Monday, April 21, 2014

Another one got away

Band conditions seem to have deteriorated lately. Bob W3BBO and I were discussing this on Saturday. The upper bands, 10, 12, 15 Meters still have signals on them, but they seem to be not as plentiful and nowhere as strong as they were just a month or six weeks ago. Just after the cold weather broke here in NJ and I resumed my QRP sessions, it seemed like each lunchtime from the car netted 3 our 4 or even 5 DX stations per sitting.

Lately, those kind of band conditions seem to have disappeared. Signals are fewer and weaker. But today was a case of the one that got away. I was tuning up and down the bands and heard JY9CF on 12 Meters. He was kind of loud and was calling "CQ USA ONLY". I tried, and wasn't being heard. But I did have time, as I heard him early on during lunch hour and he was getting louder. I figured giving just a little bit more time, I just might have nabbed him. However, many non-USA stations began calling, and the operator was getting frustrated as a few times he sent, "PLS LSN USA ONLY". As his signal strength to me increased, so did his frustration. Finally he announced he was going QRT.

Rats! My gut was telling me that with a just a bit more time ...... maybe. I am pretty certain that if I was home and had the shack KX3 fired up to the 75/100 Watt neighborhood, that I would have garnered a new country. It seems that 5 Watts and the Buddistick just didn't cut it today, even though the JY9 station was the loudest I have ever heard here.

On the bright side, I did have a short QSO with Jim N0UR on 20 Meters. I have worked Jim in many Sprints and many QRP Fox hunts. It was good to hook up with him in an "everyday QSO" situation. Jim was running 4 Watts from his Flex1500 and he was a good, solid 579 here into New Jersey (when QSB wasn't kicking in).

BTW, Paul NA5N has announced the theme for this year's QRPTTF - "Tres de Mayo" considering how close this year's event is to Cinco de Mayo.  I have already decided what I am going to do to be "in theme" - but I am NOT sharing until after the event.  All the rules can be found here: http://www.zianet.com/qrp/qrpttf/2014/ttf.htm

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday - 2014


This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen! Alleluia!

For the Lamb who was slain at the hands of evil men has risen, never to die again. And those who the Lamb claims as His own share in His victory over death. Amen! Alleluia!

May the peace of the Lord, which is beyond all human understanding, be with you and your families, this day and forever more. Amen! Alleluia!

Fish sa'id
Felices Pasques
Fu huo jie kuai le
Sretan Uskrs
Vesele Velikonoce
God paske
Gelukkig Paasfest 
Joyeuses Paques
Frohe Ostern
Chag pesach same'ach
Buona Pasqua
Linksmu Velyku
Priecigas Lieldienas
Wesolego Alleluja
Schtsjastlivyje Paschi
Felices Pascuas
Milostiplne prezitie Velkonocnych sviatkov
Vesele velikonocne praznike
Khrystos voskres

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday


The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.

Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.”

Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday 2014




What makes Good Friday good?” you ask.
A challenge! A rather daunting task.
Some may dismiss it with a shrug and a smirk,
And consider it another day off work.
Others, religious, pious as such,
Take a few minutes for a mournful watch;
Merchants unlock their doors with glee,
Anticipating the pre-Easter shopping spree.
A bunny here, a chocolate egg there,
Symbols of a society that doesn’t care.
“Care?” you say, “Do you mean me?”
“What’s there to care; how can this be?”
It’s the cross, you forget, that rugged wood,
That makes Good Friday eternally good.
What’s so good about the death of an ancient man,
Who died long before my life began?
This man, who on this earth once trod,
Was not only man, but the Son of God.
That wood, that tree, that old rugged cross,
Was the symbol of gain and the symbol of loss.
To those who believe, it is the promise of gain;
The hope that, like Jesus, we’ll rise again!
For the skeptic, the doubter, the meaning is loss;
An eternal gulf, which no one can cross.
Good Friday is good, because of the death
Of Jesus the Savior, who gave His last breath
So you, friend, and I, could be cleared of our guilt,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb that was spilt.
Mourn not, my dear soul, for the death of the Lamb,
For that cross made the bridge to the Great I AM.
Christ paid the price, rose again to God’s side,
And brought us next Sunday: the Resurrection-tide!

~by Alan Allegra~

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Figuring the numbers

As you all know from reading this blog, my main interests in Amateur Radio are QRP, CW, portable ops and DX.  I don't consider myself a hardcore DXer.  I will look for it, I will work it when I hear it, but I'm not one of those guys that has the Cluster send alerts to his smartphone.  I'm not one of those who will set his alarm clock for 2:00 AM just to work a new one. I will, however, bump up the power and leave QRP land to work a new one if I hear it.  I did that last night.

I consider myself one notch above the "Casual DXer" level.

I was fooling around playing with Logger32 and LOG4OM.  While the computer was doing its thing, I saw Easter Island and Qatar spotted on the Cluster.  These were two new ones that I have never worked before. My first move was to bump up the power to 75 Watts.  I'm enough of a DXer to want them in the log that I'll try to get them in there using QRO power first and will worry about QRP later. Jumping into each pileup, I was surprised to actually work each on the first call.  Qatar was a nice and clean QSO.  Easter Island took a bunch of repeats, even at higher power, but I did hear my call and a "TU" at the end.

