Monday, December 02, 2013


I hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend. True to form, it was busy here. Guests came over on Thursday, leaf raking occupied all of Friday, Saturday was spent putting up outdoor Christmas decorations (Yes, it's early,  But more importantly, the temperatures were well above freezing).  There was not a lot of time for radio, but I did get some operating in.  I did not work anyplace "exotic" or any new DXCC entities (as you can tell, I have been spoiled rotten by recent band conditions).  It sure does seem like the upper bands have settled down and are now very quiet compared to the bustle of activity that led up to the CQ WWDX contest.  I don't know if it's that the contest is over, or that solar conditions have changed so much, or perhaps a combination of the two - but the amount of activity that was so delightful to see and hear has definitely waned. Maybe we can blame this lull on Ison - affecting the sun during its graze. (Just joking, don't get all up in arms and think me an idiot!)

I did get on the bands during lunch today and I was sad to see pickings are still slim.  Nothing of note was heard on either 10 or 12 Meters.  There was a pileup near the 20 Meter QRP Watering Hole at 14.060 MHz.  I was not able to hear who the quarry was, but I was suspecting perhaps it was some of the QRP guys who are currently on DXpedition to St. Lucia.  Not being able to hear who was being pursued, it was pointless to throw out my call, only to become an unwanted QRM generator.

I went back up to 15 Meters and right at that Watering Hole of 21.060 MHz, I was able to hear a faint but audible CQ.  There was a lot of QSB, but I made out the call sign KB6FPW, so I answered.  The station came back, and it turns out that it was a Ham by the name of Mitch who was operating portable while camping at the Henry Coe State Park near San Jose, California.  Mitch was 559 and 569 on peaks when the QSB was at a minimum.  Even with the QSB, I never completely lost Mitch and was able to copy everything.  This turned out to be another 2X QRP QSO, which are my favorite kind.  Mitch was using his K1 at 5 Watts to a 1/4 wave vertical with some radials that he had somehow mounted to his vehicle. He was picnic table portable, one of my favorite modes!

We ended up chatting for about 15 minutes.  I didn't want to totally occupy his time in case others were standing by to work him.  I love working other portable QRP stations and will go out of my way to work them if I hear them on the bands. Please forgive me for always going on and on about this - but this really is something special when you take the time to think about it.  Mitch and I were situated some 2.500 miles away from each other.  If one of us hopped on an airliner and decided to visit the other, the flight would take 5 - 6 hours. Yet our 5 Watt signals were able to bridge that gap like it was nothing and he was able to speak with me while he was camping, and I was on my lunch break. Maybe I just get overly fascinated by simple things, but I never fail to marvel at this kind of stuff.

In addition to getting on the air for a tiny bit over the weekend, I was taking another look at DX Labs, as a result of an article that Steve Ford wrote which appeared in this month's QST. It's a nice logging program suite, but does seem to be more involved that Ham Radio Deluxe. Maybe a bit more involved than I want to get.  Perhaps, if I am really serious about it,  I will just have to stick with it until I climb the summit of the learning curve. The version of HRD that I use was the last "free" version, and as such, is no longer supported.  It has all the bells and whistles that I could ever use - more than I could ever use, in fact.  I really like the look and feel of it as it is very intuitive to use. However, it's always in the back of my mind that it's no longer supported and some day, I am going to have to knuckle down and pay for a license subscription for the new version. I have nothing against paying for a service as in the past I donated to Simon when he was the owner of HRD. But in Ham Radio, it always seems like there's another needed widget to acquire, and so little funds to do that with. So in my case I have to choose wisely, and if "free" is available, I usually try to go that route.

Other stuff.  I saw this on eHam this morning.  I thought it to be one of the best articles that I have ever seen posted there. I think you will all enjoy it as much as I did - here is the link: 

Lastly, a link to a video by Alan W2AEW. Alan, who is a fellow QRPer and fellow member of the Raritan Valley Radio Club is one of the most technically gifted Hams of which I have the privilege to know.  He has posted so many excellent videos on YouTube concerning oscilloscopes and other test equipment.  Here's his latest effort, regarding the proper installation of Anderson Powerpole connectors.

Sorry, for some reason I was not able to get the video to embed.

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

1 comment:

  1. Good evening Larry I use DX labs and it's great but there is a learning curve for sure.