Monday, October 22, 2018

Mixed bag weekend

It was a mixed bag weekend, radio-wise.

I got a late start with the Zombie Shuffle. Due to not getting home from work until 6:00 PM and then dinner, I did not get started until a bit after 7:00 PM.  As the official start time was 4:00 PM local, I missed the first three hours and probably most of the activity.

I ended up working only three stations - AB9CA, NK9G on 40 Meters and N9AW on 80 Meters. I could tell there were some stations on 20 Meters, but they were at ESP level. I knew they were there and that was about it.

While talking with Bob W3BBO on Saturday evening, he informed me that he worked ten Zombie stations. He was wrapping up his operating at just about the same time I was beginning - so that right there tells me I pretty much missed the Zombie boat this year.

On Saturday, we set up at a local park in South Plainfield for JOTA - Jamboree on the Air, the annual Boy Scouts of America QSO Party, if you will. We had success working stations, but alas, no local Scout Troops came by to participate.

I think part of that was the weather - it was heavily overcast, at times misty, breezy and quite chilly for most of the time. I think the other part was that we could have done a better job publicizing that we were out there. I think for the next JOTA we will post to South Plainfield's two Facebook groups as to what we'll be doing. All the Troops in town knew, as one of our members, Harry KC2PGX, is a Scoutmaster, but perhaps social media might draw more people.

Dave KD2FSI brought a Jeep full of his portable equipment; and I brought forth my venerable portable backpack.


My KX3 set up at one of the tables under a pavilion. I think the most essential piece of the day was the thermos of hot coffee! To start, the coax was running out to the QRP Guys portable vertical, but after a while, I switched over to the PAR END FEDZ thrown up in a tree. I was not getting me the results I wanted wit the vertical. I should have used my Buddistick. My Jeep was close enough to where I could have just popped it on the roof with the magmount, and with a barrel connector and some extra coax I would have made it to my operating position. That setup has worked  so very well for me in the past. Too bad I didn't have the presence of mind to think of that on Saturday morning.  One of the hazards of growing old, I guess.


Dave KD2FSI making contacts on 20 Meters. We switched back and forth so as not to interfere with each other, but for the most part Dave stayed on 20 Meters while I stayed on 40 Meters.


Dave's Jeep Wrangler, on top of his drive on mast. This supported his 20 Meters Buddipole configuration. For 40 Meters, Dave put up his Jackite mast with the EFHW wrapped around it. In this case, he added a Buddipole HF coil and an elevated counterpoise wire.


You can't see it (at least I don't think you can) in this photo, but the PAR is going from my radio which was located toward the right hand end of the pavilion to the tree at the right hand end of the photo. In addition to a few JOTA stations, I also worked DF8CX with QRP power.

Much to my chagrin, I was not able to detect or hear any JOTA stations on CW on either 40 or 20 Meters. I brought the microphone along and used that to work the few JOTA stations that I was able to. Even though I was kind of out of my element, it was fun talking to the Scouts and I was even able to speak with a couple who were close to attaining their Eagle Scout status.

For the heck of it, I worked a couple NY QSO Party stations with the paddles, so it wasn't a total loss. And of course, as we were packing up for the afternoon, the sun started peaking through the clouds and began to warm us up. Just in time to go home.

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



Friday, October 19, 2018

New hat

It was time for a new call sign hat. The old one, which was my favorite for years got pretty gross looking. It was a khaki color, which turned out to be not the wisest choice I've ever made. I wore it everywhere and while doing everything and it just became sweat stained. Badly sweat stained, I might add - way past the sweat band and into the hat fabric itself.  What can I say? Doing yard work in hot New Jersey summers in sweaty work!

I tried several washings with Woolite, and that helped a little and extended the life of the hat a couple of years. But when you look at it, and say to yourself, "You're NOT wearing THAT, are you?" - you know it's time to retire it.

So I went back to where I got the old one from - Astrid's Embroidery - and ordered the Next Generation.


This time I went with Navy Blue, a dark color which will hopefully not show any sweat stains as readily. If past experience is any guide, a dark color is way easier to maintain with regular washings. I just fill the sink with tepid water after adding a splash of Woolite, soak the hat for a bit and then set it out on a towel to dry. That usually takes an entire day or two, but results in a brand new looking hat.

