Thursday, April 30, 2020

It was 15 years ago today

that all this blogging got started. My very first blog post was about the presentation we did on Amateur Radio for "Take Your Kid to Work" Day at the IEEE.

That was a lot of fun and it's actually hard to believe that was so long ago. The whole adventure evolved into an article by Rich Moseson in CQ magazine later that year.

I've learned a lot in 15 years of blogging - I'm not the same person that started this, so many years ago. I've gotten older, grayer and hopefully wiser (I almost misspelled that "wider" and that would be true, too!).

I've hopefully learned that my opinion really doesn't count for as much as I used to think it did, and I've learned to respect opinions that do not mesh with mine. I like to think I've become more respectful, thoughtful and kinder towards others over the years. I've definitely developed a taste for crow because of some of the things I have posted from time to time. 

All that said, this blog isn't about me. It's about you, us and Amateur Radio. I really appreciate all of you out there who take the time to read my words. If it weren't for you, this would really amount to nothing more than trying to shovel sand against the tide. My one wish is that I could meet all of you in person, give a handshake ....... er, fist bump and spend some time chatting face to face. That would be so cool!

Now ...... onto the winner of the hat giveaway. Twenty three of you took the time to enter. I thank you for that. And the winner is (drum roll, please!) ................

Entry #8 - Steve AA9VJ

Steve, I trust your QRZ address is good, I'll get the hat out to you this weekend.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Busy weekend coming up!

Last weekend, there was only one state QSO party - the Florida QSO Party. I ended up working about a dozen stations to fatten up the log. This coming weekend there is a plethora!

The 7th Call Area QSO Party - May 2nd 1300 UTC to May 3rd 0700 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P/C

The Indiana QSO Party - May 2nd 1500 UTC to May 3rd 0300 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P /DX

Delaware QSO Party - May 2nd 1700 UTC to May 3rd 2359 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P/DX

New England QSO Party - May 2nd 2000 - May 3rd 0500 UTC and again  May 3rd 1300 - 2400 UTC - Exchange RST and S/P/DX.

Tomorrow is the drawing for the Hat Giveaway - so far only 20 people have entered, so take heart all of you who have sent me your call sign so far - your chances are really, really good!


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

Monday, April 27, 2020

Happy birthday, Mr. Morse!

And while there may be arguments as to who it was who actually invented the code we use today (Vail vs. Morse), I think we can all acknowledge that Mr. Morse's invention was the catalyst that got the code invented.

It's my preferred way of conversing through Amateur Radio and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I use it 99 and 44/100ths percent of the time.

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

Friday, April 24, 2020

It's FriYay!

Coming up on the end of a VERY long work week.

This weekend is the Florida QSO Party - so another event to jump into to keep the State QSO Party Challenge (personal) going. The rules can be found at

The exchange for us non-Floridians is W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), or if you happen to be DX: RS(T) + DXCC prefix.

Not much going on with W2LJ radio-wise. I do get on our County OEM repeater each evening to participate in a County Health and Welfare Net that was started up by my good friend Marv K2VHW. It's a good thing to stay in touch with friends while this craziness continues. It takes a bit of the sting away of not being able to see each other, face to face.

Keep the hat give-away entries coming in, folks! The drawing will be next Thursday. So far, there have only been about 20 - so everyone's chances are really good at this point.

Did I just spoil that? Sorry!

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

Monday, April 20, 2020

Holy decade and a half, Batman!

Ten days from today is the 15th anniversary of the first posting of this blog. Yep, April 30th 2005 is when this all started.

So, in order to celebrate, I'm going to do another give-away. Who doesn't like getting something for free, right?

I had a hat made from Astrid's Embroidery - with the the signature line - "QRP ....When you care to send the very least!" That hat, which is in the photo above can be yours. Just send an e-mail to with your name and your call sign. I will compile a spreadsheet, assigning each entry a number, in the order received.  Then, on April 30th, I will have a random number generator program pick a number between 1 and last entry, and whoever that number is assigned to will win the hat.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Ya gotta wonder

I decided to make a foray into the "MM" contest this afternoon. Not to compete, of course, just to hand out points.  As a QRP'er, a QSO with me was worth 10 points. The exchange was "RST" and "Continent" and if you are a QRP'er, you were to add a "Q" at the end. so for example, my exchange was "5NN NA Q".

A few stations waited for the entire exchange and actually thanked me for the "Q" because they realized it granted them extra points.  But there were more than just a few speed demons who didn't wait and started calling CQ again as soon as they heard the "5NN NA". The KX3's QSK is fast enough where you can tell who got the entire exchange and who didn't. In their haste they missed the fact that would have been able to claim a 10 point QSO. Oh, well ..........

