Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The next time someone you know talks down QRP:

 Dave KD2FSI just posted the following to the SPARC Facebook page:

The 2021 Field Day results database is out. 

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club ranked 203 out of a total of 5878 entries in all categories. This would put us within the upper 4% in the nation. 

We ranked 8th out of all 220 entries in the Hudson Division also putting us within the upper 4% in all categories. 

And we ranked 3rd out of 93 entries in the NNJ section. (W2LJ note - that puts us in the top 4% in NNJ)

We came within the upper 5% for all QRP entries in the nation (W2LJ note - 24th out of 547 entries) and 3rd out of 10 entries for the 3AB category.

No matter how you look at the data; we did outstanding!

73, Dave KD2FSI

So when someone laughs at you when you tell them you want to do a QRP Field Day and they tell you, "We'll never make any contacts!" just keep our results up your sleeve.  QRP CAN hold it's own!

I thought after our first Field Day in 2014, that the rest of the club would want to go up to 100 Watts for 2015. They chose to stick with the 5 Watt limit. We've always done well. This year, we kept it even simpler using only wire and vertical antennas - no yagis, no Hexbeams - and our results show what 5 Watts and simple antennas are capable of. You don't have to kill yourself to have fun and put up respectable results for Field Day. The KISS principle does work!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, November 29, 2021

CQ WWDX

Sorry to say that I did not partake in the big contest this past weekend.  After cooking the big Thanksgiving meal on Thursday for family that came over, I was just a bit tired. Instead, I got the last of the leaves raked and bagged. I also got the outdoor and indoor Christmas decorating done and in between that, there were a lot of naps.

It was cold over the weekend and we got our first dusting of snow for the season Saturday night into Sunday. No contest next weekend, but maybe I'll get to chase some POTA stations.

My friend Bob W3BBO was able to get on the air this weekend and worked some DX. He moved in with his daughter this past year and is currently using a GADS antenna. It seems to be working well for him and that makes me happy. 

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Field Day 2021 Results

If you're an ARRL member you can check out the 2021 Field Day results. The digital December issue of QST is online.

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club, operating NJ2SP came in 3rd place, nationwide, in the 3A - Battery classification.


The results were in two separate columns (necessitated two screenshots) - 10 entries total for the category. Our setup was two KX3's to two MFJ end feds, the MFJ-1982 and the MFJ-1982LP., each perpendicular to the other - one running N-S and the other E-W. Dave KD2FSI had his FT-8 and other digital modes station hooked up to various arrows from his portable ops antenna quiver.

Once the Contest Results database is updated, I can figure out how SPARC fared compared to other stations in the NNJ Section,  the Hudson Division, and how we fared against ALL 5 Watt (Battery category) entries.

It was a good time and we're already looking forward to and preliminarily planning for 2022.

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


Regrets? I've had a few.

No one can be in this hobby for a long time without having a few regrets - usually about equipment bought and sold.

Regrets:

Getting rid of my Novice station. Even though I donated it to the Handi-Ham organization, I later regretted handing off my Novice Station, which comprised of a Drake 2NT transmitter, a Heathkit HR-1680 receiver and a Globe VFO.  The good news is that I have acquired like pieces and have my Novice station back (with the exception of the Globe VFO).

Selling my Icom IC-730 - I did the modification to get the low power setting all the way down to 100 milliWatts. I sold this in order to buy an Icom IC-751A.  This was back in the day when I got interested in AMTOR and PacTOR and the IC-730's T/R relay was just too slow to support these modes. My interest in them was fleeting, as it turned out. My interest in QRP has never faded.

Selling MY home built HW-8.  To this day, I consider this my biggest faux pas; and I still don't know what possessed me to do this. This had to have been the biggest Ham Radio brain cramp that I've experienced in 43 years of being a Ham.  Fortunately, Dave KD2FSI gifted me with a mint replacement that he found on eBay.

Not keeping my Heathkit SB-104A station, that again, I had built myself  After a while, I was blinded by newer and shinier equipment, I sold these (rig, power supply/speaker, remote VFO, station monitor) to afford newer stuff. Sometimes I think I was part crow, being attracted to new shiny objects.  This is a major regret.

