Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Notice the apostrophe in there?  That's because Hallowe'en is kind of an abbreviated form for the formal title of the day - All Hallow's Eve (or evening).  Hallowe'en used to be observed as the vigil for All Saints Day, a vigil (in Catholic terminology) being the night before a Holy Day or some other holiday. Hallowe'en was actually considered a quasi-Holy Day itself, the beginning of the part of the year where the Catholic Church remembers and honors those who have departed from this life and have gone onto their reward.

Then things happened and because the day was associated with the dead, it got twisted into goblins, ghouls, witches and demons.

Let's Go Mets!

Last night was the Zombie Shuffle, and as I stated before, last night was also the K2ETS monthly meeting. I was able to get on for about only 1/2 hour before having to leave. In that short period of time, just as the event was getting under way, I made eight contacts on 40 Meters. The best one of those was with Ed WA3WSJ who was Zombie Shuffling from the Appalachian Trail.

I tried CQ BOOing on 20 Meters for a bit, but since the Shuffle starts at 6:00 PM local time, 20 Meters is actually not usable until 6:00 PM kicks in for the other time zones.  At the same time, 80 Meters becomes better when it gets "dark" dark - after twilight. So for that first hour to 90 minutes, 40 Meters makes the best sense for the beginning of the Zombie Shuffle for the Eastern time zone.

After I returned home from the meeting, I went back on the air and made three more QSOs on 80 Meters and that was it. That was a bit after 10:00 PM and there was no longer any CQ BOO activity on 20 or 40 Meters that I was able to hear. I called CQ BOO and did some dial twiddling on 80 Meters, and after it looked like the well had gone dry, I went upstairs to watch the final innings of World Series Game 3. You know, sometimes it difficult enough using the KX3 in "Dual Watch Mode" attempting to simultaneously listen to two different Amateur Radio frequencies, one in each ear bud. I found that it's even tougher trying to simultaneously listen to the Zombie Shuffle in one ear and the ballgame in the other. Talk about scrambled brains!

The Zombie Shuffle is a lot of fun, though. If you've never tried QRP contesting, you might want to try it next year (if you can wait that long). I heard all kinds of CW speeds last night, from probably about 12 WPM to 25 WPM. The Shuffle is unique in that it's loosely organized and is actually more of an operating event than a contest. And the participation! Wow, it's talked up on the QRP email reflectors for weeks ahead of time and the participation is always superb!  Thanks to Paul NA5N and his wife Jan N0QT (who also sponsor QRP To The Field each year). It's amazing how popular the Zombie Shuffle has become, when you think about it - but then really it's no surprise, it's just a lot of fun.

One last thing - for those of you who observe Daylight Saving Time - tonight's the night we "Fall back" and set the clocks one hour behind. Tonight you'll get that extra hour of sleep in order to recover from all the Milky Ways and Snickers bars that you have "Trick or Treated" yourself  to!

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Tomorrow night is the Zombie Shuffle. Tomorrow night is our monthly Amateur Radio Club meeting. I have a conflict of interest, here. Since I am the recording secretary, the outlook for my participation in the Shuffle is bleak. Drat! If, I'm lucky, I can squeeze in an hour before I have to leave and perhaps another when I get home. Hopefully, by the time I get home (usually around 10:00 PM) there will still be some activity.

On the bright side, today was another productive QRP day at lunch. I worked PJ2/W4VAB, OM5XX and CU2AA. It was only after working Jacinto in the Azores that I looked down at the KX3 and realized that I had spent my entire lunchtime session at the 3 Watt level. Wow - 3 Watts into the Buddistick and I still managed to hop the Atlantic and get down into the Caribbean!

I heard and tried working UE25R on 20 Meters. He was CQing rapidly and was not leaving hardly any "blank space" at all for replies. It seemed he would finish sending his call, blink his eyes and start sending his call again. Obviously, with that approach, you must be looking for 599 stations only. I guess I didn't stand a chance with 3 Watts, even though he was L O U D!

