Friday, December 07, 2018

QRP Field Day is not as hard as you might think!

There was a post on the 4 States QRP Group e-mail reflector, where one of the members asked if anyone from the group was interested in doing an all QRP Field Day effort.

It's really not that difficult a proposition and I heartily encouraged them to do so. SPARC and NJ2SP got started doing Field Day in 2014. A bit of background - we were founded in April of that year. Planning for Field Day only two months later doesn't leave you with much time, does it? I opened my big fat mouth and suggested that we just go to the local park, throw some wires in the trees and go from there.

Wow, did that take off!

That year we entered under the 2A Battery banner. We came in 3rd place in our category, 39th place out of ALL 315 stations running 5 Watts that year, 16th place out of 97 in our Division, and 7th place out of 44 entered in our Section.

I fully suspected that even with that great inaugural performance, the club would want to go QRO in 2015. To say I was surprised when they made it known that they wanted us to stay QRP would be an understatement! We've had a blast every year and 2017 was THE banner year for NJ2SP so far.

2017 saw us end up in 2nd place in our category, nationwide and 8th place out of ALL 321 stations running 5 Watts. 4th place out of 98 in our Division and 2nd place out of 36 in our Section.

In 2018 we placed a greater emphasis on "Elmering" and PR for Amateur Radio, in general. As a result, we didn't place as well as 2017. But hopefully with a few new members that we have introduced into our fold,  2019 will allow us to do all that AND get fannies behind the mic and key in order to get those QSO totals back up again.

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

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Elecraft's 20th Anniversary

It's hard to believe they've been around for that long. To celebrate Wayne Burdick N6KR was interviewed on Bob Heil's "Ham Nation" Web show.  Here's a link:

I haven't watched it yet, but will do when I get a chance.

I'll never forget that Field Day some 17 or 18 years ago when Bob W3BBO brought his brandy-new K2 to our PARC Field Day outing. One look and I knew I had to have one of them puppies for myself some day.

After a K1, a K2 and briefly a K3, I have settled on my KX3 as the day-in/day-out rig for W2LJ. It's equally hard for me to believe it's been over six years since I made that choice.

Where does the time go?

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

Monday, December 03, 2018

All is quiet

on the Amateur Radio front - sadly.

I've been to busy with other "nonsense" to give radio the time it deserves, lately. In fact, last week I missed both QRP Foxhunts. On Tuesday because my son was involved in an MVA (no one was hurt - just car damage - thank God!) and I just didn't have the heart to get on the air that evening. Thursday night I attended an ARES Connect webinar. The weekend was spent doing house chores and starting to get the house ready for Chrsitmas - decorating the outside, inside and all that jazz.

However, during my weekly Skype session with W3BBO, I decided which kit I am going kick off the 2018/2019 Winter Building Season with.

It's a cheapie little o'scope kit that I purchased from Bangood about a year ago. I know, I know - you're all thinking, "But Larry, you get what you pay for!" And that's true. I don't expect much from it. But if I can use it to trace signals on circuit boards, it will have been worth it.

Besides, it doesn't look very complicated and should go together rather quickly. Just what I need before jumping in with both feet with my QCX and Bayou Jumper.

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

To all my Amateur Radio friends,

May this Thanksgiving holiday bring you peace, love, happiness, warmth. comfort and joy. And may it bring you some pretty good turkey, too!

Of all the things I am thankful for this holiday, and there is lots to be thankful for - I am especially thankful for all of you who read this humble blog. Amateur Radio is a big part of my life and it would not be half as enjoyable as it is, without all of you sharing this experience with me.

May God continue to bless you all, in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tips for the budding QRP DXer

I've posted about this before; but maybe it's a good time to bring this subject up for the newer QRPers out there who want to get their share of DX.

You may have heard rumors that working DX as a QRPer is dang near impossible; or a Herculean task at the very best.  That's a rumor spread by those who don't know any better. I will admit, though, that working DX as a QRPer during the valleys of the sunspot cycle IS more difficult than when Ol' Sol is sporting a lot of freckles. But it can be done, you just have to be smart about it.

1) Use the best antenna you've got at your disposal, whatever it is.

2) Know when to cast your net. And that's what this post is all about. This coming weekend will be a VERY good time to cast your net.

The CQ WorldWide DX (CW portion) Contest is this weekend. Even if you're not a contester; or dislike contesting in general - this is still a great way to boost your countries worked total. When the sunspot cycle is at its peak - stations have been known to complete DXCC in one weekend! Don't expect that this weekend - even though NASA has confirmed that we are now on the upward leg of Cycle 25, it will be a few years before conditions become primo again. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun and work a lot of countries right now.

The exchange is easy, RST and your CQ Zone. That's it - no hellishly long exchange or serial numbers to have to remember.

Know when to jump in with QRP. This is the key to success. My advice is that unless your code speed is very good - and I'm talking 25 WPM or faster - you might want to avoid jumping in until Saturday evening at the earliest.  If you jump in at the sound of the starting gun, you're going to be hearing a lot of buzz saw sounds, and you'll probably be sitting at your bench with ????? floating all around your head.

The beginning hours of the contest is the province of the Big Boys and the Contest Pros.  Yes, you'll find stations to work and copy, but make things easy for yourself. Get to harvesting when conditions are in your favor.

So when are conditions in your favor? Experience tells me late Saturday night into Sunday - ESPECIALLY on Sunday. The previously mentioned Big Boys and Contest Pros have had ample time to work each other and now they become sharks. From the second half of the contest until the end, they're so hungry for new contacts (in order to bump up their QSO total) that they will take time to listen for less than 599 signals, and less than buzz saw code speeds.

This is when you go hunting.  Twiddle the dial a lot and listen for signals that you're comfortable copying and make your move. Don't try to send any faster than your comfortable with. You'll only mess up the exchange and will probably get asked for numerous repeats. Just send steady, copy-able code - the smoothest you can, and you'll be just fine. And even though you may not have a 599++++++ signal at the receiving end, you'll get you share of DX.

