Monday, December 31, 2012

Taking stock

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ……”

Mr. Dickens could not have written more appropriate words to describe my 2012.  I have never been a big reveler of the New Year holiday; but this year, I am quite eager and pleased to see the ushering in of a new year and with it, new beginnings and new possibilities.

2012 was not all depression, sadness and tears, however.  It did have highlights, particularly with regard to Amateur Radio.  The KX3, which I had so diligently saved up for, and ordered on the first night of availability in December of 2011, arrived at the end of May.  For me, it has lived up to and has exceeded my expectations.  I am quite happy with it and am so glad that it is an available part of the W2LJ “radio stable”.  Quite unexpectedly, a K3/10 joined the ranks as well.  I hadn’t dreamed of or intended purchasing one – but consider this to be my dear Mom’s last gift to me.  It is an amazing radio; and I am so lucky and fortunate to have use of both of these fine pieces of gear.

The inaugural 2012 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt was an integral part of my year.  Once again, so many thanks to George N2APB and Joe N2CX and the entire NJQRP Club for agreeing to sponsor this new operating event.  Also thanks to Bob W3BBO who helped me ruminate and come up with some of the details  for this new outdoor QRP sprint.  I had such an enjoyable time assigning Skeeter numbers, actually operating in the event and then collecting and tabulating and posting the results.  I am so happy that my fellow QRPers seemed to have as good a time as I did, and I eagerly look forward to the 2013 edition of the Skeeter Hunt.

I got two new antennas up in the air this year.  My venerable G5RV finally made way, after a dozen or so years, for the 88’ EDZ antenna.  Later in the year, post-Sandy, the W3EDP went up to join it in the W2LJ antenna garden.  Too small to be a “farm”, the antenna garden consists of the Butternut HF9V and the two aforementioned wires.  I pray these wires will last as long as the G5RV did.  There were plenty of hurricanes and nasty winters and wind storms that the G5RV made it through – may these two new wires be as resilient.

I have to include as one of this year’s highlights, my decision to purchase the PAR END-FEDZ 10/20/40 antenna.  This simple wire is a delight for portable QRP ops. It’s super easy to deploy as a sloper or inverted “L”.  It tunes up with nary a problem and is neatly and easily storable in my “Go Bag”.  I can’t think of any downsides to this antenna. It’s well worth the price and comes along with instructions on wire lengths to cut so that you can use it for other bands, if you so desire.  This antenna, as well as my Buddistick have become my aerials of choice for portable QRP ops.

Due to all the unfortunate events which took place this year, and their aftermath, I was not able to actually get on the air nearly as much as I had intended.  I actually had “a QSO a Day” going until the middle of February, when events started taking unexpected turns. From that point forward, “unexpected” became  the norm for 2012, and as a result, severely curtailed my on-the-air time  My major 2012 New Year’s Resolution, to complete the ARRL’s Diamond DXCC Challenge, didn’t even come close to happening.  So as 2013 arrives, I am going to tempt fate once more, and will try for a QSO a Day in 2013.  I am not so foolhardy as to think I will be able to pull it off, but I will do my best – hence my ever present New Year’s Resolution “To get on the air more”!

In addition to day-to-day operating,  managing the Skeeter Hunt and sending out notices for The Run For The Bacon each month, this blog (which will be entering its 9th year in 2013) has become a huge part of my Amateur Radio experience.  It is a most enjoyable part of Ham Radio for me, and I want to extend my deepest and most sincere thanks to all of you out there who take time out of your busy day to read this and share the Amateur Radio world with me.  You are the best friends a Ham could ask for. You all have helped me to deal with what would have otherwise been a most sorrowful year.  A very Happy, Blessed, Joyous and Prosperous New Year to all of you!

Lastly, I hope you all enjoy Straight Key Night tonight and tomorrow. W2LJ will be hanging out near and at the various QRP “Watering Holes” (I will spot myself on QRPSPOTS, so be sure to look out for me). I will be using my Vibroplex Original as my aging wrists just can’t stand up to a classic straight key any longer. If we have the good fortune to work each other, please excuse my less than stellar “Bug fist”.  I haven’t had much practice lately!

W2LJ 2012 QSO Map

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

Today's Red and Rover

This is a very cool comic strip, drawn by Brian Basset - about a boy and his dog, growing up together in the 60s.

It has a Morse Code theme today, so be sure to visit!  Since the image is copyrighted, I don't want to post it here - but the link was meant for sharing with the blessing of the author and the comic syndicate.

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Right place at the right time

I was able to get on the air for a bit this afternoon - I guess it would be more appropriate to say this evening, as it was getting dark.  The Christmas lights in the neighborhood, or whatever, were playing havoc with my receiver tonight.  It seems like there's S9 noise no matter which band I go to and no matter which antenna I switch to.

However, on 17 Meters, blasting in above the noise was JN4MMO calling CQ.  Japan!  I have worked Japan before, but never QRP.  Japan to New Jersey is always a long hop and with 5 Watts, I really had my fingers crossed.

It took some patience to be heard and then a few repeats - but Andy finally heard me!  I gave him a 599 report and got a 539 in return.  It was dusk here and just a tiny bit past dawn in Japan (according to DX Atlas) so I am willing to bet that there was some grayline influence there.

No matter!  I will take a QSO with a Japanese op any day of the week.  Now as far as I'm concerned, that's DX!  And it just goes to show (at least in my case anyway) that you don't always have to be good, you just need to be lucky!

I am hoping for a bit more activity on 80 Meters tonight as we get further into the darkness.  I would like to get some practice in tonight with the Bug, in anticipation of Straight Key Night tomorrow evening.

As the New Year approaches, I'd like to take the opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.  May your days be filled with laughter and enjoyment, love and happiness. And may you always have numerous sunspots and really good propagation when you turn on your radios!

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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not much doing today

Today was a good day to be indoors. We had some snow today, but not nearly as much as was originally forecast. The weathermen were calling for 3 to 6 inches of the white stuff, but we ended getting around maybe an inch. Just slightly more than a dusting.

I did get on the radio for a bit after handling some house chores. But my radio efforts ended up not being fruitful at all. I called CQ for quite a while on 15, 17, 20 and 30 Meters. The Reverse Beacon Network told me that my signal was getting out just fine, but there were no answers to my calls.  Perhaps every body was busy with the RAC contest.

So I entertained myself by investigating logging programs. The new version of Ham Radio Deluxe is out, but the program went from free to $80. I suppose that given the sophistication of the software that it's worth it, but I can't imagine spending that right now. I did sell my K2 and PFR3A recently, but those funds are earmarked for something else. So I will maintain the last free version on my computer. I also noticed that Version 6 is recommended to be run on a Windows 7 machine with dual core processors. Hardly what my netbook is set up for.

Now that computers are becoming such a fixture in our shacks, it almost seems like we are replacing them at faster rates than our radios. There are many Hams out there using boatanchors, but I would venture to guess that most everyone's computers are not as old. Can't get away with antiques when it comes to computing power in the shack!

Tomorrow should be less busy as far as chores go. Maybe I'll bet to spend more time twiddling the dial.

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another free logging program

I recently mentioned using PZTLog which has been the work of Charlie M0PZT.  This is an extremely well done logging program and on the plus side, is free.  Don't let the "free" part dissuade you in any way.  Charlie has put together a magnificent piece of software that will compete with any program that you would pay for.

There's another one that I have been playing around with that is also free.  This one is called LOG4OM and has been written by Daniele Pistollato IW3HMH.

