2014 was a pretty eventful year - here are some of the highlights and lowlights, from a W2LJ point of view (in a somewhat chronological order).
1) Got published!
My very first article to be published in a major Amateur Radio magazine occurred when a piece that I authored, entitled "QRP a la Carte" made it into the February 2014 edition of CQ Magazine - the yearly QRP Special. Unfortunately, this was just about the time that CQ was having severe troubles with the new firm that they had hired to do their hard copy printing, so I don't know that the printed version made it out to many of their subscribers. But it did make it out to all the digital subscribers (of which I am one). Thanks to Rich Moseson W2VU who thought the article was worthy enough of some space in his fine publication.
2) Acquired a Begali Simplex Mono
This is by far, one of the best purchases that I have ever made in my Ham Radio career. Everything you have heard about Begali keys AND their customer service is true, and then some. This is the only paddle that I use now, when I'm in my basement shack.
3) Acquired and built a KXPA100
Admittedly, I don't use this a lot. I've probably have made use of QRO power less than a dozen times this year. But when I run across a new DXCC entity that I have never worked before, and QRP just doesn't seem to cut it, my KXPA100 goes online. I think I've worked about a half dozen new ones this year, thanks to the KXPA100. Some may say the little use I give it makes the price I paid a bit frivolous. But there's something to be said for the piece of mind that I have, knowing the "OOMPH" is there should the need arise.
4) WZ8C SK
We lost a good friend and a valued CW advocate when we lost Nancy Kott this past March. There's a saying that only the good die young. I know for a fact that that's not true, but this is one of the times that it is.
5) Switch to Log4OM
Earlier this year, I switched from Ham Radio Deluxe to Log4OM, written by Daniele Pistollato IW3HMH, for all my QSO logging. After using it for some months now, I am still happy with that decision, and would recommend it to anyone. It's full featured, intuitive and free.
6) G4KKI SK
The QRP community lost another friend this year with the passing of Bill Stevenson G4KKI. Bill was not only an active portable ops kind of guy, but he also did a lot of experimenting with homebrew construction of magnetic loop antennas.
7) SPARC is born
The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club in South Plainfield, NJ was born.
This was something I had hoped to see occur in our town for a number of years. This year, the dream bore fruit - and the club is growing!
8) Amateur Radio Week and Field Day
This past June, our Mayor and Town Council proclaimed the week before Field Day to be "Amateur Radio Week" in South Plainfield.
Not only did they honor us with this proclamation; but they came to visit our Field Day site, too. They spent more than just a few obligatory minutes with us, and actually sat down to see what type of communications that we are capable of providing. Not that they didn't "know", but it's one thing to have the concept in your head, and it's another thing to see communications being done, real time!
7) Separated from AmateurRadio.com
After hearing that Matt W1MST was taking some flack regarding the content of some of my posts, I decided upon a halt to the automatic mirroring of all my blog posts on that site. Now I choose what posts will get mirrored there. Some of my "humorous" posts and just about all of my posts of a religious nature (i.e. Christmas and Easter Holiday posts) were garnering Matt headaches. Add to that some e-mails that I privately received from readers of AmateurRadio.com stating that they "were sick of QRP" - that kind of solidified my decision. To his credit, Matt never once complained, but I can't put anyone through that. It's one thing when someone comes here of their own volition, they know what to expect from me before they get here - it's another thing at an aggregator site. I've probably have taken a big hit in readership, but that's OK. I'm in this for the fun of it and the love of the hobby, not because I'm trying to make money from it.
9) NJQRP Skeeter Hunt 2014
The third edition of this outdoor QRP operating event was another success! 159 Skeeter numbers were handed out and 64 log summaries were submitted. Look for the Skeeter Hunt to return on the second Sunday of August in 2015!
10) Radio classes
Through SPARC, Marv K2VHW and Drew W2OU and I ran an eight week Technician Class licensing course that ran from September to November of this year. We had an 80% success rate as some of the students dropped out about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through. On the whole, all the students were eager, perceptive and quick on the uptake. It was an honor and a privilege to bring over a dozen new Hams into the fold.
11) G4ILO SK
Another loss - another BIG loss as we watched the passing of Julian Moss G4ILO take place before our very eyes. Julian was a talented Amateur Radio op, QRPer, software developer and blogger. Julian blogged throughout his ordeal, and he will be missed. Julian was a very gentle and courageous man, and he leaves a deep void behind.
12) New QSL cards
A picture is worth 1,000 words:
My hearty thanks to Jeff K1NSS for the concept and the fantastic artwork and KB3IFH for the gorgeous printing!
13) Lunchtime QSOs
Throughout the year, I had the pleasure of making many QSOs from the Jeep during lunchtime at work using my KX3 and Buddistick configuration - over 300 this year alone! And typical of these was the QSO I had with Ted N1WPU during lunch today on 20 Meters. Ted answered my CQ and I was delighted to engage him in a 2X QRP QSO. Actually Ted was QRPp, as he had an attenuator on the back of his Kenwood TS-570D and was pushing out only 250 milliWatts to his G5RV. When there was no QRM, Ted was an honest 569 into NJ. According to QRZ, Ted is 392 miles from me, so for him that works out to be about 1,600 miles per Watt!
Thanks, Google Earth!
In closing out this post, I hope that Mr. Claus was generous to you this Christmas, and that you found a lot of Ham Radio goodies under your tree this year. Personally, I was graced with a new "QRP - When you care to send the very least!" hoodie from my lovely wife, Marianne. These NJ winters can be brutal, but I'll be keeping warm, and this is perfect for my basement shack! A kind reader sent me a tip last winter, "The key to staying warm in a cold basement shack is to keep your head warm." This hoodie will fit that bill to a "T".
A very huge "Thank You!" to all the readers of this blog. You are the ones who keep me inspired and make this so much fun. Hoping you all have a wonderful, safe, healthy and prosperous 2015. AND ... my high hopes that I get to meet many of you on the air!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!