The main thing is, have fun and enjoy yourself, and watch your DXCC tally grow in the process.

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving humor

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in these United States of America. It's my favorite holiday because with the exception of the Black Friday nonsense (which has nothing to do with Thanksgiving) there's no hype like there is for other holidays. Just family, friends, food and togetherness with a big dose of thanks to the Almighty tossed in for good measure.

So I'll begin this week with a pun, courtesy of the ARRL - taken from Jeeves, who appeared in QST for many a year:

Courtesy of the ARRL and QST

Oh! Another thing to be grateful for, pre-Holiday! This coming weekend is the CQ WWDX CW contest, so during this week, there should be plenty of stations in exotic DX locations setting up, getting ready and testing out antennas and equipment. Keep an ear peeled for ATNOs!

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

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Unadulterated bragging

Some more Field Day results - the ARRL 2018 Field Day results are in the database.

As mentioned in a previous post, SPARC came in 4th for our category 3AB, Nationwide.

In our NNJ section, we came in 4th out of a total of 39 stations that participated in Field Day (all classes and categories)

AND, out of ALL the 2018 Field Day stations that utilized 5 Watts of output power - there were 276 - SPARC came in 17th

So all in all, NJ2SP placed well. However, no resting on laurels! I need to come up with a better antenna solution for the CW station, so that we can surpass 400 CW QSOs in 2019 and boost our total even higher.

Maybe a home made hex beam?

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018


I am stymied, perplexed and confused.

I had signed up to attend an "ARES Connect" Webinar tonight, to introduce ARES District Emergency Coordinators (DECs) and Emergency Coordinators (ECs - I am the EC for South Plainfield, NJ) to "ARES Connect". ARES Connect will be the new, online platform for reporting, scheduling and communicating about ARES activities.

I guess the Webinar was supposed to originate from ARRL HQ tonight; but because of our impending first Winter storm here in the NorthEast, the Webinar has been postponed for two weeks, until November 29th.


I thought that advantage of a Webinar was that it could be held anywhere and at any time, You know, attend a class from your home in the comfort of your PJs. Right? So if that's the case, why would the instructor(s) or facilitator(s) have to be in an office? As long as the material is in their computer(s), just dial into the company hosting the Webinar, or somehow connect to the proper IP, right?

Or am I missing something? There MUST be more to this than my simple mind thinks there is.

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Special Net tonight

The local Repeater Club, for which I am Secretary, is having a special net tonight, and I will be the NCS. Maybe a little back story is in order, first.

We used to have a weekly "Wednesday Night Information Net" for many years. The last iteration was run by our club President at the time, Jeff N2VHV. Jeff had COPD and when it became difficult for him to run the net, at times, either Rodolfo N2HRG, Pete KD2ARB or myself would pick up the slack.

When Jeff finally passed on, the net kind of went into "hiatus" mode, as no one really was able to make a weekly commitment. At a recent club meeting, we decided to try to revive the net, and I volunteered to serve as Net Control. However, I have SPARC and ARES commitments on three out of four Wednesdays a month, so the club agreed it would be a monthly, instead of weekly, net.

So far, in September and October, we've had decent, but not stellar participation. I am hoping that tonight will be different. Borrowing from the Catholic custom of November being the month in which we remember those who have gone on before, I decided that tonight's net will be a "Silent Key Net". Members who participate will be invited to share a special memory or story of one of our club members who have gone on to "The Shack in the Sky". For those who are newer to the club and are not familiar with any past members, they will be asked to share a memory or story about someone who may have played an important part in their time as an Amateur Radio op.

I am hoping that this will make the net a bit more personal and meaningful, instead of something that's perhaps a bit too routine and dry. I try to present a topic for discussion for each session, and I am hoping one that "hits home" will draw more into participating. I have sent out club e-mail notices for the past couple of weeks in order to let every member know what will be happening tonight. We'll see it it generates a bigger turnout.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Winter is settling in ...... early!

While talking with W3BBO last Saturday evening, during our weekly gabfest, he told me how Erie, PA had already received 7-8 inches of snow that day. While it's been downright chilly, wet and nasty in Central NJ, we haven't seen any snow - yet. Not of Erie proportions, but I see that we're expected to see about 1-3 inches of the fluffy stuff here between Wednesday evening and Friday.

It's rare that we get snow in these parts before Thanksgiving. I hope that doesn't foretell a long, cold, snowy winter.

But, in the event that is does, one has to be prepared. I have a PLETHORA of kits, just waiting to be built this Winter. How many I will get to is anyone's guess, but I would like to get my 40 Meter QCX and my Bayou Jumper done this building season.

In that vein, I saw one of these posted for sale on the Interwebs:

It's a Mustel G600 microscope/camera thingy that amplifies/enlarges the view of what's beneath it. As you can see, in the picture, they have it aimed at a circuit board. On Amazon, this model goes anywhere from $50 to about $70. The ad I saw on the Interwebs was selling them for $37.00.

I figured, "Oh, what the heck". Even if it turns out to be an under performer, it may help these old eyes check for solder bridges more easily and help identify component color codes and value numbers more easily. It's not like I have a spare $37 to throw away; but if it does half the job it is advertised to do, it will be a big help. The company that is selling them it called Gear Best; and this is the first time I've dealt with them. We'll see. I'll let everyone know how it performs and if I bought a pig in a poke (it wouldn't be the first time!), I'm not too proud to own up to it.

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

Saturday, November 10, 2018


It's not often that you wake up on a Saturday morning and experience something exciting that warms your heart to boot. Today was one of those mornings. Today was our club's monthly Volunteer Examiner Session.

