Thursday, May 23, 2019

Field Day Public Service Announcement

Courtesy of the ARRL

Again, a hat tip to Jeff K9EV for posting this to Twitter

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

New QRP Group

Thanks to Twitter, I have come across what seems to be a relatively new QRP group, based out of Indiana. They call themselves "Fireflies QRP"

Right now, I only see a presence on Twitter and there is a e-mail reflector. Here is there Mission Statement (for lack of a better term):

"Welcome to the Fireflies QRP group. We are a group of amateur radio operators devoted to operating with low power, typically 5 watts or less. We embrace the spirit of doing more with less and operating outdoors. We encourage building your own equipment, also known as "home-brewing" and we are always willing to help someone new to the hobby. All are welcome to join, no dues... just fun!"

What I like about this group is, of course, their philosophy lines up quite nicely with my own. But it's more than that. Right now, their presence is just Twitter and the e-mail reflector. If I hadn't run across them on Twitter, I wouldn't have known about them - and ironically, that speaks volumes to me. To me it says that the group is more concerned with the hobby and having fun than anything else.

I look forward to keeping in touch with the Fireflies. Who knows? Someday I might even get the chance to get out to Indiana! In the meantime, I hope to meet and work many of them via the ionosphere.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"175 years old you say?"

"Why, you look don't look like a day over 30!"

Seriously, this Friday marks the 175th Anniversary of the first public use of Morse Code. Interestingly enough, May 24th in 1844 was also a Friday.

The Smithsonian Magazine has an article about it -

It's a pretty good article for those not versed in the Code and its history. The author claims to have a connection with Amateur Radio, but a search of his name on QRZ didn't prove to be conclusive.

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

FDIM 2020?

The kids are in college and don't need Dad to chauffeur them, anymore.

For the next 52 weeks, $20 a week into an envelope to pay for hotel, gas and food come next May.

Possible? I certainly hope so! Maybe I can finally meet a lot of you, face to face for once.

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

QRP and non-QRP Events this coming weekend

As I've mentioned before, this coming weekend in the US of A is Memorial Day weekend. In addition to the true meaning behind Memorial Day itself, the weekend is the unofficial kick off to the Summer season.

My good friend Jim W4QO put this post on the new reflector. He has some good advice here:

I know many of you could care less about entering a contest but there are two in the next few days that you should consider.  Go to: Notice that there does not seem to be much going on this week, but

1. WPX is Saturday and Sunday.  This is a great contest for the QRPer as you work anybody anywhere.  It is a CW contest and this is a chance to test our your equipment, if nothing more.  Get on and look for someone calling CQ.  I'll tell you, by Sunday afternoon, they will be begging for your QRP signal.  If your callsign is somewhat different (not a simple W or K like mine) that makes you even more valuable.

2. The QCX Challenge (  Please note that you do not need a QCX to operate in this one; heck, you do not even have to be QRP (yikes!).  It is a bit different as it has 3  separate periods during the day on Monday.  The first session is 9 to 10 AM Monday morning in the east US.  If nothing else, let's honor Hans who gave a very nice talk at FDIM by getting on in
record numbers!

Jim W4QO

This Sunday in Central NJ is looking to be partly sunny/cloudy with a high of 87F (31C). A nice day to either get out to one of the local shady parks; or perhaps just operate from the backyard patio. I got the table and chairs cleaned last weekend and got the umbrella up. It makes for a nice operating position with quick access to a lot of ice cold water in the fridge!

Keep in mind - we are currently about two weeks away from the 75th Anniversary of Operation Overlord - D Day. I'm sure there will be plenty of Special Event stations on the air to commemorate the history of that very significant day. As I find them, I'll try to post them here. Here are two from the ARRL listings:

06/01/2019 | W2W D-Day Commemoration

Jun 1-Jun 9, 1300Z-2200Z, W2W, Baltimore, MD.

The Amateur Radio Club of the National Electronics Museum (K3NEM). 14.244 14.044 7.244 7.044; 80 meters (3.544, 3.844) and digital modes possible.. Certificate & QSL. W2W D-Day, P.O. Box 1693, MS 4015, Baltimore, MD 21203.

Amateur Radio Club of the National Electronics Museum (ARCNEM) will operate W2W in commemoration of the anniversary of D-Day and the role of electronics in WWII. Primary operation will be June 1-June 2 with additional operation possible during the June 3-9 period, as operator availability permits. Frequencies +/- according to QRM. QSL and Certificate available via SASE; details at

06/06/2019 | 75th Anniversary D-Day Invasion

Jun 6-Jun 9, 1200Z-1700Z, WW2DDM, Bedford, VA.

Old Dominion Chapter 202 QCWA. 3880 KHz AM, LSB 3585 KHz CW 7285 KHz AM, LSB 14.245 MHz USB. QSL. WW2DDM c/o H. A. Boaz, Jr., 1389 Budd Lane, Montvale, VA 24122.

Bedford, VA is the location of The National D-Day Memorial. Bedford was the home of the "Bedford Boys". These were the nineteen young men from Bedford that died that day and four others died during the rest of the Normandy campaign. The town of Bedford had proportionately suffered the greatest losses that day. That is why the US Congress established the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Silly thought

So how long do you think it will take for the first owner of a top-of-the line Elecraft K4, to apply for Vanity Call sign K4HD?

It's available.

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

Hey ...... I got some "stuff" done!

I was going to get a haircut on the way home from work last night. My local barber is open until 7:00 PM and I got there at just before 6:00 PM. There was one guy in the chair and one guy waiting. I figured there was enough time to squeeze in a haircut.

The barber was just finishing the guy in the chair. I was happy because I thought there'd be no problem with him getting two haircuts in before closing time - the one guy waiting and then me. The guy in the chair seemed to be a bit fussy. As he looked in the mirror at his finished haircut, he was asking the barber for some touch up here, and here and here and here ...........

I looked at barber and he looked at me. "I'll come back tomorrow.", I said. He looked at me gratefully and said "Thanks."  I think he was anticipating spending some unexpected time finishing a job that, to me anyway, looked like it was already finished.

That got me home earlier than expected, which allowed for some time after dinner to get some of the stuff that I had posted about, done.  I got both the Skeeter Hunt Webpage and the Skeeter Hunt page on this blog updated. I use Mozilla Kompozer for publishing the Skeeter Hunt and the SPARC Webpages. The more I use it, the less I forget. What I mean by that is, that there are certain settings I need to insure are correctly set before I publish an html page. If I don't set the parameters correctly, the changes don't take and I get confused (not a hard thing to do to W2LJ!). The more often I use Kompozer, the less likely I am to make a misstep.

I also got a prototype sticker done for our Field Day posters. I say "prototype" because I have to present this before the membership tomorrow night at our monthly business meeting. I'm sure many of you know how that can go. I tried to keep it simple and to the point. We'll see how it's accepted tomorrow night.

My apologies for the shaky photo of the poster. It was a lamp light situation as the flash produced a glare on the poster's glossy finish. It must have been the equivalent of about 1/30th of a second exposure on an SLR. But you get the idea. There's a huge white space at the bottom of the poster to put in location and time details. That sticker pretty much matches the space available. We'll see what changes membership recommends.

