Sunday, March 28, 2021

Two heads are better than one!

 A good part of the Eastern part of the US experienced some high winds this past Thursday and Friday. My weather station recorded some gusts in excess of 30 MPH on Friday. I didn't give it a second thought, but when I let Harold out yesterday morning to do his business, I saw my W3EDP antenna laying on the ground. The mast that I had holding the center run had fallen to the ground. It was attached to a chain link fence post by a bunch of cable ties and the wind proved to be too much for them. It was not a big deal to re-do. It was sunny, warm day yesterday and I out everything back in order rather quickly.

Later in the afternoon, I had my weekly Skype call with Bob W3BBO, where we discuss all kinds of things, including Amateur Radio, of course! I mentioned to him about the antenna mast falling down and my repairs. That's when he told me how he attached his mast to a fence support at his house:

Hose clamps!

I hadn't even thought about hose clamps! Two heads are better than one - thanks, Bob!

It's raining today with a threat of thunderstorms. I may have some hose clamps down in the basement, and I'll have to check if they are long enough to do the job. If not, it will mean a trip to Home Depot, which is not a big deal. Once they are in place, I won't have to worry about them breaking, like the nylon cable ties did.

Those nylon cable ties lasted all winter long - through a couple of bad storms and some pretty windy days, even windier than what we experienced on Friday. Perhaps they degraded in the UV from the sunlight. That's another variable that will be eliminated with the use of metal hose clamps. I'll have to make sure I get stainless steel ones, though - so they won't rust and I can remove them if I ever need to.

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


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Another virtual! FDIM

This time it's for Four Days in May - to be held (virtually) on Saturday, May 22nd. I'm sorry to say that  this will be my very first FDIM. My last trip to Dayton was the very last year before FDIM began. Talk about "so close and yet so far!".  Marriage and helping to raise two little kids followed closely and those duties along with work kept me from making the trips to Ohio.

But I digress.

For all the details, you can go to the QRP-ARCI Website

This year some of the topics are:

Jerry Wolczanski KI4IO - Making an Antenna Coupler

Dr. Jack Purdum W8TEE - How to Select a Microcontroller for a QRP Project

Dave Benson K1SWL - Anatomy of a Transceiver; Building a Better Mousetrap

Han Summers G0UPL - Reach for the Skies: Extreme QRP at 35,000 Feet

Dino Papas KL0S - Bench Setup Using Inexpensive Test Equipment

Tim Snodgrass KC0DN - Breaking Free of the Sunspot Cycle

Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE - sBITX - An Open Source SDR that YOU can hack!

I am so looking forward to this!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo

 is this coming weekend, March 13th and 14th.

https://www.qsotodayhamexpo.com/?fbclid=IwAR3tChz4f9f1iTS3kDgPGn_RkQSafx2woPP5ryBCUdSa_VuTPMtH2oyNCcM

This Virtual Ham Expo ....... Hamfest ...... Convention ....... whatever you want to call it is being run by Eric Guth, the founder of the now pretty well known "QSO Today" podcast.  I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Eric back in the earlier days, probably when he was less well known and was having trouble finding good people to interview. Sometimes you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

If you haven't registered, you may want to consider it. There is an "admission fee" of ten dollars, but I think it will be well worth it. There are a veritable slew of interesting speakers and presenters. Everything from SDR to building to antennas to POTA to, well .... whatever.

And manufacturers and sellers such as Begali and Quicksilver Radio and many more will be there to present the wares. all in all, I think it's an experience not to be missed.

If you're busy this coming weekend and can't make it for the live presentations, everything is to be archived for 30 days for later viewing. You'll have ample time to catch everything you wanted to see.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

So that's done!

The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt certificates for 2020 were mailed last Monday. Since then, I've already received reports that some of you have gotten yours, which is a relief. The mail can be tricky here in South Plainfield.

With that done, even though it's still cold and snowy for a lot of us, we are anxiously dreaming about Summer and warmer temps. It's time for you to start thinking about this year's Hunt!

The 2021 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be held on Sunday, August 15th. This is the 10th running of the event, and you will have two options to choose from to earn the 100 point bonus.  Note - you will be able to claim ONE bonus - not both. Although if you choose to accomplish both, I'm not about to stop you!

You can view all the details at https://www.qsl.net/w2lj/

For many, a fun part of the Hunt is in getting a low Skeeter number (Skeeter numbers do not remain the same from year to year), so number requests will be honored beginning the First Day of Summer - June 20th, 2021. PLEASE DO NOT REQUEST A NUMBER BEFORE JUNE 20th.