Afterwards, I got curious about how many countries I have worked.  I went to Log of the World to do a bit of research.  I have 165 countries confirmed via LoTW.  The problem is, that I have worked a bunch of countries via Hams who don't use LoTW.  If I send out QSLs to each of these and get QSLs in return, I will have 185 countries confirmed.  I am a bit "iffy" about being in the logs of one or two of those, so 183 is probably more likely.

I know that with my set up here (antenna situation, in particular) - I am not DXCC Honor Roll material.  The probability that I would ever reach that level is slim and none, and slim left town.  I just don't have the antennas, or the will power to get me there - as I have said before, I am not a hardcore DXer. But, if someday at the end of my Ham career, I could have 250+ countries confirmed, I'd be a happy camper.

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Many thanks

to those of you who posted comments, or sent me private e-mails concerning the 9:11 UNUN, and particularly to "Anonymous" who provided the link to: http://www.balundesigns.com/servlet/the-102/QRP-9-cln-1-Unun-1.5/Detail

That was an eye-opener.  If the weather isn't too chilly or damp this weekend, I think I am going to see what happens when I use the 24.5' and 36' wires as the radiator.  As my friend Bob W3BBO says, this is the fun of playing around with homebrew antennas - playing around until you discover something that works for you.  It will help if propagation is decent - it's never a great day to evaluate an antenna when just about no one is around!

The 24.5' wire would allow decent SWRs on 40 through 6 Meters (according to the chart, the highest SWR would be on 17 Meters at 2.1:1), while the 36' wire would allow decent SWRs on 80 through 6 Meters (according to the chart, the highest SWR would be on 20 Meters at 2:1).  In either event, this should work better than what I had previously tried, where I was getting a 3:1 SWR or higher on some bands.

I know there's no "one size fits all' kind of solution here. If there was, someone would be either very rich, or very famous.  My concern is to be able to go to the park, toss one manageable wire into a tree and get as much operating time in as possible.  Multi-band doublets might yield better results, but at a cost of increased setup time as well as the need for two supports. Another simultaneous goal is to be able to switch bands as much as possible, without messing around with wires too much after the initial set up.

I know - about as easy as trying to change lead into gold.

I'll keep you who are like minded posted as to what I discover.

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




Monday, April 14, 2014

Great way to kick off Holy Week.

First off, please allow me to wish all my friends of the Jewish faith a very Happy Passover, which begins tonight.  May your Holy Days be blessed and enjoyable, surrounded by good food, friends and family.

Holy Week began yesterday for those of us who are Roman Catholic, or those who are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church as well as most Protestant denominations.  So what better way to kick off the week (Amateur Radio wise) than by working 3Z14EASTER?

Courtesy of QRZ and SP6IEQ

Dionizy SP6IEQ, is running the Special Event station until April 24th. I worked him on 15 Meters with 5 Watts from the Jeep and the Buddistick.    Thank you, Dionizy for the QSO and Wesołego Alleluja to you and your family!

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

And here I thought it was me!

To say it is a beautiful day in New Jersey today is in understatement.  The sun is shining, and the temperatures are in the upper 60s (20C).  The breeze (if there is any) is so gentle that you don't even notice it.  So I decided that after grocery shopping, but before other chores, that I would sneak off to the park and try out the EARCHI antenna.  I built the 9:1 UNUN late last Autumn and didn't get a chance to try it out.

The antenna line launcher worked perfectly, once again.  First shot, I cleared a 50 foot tree with ease. The end fed EARCHI was up in record time.  I used a 33 foot piece of wire attached to the UNUN, and ran a 20 foot piece of coax from the UNUN to the KX3.  My results with tuning it via the KX3's autotuner were so-so.  The KX3 loved the antenna on 30, 20, 18 and 12 Meters. On 40, 15 and 10 Meters, I got a decent match, but the KX3's tuner clacked around noticeably longer finding a match on these bands.  I think I am going to have to experiment with different radiator lengths to see what ends up working best as an "all around" antenna length.

But even with decent matches, the bands seemed dead!  I did end up working W1AW/KP4 on 20 Meters, but other than them, I did not hear much.  I hear much more activity during the workweek from the Jeep than I heard today. Naturally, the first thing the Ham suspects is that it's the antenna - especially when it's a new one. Actually, my first reaction was that I screwed up something when I built the UNUN. I came home after only a short time out, a bit dejected.

Then when I got home, I got on the computer to order some wire and rope from The Wireman.  For the heck of it, I also decided to check out Facebook.  A lot of my Ham friends had posted about how lousy the band conditions are today. In fact, one commented that he went outside to make sure his antennas were still in the air!

Courtesy of Facebook

So it ends up that today was not the day to base a critical performance review on,  I will have to wait for another weekend with decent weather and better band conditions for another test. In the meantime, I will also browse the Internet to see if I can garner more information on optimal radiator lengths for use with a 9:1 UNUN.

