Sunday, December 31, 2006

W2LJ Poll for December 2006

On my website, I ran a poll asking folks for their MOST FAVORITE method for sending CW. The choices I gave were straight key, bug, sideswiper, Iambic paddles, single lever paddle, touch key or keyboard. I got 28 people to respond and this is how it tallied out:

  • Straight Key (3 votes) - 10.71% of the vote
  • Bug (1 vote) - 3.57% of the vote
  • Sideswiper/Cootie (2 votes) - 7.14% of the vote
  • Iambic paddles w/ keyer (18 votes) - 64.29% of the vote
  • Single lever paddle w/ keyer (4 votes) - 14.29% of the vote
  • Touch key (0 votes)
  • Keyboard (0 votes)

It was no surprise to me that the Iambic paddle/keyer combination took 1st place. I was surprised that using a bug only received one vote and that straight key usage only received 3 votes. I guess not many SKCC members visit my Website!

My personal vote was for the single lever paddle/keyer combo. I love using a straight key and or a bug; but using a single lever paddle with the keyer on my K2 would be my most favorite. Strangely, though, I no longer own a good single lever paddle. I use my Elecraft Hex Key which I have set up so that it most closely resembles a touch keyer. Go figure!

I have a touch paddle kit that I bought a few months ago that I want to construct and experiment with. I guess I should add that to my list of resolutions for 2007!

73 de Larry W2LJ

New Year's Resolutions - Amateur Radio Style !

Here are some of the things I would like to accomplish in 2007, Amateur Radio-wise:

1) Finish my ATS-3 - Cripes! Steve Weber has moved on to offer the ATS-3A; and I still have not finished my ATS-3! I need to get on the ball and get this done.

2) Start up the "QSO a Day" run again. My streak broke while on vacation. Once it broke, it robbed me a bit of the "sense of urgency" to get on and operate every night. I ended up about 100 QSOs short of my total from last year. Hopefully a new streak attempt will get me going again.

3) Attend Atlanticon - The QRP confab for the Mid-Atlantic area. This is held every March in Baltimore. I would give my eyeteeth to be able to go to this! It's hard with family obligations; but I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

4) Get back onto a regular schedule of bug practice. If I attempt to keep resolution #2, then this should be easier.

5) Re-do the radial system for the HF9V this coming Spring/Summer. The same amount of radials would be fine. The old ones have gotten torn up by toddler play and by dog play. It's time to plant some new wire.

6) Probably a bunch of other things I can't think of right now!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Joy of SKN

A fellow member of the Straight Key Century Club, Keith Darwin N1AS posted this to the SKCC e-mail reflector. It is a wonderful op-ed, which Keith has submitted to the ARRL about CW and Straight Key Night, which is tomorrow night. Keith kindly gave me permission to post this here. I think it is extremely well written, and spot-on! Thank you, Keith!

Regarding the SKN Announcement in QST

I read the 2007 Straight Key Night announcement (Dec QST, p. 98) with both joy and disappointment. Joy that another SKN is soon upon us, but disappointment in the color of the light with which SKN has been illuminated. While SKN certainly entails using some rather old-style equipment, it is anything but old-fashioned, and billing it as such sells the event short.

Consider the straight key itself. Contrary to common believe it is not just a beginner's toy, used to master the code to the minimal level and then cast aside in favor of something else. Instead it is a very workable, useable tool for sending CW on today's bands with today's rigs. No, that lowly straight key is a far more demanding task master who does not let you get away with sloppy sending or poor spacing. It's simple form places nothing between you and the CW you're generating.

In the same way, the simplicity of SKN gives us an opportunity to strip away the complex technology oriented aspect of our hobby as we zero in on the essence of Amateur Radio. We sit down in front of the rig with a straight key and set about to communicate with other people over vast distances. Just us and keys. No computer to generate the CW, no keyer to clean up timing errors and make us sound like robots. The priceless prize we get in return for our efforts is ourselves, encoded into unique sounding Morse code, sent through the ether and received in the mind of the op on the other end. The connection we make with the other op is more personal because the CW itself is more personal. In that moment a magic thing happens - we become, once again, a RADIO operator.

If this is old-fashioned nostalgia, then shame on us for ever having walked away from this essential core of Amateur Radio. I look forward to working you during SKN. I'll be using my straight key, doing my level best to send smooth code to you and hanging on every dit and dah you return to me as we share a special bond of manual CW.

Ferrisburg, Vermont

73 de Larry W2LJ

SKN Soapbox comments

If you operate SKN (even if it's one tiny, measly QSO) PLEASE make sure you enter soapbox comments about your experience on the ARRL website!

I'm pretty sure you DO NOT need to be an ARRL member to post your comments.

In any event, please make sure you mention that you are a member of SKCC, NAQCC, or FISTS, or whichever CW group you belong to. In 2002 they got 39 soapbox entries, in 2004 there were 72, in 2005 there were 65 and in 2006 there were 86. I'd like to see the SKN Soapbox Comments area to get blown out of the water!

With the removal of the CW requirement from the licensing procedure; I've been seeing a lot of peeing and moaning on all the CW related reflectors about "the end of CW". Here's our chance to show everyone that CW is NOT dead! With the hundreds of CW ops that will be taking to the air for SKN, can you imagine seeing soapbox comments from a COUPLE hundred participants? That, in my humble opinion, would be a pretty potent message to the League, indeed.

Don't worry about your writing skills, you don't have to be Shakespeare. All you have to write, even if you have no idea what to say, is "I enjoyed SKN. I used (whatever key) and I had a real good time QSOing with ......". You get the idea!

I can't think of any better way to make our voices heard by the League than by blowing them out with participation and letting them know WE STILL CARE by publicly telling them about it. They are giving us a forum. Let's make use of it!

73 - Happy New Year - Happy SKN de
Larry W2LJ

Friday, December 29, 2006

One pelt last night.

The 40 Meter Foxhunt produced one pelt for me last night. I worked Wayne K5EOA rather late into the hunt. He was loud into New Jersey, at times about 579. The QSB was very frustrating, though. He would be loud, I would call, and then he would be weak and it was hard to tell exactly who he had picked out of the pileup. Another thing that made it hard, was that it was difficult to hear a lot of the hounds he was working. That made it exasperating to find out where he was listening. Then, when Wayne did finally hear me, he called for W2RJ; so I had to slow down the code speed just a titch so that my call was copied correctly.

The strange thing about last night was that I didn't hear the other Fox, Rick NK9G at all! I usually have no problem; and indeed I usually have a virtual radio pipeline into Wisconsin. I knew something was wrong when I couldn't hear any of the WI hounds that Wayne was working. After working Wayne I went listening for Rick; but it was pointless. I called it a night and hit "the big switch" early.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, December 28, 2006

QRP .-..

For those of you who are code challenged, that's "QRP L". A new QRP related e-mail reflector. This was started with the hopes of creating a new QRP reflector with fewer restrictions and a more relaxed atmosphere. The only rule is "NO FLAMING !!!!" Flaming will result in an immediate lifetime ban from the list.

To check out the "new" QRP-L, please visit:

Best wishes to
All the founders of the "New" QRP-L that they will have
Yet founded a most exceedingly happy and relaxed "QRP place" !!!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Another night for Le Pew!

No luck in the 80 Meter Foxhunt tonight. I never heard Jim, KGØPP in Colorado; but I did hear Wayne, W5KDJ in Texas. The problem was, however, that Wayne was S1 to S3 for just about the entire hunt! QSB was bad and Wayne never heard me.

In fact, it was kind of amusing. Ann K1QO and I were like a tag team on Wayne for the last half hour. We alternated and sometimes co-mingled our calls in our furious attempts to work Wayne. Wayne was so low that I turned the AGC off in the K2 to hear him better. Ann, who lives in New Hampshire is always loud to NJ on 80 Meters. With the AGC off she was deafeningly loud! With Wayne working simplex the last 45 minutes or so, I would go from struggling to hear him to having my eardrums blown out by Ann's healthy signal.

I think it's time for an aspirin; or maybe a shot of blackberry brandy would serve me better this chilly winter evening!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Santa was good to me!

Santa read my blog! And Santa (my wife, Marianne) was indeed very, very good to me!

Underneath the tree was the 2006 Christmas Key from Morse Express. I was lucky enough to receive last year's edition. The 2006 version is just as beautiful and just as nice to use.

But also under the tree was an "IOU" for one of the SKCC straight keys by LTA! Wow, I wasn't expecting two keys!

Unfortunately, the first run of 30 keys sold out. Mine will be among the next batch to make it over from Spain. Hopefully, it will be here some time in January. I already can't wait to get it on the air!

I hope your "Santa" was just as generous to all of you out there.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

"Glory to God in the Highest; and on Earth, peace and good will towards Men"

I'd like to take this time to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.

This is a season of giving, peace, understanding and goodwill among all. I hope that this Christmas will find you among friends and family with good food, good times, and good memories.

May the Lord, who instituted this Holy Day, by giving to us Himself, grant you peace, serenity, happiness, joy and love.

Merry Christmas to all; and to all a good night!

PS: And I hope Santa lines the bottom of your Christmas tree with all the Amateur Radio goodies that it can hold!

