Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

We started a new family tradition for New Year's Eve which should last for the next few years, hopefully. As a family we went to dinner at a very nice place in town called Flanagan's. It was a good meal and it was a very good time spent with my wife and children. We talked and laughed a lot and had a great time.

New Year is about four hours away. I'd like to wish all of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2010. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing Amateur Radio with me. I set a record with 264 posts this year. I hope to surpass that in 2010; and hopefully, I won't bore you to tears.

It's generally at this point that we talk about New Year's resolutions; and like just about everyone else, I have a few:

1) Be the best husband, father, son and brother that I can be.

2) Lose some weight this year - at least 25 pounds.

3) Finish the PFR3A (a certainty!) and a few other kits I have here (not so certain!).

4) Get on the air more.

5) Send in my application for QRP DXCC (hope to do that this weekend).

6) Go somewhere really cool for FOBB 2010.

And some other things I can't remember right now. The plan for the rest of the evening is to relax, and watch the New Year roll in surrounded by my beautiful bride and out two kiddos. And if I don't get on for SKN tonight (bushed) I will definitely spend some time on the air with the new Christmas key tomorrow!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cripes !!!

Did not do well at all in the NAQCC mW Sprint tonight! It was a hit and miss effort as I began - got called away - and returned with about 15 minutes to go. So, in all of about 25 minutes worth of operating time, I made 4 QSOs.


I was running the K2 at the 700 mW level and reached Virginia, Ohio, Illinois and Maine.

The band seemed noisier than last night during the Fox hunt, too. And every time I settled onto a frequency to call CQ, I got run off by a higher powered station that couldn't hear me. All in all, not an effort to be proud of.

The weather for New Year's Eve is supposed to be less than stellar here. We are looking for some snow and freezing rain tomorrow. Not much; but enough to make the drive back and forth from work yucky.

With the long weekend coming, the plan is to inventory the parts for the PFR3A and begin melting solder. Temp over the weekend are supposed to be in the lower 30s, so the basement should be warmer than it was last night.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fox post mortem

I was having a great time tonight, handing put a steady stream of QSOs as one of the 80 Meter QRP Foxes. From 0200 to 0252 UTC, I was going great guns. Then somebody threw a switch and turned the propagation off! From 0252 to 0330 UTC, I had all of 6 QSOs.

Needless to say, that put a big cramp in my QSO goal. I was hoping for 60+ in the hour and a half; but the sudden loss of propagation whittled my QSO total to only 47.

I did operate split listening "DOWN" and it caused the Hounds who were chasing me no problem whatsoever! These QRPers are a fine bunch of fellows; and going outside the norm caused no sweat at all! That was nice to see.

I will post my log to the QFOX e-mail reflector tomorrow. The nice thing is that I get to do this one more time before the season ends. Hope propagation is better next time!

73 de Larry W2LJ

An hour until Fox time

Any chance that I might get drowsy and fall asleep at the key tonight are practically nil! It's a very cold outside, currently 12 F (-11C) . And no, I am not operating outside; but the basement shack is quite chilly tonight. When I last looked it was about 57 F (14C) down there; so I don't think that I'll be nodding off. I have two shirts and a sweater on; so I should be able to stay warm and comfortable for the duration.

I haven't turned on the radio yet; so I don't know what conditions will be like. I hope the QRN level is low. According to my G4ILO propagation box, the SSN is 17 and HF conditions are "stable". That should be good enough for a decent hour and a half of operating.

Tomorrow night is another interesting event. The NAQCC is running a mW Sprint. I really enjoy those! Last time I entered one a few years ago; I won; so you'll probably hear me on the air again tomorrow night, calling "CQ NA" at the 750 mW level or thereabouts.

If it stays cold like this, this Winter, I just might be able to run the FYBO event right from my basement! I'll bet it's chillier down there than some outdoor FYBO temps in Florida or California!

BTW, I see my stat counter went past the 50,000 mark today! Thank you very much to all of you who take the time to read this; and share a little Ham Radio with me.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, December 27, 2009

80 Meter Fox this Tuesday

I am fortunate to be one of the 80 Meter Foxes in this coming Tuesday night's 80 Meter Foxhunt, along with Drew K9CW. It is always a lot of fun and at the same time, a challenge to see how many contacts can be made in the 90 minutes of the Hunt.

As usual, I will be using my K2 and will be switching between the G5RV and the Butternut HF9V when the situation warrants it. I am hoping for good band conditions with a minimum of QRN and QRM from nets and the like. My goal is 60+ QSOs for the 90 minutes. I'm not a super gun contester by ANY stretch of the imagination; but I feel that if the band is decent, this will be a reachable goal for me.

99 & 44/100ths percent of the time, the Foxes work either simplex or split - listening up. Don't be surprised if W2LJ decides to spice up things a little bit by listening DOWN. It would probably mess up my QSO rate to do that; but one of the reasons for these Fox hunts is pile up training where you should always expect the unexpected, so .......

The other thing to keep in mind is that Thursday night (and all of New Year's Day for that matter) is Straight Key Night. This is the League's yearly effort to get us to dust off the keys and bugs and go "mechanical" for a bit. If you participate; please make sure to send a small blurb or paragraph to the soapbox. The more entries the better. It's a super low pressure and fun operating event; so even if you feel that you're rusty, that's no excuse to prevent you from getting on the air and having some fun. I have noticed that within the last few years, that in addition to using mechanical keys, a lot of Hams are using SKN to wax nostalgic and get on the air using boat anchor or vintage equipment also. It's fun to work Hams who are using the same type or brand of equipment that you may have owned years ago. It definitely makes for interesting QSOs.

I hope to participate fully this year - last New Year's Eve I was in the hospital wracked up with kidney stone pain; and I am hoping and praying for no repeat performances in that regard!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ham Radio Christmas

Besides the Morse Express Christmas Key from my lovely Marianne, I was surprised yesterday by one more Ham Radio gift. My "big sister" Ann Marie gave me an AA0ZZ keyer kit from the 4SQRP group. I don't recall whether I had dropped a "hint" or if she saw my blog posting from December 5th; but I was happy to receive it nonetheless.

I was also thrilled with the other gift she gave me, "The Doomsday Key" by one of my most favorite authors, James Rollins. This is yet another Sigma Force techno-thriller; and I have become a fan of them since reading "Map of Bones". I have since read the one that was written before that one and the ones that came after. I have even read a few of James non Sigma Force novels and have been entertained by all of them. If you've never read a Sigma Force novel then I would recommend reading them in chronological order, beginning with "Sandstorm" the moving on to "Map of Bones", "The Black Order", "The Judas Strain" and "The Last Oracle". "The Doomsday Key" comes next and another Sigma Force book is anticipated this Spring.

I hope to begin with the PFR3A this evening. Joey is busy on the main computer right now and once he's done I am going to download and print out the manual. I hope to begin inventorying the part tonight. Depending on how far I get, I will either complete that task tonight or finish tomorrow.

It has been a very miserable day after Christmas, here weather-wise. Lots of rain and wind. It it in the upper 30s and lower 40s but feels much colder. It is very "raw" outside. A good day and night to stay inside with the fireplace roaring happily away.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas !!!!

Merry Christmas to one and all !!! I sincerely hope that Santa was very good to you and left you a new transmitter or receiver or transceiver kit. Or perhaps a new key? Under the tree this morning, I found that Santa (Marianne) left me a brand new 2009 Christmas Key, which is way cool!

This one will work perfectly with the PFR3A which arrived last week. With all the Christmas baking that's been going on here in the W2LJ household, I have discovered that empty egg cartons make perfect holders for the electronic components that came in the PFR3A kit. I hope to get started on that this coming weekend!

Once again, please know that you have my family's sincerest wishes for a most Happy, Healthy, Contented, Loving, Peaceful and Merry Christmas ever!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve - A Baby Changes Everything

Coming from a Polish family, our bigger celebration of Christmas comes tomorrow - on Christmas Eve.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you out there a Merry and Blessed Christmas.

May you partake of the tranquility and joy that are the hallmarks of Christmas-tide.

May your holiday be filled with friends, family, good food and all the good things of the Season.

May the peace that we Christians believe the Christ child came to bring be part of your lives, now and forever.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, December 20, 2009

White Christmas ???

Only 8 inches in our area - towns closer to the shoreline got up to 2 feet of snow.

