Monday, October 31, 2011

Don't that beat all ?!?

The Zombie Shuffle for 2011 is history.  Tonight, 20 Meters has a noise level of 1 bar on the K2 and the noise level on 40 Meters is about 2 bars.  The complete and total opposite of last night.

Of course! (Darn mask must have scared away the noise!)

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

CQ Boo disappointment

I sit here typing this, the K2 is spitting out a string of "CQ Boos" for the Zombie Shuffle. It appears that I am going to be confined to 80 Meters tonight as the "local neighborhood QRN" has kicked in and I'm getting 10 over S9 noise on both 40 and 20 Meters.  So far, since local sunset, I have had a sum total of 7 QSOs.  Not exactly how I thought it was going to go.

But the highlight was working two exceptional friends among the six that I had the privilege to work. First, fellow Polar Bear and good friend WA8REI who was operating portable in Michigan.  It's always nice to hook up with Ken, who has a superb fist.  And I was happy that I was able to wish him a "Happy Bearthday" which occurred yesterday for him. Then I was able to work Jim W1PID who always has a superb signal into NJ.  It's hard to imagine that 5 Watts can sound so loud!  I will have to record Jim's signal one of these days so I can have some ammo for the guys who INSIST that QRP signals are necessarily weak

There was a new wrinkle added to the Shuffle this year, you had to send, as part of the exchange, how many years you've been licensed.  This year makes 33 for W2LJ. It's been interesting to hear just exactly how long some of my friends have been licensed.  Even with 33 years under my belt, I feel like a Newbie compared to some of them!

At the very end of my session, I did manage a single, solitary QSO on 40 Meters with Jim W4QO.  It was only due the fact that he was 599 +++ into NJ.  Here's some video/audio that I recorded after our QSO.  This will give you and idea of the noise levels that I sometimes get here on 40 Meters.

.Oh, by the way, here's a self portrait if the Zombie behind the key!

Ain't he handsome?

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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Fright

So far, power has only been out twice and for a few seconds at a time. Antennas are still OK, except the the one End Fed Zepp (which I hardly ever use) is drooping a lot.

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

AA7EE = good job

Dave AA7EE, fellow QRPer and blogger writes about how a member of the T32C DXpedition team read his blog and commented on their 80 Meter QSO.  Good job on both ends, IMHO, and his blog entry is definitely worth the read.

A fantastic job was done by the T32C team - and as far as I am concerned they have lifted the bar for DXpedition operations.  I am afraid that in my own mind at least, that it was their effort that I will use as a comparison for other DXpeditions that I encounter in the future.

And a really fantastic job by Dave, too.  He is currently in possession of three monoband rigs, a NorCal 2N2/40, a Ft. Tuthill 80, and an NT7S CC-20.  He made contacts with T32C with each rig, each time using less than the "QRP Full Gallon" of 5 Watts.

A decent antenna and a good QRP operator on one end and a utterly superb DXpedition team with fantastic ears on the other end made for a "once in a lifetime" memory.  These are the things that you fondly and warmly remember, even after many, many years behind the dial.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I am happy to say that Maryland is in the log after a very nice QSO tonight with Mike W3MC who was behind the key as K6JSS/3.  Mike was kindly enough to meet me on 80 Meters, where he was very loud.  Mike was running his K3 at only 5 Watts (of course) but his open wire fed dipole resides at a lofty 90 feet up!  That is truly amazing.  I have a tough time imagining having trees that tall in my backyard.

I was looking at the AccuWeather forecast for the upcoming weekend,  and I see where my part of New Jersey stands to get 1 - 3 inches of snow on Saturday into Saturday night.  I haven't finished the leaves or put the glass in the storm doors yet!  What's going on?

The only good thing about this time of year is that 80 Meters comes back into play.  80 Meters is one of my favorite bands and it's nice to be able to hang out there.  I always seem to have a relatively low noise floor on 80 Meters during the months when darkness comes early.  Even when 40 Meters succumbs to that weird and unpredictable neighborhood QRN, 80 Meters remains relatively free and provides refuge.

And it IS very noticeable that it is getting dark early.  By the time I finish my commute home from work, the sun has already set.  In another week, that will be happening even quicker with the change back to Standard time - I will probably be leaving work in the darkness.

