Tuesday, July 23, 2024

A question was asked.

I received an e-mail with a question from a reader. "Why don't you do videos like so many others seem to be doing?"

I have delved into making a few videos in the past. Unlike the really good videos you find on YouTube, mine have been done with my phone. To make a video properly, and one that is worth watching and is actually enjoyable to watch, you need more equipment than I can muster. One or more cameras of decent quality are required, a decent tripod, and good editing software and a decent computer to run it all on. The most important ingredient, though, is time.

Between work, home responsibilities and some other commitments that I have, I barely find enough time to get on the air and play radio! Making videos at this point would just eat up precious time that I do not have right now. I am hoping, hoping, hoping to retire next May on the occasion of my 68th birthday. If I can do that, maybe I can begin to think about creating a video or two.

However, maybe this weekend during FOBB, I will take some footage with my phone and cobble something together with the free editing software that I have on my laptop to see if I can make something worth watching. It will be rudimentary at best. And believe me, if I think it turns out like a piece of .........., I will not irritate your eyes and ears with something terrible.

In the meantime, W2LJ will just keep on plain ol' vanilla blogging.

The extended weather out look for South Plainfield. Looks like Sunday may be the beginning of yet another heatwave. I hope that personal neck fan arrives in time!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 22, 2024

The heat

Yesterday was a CERT day. Like those bumblebee shirts? I should wear it NEXT Sunday! Hi!

From left to right, Bill Meixner KC2PLO, Sharon Padula (non-Ham), Marv Bornstein K2VHW, W2LJ, Captain Wendell Born, our OEM Director - photo courtesy of Councilwoman Christine Faustini

As I had mentioned earlier, the South Plainfield Business Association put on their annual "Christmas in July" celebration.  Santa was there for the kids, but it's mostly an opportunity for businesses, mostly local small businesses to display and offer their wares and to increase their visibility within the community. As CERT members, we were there to hand out literature about hurricane preparedness, flooding preparedness and to possibly. recruit more CERT members. 

The event ran from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM in order to beat the peak "hot hours" of the day, but it was still pretty hot. I took out my cellphone around 4:30 to check and see what the temperature was at my weather station located about a mile away, and I was seeing a reading of 93 F (34 C). Captain Born is one smart cookie, though. He set up a fan/mister combo right in front of our canopy which insured many stoppers by. I only wish he had pointed the thing inward instead of outward!

Marv and I both made a mental note to make sure we ask him if we can borrow that for next year's Field Day effort. But sitting there in the heat made me think about next Sunday's 90 F (and possibly higher) temps for FOBB. I'm not going to have the advantage of having that mister at Cotton Street Park. And even though it's pretty shady there, if there's no breeze and the air is still, it can get downright uncomfortable.

So once again, I whipped out the cell phone and ordered one of these portable neck fans.

It was only $12 on eBay and should be at my house either Friday or Saturday in time for next Sunday's event. When I was a kid, the extreme heat or cold didn't bother me so much. I grew up in a house with no air conditioning, and it was only later at my time at home that my parents put window air conditioners in a couple of rooms.  As one grows older, let's just say we grow more appreciative of the more temperate range of climes. I doubt I could live in a house without A/C again.

Earlier in the day, before I left for the CERT event, I spent some time down in the shack and worked four POTA stations. Signals on 20 Meters were really down and in the mud. The only signal louder than 559 was K8ARE at US-4239 in Ohio. He was 599, everyone else I worked was either 559 or even fainter. I hope propagation is better next Sunday, and again on August 18th!

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

Sunday, July 21, 2024

FOBB a week away!

I know long range forecasts are notoriously unreliable, but according to WeatherBug, this is what I'm looking at for next Sunday:

If this holds true,  I'll definitely be at Cotton Street Park, probably with my EARCHI antenna, which I realized is the exact same thing as the KM4CFT antenna. It's an EFRW with a 9:1 UNUN. 

I've used it before for SPARC Field Day, so it's proven itself in portable ops. I'm going to cut a slightly shorter radiator for it .....41 feet as opposed to 53 feet. I will lose 80 Meters, but since FOBB is a daytime event, no one gets on 80 Meters anyway.

This was an extremely easy build.  If you're interested in putting one together yourself,  you'll find the step-by-step here: https://www.earchi.org/92011endfedfiles/Endfed6_40.pdf

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Drive on mast holders

My first iteration was a homebrew version that I made out of two oak planks way back in 2013.

