Friday, September 16, 2022

QRP Afield tomorrow !

 As always, on the third Saturday of September, the New England QRP Club sponsors QRP Afield.

All the rules and regs can be found here - https://www.newenglandqrp.org/qrp-afield-2018/

I know, I know ....... the hyperlink says 2018, but the page has been updated with the dates for 2022, 2023 and 2024, so it's current.

I'd like to give it a whirl for at least a little bit, but weekends are just so darn busy, cramming in on Saturdays the things I don't get to do during the week because of that nasty ol' work thing. We'll see. The weather outside is forecasted to be delightful, with partly cloudy skies and temps in the upper 70s.

The backyard has been totally transformed. We had a landscaping crew come in and clean up all the overgrowth reaching into our backyard from our neighbor's yards. They also got rid of the kids swing set, which was 20 years old and beginning to rot.  We also had them tear down and remove the utility shed. The back wall had been broached by squirrels and by limbs form a neighbor's pine tree - which was removed by the new owners who recently moved in. The patio block pad is none the worse for wear and we will eventually get (probably) a metal shed of the same or a bit smaller size. Until then, I'll place the mower and whatever garden tools I wanted to keep on the pad and will keep it all covered with tarps.

The guys who did the job for us were great! No antenna or feedline damage!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, September 08, 2022

To my Amateur Radio friends in Britain

Thinking of you in your time of mourning.

If there was ever someone who was the epitome of service to their country, it was Queen Elizabeth.


God save the Queen! Long live King Charles III

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, August 22, 2022

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt 2022 Aftermath

As planned, I set up in the backyard. The Jackite pole held my PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10 aloft and the radio was of course, my KX3. With the ATU out of line, the PAR delivers a nice 1.2:1 SWR. Setup is a matter of routine, now. I started setting up with about 20 minute to go before the bell rang for the beginning of the Skeeter Hunt and I still had about 12 minutes to spare when all was said and done.

The terrestrial weather was cloudy to mostly cloudy with only a few peeks of sunshine here and there. It was hot, hovering between 88F and 91F depending on whether or not the sun was out. It was muggy, but not too uncomfortably so. I was glad I decided to set up in the back yard as I was afforded many opportunities to go inside for a refreshing glass of cold water.

Band conditions were not what I was hoping for. At the 17:00 start, I answered John Shannon K3WWP who was calling CQ on 20 Meters using the NAQCC Club call N3AQC.  He was loud, and that made me do a double take.  Basically - loud signals between Central New Jersey and Western Pennsylvania on 20 Meters?  I expected to work N3AQC on 40 Meters - not 20 Meters. It was harbinger of things to come.

As it turned out, skip was relatively short for the day on 20 Meters. later on in the afternoon, TX and OK stations started rolling in, but for the most part 20 Meters remained what I would call "relatively local". I never heard the West coast and the only VEs that I worked were in Ontario and New Brunswick - nothing to the West.

40 Meters was just plain bad. I only worked two stations - N3AQC again, this time with Mike KC2EGL behind the key and AF1N in Vermont.  I spent some time calling CQ on 40 Meters but had no luck.

I started the event calling "CQ QRP" but changed over to "CQ BZZ" after two stations on 20 Meters answered my "CQ QRP" call and initiated rag chew type QSOs.  I consider it rude to snub someone who wants to have a conversation just because I am in a QRP Sprint, so I sacrificed some contact time (maybe, maybe not) as a result of those two QSOs. 

From my QSO total, I probably didn't miss out on too much, anyway. I ended up with only 24 Skeeter QSOs, 2 non-Skeeter 5 Watt QSOs and the one ragchew was with a guy running 100 Watts. My personal goal was to make 30 contacts for the day and I came up three short.

I don't know why 40 Meters was so underpopulated with signals. Usually, it can be a money band for in-close stations, especially towards the end of the Sprint. In the past, it's been customary to see activity switch from 20 Meters to 40 Meters towards the last hour or so. Not yesterday.

Participation seemed to be high from what I could tell. My utmost thanks to everyone who participated! You guys are the best and you overwhelmingly support this Sprint year after year. The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is what it is because of all of you! I remember a slogan from my youth - it was popular among those who were protesting the war in Vietnam.

"What if they held a war and nobody came?"

What if we held the Skeeter Hunt and nobody came? The point is you folks DO come and participate. Like I said before, many of you return year after year after year.  My part in any of this is small potatoes. All of you out there are the wind beneath the Skeeter's wings!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, August 19, 2022

Skeeter Hunt Sunday!

 This coming Sunday is the annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt !!!

There's still time to get a Skeeter number of you so desire. I will be honoring any requests received until Midnight EDT Saturday/Sunday.  Latecomers will probably receive their numbers Sunday morning, so step up and don't be shy.

Complete rules can be found by going to the Skeeter Hunt page of this blog; or by going to www.qsl.net/w2lj

The terrestrial weather in my part of NJ is looking to be cloudy to mostly cloudy with a high of 87F (31C). I will most likely set up in the back yard like I did for FOBB, rather than go to a park. Energy and stamina levels are having supply chain issues these days. I'm just hoping Ol' Sol calms down and that we have some decent band conditions.

Have fun, be safe and have a great time!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least

Monday, August 01, 2022

Not sure if this is even available, anymore.

 This was the paddle I used yesterday for FOBB:


It's made from a Bulldog style paper clip.  I don't remember from where I got it; or even how long ago I acquired it - has to be 10 or more years ago. I always keep it in the portable ops bag in a hard plastic container along with my American Morse "Dirt Cheap" paddle.

This little guy has an amazingly good feel and action to it. You would think that it might get all fouled up once you hit a higher sending speed of say, 25 WPM or so, but no - it remains quite comfortable to use, and it doesn't get stuck and start sending extraneous dits or dahs.. The reason I like to use it when I'm operating from the patio table is that the rim of the table is metal. The base of the paddle is a magnet and when I place it on the table rim - it stays put!

I did a quick search on Google and eBay and couldn't find anyone who seems to be selling these. I'll have to take extra special care of it so that it doesn't get lost or damaged. Who would think that something so simple would work so well?

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


Sunday, July 31, 2022

FOBB Report

I set up on the backyard patio table. The antenna was the PAR END FEDZ held aloft by my 31 foot Jackite pole.

I made 14 FOBB QSOs, 1 POTA QSO and 1 SKCC rag chew.

