Friday, May 31, 2013

Museum Ships Weekend

I am a big fan of the men and women who make up our Armed Forces.  They've gone above and beyond for our country so many times - from 1776 right up to the present day.  This weekend a really cool super special event is taking place to honor the men and women who have served in the respective navies of all of our countries and the ships that they have served on.

Thanks to the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station, this weekend has been organized and dedicated as Museum Ships Weekend.  106 restored military ships from around the world, which now serve as museums will be on the air this weekend.

USS New Jersey

For a detailed list of all the ships that will be participating, as well as a list of suggested operating frequencies - please click here.  If you work 15 different ships, you can submit your log and send away for a certificate.  I have a ton of stuff going on and this will be a super busy weekend for me, but I am going to set aside at least a little time for this.

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

Addendum - I got on the air for a bit tonight and worked seven stations commemorating various ships, some of which are sunk and some of which are museums. Unfortunately, the minority were found to be operating CW, so I had to resort to picking up that little black thingy - I think it's called a microphone?  Anyway, the ships I worked tonight were:

VA2GNQ - HMCS Onondaga - Submarine
K8F - SS Edmond Fitzgerald - Freighter
DL0MCM - MV Dresden - Cargo Ship
WW2IND - USS Indianapolis - Cruiser
WW2MAN - U-5075 Seehund - Miniature 50 ft German WWII Submarine
K8B - SS Carl D Bradley - Limestone Carrier
K8M - SS Daneil J Morrell - Freighter

I also worked K1USN, but they're not on the list of participating ships.  So I am just under the halfway point towards earning a certificate.

The fellow behind the microphone at K8F was not named Gordon. I was disappointed.  ;-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend in the United States. Originally the day was known as "Decoration Day", when families would decorate the graves of their husbands, fathers, uncles, sons, brothers and nephews who died in battle.

Today the holiday weekend has become known as the "unofficial start of summer", and like everything else has taken on more of a secular connotation.  Please take time from your busy weekend, in the midst of your cookout, party, ballgame, travel, or whatever to say a prayer and remember all those who made "the ultimate sacrifice".

They never forget - even during Hurricane Sandy.

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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hoot Owl Sprint Bust

The regular bands were wall to wall WPX tonight.  I tried calling "CQ QRP" for a long time, near both the 20 and 40 Meter QRP watering holes (I even went up to the 7.122 MHz neighborhood for a bit), but netted no QRP sprinters. I just did not feel like taking part in WPX, so I migrated on over to 30 Meters.

Once there, I heard K9DTH, Ron in IL calling "CQ DE K9DTH QRP" near 10.106 MHz. I put out my call and Ron came back to me for what was the beginning of a really enjoyable QSO.

It turns out that Ron was using a K1 that he just got yesterday. 5 Watts to an off center fed dipole garnered Ron a 579 report from me. I received a 599 report in return.

The weather by Ron seemed to be about the same that was here - cloudy and cool. Not exactly the kind of weather you'd expect for the weekend touted as "the unofficial start of summer". The high for the day here was 57F and there were on and off spritzes of rain all day.

Hopefully the weather will improve over the next few days.

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

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pleasant surprise

Today was a strange day.  It was my last day at my current job at Goldman Sachs. I've been there just over six years, managing all the Technology Department inventory (servers and networking and storage equipment) for the offices of the NY/NJ Campus.  I was the manager of the department responsible for receiving, inventorying, warehousing, and prepping for install a multi-billion dollar cache of equipment. I was also responsible for shipping re-purposed equipment both domestically and internationally. Believe me, you haven't lived until you've been tasked with shipping millions of dollars of used equipment to places like Seoul, Sao Paolo, and Kuala Lumpur, and you were told it had to arrived undamaged (even though the original shipping containers had since long been discarded) and it had to arrive "yesterday". I can proudly attest that in the six years that I was there, my department oversaw that inventory with a shrinkage percentage (loss due to theft, damage or mis-shipping) of less than 0.001%.

Last summer, Goldman felt that they had too many vendors, so they decided to downsize the number that they have on board. Our contract was farmed out to another vendor, and while my team was RIF'ed (reduction in force) I stayed on for six months to basically teach my replacements how to do the job.  My actual employer is Pitney Bowes Management Services, and through them, I will be starting at a new, non-management (actually glad for that, for a change) position with IBM next week.

My co-workers, the other outside vendors (IPC, Scholes, EMC, CBRE) who also serve Goldman Sachs are the best.  Totally unexpected, I walked into work this morning to find this waiting for me on my desk.

The head of the Security department phoned in for a bunch of pizzas and we had a bit of a going away party at lunch.  I am going to miss these guys like crazy.  Things could get pretty hairy from time to time and I slugged it out in the trenches with some of the best technical talent out there.  I am honored that they felt this way about little ol' me.

Anyway, when I got home, I took the opportunity to get on the air and relax and unwind a bit.  I worked some DX and another FOC station, W9FOC - Gene in Illinois.  But by far the best QSO of the night was when NG9D answered my CQ near the 20 Meter QRP watering hole.  When I heard NG9D, my mind immediately said "Lynn ........YouTube!"  Lynn has produced a bunch of YouTube videos that I have thoroughly enjoyed and it was so cool to be able to work him.  He was using his IC-703 at 10 Watts and he was a good 589 into New Jersey.  Conditions were good, so I received a 579 in reply

Lynn told me that he was trying to decide what radio he's going to take with him when he goes camping this summer. I naturally suggested that he take his PFR3A and he agreed that it might be a good choice as it has the internal battery holders and internal antenna tuner.  Being such a small package is nice when you're trying to keep down the amount of "stuff" that you take with you on vacation.  I asked him what antennas does he use when he goes camping and he told me about his Lambda antenna.  So happens that there's a video that he's done on it:

I thoroughly enjoyed my QSO with Lynn and I hope I get the opportunity to have another, soon.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nice night for DX

It was a nice night for DX.  I guess there are a lot of folks out there getting their stations ready for the CQ WPX contest this weekend.  They seem to be swinging their beams to and fro, checking out their Amps, and burning the dust off their finals.  Good times for a QRP DXer, good times!