The 4 States QRP Group came out with another new kit, which I immediately sent away for - a QRP antenna tuner.  I need one to use with the HW8, so I can hook it up to the W3EDP antenna. This will handle 10 Watts, and the HW8 tops out at about 4 Watts, so this will be perfect. Originally, the plan was to use my Emtech ZM2 Z-match tuner, but I like to leave that one in my portable ops backpack.

I'm also going to need a tuner for my Novice Station (redeux). When I was a Novice, I had a small MFJ tuner, but I think that this time, I am going to go totally homebrew. I wasn't  confident enough in my "from scratch" building skills as a Novice. I have a better idea of what I'm doing now.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Field Day results are in!

If you're anything like me, you were probably scratching your head a couple of weeks ago when the digital and paper versions of November QST came out, sans Field Day results. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I guess December, then."

Wrong! (This is getting to be a bad habit on my part.)

The ARRL has chosen to release the results of Field Day 2015 via the Web. The only reason I knew this was one of my Facebook friends had pointed it out to me, even before the announcement was made by the ARRL. See? I keep telling you guys that Facebook does have SOME value!

Even before I got dressed for work, I was checking to see how NJ2SP did this year. (I'm such a geek!) It turns out we did pretty darned OK.

We came in fifth in the nation in the 3AB (battery powered, 5W power limit) category.

And we came in tenth in the Hudson Division for all categories.

Now all we have to do is get Marv K2VHW's beam working for next year for the SSB station, and I'm thinking of switching from the EARCHI to the W3EDP for the CW station and we should be able to do even better. Now if we can only keep the deluges away, we'll be "In like Flynn".

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

DX at lunchtime

I didn't have as much success as Jim W1PID and Tim W3ATB had during their outing today, but I had a tiny bit of success.  17 Meters seemed to be open with not a bunch of activity. I did hear a few European and Russian stations. Instead of hunting and pecking, I decided to call CQ - you know, what all "the experts" say that QRPers should never do.

Perth, Scotland - near GMoLVI's QTH

For my daring, I was fortunate enough to be answered by Dave GM0LVI on 18.086 MHz (the 17 Meter QRP Watering Hole). It wasn't the longest of QSOs, but it was a bit more than "599 TU". Dave got a 559 from me, and I received a 539 in return - there was lots of QSB. The neat thing about this QSO is that it was 2X QRP. Not only that, but it was also 2X KX3.  I was on my Buddisitck, and Dave was using his 2 Element Quad, which I'm sure is responsible for making this QSO happen.

I'll have to look into the history of Perth. It got me wondering if it's the namesake of  Perth Amboy, a city very near me here in NJ.  Back in very early Colonial times, the current city was actually two entities - the towns Perth and Amboy. I am wondering if that Perth was named after Dave's Perth? The two towns constantly feuded, until someone got the idea to combine the two smaller towns into a bigger city, renaming the themselves "Perth Amboy".

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

Monday, October 26, 2015


I have taken the day off from work, I have just completed, along with several of my South Plainfield RACES/ARES compadres, a two day AUXCOMM class as taught by the Department of Homeland Security OEC/ICTAP, and offered by the NJ State Races Coordinator John Miller, and the Middlesex County NJ RACES Coordinator John Garmendi N2DV.

All I can say is, "Wow!".  This course was fantastic and re-awakened a lot of the training that I received when I was a Communications Officer with Middlesex County OEM back in the 80s and 90s. And a lot of things have changed since then, of course, and hopefully, I absorbed them like a sponge.

Hank Kobeler N3ORX listening to me explain our team's solution to one of the training exercises. 
(Photo by Drew Moore W2OU)

For those of you who are wondering what AUXCOMM is, that is the official name given by Homeland Security to Amateur Radio operators (RACES/ARES/CERT), REACT members and others, who augment the paid/trained first responders during declared emergencies.

