Monday, October 02, 2023

2023 Zombie Shuffle


As per Paul, NA5N:

QRP Zombies,

The annual QRP ZOMBIE SHUFFLE will be held this year Friday afternoon and evening, OCTOBER 27, 2023.  Pretty much the same old silliness and pointless event as always.

2023 Rules here:

As per last year, the start time has been moved up to mid-afternoon Friday to take advantage of the higher bands.  20M is often open well past sundown these days.

This is not a high speed contest.  So whether you are a seasoned QRPer or your brass pounding skills are rusty, this is the event to get on the air and make a few QSOs.  Last year we had quite a few entries from CW Academy and LICW, hams making their very first CW QSOs and their first experience with QRP.  Comments like "I had no idea I could work both coasts with only 5 watts."  So all are welcome to participate.  Just make sure you turn down the wick to 5 watts.

72, Paul NA5N

Zombie #004

This is always a fun event and always seems to get a goodly amount of participation. Kudos to Paul for his efforts!

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Busy morning!

 QRP Image(s) of the Day:

These images were posted to the "14.060 MHz" Facebook page by Fabio Binotto. This is a homebrew QRP SSB transceiver by Alexey Martyncov, U1YF. What craftsmanship! If I had one one hundredth's percent of Alexey's talent, I'd be a happy man!  These images are a sight to behold!

Anyway, its a busy morning as Marianne and I will be leaving for Alexandria Bay later this afternoon. I've a few chores (grocery shopping, get the oil changed, etc.) to accomplish before we go - so this will be short.

I AM taking the KX3 with me and I hope to activate that park later this week. Hopes are just that ... hopes - we'll see what actually happens! However, this time, I've already placed the Buddistick whips in the car along with the rest of the Buddistick components, so this won't be a repeat of Lake George, when I left them at home. So if I don't get a chance to get on the air, it won't be because I left something behind.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Friday, September 29, 2023

What's doing this weekend

 First, the QRP Image of the Day:

Courtesy of Alberto Diaz from the SOTA Facebook page - taken atop EA2/NV-009 - simply beautiful!

If you're so inclined to get on the air this weekend - here are some special events:

Elmer Special Event -  W1E will be on the air in honor of all the Elmers who have assisted and guided us through the years -

Peak to Peak Byway 105th Anniversary - N0P/K0P/W0P will be on the air to celebrate the anniversary of Colorado's Peak to Peak Byway -

1st United Methodist Church Bi-Centennial Event - KC9DJU will be on the air courtesy of the Madison County Amateur Radio Club of Anderson, IN -

I don't know why, but since my Novice days, there's always been a special niche in my heart for Special Event Stations. I've got an album full of certificates and QSLs in the shack - some are notable with really cool certificates and QSL cards and are actually framed and hanging on the shack wall, such as the 50th Anniversary of the Landing of Apollo 11, or the 500th Anniversary of Columbus's trip to the New World which was conducted by Hams who are also Knights of Columbus, or the QSLs and certificate to commemorate the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Others are small, and maybe even silly to some - Toad Suck Days (whatever that is), Hallowe'en Special Events like B0O and the like. But whatever the special event, I like to work them if I have the time and they have a CW op participating. (I'm still not much for SSB). I've been fortunate enough to participate as an operator for several Special Event Stations and as an op, I appreciate those who will get on the air to make contact and support a Special Event, so I like to return the favor whenever I can.

As far as contests go:

Full Day of Hell Sprint - A contest for those of you who like the Feld Hell mode -

Worked All Provinces of China Contest - a country I've never even had a QSO with! -

UK/EI DX Contest - SSB -

Russian WW Multimode Contest -

Antique Wireless Association AM QSO Party -

And if you're up REALLY early (or perhaps never went to sleep!) :

THE 1 WATT GAME 2023 - PART 2.

I. OBJECTIVE: A short QRPP CW game on the 20 Meter band. All radio amateurs and SWL's are cordially invited.

II. DATE: Saturday 14 October 2023 from 0900 to 1200 UTC. (That's 5:00AM to 8:00 AM EDT!)

III. BAND: 20 Meter band only. 14.060 MHz +- 10 kHz.

IV. POWER: maximum 1 watt.


1. CALL: CQ 1W


ie. 559/1w/ JO21LA. Additional info like power, RTX, antenna,... is welcome.