Semi - regrets:

Selling my K1 and K2 - but alas, I would not have been able to acquire my KX3 without doing this. Unlike a lot Hams out there, I don't have deep pockets.

No - regrets:

Selling my IC-751A - great receiver for it's day, but selling it paved the way for buying Elecraft rigs.

Selling my amplifier - what the heck was I thinking ever buying one of those in the first place?  My fascination with QRO faded more quickly that you can say "Jack Robinson". In it's defense, it did keep the shack warm.

Selling my Kenwood Twins. The T599A and R599A made up my General station when I upgraded all the way back in 1979. I sold these to afford the SB-104A.

I still wish I had every piece of Heathkit gear that I ever assembled (and it was a lot). At the time, I guess I thought Heathkit, as we knew it back then, would never bite the dust. Hindsight is always 20/20.

These days, I am content with my station as it exists.  I have a KX3 along with the KXPA100 amplifier (which I have not turned on in years - in fact, I took it out of the line.) No aspersions to Elecraft, but I don't need or desire a K3s or a K4. After all this time, I guess I've learned to be content with what I have.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Ol' Sol is getting frisky!

 The K7RA Solar Update

10/29/2021

Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: Sunspot activity was up this week, with the average daily sunspot number increasing by nearly five-fold from 11.3 to 54.9. Average daily solar flux rose from 78.6 to 95.7. Currently our sun is peppered with spots.

A new sunspot group appeared on October 22, another on October 24, two more on October 25, and another on October 26. The sunspot number peaked on Thursday, October 28, at 96, and daily solar flux peaked on the same day at 111.7.

Geomagnetic indicators were nice and quiet, but don’t expect that to last. Average daily planetary A index went from 8.4 to 4.4 and average daily middle latitude A index declined from 5.4 to 3.6.

Predicted solar flux looks quite promising, at 113 on October 29; 114 on October 30 – November 1; 110 and 105 on November 2 – 3; 100 on November 4 – 5; 86 on November 6 – 7; 85 on November 8 – 9; 83 on November 10; 82 on November 11 – 15; 85 on November 16 – 20; 94 on November 21; 95 on November 22 – 23; 96 on November 24; 95 on November 25 – 29; 92, 90, and, 88 on November 30 – December 2, and 86 on December 3 – 4.

Predicted planetary A index is 5 on October 29; 40, 35, and 12 on October 30 – November 1; 5 on November 2 – 5; 12, 10, and 8 on November 6 – 8; 5 on November 9 – 14; 10 and 8 on November 15 – 16; 5 on November 17 – 22; 8 on November 23 – 24; 10 on November 25 – 26; 5 on November 27 – 28; 8 on November 29; 5 on November 30 – December 2, and 12, 10, and 8 on December 3 – 5.

On Thursday, Spaceweather.com reported that a “strong G3-class geomagnetic storm is possible on October 30, when the CME from yesterday’s X-flare is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field.” This is why the predicted planetary A index on October 30-31 is 40 and 35.

At 0129 UTC on October 29, the Australian Space Forecast Centre issued this geomagnetic disturbance warning: “[Sunspot] AR2887 produced X1.0 flare on October 28 at 1535 UTC, which triggered a halo CME. The CME is expected to arrive at Earth in the first half of UTC day 30 October. As a result, the geomagnetic conditions are expected to reach major storm levels with a chance of severe storm periods. The global Kp index may reach 7 (G-3 level storms). On the local night of 30 October (and maybe 31 October), aurora may be visible from Tasmania and the southern mainland coastal areas. INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION 30 – 31 OCTOBER 2021.”

This weekend is the CQ World Wide SSB DX Contest, which should be affected by the increased geomagnetic activity. The CW weekend is November 27 – 28. ARRL November CW Sweepstakes is next weekend, November 6 – 8.

Here’s the geomagnetic activity forecast for October 29 – November 23 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH. The geomagnetic field will be:

quiet on November 4 – 5, 18 – 19

quiet to unsettled on October 31, November 9, 12 – 13, 17, 20, 22

quiet to active on October 29, November 1 – 3, 10 – 11, 21, 23

unsettled to active on October 30, November 6 – 8, 14, 16

Active to disturbed November (15)

Solar wind will intensify on October 30 – 31, November 1, (8,)

9 – 10, (11,) 16 – 17

Remarks: Parentheses mean lower probability of activity enhancement.