This program is also very good.  It is a little more basic than PZTLog and was written more in mind for the Ham who might be considering moving away from paper logging to computer logging.  It's no slouch of a program, though.  It has many great features - ADIF import/export, mapping of QSOs, labeling, onboard DX Clusters, rig control, etc.

If you have been searching for a logging program and haven't found one that quite fits your needs yet, I would highly recommend giving each of these a look.

The price is right!

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interesting blog post

News from friendly sources tonight:

As pointed out to me by my friend Drew W2OU - this was posted Sunday on the "DC to White Light" blog:

The following was posted to QRP-L by Hank N8XX today:

The Stew Perry Top Band Challenge is this coming Weekend. It starts at 1500Z December 29 and ends at 1500Z December 30. One may operate a maximum of 14 hours during the 24 hour period.

The call 160 meters "Top Band" but I figure this will need adjusting, since we will soon have an allocation around 500 KHz, or 600 meters. But, for now, let's let sleeping lies dog (or some converse thereof).

Details of this event may be found at

The scoring is a bit convoluted, and the scoring team does all the scoring, so I'm not worrying about how this is done.

BUT, it DOES have a QRP category, and one gets a multiplier for operating with <5 considerably.="considerably." even="even" may="may" p="p" platform="platform" scoring="scoring" the="the" watts="watts" which="which">
So, why not crank up the wavelength to about 166.666 ⅔ and give it "ye olde college try."

72/73 de n8xx Hg
QRP >99.44% of the time

Thanks to both Drew and Hank for some interesting stuff.

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Was Santa good to you?

He was to me. (Thanks to my beautiful wife Marianne and my great kids, Cara and Joey!)

I was gifted with a Kindle Fire HD which is one great lil' tablet.  I love to read and this is soooooo nice.  I thought the touch screen would be more of a pain than the regular Kindle's back and forth buttons.  But the touch screen actually makes going from page to page of a book more effortless.  The fact that I can also check my e-mail, surf the Web on it (read blogs) and even watch movies on it makes it all the more of a neat gift.

Marianne also bought me a few "QRP - When you care to send the very least" items from Cafe Press.  The sweatshirts they sell are so nice!  Thick and warm, not flimsy and thin.  The design is big too, it takes up a major portion of the front of the shirt, so there's no mistaking that QRP is the passion of the wearer.  I was worried that when the design got enlarged to fill the front of a shirt that it might look fuzzy.  It doesn't!  It's sharp and prominent and other Hams will know right away what's going on there.

She also brought me the carrying Field Bag, which will be great for carrying my Kindle Fire and my other Android tablet to and from work.  My brief case was getting kind of ratty, so this is a good replacement.

Cafe Press does a great job and I'm very happy with both items that Marianne got for me.

I also got a nice pair of warm gloves and Joey gave me a "World's Best Dad" poster and pen and Cara gave me a very cute "Dad" Christmas ornament for the tree.  I did very, very well.

How did you all do in the Zombie Shuffle?  Paul NA5N has posted the preliminary results here.  I came in the middle of the pack, where is about where I expected to land.  I know there are a few more great contesters (such as John K4BAI) who haven't sent in summaries yet.  I will be a happy camper if I remain within the top 20 when all is said and done.

Don't forget that next Monday night is Straight Key Night.  Time for me to get a little practice on the Bug again, before the big event.  I sure hope that 2013 turns out to be less stress filled than 2012 was. I really would like to try the "QSO a day" thing for the entire year again.  It's hard to do that when every time you turn around, something comes up that eats up all your time and attention.

Here's to a better 2013 for all of us!

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas!

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Almost there!

Christmas is almost upon us.

Preparations are winding down. Hopefully, all your trees are trimmed, houses have been decorated, gifts bought and wrapped, and all baking done and goodies carefully put away.

As Mary and Joseph travel towards the star, may your hearts find wishes granted and prayers answered.

May you and your loved ones be blessed this Christmas with the Peace that is beyond all understanding.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

That was fun!

Surprise!  The world did NOT end yesterday ........ and seriously, did you think for even the tiniest bit that it would?

But it was the shortest day of the year and Winter has officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere (Happy Summer to you folks lucky enough to enjoy it in the Southern half!).  So for once, I looked towards the dark hours, because at sunset the 2012 Zombie Shuffle commenced.  I made one QSO on 20 Meters with John K4BAI before being called to dinner.  After that, the family went for a drive to go view some Chrsitmas lights.

When we got home, I jumped on the radio - about 9:30 PM and stayed on for a little over two hours.  Much to my surprise, I heard not a Zombie soul on 40 Meters.  Even though I know that 40 Meters goes long, I expected to hear something there - but no dice.

For me, all the action was confined to 80 Meters. When all was said and done, 16 Zombies were nabbed including 4 Maya Kings.  Not great; but not as terrible as I thought it was going to be with 40 Meters out of the picture.

Thanks to all the Zombies and Maya Kings that made it into my log - and special thanks to Paul NA5N for running the event.

This afternoon, I went grocery shopping and you would have thought I went to a regular shopping mall!  There was traffic everywhere and a close parking spot was not to be found.  What is it about the Saturday before Christmas that makes seasoned motorists drive like they've never been before the wheel before? Traffic and crowds were a nightmare - glad I have all my Christmas shopping done. Now .... onto wrapping!

As Advent draws to a close and Christmas draws ever closer, I leave you today with a beautiful Advent hymn - "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" which is being sung in the original Latin (it started out as a Gregorian chant) by Hayley Westenra who has an absolutely angelic voice.

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Zombie Shuffle updates

Paul NA5N - Head Zombie and Maya King posted this today:

"I have some exciting news updates regarding the End-of-the-World Zombie Shuffle Friday (tomorrow) night.

First, I was contacted by a ham in Belize who heard about our special event and asked to participate in the Shuffle from the real Maya empire.  Of course I asked him to be a Maya King!

He has agreed and thus will be our real, authentic "High Maya King" on the air, and some nice DX.  (Turns out, his wife is Mayan).  He was assigned Zombie number 1010, so he will be worth 1010+666 = 1676 points.  So listen for a Mayan Zombie who's calls start with "V31."  He will be operating QRP. He said he lives about 150 yards from the ocean ... so we'll be the first to know when the Mayan Empire slides into the sea!!!
Jan passed 1,000 zombie numbers last night.
# 999 was assigned to Terry K9DXA
#1000 was assigned to Steve W1SGC
#1015 was just assigned.
So there will be a few "4-digit" Zombie numbers on the air.
Our friend Ed, W1RFI (who will be in the Shuffle) asked why working Maya Kings aren't worth "2012" points vs. 666?  All I can say is: "Dang!  Why didn't I think of that?"  Good going, Ed.  However, I am hesitant to change the scoring rules only one day before the event.  My apologies for missing such an obvious good idea.
And, the Central Connecticut QRP Club will be on the Shuffle using their famous club call of W1FB.  This, of course, was the call of legendary QRP ham Doug DeMaw (SK), who authored numerous ARRL QRP related books and articles, and designer of the Tuna Tin 2 and other legacy QRP rigs.  What a great tribute to Doug (who is now a Maya King).
So we've added two more Maya Kings to the rolls ... W1FB and our V31 High King in Belize.  You'll just have to find out who the others are.
It's almost criminal to have this much fun in the face of the entire destruction of the human race in just hours!    Are we QRPers and Zombies, or what?

