Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Speaking of portable ops

Here's a video by Dennis Blanchard, K1YPP who is also the author of "Three Hundred Zeros"

Dennis hiked the Appalachian Trail, among other places and has lived to tell us all about it.  If you haven't read his book, then you're missing a good read.  While there's not a whole lot in devoted to Amatuer Radio, it is a good read nonetheless, and inspiring, too.

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

Sage Advice

Paul Signorelli W0RW posted this to QRP-L yesterday. It is entitled "Top 10 Steps for QRPttF Operation".  This is SO good that it needs to be shared with those who might not subscribe to QRP-L. Paul has spent many a year operating outdoors, particularly pedestrian mobile.  Paul has a wealth of tribal knowledge built up here and this is good - very good, but often overlooked advice.

Here are the Top Ten Steps that I take for successful QRP Portable operation:

1. Propagation and Band Activity.
When you operate portable you want to work as many people as possible so the band conditions must be good. This means that you have to keep track of the propagation conditions before planning an operation. I try to look for propagation predictions for the band I plan to operate on but they are not very reliable. I check the QSL Net propagation site at <>

The flux is always changing, so before I pick a date to operate, I monitor the bands at the same time that I plan to operate. The Absorption Index is also a key factor, I never operate when the "A" Index is above 6. I also use the NCDXF beacons see: <>

Trenton Military (15034 kHz) or CHU (14670 kHz) for 20 Meter propagation checks. Coastal stations might use WWV/WWVH on 10, 15 20 and 25 Mhz.

20 Meters is best for day time country wide propagation. 40 and 80 Meters are good for night time operation. I always try to avoid contests and other busy periods. Checking the QST Contest Calendar helps to insure the band is going to be clear. Check your desired frequency in advance, you don't want to pick a frequency that is used for nets, traffic handling or RTTY.

2. Weather Conditions.

The weather forecasting is really good, so this is easy.
Try <>
I look for warm temperatures and no wind. If it is going to rain don't get too far away from a shelter.
Check your local web cam.

3. Honey Doo Items.
Always check the XYL's honey doo list and make sure you have a valid Pass for the day.

4. Location and Road Conditions.
Try a your local National Park <>, If you are an Old Timer you can get a lifetime Pass. Always check the road and site conditions before going out in the field. You don't want to drive hundreds of miles to find out that the Capulin Volcano road is closed by snow. Canyon roads can have snow or land slides, Pick an open space operating site, canyons are not good for QRP operating. If you are going to operate Pedestrian Mobile with a whip you will want to find trails that don't have a lot of over hanging, antenna eating branches.

5. Equipment Readiness.
You need to check out your equipment right before you head out to your operating site. This prevents leaving behind some critical item. Needless to say, you should have your antenna all pre-tuned before you leave. My radio is always mounted to a backpack and is always ready to go. The LiIon battery is always charged but I always take a spare. I just need to put the back pack into the car, with the antenna and counterpoise. The accessories should also be checked: microphone, earphones, key, SWR meter, pen, log, watch, hat, gloves, coat, etc.

Make an equipment checklist.

It is good to charge or have a spare accessory batteries for your computer, keyer, SCAF, HT's, etc.,
and a spare radio, clip leads and duct tape for contingencies.

6. Vittles.
I take water, lunch (GORP) and my VHF HT in a fanny pack.

7. Operating Announcements:

I try to post my operations on the reflectors a day before the operation. When you post too far in advance, people forget and when you post right before the operation, some people don't get get the notice until after your are finished. I always try to be on my exact posted frequency (or alternate) at the exact time so people don't get stood up. Posting your operating times gives you more Q's. It is no fun running your battery down calling CQ with no responses. QRPspots, HFnow, GORC, QRP-L, SOTA Summits are good places to list your operation, as appropriate.

Post your schedule in GMT (Universal Time/Zulu time) as well as your local time.

Also post details about your operating location, links to pictures, trail maps, QSL Information, will be helpful, etc.

8. Prep Your Vehicle.
Put gas in your tank !

9. Initial set up.
When I arrive at my operating site, I set up my rig , attach the antenna, and check power and my operating frequency. When operating Pedestrian Mobile, I tune my whip and dragwire, put on my backpack and I am ready for the trail.

