Posts Tagged ‘Buddistick’

Do You Travel? Don’t Forget Your Ham Gear! – ETH087

In this episode of the Everything Ham Radio Podcast, we talk with Vance Martin, N3VEM, about how he takes his Ham Radio Equipment with him when he goes on business trips. If you travel at all, you know the boringness of sitting in a hotel room after working all day, right? Maybe it is a new city, or maybe you have to be up early and don’t want to “go out” and be out late so you are able to function the next day.

So why not take your ham radio equipment with you while you travel and use that down time to make some contacts? This can also give you a chance to get out of your shack and get some fresh air and make some contacts to boot.

Vance and I talk about everything from what he does before he leaves, to what to do at the airport to how he operates while he has down time while traveling. Check out the show notes and listen to the episode by following the link below:

http://www.everythinghamradio.com/podcast/87

ETH084 – Hurricane Harvey, Solar Eclipse, HamJam 2017 and More…

In this episode, I am joined by Ian Kahn, KM4IK, as a guest co-host. Ian has been on my podcast before in episode 69 where we talked about PSK31 and in episode 74 where we talked about Field Day. I have really enjoyed having Ian on my show and was happy that he agreed to join me in this episode as a guest co-host.

We had a great conversation about many major things that have happened recently.

We start off talking about the major event hitting my home state of Texas and reeking major damage all along the Gulf Coast. Yea, I’m talking about Hurricane Harvey. I have several friends that are helping out right now down in the disaster area and more planning on deploying there soon.

We continue our discussion with last weeks major event, the “Great American Solar Eclipse”. We talk about our experience was, some things that we saw and was other hams around the country were doing, including the study that was performed by HamSci.

We went on to talk about how it never seems to fail how things always “come back into style”. Morse code is coming back to the Navy, HF is being taught to the national guard to use instead of relying totally on Satellite Phone communications and also how there is a push to get back into using Earth base navigation for ships at least as a back up to GPS.

We wrap up the episode by talking about HamJam 2017 in November. HamJam is a ham radio conference with three great speakers talking about three great topics. There are several really awesome raffle items.

Check out the show notes and listen to the episode

A Tip o’ the Hat


I really have to extend a hearty "tip o' the hat" to all you QRP SSB guys out there.  Not being used to SSB operations, not being used to QRP SSB operations has provided me with a learning experience. In your writer's most humble opinion, QRP SSB has a difficulty factor of 10X compared to QRP CW.

Today during lunch time, I was hunting around for NPOTA stations on 20 Meters.  Not hearing anything on the CW bands, I moved on up to the realm of voice - foreign territory, indeed!.  There I heard two stations. K0USA on 14.260 MHz and K0RP on 14.340 MHz.  K0RP was very weak, with QSB making it worse. K0USA was a good 5X5 into NJ and even 5X7 when QSB would let up. I decided to  concentrate on Mary, who was the op behind the mic.  It took the better of 15 minutes, but I got in the log - and it was a new one for me, MN46, the Homestead National Historical Monument in Nebraska.

For her part, Mary did a superb job dealing with my weak signal.  Only 5 Watts to the Buddistick has gotten me decent results on SSB in the past, but today, with the monstrous QSB, it was their beam (which was pointed south, by the way - I was off the side) and her great ears that made the difference. I owe her a ton of gratitude for sticking with me and granting me the ATNO.

Getting back to the topic of SSB vs CW ..... I'm pretty confident in my CW skills. From past practise, it's pretty easy for me to gauge who is workable and who isn't. I still get surprised from time to time; but I've gotten pretty good at figuring out who I am able work and who I am not..

QRP SSB is still a crap shoot for me. Like I stated, it's foreign territory.  To make things even worse, shall we say that patience is a "hard won virtue" for me?  Living in New Jersey all my life, I'm used to the fast pace of the Northeast. Things, especially at work, are wanted yesterday.  I'm used to dealing with that, and delivering those kind of fast results.  The downside is, that I've come to expect that, in return.  Waiting is still a battle for me.  Not in all situations, but in many - especially when I am dealing with myself.

QRP SSB is an extra hard challenge for me and will be for quite a while. The upside is hopefully, I'll become more skilled at it; and I'll also gain more patience, because of it..

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


A Tip o’ the Hat


I really have to extend a hearty "tip o' the hat" to all you QRP SSB guys out there.  Not being used to SSB operations, not being used to QRP SSB operations has provided me with a learning experience. In your writer's most humble opinion, QRP SSB has a difficulty factor of 10X compared to QRP CW.

