Sunday, July 05, 2020

I gave it a shot.

As I stated in an earlier post, I started hunting Colonies on Thursday night. I did not chase on Friday, which was probably a big mistake. With a day to go (and I have to work tomorrow) I find my self still needing K2B Virginia.

So I did a few other things. I must be one of the world's biggest procrastinators. I got some certificates that I had sitting in a file folder framed and hanging on the shack wall.

My !3 Colonies Clean Sweep certificates from 2015 and 2017.

My NPOTA certificates from 2016

Battles of Trenton and Princeton QSLs and certificate from 2020.

Notice the progression of years? I may not be the quickest to get things done, but I get them done eventually!

I have set Ham Alert to notify me if K2B comes up on CW, and if I'm home, I'll run downstairs to try and nab them. I didn't intend to try for another clean sweep, but I guess I've gotten caught up in it.

As an aside, whomever was the op at K2C, Rhode Island, thanks for the "Hi Larry" that was a pleasant surprise.

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

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Independence Day 2020

Happy Independence Day! The birthday of our Nation. Not perfect, by any means, but our Home. 244 years ago, a group of Patriots banded together to do something no colony had ever done before - break the stem tying it to its founding country. That act has been replicated since by many countries throughout the world.

It may be unpopular in this day and age, but thank you Founding Fathers, for your courage, your foresight, and your wisdom. And thank you, to the men and women throughout the ages who have striven to keep the flame of their vision burning brightly - in good times and in bad. May God continue to bless these United States of America.


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

Friday, July 03, 2020

Recharging

I have the day off today for a little expanded Independence Day weekend. So in addition to recharging myself, I'm also topping off my deep cycle battery after Field Day.


That's Harold, stretched out on the grass, enjoying a little sunshine as well.

I didn't work either Fox in the 20 Meter QRP Foxhunt last evening. Steve WX2S, who is just 18 miles away from me was just too close for 20 Meters. Brian K0DTJ in California was a whisper all evening - perhaps 229 at best. He wasn't loud enough to send my call and perhaps QRM someone who had a legitimate shot at working him.

So I twiddled the dial and worked 5 Colonies in the space of about 20 minutes. K2K in New Hampshire on 160 Meters, K2E in Delaware on 40 Meters, K2I in New Jersey, K2H in Massachuesetts, and K2D in Connecticut all on 80 Meters - and I wasn't even trying real hard. And all with 5 Watts.

Don't know if I'm going to continue to hunt down the remaining eight. We'll see how the weekend progresses.

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

Thursday, July 02, 2020

13 Colonies Special Event

It's on once again!


For those of you who have never operated in this event before, please make sure to give it a try. In the years it has been around, it has grown to become one of the most popular non-contest operating events of the year. Details can be found here - http://www.13colonies.us/

Notice I kind of highlighted the words "non-contest". It's supposed to be a fun operating event. You know, a low stress, have fun kind-of-thing. I've participated several times and always had fun. Even had a "clean sweep" two times.

Unfortunately, and way beyond the organizer's control, there are those who turn this into a competition, to see who can complete the task the fastest. Immediately, "What's the fun in that?" comes to my mind, but that's just MHO. The event last from July 1 to July 13 - there's ample time even for casual operators.

Then, in the past few years, there have been the regrettable instances of jamming and people just acting like butt holes in the pile-ups. and yes, there ARE pile-ups! The baddies are hard to ignore, but you can. When someone starts acting like a jerk, go chase one of the other Colonies until things calm down. Some people feel the need to spoil things for everyone - and unfortunately this event gets its fair share. This year, with a lot of folks working from home, maybe the activity will be more spread out with less of a reason for the jerks to act jerky.

But all that aside, getting all 13 Colonies and the bonus stations can be a ton of fun, and you can feel good about the accomplishment.  My advice would be to just have fun ...... period. If you find yourself smacking your forehead at some of the idiocy you may encounter (hopefully you won't) ....... then it's time for an ice cream break, because we all know, ice cream makes everything better!

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

Monday, June 29, 2020

Field Day ...... Post Mortem


There's nobody like Philip "Gil" Gildersleeve !!!

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

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Field Day - it's like Lays Potato Chips

You can't eat just one - you can't make just one QSO.

As I stated before, I was not really hepped up for this Field Day. For me, Field Day is way more than just the operating event. The planning, the set up and tear down, the being with good friends who understand your passion end enjoy doing what you do. It's a social event - not just an operating event; and that's what makes it so special - and for 2020, COVID-19 blew all that right out of the water. So no, I was not very eager about Field Day 2020.

The plan was to set up the station out on the patio, operate from the table we have out there under the big market umbrella. I took care of all my chores early with the intent of setting up around 1:30. It doesn't take long when your equipment is designed with portable in mind. While I was mowing the lawn, my phone chirped with an advisory from NWS - severe thunderstorm watch until 8:00 PM local time. That torpedoed my outdoor plans, which in turn made set up even easier. I decided to take my portable KX3 down to the basement, hook it up to the deep cycle marine battery and operate there as W2LJ 1E NNJ. Set up would be even easier, 5 minutes max.

After I mowed the lawn (final chore of many), I set down on the couch. BIG MISTAKE!  Next thing I know, it's 2:30 PM and Field Day had begun without W2LJ. When I awoke, I took everything downstairs and WAS operational within 5-10 minutes. I worked until I had 20 stations in the log and came upstairs for a stretch break and something cold to drink. That's when I heard my AcuRite lightning detector chirping. I rushed downstairs, disconnected the antennas and shut everything down. And to be honest with you, I wasn't sure if I was even going to bother getting on again. It's just not the same as being in the field. To that point, about a three hour break ensued which included dinner and being with the family.

Around 8:00 PM, I decided I'd give it another go - maybe I could get to 50 stations worked before turning in,  Conditions on both 80 and 40 Meters were fantastic! 20 Meters was good as well, but for some reason, the SWR on 20 Meters was like a roller coaster, up and down, up and down. I had to hit the ATU button on the KX3 quite often - something I never had to do before. Not knowing what the problem was, I stayed on the W3EDP and when I looked at the clock, it was Midnight, I worked two more stations to bring my total to 100 QSOs and hit the sack for the night at 12:15 AM.

When I woke this morning, I was pleased with my total and was kind of ambivalent about getting on again. But like the post title says, once you're into it, for better or worse, Field Day is like Lays potato chips - "You can't eat just one."  I took a shower, made some coffee and headed down to the shack again, Before I knew it, I was at 150 QSOs when I decided to take another break. 15 Meters had been open and surprisingly, the HF9V played well and behaved itself, To me, that meant any problem was not at the feed point or with the feed line, It had to be something with the antenna itself. I knew that I would investigate some time after 2:00 PM.

