Posts Tagged ‘clubs’

It was the coax!

After being stuck inside during lunchtime last week, due to workload and/or weather, I was finally able to get out today.  This was the first opportunity (if you don’t count the weekend) that I had to try out the tri-magmount with the Buddistick since changing out the coax. Well, it was the coax that was giving me fits.  With the new coax, the KX3 tuned the antenna in mere seconds and once it tuned, it stayed tuned. No phantom jumping SWR values, everything behaved nicely.

For my efforts, I was able to work W1AW/5 in Arkansas on a different band, Don K2DSV who is a fellow K2ETS Club member, as well as XE2ST, Fernando in Nogales, Mexico.  So I am considering the surgery that I performed on the antenna base to be an unqualified success.

I also spent a lot of time thinking about a posting on KB6NU’s blog about how “New Hams are Different” and the responses that Dan has received.  I think that times have greatly changed, or maybe that’s just my perception.  When I was a Novice back in the late 70s, and joined a local club (which is no longer in existence – and this may be the reason why) there was a kind of a “keep your mouth shut if you’re a Newbie” mentality going on.  New callsigns appearing at meetings or on the repeaters weren’t welcomed all that enthusiastically (as a result, that may be why I’m not real big into VHF/UHF to this very day).  I guess there was kind of a “pay your dues” mentality, back then.  For better or worse, that was the way it was. But guess what? I survived, more or less.  😉

I really believe that I saw that change in the mid 90s, though.  I joined a couple new clubs and was welcomed.  Even though I was licensed for quite a while by then, I was still a neophyte compared to the established “Old Timers” who were a large part of the membership, and I was a comparative stranger, to boot. But in both cases, I was welcomed warmly – I was not shunned, I was not looked down upon, I was accepted into the groups without question.

And that’s the way it should be.  I currently belong to three active local clubs – the K2ETS Electronic Testing Society of NJ, the W2QW Raritan Valley Radio Club as well as the NJ2SP South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club (which I helped to establish).  Since SPARC is so new, I am going to leave it out of the mix for this discussion, but the same philosophy holds there, as well.  In both K2ETS and W2QW, newcomers are welcomed enthusiastically and with open arms.  There’s no “we vs. they” mentality when it comes to new members. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and everyone is listened to. Your age, your gender, your level of experience is really of no matter.

I really don’t see any wide gulfs when it comes to “new” vs. “old” technologies, either.  Those who primarily operate HF only seem to peacefully co-exist with those who like to experiment and build and toy around with Arduinos, Raspeberry Pi’s and the digital voice and data modes.  In fact, I see a lot of the groups co-mingling and getting pointers, answers to questions and operating tips from each other.  Just the way it should be.

Newcomers are welcomed for their new ideas and enthusiasm while “Old Timers” are respected for their experience and built up wealth of tribal knowledge – again, just as it should be.  Guess I’ve been very fortunate to not be involved with “cliquey” organizations. Hopefully, that is becoming everyone else’s experience as well.

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

SPARC Lives!

I guess you could say that tonight was the first, formal meeting of a new Amateur Radio club. The newly formed South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) now lives.  Up until now, we were an “informal’ club, a loosely knitted confederation of Amateur Radio operators who gathered under the CERT umbrella to provide community service to our town.

But now we have a formal constitution and by-laws and we now fall under the banner and protection of the South Plainfield Office of Emergency Management.  Our major purpose is to provide communications and service to the OEM and the town of South Plainfield, NJ. The club documents were signed by the charter members, of which yours truly, is one.  I was appointed to be Trustee of our Club Callsign NJ2SP., which really is just a continuation of what I had been doing.

 Signed constitution – charter members – founders

Our secondary purpose is to highlight Amateur Radio to the public, as well as to try and introduce Amateur Radio to the youth of our town and the surrounding area.  One of the ways we hope to do that is by sponsoring a prominent Field Day effort in a very public park in town.  Since time is short, it was decided to put forth as simple an effort as possible, so we will be doing a two station QRP setup – one station SSB and one station CW.  Since I seem to be the “QRP Guy” in town, I was made Field Day Committee Chairman. Yikes!

It looks like we’ll be using my two KX3s and some simple wire antennas.  While South Plainfield has its share of parks, there are two in particular that have very high visibility. The first is Spring Lake Park, which is actually part of the Middlesex County parks system.

That gazebo to the left in the picture would offer a nice shelter in the even of inclement weather.  The other possibility is Putnam Park,  a municipal  park which has the advantage of being at the intersection of two major roads in town. It sees a lot of traffic and has lots of tall trees, also. The only disadvantage is the lack of a shelter. We would have to procure some kind of tent, canopy, or other portable shelter.

Time is short, and this is definitely going to be a “fly by the seat of the pants” effort at this point.  The main goals will be to have fun and garner some publicity for SPARC and Amateur Radio in general. Since this looks like it’s going to be a QRP expedition on steroids, maybe I can get the other guys in town to be bitten by the “QRP Bug”.

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

Some thoughts

Argh! If my head wasn’t screwed on, I would probably forget that, too!

Rem K6BBQ wanted me to mention that he has added a SOTA category to this year’s inaugural Scorch Your Butt Off contest, coming this July. If you activate a SOTA summit, you can claim an additional 100 points to your SYBO score. Please keep in mind that this has NOTHING to do with your SOTA activation points, this is for your SYBO score only.

