Friday, December 29, 2023

New Year Weekend

Coming up this weekend:


RAC Winter Contest -

YOTA Contest -

Stew Perry Topband Challenge -

Original QRP Contest -

ARS Spartan Sprint -

Special Events:

01/01/2023 | Plano Amateur Radio Klub 50th Anniversary Special Activation Jan 1-Dec 31, 0000Z-2359Z, K5PRK/50, Plano, TX. Plano Amateur Radio Klub . 14.160. QSL. Plano Amateur Radio Klub, Box 860435, Plano, TX 75086. Commemorating the klubs 50th Anniversary in 2023, klub members will be activating the klub callsign K5PRK with a /50 suffix, throughout the year.

01/05/2023 | Vasteras Radio Klubb 80th Anniversary Jan 5-Dec 31, 0000Z-2359Z, 8S80AA, Vasteras, SWEDEN. Vasteras Radio Klubb. All bands, all modes; 2 - 160 meters. Certificate. . This is an operating event.

01/01/2024 | Peace in the World - Jan 1-Jan 30, 0000Z-0000Z, VE2JCW, ST-JEROME, QC. VE2JCW. 14.030. QSL. Jean Charron, 17 rue ELISABETH, ST-JEROME, QC J7Z 2S9, CANADA. To bring a little peace in this upside down world...just a contact and a smile of satisfaction...

And don't forget SKN - Straight Key Night -  ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® Straight Key Night (SKN) is held on January 1, 2024, from 0000 UTC through 2359 UTC. Many hams look forward to SKN as one of the highlights of their operating year. Operators participate using Morse code (CW). All you need is your favorite straight key or bug. Many participants dust off vintage radios and keys and put them back into service each year just for this event. SKN is not a contest, so there's no need for quick exchanges. However, all hand keys, regardless of age, are welcome. The number of contacts you make is not important. The reward is meeting new friends as you get together on the air. Send a list of stations contacted, SKN stories and photos, and your votes for Best Fist and Most Interesting QSO to by January 31, 2024. More information is available at

Every morning this week, I thought to myself, "When I get home tonight, I'm going to hook up the AX1 to my KX3 after dinner and see what I can hear."

HA! BIG HA! That last shot I got on December 18th, as the final part of my prostate cancer treatment has really kicked my butt big time! It must have been a double dose or something,  as it was all I could do to eat dinner, watch Jeopardy and then crawl into bed by 8:00 PM each night this week.

The plan is to finally get the AX1 hooked up this weekend and work a few stations. There's not too much going on this weekend other than my weekly grocery shopping trip, and I have to go to the local tire center as it appears that my back driver's side tire has a slow leak. We're not going anywhere or doing anything for New Year's Eve - so hopefully, I'll get a lot of rest in as well as some On The Air time.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Santa was very good this year!

As hinted to me, Santa did leave the Elecraft AX1 and 40 Meter extender under the Tree. And while I was thrilled with that, I got another gift from my beautiful wife, Marianne - that were I kid, I would have hated. But this time, I loved it!

Let's be honest, OK? When you were little, say a tyke anywhere from age five on up. what would have been your general reaction to finding a box with socks in it left for you under the Christmas Tree?  "Socks? Santa left me stinkin' socks?"  You probably would have tossed them over your shoulder and resumed opening the packages with the "good stuff", right?

Well, these were left under the tree for me:

Where she found these, I'll never know - maybe Etsy? Where in the world do you find socks with towers, rigs and "73" in Morse Code on them? These are the coolest thing ever! And not only are the socks cool enough in and of themselves, but the fact that Marianne took the time to find them for me is priceless! She is the light of my life and always did and always will have my heart forever!

In the afternoon, we left for my sister's house and spent the afternoon there, watching football, having a wonderful dinner, and just spending time together, enjoying being a family. Truly, all the gifts, lights, tinsel and glitz of Christmas are merely "icing on the cake".  The best part of Christmas is being with the people that you love and treasure. 

I sincerely hope your Christmas Day was as special and enjoyable as mine was.

And in a special way, to all my readers in the land of my ancestors: Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia i Nowego Roku!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas Day 2023

I've been posting Santa Ham images for a bit now. That's all in good fun to keep the season merry and bright. But let's not forget the Real Reason for the Season:

For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us;

Upon His shoulder dominion rests.

They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,

Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.

And sometimes, even the busiest city in the world takes time to notice.

A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you! May the day bring you love, joy, comfort and peace.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP  - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve 2023


"GPS? I don't need no stinkin' GPS. I've got NORAD on 15 different frequencies!"

And then, when Santa finally gets to your house and can't stop playing with your new radio. 

Merry Christmas Eve!

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

He's getting ready !

It's Christmas Eve-Eve! Santa is busy today, starting to load up his pack with IC-705's, KH1s, KX2s, Penntek TR-35s, QRP Labs kits, Mountain Toppers, POTA Go-kits, paddles, antennas and all kinds of Ham goodies!

While there are no special event stations active this weekend, I want to make you aware of a very special one that starts up on Tuesday, the day after Christmas and runs through January 7th. This is being run by the DVRA, the Delaware Valley Radio Association and it commemorates the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.

Most people probably don't realize how important these two "minor" battles were to the cause of the Independence of the United States. By Christmas of 1776, things were very bleak for General Washington and the Continental Army. We had not won one single engagement since the Revolution began at Lexington and Concord and the Continental Army had been doggedly chased by the British Regulars out from New England all the way to Pennsylvania. In addition, enlistments for a majority of the Army were up as of December 31st. Morale was nonexistent and some of Washington's top generals were ready to seize his  command at the next misstep.

In a bold move, Washington decided to move the Continental Army from Pennsylvania across the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey and engage an outpost manned by the Hessians, who were fierce German mercenaries, hired by the British. He decided to do this under the darkness of Christmas Day evening, banking on the idea that the soldiers would be in less than optimal condition after Christmas Day celebration and merry-making.

The plan, which seemed to be an impossible task to his closest advisers worked and the Continental Army routed the German troops, killing their Commander, taking prisoners and commandeering some much needed munitions and supplies - without suffering a single casualty on the American side.

A few days later, another battle would be fought in Princeton, NJ. These two decisive battles made the overconfident British Army sit up and take notice. These Americans were serious and determined about their independence and this revolution was not going to be as easy to quell as they had thought. As a result, most all the soldiers decided to re-enlist and fight another day under the command of the General that they had come to love and admire.

These "Ten Crucial Days" are being commemorated by the DVRA with two stations W2T and W2P. There are special QSL cards available, as well as a certificate if you should desire one,

Mine, which I earned in 2019 are framed and are proudly displayed on my shack wall - Revolutionary War buff that I am. To find out more about this Special Event, please visit for more details.

Once again, to underscore how majorly important the Battle of Trenton was to the cause of Independence, I highly recommend watching "The Crossing". It will give you a clue as to how dire the situation was, and how bold and utterly important Washington's move was. History, as we learn it in school can be so dry and sometimes just a memorization of dates. This movie will bring all this home.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas weekend

 Santa Ham image of the day:

I think Santa likes boatanchors! Or is that a space heater? Tell me AI, which is it?  I asked for a boat anchor!