Don’t miss the latest video from Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW.

Mike May, WB8VLC, in Salem, Oregon, reported his contacts on the high HF bands until October 27. He listed only the “interesting QSOs” as there were just too many others from 17 to 10 meters to include. One was an AM contact on 15 on October 24 at 1640 UTC with CT1EHI in Portugal. Signals were solid both ways, he reported.

Another was D4F [Cape Verde] on 10-meter SSB, “the first real strong African-region signal heard in a long time here on 10 meters.”

Others he reported included the HD8R DXpedition in the Galapagos, which he worked on 17 meters at 0129 UTC on October 27. He also worked HD8R on 10, 12, and 15 meters on October 26; E51JD in the South Cook Islands on October 24 on 10 meters (SSB), and VE8WD/m the same day on 15 meters (SSB). “A nice QSO with a ham in Yellowknife running 100 W mobile. He was over S-9 for 2 hours after our contact.”

Here is a Canadian view on solar risks to the power grid, and more on this week’s space weather.

In a message with the subject line, “Good propagation these days,” Angel Santana, WP3GW, reported from Puerto Rico on October 26:

“Yesterday at about 1730 UTC, heard M5JON on 28.505 MHz, which was a surprise since it has been a long time since I heard an English station on 10 meters.” He reported an S-7 report. “Today contacted HD8R on 24.950 MHz split (up 5) up at 1851 UTC. I suppose and hope that the CQ WW SSB this weekend is why I am hearing much activity on all bands.”

Here’s part of a message from Frank Donovan, W3LPL:

“Propagation crossing low and mid latitudes is likely to be normal until likely CME arrival early to mid-day Saturday, then mostly below normal at least until mid-day Sunday.

=“We are in the geomagnetically active autumn equinox season through late October with about twice as many geomagnetically active days compared to December, January, June, and July caused by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) more frequently persisting in a southward orientation (–Bz).

“Geomagnetic disturbances caused by coronal hole high speed stream effects are likely to remain mostly brief, minor and somewhat less frequent through at least late 2021. The southward oriented (–Bz) component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) plays a crucial but unpredictable role in triggering all geomagnetic storms.

“Brief minor to moderate geomagnetic storms may be gradually triggered when the IMF persists in a southward orientation (–Bz) with enhanced IMF field strength for several hours coincident with the effects of an Earth directed coronal hole high speed stream.

“More frequent, longer duration, minor to severe geomagnetic storms may be triggered suddenly and unpredictably when the IMF persists in a southward orientation (–Bz) with enhanced IMF field strength for several hours or more coincident with the effects of an Earth directed fast CME.

“Mid-latitude northern hemisphere sunset is 56 minutes earlier and day length is 90 minutes shorter than it was on September 22. Daytime ionization and residual nighttime ionization in the far northern polar region is rapidly declining due to steadily increasing polar night effects.”

Sunspot numbers for October 21 – 27 were 11, 28, 32, 46, 81, 95, and 91, with a mean of 54.9. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 81.9, 86.9, 86.8, 93.2, 100.6, 109.3, and 110.9, with a mean of 95.7. Estimated planetary A indices were 7, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5, and 3, with a mean of 4.4. Middle latitude A index was 9, 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, and 2, with a mean of 3.6.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Of course the MSM will report dire consequences to the power grid and the end-of-the-world, but we Hams know better ..... don't we?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very best!

Monday, October 18, 2021

On this date


Where would we be without transistors?  Definitely one of the major technical advances of our time.

No Hill Toppers, no Mountain Toppers, no LNRs. no KX's, no QCX's (just to name a few) and a whole lot more!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP _ When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Working POTA stations

 I did something this Sunday morning that I haven't done in a while ..... I got on the air!

I decided to go down to the basement to hunt some POTA stations. I ended up working five in a very short time amidst working on a hardware issue. More on that later. 

If you like working POTA stations but haven't downloaded the POTA Spotter app, you're doing yourself a great injustice. I have mine on my cell phone and was going from spot to spot to spot.

