Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Excelsior! - K2ORS!


Jean Shepherd was an American raconteur, author, radio show host perhaps best known for the movie "A Christmas Story" which originally appeared in his books "In God We Trust - All Others Pay Cash" and "Wands Hickey's Night of Golden Memories". I saw this picture on Facebook and had to cross-post here. The artist did a fantastic job and you can see the similarities in the facial features in the picture above and the photo below.

I had the pleasure of listening to K2ORS when he used to have a nightly radio show on WOR  - 710 on your AM Radio dial in NYC, and I also had the pleasure of seeing him live at Princeton University when he gave a show at one of their College Alumni weekends back in the 1980s.  Jean was also an Amateur Radio Op, a Ham - call sign K2ORS, and some of his best shows were the ones about Amateur Radio.

There are a few others that you can find on YouTube, but these are my favorites.

I wish we had someone like this as an ambassador for Amateur Radio today.

Oh ..... and by the way, Happy Hallowe'en!

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

Monday, October 30, 2023

Something new? (To me, at least)

 In addition to QRPSPOTS, it looks lie we have a new tool in town - QRP Cluster. At least it's new to me - I've never come across this before until a day or two ago - I just might be mightily behind the times.

This is from their "About QRP Cluster" info:

Why QRP Cluster?

Broadcasting with low power is fun, but especially if we manage to make QSO's or contacts. QRP signals are usually weak and easily missed in noise and interference. That's why we came up with the idea of creating a QRP self spotting Cluster, where every QRP broadcasting enthusiast can announce on which frequency they are working, in which mode, or with what equipment and power they are working.

What is a QRP operation ?

Firstly, it is a great part of an Amateur radio hobby...

In amateur radio, QRP operation refers to transmitting at reduced power while attempting to maximize one's effective range. QRP operation is a specialized pursuit within the hobby that was first popularized in the early 1920s. QRP operators generally limit their transmitted RF output power to 5 Watts or less regardless of mode be it CW operation or SSB operation.[1]

Reliable two-way communication at such low power levels can be challenging due to changing radio propagation and the difficulty of receiving the relatively weak transmitted signals. QRP enthusiasts may employ optimized antenna systems, enhanced operating skills, and a variety of special modes, in order to maximize their ability to make and maintain radio contact.

credit: wikipedia

How the QRP Cluster should work ?

Our first idea is to create a Self spotting QRP (TELNET) cluster, which will be intended only for QRP/mobile/portable stations. Basically something similar to the DX Summit. In other words, some web interface + possibly also a mobile application in the SOTA way. There was also an idea to made a beacons, which will permanently broadcasting cluster data in some DIGI mode for those who don't have an access to the internet (mostly in the mountains or distant and not populated areas). It would certainly be great if anybody could help us with this project. Main idea was to create an Open Source project in which anyone with the necessary knowledge could somehow participate.

From the photo, it looks pretty nice!  I can see where a lot of QRP POTA and SOTA folks could well make use of this.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The zombies have shuffled

I had a good time participating in the Zombie Shuffle on Friday night. I played hooky from my radio club meeting, but it was recorded on Zoom. I will watch the recording and will provide minutes for the next meeting.

In all I worked sixteen station in about 90 minutes of air time, one on 80 Meters, two on 20 Meters and thirteen on 40 Meters. 40 Meters was in great shape, or so I thought. Signals were pretty weak on 20 Meters and I was disappointed to hear only one other zombie on 80 Meters. 80 would have been a good band to work if it was populated.

Saturday morning was a CERT detail, providing traffic and pedestrian control for a paper shredding event the town sponsored. It was the first dry and sunny Saturday in eight weeks. Friday and Saturday we had a touch of Indian Summer with high temperatures in the low 80s (26C). Even though technically we have not had a hard freeze yet, these two days were very unseasonably warm. Of course,  it's raining again today and tomorrow and after, seasonable temps will return with overnight lows approaching or reaching the freezing mark.

Interspersed throughout the weekend I was working POTA stations. I did not go near the phone portions of the bands, even just to listen. I assume it was chaos with the CQ WWDX SSB Contest going on.

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

Friday, October 27, 2023

Unintended consequences of the KH1

Posted to the POTA Facebook page by Mike Maciel.

So ....... what's going on this weekend?

First off, the Zombie Shuffle is tonight! Can't forget about that!

ARRL EME Contesthttps://contests.arrl.org/arrlemescoresubmission.php - I know that a local club here in NJ, The Delaware Valley Radio Association plans to be active and has actually been running classes on EME for those who have volunteered to participate in the club's effort.

CQ WorldWide DX Contest, SSBhttps://www.cqww.com/rules.htm  Perhaps the biggest DX Contest running.
And again, the DVRA will also be running a Special Event Station this weekend:

10/29/2023 | 85th Anniversary of the War of the Worlds Broadcast

Oct 29, 1600Z-2100Z, W0W, Grovers Mill, NJ. Delaware Valley Radio Association. 7.225 14.255 21.300. Certificate & QSL. Delaware Valley Radio Association, P.O. Box 7024, Trenton, NJ 08628. webmaster@w2zq.com or www.w2zq.com

After my Dad passed away, my Mom sold our house and was living in a Senior Housing Residence in West Windsor, NJ. When I would drive down to visit her, I would pass the park in Grover's Mill that commemorates the landing spot of the Martians  My Mom was a little girl when Orson Welles made his famous radio broadcast and often commented on how crazily people acted that night. I once asked her if my Grandfather or Grandmother or any of my aunts and uncles got excited, and she just answered "No, we listened from the very beginning and knew it was a radio play show." Ah yes ....... the difference between hearing and listening!

