Sunday, July 31, 2011

That was just too much fun!

Days like this don't come along all that often.  The weather was absolutely beautiful, even if it was over 90F.  The sun was shining and there were very few clouds - and better yet, no sign of thunderclouds this year!

I got to the park a little bit later than I had planned; but the main chore, setting up the antenna took less time than I had anticipated - less than 10 minutes!  I used my EFHW wire, the first 18 feet or so supported by the crappie pole.

My operating position

After that, I shot a line into a tree down aways.  My home brewed antenna launcher got a line over a 30 foot branch in a neighboring tree on the first shot!  So from the crappie pole, I had an "Inverted L" going to a very respectable height.

This tree supported the other end of the antenna.

I ended up using the K1 for the entire event; as the first thing I did was to listen on 15 Meters, but found the band to be dead.  The K1's autotuner handled the EFHW quite nicely and was able to give me a match with nary a problem.  I was able to switch between 20 and 40 Meters quickly and pain free.  As I watched the output power scale while transmitting, it was obvious on each band that I was getting a full 5 Watts out with no power being "folded back". Good job, K1 !

Antenna connection behind the K1.

In all, I worked 36 stations - 7 of them on 40 Meters and the rest on 20 Meters.  I worked 28 Bees and 8 "Home" stations for a score of 3024.  If there was any disappointment to be found, it was the lack of activity on 40 Meters.  I thought I'd catch some more of my "local" friends there.

But even with that mild disappointment, it ended up being a perfect day.  Working stations while outdoors, feeling a breeze on your face, breathing in nice, fresh air - that's what this is all about!  If I had worked only 5 stations or had worked 200 - I could be no more pleased than I feel right now.  Time to savor it as it will pass all too quickly.

I ended up dismantling the station around 4:30 EDT, as I wasn't hearing anyone new on 20 Meters and 40 was dead, as I had mentioned earlier.  Besides, the park's citizenry were starting to get a little too used to me, another sign that I was starting to wear out my welcome.

It was good to hear so many stations buzzing around!  And we were all spread out quite nicely - no little pileup clump concentrated on the precious real estate around 14.060 MHz.  I look forward to sharing the results with you after I get them in and tabulated.

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

If you want to see another FOBB story, in a MUCH, MUCH more photogenic setting, check out W1PID's FOBB tale:

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I am very much looking forward to tomorrow and hoping that Murphy does nothing to screw around with my plans for FOBB.  At this point in time, we're up to 244 Bees.  I looked at the national weather maps and there doesn't appear to be any HUGE patches of inclement weather anywhere; so I am hoping to hear lots of Bees on the air tomorrow.

W2LJ will be operating from a local park.  Antenna will be a EFHW cut for 40 and 20 Meters.  Not sure whether it's going to be the PFR-3A or the K1.  I am thinking the K1 as it has 15 Meter capability that the PFR-3A doesn't.  I may end up tossing a coin; or perhaps even bringing both.  As I am walking to the park; I don't want to pack too much extraneous stuff in the rucksack if I don't have to.  For me, this is just like going on vacation; I inevitably end up packing too much!

I should just bring one radio, headphones, the antenna, paddle, battery and power cable.  Also the crappie pole and antenna launcher and a pad for logging.  Anything more than that is overkill; but I always fret that I'm going to overlook something important.

Hope to hear you on the air tomorrow!

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

BTW - I will hand out Bee numbers up until around 11:00 AM EDT tomorrow morning.  That's about when I'll be getting ready to leave to go operate.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I remember seeing this mentioned on the QRP e-mail reflectors last week.  Someone's paddles were stuck in "dit" mode on 17 Meters - 18.0855 MHz, to be exact.

Then I saw this article mentioned on Facebook:

It appears an Official Observer notified the League and then the FCC got involved and the source of the dits was found and all was well again.  But then I took a closer look at the story, and I saw that the timeline was July 15th to the 18th.  Three whole days of dits!  Who the heck leaves their station on and unattended like that?  I mean, c'mon!

Think of the things that could happen.  A pet could cause something like this to happen.  Kitty comes by, rubs again the paddles and the next thing you know, you're tearing up the airwaves.  Or you could have a bad thunderstorm come through the area - who leaves their station attached to the antenna and on with THAT possibility looming?