I hate to rush time; but the sooner Winter comes and goes, the sooner Spring will get here.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zombie confusion

I see several guys on the various QRP e-mail reflectors asking if anyone plans to participate in the Zombie Shuffle this Friday night.

Guys ..... it has been moved this year!

As per Paul NA5N:


No, I have not forgotten about the Zombie Shuffle. It has been distressing trying to figure out how to work it around all the contests at the end of October and first of November. After some email suggestions, and asking a few regular participants, and the fact that Halloween is on Monday night this year, we have decided that this year's Zombie Shuffle will be held on: SUNDAY NITE, OCTOBER 30.

Traditionally, the Zombie Shuffle started out as a "Friday Night Special," and held on the Friday night before Halloween, but never Halloween. The past few years, we've been slammed by the CQ World Wide DX Contest, which begins Friday evening. At least for this year, we will try Sunday night to avoid CQWW and not interfere with family plans for Halloween Monday night.

Hopefully, most of you will find this convenient and fun with more open bands and far less QRM. I apologize to those of you who will find Sunday evening inconvenient.

I hope to get the rules published and posted this weekend.

72, Paul NA5N 

So there you have it from The Source - the Zombie Shuffle is this coming Sunday night - not Friday!

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween fun

I saw this linked on the "As The World Turns" Website and had to share. I'm not a big fan of Halloween; but this is cool!

Don't forget - this coming Sunday is the Zombie Shuffle - not this Friday.  W2LJ is Zombie # 858, so keep a ghoulish ear open for me.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stark difference

I didn't get much time on the air today; but I did hear both T32C and TX7M on the bands.

Wow!  What a difference in operating philosophy.  T32C was still pounding away at what - maybe 23 WPM, and sending their call after each and every contact.  You definitely knew who it was that you were chasing. The other thing I noticed during my various QSOs with T32C was that they also rang true when they sent "T32C UP 1" or "T32C UP 2".  I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet that helped to keep down the massive sprawl that occurs in and around these DXpedition frequencies.

TX7M, on the other hand, was sending probably at a speed of about 25 - 26 WPM (very copyable) and was sending their call only every now and then.  I was hearing something more like, "OM3XYZ TU 73 UP".

Different strokes for different folks, I guess; but the impression I received was that the T32C experience was less frenetic, and more "in control".  Perhaps a bit more polished and definitely less pandemonium. YMMV.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Holy Flea Power, Batman!

I turned on 17 Meters tonight, hoping to hear K6JSS/KL7 from Alaska on.  In all honesty, the band is quiet but once again, T32C is there loud as a bell.  In fact, the op was working simplex - not split, and he wasn't getting many takers at all.  15 - 20 CQs between callers?  You can tell this DXpedition is coming near an end.  I'm sure the team has to be ecstatic with the job they have done.

So, I decided to try something.  I cranked the power on down to 900 milliWatts and put out my call.  They came back to me first shot!

Just who is on this DXpedition anyway ..... Steve Austin with his bionic ears?  I figured I was going to give it a max of about three tries; AND if he came back with only a W2?? or a W2L??, I would not strain their ears any further with my somewhat selfish experiment.  But there it was, first try and full call.  That's over 6,000 miles per Watt.  And yes, all the credit goes to the wonderfully amazing ops at T32C.

BTW, equipment here was the K2 to the Butternut HF9V.

This QRP and radio stuff continues to delight me!

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Internal Debate

Last night, I saw K6JSS/KL7 on QRPSPOTS at 24.906 MHZ.  I ran down the basement and heard Jim AL7FS in conversation with a Japanese station.  Jim was a realistic 329, maybe 429 at peaks and the JA station had a lot of polar flutter on his signal.  It was great to hear not only Jim, but also the JA stations he was working.  It makes me think that there maybe hope that I will be able to get K6JSS/KL7 in the log this week.

I see that Wayne NK6R mentioned that orders for the KX3 MIGHT be taken in November or December; however no delivery time was mentioned and I doubt it will be immediately. I have come to the conclusion that I will not be in that initial round of folks putting in orders.  It's going to take me quite a while to save and sell off items (i.e "fund raise") in order to have enough money to make this purchase.  I really, really want one; but "common sense" keeps kicking in.  You know, the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I have a K1 and a K2 and a PFR3A.  Just how many radios do I need, anyway?  Realistically, the K1 and PFR3A are my portables and I can only use one at a time as it is.  And yes, I know I can sell them and put the cash towards the KX3; but I still have MAJOR regrets on having sold my HW8 so many years ago.  I have a real hard time parting with gear that I built myself.