I started off the evening with a brandy new one.  7X4AN, Mohammed in Algeria on 15 Meters  And with QRP, to boot!  So it was a deuce - new DXCC entity worked with QRP.  That was followed by another QSO on 15 Meters with KP2M down in the US Virgin Islands - and was he ever loud!  10 over 9 at least!

From there I went down to the 20 Meter QRP watering hole and called CQ. I was answered by Cliff W9ZI in Wisconsin.  Cliff and I chewed the fat for about 20 minutes until the band started changing and we cut things short before we both QSBed into oblivion.

That was followed by two quickie DX/Contest style QSOs, both on 20 Meters.  I am in the log of Zygi SP5ELA from Warsaw, Poland. Dziekuje, Zygi!  Then over to the Azores to get into CT8/OM7GJ's log.  He had to be 20 over 9 here in NJ.

Lastly, I went to 17 Meters and worked OM3SX. Mike in the Slovak Republic. Mike was about a 579 here and I received a 559 in return.

In addition to the WPX this weekend, don't forget that Saturday night, from 8:00 PM until Midnight - local time is QRP ARCI's annual Hoot Owl Sprint.  That's always a fun one.  There are bonus points given to anyone who operates portable.  I don't know if I am intrepid enough to venture out at 8:00 PM this Saturday evening.  I'll probably sit in the shack in order to just give out points, as usual.

Then come Monday evening, the MI QRP Club will be holding their annual Memorial Day Sprint from 2300 UTC to 0300 UTC..  That's always a fun event.  Two good QRP events to keep in mind this upcoming long holiday weekend.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Neat Dayton Video

by Joe K0NEB, editor of the monthly kitbuilding column in CQ:

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

Will the mighty Phoenix arise?

OK, by the time you read this, I guess this topic will be old news. The blogosphere and the Twitterverse have been abuzz with the news that “Heathkit is back!”

Channeling my inner Captain Picard, no one would like that "to be so", more than I. I loved Heathkit and cut my Novice teeth on building their kits. In addition to a ton of Amateur Radio gear, I also constructed various clocks, scanners and other pieces. My stereo system was just about entirely high-end Heathkit. The only parts that weren’t were the speakers and the turntable. And yes, knowing what the age of the average Ham is, I don’t want to see “What’s a turntable?” comments in the comments box! By the time Heathkit was coming to an end, I had qualified for, and was a member of their Master Builder’s Club. All told, I probably built about 25 or 30 pieces of Heathkit equipment for myself and for others.

But let’s not get all excited, running around at 100 MPH with our hair on fire. There’s a lot more to resurrecting the company other than an announcement on a Website and a new survey. This rumor has come up before, with a lot of anticipation and drooling, only to have our hopes dashed on the rocky shores of wishful thinking.

However,  I was always of the opinion that if Heathkit could have just held on until the age of the Internet – well ………! Heathkit e-mail reflectors, Heathkit user groups, Heathkit forums. I know that these Internet groups exist in various iterations today; but not for an active Heathkit.  It would have been tremendous! (Elecraft squared?) If Heathkit does indeed make like a Phoenix and truly rises from the ashes this time, it will be in large part due to the Internet.

It's alive I tell you ....... it's ALIVE !!!!!!

On the other hand, if Heathkit hadn’t demised ……. Whither Elecraft, Sierra, Hendrick’s QRP Kits, Steve Weber, Small Wonder Labs and the myriad other fine kit companies and club kits that are or were out there? Would the “Maker Movement” be doing as well today? Was Heathkit’s demise part of the catalyst for the birth of these companies and the Maker Movement? I am guessing, that in the end, it will prove to be a symbiotic relationship. The aforementioned companies might not have come to see the light of day had Heathkit not gone out of business. On the other hand, Heathkit may owe its reincarnation due to exactly the success of those companies, whose efforts have revitalized the kit business. The “Circle of Life”, as it were.

Whatever happens, if Heathkit does come back as a force, don’t expect that “what was” will necessarily "be".  Heathkit has a lot of credibility and good will in its name, but that only goes so far. Hams are a peculiar breed with outrageous expectations, at times. However Heathkit comes back (if it does at all), it will find the marketplace to be a totally different landscape from when they first left us. They will have to compete and will have to have a good business model. Relying solely on their name alone is not an option.

The good news, is that from the questions on the survey (which I completed yesterday), I think they realize that, to some degree.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lunchtime was grand

Summer arrived with a vengeance in Central New Jersey. Temperatures in the 80s (29C) with the higher humidity and stickiness that accompanies it. But it made for a great opportunity to head out to the park for some QRPing during lunch break. Besides the warmth, the skies were sunny and clear, with just a few white puffy clouds floating by.

Wanting to set up the fastest today in order to get the maximum operating time, I decided to go with the Buddistick on the magmount on top of the Jeep.  From the time I put the Jeep in park and turn off the ignition, I can be on the air in well under five minutes. Today was no exception.  The Buddistick is exceptionally easy to set up when using the top of the Jeep as a ground plane.  It goes together as magmount, two 11 inch arms, coil, and whip.  The whip gets extended all the way and the one coil setting works well for both 20 and 17 Meters.  The KX3's autotuner gets a 1:1 match without breaking a sweat.

First up was Pertti OG2W in Finland on 17 Meters.  He was by far the loudest signal on the band and was a relatively easy catch even with 5 Watts.  From there, I went on over to 20 Meters and called CQ near the 14.060 MHz QRP watering hole.  To my delight, I was answered by fellow blogger, Greg N4KGL.  Greg was also using a KX3, but had his going to an Alex Loop.  Greg lives down in Panama City, Florida and started out at 559.  There was some QSB and at times the APF function on the KX3 was a big help.  Towards the end of our QSO, Greg was approaching 579. He was on lunch break also, and had to get going just as I did.

But as we all know, QRPing in the great outdoors can really be addicting, so I hopped on back over to 17 Meters for one last, quick listen.  Before I tore the station down and headed back to work, I was able snag Bob WP2XX down in the US Virgin Islands.

Three lunchtime QSOs - two DX contacts and a rag chew really made my day.  An added bonus was watching the RC Model airplane pilots doing their thing while I operated.  These guys are really good and I was treated to barrel rolls, Immelmans and vertical climbs as I worked the world with my radio.

