Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Why the need?

I come across this so many times on the internet;

"Stations won't work me because I'm QRP!"

Dude ..... why the heck are you even telling them you're running QRP?  That is the biggest mistake you can make, especially in a contest. Don't wear a "QRP Badge of Honor". It's not going to get you much, if anything. You are just another station in an ocean of stations. Maybe a dolphin swimming in a pod of Humpback whales, but you're just another sea creature. Don't obsess about your signal or project to yourself how you're going to be heard at the other end.

For all you know, propagation may be such that you're 59 or 599 at the receiving end. I once worked a station in Madison, WI with a Rockmite at 250 milliWatts. He would not believe me when I told him what my rig was, and told me I was 599+++. Other times you may be 55 or 559, or worse, at the other end. YOU DON'T KNOW, YOU'RE NOT THERE! 

So if you hear a station you want to work .......call them! If they hear you, fine. Work them and move on. If they don't hear you after a number of tries, move on and work someone else and come back at a later time. Propagation may change and maybe you stand a better shot later. As Kenny Rogers famously sang, "You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em!" Don't frustrate yourself needlessly just because that 30 over 9 station can't hear you.

Telling the world you're running QRP is not going to give you an edge or win you any friends or influence people. Be happy with your accomplishments AFTER you've made them and just keep plugging away.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, April 29, 2024

Were the bands cruddy or what?

 Yesterday.. I got the chance to get on in the early afternoon.. I did not hear anyone on any band save for a few Florida QSO Party participants Other than those guys', the bands were just noise. I went to the POTA spotting page and saw my friend Brian KB9BVN listed as doing an activation - could not hear him. I heard a few weak signals that must have been working him, but I did not hear him.

Also, I normally have a pipeline down into Georgia and Virginia. I couldn't hear anyone from those states. The St. Max Net at 8:00 PM wasn't much better. I heard Lloyd K3QNT, the Net Control  Station alright, but most of the net participants were down in the mud.

I had planned to go over to the Edison Memorial over in Menlo Park to do a POTA activation as the weather was so beautiful yesterday. I'm glad I checked the bands, first. It would have been an exercise in frustration. Maybe next weekend, if the weather holds up.

I took the opportunity to hook my bug up to the computer and let the Ham Radio Solutions bot decode my CW.  Surprisingly, I didn't do all too badly and after about 1/2 hour pf practice I was sending without hardly any errors at all. I'm still not ready to go "live on the air" with it yet, but I'm happy that I'm not too far off.  The hardest part was to remember that the Dahs are not automatically made like with a paddle and keyer. Once you remember that, it becomes a lot easier. 

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!  

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Letting you in on a secret! (Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!)

Wanna be successful in QRP?

Wanna be really, really successful in QRP?

Wanna be really, really successful in QRP with a minimum of frustration and anxiety?

Wanna really, really enjoy QRP and keep coming back for more - just like Lays potato chips?

Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Don't tell anyone who doesn't answer yes to any of the above questions!

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Learn Morse Code!

Happy Morse Code Day!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, April 26, 2024

It's Friday! (And some important news at the bottom of the post)

 You know what that means!

Contests:

SP DX RTTY Contest -  http://www.pkrvg.org/strona,spdxrttyen.html

Helvetia Contest -  https://www.uska.ch/events/uska-helvetia-contest-concours-helvetia-hf/

Florida QSO Party - http://floridaqsoparty.org/rules/

BARTG Sprint 75 - http://bartg.org.uk/wp/bartg-sprint75-contests/

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

Special Events: (Lots this weekend!)

04/27/2024 | Bolivar Lighthouse

Apr 27, 1600Z-2300Z, K5S, Port Bolivar, TX. Beaumont Amateur Radio Club. 7.220 14.250 28.405 146.520. Certificate. Beaumont Amateur Radio Club , 4839 Hwy 326N, Kountze, TX 77625. w5rin.com

04/27/2024 | Celebration of the Club's 85th Anniversary at the Cox Science Center

Apr 27, 1400Z-2100Z, W4HAW, West Palm Beach, FL. West Palm Beach Amateur Radio Group. 7.250 14/250 21.250 28.250. QSL. WPBARG, P.O. Box 7623, West Palm Beach, FL 33405-7623. wpbarg.org

04/27/2024 | HAMS for PanCAN

Apr 27-Apr 28, 0200Z-2300Z, N3P/PanCan, New Kensington, PA. Skyview Radio Society. 3.960. 7.172. Certificate. Skyview Radio Society, N3P, 2335 Turkey Ridge Rd., New Kensington, PA 15068. This special event's purpose is to raise awareness of the PanCAN resources for patients and families affected by pancreatic cancer. All contacts are on SSB. rybar1949@gmail.com or https://www.skyviewradio.net

04/27/2024 | International Marconi Day 2024

Apr 27, 1700Z-2300Z, W1M, Rochester, NY. ROC-HAM RADIO NETWORK. 20M/14.313 10M/28.405 Allstar2585,47620,47918,531310. QSL. W2JLD/JOHN DERYCKE, 85 AMHERST ST, APT2, Rochester, NY 14607. roc-ham.net

04/27/2024 | International Marconi Day Award Station

Apr 27, 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 QRZ.com qrz.com/db/k3s

04/27/2024 | MERT20 Special Event

Apr 27, 1200Z-2359Z, KG4NXO, Ocala, FL. Marion County Emergency Management. 14.262 7.262; D-STAR 146.790 REF-037; 3.862. Certificate & QSL. Kraig Pritts, 6637 NE 5th Lane, Ocala, FL 34470. www.mert20.org

04/27/2024 | N1D - Number One Dawgs

Apr 27-Apr 28, 1700Z-1700Z, N1D, Athens, GA. Radio Club at the University of GA. 3.925 7.250 14.200. QSL. Athens Radio Club, P.O. Box 782, Athens, GA 30603. Celebrating the National Championship University of Georgia football team. We will be operating from the Tate Center, adjacent to Sanford Stadium. https://www.athensradioclub.org

04/27/2024 | N3P/WQ3Q Bonus Station of HAMS for PanCAN

Apr 27, 0900Z-1700Z, N3P/WQ3Q, New Kensington, PA. Skyview Radio Society. 3.960. 7.172. Certificate & QSL. Skyview Radio Society - N3P/WQ3Q, 2335 Turkey Ridge Rd., Upper Burrell, PA. This special event's purpose is to raise awareness of the PanCAN resources for patients and families affected by pancreatic cancer. This bonus station is for an additional contact recognition for participants who can make contact with this remote station's location. All contacts are on SSB. rybar1949@gmail.com or https://www.skyviewradio.net

And now for some news - last night, Martin Jue K5FLU put out the following announcement;

Dear Fellow Hams and Friends,                   

It is with a sad heart as I write this letter.

As many of you have heard by now, MFJ is ceasing its on-site production in Starkville, Mississippi on May 17, 2024.  This is also the same for our sister companies’ Ameritron, Hygain, Cushcraft, Mirage and Vectronics.

 Times have changed since I started this business 52 years ago.  Our product line grew and grew and prospered.  Covid changed everything in businesses including ours.  It was the hardest hit that we have ever had and we never fully recovered. 

I turned 80 this year.  I had never really considered retirement but life is so short and my time with my family is so precious.

 I want to thank all of our employees who have helped build this company with me over the years.  We have many employees who have made MFJ their career for 10, 20, 30, 40 and more years. 

 We are going to continue to sell MFJ products past May 17, 2024.  We have a lot of stock on hand. We will continue to offer repair service work for out-of-warranty and in-warranty units for the foreseeable future. 

 Finally, a special thanks to all of our customers and our dealers who have made MFJ a worldwide name and a profitable business for so many years.  You all are so much appreciated.

