Monday, July 31, 2023


I hope everyone did well in the Flight of the Bumblebees yesterday. It was a spectacular day for it here in New Jersey. The humidity was low and there was plenty of sunshine and the temps didn't get much past the low 80s. I wish that I could have been on the air with all of you.

Marianne and I were at my cousin's house for her 50th birthday party. It was actually a "Christmas in July" party, but her children decided to make it a surprise birthday party. When we got the invitation, it didn't even cross my mind that it was the same day as FOBB. She lives a bit downstate from us and getting there wasn't too bad. We got caught up in Jersey Shore traffic heading home, and we didn't reach our house until just before 7:00 PM, even though we left my cousin's house around 5:00 PM. Such are Summer Sundays in New Jersey!

Once home and when I had a few moments, I scanned both Facebook and the e-mail reflectors and I didn't see much chatter - either from before, during or after the event. I saw that Mike KC2EGL and John K3WWP did rather well as did Rick NK9G.  Other than those two, I didn't see much. From their reports, I guess there was a decent amount of activity, which is a good thing. Rick mentioned that all the action seemed to be on 20 Meters and that he didn't hear anything on 40 Meters. John K3WWP mentioned in his online "diary" that he had a tough time making contacts on 40 Meters.

Which leads me to another small pet peeve, of which I must admit, I am as guilty as everyone else! When "we" participate in these QRP events, most of us, but by no means all of us, seem to concentrate on 20 Meters first and foremost. 40 Meters will see some activity, but it seems like 15 and 10 Meters are always a wasteland. As we climb towards the peak of Cycle 25, we should really try to get something going on those two bands. I know 80 Meters is pretty much useless for daytime events, unless you want to get contacts from your immediate area. But 15 and 10 Meters? I often think that those two bands are dead simply because there's no one there! Maybe ....... just maybe if we populated those bands during events like these, we'd be surprised by the propagation and the distance we could obtain.

Gene N5GW always posts before events like these that he's setting aside times where he checks the other bands. Maybe if we all agreed to try 15 and 10 Meters at the 30 minute mark of each hour of the event, we might actually bring those bands to life. It's just a thought, and worth a shot, anyway., IMHO.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 29, 2023

More re-org

 Last Sunday I spent a couple hours cleaning up the shack.

Today, while the heat is still hot, I hope to spend a bit of time indoors re-organizing my portable ops backpack. Like the shack downstairs, it needs a clean out as that hasn't happened in a while. And that's part of the reason I brought the daypack to Lake George instead of the backpack. It's become bloated with things that I sometimes intend to use one day, but never get around to.

There are some antennas in there that I hardly ever use. They can get stored in another bag that I will specifically earmark for that purpose. I also need to go through the plastic tubs I have in there and get rid of (move to another location) the ones that just have superfluous stuff in them.

This will make the pack lighter and easier to tote around.  I'd also like to get over to Home Depot at some point and by enough PVC to emulate Dave KD2FSI's frame. I'm telling you, the man is a genius and I wish I had his sense of design and mechanical acumen.  I think he can go into a store, look at bits and pieces and draw up plans in his mind for all kinds of neat portable op accessories. I look at the same items and all I draw up is a blank.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 28, 2023


Once again, I've been giving thought to attempting to pump new life back into the New Jersey QRP Club. For many, many years it was considered to be one of the top QRP organizations in the country. It ranked right up there with the NorCal QRP Club, the Colorado QRP Club, the New England QRP Club and others.

In the early 2000's, due to the efforts of George N2APB and Joe N2CX and a host of others, the NJQRP Club reached its azimuth when it sponsored Atlanticon, the QRP confab of the Mid-Atlantic Coast. It was held in Baltimore and each year I was dying to go. But my two kids weren't even really toddlers yet, and with Marianne and I both working full time, it was an impossibility.

Soon after Atlanticon ceased, it seemed the club started to wither away. Stalwarts became Silent Keys, others moved away and NJQRP started to become a shadow of its former self. There were a few times I met with other members at the food court of one of the malls near Princeton. There were also a few outdoor gatherings at the park in Grover's Mill - the infamous landing spot of the Martians in Orson Well's "War of the Worlds". And then finally there was nothing.

So where does that leave us? The website was moved to its present URL location in 2016. As far as I can tell, there have been no updates. And in all honesty, except for the Skeeter Hunt, there hasn't been much activity to update the webpage with. Whatever the members have been up to individually, there's been no real effective means of communication between them.

George N2APB has moved to Tennessee and Joe N2CX became a Silent Key. There's no roster, so there's really no way to tell who was a member and who was not, and what members if any have either moved out of the area or have become Silent Keys. And since the last iteration of NJQRP, there just may be a whole new generation of New Jersey QRP'ers anxious to meet their like minded brethren in the state.

So we start with a new beginning.  I started a Facebook page. As of right now, it's a public group and I think you can just join. I've also started a group now that Yahoo groups are defunct. This group will be an e-mail reflector and our main way of keeping in touch with each other. If you'd like to join that, you'll have to send me an e-mail ( and I'll send you an invitation to join. 

Granted, it's not much of a start, but it is a beginning. Hopefully, as the word spreads and QRPers in New Jersey and the surrounding area become interested, maybe we can start holding meetings, if we can find a location that is convenient for all. 

I'd like to stress that while the New Jersey QRP Club will primarily serve local QRPers as far as any future live in person events go, there are no residency requirements. All are welcome and if we do meet in person, we can always incorporate a Zoom component as other clubs I belong to have been doing to include those who can't attend in person for whatever reason.