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS: To those of you who are travelling this Christmastide, I wish you Godspeed and a safe journey. This same wish goes out double to all our dedicated men and women of our Armed Forces who are on duty this Christmas season, keeping our country safe while we celebrate the Christ child's birth.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Eve tip

For any of you out there with young children or grandchildren that will be with you on Christmas Eve, I have the following suggestion:

Many years ago (more than I care to remember!) I remember listrening to reports on the radio where NORAD was tracking the progress of Santa's famous Christmas Eve ride. Now, with the advent (no pun intended) of the Internet, you can see just where Santa is, at any moment on Christmas Eve.

This is a real cool Website and I guarantee that you will get just as big a kick out of it as any of your children/grandchildren!! Download the 60 second promotional video and you will see Santa's F-18 escorted ride through North America in 2005, where he was guaranteed safe an uninterrupted passage.

Oh, and of course, the sleigh team is led by none other than Rudolph, himself!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, December 22, 2006

Skunked again in NJ

The 40 Meters Foxhunt was a bust last night - again! I heard a few stations that were hunting; but I never did hear either Fox. For a few minutes I actually thought I heard something; but looking at comments on Q-Fox, I see that I was nowhere close to where the Foxes were actually transmitting.

I took the opportunity to get a little further along with the ATS-3. All the semi-conductors are done; and now I have begun mounting the resistors. These little guys aren't much bigger than this "o" !!! I know I'm taking a super long time with this project; but with the Holidays and all that is going on at work, I don't get much construction time. I'm hoping that if I concentrate my efforts, that maybe I'll be done by the end of January.

On a bright note, 40 Meters seemed better last night. While I didn't bag either of the Foxes, I did end up having a ragchew on 40 after the Foxhunt was completed. For about 20 minutes, I had a nice QSO with Alan, who is visiting his Dad down in Florida for Christmas.

It felt like last year, when I was able to have a QSO every night with little or no difficulty.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, December 21, 2006

From NASA's mouth to God's ear!

Lets hope the good folks at NASA have it right this time!

The most active sunspot cycle since records have been kept? Oh, please, let it be true!

But we all know predicitons about celestial events can tend to be tricky. Remember the claims about the comet Kohoutek in the 70s? That fizzled out big time. It was supposed to be the brightest comet of our time, visible even in the daylight hours! I seem to remember needing a telescope to see it at night.

Then Halley's comet in 1986 turned out to be another big bust.

I think I'll take the attitude of "wait and see". But no matter what happens on down the road, solar conditions HAVE to improve over what we have now!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What the ......... ????

What is going on here?

Basically, a man who drives a school bus on Long Island, almost lost his job because he was wearing a Santa hat. One child was "offended" and complained to his/her Mommy and Daddy, who called the Board of Education and started the ball rolling. He was given a choice - remove the Santa hat or lose his job. In the end, Mr. Mott, the driver, refused to remove the hat and the Board of Education backed off after the outcries of other parents. You know, the parents with a smattering of common sense.

Again, this is just another example of the "Assault on Christmas". Anything remotely Christian anything remotely non-secular, anything tied to the TRUE meaning of Christmas is to be hidden, swept away, discarded and disdained.

Now any Christian worth his/her salt will tell you that while Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas; the popular image of Santa Claus that we hold near and dear; the one we see at the mall is a secular figure. He is nowhere even close to Saint Nicholas, who was a bishop in Turkey in the earlier history of the Catholic Church.

But, the Santa hat is unique. So a lot of people bullseye on it and connect Santa with the Christian holiday of Christmas. Then, of course, they immediately become offended by it, especially liberals and the enlightened oh-so Politically Correct. And of course, since ONE child got offended, we have to cave in, and stop displaying anything which even might be remotely misinterpreted as a religious symbol by some wild leap of the imagination.

Can I ask something, though? What if Mr. Mott, the school bus driver had been wearing a something else; perhaps a yarmulke or an Native American Chief's head-dress? If that child had complained; do you, for even a split second, think he would have been accomodated? No, I think perhaps the child would have been directed to "sensitivity training" or perhaps "diversity training". I don't mean to say that there is anything wrong with the examples of head gear that I have listed. It just stymies me why some cultures are revered and some are not.

"Sensitivity" and "Diversity" are code words to be used to institute the fight against anything that is American and/or Christian. All the "mulitcultural" things MUST be tolerated and promoted; while Christianity is to be persecuted and disposed of. Anything "American" is disdained, ridiculed or regarded as evil. Can someone please tell me what exactly happened to the concept of the United States as "The Melting Pot"?

When you can't say "Merry Christmas" and you have to display a "Holiday Tree" and you can't sing a song that mentions angels, Jesus or anything having to do with Heaven; it is a sad thing. This once God-fearing nation is turning into a pagan nation - no better than the Druids who worshipped trees and practiced magic. Might as well go bow down before an elm or something!

Happy freakin' Festivus.

BTW - Can someone show me in the Bill of Rights the one that guarantees your right not to be offended? I think I missed that one.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, December 18, 2006

Musings of an Old Fart

I was really amused today by the appearance of several postings on QRP-L by some newer Hams who have complained about the treatment they have received by older Hams, who are now becoming known as "OF"s.

I guess I should be amused; but it seems to be a sad commentary not on just Amateur Radio; but of society in general. Here we have some postings by newer Hams who complain that they were mocked, made fun of, abused ....... whatever ....... by older Hams (henceforth known as Old Farts) because they received their licenses by taking exams with a percieved lower level of difficulty.

In my 28 years as a Ham, I am mystified by this. I have never encountered this to my recollection. Or maybe I did; but was smart enough to ignore the taunts of crazies, and instead went on to seek the knowledge I needed from kinder folks. I wanted my Ham license so bad that I was not go to be discouraged my some crackpot. In any event, the incident(s), if they did happen were such a small blip on my radar screen that I don't even remember them! My experience has been that older Hams were most helpful to me when I was a new Ham. Maybe they didn't treat me with kid gloves; but hey, I wasn't a baby and I didn't need to be treated like one! Even if advice was given in less than a cheerful manner; I always learned - and that was the main point, wasn't it?

What bothers me is how these folks use these incidents as a crutch to explain their own behaviors! How can you let the remarks of some stupid person deter you? How can you let what others think diminish your success and accomplishments? Have we as a society become so overly sensitive that no one can say anything without the fear of being labeled as an Old Fart or some other derogotory term? Why are folks so happy and content to assume the role of "victim" rather than take responsibility for their own lives?

I pity these people who look upon sage advice or some good natured ribbing as a put down or an insult. I look with pity on these enlightened ones who say we must respect the opinions and feelings of everyone EXCEPT those that conflict with their own.

Maybe I am just an Old Fart ....... at 49!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Requiescat in pace

Rest in peace.

The Morse Code requirement to obtain operating privileges below 30 MHz will be officially eliminated by the FCC. Or as the ARRL put it:

"In an historic move, the FCC has acted to drop the Morse code requirement for all Amateur Radio license classes. The Commission today adopted a Report and Order (R&O) in WT Docket 05-235."

So what does this mean? Well, for now, CW is not dead. It is still VERY popular and is the preferred method of communication amongst QRPers, hard core contesters and hard core DXers. But even with all that understood, I believe this is the death knell of Morse Code as we know it as a communications form.

Look at recent developments:

The latest Amateur Radio band to be introduced, the 60 Meter band, does not even allow for A1 (CW) emissions.

The "refarming" of the 80 Meter band by the FCC puts the pinch on General and Advanced CW ops who ended up losing spectrum.

Anybody who thinks the FCC and the ARRL regards CW operators as a valuable resource are kidding themselves. The handwriting is on the wall.

In the future, I believe these developments are not far off:

The ARRL will discontinue code practice on W1AW.
SSB emissions will be allowed anywhere on the Amateur Radio bands (OR)
The existing CW only subbands will be renamed the Digital only subbands allowing for the proliferation of Pactor III, WinLink and other similar forms of data transmission.

Unfortunately, tradition, history, romance and magic have no use in today's society. This is the latest action to prove that.

For now, I won't even go into my rant about those who claim that they "just can't learn Morse Code". I'll save that for another day.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, December 14, 2006


YAF - as Jim Miller AB3CV put it - Yet Another Flare. And boy, is he right! Ol' Sol is not sitting there quietly as we approach the dead bottom of the sunspot cycle. Sunspots, flares, Coronal Mass Ejections .... our yellow Sun is a happening place right now! In fact, this solar storm is SO intense that NASA had the astronauts aboard the Shuttle and the International Space Station retreat to the most shielded parts of each vessel.

What does that mean for amateur radio? Well, I was not home to witness it; but several of the e-mail reflectors had posts from guys who reported that 10 Meters was alive and doing quite well today. Several other have posted seeing intense Aurora Borealis tonight.; so that means 2 Meters and 6 Meters must be hopping like mad!

On the other hand, for the 40 Meter Foxhunt tonight, all the signals I heard were weak, fluttery and watery. Typical of signals that propagate over the North Pole that are most affected by Aurora. I finally worked Jerry N9AW ay 0316 UTC; but even his signal was not its normal healthy self. Jerry was anywhere from 449 to ESP. The QSB was deep; and I didn't think I was going to work him. However, persistance paid off this time around. I heard the other Fox, Randy K7TQ early in the hunt also; but he was VERY weak into NJ; so I went to search out Jerry first. After working Jerry, I went back to the frequency where I had heard Randy and he was gone. Actually he wasn't as I heard the hounds calling him; but for me, since I couldn't hear him anymore, he was gone.

