Friday, March 31, 2017

Great news

for QRPers with REALLY long wire antennas:

The FCC has authorized two new bands for experimentation. 2,200 Meter (Yes, that's right - 2200 Meters) and 630 Meters.  Can you imagine having enough property to build a true 1/2 wave dipole?

2200 Meters will be limited to 1 Watt EIRP and 630 Meters to 5 Watts EIRP.

There are lots of rules to adhere to because "we" will be secondary on these bands, as they are used primarily by Electric Utility companies for controlling the power grid.

Click on the link above for more information.

ALSO ............ there's a new "NA5N-type" fun QRP Sprint debuting today/tonight (depending on where you live).

It's called the "Sasquatch Stomp" and it's sponsored by the Pacific Northwest QRP Group.

Here's "Da Rulz":

My official Sasquatch Stomp Badge

Tonight is our monthly radio club meeting, so I doubt I'll get much time to participate, but it looks fun, in the same vein as the "Zombie Shuffle".

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Long day, yesterday

'Twas a very long day, yesterday. After a full day of work, I immediately traveled to the Middlesex County Fire Academy for our CERT class on catastrophic bleeding control. To say that it was eye opening and intense would be an understatement. But of all the CERT training sessions that I have attended, this one was by far the best. No competition, there.

Our instructors included an EMT who works with Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Newark, NJ. That right there caused the needle on the "Impressed Meter" to go off the scale.  Another was an EMT who used to be in the Air Force and did two tours in the Mid East as a Casualty Evacuation Corpsman. (I was mentally debating, "Which is safer - Newark or Iraq?) The third instructor was an EMT who works with the NJ Medical Reserve Unit and he specializes in S&R and Wilderness Emergency Treatment.  We were in good hands for the evening. Very, very good hands.

The instructors taught us in the proper deployment and use of tourniquets, as well as how to pack a wound with both regular gauze and gauze treated with coagulant materials in order to control or stop hemorrhagic bleeding.  We also learned how to dress sucking chest wounds and how to do quick assessments for catastrophic injuries in the field.
The job for our trainers was difficult.  It had to be no nonsense, in order to impress upon us the need for speed, clear headed thinking, and acting upon a really bad situation without freezing or choking up.  But yet, they manged to keep the session light enough that we were not frightened by the task before us. These guys were the best, hands down.

As a CERT volunteer, sometimes you get the feeling that you're considered somewhat as "an outsider" by the local police and fire personnel.  They know their jobs, they do them well, and it can be very apparent that they consider CERT to be unnecessary; or just a bother, in their eyes.   I have to say that out of all the training that I have received so far, the guys last night, and the people from Homeland Security, who gave us our AuxComm training, were definitely different in that regard. Last night we were treated ......... what's the word I'm looking for .......... seriously - very seriously.  In their eyes, we CERT volunteers were just as valuable to them as any regular police or fire officer, or EMT.

I guess when you're in a situation where three minutes can make the difference between life or death, the gentlemen who taught us last night were very happy to have some good eyes, hands and minds out there in the field.  At the end of the evening, each of us were issued an IFAK - and Individual First Aid Kit, complete with supplies needed to make that difference.  I pray I'll never be in that situation where I have to implement it; but if I am, I'm pretty darned confident that I now know enough to save someone's life, if it comes to that.

Kudos to our three instructors and the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management for last evening.  We hope we'll make you proud.

As an aside, when I got home at 9:45 PM, my Harold was sitting in the bay window, faithfully waiting for me. What a good doggie; and just the thing to come home to after a very long day!

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New QRP Podcast

A new QRP Podcast - "The QRP'ian" - can be found at  This one is hosted by Mike Malone KD5KXF, and the first episode can be found here:

The guests on the first episode are Brian KB9BVN, who's a good friend and a fellow Flying Pig. Also appearing is Dave Cripes NM0S - a QRP Hall of Famer and a guy I enjoy following on Facebook.

I'm listening to Episode 001 as I type this and it is excellent!  It's like sitting around the workbench with your QRP buddies, shooting the breeze, while sharing a cup o' Joe.

I'm not big into following podcasts, but this is one that I will listen to on a regular basis. This and QSO Today will be my two favorites.

BTW, I'm going to a different kind of CERT training class tonight .... Bleeding control.  I have to high tail it over from work; as the class starts promptly at 6:00 PM. Should be interesting as it's a "practical" class with hands on experience. I was told we each get a tourniquet for our CERT kits, since we will have been trained on their proper use.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ham Cram

This coming Saturday, Marv K2VHW and I will be attempting our first one day "Ham Cram". Normally, we conduct Technician License classes over an eight week period, one evening a week for two hours with self study in between sessions.