Other than the MM Contest there didn't seem to be much activity on the bands .I called CQ near the 20 Meter band QRP Watering Hole for a bit and got a reply from Ty W4TYD. But QSB came in and killed that QSO pretty darn quickly. Sorry, Ty, that we couldn't have somewhat of a rag chew.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2020

QRPTTF Disappointment

I only heard one QRPTTF station today, and that was Gene N5GW on 20 Meters. I called him a couple of times with no success. That was it. If there were any other stations calling "CQ QRPTTF" out there, I wasn't hearing them, and no one heard me when I was calling CQ.

The Michigan and Ontario QSO Parties were another matter. That was like shooting fish in a barrel. I worked about a half dozen stations in each, more or less, in the little time I put in.  It was nice to hear 40 Meters with wall-to-wall activity. I wish every weekend and every week night were like that.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Whither Field Day?

So far, among a myriad of events, Hamvention has been cancelled. I saw on Facebook this morning that is has been announced that Friedrichshafen has been cancelled in Germany - and that was scheduled for mid-late June.

So where does that leave us for Field Day?

According to an e-mail that Hudson Division Hams received from our Hudson Division Director, N2RJ:


"At the time of this email, there have been no rules changes to Field Day. The Programs and Services Committee has considered the issue and has decided to not make any changes. I am disappointed, especially since there could have been rules that encouraged social distancing. With that said, the show must go on. I sincerely hope everyone who wishes to participate in Field Day is able to do so, even if you are operating from home.

I will still advocate for common sense changes, but as it is, there is not much support in the PSC for it.

Regarding site visits - unless there is a significant positive change to the CoViD-19 situation I will not be visiting Field Day sites this year. But if you wish, we can meet virtually via your favorite video
conferencing application (We have Zoom, Skype, Jitsi, Facebook and Facetime) or you can send us a short video of your field day operation and we'll put it up on YouTube and our other social media. Or just send us photos and we'll put them up. - N2RJ"

Personally, I would hope that all this is just a bad memory by the 4th weekend in June. But something in my gut tells me that it's going to take a while to get back to anything we consider "normal". This isn't going to be like flicking a light switch back to the "on" position.

Even if we're somewhat close to normal, by then, I'm wondering how much Field Day participation might be off this year, particularly in states that were really hit hard by COVID-19. The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club is in a "wait and see" mode right now. As it gets closer to the beginning and middle of May, I surmise we will be making a more concrete decision about what we're going to do. As a matter of fact, by order of the Governor, currently all State and County parks in New Jersey are closed and are off limits. Our mayor followed suit and closed all town parks as well. For the past six years, our Field Day site was in a County park.

Sadly, the concept of doing Field Day from home is a big yawn for me. It's not the event itself, but all the social activity and camaraderie that make Field Day "Field Day".  We may have to get creative this year.

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

Monday, April 13, 2020

Looking towards next weekend

which seems to be all that's getting me through these weeks!

MI QSO Party
Noon to Midnight EDT (1600 - 0400 UTC)
Exchange - MI: Serial No. + county /  non-MI: Serial No. + (state/province/"DX")

ON QSO Party
2:00 PM to 1:00 AM EDT on Saturday - 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Sunday
Exchange - ON: RS(T) + county / Non-ON: RST + (state/province/country)

And of course, next Satruday is QRP To The Field, which might be better entitled QRP From Home or QRP From The Backyard this year.
8:00 AM to 6:00 PM local time
Exchange - RST + (state/province/country) + name/SOTA

The long range forecast for my area of the world is for showers beginning on Friday and lasting through Monday - so for W2LJ, it will be QRP From Home (basement). Sigh - at least it's a bit warmer down there than it is in the winter.

I was hoping to try out (for the first time) my new Jackite support, which was inspired by Dave KD2FSI. I guess that will have to wait for a time when the weather is better.

According to WA7BNM's Contest Calendar, I see that also next weekend is "Texas State Parks On The Air". Lucky Texas!  Here in New Jersey, all our State Parks have been closed by order of the Governor until further notice. So there's no POTA going on at all in New Jersey for the moment.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The streak continues

No, no such streak as John K3WWP's never duplicatable QRP QSO a Day streak, but my personal goal of making at least two QSOs in each of the state QSO parties in 2020.

Yesterday was North Dakota, Georgia and New Mexico. And as expected, the Georgia QSO Party was like shooting fish in a barrel. I could have made two QSOs in that state QSO party without even thinking about it much. Surprisingly to me, North Dakota, while not as easy, proved to be relatively simple as well. I thought it would be much harder as ND is one of the "tougher: states for a lot of people working on their Worked All States Award.  But three QSOs came with only a modicum of  effort.

