your own.

Rude behavior, Mr. Cowdrey is NOT confined to those licensed longer than 10 years ago.  In Ham Radio, like life itself, you are going to have good and bad apples.  Stick with the good and avoid the bad, but at the same time, don't make a Federal case about it. Man up, for crying out loud and carry on.  Nobody comes with a lifetime guarantee that their feelings won't be hurt.

That last paragraph is the one that really frosts my pumpkin, though.  Not so much the Morse code issue, because that's a dead horse that I am not going to beat on, but "exams that require knowledge approaching that possessed by an electrical engineer" ...... really?  Don't you want to learn something out of this hobby?  Is the sole purpose of Amateur Radio to just get on the air and start blathering away?  Or is there more?  Personally, learning the basics of electronics for my license, and then going on from there led me to a wonderful 22 year career in electronics repair.  And the great feeling I get when I successfully troubleshoot a problem or build something with my own two hands is priceless. Studying for those tests was a very small, minuscule price to pay for the enjoyment that Amateur Radio has given me.  The sense of accomplishment that I received from going from Novice to Amateur Extra is something that I doubt I'll ever experience again. Oh, and my knowledge base comes absolutely, positively nowhere near that of an electrical engineer. I think we're being just a tad overly dramatic, there.

But what I'd really like to say to Mr. Cowdrey (if I could) is that "while failings such as what you have encountered may afflict a few of us, it is an inaccurate generalization when applied to the older ham community as a whole."  If you don't want us older Hams to lump all you Newbies together, then perhaps it would be wise if you didn't lump all of us older Hams together.

"Nuff said.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Another great day!

On the HF bands - 10 Meters was great again during lunchtime and I had no problem working Serbia, Italy, Belarus and Germany.  All the QSOs were great; but I had two in particular that were gems.

The first came at lunchtime on the 10 Meter band.  After working some DX, I decided to go to the watering hole of 28.060 MHz.  There I heard a weak CQ - DF7IS, Klaus in Kandel, Germany.  Klaus was running 5 Watts from his Icom IC-703 to a sloper.  I just love 2X QRP QSOs, especially 2X QRP DX QSOs!  We gave each other 559 signals and copy was solid, even though QSB was a little trying at times.  But the KX3 pass band tuning really helped me notch Klaus's signal and I had great copy throughout.

The second gem came after I got home.  With dinner done and a Harold walk yet to come, I decided to hit the KX3 in my basement shack before the sun set.  10 Meters was a bit disappointing.  I heard a station from Guinea- Bissau, but the pileup was intense, and his signal was dropping like a lead balloon. 10 Meters did not seem as promising as last evening, so at that point I decided to switch over to 15 Meters.

At 21.020 MHz, I heard JA1NUT calling CQ.  I knew that this was Shin, because my bud W3BBO just worked him a few days ago, and I have heard of him many times before. Shin has the reputation for being a top notch CW operator, a sort of Amateur Radio celebrity, a Ham's Ham.  Nobody was answering him, so I threw out my call.  Shin came back to me, and I gave him a 589.  His signal was warbly, like it was coming over the pole.  I've heard polar flutter before, and this sounded exactly like that.

Shin was running 500 Watts to a 4 element Yagi, and said he was trying to study the effects of the CME.  I knew immediately what he was talking about.  I learned about yesterday's CME from Fr. Z's blog of all places.  We exchanged other pleasantries and when it was my turn, I told him I was using an Elecraft KX3 to a vertical.

That's when I got "KX3 THATS 5W RIGHT?"

I answered "YES 5W QRP TO A VERTICAL"

Shin came back again "AMAZING 5W UR 549 BUT SOLID CPY ALL THE WAY. ENJOY UR MIGHTY 5W LARRY".

Wow - how cool is that?  Another walking on air moment! Amateur radio doesn't get too much better than this.