Obviously the manufacturer of the offensive rig might want to brag about their duty cycle capabilities!

You guys know I'm a sucker for a good Ham Radio story, right?  There's a good one on e-Ham, written by Don N4KC, titled "The Roundtable".  If you can read this through without getting a lump in your throat, you're a much stronger man than I.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2011


When I think of QRP and outdoors, there are several Hams that come to mind immediately.  Guy N7UN, Steve WG0AT, Ed WA3WSJ, Ron WB3AAL, Ken WA8REI, Rem K6BBQ, and others.  One more important addition to that list has to be Jim W1PID.  As I've mentioned so many times before, Jim lives up in the beautiful state of New Hampshire and always has a wonderful story about his latest adventure/hike.

Today was no exception;

Lest you think I'm poaching material, I think these stories by Jim and the other Hams I have mentioned are so important.  These guys get my blood pumping to get off my butt and head outdoors to operate. They are my inspiration.  And the reward for following their lead is so wonderful. Setting up a radio and a wire in a field or park, and working another station, with the sun shining on your back and a breeze in your face is a high like no other.

They should be your inspiration too.  If you've never tried outdoor portable QRP ops before, NOW is the time.  I guarantee you that once you get a taste of this, you'll never want to stop.

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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

FOBB Confusion

It seems that there's a bit of confusion out there regarding the correct date for the Flight of the Bumblebees this year.  The ARRL had mistakenly listed it for tomorrow - July 24th.  I got an e-mail from Ward Silver, the contesting guru over there and we got the details corrected.

Have no fear - the main event is NEXT Sunday - July 31st.  Now, if you guys have in mind to make a practice run tomorrow, I don't see anything wrong with that.  But if you call "CQ BB" tomorrow, don't be surprised when you don't get any answers!

I know I'm preaching to the choir out there when I speak of how hot it has been.  It peaked to over 100F yesterday and came close to doing it again today.  I sure hope next Sunday is sunny, dry but just a tad cooler.  Personally?  I love the heat; but this has been a bit much, even for me.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just your usual day

up in New Hampshire.  Sailing on a beautiful lake in near perfect weather with good friends and then working the International Space Station!

Another fine post from outdoorsman and QRPer extraordinaire, Jim W1PID.

You know, while reading this, it occurred to me that as the last Shuttle mission ends with Atlantis landing Thursday morning, our manned spaceflight program is reaching a very low point during the Anniversary Week of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing mission.

From space dominance to a ride in the backseat in 42 years.  From boldly expanding our horizons with a great "We can do it" attitude to "Nah, it's not really worth it anymore".  Very sad - to me at least.

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

Oh My!

I saw this displayed on the instrument cluster of my Jeep in Bridgewater, NJ (the town where I work) during my drive home this afternoon.

I was at a red light; so I quickly broke out my cell phone and grabbed a quick snapshot.  According to the weather forecasters, this is just the beginning.  Friday and Saturday are going to be noticeably hotter along with higher humidity, of course!

I've added a new blog to the blogroll - "Misadventures in Ham Radio" by Sam KCØKSV.  Sam is sharing his return to the hobby after a layoff.  First off, I'm glad he's back but I'm even more glad he's sharing!  Sam may prove to be the impetus to get other "inactive" guys going again.

You folks may look at the blogroll and may think there's way too many out there.  I don't think there's enough!  You never know when an idea that you  have will help someone else out.  Sharing is the key - the Internet is providing a way for long distance Elmering and that, my friends, is a very, very good thing.  Nothing that I come up with here is really all that original.  I use the ideas and bits of information that you all provide, and with a twist, I try to make it useful to me and then share my experiences. 

I wish we had this 33 years ago when I first got licensed.  Back then, as a Novice, we learned by "hands on" and mostly by our mistakes.  The tales of the neighborhood Ham who took you under his wing weren't really what I encountered.  Don't get me wrong .... I got PLENTY of help and learnin' from Old Timers; but never really in that kind of "one on one" situation that you read so fondly about.  If the Internet and blogs and e-mail lists were available back then - boy, I can only imagine where I'd be now!  (Heathkit might still be alive!) I definitely "poo poo" the idea that the Internet is killing Amateur Radio - it's making it better! 