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

Thursday, October 26, 2023



This appeared on Facebook on the Radio Aficionados page posted by Pedro Sanchez Carcelen. 

Speaking of "Boo!", please remember tomorrow night is the Zombie Shuffle. I will not be able to participate as I have to go to a club meeting (I'm secretary so I kinda HAVE to be there - durn!), which always falls on the last Friday evening of the month. I have not been able to Shuffle for about a decade now, and I wish I could be there with all you ghouls, ghosties and beasties. This is by far one of the most fun events of the QRP year. Let me post the notice that comes from the Head Zombie, Paul NA5N:

Hark, fellow Zombies.

Just a reminder that the 2023 Zombie Shuffle will be this Friday, October 27th, starting at 3pm your local time.

Rules at: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/ZOMBIE/pg.html

The sun seems to be taking a slight siesta, cooling down from a solar flux  160+ a couple weeks ago to 121 today.  Still, 20M remains open until a bit after sundown and I have had some nice 15M QRP QSOs mid-afternoon.  Far better than the solar flux of 60 a couple years ago.

The Zombie Shuffle attracts lots of hams who are rusty, and many who have their first CW QSOs and QRP experience.  So thanks to all who QRS and accommodate these ops.  It brings new ops into the "dark side" every year.

So think up a nice ghoul-ish name to share with your fellow Zombies and have some goofy, silly on-the-air fun.(emphasis by W2LJ)

72, Paul NA5N

Zombie #004

PS - The propane truck filling our tank accidentally backed into one of my guy wires, bringing down my south mast on my 133 ft. long terminated folded dipole (TFD). With no support, the north mast came down the next day, so I have dipole wire all over the back yard.  So I'll be on (and limited) to my  trusty 5BTV vertical with 36 radials.  I got fully Zombie-ized, but wouldn't miss the Shuffle for anything.

And lest you think that we Hams are into fun and games and contests and nothing else, let me share with you a post on Facebook, by our very own Goat whisperer, Steve WG0AT:

Way to go, Steve! Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Can you imagine how many acres of woodland might have been destroyed if it weren't for Steve? How many animals could have been killed or forced out of their territory? You don't always have to wear a reflective vest or sit behind a microphone directing a net to be a public servant.  And if Steve's actions don't exemplify this part of the Amateur Radio Code, I don't know what does.

"PATRIOTIC...His/[Her] station and skills are always ready for service to country and community."

Thanks again, WG0AT! You always show what being a superb Amateur Radio Op is all about!

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Another problem solved

 I was having a problem with my Bencher Mercury paddle.

The dit paddle was being real finicky. I originally thought it was a dirty contact, so I cleaned it and it would work for a while and then stop. Then I thought maybe I just had the spacing adjusted incorrectly, so I re-adjusted that. It would work for a while, and then stop.

I turned the paddle over and looked at the connections underneath and all seemed well. My frustration level was increasing as I like to use this paddle. I have both this and my Begali Simplex Mono adjusted so that they feel like as close as I can get them to feel like touch paddles. Both are on the bench and I will use either one, depending on my mood at the time. I purchased the Mercury from Len WB2HKK who was selling it from Bart WB2HEK's estate after Bart had become an SK. Bart and I were both members of the Old Bridge Radio Association back in the day, so I like to use it in his honor. But this dit paddle problem was vexing to say the least.

It turned out the problem was my fault. It turned out to be an intermittent at the stereo plug end.

I hate soldering these things! The soldering lugs are so tiny and there's never enough space to keep the connections from interfering with one another, once you put the cover back on. I usually end up stripping off too much wire insulation, leaving too much wire exposed, and then the wires inevitably end up touching one another causing problems.  I figured this out when I ended up taking the cover off, and expanding the space between the connections a bit with my fingers. As long as the cover remained off, the paddle worked fine. When I put the cover back on, it would squeeze the connections together just enough to cause problems. Way back when, when paddles and straight keys connected to rigs with 1/4" plugs this wasn't a problem. There was enough space where I could carefully wrap two of the connections with thin slivers of electrical tape, so even if the connections were squeezed together, there was no electrical contact made.

I knew that some of the old 19" Viewsonic monitors here at work had a 6 foot cable with these type of stereo plugs pre-molded on at both ends. The 19" Viewsonic monitors are being replaced with Lenovo 24" monitors and are being picked up by an e-waste collection agency for recycling. So I dug through the e-waste bin and came up with one of the cables. Thankfully, it was none the worse for wear and brought it home. I cut it in half and replaced the whole cable assembly on the paddle. Works perfectly now and I completed the mission - recycling, W2LJ style! As a bonus, I now I have an extra 3 foot cable on hand should the need ever arise. And yes, I guess you can rightfully call me a garbage picker, now!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Morse Code

 First the QRP Image of the Day:

Posted to Facebook by Peter OO7Z - who had a QSO with Reiner DL5YJN, who was using his homebrewed transceiver.

Every now and then I like to post about what it takes to learn Morse Code. After 45 years of being an Amateur Radio Op, I've learned that the journey is different for each one of us. What works for one may not work for another. What works for most may not work for someone else at all.