First calculate the distance of each QSO.

QSO points = distance divided by the power of the other station (in watts).

Power less than 1 watt is equal to 1 watt in the points calculation.

Eg. your counter station is 2000 km away and uses 5 watt. Then the point count for this QSO is: 2000/5 = 400 points.

Eg. your counter station is 3000 km away and uses 1 watt. Then the point count for this QSO is: 3000/1 = 3000 points.

Eg. your counter station is 3000 km away and uses 300 milliwatt. Then the point count for this QSO is: 3000/1 = 3000 points.

TOTAL SCORE: Sum of all QSO points.


Email your score to

Add the text: Me, (your call) , I declare that I managed a total of XXX QSOs, my total result is XXX points.

Please add your best DX (call and locator)station-info: locator, power, RTX, antenna. Pictures of your set-up are appreciated.

VIII. GAME REFEREE: Peter Kempenaers (ON6KZ/OO7Z). The Game Referee has the right to request full log in case of any doubt.

IX. LOG DEADLINE: 30 October 2023.

X: Nominees: award for the winner, the best DX, funniest location (if outdoor), original home brew, lowest power.

And there you have it - the goings on for the weekend!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Faraday Cloth

 First, the QRP Image of the Day

Courtesy of I5NOC (on Facebook) - reminded me of the Four State QRP Group Bayou Jumper, of which I have one in the basement, needing to be built. Ahhhhh .... retirement can't come quickly enough!

So the latest rage amongst POTA activators and other portable ops QRPers, who use compact verticals, is to place a piece of aluminum window screen under the antenna, instead of laying out conventional radials. You still have to run a wire from the screen to the ground connection of the antenna system, but altogether this sounds like a convenient workaround compared to laying out radials. And from some testimonials that I have read on the various QRP e-mail reflectors and from some of the QRP groups on Facebook, it seems like it gets "a thumbs up".

Back in the day when I used to use a homebrewed PAC-12 antenna, I did lay out radials, which in itself was not a big deal. The inconvenience arose when you were in a setting like a park or some other public place where people could trip over the wires. It was even worse if you elevated the radials. 

Now the latest, latest rage seems to be substituting Faraday cloth (cloth imbedded with or made from copper and nickel) for the groundplane. It seems that folding up this cloth and storing it is an easier deal than aluminum screening. The cloth is very flexible and can be folded up into a neat little size which can be stowed away in your go-kit. The aluminum window screen, on the other hand, really should be rolled up.  I don't think it would take to well to repeated folding and unfolding - metal fatigue can be a nasty thing.

When I use my Buddistick, my modus operandi has been to use the roof of my Jeep as the groundplane, planting the antenna on the metal with a magmount.  That setup has worked very, very well for me. But this Faraday cloth setup is intriguing to me. It would allow me to use the Buddistick away from the car, which might come in handy when there are no trees for a wire, or the use of trees (like in a park) is prohibited. That's when I would normally resort to the magloop.

I may have to try this. I see that on Amazon, you can purchase a piece that is 44" X 36" (112cm X  92cm) for only $23. That should be big enough to provide a decent groundplane.

And it just so happens that a great illustrative photo appeared on Facebook today. This was taken by Dan Hones KD9MSP on a recent POTA activation that he made.

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

An investment?

 First, the QRP Image of the Day

Brought to you by Anton Petkov Lz1XM (from Facebook) who certainly has the right idea! A cold 807 and QRP - perfect together, and can't get much better than this!

Bob W3BBO recently brought to my attention two items that he saw on eBay. The first was an unbuilt, in-the-box Heathkit HW-9. The auction ended on Monday and the winning bidder was given the opportunity to shell out $723 for a kit that originally sold for $249.

