Friday, February 23, 2024

Upcoming stuff

After a short workweek, the weekend is once again upon us. Here is some stuff that will be going on:

Contests:

CQ 160-Meter Contest, SSB (has a QRP Category) - http://www.cq160.com/rules.htm

South Carolina QSO Party - http://scqso.com/

North American QSO Party, RTTY - https://www.ncjweb.com/NAQP-Rules.pdf - Probably why you'll be hearing digital encroaching way down into the CW sub-bands.

UBA DX Contest, CW - https://www.uba.be/en/hf/contest-rules/uba-dx-contest

High Speed Club CW Contest - https://sites.google.com/view/hsc-contest

North Carolina QSO Party - http://ncqsoparty.org/rules/

Special Event Stations:

02/17/2024 | 40th Anniversary for Mid State Amateur Radio Club

Feb 17-Feb 24, 0000Z-2100Z, W9MID, Franklin, IN. Mid State Amateur Radio Club. 14.265 7.227. QSL. Chris Frederick, 255 Hillendale Dr, Greenwood, IN 46142. https://midstatehams.org

02/18/2024 | Engineer’s Week at Collins Aerospace

Feb 18-Feb 24, 1700Z-1900Z, W0CXX, Cedar Rapids, IA. Collins Amateur Radio Club. 7.180 MHz 14.263 MHz 21.380 MHz 28.380 MHz. QSL. Engineer's Week at Collins Aerospace SES, 1110 Lyndhurst Dr, Hiawatha, IA 52233. Note: The times are during lunch break however there may be times outside of what is specified that club members may operate during these days especially Sunday (18th) and Saturday (24th). https://www.qrz.com/db/W0CXX

02/21/2024 | GEORGE WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY

Feb 21-Feb 24, 0001Z-2359Z, WS7G, Monitor, WA. COLUMBIA BASIN DX CLUB. 14.322/14.255 7.222/7.260. Certificate & QSL. BRIAN NIELSON, 11650 Road 1 SE, Monitor, WA 98836. https://cbn.homestead.com/ws7g.html

02/24/2024 | 20th Annual Freeze Your Keys winter operating event

Feb 24, 1400Z-2200Z, W0EBB, Leavenworth, KS. Kickapoo QRP ARC. 7.035 CW 7.240 SSB 14.058 CW 14.325 SSB. QSL. Gary Auchard - W0MNA, 34058 167th Street, Leavenworth, KS 66048. Please include SASE for a QSL card. w0mna74@gmail.com or www.qrz.com/db/W0EBB

On a personal note, my on-the-air time and blogging have been on the light side since the beginning of the year. That final hormone blocker shot that I received in December as part of my treatment for prostate cancer really kicked in and whipped my butt in January and the earlier part of this month.  I hope that none of my male Ham Radio friends ever have to deal with having their testosterone level suppressed. It may be fantastic for your PSA, but it leaves one feeling weak, tired and kind of depressed, as you can't do the things that were so normal to you for all of your life. Again, the closest analogy I can think of is from my childhood comic book days - Superman exposed to Kryptonite.

The good thing is that I can feel myself slowly returning back to some resemblance of normalcy.  I still haven't been participating in the QRP Fox Hunts, which I re-joined last Autumn and now miss so very badly.  I usually hit the sack by around 8:30 PM each day at the latest. There's no way I'm able to stay up to 10:30 PM these days, after a full day of work. But I think that's starting to change. I am going to make a concerted effort to rejoin the Hunts either this coming week or the week after, depending on how I feel. 

If any of you out there ever find yourself under the same circumstance - diagnosed with prostate cancer and in shock from hearing the "C word", and you feel the need to talk with someone who has gone through it and can help tell you what to expect next - please feel free to reach out to me at w2ljqrp@gmail.com. I'm not an authority and I'm certainly not a doctor, but I think I'm pretty much a "usual case". Of course, everyone's experience will be different, but I can tell you some of what to expect, and what I've learned from my journey.

On a different note, looking at the long range forecast for the end of February and into March, it looks like this part of the world will be experiencing temperatures a bit warmer than normal for this time of year. That will mean a warmer basement shack and a more comfortable operating environment. I am looking forward to getting more on the air time ASAP. 

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

VE Exam Sessions

On February 10th, we held our monthly VE Exam session, which occurs on the second Saturday of the month. We had six candidates, and if I remember correctly, we brought in two new Technicians, and we had two upgrades to General and two upgrades to Extra.