As you might expect - not too much going on this weekend.


RAEM Contest - 0000Z-1159Z, Dec 24 -

CW QRS Xmas Activity: 0000Z, Dec 24 to 2359Z, Dec 31 -

Olivia Digital Mode Winter 2023 QSO Party
Dec 24-Dec 31, 0000Z-2359Z, NW7US, Fayetteville, OH. Olivia Digital DXers Club. 28.1225 21.0725 14.0725 7.0725. Certificate. Tomas Hood, PO Box 110, Fayetteville, OH 45118. PDF Certificate for even one QSO in Olivia mode during QSO Party. Frequencies are listed on website. Celebrating 20 years of Olivia.

Special Events

Nada, zip zilch

The 80 Meter Fox Hunt went pretty much as I expected, last night. I was able to hear Drew K9CW in Illinois, quite weakly at first, but stronger and stronger as the evening progressed. I managed to get into his log at 0230 UTC, the 30 minute mark of the hunt.

I never heard Brian K0DTJ in California, and from his submitted log, he didn't hear much of anybody, either.  He reported working only three California Hounds. He had noise problems - severe static crashes due to an active thunderstorm cell in his part of the country. That will kill your ability to copy less than 599 signals, all right.

So I can report that not only was I not shut out this week, but my Batting Average for the week was .250. If I was a Major League Baseball player these days, that would be worth millions.

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

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Santa POTA

 Santa Ham image for the day - maybe Santa POTA might be a better description?

And from the looks of it, maybe Santa has a brand new Elecraft KH1 in his hand?

Speaking of which - while I'm not in the market for a KH1, I do have kind of a kindled re-interest in the QRP Labs QMX transceiver, which is closer to my budget limitations. I'm getting to the point where if I do get one, I'd probably go for the factory assembled version.  Winding tiny toroids get tougher and tougher the older you get.

My idea is to keep it handy in the car in a daypack with a battery, key, earbuds, tuner, etc and maybe do some impromptu POTA activations in 2024 - if the possibility presents itself - even at the spur of a moment. Personally for me, sometimes motivation gets confounded by inertia. If I know the equipment is in the vehicle, ready to go - I just might be more conducive to taking advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves.

Less inertia equals more activity.

Nothing written in stone yet, but I am toying with the idea.

In the Northern Hemisphere, today at 10:27 PM EST, the Winter Solstice occurs. That means that after today, more and more daylight will be creeping back, which makes me a very happy Ham. To all my readers in the Southern Hemisphere (from the little globe to the right, it doesn't look like there's that many) - Happy First Day of Summer! I hope it's a great one for you!

Tonight's the 80 Meter Fox Hunt. The Foxes are K9CW in Illinois and K0DTJ in California. If I'm lucky, maybe I can go 1 for 4 this week. Seems like Illinois is a possibility. Not sure I'll hear California on 80 Meters.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

"There's an app for that!"

 First, the Santa Ham image for the day:

The other day, I was reading the comics online.  "Pluggers' is one that I make sure to catch each day, and this one was published last week. 

One of the comments left by one of the readers was "I use the magnifying app on my phone for that!"

Of course, dense as I am and as far behind the times as I am, my mind immediately went "magnifying glass app? That's an app?" So I went to the Google Play store, searched for it and found one. Boy does it make looking at capacitor values and resistor color bands easy! Looking for solder bridges will be a piece of cake! And the app that I downloaded will allow you to capture a photo of what your magnifying, in case you want to reference the image for later - say a serial number or circuit board version or something like that. I find it a lot easier to use than taking a photo and then spreading your fingers apart on the image to zoom into it. The app provides a magnified image of whatever you have it pointed at, real time, in one step. So for those of you out there who may be as far behind the times as I am (which probably is no one), you may want to go to the app store.

The 40 Meter Fox Hunt was a bust for me last night. The foxes were K9DRP in Indiana and N1IX in New Hampshire. I was able to locate the packs of chasing Hounds, but heard nary a peep from either Fox. After a while, I even lost the Hounds.  With about 15 minutes to go, I shut the station down for the night. I know that's bad form and directly against my own mantra of "never give up", but I was tired and since the rain ended on Monday, it's gotten much colder and as a result, the basement much chillier.  Before shutting down the PC, I logged into the Reverse Beacon Network and put in N1IX's call sign just so I could see which was the Upper Fox and which was the Lower. From listening, I couldn't even tell. I see my two NJ Hound buddies WX2S and W2SH got into K9DRP's log. South Plainfield was an RF Black Hole again last night, it would seem.

While sitting there, straining my ears and twiddling my thumbs, I kept an eye on the DX Cluster on AC Log. I noticed that whenever T32TT, East Kiribati was spotted, I got a confirmed status.  For the life of me, I didn't remember working that entity, so I checked into it:

October of 2011, I worked that country on three different bands - and that was BKX3 - Before KX3. So that means I worked them with the K2 and 5 Watts as I didn't have any such animal like the KXPA100, either!  I think that was probably back when I had the G5RV up, so all the contacts were made either with the G5RV or the HF9V vertical.

On a closing note, you can't say the weather bureau doesn't have a sense of humor. They posted this to Facebook the other day and you have to read the Map Legend - it's hilarious!

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Getting on the air

 Santa Ham image for the day:

I had a Dr. appointment at 4:00 PM, so I had to leave work early. It was the for the last injection of a series of four over two years as part of my treatment. In turn, i got home early and was able to make dinner for the family, after which I headed down to the shack for a bit.

I tuned to 80 Meters and heard John K3WWP calling CQ. He was weak - only about 339, but I decided to give him a call, anyway. It took a while of repeats and all, but I got a 229 report from him. That made me wonder if somehow the Nor'Easter we had yesterday had affected my antennas.

I moved in frequency a bit and called CQ hoping for a QSO, but also wanting to see how the Reverse Beacon Network would find me. To my relief, I was being spotted with some pretty decent signal strengths for a 5 Watt signal. I guess the path between South Plainfield and Kitanning just wasn't open last night.

My CQ was answered by Neal WD4LSS in Arcadia, NC and we had a bit of a 599 (both ways) ragchew for about 15 to 20 minutes. Neal is an SKCC'er and was hunting numbers, I guess. This surprised me a little bit as SKCC'ers generally stick around 3.550 MHz and I was up a bit in QRP territory. Nevertheless, we had a pleasant QSO and I might have surprised Neil with my SKCC # of 49C.  I don't hand it out all that often, and I'm not even sure how many of us early members are still around. The QSO came to a kind of abrupt halt when an Olivia or some other musical type digital signal erupted on our frequency, causing us both to not hear each other anymore.

Before shutting down for the evening, I fired up the POTA spotting page and was surprised to see not a single activation on any band. That's a rarity, indeed! Tonight is the South Plainfield ARES/RACES Net on VHF at 7:00 PM and a few hours later will be the 40 Meter Fox Hunt, if I have enough energy to stay up that late.

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day which kind of hit close to home. It said, "9:00 PM is the new Midnight." I can agree with that, at times!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, December 18, 2023

The week before Christmas

Some Santa Ham images each day this week as we ramp up to the Holiday.