There is now a listing for a unbuilt HW-8 kit. It has a starting bid of $590 with a "Buy It Now" price of $995. Here's the description as it appears on eBay:

"Unbuilt, never unpacked, complete Heathkit HW-8 QRP Transceiver.  Ships in an outer carton for added protection of contents.  This HW-8 is unbuilt.  It must be built by following instructions in the included Heathkit assembly/instruction manual.  Tools are required for assembly, including a soldering station.  Assembly tools are not included."

This got me to thinking. If I had the money, which I definitely do not - would it be worth it to buy an Elecraft K2 kit and sock it away as an investment? Probably too late for me to see anything out of it, but maybe 20 or 30 years from now, one of my kids could probably walk away with a cool profit. 

It will be interesting to see how that HW-8 auction ends. It wouldn't surprise me to see it end up in the neighborhood of where the HW-9 auction ended. Not bad for a kit that only cost about $250 back in the day.     

Anyway, it's something to think about.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

POTA possibility?

 First, the QRP Image of the Day:

I found this image on Facebook, on the SOTA page. This is Rene Lutz HB9NBG sitting on top of an Alp (I guess) in Switzerland. You'll notice he's handholding a KX2 like it's an HT and he's making contacts on 40 Meters! Wow! THIS is SOTA!

I've been to Switzerland twice for business and actually was not too far from where Rene lives, which, according to QRZ, is near Basel. Basel is where Bron Elektronik is based, the makers of the studio strobes I used to repair, and factory training was my purpose for being there. I also had to visit the FOBA AG headquarters in Zurich (makers of studio stands and studio equipment) , and the SINAR AG headquarters in Allschwill (makers of large format cameras and medium format digital backs). Both times I was there, I never made it to the Alps. On my first visit which lasted two weeks, I spent the weekend in between at Luzerne and from there you could see them off in the distance. That's as close as I got. I think I have a photo sitting somewhere. I'll have to search for it, and if I do, I'll scan it and post it here one day.

My days of being able to climb peaks like that are over (indeed, if I ever HAD days like that where I could climb a mountain!) and the mountains we have in New Jersey are just glorified hills compared to the Alps, or even the Rockies, so my outdoor adventures will rely on POTA. Speaking of which ...........

Next week, Marianne and I are headed up to Alexandria Bay in upstate NY - WAY upstate NY - like Canada is right there! It's our 25th wedding anniversary and Alexandria Bay is where her family vacationed when she was younger. Her Dad and Grandfather were fishing fanatics, so her Dad would gather the family, their boat and they'd rent a cabin and spend three weeks up there every August. She wanted to see it again - so that's where we're going.

And guess what's there?

Keewaydin State Park, also known as K-2088. Will I get a chance to do an activation while I'm there? You're guess is as good as mine. First and foremost this is time to be spent with my lovely bride celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss. She will always come first. But on the chance she might want to sleep in one morning while we're there,?  I'll be packing the KX3 and the Buddistick and magmount ............just in case!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, September 25, 2023

QRP Image of the Day (A new thing!)

 Posted to Facebook by OO7Z

Nice photo!

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

Rain, rain, go away!

It was a rainy weekend, with Ophelia dropping 3.16" of rain on my QTH since late Friday evening. Although it wasn't a constant rainfall, it felt like it was because every time I had to leave the house, it was coming down. And when it rains like this, you tend to think that "Gee, this has been a real rainy year!"

That's the beauty of having a personal weather station and having a site like WeatherUnderground, where you can go to the almanac, and go back and see past days, weeks, months and years.

This year, until now, we've received 35.67 inches of rain. September has been the rainiest, with 7.66 inches of rain so far, with about 5 days to go.  January, July and August each had over 5 inches of rain.  May was our driest month with only 1/2 inch of rain for the entire month.

How does 2023 stack up against previous years?

2022 had a total of 51.51 inches of rain with 36.28 inches of that falling through September/

2021 had a total of 56.72 inches of rain with 46.74 inches of that falling through September. That month saw 12.24 inches of rain alone, with some 9+ inches of that coming from Hurricane Ida alone. If we discount that anomaly - then only about 37.74 inches of rain fell through September.

When I look at the numbers, 2023 hasn't been really much more rainy than the past couple of years. I guess it just seems that way when you get several days of rain in a row.