I tried working Tom K4SWL and John AE5X. I think Tom had gone QRT and I heard stations working John, but could not make out AE5X himself. But it was fun working the five that I did and the POTA Spotter made it easier than it would have been just twiddling the dial. To some purists, that might be "cheating", but I don't have the PX3 panadapter, so the POTA Spotter makes life just a bit easier.

Getting back to the hardware problem. It was solved by making up a new power cord for the KX3, because as I was working K8P, my KX3 shut itself off (or lost power) twice. Hoping that there was nothing wrong with the rig itself, I hurriedly hooked it up to my Field Day battery only to find that everything was OK. Whew!

The power supply was still powered on and putting out the proper voltage. I unhooked the power cable that runs from the power supply to the KXPA100 and stuck some VOM probes into the Anderson power poles. No volts!  I checked the inline fuses and they were OK, so the problem has to be at the power pole end. The wires seem to be attached fine, but since there's no voltage present, there has to be a loose connection, or something, at the power pole end.

I don't have any spare power poles on hand, or the crimping tool, but I did have a spare 3.5mm power connector. I took some heavy gauge speaker wire on hand and SOLDERED myself up a good old fashioned power cable. That solved that problem and I went on to work a couple more before going QRT myself.

I had forgotten how much fun POTA hunting is. I'll have to do lots more in the future!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Zombie Shuffle time!

 The return of a favorite! Here's the announcement from Paul NA5N:


Zombies,

Halloween is at the end of the month ... must be Zombie Shuffle time.

The ZOMBIE SHUFFLE will be held on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 from 1600 through midnight, your local time.  Hopefully 15M and 20M will be open for a bit.

2021 RULES and SUMMARY sheet are here:

http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/pg.htm

Pretty much the same pointless rules and scoring as always.

2020 Summary Sheets and soap box comments indicated the spooky and goofy names used by the bonus stations last year were a real hit and fun to copy on the air.  This year, EVERYONE is invited to choose some bogus, goofy name to send in their exchange for something different and fun.

If you'd like to be a bonus station this year, please email me. Bonus stations will send "2021" as their Zombie number.

The Zombie Shuffle is always a good excuse to get on the air for a couple hours or more, with a goofy exchange for a big score, and have some QRP fun regardless of your skill level.  Very informal with code speeds generally 20 wpm or less.  So if you're new to CW or a bit rusty, or a seasoned Zombie, this informal event is made to get you on the air and have some Zombie fun.

See you Oct. 29.

72, Paul NA5N


Thanks once again, Paul, for putting this together! It's always a lot of fun.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Encouragement

 For those of you who have to live with less than ideal antenna conditions - I saw this post on QRP-L and the author, John N6HI granted me permission to publish it here.  It says a lot about how being stuck in a place that doesn't allow full blown antenna situations does NOT have to keep you from having fun - even if you're "just" a QRP operator.

His story:

Exactly one year ago today, I brought home my new IC-705. My QTH in Arizona is "life in the big city". I live in a HOA environment that allows no antennas. My ONLY station antenna is a 20-foot piece of wire with a rock tied on the end, thrown into a tree out my window. At its highest point, it's about 15 feet above ground. I use this 20 foot end-fed wire on all bands, 160 to 6 meters. The antenna is fed via an LDG tuner, and NO ground system is used. Most of my QSOs are at 1/2 Watt, my favorite power level. I never use more than 5 Watts.

Using only the 20 Foot wire, here are my first year statistics with the IC-705:

------ IC-705 1-Year, Running 5 Watts or less ------

Completed W.A.C. in first 17 days.

Contacts made on all bands: 160-80-60-40-30-20-17-15-12-10-6 meters.

Total hf QSOs:  3021

Countries worked:  58

------ IC-705 1-Year, Running 1/2 Watt ------

Contacts made on all bands: 160-80-60-40-30-20-17-15-12-10-6 meters.

Total hf QSOs:  2319

Countries worked:  20

85% of my IC-705-first-year QSOs were CW.  None were FT8 or similar enhanced modes. I have been a ham for 57 years, and 100% QRP for the last 20+ years. I enjoy rag-chewing, DXing, and contesting with QRP.

