Saturday, August 30, 2014

HV0A

It was once again a busy Saturday.  I rewarded myself with a bit of radio time in between mowing the lawn and starting dinner.  I hadn't looked at the contest calendar beforehand and had no idea if the bands would be full of ravenous contesters, so I headed off to the relative quiet of the WARC bands.

Holy pileup, Batman!

There was a H U G E pileup just above 18.077 MHz.  Some listening revealed that it was indeed a "holy pileup" as the quarry of the hunt was HV0A - Vatican City. And he was loud - very loud! In 36 years of Ham Radio, this was about the second or third time that I have ever heard the Vatican on the air. I have never worked them before.


But today, with them being that loud (599+), I felt I stood a chance. In case you're wondering, wonder no more.  My QRP sensibilities took a backseat and I pumped up the KXPA100 to its full 100 Watt setting. How many times have I heard the Vatican?  Again, only once or twice before - it's rare for them to be on the air, for me to be home at the same time, and for propagation to be so favorable.  I wasn't about to let some false sense of QRP Pride get in the way of getting a rare and new country in the log.

The operator was smooth and was handling the pileup quickly and efficiently. Operating split, he was running a standard racetrack pattern. He was listening slightly higher up after each QSO until he reached a certain frequency and then began listening down unilt he reached a frequency about 1 kHz above where he was transmitting. The he began listening up again, starting the whole cycle over again. Almost exacty like trying to work any of the ARRL Centennial stations - once I figured out his pattern and approximately how much higher he moved after each QSO, I made my plan to "get in his way". After about 6 or 7 attempts, I got in the log. If I ever hear the Vatican this loud again, then next time will be a QRP attempt, this time I'm just fat, dumb and happy.

According to the CW Ops e-mail reflector, the operator was Robert S53R, CW Op #492.  Whomever, he was, he was good!

This is one QSL card that will be framed and hung on the shack wall, once I receive it.

Still stoked!

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


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Did you participate in Field Day 2014

and submit a log to the ARRL?


You can check to make sure they received it, and if there were any discrepancies with the class/category that you claimed.

Go to: http://www.arrl.org/news/2014-arrl-field-day-logs-received-list-available-for-review

Scroll way down to the bottom of the page and download the PDF.

Even though we got an e-mail confirmation when our log was submitted, I double checked to see if the log for NJ2SP was there. You can call me paranoid, but I just wanted to make sure our inaugural Field Day effort gets counted amongst the masses.

It's there.

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

Good lunchtime DX session

When I left the house this morning for work, it was all of 52F (11C), which is very cool for New Jersey this time of year.  Also, I noticed on the drive in that many of the trees already have leaves that are turning yellow and orange, and many trees have started dropping their leaves. Again, that is something we are accustomed to seeing at the end of September, not August.

But the day heated up, and by lunchtime it was 84F (29C). Quite a warm up!  And fortunately, it wasn't only the air temperature that had gotten hot. 17 and 15 Meters were hopping and hot - well, maybe not as hot as a few months ago, but hotter than just a few weeks ago. The sunspot number had risen to 128 making conditions better than they have been in days. I'll take it!

I worked 9Y4/AI5P on Trinidad/Tobago, RI4CWC/3 in Russia and PI4DX in the Netherlands, all on 17 Meters.  The thought then occurred to me that if 17 Meters was working so well, then 15 Meters might be worth looking at.  It was, and after switching over, I worked OQ4U in Belgium and SP2GUB in Poland.  All the stations on both bands had excellent signal strengths and I got decent reports back, the lowest being 559.

I don't know how long these good band conditions will be able to maintain themselves. The way the Sun is throwing fits and starts, it may not be for that long.  But if you get a chance, get on the air and make hay while the opportunity presents itself!

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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Final Scores and Soapbox

Well, the deadline for log summaries for the 2014 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt has come and gone. The NJQRP Club offers a hearty and well deserved "Thank You!" to all who participated. Thanks also for your enthusiasm which helps keep this event going from year to year. We're growing by little bits, and with your help, we aim to make the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt a "must have / must do" outdoor QRP event for summers to come!

