Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Summer is almost here!

Sign ups for the 2019 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt are almost here!



That's right - this Friday is the First Day of Summer 2019 - and you know what that means!

Applications will be accepted for Skeeter Numbers for the 2019 Skeeter Hunt.

For those not familiar, this event has become one of the Summertime QRP operating staples. It is a four hour QRP Sprint that will be held on Sunday, August 18th. The idea is to get you and your equipment to the Great Outdoors for some QRP fun. A Skeeter Number is not a requirement, but it adds to the fun, so why not get one for yourself, or your group if you want to get out and operate with a bunch of friends?

All the details can be found on the Official NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Webpage.

To apply for a Skeeter Hunt Number - send an e-mail, BEGINNING ON FRIDAY, the First Day of Summer, to w2lj@arrl.net and you'll get an e-mail reply with your number. If you don't get an acknowledgement, then I didn't get your e-mail - so try again!

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

Skeeter #13 (in perpetuity

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sometimes you run across things that surprise you.

Every day, I have one guilty pleasure.  I get on the Web and I go to two different sites where I can read the comics. There, I said it. 62 years old and I love to read the funny pages. Some new ones are my favorites, like Zits, Pluggers, Sally Forth, Bliss, and Andertoons join my old favorites like Beetle Bailey, Blondie, BC, the Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Mutt and Jeff, Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft - and of course Peanuts and Family Circus.

Anyway, while reading the comics, advertisements always pop up.  Most of the time they seem to be for things that barely interest me, or mostly have nothing to do with me. Yesterday, however, was a different story.  One came up with the words "Ham Radio" in it. And it wasn't for any of the usual suspects such as Gigaparts, or Jameco or DX Engineering. This ad was for a company that I never heard of; and it immediately caught my eye.


My concern here, is that while they DO mention that you need to be a licensed Ham to use these products legally, the average buyer might just say "Pfffffffft" to that requirement and will start using this stuff illegally. Many might say it's just an ill-founded worry, but IMHO, I think it's a legitimate concern. As it is, with the proliferation of inexpensive HTs, I hear plenty of interlopers that are obviously not licensed on the local repeaters - another reason that I am mostly an HF kind of guy.

The other thing that surprises the heck out of me is the "Ham Radio Go Kits" page on Facebook.  Have you ever visited that site? I look at some of these Go Kits that these guys put together and I think, "Geez, you'd need a crane to move that thing!". I thought the purpose of a personal Go Kit was to be relatively light and portable, so that you can go anywhere and provide emergency communications wherever it might be needed. What's the purpose of building a Go Kit that you need a hand truck or dolly to tote around?  That might be OK for a local shelter in town, but what if it's a situation like they had in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria? If you're being tasked to some remote location, I would think you'd want to simply pack as much as you could into a backpack that you would then carry into the affected area. Elaborate and pretty is nice I guess, and may generate lots of "Oooohs and aaaahs"; but unless your setup is tactically ready and efficient, it may not end up being of much use. When I think of "Go Kit" - personally I think of portability - not necessarily a shack away from home with all the bells and whistles. And if something more elaborate is needed, at least put it in something that already has wheels built into it that can be easily pulled or pushed around.  50+ pounds in a hard Steelcase with one or two handles that needs two guys to carry it just doesn't seem to cut it, in my mind.

Field Day is coming up this weekend and the CW station, for which I am responsible, will be coming to the site contained entirely in one backpack and one plastic ammo box.  Not that I would want to; but if I had to, I could comfortably walk it to the Field Day site without exhausting myself in the process of getting it there.

Sorry for the rant - maybe it's just Monday morning crankiness.

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


Sunday, June 16, 2019

W2QW Hamfest

The day dawned clear and a bit chilly. Getting up at 4:00 AM to be on site at 5:00 AM was no picnic. As the sun rose, the temperatures rose also and a big, hot cup of coffee went a long way towards warning me up AND waking me up.

The first job of the day was working with Tim AB2ZK and Craig AC2FE to park the seller's cars into appropriate spots. We had a pretty steady stream right up until the 8:00 AM start time. We almost filled the lot thanks to the spectacular weather, but not quite. One of these years, we will.

