Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Good Evening

I guess I was in a bit of the building mood tonight, and I did some more work on my ATS-3. I have to be the slowest builder in all of QRP-dom! Anyway, I added some resistors to the PCB tonight; and it's coming along nicely. The resistors are going on rather easily.

I did have one big scare, though. As I was emptying some resistors out of the little carrier that they come in, one bulleted out and made like a dive bomber for the floor! Luckily, I spotted it right away and didn't give myself a heart attack. For those of you not familiar with surface mount resistors, these little buggers are about 1/16th by about 1/10th of an inch. They are incredibly tiny! It's no small miracle that I was able to find the resistor right away. I can imagine the hoops I would have to jump through to find a replacement somewhere.

Then, after I turned off the soldering station for the night, I had an interesting QSO with Mike N2VT on 80 Meters. It turns out that Mark is located in Chinatown in Manhattan! It's hard for me to imagine a Ham station in Manhattan. Mike was using a Yaesu FT-857 to an inverted Vee. I can only imagine that he must have had it on the rooftop of some building. I don't think that there are a lot of backyards in Manhattan!

When Mike found out that I was using a K2, he had a lot of questions. He told me that he was tempted at one time to purchase a K2; but now he's thinking more along the lines of maybe a KX1. If my experience is typical, whichever Elecraft radio Mike buys; he's in for a treat. Fun to build and even more fun to use!

73 de Larry W2LJ

February Poll Results

The poll for February on my Website was:

"How much of the time do you use CW?"

Here's the talley:

100% - I was born with a key in my hand! - 11 votes or 57.89% of the vote.
75% - I love CW but dabble with other modes. - 7 votes or 36.84% of the vote.
50% - I like CW just as any other mode! - 1 vote or 5.26% of the vote
25% - I prefer talking to pounding brass. - 0 votes, 0%
0% - Who was Morris and is his code like the DaVinci Code? - 0 votes, 0%

Only 19 votes last month as opposed to over 50 last month. Hmmmmm ...... okay, maybe it wasn't as popular a question as I thought it would be. For March, I'll do something with antennas.

I'm glad to see that 100% users of CW made a strong showing in the poll, regardless!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Spring must be close!

Last night was a good one in the 80 Meter Foxhunt. I managed to nab both pelts. Jerry N9AW and Dave N1IX are both top caliber QRP operators; so it was a relatively easy night.

But the noise that's making its comeback on 80 Meters! Wow! You can tell that Spring, with its abundance of unsettled weather and thunderstorms is on the way back. The static crashes were bad enough at times to make me wince as I was attempting to break the pile-ups. I'm glad I did not have my headphones on last night.

The Winter Foxhunt season is rapidly coming to a close. There are only about three weeks left after this week. As always, there will be some "Foxhunt Letdown" after the season is over. Undoubtedly, there will be a Summer season of 20 Meter hunts; but for whatever reason, it's not quite the same.

The Foxes on 80 and 40 Meters deserve a great big hand. Contending with the bands during this sunspot lull has been no piece of cake, by any stretch of the imagination. Sitting there and faithfully calling CQ while trying to dig out callsigns from a very unforgiving ionosphere can be a tedious job. Fortunately for us Hounds, we've had a bumper crop of tenacious and able bodied QRP operators who endured on our behalf. To call them the "Cream of the Crop" is no exaggeration - by any means! Thanks to all the Foxes and all the Hounds who were willing to chase the quarry!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, February 23, 2007

A New Day

The day is here. February 23rd, 2007. A day to mark in Amateur Radio history. The day that knowledge of the Morse Code as a requirement to earn an Amateur Radio license has ended. The page has been turned.

I do not feel sad because I feel that Amateur Radio is going to change in any big way. I doubt that it will. I do not fear that the bands where I spend my time will degenerate into a CB kind of cesspool. I do not predict the end of Amateur Radio as we know it and I do not predict the demise of CW as a mode, in fact I remain optimistic for the future.

I feel sorrow simply at the passing of a tradition. There are exceptions; but for the most part every Amateur Radio operator in the USA (and the world) who has spent any time on the HF bands all have had that common bond. I feel sorrow for the operators who will never even try Morse Code, thinking it too difficult; and at the same time depriving themselves a world of fun and excitement.