So by working N9AW tonight; that puts me at 4 pelts out of 12 hunts. A .333 batting average. If I was in the Major Leagues, I'd be earning beaucoup bucks for that average. For Foxhunting, that stinks! In the 2004-2005 season, I batted .475, and in 2005-2006 I batted .225 (I had terrible local QRN problems last Winter on 40 Meters). So I guess I'm doing better than last year, so far.

In the 2005-2006 80 Meter Foxhunt, I batted .650; and so far this year, I am batting .583 in the 80 Meter Foxhunt. Slightly worse than last year; but still lightyears ahead of my 40 Meter batting average. (Can you tell I'm a big baseball fan?)

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not looking good.

My goal at the beginning of the year was to make 2006 QSOs in 2006. Looks like I'm not going to cross that finish line. It doesn't even look like I will be able to duplicate last year's total of 1800. I'm at 1700; but there are less than three weeks left of 2006.

The reason? Take last night, for example. The airwaves should have been hopping. There were three big CW events that took place last night. First, the QRP-L Foxhunt was held on 80 Meters. Second, the North American QRP CW Club was holding its monthly sprint. Third, the Straight Key Century Club was holding its monthly sprint, also. I was thinking an easy 40 or even 50 QSOs between the two sprints.

I had a wake to go to last night; and then a Knights of Columbus meeting. I got home at 9:15 PM and literally flew down the basement steps to get into the shack and turn the radio on. Much to my surprise, I heard nothing, zilch, zip, nada, the big donut hole.

No Foxes, no hounds, no NAQCCers and finally, only one single, solitary SKCC station. It was Kevin K4VD who was operating under the SKCC club callsign KI4SLY. And that was it! That was all she wrote from 9:15 until 10:30 PM. Calling CQ netted nothing. Searching and pouncing netted one station. And before I get to mention, this also means another week of getting skunked in the Foxhunts.

All in all, not a good night. The propagation gods seem to be dead set against me.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,

I know my dear wife Marianne is in a quandry, trying to figure out what this Ham Radio operator would like for Christmas. If you're intent on helping her, I have two suggestions for you. Both can be gotten with the help of Marshall Emm at Milestone Technologies.

The new SKCC straight key would be neat! It's an LTA Marconi straight key with the Straight Key Century Club (of which I am a member) logo engraved on it! If you'd like to see what I'm talking about - go here:

Another item that I wouldn't mind finding under the tree would be the 2006 Christmas Key. If you remember correctly, you brought me the 2005 Christmas key last year. Lookie here:

I've been a real good Ham Radio Op all year, Santa! I hope you read my blog and bring me a radio goodie this Christmas!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, December 08, 2006

QRP and CW are the best!

I just finished a great ragchew with Dave WD4EKB out of Fulton, NY. Dave mentioned that he is 65 and has been a Ham for a number of years; but was inactive until just a few months ago. Since rejoining the hobby, his interests have been in QRP and CW.

This is not a new thing that I am hearing. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this repeatedly, in the past few years. Guys who were starting to get bored with the hobby (or were already bored) are finding excitement, nostalgia, romance and a little of the "magic" that got them interested in radio in the first place, in QRP and CW.

I'm not sure whether it's folks relishing a new challenge; or just returning back to their roots of building and using Morse Code and low power equipment. But whatever it is, it seems to be catching on quickly. The QRP branch of Amateur Radio is quite healthy from all reports that I have been reading. With the birth of organizations like the North American QRP CW Club and the Straight Key Century Club it also seems like CW is beginning a renaissance, also. While the "code/no-code" debate furiously rages on, quietly and surely the numbers of Hams who are using Morse Code for the first time (and enjoying it immensely) as well as those who are returning to Morse Code, seem to be on the rise.

And after all, what's not to like? Using QRP and CW is fun; and that's all that counts!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sincere thanks!

My most sincere thanks to all of you who left a comment or sent a private e-mail with get well wishes and notes of concern about my recent back injury. Fortunately (thanks be to God!) that it was just a severe muscle pull and not anything like a disc injury.

For those of you who suffer from the same malady, from time to time, I heartly recommend the use of the ThermaCare brand of heat therapy wraps! I purchase the large sized back/hip wraps. These babies work wonders! They provide a gentle warmth and not a searing heat; and they last for 8 hours or more. I wear one underneath my shirt; but on top of an undershirt. Direct contact with the skin is okay; but I feel that would be a little too much warmth for me. The have a velcro belt type of fastener. To give you an idea of how you would wear it; just think of a tuxedo cummerbun worn backwards!

The ThermaCare wraps, combined with the use of Advil has gotten me through the worst. I still get some muscle "twinges" if I move a little too fast the wrong way; but for the most part I would say I am back to about 90% of normal.

I've thrown out my back several times before but this was the worst! The cramping was so bad; I'm sure that my muscles were just huge, cramped up balls. I'm feeling the after-affects now. This was also the first time that this has happened, that as a result, I was not able to lay in bed, for fear of not being able to get out of bed! Monday and Tuesday nights were spent trying to sleep in an easy chair in the living room. Not a restful or pleasant experience; but at least this way my muscles didn't stiffen up to the point where I would have been immobile. I was in bad enough shape to call out sick from work on Tuesday. On Wednesday I was informed that the last time I had used a sick day was nine years ago.

Once again, thanks to all of you who were concerned. Knowing that there are friends out there makes all the difference in the world! In fact, from my last two posts, you can see that felt well enough to brave the trip down to the basement shack to participate in last night's 40 Meter Foxhunt!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It was a Two-fer!

Dale WC7S just posted his log on the Q-fox e-mail reflector. It was a "two-fer" after all! Dale got my exchange at 0310 UTC perfectly. I think I'm going to start referring to Dale as "Steve Austin" because he just has to have bionic ears to have pulled me out of that noisy soup on 40 Meters!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Think I got a Two-fer!

Wow! I think I got my first Two-fer in the 40 Meter Foxhunt on Thursday night! And that on a day when Ol' Sol is tossing all kinds of garbage at us, with M-Class flares and coronal mass ejections and the like!

The evening started out by firing up HF Prop, a HF propagation prediction software program. With the Solar Flux at 96 and the K Index at 4, the program predicted that Dennis N4DD in Tennessee would be at about an S1 level. It also predicted that Dale WC7S in Wyoming would be at about S5. Of course, the opposite proved to be true!

Dale was a nice and loud (by QRP standards) 559. Just as I was going to touch the paddles and give him a call; someone in the neighborhood flicked on an appliance and gave me an instant S9 ambient noise level ! Arrrggggghhhhhhhh - Dennis went "Bye-bye"! Fortunately, about 10 minutes later, whatever got flicked on, got flicked off. I composed myself and shortly thereafter into the bag went Dennis' pelt.

A few minutes later, at the other end of the frequency range I heard Ann AB1DR's loud signal from up in New Hampshire calling Dale. Thanks for the guidance, Ann! By turning the VFO down a touch, I was able to finally hear Dale who was 339 and maybe 449 when the QSB would abate for a very short period. After calling a few times, I'm about 90% certain that Dale came back to me and that we completed the exchange. I'll know for sure when Dale posts his log for the night on the QRP Foxhunting e-mail reflector tomorrow.

Who would have guessed that when solar conditions were so abnormal as to make a headline on "The Drudge Report" that I might have gotten my first double pelt session of the season!

Go figure!

73 de Larry W2LJ

And now for something totally UN-PC!

As seen on the Internet:

T'was the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

Why the Politically Correct Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a "Holiday".
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod ,
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

But as Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Pelosi, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they tried to take away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded

The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Holiday Tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
And shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday,
Our Country was founded under the Judeo-Christian way
And to our"guests" I will most politely say,
If you find that you don't like it , You certainly don't have to stay!!

Merry Christmas to all!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stormy weather!

More from Paul Harden NA5N on QRP-L today:

Yesterday, the sun produced an X9 solar flare, *very* unusual for being near the bottom of the solar minimum. Today (6Dec) the sun produced another X6 flare. This certainly suggests that active region #0930 will be bringing us plenty of entertainment over the next two weeks as it rotates across the surface of the sun.

For the *duration* of the flare events, HF can be disrupted by bursty and continuum noise, plus enhanced D-layer ionization absorbing signals, if not a temporary HF blackout. However, once that bleeds off in an hour or two, the D-layer will be back to normal and the E/F layers will remain ionized above normal for the rest of your local daytime hours. This of course makes the E/F layers more reflective and raises the MUF. Therefore, a good time for QRPers to check the bands is an hour or so after a large flare until local sundown for enhanced HF propagation.

Most of today we've also been in a major geomagnetic storm. Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with yesterday's X9 (or today's X6) flare. The Earth has simply run in to a high speed electron stream from a coronal hole. This has exerted pressure against our magnetic field, compressing it, and generating huge electrical currents causing high HF noise levels. This will subside by later in the day.

