Thursday, June 30, 2011

Speaking of portable ops ......

My good friend Rem K6BBQ, fellow QRPer and Polar Bear and Flying Pig has a lot of fun operating portable on a regular basis.  And he likes to share by posting exceptional videos. Make sure to go to YouTube and subscribe to K6BBQsHamShack.

I've said it so many times before - QRP and the Great Outdoors - perfect together! Rem shows us how it's done!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Hoo Yah!

So here's the deal ...... the long Independence Day weekend is coming up!  And the weather looks like it may cooperate.  Sunny and in the lower 90s (about 33C)   Sooooooo - I am hoping for an hour or two in the park on Sunday with the PFR-3A and various antennas and a chance to play for a bit.

Cotton Street Park is located about 1/4 mile from my house and it's where I usually walk to for FOBB.  It has HUGE trees.  No kidding, on some of these trees, the closest branch to the ground is higher than the top of the maple tree in my backyard!  The trees are dense enough to produce a lot of nice shade, too - keeping the sun at bay for some comfort.

I will take the PFR-3A (with battery and key, of course) the antenna line launcher, end fed wire and Fuchs tuner and perhaps the 88' EDZ speaker wire doublet as a back up.  This will be a "shake down" to make sure everything still works for our annual Lake George trip this Summer.  Of course everything still works; but call me paranoid, or anal, or whatever.

I'll bring my BlackBerry along so that when I am QRV I will post a spot to QRPSPOTS.

I am looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend for a change!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baby Black Widows

I have started building my set of Baby Black Widows for the PFR-3A.  They arrived the other day and I skipped one step in the construction and began by finishing the brass pieces first.  Jerry W5JH's instructions would have you begin by mounting the knurled heads on the screws; but I figured I can do that while the lacquer is drying after I spray the finished brass pieces this weekend.

I bought both 220 and 400 grit sandpaper at Home Depot.  As Jerry suggested, I masking taped the sandpaper down onto a flat surface, our freezer in the basement.  I gloved up one hand and began sanding the brass pieces.  Gloves are recommended so you don't get any finger oils on the clean brass.  Finger oils on brass promote tarnishing and an uneven look.  When I did the fine and final sanding, I donned two gloves.  Being able to switch hands was a boon towards preventing hand cramping while moving the pieces back and forth along the sandpaper.  These are pretty small pieces and you have to hold on to them very well so they don't go launching into space!

The sanding is done and the brass now has a nice "brushed" finish.  I have wrapped the pieces up in a silver polishing cloth for safekeeping until I can spray this weekend.  I will need to stop back at Home Depot for some 4/40 screws so I can fill the threaded holes before I spray the lacquer so that the threads don't get "gunked up".

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I, like everyone else am shocked at the turn of events that have taken place in Julian's life.

I wish him and Olga the best and am praying for a miracle.  Some may think that's foolish; but I don't.

Hang tough, Julian - my prayers and those of a lot of your other friends are with you!

Larry W2LJ

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Field Day Past - Part 2

This is a side shot of the Mess area.  Norm KB2SBB (SK) and Charlie N2LHD (SK) were our head chefs.  Our FD was known throughout the area for the food we served. Indeed, many visitors came just for the food. There weren't many FD sites in the area that offered ice cold fresh fruit, and hot entrees like baked ziti and other goodies that were way beyond the standard burgers and dogs.

Norm KB2SBB (SK) grilling sausages for sausage, onion and pepper sandwiches.

Jimmy N2LFI (SK) was also one of our cooks.  PARC Field Day took the food very seriously. For us, Field Day was not a contest.  Our final score was important, but secondary.  In retrospect we had two main goals:

A: Prove that we could set up an effective portable Comm Center in case of the ultimate emergency
B: Provide one of the biggest social events of the Ham year. It was supposed to be fun, after all !!

And we did take operating seriously. Here's Rich W2PQ at the mic, while W2LJ does some logging duty.

Bill W2WK does some logging while Al W2KOG (SK) looks on.  It was towards out latter years that we brought laptops for logging.

