Friday, September 30, 2011

More things

It was a beautifully sunny day here in NJ, with warm temperatures.  I did get a chance to get out to the Jeep during lunch and did set up the Hamstick and PFR3A.  I didn't work anyone; but I did hear Paul WØRW/PM working KM6Z on 20 Meters around 1700 UTC.  I called Paul after their QSO was over; but he didn't come back to me; so either he QRT'ed or didn't hear me (way more likely).

I did call CQ for a bit before heading back in. Not so much with any expectation of getting answered (you never know); but I did want to see if I was picked up by the Reverse Beacon Network.  Sure enough, WE4S down in Georgia heard me calling CQ at 8dB above the noise level.  Not ear crushing; but at least I know I was getting out.

I bought these really inexpensive earbuds at the A&P to stick in the backpack for use with the PFR3A.  They're called Rock Candy earbuds and they're made by Mizco.  They cost me all of $4.99.

They're very comfortable and they're quite loud!  They deliver more sound than my Sony earbuds that I was using.  In fact, with the Sony earbuds, I had to use a Boosteroo audio amplifier and set PFR3A's volume control at the max to get decent sound levels.  Today, I was able to turn the volume on the PFR3A almost all the way down; and there was still more than enough volume.  Tomorrow, when I go grocery shopping, I plan to pick up another set or two; just to have in reserve.

Keep in mind that on Sunday, is the launch of  iHAB7, the latest effort by the Iowa High Altitude Balloon project.  There will be a 40 Meter beacon on 7.028 MHz.  Launch is at 1600 UTC.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I started using a new template here on blogger; but today I took out the background image. Too distracting and it bothered my eyes.

I wanted to go out and do some QRP during lunchtime today at work.  I wasn't able to because one of my guys at another of our locations called out; so I sent the guy I normally work with, over there to help pick up the slack.  So I was flying solo today and couldn't leave the building.

However, this morning, I did throw a very small backpack in the back of the Jeep containing the PFR3A, Baby Black Widow paddles, battery, and a power cable.  I also placed the magmount and my Hamsticks in the back of the Jeep.  So hopefully tomorrow, I will be able to go to a local park or even just sit in the parking lot and get on for a few minutes around lunchtime.

As it turned out, I might not have been able to get on during lunchtime today as we've had thunderstorms periodically running through the area all day.  The last few days were very humid and muggy. As I left the building at work today, it was obvious that fresh, dryer air has swept into the area.  It's also been pretty breezy and the temperature has dropped significantly.  I think this weekend, the daily high is only supposed to be in the 60s (18C) with lows at night in the 40s (7C).  The seasons are a changing!

This weekend looks like it will be somewhat busy.  I am hoping to make it over to Washington Rock State Park next weekend to begin activating New Jersey's State Parks via the POTA program.  Definitely not Mt. Herman or Eagle Cap - but it's a start!  Next year, I hope to make it up to High Point State Park in the Northwest corner of New Jersey - the Appalachian Trail runs through there.  So maybe I can do double duty - activate the park and also start qualifying for some of WB3AAL's Appalachian Trail awards!

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Confession time

It is said that confession is good for the soul.  I have a confession to make - I have severe QRP outdoor envy:

I'd be willing to bet that after watching Steve WGØAT's latest video, that I am not alone in my transgressions.

And Guy N7UN, thanks for that great idea for supporting the Buddistick counterpoise - I am going to be heading out to the hardware store this weekend!

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I never realized

I have lived in New Jersey all my 54 years.  And until joining the "Parks On The Air" group on Yahoo, I never realized that New Jersey had so many state parks.  In all, there are 51. One of the things I would like to start doing (probably next year) is activating as many of these as I can.  According to the group's rules, it takes five complete QSOs from any given park for it to have been considered activated.  This is pretty much similar to activating a Summit On The Air, if I remember correctly.

I am familiar with a lot of them, perhaps even a majority of them.  But I have to confess, that before reading the list on the POTA Yahoo site, I wasn't even aware of Farny State Park, or Wawayanda State Park or even Double Trouble State Park (does that refer to Pennsylvania and New York? Sorry - no offense!).  These and others I will have to Google for locations and directions.  

In addition to these, there are also fourteen National Parks in New Jersey; but I believe that only twelve can be activated.  I am pretty certain that bringing Amateur Radio equipment to Liberty Island and Ellis Island is not permitted.