The two planks were joined by a couple of hinges so I could fold it flat and my Jackite pole was held in place by two U-bolts. It worked, but was heavy, bulky and took up a lot of space in the trunk. It was kludgy at best. One time I lost a wingnut and had to go out and by a few spares.

I really wanted something lighter, smaller and a bit easier to deal with. A couple of years ago, after a search on Amazon, I found this one.

It was lighter, smaller and took up less space in the trunk, Ideal ....... right? As it turned out thr Jackite pole is literally 1 or 2 millimeters too wide and will not fit in the support tube. I used it with the Shakespeare crappie pole that I have, but I really like the Jackite as it's 10 feet taller.

So I started searching Amazon and eBay to see what I could find. I found a really nice mast holder on eBay marketed by Three Mosquitoes Gear right here in New Jersey. The price was $100 though, and that's a bit rich for my wallet.

Finally, Captain Obvious came up with a solution. Use  piece of 2" PVC and a couple of hose clamps and viola!

Without spending any more money and using stuff I already had, I now have the mast holder for  my Jackite that I always wanted!  Took me long enough to figure it out, didn't it? I'm sure most of you out there would have had this lashed up months ago. Once again, W2LJ is slow on the uptake. I can think out of the box too, it just takes me more time.

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

Friday, July 19, 2024

The weekend

What with Field Day, the W2QW Hamfest and Lake George taking up the past four weekends, I can get back to posting the weekend goings on:


LABRE DX Contest - https://www.labre.org.br/contest/en/regulamento/

IARU Region 1 70 MHz Contest - https://www.iaru-r1.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Rules-2021.pdf

North American QSO Party, RTTY - https://www.ncjweb.com/NAQP-Rules.pdf

CQ Worldwide VHF Contest - https://www.cqww-vhf.com/

Run for the Bacon QRP Contesthttp://qrpcontest.com/pigrun/

Next Tuesday night - SKCC Sprinthttps://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/weekday_sprint/

Special Events:

Hmmmmmmmm ...... nothing for the Anniversary of Apollo 11? This Saturday marks the 55th Anniversary of the first Moon landing.

07/20/2024 | Nuclear Ship Savannah Launch Anniversary

Jul 20, 1300Z-2100Z, K3S, Baltimore, MD. Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC. 7.1 14.1 21.1 28.1. QSL. K3LU, 980 PATUXENT ROAD, Odenton, MD 21113. Single transmitter SSB and CW aboard N/S Savannah. Please check spotting networks for frequencies. Info on QRZ.com www.qrz.com/db/k3s

07/20/2024 | RAGBRAI 51

Jul 20-Jul 27, 0000Z-2359Z, W0R, Durham, NC. AF4ZE. 14.074 21.074. QSL. John Swartz AF4ZE, 6203 Chesden Drive, Durham, NC 27713. W0R Whiskey Zero RAGBRAI. Biking across Iowa for RAGBRAI 51. Will operate bike-mobile, QRP as time permits, likely in the evenings July 20-27, 2024. FT8, CW, SSB. QSL af4ze@arrl.net, LoTW, and QRZ.com. af4ze@arrl.net

07/20/2024 | Railroad Rendezvous

Jul 20, 1300Z-2100Z, W4DOC, Kennesaw, GA. Atlanta Radio Club. 7.250 14.200. QSL. Atlanta Radio Club - Railroad, 227 Sandy Springs Place Suite D-306, Atlanta, GA 30328. Railroad Rendezvous offers the rare opportunity to step aboard the General locomotive, made famous during the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, and tour the cab of the historic steam locomotive, fee applicable. A variety of activities celebrating the railroad and other industrial enterprises will be taking place throughout the day. Send SASE for QSL card. www.atlantaradioclub.org/railroadrendezvous

Don't forget!!!! - If you participated in Field Day, your results have to be in to the ARRL by Tuesday, July 23rd.

For myself, I hope to test out my KM4CFT End Fed Random Wire in preparation for next Sunday's FOBB. I also have an idea how to modify my drive on mast holder so that I can use it with my 31' Jackite pole.

Sunday evening, the South Plainfield Business Association will be celebrating "Christmas in July" in the downtown section of town. The CERT Team will be there manning a cooling tent as it's going to be hot, not quite as hot as last week, but hot enough where we'll be available to anyone who needs some cooling down. I think we'll be handing out some hurricane preparedness literature, too.