Having a full time job (Thank the Lord!) and a wife and two young kids plus a house, my portable operations time is severely limited as it is.  To purchase a KX3 so that I could use it a handful of times a year out on the trail - does that even make sense?  Does it need to make sense?  Also, as much as I would like a K3, my life is fine without one.  There are Hams out there with a lot less, who would kill for what I already have. Maybe I just need to grow up, be happy with what I have and not even think about it.. 

It doesn't help to keep looking at that picture up top!

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

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kudos to CQ Magazine

What?!?  Wasn't he complainin' about having to pay for WorldRadio just week or two ago?!?

Yes, I was - but when credit is due, credit is due.  I received the newest issue of CQ on Wednesday and didn't have time to go through it until yesterday, while I was sitting and waiting while having the Jeep's oil changed and tires rotated (for free!).  This issue is devoted to Emergency Communications, and while I know a lot of you could probably not care less about that, it was a wonderful read, anyway.  This issue is a good weapon to have in your back pocket the next time you get hit with that "Amateur Radio is obsolete and has outlived its usefulness" lie.

And, as if THAT wasn't enough, there were two fantastic columns - one on building by Joe KØNEB and the other on QRP by Cam N6GA. These guys write so well, that I wish they had columns every month!  But that's a terrible burden to place on them as I know how difficult it is to come up with original material for a monthly column. (Correction: Joe DOES write a column each and every month - sorry for my error, Joe!)

The new issue of QST, received the same day, did not capture my attention like CQ did.  Although the article on homebrewing a DSP speaker is appealing.  But Rich Moseson W2VU does come up with a superior publication month after month - and I will probably let the moths out of my wallet and will sign up for the "new" WorldRadio".  BTW, just so we're clear on this - I don't work for CQ or any of its affiliate publications. I'm just a satisfied (most of the time) customer.

Unfortunately, I have not been on the air at all this weekend.  With the arrival of Autumn, and the leaves on the ground and the wet weather we have been having this past week, my leaf mold allergy has kicked in big time.  I don't feel ghastly (yet) but I don't feel like myself, either and sitting behind the radio just isn't as appealing as it normally is.  That, and like John K3WWP, I think I have a kidney stone on the move, too.  Maybe later today, I can hand out some points in the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party.

I have been looking at more cases for the PFR3A and am also considering this one.

I like the fact that I can get it in yellow and that would match the PFR3A.

For those of you who like to participate in the Zombie Shuffle, Paul Harden NA5N has indicated that it will be held this year on Sunday night, right before Halloween. This should avoid conflict with the CQ WW DX Contest which begins that Friday night.

Lastly, for those of you who like to operate QRO, take a look at this.  THIS is a QRO station !!!!

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New housing for my PFR-3A

When I built my PFR-3A and applied the decals, I sprayed the housing with a clear coat of Polyurethane in order to protects said decals.  Unfortunately, in my haste to use the radio, I didn't let that clear coat dry for as long as I should have.  I thought a few days was enough; but apparently it wasn't.

As a result, when I stowed the radio away in my rucksack, something else came in contact with the housing and left a rather unsightly mark.  This mark isn't just on the surface, it is into the urethane.  It didn't disturb the yellow paint, it just left an unsightly scuff in the overcoat. When I run my finger over the scuff, it feels like a gouge. I am enough of a perfectionist and enough of a "Type A" personality where that really, really bugs me.  I take great care (or thought I did) to make sure my equipment doesn't get beat up.  My K1 on the other hand looks mint, and I built that back in 2003.

So I contacted Doug at Hendricks QRPKits and sprung (sprang?) for a new housing, which arrived today.  I will apply the decals; but I think instead of applying clear coat, I will buy one of those Pelican type cases with the form fitting foam and will make that the PFR-3A's new home.  I believe it has been mentioned on QRP-L that inexpensive knock offs of those Pelican style cases are available at Wal-Mart.

And then, there's this:

This would work and the price isn't bad at all.  Any suggestions out there?