With QRP power and a short wire antenna, I certainly don't expect to make the DXCC Honor Roll any time soon ... but I love the challenge and rewards of operating QRP. I feel that results like this, during this last year of poor solar conditions, certainly proves what can be done with QRP power levels and simple wire antennas. I encourage you all to give QRP a try!

-73- John N6HI

Thanks, John - well stated and I think this could be a badly needed shot in the arm to those of our compatriots who are saddled with less than ideal operating conditions. You never have to go off the air!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Down the shore


 In New Jersey, it's "a thing". We don't go to the beach - we go down the shore. Once we're at the shore, we may or may not go to the beach. Like I said, it's a Jersey thing.

Last weekend, Marianne and I went down to the shore to spend our wedding anniversary weekend together. The weather was nice, and there were people on the beach. We sat on a bench on the boardwalk and soaked up the sun and did some people watching. We enjoyed the rare opportunity to do "not much".

I took this short video to capture the sight and the sounds. And I have to admit that ever since I became a Ham seeing the ocean has been a different experience for me, than probably for most "civilians". I look at the water and it seems endless. If you look it up, at sea level, the visual horizon is only about 3 miles away. That is mind boggling when you consider how vast the ocean actually is. It seems endless - and "endless" is only 3 miles away!  The water actually stretches for thousands of miles beyond that!

And what makes it even more amazing and magical, is that my 5 Watts of RF energy can easily hop right over that ocean and even further - at the speed of light! My radio signals, which can reach Europe, Asia or anywhere in the world for that matter, traverse the oceans as easily as I walk from my kitchen to my living room. It's truly mind boggling. How often do we take those QSOs for granted?  How many times does a QSO to a different country seem like "no big deal"? "Oh, it's only Spain." or "Oh, it's only" Germany or Italy, or England, or wherever.

Mass communication - radio, TV, satellites have seemingly shrunk the world. We take instant communication as a given. The Earth, our globe, our home, is tremendously huge! We forget how huge it is compared to us. The concept and magic of radio is so much a part of me; and yet I have to  admit that I fall into the trap of taking it for granted.  Taking in the ocean and contemplating the vastness of our planet, and how easily radio can conquer that makes it even more special and wonderful again.

Those QSOs ARE a big deal. A very big deal, each and every one! Don't ever become blasé about them!

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

Friday, September 24, 2021

Egads! It's Autumn! Where has the year gone?

 


At least in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway. It's time to say good-bye to longer days, warmer temperatures, and hopefully soon - lawn mowing.

But on the other side of the coin, Winter will soon be approaching, making it's presence felt long before Autumn is officially over. I'll be going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, and soon I'll go back to wearing three layers of shirts/sweaters as the cold temperatures return. And the Farmer's Almanac (if they're to be believed) is no help. They are prognosticating a "colder, snowier and longer lasting" Winter for my part of the Eastern Seaboard. As you can guess, I am hoping they're wrong.

The bright side is that the bands should become noticeably less filled with QRN from Summertime thunderstorm activity. Both 160 and 80 Meters should be welcome refuges of night time activity in the weeks and months to come. I haven't decided as to whether or not I'll be participating in the Winter QRP Fox Hunts this season. They start at 9:00 PM local time here in the Eastern Time Zone. It's hard for me to stay up much later than that these days. I wake up for work in the morning at 5:30 AM, and my job has been very demanding on this 64 year old body. I'm definitely no Spring Chicken anymore, and I'm not embarrassed to admit that, as I guess I've earned it. I do find I need as much sleep as I can get, so it comes down to whether I fall asleep in bed - or whether I fall asleep in front of the radio in the shack.  

At least I won't be falling asleep in front of the TV like my Dad used to do. I remember asking my Mom once, when I was just a tyke, as to why my father did that so often. That's a hard thing to understand when you're just a kid. She said, "Someday you'll know why.". You were right, Mom - you were right.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Crap!

 I was reading some stuff on the internet this morning when my phone chirped to let me know that my friend Bob W3BBO was on the air calling CQ. I saw that he was on 30 Meters, and I thought the band might be conducive to a Pittsburgh to Central Jersey QSO, so I ran downstairs to fire up the KX3. I flipped the switch on my Astron 20 Amp power supply and there was no hum and the rocker switch didn't light up.

