Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter Sunday 2024


He has risen! He has risen, indeed!

This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad!

A happy, joyous, and blessed Easter to all!

72 de Larry W2LJ 

QRP  - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, March 29, 2024

Good Friday 2024

Mausoleum stained glass - Holy Redeemer Cemetery - South Plainfield, NJ

Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up like a sapling before Him, like a shoot from the parched earth; He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to Him.

He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, Like one from whom you turn your face, spurned, and we held Him in no esteem.

Yet it was our pain that He bore, our sufferings He endured. We thought of Him as stricken, struck down by God and afflicted.

But He was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by His wounds we were healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way; But the LORD laid upon Him the guilt of us all.

Though harshly treated, He submitted and did not open His mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, He did not open His mouth.

Seized and condemned, He was taken away. Who would have thought any more of His destiny? For He was cut off from the land of the living, struck for the sins of His people.

He was given a grave among the wicked, a burial place with evildoers, Though He had done no wrong,nor was deceit found in His mouth.

But it was the LORD’s will to crush Him with pain. By making His life as a reparation offering, He shall see His offspring, shall lengthen His days, and the LORD’s will shall be accomplished through Him.

Because of His anguish He shall see the light; because of His knowledge He shall be content; My Servant, the just one, shall justify the many, their iniquity He shall bear.

Therefore I will give Him His portion among the many, and He shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because He surrendered himself to death, was counted among the transgressors, Bore the sins of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

From the Book of the prophet Isaiah - Chapter 53

A blessed Good Friday to you all!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

"Marc" your calendars

From the ARRL:

International Marconi Day 2024


This year, International Marconi Day (IMD) is on April 27. Italian inventor and electrical engineer Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi was born on April 25, 1874, and is credited for inventing the radiotelegraph system, creating Marconi's law, and sending the first wireless transmission over the open sea.

IMD was created to honor Marconi and is hosted annually by the Cornish Radio Amateur Club, GX4CRC. The purpose of the day is for amateur radio enthusiasts around the world to contact historic Marconi sites using communication techniques similar to those that he would have used.  

The 24-hour event will operate from 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC, and registration is required. Participants can register at GX4CRC's registration web page.  

Stations in the United States, including Marconi Cape Cod Radio Club, KM1CC, in Massachusetts, are already registering for the event. KM1CC hosts several on-air events each year to keep the accomplishments and story of Marconi and his wireless station site in South Wellfleet alive. In 1975, the Wellfleet station was listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and is now part of Cape Cod National Seashore, a unit of the National Park Service. When possible, KM1CC sets up a temporary radio station inside the park. More information about KM1CC is available on their Facebook page.


April 27th is a Saturday! And if memory serves me correctly, there's a Marconi Memorial at the intersection of Easton Avenue and JFK Boulevard in Somerset, NJ. The New Brunswick Marconi Station was located at that site

That's maybe about a 15 -20 minute drive from my house. I operated from there one time many years ago with the Raritan Bay Radio Amateurs when I was a member of that club before getting married and moving to South Plainfield. It's not a POTA site (but probably should be) but still might be fun to operate from on that day.  I'll have to drive by sometime this weekend and check it out.  SPARC event, maybe?

Since this weekend is Easter weekend, I'm going to post the weekend's goings on a day early. I doubt I'll be on the air - I'll be too busy coloring eggs, of course!


QRP Sasquatch Stomp:

CQ WW WPX Contest, SSB -

However, Monday evening we have:

ARS Spartan Sprint -

Special events:

03/30/2024 | Total Solar Eclipse in Hunt county Texas

Mar 30-Apr 10, 0000Z-2359Z, W5E, Greenville, TX. Sabine Valley Amateur Radio Association. 7.235 14.280 21.400 28.450. QSL. K5GVL Sabine Valley Amateur Radio Association, PO Box 843, Greenville, TX 75403-0843. The Sabine Valley Amateur Radio Association will be celebrating a once in a lifetime solar event. On April 8th 2024 our favorite star the sun will be totally eclipsed for over 4 minutes! This will allow direct observation of the suns corona in real time. The SVARA will be operating W5E "Whiskey 5 Eclipse" from March 30th until April 10th to celebrate this unique and magical event!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

You know what happens when you make assumptions .....

There are things you take for granted in life - and other things that you shouldn't. One of the things that I've taken for granted, and I guess I shouldn't have, is for the definition of what power level is QRP - amongst QRPers. I can understand varying answers from the QRO crowd. In e-mails and articles from the general Amateur Radio community, I've seen the high power aficionados bandy about all kinds of power levels that define what QRP is - all the way from 500 Watts (I know, kind of ridiculous) to 5 Watts and anywhere in between. But you would think that those of us who dabble at the low end of that range would agree on what the definition of QRP is.

We don't. That kind of surprises me.

There was a discussion on the QRP-L reflector that started up yesterday, entitled "What is QRP?" I mistakenly thought the answer was pretty clear and that the e-mail thread would sputter out quickly. I was wrong. If you partake of any of the QRP groups on Facebook, you see this ALL the time there, as well. Again, one would think QRPers would have our act together and be in agreement. Not so, Grasshopper, not so.

Many (or even most) define QRP as I do - 5 Watts for CW and the digital modes, 10 Watts PEP for phone, and of course, any power level below those. But there were other responses as well. Some argued for 5 Watts regardless of mode. Some wanted the definition changed to 10 Watts regardless of mode. Some of the hardest die-hards would like to see QRP defined as 1 Watt or below, I would imagine.

Reflecting on this debate, I realized I shouldn't have been surprised at all. The definition of QRP has never been written in stone and is actually somewhat fluid. Back when I joined QRP-ARCI in 1980, the definition for QRP was 100 Watts or below.

QRP became to be considered to be 5 Watts and below in the USA in later part of the 1980's, after ties between EU and US QRPers became closer, in an effort to come up with some sort of universal definition. But as I stated before, the definition is NOT standard. You can see this most clearly in the world of contesting and operating events. Just look at the definition of what is considered to be QRP by the organizers. In the case of Field Day (which we ALL know is an operating event and not a contest - wink, wink, nudge, nudge!) the ARRL deems QRP to be 5 Watts and below, regardless of mode. But if you look at other events, like the QRP-ARCI sponsored Sprints and even the Skeeter Hunt, QRP goes back to the split 5/10 Watt definition as mentioned before.

Will there ever be a hard and fast definition of what constitutes QRP and what doesn't? I doubt it and I guess there never will be - unless, say maybe someone like the ITU sets forth a definition. As long as there is no international governing party performing that function, the definition of what QRP is and what it isn't will remain subjective.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Stowing the AX1

The Elecraft AX1 comes in a cardboard shipping box, as you'd expect. Not exactly what you might have in mind for including in your backpack, tote or whatever you use to carry your portable ops equipment.

