Thursday, March 29, 2012

Whetting my appetite

The weather has been phenomenal this winter, as you all know.  Due to Arctic air staying way up north, we've had one of the warmer Winters that we've had in a while.  Who would've thought last Halloween, when we had that early snow, that Winter was going to turn out the way it did?

The early warmth and early blooming and budding is playing havoc with my head, though.  My nose is all stopped up and my eyes are itchy and watery.  Allergies are no fun; but this too shall pass.

So when my friend Rem K6BBQ posted about another video from last year, it's gotten me all torqued up for portable operating for this coming Spring and Summer outdoor operating season.  Shorts and T-shirt weather may not be immediately imminent; but I dare say it's closer than father away!

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not a happy coincidence

Through a post on the nogaqrp e-mail reflector, I learned from Jim W4QO that the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party will be the weekend of April 7th and 8th.

Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday - Ouch with a capital "O".

Sunday participation will be just about impossible.  I am not totally sure at this moment in time, but we usually spend the day with Marianne's brother and his wife.  There may be a chance for an hour or two between Sunday morning Church services and leaving for there.

Saturday is going to be extremely hard also, as that is Holy Saturday which is generally a busy day at our household.  Maybe, if I am lucky, an hour or two in the late afternoon.

I am going to have to really try to mazimize my QSO rate for the miniscule amount of time that I will be on the air.

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Great idea!

I try very hard not to needlessly duplicate the offerings of my fellow bloggers. However, I caught Chris KQ2RP's post and felt that it needed amplification (pun intended).

Rex Harper W1REX, member of the QRP Hall of Fame and primary owner/operator of QRPme has come up with a great idea - the "QRP Kit of the Month Club".

This is such a cool idea!  Personally, I think it's one of the best unexpected gifts a QRPer could find himself being on the receiving end of. Wow - bad sentence, but you know what I mean.  :)

I'd much rather receive a QRP kit every month rather than a piece of fruit, or a cheese ball, or a beef log, or a jar of jam or jelly.  You can opt into different subscription plans; but for the full boat of 12 months, it works out to 12 kits at $15 a clip - not bad at all.  I know that sounds like a lot, but it really isn't when you think of how it breaks down.

Kudos to Rex for coming up with an innovative idea!  It will be interesting to see if any QRPers are gifted this way.  I may have to start leaving some obvious hints myself, starting this coming October and November.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Four State QRP Group hits a home run!

This sounds like a great kit at a fantastic price, for what you'll be getting!

Dubbed the QRPometer during development, this useful accessory is a highly accurate and easy to use power and swr indicating meter. Unusual in any pwer meter, the range of accurate power measurement extends down to a low 100 milliwatts. It has a large digital display and boasts an accuracy level that few, if any, similar meters on the market can match. A unique design feature is that 2 circuit boards are included in the kit, they form the front and back of the enclosure. The boards are shiny black so there is no need to buy, build, or paint an enclosure.

This kit was conceived to fill a need within the hobby for an inexpensive, highly accurate VSWR and RF power meter for QRP power levels. The QRPometer uses simple analog signal-processing circuitry to provide a set of essential measurement features not previously available in a single unit. High quality, double sided, printed circuit board construction is used, with solder mask and silk screened component reference designators. All components are through-hole for easy assembly. NO toroids are required. All controls and jacks are PCB mounted, and a single, four conductor ribbon cable is the only wiring necessary. The QRPometer can be constructed by beginners as well as experienced builders. Construction time is approximately 3 hours, depending on experience level. The only equipment required for calibration of the QRPometer is a digital voltmeter, and a QRP transmitter.

First time builders please note: This kit is not difficult to build. All parts are thru hole parts, there are NO SMT parts. The parts are wide spaced on the board making installation easy, and all connectors are board mounted which eliminates point to point wiring. Also note that there are No TOROIDS to wind - none.

Specifications and Design Features
Power Range: 100 mW to 10 Watts
Accuracy: Power, 2% Typical
VSWR, 5% Typical
Large Digital Display The digits are .52" in height.
Sensitivity: Direct readout on 3 1/2 digit LCD display. Minimum resolution 10 mW.
Enclosure: Silk Screened PC boards create the enclosure, no need to purchase one.
No Toroids: There are no toroids in this kit.

The price?  Only $50.00 (US).  Wow!

For all the details; and to order .........

Please note that I am not a member of the 4 State QRP Group and have no "interest" in this kit, other than seeing great stuff get into the hands of my fellow QRPers!

72 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Living vicariously

through Jim W1PID and another lovely sunny day in New Hampshire.

The weather was lovely here too; but time constraints at work have prevented me from getting to the car at lunchtime.  As the warm weather is supposed to last for a bit, maybe I'll be able to over the next few days. The PFR3A, Buddistick/magmount combo patiently await me.

Tonight is the final 80 Meter QRP Foxhunt for the 2011/2012 season.  It's hard to believe that it has gone by so fast.  Before you know it, the 20 Meter Summer season will begin.  Maybe I'll have my KX3 by then!