Before I close for the night, I leave you with a video that was mentioned on the CW Ops e-mail reflector. Can you imagine having an antenna farm like this?  I have passed K3LR's aluminum ranch several times on the way to and from Dayton. This is the first time I've ever seen a grand view like this!


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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Now THIS is Ham Radio !!!

10 Meters.  When it's open and hot, it's a beautiful thing. As Bob W3BBO said to me the other day, "I guess it's true when they say that, you can work them with a wet noodle when the band is open!"

The band has been open since the weekend and there's no telling how long this will last. Hours ..... days ...... weeks?  All I know is that if you have HF gear, you better take advantage of this now, because it just might not last for too much longer.  You don't want to get stuck with the short straw, or the dirty end of the stick.

As I detailed yesterday, I have worked mostly European stations during lunchtime, and the same held true today.  Today I worked EU7A, EI13CLAN, HAØNAR, S50A and SM5COP, but the "best" contact of the day came after I got home from work.

After dinner, and before taking my dog for his evening walk, I sneaked (snuck?) down to the shack, much to Harold's dismay.  I turned to 10 Meters once again and tuned around for a bit.  I heard a VERY loud BY3M.  I think that may have been only the second or third time that I have ever heard China on the bands. I tried working him (forever the optimist), but the pileup was ferocious with a capital "F". After a while, with sunlight rapidly dwindling, I realized I had better hunt around some more before the band totally faded.

That's when I heard JA5EXW calling CQ on 28.018 MHz.  He had no takers calling him back, so I put out my call.  Sure enough, Ben came back to me and with a 579 report!  579 with 5 Watts to a vertical from New Jersey to Japan. How awesome is that?  Just fathom the distance in your mind - according to HRD, that's 7,018 miles as the crow flies.  That translates to 1403.6 miles per Watt.  I've done better, but that's still mind boggling to me!

We live in a world where the rate of technological advancement doubles every few years now.  Nothing stays the same, and what's new and hot today will be obsolete in just a few years.  But this radio thing?  It still is and will forever be magical to me.  A tiny bit of energy travels half way around the globe and allows two strangers with a common bond to communicate with each other. Absolutely fascinating!

My walk with Harold was just a bit easier tonight. I think I was floating on air for part of our stroll together. This hobby just never gets old for me!

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

So where do youse guys hang out, anyways?

Sorry for using the "Tony Soprano" vernacular, but that's a question often asked by budding QRPers, or those looking to dip a toe into the pond, wondering what QRP signals sound like.

To answer the question truthfully - just about everywhere!  Anywhere we have frequency privileges given to us by the FCC, you will find QRPers.  But I know that's not the spirit in which the question was asked. Because, yes Virginia, there are "special" frequencies where QRPers tend to congregate.  Not that there's anything magical about them, they're just frequencies that QRPers have come to know as "the watering holes".  Just like animals from the African savanna meet and greet each other at the local pond, lake or stream, so QRPers tend to congregate at certain frequencies where the odds are good we will meet others of our species.

For CW, they are as follows:

160 Meters ~ 1.810 MHz
80 Meters ~ 3.560 MHz
40 Meters ~ 7.040 and 7.030 MHz
30 Meters ~ 10.106 MHz
20 Meters ~ 14.060 MHz
17 Meters ~ 18.080 MHz
15 Meters ~ 21.060 MHz
12 Meters ~ 24.906 MHz
10 Meters ~ 28.060 MHz

And for SSB:

160 Meters ~ 1.910 MHz
80 Meters ~ 3.985 MHz
40 Meters ~ 7.285 MHz
20 Meters ~ 14.285 MHz
17 Meters ~ 18.130 MHz
15 Meters ~ 21.385 MHz
12 Meters ~ 24.956 MHz
10 Meters ~ 28.885 MHz

In fact, the Long Island QRP Club has a very nice .pdf that you can print out and laminate and keep close by for easy reference. You can find it here.  You will notice their list also lists other frequencies as well, because there's no hard and fast rule, written in stone.  And more than likely, you will hear QRPers clustering around these neighborhoods and not on these frequencies EXACTLY (although it often feels that way during a QRP contest!).