I have an Ambient 2902 weather station

Marianne gifted me with this for Christmas a few years ago. I picked it out, so she would know which one to order. I remember at the time several folks warning me not to get anything except an RF Davis or a Peet Brothers unit or I'd be sorry. As it turns out, I'm not sorry. The Ambient has been working great for about 4 or 5 years now, It's survived a few hurricanes and many Nor'Easters and whatever snow and ice that New Jersey winters have thrown at it. As a registered SkyWarn weather spotter, it's nice to be able to report exact measurements of rainfall and wind velocities and not approximations.

YMMV, bit I'd be leery of anyone who complains that Ambient weather stations are junk. BTW, the Ambient app is great and works well.  If you go to the very bottom of the blog, you'll see a window that summarizes some of what's available on the app.

Being forced to stay indoors had its advantages. Yesterday, I was able to print out the Skeeter Hunt certificates for the Top 5 finishers for 2021, 2022, and 2023. Those will go in the mail this week. I know - I'm WAY behind, but I'm getting there, slowly. The last of the .pdf certificates for 2023 were finished and e-mailed last week.  Next will come the .pdf certificates for 2021 and the 2022. Once I get those out, I will commence working on three years worth of soapbox comments to be published to the website. 

Whew! But I do have to admit, I love it! I'm just sorry and apologize for getting so far behind.

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

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Today was good HF day

Amid all the usual busy-ness of a typical Saturday. I made time to get to the shack and turn on the radio. Maybe I have tropical storm Ophelia to thank for this as her visit eliminated the possibility of getting any yard work done!

I got on 30 Meters around 11:00 local time and at 15:32 UTC, while dial twiddling on 30 Meters, I happened to come upon a QSO in progress. One of the participants was NJ2BB, the Battleship New Jersey, which is about an hour's drive south of me, in Camden, NJ.

It was an interesting conversation between the op on the battleship and a Navy veteran in Ohio who served on the Forrestal and the Wasp in the 50's. Anyway, when the QSO was over, I tail-ended the "73s" and threw my call in. Sure enough, I got an answer back! The op on the New Jersey was Tom and we had a brief exchange, and when he heard my QTH, I received an invitation to come down to Camden some Saturday morning to sit behind the key!

Back in 2012, Marianne and I brought Joseph and Cara down to Camden to visit the Aquarium. We spent quite some time there and after we took a stroll over to the New Jersey. We didn't board her, but I remember being impressed with her size. I certainly would love to go and operate from the radio room some Saturday morning. I'll have to do some research on how to go about that.

If I remember correctly from a documentary on the History Channel, the New Jersey is the most decorated battle ship in the history of the United States Navy. As I recall, she served in WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Viet Nam conflict and finally, in the Gulf War. It would be an honor to board a ship with such rich history and which served so proudly.

I also worked five POTA stations on 40 and 20 Meters. 40 Meters was in excellent shape with low noise and loud signals. 20 Meters was noisier, and the signals seemed to be lower, but I was still able to make contacts.

It was so good to be behind the key again!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Interesting discussion

on the Elecraft group on the Alex Loop antenna. An op was thinking of purchasing one, saw a review in the most recent issue of QST (which I haven't read) and wanted a consensus of thoughts and opinions.

The comments were all about the same. Magnetic loop antennas, whether they be the Alex Loop, a Chameleon Loop, a homebrewed loop, or whatever- they all have a place. Just about everyone who responded said as much. For portable ops they can be great, for those stuck in an apartment or condo with no balcony, they can be a life saver and can be the difference between getting on the air; or giving up the hobby altogether. I know a couple Hams living in Senior Housing where magloops are all they have.

When I activated Cheesequake State Park as part of the Atlantic Heritage Trail and Morristown National Historical Park for NPOTA, I used my homebrewed magloop with a pleasing amount of success. But using a loop can be frustrating. Take for instance when I was at Lake George this past July and I used the Alex Loop exclusively that week - I was blown away by how easy it was to work into Europe and get really nice signal reports. At the same time, I'd try answering a CQ from a Stateside station who was 20 over 9 and he'd continue to call CQ right over me. As good as magloops can be, I'd hate to be stuck with one as my only antenna for a QRP Sprint. I guess I have a case of antenna prejudice.