72, Paul NA5N
Zombie NR 04
Zombie Shuffle rules and summary sheet at:"

Thanks, Paul!  I am looking forward to this tomorrow evening!  And since tomorrow is the Winter Solstice and we have the least amount of daylight, it gives us extra operating time for the Shuffle this year.

72 de Larry W2LJ - For tomorrow night at least - Maya King #858
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it

was the title of a catchy tune a few years back.  I am one of those who takes no stock in ancient Mayan prophecies - BUT ........ if there are any Hams out there who are like that that guy in Hong Kong who sold all his stuff thinking that the world is ending Friday - don't go through the trouble of selling. I'll be willing to take your Ham gear off your hands for free!

Seriously, though ...... don't forget the Zombie Shuffle is this Friday night, to poke a little fun at those nasty ol' Mayans, Here's a little reminder from Paul NA5N:

Zombies and Maya Kings, Gosh. Where has the time gone? Seems it was just summer, then Thanksgiving, Christmas next week ... oh yeah, and the end of the world thing this Friday. Hate it when doomsday sneaks up on you like that! :-)

So a reminder that our special 2012 "End of the World" Zombie Shuffle will be THIS FRIDAY, famous December 21, from local sundown (considered 5pm local) to midnight. Just as the Maya calendar runs out of rock. Early enough to get a little 20M in there before resorting to 40M. Solar flux is 115-120, quiet geomagnetic field, and no big competing contests which should provide fairly decent evening bands.
Rules and other ramblings at:

NEW TO QRP OR CONTESTING? This is for you. A contest that serves no purpose whatsoever except get on the air and have fun no matter what your code speed or how rusty your fist may be. We all know Zombies can't crack out 35 wpm in those old blood soaked rags, right? Scoring is based more on serendipity (recording those Zombie numbers) than operating skill. Over the years, we've had quite a few new QRPers who accomplished their first real CW QSOs during the Zombie Shuffle. That's what it's all about ... to give everyone a chance to get on the air and pound some brass.

ZOMBIE NUMBERS can be obtained from Jan if you don't have one. Zombie numbers are good for life. Or, send your 3-digit telephone area code if you wish. We're pretty close to hitting 1,000 Zombie numbers assigned (like 35-40 to go). 

ZOMBIE BADGE: It was reported by several that the Zombie badge link wasn't working on the above Zombie page. I have repaired the link for those who wish to print out their own Zombie/Area 51 badge. 

MAYA KINGS: We have 13 Maya Kings willing to serve you this year fairly evenly scattered across the empire. Plenty of chances to work some bonus points.
For their name, they will be sending MAYA KING, MAYA, KING, or even KING JOE or KING RON (or whatever their name is) as they decide. We even have a special KING ELVIS. Each Maya King worked is worth an additional 666 points. 

I'm sure between sending CQ BOO and KING ELVIS, we'll drive the QRO folks nuts trying to figure this thing out! 

Whether you get on for 2-3 QSOs, or work several hours, you'll have fun. And, thanks for participating. After all, the end of the world only comes along every so often. I think the last one was Y2K.

I was listening to Coast to Coast AM radio show this weekend, and one doomsday believer claimed that "every major observatory is tracking the collision course of planet Nibiru with Earth on Dec. 21 - and all observatory employees have been sworn to secrecy." At the VLA (merely the world's largest radio telescope), I must have missed that inter-office email! With the internet, Twitter, and Facebook, how on Earth could you keep something like that secret these days?

However, I do feel there's a chance of a minor earthquake or a volcano might blow its top. Not because the Mayan Calendar says so ... but just to prove God has a sense of humor. He can't wait to drive those doomsdayers nuts! :-) 

72, Paul NA5N 

OK, so you may have noticed Paul mentioning that you get extra bonus points for working a Maya King.  I happen to be one of those 13 QRP Ops who have volunteered. Just sayin' ............ you might be able to rack up some extra points for working Maya King W2LJ - so listen for me!

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I have hesitated to comment about the events that took place last Friday in Newtown, CT a scant hundred miles away.  This blog is supposed to be a fun and sometimes even uplifting place – a place to escape the unspeakable horrors that sometimes invade our world.  But some things need to be said; for we live in this world and cannot evade the realities.

Like many others, I was filled with shock, horror and grief.

As a parent, I was horrified.  I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and emptiness pervading the souls of those parents and grandparents  who have lost a child – the girls and boys who have lost a sibling – the husbands who lost their wives, the one young man who lost his intended fiancé. If I was in any one of their places, I would want to die. I cannot imagine my life without my wife, or my son or my daughter.  My prayers go out to them, that in this time of intense grief, that God will be with them for support and comfort.

As a second tier responder, my heart  goes out to the police and EMS personnel who were on scene.  What they witnessed will never go away.  They will forevermore, have indelibly imprinted in their memories the scene of carnage and pure evil that happened there.  In addition to the pain of others that they had to deal with, there will always be personal questions – “Could I have done more?” “Could I have done something different?”  Even though these brave men and women did an absolute heroic and “textbook” job by preventing more killing than actually took place, they are human, too.  Their desire, their instinct, their reason for being  is to defend, protect, help and heal.  Their utter inability to do more than the monumental job they did will weigh heavily on some of them.  In their minds, their job is do more, they always think they can do more – it’s a hard reality to learn that sometimes, you can’t.

The debates will go on about gun control and should we allow this and should we allow that.  For the record, I do not own a gun and I have no desire  to own one. That being said, I do not have a problem with law abiding citizens who do. Gun control laws are necessary, to be sure. But thinking that you can legislate this problem away by banning guns altogether is an answer that is cheap, and is the easy way out. What created the incident at Sandy Hook, and incidents like these run way deeper than just people getting their hands on guns.

I am now going to state a couple of personal beliefs that will be very unpopular, and even considered “Right Wing Whacko” by some.

As a society, we have abandoned certain values that have served us so well in past generations.

In many cases, the reverence for life, from beginning to end, has completely disappeared.  Life is no longer held sacred, no longer believed to be a gift from God. It is a thing to be used, bought and sold, initiated or terminated as we see fit.  The dignity of personhood is gone. It is becoming more and more commonplace to  see others as “things” and “commodities” to be used for the purposes of gaining wealth, sexual pleasure, or whatever else is desired.  Or even worse, people are considered “obstacles” to be gotten rid of, or to be ignored.  Life has become cheap; and unfortunately, some people have no problem whatsoever, taking lives that are not theirs , or even their own.

The importance of the family, as the building block of civilization has been disappearing with lightspeed.  For thousands of years, a mother and a father raised a family and taught their children the necessary values required to maintain a civil society.  Today, in many instances, we see “kids having kids”.  We need to have adult men and women forming deep and lifetime commitments, who will be faithful and true to each other and to their children.  Our disposable society has come to the point where the family has become disposable, also.  Anything goes – today, people get married (or not), have kids and then walk away when “My wife doesn’t understand me” or “My husband doesn’t love me anymore”.  That has to stop.  We need adults to be adults and kids to be kids.  A good and stable family life is the key to a successful and thriving society.

Secondly, we have to be proponents of true love.  Love is not bounding from bed to bed, from relationship to relationship, seeing how many times you can “score”.  Men have to suck it up, and “be men” – good husbands and faithful fathers.  Same thing goes for women, you have to decide to be good wives and faithful mothers.  When you take that step and decide to get married, you are in essence subjugating your own desires and wants and putting ahead of yourself the lives of your spouse and children.  This is not an easy task; as by human nature we are all selfish and tend to think of ourselves first.  But when you are willing to put another person or persons before yourself – that is true love.   Love is an ongoing,  conscious decision, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, it’s not just a feeling that comes and goes.