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last day of Winter

Spring officially begins in about 5 hours from right now.  But the weather here today had to be record breaking, or darn near close to it.  As I left work today, for the drive home at 5:00 PM, it was 77F (25C) - on March 19th!

The extended forecast for the next week is informing us that daytime high temperatures will be in the upper 60's and into the 70s' and that on Thursday, we may even break 80F (27C).

I was telling Bob W3BBO during our weekly Echolink chat the other day, that we will probably pay for this with a Memorial Day holiday weekend in the 50s (13C).

Ah yes, W2LJ is ever the optimist!

On a radio note, I tried getting on the bands a few times over the weekend only to hear not much of anything.  The bands seemed to be dead for me.  BUT ..... the bands have been real good for my friend Jim W4QO, who announced that he finished working the countries he needed to accomplish Diamond DXCC - all QRP.  Way to go, Jim - a hearty hand shake and slap on the back for you!

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Silent Service

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've seen several videos posted here courtesy of Rem K6BBQ regarding the USS Pampanito.  Rem, who lives in California has operated from the Pampanito (whose radio room is now outfitted with Amateur Radio gear) and has related about his experiences.

I visited the Pampanito myself a couple of times, when I was fortunate enough to visit San Francisco and  the Fishlerman's Wharf area.  I was never fortunate enough to operate from the submarine.  Watching Rem's videos and taking a tour of the boat myself is one thing, but in all truthfulness, neither of these gave a "real taste" of what life on the sub was like during WWII.

This past week, I caught an episode of "The Color of War" on the Military Channel.  The program features color movie footage of WWII, taken by amateurs as well as professional combat cinematographers.  The episode I watched this past week was titled, "The Silent Service" and towards the end of the program, the USS Pompanito was prominently featured.

If you get the chance to watch the show, please do.  In a very small way, you will be honoring the memory of the brave men who fought for us under the surface of the briny deep during WWII. In the process, you will be amazed at the conditions these fighting men put up with; and in spite of those circumstances, succeeded in their mission.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

QRPp is now online.

This appeared on the QRP e-mail reflectors today:

I would like to announce that the complete collection of QRPp, the NorCal QRP Club Journal that I did from 1993 to 2004 is now on line. Chuck Adams has scanned in every page of every issue and has it on line at This is a temporary site, as we want to make sure that all of the bugs are out of it before we place it on the NorCal page where it will have a permanent home in about 3 weeks. This material is for the education of QRPers, and it will always be free. No one will ever have to pay anything to access it. We ask that no one makes it available on CD for distribution in any way. Everyone is granted permission to make an archival copy, but no one is granted permission to post any part or portion online. We want there to be one site where it is available. Some of the schematics will be redrawn and Chuck is coordinating that effort. I have struggled for years on how to make the information available and decided that this is the way to do it. Every article was donated, no one was paid anything for writing any article. So, I wanted to make it available for free. Enjoy. Thank you to Chuck Adams for doing the work to make the pdf's, to Dean Davis for his future work in
putting it on the NorCal web page, and especially to all of the contributors over the years. 72, Doug, KI6DS

Thank you Doug and Chuck for making this available to all of us online.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Sometimes I think Pavlov would have done better using Hams rather than dogs.  There seems to be a lot of salivating going on in Elecraft land.

As we get so ever closer to the KX3 shipping date, the KX3 reflector is going wild.  You get a palpable sense that some of the guys are literally jumping out of their skin, waiting for their radios to ship.

For me, it was harder to wait for the ordering process to begin.  In addition to not really knowing when it was going to happen, I was conflicted for a while wondering whether or not I would have the funds needed when things actually started rolling.  Fortunately, that turned out not to be a problem when the Order Page finally opened up.

When the original forecast for shipment was stated to be mid-February, my mind immediately told me "March or April ...... maybe".  I remember reading the stories that accompanied shipping the K3 when it first came out.  I figured that while that experience might have helped with initially shipping the KX3, it would not entirely eliminate unforeseen shipping delays TO Elecraft of materials needed to manufacture the rigs.

So here we are at March 14th, Pi Day, and the official line on the Elecraft Website is that shipping will commence somewhere between March 16th and the 26th.  I'm thinking that if I am very lucky, I will see mine somewhere right around Easter time.

I'm just hoping that I get it in plenty of time to build it and have it for QRP To The Field., which is usually the last Saturday in April.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Heavy handed

This post will probably get me thrown off QRP-L for all eternity.

The other morning, I was trying to send an e-mail and Thunderbird started acting flookey. I was getting error messages that said my ISP "Cannot send message due to possible abuse" and then I also got this: "The message could not be sent because the connection to SMTP server was lost in the middle of the transaction. Try again or contact your network administrator."

The situation was like this all day Saturday, so when sending e-mails, I had to use the Web based client that Verizon Yahoo offers.

No big deal really, in the scheme of things.  But later on that day, I saw that Terry KQ5U was experiencing the EXACT same problem and he posted about it as an Off Topic on QRP-L.  Wishing to communicate with him about it, but not wishing to tie up the e-mail reflector, we shared a couple of direct e-mails.

