Monday, April 28, 2008

The building bug

I cleaned out the shack yesterday. It is now actually somewhat organized ; and you can do things in there without knocking all sorts of things over. As a result of the general lack of clutter I seem to have gotten the kitbuilding "bug" back, I have re-started building my ATS-3 for the umpteenth time tonight. Yes, that's the ATS-3 (not the ATS-3A or 3B for that matter) just to give you an idea how long this has been sitting on my bench.

Building with SMT (surface mount technology) is not exactly my cup of tea; but I'd like to finish the radio to possibly take to Lake George this summer vacation. I got the last of the inductors mounted and have started on the capacitors. I figure if I get a few devices soldered in each evening, then I stand a chance to get this done some time soon (like maybe this millennium).

I'll tell you that at age 51, my eyes are definitely not what they used to be. Through hole kits may be a thing of the past; but then so is my vision! Hi! On top of that my muffin tins with all my parts fell on the floor. I am 99 and 44/100ths percent sure that I have recovered everything; but a trip to the electronics store may be in my not too distant future.

40 Meters was good again tonight. I had a nice chat with Earl K4BSK down in North Carolina. I thought we were going to get skunked by some S40+++ idiot who started sending Vs on top of us without identifying, of course. But Mr. V decided to QSY after getting his antenna tuner adjusted - or whatever.

Shortly after, I worked ZF2GU (Cayman Islands) who was down at the low end of the band. I've worked Cayman before; but there was a little bit of a pile up and I just HAD to see if I could break through it. I did.

I was also amazed at how little QRN there was on 40 Meters tonight, considering that we had a Nor'Easter or some kind of big rain storm blow through here this evening. It was actually pleasant to tune through the band.

73 de Larry W2LJ


This appeared on the Second Class Operator's e-mail reflector today .... and I gotta share!

Political Correctness

The following is the winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A & M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year's term was "Political Correctness".

The winner wrote:

"Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Website of the Week

As promised, I'll be presenting a Website every week, which has caught my eye, tickled my fancy, or has otherwise captivated my interest.

This week's Website belongs to a Ham I have worked in many of the QRP Sprints. He also is an avid outdoorsman, who likes to bring QRP gear out to the field with him. I speak of John Harper AE5X, and his Website, "AE5X Amateur Radio Activities".

I posted a link to his blog yesterday, which is actually a new addition to his Webpage. Do yourself a favor and go visit his site. I think you will be pleased.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More prattle

Just as I expected, I did NOT get the chance to participate in QRPTTF today. Surprisingly, it didn't rain all morning long as the weather folk had predicted. However, after I got home from work a little after Noon, the lack of rain meant that there was an opportunity for the lawn to be mowed!

After the lawn mowing came the grocery shopping and various other chores. But from what I was able to gather from the various QRP e-mail reflectors, the bands weren't in the hottest shape anyway. And while it didn't rain, the skies were cloudy all day and high temps made it only to the mid to upper 50s. Sound like excuses? Maybe.

On the bright side, during the week the Adventure Radio Society started handing out Bee numbers for the 2008 Flight of the Bumblebees; and I did manage to get Bee #27. So I'm happy about that!

The day was not without its Amateur Radio moments. Not having much success with the End-Fed Zepp that I put up last year; I changed the 1:1 balun over to a 4:1 balun. The antenna immediately seemed to come to life after - time will tell to see how it plays.

This evening, I decided to jump into the closing moments of the Florida QSO Party - on milliWatt power! It was amazing to see how many contacts I could make using only 500 milliWatts; and make those contacts on the first shot, with no requests for fills or anything! That was fun and is a true testament to the ears and antennas of the Florida Hams I worked.

BTW, since Florida is about 800 miles from New Jersey, all of those contacts were approximately 1600 miles per Watt. Not bad!

I have added a "new" blog to the list of blogs to the right. This one is by John Harper AE5X. John is an avid QRPer and outdoorsman, just like W1PID. He also has an excellent Website.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, April 25, 2008

A little bit of this & a little bit of that ....