That all being said, I think the biggest "thing" about learning Morse Code is one's attitude. I know this from personal experience. I wanted to become a Ham while I was in High School. I was 16, bought myself an AMECO Morse Code LP and listened to it and failed, miserably. Not only did I fail miserably, but I convinced myself that I couldn't do it. It would never happen. I gave up. I didn't even bother taking the exam.

Fast forward a few years and a Novice license class became available at a neighboring town's High School as an Adult Education Program. This time, a little bit older and a little bit wiser (perhaps) I decided to grit my teeth, bare down and finally overcome this obstacle that had barred my entry a few years earlier. I wanted it bad enough, and that made all the difference.

I did it! But I did it the wrong way, in retrospect. I was given a set of ARRL Novice Morse Code cassette tapes (remember those?) and learned the code. But I learned it at the 5 WPM speed that was required at the time, but also at a slow, dragged out sending speed.

Why was this bad? It was bad because I counted on counting the dits and dahs, and then translating that into the letters. That may have been fine and dandy for the 5 WPM Novice Exam, but when I wanted to upgrade to General, I hit a plateau at 10 WPM, on my way to 13 WPM. And needless to say, that was a hard plateau to get over! It was then that I learned of the term "Farnsworth". This method of Morse Code learning is to hear the individual letters at a speed of about 18 WPM, but put enough spacing between the letters to bring down the effective receiving rate at say, 13 WPM for the General test.

It was tough! I had to effectively "unlearn" Morse Code and learn it all over again. But I hung with it and between those kind of code tapes and a lot of on the air QSOs, I was able to pass my General in the summer of 1979, less than a year after I was originally licensed.

Cassettes tapes and Morse Code LPs have gone the way of the Dodo. How is one to learn Morse Code today? Fortunately, there are a lot of Morse Code learning apps. Google and the Play Store or the iTunes store are your friends and I suggest trying out a bunch until you find the one you like the best. The one that I like the most and still use to this day is the "Morse Trainer" app by Wolphi on my Android phone. It costs about 4 bucks for the app, but I think is worth several times that. Not only will it teach you Morse Code, but even when you think you've become proficient, it will help you improve your speed.

In an on-the-air QSO, depending on the day, I can be comfortable with speeds between 18 and 30 WPM. When my head is clear and my mind is fresh, I can keep up with someone sending at 30 WPM. When I'm tired and my brain is nothing more than a bowl of tapioca pudding, I'll probably go with anywhere from 18 to 23 WPM. The great thing about Morse Trainer is that you can set is as high as 60 WPM. Currently, I have it set for 40 WPM and I try to play it in the background while I'm doing other things.

Yes, you read that right. I like to play Morse Code in the background while I'm doing other things. At this point, I'm just listening to rhythm and spacing. I'm not even consciously trying to decode, I'm just listening. No pressure, no tension, just listening and you'll be surprised how many words will just pop into your brain. I try and get at least ten or so minutes of this a day. It keeps me sharp and helps me increase my speed. I've noticed that during Field Day, I can even decode the speed demons that are sending at 40+ WPM rates. I'm not comfortable there, but I can keep up, even if it means having to listen a couple of times.

If you're attempting to learn Morse Code for the very first time, I would highly recommend limiting your sessions to no longer than 15 minutes at a time and at the very most, two sessions a day. You don't want to burn out and you don't want to let frustration set in. Frustration and worry are your two biggest enemies in learning Morse Code.

Listen and practice when you're not overly tired and most of all relax! Relax, relax and relax some more. I repeat, worrying about your speed, worrying that "you're not getting it" is the worst thing you can do. It will come, I promise! If I can do it, anyone can. And remember, I was convinced I couldn't learn Morse Code until I convinced myself that I could. I've gone from someone who absolutely hated it to being a Ham who only communicates via Morse Code, using phone only very unfrequently.

And knowing Morse Code can help you do other fun things. I received these images from Tim K0ETH, who included me on his team to decode the Morse Code sent by the Maritime Radio Historical Society last Summer, in a competition to decode an Enigma message. According to the letter, we were the first to successfully do it. Cool beans!

Good luck and may the Morse be with you!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, October 23, 2023

As expected

Keeping an on the newly renamed "Elecraft - AX/KX/KH" io.group over the weekend, sales of the KH1 are brisk. I didn't look to be honest, but I'm not even sure a shipping date has been announced. And I guess it's just me, but I was amazed that so many people were willing to plunk down money, just like that!

I guess I'm not as big an Elecraft fan as I thought I was - I don't need to have one of everything. HI HI !

The weekend was POTAful. I worked a bunch of POTA stations including Alan W2AEW who was activating the Washington-Rochambeau Historical Trail, which is technically a block away from home. He stated that he was in NJ, but that could be so many places in New Jersey.  The trail stretches from Rhode Island down to Virginia and  traverses NJ from top to bottom.

I activated the trail three times during NPOTA. My very first activation in January 2016 was from the Ashbrook Golf Course parking lot, which is less than 100 feet from the trail. The second and third activations were from the Frasee House in Scotch Plains, which sits right on the trail. The second was for the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt in 2016 and the third was on the last Day of NPOTA - my last activation for that fantastic year.

It is good to be on the air again and I've noticed the more I get on, the more I want to be on! I'll be down in the shack again tonight after work, working on 2022 Skeeter Hunt certificates. I'll have the radio on, and I'll be listening while I'm working.