Not good.

I checked to make sure the power strip that I have it plugged into was working and that showed to be fine. My Astron 7 Amp power supply is plugged into the same surge protector and it fired up just fine. I replaced the fuse and powered up again. This time, there was a hum and the rocker switch lit up - all for about a second. Then the new fuse blew.

I unplugged it, took off the cover and gave it a visual inspection. Nothing burnt, nothing charred, no funny smells. I then took a meter to all the major semiconductors - pass transistors, diodes and SCR and the readings were normal - no shorts. The filter caps look ok - from my experience with repairing studio strobes, those big electrolytics tend to bulge a bit before they have a "non passive failure" so I doubt they're the problem. That leaves the transformer itself or something on the voltage regulator board. I'm thinking the voltage regulator board as transformers in and of themselves really don't go bad without some evidence of getting overly hot or burning.

I don't have the time or resources to go into deep trouble shooting right now, so I'll rely on the 7 Amp supply for the time being - too many projects, too many things to do. Besides, running 5 Watts shouldn't even make it raise a sweat. While I was down there, after getting things transferred over and squared away, I made a couple contacts on 15 Meters with some Texas QSO Party stations. I also had a brief QSO with Lazlo HA3NA on 17 Meters (and I got a 579)!  It was really nice to see 15 and 17 Meters alive for a change. Maybe the sun spots ARE making a comeback.

When I do get the time, there are some wonderful resources on the web for fixing these babies. One in particular can be found here - http://www.repeater-builder.com/astron/pdf/astron-troubleshooting.pdf

It's a nice step by step resource and as it's been over 14 years since I repaired circuit boards down to the component level every day for a living, my trouble shooting skills are a bit rusty to put it mildly. I'll take whatever help I can get.

On another note, I downloaded Hamrs onto my cell phone after watching Tom K4SWL use it on his POTA videos. It's a super easy logging program to use, even easier than Ham Log NG. I like that you can create specific logbooks for individual POTA activations or other events. Each log can be converted to an ADIF so that I can import them into my master AC Log logbook on the laptop. I also downloaded it onto my Android tablet which should be a bit easier on my fat fingers in the field. This, of course, assumes that I will give up on paper and pencil. That may be easier said than done! LOL!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Upcoming Events

 QRP Afield

QRP Afield 2021 is held on the third Saturday of September, which is September 18 this year; as in the past few years, it runs from 1500-2100Z (11am-5pm EDT). You can read the rules here: https://www.newenglandqrp.org/qrp-afield-2018/ (still mostly correct).

Our weekend always has a number of other operating events going on, perhaps because it's the final weekend of summer. Five QSO parties overlap some or all of our operating period: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington (the Salmon Run). There is also a major international contest, the Scandinavian Activity Contest (they were booming into NH last year; I worked a couple of them on 40 CW!), and this year we have Wisconsin Parks on the Air. There will surely also be some activations in programs including POTA, SOTA, and IOTA, and some special event stations. Here in MA there is one to commemorate the 100th anniversary of broadcast station WBZ; it will use the special call signs W1W, W1B, W1Z, and WB1Z. Also keep an ear out for the Chowdercon station, W1C; that will have NEQRP members operating portable from an island in Portsmouth NH.

This year, contacts with stations in other operating events are explicitly allowed. (If you can't beat them join them!) You are not required to complete the full QRP Afield exchange with those stations; instead, you should use the exchange required by the other event. (Their logging software probably isn't set up to record your power level or NEQRP number.) We encourage you to submit logs to any contests you make contacts in, even if you only make one or two contacts; the organizers use your data to check other logs.

I'm also introducing a new bonus. Any contact where both operators send a NEQRP number and submit logs that contain a matching contact is worth two points instead of the usual one. The normal power, location, and S/P/C multipliers still apply. That's meant to encourage people to make some QRP Afield contacts. (Don't have a member number? Membership in the New England QRP Club is free and open to all hams. Send email to kk1x@kk1x.net with the subject Join.)