So, if you want to share - anything .... the technical, social, personal experience of Ham Radio- you don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize caliber author.  Heck, I sure ain't!  But seriously, consider Blogspot or Wordpress (psst ....... they're free!) and share with us, too!

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

Seven years blogging about QRP and Morse Code and still have the desire to do it for a lot more!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Couple O' Things

Just a couple of things - then off to bed to get some more rest.  This sinus infection is not only kicking my butt; the weather isn't helping either.  High 90s all week - over 100 on Friday and Saturday.  I've often heard it said that Summer colds are the worst; but this is ridiculous!

I saw this site mentioned on QRP-L by N0SA, who was promoting his own Website.  Nothing wrong with that in my book!

Look at the keys, look at the keys!  Every time I turn around, there's another gosh-darned reason to be buying lottery tickets!

Secondly, in my quest to KISS for FOBB (and believe me, I NEED to keep it simple!) I ran across this at the NJQRP Website.

PFR-3A with a wire cut for 67 feet and a 33 foot long counterpoise.  I'll be up and running in no time.  And switching back and forth between 20 and 40 Meters should be relatively painless.  I can use the Black Widow crappie pole to get the wire to go up straight for 20 feet and then run the rest over to a tree limb - Inverted L !!  If my experience at Lake George was any indication, and knowing Cotton Street Park as I do, I should be antenna ready in about 10 minutes or so. Of course, that will provide Murphy with enough time to make sure other things go wrong!

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

Sunday, July 17, 2011

By the skin of my teeth, literally!

I managed to snare K6JSS/1 from Vermont into the logbook.

I had QRPSPOTS on all day waiting for an announcement for 40 Meters.  As soon as I saw it, I scurried down to the shack and called K6JSS/1 as soon as I heard him.  Of course as soon as we started our QSO, some lid comes on frequency and begins a minutes long tuneup session.  Good grief!

As luck would have it, I started listening up a bit higher in frequency and found him calling CW without interference; and this time we concluded our QSO the right way.  Art KB1NHV QRT'ed from 40 Meters right after our QSO.  Guess he was tired of the QRM, too!

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

Back home; but........

We're back home from our one week stay at Lake George, as if that isn't bad enough that vacation is over and the 9-5 workday drudgery is about to begin, it appears I came home with either a sinus infection or nasty head cold.  Not sure which; but it's not pleasant in either case.  As I sit here, seriously hacking up a lung, I am heartened and my spirits are lifted by two things I found on QRP-L.

First off is another wonderful exploit by Jim W1PID as he spent another wonderful afternoon on Knox Mountain in New Hampshire.  It's Jim who I try to emulate with my attempts at outdoor portable QRP ops; and this past week I was mildly successful.

Secondly are two videos from Steve WG0AT who was in QSO with fellow blogger, Dave AA7EE using the prototype KX3.  Since these can be found on YouTube, I'm sure Steve would have no problem with me posting these here.


which only wants me wanting this rig even more.  This little guy will not only be THE perfect outdoor QRP rig; but looks like it would hold its own in the shack too, as a main station QRP radio.

Patience, W2LJ ......... patience!

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

Friday, July 15, 2011


Last night we went into Lake George Village to grab some dinner before the weekly Thursday night fireworks.  We went to this place called the Moose Tooth Grill where I had one of the best burgers I have ever eaten anywhere.  Before you wonder where I am going with this, I'll explain.

My kids got to order from the Kid's Menu. After they were done, I perused their menus.  The menu gave details about some of the surrounding sites and attractions, including some short, easy, family hikes in the nearby mountains.  I'm not Dennis Blanchard, K1YPP and I'm not about to traverse the Appalachian Trail; but a few, easy short hikes next year with some mountain top portable radio ops sound like fun to me!  I seem to be in the process of getting the routine down of tossing a wire and getting on the air; so I could see myself doing it from an easy mountain trail.

