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