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!