Speaking of that, I recently purchased one of these via eBay:

It's a little amplified speaker about the size of a golf ball, and it plugs right into the KX3's headphone jack. It has self contained batteries that are charged via a USB cable. The manufacturer claims a charge will provide 12 hours of speaker use. When I operate, I use earbuds, but for casual background listening, I plug this little guy in and it produces a lot of volume. The internal speaker of the KX3 is not the best, to say the least. This little guy fills the shack with sound without having to turn the AF gain to the max.

I'm also going to procure a splitter cable so that during Field Day, I can still use my earbuds, but also plug this in, so visitors can hear what operating CW sounds like. Up until now, I've had to use earbuds as the KX3's onboard speaker is just not enough in an outdoor environment, especially as my ears get older and older.  People have come by and have just watched me "doing something" without being able to hear what it is that I'm doing. That HAD to be boring, and I think this will bring it home for onlookers and make it more interesting for them to watch the ol' fossil and listen to him as he actually makes Morse Code exchanges. They may not understand what is being transmitted, but it will be apparent that SOMETHING, is indeed happening. Who knows? Maybe besides annoying the SSB guys, it will spark an interest in a few people to learn Morse Code.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Sitting in the shack

For an unbooked Saturday, it was a very busy Saturday! Woke up to a gloomy and rainy morning but still got a lot done including getting a haircut which was very badly needed!

I'm down here in the shack after dinner and I've worked a few POTA stations and Andy HB9CVQ on 30 Meters. 80 and 40 Meters are filled with New York State QSO Party stations. I guess I could work a few to hand out some points and fatten up the log, but not really into that tonight.

Last night after dinner, I managed to log T2C Tuvalu Island on 10 Meters. That was a rough one with a lot of repeats, but I checked on Club Log today and I'm in there! I think I'm getting close to 175 different DXCC entities worked. Small potatoes to a lot of inveterate DX'ers out there; but I've never had a mega-station, so I'll be a very happy Ham if I can reach the 200 mark and get another sticker for my basic DXCC certificate.

I've worked more ATNO's in the last week than I think I have in the past couple of years. The great thing about Amateur Radio is that it's like riding a bicycle - once you learn, you never really forget how!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, October 20, 2023

New from Elecraft- from Steve WG0AT on Facebook

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

On the air after dinner

I didn't have any meetings or anywhere that I had to go last evening, so after dinner I popped down the basement and turned on the rig.  I worked three POTA stations, two on 20 Meters and one on 15 Meters. Then I saw that China was spotted on 15 Meters while I was still on the band.

I twiddled the dial on over there and to my surprise I was actually able to hear him. Asia, in general, presents a problem for me. Oceania has not been a big problem as I've logged Australia, New Zealand and many of the island nations such as Fiji and French Polynesia, and I've logged Japan numerous times. However, mainland and Southeast Asia remain a bugaboo for me. I've worked India ......... once. I've never logged China, Korea, Vietnam the Philippines or any of the other countries in Southeast Asia. Heck, not only have I never logged them - I hardly ever hear them!

So it was nice to actually hear China for once. The signal must have been coming over the Pole, as it has that watery, fluttery and warbly sound to it. The signal was on the weak side 449 to 559 at best, but I figured I'd give it a shot. I turned up the KXPA100 to about 90 Watts and put out my call sign, numerous times. I switched back and forth between the Butternut and the W3EDP to no avail. Even though there wasn't much of a pileup, the only response I got after throwing my call sign out was another CQ by the Chinese station. Not even so much as a "?" or a "QRZ?", so I knew I was not being heard at all.

After about a 1/2 an hour, I threw the big switch and came upstairs. There will be another time, I'm sure.

Coming up this weekend:

JOTA is this weekend. Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA), the largest Scouting event in the world, takes place on the third weekend of October (10/20 - 10/22). This annual global operating event allows Scouts to use amateur radio to connect with hams around the world. The event is supported by many local amateur radio clubs and individual operators. JOTA starts Friday and ends Sunday, but there are no offi­cial hours of operation, so you have the whole weekend to make JOTA contacts.

Contests with a QRP category :

10-10 Int. Fall Contest, CW - http://www.ten-ten.org/index.php/activity/2013-07-22-20-26-48/qso-party-rules

New York QSO Party - https://www.nyqp.org/

Worked All Germany Contest - http://www.darc.de/der-club/referate/conteste/worked-all-germany-contest/en/rules/

Stew Perry Topband Challenge - https://www.kkn.net/stew/

YLRL DX/NA YL Anniversary Contest - https://ylrl.net/contests/ (X3 Multiplier for QRP)

Special Events (Courtesy of the ARRL website)

10/20/2023 | Merit Badge Workshop and JOTA-JOTI

Oct 20-Oct 22, 0000Z-2359Z, K8T, Dover, OH. Canton ARC and Tusco ARC. 7.270 14.270. Certificate. Canton ARC, POB 8673, Canton, OH 44711. Certificate requests to dalelamm@ieee.org for an electronic response. Paper requests to Canton ARC, POB 8673, Canton OH 44711 with an SASE or one green stamp. tuscazoar.org