For some reason, I had trouble sleeping last night. I went to hit the sack at around 10:00 PM, slept for an hour and then was up from 11:00 PM to about 2:00 AM, tossing and turning. Hindsight being 20/20, I realized this morning that I should have gone down to the shack and either turned on the radio or melted some solder. I guess I was too anxious about falling asleep to fall asleep. Next time (which I hope doesn't happen) I'll go to the shack.

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Upcoming "stuff"

Summer is fast approaching with Memorial Day weekend coming next weekend, here in the US of A. While the day itself has solemn reverence for remembering those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice in service to our country, the weekend also serves as the "unofficial" beginning of Summer.

There's lots to do in the upcoming weeks ahead, and a lot of that involves getting ready for Field Day. I have to get my posterior over to Home Depot to purchase 260 feet of wire for the 160 Meter dipole that I want to build.  Before I do that, I need to get over to Spring Lake Park with a tape measure to see if this is even going to be feasible. No sense of building a 160 Meter dipole of the trees aren't approximately where I need them to be in order to support it.

I also meed to get our Field Day posters finished so that our club members can get them distributed. Filling in that big blank box won't be difficult - getting membership to agree what we want to put there might be.

Sunday, June 9th is the 3rd Annual Cookie Crumble Contest. Huzzah! I have NOTHING scheduled for that Sunday this year. Our normal soup kitchen duty is being performed by another group next month, so the day is free for me and I intend to keep it that way.  I am hoping to set up from Cotton Street Park in town or maybe even Washington Rock again. Both parks have very tall tress in which to hoist up my PAR ENDFEDZ.  I also need to get over to either WalMart or Target for a new bicycle pump. I had mentioned in my post about SPARC's Special Event station that I couldn't use the antenna launcher. It turned out the pressure leak that I was experiencing was because of a hole somewhere in the pump hose. Later on that afternoon, I tried pumping the launcher with a pump the Vadney brothers brought and it worked just fine. It was NOT a leaky Schraeder valve like I had originally suspected.

It's going to be very weird operating these QRP events this year without running into WA8REI, N8XX or N2CX. Those were three call signs that I could usually bank on in QRP events. They will be sorely missed.

Yesterday was a very warm day, so I got the patio furniture cleaned up for the season. Hopefully, that will allow me some chances for outdoor operating this Summer when the weather permits. I'd like to do a lot more experimenting with the magloop to become even more familiar with its "ins and outs". I've used it quite enough to know it's a viable alternative to my permanent antennas; but I need to spend more time with it to become so familiar with it that I know it "like the back of my hand".

I also need to get the Skeeter Hunt Webpage updated for this year; as well as the Skeeter Hunt page of this blog - they pretty much mirror each other.

Wow! That's a lot of stuff to do in and amongst the other "normal" stuff that I have to do every week. It's a good thing that THIS kind of stuff is stuff I enjoy doing!

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

Friday, May 17, 2019

K4 photos

In an interest to keep up with the latest Amateur Radio news, here are some more photos of the K4, courtesy of the "The SWLing Post" blog:

I believe when all is said and done, you'll be looking at a minimum of around $4000.00 (US).

I guess that's what you pay for the newest, best and brightest top-of-the-line rig from a top-of-the-line company. As for me and my household, I don't think so.  I'm quite happy with my KX3 and besides, I have two kids in college.

What I am interested in, though, is that Jeff Davis KE9V stated that Hans Summers from QRP Labs said that the QSX radio should be on the market in a few months. A new QRP kit that I can build for under $200? Now that's something I can sink my teeth into!

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Not fake news....just a leak.

No doubt, more details will be coming from Hamvention tomorrow. (A hat tip to Jeff Davis KE9V, my on site Hamvention source).

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I am at a loss for words, right now.

I saw this on Facebook this morning. I am shocked. And I'm struck that Joe passed on May 14th, the same date my Mom passed.

This was posted by Joe's son, Kevin. Joe was one of the pillars of NJQRP.

Joe was the permissive force behind the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, along with George Heron N2APB. If it weren't for the two of them lending the prestigious name of NJQRP to the Skeeter  Hunt, I doubt that it would have become what it has. For that I will be forever grateful.

Joe was also quite the operator in the past few years. While he was never a stranger on the airwaves, Joe admitted to me during one of our talks that, when the NPOTA bug bit him, it bit him with a wallop. Throughout the 2016 NPOTA event, Joe was a familiar fixture on 7.034 and 14.060 MHz, giving out park contacts to anyone who could hear his signal. I have him to thank for boosting my own tally.

When NPOTA ended, Joe's appetite for activating parks did not! He and his son Kevin seemed to travel everywhere, putting parks on the air. When he activated Edison State park in April 2017, I took the opportunity to meet him for an eyeball QSO.

Joe was an all around "Ham's Ham". He operated, he designed, he built, he wrote, he mentored, he befriended - he did it all. He will be sorely missed,

Requiescet in pace, Joe.

72 de Larry W2LJ

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Thinking ahead to Summer

This unseasonably wet and chilly May has me yearning and pining for Summer. It's hard for me to believe that the Memorial Day Weekend holiday is less than two weeks away. It seems like I'll be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers with a sweater and cap on! All joking aside, the hot weather will be here before you know it and Summer will go by in the blink of an eye.

Keep in the back of your collective minds that the EIGHTH Annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be taking place on Sunday, August 18th. As usual, sign ups for Skeeter Numbers will be accepted as of the First Day of Summer, Friday June 21st.  Please! NO REQUESTS before then! I'm sorry to do it; but early requests will be ignored. I want everyone to have a shot at a low number - for some reason, they seem to be coveted.

This year's requirement for the Points Bonus will actually be quite simple, but will take some thinking and ingenuity on your part.  To get the 100 Bonus Points for 2019, all you have to do is ........

display either one of these images somewhere at your operating position and submit a photo with your log summary.  Simple - right?  The most ingenious or unique way of working the logo into the station photo will get a special prize (in addition to the bonus points) - what that is, I have not determined yet. But it will be something special, I promise.

So hopefully, if someone asks you what the heck it is that your doing, you can point to the logo and "splain" to them that you're huntin' skeeters.

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

Safe travels!

Safe travels to all my friends and readers who may be travelling to Hamvention and FDIM this week.

May the weather be good, the traffic be light and may your experience be a fun and joyous one - and may the return home trip to your loved ones be safe and uneventful.


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

Monday, May 13, 2019

Facebook re-post

Saw this on Facebook this morning under "Amateur Radio Funnies", and there is something to this that does bring on a chuckle.

I think many of us have been in a DXpedition pileup, or a pileup for a super rare one when someone starts to try to rag chew with the prized contact in question. And there have been times when I have had this impatient sentiment, too - but it also got me thinking.

Maybe it's due to growing older and perhaps gaining a little wisdom? - but sometimes I get tired of the competition and the quickie "UR 599 TU QRZ?" QSOs. It's nice, from time to time to have an honest-to-goodness relaxing rag chew with a DX station (or ANY station for that matter). After all, isn't that part of what Amateur Radio is all about? Making friendships, overcoming boundaries?