I saw this post on the CW e-mail reflector today, which made me feel much better about things:

Anyone else experiencing the overall lousy 40m conditions the past few days (weeks)?

There are very few signals moving the s-meter over S9 during the day and afternoons. A few weeks aqo 40m was filled with S9 and plus signals at my QTH, not just from QRO monster stations.

I know I need to place my order for a couple of new Super Berthas and get at least a 3x 40m Yagi stack on each, but I never struggled with conditions like this in the past couple of weeks....

Ken, KA0W

And here I thought I was the only one! I guess I'm just paranoid. I always start to think that it's either MY rig or MY antenna at fault!

This evening, after making sure my kids had dinner, I sneaked down to the shack for a few minutes to see what I could hear on 20 Meters. I heard Emile, FG5HM from down on Guadeloupe calling CQ. I threw my call out and sure enough, he answered me! I've worked Emile once before about 5 years ago; but it wasn't QRP. Of course, this time it was, so I can officially put DXCC Entity #86 in the books.

Later, I found 40 Meters to be wall-to-wall static crashes. But conditions were pretty good, otherwise. Down at the very low portion, I heard PZ5RA calling CQ from down in Suriname. Another country that I can use for QRP DXCC. The op was working split, moving a little bit farther up each QSO until he would go as far as about 3 KHz up - then go back to only 1 KHz up and start moving up again until 3 KHz up and back down again and so on and so on. It took me a bit to figure out the pattern. Anyway, I was throwing out my call when I heard him come back "W2L?". I threw out my call again and just as he was sending that last letter (which I hope was a "J") there was a huge static crash! I sent out my exchange; and as soon as I ended, he started sending the standard "TU 73 QRZ?", in perfect flow. So I am 99 and 44/100% sure that I had a successful QSO. I guess I'll send out a QSL card and wait until I either get one back; or get mine back with a "Not in Log" stamp on it!

Lastly, it looks like no QRP To The Field for W2LJ tomorrow. First, it's supposed to rain all day; and I'm not about to get my K1 all soggy. Second, I have to go into work tomorrow! A co-worker in a another branch office has a pressing project to complete; and my boss asked me to travel up to Jersey City tomorrow morning to lend a hand for a couple of hours. I can't tell you just how much I am looking forward to going in tomorrow morning! ;)

As if the weekends weren't short enough!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

40 Meters has been good lately

Local neighborhood QRN-wise, that is!

I hate to jinx myself; but my Winter time S9+++ QRN on 40 Meters seems to be gone for now. This has me convinced that it has to be one of my neighbor's heating systems. Ever since it has warmed up in the evenings, the band has been its old self.

I had three QSOs tonight, once decent one and two shorties. One of the shorties was with HI3AB who was 599 out of the Dominican Republic. He was really hammering in here; but the QSO wasn't much more than "RST, TU, 73 .....QRZ?" I really don't care for such brief QSOs; but I like the challenge of working somewhere other that the mainland U.S.A. with QRP.

I wish the band was as busy during the daytime! Once again, I ventured out to the park during lunchtime with the K1 and PAC-12. Didn't hear much of anything and wasted battery power calling CQ for nothing, 40 Meters was dead and 20 Meters was even deader !!!

Maybe once the sunspots really pick up ........

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A very sad day for Amateur Radio

It was literally with a gasp that I read the following on one of the QRP e-mail reflectors today:

From Jack Stone
It is with a heavy heart and infinite sadness I report the passing of LB Cebik, a friend to us all.

I had called the local Sheriff in Knoxville, TN to go check on him
since I hadn't heard from him in over 5 days (either email or phone), which is highly unusual.

The Sheriff called back to tell me this sad, devastating news. He waslike family to me and was loved and respected by so many. I remain in shock as I tell you this.