So without further ado - the top five finishers are:

1st Place - KX0R - George - 20,680 points
2nd Place - N3AQC - The North American QRP CW Club Team - 13,368 points
3rd Place - N3CU - Ken - 12,717 points
4th Place - N0SS - The Mid-MO Amateur Radio Club Team - 8,836 points
5th Place - WA0ITP - Terry - 6,232 points

Certificates of Achievement will be received by these fine Skeeters, as well as by those who finished top for their state or province, as well as the top finishers in the SSB and Mixed categories. The top "Non-Skeeter" will receive one as well.

To see the Scoreboard and the Soapbox comments, please see the links to those pages at http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/

Thanks again and hope to catch you on the air for the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint this September!

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rectifying

And I'm not talking about changing AC to DC.

As predicted, I have received some comments over at AmateurRadio.com, regarding the immediately preceding "Bug Fist" post.  As I've stated there, and will state here again (for the record) that post was NOT intended to be about folks who are learning how to send Morse Code as a beginner.  That post was supposed to be about people who know how to send good code - but don't, because they don't use a bug correctly.

But to answer a question posed over there. How does one learn to send good code in the first place?

Good question.

Back in the day - back in my day, the FCC had a very nice program in place. It was called the United States Amateur Radio Novice License.  It was our gateway.  We learned to receive Morse Code at 5 WPM.  We were restricted to "Novice sub bands".  You say that sounds like a curse?  Heck no! It was heaven!  Imagine trying to learn how to ride a bike with other kids on the playground zooming around on ten-speeds, mountain bikes, scooters and what have you.  We had a little area, set aside for us, where we could zip around on our training wheels.  As we rode and rode (made QSOs) we built up our confidence and eventually shed our training wheels, and we upgraded. Oh, in the process, we fell off our bikes, and got our knees and elbows bloodied along the way. But we learned!

But as they say, "Them days are gone forever." So what's a new Ham who wants to get on HF CW supposed to do?

Several things, actually.

I am going to assume you have learned the basic Morse Code character set and that you can receive at a speed of about 5 WPM.  If you haven't, you need to do that.  But here's an important point - if you've learned CW, whether it be from W1AW or whatever software program - you already know what good code sounds like!  You will also know, conversely, what bad code sounds like. Your assignment is to send good code.

This is where code practice oscillators come in to play.  They weren't invented just to teach people how to learn to receive Morse Code, they were also invented to teach people how to send Morse Code. If you have one, fine. If you don't - get one. Or ..... you can go to your rig, and turn off the VOX while in the CW mode. This should give you a nice, big, fancy and expensive code practice oscillator. Use it. Use it a lot until you are comfortable and can send Morse Code without really have to think about forming the characters too much. As I stated over at AmateurRadio.com - use a tape recorder, or the voice recorder on your cell phone and record your sending.  If you can decode what you are sending, then other people will be able to, also.  If you listen to your fist and find yourself going, "What?!?", then you probably aren't ready and need to practice more. It's OK to send slowly, but accurately. Personally, I would rather listen to someone sending slowly, but correctly, rather than listening someone trying way too hard, too fast, too soon, who leaves me scratching my head. (Pssst! This is why the FISTS motto is "Accuracy transcends speed.")

Once you are reasonably confident in your sending skills, you can get on the air.  The Novice subbands don't really exist anymore, but you can find some slower folks hanging around together around 7.125 MHz. The FISTS and SKCC frequencies also good places to hang - from around .050 to .058.  You can ply your newly discovered skills there among friends. Don't be intimidated!  Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Remember, we're not looking for a cure for cancer or cardiovascular disease here. We're supposed to be having fun. Don't obsess and don't put yourself down. We were all beginners once, and we all had to start somewhere.

I'm going to warn you. Your first half dozen or so QSOs will be a bit nerve wracking. Best thing to do is write down ahead of time a "canned QSO".  Just follow the script and before you know it, you'll feel more and more comfortable and will no longer need the script.  If you try to make a QSO every day, before you know it, you'll come to recognize the experience you have gained.  Your speed will increase and you will really come to enjoy this new mode you have set out to learn.

