Friday, June 23, 2017

Field Day 2017

Oh, brother!


Looking at the weather, Field Day in and of itself may not be too bad, but set up is looking to be a soggy affair.  Rain tonight, ending tomorrow somewhere around 8:00 AM, as presently forecast. I wouldn't mind it clearing out a little earlier so it drys out a bit more for our scheduled 10:00 AM set up time.

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club will once again put NJ2SP on the air as "NNJ 3A".  We'll be operating QRP / Battery. We'll have a GOTA station on the air and we'll do our best to get as many bonus points as we can.

If you're in the Central New Jersey area, please feel free to stop by. We'd be glad to have you! Look for us in Spring Lake Park on Lakeview Avenue in South Plainfield. We'll be in the big, white tent.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Great quote!

Kudos to Bill Vokac K9BV, who offered this on Facebook today, when the subject of Elmering and licensing came up:

"Passing on the respectful culture of ham radio is at least as important as "getting them licensed"."

Bravo! That sums up my opinion of Ham Crams.  I know they are the rage today, but to be honest with all of you, I detest them!

A one or two day session may be enough to pass on the bare bones - but why do you want to pass on only the bare bones?  Amateur Radio is more than the sum of its parts.  Besides the technical and operational aspects, there's a rich history to pass on.  There's also so much that the teachers can pass on of their own experience, so that the students don't make the same mistakes the teachers made when they were "wet behind the ears".

You can't do any of that in one or two eight hour sessions. That's NOT Elmering and it's not responsible teaching.  Then we wonder why so many newly licensed Techs are losing interest?  Why would they stay licensed when no one has taken the time to impress upon them the "magic" of our service/hobby?

Let me add something...... as I don't mean to demean Ham Cram study aides.  Sites like W1UL's site are wonderful and he has a proven track record. If you want to go that way - fine, more power to you. I think Ham Cram study guides, such as Urb's are a wonderful resources for those who are genuinely dedicated to getting their license via a self study program, or a traditional class program.

But if you're going to get involved with teaching in a Ham Cram type session ..... make sure the participants do their due diligence and actually read the material and study before doing a one or two day session.  My experience has shown that if they're not really serious about getting a license, the results are just going to be disastrous.

I've had a much greater success rate with traditional style Amateur Radio licensing classes. In addition to getting across the needed exam material, you also get the opportunity to get the "flavor" of Amateur Radio across to the students and actually get them even more eager and excited about getting on the air. Additionally, in my mind, the commitment required by attending a multi session class speaks volumes about the intent and desire of the students.

Lastly - the process can't end with a newbie Ham walking away with a CSCE.  They have to be cultivated into the Amateur Radio community.  You have to get them involved in a club and activities where they can ask questions, bounce ideas off people, see equipment before they buy it, etc. Keep in touch with them before, during and after the licensing process - this way, they're no longer students, but also life long friends.

Of course, this is all my humble opinion and YMMV.

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


2017 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt Roster

Is up and running, and will be updated as Skeeter Hunt number requests come in and are assigned:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13Fnw4tGBP3JnR2cuGrlYuMdkRk1HigGcNBX5lC7nKI0/edit#gid=0

Never participated in a QRP Sprint before?  Then try this one!  For me, it's more a QRP social event than a contest. I never go in with the idea in my head that I'm going to win - I just like to hear all of you on the air and like to work as many of you as possible.

Not into CW?  This QRP Sprint has a SSB category. No excuses there!

Worried your CW speed isn't the greatest?  Don't be!  Any Skeeter worth his salt will QRS for anyone,

To channel Star Trek -  always remember the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt "Prime Directive" - get outdoors, get on the radio and have fun!  Nothing more, nothing less.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gentlemen ....... start your engines!

To all Amateur Radio ops, so inclined,

The 2016 Skeeter Hunt soapbox is up, here!

The 2016 Skeeter Hunt certificates have been printed and are in the process of being mailed.

The 2017 Skeeter Hunt rules are here.

The first day of Summer for 2017 is tomorrow - so start e-mailing your requests for Skeeter Hunt numbers to w2lj@arrl.net now!

Some notes on Skeeter Numbers:

1) It's first come, first served - everyone gets a chance at a lower number.
2) There are no "reservations" for specific numbers - no specific "requests" - that dance card was filled a long time ago.
3) Requests for Skeeter Numbers (in the order they were received) will be read starting tomorrow morning and the Roster will be updated as my time permits.
4) You can request a Skeeter Number right up until the day before the event - that means August 19th is the last day that number requests will be answered.
5) Each request will be answered via a return e-mail, If you do not get an e-mail back from W2LJ, or do not see your name and call on the roster within a reasonable amount of time, try again.
6) Please, please, PLEASE include your name and either the state or POTA entity that you will hunting from in your e-mail.