Operating the parks and activating them seems to be a natural activity for someone who likes to QRP from the "Great Outdoors".  If you're intrigued by this idea, I encourage you to visit:

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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Knew this was going to happen

I don't quite know what to think about this.  I just received an e-mail telling me that WorldRadio Online will no longer be free beginning with the November issue.  The yearly subscription fee will be $19.95 a year beginning October 25th - BUT a loyal WorldRadio Online reader, if I subscribe before then, my first year will only be $9.97.

This seems to be prompted by the fact that WorldRadio Online will now be made available to tablets, phones and other on-line devices.  I am guessing that there's some kind of inherent costs associated with that, which makes a subscription necessary (once again)?  Or perhaps it the fact they are turning over production to a company that specializes in "e-zines" (hate that term!).

Which makes me wonder ..... what the heck happened to my Lifetime subscription that I ante'd up good money for (in good faith) so many years ago?  Yes, I know, they extended my subscription to CQ Magazine for a limited time. But that runs out next April, and I have to start paying for that again, too. Note to self - NEVER sign up for a lifetime subscription for ANYTHING, ever again.

I really love CQ Publications and I think they do an outstanding job.  My gut makes me feel that somehow, I am getting the shaft here.  I'd better cool off before I make a final determination, because right now, I'm in no mood to be forking over 20 bucks a year for something I thought was going to be free. And right now?  Saving up for that KX3 is more important to me than Kurt N. Sturba.

But referring to the title of this post, in the back of my mind I always knew that "There's no such thing as a free lunch".  The way my luck is, pretty soon I'll get an e-mail from the League telling me that my Lifetime Membership no longer includes QST!

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

The One and Only

I was going through some of my older Ham Radio publications and ran across some old QSTs and ARRL license manuals and study guides from the 60s and early 70s.  QST was still its smaller size then, as were the license manuals and the famous "How To Become an Amateur Radio Operator".  These were the publications that I constantly leafed through when I very first started dreaming about joining the Amateur Radio community as a youngster.

It was fun looking at the old advertisements AND the old prices; but the best part of the older ARRL publications (IMHO) were the cartoons by Phil Gildersleeve W1CJD.

I'm sure many of you are very familiar with Phil's work - an example of which appears above.  For me, Phil was the face of the ARRL!  Whenever I saw one of his great drawings, I knew it was an ARRL publication. Jeeves, the Podunk Hollow Radio Club, and his many QST covers were and continue to be the greatest! And back when I was first licensed in 1978, a lot of folks were still using his artwork on their QSL cards.  For more examples of his work you can visit W8JYZ's "Old QSL Cards" Website - especially:


There are a lot of talented cartoonists out there; but I doubt we'll ever see anyone come close to the caliber of "Gil", as far as Amateur Radio is concerned.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

PFR3 thoughts

My good friend Bob W3BBO just e-mailed me that he was able to nab K6JSS/6 from California before the Special Event station moves on to Massachusetts in all of about 7 minutes.

That got me to thinking how perfect the PFR3, and radios like it are for folks like my friend Bob, who are in antenna challenged circumstances. Bob lives in an apartment now after many years of house owning.  While he could have thrown a hunk of wire out the window (he lives on the second floor) he opted to go out to the car and hook up his PFR3 to a Hamstick.

Think of the situation .... it's dark here on the East coast already as Autumn is now officially here.  Throw the Hamstick on the car and hook up the radio.  In his case, Bob has the attached paddles.  The internal battery holders mean no fussing around with an SLA or anything else. The red LED frequency display is perfect for evening operations.  Hook up the antenna, power up the rig and go to town!  Set up is what - all of a couple of minutes in this case (if that) ?  And it worked for him, so that makes it all the more sweeter!

Thanks go out to Steve Weber, Hendricks QRP Kits and Elecraft for coming up with and offering these trail friendly radios. They are great - even when not used on the trail!

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

Good day for the higher bands

Between chores and other duties, I managed to find some "On The Air" time for station W2LJ today.  It was quite a treat as propagation was favored in the higher bands today.  20 Meters was open today as well; and I managed QSOs on the 20, 12 and 10 Meter bands.  DX was plentiful to find; and while I didn't work any new countries, I did manage QSOS with fellow Hams in the Slovak Republic, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Mexico, England and the good ol' U.S. of A.

I think these bands being open is such a novelty that stations were just rushing through QSOs in the fears that the bands could close at any second.  Unfortunately, my DX QSOs were not ragchews, but more of the DXpedition "599 TU" kind of QSOs.  I long for the days when the bands will be open for long periods of time and DX QSOs can be not so rushed and more leisurely.  I remember back to my Novice days, when contacts with DX stations were ragchews, just like any stateside contact.  I still have a lot of QSLs from back in those days that contained letters and photographs that picked up where the radio QSO ended.  I enjoyed those immensely and I sincerely hope that they have not gone the way of the dinosaurs.