Unfortunately, the snow blower failed to start. New gasoline, new oil and a new spark plug did not remedy the situation. I am very fortunate that our snowfall was on the slighter side. There is a lawn mower / snow blower sales and repair shop not far from my house. I will take it there after Christmas.

On the radio side - no antenna damage to report!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, December 18, 2009

It came ..... and is coming!

I arrived home today to find my PFR3A waiting for me! A very nice surprise indeed! And to make up for the long wait, Doug KI6DS included one of his Battery Status Indicator kits. Very nice touch. I will have to go online tomorrow to download the new construction manual; as well as go to the PFR3 Yahoo group to take a look at the manual errata. Sunday, if there's enough time, I will do an inventory.

And it looks like there will be time on Sunday; as we are expecting the first major snow storm of the season to hit this weekend. It is cold enough that this will be an "all snow" and a "no rain" event. For the moment, the weather forecasters are talking about 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm).

I am planning to get up early tomorrow to get the snow blower out of the shed along with the gas can. I will have to hit the gas station, though, as I used the last of my gas when I last mowed the lawn for the season. You know what's going to happen, though ..... as soon as I get the snow blower out and gassed up - the storm will fizzle out.

My son and I went grocery shopping tonight; and the store was so crowded, you'd think they were giving food away. Most people were filling up on the staples; but I did my grocery shopping for the week (including Christmas). For the Holiday, we are having people over, so I procured a turkey and a ham and all the trimmings. If we do get snow, it looks like it will stay cold enough all week long, so that we will have a White Christmas this year. Those are few and far between.

Most of my Christmas shopping is done except for a few odds and ends that I can pick up easily. It will be nice to stay in and hibernate this weekend!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Blogger's note - Latest weather forecast is calling for 50+ MPH winds tomorrow night - it will be blizzard like! That's also when the majority of the snow accumulation is supposed to occur.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In time for Christmas ????

I finally could not hold out any longer and sent Doug KI6DS an e-mail asking if my PFR3 had been sent out. I received a reply that it hadn't; but Doug knew there was one back order left; and since he had lost his old e-mails in his ISP changeover; that he was waiting for an inquiry from SOMEONE.

Well, that someone is me; and Doug informed me that my PFR3 was to ship on Tuesday (yesterday). And for my patience, that I could expect something else thrown into the mix. Now I can REALLY hardly wait. I am desperately hoping that the kit arrives soon and in time for Christmas. I will put it under the Tree and will get started on it as soon as I can.

Work has been crazy .... no other way to describe it. We just finished prepping 256 servers that are needed for Friday morning. All that is left is to label them with their hostnames. I have been putting in a ton of hours, which I don't get paid for, unfortunately. But I'm glad to have a job and for being gainfully employed, even if I come too late or too exhausted to join the Fox hunt fray.

Even though I am not taking anytime off for Christmas, I am looking forward to the two longer weekends off. Maybe I'll be able to get some needed rest.

As far as last Sunday goes, the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall was ..... spectacular! The weather, however, was not. It rained the whole time and we all got soaked (pretty much). I was hoping for some walk around time to show the kids the Big Tree and the skating rink. That didn't happen. We did catch a brief glimpse of the Tree; but that was it. The kids were duly impressed by Manhattan, though. We promised them another trip to the Big Apple in the Spring, when the weather is warmer and hopefully dryer.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A trip down memory lane

Back when I was a kid, the major TV networks always ran "Christmas Commercials" around this time of year. I looked forward to them every year, as I knew once I saw these on TV - then Christmas was really imminent!

As an adult, I do not get to watch any where near as much TV as I did as a kid. Plus the fact there are so many channels now - we only had seven to pick from in those days - I don't know if the major networks even do this anymore. Plus the fact that wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" is somehow now taken as an insult.

Back in 1966, when I was 9 years old, this one came out, and for some reason, it has stuck with me; and I have never forgotten it. Maybe it's the simplicity of the message; but it has always stayed within the recesses of my memory. I was able to find it one day, while fooling around browsing YouTube. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

I hope you enjoy it and take it as a warm wish for peace, joy and love this coming Christmas Season.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, December 11, 2009

BRRRRRR !!!!!!!!!!

Last Saturday came the snow - today came the Arctic blast!

I awoke this morning to hear my Radio Shack indoor/outdoor thermometer beeping. It does that when the outdoor temperatures go below 37F (3C). It was way below 37F - it was a lovely (sarcasm mode on) 19F (-7C). And it was windy to boot! Factoring in the wind chill it felt like it was in the single Fahrenheit digits (way -C digits!). Christmas decorations, garbage cans, whatever is not tied down outside is blowing around. As I sit and type this, it is currently 24F (-4C) and the wind continues to blow.

I am hoping for some moderation as this Sunday we are taking the kids into Manhattan for the very first time to see the gigantic Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center and the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall. They have no idea what a real city environment is like - only what they've seen on TV. I am sure it will be a surprise to both of them. I am betting that Cara, my daughter, will love it; while my son, Joey, will probably be ho-hum about it.

On a radio note, I was hoping my PFR3 would be in the mailbox today when I got home. It was not. According to Doug KI6DS, the first batches went out last Monday and yesterday. I thought that since I placed my order way back in September, before the "Out of Stock" sign was even posted, that I'd be in the first batch. Guess not. Here's hoping that I see it next week.

What is concerning me is that I didn't receive an e-mail from Doug notifying me that my kit had shipped. For some reason, I thought that was supposed to happen. I hope that I am mistaken and that it shows up in the next few days. If I don't receive anything by next Friday, I guess I'll have to be a nudge.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Tonight would be a good night to play radio with the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt AND the NAQCC monthly sprint going on ..... but I am afraid I would fall asleep at the key!

Between yesterday and today at work, I feel like I have spent an entire week there already; and it's only Tuesday night! My partner and I have prepped over 200 switches, servers and routers for install within these two days. That is about a normal week's worth of work in two days. I am too pooped to dit or dah. In fact, as soon as I finish this, I am hitting the rack.

I wanted to share, however, that Doug Hendricks KI6DS posted to the PFR3 group yesterday that all the kits on back order are shipping today and Thursday. That is certainly good news; and I am anxiously waiting for mine to arrive. A timely Christmas present to myself indeed! (Even if I did have to sell a couple of items off to raise the money!)

I sense solder beginning to melt in the very near future!

Oh, by the way, I am posting this via an Acer Aspire One that I won on eBay. The wireless network thing is working great at the W2LJ household; and I can now make these posts even when the XYL is busily using the main desktop computer. Ain't technology great!

I gotta say "Good Night" for now - I am making so many typos that I am hitting the Backspace key more than any other!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, December 05, 2009

First taste of Winter

Winter does not "officially" arrive in New Jersey for another two weeks or so; but Ol' Man Winter sent us his calling card in advance warning today. The day started out with some rain and drizzle; but by lunchtime, the precipitation had turned into wet snow. Not any real accumulation, just a "dusting" of wet slush on grassy surfaces; but it was enough to raise the hackles on the back of my neck.

I am a warm weather person. I love the warmth. Give me May, June, July and August any day of the week. When the weather turns colder and the days grow shorter, I am ready to join the bears for hibernation. Like I've said before, the only good thing about this time of year is the return of good operating conditions to 80 Meters.

I spent some time with Bob W3BBO on Echolink this afternoon. We meet every Saturday for a BS session. We gripe, we moan, we fill each other in on our doings, both radio-wise and not. A lot of times we give each other good ideas and today was no exception.

Today, Bob filled me in on something I already knew about; but it was more or less on the periphery of my gray matter. Bob was telling me about the new keyer kit from the 4SQRP group, the AA0ZZ EZKeyer kit. Bob just recently built one to use with his PFR3. He built his in a little project box, not an Altoids tin as show below:

He really likes the keyer and he painted the box yellow to match the PFR3. He says that it is a lot easier to program and manage the memories of this little guy; than the memories of the built in keyer of the PFR3. Of course, this naturally got me thinking ....... so Santa ........

Anyway, before I get off track, we then got into a discussion of when I will probably see my PFR3. Bob and I both know that according to the Hendricks QRPKits website that PFR3s were supposed to begin shipping this week. But given the past track record; and the fact that I am a realist by nature, I told Bob that I expect to see my kit sometime in early January (if I'm lucky). Considering I ordered and paid for the kit in September ......... I won't say anymore because I'll only end up sticking my foot in my mouth.

What a difference a week makes, eh? This time last weekend the bands were simply humming. Tonight we go back to, "Anybody out there?" Maybe everybody's up on 160 Meters for the contest. I still have to finish that 160 Meter board for my K2 and get it installed.