It's not my job to run the organization, that will be up to the members. I'm just going to try and re-launch it. So stay tuned - maybe we can light this candle and get this puppy off the ground!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

They'll do it every time!

 I'm sure most of you have seen this old comic. I think I may have even posted it before.

There was a time, when I was still living in East Brunswick with my parents that I encountered a similar situation. For years, I had only a Mor-Gain multi band dipole that I had put up during my Novice days. it was fairly inconspicuous. Sometime in the mid to late 80s I added a GAP Challenger vertical in the backyard. They were pretty new at the time.

I had a neighbor, two houses away who hated that antenna - and I mean HATED it, with a capital H-A-T-E-D! Every single time he saw me come out of the house, he'd start yelling at me that I was messing up his TV. Of course, he had to be the last person in the state of New Jersey without cable, but even so, I knew it was not me. I took a great amount of care in maintaining a clean signal. I had low-pass filters on the back of my radio (That's when I had my Icom IC-730 and I even performed the mod which allowed you to reduce power to as low as 100 milliWatts) and everything was grounded very well. I even offered to purchase hi-pass filters for the back of his TVs and would install them, gratis. Nope, as sure as God made little green apples, there was no way he was going to let me into his house.

My shack was in the converted garage that was my sister's art studio. After she got married, I was told I could move all my radio equipment from the house to there. It was great! I didn't have air conditioning and it got a bit warm in the summer, but a floor fan made it bearable. For the winters, baseboard heating left the space a bit on the chilly side, but comfortable, as long as you wore a sweater or a sweatshirt.

I had a small black and white portable TV (with rabbit ears) in there, and I invited Bob (the angry neighbor) to come watch that TV while I actually transmitted some CW at the same time. He came over and saw that there was nary a ripple, buzz, or rasp on the TV, even at 100 Watts. But of course, that didn't convince him, and probably just ticked him off all the more. His TV problems were all my fault, no doubt about it! In reality, I knew what the problem was. There was another Amateur Radio op who lived directly across the street from him and was actually closer to him than I was. He had a dipole in his attic, and he ran power while most of the time I was running my customary 5 Watts.. He was the one causing Bob's problem. I knew it, but wasn't about to rat out a fellow Ham. The fellow Ham knew it as well, but kept his lips closed tighter than the main vault at Fort Knox. He was fine with it that I was the scapegoat. Nice, huh?

The issue came to a head one day as I pulled into my driveway, in May of 1988. Bob was there as usual, leaning on the fence, both barrels loaded to pepper me with shotgun blasts of complaints before I was even able to enter the house. "You did it again! You messed up my TV so bad that I couldn't watch the Yankee game last night! I'm going to report you to the FCC!"

So I sighed, as I was dog tired, and asked him, quite calmly - "Bob, you said this happened last night? Are you absolutely sure? 100% positive?"

"I always know when you're on that #$&^! radio of yours!" Oh Geez, profanity this time!

So I answered, "Once again, I'm sorry for your interference problem, Bob. But I just drove home from Newark airport. I just spent the past two weeks in Switzerland getting factory training for the company that I work for. There's no way that was caused by me, I was 4,000 miles away, and my flight back just landed about two hours ago."

I rarely heard from him again. But I'm certain that he did the happy dance when I got married and moved to my present QTH ...... and I'm also quite sure that his interference problem continued on for a long time after I exited the scene. That fellow Ham with the tight lips and the dipole hidden in his attic became an SK only a couple of years ago.

In retrospect, I really have to thank cranky ol' Bob. Things always happen for a reason, and it was these incidents which changed me from a part time QRP dabbler into a full time QRP'er. I kind of made a vow to myself that I'd never let myself get into that kind mess again, and if flying under the radar (so to speak) was the way to do it - then so be it.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


I recently put a new 144/440 MHz antenna on the car.  Before we left for Lake George, I took the Jeep to the carwash. While temporarily removing the antenna that I had on the roof, I noticed that repeated openings and closings of the rear hatch had caused the jacket and braid of the coax to become damaged. I didn't replace it with anything too expensive, or tall, as I park in a parking deck. It's a simple Nagoya resonator on a magmount. It does the job.  I routed the coax a different way this time, through a path that hardly ever requires an open or close, so I should be good to go.

I also purchased another QYT K-8900D through Amazon.

It's not an Icom or Yaesu, but it's inexpensive and it satisfactorily does what it is supposed to. I had some gift cards from Amazon that were just sitting around and the VHF/UHF mobile that I had in the shack for ARES nets recently gave up the ghost, so I purchased another one of these. The K-8900D that I have in the Jeep was purchased and installed when I still had the Patriot. It has to be at least 4 years old or so and it's given me and continues to give me decent performance, so I went with another. It's not like I'm on VHF/UHF a lot anyway, so it seemed foolish to pop $200 or $300 or more, especially as I want to purchase that QMX later this summer.

I don't think I mentioned that I successfully replaced the coax on that magmount that I intend to use with the Buddistick. I did that on Saturday morning. It wasn't difficult, but it would have been nice to have an extra pair of hands. And how I hate how those tiny pieces of braid can get stuck in the skin of your finger pad. Worse than a wood splinter, by far! 

Checking out the connections with a VOM showed a short from center pin of the PL-259 to the hole in which the Buddistick will be screwed into. There was also a dead short between the PL-259's outer shell to the ground of the mount. And happily, there was an open between the center and ground connections. In theory, it should work just fine.