We had three unlicensed people come in to take the Technician Class license exam. All three passed; and that in itself was gratifying. As usual, when a candidate passes the Tech exam, they automatically get an invitation to take the General Class exam. We tell the candidates, right off the bat, that if they haven't looked at the General Class License Manual, to expect to only get about 30-40% of the questions correctly answered. The important point is that they will have seen the exam, and when they study to upgrade, they'll have a better feeling on areas they may need to especially concentrate on.

The first two candidates did as expected and were pleased to go home with their CSCE (Certificate of Successful Completion of an Exam), hoping their call signs would show up in the FCC database some time later this week.

Our third candidate was special - he got 33 out of 35 answers correct! Not only did he earn his Technician, but also his General in the same sitting. Hoping that lightning would strike a third time, we encouraged Doug (his name) to give the Extra exam a shot.  He was hesitant at first, but then decided to give it a go.

Before he started, he asked to use the rest room and we found out a bit more about him. Doug's an engineer by profession, so that says a lot right there. But we also found out that he was a lapsed Ham. He got his ticket in high school way back in the 60s. His call sign was WB2GVE and he had upgraded to Advanced class before career and family pre-occupied his time so much that his license lapsed.

As soon as I heard that he had an Advanced Class license I had a gut feeling that he would pass the Extra this morning. In my 40 year career as a Ham, the Advanced Class exam was by far THE toughest of them all. The Extra Class exam was a cake walk, by comparison. It's a little tougher now that they did away with the 20 WPM Morse Code requirement; but it's still easier than the Advanced.

Doug came back in, sat down and got to work. About a 1/2 hour later or so, he sighed and handed in his exam and answer sheet. He was not optimistic; but I was. A few minutes later, I was able to tell him that he did indeed earn his Extra with some room to spare. To say that he was elated is an understatement. He was flabbergasted and the whole exam team was beaming from ear to ear.

With the exception of a couple of us, this was our (my) first time that a person has gone from unlicensed to Amateur Extra in one sitting. I'm sure it wasn't as gratifying for us as it was for Doug; but it was sure darn close!

And there's icing on the cake! Doug lives in South Plainfield, so he was heavily encouraged to join SPARC, where he will be welcomed with open arms. Icing on the icing (or maybe ice cream on the cake)? He's interested in QRP !!! Now THAT went a long way to make my morning!

And....... all THAT came after finding out last night that SPARC came in 4th Place, Nationwide, in our classification for Field Day.

So, without even so much as touching a key, or twiddling a knob, it's been a very good Amateur Radio weekend, so far.

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

Thursday, November 08, 2018

QCX Field Day

I saw this post of Facebook the other day:

It's so cool that they used two QCX transceivers for Field Day. Can you imagine how long they could last on a deep cycle marine battery or a solar panel?

My question is - I wonder where they got their Field Day results from?  The December 2018 edition of QST is not out yet - not even digitally. That's the only place that I know of where the scores are published.

It will be interesting to see how SPARC did this year. We had less Qs because we did a lot more "Elmering" this year. That's a big part of what the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club is all about - so if our score suffered, we're okay with that.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Old habits die hard

Even though it was a long, tough day at work, and anywhere from 9:00 to 9:30 PM seems to be my bedtime anymore - I gave in and joined in on the inaugural session for the 2018/2019 Winter Fox Hunt Season. I had a successful evening, which of course, is now going to encourage me to participate in the rest of the season.

40 Meters seemed to be in decent shape and Jerry N9AW was the first Fox that I found. He was the "upper" Fox, located between 7.040 and 7.050 MHz. He had a decent signal from the get-go. I called him a few times before he worked me, but eventually made it into his logbook.

Mac NN4K was a bit harder. I heard some familiar call signs that I knew were hounds and tuned down 1 KHz. Mac was indeed there, but weak - ESP weak. I could tell he was there and that was about it. So I hunkered down and kept listening. Slowly his signal rose, and he also changed from working split to working simplex. I threw out my call, thinking it was going to take a long time to work him, if at all. Much to my surprise, I actually heard my call sign come back to me. We completed the exchange and Fox #2 was in the log!

My "nemesis" was there again, using his scatter gun approach, but the tight filters on the KX3 really helped tune him out. Thursday night is the 80 Meter hunt. Now my appetite is whetted enough to give that a go and see what happens. Dave N1IX is one of the Foxes. He's a superb operator, "A1" in every sense - AND he is located in New Hampshire, which should be very do-able for 80 Meters.

I'm actually kind of looking forward to this, now.

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

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day 2018

To my readers in the USA:

These brave men, and many more men and women just like them, have been defending your right to vote since 1775.

Honor them - go cast your ballot.

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

It was 40 years ago this month .........

that I took and successfully passed my Novice exam and earned my license.

I had previously told ya'll how I wanted to become a Ham in high school, but ultimately gave up the quest for a while, as I couldn't learn the Morse Code. In October of 1978, I was reading the weekly Amateur Radio column, "Calling CQ" by Bob McGarvey (sp?) in the Sunday New Brunswick Home News Tribune. In that particular column, Bob announced that there would be an Amateur Radio class conducted once a week at nights, at North Brunswick High School.

I signed up for it and attended, faithfully. Memory fails me as to how long it lasted, but 8 weeks seems to be about right, as we started in September and the exam was in November. The two teachers were excellent and it was their method of teaching and explaining that I follow today when I conduct a Technician class along with Marv K2VHW. The one teacher that I remember in particular for being extra especially helpful was Ed O'Donnel K2YJE (SK). I probably owe the fact that I got licensed to Ed.

The license manual that we used was this one, "Tune In The World With Ham Radio", which I still have in my library today - and actually still refer to it from time to time. It was written in a "Ham Radio for Dummies" kind of style and made all the concepts easy to understand.