I have to admit, not much radio for me this weekend. Saturday got busy with other "stuff" and I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I napped most of the day away yesterday (with my loyal and trusted Harold at my side). I must have needed it because I pretty much slept the whole night through, as well.

I did check into the St. Max net last night on 75 Meters. That was my only radio for the weekend. We're in the midst of a classic Nor'Easter. It was raining on and off yesterday as the storm approached. Around 7:00 or 8:00 PM last night, it started raining hard and it hasn't let up yet. As of this moment, 7:35 AM Monday morning, we've gotten 3.53" (9 cm) of rain and it's still coming down hard.

The commute into work was a real treat, which goes without saying. The main road I drive on to get to work was flooded in several places and was down to one lane. And in one spot we had to bypass a stopped car that (from the looks of it) had driven right into a tree branch that had fallen into the road. The tree branch was obliterated - the front end of his car didn't look much better. But as "they" say - things could always be worse. It could have been snow. But at 60F (16C) that's not a possibility. Once this storm moves out, the temps are supposed to become seasonable again.

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

Friday, December 15, 2023

Weekend doings

On the bands this coming weekend:


 Croatian CW Contest -

ARRL Rookie Roundup, CW -

Special Events:

12/16/2023 | Christmas in Bethlehem New Mexico

Dec 16-Dec 23, 1400Z-0600Z, KC5OUR, Belen, NM. Valencia County ARA. 28.383 21.283 14.283 7.183. QSL. VCARA, P. O. Box 268, Peralta, NM 87042.

12/16/2023 | Edwin Howard Armstrong Commemoration special event

Dec 16-Dec 18, 0000Z-2359Z, W4A, Bluff City, TN. N9EN. 3.540 7.040 14.040 21.040. QSL. Brad Anbro, 1118 WALNUT GROVE RD, Bluff City, TN 37618. Operating all bands from 160 to 10 meters, including the 12, 17 and 30 meter WARC bands. CW-only operation.

The Rookie Roundups are an excellent vehicle to get the newly licensed in your club or organization on the air. This weekend is the CW event, but there are two more each year - another for SSB and another for RTTY (digital). These are a great way to mentor newcomers into good operating habits and to dispel any microphone or key fright that they might have.

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club had a bunch of Rookies a few years back and they placed well enough in the results to earn a certificate of recognition from the ARRL. I know it made a lasting impression on them as they are still active, years later.

Last night was the 80 Meter QRP Fox Hunt. I had a commitment and was not able to participate, and I know that I risk boring some of you with talking about these as much as I do- but if you're not participating .......why not? 

My participation has helped me immensely in breaking up DX pileups. The Fox Hunts are a lot like DXpeditions in a way, as different Foxes handle the pileups in different ways. Once you get used to them, it will help you when working that next elusive island or country.

Most Foxes work split, which in and of itself is pretty standard.  But the way a Fox or a DXpedition can handle split operation can differ. Some just go up to listen a kHz or two in frequency and never vary. To work these, you have to first ascertain that they're listening to just one frequency. If they are, it's not a good idea to zero beat that frequency and call there. Unless the quarry has their filters adjusted to the tightest they can be, you're way better off moving from that listening frequency just the tiniest bit. This will affect the tone of your signal and will make it stand out from the others. If he notices the difference in your signal amongst the cacophony of all the others, you've just given yourself an advantage. This is the same approach to take when working a DXpedition that decides to eschew split operating altogether and instead goes simplex.  In DX hunting, this is kind of rare, but it does happen.

Others who work split like to move around. They may start listening at a frequency, work someone and then move up a tiny bit to listen for the next calling station. They repeat this for a bit, moving up each time after working someone until they reach a certain point - maybe as far as 3 or 4 kHz up. Then, they may go back to where they first started, or they may work their way down to where they first started, lowering their listening frequency after each QSO, until they arrive back at "Point A". It's your job to figure this our, anticipate where they'll be listening next and get in their log. 

It's not as hard as it seems, but it might not be easy as falling off a log either. But nothing worthwhile ever really comes easy, does it? And if it does come easy, it will make you appreciate that contact all the more.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Coffee is my friend this morning

It was busy here at work yesterday, but not THAT busy. Yet, when I got home I was feeling exhausted and was contemplating hitting the sack early and bypassing the 40 Meter Fox Hunts. As it was, I had  committed to running the NNJ Southern District ARES Net on 70 cm, last night at 0030 UTC. In a re-organization of ARES in the Northern New Jersey Section, the "Southern District" is comprised of Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Union Counties. 

John Garmendi N2DV, our DEC was otherwise occupied and was unable to act as Net Control, so I volunteered when he announced that he was looking for an NCS. Unless there are a lot of check ins, these nets don't last all that long. As it turned out, there were the normal check ins that we see from month to month, but I was surprised that a lot of my compatriots from South Plainfield were absent last evening.

A half hour later at 0100 UTC is the monthly NNJ Section ARES Net, where the whole section gets together. This net comprises the counties from Monmouth County on up, the entire Northern half of the state, so it takes a bit longer. This net lasted roughly a half hour, and upon its ending the Fox Hunt was only a half hour away, so I decided that I'm re-addicted enough to stay up and chase the two Foxes. As it is, I have a commitment Thursday evening and will not be able to participate in the 80 Meter Fox Hunts. A whole week without chasing Foxes? Suddenly, this year, that has become unthinkable - hence my "re-addiction"!

And two good, experienced Foxes they were- John K4BAI in Georgia and Tim KR0U in Colorado. Since this was the 40 Meter Fox Hunt, I thought I had a good chance for hearing both, if not working both.

John K4BAI was the Upper Fox and I found his chasing pack of Hounds pretty quickly - not much dial twiddling there. Once I found them, I twiddled down carefully until I heard John, himself. Then it was a simple mater of equalizing VFO B with VFO A, hitting the split button and twiddling VFO B back to where I initially heard the pack. John was moving a bit up in frequency after each hound he worked. Once I figured that out, I was able to tune up a bit more and throw out my call sign, hoping it would stick out enough and that he would hear me. I hit paydirt at 0218 UTC and was awarded with a 569 report. I thought John was a little stronger than that and gave him a 579.

One Fox safely in the log, it was time to twiddle on down the band to find Tim KR0U. It was easy enough to find the chasing pack, but finding Tim was another matter entirely. Going down slowly, I was finally able to find Tim, but there was a very loud NAQCC station right on top of him. Last night was their monthly Sprint. John had mentioned this in his Fox announcement, but I had completely forgotten about it until the moment. 

And at that moment, I was hearing that song by The Clash playing in my head - "Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?". It didn't seem like this was going to be easy, but then again, anything worth doing  isn't always easy. So instead of pulling the Big Switch and heading off for some much needed ZZZZZZ's, I tightened up the filters, turned down the RF Gain, turned up the AF Gain and began to strain my ears for Tim. 

Slowly, his signal strength began to increase as propagation was changing in my favor. I was able to return the RF Gain and AF Gain to their normal operating levels and still hear Tim pretty well. Finally, at 0244 UTC, I heard Tim come back to me. I gave him a 559, and he gave me a 539. I hope he was able to hear the two "QHB"s that I sent at the beginning of my exchange as yesterday was his birthday.