         

                                                                                            Sincerely Yours, 73s

                                                                                            Martin F. Jue, K5FLU

I've owned various MFJ products in over 40 years of operating. In fact, the antenna tuner for my Novice station back in 1979 was my first MFJ product purchase. In all the MFJ products that I have owned, I only had problems with two and both were self-fixable. An antenna switch where I had to reposition one of the contacts, and my MFJ-1982LP antenna where I had to re-solder a connection in the UNUN. Despite having to do that, the 1982LP remains my favorite "go to" antenna for portable operations (if there's enough room! Hi!)  I would never call any MFJ product that I've ever owned "a lemon". 

Over the past few years, my MFJ-1982LP has been THE antenna for the CW station in SPARC Field Days. Our results and our placement in the standings are in no small way due to the MFJ-1982 LP that I own and the MFJ-1982HP that Dave KD2FSI owns and deploys for the SSB station. Basically, it comes down to this - if we can hear' 'em, we can work 'em - and in the end, what more can you ask for?

If you've ever visited any Amateur Radio e-mail reflector, or visited any Amateur Radio social media site, you know that MFJ has not always received kind treatment. I've always cringed at the moniker "Mighty Fine Junk" and I often felt that a lot of the disparaging comments posted and published about MFJ were to fulfill the need for retaliation or revenge by dissatisfied customers rather than being constructive in any shape, way or form. If you search this blog for "MFJ", you'll find nary a single post in twenty years worth of posts that disparages MFJ or their products.

So far, all I've seen are condolences about the passing of MFJ. I hope it stays that way and that the nay-sayers and Negative Nancy's have the decency to keep their mouths shut and take the high road - but you and I both know that won't happen.

Personally, I'd like to thank Martin and his company for their dedication and service to the Amateur Radio community for so many years. Enjoy your retirement, Martin - you certainly deserve it!

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

How this all started!

 


Thanks to Drew W2OU, Rich W2PQ, Bob WB2UDC and Rich W2VU for being part of that with me that day. It was an honor to give that presentation with them that day and who knew it would give birth to a blog that's lasted some 20 years!

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

Bad boys, bad boys .....watcha gonna do?

 


Abbot and Costello were a favorite of my childhood, right up there with Laurel and Hardy. I always get a chuckle when I hear Lou Costello tell Bud Abbot, "I've been a baaaaaad boy!".

So what did W2LJ do that's so bad? Depends on your point of view. If you're a brother or sister Ham - nothing! To the uninitiated ..... "What do you need another radio for?"

I buckled under last night and ordered a QMX transceiver from QRP Labs. Not the kit, but a fully assembled-in-the-enclosure-80-to-20 Meter version. I've got too many kits in the pipeline that are waiting to be built. I don't need another. For that matter, I don't need another radio, either! But it's so tiny and can do so much and I've been wanting to get one for so long. I just couldn't sit on the fence any longer and last night I took the plunge. I figured I might as well order one while I'm still working full time. With retirement looming in the not too distant future, purchases like these might not be as easy to justify. I have no idea how long it will take to get here, but I'll wait. Oh, I know that it will be worth the wait!  (Just looked at the waiting list - if I'm lucky maybe September or October).


So in that way, some would say that "I've been a baaaaaad boy!' To which I might reply, "It's a Ham Radio thing ....... you wouldn't understand!"

By the way ....... Happy Marcon's birthday! The ol' boy would be 150 years old today. Better than lifting a glass - get on the air in his honor today! 

And I just stepped out of my office for a second or two to see that today is "Bring Your Kid to Work Day". It was exactly for this "day" back in 2005 that a bunch of us put on a presentation about Amateur Radio at the IEEE in Piscataway, NJ. Talking about "day" was my impetus for starting this blog - going on it's 20th year this year! 

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

RFTB / W8DIZ Memorial Sprints

Dan Shepard N8IE has announced that the Flying Pigs QRP Club will be holding combined RFTB / W8DIZ Memorial Sprints each month through March 2025 to honor the memory of Diz Gentzow SK.


These Sprints will feature participation of the Club call sign W8PIG/# from as many call sign areas as possible each month. If you would like to volunteer to be W8PIG from your call area, please send an e-mail to w2ljqrp@gmail.com.

Terms and conditions:

1) You must be a member of the Flying Pigs (It's fun and free and I have no idea why you wouldn't want to be a member!) Our motto is "No Dues, No Rules, Just Fun - and if we don't like it we fix it!"

2) Your call sign doesn't have to match, you just have to live in that call area. Let's say your call sign is WB2XYZ but you live in Illinois - you can volunteer for W8PIG/9.

3) Right now I'll be looking to fill spots for May, June and July of 2024.

If you're not a Piggie and wannabe - you can join by going to https://www.fpqrp.org/join.php

There's a great quarterly newsletter which has once again taken up publication - "Bacon Bits" - https://www.fpqrp.org/baconbits.php

In addition to the monthly "Run For The Bacon", there are also two monthly "Walks For The Bacon" on 40 and 20 Meters. These are slower paced Sprints with a maximum code speed of 13 WPM, designed expressly for those who are new to CW and/or are working up their code speed. No "buzz saw" CW to be found here! And if all you can do is 5 WPM, please join us anyway - we'll slow down for you!

There are also weekly SSB Piggie nets  that are taking wing on the HF bands. In short, becoming a member of the Flying Pigs costs nothing, grabs you a ton of fun, and lets you make a lot of great friendships within the QRP community. Please consider joining .......ESPECIALLY if you're new to QRP. You won't regret it!

72 de Larry W2LJ / FP# 612

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, April 22, 2024

That didn't go as planned

 The weekend, I mean.

It started on Thursday with some soreness in my right foot. It elevated Friday and by the time I got home from work, I knew I wasn't going to make it to the library on Saturday with the rest of SPARC. An ugly bout of gout came to visit me. I haven't had an attack in about 7 years - but I did have two Guinness in March and I guess that was enough to trigger. This is why I don't drink much beer - a six pack will last me a year, or more.

Anyway, the pain was not in the toe as where most attacks occur, it was in the bunion. Every step was a wince in discomfort. Not excruciating pain, but enough to keep me off my feet. I stayed home with my foot elevated all weekend. My only two trips out were to the grocery store on Saturday and to Church on Sunday. And both of those days, I was walking around like Fred Sanford.

So I didn't make it to the library and I didn't get on the air to listen for any QRPTTF stations. From the emails I've seen, there wasn't all that much activity due to really crummy band conditions. That's a shame!

I did make it down the steps to the shack for the W8DIZ Memorial Run For The Bacon last night. The bands were weird! The Solar Flux was 227, the Sunspot number was 283. The K index was 3 and the bands were lousy, at least for me. High noise level and lots of QSB. By the time I pulled the plug, i worked 15 Flying Pigs including Memorial Stations W8PIG/1, W8PIG/2, W8PIG/8 and W8PIG/9. 

This is where I was heard - according to RBN:

The weekend could have been better and it could have been worse. And thanks to Advil and Blue Emu topical pain relief cream, I'm back here at work on this freezing Monday morning.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least1

Friday, April 19, 2024

Happenings - including QRPTTF and the W8DIZ Memorial RFTB

 For the weekend:

Contests: (For those who perpetually ask: "What's all this on the bands? Is there a contest?")

QRP To The Field (QRPTTF)http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/pg.html

CQMM DX Contest : http://www.cqmmdx.com/rules/

Michigan QSO Party : https://miqp.org/index.php/rules/

Ontario QSO Party : http://www.va3cco.com/oqp/rules.htm

Holyland DX Contest : https://www.iarc.org/iarc/Content/docs/Holyland2023eng.pdf

YU DX Contest : http://www.yudx.yu1srs.org.rs/

Nebraska QSO Party : https://nebraskaqsoparty.com/qso-party-rules/f/rules-for-2022-nebraska-qso-party

Quebec QSO Party - https://wp1.quebecqsoparty.org/

ARRL Rookie Roundup, SSB - http://www.arrl.org/rookie-roundup

Special Flying Pigs Run for the Bacon / W8DIZ Memorial Sprint

This coming Sunday night is the April 2024 extra special edition of the Run For The Bacon -  the W8DIZ Memorial Sprint. On the air with us will be several W8PIG/# stations from various call sign areas to honor the memory of our Founder, Diz W8DIZ.