I sat down on the couch again, took another short snooze and when I woke up, I headed down to the shack for one last time. "Maybe I can make it to 175 QSOs", I thought to myself. 175 became 185 and the 185 became 190 and finally reached 200 when I shut down with about 20 minutes to go, In that last session, I actually ran a frequency for a little while on 40 Meters and actually had a tiny pile up. Not bad for 5 watts, eh? Here's the statistical break down:


Not the best Field Day effort I've ever put forth, but considering the circumstances, not a terrible one, either. I'm pretty happy with it,

As a whole, propagation was weird. Severe QSB plagued both days, and for me at least, most of  my RF was blocked by an invisible RF shield located at the Mississippi River.  Colorado, North Texas and Saskatchewan were the only locations in the West that intercepted my RF.


I worked all the US Eastern Sections except for North New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands ...... and Indiana! Hey, Indiana Fireflies - where were you guys? LOL!

To complete the day, I discovered and rectified my 20 Meter SWR problem, I hadn't noticed that ivy had grown into and wrapped itself in the HF9V's coils. I cut the vine at the base and removed the offending foliage. A quick run to the basement seems to indicate (for now) that the ivy was indeed the problem. Some "TEST DE W2LJ VVVVV" transmissions on 20 Meters and the SWR remained rock solid at 1.2:1. I hope that's all this was - I don't need bigger antenna problems.

Thanks to all who worked me and put me in their logs!

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


Friday, June 26, 2020

Ubiquitous start

Last night was the beginning of the 2020 QRP Fox Hunt Summer season. I did not end up the outcome that I would have hoped for.

The Foxes for the evening were N7CQR in Oregon and N4FP in Florida. I spotted both easily by locating the packs of baying Hounds calling each. Alas, while I heard the Hounds, not the slightest scent on the Foxes themselves. Well ......... that's not totally true. I did hear N4FP for a few minutes at ESP levels. I could tell he was calling "CQ FOX", but he was not strong enough to justify sending my call and perhaps spoiling someone else's chances by generating unintentional QRM. N7CQR on the other hand was as silent as a tombstone to me.

The evening was not a total loss, however. I was fooling around with upgrading my version of N3FJP's AC Log to the newest version. I turned on the DX spotting function and my mouse accidentally clicked on CO8WN who was spotted on 40 Meters. Sure enough, the KX3 automatically changed bands and landed on his frequency. He was pretty loud, so I decided to give him a call. Sure enough, I landed him on the first try and got a 579 report without revealing my power output.

It wasn't a couple of Fox pelts hanging out to dry, but it took away some of the sting.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Gearing up for Field Day

Actually, there isn't that much to do. We had our last South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club meeting on Zoom last night to go over details.

Most of us will be operating from our respective homes as 1E NNJ (low power) and we're all going to denote the club affiliation with the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club.  I think most of us, if not all of us have bought a Field Day copy of N3FJP's Amateur Contact Log.

Dave KD2FSI reminded everyone to look at the rules and not to forget the bonus points - such as copying the W1AW Field Day Bulletin. I reminded everyone about bonus points for social media posts.

We're going to lose a lot as a club this year for not being in a public location, having municipal officials visit, etc. But the weather forecast for the weekend is for temperatures in the 90s (33C), so being in a tent while wearing a face covering isn't something that's all that attractive, anyway.

Conversely, NOT being in a tent and operating from home leads to more ....... shall we say ..... distractions? For me, at least, being close to the fridge, the bathroom and all the conveniences of home makes sitting in the chair pounding out Morse for hours on end all that much harder. I know for a fact that once those 80 Meter and 160 Meter contacts dry up at night, I'll be hitting the sack instead of going to the Jeep for a short snooze. I think this year, there will be no such thing as a "short snooze" - LOL!

I was mulling over setting up the KX3 and the PAR END FEDZ in the backyard and operating that way - and I may still do that. All operating will be accomplished using my PowerWerx deep cycle battery which has been charged up via my Harbor Freight solar panel.  Thinking about it as I type this, I probably WILL set up that way for daytime operations and once the evening hours come, I'll just slide down to the basement (with the battery) so I can use the W3EDP for 80 and 160 Meter contacts.

I wasn't all that juiced up for Field Day this year, but after last night's meeting, I'm feeling a bit more excited about it. However, it is my deepest wish that for 2021 Field Day, we can go back to "normal". The thing I will be missing the most is the social aspect of it - toughing it out for 24 hours with my SPARC compadres.

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


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Overwhelming!

The amount of e-mails that I have received requesting Skeeter Hunt numbers has been a bit overwhelming to say the least! And I could not be happier! Is this little Summer QRP Sprint beginning to become a favorite? I certainly hope so!

In the first 24 hours, since I started handing out numbers, I have received 136 requests.  In the past, that didn't happen until way closer to the event. Thank you all so much for your support and participation - does my heart good. And who knows? Maybe we'll actually have some sun spots this year. Could Ol' Sol finally be awakening from his slumber?

The Roster can be found at:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1quCECsmE_cgHexgQhpkHeltX2cIlveSqI_tVqK1z0GM/edit?usp=sharing

Keep those requests coming in, folks - plenty of Skeeter numbers to be had!

On another note,I have been reading a little book that I re-discovered on my kindle. I must have downloaded it a long time ago - I don't even remember when. It's titled "The Brasspounder" and the author is D.G. Sanders.


If you own a kindle, or have the kindle app on one of your devices, you can download this from Amazon for free. The time period the author tells of is the early 1900's - specifically around 1915 when he first started working for the railroad. It's not Amateur Radio related, but the word "ham" does make an appearance early on, in what I thought was, an unexpected way.

It's light reading and goes pretty quickly. In just a few evenings of pre-bedtime reading, I'm already half way through the book. Some of the language is railroad lingo, but it's easy enough to get through, and figure out what he's writing about.

If you get the chance, download it - it's free and is an interesting read of the life of a professional railroad telegrapher.

72 de Larry w2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Sunday, June 14, 2020

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt 2020

Skeeter Hunters!

The Ninth Annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is set for Sunday, August 16th.

A word about Skeeter Hunt numbers as I'm already receiving e-mail requests. Tradition is that Skeeter Hunt numbers are issued as of the First Day of Summer - which this year is NEXT Saturday, June 20th. ONLY e-mail requests sent as of 12:01 AM Saturday EDT will be honored.

"Why/ What difference does it make?" you may well ask yourself. The answer is simple - it gives everyone an equal opportunity to acquire a lower number. To some that's no big deal, but to others it's a very big deal - so everyone gets the same chance. And it also adds another level of participation that keeps YOU in the game, and this is all about keeping you involved.

Why new numbers every year and not the same one year after year like other QRP contests? Because not everyone can participate each year - family commitments or vacations or other things come up that prevent people from participating.

So folks, start pouring in those e-mails to w2ljqrp@gmail.com AFTER Midnight when this coming Friday turns into Saturday, here in NJ. And as always, please, please, PLEASE include your call sign, your name (that you will use when operating) and the State or Province that you will be operating from. It makes it way easier to update the roster if you supply me with all the correct info.

Hope to hear from you all real soon!