Most of the activity seemed to be on 20 Meters - only 2 FOBB QSOs were on 40. The POTA and SKCC QSOs were on 40 as well. I was hoping there'd be more activity on 40 as signals always seem to be louder there.

Here's who I worked:

AB9CA

N5GW

NQ9RP

N8GAS

K4BAI

WA8ZBT

AG4P

KK4ITX

N3AQC (K3WWP at the key)

NA8Q (POTA)

AK4JA

W4LSV

WO9B

WB9TWJ (SKCC)

WA1ZCQ

K9DRP

On the whole, I thought activity was on the light side. I remember years when 40 QSOs was more the norm (for me anyway). Maybe the shine is off the apple, a bit? Maybe I'm just not as good as I used to be (which was never all that hot to begin with).

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

When is it not fun anymore?

This is a personal "rant" and all my own humble and probably misguided opinion, but I'm going to commit it to print, anyway. I'm probably totally wrong, and not many will agree with me, and I'll probably get some hate mail, but so be it., and here it goes: There are some things in Amateur Radio that started out as great ideas, intended as fun, but seem to have morphed into and have taken on lives of their own.

A case in point - NPOTA in 2016. Now don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVED NPOTA and I have often stated that 100 years from now, it will still be one of the best things that ever came out of the ARRL. It was designed to be a celebration of the Centennial of the National Park System - right? Go out, get some fresh air and have some fun, enjoy being in the Great Outdoors and maybe learn a thing or two about the park or entity that you were operating from - right?

Well, soon it became how many entities can one activate in a day, or a weekend, or a week. I guess the roving thing is fun for you competitive types, but it seemed like it was missing the point to me. When I mentioned this to one Ham of Facebook, who was lamenting that he was not able to activate as many entities in one day as he had planned, I was summarily told to "go jump off a bridge".

The same thing seems to be happening to POTA, another program I dearly love. Look on social media and there are just so many posts of people griping about pileup behavior, ops calling other ops "lids" and the like. How can it be that much fun if you're getting your panties all bunched up in a wad?!? 

I look at FISTS, the SKCC and the NAQCC and sometimes it seems like the QSOs have become just a hunt for operator numbers for awards. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that, but each of these organizations were founded to provide a FUN way to promote the use of CW, QRP or in the case of the NAQCC - both.  Exchanging member numbers is fine, but that shouldn't be the end all of the QSO.  I can't tell you how many times a QSO has ended shortly after I have given away the coveted piece of info - my membership number.  Whatever happened to the art of the rag chew? I have to state for the record that some of the best rag chews I've ever had never had a membership number as part of the conversation.

I guess I'm just not the competitive type.  When I enter QRPTTF, or FOBB or even when I came up with the idea for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, I didn't and don't go out thinking that I'm going to win or even place high in the standings. I go out with the idea of enjoying the ability to get outside get some sunshine and fresh air, have fun and forgetting about the everyday worries of life for a few hours.

I know, I'm weird. Please forgive the rant.

73 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A good FOBB suggestion by Gene N5GW

Gene N5GW is always competitive and nearly always show up in the top 5 or 10 of these QRP operating events.

He posted a suggestion on QRP-L regarding FOBB this Sunday. Since he always does so well, it may serve the rest of us to take heed:

"Most of the activity should take place on 20 Meters, but I suggest checking 15M/10M on the half hour and 40 Meters on the hour to improve our chances for QSOs during spotty band openings."

Sounds like a plan, Gene - thanks for the suggestion!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 25, 2022

A winning combination!

The other evening, Bill W2AOF and Ron N2LCZ and I got together via Zoom to submit the Field Day score for NJ2SP (the deadline for entries is tomorrow, BTW).

I can't even begin to tell you how easy a chore this has become!

What makes it so easy is that we use the N3FJP AC Log Field day package. it summarizes everything we need, including the dupe sheet and the ADIF file of the log.

All we had to do was go to the ARRL Field Day score submission website, click on a few boxes where were qualified for bonus points, attach a few supporting files, hit "Submit" and we were done in a matter of minutes!

For those of you who do not have N3FJP's Field Day logging program, I very highly recommend it. It makes what used to be a rather tedious chore a snap.

Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Flight of the Bumblebees is next Sunday!

Just a gentle reminder, FOBB is next Sunday, so if you're thinking of operating portable as a Bee, the time to sign up for a number is growing short. You can check out the Bee roster and see if there's a number you would like to have by going here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1eje4xhoXNz6P47x8v9KehhCsf_NjkhfPxzw_-7eT5YU/edit#gid=1688633864

As of now, 62 Bee numbers have been assigned. With this heat wave embroiling the country, maybe folks are hesitant about going a distance from home and setting up remotely. I know that's a concern of mine.

The 10 day forecast for South Plainfield for next Sunday is for cloudy conditions with a high in the upper 80s and a chance of showers in the afternoon. If that's the case and doesn't change, I'll probably set up on the back yard patio table under the umbrella. The antenna of choice will be the PAR END FEZ, most likely. I'm sure most of the action will be on 40 and 20 Meters, although I think the KX3 will match the PAR on 15 Meters as well, even though efficiency will go way down.

If the forecast changes with the chances for precipitation approaching zero, I may get the urge to go to Cotton Street Park, or even perhaps Washington Rock State Park. 

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Hard to believe it was 53 years ago today!

 


53 years! Where did the time go?

Buzz Aldrin is the only crew member left. The flight jacket he wore during the mission is up for auction with Sotheby's and is expected to go for more than 2 million. Wow!

I was 12 years old and was absolutely GLUED to the TV set that day. If you're old enough to remember, where were you?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

SCARC Hamfest

 I went to the Sussex County Amateur Radio Club Hamfest this morning. I was debating internally about it as the hamfest is about an hour drive from home, and after driving back from Lake George yesterday, I really didn't feel like being in the car today.

I haven't been to any hamfests this year and this is the biggest one in the northern half of the state, so I gave in and went. About the only thing I was in the market for was a second VOM. I reasoned you can usually find dozens of vendors selling them, so the chances were good that I would come home with one.

I reasoned wrong. I was only able to find one seller with VOMs on his table and he had two Radio Shack models for sale. I already have a Radio Shack VOM and it works well, but I find its analog to digital converter to be on the slow side. There's a delay between placing the probes and the reading showing up on the display. I didn't want another with the same spec.