LB Cebik, W4RNL, was a giant in the Amateur Radio world. Although he taught philosophy for a living, physics was his second love. The man was a walking, talking encyclopedia of antenna knowledge. On top of that, he had the gift of making difficult subject matter easy to understand. Even for dolts like me.

It's not every day that you have a living legend in your midst. LB Cebik was a living legend in the Amateur Radio world. He will be missed greatly; especially by the QRP community for whom LB seemed to have a special fondness. He was a frequent guest speaker at FDIM and Atlanticon.

LB greatly missed his wife, Jean, who passed away from cancer a few years back. In some way, it is comforting to think of him finally reunited with the first, true love of his life.

For more please visit the following links:

Antennas - Service and Education

Rest in Peace, L.B. - Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Website of the Week

I'm going to try something new here on W2LJ's Blog. Starting tonight, and hopefully once a week, I am going to point you towards a Website or Blog that has caught my attention; or perhaps, is one of my favorites. I realize that sometimes our interests will not coincide; but hopefully, you will also enjoy these various Websites.

This week, I am pleased to direct you to W1PID's Homepage. W1PID is Jim Cluett out of Sanborton, NH; and I've mentioned him here before. Jim is a regular in the QRP Sprints and we've chewed the rag on the air several times. In addition to just being "good people", Jim is also an avid outdoorsman. He blends his two avocations together by often taking one of his small portable QRP rigs with him when he goes out on hikes with his dog, Meghan.

Very often, Jim takes photos during his exploits; and he posts summaries of his trips on his Website. Jim is a good writer; and his infectious enthusiasm for Amateur Radio shines through in all his essays.

When you get a chance, take a mosey on over there and take a gander. The link appears up above. I guarantee that after reading a few of his exploits, that you'll be looking for a knapsack and your small battery operated QRP rig and a hunk o' wire!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thought I had missed it!

Today was a beautiful day in New Jersey! It was sunny and warm with a high around 73 degrees F. A perfect day for yard work! I mowed the lawn for the first time this Spring; and yanked a whole bunch of dandelions out of the front yard. For some reason, there's only a few in the backyard; but there was a whole mess of them out front.

By the time I got all my work done, it was dinner time! I was disheartened because I thought that I had missed QRP To The Field. But it turns out that QRPTTF is NEXT weekend, not today; so I am still in good shape. For those of you not in the know, QRPTTF is a QRP Sprint that is held every April (last weekend). The idea is to get out of doors and operate away from commercial power. Each year, QRPTTF has a theme; and this year it's museums. The idea this year is to operate from your town's local museum.

We don't have one here in South Plainfield, at least not one that I know about. I'll probably set up in the backyard, running the K1 off my 12V SLA battery and will probably use the PAC-12. I would set up in a local park; but my wife works on Saturdays and I'll be home with the kids. I think that after an hour or so in the the park that they would probably get bored and would start getting antsy to get back home. If I work out of the backyard, the kids can have free run to play, watch TV or whatever; so it makes more sense to do it that way.

80 Meters was good tonight; not much QRN still, even though it's getting warmer and warmer. I had two good QSOs with WB2KKI and W3MC. Activity has died down though and the stations I am hearing now are participating in either the Michigan QSO Party or the YU DX contest.

73 de Larry W2LJ

#85 is in the books!

I was twiddling the dial down in the lower portion of 40 Meters tonight; and I heard Bengt YN4SU calling CQ down around 7.010 MHz. I threw out my call and nabbed him, first try! I've worked Bengt several times before; but never QRP - so DXCC Entity #85, Nicaragua, is now in the books. Only 15 more to go for DXCC QRP!

I heard and called XE72IARU out of Mexico; but only got an "?" for my efforts. Mexico would have been #86, but it was not to be tonight.

I received a nice QSL card in the mail today from Lanette KA1NKD. We QSO'ed back on the 15th. She's been licensed for a year; but I was only her 7th CW contact! It was nice to get her card with the note on the back. I will definitely send one in return.