Like my old hat, this one has the same embroidery on the front, as well as the straight key on the side. This "Next Generation" features something new, the NAQCC logo on the other side and my name and call at the back, just above the adjustable band.


I really like the workmanship that WM8C provides. He really does produce a fine quality product. And I am pretty hopeful that with the proper care, this hat will last me way longer than the first one, now that I've made a wiser choice in color.

Oh, and by the way, while the old hat is retired, it might be better to say, semi-retired. I'll still use that one when I'm outside in the summer, mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, or whatever. In true Ham fashion, I'm too "personal economy minded" to throw a perfectly usable, if somewhat groady looking, hat away.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Made the Big Time!

For those of you who are paid up members of QRP ARCI, please take a look at the October 2018 edition of "QRP Quarterly" when it arrives in your mailbox.

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club is featured in an article this month.


The red oval is just my highlight, of course!

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Reminder

Just a reminder:

The 2018 Zombie Shuffle is THIS Friday evening - October 19th, 2018.

Here's the link to the rules and details: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/2018/pg.htm

This is one of those "Fun" QRP events - I know, they're all fun - but this one has earned a rightful place in the QRP Event lexicon. To testify to that is the fact that this is the 21st annual Shuffle, the first one was held on October 30, 1998.  For an event to be entering its third decade of existence, especially in the QRP world attests to its popularity.

So come out and join the Zombies who will be shuffling this Friday night - remember ...... Zombies shuffle, because they can't run!


Any Morse Code "newbies" out there should especially take heart (I sense some kind of pun there). Since this is a "shuffle", medium to slower to really slow code speeds are highly encouraged. So, if you've never entered a QRP event before because you're not confident of your Morse ability - have no fear! This is the event for you! Just come and shuffle along with the rest of us - you will be welcome and you'll see how much fun an event like this can be. And you'll be hooked - guaranteed!

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Autumn glory

This past weekend, Marianne and I went up to Lake George. Not a long stay - we left on Saturday morning and came back home yesterday - Monday. No radio equipment taken, just some time spent with my wife (alone), with the two of us going North to enjoy the beauty of Nature.

Saturday and Monday were rainy, but Sunday was magnificent!







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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Very disappointing

There was a post to a CW reflector that I belong to that I can sympathize with. In essence, the author stated that he was running a frequency last night as one of the NAQCC Anniversary stations.  A mini contest/sprint came along and he was run off the frequency that he had been occupying.

His complaint was that it appeared to him, at least, that the offending station hadn't bothered to listen adequately for activity on the frequency. Apparently, there was not much of a wait time after a "QRL?" if indeed there was a "QRL?" at all.

This is one of my pet peeves.  There are so many operators that will just jump on a frequency without listening AND without bothering to ask if the frequency is in use. VERY poor operating etiquette.

What's even more disturbing is that a lot of people who are responding to his post are dismissive, as his output power was QRP. - 5 Watts

THAT SHOULDN'T MATTER!

Whether a frequency is occupied by a QRPer or not is not the issue! The issue is that one operator jumped onto an occupied frequency (seemingly) without bothering to adequately listen. Period. End of story.

Now, I'm fully aware that QRPers are often not heard all that well. That's understandable. Many is the time I've been knocked off frequency by a QRO station. If the station who knocked me off frequency "QRLed" a time or two AND gave adequate time to listen - I have no beef with that. That person did their due diligence and I cannot fault them - he/she couldn't hear me, they truly believed the frequency was clear. I get that - that's the way the cookie crumbles sometime.

But for someone to not listen beforehand and transmit blindly - or to send a "QRL?" and listen for only two or three seconds before starting to transmit is inexcusable in my book.  That so many ops of this somewhat prestigious group are so dismissive of this is disappointing to say the least. Smacks of snobbery, arrogance and entitlement.

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


Did you ever hear that phrase ?

"Genius is the mother of invention"

Dave Hackett KD2FSI has come up with another great idea.