Thirdly, education has to begin at home.  When it comes down to it, it is the school’s responsibility to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, etc – subjects of knowledge.  Teachers are not parents – parents are supposed to be parents.  It is the parent’s job to teach honesty, integrity, reliability, accountability and all the other virtues and moral values which form a well rounded human being, and in turn a civil society.  This is a daunting task – ask any new parent. Children do not come with an owner’s manual. But thank God, up until now we seem to have been given the ability to figure it out for thousands of years.  It takes time, a lot of love and a lot of patience, a lot of self denial – sometimes more than you think you have in you.  But if can lose your pride and get down on your knees and ask God for the help you need, He will grant it.

When the foundations of society falls apart, it is no surprise that ensuing chaos occurs.  Unless we reverse the path we seem to be on, things will only get worse – not better.  But, if we were to revert to the values and morals that were held so dear and sacred for so long, I truly believe our society will heal and improve.  Evil will always be with us – but with God’s help we can fight back, if we choose to.

Sorry for the rant – next post will be radio related (I promise!)

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Story - Part 4

Christmas Eve came and Dave and his dad attended Midnight Mass together. Jason sat in one of the pews while Davey pulled duty as an Altar Server.  The next morning, they opened up their gifts to each other. Jason was very pleased with the gloves and hat and scarf that he received from Davey. Likewise, Davey loved the books and video games that his Dad had given him. He knew that money was tight this year, and he appreciated all his dad had given him.

While cleaning up the breakfast dishes together, his dad reminded him that they would be having dinner over at the Mason’s later in the afternoon. “You know that the Masons invited Jimmy and the Stapletons over for dinner too, right?”, His father asked.

“Yes, sir”, Davey answered, “It was nice of them to do that.  I have Jimmy’s kit all wrapped up and under their tree, so that when Jimmy gets there, he can open it.  He has no idea ……. this is going to be great!”

Then his mood changed and he got quiet, and after a few moments, his dad said, “I know Davey, I miss her too. Your Mom and you are the most important things in my life. I love you both so much – you’ll never know how much.  Just know that she’s looking down on us and is glad that we’re celebrating her favorite holiday together.”

Dinner at the Mason’s was a feast.  Mrs. Mason, who was by any measure a great cook, outdid herself.  There was a turkey, there was a ham, there were mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, cranberry sauce, vegetables and home made buttermilk biscuits.  For dessert there were three kinds of pie.  Nobody could outcook Mrs. Mason. Everyone enjoyed the meal and the friendship.  After they had all stuffed themselves to the gills, Mrs. Mason called everyone over to the tree.  “Santa was here last night and left some presents!” she gleefully informed her guests.

There were presents for the Stapletons, who were overwhelmed and didn’t know what to say.

“Don’t say anything”, George said.  “Jeannie and I know what you’re going through, we’ve gone through it a few times ourselves over the years; and with God’s help, we always got by.  Some day, when things are better, you do the same for someone else.”

Then Davey handed  Jimmy a gift wrapped box.  Jimmy took it eagerly, “Oh man, I wonder what this could be?”

“Well open it up, knucklehead!” Davey kidded his friend, “Unless you’re like Superman and have X-ray vision, you’re never going to know until you do.”

Jimmy unwrapped the gift and saw that it was a kit for a QRP Tri-band transceiver, a popular model by famed QRP designer Steve Weber KD1JV. “Davey, are you nuts? This must have set you back a ton!”

“Hey buddy-boy, don’t yell at me, yell at Santa, he’s the one who brought it here”, Davey glibly replied.

“Yeah, well, “Santa” is the greatest friend a guy can have – tell him I said so the next time you see him”. Jimmy looked at his friend with a stunned look of disbelief still on his face.  Mrs. Stapleton had a few tears welling up in her eyes, overwhelmed by the generosity of their friends.

Davey told his friend, “Santa wasn’t able to dig up an antenna tuner or a paddle, though. I’m afraid you’re going to have to come up with those on your own”.

That’s when Mr. Mason chimed in ”I’m sure that there’s enough stuff in the N2EBA parts box, that we can come up with a QRP antenna tuner. And if I’m not mistaken, Jimmy, I think Santa left you another box under the tree”.

This time, George handed a small box to Jimmy.  When Davey told George what he was up to, their Amateur Radio mentor decided to buy Jimmy a Bencher paddle to go with the rig.

Jimmy looked at them, “The both of you are the best. Thanks so much!  This has been a great Christmas!”

Then Mrs. Mason came over to Davey and whispered something in his ear.  With a quizzical look on his face, he moved over to the Christmas tree when he heard her say, “Go on, Santa left one for you, too.”

Davey found the box with his name on it.  Caught totally off guard, he sat down on the floor next to it and began to remove the brightly colored wrapping paper.  He caught his breath for a second when he saw what it was – the Elecraft KX3 kit that he had wanted so badly!  He immediately looked at his dad, who simply nodded and said, “There’s a note attached to the box, Davey.  I think you might want to read it”.

He opened the envelope – inside was a plain sheet of paper with handwriting on it – his mother’s handwriting.  She had written the note shortly before she died.

“Dear Davey,

With all that has been going on, your Dad and I decided that we wanted to buy you a very special Christmas present this year.  We both know that this is something that you’ve really wanted and that you were trying to save up for on your own.  We also know that you’ll get a lot of enjoyment from this for years to come.  So no matter what happens, or wherever life takes you, please know in your heart how much your Dad and I love you.

My love always and Merry Christmas!


This time, Davey was the one caught speechless. With tears glistening in both their eyes, he looked at his Dad, and his Dad looked back at him.  Both had smiles on their faces. As much as he had wanted the radio, that small piece of note paper with his Mom’s handwriting  that he had just received, and what it represented, meant more to him than anything in the world. Dave Bolton still missed his Mom terribly, but now he knew that she would always be with him.

“You’re right Jimmy”, he said, “This IS a great Christmas”.


Note: The names and call signs that appear in this story are purely fictitious with two exceptions. Steve Weber KD1JV continues to design kits that are sold primarily through Hendricks QRP Kits. N2EBA was originally issued to Mark Rosenwald, a good friend of mine who is now a Silent Key.  Thanks Mark, and a Happy Hannakuh to you, in the Big Shack in the Sky!

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Christmas Story - Part 3

"Whoa, pardner! That’s a big jump from what you’re using now! You've only been at this for about a year and a half", the older Ham reminded him.  Sometimes George tended to think that Ham Radio was still the way it was back in his Novice days.  Then, some if not most, Hams had to work a long time to build up their code speed  and  it generally took longer for them to work their way up the ranks. He sometimes forgot that his two prize students were already General Class license holders, having upgraded from Technician Class.

"I know Mr. Mason, but most of that time was spent with you, so I’ve learned from the best. You’ve shown me how to build a kit the right way and you've helped me get my code speed up. I've almost got all 50 States under my belt and over 40 countries in my log .... and I'm good for about 18 words per minute in the code!" Davey was proud of his accomplishments, and he hoped Mr. Mason was too.