The course, which spanned some 20 hours, was expertly taught by Hank Koebler N3ORX and Jim Millsap WB4NWS.  If I were to go into the experience which make these two fine gentlemen qualified to teach this course, it would probably occupy the next 5-10 blog posts. Suffice it to say that we were very fortunate enough to be taught by two experts with regard to Amateur Radio and EMCOMM.

The class went by quickly, and was never boring. Jim and Hank kept it interesting and, if I may dare say, fun. The pace was quick, but with enough time given to take in all the key and necessary aspects of what was being taught. There were ten units (I hate to call them "lectures") that were broken up by plenty of exercises where we had to identify resources, come up with communications plans, and then submit them for approval. This was followed by one last "Final Exam" or final planning session which brought together everything that we had learned up to that point, In addition, throughout the class, we learned the correct procedures for filling out the necessary ICS paperwork that accompanies all these kind of events.

I must admit that after the first day, my head felt like it does after the first day of Dayton Hamvention, busting to the seams with sensory overload. But it was all good, and by the second day, I think everyone returned in the morning feeling a bit better and just a tad more comfortable with their EMCOMM skills.

During our exercises, we fortunate to be joined by Mark Harla N2MHO (third from the right) from Cumberland County RACES. His experience and knowledge was invaluable to our little team.

The course built upon the education we received from those online FEMA courses that we all took on the Incident Command System, the National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework. It expanded upon that and throughout the class, decorum, attitude and etiquette were accented.

It does not do any good for the name and face of Amateur Radio, for uninvited, untrained, undisciplined "know-it-all cowboys" to show up to an emergency with an attitude that Amateur Radio is there "to save the day". That attitude, along with "Hey, lookie here at all my latest and greatest gear" is most assuredly going to get you escorted off the scene with a firm admonition to never return.

The keys to a successful blend of Amateur Radio and Disaster Response are training, decorum, the willingness to help with ANY situation (not just communications), and above all, professionalism. The willingness to blend in, get the job done with a minimal mount of attention or hoopla to yourself or the Amateur Radio Service, are what is needed. In fact, if you follow those guidelines, the Amateur Radio Service and Amateur Radio operators WILL come out smelling like a rose, and will be asked to come back on a continual basis.

To all Amateur Radio ops who read this blog that are interested in Public Service and Amateur Radio EMCOMM - I heartily urge you to go to your Town/City, County and State RACES/ARES leadership team to request them to have this AUXCOMM class brought to your state. Regardless of your level of experience, you are going to enjoy this class and will learn things that you never knew before.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DX Spray .... it works!

Unlike the grand vistas that Jim W1PID encounters in the beautiful locales of New Hampshire, the views that I am afforded during my lunchtime QRP sessions are a bit more urbane.  However, as the season changes along with the leaves, even in a suburban setting there is beauty to be found:

Not bad for a parking lot view, eh?

As I was setting up the station, I noticed that the "stick" part of my Buddistick was ......well, rather sticky. I happened to have a can of this in the trunk, so I applied a bit to the whip and then proceeded to rub it in using some 3" gauze bandage from my First Aid kit.  Hey, you use what's on hand!

Little did I know that WD-40 actually stands for "Whopping DX - 40 Meters".  I didn't get on 40 Meters, but the can didn't know that, and the DX Spray seemed to work equally well on 15 and 17 Meters. In short order, after applying this miracle spray to my Buddistick, I worked T47GDXC, SM3PZG, RA1AOB and TF4X all in the space of about 15 minutes.

Who knew?  If I was aware of what WD-40 really stood for, I would have been applying it to my antennas years ago!  Just think ..... all the wasted time, all the wasted opportunities!  I could be on the DXCC Honor Roll by now.

Some would attribute my success today to the sun and something called "improved band conditions". But I, for one, know better. I have learned the secret of the magic "DX Spray".

Sob ....... weep!

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ol' Sol must be feeling better

The bands have been picking up the past few days. Ol' Sol must be out of the ICU and in to a private room and on the mend.

