Saturday, June 30, 2007

A day out in the field

From the post right below this one, you've undoubtedly read the notice that my friend Bob W3BBO; and two of his buddies were headed out to the field today, to do some QRPing in the great outdoors.

As you can see in the photo above, of Neal W3CUV, they actually did hit the trail; and from an e-mail that Bob sent me, they had a wonderful time!

" Hi Larry,
Just got home a bit ago and took a shower. Whew! It got warm and the gnats were driving me crazy. I put some repellent on, but they seemed to be everywhere. You'd be proud of me, I was very careful in the sun but got a great sunburn on the back of my neck! Reminds me of my Piscataway FD pictures. Hi.

Otherwise, it was a great day and fun was had by all. We made a half dozen contacts, mostly on 40 meters. 20 Meters yielded one QSO and 30 meters was a complete bust! So radio was a bit disappointing, but we enjoyed our outing. I'm enclosing a picture of Neal operating his MFJ 40 meter QRP radio. Before Dave and I left Neal and headed back to Erie, we took the short trail (1.1 mile) and I got a picture of Dave and Neal. Then as we said goodbye, a picture of Neal before he disappeared into the deep woods!

He just called me on his cellphone and I listened for him on 40 meters, but nothing heard, we are just too close for 40 meters. He was in his tent and settling in for the night. Hope he makes some contacts and has a safe hike.

73 de Bob W3BBO"

I love stories like this! There is nothing better than getting outside and sitting under the shade of some trees while playing radio! QRP may not have been designed with this in mind; but it sure fits "hand in glove" with outdoor operating!

If you've never tried it before; then I heartily recommend it. It doesn't have to be a backpack expedition to Timbuktu. either. Unhook your QRP gear from your main antenna, pack a hunk of wire and a battery and head off to your local park. A whole new facet of Amateur Radio awaits you.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wilderness Alert

Keep an ear open for my friend Bob W3BBO who will be out in the field this Friday:

Wilderness Alert

Hearts Content Recreation Area

Location: Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

Dates: June 29, 2007

Time: 1400 UTC to 1900 UTC

Bands: 20 - 30 - 40 Meters (near QRP calling Frequencies)

Modes: CW

Callsigns: W3BBO - W3CUV - KD3EM

A day outing down to the deep woods in Warren County. As the brochure states: Hearts Content National Scenic Area, a lovely, old growth, remnant timber stand, is located next to the picnic area. Here, whispering the secrets of the centuries, stand 300 to 400 year old white pine, hemlock, and beech trees.

Watch for us and hope the bands cooperate.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Enjoying lunchtime

With the "new" job; I get an hour for lunch. This is great because I've found a park that's all of about 5 minutes away from the building by car. That leaves me plenty of time to operate; and plenty of time to set up the PAC-12. I've been using the PAC-12 for the past week; and the results have been very gratifying.

Yesterday, I worked Pierre VE2PID up in Quebec. Today, I had the fortune to work Robin WA4NLF in New London, NC. Robin was a solid 599 into New Jersey. He was running a Ten-Tec Paragon into an Inverted Vee. I was very happy to receive a 579 report from Robin.

Robin is 50 years old and got his ticket as a High School student back in 1975. That's almost the same story as me! I'm the same age as Robin; but I got my ticket three years later in 1978.

We spent our time together telling each other how we got started in radio; and before I knew it, 20 minutes had flown by! Not a super long ragchew by any stretch of the imagination; but not bad for a lunch time QSO. The PAC-12 worked flawlessly; which was nice to see. Today I set up the commercial version that I had purchased from Mike W1MT last winter. Not only does the commercial version have cosmetic appeal that my homebrewed version doesn't; but it also has the multi-band coil. All I have to do is tap the coil at the point where I get maximum band noise and the internal tuner in the K1 does the rest! And when I want to change bands; all I have to do is change the tap position, rather than change the entire coil. Much faster and easier!

During the QSO, two curious park workers came by to see what I was doing. I explained to them that I'm a Ham and that I was talking with a guy in North Carolina. They mentioned that they have a colleague who is a Ham; and that they were going to tell him about me. I'll bet I get a visitor soon - probably to make sure I'm not a terrorist or spy or something!