Little did Davey know just how proud George Mason was of the two boys.  Under N2EBA’s tutelage, the two younger Hams didn’t get stuck in the VHF/UHF rut that many newcomers find themselves in.  George got them interested in HF radio operating from “Day One”, and to his delight they took to his favorite mode, CW, like fish take to water.  The way they had increased their code speed so greatly in such a short amount of time constantly amazed him.  His personal theory now was that since Morse Code was no longer an examination requirement, people who really did desire to learn the code, took to it more quickly.

Confirming his respect for Dave and Jimmy’s achievements, George stated, "You and Jimmy were top notch students, Davey. I am proud of both of you, and how far you’ve both come since you started. Amateur Radio is a lifelong hobby that can serve you well. How has Jimmy been doing?"

"OK, I guess", Davey started to explain, "But he doesn't get as much on-the-air time as I do. I have the kits that you and Mrs. Mason gave me, and that you helped me build. Jimmy doesn't have a shack at home ... his parents can't afford it right now. So I have him come over and use mine anytime he wants.  At home, he keeps an ear on the Ham bands with an old Hammarlund receiver that his uncle found for him, but it‘s not the same as having your own station set up, and actually making QSOs“, Davey responded.

"Well, you're a good friend, David Bolton. Other people aren't so generous. Helping other Hams and passing on Ham Radio traditions are part of what this hobby is all about.  Amateur Radio helped to teach me the electronics skills that I needed and used during my 40 plus year career. I like to think that now I'm doing my part to keep the hobby alive. It looks like you're setting out on the right foot in that regard, too." George Mason was indeed very proud of his young students.

And right then and there, the seed of an idea took root in Davey’s brain.  He didn’t know exactly how he was going to accomplish it, but he knew he still had a little time before Christmas came.

The time before Christmas seemed to be speeding by in the blink of an eye.  There was school, chores to be done around the house, and of course radio time whenever he could squeeze it in.  And there was Christmas shopping to be done!  Davey used what money he had to buy Christmas presents for his Dad, the Masons and Jimmy.  Jimmy’s present was going to be a special one this year – he just had to figure out how to go about getting it.

One evening after school, while Davey and George were in George’s shack, trying to get into the log of an fellow Amateur that was on a DXpedition to a far away island in the South Pacific, the doorbell rang, and Davey’s father showed up to bring him home.

“Thanks so much, Jeannie, thanks so much George”, Jason Bolton offered to the Masons.  “Davey’s not being any trouble, is he?”

“You’re kidding us, right?”, the Masons both asked with one voice.  Jeannie said, “Jason, Davey’s as good as gold and no trouble at all. He’s a fine testament to the job that you and Abby have done bringing him up”.  George added, “Davey’s my star pupil Jason, he can spend time in my shack any day”.

“Hi Dad!”, Davey greeted his father as he bounded up from the basement.

“Ready to go, Sport?” Jason asked his son.

“Any time that you are, Dad” Davey told him.

As the two walked home, Davey asked his father if there was going to be much more overtime. “I realize the medical bills were high Dad, but I miss spending evenings with you.  Think this will be over soon?”

“Well Davey, I am seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, and I don’t think it’s a train”, he joked with his son. “I think that the last week before Christmas will be the last week that I’ll have to work late. Then things can go back to normal.  Hey, I’ve been so busy that I forgot to ask you what you wanted for Christmas this year - anything special?”

Davey wanted to just burst open about the QRP rig that he wanted so badly. But he knew the price and he knew his Dad’s financial situation. So instead, he said,”Not really, there’s some books and a video game or two I would like”.

“Hmmmmm …… no radio gear?”, his Dad asked.  “I know there always some kind of key or accessory that you have your eye on - nothing like that? There‘s still time for me to order something, just point it out to me, as I don‘t know a transmitter from just about anything else you use!”

“No Dad - not this year.”

“Have you gotten all your Christmas shopping done; or do you need me to drive you over to the mall again?”

“I’m just about all done Dad, but I need a huge favor”, Jimmy asked.

“And that would be …….?” his Dad asked.

“I need you to write out a check for me.” Davey’s entire plan seemed to tumble out of his mouth in mere seconds. “I want to buy Jimmy a rig of his own for Christmas. Just a small kit, nothing too big – I know his parents can’t afford it and I know that Jimmy really misses not being able to get on the air as much as he wants.  There’s a place where I can order one, that will get it here in time for Christmas, but I don’t have a credit card or a checking account, so if I give you the cash, do you think you could place the order for me?”

His father was quiet for a few seconds, and then asked, “Davey, are you sure you want to do this?  I know you’ve been saving up for something that you’ve been wanting very badly.  Isn’t this going to deplete your savings?”

Davey replied, “That doesn’t matter, Dad.  Jimmy’s the closest thing I have to a brother and he loves Ham Radio as much as I do. It kills me that he can’t spend as much time on the air as I do”.

Jason Bolton sighed, ”OK then; but only if you’re sure. But then again, you did inherit your generous streak from your mother.  So …..  you’re really set on doing this?”

“Sure am, Dad!”, Davey answered. And that night, they ordered the kit that Davey had in mind, on line.  They got the total and Jason Bolton  put the order on his credit card.  As Davey was handing him the money, he said, ”Wait a sec, Davey. How about we split this? As much as I admire your generosity, I hate to see you eat up all the rest of your savings”.

“Thanks, Dad, I appreciate the offer; but this is something I’d like to do on my own”.

“All right, we’ll do it your way this time. Your Mom sure would be proud of you, and so am I”, his dad told him, and giving him a big hug, said ”You’ll never be too old to get one of these from your Old Man.”

To Be Continued .....

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas Story - Part 2

No sooner had the question entered Davey's mind, than he heard some noise come from the backyard.  As the boy walked up the driveway to investigate the source, he saw George Mason fumbling with some tools.

“Hi, Mr. Mason, what are you doing?”

George looked up to see Davey’s smiling face.  “Why Davey!  You're a sight for sore eyes!  I’m trying to measure out some wire for a new antenna. It’s hard to manage tape measure, wire and wire cutters all at the same time.  I could use another four hands, or maybe an octopus. Want to lend an Old Ham some help before you go in your house?”

“Oh yeah, sure. About that …………” Davey answered.

“What’s the matter Davey?  Something happen?” George asked his young Ham friend.  He could tell from the way the expression on Davey’s face fell that something wasn’t quite right.

“Well, Mr. Mason, it’s like this.  I was helping Jimmy with his books on the way home from school.  He can’t manage them well and deal with his crutches at the same time.  Anyway, he dropped one as we were crossing the street. When I bent down to pick it up for him, the house key popped out of my jacket pocket and went down the storm drain.  Dad’s going to have a fit!” the boy explained.

“Oh, Davey!  No worries! Your Dad’s not going to have a fit.  I’ll tell you what, you help me measure out and cut this wire and then I’ll go inside and phone your Dad to tell him what happened, and let him know that you’re at our house.  Your Dad is a good man and I’m sure he’ll understand that it was just an accident. And you can stay with us, of course, until your father gets home.  By the way, Mrs. Mason just baked a fresh apple pie today; and I’ll bet you it’s just about cooled down enough for a slice”.

“That’d be great, Mr. Mason. Thanks for your help!  So ……. Exactly what kind of antenna are you putting together, anyway?”  Dave had a keen interest in antennas and how they worked.