To mark the event, here are some posting that have appeared on the Internet today. They represent all points of view.

From KC5WA:

"The end of an era. The removal of the code proficiency requirement to obtain an amateur license. I struggled with learning the code for 5+ years to get to the 5wpm and even longer to obtain that coveted 13wpm and my general and advanced class tickets. Then to drive for 5 hours one way to take the exam only to fail it twice. Still I made it. NOW the ARRL is celebrating the end of the era. HORSE FEATHERS. CW is still my preferred mode of operation even if I have lost a lot of those abilities due to illnesses. The music that is CW is
still heard in my shack and will be until I am unable to turn on my K2 OR KX1. I hate to say it this but I really believe a time is coming when all the digital equipment will be useless as an old rusty horse shoe and it will be up to those who can utilize CW. I for one will not celebrate the end of an era. I will mourn it's passing and continue to use CW with my limited abilities until they put my urn in the ground."

From N9PUZ:

"The really exciting QSOs are yet to come. We'll get to work OPs who
were never forced to learn CW to get their licenses. They just really wanted to do it."

From N6VL:

I just finished a QSO with Darrel, W7GXL, in Buckeye, AZ. I did not realize it but I signed off just as the new rules kicked in. I believe 9:01 PM in CA is 12:01 AM ET. Darrel and I were on 7111 kHZ. We were both using straight keys.

I kinda like that part of 40 meters. It is good to see it getting use as an unofficial slower speed CW sub-band. There is plenty of room between the broadcast heterodynes. I heard Darrel on a little earlier working a station up in WA state. They were just below 7120 and had to sign because of QRM. It turned out to be the BCC's lower sideband by all indications.

Anyway I kind of like the irony of working CW on 40 just as the rules change.

From N1PDP:

" I am sorry to see the no code rule, as I have a hard time with code,
but I am still going to work on the code."

From KE5MMT:

" That is "exactly" my position on Morse. I only have three letters, the numbers and prosigns to go. I'm going to do a paper upgrade tomorrow. I have NO intention of putting the code aside. The first thing I did after passing Element 2 and 3 was to apply for FISTS membership and I'm proud to say that I'm now FISTS 12991. I can't wait to do my first CW QSO."

From AB8XA:

"With all due respect, I see no end of any era here, and nothing to say good-bye to or be bittersweet about.

As in years past, those who want to use code will, and those who don't won't, whether they had to learn just enough to pass a test or not.

As in years past, hams will be exposed to code on-the-air and it will continue to enchant some and not others. The difference is now code won't have the negative association of testing as one's first exposure.

As in years past, human copy of CW will get distant contacts phone or computer CW readers won't. Some new hams will continue to be enticed to learn it for that reason.

As in years past, there will be new hams, including some in the Extra bands, who can't maintain a 5 wpm QSO, whether they passed a copying test at that speed or not.

As in years past, there will be experienced ops who will QRS to accommodate them, just as there will be some who won't.

The era of code is alive and well, and can coexist with any new eras. As I see it, the glass is half full, not half empty."

From AD6YU:

Welcome to the Brave New World, February 23, 2007! My history: Novice and Technician (5 WPM), 1959; General (13 WPM), 1960 and Advanced, 1977; Extra, 2001.

In 1960, Generals had "all amateur radio
privileges" on all bands; Extras were 20 WPM, and had to have 2 years experience as a General or Advanced (or old Class A), but had no more operating privileges than a General--just a fancy blue FCC diploma-type license, the "Ph.D" of ham radio.

After Charlie made the
Extra 5 WPM in 2000, I thought: "Geez, here I am at 13 WPM and I don't have use of all the CW sub-bands; some newbie comes in at 5 WPM, and gets everything."