The Official 2017 Skeeter Hunt Roster can be found here.

Have at it guys and gals - hope you have as much fun with this as I do!

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thank You !!!

A big shout out and "Thank You" to the fantastic folks at DX Engineering !


You guys are the best!

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stickers are in!


The package with the stickers came in today's mail! Woot!

K2WO, W3BBO, KA9EAK, KK6RUH, and NX1K - your envelopes are being mailed in the morning.

If anyone else wants one, these puppies are $2 each, which covers the cost of the sticker, envelope and postage with a few pennies to spare.  You can send a snail mail to my QRZ address or send funds via Paypal to w2lj@arrl.net.  If you send an order through Paypal, if you don't send your address - please note your call sign at the very least so I can look you up on QRZ.

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

Skeeter Hunt News

They say Memorial Day is the "unofficial" 1st Day of Summer.  That may be true; but in Skeeterland, we wait until the "official" Official 1st Day of Summer to start issuing NJQRP Skeeter Hunt numbers. That day is coming up fast - next Wednesday, June 21st is when Skeeter numbers for 2017 will start being dispensed.

All you have to do to get one is to send an e-mail to w2lj@arrl.net and one will be sent back to you in a confirming e-mail.  Be sure to include your name, call sign and either the state you'll be operating from or the POTA #.

POTA # ?????  Yes - because this year, the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be featuring the Parks On The Air program. For all the details, please visit http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/


Last year, it was NPOTA and this year it will be POTA. 100 Bonus points will be added to your score if you activate a POTA entity, and there are PLENTY of them available!  To find one near you, please visit the interactive map at: http://wwff.co/directory/map/

Now I know some of you faithful Skeeters are probably reading this and are thinking, "Wait a darn sec, there, LJ!  Where's the Soapbox page from 2016 and where are our certificates? Huh? What do you have to say about that? Huh?"

Mea culpa, friends!  I'll readily admit that I was tardy on both counts.  However, the 2016 Soapbox page is now up at http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/index%20page%209 and your richly deserved certificates are in the process of being printed. I hope to have them in the mail, no later than this weekend. And hey, the timing isn't so bad, is it?  You can read the soapbox and make plans for this year, while reminiscing over last year!

There's also a new Fabook group devoted to the Skeeter Hunt - https://www.facebook.com/groups/175763746290252/, if you're so inclined to join.


So to answer one last question - why new Skeeter numbers every year?  Why aren't they good for life?  The reason for that is that I like to give everyone the opportunity to get a low number. Those seem to be the most coveted.  For various reasons, not everyone is able to participate from year to year - family commitments come up, business trips happen, vacations happen.  It's not fair to lock up a low number because of that - so they get issued to folks who really want them and have every intention of using them.

That being said, if you're not certain that you'll be able to participate - DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM GETTING A NUMBER !!!!  I'd rather numbers go un-used than not issued at all. Sometimes things come up, but then there are times that potential conflicts get resolved and it's better that you have a Skeeter number than not!

Lastly, I kinda fibbed on that statement about Skeeter numbers not being good for life - at least in one instance.  Let it be known, throughout the kingdom of Skeeterland, that from henceforth, W2LJ will always be lucky Skeeter #13. There are some superstitious folks out there, who have specifically asked me to make sure they are not issued #13 - so I've solved that little predicament by assigning it to myself in perpetuity.

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

Dit - dit

Many thanks to Chris KQ2RP for posting the heck out of this on his blog and Facebook - the new DitDit.fm podcast.  I finally got around to listening, and this is great!


Produced and hosted by Bruce Pea N9WKE, the podcast is dedicated solely to all thing about Morse Code and Morse Code related subjects.

This is perfect for those of us who are dedicated CW geeks.  I'm not usually big into listening to podcasts (that's why it took me a while to start listening); but "DitDit.fm" and "The QRPian" will be on my listening list for as long as these guys keep the podcast fires burning.

Bruce? You had me in Episode One when you said, "I don't even own a microphone!"

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Good cookies!


Yesterday was the inaugural Cookie Crumble QRP contest and even though I got to spend only a limited time behind the key, it was great fun!