For our earlier Field Days we brought desk tops with huge CRT monitors!  Hey folks, this was less than 15 years ago - times have changed.  I'm sure there are people logging this Field Day using iPads and other tablets.

Another Sunday morning shot.  Someone off to the left is sipping coffee while W2WK and AA2KS look a little weary.  FD Fuel (Pepsi Cola) cans litter the desktop!

W2LJ, W2PQ and WA2RMZ take a breather after helping with the guy ropes that kept our extension ladder "tower" in place.

Two of PARC's steadfast operators, and winners of a few NJ QSO Partys - Don KO2K and Bill W2BT walking across the Field Day site.

Lastly, one of the founding members of PARC, Chuck WB2MSV (SK) going for a refill to the "807 tent". Chuck was the motivating force and guiding spirit behind many of the PARC Field Day efforts.  He made sure we did things right, helped solve problems and provided a lot of laughs to boot.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Field Day Past - Part 1

As most of you know, this being the last full weekend of June, it is Field Day Weekend here in North America.  As mentioned in yesterday's post, none of the bigger clubs around here seem to be putting in a big Field Day effort.  Setting up in the backyard and going it alone just seems ...... not sure what to say about that.  Maybe just not right is what I mean.

I hate to be thought of as one who lives in the past; but the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club in its earlier incarnation new how to do Field Day right!  It was a huge effort and was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, as with all organizations, it seemed like too few people did too much of the work - the ol' 90/10 rule.  But while it lasted it was fun.  Here are some photos of PARC Field Day in its heyday.  There are so many that I will post some today and the rest tomorrow.  I hope my fellow PARC members get a kick out of these.

We even had signs to let everyone know what we were doing. Notice our extension ladder tower.

Rich Alderiso AA2KS - a bit bleary eyed; but ready to go!

Chuck Phillip WB2MSV (SK) always brought his RV to PARC Field Day.

Food was a HUGE part of PARC Field Day, sometimes it seemed it was more important than operating.  Here Jack W2IMM (SK) and Drew W2OU have a bite to eat between operating shifts.

Bob W3BBO putting some time in behind the paddles.

Yours truly early on a Sunday morning. I was so tired that someone shoved a mic in my hand and I actually started using it!  I had a lot more hair and was a lot thinner back in those days!

We operated in a collection of campers, tent, trailers in a soccer field in Piscataway.  Don KO2K who worked for the town always seemed to get the site mowed and sprayed for bugs right before the weekend.  We had an HF beam attached to an extension ladder that we used as a tower. This was always used by the 20M Phone guys.  The CW guys invariably used a dipole some 30 or 40 feet in the air.  

When I was one of the club officers, I made a point to stay for the whole 24+ hours of Field Day, usually sleeping in the CW camper that belonged to Rich W2PQ or crashing in Bill W2WK's trailer.  After a long weekend of CW contacts, it was not unusual for me to hear CW in my head for the entire following week!

More photos tomorrow.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Three Projects

I always seem to do things backwards.

Winter is supposed to be the season for building things and Summer is supposed to be the season for operating, right?  Not for me !!!

I have two projects in the wings - no actually three.  Two I want to get done rather quickly, the third can take the rest of the Summer.  The third, in fact, I want done for next Fall / Winter.

First project is to construct a pair of Baby Black Widow paddles for the PFR3A.  I want to take them with me when we go on vacation next month up to Lake George, so time is of the essence here.  I got them through the mail today and hopefully, I can start on them this weekend.

I have a set of the original Black Widows (which I still have to build, sigh!) and I wanted these for a while now.  Jerry W5JH, who kits these, mentioned on several of the QRP e-mail reflectors that due to diminishing sales that there is the possibility of these paddle kits being discontinued.  I wanted to get a set before that happens.  So tomorrow, I'll have to get over to Home Depot at some point for some 200 and 400 grit sandpaper and some brass polish so I can begin finishing the metal pieces.