I think tomorrow is supposed to have more of the same weather.

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


is a microcosm of Amateur Radio in general. There are niches within the niche. QRP means different things to different people. In my estimation, (and I’m sure I’m way off base and nowhere near complete) the major categories are:

Competitors. Just like their QRO brethren, these guys exist solely for the contests and/or DX. You see their calls in the contest score tallies of CQ, QST and even QQ. Otherwise, with a few exceptions, you never seem to work these guys for a ragchew, or ever hear from them on the QRP e-mail reflectors. Some have the big towers with the yagis and they spend every last ounce of effort and money squeezing the very last iota of capability out of their equipment and themselves. These folks are very hard core.

Organizers. Folks like Paul NA5N, Rem K6BBQ, Rich KI6SN, Marshall N1FN, Jerry N9AW, Dale WC7S, among others. These guys come up with neat and fun concepts for events that we all have fun in ….. like the ARS Spartan Sprints, the Run For the Bacon, the NAQCC Sprints, QRP To The Field, the QRP Fox Hunts, Freeze Your Butt Off, Flight Of the Bumblebees, Sweat Your Butt Off, the Zombie Shuffle, etc, etc, etc. And of course, QRP-ARCI who organizes so many fun events like the Spring and Fall QSO Parties, the Hoot Owl Sprint, and so many more.

Builders and Tinkerers. These are the true homebrewers. Designers like Steve KD1JV, Mike AA1TJ or Jason NT7S, Rev Dobbs G3RJV, Doug W1FB (SK), Hans G0UPL, who seemingly can come up with great and ingenious designs (effortlessly) while brushing their teeth in the morning; and then share with the rest of us. Some guys are like Dave AA7EE or Tony W2GUM (SK). These guys build, and while they may not necessarily build their own designs all the time, their construction projects are things of beauty. Then there are guys like Dale WC7S and Don W3FPR who seem to eternally cruise the e-mail reflectors, always on the lookout to answer the questions of befuddled troubleshooters (like me!), or to perhaps assist someone with the building or finishing of their kits.

Entrepreneurs. On a commercial level, we are so lucky to have guys like Eric WA6HHQ, Wayne N6KR, Doug KI6DS, Diz W8DIZ, Rex W1REX and Dave K1SWL, Bill N8ET (who recently had a stroke, but was at Dayton this year, from what I understand) and others who have come up with companies that keep us in a never ending supply of QRP goodies.

Antenna experts. These people spend their time designing, homebrewing, or just tinkering with …..antennas. There is probably a little bit of this category in each of us – but these guys …… well, this is their “thing”. Several call signs that I can think off the top of my head that fit into this category – Steve AA5TB, Bud W3FF, Dale W4OP, Bill WA8MEA, L.B. Cebik W4RNL (SK), Alex PY1AHD, among others.

Experimenters. These guys think out of the box, and come up with new ideas for new things, or perhaps lead the way making use of new technologies, modes, etc. or perhaps they write software for QRPers. They’re a lot like the builders and designers in one sense, yet different in another. In this group I would put people like George N2APB, Joe N2CX, Joe K1JT, Julian G4ILO and so many others.

Outdoorsmen. Steve WG0AT, Guy N7UN, Jim W1PID, Martin VA3SIE, Bud W3FF, Ed WA3WSJ, Rem K6BBQ, Dennis K1YPP and all the SOTA folks. These are the folks who exist for taking their equipment outdoors and seeing how far they push themselves and their equipment. These are the guys we sit around and ask for “just one more story”. These are the guys we love to watch on YouTube or read of their exploits on their blogs.

Teachers. These folks are great examples for all the rest of us, they are particularly concerned with passing on the hobby and its tradition to the future generations. All the folks listed above are teachers, but the guys that (in my mind) especially fit this category are the guys who like to “spread the word”. Those who come especially to mind are John K3WWP and Dan KB6NU and Rich W2VU, Joe K0NEB, Cam N6GA, among others.

The rest of us – The “Ham and Eggers”, if you will, or if you read the comic strips in the newspapers, perhaps the “Pluggers”. We’re the day-to-day guys on the bands, the ones who do it all, the guys who do the rag chewing, the guys who work some DX when we get the opportunity, the guys who complain and moan on the e-mail reflectors, the guys who hunt the Foxes, the guys who buy, build and sell all that QRP stuff out there. The rank and file, the great huddled masses who go about their lives, probably unrecognized for the most part, but for without whom, there would be no QRP. Hopefully, because of efforts of the people named in the above categories (and there are so many more that I haven’t included due to advanced Senior-itis) there’s a bit of each of those categories in all of us.  Perhaps you find yourself fitting into multiple categories.

A note to my readers – the names and calls mentioned above are mainly North American QRPers. This is because these are the names and calls that I am most familiar with. Personally, I know my knowledge is sadly lacking and that there is a treasure trove of QRPers out there, throughout the whole world who deserve to be added to the list of names I mentioned above. I wish I knew more about them. If you have some names that stand out in your minds, please add them to the comments section. Or even better, I’d love to hear about them and their accomplishments, and perhaps even run future blog posts about them (I sense a new series developing here ….. “Profiles in QRP”) – Polish QRPers, Russian QRPers, Thai QRPers, Italian QRPers, Aussie QRPers, Brazilian QRPers, QRPers from around the world. Send me an e-mail!

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

More on Project Diana

I found this interesting:

And this is  from the InfoAge Webpage concerning the project:

"In late 1945, in the lull that followed the Japanese surrender, a number of scientists at Fort Monmouth's Camp Evans began working on a way to pierce the earth's ionosphere with radio waves, a feat that had been tried just before the war without success and which many thought impossible.

Project Diana, named for the goddess of the moon, was designed to prove that it could be done. Begun on an almost unofficial level by Evans radar scientists awaiting their Army discharge, the project was headed by Lt. Col. John DeWitt. Operating with only a handful of full-time researchers, the project scientists greatly modified a SCR-271 bedspring radar antenna, set it up in the northeast corner of Camp Evans, jacked up the power, and aimed it at the rising moon on the morning of January 10, 1946. A series of radar signals were broadcast, and in each case, the echo was picked up in exactly 2.5 seconds, the time it takes light to travel to the moon and back.