10/20/2023 | Operation Able Archer '83 40th Anniversary

Oct 20-Nov 3, 0000Z-2359Z, W3A, Lewes, DE. East Penn Amateur Radio Club/MRCA. 7.190 RTTY 3.996 USB 5.357 USB 14.337 USB. QSL. Walt Skavinsky, 1574 Layfield Rd , Pennsburg, PA 18073. 1983 Brink of the Apocalypse Able Archer 83 was a ten-day (NATO) communications exercise starting on November 2, 1983, that spanned Western Europe, centered on the Supreme Headquarters Allied Europe Headquarters, Able Archer exercises simulated a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a simulated DEFCON 1 coordinated nuclear attack The exercise also introduced a new, unique format of coded communication, radio silences, and the participation of heads of government. The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise, coupled with deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some members of the Soviet Politburo and military to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike In response, the Soviets readied their nuclear forces and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert. This is known as the 1983 war scare. The 1983 war scare is considered by many historians to be the closest the world has come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. the threat of nuclear war ended with the conclusion of the exercise on November 11. To recognize the sacrifices of our military, signal corps, and members of the clandestine services during this critical time in the history of the cold war, we will host a special event station. Our special event will consist of operation from the Cold war home of Naval Facility Lewes (NAVFAC Lewes), a Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) shore terminal. using period style military radios and antennas to make the contacts. www.ablearcher83.com

10/20/2023 | Operation Able Archer '83 40th Anniversary

Oct 20-Nov 3, 0000Z-0000Z, W9A, Salem, WI. W9AFB. 3.996 5.357 7.225 14.323. Certificate. Scott Grams, 26233 90th St, Salem, WI 53168. Midwest station of the Operation Able Archer '83 40th Anniversary special event. See W3A special event station, W9AFB on QRZ, or website for more details. Will operate from the former Richard Bong Air Force Base in Wisconsin on October 21-22. Other days will be holiday style, multiple bands and modes. Email for sked. www.ablearcher83.com

10/21/2023 | Jamboree On The Air

Oct 21, 1600Z-2359Z, K2BSA/6, Bakersfield, CA. Boy Scouts Of America. 14.340. QSL. Sharon Godley, 2701 Fordham, Bakersfield, CA 93305. Scouts of all ages around the world will be on the air. QSL Manager N2OWL n6aj@arrl.net

10/21/2023 | Jamboree on the Air - Troop 104

Oct 21, 1400Z-2200Z, W2S, Wayne, NJ. Packanack Troop 104 - Scouting BSA. 14.290 7.190 147.450. Certificate. Jim Sadur, 5 Packanack Lake Rd., Wayne, NJ 07470. Sponsored by the Wayne Radio Amateur Emergency Team (WRAET). Certificates via Jim, N2RBJ. SASE appreciated. https://wraet.com

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Humor for the day

You know you're a Ham when your wife or girlfriend scrolls through your phone and all she can see are Amateur Radio apps, photos of rigs, antennas and Field Day and the phone numbers for GigaParts, HRO and DX Engineering!

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Got them in the log!


Before running the South Plainfield ARES/RACES last night, I saw TO8FH spotted on 15 Meters, so I gave it a shot. They were only about 449 to 559 here, so I didn't expect too much, and was not disappointed.

At the top of the hour, around 0000 UTC, I saw them spotted on 17 Meters, where they were much louder - about 579. I stayed with them, tuned up a little more than 2 kHz and was rewarded to hear them send my call! We completed the exchange and now I have another DXCC entity in my logbook.

After working them I was a bit pumped and remembered how satisfying it is to bag an ATNO. I have to be careful, because I can see where this can become a habit (again) quite easily!

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Something new from Elecraft?

Or perhaps someone else? This was an e-mail thread on the Elecraft-KX io.group, and the main discussion was entitled "KX3 and a KX2?" The answers started to go a little off-topic with speculation on whether or not we would ever see a KX4 and what it should have. Then this appeared:

Intriguing. It will be interesting to see what is introduced and by whom. Perhaps the T41 mentioned on the Four States QRP Group will finally make its debut? Or will it be something else, entirely?

And then THIS appeared on the reflector tonight - from Wayne N6KR himself:

So we shall see, won't we?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, October 16, 2023

A good HF Sunday

 First, the QRP Image of the Day:

Taken from Facebook - love the photo! It's so this time of the year!

I managed to get on the air in the late morning. It was a productive session and yet disappointing at the same time. I worked seven different POTA stations on 20, 15 and 10 Meters. After I worked my last one, I saw TO8FH, Mayotte Island was spotted on, I forget right now, but it was either 15 or 10 Meters. I tuned to the frequency and they were decently loud. Not great, but not bad either. I figured that if I pumped up the KXPA100 a bit, I could probably work them.

The pileup behavior was absolutely atrocious! Between people not knowing how to go about working split, and the "Frequency Cops" sending "UP, UP", the DXpedition itself became inaudible. If I had gotten through and they had come back to me, I would not have heard them. So I did the best operating practice that I could think of - I turned the dial without even bothering to send my call even once..

Later in the evening, I checked into the St Max Net on 75 Meters. It was a good session with 18 stations checking in. Lloyd K3QNT, who is NCS, has a fantastic signal! He runs a tight, but welcoming and enjoyable ship, and it's good to listen to all who check in.

When the net closed, I noticed that the DX Cluster at the bottom of AC Log showed that the DXpedition to Swains Island W8S was spotted on 15 Meters.

I had a few minutes before K2VHW's Middlesex County Chat Net, so I decided to at least give a listen. To my astonishment, W8S was calling "CQ de W8S UP" with few if any takers! I took a stab that "UP" in this case would be about 2 kHz and gave them a call .......and got an immediate answer! An ATNO, a POTA station and an IOTA station in the log all in one shot!

