Monday, July 30, 2018

FOBB Bust

As I was getting ready to head out the door for FOBB, my wife asked THE question, "Are you doing anything today?"  Without going into any longwinded explanation or making any excuses, let's just suffice it to say I didn't participate in FOBB yesterday. And to keep things straight, the decision was totally mine. I decided that I'd rather spend the day with my beautiful bride than behind the radio.

Priorities.

Bob W3BBO pointed me towards a neat video that I am re-posting here. It was done by Stan WB2LQF:


;

That's the same chair that I bought to use for portable ops. I like the idea of the tape measure counterpoise, but I don't think I want to permanently bolt the PVC tube mast holder to the chair. I'm thinking that perhaps bungee cording the mast to the chair (temporarily) will work better for me.

Hopefully, this coming Sunday may present some free time where I can experiment and see what works best for my circumstance.

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

Friday, July 27, 2018

K3WWP

OK, so I am going to channel K3WWP for a few minutes and do a tiny bit of statistical analysis of the Skeeter Hunt roster as it stands of this minute on Friday, July 27th.

111 people have signed up for Skeeter numbers - this is how it shakes out by state:

AR - 1
AZ - 2
CA - 2
CO - 2
CT - 1
FL - 9
GA - 2
IA - 1
ID - 1
IL - 8
IN - 1
KS - 4
MI - 1
MN - 2
MO - 9
MS - 1
NC - 7
NE - 1
NH - 4
NJ - 11
OH - 2
OR - 1
PA - 11
SC - 1
TN - 3
TX - 4
VA - 4
VT - 1
WI - 4
Undecided - 1

ON - 3
QC - 4

In 2012 we had 50 people submit scores - I do not have a copy of the full roster, but the highest Skeeter # that I see on the Scoreboard is 123. (40% approximately)
In 2013 we had 154 people sign up for Skeeter numbers - 71 submitted scores - 46%
In 2014 we had 158 people sign up for Skeeter numbers - 63 submitted scores.- 40%
In 2015 we had 167 people sign up for Skeeter numbers - 62 submitted scores - 37%
In 2016 we had 173 people sign up for Skeeter numbers - 80 submitted scores  - 46%
In 2017 we had 147 people sign up for Skeeter numbers - 52 submitted scores - 36%

I guess 2014 was when I decided to keep more complete records (or perhaps 2012 and 2013 are on an old computer hard drive that I no longer have access to), so the participation percentages for 2012 and 2013 can only be approximate. They're not far away from the other years, so I would assume the percentages are not that far off.

Surprises this year:

New Jersey has 11 participants, so far. That is a record for NJ. I know this is the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt; but in past years, NJ has had less participation. Way to go NJ!

Pennsylvania is no surprise. They are always represented well. Missouri and North Carolina are also always well represented, and they continue to be, this year. I am a little shocked that Georgia only has 2 Skeeters signed up, so far. Usually a contingent of NoGA QRPers sign up. Maybe something is going on in GA Amateur Radioland that weekend to preclude it this year?

Nobody has signed up from the Empire State? Wow!

Always glad to see participation from our Ham brethren from Canada. Hey guys, we could use more VE call signs! What say?

As always, participation from the West coast and the Great Northwest is sketchy, at best. I know we have a lot of excellent QRPers who live out that way. I hope we can hear more of them on Hunt day, which is in three weeks. Plenty of time to sign up - hint, hint!

In the past 2016 was our biggest year for participation and scores submitted. I'm sure that NPOTA was the driving factor behind this.

Last year, 2017 saw a downturn in participation and scores submitted. I think this was due to two factors - 1) The Skeeter Hunt was the day before the Big Solar Eclipse (people were travelling) and 2) the fact we were on the downhill side of the solar cycle. This factor may play a big role in 2018.

We'll see.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

ANOTHER QRPGuys offering.