10. Safety.
Always be prepared for adverse conditions. You might need rain gear, snake proof boots, a map, GPS, etc. Always give someone your travel plans. Take your cell phone or an HT that will hit a repeater.
Be safe !

For more detailed information on Portable and Pedestrian Mobile operation get WA3WSJ's Amateur Radio Pedestrian Mobile Handbook. He has made his First Edition Handbook free at:

That's it, the Top Ten Steps for QRP portable operating. If you are addicted, you can consider this your 10 Step Program.

Paul w0rw

Thanks for sharing your wisdom and knowledge, Paul!

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This time it was QRP!

I worked JT1AA/3 in Mongolia again tonight. This time it was different, though - it was on 15 Meters instead of 17 Meters for a new band, and 5 Watts did the trick this time. It took a couple of repeats, even with another station trying to send right over me, but Gan's terrific ears pulled my signal out of the aether.

Mongolia on 5 Watts - covering a distance of about 6,320 miles. Very cool beans!

In addition, thanks to some helpful direction from Terry G4POP and Daniele IW3HMH, I was able to solve a slight problem with Log4OM that was baffling me.  When I would mouse click on a station in the DX Cluster, the KX3 would go right to the proper frequency - but the radio would change modes and go into CW REV.  It didn't matter if I was changing frequencies between bands or within a band.  Whenever I clicked, I would jump to the right frequency - but the mode would always change from CW to CW REV.

So on Terry and Daniele's suggestion, I went into the configuration files for the K3 in OmniRig (the CAT program that Log4OM uses). There I saw the commands for CW and CW REV. The command for CW-U was MD7 and the command for CW-L was MD3. So I flipped them, saved the file, restarted everything and now it works fine. Geez, at this rate, I might become a software problem solver in about a hundred years or so!

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Exceptional Service

Last Wednesday evening, just before turning in for the night, I placed an order with Amateur Radio Supplies for some antenna rope and wire. I placed an order for 150 feet of 14 gauge jacketed Flexweave and 200 feet of Dacron rope.

The next morning, I had an order confirmation in my inbox and by the end of the day on Thursday, I had received a "your order has shipped" e-mail. To be honest, my initial thought was, "Yeah, right!".

Much to my surprise, the rope and wire arrived on Saturday via FedEx Home Delivery. Wow! I have to say that Amateur Radio Supplies made a believer of this sceptic. I certainly was not expecting such fast service, but was very happy to receive it.

This weekend is QRP To The Field. The weather for Saturday is looking "iffy" right now - partly sunny/cloudy with a 25 percent chance of showers in the afternoon. I will probably operate from the backyard and will have my son help me cut a few radiators to try out the 9:1 EARCHI UNUN a little bit more.

In order to prepare, I did the first lawn mowing of the season tonight after dinner. The front yard needs some work (re-seeding), but the back yard is in decent shape.

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

Friday, April 25, 2014

Some things

Got an answer from Terry G4POP regarding my Log4OM issue regarding the distances being shown in kilometers, rather than miles (even though I chose the miles option):

 "Distance in miles is only for display, when the record is saved to your log it has to conform with the ADIF (Amateur Data Interchange Format) format which requires Km."

Since I'm not the software or ADIF expert, I'll accept that answer, although HRD and other logging programs I have played with seem to work around it.  In light of how good the program seems to me so far, it's a minor inconvenience, and in the scheme of things I can live with that.  What's more important to me is that the CAT (Computer Aided Tuning) works well.  The KX3 seems to obey whenever I point and click on a frequency.

The DX Cluster and the loading and downloading to and from eQSL and LotW work especially well. Callsign lookup is lightning fast. In short, Log4OM is easy to use (it has a very short learning curve), it makes sense, works well and is aesthetically pleasing too. It's easy on the eyes and to many, that may be superfluous, but to me it is important. 

Another big plus is that the Website offers for download a comprehensive User Manual that is complete, but is still a manageably sized document that I can keep on my tablet for easy reference.

The evaluation of logging software is very subjective. What works for one person is useless to another. Log4OM works very well for me, and if you're looking for something new, or a nice package, be sure to check it out.  It might not be your cup of tea; but then again it might.