Morse Code was learned via the ARRL Morse Code tapes. I really stuck with it this time and for whatever reason, it was far easier for me to learn the Code than when I first tried. Looking back, I think that maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had no visual cues. There were no pre-printed out alphabet/character charts to look at or refer to. I learned simply from what I heard. And maybe, just maybe that was all the difference in the world avoiding the eye-ear-brain sequence and just going with the ear to brain sequence.

On the night of the exam, we were all pretty nervous. The instructors used the now famous "Novice Test Trick". Basically, they began by telling us how that they knew how nervous we were so there was going to be a five minute Morse Code "practice exam" that would allow us to get our our jitters out of the way.. "Just listen to the Code and try and copy along", they told us. This way we'd be more at ease when the actual exam began.

They played the QSO tape and we all copied it. They came around, looked at our chicken scratch copy and smiled and announced, "You all passed!" There was no multiple choice. You copied what you heard and you had to get at least one minute's worth of solid copy. Only then the written test was given. Again, my memory fails me as to how many questions that had on it, although I think there were 35 questions. And my failing memory is also telling me it was a multiple choice test, not fill-in-the-blank.

The big difference back then was that they didn't grade it immediately and you didn't know whether  you failed or passed. The instructors mailed all the exam materials to the FCC and you had to wait for a letter from the Government. In my case, that took about six or seven painstakingly long weeks.

I was at work at the camera store that I was employed at, at the time. It was late afternoon, close to closing time when my Mom called to tell me that the letter from the FCC had arrived. I asked her to open it shutting my eyes and crossing my fingers. "Your call sign is KA2DOH" she told me. "What was that?", I asked. I was so apprehensive about what she was going to tell me that I didn't even hear my call sign correctly!

But I had done it! I was a Ham! I had to build my receiver which was a Heathkit HR-1680, first, before I could get on the air. But get on the air I would - and I'm still there, 40 years later. And at least for me, it's as exciting now as it was back then.

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

Monday, November 05, 2018

A side benefit of being a Ham

Kit building and homebrewing have been a big part of my Amateur Radio career. Tinkering with electronics and the mechanical aspects of building kits has always been fun. In fact, that was what led me to a 20+ year career in electronics repair in the professional photographic industry.

Even though that chapter of my life has closed. the skills seem to remain. A week ago, my wife Marianne was opening the dishwasher when the handle cracked off in her hand. We were able to get the thing open and emptied, but the latch wasn't working well enough to keep the machine tightly closed for a wash cycle.

One YouTube video later, it became obvious that replacing the latch AND handle would be the easiest way to get the repair done. I ordered the part and replaced it yesterday. It was definitely NOT the most complex repair I have ever made in my life. I still give Amateur Radio credit though, because it's been through Amateur Radio that I learned not to have fear of, or have qualms about taking things apart and putting them back together again. And because of that, I probably saved a decent amount of money in the process.

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

W0OT !!!

I got 'em! I got W0O on 10.1067 MHz tonight. I thought that by the time I got home from work and then made dinner, it might be too late.

After dinner, I turned on the KX3 and the computer. Turning on Reverse Beacon Network, I saw they were spotted on 30 Meters, but close to an hour earlier. I decided to give them a try, anyway.

Tuning to the spotted frequency, all I heard was noise. "Drat!", I thought I was too late. But before I turned the radio off, I decided to switch from the W3EDP to the HF9V. And surer than heck, there they were!

As they were finishing up their QSO with someone else, I waited until they were done. I threw out my call as soon as they were done and got them first shot.

Igor gave me a 559, and I gave him the same. We finished up and Igor went onto another op. For good measure, I spotted them on the Cluster as well as QRPSPOTS.  I'm not eating candy, so this was my Hallowe'en treat.

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

Happy Hallowe'en

And please notice the correct spelling in the blog post title. It's Hallowe'en - not Halloween. Hallowe'en is actually a shortened form of "All Hallows Eve" - the vigil night before the Catholic Holy Day - "All Saints Day".

So be safe if you're taking your little ghosties, goblins or grand ghosties and grand goblins out for "Trick or Treat" tonight.

AND ........ when you get back to the nice, warm shack - keep in mind that my good friends from the MidMO Amateur Radio Club are putting W0O on the air tonight from Frankenstein, MO:

Frankenstein Halloween Funxpedition

​October 31, 2018

Sponsored by the MidMO ARC ​The special event will take place from Frankenstein, MO.  ​

CW and SSB operations.  ​

Monitor the spotting sites for frequencies.​ 

 Igor, Boris, Vlad or one of the other ghouls will be haunting the ether and digging for QSOs starting around 1900hrs UTC on the 31st. and operating until the bands go dead. Stop by and say BOO to the graveyard crew.  ​

For a unique QSL (4" x 6") card you MUST send a SASE to the address above. A No. 10 envelope is recommended. A smaller envelope will result in a folded card.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Random thought #9

9) The 2018-2019 QRP Winter Fox Hunt Season officially begins next Tuesday, November 6th. I haven't made up my mind as to whether or not I'll be participating this year. I sat out the Summer Season and I have to admit that I didn't miss it, too terribly.

20 Meters is always tough that time of the evening during the Summer. If the Fox is not in the Western third of the country, I usually listen to static crashes for 90 minutes.

While 40 and 80 Meters are way better in the Winter time, and I generally have greater success - I don't know how quite to explain this.  Since I'm not an avid contester, the competition factor of the Fox Hunts isn't really all that appealing to me.

I enjoy snagging the pelts and keeping up on my "working split" skills. That comes in handy during DX pileups. But being the first in NJ to snag the Fox, or keeping tabs on how I'm doing against the other Hounds is pointless, to me.

The Hounds in the center portion of the US have a decided advantage as they can pretty much work into all areas of the US, equally.  The Hounds on the West coast have it particularly tough, as they start earlier, so local time and band conditions conspire against them.