To that end, when I go out portable opping (new word, just made it up!) my preferred antenna is an end fed wire, either the PAR, my homebrewed EARCHI, or if there is enough space, the MFJ-1982LP. When I activated Saratoga National Historical Park for NPOTA, I ran the PAR from the picnic table where I had situated myself over to my Jeep, where I had the Jackite propped up with a drive on mount. It worked great, but again, space is needed to stretch out that kind of arrangement. When space is an issue, or there are no trees, or using trees are an "iffy" subject, then my next resort would be my Buddistick on the magmount on top of the car. I've used that combo with so much success that I'm confident in its ability.

No space, no trees, can't bring the car near where I want to operate from? I'll resort to the magloop. And I don't mean that to sound as dire as a choice as it may sound. It works, it's easy to set up, but it's just my personal preference for wires or verticals first.

A new trend that I have been reading about is using a vertical (whether that be a Buddistick, or a Wolf River coil vertical) on top a piece of aluminum window screen material laid on the ground. That seems to eliminate the need for conventional radials, so it would seem. I'll have to go to Home Depot, but a small roll and give it a try. I'm cynical enough to wonder if the enthusiastic reports I've read are just that - over enthusiastic reports. The proof is in the pudding. I'll have to give it a shot.

As always, my opinions are just that - my opinions. YMMV, and probably will.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Dead bands?

I saw on various e-mail reflectors (and FB) that we were on the receiving end of a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and that the bands were dead. Last evening as our side of the globe began to face away from the Sun, the bands seemed to be starting to come back to life. 

I was in the shack working on Skeeter Hunt certificates, and when I finished for the evening, I turned on the KX3 and twiddled the dial, looking for POTA stations to work. Signals on 20 Meters were way down. I found a couple activations thanks to the POTA spotting page, but I could barely hear them. 40 Meters was much better and I worked two, including Dave AB9CA - 2nd Place winner in this year's Skeeter Hunt.

Speaking of the Hunt, I received an e-mail from Kevin N2TO, another Skeeter. Kevin was announcing a new-to-me Sprint that his club, the Brooklyn QRP Club will be holding the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It may have been held before, but I think it's a new one.

Brooklyn QRP Doghouse Operation Sprint 2023

Here is a sprint you can work and stay out of the doghouse on the Saturday afternoon prior to Thanksgiving. Play radio, and have plenty of time to mow the lawn, shovel snow, clean the guest room; do whatever it takes to get ready for Thanksgiving.

 Date: Saturday, November 18, 2023

Time: 1700-2100 UTC

Suggested QRP Frequencies: 7.030, 14.060, 21.060, 28.060 MHz.

Exchange: RST, home telephone area code, first name

72 Kevin N2TO

Their webpage is here:, and they also have a blog, which I will be adding to the blogroll on the side:

I like this idea, because after the Leaf Peeper Sprint (of which I haven't heard anything this year) and the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint - which WILL be taking place this year, there really are not many events of this type as we head into Fall.

Yes, there's always the Zombie Shuffle, which is popular as all get out, and there are the monthly Spartan Sprints and NAQCC Sprints - but "special" QRP Sprints like these are always welcome to see. I hope word gets out about this and that there's lots of participation. I'll be talking this one up from time to time, because there are too many QRP events that are starting to fall by the wayside, and publicity is one of the keys to a successful event. The QSOs aren't going to make themselves and they definitely won't get made if there's no one there to make them!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Autumnal Equinox

Is this coming Saturday for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the Equator, Winter is over and Spring is on the way. Hooray for you!

Unfortunately for me, I don't tolerate the loss of light and the colder temperatures all that well. The bright spot is, though, that band conditions on 80 and 160 Meters will be better in the evenings. I'm also heavily contemplating re-joining the QRP Fox Hunts this Winter Season.