An important note for you Ham veterans out there. And I don't think I need to stress this; but I'll mention it anyway. Lanette answered my CQ at a much slower rate that I happened to be sending at the time. I QRS'ed down to a speed more in line with her sending - just a wee bit faster. I got a "thanks" for that on the QSL.

Since the CW requirement went away, there's a lot of new ops out there attempting to get their feet wet in the pool. Be courteous and slow down! Your QSO and words of encouragement just might be the "ticket" towards developing a lifelong love affair with CW for a newbie Ham.

Other than that, no getting up on the soapbox or ranting tonight!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Arrrgggghhhhh !!!

Two things have me really bent out of shape today - one radio related and one not. I'll get the radio one out of the way first; so if the second one offends you (and I guarantee that SOME people will be offended or uncomfortable with it once they start reading) you can just navigate away and not be offended.

The weather has been really nice here in NJ the past few days. By the time lunch rolls around it has been in the upper 50s or lower 60s. I've been going to the park near work and have been setting up the K1 and PAC-12 and have not been hearing much of anything! Where is everybody during the day? I hear plenty of band noise and I do hear a FEW signals; but it just seems like no one gets on the air during the day, anymore. Just to make sure it's not the K1, I brought it in the house tonight and hooked it up to the G5RV. Sounded great! Plenty of signals heard and one or two stations worked.

I fluked my coax that I use with the PAC-12 and found no shorts between center conductor and shield. And there is continuity when measured from PL-259 to PL-259 (tip to tip and ground to ground). Where is everybody during the daylight hours? I sure hope as summer comes that more folks will be taking to the airwaves so I can make some contacts!

Now for something TOTALLY unrelated to radio; but is irking the heck out of me....... (it's religious in nature and totally unrelated to radio - so be forewarned!)

The Pope is visiting the United States this week. He met with the President this morning. George Bush, who is an Evangelical Protestant, gave the Holy Father a warmer reception and a friendlier greeting than he is getting from some of my (so-called) fellow Catholics!

All I've been reading about is this group disagrees with the Church about this; and this group is protesting about that. HEY !!!!!!!!!! Wake up and smell the coffee, people. Yes, we live in the United States; but the Roman Catholic Church is not a flippin' democracy! If you don't like the Church and you can't agree with the basic tenets of Faith - then by all means ....... leave! There is no law that says you HAVE to be Catholic !!!!!

You CANNOT be pro-abortion (DON'T give me this "pro-choice" garbage euphemism) and be a Catholic. You CANNOT be in favor of embryonic stem cell research (which is really stupid anyway) and be a Catholic. You want woman priests ? Go join the Episcopalians - I hear they need members because a lot of them are converting to Catholicism.

If Pat Leahy, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy or any other of that bunch of hypocrites who call themselves "Catholic", while at the same time support every abortion bill that comes down the pike, DARE to go receive Holy Communion at the Mass in Washington tomorrow - I think I'll just spit! I hope and pray to God that the priest or Eucharistic Minister giving Communion in that line will have the cajones to take a stand and say "No, you can't receive until you repent and change your ways".

I am an American - I am a Catholic; but I'm NOT an American Catholic. There is no such animal. I am a Roman Catholic and I obey the Magisterium in matters of faith and religion. If all you dissenters want to start your own "American Catholic" church; by all means, go ahead. Don't let the glass hit you on the way out.

As for me and my family? We will serve the Lord.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Houston, we've had a problem!

For those of you old enough to remember, it was 38 years ago tonight that those famous words were uttered.

Apollo 13 was on its way to the moon. The astronauts had finished beaming live television back to earth and were settling in for the night. One of the last things they had to do before turning in was to turn on the device that would stir up the contents of one of the liquid oxygen tanks mounted in the Service Module. Unknown to anyone at the time, that liquid oxygen tank had been dropped sometime after its manufacture and the Teflon coated wires to the stirrer motor had become compromised. The action of stirring up the liquid oxygen caused the wires to short out, causing an explosion which ripped out one entire side of the Service Module.