The rules remain the same, and can be found at: http://qrpcontest.com/pigrun/

The time is the same as always:

East coast - 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT

Midwest - 6:00 to 8:00 PM CDT

Rockies - 5:00 to 7:00 PM MDT

West coast - 4:00 to 6:00 PM PDT

Hope to hear you on the air for some pignacious fun while making our beloved W8DIZ proud! Oh, and did I mention? This month's winner will earn an extra special W8DIZ Memorial certificate!

Special Event Stations - only 1 this weekend:

04/20/2024 | Northwest Arkansas Train Mobile

Apr 20, 1300Z-2200Z, N5T, Springdale, AR. Bella Vista Radio Club. 7.190 14.260 7.040 14.040. QSL. Don Banta - K5DB, 3407 Diana St., Springdale, AR 72764. bellavistaradioclub.org

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the vey least!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Happy World Amateur Radio Day!



A good day to get on the air, if you can! And as I'm sitting here, typing this, HamAlert is letting me know that my good friend, Dave KD2FSI is just doing that! He seems to be busy on 40, 30 and 20 Meters.

I didn't realize that our "Amateur Radio Day at the Library" was so close to World Amateur Radio Day. Too bad they couldn't have exactly coincided.

Here's the list of stuff I'll be bringing:

KX3

Speaker / earbuds and "Y" cable

Straight key / Paddle and "Y" cable

Battery

Antenna - PARENDFEDZ (primary choice)

Jackite mast and support system

Laptop and AC adapter

USB adapter for straight key and paddle to laptop.

Morse Code charts

Alexloop (as a backup) if putting up the PAR is mot feasible

Pad and pen for logging any possible QSOs.

UTC Clock

Some QSL cards for display purposes.

And I think that should do it. Tonight we have a SPARC meeting via Zoom. A couple of the guys were going to visit the library this week to get an actual eyeball on the space we'll be dealing with. Hopefully, I'll get a better idea as to what will be possible for antennas.

One of the things I want to mention during the meeting is that someone needs to take photos and perhaps a video or two. These would look good on both the SPARC website and our social media page on Facebook. Maybe we can get another article in QST, like we did for Maker's Day a few years back.

Last night, I spent more time than I should have setting up the new weather station console that arrived from Ambient Weather Systems. I thought you could just set it up from the cell phone app, and be done with it. No, you actually have to go into the device via your laptop or a web browser on your phone, via the IP Address they mention in the instruction book. If I had read the manual more closely, and had not just assumed that I knew what I was doing, I would have been done much sooner.

In any case, I had to rename the weather station with the new console. It was KNJSOUTH60 - it is now KNJSOUTH208 for any weather geeks out there, like myself, who like to look at what the weather is in different locations around the country.

Which leads me to another topic. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a Ham Radio Newbie ask a question on one of the Amateur Radio groups on Facebook, only to be told "RTFM"! I wonder how many of us "veterans" have screwed up because we didn't read the manual? I know I did last night!

No questions from newcomers to the hobby are "stupid". Always be kind and helpful, so that your positive attitude will carry forward to the next generation of Hams.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Boo Yah!

I received two emails from UPS that two packages are due to be delivered tomorrow. The first is the new console for my Ambient weather station. Here's what the current one looks like:

And here's what the new one looks like:

Not too much of a difference, eh? The important thing is that wifi symbol that you see in the little red square. The procedure will be to depress the wind and pressure buttons on the new console and wait for a "beep", and for that little wifi icon to start flashing, and I'll finally be able to connect my weather station back to the internet. A trivial thing, right? I can't tell you how much I've become accustomed to checking on weather data from home, no matter where I am, by just looking at my phone. The weather station still works fine, but not being able to access it remotely feels weird. I guess it's like that old song by Joni Mitchell - "Big Yellow Taxi".

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't what you got 'til it's gone?"

The other package is an indoor HDTV antenna and signal booster. The gist of this is that I've just eliminated a substantial part of my monthly Verizon bill by ditching FiOS TV. There's so much free stuff offered via my Roku devices, but not local channels. You have to pay for those.  Want all your local channels? That's $77 a month from Hulu, $69 a month from DIRECTV, $73 a month from YouTube TV. It doesn't make sense to start paying for that all over again , just to another provider.

Heck, I live 25 miles (as the crow flys) from New York City. I figure that if I can work Europe from inside my house using 5 Watts and a magloop antenna then I should be able to pick up the local channels decently enough with an amplified indoor HDTV antenna. I did some research and ordered one from Channel Master. A one time purchase price of $50 and I should be fine. It will just be for watching local news and a few "real time" shows that the streaming services I connect to don't provide for free. We'll see how this experiment works! If it does work, I'll have to acquire one for the upstairs TV, but that can wait.

Last night, Amateur Radio wise, was just running the South Plainfield ARES/RACES Net and checking in to the Middlesex County Chat Group social net. No HF for me last evening. I did go on the FCC ULS site to see that our candidates from Saturday already had their applications approved. Jeremy KB3OPJ is now officially an Amateur Extra and our new Tech got his call sign KE2DCY.  What a difference from the old days!  Beating the dead horse, I'll mention again that when I passed my Novice test in November of 1978, my license didn't come until January of 1979. That the FCC can action on results from a test given two days previously is just amazing.

For kicks, I went over to the QRP Fox Hunt page and took a look at the season's results for the 80 Meter Foxes. Out of the 19 ops who volunteered for Fox duty, I came in 12th place, QSO total-wise. I didn't do as badly as I thought I had. I flat out expected to be in 18th or 19th place. Who knows, I may just volunteer again next fall.  The only downside to that is that I would have to download N1MM and use it during the Hunt as there's a real time Google Maps page available to the Hounds, where they can see their result pop up on a map as soon as the Fox logs them. I can barely chew gum and walk at the same time. Work Hounds at a furious pace AND computer log at the same time? That might be too much to ask from W2LJ. I'll have to give this some serious thought.

Lastly, the other day, my wife and son asked me what I wanted for my birthday, which is coming up in a few weeks. "QMX" immediately popped into my brain and I told them I had something in mind that they could split the cost on. When they asked what it was and I said "a radio", I did get two eyerolls. But what the hey? They asked! I told them that if they ordered it, that it would not be here in time for my birthday, (I want the assembled unit, not the kit)  but just knowing it would be coming was gift enough. I have to send some links to my son to get the ball rolling.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP  - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A quick reminder and another announcement

QRPTTF, QRP To The Field is this Saturday - another annual effort by Paul NA5N which is very worthy of your time if you are able to participate.

Details here:  http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/pg.html

I'm hoping that I can get an end fed up at the library for SPARC's "Amateur Radio Day at the Library" so that I can hand out points while simultaneously demonstrating how Morse Code works.

And the other announcement. This Sunday is the monthly Flying Pigs "Run For The Bacon". This month is a special one - W8PIG/# stations for the various call sign areas will be on the air participating, in part as something special to honor the memory of our Founder W8DIZ (SK).  A special certificate will be awarded to the winner. Details to follow - keep an eye on the various QRP and CW e-mail reflectors and iO Groups later this week.  https://qrpcontest.com/pigrun/

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, April 15, 2024

Busy, busy, busy weekend!

And not all that much radio to show for it - oy!

Although I did get on Friday night for a couple hours after dinner to partake of the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party, which ran from 8:00 PM to Midnight, my local time. There was a decent amount of activity, which was really, really nice to see/hear. I worked 17 stations - all QRP ARCI members. I mainly searched and pounced, but I did call CQ on 20 and 40 Meters, not so much to run a frequency, but to get an idea via the Reverse Beacon Network in order to see where I was being heard.

From the results tally so far, I'm sitting in the bottom third of the pack, which I half as much expected. If I had put in the full four hours, instead of just under two, I probably would have worked a lot more stations. When I decided to pull the plug stations from the West Coast started coming in on 20 Meters and I worked two from Washington state. I was beat because Friday afternoon was an experience in and of itself.