Another word of caution. There will be jerks! Sorry ..... there's nothing I can do about that. Just as on the highway, there's always that idiot that has to zoom in and out of lanes at 75 MPH, you're also going to run into jerks that think 40 WPM is beneath them and will not slow down for anyone - God included. If I may get Biblical here without offending anyone ...."Just shake their dust from your feet and go onto the next village."  The speed demons who won't QRS for anyone are not worth your time or effort. I've been in this game for 36 years now, and I run into my share, too.  To this day, I have to ask myself why guys send at around 55 WPM in contests only to have to repeat their exchanges multiple times, because we mere mortals can't copy their "buzz saw" CW.

Conversely ..... should you answer a CQ, do not, under any circumstances, start sending faster than you are comfortable receiving!  I know, we all have a tendency to do this, but it is going to get you into trouble.  You are going to get yourself into a terrible experience that will make you want to run away from Morse Code forever.  Any dedicated CW op worth his salt will slow down (QRS) for a newbie. Do not be afraid to ask someone to "QRS PSE?", either. We don't know for sure that your uncomfortable unless you tell us.  Sometimes, we more experienced CW ops assume too much, too.

I think I covered everything and I hope this helps those of you who are newer out there and are struggling to learn the CW ropes. If you have any questions, pop something into the comments box or send me an e-mail. I will try to help in any way I can.

There's an old joke where a stranger asks a cabbie in NY how to get to Carnegie Hall. The cabbie replies "Practice!".  If you want to get good at the Morse Code game, it's going to take lots of practice. No way around it, but it doesn't have to be a chore or unpleasant. Have fun and enjoy yourself!

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

This post is going to get me into trouble!

John KK4ITN left a comment on my post "Conditions" over at AmateurRadio.com. Here's a line from it:

"Seems when the bands are down every person with a ‘bug’ is out calling cq. Wish they would put code oscillators and dummie loads on sale. Dits at 20 wpm and dahs at 5 wpm."

I guess it's not directly related to band conditions, and I'm not sure that John's claim is 1,000,000% accurate, however - he makes an excellent point.

Not to dump on bug users, because I have a bug. I like using a bug. Using a straight key makes the arthritis in my hands go "Hey! Stop that!" But unless I've practiced with my bug (off the air) for a while .... my sending can be pretty bad.  So I try to make it a point to take the KX3 "off the air" and practice sending with my bug on a regular basis.  Not as regularly as I should, but I try to keep in decent practice.

I agree with John and I would posit that listening to someone use a bug (or even a straight key or paddles, for that matter), who doesn't know how to use it properly, is akin to listening to nails being scratched across a blackboard. NB: For any younger readers, a blackboard is what we used in school before the advent of whiteboards and smartboards.  If you scrape your fingernails across the surface of a blackboard, it makes a sound unlike anything you've ever heard. It literally hurts to listen to it.  It will make your teeth ache. There's something about human fingernails and slate that just don't mix. Listening to someone scratch a balloon is almost as bad. But .... I digress.

The phrase, "Dits at 20 wpm and dahs at 5 wpm" resonated with me.  Morse Code sent like that is not only unreadable - even worse, it's unbearable.  No one is asking that all Morse be sent so that it sounds like it's coming from a keyer or a computer - but for Pete's sake - at least make sure your sending is copyable!

I would suggest that anyone who is inclined to use a bug perform this little exercise.  Send some Morse and record it, either with a tape recorder (do they still make those?), or, I believe most smartphones have a voice recorder feature. Do it off the air. Either send your RF into a dummy load or turn off your "VOX" - that usually will put your rig into code practice oscillator mode.

Send some Morse, listen to it, and copy what you sent. Be honest and critical with yourself. If you can honestly copy what you've sent, then you're probably good enough to go live. It might even be a good idea to wait a day or two between the sending part and the listening to yourself part - just in order to make it a bit more objective.