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

Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Successful Day

Today, the ETS of NJ VE Team that I belong to had our first successful exam session since this COVID crisis erupted last winter. A session was held in February, but I could not make it as I was stuck in an interminable check out line at our local grocery store. The sessions for March, April and May were canceled.

Governor Murphy had recently relaxed some of the restrictions that were in place, so we were able to hold a session today, albeit with Covid precautionary measures in place.  Our session was held outdoors and not indoors. We had to have two sessions because we had 20 candidates on our "waiting list". Sounds kind of daunting, doesn't it? Actually things went quite smoothly thanks to the actions of our liaison, Drew W2OU.

We had the candidates line up their vehicles on one side of the parking lot. Directly across from them were the vehicles of the VEs. One on one, directly across from each other, facing each other. The candidates were given some restrictions - no passengers, the front of the car had to be totally clear of any printed materials. They were given the option of taking the exam inside their vehicle, or if they wanted, they could bring a chair and clipboard and take the exam in front of their vehicle. If they decided to remain in their vehicle, their cell phones had to be placed on the dashboard where we could see them. Each vehicle was checked for compliance as we collected exam fees and checked photo IDs.

Social distancing was maintained whenever possible. Face coverings and gloves or hand sanitizer were mandatory equipment for the day. VEs were instructed to wear yellow safety vests. We communicated with the candidates via a low power FM transmitter tuned to 88.7 MHz, or thereabouts and they could hear us on their FM broadcast receivers inside their vehicles.








Thankfully, the weather cooperated by giving us a beautiful day and both sessions went off without a hitch. Well, almost. We panicked a bit when we thought we misplaced a candidates completed test answer sheet, but we quickly found it located in another folder. Everyone who came walked away (or should I say drove away) with either a new Technician license or an upgrade, we even had a couple folks come in with no license and went home as General Class ops.

The only sad part of the day was remembering one of our own, Bobby Cure W2REC who became a Silent Key due to this plague. We tried to honor his memory by making him present in spirit at today's session


We left a seat vacant for him and put a straight key in place to honor his years of dedicated service to our VE Team.  RIP, Bobby, you are sorely missed.

For a session this large and due to the unusual circumstances, our VE Team alone would not have been enough, We were assisted by other VE Team members from the Tri-County Radio Club, the Raritan Valley Radio Club, the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club and the New Providence Amateur Radio Club, and I believe even some members from the Fairlawn Amateur Radio Club. I met a whole bunch of VEs for the first time today, that I had never met before. It was a great thing to behold.

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

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Cookie Crumble 2020 was not crummy!

I had a good time, despite a few glitches.

First off, Emily WC3R contacted me during the week to ask me if I'd be interested in being either a Cookie Monster or a Burnt Cookie. I asked her which she needed more and she replied "Burnt". Hmmmmm ..... I was happy to volunteer, but I made up my mind right then and there that I would only call CQ. I would not hunt and pounce and go out of my way to give people negative points. That may not be what the organizers intended, but it felt like the way to go for me. After the fact, I have heard from a few people who have told me that they heard me rather well, but once they heard me give out "Burnt" as my name, they did not respond to my CQs. So my QSO total was probably less than it could have been, but so be it.

Then, in the middle of the contest, the KX3 began acting up. Whenever I went near the cable that connected the battery to the DC Power Socket, the rig shut down. Once it happened in the middle of a QSO.  So I took the rig apart, and took that half down to the shack to re-solder the connections of the jack to the circuit board.  Problem solved!

Oh yes, I ran down to the shack. That means I operated backyard portable from our patio table.



I think this was the first time that I have used my laptop DURING a sprint. I usually log on paper and transfer later. The QSOs were not coming hot and heavy, so there was time for this uber slow typist to add them to Log4OM in real time.

The antenna was the PAR END FEZ which was being supported by Jackite Pole in the bottom photo. I bungeed the Jackite to the swing set and then ran the wire down to the patio chair in the foreground (I didn't want the end touching the ground). It's funny, my two kids are in college, but I haven't gotten rid of the swing set as it serves as a very good support for the Jackite. That's going to change this summer, though. That structure has seen better days and needs to come down.

In all, I made 13 contacts. Nine were with other Cookies and four were not. I made three contacts on 20 Meters, nine contacts on 40 Meters and one contact on 80 Meters. Yes, to my great surprise the KX3 was able to load up the PAR on 80 Meters for one final QSO of the day with the Cookie Queen herself, Emily WC3R.  In addition to working Emily, it did this ol' heart some good to hear such familiar calls as Jim W1PID, John K4BAI, Marc W4MPS and John Paul AB4PP - but thank you EVERYONE for the QSOs - and I apologize for having to be the bearer of negative points.

There were bonus points for posting pictures to Facebook (which I did - the ones above), posting a picture of biting into a cookie on Facebook (which I did not do) and posting a limerick to Facebook (which I did do):

There was never a hobby as hip 
As allows us to chase the skip 
The waves they do propagate 
And to radios our ears do mate 
To hunt down the vaunted chocolate chip.

OK, OK ....... I know, I'm no great author or poet, but points are points! Easy enough to get for composing a bad limerick, but not enticement enough for posting a photo of my ugly mug chomping on a cookie. Between QSO points and bonus points, I ended up submitting a score of 9,354 points. I'm sure that will land me somewhere from middle to bottom. But that's fine because I had fun, it was a gorgeous day weather-wise AND ...... I was not at work!

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

Friday, June 05, 2020

Podcasts

I have to admit, I'm not all that much into podcasts. The four that I pay attention to are listed in the box to the right. I get particular satisfaction from listening to "QSO Today" by Eric Guth 4Z1UG. You can never really get bored listening to "QSO Today" as Eric makes sure to interview people that represent a wide variation of Amateur Radio interests.

That being said, I think the followers of this blog - if they don't already benefit from listening to "QSO Today", would get a kick out of these interviews (I think you'll notice some familiar names ansd call signs):

Episode 304 - Tim Carter W3ATB
Episode 295 - Bry Carling AF4K
Episodes 293 & 80 - Michael Rainey AA1TJ
Episode 245 - Joe Everheart N2CX
Episode 215 - Mike Bryce WB8VGE
Episode 173 - Preston Douglas WJ2V
Episode 158 - Don Minkoff NK6A
Episode 154 - Dave LeDuc N1IX
Episode 151 - George Heron N2APB
Episodes 149 & 11 - Wayne Burdick NK6R
Episode 148 - Rich Fisher KI6SN
Episode 147 - Rich Moseson W2VU
Episode 141 - Paul Stroud AA4XX
Episode 138 - Tony Fishpool G4WIF
Episode 125 - Hans Summers G0UPL
Episode 120 - Jim Stafford W4QO
Episode 117 - Gerry Jurgens N2GJ
Episode 113 - Bill Kelsey N8ET
Episode 110 - Tom Witherspoon K2SWL
Episode 102 - Rex Harper W1REX
Episode 101 - Graham Firth G3MFJ
Episode 99 - Jeff Murray - K1NSS
Episode 93 - Joe Eisenberg K0NB
Episode 84 - Peter Parker VK3YE
Episode 78 - Bob Hopkins WB2UDC
Episode 77 - Dave Cripe NM0S
Episode 72 - Alan Wolke W2AEW
Episode 67 - Nick Kennedy WA5BDU
Episode 58 - Chuck Adams K7QO
Episode 25 - Steve Galchutt WG0AT
Episode 30 - Greg Lane N4KGL
Episode 24 - Dan Walker WG5G
Episode 10 - Stan Lewandowski - WB2LQF

And these are just the ones with a special interest towards CW or QRP . There's a goldmine there, just waiting to be explored! Find it at https://www.qsotoday.com/

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

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

So maybe Field Day is not a goner after all.