Even though it was hot (about 93 degrees) with a ton of humidity; it made for a pleasant day. Tomorrow is supposed to be about pretty much the same weather-wise. Hope I have the same amount of success tomorrow!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, June 25, 2007

QRP Bashers - unite!

There's another QRP thread on e-Ham. Of course, this brings out the QRP bashers. Here are some comments that really make me chuckle; and just goes to show there are a lot of Hams out there with provincial attitudes that just "don't get it".

From N4DSP:

"To each his own but for me Life is too short for qrp."

Now THAT'S original!

From W3TUA:

"QSO's are few and far between in most QRP setups so you won't get your heart rate racing anytime soon. It's perfect for the faint of heart. ;-)

I tried QRP for a few years. When the opportunity arose, I bought some nicer 100-watt transceivers, good antennas, and a KW amplifier. My conclusion is that you can knock down a wall with a hammer but a wrecking ball brings better results."

He tried QRP for a few years? Geez, in my last three years of operating, which has been 100% QRP, I've made over 4000 QSOs. I wonder what his problem is?

From K5UJ:

"I knew this would wind up as a QRP v. QRO thing before I even read the article. I'm not going to bash QRP. You want to operate QRP, be my guest and have at it, all QRP all the time. I only ask that:

1. You don't preach about it to me with zeal, ignoring my lack of interest.

2. You don't decide that the U.S. power limit should be 100 w. and petition the FCC to change it to that.

3. You don't scream that N no. of people near me are in danger because of RF.

4. You do not operate phone below 20 meters. "

Fair enough! It shouldn't be a "religion". I agree with this gentleman.

From K6AER:

The dirty little secret of QRP is they almost never contact another QRP station. The station on the other ends up doing the heavy lifting with mono banders up high and QRO power so the QRP station can hear above the local noise with their minimalist antenna.

Oh man! I wish I had know this before wasting my time all these years! Hey, by the way, is this the same guy who starts all those "urban legends"?

From W9OY:

"The point is its the guy doing the receiving who is doing all the heavy lifting. Why is the goober running a watt doing all the bragging? Seems to me a guy who had a big gun tower and all the beams would understand in the case of QRP its the receiving station not the transmitting station that is dominate."

Ah, yes ..... W9OY the veteran QRP basher! First on the thread to start with the derogatory name calling too! I guess it takes a "goober" to know a "goober"!

Another comment from K5UJ:

"The solution (which never fails) is to put your amp in bypass and turn your exciter PA pot down to ~5 w., maybe less if you have a really good antenna, and let the QRP station do some work. Every time after one or two exchanges, you'll get, "Have to go, dinner's ready" or "I have a tv show I want to watch now." Tell him you're giving QRP a try too and watch how fast the honeymoon turns into divorce."

Darn! After his first post, I had such hopes for this guy! This post just goes to show that even when they try to be civil, QRP bashers just can't help shooting themselves in the foot. Geez, if I had a nickel for everytime I have worked another QRPer, I'd be able to afford that K3!

From W5JON:

"On every QRP, "I worked this DX station" brag page, it should be required to list what the guy at the other end was running. I would just love to see the percent QRP to QRP contacts.

I really enjoy reducing my power to the level of the QRP station that calls me, and switching to a dipole. Chances are within a minute or two he is signing out. I Guess it is no fun digging my S9 signal that just went to a S2 out of the noise."

Another veteran e-Ham QRP basher heard from. Another QRO guy that not only "doesn't get it"; but also shows he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Finally from AB8AL:

"I just don't understand why QRP'ers keep patting themselves on the back and talk about honing skills and blah blah blah. Any contact a QRPer makes he should be thanking the station on the other end for pulling his weak signal out of the noise. QRP stations do NONE of the work then claim ALL the credit."

Tell us how you REALLY feel, okay?

I love these guys! They're so single minded, so cocksure of themselves; that I guess they don't realize how stupid they sound. So much for keeping an open mind and exposing yourself to all that Amateur Radio has to offer!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Drive-bys and the Honeybees ......

You might have heard the bug-a-boo (sorry about the pun!) being raised for the past month or so, by the "drive-by" media, about the supposed "disappearance" of honey bees.

Supposedly, honey bees have disappeared from about 17 states or so. They just aren't; being seen in the numbers that they used to be. Of course, the experts have to hypothesize and come up with theories. The theories I have heard so far blame the disappearance of honey bees on global warming (what else is new ..... hey, maybe we can bring back Y2K as a scapegoat) and one idiot even blamed the increased use of cell phones!