Tomorrow, if everything goes according to plan, the day will be spent decorating the house for Christmas. I did the outdoor stuff last weekend; and am I ever glad that I did. Last Sunday the high temp for the day was near 60 degrees. Tomorrow's high is expected to be somewhere near 42 degrees!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, December 03, 2009

40 Meter Foxhunt

The band started out quietly without the normal neighborhood QRN. I was able to work one of the 40 Meter Foxes, Dale WC7S out of Wyoming. The QSB was deep and reception of Dale was up and down. He was anywhere from 579 to nearly inaudible. But work him I did; and when I went to go find the other Fox - Whammo! The 20 over 9 curtain of neighborhood noise turned on and I shut it down for the evening.

The good news is that this is the first week of December; and this is the week that my PFR3 is supposed to ship. I can't wait to get started on a new kit; and am very much looking forward to this. I cannot wait to get it on the air; to see how the PFR3 stacks up against the K1. I will probably keep both (you can NEVER have too many radios); but you never know. Maybe one will end up becoming seed money for some other QRP kit or project.

The disappointment for the day was finally seeing the Fox log from Tuesday night for Scott N0AR. I was positive that I had worked him; only to view his log tonight and see someone else's callsign in the time slot where I thought I would see mine. Just goes to show that even when you think you have a pelt in the bag; you have to check the log to make sure.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

80 Meters and the weather

Last night during the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt, conditions once again seemed more like summer than late autumn. Static was really bad; and I'm sure it has a lot to do with the weather that will be coming through the next couple of days.

I awoke this morning to find the temperatures were in the high 20s. During the day the temperature rose steadily as it began to rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy with a high in the lower 60s. Then the temps are supposed to fall steadily with highs only in the low 40s for Saturday and Sunday.

This roller coaster of temps and air masses seems to be causing instability in the atmosphere and the resulting QRN. Once winter decides to settle in, I'm sure that conditions will improve.

Although conditions on 160 Meters seem to be good. If you read K3WWP's diary, you'll see that he had quite the time participating in a 160 Meter contest. I would have thought that conditions for 160 Meters would mimic the conditions on 80 Meters. Guess I still have a lot to learn.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Late addition

I am sitting here listening to the waning minutes of the CQ WW DX Contest. I expect that in 15 minutes or so; the bands will become eerily silent. For all the activity that has occurred over the past 48 hours; it makes you wonder where everyone goes when the contest is over!

I am listening to CN3A hand out QSOs on 40 Meters with machine gun like precision. I was very surprised to check my e-mail earlier to find that Spiros had sent me an e-mail congratulating me for busting the pileup with QRP. I did not mention that I was working QRP. I can only imagine that they must be checking calls with QRZ and they might have seen my bio, which includes a lot about QRP.

I did get another to bring the DXCC entity count up to 102. One of the countries I have been chasing all weekend long is Austria. As I've mentioned before, it's one of the bigger European nations that I have failed to work QRP. I have heard several OE stations over the past 48 hours; but had no luck. Then, at 22:50 UTC, I heard and worked OE9R. Amazing how the best ears get even better as the last hours of a major DX contest melt away!

In all, it was an excellent weekend radio-wise. I accomplished a long standing goal, which is great. And I had a lot easier time decoding those rapid fire call sign exchanges. All these years of operating CW and continually engaging in listening to higher speed CW seems to be paying off.

Now all I have to do is get busy with actually submitting for QRP DXCC.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Mission Accomplished !

Thank you CQ magazine for sponsoring the CQ WW DX Contest. As a by product of all the wild and woolly happenings on the CW bands this weekend, I did complete my mission by acquiring all the QSOs needed for QRP DXCC. In fact, I even went over by one - I now have worked 101 DXCC entities since beginning this back in February of 2004.

The last six to bring me over the top were:

YS4/DF7OGO - El Salvador
HK4CZE - Colombia
CN3A - Morocco
OA4SS - Peru
9L5A - Sierra Leone
LN9Z - Norway

I encourage all to take on this challenge. It was fun; and I did it off and on over the past almost six years. Most of them were worked while we've been in the sun spot doldrums. So if I was able to do this, anyone should be able to in the next few years as the sun heats up again.

The equipment here was not special - all told, two rigs were used - my K1 and my K2. Antennas varied depending upon the situation. It was either Hamsticks, the PAC-12, Buddipole or Buddistick, G5RV or Butternut HF9V vertical. The G5RV and HF9V accounted for the most. No beams, yagis, towers or other "enhanced" antennas. Just basic antennas you'd find in the typical suburban Ham back yard.

What's next? Maybe I'll start over; but this time QRPp. That should get me to begin to tear my hair out!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There's a plethora of DX out there

on the bands! And you really have to be a die hard anti-contester if you don't at least jump in to try and find a few new ones. The bands are humming with all kinds of countries, from the real exotic to some of the more familiar ones. It's a veritable smorgasbord!

There are two European countries which are kind of common that I have worked many times; but not QRP - Norway and Austria. I figured if I bagged those two - that would bring me up to 99 DXCC entities worked. Up and down 20 Meters and up and down 40 Meters, I hunted and searched. Finally on 40 Meters I found an Austrian station and called for what must have been a half hour and no dice. Further on down the band I heard CN3A - Morocco! Called and broke the pile up on about my fifth try. Go figure! I have NEVER worked Morocco before, let alone QRP; so not only will he count towards QRP DXCC; but now I have to make sure I get his card so I can count him towards my regular DXCC total. As of right now, I think that's 137 countries confirmed. I know, I'm not burning up the DX world but I'm proud of that just the same.

I just came down the basement again to give a listen for a while and my old neighborhood nemesis QRN is back. I figured to call it quits for a bit and would compose this blog entry. Then maybe I'll watch some TV for a bit. Usually after about 11:00 PM or so, whatever neighbor it is turns off the offending appliance and the QRN disappears for the evening. So I'll give it another shot in a half hour or so.

Two more and I will have the 100 that I need!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another thing to be thankful for

is CQ magazine; and no, I am not being tongue-in-cheek here. CQ has become my favorite Ham Radio publication for several reasons; but let's look at the December 2009 edition which just arrived this week.

First off, the cover photos are almost always actual, everyday Hams. This month, the photo is of Bill and Ruby O'Kain - K4LTA and K4UPS respectively. I have worked Bill many times. If I were to go into Win-EQF and do a search on his call, I'm positive that I'd see 20 - 30 entries with his callsign. I've even worked him while operating portable from Lake George while on vacation. It's so nice to see CQ's covers are not dedicated to just the "celebrity" Hams; but also include "every day Joe's" like you and me.

I love the articles by Dave Ingram K4TWJ. It seems our interests really coincide - QRP and CW. I get kept up to date with some of the newest gadgets by reading Dave's articles. The new kit building column is great, too. This month I was surprised and delighted to see a photo of Kelly K4UPG and hsi grandson doing some kit building at the latest Ozarkcon.

I also love reading Ted Melinosky's (K1BV) on operating awards. It seems I never have the required number of QSOs to qualify for any of them; but they are a pleasure to look at and dream about.

Also, the fact that CQ now offers WorldRadio on line is like the icing on the cake. I have met and talked with Rich Moseson W2VU several times; and he is a great ambassador for Amateur Radio. He appreciates our illustrious history while always keeping an eye peeled on the new trends and developments.

Yep, in my book CQ Magazine, WorldRadio and QRP Quarterly are my trio of favorites. I always am happy when a new issue is put out there; and I am rarely disappointed with any of them.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Two new ones

I can now bring up my QRP DXCC country (entity) count up to 97 worked. I worked two new ones today. Actually, they're not new as I have worked these countries before; but they are new since going totally QRP back in 2003.

I worked El Salvador YS4/DF7OGO and Columbia HK4CZE on 20 Meters this afternoon. Both were worked with 5 Watts to the G5RV. The El Salvador QSO was a little on the tough side with a lot of fills given on my part. The Columbia QSO was relatively easy. Jorge gave me a 579 and in neither case did I mention I was running QRP.

In fact, I really never mention in QSO that I am running QRP. It really doesn't make a difference to the receiving station - they either hear me well enough to work me; or they don't. As much as I like QRP, it's a personal satisfaction thing for me; and I see no point in hitting anyone over the head with it.