Electricity was generated for the Apollo missions by combining the liquid oxygen with hydrogen. The byproduct of this chemical process was the creation of water used by the astronauts throughout the journey. The tanks had to be stirred on a regular basis to prevent the liquid oxygen from becoming "slushy" and unusable,

With the tank venting liquid oxygen into space; all electrical systems aboard the Command/Service Modules callsign Odyssey, had to be shut down. This has never been done before in space and was quite the gamble; but it was a necessary one. The Apollo 13 astronauts, Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert were forced to move into the Lunar Module, callsign Aquarius. Aquarius would become a lifeboat in space, literally saving the lives of the three astronauts.

There was no way to immediately turn around and come home. The astronauts had to enter lunar orbit and allow the moon's gravity to whip them back towards earth like a slingshot. The descent motor of Aquarius was pressed into service as an acceleration motor; something it was never designed to do. Fortunately, it performed its new function flawlessly.

Due to the skill and bravery of the crew; as well as that of the ground crew, Apollo 13 returned safely to earth a few days later. This was in no small part due to Gene Krantz, the Flight Director for NASA at the time. He was responsible for heading up the team that worked here on earth with the astronauts in space to do everything necessary to obtain the happy outcome. Mr. Krantz was also responsible for originating a very famous quote, which I am sure all of you have heard many times. As he met with his various engineers after the initial reports of the problem; he matter of factly told his ground crew that "Failure is not an option".

The connection to Ham Radio is that as a kid, the manned space program and NASA were preoccupations and fascinations for me. As a result, I was fascinated by all things technical; and this led towards my quest in earning my license. It was Ham Radio that got me into a career in electronics. The rest is history.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, April 11, 2008

5,000 days and counting !!!

I'm sure most of you who read this blog on a regular basis are familiar with; or have heard of John Shannon K3WWP. John lives in Kittanning, PA and has been an Amateur Radio operator since April 3rd, 1963 when he was first licensed as KN3WWP. In all that time, John has become a devotee and aficionado and advocate for operating using QRP, Morse Code and simple wire antennas. And over that time, John has become a QRP & CW icon of sorts and has many accomplishments. His Webpage has become widely known; and I dare say "famous". Besides being a co-founder of the North American QRP CW Club, he writes a column for FISTS "Keynote" magazine and he maintains a daily diary where share with us his ideas and thoughts.

John is also no ordinary advocate when it comes to QRP, CW and simple wire antennas. A lot of guys "talk the talk"; but John goes farther than that, he truly "walks the walk". Since August 5th, 1994, John has been on the air EVERY SINGLE, BLESSED DAY making at least one QRP CW QSO. And on many days, he's made many more. Talk about "neither sleet nor snow nor gloom of night" ..... John's streak would put any letter carrier to shame. And he's been on the air, doing this many times when it would have been easy to pack it in because of tiredness, not feeling well, lousy sunspots, etc

So tonight, when April 12th UTC rolls along; and John turns on the switch and takes key in hand, it will be his 5,000th day in a row of doing this. Can you imagine getting on the air and making at least one QSO every day for 5,ooo days? While John downplays it and calls it "nothing special", it truly boggles the mind! Indeed, I did the "Make a Contact a Day" routine for the entire year of 2005. I can't tell you how many times I thought I was going to get skunked because of poor band conditions, family commitments, etc. To do this for almost 14 years now is nothing short of phenomenal and gives true testimony to the ideals of patience and perseverance.

Congratulations, John! Outstanding job; and I wish you many, many more years of Ham Radio enjoyment and successful QRPing! In my humble opinion, this streak alone earns you a place in the "QRP Hall of Fame". A lot of guys preach the mantra of QRP. You SHOW us how much fun and how fruitful it can be.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No joy in Mudville

It was a partly cloudy day here today, with temperatures topping off at around 48 degrees F. I decided to head out to the park by work at lunchtime for the first QRP session for 2008.