Today during lunch time, I was hunting around for NPOTA stations on 20 Meters.  Not hearing anything on the CW bands, I moved on up to the realm of voice - foreign territory, indeed!.  There I heard two stations. K0USA on 14.260 MHz and K0RP on 14.340 MHz.  K0RP was very weak, with QSB making it worse. K0USA was a good 5X5 into NJ and even 5X7 when QSB would let up. I decided to  concentrate on Mary, who was the op behind the mic.  It took the better of 15 minutes, but I got in the log - and it was a new one for me, MN46, the Homestead National Historical Monument in Nebraska.

For her part, Mary did a superb job dealing with my weak signal.  Only 5 Watts to the Buddistick has gotten me decent results on SSB in the past, but today, with the monstrous QSB, it was their beam (which was pointed south, by the way - I was off the side) and her great ears that made the difference. I owe her a ton of gratitude for sticking with me and granting me the ATNO.

Getting back to the topic of SSB vs CW ..... I'm pretty confident in my CW skills. From past practise, it's pretty easy for me to gauge who is workable and who isn't. I still get surprised from time to time; but I've gotten pretty good at figuring out who I am able work and who I am not..

QRP SSB is still a crap shoot for me. Like I stated, it's foreign territory.  To make things even worse, shall we say that patience is a "hard won virtue" for me?  Living in New Jersey all my life, I'm used to the fast pace of the Northeast. Things, especially at work, are wanted yesterday.  I'm used to dealing with that, and delivering those kind of fast results.  The downside is, that I've come to expect that, in return.  Waiting is still a battle for me.  Not in all situations, but in many - especially when I am dealing with myself.

QRP SSB is an extra hard challenge for me and will be for quite a while. The upside is hopefully, I'll become more skilled at it; and I'll also gain more patience, because of it..

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


I had hoped for better results

As planned, I went and activated Morristown National Historical Park (HP28) for NPOTA. Things didn't turn out as well as I had hoped; but it was still a good time nonetheless.


I got to the park on time, right before Noon (1600 UTC).  I allowed my TomTom GPS unit to bring me up to Jockey Hollow via a new route which I had never taken before. This brought me up through the Great Dismal Swamp, which is designated as a National Wildlife Refuge.  It is truly a beautiful area and as I was driving through, I could see herons and egrets and all sorts of birds in the marshes. Seeing that the Great Dismal Swamp is designated as a National Wildlife Refuge, I was wondering why it's not listed as one of the NPOTA WR entities.  A little Googling revealed that the Swamp is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and not the National Parks Service. That's a shame because that would be a really beautiful area to set up a portable operation from.

Anyway, I got to the Park and got set up, which by now, only takes me a few minutes. After so many lunch time QRP sessions, I could do this in my sleep, or with my eyes shut.


Since I was planning on operating some SSB in case there was a lack of activity, I brought along my big, heavy Werker deep cycle battery. I figured that this way, I could operate for an extended period of time at the 10 Watt SSB level if I needed to. And boy, did it turn out that I needed to!

The first thing I did after setting up was tune to around 14.061 MHz - the neighborhood of the QRP Watering Hole. I was shocked by what I heard - wall to wall CW signals! There was literally nowhere to sit where there wasn't a station calling "CQ TEST".  I didn't realize that today was the RUDX, the Russian DX Contest - and boy, it filled the band!

I went on up to 17 Meters and heard some Europeans that were very loud. Knowing that meant the band was wide open, I easily found a clear spot at 18.082 MHz and proceeded to call "CQ NPOTA". The band was wide open, but as it turned out, there wasn't much if any activity. I worked K0IG right off the bat and then ...... nothing.

Not wanting to waste too much time, I got out of the Jeep and switched from the Buddistick to my 40 Meter Hamstick.  I went down to 7.037 MHz, called CQ and was greeted by the normal NPOTA pileup. I was stoked and began to work station after station. The only bad thing was that the initial pileup lasted for only a few minutes, and then I began the monotonous routine of calling "CQ NPOTA" and waiting minutes in between answers.

Getting bored, I decided to give 20 Meters another try. Off came the Hamstick and up went the Buddistick.  I called CQ for a bit and got a couple of QSO completed on 14.060 MHz, but it was tough.  The stations calling me were loud, but their calls were being blanketed by even louder DX stations. Those guys had to be using mondo power.  How much do they allow over in Europe, anyway?