If I participate at all, it will probably be spotty at best. I'll probably start each hunt late, hoping that a certain Ham (who shall remain nameless) will have gotten both pelts before I even begin. His approach to Fox hunting is probably best described as the "shot gun approach" - call often, call long, and don't take a break to listen very much until you nab that pelt.  Truth be told, that's what been making it uber un-enjoyable the past few seasons. His signal is always loud for me, making participation a less than sublime experience, as I end up hearing a lot of him and not much else. I'd rather just skip the twice weekly frustration.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Random thoughts

Some random thoughts this morning - my mind's a jumble:

1) What would morning be like without coffee? I'm thinking a gray, fuzzy catastrophe.

2) Guess I placed about normal for me in the 2018 Peanut Power Sprint - 5th place for my category. Look at that wide gulf in points between 5th and 1st. Not even close, by a long shot.

3) Doesn't W3BBO do beautiful work? Whether it's a kit, a home brewed project from scratch; or a new work bench for the Hamshack - Bob does it well. If I had a 10th of his talent ..........

4) Here's another Ham who does beautiful work - art work - Jeff K1NSS. He has made available a new "CW - A1 - Forever" mug. Available at Dashtoons

5) I can't wait for the midterm elections to be over, here in the USA. You simply CANNOT watch a TV program without some kind of political commercial. Hey ........ politicians .......... I think your commercials aren't going to change anyone's mind at this late date.

6) The weather has been so up and down here in Central NJ this Autumn. Past few weeks have been on the chilly side. For Hallowe'en tomorrow, it's supposed to be in the low 70s. Indian Summer? Are we even allowed to use that term anymore?

7) Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend. That means darkness will arrive somewhere around 5:30 PM local starting next week. Sad ...... so very, very sad.

8) My friend Dave KD2FSI posted on Facebook that he worked a bunch of ATNOs in the CQWW SSB Contest last weekend. His excitement was palpable. The next best thing to working a new one yourself is getting to enjoy a good friend work one.

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

Friday, October 26, 2018


A relatively new Ham or perhaps just a new QRPer wrote to the KX3 e-mail reflector. In his post, he mentioned that sometimes he identifies himself as "QRP" and asked opinions if "that's out of line."

My answer was:

You're not out of line. But you might sometimes run into "QRP Syndrome", where you are being heard perfectly well, but as soon as you mention running QRP power, the QSB and QRM and QRN magically increase, exponentially.

Larry W2LJ

Now, so far the sample of answers has been low, but an unexpected tone has been developing. There have been what I would unabashedly classify as "snotty answers".

I would have expected better from the QRP community and I am hoping against hope these folks may be Elecraft users, but not necessarily QRPers. There's no reason to be snotty to anyone asking a question, especially a newcomer.  You can only make one first impression; and if it's a good one, it may be forgotten - but if it's a bad one, it's remembered FOREVER!

The QRP community, in my experience, has been a haven in Amateur Radio, where everyone that I have run into is friendly, helpful, enthusiastic and encouraging - almost like one, huge family. I'd hate to see that changing.

Fingers are crossed that as I monitor this post, the kind replies will far outnumber the nasty, self-absorbed, ego-inflated ones.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

PSA - QRPGuys has re-opened.

From QRP-L - a Public Service Announcement:


QRPGuys is open after the Summer recharge and announcing a new retractable tilt bail for your small project chassis. It can be seen at

Ken - WA4MNT

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ducie Island

Not having worked much in the way of new DX lately, I went on over to the ARRL Website to log onto Logbook of the World. With all the chatter going on about the Ducie Island DXpedition, I had forgotten that I had worked the island twice in 2008, back when all I had was the K2 and 5 Watts.

While I was there, I wanted to see what my current country total was.

It would appear that I am currently at 180 confirmed through LOTW. I have to apply (pay) for credits for these:

By my own count, I was at 160 countries worked via QRP. Of the ATNOs above, I'm pretty sure that New Caledonia, Mozambique and perhaps Namibia were 100 Watts QSOs. The other six were QRP, so that would bring me up to 166 worked with 5 Watts or less. I'd have to go back and refer to Log4OM to be 100% sure about that, though.

Once the sunspots come back, I'm closest to earning DXCC on 15 Meters. Only eight to go. Also, both 17 Meters and 10 Meters are close, but it's going to be years before band conditions improve enough to make those needed QSOs.  May be a retirement project at this point.

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mixed bag weekend

It was a mixed bag weekend, radio-wise.

I got a late start with the Zombie Shuffle. Due to not getting home from work until 6:00 PM and then dinner, I did not get started until a bit after 7:00 PM.  As the official start time was 4:00 PM local, I missed the first three hours and probably most of the activity.

I ended up working only three stations - AB9CA, NK9G on 40 Meters and N9AW on 80 Meters. I could tell there were some stations on 20 Meters, but they were at ESP level. I knew they were there and that was about it.

While talking with Bob W3BBO on Saturday evening, he informed me that he worked ten Zombie stations. He was wrapping up his operating at just about the same time I was beginning - so that right there tells me I pretty much missed the Zombie boat this year.

On Saturday, we set up at a local park in South Plainfield for JOTA - Jamboree on the Air, the annual Boy Scouts of America QSO Party, if you will. We had success working stations, but alas, no local Scout Troops came by to participate.

I think part of that was the weather - it was heavily overcast, at times misty, breezy and quite chilly for most of the time. I think the other part was that we could have done a better job publicizing that we were out there. I think for the next JOTA we will post to South Plainfield's two Facebook groups as to what we'll be doing. All the Troops in town knew, as one of our members, Harry KC2PGX, is a Scoutmaster, but perhaps social media might draw more people.

Dave KD2FSI brought a Jeep full of his portable equipment; and I brought forth my venerable portable backpack.