No joy today; but it was a good excersize, nonetheless. I got the PAC-12 up and ready to go quickly. Heck, I had the entire station set up in under 5 minutes! There were some loud signals on 40 Meters; but no one seemed to hear me. 20 Meters wasn't much better; and no one answered my CQs.

It was chilly, though! And not making any contacts made it feel all that much chillier. But tomorrow, the highs for the day are supposed to be around 70 degrees F. Ands it's supposed to be sunny, too. The battery is charged and the radio is ready to go. You can bet your bottom dollar that barring having to work through lunch, I'll be out there again tomorrow, looking to put that first "portable ops" QSO in the log for 2008.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, April 06, 2008

QRP Contest Fun

This past weekend was the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party. This is not a sprint, it is a 36 hour event. Each entrant is allowed to work 24 of the 36 hours.

Hee, hee! Like I'm going to work anywhere near 24 hours! My back and hind quarters couldn't take sitting in a chair for that long! But I did put in a few hours worth of operating. I had originally planned on handing out maybe 20 or 30 QSOs for the weekend; but darn these things become addictive! I ended up making 62 QSOs in a few hours worth of operating. Some things I noticed:

15 Meters was still crappy. The new solar cycle hasn't had time to do its thing yet. Give it another year or so.

20 Meters was just OK. Still not as good as it was just a few years ago; but not bad, either.

40 Meters was the bread and butter band. Most of my QSOs came on 40 Meters. Saturday was tough dodging yet another #&%#@* RTTY contest! Geez, those guys go all the way down to 7.030 MHz now! I remember in the days when I used to participate in the ARRL RTTY RoundUp that we didn't DARE go below 7.050 for fear of everyone's wrath! Now nobody cares. And double that on Sunday! I had 7.042 MHz to myself for a bit, running the frequency, when all of a sudden a 20 over 9 station starts calling "CQ MO QSO PARTY" all over me! My blood pressure started rising again! Darn rookies! How do I know this guy was a rookie? No "QRL?" without plopping his CW all over the place; and no self respecting veteran contester is going to send "CQ MO QSO PARTY" . "CQ MO QP" maybe!

80 Meters was disappointing. It was relatively QRN free; but where was everybody? Not much 80 Meter activity on Saturday night; and only a last minute flurry towards the end of the contest on Sunday. This is such a good band; and it's a pity to see it so underused.

I did have fun hearing all the regulars and working a few new guys, too. All in all, it was a good time despite the few instances where poor operating practices by other stations put a kibosh on things. I guess this is the result of losing the CW exam requirement. Some guys are getting on the air with no clue as to how things are done. Unfortunately, there's no Novice license anymore where new Hams can go and make mistakes and learn from them.

I guess this is what we call progress.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Got my mouth watering!

Bob W3BBO and I were on Echolink today, discussing the new Hendricks QRP Kit, which will be available for general sale on May 15th.

It's called the PFR-3, which stands for Portable Field Radio. From a lot of the chatter on the QRP e-mail lists, I'd have to agree that is does kind of look like a yellow KX-1.

The kit will be introduced at FDIM in Dayton, which I am not attending again. However, like I said above, it will become available as of May 15th and both Bob and I are sorely tempted.

I think it would be the perfect vacation/portable ops radio. It's small; and it was designed by Steve Weber KJ1DV - who is a radio designing genius! Here are the specs as they appear on Doug Hendrick's Webpage:


Bands : 40 meters, 30 meters and 20 meters
Tuning range: Full band coverage
Mode: CW only

Receiver MSD: 0.2 uV typical
Selectivity : 300 Hz
Receive current, no signal typical:
Active, 47 ma
Idle, 34 ma

5 watts at 12 volts, all bands
Spurs: - 50 dBc maximum, all bands

5 to 35 wpm internal iambic keyer
Two (2) 63 character keyer memories.

Coax or balanced line output
Built in BLT (balanced line tuner)

Size: 7.3" long, 4.4" wide, 1.6" high. (18.4 x 11 x 4cm)

Power supply voltage: 8 volts minimum, 12.5 volts maximum. 12 to 9 volts recommend.

