Monday, August 01, 2022

Not sure if this is even available, anymore.

 This was the paddle I used yesterday for FOBB:


It's made from a Bulldog style paper clip.  I don't remember from where I got it; or even how long ago I acquired it - has to be 10 or more years ago. I always keep it in the portable ops bag in a hard plastic container along with my American Morse "Dirt Cheap" paddle.

This little guy has an amazingly good feel and action to it. You would think that it might get all fouled up once you hit a higher sending speed of say, 25 WPM or so, but no - it remains quite comfortable to use, and it doesn't get stuck and start sending extraneous dits or dahs.. The reason I like to use it when I'm operating from the patio table is that the rim of the table is metal. The base of the paddle is a magnet and when I place it on the table rim - it stays put!

I did a quick search on Google and eBay and couldn't find anyone who seems to be selling these. I'll have to take extra special care of it so that it doesn't get lost or damaged. Who would think that something so simple would work so well?

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


Sunday, July 31, 2022

FOBB Report

I set up on the backyard patio table. The antenna was the PAR END FEDZ held aloft by my 31 foot Jackite pole.

I made 14 FOBB QSOs, 1 POTA QSO and 1 SKCC rag chew.

Most of the activity seemed to be on 20 Meters - only 2 FOBB QSOs were on 40. The POTA and SKCC QSOs were on 40 as well. I was hoping there'd be more activity on 40 as signals always seem to be louder there.

Here's who I worked:

AB9CA

N5GW

NQ9RP

N8GAS

K4BAI

WA8ZBT

AG4P

KK4ITX

N3AQC (K3WWP at the key)

NA8Q (POTA)

AK4JA

W4LSV

WO9B

WB9TWJ (SKCC)

WA1ZCQ

K9DRP

On the whole, I thought activity was on the light side. I remember years when 40 QSOs was more the norm (for me anyway). Maybe the shine is off the apple, a bit? Maybe I'm just not as good as I used to be (which was never all that hot to begin with).

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

When is it not fun anymore?

This is a personal "rant" and all my own humble and probably misguided opinion, but I'm going to commit it to print, anyway. I'm probably totally wrong, and not many will agree with me, and I'll probably get some hate mail, but so be it., and here it goes: There are some things in Amateur Radio that started out as great ideas, intended as fun, but seem to have morphed into and have taken on lives of their own.

A case in point - NPOTA in 2016. Now don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVED NPOTA and I have often stated that 100 years from now, it will still be one of the best things that ever came out of the ARRL. It was designed to be a celebration of the Centennial of the National Park System - right? Go out, get some fresh air and have some fun, enjoy being in the Great Outdoors and maybe learn a thing or two about the park or entity that you were operating from - right?

Well, soon it became how many entities can one activate in a day, or a weekend, or a week. I guess the roving thing is fun for you competitive types, but it seemed like it was missing the point to me. When I mentioned this to one Ham of Facebook, who was lamenting that he was not able to activate as many entities in one day as he had planned, I was summarily told to "go jump off a bridge".

The same thing seems to be happening to POTA, another program I dearly love. Look on social media and there are just so many posts of people griping about pileup behavior, ops calling other ops "lids" and the like. How can it be that much fun if you're getting your panties all bunched up in a wad?!? 

I look at FISTS, the SKCC and the NAQCC and sometimes it seems like the QSOs have become just a hunt for operator numbers for awards. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that, but each of these organizations were founded to provide a FUN way to promote the use of CW, QRP or in the case of the NAQCC - both.  Exchanging member numbers is fine, but that shouldn't be the end all of the QSO.  I can't tell you how many times a QSO has ended shortly after I have given away the coveted piece of info - my membership number.  Whatever happened to the art of the rag chew? I have to state for the record that some of the best rag chews I've ever had never had a membership number as part of the conversation.

I guess I'm just not the competitive type.  When I enter QRPTTF, or FOBB or even when I came up with the idea for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, I didn't and don't go out thinking that I'm going to win or even place high in the standings. I go out with the idea of enjoying the ability to get outside get some sunshine and fresh air, have fun and forgetting about the everyday worries of life for a few hours.

I know, I'm weird. Please forgive the rant.

73 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A good FOBB suggestion by Gene N5GW

Gene N5GW is always competitive and nearly always show up in the top 5 or 10 of these QRP operating events.

He posted a suggestion on QRP-L regarding FOBB this Sunday. Since he always does so well, it may serve the rest of us to take heed:

"Most of the activity should take place on 20 Meters, but I suggest checking 15M/10M on the half hour and 40 Meters on the hour to improve our chances for QSOs during spotty band openings."

Sounds like a plan, Gene - thanks for the suggestion!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 25, 2022

A winning combination!

The other evening, Bill W2AOF and Ron N2LCZ and I got together via Zoom to submit the Field Day score for NJ2SP (the deadline for entries is tomorrow, BTW).

I can't even begin to tell you how easy a chore this has become!

What makes it so easy is that we use the N3FJP AC Log Field day package. it summarizes everything we need, including the dupe sheet and the ADIF file of the log.

