Friday, December 30, 2016

Going cold turkey

"Going cold turkey" - a phrase familiar to some - unfamiliar to others. Perhaps many of my readers from outside the US have never heard of this American slang term before.  It means to break a habit ...... by stopping.  If you happen to smoke and decide to stop "cold turkey", that means stopping. Period. No gradually smoking less and less until you quit. Nope, you throw away your last pack of cigarettes into the trash can and never smoke again.

I smoked for a very brief period of time (maybe 1/2 a year) when I was in college and to this day, I'll enjoy a cigar at a wedding, if they're being offered; but I never smoked to the point where it became a habit. I can imagine though, for a hard core chain smoker, the thought of going "cold turkey" probably produces cold sweats and chills down the spine.

Thanks to the ARRL, many of us have become addicted to National Parks on the Air.  I say that in a teasing and friendly manner.  But the fact remains that for the past 12 months we have really enjoyed chasing and activating the over 400 National Park System entities.

A lot of folks went in whole hog and seemed to make it their mission to activate as many entities as possible.  Some made it a family affair, taking their spouses and children on a tour of the USA. Some seemed to take a sabbatical from work in order to satisfy their craving.  Some slept in cars, hopping from site to site, alternately activating and then hunting for a spot with WiFi so they could upload their logs to Logbook of the World.  A lot were like me, activating sites that were relatively close to home when chores and family commitments allowed some of that seemingly rare  commodity - free time.  One thing seemed certain, though, whether you were a hard core NPOTA'er or just an occasional dabbler ...... everyone who got involved had a good time.

So it is with mixed emotions that I anticipate the end of NPOTA 2016.  I will always have fond memories of my activations, and of how I incorporated NPOTA into the 2016 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, and of the many hours I spent behind the key (and microphone) as a chaser. I think I spent more time behind the microphone this year than in all my 38 years of Amateur Radio combined.

I will also fondly remember the friendships that have formed with many activators and fellow chasers on the air and through the NPOTA page on Facebook.  Call signs have become names and faces instead of just random letter/number combinations.  In a few instances, Hams that I have known for years and have only worked via Morse Code have now become familiar voices! And when was the last time a fellow Ham gave you cookies or a pizza for working them? Chalk up those innovative ideas for fellowship to NPOTA!

For many, NPOTA became an opportunity for us to rethink how we thought about Amateur Radio. A lot of us had to shed all previous notions and start thinking outside the box. For many it was the first time they ever operated outside the home Shack other than Field Day. NPOTA became a fantastic opportunity to learn about what works and what doesn't.  Many of us became more in tune with our equipment, using it in ways we never had before, expanding our capabilities and experiences. It was an opportunity for many to build and experiment with new antenna systems, new power systems, new ways of doing things that were previously taken for granted. For many of us, it also became a school for learning (real fast!) how to improvise when piece of equipment was forgotten; or how to make quick (and sometimes not so pretty) repairs when something would break or malfunction.  Through it all, we became better Amateur Radio Operators because of it; and there's no amount of money you can place on that.

It will be very hard for all NPOTA'ers when 23:59:59 UTC rolls around on December 31st and it's all gone; and we're all going "cold turkey". As far as this particular event is concerned, microphones and keys will go silent and we'll only have the sweet memories of the past 12 months to comfort us. It will seem strange not to turn on the rig and twiddle the dial looking for that new entity to work - looking for familiar call signs that we could count on to be activating some new place of historical significance.

So many thanks go out.  To Sean Kutzko KX9X and Norm Fusaro W3IZ from the League, who did a magnificent job tending and managing the NPOTA program. To the ARRL for sponsoring the event and making the resources available that  are necessary to run something of this magnitude.  Web space and server space don't grow on trees, so the next time you're ready to grouse about "What does the ARRL do for me?" ....... well, here's a good example.

Thanks to the many before mentioned activators, who provided me with so many moments of fun as well as so many moments of anticipation, and yes, even some moments of frustration.  Many thanks to the chasers who worked me (and will work me tomorrow during my two, final activations). Without all you fine folks, this NPOTA concept would have been just that - a concept.  You all breathed life into what may well go down in history as the most fondly remembered activity the ARRL ever sponsored.

Lastly, so many thanks to the National Park System and its employees. You have been the most kind and gracious hosts to all of us these past twelve months. You not only were knowledgeable and competent guides, you also became good friends.  We are in your debt for your generous hospitality.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Doesn't anyone build ANYTHING for themselves anymore?

An honest question.  I was parsing through some of the Amateur Radio posts on Facebook and there were several posts for 9:1 UNUNs available through eBay.

Now, I'll the first to profess that I'm no EE. And most of my home brew projects come out looking like those baking failures you find on Instagram. And I'm certainly not on par with the home brewing skills of my good friend W3BBO who builds transmitters and receivers that are so good looking, that you'd WANT one in your shack. Nothing "ugly" about his construction techniques.

But a 9:1 UNUN?  Really?

Even "Mr. Two Thumbs" W2LJ can handle one of those!

And I have! And, gosh darn, it actually even works!

So if I can do it, you can do it, too. The parts are easy to find and the step by step instructions are easily found on the Web. Just search for "EARCHI".  You can "roll your own" for half the price you'd pay on the online auction site.  And maybe, just maybe, you can buy parts in bulk and have yourself a club project. Now THAT'S an idea!

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The weather

The weather outlook for an NPOTA activation or two on Saturday is looking good.  While a lot of the Northeast is bracing for a major hit of snow tomorrow, we're supposed to get only rain in Central NJ.  It's supposed to clear out Thursday night into Friday and Saturday is forecast to be sunny and clear with a high of about 38F (3C).  Chilly, to be sure - but warmer than my first activation of TR23 last January.