Now, when you get to those frequencies, you will undoubtedly hear some weak signals.  But if you get blasted by a 599++++ signal, don't automatically assume that it's a QRO station intruding.  It just may be that due to propagation and band conditions, that powerhouse signal you are hearing just might be generated by a transmitter putting out 5 Watts or less. Don't assume that QRP always equals "weak".  Just ain't so!  If there's one thing the QRP Fox hunts will teach you, is that QRP equals Low Power, not necessarily Weak Signal.  Yes, you will work your share of 339 and 559 stations, but if you get involved with QRP and hang with it long enough, you'll hear your share of eardrum blasters, too.

Now to a different matter. I got an e-mail this morning from my good friend Bob W3BBO telling me about how good propagation was on 10 Meters Sunday afternoon.  I didn't get the chance to get on yesterday, but you can sure as all heck guess where I went to during my lunchtime QRP session today! Yep, 10 Meters and it was hopping today, too.  I worked Denmark, Italy and Croatia with no problem at all - no repeats, practically armchair copy both ways - although QSB did rear its ugly head now and then. Oh man, I wish 10 Meters was like this everyday!  I am hoping this lasts for a couple of weeks (or months) - fingers crossed!

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

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It was a good week

of lunchtime QRP sessions.  I did not get skunked all week, unless you count yesterday, when I had to work through lunch and didn't get a chance to get outside. The bands seemed decent and this is the week's tally:

MJØASP - Jersey - 15 Meters
IK3VUT - Italy - 15 Meters
EA6FG - Balearic Islands - 15 Meters
H7H - Nicaragua - 17 Meters
DM5MU - Germany - 17 Meters
HB9CVQ - Switzerland - 15 Meters
N4KGL - Greg in Florida - 20 Meters
W0RW/PM - Paul in Colorado, hiking one of the parks - 20 Meters
GI4DOH - Northern Ireland - 17 Meters

All this with the Buddistick plopped on top of the Jeep.  Wonder what I could work if I had a tower and a beam!

I was glad to see that Jim W1PID posted another story on his Website and AmateurRadio.com.  I have become intrigued by his use of that 9:1 unun as described on the earchi.org Website.  So I downloaded the assembly instructions and ordered myself a couple of T106-2 powdered iron core toroids.  The balun looks easy enough to make, and from Jim's posts this summer, it had provided him with much success.  I like the idea of having one wire giving ALL bands, 40 through 6 Meters. And according to the earchi.org site, if you play around with the wire length, it's possible to be able to use one wire for 80 - 6 Meters.  But not to be overly greedy, I'd be thrilled with one wire for use on 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 Meters.

I'll put it together and I have a box in the basement that will be a perfect container for it. Don't know if I'll get a chance to do much park operating before the weather changes for good; but I'd like to give it a shot.  If it works well, it will bode well for outdoor operating season next year.

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unintentional Intentional DX

Sometimes with DX, it's better to be lucky than good. Well, I really shouldn't say that.  I know nothing of being good when it comes to DX, but I sure can relate to lucky.

Band conditions were good today, and I went out to the Jeep at lunchtime to find 15 Meters hopping!  I heard a huge pileup around 21.023 MHz and I think it was for JA7SGV/6V in Senegal.  He was loud here in NJ, so despite the pileup being furious, and despite having worked Senegal on another band, and because I'm an optimist at heart, I decided to give it a go.  I turned on the "Dual Watch" feature on the KX3, hoping that I would be able to figure out where he was listening.  After listening for a goodly bit, it became apparent that I was not hearing the same stations that the DX station was going back to. So I hoped for the best and started throwing out my call at 21.025 MHz. It seemed as good a place as any to start.