Lastly, a reminder that all log summaries must be submitted by an e-mail to w2lj@arrl.net. Submission e-mails will be answered with an acknowledging e-mail. If you don't get a "Thank You" e-mail from me, I didn't receive your summary - for whatever reason.

Hope to hear you on August 15th!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Thank you for your patience!

 Skeeter Hunters!

The certificates from the 2020 Hunt have been printed. I hope to get them mailed later this week, upcoming snow events notwithstanding.

Thank you for your patience!

And for the record, I'd much rather have a hot and humid Skeeter Hunt day over this stuff that we have now, hands down!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

My feelings about now

 

I went down to the shack last night to retrieve my laptop, which was sitting in its dock. I looked at the thermometer on the wall and it read 58F (14C). Needless to say, I didn't stay long.

We got another two inches of snow over night with more forecasted for the weekend and next Tuesday. Seems we are stuck in a weather pattern that I'd rather not be stuck in.  The temperatures are not supposed to go much above freezing for a while. While December and January were relatively mild and dry, February has decided to tell those two months, "Hold my  beer."

And speaking of wondering how low the temperatures can go, I wonder how low the RTTY signals will go on the bands this coming weekend? It's the CQ WW RTTY Contest this weekend and I'm willing to bet we'll hear RTTY signals all the way down to the ".25" part of all the bands.

I guess it won't matter too much to me as it's too dang cold to sit down there comfortably for any extended length of time, anyway.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

If you were hoping that Field Day would return to "normal" ...

 ARRL to Extend Field Day Rule Waivers from 2020, Add Class D and E Power Limit

02/10/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic-modified ARRL Field Day rules from 2020 will continue this June with the addition of a power limit imposed on Class D (Home Stations) and Class E (Home Stations-Emergency Power) participants. The news from the ARRL Board’s Programs and Services Committee comes as many clubs and groups are starting preparations for Field Day in earnest. Field Day 2021 will take place June 26 – 27.

“This early decision should alleviate any hesitancy that radio clubs and individual Field Day participants may have with their planning for the event,” said ARRL Contest Program Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE.

For Field Day 2021:

Class D stations may work all other Field Day stations, including other Class D stations, for points. This year, however, Class D and Class E stations will be limited to 150 W PEP output.

An aggregate club score will be published — just as it was done last year. The aggregate score will be a sum of all individual entries that attributed their score to that of a specific club.

ARRL Field Day is one of the biggest events on the amateur radio calendar. Last summer, a record 10,213 entries were received.

“With the greater flexibility afforded by the rules waivers, individuals and groups will still be able to participate in Field Day, while still staying within any public health recommendations and/or requirements,” Bourque said.

The preferred method of submitting entries after Field Day is via the web applet. The ARRL Field Day rules include instructions on how to submit entries, which must be submitted or postmarked by Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

The ARRL Field Day web page contains for complete rules and entry forms, as well as any updated information as it becomes available. Join the ARRL Field Day Facebook page.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, February 08, 2021

Meh

 I'm not about to do a K3WWP and start calling it S#*&^, but I, like John, am growing a distinct distaste for snow.  Last weekend into last Tuesday, we got 19.5 inches (50 cm) of the stuff. Yesterday, we got another 7 inches (18 cm).

And it looks like the weather people are forecasting another 5 inches of snow to come during the middle of this week and even more over the coming weekend. And the temperatures are going to plummet with an accompanying blast of Arctic air. It's "seasonably" cold outside now and my shack temperature is 58F - I can't wait to see what it's going to be later this week!

This is more snow than we've seen in this part of Central New Jersey in about 5 or 6 years. For you folks who get a ton each winter - God bless you! I don't like dealing with it - and my hat is off to you for dealing with yours.

On a side note, my son Joseph is getting tired of helping me deal with it and this is what he wants me to buy.

As appealing as the thought was to me, my answer was "NO!".

On the Ham Radio side of the coin, I did work my good friend Dave KD2FSI as he ran his Heathkit special event station yesterday. I had to hook up the KXPA100 and turn up that wattage. Even then, he could barely hear me - we just live too close to each other for the band conditions that were what they were yesterday. But he did earn his "Veteran's Ears" for pulling my 2X2 SSB signal out of the mud. Thanks, Dave!

He was using an EFHW, so I made the contact using the W3EDP. He wasn't even audible on the Butternut vertical.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, February 05, 2021

Virtual FDIM

Speakers announced by NM0S this morning. FDIM will be held on Saturday, May 22nd.