While mowing the lawn today, I think I hit upon one of the real answers. As I was going up and down my front yard, I was looking up and down both sides of my short street, at my other neighbor's yards. A lot of these folks spend a lot of money on Lawn Doctor and services like that to create lawns that look more like lush green carpets from the Emerald Isle, rather than ordinary suburban yards. I throw down some Scotts Turf Builder Plus 2 once or twice a season to keep the dandelions down. Other than mowing on a regular basis, I let nature take its course. Yeah, my lawn isn't going to make the cover of "Better Homes and Gardens" and I'll probably never make it on to HGTV, either. My lawn is full, it's green, it hardly has any dandelions or crabgrass; but I do have one thing that I noticed a lot of my neighbor's lawns don't have.

I got clover !!!!! I have a veritable ton of those little white budsy things popping out between the Kentucky Blue Grass or whatever kind of grass it is that makes up my lawn. And you know what else I have? I got honey bees visiting each of those little clover blossoms looking for nectar so they can make honey!

Lesson learned - goes crazy with Lawn Doctor or go overboard with chemicals so that your lawn looks magazine perfect and you're going to chase away the honey bees. If there's no clover for nectar; what self-respecting honey bee is going to waste time coming to your lawn?

Seems kind of simple when you think about it - doesn't it? Now is this the total answer to the disappearance of the honey bees? Probably not; but I'll bet is a goodly part of the problem. Again ...... look up and down my street. Out of 10 front yards, I see clover blossoms on only three or four of them. I'll bet years ago EVERYBODY had clover mixed in with their grass and didn't even think twice about it. It's only now, that your front lawn has to be this shee-shee designer looking green carpet that we realized we have a problem.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Throwing down the gauntlet

Do you want to help with getting the word out about Amateur Radio? Would you like to let people know how much fun; and how useful this hobby is? Would you like to perhaps inspire a non-Ham to the point where said person buys a license study guide and gets his/her ticket?

Start a Ham Radio Weblog; or "blog" as they are known. You know ...... what you're reading right now!

Just out of curiosity; I Googled "free blog" and I was blown away! From Blogger, which is this site here, which I use to WordPress Cafe, there seem to be HUNDREDS of places that are willing to host your blog for FREE! What self respecting Ham doesn't get off on the word "free"?

I know, you have a million excuses. "I don't know how to write, I don't know what to say, I don't know where to start."

You start by signing up for one of these free Blogging accounts; and then you start writing about what excites you the most about Amateur Radio. Do you like DX? Talk about it! Do you like homebrewing? Write about it! Do you like packet APRS and weather station activity? Tells about it and share your enthusiasm !!!! Or even better yet, start the ball rolling by telling the world how you spent Field Day 2007. People LOVE to read about that kind of stuff!

Worried that people will think you're some kind of nerd or geek? Let 'em think what they want! Besides, check out some random blogs out there. Some of the stuff you'll find is enough to curl your hair! At least you'll be writing about something decent and wholesome; and perhaps it will be enough to help balance out all the other "crap" you can read about.

You don't have to be Ernest Hemingway to do a Ham Radio blog. Heck, just think of this as typing a letter to a bunch of friends you don't even know. I have no formal writing experience; other than what I learned in school. I rely on the spell checker a lot! What I'm trying to say is that I'm nobody all that special. But if I can do this, you can too! Too technical? For crying out loud, if you're a Ham and you're reading this, you're already involved in one of the most technical hobbies there is! And if you can read this; then you have enough computer skills to "roll your own". Bottom line? You have no excuses!

So I issue the challenge and throw down the gauntlet! Start your own Ham Radio blog and let me know about it. Once you've done it; either leave a comment here or send an e-mail to I will add your blog to my fledgling "Blog roll" both here and on my Website.

Amateur radio is infectious! Let's spread the word by letting people know what we like about our wonderful hobby.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, June 22, 2007

Field Day 2007

To the right is a photo from a PARC Field Day past. I think this was Field Day 1997 or maybe 1996? It was the middle 90s or there abouts.

The picture is of yours truly on the left; and Bob W3BBO on the right. Bob's doing the heavy lifting by working the stations; and I'm sitting there logging.

