Tuesday, December 31, 2019

This works really well!

I loaded this onto my cell phone a while ago; and I don't use it all that much. When I do use it, it works very well!

I added W2P as a trigger to notify me when the Battle of Princeton special event station is active and on the air. I've been getting alerts all morning - SSB, FT8 and CW alerts. Now ........ if I was only home to be able to sit down behind the radio!

I would recommend this app to everyone. You can find it in the Google Play Store if you have an Android device. It's also available to use on your personal computer from: https://hamalert.org/about

If you are looking to be reminded when specific stations, countries, prefixes are on the air - then this is a really useful tool.

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

Happy New Year!

As we welcome in 2020 .........

....... remember that 2020 is a Leap Year - so you get 366 days to enjoy Amateur Radio in the coming year!

Bonne Année 
¡Feliz Año Nuevo! 
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda 
Buon anno 
Frohes Neues Jahr 
Gelukkig Nieuwjaar 
Gleðilegt nýtt ár 
Xin Nian Kuai 
San Nin Fai Lok
Mutlu yıllar 
Sťastný nový rok 
Godt nytår 
Hyvää uutta vuotta 
Godt nytt år 
Szczesliwego Nowego Roku 
Feliz Ano Novo 
с новым годом

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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Solar Cycle 25

From the ARRL Website:

Two Solar Cycle 25 Sunspots Appear


New Solar Cycle 25 is on the way, but just when the transition from Cycle 24 to Cycle 25 will take place is not entirely clear. On December 24, two new sunspots — one in each hemisphere — emerged on the face of the sun that exhibit the reversed magnetic polarity marking them as belonging to Solar Cycle 25. According to Hale’s Law, sunspot polarities flip-flop from one solar cycle to the next, the National Center for Atmospheric Research explains.

“The sun is currently in solar minimum — the nadir of the 11-year sunspot cycle,” Tony Phillips said in his article, “Reversed Polarity Sunspots Appear on the Sun” on the Spaceweather.com website. “It’s a deep minimum, century-class according to sunspot counts.” The remarkable sunspot scarcity has prompted discussion of a possible “extended minimum” akin to the Maunder Minimum in the 17th century, when no sunspots appeared for decades, Phillips said. “Such an event could have implications for terrestrial climate.”

“Today’s new-cycle sunspots (along with isolated new-cycle spots earlier this year) suggest that the solar cycle is, in fact, unfolding normally,” Phillips wrote, adding that a new Maunder Minimum does not appear to be in the offing.

Earlier this month, the NOAA/NASA-co-chaired international Solar Cycle Prediction Panel released its latest forecast for Solar Cycle 25. The panel’s consensus calls for a peak in July 2025 (±8 months), with a smoothed sunspot number of 115 and the solar minimum between Cycles 24 and 25 occurring in April 2020 (±6 months). If this solar minimum prediction is correct, it would make Solar Cycle 24 the seventh longest on record at 11.4 years.

Climate scientist David Archibald speculates that the Solar Cycle 24/25 minimum could occur as late as March 2021, and that Cycle 25 maximum might not happen until 2027.

“We are well into the Solar Cycle 24/25 minimum but [Cycle] 24 may not have ended yet,” Archibald said in a December 22 update on the Watts Up With That? website. “A solar cycle isn’t over until the heliospheric current sheet has flattened. And that could be as late as March 2021. Solar cycle amplitude does matter with respect to climate and the amplitude of Solar Cycle 25, from projecting trends from the last three cycles, looks like being about 80 in 2027.”

The Solar Cycle Prediction Panel agreed that Cycle 25 will be of average intensity and similar to Cycle 24.

In an article posted on NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center site, Scott McIntosh, the Director of the High Altitude Observatory at National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), stresses that Solar Cycle 25 will happen, “but a sunspot cycle could be small.”

Predictability comes with some physical understanding of the underlying process, McIntosh asserts. “The sunspot cycle is erratic,” he said in his presentation, “provocative of a chaotic, turbulent solar interior where sunspot progressions with time and latitude are the only tracers…”

Thank you for the news, ARRL!  Two new sunspots may not seem like much - but they're better than nothing. A portent of better conditions to come - something we can all hope for!

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

New Year's Eve possibilities

Lots happening this New Year's Eve - no excuse for NOT getting on the air! (Unless you have family obligations, of course. Family always comes first!)

40 Meter QRP Fox Hunt  - With two excellent Foxes - K4BAI in GA and NC4RT in NC.
0200-0330Z - search between 7.030 and 7.050 MHz - http://www.qrpfoxhunt.org/winter_rules.htm

SKN - Straight Key Nighthttp://www.arrl.org/straight-key-night

SKCC Slow Speed Saunter https://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/slowspeed/

W2P Special Event Station - Commemorating the Battle of Princeton and the "Ten Crucial Days of the Revolution"https://bit.ly/2ZD9XYQ

I'm sure this is nowhere a complete listing - probably lots of other events you can join in on.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Year end thoughts

As 2019 comes to an end and we get ready to begin a new decade, I've been having some year end thoughts.

One - Don't forget that this Tuesday evening (and into New Year's Day) is Straight Key Night. Besides getting on the air and pounding brass, a lot of our Ham Radio brothers and sisters will be putting their classic radio on the air. Straight Key Night is always fun as it's like stepping back in time to the days of the Golden Age of Amateur Radio.

Two - Bob W3BBO and I were shooting the breeze as we do doing in our weekly gab sessions. He asked me if I had any goals for 2020. I've been thinking about that; as I really didn't have any as we spoke - hadn't given it much thought, really.

But giving it more thought, I have come up with a goal. And the goal for 2020 is to do way more portable operating than I have in 2019. Whether that be POTA, PBMME's, QRPTTF, FOBB or the Skeeter Hunt, the goal is to get out in the great outdoors and get on the air.

The good Lord be willing and my knee and ankle hold out, I want to do a lot more than I did last year. I will be looking for a bit bigger backpack than what I have been using, as I need space for a few more antennas. I've been watching some YouTube videos on some guys who have been doing portable ops and it has been downright inspirational.

Three - More posting here, fewer quiet interludes - but not fluff  just to fill space- posts with substance

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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Looking forward to 2020

You might want to add these to your personal Ham Radio calendars. Thanks to Brian KB9BVN for posting these to QRP-L:

QRPARCI 2020 Contest Calendar

See details, updated rules:


JAN 01 - 2020 New Years Day Sprint (3HR)
MAR 14 - Spring Thaw Shootout (1HR)
APR 11 - Spring QSO Party (24HR)
MAY 24 - Hoot Owl Shootout (1HR)
JUL 12 - Summer Homebrew Sprint (3HR)
AUG 08 - European Sprint (3HR)
OCT 10 - Fall QSO Party (24HR)
DEC 03 - Top Band Sprint (3HR)
DEC 13 - Holiday Spirits Sprint (3HR)

And as Brian put it, "We have promises from Mother Nature that say the bands will be back big time in 2020.  Don't miss out on all the fun!"

Viva Sunspot Cycle 25!

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

Friday, December 27, 2019

I hope Santa was good to you

and brought you the Amateur Radio goodie that your heart desired.