I have a commitment at 5:00 PM, so if I'm going to do two activations, both HP28 and TR23, I am going to have to get an early start.  If all goes according to plan (and when does THAT ever happen?), I hope to be out of the house by 9:00 AM and up at Morristown National Historical Park by 10:00 Am or thereabouts.  I am planning on bringing the magloop and giving it a full blown workout.  Of course, the Buddistick, Hmastick and my normal arsenal of end fed wires will come along for the trip, too.  No sense in leaving home the antennas that you brought to the dance with you before.

TR23 and HP28 come together for a 2-fer from one small part of the park. You can see the trail in the following screen shot - it's represented by the red line.

It's hard to be IN the park and still within 100 feet of the trail. As you can see from the map, there are no roads which lead to easy access of TR23 from within HP28 by car.  All the service roads in the park are more that 100 feet away from the trail; and to be honest with you, I don't have the luxury of time for going for a hike.  So in keeping with being on the up and up, I will probably do them separately.  

Now here's something I just learned today which is fascinating.  I always knew there were two parts to the trail, where the two Generals split up for a bit before rejoining up.  Trail One is the one that General Washington took and is the one that runs close to my house that I've activated twice already.

Trail Two is the one that General Rochambeau used. This one runs right through Washington Valley Park which is also the site of the Middlebrook Encampment, where Continental Army troops wintered and where the first United States flag ever flew.  In fact, the Middlebrook Encampment is the only place in the United States, where by an Act of Congress, that the original 13 star "Betsy Ross" flag is officially allowed to fly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It's not all that far from Washington Rock State Park (and home), so maybe I will set up there for a couple hours after returning from HP28.  If I can activate HP28 from about 10:00 AM to Noon (1500 - 1700 UTC) and then TR23 from about 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (1800 - 2000 UTC) that will still get me home in time to make my commitment and still finish up before NPOTA ends at 2359 UTC.

Ambitious plans usually get messed up for me. We'll see what happens.

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

New Year's Day Sprint

From the QRP-ARCI folks:


1500Z to 1800Z on 1 January 2017.

HF CW only.

Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number Non-Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO Points:
Member = 5 points Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands. The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

Power Multiplier:
>5 Watts = x1
>1 - 5 Watts = x7
>250 mW - 1 Watt = x10
>55 mW - 250 mW = x15

Suggested Frequencies:
80m 3560 kHz 40m 7030 kHz 20m 14060 kHz 15m 21060 kHz 10m 28060 kHz

Bonus Points:
If you are operating PORTABLE using battery power AND a temporary antenna, add 5000 points to your final score. (You can NOT be at your shack operating from battery power using your home station antenna to qualify for this bonus.) This is to help level the playing field for contesters who work from the field against contest stations with 5 element yagis at 70 ft.

Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier + Bonus Points

Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m)

How to Participate:
Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies. Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself! You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission:
Submit your entry online at
Log sheets are not required for entry, but may be requested by the Contest Manager if required.


Entries must be postmarked on or before 15 January 2017.

Will be published in QRP Quarterly and shown on the QRP-ARCI website.

Will be awarded to the top five scoring entrants.

New Year's Day is pretty much a non-event for me. It's a holiday that I just can't get excited about, other than having the day off. Another trip around the Sun. Big deal. But this may provide a few hours worth of fun if same said Sun cooperates.

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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

A day late and a dollar short - my Christmas post for 2016.  This year has been hectic with work, NPOTA and a host of other things.  Blog postings are coming in at almost an all time low for W2LJ. For that I apologize and will do may best to make up for it in 2017.

Did you get any Ham goodies left under your Tree by Santa?  None here at the W2LJ house.  I guess Santa didn't get my letter about that PX3, or the KX2, or the Begali paddle, or the..........

Just joking, actually, as W2LJ didn't ask for any Ham goodies this year.  Maybe I have to turn in my Amateur Radio Membership Card, but there was nothing Ham related that I really wanted this year. And that's not a sign of apathy or losing interest - just a sign of contentment with what I have.

Christmas was spent with family; so it was a wonderful day. Today was wonderful, too, as I managed to work 3 or 4 new NPOTA entities.  I should wind up 2016 with close to 220 confirmed. On Saturday, I am thinking about possibly going up to Jockey Hollow once again to activate HP28 again for a couple of hours; and then maybe TR23 for another coupe of hours on the way home.

But getting down to business - W2LJ's Christmas wish for you ........

May the Joy, Hope and Peace that the Christ Child came to bring, live in your hearts now and forever!  May your friends and families know them as well. May your houses be filled with Happiness and Contentment and Love.  And just remember, for the secular world Christmas has ended - but for those who believe ......... the Season has only just begun !!!

A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to you all!

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bah, Humbug!

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet these days, but I would sincerely hate to think this story is true:

I used to be an HRD user, and even went so far as to purchase a license a couple of years ago, which has since expired for continued support.  For my needs, the software became a bit overblown and I really didn't want to keep renewing that license for continued support.

I have since returned to using Log4OM, which I had previously tried and have no intentions of ever turning back!  This is my logging program for now and for the foreseeable future.

Log4OM was developed by Daniele Pistollato – IW3HMH. It is free and is actually very intuitive and very user friendly, in addition to being aesthetically appealing, as well.  Daniele and his team keep providing upgrades and support and even offer an excellent User Manual which is easily downloadable.  And if you should ever run into a problem that's not answered in the manual, there's also an on-line forum on which the developers keep a close eye. They usually answer questions in a day if not with in hours, and the team is very friendly and gracious.