“Well, Davey ….. It’s something that I found in the ARRL’s Antenna Book.  It’s called a W3EDP antenna and it was first used way back in the 1930’s.  It’s based on the wire antennas  that used to trail from zeppelins.  I need something that will get me onto 80 and 40 Meters. My vertical is good on 20 Meters and up, but it sure doesn’t do anything for me on the lower frequencies, and now that Winter is just about here, I’d like to get on those bands at night.”

Dave helped his neighbor measure out the wire and handed Mr. Mason the wire cutters when they were needed.  When they were finished, the two Hams went inside.

"Davey, why don't you sit down and take a load off? I'll call your father like I promised. And don't worry, I seriously doubt that he is going to have a cow!"

Dave settled down at the kitchen table and engaged in some small talk with Mrs. Mason while George telephoned Jason Bolton, Dave's father. Jeannie Mason doted over Davey and she loved him as if he were her own. She was always like a grandmother to him, but after his mother died, she became even more devoted to him.

After a few minutes, George came back in the kitchen. "Good news, kiddo!  Your Dad understood completely.. He even said that it was good thing that you were here. He was actually going to have me come over to your house and have me bring you over here. Looks like he has to put in some overtime again, and he wanted you here with us. So it looks like that slice of pie I promised will end up being dessert, as you'll be eating dinner here. Do you have any homework?"

"Yes, Mr. Mason, I have some Science reading and a Math worksheet to do.", Davey responded.

"Better get cracking then. I think Mrs. Mason is planning to have supper ready in about an hour. Isn’t that right, Dear?", he asked.

She nodded affirmatively, so Davey started in on his homework. George told Davey that after dinner they would go down to George's shack and cobble together the antenna that they had cut the wire for.

A couple hours later, after school work was finished and dinner was eaten, the two radio operators found themselves in N2EBA's basement shack. Davey loved being in "a real Ham shack", as he thought of it. There were quite a few pieces of Heathkit gear that George had built and had lovingly maintained over the years. The jewels of the shack that Davey had envied the most were George's Elecraft rigs. A KX1, a K1, a K2 and a K3 were all on the main operating bench. George was a die-hard kit builder, QRPer and a CW man. The only thing missing was the new portable rig, the KX3. George was putting money on the side for one, and when it arrived, George had promised Davey that he could be involved in the build. That suited Davey just fine, as he had dreams of owning his own copy of the radio which had caused a huge buzz among members of the QRP community.

Tonight, however, they concentrated on building the new antenna. They talked as George watched while Davey soldered wire to some window line.

"Sorry that you have to be here instead of home, Davey", Mr. Morgan offered.

"I don't mind in the least, Mr. Morgan. I just wish my Dad didn't have to work so much. But the overtime is helping him pay off what’s left of Mom's medical bills. It's been real hard on him since she died."

"I know it's been tough for him, Davey. You've been a big consolation to him. He's told me several times that he doesn't know what he'd have done without you. But enough of that talk, Christmas is coming real soon. If you don't mind me asking .... are you and your Dad putting up a tree this year? I mean with your Mom passing on earlier this year and all..."

Davey nodded his head, "Yeah we are, Mr. Mason. Dad told me that Mom made him promise that we would. She’d be mad if we didn't celebrate Christmas on her account. It was her favorite holiday."

"Well then, have you given any thought to what you'd like to find under your tree?", George asked, his eyes twinkling.

"Heck, yeah!" Davey blurted out, "I'd sure like to see a KX3 under there! But I don‘t even dare think about that.  With all those medical bills, there‘s no way I would even mention that that‘s what I really, really want.  So in the meantime, I’ve been saving what I can from my allowance, birthday money I’ve received and grass cutting money that I’ve earned. I'd like to be able to buy one on my own, but it feels like it’s going to take forever to save up that much money!"

To Be Continued......

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas Story - Part 1

“Oh crud - Dad’s going to have a cow!”, thought Dave Bolton. It had been a long December day for the lanky 12 year old. It was one of those days when it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And things were going wrong even now. He’d been helping his best friend, Jim Stapleton, who had a sprained ankle and was on crutches. The two friends were headed home after a day at school. Dave stooped to pick up a book that had slipped out of Jimmy's backpack and had dropped onto the curb. In the process, Dave’s copy of his house key fell out of his jacket pocket and fell down into the sewer grate.

“Hey Davey, don’t sweat it, dude! Your father will understand it was just an accident. Tell him that you were helping me.”  his friend replied.

“No, you don’t get it, Jimmy. Dad just trusted me with that key just a few days ago. It was tough enough to convince him to let me stay at home by myself after school until he got home from work. And now I went and lost the key …….”

Jimmy offered some consolation, “Well at least the key went where no one’s going be able to get at it. It’s not like anyone is going to be able to use it to get into your house.”

“I guess”, Dave answered, but deep down inside he wasn’t quite so confident. Dave and Jimmy were in 7th Grade together and had been best friends since the first day they had met each other in Kindergarten. They were more like brothers than close friends, and some folks even referred to them as “twin sons from different mothers”. Up until two weeks ago, Dave had been staying at the After Care program at Christ the King School where he and Jimmy attended. But he had finally convinced his Dad that he was old enough and responsible enough to walk home, let himself into the house and stay by himself for a couple of hours until his Dad got home from work.

Earlier in the year, Dave’s mother had passed away after a long illness. Ever since, Dave’s father, Jason Bolton, had insisted that Dave had to stay in After Care until he could pick him up at the end of his work day. It was either that, or walk home and stay with the next door neighbors, the Mason’s.

Not that he minded staying at the Masons. George and Jeannie Mason were two of the nicest people that Dave knew. In fact, they were like having grandparents that lived right next door. Dave Bolton had been like a grandson to George and Jeannie and they loved having him spend time at their house.

And Dave had stayed at their house a lot over the past few years. He was placed in the Mason’s care while his Dad spent so many hours at the hospital with his mother. In fact, he and Jimmy both got introduced to their new and favorite hobby by George Mason. George was a long time Amateur Radio operator, call sign N2EBA; and he occupied a lot of the boys time by showing them the hobby. It was a good distraction for Dave, and George loved teaching people, especially young people, about Amateur Radio. Both boys already had a bent toward things technical, so once they were “hooked”, George eventually ended up teaching them the theory they needed to know to get their own Amateur Radio licenses.

In fact, both Dave and Jimmy got their “tickets” together at the same license exam session. Dave was KD2PGA and Jimmy had received the call letters KD2PGB. Dave had already put a small station together from kits that George and Jeannie has so generously given to “the grandson they never had”, as they liked to refer to Dave. Jimmy, on the other hand, had to use either Dave’s or George’s gear, as he had none of his own. His folks were currently unemployed and were struggling due to the economy. They barely had enough extra money saved up to keep him enrolled in Catholic school. But Jimmy was doing his best to stay connected to the hobby by doing some short wave listening, monitoring the Ham Radio bands. His uncle had found an old Hammarlund receiver at a yard sale and had purchased it for Jimmy. In fact, Jimmy had sprained his ankle while taking a misstep off the bottom rung of a ladder while finishing stringing a wire antenna from his second story bedroom window to the peak of the garage.

“So what are you going to do, Stringbean?” Jimmy asked. He liked to tease his friend about his height.

“I’ll guess after I see you home, I’ll go over to the Mason’s and call my Dad at work. Then I’ll ask Mr. Mason if I can stay with them until Dad gets home. I still think my Dad’s going to have a cow”.

“Mr. and Mrs. Mason will be happy to have you over for a couple of hours, Davey. Tell Mr. Mason that I said “Hi”. And don’t worry so much, dude, your Dad’s not like that.”