Just checked the QRP Labs waiting list and I went from 293rd in line to 249th in just three days! Things are looking good for September!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Annoyed with Facebook

I posted a link to the "Such is the way of life" post immediately below this one to the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club Facebook page. Drew was a member and I thought the members would like to know that his call sign was re-assigned. 

Facebook informed me that my post was removed because it violated "Community Standards" and was deemed to be spam.

At the other club that I belong to, the Electronic Testing Society of New Jersey, we set up a memorial scholarship fund in Drew's memory. I guess we can't call it the W2OU Fund anymore. I was going to post the blog link there as well, but I guess that would have been removed, too. Besides, two instances probably would have gotten me banned from Facebook, at least temporarily if not permanently.

WTH, Facebook? Do you guys actually read this stuff; or is it just bots looking for stuff they don't even understand?

Feeling annoyed - I could use another term, but I'll choose to watch my language.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Such is the way of life

Nothing is permanent. I discovered, quite by accident, that Drew W2OU, a close friend who became a Silent Key in 2021 has had his call sign re-assigned.

I know, firsthand, that this is the way of the FCC, that call signs are not permanent markers and can be re-assigned, but n my heart of hearts, there will never be another W2OU quite like Drew. I wish new W2OU, Dr. Thomas Pallan much success with the call sign. 

I do hope that some day he takes the time to do a little research on the "original" W2OU just as I have done for the original W2LJ. There's a rich legacy of mentorship and volunteering behind that call sign, and I hope he discovers it. If he wanted to, just by doing a search here on "W2OU" would provide him with a lot of background. Since I began that journey, my call sign has become more precious and meaningful to me now that I know more about the Ham who proudly bore it with such distinction, and his family who supported him, before it was granted to me, .

Call signs are so much more than just a random jumble of letters and numbers. They take on a life of their own and we come to associate the call sign with the person, as if it were an integral part of their name ....... and part of their personality, being and soul.

Thinking of you, Drew, on this hot summery day. RIP, my friend.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Current project

This is a  KM4CFT  EFHW UNUN kit that I purchased via eBay.  The circuit board is actually done, and I built mine as a EFRW UNUN, so that I can use the same wire for multiple bands. The only difference between the two versions is that the EFHW UNUN builds the toroid as a 49:1 transformer and uses a 100pF capacitor in the circuit. The EFRW UNUN builds the toroid as a 9:1 transformer and the capacitor is not used. I still have to measure out some wire - two lengths - one 41 Foot length (one of the non-resonant lengths recommended for 40 - 10 Meters ) for the radiator and one 17 foot length for the counterpoise.

When finished, it will be only a foot longer than my PAR ENDFEDZ, but will give me all bands, 40 - 10 Meters. The PAR will load up on 15 Meters with the KX3's auto-tuner, but 17 and 12 Meters are pretty much no-go.

This will be my antenna for Flight of the Bumblebees on Sunday, 7/28. If the weather is decent, I'll probably go to Cotton Street Park here in town and will shoot a line up into one of the really tall trees there and will use this as a hanging vertical or sloper. If the weather is crappy, I'll set up the Jackite in the backyard and will use this as a sloper while operating at our patio table under the cover of the big umbrella.

If it performs decently well for me, then I am counting on it and my ZM-2 tuner to pair up with the QMX when it finally gets here for a truly small portable operating package.  I also ordered a 3.5 mm to 2.1 mm power cable adapter so I can use my little blue lithium battery with the QMX. Hopefully the QMX will be here in another month or two and I can take it with me when Marianne and I head up to Alexandria Bay for our anniversary in October. There are two state parks relatively close to where we will be staying that can be activated for POTA. Last year Marianne actually told me she wouldn't mind going with me if and when I activate them, when I brought up the possibility.

I'm quickly becoming enamored with operating portable with the smallest station that I can carry. It's truly amazing what you can accomplish with 5 Watts, if you know what you're doing and don't get into that nasty ol' mindset of "That will never work!".

On a side note ...... last year when we headed up to Alexandria Bay, we left on a Saturday after Marianne got home from work. Because we started out late, we spent Saturday night in Binghamton, NY. Recently, I looked up the hotel that we stayed at on Google maps and discovered that we were actually only a few blocks away from the street on which the original W2LJ lived! How cool is that? This year we plan to make the trip in one day, with no stop over. It's about a 6 hour ride up to Alex Bay from South Plainfield.