A good day on HF ....... very good, indeed!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, October 15, 2023

"How To Day"


Yesterday was "How To Day" at the JFK Library in Piscataway, NJ. Through the efforts of SPARC member Harry KC2PGX, The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club attended and put on a demonstration of Amateur Radio and Morse Code. I didn't think I was going to be able to attend as my team had a VE session scheduled for the morning. However, the Director of OEM for Clark, NJ was in Atlanta, and there was no one to open the building for us, so unfortunately, I had to tell our two candidates that the session was cancelled.

Harry set up a computer, code practice oscillators and some straight keys and paddles, and plenty of literature and handouts. I brought my KX3 and AlexLoop. I was hoping to set the KX3 to the CW portion of an active band so people would be able to.hear "live" CW. Alas, there was so much RF being generated in the building that I had an S10 noise level. That plan scuttled, I was able to set the KX3 to "PTT" and was able to use it as another oscillator.

We had a nice flow of people for the four hours we were there. Both adults and kids showed interest. I had a couple of long conversations with those who were interested in getting their license. 

Harry's original intent was to load a couple of Morse Code decoding programs onto his laptop so that folks could try their hand on one of the code practice oscillators and see what they were sending. The programs he loaded were pretty finicky and worked sometimes but not always. Sometimes the Morse decoded well and other times all that would appear on the computer screen was a series of "E's" and "T's".  To save the day, he brought along this decoder device that he had built from a kit. It was an LED display integrated to a straight key. Depending on what was sent, the LED display would show a dot or a dash and then the letter that was sent. The kids would look at a Morse chart, send with the straight key and then see what they sent appear before their eyes. "Cool beans!" was the general reaction. However, our experience with the finicky computer programs just enforces my idea that the very best Morse decoder is the gray one between one's ears!

What was very interesting to me was that when adults or kids practiced on the straight key, the kids picked up the timing much more quickly than the adults. But either young or old, the general reaction to our presence was well received, and that made the time spent worthwhile, indeed.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Ham Radio Video

This is a relatively new one, brought to my attention by Stig Eustice LA5OTA, who - believe it or not, is a member of SPARC. Stig has relatives who live in South Plainfield and he came over to New Jersey a few years ago for a family reunion. He was made a member of SPARC and maintains contact with us via Facebook. Thanks, Stig for posting!


72 de Larry W2LLJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, October 13, 2023

Coming this weekend

On Saturday, I'll be assisting fellow SPARC member Harry KC2PGX at a Morse Code demonstration at a local library for "How To Day". I'm not 1000% how he's going to have this set up, but I believe he'll have a couple of code practice oscillators set up along with a laptop running a decoder program. In the past, when I was involved in an Amateur Radio demo for "Bring Your Kids To Work Day" at the IEEE, the Morse Code portion was the biggest hit. The kids had fun sending Morse asking us questions to see if we could decode what they were sending and answer them. It should be a fun day.

I'll bring my KX3 and AlexLoop along and will have it tuned to one of the CW portions of a band. There should be a decent amount of activity. I've listed the contests and special events occurring this weekend below:

Let's try this one again!

QRP-ARCI's Fall QSO Party is this coming Sunday

2023 QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party


0000Z to 2359Z on 14 October (2nd Saturday UTC) - (8PM SAT to 7:59PM SUN EDT)

Mode:  HF CW only.


Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number

Non-Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO Points:

Member = 5 points

Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points

Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points


SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands.  The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

Power Multiplier:

>5 Watts = x1

>1 - 5 Watts = x7

>250 mW - 1 Watt = x10

>55 mW - 250 mW = x15

55 mW or less = x20

Suggested Frequencies:

160m1810 kHz

80m 3560 kHz

40m 7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants)

20m 14060 kHz

15m  21060 kHz

10m  28060 kHz


Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier.

BONUS POINTS: None available for this contest.


Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m)

How to Participate:

Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies.  Work as many stations calling CQ QRP.  You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission: Submit your entry online at https://www.qrpcontest.com  Deadline for posting logs will be Nov 1st

Other contests this weekend with a QRP Category:

Arizona QSO Partyhttps://www.azqp.org/

Pennsylvania QSO Partyhttp://paqso.org/pa-qso-party-rules.html

South Dakota QSO Party - http://www.sdqsoparty.com - This is a good one for those of you trying to snare QRP WAS.

BIG weekend for Special Event Stations:

  • 10/14/2023 | "Ike" Eisenhower's Birthday - Sponsor of Nuclear Ship Savannah

    Oct 14, 1300Z-2100Z, 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. qrz.com/db/k3s

  • 10/14/2023 | 30th Anniversary

    Oct 14, 1400Z-2300Z, N5BVA, Bentonville, AR. Bella Vista Radio Club. 7.190 14.260 7.040 14.040. QSL. Don Banta - K5DB, 3407 Diana St., Springdale, AR 72764. For QSL information, see N5BVA page on QRZ.com https://bellavistaradioclub.org

  • 10/14/2023 | Amis Mill Historic Site -Rogersville TN

    Oct 14, 1000Z-1400Z, N2A, Rogersville, TN. Hawkins Hancock Amateur Radio Team. 7.80 7.90 14.30 14.40 . Certificate. David Broome, 360 Rogers Road, Rogersville, TN 37857. mebtfs@yahoo.com