Making DX Honor Roll is a remarkable, honorable and laudable achievement and I have the utmost admiration and respect for those who have done so. But I never want to become jaded like that one Ham who sold all his equipment after receiving his Honor Roll plaque, because he thought "I did it all" and there was nothing else to be gained by remaining in the hobby.

I may not get on the air as often as I should, I will never make Honor Roll (I know that, for a fact), and I will probably pass one day with a bunch of unfinished projects taking up space in my shack, but I do enjoy the comforting thought that Amateur Radio is there in the background of my busy life, and will continue to be a source of enjoyment for me in the future.

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

One of my best Amateur Radio purchases

One of the best Amateur Radio purchases that I have ever made is not what you might consider to be a "normal" Amateur Radio item. It's not a rig, or an accessory, or anything you might see in a everyday, run of the mill Ham shack.

One of my finest Amateur Radio purchases occurred back in 2016, when I purchased two of these from the ARRL back in the NPOTA days.

I thank God that I had the foresight to buy two, long sleeved NPOTA T-shirts from the ARRL

So why am I talking about this? Today, Mother's Day - May 12th 2019 has to be one of the most miserable Mother's Days, weather-wise, in memory. The high temperature for today was only about 45F (7C), and it's been on and off rainy, misty and raw - a very raw and unseasonable and most uncomfortable day.

A perfect day to wear one of my long sleeved NPOTA T-shirts.  Not only do these shirts bring back memories of one of the greatest Amateur Radio operating events that I have had the privilege to participate in, but they are also very beefy, soft and very, VERY comfortable. In fact, during the colder months,I practically live in these things on weekends when I'm not at work. I only wish that I had the foresight to purchase more than two. I will have these until they are threadbare. These will be with me for a very long, long time.

Kind of stupid, right? But I love these two shirts so much that, for me, they rank right up there with the best Amateur Radio purchases that I have ever made. Call me crazy - you'd be right!

72 de Larry W2LJ

Monday, May 06, 2019

Three Field Day ideas

This has more to do with Public Relations than the technical aspect of Field Day. You may want to consider these for your Field Day effort if you set up in a public setting with the intention of talking up Amateur Radio. These are a few new ideas that we (SPARC) came up with for our 2019 outing.

Guest book - I don't know why we haven't thought of this before! We will have a guest book by our public information table/display. It's useful for keeping track of guest operators, but also for anyone from the general public who has come by and shown interest in our hobby. Space for name and e-mail is probably sufficient - some people get uncomfortable with leaving too much personal information

Posters - We decided to purchase a pack or two of these from the ARRL:

We' will add the necessary info in the blank box, and we're hoping that the local merchants around town will be so kind as to display these in their windows or bulletin boards.

Signs - In addition to our club banner, we had some small signs/banners printed up by VistaPrint during one of their many on-line sales. It is a series of 1.5 X 3 foot signs that we will display in front of or close to important areas of our Field Day site.  We felt that these would be good to explain to people what is going on that may be too shy to actually come up and ask any of us about what's going on.

For example, one will say "Solar Power - we use this solar panel to charge the batteries that power our radios." This will go close to the solar panel.

"Portable tower/antenna - this ladder holds the antenna that we use to communicate around the country and the world." This of course, will be close to the tower, but far away enough to be at a safe distance from it.

We have a few others to go by the communications tent, by the information tent, and so on. We're not certain that these will have any real effect, but they were relatively inexpensive and it's our hope that they will give our Field Day site a more hospitable atmosphere. I know there's nothing like a smile and a handshake to foster that hospitality; but sometimes we're either under-manned for the moment; and sometimes visitors are not ready to "people". Hopefully the signage will fill in those cracks.

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

Saturday, May 04, 2019

It rained

Maybe that's the best way to describe our Fifth Anniversary outing at the park today. When I arrived around 10:00 Am, it was gray and dreary but still pretty much dry. Dave KD2FSI had been set up for a while and was trying his hand at working 7 Land QSO Party stations. He still needs Montana and Nevada for WAS, so he thought today might be the day.

I watched him for a bit and chatted with him for a bit more. I should have gotten straight to setting up my station instead, because as soon as I started, the sky opened up. It wasn't a gully washer and didn't rain hard enough to deter our plans, it just made setting up an uncomfortable affair.

I had planned to shoot a line up over a nearby tree and run the PAR END FEDZ over to it. That would have gotten the far end of the antenna up somewhere around 45 feet.

As I say, that's what I had planned.

Things didn't work out as planned. As soon as I pumped up the antenna launcher, I immediately lost air pressure. I suspected a bad Schraeder valve, or possibly a leaky joint somewhere. I didn't want to waste too much time, so I went to "Plan B".

It's always good to have a backup plan, and outdoor QRPers are a resourceful bunch. I like to feel that I fit into that category and every now and then, I do. I ended up parking the Jeep a little further away from our operating position and used my drive on mast and the 31 foot Jackite pole as my antenna support.

My Jeep, on the right, is supporting the Jackite. You can see the mast support by the front passenger tire.

I've used this set up before numerous times, so I knew it would work. It did, and once again I was not disappointed. As usual the PAR presented a very good match to the KX3 and my signal seemed to be getting out pretty well. At our 1500 UTC jumping off point, I made three quick CW contacts on 40 Meters and two fo them were with good friends Bob W3BBO and Cliff KU4GW.. Things seemed to be going well. Then Dave fired up the 20 Meter SSB station and at 100 Watts, he just wiped me out. Not wanting to be a killjoy, I figured I'd let him operate a while and when he wanted a break, I'd resume 40 Meter CW.

Dave KD2FSI operating 20 Meter SSB.

One of the guys must have told him the trouble I was having, because he went over to his van, brought out a little silver box and handed it to me. It was a 40 Meter pass band filter. I put that in line and "Whammo!" - problem solved. Both stations operated for the full amount of time, not impeding each other in the slightest.

Bill W2AOF logs as Marv K2VHW makes contacts on 40 Meter SSB.

All in all, it was a fun day. We didn't make nearly as many QSOs as we had hoped, but the ones we did make were solid. Our Club President, Bill W2AOF, went to a nearby sandwich shop and brought us lunch. Marv K2VHW made a coffee run to a nearby Dunkin' Donuts and brought back some much needed caffeine.

Dave W2OIL and Danny KC2YRC, friends of ours from the ETS of NJ Club (and Honorary Members of SPARC) were there and took a look at my antenna launcher (which they had made for me). They pressurized it with their bicycle pump and it held, no problem. That means my $5 cheapie Walmart foot pump finally gave up the ghost after 5 or 6 years - probably a leak in the hose or the filler valve. I'll need to acquire another before Field Day. I was relieved that it wasn't a problem with the launcher itself.

And wouldn't you know it? At the very end, the rain abated, the sun came out and it warmed up quite nicely. Nevertheless, we had fun, enjoyed each other's company and got some winter kinks out in preparation for Field Day next month. That's what mattered the most.

If you worked us, we thank you. If you heard us, but didn't get through, we thank you for trying. Maybe we'll have better luck in about six weeks when it's Field Day, and NJ2SP is once again on the air, this time as "3A NNJ".

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

Friday, May 03, 2019

This is just too cool - QCX 3d!

Posted by Eugene Kovalchuk on Facebook

This allows you pan, tilt and rotate and look at the QCX from just about any angle.