This time, it's Steve Weber KD1JV's Morse Code trainer:


"The KD1JV Single Lever CW Trainer kit was borne out of a user request. It combines Steve Weber’s CW Code Trainer with an onboard single lever paddle. It retains all of the trainers features, receiving random code along with the ability to practice sending code with an onboard single lever paddle similar to our KX series, external straight key, bug, and paddles for a compact trainer. As with the basic trainer, the right to left hand switching is a simple jumper settable option.

The standalone through hole kit has all the components except a user supplied CR2032 coin battery that mounts in the pcb battery holder. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 4, due to some small hardware. Assembly time is around 2-3 hours, depending on experience."

For all the details - please visit: https://qrpguys.com/kd1jv-single-lever-cw-trainer

Always happy to report on any product relating to CW !!!

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

The best laid plans of mince and men .......

Some people advise against making plans, because they always seem to get messed up. But I am going to plan for Sunday and FOBB, anyway.

The weather forecast is for a partly cloudy day with virtually no chance of rain. The high temperature for the day, currently being forecast, should be around 85F (about 29C). So I am going to head off to Cotton Street Park, which is not to far away from home, as you can see - really just a matter of blocks. Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile or so, at the most.


There, the trees are tall and the shade is plentiful. We're talking trees which are easily in the 50 to 60 foot (15 to 18 meters) high neighborhood - good trees for throwing wire into. At this point in time, I will probably defer to one of my favorites, the PAR ENDFEDZ 40/20/10.

I have something new this year, that I bought specifically for these portable ops radio jaunts. It's a chair that I've seen some of my other South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club friends use - a chair from Harbor Freight.


That little side table (which is actually a little bigger than it looks in the photo) should hold my KX3 and my tiny blue LiPO battery quite comfortably. I have the pouches on the other side to hold a bottle of water and various miscellania - log book, etc. Cotton Street Park has no picnic tables, so this will come quite in handy.

In past years, I've used a standard sports type of folding chair (which required the use of separate camping table - something more to carry), or I have sat on the ground. The problem with sitting on the ground is that there are quite a few horse chestnut trees in the park, which produce these lovely little "conkers".


Accidentally sitting on one of the unopened pods can be quite hazardous to your backside!

I'm hoping band conditions will be decent, but am fully prepared for them not to be. That will not deter me in any shape, way or form as a bad day at Amateur Radio is still nicer than a good day at work!

Hope to hear you on the air Sunday!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Bee # 12
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

We need way more of this!

From the ARRL Website:


FCC Proposes $18,000 Fine in Louisiana Amateur Radio Interference Case 07/25/2018 The FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) proposing to fine Jerry W. Materne, KC5CSG, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, $18,000 “for apparently causing intentional interference and for apparently failing to provide station identification on amateur radio frequencies,” the FCC said.

“Mr. Materne was previously warned regarding this behavior in writing by the Enforcement Bureau and, given his history as a repeat offender, these apparent violations warrant a significant penalty,” the FCC said in the NAL, released on July 25.

In 2017, the FCC received numerous complaints alleging that Materne was causing interference to the W5BII repeater, preventing other amateur licensees from using it. In March 2017, the repeater trustee banned Materne from using the repeater.

Responding to some of the complaints, the Enforcement Bureau issued a Letter of Inquiry (LOI), advising Materne of the allegations and directing him to address them. Materne denied causing interference but admitted to operating simplex on the repeater’s output frequency. In June 2017, the FCC received an additional complaint alleging that Materne had repeatedly interfered with an attempted emergency net that was called up as Tropical Storm Cindy was about to make landfall. The complaint maintained that Materne “repeatedly transmitted on the repeater’s input frequency, hindering the local emergency net’s ability to coordinate weather warnings and alerts on behalf of the National Weather Service,” the FCC said in the NAL.