Here's a VERY COOL special event that is going on tomorrow. I want to help spread the word:

"A Special Event honoring 20 years of the AZ ScQRPions QRP Club will be held April 26, 1400-2330 UTC at the unique relic of the cold war nuclear deterrent: the TITAN MISSILE MUSEUM in Green Valley AZ dedicated by Ronald Reagan to creating an ongoing awareness of the Armagedon that would result from a nuclear exchange. Everyone should be guided through the silo andcontrol rooms to get a sense of the reality of it all.

The CLUB will use the site's primary antenna -- a broadband 90' DISCONE with a fairly flat SWR from 1.8-30 Mhz, with low nodes in most of the ham bands. We will operate with QRP rigs such as the KX3, K3, QRP+, ICOM-703, ATS-4, Wilderness Sierra and who knows what else. QRP frequencies will be used to the extent they produce steady contacts. Otherwise take note of the following operating Fregs: SSB -- 14270Mhz, 18130Mhz, 21280Mhz, & 28370Mhz, +/-20Khz; c.w. --14020, 18072, 21030, 28015, +/-10Khz. We will call " CQ TITAN de K7T".

Details and photos of the DISCONE monster can be viewed at the following links:

Special QSL on receipt of your QSL to:

Ade Weiss W0RSP, 810 N. Placita la Canoa, Green Valley, AZ 85614

QRO stations certainly invited to let us know we're getting out -- and to practice copying weak DX signals and local QRP signals! Win-win!

Check for most current frequency info.

Simultaneous operation of three stations on the Discone is planned using a triplexer and bandpass filters. An in-band SSB 20m - 10M experiment will be attempted with additional antennas separated from the Discone. Note that 12M, 17M CW/SSB and 30M may also be used as this is not a contest, but an outdoor operating event on a nice 90F+ spring day!

Drop by for a QSO! Make our day! CU de TITAN!

Also ...... tomorrow, Saturday April 26th is International Marconi Day.  You may hear a lot of stations on the air around the world using an "IMD" suffix.  That's what that is all about.  You can read more about it on the ARRL Letter, if you get that, or by going here:

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More on Log4OM

Ok. I got the eQSL and LotW procedures figured out and running. The only minor bug is the distance thing. Even though I have the "Show distances in miles" box checked off on the settings page, the distances are still being shown as kilometers. Not a deal breaker, but something I would like to resolve. I posted an update to my query on the Log4OM forum. We'll see what kind of answers I get, if any.

Other than that, I am very pleased with the software. It is running very smoothly. Everything I need is displayed on one screen, which I like - very much. Actually using the program to record QSOs is very easy and straightforward. Log4OM is missing a few of the bells and whistles that HRD has, but for $00.00, I can live with it.

I was testing the rig control feature out and saw JT1AA/3 spotted. I clicked on the call and the KX3 actually jumped bands to get to the proper 17 Meter frequency. I threw my call out after listening for a few minutes and was actually heard after my first try! Not a new DXCC entity for me, but a new country for 17 Meters for me. And that's good enough for tonight.

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

Cut short

Every now and then, my lunch time QRP sessions are cut short by a work crisis. Such was the case today.  Not hearing many strong signals during my initial tune through, I decided to call CQ for a while and then go back to search and pounce.  I managed to call CQ alright, but never got to the search and pounce portion of the plan.  My cell phone buzzed in my pocket and demanded a quick return to my desk to handle "a situation".

The bright side is that my CQs, although unanswered, were at least heard:

Courtesy of Reverse Beacon Network and Google

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

Doing the math

I've been doing some investigating with my computerized logbook.  In the over 11,000 entries that I have in it, I took the time to tally the numbers for CW QSOs vs. Non-CW (Digital, Phone) QSOs. CW makes up for 98.7% of my operating.

Speaking of computerized logbooks, I am playing around more and more with Log4OM and am taking a liking to it.  It may soon become my full time computer logging software.  I still have a few issues to work out - such as why the distances displayed are in kilometers even though I have the "display distances in miles" checkbox checked. Also, I have to get the program to hook up with LoTW and eQSL.  I think those are minor issues, especially after watching the YouTube videos on the subject by Terry G4POP.

Additionally, Ham Radio Deluxe has developed a glitch which has me puzzled.  When I have the Cluster display open, if I click on a DX station that is on a band other than what I am currently on, the KX3 will go to that station and then immediately back to where I am/was.