If the sun produces M or X class flares over the next few days, the coronal mass ejection (CME) will begin to be pointed towards earth, meaning we can expect a geomagnetic storm about two days following the flare event. The closer the solar flare is to the center of the sun, more the direct of a hit we'll receive on earth. Today's X6, being near the limb of the sun, will probably give the earth only a glancing blow for a few hours of unsettled conditions late Friday.

The >10MeV proton count is high. These protons tend to accumulate in the polar regions (where the Earth's magnetic field is weakest). This causes a Polar Cap Absorption Event, meaning high absorption to HF signals for those above 45-50 degrees latitude. These same protons are what fuels auroral displays. Those in the higher latitudes are experiencing aurora now.

The moral of the story for QRPers:
1) Don't let reports of solar flares, geomagnetic storms, CME's keep you
off the bands. Much of this is of short term duration.
2) Enhanced HF propagation, including sporaidic openings on 15, 10 and even
6M can occur after a major flare for the rest of the day until sundown.
3) This includes possible north-south dx propagation at sundown due to
gray-line propagation. (If you do work McMurdo Sound, you better make
the QSO a snappy one, though -hi).
Good luck and have fun on the bands. It's not nearly as bad as it appears. In fact, it really works in the QRPers favor.
72, Paul NA5N

Thank you, Paul! You make all this science more palatable by putting it into "laymen's terms".
You're a QRP treasure - no doubt!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Solar Activity

The following appeared on QRP-L today, courtesy of Paul Harden NA5N:

Today's X9 flare was indeed quite a surprise, not only to us hams,
but to the scientific community as well. The flare occured right on
the east limb of the sun, that is, just coming into view, such that the
active region that produced it has not yet been viewed. This region
will be rotating into view over the next day, and over the next two
weeks will move across the surface of the sun (from east to west, or
left to right on most solar images).

Since this flare was on the east limb, Earth will experience on the
speed-of-light emissions (ionizing radiation and the radio storms) - NOT a subsequent severe major geomagnetic storm. Although, NOAA has predicted an A=20 (minor storm)
for Thursday, anticipating a glancing blow from the shockwave. It will not be a direct hit. However, over the next week and a half, further solar flares from region 0929/0930, as it nears the center of the sun, could cause major geomagnetic disturbances on Earth.

I talked to our head solar astronomer, Dr. Tim Bastian, who said the
40-ft. and 300-ft. antennas at Green Bank, WVa are now mapping this
area of the sun, trying to get some spatial resolution to see what this area looks like - difficult when it is right on the limb. Additionally, there are some pretty images of the Type II and Type IV sweeps on their radiometer. He has given me permission to pass on the following information. This is his website of the Green Bank solar radio burst spectrometer (GBSRBS), which is a newly created and EXPERIMENTAL website you might find interesting, though it has not been announced/released for public use yet (but released to QRP-L by permission). It is at:
Click on SELECTED EVENTS, then Type II and Type IV. Type II sweeps are caused by the shockwave of the flare punching through the magnetic field lines of the disturbance. They "sweep" from higher frequencies (50-300MHz) to lower frequencies (5-20MHz,
depending on the intensity of the shockwave). On earth, they will sound like bursts of static flying through your passband, much like ignition noise.

This X9 has been producing Type II events. Type IV sweeps are more continuum noise generated by the solar flare, though bounded in frequency to the 10-100MHz or so range, though effects much higher are not uncommon for a large flare. On earth, the Type IV sweeps
causes an overall increase in the HF noise level. This X9 has been producing Type IV events.

Now go to the DAILY SUMMARIES, click on DEC (December) and 2006. Click on Dec. 05 under the "BI 12-62 MHz" column. This is the Bruny Island Radio Spectrometer in Tasmania, which shows today's events so far. Can you see the Type II sweeps (going from the high to lower
frequencies)? And, the Type IV continuum noise?

The NRAO radio burst spectrometer is also real time, however, it is not updated on this PUBLIC website until the end of the UTC day, so Dec.05 is a bit blank yet. However, look at it later, which will give you a real-time (at least at the time -hi) spectrum of what happened to the HF bands down to 12MHz. You can compare it to Dec.04 (yesterday), which is pretty boring. Again, this will soon be an official NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) public website, and soon to have the daily real-time spectrograph on it, but still under development. Dr. Bastian was kind enough to allow me to share it with those hams so interested.

Lastly, Dr. Bastian is also observing, etc. to determine the effects of this flare to our upper ionosphere, and interested to know what effects this is or has had on HF propagation. There are facilities that measure these things, but it will be at the end of the UTC day or later before their
data is released. I am at work and no access to any HF gear. So, for those of you who have been on the bands since this morning, let me know (either private or via QRP-L) if you heard any Type II sweeps (the bursty, ignition noise stuff and approx. what time and frequency), an overall increase in noise (type IV), or if you experienced an HF black-out or near blackout condition. State your approx. location.

It is hard for some of these astronomers to realize there is a fleet of people out there who are experiencing these things real-time on ham radio. A sampling of reports across the country of noted effects could be helpful right now (as some of the propagation study instruments are shut down during the solar miniumum). I'll pass on anything interesting that might result from todays solar observing we're doing on this.

Thanks and 72,
Paul NA5N
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)
Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Telescope
Socorro, New Mexico
QRP-L mailing list

73 de Larry W2LJ

No radio for a bit .... for me!

I threw my back out at work yesterday. It went out on me pretty good, too! I can't remember being in that much pain in quite awhile! It's getting better; but I can tell it's going to take a week or more to come back to somewhere near normal. In the meantime, I think I'm going to stay out of the shack for the time being. That's the last thing the muscles in my lower back need right now - sitting in one position for an extended period of time in the basement, where it's cool and damp!

So while I didn't participate in the ARS Spartan Sprint last night; I see I had a lot of company. Reading comments on the various QRP reflectors, I saw this news tidbit:

MAJOR SOLAR FLARE: Earth-orbiting satellites detected a
powerful X-class solar
flare this morning, Dec. 5th, at 10:35
Universal Time. The source: big, new
sunspot 929, which is
emerging over the Sun's eastern limb. Because of the
position near the limb, this flare was not Earth-directed. Future

eruptions could be, however, because the Sun's spin is turning
the spot toward
Earth. Sunspot 929 will be visible for the next
two weeks as it glides across
the solar disk.

Please visit for more information
and updates.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Morse Code History

My friend Bob W3BBO sent me this link this morning to a very interesting Website. It details the fascinating story about Samuel FB Morse's very last message sent by telegraph. The sending of the message by Morse was the capstone of a sort of "celebration of lifetime acheivement".

Read for yourself by clicking on the link:

73 de Larry W2LJ

QSL Cards

I came home today to find a packet of QSL cards awaiting me in an envelope from the W2 Bureau. I'm always excited to receive a packet from them. While I'm not a big time DXer, I enjoy receiving QSL cards from the foreign stations that I have worked.

This packet didn't include anything too exotic; but still the same it was nice to get them. Included were cards from Italy, Germany, the Ukraine, Romania, Grenada, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland and England.

What amazes me though, is the higher percentage of DX cards that I receive are very beautiful, glossy postcard type of QSL cards. These folks obviously take pride in procuring and giving out very beautiful specimens of QSL art. A far cry from the usual domestic "plain Jane" cards that I'm so used to seeing.

The best thing about these cards though, is that all the QSOs were QRP from my end. Nice to see proof positive that QRP works and works quite well.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's a Celebration!

This time, I got a real Two-fer! I bagged both Foxes in this week's 80 Meter Foxhunt! No skunks like on 40 Meters last Thursday. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I seem to have way better luck on 80 Meters.

In any event, both Foxes were loud into New Jersey. I first heard Dave N1IX; but his signal was really fading in and out. He seemed to be working a ton of Midwestern stations. Calling was leading to no success and only frustration; so I decided to go hunt for Jerry N9AW. I found him easily enough; but the spot he was occupying on the band was covered with S9+ noise from the TV that's located right over the shack! I turned on the narrow filtering on the K2 and it helped a lot; but I could tell my wife Marianne was flicking through the channels; as the noise would increase from S9 to 20 over S9 depending upon what was on the screen!

Giving up on the noise for a bit; I decided to go back to Dave's last known spot, which I had written down. Luckily, he was still there and louder than before! The QSB was still making it tough; but I finally managed to snag him. With that pelt in the bag, I decided to give Jerry a whirl again.

About 20 minutes later I threw out my call. Jerry was loud enough to be giving the QRN goodly competition. I figured that I must have been sending a decent signal out his way, in turn. I threw out my call, hoping for the best, when all of a sudden Jerry sent my call but at a substantially slower rate than he had been sending. That contrast was just enough for my ears to make out that it was my call and that he was answering me through all the QRN. I sent my exchange and I heard the "QSL" of acknowledgement.

Time for the Happy Dance! Last year; and so far this year, the 40 Meter Foxhunts have been an utter, dismal failure for me. I've bagged one pelt in six hunts. So far I'm doing much better on 80 Meters. If my memory serves me correctly, I have captured six out of eight possible pelts. The QRP Foxhunts are a ton of fun in any event; but when you have some success, they are even more fun!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, November 27, 2006

Just foolin' around

I went down to the basement shack for a bit on Saturday night, just to see if I could work a few more new countries QRP in the CQWW DX Contest. The main feeding frenzy was over by then; and things promised to be a little calmer.