Recently, Marianne and I decided to drop Verizon FiOS TV from our Verizon package. Neither of us watch TV all that much, and pretty much everything we want to watch, we can catch on our Roku device - pretty much everything, expect for local channels. I'll be looking into getting an indoor HDTV antenna as the only thing I don't want to miss is "Jeopardy" and NYC is only about 25 miles away as the crow flies, so I should be able to get WABC TV rather easily. Dropping the TV portion of the bill reduced it .......... dramatically.

However,  when you drop the TV package, Verizon has to come in and install a new router, as that's how the TV portion is transmitted. When I called to make the service appointment, they noted that my internet connection was ancient, and they upgraded that and provided a new router free of charge.  The upgrade in internet speed is quite noticeable Not so much on my phone or laptop, but the data to my Hamclock set up in the basement shack is much faster and I get a lot less fewer drop outs/error messages..

The pain in the posterior aspect of all of this is that re-setting devices for the new SSID and password is akin to going around the house and re-setting clocks for the time change! I didn't have to deal with Cara or Joseph's devices as they're young and computer savvy, and I didn't have any trouble reconfiguring the laptop in the computer room, or Marianne's and my phones and tablets.

The "fun" part came when reconfiguring our Ring doorbell and chime. The instructions they give you on line are there all right, and complete - but they're not the easiest to locate. It's almost like operating the menus on an HF radio where there are multiple sublayers. I finally figured that out and got those working again. Reconfiguring the Rokus was quite easy, because as soon as the Roku couldn't detect the internet via the old SSID, it took you directly to where you had to reconfigure for the new one.

The real pain in the butt one was/is the weather station. I have an Ambient WS-2902. I managed to dig out the instruction manual to refamiliarize myself with the procedure for setting up the wifi connection. it's actually quite simple as you go to the Ambient Tool on your phone and go from there. And that's where things got interesting. My weather station has been out there and running since ........ it was either 2016 or 2017 when Marianne bought it for me as a Christmas gift. The current version of this model weather station is the WS-2902D. The Ambient Tool has gone away and has been replaced by the AWN app.

Not a problem, right? Just go to Google Play, download the new app and reconfigure the wifi, right? That's what you would think, but it turned out to be much more than that. I followed the instructions, which told me to press the "wind" and "pressure" buttons on the console until a little wifi icon popped up in the temperature indicator square. I tried that several times with no result. So I thought maybe I have to unplug the console from its AC adapter, wait a minute and try again. I did that - no wifi icon.

As they say, Google is your friend and I searched on "Reconfiguring wifi for WS-2902". What I found was that the AWN app will NOT work with the original WS-2902 and the old Ambient Tool is no longer available. I had changed phones since I originally installed the weather station, so the old app was not carried over to my current phone. The solution is that I had to purchase a new WS-2902D console. It will work with the sensor package, as that hasn't changed (except that I can now add some fancy new things, like soil moisture detectors and lightning detectors, which I chose not to do). It should be here within the week, and in the meantime the weather station is still working, it's just not reporting to WeatherUnderground and the Ambient Weather Station network for now.

Saturday was our monthly VE Exam session and we had two candidates, with one coming all the way from East Stroudsburg, PA. One got his Technician ticket and our East Stroudsbuger, Jeremy KB3OPJ upgraded to Amateur Extra.  After the exam session, I headed over to a clothing drive for HCT Technologies, the company that finances SPARC, to help with accepting bags of used clothes.

Sunday morning it was back to the clothing drive for a while and then into Plainfield to help out with our parish's Second Sunday Soup kitchen. I did manage to check into the St. Max Net on 80 Meters at 0000 UTC, but the QRN was horrific! The net usually lasts for a half hour to 45 minutes. It was over by 00:15 UTC last night.

Tonight, SPARC members who are also CERT members are going to show up at the monthly Boro Council Meeting. One of the Office of Emergency Management deputies is being promoted from sergeant to lieutenant and we want to congratulate him and show him our support.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least! 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Sad news

If you've been a regular reader of Jeff KE9V's blog, you'll know that he's wondered a few times as to what's happened to the ARS Spartan Sprint. There have been no updates since January, and that is very strange, indeed.

In an e-mail on the QRP-L e-mail reflector Phil K4PQC confirmed that he has heard from W6JJZ that Rich KI6SN has been seriously ill and is no longer capable of managing a computer or the ARS Spartan Sprint, or the Flight of the Bumblebees later this year in July.

Richard's address is available on QRZ.com and I'm sure he'd appreciate hearing from all of us - even if it's one of your QSL cards with some "Best wishes, thinking of you - hope you get well soon" on it, or something like that. In the meantime, I'm also pretty sure that Rich would never turn down any prayers offered for his well being and recovery.

On the bright side, Bruce Horn WA7BNM has agreed to host the Spartan Sprints and FOBB on his 3830scores.com site.

According to Phil, Bruce will be coming up with submittal forms for these events within a few days. I don't know if anyone has participated in the February or March events as there was no formal notice given for them, but if you did, you'll be able to report your scores there. I'm not sure how publicity and notifications for these events is going to be handled going forward, but I'll make sure to talk them up here. That may not be much in the limited reach this blog has - but at least it's something. We have precious few really good QRP events as it is. I'd hate to see these go away.

Personally, I've never used the 3830scores site before. Phil says it's really easy and I'll take him at his word and will give it a shot for the May Spartan Sprint, which will be Monday, May 6th. Hope to hear you all there.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Friday, April 12, 2024

April 12th

If you're a "Space Race Kid" like I am, April 12th holds significant meaning. It was on this day in 1961, that Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Vostok 1 to become the first human being to orbit the Earth.

Exactly 20 years later, on April 12th, 1981,  Astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen were launched into space aboard STS-1, the first manned flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. April 12th is now known as the "international Day of Human Space Flight". A little bit of trivia - John Young had flown on Gemini, Apollo (piloting each the Command and Lunar Modules) and the Shuttle - he holds the record for an American Astronaut flying the most different variety of spacecraft.

How far manned spaceflight evolved in 20 years! 

On to the goings on for the weekend, and as always, we'll start with contests. Lots going on:

QRP ARCI Spring QSO Partyhttp://qrparci.org/contest/spring-qso-party

JIDX CW Contesthttp://www.jidx.org/jidxrule-e.html

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon https://www.skccgroup.com/operating_activities/weekend_sprintathon/

New Mexico QSO Party http://www.newmexicoqsoparty.org/

Georgia QSO Partyhttps://gaqsoparty.com/

Hungarian Straight Key Contesthttps://hskc.ha8kux.com/

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint http://www.4sqrp.com/SSS/sss_rules.pdf

North Dakota QSO Partyhttps://ndarrlsection.com/2024/2024_ND_QSO_Party_Rule.pdf

New Mexico and North Dakota QSO Parties this weekend! These are two "rarer" states for those of you who are working towards Worked All States (of whatever flavor you might be working on - Basic, QRP, CW, etc.)

Special Event Stations:

04/09/2024 | Sun N Fun Aerospace Expo

Apr 9-Apr 13, 0300Z-1200Z, W4S, Lakeland, FL. Sun N Fun Fly In Inc. 146.685 (127.3) 14.225 7.250. QSL. Geoff Schuck, PO Box 90853, Lakeland, FL 33804. Frequencies will be spotted throughout the day on DX Summit. QSL cards are sent to all HF Contacts.

04/12/2024 | Halifax Resolves Special Event Station

Apr 12-Apr 13, 0000Z-2100Z, N4C, Halifax, NC. N4WFU. 7.180 14.250 21.325 28.350. Certificate & QSL. Barry Evans/N4C, P.O. Box 1533 , Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870. If requested, a certificate and QSL card will be provided to Ham operators around the world that make contact with this special event station; can also request a "QSL" card confirming the contact. Please sent a self addressed stamped envelope to: N4C P O Box 1533 Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 Commemorating the signing of the Halifax Resolves April 12, 1776. Halifax Resolves was the first written instrument, in existence leading to our independence from England. The resolves were unanimously approved at the Fourth Provincial Congress gathered in Halifax, NC. It authorized the NC delegates, being sent to the Continental Congress, to vote for, and encourage other colony's delegates to the support independence.