This started a few weeks ago when we were doing that Amateur Radio demo for the Boy Scouts at Sandy Hook.  Dave spirally wrapped a wire around his 31 foot Jackite pole and was using it as an EFHW antenna. He bungee corded it to his portable ops pack as a self standing unit.  For the most part it worked until a stiff off shore breeze came up and threatened to tumble everything over. Realizing that discretion is the better part of valor, Dave removed the antenna from his pack and lashed it to the infrastructure of the wooden deck that we were operating from.

He (and I) like the idea of being able to use the pack as ballast, though. So in the best tradition, Dave went back to the drawing board. This is what he came up with.


By reinforcing his pack frame a bit, and then attaching some large clamps, he was able to accomplish what he first intended.





So he now has a deploy-able antenna for 20 and 40 Meters, but also for 80 Meters when he adds the coil. And since it's free standing, he has a solution for tight quarters or when there are no trees or other supports available for a more "conventional" horizontal wire.

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

QRP ARCI Fall Sprint this weekend



2018 QRP-ARCI(sm) Fall QSO Party

Date/Time:  0000Z to 2359Z on 13 October 2018

Mode: HF CW only.

Exchange: Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number Non-Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO Points: Member = 5 points Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

Multiplier: SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands. The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

Power Multiplier: >5 Watts = x1 >1 - 5 Watts = x7 >250 mW - 1 Watt = x10 >55 mW - 250 mW = x15 55 mW or less = x20

Suggested Frequencies: 160m1810 kHz 80m3560 kHz 40m7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants) 20m14060 kHz 15m 21060 kHz 10m28060 kHz

Score: Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier.

BONUS POINTS: None available for this contest.

Categories: Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m)

How to Participate: Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies. Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself! You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission: Submit your entry online at http://www.qrpcontest.com
Contest logs are not required for entry, but may be requested by the Contest Manager if required.

Deadline: Entries must be posted on or before 27 October 2018.

Results: Will be published in QRP Quarterly and shown on the QRP-ARCI website.

Certificates: Will be awarded to the Top 10 Scoring Entrants.

I will be away from the shack for this one, but the seasonal QRP ARCI Sprints are always fun!

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My sister knows me

My sister is four years older than me; and she knows her brother very, very well. She's on vacation, heading towards New England and yesterday she and her husband stopped at Hyde Park to visit the Roosevelt residence.

Last night we were texting back and forth as I was wondering how far north they had gotten and if the leaves are changing. She sent me this:

"Here's a pic from the "Art of War" exhibit. I thought of you."


No, no, no.  Of course, I'm not a WAVE nor have I ever been in the Navy.  But from hanging around her little brother, my big sister DOES know what a bug is; and she can pick out a Morse Code apparatus when she sees one.

I've often thought that if I could somehow travel back in time, there are two periods of American history that I'd like to eyewitness. The first would be our Colonial and Revolutionary War period. I'm a bit of a Revolutionary War buff and am fascinated with that era and our founding.

The second period of time I'd love to visit would be the World War II era.  To me, it would be a gas to see what the places I know so well today looked like 60-70 years ago. To see my parents and grandparents as their younger selves would be a blast, too. My grandparents on my Dad's side of the family passed away before I was born. It would be nice to be able to meet them, even if my identity had to remain anonymous. (The sci-fi fan in me knows all about changing timelines. LOL!)

The big thing for me would be radio, of course. Television as we know it was in its infancy and was not common. Broadcast radio was the rage. Although Amateur Radio was shut down for the war - plenty of ops were performing communication duties for the military. My Dad, who had no interest in Amateur Radio whatsoever was attached to the Signal Corps and was part of the group sent to Britain to work on the RADAR development project. Maybe that's where my radio gene came from! If I was living back then, I am pretty sure that I would either be doing something like that; or if I was classified as "4F' for whatever reason, I'd probably be doing radio repair.

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

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I am SO going to do this

next time I go for an eye exam.


Posted by KI8UM on Facebook

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

Monday, October 08, 2018

My weekend.

Unfortunately, my weekend wasn't as "QRP Heavenly" as I had anticipated in my earlier post from last week. On Saturday, the Simulated Emergency Test took out a big chunk of my day. In addition to that, grocery shopping, mowing the lawns and chauffeuring my daughter back and forth from the SATs pretty much killed the day.