The importance of Project Diana cannot be overestimated. The discovery that the ionosphere could be pierced, and that communication was possible between earth and the universe beyond, opened the possibility of space exploration that previously had been only a dream in adventure films and comic books. Just as Hiroshima opened the nuclear age in 1945, Project Diana opened the space age in January of 1946. It would take another decade before the first satellites were launched into space, soon followed by manned rockets, but Diana paved the way for all those achievements.

It even initiated the tradition of naming such projects after ancient Greek and Roman gods, like Mercury and Apollo. For Fort Monmouth Project Diana was a pivotal event that built on World War II expertise, but pointed the way to the future."

Somehow, I have got to fit this location into either an upcoming QRPTTF or perhaps a cool theme for the 2014 Skeeter Hunt ...............

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

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Interesting day

It rained ALL day, for the most part.  Not really heavy, but a good soaking Spring rain.  Just what I need to get the grass growing again after I mowed it Friday night!

I started the day with a nice rag chew with Joe W2KJ. I always get a kick out of working Joe.  He's an outstanding QRPer; and it's always a pleasure to chat with him. But I really get kick out of the W2KJ to W2LJ thing - our calls being one letter apart.

This afternoon, I worked VQ975FOC/MM. If he was in the Chagos Islands, where the call sign is from, that would have been quite the QSO at 9,366 miles away.  But as he was signing /MM, Jim could have been just about anywhere on the face of the earth. Shortly after working him, I got a tweet from Chris KQ2RP. He was intermittently trying to work the same station in between shack cleaning chores. When Chris heard the VQ9 come back to me, he redoubled his efforts and got him in his log, also.  You know what they say, "QRPers of a feather, flock together."  Cool, Chris, I'm glad you worked him too.

I worked VP5/W5CW down in the Turks and Caicos on 20 Meters.  I have worked Dave several times over the years in the big DX contests. I guess he's down in the islands getting ready for the CQ WPX Contest, which is next weekend.

I also got a new DXCC entity in the QRP log today.  By working CP4BT, I worked Bolivia with QRP for the first time.  I've worked that country several times over the years, but it was always QRO in the past.  This time it was with 5 Watts.  I am going to have to go through my log and see how many that brings me up to via QRP.  I think it might be somewhere close to 130 now.

I finished the day by giving out points in the monthly Run For The Bacon.  It seems pickings were sparse this month; and that might be no surprise. I am willing to wager that a lot of my fellow piggies were returning home from Dayton today and were just too tired to hunt for bacon!

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

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Not quite Dayton

But I'm willing to lay down a bet that they didn't have one of THESE there! And no, it wasn't for sale!

I went to the OMARC Hamfest this morning - the hamfest for the Ocean Monmouth Amateur Radio Club.  Their club facilities and the hamfest are located on the grounds of Project Diana, which is located at the site of Camp Evans of  Fort Monmouth in Wall Township, NJ . Project Diana was the Signal Corps project to conduct the first ever EME transmissions - back in 1946. 

Actually this was not the first antenna.  The first one looked like this (below) and was immovable and EME attempts could only be made when the moon was in a certain part of the sky.

The steerable antenna came later; and has been restored as you can see in the first two pictures above.

And while the hamfest was small, it was somewhat of a success for me.  I purchased a nice looking DMM for $20.  I have a Radio Shack DMM, but the Analog to Digital Converter chip in it has a very annoying lag time.  You put the probe tips on the measuring point, and you literally have to wait a few seconds for the display to give you a voltage reading.  This meter that I purchased today, a Protek Model 6100 reads much faster.  Yeah, it's not a Fluke, but then again I don't own Begali paddles, either.

I also bought a T-shirt and a couple of Amateur Radio Active stickers.  

A large one to tack onto the shack door and a small one to slap on my tool box.

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

You know it's Dayton weekend when ......

the traffic on the e-mail reflectors goes down to practically nil.

But the advent of social media, especially Twitter means that we get news and views of new equipment all that much faster.

Jeff KE9V and others have been tweeting great photos of various things all day. TJ, W0EA has been putting video log reports on YouTube.

If you can't be there, this is almost as good, thanks to the efforts of these fine gentlemen.

So far, I've seen great photos of TenTec's new Rebel, which is a dual band rig featuring open source firmware for experimentation. For comprehensive details, visit "The QRPer" - the link is to the right.

Jeff KE9V also posted images of TenTec's new auto tuner and some images of the new CrankIR portable antennas.  Jeff also tweeted a mouthwatering photo of a lineup of Bengali keys.

With all the goodies available, maybe it's a good thing that I didn't make it out to Dayton. I probably would have come home a much poorer man.

I am going to get up early and take a ride to the OMARC hamfest in Wall Township, NJ tomorrow morning. It's definitely not Hamvention, but it will be fun, anyway. There's not anything that I have a real pressing need for, but it's always good to stock up on PL-259s, power connectors, and things like that. Who knows? There's always the chance to find a hidden treasure.

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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hello Dayton !!!!

Are any of my readers at FDIM and/or Hamvention?

Do you have anything you'd like to share?  Comments, stories, news items?

Anybody not at Dayton that wants to relate a favorite memory or anything else?

Just for this weekend, I've taken off some of the restrictions on commenting, including allowing anonymous comments - but please, give your name and call sign!  (I will delete offensive or spam comments.)

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A nice surprise

was in the mail when I got home from work - an envelope from the ARRL.  I had recently updated my LOTW log and sent in an application for a bunch of DXCC entities that I had worked.  That application put  me over the 150 DXCC entities worked mark, so the League sent me a little "DXCC 150" sticker for my basic certificate.  I am surmising that you can get an endorsement stickers for multiples of 50 DXCC entities worked, ie 150, 200, 250, 300 and finally 320 and then Honor Roll, I guess.

This submission brought me up to 151 confirmed.  I actually have 3 or 4 more in the log with stations that do not use LOTW, so I will have to get their confirmations the old fashioned way.