By the way, if you've never read Three Hundred Zeroes, I would recommend it highly.  While Amateur Radio plays a minor role in the book, it was a great read none the less.  I finished it in two days.  Dennis is a great story teller.

Steve Weber KD1JV is mentioned in the book, when Dennis met him on the trail,  It also happened that Dennis was carrying an ATS-3 along with him.

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Super Neat!

New try for contacts on 20 Meters from Adirondack State Park.  This time, the weapons of choice were the PFR-3A, the end fed wire and the counterpoise wire from the Buddistick kit.

Getting the wire up in the tree was a piece of cake.  Using the antenna line launcher, I was able to get the end of the wire up in a tree at about the 30 foot level.  It ended up being a kind of "Inverted L", sloper kind of affair. I had to unroll the Buddistick counterpoise wire almost all the way; but I was able to get the PFR-3A's internal SWR indicator to wink out, meaning a decent match was accomplished.

I called CQ without too much success; but I did answer the CQ of all persons - John ON4UN !!!

There was no pile-up considering John's celebrity status; and I got through on my first call!  Wowzers!  John gave me a 559 and he was a good 599.  There's no way he could be any less loud considering the beautiful antenna farm that he has.  If you've never seen it, just check out his QRZ page.  John was using his K3 and was running 1000 Watts.  Anyway, we spoke for a few moments and I mentioned I was running QRP to a wire in a tree.  He told me that my signal was decent for what I was using and that made my day.

Soon after that, a Dad and his two daughters came into the field to use it for some baseball hitting practice, so I packed it in and headed back to the cabin.  I didn't need to get pelted in the coconut with a baseball and from the looks of it, his girls could swing the bat pretty well!

I still wasn't able to get a decent match on 40 Meters, so I'll have to do a little more research with wire lengths before Flight of the Bumblebees.

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Saw this on the street in Bolton Landing tonight as we were walking to a restaurant for dinner.  Not sure if this a restored original or just a reproduction (leading towards that) of a Willy's WWII Jeep.  Most of the originals are in museums - I find it hard to believe that someone would put one on the road, especially without some kind of special plates denoting its historic status.

But it's still cool to see, anyway!

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

Not so much success today

I headed across the street today to the park across from where we're staying.  Today's weapons of choice were the PFR-3A and the wire and the Fuchs tuner.

The good news is that my homebrewed antenna line launcher worked like a charm!  Got that fishing weight and line over a 30 foot limb with no problem.  Got the antenna up and hooked up to the Fuchs tuner which was in turn hooked up to the PFR-3A.

The bad news came while doing the final fine tuning with the Fuchs to get onto the 20 Meter band.  The knob separated from the polycap's tuning shaft.  The knob is just spinning, not getting proper purchase to the shaft. Argh! I brought plenty of tools along; but it appears I have screwdriver blades that are either too small; or too big. None the size I need, of course.

The fix will be plenty easy enough; and will only take a few minutes. I just need the right screwdriver.  So it look like the rest of the week, I will be using either the Buddistick (which seems to work just fine) or perhaps one of the doublets.

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

When All Else Fails Part Two

My sister pointed me towards this article in the Christian Science Monitor:

It's a good one.

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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fun day up at the Lake

Sunny and beautiful up in Lake George, NY.  It was in the mid to high 80s today and the kids had a great time enjoying the water.

I brought the Kindle along with three freshly loaded books and am already a quarter way into the first one.  This is the life and I am going to squeeze out every nano-second of enjoyment that I can!

I even got on the air today!

That's the Buddistick set up behind the cabin.  I brought along the 12' painter's pole mast and I set up for 20 Meters today.  I used four 11" arms, the coil and one of the extra long black whips.  I had a quick QSO with KD4NUL in Georgia; but the band quickly changed and did in our QSO.

I handed Randy KB4QQJ a contact for the SKCC Weekend Sprint.

The most gratifying QSO was a ragchew with Marc W4MPS who hails from Clayton, North Carolina.

I learned during our QSO that Marc and both call East Brunswick, NJ our hometown!  Marc moved to North Carolina in 2009 after retiring; while I moved to South Plainfield in 1998 after getting married.  But we both claim East Brunswick as "home".  What a small world!  A QSO from Lake George, NY to Clayton, NC to talk about East Brunswick NJ.

