Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Tab

In addition to the general blog posts, you may or may have not noticed several page tabs up here right underneath the "blog image".  Here's where I moved most of the content of my old web page which has since gone into oblivion.

I want to start a new tab - but I am going to need your help.  I want to fill it with links to the most useful and popular links to sources for supplies for QRP, portable ops, CW and Kit building and home brewing.

So please add a comment, or you can always send links to your favorite places to

To kick off the process, here are just a few, right off the bat:

QRP kits -

SOTA Beams - -

QRP Guys -

American Morse Equipment -

And so on.  I am particularly interested in listing suppliers from outside the US as well.  I know a lot of readers live outside the US, so I'd like to list and promote suppliers that are easy for you to shop from, too.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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

Monday, October 17, 2016


Being a Manned Spaceflight/All-Things-Connected-To-Space geek, I have to share this. This was posted by Bob Hetsko on the "Mercury, Gemini, & Saturn/Apollo Program Era" page on Facebook. This actually made me "laugh out loud".

Anyone for BBQ?

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Night of the Living Dead

Otherwise known as the Zombie Shuffle is on for 2016. Woot!

As announced on QRP-L by Paul NA5N:

The 19th annual 2016 Zombie Shuffle will be held on: FRIDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 21, 2016 (to avoid Oct. 27-28 CQ World Wide contest)

Rules and the usual useless information here:

RULE CHANGE: The Zombie Shuffle will begin at 1600 local time instead of the former 1800 sundown by request from several Zombies. This is to give participants more time on 20M to make contacts before we're forced to the rats nest on 40M.

If you've never participated in the Zombie Shuffle, by all means do so. There is no purpose to the ZS except to get on the air and wrack up a ridiculously high score, based more on serendipity than code speed or operating skill. So dust off your key and be a QRP Zombie.

If you are new to the ZS and need a Zombie number assigned (they are good for life), email the Grand Witchess at

With the sun very quiet lately, hopefully we won't be having any geomagnetic storms this year for a bit quieter 40M.

72, Paul NA5N Zombie #004

This is great news for me, as I thought the Shuffle was going to be held the following Friday, the 28th (which would put it closer to Halloween).  I have a Radio Club meeting that night and would not be able to participate until the bulk of activity is over.  As Recording Secretary, I really should be at the meeting.  With that conflict out of the way, I can shuffle along with the other Zombies!

Is there a better way to end a hectic week than by playing QRP with your friends on a Friday night?

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Zombie # 858

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Going solar

Well ...... kinda sorta.

I went to Harbor Freight yesterday during lunch to buy a 15" soft tool bag that I had a coupon for. The purpose of the bag is to haul around the disassembled pieces of my magnetic loop antenna.

While I was there, I started walking up and down the aisles, looking and knowing I had a 20% "off" coupon in my pocket.  You can get into a lot of trouble this way, but I got myself into only minor trouble, I guess.

I purchased one of these:
It's an attache` case sized solar panel with 12V and 24V - (unregulated) outputs.  It's rated at 13 Watts. This will be head and shoulders above the mini panels that I use now for charging 12V SLAs.  Knowing the output is unregulated, I then proceeded over to Banggood and picked up one of these:
So not only will I be able to charge deep cycle batteries in an environmentally friendly manner (we all gotta do our part!); but I can even run the KX3 (after mucho testing, of course!) off the panel for Field Day as this little unit will regulate the panel's output to a steady 12V.

Both units ran me less than $75.

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

Thursday, October 06, 2016


To all my friends/readers in Florida, Georgia and The Carolinas ........

Earnest prayers that Matthew leaves you as un-battered and un-bruised as possible - AND that all your antennas stay up in the air.

Be safe; and have those batteries charged and those "Go Kits" locked and loaded!

And special prayers go out for our friends in the Carribean nations who are dealing with the aftermath.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The KISS principle - always a winner.

WARNING!  The following post contains OPINION. It is not meant to slight anyone, or to infer that the author knows better than anyone else. The Good Lord knows, THAT'S not true. LOL!

I was wafting through Facebook, and I saw a post on the ARRL NPOTA page about a "busted" activation that only yielded 5 QSOs - a minimum of 10 is needed for a valid activation. Mind you, not 10 QSLs - 10 QSOs.

I looked at the pictures he posted and everything looked pretty good.  I am thinking that it was just a case of lousy band conditions. He definitely deserved an "A" for effort.  BUT, (there's ALWAYS a "but", isn't there?) his setup, while looking marvelous, appeared a bit too elaborate for my taste.

