Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022


Today in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, which was instituted by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, which was a particularly fierce battle of the Civil War.

There are many things to be grateful for and about a week ago at this past soup kitchen session, where I volunteer once a month, I met someone who really inspired me to list some of the things that I am thankful for. I did this over a period of eleven days on Facebook.  I wanted to share with you Day 10:

Gratitude Day 10 - This one may seem a little weird and nerdy, but stick with me on this. For Day 10, I am grateful for my hobby, which is Amateur Radio....for a lot of reasons. I've been a licensed Ham for 44 years now.  The smattering of electronics that I had to learn for my license led me to 22 year career at Sinar Bron, where I was Service Manager. In order to learn even more about electronics, I enrolled and went to night classes at DeVry where I met another good friend (he's on FB and he knows who he is). The hobby led me to memberships in several clubs where I have established some of my most important friendships. Rather than embarrass them,  I'll just name a few call signs ... W3BBO, K2VHW, KD2FSI, AB2ZK, W2AOF, N2LCZ, W2OIL, KC2YRC, K2NBC, WB2KLF, AB2VE .... this list could go on for days and days, and doesn't even begin to touch the hundreds of Ham friends I've gained through Facebook and the internet, and the many I have met over the airwaves.  Also, I was privileged to know some fine Hams who have passed and are now known as Silent Keys ... W2OU, W2WK, K2FD, WV2O, N2EBA, WB2MSV, N2LHD - all good and treasured friends. Besides providing me with hundreds of hours of fun and enjoyment,  Amateur Radio also led me to become a CERT member as well as a volunteer part of the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management. The hobby has provided quite a ride, for which I am most grateful.

I hope all of you who celebrate today have a truly wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Field Day Scores 2022


The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club under call sign NJ2SP has done something it hasn't done since 2017. We've come in 2nd Place in the 3A Battery category. 2nd Place out of 10 entries.  To be honest with you, at the end of Field Day, I wasn't sure how we had done compared to previous years.

Congratulations to SPARC and all who participated!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Warms the cockles of my heart

 I didn't participate in the Zombie Shuffle on October 28th, but I like what I see in the results.

After a few years of a modicum of entries, Paul NA5N received and posted results from over 110 Hams. This is a significantly upward trend and can only mean good things.  One is that the solar cycle is indeed on the upswing and the other is that publicity works.

The Zombie Shuffle has always been a very popular and fun event and it's one of the highlight events of the QRP year. The fact that Paul announces it early and that it's promoted by him and others makes all the difference in the world.

I have found with the Skeeter Hunt that promotion is of utmost importance. While I take the chance that people are going to get sick of hearing about it, the results speak for themselves in that interest remains high and even more importantly ....... no, make that MOST IMPORTANTLY, that those who participate have a good time. And that's what it is all about - giving people the opportunity to enjoy themselves and have a good time, even if it is for only a couple of hours.

Announcing an event on only once or twice and only one one or two outlets isn't going to get the job done. That's why, in my most humble opinion, some previously well attended QRP events seem to be floundering as far as participation goes.  Band and solar conditions play a big role, and there's no doubt about that. At the same time, you can't rest on your laurels. Just because you've had a good turn out and good participation for a year or two doesn't guarantee that such success will continue.

It's sad when you look forward to a yearly QRP event that was popular in the past, and go on the bands that day and find hardly anyone to work. And it's even sadder when you peek at the QRP reflectors and you see little or no chatter about the event other than "Where is everybody?"

I mentioned the "Fun Factor" of the event itself. That plays largely into word of mouth advertising and the "anticipation factor" that will augment any publicity that can be garnered via e-mail reflectors, websites, blogs or contest calendars.

Your club's or organization's QRP event will only be a big deal if you make a big deal about it. We hold and put on niche events and we can't rely on big reputations like the big contests have. They don't need a lot of publicity and reminders. Our events do.

Hopefully as the bands improve, the attendance and interest in some of the yearly QRP events will improve - but organizers and sponsors ....... don't discount the "Two P's" ...... Promotion and Publicity. They will make all the difference in the world; and if you're not up to using them, then expect and don't be disappointed by less than optimum results.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Has he gone the way of the Dodo?

I look at the sidebar of my blog here and I see a total of 38 posts for the entire year of 2022. Holy Shamoley - that's pretty bad! I know some of you are probably wondering what's been going on.

Frankly, my attention has been divided this year. I chronicled the work accident that I had with my hand last January and then how I was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly thereafter. It's been an interesting year to say the least.

Fortunately, as previously mentioned, the cancer diagnosis came really early while the situation remained very treatable. In fact, just this last Friday, I just finished a nine week round of radiation therapy, rather than opting for surgery.

For those who are not familiar, that means nine weeks of radiation exposure every day, Monday through Friday for nine solid weeks. Each treatment was about 15 minutes long and was absolutely painless. The main side effect was intense fatigue, and I did end up telling my doctor that I now know what a microwave chicken feels like!  Extreme tiredness from the therapy, in addition to working full time left me with no desire to even so much look at a radio. The thought of undertaking a portable operation or going down to the shack seemed akin to climbing Mount Everest. Most evenings I was in bed before 8:00 PM. I still can't manage to view one of my favorite television programs, "Blue Bloods" which airs on Friday nights at 10:00 PM. I'm out like a light way before that!

My doctor had mentioned that I tolerated the therapy very well, all things considered.  Most patients, according to to him, are not able to finish the course of treatment in one shot. Many times the series of weeks need to be interrupted so that one or more breaks can be taken. He was amazed that not only was I able to finish the course of treatment in one shot, but that I was also able to continue working full time simultaneously.

I have to tell you, there was also a lot of driving involved. I'm a contract worker here where I work, so if I'm not here, I don't get paid.  To maintain a 40 hour per week paycheck, I would wake up super early (4:00 AM) and come to work super early, put in some time, leave for therapy (at a hospital back near home) and then return to work to finish out the day. That meant putting about 100 miles per day on my car, and with gasoline prices doing their roller coaster ride over the last few months that also taxed my wallet. Needless to say, any Ham radio purchases that I may have been considering are on an indefinite hold.

None if this is to call attention to myself, to pat myself on the back or to engage in a self pity party. I just wanted all of you to know that I have not gone the way of the Dodo and am in no danger of extinction. As my energy level slowly returns to normal, my passion for radio and blogging will also return. But I do want to impress upon my readers, especially the "more mature" ones - make your you get a PSA test on a regular, yearly basis.  That, and the grace of God are what led me on this journey which so far is looking very good and may have very well saved my life.

You know, the irony of all this is that I went totally QRP back in the very early 2000's because I was concerned about the effects that high levels of RF might have had on my kids. I didn't want to take any chances with their health considering that my wire antennas were anchored to the house, near their bedrooms. Now 20 some years later, I myself got to experience the life and times of a frozen microwave dinner!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!