I think it was the Tuesday following the session, I received a phone call from one of the candidates. 

Without even getting a name, or the caller telling me who he was, I hear "How come you haven't sent the license test session results in?"

I was like "Wait. What?"

"I called the FCC and they told me they haven't received the results of Saturday's session."

I assured the candidate that I had indeed submitted the results to the ARRL the following morning, and that I would try to find out what was going on. The great thing about the ARRL-VEC is that they are very prompt in providing information and answers when you ask them something. It turned out the FCC's results submission servers were down and they were not accepting exam session results. The VEC Department assured me that they had received my session report and had uploaded it to the receiving queue at the FCC, but they had no idea when the results would be processed. 

Why didn't the FCC elaborate on that little fact to my candidate? I guess they didn't want to look like the "bad guy". "We didn't receive anything" kind of places the blame elsewhere rather than "Our servers are down, we are not capable of processing sessions right now."

This is the second time in a few months that this has happened and I'm not surprised. If you were to tell me the FCC is still running Windows XP, that would not surprise me, either. Heck, if you were to tell me the FCC was running Windows 95 that would not surprise me, either.

The thing is, exam candidates should not be so eager to blame the VE Team for occurrences like this. The accusatory tone from my candidate was disheartening, to say the least. As a VE Liaison, let me tell you what goes into these VE Sessions.

First off, you have to let the VEC that you are associated with, know your exam schedule so that it can be publicly posted.  I have to do this towards the end of each year - letting the ARRL know when the ETS of NJ Exam Team will be in session. It's done online and is not difficult, but it is still an extra chore that needs to be done.

Then, as Liaison, my contact information is given out so candidates can let me know they want to come to a session. I respond with an e-mail, letting each person know where the exams are being held (in detail, so they don't get lost) as well as letting them know that they need an FRN Number if they don't already have one, and how to get it. In addition they're informed about filling out an FCC 605 form and everything they should be bringing with them to the exam. I also request a phone number from each so that I can text or call if for some reason the exam session gets cancelled at the very last moment. That happened a few times during the pandemic and is not a problem now, but it's still good to have that information.

Anther e-mail has to go out to the VE Team letting them know whether the exam session for the month is "on" and letting them know how many candidates we'll be expecting. And then you hope and pray that at least two examiners will show up as three is the minimum needed to conduct an exam session. 99% of the time, this is not a problem, but there have been instances where only the bare minimum have showed up. Sometimes it's like herding cats.

Then exam day comes and all the paperwork has to be checked, ID's and FRNs checked, fees collected, tests given and graded and all the associated paperwork that goes with all of that. The candidates have to be be watched to make sure no funny business is taking place AND the VE's themselves have to be watched. Human tendency is for them to start chatting amongst themselves, and they have to be reminded to keep the atmosphere silent so that the candidates can concentrate on their task. Newer VE's have to be guided on procedures so that no candidates are penalized because of newbie VE mistakes. That, in and of itself, explains the need for a minimum of three Volunteer Examiners.

The next morning (Sunday morning) I gather it all together into one big stack, scan it and upload it to the ARRL. I send them the hardcopies of the Exam Session Report, the Candidate Roster and a check to cover the exam fees. If folks pay in cash, I write a check to cover that amount and send it in. I can do the payment part online if I use a credit card, but I prefer not to run up a credit card if I can help it.

So there's a lot more to these exam sessions than just sitting down and handing out and taking tests. Your VE Team is doing all this volunteer work because they want to give back something to the hobby that they have loved for so long. They're giving up their time and talent to benefit YOU. If things don't go as smoothly or quickly with the results, try not to jump to the conclusion that it's somehow the Team's fault or that they didn't so something correctly.

And now I'm going to go into curmudgeon (Old Fart) mode. Back in the day, we had to wait six to eight weeks for our licenses to come through the mail. You guys get your results so much faster now, it's almost enough to make one's head swim. I know that no one like to hear that, but that doesn't make it any less true. Oh, and by they way, the results of our February 10th exam session finally got processed by the FCC yesterday - a whole 10 days late.  