You can work each station once per band per mode. For our purposes there are three modes: CW, voice (any voice mode including digital voice), and digital (everything else: RTTY, PSK31, JT65, FT8, SSTV, fax -- if it's not Morse Code and doesn't involve a microphone it goes here). All bands other than WARC bands and 60 meters are allowed, but you'll find most of the QRP Afield activity on 40 and 20 meter CW. (The only bands and mode that appeared in 2020 logs were 80, 40, and 20 meter CW.) Perhaps 15 will have an opening this year, and consider trying 80 to work some nearby stations, especially if you are in or near one of the states with a QSO party.

A field station must use non-permanent antennas and be powered by something other than the commercial power grid or a motor-driven generator. Usually that means batteries. No minimum distance from your house is required; operating from your porch or yard is fine. That said, we encourage you to get out and operate from a location away from home!

---------------------------------------------------

Last year's submissions included a mix of logs that only included full QRP Afield exchanges, and logs that also included QSOs with stations in other operating events. That made it hard to compare the results, and I procrastinated reporting because I wasn't sure how to handle that. But I have compiled a spreadsheet with the best available data. You can see that here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18nwip7vXWWj0-O8E9p2sIyQRO2xZHWmzvftRqf5HjZg/edit?usp=sharing

I promise to get the 2021 results out in a more timely manner!

Leaders in 2020:

Top scores:

W1PID    3360

N5GW     2860

NN9K      2470

Leaders by ARRL/RAC section:

W1: W1PID

W2: W2JEK

W3: W3TS

W4: N4KGL

W5: N5GW

W8: WD8RIF

W9: NN9K

W0: W0UFO

VE3: VE3DQN

We did not receive logs from any other sections or from DX stations.

72, Shirley KE1L

2021 QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party

The next QRP-ARCI sponsored contest is our Fall QSO Party.  This is a 24-hour operating event from 0000z to 2359z on October 9th. 

Look for others around the normal QRP operating frequencies from 160m to 10m (no WARC) bands. The exchange is RST, State/Province/Country plus QRP-ARCI member number (for members) or power output (for non-members). Club member numbers are good for life and can be looked up at www.qrparci.org

If you can operate just a couple of hours or many, be sure to submit your log by November 1st at www.qrpcontest.com  Last year's contest only had 21 entries. Mike W3TS took the top spot in the 250mw to 1w category, and overall top score, with 25,520 points. Leading the 1w to 5w category, and 2nd overall, was Jim W4QO with 21,000 points followed closely by John K4BAI with 20,020 points. 

Complete rules and details are available here:  https://qrparci.org/contest/fall-qso-party

Hope to catch you on the air!

73,

Paul K4FB

QRP-ARCI Contest Manager


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Being prepared

 A few months back, in April, I ended up trading in the Jeep Patriot for something newer. The Patriot was 167,000 miles old and needed a new catalytic converter (estimate close to 2K). My wife Marianne brought up the point that it wasn't worth spending any further money on the vehicle, as it had done well for us over the years, and we had gotten our money's worth out of it. The possibility existed that it was just going to become a repair money pit.

She went online and located a "pre-owned" 2018 Jeep Cherokee at a local Honda dealer that was turned in after a short term lease.


This is the nicest vehicle that I have ever owned and I was a bit hesitant to put holes in it and mar the interior by installing my VHF/UHF radio. I have been driving around without since. This past Wednesday and Ida changed my mind.  However, I still didn't want to permanently deface the interior by drilling screw holes, so I came up with another solution.


I took a piece of plywood, cut it to a size that I thought would work best and I painted it black. It slides in between the driver's seat and the center console and because of the almost non-existent gap, stays put. I attached the radio to the plywood and that's how it's mounted.


I put black duct tape over the edges of the plywood to make that look a more finished and I put some Velcro (the soft, fuzzy side) over the screw heads securing the mounting bracket so that they can't scratch the side of center console.

I'm waiting on a new antenna, a Compactenna 2M/70cm dual band antenna. 

When I first saw this compact antenna a few years ago, I was skeptical as to how good a performer it could possibly be. My friend Tim AB2ZK has one and he raves about it. I want a low profile antenna so I can park in the deck at work with no problems. The 5/8 wave antenna I had on the Patriot forced me to park outside, as it would bang into the low hanging pipes protruding from the deck ceiling. I was also afraid that I would one day damage one of the low hanging fire detectors that are there.