In addition to those 3 or 4 I just mentioned, you can add another, as I worked SX5KL in the Dodecanese Islands for another new DXCC entity worked.  I actually worked him twice (yes, I know I'm a hog) once QRO and then about 90 minutes later QRP.  The first time, he was about a 579 here - 90 minutes later, he was blasting through at 599+ and the pileup wasn't very fierce.  So I took the chance and got through the second time with 5 Watts and thanked him for listening to my QRP signal.

On an entirely different note, I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes for a very safe journey to all of you out there who are traveling toward FDIM and Hamvention.  I hope the weather is great for you and that you all have a great time.  I wish that I could be with you guys at FDIM, and finally meet face to face with so many of you that I have come to consider to be good friends.

To paraphrase W.C. Fields - "All things considered, I'd rather be in Dayton".

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Do you want a treat?  Some "eye candy"?  Some really beautiful workmanship and craftsmanship?  Do you want to see what really excellent home brewing looks like?

All I can say is "Wow, I wish I could build stuff that looks this good!"

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

As seen on TV

Well, actually, as seen on eBay.  These are a few things I've seen on eBay that made me look twice (OK, maybe more than twice) :

This looks familiar, no?  Upon first glance I though someone was auctioning off a Kent Twin paddle.  Nope, it's the latest and greatest from China.  Price is about the same as a Kent - have no idea about the quality.

This one had me scratching my head.  No it's not an auction for a KX3 - it's a "Buy It Now"  for a KX3 brochure and button.  Yep - a brochure and button for $9.95.  Go figure.

Now this one REALLY had me shaking my head!

Ham Radio Deluxe software on a CD for the "Buy It Now" price of $12.95.  Supposedly the disc comes with a lot of Ham Radio software besides HRD.  It had better, because you can still download the versions of HRD that are on this disc for free by going to the HRD Website. Really.

The next thing I noticed was there are two outfits on eBay that are selling weighted spinner knob sets for the K3.  Two weighted, spinny knobs for VFO A and VFO B. Supposedly makes QSYing a breeze.  I have the normal, factory knobs and I'm quite content, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

The American company out of Ohio is selling these weighted knob sets for $180.00. Yes, you read that right, $180.00.  His look pretty nice:

But there's also a guy in Bulgaria selling weighted K3 knobs and his look fantastic!

This guy only charges $87.00 and if you don't like these with the globe on them, you can get a set with your call sign engraved on it.  Personally, I ain't spending a plugged nickel for different knobs for my K3 ....... but if I were? I think I'd go with the guy from Bulgaria.

There's a lot more crazy stuff that you can get on eBay - this stuff caught my eye today.

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Looking at other blogs

Two blogs that I would like to point out, just in case you haven’t visited them.

The first is the post by Tom K4SWL on the “QRPer” entitled “VA3OOG covers Bowie like no other”. After reading Tom’s account, I have seen this covered on some of the Internet news services. This is a really cool video and the fact that Commander Hadfield is a fellow Amateur Radio op is just over the top. Thanks, Tom, for picking up on that. This should put to rest the notion that we Hams are all just geeky nerds without an artistic bone in our bodies.

The second post appeared in John “K3WWP’s Diary”. Just as I got all pumped up for having successfully worked Z81X on Saturday, I read in John’s diary how he did it quite “easily” (a term he uses more than once) with QRP. For having succumbed to “the Dark Side” and for having used 85 Watts, I bow humbly before the QRP Master. I think I had better send in my QRP credentials to the QRP-ARCI, as I obviously lost the faith and did not fully give QRP the chance it deserved. ;)

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

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The weekend

The weekend was busy, with lots of stuff to do in order to get ready for Mother's Day, as well as actually celebrate it.  Even though I did not have much radio time, I did manage to get some time in behind the K3 and some good things happened.

The first good thing to happen this weekend was a package that arrived through the mail on Saturday:

Yes - my JARC Antenna Launcher Kit arrived through the mail. Thanks you Joplin Amateur Radio Club! This is going to be a tremendous help with portable operations this summer.

Late Saturday afternoon / early evening, shortly after my weekly Echolink ragchew with W3BBO,  Bob sent me an e-mail, letting me know that 15 Meters was wide open and that he had worked Z81X in the Republic of South Sudan.  I had just finished washing the floors, so I put down mop and bucket and ran down (literally) to the shack.  Sure enough, there was Z81X on 21.030 MHz, working split and sounding louder than all get out.  The pile up was tremendous!  So following my tenet of when the pile up is fierce and it's a new one,  to  "Work 'em first, get 'em QRP later", I turned the K3 up to 85 Watts.  After a half hour of chasing, I landed them in my logbook.  Z81X was like one of our wiley Foxes in the QRP Fox hunts in that he kept moving his listening frequency.  Once I established the pattern, and inserted myself in his path, it just became a matter of time.  Bob worked Z81X at 23:08 UTC and I got him a mere half hour later at 23:38 UTC.  Bob checked the on-line log this morning; and yep, we're both in there. Sweet - a new DXCC entity for both of us!

Then today, I got some time this afternoon behind the dial and got two more new DXCC entities, and these I worked at QRP power.  15 Meters was hopping and netted me UN3M in Kazakhstan, as well as RI1FJ in Franz Josef Land.  The pile ups in these two instances were very small, so I tried QRP from the get-go here and was richly rewarded in both instances.  When the competition is not so fierce, you can afford to "be a purist".

There was another station that I worked on 15 Meters that caught my ear, as it was a long and strange call sign - LZ1876SMB.  I have worked Bulgaria many times with QRP, but this was a Special Event Station to commemorate the Bulgarian Saint Martyrs of Batak.  A little Googling revealed that these were 700 members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church who were martyred for their faith in an uprising against Ottomans in 1876.

If you go on QRZ, you'll find out that LZ1876SMB is just one of many stations that will be on the air commemorating the Bulgarian Saints. For us Stateside ops, if we work five of these different LZ Saints Stations, a very beautiful diploma can be earned.

One down - four to go. I am going to keep my ears open for these stations. Bulgaria is usually (although not always) a fairly easy trip from NJ via QRP.