By now, it's not news that the ARRL has amended Field Day rules for 2020 (only) in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, that news came out the day AFTER our last SPARC meeting, where we tossed out the idea of putting forth a Field Day effort for 2020.

Now that the rules have changed, and we can aggregate our scores, we just might do something as a group, albeit from our individual locations. We're going to discuss this at our monthly evening "activity gathering" tomorrow evening on ZOOM. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I know our club President plans to be at his Pocono Mountain cabin retreat that weekend. I'll probably operate from the backyard like most of our other members. I'm sure that Dave KD2FSI will be operating from his home, too - as will Marv K2VHW. Marv and I anchor the CW leg of the effort, so I'm hoping he plans to operate!

One thing, though ....... Field Day participation or no, I haven't totally decide, but I don't think I'm going to purchase the T-Shirt this year. Even though I'm a Boomer, I'm not a big fan of the "concert tour" design.


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

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Wow ..... unreal!

Things have changed so much since I was a kid! To say that even sounds stupid in my head .... but things ARE so different. I've said this before, I'm a Space Age kid. I was born in 1957 and some of the earliest TV images that remain in my consciousness are watching the Project Mercury launches of Alan Shepard and John Glenn. I followed all three projects - Mercury, Gemini and Apollo like a rabbit in the middle of a carrot patch. I devoured every bit of information that I was able to.

Then came the Shuttle Program, and by then, I was a Ham. My 2 Meter HT was my constant companion as I would listen to the Shuttle audio re-broadcasts courtesy of the Goddard Spaceflight Amateur Radio Club.

But yesterday's launch of Dragon and Falcon-9?  Unreal! Awesome! Fantastic! And ....... so DIFFERENT!

Take for instance the space suits - I'm so used to the bulky things that were used in past times. Project Mercury and Project Gemini suits weren't so bulky, they had their own distinctive look. By the time we got to Apollo, the suits were pretty bulky. Look at the evolution:

Project Mercury

Project Gemini

Project Apollo

Dragon

The Dragon spacesuits are almost form fitting by comparison! Another thing that seems so unreal was to see live real time video of the crew in the spacecraft.


Back in the day, once the crew entered into the spacecraft, that was it. The only time you saw them again was if there was an in-flight video broadcast issued by NASA (or of course, the moonwalks). Yesterday, watching the launch, as Launch Control was talking with the crew, you could actually watch them give a "thumbs up" as they were given launch status reports. Then as the countdown was approaching its final seconds, you could not only hear, but you could actually see Commander Hurley say "Let's light this candle!".

This is the kind of stuff that I dreamed of and wished for as a kid.  A lot of the differences in the way this mission is covered is due to advances in technology. Instead of relying on the big TV networks for coverage, I can turn on my Roku streaming device and I can watch the NASA Channel via the Internet.

But the cameras aboard the spacecraft that allow you to see all the real time images ..... I have to think that a big part of THAT, is that this is a commercial venture. This is a Space-X mission, being conducted in partnership with NASA, as opposed to being a NASA only mission. And I think that as a public corporation, Space-X wants all the good publicity and coverage that it can get. To them, it's good business. And if that's the real reason, I don't really care. I'm enjoying every minute of this mission.

By the by, something to keep in mind - the Pilot of Dragon is Bob Behnken - who is also known as KE5GGX. Maybe he'll get a chance to use ARISS during his couple month visit aboard the ISS.

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

Saturday, May 30, 2020

"That's the way the cookie crumbles .........."

Normally, when you hear that phrase, you think something not quite nice has happened.

"Sorry your balloon popped kid, but that's the way the cookie crumbles."

"Sorry about the fender bender, Maude, but that's the way the cookie crumbles."


To the QRP community, that phrase takes on a whole other meaning - because in two weeks, on Sunday June 7th, it's time for the 4th Annual Cookie Crumble Contest.

This event has become a part of the QRP Outdoor Operating Season. We kick off the year with FYBO, transition to QRPTTF in Spring and then comes Good Ol' Summertime with the "CCC".

It's a fun event, and it lasts five hours. Not that you need to participate for all five, but it's a big enough window that will allow you get some activity in, even if you have other events or obligations scheduled for the day. It's always a ton of fun and the rules can be found here at - https://w3atb.com/cookie-crumble/

If the weather cooperates, I plan to go to a local boro park - either Putnam or Cotton Street Park, set up either the MFJ-1982LP or the PAR END FEDZ and get some fun time in. I haven't had the chance to try my version of Dave KD2FSI's Jackite holder yet, so this may be my chance.


In any event, it feels like winter has lasted forever, even though the weather has turned warmer. I've not had the chance to go outside for an extended period of time and just have some fun. The Cookie Crumble Contest may just be what the doctor ordered to shake those "stuck inside" blues.

72 de Larry W2LJ - Cookie # 173
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Moderation is "ON"

For the time being, for comments.

Mr. "Do you know your hidden name meaning ?" has made it a personal goal to post the most spam comments. So until he goes away or learns to play nice, all comments will have to be approved before publishing.

I don't, never have and never intended to make a profit off of this blog - I don't intend anyone else to do that, either.

Thanks for your understanding.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A word about comments

If I may ..... a word about comments.

I will allow just about anything as long as it relates to Amateur Radio and the post, in general. You want to agree, that's fine. You want to disagree, that's fine. You want to take the opportunity to call me an imbecile or idiot, that's fine, too.

All I ask is that you be respectful, polite and to comment in English, so I know what's being said - sorry, I'm stupid that way.

What I will not tolerate is spam. And please, let it be known far and wide, that I watch the comments section like a hawk. So do yourself a favor - don't bother if you want me to find out "what my hidden name means" or what that "new stomach remedy is" or how that "new keto diet" is superb above all others. Your comments might see the light of day for a tiny bit; but they WILL be deleted.

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

I think it's no secret

that as far as years go, 2020 has been a real kill-joy, a real "Debbie Downer".

The latest casualty has been Field Day.  No, not Field Day in and of itself, but Field Day as far as the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club is concerned. We just completed our meeting for May (on Zoom, of course), and it was decided that we will not put together a Field Day effort for 2020.