To my knowledge, Elecraft doesn't offer an AX1 pouch, so I had originally put mine into a soft pouch that was designed to store an external CD ROM for a laptop computer - if you look up above in the header photo, you can see a portion of it in the lower left hand corner.. Call me what you will, but I rescued it from a dumpster destiny. HiHi!  It worked, but everything was loose inside and I didn't like the thought of the AX1 jostling around inside it. I was concerned that maybe the telescoping whip might end up in a position where it might get bent. I wanted something that provided a bit more protection.

So I went to eBay and did a search on "zippered tool pouches", and found these. They were offered in three sizes and I chose "medium" which is 10 inches long by 6 inches wide by 2 inches deep. (25 X 15 X 2 cm).

I also purchased two kid's kite winders to store the counterpoise wires on. I knew that just having them wrapped up in coils in plastic bags would probably not end up well in the long run. I probably could have gotten away with the smaller case, but I do have enough extra room in there if I want to store a few pens or pencils for logging.

I'm a fossil. I log on paper and then enter the data into AC Log on my laptop or HamLog on my phone if I'm away from the laptop. I am proficient enough with a keyboard to be able to do it, but I find that computer logging while being on the air at the same time is too much of a distraction.  If I get involved in a Sprint like FOBB or the Zombie Shuffle or the Skeeter Hunt, I will miss out on making QSOs if I pause to enter each contact into my computer in real time.  Like I said before, I'm proficient with a keyboard, but I'm not a speed demon. And if I'm in a situation where the QSOs are coming in bang, bang, bang - one right after another, I'd get all bollixed up.

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

Monday, March 25, 2024

I love stuff like this!

 Definitely from the "Don't believe everything you see on the internet" file.

In all my 67 years of living in New Jersey and in the some 45 years of paying attention to this stuff as an Amateur Radio operator, I have never seen aurora in New Jersey, ever!

I think it would take an almost Carrington type event for aurora to be seen this far south of the Arctic Circle. And if aurora was actually able to be seen over my state, then invariably it would be cloudy or overcast and that would "86" the opportunity.

This latest geomagnetic storm was intense, but it didn't shut down HF communications - not by a long shot. I was able to make contacts on 20 and 30 Meters yesterday afternoon, and the St. Max Net on 75 Meters last night went exceptionally well. I was able to hear everyone who participated and that's not often the case. Yeah, the band was a little noisier than it has been, but that's probably due more to the fact that we're approaching Spring atmospheric conditions. 

In addition, I'm not sure where places like get their information. The aurora maps that I saw that were published by NOAA yesterday didn't even show NY State as a possibility. And as far as I'm concerned, I think the best chance of me EVER being able to see aurora would be if a very severe geomagnetic storm occurred while we are up at Lake George some summer from now.

Aurora visible from Alabama? Maybe I'm dead wrong, but I would think that if that were the case, then the skies over New Jersey would be a spectacular light show!

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

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Yikes !!!


A Coronal Mass Ejection (or other solar phenomena) has rendered the bands positively yucky today. But for the limited amount of time that I spent behind the key today, I still managed to snare six POTA stations for the log.

WD8RIF at US-1994

K2EAG at US-1619

KU8T at US-1637

WI2X at US-1611

AE4WX at US-6962

W0ABE at US-10533

All contact were made on 30 and 20 Meters. I heard EA4HCF calling CQ on 17 Meters and I tried answering, but no joy at 5 Watts. For the heck of it, I tried bumping up the KXPA100 to 85 Watts, just to see if I could make contact. Nope - that tells you that the bands truly did bite. I usually rarely have a problem reaching Spain with 5 Watts, let alone 85 Watts.

Last week the POTA powers-that-be changed all the designators from "KA" to "US". Earlier in the month, they changed Canada from "VE" to "CA" and all of Great Britain from "G" to "GB". Not exactly sure what was the reasoning, but I'm sure they had a good one.

It will be interesting to see if I hear anyone on the St. Max Net tonight on 75 Meters.

I was going to go out today and play around with the Buddistick on top of the Jeep, using that magmount  on which I replaced the coax cable. It's in the upper 40s and normally, that wouldn't be too terrible. We're getting a steady breeze and wind gusts that are making it downright uncomfortable to be outside. This is the day after that Nor'Easter blew through here yesterday, dropping 2.72 inches of rain on my QTH. I'm hoping that maybe next weekend will be warm enough for me to run some quick tests without allowing my hands to go numb.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, March 23, 2024

A change in how you will log into CORES (PSA)

Every Ham in the US should be registered on CORES, the FCC's COmission REgistration System. This is doorway to access your account with the FCC in the Universal Licensing System. According to the ARRL, starting next Friday, March 29th, the FCC will begin utilizing Two Factor Authorization.

Here are the details from the ARRL:

ARLB007 FCC to Require Two Factor Authentication for CORES Users

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 7  ARLB007
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 22, 2024
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB007 FCC to Require Two Factor Authentication for CORES Users

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced an upcoming change to the Commission Registration System (CORES) that licensees use to pay any application or regulatory fees, manage or reset a password on an existing FRN, or request a new FRN. Beginning March 29, 2024, multifactor authentication will be implemented. Users will be prompted to request a six-digit secondary verification code, which will be sent to the email address(es) associated with each username. The user will then need to enter the code into CORES before they can continue.

In a public notice, the FCC said this change will make the system more secure. "This additional layer of security will further safeguard against unauthorized access, thereby enhancing the overall integrity of information contained within the CORES system and improving the security of user data," it read.

The Public Notice can be found in PDF format at, .

The FCC recommends that users confirm they have access to their username account email and to add a secondary email address, if need be.

Resources are available for those who need assistance with the system. For inquiries or assistance regarding the implementation of multifactor authentication on CORES, submit a help request at, or call the FCC at 877-480-3201 (Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 6 PM ET).


If you haven't re-registered with CORES within the last year or so, you might have to - again. You should also make sure (via CORES) that your FRN is associated with your CORES account.

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

Friday, March 22, 2024

It's Friyay! (No, that's NOT a typo!)

Here's what's up for the weekend:

Contest (only one):

FOC QSO Party -

Special Event Stations:


Mar 17-Mar 23, 0100Z-2359Z, W1G, Wheelwright, MA. Geratol WAS Net. 3.668 SSB 40 Meter SSB. QSL. Kevin Lynch, POB 124, Wheelwright, MA 01094. The GERATOL (Greetings Extra Radio Amateurs Tired of Operating Lately) WAS Net, will operate special event call sign W1G to commemorate 50 years as a Worked All States Net N1KL@ARRL.NET

03/23/2024 | 1st LORAN A Station Designated (1941)

Mar 23, 1300Z-2100Z, K3S, Baltimore, MD. Nuclear Ship Savannah ARC. 7.1 14.1 21.1 28.1. QSL. K3LU, 980 PATUXENT ROAD, Odenton, MD 21113. Single transmitter SSB and CW aboard N/S Savannah. Please check spotting networks for frequencies. Info on QSL via K3LU

03/23/2024 | Baker to Vegas Relay Race for Law Enforcement

Mar 23-Mar 24, 1600Z-0000Z, N6A, Amargosa Valley, NV. Ham Radio Outlet Anaheim. 7.225 14.225. QSL. Glenn Arrant, 14723 Puma Trail, Valley Center, CA 92082.