I was able to work Israel, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Ireland, St. Lucia, Aruba, and the Cayman Islands over the weekend. And today at lunch, I worked Anitigua, Hungary and Gary KT0A on a SOTA peak in Colorado - Berrian Mountain W0C/FR-060.

This sure beats calling CQ and not getting any takers, and makes lunch time so much more pleasant.

As I was taking the Buddistick apart and tearing down the station after lunch, I was looking longingly at a 50 foot pine tree that's just yards away from where I park. Boy, if I could shoot a wire into that tree ..........

But with Security roaming the parking lots, that would be probably a bigger risk than I would care to take. Maybe with some really fine guage magnet wire - it WOULD be practically invisible, but at the same time, so very fragile. In any event, it's probably not worth getting into trouble over, but I can dream ..... can't I?

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Brrrrrrrr ......

Autumn has arrived with a vengeance! When I woke up today, it was 32F (0C). The furnace is now turning itself on its own, with the help of the thermostat, of course. It's time for multiple layers in the W2LJ household - multiple shirts and a sweater.

Look for the 2016 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt to incorporate, in a big way, the ARRL's National Parks on the Air program. I haven't worked out the details, but there will probably be special points given for working Skeeters who have opted to work from one of the many National Park units around the country. There will also be bonus points for Skeeters choosing to go set up in a National Park unit.

There are lots, and it shouldn't be that hard to find one near you. Here's a good place to start:

Lastly, here's a cool video pointed out to me by Marv, K2VHW. A nice promotional video produced by the RSGB:

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

This is tailor made for outdoor QRP

This is going to be good ..... and fun!

This activity, National Parks On The Air, was devised by the ARRL to celebrate the centennial of the National Park System.  The idea, of course, is to operate from and activate as many National Park units as you can.  We have twelve here in New Jersey.

1) Appalachian National Scenic Trail
2) Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
3) Ellis Island
4) Gateway National Recreation Area (Sandy Hook)
5) Great Egg Harbor River
6) Lower Delaware - National Wild and Scenic River
7) Morristown National Historical Park
8) New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
9) Pinelands National Reserve
10) Paterson Great Falls
11) Thomas Edison National Historical Park (West Orange Laboratory)
12) Washington - Rochambeau National Historical Trail

As QRPers know, activating a park doesn't have to be an elaborate affair. In fact, most of the times we QRPers go out and about in the field, it's a minimalist affair - but that doesn't mean minimalist results. A radio, some wire and a battery - and you're good to go.

It will be interesting to see if QRPers and SOTA operators can take the lead on this one and show the Amateur Radio world what we're capable of and what we can do. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to take members from your club and show them what QRP can do - and perhaps win a few converts in the process.

QRP and the Great Outdoors - perfect together!

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A couple of things

then bed.

I just got home from some CERT training on how to assist EMS personnel in the event an evacuation by medivac helicopter is requested. It was an informative class, and didn't last long; but it was a long day at work and I am beat. I wanted, however, to make my QRP friends aware of a couple of things.

First - Friday, October 30th - Mischief  Night, Devil's Night, Prank Night, Goosey Night, Cabbage Night or whatever you might call it is the night for the Zombie Shuffle this year. THIS IS A FUN ONE! If you've never QRP contested before - this is where you get your feet wet. It is more of an operating event than a hard core contest.

And to give you a sense of the sense of humor behind the Zombie Shuffle  -why is it called the Zombie Shuffle and not the Zombie Sprint?  Because Zombies can't run! Believe me folks, this is one QRP contest that does not take itself too seriously!

So do yourself a huge favor - go to the Zombie Shuffle Webpage, read the rules and download yourself an official Zombie badge, and plane to join in on the fun. And there's lots of fun to be had.

Second - got this notice through an e-mail. There's a new QRP publication in town!

