Thursday, May 12, 2022

Cool Morse Code video

I haven't been on much, or have been posting much lately. I won't bore you with details, but a lot has been focusing my attention away from radio. Hopefully in the next few months that will change. In the meantime - I thought this was way cool!


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

More on the upcoming FCC license fee

 From Amateur Radio Newsline:

New FCC Application Fee Will Not Apply to Amateur Radio License Upgrades

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff has clarified in response to an ARRL request that the new $35 application fee will not apply to most license modifications, including those to upgrade an amateur radio licensee's operator class and changes to club station trustees. The FCC staff explained that the new fees will apply only to applications for a new license, renewal, rule waiver, or a new vanity call sign. As previously announced, the new fees take effect on April 19, 2022.


"We are pleased that the FCC will not charge licensees the FCC application fee for license upgrade applications," said ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. "While applicants for a new license will need to pay the $35 FCC application fee, there will be no FCC charge for future upgrades and administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. Most current licensees, therefore, will not be charged the new FCC application fee until they renew their license or apply for a new vanity call sign."


ARRL previously reported that the new $35 application fee for amateur radio licenses will become effective on April 19, 2022. Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee.


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, April 02, 2022

So you fancy yourself the "Wordle" champ, eh?

To be honest with you, I'm not even sure how Wordle works. All I know is that it's some kind of word game where (I think) you have to guess the word of the day and you get a certain number of tries. All I know is that I see a ton of posts on social media about how people have done that day. Even my sister posts!

I've not tried, nor jumped into the fray, or think I ever will. At least the "conventional" game. There is a new one that I learned of today thanks to Dave Ring N1EA on the CW e-mail reflector. This version is called "Morsle".

https://morsle.fun/

Just for fun.

Morsle - the daily Morse code challenge

Welcome to the daily Morse code challenge

Brought to you by Remote Ham Radio

You have 21 tries to guess the word, which will be played aloud in Morse code.

Playback speed starts at 40 WPM, which is pretty fast, but don't worry! Every three tries, the speed decreases by 5 WPM.

Each time you play the word or submit a guess, you are deducted one try, so conserve those guesses until you are certain you have correctly guessed some letters.

You can guess at any time, even if there are some blank letters. Correct answers will be marked in green, but there are no other hints.

I got today's word on the second try at 40 WPM - so I guess I can still copy well enough. Good job on whomever came up with this! I look forward to rising to the challenge each day. In addition to the "main game", there's a practice session and you can change between regular words and call signs.

I'd like to see the "Wordle" champs take this one on!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Friday, March 25, 2022

The bee in the bonnet of some American Hams

 The particulars - according to the ARRL:

New Amateur Radio License Applications Fee To Become Effective April 19, 2022

03/24/2022

A Public Notice released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 23, 2022, in MD Docket No. 20-270, announced that new application fees for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau applications will become effective on April 19, 2022. The new fees, mandated by Congress, apply to applications for Amateur Radio licenses including those associated with filing Form 605, the Amateur Operator/Primary Station Licensee Application.

Effective April 19, 2022, a $35 fee will apply to applications for a new Amateur Radio license, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call signs.

Anticipating the implementation of the fee in 2022, the ARRL Board of Directors, at its July 2021 meeting, approved the "ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program." Under the program, ARRL will cover a one-time $35 application fee for license candidates younger than 18 years old for tests administered under the auspices of the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC). Qualified candidates also would pay a reduced exam session fee of $5 to the ARRL VEC. ARRL is finalizing details for administering the program.

ARRL had filed comments in opposition to imposing a fee on Amateur Radio license applications. The FCC initially proposed a higher, $50 fee. In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, 2020, the amount was reduced -- the FCC agreeing with ARRL and other commenters that its proposed $50 fee for certain amateur radio applications was "too high to account for the minimal staff involvement in these applications."

ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, explained that all fees are per application. "There will be no fee for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. The fees will be the responsibility of the applicant regardless of filing method and must be paid within 10 calendar days of FCC's receipt of the application. For applications filed by a VEC, the period does not begin until the application is received by the Commission, a ULS file number assigned, and an email sent by the FCC directly to the applicant."