If you happen to be one of those people who is a "visual learner", meaning that it works better for you if you can actually see the program in use, there are plenty of videos on YouTube which will show you how the program works.  There are also additional videos that go into deeper explanation as how to use the additional features, such as linking to eQSL and Logbook of the World.

If you want a free Windows based logging program that is easy on the eyes, pretty simple to use with a relatively small learning curve - look no further. Log4OM may be the solution for you!

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

QRPGuys new kit

TheQRPGuys are offering a new kit, a 40 Meters Direct Conversion Receiver - for $35 (without the optional digital dial, which is extra).

It looks like a fun kit and is all through-hole, which is a big plus for the neophyte kit builder.

QRPGuys offers a whole bunch of inexpensive kits. Be sure to check them out - with Christmas coming and all - maybe you'll find a neat stocking stuffer for that favorite QRPer of yours. OR maybe you can discreetly leave a few hints with the XYL.

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

Monday, November 28, 2016


It was a productive weekend.  Despite crummy band conditions and horrendous QSB at times, I attained my goal.  Now we'll have to see how many I can end up with for the year. I wonder if 225 is attainable with only a matter of weeks to go.

I am betting that December 31st, which falls on a weekend is going to be a red-letter, banner day for activations.

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016


For a lot of you, this weekend is filed with DX, as it is  CQ WWDX Contest weekend.  For me, my focus is a little closer to home.

I am so close to my personal goal that I set for working 200 NPOTA entities. My antenna situation here is mediocre at best. I have no hopes to work all 400 some entities, realistically speaking. So I set out with the intention of working roughly half, and I decided upon 200.

I have about 5 or 6 enttities worked that haven't uploaded their logs to Logboof Of The World yet. I am very, very close.  If I can work another 4 or 5 new ones today, I should be golden, with a month to go.

My other goal was to do 1- activations this year. That's not going to happen.  But I hope to activate Morristown National Historical Park again tomorrow (HP28) which would bring me up to 7. Maybe I can squeak in another before the end of the year, God willing.  The coming holday rush and iffy weather will determine whether ro not that happens.

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

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Here in the United States, it's Thanksgiving Day.

So Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

There's so much to be thankful for!  Family, friends, a warm house, clothes on our backs and food on the table. Thanks be to God who has been so, so so very good to us!

To those on watch, defending our nation, who cannot be home with family and friends ..... thank you! Prayers that you return home to your families and your grateful Nation very soon.

To the police, fire personnel, EMS personnel, doctors and nurses who have to work the holiday .... thank you! May you get home to a warm house and a warm meal after your shifts are over.

To all those who find themselves in tough situations where "thanks" seems to be the last thing on your mind ...... my prayers are with you. Whatever your difficulty is, I pray that you will find the pleace and love of the Lord during your time of struggle.

Thank You, Lord for your bounty and all your gifts!  Your love and mercy are boundless!

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Contest in Town!

There's a new outdoor QRP Contest on the calendar.  Hopefully, if the inaugural event goes well, this will become an annual event.

It's called the "Cookie Crumble QRP Contest" and this is the brainchild of Emeily Saldana KB3VVE and Tim Carter W3ATB.

The first edition will be held on Sunday, June 11th 2017.  All the rules can be found at

Make sure to send Emily or Tim an e-mail to get your Cookie Number, which is yours for life. There's also a Facebook page that you can join to keep up on the latest news.

Thanks Tim and Emily for adding another cool event to the QRP calendar!

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

This is just too funny!

It takes all kinds, my friends!

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

Life goes on

I don't like to get overly political on this blog. It really just annoys people and the fact that they're reading this is probably an indicator that they're trying to get away from all that other "stuff".

That being said, I am going to get a tad political.

I voted. I voted for someone I don't really care for. My heart wasn't in it; and my vote was a vote against the other candidate rather than a vote for the person I ended up pulling the lever for.

Now the election is over. And people are melting down. And that's a shame. We went through a peaceful election process on Tuesday and a majority of the people have spoken. Agree with them or not, that's how the election process works in a Representative Republic, which is what the United States of America is.

As a Constitutional Conservative, I was not happy with the result of the last two elections. In fact, I'm not thrilled with the outcome of this one, either.  But I would have really been unhappy had the loser ended up being the victor.

But even though I am disappointed that a candidate to my liking did not win, I will not go out into the streets and throw a spittle flecked temper tantrum. That didn't happen in 2008 or 2012.  In fact, in my lifetime, that's NEVER happened before. That's not how well educated adults behave.  Well educated adults will roll up their sleeves and will work hard to make sure a candidate they can support wins the NEXT election.

End of rant.  Thank God for Amateur Radio and QRP!

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

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Took a chance

on another small mobile radio from China.  I got fooled when I purchased the Juentai JT-6188, but decided to take another chance.  This time I picked up a QYT KT-8900R.

Same size and looks almost identical to the Juentai.  For all I know, one factory is making all these radios that fall under different name plates.

This time it's been a semi-success!  The radio works just fine, fits in the Jeep well, has ample and good sounding audio output.  It's nice to have it where my Icom was and not constantly bang my knee into it.  It does NOT have the "picket fence" audio problem that the Juentai had when my vehicle is in motion. (The Juentai serves as my shack VHF/UHF as it works fine when not in motion.)