I was taken aback by the noticeable lack of loud European DX! Usually, the Europeans overwhelm the bands up here in the NE United States during these DX contests. The bands seemed to be unusually quiet and lacked of "wall-to-wall, packed-in-with-a-shoehorn" signals.

Instead, propagation seemed to favor the Caribbean and South America for the very little time that I was on the air. Although I have worked these countries before, they were all new to me via QRP: Dominica, Uruguay, Cayman Islands, Canary Island, Galapagos Island.

The weekend was full of chores with the beginning phase of readying the house for the Holidays. I took advantage of the almost Spring-like temperatures to get the outside Christmas decorations out and up. It's a lot nicer to be doing this kind of chore when it's 55 degrees outside as opposed to 35 degrees outside! All that being said and done, I was one beat puppy by the end of the day; and really didn't feel like putting too much time in behind the radio. For the few minutes that I was able to devote to it; I was satisfied with the results.

I think this puts me up somewhere to around 70 countries worked for QRP DXCC. With the approach of a new sunspot cycle on the horizon, I should be able to meet this goal within the forseeable future. If I gave it my all; and got up at ungodly hours to take advantage of propagation the proper way, I'm sure I could finish in 2007. Guess I'm not enough of a "dyed-in-the-wool" DXer!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, November 24, 2006

Another one worked

When a big gun DX contest come on, I generally don't jump into the fray until after all the hard core contesters have a chance to spend a little of their energy. When things calm down a bit is when I tend to jump in with my 5 Watts, after the initial frenzy has worn off.

Tonight, however, I decided to see what 20 Meters was doing. It wasn't doing much. However, I did hear and work HD2A out of Ecuador. Ecuador is a new one for me via QRP. It brings me just a bit closer towards QRP DXCC.

In between chores tomorrow, I'll jump in every now and then to see if I can work a few more new ones. I have a feeling that Sunday afternoon, when all the big guys are looking to maximize their QSO totals will be cherry picking time.

73 de Larry W2LJ

The Road Less Travelled

Jeff Davis KE9V is "Da Man!" He has a talent for writing short stories about Amateur Radio and radio in general that are just top shelf!

Do yourself a favor and go read this jewel.

Then, if you've liked what you've read, send Jeff an e-mail and ask him to post his Amateur Radio "Christmas Story". He'll know which one you mean.

Jeff is a treasure; and he manages to recapture for all of us the "magic" that Ham radio is.

Go ....... now !!!!! Read!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, November 23, 2006

2-fer in NJ tonite!

Tonight, even though it's Thanksgiving, the Foxhunt on 40 Meters was still held. I got a "2-fer" tonight! That's the joyous cry heard, when a Foxhunter bags both Foxes. Unfortunately, the two pelts I bagged weren't Foxes, they were these little guys to the right. Yep, once again, I got skunked.

The two Foxes were Tom KV2X in New York and Paul NG7Z in Washington State. Paul is too close to bag on 40 Meters and Paul is too far, I guess; or maybe he's not even far enough considering the way the band has been going long lately.

I did manage to work PJ2C/W8WTS down in the Netherlands Antilles; but I wasn't able to complete either domestic QSO. This is the third Thursday into the season - 6 hunts and so far I think I have bagged only one pelt so far. Pitiful!

Next week's not looking too good, eitther with another Fox scheduled to be originating from New York. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll be able to bag Randy K7TQ in Idaho.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, November 20, 2006

Giving Thanks

As a whole year has come and gone, I find myself yet again pondering Thanksgiving. It is this Thursday, that we as a Nation, set a day aside to give "Thanks" for the bounties bestowed upon us.

Bestowed upon by whom? By God, of course. As much as the secularists strive to force God out of every facet of our national life; He is still there, smiling upon us benevolently, giving us all the good things we have. I think He must be getting weary of our attempts to drive Him away. The secularists and their ilk blame God and religion for the evils in the world. It's their stupidity and arrogance that are responsible for the evils in the world. When men take on the role of god; and start to believe that they are mightier than He - this is where the world's troubles have their roots. I just hope He doesn't listen to the vocal minority; and take heed of their message only to abandon us.

But faith dictates that that will never happen. As long as the faithful remain, God will be in our midst. He promised as much; and I know He never backs away from a promise. He loves us too much for that; for after all He is love.

Every day is a reason to be thankful. That is a lesson hard learned via the "School of Hard Knocks". To give thanks on one arbitrary Thursday a year is absurd. But we do the things we do and we make the celebrations we make. So once again, I will give endeavor to list only a minute portion of the things I am grateful for.

First and foremost I give thanks to God for everything. For creating me and giving me everything I have. Without Him, I am truly nothing.
For my wife Marianne; her smile and her love make life worth living.
The laughter and joy and love of our two beautiful children, Joseph and Cara. I cannot imagine living in a world without them.
My Mom, who has taught me so much and has given me so much and has handed down to me the gift of Catholic Faith. It is because of her that I know what I know; and that I am who I am.
My sister, Ann Marie, who I love so much; as well as her husband David and their son, my Godson, Michael.
My mother-in law and my brother-in-law and his wife.
My Dad and my father-in-law; even though they are no longer here; both had a profound influence on my life.
For our house, which is our haven from the world. A place of peace, joy, and laughter, craziness and insanity, quiet and serenity.
For my job; and my wife's job, which helps to keep the roof over our head and food on the table.
For friends and extended family.
For the many friends I have come to know over the years via Amateur Radio. Many of these I have never met face to face; but yet these same unknown faces (as well as the known faces) are some of the best friends I have ever had.
For the great country and wonderful bounty that God has decided to bestow on us.
For the brave men and women in our military who keep our country free - these are the world's true heros.

The list can go on and on - where does one know where to stop? But in reality, making the list is not necessary. All that's necessary is to have the humility and wisdom to know where all the good things come from.

Once again ..... thank you, dear God, for everything!

To all my friends, all my family and to all of you out there who might take a few minutes to read these words - Happy Thanksgiving!

73 de Larry W2LJ

I know it won't last .....

Bur for now, for a few hours at least, I am the top scorer in tonight's Run For The Bacon! Wiigii!!

Wow! That was fun! I ended up with 22 QSOs in two hours of noise, noise, noise, noise. Actually, 40 Meters was a lot quieter than 80 Meters; but the band was very long and there were few if any, signals. If I remember correctly, maybe 5 or 6 QSOs out of the 22 were made on 40 Meters. And that is very strange; because normally, 40 Meters is the workhorse band. That honor goes to 80 Meters tonight. It was by far more productive than 40; but it also had a lot more QRN. It was to the point where I was sorely tempted to turn the rig off early; just to get away from the buzzsaw of QRN. I decided against it; and ended up working just a few more stations to bring my total past 20 QSOs, which was my goal for the night.

I know that come tomorrow morning, I will probably be knocked off the top spot for this month; but that's okay. I never expect to win any of these sprints; and if I place within the top 3 or 5, then I consider that I did very well for myself. The guys that I have come to know in these sprints are magnificent Amateur Radio ops. To come anywhere near close to them in a sprint like this puts one in rarified air, indeed!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, November 17, 2006

A new twist on an old tale.

Courtesy of a friend .


The ant works hard, in the withering heat, all summer long. He builds his house and stores supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks that the ant is a fool. He laughs, dances and plays the summer away, preparing nothing for the coming winter.

Winter comes, the ant is safe and warm. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

The moral to the story is: BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF!


The ant works hard, in the withering heat, all summer long. He builds his house and stores supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks that the ant is a fool. He laughs, dances and plays the summer away, preparing nothing for the coming winter.

Winter comes, the ant is safe and warm. The shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and fed, while others are cold and starving!

CBS, NBC, ABC & CNN show up to provide pictures of shivering grasshoppers, next to a video of an ant in his comfortable home, with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast! How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is forced to suffer this way?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah, with the grasshopper. Everyone cries when they sing "It's Not Easy Being Green."

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house, where the news stations film the group singing, "We Shall Overcome."

Jesse then has the group pray for the grasshopper's sake, and reminds the group to contribute to his organization, so that he can "continue the fight" for grasshoppers, everywhere!

The newly-elected Democratic Senators call for an immediate tax hike, to make the ant pay "his fair share!"

Hmmmmmm ...... I can see why this parody came to be.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nothing Like Beating a Dead Horse

I hate to beat a dead horse; but the bands were atrocious again tonight! I tried to participate in the monthly NAQCC Sprint; but it was mostly an excersize in frustration.

40 Meters was dead, dead, dead! I heard and worked a solitairy station on 40 Meters and that was Charles Moizeau W2SH, who lives about 20 miles from me as the crow flies.

80 Meters had more activity; but here it had about an S7 noise level! I worked about another 5 stations before I ended the misery for the night and turned the rig off about 45 minutes early.

The weather has been very warm here the past week or so. Highs have been near 70 and that is odd for November. Unfortunately, it has also had the effect of taking 80 Meters back to summer-like conditions with a ton of atmospheric static. We have a high wind warning in effect for our area tomorrow with more heavy rain expected tomorrow night into Friday in anticipation of a cold front moving through. Maybe once the temperatures come back towards normal, 80 Meters will start behaving like it's Autumn again.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, November 13, 2006


The past few nights on the bands have been disappointing to say the least. There have been very few signals; and all of them have been faint. I understand that from Friday through Sunday we were under the influence of disturbed geomagnetic conditions; but today things have returned to "normal".