I let the inquiring candidate know - he was happy.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Day late and a dollar short

My attempt to finish DXCC on 15 Meters this past weekend came up two countries short. I needed four and got two - Aland Islands and Malta. It was hilarious in a way, because I set up the Cluster in AC Log to only show me spots for 15 Meters, and all I kept seeing was:

Confirmed
Confirmed
Confirmed
Confirmed
Confirmed

and so on and so on and so on.

The few stations that were on the air the same time that I was and came up as "Needed" for the most part were on the other side of the world in SouthEast Asia. I have a real hard time working that part of the world . I would go to the frequency in question and most times was not even able to hear the station I was seeking to work. Nothing a 100 foot tower and a mono band Yagi wouldn't cure ........ like THAT'S going to happen!

There were also a couple African nations, noticeably the Republic of the Congo,  where the station was again, barely audible. 

Going forward, every chance I get to be on the air, I am going to pay special attention to 15 Meters. I will make DXCC on that band before Cycle 25 goes in the dumper!

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

Friday, February 16, 2024

The "King" is here this weekend.

At least one of them, anyway.  Perhaps, the oldest DX Contest - the ARRL WW DX CW is this weekend. Again, as long as Ol' Sol doesn't throw a fit and cough up on all of us - we're as close to the peak of the sunspot cycle as we can be. If your backside is inclined to sit for the entire event, there's no reason you can't substantially fatten up your DXCC tally - or even complete your DXCC if you don't have it yet.

Personally, I am only four countries away from making DXCC on 15 Meters and 12 countries away from DXCC on 10 Meters. I'll have to see what I can accomplish on those two bands this weekend.

QRPers ...... the best part of the contest is Saturday night and into Sunday. A lot of the big guns will be looking for points to pad their tallies and will listen for weaker signals - especially Sunday afternoon.

New CW'ers - the exchange is easy! Signal report and your state or province. The report back to you will be a signal report and output power report. The exchange is not difficult and after a while you will notice your ability to copy higher speed CW has increased.

New in the contest for 2024:

Limited Antenna Overlay: Any Single Operator or Single Operator Unlimited entrant can enter using the Limited Antennas Overlay. Operation is limited to the use of single-element antennas such as a single vertical, end-fed wire, or a single dipole antenna no more than 50 feet above ground at its highest point. The antenna(s) may cover multiple bands, as in the case of multiband verticals and dipoles with fan or trap constructions.

Contests: 

ARRL Inter. DX Contest, CW - http://www.arrl.org/arrl-dx

YLRL YL-OM Contest - https://ylrl.net/contest-submission/

FISTS Sunday Sprint - https://fistsna.org/operating.html#sprints

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest - http://qrpcontest.com/pigrun/

Special Event Stations:

02/17/2024 | 40th Anniversary for Mid State Amateur Radio Club

Feb 17-Feb 24, 0000Z-2100Z, W9MID, Franklin, IN. Mid State Amateur Radio Club. 14.265 7.227. QSL. Chris Frederick, 255 Hillendale Dr, Greenwood, IN 46142. https://midstatehams.org

02/17/2024 | HL Hunley Submarine special event station – N4HLH 2024

Feb 17, 1500Z-1900Z, N4HLH, Sullivans Island, SC. Trident Amateur Radio Club. 7.117(CW) 7.262 14.262 28.462 . QSL. N4HLH / Trident Amateur Radio Club, P.O. Box 60732, North Charleston, SC 29419. https://www.tridenthams.org/hl-hunley

02/17/2024 | Ice Station W0JH - Frozen Minnesota Lake Portable

Feb 17-Feb 19, 1600Z-2300Z, W0JH, Stillwater, MN. Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio Association (SARA). 21.360 14.260 7.260 3.860. Certificate. Available by, email only, W0JHice@outlook.com, MN 55082. W0JH will operate portable from a frozen lake in Washington County, Minnesota (Grid Square EN34). In a meager attempt to drive away the remainder of Minnesota winter, the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association will be generating as much RF as possible over the President's Day long weekend. (Please help us!!) Certificates will ONLY be sent via email in PDF format. (Send requests with standard QSL confirmation info to: W0JHice@outlook.com). There is no need to send a QSL card. Info: W0JH at www.QRZ.com & www.Radioham.org