03/23/2024 | Celebrating 50 Years as a Club

Mar 23-Mar 24, 1700Z-0100Z, VC3GB, OwenSound, On. Georgian Bay Amateur Radio Club. 14.263. QSL. Georgian Bay Amateur Radio Club, 142 Paradise Bay, Annan, ON N0H1B0, CANADA.

Unfortunately, for this part of New Jersey, Saturday is looking like a real soaker. From Midnight to Midnight, we're being told to expect a Nor'Easter that will bring 2 - 3 inches (5 -7.5 cm) of rain. The ground is really saturated from a rainy winter. High winds are expected too, so hopefully no trees will be coming down. After a chilly today, with the warm front coming through that's bringing the rain, we should be in the 50sF (12C) most of next week. So you know what that means ... warmer weather + moist ground = lawn mowing season. That should start soon - maybe as soon as Easter weekend. If not, definitely the week after.

Again, for last night's 80 Meter Fox Hunt, I was in dreamland before it started. I had a CERT class at the fire academy the night before and got home real late and only had 5 hours of sleep Wednesday night / Thursday morning. I would have fallen asleep behind the key. That would have been some nasty QRM!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Good to hear someone else say this stuff!

I saw a link to this YouTube video posted on Facebook. There'a a lot of good content in this video, and while most of it is geared towards QRP Newbies - us old grizzled veterans can use a review every now and then, too. Some of it I have been preaching for years here on "W2LJ QRP - When you care to send the very least!"  I'm glad someone else is, too!

Point # 11 -   I've repeatedly asserted that you'd do well to consider yourself just another fish in the Amateur Radio pond. Maybe a smaller one, but just another fish. Don't get it into your head that just because you're running QRP that you automatically have a weak signal. As propagation is the key factor here, your signal will be loud somewhere! Need proof of that? Call "CQ" for a while and then look yourself up on the Reverse Beacon Network. Some skimmers will barely hear you, but you'll also be booming into others! 

Also, I make it a rule of thumb to NEVER identify myself as QRP, or for that matter to tell people in a QSO that I'm running 5 Watts (except where required in QRP Sprints). Sometimes people can be like my Beagle, Harold, when it comes to "selective hearing". He can sleep through fireworks or a thunderstorm, but if he hears a cheese wrapper being opened, he's on me like white on rice. Likewise, I can tell you there have been many times that I have been in a QSO where everything was humming along fine until I mentioned I was using an Elecraft K2 or K1 or my KX3. All of a sudden "QSB" sets in and I get a hasty "73". Now all I say is that I'm using an Elecraft rig and they can assume it a K3 100 or a K4 for all I care. If pressed, I'll say a KX3 and KXPA100 combo, but I still won't mention only 5 Watts.

Point # 6 - I've worked the world with 5 Watts and have the QSL cards to prove it. And believe me, I am nothing special in the Amateur Radio world. There are sooooooo many Hams more talented and capable with way better stations and antennas than what I have. However, if I can earn DXCC with QRP, you can too. It's all about attitude, patience and persistence.

Point #3 - Sometimes QRP can be frustrating, and that's a fact. Saying it isn't so is just untrue - but the same can be said for QRO. But as Kenny Rogers sang as "The Gambler" ......"You've got to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em!"  Don't get frustrated if someone you want to work doesn't hear you. Maybe you need to try working that DXpedition at another time of day; or on another band. I remember that there was a DXpedition I badly wanted to work back before I had my KXPA100 and 5 Watts was all that I had. I ended up getting up at about 5:00 AM to get them in the log via gray line. Otherwise, if you feel yourself getting frustrated, you have to pull the Big Switch and do something else for a while.

Point #1 - Yeah - Some people just have to boost their egos by making other people feel small, while inadvertently admitting they don't know all that much about Ham Radio at all.  In my younger and more foolish days, I probably would have responded with a mighty dose of snark. Hopefully, I'm a bit wiser now, so I'll take the high road and won't respond. if taunted  And before anyone asserts that "QRP - When you care to send the very least!" is some form of virtue signaling - it's really just a twist on that old Hallmark greeting card commercial tagline from years ago, "Hallmark ... when you care to send the very best!" I know, not very original of me; but I like it.

Last evening's 40 Meter Fox Hunt? I was sawing wood before it even began.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Theme for Field Day 2024

 From the ARRL website:

2024 ARRL Field Day Theme: Be Radio Active


The theme for 2024 ARRL Field Day is "Be Radio Active." The event will run on June 22 - 23, and it will be one-part contest, one-part emergency communications exercise, and one-part open house -- and a great time. The theme encourages radio amateurs to take advantage of the peak of Solar Cycle 25, which we are nearing. Activity this year is likely to be extremely high thanks to favorable solar conditions. The upper HF bands, such as 15 and 10 meters, should benefit most from the Cycle's peak.

There are resources available already for clubs and individuals to make their Field Day plans. ARRL will publish more information and tools so that hams can make the most of the event as it draws near. Amateurs interested in learning more are invited to join the Field Day Facebook group to connect with others who are planning for the big weekend.  

Find links to all of the resources on the ARRL Field Day web page at

And here's the official logo that will appear on the 2024 T-shirt and other Field day swag:

In my most humble opinion, nothing will EVER outdo the 2009 Field Day logo:

This just oozes the essence Field Day when you look at it! The Great Outdoors, the sun coming up on Sunday morning after being up all night and a cup of much needed coffee in hand! And having your best friend sitting by your side ain't bad, either!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Monday morning - ugh!

The week is not starting off on the greatest note. I got into work, flipped the light switch on here in the storage room that they call my "office" aaaannnnnddd . nothing! All the wall outlets work, just not the overhead lights. I have the door propped open, so there's enough light from the hallway spilling in to work by, but the situation is not ideal. The building engineers are working on it.

The situation was much better last night at home in the shack. I joined in on the Flying Pigs monthly  "Run For The Bacon" for the first time in years.  I started out on 20 Meters, where I heard K4KBL loud and clear, calling CQ. After I worked him, I moved down a few kHz and started calling "CQ FP" myself. It ended up being a big waste of time.

40 Meters was much better as I was able to find some Piggies amongst the myriad of VA QSO Party stations. I worked a few, called "CQ FP" again and worked a few more. Then, as the second hour was about to begin, I left to go participate in St. Max Net on 75 Meter SSB. When that was over, I went back to 40 Meters only to hear the band crowded with SST stations. So I jumped on down to 80 Meters and worked Tom KA2KGP and after working him, I called it a night as I didn't hear anyone else on 80 Meters.