I can tell you for a fact, that I have done this - I have listened to my own bug fist - and have said, "Oh my!".  It was a rude, but necessary awakening. I am totally glad that I did not subject my fellow Hams to what I had thought was decent sending.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRELIMINARY 2014 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Results

Here are a couple links to the PRELIMINARY 2014 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt results:

Scoreboard:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1odmnlTAnQST7FgsEnsItHaT_ZO0e8yZpzLqxcsyGRkY/edit#gid=1768430587

Soapbox:

http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%207

I state again - these are preliminary results!  The deadline for submitting summaries is this coming Saturday evening at Midnight, as we roll into Sunday EDT.

I am hoping that by publishing these preliminary results, more participants will send in their log summaries, sending all the results askew and making more work for me - seriously!  The more log summaries, the better! It would be wonderful if everyone who participated, sent in a log summary. I know that's a long shot, but hey, I can hope - can't I?

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

Oh, how I hope they're wrong!

For my USA readers, I don't know how many of you put stock into the Farmer's Almanac, but here's a link to an Associated Press article about their "long-term" USA weather forecast for the end of 2014 and for 2015.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OLD_FARMERS_ALMANAC?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-08-20-15-08-00

I've never heard the term "refriger-nation" bandied about before. I know it's kind of a fluff piece, but I sure hope they are wrong!  And you may well be wondering - "How does this relate to Amateur Radio, Larry?"

My answer:


I don't think any of us want to see this kind of occurrence taking place, as simple wires and verticals can be affected just as adversely.  I know there's that old adage, "If your antenna made it through the Winter, then it's too small." But really, who wants to deal with antenna problems in single digit temperatures or in ice and snow?  I know some guys who actually relish it.  I, for one, don't.

UPDATE:  I sure hope this gentleman never runs into ice storms! (Tip o' the hat to W3BBO for the link.)

 http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~kan1/newmonsterantenna2.html

Imagine hooking up your QRP radio to THAT baby!

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

Kit builder link alert!

Thanks and kudos to Jim W4QO (QRP HOFer, I might add!) for posting this link to the NoGA QRP e-mail reflector yesterday.  I never saw these kits, or this provider before, but they look neat and affordable.

http://www.breadboardradio.com/breadboardradio/Products.html

Of course, W2LJ is not connected with the above provider, in any way. Just attempting to do my bit to keep kit building healthy and vibrant! Who knows? One of them just might fulfill a need, or strike your fancy.

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Neat photo found on Facebook


This is an aerial view of the summit of Mt. Prospect, which is up in the Adirondacks right beside Lake George. I usually operate in the QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint from up there. It's not a SOTA peak, but the view is fantastic!

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

Change of heart

Kind of.

I have been approached (privately) by several people, asking me to reconsider yanking my blog from AmateurRadio.com.

Matt W1MST and I have come up with a solution where SOME of my posts will be mirrored there. I will determine which ones, and I will add a "AmateurRadio.com" tag to the selected posts so that he, or his software will know which can be used. (This should NOT be one of them.  If this appears there, then we have some work to do.)

The ones that I feel are not worthy of enough "general interest" will not be posted there. So please check here from time to time, as there will undoubtedly be more content here than there. Particularly posts dedicated strictly to QRP and anything that I deem to be possibly too "annoying", as it was so adroitly put to me by the original quibbler(s).

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ol' Sol slowing down?

Looks like we're headed directly for a period of minimal solar activity:



And here's a related article from the Helsinki Times:

http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/themes/themes/science-and-technology/11590-hundred-year-period-of-increased-solar-activity-coming-to-end.html

The video was brought to my attention by Don K2DSV.  IF the hypothesis of the video is correct, lower ionospheric activity would be the least of our worries.

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

Getting there

As opposed to probably a majority of you, I am SO far behind the times from a technological point of view.  I still do a majority of my logging with paper and pencil before I manually enter the information to my logging software.

When it comes to QRP Sprints or the Fox Hunts, most of my compatriots use N1MM or some such program.  Again, I still use paper and pencil. I feel that I am lucky to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Operating a radio and trying to computer log simultaneously during a Sprint or a Hunt used to send shivers up and down my spine.