With both Foxes in the log, I did pull the Big Switch and headed off to bed. The problem was that although I was tired from the day, I was wired from the thrill of the chase. I wasn't able to fall asleep until after 11:00 PM and I'm feeling it this morning. Thus the title of this post - coffee is indeed my friend today.

As I sit here writing this post, I have to admit that this QRP stuff still amazes me to no end. I've worked a lot of Fox Hunts over the years, both as a Hound and as a Fox. Last night, my meager 5 Watt signal made its way to both Georgia and Colorado.  If I took off in my car right now, and headed south for John K4BAI's QTH, I might make it there by dinner time ........MAYBE.  If I took off right now for Tim KR0U's QTH, I might make it there tomorrow or the next day?  I don't know, I've never driven to Colorado. I've flown to Denver for work once, but have never driven there. Yet, my 5 Watts of RF energy made it to both locations at the speed of light.

It was only 122 years ago, yesterday - December 12th, 1901, that Marconi, situated in St. John's Newfoundland, was able to receive an "S" sent via "wireless" (as it was called back then) from Cornwall in England, proving that radio waves could traverse the Atlantic. The "experts" of the day were convinced that radio waves would never travel farther than the curvature of the Earth allowed, So much for "settled science". eh? His antennas were massive monsters - John, Tim and I were using simple wires and verticals. I have a feeling that if Guglielmo were around to play around in a Fox Hunt, using today's Amateur Radio equipment, he'd be a dedicated QRP'er.

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Ham Radio Humor

Nothing really to speak of today, so I'll try injecting a little humor. Maybe this will brighten someone's day. 

I guess one can never have too many radios. Although some of us seem to benefit from those who do and feel the need to "cull the herd".

I did go on eBay yesterday, just to checkout the Heathkit offerings, as I haven't done that in a while. There were a number of unbuilt kits being offered - most continuing education stuff and some test gear. There was nothing much in the way of unbuilt radio kits.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Busy, busy weekend

Too many chores, too many responsibilities to have much Amateur Radio fun this weekend.  No HF for me, although this was Amateur Radio Exam Saturday for my team. We had two candidates. One earned his Technician class license. The other candidate got his Tech last month only to come back yesterday and pass both the General and Extra elements.

In the evening, some members of our CERT Team, including yours truly got together to help with pedestrian control at the South Plainfield Christmas Parade and Christmas Tree lighting.

From left to right, that's our OEM Coordinator. Captain Wendell Born who was off duty, but came with his family to enjoy the festivities, Mayor Matt Anesh, Tim AB2ZK, W2LJ, Bill W2AOF, Sharon Padula, and Councilman Derryck White. Although they were there in their official capacities, both Mayor Anesh and Councilman White are also CERT members. Matt's father is John Anesh AB2VE, another South Plainfield Amateur Radio op.

This event was supposed to be held tonight, but was moved to Saturday because it's raining cats and dogs here tonight.  It's 62F right now, but when I leave for work tomorrow morning there will probably be something like a 30 degree drop in temperature. A cold front is supposed to come ripping through overnight. 

So far, we've received 0.60" of rain today. When all is said and done and this front moves through, the forecast is for close to 2 inches.

UPDATE: We're up to 1.70" of rain from this event since it began yesterday afternoon. The temperature did drop overnight, it was 39F when I left the house and it's 34F here at work. There were some wet snowflakes hitting the windshield during the commute in. As far as I am able to tell, there were no thunderstorms accompanying the cold front moving in.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least !

Friday, December 08, 2023

Hunting Foxes and the weekend

I grabbed two furry Fox pelts last night on 80 Meters. This first was Steve WX2S and that should have been no surprise as he lives less than 25 miles south of me.

Don K9DRP was another matter. His signal was constantly up and down, in and out due to QSB. The KX3's APF feature wasn't helping much, so I went "old school". I turned the RF Gain all the way down to eliminate as much of the background hash as I could, while simultaneously turning up the AF Gain. Tightening up the KX3's filters finally put Don in a place where I could reliably copy him and I finally worked him at 0256 UTC. Even at that point, i wasn't sure Don had me, so I threw out my call again a few minutes later. Then it hit me that I should refresh the Fox Hunt map and I saw that he had me in his log, so I knew I was good to go........literally. I hit the sack after working Don.

Both Foxes were working split and no one had to gently "remind" me with an "UP". This time, at least, I didn't goof up and QRM anyone. And both Foxes were excellent ops, dealing with less than deluxe band conditions.

Here are the goings on for the weekend:


ARRL 10 Meter Contest

QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Sprint

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon

K1USN Slow Speed Test

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint:

Special Events:

12/06/2023 | Crossband Activation of Battleship Iowa's NEPM in Memory of Pearl Harbor

 Dec 6-Dec 9, 1500Z-2359Z, J3E/A1A, San Padro, CA. Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association. 14.375 18.1625 21.856 on J3E/USB and/or A1A/CW Do Not Transmit on NEPM Military Frequencies. QSL. See website, for, information. Times are daily. 1500Z to 2400Z.

12/07/2023 | WX3MAS

Dec 7-Dec 10, 1400Z-2200Z, WX3MAS, Nazareth, PA. Christmas City ARC. 14265 7270 3850. QSL. Christmas City Amateur Radio Club, 14 Gracedale Avenue, Greystone Building, Nazareth, PA 18064. Daily operation 1400 to 2200 UTC, may be extended as conditions permit.

12/09/2023 | Commemorating Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day

Dec 9, 1700Z-2359Z, NI6IW, San Diego, CA. USS Midway Museum Ship. 14.320 7.250 14.070 PSK31 DSTAR on Papa system repeaters. QSL. USS Midway Museum Ship COMEDTRA, 910 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

12/09/2023 | Ike's Atoms for Peace Speech - Sponsor of Nuclear Ship Savannah

Dec 9, 1400Z-2200Z, K3S, Baltimore, MD. Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC. 7 14 21 28. QSL. ULIS FLEMING, 980 PATUXENT ROAD, Odenton, MD 21113. Operating from the ship. Please check the spotting networks since we may be operating anywhere on 40, 20, 15, or 10m SSB or CW.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

'Tis the Season - Happy St. Nicholas Day!

In many European countries (including Poland, where my roots lay), today is a special day - the Feast Day of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (in modern day Turkey) during the early 4th century. Nicholas was known for his generosity to the poor and destitute.  One famous story is that Nicholas rescued three girls from being sold into prostitution by tossing bags of gold coins into their house on three successive evenings so as to provide them with a dowry, so they could be married.

The Dutch settlers who came to Colonial America brought with them their tradition of honoring Saint Nicholas - Sinterklaas every December 6th. From Sinterklaas (corrected - thanks Bas!), the name and pronunciation eventually evolved into Santa Claus.

To celebrate St. Nicholas - Santa Claus and to honor the  upcoming Christmas Holiday season, we left a shoe out on the porch last night (according to the St. Nick tradition), only to wake up this morning to find a gift had been left inside it. A true gem at that! Jeff Davis KE9V granted me permission to once again post his classic Amateur Radio holiday story "A QRP Christmas". Thank you so very much, Jeff! 