I ran into some friends and familiar faces, so it wasn't a total loss. There was a new vendor in the indoor section that I had never heard of before - Three Mosquitos. They were selling EFHW antennas and end fed random length wire antennas, designed with the portable op in mind.  They seemed to have drawn a small crowd at the table when I was there. Here's a link to their website - https://www.threemosquitos.com/ I am interested in their drive on mast holder which I guess is coming soon, as there's no link to it yet.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Fiddlin' around


 My view for the week. Not hard to take, eh? The way this year has gone so far, it's good to be up here again. For a week at least, worries and concerns are at bay.

I hooked up the AlexLoop on the porch of the cabin and worked two POTA stations, K5SJC in Texas on 20 Meters and N2EIM in New Jersey on 40 Meters. N2EIM was set up on the Delaware / Raritan Canal. Bob lives in Princeton, so I have a pretty good idea on which section of the canal he situated himself. Funny thing is that if I was home, I'd probably never had heard him.

I was going to toss up the PAR in a tree by the side of the cabin. I don't know what's going on up here this year, but we are being invaded by moths. Medium sized brown ones that fly in your face and make a nuisance out of themselves. Harmful? No. A pain in the butt? Yes.

I'll probably continue to work off the porch with the loop. I heard some decent activity on both 20 and 17 Meters including stations from Israel and Lithuania.  I didn't break the pileups as I wasn't really trying. Today was just fiddlin' around, getting used to tuning the loop which take a little practice if you haven't done it in a while. But after a few minutes I was getting the hang of it, once again.

As I was adding the entries into AC Log, the program stopped responding. I never have a problem with AC Log, so I knew something was up. Of course, Windows decided to update and after all was said and done, my log would not load. The MDB file must have somehow got corrupted while Windows decided to do its thing. Fortunately, the most recent backup was today, so I was able to load it up after missing only about 2 or 3 heartbeats.

Oh, by the way, I saw an announcement by Rich Fisher KI6SN for the 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees. instead of me speaking about it, I'll just paste in Richard's e-mail with the links, here.

The Adventure Radio Society is eager to announce the 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees, a four-hour event on Sunday, July 31 - the last Sunday of the month.

This is one of the most popular QRP contests of the year.

For complete details of FOBB rules and instructions, and for how field stations can obtain a Bumblee number go to http://ARSqrp.blogspot.com

The official email link for 2022 FOBB is:

arsbumblebees@gmail.com

We thank you in advance for your support of the 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees and hope to see you there.

All ARS events are underwritten by 73 Radio Row.

73,

Richard

Richard Fisher, KI6SN

Co-founder, the Adventure Radio Society

73 Radio Row

Riverside, CA

So there you have it - go sign up for a Bee number!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very keast!

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Solar weather

Found this photo on the Interweb (my XYL jokingly calls it that). For you newbies who get confused by solar weather index numbers ..... and for some of us veterans who keep forgetting which way is which:



So take right now, for instance - as of this moment on July 6th 2022, the SFI is 155 (best), the A index is 4 (best) and the K index is 2 (OK) and the number of sunspots on the side of the sun facing us is 92. This indicates pretty good solar weather for those of us in radioland.

We seem to be on the upswing of the current sunspot cycle, so take advantage of good propagation while you can! It never lasts forever - but then again, the crummy conditions never last forever, either. They just seem to.

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


Tuesday, July 05, 2022

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Bonus for 2022

 "Show up!"

That's the theme and that's the bonus. Show up, operate and submit a log and you automatically get 100 Bonus Points.

Each year, it's become more difficult to come up with an Bonus Activity that's inclusive of both CW and SSB entrants. The "spelling thing" is OK, but I don't want to get into a rut with that. The very first Bonus Activity was to homebrew a key - but since we added SSB as a mode, that would not be fair to those entrants.

So this year, it's just "show up". I'll try and come up with something novel for 2023.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 04, 2022

Happy Independence Day!


 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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

Sunday, July 03, 2022

I make fix!

There was time today to head down to the basement shack and put the MFJ-1982LP antenna on the bench. This is the antenna that failed for me during Field Day - in the middle of the night (strains of Billy Joel in the background.) How does an end fed antenna go bad? I guess there are a number of ways so I had to eliminate them.

1) The wire itself was not damaged, kinked, cut or otherwise disturbed along its entire length.

2) Opening the UNUN box the toroid looked fine. No cracks, no breaks, again ..... no mars.

3) The toroid windings were of a stout gauge of enamel coated wire - no breaks or other visible defects.

That left two things - either the two capacitors in there shorted out, or one of the factory performed solder joints was dicey.

My gut went with the solder joints. Nothing was to the point of being loose or hanging free, but it looked like whomever soldered the joints thought that solder was going for about $200 a pound. The solderer could have been way more generous with the stuff.

I heated up the ol' Weller, added more solder to ALL the joints and headed out to Cotton Street Park, my home for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.

The first thing I did after setting up was to bypass the ATU in the KX3. A brief hit of the tune button showed about a 1.2:1 match on 20 Meters. No more infinite SWR readings!

As long as I had everything set up, I decided to work a few stations. First up was AC6ZM on 14.044 MHz. He was at POTA K-7605. I haven't looked up where that is, I'll do it later.

I know I said I wasn't going to bother with the 13 Colonies Special Event, but they provided such a target rich environment. Perfect for giving a repaired antenna a workout!

I worked TM13COL on 20 Meters, making it through the pile up with 5 Watts. Then I switched to 40 Meters and worked K2E is Delaware and K2M in Pennsylvania. I finished the test back up on 20 Meters by working K2G in Georgia. The op was Phil K3UT and he must have recognized my call as he didn't send that bit of info to anyone else he was working.

I listened for a bit on 15 Meters but didn't hear anything, so I packed up my hastily erected setup and returned home. It's a comfort to know that I have the antenna back at my disposal. However, I'm still going to set up a backup antenna next year at Field Day - bitten once, twice shy.

As far as 13 Colonies goes, that was enough for me. I'll let the newer stations or those who have never gotten a clean sweep have a go at it.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 02, 2022

QRP Summer Homebrew Sprint

 As seen on the Flying Pigs ARCI e-mail reflector:

The 2022 Summer Homebrew Sprint is just around the corner! 

2000Z to 2300Z July 10th

Bonus points for homebrew equipment, and portable battery powered operations. 

All the details can be found here:

https://www.qrparci.org/contest/summer-homebrew-sprint-2020

Entries must be posted on or before July 29th online at www.qrpcontest.com 

73,

Paul K4FB

Maybe I can jump on the air a bit from Lake George,

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 01, 2022

Turned out I was right, after all!