On a disappointing note, Marianne reminded me that we have a family event to attend this coming Sunday.  It starts at 1:00 PM and is about 30 or 40 miles south of us at one of my cousin's house. There will be no Flight of the Bumblebees for W2LJ this year. Heavy disappointed sigh.

To end this post on a few high notes, Bill W2AOF, Ron N2LCZ, Marv K2VHW and I met on Zoom this past Saturday evening to collaborate on SPARC's Field Day submission. Bill W2AOF successfully uploaded it to the ARRL before the deadline (which was yesterday) and according to what I was able to tell, we accumulated several hundred more points than we did last year. It will be interesting to see how we placed in the Hudson Division as there were a few clubs that cancelled their Field Day efforts as a result of the dire weather forecasts for that weekend. As it turned out, the weather was pretty much spectacular - until right before teardown, when all Hell broke loose!

Lastly, between several of us who were listening, and by our combined efforts, we were able to correctly copy that crypto Morse Code message from KPH for my friend Tim K0ETH. Tim let us know that he was able to plug our copy into an Enigma machine that he has access to (I guess it helps to be a real life nuclear physicist!) and decode the crypto message. Success!

What was copied was:

This decoded to:

I was very happy to have been asked to help and am glad that my small contribution aided his efforts.

My Dad served in WWII in the Signal Corp. At the beginning of the United State's involvement, he was stationed in England and was part of the team that were developing and refining RADAR. My Dad never became a Ham, but I like to think that my Amateur Radio genes came from him. Thanks, Dad!

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Did I do something smart?

For once in my life? (Besides marrying Marianne!)

I started working "real jobs" back in 1977, By a "real job", I mean a 40 hour per week, not the kind of work you did as a teen, or a minimum wage type job.  I have to admit, though, the first few jobs I had were not that far above minimum wage! So back in the 1980's, when I started making what you might consider a decent salary at Sinar Bron, where I would remain for the next 22 years, I decided to shell out the $$$ to become an ARRL Life Member.

Even back in 1980's money it was a lot and I had to pay it over a few successive quarters. Sometimes I have wondered whether or not that was a fool hardy choice. I especially came to question my decision when the League decided to jump on the bandwagon for eliminating the Morse Code requirement for obtaining an Amateur Radio license. "Time heals all wounds" and I got over it, I guess. That policy change still lives in the back of my mind, though. There's a "never forget" flag flying in deepest and darkest recesses of my memory with regards to that issue which is near and dear to my heart.

All that aside, I received an e-mail to all ARRL Members that yearly dues are going to go up to $59 a year. That's a significant increase. I know all the ARRL does with regard to lobbying for Amateur Radio and all. I'm good with that - but as I come closer and closer to retirement (sometime within the next 2 to 4 years. I haven't truly decided yet) I have to wonder how I'd be able to justify that on a fixed income, were I still a "Standard Member". 

In addition. it was announced that applications for Life Membership are being suspended for the time being until they can "price the offering to be revenue neutral over its term". I guess that means they feel they're currently losing money on the likes of me. In actuality, they shouldn't. I opted out of getting paper copies of QST a few years ago.  It always seemed that among my local group of Ham Radio friends, I was the last one to receive the latest version of the magazine. So aside from producing digital versions and making them available to me, they don't spend all that much on me. I don't get pins or certificates for 25, 30, 40 or whatever consecutive years of membership like the rest of you do. AND when I changed from N2ELW to W2LJ back in the year 2000, I had to pay for a new Lifetime Membership plaque. It wasn't a freebie - so IMHO there's not too many perks to being a Life Member other than not being bugged about dues.

It will be interesting to see how this affects League membership going forward. I'm certain it will decrease, but by how much will remain to be seen. I think it's pretty much a no-brainer that if membership numbers do decline then that deficit will have to be made up by increasing the prices of books, apparel, and other swag. And you would NOT be able to knock me over with a feather if all of a sudden it was decided that requesting a call sign certificate for Logbook of the World became associated with a fee.

I could be totally wrong on that last one, but time will tell.

Oh, and by the way ........ if you change your call to N2ELW via the Vanity Callsign system ...... do I have a plaque for you !  LOL!

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

Monday, July 24, 2023

From utter chaos to a minor disaster

I guess that's the best way to describe the shack now. I spent a couple hours filling two big green garbage bags with "stuff". It seems my precious radio room had become the Makoski family repository for just all kinds of "stuff".

I can now sit down and turn on the radio without having Fibber McGee's closet come raining down upon my head. Unfortunately in the trash went two small semi-started kits that I began working on literally years ago. I don't remember what they were and where the remaining components went to, so as much as it pained me, I let them go. Believe me, in their stead, I have plenty of projects to work on. I am not going on in life kitless.

I still have a ways to go, but I made a start and I'm getting there. The main goal here is to have enough clean space to build the QMX when I eventually get around to ordering one. I'm hoping that will happen before summer ends.

Just a reminder - FOBB is next Sunday! If you haven't made your plans, or requested a Bee number, time is getting short. And speaking of time getting short, I am already noticing that the hours of daylight are getting less. Boo! Hiss!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Did anyone listen for KPH yesterday?

The Maritime Radio History Society ran an event yesterday, where Maritime Station KPH was sending five letter code groups in which listeners were to decode a message using a WWII Enigma machine simulator.