02/17/2024 | Washington's Birthday Celebration

Feb 17, 1500Z-2100Z, W0ARC, Washington, IA. Washington Area Amateur Radio Club, Inc. 7.071, 7.200 14.071, 14.275 21.074, 21.310 28.071, 28.350. QSL. Mark Lukins, AB0DX, 802 N 2nd Ave, Washington, IA 52353. Find us on 10, 15, 20, and 40M phone as well! Look for us on DX Summit. Send a SASE to us for a commemorative QSL card. We are located in Washington county, Washington township, City of Washington, on Washington street!! www.waarc.net

02/18/2024 | Engineer’s Week at Collins Aerospace

Feb 18-Feb 24, 1700Z-1900Z, W0CXX, Cedar Rapids, IA. Collins Amateur Radio Club. 7.180 MHz 14.263 MHz 21.380 MHz 28.380 MHz. QSL. Engineer's Week at Collins Aerospace SES, 1110 Lyndhurst Dr, Hiawatha, IA 52233. Note: The times are during lunch break however there may be times outside of what is specified that club members may operate during these days especially Sunday (18th) and Saturday (24th). https://www.qrz.com/db/W0CXX

02/18/2024 | GEORGE WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY

Feb 18-Feb 19, 1500Z-2000Z, K4US, Alexandria, VA. Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club (MVARC). 7.042 7.242 14.042 14.242. QSL. MVARC, P.O. Box 7234, Alexandria, VA 22307. mvarc.org

02/19/2024 | Dry Tortugas & The Florida Keys 2024

Feb 19-Feb 29, 0000Z-0000Z, N4T, Mount Joy, PA. Molly & Friends. 14.336; SSB, CW, FT8/FT4, and satellites. QSL. Molly Sauder, 1509 Pinkerton Rd, Mount Joy, PA 17552. Here's your chance for a rare grid as well as ARLHS, IOTA, POTA, USI and WLOTA. We plan to be on air using SSB, CW, FT8/FT4 and satellites. Spot via POTA & DX Summit. mollyandfriends6@gmail.com

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

If I had my "druthers".

I'd be home working on building the plethora of kits I have collecting dust in my shack and also spending some quality time on HF.

After 45 years of the daily grind of working full time, this is getting really old - and I'm getting really old, too.

Hopefully, if God is good to me, I'll have one more sunspot cycle peak left in me to enjoy - and I'll have retired by then.

Sigh.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The rodent lied

 So much for an early Spring:

Only about 5 inches in South Plainfield, but it made the commute "special" to say the least! And now the weather prognosticators are talking about another round for this coming Saturday. Ugh.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

VE Session today

The ETS of NJ VE Session was a success !

I was a bit disappointed that only six of nine candidates showed up,  but a bit more on that later.  The good thing was that all six candidates left with some success. 


We had two candidates acquire their Technician class licenses, two candidates upgraded to General, and two upgraded to Amateur Extra.

It's a good feeling when you can congratulate a candidate on a job well done. 

Regarding the three candidates that did not show.  Two were supposed to have attended last month's session but bailed. The third was new.  I emailed the two from last month, to confirm their attendance this mouth,  but never got an answer from either. The third contacted me just the other day to inquire if there was enough space for him to fit in and I replied in the affirmative, so I was surprised he didn't show.

So to all you folks out there scheduling to take an exam ..... if you can't make it,  let your liason know! Stuff happens and there's no shame in having to cancel,  but let the VE Team know.  We could have started earlier, but we were waiting for some word from the remaining three. As a result, we got out later than we otherwise would have. 

Enough of that - we'll just end on the general good feeling and bask in the success.

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, February 09, 2024

The Black Sheep of the Family

If you go on Facebook at all, it quickly becomes apparent that Baofeng HTs get very little respect. They are the Rodney Dangerfields of the HT world. I understand, in a way, as they are not really comparable in any way to units produced by Kenwood, Yaesu or Icom. They may not be as technically excellent or as elegantly engineered as radios from the Big 3, but in my mind, they do have their place.  






I own a UV-3R and a UV-5R. The UV-3R is my carry around and listen to repeaters HT. It's small, about the size of a package of cigarettes and it does what I need it to do. My UV-5R with the larger battery pack is my CERT / Public Service Event radio. Again, it does what I need it to do. No frills, no bells and whistles.

Not glowing endorsements for sure, but if something were to happen to either of these, such as dropping them, losing them, or whatever - I'm not about to have a heart attack. They may not be the best available out there, but they're easily replaceable without breaking the bank. Keep this comparison in mind, Baofengs are the Red Cups of the handheld world, as compared to the fine crystal drinkware that are Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu. And of course, you get what you pay for. If you're willing to accept Harbor Freight rather than Craftsman or Snap On - you get the drift, especially if you're not primarily a VHF/UHF Op.