So whether this is a familiar story to you, or you're a newcomer to Amateur Radio and have never heard of this before - here it is for your reading pleasure:

A QRP Christmas

Jeff Davis, KE9V

"A foot of new snow and it's still falling, this is getting bad," Tom muttered to no one in particular. Just then Stella walked in with a sad look on her face and Tom knew right away.

"The kids aren't going to make it, are they?" he asked. "No," she answered, "I just got off the phone with them and the roads are all closed."

Great! Two days before Christmas, and the world had come to a halt.

Tom gave his wife a hug and said, "Well Mother, we might as well get over it, nothing much we can do now but wait this thing out." In the 50 plus years since the couple bought the house they had weathered many winter storms, but this would be the first Christmas without the kids and, now, the grandchildren. Nature could be cruel, but at least they had plenty of food and firewood, and there was ample gas for the generator in case the power went off. "I think I'll go see if the repeater is still on the air," Tom said as he headed to his ham shack over the garage. Being a radio amateur had its advantages, and emergency communication was one of them. He fired up the VHF set, and--sure enough--the local repeater was alive and busy. Several folks in the community needed assistance, and snowmobile deliveries were being organized accompanied by hams to maintain communication.

As with many things, people take communication systems for granted until they're suddenly unavailable. Two years earlier, with the proliferation of cellular telephone technology, Middletown decided it no longer needed Amateur Radio to assist during emergencies. A few months later, the river overflowed its banks during a massive rainstorm. Lightning wreaked havoc on the power grid and even cellular telephones were overloaded or knocked out altogether.

With one loud clap of thunder Amateur Radio was back in the disaster communications business in Middletown. The Town Council went so far as to give the Middletown Amateur Radio Club access to a county building to serve as a communications headquarters and monthly meeting spot.

Stella walked up the stairs to the radio shack with a hot cup of coffee for Tom. She figured he'd be spending quite a lot of time on the air during this snow emergency. She was wrong. Tom wasn't all that fond of 2-meters, really. He'd always been a CW op. In fact, for years he never even owned a microphone for his HF gear. To him, ham radio was and would always be, CW.

His high school print shop teacher had convinced him to get his ham license in 1939. A few years later, Uncle Sam took note of his radiotelegraphy talents and made him a Navy radio operator aboard the USS Missouri. He served from 1941 until the end of the War and even was present aboard the Missouri for the formal Japanese surrender.

Not long after the War, he married his high school sweetheart, Stella, and started what would be a 40-year career at the telephone company. They had three children and still lived in the very house they'd bought brand new as a young couple in 1947.

Tom was a tinkerer, and he'd built several transmitters and even a few receivers. But he was a serious brasspounder and could handle 30 to 40 WPM with ease. His station was always as clean as his signal, and any piece of equipment he built was a work of art. It wasn't good enough just to work and look good--it had to be perfect. Other members of the local radio club poked fun because Tom had a habit of making sure that even the screw slots on anything he built were aligned in the same direction.

He didn't buy his first commercially made gear until 1961--a Hallicrafters SX-140 receiver with a matching HT-40 transmitter. That was the only store-bought equipment in his shack until over a decade later, when his best friend died suddenly. His friend's widow gave Tom all the equipment in her husband's shack, including a complete Collins S-Line. That gear took a special place in Tom's heart and shack, not so much because it was the "ultimate station," but because it had belonged to his closest friend.

After retiring in 1986, Tom quit building equipment. He maintained several skeds with on-air friends from around the world. Saturday nights were his favorite, for it was then that he met with a large number of old Navy radio ops on 7.030. He really enjoyed those rag chews! But, one-by-one, the gang started to dwindle as more and more of his buddies became Silent Keys. It depressed him so that when his main receiver quit working in 1993, he didn't bother to fix it. K9NZQ was off the air for the first time since World War II.

Stella was worried enough about her husband's depression that she told the kids about the problem. They chipped in and bought him a brand new 2-meter FM radio for his birthday thinking that would cheer him up. Tom listened to the local repeater every day, but he rarely transmitted. It just wasn't the same.

She had hoped that having all the kids and grandchildren at the house again this Christmas would perk Tom up and chase away the lingering blues but now the weather had ruined that plan.

"I think I'll go out and make sure the generator still starts," he said as he passed through the kitchen. "The power lines are beginning to ice up."

Once he was out the back door, Stella took the opportunity to quickly and carefully wrap her gift to him. One of his friends had suggested to her that she buy Tom a kit for Christmas. Taking his suggestion, she ordered a small QRP CW transceiver kit he'd recommended. She didn't know if he would like it, but with this weather she was especially glad it had a arrived a few days earlier. Like it or not, at least he would have something to open on Christmas morning.

Day turned into evening and somehow the power stayed on. More snow was falling outside. The TV was calling it some sort of record snowfall for central Indiana. When Tom said he was going to bed and it was only 6:30 PM, she decided it was time.

"Let's go ahead and open our presents now, and not wait two more days" she said, handing him the gaily wrapped box. He didn't really want to open presents, now but he didn't want to disappoint Stella, knowing that she was still upset about the kids.

"All right, let me go get yours first," he agreed. In a few minutes they were opening their presents. She seemed to really like the bread making machine. He was more than a little surprised as he opened the little QRP kit.

"There now," she allowed, "that will give you something to do for a few days and it will keep you out of my kitchen." Tom knew he'd been underfoot lately. "You're sending me to my room without pie?" he said with a smile.

"Go on with you. I'll bring pie up to you as soon as the coffee quits brewing," she said as he headed back to the shack with the little box in hand.

By the time she walked in the shack, pumpkin pie in one hand and hot coffee in the other, Tom had unpacked the box, sorted the parts and was halfway through the instructions. She was happy to see he at least looked interested and left the room with her fingers crossed that this might cheer him up.

He didn't leave the shack until nearly midnight. By then, he had half of the components soldered to the main board, and he had wound several coils. "If the power doesn't go out," he muttered, "I could have this thing running by Christmas!"

The next morning he awoke at 7:30 AM, two hours later than usual. Stella already had the bacon frying when he walked into the kitchen. A quick look out the back window revealed yet another foot of fresh snow had fallen last night. He was glad to see blue sky and sunshine and hoped that meant the worst was over. After breakfast he was back in the shack, soldering pen in hand.

Tom was genuinely impressed with the little kit. The instructions were clear, and it looked to be of high-quality. He had already convinced himself, though, that he would never make a contact on 40 meters with less than 3 W. Nonetheless, he was happy to have something to keep his hands and mind busy. And it was a good thing that he'd kept up that dipole so he could see if this radio actually worked.

By 7 that evening, the kit was nearly finished. He was ready to apply power and begin initial testing. Stella knew that her decision to buy the little kit was a good one when he asked if she'd mind if he ate supper in the shack. By 11 PM Christmas Eve, the kit was finished. He plugged in the headphones, hooked up the antenna connection, and applied power.

The noise level jumped, and he knew things were working when he moved the VFO ever so slightly and instantly heard a QSO in progress. "Now, that's a good sign," he said to himself. He pulled off the headphones and headed upstairs to tell Stella the good news. But she was fast asleep. It was midnight. No point in waking her up now. He slipped back to the shack and put the headphones back on.