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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Very weird

propagation on the bands today.  I didn't hear anyone who posted on QRPSPOTS today, with the exception of Cam N6GA who got on 15 Meters early and was calling CQ as K6JSS/6.  He was very light into NJ, only about a 529/429 or so.

However, 17 Meters seemed pretty active and I was able to work RT5A Yuri in Russia and S59AA Franc in Slovenia.  20 Meters was dead to me. (Is that melodramatic or what?)  There were a lot of SOTA spots mentioned on QRPSPOTS and I didn't hear any of them.  If I hadn't worked the two DX stations on 17 Meters I probably would have gone out back to make sure the antennas were still up.

Rem K6BBQ mentioned on QRPSPOTS something about an X Class flare.  I guess I wasn't alone in listening to the "sounds of silence".

72 de Larry w2lj
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Going through my e-mail this morning, I was grrrrrreeted by the fact that fellow Polar Bear and QRPer, Ken Louks WA8REI has started his own blog.  I've known Ken for a few years as we bump into each other on the air all the time, it seems.  And that's really a good thing as Ken is one of the nicest individuals that you could ever have the fortune to know.

But for as many QSOs as we have had, there are obviously things that I didn't know about him; and by the same token, I am sure he doesn't know about me.  For instance, I remember when he had his stroke back in 2008; but I had no idea he was a professional musician.  And I'll tell you right there, on an admiration scale, that knocks him right off the chart in my books.

I would love to play a musical instrument; but I have no talent whatsoever.  I am what could probably best be described as musically bankrupt.  But listen to the sample of Ken's one handed playing that he's inserted into his first post - he has more talent in that arm than I have in three or four of my collective bodies (if I had more than one!). And with all that musical talent that Ken has, now I have a good idea as to why he is the superb CW op that he is.

My dreams of having musical talent aside, my point is that I am so happy that Ken has decided to share his Amateur Radio experiences with us.  And there are MANY of you out there who should be doing the same. Blogging is easy and simple and free, if you use Blogger or Wordpress.  You don't need to be a Shakespeare or a Hemingway or a Bronte or a Fitzgerald for that matter.  All you have to be is yourself, along with a desire to share whatever it is about Ham Radio that you like or is important to you.  We're not talking high prose here - just imagine this as all of us, sitting around a huge kitchen table, sharing coffee (or whatever) and jabbering on about what we love the best.

Love to operate outdoors?  Wow, I love reading about that - consider sharing!  Love to build and design things - I can't get enough about that (especially from a beginner's point of view) - consider sharing!  Love to just ragchew and make contacts around the world?  Love stories about that too - consider sharing!  Are you considering doing something new for you, like attempting to work satellites or maybe doing moonbounce or meteor scatter for the first time?  I would really love to read about something like that!

And from someone's blog, you just might learn a new bit of information about something that's important to you; but you never knew before, or had the time to look for.  Take today for instance,  John AE5X tells about his new weather station in his latest post on his blog, "Radio & Photography".  I have been wanting a weather station for years, but have never wanted to shell out the big bucks for a Davis or Peet unit.  John posts about a station that he has found that seems to be a good bang for the buck.  Although John and I have never met face to face, we've run into each other on the air enough and have e-mailed each other enough where I consider him a good friend.  I respect his opinion immensely, and if it weren't for his blog post, I would have probably never run into the info about this weather station for a long time to come.  Thanks John!  Now when Marianne asks me what I want for Christmas this year, I have something more realistic to ask for besides "KX3"!

The point is, that blogging about Ham Radio is almost kind of the like the "New Elmering".  You have no idea how many people you can touch and inspire.  Also, you have no idea of how many instances occur that when you post about something that you think is routine and mundane, for someone else (perhaps a newcomer) it's a "Gee,I never thought of THAT before" moment!

The bottom line is, we all have something to share.  "Too many blogs out there already" you say?  No my friend, I say there are not enough!

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

A request - revisited

Thank you!

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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do More With Less

Is the title of this blog.  Of course, as a QRPer, I am referring to operating using low power - 5 Watts or less.  For the non-believers (and sorry, I don't mean to make this sound like a religion - perhaps skeptics would have been a better word), 5 Watts will get you nowhere unless you have mega-aluminum in the air.  You know, what I'm talking about - the kind of antenna farm you can see using Google Earth.