This is the official promo - NOT written by W2LJ:

New ‘Minimum QRP’ book released A new operating guide is helping amateur worldwide get the most from their QRP station.

‘Minimum QRP: Doing more with under five watt amateur radio’ contains tested strategies for low power success on the HF bands. Equipment, antennas and operating are all covered in detail.

Its crafty tips for working the most with the least should become more valuable as solar activity declines in the next few years.

‘Minimum QRP’ is for a broad worldwide audience. Newcomers, the more experienced and those returning to amateur radio are already benefiting from its contents with brisk early sales since its release.

‘Minimum QRP’ is exclusively available as a Kindle e-book. You can read it on a portable e-reader, your home PC or other device. Packed with over 200 pages of information it's yours for under $5.00 (US Dollars).

Further details, including a cover photo, table of contents, list of reviews and ordering information can be found at

About the author: Peter Parker VK3YE is a long-time builder, writer and video producer on QRP topics. Minimum QRP is his first ebook. (Note by W2LJ - When he's not saving the world as Spider-Man - OK, folks, just a joke that I couldn't resist!)

His articles and videos appear at , and various magazines including Sprat, Lo-Key and Amateur Radio. Enquiries about Minimum QRP:

You folks know I don't normally go around advertising people's products - but Peter Parker? C'mon! I've been a Spider-Man fan since I was about 6 years old! How could I not spread news about a book written by a guy named Peter Parker? And it's about QRP to boot!  I may even plunk down the half of a sawbuck for this one!

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

Monday, October 12, 2015

Can you hear me now?

If you've never spoken with someone from New Jersey now's your chance to hear what we sound like.... nasal, New Jersey accent (dawg, cawfee) and all. We don't sound like what you've heard on "The Sopranos" - really.

A couple of weeks after the Skeeter Hunt, I had the delightful opportunity to sit down with Eric Guth 4Z1UG, author and producer of the "QSO Today" series of podcasts. We had a very pleasant conversation, which I enjoyed immensely. Eric deemed it worthwhile enough to turn into a podcast which you can find it at

This is a fantastic site. Since our QSO, I have spent many hours listening to Hams of note, such as Pete Julian N6QW, Chuck Adams K7QO, Budd Drummond W3FF, Steve Galchutt WG0AT, and others. There are a lot more.

How I was selected to join this group, I'll never know. But I can tell you that I look forward to each new episode that Eric comes out with. Eric's guests span the wide spectrum of Amateur Radio interests. If there's something about Amateur Radio that intrigues you, odds are Eric has spoken with someone about it, or will be, in the near future.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Giving back to Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio, without a doubt, is the world's greatest hobby. It allows you to talk to like minded radio operators around the world, for free (once you've paid for the equipment!), anytime, anywhere. It provides hours of relaxing fun (ragchews), exciting fun (contesting, DX), frustrating fun (contesting, DX), exhilarating fun (SOTA, IOTA, DXpeditions) and even gratifying fun (public service communications).

And one of the unique things about Amateur Radio is that the participants who recognize this are particularly selfless. They go out of their way to "spread the wealth" and entice others into the hobby - perpetuating it for years to come. There are many examples of this, and I think it's something a lot of Hams don't even notice or perhaps take for granted. And it's a lot more common than many of us realize - when you really take the time to think about it.

The Internet, once thought of as "The End" of Amateur Radio, has actually become its best friend. It has given Amateur Radio a renewed breath of fresh air and has given Amateur Radio ops around the world an international "clubhouse" where they can meet, greet and share "war stories" with each other in a way never possible before. Think of all the things that are available to us now that we never had before:

Blogs -  Have an niche interest in Amateur Radio? Look it up on Google. Undoubtedly, some Ham somewhere has started a blog about it, where they are willing to share information about their special passion, in depth.

Podcasts - Podcasts provide hours of listening entertainment.  Podcasts such as QSO Today by Eric Guth 4Z1UG, or 100 Watts and a Wire by Christian Cudnik K0STH and Kair Allen WY7YL are not only fun to listen to, but you'll undoubtedly learn a thing or two in the process.