But I am getting better.  As long as I am not furiously trying to keep up with a pileup of QSOs in the midst of a frenzy during a Sprint or a Hunt, I have trained myself to log and operate at the same time (See? You CAN teach old dogs new tricks!). I recently purchased a small keyboard for my Nexus 7, so that I can log during casual portable ops without the need for pencil and paper. It cost me all of 8 smackers on eBay.


That's Ham Log that I keep on there, which in and of itself is a great piece of logging software for Android. The problem was that it's always been a pain in the butt to use the Nexus touchpad keyboard, which caused me to "one-finger" type, and slowed me down, holding me back.  So for the longest time, I was doing the same thing - logging on paper and entering the data later, at my leisure (which makes no sense). This "tactile feel" keyboard brings a lot of familiarity and works a whole lot better for me, and now I am actually able to use the Nexus 7 for logging in real time (sometimes).  I know that it's pathetic, but while I am able to use this setup for general QSOing, the melee of contests or Fox Hunts drives me back to the security of "old technology".

I guess the next step will be to install the KX3 Companion app.  Boy, that will be like Star Trek for me!

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

Think I wlll meet the deadline

I have imposed a deadline for myself with regards to Skeeter Hunt results. I want to have both the "scorecard" and the soapbox published to the Skeeter Hunt website this coming Sunday, after the log submissions deadline.

The "scorecard" itself is a piece of cake.  It's simply an Excel spreadsheet that I have composed, with formulas that do all the menial calculating chores for me.  I simply plug in the values and the spreadsheet calculates the final score for me. I will upload the completed spreadsheet to Google Sheets and it will be available for all to see on the Web, once it's completed. This was a good exercise for me, as I was very weak with regards to using formulas in Excel. I'm still no expert by any means, but I know a lot more than I used to, which was practically nil.

The soapbox page is another animal.  That is "simple" HTML composition, but it's more time intensive. I have about one half of the soapbox comments and pictures placed on the unpublished Web page.  At the rate I am going, if I can add about 5 more soapbox comments to the page each evening, over the next 4 or 5 evenings, it will be ready for publishing on time.

All this leads me to a worrisome discovery.  This year we had a record number of Skeeters sign up.  But I am lagging behind in receiving log summaries. Last year I received a total of 71 summaries. As of this minute, I have only received 54. I guess a "Que Sera, Sera" attitude is in order, but I sure would love to see more log summaries submitted.

It's very important to me that these results get published on time this coming Sunday.  You folks are kind enough to participate, and I know how much you like to see results.  I do myself!  It's not so important for me to see where I place, I want to see how my friends did, what their setup looked like, and I like to read about the fun they had.  The results and soapbox are a crucial part of any of these "special" QRP events, in my most humble opinion.  No one wants to make an effort and then wait months or more to see how things stacked up.

So, God willing and the creek don't rise, you'll see the finished results this Sunday at www.qsl.net/w2lj
I am just hoping I get a few more log summaries and soapbox comments before then.

And then the final phase will begin, which is the certificates.  I have to give myself more time for those, but hopefully, everyone who will qualify for one will have it by the end of September.

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

Conditions

It's evident that we are now on the down side of the peak of Cycle 24.  For the most part, I have had superb conditions for working DX during my lunch time QRP sessions for the past 17 months. DX has been plentiful, with good signals and decent RSTs on both ends. 17, 15 and sometimes even 12 Meters have been happy hunting grounds.  There have even been smatterings of openings on 10 Meters, which is not often the case during the 1700-1800 UTC weekday time frame.

I still hear DX signals on 17 Meters, but they're not as strong or as plentiful as they were. 15 Meters is nowhere near as nice as it was just a few months ago.  It wasn't so long ago that I was working three or four different DX stations during my lunch break - and it seemed like all areas of the world were open at the same time! I think that the days of working the world "with 5 Watts to a wet string" are just about over - as far as Cycle 24 is concerned, anyway.