The group that requested this did not want to go that route.  With the unpredictable winter weather that we have been having, that's understandable. Instead of the usual routine, we composed a "Technician Class Self Study Guide" which was issued to all the prospective candidates a month ahead of time.  We broke down the ARRL License Manual into four manageable chunks. We also provided links to appropriate You Tube videos, as well as other on line resources to accompany the material in the manual.

The session on Saturday will start at 8:00 AM and will break for a one hour lunch period at Noon. We will continue on to about 3:30 PM with exams following at 4:00 PM.  The half hour in between will be used to fill out 605 forms and all the other necessary paperwork.

Marv and I will be "going boldly, where we have never gone before"!

Wish us, and our candidates luck!

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Toothpaste works!

Yesterday, we had a work detail at the Middlesex County Fire Academy, where I volunteer as a RACES operator.  Our goal for the day was to assemble our UHF/VHF Go Kits, put them on the air, and make sure the antennas were marked, so that when they're deployed by the various municipalities in the county, that the SWR will be optimal.

As I was putting the kits away in the storage room, which is tiny, I heard a strange noise. I wasn't aware of what it was until I got in the car to come home.  I had my Wouxun UV8D on my belt, and I was navigating the storage room, I was unknowingly rubbing the face of my HT against the cinder block wall.

It was nowhere near as bad as the above picture that I found on the Web, but there were a few noticeable, long scratches.

When I got home, I went into one of our bathrooms to see what kind of toothpastes we have. I use AIM, which is a blue, minty gel (and is cheap); but my daughter uses Arm & Hammer Extra Whitening, which is a standard "white" toothpaste.  I put a tiny dab of that on my finger and made continual circular motions across the HT screen while slowly counting to 100 in my head.  I cleaned off the toothpaste with a paper towel and was happy to see the scratches were almost gone!  I repeated the procedure once more, and now the scratches are 99% removed. You can still see them slightly, but you have to know that they're there and you have to look for them.

So if you ever scratch the display of your HT (and it's not a touch screen), don't despair. A few minutes of your time and some toothpaste will fix that right up.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mag loop success!

After Sunday's discouraging outcome,  I decided to give the mag loop another little workout tonight during the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt. Even though I'm dog tired after a long day at work,  I had enough energy to give it a shot.

I must say that I'm getting pretty darn good at putting it together.  It's getting to the point now that I can be on the air within 5 minutes. I do need to get a better tripod, though. My little Buddistick minipod doesn't offer enough stability.

At any rate,  tuning the capacitor was once again a breeze, and I found Todd N9NE rather quickly. He had a great signal, as always;  and he's such a great op that it wasn't hard to figure his split.  I got him on my second or third call. What's nice about the loop is that I was able to rotate it for maximum signal strength from Todd. He was his usual strong 559 and I received the same in return.

Even though I usually have a pipeline to Todd in Wisconsin, it was nice to have another success with the loop. I'd still rather use a conventional antenna whenever possible, but it sure is nice to have another reliable RF arrow in the quiver. After some 39 years of "More wire ....... and the higher, the better!", it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that a 3 foot diameter loop at no more than a few feet off the ground works at all, let alone that it seems to work well. Physics and results don't lie, I guess.

Conventional wisdom isn't so conventional - again.  Maybe I need to go search for some of that "unconventional" wisdom.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bands were crappy yesterday

Saturday was a very busy, busy day for me.  I was determined to do "not much of anything" on Sunday, as a result of that busy-ness. It was still chilly in the basement; so I brought the magloop upstairs to do a little experimenting

First off, in my mind, the loop has proven itself as a viable performer on 20 Meters.  I have made several trans-Continental and trans-Oceanic QSOs with it.  However, I have not used the loop much on 40 Meters, or any of the other bands at all, if I remember correctly.

That said, I was itching to log some QSOs, so I started out on 20 Meters, where my previous success had been.  I was disappointed as I didn't hear many signals; and the ones I did hear were weak and watery.  On the bright side, I was able to find the "sweet spot" on the tuning capacitor as easily as I did before and it was pretty easy to bring the SWR down to about 1.2:1.

So I hopped to 40, 30 and 17 Meters, respectively.  On each band I was able to find the "sweet spot" on the tuning capacitor with ease.  The background noise would peak very easily and some careful tuning back and forth resulted in very respectable SWRs on each band.  But again, 17 and 30 Meters seemed to both be pretty dead.