73 ES MERRY XMAS OM DE W5WBL he heard as one QSO completed. Tom moved a little higher in the band until he heard a strong station in QSO with a VE6 in Vancouver. He was more than a little impressed with the sensitivity of the receiver. After listening to a few more QSOs he continued moving up the band until suddenly, he heard a familiar call sign.

CQ CQ CQ de XE3HHH XE3HHH XE3HHH K. Tom almost couldn't believe it. Here was his old friend Miguel in Mexico calling CQ. He listened as Miguel called several more times with no reply. Thinking it silly to even try, Tom grabbed an old straight key and plugged it in. It was the first time in years that he had even touched a key. "This will never work" he thought as he tapped out XE3HHH XE3HHH XE3HHH de K9NZQ K9NZQ HW CPI OM?

Tom's jaw dropped when almost instantly Miguel came back. K9NZQ de XE3HHH FB OM I THOUGHT YOU DIED HI HI MERRY CHRISTMAS AMIGO. The two chatted for nearly an hour until Miguel had to go.

After the final 73, Tom sat back in his chair and rubbed his chin. He couldn't help but smile when he thought of just how much fun this day had been. Building the little kit and actually working an old friend just seemed to make his day complete. He would have bet half his retirement pension that there was no way to work Miguel with less than 3 watts. He knew some guys who worked QRP regularly, but he had always assumed that actually making contacts was a pretty rough and risky business. At least he never thought it would be that easy.

He was about to shut down the rig and go to bed when he heard a loud CQ just off the frequency where he worked Miguel. It was KL7DD. Tom reached for the key figuring he'd get in another quick QSO--or at least make the attempt--then go to bed. KL7DD turned out to be Joe in Point Barrow, Alaska. Joe also was ex-Navy, so the two hit it off right away. What started off to be a "quick" contact turned into a two-hour QSO. Joe only had trouble hearing Tom a couple of times. The little QRP rig was holding its own and making a believer out of Tom in the process.

Four contacts later, Tom was exhausted. About the time he shut things down and headed for bed, Stella walked in. "Merry Christmas!" she exclaimed. "What time did you get up? I didn't hear you get out of bed?"

Tom wasn't sure how to tell her he had been up all night 'playing radio' so he just replied, "early."

"Well, I've got breakfast ready," she said as she walked back down the stairs. He was still thinking about the contacts he made last night when he sat down at the kitchen table. "You know Mother," he said with a smile, "this might have been one of the very best Christmas's we've had in a long, long time. After breakfast, let's call the kids, but then I need to be back in the shack by noon because I told a guy that I would meet him on 40 meters to help him check out his new antenna..."

No doubt about it. K9NZQ was radio active once again.

A QRP Christmas by Jeff Davis, KE9V

Copyright 1998 © All Rights Reserved

Thanks again, Jeff! Your "early Christmas gift" is most appreciated! Thank you for sharing your masterful story telling talent with us!

Briefly, to end this post - last night, conditions on the band for the 40 Meters Fox Hunt were less than ideal, putting it mildly. I was able to work Cathy W4CMG in Tennessee, but Jerry WB7S in Wyoming was ESP most of the time and about 339 a couple of other times. In addition to his signal being sparse, there was a ton of SKCC activity right on top of him. Doesn't anyone send "QRL?" before jumping on a frequency anymore?  A couple of times I thought he went simplex early and was scolded with an "UP". If anyone from the Hunt is reading this, I most heartily apologize if I QRM'ed you. It was certainly not intentional - the "UP" that Jerry was sending got covered up by the SKCC station. Eventually Jerry did go simplex a bit later, but all my efforts were for naught. Conditions must have been pretty bad as I was the only New Jersey Hound to grab a pelt. You know propagation would have to be pretty terrible for THAT to be the case!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Crazy or not?

This is something that two good friends brought to my attention - Bob W3BBO and Dave KD2FSI. This is near and dear to me as the Heathkit HR-1680 was my Novice Receiver, which I built back in 1978.

You look at that, and you might think, like I did "WOW! $911.00 for an unbuilt Heathkit? Really?" When Bob and I were talking about this over the weekend, I told him I thought it would end up selling for maybe a bit of change over $500 - I didn't think the bidding would go so high.

But as usual, Dave KD2FSI had a good perspective on this and I am going to quote what he posted on the SPARC Facebook page. So you know, Dave has a nice collection of choice Heathkit gear.

"This week I saw this unbuilt Heathkit HR-1680 ham radio receiver come up for auction on eBay. I already have a nice working near museum quality HR-1680 in my collection, so I didn’t have any interest in bidding on it, but I was interested in seeing what it would go for. The HR-1680 is a nicely styled and still useful receiver even to this day.

So, when the bidding closed, the hammer price was $911.00. I think this was well bought, especially when you consider that in 1976 a HR-1680 went for $199.95 or about $1100.00 in today’s dollars.
However, if this buyer decides to build this kit, I think the experience will be priceless! 

73, Dave KD2FSI"

When you think of it the way Dave states the case, I guess $911.00 isn't so crazy, after all. But there may be some hidden costs, if the buyer does indeed, decide to build it. I'm not sure how the unit was stored; but I'm wondering how well all the electrolytic capacitors have held up for close to 50 years. They may all have to be re-purchased for a successful build. But then again, maybe not. I have since purchased a used HR-1680 to replicate my Novice Station (I also have a Drake 2-NT) and it works just fine even after all these years.

But as Dave states so well, I can agree with him that the experience of building a Heathkit is priceless - way over the $911.00 paid for the hardware.

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

Monday, December 04, 2023

Radio inactive weekend

No radio time for W2LJ this past weekend. It was time for decorating the interior of the house and also time for the annual Christmas light fight. I was too busy setting up the tree (artificial - real ones play havoc with my sinuses) and just about pulling out my gray hair over Christmas lights. It is so frustrating to have strings of lights where entire sections go dark. 

That's not me - but you get the idea!

My son and I looked at the offending sections for a while and discovered that some wires completely pulled out from a few sockets, so rather than dealing with trying to figure that out and waste time making what would probably end up as a futile attempt at repair, I just chucked them and purchased two new strings. It's not worth the frustration.

I don't know what happens to these things. When we took them off the tree last year, they were fine. We carefully wound them onto reels and stowed them in a safe place until it was time to deploy them again this year. I think I must have Christmas Tree light gremlins that come and visit the house during the summer months and destroy what we have - just to play mind games with me. For reasons unknown, these little demons did not bother the outside lights - no,  those were just fine! I guess I should be grateful they left those alone.

Tonight we'll actually put the ornaments on. When that's done, that will finish the decorating for 2023, then radio activity can commence again.

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

Friday, December 01, 2023

Skywarn Recognition Day & more

Rare second post for the day:

Skywarn Recognition Day starts tonight night at 7:00 PM EST and runs all day Saturday until 7:00 PM EDT.  That would be December 2, 2023 from 0000UTC to 2400 UTC.

This annual event  was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that Skywarn volunteers make to the NWS mission, the protection of life and property. The day typically falls on the first Saturday in December (in UTC time, so in EST it goes from 7 PM Fri to 7 PM Sat)

We want to take this opportunity to send a big THANK YOU to our spotters and we want to show off our network of dedicated volunteers to everyone! So as a part of the celebration this year, if you're a spotter or HAM Radio Operator, check in and be recognized for #Skywarn2023 as a valuable part of the National Weather Service.