Then all of a sudden, my call comes back to me.  But it wasn't from the ear bud tuned to 21.023 MHz, but instead from someone transmitting on 21.025 MHz.  I quickly turned off "Dual Watch" and deactivated the split function and twirled the main VFO up to 21.025 MHz.  I thought just maybe it was someone who heard my call sign in the pileup, recognized it, and wanted to say "Hello".  A half second later, when I got up to 21.025 MHz, the station was still calling me and sending out "W2LJ 579 TU BK" waiting for an acknowledgement.  Obviously, this was NOT someone wanting to say "Hello". So since the station was loud, auto-pilot and habit kicked in and I sent back "DE W2LJ TU 599 NJ BK".


It turns out that it was MJ0ASP, located on the Island of Jersey.  A DXCC entity that I have never worked before at all, let alone via QRP!  How cool is that!  Tried for Senegal, but got a brandy new one, instead (albeit by accident!). Add to the fact that New Jersey was named for the Island of Jersey, so there's a little historical connection there, too..  My hat is off to Elecraft, because if it weren't for the "Dual Watch" feature on the KX3, I might have missed Jersey entirely.  A very good day on 15 Meters, indeed, as a little while later, I also worked Luca IK3VUT in Italy and Pep EA6FG on the Balearic Islands

I was listening for K3WWP and KC2EGL on 40 Meters, as they were scheduled for another Parkpedition today.  I didn't hear anything on 7.041 MHz, so I broke down, packed up and headed in. Checking e-mail, it appears that it was raining in Kittaning, so John and Mike put lift off on hold for about an hour or so.  Can't blame them. Who wants their equipment to get wet?

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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

There was lots of activity today!

There was a whole lot more QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party activity today compared to what I witnessed yesterday.  And I had a ton of fun in the process.  I did not get to put in as much time as I would have liked, but that doesn't really matter, as I'm only a Giver of Points, after all.

But when all was said and done, I added 42 QSOs to my log - on all the bands, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10.

In addition to working all the bands, I worked Jorge EA2LU on 20, 15 and 10.  I worked Art WB4MNK on 40, 20 and 15.  I worked Jim NØUR on 80. 20 and 15.  I worked Bob N4BP on 20 and 15 Meters, and we QSYed to 10 Meters to give that a shot, but it didn't pan out.

After working hard around the house on Friday and Saturday, it was fun to kick back and relax behind the radio today.  Thanks to all out there who worked me ..... recuperation at its best!  The only downer was not being able to work Ken W4DU the QRP ARCI President.  I heard him several times on 40 Meters, and tried with the HF9V, the EDZ and the W3EDP.  I guess it just wasn't in the cards this time around.

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

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sure hope there's more activity tomorrow!

I'll be the first one to admit it.  I was not able to get on the radio at all today, during the day.  I had VE exams in the morning that I assisted at. That was followed by grocery shopping, leaf raking and Halloween yard decorations put up and then sanding the bathroom walls that I had applied spackle to yesterday.  Very busy with no time for radio - no time for the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party.

So when I was able to turn on the radio this evening, hoping to relax for a bit and hear many of my fellow QRPers, it was a disappointment to say the least.  I worked 8 other QRPers and one station who thought I was calling "CQ PA TEST" instead of "CQ QRP TEST".

Two stations worked on 20 Meters and the rest on 40 Meters. No activity at all on 80 Meters that I was able to hear, which is a shame as all the summer time static crashes are gone.  80 Meters is back in season, again.

Tomorrow, I have a quiet day planned.  My son and I will be putting in some more time at the local soup kitchen in the afternoon, but other than that, the day should be free.  The QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party runs until 7:59 PM EDT tomorrow, so I should be able to get on in the late morning, early afternoon and later afternoon.  I sure hope I can work more stations than the eight I worked tonight!

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

Follow up: I went back to 80 Meters around 11:00 PM EDT (0300 UTC) and called CQ for a bit. I ended up with four stations in the log. Background noise was near zero, the band sounded beautiful.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oh man, I sure went and did it ......