And that, I think, is where a lot of NPOTA activators and I part company. I've seen many photos of setups that approach Field Day scenarios.  Like ....... did anyone notice the cover of the latest DX Engineering catalog? There was an NPOTA setup there that looked better than our SPARC Field Day.

It seems many NPOTA activators are there for marathon sessions - hours upon hours, handing out hundreds of QSOs. That's good for all the chasers and I applaud them; but I like the simpler approach.

The KISS principle, or "Keep It Simple, Stupid" has worked well for many portable ops, such as SOTA, the QRP Sprints, etc.  Break out the rig, hook up a battery, throw a wire up in a tree (or to a portable mast where using trees is a no-no), or perhaps a doublet, or a vertical or magloop and go to town.  The emphasis being on the word "portable".

It seems to have worked very well for the SOTAteers (Steve WG0AT comes to mind) all these years, and for NPOTA activators such as Joe N2CX and Eric WD8RIF, Ed WA3WSJ and "yours truly" among others. And if dropping those names wasn't enough, if you follow the adventures of the "Premier" portable op, Jim W1PID, then you know the words I speak are true.

Keep It Simple = less to forget, less to break, less to not work, less to lose, more time to actually operate (who wants to spend all their valuable time setting up and tearing down an elaborate setup?) and hopefully, more success!

Simple doesn't handicap the superb ops - for a reminder, here's a re-post of KX9X's Pigeon Key video:

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


This coming Saturday is the annual Simulated Emergency Test.  Amateur Radio operators who volunteer with Public Service and Emergency Management agencies throughout the United States will be getting on the air, sending an receiving drill messages. This is done in preparation for "If this had been an actual emergency" - re, the verbiage of the National Emergency Broadcasting messages.

Here in Middlesex County, New Jersey, our simulated emergency is another hurricane scenario.

How appropriate. because in the following couple of days,this may become a very real possibility:

Meet Hurricane Matthew.  He's a nasty bugger. Today, he's dropping 40 inches (100 cm) of rain (yes, you read that right) on portions of Haiti and Cuba. This hellion may make landfall somewhere over the Carolinas early Sunday morning, if he doesn't turn out to sea.

If he hugs the coast, New Jersey will be in for a lot of rain, coastal flooding and a wicked storm surge sometime Sunday into Monday.  Not exactly the way you want to start off your week.

Our barrier islands and low laying coastal towns are already making plans for evacuations and other hurricane preparedness activities.  We've been very lucky in New Jersey as we haven't been hit hard since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Let's hope we dodge another bullet with Matthew.  If not, and Amateur Radio ops are needed by our towns or counties - we're ready.

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

Monday, October 03, 2016

I want one of these!

Mini-iambic paddle with magnetic return!  According to a post on Facebook, these are in Beta test (Europe only) and will hopefully be in production soon.

These look to be just the thing for portable ops.

I did not know about, until I saw this post on Facebook. Looks to be another fine Vendor for the QRP/Homebrew world.

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

Sunday, October 02, 2016

NPOTA success - WR03

The day dawned gray. misty and chilly, but it wasn't downpouring. So I collected this bag of bones out of bed. I showered, shaved, got dressed and packed the Jeep with everything necessary for a ride to NPOTA land.

As stated a few days ago, the destination was WR03, the Delaware National Scenic River, via Washington's Crossing State Park, in Titusville, NJ.  Thanks to the fact that there was hardly any traffic on an early Sunday morning, I arrived in about 45 minutes.

Everything was wet from the light rains and heavy mist that fell throughout the night. I made the decision to forgo using a soggy, leaf covered picnic table and used my camping table and folding chair from the parking lot, instead.  This was not the main parking lot, but a smaller one, farther in the park. It was literally a stone's toss from the river.

You can see the 25' piece of coax going up to the PAR in the tree.

The set up was the usual, the KX3 at 5 Watts to a PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10 in a tree.  I got really good height this time. The PAR was easily 50 -60 feet up in the air this time. And that was evident with the results - 43 QSOs in under 90 minutes. 20 Meters was LONG! I worked Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Mexico, California, Montana and appropriately enough, Washington State.  40 Meters got me up and down the east coast and as far west as Minnesota.

I called it quits after about 90 minutes as the QSOs were drying up and I was starting to get a bit chilled.  Oh, and there were skeeters! But NOT the kind that I like. I was swatting at them the whole time I was there. Who would have thought that mosquitoes would be out and about on a damp, and chilly day in the high 50s?  After I packed up, but before leaving, I walked around to snap a few more photos.