So, after taking the Advanced and Extra written
tests in 1977 and 2001, more than 40 years and 2 exams later I'm just right back to where I started from! And get this: an Advanced with 13 WPM **STILL** doesn't have use of all the CW sub-bands, whereas a newbie no-code Extra will get everything! All because a few moss-backs said to Charlie, "Well, **I** had to pass old elements 4A **and** 4B, whereas the Advanceds only passed 4A." Charlie bought the argument, so now upgrades from Advanced to Extra have to pass the combined new element 4 (A and B together).

So, have fun studying about elliptical
satellite orbiting near the equator, Smith Charts, phased verticals, and effective radiated power--stuff you use every time you're on the air, LOL.

Incentive licensing? Sure. The Brave New World is for
selling more books and study guides, selling more equipment (Are you listening, Kenwood, Yaesu, and Icom?), and making the VECs seem even more self-important than they already are. But the sun is shining today. Be happy, and smile!"


So as you can see - there all kinds of points of view out there.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Code Bashers ...... Can't stand 'em!

The Morse Code requirement as it pertains to obtaining an Amateur Radio license disappears on Friday. As an avid user and proponent of Morse Code and Amateur Radio, this saddens me. Personally, I feel like the FCC has ripped the heart and soul of the Service from its rightful place. To me, the Morse Code and CW are more than a mode of operation; they are a tradition. A tradition that keeps us close to our past and our roots. CW and the code ARE Amateur Radio. They are part and parcel of what separates us from the other radio services. But, time marches on and "progress" is made. The FCC has determined that the Morse Code requirement is an "undue burden" to the advancement of the Service. So that's it. The changes have been made and there's nothing I can do about it.

What ticks me off and yanks my chain, are the people who are celebrating this as the "death" of Morse Code and CW. Take for instance the letter that appears in the March 2007 issue of QST. This letter is written by a gentleman from New Mexico who holds a degree; a Doctor of Pharmacy. In the letter, he writes:

"Personally, I applaud the FCC's action regarding the elimination of the code requirement. For all the wondrous attributes of CW, a relative minority of hams utilize this (antiquated) mode of operation."

He goes on to say further in the letter after extolling and bragging of his educational background,

"I have been licensed as a "no code" Tech for 16 years. I just purchased a new HF rig; and you can bet by February I will have upgraded to General (perhaps even Extra). This change has rekindled my interest in ham radio. I have always been interested in the theory. The code requirement served as an unnecessary barrier to expanding my interest and involvement in Amateur Radio. Proficiency with Morse code does little to support the very reason for amateur operation to exist."

Very good, Doctor! I have several problems with these excerpts from your letter.

1) Prove to me that the number of Hams in the United States who use and enjoy Morse Code and CW are a minority. Please show me your statistical analysis. And could you please tell me what your definition of a "minority" is. 49 percent? 40 percent? 30 percent?
20 percent? 10 percent?

2) If you're going to come off as an expert on the subject; and you're going to try and "wow" me with your logical argument; then please stop using pejorative terms such as "antiquated". It's trite.

3) Unless you take a code exam, you are NOT going to upgrade your license to General or (perhaps even!) Extra. Until February 23rd, you still need to take Element 1 to qualify for those license classes. Get your facts straight ..... again.

4) No one has ever stated that proficiency in Morse Code has anything to do with the reason that Amateur Radio exists.

6) The gentleman states that he holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. A little searching on the internet has revealed that this learned man had to study and master these subjects:

Principles of Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
General Pathology

and a whole lot more. The bottom line is that this gentleman is obviously quite intelligent and smart. He's dedicated and he knows his craft.

And you expect me to believe that he couldn't pass a 5 WPM code test? That it was a "barrier"?

Please ....... I may have been born at night; but it wasn't last night.

If you don't like code, then just say it. "I don't like code and I don't want to use CW". Be honest with yourself. Trying to come off that the Amateur Radio Service is going to be lightyears better because a licensing requirement is disappearing doesn't pass the smell test, as far as I'm concerned.

Morse Code and CW as a mode in the Amateur Radio Service will survive and perhaps even flourish. The reports of its death are an exaggeration. (Thank you, Mark Twain.) But please folks, don't try to insult my intelligence with vapid arguments and suppositions.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


As seen on the ARRL Website - the following survey:

ARRLWeb Survey

Are you or your club doing anything special to welcome new or upgraded hams after Morse code testing officially ends next Friday?