The contest lasted from 1:00 - 6:00 PM, but I was not able to sit down behind the KX3 until nearly 4:45 PM.  Yesterday was my Sunday to volunteer at the soup kitchen.  So I had it all planned - or so I thought!  Early in the morning, I set up my antenna and portable station out at the backyard picnic table so that everything (except the radio, which I left inside the house) would be ready when I got home at 4:00 PM.

The problem was I didn't get home at 4:00 PM.  The meal yesterday was meatball sandwiches along with potato salad, chips and a dessert. Everything was going fine until we discovered that the marinara sauce at the bottom of the two big cooking pots had burnt.  Have you ever had the honor of being the one chosen to clean burnt marinara sauce from the bottom of two big cooking pots?

To say that a sandblaster would have come in handy is an understatement.  Since I didn't want to be there all evening,and miss the contest entirely, I let the bottoms of the pots soak in super hot water and liquid dish detergent for about 10 minutes.  Then I used a metal serving spoon to literally scrape off as much of the burnt sauce and gook as I could manage.  Then I followed that up with Brillo and some good ol' fashioned elbow grease until the posts were clean.  No mirror finish; but you'd never be able to tell what bad shape these pots were in unless you use an electron microscope.

I hurried home, grabbed the KX3, paddle and earbuds and hooked everything up to the antenna and battery that were already positioned and waiting for me.  I started out on 20 Meters and heard a lot of SKCC Weekend Sprinters, but no Cookie Crumblers.  I did work Jimmy K4YFH in North Carolina who must have been confused when I relayed that I was "NR 173" as he came back to me "49C" which is my SKCC number.

I decided that 40 Meters might be the better band on which to find Cookies and that proved to be true. I worked Dan KA3D, Ralph KW8G, Bob W3BBO (who was on his newly acquired HW8. It sounded great, Bob!), Ken N3CU (Cookie Monster), Emily KB3VVE, the Cookie Queen herself, Dave K2FI and finally K3SVA Gene (Cookie Monster).

So in a total of an hour and 15 minutes I made 8 contacts. Nothing to set the contest world on fire about; but I had fun and that was the main point!  It was in the 90s (30s C) yesterday, and after the long Winter and extended damp and chilly Spring that we have had, sitting in the sun with a warm breeze blowing felt just oh, so good! That I was playing radio at the same time was just icing on the cake, or perhaps, sprinkles on the cookies - if you prefer!

The setup was my usual. The antenna was the PAR End Fedz 40/20/10 held aloft by my 31 foot Jackite pole.  The battery was not my normal portable ops lithium battery, as I opted to use my Field Day PowerWerx SLA. The paddle was the Palm Pico.

Thanks to Emily KB3VVE and Tim W3ATB for coming up with another gem of a QRP Sprint. Tim has already posted on Facebook this morning that Emily has decreed that the 2nd Cookie Crumble will be on Sunday, June 10th, 2018.  If you didn't participate this year, you deprived yourself of a very, very good time. Make sure not to miss it next year!

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

Friday, June 09, 2017

Sticker craze

I see stickers on cars everywhere, telling folks where you've been, like Long Beach Island, in NJ for example:


Or what you like to do (Want to run half a marathon, anybody?):

These will be coming in, soon:


If you're a QRPer and would like one, you can send $2 to my QRZ address - that will cover the cost of the sticker, an enverlope and postage. This is being offered as a service, and to make our presence as QRPers known - this is not a moneymaker, nor any kind of donation request/fundraiser. If you'd rather avoid sending for one via snail mail, you can send $2 via paypal to w2lj@arrl.net.  I should have them in a week or so.

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

Thursday, June 08, 2017

My memory is shot

Regarding yesterday's post about the weather and a possible POTA activation on Sunday.

1) It's the second Sunday of the month and that's the Sunday that I volunteer at the soup kitchen.

2) This Sunday is the inaugural "Cookie Crumble Contest" - a new QRP Sprint, which was the inspiration of Emily Saldana KB3VVE and Tim Carter W3ATB. It runs from 1700 to 2200 UTC - or from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM EDT.  I get home from the soup kitchen around 4:00 PM, so I can participate for the last couple of hours.

This promises to be an exciting Sprint with a couple of "twists" including contacting "Cookie Monsters' for extra bonus points and "Burnt Cookies" which will actually lose you points!  That's a new concept that I've never heard of - but this is meant to be "a fun, low-stress contest that builds friendship and improves operating skills." So, IMHO, that's a unique twist that won't bother me in the least, if I happen to stumble upon a "Burnt Cookie".