Coming up this weekend:

Contests - to participate in or to be aware of:

CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest - https://www.cqwpxrtty.com/rules.htm

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon - https://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/weekend_sprintathon/

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint - http://www.4sqrp.com/SSS/sss_rules.pdf

CQC Winter QSO Party - http://www.coloradoqrpclub.org/contests/winter.htm

Special Events:

02/10/2024 | 75th Anniversary of Merci Train Boxcar

Feb 10-Feb 29, 0000Z-0000Z, NV7AL, Las Vegas, NV. American Legion Paradise Post 149 and 40&8 Voiture 306. 7.074 7.250 14.074 14.250. QSL. Robert Bencsko, 2548 Fort Lauderdale Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89156. This special event station is set up to raise awareness of the 75th Anniversary of 40&8 "MERCI Train Boxcar" Please check out the QRZ page. The 24th and 25th may be operating on location of the Nevada boxcar in Boulder City, NV Watch for us on DX Summit QSL with SASE to AD7J https://www.qrz.com/db/NV7AL

02/10/2024 | Commemorating the End of Operation Desert Storm (27FEB91)

Feb 10, 1700Z-2359Z, NI6IW, San Diego, CA. USS Midway Museum Ship. 7.250 14.320; 14.070 PSK31; DSTAR on PAPA System repeaters. QSL. USS Midway Museum COMEDTRA, 910 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. www.qrz.com/db/ni6iw

02/10/2024 | Green Valley Amateur Radio Club Churches On The Air

Feb 10, 1700Z-2100Z, WE7GV, Green Valley, AZ. Green Valley Amateur Radio Club. 14.242 14.262 14.282. Certificate & QSL. Tom Lang, 1085 W. El Toro Rd, Sahuarita, AZ 85629. This Special Event includes three local churches on the air at the same time from the Green Valley area on the published frequencies + or -. www.gvarc.us

02/10/2024 | Lee Jackson Celebration

Feb 10, 1730Z-2200Z, N4SCV, Gainesville, FL. Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1424. 7.214 MHz 14.314 MHz. QSL. Ron Lewis, KN4ZUJ, 14714 NW 144th Street, Alachua, FL 32615. We look forward to talking with you. See you on the air on February 10th! VY 73, Madison Starke Perry Camp 1424 Sons of Confederate Veterans www.gatorscv.com

02/11/2024 | 10 Year Countdown to the 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Pluto

Feb 11-Feb 19, 0000Z-2359Z, W7P and W7P/0, Flagstaff, AZ. Northern Arizona DX Association. 7.290 14.090 14.290 21.290. Certificate & QSL. W7P c/o NADXA, 6315 Townsend Winona Rd., Flagstaff, AZ 86004. www.nadxa.com

Personally, my VE Team has a session tomorrow morning.. Lots of last minute signups. We may have as many as eight candidates.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, February 05, 2024

Who knew - indeed!?!

I came across the following post on Facebook - out of respect for the poster, I will not name names.

"I guess it's a thing, now: amateur radio Morse code ops are now sending 72 at the end of a communication, instead of 73.

Have they not perfected their 3 yet, or is there some secret club I'm unaware of?

Turns out that, 72 is used for 73 but when you are running QRP.  Who knew?

So, then: we should use 74 when QRO, now!"

I suppose this was meant to be tongue in cheek, but I also sense some snark in this. Of all the things that you can get upset with / annoyed by in Amateur Radio - the use of "72" by QRP Ops is going to get your knickers in a twist? 

Bad pile up behavior, failing to listen before using a frequency, tuning up on a DX'ers frequency, and a myriad of other bad operating practices and "72" gets your goat? And of course you get the follow up comments "Why do QRPers think they're so special?" etc, etc, etc. - Just like the old playground game "Dog Pile On The Rabbit". Sheesh!

Explaining that "72" is used mostly between QRPers, wishing each other "Best QRP" seemed to hold not much, if any, sway.

Well, all I can say is:

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, February 02, 2024

FYBO is tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first Saturday in February, so that means it's FYBO time! I hope to participate for a little bit - not sure if I'll be outdoors or not.  Maybe I can squeeze in a POTA activation at the same time? The Washington-Rochambeau Trail K-4582 is only a stone's throw away from my house.