I was twiddling around the 30 Meter band and worked a couple DX stations - OM3SX and E71A and kept tuning, listening to hear what I could hear.  Then I heard K5T calling CQ with not many takers at all.  K5T is activating Timbalier Island IOTA NA-119, which is off the coast of Louisiana.


I worked them quite easily, and then they continued to call CQ, again - not many takers. Sounding kind of lonely, in fact.

I know what it's like to organize a special event station. I also have some experience helping to get a small expedition on the air, having helped the now defunct Old Bridge Radio Association with an expedition to Liberty Island in New York Harbor back in the very early '80s, when I was a relatively new General. Knowing all the planning and preparation it takes to pull something like a K5T IOTA expedition off, I couldn't let them just call CQ forlornly all night long.

So I spotted them on the TelNet Cluster.

They went from calling CQ and working a few stations via simplex to total pandemonium and working split in the space of about 5 minutes.

Geez, I sure hope they didn't mind going from 0 to 60 mph in ten seconds! (Somehow, I don't think they did)

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

Dave Benson K1SWL passes the torch

This appeared on the RockMite group reflector today, courtesy of Chuck Carpenter W5USJ:

After a run of about 12 years Dave, K1SWL, is discontinuing the Rock-Mites so he can finally retire.

The announcement was made today, 11 October 2013 vial his website.

The Rock-Mites will continue to be available from QRPme.com

Otherwise known as Rex, W1REX.

Many thanks to Dave for little Gem that has provided many of us a lot of fun.

Best wishes to Rex for another long run.

Not bad for a kit that was started as a handout at LobsterCon in 2002.

Chuck Carpenter, W5USJ
EM22cv, Rains Co. TX


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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

AAØZZ EZKeyer II

Announced today by Terry WAØITP from the Four States QRP Group:

The Four State QRP Group is pleased to announce the availability of a new kit. Building on the very popular EZKeyer, this new and capable Morse Code keyer has some additional features - a beautiful blue, easy building enclosure, new PIC microcontroller, larger message memories, additional commands, new printed circuit board layout, and large panel mount push button switches for easy assembly and use.


See the kit's home page for more details and ordering information. 

http://www.4sqrp.com/kits/ek2/ek2.php

As always, thank you for supporting the Four State QRP Group. All proceeds go to funding OzarkCon.

I have the original AAØZZ EZKeyer and it's a keeper.  This one looks to be even better!

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


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

New KX3

My "new" KX3 arrived on Monday.  Fast shipping from Brian K3USC (a word about that later). It is in immaculate condition, just as he described.  I took it to its new home in the basement shack, fired it up, loaded up the latest firmware and programmed the CW memories.  My first QSO was with MWØEDX in Wales, and I busted a small pile up to accomplish that. This little guy is going to get quite the workout in the W2LJ shack. What's nice is that since this KX3 will be permanently connected to a standard power supply, I can leave the display backlight on all the time.  My portable always has it off, to maximize battery life.

A word about shipping.  Brian and I both took our rigs to the Post Office and each of us shipped via Priority Mail within an hour of each other.  The KX3 got to South Plainfield on Monday.  Unfortunately, the USPS in New Jersey doesn't seem to work as quickly as the USPS in Ohio does.  By the end of the day on Monday, Brian's new radio had just left the state, outbound for Ohio. Fortunately, it arrived in Ohio yesterday afternoon and got delivered today.

I guess Priority Mail, like propagation, is not reciprocal.

I had a great QSO last night with Brian KB1QZA who hails from the Boston MA area.  I received an e-mail over the weekend in which Brian explained that his CW skills were a bit rusty and he wanted some practice. We met on the air last night on 40 meters.  We ended up having a delightful rag chew for over an hour. Brian's CW skillset was nowhere as rusty as he thinks it is.  He was good copy and his fist was good, and I hope we have a chance to do it again.  Last night, our QSO centered mostly on CW and Ham Radio.  I would like to learn more about his work as he is a Professor of Biology at Boston University.  I am sure that's fascinating stuff.