A> Yes, I'll be inviting hams to my station
B> My club is planning a "welcome" event
C> No

Has it come to this? Has it really come to this? I haven't seen the League this giddy about anything since the announcement of the WARC bands.

BTW - So far, the "No" choice leads with 83% of the vote as of this moment. Now before you all get your undies in a knot, that doesn't mean that 83% of the Hams responding are crusty old curmudgeons who are preparing for Doomsday. I think it's just a majority of existing Hams saying, "OK, it just got easier. If you want a license, go for it. If you don't, then don't". One thing for sure, though ..... there's no excuses now. Although I'm sure somebody will come up with a new one.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, February 19, 2007

A new QRP-ARCI contest!

Jeff Hetherington VA3JFF the Contest Manager for QRP-ARCI posted today about a new contest that will make its debut this March. This one involves the trading of Maidenhead Grid Squares as part of the exchange. Here's the straight skinny:


1500Z to 1800Z on 18 March 2007.


HF CW only.


Members send: RST, Grid Square, ARCI member number
Non-Members send: RST, Grid Square, Power Out

QSO Points:

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


Grid Square total for all bands. The same station may
be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC


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


160m 1810 kHz
80m 3560 kHz
40m 7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants)
20m 14060 kHz
15m 21060 kHz
10m 28060 kHz


If you are operating PORTABLE using battery power AND
a temporary antenna, add 5000 points to your final
score. (You can NOT be at your shack operating from
battery power using your home station antenna to
qualify for this bonus.) This is to help level the
playing field for contesters who work from the field
against contest stations with 5 element yagis at 70


Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x Grid
Squares (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier +
Bonus Points


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.

Email Log Submission:

Submit Logs in plain text format along with a summary
stating your Callsign, Entry Category, Actual Power
and Station Description along with score calculation
to on or before 5 March 2006.

Snail mail Log Submission:

Submit Logs along with a summary stating your
Callsign, Entry Category, Actual Power and Station
Description along with score calculation to:

QRP-ARCI Grid Square Sprint
c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF
139 Elizabeth St. W.
Welland, Ontario
Canada L3C 4M3

Entries must be postmarked on or before 18 April 2007.


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


Will be awarded to the top scoring entrant in each
category. Certificates may be awarded for 2nd and 3rd
place if entries are sufficient in a category.

Looks like another good one. Thanks, QRP-ARCI !

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 18, 2007

ARRL DX Contest weekend

Wow! Wall to wall CW on all the (non-WARC) bands! It was so good to hear that! I'm not a serious contester by any means; but these major DX contest weekends are always fun. I didn't have a lot of time it spend; but the time I did put in gave me a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction. And once again, I got to see firsthand that QRP does work!

I had two goals for the weekend. One was to work a Hawaiian station, the other to work an Alaskan station; as well as picking up a few new countries, if possible. I ended up working two Hawaiian stations; but Alaska was a bust. I thought I had a good shot of working KL1V down at the bottom of 20 Meters this afternoon; but the propagation path wasn't strong enough for QRP. I heard him work some W2s and W3s; but I'm sure those guys were either QRO; or had better antennas than me!

Here are some of the stations I ended up working, QRP of course. IK4ZGO, TO6M, FS6KA, VP9/W6PH, CO8ZZ, PR7AB, PT7AG, C6AKQ, EF8M, V31TP, WP2Z, KH7X, HP1XX, V31JP, EA8/OH4NL, NH6P, C6AWL, PX2A, OM7M, P40W, YR9P, 8P9NX, F2DX, AND IR2X among others.

In addition for the chance to work some DX, the weekend was great high speed code practice! I really had to concentrate at times to get some calls that were being sent in the 40 WPM range. I'm guessing that at least some of those high speed guys were using either computers or programmable keyers; because in one instance I was asked to repeat my state and the guy ended up sending manually. The difference in fists between the exchange and the request for the repeat were like night and day! And the code speed used for the repeat request was way slower, too! It gave me a good chuckle.