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Simple pleasures

One of the best things in Amateur Radio (outside of working a "new one") is just having a nice, simple, unhurried and relaxed QSO.  I was fortunate enough to hook up with Milt WA4FNG on 20 Meters tonight and to have one of those (kind of).

Courtesy of WA4FNG and QRZ

I called CQ on 14.062 MHz, and Milt answered my call with a very nice 589 signal (Imagine that - a 589 QRP signal!).  Milt was using his TenTec Corsair 2 - pumping a full QRP kilowatt of 5 Watts into a dipole at 60'.  Wow!  I wish I had some trees in my backyard that were 60' tall.

Milt's call was instantly familiar and a quick check into the log revealed that I had worked him in a couple of QRP-ARCI Sprints as well as handing him New Jersey for K6JSS/2 back in August.  But we never had a ragchew.  And we were on the verge of that this evening, but the band had other ideas. So while we were still copy-able to each other, we decided to call it quits.  Discretion being the better part of valor, I guess.  That was a shame, as I would have really enjoyed a longer QSO with Milt; but that's something that I can still look forward to at some other time.

Speaking of QRP ARCI Sprints ........ keep in mind the QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party is this coming weekend.  Not a Sprint by any means, but a very fun event that can be as serious or as relaxed as you want it to be.  I look forward to these - a lot!

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Like a moth to a flame

I admit, sometimes I see things on e-Ham and I get drawn into the fray.  Not often, but if I see something that I feel strongly about, I will say something. I really shouldn't, and should stay out of the argument, but like the title says ..........

My grandfather (my Mom's father) once told me when I was young, "If you get into an argument and you're not sure of yourself, it's better to keep your mouth shut.  But by the same token, if you're right AND you know you're right - don't be afraid to speak your mind".  That advice raged through my mind as I read the following, entitled "Dust Off the Old Amplifier' by Mike Higgins K6AER:

"I know the conventional wisdom is if you can’t hear them you can’t work them but there is a corollary to that saying and it is; ”If they can’t hear you they won’t call you.” This is a call for those of you who own an amplifier to use them when you call CQ. For those of you that have never tried to call CQ, CQ is what you do when you don’t hang around a net all day to make a contact. It is more honest than asking for a radio check.

At this point I expect the replays descend into a class warfare battle between the QRO crowd and the QRP minimalist group. Let’s skip the replays who have worked 100 countries with 5 watts for even a blind squirrel will find an acorn if they look long enough."

Skipping the rest.

Now, before I begin my rant, I want to state, for the fact, now and forever, that I do not have anything against people who choose to operate QRO.  For me, QRP is a fun choice, and I have no need or desire to force it upon anyone else.  For that matter, Amateur Radio is a big enough hobby for everyone, whatever mode, style of operating that they choose.  My motto is, "As long as it's legal and within the rules, and it's not interfering with your fellow Hams - knock yourself out"

But I have to admit that I was really irked by the "At this point I expect the replays descend into a class warfare battle between the QRO crowd and the QRP minimalist group. Let’s skip the replays who have worked 100 countries with 5 watts for even a blind squirrel will find an acorn if they look long enough."

In my humble opinion, that statement showed a true lack of practical knowledge on the part of the author. Wouldn't it have been better to have written (perhaps) "At this point I expect the replies to descend into a class warfare battle between the QRO crowd and the QRP minimalist group. Let’s skip the replies from those who have worked 100 countries with 5 watts, for this article's intended audience is folks who have amplifiers and don't mind using them".

Unfortunately, the original paragraph resulted in exactly what the author desired to avoid.  Personally, however, considering the words he chose to use, I'm not so sure that he intended to avoid a "class warfare battle".  And of course the arguments devolved into the classic "Everybody knows that it's always the receiving station that does the heavy lifting in a QSO with a QRPer".

I hate that! I have had my eardrums blown out repeatedly by W1PID, N4BP, N9NE (at 1 Watt!) and countless others to know that this argument is utter BS.  Yes, there are times when QRP signals are so weak that even I wonder how they can be copied at all.  But this is NOT the rule.  It might not be the exception, either; but it's not a hard and fast rule.  Received signal strength is due to a multiple of variables. While output power may be an important one, it's not the ONLY one!  Antennas, propagation, band conditions all play into the equation.

The best response I saw, was from a person who identified himself a STRAIGHTKEY:

"And likewise, even an unskilled squirrel can crack any nut by purchasing and operating a steamroller.