This is a re-creation of one of the "boats" that were in use during Colonial times to ferry people and supplies across the river. It's really not much more than a glorified raft. So the painting IS right. Washington stood ...... and do did everyone else!

The house owned by the "ferry operator".

Later, when I had time to think about all of this, it was truly amazing.  2,400 men, some horses and artillery began silently crossing the river as soon as it got to be dark (There were British spies all over). Once they all reached the New Jersey side,they all marched the 20 or so miles to Trenton throughout snowy fields and made it there by daybreak. The effort just to get to Trenton must have been exhausting given the distance, the cold and the snow. Then they surprised the Hessians and won the battle without one Continental soldier being lost. Astounding!

All in all, it was another good NPOTA day. I thank all the chasers who worked me and I look forward to another adventure in a few more weeks - this time, maybe the NJ Pine Barrens.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sometimes you can just feel your HBP climbing.

Saw this on Facebook, on the ARRL National Parks on the Air page.  The original post was a question:
"How much power (wattage) do you use for NPOTA QSO's? (Question is for both activators and chasers)?"

I answered with:
"Worked Bill AB4BJ in Utah today from NJ. 5W SSB. When activating, 5W CW."

My comment was immediately followed by someone who said:  
"100W - 95% of the time for chasing. 50 to 100W activating. QRP is unfair to chasers."


"QRP is unfair to chasers?" How the heck can QRP be unfair to chasers?

If you understand propagation, then a QRP signal will be loud to someone, somewhere.  As I've stated SO many times before, QRP does NOT automatically equal "weak signal".  I gave, as an example, just last Sunday, when I worked that N7 station from Seattle, WA in the Peanut Power Sprint.  His 5 Watts almost blew my earbuds out.  He was 20 over 9, if he was anything. And there were quite a few times that I got the comment "FB SIGS" during a QSO when I was using 5 Watts (but not mentioning that fact).  Heck, I'm sure you have, too.  In fact, I'm sure every QRPer has heard that at least once - probably many, many times more.

So, if QRP is unfair to chasers, how about the times that I can't hear the activators running 100 Watts?  Do I blame them for running "low power"? Should everyone run the full 1.5 kW?  Would that be fair and satisfy everyone?

Bottom line - It is what it is. If you can hear 'em then try to work 'em. If you can't hear 'em - what are you worrying about?

Or maybe it might be better if certain people went back to the ol' study manual and brushed up on that chapter about propagation.

I just don't understand comments like that..

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sunday morning is open

Sunday morning is currently open. As we get to the weekend, if the weather turns out to be decent (and no surprises come in out of left field), I am thinking of taking a trip to Washington's Crossing State Park in Tiutsville, NJ to activate NPOTA WR03, the Delaware National Scenic River.  As you can imagine, the park is right on the (scenic) Delaware.

I've never been there, myself, but my family has a very small connection to the park.  Back in the early 1970's my Mom, who was an avid needle-point'er and cross-stitch'er, did a custom needle-point rendition of Emanuel Leutze's famous painting. By custom, I mean that this needle point project was not available at any retail store. My Mom had a blank needle point canvas given to an artist in Philadelphia, who actually "re-painted" Leutze's image upon it, so that my Mom could perform her stitchery.

My Mom was an avid fan of all things Colonial and tied to the Revolutionary War Period.  This is definitely where my affinity for that time in history came from.

The finished, framed piece was displayed at Washington's Crossing State Park during our Bicentennial year - 1976.  After that, it hung in our living room up until my Dad passed away and my Mom moved. For 9 years, it hung in my Mom's apartment. When she passed away, the piece was bequeathed to my sister and it now hangs proudly in her house. 

So it occurred to me that a trip to Washington's Crossing State Park for NPOTA year seems like the right thing to do. I get to have another activation under my belt, and in a way, honor my Mom's memory in the process.

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

Monday, September 26, 2016

A word to the wise

I'm sure that many of you have heard about the data breach that occurred at Yahoo. A word to the wise. If you have a Yahoo account, sign in and change your password.

Yesterday,  I tried to check my email (I use the web based Yahoo email client) only to discover that my account was blocked. It appeared that someone was trying to access my email,  or change my password,  only to fail too many times at guessing the answers to my security questions.

With the help of Verizon,  I was able to change not only my password,  but also my security questions.  So that issue is taken care of. But before you get to the point that I reached, it would be best to be proactive if you have a Yahoo account.

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

Nibs bitter the butter

Remember that TV commercial from the 1970s?  I think it was for Jif peanut butter. Basically, the point was that the peanut butter company removes the little "nib" from between the two peanut halves before processing, because including them taints the sweetness of the peanut butter.