Wish I was smart enough to do stuff like this!

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"The claims of my demise are greatly exaggerated."

With the announcement of yet another digital mode du jour. FT4 - there are some who insist on dancing (yet again, prematurely) on CW's grave.

As I've stated before, so many times ..... my personal opinion is that Amateur Radio is a big enough tent to accommodate everyone's interests. I did digi in the 90s. Granted, it wasn't PSK31 or the newer FT modes; but it was RTTY, PacTOR and AMTOR. These modes were quite exciting at first, but eventually grew boring to me. All the conversations that I was having seemed to consist of a bunch of key presses to release a bevy of pre-recorded macros. Spontaneous conversations took place; but they became fewer and harder to find. That's why I drifted back to CW as my only mode of operation.

Now, that being said, I realize that my case is not the case for everyone. If digi floats your boat - then bravo! Go for it with gusto, kid! I like it when you are happy! But at the same time, please don't look down upon me when I politely say, "Thanks, but no thanks."  That doesn't make me a fossil, a cranky old fart, a relic or a yesterday's stale bread. It's just that I know what I like, what I'm good at and what brings me a modicum of pleasure.

As an added note, I do not look down upon, frown upon or consider anyone less of an Amateur Radio Operator because they never learned or just plain don't like Morse Code. Again - more power to you! Engage in whichever mode it is that makes you happy that you spent time doing it. But at the same time, don't regard my favorite aspect of the hobby to be "old fashioned", "irrelevant", "useless" or "unneeded in this day and age" just because it befuddles you.

Perhaps my feelings about CW were summed up by a lot of what Dale Parfitt W4OP wrote in a post on QRP-L. I asked Dale if he would mind if I re-posted his post here. He most graciously granted me permission - here it is:

"I think the decline in CW may be more associated with the decline in civilization in general. Fewer and fewer people seem inclined to work hard and more and more seem to be embracing the concept of a welfare state, participation trophies etc. In the amateur sector, the exams have become a matter of memorization as opposed to understanding,  off the shelf rigs replace homebrew and the focus of amateur radio today appears to be chatting as opposed to furthering the technical aspects of the hobby.

CW is a skill that does require work. But so enjoyable, and high speed CW is more akin to holding a conversation. I could work piles of more contacts off the moon if I did one of the digital modes. But for me, it is all about hearing these weak signals and constantly improving my station. I won't go into the fact that some of the digital guys on the moon seem to have to communicate via the Internet to complete  the digital QSO.

On HF, a nice CW ragchew,  adapting to the other's fist, using my brain and dealing with the vagaries of propagation, QRM  is what it's all about. If I want to simply send a message, I can text someone or send an email. All this has nothing to do with me being an old fart (although chronologically, I am one) . I embrace design software, love surface mount, design a lot of my  rigs and build more than I operate.


Dale W4OP"

Thanks Dale! I guess chronologically, we're in the same boat; but like you - for me it's about the challenge - and constantly marveling about how my radio signal gets from Point A to Point B without the aid of anything else but my radio and antenna, my key and my brain. And I think there are quite a few of us who would still like to occupy a seat on this pleasure craft - so for those out there who think we CW devotees are nothing more than a bunch of aging, irrelevant fossils ....... pay close attention to Dale's "YMMV". It's an invitation for us all to engage in what we enjoy while maintaining our mutual respect for one another.

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Getting ready for Field Day

Even though it's only April, SPARC is getting ready for Field Day,

I've added our NJ2SP Field Day info to the official ARRL Field Day locator, and we're in full preparations swing.  Once again we'll be operating 3A with a GOTA station. This year, though, I'd like to add a proper 160 Meter dipole so that we can make contacts on Top Band through out the evening. The W3EDP was successful in making contacts for us on all bands last year 160 Meters through 10 Meters, but on 160 Meters it was a compromise antenna. Only the loudest and nearest 160 Meter stations were able to hear us. With a proper resonant antenna, we should be able to make more than just a handful of contacts.

We're also intent on doing more to get the local Scouts to come visit and operate this year. We need to start advertising that to the local troops now, because once the Scouts scatter for the Summer, it will be harder to get the message out.

What does your club/organization do to put Field Day in the eye of your community? Anything?

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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Not playing by the rules

One of the "rules" that always made me chuckle, was from the sages who advise QRPers "not to call CQ". Again, these are the wise ones who equate QRP with weak signal. No one is going to hear your signal, so why even waste your time calling CQ. You're only going to get frustrated, right?


I was down in the basement today, soldering a few more components onto the kit du jour. I decided to put in the easrbuds and allow the KX3 to call CQ while I was happily soldering away. What I didn't expect was to get an answer on the very first shot. I had to hurriedly put down the soldering iron when my query resulted in a call from Alex UR3HC in the Ukraine. We exchanged 559 reports and we both went merrily on our separate ways.

So this confirmed a couple of things for me (once again).

1) Don't believe all the people who bemoan the facts that "the bands are dead". They aren't - at least not always.

2) QRPers definitely SHOULD call CQ. Again, your signal is going to be decent - somewhere. It may not be 599, but it will be audible and answerable - somewhere. Sometimes that may be only down the street, sometimes it will be halfway around the world. You may get lucky, like I did today and you may not. However, you're never going to know unless you give it a shot, so don't be gun shy.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that next Saturday (May 4th, 2019), the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club will be setting up a field station to put NJ2SP on the air for the purpose of celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of our founding.  We will setting up a CW station (QRP) and an SSB station (QRO) at Putnam Park, here in town. The park has a pavilion, so even if the weather is less than ideal, we will still be out there.

Look for us between the hours of 1500 to 1900 UTC, The frequencies that we will be hanging around will be 7.030 and 14.060 MHz for CW and 7.280 and 14.265 MHz for SSB.  An SASE will get you a QSL card with a special Fifth Anniversary sticker on it.

I'm the trustee for NJ2SP so if you look up NJ2SP or W2LJ on QRZ, both point to my home address.

This is an activity designed for the purpose of getting our newer members (also newer Hams) with less than a lot of HF experience, on the air. Hopefully it will entice a few who seem to get stuck on the VHF/UHF bands to set up HF stations at home.

Hope to work you!

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday 2019

All is quiet at the W2LJ household, as we remember.

 "He was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by His wounds we were healed."

Have a blessed Good Friday de W2LJ 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

W5LFL SK - Owen Garriot

The original "Ham Radio Operator in Space" - Owen Garriot W5LFL has passed away at the age of 88.

Owen's historic flight took place in 1983 on the Space Shuttle Columbia's STS-9 mission. I can still remember sitting in my car, tuned to the appropriate frequency as the Shuttle flew over NJ, several times during the mission.  As soon as Owen announced his call and mentioned that he would be listening for call signs, the frequency became maybe the worst pileup in history! Of course, I never made it through, but it was still a thrill to listen. When W5LFL came on the air with his uber line of sight signal, it was like he was sitting in a chair right next to me.  Some of the more famous Hams of the age DID make contact with W5LFL, notably King Hussein of Jordan JY1 and Barry Goldwater K7UGA.

Interestingly enough, years later, his son Richard W5KWQ, became a private space traveler. Launched to the ISS via a Russian launch vehicle, he also made contacts from space, following in his father's footsteps.