Let's say I just worked W1AW/1 on 7.038 MHz, and I see on the Cluster that EM7XX is on 14.004 MHz.  If I use my mouse to click on EM7XX, the KX3 will go to 14.004 MHz, but then will immediately go back to 7.038 MHz.  It never used to do that.  In the past, it would have gone to 14.004 MHz and would have stayed there.  I have de-installed and re-installed HRD, but for whatever reason, it doesn't want to behave properly anymore.  And while I'm trying to save up for the PX3, I really don't want to pop a hundred bucks for the new version of HRD. Log4OM is not behaving that way, it's acting like it should and it's free, so ............... I think you can see where I'm headed.

I have played around with the DX Lab Suite and for some reason it would not import about a 1,000 of my QSOs via ADIF import.  The same thing happened with Logger32. Log4OM imported every single QSO that I had in HRD. I was looking at nGenLog and kind of liked it, but for some reason after the initial session, it hangs up and freezes my computer when trying start up the next session. It's so bad that I have to hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE to access the Task Manager in order to stop the program and get the computer running again.

Maybe it's also time for a new computing platform in the shack.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Another one got away

Band conditions seem to have deteriorated lately. Bob W3BBO and I were discussing this on Saturday. The upper bands, 10, 12, 15 Meters still have signals on them, but they seem to be not as plentiful and nowhere as strong as they were just a month or six weeks ago. Just after the cold weather broke here in NJ and I resumed my QRP sessions, it seemed like each lunchtime from the car netted 3 our 4 or even 5 DX stations per sitting.

Lately, those kind of band conditions seem to have disappeared. Signals are fewer and weaker. But today was a case of the one that got away. I was tuning up and down the bands and heard JY9CF on 12 Meters. He was kind of loud and was calling "CQ USA ONLY". I tried, and wasn't being heard. But I did have time, as I heard him early on during lunch hour and he was getting louder. I figured giving just a little bit more time, I just might have nabbed him. However, many non-USA stations began calling, and the operator was getting frustrated as a few times he sent, "PLS LSN USA ONLY". As his signal strength to me increased, so did his frustration. Finally he announced he was going QRT.

Rats! My gut was telling me that with a just a bit more time ...... maybe. I am pretty certain that if I was home and had the shack KX3 fired up to the 75/100 Watt neighborhood, that I would have garnered a new country. It seems that 5 Watts and the Buddistick just didn't cut it today, even though the JY9 station was the loudest I have ever heard here.

On the bright side, I did have a short QSO with Jim N0UR on 20 Meters. I have worked Jim in many Sprints and many QRP Fox hunts. It was good to hook up with him in an "everyday QSO" situation. Jim was running 4 Watts from his Flex1500 and he was a good, solid 579 here into New Jersey (when QSB wasn't kicking in).

BTW, Paul NA5N has announced the theme for this year's QRPTTF - "Tres de Mayo" considering how close this year's event is to Cinco de Mayo.  I have already decided what I am going to do to be "in theme" - but I am NOT sharing until after the event.  All the rules can be found here:

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday - 2014

This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen! Alleluia!

For the Lamb who was slain at the hands of evil men has risen, never to die again. And those who the Lamb claims as His own share in His victory over death. Amen! Alleluia!

May the peace of the Lord, which is beyond all human understanding, be with you and your families, this day and forever more. Amen! Alleluia!

Fish sa'id
Felices Pasques
Fu huo jie kuai le
Sretan Uskrs
Vesele Velikonoce
God paske
Gelukkig Paasfest 
Joyeuses Paques
Frohe Ostern
Chag pesach same'ach
Buona Pasqua
Linksmu Velyku
Priecigas Lieldienas
Wesolego Alleluja
Schtsjastlivyje Paschi
Felices Pascuas
Milostiplne prezitie Velkonocnych sviatkov
Vesele velikonocne praznike
Khrystos voskres

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.

Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.”

Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday 2014

What makes Good Friday good?” you ask.
A challenge! A rather daunting task.
Some may dismiss it with a shrug and a smirk,
And consider it another day off work.
Others, religious, pious as such,
Take a few minutes for a mournful watch;
Merchants unlock their doors with glee,
Anticipating the pre-Easter shopping spree.
A bunny here, a chocolate egg there,
Symbols of a society that doesn’t care.
“Care?” you say, “Do you mean me?”
“What’s there to care; how can this be?”
It’s the cross, you forget, that rugged wood,
That makes Good Friday eternally good.
What’s so good about the death of an ancient man,
Who died long before my life began?
This man, who on this earth once trod,
Was not only man, but the Son of God.
That wood, that tree, that old rugged cross,
Was the symbol of gain and the symbol of loss.
To those who believe, it is the promise of gain;
The hope that, like Jesus, we’ll rise again!
For the skeptic, the doubter, the meaning is loss;
An eternal gulf, which no one can cross.
Good Friday is good, because of the death
Of Jesus the Savior, who gave His last breath
So you, friend, and I, could be cleared of our guilt,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb that was spilt.
Mourn not, my dear soul, for the death of the Lamb,
For that cross made the bridge to the Great I AM.
Christ paid the price, rose again to God’s side,
And brought us next Sunday: the Resurrection-tide!

~by Alan Allegra~

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Figuring the numbers

As you all know from reading this blog, my main interests in Amateur Radio are QRP, CW, portable ops and DX.  I don't consider myself a hardcore DXer.  I will look for it, I will work it when I hear it, but I'm not one of those guys that has the Cluster send alerts to his smartphone.  I'm not one of those who will set his alarm clock for 2:00 AM just to work a new one. I will, however, bump up the power and leave QRP land to work a new one if I hear it.  I did that last night.

I consider myself one notch above the "Casual DXer" level.

I was fooling around playing with Logger32 and LOG4OM.  While the computer was doing its thing, I saw Easter Island and Qatar spotted on the Cluster.  These were two new ones that I have never worked before. My first move was to bump up the power to 75 Watts.  I'm enough of a DXer to want them in the log that I'll try to get them in there using QRO power first and will worry about QRP later. Jumping into each pileup, I was surprised to actually work each on the first call.  Qatar was a nice and clean QSO.  Easter Island took a bunch of repeats, even at higher power, but I did hear my call and a "TU" at the end.

Afterwards, I got curious about how many countries I have worked.  I went to Log of the World to do a bit of research.  I have 165 countries confirmed via LoTW.  The problem is, that I have worked a bunch of countries via Hams who don't use LoTW.  If I send out QSLs to each of these and get QSLs in return, I will have 185 countries confirmed.  I am a bit "iffy" about being in the logs of one or two of those, so 183 is probably more likely.

I know that with my set up here (antenna situation, in particular) - I am not DXCC Honor Roll material.  The probability that I would ever reach that level is slim and none, and slim left town.  I just don't have the antennas, or the will power to get me there - as I have said before, I am not a hardcore DXer. But, if someday at the end of my Ham career, I could have 250+ countries confirmed, I'd be a happy camper.

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Many thanks

to those of you who posted comments, or sent me private e-mails concerning the 9:11 UNUN, and particularly to "Anonymous" who provided the link to:

That was an eye-opener.  If the weather isn't too chilly or damp this weekend, I think I am going to see what happens when I use the 24.5' and 36' wires as the radiator.  As my friend Bob W3BBO says, this is the fun of playing around with homebrew antennas - playing around until you discover something that works for you.  It will help if propagation is decent - it's never a great day to evaluate an antenna when just about no one is around!

The 24.5' wire would allow decent SWRs on 40 through 6 Meters (according to the chart, the highest SWR would be on 17 Meters at 2.1:1), while the 36' wire would allow decent SWRs on 80 through 6 Meters (according to the chart, the highest SWR would be on 20 Meters at 2:1).  In either event, this should work better than what I had previously tried, where I was getting a 3:1 SWR or higher on some bands.

I know there's no "one size fits all' kind of solution here. If there was, someone would be either very rich, or very famous.  My concern is to be able to go to the park, toss one manageable wire into a tree and get as much operating time in as possible.  Multi-band doublets might yield better results, but at a cost of increased setup time as well as the need for two supports. Another simultaneous goal is to be able to switch bands as much as possible, without messing around with wires too much after the initial set up.

I know - about as easy as trying to change lead into gold.

I'll keep you who are like minded posted as to what I discover.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Great way to kick off Holy Week.

First off, please allow me to wish all my friends of the Jewish faith a very Happy Passover, which begins tonight.  May your Holy Days be blessed and enjoyable, surrounded by good food, friends and family.