All photos courtesy of Jim Roselli N2GMA

The VE Testing session began almost as soon as the parking duties were done. We started the filling out of paperwork at 8:30 AM, so that we could begin testing at 9:00 AM, sharp. We were expecting about four, five or maybe six candidates at the most. Imagine our surprise when we ended up with nine candidates!

The team, which was the K2ETS VE Team, did a magnificent job keeping everything flowing smoothly without the slightest hitch or hiccup - except for the breeze. Halfway through the exam session, a pretty good breeze kicked in. We were using keys, HTs, anything we could find to use as paperweights to keep papers from blowing all over Creation.






In all, out of the nine, we were able to award one new Technician license, four upgrades to General and one upgrade to Extra.

Photo courtesy of Pete Fierro KD2ARB

After the exams were over, I was able to spend some time with Dave KD2FSI who bought a Hallicrafters receiver that was in EXCELLENT shape. It didn't look like it was new, out of the box, but it sure wasn't far from that condition. Then I got to spend some time in the shade with our ETS of NJ Group who had a club table at the hamfest. Before long, it was time to come home, to process the VE paperwork and get it into the mail so that the ARRL can get the new license and upgrades to the FCC as soon as possible.

Did W2LJ buy anything? Not really, besides a pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. My goal for the day was to find a 9V wall wart to use with the little o'scope kit that I'm building. There was a box of wall warts at the K2ETS table, so while I was doing the VE thing, Dave W2OIL and Dan KC2YRC went through the box and found one - and of course, typical for them, they wouldn't accept anything for it.

So, yeah, it was a great day with friends and a very productive morning to boot.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ham Humor for the Day


Would this make QRP "small potatoes"?


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

If you happen to be in the area

Central New Jersey, that is ......... this coming Saturday is one of the better (I am biased) NJ Hamfests.


I will be there to help direct vendors to their spots in the early AM, run the VE Session at 9:00 AM and to help man the K2ETS Club Table the rest of the time.

So if you're in the area, come have a good time and make sure to look for W2LJ and say "Hello".

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

QRP Day ???

July 2 or if you write the day and month digitally, as we do in the USA with the month first and then the date, it would be 07/02 or "72", or so say the Indiana QRP Fireflies.  In order to celebrate "QRP Day", they are instituting the Fireflies QRP 72 Sprint.

The details can be found here: http://ko9f.org/FF72Sprint

Let's hope and pray for better band conditions than we had yesterday for the Cookie Crumble!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Firefly # 39
QRP - When you care to sent the very least!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Cookie Crumbled

I did my best to participate in the Cookie Crumble contest today. The only thing that I can say is that the Cookie was way past crumbling, it was darn near obliterated!


This wasn't due to anything wrong done by Emily WC3R or Tim W3ATB - they did everything right. The organization and prep work they do is outstanding. The Sun and the Propagation Princess just went on holiday, is all.

Technically, the contest is still going on for another hour, but I wrapped the station up. I was set up on the backyard patio table with the Jackite supporting the PAR ENDFEDZ. I made one contact in four hours and that was with Kevin KE3V in Erie, PA on 40 Meters. It was a tough go with an RST of 339 both ways - not good at all.

20 Meters yielded nothing. I heard some SKCC WES stations on the air, but even they were very weak and were hard copy. Someone needs to find out who it is, exactly, that is supplying the Sun with acne meds. We need sunspots!

I sure hope solar weather improves a bit for FOBB and the Skeeter Hunt.

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

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

June 6, 1944 - Lest We Forget - 75th Anniversary


May we never forget the sacrifice of all the Allied Troops who fought to save the world from Nazi tyranny. May their bravery, courage, fortitude, and determination forever live in our hearts to always protect the freedom and liberty that they fought so hard to preserve. May God, our Father, bless them all, now and forever. In a very special way, we remember those who brought radio to the battle.








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

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

CERT Week

June 3rd through the 8th is National CERT Week. This actually started in my county, Middlesex County, NJ about 5 or 6 years ago. Our County OEM set aside a week to recognize the various CERT Teams throughout the county and word spread about it. Soon enough, other counties in other states started doing the same. As time passed, enough CERT Weeks were being conducted to warrant a unified, national CERT Week observation.