Local amateurs were able to track the interfering signal to Materne’s residence and confirmed their findings to the FCC, prompting a Warning Letter advising Materne of the complaint and pointing out that his behavior “as described in the complaint would be a violation of Section 97.101(d) of the Commission’s rules.” Materne responded to the Warning Letter to argue that it was legal to transmit on the repeater’s output frequency, further stating that “he was tired of this trash harassing me,” the FCC said.

In the wake of further complaints, FCC agents visited Lake Charles, tracked transmissions on 146.130 MHz to Materne’s residence, and monitored them for up to 7 hours. The agent reported hearing Materne “playing music on 146.130 MHz and warning other amateur operators that the local Amateur Radio club would not be able to conduct their net later that day.”

That evening, the agent watched as Materne drove to a location near the W5BII repeater, where, the agent said, Materne “began transmitting an amateur digital radio signal from a hand-held radio in his vehicle,” disrupting the net and failing to identify. Subsequently, the agent, accompanied by a deputy from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, approached Materne’s vehicle and confirmed that he possessed a radio capable of operating on 146.130 MHz. “Audio recordings captured by the agent demonstrate that the intentional interference ceased as the agent and the Sheriff’s deputy approached Mr. Materne’s vehicle,” the FCC said in the NAL.

The FCC said that based on the evidence before it, Materne “apparently willfully violated Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Commission’s rules by intentionally interfering with other licensed amateur communications,” and that he “apparently willfully violated Section 97.119(a) of the Commission’s rules by failing to transmit his assigned call sign.”

“[W]e find that Mr. Materne’s apparent repeated, intentional, and egregious apparent violations of Section 333 of the Act and Section 97.101(d) of the Commission’s rules warrant an upward adjustment of $10,000 to the proposed forfeiture,” the FCC said. “In applying the applicable statutory factors, we also consider whether there is any basis for a downward adjustment of the proposed forfeiture. Here, we find none.”

Thank you , FCC! Unfortunately, there's plenty more of this guy's ilk hanging around.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

So why do you do this?

I was asked in an e-mail ..... why do I send out so many certificates for the Skeeter Hunt? The person who e-mailed stated that I'd save a lot of effort, time and money if I just sent out certificates (or just e-mailed pdf files) to the top winners; and that I shouldn't bother with the rest.

Here's why:

This came in the mail to me quite unexpectedly, one day back in 2006.


The day it came, I hardly remembered even sending my score/log in. All I remembered was the great time I had, operating in the sprint. To earn a certificate for 5th Place and Top NJ Score (Who know? I may have been the only NJ participant!) was just icing on the cake!  QRP-ARCI didn't have to do that. It would have saved Jeff Hetherington a lot of effort, time and money. But he did it, anyway; and I'll never forget it.

I don't have and probably never will have DXCC Honor Roll plaque, or 5 Band WAS plaque, or any of the real prestigious operating awards like that hanging on my wall. But I do have this lil ol' certificate from a QRP sprint where I had a blast operating. That certificate occupies a prominent place on my shack wall; and it means a lot to me.

I guess my sending out so many Skeeter Hunt certificates is paying that forward. I can only hope the Skeeter Hunt certificate recipients garner the same amount of satisfaction that I did when I received that Hootowl Sprint certificate.

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

Monday, July 23, 2018

Don't forget !!!

This coming Sunday is the Flight of the Bumblebees. You still have time to sign up for a Bee number.

http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/ for the rules.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OzR8FvgVX9J2U0BsjPPg7uzqbuv4C93IAmf7hr8_5GY/edit#gid=0 for the roster.

We're having some pretty typical NJ Summer weather this week. Very sticky and muggy with a chance of thunderstorms every day this week. Typically, it will be sunny, and then 5-10 minutes later we'll get pouring rain. The cycle repeats all day long. But the weather for next weekend is looking promising as of right now (I know that this forecast will inevitably change as the week progresses).