I got something that I wanted the day after Christmas, but Santa didn't bring it. I worked W2T the special event station commemorating the Battle of Trenton on 40 Meter CW!  I happened to be down in the shack, tuning around on 20 Meters when W2T appeared on the Cluster portion of my Log4OM screen. I quickly tuned over there and was able to hear them, weakly via groundwave. After a few tries, I was able to complete the exchange. Just a little bit later, I got an e-mail from the Delaware Valley Radio Association, confirming the contact. Huzzah! Now I have to begin listening for W2P for the Battle of Princeton - they begin transmitting next Tuesday.

Last night was a QRP Fox Hunt 160 Meter Foxtravaganza. The normal hunts were suspended for this week due to the fact that the 40 Meter version would have been held on Christmas Eve. So last night, there was a free-for-all on 160 Meters for an hour. Any fox or hound could work any other fox or hound. I worked a total of seven stations, the best DX being Illinois and Virginia. It was a lot of fun and I could have done better if there wasn't so much QRN on the W3EDP. I used the HF9V for receive and the W3EDP for transmit. It wasn't an ideal situation; but it got the job done.

Lastly, I close this post with something light-hearted. Many of you may have heard this before, but maybe some haven't. I guess this should go under the "oldie but goodie" department.

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

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas is a coming

And the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny
Then a half-penny will do
If you haven't got a half-penny, then God bless you!

So Christmas is two days away! What's on your list (sounds like a Capital One commercial, eh?), that you've asked Santa to bring you?

A shiny new rig?
Perhaps a certificate for a new IC-705?
Maybe a DMR radio?
Perhaps a KX2 or a KX3?
A tower with a Hexbeam perched atop?

If I could ask Santa to bring me anything, it would either be an Alex Loop or a Begali Sculpture Mono.

The Alex Loop because it is probably one of the last things I would ever buy for myself, yet I'd love to see how it performs compared to my home brew version. Mine will not load on 15 Meters for whatever reason, I guess it's back to the drawing board for me.

The Begali key because they are simply the best! I have the Simplex Mono and it is superb! I am willing to bet the Sculpture is even more grand.

Here's hoping that you find the Amateur Radio goodies of your dreams under your Christmas Tree or next to your menorah.

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

Friday, December 20, 2019

For those of you into special events

Especially those related to the Revolutionary War - the Delaware Valley Radio Association will be putting W2T and W2P on the air to commemorate the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton, respectively.

These two battles, fought within days of each other were a turning point in the Revolution. The Continental Army was losing badly and with the coming New Year, enlistments were up and General Washington was looking at his forces being potentially decimated by soldiers leaving for home. These two victories were major shot in the arm, not only for the Continental Army, but for the fledgling new nation as well. 

In addition to the obligatory QSL cards, you can request (for a fee) a certificate which commissions you as a Lieutenant in the Continental Army Signal Corps. How cool is that?

For all the details - please follow this link: https://www.w2zq.com/w2t-w2p-special-events-2020/?fbclid=IwAR3FdraANHb0vHHRqvKkgWoNEDf4LOEne_wQJ0eb1BYAOlsEAxbr_okDQB0

I am hoping that 40 Meter ground wave will be sufficient to work them!

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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Not hopeful tonight

Tonight is the 80 Meter QRP Foxhunt. The two Foxes are K2MAX in Oregon and K4FB in Florida.

Of the two, I think I stand a better chance of hearing Florida; but I will probably just be intently listening to a bunch of dead air tonight. Both are a long haul for 80 Meters.

And I wonder why I have tinnitus?

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

Friday, December 13, 2019

Like I said

"It's a snap!"

In my last post, I mentioned that I renewed my license via the FCC ULS system. It is so easy! I thought for those who might be a bit intimidated by the process, that I would outline it here.

First, you go to the Webpage - https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/systems-utilities/universal-licensing-system

Then scroll down a tiny bit to the words "File Online" which will bring you here - https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp

This is where you log in. You will need to know your FRN (FCC Registration Number) which is on your license:

You enter that in, along with your password.  If by chance you don't have an FRN, you can obtain one by following the link right on that page. I would think, however, that since my renewal of 10 years is up  (and I have an FRN on my old license), then just about every current Ham should have an FRN printed on their license. If you forgot your password, you can also get that by following the link - right on that page.

Once you log in, it will take you to your license page. On the left hand side of the page, you will see a menu of things you can do in an amber-ish color. Click on "Renew Licences" and follow the prompts from there. Hit "Submit" when you are done and you will be given an opportunity to print a copy of your renewal filing.  Before you hit "Submit". please make sure your e-mail address that the FCC has on file is up to date and accurate. That's important, because in 24 hours you will receive an e-mail with a link to your "Official Copy" of your license - all ready to print out. It comes as a pdf file, so make sure to keep a copy of it somewhere on your computer or device.

And you're done! No fees for Amateur Radio licences, even for Vanity Calls - so no need to hassle with submitting a payment, anymore. Now all I have to remember is to renew the license for NJ2SP later in 2020.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

40 Meter QRP Fox Hunt - just as I expected!

Just like Charlie Brown on Halloween, I got a rock - nothing.  Never heard Don NK6A in California, but that was expected. I was able to hear Steve WX2S really well via ground wave. Couldn't get him to hear me, though, Kept switching back and forth between the HF9V and the W3EDP, which were giving me equal signal strengths.

Hey, but Christmas is just around the corner - maybe this is more appropriate:

On the bright side, I was able to log into the FCC Universal Licensing System in order to renew my license which expires in March, 2020. You can begin the renewal process 90 days prior to expiration. I'm probably at about 85 days at this point. It was super easy and the whole process took less than five minutes.  The tricky thing was remembering my password. Last time I used it was 10 years ago. I'm so glad I wrote it down ....... and remembered WHERE I wrote it down!

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tonight's the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt

and I am not hopeful.

The two Foxes are Steve WX2S in NJ, who is about 18 miles from me. Unless ground wave is possible, Steve may be too close.  The other Fox is Don NK6A all the way in California. I suppose if 40 Meters is way long, he is a possibility - but I'm not holding my breath. I hate to be such a "Debbie Downer" about this; but if I'm anything, I tend to be a realist.

However .......... and this is the wild card in this thing. A cold front will be going through our area this evening. Yesterday and today have been rainy days with temperatures in the 50s. That's supposed to change tonight, with temperatures plummeting and the rain changing to snow. The prognosticators are calling for anywhere between 1 - 3 inches of the white stuff for our area. Maybe, just maybe, that front will be conducive to me being able to hear WX2S via ground wave. Who knows?

I know that weather affects the VHF/UHF frequencies more than the HF ones, but one never know, does one? Propagation prediction seems to be as much an art as a science. In my most humble opinion, anyone who says they have propagation all figured out is kidding themselves.

The snow is coming at just the right time. I leave after work tomorrow to go pick up my daughter from college for Christmas break. The snow accumulation will be minimal, but some drivers around here tend to go absolutely insane as soon as they see the first flake. I generally refer to them as the "I Brake For A Flake" crowd. Then of course, you have the road runners who love to take snowy roads at 80 MPH.  When the roads are all white and slick, I tend to follow the advice of the turtle from the fable "The Tortoise and the Hare" ........ slow and steady wins the race.

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

Friday, December 06, 2019

Any writers out there?

Rich Moseson has put a call out on the QRP e-mail reflectors for articles:

Hi everyone,

I know this is short notice to be making this request, but CQ is looking for unique QRP-related stories for our annual QRP Special in the February 2020 issue. Have you made an unusual accomplishment, built and used something really cool with great results, taken your QRP station out portable and come back with a great story? Do you have a project article to share?