Last night, the Mayor and Boro Council of South Plainfield awarded the South Plainfield CERT Team with a Proclamation.


It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since I took the classes and became part of South Plainfield CERT. As a team, we've been through a lot of public service events, a couple of hurricanes, a few blizzards and there have been many, many more classes taken to further our knowledge base. A few of us have taken the Homeland Security AUXCOMM classes and have reached that rank.

If I had to do it all over again, I would, in a heartbeat. The people that I volunteer with put in a lot of their "free" time, give a tremendous effort, and are genuinely fun to work and be with. We are proud to stand behind our town's First Responders and offer them the assistance they need so that they can concentrate on more pressing matters that is their job to handle. And really, that's the purpose of CERT - not to be a First Responder, but to assist those who are, so that they don't get bogged down in the minutiae, and can do the jobs we need them to do.

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

Monday, June 03, 2019

While we're on the topic of solar weather

I discovered an article on line from Newsweek:



I guess computer models allowed these scientists to do a little forensic orbital history investigation and see how the planets aligned during past sunspot cycle highs and lows,  and that they were able to gather data supporting their hypothesis. That is, until someone comes up with a new theory, no doubt!

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

The good and the bad

This weekend was great!

My daughter graduated from High School on Saturday and will be on her way to college this Fall to study Nursing. It's wonderful to see how our baby girl Cara has grown into a competent young woman, full of promise and potential. I can't wait to watch her soar!

This weekend was not so great!

Since Saturday was so busy, that left me with only Sunday to get on the air and hunt for Museum Ships. The bands were pretty crappy and I ended up working only one, W5T the Battleship Texas. I snagged them with 5 Watts on 20 Meters. The only other ship I did hear was NS7DD, the USS Turner Joy based in Eugene, Oregon.  Even pumping up the KXPA100 to 95 Watts didn't get the job done. I just couldn't make the contact. They were 449/559 at best and the QSB was horrendous, and they eventually faded into oblivion, as the band changed for good.

There were probably a ton of ships on SSB, but since I have the Log4OM cluster set for CW only, there wasn't much in the way of MSW spots on Sunday. Oh well.

Next Sunday is the Cookie Crumble Contest. I am very much looking forward to that. The past two years, I was not able to devote my full attention to it because of other commitments. This year, I have kept my calendar open so that I can devote more time to it. Now, all I need is for the weather, both solar AND terrestrial to cooperate!

Speaking of the weather, last evening we had another bout of thunderstorms. We were under a severe thunderstorm watch until 10:00 PM, local time. The storms didn't get severe, in that there were no damaging winds or hail, but there was a lot of rain and thunder and lightning. The Acu-Rite lightning detector recorded 199 strikes within a 20 mile radius from about 8:00 to 10:00 PM, local time. As soon as that little guy made its first chirp, I was in the basement disconnecting coax. It started detecting lightning strikes way before I was even able to notice them through the windows.  I think this is going to turn out to be one of my better investments.

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Hey! I almost forgot !!!

This weekend is Museum Ships Weekend!  This is always a lot of fun to see how many you can work. And the event is sponsored by none other than the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station.


As per the ARRL Announcement

Museum Ships Weekend will take place over the June 1 – 2 weekend, sponsored by the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station NJ2BB. Radio operation will be from a variety of vintage and noteworthy vessels. This is not a competition.

So far 75 ships are on the roster to take part. All stations working at least 15 different participating ships will receive a certificate, if they send a copy of their log showing these contacts.

While operation on any amateur frequency is allowed, most ships will be operate in the General portion of the bands. PSK31 operation will be on 14.070 MHz, 10.142 MHz, 18.100 MHz, 21.070 MHz, and 28.120 MHz.

Some ships also may be found on 75 meters (3.880 – 3.885 MHz) and on 40 meters (7.290 MHz) using AM, some using the vessel’s original restored equipment.

This is what I love about Summer - there's always something going on, just about every weekend. If you follow the link above, you'll get a list of who will be on the air. Log 15 ships and $4 will get you a piece of wallpaper for your shack.