I wasn't participating in the event myself, but my friend Tim Koeth, K0ETH, the son of my friend Bill W2WK (SK) was. He had sent me a message during the week asking if I would copy the code groups as a back up to his effort.

At 4:00 PM local time, I ran down to the shack and fired up the KX3. Since the transmissions were way out of the Amateur Radio bands, I bypassed the internal tuner so no "last settings" from our bands could possibly attenuate whatever signal I was able to receive.

The KPH CW frequencies are (in kc):

426 (after an announcement on 500)






The only frequency on which I was able to copy was 17.0168 MHz. The signal was not bad, I'd say a decent 579, but QSB was pretty significant and my background noise was at least S3 on the W3EDP. I did not switch to the Butternut, and I should have as it's a bit quieter as far as background noise is concerned.

Anyway, the transmission of the code groups was at 15 WPM, so when I had solid listening, it was easy copy. I had two code groups where I only got 4 characters. The rest I got complete, but with band conditions, I highly doubt all were correct. But I DO know that if this were an old school FCC Code Test (remember those? WHEW!) I'm 100%! confident that I would have at least one minute's worth of solid copy. At the same time, if the Allies had depended on me alone back in WWII, the free world as we know it today, might have been in big trouble

I sent off my copy to Tim and wished him luck. He had several other people listening for him besides me (and himself). I hope he had a set up with the ability to copy the same in a RTTY message which followed the Morse Code transmission. But my own experience is that knowing that RTTY is not a Forward Error Correcting system, that copy might be as dicey as my old ears listening to CW being sent from 3,000 miles away amidst the QSB, background noise and static crashes.

So........ did you listen? How did you do?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Stuff like this really toasts my marshmallows

 A Facebook friend posted this on his page:

And generally, it was received well. However, one Ham who shall remain un-named had to copy it onto his page, modify it and begin denigrating QRP. All "tongue-in-cheek", of course!

I got to read that tired old garbage about how QRP is not special and how ALL the hard work is done by the receiving station, yadda ...yadda....yadda. QRP doesn't involve any real skill, in fact it's "mousy". QRO is what real Hams do.

The thing that ticked me off is that this guy is a Ham with some semi-celebrity cred of sorts who has a regular column in a national publication. He's not an idiot and he should know better. And even if his comments were "tongue-in-cheek" other Hams were, of course, more than willing to play "Dog pile on the rabbit".

So when I called him out on it, I was told to "lighten up".

Many years ago, when I was in the photo retail game, I learned that if you wanted to sell a Nikon, you didn't tell the customer that his Minolta or Mamiya was a piece of crap, or was somehow inferior.  You just sold them on all the great features and quality that they would be purchasing.

From that I learned that in Amateur Radio you never publicly criticize or belittle what another person likes, no matter what you might personally think. You like QRO? Fine. You like FT8? Fine, You like contesting? Fine. I may or may not be into any of those things, but I will never try to convince you that what you like is wrong. (Unless, of course, it is illegal).

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

Friday, July 21, 2023


 This time, of the terrestrial kind.

My phone went off at about 3:30 AM this morning, just about the time Marianne wakes up to get ready for work - she has to be at the dialysis clinic at 5:00 AM.  It was the WCBS Weather app on my phone, warning of a severe thunderstorm warning. A quick glance revealed that it was for Rockland and Westchester counties in NY.

When I awoke at 5:00 AM and headed downstairs to the kitchen, I heard a loud kind of whooshing sound. At first I thought the compressor in the refrigerator was going bonkers, but it turned out to be rain hitting the skylight in the rec room. It was raining hard!

It seems we've had a lot of wild and wooly weather this summer. Of course, you'll always have people whose first words out of their mouths are "climate change", but I remember summers like this when I was but a youngster. I remember one summer in particular when I must have been either 5, 6 or maybe 7 years old. It seemed like we got thunderstorms just about every day that summer. And the reason for my memory is that my Mom was deathly and I mean DEATHLY frightened by thunderstorms.  

There was a time when she was a little girl and answered the telephone during a storm and she received a bad shock. She carried that fear with her for her whole life and whenever a thunderstorm was upon us, particularly the bad ones, she would herd my sister and me and herself down to the basement. I also remember one time that same summer when the sky got so black like nighttime, that she hustled the three of us next door to my aunt and uncle's house, as she was afraid to be alone, even with us kids. The grown ups stayed upstairs and my sister and I and our two cousins played in the basement. That storm was so bad that during a particularly close lightning strike, it caused the lightbulb in an overhead ceiling fixture to burst.

The point of all this is, that whenever someone panics about the weather and claims that this is new and that the world is coming to an end, I just chuckle to myself. Yes, the weather HAS been like this before, it's just that you weren't around to see it! I remember the 60's being particularly bad for hurricanes affecting New Jersey because our basement was leaky and I spent a lot of time picking up water.

It's all cyclical and there will be periods of violent weather and not so violent weather. You just have to keep an eye on the big picture. And as for climate change? Yep! Certainly! And you know what? It's been changing since "Day One" and will keep on changing until "Day Last", and other than being the best and most responsible stewards of the planet that we can be - there's not much we can or should do about it.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Solar Weather Widgets

 I re-installed Paul N0NBH's Solar Weather Widget. If you scroll down all the way to the bottom of the blog you will see it:

Interestingly, as I was looking at the page,, I noticed there was an Android app available. So I clicked on the link, only to find out that while the app is available at the Google Play store, it was not available to me because it was written to work on an older version of Android.  BUT ........ there was a link to downloading the APK file - so I clicked on that and got it running on my Galaxy S10E.