For the rest of the weekend:

Contests:

FYBO Winter QRP Sprint - https://azscqrpions.org/

Vermont QSO Party - http://www.ranv.org/vtqso.html

Minnesota QSO Party - https://www.w0aa.org/mnqp-rules/

10-10 Int. Winter Contest, SSB - https://www.ten-ten.org/index.php/activity/2013-07-22-20-26-48/qso-party-rules. There is a QRP category.

British Columbia QSO Party - http://www.orcadxcc.org/bcqp_rules.html

North American Sprint, CW - https://ncjweb.com/Sprint-Rules.pdf

AGCW Straight Key Party - https://www.agcw.de/contest/htp/htp-en/

European Union DX Contest - https://www.eudx-contest.com/rules/

And Monday evening in the USA - ARS Spartan Sprint - http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/2009/02/so-whats-spartan-sprint-and-how-do-i.html

Special Events:

None scheduled for this weekend.

A word about the 80 Meter Fox Hunt last night. The two Foxes up were Earl N8SS in MI and John K4BAI in GA.  I found Earl rather easily in the lower half of the woods, but it took me 34 minutes before I was able to nab him. It looks like he was able to hand out roughly 65 pelts if I counted the number of calls in his e-mail correctly.

John K4BAI was late, as he was delayed in getting home from a court case that he was presiding over. He never got started until about the half way mark of the Hunt. Still he reported handing out 48 pelts in 45 minutes (including me).

That's what separates me from these guys. John was able to hand out the same number of pelts that I handed out last week in half the time! That's the difference between these "World Class" Hams and me "Joe meat & potato" Ham. I doubt I'll submit an application for the 2024-2025 Season. These guys have it and I don't - and as Sgt. Joe Friday would say, "That's just the facts, Ma'am!" I can see clearly now why I kept getting appointed as an alternate.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send he very least!


Thursday, February 01, 2024

Happy February!

Is it just me - or did January fly by like the proverbial bat out of Hell? It feels like Christmas was just a couple of weeks ago!

Before I bore you, a bit of Ham humor first (found on Facebook)

Secondly (the boring part) - I finished customizing Ham Clock thanks to watching K2CJB's awesome video on YouTube.


The upper left hand corner has my call sign and the local time. Next to that, the tile alternates between the sunspot number (above) and a picture of the sun (below).


To the right of that are the active POTA spots and then comes the latest DX Cluster spots. Getting the DX Cluster to work was a bit of a trial. No matter what DX Cluster I entered, it seemed I always got an error. Finally, I figured out that Ham Clock was looking for an "ON" command. As soon as I entered "SHOWDX" next to that prompt where I was getting a flashing "err", everything started humming. 

An interesting thing about the POTA tile/box - I'm not sure where the info comes for the content, but it listed a POTA activation that was NOT listed on the POTA app that I had running on the screen above the laptop. Maybe someone spotted it to the Cluster and not to the POTA app?

The final small tile in the upper right hand corner shows the current solar weather parameters. You can customize all the tiles by putting the mouse cursor in the upper left hand corner of the box and left clicking. A list of options becomes visible and if you select more than one option, the tile will sequentially display your choices. For me that's that first box where I alternate between the sunspot number and the solar image. The rest of the tiles, I chose only one option.

While I was monkeying around with this, I saw on the screen that Kuwait was on 30 Meters - 9K2NO. I figured "Why not?" and gave a call. It was a bit before I found the "UP" sweet spot, but I did get him in the log. Clicking on his call on the world map gave me his local date and time, his local temperature, and his latitude and longitude info in that bottom left hand corner "DX" box/tile/ Seeing that he had a nice 64F while I was at 34F was a bit depressing, but was neat at the same time.

It's not often you can get a Ham Radio accessory that you can describe as "fun" in and of itself. Ham Clock is an exception. It fulfills that yen for a Geochron at a fraction of the price and it's a neat and useful "toy".

And here's the best part. If I can get this up and running - ANYONE can get it up and running.

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Got the full screen now


The remote came yesterday and with only two or three button pushes, I now have Ham Clock filling up the screen without bleeding over the edges.. And now, when I exit full screen mode, all the buttons are visible that I need to click on to make changes, if I so desire. I'd like to customize a few of those tiles and I'll look into that more. I have a feeling that YouTube will end up being my best friend. (Yes! YouTube WAS my best friend and the process is way simpler than I imagined it to be!)