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

Another D Day Special Event


This one is being carried out by the Torbay Amateur Radio Society in England.  Here's the info that the ARRL is disseminating:

June 6 will mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord during World War II and the D-Day landings in Normandy. To commemorate those who took part, a small team from the Torbay Amateur Radio Society (TARS) in England is organizing a chain of five special event stations along the UK’s southern coastline. Each will be based in the geographical area of a beach-landing force point of departure and will use a relevant call sign.

TARS will activate a site above Brixham Harbour in Devon — a departure point for many US soldiers who later landed on Utah Beach and will use the call sign GB75UF.

Other clubs activating similar relevant locations will use these call signs: GB75OF — Omaha Beach, South Dorset Radio Society; GB75GF — Gold Beach, Southampton ARC and Soton University Wireless Society; GB75JF — Juno Beach, Itchen Valley ARC and Waterside New Forest ARC, and GB75SF — Sword Beach, Fort Purbrook ARC.

In addition, TARS hopes to have two club stations from the Normandy area of France activating sites on the beaches. Logging is being coordinated centrally, and stations who contact two or more of the stations within the chain will be able to download a suitable certificate to commemorate their achievement. Details on logging, certificates, and operating frequencies will be available on the TARS website. Contact the organizing team via email.

SSB frequencies will include 3.644, 7.144, 14.144, 18.144, 21.244, 24.944, and 28.244 MHz (data only on 10.144 MHz). Stations operating on CW or data will attempt to use similar frequencies ending in 44.

And now for something completely different.

I saw some Hams talking about this on one of the e-mail reflectors I subscribe to. It's the Acu-Rite Lightning Detector.


With the plethora of bad weather we've been getting here, I went onto eBay and picked one up for $20. It arrived yesterday and I put the batteries in, turned it on and it started detecting local lightning strikes immediately - at about 17 miles out. At that point, I wasn't even hearing thunder rumbles. Within a few minutes I WAS indeed able to see flashes and hear thunder, so it seems to work. 

A few hours later, it started chirping again and sure enough - about ten minutes or so after chirpage, another thunderstorm was upon us. I will keep this little guy going so that when I'm home and the antennas are connected, I'll get ample warning that it's time to go disconnect. Better safe than sorry!

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Scary evening

Last night was Senior Award night at the High School where our daughter Cara attends. When we got out of the ceremony at around 9:00 PM the sky was a mass of lightning. We were in the midst of a good ol' fashioned electrical storm.  It was to the point where the periods of darkness were actually farther apart than the instances of lightning. The lightning seemed to be occurring in all directions, too - East, West, North and South of us, all at once. It was like there were fireworks displays all around us and while we couldn't see the actual fireworks, we could see the flashes from the explosions. The last time I remember an electrical storm of this intensity and duration has to be more than 25 years ago.


There was no rain, no booming cracks of thunder, just low rumbles with the skies lit up all over. This little patch of Central New Jersey made out well, thanks be to God. Other parts of NJ did not. Way to the north of us, much closer to the NY border in Stanhope, NJ a possible tornado did a lot of damage to Lenape Regional High School. There was a sports award banquet going on and everyone huddled in the gym while the storm raged. Besides the structural damage, two teens were injured by falling branches on the way to their cars in the parking lot. The damage to the school roof was enough to cancel classes today.

Closer to the north of us, a strong cell that had rotating winds raced across Morris and Union counties and into NYC and Staten Island. There were reports of heavy rain, hail and damaging winds. To the south of us, way down in Salem county, there was also a strong cell with rotating winds that did damage down there.

I heard on the news this morning during my drive into work, that this may have been the first time in the recorded history of New Jersey that three possible tornadoes occurred on the same day, within hours of each other. This was the same storm system that ripped the roof off Hara Arena in Dayton the night before. The National Weather Service will be busy in New Jersey today, trying to determine if these were indeed tornadoes, or possibly macro or microbursts of wind. The Doppler Radar evidence of rotational winds seems to be leaning towards tornadoes at this time.