Nice! There's a little overlap between the second and third photos (screenshots from my phone), but you get the idea. Wish I had this with me last week up at the lake.  Once again, hindsight is 20/20.

By the way, there are also versions of the phone app available for iPhones and there are versions of the main widgets available for iOS and Linux machines.

I'm not associated with Paul N0NBH, other than that I think that he provides we Amateur Radio ops an excellent service. If you would like for him to keep developing widgets like these, there is a link on the webpage where you can make a free will donation, if you so desire - just sayin'.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Change in plans

A thought came to me while I was at work on Monday. I think I can myself save a few $$.  I know that I have a couple old magmounts in the basement from antennas that I have used over the years that either got damaged or otherwise fell into disuse. To keep the magnets strong, I've kept them attached to the ductwork in the basement ceiling. I found this one Monday night, which is perfect for my needs. (I love scavenging!)

The threaded hole perfectly matches the thread size of the Buddistick extension arms.  All I have to do is replace the coax. I took it apart to see how that was originally fitted as there's still a tiny stub of coax left - I guess the original coax got damaged and I had cut it off. This one's been literally "hanging around" in the basement for so long, I don't even remember what antenna I had attached to it.

It's a press fit. Maybe not the best arrangement, electronically, but it works. I cut the coax off one of these, which I recently removed from the Jeep:

I wasn't getting the range from this Compaqtenna that I was used to getting with a more "traditional" type of VHF/UHF dual band antenna, so I switched back to one. The coax was still good and it will mate perfectly with the old magmount that I rescued from the basement (or so I hope!).

The weather is supposed to be good this weekend and I don't have too many outstanding obligations glaring me in the face. I am going to get this repair job done on Saturday and then maybe on Sunday, if God is willing and the creek don't rise, I'll go up to Washington Rock State Park and will activate K-1635 using the Buddistick.

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Blast from the past

An article that I authored which CQ Magazine saw fit to publish in their February 2014 issue. It's pertinent to my discussion of the Buddistick on top of the Jeep in yesterday's post.

I've posted these on the "Portable QRP Ops" page for future reference.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 17, 2023

Things have changed!

Things have changed since I acquired my Buddistick! Improvements have been made and one of the most important pieces that I use, this "old school" Buddistick mounting plate, seems to be no longer made, or available as a part.

Glad I still have mine!

What I do need to do is to acquire one of these:

I have an adapter which is basically two PL-259's back to back. I will attach the mounting plate to the magmount using that, which will once again allow me to use the Buddistick mounted at the top of my Jeep. The Buddistick really sang for me when I used it that way before and I expect the same result again.  This will be useful when a wire is not allowed in a tree; or when a tree is not available. It's also a quick and dirty setup when time is an issue. My best DX using a similar configuration was from NJ to a far part of European Russia (almost Asiatic Russia) at about 8,000 some miles with 5 Watts CW.

I wish I had all this with me last week at the lake, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

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

Sunday, July 16, 2023

POTA SYP Weekend

This weekend is POTA's "Support Your Parks" weekend. Wrong weekend for me, as we're back home and I'm slowly preparing myself to get back to the grind tomorrow. The older I get, the harder the transition of getting back to the normal routine is.

In any case, even if I wasn't going back to work tomorrow, this weekend would not have been a good POTA weekend as the weather has been less than deluxe since we got home. After we unpacked the car yesterday, I travelled to 25 or so miles south of here to my sister's place to pick up Harold (our Beagle), as she was watching him for the week. As we traveled back to South Plainfield, Harold and I hit some pretty nasty rain on the highway. I kept pressing on with my windshield wipers on at full blast at times. Other drivers, not as confident in their ability to proceed had either pulled over to the side of the highway, or were driving with their hazard blinkers on.

The big Sussex County Amateur Radio Club Hamfest was to be held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds this morning. I was debating whether or not to go. I really didn't feel like driving all the way up to the NorthWest corner of New Jersey after all the driving I did yesterday. What sealed the deal for me, though, was when my phone blasted off at 4:30 this morning that our neighboring county, Somerset County, was under a tornado watch until 5:15 this morning. Basically, I can throw a rock out my window and hit Somerset County. I don't think a tornado would have had second thoughts about wandering into Middlesex County just because the National Weather Service didn't give it permission.

So I stayed home. And from some pictures I saw on Facebook, a lot of people made the same decision that I did. Let's just say the photos didn't indicate that there were mobs and crowds of vendors or attendees. My weather station has reported that we have received 1.40" of rain since yesterday afternoon with more to come. It's supposed to clear up and be hot and sunny for tomorrow, a prototypical Summer day. 

Of course it will. I'll be at work.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

FOBB is on!

For any new QRP Newbies out there,  FOBB is the Flight of the Bumblebees. It is the longest held, and arguably the best and most popular outdoor QRP event of the Summer.

I'm so happy to see sign ups begin tomorrow! If you're new to QRP, or a seasoned veteran ....this is a must do, must not miss event! Here's Rich KI6SN's announcement:

We were hanging on until this Sunday to officially announce the 2023 Flight of the Bumble Bees, but there arose such a clatter, we figured we'd better pull the trigger now.

You'll find everything you need to know to take part in the event on July 30 at:

The FOBB BB Numbers Roster is developing at:

Please check it out, and by all means, sign up as a Bumble Bee if you'd like to do a field operation.