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

PS; Just checked the QRP Labs "Assembled Kits Order Status" page, which was updated today. I am 293rd on the list. If they build approximately 200 per month, then I'm looking at an arrival time of maybe late September. That would still be in time for me to take it along  to Alex Bay. Fingers crossed!

Monday, July 15, 2024

Less than two weeks

until the Flight of the Bumblebees - make sure to get your number!


Flight of the Bumblebees

Sunday, July 28, 2024

1700 to 2100 UTC

What is the ARS Flight of the Bumblebees and how can I participate?

The Adventure Radio Society Flight of the Bumblebees is a four-hour event held annually on the last Sunday of July. It is open to all QRP CW operators – there is not any membership requirement.  The Bumblebees are the stations that are out in the field who are sought after.


1300 to 1700   – Eastern DST

1200 to 1600  – Central DST

1100  to 1500 – Mountain DST

1000 to 1400  –  Pacific DST

0700 to 1100   –   Hawaii DST

This contest period accommodates multiple US time zones simultaneously. No matter where you live, there will be time for Bumblebees to travel to a field operating site, set up their station, operate the contest, and travel home.


Both home-based stations and portable operations are encouraged.


Everyone in the contest can work anyone else in the contest. In other words: Home-based stations can work Bumblebees and other home-based stations. Bumblebees can work home-based stations and other Bumblebees. However, this event really is all about working as many swarming Bumblebees as possible. Finding and working Bumblebees is the most rewarding thing to do for a Home Station.


Participants who operate portable from field locations are designated as 'Bumblebees'. They get to their final operating site principally under their own power by walking, biking, boating, and so on. The distance traveled to get to the site is at the Bumblebee’s discretion. Bumblebees will add /BB to their calls.  (NOTE: Home-based stations do not ever add /BB to their callsign.)


If you plan to operate the 2024 FOBB as a portable field station – you’re invited to request a Bumblebee Number.  Click Here For Instructions for Obtaining a Bumblebee Number There is no limit to the number of Bumblebees.


To keep with its minimalist theme, Maximum FOBB power output is 5 watts. This Maximum Power Limit applies to Home Stations also.


We operate CW on 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters, around standard QRP frequencies.

Call   CQ BB       Or listen for calling stations.

Here are the recognized standard QRP frequencies; https://qrper.com/resources/qrp-calling-frequencies


If you are a Bumblebee, your exchange is RST, state/province/country, and your Bumblebee Number.

If you are Home-Based Station, your exchange is RST, state/province/country, and your Power.

Here are examples of exchanges:

Bumblebee NE6SW/BB (Bumblebee No. 81) sends: 579, CA, BB 81 or NR 81

Home-based station WN1DWL sends: 579, MA, 5W

How do I know that I worked a Bumblebee?

Bumblebees will put a /BB after their Call, and/or will give you a BB Number. Keep track of how many Bumblebee you work - that will be needed.


Working the same Bumblebee on a different band counts as another Contact and another Bumblebee worked. So, try looking for Bumblebees all of the bands that are open during this event.


To report your results, go to 3830scores.com, and select the ‘ARS FOBB’ (on the Left side)  Be certain to properly select 'Home' or 'Bumblebee' so that you end up in the proper Results List  You will enter your [Total_Contacts] that you made and the [Number of Bumblebee] that you worked. If you are a Bumblebee, put a General Description of your Field Location into your Soapbox Comments  Soapbox comments may also include your power, equipment, antennas, band conditions, outdoor experiences, and anything else you wish to comment on.  

Scores will be Automatically Calculated

Reports will be available for both the 'Home' and 'Bumblebee' entrants.

Current Results will be available immediately. 

Once everyone has entered their data, you will see how well you did.


As with all ARS events, please keep safety in front of mind when conducting operations in the field. Such things as weather, power lines, terrain, dehydration, and fatigue can be lethal. Above all, we want all participants to have a fabulous and safe experience.