However, the bands have still seemed anything but normal. Calling CQ on 80 and 40 yielded zip. Dialing through the bands yielded zip also. But yet, what will be amazing is what the bands will be like over Thanksgiving weekend, during the CQWW DX contest, a scant week and a half away. You will be able to knock me over with a feather if the bands aren't wall to wall signals that weekend, with RF flying everywhere!

Which begs the question .... do the major contests, with the abundance of RF flowing through the aether, cause their own propagation? It seems a silly thing to think; but the flood of signals that will be on the air all weekend will suddenly vanish when the contest ends. It's almost as if someone will have flicked a switch. Then we will go back to these weeknights, where if it were possible, you could hear someone drop a pin on the bands.

If the lack of activity on the bands these nights is any evidence that we are approaching the sunspot minimum, you will get no arguements from me. I can't wait until things get better. I miss my CW ragchews!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thank You!

This Veteran's Day, I would like to extend a deep and most hearfelt "Thank You" to all of you who have served in our Nation's Armed Forces. I can never say thank you enough, or ever repay you for the sacrifice you've made by serving in our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine. You folks know that the price of liberty is not cheap; and you've sacrificed a lot to defend the rest of us. Again, thank you!

To those of you out there who may have lost a loved one during their time in service, I also thank you for their sacrifice. No greater love can be shown by a man or a woman than those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. I pray that they are basking in Heaven's Holy light.

To those of you are currently serving; or have a loved one who is currently serving - thank you, also! May your tour be safe and may God grant that you return to your home, safe and sound in the quickest time possible. Godspeed!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, November 09, 2006

First 80 Meter Fox Hunt

I had the distinct pleasure to be one of the first two "foxes" in the 80 Meter QRP Foxhunt on Monday evening. I was a bit anxious about it; as my skills are nowhere near the rest of the Foxes. These guys are the "cream of the crop" for the most part; and when I get the opportunity to be a Fox, I feel like a Single-A ballplayer being bumped up to the Big Leagues!

However, 0200 UTC came rolling along; and it was time to take key in hand and begin the hunt. I put out the first "CQ FOX DE W2LJ" exactly on time, to be greeted by a flood wall of QRPers sending me their callsigns in unison!

Remaining as calm as I could, I managed to pick off the calls one by one to send the required exchange. Before I had even realized it, I had settled into a nice rhythm and was working stations regularly at a pace of one and sometimes two per minute. Conditions for the Hunt were nice on 80 Meters for the first 45 minutes of the 90 minute period. I needed few fills; and everyone seemed to be behaving themselves. I was working "split" where I was transmitting on 3.565 MHz and was listening for replies on 3.566 MHz - "up 1" as it is called.

Then at 0245 UTC something suddenly changed. For some reason unbeknownst to me; the noise floor on the band rose dramatically. It was if someone had flicked a noise switch "on" somewhere!

The pack of baying hounds (the QRPers trying to work me) suddenly vanished. I was now calling CQ more often and there was an increasing time lag between incoming calls. I went from operating split to operating simplex. This would make the task of the hounds somewhat easier; as they would not need to hunt for a listening frequency. My QSL rate went way down in the second half of the hunt; but I still ended up working a good number of stations. When all was said and done; I believe I worked 47 or 48 stations - just under the 50 which I has set as a goal for myself.

I have found that working the QRP Sprints, as I have done regularly for the past few years, really helps to prepare you for Fox duty. It's really not much different than finding a good frequency and "running it" during a contest. Lots of operating, especially in cruddy conditions, really helps, too. If your ears are accustomed to digging out calls; then being a Fox is nothing new.

In the end, it was a very enjoyable experience. I would recommend it heartily to those of you in the QRP community who have been thinking about volunteering; but have been sitting on the fence about it. Look, if I can do it - anyone can! My station is nothing super special and I rarely place in the Top Three of any of the QRP Sprints I enter. But I do know what is fun; and it's fun being a Fox. I'm glad that I get another crack at it later this season!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, November 06, 2006

ARS Spartan Sprint

Tonight was the ARS Spartan Sprint, which occurs the first Monday night of each and every month. I jump in to boost my QSO total; and to have some fun. I like operating; and I join in even though I realize that I do not have a good enough antenna farm to acutally compete with the top guns.

Local noise on the AC line was intermittant. Someone in the neighborhood is using some kind of appliance that is generating a ton of RF hash. One of these nights, I'm going to have to go walking again to see if I could localize it. Last winter, I thought it was a bad insulator or something on a utility pole; but the random "on-off" pattern of the noise is convincing me otherwise. At least so far this year, it comes and goes, as compared to last winter when it just came on and lasted all night!

In any event, I made 24 QSOs with 5 Watts. The best DX was to Texas. 80 and 40 Meters were the only bands I used. I tried 20 Meters for a bit; but it was totally dead. 40 Meters was good from the beginning; but the at about 0300 UTC, it went way long. At that point I started hearing Texas and Mississippi and then it kind of conked out. The rest of the evening was spent on 80 Meters where the majority of my QSOs were made.

Tomorrow night is the beginning of the 2006/2007 QRP Fox hunting season. Tuesday nights will be the 80 Meter hunts, with the 40 Meter hunts to follow on Thursdays. I was given the honor of being one of the two Foxes on the first 80 meter hunt. I hope band conditions will be good with low background noise. I'd really love to work a lot of stations and hand out a ton of pelts. That would be the ultimate in fun!

73 de Larry W2LJ


Instead of jumping on the bands this weekend and getting involved in the fury of the November Sweepstakes, I chose to "re-start" a building project.

I spent Saturday night with a strong light, a good magnifier; and a hot soldering iron working once again on my ATS-3 Sprint QRP radio kit.

This one is a toughie, perhaps the most difficult build I have ever undertaken. This kit is 99% surface mount technology. Just about everything I have put together up to this point has been conventional "through hole" construction.

What makes the job so difficult is the size of the components. Talk about super tiny! Some of these devices are not all that much bigger than the head of a pin; and that's no exaggeration.
Making sure you have the right device; then placing it on the board and then soldering it in place is a time consuming task. It takes a bit of getting used to; but if you have a REALLY, REALLY fine tipped soldering iron, you should do okay. It is very important to handle the devices very, very carefully though. Drop it on the floor; or accidentally sneeze or something; and you are in deep doo-doo. The item in question will be gone forever!

In this case, it is critical to take your time; double check your work and use a lot of Solder Wick to sop up excess solder. Inadvertant short circuits via solder bridges are easy to create if you are not careful!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No, thank you!

This weekend is the ARRL's November Sweepstakes, CW portion. It does my heart good to hear so many signals on the bands. However, for the most part, I will politely say,"No, thank you."

I am not a big contester. I love the QRP Sprints as long as they don't exceed 4 hours in length. I just can't get into the idea of setting up my computer to key my rig and send (basically) "TU UR 599 NJ" or whatever. I have nothing against the folks who are into it and choose to do so. One of my very best friends is a very well qualified and experienced contester. It's just not my cup of tea.

So later on tonight, maybe I'll check out 30 Meters and see if I can scare up a ragchew there. Otherwise I'll probably turn on the TV or maybe pick out a good book to read.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A most pleasant surprise

I came home from an exceptionally busy day at work today, feeling kind of crummy. It's that time of the year for me. When the leaves fall; and gather on the ground only to get wet and moldy, my sinuses go into rebellion. For the past week; I have been suffering from my annual October/November sinus revolt. I won't go into the symptoms; only to say that I'm left feeling worn out and pretty much blech.

However, when I got home there was an envelope waiting for me from the QRP-ARCI. Inside was a certificate for finishing 5th overall and top in New Jersey in the 2006 Hoot Owl Sprint. It was quite unexpected and most appreciated! I'm rarely a finisher towards the top of any of these QRP Sprints. There are so many stations out there that are so much better than my meager setup; and there are so may QRP ops out there who can dance circles around me with one arm tied behind their backs. To receive this certificate was so satisfying! It will definitely get framed and hung upon the shack wall.

So until it gets cold for good; and the mold spores die off; I'll continue to hack, sneeze and blow away until I start feeling better. Little surprises like this, though, make days like today just a little easier to take. Thank you, QRP-ARCI and Jeff Hetherington VA3JFF in particular, for making my day!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bug practice.

I'll admit that for the past month or so, that I've been a "lazy' CW op. Instead of getting on my bug, I have been using the paddles and keyer. As a matter of fact, I really love my Elecraft/Bencher Hexkey paddles. I've got them adjusted so fine that I do not feel any paddle movement at all when I produce Morse Code characters. It's the closest thing that I can get to using a touch keyer without using, well ........ a touch keyer.

Last night I felt a very small pang of guilt for neglecting my Vibroplex Orignal Standard. It sits there looking lonely and underused. So I switched the K2 over to "hand key" mode and plugged the Bug in. I was really surprised because I thought after the layoff that I was going to sound real lousy. Just the opposite occured when I started tossing the finger pieces back and forth. My code actually sounded agreeable (even decent!) to my own ear. As I am by far my own worst critic; it might have even sounded better than decent to fellow hams.