There were several reasons, add all of them together and the decision makes sense.  It doesn't make any of us happy, but it makes sense.

1) The park where we normally set up is a county park. While it is open to the public, there will be no scheduled gatherings or events until further notice.

2) Several of our members are older and some others have conditions that classify them as "immune system compromised". Thus, that would cut down on the number of people who would participate.

3) If the social distancing and "in public" mask policies don't change, nobody thinks it will be a fun thing to be wearing a mask on a hot, muggy Summer weekend for 24 hours.

Personally, I'm not a die hard contest person. I don't mind participating in contests for a limited amount of time, and I love the QRP Sprints, but an endeavor like Field Day is more than what I would normally engage in. To be honest, if Field Day was strictly a solitary event, I probably wouldn't bother. The camaraderie, the fellowship, the concept of doing it "for the club" and not for myself is what keeps me seated behind the key for the good part of 24 hours.

So MAYBE I'll go to a local boro park for a couple of hours to participate as a 1B Battery station; but I'm sure as heck not planning to put in a whole hog effort. The weather conditions that weekend will be a major factor in whatever I eventually end up doing.

72 de Larry W2LLJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


QCX+ Video

Here's an interesting video produced by Hans Summers about his newest creation:


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

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hoot Owl results

That was a lot of fun.

Paring the sprint down to a single hour seems to have drummed up activity.  There were lots of stations to be worked on 20 and 40 Meters, and even one on 80 Meters.

Like just about everyone else, I started out on 20 Meters. Pretty quickly, I worked N9NE, W4QO, K4FB and NK9G - all QRP stalwarts. Todd N9NE answered one of my CQs; but the rest were worked via search and pounce. It became pretty apparent to me after 15 - 20 minutes that I had plumbed 20 Meters for all it was worth.

40 Meters was my money band, where I made nine more QSOs. The signals seemed a bit stronger on 40 Meters and the QSB was not as bad. I worked K2QO, K2EKM, WB9HFK, N9NE (again), K4FB (again), W1RFY, NX1K, N8HZM, and K0ZK. I made on QSO on 80 Meters with W3TS.

All in all, it was 14 different contacts with 11 different states worked for a score of 4,928 points, and it put me squarely in the middle of the pack - about where I usually end up. I used the HF9V on 20 Meters and the W3EDP on 40 and 80 Meters.

Again, it was a lot of fun, but it went by so quickly! Maybe once the sunspots make a comeback the sprint can be lengthened to maybe two hours.

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

It's become kind of personal

I've been a member of QRP-ARCI since my General days. I joined in 1980, way back when QRP was considered to be 100 Watts or less ...... way before 5 Watts became the QRP standard that we hold to now.


In all those years that I've been a member, I've come to make some really great friends, but leadership was kind of foreign to me.  I've never knew any of the "upper ups". They were always there, at the helm, guiding the QRP-ARCI ship through Amateur Radio waters, while I was down in the hold with the other economy passengers.

That's changed recently. I am still down in the hold with the other economy passengers, but the captain and some of the crew are actually people that I kind of personally know, now.

David Wayne Cripe, NMOS was recently chosen as President by the Board of Directors. Dave is a QRP Hall of Famer and has many accomplishments to his name. But in a way, I "know" Dave. We follow each other on Facebook and I've built a few kits that he's designed. He's the first QRP-ARCI President that I know something about other than reading his name and title on the officer masthead. It's not like if we saw each other that we's slap each other on the back and say "Hi, buddy!", but the connection is more than I've ever experienced before. 

Paul Womble K4FB is now the Contest Manager for QRP-ARCI. Paul and I are both avid QRP Fox hunters, We are friends on Facebook and we have communicated with each other. I know first hand how good of an accomplished QRPer that Paul is and the club made an excellent choice in naming him their contest chief.

Bryan Murrey KB9BVN is the QRP-ARCI Webmaster. Bryan is one of the coolest guys I know. He's a good friend on Facebook and he's also a Brother K of C member. We've communicated in the past and we almost got together a few years ago when he was in the area on business. It's just my luck that the night we could have gotten together for dinner, I had to work late.

And one of the "movers and shakers" behind the scenes - Jim Stafford W4QO ..... seems like we've met on the radio so many times before. Jim is good people and he's one of the many people who I consider to be a "real good friend that I have never met".

The purpose of this post was not to name drop, or anything like that. It's just that when you know some of the people who are running the ship, somehow membership becomes something just a bit different and a bit more .......... I guess "valued" is the word I'm looking for. These guys actually know me, I'm not just a number to them and that makes being a member of QRP-ARCI more special to me. Maybe that's not the right way to look at it, but that's how it feels for me.

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


Saturday, May 23, 2020

It's only an hour!

It's only an hour ..... what have you got to lose? Nothing - and a lot of fun can be had in a short time.

Of course, I'm talking about tomorrow night's (Sunday night) QRP-ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint. It's been pared down to just an hour long ....... that what I call a "Sprint"!


This is a traditional Memorial Day Weekend event and in the past, it's been a lot of fun. It will be interesting to see what kind of activity we see. The official link to the particulars is here - https://www.qrparci.org/contest/hoot-owl-sprint.

Technically, the event runs from 0000 - 0100 Monday morning UTC time, but for those of us in the States, that's 8-9 PM EDT, 7-8 PM CDT, 6-7 PM MDT, and 5-6 PDT. Should be interesting because at 8:00 PM, it's still kind of light here on the East Coast, so 20 Meters might still be open to the West Coast. And of course, 40 Meters can be hopping with activity ....... if QRPers would just get on the air and make some noise!

The exchange is classic. ARCI members give RST, S/P/C, Member #
Non-ARCI members give RST, S/P/C, power output.

There's even an autologger where you can post your results - http://www.qrpcontest.com/

To paraphrase the old song, "Hey Buddy, can you spare an hour?"

I think you'll be amazed how much fun you can cram into 60 little minutes!

72 de Larry W2LJ (Hint ...... QRP-ARCI #4488)
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Saturday, May 16, 2020

I've got some good news and some bad

First the bad news .......

Hans Summers, G0UPL has announced the end of the QCX radio. Sine 2017, this monoband QRP radio has enjoyed quite the following, with over 9,000 units sold. And the reason for its popularity was clear. It's not every day you can buy a kit for a SUPERBLY performing radio for under $50.

The good news is that Hans has announced he's taking pre-orders for the QCX+, which will ship this June. Rather than letting me go on about it, let me post some pictures and I'll let the designer speak for himself.

First the old kit:


Out with the old and in with the new:






Now, some words from the designer himself:

Hi all,

9,937 QCX kits have been sold since the launch in August 2017. The current batch of kits are almost at an end. Despite the huge number of kits sold to date, the ongoing demand is still very strong. It became apparent to me that regardless of what other new kits come later, there will always be a place in many radio ham's hearts for a high performance, mono-band QRP CW transceiver kit. With its high performance, easy to build and use, CW decoder (including practice mode) and keyer, etc etc., the kit has also proven attractive to newcomers to amateur radio and/or CW.