If you do, please drop me a note at and let me know your idea. We've got a short turnaround right now, so I'd need to hear from you ASAP and have finished articles in 2-3 weeks (before Christmas).

Vy tnx in advance and 72/73 for a great holiday season,

Rich W2VU Editor, CQ

Rich was kind enough to publish an article of mine in the 2014 CQ QRP Special Edition. I know a lot of you out there have some really cool experiences and some very good QRP ideas. 

Time to get published!

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

Thinking new antenna

I got one of the two Foxes in the 80 Meter Foxhunt last night - Randy NC4RT in North Carolina. I was not able to make myself heard by Wayne N4FP in Florida. He posted in an e-mail post-hunt that he was experiencing some S7 QRN. That didn't help my cause any. But a few of the other NJ Hounds DID work him - so I am thinking maybe it's becoming time to consider a new wire.

The venerable HF9 will remain the workhorse of the stable. But maybe it's time to replace the W3EDP. It's been up there since 2012, maybe it's time for a change.  I may go back to an extended double Zepp - or perhaps I need to read some of Bill Orr's HF antenna book that I recently received from CQ Publications. There's bound to be some good ideas in there.

In any event, it will end up being something I build myself and it will have to fit in my puny suburban lot. That's the good thing about wire antennas that you build yourself; generally they are pretty inexpensive. I have most of the winter to think about it. Late winter - early spring before the leaves pop out is my prime antenna stringing season.

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

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

A little bit of this and that .......

We survived our first snowpocalypse of the season over the past few days. The final snow maps published pre-storm forecasted 5-8 inches for the area of Northern Middlesex County, where I live. We ended up with maybe a 1/4 inch to 1/2 an inch? Not even close.

I had to drive my daughter back to college on Sunday for her return to school post-Thanksgiving. That was a hairy ride! Interstate 80, which is the road I normally take, was closed westbound due to motor vehicle accidents from icy roads. Google Maps took me a different and quicker way. But the trip was icy and when we arrived at the school, my Jeep was one big ice cube. My VHF/UHF mobile antenna and the broadcast radio antenna looked like icicles. And in fact, icicles were hanging off my side view mirrors!  Thanks be to God that I got her there safely and got back home safely.

Last night's 40 Meter QRP Foxhunt was another exercise in frustration.  The Foxes were Dan N7CQR in Oregon, whom I did not expect to hear - and was not disappointed. The other Fox was Dave N1IX in New Hampshire, whom I did expect to hear and work. He was weak all evening - 339 or maybe 449 at best - but I thought he was definitely workable. Sadly, it didn't turn out that way. I tried calling all session and was not heard. I'm sure you've all experienced this ...... a station that you can hear pretty well calls CQ ...... you call back ...... only to get another CQ right in your face. Argh! Maybe this is the Elecraft curse? Having a receiver so sensitive that you can hear stations that can't hear you back? I tried calling on both antennas. I really thought I would have been heard with at least one of them. Oh, well.

On another note - to stop me from whining ....... George Heron N2APB and Dave Benson K1SWL (two of the smartest and kindest gentlemen that it has been my privilege to know) have teamed up to produce the Phaser.

This is a kit radio, priced under 50 US Dollars, designed specifically to take advantage of the digital modes. It will also do SSB and puts out about 4 Watts.  The details can be found here: http://www.midnightdesignsolutions.com/phaser/.  It's a monoband rig and you have your choice as to which band you want to choose. There is even an enclosure kit available for it.

This may not be my cup of tea, but if N2APB and K1SWL have teamed up to provide something, you can rest assured that it will perform well and will be well worth the cost.  Thanks you, George and Dave for providing something that can still be built without having to resort to special equipment. That's becoming harder and harder these days with SMT becoming even more and more common,

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

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

Here in the U.S. of A., we are celebrating Thanksgiving Day - a day set aside (officially) by Abraham Lincoln back in 1863. We were in the midst of our bloody Civil War, but yet President Lincoln realized the many blessings that God has bestowed upon our Nation.

It is a day to take stock and to be thankful to our Creator for what He has given us - material objects, certainly but most importantly He has given us life, liberty and the right to pursue happiness. Personally, while I am grateful for all the material stuff - house, warm clothes, good food - I am most grateful for the love of family and the friendships and good relationships that I have the honor to partake in and enjoy. I am grateful to those who have had a hand in forming me and making me what I am today, I only hope that somehow I can pay that forward, and make a positive difference in other people's lives.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading this blog and continuing to be a source of inspiration. I hope that I can do this for many years to come and somehow increase the enjoyment that you get out of this greatest of hobbies.

On an Amateur Radio note. the QRP Foxhunts are "postponed" for this holiday week. If this were the NFL, this would be our "Bye Week". Instead of 40 and 80 Meter Hunts, Charles W2SH orchestrates a 160 Meter Foxtravaganza on Tuesday night. Everyone gets on and is "Fox and Hound" all at once. Everyone tries to work everyone and just have fun.

I loaded up the W3EDP, which is not really meant for 160 Meters, but ends up being better than nothing. I worked five stations, from Maine to North Carolina.

The map only shows three dots, but the stations worked were W2SH, N2RK, KK4R, K1WHS and NC4RT.  The local noise level is quite high, so half way through the event I started switching over to the Butternut HF9V for receive. Surprisingly to me, it served very well as a receiving antenna on 160 Meters and I was able to hear more stations with it, than the W3EDP, which were covered by QRN.

It was a good time and I look forward to the next one, which will be held Christmas week.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Elmering .... mentoring .... it goes both ways.

It was brought to my attention this week that my signal from my mobile VHF/UHF rig has been ..... crap lately. So I switched over from the antenna I was using to this little Comet dual band magmount jobbie. The difference became apparent to me immediately -as I was able to access a certain repeater that I had not been able to, for a while. I thought it was a problem at the repeater site .... stupid me!

So I began looking for a replacement in the DX Engineering catalog, and I decided on the Diamond AZ507RSP with the accompanying Diamond K702M mag mount. And then I really noticed the cover:

And it struck me, we ARE all Elmers; but not only in the classic way, that you are used to thinking about it.

You think of the classic Elmer scenario - an old timer takes a newbie under his wing and shows him the ropes. And that is something that those of us who have some experience should all do. But in thinking about it - the reverse is also true.  When you mentor somebody, don't be closed to the idea of learning a new trick or two from the person you are mentoring.

It has been my privilege to teach Amateur Radio classes and get new people into this hobby. It has also been my privilege to be a Volunteer Examiner and get new people into the hobby that way. It has been my privilege to pass on some of what I've learned over the years to these folks.

But in return, it has also been my privilege to learn from some of these new Hams. I have gotten new ideas and have looked at old things in new ways and have been inspired to try new techniques and methods from the very people that I have been "Elmering".

So don't be afraid to take the opportunity to be a mentor or an "Elmer". Don't ever think that you have nothing to offer; because I can guarantee you - you most certainly do. And don't be in the least bit surprised to find out that the person you are "Elmering" will be able to allow you to see things in a fresh, new way that you were never aware of before.

"Elmering" - mentoring - it's a two way street!