Second project - the Hamcan transceiver.  This has been sitting around in its padded envelope for way too long!  I inventoried the parts tonight.  Seriously, this kit should take all of about an hour to build.  I should be ashamed of myself for not getting this done and on the air by now.

Last project for the Summer is getting that 160 Meter vertical built that I saw in the August 2010 edition of QST.  I think while I'm at Home Depot this weekend, I'll buy some of the parts I need for that, too.  The main construction of that won't occur until after vacation, however - most likely this will be an August project.

Field Day is tomorrow and other than the Metuchen, NJ Club K2YNT, which is gathering at Rutgers, and the RCA David Sarnoff Group, which is gathering at Princeton, there are no other groups that I know of in the immediate vicinity that is putting forth an effort.  The two clubs that I belong to, ETS of NJ and RVRC, which are primarily repeater clubs are not doing anything this year.  Marianne, my wife, is working tomorrow anyway, so that will preclude me from going to any Field Day sites until she gets home from work around Midnight tomorrow night.  I will probably set up the PFR3A and the Buddistick in the backyard tomorrow afternoon to just give out points for a couple of hours.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I was tuning around 40 Meters after a hard day at work, itching for a ragchew.  Then on 7.033 MHz, I heard John W3FSA calling CQ.  He was a strong 599, so I gave him a call.  To my delight, he heard me and came back to me, giving me a 559 report.

John lives up in Bethel, Maine; but was at his second home near Portland, near the coast.  John was also using a K2 at 5 Watts; but he had a big advantage over me.  His G5RV was up 50 feet, probably in some of those really tall Maine pine trees.   My EDZ is only at the 25 foot level.

W3FSA courtesy of QRZ.

Anyway, we were having a nice conversation when it happened ......... rumbles of thunder.  That meant on the next go round I had to let John know I was pulling the plug - pronto.  'Twas a darn shame, as it was a nice QSO.

However, safety first - always!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good reading

If you are like me you enjoy reading Amateur Radio stories that are in the vein of "Human Interest". I love reading stories where guys tell you how they became interested in Ham Radio and how they learned and the mistakes they made, etc, etc, etc.

If you're into that, like I am, I have two good links for you:

which I came across due to Steve K9ZW's blog; and also:

which I have known about for years.  If you started out YOUR Amateur Radio career via the Novice License, please consider writing about it for the Novice History page.  A lot of other Hams enjoy reading these stories and would be thankful if you shared.  You don't have to be a Jean Shepard style storyteller. Just write about your experiences and I'm sure we'll all enjoy it.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, June 20, 2011

No cakewalk

Looks like working Washington state as K6JSS/7 is going to be an effort.  John K7HV is on; but he's 449 at best when the QSB dies down.  I've been calling for the better part of an hour now and he's not hearing me.  I can hear him working other East coast stations; but it appears my signal is being trounced by other QRPers.

On the other hand, John K4BAI answered my CQ on 20 Meters and he was the loudest I have ever heard him. He was a good 579 here in NJ and I got a 579 back from him.  And I also had a short QSO with Terry WA0ITP. So it was nice meeting two old friends on the air.

As I finish typing this, I just finished an attempted QSO with K6JSS/7. But I am not sure that John got my info right.  I will consider this a bust and will try again another night.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Completing this would be nice!

I have no idea if there will be enough CW ops on the air in order to complete this; but this Independence Day Special Event will be on the air again this year.

I am a huge Revolutionary War buff.  I have studied that period of time as intensely as any Civil War buff.  I guess it all began years ago when our family spent one of our vacations in Colonial Williamsburg.  I would really love to give this a shot; but I have a feeling that not having SSB capability is going to limit me.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Wanted to end Father's Day with a fun time behind the key, participating in the Flying Pig's monthly Run for the Bacon sprint.

Just as the contest started, something in the neighborhood flicked "on" and I was rewarded with 20 over 9 QRN on 20 Meters and about S9 to 10 over QRN on 40 Meters.

Looks like I'll go read for a while.

Massive disappointment.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least.

With apologies to my Polar Bear friends - sometimes you're the bear; and sometimes the bear gets you. Tonight, I got "got".