I had to deal with a bunch of nibs yesterday during the NoGA Peanut Power Sprint.  My "nibs" were RTTY stations on 40 Meters that pretty much made the band useless for CW. I believe it was the CQ WW RTTY contest that was in full bloom, with RTTY stations going right down to the very band edge.

There was a time, way back in the 90's, that Digital ops respected a line around 7.055 MHz or so - where they would go no lower in order not to disrupt CW operations on the band.  And I would know as I was pretty heavy into RTTY and the TOR modes at the time. I see that "gentleman's agreement" has been pretty much shot to Hades.

20 Meters was in good shape, however, so that took away the sting of not being able to make many contacts on 40 Meters.  When all was said and done, I made 25 contacts, most of which occurred on 20 Meters. Without having my log to refer to, I believe only 5 QSOs happened on 40 Meters.

The smart one was Marc W4MPS in North Carolina.  Marc was able to find this little tiny spot between two very strong digital ops, and he just ran the frequency like the pro that he is. Most of my 40 Meters contacts were from searching and pouncing. I tried calling CQ for a while on 40 Meters, but it proved to pretty much just be a waste of time.

My best contact on 20 Meters was with a station in Washington State.  Again, without my log in front of me, the call escapes me - it was an N7 station - that much I remember. Anyway, he was about 20 over 9 to me in NJ.  20 over 9 with only 5 Watts from 3,000 miles away. He almost knocked the earbuds right out of my ears. So much for the "QRP equals weak signals" argument!

And that's an argument that needed to be refuted on Facebook again this morning.  On the "100 Watts and a Wire" page - someone asked how many members are truly QRP.  In the middle of the answers, a German op came on with the old "It's all in the listening station" fallacy" again. "The better question to ask is, Who has a big enough station to hear QRP.?"


Obviously, I had a big enough station to hear QRP signals yesterday; and all I was using was a KX3 and a PAR END FEDZ 40/20/10. And if I could hear QRP stations just fine with that - then what's anyone else's excuse?

The excuse turns out to be that there are a plethora of Hams out there who really don't understand propagation and antennas.  They believe that power is everything, and as it turns out, nothing could be farther from the truth.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peanut Power Sprint - this Sunday !

Listen to Lucy and don't be a blockhead!  The NoGA Peanut Power Sprint is this Sunday, and as usual, it will be a ton of fun!

If you have EVER been shy about QRP contesting; but have been hankering to give it a try - then this is YOUR event!  It's only two hours long - who can't spare two hours on a Sunday afternoon?

What's that? You're thinking "QRP CW ...... hmmmmm ........ I don't know ........? " Well, those wily NoGAnauts have thought of you, too. There's a QRO entry category AND this is NOT a "CW Only" event - SSB is allowed- so NO excuses! For the rules (which are simple!) go here and click on "Peanut Power Sprint" on the left hand side.

So do yourself a favor and go nuts for a few hours! You deserve it - you know you do!

And don't be a party pooper like Snoopy and keep this a secret - tell your Ham Radio buddies and let them join in on the fun, too!

See you on the bands on Sunday afternoon! "Goober" or "Salted"? - not sure yet!

72 de Larry W2LJ - Peanut #43
QRP - When you care to send the very least

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Filed under "Miscellaneous"

From the ARRL:

Amateur Radio-Military Interoperability Exercise Set for October 31-November 1

An Amateur Radio-military interoperability exercise will take place October 31 and November 1. The event will begin at 1200 UTC on October 31 and continue through 2359 UTC on November 1 on 60 meter channels 1-4 —5.3305 MHz, 5.3465 MHz, 5.357 MHz, and 5.3715 MHz, respectively.

During this exercise, military stations will attempt to make radio contact with stations in as many of the 3143 US counties as possible. Radio amateurs providing “county status” information will receive a US Department of Defense “interoperability QSL card.”

Also from the ARRL:

Logbook of The World to No Longer Accept Contacts Signed by TQSL Versions Earlier Than 2.0

As of 1400 UTC on January 16, 2017, ARRL Logbook of The World (LoTW) no longer will accept contacts that have been digitally signed by versions of TQSL earlier than version 2.0.

Users of earlier versions are encouraged to upgrade as soon as possible, as older TQSL versions contain uncorrected defects and display inaccurate error messages. The current versions of TQSL for Windows, OS X, and Linux are available online.

To date, LoTW has confirmed some 135 million contacts for its 90,000 users. — Thanks to Norm Fusaro, W3IZ

Morse Code in the News

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

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekend plans go semi awry.