FDIM 2021 will be held Saturday, May 22, 2021.  This will be a remote, video streamed event.
We have an outstanding roster of speakers lined up, and the presentations will be among our best ever!

Jerry WolczanskiKI4IO"Making an antenna coupler"
Jack PurdumW8TEE"How to Select a Microcontroller for a QRP Project"
Dave BensonK1SWL"The Phaser: FT8 and other tricks"
Hans SummersG0UPL"Reach for the skies: extreme QRP at 35,000 ft"
Dino PappasKL0S"Bench set up with inexpensive test equipment"
Tim SnodgrassKC0DN"Breaking Free of the Sun Spot Cycle"
Ashher FarhanVU2ESE"sBITX - An open source SDR that YOU can hack"
 
Details regarding reservations and links to the streamed event are still being finalized.  They will be released as soon as they are known.
 
I hope to see you all at this event!

Thanks, Dave and all at QRP-ARCI who are making this happen!

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

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

This Saturday - FYBO!

 The 2021 QRP Outdoor Contest Season kicks off with FYBO, sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions - whom I am willing to bet will not be freezing, at all.


For all the rules, please check out http://azscqrpions.org/FYBO

The forecast for my QTH for Saturday is mostly sunny with a high temp of 39F.  Maybe some of the snow that we got (19 & 1/2 inches) Sunday through Tuesday will have melted by then. It would be nice to get a few minutes operating in - I think I might have to confine myself to operating from the Jeep in the driveway using the Buddistick on the rooftop magmount. I don't think any of the parks around here are going to be much fun to operate from. And I certainly wouldn't have the grandiose view to enjoy as pictured above!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP _ When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

I'm sure you've all seen this


This image has been all over the internet in various places for a while now. And of course, anyone who has used a soldering iron gets a good chuckle out of this.

But actually, this violates one of the prime rules of professional commercial photography (my first line of work many years ago). When you're going to photograph something in a commercial setting like this, if you yourself are not familiar with the product and/or what's going on, then you'd better as all heck have someone from the company on set. They will act as your consultant and would immediately correct errors like this.

This has to be a throw away shot, that someone thought would be funny to circulate, as I highly doubt the client would have approved and used this in any publication or advertising.

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

 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Another kit for your consideration

 I came across this one on Facebook in a post from ON6UU on the Amateur QRP Radio page. It's a kit offered by QRPHAMRADIOKITS by EA3GCY from Spain. I'm always on the hunt for some news to share with insatiable kit builders out there.


This is the EGV+ three band (40, 30, 20 Meter) CW transceiver. Here's an overview of the specs:

General:

Frequency coverage:  40 - 30 - 20m  (6 to 16MHz continuous tuning)

KB-2 Keyer built in. 

Tuning steps on two ranges: 10Hz-100Hz-1kHz and 10kHz-100kHz-1MHz.

Mode: CW

RIT function: without frequency limit

Power requirements: 12–14VDC  1-2A transmit, 0.14 – 0.25A receive.

Antenna impedance: 50 ohms.

Controls: Tuning-pushbutton. Band adjust. Volume. RF attenuator.

Board dimensions: 180 x 140 mm.

Weight: (no enclosure) 0.3 kg.

TRANSMITTER:

Emissión: CW.

RF output: 8W - 5W  40 to 20m.

Output TX Amp:  AB class amplifier. High Quality output Spectrum.

Harmonics output: -45dBc or better below the fundamental frequency.

Other spurious signals: -50dBc or better below the fundamental frequency. 

RECEIVER:

Type: Superheterodyne. Balanced mixer.

Sensitivity: 0.2uV minimum discernible signal.

Selectivity: crystal ladder filter, 800Hz nominal bandwidth.

IF frequency: 4.915MHz.

AGC: on the receive path according to the received audio.

Audio output: 250mW, 4-8 ohms.

The price is 120 Euros, which translates to about $146.00 here in the States. Shipping is extra of course. It appears to be a "thru-hole" kit without any user end surface mount devices involved. I may be wrong, but I'm willing to bet that small SMD circuit board behind the LCD display probably comes pre-assembled (but don't quote me on that!) Here are a few more photos:



Looks interesting to me. Maybe not as fully featured as the QCX kits, but roughly the same price as if you were to buy three of them - one for each band.

The manual is downloadable off the website and orders can be placed right from there, also. If I had a spare $150 kicking around, I'd be seriously attempted to purchase one.

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



Monday, January 18, 2021

Well ...... duh......Captain Obvious!

 This came down from the FCC - over the weekend - which is kind of unusual in itself.