If everything holds to form, I plan on walking to good ol' Cotton Street Park, here in town, where the trees are tall and the shade is plentiful. I know conditions are in the pits compared to previous years; but I've had good success with FOBB from Cotton Street Park in the past.  What makes it ideal is that it's close enough to home that I can get back in plenty of time to grill up something good for the family for dinner.

I got on the air yesterday afternoon, only to be disappointed by the lack of on air activity. I worked PY2J on 20 Meters and a couple of other stations. Yesterday was the Colorado QRP Club's Gold Rush sprint. The only person that I heard participating was Rick NK9G out of Wisconsin. I sure hope I hear more stations next weekend!

20 Meters seems to be coming somewhat alive only at night. After about 6:00 or 7:00 PM in the evenings (after 2200 or 2300 UTC), I will start hearing some European and South American stations, as well as stations from the West Coast and 7 Land. This is leading me to think that 40 Meters may well be the "money band" for FOBB next Sunday. Past years have usually yielded a close to equal number of station worked on 40 and 20 Meters. My gut is telling me it's going to be different this year.

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

This needs to go viral

Dan KB6NU's most excellent post for today. Everyone needs to read and do this:

https://www.kb6nu.com/recognize-awesomeness/

I can think of MANY local Hams, off the top of my head, who are so deserving; but yet never get the recognition they so richly deserve.

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

49 years ago, today

It all started the year I was born. When I was a mere 5 months old. our friends in Russia launched Sputnik. I am told that Amateur Radio operators the world over listened to the "Beep, Beep" of its beacon on their shortwave receivers. The "space race" was born and little did I know, as a tiny infant, what a big role that both Amateur Radio and that space race would play in my life.

Some of the earliest and most vivid memories that I have were watching the televised launches of both Alan Shepard and John Glenn on their history making flights.  By the time I got to grade school, Program Mercury was ending and Project Gemini was taking its place. I was hooked! I followed each mission with the zeal that only a kid can muster.

And then, when I was 12 years old ....... 49 years ago on this very day, we sat glued to our TVs to watch these ghostly images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon for the very first time!


What a time to grow up in! Back then it was like we could do anything we put our minds to. I think in the 70s we lost a lot of that child like innocence and the reality of national budgets, changing national priorities and the "lack of will" came crashing down.

But, oh, what a time it was while it lasted! I've always been and will always be a "fanboy" of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. And I'll always be a "fanboy" of Amateur Radio. Some things WON'T change - for me at least!

Hmmmmmmm ........ I wonder how many Hams worked on/in/for the Space Program back in those days?  I'm willing to bet "a lot"!

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Some Skeeter Hunt videos

Amazing what you can find on You Tube!

2012


2014


2015


2016

My thanks to the videographers and my apologies for the shameless self promotion of the Skeeter Hunt!

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Skeeter Hunt updates

First, my apologies to the winners of certificates from the 2017 Hunt.  Last night, I printed out the certificates. They will get placed into envelopes tonight and will be mailed later this week. I got an e-mail from one of the winners a few weeks ago, inquiring as to where his certificate was. That's when I had an "Oh, my gosh!" moment - or a Senior Moment, if you will.

I thought I had taken care of this last September or October !!!!  A few discrete e-mails of inquiry, on my part, to a few other winners revealed to me that I hadn't taken care of it at all. No one has received their certificates.

I hang my head in shame.


All I can say is the situation is being remediated and I will do my best to make sure it doesn't happen again.

As far as the 2018 Skeeter Hunt goes, 91 of you have signed up for Skeeter numbers so far. There's about a month left until the actual day of the event, so there's still plenty of time to get one. Just send an e-mail to w2lj@arrl.net and I will happily oblige your request. All Skeeter number requests will be acknowledged by a return e-mail. So if you don't hear from me personally with your number, please try again.

Remember, while going out into the field is highly encouraged ....... you don't have to in order to be considered a Skeeter. That goes also for Skeeters who get rained out. Use your number from home! No restrictions there.