I started the day using the K1; but changed off to the PFR-3A, as it's nice having those paddles attached to the unit.  I was putting out about 5 Watts to the Buddistick using the small SLA that you can see in the upper corner of that plastic bin which I used as an operating table.  Using the Autek antenna analyzer that you see next to the SLA, I was able to adjust the Buddistick down to an SWR of about 2:1.  The built in tuner in the PFR-3a handled that with ease.

Later this week, I still plan to go across the street with the end fed wire and Fuchs tuner to see how that works as an "all band" antenna. But today is considered a success and I had fun; and got a little sun burnt in the process.

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

Friday, July 08, 2011

K6BBQ's Field Day 2011

And to think I used to think that I had fun on Field Day!

We used to enjoy our food at Piscataway Amateur Radio Club Field Days - but we never had burritos!

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

Sad day

Today, as most of you know, was the launch of the final Space Shuttle Mission - STS135.  Atlantis lifted off and with that, the last manned mission launched from the USA had begun.  From here on out, if we desire to get to the International Space Station, we will have to rely on "bumming a seat" with the Russians.

I was born in 1957, the year that Sputnik was launched so I am a "Space Program" baby, as it were.  Some of the very first TV images that I can recall were of Alan Shepard's and John Glenn's Mercury flights.  I watched with rapt attention all the Gemini and Apollo missions.  I followed SkyLab and the Shuttle missions with equal interest.

It is sad, for me at least, to see it come to an end.

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

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

All righty, then!

Tomorrow evening from 9:00 to 10:30 PM EDT, begins the 20 Meter Summer QRP Foxhunt season for 2011.  And although I did not volunteer for Fox duty this year (the young whipper snappers need to get THEIR feet wet!) I will be participating, as a Hound as always!

That's ONE smart Fox, Dude!

The Foxes for tomorrow night's hunts are Jay KT5E in Colorado and Jim K9JWV in Utah.  Off the top of my head, I'd think that I stand a decent chance to nab two pelts. After all, 20 Meters ...... Utah and Colorado from New Jersey ...... right?  Well, one thing I have learned from many years of Fox hunting is  - throw common sense and general rules of thumb right out the old window!  When you think it's going to be easy, it ends up being darned near impossible and visa-versa!  But the one thing it always is, is FUN !!!

Now, what's that you're telling me?  You're afraid to give it a shot?  You fear your code speed is not up to snuff?  Fear not, gentle reader!  The exchange is standard ..... RST, state, name, power out.  So you know right off the bat, for instance, that if you call Jay and he hears you and calls you back, that you'll hear something like this "TU W2LJ 559 CO Jay 5W" In turn all you have to do is send back pretty much the same thing just giving his RST (real RST, please - not the auto 559 if he's better or worse than that!), your state, your name, and your power out.  Even if you're not up to the standard Foxhunt speed of 20 WPM, all you have to do is listen for your own callsign.  And any Fox worth his pelt will QRS (slow down) for you, if he hears you send to him at a slower speed.

Plus I'll let you in on a dirty little secret !!!! Psst ..... make sure no one is around to overhear us ..... if you call the Fox at a code speed that's slower than the rest of the Hounds, you might just stick out from the pack and be heard earlier than the others !!!  You just might have a built in advantage!  Just telling you what I noticed from years of Fox duty.  When you have 20 Hounds calling you all at the same time - out of the ordinary stands out!  But hey ... you didn't get that from me - OK? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

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

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

When All Else Fails

How many times have you heard that?  The inference being that Amateur Radio is there as a last, stop gap measure when all other communications fail.  Many ..... MANY, are quick to snort and chuckle under their breath.

"With today's technology - cell phones, satellite phones, the Internet, etc, etc, etc - there's NO need for Amateur Radio as a last measure.  It's just a hobby for old men that has outlived its usefulness."  Sadly enough, I've heard that uttered by some within our own ranks.

After reading the July 2011 issue of CQ magazine, I wouldn't go putting all my eggs into the "outlived its usefulness" basket.  Not just yet.