Here is a nice video from Bumblebee WG0AT in 2012  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0-0-pMH8Y4

And there you have all you need to know!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Grading antennas

At Lake George last week, I had the opportunity to use four different antennas. My thoughts and impressions of each:

My Buddistick magmounted to the car roof was a clear winner. I was able to work a couple of European stations within minutes of each other. Had I brought along my camping chair, I would have stayed with the Buddistick a lot longer. Standing hunched over behind my open hatch back was aggravating the bursitis in my hip. I have used this setup before when I used to do a lot of lunchtime radio from tbe parking lot at work, and in fact, I had written an article about it that appeared in the February 2014 edition of CQ magazine. I am hoping the nano VNA will help me determine sweet spots for 40 through 10 Meters.

Second was the PAR ENDFEDZ used as a sloper in conjunction with a 20 foot Shakespeare crappie pole as a mast. This worked exceedingly well, also. Next year, I plan to bring the Jackite for an added extra 11 feet in height. Wire antennas seem to be a favorite of mine going back to my Novice days. I know that wire in the air will not disappoint.

Third was the AlexLoop. This antenna performed satisfactorally and was the clear winner for ease in changing bands, Just tune the capacitor and you're good to go. It might not have heard as well, or gotten out as well as the Buddistick or Par, but I was glad I brought it along and will continue to do so in the future.

AX1. I didn't use it long enough a proper evaluation. On this try for POTA, I was not really impressed, but then again, I have it used before with decent results. It would think that going forward, it will be my last resort if any other solutions do not appear to be viable. But I have to keep in mind that many KX2 and KH1 users rave about this antenna, so I will keep an open mind.

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

Friday, July 12, 2024

Rare second post

I try to make only one post per day, but since tomorrow is a travel day, I'm going to let my self-imposed rule slide for today.

Final POTA activation today:

I started the activation on 20 Meters with the Buddistick mag-mounted to the roof of the Jeep. I haven't used it in a long time, so I just kind of tried to remember how I used to configure it to the best of my recollection. I must have been not far off as you can see by the RBN map. I worked Sweden and Italy. I didn't bring the Nano VNA along. I think that will help me get it configured even closer to ideal.

I didn't bring the camping chair along and standing behind the Jeep's open back hatch was setting off the bursitis in my hip, so I opted to switch to the AlexLoop and sit on the cabin porch for the rest of the activation.

16 Hunters worked including Sweden, Italy, Quebec, MO (for a Park to Park with NU7J), ME, MA, VA, WI, PA, FL, NC and I think that's everyone.

I am by no means a hard core or even semi-hard core or even a semi-semi-hard core POTA activator. I just like to have fun and get to play radio - even if it's just for a little while. I also like to remind myself every now and then how far I can get with 5 Watts. Sometimes I take that for granted.

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

Last day

Another year, another vacation coming to an end. This morning we left a deposit on our cabin for the same time next year. Unfortunately, that's 52 weeks away. Lord willing, we'll make it back up here. Who knows, maybe this time next year I'll actually be retired and won't quite dread returning home so much. Mind you, it's not home that I dread returning to. It's work. After 46 continuous years of work days, I've had just about enough.

Right now, the lawn maintenance people are busy outside, cutting grass and trimming. Once they are finished, I'll set up one last time to give out some contacts from US-2001. It's not quite so hot today as it has been, but I'll probably drape a white towel over the KX3 to reflect some of the sun's rays away.

The weekend forecast for home shows a flash flood watch has been issued for today and tomorrow. Sunday is the Sussex ARC Hamfest, probably ranked as the biggest, or at least one of the top two biggest Hamfests in New Jersey. That's a good hour's ride from home. After driving home tomorrow, and then going to pick up Harold from my sister, I doubt I'll be in a driving mood come Sunday morning. I'm not in the market for any gear, but it's always nice to run into familiar faces.

On a side note, I did not bring the laptop with me. I've been doing all the computer stuff that I need to do with a (very) old Samsung Galaxy tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard. It has worked out pretty well, above comic notwithstanding.  The tablet was originally mine, but I gave it to Marianne when hers gave up the ghost. After a few years of her using it, I bought her a new one last Christmas. This one has a few cracks in its glass and the processor is notably, and sometimes maddeningly slow, but it does what I need it to do, eventually. I have been able to keep up with Skeeter Hunt number requests ..... we're up to 123 now, and I've been able to add my POTA QSOs to their database. I've also been able to keep up with the Ham Radio blogs that I read and of course, my daily needed dose of comic strips. You know, the important stuff!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Ten more

Another 10 stations in the log.  I have to be upfront about this. This isn't a POTA vacation like some of the real die-hards do. This is a time to be away with family and just to enjoy each other and our down time together. Nonetheless, they do respect my love for Amateur Radio and afford me some solo time for my favorite pasttime.