Thanks in advance to everyone who joins in to make this one of the premiere QRP contests of the year. We'll be listening for you from the field.




72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 14, 2023

Already thinking of next year

It's our last full day up here, so no radio today. Just enjoying the day and soaking in all the lake ambiance that I can. But that's not stopping me of thinking about next year.

I need to not forget the Buddistick whips next year. The Buddistick, mounted on a magmount on the roof of the Jeep can really sing. I've used it way that way before and having the vehicle act as the ground plane makes all the difference in the world. I'm not going to bring along aluminum screening, that's for sure.

I will bring along my drive on mast holder and my 20 foot crappie fishing rod. That used to work well for me from the top of Mt. Prospect. They don't like anyone hanging anything in the trees up there; but the PAR, running from a picnic table to the crappie pole some feet away causes no complaints.

Oh, I uploaded my log to the POTA website this morning, so if you worked me, you've gotten credit.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Better day today

 Maybe because it was that I was wearing my lucky W1AW t-shirt?

Unfortunately, the ARRL doesn't offer these anymore. I'd order another if I could. Not that I'm superstitious, or anything!

I set up the AlexLoop on the porch again. My plans to deploy the Buddistick evaporated when I realized I left the whips at home. I wasn't expecting much, but my expectations proved foundless.

I ended up working the requisite 10 stations, with three of them being Park to Park. All were on 40 Meters except for the last. I worked Dave AB9CA on 20 Meters. He was at K-8170 in South Dakota. Actually, in all I worked 16 stations from K-2001.  I know I could have worked more if I had used the PAR ENDFEDZ, but I didn't want to throw it up in a tree in cabin property here.

I will submit my log to the POTA people after I re-read the rules and requirements about submissions, It's been a while.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Solar Weather

I should have checked the solar weather report yesterday before getting on the air. Looking at it later, I discovered that it was a lousy day to concentrate on 40 and 20 Meters. I should have spent my time on 15 Meters or perhaps 10 Meters, where conditions were much better.

As it was I only made three contacts in about an hour. One was a Park to Park, which made up for the otherwise "meh" of the day. At 19:04 UTC, I worked WI5D who was at K-7390, Leavenworth Park in Kansas.

If I get a chance later today, I may set up with the Buddistick. I have to make 5 more contacts here before I can count this as an activation. The weather forecast for today is "ok". Tomorrow and Friday are looking iffy.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 10, 2023

A good day to do not much

It's raining again today up here at the lake. A lot of people might complain that their vacation is being ruined by bad weather, but you won't hear a peep out of either Marianne or myself resembling anything like that. We're so busy with our day-today lives that precious and few are the days in which we are afforded the luxury of doing nothing. Like yesterday, "I'll take it."

Tomorrow, however, I'll have to make a run to the grocery store to get hamburgers or something for dinner. One of the things I have on my list is a small note pad. I did not pack one in the daypack and even though I have HamLog NG on my phone and AC Log here on the laptop, I still find it easier to log on paper and transfer to the computer.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's just ingrained into me from my Novice days, when there was no such thing as personal computers and Ham Radio logging software. Or perhaps it's that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Don't get me wrong. I love both my logging programs and I use them and would be lost without them. It's just at THE moment of making a QSO, I find it less distracting to put down the necessary information on a piece of paper and then type it in afterwards.

It's the same way for me on Field Day. I enter the callsign into AC Log to make sure the QSO won't be a dupe, but I write the received exchange down on paper before entering it into everlasting digital life. I don't know, maybe it's a matter of distraction, maybe it's a matter of not being able to multi-task in this particular circumstance, or maybe I just have a short attention span. In any case, I think I'll always be a paper first, digital second type of person.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Not exactly what I was hoping for ...

 but I'll take it!

I met with W3BBO for our weekly ragchew on Skype at 3:00 PM. He let me go early so that I could set up for the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint. I was going to set up on the big deck they have here where we're staying, but the skies have been overcast and threatening all day, so I set up on the porch instead.

At 4:00 PM I tuned to 20 Meters and I heard quite a few SKCC Weekend Sprinters (WES) all by their frequency and up into the QRP Watering Holes. However, I did not hear one single solitary QRPer calling "CQ QRP" or whatever. Undeterred, I called CQ for a while on 14.062 with no result. I switched over to 40 Meters and that band was pretty dead as a door nail, too.

Rather than call it a day so soon. I decided to go back to 20 Meters, but down the band a bit. Maybe I could catch some DX?  Sure enough I did! I heard F5PLC calling CQ on 14.037 MHz with no takers. I crossed my fingers, took a shot and put out my call. I got an answer immediately. Michel "Mike" was a solid 599 and he gave me a 579.  How could I help but not be 579 when my signal was being picked up by this antenna?

Mike was transmitting with 50 Watts from near Belfort, France which is not too far from the Swiss border.

I think I may have been close to his QTH when I was in France during my second visit to Switzerland in 1994. And looking at his QRZ page, Mike is quite the CW aficionado and a QRPer, too. Look at his KX1 !

After we signed, I decided to go back up to QRP Country to see if I could hear any Summer Homebrew Sprinter's and alas I did not. But I did hear OZ30EU coming in like gangbusters!

Svend was 599 +++, but I was avery weak 329 to him, but as I said up top - I'll take it! Svend was very gracious and patient. He stuck with me when he could have easily resumed calling CQ right over me. He didn't and I sent him an e-mail of thanks, explaining my set up. I just hope that his e-mail address as provided by is current and accurate.