But I wanted to fix some of the things that have always nagged me at the back of my mind since the start. For the YOTA 2017 summercamp hosted by RSGB in UK, I was under such tight budgetary and time constraints that I had to compromise on certain things. Particularly the inconvenience of fitting the QCX into an enclosure due to the connectors on the two sides, with controls and LCD all at different heights. This has been a distinct disadvantage in many people's mind (though also unleashing much creativity among mechanically inclined constructors).

QCX+ is the replacement for the QCX. No more QCX kits will be made. You can read about the QCX+ here http://qrp-labs.com/qcxp .

The QCX+ development is complete, it is currently in production and will be shipping in mid-June. I am making this announcement now, to allow pre-orders, since the current batch of QCX kits is now practically finished.

But:

QCX+ is the same circuit as QCX.
QCX+ runs the same firmware as QCX.
QCX+ operates just like a QCX.

The changes in QCX+ are as follows (summary, see http://qrp-labs.com/qcxp for full details):

Optional beautiful extruded aluminium enclosure
Much larger PCB. The PCB area is more than doubled. This permits a less dense component installation, following feedback from some constructors who found the QCX PCB rather densely populated. The main PCB is 13 x 10cm (compared to 8 x 10cm in QCX).
Thicker PCB traces (at least 16mil, rather than 12mil in QCX)
Traditional front-panel arrangement: vertical front panel PCB holds LCD and controls, rear horizontal PCB has the main circuits. Pin-headers connect the two.
Power on/off button on front panel
All connectors are on the rear PCB edge
Two additional 3.5mm stereo jack connectors for PTT (50W PA) and CAT control.
2.1mm barrel connector for power
7805 bolts to rear panel for heatsinking
Three BS170 PA transistors and the MPS751 keying envelope transistor are now bolted flat on the PCB for heatsinking purposes - reducing probability of overheating
Lots of pin headers and test pads for debugging, extending, experimenting, modifying etc., including modifying the purpose of the rear panel 3.5mm jack connectors
Plenty of space for modifications and experiments
C24 increased to 470uF (quieter Tx/Rx transitions in full-QSK mode)
Incorporates IC3 pin 13-14 10K resistor mod http://www.qrp-labs.com/qcx/qcxmods/ptt.html
Due to the 2.2x increase in PCB area, additional inter-board connectors, switches, hardware etc., there is a modest increase in price from $49 to $55.
The price of the optional enclosure kit is $25. The combination of QCX+ and QCX+ Enclosure is still cheaper than the combination of QCX and the most popular enclosure (BaMaTech aluminium enclosure).

Manufacturing is already underway and PRE-ORDERING is now open, for shipment in mid-June 2020. See http://shop.qrp-labs.com/qcxp

Wow! Looks good to me! I have a 40 Meter QCX, I might just be tempted to order a 20 Meter QCX+

Thanks, Hans for continuing the "Art of QRP" and favoring us with your superb design and engineering skills!

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

Friday, May 15, 2020

Hamvention Weekend

This is the weekend that thousands of Amateur Radio enthusiasts normally descend upon the great state of Ohio for Hamvention.

Thank you Covid-19 for totally screwing that up this year.

However, from 8AM to 8PM EDT tomorrow (Saturday), you can vicariously attend Hamvention by participating in the Hamvention QSO Party.

The exchange is super easy - a signal report and the first year you attended Hamvention.  In my case that would be 1984. If you've never been to Hamvention, you would use "2020".

Hopefully the bands will be alive,  propagation will be decent and we'll hear lots of stations on the air.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

N4CCB hits the nail on the head!


N4CCB in an instructional video about Morse Code spacing, and he hits it out of the park! Spacing is everything - give the man a cigar!

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

Monday, May 11, 2020

Strange

Getting two QSOs in the Arkansas QSO Party was a quick and easy affair this Saturday and for that I was very glad. I spent most of the day cleaning and straightening up the house as part of Marianne's Mother's Day "gift". There's not much else you can do when the all the stores are either closed, or a pain in the butt to get into.  The kids were busy studying for finals, so that left it up to me. It was too chilly and windy to do any yard work on Saturday, so I took care of the inside, instead.


Then, I discovered, much to my surprise, that HamLog by pignology is no longer available in the Google Play Store. I am loading some Ham apps onto a different Android device, and when I went to look for HamLog in the Google Play Store ......... nada, zip zilch.  So I ended up downloading one of those "share apps" apps, and I copied it from my cell phone to this older tablet that I'm playing around with.

My Lenovo T430 laptop is not always down in the shack, and it's easy to just enter the contacts into HamLog and the transfer them via ADIF file into Log4OM. HamLog is a fantastic app and I hope it's not going away; or even worse, gone for good.

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

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Getting back on the horse.

This weekend, there's only one QSO Party and that's Arkansas - from 1400Z, May 9 to 0200Z, May 10. That's 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM EDT, Saturday.

I'll attempt once again to get at least two contacts in the log, after failing to get Delaware in the log last weekend. Delaware was too close for 40 Meters and I just plumb couldn't hear anyone on 80 Meter CW at night - so Delaware goes as #1 on the "Didn't Make It" list. I'm sure there will be others to follow.

The good news is that NJ Parks re-opened last weekend and will remain open as long as people do not violate social distancing "laws".  I still feel that Field Day is going to be totally messed up this year.  Unless the limits are lifted regarding gatherings of 10 people or less, I don't see how Field Day can really be like it used to be. And if the weekend is hot, who's going to want  to wear a mask for 24 hours while they're out in public? Plus, to be honest - a lot of the Hams that I do Field Day with are older - myself included. They don't WANT to be in situations that could potentially kill them.

For some states that haven't been hit hard by this virus, that's all a moot point. But for Hams in states that are now only beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, it's going to be a very strange Field Day, indeed.

Hopefully, things will be a lot better in six weeks.\

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

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Where the heck is Delaware?

I know, I know, it's due south of me a hundred miles or so. I know where it is GEOGRAPHICALLY, where is it on the air?!?

The 7th Call Area QSO Party was a snap this afternoon on 20 Meters. Like shooting fish in a barrel. The Indiana QSO Party was just as easy.  Tonight, 40 Meters is wall-to-wall NE QSO Party stations - can't swing a cat without hitting one. 80 Meters is all NE and IN QSO Party stations.

Where the heck is Delaware?

Delaware - are you going to be one of the few QSO Parties that I don't hear on the air this year?

The good thing is that it runs all day tomorrow as well. Maybe I'll have better luck hearing "The First State" tomorrow morning.

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

Thursday, April 30, 2020

It was 15 years ago today

that all this blogging got started. My very first blog post was about the presentation we did on Amateur Radio for "Take Your Kid to Work" Day at the IEEE.

http://w2lj.blogspot.com/2005/04/take-your-kids-to-work-day.html

That was a lot of fun and it's actually hard to believe that was so long ago. The whole adventure evolved into an article by Rich Moseson in CQ magazine later that year.