My KX3 set up at one of the tables under a pavilion. I think the most essential piece of the day was the thermos of hot coffee! To start, the coax was running out to the QRP Guys portable vertical, but after a while, I switched over to the PAR END FEDZ thrown up in a tree. I was not getting me the results I wanted wit the vertical. I should have used my Buddistick. My Jeep was close enough to where I could have just popped it on the roof with the magmount, and with a barrel connector and some extra coax I would have made it to my operating position. That setup has worked  so very well for me in the past. Too bad I didn't have the presence of mind to think of that on Saturday morning.  One of the hazards of growing old, I guess.

Dave KD2FSI making contacts on 20 Meters. We switched back and forth so as not to interfere with each other, but for the most part Dave stayed on 20 Meters while I stayed on 40 Meters.

Dave's Jeep Wrangler, on top of his drive on mast. This supported his 20 Meters Buddipole configuration. For 40 Meters, Dave put up his Jackite mast with the EFHW wrapped around it. In this case, he added a Buddipole HF coil and an elevated counterpoise wire.

You can't see it (at least I don't think you can) in this photo, but the PAR is going from my radio which was located toward the right hand end of the pavilion to the tree at the right hand end of the photo. In addition to a few JOTA stations, I also worked DF8CX with QRP power.

Much to my chagrin, I was not able to detect or hear any JOTA stations on CW on either 40 or 20 Meters. I brought the microphone along and used that to work the few JOTA stations that I was able to. Even though I was kind of out of my element, it was fun talking to the Scouts and I was even able to speak with a couple who were close to attaining their Eagle Scout status.

For the heck of it, I worked a couple NY QSO Party stations with the paddles, so it wasn't a total loss. And of course, as we were packing up for the afternoon, the sun started peaking through the clouds and began to warm us up. Just in time to go home.

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

New hat

It was time for a new call sign hat. The old one, which was my favorite for years got pretty gross looking. It was a khaki color, which turned out to be not the wisest choice I've ever made. I wore it everywhere and while doing everything and it just became sweat stained. Badly sweat stained, I might add - way past the sweat band and into the hat fabric itself.  What can I say? Doing yard work in hot New Jersey summers in sweaty work!

I tried several washings with Woolite, and that helped a little and extended the life of the hat a couple of years. But when you look at it, and say to yourself, "You're NOT wearing THAT, are you?" - you know it's time to retire it.

So I went back to where I got the old one from - Astrid's Embroidery - and ordered the Next Generation.

This time I went with Navy Blue, a dark color which will hopefully not show any sweat stains as readily. If past experience is any guide, a dark color is way easier to maintain with regular washings. I just fill the sink with tepid water after adding a splash of Woolite, soak the hat for a bit and then set it out on a towel to dry. That usually takes an entire day or two, but results in a brand new looking hat.

Like my old hat, this one has the same embroidery on the front, as well as the straight key on the side. This "Next Generation" features something new, the NAQCC logo on the other side and my name and call at the back, just above the adjustable band.

I really like the workmanship that WM8C provides. He really does produce a fine quality product. And I am pretty hopeful that with the proper care, this hat will last me way longer than the first one, now that I've made a wiser choice in color.

Oh, and by the way, while the old hat is retired, it might be better to say, semi-retired. I'll still use that one when I'm outside in the summer, mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, or whatever. In true Ham fashion, I'm too "personal economy minded" to throw a perfectly usable, if somewhat groady looking, hat away.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Made the Big Time!

For those of you who are paid up members of QRP ARCI, please take a look at the October 2018 edition of "QRP Quarterly" when it arrives in your mailbox.

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club is featured in an article this month.

The red oval is just my highlight, of course!

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Just a reminder:

The 2018 Zombie Shuffle is THIS Friday evening - October 19th, 2018.

Here's the link to the rules and details:

This is one of those "Fun" QRP events - I know, they're all fun - but this one has earned a rightful place in the QRP Event lexicon. To testify to that is the fact that this is the 21st annual Shuffle, the first one was held on October 30, 1998.  For an event to be entering its third decade of existence, especially in the QRP world attests to its popularity.

So come out and join the Zombies who will be shuffling this Friday night - remember ...... Zombies shuffle, because they can't run!

Any Morse Code "newbies" out there should especially take heart (I sense some kind of pun there). Since this is a "shuffle", medium to slower to really slow code speeds are highly encouraged. So, if you've never entered a QRP event before because you're not confident of your Morse ability - have no fear! This is the event for you! Just come and shuffle along with the rest of us - you will be welcome and you'll see how much fun an event like this can be. And you'll be hooked - guaranteed!

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Autumn glory

This past weekend, Marianne and I went up to Lake George. Not a long stay - we left on Saturday morning and came back home yesterday - Monday. No radio equipment taken, just some time spent with my wife (alone), with the two of us going North to enjoy the beauty of Nature.

Saturday and Monday were rainy, but Sunday was magnificent!

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Very disappointing

There was a post to a CW reflector that I belong to that I can sympathize with. In essence, the author stated that he was running a frequency last night as one of the NAQCC Anniversary stations.  A mini contest/sprint came along and he was run off the frequency that he had been occupying.

His complaint was that it appeared to him, at least, that the offending station hadn't bothered to listen adequately for activity on the frequency. Apparently, there was not much of a wait time after a "QRL?" if indeed there was a "QRL?" at all.

This is one of my pet peeves.  There are so many operators that will just jump on a frequency without listening AND without bothering to ask if the frequency is in use. VERY poor operating etiquette.

What's even more disturbing is that a lot of people who are responding to his post are dismissive, as his output power was QRP. - 5 Watts


Whether a frequency is occupied by a QRPer or not is not the issue! The issue is that one operator jumped onto an occupied frequency (seemingly) without bothering to adequately listen. Period. End of story.

Now, I'm fully aware that QRPers are often not heard all that well. That's understandable. Many is the time I've been knocked off frequency by a QRO station. If the station who knocked me off frequency "QRLed" a time or two AND gave adequate time to listen - I have no beef with that. That person did their due diligence and I cannot fault them - he/she couldn't hear me, they truly believed the frequency was clear. I get that - that's the way the cookie crumbles sometime.