Father's Day

I spent the day being a Father.

Got up, went to church with the family and spent the rest of the afternoon redoing the landscaping in front of the house.  The severe heat of Summer '10 and the severe cold of Winter '10/'11 did in about seven plants.  I took the old ones out weeks ago; but thanks to a VERY wet May, I didn't get replacements in until today. 

I got on the air for a few minutes this afternoon and didn't hear a whole heckuva lot on the bands.  Unless it was just me, signals seemed sparse and nothing too loud on 15, 17 and 20 Meters.  I baited the hook with some fat, juicy CQs; but got no bites.

I also issued a few more Bee numbers this afternoon.  Notable requests came from Dave Benson K1SWL, owner of Small Wonder Labs.  I've built a few of Dave's offerings and they always work great - first time every time.  It's nice to know he will be joining us for FOBB.

Also issued a number was Steve WG0AT, of Rooster and Peanut fame.  Steve was issued Bee # 161.  And I issued # 162 as an honorary (and it will be the only honorary number issued) to Rooster and Peanut.  Steve didn't ask for this, it was something I decided to do on  my own.  R & P faithfully follow Steve on his adventures, and even though they won't be operating (although that would be a kick in the head, wouldn't it?) they get a number for carrying gear, if nothing else.

Steve and friends (human AND goat) went on a camping/fishing trip to  Powderhorn Lakes in Colorado.  He took his ATS3B and Buddipole along for some different "fishing" in case the under water ones didn't bite.  If you want to see some really beautiful photos, take a gander here:

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hamfest time!

I did get up at 4:00 AM and was at the RVRC (Raritan Valley Radio Club) hamfest site by 5:00 AM. It was a sunny, hot day and I did get a little sun burned - a bit, but not too badly.

I didn't need much of anything but did pick up some BNC to binding post adapters for easily hooking up speaker wire doublets to the K1 and PFR3A (and someday the KX3!).  I have a couple already; but these are the type of things I always misplace.  I also picked up a new computer microphone for a couple of bucks.

In the very early morning it was very humid and hazy.  The job I was tasked with was to direct the cars of the sellers into their spots in a neat and organized manner.  I'll tell you ..... when you arrive somewhere at 5:00 AM and you look down at your watch, 11:30 AM feels like a whole day went by!

Where else but at a hamfest can you find a 50 Caliber machine gun barrel ?

We had a good amount of vendors; but it was strange.  You could find computer parts galore; but there was only one guy selling coax.  Also there was a guy selling QRP antennas.  What the heck is a QRP antenna ?  I thought antennas were antennas!  I guess QRP antennas have limited power handling capabilities?

We also had some guys set up to do HF radio demos.  Alan W2AEW had his Icom 703 hooked up to his MP Super antenna that was mounted to the lip of the bed of his pick up truck.  We were able to hear some VKs on 40 Meters in the early morning.  The comm van with the pneumatic mast, courtesy of Brian N2MPM,  was holding up what looked to be a PAR EndFed. And on the top of the comm van was a Buddistick that was attached to a K3 inside the van.  This was the first time I got to see a K3 in real life.  I was surprised in a way, how much bigger it is than a K2.

But the best news of the day, by far, was learning from Bill W2WK that the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club is in the process of re-forming and starting back up again!  PARC was the best radio organization that I have ever belonged to.  To be extended a personal invitation to come back as a member was just the best part of a pretty good day.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Romantic Radio

Strange title for a post, eh?  But you'll get my meaning in just a bit.  No I don't mean using the radio to send love messages, I mean the "Romance" or magic of radio.  If you're a QRPer or a fan of outdoor radio, I'm sure you've had visions inside your mind's eye of being out in a beautiful, idyllic setting with a small, portable set up.  The weather is beautiful, the backdrop ideal; and you're cranking away on the radio having the time of your life.

Many of us never get to live that dream in EXACTLY that manner; but Michael Rainey AA1TJ is.  You may remember Mike from his unique designs and homebrew rigs. He and his wife are hiking in Europe and he managed to upload this video onto YouTube of his radio efforts in Austria along the Danube.  It can't get much better than this, can it?