I guess I will never end up being a serious contester as I can't imagine leaving all of that work to be done by a computer. Maybe if I got into it seriously, I would make use of that to relieve some of the tedium; but somehow it doesn't seem just quite right to me.

If I remember correctly, the next big CW DX contest will be held by CQ Magazine and is sometime in May.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A bargain!

A bargain! How many times do you see a good bargain anymore? Have I got a bargain for you! Well, okay, I don't have a bargain; but Doug Hendricks KI6DS has a bargain for you!

Yesterday, Doug introduced through his company, QRPKits, a new line of QRP transceivers. These are the DC40A, the DC30A and the DC20A, for 40, 30 and 20 Meters respectively. The kits were designed by Steve Weber KJ1DV, the QRP Hall of Famer. The kit is of "through hole" construction (no SMD) on a quality silk screened circuit board. You get about 1 Watt output when you run it on 13.5 Volts. You can get more info from

Today, Chuck Carpenter W5USJ was running one in beacon mode on 14.062 MHz for a good part of the day. Chuck reported running the 1 Watt to a Butternut vertical antenna from his home QTH in Texas; and was soliciting reception reports via QRP-L(s). Keeping an eye on the e-mail reflectors, I saw he was getting decent reports from all over the country.

When I got home from work, I ran downstairs and flipped the K2 on. Sure as sugar, dialing in 14.062 MHz brought in the beacon. It was an honest 449 here at peaks between periods of QSB. This little guy was working well! How can you go wrong with a transceiver that's only going to set you back 35 bucks! And from the pictures, it looks like a good first time construction project if you want to get your feet wet in the world of kit building.

Thanks Doug and Steve - looks like another winner!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: This morning , on the QRP e-mail reflectors, there was a post by Robert, F5UL. He copied Chuck's beacon message all the way in France! Not bad for 1 Watt from North East Texas. Depending upon the exact power output that Chuck had going, it's roughly 5132 Miles Per Watt!

Looking for 1K MPW ????

Are you looking to finally make your "1000 Miles Per Watt" Award? This coming weekend is an excellent opportunity!

This weekend the ARRL is CW portion of the ARRL International DX Contest. The bands will be buzzing with all kinds of DX this coming weekend! Last year, I used this contest as an opportunity to see how easy it would be to break the "1000 Miles Per Watt" QRP benchmark. I was amazed with my results. I set the K2 at 1 Watt out to make it easy - no division required! Within a half an hour from the time I had gotten on the air, I had several (10 or more) Europeans in the log - all of them more than 1000 Miles away.

This year, in addition to looking for new countries, I think I will play around with setting the K2 for 500 milliWatts out. The thing to remember (and be extremely grateful for) is that a lot of these monster DX contest stations have awe inspiring antenna farms. If these guys listened carefully enough, they could probably hear a cricket chirp under a rock at the bottom of a pond.
And there's points for them if they dig out your signal!

While I don't mean to torture anyone and make their ears bleed, it's interesting to see how many guys you can work in just a few tries. If they pick up the signal rather quickly, then that means they're hearing you rather decently. If you call and call and call; and all you get is "QRZ?" then please move on to someone else or boost your power a bit - maybe to the "full gallon" QRP 5 Watts. Don't make anyone knock their heads against the wall just to give yourself an ego kick. It's not the gentlemanly thing to do.

The other thing I'm considering trying is to see how many bands I can get 1KMPW this weekend. John Sielke W2AGN did that one year and earned himself a really nice 1KMPW certificate from QRP-ARCI to commemorate the feat. 1KMPW on 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 Meters on one award would be so cool! Might have to wait for the sunspots to come back to achieve that, though.

See you in the frenzy this weekend!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, February 12, 2007

Must be Global Warming

For the last few weeks, we have been flirting with temperatures around Zero; with wind chills well below Zero. Tomorrow into Wednesday, we're expecting a "wintry mix" with snow, freezing rain and whatever.

Punxsatawney Phil predicted an early Spring, nonetheless. And yesterday there were four Robins frolicking around in our back yard.

Must be Global Warming.

73 de Larry W2LJ

The League is going all out!