Please excuse the crappy camera angle. I must have been holding it in such a way that it looks like everything on the right side is going uphill. That's not the case in real life.

I forced myself to stay up to participate in the 40 Meter Fox Hunt last night. The lower Fox was Wayne N4FP, in Florida, and he was found after some dial twiddling. At the beginning of the Hunt, he was barely audible, but with time, his signal came up nicely and I was able to give him a 579 report at 0239 UTC.

The upper Fox was Tom KV2X who is located in New York. The band was long and I never heard a peep from him. I am assuming that he was probably somewhere around 7.045 MHz, which is the middle of the 40 Meter Upper woods. Let me check RBN .......... - OK, he WAS at 7.0445 MHz last night, so my guess wasn't off by much. 

In any event, he was inaudible and there was some kind of station situated there who was 20 over 9 and was handing out RSTs from Colorado. I didn't catch his call and I'm wondering if perhaps it was a POTA station. Or maybe it was some other event - was the NAQCC Monthly Sprint last night? That could have been it.

In any event, I noticed that in the log that Tom posted to the qfox e-mail reflector, that he did not work much of anyone on the East Coast, with the exception of one station in GA, VA and FL. The NorthEast was a vast wasteland, Feeling like that must be the case,  I packed it in early around 0300 UTC and went to bed. The added fact that it was only 59F down in the basement helped make that decision an easy one.

Holy Moly! I just noticed we're at the last day of January! 2024 is already speeding by, or so it feels like it!

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

For those of you who may be looking

for Jeff KE9V's blog posts. He changed his format a bit and if you clicked on the link I had provided,  you got the dreaded "404 error message". I changed the link a little bit, but he is now positioned all the way down at the bottom of the blog roll. 

His new format is a lot like John K3WWPs. Good reading there so please make sure to check it out.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, January 29, 2024

Nothing is as easy as they would have you believe

Things must be getting a bit better as I actually had enough energy to start to configure Ham Clock yesterday afternoon.


And is say "start to configure" because this is turning out to be a work in progress. None of the fault lies with Inovato however. The bundle went together quite easily and the entire process is as painless as they would have you believe.

The problem is with my choice of display hardware. I'm using an old Emerson TV that we used to have in our bedroom. It has an HDMI input, where as the smaller monitor to the right only has VGA and DVI. The little Inovato Quadro has an HDMI output, explaining the use of the gigundo TV.

The problem is the display is too big for the TV screen. There are important boxes and portions which fall over the edges. I need to adjust the display parameters of the TV, but you can only do that via the remote control and guess what we lost/misplaced a couple of years ago?

Yep, you've got it!

As it is right now, some of the boxes that I need to click on, such as the WIFI configuration utility for example, are invisible.. By the sheer dumb luck of hovering the mouse slowly over the upper right hand corner of the display, I stumbled upon the box and got that much completed. But I need to go back to do the rest of the setup.

So an executive decision had to be made. Do I buy a smaller, say 20" widescreen monitor with an HDMI input, or ..............? Looking at the price of monitors on eBay, they're going for more than I want to spend right now. Even used ones are ridiculous as the shipping costs alone in most cases hang out in the $30 dollar neighborhood and that's on tp of the monitor selling price.

I went with .............or. I looked up the model number of the TV on the back, plugged that into eBay with the added word "remote" and came upon a new remote controller for about $8 and free shipping. Once I get that, which should arrive either tomorrow or Wednesday, I can adjust the screen so that the entire Ham Clock display will fill the screen without bleeding over on the edges.

I have to remove that ampersand (&) after my call sign and get the DX Cluster window configured among other things. I think I'm going to like having this in the shack. It presses all my correct "cool" buttons.

A question for those of you who may have this in your shack. Do you leave the computer, (whether that be a Raspberry Pi or a microcomputer like the Quadra) run all the time, even when you're not in the shack, or do you shut down and re-boot each time you're going to play radio? I'm not sure what I want to do there.

When I finished getting everything in the shack straightened out and reconfigured, I checked into the St. Max Net on 75 Meters at 0000 UTC and when that was over, I added all the Fox Hunt QSOs from Thursday night into AG Log.

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