  • 10/14/2023 | Collins Radio 90th Anniversary

    Oct 14, 1400Z-2000Z, W0CXX, Cedar Rapids, IA. Collins Amateur Radio Club. 7.180 MHz 14.263 MHz 21.380 MHz 28.380 MHz. QSL. Brice Anton-Jensen, 1110 Lyndhurst Dr, Hiawatha, IA 52233. https://www.qrz.com/db/W0CXX

  • 10/14/2023 | Commemorating the First "Ham Radio Day" at the Sarasota County Library

    Oct 14, 1400Z-2000Z, N4V, Nokomis, FL. Tamiami Amateur Radio Club. 14.040 14.230 21.040 21.210. QSL. Tamiami Amateur Radio Club, PO Box 976, Nokomis, FL 34274. www.tamiamiarc.org

  • 10/14/2023 | Commemorating US Navy birthday on 13 OCT 1775

    Oct 14, 1600Z-2300Z, 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. www.qrz/db/ni6iw

  • 10/14/2023 | Eisenhower Birthday Special Event

    Oct 14-Oct 22, 0000Z-2359Z, W5*/K5*/N5*, All over USA. Grayson County ARC. 14.250. QSL. Grayson County ARC, PO Box 642, Sherman, TX 75091. *We'll be using the following call signs... W5E, W5I, W5S, K5E, W5N, W5H, W5O, W5W, N5E, W5R Questions? email lee.n5sly@gmail.com graysoncountyarc.org

    • 10/14/2023 | Lester Dent - Doc Savage Special Event

      Oct 14-Oct 15, 1500Z-0000Z, W0D, Macon, MO. Macon County ARC. 28.400 14.280 7.250 3.950. Certificate & QSL. Dale Bagley, K0KY, P.O. BOX 13, Macon, MO 63552. The purpose of the Special Event is to honor of the accomplishments of Lester Dent, one of the most prolific writers of Pulp Fiction, and an Amateur Radio Operator, WØCBL. It is also the 90th "Birthday" of his creation, the first modern "Superhero" Doc Savage. For more information about Lester Dent, use the link CW QSO ABOVE EXTRA CLASS SEGMENT. https://www.maconcountymissouriarc.org/lester-dent-special-events

    • 72 de Larry W2LJ

Wednesday, October 11, 2023


This is getting to be like the movie "Groundhog Day" where we just repeat the same thing over and over and over.

The forecast for the weekend:

I was hoping to finally get the opportunity to play around with the Buddistick on top of the Jeep and do some analysis using the NanoVNA.  That's the setup I want to use for some POTA activations. Aside from a VE Session Saturday morning and the weekly grocery shopping the weekend looked to be relatively free of "engagements" (codeword for chores). But unless the forecast changes drastically, I guess not again this weekend.

I think I'll use the time instead to come up with a new iteration of a drive on mast holder for the Jackite. The last one was too bulky and took a lot of space in the back of my vehicle. Maybe a trip to Home Depot will inspire me to construct something a bit more compact and easier to deploy.

A bit tired this AM. I'm retaking a CERT course on opening, operating and closing emergency shelters. Class was last night and tomorrow night at the County Fire Academy. It's a long day when you get to work for 7:00 AM and don't get home until 10:30 PM. It's worth it, however. I'm remembering a lot of stuff that I learned a couple years ago that I had forgotten.  As a CERT member in NJ, someday I may be needed to assist at one of the County's Regional Shelters if the need ever arises. Not that I'll be running the operation, but if you understand how things work going in, then you can do whatever job your handed more efficiently and confidently.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

This never happened before

Went down to the shack yesterday morning before work, to make sure that I had shut everything off. I'm paranoid that way, I like to make sure that all electrical stuff is "off" before I leave the house for work. When I got down there, I saw the KX3 had drooped forward off its stand. I've never had that happen before in the 10+ years that I've owned it. The only thing I can attribute that to is that the extra (but minor) weight of the SideKX cover was enough to change the center of gravity just enough to make it fall forward off the tilt stand, which is made from a very smooth plastic and is probably slippery.

I rectified the situation by placing a thin piece of dense foam under the front edge of the stand. It's long enough that the stand doesn't wobble from side to side when I use the radio, and it pushes the stand back ever so slightly so that the rig no longer falls forward. As a secondary precaution, I secured the folding legs of the KX3 to the stand with pieces of electrical tape.

I'm not about to stop using the cover as it keeps the radio clean in a, shall we say, "less than sterile" environment.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, October 09, 2023

The weekend

Managed to work five POTA stations early Sunday afternoon. The POTA spotting page makes it so much easier. Band conditions were decent and I was able to Hunt on 40 and 20 Meters.

There were several activations spotted on 10 Meters, but the band was long and all I was able to hear were a few Italian stations - but NOT the one spotted doing a park activation. Of course!

In the evening I was able to get on 75 Meter SSB to check into the St. Max Net. Now that it's getting dark early,  the band was in good shape and I was able to hear just about everyone on the net. For a brief while this past Summer, I was contemplating selling my KXPA100 as I really never use it. I'm glad Bob W3BBO talked me out of it.  I really wouldn't be able to enjoyably participate in a 75 Meter SSB net with just 10 Watts of output power. I may be a QRP fanatic, but at the same time, I'm not crazy!

Last week, while we were up near the St. Lawrence River,  we took a quick drive over to Krings Point State Park. Didn't activate it,  but saw a lot of trailers and RV's parked with people camping out. The drive to Krings took us past Goose Bay, where Marianne and her family stayed when she was a teen. We actually found the spot where the cabin that they lodged in used to be.