Time to debunk that Urban Myth, also.  Not to toot my horn; but I have worked all 50 States and over 100 DXCC entities using nothing more than a Butternut HF9V vertical and simple wire antennas (G5RV or 88' EDZ).  Any my accomplishments are PUNY, small and not noteworthy at all!  My accomplishments are nothing, nil, zip, nada!  There are people out there who are on the DXCC Honor Roll using 5 Watts and not that much in the way of antennas.

But maybe the benchmark, is none other than a Ham that I mention here from time to time - John Shannon K3WWP.  John is eligible for awards many times over using 5 Watts or less and very simple antennas. And if that wasn't enough - he has currently had at least one QRP QSO for over 6,200 consecutive days.  That is just over 17 years, my friends!  Through sunspot highs and sunspot lows, through geomagnetic storms and other anomalies,  John has kept his 5 Watts out there in the aether, working the world.   And he has done this with the following:

So the next time you look at your antenna farm and you're tempted to bemoan the fact that it's small and that it's not much as compared to the Big Guns, and that it can't be seen using Google Earth - take heart. People are accomplishing great feats every day using not much more (and sometimes less!) than you and I have.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


That's what the 49'ers yelled when they struck gold in California - wasn't it?

I struck gold in California tonight by working K6JSS/6 - Cam N6GA on 15 Meters of all bands.  Who would have thought that 15 Meters would have been the money band to California at close to 8:30 PM local time?  But Cam bore with me and we got the QSO accomplished.  I got a 529 and sent a 549.  Not strong signals at the time; but as I sit here typing this, Cam's QRP signal is getting increasingly louder. He's almost a good 579 when the QSB isn't affecting him.  15 Meters at this time of day with such a lousy sunspot cycle!  If we were having a superb cycle, this wouldn't have struck me as odd.  But with the less than great propagation we've been having - I am surprised to say the least.

And speaking of accomplished - Cam is the editor/writer of the QRP column for CQ Magazine - double treat to have worked a "QRP Celebrity".

This QSO went a long way towards making my day, that's for sure!

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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So very cool!

Good friend and fellow Polar Bear, Rem K6BBQ posted this video on YouTube, about operating from the USS Pampanito, a World War II submarine.  The Pampanito is berthed near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

Back in the day, when I worked in the professional photographic industry, my company used to send me out to Photo West.  The years that I attended, the trade show was held at Mosconi Center in "The City by the Bay".

I always enjoyed the many restaurants on and around the Wharf and Pier 39.  Going to the Pampanito was always a special treat!

Once again - great job, Rem!

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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

QRP Afield

I had to settle for being a "giver of points" again.  Too much to do here this weekend to make a full, outdoor effort.  I am typing this as I prepare to go to the grocery store and get some food shopping done.

I am seeing what seems to be a decent amount of activity on QRPSPOTS; but to be honest, I'm not hearing a lot of QRPers.  I am hearing a lot of European contesters in the QRP area, especially SK7OA up around 14.062 MHz.  I did manage to get down to my basement shack for a few minutes and did work AB9CA and WT4M.

I also worked Bob W3BBO who was one the air as W3M - Special Event station for the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the founding of McKean, Pennsylvania. Bob mentioned that it was cloudy and cool in McKean.  Same thing here in New Jersey. Temperature is only around 60F (15C) and it looks like it wants to rain.  It feels like we went from August to late October in the span of a day.

Anyway, like I said, busy here today!  I had an allergist appointment early this morning, Joey had a soccer game around 11:00AM.  Now it's time to grocery shop and then put some salt in the water softener in the basement.  When I get home, maybe I'll find more time to get on the air.

Oh yes, tomorrow is the monthly Run for the Bacon - have to post that to the QRP e-mail reflectors later!

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A request

Anything that appears in this blog is free to be used elsewhere.  I really don't mind at all if you see anything here that you want to use in your club newsletter, your own blog, or even if you want to print something out and put it on your refrigerator!

As my regular readers know, I have posted things that I have seen on QRP-L, and even things from other blogs and Websites (such as Jim W1PID's adventures) that I thought merited sharing.  But, when re-posting another's material, I always go to great pains to name the source, so that there is NO CONFUSION that what I have posted in those instances is not my original material.  Hey, if I didn't think of it, I ain't gonna take credit for it!

So please, if you're going to use anything you see here (and I invite you to!  Please, feel free!) - just don't copy and paste without mentioning that you saw it here.  While it's not a big sweat to do this blog, it does take some forethought and effort.  I love to share - just don't make it look like you're the author of my words - OK?

Thanks so much!

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

Monday, September 12, 2011


Trying to work K6JSS/7 - Jed (AD7KG) in Utah on 20 Meters and did not have any success, even though he was 599 and loud into NJ.  Guess reciprocal propagation is not always a sure thing.  Just as the herd was thinning out a bit, Jed's signal went from 599 to about 229 in a heartbeat.  Oh, well!