I think this mission whetted the appetites of many Hams for making satellite QSOs. I know it did for me; and some years later, I was very active on RS-10/11 and RS-12/13. Back then you could make contacts on satellites using your "everyday" shack HF equipment. It was a thrill to hear your own signal come back from space on the downlink - especially for this "kid" who cut his teeth on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.  I worked many states through those two LEOs - but alas, not all 50. I did, however, work across the pond into England on a rare mutually visible pass.

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party this weekend

Thanks to Don W2JEK, another New Jersey QRP stalwart, for reminding me that the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party is this weekend.

It runs from 0000 - 2359 UTC on Saturday, April 13. The usual QRP operating frequencies. If the rules haven't changed, and memory serves me correctly, it's CW only and the exchange is RST/State/ ARCI # (or power output if you're not a member).

Curiously, there seems to be nothing about it in the official QRP-ARCI Webpage. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything on the QRP-ARCI Website about ANY of their operating events/contests.

I'm hoping that's not due to lack of participation, but one never knows.

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

Tuesday, April 09, 2019


Got this e-mail from Panos SV1GRN yesterday. It's about a propagation survey/study being done by our brother and sister Hams in Greece - on 60 Meters!

Propagation Survey

A call to test the propagation on 60 meters, at noon and while in the grayline, using NVIS antennas and QRP power. AegeanDXgroup and Athens QRP Net invite you on May 5, 2019 in a meeting on
60 meters to study the propagation on the frequencies (5351.5 - 5366.5 MHz) of the band.

Duration: 09:00 - 11:00 UTC and 16:00 - 18:00 UTC

Power: QRP not exceeding 5 Watts

Modes: CW (5351.5 – 5354 MHz), SSB(USB) (5354 – 5364 MHz), BPSK31 (366 -
5366.5 MHz).

Stations can transmit on any or all modes.

Please sent Log (in adif, cabrillo, word or excel format) with real RS(T), QTH
locator and Antenna description to:

Participants will receive souvenirs. The participants with top qso’s (independently of
modes) will receive commemorative gifts

Now, NVIS antennas and 5 Watts may pretty much preclude any participation from our side of the pond; but it might well be worth a listen, at least. I have not been on 60 Meters much at all. I would be lying if I were to tell you that I was familiar with its propagation characteristics and properties. If anyone from our side were to hear any SVs or even manage to work one of them, I'm sure they's be thrilled!

I hope they post the results somewhere when all is said and done. It would be interesting to see how it all worked out.

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

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

It was a good night last night.

As it slowly turns to Spring and warmer weather in NJ, it has become relatively comfortable once again, in the W2LJ basement shack. I can go down there for extended periods of time without freezing, as the ambient temps have returned to the 60s.

Last night, 40 Meters was positively jumping! And it turned out to he a rich Fox hunting environment. I was able to work both Jim N0UR and Wayne N4FP within the first 15 minutes of the hunt. The Propagation Princess smiled on me last night, and THAT hasn't happened in a very long time. It felt good. There were so many missed pelts this past Winter season that I was beginning to doubt my equipment, my antennas and my skills - each at one time or another.

Rather than run upstairs, I put some more time into my DSO138 Oscilloscope kit. I started it on Sunday and I've been doing a little bit every day. So far, I've gotten all the resistors, diodes, switches and RF chokes in. If I get home early enough from tonight's South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club meeting, I'll get the capacitors in.

After that, there's not much more to it. I should be able to complete it by the end of the weekend, if all goes well. After that, I think either my 4 States Ozark Patrol receiver, or my 40 Meter QCX kit will be next.

Oh, and by the way, that Mustel G600 microscope came in mighty handy last night. One of the components soldered into the DSO138 circuit board last night was a mini USB connector jack. The pins on that thing are entirely way too tiny and close together. I thought that there was no way I was going to be able to get that thing soldered in without creating one or more solder bridges. After I finished making the last solder joint, I brought out the Mustel and gave the solder pads a good look at ultra high magnification. No bridges!

You may be thinking that the kit building season is traditionally Winter. Not for me. I try to limit my time down in the basement when it's uber cold. Not only is it uncomfortable; but it's bad for the arthritis I have in my hands and my ankles. When I want to operate in the Winter, I either turn on a space heater down there; or I resort to operating from the living room using my magloop. And that's not a bad alternative, actually. It's definitely not as nice as using my outdoor antennas. However, if someday Marianne and I decide to sell the house when we retire, and we end up in some place that doesn't allow outside antennas - the magloop will provide a suitable, stealthy solution. It would not be the death knell of Amateur Radio for me.

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

Monday, April 01, 2019

QRPTTF Announcement

The rules have been posted for QRP To The Field for 2019.  I seriously doubt that i will be able to participate this year as the scheduled date is Saturday, April 20th - which is also Holy Saturday of Easter Weekend.

At any rate - here are the rules (as per NA5N) for those who are not otherwise occupied:


It's now spring (though hard to believe in some parts of the country) and April is almost here. Time for QRP TO THE FIELD.

The 2019 QRPTTF Rules are here:

I've received several emails regarding this years QRPTTF, like: 

1) My favorite forest and campground burned down and now closed 
2) Go for a water theme as my town is still under water 
3) The bridge leaving town to my favorite spot is still closed 
4) Can't travel too far these days - pick something close

So on the side of caution, this year's QRPTTF is laying low and pretty easy ... "Any Ole Park" from the empty lot down the street to a recognized park. Can be close to home for safety for those in flood areas and closed highways. And of course, SOTA operations are invited as always.

Last year's QRPTTF the solar flux was rock bottom at 64. The USAF is predicting a solar flux of 74-78 and Kp=2 for April 20, so at least some improvement to daytime HF. Maybe we'll get a little solar flare to kick it up even higher (actually been a few solar flares past couple of weeks).

So get your field gear out of winter hibernation and give it a checkout for April 20. 

73, Paul NA5N 

So there you have it, for your edification.

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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Another pleasant surprise

Two weeks ago I was walking past the steps leading to the basement, and I noticed that ol' familiar electrical burning smell. Not overpowering, without any visible smoke, but enough to set off the alarm bells in this Ham's cranium.

I went downstairs to find the smell emanating from our clothes dryer. The top was very hot and the smell became even stronger after I shut it off and opened the dryer door. Fearing a lint trap fire, I gave the lint duct a touch with the back of my hand to see if that was warm. Compared to the dryer itself, it was stone cold. I went outside to the vent opening on the house and gave a good sniff. Nothing from that end either.

Convinced and relieved that the house was not in danger, I unplugged both the washer and the dryer and let them sit. The dryer cooled off. I wasn't sure what the exact cause was, but I suspect that the control circuit board had gone again, as it did a few years back. The odor was identical to that of either burnt components or traces on a circuit board.

The matching washer had been giving us its own problems for over a year now. I decided that it was time to purchase a new pair.  My wife didn't object to my statement that I didn't want a fire hazard in our house.

We went to Lowes, one of the big box hardware stores where Marianne picked out a pair of machines manufactured by Samsung. I was a little wary. Our cellphones and TV are from Samsung, but our washer and dryers have always been Whirlpool, Maytag or even GE going back to my parent's house.