Link to map and check-in form:

For more information on Skywarn Recognition Day, visit

For information on the Skywarn program in our region, visit

Also going on this weekend:


ARRL 160-Meter Contest

Special Events

12/01/2023 | SEC QSO Party
Dec 1-Dec 2, 2100Z-2100Z, W5YD, Starkville, MS. Mississippi State University ARC. 14.250. Certificate. Department of Physics and Astronomy. Attn Torsten Clay, PO Box 5167, Mississippi State, MS 39762. First Inaugural Southeastern Conference QSO Party. Mississippi State University will be participating in this event.

12/01/2023 | SEC QSO Party
Dec 1-Dec 2, 2100Z-2100Z, W4DFU, Gainesville, FL. Gator Amateur Radio Club. 14.288 7.288. QSL. Dr. Jay Garlitz AA4FL, P.O. Box 100012, Gainesville, FL 32610.

12/02/2023 | "Christmas in Bethlehem" Clark Co ARC 2023 from Bethlehem Indiana
Dec 2, 1300Z-2300Z, W9WWI, Sellersburg, IN. Clark County Amateur radio club. 28.400 7.210 21.3450 18.160. QSL. Clark Co. ARC, po box 201, Sellersburg, IN 47172. Merry Christmas From The Clark County Amateur Radio club of Indiana

12/02/2023 | Bethlehem Christmas
Dec 2, 0700Z-1200Z, WR4BC, Bethlehem, GA. Barrow County Amateur Radio Club. 7.250 14.225. QSL. Barrow Amateur Radio Club, PO BOX 411, Bethlehem, GA 30620. We will do our best to be on the listed frequencies, but we may have to move around to find an open spot.

12/02/2023 | Flight 19 the missing avengers
Dec 2, 1300Z-2100Z, K4P, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Parrot Amateur Radio Club Inc. 14.240 7.210 18.150 21.315. QSL. Gerald Deitch, 2621 NW105 Lane, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33322. send SASE for qsl card

Everyone have a good weekend!

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

Hunting the 80 Meter Foxes - lesson learned

Last night, during the event, the K Index was zero and the Geomagnetic Field was "Very Quiet". The CMEs had not had their effect .......yet.  This morning is a different story with the K index up at 7 and the Geomagnetic Field is described as "Severe Storm". I can see why forecasters are saying band conditions may deteriorate throughout the day. As an aside, despite the claims being made on social media, I was not able to see any Aurora last night - I checked before hitting the sack at 10:30 PM, once during the night around 2:30 AM and then when I awoke at 5:00 AM. It may well be visible tonight, but par for the course, rain and clouds are forecast for later this afternoon through Sunday.

As I said, last night band condition were nice. I found Milt K4OSO pretty easily. He was the Upper Fox and had a very nice signal - truly 579.  It took a while to work him as he seemed to be inundated with K4 stations, but once they thinned out, I was able to snag him at 0240 UTC. He was originally listening about 2 kHz up, but had to move his listening frequency down a bit when the 3rd Section CW Traffic Net started up.

Steve WD4CFN was a bit more of an elusive quarry for me. He was the Lower Fox and it turned out that he was parked on a frequency which had a lot of local QRN on it. If an observer were standing next to me and was listening on the outboard speaker, they would have never heard Steve. Thank you Elecraft for the APF function on the KX3. That was the only way I was able to pick out Steve from the background noise.

Let me back up a few minutes. Before finding Steve, I had to first locate his pack of howling Hounds. That was not an easy chore at first, even using the KX3's sub receiver and Dual Receive function. When I had that turned on, the idea was that the Fox would have been in my left ear and the pack in my right. However, my right ear is really bad .......REALLY BAD! I'll talk about that in a little bit.  I had to flip the headphones, and once I did that, I was able to locate the baying Hounds with my left ear. It was like they came out of nowhere! Of course, they were there all along, my right ear just couldn't hear them, and that jolted me. I knew my right ear was bad, but that really brought home "how bad"!

That frequency plugged into VFO B, I flipped the headphones back and began the search for Steve, beginning around 1 kHz down. Nothing at first, but once I turned the APF on, he was a pretty easy find. It was just a matter of time and I finally worked Steve at 0305 UTC. Steve was 559 at best, so that's the report I gave him. 

I really need hearing aids. My left ear is still not terrible, but the right one is. In situations like these Fox Hunts, I am either going to have to keep flipping headphones or go the old fashioned route and not using the Dual Receive feature on the KX3 until I remediate the right ear situation. I'm hoping to do that after Christmas. I want to make an appointment with the hearing lab at Costco. Marv K2VHW got his hearing aids there and he recommends them without hesitation and absolutely raves about them - and the prices are way better than the Miracle Ear office that I went to for my hearing evaluation. I could buy the high end Elecraft K4D for what they were asking for a pair of hearing aids - and those were their "less expensive" ones!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Aurora Alert!

Today and tomorrow, December 1st, we will be feeling the effects of three CME's all headed our way. NOAA ,as well as a private meteorologist that I follow and trust (he is amazingly spot on when forecasting winter storms and how they will affect New Jersey) are both predicting that even New Jersey might be able to see the Aurora resulting from these ejections.

To which I say:

That seems to be always the way it is around here. I've never seen the Northern lights except in videos. Heck, I've only seen the Milky Way from up in Lake George. I'd sure like to see the Aurora, but ........

And tonight is the 80 Meter Fox Hunt. Should be interesting. As of this moment, in the early morning, the K Index is still 1 and the Geomagnetic Field is still very quiet. I expect that will change drastically, sooner than later.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Tuesday night 40 Meter Fox Hunt ...... grrrr


The evening started off in the best possible manner. I stumbled upon Drew K9CW's loud signal from Indiana right off the bat. Realizing that this loud signal was indeed one of the Foxes, I quickly called him and worked him at 0202 UTC. Two minutes in, I think that's the earliest I've ever worked a Fox in all the years I've been doing this.  Drew had a fantastic signal - an actual 579 and if you look at all the blue and green dots on the map above, you'll see he handed out a lot of pelts.

John AJ1DM in Rhode Island was a whole different story. If you look at the red and green dots on the map, you'll see he handed out a lot of pelts as well. But if you look at the map carefully, you'll see there are no red dots from Ottawa to Washington DC, save for a solitary green dot in New York, a Hound who was able to work both John and Drew. It's hard to see in the photo above as he's right behind that blue dot in northwest New York State. John's RF was literally flying right over our heads destined for other distant Hounds, away from the Northeastern states.

I could tell where John was by listening for the pack chasing him, and then going down 1 kHz. After the hunt was over, I plugged him into RBN to see if I was correct in guessing where he was. It turned out that I wasn't chasing phantoms - my detective work proved fruitful, and I had the right frequency all along. Sometimes when signals are so weak you can fool yourself into hearing something that's not really there. Happily, that wasn't the case this time.