New Mexico was the toughie of the three. After I gave the lawn its first mowing of the season, I headed down the basement and got the above mentioned QSOs in relatively short order. At that point in the day, I was not hearing New Mexico at all. I listened on 20 Meters, 40 Meters and even listened on 15 Meters. Nothing. I truly thought my goal of succeeding in this personal State QSO Party Challenge was going to come to an abrupt end.

I came upstairs for a bit to take care of a few things and headed back downstairs around 4:00 PM local time, or about 2000 UTC. I started slowly twiddling the dial on 20 Meters and stopped when I heard K1JD calling "CQ NMQP". At first I thought he was a 1-land station trying to call NM stations, but then I heard him giving out his county as part of the exchange. Wow! He turned out to be an ex-patriot from 1-land now living in New Mexico! I got him in the log rather quickly and then followed that by making a QSO with K8TE. Same deal - I guess that maybe they are retired Hams who have moved from their home states to retire to New Mexico? Whatever. I got two NM stations in the log, which was my goal. I would have liked to have worked a few more ot have fattened up the log, but I have to admit ..... I never DID hear a 5 station calling "CQ NMQP" which was kind of weird.

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

Easter Sunday - 2020

This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad!
 For Death has died ... because He has risen!

A very Blessed and Happy Easter to all!

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

Saturday, April 11, 2020

No one can screw up like I can !!!!!

After a particularly hard day at work, I decided to jump into the fray of the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party, anyway. I only stayed in for two hours, from 0000 UTC to 0200 UTC, but for those two hours, I was delighted by the amount of activity.

I garnered to QSOs on 20 Meters and was very pleased to hear and work John AE5X and Paul K4FB. 40 Meters and 80 Meters were more populated and I got 18 more QSOs for a total of 20 for the two hours. By 10:00 PM local time, my brain was going on "high fuzzy" as the octane in my tank was reaching empty. So I pulled the Big Switch and called it a night. If I had stayed on, I'm sure I would have improved my score, but I was SO tired.

This morning, when I entered my score, I screwed up big time by selecting the incorrect power multiplier. My brain, still in a state of fog, confused the "<" and ">" signs and I chose "> 5 Watts" instead of "< 5 Watts". Typical for W2LJ!

Special thanks to QRP-ARCI for hosting the event, but special kudos to Brian KB9BVN and Jim W4QO for putting on the advertising blitz which resulted in the increase in activity. I am looking forward to the next event.

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

ADDENDUM - An e-mail to Brian KB9BVN, and he graciously corrected my error. Thanks,  Brian!

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Important Rule Change

For those of you planning to work the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party this weekend. The time has been changed!  For those of us in the USA, it is a Friday evening event from 0000 UTC to 0600 UTC.

The event has been shortened to only 6 hours instead of the entire weekend - so be aware.

While I have no basis to explain the reasoning, perhaps it is because there are three State QSO Parties running this weekend. Or maybe, just because it's Easter weekend - who knows for sure?

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

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Busy weekend?

This is going to be a very weird weekend coming up.

For those of us who are Christians, this week is very important to us, especially this coming weekend. This week is Holy Week and this coming weekend is Triduum and Easter. With our Churches closed due to COVID-19, there will certainly be services live-streamed (at least in my Diocese there will), but it won't be quite the same.  I'll be missing the tactile part of the ceremonies - hearing the choir sing, smelling the incense, the feel of Holy Water as the Priest sprinkles us after the renewal of our Baptismal vows, seeing family and friends.

Usually, it has been our tradition to head north to Marianne's brother's house for Easter dinner. That was cancelled as we stay put and avoid all non-essential travel. Guess I'll be buying a ham for this weekend - the kind you eat, of course!

Amateur Radio-wise, there will be lots of activity.  The QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party is this Saturday. You can click here for the rules.  The Saturday before Easter is usually a very busy day for me. I usually help decorate our Church and otherwise prepare for Easter Sunday.  Looks like other than grocery shopping and possibly giving the lawn its first mow of the season, I'll have time to get on the air.

In addition to that, we have three more state QSO parties this weekend. On Saturday we have the New Mexico QSO Party and the Georgia QSO Party I'm pretty certain that my friends from the North Georgia QRP Club - the NoGAnauts, will be very active in that one. And on Saturday AND Sunday, the North Dakota QSO Party is being held.

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

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A big thank you

to the folks who came up with the idea for the State QSO Party Challenge!