They were delivered a week ago; and as Marianne seems happy with them, I didn't give much more thought to them - until yesterday.  I was downstairs listening to not much on 20 Meters, when Marianne came down to put in a load of laundry. I was about to answer a lone CQ from UA3EDQ when I thought to myself, "Here we go!"

Our last pair of washer and dryer were notorious RF generators. If I was on the radio and Marianne put in a load of wash, I could literally hear the agitator motor in my earbuds. I could heard the motor rev up and die down during the spin cycle. The dryer wasn't as bad, but was still a nuisance.

To my delight and surprise the Samsung pair are the antithesis! I was able to work Igor without having to listen through RF hash. Both the washer and dryer are RF silent on 20 Meters. I checked the other bands as well, and they all seem to be free from washer and dryer hash.

So kudos to Samsung! Whatever and however these machines were engineered, they seem to be Amateur Radio friendly!

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

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A pleasant surprise

My best friend since high school, Donald Jakubowski, posted the following photo on my Facebook timeline yesterday. It must have been from one of the many times when he came over to my parent's house to visit.

The lighting is what we would call in the photographic world as "low key". Usually a single light source and a lot of deep shadow and drama. The light source here is the desk lamp.

This was taken, in what I would guess to be 1980. It must have been in the late fall or winter, because if it's dark enough at 2222 UTC to have a desk light on, it must have been pretty dark outside at 5:22 PM local time. . I was working at the North Brunswick Camera Center at the time. I was wearing one our store's signature "Keep on Clickin"" t-shirts. I can make out that, at this point, I was beyond my initial Novice station. That's definitely my Heathkit HR-1680 receiver, but to the right of it would appear to be my Kenwood T599D, which had replaced my Drake 2NT as my transmitter. The R599D would come very shortly thereafter. I did not acquire them both at the same time. When you're a young kid, working at your first "real job", you're not exactly rolling in dough. Stations got built, a piece at a time.

To the left of the Heathkit was my MFJ VersaTuner with a speaker on top of it, and a clock on top of that. On the bottom shelf was my Realistic DX160, which was my SWL receiver. To the left was its speaker. To the right of that was open space for whichever Morse Code key I was happening too use at the time.

On the wall you can see some meager wallpaper. My RCC - Rag Chewers Club certificate, and my W1AW code proficiency certificate. Only 13 wpm at this point, but that's what is leading me to believe that I had upgraded to General by the time this photo was taken. I think that's a copy of a Gil cartoon the the left of the RCC Certificate, behind the clock. Phil Gildersleeve, always was and always will be my favorite. Attached to the dormer, over my left shoulder, was an ARRL world map. Above and to the left of the RCC Certificate was probably my ARRL Membership Certificate, then something in between, and then my license to the right of that.

I was so surprised to see this! As much as I was into photography at the time, I never thought of taking photos of myself, or of my pursuits. I was always taking photos of other things, and thus, I lack any documented personal history.

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

A Tale of Two Georgians

Last night's 80 Meter QRP Foxhunt featured two Foxes from the Great State of Georgia. One was John K4BAI, who lives close to the Alabama border, about half way up the state line. The other was Jim N4TMM who lives in Atlanta, which is not all that far way from John, if you look at their respective QTHs on a map.

You might expect, that although they live a couple to several hundred miles apart, that difference would make "no difference" compared to their distance from New Jersey. Given some variables, such as antenna, etc - they should sound about the same at my end of the QSO - no?


Their signals were miles apart (pun intended!) John K4BAI was down in the noise. QSB was terrible and at times he was unreadable. He had to QSY due to a traffic net on a nearby frequency. And to my surprise, he was working simplex, which a Fox does not often do until the very end of a hunt after the Hounds have dried up. Listening to him was tough.

Jim N4TMM, on the other hand, was pretty loud. Not 599, but definitely 569 - 579 his signal was pretty stable. There was some QSB, but not nearly as bad as the QSB on K4BAI. Jim had a good, almost conversational quality signal going for him all night.

So which one did you think I worked?  If you guessed N4TMM - surprise! You're wrong!

As bad as K4BAI's signal was, I got into his log. I called N4TMM all night until I was blue in the face. I tried changing frequency a bit in order to vary my tone in his ears. I tried changing from the Butternut to the W3EDP, thinking that one antenna over the other might yield a more successful result. All I got for my efforts with Jim was a skunk pelt.

So what did we learn?

Once again, we learn that propagation is not reciprocal.  Just because he's loud in your headphones doesn't mean you're loud in his. You'd think after 40 years in this hobby that would not be such a surprise; but I have to tell you, it still is. "I can hear him so well - he HAS to be able to hear me!" I'm sure that many of you have uttered that same sentence. It's amazing how hard that lesson is to learn.

We also learn that just because two stations are roughly at the same distance, doesn't necessarily mean both will sound the same, or even nearly the same.  I have no idea why K4BAI and N4TMM were heard so differently here in NJ. I'm sure their antennas probably had a lot to do with it; but I'm sure other, unknown variables to me also made a difference.

We also learn that when you assume ..................... (I'll let you finish that one). I assumed that both stations would be heard about equally as well here in NJ. Once again, I made the wrong assumption.

So better yet, what do we take away from all this?

Since propagation is not reciprocal, the next time you hear a DX station, and he's weak - that doesn't necessarily mean that your signal will be weak to him. It may be; but then again it might not. So don't pass that station by automatically. Throw out your call and give it a shot - you might just be surprised.

If you're looking for a certain country or state, or county, or what have you - and you find one on the air - but they are having a hard time copying you - don't assume that ALL stations in that certain country or state, or county, or what have you will also have a hard time copying you.  When you're working towards WAS and the Hawaii QSO Party comes around and you find a station and he can't copy you, no matter what you try - don't turn the radio off, walk away and give up. There may be another station only 10, 20, 50, or 100 miles away that may be able to copy you like you're in the same room with them.

I think the longer you're in this hobby, the more you think "you know" the ins and outs of what is and what isn't. Instances like last night just go to prove to me, once again, that "you never know ....... you just really never know." It's a hard lesson learned - and maybe it's never completely learned.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Just renewed

I sent in my $25.00 renewal to QRP-ARCI this morning. And I got to thinking how QRP has changed over the years.

When I originally joined back in the late 70s - the stated goal of the organization was to keep output power under 100 Watts, in order to mitigate QRM and needless interference. 100 Watts! Wow! We've come a long way from 100 Watts. It makes me wonder what the original founders would have said if someone had asked, "Hey ....... why not make that 5 Watts?" I can only imagine that stares that question would have received, at the time.

In a time when a lot of organizations seem to be raising their dues, QRP-ARCI has been pretty consistent. $25.00 is not a bad price to pay for "QRP Quarterly", the organization's magazine. It's full of tips and technical stuff - I'm always learning something new. There's also more "human interest" non-technical articles in there, from time to time, that just extol the fun of running QRP.

And even though I have never been, QRP ARCI does a bang up job of running "Four Days in May" every year at Hamvention.  I would dearly like to make it there one of these years in order to meet, face to face, the many QRP friends that I have made over the years. That would be grand, and is definitely on my "bucket list".

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
QRP-ARCI # 4488

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Maker Day 2019

I haven't posted for a while. There hasn't been much going on with W2LJ to post about .... until now.