 Wow! I guessed something right for a change!

I went down to the shack at just a little after 9:00 PM and fired up the KX3.  I tuned around in the vicinity of 14.060 MHz and found John K4BAI pretty quickly. He was about a 569 or so on the W3EDP. To see if it would make any difference, I switched over to the Butternut.

Again ........ WOW!

John was a solid 599. I put out my call and made contact on my second try. I not only got a 589 report, but since I haven't partaken of the Fox Hunts in a while, I also got a "W2LJ FB".

I may have to do this more often! 

To be honest, there were several reasons I stopped doing the Hunts. The main reason, as I've stated before is the time. Not only do they start late for an early riser like me, but the competition (mostly with myself) to see how quickly I could work both Foxes left me so wired that I had a hard time falling asleep afterward. Silly, isn't it? But I guess that's my OCD kicking in.

So from here on out, I'm going to take the "take it easy" approach if and when I participate. No putting pressure on myself. I bag a pelt or two ..... fine. I don't ....... that's fine, too. It's much more enjoyable and satisfying this way.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Even though I don't partake much anymore

the 2022 Summer QRP Fox Hunt season started last Thursday.

For all the particulars, you can visit https://www.qrpfoxhunt.org/ for the rules and the schedule.

By the time 9:00 PM rolls around here in NJ, I'm usually too pooped to pop. But now that Summer is here and the basement is the coolest part of the house, I might just give it another whirl. The problem is that my 5:30 AM wake up time comes way too fast!

Tonight's Foxes are John K4BAI and Steve WX2S. I don't expect to hear Steve as we are all of about 18 miles apart. My head is telling me I have a better chance of hearing John, who lives in Georgia.  But my head is a silly thing sometimes and can often lead me astray.  So now that I've published my thoughts, I'll probably hear Steve and John will be silent. Go figure.

I went over to eBay today and put RigExpert in as one of my favorite searches with e-mail alerts when new postings are made. Who knows? One of these days I might get lucky and will find an antenna analyzer that I can actually afford.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

13 Colonies coming up

 Next Monday we celebrate Independence Day here in the US of A - our nation's birthday. So, beginning on July 1st and running through the 7th (I think) is the 13 Colonies Special Event.


This has become a biggie, drawing a ton of participation from within and without the continental United States. The bands will be crowded and that's a good thing.

I, myself, will not be participating. I've done the clean sweep thing about three or four times now and have nothing to prove. I also have another reason, but won't go into that here, What would be cool, though, would be if somehow 13 Colonies and POTA could somehow combine efforts so that each colony would be activated from a park. Each program would benefit from the activity.

The weather for the holiday weekend seems to be a mixed bag - unsettled on Saturday with scattered thunderstorms, then clearing on Sunday and the best of the three days on Monday. Besides the normal household "stuff" that I have the honor of doing every weekend, I'd like to re-solder the joints on my MFJ-1982 end fed and then test that out.  I'd also like to go to Cotton Street park and get some practice in with the arborist's throw bag and line that I purchased at the end of last summer.

Our annual pilgrimage to Lake George is coming up soon, and I'd like to throw the PAR up into a tree behind our cabin, rather than just rely on the magloop as my sole antenna for the week. I'm going to need to get the feel of that bag down, so that I don't look like a fool, or worse, damage something.

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

BTW ........ The new "header" photo. That was taken by my best friend from high school, Don, back in 1979 after I had upgraded to General.  You can make out my Heathkit HR-1680 receiver and next to that was a Kenwood T599. Underneath was my Realistic DX-160 receiver which I had from my SWLing days. On the other side of the HR-1680 were a clock (so it was close to 5:30 PM when Don took the picture), speaker and an MFJ VersaTuner, Model whatever. I have long lost the Ragchewer's Club Certificate and if my failing memory serves me, there was an ARRL Membership Certificate posted on the wall. If you look closely, KA2DOH had a little facial hair back in those days - I sported a mustache for a few years. Tried growing it back a few years ago, but it comes in all gray, so I ditched that idea.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Some post-mortem Field Day thoughts

While I understand the mindset of those who really consider Field Day to be an uber-contest and go whole hog........ as I get older, I see the wisdom of keeping it simple.  A few wire antennas, a few low power portable rigs make set up in 90F weather much easier and by the same token, tear down is much less of a horror after being up for 30+ hours. Taking down hexbeams, yagis and makeshift towers is a younger man's game. Definitely. Plus you get the added bonus of having visitors say, "You were talking to California (or wherever) with just 5 Watts and some wire?"

CW speeds - this one might be a ticking time bomb. If you want to run QRQ - by all means, go ahead. But if you expect a lot of responses on Sunday morning at 9:00 AM from guys who have been at this continuously since Saturday at 2:00 PM - I think you're barking up the wrong tree. There's no disgrace at keeping CW speeds at a more realistic 25 WPM or less neighborhood. And for Pete's sake, if a guy is calling "CQ FD" at about 18 WPM, QRS for him, please! You're not impressing anyone by continuing to send at 40 WPM. You're just annoying the rest of us by you forcing him to ask you to repeat your exchange for 5 or 6 times.

For those of you, who like us, run a club effort ....... I really recommend N3FJP's logging software. We're lucky enough to have Ron N2LCZ, who is a networking guru set up our logging system . He does it so that we're all tied into a portable network. We log at laptops and this all feeds into a master desktop acting as a server. I couldn't set this system up if my life depended on it, but Ron makes it so that the entire FD team can see our collective effort at each and every transmitting position. And it makes reporting results to the ARRL as easy as falling off a log.

Don't discount digital ops. While I'm not a devotee of FT8 or whatever the digital mode du jour is - they are an invaluable tool. Dave KD2FSI was our DX King, working into New Zealand, Hawaii and other distant locals with the digital modes. Plus ........ while they might not everybody's cup of tea, they also seem to attract the younger crowd and that is definitely a plus.  A youngster of say, 15 or 16 may think Morse Code is cool and may really be attracted to the paddles and keyer,. I know this first hand, as I have witnessed it. On the other hand, that same youngster will undoubtedly feel right at home and like an old pro behind the keys of a laptop. I may not be the one to do it, but sit with a youngster and guide him/her through a connection with the other side of the country (or world) in their first few attempts and you may have hooked someone for life. Getting that youngster to realize he/she can enjoy SSB and CW can come later.