Wow! The ARRL is pulling out all of the stops! Pardon my French; but the folks up in Newington seem to be positively orgasmic about the "new rules" that go into effect on February 23rd, with the elimination of the Morse Code requirement.

The ARRL is SO pumped that they will staff HQ with Volunteer Examiners to give examinations before and after the rules change. Also ..... get this ...... they will be putting W1AW on the air as a Special Event Station to commemorate the event! The special event will start up on 12:01 AM on the 23rd and will stay on the air as long as demand and propagation dictate. Then, on both Saturday and Sunday, the station will be on the air from 10:00 AM untill 5:00 PM.

"Welcome Weekend" is what it is being called. Okay, I understand that this is history in the making. I understand that to many people, this is an event that was a long time in coming. I also understand that this has the potential to swell the ranks of amateurs in the United States. But as a dedicated CW op, there's still a part of me that's bothered by this. And I'm going to leave it at that. If I say anymore, I'm sure I'll be accused of being an "old fart" who is negative, behind the times and is against "progress" and newcomers. That couldn't be further from the truth; but that's how it would be perceived, I am sure.

So "welcome" to all the new Generals who will come on to HF! I have one word of advice for all of you. After the novelty of SSB wears off; and it will, sooner for some and later for others ..... pick up a straight key and come on down to the CW portion of the bands. We'll be waiting for you with open arms. Discover the fun that Morse Code is. I GUARANTEE (bold face and capitals for emphasis!) that there will be a number of you that will hit yourselves on the forehead (ala' V-8) and ask yourselves "Why didn't I try this before?". It's not as hard as you talked yourself into thinking it was!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I bagged a new country today. I worked a Ham in Kenya; and this is the first time I've ever worked Kenya, either QRP or QRO! I was scanning the bottom of 20 Meters and heard a station working others quite rapidly. He was sending fast! He had to be going up past 30 WPM and the callsign was a blur. All I could tell was that he was NOT a US station!

So I followed the formula WFWL, or "Work First, Worry Later". After about the third call , he came back to me. I gave him a customary DX "599 TU" and before I knew it, he had acknowledged our brief QSO and was on to the next station.

Now to figure out who I had just worked! Fortunately, the band was open and his signal was not degrading. I was able to listen long enough to make out that it was 5Z4/9A3A. 5Z4 ???? Where's that? A quick click of the mouse to start up DX Atlas and I was able to find out that 5Z4 is Kenya! Hot dog!

He slowed down a bit in a few minutes to have a brief chat with the station he was currently working. Slowed down to maybe 28 wpm or so! Anyway, I was able to make out that his name was Ivo and that his QTH was Nairobi. I don't think he mentioned what rig he was using; but he did say he was running 800 Watts into a 3 Element SteppIR antenna.

I'm not a big DX Hound by any means. I'm sure I'll never make the DXCC Honor Roll like my friend Bob, W3BBO. But when I hear a new one, it's a nice feeling to work them, especially QRP. A rough guesstimate is about 7,200 miles; or about 1,440 miles per watt. I will check it out for sure, later.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's Note: Using the program DX Atlas, I was able to determine that the Great Circle distance between South Plainfield, NJ and Nairobi, Kenya is 7380 miles. At 5 Watts. that ends up being 1,476 miles per Watt.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Samuel Clemens would be proud!

As Samuel Clemens, better know as Mark Twain, put it: "The report of my death was an exaggeration!"

And so it would seem, the same holds true for Morse Code; and the mode by which it is transmitted - CW. Even though the Morse Code haters and the NCIers would have you believe otherwise; the proof seems to be in the pudding:

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, February 08, 2007


This afternoon, Anna Nicole Smith passed away in Florida, at the age of 39. The attention that the media is giving this is amazing! I don't think Gerald Ford got this much attention back when he passed away and he was a former President!

Other than being a pretty, well-endowed blond, is there anything that has she done to deserve the notoriety and attention? I guess it's the American passion for celebrity. As long as you have good looks and a penchant for publicity, you've got it made in this country. Meanwhile, the hard work of millions goes unnoticed and taken for granted. Sheesh! But in any event, may God bless her and bid her into Heaven. It seemed like she didn't have the best of lives on this earth. May she rest in peace.