I originally had no idea why the layoff would have allowed me to send such decent sounding code. But looking at it 24 hours later, I think I might have an explanation. Going back to the paddles and keyer for a month got my ear retrained to what "machine perfect" code sounds like. It's not that I don't want any soul or personality in my Morse while using a Bug; it's just that I want to be good enough to the point where I don't send receiving ops screaming into the night with their ears bleeding from trying to decipher terrible sending. Listening to the keyer produced code helped me to send code that sounded almost as good using a mechanical device. In other words, if you know what good is supposed to sound like; then it becomes a bit easier to try and match it.

I ended up having an hour long rachew with a Ham, using the Bug. I have to figure that he was either amazingly polite; or that my sending was good enough where he didn't mind conversing with me for that period of time. In retrospect, my sending must have been good enough; no one's that polite anymore that they would put up with an hour of torture if they didn't have to.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lest We Forget .......

I was saddened to learn of the passing away of a good friend this week. Charlie Laterra, N2LHD has become a Silent Key.

I knew Charlie before I even formally met him. How is that possible? I am not a big 2 Meter repeater guy. I get on occasionally; but 95% of the time I just listen. I remember back in the early 90s listening to Charlie N2LHD on the ETS of NJ (Greenbrook) repeater. Charlie was always involved in QSOs with Al Blasucci W2KOG. Both of these Sons of Italy had some good QSOs on the repeater. In fact, Charlie always had good QSOs on the repeater no matter whom he was speaking with! Charlie was a natural born Ham. He could talk the ears off an elephant; and everyone always loved to talk to Charlie. Charlie was one of those Hams that EVERYBODY knew.

Anyway, I remember listening one day and hearing Charlie tell Al that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer and that he was going into the hospital the following week for a laryngectomy. You could tell that Charlie was devastated. The thought of possibly never being able to talk again was eating him up. So then and there, I decided to send him a QSL card. I wrote something to the effect of, "You don't know me because we've never met. But I hear you all the time on the Greenbrook repeater and I'm sending you my wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery". After the surgery was over; Charlie sent me a "thank you" on a QSL card which hangs on my shack wall to this very day.

Charlie was soon on the air again, using an electric larynx. He learned to talk all over again and could often be found in his truck - steering with one hand and shifting with the other; all the while holding a microphone and yakking away on some repeater. Charlie sold provisions to Italian Delis all around the greater NorthEast. Charlie had more friends on his route than you can shake a stick at.

I formally met Charlie when I was introduced to the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club, by my friend Bob W3BBO. Charlie was one of the pillars of the club. He was quick with a joke and a smile. He was always concerned enough to pull you on the side to ask how you and your family were doing. Charlie genuinely and sincerely liked people.

When ever PARC ran an auction; or got involved in Field Day, Charlie could always be found in the middle of the action. I can't even begin to tell you how many Pasta machines or spaghetti bowls or espresso machines that he donated to be used as door prizes at our yearly auction. And when Field Day came, Charlie was always helping Norman KB2SBB (another SK) to be our field cook. And these two characters knew how to cook. At the zenith of PARC's existance, I think our Field Day efforts became better know for the food than for our operating or our scores.

Charlie was into photography - big time! He was always taking pictures and was proud of his cameras. Since he knew I made my living in the pro photo field; he would always ask me questions about this and that, which lens to use, which flash to buy. I never, ever tired talking with Charlie about photography. He had an infectious enthusiasm that was special. I have a photo that Charlie took. In 1994, a bunch of PARC members took a trip to Dayton Hamvention together. It was Rich AA2KS, Bob W3BBO, Bill W2WK, Rich W2PQ, Charlie N2LHD and Jimmy N2LFI and myself among others. When we stopped to gas up, Charlie pulled us over to the side and snapped a group picture. I wish he had brought along a tripod so he could have put the camera on self timer and gotten into the picture himself. Bob W3BBO gave a copy of the photo in a frame engraved with "Dayton 1994" on it to all of us who went that year. This photo is another prized posession in the shack.

And that year was the best time I ever had at Hamvention - ever! We caravanned from Piscataway, NJ to Dayton, Ohio. Several of us were in Richie AA2KS's brand new Cadillac and we followed Charlie who was driving his Linguini (Lincoln Town Car). I distinctly remember Richie AA2KS making us wipe off our muddy shoes with a towel before he would let us in his brand new car! Those were good times. I also remember that Rich W2PQ, or someone, brought along a cassette of "The Jerky Boys" - we howled all the way to Dayton!

When I met my future wife and kind of strayed away from radio for a bit to make plans to get married, buy a house, start a family; I still managed to catch Charlie from time to time on the repeater. He was always there to say "Hi" and to ask how things were going. Once I moved to South Plainfield, whenever Charlie would see my red Jeep on the road, he'd always give me a honk. Charlie lived by the credo that family and friends were everything. In the end, material possessions were not much of anything. You were rich if you had a lot of friends and family; and love.

Charlie, you were the richest man I know. God bless you and keep you and shine His light upon you. Look down on me from time to time and send a prayer my way if you can. I'm going to miss you.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: I recently ran into Tim Halloran KC2PLK, one of the Hams from the Technician Class that we gave last year. Tim was telling me that at the last ETS of NJ meeting, the discussion of the evening naturally centered around Charlie. It seems that Charlie was out and about his normal sales route in the Philadelphia area. He checked into a hotel for the evening; and was feeling pretty bad. He called "911" from the hotel and was rushed to a local Philadelphia hospital. He was diagnosed as having an anyeurism. He was being prepped for surgery to repair the anyeurism when it gave out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not so new ...... but improved!

Ray Goff, G4FON, has just announced the newest release of his "Koch Trainer" Morse Code tutor software. This release is Version 9.

This is by far the best Morse Code tutor program that I have come across. It is a Windows program that can benefit beginners and veterans alike.

Want to learn the Code? You can take it one or two characters at a time, practicing them until you become comfortable. Then you can add as many as you wish, whenever you wish.

Think of it this way ...... if you learn only two characters per evening, you can learn the entire alphabet in under two weeks! There are so many features to Koch Trainer that if I tired to list them all here; I'm sure I'd forget some. However, some of the neater features are being able to introduce QRM (interference) and QSB (fading) into your practice to make it more "lifelike". You can practice receiving random letter groups, common words, QSOs or callsigns. You can set the practice spped from anywhere from 5 WPM to 70 WPM. You can also save a practice session as an audio file so you can burn it to a CD and listen to it in your car back and forth to work.

Best of all; this is all free! Ray charges nothing for his program; and that my friends, is truly remarkable. You can download it for free at:

I wish I had a personal computer and software like this when I was learning the code. Sure beats cassette tapes!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, October 23, 2006

Where'd everybody go?

I went down to the basement, after tucking in my kids for the night, to fire up the K2 and enjoy some Amateur Radio fellowship.

Nothing there! And I mean nothing!

I must have called CQ on 40 and then 80 Meters for over an hour. Tuning up and down both bands revealed precious little in the way of signals. I looked at the solar conditions on the Web and found no evidence of any disturbances or storms.

If this keeps up; and we don't get more guys on the air on a regular basis; then it won't be any real big surprise when our bands finally get taken away for good.

Use 'em or lose 'em, guys!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall QSO Party

This weekend was the QRP Amateur Radio Club International Fall QSO Party. This was a 36 hour event sponsored by the QRP-ARCI for all QRP ops to work as many other QRP stations as possible within 24 hours. Even though the event ran for 36 hours, any one operator was allowed to operate a maximum of 24 hours.

Of course, that limit is no big disappointment for me; as I come nowhere close to being able to operate for that kind of amount of time!

Priorities, priorities, priorities. As much as I love amateur radio, other things come first. Like my kids, like housework, like yardwork; and the list goes on and on and on. So, in the limited time that I was able to operate, I did surprisingly well for myself. In about three or four hours worth of operating time I ended up working about 75 stations. That really brought up my QSO total as a result of the dip it took from spending time watching baseball these past few weeks!

A few surprises were in store. First was that 40 Meters, which is usually my "go to" band was a big disappointment this time around. A RTTY contest (what else?) wiped the band out on Saturday; and then Illinois QSO Party seemed to dominate the band on Sunday. So this time, the bulk of my contacts came on 80 and 20 Meters. Another pleasant surprise was that 15 Meters was open for a tiny bit on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I heard some activity there; and actually managed to work three or four stations.

The last pleasant surprise was working my friend Bob W3BBO on 40 Meters on Saturday afternoon. Bob was sitting on a frequency, running stations. I responded and he came back to me. He was a good 599; and in fact was 599+. Bob came back to me and told me my signal was quite loud too, which is always nice to hear. Amazing what 5 Watts will do!

All in all, it was a good radio weekend. I was happy for the opportunity to get on and wrack up my QSO total. I'm over 1500 for the year now. It's looking doubtful that I will hit my goal of 2006 QSOs for 2006; but I should do at least as well, or better than last year.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, October 20, 2006

Back in the saddle again

Boy, I haven't been on the air at nights for only about a week during the Mets run through the playoffs. It felt good to get back on again! Both 40 Meters and 80 Meters seemed to be in good shape, though it was hard to tell on 40 Meters. Another RTTY contest is running this weekend; and there were wall to wall RTTY signals almost all the way down to the Extra class CW subsband.