This past weekend was Maker Day Weekend in New Jersey, with Maker Day activities happening at various locations around the state. The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club pitched in and joined the effort at the same location as last year - the JFK Memorial Library in our neighboring town of Piscataway, NJ.

We gathered at the library at 9:00 AM our goal was a bit different this year. We wanted to emphasize soldering and kit building skills, so we purchased a variety of different kits that would interest a wide variety of people.  As last year, we wanted to feature kits that had a relatively low parts count, so that the kits would be relatively easy to build, and could be completed within a reasonable amount of time.

To that end, we scoured Bangood's offerings (there are literally thousands of inexpensive electronic kits available online there, and other places) and bought some digital clock kits, some voltage/temperature meter kits, some LED flashlight kits, wireless FM microphones and 8 note electronic organ kits and we also had a decent number of code practice oscillator kits left over from last year.

The day went like a whirlwind! I was busy from 10:15 AM to close to 4:00 PM helping to build kits and instructing proper soldering technique. I have to say that some of the participants really picked up on soldering, and their work looked almost professional, even though this was their first exposure to soldering irons and solder.

In addition, these "kids" (for the most part the participants were young, but there were a few "close to 20 somethings" and even one parent participated.) learned what different components looked like, the difference between ceramic and electrolytic capacitors, and even a little bit about the color code on resistors. We taught them about the indents on the ends of integrated circuits and the flat side of transistors.

I helped out with 2 and 1/2 code practice oscillators, two clock kits and one electronic organ. Much to our delight, everything that was built worked, with the exception of one dud. We didn't have time for too much trouble shooting, as we were booked for time slots right up to the closing bell. We had about 5 building stations ready to go at all times, with an hour allotted for each kit. In the end, I think we had twenty first time builders take advantage of SPARC being there.

In addition to the kit building, we had a video on "An Introduction to Amateur Radio" going in loop fashion throughout the duration. We also had "Ol' Reliable" Dave KD2FSI set up an HF station. He had his Yaesu hooked up to his AlexLoop and was able to pick out quite a number of FOC stations doing their thing on 20 Meters. Dave set up a big 24' monitors and had CW Skimmer going on his laptop so that visitors could see Morse Code being displayed before their eyes in real time. As always, Morse Code still draws and fascinates people - ESPECIALLY younger people!

I couldn't stay to the very bitter end, but I'm pretty sure the library staff was happy that we were there again. It was a very successful day and I'm so proud of all the SPARC members for the time and talent that they donated.

We learned some tings in addition to what we learned last year; and I'd say we're probably pretty certain to return for Maker Day in 2020. It's gratifying to share what we've learned about electronics and building with the rest of the world - especially the younger world.

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

Monday, March 11, 2019


During one of my last few Skype sessions with Bob W3BBO, he commented on how this blog has gotten depressing as of late., with all the SK notices.

Sorry to say that I have one more, and I would be very remiss if I didn't post it. One of the QRP Giants is no longer with us.  The Rev. George Dobbs G3RJV, Founder of G-QRP has passed away, early this morning.

I never met the good Reverend, or had the chance to speak with him and shake his hand. I've read many of his articles and it was obvious that here was a man "who knew his stuff".

This was the e-mail, posted to QRP-L by Ken Evans, Past President of QRP-ARCI. It was sent to him by Graham Firth G3MFJ:

"I’m sorry to have to tell you, but George Dobbs, G3RJV died early this morning. He was taken to hospital a few days ago with pneumonia, and an infection, but he didn’t respond to the antibiotics. He was 75. His wife JoAnna was with him when he died. He had suffered from dementia for some time, but was still taking as much interest in the running of the G-QRP Club until recently."

RIP, Reverend Dobbs.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Hank Greeb N8XX - SK

I don't like posting these; but Hank was a fixture in the QRP world.

It was reported recently that Hank had suffered a heart attack and then a stroke somewhere around the February 16th time frame. At that time, he must have expected a full, but slow recovery, as he thought he would be off the air for about a year. Sadly, it was announced that he passed away yesterday.

Hank was a stalwart QRPer and participated in just about every QRP Sprint that you can think of. The only one that he didn't partake of much was the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt; but that was always because his annual family reunion occurred the same weekend. Every year he sent me an e-mail with his regrets.

Hank was also a fixture in NPOTA and POTA.

Hank was outspoken and I will miss his e-mails to the various QRP and CW reflectors, complete with his "Shucky durn" and "Corn Whiskey" lingo. Hank was a chemist by trade, I believe - and a true gentleman by nature.

73 Hank, we will miss you. Say "Hi" to Ken WA8REI for us.

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

Monday, February 25, 2019

Posting just to post

Is something I will not do. I know there has been a dearth of activity on this blog the past few weeks; but that's just because I have not been very active radio-wise. I will post when I think that I have something of value to offer, not just to have you read empty words.

LAST Saturday, February 16th, I attended a conference on Amateur Radio in Public Health and Medical Services Emergencies. It was help at Cooper Hospital, in Camden, NJ, which is the home of Campbell's Soup, the Battleship New Jersey and the NJ State Aquarium.

Tim AB2ZK drove us down the 50 or so minute ride to Camden. I was a bit apprehensive about attending as I had a flare up of tendinitis in my left ankle and I was pretty uncomfortable. But Tim offered a ride and the ankle was beginning to feel better, so I decided to give it a shot.

I am glad I did. There were excellent presentations by AREDN (Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network) who provides the equipment needed to set up an emergency mesh RF domain. You're probably asking yourself, "Exactly what on earth is THAT?"

I may be explaining this incorrectly, but a mesh network is kind of like a private, little closed Internet domain. By adapting routers to use the microwave frequencies in the Amateur Radio bands, we can create a little independent Internet style domain which will allow the transfer of data - e-mails, SMS as well as regular messages, pictures, etc between an emergency site or multiple associated sites and an EOC without having to rely on the regular Internet - especially when that becomes over clogged and over worked with traffic. And let's face it - when the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillating air current generating device, the Internet and cell phone networks are among the first casualties.

It's not as expensive or complicated to set up as you might think; but it IS helpful to have someone who is familiar with computer networking if you seed to get a domain set up with more than just a few access points. You can click on the AREDN link that I have above to get more information.

There was also a good talk on NVIS antennas given by Joe Everheart N2CX, one of the co-founders of NJQRP. Joe gave a good talk on what will work in order to make HF usable in an emergency when you needs to communicate with stations pretty much in just your local area.

There are a couple of other presentations that made me wonder why they were included, but that's par for the course, I guess. In all, it was a very informative day with a lot of good information made available to us who are involved in AUXCOMM.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ken Louks WA8REI (SK)

I was shocked last night, when I saw a post to the Flying Pigs Facebook page by Brian KB9BVN, that Ken WA8REI had become a Silent Key.

Ken, being the avid QRPer, had contacted me many times over the years in QRP Sprints and just plain old QSOs.  I particularly enjoyed when we would rag chew when Ken took his RV to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan and he would tell me how cold it was; or how much snow was on the ground, or how beautiful the foliage was in the Autumn.

Ken introduced me to; and got me involved in the QRP Polar Bears, where another SK, Ron  WB3AAL was also quite active.

