Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mag loop success!

After Sunday's discouraging outcome,  I decided to give the mag loop another little workout tonight during the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt. Even though I'm dog tired after a long day at work,  I had enough energy to give it a shot.

I must say that I'm getting pretty darn good at putting it together.  It's getting to the point now that I can be on the air within 5 minutes. I do need to get a better tripod, though. My little Buddistick minipod doesn't offer enough stability.

At any rate,  tuning the capacitor was once again a breeze, and I found Todd N9NE rather quickly. He had a great signal, as always;  and he's such a great op that it wasn't hard to figure his split.  I got him on my second or third call. What's nice about the loop is that I was able to rotate it for maximum signal strength from Todd. He was his usual strong 559 and I received the same in return.


Even though I usually have a pipeline to Todd in Wisconsin, it was nice to have another success with the loop. I'd still rather use a conventional antenna whenever possible, but it sure is nice to have another reliable RF arrow in the quiver. After some 39 years of "More wire ....... and the higher, the better!", it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that a 3 foot diameter loop at no more than a few feet off the ground works at all, let alone that it seems to work well. Physics and results don't lie, I guess.

Conventional wisdom isn't so conventional - again.  Maybe I need to go search for some of that "unconventional" wisdom.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bands were crappy yesterday

Saturday was a very busy, busy day for me.  I was determined to do "not much of anything" on Sunday, as a result of that busy-ness. It was still chilly in the basement; so I brought the magloop upstairs to do a little experimenting

First off, in my mind, the loop has proven itself as a viable performer on 20 Meters.  I have made several trans-Continental and trans-Oceanic QSOs with it.  However, I have not used the loop much on 40 Meters, or any of the other bands at all, if I remember correctly.

That said, I was itching to log some QSOs, so I started out on 20 Meters, where my previous success had been.  I was disappointed as I didn't hear many signals; and the ones I did hear were weak and watery.  On the bright side, I was able to find the "sweet spot" on the tuning capacitor as easily as I did before and it was pretty easy to bring the SWR down to about 1.2:1.

So I hopped to 40, 30 and 17 Meters, respectively.  On each band I was able to find the "sweet spot" on the tuning capacitor with ease.  The background noise would peak very easily and some careful tuning back and forth resulted in very respectable SWRs on each band.  But again, 17 and 30 Meters seemed to both be pretty dead.

40 Meters had a few loud signals; but it seemed everyone I heard was already in QSO. I wasn't able to hear anyone calling CQ.  Because of that, I called CQ on both 20 and 40 Meters.  No answers on 40 Meters, but there was a very weak answer on 20 Meters.  I could tell that a station was calling me; but I just could not pull them out of the background noise.  Whoever that might have been, I apologize.

In all I spent about 45 minutes playing around, mostly just band switching to see how quickly I could tune the loop after band/frequency hops.  Even with the 6:1 reduction drive installed, it was not long at all before I was ready to go after making a change.

Here's an RBN map of where my CQs were being heard:


Disappointed by the band conditions, I headed down to the basement shack to see if perhaps it was the antenna instead of the band being dead.  Nope - the Butternut HF9V and the W3EDP weren't hearing any better, if at all.  Just another one of those days of when you want to get on the air; but there's just not much doing.

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stella !!!!


Not done yet. For now, due to the storm sweeping in tropical warmth in the upper troughs, the precipitation has changed from snow to sleet and ice pellets.  As things wrap around, we should go back to snow within a few hours. So far, 7 inches on the ground and the antennas are still up; but the winds are starting to increase.

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tomorrow


I "just" make it into the 18-24 inch area.  The boundary between us and less snowfall will be the Raritan River; and I'm north of it.

The reminds me of a snow event back sometime in the mid 80s when I was living in East Brunswick. We got rain; but my sister and I were in her car and we crossed one of the bridges over the Raritan and it was like driving through a door - rain on one side, snow on the other.

Weather can be a funny thing.  I just hope my antennas escape, unscathed. I never worry about the Butternut; but I'm always checking the wire during events like these.

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another cold weekend

Another cold March weekend in New Jersey.  The trees are budding, and the daffodils are quite sad as thry are being blanketed with snow.  We got just a coating yesterday, but the possibility is emerging for a MAJOR snow event this coming Tuesday.


Budding trees


Snow on the gound (not much ....... for now!)


Very disgruntled Daffodils!

And this morning, when I woke up, it was a very brisk 15F (-9C) outside.  Not my favorite time of year, by any means. It seems Nature is playing a game of tug-o'-war with Old Man Winter; and he's in no hurry to give up and go!

To warm my heart and to remind me of what's shortly to come, I received this certificate via email from the WWFF/KFF folks:


I am hanging on for dear life to the fact that soon, this cold weather will be just a bad memory, and that I will be in a park somewhere in NJ activating POTA entities - with the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair and a song (to the tune of CW) in my heart.

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

Sunday, March 05, 2017

C-c-c-c-old !!!!!

It seems surreal that just two Sundays ago, I was sitting in Washington Rock State Park making QSOs at a picnic bench. The temperatures were in the 60s (18C).  Today, I woke up and the thermometer read 8F (-13C). The temperatures took a nose dive on Friday and this weekend was frigid.  So instead of doing much operating, I spent Saturday and a bit of today cleaning the shack.

I'll admit it, I got sloppy and lazy the last few months. But on top of that, it seems the rest of the family used my little area of the basement as a dumping ground for cardboard, Christmas wrapping stuff and other effluvia.  I spent the day cleaning, tossing and organizing, and ended up filling up five large garbage bags.  I also cut up about a dozen cardboard boxes and consolidating them for our bi-weekly recycling pick up tomorrow.  I can now sit in my shack again without being totally disgusted with myself!

Here's a video tour of the somewhat cleaned up W2LJ shack:


I apologize for the video quality as it's not the best; and I'm still getting used to this.

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

Friday, March 03, 2017

QRPTTF 2017 announced!

Today, Paul Harden announced the theme for QRP To The Field 2017 - "A River Runs Through It" or, as he also refers to it - "Rivers On The Air".

http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/2017/ttf.htm

To quote Paul:

Qualifying River: To avoid any confusion defining a river, creek, stream, canal, etc. – if it has a name, it qualifies, whether or not there's water in it when you arrive.  This would include dry river beds and arroyos (with a name) common in the Southwest.  Operate from near the river as safety or local facilities allow.


This year, QRPTTF falls on Saturday, April 22nd. It runs 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Local Time (so it varies from time zone to time zone).

The name of the river is a required part of the exchange, but you're welcomed to shorten it to something manageable - so something like the "Chattahoochie" won't be so daunting on CW.

There's no shortage of rivers, creeks and streams near me, so finding a suitable location to operate shouldn't be a problem.  QRPTTF is one of my most favorite events of the year and is the kick off to the Summer QRP Outdoor Operating season.  Once QRPTTF rolls around - you know Winter is definitely over!

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