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

80 Meter QRP Fox hunt and the coming weekend.

Last night was the second 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt of the season. I did not fare as well as last week. I made it into Ed N9EP's log - twice. Again, the first time I worked Ed, he faded into the QSB. I worked him again some 9 minutes later and heard the confirmation of our exchange. My apologies to my fellow hounds for the dupe.

The other Fox was Tim KR0U in Colorado, who I successfully worked in the 40 Meter Hunt on Tuesday night. No joy this time. Tim was a whisper most of the night, occasionally coming up to a 339 or so when propagation permitted. I did hear him all night, but this was one time when persistence didn't pay off!  I called and called right until the closing bell, but could not make myself heard. It's frustrating as all heck when the Fox is calling CQ and you answer him and he calls CQ again, right in your face.

"I can hear him, how can he possibly NOT hear me ?!?" is a question that I often ask myself and probably a lot of you out there ask that, too. Such is the life of a QRPer. There are a couple things that you have to keep in your mind (and remind yourself, if you're me!) when you enter into the QRP game.

1) Propagation is NOT reciprocal. Just because you can hear someone; doesn't always mean the return trip is guaranteed. I am not enough of a propagation expert to explain why this is, I only know it to be true from life experience.

2) Sometimes QRN at the other end can be the problem. I can't tell you how many times, as a hound, that I have read where Foxes, in posting their logs, have apologized for high levels of noise at their end. If the local noise floor is quiet, all things being equal, I might make it into their logs. But if my signal is only about S4 or S5 and their noise level is S6 or S7, I'm not going to make it, am I?

Sometimes, that's how QRP rolls. You throw the dice, you take your chances. If things don't work out, don't get your undies all into a knot. There will be other times.

Next weekend is the CQ WW DX contest. I'm not into contesting these big contests. I'm a fan of the QRP Sprints that call for a shorter effort. What I like about these contests - this one and ARRL DX is that they allow me to experiment. I like to get on the air after the initial feeding frenzy is over. I like to lower my power to only a Watt or two, or perhaps QRPp and see how many DX stations I can work with uber low power.  Another thing I like to do is twiddle the dial, looking for countries I have never worked while running at QRP power levels. Maybe this year, I'll set up the magloop and see how many DX entities I can snare using only that antenna.

I'll come right out with an admission.  100% totally dedicated QRP'ers  (for whom this is like a religion) will find this admission ugly.  They'll probably want to tear my QRP-ARCI membership card into shreds for this, but here it is:

If I come across a country I that have never, ever worked before and it is an ATNO (All Time New One) - the dial on that KXPA100 is going right up to 90 Watts or so in order to try and add that country to my DXCC total.  Call me a heretic - declare me anathema - I don't care. I'm still a tiny bit enough of a DXer to try and claim as many as I can before I leave for The Big Shack In The Sky.  I know I'll never make Honor Roll. Admittedly, I'm not dedicated enough for that, but if an opportunity presents itself, I'll do everything I can to take advantage of it in order get a "new one" in the log book.

Have fun this weekend!

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Persistence pays off

Persistence is a virtue that you will need in order to become successful in QRP. Admittedly, some days it comes easier than others - especially when Ol' Sol has some freckles on his face. On those days, it can seem like fishing in a barrel. On the other days when it's hard, you can choose to either walk away, or keep your fanny firmly planted in the chair in front of the radio.

There have been plenty of times that I have taken either course of action, but last night the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunt was a "keep your fanny firmly planted in the chair" kind of night. That was surprising, actually. When I turned on the KX3 about 10 minutes before the hunt started, I was greeted with a quiet noise floor. About S1 with the Butternut, maybe an S unit higher on the W3EDP.  My initial thought was "Oh boy, the Foxes will be easy to hear tonight!"


The first Fox that I was able to hear was Tim KR0U, or "TC" as he was calling himself last night. Tim says that T and C are his two first initials. However, I think that it should stand for "Top Cat" because he is such a superb Amateur Radio operator.  But I digress.

I heard hounds calling in the upper half of "the woods" so I began listening about a kHz down. Slowly, I was able to discern that it was Tim they were working. I waited until he got louder - first ESP, then a whisper, and then eventually workable.  At about 40 minutes into the hunt, I became confident that I would be able to hear him if he answered me. About 5 minutes later, I got into his log.

I hate useless calling. I define useless calling as calling the Fox when conditions are such that you would not be able to hear him/her answer you. Why bother calling at that point? Chances are you're only going to QRM some other hound who has a legitimate shot at that point. Courtesy dictates not shotgunning it blindly, and only trying when you have a real chance yourself. Too bad more people don't heed that advice.

Once Tim was in my pelt bag, I went down to the lower half of "the woods" to listen for Jerry N9AW in Wisconsin. There is usually a pipeline between NJ and both WI and MN. It seems I hear stations from those two states as if they were down the street. Last night, someone dug up the pipeline and threw it on the trash heap.

The only way I was able to tell where Jerry had situated himself was by tuning around and listening for hounds working him. Again, I found some and I tuned about one kHz down to listen for N9AW - this time there nothing, nada, zilch. It was as if Jerry was a submariner and had rigged for silent running.

At that point, it was nearly 10:00 PM local time. I was tired from a very long day at work. The temperatures outside were dropping like a stone as a cold front with Arctic air was rushing through and it was starting to become chilly in the shack. I was really, really, REALLY tempted to throw the Big Switch, and go to bed and get under the nice warm blankets.  But for some insane reason, I decided not to - persistence kicked in.  Stubborn, insanely optimistic persistence had kicked in. Half of my brain was saying, "This is hopeless, you're never going to hear him, go get warm!"  The other half of my brain was saying "Be patient and stay the course!"

It turned out that listening to the latter half of my brain paid off. All of a sudden, with only about 10 minutes left in the hunt, propagation changed and Jerry popped out of the silence - and not just ESP, but loud enough to work  It was as if a curtain had been lifted, so I fired off my call a few times and I was pretty sure that I had grabbed the second pelt for the night. It was very difficult to be certain, though, as other hounds were calling him over, and over and over - right on top of me (Jerry was working simplex). Those last few minutes were like a shark feeding frenzy

Once the hunt ended, Jerry upped the Watts a bit and he sent "W2LJ UR IN THE LOG". I was thrilled to hear those dits and dahs! Thank you, Jerry and thank you stubborn, insanely optimistic persistence for keeping me in the chair!

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veteran's Day 2019

Happy Veteran's Day to all of you who have served. My utmost and heartfelt thanks to you for keeping us safe .......... and free!

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Field Day 2019 postmortem

Personally, Field Day 2019 was pretty much a disaster. Coming down with a stomach ailment in the middle of the night, making you feel like the Grim Reaper has a hand on your shoulder while standing on a banana peel was no fun. I didn't get to operate nearly as much as I has wanted to; and our QSO total was down as a result. Fortunately, Marv K2VHW and Bob WB2UDC and Bill W2AOF did take up some of the slack. Our results weren't as bad as I had thought they would be.

Field Day is not a contest; and the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club doesn't consider it to be one or operate it that way. We operate it as an emergency preparedness exercise and we try to push ourselves to our limits to see what we are capable of were we ever truly needed. So in that regard, we do like to see how we fare against other stations in our categories.