I had planned on two Amateur Radio activities this weekend. I almost ended up going 0 for 2, but ended up batting .500 instead.

My first planned activity was to participate in the NJ QSO Party on Saturday.  The work party that I attended at the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management went longer than I anticipated. I'm glad we got the work done that we did, though, as it was important that it got done before the Simulated Emergency test in October. When I got home, there was still plenty of time to participate in the contest - no doubt. Other chores had to be taken care of first, though; and I made sure I got those done. End result? One very tired W2LJ and no NJQP on Saturday.

After dinner, I sat down with the tablet and saw on the ARRL NPOTA Facebook page that Peter K0BAK was doing  a sweep of NJ activations this weekend, including AA17, the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.  My heart sank a bit because he's such a superb operator and activator - does AA17 really need to be activated twice the same day? And if you had the chance to work either me or Peter .... heck, even I'd rather work Peter than me !!!

When I went to bed last night, I was really iffy about making the effort. The weather was supposed to be suspect but I decided to sleep on it, thinking perhaps that maybe it might be better to wait for another weekend.

Sunday morning dawned muggy and overcast. Not exactly the greatest of weather conditions. But then the thought occurred to me that K0BAK normally does most of his operating on SSB, and mine was to be CW; so I decided to throw caution to the wind and decided to go to Cheesequake State Park, anyway.

I left the house a little after 9:00 AM and got to the park just around 9:30 AM.  I found the Spring Hill Picnic Grounds to be deserted, save for a few parked cars. The occupants of those cars were all going off on hikes as the lot also served as the starting point for one of the park's many trailheads. With the picnic tables all to myself, I set up the PAR ENDFEDZ 40/20/10.  The line went up over a 60 foot tree with ease thanks to my trusty Joplin MO ARC Antenna Launcher.  I literally had the antenna up within minutes.  I've had enough practice with the launcher to now get a good shot on the first try, at least 90% of the time.

The setup was the usual, KX3 to antenna, the Power Werk deep cycle battery, the Palm Micro paddles and a set of ear buds.  The ear buds turned to be a life saver, as the picnic area turned out to be pretty gosh darn close to the Garden State Parkway, and there was lots of highway noise.  In some cases, there were also some ignition noise moments.  I thought I was far enough away where that wouldn't be a concern; but there must be a few vehicles out there that are close to being spark gap transmitters!

I got on the air at 1400 UTC, calling "CQ NPOTA" on 40 Meters at 7.034 MHz, and had my first QSO with W3JRR at 1415 UTC.  I stayed on 40 Meters for about 45 minutes before taking a break to stretch my legs and to use the rest facilities. Thank the Lord they were open!  I came back to the ear buds, and I could have sworn that I heard "BBO".  I thought that was my good friend W3BBO looking for me; as I spotted myself on the Cluster.  I called him a few times and heard no come back; so I decided to move on up to 20 Meters.

20 Meters turned out to be the better band.  My farthest DX QSOs happened there with S58AL in Slovenia and ON4RO in Belgium. I also ended up working Arizona and Washington state on 20 Meters. So even though I made it to Europe, this is where the Reverse Beacon Network picked me up:

Just before 1600 UTC, I was visited by a Park Ranger who came to put up a sign showing that the picnic grounds had been reserved by a Baptist Church group for a BBQ.  It was booked for 1:00 PM local or 1700 UTC.  I decided to pack it in, anyway.  My original plan was to put in about two hours, so that I wouldn't be away from the family for the entire day; and I put in my two hours, so I was happy.

The highlights of the day were working Kay Craigie N3KN, Dave Benson K1SWL of Small Wonder Labs and Rockmite fame, as well as Paul Signorelli W0RW, of QRP and Paraset Pedestrian Mobile fame.  It's always cool when you go on an outing like this and hear the call signs of people you regard as friends.  Not to say that ALL of you aren't friends ........ but you know what I mean!

37 QSOs later, my activation of AA17 was in the books for the day.  I still hope to join up with Dave Hackett KD2FSI to activate the Pine Barrens and the Delaware Water Gap and the Appalachian Trail before NPOTA comes to a close - so stay tuned!

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

New Jersey QSO Party this weekend!

Not one of the biggies, by any means, but the Burlington County Amateur Radio Club has been working their tails off to get the NJ QSO Party back in the mainstream.  For years, there was a lack of participation; but due to their diligence, it seems to be making a comeback.

For all the details, please visit:

I have a Middlesex County OEM work detail to attend in the morning.  I hope to get some operating time in sometime during the afternoon.  Maybe out on the patio table with the mag loop?

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