I finally gave up when Marianne joined me on the porch, nudged me and said, "Don't you hear the thunder?" In all honesty, with earbuds in, I did not and I didn't see any flashes either, but maybe I was just concentrating too hard on the KX3 and the DX. I tore down and brought everything in, not desiring to take any chances as minute as they might be. So no Summer Homebrew Sprinters, but France and Denmark running 5 Watts to a magloop. Nice way to start off the week here!

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

Saturday, July 08, 2023

Our Happy Place

Hope to hear you on the air and work you this week. I will spot myself when I do the for real activation of K-2001.

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

Friday, July 07, 2023

Taking with

I've decided that this year, instead of taking my entire backpack up to Lake George, I'll just be bringing a daypack (the KISS principle). The contents will be:

1) KX3

2) Small blue lithium battery / charger

3) AlexLoop and PAR ENDFEDZ (I might include my Buddistick package as it's as small as the AlexLoop package)

4) Earbuds and bulldog clip paddle

5) 25' length of RG-8X (for the PAR)

6) Arborist's throw back which always resides in the Jeep, anyway.

And that's it. But with that, I hope to activate K-2001 Adirondack State Park while I am there. In addition, there's also the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint this Sunday from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. While my KX3 doesn't count as homebrew (even though it was built from a kit) it's still fun making contacts and handing out points. I hope there's a decent amount of activity.

Oh, and of course the laptop. I'll want to upload my log to POTA before we leave for home. For actual logging while operating I use HamLog NG on my phone. There's probably better software available now as this one's been around for a while, but I am comfortable with it and used to it. I don't think it's even available at the Google PlayStore anymore! 

I could really use a tablet for this. I gave my tablet to Marianne when hers broke. I never purchased a replacement for myself.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 06, 2023

I am a dinosaur

A curmudgeon, a crab, sourpuss, stick-in-mud, killjoy ........whatever you want to call me. I freely and openly admit it.

So what's W2LJ going on about now?

Knowing that I am a VE Liaison, someone (who shall remain nameless) approached me and asked to see the copies of the new Element 3 General exams that took effect on July 1st that were sent to me by the ARRL. I immediately and outrightly refused.

After I calmed down (my temper flared), I asked this person (an Extra) why exactly did they want to see them? The answer was (paraphrased) "I want to teach a General licensing class" - Ham Cram style.

So I directed this person to the NCVEC website, where the new question pool has been available since April. But that wasn't good enough - again paraphrasing,  "I want to know which questions are actually on the tests."

Again came the answer - unequivocally and forever "NO!" And then I got the "Why not?" attitude. Maybe because this my license and my VE credentials, my honesty, my reputation and my integrity on the line?

And this is where the curmudgeonliness comes in. I am probably going to raise a lot of hackles with this, but I loathe Ham Crams just for the sake of Ham Crams. They definitely have their place and purpose and ARE very worthwhile when used properly. In my book, you teach a licensing course - properly and traditionally- and then you can use a Ham Cram as a sort of final review before exam time. This way, you teach the theory and the Ham Cram will make the candidate comfortable with what they might find on the exam, as well as jog their memories on any finer points they may need reinforcement on.

This has been my personal experience where I have been involved in running VE Sessions for both scenarios. In the VE sessions where beforehand the material was taught traditionally (ie. hold classes and/or home study where the students read the license manual, the instructor reviews that material with them, answers questions for them, explains and tries to simplify the theory that wasn't clear to them) and the Ham Cram was used only as a final review, the passing rate was 85% or higher. In the sessions where the only exposure to the material was the Ham Cram itself on the day of testing, the passing rate was closer to 10-15%. I asked one of the participants at one of the latter types of sessions if they looked at the material at all before coming to take part of the Cram and I was answered "I looked at it on my way over here." I held my tongue, but probably rolled my eyes.

The point being, are you teaching theory or are you just teaching people how to take a test? Allowing students to memorize answers without understanding a scintilla of the background behind them is a fool's paradise. I hate to sound snobby, demeaning or condescending, but I've run across way too many Amateur Extras who have no idea how to build a simple dipole for themselves. Even worse, it seems they don't even have the wherewithal to go and look up the information for themselves! 

My $00.02 is that the hugest tragedy that ever occurred was when the FCC eliminated the Novice license. For years this was a training ground that led to the higher class licenses. We had our own little "playground" of spectrum, we made our abundant mistakes, we learned from them, we made friends, and if our interest was high enough - we upgraded and moved on.

Cranking out licensees for the sake of cranking out licensees - what's the value in that? Like so many other things in life, if there's just a mild curiosity about the Amateur Radio experience with no real passion behind it, you're just inflating numbers for the sake of looking good. And in the end, that does no one any good, except maybe for the lobbyists and the equipment manufacturers.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Night of Nights

Courtesy of Dave Ring N1EA:

Announcement: Night of Nights XXIV

13 July at 0001 GMT (July 12 at 5:01pm, PDT

Each year, as the day turns from July 12 to July 13 the transmitters of KPH are brought to life once again, performing the service that they were originally designed to perform, to honor the men and women who served in the maritime radio service, afloat and ashore, for a century. This year marks the twenty-fourth year that the rituals of this now traditional celebration will be observed. For details on this years Night of Nights, click here. The MRHS web site will be updated shortly with all the details you will need to participate in Night of Nights at home. And mark your calendars for 13 July at 0001 GMT (July 12 at 5:01pm, PDT). Get those receivers and antennas ready to once again hear the "music of Morse" in the Maritime Radio service, during this special anniversary celebration.