The only slight problem is that for some reason the computer programming doesn't work. Using the QYT software or Chirp, it doesn't seem to matter. The error I get with Chirp is that the radio "won't go into cloning mode". I think that's probably a Windows 10 issue, because the Juentai programmed easily enough with Windows 7.

However, that's not a big deal, as this one is pretty darn easy to program using the buttons on the microphone and the radio itself.  There is one hitch that was driving me crazy, but that was explained in this video, at the very end. (YouTube to the rescue!)

So, if you're in need a capable (lower powered - 20W max) radio and you don't have an Icom, Yaesu or Kenwood budget - this little guy will serve you in good stead.

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

Monday, October 31, 2016

In the news

Speaking of Morse Code, I picked up my Bencher N2DAN Mercury paddle this past Friday evening at our monthly club meeting.  It is beautiful, feels beautiful and looks beautiful on the shack bench.  The only thing is that I have to look into getting new finger pieces. The current ones are a "glittery" blue.  I don't mind the blue at all, but could do without the glitter. Does anybody know of anyone who makes nice wooden ones?

The Silent Key who owned this had a weird Molex connector coming off of it, and the cable itself was only about a foot long.  I unsoldered that, put on about a 2 foot section of three conductor cable and the standard (now standard) 3.5mm stereo plug.

I immediately worked a few NPOTA stations and it feels just as good as my Begali.  It's like using a touch key. The movement is so slight as to be indiscernible. I now have two sports cars sitting on my bench.  I don't have a lot of other keys - a few straight keys and a few bugs and few other miscellaneous paddles.  I fear that none of those guys will be seeing much action anytime soon!

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

Friday, October 28, 2016


Picking it up tonight !  Feeling stoked!

A pre-owned Bencher Mercury paddle. Literally a deal I could not pass up.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

QST - To All Radio Amateurs

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB039 ARLB039 Rule Making Petition to FCC Calls for Vanity Call Sign Rule Changes

ZCZC AG39 QST de W1AW ARRL Bulletin 39 ARLB039 From ARRL Headquarters Newington CT October 27, 2016 To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB039 ARLB039 Rule Making Petition to FCC Calls for Vanity Call Sign Rule Changes

The FCC is inviting comments on a Petition for Rule Making (RM-11775) from a Nevada radio amateur that seeks changes to the rules governing the Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Program. Christopher LaRue, W4ADL, of North Las Vegas, is proposing that any licensee obtaining a vanity call sign be required to keep it for the full license term. LaRue contends in his petition that excessive and frequent vanity call sign filings are hampering the ability of other qualified licensees to obtain vanity call signs in one of the more desirable 1 x 2 or 2 x 1 formats. LaRue said that since the FCC dropped the fee to file for a vanity call sign, some applicants are taking advantage by regularly obtaining new call signs, thereby keeping them out of circulation.

The petition can be found on the web in PDF format at, .

"Some are changing call signs almost monthly, just to keep the newer code-free Extra class operators from obtaining a shorter call sign," he said in his petition. "I even saw an older operator that said he does it all the time and has not even owned a radio in over 6 years. When I looked him up, he has had 16 different [call signs] in 18 months."

LaRue said his proposed minor rule change would require any licensee applying for and obtaining an Amateur Radio vanity call sign "be required to keep it for the duration of the license, which is currently 10 years."

He said this would "alleviate a lot of the stress on the ULS system and manpower requirements" at the FCC. "It will also keep inactive amateurs from changing call signs regularly, thereby tying up call signs for 2 years after dismissal of said call."

Interested parties may comment using the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at, . Comments are due within 30 days of the October 26 posting date. NNNN /EX

I had no idea this was occurring!  Takes all kinds, I guess.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Tab

In addition to the general blog posts, you may or may have not noticed several page tabs up here right underneath the "blog image".  Here's where I moved most of the content of my old web page which has since gone into oblivion.

I want to start a new tab - but I am going to need your help.  I want to fill it with links to the most useful and popular links to sources for supplies for QRP, portable ops, CW and Kit building and home brewing.

So please add a comment, or you can always send links to your favorite places to

To kick off the process, here are just a few, right off the bat:

QRP kits -

SOTA Beams - -

QRP Guys -

American Morse Equipment -

And so on.  I am particularly interested in listing suppliers from outside the US as well.  I know a lot of readers live outside the US, so I'd like to list and promote suppliers that are easy for you to shop from, too.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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

Monday, October 17, 2016


Being a Manned Spaceflight/All-Things-Connected-To-Space geek, I have to share this. This was posted by Bob Hetsko on the "Mercury, Gemini, & Saturn/Apollo Program Era" page on Facebook. This actually made me "laugh out loud".

Anyone for BBQ?

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Night of the Living Dead

Otherwise known as the Zombie Shuffle is on for 2016. Woot!

As announced on QRP-L by Paul NA5N:

The 19th annual 2016 Zombie Shuffle will be held on: FRIDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 21, 2016 (to avoid Oct. 27-28 CQ World Wide contest)

Rules and the usual useless information here:

RULE CHANGE: The Zombie Shuffle will begin at 1600 local time instead of the former 1800 sundown by request from several Zombies. This is to give participants more time on 20M to make contacts before we're forced to the rats nest on 40M.

If you've never participated in the Zombie Shuffle, by all means do so. There is no purpose to the ZS except to get on the air and wrack up a ridiculously high score, based more on serendipity than code speed or operating skill. So dust off your key and be a QRP Zombie.

If you are new to the ZS and need a Zombie number assigned (they are good for life), email the Grand Witchess at

With the sun very quiet lately, hopefully we won't be having any geomagnetic storms this year for a bit quieter 40M.