Thunderbird started acting normally for me on Sunday morning; but then gave me the same error Sunday afternoon and evening.  For the record, it seems to be all right today.  And I would have to say that in all, there were less than a half dozen posts about this on QRP-L.

Then I saw this today, and quite frankly, it rubbed me the wrong way.

"QRP-L mailman list,

Just a reminder, we don't use OT in the subject or have Off Topic posts on this list. Especially when it comes to computer operating systems. Please take that elsewhere please.

This list is to be use for QRP and ham radio related topics. Some think this is a fine line since many of us have computers attached to our rigs, it is not.

Antenna modeling, SDR's, logging and control are OK to discuss on the list, but I draw the line on operating systems. Guys that want to continue pushing this will be moderated without warning.

If you have any questions on this contact me direct and NOT to the list.

Thank you and 73 qrp-l moderator."

Now, first off ...... this is a private list that is run by someone.  Who that someone is, I am not sure and really, do not even want to know.  That said person sets rules and that we are expected to follow them is also fine.  I have no qualms with any of that.  That this notice was posted didn't even bother me.

Here's what bothered me, this one single, line:  "Guys that want to continue pushing this will be moderated without warning."

There were a grand total of less than 1/2 dozen posts regarding this; and the originator, Terry KQ5U was looking for assistance.  And he came looking for that assistance to  a group of guys that are very knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics.  The fact that there were so few posts about it didn't warrant the reaction, in my book.  And the "challenge" to anyone who might have offered some valuable information or tips seemed to be way off base in my most humble opinion.

In the past years, I have seen some really mundane topics that had NOTHING to do with QRP, just beaten to death on QRP-L, without one iota of comment from anyone.  This one, where someone was looking for some help with regards to an e-mail client (and NOT an operating system as was erroneously pointed out) so that he could continue posting to the list, just seems rather arbitrary and heavy handed to me.

Like I said, if this gets me banned from QRP-L in a snit of retaliation - so be it, but what's right is right. The list owner's announcement was correct and reasonable - the implied threat wasn't.

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

Thursday, March 08, 2012

This came today

Didn't get all 50; but I came close!  Maybe in another 25 years when it's the 75th Anniversary? (If I live that long!)

In any event, thank you QRP-ARCI, it's a very nice award and will look good on my wall.

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

Spring time in New Hampshire.

Jim W1PID was at it again today:

Prepare yourself for some beautiful photos as well as a good story.

On a side note, some of you may have noticed that I removed the "Capcha Code" from the blog comments area.  I did that in response to a couple of you out there that were having difficulties posting comments.  It's a good thing that comments are on moderation and that Blogger has a good spam detection process.  Since removing the Code, I have been averaging about 15 - 20 spam comments a day!  Don't people have better things to do?

Today was more like the end of April than the beginning of March.  Around lunchtime, the high was 68F (20C).  We really shouldn't be seeing temps like this for another 4 to 6 weeks; but you know what?  I'll take it any day.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is supposed to be more seasonable with highs only in the upper 40s (8C or so).

Tonight is the 40 Meters QRP Foxhunt.  I managed to get both Foxes Tuesday night in the 80 Meter hunt.  I worked Lee AA4GA quite easily; but was having a devil of a time with Ray KX9E in Illinois.  Turns out I had the K2 set to 1 Watt. When I bumped it up to 5, Ray was able to hear me a bit more easily.  I had forgotten that I had set it to 1 Watt over last weekend, and forgot to reset it.  That means I worked AA4GA in Georgia with only 1 Watt as it turns out. Cool!

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

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sorry for my absence

But it's been a heckuva week.  Not any Ham radio activity or blogging for W2LJ this past week as my Mom was in the hospital and that was my main focus.

She was having a lot of pain in her right side and it finally got to be too much for her to take. My sister texted me very early Tuesday morning that she was with our Mom and had called 911.  I didn't go into work that day; and spent most of it in the Emergency Room.  First thoughts were either gall bladder or kidney stones.  All the sophisticated tests didn't reveal too much of anything.  A thorough "old fashioned" exam by an "old school" Chinese doctor led to a hunch and another X-ray revealed a slight fracture to a rib.

Today my Mom was sprung from the hospital and is currently staying at my sister's house and should be there for the next few weeks to a month.  She's looking rested and more relaxed now that she knows what was causing the pain.  I think that finding out the cause of something like this is more than half the battle.  Once you can get a little peace of mind, the rest can fall into place.

I did get a chance to get back on the radio for a bit this afternoon to find not much going on. 10, 12, 15 and 17 Meters were all dead when I listened this afternoon.  I finally worked EA3DD, Manuel on 20 Meters for a brief QSO. He was very loud - 599 into NJ and I was graced with a 549 report back.  I'll take that any day.

Oh, even though it seems that 2011/2012 will be known as the "Winter That Never Was" here in the NorthEast (I saw robins this morning and the crocusses are already popping up in the front yard), here's K6BBQ's homage to FYBO:

Hey, according to the KX3 reflector - the Operator's Manual will be released on Monday at the Elecraft Website!  Getting closer!

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