Happy hunting and I hope to hear you all on the air on Sunday, August 19th.

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



Monday, July 16, 2018

Two more new ones from the QRPGuys

This is really neat - a Digital Power Port - https://qrpguys.com/qrpguys-digital-power-port


"The QRPGuys Digital Power Port is a handy way to turn a common sealed lead acid battery (SLA)  or Lithium (LiFePO4) into a convenient power source for your indoor, portable operation, or other projects. It can be used with just about any size battery and voltage from 3-30V, as it is attached to the battery with clear packing tape. It uses a digital voltmeter will with .1V resolution so you can easily check your capacity before you depart and while your are operating. The output is fused with an automatically resetting Polyfuse rated at 3.0A continuous/5.1A trip. There is a convenient 2.1mm pin coaxial power jack for charging. Output connections are captive S.S. hardware. This kit can be built in less than an hour. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 1 or 2, depending on your experience." 

This is going to be great for Field Day - I placed my order!

The other kit is a Digital Field Strength Meter - https://qrpguys.com/qrpguys-digital-field-strength-meter


"The field strength meter is one of ham radio’s earliest diagnostic tools that can be used in a variety of tasks inside the shack and out in the field, from detecting rf leaks in coax cables, testing antenna improvements, and aid in determining antenna emission patterns. The QRPGuys Digital Field Strength Meter can detect RF energy over the VLF-500MHz range with sensitivities from -80dBm to +10dBm. It uses the popular Analog Devices AD8307 logarithmic detector/amplifier, used in many popular VNA’s, coupled with an on-board digital voltmeter that has been modified to compare small signal changes of about 0.7dB, and display a relative digital reading. We also see use of this device as an RF probe for troubleshooting signal flow thru circuits. The sensitivity is equal to our retired RF Probe, and the BNC input jack is the input point to connect a scope probe for this use. It is powered by a 9 volt battery (not supplied) attached directly to the pcb, with a continuous “on” switch, as well as a “momentary” pushbutton switch for spot checking the presence of RF. There is a potentiometer to adjust the amplitude of the RF sampled, an SMA connector with antenna, and a female pcb mounted BNC for connection to longer antennas, probes or other test inputs. It does contain one SMT IC component (AD8307), but all the other components are through hole. The pcb is small, 2.50” x 2.75” (63.5mm x 69.9mm) and can be used without a chassis. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 3 to 4. Allow an hour or so to build, depending on your experience."

Once again, I have no affiliation with the QRPGuys, 4 States QRP Group, SOTABeams or any other company for whom I make product announcements. Just trying to keep the QRP community informed as to new offerings as I see them.

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

I played hooky

For those readers who are not from the USA - we have a saying here. When you're a kid, and you don't go to school when you're supposed to, but you go off and do something else that you would rather do - it's called "playing hooky".

I played hooky in more ways than one last week. First off, it was our yearly family pilgrimage to Lake George, NY, so I was on vacation and was "playing hooky" from work. At least it was an excused absence!

Secondly, I did bring the radio gear along; but I have to confess I did not use it much at all. This vacation was markedly different from the past ones. With Joseph and Cara being teenagers now, my time was not spent trying to keep them entertained. They are capable of doing that for themselves now. So I spent my time mostly "vegging", and "playing hooky" from radio, and just about everything else! . I listened to music, enjoyed the view and the fresh mountain air and napped - a lot! It was fantastic. If I felt like doing something, I did it. If I didn't feel like doing anything - I didn't. I was a real lazy bones all week. I can't remember the least time that I had the opportunity to do nothing - and boy, did it feel great!

I did break out the gear on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had some thunderstorms come through the area on Tuesday morning; but it cleared out and was bright and sunny in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the bands were dead in the afternoon. I worked my bud, Bob W3BBO on 40 Meters, but it was a real shorty QSO. We gave each other 339 reports. he was using his new to him HW-9 and it sounded good. We were both too weak to carry on a QSO of any length or substance, though.