How we compared in the standings:
Top 11% all Field Day stations
Top 50% of 3AB stations
Top 10% of all 5W stations
Top 20% of Hudson Division stations
Top 24% of NNJ Section stations

Not bad, but not as well as we usually do. We're already making plans for 2020.  We may go with the Hexbeam for the SSB station from the get go, instead of relying on the "iffy" Mosley.  I am thinking of going with the MFJ-1982LP for the CW station instead of the W3EDP next year. And I definitely want to get a dedicated 160 Meter antenna going for the overnight QSOs for next year.

And I firmly resolve to stay away from anything that contains mayonnaise or any suspect cream donuts in 2020!

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

Friday, November 08, 2019

Every now and then

something happens that just makes your day!

I got an e-mail from Andre WI9AJR asking me to check out Page 83 of December QST.  Well, as a Lifemember and part of a captive audience, it seems like just about every Ham I know gets their QST before I do!  So I did the next best thing - I checked out the online digital edition and this is what I saw:

Two Skeeter Hunters, Andre WI9AJR and his son Etienne WI9EJR both passed their Extra exam upgrade on the same day. Father and son Extras !!! How cool is that? The fact that Etienne is wearing a NJQRP Skeeter Hunt t-shirt is just icing on the cake.

Way to go guys! Congratulations and I look forward to hearing you in the 2020 Hunt next August!

In the same edition, were the 2019 Field Day results. As I expected, NJ2SP wasn't quite up to snuff this year - but still, we had a respectable score.

A few of us came down with some kind of stomach thing and we were definitely not up to our "A Game". 2020 will be different - just wait until next year!

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

So how did the 80 Meter QRP Fox hunt go?

Quite well, actually. In fact, better than the 40 Meter hunt.

I had fears though. For 80 Meters my W3EDP is my antenna of choice. However, there is SOMETHING in the neighborhood that is giving me S9 QRN on 80 Meters with the W3EDP, right around the QRP frequencies (as luck would have it). I can hear much better with the HF9V, but I think I can be heard better when I transmit using the W3EDP.

Last night, it didn't seem to matter, though.  I was lucky enough to QSO with both foxes, even though conditions weren't the best from the beginning. Twiddling the dial, I came across the "upper fox" first.

Before I go any further, let me explain that terminology to those of you who have never taken part in a QRP Fox hunt.  The 80 Meter fox hunt playing field is from 3.550 MHz to 3.570 MHz, with the "half point marker" being 3.560 MHz, the QRP watering hole.  One fox hides in the upper half, and one in the lower half.  It's the same for the 40 Meter hunts. The "woods" are from 7.030 MHz to 7.050 MHz with 7.040 MHz being the "half point marker". One fox is the "upper fox" and one fox is the "lower fox" - or that's the way it's supposed to work. Sometimes they trick us up, or due to a DXpedition or some other thing, they may hide in the same half.

As I was saying, I was twiddling the dial and came across the "upper fox" which was Drew K9CW. He was fairly weak; and for IL to NJ on 80 Meters, I expected him to be a bit louder. I stuck with it though, and after numerous calls I finally made contact at 0226 UTC.

With over an hour left in the hunt, it was time to go look for Jim N0UR, who should be the lower fox. He WAS the lower fox, but was barely audible. That was surprising, because Jim is a lot like Todd N9NE. Whenever I hear either of them, I usually have to lower the AF Gain or they will both routinely send the ear buds rocketing out of my head. Jim started coming up and I worked him at 0235 UTC, but dang it! QSB kicked in just as I handed it back to Jim for the end of the QSO. Did he hear me? Did he ask for fills? Do I cross my fingers and hope I made it into the log? What's a hound to do?

I decided to sit there and listen for a while. As I heard other friends work Jim, eventually the string of hounds started to peter out. Around 0300 UTC or so, Jim started calling "CQ Fox" over and over and over again with no takers. Feeling pretty sure that I wasn't going to deny anyone else a QSO, I decided to go for an insurance contact.  This time at 0305 UTC, I was able to hear Jim from start to finish!

Both foxes posted their logs to the q-fox e-mail reflector this morning, and I was able to confirm I was in both their logs. The funny thing about last night is the way it ended. For most of the night, I really had to strain my ears to hear both Drew and Jim. It was pure delight when a "tuner-upper" came up on Jim's frequency while I had my AGC turned off! But for the last ten minutes or so from about 0320 to 0330 UTC, BOTH Jim and Drew came up to solid 599s. They both would have been easy pickings in the last ten minutes, but who knew the bands would change that way?

The best advice that I can give to anyone contemplating on joining in on the QRP Fox hunt fun is to work them as early as you can. If you're not sure you made it into the log, try again a second time only if the fox is lonely and is calling CQ with no takers. Sometimes there are hounds calling right up until the very end of a hunt and it's not cool to deprive someone of what may be their only chance just for your insurance QSO. That's when you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

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

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Fox Hunt season started last night

The 2019/2020 Winter QRP Fox Hunt season started last night - and I almost forgot!

I had a class that I was teaching that lasted a bit longer than anticipated. I got home around 8:30 and sat down on the couch to relax a for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into a lot of minutes. Around 9:15 PM, I realized that the season's first 40 Meter hunt was probably in full swing.

The foxes were Drew K9CW in Illinois and Kevin W9CF in Arizona. Twiddling the dial, I was able to soon pick up packs of hounds, so I had a decent idea of where the foxes were. All I could do was wait and see if the bands would change so I could actually hear the foxes!

It wasn't long before Drew popped out of the background where I happened to be listening and became audible. I sent my call and he answered me. I sent my exchange; but I never heard a "QSL" as the QSB kicked in. The next time I heard Drew, he was working another station. Did I successfully work him? Or was he looking for fills that I missed, resulting in a busted QSO?

Decisions, decisions! Do I work him again and possibly annoy him with a dupe: or do I cross my fingers and hope that I appear in his log?

I went to the other end of the band where I heard the other pack of hounds to listen for Kevin. Nothing. After several minutes of bending my ears, I decided to go back to Drew's frequency. He was louder this time, so I decided to try something a bit different. I lowered my power to 1 Watt and sent out my call again.  This time, I heard the exchange from beginning to end - a fox pelt was in the log!

I never did hear Kevin, not even a whisper. I guess 40 Meters just couldn't handle the New Jersey to Arizona haul.  This morning, when Drew posted his log, I saw that I had made it - actually both times! Even though I didn't hear his "QSL", he mentioned that two other stations besides myself had worked him twice, once at a lower power, so for the record he only reported the QSOs made with lower power.

The band was pretty quiet last night on both antennas. I heard Drew equally as well with the HF9V as the W3EDP. I worked him on the HF9V. Tomorrow night is the first 80 Meter hunt. In the past few years, I have fared much better on 80 Meters than 40 Meters. It will be interesting to see how this season pans out.

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

Monday, November 04, 2019

So I did it!

I replicated Dave KD2FSI's mast holder solution.

That is a 3 foot section of 2 inch PVC and a PVC coupler to serve as the guying collar.  I drilled three holes to accommodate the CamJams at more or less 120 degrees from each other. I didn't have a protractor to measure it exactly, so I had to eyeball it.

The CamJams come in sets of two, so in reality, I could have made four holes, 90 degrees apart from each other, but I've always been taught that the triangle is the sturdiest and strongest geometric shape that there is, so I went with that.

The Jackite fits in nicely and the CamJams actually take up enough space to eliminate a lot of the "play" between the inside diameter of the PVC and the outside diameter of the kackite. So far, this has come in under $20.00.  The CamJams were $7.48 per set of two, the PVC pieces were about $3.00.