It was always a treat to run into Ken over the years and his call sign appears in my log many, many times. I will miss the cheeriness and friendliness that he was able to pass on - even through his dits and dahs. Ken was good people.

Kenneth Alan Louks (Obituary)

Kenneth A. Louks of Freeland, Michigan passed away February 10, 2019 at the age of 71.

Ken was a life-long resident of the Saginaw area. After graduating from Buena Vista High School in 1965, he entered Western Michigan University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Ken served in the US Army from 1970-72 and was stationed in Stuttgart, West Germany where he was assistant to the Chaplain. Upon his honorable discharge, he was employed by the US Postal Service from 1972 to 2002, reaching the level of Mail Processing Manager at the Saginaw USPS facility.

Ken had a strong Christian faith and was past member of Sheridan Avenue United Methodist Church, Auburn UMC, and presently was a member of Hopevale Church. He enjoyed the Christian fellowship of all members at these houses of worship.

Ken was a gifted keyboardist from his youth and throughout his life. Ken was organist at Auburn UMC and part-time organist at Sheridan Avenue and Swan Valley UMC over the years. Ken also taught piano from his home. Even after a stroke at age 60 rendered his left hand paralyzed, Ken still played his electronic keyboard, recording and sharing his music, which were often arrangements of favorite hymns. Ken also played the dulcimer.

Ken loved his Lord and his country and was proud of his service in the Army. He enjoyed traveling our scenic country, either in his RV or Tahoe, often stopping at the homes of relatives or his ham radio buddies. He loved nature, and loved visiting relatives whether they were in Saginaw, Mayville or Florida.

Ken’s favorite hobby was amateur radio. Licensed in 1965 as WA8REI, he was very active on the air until his death. Ken loved to operate his radio, using Morse code, from wilderness areas as well as from his home. He made loyal friends on the air all over the world.

Ken was predeceased by his parents, Ferris and Donna Louks. He is survived by his brothers David (Kathryn) Louks, Paul (Vicky) Louks, a dear aunt G. Elaine Fox, and many treasured nieces, nephews and cousins.

Honoring Ken’s wishes, there will be no formal funeral service. His wish was for his friends and relatives to remember him in their hearts and give all thanks and praise to God for our time of grace. Also per Ken’s wishes, he will be cremated, and his remains interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan at a later date. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider Hopevale Church of Saginaw

73, Ken!  May you always have good DX and great propagation - RIP, my friend.

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

Friday, February 01, 2019

Speaking of FYBO

It was 57F in the basement shack last night for the 80 Meters QRP Fox Hunt. A shirt, sweater and hoodie sweatshirt made it semi-comfortable.

The band was really quiet with nary a static crash to be heard. Randy NC4RT in North Carolina was robust in standing out from the quietness. Dan N7CQR in Oregon was at ESP at best all night. I could tell when he was keying his transmitter; but that was about the best I was able to hear him. 80 Meters was just not having it for an NJ to OR QSO.

Rather than sit in the chill until 10:30 PM local, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and pulled the big switch early. Heading upstairs to the warmth was probably the better decision as I've been plagued with some minor back spasms the past couple of days. They're not bad, just bad enough to be annoying. Getting out from the chill was probably the better idea.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

FYBO this Saturday

The AZsQRPions are sponsoring the annual FYBO contest this Saturday. Do I really need to explain what FYBO stands for? I guess for any new readers from outside the USA, it means (charitably) "Freeze Your Bottom Off."

Here in the USA, we usually use other more descriptive words in place of "Bottom", but this is a family friendly blog, so I'll keep it clean.

Funny that this contest should be dreamed up by a bunch from Arizona. We northern QRPers are so gullible!

The rules in their entirety can be found here -

But here are the bullet points:

1) The contest runs from 1400 to 2400 UTC

2) It's a QRP contest, but both CW and SSB are allowed.

3) Exchange RST, State/Province/DXCC Country (SPCs), first name, power out, and Temperature (Fahrenheit) at OPERATOR'S POSITION. Indoor stations must report INDOOR temperature.
Example: 579 AZ Frosty 2W 40F

And always, FYBO comes with this admonition - (my paraphrasing) "This is not an episode of  SurvivorMan. Have fun, but don't be stupid!"

The high temperature around here on Saturday is supposed to be around 36F  (2C). I'm not a fan of cold weather at all; but maybe I'll venture forth for an hour or so. After all, it is Groundhog Day. If the furry little rodent is brave enough to come out and test the cold weather, maybe I will, too.

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

Monday, January 28, 2019

Happy Anniversary

to me!

January 28th, 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of my very first QSO as a Novice, way back in the Stone Age. We tapped out messages on rocks, you know! Well. actually .... we only used rocks when it was too wet to send smoke signals, or the drum skins were broken.

Seriously ..... although I passed the test back in November of 1978 and got my license the last week of  December 1978, it took a while for me to put my station together. My transmitter was a used Drake 2NT from Burghardt Electronics that my parents gave to me for Christmas that year. I had to build my Heathkit HR-1680 receiver, put up my antenna (or what I called and insisted was an antenna), and figure out how the whole mish-mosh went together. After the licensing class that I took was completed, I had no Elmer. I was on my own and learned by trying things, making mistakes, fixing them or trying something else. Looking back at it, it's a wonder I didn't fry myself, or the house.

I was working at the North Brunswick Camera Center Annex store in New Brunswick, NJ at the time. Since I had to work on Saturdays, Monday was my day off. That was kind of neat because having Sundays and Mondays off, it always felt like a long weekend, even though it wasn't.  So when I made this first QSO on a Sunday afternoon, I had the whole rest of the day AND Monday to keep at it and make some more. Those were the days!

To be honest with you, I don't remember if that first QSO was a result of me calling CQ or me answering a CQ. All I remember was how nervous I was, making that first solo flight all by my lonesome.

I certainly don't remember the QSO lasting 20 minutes, but exchanging the basics at 5 WPM probably took that long! After getting that first contact under my belt, the following QSOs got easier and easier.

A couple of things:

I see KA9CIH states he was running 90 Watts. I guess that was Watts input, because of memory serves me correctly, Novices were limited to 75 Watts output back in those days.

Look at that 10 cent stamp! I think the price of a 1st Class stamp either just went up to 55 cents; or it will be very soon. Paper QSLing is becoming way too expensive!

Adam was 14, I was 21 at the time. I wish I had started out when I was his age. Better late than never, I guess.

Here was my QSL card at the time:

That was homebrewed by yours truly, as well. The poor attempt at drawing was mine (Apologies, Mr. Schulz!), but the typesetting was done with Letraset. Letraset was letters on transfer sheets. You would line up the letter on your work surface (what the commercial art world calls a "comp") and you would rub the back of the Letraset page with a stylus and the letter would adhere to the comp. After you got all the lettering done and the "comp" was finished, you would take it to a print shop, where a lithographic negative would be shot and that would be used to make an offset printing plate.

It seems so primitive now in the day and age of computers and desktop publishing - but that was the process 40 years ago.

I looked up Adam's name on QRZ and it would appear that he's no longer licensed. KA2DOH eventually became N2ELW and later W2LJ. Still going strong, 40 years later with no intention on quitting anytime soon!

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