With band conditions changing, it seems that lately, more and more of my lunch QSOs have been domestic - not that there's anything wrong with that!  Today, I was saved from being shut out at lunchtime by Jim K4AHO, who answered my CQ on 20 Meters.  We had a nice chat that was not only 2X QRP, but was also 2X KX3.  Jim was using a dipole and I was using the Buddistick, of course.  QSB was a bit of a nuisance. At the fading's worst, Jim was 459, and at best he was 579 (which he was for most of the QSO).

In addition to the declining ionospheric conditions, the weather here in New Jersey this Summer has been less "Summer-y" than I was looking forward to.  Take this morning for instance. When I woke up this morning, the thermometer was displaying an outdoor temperature of 52F (11C).  Very strange for August 18th.  That's almost unheard of, any other year. On the whole, it's been an average to dry Summer and the temperatures have been down and the humidity has been way down compared to the past three or four Summers.  The number of days that we have reached or have gone above 90F (32C), can be counted on both hands. There have not been many hazy, humid, hot days (The Dog Days of Summer) this year at all.

The weather people on TV have been saying that we are experiencing is an "average" Summer for this part of the country. The past few have been hotter than normal, so that's why this one feels so strangly cool. After the Winter we had last year, I was really looking forward to the heat.  I guess there's still time for us to get some hot days, but I saw on the AccuWeather.com website that the Northeast and the upper Midwest are supposed to experience a Polar Vortex in mid September, bringing along temperatures closer to what we might expect in mid to late November. Brrrrrr.


The other day, while walking my beagle Harold, I noticed the oak trees in the neighborhood are already shedding their acorns. That's not a great sign as the trees did the same thing around this time last year and we had a terrible Winter.  Normally, the acorns don't start falling until mid to late September around these parts.  The squirrels will have extra time to store up food for the Winter, and we'll probably have another long, cold one.  Oh well, at least conditions on 160 and 80 Meters will probably be good. You always have to look for the silver lining and try not to think about the heating bill!

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Skeeter Hunt Log Summaries

So far, I have received Skeeter summaries from the following:

WD4EXI
N4EWT
W3ATB
WA1GWH
K4ARQ
NA3V
WD8RIF
WB8ENE
N0YET
N2JJF
KB1PBA
K1SWL
K4YND
KQ2RP
K0ALN
WA4PIG
K0RGI
VE3XT
K2ULR
N4KGL
WA8REI
AD4S
K4UPG
WI2W
N1LT
W1PID
K2WO
K2AL
WB3GCK
WH6LE
WD4MSM
NQ2W
K2TD
AB4QL
N1ABS
AI4SV
W3BBO
K3RLL
AB9CA
WV0H
K7TQ
W4MPS
WA0ITP
N0SS
KX0R

If you don't see your call there, I need to hear from you! Remember, log summaries are due NO LATER than 12:00 Midnight Saturday August 23/Sunday August 24.  At that time, results are frozen and we will go with what has been received. Summaries follow this example:

Larry - W2LJ - NJ
Skeeter #4 - All CW
Skeeter QSOs - 23
Non-Skeeter QSOs - 5
DX QSOs - (if any)
S/P/Cs - 18
Station Class Multiplier X4
"SKEETER" Bonus - 100 points (and here is where you would list the callsigns of the stations you worked that qualify you for the bonus points),

I'm trying to keep current with this and am composing the Soapbox now so I can post the results as quickly as I can after next weekend.

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

Patience pays off

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you been able to practice it? If you're like me, you know it .... you believe it ..... but find it oh, so hard to put into practice. Last night was a case in point where I toughed it out (yeah, like it was really tough) and was rewarded.

In particular, I am talking about the 20 Meter QRP Foxhunt.  The two Foxes were Jim N0UR in Minnesota and Dave N1IX in New Hampshire.  I managed to work Jim N0UR rather quickly and easily, pretty early into the 90 minute hunt.  Minnesota has always been a pretty easy hop from New Jersey. The challenge on the other hand would be working Dave N1IX. The distance between New Jersey and New Hampshire is rather short for 20 Meters, especially when you can hear European Hams coming in rather loudly on the same band. One one shoulder sat the little devil, telling me "You're never going to work him. New Hampshire is too close".