So I finished the night with 9 QSOs - 5 fellow Flying Pigs and 4 other QRP stations. Obviously not the greatest outcome on my part, but it was good to reconnect with some old friends, like Brian KB9BVN, Will NQ2W and the aforementioned Tom KA2KGP. I am going to make it a point to participate each month going forward.

The weather yesterday turned out to be quite different from what had been prognosticated going into the weekend. It turned out to be a sunny day with a high of 60F (15C) in the afternoon. I had even contemplated making a run into the neighboring town of Edison to put the Thomas Edison Memorial Park K-1615 on the air. But as I sat in the living room mulling it over, I was hearing the wind HOWL. My weather station was reporting sustained winds at about 6 MPH with gusts to 18 MPH.

I am not as hardy an activator as most. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and stayed put. I know I'll probably regret it later, but I'm hoping there will be ample enough opportunities when the weather becomes warmer. The wind chill yesterday would have been bothersome, and when you're still not up to feeling 100% - I'll pass for now. I'm satisfied with the little activation that I did on Saturday.

Hey! The lights just came back on. One of the building engineers came by to tell me there's a dead relay in the electrical room and they bypassed it until a replacement comes in. Maybe it won't be such a bad day after all.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Mission Accomplished

So, I did get the grocery purchasing done early enough yesterday. It looked like a POTA  activation would be a possibility. In fact, I was done and back home by 9:30 AM. It took another half hour or so to tote everything inside from the car and put everything in its proper place. However, at 10:00 AM, it was still only in the upper 40s (about 8C) so I decided to wait around for a bit. In the meantime, the phone rang a couple times, including a long conversation with my sister.

Around 11:30 AM, it had gotten into the mid 50s (13C), so I decided that all was a "go" and I grabbed my CQ Magazine daypack that I got at Dayton many years ago. Inside were the KX3, the AX-1 antenna, my little blue brick lithium battery, a clock, some earbuds and my Bulldog Clip paddle. The next big decision - winter jacket, or spring jacket? I finally decided on the spring jacket as I layered up with shirt, hoodie sweatshirt and jacket, hoping I would be comfortable enough as there was a light, but persistant breeze which made it feel cooler than it actually was.

I got up to Washington Rock State Park, K-1635, at Noon. There were a lot of people there, but only one of the picnic tables was taken, the one actually closest to the monument. I took the one nearest the road as I had some suspicions about that other one, which I'll reveal later.

The station was set up in minutes. I programmed a CW memory for "CQ POTA" and got busy trying to find a clear frequency. That wasn't as easy as I had hoped as 20 Meters was busting with Virginia QSO Party participants. I did finally find a clear spot a bit above 14.060 MHx and got down to business. I spotted myself on the POTA app, and in a quick flurry I had 4 QSOs in my notepad. My plan was to get the requred minimum of 10 QSOs done, as it was kind of chilly for my taste, especially being exposed to stronger breezes coming in from the ocean at that height above the piedmont.

I had to QSY several times as my spot was overrun by VA QP stations. After a while, when my CQs were not yielding much fruit, I tried 17 Meters and 15 Meters. 17 Meters got me a QSO with Minnesota, but 15 Meters was not getting me any QSOs at all.  At that point I only needed two QSOs to reach my goal, so I decided to hop back down to 20 Meters and become a hunter. That turned out to be a good idea as I got three Park 2 Parks in and exceeded ny target with a bonus QSO. It was then that I became aware of how chilled I had gotten and after an hour of park time, I packed up for the day. Before doing that, I took a couple of obligitory snapshots.

Once back in the car. I decided to go to the Reverse Beacon Network to see where I was heard.

In actuality, I netted QSOs with stations in Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and Michigan. There were a couple more states that I can't think of now without consulting my copy of N3JFP's AC Log (or my chicken scratch notepad).

As I was working stations, it became apparent that the park was becoming more and more crowded, The other picnic tables became occupied by actual picnickers. The thing that amazed me was how many younger people in their 20s (probably) were attired in just t-shirts and shorts. It wasn't THAT warm, but I guess the youngsters don't feel the cold like we oldsters do!

That other occupied picnic table that i mentioned earlier? Last night, when I checked to see if my activation had been posted to the POTA stat page, it also included an activation for the same date by W2ITG. I've never met him, but by the posture of the person sitting there, I could tell he wasn't eating lunch. i suspect that was W2ITG, but he activates using SSB, so there wasn't a problem.

Last thing - next time I go back to K-1635, it will be with the PAR ENDFEDZ. As much as I like the AX-1 and enjoy its portability, it's not a wire antenna, which I still think would be better choice when it's possible to use one. Yesterday was a "experiment" to see if the AX-1 is a viable choice. It is, especially when wires in trees are not pernissable or practical. In my mind, however, some wire up as high as you can get it is always the better choice.

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

Friday, March 15, 2024

St. Patrick's Weekend

 What's in store - hopefully plenty of these:

Oh, yeah ........Amateur Radio-wise:


Russian DX Contest -

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest -

Virginia QSO Party -

Africa All Mode International DX Contest -


03/15/2024 | K4KDJ (Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association) 100 Year Anniversary

Mar 15-Mar 16, 2100Z-2100Z, K4KDJ, Blacksburg, VA. K4KDJ Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association. 14.256 7.220 14.340 7.150. QSL. Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association, 290 College Ave, Blacksburg, VA 24060.

03/16/2024 | 16th Anniversary Solivita Car Show

Mar 16, 1400Z-2000Z, N4SRC, Kissimmee, FL. Solivita Radio Club. 14.255 28.435. QSL. Solivita Radio Club, 307 Bell Tower Crossing West, Kissimmee, FL 34759. This is a non-commercial event held by our community for car enthusiasts and open to the public free of charge.

03/16/2024 | Cherry Blossom Special Event Station

Mar 16, 1400Z-2000Z, W4BKM, Macon, GA. Macon Amateur Radio Club. 14.240 7.225. Certificate. Macon Amateur Radio Club, P.O. Box 4862, Macon, GA 31208-4862.


Mar 17-Mar 23, 0100Z-2359Z, W1G, Wheelwright, MA. Geratol WAS Net. 3.668 SSB 40 Meter SSB. QSL. Kevin Lynch, POB 124, Wheelwright, MA 01094. The GERATOL (Greetings Extra Radio Amateurs Tired of Operating Lately) WAS Net, will operate special event call sign W1G to commemorate 50 years as a Worked All States Net N1KL@ARRL.NET

Today is cloudy with a chance of showers, but tomorrow is supposed to be dry, and partly cloudy with a high near or maybe even a few degrees above 60F (15C). If I can get get the grocery shopping done early enough, perhaps I can take a ride up to Washington Rock State Park and activate K-1635. There's plenty of picnic tables and maybe I can give the AX-1 a good workout, and get an activation in.

