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!


  1. Hello Larry,

    Thank you for your encouraging and kind comments about my blog. Your enthusiasm for the QRP sport has certainly been an inspiration to me also.

    The bands have shifted downward again but I worked Moscow last night, and another new station Guadeloupe this morning.

    I agree 100% with your comments about those who don't take QRP seriously and think DX is impossible when using only a few watts of power and a very simple antenna.

    After all, who would think an operator, sitting at a picnic table(on their lunch hour) could possibly shake hands with another ham in Austria who is thousands of miles away?

    You and I understand this very well and perhaps we can both encourage others to "keep it simple" by writing in our blogs about the tremendous fun we have with Morse Code and a few watts of power.

    I've found QRP to be the most rewarding and satisfying hobby in my lifetime.

  2. Larry,

    I was wondering how that blue battery pack is doing and if you are satisfied with it. How many hours can you operate ? If I can recall it well it has 9800 mAh.
    I'm interested to purchase one of these on eBay.

    73 and thanks for your interesting blogs.

    Patrick ON4CDJ

  3. Patrick,

    The battery is working well. I can get an easy 5+ hours on it with the KX3 - and I mean 5+ hours of sprint type operating, which can be a lot. It's not the fastest to recharge, but it holds up well and is super light to carry. For single day outings, it is ideal. For extended trips where access to commercial AC (for recharging) might be a problem, I will fall back on my sealed lead acid battery and solar panel.

    73 de Larry W2LJ

  4. Hi Larry,

    Thank you for the useful information.
    Recently I bought a 7Ah slab on a hamfest, but those are on the heavy side. That's why I consider to buy one of those blue packs or similar...a lot lighter. But if weight is not a matter, those slabs will do perfectly.

    Enjoy the weekend and the great outdoors !

    73 Patrick ON4CDJ