Does that sound neat or what? And it looks like the price is VERY reasonable. If I remember correctly, the radio itself will be in the $200 territory - Bob told me he thinks reading somewhere that the onboard paddles will be in the $40 range.

I can imagine taking this up to Lake George with my NorCal Doublet and being able to stow it in about 1/2 the space as my K1 paraphernalia occupies. And really, 40 and 30 and 20 Meters are just about ideal!

Looks like I'm going to have to sell something to generate some cash; and get the soldering iron warm in the meantime, too! Let's see, if I order this in May and have all of June to build it ..... it just might be ready for vacation in July! Hmmmmmmmmm ..........

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spring, she is a comin' !

You can always tell when Spring is truly on the way by conditions on 80 Meters. Oh yes, you might get fooled by an early warm spell in late February or early March. But if 80 Meters is nice and quiet at night, you can rest assured that more cold weather is in store.

BUT, when 80 Meters was like it was tonight, then you KNOW that Spring is on the way! Just the opposite, you might get fooled by a chilly snap in early April; but when the static crashes are as loud on 80 Meters as they were tonight, then warmer weather is just around the corner for sure.

And this causes a personal dilemma for W2LJ. I love the warm weather! The warmer the better. Hazy, hot and humid do not bother me in the slightest - I hate cold weather with a passion. But I love what cold weather brings - beautiful, quiet conditions on 80 Meters, which is one of my most favorite bands.

As Spring turns in to Summer, I will migrate most evenings over to 40 Meters. And as the sunspots return, 20 Meters will be open again , 24 hours a day to some part of the world. So for now, I guess it's time to say goodbye to 80 Meters. I'll see you once again when the leaves, which are just beginning to form now, turn brown and fall from the trees in October. I will enjoy the warmer temperatures; but will miss my 80 Meter evening QSOs.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!!

OK, that does it! I am officially ticked off!

I was on 80 Meters last night, having a nice QSO with Jack N1XGB. We're there minding our own business when KW1U and some other station come right on frequency and start passing traffic. Not so much as a "QRL?" beforehand. Heck, not so much as a "?" beforehand !!!!!!

OK guys. YOU CAN'T DO THAT !!!!!! I don't care if your net has been meeting on that frequency every night since Moses was set afloat in the basket - YOU DON'T "OWN" THE FREQUENCY !!! You have to play by the rules just like everyone else and listen before you transmit. If you don't, you are committing willful and malicious interference and I have half a mind to send a letter to the FCC about this, naming names and callsigns!

And before I get any flack on this, I have a right to be really, really ticked off about this. I understand the importance of the National Traffic System and message handling. I have in fact, put in my time and payed my dues by participating in the NTS. I have been a Net Control Station, an Official Relay Station; and an Official Bulletin Station. I have been an assistant Net Manager and have spent many hours passing messages on CW and VHF traffic nets, back in the day.

And we always, always, ALWAYS took extreme care to make sure that we would not interfere with Amateur Radio operators who were engaged in a QSO on our regular meeting frequencies. Nets were NEVER called up without making sure that the frequency was clear. We may have "QRL'ed" it to death; but we always knew that we did not "own" the net frequency.

What the heck is going on? Can't anyone display even the most simple common courtesy anymore? Maybe it should be called "uncommon courtesy" in this day and age.

73 from a highly annoyed W2LJ who is sick and tired of having QSOs busted up by traffic nets who think they're above the law.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I think I can afford a K3 now!

I think I can finally afford a brandy-new K3!

I looked at the "junk" folder of my e-mail program; and I see that I have won at least 25 different lotteries!

I have people all over the world (Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Iraq, the Republic of Benin, etc) who are just dying to send me money if I just send them my bank account information!

And now, I'm getting all these neat offers to start my own "work at home" business where I am GUARANTEED to make 6 figures every month !!!!!!!

Do you think I should send my order in now?

73 de Larry W2LJ