Sitting there, disappointed as heck, I was ready to pack it in and head home a bit early. Then an inspiration occurred that maybe I should give 20 Meter SSB a whirl. Even though I'm not an avid fan of SSB, I decided to give it a shot. I was rewarded with a small run of about a dozen stations before that too, ended up petering out.

I had gone up to HP28 with a spiral notebook, thinking I would fill pages with call signs. After all, my outing to TR23 in January netted me over 80 QSOs. For some reason. I was thinking I would break that record easily. Just the opposite happened!  I ended up with only 27 QSOs - but you know what?  I discovered that a bad day of Amateur Radio is STILL better than a good day at work. So I'm a happy camper, anyway.

This only gives me more incentive to go back up to HP28 later this year, but this time throw a wire into a tree.  I know that's kind of verboten, and on Facebook, someone actually related how they were asked to leave a park the other day for doing that. With that in mind, just before I left, I went to the visitor center and explained that I was an Amateur Radio operator and what NPOTA was (she knew what it was, by the way) and asked if there was any prohibition about wires in trees. She said as long as it was temporary, and would cause no damage and would not interfere with anyone else's visit, that they were OK with it.

So when I got back to the car, just for the heck of it, I attempted to launch a line over a limb just to see how it would go.  30 plus feet on the first try.

I'll be back, Jockey Hollow!

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

I had hoped for better results

As planned, I went and activated Morristown National Historical Park (HP28) for NPOTA. Things didn't turn out as well as I had hoped; but it was still a good time nonetheless.


I got to the park on time, right before Noon (1600 UTC).  I allowed my TomTom GPS unit to bring me up to Jockey Hollow via a new route which I had never taken before. This brought me up through the Great Dismal Swamp, which is designated as a National Wildlife Refuge.  It is truly a beautiful area and as I was driving through, I could see herons and egrets and all sorts of birds in the marshes. Seeing that the Great Dismal Swamp is designated as a National Wildlife Refuge, I was wondering why it's not listed as one of the NPOTA WR entities.  A little Googling revealed that the Swamp is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and not the National Parks Service. That's a shame because that would be a really beautiful area to set up a portable operation from.

Anyway, I got to the Park and got set up, which by now, only takes me a few minutes. After so many lunch time QRP sessions, I could do this in my sleep, or with my eyes shut.


Since I was planning on operating some SSB in case there was a lack of activity, I brought along my big, heavy Werker deep cycle battery. I figured that this way, I could operate for an extended period of time at the 10 Watt SSB level if I needed to. And boy, did it turn out that I needed to!

The first thing I did after setting up was tune to around 14.061 MHz - the neighborhood of the QRP Watering Hole. I was shocked by what I heard - wall to wall CW signals! There was literally nowhere to sit where there wasn't a station calling "CQ TEST".  I didn't realize that today was the RUDX, the Russian DX Contest - and boy, it filled the band!

I went on up to 17 Meters and heard some Europeans that were very loud. Knowing that meant the band was wide open, I easily found a clear spot at 18.082 MHz and proceeded to call "CQ NPOTA". The band was wide open, but as it turned out, there wasn't much if any activity. I worked K0IG right off the bat and then ...... nothing.

Not wanting to waste too much time, I got out of the Jeep and switched from the Buddistick to my 40 Meter Hamstick.  I went down to 7.037 MHz, called CQ and was greeted by the normal NPOTA pileup. I was stoked and began to work station after station. The only bad thing was that the initial pileup lasted for only a few minutes, and then I began the monotonous routine of calling "CQ NPOTA" and waiting minutes in between answers.

Getting bored, I decided to give 20 Meters another try. Off came the Hamstick and up went the Buddistick.  I called CQ for a bit and got a couple of QSO completed on 14.060 MHz, but it was tough.  The stations calling me were loud, but their calls were being blanketed by even louder DX stations. Those guys had to be using mondo power.  How much do they allow over in Europe, anyway?

Sitting there, disappointed as heck, I was ready to pack it in and head home a bit early. Then an inspiration occurred that maybe I should give 20 Meter SSB a whirl. Even though I'm not an avid fan of SSB, I decided to give it a shot. I was rewarded with a small run of about a dozen stations before that too, ended up petering out.

I had gone up to HP28 with a spiral notebook, thinking I would fill pages with call signs. After all, my outing to TR23 in January netted me over 80 QSOs. For some reason. I was thinking I would break that record easily. Just the opposite happened!  I ended up with only 27 QSOs - but you know what?  I discovered that a bad day of Amateur Radio is STILL better than a good day at work. So I'm a happy camper, anyway.