On page 13 begins an article, six pages long, by Richard Fisher KI6SN entitled "Radio Amateurs Face Wrath of Tornadoes Head-On".  It's a very good read, worthy of your time and effort.  If you don't get CQ, it's worth the trip to the local newsstand or book store.

When a series of tornadoes hit the Southern states this past Spring, in some cases Amateur Radio WAS all there was until emergency communications could be restored.  In some cases, it was Amateur Radio Ops who helped restore those affected communications channels.

The point is, there is a reason the FCC titles the rules governing Amateur Radio "Part 97 - AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE".  That's what we are, bottom line.  When push comes to shove, and work or communications needs to get done, many times you'll see a brother or sister Amateur Radio Op in the fray, volunteering their time and talent (gratis), doing what needs to get done.

Whether it's with CERT, or helping to provide disaster relief or passing emergency traffic, being a storm spotter for SkyWarn, or helping in a search and rescue, or helping out in an emergency shelter, or even helping provide communications for your local parade, walk-a-thon, or 5K run .... often you'll find a Ham ready, willing and eager to lend a hand.  And don't think for a second that it's not noticed and not appreciated.

I was surprised to read a "Letter to the Editor" in our little town paper a week ago.  The letter was from one of the Lieutenants of our Police Dept. In the letter, he publicly thanked the town's CERT and ARES/RACES operators (by name) for assistance given within the last month.  We're always thanked for our efforts but the public letter was not expected, by any means; and it sure was appreciated.  We're not out there to be Police Officers, Firefighters or EMS personnel.  We're out there to do what we can so that the professionals can be free to be placed where they can best do their jobs!

Now ...... to keep this QRP related (somehow).  Take a good look at the cover of said July 2011 edition of CQ.  The cover photograph is of Lloyd Barnett W4RFZ, Control Op for the Tornado Net in Alabama.  Not that he uses them for his net operations, but in his hands he's holding a Tuna Tin II and a Herring Aid 5 receiver.  See?  You'll find QRPers just about everywhere.

"They're everywhere! They're everywhere! They're everywhere!"

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

Monday, July 04, 2011

MI QRP Independence Day Sprint

For me, at least, it turned out to be a dud, kind of like the firework above.  I worked less than a dozen stations and about three or four of those ended up being ragchews.  I was calling "CQ MI QRP" and I guess that was interpreted as a general "CQ QRP" call.  Hey, I met two new QRP friends that I've never worked before, so it wasn't a total loss! And I ended up catching up with some friends I haven't spoken with in a while.

I pulled the plug when the time between contacts became really excessive.  At that point, it's just better to go and read or get other things done.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you

Happy Independence Day !

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

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Indeed, 'twas a washout

No park as hoped for today.  The thunderstorms started at 4:00 AM and continued off and on throughout the day, curtailing my shack operations as well.

While it was wet and on the cool side here - 74F (23C), I had a QSO with Rolan W3FDK in Maryland who informed me that it was sunny and in the 90s there - just two states away!  I also actually worked one of the 13 Colony Special Event Stations, K2H out of MA on 40 Meters.  He's the only one I've heard on CW and he was calling CQ, sounding quite lonely with not many takers.  I even posted his whereabouts on the DX Cluster and that didn't seem to draw him any takers, either. Too bad.

I did get the Baby Black Widows finished and operating. I used them in a very nice ragchew on 40 Meters with Ernie AA2YK.  He sounded great, too!  He was using a Nye Viking straight key and I would've sworn he was using a keyer and paddles also.  His fist was that good; and that's a joy to listen to.

They feel great and work FB, too.  I need to do just a little more adjusting to get the feel exactly the way I want; but these are a winner!  If you have a KX-1 or a PFR-3 or PFR-3A, I would strongly suggest getting in touch with W5JH before he runs out of stock.

Lastly, as I pine away for some outdoor operating, here's a video that Steve WG0AT (portable ops expert extraordinaire)  posted on YouTube today.  He was using that Tinker Toy set that we Hams call Buddipole parts and his ATS-3B with a 9V battery, folks - about 1 Watt out - maybe?

Enjoy the video !

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

Raining here

And it's been raining since we had a line of serious boomers go through about 4:00 AM.  The park is looking doubtful for today.  Looks like any operations today will be out of the shack.