Amateur & Personal Radio Users Reminded Not to Use Radios in Crimes

Full Title: Warning: Amateur and Personal Radio Services Licensees and Operators May Not Use Radio Equipment to Commit or Facilitate Criminal Acts

Document Type(s): Public Notice

Bureau(s): Enforcement

Description:

The FCC Enforcement Bureau issued today an advisory to remind licensees and operators in the Amateur and Personal Radio Services that they may not use radio equipment to commit or facilitate crimes.


DA/FCC #: DA-21-73

I understand that this came out as a result of the events which took place at the Capital last week. And I have read that various media sources had reported that "Ham radio" was used to coordinate the events that took place. While I fully agree with the statement from the FCC, I have several concerns.

1) I doubt the media even knows what "Ham Radio" is. They see a person using a radio and it's a toss up as to whether it's going to be reported as "Ham radio", "CB" or whatever else they can think of. Remember the old Olympus camera commercial? "I can't tell an f-stop from a bus stop!"

2) I know we have our share of whack jobs, as the Amateur Radio community is a microcosm of society at large, and I have to accept there may be members of our community using our resources for illegal activities, but something about this doesn't pass the smell test with me.

3) Don't assume that just because radios such as the Baofengs may have been used, that these were Hams. We all know the problems and headaches that the proliferation of these handhelds have caused by unlicensed users intruding on our frequencies. And you can buy these thing from Amazon, for crying out loud.

Look, I'm just Joe Ham in the peanut seats, but I think this would have been better worded and would have had more impact if the FCC had penned something like:

"The use of the Amateur Radio Service or any of the other personal radio services to facilitate a crime is a federal offense and will be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law."

In my humble opinion, this not only reminds persons already using these services but is also fair warning to outsiders that "pirating" our frequencies is not a matter to be taken lightly.

I'm probably wrong, but to me it just feels like we're having the finger pointed at us. And unless it can be proven that Amateur Radio ops were indeed a driving force behind those unfortunate events, it's a finger pointing that is unwarranted.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Another good friend becomes an SK

 Drew Moore W2OU, who I have known for close to 30 years became a Silent Key this morning.

I first met Drew when I became a member of the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club back in the day. He was always a fixture there as well as in the Electronic Testing Society of NJ (ETS of NJ) of which I am also a member.

Drew was involved in everything; and if you're an Amateur Radio operator in Central NJ, it would be hard for me to believe that you didn't cross his path, somewhere. Drew was always active in our various club activities - he was a mainstay at Field Day, both PARC and SPARC. Drew was also active in public service, ARES, RACES and CERT, both in Piscataway where he lived, as well as South Plainfield. Drew was the Emergency Coordinator for Piscataway. He was at drills, civic events and was always learning and training. Drew became involved in Auxcomm with Marv K2VHW and Tim AB2ZK and myself.

Drew's passion (besides operating) was ushering new Hams into the hobby. If there was a VE Session going on somewhere in central New Jersey, Drew was either running it or assisting at it. He had well over 300+ VE Sessions under his belt. Drew was in his element when he was mentoring some newer Ham in some area of the hobby. 

Drew's mentoring skills were the driving force that got SPARC involved in Maker Day. We've had two successful sessions at the JFK Library in Piscataway, and if it wasn't for Drew's initial input and guidance (and the hard work of a lot of SPARC members) we would not have had the success we had.  

It was also Drew along with Rich W2PQ  who got the "Dunellen Hamfest", which has been held at Piscataway High School for the last few years, on the map after it had to move out of Dunellen. If it wasn't for the two of them, one of Central NJ's more popular Hamfests would have gone by the wayside. W2OU and W2PQ made sure it didn't. 

As you can see, Drew was involved in just about every asset of our hobby - and in a good and positive way. That's how I'll always remember Drew. He was always busy doing something for someone.






Rest easy, Drew .....until we meet again,

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

FDIM 2021

As seen on the QRPARCI  groups.io e-mail reflector:

Well, I'm sure we have all heard the news that the Dayton Hamvention has been canceled for 2021.  The unavoidable consequence of this is that QRPARCI will also cancel the _physical_ FDIM convention.  

That said, the hard work of lining up speakers and topics for our convention has already been performed.  We will have a VIRTUAL FDIM, with a host of interesting and informative topics.  We will be ironing out the details of this over the next month, and updating the membership as we go.

I look forward to this event, and then gathering again in 2022.  Until then, stay healthy, optimistic, and radio-active!

72

David Cripe NM0S

President, QRPARCI

Thanks, Dave!  I will definitely be "attending" my first FDIM!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!