Marianne wants to go back again next year for our anniversary and I told her I'd like to activate one or both Keewaydin and Krings Point and she was fine with that. Once again, I explained how Amateur Radio is a lot like fishing. Calling CQ is like casting a line and in both instances, you hope you're lucky enough to get a bite. So God willing and the creek don't rise ........

And while we're on the subject of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which we share with out neighbors in Canada:

Wishing you a wonderful Holiday!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, October 06, 2023

We're back and goings on for the weekend.

Marianne and I are back from our trip up to Alexandria Bay. The weather was beautiful and it was quite warm, actually. We packed jackets and sweatshirts thinking it would be chilly, and they went unworn. That will change both there and here this weekend. The 1,000 Islands Region is supposed to receive rain starting today and lasting into next week. For South Plainfield the rain is supposed to start today and clear out by Sunday morning. In it's wake, however, will be daily high temps in the 60s (17-18C) with nightly lows in the 40s (8-9C). Summer weather will be pretty much over with except perhaps for a day or two of Indian Summer. I got the lawn mowed yesterday after we got home, so at least that's one weekend chore I won't have to worry about.

Radio-wise, the weekend looks busy here are just some of the events scheduled (QRP specific or with a QRP Category)

QRP-ARCI's Fall QSO Party is this coming Sunday - https://www.qrparci.org/contest/fall-qso-party

K4FB just announced Fall QSO Party is NEXT weekend!

TRC DX Contesthttps://trcdx.org/rules-trc-dx/

Russian WW Digital Contesthttp://www.rdrclub.ru/rdrc-news/russian-ww-digital-contest/51-rus-ww-digi-rules

SKCC QSO Partyhttps://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/QSO_Party/

California QSO Partyhttps://www.cqp.org/Rules.html

For other contests not having a QRP Category, please check WA7BNM's Contest Calendar -  https://www.contestcalendar.com/

For Special Event Stations this weekend, there are (Courtesy of the ARRL):

  • 10/07/2023 | 2nd Annual Scratching Post QSL Party in the Lucedale City Park

    • Oct 7, 1100Z-2300Z, K5K, Lucedale, MS. George County Mississippi Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) Group. 7.265 14.070 14.275 28.390; 20, 40, 10 meters digital and voice. QSL. KD4VVZ, 258 Geiger Rd., Lucedale, MS 39452. SASE please www.gcmsares.org

    10/07/2023 | Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Elmwood Park Zoo

    • Oct 7, 1400Z-2100Z, K3E, Norristown, PA. Area amateurs. 7.180 14.225 21.275 14.074 FT8. QSL. Chris Brady, N3CB, 5 Yale Road, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462. www.qrz.com/db/n3cb

    10/07/2023 | Get Your Park ON! Celebrating Earth Science Week

    • Oct 7-Oct 15, 0000Z-2359Z, many 1x1s, worldwide. U.S. Affiliate (KFF) of Worldwide Flora and Fauna. All bands, all modes. Certificate & QSL. QSL to QRZ address, of station, worked. Look for these calls: N1G, N2G, K3G, K4G, N4G, W4G, K5G, N5G, N6G, K7G, K8P, N8G, K9G, K0G, W0G, N9G wwff.us


    • Oct 7, 1400Z-1800Z, W1NY, Agawam, MA. Hampden County Radio Association. 7.2 MHz 14.250 MHz. QSL. Larry Krainson W1AST, P.O. Box 562, Agawam, MA 01001. Anniversary Activation at the Pavilion (Cory Street Entrance) of School Street Park, Agawam, Massachusetts to celebrate HCRA club’s founding on Oct. 4th, 1948. Pavilion is handicap accessible, has water and indoor restrooms. Picnic at 1600Z (Noon-local time) – please bring a favorite dish. All Hams and friends welcome. Operating SSB and CW on 40M, 20M, 15M, and 10M - watch for our spots on DXSummit.fi. Special Event QSL. President (HCRA): Larry Krainson W1AST Hampden County Radio Association, P.O. Box 562, Agawam, MA 01001. https:// hcra.org hcra.org

    10/07/2023 | Little David Special Event Station

    • Oct 7, 1300Z-1700Z, W4D, Charleston, SC. Trident Amateur Radio Club. 14.262. QSL. QSL Manager/W4D, P.O. Box 60732, North Charleston, SC 29419. w4d@tridenthams.org or https://www.tridenthams.org/w4d-ses

    10/07/2023 | Path Through History Weekend-Chenango County Historical Society & Museum

    • Oct 7, 1400Z-2000Z, W2RME, Norwich, NY. Chenango Valley Amateur Radio Association. 7.275 14.250 28.390. QSL. Chenango Valley Amateur Radio Association, P.O. Box 1324, Norwich , NY 13815-4324. https://cvara.net

    10/07/2023 | Rocklin Maker Faire

    • Oct 7, 1700Z-2100Z, N6M, Rocklin, CA. ARRL Sacramento Valley Section. 7.290 14.290. QSL. Carol Milazzo KP4MD, PO BOX 665, Citrus Heights, CA 95611. The ARRL Sacramento Valley Section will host a public outreach exhibit promoting Amateur Radio and our local clubs at the Rocklin Maker Faire at Sierra College in Rocklin, CA. Attendees may communicate on the air with amateur radio operators via an operational on-site Special Event Station N6M. https://www.arrlsacvalley.org

And as always, there will be plenty of POTA activations on the bands. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!