40 Meters had a few loud signals; but it seemed everyone I heard was already in QSO. I wasn't able to hear anyone calling CQ.  Because of that, I called CQ on both 20 and 40 Meters.  No answers on 40 Meters, but there was a very weak answer on 20 Meters.  I could tell that a station was calling me; but I just could not pull them out of the background noise.  Whoever that might have been, I apologize.

In all I spent about 45 minutes playing around, mostly just band switching to see how quickly I could tune the loop after band/frequency hops.  Even with the 6:1 reduction drive installed, it was not long at all before I was ready to go after making a change.

Here's an RBN map of where my CQs were being heard:

Disappointed by the band conditions, I headed down to the basement shack to see if perhaps it was the antenna instead of the band being dead.  Nope - the Butternut HF9V and the W3EDP weren't hearing any better, if at all.  Just another one of those days of when you want to get on the air; but there's just not much doing.

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stella !!!!

Not done yet. For now, due to the storm sweeping in tropical warmth in the upper troughs, the precipitation has changed from snow to sleet and ice pellets.  As things wrap around, we should go back to snow within a few hours. So far, 7 inches on the ground and the antennas are still up; but the winds are starting to increase.

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

Monday, March 13, 2017


I "just" make it into the 18-24 inch area.  The boundary between us and less snowfall will be the Raritan River; and I'm north of it.

The reminds me of a snow event back sometime in the mid 80s when I was living in East Brunswick. We got rain; but my sister and I were in her car and we crossed one of the bridges over the Raritan and it was like driving through a door - rain on one side, snow on the other.

Weather can be a funny thing.  I just hope my antennas escape, unscathed. I never worry about the Butternut; but I'm always checking the wire during events like these.

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another cold weekend

Another cold March weekend in New Jersey.  The trees are budding, and the daffodils are quite sad as thry are being blanketed with snow.  We got just a coating yesterday, but the possibility is emerging for a MAJOR snow event this coming Tuesday.

Budding trees

Snow on the gound (not much ....... for now!)

Very disgruntled Daffodils!

And this morning, when I woke up, it was a very brisk 15F (-9C) outside.  Not my favorite time of year, by any means. It seems Nature is playing a game of tug-o'-war with Old Man Winter; and he's in no hurry to give up and go!

To warm my heart and to remind me of what's shortly to come, I received this certificate via email from the WWFF/KFF folks:

I am hanging on for dear life to the fact that soon, this cold weather will be just a bad memory, and that I will be in a park somewhere in NJ activating POTA entities - with the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair and a song (to the tune of CW) in my heart.

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

Sunday, March 05, 2017

C-c-c-c-old !!!!!

It seems surreal that just two Sundays ago, I was sitting in Washington Rock State Park making QSOs at a picnic bench. The temperatures were in the 60s (18C).  Today, I woke up and the thermometer read 8F (-13C). The temperatures took a nose dive on Friday and this weekend was frigid.  So instead of doing much operating, I spent Saturday and a bit of today cleaning the shack.

I'll admit it, I got sloppy and lazy the last few months. But on top of that, it seems the rest of the family used my little area of the basement as a dumping ground for cardboard, Christmas wrapping stuff and other effluvia.  I spent the day cleaning, tossing and organizing, and ended up filling up five large garbage bags.  I also cut up about a dozen cardboard boxes and consolidating them for our bi-weekly recycling pick up tomorrow.  I can now sit in my shack again without being totally disgusted with myself!

Here's a video tour of the somewhat cleaned up W2LJ shack:

I apologize for the video quality as it's not the best; and I'm still getting used to this.

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

Friday, March 03, 2017

QRPTTF 2017 announced!

Today, Paul Harden announced the theme for QRP To The Field 2017 - "A River Runs Through It" or, as he also refers to it - "Rivers On The Air".

To quote Paul:

Qualifying River: To avoid any confusion defining a river, creek, stream, canal, etc. – if it has a name, it qualifies, whether or not there's water in it when you arrive.  This would include dry river beds and arroyos (with a name) common in the Southwest.  Operate from near the river as safety or local facilities allow.

This year, QRPTTF falls on Saturday, April 22nd. It runs 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Local Time (so it varies from time zone to time zone).

The name of the river is a required part of the exchange, but you're welcomed to shorten it to something manageable - so something like the "Chattahoochie" won't be so daunting on CW.

There's no shortage of rivers, creeks and streams near me, so finding a suitable location to operate shouldn't be a problem.  QRPTTF is one of my most favorite events of the year and is the kick off to the Summer QRP Outdoor Operating season.  Once QRPTTF rolls around - you know Winter is definitely over!

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