The set up of the crappie pole and PAR ENDFEDZ went like a hot knife through butter. Easier, and it went up even more quickly than expected. Literally in a matter of minutes, the antenna was up and ready to go. Hindsight being 20/20, the Jackite pole would have been the better option, giving me an additional 10 feet in height. That's on my mental list for next year. Tear down and stowaway went just as smoothly.

After these sessions, I like to go to the Reverse Beacon Network for an "after action report". I was getting out pretty  well. The PAR even tunes up well enough on 15 Meters that I was able to be heard out Arizona-ways.

The best contact of the day came at 18:47 UTC, when my "CQ POTA" on 20 Meters was answered by SM5DXT, Chris in Sweden. I got a 419 report from him. Weak signal, but pretty readable. I'll take that any day of the week.

I had QSOs with Hunters in MO, ON (this one was a Park to Park), WV, GA, PA, MD, and NJ.  Good enough to satisfy my Ham Radio craving for the day. We're supposed to get the remnants of Hurricane Beryl visiting us today. It's kind of sunny right now, but the overcast is gaining ground. 1 - 3 inches of rain are supposedly coming according to WeatherBug. If I get on the air at all today, it just might be from the covered porch with the AlexLoop.

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

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

MacGyver I am not

Yesterday was somewhat of a good radio day up here at the Lake, all be it with a scare thrown in for good measure. From public property, I made my 10 QSOs for a successful activation of US-2001, Adirondack State Park.

I was operating from a picnic table and started out using the AX1. I worked John N0EVH who was at US-6470 for a Park to Park. But after him, I wasn't hearing much of anything on 20 Meters. So I shut off the KX3 and decided to switch to the AlexLoop. This is where the scare came in. When I went to turn the KX3 back on, it would't turn on! After about 5 tries, it eventually came back to life, but to say I was concerned is an understatement.

I went to my phone and was going to Google "KX3 fails to turn on" and that's when I found the answer in a roundabout way. W2LJ, the KX3 and the cellphone were all sitting in the hot sun. My cellphone gave me a warning message. "Your phone is too hot. Apps will not open." Everything was too hot, as my little Radio Shack clock/thermometer (which is in a WHITE plastic case) confirmed that it was over 100F in the sun.

Later, after bringing the KX3 back into the cabin and allowing it to cool down, it repeatedly turned on and off as it always has.  Before shutting down and coming inside, I did manage to work the requisite amount of stations with contacts on 20 and 40 Meters ranging from NY to AL, MN and NE.

A while back, I saw in one of the Elecraft user Facebook pages where a guy took his brand new KX2 and painted the case with a desert sand colored paint. I have to admit that I thought he was nuts, but after yesterday, I recognize his wisdom. The light color reflects the hot sun instead of absorbing it. Additionally, Bob W3BBO reminded me that was probably the reason of the PFR3 was bright yellow. I'll have to come up with some kind of shading solution.

Now for the title part of this post and my statement about not being MacGyver.......

We've been coming up to this place at Lake George for 21 Summers now. This is our 20th year at this particular place called Stepping Stones. We have been in various cabins throughout our years here, but about 5 years ago, we were able to snag one of the two cabins closest to the lake. This is what's right outside our window - between us and the lake. For years I did not notice this !?!

Fence posts! I can bungee my crappie pole (or the Jackite, if I bring it) to one of the fence posts and then run the PAR ENDFEDZ right to the porch! If I bungee it to the farthest fence post, even the mast will disappear in the foliage and no one will know it's there. Added bonus ...... I can set it up and take it down in minutes.

Sometimes I am so slow on the uptake that I disgust even myself. Angus MacGyver I am not. If you're ever in a situation where there's a bomb ready to go off and all we have is some shoelaces, chewing gum, and rubber bands, I am NOT the guy you want to have at your side!

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

Monday, July 08, 2024

More about the original W2LJ

This is going to be a long post. In our last episode, I was telling you all about the musings and thoughts I have had about the original W2LJ ...... who he was and what he was like.  The experience I have had over the past couple of days has just been amazing and more than I could ever have hoped for.