72, Paul NA5N Zombie #004

This is great news for me, as I thought the Shuffle was going to be held the following Friday, the 28th (which would put it closer to Halloween).  I have a Radio Club meeting that night and would not be able to participate until the bulk of activity is over.  As Recording Secretary, I really should be at the meeting.  With that conflict out of the way, I can shuffle along with the other Zombies!

Is there a better way to end a hectic week than by playing QRP with your friends on a Friday night?

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Zombie # 858

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Going solar

Well ...... kinda sorta.

I went to Harbor Freight yesterday during lunch to buy a 15" soft tool bag that I had a coupon for. The purpose of the bag is to haul around the disassembled pieces of my magnetic loop antenna.

While I was there, I started walking up and down the aisles, looking and knowing I had a 20% "off" coupon in my pocket.  You can get into a lot of trouble this way, but I got myself into only minor trouble, I guess.

I purchased one of these:
It's an attache` case sized solar panel with 12V and 24V - (unregulated) outputs.  It's rated at 13 Watts. This will be head and shoulders above the mini panels that I use now for charging 12V SLAs.  Knowing the output is unregulated, I then proceeded over to Banggood and picked up one of these:
So not only will I be able to charge deep cycle batteries in an environmentally friendly manner (we all gotta do our part!); but I can even run the KX3 (after mucho testing, of course!) off the panel for Field Day as this little unit will regulate the panel's output to a steady 12V.

Both units ran me less than $75.

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

Thursday, October 06, 2016


To all my friends/readers in Florida, Georgia and The Carolinas ........

Earnest prayers that Matthew leaves you as un-battered and un-bruised as possible - AND that all your antennas stay up in the air.

Be safe; and have those batteries charged and those "Go Kits" locked and loaded!

And special prayers go out for our friends in the Carribean nations who are dealing with the aftermath.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The KISS principle - always a winner.

WARNING!  The following post contains OPINION. It is not meant to slight anyone, or to infer that the author knows better than anyone else. The Good Lord knows, THAT'S not true. LOL!

I was wafting through Facebook, and I saw a post on the ARRL NPOTA page about a "busted" activation that only yielded 5 QSOs - a minimum of 10 is needed for a valid activation. Mind you, not 10 QSLs - 10 QSOs.

I looked at the pictures he posted and everything looked pretty good.  I am thinking that it was just a case of lousy band conditions. He definitely deserved an "A" for effort.  BUT, (there's ALWAYS a "but", isn't there?) his setup, while looking marvelous, appeared a bit too elaborate for my taste.

And that, I think, is where a lot of NPOTA activators and I part company. I've seen many photos of setups that approach Field Day scenarios.  Like ....... did anyone notice the cover of the latest DX Engineering catalog? There was an NPOTA setup there that looked better than our SPARC Field Day.

It seems many NPOTA activators are there for marathon sessions - hours upon hours, handing out hundreds of QSOs. That's good for all the chasers and I applaud them; but I like the simpler approach.

The KISS principle, or "Keep It Simple, Stupid" has worked well for many portable ops, such as SOTA, the QRP Sprints, etc.  Break out the rig, hook up a battery, throw a wire up in a tree (or to a portable mast where using trees is a no-no), or perhaps a doublet, or a vertical or magloop and go to town.  The emphasis being on the word "portable".

It seems to have worked very well for the SOTAteers (Steve WG0AT comes to mind) all these years, and for NPOTA activators such as Joe N2CX and Eric WD8RIF, Ed WA3WSJ and "yours truly" among others. And if dropping those names wasn't enough, if you follow the adventures of the "Premier" portable op, Jim W1PID, then you know the words I speak are true.

Keep It Simple = less to forget, less to break, less to not work, less to lose, more time to actually operate (who wants to spend all their valuable time setting up and tearing down an elaborate setup?) and hopefully, more success!

Simple doesn't handicap the superb ops - for a reminder, here's a re-post of KX9X's Pigeon Key video:

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


This coming Saturday is the annual Simulated Emergency Test.  Amateur Radio operators who volunteer with Public Service and Emergency Management agencies throughout the United States will be getting on the air, sending an receiving drill messages. This is done in preparation for "If this had been an actual emergency" - re, the verbiage of the National Emergency Broadcasting messages.

Here in Middlesex County, New Jersey, our simulated emergency is another hurricane scenario.

How appropriate. because in the following couple of days,this may become a very real possibility:

Meet Hurricane Matthew.  He's a nasty bugger. Today, he's dropping 40 inches (100 cm) of rain (yes, you read that right) on portions of Haiti and Cuba. This hellion may make landfall somewhere over the Carolinas early Sunday morning, if he doesn't turn out to sea.

If he hugs the coast, New Jersey will be in for a lot of rain, coastal flooding and a wicked storm surge sometime Sunday into Monday.  Not exactly the way you want to start off your week.

Our barrier islands and low laying coastal towns are already making plans for evacuations and other hurricane preparedness activities.  We've been very lucky in New Jersey as we haven't been hit hard since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Let's hope we dodge another bullet with Matthew.  If not, and Amateur Radio ops are needed by our towns or counties - we're ready.

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

Monday, October 03, 2016

I want one of these!

Mini-iambic paddle with magnetic return!  According to a post on Facebook, these are in Beta test (Europe only) and will hopefully be in production soon.

These look to be just the thing for portable ops.

I did not know about, until I saw this post on Facebook. Looks to be another fine Vendor for the QRP/Homebrew world.