For all the details - you can find them here: http://w3atb.com/cookie-crumble/



Make sure to sign up for a Cookie Number - W2LJ is Cookie # 173.

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


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

New Jersey Weather

Mark Twain once said, "If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”

Mr. Twain, with apologies, I'd like to paraphrase your quote:

"If you don't like the weather in New Jersey now, just wait a few days."


Today may be damp, chilly and raw - but wait until the weekend.  Sunny and hot!  It looks like we'll be traversing from April to July in the space of about 4 or 5 days.

The bright side is that Sunday just might end up being an ideal day to do a POTA activation. If I get enough yardwork done on Saturday, that is.  I have to finish weeding and mulching the front yard landscaping before I can go out and play.

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

Monday, June 05, 2017

Somewhat disappointed

Saturday was a bit of a disappointment.  I was planning on going to the OMARC hamfest - which is held by the Ocean and Monmouth Counties Amateur Radio Club.  I thought I was free and clear to go; but then I was informed that there was a CERT call out for a 5K race and a 1 mile fum walk for a charity in town.  Fun or duty?  I mulled it over for about 1/2 a second, and pulled out my CERT gear and headed towards the race marshaling point.

We deployed to our positions about 1/2 an hour ahead of time in order to position the barricades needed to block off the streets 15 minutes ahead of the starting gun.  And it started to rain. Thankfully, my CERT poncho was in my CERT backpack, which is always in the car.

To be honest with you, I will never figure out some people. I was positioned one on of the side streets (Joan Street) off the main course, which was South Plainfield Avenue.  It was my duty to prevent cars travelling down Joan Street from entering onto South Plainfield Ave.  I had two barricades blocking access, as well as my car pulled sideways in the street.

People were still driving up to me, sticking their heads out their windows, and asking "Is the street closed? Can I get through?"

I was so tempted to say that I was just standing in the rain, with my car blocking the street "for my health"; but instead just smiled and explained that there was a 5K foot race going on and that the roads would be open again in an hour.

Thankfully, the rain abated for the race itself, and about an hour later, I was able to secure my post and go home.  The hamfest was scheduled to only last until Noon; so it was too late to make the trip to go down towards the shore. There were too many chores to do anyway, so it was probably better that I didn't go.

On another note, I've been getting a couple e-mails asking about the 2017 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.  Yes, it will be held again this year on Sunday, August 20th.  Look for an announcement to be made here within a week or two and for the NJQRP Website to be updated with the photos and soapbox comments from last year's contest, soon.  I'll also let you know when it's time to send your e-mails requesting Skeeter numbers; and what the theme is, for this year.

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


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017


From Lexington and Concord to the hills and valleys of Afghanistan, today we remember, honor and pray for those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.


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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Rain

Has it been raining a lot lately!  Rain, rain, and more rain. Last night, it was pouring "cats and dogs" when I went to bed. After a few minutes, I heard some rumbles of thunder (the first of the season) in the distance and I decided to head down to the basement to unhook the antennas.  A few moments after I had climbed back into bed there was a very bright flash, and the house shook from the vibrations of the thunder clap!  One of those times that I'm certain I prevented static damage.

Earlier in the day, I was able to work Sean KX9X/7 while he was operating from Devil's Tower, KFF-0920 in Wyoming.



I had gotten home from work and sat down with the tablet for a few minutes after I had put dinner in the oven. I saw his Facebook postings and that he was QRV on 14.064 MHz, so I ran down the basement and tuned in.  His signal was about 449 with some QSB, but by turning off the KX3's pre-amp, I was able to tone down the background noise and hear Sean's signal more clearly.  It was enough that I was able to work him and get him in the log.

This weekend is a long weekend in the US, as on Monday, we honor the lives of our military men and women who gave their lives in service to our nation - Memorial Day.  The weather outlook for the weekend is pretty gloomy, with a chance for rain every day except tomorrow.  On Sunday, I was hoping to go and activate one of NJ's many parks for Parks On The Air. I would prefer to do that from a picnic table instead of from inside my car.  Rain is forecast for the morning and evening, with perhaps a break in the afternoon. I'll have to see how it plays out. Monday looks to be a washout.