In the back of my mind, however, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the diet product she was endorsing, Trim Spa, had something to do with her death. I remain skeptical about over the counter diet formulas. I think they end up doing more damage to your heart (in the long run) than any benefit they might have in helping you lose weight. A lot of these "diet formulas" use huge amounts of caffeine to boost the metabolism. I can't see how it could be a good thing to pop a few pills and then have your heart beating at a rate of about 1000 MPH.

Back to Amateur Radio. I got a pleasant surprise for a change and actually bagged both Foxes in the 40 Meter Foxhunt tonight. Todd N9NE was easy. He always has a superb signal into NJ and for some reason I seem to have an RF pipeline into Wisconsin. The other Fox, Mark K2QO up near Buffalo, NY was a complete surprise! I thought that Buffalo to South Plainfield would be way too close for 40 Meters, considering the band has been long for what seems like forever. After working Todd, I decided to at least go and listen to the pack of Hounds trying to work Mark. They were easy enough to find.

As I was listening to the Hounds take their turns, I started hearing the station they were working. Wow! It seemed too good to be true! Then out of ESP-land, Mark's signal rose to a good 559 and stayed there for a while. I bagged him on my second try; and it was a good thing as five to ten minutes later he was back into oblivion.

I was perusing through the Web today and was cruising through Ten Tec's site. Boy, the more I look at the Jupiter, the more I like that radio! If I were to ever get another QRO rig, I sure wouldn't mind having that one. Maybe it's a good time to start saving nickels, dimes and quarters again. Geez, if I managed to put $20 aside a week; I could have enough saved in just under two years to buy one of these. Maybe I should consider buying lottery tickets, too!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

These are so cool!

Take a look at these two photos at this URL:

They appear to be photos of the last Shuttle launch as seen by cameras aboard one of the military jets that are assigned as "chase planes" to track the Shuttle launches.

By the way, here's a link to information about the chase planes:

Thank you, Chris Trask, for posting this to QRP-L.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Hendricks QRP Kits

I suppose there are a few QRPers out there who might not know .......

Doug Hendricks KI6DS of NorCal QRP Club fame has his own Web based business going. It's called "Hendricks QRP Kits" and Doug offers a lot of neat kits at really super reasonable prices.
In fact, Doug just introduced a new kit yesterday, the SLT Tuner. This tuner is designed to match longwire antennas and it uses an "L network" design. The price, $35.00 plus S&H, is hard to beat.

Doug offers other goodies, including a kit for a software defined radio, too - the FireFly SDR. Do yourself a favor and at least go visit his sight:

Don't blame me if you find yourself dropping a few bucks there! But I think I can guarantee that if you do; you'll be pleased with what you've acquired!

73 de Larry W2LJ


As a child of the 60s, I grew up with the "Space Race". I spent countless hours watching and reading about every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo manned space mission. So when I read this on QRP-L today, I was immediately tantalized! Count on Paul Harden NA5N to post about another fascinating subject on QRP-L. This appeared today about the Voyager space probes:

"The last update on the JPL website on the Voyager I and II status is:
This was the status in late 2006. Just add a few million miles or so to the numbers for Feb. 2007 :-) It was nuke-powered, with the small nuclear reactor mounted on the end of a long boom to get it away from the instrument package. Both are still being received. Signals are so weak, it requires a very slow data rate to send any useful information, such that it's not doing much science except sending a beacon and a particle detector count at most times.

Signals are monitored by JPL Goldstone and other facilities, and by the DSN (Deep Space Network) for special experiments. Last I heard, it takes about 30 hours to get a message to voyager. Thus, to send a signal to turn on a science instrument, wait for the answer, collect some data, then turn things off as quick as possible to save power takes DAYS. This is seldom done.

The next hopeful job of Voyager will be the day the signal strength suddenly changes, followed by a sudden increase in particle count, then a dramatic drop in the particle count. This would be when Voyager passes through the boundary of the heliopause. The heliosphere is the giant envelope that surrounds our solar system, and the heliopause boundary is the "wall" where all the particles from our sun suddenly stop moving as they reach equilibrium from the pressure coming towards us from the rest of the universe. Scientists have absolutely no idea how far the influence of our sun extends. If either Voyager manages to pass through the heliopause, it would be a major scientific discovery.