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

Friday, May 10, 2013

Back handed compliment

The weather today in Central NJ was a very sunny 72F (22C) when I headed out the door from work at lunchtime.  I wanted to accomplish two things.  I wanted to try the 18 MHz wire that I cut for the PAR ENDFEDZ, and I also wanted to set up the Jackite pole again using my drive on mast holder.

I went to the same park that I went to last week; but I went to the other side.  This was away from the tree-filled picnic area and towards the soccer fields and some other baseball fields.  I set up right in the parking area:

Set up went very fast, and since the 17 Meter wire is much shorter than the regularly supplied 10/20/40 MKII radiator, I needed to use a piece of coax that I normally carry for when I use the Buddistick.  I called CQ and was answered by Mike K8NS who lives in Florida, in the Daytona Beach area.

Mike was 589 here, and he gave me a 569 in return. Copy was solid in both directions. Mike was using an Icom IC-725 to a vertical antenna.  My PAR ENDFEDZ was more or less a vertical, although it did slope somewhat.

It was just turning 90F (32C) for the day at Mike's QTH; but he informed me that there was a nice off shore breeze that was keeping things bearable.  I couldn't stay too long as I had to get back to work; but it was a rewarding effort.  I made a QSO, the wire worked well and the drive on mast support continued to work like a charm.  A very productive lunchtime, indeed.

What's that about the blog post title, you ask?  Well, off to the right of me, about 75 yards or so was a very big, open field.  There were some older gentlemen there flying RC model planes.  I was watching them while I was operating; and I guess they were watching me.  One of them came over, of course, to ask what I was doing and I started explaining about Amateur Radio (you would think model RC pilots would know something about radio).  He asked me if I was actually working anyone, so I took the earbud jack out of the KX3, so he could hear me as I worked Mike K8NS.

"Morse Code! People still use that?"

"Yes", I replied. "It's still very popular".

"Isn't that nice.  It's good to know there are folks out there using older technology than what I use."

I started explaining about SDR, microprocessors, SMD technology and all that; but I was getting a glassy-eyed stare (and you could almost hear the crickets chirping), so I ended up just letting it go at that.

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

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Another new one; but not QRP.

I got another new DXCC entity into the log tonight; but it was not QRP, and even at 85 Watts it was a bit of a chore.

The station was A61Q and the entity was the United Arab Emirates. The band was 17 Meters. For whatever reason the DX op decided not to work split; but to stay simplex.  That made for pandemonium.  I found him by tuning around, and when I saw/heard the pileup, I checked the cluster, and sure enough, he had already been spotted multiple times. It's no exaggeration to say that a melee ensued.

At the beginning, he was as loud as A45XR was from Oman the past couple of nights.  I thought I stood a good chance with QRP and started there.  The pileup was a zoo and I threw out my call many times with no luck.  I sensed a pattern - A61Q would call "CQ DX" and the ensuing cacophony of chasing stations followed his "K".  It turned out that he was working stations that he could pick out as the calling died down, and everyone started listening (funny how that works, eh?).

As I sensed his pattern, I thought I stood an even better chance. But then the inevitable started happening - the band began to change.  He went from 599+++++ to 599++, then eventually 599+, and then eventually just 599.  At that point, he looked like he might fade fast; so I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and turned the K3 up to 85 Watts.  It took about a half dozen calls or so (waiting for the avalanche of calls to die before throwing mine out), but I finally heard my call coming back to me.  We completed the exchange (stations were actually calling him while he was still working me!!!) and I listened for a while as I put the QSO information into my log.  Within the next ten minutes A61Q was becoming covered by the background noise.

I heard plenty of other DX; but for some reason QRP just wasn't working for me tonight.  I didn't hear any more new entities; so after A61Q I kept it to 4.8 Watts (I always stay just a bit below 5 Watts - call it a quirk).  I did end up working N4FOC on 20 Meters and then John N8ZYA on 30 Meters before pulling the plug for the night.

Getting back to the pileup situation, though. Folks - the most formidable DX weapon you have is your ears. Use them!  You have two ears and one key (or microphone) - that should tell you something. Listening is more important than transmitting.

It seems like when "exotic" DX comes on the band, people just snap and go crazy or something.  Here we have a station working simplex, which is bad enough - but we also have a gazillion or so chasing stations that just aren't listening!  When the DX calls "WB4?" - why are W7 or N6 or AA5 stations throwing out their calls?  Isn't it deathly obvious that he's trying to work the WB4 station?  And please don't tell me you thought the was calling for something else.  You know, if you couldn't hear him well enough to know that he called "WB4?" then you shouldn't be trying to work him in the first place.  Just because a DX station is listed on the cluster doesn't mean that you should click your mouse and immediately start throwing out your call. See if you can actually hear him first, OK?  If you can't hear him, how are you going to know that he's calling you back?  Common sense, right?

If A61Q had worked split, the situation might have been better, but that assumption is not a lock, either.  But if everyone had been listening and not sending out their calls needlessly while simultaneously foaming at the mouth, then the DX station could have worked a whole bunch more stations than he had.  The pandemonium slowed things down exponentially.

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

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Oh man!

And sometimes "the next time" is the next day!  That was the case for me and A45XR in Oman.  Where I was unsuccessful last night, I scored tonight.  Chris in Oman was VERY loud into New Jersey at the very end of 20 Meters - 14.005 MHz.  He was 599+ loud.  The kind of loud that you know in your gut that if you stick with him (and he doesn't QRT), you'll get him in the log. As I was listening to him pick off the stations, I heard him come back to Chris KQ2RP (author of Signal to Noise - KQ2RP), who lives all of 28 miles from me as the crow flies.  When I heard Chris A45XR work Chris KQ2RP (hey, that was a 2X Chris QSO!), I really started to feel confident.  And I was in the log about 5 -7 minutes later. First time to work Oman and via QRP. Life is good!

BTW, here's a picture of the insulator I fashioned last night from the pen barrel.  Sorry about the photo quality - I tried adjusting the exposure and contrast; but you'll get the idea.