Holy Week began yesterday for those of us who are Roman Catholic, or those who are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church as well as most Protestant denominations.  So what better way to kick off the week (Amateur Radio wise) than by working 3Z14EASTER?

Courtesy of QRZ and SP6IEQ

Dionizy SP6IEQ, is running the Special Event station until April 24th. I worked him on 15 Meters with 5 Watts from the Jeep and the Buddistick.    Thank you, Dionizy for the QSO and Wesołego Alleluja to you and your family!

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

And here I thought it was me!

To say it is a beautiful day in New Jersey today is in understatement.  The sun is shining, and the temperatures are in the upper 60s (20C).  The breeze (if there is any) is so gentle that you don't even notice it.  So I decided that after grocery shopping, but before other chores, that I would sneak off to the park and try out the EARCHI antenna.  I built the 9:1 UNUN late last Autumn and didn't get a chance to try it out.

The antenna line launcher worked perfectly, once again.  First shot, I cleared a 50 foot tree with ease. The end fed EARCHI was up in record time.  I used a 33 foot piece of wire attached to the UNUN, and ran a 20 foot piece of coax from the UNUN to the KX3.  My results with tuning it via the KX3's autotuner were so-so.  The KX3 loved the antenna on 30, 20, 18 and 12 Meters. On 40, 15 and 10 Meters, I got a decent match, but the KX3's tuner clacked around noticeably longer finding a match on these bands.  I think I am going to have to experiment with different radiator lengths to see what ends up working best as an "all around" antenna length.

But even with decent matches, the bands seemed dead!  I did end up working W1AW/KP4 on 20 Meters, but other than them, I did not hear much.  I hear much more activity during the workweek from the Jeep than I heard today. Naturally, the first thing the Ham suspects is that it's the antenna - especially when it's a new one. Actually, my first reaction was that I screwed up something when I built the UNUN. I came home after only a short time out, a bit dejected.

Then when I got home, I got on the computer to order some wire and rope from The Wireman.  For the heck of it, I also decided to check out Facebook.  A lot of my Ham friends had posted about how lousy the band conditions are today. In fact, one commented that he went outside to make sure his antennas were still in the air!

Courtesy of Facebook

So it ends up that today was not the day to base a critical performance review on,  I will have to wait for another weekend with decent weather and better band conditions for another test. In the meantime, I will also browse the Internet to see if I can garner more information on optimal radiator lengths for use with a 9:1 UNUN.

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gorgeous day!

After a rainy start, it turned out to be a gorgeous Spring day. It was sunny and it was nice and warm, despite a stiff breeze. I was able to get to the car at lunchtime and worked two Swedish stations, SM5IMO and SM4NGT on 15 meters and IK2CIO on 12 Meters.  The nice thing about operating at lunchtime here, is that at that time, most of Europe is done with the work day and there are lots of stations on the air.  They get to relax and enjoy their evening, and I get some good DX.

Thanks to a comment from Kelly WB0WQS, I am taking another close look at LOG4OM.  I tried this a couple years ago and was having severe problems getting it to run properly on my computer.  They must have made a bunch of improvements, or maybe it's that the laptop I am using now is a better platform than what I had before. Whatever the reason, I downloaded it again tonight and installed it.  It's working very well and for now? Let's say I am intrigued.  It has most of the bells and whistles that are part of better logging programs these days. It is powerful with CAT, Cluster management and all the other "necessary" stuff.  It's free and it's easy on the eyes.

Here's an announcement that I saw in an e-mail today.  This looks way cool and is going to get me to try and get back in the swing with my bug (pun intended!):

W6SFM On-Air BUG ROUNDUP - Saturday May 17th 2014

This 12-hour event is not a contest; rather it is a time dedicated to celebrating our CW and Bug key heritage. Participants are encouraged to get on the air and simply make enjoyable, conversational CW QSOs using a Bug style key as the sending instrument. There are no points scored in this event, and all who participate are winners.

Once the event has concluded, logs can be submitted to the W6SFM by way of the link provided on the clubs Bug Roundup web page. Nominal prizes/certificates will be awarded to: the person who had the most QSOs during the 12 hour period; and the person who worked the most interesting amount of bug types. 