What was cool was that Bob and I didn't have to talk much during our Field Day stints together. He'd work a station; and I'd listen as he would maneuver the paddles or twiddle the dial on yet another "search and pounce" session. He'd work a station and he'd just start giving me the particulars; when I would say "Got it" or "Already logged" or something like that. Bob is such a good CW op! I did my best to keep up with him; and on a good day (a VERY good day) I could hold my own for a while until my brain cramped up and my ears started bleeding from listening to CW at a rate slightly higher than I was comfortable copying.

This year, I really hope I get a chance to get some operating time in. The weekend promises to be busy, as usual. My son Joey has a swim meet tomorrow morning; and when we get home there are the inevitable chores ........ grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, etc, etc, etc.

If I get a chance to operate at all; it will probably be for only a couple of hours from the patio. I want to set up the commercial PAC-12 I acquired over the Winter and see how it plays. I bought it from Mike W1MT who contacted me about it through a third party who had read about my success with the homebrewed version that I have. I got a superb deal on it; and this is the version with the "all bands" coil. Now when I want to change bands, all I have to do is move a tap rather than swap out entire loading coils. I'm looking forward to playing around with it; in anticipation of taking it with us to Lake George this summer.

In any event, please make sure to listen for W2LJ on the bands tomorrow or Sunday. I could use the contacts to boost my QSO total for the year!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, June 21, 2007

QRP Summer Foxhunt Season

The 2007 Summer 20 Meter Foxhunt Season is fast approaching!

And we are in need of QRPers to volunteer for Fox duty!

This summer, the hunts will run on Thursday evenings beginning on July 5th and will run until September 9th. This will provide us with 10 weeks of Summer QRP Foxhunt fun and excitement. There will be, as usual, two hunts per Thursday evening over the ten week period. A bare minimum of 10 volunteers is needed, however, the more the merrier; and we will consider all who offer to volunteer. Please consider volunteering ESPECIALLY if you've never tried before! You are guaranteed to have the time of your life!

To fill out an application and for all the particulars, please visit:

Tally Ho! Let the hunts begin!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Field Day plans

This coming weekend is Field Day; and unlike last year, it's NOT looking to be a washout! Looking at (The Weather Channel) and the forecast is for partly sunny skies with a high of about 79 - just a tad cooler than normal for this time of year.

I'll probably set up on the patio in the backyard with the K1 (or maybe the K2), a battery and perhaps I'll set up the NorCal Doublet as a sloper using my Black Widow fishing pole as a mast for one end. In any event, since my wife is working on Saturday, I will not be visiting the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club's operation at the Piscataway EOC during the day.

I got to thinking about all this because I had a nice QSO with Dan Romanchik KB6NU on 40 Meters tonight. Dan is very active in his local club in Michigan; and he's really enthusiastic about introducing the next generation of prospective Hams to Amateur Radio. He told me that he's going to have a 10 year old and a 14 year old participating as CW ops this year. That is so cool!

You can read about Dan's exploits by visiting his blog. I've put a link up to it on he right hand edge of this page. You can click on it and go directly there.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Don Herbert

I read in the newspaper that Don Herbert A.K.A. "Mr. Wizard" had passed away last week. I would be remiss if I didn't mention him in this blog.

"Mr. Wizard" was always one of my favorite programs as a kid. I used to watch in rapt attention as Mr. Herbert would explain electro-magnetism; or combustion, or some other scientific principle. I even enjoyed watching the newer shows on Nickelodeon during the 90s.

I can't help thinking that the show had a lot to do with piquing my innate fascination with things scientific; and in a way, lead me towards such hobbies as Amateur Radio. For me, "Mr. Wizard" was the Discovery Channel and Science Channel of my youth.

Rest in Peace, Don ...... you were a man way ahead of your time. Thank you for all the enjoyable hours of TV programming; and for providing me the impetus to go and learn about things on my own.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A slight change in venue .....

Lunchtime QRP operations from the new work QTH have been, to say the least, discouraging. Since my first successful attempt back on June 5th; I've been getting skunked pretty continuously. I made excuses ...... low sunspots, low activity; but too many days went by where I didn't hear ANYTHING! So I decided to do some cogitating and try and reason the situation through.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! I looked up into the sky at the eastern edge of the parking lot, to notice high tension lines. Funny, but I never really noticed them before. In an industrial park setting, they seem like just part and parcel of the landscape. I guess they were masking all the signals that I thought weren't there.