Later as it got closer towards evening, 20 Meters started to open. I began to hear several loud DX stations from Portugal and England and Russia and the Ukraine. I managed to snare UX1RX that evening.  5 Watts from Upstate NY to the Ukraine with a magloop - not bad!


As an aside, two of my cabin neighbors were curious as to what I was doing and what I was using. I had the chance to explain all about Amateur Radio and QRP. Both were fascinated when I told them it was possible to work stations around the world using less power than a nightlight. So now, every time the one cabin neighbor sees me, he calls out "CQ CQ".

Knowing that the bands were dead during the day and not open until the evening was kind of an inconvenience and a disappointment.  Just as the bands were opening, it was usually time to make dinner, or go out and eat and spend some family time together. But that's what a family vacation is all about and I didn't want playing radio to interfere with or spoil those opportunities.  As my children are growing older and becoming college age, I know I won't get many more vacation opportunities like this.  They'll have their own lives to deal with and family vacations where we're all together will become more and more scarce.

Radio can wait - family comes first. Besides, Dad will have his opportunities to play in both the FOBB and Skeeter Hunt, which are coming up soon!

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

Monday, July 09, 2018

That ol' Summertime Classic

That's how I think of it, anyway ..... right up there with BBQs, lemonade, ice cold beer, pretzels, watermelon, ice cream and swimming pools ..... The 2018 Flight of the Bumblebees has been announced!  Thanks to Rich Fisher for putting this on from year to year, this event, along with QRP To The Field has gotten me "into" portable QRP operations more than anything else.



OK, so maybe I'm an Amateur Radio and QRP nerd, but what is more sublime than sitting somewhere in a nice shady spot on a hot summer day, making contact after contact with QRP friends around the USA and the rest of the world? The breeze in your face, the Bumblebees buzzing, the bands hooping with CW?

That's right ....... nothing!

This year, the last Sunday in July falls on July 29th and the contest runs from 1700 to 2100 UTC. So grab your radio, a hunka wire and make like a bee and get out to the field and pollinate those frequency bands! Get out of that musty ol' shack and enjoy the beautiful weather and sunshine. These are the things I dream about while I'm shoveling the pile of frozen over, rock hard slush that the snow plow leaves at the end of my driveway after every big snowfall.

For the rules, please go to http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/

For the roster, please go to https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OzR8FvgVX9J2U0BsjPPg7uzqbuv4C93IAmf7hr8_5GY/edit#gid=0

72 de Larry W2LJ - Bumblebee # 12
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

New offerings

The heat wave across the United States sizzles - and it must have something to do with QRP kits, because they're coming forth like rabbits!

First, from the 4 Sates QRP Group - The Murania


This is an AM Broadcast band radio - just like we used to have back in the 50s and 60s.  Remember when you used to have one of these? We'd sneak them to bed with us and listen to ball games or Jean Shepherd K2ORS on WWOR Radio out of New York City.

It's described as perfect for the 1st time kit builder. The price is a modest $35. This would be a great kit for youngsters or scouts, because unlike a lot of Amateur Radio kits - this is something that can be used immediately after they've finished building it.  The details are at http://4sqrp.com/Murania.php

The other offering is a Simple RF Probe Kit from the QRPGuys:


Coming in at $10 - this is a great item to have on your workbench for troubleshooting RF circuits. No RF output?  Go back to the beginning stages and see where the output stops. Trouble has to be there! For details - https://qrpguys.com/qrpguys-simple-rf-probe

You can always get one of these to have on hand if you have trouble with your Muriana - although, like most 4 States kits, I doubt you'll encounter any problems.

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

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Amateur Radio Curmudgeon - Reality or Myth?

So I had a conversation with Jeff KE9V on Twitter this afternoon.  It resulted when I saw the following tweet that he posted:


I have to admit, what struck me was the line, "just to annoy that one curmudgeon at the radio club who always tells others HOW to have fun".