04/12/2024 | National Library Week 2024

Apr 12-Apr 13, 1600Z-2100Z, K8L, Youngstown, OH. WF8U and KC3GFU. 14.074 7.074. QSL. K8L, 239 Elvira Ct., McDonald, OH 44437. Help us celebrate National Library Week 2024. We will be operating on both SSB & FT8, 20m and 40m. Send us a QSL to be displayed in our local libraries and share the magic of amateur radio! In return you will receive a SES QSL card with this year's theme. Please send QSL to: K8L, 239 Elvira Ct., McDonald, OH 44437. Find more information on QRZ or email kd8ely@gmail.com. www.qrz.com/db/kd8ely

04/13/2024 | Commemorating USS Midway conducting first airship ops on CV (7APR49)

Apr 13, 1600Z-2300Z, NI6IW, San Diego, CA. USS Midway Museum Ship. 7.250 14.320; 140.070 PSK31; DSTAR on PAPA System repeaters. QSL. USS Midway Museum Ship COMEDTRA, 910 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. www.qrz.com/db/ni6iw

04/13/2024 | Venice Shark's Tooth Festival

Apr 13-Apr 14, 1500Z-2000Z, K4S, Nokomis, FL. Tamiami ARC. 14.320 SSB. QSL. Tamiami ARC, PO Box 976, Nokomis, FL 34274. Celebrating the area in Florida known as the "Shark's Tooth Capital of the World". All QSLs with SASE receive custom event QSL and a genuine, prehistoric shark's tooth memento of the contact. tamiamiarc.org

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to get on the air this weekend. Our monthly K2ETS VE Session is tomorrow morning. Then on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, Hadley Communication Technologies, a NJ 501 (c) (3) corporation that helps to fund SPARC events is conducting a clothing drive fundraiser and I have to devote some time to that. This Sunday is also our regular Soup Kitchen Sunday that I try to help at each month. I really hope to join in on the 4 States QRP Sprint on Sunday evening, if I'm not all played out by then.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP -When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Good news and bad news

 First the good news ....... there is no bad news!

I spent a bit of time in the shack after dinner last night, and I hooked up the Vibroplex to the computer via that adapter from Ham Radio Solutions. The first thing I found out was that, as it has been such a long time since I last used it, the contacts became so dirty from oxidization as to prevent ANY dits or dahs from being created.


So out came the alcohol and a Q-Tip and an old business card that I found in our desk. Applying the alcohol and wiping it dry with the Q-Tip removed a lot of tarnish. Burnishing the contacts gently with the business card removed even more. The result was that dits and dahs are now being produced, but I have to go to my own Morse Code page connected with this blog to review the procedures for proper adjustment. Even out of whack, I was able to send some CW that the computer was actually able to decipher. My bug fist was not as bad and I had thought it would be! It's more like just plain ol' bad, instead of being horrible or atrocious. I do not think that I will be sending anyone screaming into the night with their ears bleeding, but it's going to take lots more practice before I'm confident enough to take it to the airwaves for some SKCC activity. It would appear that learning to use a bug is like riding a bicycle. You never forget how to do it, but if you've been away from it for a while, you can get pretty rusty.

After playing around with that for  bit, I turned on the KX3 and called "CQ FP" for the Flying Pigs QRP Club "Worked All Pigs" event.  I spotted myself on QRPSPOTS and I turned on RBN to see where my 5 Watts was taking me.


Not bad, as I was even heard down in the Cayman Islands! I was answered by a station most closer to home, however. Gene AA2YO (FP# 4650) from West Deptford, NJ answered my call and we had a nice 20 minute ragchew.  Central NJ to South NJ isn't a really big DX hop, but thanks to Gene, I have my first Flying Pig in the log for this newly revived event. It's a nice alternative to working POTA stations (as much as I love doing that!) with their brief "TU 599 NJ" exchanges. Sometimes you just feel the need for some Morse Code. (Sorry, Maverick!)

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

"Amateur Radio Day at the Library"

As I have previously mentioned, the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club will be at the Westergard Library in Piscataway, NJ on Saturday, April 20th from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM presenting Amateur Radio to the public at large. If you're in the area, please stop by! We're going to have an FT8 station, a SSB station and of course a CW station. Hopefully we can get all three up and running in order to give the people who visit us a good idea of what this hobby is all about.

Yours truly will be manning the CW station. I hope to get an antenna set up in the small grassy area that I am told is just adjacent to where we will be. Supposedly, there's a window that will allow us to run coax to the outdoors. QRPTTF is that day, so maybe I can operate and show people that Morse Code isn't a relic of the past. The bug-a-boo in my mind is the critical importance of an outside antenna. Last October, when we held a Morse Code demonstration at the JFK Library (also in Piscataway) I tried setting up the AlexLoop only to find the interior fluorescent lighting was generating so much RFI as to make the loop a mere decoration.

My primary goal is to do some "real live operating", or at the very least, some "real live receiving"  I have that little golf ball sized speaker that I can hook up to the KX3, so people can hear what's being received, as the KX3's internal speaker leaves a lot to be desired (Sorry, Eric and Wayne!). I also played around with the KX3's built-in CW decoder last night. I had to open up the manual and look up how to activate it because I think the dinosaurs were still alive the last time I tried to use it. It's finicky in that for it to work half way decently, you have to be listening to a signal that's pretty strong - at least S7 or higher. The outside antenna will be crucial for that. If the signal is weaker than about S7, all you see on the KX3's display is a lot of *'s, e's and t's. Which once again proves that the best on-the-air CW decoder is the gray one that situates itself between one's ears.

Which brings me to today's topic. If worse comes to worse and I can't get on the air, I can resort to Ham Radio Solutions and their VBand CW bot.  The little USB adapter arrived in the mail yesterday. Don't let the picture fool you. This thing is about the size of your thumbnail.

This little gadget allows me to hook up a set of paddles, or a straight key, or even a cootie or bug to my laptop via one of the USB ports. The adapter comes with the required USB cable, which I'm pretty sure is a USB-A to USB-C cable. On the Ham Radio Solutions VBand page, I can send CW and see it displayed on the laptop screen. Or I can have a simulated QSO with their robot. Or, if I get super desperate, there are other channels where you can have a real time live QSO with another Ham via the internet. I'm hoping to use it primarily as a device where people can employ one of my straight keys to send Morse and then see on the screen how they've done. 

I hooked it all up last night and breathed a sigh of relief when it worked the first time. My concern wasn't with the adapter, but with my Lenovo T430 laptop which is kind of getting long in the tooth. My laptop doesn't like newer things, like 5G wifi, for instance - it doesn't even detect it.  To my relief, the USB port detected the adapter right away and there was no frustration in trying to figure out how to configure com ports. (I hate that!)  It took a bit of time to get a good feel for using this set up. I had to turn the auto-spacing feature off as it was screwing up my rhythm in sending.  The default setting is Iambic B and I had to change it to Iambic A as that's what my KX3 is set for and it felt more comfortable. You know, 45 years as a Ham, and I'm still not 100% certain what the difference is between Iambic A & B !! Anyhow, before long I had everything set up so that I could send and the laptop display was actually legible and not just gibberish.

After "Amateur Radio Day At The Library" is in the books, I'll still use this as a way to practice and perfect my bug fist, which is currently somewhere between the "disaster" and "atrocious" stages. And I'll always have it should we give more Amateur Radio demonstrations. Heck, it might be even good to set it up at the Information Table that we set up for Field Day. I'll have to bring that up when we're at the library or at the next club meeting. I can see where putting this right next to the Guest Book might draw some attention.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Odds and ends

I managed to get outside for just a few minutes yesterday as the moon was approaching maximum coverage of of the sun (90%) at 3:24 PM local time.  I took a small shipping box and punched a hole in the side with a thumbtack. It projected a very tiny, but totally sharp image of the moon covering the sun revealing only a small crescent of sunlight. Of course, this is New Jersey after all, and clouds came in for the actual moment of maximum eclipse. But I can say I saw it. This reminded me of the eclipse of 1972, when I had my 3" refractor telescope set up in the backyard, projecting a magnified image onto a white piece of cardboard.