I tried again on 40 Meters a little later and came oh, so close!  A bunch of us were calling and he sent a "W2??" - so can you please tell me, for the love of Pete - why do W4 stations start sending their call at that point?  I could see a W3 sending his call at that point as 2 and 3 are so close in Morse.  But sending WU4"XX" over and over and over when he's stated that he's looking for a W2?  Oy vey! - the difference is obvious!  But the squeaky wheel got the grease and the "WU4" station, who was louder than me, I guess, got heard and beat me out for the QSO.  And then a little later, when he sends a "K4B??" - why does a K4 with a suffix that starts with an "F" feel he has to start sending his call?  Oh yeah,  "-..." and ".._." - they're so close as to be twins!  Well, at least he had the call district right.

Pileup discipline is not very good these days, I guess.  Rather than get frustrated (too late), I'll just try working him another night.

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


An announcement was made on QRP-L today that Alaska has asked for a slot later in the year for K6JSS, so Utah is pinch hitting in the lineup this week.  Should be interesting to see if I can work them.  According to Jim W4QO, it looks like operations will be run by one Ham this week. I guess there aren't many Hams in Utah, let alone QRPers.  I wish him the best - it's a heavy burden to be facing a whole week alone like that.

W1PID has been out and about again!  For his latest adventure, please go to:

John AE5X has hyperlinked to .pdfs of several Heathkit catalogs on his blog.  I found that if you Google or Bing "Heathkit Catalog" you can find a few more than he has listed.  I was looking through a couple of the catalogs from the late 70s and it jogged my memory about building a few kits that I had forgotten about! These are some of the kits I had built:

HR-1680 Amateur receiver with matching speaker
Cantenna dummy load
HD-1410 keyer
HW-8 and power supply
SB-104A transceiver with matching speaker and power supply, remote VFO, station monitor and five function console
Synthesized scanner for Amateur and Public Service frequencies
LED alarm clock
Complete stereo system composed of:
Power Amp
Pre-pre-amp for moving coil cartridges
AM/FM tuner
Noise Reduction Unit

The only kit that I had a problem with was the SB-104A.  During final assembly, when I installed one of the boards, it would cause the entire radio to go dark and shut down.  After much troubleshooting and head scratching, I gave in and took the radio and boards to a (kind of) local Heathkit store.  It turned out it was one of the pre-built factory boards that had a problem.  To compensate, the Tech finished the Final Assembly (which consisted of plugging in all the daughter cards) and did a professional factory alignment, free of charge. Now that's service!

And there may be a few more kits that I still don't remember building.  That was the advantage of being young, employed and not being married at the time - lots of free time and more disposable income than now! 

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

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looks like Oregon isn't going to happen.

With only a few hours to go until K6JSS changes states, it looks like Oregon is going to become only the second state that I have not been able to work.  Who would have figured that?  Oregon has never been a problem for me until now.

However, a lack of volunteers, and a lack of propagation seems to be preventing a QSO with K6JSS/7.  There haven't been any substantial operations during the evening hours of this past week - and you can't blame the Oregon K6JSS/7 ops for that. The few ops that have volunteered have been on the air as much as they were able.  And in fact, they have been graciously accommodating in trying to work East coast QRP'ers during the evenings towards the end of the week; but the propagation just hasn't been there!  When you only have two, three or perhaps four ops trying to cover a whole week's worth of operating, you're going to run into holes and problems.

During this weekend, when they have spotted themselves on 20 Meters during the day, the signals just haven't been there, again. I am supposing that this is due to the geomagnetic event that we have been experiencing over the past few days.

Bad luck, bad propagation, bad timing - nuts!

Anyway, thanks to the Oregon ops for the many contacts they did make, even if one of them wasn't with yours truly.  Next week is Alaska's turn.  I suppose that my chances there will be equally, if not more slim.  Other than Jim AL7FS, I'm not really sure how big Alaska's QRP community is.  If he is going to bear the main brunt of the operating effort, I wish him well going into it.

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

It was a beautiful day

As I left for work, ten years ago today, I looked at the sky and noted how blue it was.  It was such a deep and beautiful blue, like you almost never see it.  And there were no clouds in the sky, it was just a pretty, spectacular, azure blue.