The bands are pretty quiet now - the calm before the storm. In just under two hours, the bands will probably become utter mayhem for the next two days. Hopefully, in that amount of time, I will work three more "new ones" to bring my QRP DXCC count up to 100. Then, I can file for that really neat looking ARRL award.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Twas a nice day.

Thanksgiving 2009 was a nice day. The weather was decent and actually on the warm side for late November. We were supposed to go over to my sister's house for dinner; but it seems my brother-in-law has come down with the flu (or something). My sister was kind enough to advise us of the situation; so we switched gears and had our Thanksgiving Dinner at a restaurant with my wife's brother and his wife and my mother-in-law.

The food was buffet style and was terrific! There were shrimp, oysters and garden salad to be enjoyed before the main course. Of all the food available for the taking, I had turkey (of course) but also some duck and some chicken. So in a way, I had some turducken, even if it wasn't cooked that way. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a turducken is a chicken stuffed inside a duck, which is then stuffed inside a turkey. They are cooked together for one massive piece of poultry heaven. It's a Southland specialty and I've been wanting to try that for the longest time. This is the closest I've come without actually consuming a turducken. There was also sweet potatoes, turnips, cranberry sauce and the obligatory stuffing. There were many other things to try; but I held off and stayed with the poultry today. Dessert was pumpkin cheesecake - wow! The food was out of this world; and I didn't have to cook! How can you beat that!

The disappointment today was an eBay mishap. I missed out on the sale of Acers at Target; so I found what appeared to be a good deal on eBay. I was outbid at the last moment; but when I came home to check my e-mail tonight, I saw I was made a "Second Chance Offer", as the winner changed his mind and no longer wanted it. I paid up via PayPal sooner than you could say "Jack Robinson". Still stoked an hour later, I received an e-mail from the seller that he had refunded my money because the winning bidder had changed his mind once again and submitted payment. C'est la guerre, I guess. I did check with PayPal and my money was indeed refunded; so at least there's no problem there.

My disappointment was slightly mollified by good band conditions on 40 Meters tonight. Since it's a holiday, the cause of my neighborhood QRN problem must be away and for once, there was no noise to speak of! I managed to work both Foxes in the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt tonight and that's the first time that has occurred in a couple of years!

This weekend is the CW WW DX contest - CW portion. I only need five more new countries to qualify for QRP DXCC. You know I am going to try my darnedest to root up five new ones to finish this up. I am not in the contest to participate in any big way other than to have fun and find five new ones. They don't have to be exotic - they just need to be new to me via QRP.

Wish me luck!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I am home for the Thanksgiving holiday after another atrocious 12 hour day at work. It feels like they tried to cram 24 hours worth of work into that 12 hour period. But now I am enjoying the comforts of home and family. Every year, I make an attempt to remember the gifts that God has given me, for which I am most grateful. Here are just some of the things that come to mind:

I am thankful for having the best wife on earth - my lovely bride, Marianne. I go on bended knee to thank God for my wonderful son, Joey and my wonderful daughter, Cara.

I thank God that he has blessed our family with good health, which is beyond all price.

I thank God for our jobs that allow us to have a warm, dry house to live in and plenty of food on the table.

I am grateful for our pets, particularly Jesse our Brittany and Sadie our cat.

I am grateful for my Mom, my sister, brothers-in-law and my nephew and all my close and extended family.

I am grateful for our great country and the freedoms that we enjoy.

I am grateful to the brave men and women who fight and have fought to keep those freedoms ours.

I am grateful for our community and our Church community and all our friends and neighbors.

I am grateful four our relatives (Dad) who have passed on to their final reward and how they enriched our lives while they were with us.

I am grateful that I have the next four days off to relax, unwind and spend some quality time with my family.

I could go on and on and not mention all that I am grateful for; but I do acknowledge that none of this is actually mine. It all belongs to God - He just lets me enjoy all these things for the small amount of time that I am on this earth. So tomorrow morning, I will get up earlier than I have to, to go to Mass and offer proper thanks to Him,

I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. May God bless your families and friends and the good times that you share with them!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some 80 Meter success

Tonight is once again the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt. Conditions on 80 Meters tonight are more reminiscent of Spring than late Autumn. The band is very noisy tonight - almost like thunderstorm season.

I managed to work Ron W8RU right off the bat. Ron is in Michigan and he had a strong signal into NJ; but there was a lot of QSB. I got him on the first call; and that was a treat. It's always nice to know you're being heard.

The other Fox will probably be almost impossible to bag tonight. Paul NG7Z is in Washington state; and I don't think that 80 Meters is going to run long enough to nab him. Even if it does, Paul will probably be way below the noise floor. I will check from time to time; but I am not holding my breath on catching this Fox.

I went to Target tonight to pick up an Acer Netbook. They have them on sale for $199 through tomorrow. Disappointment was mine as I was told they were sold out and probably would not replenish stock before the sale ends tomorrow. Oh, well - guess it wasn't meant to be. I could be a fool and check out Wal-Mart this Friday morning. The big question is, do I want one THAT bad as to go out and take on the Black Friday feeding frenzy?

Today was a bear at work. I managed to prep 41 of the 85 servers needed for tomorrow night. That added to what we got ready on Monday leaves us with only 7 to get ready tomorrow. While moving around one of the boxes, I managed to slightly sprain the third and fourth fingers on my left hand. No serious damage - just an annoyance.

One more work day until a four day weekend - I am using a vacation day on Friday. Tomorrow night I will post my annual Thanksgiving blog entry.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nothing doing

I got on the radio for a bit this past weekend. Nothing exciting or out of the ordinary to report on. I did not play in the SSB portion of the Sweeps; as I don't have SSB capability.

Tomorrow night is the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt and I am looking forward to that. However, I might have to work late tomorrow night; and am not sure of the impact yet.

Target has the ACER Netbook that I want on sale until Wednesday night. It's priced at $199 and I just might pull the trigger.

Tomorrow and Wednesday are looking to be "bears" at work. I have to have 85 Dell Poweredge R610 servers ready for install for Wednesday night; and so far 30 haven't even been delivered yet!

I am sitting here desperately wishing that this was Wednesday evening; and that I was embarking on the beginning of a much needed four day weekend.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another frustrating night

Well, 40 Meters started out decently quiet for tonight's Fox hunt; but it has become quite noisy with the local neighborhood QRN within the last few minutes. And that's a shame as Jay KT5E was coming in quite nicely to NJ. It was either a matter of time before I worked him or before the QRN took the band over. Unfortunately for now, it looks like the QRN is winning.

On the bright side, however, I am making this blog entry from the shack in the basement as I listen to that nasty QRN. We recently subscribed to Verizon FiOS TV and Internet. The Web blazes now and in addition, they set up a wireless router. I picked up a wireless PCMCIA card for this dinosaur laptop and actually got things hooked up!

Now I'll have to subscribe to a callbook service so that Win-EQF can gets its information from the Net instead of buying CDs from QRZ every now and then.

Darn! The QRN is working its way on up from S5 to 10 over 9. Looks like it may be an early night on 40 Meters. Maybe I'll go have a rag chew on 80 Meters before pulling the plug.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NAQCC Sprint

The monthly NAQCC Sprint was held tonight; and for the first time in a long time, I was able to participate. No meetings, conferences or other duties called tonight - just me and the radio. My heart sank a bit at the beginning as 40 Meters was plagued by the ol' neighborhood QRN. Solid bars on the K2 to about 10 over 9. Wow!

So I decided to do the Sprint mono-band this month. I stayed on 80 Meters the whole time with one or two quick switches over to 40 Meters to see if the QRN had abated. It hadn't. But that didn't spoil my fun as 80 Meters, while a bit noisy with static crashes, was hopping tonight!

35 QSOs in the two hours of the Sprint. And that was darned well better than I thought I would do at the outset. If you had told me at the beginning, that I was going to see 35 QSOs on 80 Meters only, I might have looked at you a tad funny.

It was nice to hear old familiar calls like W1OH, KA2KGP, N8FVM, K4BAI and others; but it was also nice to hear a few unfamiliar calls with higher SKCC member numbers. That means the new guys are jumping in with both feet and getting active. That's a good thing.

I have to say, though, that two solid hours on the straight key was not all that tough on my wrist and arm. Maybe I'll feel it tomorrow; but as of right now, everything feels great!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cards from the buro

I came home today to find a small packet of QSL cards waiting for me from the 2nd call area bureau. Not many and nothing exotic; but it's always nice to get DX cards.