A co-worker managed to snap this with his iPhone.

BTW, Sean Kutzko KX9X was doing some AM Broadcast Band DXing during the eclipse. He observed that during the maximum period of darkening at his QTH, he was able to hear AM stations from over 500 miles away, that he normally can only hear at night. The D Layer was definitely affected! He recorded the AM Band during the eclipse from start to finish and will go over it in detail over the next few weeks, in order to get a better feel as to how propagation was affected.

I saw on Facebook yesterday, where Alex PY1AHD of AlexLoop fame has become a Silent Key:

It is with extreme sadness and sorrow that I share the passing of our friend and colleague Alex Grimberg (PY1AHD), AlexLoop, due to his renowned work with magnetic loop antennas. Inestimable loss for Brazilian amateur radio, an enterprising and visionary colleague - We are all saddened.

I got word from my friend that he was encouraged by your comments regarding using a local WebSDR as a receiver. He was able to hear stations on 20 Meters via the Web that he was not able to hear on his K3, due to the solar panel noise. He made three successful QSOs on 20 Meters and will most likely use WebSDR for making contacts on 14 MHz and above. Thanks for your encouragement! I'm very happy for him - he had been disappointed (that's putting it mildly) with his situation. It's good to know he can be on the air again.

My KM4CMT EFRW UNUN kit was delivered yesterday. I hope to have it built and ready to go for "Amateur Radio Day At The Library" on April 20th. If I don't have it ready, I'll probably employ the PAR ENDFEDZ or perhaps the EARCHI EFRW that I already have in the backpack. It's not that the kit is a complicated build - far from it. It's a matter of finding time. The next few weekends are really filled up now that lawn mowing season has started up again.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, April 08, 2024

Another resource - QRP Builder

If you haven't heard about it, Ken WA4MNT has a great website QRPBuilder.com. He offers some neat items in kit form. One that has me especially intrigued is his QX1 antenna, which is an alternative to Elecraft's AX1 and AX2 antennas. I'm going to paste in Ken's description of the antenna:

The QX1 Antenna kit, is a small, ultra portable vertical 40m, 20-10m antenna with a male BNC connector and telescoping whip, rated at 20W. It is resonant on the whole 40m band with only a whip length adjustment. With a tuner, can be used on the 20m through 10m.

All the holes are pre-drilled and tapped. Assembly requires winding the coil, a little soldering, and some mechanical assembly. The tools required for assembly are a Phillips screwdriver, forceps or needle nosed pliers, wire cutters, soldering iron, and some rosin core solder. Depending on your experience, it can be assembled in about an hour. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 2.

The BNC Antenna Mount/Adapter kit is a versatile antenna mount with a nylon clamp included. This design allows small BNC terminated antennas to not mount on the output connector of the radio, but rather, with coax, to a more advantageous position. It is ideal for quick setup, field and SOTA operation. We have listed this as a separate kit because, some users already have an antenna like the Elecraft AX-1, MFJ-18xxT series, or similar homebrew antennas that are terminated with a male BNC connector. The strong clamp permits mounting to a apartment or patio railing, picnic table, or even a tree branch. There is a connection point for radials or a counterpoise with captive stainless steel hardware.

Assembly is easy and only the most common tools are needed and a 1/4″ drill. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 1.



I like my AX1, but I sure wish this had come out a few months ago. It's a much more affordable alternative, and with inflation the way it is nowadays, who doesn't need to stretch their $$$ as far as they can?

In addition to this nifty kit, Ken offers paddles, an audio amplifier kit and even a kit that will allow you to use normal earbuds/earphones on a crystal radio. Again, I'm not affiliated with QRP Builder in any way, shape, fashion or form; but when I see a site that offers items that I think you folks may be interested in, I'll showcase them here.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Cheating? Yay or Nay?

What say you?

I have a very good Ham friend who is in a dilemma.

He is a senior Ham, and a few years ago, he moved into his daughter and son-in-law's house after his wife passed away. He's always been active, having great stations and decent antennas when he had his own house. Not wishing to be a bother or an imposition, he has made a lot of sacrifices and compromises.

He's always had verticals, wires and even a tower and a yagi when the house was his and his wife's. However, now he has resorted to a GADS antenna - gutters and downspouts. That's not his problem. In fact, he's been quite pleased with that setup as it has allowed him to do a lot. He gets his share of DX and  stateside contacts, as well as ragchews.

The problem is the solar panel system that his daughter and son-in-law have installed on their roof. So much RFI is generated that he can only operate on 40 Meters and below. Starting at 20 Meters, there is so much garbage generated at regular intervals across the bands as to make them useless.

He's tried contacting the solar panel company, but as you might expect, they don't seem to be anxious to help, even though that's required by law. About a month ago, the problem disappeared and my friend was estatic. The letdown came a few weeks later when his daughter informed him that there was something wrong. Their provider wasn't giving them their discount for the electricity being pumped back into the system by the panels. They called the installer who rectified the situation, only to re-introduce the dreaded QRN that my friend thought was gone forever.

So I made a suggestion that he should use his laptop and use a webSDR receiver as his receiver. He'll still transmit like always, but for 20 Meters and higher he'd rely on receiving through an SDR receiver that is in his area. It's not 3 or 4 states away, it's local as far as radio is concerned.

He told me that he had thought of that, but as a Ham licensed for over 50 years, it feels like 'cheating" to him. It's not like he's contesting or anything, or trying to get a leg up on anyone else. I told him it's a matter of survival. And in this case, getting on the air this way isn't nefarious or under handed in any shape, way or form.

So what say you? Let me know what you think by posting a comment. My friend is a regular reader and I'd think he'd appreciate some opinions other than mine.

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

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Looking to increase your code speed?

The Flying Pigs QRP ARCI holds a two hour Sprint each 3rd Sunday of the month called "Run For The Bacon". They also hold two "contests" or operating events each month designed specifically for those you who would like to send and receive CW at a speed no higher than 13 WPM. Remember - the more on-the-air contacts you make, the more and more your code speed will increase!

Appropriately, these are called "Walk For The Bacon" and they are held on 20 and 40 Meters each month. Here are the particulars:

Walk For The Bacon (20 Meter Edition) AKA PigWalk20 CW Contest

This Is a 2 Hour (Total Time)  S L O W  CW Only Contest For 20 Meters Only

Part 1 Operating Window Starts Every Third Wednesday Night Of Every Month

(8-9 PM EDT) = (7-8 PM EST) = (0000Z - 0100Z)

Suggested Frequencies from 14061 to 14065 with 14063 the hot spot


Part 2 Operating Window Starts The Very Next Night

(10-11 PM EDT) = (9-10 PM EST) = (0200Z - 0300Z)

Suggested Frequencies from 14061 to 14065 with 14063 the hot spot

SIMPLE RULES:

Work CW stations only on 20 Meters only

Work the same stations on both days for double points

Maximum CW Speed is 13 WPM (Recommend using Farnsworth Method, maintaining 10-13 WPM or less)

Minimum Exchange: RST, SPC (State/Province/Country), Name and FP# (if a member)

QSO Points: Member = 3 points

QSO Points: Any DX = 5 points (Canada:US Contacts not considered DX)

QSO Points: Non-Member = 1 point

Contest Points = Total of all QSO points for both days.

Power: QRP only ( qrp defined as 5 watts or less RF transmitter output)

Suggest calling "CQ FP" or "CQ OINK.   "---..-.-.-" has a nice ring to it.