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

Sunday, October 02, 2016

NPOTA success - WR03

The day dawned gray. misty and chilly, but it wasn't downpouring. So I collected this bag of bones out of bed. I showered, shaved, got dressed and packed the Jeep with everything necessary for a ride to NPOTA land.

As stated a few days ago, the destination was WR03, the Delaware National Scenic River, via Washington's Crossing State Park, in Titusville, NJ.  Thanks to the fact that there was hardly any traffic on an early Sunday morning, I arrived in about 45 minutes.

Everything was wet from the light rains and heavy mist that fell throughout the night. I made the decision to forgo using a soggy, leaf covered picnic table and used my camping table and folding chair from the parking lot, instead.  This was not the main parking lot, but a smaller one, farther in the park. It was literally a stone's toss from the river.

You can see the 25' piece of coax going up to the PAR in the tree.

The set up was the usual, the KX3 at 5 Watts to a PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10 in a tree.  I got really good height this time. The PAR was easily 50 -60 feet up in the air this time. And that was evident with the results - 43 QSOs in under 90 minutes. 20 Meters was LONG! I worked Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Mexico, California, Montana and appropriately enough, Washington State.  40 Meters got me up and down the east coast and as far west as Minnesota.

I called it quits after about 90 minutes as the QSOs were drying up and I was starting to get a bit chilled.  Oh, and there were skeeters! But NOT the kind that I like. I was swatting at them the whole time I was there. Who would have thought that mosquitoes would be out and about on a damp, and chilly day in the high 50s?  After I packed up, but before leaving, I walked around to snap a few more photos.

This is a re-creation of one of the "boats" that were in use during Colonial times to ferry people and supplies across the river. It's really not much more than a glorified raft. So the painting IS right. Washington stood ...... and do did everyone else!

The house owned by the "ferry operator".

Later, when I had time to think about all of this, it was truly amazing.  2,400 men, some horses and artillery began silently crossing the river as soon as it got to be dark (There were British spies all over). Once they all reached the New Jersey side,they all marched the 20 or so miles to Trenton throughout snowy fields and made it there by daybreak. The effort just to get to Trenton must have been exhausting given the distance, the cold and the snow. Then they surprised the Hessians and won the battle without one Continental soldier being lost. Astounding!

All in all, it was another good NPOTA day. I thank all the chasers who worked me and I look forward to another adventure in a few more weeks - this time, maybe the NJ Pine Barrens.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sometimes you can just feel your HBP climbing.

Saw this on Facebook, on the ARRL National Parks on the Air page.  The original post was a question:
"How much power (wattage) do you use for NPOTA QSO's? (Question is for both activators and chasers)?"

I answered with:
"Worked Bill AB4BJ in Utah today from NJ. 5W SSB. When activating, 5W CW."

My comment was immediately followed by someone who said:  
"100W - 95% of the time for chasing. 50 to 100W activating. QRP is unfair to chasers."


"QRP is unfair to chasers?" How the heck can QRP be unfair to chasers?

If you understand propagation, then a QRP signal will be loud to someone, somewhere.  As I've stated SO many times before, QRP does NOT automatically equal "weak signal".  I gave, as an example, just last Sunday, when I worked that N7 station from Seattle, WA in the Peanut Power Sprint.  His 5 Watts almost blew my earbuds out.  He was 20 over 9, if he was anything. And there were quite a few times that I got the comment "FB SIGS" during a QSO when I was using 5 Watts (but not mentioning that fact).  Heck, I'm sure you have, too.  In fact, I'm sure every QRPer has heard that at least once - probably many, many times more.

So, if QRP is unfair to chasers, how about the times that I can't hear the activators running 100 Watts?  Do I blame them for running "low power"? Should everyone run the full 1.5 kW?  Would that be fair and satisfy everyone?

Bottom line - It is what it is. If you can hear 'em then try to work 'em. If you can't hear 'em - what are you worrying about?

Or maybe it might be better if certain people went back to the ol' study manual and brushed up on that chapter about propagation.

I just don't understand comments like that..

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sunday morning is open

Sunday morning is currently open. As we get to the weekend, if the weather turns out to be decent (and no surprises come in out of left field), I am thinking of taking a trip to Washington's Crossing State Park in Tiutsville, NJ to activate NPOTA WR03, the Delaware National Scenic River.  As you can imagine, the park is right on the (scenic) Delaware.

I've never been there, myself, but my family has a very small connection to the park.  Back in the early 1970's my Mom, who was an avid needle-point'er and cross-stitch'er, did a custom needle-point rendition of Emanuel Leutze's famous painting. By custom, I mean that this needle point project was not available at any retail store. My Mom had a blank needle point canvas given to an artist in Philadelphia, who actually "re-painted" Leutze's image upon it, so that my Mom could perform her stitchery.

My Mom was an avid fan of all things Colonial and tied to the Revolutionary War Period.  This is definitely where my affinity for that time in history came from.

The finished, framed piece was displayed at Washington's Crossing State Park during our Bicentennial year - 1976.  After that, it hung in our living room up until my Dad passed away and my Mom moved. For 9 years, it hung in my Mom's apartment. When she passed away, the piece was bequeathed to my sister and it now hangs proudly in her house. 

So it occurred to me that a trip to Washington's Crossing State Park for NPOTA year seems like the right thing to do. I get to have another activation under my belt, and in a way, honor my Mom's memory in the process.

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

Monday, September 26, 2016

A word to the wise

I'm sure that many of you have heard about the data breach that occurred at Yahoo. A word to the wise. If you have a Yahoo account, sign in and change your password.