All we had to do was go to the ARRL Field Day score submission website, click on a few boxes where were qualified for bonus points, attach a few supporting files, hit "Submit" and we were done in a matter of minutes!

For those of you who do not have N3FJP's Field Day logging program, I very highly recommend it. It makes what used to be a rather tedious chore a snap.

Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Flight of the Bumblebees is next Sunday!

Just a gentle reminder, FOBB is next Sunday, so if you're thinking of operating portable as a Bee, the time to sign up for a number is growing short. You can check out the Bee roster and see if there's a number you would like to have by going here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1eje4xhoXNz6P47x8v9KehhCsf_NjkhfPxzw_-7eT5YU/edit#gid=1688633864

As of now, 62 Bee numbers have been assigned. With this heat wave embroiling the country, maybe folks are hesitant about going a distance from home and setting up remotely. I know that's a concern of mine.

The 10 day forecast for South Plainfield for next Sunday is for cloudy conditions with a high in the upper 80s and a chance of showers in the afternoon. If that's the case and doesn't change, I'll probably set up on the back yard patio table under the umbrella. The antenna of choice will be the PAR END FEZ, most likely. I'm sure most of the action will be on 40 and 20 Meters, although I think the KX3 will match the PAR on 15 Meters as well, even though efficiency will go way down.

If the forecast changes with the chances for precipitation approaching zero, I may get the urge to go to Cotton Street Park, or even perhaps Washington Rock State Park. 

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Hard to believe it was 53 years ago today!

 


53 years! Where did the time go?

Buzz Aldrin is the only crew member left. The flight jacket he wore during the mission is up for auction with Sotheby's and is expected to go for more than 2 million. Wow!

I was 12 years old and was absolutely GLUED to the TV set that day. If you're old enough to remember, where were you?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

SCARC Hamfest

 I went to the Sussex County Amateur Radio Club Hamfest this morning. I was debating internally about it as the hamfest is about an hour drive from home, and after driving back from Lake George yesterday, I really didn't feel like being in the car today.

I haven't been to any hamfests this year and this is the biggest one in the northern half of the state, so I gave in and went. About the only thing I was in the market for was a second VOM. I reasoned you can usually find dozens of vendors selling them, so the chances were good that I would come home with one.

I reasoned wrong. I was only able to find one seller with VOMs on his table and he had two Radio Shack models for sale. I already have a Radio Shack VOM and it works well, but I find its analog to digital converter to be on the slow side. There's a delay between placing the probes and the reading showing up on the display. I didn't want another with the same spec.

I ran into some friends and familiar faces, so it wasn't a total loss. There was a new vendor in the indoor section that I had never heard of before - Three Mosquitos. They were selling EFHW antennas and end fed random length wire antennas, designed with the portable op in mind.  They seemed to have drawn a small crowd at the table when I was there. Here's a link to their website - https://www.threemosquitos.com/ I am interested in their drive on mast holder which I guess is coming soon, as there's no link to it yet.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Fiddlin' around


 My view for the week. Not hard to take, eh? The way this year has gone so far, it's good to be up here again. For a week at least, worries and concerns are at bay.

I hooked up the AlexLoop on the porch of the cabin and worked two POTA stations, K5SJC in Texas on 20 Meters and N2EIM in New Jersey on 40 Meters. N2EIM was set up on the Delaware / Raritan Canal. Bob lives in Princeton, so I have a pretty good idea on which section of the canal he situated himself. Funny thing is that if I was home, I'd probably never had heard him.

I was going to toss up the PAR in a tree by the side of the cabin. I don't know what's going on up here this year, but we are being invaded by moths. Medium sized brown ones that fly in your face and make a nuisance out of themselves. Harmful? No. A pain in the butt? Yes.

I'll probably continue to work off the porch with the loop. I heard some decent activity on both 20 and 17 Meters including stations from Israel and Lithuania.  I didn't break the pileups as I wasn't really trying. Today was just fiddlin' around, getting used to tuning the loop which take a little practice if you haven't done it in a while. But after a few minutes I was getting the hang of it, once again.

As I was adding the entries into AC Log, the program stopped responding. I never have a problem with AC Log, so I knew something was up. Of course, Windows decided to update and after all was said and done, my log would not load. The MDB file must have somehow got corrupted while Windows decided to do its thing. Fortunately, the most recent backup was today, so I was able to load it up after missing only about 2 or 3 heartbeats.

Oh, by the way, I saw an announcement by Rich Fisher KI6SN for the 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees. instead of me speaking about it, I'll just paste in Richard's e-mail with the links, here.

The Adventure Radio Society is eager to announce the 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees, a four-hour event on Sunday, July 31 - the last Sunday of the month.

This is one of the most popular QRP contests of the year.

For complete details of FOBB rules and instructions, and for how field stations can obtain a Bumblee number go to http://ARSqrp.blogspot.com

The official email link for 2022 FOBB is:

arsbumblebees@gmail.com

We thank you in advance for your support of the 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees and hope to see you there.

All ARS events are underwritten by 73 Radio Row.

73,

Richard

Richard Fisher, KI6SN

Co-founder, the Adventure Radio Society

73 Radio Row

Riverside, CA

So there you have it - go sign up for a Bee number!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very keast!