Congratulations on condemning class warfare and then turning around and engaging in it yourself."

A bit snarky perhaps?  Yes, but it was straight and to point, and I wish I had thought of it.  I might not have posted it that way, but it is what I was thinking.

Anyway, a very sincere 73 to ALL Amateur Radio ops, everywhere!

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

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Another good day here.

Indian Summer is here!  For those of you readers who are not familiar with the term, Indian Summer is a warm spell that occurs in mid to late October, after the first frost of the season.  We had our first frost earlier this week, when the temps dropped into the 30s overnight.  Not a hard frost; but there was evidence of some hoarfrost on the grass one morning earlier last week.  This was followed by yesterday, where the high was in the upper 70s (25C) and today where the high was about 83F (28C).  Tomorrow is supposed to be just as warm and then I believe it is to cool down for the rest of the week.

The family and I spent a good part of the day today, picking apples and pumpkins at a farm in East Brunswick, the town where I grew up.  While most of the town is developed and suburban, there are big parts that are still rural.  This hearkens back to my very young days when East Brunswick was about 75% rural and farms.  Now that is probably closer to about 10 or 15%.  Anyway, in all we picked about 20 pounds (10 kilos) worth of apples and maybe about 40 pounds (20 kilos) in three large pumpkins.

When I got home, I managed to get some "on the air" time before dinner.  I worked T32C on 12 Meters for a third band.  The more I listen to that team operate the more and more impressed I am with them.  I can only relate about the CW side of things, but they identify after EVERY transmission which is great!  No guessing who's on the air here.  They work at a good clip; but they are not overwhelming with the code speed.  It's about 23 WPM which is very comfortable for me.  And they just seem to be super organized.  They are doing superb considering that. according to their press briefings, their main shipment container of gear never made it to the island.

After working T32C, I hopped on down to 20 Meters and worked Dick K2UFT who was on the air as N4V, a special event commemorating the Vibroplex keys that were made in Norcross, GA for a time.  Dick was really slick on the bug, it was a joy to work him.  And I was totally unaware of this special event, so it was good to run into him, as he explained for me what was going on.  I feel a bit embarrassed by that, as I try to stay on top of these kind of things so that I can pass them on to you all.  But Dick was a very gracious tutor and I always love working special events.  There are so many that never make an effort to put a CW station on the air - I was so glad to find this one.

Lastly, I was able to end the day by working N4BP on 20 Meters as K6JSS/4 from Florida.  I had horrid local QRN on 20 Meters this evening; but Bob's signal was so strong that it rose above the noise like it wasn't even there.  It's nice to get a K6JSS station in the log so early on in the week.

Here's hoping that these good band conditions last for a while!

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

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Good day despite antenna woes

After finishing with the lawn; I decided to try test the Butternut to see which bands are affected by that snapped wire.  The good news is that 10 Meters seems to be the only band that is wonky.  SWR is good on all the rest of the bands; but the best match I can get on 10 Meters is about 2:1. The internal tuner of the K2 has a fit getting there.  So next weekend, I will make like an antenna surgeon and will get that fixed.

I managed to work T32C on 10 Meters this afternoon using the 88 ft EDZ - so worse comes to worse, I have something for 10 Meters that works well.  Hey, any wire that will get 5 Watts from New Jersey to the middle of the Pacific Ocean is nothing to sneeze at.

I worked OX3XR on 12 Meters with the Butternut this afternoon and got an honest 579.  I absolutely love it when I get a "real" RST report from a DX station and not just the rubber stamped "599".  At least it gives me a decent idea as to how I'm really being heard.

In the evening, tuning around the bands, I saw that 30 Meters was decent for the second night in a row regarding background QRN.  No buzz saw, so I decided to call CQ.  I was answered by Terry W9UX and we had a bit of a chat.

Courtesy of QRZ

I had worked Terry back in August as K6JSS/2 - it was nice to chat for a bit instead of just a basic exchange.  And anytime you can work a real nice fist like Terry has, that's even more of a special treat. He'll be operating in the NAQCC Anniversary Special Event later on this week; so keep an ear out for him as N9A.  In fact, all 10 call districts will be activated as "N#A", so keep an ear open for all of them. They will be active from October 10th to the 15th and your best be will probably be around the standard QRP frequencies.

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

Oh Snap!