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

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Ch...ch...ch...changes!

Some changes at the W2LJ shack regarding equipment, and I have the NEQRP group and the NoGA QRP group to thank for it (indirectly).  The past two weekend Sprints, combined with my lunchtime QRP operating have made me realize just how little I use my K3. I have not touched it in months. My operating for the last noticeable amount of time has all been KX3 ... KX3... and more KX3. Don't get me wrong, the K3 is a GREAT radio, a fantastic radio, a radio that has become the DXpeditioner's weapon of choice, lately.  I have just started feeling guilty about letting such a great radio go to waste. It's a sin for it to just sit there and not get any use.  The rig is too good and it's worth too much to just be a glorified display piece.

So I decided to part with it. And let me tell you, it was a gut-wrenching decision, for several reasons.

I put an e-mail announcing my intentions on QRP-L, quoting the price I was interested in getting for it.  I thought it was a really, really good price, considering that I've had it for a very short time and that it is in pristine condition. Really ..... on a scale of 1 to 10, it has to be an 11.  I really baby my equipment.

I received a couple of responses, and the second response appeared to be the most promising. I received an e-mail from Brian K3USC (who also happens to follow this blog), asking what the K3's serial number was. Brian was in the market for a K3, but was up front and told me that what I had in mind as payment was a bit more than what he wanted to part with in cash, so I thought it was a bust.  But then he mentioned something in his e-mail that really started the wheels spinning inside my noggin.

"I'm in the opposite boat as you. I have a KX-3 that I'm not using like I thought I would and want a K3 !
Let's stay in touch on this..."

This intrigued me on several levels.  I'm not using my K3 as I love the KX3 so much. Yet I was still a bit uneasy parting with it, because that left me with no backup radio in the event, God forbid, something should happen to my primary.

So I suggested a trade.

Well, over the next few days, after a series of traded e-mails, photos, and a twisted pair conversation, Brian and I came to an agreement.  His K3 is on the way to him and my second KX3 is on the way to me.  A bit weird having two KX3s, no?  Not really.  Brian's KX3 will be the shack rig, while mine will stay in the LowePro 150 to stay on as my portable ops rig.  I have pretty much come to the decision that as long as it's not unbearably cold this winter, I will continue my lunchtime QRP sessions year 'round, even if I need to stand there in coat and gloves.  I should be raring and ready to go for FYBO next year!

Since my K3 was a K3/100, will I bite the bullet and buy the 100 Watt amplifier for it?  That's a distinct possibility and probability as I am still enough of a DXer (let's say one notch higher than "casual") to crank up the power to grab a country that I have never, ever worked before.  Let's discuss the following scenario:

I'm working a DXpedition.  It's one of the last few days that they're on site before packing up to come home, so the pileups have become manageable.  They're calling CQ and I come back to them.  I try and try and try with 5 Watts, but they're just not getting my call - propagation is being an imp.  You think I'm NOT going to pump it up to 100 Watts if I can?  Au contraire, mon frer, I am a QRPer first and foremost, but it ain't my religion, either! Scissors beats paper and a new or rare DXCC entity in the log beats 5 Watts in "desperate" situations.

But I will wait for a bit until the order for the KXPA100 start shipping on a regular basis.  I have been keeping my eye on that.  At this stage, the first production versions have been rolled out to the Field Testers. Regular orders will begin shipping this month or early November.  I am guesstimating that the "normal" order and fulfillment process should kick in at the end of the year or at the beginning of 2014.

I can wait.  I have been 100% QRP for the last 11 years. What's a couple more months?