Mostly cards from Spain, Germany, Latvia, Canada, and Slovenia. A few of them have really nice pictures and I'd like to scan them and post them; but my scanner doesn't work with Vista.

When I went out to buy the new printer, I didn't buy a multi-purpose job because "I have a scanner already at home". Stupid me didn't stop to think that the old scanner wouldn't work with Vista.

The other alternative, which I might try, is to hook up the scanner to my shack laptop which is running Windows 2000. I could load images up on that computer and just carry them over to this computer using my USB memory stick. That should work; but am wondering if it's worth the trouble.

I need to win the lottery so I can buy myself a decent, current laptop.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Woo Hoo!

The official announcement came down today!

"Finally, I have a firm date on all the parts needed for the return of the PFR-3 radios, which will now be known as the PFR-3A. Steve redid the board and fixed some minor glitches that were bugging him. The board has new software that is NOT backward compatible to the PFR3. It is different because the new board required it. So no, you don't need to upgrade your software in your atmel chip.

The kits will be ready to ship the first week of December. Now the bad news, I have to take a price increase of $25. There is a special offer for anyone who orders between now and Dec. 1st. I will honor the old price of $200 for the kit. The price will officially change on Dec. 1st. So if you are thinking of ordering, don't hold off, so you won't be hit with the price increase. You may order by going to the website and clicking on the PFR3 picture. Dean will keep everything the same on the pricing until Dec. 1st. Steve will have the new manual up in a few days, well before the kits ship.

Thank you again for your incredible patience and support on a great Steve Weber design. 72, Doug"

Just the news I was looking for! And just in time for Winter building season!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An excellent blog post

was made by SolderSmoke news during the week. It interested me so much that I am posting the link here, too.

The story is about Larry Baysinger, an AM Broadcast Radio technician in Louisville, KY, who was also an amateur radio astronomer. He used one of his home made radio telescopes to intercept raw radio transmissions that were coming from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while they were on the surface of the moon.

His main interest was to see if NASA was editing the audio in anyway before allowing it to be broadcast to the public. For those who might be skeptical that he was picking up spurious radio transmissions from a ground station, Baysinger was ONLY able to hear the transmissions when he pointed his radio telescope directly AT the moon. In any other position, he heard nothing; and he had to sight his antenna visually.

He recorded what he received for posterity; and if you go to the link above, you can listed to mp3 files that he made of his recordings. Notice that you will hear Aldrin and Armstrong only - no Mike Collins who was in the Command Module, nor any CAPCOM or Public Affairs Office announcements.

This has to be one of the coolest homebrew stories of all time!

By the way, Baysinger found that, by comparing his recordings to those that were taken from TV, that NASA did indeed NOT cut or edit anything from the signals that were received from the moon.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, November 12, 2009

40 Meter QRP Fox hunt success.

The local neighborhood QRN cooperated tonight, giving me pretty quiet band conditions on 40 Meters. I heard Dave AB9CA in Alabama right off the bat. Dave always has a pretty good signal into NJ; and tonight was no exception. He was an honest 579 and I worked him fairly early in the hunt.

Jim K9JWV in Utah was another story. I'm pretty sure I heard him all the way up near 7.050 MHz; but he was at ESP levels and I couldn't be 100% sure that it was him. But I am pretty sure that I heard a few hounds giving their exchanges.

40 Meters was quite long! Stronger than Jim in Utah were stations coming in from Brazil PY and Mexico XE. I would have stayed on the air to work a few; but am battling a head cold or sinus attack or something and all I want to do is get some rest.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009 - Part Two

John Shannon posted this in his diary entry for the day. I get the same weekly letter that he gets from Newt Gingrich (we conservative whackaloons tend to flock together). However, reading this once again, caused a bit of mist to come to the eyes. It is so appropriate and meaningful on today, of all days, that I feel compelled to post it here, also.

Once again, to all Veteran's everywhere - Thank You !!!!

"Where Do We Get These Men and Women?"

"This Veterans Day, I am reminded once again of the wonderful line at the end of the movie adaptation of James Michener's The Bridges at Toko Ri.

A Navy Admiral is reflecting on the sacrifice of airmen given the mission of destroying a group of heavily defended bridges during the Korean War. The men were successful, but at the cost of their lives, leading the Admiral to famously ask:

"Where do we get these men?"

Today, the question is "Where do we get these men and women?" and last week, the answer was Killeen, Texas.

Answer: Killeen, Texas

Killeen is the home of heroes this Veterans Day; men and women who prove that our servicemen and women don't leave their bravery and selflessness behind on the battlefield.

Killeen was also the site of terrorism last week; proof that we are not immune from Islamic extremism inside our borders, even on our military bases.

Killeen is the home of Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a Department of Defense civilian police officer and an Army veteran.

Sgt. Munley was nearby getting her car tuned-up when the 911 call came in. Without waiting for backup, she was the first law enforcement official to arrive on the scene at Fort Hood.

"She Fired Until He Dropped. The Killing Ended."

Much has been written about Sgt. Munley's heroism, but few have described her behavior in the heat of a confrontation with the Fort Hood shooter better than the editorial writers at the Las Vegas Review-Sun

"Could Sgt. Munley, hit in the wrist and both thighs, really be blamed if she'd ducked for cover? She didn't. From all reports, she stood her ground under fire, calmly reacquiring her sight picture, putting four rounds right where she wanted, in the advancing murderer's center of mass. She fired until he dropped. The killing ended."

The Heroes Who Brought Down the Berlin Wall

This Veterans Day week also marks the celebration of another set of American heroes: The men and women who put their shoulders to the Berlin Wall and pushed -- until it finally fell 20 years ago this Monday.

Where did we get these men and women? From all across America and everywhere freedom and human dignity are valued.

For although the revolution in Eastern Europe occurred without a shot being fired, countless Americans -- not to mention Britons, Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians -- sacrificed for that day.

Before there was a wall in Berlin, there was the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Communist regime in Moscow tried to literally starve West Berlin to death. President Harry S. Truman ordered an airlift to feed West Berliners and resist Soviet aggression. Seventy-one American and British servicemen lost their lives.

And before there was a victory for freedom, 20 years ago this week, there were unflinching advocates for freedom in Eastern Europe like Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.

These are the heroes we honor today.

Washington Seems More at Home with International Dictators Than America and Its Heroes

"Hero" is not a word we use a lot these days. We have a media dedicated to destroying, not showcasing, greatness. We have popular culture determined to celebrate victimhood rather than heroism. And we have a regime in Washington that seems more at home with international autocrats and dictators than America and its heroes.

But the inescapable fact of America is this: Ours is a country founded and defended, not by conciliation and sophisticated diplomatic gestures, but by honor, bravery and sacrifice.

Our heroes are not incidental to our nationhood but an essential part of it. Why? Because America is not, contrary to what our President believes, merely a nation among nations. We are, on our best days, closer to what Ronald Reagan believed: A shining city on a hill.

Take the Time Today to Thank a Veteran For His Service

The heroes of our city on a hill stretch back from Killeen, Texas, through a bloody 20th Century and a great Civil War, all the way to our founding.

They are the men who left a trail of blood in the snow of Northern Pennsylvania on Christmas night, 1776.

They are the men and women who serve today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So make sure you take the time today to thank a veteran for his or her service. Take the time to remember and honor a hero.

Because in doing so you are answering the Navy Admiral's question at Toko Ri.

Where do we get these men and women? From a nation that remains worthy of their sacrifice."

Thank you, Mr. Gingrich for writing this.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

80 Meter Fox hunts

Thank God for the 80 Meter QRP Foxhunts! I bagged both Foxes tonight, Todd N9NE and Drew K9CW. Both were loud, and easy to find.

I have been doing terribly on the 40 Meter Thursday night hunts. So far, when propagation has been good, the local neighborhood QRN has been overwhelming; and when the QRN is gone, the propagation has been bad and the Foxes are at ESP levels.

At least with the 80 Meter hunts, I feel like I have a reasonable shot and that I am participating.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Veteran's Day 2009

To all who have served:

"Thank You"

although that is not nearly enough! Freedom isn't free and we thank you for your sacrifice for the rest of us.

For those who have made the "Ultimate Sacrifice" and their families:

You are in our prayers, always.

A special remembrance to those who died and survived the Ft. Hood massacre:

You are in our prayers in a special way this year.

From a grateful Nation.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Busy non-Ham day today!

The weather was beautiful today; as it was yesterday. But today was a lot warmer than yesterday. Today's high was somewhere near 67 degrees. This has been the first rain free weekend in a month or so.