The local sporting goods store did not have the tent pegs that I wanted so I ordered them from Amazon:

I had an Amazon gift card that my sister had given me for my birthday, so these didn't cost me anything. It was $7.00 for a package of 10, so if I had to purchase everything, this still would have come in at just about $25.

A much more "elegant solution" (my old boss at Sinar Bron, Ulrich Krahenbuhl liked that phrase - he was an engineer) than what I was using and a much easier way to insure the Jackite is as vertical as possible.  Thanks again, Dave!

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

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Zombie Shuffle let down

The Zombie Shuffle was somewhat of a let down this past Friday night. Granted, I got a very late start. The event begins at 4:00 PM local time and runs till Midnight, local time. Due to a series of events, I was not able to get started until 8:00 PM local time.

I was not prepared for the lack of activity. 20 Meters was absolutely void of Zombies, which was actually not all that surprising considering the hour. I was mystified by the lack of activity on 40 Meters. It was dead - pun NOT intended. I called "CQ BOO" for quite a while and received nary a reply. I checked RBN and I was getting out, so it seems like there were no Zombies on the band to engage in a QSO.

I got all three (Yay - 3!) QSOs on 80 Meters. One was in reply to a CQ and the other two were answers to my CQ. I ended up with a paltry score of 10, 659 points - which is inconsequential. I wasn't in it to win it, I was in it to hopefully score a bunch of QSOs to fatten up the log book. I remember past Shuffles when it was common to work 20 - 30 stations in just a couple of hours. This was tough business just pulling 3 out of the aether. I finally gave up when I actually did start nodding off at the key.

I am sincerely hoping that this is just the result of bad propagation and not due to a lack of interest. The Zombie Shuffle, sponsored by Paul NA5N and Jan N0QT is one of the most fun and light-hearted QRP Sprints on the calendar. It would be a shame to see its popularity fade.

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

Friday, November 01, 2019

I can always count on KD2FSI

Dave KD2FSI read my blog post and watched the video about the mast support that I posted the other day. He sent me a message on Facebook:

"Hey Larry,

I just finished reading your blog and watched the attached video about anchoring Jackite type masts and thought I would share a picture of my setup before you run out and buy ratcheting straps. 

I use cam-jam cord tighteners; they are lite-weight, easy to adjust and you don’t need hose clamps to attach straps to your PVC holder pole. I also use heavier tent stakes with a nail type head that can be easily pushed in or hammered in if necessary. This setup works great in grassy fields, but not so well on a rocky mountain tops or sandy beaches or any other place where you can’t drive in stakes. And that is why I came up with my pack frame mount. "

Dave was a software engineer by profession, and he has the ability to "think outside the box" that I only wish I had.  To me, he's like the MacGyver of Amateur Radio.  I look at his solutions to things and always end up thinking, "Why couldn't I think of that!" He has a gift, he truly does.

This looks like a less bulkier solution than those ratcheting straps.  I can use Dacron antenna rope that I already have, and a search online revealed that my local Home Depot keeps the CamJams in stock. I'll need to go and buy a new piece of PVC, anyway. For the life of me, I can't find where I put mine.

I emptied the back of the Jeep of all my radio paraphernalia when I moved Cara to college. I thought I put all of it back, but I can't find the mast holder!  I looked in the shack, I looked in the shed in the backyard - I have no idea where I put it. And it's not like it's a tiny thing, either. You'd think it would be easy to spot.

It's probably in the same place where all those socks go that are missing from the clothes dryer.

On a totally different note, we had a wild night last night! It was rainy yesterday and we had a high temperature of 72F (22C).  In the very late evening, I would say around 10:00 PM local time, an Arctic air mass started moving down out of Canada.  I had disconnected the antennas thinking we might get some bad thunderstorms. In fact, I got messages on the cell phone that we were under a severe thunderstorm and tornado watch until about 1:00 AM.

No thunderstorms, but some rain and some very gusty winds.  The weather station was reading sustained gusts over 25 mph.  How do I know this? I didn't sleep well at all with the wind howling past and shaking the windows. I couldn't sleep, so I would check the weather display from time to time rather than just toss and turn in bed.

So today, I feel somewhat like a Zombie from the lack of sleep, and that's very appropriate!  Tonight is NA5N's Annual Zombie Shuffle - hope to hear you on the air tonight. If I can manage to stay awake, that is!  Both of my antennas stayed up even though the wind tried hard to knock them down. The question now is, will I be able to stay up tonight; or will I just nod off at the key?!?

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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

FLARC Presentation - Part II

Here's the link:


Again, here's the link for Part One:


If you like what you see, please give the videos a "thumbs up" and please consider subscribing to FLARC's YouTube channel - there's a lot of good stuff to be seen there!

I thank you for your time, and I've embedded both videos on my "Mixed Media" page, for archival purposes.

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Oh ..... THIS is a game changer!

Thanks to John K3WWP for posting a link to this video on his diary page and to Don VA3BOW, who told him about it.

This is a game changer for me! I had never thought about doing this, this way. I always used the PVC attached to a piece of angle iron, which I then pounded into the ground. It worked fairly well, but was always a bit "iffy" if there was a gusty wind, or if the ground was particularly soft after a hard rain.  And then there's always the issue of pounding the angle iron "Straight" into the ground. I usually am a little off true vertical. This appears to be a much more accurate and secure method of doing this.  Of course, I could always combine the two methods, but for most instances, this seems adequate enough.

Off to Harbor Freight to buy some ratcheting straps!  This will make deploying the PAR and the MFJ a snap when there are no trees available.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Calling CQ

Just wondering ........

What's the best answer you ever got from calling "CQ"?

Mine was many years ago, when Tom Christian from Pitcairn Island answered a CQ of mine. I think it was 15 Meters, maybe 17 Meters.  Just about fell out of my chair!

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

I was going to wait on this

And I'm still a bit hesitant, but I'll post it now, anyway.

Part One of my presentation to the Fairlawn Amateur Radio Club has been posted on YouTube.


The second half has not been posted and this is kind of like an old movie serial cliff hanger. I'm not exactly sure when Part Two will be posted., but my point here is to suggest that you subscribe to FLARC's YouTube  channel.


Not to watch me, but because they've had a lot of good speakers including Joe Everheart, N2CX (SK), Joe Taylor K1JT,  Tim Duffy, K3LR and Alan W2AEW among others.  A lot of interesting topics have been discussed in a lot of excellent presentations. I've been doing some catch up, watching these on YouTube and I think you'll find them to be interesting and enjoyable as well.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Many have probably wondering what happened to Sean KX9X since he left the ARRL. For one thing, he moved back to Illinois. He's also operating the satellites and is actively pursuing portable ops. And he's blogging on the DX Engeneering site - "On All Bands". To read his latest follow this link:

Sean is one of the best and engaging bloggers in our hobby. His writing really gets one enthused and "raring to go" about some of the neater aspects of our hobby. I'll be adding "On All Bands" to the blog roll so you can all keep track of it from this page.

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

You learn something new, everyday!

KX3 owners - here's something that I didn't know existed. Guess I didn't RTFM well enough. From Wayne N6KR:

The KX3, like the K3/K3S and KX2, has full stereo audio. But it has one special audio effects mode the others don't: binaural-audio pitch mapping.

