Sunday, August 19, 2007


I had some free time Saturday evening to get on the air and try a hand at the New Jersey QSO Party. It was a disappointing experience.

First off, the bands seemed to be pretty dead. 20 Meters had nil signals on it; and 40 Meters didn't sound much better. I called "CQ NJQP' and "CQ de NJ" for the better part of 30 minutes without any takers. I went scanning through the frequencies on 40 Meters and didn't hear anyone else putting out any calls for the NJ QSO Party, either.

80 Meters was slightly better. A CQ there yielded two whole contacts! K3WWP - John in PA and WB2UFV in Morris Plains, NJ. To say I was underwhelmed with my results would be highly accurate.

Maybe next year will be better with more solar activity to make the bands more active. Here's hoping, anyway!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Palm Tungsten E

I'm like most other Ham Radio ops - somewhat of a gadget freak. I like things with buttons, knobs, and controls. Problem is, I can't afford to keep up with the latest gizzmoes. So I tend to acquire the "last generation" of things to keep my gadget junkie fix going.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was looking for a "new" Palm Pilot, having outgrown the features of my venerable Palm M130. It would indeed be nice to own a Palm Zire or perhaps a new Palm Tungsten E2. I settled for a "pre-owned" Tungsten E that I found on eBay for a really good price. I've been having some fun playing with it lately.

I was successful in beaming over all my Ham Radio programs over to the Tungsten E. Ham Radio Reference, QSO Diary, HamPilot and Palm Globe all transferred over quite easily. Palm Globe didn't run well, though. It kept causing the Tungsten E to freeze up to the point where I had to do a hard reset of the device. Definitely a bummer, as it was a neat little program that always displayed the location of the terminator. Some of my best DX has been gotten by gray line propagation!

I shake my head in amazement of how attached I've grown to my various Palm PDA(s) over the years. I started out using them primarily for logging QSOs during various portable QRP operating sessions. Now I use the handy little device for a lot more. Important procedures and facts that I need for work are stored on there. I keep track of all the hardware at work that we prepare each day and keep a log of it; so I can provide my manager with daily and weekly work totals. Of course, I also have a bunch of important phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other sundry items on there that I constantly refer to throughout the day.

But this Palm, the Tungten E has fun capabilities that my earlier Palm(s) did not have. First off, I loaded a 2 Gigabyte SD memory card into it; so I have plenty of memory available to me. That being said, I searched the Internet and found a few fun freeware and shareware programs to load on. I've added a graphics program so I can store pictures of my wife, Marianne and my kids, Joey and Cara When a particularly rough day happens at work; it's so nice to be able to flip that little program on and look at pictures of the people who mean the most to me. Seeing the faces that I love definitely puts the work thing into it's proper perspective and reminds me just exactly why I put up with some of the hassles that come along.

I also loaded a music player called "AeroPlayer". It was only $14.99 and now I have a built in mp3 player, or iPod, if you will. Last week I burned in some of my favorite albums (that will give you a clue as to my generation!); or should I say CDs? I have Garth Brooks, the B52s, The Fratellis, Fleetwood Mac, Cyndi Lauper and all of my Mike Oldfield CDs on there. Who the heck is Mike Oldfield? Why, Mike Oldfield is the artist who wrote "Tubular Bells", which you might recall better as the theme music to "The Exorcist". He has a compilation of about a dozen works and I have most of them. I really like his stuff with my absolute favorites being "5 Miles Out" and "The Songs of Distant Earth". If you've never heard him before, then go look him up on iTunes. You're in for a real treat! The good thing is now I don't have to carry my iPod around anymore - only one device to tote around so I gave my barely used iPod Nano to Marianne.

Then the last little program that I loaded up was a SuDoKo program. I'm not good at figuring these things out, by any means. But when I have a few spare minutes, it's a fun program to play around with. It's especially just the ticket on days when it's raining outside and I can't go to the park during lunchtime to do a little QRPing.

I suppose that in a few years, when the NEXT generation of Palms come out, I'll upgrade to someone's current Tungsten E2 or E3 - their discard will become my treasure!

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS - August 16th was a very important personal milestone in my life. That date marked the 10th Anniversary of my first date with a woman named Marianne Dunmyer. Things sure do change in 10 years! Marianne agreed to become my lovely wife and now we have a house, two wonderful children and various pets - I am a blessed and happy guy!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Made my day!

I got home today from work; and as I always do, I sat down to check out my e-mail

I received an e-mail about this blog; which for whatever reason, has been a more and more common occurrence lately. This e-mail, however, was from a soldier who is stationed in Iraq, who happens to also be a Ham. In his e-mail, he mentioned that he is a regular reader; and that my blog is one of the ways he keeps abreast of Amateur Radio. For those of you who don't know; Amateur Radio has been shut down in Iraq due to the problems with the insurgency.