Yesterday,  I tried to check my email (I use the web based Yahoo email client) only to discover that my account was blocked. It appeared that someone was trying to access my email,  or change my password,  only to fail too many times at guessing the answers to my security questions.

With the help of Verizon,  I was able to change not only my password,  but also my security questions.  So that issue is taken care of. But before you get to the point that I reached, it would be best to be proactive if you have a Yahoo account.

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

Nibs bitter the butter

Remember that TV commercial from the 1970s?  I think it was for Jif peanut butter. Basically, the point was that the peanut butter company removes the little "nib" from between the two peanut halves before processing, because including them taints the sweetness of the peanut butter.

I had to deal with a bunch of nibs yesterday during the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint.  My "nibs" were RTTY stations on 40 Meters that pretty much made the band useless for CW. I believe it was the CQ WW RTTY contest that was in full bloom, with RTTY stations going right down to the very band edge.

There was a time, way back in the 90's, that Digital ops respected a line around 7.055 MHz or so - where they would go no lower in order not to disrupt CW operations on the band.  And I would know as I was pretty heavy into RTTY and the TOR modes at the time. I see that "gentleman's agreement" has been pretty much shot to Hades.

20 Meters was in good shape, however, so that took away the sting of not being able to make many contacts on 40 Meters.  When all was said and done, I made 25 contacts, most of which occurred on 20 Meters. Without having my log to refer to, I believe only 5 QSOs happened on 40 Meters.

The smart one was Marc W4MPS in North Carolina.  Marc was able to find this little tiny spot between two very strong digital ops, and he just ran the frequency like the pro that he is. Most of my 40 Meters contacts were from searching and pouncing. I tried calling CQ for a while on 40 Meters, but it proved to pretty much just be a waste of time.

My best contact on 20 Meters was with a station in Washington State.  Again, without my log in front of me, the call escapes me - it was an N7 station - that much I remember. Anyway, he was about 20 over 9 to me in NJ.  20 over 9 with only 5 Watts from 3,000 miles away. He almost knocked the earbuds right out of my ears. So much for the "QRP equals weak signals" argument!

And that's an argument that needed to be refuted on Facebook again this morning.  On the "100 Watts and a Wire" page - someone asked how many members are truly QRP.  In the middle of the answers, a German op came on with the old "It's all in the listening station" fallacy" again. "The better question to ask is, Who has a big enough station to hear QRP.?"


Obviously, I had a big enough station to hear QRP signals yesterday; and all I was using was a KX3 and a PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10. And if I could hear QRP stations just fine with that - then what's anyone else's excuse?

The excuse turns out to be that there are a plethora of Hams out there who really don't understand propagation and antennas.  They believe that power is everything, and as it turns out, nothing could be farther from the truth.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peanut Power Sprint - this Sunday !

Listen to Lucy and don't be a blockhead!  The NoGA Peanut Power Sprint is this Sunday, and as usual, it will be a ton of fun!

If you have EVER been shy about QRP contesting; but have been hankering to give it a try - then this is YOUR event!  It's only two hours long - who can't spare two hours on a Sunday afternoon?

What's that? You're thinking "QRP CW ...... hmmmmm ........ I don't know ........? " Well, those wily NoGAnauts have thought of you, too. There's a QRO entry category AND this is NOT a "CW Only" event - SSB is allowed- so NO excuses! For the rules (which are simple!) go here and click on "Peanut Power Sprint" on the left hand side.

So do yourself a favor and go nuts for a few hours! You deserve it - you know you do!

And don't be a party pooper like Snoopy and keep this a secret - tell your Ham Radio buddies and let them join in on the fun, too!

See you on the bands on Sunday afternoon! "Goober" or "Salted"? - not sure yet!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Peanut #43
QRP - When you care to send the very least

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Filed under "Miscellaneous"

From the ARRL:

Amateur Radio-Military Interoperability Exercise Set for October 31-November 1

An Amateur Radio-military interoperability exercise will take place October 31 and November 1. The event will begin at 1200 UTC on October 31 and continue through 2359 UTC on November 1 on 60 meter channels 1-4 —5.3305 MHz, 5.3465 MHz, 5.357 MHz, and 5.3715 MHz, respectively.

During this exercise, military stations will attempt to make radio contact with stations in as many of the 3143 US counties as possible. Radio amateurs providing “county status” information will receive a US Department of Defense “interoperability QSL card.”

Also from the ARRL:

Logbook of The World to No Longer Accept Contacts Signed by TQSL Versions Earlier Than 2.0

As of 1400 UTC on January 16, 2017, ARRL Logbook of The World (LoTW) no longer will accept contacts that have been digitally signed by versions of TQSL earlier than version 2.0.

Users of earlier versions are encouraged to upgrade as soon as possible, as older TQSL versions contain uncorrected defects and display inaccurate error messages. The current versions of TQSL for Windows, OS X, and Linux are available online.

To date, LoTW has confirmed some 135 million contacts for its 90,000 users. — Thanks to Norm Fusaro, W3IZ

Morse Code in the News

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

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekend plans go semi awry.

I had planned on two Amateur Radio activities this weekend. I almost ended up going 0 for 2, but ended up batting .500 instead.

My first planned activity was to participate in the NJ QSO Party on Saturday.  The work party that I attended at the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management went longer than I anticipated. I'm glad we got the work done that we did, though, as it was important that it got done before the Simulated Emergency test in October. When I got home, there was still plenty of time to participate in the contest - no doubt. Other chores had to be taken care of first, though; and I made sure I got those done. End result? One very tired W2LJ and no NJQP on Saturday.