The angel on the other shoulder was saying "Have patience, you'll work him".

The little devil countered, "You've had a long day, you're tired, it's late. Go to bed."

The little angel whispered, "Good things come to those who wait".

With about 11 minutes remaining in the hunt, I was finally able to hear Dave. I knew where he was (from locating the pack trying to work him) and I could JUST BARELY make him out, calling "CQ FOX". But he was ESP, maybe sub-ESP. I thought for sure it was going to be a one-fer for the night. The mattress and pillow were calling my name. However, it seems the angel won the war.

Then with about four minutes to go, and my butt still in the chair, Dave became about 579. I could not believe my ears!  For 86 minutes, almost nothing and now he was as clear as a bell!  With two minutes to go, he got up to 599 and we made the exchange and I bagged both pelts for the night.

There must have been a nice, big airplane in the sky on the way to, or out of Boston; half way between NH and NJ that must have re-directed our radio waves to each other!  :-)

It's so easy to give up and succumb to the temptation of going to bed, or watching TV, or perhaps reading a book instead of staying in the chair, waiting, and getting the QSO done and in the log.  I wonder if this experience will remain in my memory banks long enough for the next time I'm in a pileup and I'm tempted to cave in and call it quits early.

Knowing human nature and knowing me ...... I'm not so sure!    ;-)

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


Thursday, August 14, 2014

SP3RN

Father Maximilian Kolbe SP3RN died on this date in 1941.


Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish priest who died as prisoner 16670 in Auschwitz, on August 14, 1941. When a prisoner escaped from the camp, the Nazis selected 10 others to be killed by starvation in reprisal for the escape.

One of the 10 selected to die, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry: "My wife! My children! I will never see them again!" At this Father Kolbe stepped forward and asked to die in his place - his request was granted.

As the ten condemned men were led off to the death Block of Building 13, Father Kolbe supported a fellow prisoner who could hardly walk. No one would emerge alive - Father Kolbe was the last to die, when he was given an injection of carbolic acid to stop his heart.

Kolbe was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity.  He is the only canonized saint to have held an amateur radio license, with the call sign SP3RN.

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

So long for now ..... sort of!

So long for now, sort of!

I have decided to ask Matt W1MST, the Editor at AmateurRadio.com to end the mirroring of this blog there.  I know this may appear to be kind of sudden, but actually, this has been a decision that I have been trying to discern since this past Easter.

The content of this blog is mostly about QRP and CW as you all know. So actually, I do cater to a rather small niche in the Amateur Radio world, and the things of which I write are not of interest to everyone - or even a large portion of everyone.  In addition, I have also been known to throw in random posts here and there that are of a religious or political nature, when the mood strikes me.  And I also regale my readers with my wacky sense of humor now and then.  They say that writers should write about what they know best, and that's what I try to do - and at this stage of my life, I'm not going to change that.

That's fine for people who actually come to w2lj.blogspot.com looking for that kind of thing.  They know what they're in for when they walk through my door. But to be foisted upon folks coming to a "general interest" Amateur Radio site?  I think maybe not so much.

So, AmateurRadio.com readers, if you like my ramblings - please feel free to come to w2lj.blogspot.com at anytime, 24/7/365.  The door is always open and you'll always be welcome. And per chance, should you not like what you see there - you're always free to "change the channel".

My thanks to Matt W1MST and AmateurRadio.com for the continued support over the past few years. Matt has been a most gracious host, ever since he asked my permission to mirror this blog over there. Certainly, the service he offers to the Amateur Radio community is a treasure. I will continue to keep the link to AmateurRadio.com active and open in my blog roll.  I hope you'll feel free to bounce back and forth between us.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not often

that I link to an article written for eHam, but here's a really good one written by Ron KA3J:

http://www.eham.net/articles/32380

It regards Technicians (or any new Hams for that matter, CW and QRP - relevant topics for this blog!) And just to let you know how good it is, up to this point in time, Ron has not been heckled in the commbox!

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