This only gives me more incentive to go back up to HP28 later this year, but this time throw a wire into a tree.  I know that's kind of verboten, and on Facebook, someone actually related how they were asked to leave a park the other day for doing that. With that in mind, just before I left, I went to the visitor center and explained that I was an Amateur Radio operator and what NPOTA was (she knew what it was, by the way) and asked if there was any prohibition about wires in trees. She said as long as it was temporary, and would cause no damage and would not interfere with anyone else's visit, that they were OK with it.

So when I got back to the car, just for the heck of it, I attempted to launch a line over a limb just to see how it would go.  30 plus feet on the first try.

I'll be back, Jockey Hollow!

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

NPOTA – Brrrrrrrrr!

Of course, W2LJ picks one of the coldest, windiest days of the Winter season (so far) to do an NPOTA activation. Of course!  But it was a blast (of cold air) nonetheless - even if I still haven't warmed up some hours later.

We got a light dusting of snow yesterday, which was a prelude to today. It was sunny and clear, but the winds were blustery and our high temperature for the day was reached last night at Midnight. Ever since then, the temperatures have been dropping. As I type this, it's currently 16F (-9C) outside. While I activated NPOTA, it was 24F (-4C).


I headed out at 11:40 AM to the Washington-Rochambeau National Historical Trail TR23, which we know as Old Raritan Road in Scotch Plains, NJ.  I wanted to set up at the historic  Frazee House, but that part of Old Raritan Road is currently blocked off for repaving.  I settled for operating at the entrance to the Ashbrook Country Club golf course in steady.  It's right on the trail, as you can see from the photo above. At the entrance to the golf course is the remnants of a cannon that was used in the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777, as seen in the photo below.


Set up was easy, I've done it so many times at lunchtime at work that I could do it in my sleep. The cold made things a tad more difficult, though; but I was ready to get on the air at Noon (1700 UTC), just as I had planned.

I started out on 20 Meters, using the Buddistick.  It really helps to bring a cell phone along on these kind of outings. Having a smart phone enabled me to go onto the DX Summit Website and self spot. Within a few seconds of sending the spot, I was busy handling QSOs.  There was never a really deep pileup, but there weren't many lulls either.  When a lull hit, I used the opportunity to either change bands, or turn on the car to warm it up a bit.  As an experienced QRPer, and being used to working weak signals, you get into the mindset to avoid as much background noise as possible. While I was operating, the engine was off. I would rather be a bit cold than miss another QRPer because of engine noise.

After 20 Meters, I operated on 17 Meters for a while. I had wanted to use 18.086 MHz, but I could tell that was pileup territory for one of the DXpeditions.  So I "QRL"ed on 18.072 MHz, and not hearing any answer, I camped out there for a while.

When the Jeep interior cooled down as to start becoming uncomfortable (I'm ALL about comfort!), I took the opportunity to warm the interior up, and to switch from the Buddistick to the 40 Meter Hamstick.  I get a better match with the Hamstick, only 1.3:1, which is lower that the 1.8:1 that I get with the Buddistick.  I still have to work on finding the ideal combination of arms and whip length for 40 Meters on the Buddistick. 40 Meters was as productive as 20 Meters.  Most of the QSOs were made on those two bands, although 17 Meters was not a slouch by any means.


I called it a day at 3:00 PM (2000 UTC) just as I had planned.  In the end, I made 88 QSOs, which is actually way better that any Bumblebee or Skeeter outing that I have had, and is not bad for 5 Watts to less than full sized antennas. My best DX was California, Arizona, Puerto Rico and two stations from Belgium.  I worked a few of you readers that I know from here, and I thank you heartily for those Qs. I also worked my best friend and Ham Radio mentor, Bob W3BBO. I worked QRP notables Steve WG0AT, Guy N7UN, fellow QRP Fox hunter Chris KQ2RP, and I also worked Kay Craigie N3KN, outgoing President of the ARRL.

But the best QSO of the day was when I worked Dave KD2FSI, who I logged for at Jockey Hollow on Saturday.  This was perhaps Dave's second or third CW QSO, maybe?  It was a blast to be there and to hear his fist on the air!

All the QSOs have been uploaded to LoTW. I can't wait to activate another NPOTA entity. The bug has really bit now. As the seasons change, and the weather gets warmer, the strategy will change from antennas mounted on the Jeep, to perhaps wires tossed in the trees.  The best is definitely yet to come!  Thank you Sean KX9X and the ARRL for sponsoring this great program!

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




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