Last night's 80 Meter Fox Hunt was strange indeed! Propagation was non-existent, it seems. Signals were weak and noise was strong.. I latched onto the lower Fox's Hounds right away, but I had a tough time hearing him. I had to use all the KX3's bells and whistles to be able to hear well enough to find out that this was John AJ1DM in Rhode Island. When I finally was able to hear him decently, a net started up on frequency. I don't know whose net it was, but usually these go pretty fast. Not last night. NCS had traffic for the 9th Call Area and if he didn't send "QTC 9RN" about a dozen times, he didn't send it once! RI and NJ are close enough that I figured if I was hearing this QRM, then John might be as well. I guessed correctly and it turned out that he had, and had moved up a few kHz to get out into the clear. In fact, he was no longer working split as he was calling CQ without the "UP". I finally nabbed him at 01:38 UTC.

I never heard Dale WC7S in Wyoming, nor his Hounds. And here's the reason why. After I turned off the KX3 for the night, but before leaving the shack, I went to RBN and downloaded the maps for each of the Foxes. This is how bad things were last night - these maps even caused me to raise an eyebrow!

Dale never really made it to a Hound that lives east of the Mississippi, except for one - Jack N2RK in NY.  Jack seems to find a way to get in every Fox's log. I'd love to see his antenna farm! Dale only worked 14 Hounds in 90 minutes. As one of the best Foxes out there, that alone is an indicator of how bad band conditions were.

John didn't fare any better. On Tuesday as the 40 Meter Fox, he handed out some 60 pelts. Last night he handed out 13, all within the confines of the NorthEast and Mid-Atlantic states. Honestly, I can't remember the last time band conditions on 80 Meters were this terrible.

In closing, and in honor of St. Patrick's Day - my hopes and wishes for you (I'm kinda part Irish by marriage) :

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, March 14, 2024

New piece of gear

I know there are a lot of Baofeng haters out there, but ......... for the limited time I spend on VHF/UHF, I'd rather put the big bucks into HF gear or accessories.

I purchased this Baofeng K5 Plus after hearing glowing reports on the nightly Middlesex County Chat Group Net from two local Hams for whom I have deep respect, Marv K2VHW and Dave K2ULF.  $29.00 from Amazon - how could you go wrong? I was ordering a new cordless phone for the house (yes, we still maintain a landline) on Sunday and decided "Why not?" and added it to My Cart. I was surprised as all get out when both the phone and the HT arrived the next afternoon, and I did not pay for expedited shipping!

The main reason I purchased it is because it is a tri-band radio including the 1.25 Meter band - 220 MHz. I do own a dedicated 220 HT, but it's so much more convenient to have all three bands in one radio - no juggling required.  Last night I successfully programmed in the NJ2EM repeater, which is owned and operated by the NJ State Police and is one of our main ways of communicating with them via Amateur Radio on behalf of Middlesex County AUXCOMM. The repeater is down the road a ways - pretty close to Trenton. Even so, I was able to raise the repeater and the S-Meter on the radio was almost full scale as it identified. That's not hard to believe as their antenna is near the top of the old UHF TV Channel 52 tower, which has to be one of the tallest in the state. It truly has statewide coverage, as during  monthly "test nets" I have heard every county in New Jersey check in without difficulty.

I did not purchase a programming cable and had a little trepidation about that. I was relieved to discover that manually entering repeater information is quite intuitive and not complicated at all, and once you've programmed in a memory or two, it gets even easier. When you use CHIRP, it's so easy to fill up memories with repeaters you never frequent, or are perhaps almost dead for the amount of inactivity on them. Manually programming the radio may take a bit more time and effort, but it should eliminate needless frequencies

Another neat thing about the radio is that when you press the "0" key for about three seconds, the most local NOAA weather station will pop on. I used to program that into my hand helds, but it became a nuisance when you go into scan mode and the scanning stops whenever you come to that memory. Another thing that I really like about this HT is that charging can be accomplished via a USB-C port that is located on the battery. I can charge my phone AND my HT from the multi-device charger that we have in our kitchen. Of course, the radio comes with the standard drop-in charger for "conventional" charging as well. I'm sure there are other features that I will come to know and appreciate as I use it more and more. 

There is one thing about this radio that exacerbates my OCD. The "EXIT" button that you press to get out of the menus is actually screened on the key as "EIXT".  I noticed that pretty much right off the bat as my brain went into "What !?!?!: mode. 

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Propagation is a funny thing

When you think you have it even somewhat figured out ...... you don't.

I had two VHF ARES Nets to check into last night. One for the Southern District of NNJ at 7:30 PM and then the actual NNJ Section ARES Net at 8:00 PM. Before, between and after I decided to do some POTA hunting. I worked Dave AB9CA in New Mexico easy enough, but there was a station in Illinois on 40 Meters that I could not get as hard as I might try.

This is unusual, because I normally have a pipeline on 40 Meters to Illinois, Indiana and that part of the country. It was a bit frustrating to say the least. Most times, I can connect with a station from that part of the US after a call or two. Not last night, as I tried switching between the Butternut and the W3EDP, as well as adjusting my frequency so that I would not be zero beat with the activator. He finally went QRT just as about the Section Net was starting. This did not bode well for later in the evening as Don K9DRP in Illinois was one of the 40 Meter Foxes last night.

The other Fox was John AJ1DM in Rhode Island. John was an easy find and was loud enough, but there was constant QRM on him as QRO stations were all around him.  It took some really tight KX3 filtering to isolate John well enough to be able to easily hear who he was working. Finally at 0147 UTC, I got in his log.

As I suspected, Don K9DRP was another story. Not only did I have to utilize the KX3's Audio Peak Frequency feature in order to hear Don well enough, there was also a ton of QRM on him as well. This QRM (in both cases) wasn't intentional. It was just QRO stations who didn't hear the QRP stations underneath them.  That happens and we get used to it. Again, as with the POTA station earlier in the evening, I was trying everything I knew to get Don to hear me. I switched between vertical and wire, and I kept track of who he was working and tried to anticipate his next listening spot. I even tried adjusting my CW speed, thinking maybe a slower or faster speed might catch his ear. All to no avail.

I was about to throw in the towel, as I was tired after a long day at work and it was getting late, but I decided to stick with it to the bitter end. My perseverance was rewarded by hearing "W2LJ" come back to me at 0221 UTC - with only 9 minutes to go before QRT time! A quick exchange with no requests for repeats from me, and I was in the log. Whew!

One other thing this Fox hunting is teaching me, besides perseverance, is that I really do need hearing aids, or at least one hearing aid. My right ear is almost totally shot. The nice thing about the KX3 is that it has the built in sub-receiver and it also has dual listening mode. When you utilize it, the main VFO, in this case the Fox, will be in my left headphone and the the second VFO, the Hounds, will be heard in my right headphone. I cannot hear anything from the right headphone as things stand. I literally have to take the headphones off and flip them so I can figure out where the Fox is working the Hounds. What a pain!