Field Day is the most excellent opportunity to get inactive Hams on the air again. For whatever reason, some Ham's enthusiasm for the hobby can dry up. Raising a family, working a job (or two) might leave no time for sitting behind the radio. Let them sit down and make a few contacts and you're going to help re-ignite that old flame. It works....... I've seen guys who have not been on the air for decades, but have kept their licenses active look at my KX3, see what it can do and they're almost salivating! "THAT little rig does all this?!?"

Besides being a contest, Emergency Communication exercise or whatever ....Field Day is perhaps our biggest PR opportunity of the year. Take advantage of it.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Monday, June 27, 2022

Field Day 2022 ........"Put 'er in the books!"

 Another Field Day has come and gone. This year was not without its surprises, but as Clint Eastwood said as Gunnery Sargent Thomas Highway in "Heartbreak Ridge" - "You improvise, adapt, and overcome!"

The week started with a Proclamation of Amateur Radio Week in South Plainfield by our Mayor and Borough Council.



Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the Council meeting as I'm still going to physical therapy for my hand twice a week. But we were well represented by Ron N2LCZ, Marv K2VHW, Bill W2AOF, and Harry KC2PGX. Mayor Matt Anesh is standing to the right. By the way, Matt's father, John AB2VE is a member of SPARC.

Field Day 2022 arrived itself on a day quite beautiful - sunny, blue skies, white puffy clouds - but HOT! I made the grocery shopping trip for the family first and when I arrived at the Field Day site at Putnam Park at about 10:00AM it was already in the 90s! (30s C)

Setup went without a hitch and we were able to actually sit for a breath before the main event arrived at 1800 UTC.


The "Communications Center" was a 10 X 20 carport and two 10 X 10 pop-up canopies. The carport was donated to the club by Marv K2VHW and worked out exceedingly well. We improvised sides using tarps which would have kept out the inclement weather, if we had gotten any. They were rolled up on the front side, but we kept them in the down position on the backside. This was a heckuvalot more economical than the commercial tent that Dave KD2FSI used to so generously rent for us.



A few years back, we purchased some small banners from Vistaprint to help visitors who are not familiar with Amateur Radio to let them know what they were looking at. That's Dave KD2FSI and Eric KD2ONY setting up the satellite antennas in the background.


This is a picture of Dave KD2FSI's 80-10 Meter end fed antenna, set up in an Inverted Vee configuration. Dave has the QRO version and I have the QRP version - both from MFJ. Dave's was oriented North and South, while mine was oriented East and West. More about mine, later.


My solar panel just topping off my PowerWerx battery before festivities began.


We remembered Bill Koeth W2WK who became a Silent Key earlier this year by having one of the keys he handbuilt at a place of honor at the Field Day site. I'm lucky enough to be able to call this one "mine".


Marv K2VHW getting a little CW in on 20 Meters. I stayed mostly on 40 or 80 Meters. We split operations at the station Marv was sitting at in this photo between CW and SSB modes. I'll explain why, in a bit.




Dave KD2FSI was our digital and satellite op. Dave was quite successful in making FT8 contacts and VHF/UHF contacts. The satellite end of things was not so quite as cooperative.  You can see Dave's empty water bottle there. Bill W2AOF brought a huge cooler and it was filled with ice covered bottles of water, Gatorade and cans of soda. That was a vital component of our 2022 Field Day effort. Without hydration, we would have been calling on EMS to cart us away!


Who's that guy?


My 40 Meter CW station set up.


I brought my Bencher Mercury paddle for use at Field Day. I love it's action and it's feel. However, no one and I mean absolutely NO ONE but me touches my Begali paddle. That was safe and sound on the operating bench at home.


Neil WA2EGE getting in on the action.



The overnight - the toughest part of Field Day!



Marty W2BEW was our primary SSB op and as usual, did an outstanding job!


W2LJ looking at the rig in frustration. QSB was terrible on Saturday. I'd answer a station calling "CQ FD" at 20 over 9, only to have them go down below the noise floor when they sent their exchange. On the other hand propagation was decent and we were able to work just about anyone we heard. We were putting stations in the log at a decent rate until about 11:00 PM or so local time, and that's when a potential disaster struck.

Around 10:00 PM or so, we had a visitor stop by, Antoinette KK4TTX who is a Ham who had re-located to New Jersey from North Carolina. She's a Tech who has been off the air for a while and she wanted some tips and pointers on antennas, about the local repeaters up here as well as the inside information about clubs in the area. We sat and talked for about a half hour or so and when she left, I sat down at the rig and switched over to 80 Meters. The band was busy and there were lots of loud signals. I called a few loud stations only to have them come back to me calling "CQ FD" once again. That was not a good sign to say the least! Something was wrong, even though the KX3 looked fine and was its old reliable self. Dave KD2FSI came over to me with his RigExpert analyzer (I really have to save up to buy one of these!). and he attached it to my MFJ end fed only to find it reading an SWR of infinity. Holy! On ALL bands!

It was pitch dark at a public park, and we were in the woodsy part of the park with no commercial lighting (the park is usually closed after dark, but we were granted permission to remain overnight) - so what do you do? We limped along - we improvised, adapted, and overcame. When Marty needed a break at the SSB station, we would switch Dave's MFJ end fed over to my rig. We'd operate until either Marv or I needed a break and then we'd switch the antenna back over to Marty. Not the most ideal arrangement, but I wasn't about to make an antenna swap until first light.

First light arrived at about 4:45 the next morning and I waited for just a few more minutes until it was bright enough to take down the MFJ all band end fed and replace it with my PAR END FEDZ 10-20-40, as seen below.


We were back to two antennas! It kind of sucked not to be able to go up to 15 Meters, but we were back to simultaneously making CW and SSB contacts and that was the important point at that moment. Once I had the MFJ coiled back on its holder, I took the screws out of the little box that is the UNUN. The toroid was fine. I viewed what I perceived to be one or two suspect soldering joints though. I am going to re-solder those properly and then give the antenna a test. If the high SWR still prevails, the only thing it could be, then, are the two capacitors inside the little black box, and I'll have to swap those out. They LOOK fine though, so I am suspecting a suspect soldering job. Even after I make repairs, next year I am going to string up the PAR or maybe my other W3EDP into one of the many trees near us so that I can have back up ready and raring to go, if needed. Like the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me".