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gorgeous day!

After a rainy start, it turned out to be a gorgeous Spring day. It was sunny and it was nice and warm, despite a stiff breeze. I was able to get to the car at lunchtime and worked two Swedish stations, SM5IMO and SM4NGT on 15 meters and IK2CIO on 12 Meters.  The nice thing about operating at lunchtime here, is that at that time, most of Europe is done with the work day and there are lots of stations on the air.  They get to relax and enjoy their evening, and I get some good DX.

Thanks to a comment from Kelly WB0WQS, I am taking another close look at LOG4OM.  I tried this a couple years ago and was having severe problems getting it to run properly on my computer.  They must have made a bunch of improvements, or maybe it's that the laptop I am using now is a better platform than what I had before. Whatever the reason, I downloaded it again tonight and installed it.  It's working very well and for now? Let's say I am intrigued.  It has most of the bells and whistles that are part of better logging programs these days. It is powerful with CAT, Cluster management and all the other "necessary" stuff.  It's free and it's easy on the eyes.

Here's an announcement that I saw in an e-mail today.  This looks way cool and is going to get me to try and get back in the swing with my bug (pun intended!):

W6SFM On-Air BUG ROUNDUP - Saturday May 17th 2014

Objective: 
This 12-hour event is not a contest; rather it is a time dedicated to celebrating our CW and Bug key heritage. Participants are encouraged to get on the air and simply make enjoyable, conversational CW QSOs using a Bug style key as the sending instrument. There are no points scored in this event, and all who participate are winners.

Once the event has concluded, logs can be submitted to the W6SFM by way of the link provided on the clubs Bug Roundup web page. Nominal prizes/certificates will be awarded to: the person who had the most QSOs during the 12 hour period; and the person who worked the most interesting amount of bug types. 

Bands            (Suggested Freq.)
10 meters - 28.040 - 28.050 MHz
15 meters - 21.040 - 21.050 MHz
20 meters - 14.040 - 14.050 MHz
40 meters -    7.040 - 7.050 MHz
80 meters -    3.540 - 3.550 MHz

Dates
W6SFM Bug Roundup is held twice annually.
- Every 3rd Saturday in May from 1700 UTC though Sunday 0500 UTC
- Every 3rd Saturday in November from 1800 UTC through Sunday 0600 UTC


Thank you for your participation and we hope you enjoy the event. 73

For more information on this exciting event please visit the W6SFM Bug Roundup website page by clicking HERE (http://www.w6sfm.com/Bug_Roundup.html)

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

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tired

Work has been a bear the past few days. The weather has turned decidedly Springlike, but yet I've been stuck behind my desk the past three days. No lunchtime QRP for W2LJ.  :-(

And to make matters worse, it's that time of year that we QRP Fox hunters go into withdrawal, as the season has ended. So I'm tired from work, but yet can't fall asleep, and I'm in Fox withdrawal to boot ..... so what do I do? I get on the air - that's what!

Tonight, I worked EA8TL on 17 Meters. He was one of the few stations that I was able to hear on the band after dinner, but was he ever loud. Like, across the street loud! I called Jorge, and got through on the 1st call with 5 Watts.

After that, I engaged in a nice ragchew with Jeff, K9JP, who answered my CQ on 20 Meters. Jeff was using a KX3 also, and was blasting into New Jersey with 4 Watts. He's also an SKCC member, so it was a 2X KX3 SKCC QSO! That's a lot of capital letters!

After the QSO with Jeff, I dove into the pileup to work W1AW/4 from Virginia on 80 Meters. I managed to break that pileup in about 10 minutes, maybe a little less. 80 Meters was a lot tamer than it was last Thursday night when I got skunked in the last hunt of the season.

All the while that I was chasing W1AW/4, I was also playing with the DX Labs suite of programs. Sometimes I feel like Diogenes, searching for the perfect logging program like he searched for an honest man. DX Labs looks like it's going to require a bit of a steeper learning curve than Ham Radio Deluxe. But it is very comprehensive and full featured. If I ever get the hang of it, I just may switch over.

Did I mention that my old, decrepit shack  laptop uses Windows XP? I turned it on for the first time since support ended and it didn't blow up!  ;-). (Like I thought that it would ... NOT!) Gosh, I'm getting punchy here, I had better try to get some sleep.

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

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Some more PX3 photos

Courtesy of Facebook postings:




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

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Disappointing so far

The QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party is today and tomorrow. I've been on for a bit today and so far band conditions seem to be downright horrible.  It seems I have an S5 noise level on just about every band except for 10 Meters, and there's not much in the way of activity.  I've worked three stations so far, including EA2LU on 10 Meters. Jorge is very active in just about all the QRP-ARCI contests.

I sure hope conditions get better as the afternoon draws on and that activity increases.

BTW, Harry K7ZOV commented on the AmateurRadio.com site that the PX3 is expected to ship late June or early July.  That's a lot quicker than I had expected.  My birthday is coming up in less than a month. Maybe I'll treat myself - or maybe not.  Still have to think about this for a while.

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