Last week, I went for my annual physical and my Doctor looked in my ears, as I told him I was going to need hearing aids. He told me that there is some rumen (ear wax) build up in my left ear and that I should get that taken care of, but my right ear was totally clean. He was a bit surprised when I told him that the right ear was the ear I could not hear well with! I have looked into Over the Counter hearing aids, but they are mostly for folks with mild to moderate hearing loss. An OTC hearing aid would be good enough for my left ear, but my right ear falls under the severe hearing loss category. "Regular" hearing aids are expensive, but several friends who use hearing aids have recommended the ones available through Costco.

Maybe this summer - yeah, along with a lot of other things.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Sweet dreams are made of these.

Steve WG0AT from Facebook:

Doing one of my Favorite things is sitting on a rock at 12k' working my good friends aka SOTA chasers with Morse Code! Elecraft's KH1 is really an amazing game changer HF radio! 

W2LJ is thinking that "Right now I'd settle for a picnic table in a park!"

72 de W2LJ 

QRP  - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, March 11, 2024

New portable ops logger

 Saw this on Facebook this morning.

There's been some contention in POTA circles lately as park designators are changing.  For instance, parks in Canada have gone from VE-XXXX to CA-XXXX. If I'm not mistaken, the parks un the USA are going to be changing to US-XXXX from what I've read. (Again, I may be mistaken.) 

The logging program that's been the rage for POTA and SOTA and other portable ops fans has been HAMRS. It seems, from what I've read, that there's been some difficulty and confusion as the app doesn't recognize the change in park designators, which is a real pain when you want to upload your logs. However, HAMRS was developed and is being maintained by a person, not a company or an organization - so updates and fixes may or may not occur. It depends on the author's time and availability, and as any volunteer can tell you, time is a most precious and sometimes limited resource.

The YouTube video above introduces POLO, which is not available for download yet, but is in the Beta testing stage. The video provides a link where you can go to download and become part of the Beta testing team. According to the opening moments of the video, POLO will be available for iOS and Android.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Another opinion piece

which will get me mixed, or maybe mostly negative reviews. But that's OK, it's just me cogitating.

Yesterday we had our monthly VE session. We had five candidates and all were successful. Five new Technicians, one of which was a young man of about 10 -12 years of age. We also had one Tech come in and upgrade to General - but this post is not about that.

With the question pool for the Amateur Extra class license changing in July, I've gotten a lot of questions about it and a lot of people convinced they should upgrade to Extra by the end of June. Not only that, but I am seeing so many people upgrade so quickly. Some will come in successive three months in a row in order to go from Tech to Extra. 

By now you might be thinking "Where is this going?" or "How can this be a bad thing?" or maybe even "OK, pudding brain, what's got you going now?"

This rush to upgrade is a product of the VE System, IMHO.  It's never been easier to get a license or upgrade your license class than ever before. No more going to the FCC, and in many cases, having to set time aside and travel long distances to do so. A good thing, right? YES! But maybe too good of a thing?

Here's what I mean. Back when I took my Novice test in November of 1978, I had to wait until January 1979 to get my call sign from the FCC. Even though the Novice license became a renewable thing, I was of the old mindset of the need to upgrade to General within a year. I did that six months later in June of 1979. But here's the catch ....... I remained a General for the next four years! I did not upgrade to Advanced until some time in 1983. I spent those years operating, learning, making friends and in general, just enjoying the hobby. After I upgraded to Advanced, I remained in that license class for another eleven years until I eventually became an Extra in 1994 - some fifteen years after I was originally licensed. And my Extra Class exam was the only one taken under the VE System, which I am not knocking, obviously. My point it was the first time that I did not have to travel to Manhattan or Langhorne, PA to enter an FCC office.

Let's face it, going to the FCC was a royal pain in the butt. But in its own way it kind of forced many Hams to slow down, smell the roses and enjoy your license class privileges for what they were. I'm sure for not all of us, but for most of us, there was no self imposed deadline to upgrade as fast or quickly as was possible.

And in that time, if you were active, you learned a lot. Either through an Elmer, if you were lucky enough to have one, or through trial and error as I did. Looking back on it, when I was a Novice and even a new General, I didn't know jack. I knew the theory and I knew the basics, but I still had a lot to learn. And I did, by joining a club and watching other Hams and talking with other Hams and always listening, listening and more listening. And by building Heathkits - learning how to solder, identify and measure components, how to read a schematic and all that other fun stuff.

These days, it seems like so many candidates are more consumed with upgrading, and only learning answers to questions without even bothering to learn the reasoning and why and wherefore behind the question. As a result, I see this with a lot, certainly not all, but a lot of new Extras who, if asked, could not build a dipole if you gave them a supply of wire, feed line and insulators. And even worse, some who wouldn't even know where to go and look up the procedure for doing so. 

The purpose of this post is not to condemn upgrading your license class. Far from it, upgrading is a fantastic and noble thing, However, don't make it your end all and be all in Amateur Radio, just so you can flaunt your credentials that you're an Amateur Extra.  To put it another way, you can purchase and own the latest "smart" refrigerator that does everything for you, including walking the dog. But if there's nothing inside of it, what good is it? Take the time to stuff that fridge with food, so that you can enjoy fantastic and delicious meals for years to come.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, March 09, 2024

For you, or someone you know

who might be interested.

This was posted by Craig Buck on Facebook. Sounds great for the newbie or neophyte Ham:


 A free, weekly, 3-hour Amateur Radio Operating Class on Zoom will begin on Thursday April 4 and run through June 20 at 6:30 PM Eastern time.  The presenters will be various experienced folks in the various subjects.

 A detailed syllabus will be published before the classes begin.  Attend them all, or any that you like, but you must register for the classes.  To receive registration information, contact Rol Anders, K3RA, at 

Subjects will include:

All About Operating--A general Introduction

Amateur Radio Organizations—Local to International

Ham Radio Awards

DXing-History and Tips from the Experts

QSLing-How to get that needed card for DXCC or WAS

VHF/UHF Weak Signal Work and “Roving”

Image Operating—Slow Scan and Fast Scan TV

Remote Station control over internet

Learning CW in the no-code era

Digital Modes—From RTTY to FT8 and beyond

Contesting—How to get started, tips for the beginner and intermediate contester

Logging Software—What’s available, how to use

Propagation—A general intro to HF Propagation

Amateur Satellites—How to get started

Portable (backpacking) operation—Tips from an expert

Setting Up a Modern (or not so modern) HF Station

Lightning Protection and Grounding

Traffic Handling

Public Service, Emergency Communications      

Thanks,   Rol, K3RA


All they need is a class entitled "QRP - have fun with less power!"

And again, don't forget! Hi Hi! (THE original LOL!)