When I got to work (at my old job) I was in the Service Department and we had WPLJ FM on the radio as we always did, listening to the "Scott and Todd" morning show.  All of a sudden, Todd came on and announced that an airplane had struck the World Trade Center.  We all looked at one another and thought that he must have meant something like a Cessna or some other small aircraft.  There must have been some kind of mechanical trouble or perhaps the pilot had a heart attack or something like that.  We had hoped that whatever it was, that it would be taken care of quickly and professionally as things happen in New York City; and that the loss of life would be minimal.

A few minutes later, Scott Shannon came on and told how the second tower had been hit; and that both towers had been hit by commercial airliners.  We all knew right away that this was no accident; and that we were under attack.  My mind raced and thinking of the USS Cole, I blurted out to everyone that I thought this was the work of Al Qaida.

Then, a little bit later, one of the people in the front of the office started telling us how the Pentagon had been hit and was burning.  Things were now flying out of control and even though we were nowhere near being directly affected, a small sense of panic set in among everyone.  The first thing you want is the most information that you can get.  At that point, I called my wife Marianne on the telephone.  She was home, and at the time was pregnant with our daughter Cara (who would be born in four days).  I told her to turn on the TV to watch what was happening.

We had a monitor in the office conference room; but it was used for video presentations only and was not hooked up to cable or any other service.  I volunteered to make a run up the street to the local Radio Shack to get a set of "rabbit ears", so that we could keep an eye on whatever broadcast TV was showing.

As I got to the main street, which was Inman Avenue in North Edison, I could look off to the east and see dense columns of smoke rising into the air.  We're not at a vantage point to directly see the New York City skyline; but we were close enough to see the smoke plumes.  At that very moment, I distinctly remember feeling a lump in my throat and saying to myself, "So many brave firemen, police officers and EMTs are going to die today".  From my experience as an Emergency Management Volunteer, I knew that these heroes would rush into harm's way without a second thought. It's just what they do to keep the rest of us safe.

I got back to the office with the makeshift antenna; and we watched the buildings burn.  We saw images of the chaos happening at the Pentagon.  The we heard about one other plane, still out there somewhere, while all air traffic had been shut down and all commercial flights were forced to land immediately.

Then we watched, helpless, as the towers fell.  We thought immediately of friends who had relatives that worked in the towers and we all prayed that they had gotten out safely.  But as those towers fell, I had a sinking, queasy, sickening feeling in my gut - I knew there were firemen and police in those buildings, doing their utmost to save lives, and that in doing their jobs, they had committed the ultimate sacrifice.

Information was coming in fast, furious and disjointedly.  We had heard that United Flight 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania.  There were bits and pieces and unsubstantiated rumors being reported also; and we watched and listened - feeling lost and helpless.  It was apparent that nothing was going to be done at work that day, so our boss let us leave, allowing us to go home and be with our families.  It was the best salve that could be given us at that point.

I arrived home around Noon or maybe 12:30.  As I got out of my Jeep and was walking into my house, I heard the sounds of jet engines in the sky.  We live under the flight paths for Newark Liberty Airport; so this is so common as not to be noticed.  But I had remembered that all commercial air traffic was shut down.  I looked up into the sky and I saw an F-15E Strike Eagle racing across the sky, keeping the New York Metropolitan area under a watchful eye, performing Combat Air Patrol.

This video was put together by a friend and ex-coworker - Richard Andres.  He left Sinar Bron (where I was working 10 years ago) to go work for our best dealer in New York City - Foto Care.  This is what he witnessed from their vantage point on 21st Street, looking south. Thank you, Richard, for sharing and for producing this video.

Seeing that combat aircraft flying over my house was a sight that I will never forget.  At this 10th Anniversary of that horrible day, my thoughts and prayers go out to the innocent victims of Al Quida's bloody murder plot.  They also go out to all the first responders who gave their lives that day, trying to keep their fellow citizens safe.  Also, they go out to the members of our Armed Forces, those who have died in the War on Terror and the those alive who are still carrying the battle to the enemy.

May God continue to bless America.

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

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fallacies in Life

"The best things in life are free".

Sometimes, but not always. A lot of good things ARE free; but a lot of good things have to be bought and paid for.

"You get what you pay for".

Most of the times, this is true, but sometimes you get lucky and come across a bargain.

"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence".

I think everyone older than about 10 years old knows that this isn't true.

"If it's a loud signal, he must be running power - if he's running QRP, who's gonna hear him?"

Let's NOT even go there!

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

Friday, September 09, 2011

W1PID Outing

Once again, Jim W1PID treats us to a story about another one of his outdoor portable QRP adventures in beautiful New Hampshire.
This time a short video is included!

The reason I post these, is that I consider Jim to be right up there with epitome of outdoor, portable QRP Ops.  He has the experience and he gets the results.  I hope to be able to do similar things, one day.