On an encouraging side note, I found a place here at work where I think I can set up during lunchtime and resume my daily QRP sessions (once the weather dries out).  I got in really early this morning and decided to investigate the various parking lots around the buildings on campus.  The main parking area is underground, which doesn't do me a lot of good. However, I found that the lot also extends "up" and that if I park up there, it would be pretty much like operating at our old location. Not scenic, by any means, but in the open without many obstructions.  I can just imagine it now, as building Security patrols the parking lots ..... the first time they see the magloop, should I decide to bring and deploy it. LOL!

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Saving up!

As Hamvention weekend was coming to a close, I have decided that I am going to make my best effort to attend FDIM and Hamvention in 2018. If I put a little $$$ aside each week, I should have ample funds come the beginning of the year.

Now that my two kids are older, I really want to attend FDIM to meet as many of you as I can; as well as all the great folks I've worked over the years in the various Sprints, etc.

So, to you FDIM veterans out there - I take it that the event is still taking place at the Holiday Inn in Fairborn?  When's the best time to reserve a room?

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Them QRP'ers ..... they show up EVERYWHERE!


Thanks to Tom Medlin W5KUB for keeping me informed and entertained today!

Speaking of which ...... Tom is providing a great service, keeping those of us who can't make it out to Xenia informed and feeling like we're still in the mix.  Traveling out there and setting up an operation like his is a labor of love ...... but it ain't cheap!  If you go over to his Website and click on his "Live Video" link, you'll get a pop-up which will allow you to enter into a raffle to help defray his production costs. The prize is a really neat antenna analyzer, which I sure as heck wouldn't mind winning - so I threw a few bucks his way ..... and I hope you might consider doing the same.

By the way .......... if there are any of my regular readers at Dayton and you happen to have a picture of you, or someone you love (or even a total stranger for that matter) wearing either a Skeeter Hunt shirt, or a "QRP, when you care to send the very least!" shirt - please send me a copy!

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

Saw this little guy on W5KUB

While trying to keep an eye on Hamvention via the W5KUB live video, I saw this little guy out of the corner of my eye, which made me sit up and take notice.  In all the talk about all the QRP radios out there; and all the kits, I never seen this one widely discussed before:


A QRP transceiver designed and produced by Chris, M0NKA in Great Britian.  It's official name is the mcHF Radio, which stands for "Mega cheap HF Radio". Cool!  That's Carl, WD8VXS who is walking around with it and is being interviewed by W5KUB.

It's an all band, all mode radio that will do up to 10 Watts out up to 30 Meters and then about 6-7 Watts on the bands higher than that. It has the sound card built in, has a USB port for easy firmware updates, or for hooking up to your computer and has a touch screen.


It can be purchased several ways:

1) Just the boards - you supply the parts - about $35
2) All the boards and all the parts - about $270
3) All the boards and all the parts, BUT with the SMD components already pre-installed, (No price mentioned during the interview)

The case can be gotten from a source in China.  About $80

For a lot more detail - you can go to the Website, here - http://www.m0nka.co.uk/  There's also an M0NKA Facebook page.

I don't know why this little fella hasn't garnered more press within the QRP community, especially within the kit building community.  Maybe it has and I'm just woefully uninformed?

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


Spreading the word

Hoping we can get this to spread like wildfire!  I saw the link on Chris KQ2RP's blog and am embedding the video here - QRP Night ... the night before Field Day.

Let's make this happen!



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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lessons learned the hard way


You'd have thunk that after being an Amateur Radio op for some 39 years now, and a dedicated QRP'er for about 14 years now that the "slogan" shown immediately above would be like second nature to me. But no, I still fall prey to the occasional troll, especially the species that insists that "The guy on the other end of the QRP QSO is the "hero" who does all the heavy lifting". While I agree that the receiving station is an invaluable part of the QSO - isn't that true for EVERY contact, not just the QRP ones?

Calmly explaining that signal strength is a combination of power, antenna and propagation falls on deaf ears with these folks. It's power, power, power and more power, and that's it.  When you counter with the addition of  the word"skill", that usually gets even more laughs from these folks. "How much skill does it take", they ask, "to shoot out 5 Watts out of a piece of wire?"

Thanks to Steve Yates AA5TB for answering that question in a recent discussion I became involved with on a social media site.  Steve put into words, what we all know; but sometimes fail to enunciate. Steve countered with (and I'm paraphrasing) that the skill comes in in knowing your equipment, understanding propagation and understanding antenna theory enough to put all three of those elements together in order to get the communication through is a reliable and efficient manner.

Eloquent and to the point!  So the next time you're baited - feel free to use the words you've read here and "Keep calm and move away from the troll".

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