Curmudgeon? Really?  A little background. As you know I live in New Jersey - in the Northeast, the USA's Home of Nasty. Driving on any of our roads, you're more likely to see "the bird" or the "five finger salute" as a stop sign or a traffic cone. Think of Frank Barrone from "Everybody Loves Raymond". That's an example of typical here in New York and New Jersey.

But yet, not in the Amateur Radio world. At least not that I've experienced, in the five or six local clubs of which I have been a member at one time or another during my Ham Radio career. So I answered: "Damn! In 40 years of Amateur Radio, I've never once ran into that fabled "curmudgeon" who actually tried to tell me HOW to have fun, other than by encouraging me to get on the air. For the most part, all of the experienced Hams I have ever met have been kind and enthusiastic."

And Jeff could not believe that. But to be totally honest with you - as God is my witness, with my hand on the Bible, I have NEVER run into anyone who told me (or anyone else that I've been near) HOW to have fun in Amateur Radio, or that something I was doing "wasn't REAL Amateur Radio".

I've encountered inebriated Hams on local repeaters. I've encountered "know-it-alls" who would tell you "THAT'S not how you make a dipole!", but would then show you how to.  I've even had Hams joke about my first few attempts at my homebrewed wire antennas. But I have never, and I mean NEVER, have I had a Ham tell me that something I was doing "was not REAL Ham Radio", or "That HAS to be done this way."

In fact, it's been just the opposite. Some of the most experienced Hams that I have had the privilege to know have been the most supportive and enthusiastic.  Take Jules WV2O (SK). He was a dedicated CW man. He was a Morse operator in the Merchant Marines. He didn't even know what a microphone was. In fact, I'm pretty sure he didn't own one. He had a really stereotypical gruff exterior that might have scared some people away.  He was exactly the type you might expect to say, "Pffft! If it ain't CW, it ain't Ham Radio!" But in fact, he was just the opposite! He encouraged all new licensees to experiment and find out what worked best for them. He certainly was an advocate for CW; but he never discouraged anyone from trying anything that might bring them joy.

And all the Hams I have had the privilege to know have been pretty much the same. Oh, they might make a comment about a new mode with something like, "I don't think that's for me" or something like that; but I have never, ever heard the words "That isn't Ham Radio" or insinuations to that effect.

Maybe I've been lucky. Maybe living in New Jersey gives me a thicker skin. We have a saying here in NJ, when we hear something we don't like, we say "consider the source." So maybe we just don't pay attention to or really even hear negative comments about how we enjoy our hobby. Maybe we ARE just different up here.

So I'll keep on searching for "The Curmudgeon" and while I'm looking for him, maybe I'll find Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.

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

Monday, July 02, 2018

Not holding my tongue

This is part of what I had in mind last week when I said I was holding my tongue.  Today, I am not. This appeared on the Facebook on the 13 Colonies Special Event page. It's a darn shame that anything like this even need to be posted!


From organizing and running something as simple as the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, I can only estimate the planning, and blood, sweat and tears that go into running the 13 Colonies event.  That it is so popular is a testament to the work of the organizers.

In addition to the on-air activity, comes the necessary log checking, QSL printing, QSL sending, certificate sending and everything else. But some people seem to forget that this is NOT the livelihood of the people behind the scenes. THEY ARE VOLUNTEERS. They are doing this because the love Amateur Radio, they love the United States and they love the Independence Day holiday.

Are they perfect?  No. No one is perfect. I am sure they make their share of mistakes. And I'm sure the amount of mistakes made are insignificant to all they get correct. But in an event like this, some people need to take a deep breath and take a step backward, instead of whining, yelling or screaming.  This is not worth sending your blood pressure into the stratosphere, for either the organizers or the participants. In the grand scheme of life, this is small potatoes, folks.

So just enjoy the event for what it is and let's all play nice and have a good time. Shall we?

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