And here's a video from another one of the other top outdoor portable QRP Ops, Steve WG0AT.  Featured prominently in the video is the object of my craving - the KX3!

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

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Drying out, possibly?

The sun came out for a while today, late this afternoon.  He's been hiding the last few days as Lee dumped on us.  Rivers and streams are swollen again, and the Raritan River has breached its banks once again.  Who knows, maybe we'll have a dry Winter?

Not much new on the radio front; but I see on some news flashes that the FBI has announced a "credible" threat from Al Queda to disrupt this coming weekend's 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  Seems some rental trucks are missing from the Kansas City area and somehow, some suspected terrorists made it into the country in August.  Seems they intend to launch a "vehicle borne bomb". 

Nice to see the intelligence gathering business seems to be working.

I know a lot of folks read this blog from all areas around the world.  There is a Ham of note in our area who could use your prayers, even though I'm sure most of you have never even heard of him.  Steve Mendelsohn W2ML, is battling pancreatic cancer.  Steve is so well known in our area, as a League official (one time ARRL Vice President), Division Director, and all around really, really nice guy.  I have met with him several times and I'll never forget, back in the 90s when the no-code license debate was raging - Steve came to a Piscataway Amateur Radio Club meeting and took the time to genuinely listen to my take on the idea.

Here's his story:

If you could keep him in your thoughts and prayers, that would be great.   If you could fire off a QSL with some encouraging words, that would be even greater.  As per QRZ, his address is:

Steve Mendelsohn W2ML
318 New Milford Avenue
Dumont, NJ  07628

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

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Raining again!

It's raining like crazy again, only one week after Hurricane Irene.  This time, were experiencing the remnants of Tropical Storm (actually, Tropical Depression) Lee.

I have found some videos on YouTube that fellow South Plainfielders posted of the flooding in our town.  This will give you a small idea of the effects of Irene on our little town.

This is what the park normally looks like:

The gazebo and flag pole to the left of the picture were completely submersed.

When we first decided to move to South Plainfield, we came VERY close to buying the house all the way at the end of the street on the right of this street:

Needless to say, I am glad we didn't!

This is, aptly named, Lakeview Avenue. The building with the big tower behind it is Boro Hall.  To the left of Boro Hall is the Rescue Squad building, where the EMS rigs were evacuated from just in time.

This video, which is the longest, was taken from Lakeview Avenue, looking TOWARDS where the other video was taken from.  Our Monument Park is under water, you can see the Rescue Squad building in the background and more footage of the rain swollen Spring Lake Park.  All the walking trails and recreational areas were under a minimum of 6 feet of water.

There are many other areas of town that were affected just as badly.  If you drive around town, you can see heaps of piles of what is now garbage that people have had to remove from their houses because of flood damage.

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

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day

The South Plainfield Labor Day parade went without a hitch this morning.  Our CERT team was out in force, relaying communications to the parade organizers, relaying changes about the line up to the parade announcers; and just helping out in general, where ever help was needed.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of line up changes to be relayed as many groups scheduled to participate, just never showed up.  I don't know of it was due to the chance of impending inclement weather or what; but it was a shame to see so many scratches and no shows.

 Me, all CERTed out!

The fireworks show for tonight has already been preempted.  I would guess that the folks responsible are going on information that heavy rain is supposed to come in at some point this evening; but right now, as of 4:00 PM, it's a bit overcast with the sun peeking through every now and then.  There are going to be a lot of disgruntled citizens if the rain holds off.  The parade and fireworks have been a Labor Day tradition in South Plainfield for over half a century now.  Folks in this town don't take too kindly to folks messing with their traditions.

The forecast for tonight through Thursday is for heavy rain, however.  The possibility for over 2 inches of rain alone tomorrow has been made known on  I certainly hope that no one's basement ends up flooding again.

Tonight, there are two QRP Sprints taking place for those who are inclined to such competitions.  The monthly Adventure Radio Society Spartan Sprint is tonight, as well as the Michigan QRP Club's Labor Day Sprint is tonight.

I noticed that my Butternut is slightly out of vertical after Irene's visit.  It's caught is some small branches of a bush that is overhanging from the neighbor's yard.  Looks like there will be some pruning this upcoming weekend (weather permitting).

Jeff KE9V has announced that he will be discontinuing blogging for a bit as he begins to work on new projects.  His "Cornbread Row" series is available for download from his site.  Jeff is an extremely talented writer.  I'll miss his posts.

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

Sunday, September 04, 2011


The most recent models show Katia bending and staying out to sea.  That is certainly good news for those areas up and down the East coast that were ravaged by Irene just last weekend.  Looking back, it is hard to believe that all that took place just a week ago.