So, I got busy today doing a lot of non-Ham Radio related chores. I got the grocery shopping done and came home to take care of much needed to get done yard work. Instead of raking the balance of the leaves, I ran over them with the mulching mower and killed two birds with one stone. I got the lawn mowed for the last time this season and fertilized it at the same time with very finely chopped up leaf residue.

In all, I bagged 27 of those huge paper bags with leaves this season. They will be picked up later this month by the township to the community compost pile.

After that was done, I cleaned up the garden for the winter. Got rid of the withered sunflower plants and the withered tomato vines. I collected about a dozen green tomatoes, which I deposited in brown paper bags. In a week or two, I should have the last ripe tomatoes from the garden. It was a good tomato year. My four plants yielded a lot of tomatoes, with the biggest one weighing in at two pounds! These were Rutger's Beefsteak and Early Girl varieties that I planted this year.

Then I put away the patio furniture and in essence, got the outside ready for winter. All the while I was sweating bullets from how warm it was outside! It is supposed to remain warm until about Thursday, when the temps are supposed to revert to something more normal. I guess this is our Indian Summer, which usually occurs in October, but didn't.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, November 07, 2009


If you're aiming to start or complete Worked All States via QRP, this weekend is a good place to get going; or possibly finish.

About 15 minutes ago, the ARRL Sweepstakes began. To read the rules, you can go to:

The contest involves a lengthy and unique exchange:

First you give a consecutive serial number followed by your precedence. If you're running QRP, your precedence will be a "Q" fittingly enough. Then your callsign, which is then followed by the last two digits of the year you were licensed. Lastly, you finish with your ARRL section.

That seem like a lot to send; but once you get into a rhythm and get used to it; it's not so bad.

Keep your ears sharp and you will probably be able to find some of those "hard ones" like DE, RI, AK, HI, ND. SD, etc.

Good luck and happy contesting!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, November 06, 2009

New WGØAT video

Rather than post a link to Steve WGØAT's newest video, I will embed it here.

I ran into Steve on the air last Monday night during the ARS Spartan Sprint and he included me in his video! Cool beans!

A ton of kudos to Steve for all the good videos he has on his various Ham Radio and QRP activities. It's great that he's out there posting these on YouTube for the world to see. Not only does it spread the word that QRP and portable Ham Radio are fun; but it also makes it look "cool", at least in my opinion.

I think there's a lot of folks out there who still perceive Ham Radio operators as a bunch of geeks or nerds squirreled away in a basement or a closet somewhere behind a huge, tubed monstrosity (you know, the 50's television version of us).

When they see videos like Steve's or articles like Jim W1PID's great series, some epiphanies begin to happen. "Hey look! These guys are out there using the tiny low powered radios (think Green) enjoying Nature and the Great Outdoors. I didn't think you could do that!"

I'm not talking about setting the Ham Radio world on fire with tons of new recruits; but if a handful of people get excited and start thinking,"Hey! I want to do that, too!", then so much the better.

On another completely different note, it's been quite the busy Ham Radio week for me, this past week. Zombie Shuffle last Friday, ARS Spartan Sprint on Monday and Fox hunts on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Kind of feeling like I did when I did the "QSO a Day" thing back in 2005 (or was that 2006?).

Anyway, it's been a lot of fun; and has been an impetus to get on the air even more. Air time begets air time - I'm convinced of it.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wasted days and wasted nights

This was a wasted night. It's 40 Meter Fox hunt night; and the QRN level for me is ZERO tonight! Perfect, you would think, no?

No Foxes! No Hounds! Just a bunch of stations conducting Sweepstakes practice - which is fine with me; but ......

No Foxes? No Hounds, even? On a night when the local neighborhood QRN is a zero?

What a wasted opportunity!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Zombie Shuffle score

I really hadn't planned on sending in my Zombie Shuffle score; I was in it just for the fun. Also, I was celebrating that it was Friday night after a long work week and I was happy just to be home enjoying the hobby that I love the most.

However, a post by Paul NA5N appeared on QRP-L yesterday; and it served as an impetus for me to find out just how well I might have done.

The post follows:


I have the Zombie Shuffle results, from the logs received thus far, now posted on the website along with a couple of other goodies.

What always amazes me, is no matter how lousy the bands are, there are always a few QRPers that can manage to squeeze blood from a turnip and fill up a log book. You'll see that three ops managed over 100,000 points and others over 70,000. This has to be the result of being top-notch operators, unusual skills (not necessarily code speed), and a good station and antennas. These are the same guys that top score other QRP events. You have to take your hats off to these fellas. They should encourage us all to get on the air, improve our own skills, and perhaps our stations.

So if you worked N9NE, AB9CA, WA5BDU, W3BBO, N5IB, AA1MY, W2LJ, or the like, you worked some of the best.

Most important, of course, is just getting on the air and working fellow QRPers, and even more enjoyable when it's an old friend or a familiar call. That's the fun part for me, anyway.

72, Paul NA5N

To be mentioned in the same breath with those other call signs blew me away! Thank you, Paul, for the most kind words! After that, how could I not get off my butt and report my score?

It worked out like this:

17 Zombie Shuffle QSOs
Total of Zombie numbers = 8,222
Total S/P/C's worked - 14

Final Score: 8,222 X 14 = 115,108

But I have to reiterate what Paul said in his post; and it's the same whether it's the Zombie Shuffle, the Hoot Owl Sprint, a QRP ARCI QSO Party or an RFTB or NAQCC Sprint:

"Most important, of course, is just getting on the air and working fellow QRPers, and even more enjoyable when it's an old friend or a familiar call. That's the fun part for me, anyway."

I agree - 110% !!!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The time change

is kicking my butt. The older I get, the more I notice it. What really gets to me is that now, as I get in my car for the drive home from work, the sun is already setting. When I pull up in front of the house, it's advanced darkness. The only bright thought is that in less than two months we will experience the shortest day of the year; and the days will begin getting longer again.

Well, maybe that's not the ONLY bright thought. The darkness does mean good night time band conditions on 80 and 40 Meters. And with the cold weather approaching, it's building time in earnest again. And I just remembered - tonight is 80M QRP Fox Hunt night!

I got the latest edition of QRP Quarterly today. As always, another good issue; and another fantastic job by my friend and fellow Flying Pig, Brian KB9BVN who is now the editor of QQ. I have published several amateur radio club newsletters and have done this blog and my own Webpage. Putting things down in printed form is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Brian makes it look easy, which is the hallmark of a good editor.

Looking at the results for the Hoot Owl Sprint this past Spring, I see that I came in at 7th place. Seeing my call sign closer to the top than bottom of the results always makes me smile. Whenever it's a major sprint, that's usually not the case - so I enjoy it when I can.

My friends Bob W3BBO and Neal W3CUV have both created several homebrew projects which I think are prime material for QQ articles. I'll have to keep bugging them about that! Not only are their ideas great; but I think they would be widely accepted a "good stuff" by the QRP community at large.

I got a note from Steve WGØAT today. He is going to be putting out a video soon of his experience last night working the ARS Spartan Sprint. He was at the base of his tower in the 38F chill working fellow QRPers with his IC-703 and his Brown Brothers paddles. To get a "preview" visit here:

That's it for now!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, November 02, 2009

Spartan Sprint

I participated in the Adventure Radio Society Spartan Sprint tonight. This was the first time in a long time; maybe even the first time since they abandoned their Website for the Wiki page.

40 Meters was once again QRN free for me tonight (sure it won't be that way Thursday for the Foxes!); and it was also signal free! Not many stations at all; and the band seemed to be long. I did manage to work Steve WG0AT; but somehow I doubt Rooster and Peanut were close by. The other three stations I worked were in Texas.

80 Meters yielded more contacts. I worked Maine, Illinois, Kentucky and Georgia to name a few. There were more; but not a ton more. In the hour and a half that I was on the air; I worked a total of 14 stations on both bands.

In days past, it was not uncommon to work 40 -50 stations in the two hours. I don't know if the drop off is due to band conditions or fall off in participation. Proabably a mixture of both.

On a totally different note, I ordered my free Windows 7 upgrade from Dell this past Saturday. Friends who already have it are raving about it. I liked Windows XP, it was my favorite version of Windows. In the few months that I have had this computer and have used Vista, I found it to be "okay". I prefer XP; but that is probably because I have used it for years and was so familiar with it. I have not found Vista to be the abomination that some have made it out to be.