That's what my kids say instead of "Oh, Darn" or "Oh, Heck" or worse.

That's what I said while working on the Butternut HF9V this afternoon.  Currently, I am taking a breather between mowing the front and back yards.  Before starting the front yard, I got the limb pruner out to take care of a branch in the back yard that is overgrowth from my neighbor.  It had pushed my Butternut out from vertical and was causing it to lean a bit to the right.

I removed the offending branch; but now that the leaves are out of the way, I noticed that the wire radiator had snapped.  Probably during some wind, the branch just plucked it until it broke and I never noticed it until the foliage was cleared away.

I still have to mow the back yard (among other things) so there is no time to fix it today, and tomorrow is booked as family time.  This will have to wait until next weekend (God willing me good weather).  The plan as it stands, is to remove the top half of the antenna (one screw and nut), bring it down, repair or replace the wire and then return things to normal.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Yeah ...... right !!!!!!

I have to get this done before bad (and cold) weather sets in as the Butternut, more often than not, is my radiator of choice.

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

Friday, October 07, 2011


I tooled around the bands this evening, listening for T32C on some frequency other than one in the 17 Meter band; but had not much luck.  As I was switching bands, I noticed that for some reason, 30 Meters seemed less noisy than normal for me.  And by that, I don't mean a lack of signals, I mean less background noise.  For whatever reason, it seems that most nights, 30 Meters has an S5 to S7 noise floor around here. Tonight that was not the case.

I heard a station calling "CQ DX" that was so loud (599 +++, lit up all the LEDs on my K2) that I was certain that it had to be a Stateside station looking for DX.  I was wrong. It was Oleg US7UX who is near Kiev, in the Ukraine.  Not one to pass up working a DX station, I threw out my call and got an immediate answer.  I wanted Oleg to know how loud he was and got a "TNX FOR 599 PLUS" for my efforts.  And in turn, I received a 599 report back.  Now normally, I would have said to myself, "Yeah, right!",  but from listening to Oleg handle other stations, he was giving out actual RSTs. I heard some stations get 559 and 579 and even a 449 report - so the 599 made me feel pretty good.  Just goes to show that when band conditions are right, even a 5 Watt station can be heard well.

I certainly hope that Oleg is as loud later this month when he is on DXpedition to the Marquesas Islands as TX7M.  And now it makes perfect sense as to why he was working everyone in such rapid fire succession - he's getting in some practice before his trip.

Marquesas, Christmas Island ..... dreaming of DXpeditions.  Reminds me of the adventures I used to dream about in my Novice days.

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

Thursday, October 06, 2011


now belongs to an op in Massachusetts.  But in the greater Northeastern part of the US, K2ORS will always be Jean Shepherd.  (Sorry Warren, no offense intended).

Anyone who has watched the movie "A Christmas Story" ("You'll shoot your eye out, Kid") knows Jean Shepherd, as he was the creator of that story.  But to a lot of us "baby-boomers" we know Jean Shepherd from his nightly radio show on WOR in New York City.  Many of us would sneak a portable transistor radio under our pillows, so that we could listen to his hilarious stories about school, life in the military and his famous stories about fireworks and the 4th of July as he was growing up.

Every now and then, he would talk about being a Ham and his experiences as being a "kid" Ham growing up in Hammond, Indiana.  Here's one of them:

There was a Website that someone referred me to once, where I was able to listen to his story about the time lightning struck his antenna and all the havoc that caused (including moving out of a rental house in the middle fof the night!).  Hilarious.

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

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel

For those of you around my age and older, that phrase that I used for my title should be familiar to you.  For you young-uns, I will explain.

Back in the late 60s, WABC aired a weekly Batman television show.  Actually, it was on two nights a week - Tuesday and Wednesday nights if I remember correctly.  Anyway, it was done as a serial, like the old movies. The adventure that was started on Tuesday was continued and finished the next night.  The announcer would always exhort watchers at the end of the first show, "Tune in tomorrow. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel".

And so it went for me with T32C.  Second night, same band and approximately the same time.  But this time my signal was QRP and this time the Butternut HF9V did get the job done! (BTW, that works out to approximately 1,155 miles per Watt)

Kudos to the superb ops out there.  I have seen that many QRPers are getting them; and I even heard tonight's op come back to a W1 station that signed /QRP.  That seemed to get his attention; but on the whole I don't recommend signing /QRP when working DX.  The faster you make your call heard, the better the chance of being worked.  I guess there are always exceptions to the rule, though. YMMV.