All in all, it was a great Field Day! Even though since last year we re-located to a smaller Borough park from the County park we had been at, we had more visitors than ever this year! In addition to Derryck White from South Plainfield Borough Council (who, by the way, made a tremendous post about us on the Borough Council's Facebook page - thanks, Derryck!) we had John Garmendi N2DV the Middlesex County ARES Bureau Chief and his wife stop by. Eric Martin KD2ZME the head of Middlesex County CERT stopped by and we had a long discussion on CERT drills and acquainting the CERT Teams in the county that have an Amateur Radio component. We also had visits from Bill Kelly NB1LL, the local American Red Cross liaison and his wife. They presented us with a certificate for our Field Day activation.


We also had visits from Ria Jairam N2RJ, our ARRL Hudson Division Director as well as members from the South Plainfield EMS Team who were interested in our operations.

I'm not exactly sure how this year's edition of Field Day will stack up against our previous efforts. Being without one of the main antennas for close to 6 hours will probably show a remarkable decline in our statistics. However, we had fun and in the long run, that's all that's important. We all went home after tear down a bit hot, sweaty, sticky and exhausted but at the same time quite content and happy. I hope YOUR Field Day was as good, if not better, than ours.

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

Special "Thanks" and a tip o' the call sign cap to Mario Labot KD2HPF for providing us with many excellent Field Day photos.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

When you haven't been on the air for a long time ...

 ... you tend to forget how much fun it is.

2022 has not been my best year. As I've told the tale here before, I injured my hand at work in January and had to undergo surgery. I've been dealing with physical therapy twice a week since then. Sessions are right after work and I get home really late. It's all I can do to grab something light to eat and then melt into bed.

Then, in March, my latest PSA results came back and were not good. That led to having a prostate biopsy done, which in and of itself was not terrible, but at the same time was no fun. The results of that were not what I was hoping for. I'm now in the process, along with my doctors, of determining a course of treatment for prostate cancer. The good news is that it has been caught early and it can be totally cured. CT scans and bone scans have revealed it hasn't spread. Within the next few weeks a decision will be made to either go with surgery or radiation treatments.

Guys .... get those yearly physicals and blood work done. The life you save will be your own!

Needless to say, with all these pre-occupations, my desire to be on the radio has not been Priority #1. But tonight, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, Brian KB9BVN posted that good friend, and QRPer par exellence, Dave AB9CA was doing a POTA activation on 7.035.50 MHz, at K-1945 in Ohio.

I figured "What the heck!"

I ran downstairs and turned on the KX3 and Dave was right there, just where Brian said he would be. The KX3 was switched to the W3EDP and sounded pretty good. I gave him a few calls as he had quite the pileup going. Sadly, no dice, so I switched over to the Butternut HF9V. 

Wow! His signal was now much louder - a true 599. A few more tries and I made it into his log! My cares and worries had me forget how much fun this radio business is! It was only one QSO but I enjoyed myself immensely. I will make it a point to get on the air way more often than I have been. It's a good tonic for the weary soul.

My backyard neighbor totally removed all the vegetation that was on his side of our mutual fence. For the first time in a few years the Butternut is now totally in the clear. It may not be as stealthy without the foliage camouflage, but it seems to be performing better than it has been.

One other note before I close. Please remember that Sunday, August 21st will be the 11th annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt,  I will be handing out Skeeter numbers in response to e-mails sent to me beginning on June 21st, the first day of Summer.  Please don't send in your requests before then. I will update the Skeeter Hunt website within the next few days. Thanks for your cooperation!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Cool Morse Code video

I haven't been on much, or have been posting much lately. I won't bore you with details, but a lot has been focusing my attention away from radio. Hopefully in the next few months that will change. In the meantime - I thought this was way cool!


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

More on the upcoming FCC license fee

 From Amateur Radio Newsline:

New FCC Application Fee Will Not Apply to Amateur Radio License Upgrades

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff has clarified in response to an ARRL request that the new $35 application fee will not apply to most license modifications, including those to upgrade an amateur radio licensee's operator class and changes to club station trustees. The FCC staff explained that the new fees will apply only to applications for a new license, renewal, rule waiver, or a new vanity call sign. As previously announced, the new fees take effect on April 19, 2022.


"We are pleased that the FCC will not charge licensees the FCC application fee for license upgrade applications," said ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. "While applicants for a new license will need to pay the $35 FCC application fee, there will be no FCC charge for future upgrades and administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. Most current licensees, therefore, will not be charged the new FCC application fee until they renew their license or apply for a new vanity call sign."


ARRL previously reported that the new $35 application fee for amateur radio licenses will become effective on April 19, 2022. Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee.


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, April 02, 2022

So you fancy yourself the "Wordle" champ, eh?

To be honest with you, I'm not even sure how Wordle works. All I know is that it's some kind of word game where (I think) you have to guess the word of the day and you get a certain number of tries. All I know is that I see a ton of posts on social media about how people have done that day. Even my sister posts!

I've not tried, nor jumped into the fray, or think I ever will. At least the "conventional" game. There is a new one that I learned of today thanks to Dave Ring N1EA on the CW e-mail reflector. This version is called "Morsle".

https://morsle.fun/

Just for fun.

Morsle - the daily Morse code challenge

Welcome to the daily Morse code challenge

Brought to you by Remote Ham Radio

You have 21 tries to guess the word, which will be played aloud in Morse code.

Playback speed starts at 40 WPM, which is pretty fast, but don't worry! Every three tries, the speed decreases by 5 WPM.

Each time you play the word or submit a guess, you are deducted one try, so conserve those guesses until you are certain you have correctly guessed some letters.

You can guess at any time, even if there are some blank letters. Correct answers will be marked in green, but there are no other hints.

I got today's word on the second try at 40 WPM - so I guess I can still copy well enough. Good job on whomever came up with this! I look forward to rising to the challenge each day. In addition to the "main game", there's a practice session and you can change between regular words and call signs.

I'd like to see the "Wordle" champs take this one on!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Friday, March 25, 2022

The bee in the bonnet of some American Hams

 The particulars - according to the ARRL:

New Amateur Radio License Applications Fee To Become Effective April 19, 2022

03/24/2022

A Public Notice released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 23, 2022, in MD Docket No. 20-270, announced that new application fees for Wireless Telecommunications Bureau applications will become effective on April 19, 2022. The new fees, mandated by Congress, apply to applications for Amateur Radio licenses including those associated with filing Form 605, the Amateur Operator/Primary Station Licensee Application.