“Will do, Jimmy ….. Hey, we’re right at your house now. Let me help you get your stuff into your house, and then I’ll head on out to the Mason’s.”

Dave carried Jimmy’s backpack into his house while Jimmy dealt with the crutches and hopped up the two front steps. After saying good-bye to Mrs. Stapleton and Jimmy one last time, Dave walked the two remaining blocks home. Instead of going to his door, he walked on over to the Mason’s house and knocked on their door. There was no answer. “Oh that’s just great!” Dave thought to himself, “Now what am I going to do?”

To Be Continued ........

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

Saturday, December 08, 2012

So here's the deal ......

I was sitting in the shack Thursday night, working the Fox hunt and I was looking at my K2.  It looks kind of lonely, sitting there idly, while my K3 and KX3 get all the duty time.  So I made a decision - my baby needs to go to a home where it will be the "star" and get the usage it deserves.  This radio deserves better than "back up" status. It really, really, really kills me to do this - but unlike others, I realize there are only so many radios that I can reasonably have and put on the air at any given moment.

This is K2 - serial number 4090.  It has the latest version of the main board in it.  It also has the following:

K160RX - allows 160M operation.
KNB2 - Noise Blanker
KAF2 - Audio Filter
KAT2 - 20 Watt built in auto tuner.

My K2 is CW only - no SSB module and it is the QRP version, it is NOT a K2/100.

Here's a picture:

I personally built this baby and after I had built it, I had sent it to Alan Wilcox of Wilcox Engineering.  He installed the KAF2 for me and perfected the settings of the filters and tweaked it for optimum output. This radio is the best!

Cosmetically, it is a 9.8 out of 10.  The case is PRISTINE and the only imperfections are a few minor scuffs on the face of the main tuning knob.

If you were to purchase all the components new from Elecraft, it would cost you $1090.00, plus you'd have to build it (and there is a rumor of a price increase from Elecraft at the beginning of the new year).  This radio, although used, looks and (even better) works perfectly.  AND it comes from a non-smoker home.  I am contemplating a price of $850.00, and I will cover the (domestic) shipping.  I have the original manual and will throw in the power cord. - Note: K2 IS SOLD

In the same vein, I am also offering up my PFR3A:

This includes the Baby Black Widow paddles.  There is an issue - a cosmetic one.  I clear coated the front cover of the PFR3A and it got smudged before the clear coat dried completely.  I'd rate this one as an 8 out of 10.  BUT ........... I ordered a new front cover for it; but have not had the time to put the decals on it, clear coat it and install it.  So this package will contain the PFR3A, new cover and decals, as well as the Baby Black Widow paddles.  Brandy new from Hendricks QRPKits, the radio alone goes for - $240.00.  I will let this one go with the extras described above for $200.  I will also cover the (domestic) shipping costs of this one too.

I am probably going to post these to QRP-L tomorrow evening.  If I get no bites there, then onto eBay probably Monday or Tuesday.  I'm giving my readers first crack.

I accept PayPal or money orders - and the above prices are not carved in granite. I'm willing to consider REASONABLE offers.  Please send an e-mail to if interested.  Please don't use the comments as they have been wacky with spam and I might miss your offer as I delete spam comments.

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

Friday, December 07, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7th, 1941, "A date which will live in infamy".  These words were uttered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, after the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor.  Eight US Naval battleships were damaged, four of them were sunk. In addition, three cruisers, three destroyers, a mine layer and one anti-aircraft training ship were all destroyed or sunk. 2,402 Americans lost their lives, and 1,282 were wounded.

The very next day, The Congress of the United States declared a state of war with Japan, and three days later declared a state of war with the Axis powers of Europe.

World War II, which was to last until 1945, was a period of time where electronics and electronic innovations blossomed.  Because of the war effort, radios became smaller, lighter, tougher and were built to withstand all kinds of battle conditions.

The Amateur Radio Service in the United States was shut down for the duration of the war, with the exception of drills and excersizes conducted by the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, or RACES as we still know it today.  Many Hams, young and old alike, volunteered for duty in the Armed Forces, serving in the Signal Corp in the Army and as radiomen in the Navy.

But there were other operators, too.

These were clandestine radio operators, who put their lives in peril.  Some lived behind enemy lines.  Others  parachuted into or otherwise secretly gained access to territory that was behind the enemy lines in the European Theater of Operations.  They volunteered their radio skills to get critical information from behind those lines to the Commanders of the Allied Forces. The average lifetime of one of these brave radio ops was about six months.  They were either extricated, or lost their lives as they were ruthlessly hunted by the German and other Axis armies.

These were the original QRPers, operating tiny little radios, often putting out less power than we QRPers are accustomed to today.  Because of their mission, their antennas were also stealthy, and not because they were worried of upsetting their neighbors.  No, these antennas were stealthy because if they were discovered, it cost the operators their lives. The "go kits" of these valiant operators often included cyanide or other poison pills, as while discovery meant death, it also meant a period of gruesome torture before that end.

Some of the stories of these clandestine radio operators, as well as the equipment they used were chronicled in a book called, fittingly enough, "The Clandestine Radio Operators" by Jean-Louis Perquin.  It is still available at Amazon.

So the next time you're operating your "flea power" radio, whether it be from the comfort of your shack, or in the grandeur of the great outdoors, say a silent prayer for those who went before us - on a mission that had life and death consequences.  Their valiant efforts helped to preserve the freedoms that allow us to continue  operating our "clandestine radios" today.

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

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tough 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt tonight

It was a tough go on the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt tonight.

First off, I never heard TJ WØEA in Iowa at all.  This was not a surprise; as Iowa is a tough haul for 80 Meters.  I really wasn't expecting to hear TJ at all.  What did surprise me was that I didn't hear any of his pursuing Hounds, either.

I did manage to get into Lee AA4GA's log.  A QSO between Georgia and New Jersey is way more realistic for 80 Meters.  But there was a ton of QRM and some pretty loud QRN which made it a bit tougher than it should have been.  I got in Lee's log with 11 minutes to go - these hunts last 90 minutes.  So there was 79 minutes of trying to figure out Lee's listening sequence, dealing with QRM, etc.

One thing that made it a lot easier was using the KX3 tonight and making use of the "Dual Watch" function.  For those of you who don't have a KX3, this is where you use both the main receiver and the sub-receiver together.  You turn on the Dual Watch function and plug in a pair of stereo headphones.  The main receiver goes to one ear while the sub-receiver goes to the other ear.  This makes it a breeze to find where the last successful Hound was transmitting, tune the sub-receiver there and then go to town with operating split. As long as the two frequencies do not exceed a 15 kHz split, the Dual Watch function takes a lot of the guess work out of operating split.

The W3EDP served me in good stead again tonight, getting me a "one-fer" - one out of two Fox pelts.  Hey, if I was a Major Leaguer, a .500 batting average would make me a very wealthy man!

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

Morse Express 2012 Christmas Key

Have you been a good little Ham this year?  Maybe Santa will leave one of these in your stocking!

The 2012 Morse Express Christmas Key

In Celebration of the Season... Morse Express has commissioned its twelfth annual Christmas Key.

Our 2012 Christmas Key is a fully functional miniature telegraph key made by GHD Telegraph Key in Sendai City Japan. It incorporates traditional Japanese craftsmanship with GHD's impeccable engineering and finish.