This hormone blockers that I'm still on (last shot comes this December) for prevention of a recurrence of the prostate cancer that I had last year still fatigues me quite a bit. Until just recently, it was not uncommon for me to hit the hay by around 8:00 or 8:30 PM. But I've been working my "staying up later muscles" by checking into K2VHW's Middlesex County Chat Group Net which lasts until about 10:00 PM each evening, so I feel like I might be ready to attempt staying up until 10:30 PM for the Fox Hunts. Of course, if I work the Foxes right off, I can hit the sack earlier, but I'm not stupid enough to think I'll crack the pileups towards the beginning of the Hunts. That's not just the W2LJ way.

Some of you have commented on the uptick in blog posts. Yeah - that's a result of feeling better and easing myself back into my older routine. I actually WANT to get on the radio more. For a while there all I wanted to do was not much of anything. Unfortunately, the stuff that needs to get done around the house hasn't subsided any, and that always comes first - but the stronger I get and more normal that I feel, the more time there is for extra-curricular activities, so to speak.

As a side note, this November 3rd marks the day that I can officially retire, according to the Social Security Administration. That's not going to happen, although I wish it could. The current plan (God always seems to laugh when I make plans!) is to work another year and a half until I'm 68. Then I think I'll be at the point where I just can't take this daily grind stuff anymore and I'll either retire or go crazy.

Knock on wood, I'm at the point, radio-equipment-wise, where I want to be. I'm set up well enough for both home and portable operations. I'm good with my "permanent" antenna setup, barring any hurricanes or other natural disasters. Portable antennas - I have more than enough - maybe too many to choose from. All I need is time to enjoy it all.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Speaking of Caveat Emptor ...

 I need to heed my own advice!

I finally got the chance to open and install that KX3 SideKX set that I purchased on eBay. I think I mentioned they were being sold by an SK's daughter, dispersing her father's Amateur Radio gear.

I opened the package and the cover looked to be in mint condition. I'm pretty certain that if it was used, the original op's KX3 never really traveled much of anywhere.

The side panels that were included were the original "earless" KX3 side panels! The SideKX panels must still be on the radio.

Oh, well ....I'm sure that to the op's daughter it was a matter of apples and oranges. Like the old Olympus camera commercial from the 80's, "She couldn't tell an f-stop from a bus stop!"

The cover slides on easily and it WAS only purchased for dust protection, so no harm, no foul .....and I did end up saving $4 from the price of a brandy-new one.

Caveat emptor, W2LJ ..... caveat emptor!

Cleaned up and now covered!

So here's a tip from W2LJ ...if you're buying the SideKX cover for dust protection only, and your radio will never leave the shack really need only the cover, which you can purchase by itself.

On a different subject, I took a bit of a break from the long list of chores on Saturday to give some points out for QRP Afield. Where was everyone? It was about the middle of contest time and all I heard were a few POTA stations. Not a single QRP Afielder was heard at my QTH.

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Caveat Emptor!

 Some guy on Facebook was complaining about the quality of this.

First quick glance, you'd think it was a QRPGuys product, eh?

1) The gent who made the post complained that he ordered a kit, but received it fully assembled. QRPGuys does not sell them fully assembled. He claims he knew this was a knock-off.

2) "No Tune Eed Half Wave" ? Seriously?  You know it's bad enough that you're selling counterfeit products, you've ripped off a design - you can't, at the very least, get the spelling right? And you can't sell them without taking the QRPGuys name off of them?

In this case, if you're the purchaser, you should have done a little more research, you got what you paid for - no refunds, no complaining.

All that said, I've purchased my fair share of Chinese manufactured Amateur Radio equipment. I knew what I was buying and didn't expect the sun, moon and stars. And I certainly wasn't buying anything with a counterfeit Kenwood, Yaesu or Icom label on it. There's a difference between knowingly buying something and being fooled into buying something.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Yes ...... yes it does!

Make sure to read Dan KB6NU's blog post -

He touches on a subject that always strikes a chord with me; and is one of the reasons I really hate "Ham Crams". Yes, I know the goal is to get people licensed - but at what cost? I have assisted at several Ham Crams and the results from the exams have ranged from mediocre to horrible.