Bands            (Suggested Freq.)
10 meters - 28.040 - 28.050 MHz
15 meters - 21.040 - 21.050 MHz
20 meters - 14.040 - 14.050 MHz
40 meters -    7.040 - 7.050 MHz
80 meters -    3.540 - 3.550 MHz

W6SFM Bug Roundup is held twice annually.
- Every 3rd Saturday in May from 1700 UTC though Sunday 0500 UTC
- Every 3rd Saturday in November from 1800 UTC through Sunday 0600 UTC

Thank you for your participation and we hope you enjoy the event. 73

For more information on this exciting event please visit the W6SFM Bug Roundup website page by clicking HERE (

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

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Work has been a bear the past few days. The weather has turned decidedly Springlike, but yet I've been stuck behind my desk the past three days. No lunchtime QRP for W2LJ.  :-(

And to make matters worse, it's that time of year that we QRP Fox hunters go into withdrawal, as the season has ended. So I'm tired from work, but yet can't fall asleep, and I'm in Fox withdrawal to boot ..... so what do I do? I get on the air - that's what!

Tonight, I worked EA8TL on 17 Meters. He was one of the few stations that I was able to hear on the band after dinner, but was he ever loud. Like, across the street loud! I called Jorge, and got through on the 1st call with 5 Watts.

After that, I engaged in a nice ragchew with Jeff, K9JP, who answered my CQ on 20 Meters. Jeff was using a KX3 also, and was blasting into New Jersey with 4 Watts. He's also an SKCC member, so it was a 2X KX3 SKCC QSO! That's a lot of capital letters!

After the QSO with Jeff, I dove into the pileup to work W1AW/4 from Virginia on 80 Meters. I managed to break that pileup in about 10 minutes, maybe a little less. 80 Meters was a lot tamer than it was last Thursday night when I got skunked in the last hunt of the season.

All the while that I was chasing W1AW/4, I was also playing with the DX Labs suite of programs. Sometimes I feel like Diogenes, searching for the perfect logging program like he searched for an honest man. DX Labs looks like it's going to require a bit of a steeper learning curve than Ham Radio Deluxe. But it is very comprehensive and full featured. If I ever get the hang of it, I just may switch over.

Did I mention that my old, decrepit shack  laptop uses Windows XP? I turned it on for the first time since support ended and it didn't blow up!  ;-). (Like I thought that it would ... NOT!) Gosh, I'm getting punchy here, I had better try to get some sleep.

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

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Some more PX3 photos

Courtesy of Facebook postings:

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

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Disappointing so far

The QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party is today and tomorrow. I've been on for a bit today and so far band conditions seem to be downright horrible.  It seems I have an S5 noise level on just about every band except for 10 Meters, and there's not much in the way of activity.  I've worked three stations so far, including EA2LU on 10 Meters. Jorge is very active in just about all the QRP-ARCI contests.

I sure hope conditions get better as the afternoon draws on and that activity increases.

BTW, Harry K7ZOV commented on the site that the PX3 is expected to ship late June or early July.  That's a lot quicker than I had expected.  My birthday is coming up in less than a month. Maybe I'll treat myself - or maybe not.  Still have to think about this for a while.

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

Friday, April 04, 2014

Looks like I was right - for once! ;-)

I nailed it as far as guessing what the new KX3 product would be - the PX3! A small companion panadapter for the KX3.

No idea when it will ship and the asking price for the kit is $499.95. ($569.95 assembled) It looks really nice and I just might consider it for the shack KX3.  Time will tell. I'm not ordering it this weekend, even though Elecraft is taking orders already.  I'll let the guys who have to have every single piece of Elecraft gear there is jump in line ahead of me.

The downside is that now until the darn thing is being shipped, there will probably be nothing else discussed on the KX3 reflector.

Let the whining and peeing and moaning begin!

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

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wow! - And a mention about the QRP Marathon

It was quite beautiful outside at lunchtime today. Sunny and 64F (18C). Unfortunately, it's not going to last. Tomorrow is expected to be rainy with only a high of about 45F (7C). But I got to the car and enjoyed my time away from the desk. I only worked one station - EW1TZ on 12 Meters. Serge was 599+ in New Jersey and I received a 579 in return. I didn't mention that I was running QRP (I rarely do), so I will take that 579 to the bank.