VECs and Volunteer Examiner (VE) teams will not collect the $35 fee at license exam sessions. New and upgrade candidates at an exam session will continue to pay the $15 exam session fee to the ARRL VE team as usual, and pay the new, $35 application fee directly to the FCC by using the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES - Login).

When the FCC receives the examination information from the VEC, it will email a link with payment instructions to each successful candidate who then will have 10 calendar days from the date of the email to pay. After the fee is paid and the FCC has processed an application, examinees will receive a second email from the FCC with a link to their official license or explanation of other action. The link will be good for 30 days.

Somma also explained that applications that are processed and dismissed will not be entitled to a refund. This includes vanity call sign requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign. "The FCC staff has suggested that applicants for vanity call signs should first ensure the call signs requested are available and eligible for their operator class and area, and then request as many call signs as the form allows to maximize their chances of receiving a call sign."

Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee. Details for the ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program will be similarly posted there, when available.


Just like anyone else, I don't enjoy paying what is in essence, just another tax - but it is what it is.  This was mandated by Congress, not the FCC, so there's no use being mad at them.

I'm happy to see that the ARRL is going out of their way to help young Hams under the age of 18. Not only covering the $35 fee; but also reducing the cost of the test. It's a good thing to remove roadblocks preventing younger blood from joining the ranks.

As far as older Hams living on a fixed budget are concerned - this is a great incentive for local clubs to develop a program to help defray the cost of the fee for those who TRULY need it. But if you can afford a K4 with all the bells and whistles, an extra $35 to the FCC isn't going to hurt that much, is it?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


 

Friday, March 04, 2022

The purpose of Amateur Radio

 at least, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission for Radio Amateurs in the United States:

Part 97.1  - Basis and Purpose

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: 

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. 

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art. 

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art. 

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts. 

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Special emphasis on the last one. Be an ambassador for goodwill!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Not trying to be political or controversial

 Not trying to get involved in the middle of anything. It just goes to show that there ARE times when "old fashioned" analog radio is the ultimate backup "when all else fails".

When the ARRL introduced their "When All Else Fails" placard and bumper sticker a few years ago - it resulted in chuckles in some places.

"Radio - who needs it? We have cell phones and the internet now!"

"Radio is old fashioned and obsolete ...... Amateur Radio is still a thing?"

The BBC might not be Amateur Radio, but they have resurrected some of their shortwave service. As long as there is an ionosphere, analog radio will NEVER be obsolete!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

For the Key collectors and users out there.

 This was brought to my attention by David Ring N1EA on the CW e-mail reflector. It's a Kindle book for $2.99 by Ken Krause. It is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FH2MN3W/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Here's the description as it appears on Amazon:

"This book describes the best way to clean Vibroplex and other telegraph keys. It includes buying tips, how to clean and repair telegraph keys, and much more. This short book will teach you the best ways to clean and repair your Vibroplex key without ruining it.

Many keys get ruined by improper cleaning techniques. Don't let this happen to your key. If you plan on cleaning your Vibroplex key this book is a must read before you begin.

You will learn how to make your own cleaning solution, how to blue steel, how to make minor repairs, how to clean bases and nameplates - everything you need to know to get the job done right the first time."

It looks worthwhile to have and the fact that Dave Ring endorsed it is good enough for me ... and the price is right!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, February 18, 2022

A good one for the QRP CW Newbs

 This weekend is the ARRL DX Contest (CW).

Even in you're not a contester and even if you're not a CW Wizard, this is still a good one to dive into for several reasons:

1) It will improve your CW.

2) The exchange is simple.

3) You'll be able to work your way well toward earning QRP DXCC.

4) It's a lot of fun!

Here's the official line from the ARRL:

Contest Objective: To encourage W/VE stations to expand knowledge of DX propagation on the HF and MF bands, improve operating skills, and improve station capability by creating a competition in which DX stations may only contact W/VE stations. One contest period is CW-only and one is Phone-only.  Use only the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands.

W/VE amateurs: Work as many DX stations in as many DXCC entities as possible.

DX stations: Work as many W/VE stations in as many of the 48 contiguous states and provinces as possible.