72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Happy Independence Day!


Happy 4th of July!

As we in the USA celebrate our birthday and our independence from the British Crown, it is wise to remember that the fight for said independence was not quickly gained nor without a price.

A mere six months from the signing of the Declaration, things looked very bleak for the newly declared "United States of America". General Washington and the Continental Army were being chased by British forces all along the East Coast, and there was an excellent chance that the dream of founding this new nation would be utterly and forever quashed.

But in December of 1776, thing took a dramatic change New Jersey. New Jersey is proudly hailed as "The Crossroads of the Revolution" as more skirmishes, battles and sorties were fought here than in other colony. As much as New Jersey is often the butt of jokes - even going back to Colonial times, it is fair to state that if it wasn't for New Jersey, there might never have been a United States of America. Being born, raised and living in this "colony" makes this holiday all the more special.

If you have the time, I would recommend spending some time to watch the following:

A superb film that pretty accurately tells the story of the bravery, courage, fortitude and determination and stubbornness of the men and women who fought and died to make this new nation free. We owe much to them and they are solemnly remembered on this day.

Happy Independence Day and may God forever Bless the United States of America.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 03, 2023


Sunday afternoon I received an alert over my phone that Middlesex County was under a severe thunderstorm watch until 11:00 PM. Being cautious, I went downstairs to detach the coax cable running to the KX3. But before I did that,  I wanted to see how the bands were. So I turned on the KX3.

Nothing. It was dead.

My immediate reaction was to panic, beads of sweat started popping out on my forehead, but I fought off the urge. I broke out the VOM and took a reading at the Astron's terminals. 13.5 Volts, we're good there.

Take a reading at the power connector to the KX3. Nothing. Next step was to turn off the Astron, switch the meter to Ohms and check for continuity from the Astron to the KX3's  power plug. Direct short from outer connection on the power plug to the negative terminal of the Astron.. Same for positive side of things. What ???!!!???  Holy electrons, Batman, this doesn't make sense!

Next step was to run upstairs and break out the PowerWerx battery and the power cord that I use with it. Hooked that up to the KX3 and all is well.

Deep breath and huge sigh of relief!

Then I took that power cord, attached the two alligator clips to the Astron's terminals, plugged that plug into the KX3, turned them both on and again, all is well.

So the culprit is the power cord. How does that go bad just sitting there doing nothing? The only thing that I can think of is that our cat must have been climbing around down there behind my shack table and must have broken it. I'm still.puzzled as how the cable tested OK with the Ohms setting on the meter. Maybe the way I had it twisted made a temporary good connection. Either way, I will fabricate a new power cord on Monday.

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 02, 2023

What came down DID go back up!

 The shed came and the install went rather quickly. It's an amazing process to watch.

They back it in on this trailer which has a second set of wheels that come down that are on a perpendicular axis to the main wheels so not only can they back it in, but they can swivel it it the direction they need.

The driver can control all the mechanized movements of the trailer using a hand held remote. It looked exactly like a TV remote from where I was standing. He can see the trailer movements as they are occurring and he is controlling them real time. Nothing is done from the driver's seat, and there's no guess work.

The shed in its final resting place. They pivoted it and made the final positioning adjustments by placing two long lengths of what looked to be 8" PVC pipe, which acted as rollers. Like moving blocks to build pyramids!

Fortunately, they did not have to remove the fence post that supported my W3EDP mast. I actually could have left it up, but who knew? With my luck, if I had left it up, I would have been panicking that I had to take it down while they waited. The whole process took about an hour andthey  finished early enough where I was able to run the coax back to the Butternut and re-install the W3EDP and my 2 Meter/440MHz J-Pole.

When I disconnected the coax from the Butternut, I was happy to see the coax connectors were still bright and shiny. I had covered them with a layer of electrical tape, then a coating of plumber's putty and then a final wrapping of electrical tape.  This time I went with a layer of electrical tape, a layer of Flex-Seal Flextape, and then the final coating of electrical tape.  I have used the Flextape before and it has been very effective in creating a water-tight barrier.

I had to postpone my weekly ragchew with W3BBO. We'll hook up tomorrow. I wanted to get the antennas up and the associated work out of the way. Boy, I used a lot of cable ties securing the Butternut's coax to the top rails of the chain link fence, but it came out looking nicely done! That's a good thing as the weather for today and tomorrow is supposed to be very rainy with lots of thunder.

I may not be able to get on the air, due to the weather, but at least I can sleep well knowing the installation of both shed and antennas is done.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Pre-shed before and after

Before clean up

Post clean up

The W3EDP is down, and the coax from the HF9V is rolled up and out of the way. Scheduled delivery for the new shed is for sometime this morning around 10:30 to 11:00 AM.

The weather picture is looking grim. Depending on how fast they are in and out, I may be able to get the coax to the Butternut hooked up again, today. We'll see about the W3EDP. If the post it was hose clamped to is not touched, I may be able to get that back up, as well. If they have to remove it and re-set it in new concrete, I may have to wait until Tuesday. The concrete needs time to set and the weather is looking soaky for tomorrow and only a little better on Monday. Tuesday looks to be the best bet.

BTW, for those of you who are interested, The 13 Colonies event starts today. I mention it in passing, as, while I will admit that it IS a fun event, I no longer participate for reasons that will be best left unsaid here,

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