73 de Larry W2LJ

W1PID and PSK31

Another beautiful Autumn day in New Hampshire.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The bands

After a few days with some sunspots and an elevated solar flux; I see the trend is heading back down. The sunspot number has returned to zero and the solar flux is waning.

There was some activity on the higher bands today, however. On 15 Meters I was listening around and heard Zambia, Aruba and Guyana. I also listened in on a conversation, where a station on St. Croix was describing the weather - sunny, 88 degrees F and a nice breeze. That's certainly enough to make one envious! He was running 100 Watts into a compact portable vertical (not sure which one) and was booming into NJ at 599.

On 17 Meters I worked Barbados and on 20 Meters I worked the Canadian Olympics Special Event Station VG7V. Nothing too new and exciting; but at least I got some on-air time in. Zambia would have been nice; but it seemed to be a private QSO and the two stations moved on in frequency.

There was also a VERY interesting post on the NJQRP reflector today. George N2APB brought up the possibility of an NJQRP Forum to be held one Saturday, very possibly in the near future. It would be a very abbreviated, one evening event (4:00 - 7:00 PM) at a hotel in or around Princeton, NJ.

The possible scenario would be an hour or so "Mini QRP Hamfest" with socializing and milling about, perusing the wares. This would be followed by a "family style" dinner - featuring whatever the restaurant's specialty might be. Then a QRP presentation or two similar to what has been held at Atlanticon in the past.

I'm excited about the possibility of this occurring; as the full blown Atlanticon was always something out of reach for me; due to work and my kids being in school. One evening, however, is certainly do-able.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something I noticed

last night during the Zombie shuffle. I am not a die hard contester; and as such, my approach to these sprints is ....... eclectic, perhaps?

I will hunt and pounce; but I will also sit on a frequency and call CQ. Last night, as I sat on a frequency and called "CQ BOO", I noticed that I had to make VERY liberal use of the RIT knob. Sometimes, someone would answer my CQ and seem to be as much as almost a kHz away. Now, if the station answering was rock bound (crystal controlled) I could understand that; but then I would hear said station working other runners on various frequencies. If I hadn't used my RIT function, I would have never heard them; and as it was, I hadn't tightened up on receive by kicking in any filters. I generally like to operate the sprints with the receiver "wide open".

Again, since this wasn't in all cases, I didn't think I had a rig problem. What I think it is, is that there are folks out there who either don't know or forget to zero beat. With modern rigs, it's not so hard. Tune in the station you want to work until their signal's note matches the note of your sidetone. That will generally do it. In the "Olden Days" of separate tranmitters and receivers, it was even easier.

In either case, zero beating is a good thing to do. Adjusting your receiver so that the station you want to call is the tone most pleasing to your ear will not necessarily put you in his receiving range!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Friday, October 30, 2009

Zombie Shuffle 2009

OK, so maybe the zombies in "Thriller" had some good moves and didn't actually shuffle. But you get the idea.

The QRP Zombie Shuffle was held tonight, Friday October 30th - Mischief Night, Devil's Night, Prank Night ..... whatever you want to call it.

As a respectable Ham Radio op, I spent the night behind the radio - not soaping windows or TP'ing trees. Do they even DO that anymore these days? That's probably tame compared to what they DO do these days!

But once again, I digress. Conditions on 40 Meters were very nice tonight. No sign at all of the 20 over 9 QRN that plagued me during the Fox Hunt last night. And 80 Meters was quite nice, also.

Participation seemed to be on the light side; and in a couple of hours I managed to work 17 stations. These were:

80 Meters

40 Meters
W3BBO - PA (Both bands - hey!)
K8CV - MI (Who would not work me again on 80)

Technically, this runs until Midnight, local time; and I might be tempted to go down and try again in a few minutes. But I think I might be tempted even more by the prospect of my head hitting the pillow!

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS - I liked that this was on a Friday night. There are some QRP Sprints which take place on a Sunday night - the Run For The Bacon coming immediately to mind. Somehow it's easier for me to participate in a Sprint on a Friday night, knowing that I don't have to go to work tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Too darn good to be true

I turned the K2 onto 40 Meters tonight with fingers crossed; and to my surprise, I was awarded with a nice quiet band to try and hunt the Foxes. At 0106 UTC I was awarded a nice furry pelt, by bagging Todd N9NE. Todd is in Wisconsin and always seems to have a fantastic signal into NJ.

My heart was buoyant; as I tuned up the band looking for Paul NG7Z, the other Fox. Soon enough, I found him. His signal wasn't quite as strong as Todd's; but after all, Paul is in Washington state, so it was fitting that he was a bit weaker. A bit weaker, yes, but totally workable ..... until the neighborhood 40 Meter QRN reared its ugly head again.

At about 0120 UTC, the "light switch" was flipped; and I was rewarded with solid 20 over S9 QRN across the 40 Meter band. Paul's signal went from solid copy to ESP as he faded into the muck and mire. Or maybe it would be better to say that his signal went to ESP levels as the muck and mire devoured him. At around 0130 UTC, I thought the QRN was going to fade - and it did for about a minute or so. Then it came back louder than ever; and finally at about 0220 UTC, I shut the K2 down for the night. It's very disheartening when you KNOW you could have bagged both Foxes and walk away with only one pelt.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Got one!

I bagged only one QRP Fox tonight. And this time, common sense prevailed. I worked John K4BAI, ten minutes into the hunt. John is closer to me - GA is a lot closer than WY; and John has excellent ears (not to infer that Dale WC7S does not).

I was only able to hear Dale at ESP levels. For the uninitiated, this means that I was able to locate him; but his signal to me was so weak that I was not able to make out any details. It would have been foolish and selfish to keep throwing out my call for no reasonable chance of working him. However, the hounds that were chasing him from VA,MD, MN, and WI were coming in way over S9.

Again, Thursday night is the 40 Meter hunt. I have my fingers crossed; but am not holding my breath. During tonight's hunt I popped on up to 40 Meters for a quick listen; and good ol' reliable 20 over 9 QRN was there. Phooey!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Fox Hunt 2009-2010

The 2009-2010 Winter Foxhunt season begins tonight!

The 80 Meters Foxhunts are on Tuesday evenings, while the 40 Meter Foxhunts are on Thursday evenings. For the past few years, QRN on 40 Meters has been abominable for me at times with no apparent pattern or rhyme or reason. Fortunately for me, that neighborhood QRN has not translated down to 80 Meters; so the 80 Meters hunts have at least been workable.

Tonight, the two inaugural 80 Meter Foxes are topnotch ops, John K4BAI and Dale WC7S. Before the hunt begins, common sense tells me that I should be able to work John as he is on the East Coast; and that I'll be lucky to even hear Dale, who is in Wyoming. But if previous experience is any guide, then Dale will probably be S9 and John will be but a whisper!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, October 24, 2009

QRP Sprints and code speed

The big topic of discussion on the QRP reflectors today seems to be about code speed during CW contests. Some are speed demons and some are slower. The two groups seem to be diametrically opposed.

The speed demons don't want to slow down for the slower ops; and the slower ops seem to resent the ability of the higher speed ops.

Which leads to the interesting topic of sending QRS during a contest. In all the QRP Sprints and other CW contests that I have participated in, I cannot for the life of me, ever recall being asked to QRS. It is my natural tendency; and it is almost a reflex type of action to slow down to match any operator who might call me during a contest. For example, if I'm in a QRP-ARCI Sprint, sitting on a frequency calling "CQ QRP de W2LJ" at 20+ WPM; and someone comes back to me at 15 WPM, sure enough, I'll slow down to 15 WPM.

It just occurred to me though ..... since I have not been asked to QRS, am I in reality doing them a disservice? Is this someone's attempt to get used to working a higher speed station? Am I thwarting someone's attempt to improve their CW skills and abilities?

Hmmmmm ..... food for thought.

73 de Larry W2LJ

We have boomers!

I had plans to play around on 40 and 80 Meters tonight, but we are actually experiencing thunderstorms rolling through! That's a pretty rare occurrence in New Jersey for the 24th of October.

It was very rainy and warm, clammy, humid today. Very uncomfortable, sauna like weather. I haven't checked the weather forecast; but boomers must mean a cold front is coming through.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Another scare story

1) Swine flu pandemic

2) Bird flu pandemic

3) Global warming

4) Global cooling

5) Devastating hurricane seasons that don't happen

6) Y2K


Seems the media just loves to scare us; and it also seems we love to scare ourselves!