I've learned a lot in 15 years of blogging - I'm not the same person that started this, so many years ago. I've gotten older, grayer and hopefully wiser (I almost misspelled that "wider" and that would be true, too!).

I've hopefully learned that my opinion really doesn't count for as much as I used to think it did, and I've learned to respect opinions that do not mesh with mine. I like to think I've become more respectful, thoughtful and kinder towards others over the years. I've definitely developed a taste for crow because of some of the things I have posted from time to time. 

All that said, this blog isn't about me. It's about you, us and Amateur Radio. I really appreciate all of you out there who take the time to read my words. If it weren't for you, this would really amount to nothing more than trying to shovel sand against the tide. My one wish is that I could meet all of you in person, give a handshake ....... er, fist bump and spend some time chatting face to face. That would be so cool!

Now ...... onto the winner of the hat giveaway. Twenty three of you took the time to enter. I thank you for that. And the winner is (drum roll, please!) ................

Entry #8 - Steve AA9VJ

Steve, I trust your QRZ address is good, I'll get the hat out to you this weekend.

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


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Busy weekend coming up!

Last weekend, there was only one state QSO party - the Florida QSO Party. I ended up working about a dozen stations to fatten up the log. This coming weekend there is a plethora!

The 7th Call Area QSO Party - May 2nd 1300 UTC to May 3rd 0700 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P/C

The Indiana QSO Party - May 2nd 1500 UTC to May 3rd 0300 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P /DX

Delaware QSO Party - May 2nd 1700 UTC to May 3rd 2359 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P/DX

New England QSO Party - May 2nd 2000 - May 3rd 0500 UTC and again  May 3rd 1300 - 2400 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P/DX.

Tomorrow is the drawing for the Hat Giveaway - so far only 20 people have entered, so take heart all of you who have sent me your call sign so far - your chances are really, really good!


PT9KKLuciano
KC9IHKC
KF6FODRobert
K2SQSFrank
K5KHKKarl
K8WPEDave
K2DCDDennis
AA9VJSteve
K2WOGeorge
NN9KPeter
SV1GRNPanagiotis
K0TCRon
KD8OCWJim
W0JMWJeff
KC9URBob
N9WKEBruce
KF7JAFDave
AD8ATJay
K0LAFCharles

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

Monday, April 27, 2020

Happy birthday, Mr. Morse!


And while there may be arguments as to who it was who actually invented the code we use today (Vail vs. Morse), I think we can all acknowledge that Mr. Morse's invention was the catalyst that got the code invented.

It's my preferred way of conversing through Amateur Radio and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I use it 99 and 44/100ths percent of the time.

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

Friday, April 24, 2020

It's FriYay!

Coming up on the end of a VERY long work week.

This weekend is the Florida QSO Party - so another event to jump into to keep the State QSO Party Challenge (personal) going. The rules can be found at http://floridaqsoparty.org/rules/

The exchange for us non-Floridians is W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), or if you happen to be DX: RS(T) + DXCC prefix.

Not much going on with W2LJ radio-wise. I do get on our County OEM repeater each evening to participate in a County Health and Welfare Net that was started up by my good friend Marv K2VHW. It's a good thing to stay in touch with friends while this craziness continues. It takes a bit of the sting away of not being able to see each other, face to face.

Keep the hat give-away entries coming in, folks! The drawing will be next Thursday. So far, there have only been about 20 - so everyone's chances are really good at this point.

Did I just spoil that? Sorry!

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

Monday, April 20, 2020

Holy decade and a half, Batman!

Ten days from today is the 15th anniversary of the first posting of this blog. Yep, April 30th 2005 is when this all started.

So, in order to celebrate, I'm going to do another give-away. Who doesn't like getting something for free, right?


I had a hat made from Astrid's Embroidery - with the the signature line - "QRP ....When you care to send the very least!" That hat, which is in the photo above can be yours. Just send an e-mail to w2ljqrp@gmail.com with your name and your call sign. I will compile a spreadsheet, assigning each entry a number, in the order received.  Then, on April 30th, I will have a random number generator program pick a number between 1 and last entry, and whoever that number is assigned to will win the hat.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Ya gotta wonder

I decided to make a foray into the "MM" contest this afternoon. Not to compete, of course, just to hand out points.  As a QRP'er, a QSO with me was worth 10 points. The exchange was "RST" and "Continent" and if you are a QRP'er, you were to add a "Q" at the end. so for example, my exchange was "5NN NA Q".

A few stations waited for the entire exchange and actually thanked me for the "Q" because they realized it granted them extra points.  But there were more than just a few speed demons who didn't wait and started calling CQ again as soon as they heard the "5NN NA". The KX3's QSK is fast enough where you can tell who got the entire exchange and who didn't. In their haste they missed the fact that would have been able to claim a 10 point QSO. Oh, well ..........

Other than the MM Contest there didn't seem to be much activity on the bands .I called CQ near the 20 Meter band QRP Watering Hole for a bit and got a reply from Ty W4TYD. But QSB came in and killed that QSO pretty darn quickly. Sorry, Ty, that we couldn't have somewhat of a rag chew.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

QRPTTF Disappointment

I only heard one QRPTTF station today, and that was Gene N5GW on 20 Meters. I called him a couple of times with no success. That was it. If there were any other stations calling "CQ QRPTTF" out there, I wasn't hearing them, and no one heard me when I was calling CQ.

The Michigan and Ontario QSO Parties were another matter. That was like shooting fish in a barrel. I worked about a half dozen stations in each, more or less, in the little time I put in.  It was nice to hear 40 Meters with wall-to-wall activity. I wish every weekend and every week night were like that.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Whither Field Day?

So far, among a myriad of events, Hamvention has been cancelled. I saw on Facebook this morning that is has been announced that Friedrichshafen has been cancelled in Germany - and that was scheduled for mid-late June.

So where does that leave us for Field Day?

According to an e-mail that Hudson Division Hams received from our Hudson Division Director, N2RJ:

FIELD DAY 2020 - NO RULES CHANGES

"At the time of this email, there have been no rules changes to Field Day. The Programs and Services Committee has considered the issue and has decided to not make any changes. I am disappointed, especially since there could have been rules that encouraged social distancing. With that said, the show must go on. I sincerely hope everyone who wishes to participate in Field Day is able to do so, even if you are operating from home.

I will still advocate for common sense changes, but as it is, there is not much support in the PSC for it.

Regarding site visits - unless there is a significant positive change to the CoViD-19 situation I will not be visiting Field Day sites this year. But if you wish, we can meet virtually via your favorite video
conferencing application (We have Zoom, Skype, Jitsi, Facebook and Facetime) or you can send us a short video of your field day operation and we'll put it up on YouTube and our other social media. Or just send us photos and we'll put them up. - N2RJ"

Personally, I would hope that all this is just a bad memory by the 4th weekend in June. But something in my gut tells me that it's going to take a while to get back to anything we consider "normal". This isn't going to be like flicking a light switch back to the "on" position.