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

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Not hearing

any of the 13 Colony Special Event stations in the CW portions of the bands.  I see them listed on the TelNet clusters as being active in the SSB portion, though.

I did manage to work S51DX in Slovenia with 5 Watts on 40 Meters tonight.  If I don't work any better DX tomorrow from the park, that will be my first entry in the Club72 DX Marathon for July.

Something that I heard that was really strange.  A station was calling CQ on 40 Meters and started doing a military style drum cadence using his straight key.  It was an unmistakable drum beat, that was instantly recognizable especially if you've ever marched in a parade.  He did that three or four times before continuing to call CQ.  Weird!

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

Someone had a good day!

Hope I am as lucky tomorrow!

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

I'm a sucker

for the 4th of July.  Always have been, since I was a kid.  This might have something to do with that.  This is one of the very first cartoons that I remember seeing.  It probably wasn't the first; but it hit fertile ground and took root.  It made me very aware that the freedom and liberties that we enjoy did not come easy.  And that's why it's all the more important that they be so vigilantly protected.

On a Ham radio (Heh! Ham radio with Porky Pig right above this!) note, I gave my Baby Black Widow brass pieces their second coat of lacquer today.  This stuff dries really fast!  I've used various brands of polyurethanes and lacquers to protect my collection of autographed baseballs. (If they weren't so dear to me; I'll bet I could sell those and have enough for a K3 and a KX3!!!) None of the lacquers I have previously used were as nice as this.  It is Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover 2 - Clear Gloss.  No drips, no runs (no errors - a little baseball humor, there).  A nice crystal clear finish that doesn't even look like it's there - and that's the whole point.

I am still hoping to get some park operating time in tomorrow; but the latest I hear is for thunderstorms tomorrow.  It's good that the park is close.  Maybe I can get some time in in the late morning to very early afternoon, then the storms can go to town, for all I care.  Today, my wife is working, so I can't leave the kids at home.  They're at that age now where they're too young to be left alone for more than an hour; but too old to be tagging along with Dad. 'Tis a pity, because it's sunny and only very scattered partly cloudy.  And right now, around Noon, it's 85F (29C) with relatively low humidity.  Would be a great day to be out there!

Well, if it does rain tomorrow and should lightning keep me off the air; at the rate this Rust-oleum is drying, I should be able to continue with the Baby Black Widow build.  I'll post pictures as I make progress.

OH .........  don't forget two things !!!!!  First, July is QRP Marathon month for Club 72.  Make your best, longest distance QRP contacts and enter them.  See how you stack up against other QRPers.  Last marathon, Fred VE3FAL and I were the only two QRPers from North America to enter.  C'mon guys, lets show them what VE/XE/W/K QRPers can do!

Secondly. if you're not out watching beautiful pyrotechnic displays (fireworks) Monday night, keep in mind that the MI QRP Club Independence Day Sprint will be going on.  2300 UTC on July 4 to 0300 UTC on July 5. For those of you who may be UTC challenged, that's from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM EDT, for example.

Happy Independence Day weekend - and a belated Happy Canada Day to all our VE friends and neighbors!

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

Friday, July 01, 2011

My Fancy-Shmancy Spray Booth

Is the top of an old pizza box in my driveway!  The 400 grit sandpaper finished off the brass pieces of the Baby Black Widow very nicely, giving them a smooth, satiny brushed finish.  I stopped at Home Depot on the way home last night to pick up some 4/40 screws.  These are being used to fill the threaded holes while spraying so that they don't get all gunked up.  It's a good thing I decided to pick up two packets of screws - one would not have been enough!

I have given the pieces two light coats tonight - the lacquer I purchased needs only a 30 minute wait between coats.  Tomorrow, I will flip the pieces over to get the "other" sides.  A good drying period of tomorrow afternoon and all day Sunday and I should be able to finish the build on Monday.

I was looking at the Black Widow gallery on Jerry W5JH's Website and when I do the bigger set of  Black Widow paddles, I think I might polish them to a mirror finish using my Dremel and polishing wheels.  There was an example there and it really looked slick.

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