Even though I am not "officially" participating in it - only as a personal challenge, it is providing a lot of fun and enjoyment. I got on the air this afternoon and in short order had QSOs with Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi in the log.  Nebraska was a bit harder, but I got a couple QSOs in with the Cornhusker State as well.

Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi were all plentiful on 20 Meters in the afternoon - but Nebraska was nowhere to be heard. I finally worked W0DB on 40 Meters at about 1932 UTC. I scanned the bands up and down and did not hear another Nebraskan.

After dinner, and before the nightly on-the-air 2 Meter simplex meeting of South Plainfield Hams, I once again searched 40 Meters. The CW portion was wall to wall signals! I cranked down the KX3's filters to an extremely narrow setting and twiddled the dial VERY slowly. Eventually I was fortunate to come across WB9QAF/0 and got my second Nebraska QSO in the log.

My logbook is swelling, due to the State QSO Party Challenge. It's an impetus to get on the air, and that is not a bad thing. As an added benefit, it gets my mind off all this COVID craziness that is transforming our lives. It's good to have a "comfort activity" to resort to in order to help maintain some semblance of sanity.

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

Friday, April 03, 2020

Late April's Fool Joke?

Or do we just take this with a grain of salt?

This has been predicted for a long time now, but this is the first mention I've seen from the "secular press". With the way things are going in the world, I'm ready to take any glimmer of good news that I can get.

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

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Putting our skills to good use!

From the ARRL:

Circuit Board for Bare-Bones Ventilator Moves Toward Production with Radio Amateurs’ Help


Radio amateurs continue to play key roles in developing the electronic control system for an open-source/architecture, modular, low-cost human patient ventilator. The device itself was designed by researcher Sem Lampotang and his team at University of Florida Health — the school’s academic health center — using such commonly available components as PVC pipe and lawn-sprinkler valves. The idea is to create a bare-bones ventilator that could serve in the event of a ventilator shortage.

“The way I looked at it is, if you’re going to run out of ventilators, then we’re not even trying to reproduce the sophisticated ventilators out there,” Lampotang said. “If we run out, you have to decide who gets one and who doesn’t. How do you decide that? The power of our approach is that every well-intentioned volunteer who has access to Home Depot, Ace, Lowe’s, or their equivalent worldwide can build one.”

His team is working on adding safety features to meet regulatory guidelines, then they will run engineering tests to determine safety, accuracy, and endurance of the machine, which can be built for as little as $125 to $250.

Dr. Gordon Gibby, KX4Z — a retired associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Florida and an electrical engineer — is among those involved in the project, developing control-system prototypes. He reports that a trial printed circuit board is being created, populated, and tested prior to large-scale fabrication. “This should lead to a documented open-source design that can be replicated or improved upon by any interested manufacturer,” Gibby said, noting that the board could be built anywhere in the world, based on the Arduino Nano microcontroller.

“A huge amount of work has gone on in the design of the circuit boards,” Gibby told ARRL. “We have at least two, maybe three designs, ready for fabrication.” Current design specifications and a video of prototypes have been posted online. The Arduino-based control software will set the respiratory rate and other key parameters in treating critically ill coronavirus victims. Other radio amateurs involved in the control system aspect of the project include Jack Purdum, W8TEE, and uBITX transceiver maker Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE.

Using a forum, up to 140 volunteers have been studying or working to push the project to completion. Software is being created by multiple volunteers, with amateur radio operators involved in that phase as well.

The ventilator’s valves will precisely time the flow of compressed oxygen into a patient with lungs weakened by viral pneumonia in order to extend life and allow time for the body to clear the infection.

Among the project’s assumptions: The Food and Drug Administration will waive clearance for the bare-bones design, if a massive shortage develops; traditional medical components and supplies used in ventilators will be in short supply, and transportation will be impaired or disrupted.


If you're at home, have the time and the soldering skills - please consider volunteering. This is about actively saving lives - perhaps some you love.

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

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Something ALL Hams should understand

Just a little Ham humor to lighten up the situation!

But seriously, this current crisis WILL pass, and please know that I'm keeping all of you in my prayers.

In the meantime, please keep in touch with your local Amateur Radio friends and help them if you can.  Our local group in South Plainfield has started meeting every evening on 147.570 MHz simplex - in order to stay in touch with each other, keep our collective spirits up and help each other in any way we can.

And of course, we talk about Amateur Radio - we try not to dwell on the virus too much. You can get that from the mainstream media to the point where you'll go crazy if you watch that stuff too much. We have a great hobby at our disposal - make use of it to fill your time, if you can. It's a great diversion!

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