It is my understanding that Voyager receives almost no funding. Apparently, a couple of JPL workers check the beacon signal strength plots about once a week to ensure we're still receiving it. This would imply some antenna somewhere monitors it constantly, which I don't even think is the case.

We have a couple of people visiting next week from JPL. If I see them, I will ask them for details, as I'm curious myself. Regardless, Voyager I and II clearly have the record for "miles per watt," and clearly QRPpppp. And perhaps the record for the longest operating nuclear reactor without a fast scram recovery (sorry - a little OT nuke humor).

72, Paul NA5N"

Once again, many thanks, Paul! A combination of my two my favorite subjects - amateur radio and the space program. This was definitely much better reading than the sordid details of an astronaut love triangle.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, February 05, 2007

My own version of FYBO

As I type this, it is 10 degrees outside and it is windy as heck. I stepped outside before just to check on things. A wind gust caught my front storm door and caused it to swing open. I nearly messed my pants thinking someone was trying to get inside the house. I stepped outside with a flashlight just to make sure no one was hanging around that should not have been. No one was; but I was greeted by a nasty gust of wind. It went right through me; chilling me to the bone. I can't wait for Spring! I hate going outside to be greeted by cold wind causing massive face pain where my sinus cavities are.

Tonight was the Spartan Sprint. Both 80 and 40 Meters had fierce local QRN on both bands for the first hour. I ended up watching "24" while waiting for whatever neighbor to turn off whatever appliance was causing the racket. When I resumed my post behind the K2 at a few minutes past 10:00 PM; all was relatively quiet. In the last 40 minutes of the contest I managed to make about 14 QSOs. Nothing to write home about; but they brought my QSO total for 2007 to 192 so far.

But, it was kind of like my own version of FYBO - indoor style! The temperature down in the basement was 58 degrees. It's normally around 63 or 64 degrees down there during the winter; but when it gets this cold outside, the temperature drops another few degrees. I had on a long sleeved T-shirt, a sweatshirt and a fleece sweater on top of that. I was pretty toasty except after a bit, my feet started feeling pretty cold.

Back when I lived in East Brunswick, before I got married, my parent's house had an oil burner that fired up a water boiler for steam heat. That baby was old and inefficient, I'm sure; but it kept the basement bearably warm during the winter! And the radiators would stay warm for a long time after the furnace shut off! In my house I have a "modern" gas fired, forced hot air heating system. It doesn't do anything to keep the basement warm; and the dry heat plays havoc with my sinuses!

Now that's what I call progress!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, February 03, 2007

So ........ I'm a wimp!

Okay, so I'm a wimp ....... I'll be the first one to admit it.

Today is FYBO; or as QRPers know it better, Freeze Your Butt Off. This is an annual contest held by the AzQRPions. The idea? Simple. Go outside in the dead of winter, set up your portable QRP station and operate.

However, today in Central NJ, we're in the midst of an outbreak of Arctic air. After enjoying a relatively mild winter so far, today it is in the low 20s with wind chills in the teens. I really had intentions of setting up the K1 and PAC-12 antenna in the backyard and operating for an hour or two. Really!

But this is too much for me. I know there are some of my QRP brethren who will laugh at my unwillingness and scoff that it really isn't that cold here; but for me this is the pits. I'm sitting in the house with a long sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt and fleece sweater on. And I still can't get to feeling warm! I hate the cold. Let me repeat that. I HATE THE COLD!

Now, the AzQRPions hold an event on the opposite side of the scale, the summertime "Bubba" event. Now that I can operate with no problem. The 90s and higher I have no problem with. It's 100 outside? No problem! Give me a shady spot some ice water and I'm golden! I'll operate all day in conditions like that! But this, this is unbearable for me.

Today is for staying indoors and sitting by the fire, drinking lots of hot tea. No outside radio for W2LJ today.

73 de Larry W2LJ