Videocasts - Ham Radio video series such as Ham Nation, the various live streams brought to us by W5UKB and the plethora of videos on YouTube are like having Ham Radio TV available to us 24/7, 365 days a year.

E-zines and E-books - There are many out there. But the ones that stick out in my mind are the K9YA Telegraph, which is an excellent magazine type publication by any standard.  Also out there are E-books, such as "Solder Smoke" which is available through, as well as a particularly entertaining book, "Worlds Best Hobby" by Dave Bell W6AQ, also available through

Training materials - The "No Nonsense" instructions manuals by Dan Roamnchik KB6NU, which are available online have helped many a new Ham earn their very first license or upgrade to a higher class license.

E-mail reflectors - This is where the average "Joe Ham" can post his ideas and thoughts. I can't tell you how many invaluable tips and ideas I have received from e-mail reflectors. Yes, there's also a lot of garbage to wade through, but if you think about it, e-mail reflectors are like having "Hints and Kinks" with you all the time.

The opportunities to give back to the hobby are limitless. It enriches the hobby and helps to perpetuate it, and the beauty of it is that a lot of Hams give back without even realizing it. Many people consider "The Golden Age" of Amateur Radio to be in the 50s and 60s. Years in the future, when we have had the opportunity to look back, I think the "Golden Age of Amateur Radio" will be what we are experiencing right now.

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

Thursday, October 08, 2015

They ARE attempting a comeback, after all.

I'm sure many of you got the same email from Heathkit, either yesterday or early this morning. I had to admit that I thought it was going to be another one of those "We're still coming back!" emails, but this one had some substance.

It looks like the initial offerings are a table AM radio as well as some parts for already existing Heathkit products, namely the HW8, as well as their weather instruments.

Everything can be found here:

Obviously, it's a small fledgling offering, but every journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.  So before we make any harsh judgments, let's all take a deep breath, wish the new "Heathkit" well, and see how this all shakes out.

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

Sunday, October 04, 2015

All certificated out.

I got all the 2015, and about ten remaining 2014 (sigh) Skeeter Hunt certificates enveloped and addressed. I will buy stamps tomorrow and will get them in the mail this week. Hopefully, that will be as early as Tuesday. I think I will be able to get away with two 1st Class stamps on each domestic certificate. Before inserting a certificate in an envelope, I put each one in a manila file folder first, in order to prevent the certificates from becoming bent or folded. I'll have to weigh one on the Post Office scale, but I think each is under two ounces.

The California QSO Party seemed to be all the rage on the bands this weekend. If I had a nickel for each "CQ P" that I heard this weekend, I'd be a rich QRPer. I worked VP2MLJ on both 10 and 15 Meters this weekend, both times with QRP power. I think the "LJ" at the end of my callsign may have been good for a few extra Watts.

I listened for the Chesterfield Island DXpedition, and actually heard them on 30 Meters this morning. They were too weak to work, and the DX Cluster said they were only working EU stations anyway, so.......

I am thinking that this may be another DXpedition where my best chances are going to come shortly before sunrise or shortly after sunset. Hopefully, I will get them in the log, but if not, life will go on with nary a hiccup.

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

Saturday, October 03, 2015

A shameless plug that worked

About a week ago, I received this e-mail in my G-mail account from Scott N0HOT. I don't check my G-mail account on a daily basis, so I didn't discover this until yesterday:

As a Morse Code fan, I thought this was pretty nifty! I don't plug may people's products on this blog, but I thought this was neat enough to warrant an exception.  I guess I'm like Dan KB6NU, in that I consider myself a CW Geek. And for 99 cents, it's not like it's going to break the bank or anything - right?

So I think I'm going to pop on in to the iTunes store (if I can ever remember what the heck my Apple password is) and will purchase this little app.

Well played, Scott. Well played, indeed.

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