I leave you with a link to a "queasy stomach" video for all you guys out there who use sling shots to launch antenna lines (like I used to).  This was given to me by Don K2DSV, a fellow ETS of NJ club member.  I realize that none of you use the ammo that the guy in the video does, but you MAY use lead fishing weights, which can be as dangerous.  As Sgt. Esterhaus used to say on "Hill St. Blues", "Let's be careful out there!"

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f9b_1380313509

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

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Can you believe it's been 9 years already?

I received an e-mail from Paul Huff N8XMS the new Manager of the North American QRP CW Club, concerning some of the events coming up to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the club.

Wow - 9 years!

Has it really been that long?                   Was it only 9 years ago?


In a way, contradicting questions, but sometimes it feels both ways.  Sometimes it seems like only yesterday that Tom Mitchell KB3LFC (at the time) and John Shannon K3WWP announced their idea for a new club that would cater toward the crowd that was passionate about QRP and CW. Since those two areas are my "cup of tea", as soon as I saw that announcement, I pounced on it like a hungry cat on a bowl of Friskies.  I signed up and  was fortunate to become NAQCC member # 35. In the early years, I was able to help Tom and John spread the word about the club, and was made the club's first Publicity Officer, sending out announcements of Sprints, articles to Ham publications about the club, and even suggesting to John the possibility of establishing a new look for the club newsletter.

And yet, with regards to the other question, sometimes it feels like the NAQCC has been around forever. Monthly Sprints, monthly challenges, a very good monthly newsletter, and a healthy membership roster are just some of the signs of a well organized and well run Amateur Radio club.  And the NAQCC is very healthy.  When I was no longer able to continue doing publicity on a regular basis, due to family commitments,  Dave VA3RJ took up the slack and took over. And other club members volunteered to pitch in and take on other important club roles - all the sign of a very healthy organization.  But perhaps the greatest example of this is this is when the two original founders decided that it was time to pass on the baton of leadership, there was not even a hiccup.  Paul Huff N8XMS walked up to the plate with bat in hand, and is ready to hit the ball out of the park for the NAQCC club members.

So if you're a member of the NAQCC, you have reason to be proud - very proud indeed!

To celebrate the 9th Anniversary, the club is planning various activities.  All will be announced in the next edition of the newsletter, being e-mailed later this week.  But I have been granted permission to talk about two of them right now.

The first you may already be familiar with.  Every October, the NAQCC conducts its N#A Special Event operations, in honor of its founding.  All the call sign areas get an NA operator(s), whether it be N1A, N2A, N3A, etc.  The goal is to work as many of these stations as you can.  This year will be no exception, and the festivities will commence on October 6th.  QSLs commemorating each district will be available as well a special certificate if you manage to work N#A stations in all ten call districts..

Later in the month, the monthly NAQCC Sprint will be turned into a "Special Anniversary Sprint".  All of the N#A stations will be on the air for that evening.  Nine special prizes (9th Anniversary, get it?) will be awarded by a random drawing from submitted logs.  So if you'd like to win something (and the NAQCC has a reputation for awarding good stuff), then "you have to be in it to win it" as the commercial goes.

And here's another sign of a VERY healthy and popular organization.  As you may or may not know, the NAQCC holds a regularly scheduled, two hour long Sprint each month.  The record number of log submissions was 194 for the 100th Sprint Celebration back in February of this year.  194 logs for a regularly scheduled monthly Sprint - how's them apples? Them apples is phenomenal - that's what!

So like I said, if you're already a member of the NAQCC, go ahead, puff out your chest - you've got something to be proud of!  You,  your founders and club officers have accomplished an amazing amount in your first nine years.  And the very best thing is that the NAQCC's outlook is very FB, OM!  But if you're not a member - just what the heck are you waiting for?  There are no dues - just fun, and a lot of it.  If you're a fan of CW and QRP there is NO reason on God's green Earth for you not to be a member of the North American QRP CW Club.  Just follow the instructions provided here. And if you want to, you can tell 'em Larry W2LJ's Blog sent you. That and two bucks will buy you a cup of coffee!

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