So what to do? I wasn't about to give up so easily without a fight.

This morning, before heading off to work; I fired up the computer here at home and went to the Google page. I typed in my work address on Google Maps and zoomed out a bit. Hot dog - I found just what I was looking for! Not more than five minutes away by car is a very big, wide and open municipal park. I skedaddled there over there at lunch time; and got down to business.

There were several nice groves of trees complete with BBQ pits. Unfortunately, no picnic tables but for today I was able to deal with it. I brought out my backpack containing the K1 and all the amenities and also, the PAC-12. Operating from a park this beautiful meant going in amongst the trees and not sitting near the car to depend on the Hamsticks. The groves are open enough where there's plenty of space; but yet no worries about being too secluded that it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Setting up the station and turning on the radio revealed almost no hash or white noise! And I was greeted by a 579 CQ by Jim WD4NVH in Alabama. Wow! We had a brief QSO until QSB did us in; but things sure were better operating from the park. I hope to get there everyday this summer that the weather is decent.

On a side note, Serendipity must have been with me. As I left the park, I noticed that I had been in the Joseph Medwick Memorial Park. For those of you who don't know, Joseph Medwick was better known as "Ducky" Medwick who played with the St. Louis Cardinals "Gas House Gang" of the 1930s. Ducky was born in Carteret (the town I work in); and so the park was named in his honor.

My two passions - baseball and Amateur Radio brought together. Hmmmmm, I sense a new commemorative QSL card design needs to be come up with!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, June 18, 2007

RF pollution is maddening !!!!

RF pollution is maddening! It ruined my evening last night during Run For The Bacon; and it reared its ugly head again tonight.

Last night I was able to copy all of two signals. The local noise was 10 over 9. I gave up after a half hour of pure frustration. Tonight started out a lot better. I was having a QSO on 40 Meters and the band noise was normal. Fortunately, it was at the END of my QSO when someone flipped a switch and the 10 over 9 hash came back with a vengeance!

I don't know what it is that is causing such horrendous interference. It's not anything in my house as the kids were asleep and my wife was working. I had nothing inside the house turned "on" that could generate so much noise. This noise HAS to be coming from a neighbor's house. A plasma TV perhaps; or a device like it?

It's not going to be easy to identify. Even harder will be explaining to the neighbor how his appliance is screwing up my radio!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Fun Morning

I did indeed have a fun morning attending the Raritan Valley Radio Club Hamfest today.

The day started early by meeting Bob W3BBO and John N3ZAS for breakfast as a local diner, called the Fountain Bleu here in South Plainfield. Over some French Toast, pancakes, waffles, ham and eggs (not all consumed by me!) we caught up on old times. We were expecting a few other Piscataway Amateur Radio Club members to join us; but unfortunately that never materialized.

I was greeted by a happy surprise as Bob handed me a CD on which he had copied every photo he has that he had of PARC related activities, taken while he lived here in Central NJ for a few years back in the mid 90s. I've gotten the chance to peruse the photos and the memories they have brought back are priceless! What a Father's Day gift!

We headed on over to the Hamfest proper; and proceeded to look around for various items needed. In the end I didn't buy anything; but Bob did pick up a new SLA for his K2 that we found a vendor selling for 5 bucks (How can you beat that?). He also picked up some terminal strips and various little odds and ends. John picked up a Clear Speech speaker with DSP that he found, basically brand new in a box. He was looking for a decent microphone; but ended up not finding one.

I was hunting for some good wire cutters and a small bag of PL-259s; but didn't find anything at a price I liked. What I did come away with was priceless, however. I saw a lot of the guys from PARC and had a good time renewing old friendships! I saw a neat example of a loop antenna for what appeared to be 20 meters suspended from a Black Widow fishing pole. I have one of those and it appeared to be an excellent rendition. I only wish that I had been smart enough to bring along my digital camera to have taken pictures of it. It looks like it would indeed have been an excellent Field Day type of antenna.