When K2VHW and I have taught what I consider to be "traditional" licensing classes, they consisted of 8 weekly sessions. One weeknight for 8 weeks, for 2-3 hours per session - with review and exam at the last session. Our passing rate has never dipped below 85% - and I personally know that many of the participants that we have guided through the theory have gone on to become active Amateur Radio operators,

Again, I'm a dinosaur, but my feeling is that if you're not willing to put in the time to learn this stuff the right way - then why even bother? It ends up being a waste of your time and my time. Maybe my grandfather had a saying that put it best (he grew up on a farm) - 'Never try to teach a pig to sing. it will frustrate you and annoy the pig."

My apologies - I think I've been doing a little too much ranting these past few weeks.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you car to send the very least!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Some Friday miscellania

 First - an attempt at humor (saw this on Facebook):

This made me laugh out loud and reminds me of home, because whenever I try to explain something regarding Amateur Radio that I'm excited about to Marianne or Joseph or Cara, I see that glazed, deer-in-the headlights kind of look forming in their eyes  Hi!

A while ago, I requested re-made license plates from the State of New Jersey. From before I was born we had black letters on a kind of pale buttery cream-ish color background. That changed for the Bicentennial, when the state went to a "Blue and Buff" plate based on the colors that General Washington wore during The Revolutionary War.  

When the original style was brought back in the 80s, with a more pronounced yellowish color, they were still using sheet metal and were stamped.. They were supposed to have some special kind of reflective coating on them that would make them easier to see by law enforcement agencies, especially at night.

The coating did not hold up well. The manufacturer probably didn't account for harsh New Jersey winters and the amount of road salt that gets put down each year. The coating started to peel and the colors underneath became discolored and pretty ugly. At this point, my plates became really shoddy looking, but I have seen others in much worse shape, some down to bare metal. The State has a program where you can get your plates replaced free of charge ....... IF you have "normal standard issue" plates. Vanity plates, "special" plates and Amateur Radio plate holders have to pay a fee. So what else is new? And get this, when you apply for re-made plates, you have to supply a picture of the old ones. I guess they have to be deemed "worthy" of remaking.

These are the new plates which are flat plastic, I think. They are either screened or printed and then coated with whatever it is that they coat license plates with. You can't see it easily here, but they also have one of those hologram things on them that you can better see if you look at them from a certain angle. I guess that's supposed to deter counterfeiting. If you look real closely between the "2" and the "L" in the photo you can get a hint of it.  Please notice that the new Amateur Radio license plates actually now say "Amateur Radio" at the bottom. Wow - who wudda thunk to put that there?!? 

Don't say anything to anybody, but my old plates are now tacked to the shack wall. Shhhhhhhhhhh! You're supposed to hand them in for disposal ...... but I paid for them, so that makes them mine, in my book. I seriously doubt that if ever any thief breaks into my house, that they'll be looking to escape with old license plates.  (I still have the N2ELW ones too! Double Shhhhhhhhhhhh!)

I also got rid of those ugly excuse-for-an-advertisement dealer license plate frames, and bought the ones the ARRL sells. I popped for a set of these when I purchased my Field Day shirt, and I'm glad I did. These are not flimsy, cheap plastic - these are made from a sturdy metallic something and are really substantial, and they look good, too.

The weekend is looking fantastic, weather-wise. I'll finally get a chance to drop those old SLA batteries at the scrap metal place. Maybe I'll actually be able to get on the air at some point this weekend, as the NJ QSO Party is tomorrow. I like to participate because the event is sponsored by my good friends down at the Burlington County Radio Club, and they are faithful supporters of the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.

Not that it's been mentioned much of anywhere, but the NEQRP's QRP-Afield which is always held on the third Saturday in September, is also tomorrow. You can find all the details here - I haven't seen any chatter at all about this on the e-mail reflectors except for one, on the Colorado QRP Club reflector. That's a shame. If events like this are going to get any decent amount of participation, the sponsor really needs to "talk it up" and keep it at eye level. I know not everyone will take notice, but if you don't publicize - no one will take notice. Then, before you know it, you have an event that's become something of the past.

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