The antenna is due to arrive this week and I should be in business by next weekend.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Wild and wooly - but blessed

Tropical Storm Ida paid us a visit yesterday. I can only imagine what Louisiana is like after she got through there. It was a dark and dreary day all day, but the real rain didn't kick in until just as I left work for home.

After I got home, (which took an hour - usually it's a 45 minute trip) it got worse. By 2:00 AM (when I finally got to bed last night) we had accumulated 9.50 inches (23 cm) of rain. My daughter Cara got home from Rutgers before I did, so she was safe. My son Joseph had a class until 8:40 PM. He texted me to say he was on the way home after class and I told him to either find a campus building to hunker down in; or just sit it out in his car at the University parking lot. The parking lot is a solar farm and is on high ground, and for all intent and purpose, the cars are covered. He told me he was going to recline the driver's seat back, and get a snooze.

My wife Marianne could not get home. Around 8:30 PM she texted me to let me know her car was stuck in water. I tried to drive out to where she found shelter, in a Petco Pet Store right next to her dialysis clinic - but I was turned around. The streets were flooded and impassable.  I texted, asking her why she didn't just go and re-open the clinic (cots/stretchers there) and stay there, and she told me the entrance was blocked by waist high water. By 11:00 PM her car in the parking lot was under water to the roof line.

Conditions at the W2LJ QTH at 11:00PM Local last night with rain still coming down


Added to all this craziness, my cell phone was beeping and buzzing all night with severe weather alerts, flash flood warning alerts, tornado warning alerts and the like. The Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management volunteers and South Plainfield CERT volunteers were all keeping in touch via GroupMe and the various repeaters. It was a hectic evening, to say the least.

The rain started easing up after Midnight, enough so that my son was able to navigate his way home by about 1:15 AM. At 2:00 AM, just before trying to get a few hours sleep, I texted my wife, advising her to get some rest if possible, and that I would pick her up around 5:00 AM after giving the floodwaters a chance to recede. Before hitting the sack, I checked into the local Skywarn Net to give our rainfall total.

When I got to where Marianne had sheltered, her car was no longer under water, but it was totally dead. Totally dead - like "dead as a doornail" dead. Dead to the point where I couldn't shift it into neutral to try and push it to a better, out of the way spot.

I called the police to let them know where we left it. I went online and filed a claim with our car insurance company. They are going to have it towed and provide a repair estimate. If it's not totaled,  I will be gobsmacked. It's a 10 year old Ford Fiesta and my wife told me that as the car was being covered by water, the lights came on by themselves and the trunk popped open. Total electrical system blow out. When I opened the doors, water did not come gushing out, but the seats and seatbacks were soaked like wet sponges. It's a mess. I can't imagine a 10 year old car would be worth even trying to repair at this point.

But even with all this, we are blessed. We are all safe and sound - even though (except for my daughter,) we all had wet socks, pants and squishy shoes from wading through various depths of rainwater. Some 25 miles or so to the south of us in the vicinity of Trenton, NJ there was a lot of tornadic activity. From what I was able to gather from various media sources, several homes were destroyed.

We never lost power at home and our basement remained dry as a bone - which is more than I can say for lots of my neighbors. We are all safe and injury free and for that I thank the Almighty. A car can and will be replaced - my wife, son and daughter cannot.

Thank you, Lord, for being with us through the eye of the storm.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

2021 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Results

 After a few flubs by yours truly - the "final" version of the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Scoreboard is available for viewing:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-drxnlwD8qJtv0mcTaPzXWB-9tFrU11v/edit?fbclid=IwAR0ewmzLjZPqmgFty-B1FaOb1zeSXr1hjaIVC8un6s4nGP3uQh3cMk8q9Lg#gid=450200681

A big CONGRATULATIONS is in order to ALL those who participated, but a special "hat tip" to the Top Five finishers:

1st Place - Dave AB9CA

2nd Place - Gene N5GW

3rs Place - Rick NK9G

4th Place - Mark NK8Q

5th Place - Kent K9ZTV and the N0SS Crew!

The soapbox pages and the certificates will follow soon.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!