I did manage to work Dan KB6NU for a bit right in the vicinity of 7.030 MHz. It's always good to hook up with Dan for a QSO. This time we spent a little time talking about the World Series. Dan lives in Michigan and the 2006 World Series starts tomorrow night in Detroit. Then we reminisced a bit about the last St. Louis - Detroit World Series in 1968. That was also the year that Denny McClain won 30 games for the Tigers.

After signing with Dan, I popped on over to 80 Meters and heard John Shannon calling CQ as N3A. The NAQCC is running a special event celebrating the 1st year anniversary of the club by running the callsign N3A. If you get a chance, please work N3A, by all means. I might get lucky enough to use the callsign myself later this week.

Lastly I worked Greg W2YYS up in the SKCC area of 80 Meters (translate: on or around 3.720 MHZ in the Novice subband). Greg and I have worked before; about a year and a half ago. We exchanged SKCC numbers and a quick search in Win-EQF revealed that Greg was my 71st SKCC QSO. So, I'm not too far from becoming an SKCC Centurion! I'll have to keep visiting that are of the band, often. I started out using my Vibroplex Original; but switched over to my Nye Speed-X straight key in order to give Greg my SKCC number. I'm still kind of sloppy in sending "4"s via the bug. So there would be no confusion, I switched over to the straight key. Greg was using a straight key that he's had since 1948.

Another neat thing is that Greg lives on Cape Cod, not too far from Wellfleet. Wellfleet is where Marconi had an experimental wireless station setup in his efforts to send a radio signal across the Atlantic. The site is now a National Historical Site, run by the National Park Service. The station ruins are right on the sand dunes, real close to the sea. You can stand on the shore and look out over the ocean and just close your eyes and imagine your HF signal jumping off your antenna to span the briney vastness on it's way around the world. Cool stuff!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Back to radio!

My friend Bob W3BBO sent me an e-mail this morning, titled, "Meanwhile, Back to Radio!". It was Bob's way of offering me some consolation about the Mets losing out to the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League pennant. I appreciate that; and I appreciate the gentle reminder that there ARE indeed good things in life besides baseball.

I've been caught up in the maelstrom of innings, balls, strikes, outs and at-bats the past few weeks. It will be good to get back to the routine of evening QSOs on 40 and 80 meters each night. Also, there are kits to build and projects to finish.

Immediately, however, is the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party which takes place tomorrow. I know I won't be able to put in a substantial effort; but maybe I can get a decent number of QSOs in. There seems to be nothing too, too pressing to be done tomorrow; so maybe I can get a few hour's worth of operating in, here and there scattered throughout the day.

It will be good to get back into the swing of things again.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on Father Moran

If you've read the article I mentioned in my last post; you'll get an idea on how well loved by the Amateur Radio community Father Moran was. This post by Mike Schatzberg W2AJI appeared on the DX News reflector. It's an e-mail that he wrote to the author of that article.
Hello Brooke:

I particularly enjoyed your article about Moran, as he
called himself on the air. Everyone knew he was Father
Moran, but when asked, he would just say "my name is Moran".

While you may remember him from the pile-ups on 15 or
20 meters, I remember hearing his "BREAK" while chatting
with local stations on 15 meters, way back in the sixties.

"Standby breaking station," said I. I then finished my last
thought, and said, "breaker go ahead please".

Then I heard, "This is 9N1 Mickey Mouse", said the voice.
"This is Moran in Katmandu".

I was really stunned, here he was, the best known DX
station in the entire world, breaking into my QSO.
I swallowed hard, and said, "hello Father, how
are you today?" Moran said, "Mike, (God he knew my
name from reading the mail), have you got the newspaper
there with the scores from the weekend football?"

"Sure Father, let me see where it is".

"Tell me how Notre Dame made out on Saturday please".

Well, that was the beginning of many contacts with
Father Moran. I often read the scores to him, and he
always broke in when he heard my signals. My callsign
for 42 years was WB2AJI, and I was operating from
West Orange, New Jersey in the sixties.

To avoid creating pile ups, I always mumbled his callsign.
His signal wasn't very strong as I remember, and I could
almost keep a contact with him a secret for a while, until
the anxious tuner uppers would finally bury Moran's little

Thanks for putting a smile on my face tonight as I read
your article. I remain an active DXer to this day, but
those contacts with Father Moran were really special.


Mike Schatzberg

Thanks Mike, for the cool post. I always enjoy these
"personal" stories. This is part and parcel of what makes
Amateur Radio so great!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not much radio

I have to admit; I have not been on the radio for a few nights now. My first passion, baseball, is taking center stage right now.

But just because I haven't been on the air doesn't mean that I've been ignoring the hobby. I caught this on the DX News e-mail reflector. It's a great story about Father Moran, 9N1MM who operated out of Nepal for many years.

Go to
to read it.

The Run For The Bacon, which ran on Sunday night was a huge success. It's only three days after and already we've got roughly 35 folks who have submitted scores via the Autolog. Maybe we'll top 40 this month, yet!

Things are extrememly busy at work; but it looks like tomorrow will be the last day of Indian Summer. High temps are expected around 73 degrees. Maybe I'll bug out to the parking lot at lunch time and get a QRP session in. If you happen to be on the air; listen for W2LJ on or about 1700 UTC somewhere in the vicinity of 14.058 MHz.

By the way, I'm still looking for a better straight key than what I'm currently using. I'm interested in picking up a Kent straight key. If you know of one available at a decent price; send me an e-mail -

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Don't stick your head in the oven ..... just yet!

Keith Hernandez, perhaps the first baseman the NY Mets ever had, is now a broadcaster in their TV booth on their TV home, Sports Net NY. During a particularly rough patch during the season, when the Mets were swept in a three game series by the Philadelphia Phillies, Keith was heard to say, "Hey Mets fans, don't stick your heads in the oven just yet!" Being an ex-player, Keith understands the long 162 game season better than any of us fans. And he was indeed, right. The Mets righted themselves and went on to complete a 97 win season.

Last night, though, a bunch of us were ready to open the oven doors and turn on the gas. The Mets won Game One of the National League Championship Series and were cruising towards a Game Two win when the vaunted Mets bullpen stuttered and gave away a 6 run lead. The Cardinals eventually won Game Two with a 9-6 score. Then in Game Three, Steve Trachsel, the Mets pitcher lasted less than 2 innings. The Cardinals bats took control, and they gained a 5-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Mets bats were anemic and the Mets lost, looking pathetic all the way.

After so many years of losing, we Mets fans are used to things going bad, and I guess some of us (judging from phone calls I've heard to WFAN radio) were ready to turn on the gas and open the oven door.

But the Mets bats came alive tonight with a vengeance! The young untested and erratic pitcher for the Mets turned in a gem; and the Mets have just won Game 4 by a score of 12-5 !!! The series is now tied at two games apiece. Mets fans have our ace, Tom Glavine, going in the next game, which just might get delayed one day by rain. That would be awesome, as it would give Tom his four full days of rest. Then the series comes back to Shea Stadium, where the fans are terriffic and are truly the "10th man" on the field.

Things are suddenly looking and Mets fans are feeling better. The momentum has swung once again; and hopefully the Mets will have completed dusting themselves off and will get back into the business of winning baseball games again. Six more wins and the NY Mets can be World Series Champions if everything goes just right.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: Instead of watching the game on Fox; I decided to bring the radio down with me into the shack while I joined in the monthly "Run For The Bacon". The game was tied when I sat down; but soon after, the Mets started hitting and went on an offensive roll. In the spirit of true baseball superstition, I guess there's hits down in that metal folding chair I was sitting on! Maybe just maybe, that's where I will spend tomorrow night, listening to the game and pounding out CW while the Met's bats keep pounding out hits.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ruminating on the R&O

It's been a couple of days since the FCC posted their "Report and Order" to changes to the rules of Part 97, the rules which govern Amateur Radio. The thing which sticks out in my mind the most is the increase of the phone band size on both 80 and 40 Meters. It was a sizeable increase; and a lot more expected on 80 Meters than was asked for by the ARRL.

Why would the FCC be so generous with the allocation? I'm thinking it might just be related to another matter before the FCC - one in which they haven't acted upon yet. That would be the much awaited decision regarding the fate of the 5 WPM Morse Code requirement to gain access to HF radio operating privileges.

Imagine the FCC declares that it is no longer necessary to know Morse Code in order to operate on the HF bands. Can you imagine all the Novice and Technician licensees who would instantly be eligible to get on the HF bands and operate? Where are you going to put them all? And you can imagine how many "wanna be" Hams would now be able to get on HF now that they would no longer be "burdened" (my sarcasm) by having to learn Morse code and pass a proficiency test?

I fear the FCC is clearing the forest and is making pasture for the inevitable increase of activity that would occur on the phone bands when and if they eliminate the 5 WPM code requirement. Unfortunately, that is going to put the squeeze on us CW ops. Even though CW is allowed on any part of the Ham bands, there are defacto "CW only" havens that will become smaller and smaller.

Of course, this is all speculation; but sometimes it doesn't take a prognosticator to see the future.

73 de Larry W2LJ