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, March 08, 2024

The weekend is upon us, once again

 Here are some of the goings on:

Contests - to either be aware of, or participate in:

RSGB Commonwealth (BERU) Contest -

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon -

AGCW QRP Contest -

Oklahoma QSO Party -

Stew Perry Topband Challenge -

Idaho QSO Party -

Wisconsin QSO Party -

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint -

Special Event Stations:

03/09/2024 | 120th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Current Maryland Flag

Mar 9-Mar 10, 1800Z-0300Z, N3APS, Orinda, CA. Expatriate Marylanders Radio Club. 28.440 21.440 14.320. QSL. M.G. Vurek, P.O. Box 617, Orinda, CA 94563.

03/09/2024 | Commemorating launching of USS Midway on 20MAR45

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

Don't forget !!!! This weekend in the USA (except for Arizona, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) is the changeover to Daylight Savings Time - we push the clocks one hour AHEAD - usually before turning in for the night on Saturday.

Because I really doubt you want to wake up at 2:00 AM on Sunday morning to take care of this annoying chore. Bad enough we lose an hour's sleep! I'm one of those who wish they'd pick one or the other and keep it all year.

In the 80 Meter Fox Hunt last, I was able to grab only one pelt. Drew K9CW in IL had a decent signal and was able to pull my signal out of his local S7 background noise level. I was not successful with Tim KR0U in CO. He was at ESP levels most of the night, and if I can't hear the Fox well enough to know that he's heard me, I see no reason to clog up the airwaves by endlessly sending my call sign and potentially diminishing another Hound's chances. His signal started coming up towards the hour mark, as I clearly heard Tim work Mark WB9HFK, but then he faded out again. I hung around another 15 minutes and then shut down. I guess I should have stayed until the bitter end as Steve WX2S (about 25 miles south of me) got in Tim's log just under the wire.

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

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Something ya'll may want to look out for tomorrow

To celebrate International Women's Day - Amateur Radio style!

From the ARRL website:

YLRL Celebrates International Women's Day with Special Event


The Young Ladies Radio League (YLRL) is hosting an International Women's Day YL Parks on the Air® (POTA) Party from 0000Z - 2359Z on March 8.

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year's theme is Inspire Inclusion.

To celebrate the day, the goal of this special event is to activate any POTA park during the 24-hour event window using any mode and frequency within your license class. Contacts can be submitted to the POTA database. YLRL encourages participants to wear pink, decorate their station, and to share experiences and photos on social media using the hashtag #YL_POTA_Party.

The YLRL was founded in 1939 by Ethel Smith, K4LMB (SK), who was the group's first president, and it continues to use her call sign today. She served as the Section Emergency Coordinator for the ARRL Virginia Section from 1966 - 1969, and later as ARRL Assistant Director for four different Roanoke Division Directors. In 1972, she received the ARRL Roanoke Division Service Award.

The YLRL will celebrate its 85th year in July 2024.

On another note - you never know when you're going to get lucky. My regular readers will probably raise their eyebrows or roll their eyes at this one - you know how often I complain about how chilly it is in the shack during winter. Ad nauseum, right? Yes, you're right - too much complaining!
Well, those days are over! 

I found this Duraflame electric space heater at my local ShopRite for $39.99. It will heat a room up to 400 square feet and my little shack section of the basement is a lot smaller than that. But here's the best part - I looked this model up on Amazon, and not only is it a best seller, but it also goes for a regular price of $79.99.  This bad boy was on sale for only this week, and they only had three or four left, so I made sure to nab one, as I'll take 1/2 price anytime! I may not need it much more this season as we're getting into warmer weather now and Spring (astronomical Spring, not meteorological Spring) is less than two weeks away. It begins on St. Joseph's Day, March 19th this year. So I'll have this for chilly Autumns and cold Winters to come. No more sitting in a 58F (14C) shack! Yay!

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

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Rejoining the Land of the Living

I can SLOWLY feel myself coming back to myself. January and February were tough months. With the arrival of March I have felt some energy and stamina returning. I can walk farther without getting winded, I can lift a bit more weight, I feel less exhausted at the end of the day.

That of course, led to participating in the 40 Meter Fox Hunt last night. I initially wasn't going to and then I thought I might join in from the dining room, using the KX3 and the AX1. But then I decided my chances would be better with the "regular" antennas, so I headed downstairs.

I heard Marty NR3Z in PA right off the bat. He was a decent 579, but it took me a while to figure out his listening pattern as he was on the move, listening to the fringes. I stuck with it and finally worked him at 02:42 UTC. I was surprised to see ib AC Log that this is the first time that I have worked Marty, ever.

Then it came time to go Hunt for Kevin W9CF in AZ. To be honest, I didn't expect much. I found some Hounds baying and went down in frequency 1 kHz. Sure enough, there was a signal there, but not much of a signal. I was about to throw in the towel, as I'm not going to clog up the aether by calling someone who I wouldn't be sure was calling me back. Just as I was going to throw the switch, Kevin's signal strength started to increase, slowly. That's when I decided I'd stick around for a bit. I turned the AF Gain all the way down and the RF Gain all the way up. Twiddling the knobs for loudest signal worked and I earned the second pelt for the evening at 03:07 UTC.  Persistence paid off and having enough energy to actually be persistent was the key. 

Now for some good news. An e-mail came down on the Flying Pigs e-mail reflector to allay fears and announce that the Club isn't disappearing any time soon. While Diz W8DIZ may now be an SK, the club he helped to establish will move forward. I think Diz would have been terribly disappointed, had the Flying Pigs had gone belly up.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

The latest thing

Amateur Radio is a hobby of niches. Not all facets of the hobby are popular with everyone. That being said, it seems to me, in my most humble opinion, that there are periods where a certain "thing" becomes all the rage.

A few years ago, it seemed like you couldn't swing a dead cat in the Amateur Radio community without coming across something about magnetic loop antennas. More recently the rage has been end fed half wave antennas. These trends of prominence didn't last too long. If you want to look at trends with long standing time (years) in the limelight, I would suggest FT-8 and POTA fit the bill.

I'm not a participant in the digital modes, so I can't realistically comment much about the popularity and proliferation of FT-8, but I can comment on the same about POTA - Parks On The Air - why is it the rage? Again, this is simply my opinion, please take it with the proverbial grain of salt.

1) The spectacular success of NPOTA, National Parks On The Air. When you look back on it, this operating event organized by the ARRL to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the National Parks System was a much more huge success than anyone anticipated. In fact, if and when they celebrate the second Centennial of the ARRL in the distant future, I am certain that NOPTA will remain one of the historical highlights of the organization. 

I remember when it was announced toward the end of 2015 and all I saw on the e-mail reflectors that I am a member of were ambitious plans for activations right off the bat on January 1st. NPOTA resonated with the Amateur Radio community quite unlike anything I have ever seen in my 45 years as a Ham. Everyone could participate - no matter what your favorite operating mode happened to be. It was easy to participate in and you had an entire year to partake as much or as little as you desired. If you couldn't activate a park or entity- no problem! There were a plethora of hunters willing to fill up your logbook.