Good luck to all of you out there - you have three weeks to get your signal to them.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Some Stateside success

All right!

I got to keep the K6JSS effort going by successfully working K6JSS/1 out of Rhode Island tonight.  For those who actively work towards their WAS awards, working Rhode Island is almost as good a prize as East Kiribati!  It's not often you hear "Lil' Rhody" on the air; so it was a treat to work the steady fist of Randy K8FZJ to get RI in the log.

Randy posted on QRPSPOTS that he was on 40 Meters and I was listening for him.  I heard Dan KB6NU working him. Dan just about blew my eardrums out with this 599+ signal, but nothing was heard of Randy.

When Randy later posted on QRPSPOTS that he was going to be on 80 Meters for a bit, I bounded down to the basement faster than Santa's reindeer.  And it was Christmas in October as I worked Randy on the first shot - and yes, I did remember to turn the power back down to 5 Watts - thank you very much.

T32C and Rhode Island in one night - two rare ones (one close, one not) in one evening.  I love this Ham Radio stuff!

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

Got T32C - but ..........

I must confess, it was not QRP.  I had to crank up the K2 to 10 Watts to make the QSO, so I will not be counting this QSO towards my tally of countries worked via QRP.  He was calling CQ and not getting many takers - and at 5 Watts he just wasn't hearing me.  Since East Kiribati is a totally new entity for me, how could I not turn up the juice?!?  At any rate, I nabbed him; and I'm glad I did.  There will be time yet to try again; but with 5 Watts next time.

It was 17 Meters, they were transmitting on 18.072 MHz and listening up 1.  Even with 10 Watts this was no mean feat.  They were NOT 599 when we QSOed. If I were to be honest, I'd have to say more like 569 - so you can imagine what I must have (not) sounded like on their end.

I had to repeat my call several times as he had me as W2DJ - but after two more sendings of my call, the op came back and confirmed W2LJ.  Superb ears out there in the Pacific!

At any rate, they will be out there for three more weeks; so maybe 10 Meters might be conducive to a true QRP QSO sometime this weekend.

The only other thing that was strange ..... I worked him using the 88' EDZ antenna. Usually, for DX, the Butternut HF9V is the weapon of choice.  But when switching between the two, I was able to hear him much better using the EDZ and ended up using it for both transmit and receive.

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

Monday, October 03, 2011


I am a big fan of other Ham's good writing about Amateur Radio, particularly good short stories, essays, etc.

One of the best wordsmiths in our hobby is Jeff KE9V (I think the other top wordsmith would have to be Don N4KC).  For your reading pleasure, Jeff has posted some of his work here:

Go down to the bottom section that is entitled "Words" and enjoy!

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

Saturday, October 01, 2011


I finally got my butt down into the basement to melt some solder Saturday night.  I elected to build the HamCan transceiver that was offered by the Four State QRP Group that I had bought when they first came out; but never assembled.

The instructions were quite clear and easy to follow.  This could easily be a first time builder's kit.  The first step, as per the instructions, was to wind the toroids. There were only three.

That's L1, L2 and T1 from left to right.  L1 was 22 turns of 26 gauge wire.  L2 was 11 turns of 22 gauge wire.  T1 was 11 turns each of 26 and 22 gauge wire - wound so that one wire lays interspersed to the side of the other.

Then came the installation of the discreet components.  Everything in this kit is through hole, which makes it ideal for beginners.

All that took no more than about an hour, and this is what the semi-finished product looks like:

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, and look just to the upper left hand corner of the left side phone jack, you will see that I soldered in two machined pins that I cut out of a DIP socket.  This is for the crystal; and will allow me to change crystals easily in the future.

I still have to solder in the 9V battery connector and I'll have to make up an antenna jumper cable as the antenna connector is an RCA connector.  I haven't used one of those babies as an antenna connector since my Heathkit days.  But you know what?  It was good enough back then, so it's good enough now.

Tomorrow afternoon or evening, I'll try to get it on the air and see if I can make any contacts.  It will be interesting to see how much power this lil' guy puts out.  Oh, I have to remember to put the heat sink on the final before I do any of that.

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