I ended up having to leave kind of early as I had a Knights of Columbus function that I was responsible for early in the afternoon. Bob stayed on at the Hamfest a little longer, only to get a drive back to his hotel from another friend and PARC member, Bill W2BT later on. I drove John N3ZAS back to the hotel parking lot, where he jumped into his car and drove home. I got home only to be greeted by a message on the answering machine, imploring me to come and straighten out a mess at the K of C Council Hall (sigh!).

It was fun seeing Bob W3BBO, John N3ZAS, Rich W2PQ, Bill W2WK, Bob W2UDT, Marty KB2JSG, Bill W2BT and Brian N2MPM. There are some others that I wish were there; that hadn't showed up in the small amount of time that I was able to spend. Maybe next year! And now that my term is up as an officer in the Knights of Columbus, I think I'll be able to make Piscataway Amateur Radio Club meetings on a more regular basis.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hamfest time!

I don't get to make a lot of Hamfests. Usually, there's some activity that my kids are involved in; or there's some other kind of previous commitment that always seems to rear its ugly head when I want to attend one. But this coming Saturday is one of the few that I try to make every year.

In Central New Jersey, it's known as the "Dunellen Hamfest". It's held in Piscataway now; but it still goes by its old moniker. It is actually the Raritan Valley Repeater Club Hamfest. It's one of the better local ones and I'm looking forward to it.

My nest Ham radio friend Bob W3BBO is driving over from Erie, PA for the weekend for a visit; and we'll be meeting for breakfast and attending the fest together. It's been years since we've seen each other even though we keep in close contact with one another. This will be special.

I don't really need to buy anything special. I can always use PL-259s and wire cutters (I always seem to be hard on wire cutters!). I probably won't end up spending more than 20 bucks. But I am looking forward to the morning out in the fresh air. The weather is supposed to be beautiful!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, June 10, 2007

NAQCC June Sprint

This coming Tuesday night is the June edition of the NAQCC Monthly Sprint. The top two highest scoring NAQCC members (in the Simple Wire Antenna category) will win book about keys by Dave Ingram K4TWJ, who is also an NAQCC member.

I've plastered these notices to just about every CW and QRP mailing list on the Internet that I can think of. I'm posting it here also; just in case you're a loyal reader who does not subscribe to any of the QRP or CW forums.


This Tuesday evening, the North American QRP CW Club will be holding its monthly sprint.

Here are the particulars:

Date and time:
Wednesday, June 13th, 0030-0230 UTC
(Remember that's Tuesday evening here in the USA) That's 8:30 - 10:30 EDT, 7:30 - 9:30 CDT, 6:30 - 8:30 MDT and 5:30 - 7:30 PDT.

Bands - Frequencies:
80M - 3555-3565 kHz (Be courteous to FISTS operating on 3558 kHz)
40M - 7039-7050 kHz (Avoid W1AW on 7047.5 kHz).
20M - 14059-14065 kHz. General:
A particular station may be worked once on each band. Operate CW only.
All licensed amateurs are invited to participate, but only those operating QRP (5 watts or less) are eligible for awards.

Call: CQ NA

RST - SPC (State Province or Country) - NAQCC Nr.
(non-Members substitute power level for NAQCC Nr., e.g. 5W, 1W, etc. Be sure to add the W.)

QSO Points:
QSO with a Member, 2 points.
QSO with a Non-member, 1 point.

Each USA state
Each VE province
Each country except W/VE
All multipliers count only once in the contest.

If you use only a straight key for the entire sprint, multiply your score by 2.
If you use only a bug for the entire sprint, multiply your score by 1.5.
If you key with anything other than a straight key or bug, there is no bonus multiplier.

SWA - simple wire antennas - for those using a simple wire antenna per NAQCC definition.
GAIN - gain antennas - for those using other than a simple wire antenna.

Special Award:
This month the top two NAQCC highest scorers in the Simple Wire Antennas category will win prizes! First place wins Dave Ingram's wonderful book, "The World of Keys" while the second highest placing NAQCC member will earn a copy of Dave's book, "Keys II: The Emporium". Dave K4TWJ is a 'card carrying" member of the NAQCC and we thank him for his generous donation of one of the books. The other book was procured using funds donated to the NAQCC.

REMEMBER: You HAVE to be a NAQCC member to be eligible to win one of the books; and there's still plenty of time to join before Tuesday night's sprint. To join the NAQCC, please visit:

Entry Deadline:
All entries must be RECEIVED before 2400Z on June 19, 2007. So submit as soon as possible, especially regular mail entries.