W2LJ has the honor of calling it a very early night tonight as tomorrow is the Raritan Valley Radio Club's annual hamfest. As a new member, I will be working the fest this time instead of just being a visitor/buyer. The wakeup call is for "O Dark Thirty" as the old joke goes; but it is no joke - 4:00 AM!  The forecast for tomorrow is partly sunny, humid with a high of 86F (30C). I will be packing some sun screen in additon to the HT, battery and some money!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ham Nation

A netcast series by Bob Heil K9EID.  This looks to be a winner - a great series and I wish them a long run.  I would've picked another name for the Network other than Twit, though.   :)

Kudos to my good friend, Drew Moore W2OU for bringing this to my attention.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maunder Minimum

The Amateur Radio mailing lists are all abuzz with the news story that broke yesterday about the possibility of the recurrence of the Maunder Minimum. I even posted a link yesterday and bit hard on the hook myself.

While I tend to defer to the experts, I have to wonder sometimes.

At the end of the 70's the media was all ga-ga with predictions that were going around about the coming of another Ice Age.

In the late 90's and throughout the 2000 decade, a lot of people were preoccupied about Global Warming.

Now we're back to predictions of another possible mini-Ice Age again.

What we have to face is that Ol' Sol goes through many cycles.  He'll be around a lot longer than any of us.  What's a mere second to him is a lifetime for us.  What's going to be with the Sun is going to be; and there's nothing we can do about it anyway, when you come right down to it.  So we might as well relax and just enjoy the ride.

Good advice for me to listen to, too!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

PS - I'm still going to get my hands on a KX3 - sunspots or no!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well ... THAT was fun!

My wife's car is in the shop, so she had to take mine to work tonight. In turn, that gave me a rare Tuesday night at home (prevented me from going to yet another meeting) and allowed me the chance to participate in the NAQCC Monthly Sprint.

I can't remember the last time that I was able to jump into one of these. It has to be a year or more since I last participated. I couldn't start at the bell, because I had to wait for my daughter to be dropped off from her Girl Scout meeting by her Troop Leader.  Once Cara was home, I settled down in the basement and actually ran a frequency for almost an hour!

40 Meters was in great shape; and 80 Meters wasn't shabby, either. In all, I made 29 QSOs in just over an hour.  Not a record, or anywhere near my best effort - but not bad for being out of practice, either!  This was the first NAQCC Sprint where the antenna was exclusively the 88' EDZ; and it did quite a good job for itself. I got good reports, nothing less than 459.

This was a nice respite from a cruddy day at work.  Thanks everyone who worked me - it was a ton of fun.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

As if work isn't depressing enough .....

Dealing with the nonsense, silliness and outright stupidity of people at work is bad enough.  Then my hobby, my solace, my relief, my passion gets affected by things I cannot control.

Almost makes you want to throw in the towel.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I knew that working K6JSS/3 was going to be relatively easy this week. Pennsylvania is having its turn and I never have trouble making it into PA.  It's the next state over from me; and if I have trouble being heard there, then it's time to pack it up!

Within the first half hour, I worked K3VIG as K6JSS/3 on 40 Meters.  He was calling CQ TEST and I'm not sure what contest he was in, so I sent the standard QRP Sprint exchange of RST/SPC/Power.  I hope I gave him a valid point.  Just a few minutes later, I heard Scott N3SW as K6JSS/3 on 80 Meters and he was loud - 579 loud.  We did the standard exchange of RST, SPC, and ARCI Number.

Ron WB3AAL is on 30 Meters as K6JSS/3, as per QRPSPOTS; but I can't even pick him out of the noise.  Other than working K6JSS/3 right off the bat, the only other radio excitement was working 4O3A in Montenegro on 20 Meters this afternoon.  The bands were kind of quiet all weekend, it seemed.  Definitely not a big contest weekend with wall to wall signals.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Boo Hiss !