I received an e-mail from Joel N3GSE over the weekend, informing me that it's not legal to own a slingshot in New Jersey.  Who knew?  I had so many as a kid! I could argue (if ever questioned about it) that since it's attached to an "L" bracket and the projectile is attached via fishing line that it's technically an "antenna line launcher" and not a sling shot, per se. I'll have to ask my police officer brother-in-law about it.  Another stupid New Jersey law, if you ask me.

But as I was reading the statute (and I re-read it about 3 times to be certain), I saw that there was no mention whatsoever about pneumatic antenna launchers.  So I sent away for the following kit from the Joplin Amateur Radio Club:

A bargain at $35.00 (plus shipping).  Not quite as convenient as the other antenna launcher as now I'll have to carry around a bicycle pump when I want to use it - but what the hey.  And it seems to get the job done:

At W2LJ, we desire to be law abiding citizens and not run afoul of the local constabulary!

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

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A bit more DX

at lunch time today. I went to the park, threw the PAR ENDFEDZ into a tree and tuned up on 18.078 MHz.  Janez, S51DX was calling CQ and he was loud so I put out my call and got into his log.

I probably won't be able to get to the park until maybe Friday as the next two days are supposed to bring heavy rains to New Jersey.  I'm not complaining, as it's been a very dry spring (unlike the Midwest) and we can use the moisture.

The nice thing about the PAR ENDFEDZ 10/20/40 MKII, is that you can remove the factory supplied radiator and replace it with your own for any bands from 60 Meters through 10 Meters.  This evening, I cut and tuned a radiator for the 17 Meter band.  I used 18 gauge stereo speaker zip cord and pulled it apart. The other half I will use for a 15 Meter radiator.  I soldered a ring lug to one end and then had to figure out an insulator for the other end.

The insulator that comes on the factory radiator looks like this:

I don't have any solid plastic like that so I used the barrel of a stick ball point pen.  I cut it in half and drilled some holes and used the PAR insulator as a template.  Since this is always used as a very temporary installation, it will be more than adequate.

I saw on QRPSPOTS that John N8ZYA worked A45XR in Oman using 3 Watts and his indoor random wire antenna.  Great catch, John!  About 90 minutes later, I was giving it a shot using 5 Watts.  By the time I got on though, 17 Meters was changing, and even though the Omani station was still loud, he went QRT for the evening. Maybe next time.  That's the thing you learn with QRP - there's usually always a next time, even if it takes 15 years for someone to take another DXpedition to that island!

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

Monday, May 06, 2013

A not inverted Vee

And I'm not talking about antennas .......

I'm talking about signal paths.

I managed two new accomplishments while waiting for the ARS Spartan Sprint tonight.  Tuning around on 17 Meters, I heard SU9AF in Egypt.  Not a new DXCC entity, as you might remember a blog post from back in early March where I worked SU9VB for my very first Egyptian QSO.  But this time I managed to work Andy SU9AF with just 5 Watts - so a new DXCC entity via QRP.

In the other direction of the Vee, I heard  Ed KH2L in Guam.  Guam would be a totally new one for me.  Ed was kind of loud and I thought I might have stood a chance with 5 Watts, so I tried - a lot!  The pile up was not big, but he wasn't hearing me, even when I was the only one calling. Then a W3 station started calling along with me and he was signing /QRP (that's something I never do).  He wasn't being heard, either.  It didn't look good for QRP signals from the 2nd and 3rd call districts. As Ed was starting to fade, I figured that it was going to be now or never for this chance to work Guam, so I bumped up the power to 85 Watts. Bingo - in the log - first call!

So one totally new DXCC entity and one new one via QRP.  I'll take it!

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

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Busy Day

Beautiful day again here in New Jersey - but extremely busy!  Lots of chores, lots of running around and I didn't get everything accomplished that I wanted to.  But even at the end of a busy day, it's nice to step back, take a breath and spend a few minutes engaged in "The World's Greatest Hobby".

This evening, I spent some time twiddling the dial on 20 Meters.  At the very low end of the band GN4FOC was calling CQ with not a lot of takers. I am sure that if you are spending any time at all tuning up and down the bands, that you are hearing a bunch of stations with the "FOC" suffix.  These are all Special Event Stations celebrating the 75th anniversary of the First Class CW Operator's Club.  I was lucky to work the one tonight that is situated in Northern Ireland.  Jeepers, I just thought of something ..... does working an FOC station automatically terminate my membership in the SOC (Second Class CW Operator's Club)? Somehow, I don't think so.  Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, I always enjoy working stations from Ireland and Northern Ireland.  My dear Mother-In-Law was born and raised in Ireland. She came from Donegal and many was the time she told me how Donegal is only a stone's throw from Northern Ireland. For this reason, I feel a sort of "in-law" connection to Ireland and Northern Ireland, if you will.

Just a side story. When I first started dating my wife-to-be and met my future in-laws for the first time, I happened to mention in conversation that I was an Amateur Radio operator.  I thought my dear future mother-in-law was going to have a heart attack!  I found out later that one of her brothers (who never left Ireland) was a Ham and had a huge tower with a yagi mounted on it next to the house.  Unfortunately, one summer he suffered a lightning strike and the entire house almost burned down.  One of the reasons to this day that when I mention the word "tower" to my wife I get looks that are ........ unpleasant, to say the least.

Then I had a very short QSO with John WB4MED down in Florida.  John and I have worked numerous times in various QRP sprints.  I was looking forward to a leisurely rag chew with him, but as luck would have it, propagation was not on our side. 589 signals quickly QSB'ed to nothing and what seemed like promising propagation dried up on us faster than spilled water in Death Valley. Such is the life of a QRPer!

A little bit later, I was calling CQ near the QRP watering hole of 14.060 MHz and was answered by Mario IZ6YLT in Pesaro, Italy.

This was nice as it ended up being an actual QSO.  As it turns out, it ended up being a K3 to K3 QSO!  I was at 5 Watts and Mario was at 100 Watts. We gave each other 579 reports. I was on the Butternut while Mario was on his Hy Gain vertical - so it was a K3/vertical to K3/vertical QSO.  We exchanged weather information as a matter of course; and again, I was surprised that New Jersey was just a bit warmer than Pesaro. Of course, I'm the typical American who assumes it's always warmer on the Mediterranean than it is here!