Talk about an e-mail making your day! These soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors who are serving our Country are my heroes! They have volunteered to put their bacon into the frying pan every day; just to keep your families and my family's lives safe and sound. What they are doing is of no small matter or import; and in my opinion they deserve way more than our thanks and support - WHATEVER side of the political spectrum you call home.

This gentleman and his family are putting up with a lot; and for him to say that my words are keeping him entertained in some small, minute way is such an honor! To all our servicemen and women ...... THANK YOU! Keep up the fantastic work. You guys are doing a terrific job no matter what the lame mainstream media believes and makes up ...... I mean "reports". Our best to you; and our prayers are with you for continued success in your mission and a safe and quick return home to a grateful Nation.

Now ...... on a completely unrelated matter; you guys should have seen the electrical storm we had here in NJ last night. I was awakened about 4:00 AM by my scared and almost hysterical dog. Jesse (picture above) is a Brittany; and he's VERY scared by thunder. It must hurt his ears. In any event, the storms passed through after about an hour or so; but until the rain finally came, we had an electrical storm like I haven't witnessed in maybe 10 or 15 years. The lightning was almost to the point of becoming continuous. The claps of thunder sounded like they were coming overhead; and several times there seemed to be no delay between the lightning and the thunder. That means the storm cell had to be located right in our general vicinity; and it was loud!

I thank God for three things. A - He got us through the storms safe and sound. B - The lightning didn't cause any damage to any radio equipment. No direct hits to antennas, which were disconnected, anyway. C - My kids slept through the storms! The only comforting I had to do was keep Jesse calm by petting him non-stop for practically the whole time. I never saw a dog who was almost ready to jump out of his fur!

The storms brought no relief and today's weather was hotter and stickier than yesterday. Temperatures were in the 90s, the humidity was WAY up there and the temperature humidity index was at 105 degrees for a time this afternoon. Boy, I hope tonight is a quieter night than last night. All I do know for sure is that the antennas are staying disconnected again tonight!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, August 06, 2007

Early August thoughts

We've entered the Dog Days of Summer. It's hot and sticky in Central New Jersey. Going outside is like entering a sauna. Humidity level is hovering in the 70% plus region. When it's 11:00PM at night, any it's still in the upper 70s outside; and my thermostatically controlled attic fan is still blowing; then you know it's HOT! There's a heat advisory posted by NOAA for the next two days. I know a lot of people hate this; but this is what I live for! I dream of this kind of weather while I'm out there shoveling snow in the Winter.

I've been putting in WAY too much overtime with the new job. Not enough time for radio or any other kind of relaxation. I did jump into the Spartan Sprint tonight; just to knock loose some of the radio "rust". I made 15 contacts in about 20 minutes worth of operating. It was good to hear good friends on the air like Jim W1PID and Todd N9NE and Paul KD2MX and John K4BAI. By the way, John K4BAI is a top notch and well respected contester. I am proud and privileged to be able to call him a friend. Paul KD2MX was featured a few months back in an article in "WorldRadio" magazine about QRP contesters. Pick it up and give the article a "look see" if you get the chance.

Last night was a special milliWatt Run For The Bacon QRP contest that I put together. I wish I had scheduled it better! I was not able to participate as my wife and I went to the Police concert at Giants Stadium at The Meadowlands. The tickets were purchased back in February as her birthday present this year. I knew there was something nagging me in the back of my head when I scheduled the Sprint for the first Sunday in August, way back when. It hit me just last week that I was going to miss it; and I love milliWatt contests! Maybe next year.

My Palm M130 is starting to give up the ghost. I use it a lot; for work purposes and portable QRP logging purposes. There's a ton of information in there; but I've had it for a bit now and I think it's time for something newer. Not current - just newer. I can't afford current! I'll have to take a look on eBay to see what the most recent generation of Palm PDAs is going for. Then, I'll have to beam over all my information to whatever I get before this one craps out completely. I've grown so accustomed to keeping phone numbers, addresses, things-to-do, notes and various Ham Radio things on it; that it makes me wonder how I ever survived before the days of electronic PDAs. I guess this is what we call progress. I wish I could afford a current, state-of-the- art Jack Bauer kind of PDA that does everything but walk the dog for you; but that's not to be.

Last night was a late night; and today was a long day at work. Time to go to bed. I'll be putting in an 11 hour day tomorrow.

73 de Larry W2LJ