After dinner, I sat down with the tablet and saw on the ARRL NPOTA Facebook page that Peter K0BAK was doing  a sweep of NJ activations this weekend, including AA17, the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.  My heart sank a bit because he's such a superb operator and activator - does AA17 really need to be activated twice the same day? And if you had the chance to work either me or Peter .... heck, even I'd rather work Peter than me !!!

When I went to bed last night, I was really iffy about making the effort. The weather was supposed to be suspect but I decided to sleep on it, thinking perhaps that maybe it might be better to wait for another weekend.

Sunday morning dawned muggy and overcast. Not exactly the greatest of weather conditions. But then the thought occurred to me that K0BAK normally does most of his operating on SSB, and mine was to be CW; so I decided to throw caution to the wind and decided to go to Cheesequake State Park, anyway.

I left the house a little after 9:00 AM and got to the park just around 9:30 AM.  I found the Spring Hill Picnic Grounds to be deserted, save for a few parked cars. The occupants of those cars were all going off on hikes as the lot also served as the starting point for one of the park's many trailheads. With the picnic tables all to myself, I set up the PAR ENDFEDZ 40/20/10.  The line went up over a 60 foot tree with ease thanks to my trusty Joplin MO ARC Antenna Launcher.  I literally had the antenna up within minutes.  I've had enough practice with the launcher to now get a good shot on the first try, at least 90% of the time.

The setup was the usual, KX3 to antenna, the Power Werk deep cycle battery, the Palm Micro paddles and a set of ear buds.  The ear buds turned to be a life saver, as the picnic area turned out to be pretty gosh darn close to the Garden State Parkway, and there was lots of highway noise.  In some cases, there were also some ignition noise moments.  I thought I was far enough away where that wouldn't be a concern; but there must be a few vehicles out there that are close to being spark gap transmitters!

I got on the air at 1400 UTC, calling "CQ NPOTA" on 40 Meters at 7.034 MHz, and had my first QSO with W3JRR at 1415 UTC.  I stayed on 40 Meters for about 45 minutes before taking a break to stretch my legs and to use the rest facilities. Thank the Lord they were open!  I came back to the ear buds, and I could have sworn that I heard "BBO".  I thought that was my good friend W3BBO looking for me; as I spotted myself on the Cluster.  I called him a few times and heard no come back; so I decided to move on up to 20 Meters.

20 Meters turned out to be the better band.  My farthest DX QSOs happened there with S58AL in Slovenia and ON4RO in Belgium. I also ended up working Arizona and Washington state on 20 Meters. So even though I made it to Europe, this is where the Reverse Beacon Network picked me up:

Just before 1600 UTC, I was visited by a Park Ranger who came to put up a sign showing that the picnic grounds had been reserved by a Baptist Church group for a BBQ.  It was booked for 1:00 PM local or 1700 UTC.  I decided to pack it in, anyway.  My original plan was to put in about two hours, so that I wouldn't be away from the family for the entire day; and I put in my two hours, so I was happy.

The highlights of the day were working Kay Craigie N3KN, Dave Benson K1SWL of Small Wonder Labs and Rockmite fame, as well as Paul Signorelli W0RW, of QRP and Paraset Pedestrian Mobile fame.  It's always cool when you go on an outing like this and hear the call signs of people you regard as friends.  Not to say that ALL of you aren't friends ........ but you know what I mean!

37 QSOs later, my activation of AA17 was in the books for the day.  I still hope to join up with Dave Hackett KD2FSI to activate the Pine Barrens and the Delaware Water Gap and the Appalachian Trail before NPOTA comes to a close - so stay tuned!

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

New Jersey QSO Party this weekend!

Not one of the biggies, by any means, but the Burlington County Amateur Radio Club has been working their tails off to get the NJ QSO Party back in the mainstream.  For years, there was a lack of participation; but due to their diligence, it seems to be making a comeback.

For all the details, please visit:

I have a Middlesex County OEM work detail to attend in the morning.  I hope to get some operating time in sometime during the afternoon.  Maybe out on the patio table with the mag loop?

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

It's a toss up

The weather forecast for Sunday is uncertain.  There's a good chance for scattered thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and evening; but the morning is looking "OK".  I have the morning free; as we'll be attending Church on Saturday evening - so I have two options.

Option A is to attend the Garden State Amateur Radio Association Hamfest in Tinton Falls, NJ.  I've never been to this one. I'm not sure how big it is, whether or not it's worth it, etc.  I am intrigued by their offering of "entertainment".  What could that possibly be?
Hopefully, it's something better than watching a bunch of Hams trying to duke it out over the "$1 Bargain Bin".

Option B is to activate NPOTA AA17 - The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.  Cheesequake State Park is part of the Trail and seems to offer many picnic areas near wooded spots. Can you say "antenna support"?

That would offer an ideal location to set up, sit down and possibly launch a EFHW into a convenient tree.  The park opens at 8:00 AM, and now that Labor Day is behind us, it's now considered to be "Off Season". That means that there are no park entry fees (cheapskate that I am). If I get there around 8:30 AM or 9:00 AM-ish, I could operate for a couple or three hours (probably relatively undisturbed) and still get back in time to do something with the family.

I'll probably end up going with the NPOTA activation, as it's cheaper (for me) in the long run. The temptation of GSARA is that I'd probably come home with something I don't need - an empty wallet.

Stay tuned!

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

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon them ......

Remembering those who perished - NYC, the Pentagon, Shanksville, PA.

72 de Larry W2LJ