Our SET exercise was a success, though. We simulated providing AUXCOMM for a freight train derailment in town with a fire and hazardous material spill as part of the scenario.

That meant that unfortunately, the Leaf Peepers Sprint was out of the question for me. And I am truly disappointed to have missed that inaugural event. My apologies to Tim W3ATB, who worked so hard on bringing this off.  As the Brooklyn Dodger fans were famous for saying ....... "Wait 'til next year!"

Sunday was a bit more generous to me. I was able to participate in the Peanut Power Sprint. But even there, I am such an idiot at times! I was going by previous years and started looking for activity around 4:00 PM EDT. Not hearing any, I thought maybe the bands were swallowed by a CME or other solar event. An e-mail from W3BBO alerted me to the fact the Sprint had been moved up two hours.  And I complain when people don't read ....... I'm just as guilty as the next person!

Much to my relief there was a decent amount of QRP activity at the proper start time (duh!). In all, I managed to work 18 stations. I didn't operate the entire time as the dinner bell rang at 7:00 PM Also,  I didn't set up as a portable station outside, either - I sprinted from the basement shack. With the PPS now running from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT, I didn't feel like disassembling the station in the dark - it's pretty much pitch black around here by 7:15 PM.

I hate this time of year. As much as I hate the cold that will be coming shortly, I hate the loss of daylight even more. Dark in the morning when I wake up, and dark way too early in the evening. I can't even mow the lawn after work now, as it's too dark by the time dinner is finished. That's just one more chore that now gets moved to already jam packed weekends. Ugh.

The ONLY good thing about this time of year is that 80 and 160 Meters will become usable again. Summer thunder static will decrease more and more each week as we head towards autumn type weather. You have to find your silver lining where you can get them.

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

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Break glass only .........

Posted by W6LEN on Facebook

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

Awesome!


Dit dit

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

QRP Heaven this coming weekend!

Not one, but TWO QRP operating events coming up this weekend!

Saturday, October 6th - the Leaf Peepers QRP Sprint



All the pertinent information can be found here - https://w3atb.com/leaf-peepers-qrp-contest/

Sunday, October 7th - the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint


All the pertinent information can be found here - http://www.nogaqrp.org/PeanutPower/rules.pdf

If you get a chance to participate, please do! These QRP Sprints, operating events, whatever you want to call them - they're a real labor of love. The guys and organizations who sponsor these do it out of love for Amateur Radio and especially for the love of QRP. Their one and only goal is that YOU have a good time. Your participation is the only way they know that their efforts are appreciated.

Besides, there's so much CRAP happening right now. Here's a chance to get away from it for a while, clear your heads and have some fun. This might be the greatest gift of all!

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Zombie Shuffle Announcement

An early date this year! October 19th. Here is the announcement, as posted by Paul NA5N to QRP-L:

Fellow Zombies, This year's Zombie Shuffle will be held on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. A bit earlier than usual due to Halloween being mid-week and to avoid the CQ WW SSB contest (which trashes evening 40M) and the ARRL CW Sweepstakes. With the poor solar minimum propagation, we don't need any more QRN/QRM to hinder making QSOs.

Contact Jan N0QT ... n0qt@zianet.com if you need a Zombie number assigned or you forgot yours (they're good forever).

If you're new to QRP, the Zombie Shuffle is an annual event just to get on the air, make some QSOs, and have a good, silly and absolutely meaningless good time while making a big score for only a handful of contacts.

This year's Zombie Shuffle is dedicated to our friend, Ron Polityka, WB3AAL (SK), our longest serving Elvis station and a contact in our logs sure to be missed.

If you would like to serve as an Elvis or Elivira station, just let me know.

Link to the Rules: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/2018/pg.htm

72, Paul NA5N Zombie #004

This is welcome news to yours truly! The following Friday is a regular club meeting night; so I would have missed most of the Shuffle were it to be held on the 26th.

Once again, thanks to Paul and Jan for hosting this fun event. A lot of people look forward to these "meaningless good times", and it's good to see that they are not going by the wayside.