When pitch-mapping is in effect, stations lower in frequency are mapped lower in audio pitch, and higher-frequency signals are mapped higher in pitch. A station tuned to your nominal sidetone pitch would be in the middle.

This creates an audio "stage," of sorts, where it's easy to pick out different "instruments." The overall effect is to reduce listening fatigue in contests or anytime a band is crowded.

Headphones or dual external speakers are of course required to use PITCH and other binaural audio modes.

To turn on pitch mapping, set MENU:AFX MD to PITCH.


And here I thought the Dual Receive was one of the coolest features of the KX3. I am going to make sure this is turned on tonight!


And here's some more from Wayne !!!!

At Pacificon I discovered that some long-time KX2 and KX3 users were not aware of the Morse-audio feedback feature. This was provided for blind operators, but it's also useful for mobile, as well as too-tired-to-look-at-the-panel mode (e.g., halfway through Field Day).

To turn on Morse control feedback, set MENU:SW TONE to one of the "CODE nn" settings (nn is the code speed).

When this is in effect:

- Tapping switches or rotating controls emits their setting in Morse. For switch functions, a low tone indicates OFF and a high tone indicates ON.

- Morse feedback of the current VFO frequency can be obtained by tapping DISP.

- SWR and power output are also reported following TUNE or ATU TUNE.

Note for blind operators: We have plain-text versions of the KX2 and KX3 manuals available that physically describe all of the control locations.


How cool is this?

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

JOTA was kind of a bust.

This past Saturday, an intrepid few from the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club, and a few friends, set up in Putnam Park in town. Our goal was to get local Scouts from town to come and work other Scouts as part of Jamboree On The Air 2019.

As it turned out, no Scouts showed up.  I guess, once again, our second attempt at this fell short. We (actually Drew W2OU) DID speak to some Scouts up at the Watchung Reservation via the W2LI 2 Meter repeater. So in that regard we were successful, but we were really hoping to provide some Scout to Scout QSOs.  That's where the magic happens.

Drew W2OU talking with Scouts on the W2LI repeater while Bill W2AOF, Dave KD2FSI and Bill KC2PLO observe.

Bill W2AOF brought the VHF/UHF gear and I brought my KX3 and the PAR END FEDZ. Bob WB2UDC brought his K1 and that Elecraft AX1 antenna.

Bill W2AOF programming the W2LI and other JOTA frequencies into his VHF/UHF rig.

WB2UDC's K1 with the AX1 antenna attached.

I have to admit when this antenna was first introduced by Elecraft that I was very skeptical as to how it could perform. And I remained skeptical when Bob brought it and placed it on his K1.  But then I worked ON6VL with the KX3 and the PAR, which was hoisted up into a tree.

The PAR END FEZ in a nearby tree - you can see the coax going to the matchbox pretty clearly.

About five minutes later, Bob also worked him with that "thing" sticking off the back of his rig! I guess I'm too stubborn to see how that little bitty antenna is effective as an everyday QRP antenna. It goes against all those times the mantra of "Get up as much wire as high as you can" was driven into my skull. But I have to admit - it did work!  Bob even contacted a German station with it a bit later. So, OK ....... I'm still not buying one. The PAR and the KX3 got me a few more German as well as a few NY QSO Party contacts, so I was happy that everything worked the way it was supposed to.

Dave KD2FSI brought his HF/VHF/UHF rig along with his high power PAR and a VHF/UHF J-pole antenna, so we had that at our disposal, also.

Dave KD2FSI's set up.

We also had Marty WB2BEW show up with an old Swan rig. It was a friend's and he wanted to see if it still worked. He hooked it up to my PAR (I told him he had to limit power so as not to burn up the PAR's matchbox) and he was still able to make contacts - so he was pleased as punch!

 That's Marty WB2BEW to the front, right making QSOs with the Swan.

With regard to meeting up with and hanging out with friends, making a few QSOs, having some pizza for lunch and generally having a good time - the day was a HUGE success. With regard to reaching our JOTA goal of getting South Plainfield Scouts on the air and exposing them to Amateur Radio - not so much. The fact that it was a pretty chilly and at times, breezy day didn't help matters much. My hands were cold all day. I can't possibly see how Bill W2AOF and Dave KD2FSI were comfortable in just shirt sleeves. They both must have hot coffee running through their veins!

We've had great success at Camporees and at the recent JerseyJam, and I very much want to continue presenting at those kind of large scale events.  But I am tempted to bring up at our next club meeting that unless WE are invited by the local troops to give an Amateur Radio demonstration, that I think we're pretty much spinning our wheels inviting them and hoping against hope that someone will show up.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

FLARC Presentation

My presentation of "QRP, You and the Great Outdoors" before the Fair Lawn Amateur Radio Club went quite well Friday night. After a few opening technical difficulties, the presentation, which was scheduled to start at 7:00 PM, began a bit closer to 7:30 PM.

Several friends from other radio clubs showed up to attend and it was most appreciated. Alan W2AEW from the Raritan Valley Radio Club was there as well as Dave KD2FSI from SPARC and Don W2JEK from the Bergen Amateur Radio Association.  Seeing friendly and familiar faces in the audience was a great nerve calmer.

The hit of the presentation, at least in my mind, was the video by Sean KX9X and his QRP adventure at Pigeon Key, Florida for his Islands On The Air activation. A person can talk about QRP all day until he's blue in the face - but to see and hear actual QRP contacts from Florida to Alaska and Florida to France ....... well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Thank you so much, Sean, for giving me permission to include your YouTube video in my PowerPoint.  I think you may have won over more than a couple of QRP converts!

No one threw any tomatoes at the presenter and there were some thoughtful and good questions asked afterward, which I was able to answer.  There were 38 people in attendance and Ed Efchak WX2R, the Program Coordinator said that a lot of club members told him they enjoyed the presentation. So it all went well - and for that I am extremely grateful.

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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A challenge posted by Wayne NK6R

For the budding radio designers out there - a challenge presented by Wayne NK6R. I know this blog is read by a lot of people with tons more technical expertise than myself - and this seems like a most worthy project, so I am re-posting from QRP-L:

Hi all,

Someone recently told me that he'd benefitted throughout his life from learning Morse code as a teen. Ham radio helped him cope. He's gone on to promote Morse because it can help kids with certain cognitive or social issues. Such problems are exacerbated by social media, these days. We all know of teens who've ended up ostracized or worse.

He was wondering what the ham community may be able to do for them.

I proposed a simple ($5-$10), unlicensed CW transceiver (kit or assembled or both) that would put out maybe 1 milliwatt. It would serve as a code-practice oscillator for solo use. But with a short wire hanging from the PCB, kids could work "DX" -- like across a room, or better yet, outdoors.

This got his attention. I went on to describe a scenario that he found very plausible, based on his experience with Morse advocacy: You hand kids the little modules (just a PCB with a built-in 4x AAA battery pack, code key, antenna wire, and cheap earbuds), and ask them to try sending/receiving a few letters. The complete code would be silkscreened onto the PCB. After they try this, you say, "Now see how far apart you can get and still copy you friend's signal." This is where the magic happens, at least for those of us who have been leveraging action-at-a-distance ourselves for many years :)  It takes things a step beyond ordinary code practice. Connects kids to other kids. At best it could serve as a bridge to a world outside themselves.