I was able to hear him only by using the KX3's APF function, and only then at ESP levels. I knew he was there, but that was about it, save for one single time when his signal rose out of the background well enough to throw out my call. He promptly returned to the dust of the noise floor, and at about 0300 UTC or so, he completely vanished and I was no longer able to hear his ESP level signal. Determined, I hung around to the bitter end, hoping that John might somehow re-appear (loudly) - but no joy.

So I guess one out of two isn't bad. The HF9V was the weapon of choice last night and served me well in being able to retire for the night with at least one Fox pelt.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Christmas is a comin' and the goose is getting fat......

So what Ham Radio goodie are you asking from Santa this year?

It's been a long time since I've asked Santa (Marianne) for anything Amateur Radio related, but this year I have asked for one of these:

The Elecraft AX-1 and the 40 Meter coil extender (and the little base thingy that supports it on a table)

I've been thinking about acquiring one of these for years - actually since 2019 before the pandemic. SPARC was holding a "Get On The Air" event at a local park in town connected to JOTA, and we were  hoping that some local Scouts would show up and take advantage of the opportunity to get on the radio. That hope didn't pan out, but that's not what this post is ultimately about.

Dave KD2FSI had his set up going (his Yaesu rig and the 20 Meters vertical he attaches to the frame of his back pack) and I had the KX3 on a picnic table with the PAR END-FEDZ going off to a nearby tree.  Dave had worked Italy on 20 Meter SSB with his station. Soon afterward, I also worked Italy, but with 5 Watts - and I hate to admit it, but I was feeling kind of smug. You know, the old QRP vs QRO thing.

Soon afterward, Bob WB2UDC came with his KX3 and the AX1 antenna. I'll be brutally honest here. I looked at it and thought to myself "No way is that thing is going to make any contacts." Much to my dismay, Bob served me with a huge plate of crow to eat when he worked that same Italian station I had worked an hour earlier! And to boot, he had gotten a 599 report! OK, maybe that was just the standard DX "599" report, but I was still impressed that the antenna was capable of a trans-Atlantic QSO.

He was making contacts - not a ton, but that little antenna was sure getting out! It occurred to me that would be just the thing to take along to Lake George for our annual summer sojourn. There's plenty of picnic tables, and I really don't like hanging anything from the trees (even though I have permission, I try not to abuse that trust), and it seems like an easier set up than the mag loop.

So I put in a request to Santa - I've been good this year and I have my fingers crossed that I'll find one of these under the Tree come Christmas morning.

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

Monday, November 27, 2023

It's funny

For the last week, the CW portions of the bands have been occupied virtually, wall to wall, in preparation for CQ WW DX and for the duration of the contest itself. After the St. Max Net ended on 75 Meters at 0030 UTC last night, I went up to the higher bands for a quick listen.

Pffffffffft! Zilch, zero (well not totally zero, but compared to the contest period), nothing.

I understand that after putting in multi-hour efforts most contesters pull the plug for some much needed rest. But what of the rest of the week? People will say the bands are dead and blame propagation. I have a feeling it's not a lack of propagation, but more a lack of participation.

If the bands can be wall to wall for a contest, they can be much better than dead for the rest of the time. I, myself, used the contest just to cherry pick a few DXCC entities that I have worked before, but were never confirmed on LOTW. I'm hoping that maybe this time will be a charm.

And of course, there are the QRP Fox Hunts, POTA stations to be worked and rag chews to be had. The bands aren't dead because of bad band conditions, we just need some bodies on them making noise!

Oh, and by the way, now that the big contest is over, the K Index is back down to 1, and the Geomagnetic Field is "Very Quiet" ..........of course!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Got 'em this time!


This time,  it's definite.  I am in the 4W8X log.

I set HamAlert for them and it was chirping all day. The problem was that all the spots were coming from Europe.

That's when I decided to go to the Reverse Beacon Network and set it up to show the spots for 4W8X. When the map showed the station was being heard in the US, that's when I started listening. The cool thing about RBN is that the lines from originating station to spotter are now color coded, so you can easily see on which band your quarry is being heard.

All the lines to the US indicated 30 Meters and that's where I heard them.  Still had to use the KX3's APF feature to make them easily audible,  but whatever it takes,  right?

Today's a big day for CQ WW DX and the K Index is up at 4, and the Geomagnetic Field is active. Not the best solar conditions that one would hope for.

In any case,  the terrestrial weather here today is decent. Cold, but sunny so the outside Christmas decorations will probably go up today. That will take up a good chunk of the afternoon.

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

Friday, November 24, 2023

Busted DX

 CQ WW DX will be dominating the weekend. There are no other contests or even Special Event Stations scheduled for the weekend.

Personally, I'll be chasing 4W8X in Timore-Leste again. I worked him on 15 Meters a while back, but I checked in ClubLog and I'm not in their log. However, W2LO is in their log on 15 Meters twice - while all his other band spots occur only once per band. That leads me to think they didn't hear that first dit in "J" and logged me as W2LO. C'est la Vie - but if I can work them again this weekend, that will make C'est la Vie a bit easier to take.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, November 23, 2023


And now, bless the God of all,
    who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
    and fashions them according to His will!
May He grant you joy of heart
    and may peace abide among you;
May His goodness toward us endure in Israel
    to deliver us in our days.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Day 2023

"Hurry with that Turkey, Jeeves. I'm awfully Hungary - and then bring Samoa!"

Technically, it's the day before Thanksgiving Day 2023, here in the USA. Tomorrow is going to be filled with cooking chores and last minute straightening up of the house, so I thought I'd post today. My wishes are for all of you to have a safe, happy and joyous holiday, with good food, family and friends. Marianne's brother and his wife are coming for dinner. My sister and her husband are having Thanksgiving at one of his brother's houses this year, so I'll miss being with my "big sis". Ahhhhhh ......maybe Christmas.

Thanksgiving is such an underrated holiday. Halloween and Christmas sandwich Thanksgiving and get much more attention and hype. But yet, in and of itself, the holiday is so important just on it's own. It is soooo much more than just the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It's so much more than the day before Black Friday.

I've so much to be thankful for. I do more than my share of kvetching and complaining about work, traffic, my commute and the other little annoyances of life, but they're just that - annoyances. I've made it to another Thanksgiving. I have a wonderful wife and two fantastic kids. Heck, I can't even call them kids anymore. They are young adults who are establishing themselves and striking out to embark upon their own careers. I imagine that sooner, rather than later, they'll both meet that special someone with whom they'll start their own families.

Marianne and I are reasonably healthy (besides the requisite growing older aches and pains), and for that I am most grateful. The kids are healthy, too and for that I am even more grateful. I'd rather have something happen to me than them. We have a warm house, food on the table and we have each other. We take that so much for granted and we proudly attribute the "things" we have to our own abilities, hard work and labor. But in the end, it's ALL a gift from God - without Him and His benevolence, we'd have nothing. Everything that we have belongs to Him, when all is said and done, and we are thankful for His most gracious "loan".

So I'll leave you with a little video of a Thanksgiving song, written and composed by Ben Rector. Thanksgiving deserves more songs like this. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - and oh, one last thing that I am so grateful for and do not wish to fail to mention- all of YOU, from all around the world who read this little blog and enjoy the best hobby in the world along with me - Amateur Radio. You folks are the best! And the hobby is too!

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