And .... looking at Tropical Storm Lee, it looks like he's going to stay away from New Jersey, if you pay attention to Weather Underground. 

  Both maps are courtesy of Weather Underground.

If, on the other hand, you pay attention to AccuWeather, you get this forecast for Lee:

This map courtesy of AccuWeather

So .... who's right and who's wrong?  Guess I'll know come Tuesday - Wednesday of this week.  And, the other thing to keep in mind is that Hurricane season really has just begun.  It won't end until the end of November (usually). So we'll have to remain vigilant.

I spent both yesterday and today doing a lot of chores around the house.  Catching up for the past few weeks where I wasn't able to do anything because of my sprained ankle.  It feels much better and is behaving itself.  It's still a bit sore on one side, but I haven't even had to Ace Bandage it up.  While catching up on chores has been a good thing, it hasn't left me with any time for radio.

I am looking forward to QRP Afield, which is always held the third Saturday in September, and this year that's September 17th.  If Marianne is working that day (which undoubtedly she will) I may only get the opportunity to set up in the backyard.  But hey, that's better than nothing, and I am excited about the last big outdoor QRP event for the Summer 2011 season.

One of these Saturdays, I also want to take my high school and college rings to the local gold exchange to see what I can get for them.  I never wear them and I think that they will provide a good starting point for KX3 funds.

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

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Oh crap !!!

Pardon my language!

Just got back from helping to decorate the Labor Day Parade float for Holy Savior Academy, where my kids go to school.  I decided to sit down and check out e-mail before going outside to mow the lawn.

I wandered over to the National Hurricane Center to check on Katia.  If she doesn't significantly change course, as of right now, New Jersey could be in the cross hairs late next week. In fact, New Jersey could be in the DOUBLE cross hairs next week!  If you look at the tracks for both Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia, there is a distinct possibility that New Jersey could be hit with a one-two punch late next week.

We still have about 30,000 or so people in New Jersey without power since LAST weekend.  Lord knows what will happen this time.  In any event, we'll be ready.  When I go grocery shopping later today; I am going to stock up on water, batteries and some canned stuff so that I'm not fighting the hoards at the last minute.

I don't remember getting hit with two hurricanes in one season in a very, very long time.  I think I was about twelve years old the last time that happened.  And the memories of that are spending all my time in my parent's house basement, helping my Mom and Dad pick up water from the basement floor as fast as we were able.

Such is how these things go - cycles.  This has happened before and will happen again.  I think they're going to find out someday how this is all harmonious - sunspots, weather, etc, etc.

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

Friday, September 02, 2011

New kit alert!

QRP-L is a buzz today with a new offering from Hendricks QRP Kits.  This new one is called the Hendricks 40 - 15 Meters SOTA Halfwave Tuner.  As you may be able to guess, it's a tuner for End Fed Halfwave wire antennas.  Designed with portable ops, such as Summits On The Air, in mind.

Of course, QRP-L is abuzz, not so much with the news of a new kit; but more as to whether this new product can truly considered to be an End Fed Halwave Tuner.  Doug's new kit has two connections, one for the wire and one for a counterpoise.  The purists are maintaining that a true End Fed Halfwave Tuner would not have a connection for a counterpoise.

I don't have a dog in this fight; so I won't offer my two cents regarding that issue.  However, any product which makes it easy to get on the air while attempting portable ops, instead of fussing with settings and other details is all right in my book!  Like I've said so many times before, for me at least, the fun part of operating outdoors is to see how many contacts I can make - not how many minutes I can spend setting up.  The faster I am on the air, the better!  And I have found that a hunk o' wire thrown up a tree, with a counterpoise leading off the tuner is quick, easy and down and dirty.  Much better than other options which are out there.

I have been spending a bit of time over at the Discovery News Storm Tracking site, keeping an eye on Katia.  The Discovery News site has a feature which allows you to keep track of possible storm paths.  It's way too early to tell as of today; but I am hoping that Katia does NOT follow the same path as Irene.

I received an e-mail from our Director of Emergency Management this week; and there have been letters in the local town paper today from the Mayor and one of the Council members, thanking all the responders for our turn out last weekend.  No thanks are necessary, as we do this kind of thing because we want to, not because we have to. But with that said, it's still nice to know our efforts are seen and appreciated.

I hope everyone in the US has a happy Labor Day Weekend this weekend.  Monday is the town's parade in the morning and the town's annual fireworks display at night - South Plainfield's "good-bye" to Summer.  I will be with my CERT team providing assistance to the town during both events.

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