Of course, the antennas were unplugged that the W2LJ shack last night, and they remain unplugged. We may be in store for more thunderstorms, some possibly severe later this afternoon and this evening. Stay safe my friends! This is a good reminder for all of us Amateur Radio operators who are currently living in this Summer season - keep those antennas unplugged and off your radios whenever you're not home and while a storm is raging and you are at home.. There does not have to be a direct hit to damage your gear. Enough static in the air from nearby surrounding lightning is enough to damage your prized Ham Radio possessions. Unless you have invested into a comprehensive system for lightning abatement at your shack that you are willing to trust 100%  (like in the photo above), it's easier and less expensive to disconnect and toss the cables out the window.

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I guess

Nature did some of the demolition company's work for them.


A tornado blew the roof off the Hara Arena in Dayton last night. Taking a stroll down Memory Lane, the very first time I went to Hamvention in 1985, I remember that, after the long drive, we got to the hotel to freshen up. I put the TV on in my room and the news anchor was announcing that the local are was under a tornado watch.

Nothing came of it, but on my trips to Dayton I have seen thunder and lightning, heavy downpours, fog and even snow flurries one year. And of course, scorching sun and heat, heat, heat!

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

QRP-ARCI and contests

It would appear that QRP-ARCI is back in the contest business. After advertising for a Contest Manager, QRP-ARCI President Preston Douglas WJ2V announced last week that the position had been filled.

While there is still no dedicated calendar of events on the QRP-ARCI Webpage, an announcement did appear for the Hoot Owl shootout, which was held last evening. This really was a Sprint, in the truest sense of the word, lasting only an hour.

I desperately wanted to join in on the fun, but yard work consumed practically the entire day for me and I was asleep by the time the starting bell rang. You know ....... it's funny. In my mind I still feel like I'm in my 20s. My body, however, just can't do all the stuff it used to. What took me almost the entire day yesterday, I probably could have knocked out in 3 or 4 hours when I wore a younger man's clothes.

I guess that until QRP-ARCI re-institutes a Contest Calendar on the Webpage, the best thing to do is to keep checking for announcements or keep an eye on the WA7BNM contest calendar. Also, http://qrpcontest.com/ is a superb resource.

I did manage to set up the KX3 and the magloop Sunday afternoon at the patio table for a couple of hours. 20 Meters was filled with WPX Contest stations, and I worked a few just to make some contacts. I heard one pair of stations on 30 Meters having a rag chew. Calling CQ on both 30 and 40 Meters went for naught.

While I have, and can make some remarkable contacts with the magloop, I still feel that it is a compromise. It seems to be best suited for situations when there's nothing else that can be used or deployed. In instances where there are no trees from which to hang a wire, or if you're in an HOA situation where max stealth is of utmost importance, the magloop WILL keep you on the air. Just don't expect to make the same amount of contacts that you are used to, using something more "conventional".

Before anyone gets their hackles up that I'm bashing magloops, this is of course IMHO and YMMV.

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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend 2019


Never forget the ultimate sacrifice they made so that we could enjoy the Freedoms they fought so hard to secure and maintain.

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Humor for the day

Posted to Facebook by N0ZED


LOL!

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

So ..... go pound some brass!

Since today is the actual 175th anniversary of "What hath God wrought", it seems fitting and proper that we make some time to get on the air at some point today and pound some brass. I intend to get on tonight after dinner to attempt a rag chew ........ or something. Maybe I'll hear some DX or a special event station.

The plan for this long holiday weekend is yard work, yard work, yard work. I have a lot of digging, trimming, planting and mulching to do. I won't be able to accomplish it all this weekend, even though Saturday and Monday look like beautiful days for it. No, this is going to be a multi-weekend chore taming the landscaping at the front, side and back of the house.

Sunday is supposed to be partly cloudy with a high temperature near 90F (32C). I will take a break from the yard work on Sunday and hope it can be my "on the air" day. Maybe a visit to one of NJ's many State Parks? I've wanted to visit Hacklebarney State Park (K-1618) for a while now.  In all the posts of all the activations of NJ parks, I don't remember seeing Hacklebarney being activated. If it has, it certainly hasn't been often.


Never having visited Hacklebarney before, I would assume there is a picnic area where I could set up and operate from. I would probably bring the magloop as a backup, as sometimes park employees get touchy about putting wires up in trees.


That's the ideal plan, anyway. If "stuff happens", which always seems to when I make plans, then there's always Edison State Park or perhaps a park in town that's not part of POTA.

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