This QSO was entered into the pot for the annual "QRP Marathon" which is sponsored by Oleg Borodin RV3GM and Club72. It's not a contest, but a QRP statistic gathering event. Basically, you add into a database your best distanced QRP contacts for the day. Here are some of the particulars from Oleg's website:

Date and time: April 1 (00.00 UTC) to April 30 (23.59 UTC) annually.

Only the following modes are usable: CW, SSB, DIGI (PSK, MFSK, HELL, Olivia).

All HF bands 10 to 160 Meters including the WARC bands.

There is no conventional exchange. The Marathon is not a contest. Add your Maidenhead locator (i.e FN20to, for example) and your output power in the report form. Participants are to use QRP power only from 1 to 5 watts output, the "other" station may use any power. Only 1 QSO per each HF band per each day (UTC) may be submitted. Use the QSO which gave you the best distance.

Any passive power attenuators or power dividers are forbidden. Only output RF power from an active component before antenna (transistor, valve) must be submitted.

Only QSOs covering a distance of 500 km (311 miles) or more may be submitted.

All the details can be found at The form and webpage are pretty well explained. You should have no trouble.

As of right now, I am 5th in a field of 13. That will drastically change as more QRPers enter and more entries are received. I usually end the month somewhere in the bottom half of the pack. But it's fun and it sure would be nice to see some other W/VE operators in there. I'm not sure as to whether or not you have to be a Club72 member to participate, but membership is free - so consider joining, if you haven't already.

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

Looks like I am in deep trouble

From the KX3 e-mail reflector:

New Elecraft product to be shown and announced this Friday

Wayne Burdick
Message 1 of 30 , Today at 1:49 PM
Hi all,

We'll be showing a major new product -- a KX3 external accessory -- at the Visalia DX Convention. You can test-drive one at our booth.

(By the way, I'm not referring to the 2-meter module. But that option will also be the subject of an announcement in the next week or two.)

Wayne, N6KR
Personally? I am going to predict that it will be some sort of panadapter/waterfall display type accessory.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Lunchtime QRP has still been good - and some announcements

The weather lately has been very early Springlike. Cooler than I would like, but suitable for QRP in the car without being uncomfortable. AND, the upper bands are still very active, which is nice to see. I thought I read somewhere yesterday that there was a massive solar flare headed our way. If that was the case, you wouldn't have known it from 10 Meters this afternoon. I worked SV1CQN, LI8OM, and UY6IM all on 10 Meters.Tuning around the bands, 12 and 15 Meters seemed to be jumping too.

A couple of things for this weekend. First from my friend Greg N4GKL:

Are you ready for a exciting amateur radio challenge? Deploy as a portable station make five contacts walk one kilometer deploy again and make five contacts. Continue for the four hour period. You could do the same moving three kilometers via car, motorcycle, bicycle or other vehicle. You have entered the world of Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio aka RaDAR. You will enjoy making tradeoffs in radio, antennas, and choice of operating frequencies. The four hour period puts you under a little stress to manage all the factors in real time. Hams worldwide practice RaDAR any time they can but there is the four hour RaDAR contest the first Saturday of April and November. The next RaDAR Contest is April 5th 1400 UTC to 1800 UTC.

In addition to on foot and vehicle categories, there are also portable and at home categories. Each category has a multiplier. Power is your choice QRP and up with multipliers. All amateur bands, besides the WARC bands, are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites. Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed. Call sign, Name, RS(T) Report, QTH and grid locator at least 6 characters and 10 preferred. There is a bonus for your first satellite or digital mode QSO. Also there is a bonus for your first RaDAR to RaDAR intercontinental QSO.

There are two contest managers: Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE for IARU 1 - see and Marcus Kessler NX5MK for RaDAR America see You will find the contest details at those links.

RaDAR originated in South Africa headed up by Eddie ZS6BNE. It has spread to the Americas with the efforts of Marcus NX5MK. There is a growing worldwide participation with the RaDAR Community on Google+.  See

Here's another link that Greg provided:

And, secondly from Karel OK1CF:


I'm the HF manager of Czech Radioclub (ČRK). Let me tell you to announced that the first OK-OM DX SSB Contest 2014 will be held second weekend in April (12-13.04.2014)

Thank you - I look forward to hearing from you!

73,Karel OK1CF HF Manager of CRK

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