But for someone to not listen beforehand and transmit blindly - or to send a "QRL?" and listen for only two or three seconds before starting to transmit is inexcusable in my book.  That so many ops of this somewhat prestigious group are so dismissive of this is disappointing to say the least. Smacks of snobbery, arrogance and entitlement.

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

Did you ever hear that phrase ?

"Genius is the mother of invention"

Dave Hackett KD2FSI has come up with another great idea.

This started a few weeks ago when we were doing that Amateur Radio demo for the Boy Scouts at Sandy Hook.  Dave spirally wrapped a wire around his 31 foot Jackite pole and was using it as an EFHW antenna. He bungee corded it to his portable ops pack as a self standing unit.  For the most part it worked until a stiff off shore breeze came up and threatened to tumble everything over. Realizing that discretion is the better part of valor, Dave removed the antenna from his pack and lashed it to the infrastructure of the wooden deck that we were operating from.

He (and I) like the idea of being able to use the pack as ballast, though. So in the best tradition, Dave went back to the drawing board. This is what he came up with.

By reinforcing his pack frame a bit, and then attaching some large clamps, he was able to accomplish what he first intended.

So he now has a deploy-able antenna for 20 and 40 Meters, but also for 80 Meters when he adds the coil. And since it's free standing, he has a solution for tight quarters or when there are no trees or other supports available for a more "conventional" horizontal wire.

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

QRP ARCI Fall Sprint this weekend

2018 QRP-ARCI(sm) Fall QSO Party

Date/Time:  0000Z to 2359Z on 13 October 2018

Mode: HF CW only.

Exchange: Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number Non-Members send: RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO Points: Member = 5 points Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

Multiplier: SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands. The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

Power Multiplier: >5 Watts = x1 >1 - 5 Watts = x7 >250 mW - 1 Watt = x10 >55 mW - 250 mW = x15 55 mW or less = x20

Suggested Frequencies: 160m1810 kHz 80m3560 kHz 40m7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants) 20m14060 kHz 15m 21060 kHz 10m28060 kHz

Score: Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier.

BONUS POINTS: None available for this contest.

Categories: Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m)

How to Participate: Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies. Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself! You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission: Submit your entry online at
Contest logs are not required for entry, but may be requested by the Contest Manager if required.

Deadline: Entries must be posted on or before 27 October 2018.

Results: Will be published in QRP Quarterly and shown on the QRP-ARCI website.

Certificates: Will be awarded to the Top 10 Scoring Entrants.

I will be away from the shack for this one, but the seasonal QRP ARCI Sprints are always fun!

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My sister knows me

My sister is four years older than me; and she knows her brother very, very well. She's on vacation, heading towards New England and yesterday she and her husband stopped at Hyde Park to visit the Roosevelt residence.

Last night we were texting back and forth as I was wondering how far north they had gotten and if the leaves are changing. She sent me this:

"Here's a pic from the "Art of War" exhibit. I thought of you."

No, no, no.  Of course, I'm not a WAVE nor have I ever been in the Navy.  But from hanging around her little brother, my big sister DOES know what a bug is; and she can pick out a Morse Code apparatus when she sees one.

I've often thought that if I could somehow travel back in time, there are two periods of American history that I'd like to eyewitness. The first would be our Colonial and Revolutionary War period. I'm a bit of a Revolutionary War buff and am fascinated with that era and our founding.

The second period of time I'd love to visit would be the World War II era.  To me, it would be a gas to see what the places I know so well today looked like 60-70 years ago. To see my parents and grandparents as their younger selves would be a blast, too. My grandparents on my Dad's side of the family passed away before I was born. It would be nice to be able to meet them, even if my identity had to remain anonymous. (The sci-fi fan in me knows all about changing timelines. LOL!)

The big thing for me would be radio, of course. Television as we know it was in its infancy and was not common. Broadcast radio was the rage. Although Amateur Radio was shut down for the war - plenty of ops were performing communication duties for the military. My Dad, who had no interest in Amateur Radio whatsoever was attached to the Signal Corps and was part of the group sent to Britain to work on the RADAR development project. Maybe that's where my radio gene came from! If I was living back then, I am pretty sure that I would either be doing something like that; or if I was classified as "4F' for whatever reason, I'd probably be doing radio repair.

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

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I am SO going to do this

next time I go for an eye exam.

Posted by KI8UM on Facebook

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

Monday, October 08, 2018

My weekend.

Unfortunately, my weekend wasn't as "QRP Heavenly" as I had anticipated in my earlier post from last week. On Saturday, the Simulated Emergency Test took out a big chunk of my day. In addition to that, grocery shopping, mowing the lawns and chauffeuring my daughter back and forth from the SATs pretty much killed the day.

Our SET exercise was a success, though. We simulated providing AUXCOMM for a freight train derailment in town with a fire and hazardous material spill as part of the scenario.

That meant that unfortunately, the Leaf Peepers Sprint was out of the question for me. And I am truly disappointed to have missed that inaugural event. My apologies to Tim W3ATB, who worked so hard on bringing this off.  As the Brooklyn Dodger fans were famous for saying ....... "Wait 'til next year!"

Sunday was a bit more generous to me. I was able to participate in the Peanut Power Sprint. But even there, I am such an idiot at times! I was going by previous years and started looking for activity around 4:00 PM EDT. Not hearing any, I thought maybe the bands were swallowed by a CME or other solar event. An e-mail from W3BBO alerted me to the fact the Sprint had been moved up two hours.  And I complain when people don't read ....... I'm just as guilty as the next person!

Much to my relief there was a decent amount of QRP activity at the proper start time (duh!). In all, I managed to work 18 stations. I didn't operate the entire time as the dinner bell rang at 7:00 PM Also,  I didn't set up as a portable station outside, either - I sprinted from the basement shack. With the PPS now running from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT, I didn't feel like disassembling the station in the dark - it's pretty much pitch black around here by 7:15 PM.