For further information, please visit:

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dreaming of vacation !!!!

Tonight's QSO has me dreaming about being on vacation!

I called CQ on 40 Meters tonight, to be answered by Hal, who is on vacation at the Outer Banks in North Carolina near Kitty Hawk. He was running a KX1 at 3 Watts to a 120 foot hunk of wire and he had a great signal! 10 dB over 9 (at times) great!

It was a very pleasant QSO; but now I have visions in my head of operating the K1 from Lake George. Summer is almost here; and vacation time is around the corner.

Can't wait!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ham and cheese for lunch ?

Well, now that I think about it ..... that IS what I had for lunch today - a ham and cheese sandwich. But the other kind of "Ham" that I'm more interested in could best be described as "dessert".

After scarfing down my sandwich, I went out to the car and fired up the K1. As the Spirit that controls the Aether would have it, as soon as I got the station ready to go, I was greeted by the dulcet tones of a station calling CQ on 20 Meters. It turned out to be Herb, WØHM out of Shakopee, MN. The conditions weren't terrible; and they weren't the greatest, either. QSB was rolling in and out fast almost giving signals a kind of fluttery feel. Not like Polar flutter, exactly; but on the same vein.

It turns out that H and M are Herbs two initials; but just look at the call ....... WØHM. How great is that for a Ham radio callsign! The very first principle that you learn when studying basic electronics is Ohm's Law. I wouldn't mind having that call even if H and M weren't my intitials !!!

The QSO lasted about 15 minutes. Not what you would call a long ragchew; but enough to supply my radio "fix" for the day. Herb was using an Icom IC-706 to an Inverted Vee and I was using the K1 to a Hamstick mounted on my truck. Herb is 57 years old and has been licensed for about 24 years now. After exchanging a few more pleasantries, we had to give it up as QSB was getting deeper with the faded periods lasting longer and longer. Also, I had to start getting back inside to work; so we bid each other 73 and called it a QSO.

Geez, I hope the weather is pleasant again tomorrow so I can give this another shot. Maybe tomorrow, I'll pop on the 40 Meter Hamstick to see where that takes me!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, June 01, 2007

Summertime condx!

Today, June 1st is the official opening of this year's hurricane season. If you believe the groundhogs among us (you know the type - afraid of their own shadows!), then this year is going to be a busy one. Undoubtedly caused by Global Warming, of course.

Ahhhhhh ..... Global Warming, the cause d'celebre of the decade of the 00s. I'm no climatologist; but when did we become SOOOOOOO arrogant as to believe that we humans are the end-all-be-all cause for everything that happens on this planet? Now I don't doubt that Global Warming is real and exists ....... I just don't think that we humans are the cause of it.

I believe that global warming is a natural cycle in ecological scheme of things. As Hams we should be really in tune with the sun. We're so darned aware of the 11 year sunspot cycle; and we're all bemoaning the fact how crappy band conditions are at the bottom of it. We can't wait until we're out of the bottom of it. So why can't there be a normal cycle of temperatures? The sun can't heat up and cool off a few degrees in a cyclical fashion, just like sunspots ebb and flow? As a species, we've been measuring the temperature of the earth for what ...... 400 years or so? And from that pitiful sample, we're supposed to be experts on climate change? What a joke!

One last thought ....... if we're so responsible for climate change; then how did the last Ice Age come to an end BEFORE the invention of the SUV? Really folks ...... get real!

But I digress. The weather has been sultry and summer like in NJ the past two weeks. (Probably due to Global Warming. Doh!) The bands have gone into their summertime behavior pattern. (Pattern ...... suggests a cycle ...... I better be careful here!) 80 and 40 Meters are filled with static crashes; but unfortunately the low sunspot count is making sure that the ionosphere barely "excites" and 20 Meters is pretty useless once the sun goes down. So while 40 Meters seems to be the best band propagation wise during the night, the static is punishment on the ears and brain.

The sunspot low has been predicted to occur anywhere between last March and this coming September, depending on who you listen to. In either event, once we pass through the nadir, sunspots should start appearing again pretty rapidly.

From this blog to God's eye!

73 de Larry W2LJ