Today was the monthly Polar Bear QRP event; and I really had my heart sent on some outdoor operating, even if it was only from the backyard.  The park would have been preferable; but neither was to be.  Rain and thunderstorms have kept me inside and off the air (for the most part), although I did have a very brief QSO with Scott W5ESE earlier.

The rain wasn't a big surprise; but the thunderstorms were.  Earlier this morning, I joined my CERT team for some traffic duty during a 5K foot race that was held in town.  We blocked off certain roads and redirected traffic to make sure the runners and walkers would be safe throughout the event.  It wasn't too bad - I was only sworn at a couple of times.  It was a good thing that I thought ahead to bring my foul weather gear with me as it rained a bit during the middle of the event.

I had two radios on me, my Wouxun 2M/70cm radio and one of the town's public works radio - a Motorola handheld.  The communications on the Amateur frequency (we decided on 445.000 simplex amongst ourselves) were a lot more clearer than the town's frequency which is up in the 155 MHz range, I believe.

Next week, the team will be called out to assist in helping out at the Middle School and High School graduations. The day after that, in the evening, we will be going for some search and rescue training on the other side of the county, which will be conducted by the New Jersey State Police.

This coming autumn, our Director of Emergency Management wants to do a real time, live "missing person" drill in town and wants to have as much RACES/ARES involvement as he can get.  This is what I signed up for - glad to see we're actually doing some things.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Cool video

Personal experience is that kids find stuff like this to be "cool".

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Treasure Chest

I don't know how many of you out there pay attention to the other bloggers that I list.  I'm sure that most of you do - however for those who do not ...... I am taking pains to direct you to this blog post


If you are interested in learning or improving your CW - this is the software tool that you need to be using.

Developed by Julian G4ILO, this is perhaps the most useful and versatile tool out there for CW tutelage,  It will allow you to burn code practice to a CD or to your iPod or other MP3 player.  In addition to random letters, you can have random words, Morse from a text file (Books in Code), random QSOs or whatever you choose.  The options are very customizable (is that even a word?).

Personally, I find it very useful and convenient to just play Morse practice in the background, while I am driving, cleaning, or doing whatever chore I happen to be doing.  Somehow it seems that just listening without even trying to seriously copy conditions my brain towards better reception of the characters when I DO start copying for real.  Also, this is great practice for copying in your head and getting used to not writing things down on paper. Hint: Listen to code at about 5 WPM faster than you are able to copy.  When you go back to your fastest speed - I guarantee that it will sound SLOW to you!

Learning Morse and getting better at it doesn't need to be a hated chore.  If you just relax and stop putting pressure on yourself, you will see rapid increases in your ability.  Tools like MorseGen make it all that much easier.

No radio for W2LJ tonight, so I am very happy to have worked K6JSS/9 last night.  Yesterday and today were beastly hot.  For the last hour or so we have had some rain - but quite the electrical storm.  The antennas are unplugged and the K2 is off the air.  A cool front is moving through and I expect the light show will last for quite a few more hours.

One last thing, and this is totally unrelated to Ham Radio.  James Rollins, one of my favorite authors, is releasing a new book this month.  To celebrate this new release, he has worked out a deal with where you can download FOR FREE (until June 20th) an audible copy of his first book in the SIGMA Force series, "Map of Bones".

This book was handed to me a few years back by a friend who knows that I like to read.  I read it and was instantly hooked and have read every subsequent adventure.  I downloaded this audible version to my kindle and am listening to it via the Aux connection to the radio in the Jeep while I drive back and forth to work.  It's just as good now as when I first read it a few years back!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What the ????

As seen on eBay:

A K3/10, which is currently at $107.50 at 026UTC on June 9th, 2011 - no reserve !!!

My gut tells me something is wrong here - but if things were to go just right for the winning bidder, this could end up being a bargain and a half.  Why are there alarm bells going off in the back of my head?

It will be interesting to see where this ends up.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least.

You win some and lose some!

Well, you win some and you lose some.