Effective April 19, 2022, a $35 fee will apply to applications for a new Amateur Radio license, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call signs.

Anticipating the implementation of the fee in 2022, the ARRL Board of Directors, at its July 2021 meeting, approved the "ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program." Under the program, ARRL will cover a one-time $35 application fee for license candidates younger than 18 years old for tests administered under the auspices of the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC). Qualified candidates also would pay a reduced exam session fee of $5 to the ARRL VEC. ARRL is finalizing details for administering the program.

ARRL had filed comments in opposition to imposing a fee on Amateur Radio license applications. The FCC initially proposed a higher, $50 fee. In a Report and Order (R&O), released on December 29, 2020, the amount was reduced -- the FCC agreeing with ARRL and other commenters that its proposed $50 fee for certain amateur radio applications was "too high to account for the minimal staff involvement in these applications."

ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, explained that all fees are per application. "There will be no fee for administrative updates, such as a change of mailing or email address. The fees will be the responsibility of the applicant regardless of filing method and must be paid within 10 calendar days of FCC's receipt of the application. For applications filed by a VEC, the period does not begin until the application is received by the Commission, a ULS file number assigned, and an email sent by the FCC directly to the applicant."

VECs and Volunteer Examiner (VE) teams will not collect the $35 fee at license exam sessions. New and upgrade candidates at an exam session will continue to pay the $15 exam session fee to the ARRL VE team as usual, and pay the new, $35 application fee directly to the FCC by using the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES - Login).

When the FCC receives the examination information from the VEC, it will email a link with payment instructions to each successful candidate who then will have 10 calendar days from the date of the email to pay. After the fee is paid and the FCC has processed an application, examinees will receive a second email from the FCC with a link to their official license or explanation of other action. The link will be good for 30 days.

Somma also explained that applications that are processed and dismissed will not be entitled to a refund. This includes vanity call sign requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign. "The FCC staff has suggested that applicants for vanity call signs should first ensure the call signs requested are available and eligible for their operator class and area, and then request as many call signs as the form allows to maximize their chances of receiving a call sign."

Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC at www.arrl.org/fcc-application-fee. Details for the ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program will be similarly posted there, when available.


Just like anyone else, I don't enjoy paying what is in essence, just another tax - but it is what it is.  This was mandated by Congress, not the FCC, so there's no use being mad at them.

I'm happy to see that the ARRL is going out of their way to help young Hams under the age of 18. Not only covering the $35 fee; but also reducing the cost of the test. It's a good thing to remove roadblocks preventing younger blood from joining the ranks.

As far as older Hams living on a fixed budget are concerned - this is a great incentive for local clubs to develop a program to help defray the cost of the fee for those who TRULY need it. But if you can afford a K4 with all the bells and whistles, an extra $35 to the FCC isn't going to hurt that much, is it?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


 

Friday, March 04, 2022

The purpose of Amateur Radio

 at least, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission for Radio Amateurs in the United States:

Part 97.1  - Basis and Purpose

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles: 

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications. 

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art. 

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art. 

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts. 

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Special emphasis on the last one. Be an ambassador for goodwill!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Not trying to be political or controversial

 Not trying to get involved in the middle of anything. It just goes to show that there ARE times when "old fashioned" analog radio is the ultimate backup "when all else fails".

When the ARRL introduced their "When All Else Fails" placard and bumper sticker a few years ago - it resulted in chuckles in some places.

"Radio - who needs it? We have cell phones and the internet now!"

"Radio is old fashioned and obsolete ...... Amateur Radio is still a thing?"

The BBC might not be Amateur Radio, but they have resurrected some of their shortwave service. As long as there is an ionosphere, analog radio will NEVER be obsolete!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

For the Key collectors and users out there.

 This was brought to my attention by David Ring N1EA on the CW e-mail reflector. It's a Kindle book for $2.99 by Ken Krause. It is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FH2MN3W/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Here's the description as it appears on Amazon:

"This book describes the best way to clean Vibroplex and other telegraph keys. It includes buying tips, how to clean and repair telegraph keys, and much more. This short book will teach you the best ways to clean and repair your Vibroplex key without ruining it.

Many keys get ruined by improper cleaning techniques. Don't let this happen to your key. If you plan on cleaning your Vibroplex key this book is a must read before you begin.

You will learn how to make your own cleaning solution, how to blue steel, how to make minor repairs, how to clean bases and nameplates - everything you need to know to get the job done right the first time."

It looks worthwhile to have and the fact that Dave Ring endorsed it is good enough for me ... and the price is right!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, February 18, 2022

A good one for the QRP CW Newbs

 This weekend is the ARRL DX Contest (CW).

Even in you're not a contester and even if you're not a CW Wizard, this is still a good one to dive into for several reasons:

1) It will improve your CW.

2) The exchange is simple.

3) You'll be able to work your way well toward earning QRP DXCC.

4) It's a lot of fun!

Here's the official line from the ARRL:

Contest Objective: To encourage W/VE stations to expand knowledge of DX propagation on the HF and MF bands, improve operating skills, and improve station capability by creating a competition in which DX stations may only contact W/VE stations. One contest period is CW-only and one is Phone-only.  Use only the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands.

W/VE amateurs: Work as many DX stations in as many DXCC entities as possible.

DX stations: Work as many W/VE stations in as many of the 48 contiguous states and provinces as possible.

Dates:

CW: Third full weekend in February (February 19-20, 2022).

Phone: First full weekend in March (March 5-6, 2022).

Contest Period: Begins 0000 UTC Saturday and runs through 2359 UTC Sunday.

Exchange:

W/VE stations send a signal report and their state or province. DX stations send a signal report and power as a number or abbreviation.

How simple is that?

But here's the big tip!

For those of you new to QRP CW - either your code is kinda on the slower side; or you're not a big contester - I would wait to jump into the fray until Sunday.  If you jump in right at the beginning, you're likely to get frustrated and discouraged. At the beginning of any big contest like this - it' s best to let the big guns and CW speed demons get their rocks off for a while.  From the very beginning, a lot of the CW is going to be sent so fast, that you'll think you're listening to a buzz saw.

It's way better to wait until the latter part (second half) of the contest. Those big guns will have worked just about everyone they could have and they will more than likely be willing to listen for weaker signals and slower CW in order to fill up their logs. This is your big chance!