Submit your score to the Autolog page at http://qrpcontest.com/pigwalk20/autolog.php


Walk For The Bacon (40 Meter Edition) AKA PigWalk40 CW Contest

This Is a 2 Hour (Total Time)  S L O W  CW Only Contest For 40 Meters Only

Part 1 Operating Window Starts Every First Wednesday Night Of Every Month

(8-9 PM EDT) = (7-8 PM EST) = (0000Z - 0100Z)

Suggested Frequencies from 7050 to 7065 with 7060 the hot spot


Part 2 Operating Window Starts The Very Next Night

(10-11 PM EDT) = (9-10 PM EST) = (0200Z - 0300Z)

Suggested Frequencies from 7110 to 7125 with 7123 the hot spot

SIMPLE RULES:

Work CW stations only on 40 Meters only

Work the same stations on both days for double points

Maximum CW Speed is 13 WPM (Recommend using Farnsworth Method, maintaining 10-13 WPM or less)

Minimum Exchange: RST, SPC (State/Province/Country), Name and FP# (if a member)

QSO Points: Member = 3 points

QSO Points: Any DX = 5 points (Canada:US Contacts not considered DX)

QSO Points: Non-Member = 1 point

Contest Points = Total of all QSO points for both days.

Power: QRP only ( qrp defined as 5 watts or less RF transmitter output)

Suggest calling "CQ FP" or "CQ OINK.   "---..-.-.-" has a nice ring to it.

You can gander at the Autolog page for April 2024 at http://qrpcontest.com/pigwalk40/autolog.php

You DO NOT have to be a member of the Flying Pigs to join in on these events - but why wouldn't you want to?  How can you not like an organization whose motto is: "No Dues, No Rules, Just Fun - and if we don't like it we fix it!"

If you WOULD like to join, please visit: https://www.fpqrp.org/join.php

72 de Larry W2LJ es "oo" - FP# 612

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, April 05, 2024

Earthquake!

Rare second post for the day.



Lebanon, NJ, which was the epicenter, is just a mile or two down the road from work. New Jersey has experienced Earthquakes before, but they were mild. When I lived in East Brunswick, I lived on a road what saw a lot of truck traffic, so when we had Earthquakes, I thought it was just another 18 Wheeler going down our street.

This definitely got my attention! 

Quite an experience! The room started shaking at about 10:22 AM. I could actually hear the rumble - and I NEVER hear any outside noise in this storage room that they call my office. Some small lightweight objects on my desk fell over, but that was about it. The shaking lasted probably about 20 - 30 seconds or so. I highly doubt there was any major damage inside or to the building itself.

It sure gave everyone here at work a good scare!

But now I can say "I survived the great New Jersey Earthquake of 2024!" (Meanwhile folks in California are probably saying "Hold my beer!") And Monday has in store a near total solar eclipse? 

Signs of the times?



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

The weekend a cometh!

My weekly list of what's going on:

Contests:

Louisiana QSO Party - http://laqp.louisianacontestclub.org/laqso_rules.htm

SP DX Contest - https://spdxcontest.pzk.org.pl/2024/rules.php - The land of my ancestors! I'll be trying to work some Polish stations this weekend!

Mississippi QSO Party - https://www.arrlmiss.org/

Missouri QSO Party - http://www.w0ma.org/index.php/missouri-qso-party

Special Event Stations:

04/06/2024 | Eclipsefest 2.0

Apr 6-Apr 8, 1300Z-0300Z, K2BSA/9, Makanda, IL. Greater St Louis Area Council BSA. 7.190 14.290 24.960 3.940. QSL. Shawn Banks, 1713 S 22nd St, Herrin, IL 62948. Questions can be directed to K9PWW. To receive a QSL, send your QSL & SASE. www.qrz.com/db/k9pww

Last night was the final 80 Meter QRP Fox Hunt of the 2023-2024 Winter Season, and I was one of the two Foxes up in the batter's box, along with Randy NC4RT. 

It was a bit of a tough night for me as so far as I was dealing with an S5 noise level which seemed to increase as the night wore on. I guess as far as 80 Meters goes, we're well into the Spring atmospheric season with its accompanying elevated seasonal QRN.  The buzz was bad enough, so I'm glad that I didn't hear any nets come on the frequency to force me to QSY like my first go at this a few months back. The map above is a screenshot from the Reverse Beacon Network, which indicates where I was being heard. That last long path into the Southwest didn't appear until late into the hunt. I switched between the HF9V and the W3EDP several times last night and it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I wasn't noticing any marked difference in performance between the two. If anything, I pretty much stayed on the W3EDP for most of the Hunt.

In all, with counting Randy and myself as Foxes, I handed out 55 pelts, which I guess isn't terrible. I freely admit that I put myself at a disadvantage as I do not use N1MM. I am a fossil and I log with pen and paper and transfer my QSOs to AC Log later. I am not keyboard savvy enough to computer log while operating when the pace is anything faster than a casual ragchew. By not using N1MM, I can't (and don't want to) use macros to send exchanges. I send by hand and I'm sure that was painfully obvious last night as I was pretty beat after a long day at work. I took special care not to linger too long in one place (like the sofa) after dinner last night, in fear that I would zonk out and miss the Hunt altogether!

I'm pretty sure that come next Season, I'll hang out with the Hounds. I'm also pretty sure that if I look at my season ranking among Foxes for handing out pelts, I'm probably pretty close to the bottom if indeed, not the cellar dweller. The Hounds deserve a much better operator than my caliber. The only reason I volunteered this season was because there were gaps in the schedule that needed filling. Hopefully that won't be the case next year.

Oh! By the way, not that it matters, but that Duraflame space heater that I recently purchased did a FB job last night. I went down into the shack about 90 minutes before the Hunt and it was only 61F (16C). By the time the evening's event started, it had risen to a more comfortable 66F (18C). I'll take that any day of the week during the heating season.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, April 04, 2024

The internet - a double edged sword.

No doubt about it - the internet is a double edged sword. There's a lot of fake news, garbage, hate, bigotry and plain ol' vanilla stupidity to be found on it, and particular that's true for social media. But if you know where to look, there's a ton of golden nuggets to be found as well.

For as long as I've been writing this blog (20 years now), I've always had the blog role listed on the right side. There have been blogs that have come and blogs that have gone - but each one that I list, I think has value for those of us who love Amateur Radio, and in particular QRP, Morse Code and Portable Ops. By the way, if you know of any real good ones that have escaped my attention, please drop me an e-mail, or bring it to my attention in the comment box. I'm always open to adding to the list.

Just the other day, I added a list with links to YouTube video channels that I think are worthy of your time to pay attention to. I do not have the equipment or time to develop my own video channel and you wouldn't want to risk listening to my New Jersey voice for more than five minutes anyway. The ones I have listed are IMHO, quite excellent. I could never do a job that would even come close to what these guys have done and continue to do. The same thing goes for my offer about blogs - are there really good YouTube channels that I have missed? Let me know!

The last topic that I'm going to touch in this post is about Facebook. Facebook is the double edged sword within the double edged sword. There is so much garbage on there that if you look at it for any length of time, you'd swear your eyes were starting to bleed and you'd also swear you'd never darken the halls of Facebook again. Yet, if you give it a chance, there are so many good Facebook pages that offer so much good Amateur Radio information.

To do it justice, I think I'll have to open another box on the right with links - but for now I'm going to list several Facebook groups that I really enjoy and have found useful and worthy of my time:

Morse Code Fans - https://www.facebook.com/groups/2109567972673278

Parks On The Air (POTA) - https://www.facebook.com/groups/parksontheair

Amateur QRP Radio - https://www.facebook.com/groups/qrpradio

CW Bugs, Keys and Paddles - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1232401453542260

Wire Antennas for Amateur Radio - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1014226582804314

QRP 14.060 MHz - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1576444765759000

QRP Outdoor Radio - https://www.facebook.com/groups/676090859094874

There are so many more! If you truly think that Facebook is a vast desert wasteland, with no redeeming value whatsoever, and you swore to yourself you'd never bother with it - I'd ask you to just do a search on your favorite aspect of Amateur Radio - you're sure to find something. Granted, even some of what you'll find is garbage, but you'll also be pleasantly surprised by the good groups, as there's a lot of good information and ideas being passed back and forth.