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Solar weather

Found this photo on the Interweb (my XYL jokingly calls it that). For you newbies who get confused by solar weather index numbers ..... and for some of us veterans who keep forgetting which way is which:



So take right now, for instance - as of this moment on July 6th 2022, the SFI is 155 (best), the A index is 4 (best) and the K index is 2 (OK) and the number of sunspots on the side of the sun facing us is 92. This indicates pretty good solar weather for those of us in radioland.

We seem to be on the upswing of the current sunspot cycle, so take advantage of good propagation while you can! It never lasts forever - but then again, the crummy conditions never last forever, either. They just seem to.

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


Tuesday, July 05, 2022

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Bonus for 2022

 "Show up!"

That's the theme and that's the bonus. Show up, operate and submit a log and you automatically get 100 Bonus Points.

Each year, it's become more difficult to come up with an Bonus Activity that's inclusive of both CW and SSB entrants. The "spelling thing" is OK, but I don't want to get into a rut with that. The very first Bonus Activity was to homebrew a key - but since we added SSB as a mode, that would not be fair to those entrants.

So this year, it's just "show up". I'll try and come up with something novel for 2023.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 04, 2022

Happy Independence Day!


 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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

Sunday, July 03, 2022

I make fix!

There was time today to head down to the basement shack and put the MFJ-1982LP antenna on the bench. This is the antenna that failed for me during Field Day - in the middle of the night (strains of Billy Joel in the background.) How does an end fed antenna go bad? I guess there are a number of ways so I had to eliminate them.

1) The wire itself was not damaged, kinked, cut or otherwise disturbed along its entire length.

2) Opening the UNUN box the toroid looked fine. No cracks, no breaks, again ..... no mars.

3) The toroid windings were of a stout gauge of enamel coated wire - no breaks or other visible defects.

That left two things - either the two capacitors in there shorted out, or one of the factory performed solder joints was dicey.

My gut went with the solder joints. Nothing was to the point of being loose or hanging free, but it looked like whomever soldered the joints thought that solder was going for about $200 a pound. The solderer could have been way more generous with the stuff.

I heated up the ol' Weller, added more solder to ALL the joints and headed out to Cotton Street Park, my home for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.

The first thing I did after setting up was to bypass the ATU in the KX3. A brief hit of the tune button showed about a 1.2:1 match on 20 Meters. No more infinite SWR readings!

As long as I had everything set up, I decided to work a few stations. First up was AC6ZM on 14.044 MHz. He was at POTA K-7605. I haven't looked up where that is, I'll do it later.

I know I said I wasn't going to bother with the 13 Colonies Special Event, but they provided such a target rich environment. Perfect for giving a repaired antenna a workout!

I worked TM13COL on 20 Meters, making it through the pile up with 5 Watts. Then I switched to 40 Meters and worked K2E is Delaware and K2M in Pennsylvania. I finished the test back up on 20 Meters by working K2G in Georgia. The op was Phil K3UT and he must have recognized my call as he didn't send that bit of info to anyone else he was working.

I listened for a bit on 15 Meters but didn't hear anything, so I packed up my hastily erected setup and returned home. It's a comfort to know that I have the antenna back at my disposal. However, I'm still going to set up a backup antenna next year at Field Day - bitten once, twice shy.

As far as 13 Colonies goes, that was enough for me. I'll let the newer stations or those who have never gotten a clean sweep have a go at it.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 02, 2022

QRP Summer Homebrew Sprint

 As seen on the Flying Pigs ARCI e-mail reflector:

The 2022 Summer Homebrew Sprint is just around the corner! 

2000Z to 2300Z July 10th

Bonus points for homebrew equipment, and portable battery powered operations. 

All the details can be found here:

https://www.qrparci.org/contest/summer-homebrew-sprint-2020

Entries must be posted on or before July 29th online at www.qrpcontest.com 

73,

Paul K4FB

Maybe I can jump on the air a bit from Lake George,

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 01, 2022

Turned out I was right, after all!

 Wow! I guessed something right for a change!

I went down to the shack at just a little after 9:00 PM and fired up the KX3.  I tuned around in the vicinity of 14.060 MHz and found John K4BAI pretty quickly. He was about a 569 or so on the W3EDP. To see if it would make any difference, I switched over to the Butternut.

Again ........ WOW!

John was a solid 599. I put out my call and made contact on my second try. I not only got a 589 report, but since I haven't partaken of the Fox Hunts in a while, I also got a "W2LJ FB".

I may have to do this more often! 

To be honest, there were several reasons I stopped doing the Hunts. The main reason, as I've stated before is the time. Not only do they start late for an early riser like me, but the competition (mostly with myself) to see how quickly I could work both Foxes left me so wired that I had a hard time falling asleep afterward. Silly, isn't it? But I guess that's my OCD kicking in.

So from here on out, I'm going to take the "take it easy" approach if and when I participate. No putting pressure on myself. I bag a pelt or two ..... fine. I don't ....... that's fine, too. It's much more enjoyable and satisfying this way.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!