If conditions are right, and you're new to QRP DX, you can easily work your way to a quarter, halfway or even more countries needed for QRP DXCC.

Go get 'em!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The ugly truth

 Saw this posted on Facebook and had to share:


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

ARRL announces Field Day rule changes for 2022

From the ARRL Website:

Some New Rules Going into Effect this Year for ARRL Field Day

02/09/2022

After taking a few detours over the past couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ARRL Field Day rules are being updated on a permanent basis starting this summer. ARRL conducted a Field Day community survey with invitations propagated far and wide, and direct emails sent to more than 15,000 individuals and ARRL-affiliated clubs. After sorting through, reviewing, and discussing the survey results, the ARRL Programs and Services Committee recommended a number of rule changes for ARRL Field Day, which will take place this year over the June 25 – 26 weekend.

Starting this year, the maximum PEP output for a transmitter used by anyone submitting a Field Day log will be 100 W. The power multiplier of 2 will remain in place, and the high-power category will be removed from the rules. Until this year, the maximum low-power limit had been 150 W for most ARRL-sponsored operating events. The power multiplier will remain at 5 for QRP participants running a maximum of 5 W or less. As previously announced, 100 W is now the low-power category limit for all ARRL and IARU HF Contests, effective January 1, 2022.

A couple of changes instituted initially as accommodations for the COVID-19 pandemic will remain. Class D (Home) stations will continue to be able to earn points for contacts with other Class D stations. The club aggregate scoring change initiated in 2020 as a temporary measure will become part of the permanent rules. In the aggregate scoring plan, the scores of individual stations are combined under the score of a single club.

Another change, involving Rule 7.3.2 Media Publicity, has been modified. Rules to date have offered 100 bonus points for attempting to obtain publicity and demonstrating same. With the ease of posting via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various other media websites, Field Day participants will now be required to obtain publicity, not just try to do so. Any combination of bona fide media hits would qualify for the bonus points. For example, posting the details of your upcoming or ongoing Field Day activity, or your Field Day results, on a club or news media site, on Facebook, or via Twitter and Instagram would meet the bonus criteria. Photos and videos are encouraged as part of media posts.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Low attendence?

 From what I've been reading on QRP-L, Freeze Your Buns Off, held this past Saturday didn't have much in the way of participation. I'm partly to blame for that as I haven't been in the mood lately to get on the radio. But is this a creeping phenomena?

The warmer weather staples, QRP To The Field, The Flight of the Bumblebees, the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt and for that matter, an October event,  The Zombie Shuffle still seem to have a decent amount of participation. But other events seem to be experiencing a decreasing amount of participation. Maybe that's just my misguided perception?

I think a big part of this is publicity and advertising. If you want a successful event, you can't announce it once and expect everyone to just "show up". There has to be way more than that. Multiple announcements (not to the point of SPAM, of course, but more than one) need to be made. And the announcements need to be made in as many outlets as possible. QRP-L is a good starter, but other QRP e-mail group reflectors. as well as social media sites need to be utilized.

Maybe that seems like too much effort on the part of the organizers. I don't know. But it seem to me, if you want an event with lots of participation, you have to get the word out early and often. You can't sit back on the laurels of past participation and assume everyone will remember for next year, ESPECIALLY when the sunspots are in the doldrums. We seem to be coming out of that now, though - maybe that will help.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, February 06, 2022

My silence

 At the beginning of 2022, two of my resolutions were to get on the air more and post here more. As John Lennon wrote, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

On January 12th, I had a little accident at work:


I cut the back of back of my third (middle) finger on my left hand, between the hand and the first knuckle. Not only did I require five stitches, I also severed the tendon.

I was cutting open a plastic bag containing rolls of bubble wrap, turned my head for half a second and sliced myself, and the rest is history. I went to a MediMerge where they stitched me up. I have some more graphic photos that I won't post here out of consideration for those with weak constitutions.

I required surgery, which was done on January 27th. The Hand Specialist reattached the ends of the tendon and put some pins in place (temporarily) to prevent me from bending the finger.


I'm currently wearing this hard plastic splint which has relegated me to the world of one-handedness. Luckily, my right hand is my dominant hand, but it's still a not deluxe situation. I see the surgeon tomorrow for a follow up visit and will find out more how long it will be before stitches and pins are removed.

Until I get somewhere back to normal, my blogging will probably be on the light side. Just wanted you to all know that I haven't disappeared or gone anywhere, I'm just not 100% right now.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Skeeter Hunt Video

 I wanted to share with you a video by Rick McGaver NK9G. He produced this regarding his effort in the 2021 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. He published it to YouTube, but granted me permission to post it here. Rick spent a lot of time on it and I think it came out very well - OK, I'll admit I'm biased with the subject material. Judge for yourselves:


Thank you, Rick for the superb video. I'm hoping we see a definite uptick of entries for 2022!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, January 01, 2022

A little activity

 I rang in the new year with just a little bit of activity.

New Year's Eve was of course, Straight Key Night and I got on the air after a little detective work. My W2WK straight key did not work at first. Tapping the key resulted in a big - nothing. I broke out the VOM and checked for continuity. One post to the key arm and I got the confirming "BEEP". The other post to the contact point and I also got the confirming "BEEP".  The only thing I could think of was that Bill may have silver coated the contact point, so I put a little NOXON polish on a Q-Tip and cleaned the actual contact points. Eureka! A functioning straight key! I worked W4NNF in Mobile, Alabama for my SKN QSO. After I finished with Rod, Marianne arrived home from work, so I QRT'ed and went upstairs.

This morning, after Mass, I came home and tried the QRP watering holes to see if there was any activity in the QRP-ARCI New Year Sprint.  I worked Rick NK9G in Wisconsin and Mark WB9HFK in Illinois. Other than those two, there was not much activity that I was able to hear. I did hear Gene N5GW in Mississippi working stations, but he was not calling CQ.

I'm hoping to work some POTA stations tomorrow.

My New Year resolutions for 2022 are very modest and very do-able (why set lofty goals that you have no chance of accomplishing?)

1) Get on the air more than 2021 - very do-able.

2) More relevant and timely posts here - again, very do-able.

3) Get the 2021 Skeeter Hunt soapbox published and the certificates printed and mailed by the end of January. Do-able.

4) Activate some New Jersey parks this year. Very do-able as I can incorporate that with other QRP events, such as QRPTTF, QRP Afield, FOBB and the Skeeter Hunt.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!