In my Google search, I had mentioned that Ed and Norma had a daughter. I also saw in the Google results that his daughter has a Facebook page. Not totally sure that I would be addressing the right person, I decided to send a Facebook message, anyway. I introduced myself and explained why I was contacting her. After all, I didn't want her to think that some creepy stranger from out of left field was contacting her for nefarious reasons. Lord, knows, we have enough of that, these days. Between scams, phishing and other evil intentions, I wanted his daughter to know this was harmless.

I didn't know what to expect, or even if I would ever get a reply. What happened next was one of the most gracious and kind exchanges from Carmen, Ted's (as he preferred to be known) daughter, and his grandson, Jon. Two of the most remarkable people who I am so glad to know, and will be eternally grateful to.

Carmen answered me via e-mail. (I have their permission to post - I would never do that without their consent):


Yes, I am the daughter (and only child) of Edward (Ted) Roscoe Swoffer who was a ham radio operator since adolescence.  He was born and brought up in Walnut Grove, Minnesota one of eight children. He signed up for duty in World War !! And served on submarine duty (Peto and the Albacore).  The Albacore was torpedoed shortly after he got off to marry my mom.  He studied Electrical Engineering at Penn State and worked for Singer Link in Binghamton for many years.  He and my mom (Norma) were amazing grandparents to my three children and I am so grateful.

My father was very quiet and humble, never boasting of his many accomplishments.   He was not very social, although well liked by all.  I am not sure what all those letters mean concerning his equipment etc.   I do have many of his postcards from far and near and would be glad to send you one.  Let me know if you have further questions and let me know your address if you want one of his postcards from other ham operators.  I donated a Morse Code machine and some other stuff to a local museum called Tech Works.

I look forward to your response!


Wow! I was floored! I was hoping for some kind of response and was so glad to receive such a warm and welcoming one!

I had cross posted to the AmateurRadio.com site hoping that other folks who might have known Ted would offer some tid bits about him. His grandson Jon replied there:

Hi Larry – Thanks so much for your post and your curiosity. Ted Swoffer (“Pappy” to his grandkids) was my grandfather. He was a great one. So much I could share with you about him. He started building radios as a kid in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, had multiple tours of duty in the pacific theater in WWII as a radio/sonar guy aboard two USN submarines (USS Albacore and USS Peto), and after the war graduated from Penn State with an engineering degree. Joined Singer Link in Binghamton, NY as an aeronautical engineer, working on flight simulators for several warbirds. While I spent much of my childhood being fascinated with his many hobbies, he was a quiet man. And amateur radio remained something that he did by himself. Perhaps that’s why nobody else in the family continued the craft. I think he would be so pleased to know that his call sign lives on through you.

And Jon also sent me an e-mail:

Hi Larry - attached is a wartime photo of Ted Swoffer.  Also attached is a picture of a collage of post cards to W2LJ from all over the world that I made a few years ago.  

I’ll look through other things to see if I have any other W2LJ stuff I could send you

And also from Jon:

Larry - thanks for sharing!  Very cool to see the W2LJ license plate.  

Ted was a Morse coder like you.  You two would have had a lot in common. 

And here's the photos that both Carmen and Jon sent.


Ted, the original W2LJ was an amazing man! And to borrow a radio term, I found some resonance between him and my own Dad. Both faithfully and bravely served in the Armed Forces during WWII. While Ted was a Navy sonarman, my Dad's first assignment with the Signal Corp was a detachment to the joint British/American team that was developing enhancements to radar. Unlike Ted, my Dad never went on to getting an Amateur Radio license. Perhaps that skipped a generation and was my destiny.

Carmen also informed me that her Dad was a CW man. Yay! I was elated to find that out. It makes me feel like i'm somehow carrying on his legacy, even though I never knew him. I did mention to Carmen and Jon that I wished I had known Ted back in 1978 when I was studying for my own Novice license and beyond. I know in my heart of hearts he would have been a fantastic Elmer, and boy, I could have used one back then.

As I said before, this was an amazing experience. I got to double dip! Not only did I learn so much more about this amazing man who originally held the callsign W2LJ, but I was also able to meet and converse with his daughhter and grandson - two of the most kind, warm, and friendly people you'd ever want to know. Thanks so much, Carmen and Jon! I can only hope that my Amateur Radio career would make Ted proud that W2LJ lives on.

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

Sunday, July 07, 2024

Lake George 2024

A couple randon photos. If it's not too hot, I'll give the AX1 and extended whirl from one of the picnic tables here where we're staying.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!