Dates:

CW: Third full weekend in February (February 19-20, 2022).

Phone: First full weekend in March (March 5-6, 2022).

Contest Period: Begins 0000 UTC Saturday and runs through 2359 UTC Sunday.

Exchange:

W/VE stations send a signal report and their state or province. DX stations send a signal report and power as a number or abbreviation.

How simple is that?

But here's the big tip!

For those of you new to QRP CW - either your code is kinda on the slower side; or you're not a big contester - I would wait to jump into the fray until Sunday.  If you jump in right at the beginning, you're likely to get frustrated and discouraged. At the beginning of any big contest like this - it' s best to let the big guns and CW speed demons get their rocks off for a while.  From the very beginning, a lot of the CW is going to be sent so fast, that you'll think you're listening to a buzz saw.

It's way better to wait until the latter part (second half) of the contest. Those big guns will have worked just about everyone they could have and they will more than likely be willing to listen for weaker signals and slower CW in order to fill up their logs. This is your big chance!

If conditions are right, and you're new to QRP DX, you can easily work your way to a quarter, halfway or even more countries needed for QRP DXCC.

Go get 'em!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The ugly truth

 Saw this posted on Facebook and had to share:


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

ARRL announces Field Day rule changes for 2022

From the ARRL Website:

Some New Rules Going into Effect this Year for ARRL Field Day

02/09/2022

After taking a few detours over the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ARRL Field Day rules are being updated on a permanent basis starting this summer. ARRL conducted a Field Day community survey with invitations propagated far and wide, and direct emails sent to more than 15,000 individuals and ARRL-affiliated clubs. After sorting through, reviewing, and discussing the survey results, the ARRL Programs and Services Committee recommended a number of rule changes for ARRL Field Day, which will take place this year over the June 25 – 26 weekend.

Starting this year, the maximum PEP output for a transmitter used by anyone submitting a Field Day log will be 100 W. The power multiplier of 2 will remain in place, and the high-power category will be removed from the rules. Until this year, the maximum low-power limit had been 150 W for most ARRL-sponsored operating events. The power multiplier will remain at 5 for QRP participants running a maximum of 5 W or less. As previously announced, 100 W is now the low-power category limit for all ARRL and IARU HF Contests, effective January 1, 2022.

A couple of changes instituted initially as accommodations for the COVID-19 pandemic will remain. Class D (Home) stations will continue to be able to earn points for contacts with other Class D stations. The club aggregate scoring change initiated in 2020 as a temporary measure will become part of the permanent rules. In the aggregate scoring plan, the scores of individual stations are combined under the score of a single club.

Another change, involving Rule 7.3.2 Media Publicity, has been modified. Rules to date have offered 100 bonus points for attempting to obtain publicity and demonstrating same. With the ease of posting via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various other media websites, Field Day participants will now be required to obtain publicity, not just try to do so. Any combination of bona fide media hits would qualify for the bonus points. For example, posting the details of your upcoming or ongoing Field Day activity, or your Field Day results, on a club or news media site, on Facebook, or via Twitter and Instagram would meet the bonus criteria. Photos and videos are encouraged as part of media posts.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Low attendence?

 From what I've been reading on QRP-L, Freeze Your Buns Off, held this past Saturday didn't have much in the way of participation. I'm partly to blame for that as I haven't been in the mood lately to get on the radio. But is this a creeping phenomena?

The warmer weather staples, QRP To The Field, The Flight of the Bumblebees, the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt and for that matter, an October event,  The Zombie Shuffle still seem to have a decent amount of participation. But other events seem to be experiencing a decreasing amount of participation. Maybe that's just my misguided perception?

I think a big part of this is publicity and advertising. If you want a successful event, you can't announce it once and expect everyone to just "show up". There has to be way more than that. Multiple announcements (not to the point of SPAM, of course, but more than one) need to be made. And the announcements need to be made in as many outlets as possible. QRP-L is a good starter, but other QRP e-mail group reflectors. as well as social media sites need to be utilized.