I did end up working K6JSS/9 this evening on 40 Meters. Jack KK0I was at the key and we completed a QSO even though summer time QRN has begun with a vengeance.  Speaking of summer time conditions, it peaked out at about 99F (37C) here in NJ today. It's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow with higher humidity.  Since I got home from work, I have been hanging out in the basement shack, as it is nice and cool down here - only 76F (24C).  The air conditioning is on the fritz and picked the perfect time to give up the ghost on me.

Where I lost?  I heard 7Z1HL, Harry in Saudi Arabia on 20 Meters at 14.025 MHz.  He was decently loud - about 569 with QSB.  This is the very first time that I can even remember hearing Saudi Arabia on the air.  I tried and I tried, but no dice with only 5 Watts.

Oh well.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Success !!!

Success on two computer fronts today.  The USB Wireless Ethernet card came today.  Of course, Windows wouldn't install it correctly; but the included CD ROM had a set up utility.  I have Internet access back on the family computer again. Happy day, no more arguments about computer time between my two offspring.

I also purchased off of eBay a mini USB wireless mouse for the Acer down here in the shack.  The right touchpad key doesn't seem to work and it really hadn't since I bought this thing.  I contacted the seller on eBay and she told me that she "wasn't aware of it" as she never right clicked.  Right.  You know, I may have been born at night - but it wasn't last night!

Anyway, the mouse works normally and now I don't have to mess with alternate key commands when copying and pasting stuff.

Now if I could only find K6JSS/9 on the air - that would make the day complete!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Computer problems

On Memorial Day we had an exceptionally bad thunderstorm rumble through here in the morning.  Strangely enough, however, the only thing that got damaged was the Ethernet card (yes, I did try a different Ethernet cable) inside the "family computer".  Being "frugal" (codeword for cheap), I purchased a new Ethernet card on eBay.  Silly me, I didn't bother to make sure that it was compatible with Vista!

It wasn't and needless to say, it didn't work.  But it was only $5 (no shipping) so it didn't set me back a fortune.  I am currently waiting on a wireless stick. Since the wireless router sits right on top of the computer anyway, it seemed like a no brainer.  It should be here tomorrow or Thursday and things will be back to normal.  In the meantime, I am using the laptop, which is no big deal, except for fighting off other family members for computer time.

My son and I were watching a TV commercial for Staples (I think) where they are advertising all the tablets they have for sale. I told my son, who is just finishing 5th grade, that by the time he leaves High school, there will probably be no such thing as desktop computers anymore.  Maybe even laptops, too.

He gave me a funny look; but look how far we've come.  Floppy disks are no more, serial ports are no more, it looks like cabled devices will soon be no more.  With the "cloud" becoming more and more prevalent, even thumb and zip drives seem to be on the endangered list. This stuff seems to evolve at an exponential rate.  Seems like every time you turn around, something new is being introduced.

On a radio note, I see we are in the throes of some big time geomagnetic disturbances.  I guess this is the aftermath of that lull we had a few weeks back.  I just hope that propagation stays decent for a while.

Well, I think I will head down the basement for a few minutes before hitting the hay.  Maybe I can scare up K6JSS/9 from Wisconsin before I turn in.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Couldn't hear K6JSS/9 on 20 Meters as I have an S9 noise level tonight for whatever reason.  But I did work OM5MZ on 30 Meters.  The noise level was slightly less there and Boby was blasting through.  The 88' EDZ seems to do a really good job for me on 30 Meters.  I didn't stand a chance with the G5RV on that band.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A very pleasant surprise

My cell phone rang this morning around the 10:30 AM neighborhood.  I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was work, informing me of some kind of emergency that could only be handled by yours truly.  Fortunately, that was not how it had turned out.  Instead, the person on the other end of the conversation was my High School electronics teacher, Bob Benson K2IB.

Bob had gotten my cell phone number through a mutual friend, Dan N2AYM. We proceeded to have a most pleasant conversation for the next 30 minutes.  He called me to mention his surprise at being mentioned in this blog and on my Webpage. It was great catching up with Bob and listening to his latest radio endeavors.  He has a new TenTec Eagle, which he loves; and living in northern New Jersey, he's into operating portable.