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

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Success at Sandy Hook

It was one of the Top 10 Days of the Year, weather-wise. It was all we could have hoped and asked for - beautiful crystal blue skies and comfortable temperatures, With that, five intrepid Hams K2VHW, W2OU, KD2FSI, KC2PGX and W2LJ arrived at the North Beach Observation Deck at Sandy Hook, to set up a few HF stations and operate - and answer questions from visiting Boy Scouts from the 2019 Raritan Valley Camporee.


I set up the KX3 and ol' reliable - the PAR ENDFEDZ 40/20/10. The antenna was held up by my Jackite pole which was lashed to a kiosk some 50 feet or so away from our operating point.

Photo courtesy of W2OU

As usual, the antenna presented an almost perfect match and I was able to start making contacts immediately.

Dave KD2FSI had a bit longer to travel than the rest of us did; but he finally arrived to set up a SSB station.  He used a variant of what I was using, but instead of using his end fed as a horizontal wire, he spiraled it around his Jackite and used it as an end fed vertical.


For the most part, we both operated on 20 Meters and there was some interference with each other, but it was held to a minimum. It was a casual demonstration type of operation, so I would pound brass while Dave took a break and he would operate when I went idle. It worked out.

It got to be a bit too breezy for Dave's free standing vertical from his pack frame, so he ended up lashing it to a bit of the Observation Deck structure.


And we had visitors - lots of visitors. Here's a photo of KD2FSI holding court, explaining HF propagation and operation to a group of Scouts and their Scout Masters.


And Morse Code attracted its fair share of attention, too. Here's a photo of yours truly, working the bands and explaining how Morse Code contacts are made.

Photo courtesy of W2OU

And when Dave and I weren't engaging the Scouts, Marv K2VHW was front and center. Marv has a natural talent for teaching and his friendly and warm personality only make it more effective.


Propagation was not bad! Dave was running close to 100 Watts and worked Italy, France, Germany and a bunch of TX QSO Party stations. I stuck to 5 Watts (of course) and had my fair share of contacts which included Lithuania, France, Quebec (Malcom VE2DDZ - a Skeeter Hunt regular), UR3IDD/MM (have no idea where he was exactly, he didn't give his maidenhead square) as well as my share of TX QSO Party stations as well. I even had a few nice rag chews with Alan W4MQC and Bill AF4YF.

Photo courtesy of W2OU

On a clear day such as today, you can see New York City, across Raritan Bay.

In all it was great success. We made QSOs, and we showed the Scouts how they were made. We let them get a feel for the equipment (especially the Morse Code paddles) and they showed definite interest. Some of the Scouts and their Scout Masters will be in touch with us so we can help them earn their Radio Merit Badges. Did I mention that some of us (including W2LJ) are now BSA Certified Merit Badge Counselors?

From left to right - W2LJ, KC2PGX, KD2FSI, K2VHW, W2OU

Tired and happy, we closed up shop around 4:00 PM local time and headed back to our respective homes. The scouts returned to their camping area. I wish them well, as it's supposed to drop down into the 40s F tonight (7C). It's going to be a chilly night for them, especially considering how close they are to the water and any breezes coming off the cool water.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

BSA Camporee

This coming Saturday is the Boy Scouts of America Camporee. In our area, The Raritan Valley District Fall Camporee is going to be taking place at Sandy Hook, NJ, This is the part of NJ that juts out and forms a land barrier between the Raritan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.


We.re going to set up on the North Beach Observation Deck around 9:00 AM and hope to get busy making contacts from 10:00 AM to about 4:00 PM.

I will be bringing my portable ops backpack with the various antennas that are packed in that, as well as the magloop.  There will be no hard set presentation, just us guys from SPARC making contacts and yakking up Amateur Radio with any of the youngsters that may come by and show an interest.

It's supposed to be sunny with a high temp of 71F (21C), so it should be a nice day to be outdoors. I am not sure at this point whether I will be operating under W2LJ or NJ2SP. I will spot our operations on QRPSPOTS, so if you hear us, give us a call.

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

NAQCC on the DitDit podcast

Bruce Pea N9WKE interviews Paul Huff N8XMS, President of the North American QRP CW Club.


https://www.ditdit.fm/shows/episode-21-naqcc

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


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

First Portable QRP DX

Not how I do QRP portable, but another way, in an interesting video:


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