And OK, one final, final topic. While we're on the subject of the "plus" side of the internet, it also allows for greater and widespread publicity of the operating evenrts and contests that we all enjoy so much. A case in point,  Paul NA5N put out the official announcement for QRP To The Field (QRPTTF), which will take place on Saturday, April 20th.

The annual QRP TO THE FIELD (QRPTTF) will be held SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2024  0800-1800 your LOCAL time (The 3rd Saturday in April).

RULES: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/pg.html (or http://www.zianet.com/QRP/  home page entry)

A few CHANGES and CLARIFICATIONS:

Operate from HOME, OUTBACK (your backyard) or in the FIELD

Scoring change: Bonus points for *working* OUTBACK or FIELD stations for a higher score.  SOTA and POTA stations worked count as a FIELD station.

KL7, KH6, KP4 and DX stations can work anytime they wish during the contest period for best local and time conditions.

Exchange is compatible with most logging programs.  Logging name optional.   

You may have to add up the Outback and Field stations worked manually.

Summary Sheets are a spreadsheet for calculating your score in both Microsoft Excel (.xls) or Open Office (.ods) formats.

Now to express my ignorance.  I do not have any Apple or Linux machines.  If you know of a program to convert between Excel and Apple NUMBERS, please let me know and I'll add the link to the rules webpage for Apple users.

Here in NM, it's been 73F one day, rain and snow the next.  Hopefully, we'll have a nice, warm Spring day for QRPTTF and favorable band conditions. QRPTTF is a fun day to get on the air and QSO fellow QRPers, old and new, at all skill levels, whether from your home shack or outside.  Not a 35wpm contest.  Chit-chat after the exchange is certainly allowed!

QRPTTF is administered strictly through QRP-L.

CU on QRPTTF,

72, Paul NA5N

Socorro, NM

______________________________________________________________________________________

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Seems I'm always late to the dance!

I'll see something that is "new" to me - only to see that it has been thoroughly reviewed and talked about by Tom K4SWL, Alan W2AEW and Mike K8MRD. This one has me enthused though, and you have all probably heard about it by now.  But if you're like me and you've missed the bus, here's an antenna solution that has me pumped up. The KM4CFT EFHW and EFRW.


Tom wrote it up on his excellent blog here - https://qrper.com/2023/11/tiny-efhw-and-efrw-kits-by-km4cft/

If you go on YouTube and search on KM4CFT, there are numerous videos about this antenna. Watching Mike's video shows how easy it is to build and use. I love antennas like this that are simple and are fast and easy to deploy. When you get to a park, POTA or just your local round-the block park, you want to operate and not waste precious minutes getting your aerial ready to go.

Remember the old Lays potato chips - "Betcha can't eat just one!"? Antennas are just like that - "Betcha can't have just one!"  Whenever SPARC holds an on-the-air event and the subject of antennas comes up, I always hear "Don't worry! Larry and Dave (KD2FSI) have everything we'll need." I'll be ordering one of these from eBay really soon to add to my antenna arsenal.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

World Amateur Radio Day - April 18th

From the ARRL:

World Amateur Radio Day is April 18, 2024

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is celebrated each year on April 18.

The theme for 2024 is, "A Century of Connections: Celebrating 100 Years of Amateur Radio Innovation, Community, and Advocacy." The global event covers all of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) regions and spans 2 days: Thursday, April 18, 2024, 0000 UTC to Friday, April 19, 2024, 0000 UTC.

On April 18, 1925, the IARU was formed in Paris and will celebrate its centenary in 2025. American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim was the organization's first president.

All radio amateurs are invited to take to the airwaves to enjoy the global friendship with other amateurs and to show their skills and capabilities to the public. WARD is not a contest but rather an opportunity to talk about the value of amateur radio to the public and fellow amateur colleagues. It is also a great opportunity to talk about local radio clubs and amateur radio in local media as a lead-up to ARRL Field Day, which is held each year during the fourth full weekend in June. You can also promote your personal WARD activities on social media platforms like X and Facebook by using the hashtag #WorldAmateurRadioDay.

For more ideas and information, visit World Amateur Radio Day (arrl.org).

________________________________________________________________________________________

And just one week later is International Marconi Day, as discussed in a previous post. A lot of radio and Amateur Radio history occurred in April!

In an unrelated topic, I saw this on YouTube: - something I've never heard of before.

This is really wild! I kind of wish this kind of thing had been available when I was studying for my Novice license back in 1978. I like to think it would have made that first ever QSO a little less nerve wracking. I distinctly remember finishing that QSO and being wiped out - but yet hungry for the next one.

Admittedly, there's nothing like making real life QSOs on the air to improve your CW skills, but if you want to learn good sending technique BEFORE you have your ticket, this is a neat way to legally do it! Purchasing that adapter and hooking up either paddles or a key to the laptop seems to be the way to go. Using the [ and ] keys is clunky at best and takes a bit getting used to  It's fun to play around with using the two keyboard keys, but even in simulated QSOs, nothing would beat a real straight key, cootie or paddles.

I can think of a couple of instances where this bot would really come in handy. One would be for practising sending Morse with a bug. I don't use my Vibroplex often enough to be proficient with it and I hate to put anyone through the torture of listening to me shake the rust off. This would be the perfect tool for that!  I can't tell you how many times I hear really poor CW on the bands because someone is using a bug - badly. I don't want to be one of those guys!

The other instance would be as a Morse Code demonstration device. SPARC is doing "Amateur Radio at the Library" on Saturday, April 20th at a library in the neighboring town of Piscataway. I think folks might get a kick out of sending code to the bot. I did order one of those USB interfaces and will bring my laptop in addition to setting up an actual CW station. If the bands are cruddy or dead, all will not be lost.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, April 01, 2024

New AX1 holder/stand

I have to be 100% honest, with you, my readers. When I did that activation of K-1635 Washington Rock State Park a few weekends ago, I was less than enthused with Elecraft's bipod holder for the AX1. Maybe I didn't set it up correctly, but it seemed a little bit wobbly and wonky to me. That plastic clip that holds the antenna is tight and secure for now; but after repeated use, I can't but help think that it's going to loosen up and become less secure. Elecraft does supply an additional one at the time you purchase the bipod, but ultimately, I think the contact area between antenna and clip is a not enough to be effective over the long run. ESPECIALLY when you add on the 40 Meter extender - there's just too much mass to rely on that little clip doing the job all on its lonesome.

Sometime during that next week, while thinking if I could come up with a better solution myself, a little voice in my head said "Google is your friend".  I proceeded to Google "AX1 antenna holder" and that led me to https://tufteln.com/ which is owned and operated by Joshua Ellis, N5FY. it was there that I saw and purchased his idea of what an AX1 holder should be. His solution was a lot more elegant than anything I could dream up.

It's a product of 3d printing. The selling price was quite reasonable and shipping was faster than I would have expected. If you're like me, and you're not quite 100% satisfied with the Elecraft solution, do yourself a favor and go over to Josh's webpage. Besides this antenna holder, he has a variety of nifty products with the portable operator in mind.

It comes in two pieces for easy storage:

The cylindrical upright piece is threaded, as is the hole in the base. This is not a press-fit combo that will wear out after many uses. The two pieces screw together to mate securely.

This is what it looks like with the antenna in place. I like that the antenna is supported for a good length and not by that single contact point at the connector assembly.

In actual practice, I find it easiest to mount the antenna to the KX3 first and then slide on the holder.


The back right leg of the KX3 actually rests on the base, which adds to the stability. And the stand/holder disassembles easily enough and fits nicely in that zippered case that I acquired for the AX1.

Disclaimer - I have no connection with Josh, or TUFTELN.US - I'm just a satisfied customer and think that some of you out there might like his solution as well.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!