We talked a bit about the old days at East Brunswick High School and I got the chance to thank him for being the inspiration for getting my license.  In turn, he mentioned to me that he is glad that I have gotten as far as I have with Amateur Radio.  Bob is getting back into CW operating and is having a blast going at it all over again.

After the phone call ended, I had the chance to reflect that Bob (somehow he will always be "Mr. Benson") was responsible for a lot more than just me getting a Ham Radio ticket.  Getting that license got me way more involved with electronics than I previously had been.  That in turn, led me towards completing an education in digital electronics which led to my previous job.  I spent 23 years as the Service Manager for a firm called Sinar Bron, where I repaired (down to component level) high end photographic strobe equipment which was imported from Switzerland.  That electronics job, and the managerial skills that I learned, landed me my current job.

As wonderful as Amateur Radio is, and the countless hours of enjoyment that it has provided me - there is so much more that I owe to Bob Benson K2IB.  He started me down a path that had many twists and turns; but ultimately led me to where I am today.

Thank you, Bob, not for only being a great teacher and an inspiration; but for now becoming a friend.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

June 2011 CQ

Let me start off with a disclaimer.  I do not work for CQ magazine; or any of its subsidiary publications.  I do know Rich Moseson W2VU; and in a small way, he's partly responsible for this blog.  Rich was at the "Take Your Kids to Work Day" at the IEEE in Piscataway, NJ.  It was my experiences that day that kicked off this blog back in 2005.

That all being said and gotten out of the way - have you gotten and looked at the June 2011 edition of CQ?  This month's edition is devoted to the theme, "Take it to the Field".  It's about time someone devoted an issue to this!  QRPers have been preaching this subject for years - nice to see it go "mainstream".  If you're not a regular subscriber to CQ, then I would advise a trip to the local news stand, or perhaps your local Borders or Barnes and Noble.  This issue is a keeper.

Speaking of operating out in the field, handing out numbers for The Flight of the Bumblebees is going quite well. We're up to Bee # 148.  I've gotten a lot of Stateside and Canadian Hams looking for numbers - but no DX Hams.  I know the "official rules" state that the contest is from 1700 to 2100 UTC - but if any of you QRPers over on the Continent want to operate for four hours in the afternoon on the last Sunday in July where you are - I'd be happy to hand out Bee numbers to DX stations too.  No need to keep this event strictly a W/VE affair.  You guys should join in on the fun, too!  All I ask is that you follow the same basic rules and keep the exchange the same.  Forward your logs, photos and stories and results to me and I'll list  separate European, Asian, African, South American, Australian results. However I manage to figure it out!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Where's South Dakota ?

It's South Dakota's turn as K6JSS/0 this week. As noted by Ron WB3AAL on QRPSPOTS, Jerry NR5A, one of South Dakota's most active QRPers, has been in the hospital recently and just got home.

Don't push yourself, Jerry!  Your health is way more important than a stint behind the radio.  I hope you're feeling better soon!

I attended the "Parent's Meeting" of my son's Boy Scout troop this evening.  Sometime this coming month, their camping trip is going to be to one of the NJ State Parks in Central New Jersey.  Yes, folks, NJ is NOT only what you saw during the opening sequence of "The Sopranos".  We have lots more than highways and the New Jersey Turnpike.  There are tons of lots of wonderful natural, unbuilt areas - you just have to know where to go.

Anyway, the trip will be to Cheesequake State Park, which is right along the Cheesequake fault. Bet you folks didn't know that we have an active earthquake fault line in New Jersey.  I was asked to do a Amateur Radio presentation that weekend during the camp out.  Sound like a prime opportunity to break out the K2 (so the kids can listen to some SSB as well as CW) and the 88 foot doublet.  I'm not sure when the trip is scheduled for; but I wouldn't be surprised if it was Field Day weekend.  If it is, at least there'll be lots of opportunities for the boys to get on the air for a bit.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!