I'm picturing the little rig as SA602 based, with one crystal for TX and one for RX, running so little power than licensing is a non-issue. Frequency? TBD. Something available in cheap fundamental crystals from Digikey. Each one would have its crystals offset slightly from the others, so the effect of having a number of them in one room might be a bit like being on a crowded CW band. Picking out the pitch of a signal of interest and copying it is a skill many of us have learned. I'm sure kids who are motivated would be able to do it as well.

It should not have debilitating clicks or thumps when keyed. The only control should be for volume. It should be full break-in, which at this power level is easily obtained.

This is a project I would gladly take on myself if not for my greater-than-full-time commitments to Elecraft products. I'm hoping there's a tinkerer out there with more free time who could start from a minimal description and design the little rig.  The gentleman I spoke to has been frustrated over the years in trying to get his message out, and in trying to find ways to take Morse code to a wider range of kids. He felt that this idea had a lot of merit.

If you're interested in this project, or know of something that matches this description that's already available, please contact me directly.


How about it, guys?

72 de Larry W2LJ - A builder of other folk's designs
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Hmmmmm ....... interesting!

From the ARRL:

ARRL to Launch New On the Air Magazine in January

ARRL is launching a new magazine, On the Air, in January 2020. To be published on a bimonthly basis, On the Air will offer new and beginner-to-intermediate-level radio amateurs a fresh approach to exploring radio communication. Each issue will include advice and insights on topics from the variety of Amateur Radio interests and activities: radio technology, operating, equipment, project building, and emergency communication. The goal of this new magazine is to be a vital resource in helping new and newer radio amateurs get active and involved in radio communications.

“On the Air responds to the brand new and not-so-brand-new radio amateur seeking ideas and answers,” said QST Managing Editor Becky Schoenfeld, W1BXY. Schoenfeld is part of the ARRL staff team that developed the new magazine. The planning included an extensive national-level study of new Amateur Radio licensees, identifying their motivations for getting licensed and their experiences of getting started. A focus group responded positively to a trial sample edition of the magazine.

“Too many new licensees never take the next step,” says Schoenfeld. “We’re excited to introduce a new Amateur Radio magazine for this audience, aimed at getting them active, getting them involved, and getting them on the air.” 

The first issue of On the Air will be published in January 2020 (January/February issue) and will be introduced as a new ARRL membership benefit. Effective November 1, when eligible US radio amateurs join ARRL or renew their memberships, they will be prompted to select the print magazine of their choice — On the Air or QST. Current members receiving the print edition of QST, upon renewal, may choose to continue receiving the monthly print edition of QST or the print edition of the bimonthly On the Air.

All ARRL members, including international members, will be able to access digital editions of both QST and On the Air. Members who already access QST on the web or from the mobile app will be able to access QST and On the Air starting in January. 


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

What a night!

We had a coastal storm / Autumn Nor'Easter blow through here last night. While the rain forecast was not up to snuff, the wind forecast was everything they said it would be! We were forecast to get between 2 to 3 inches ( 5- 7 cm) of rain last night, we only got just under an inch and a quarter. We ended up with 1.24 inches ( 3 cm ) of rain. But the wind ...... the wind!

When I arrived home from work last night, one of the first things I checked was the weather station display that hangs on the kitchen wall. There was no wind speed reading!  It was still raining pretty hard, so I took my flashlight, went to the backdoor and focused the flashlight beam to as small and tight a cone of light as possible. I aimed it at the weather station to see the anemometer cups were gone! A piece of flying debris must have hit them and knocked them off! All night, you could hear the wind howling past the windows. It was unnerving at times.

When I awoke this morning, and we let Harold out to do his business, I noticed the wind had knocked the patio table over on its side. After getting dressed, I went out to correct that and to look for the anemometer cups. Luckily, they were only a few feet away in the grass and I was able to find them easily. I snapped them back onto the anemometer axle and raised the sensor back to its normal height.
So far this morning, there have been gusts in the 16 - 18 MPH range. The wind has calmed down a lot since last night, so I can only hazard a guess that we were getting wind gusts somewhere in the 30 MPH range.

Luckily, the antennas both survived the Autumn storm. I never have to worry about the Butternut. It survived Hurricane Sandy, so I know it's not going anywhere. I do worry about the W3EDP, though. A segment of the wire is routed haphazardly through the branches of the Maple in the backyard. I always worry that enough wind will cause one of the branches to sway enough to snap the wire.  Not last night, though. I always say that will happen in the dead of winter during a blizzard!

In any event, I'm glad this storm is over and that I don't need to do any antenna repair this time around!

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

Oh ..... and by the way

The QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party start tonight!

2019 QRP-ARCI(sm) Fall QSO Party


0000Z to 2359Z on 12 October 2019

Mode:  HF CW only.

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

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

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

BONUS POINTS: None available for this contest.

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.

You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission:
Submit your entry online at https://www.qrpcontest.com

Printed Contest logs are not required for entry, but may be requested by the Contest Manager if required.

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

Not sure how much I'll be able to participate as I'm going this afternoon to pick Cara up for her first visit home since starting college. We have a very busy weekend planned, chock full of stuff.  If I get an hour somewhere, i will try to do my best to be a "giver of points" LOL!

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

Zombie Shuffle ...... with a twist!

Paul Harden NA5N announced the Zombie Shuffle rules for 2019 - this year, there a tiny twist, just a little something different.

QRP Zombies,

The 22nd annual 2019 ZOMBIE SHUFFLE will be held Friday evening, NOVEMBER 1 from 1600-Midnight your local time (EDT, CDT, MDT, PDT). The mid-afternoon start time is to get a little 20M propagation before sundown, and the midnight cutoff for those die-hard night owl Zombies. You do not need to operate all 8-hours, just what you can to join the fun.

Rules are here:
http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/2019/pg.htm and a link from the QRP home page: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/

Rules and scoring are unchanged. The Summary Sheet on the rules page calculates your score for you.

BONUS STATIONS:  Instead of "Elvis" stations this year, bonus stations will be sending their name as "MGY" -- the call letters of the RMS TITANIC.  It was the sinking of the Titanic that put wireless communications on the world stage and demonstrated the need for regulation and a body of licensed operators - including the creation in 1912 of a licensed non-commercial "amateur wireless service" - the hobby we enjoy today.  Thus, ham radio has its roots to the Titanic.  And for nostalgia, this year QRP Zombies will be given the opportunity to work the RMS Titanic.  Each MGY station worked will be 666 bonus points (just like Elvis stations in the past).  This also gives us an opportunity to put some morse code into the air to honor those pioneer radio ops and the sacrifices they made (for example, Titanic wireless op Jack Phillips perished on the Titanic).  Much of the morse code procedures, protocols, and Q-signals you hear on the air today are from those early maritime Marconi operators.

Our "main" MGY station will be Brian, VE7MGY.  Working him is worth even more points (see rules).

If you'd like to be an MGY Titanic operator for the Zombie Shuffle, please let me know.

So regardless of your code speed and band conditions, get on the air, have some pointless fun working fellow Zombies, and some unique nostalgia from 107 years ago.

72, Paul NA5N/MGY
Zombie #004

The Zombie Shufflle is always a fun event and I love it when Paul puts in these "twists" from year to year. It keeps it fresh and exciting. I'm also pleased with the date. If the Shuffle was a week earlier, I'd miss out as the K2ETS monthly meeting is always on the last Friday of the month. This year, I get to play!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Zombie # 858
QRP - When you care to send the very least!