Maybe that seems like too much effort on the part of the organizers. I don't know. But it seem to me, if you want an event with lots of participation, you have to get the word out early and often. You can't sit back on the laurels of past participation and assume everyone will remember for next year, ESPECIALLY when the sunspots are in the doldrums. We seem to be coming out of that now, though - maybe that will help.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, February 06, 2022

My silence

 At the beginning of 2022, two of my resolutions were to get on the air more and post here more. As John Lennon wrote, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

On January 12th, I had a little accident at work:


I cut the back of back of my third (middle) finger on my left hand, between the hand and the first knuckle. Not only did I require five stitches, I also severed the tendon.

I was cutting open a plastic bag containing rolls of bubble wrap, turned my head for half a second and sliced myself, and the rest is history. I went to a MediMerge where they stitched me up. I have some more graphic photos that I won't post here out of consideration for those with weak constitutions.

I required surgery, which was done on January 27th. The Hand Specialist reattached the ends of the tendon and put some pins in place (temporarily) to prevent me from bending the finger.


I'm currently wearing this hard plastic splint which has relegated me to the world of one-handedness. Luckily, my right hand is my dominant hand, but it's still a not deluxe situation. I see the surgeon tomorrow for a follow up visit and will find out more how long it will be before stitches and pins are removed.

Until I get somewhere back to normal, my blogging will probably be on the light side. Just wanted you to all know that I haven't disappeared or gone anywhere, I'm just not 100% right now.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Skeeter Hunt Video

 I wanted to share with you a video by Rick McGaver NK9G. He produced this regarding his effort in the 2021 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. He published it to YouTube, but granted me permission to post it here. Rick spent a lot of time on it and I think it came out very well - OK, I'll admit I'm biased with the subject material. Judge for yourselves:


Thank you, Rick for the superb video. I'm hoping we see a definite uptick of entries for 2022!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, January 01, 2022

A little activity

 I rang in the new year with just a little bit of activity.

New Year's Eve was of course, Straight Key Night and I got on the air after a little detective work. My W2WK straight key did not work at first. Tapping the key resulted in a big - nothing. I broke out the VOM and checked for continuity. One post to the key arm and I got the confirming "BEEP". The other post to the contact point and I also got the confirming "BEEP".  The only thing I could think of was that Bill may have silver coated the contact point, so I put a little NOXON polish on a Q-Tip and cleaned the actual contact points. Eureka! A functioning straight key! I worked W4NNF in Mobile, Alabama for my SKN QSO. After I finished with Rod, Marianne arrived home from work, so I QRT'ed and went upstairs.

This morning, after Mass, I came home and tried the QRP watering holes to see if there was any activity in the QRP-ARCI New Year Sprint.  I worked Rick NK9G in Wisconsin and Mark WB9HFK in Illinois. Other than those two, there was not much activity that I was able to hear. I did hear Gene N5GW in Mississippi working stations, but he was not calling CQ.

I'm hoping to work some POTA stations tomorrow.

My New Year resolutions for 2022 are very modest and very do-able (why set lofty goals that you have no chance of accomplishing?)

1) Get on the air more than 2021 - very do-able.

2) More relevant and timely posts here - again, very do-able.

3) Get the 2021 Skeeter Hunt soapbox published and the certificates printed and mailed by the end of January. Do-able.

4) Activate some New Jersey parks this year. Very do-able as I can incorporate that with other QRP events, such as QRPTTF, QRP Afield, FOBB and the Skeeter Hunt.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year!

For a lot of us 2021 was a mix - there were some good times and some you'd rather forget.

We bid some friends goodbye, but we also made some new ones.

As we turn the calendar page and ring in 2022, my wish for you is for a new year filled with hope, health, happiness and way more ups than downs!

Personally, I have a few goals for the coming year - but the ones germane to this blog are to get on the air a lot more than I did in 2021 and to write more entries this coming year. 2021 had the second least amount of posts since I started this back in 2005. That's not to say that 2022 will be filled with fluff just to eat up blogger.com space. I hope to spend more time relaying and reporting about the things we have in common - QRP, building, CW, and Amateur Radio, in general.

As the clock strikes Midnight tonight and I lift a glass with my lovely wife, Marianne, please know that I'll also be lifting that glass for all of us - hoping that 2022 will be kind to us all.

And once again, thanks for being here and sharing this journey with me.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!