The program was so successful (over 1,000,000 QSOs were made during the event) that it became quite apparent that come January 1st, 2017, when NPOTA had officially ended, that something was going to have to fill the vacuum.  A non-profit organization, Parks On The Air was formed in 2018 to give structure to carry on after NPOTA ended.

2) The proliferation of smaller radios has drastically improved the ease whereby Amateur Radio operations can be taken portable. All mode 100 Watt rigs are smaller, lighter and more energy efficient than ever before. Add to that fact that the latest development of lighter and longer lasting lithium batteries have made it even easier to power them and leave the indoor shack without having to break your back carrying gear around.

In the QRP world, you can find multi band, multi mode rigs that are as small or smaller than a pack of cigarettes (remember those?) With sunspot Cycle 25 coming to a peak some time in 2025 - effective worldwide communication is possible with just a few Watts. You can put an entire portable station - radio, battery, antenna, mic or key and accessories into a daypack and come in at under 10 pounds.

3) HOA's. This is one that a lot of people don't consider, but I think played a major part in the success of POTA  More and more Hams live in communities that fall under the jurisdiction of Home Owner's Associations. Some are quite liberal and Amateur Radio friendly, but others are not. They frown on anything that disrupts their idea of a "perfect community". Things like Amateur Radio antennas are strictly verboten. So what's a Ham stuck in one of these communities to do? They can either find a stealthy antenna solution - or they can take the show on the road - and POTA is perfect for that. Put as little or as much time into it, when and as you want, and you can satisfy that Amateur Radio craving that you can't receive at your residence.

I'm sure there are other factors that I haven't even considered - but these seem to be the main factors to me. I wonder what the "next big thing" will be?

On a sad note, I saw on QRP-L last night that Diz Gentzow, W8DIZ passed away on Sunday after a long illness. Diz was the proprietor of Kits and Parts and was one of the founders of the Flying Pigs QRP Club International. He passed away peacefully at home with his loving wife Nancy and other family members at his side.

I never met Diz in person, but had corresponded with him on several occasions regarding parts orders, Flying Pig matters and the few times he participated in the Skeeter Hunt. He was a kind gentleman with a good sense of humor - one of the good guys, who was respected and admired by those of us in the QRP community.

My friend Brian KB8BVN summed it all quite appropriately ........ "It's a sad day in Hamville."

RIP, Diz, you will be sorely missed. Farewell and "oo".

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, March 04, 2024

A good HF day

Yesterday was a good radio day. Not only was it a good radio day, but it was a good day weather-wise, as well. It got up to 68F (20C) in the afternoon, making the basement shack a lot warmer as well, where it was 62F (16C). Still not ideal, but a lot more comfortable than it has been and I was in no hurry to leave for warm-up breaks. I still have to get a space heater for down there. I'm sure there's still lots of cold weather left before Ol' Man Winter sings his swan song.

But I digress. 10 Meters was hopping and I worked a Polish POTA station, a SOTA station in England and Alex RK3ER, whom I have made contact with several times before. He was BOOMING in at 599 +++++, easily the loudest signal on the band.

I worked a bunch of POTA stations on both 10, 15 and 20 Meters. Even with the SSB DX Contest going on, the CW bands were quite populated and humming. It was nice to hear. An added treat was to work some fellow QRP'ers and Skeeter Hunt stalwarts this weekend, Craig WB3GCK at K-4363 Norristown Farm State Park in PA, Eric WD8RIF at K-1994 Strouds Run State Park in OH, Paul AA4XX at Mayo State Game Land in NC, and John N0EVH at K-11042 Kahrs-Boger State Conservation Area in MO. I always go out of my way to fatten up a fellow Skeeter's log if I hear them performing an activation.

Later, at 0000 UTC, I checked into the St. Maximilian Kolbe Net to cap off the day. Thankfully, the KXPA100 was in tip top shape and I was able to boost the power to 85 Watts for that. I shared something with the guys that I had never heard of before.

Of course we all know there are plenty of OTAs on the air - JOTA, POTA, SOTA, IOTA and so on and so forth. Did you know there's also a  CHOTA? There is and it stands for Churches and Chapels On The Air. It originated in England, but has "jumped the Pond" in recent years, with some American churches joining in. Here's a link to an article I saw on -

Unlike the other OTAs, CHOTA is a one day event and this year it will be held on Saturday, September 14th. It might be a good way to get some family friendly media attention for Amateur Radio. I'm thinking I might bring this up at the next SPARC meeting. Maybe we can put a church in town on the air. I know my Church, Sacred Heart, has a HUGE parking lot and maybe we can draw some attention to Amateur Radio during the day and before the 5:00 PM Mass - that is if I can get our Pastor to sign off on the idea.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, March 03, 2024

That sinking feeling


You know that sinking feeling you get when you step into the shack and you turn eveything on and something isn't right? And the last time you were in there, everything was working perfectly?

That happened to me yesterday. I stepped into the shack, turned everything on and the KXPA100 sat there like a silent, dark brick. Normally, when I turn on the KX3, the LEDs on the KXPA100 come on, even though I keep the output at 5 Watts. I like to know it's available when I need it for checking into the St.Max 80 Meter SSB Net on Sunday evenings, or for a possible DX ATNO popping up on the bands.

That didn't happen yesterday. It just sat there, foreboding and lifeless. 

The first thing you have to do is choke back that feeling of panic. Really ...... no one in their right minds wants to take a piece of hardware off line and deal with getting it repaired. In a perfect world, that never happens - but as we all know, this world ain't perfect.

So the next thing you do is start the troubleshooting process. And oddly enough, that begins with turning the KXPA100 "on". Weird, right?  But not really.  In use, the KXPA100 power switch is to remain in the "off" position. The KX3 itself is supposed to turn the amp on during power up.

Thankfully, when I flipped the switch on, all the LEDs lit and I heard a few relays click, so that meant the amp itself was okay. So that leads us to figure out why things still aren't right. Everything was fine when I last left the shack - what changed? What would cause the KX3 to stop talking to the KXPA100?

As it turned out, I finally remembered that during my last time in the shack, I had pulled the radio a little closer to me on the operating bench. Something must have happened then. I looked at the left side of the radio, where all the cabling is and I noticed that one cable appeared not to be pressed in all the way. And it took a real close look, because we're talking just a couple of millimeters here. Not even noticeable unless you were specifically looking for it. I gave the plug a push and, lo and behold, the lights on the amp came back on and everything was back to normal! Crisis averted! 

When I pulled the radio forward, I must have inadvertantly tugged on that cable, causing the problem. While I could very easily live without the KXPA100, I have become accustomed to, and enjoy checking into the St. Max Net on Sunday evenings, and as much as a dedicated QRPer as I am, I also have enough common sense to know that the KX3's maximum 15 Watts just will not cut it for effective communication there.

Oh well, what the heck are a few more gray hairs?

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!