I remember the cyclamate ban; back in 1969 that turned out to be bogus, as well as the scare over saccharin and other things. Why do we worry so much about these things? Why is our society so obsessed with death?

We worry about the above things (and more); but yet so many of us will smoke, drink, eat unhealthily, or do recreational drugs to the point where we kill ourselves. Seems more sensible to me to worry about the things in your life that you CAN control; rather than the things you can't.

BTW, it also seems to me that you'd practically have to have a cell phone by your ear for at least 3/4 of a day for this to occur (I would guess). And, does using a Bluetooth device negate this; or are they just as bad?

Maybe the answer is that the more "progress" we make; the worse it is for us. We rush around so much these days, trying to get "the good things" in life; that we stress ourselves to the point of stroke and heart attack. Maybe an agrarian society wasn't such a bad thing. Or better yet, maybe as a people we need to become more moderate and balanced - guess it couldn't hurt.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ham Radio Simulator

Just like flight simulators, this program ain't the real thing; but for some reason the ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio is giving it some free PR:

We're speaking of CQ100 that Amateur Radio simulation "game" that has some people confused as to what radio is and what radio isn't. Some folks see it as a God send, while I see it as a "get rich quick" scheme by somebody.

Each to their own, I suppose - however, if you want to read a "no holds barred" discussion on CQ100, you can entertain yourself by going over to eHam. There you can read the typical gentlemanly, courteous and civilized (sarcastic mode on) discussion that took place several months ago.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On being cynical

I was looking at the G4ILO propagation box that I have over to the right; and I see the sunspot number has been at 11 for a couple of days now. Unfortunately, I'm a little too cynical to think this is the start of anything. It will probably still get a little worse before it gets better.

I also went to Doug Hendrick's site to see if there was any change in the status on the PFR3, as this IS the 21st of October. No news (sigh). I apologize to you all if I sound like the disappointed kid on Christmas morning; but this is kind of what it feels like.

No more whining - I detest it from others and especially detest it from myself.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

QRP portable in Pennsylvainia

My friends Bob W3BBO and Neal W3CUV decided to take a QRP Portable day trip today. As Bob noted, it may well have been the last one before the Pennsylvania snow season starts. Both Bob and Neal live in Erie, PA; and they have to deal with "lake effect" snow. They get lots and lots of snow! More snow than I would want to deal with, here in Central NJ.

They made a trip some 20 miles south, down to Lake Edinboro, which has a community park on its shore. Bob took his PFR3 and a 51' end fed wire. Neal brought along his rig and 66' end fed wire.

Bob and Neal managed 6 QSOs - three on 20 Meters and three on 40 Meters. For the middle of the day on a Tuesday that's not in the summer that's pretty good. They managed to work MI, KY and MA on 40 Meters, while 20 Meters yielded WA, SK and CO. Bob's CO QSO was with Paul WoRW who was (and usually seems to be) pedestrian mobile.

Bob said the weather started out beautiful; but got a bit cloudy and chilly towards the end of the outing. I guess that's a small foretaste of the cold weather to come!

But even with that said, Bob made the point of stating that the scenery was beautiful; and from the pictures he sent, it was obvious that my two friends had a great time! Once again, it is proved that QRP + the Great Outdoors = Fun!

I'm beginning to think that a variant of that ol' fishing saying is true for radio, too. "A bad day QRPing is better than a good day at work." Not that Bob and Neal had a bad day; but I sure would rather have been with them than behind my desk!

73 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, October 19, 2009

Setting priorities

I resigned as Awards Manager for the Centurion Award for the Straight Key Century Club tonight. I have been there since its foundation - I'm SKCC#49. I designed the award in conjunction with Tom Petersen, the founder of SKCC. From the beginning, Tom was approving the awards; and I would generate them and them mail them to him, for him to sign and distribute. A little later, the job was taken over by Gordon N6WK. I took over for him when he was no longer able to do it.

Later the club Website was formed and there's a "robot" that will generate a certificate for you, once your Centurion status is acknowledged (by me). However, lately I have been receiving e-mails where, in essence, "management" has been receiving complaints that I have been too slow in confirming the approvals.

Unfortunately, for the SKCC, I have a full time job (50+ hours a week) , a family and other obligations. In other words, I have a life. Time is a very precious commodity when you're trying to balance family, employment and other household chores as well as church, civic and community duties. Heck, all that barely leaves me any time to actually get on the air and operate, let alone build things!

On the other hand, having earned the Centurion Award myself, I know that it is not the "easiest" thing to accomplish and that the deserved recognition is forthcoming in a timely manner. Therefore, I informed the "Powers That Be" that it would be best if they would find a retired person, perhaps, who could could fulfill the obligation faster than I am able to.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, October 18, 2009

QSO Party results

I did manage to get back on the air for a little today. 20 Meters was the good band during the day today. All my time was spent on 80, 40 and 20 Meters between yesterday and today. I saw reports on QRP-L that Ron WB3AAL was going to try 15 Meters today; but I think his efforts on that band proved pretty much fruitless..

I ended up with 43 QSOs in my willy-nilly approach to getting on the air. I probably spent less than 4 hours total time behind the radio - which is fine by me; as that's all I was able to manage.

It was good to hear old friends on the air and have the exchange start with a "Hi Larry". I love when that happens! It was also good to hear some KI and KE prefixes; as that's an indication that some recent licensees are getting into CW and QRP. It was also nice to hear QRP-ARCI membership numbers that were in the 13,000 series.

In the next few days I will submit a log to Jeff VA3JFF. Not sure what my score is; but I'm sure I'll place somewhere in the bottom 3rd of the pack. And again, that's okay, as the idea of these events is to have fun; and in that regard, we can say, "Mission Accomplished".

K4UPG's Buddistick

As usual, the equipment here was my K2 to the G5RV. And one of my last QSOs on 20 Meters this afternoon was with Kelly K4UPG, whose blog is featured on the blogroll. I'm not exactly sure what his set up was; but if it was the same as yesterday, he was using his Buddistick and Sierra. That was a thrill because because he joins K3WWP, K3NG, N8ZYA, KB6NU and AE5X as Hams on my blogroll that I have actually worked.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More fun

80 Meters was in great shape tonight! QRN was low; but QSB was bothersome. Even so, I managed to work all up and down the East Coast and into Canada. In a couple of hours of searching and pouncing, as well as calling CQ from time to time, I managed to work 20 or so QRP-ARCI stations.

When I would pop on to 40 Meters every now and then to see if I could work anyone there, I was able to hear the German stations like they were stateside. They were loud and 40 Meters went long, fast! I worked some Midwest stations as well as Colorado - even a bit farther west.

I'd like to get on some tomorrow; but it looks like the day is going to be pretty occupied with other things. It's a good thing that I am not a die hard contester. If I were I'd probably be REALLY bothered by not being able to operate because of other obligations. For me, it's a minor inconvenience.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Better but not great

My S9 band noise went away; but participation in the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party seems to be light. I've worked only a couple stations on 20 Meters and a few more on 40 and 80 Meters. As soon as I get done doing a few more odds and ends, I will head down to the shack again.

So far, I've been fortunate to work John K4BAI, contester and QRPer extraordinaire! John always has a decent signal into NJ and it's always a pleasure to hear him.

John K4BAI

I've also been fortunate to work two well known QRPers from Canada, Jean-Pierre VA2SG and Bob VA3RKM. I've worked Bob in many a QRP Sprint. He is a fellow NAQCCer and Flying Pig. I have him in my log, many many times. Bob is always good for a loud QRP signal into NJ, as well as a very steady fist and very clean copy.


I also worked DL5RDO; but I think he was in a different contest! (Yes, he was in the Worked All Germany contest!) There seems to be a lot of them on today, including the NY QSO Party which seems to be quite busy. Also, there's some sort of RTTY contest on 40 Meters with the RTTYers coming all the way down as far as 7.040 MHz. Fortunately, they're not coming down as far as 7.030 MHz and there seem be QRPers spreading out between 7.030 and about 7.038 MHz.

73 de Larry W2LJ

Bah ..... humbug!

I've got some kind of S9 background noise on 20 Meters. Not the kind of conditions I was hoping for, for the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party. I finally took a small break from house chores to slip downstairs and turn on the radio for a few minutes.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement!

N4BP's shack as seen on QRZ

I did work Bob, N4BP - but I can't hear anyone else (if anyone else is out there!). Maybe things will improve for later tonight. (Fingers are crossed).

73 de Larry W2LJ