The last QSO of the night was with Jerry W0PWE who hails from Johnston, IA.  I am not sure if this is a picture of the rig he was using .........

But as Jerry described it, his rig was "built from scratch" and was putting out one Watt to a dipole.  Jerry was 579, but there was more of the aforementioned deep QSB on both our ends, and I was afraid that the band was going to drop out on us without a proper good-bye, so we kept the QSO on the short-side.  Jerry, should you happen to read this, I just want you to know how great your one Watt sounded and during your sign off, you actually peaked at 599!  FB job!  I wish I had remembered to turn on HRD's audio recorder, otherwise I would have recorded Jerry's signal.

First sign of old age, guys, when you start to forget the obvious things!

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

Friday, May 03, 2013

Outdoor Fun

It was a beautiful day here in Central NJ. At lunch time it was sunny and 63F (17C).  Time to head outdoors!

I only get an hour for lunch, so I have to squeeze in all I can.  The best thing, is that the park near my work QTH is only 5 minutes away. Once I get to the parking lot, it’s only about a 100 yard walk to the picnic table area.  So within 10 minutes from exiting the building, I was shooting a line into a tree to get the PAR up in the air.

That went VERY well.  I shot the fishing weight over a suitable limb, and the fishing reel fed out the line smoothly and easily.  I pulled the antenna up, set up the KX3 and was listening to 20 Meters lickety-split.  To my dismay however, 20 Meters seemed – DEAD!  What now?  I didn’t want to head back so quickly, so I switched over to 40 Meters. As I expected, there wasn’t too much going on there, either.  So I cycled the KX3’s band button on up to 17 Meters. Eureka!  Stations – LOUD stations – but how would the PAR tune?  Since it’s the PAR ENDFEDZ 10/20/40 MKII, it’s really only meant to operate on either 10, 20 or 40 Meters.  I hit the KX3’s tune button expecting the worst.  I was pleasantly surprised!  The tuner brrrrrp’ed for all of about 2 or 3 seconds – not long at all.  When you have a really bad situation, the autotuner can grind on for what seems like hours.  But it matched the wire rather easily and before long, I was tuning around the band in earnest.

I worked Gun OE3CGU in Austria who has great ears and boundless patience.  I doubt I ever worked so hard to give a 599 report.  I got a (generous) 339 in return, which I kind of expected.  Thanks for your efforts, Gun!  From there I decided to call CQ to see what would happen. The response was gratifying, as Mike KD5CB answered my very first CQ.  Mike was located in Hillsboro, TX which was kind of neat, as Hillsboro, NJ was all of about 5 miles away from where I was sitting. Mike had a booming 599 plus signal into NJ and I received a 579 in return.  Mike was using an IC-7200 at 600 Watts to an 80 Meter Delta Loop.  The surprising thing was our respective weather situations.  While it was sunny and relatively warm here, Mike was experiencing temperatures in the low 40s (5C) with a good stiff wind. Who would have thought that Texas would have been colder than New Jersey? We spoke for a bit before I had to tear down and head back to work. It just so happened that Mike got his own call to lunch at just the same time.  All in all, it was a nice little rag chew.

I love operating from outdoors and I enjoy Jim W1PID’s stories.  I can very easily understand why he likes outdoor operating so much. In fact, when you have a routine down and things go well, it’s downright addicting!

To borrow a line from Monty Python, "And now for something completely different!" I’d like to take this opportunity to rant a little. All my readers need to regularly read another blog – N8ZYA’s Radio Blog.  If you don’t read John’s blog on a regular basis, you are doing yourself an extreme disservice. If you are a QRPer, his blog (and John K3WWP's diary and Website) should be considered “Required Reading”. Whenever you run into some smart-alec, know-it-all type who gets into your face with “Life is too short for QRP” or “QRP doesn’t work” or “What can you do with 5 puny Watts – work across town?”  comments …… direct them to John’s blog.  No stopping, no dilly-dallying ….. right to John’s blog.

 Read his post for today – “100 Days of DX”.  Then consider the fact that these 100 days of DX contacts were accomplished with an INDOOR random wire antenna with about 3 Watts of power.  John’s stats speak for themselves – QRP works and it works well.  AND, as a bonus – with enough time and experience, it WILL make you a top notch operator.  I could give you the call signs of about 20 – 30 QRPers right off the top of my head, who are all A1 Ops – and if they’re not in the A1 Op Club, they darn well should be.

If you’re a new QRPer …… yes, at times this niche of the hobby may seem daunting. Heck, it might seem darn near impossible to you; but it’s not. Even if QRP is frustrating for you from the beginning, the proof is in the pudding.  Never give up – never throw in the towel.

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

A special greeting - A very Blessed Good Friday and a very Happy Easter to all my Orthodox friends who are celebrating the Pascha this weekend!

Two more QRPTTF videos

From Rem K6BBQ - QRPer and videographer extraordinaire:

From KB3ZHX - not strictly QRPTTF, but this video was done on the same day as QRPTTF (mostly Florida QSO Party QSOs - but hey, they counted towards QRPTTF!):

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

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Wrist Rocket Redeux

I needed to re-spool the fishing reel on my antenna launcher.

My first version used a plastic tent peg as a platform.  The sling shot was held in place by a bolt and nut going into the handle from the bottom.  This ultimately proved to be a weak point as the plastic handle of the sling shot broke over time from the stress at that point.

So when I bought new fishing line, I also bought another 8 inch corner brace.

I cut a 3 inch section off the "vertical" with a Dremel tool and a cutting wheel. I then attached the sling shot and the fishing reel to the corner brace using hose clamps.  I may take off the hose clamps from the sling shot handle and replace them with tie wraps - not sure.  When I grip the sling shot handle tight in my right hand, the clamps tend to bite into my palm a little bit.  To secure it well would require a bunch of tie wraps, but it would make it more comfortable to use.

I've been practicing in the park and I've been getting my 1 ounce fishing weight to get over branches 50 - 60 feet high with no problems.  I have discovered one thing, though.  My fishing weights (not the one in the photos) are painted bright yellow.  I think I am going to re-paint them with a very bright orange paint.  The yellow ones are a bit hard to notice when they fall onto the grass amid a bunch of dandelions!

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