In keeping with GHD's larger keys, the Morse Express 2012 Christmas Key is fully adjustable, with precision pin bearings at the trunnion, miniature binding posts, comfortable knob, and perfect balance. The contacts are hard-silver and the distinctive oval base is finished in satin chrome. The knob is hand-turned mahogany, and there are four small anti-skid rubber feet on the bottom. GHD's Toshihiko Ujiie uses both modern and traditional techniques to produce a miniature key that will be equally at home in the radio shack, in the field, or decorating a Christmas tree.

According to Marshall Emm (N1FN), "the Christmas keys have always been a labor of love for me, and my first priority has always been usability. GHD has brought considerable expertise to the manufacture of the Christmas keys, and the 2012 key is a little gem." The 2012 Christmas Key measures 2" by 1-1/8" at the base and it weighs two and a half ounces. Each key has a label with "Christmas 2012" and a unique serial number in the limited edition of 150 keys. The 2012 Christmas key will add something special to straight key operations through the Holiday Season and on Straight Key Night.

LT-MX12 Morse Express 2012 Christmas Key available at

Ho, Ho, Ho!

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

Monday, December 03, 2012

A lot of good QRP info here!

This appeared on the QRP-L e-mail reflector today, courtesy of the owner of the QRP-L:

"Hi Guys,

Since there some reading this that may have some extra time during the holiday season I thought I would pass along some information you may or may not know about.

Just in time for your QRP overload season. I get sort of tickle with all the QRP-Lwhatever lists out there, when there are other lists doing great job and have been around for years. If you haven't already, please give them a try! Here are just a few lists to try out.

First off is the 4SQRP list. 
The next up is the GQRP list. 
Then there is the Flying Pigs International

These are just super nice guys that are fun to be around!  The above are direct links for signing up to their reflectors, here are the direct links for the group's web sites in general.

Flying Pigs

Here are some other clubs that also come to mind.  If you live near these clubs/groups please go check them out in person. They also may have their own reflectors and QRP bulletins.

St Louis QRP
Michigan QRP
MW Homebrewers
Arizona Scorpion QRP
Texas QRP clubs (too many to list, hi)
New England QRP

This is by no means the end all of QRP lists or clubs. I am sure there are many I have overlooked!  I was mainly trying to focus on other QRP lists that also may have a QRP news bulletin or magazine.   However as I wrote this. I kept expanding on what I had above.   All the above are just a great bunch of clubs/groups, each have their own flavor on the QRP side of the hobby. So enjoy all the surfing and reading through out the holiday season, as well the New Year coming up! If you have a favorite QRP group/club that I missed, please list their information here on QRP-L. Bragging on them is not only welcome, but encouraged!

73 and Happy Holidays!"

I have no idea who the current "owner" of QRP-L is, as that ownership has changed several times in the years since I have been a subscriber.  For the most part, it is a thankless job, by a person who, at times, has to deal with a lot of grousing.  Thank you to the owner of QRP-L for your thoughtfulness and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too, Sir (or Madam)!

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

Saturday, December 01, 2012

W3EDP success - part 2

At the urging of my friend Bob W3BBO during our weekly Saturday Echolink BS session, after we were done, I went down the basement shack and removed the Butternut from my K3. In "Antenna 1", I hooked up the 88' EDZ and in "Antenna 2" I hooked up the W3EDP.

I then proceeded to go to 160 Meters to go listen to the contest traffic there.

Switching between "Antenna 1" and "Antenna 2", I was able to make some comparisons between the two.  First off, there was virtually no noticeable difference in the receive quality of any of the signals I heard.  Both antennas gave me loud, strong signals to listen to.  Neither was noticeably weaker or quieter than the other, and switching back and forth was instantaneous. The comparison in reception was easy to make.

On transmit, it was a different story.  The best match I was able to get with the EDZ on 160 Meters was between 2:1 to about 1.6:1.  And to get that match, the K3's autotuner took it's good sweet time - I'd say about 5 seconds or longer to achieve that match (seems like much longer while those relays are chattering away!).  The W3EDP?  A quick little "brrp" lasting about a second or two at the most, and a match that was 1.0:1.

In the space of a matter of a few minutes, I made contest QSOs with K8NVL in Ohio, WA1BXY in Rhode Island and NX2X in New York. All of them with the W3EDP.

Is this the solution I am looking for for 160 Meters?  No, I'm not that stupid.  But it will allow me to have some 160 Meter fun this winter until I get something dedicated built. Of course, that project has been on my radio project horizon for two years now.  Next spring/summer I am really going to have to follow through.  But for now, this will do.

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

QRP Fox Hunting thoughts

I haven't been a Fox in a couple of years now. But in going through the logs that our current crew of Foxes have been posting after the hunts, I am seeing a lot of new calls compared to the logs that I had posted in the past.

Now this could mean one of two things:

1) Guys are changing their calls through the Vanity system, or:
2) We're attracting a nice group of newer hounds.

I think it's the latter and that's a really good thing to see. The news of how fun this is, is getting out to people just getting into QRP. And as a bonus, I am still seeing a lot of the familiar calls that you would expect to see, so obviously retention is high.  Just goes to show how addictive that QRP Fox hunting can be.

If you're a QRPer and you've never tried this before, you are in for a world of fun.  The entire concept and the rules can be found here:

It's not hard and there's nothing to be afraid of - it's all about a bunch of wacky QRPers getting onto the air and causing our own, friendly melee'.  Nobody bites and nobody gets hurt - even the Foxes. (For the PETA crowd - NO actual Foxes were hurt or killed in the process of the QRP Fox Hunts!) About the only bad thing that can happen is getting your ears blown out by a strong signal; but if you keep your AGC on ...

then nobody gets hurt.

So ..... what are the benefits of participating in "The Hunts"?

A) You get to know your equipment better.  The ins and out of it - what works and what doesn't.  Pardon the over done cliche', but you really do "become one with your rig".
B) You get schooled in several virtues - patience, humility, persistence being among them.
C) You have fun
D) You learn the proper way to operate in a pileup (as well as the NOT proper ways) - and if you choose to volunteer to be a Fox, you learn this from BOTH sides, in a microcosm sort of way.  I really have to attribute the experience I gained through the Fox hunts as a major help in allowing me to successfully navigate several DXpedition pileups with only QRP power.
E) You have fun.
F) You learn about propagation and your antennas and what works compared to what you THOUGHT would work.  You learn that conventional wisdom isn't always so ...... conventional.
G) You have fun.
H) You can make some really great, long lasting friendships with some outstanding folks - who you might never meet face to face.  But these friendships can end up becoming your most valued ones.

Did I mention that you have fun?

Now a thought had come to me - a question really .......

I know the QRP Fox Hunts were the brainchild of Chuck Adams K7QO - I was actually there, in the beginning, participating as N2ELW.  But has this caught on in other countries besides here?  I don't see it mentioned on any of the major QRP e-mail lists and I know there are a ton of you dedicated QRPers out there that read this blog that are not from this side of The Pond.  Is there a European or UK or other (Russian, VU ....... ) version of this going on?  If there's not, there should be!  It's so much fun and in addition to that, the friendships that are forged because of the hunts are just priceless.  Heck, the friendships made are more valuable than the hunts themselves!

Just sayin'

All that said - the QRP Fox Hunt Committee, the Foxes, and yes, even the Hounds do such a great job, keeping this fun (there's THAT word again) and exciting. A big tip o' the hat and a hearty "Thank You" to all of them.

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