I hate this time of year. As much as I hate the cold that will be coming shortly, I hate the loss of daylight even more. Dark in the morning when I wake up, and dark way too early in the evening. I can't even mow the lawn after work now, as it's too dark by the time dinner is finished. That's just one more chore that now gets moved to already jam packed weekends. Ugh.

The ONLY good thing about this time of year is that 80 and 160 Meters will become usable again. Summer thunder static will decrease more and more each week as we head towards autumn type weather. You have to find your silver lining where you can get them.

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

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Break glass only .........

Posted by W6LEN on Facebook

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


Dit dit

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

QRP Heaven this coming weekend!

Not one, but TWO QRP operating events coming up this weekend!

Saturday, October 6th - the Leaf Peepers QRP Sprint

All the pertinent information can be found here -

Sunday, October 7th - the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint

All the pertinent information can be found here -

If you get a chance to participate, please do! These QRP Sprints, operating events, whatever you want to call them - they're a real labor of love. The guys and organizations who sponsor these do it out of love for Amateur Radio and especially for the love of QRP. Their one and only goal is that YOU have a good time. Your participation is the only way they know that their efforts are appreciated.

Besides, there's so much CRAP happening right now. Here's a chance to get away from it for a while, clear your heads and have some fun. This might be the greatest gift of all!

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Zombie Shuffle Announcement

An early date this year! October 19th. Here is the announcement, as posted by Paul NA5N to QRP-L:

Fellow Zombies, This year's Zombie Shuffle will be held on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. A bit earlier than usual due to Halloween being mid-week and to avoid the CQ WW SSB contest (which trashes evening 40M) and the ARRL CW Sweepstakes. With the poor solar minimum propagation, we don't need any more QRN/QRM to hinder making QSOs.

Contact Jan N0QT ... if you need a Zombie number assigned or you forgot yours (they're good forever).

If you're new to QRP, the Zombie Shuffle is an annual event just to get on the air, make some QSOs, and have a good, silly and absolutely meaningless good time while making a big score for only a handful of contacts.

This year's Zombie Shuffle is dedicated to our friend, Ron Polityka, WB3AAL (SK), our longest serving Elvis station and a contact in our logs sure to be missed.

If you would like to serve as an Elvis or Elivira station, just let me know.

Link to the Rules:

72, Paul NA5N Zombie #004

This is welcome news to yours truly! The following Friday is a regular club meeting night; so I would have missed most of the Shuffle were it to be held on the 26th.

Once again, thanks to Paul and Jan for hosting this fun event. A lot of people look forward to these "meaningless good times", and it's good to see that they are not going by the wayside.

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

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Success at Sandy Hook

It was one of the Top 10 Days of the Year, weather-wise. It was all we could have hoped and asked for - beautiful crystal blue skies and comfortable temperatures, With that, five intrepid Hams K2VHW, W2OU, KD2FSI, KC2PGX and W2LJ arrived at the North Beach Observation Deck at Sandy Hook, to set up a few HF stations and operate - and answer questions from visiting Boy Scouts from the 2019 Raritan Valley Camporee.

I set up the KX3 and ol' reliable - the PAR ENDFEDZ 40/20/10. The antenna was held up by my Jackite pole which was lashed to a kiosk some 50 feet or so away from our operating point.

Photo courtesy of W2OU

As usual, the antenna presented an almost perfect match and I was able to start making contacts immediately.

Dave KD2FSI had a bit longer to travel than the rest of us did; but he finally arrived to set up a SSB station.  He used a variant of what I was using, but instead of using his end fed as a horizontal wire, he spiraled it around his Jackite and used it as an end fed vertical.

For the most part, we both operated on 20 Meters and there was some interference with each other, but it was held to a minimum. It was a casual demonstration type of operation, so I would pound brass while Dave took a break and he would operate when I went idle. It worked out.

It got to be a bit too breezy for Dave's free standing vertical from his pack frame, so he ended up lashing it to a bit of the Observation Deck structure.

And we had visitors - lots of visitors. Here's a photo of KD2FSI holding court, explaining HF propagation and operation to a group of Scouts and their Scout Masters.

And Morse Code attracted its fair share of attention, too. Here's a photo of yours truly, working the bands and explaining how Morse Code contacts are made.

Photo courtesy of W2OU

And when Dave and I weren't engaging the Scouts, Marv K2VHW was front and center. Marv has a natural talent for teaching and his friendly and warm personality only make it more effective.

Propagation was not bad! Dave was running close to 100 Watts and worked Italy, France, Germany and a bunch of TX QSO Party stations. I stuck to 5 Watts (of course) and had my fair share of contacts which included Lithuania, France, Quebec (Malcom VE2DDZ - a Skeeter Hunt regular), UR3IDD/MM (have no idea where he was exactly, he didn't give his maidenhead square) as well as my share of TX QSO Party stations as well. I even had a few nice rag chews with Alan W4MQC and Bill AF4YF.

Photo courtesy of W2OU

On a clear day such as today, you can see New York City, across Raritan Bay.

In all it was great success. We made QSOs, and we showed the Scouts how they were made. We let them get a feel for the equipment (especially the Morse Code paddles) and they showed definite interest. Some of the Scouts and their Scout Masters will be in touch with us so we can help them earn their Radio Merit Badges. Did I mention that some of us (including W2LJ) are now BSA Certified Merit Badge Counselors?

From left to right - W2LJ, KC2PGX, KD2FSI, K2VHW, W2OU

Tired and happy, we closed up shop around 4:00 PM local time and headed back to our respective homes. The scouts returned to their camping area. I wish them well, as it's supposed to drop down into the 40s F tonight (7C). It's going to be a chilly night for them, especially considering how close they are to the water and any breezes coming off the cool water.

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