Even if we're somewhat close to normal, by then, I'm wondering how much Field Day participation might be off this year, particularly in states that were really hit hard by COVID-19. The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club is in a "wait and see" mode right now. As it gets closer to the beginning and middle of May, I surmise we will be making a more concrete decision about what we're going to do. As a matter of fact, by order of the Governor, currently all State and County parks in New Jersey are closed and are off limits. Our mayor followed suit and closed all town parks as well. For the past six years, our Field Day site was in a County park.

Sadly, the concept of doing Field Day from home is a big yawn for me. It's not the event itself, but all the social activity and camaraderie that make Field Day "Field Day".  We may have to get creative this year.

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

Monday, April 13, 2020

Looking towards next weekend

which seems to be all that's getting me through these weeks!

MI QSO Party
Noon to Midnight EDT (1600 - 0400 UTC)
Exchange - MI: Serial No. + county /  non-MI: Serial No. + (state/province/"DX")

ON QSO Party
2:00 PM to 1:00 AM EDT on Saturday - 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Sunday
Exchange - ON: RS(T) + county / Non-ON: RST + (state/province/country)

And of course, next Satruday is QRP To The Field, which might be better entitled QRP From Home or QRP From The Backyard this year.
8:00 AM to 6:00 PM local time
Exchange - RST + (state/province/country) + name/SOTA

The long range forecast for my area of the world is for showers beginning on Friday and lasting through Monday - so for W2LJ, it will be QRP From Home (basement). Sigh - at least it's a bit warmer down there than it is in the winter.

I was hoping to try out (for the first time) my new Jackite support, which was inspired by Dave KD2FSI. I guess that will have to wait for a time when the weather is better.


According to WA7BNM's Contest Calendar, I see that also next weekend is "Texas State Parks On The Air". Lucky Texas!  Here in New Jersey, all our State Parks have been closed by order of the Governor until further notice. So there's no POTA going on at all in New Jersey for the moment.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The streak continues

No, no such streak as John K3WWP's never duplicatable QRP QSO a Day streak, but my personal goal of making at least two QSOs in each of the state QSO parties in 2020.

Yesterday was North Dakota, Georgia and New Mexico. And as expected, the Georgia QSO Party was like shooting fish in a barrel. I could have made two QSOs in that state QSO party without even thinking about it much. Surprisingly to me, North Dakota, while not as easy, proved to be relatively simple as well. I thought it would be much harder as ND is one of the "tougher: states for a lot of people working on their Worked All States Award.  But three QSOs came with only a modicum of  effort.

New Mexico was the toughie of the three. After I gave the lawn its first mowing of the season, I headed down the basement and got the above mentioned QSOs in relatively short order. At that point in the day, I was not hearing New Mexico at all. I listened on 20 Meters, 40 Meters and even listened on 15 Meters. Nothing. I truly thought my goal of succeeding in this personal State QSO Party Challenge was going to come to an abrupt end.

I came upstairs for a bit to take care of a few things and headed back downstairs around 4:00 PM local time, or about 2000 UTC. I started slowly twiddling the dial on 20 Meters and stopped when I heard K1JD calling "CQ NMQP". At first I thought he was a 1-land station trying to call NM stations, but then I heard him giving out his county as part of the exchange. Wow! He turned out to be an ex-patriot from 1-land now living in New Mexico! I got him in the log rather quickly and then followed that by making a QSO with K8TE. Same deal - I guess that maybe they are retired Hams who have moved from their home states to retire to New Mexico? Whatever. I got two NM stations in the log, which was my goal. I would have liked to have worked a few more ot have fattened up the log, but I have to admit ..... I never DID hear a 5 station calling "CQ NMQP" which was kind of weird.

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

Easter Sunday - 2020


This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad!
 For Death has died ... because He has risen!

A very Blessed and Happy Easter to all!

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

Saturday, April 11, 2020

No one can screw up like I can !!!!!

After a particularly hard day at work, I decided to jump into the fray of the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party, anyway. I only stayed in for two hours, from 0000 UTC to 0200 UTC, but for those two hours, I was delighted by the amount of activity.

I garnered to QSOs on 20 Meters and was very pleased to hear and work John AE5X and Paul K4FB. 40 Meters and 80 Meters were more populated and I got 18 more QSOs for a total of 20 for the two hours. By 10:00 PM local time, my brain was going on "high fuzzy" as the octane in my tank was reaching empty. So I pulled the Big Switch and called it a night. If I had stayed on, I'm sure I would have improved my score, but I was SO tired.

This morning, when I entered my score, I screwed up big time by selecting the incorrect power multiplier. My brain, still in a state of fog, confused the "<" and ">" signs and I chose "> 5 Watts" instead of "< 5 Watts". Typical for W2LJ!

Special thanks to QRP-ARCI for hosting the event, but special kudos to Brian KB9BVN and Jim W4QO for putting on the advertising blitz which resulted in the increase in activity. I am looking forward to the next event.

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

ADDENDUM - An e-mail to Brian KB9BVN, and he graciously corrected my error. Thanks,  Brian!

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Important Rule Change

For those of you planning to work the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party this weekend. The time has been changed!  For those of us in the USA, it is a Friday evening event from 0000 UTC to 0600 UTC.

The event has been shortened to only 6 hours instead of the entire weekend - so be aware.

While I have no basis to explain the reasoning, perhaps it is because there are three State QSO Parties running this weekend. Or maybe, just because it's Easter weekend - who knows for sure?

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

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Busy weekend?

This is going to be a very weird weekend coming up.

For those of us who are Christians, this week is very important to us, especially this coming weekend. This week is Holy Week and this coming weekend is Triduum and Easter. With our Churches closed due to COVID-19, there will certainly be services live-streamed (at least in my Diocese there will), but it won't be quite the same.  I'll be missing the tactile part of the ceremonies - hearing the choir sing, smelling the incense, the feel of Holy Water as the Priest sprinkles us after the renewal of our Baptismal vows, seeing family and friends.

Usually, it has been our tradition to head north to Marianne's brother's house for Easter dinner. That was cancelled as we stay put and avoid all non-essential travel. Guess I'll be buying a ham for this weekend - the kind you eat, of course!

Amateur Radio-wise, there will be lots of activity.  The QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party is this Saturday. You can click here for the rules.  The Saturday before Easter is usually a very busy day for me. I usually help decorate our Church and otherwise prepare for Easter Sunday.  Looks like other than grocery shopping and possibly giving the lawn its first mow of the season, I'll have time to get on the air.

In addition to that, we have three more state QSO parties this weekend. On Saturday we have the New Mexico QSO Party and the Georgia QSO Party I'm pretty certain that my friends from the North Georgia QRP Club - the NoGAnauts, will be very active in that one. And on Saturday AND Sunday, the North Dakota QSO Party is being held.

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