I had my last Pastoral Council meeting tonight, so I didn’t get the chance to put any more radials down this evening. I have served on the Parish Pastoral Council for the last four years. Two meetings a month, all year around. That may not sound like much, but there are always many peripheral duties involved, as well as peripheral events where attendance was not mandatory, but desired. The normal term of service is three years, but I was asked to, and served for four. Now that these are going to be over, I will be able to attend Amateur Radio club meetings again. I hesitated to in the past, as I always tried to keep away from being out of the house multiple nights a week. To say my attendance of club meetings was sporadic is being generous. It was, for all intent and purpose, non-existant.

This Friday evening is an Electronic Testing Society of NJ meeting. Fancy name for a repeater club meeting, eh? The group is better known as the Greenbrook repeater group, and the meetings are always the last Friday of the month. Even though this would mean being out two evenings this week, I am going to make a best effort to attend, so as to get back into the swing of things.

I also hope to attend a lot more VE sessions when license exam season starts up again in earnest this September. I have always enjoyed being a VE, going back to the days when I regularly attended and volunteered at the sessions that were offered by the Raritan Bay Radio Amateurs.

I had to go to a remote site at work today, so I didn’t get in my lunchtime QRP session, so no photos today, maybe tomorrow, weather permitting (but alas, it seems there’s a 75% chance of rain for tomorrow).

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

The Cyclone

no ……. not the roller coaster at Coney Island – but a new kit from the Four States QRP Group, designed by Dave Cripes NM0S.

“The Four State QRP Group is pleased to announce the availability of the Cyclone 40 Transceiver.

This innovative and simple transceiver by NMØS is an enhanced version of Dave’s QRP ARCI’s 72 Part Challenge Design Contest entry in 2010. This is a complete kit, including the enclosure. The price is a buck a part plus shipping, $104 total, for domestic sales. Purchasing info and more details are on the kit’s home page here  http://www.4sqrp.com/cyclone.php  Here are some of the design features:

.  All through hole parts and easy assembly. NO SMD parts
.  Less than 100 components
.  Superhet receiver with very good sensitivity and selectivity
.  “Perfect” QSK very high speed and absolutely seamless operation.
.  VFO tunes the entire 125 kHZ CW segment of the 40M band at a comfortable
tuning rate.
.  Transmitter output is nominally 4W.  Those built so far are running ~ 4.6W
.  Frequency readout is included so you know where you are at all times.
.  A very attractive PCB enclosure is included, asy to assemble, looks great.
.  All parts are included, jacks, knobs, enclosure, transformers, everything.
This is a complete kit, including a black enclosure with white silkscreened
labels.

We hope you enjoy this high performance transceiver.”

Looks like the Four States Group have come up with another winner. And at the rate these guys are coming out with kits, we’re going to have to change that famous advertising slogan to: “Like a good neighbor …. Four States is there!”

On a side note, this weekend turned out to be even busier than I had first imagined.  Other than my accomplishments of Friday evening, and an 8 minute QSO with Bob W3BBO on 40 Meters on Saturday afternoon to give a listen to his new HF2V antenna, I was not able to squeeze in any on air time at all.  And that QSO with Bob was a bit disappointing as QSB was so deep that it made our QSO more of an adventure than either of us would have liked. Of course, now that I do have time this Sunday evening, we have thunderstorms off the horizon. So for safety’s sake, instead of getting on the air, I have disconnected the antennas.  The past four days have seen 90F (32C) plus temperatures, for the first real bonafide heatwave of 2013.  According to the weather folks, the coming storms will break the heatwave, but will also have the potential for a lot of lightning, heavy downpours and gusty winds.

Ahh summer, you gotta love it!

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

Two things

Two topics that I wanted to bring up today:

Number One – Don’t forget that this weekend (starting in about 45 minutes from the time that I am typing this out) is the CQWW DX Contest – CW.  The exchange on this is soooooooo simple – RST and your CQ Zone (in my case, that would be 5).

If you are thinking of starting QRP DXCC, in the middle of working on QRP DXCC, or towards the end of reaching QRP DXCC – this contest is a good way of helping to achieve your goal.

Don’t be put off by the high speed and don’t be put off with the fact that you are running 5 Watts or less.

A) There will be plenty of DX stations on the air.  You WILL find ones that you will be able to copy.  Search and pounce until you find someone that doesn’t sound like a buzzsaw to you.  Hey, I’ve been at this for over 30 years and I still run into stations where I just shake my head and say,”Huh?”  If you’re not 10000% confident in your CW copying capabilities, you will have the chance to hear that one station give out their call a jazillion times as they run stations. And if that still doesn’t work for you, and you can only copy a partial call – it’s not a mortal sin to log onto DX Summit or some other DX Cluster to see if you can find that station listed by someone else on the band/frequency that you are hearing them (as long as you are not “officially” entering the contest – then I believe the use of spotting is not allowed). But make your best effort. By the end of the contest you will be amazed at how much your CW copying ability can improve in the course of a weekend.

B)  Put out of your mind that you are QRP. I really mean that. Approach the contest just like anyone else running a 100 Watt barefoot rig.  Look, you’re not going to be able to work everyone you hear – but concentrate on the loud ones at first and don’t be afraid to throw out your call.  Contesting brings out the bionic ears on some of these guys and it’s amazing what they can pull out of the aether – ESPECIALLY towards the end of the contest when they are still hungry for points.  Serious DX contest stations that might not otherwise give you the time of day under normal circumstances WILL go out of their way to pump up their contest score.  Take advantage of that.  As the contest progresses (especially the last 24 hours) you will find that you will be able to work stations other than just the loudest ones, too.  But don’t beat your head against a wall.  If you’re trying and you’re just not being heard, move on and come back and try a little bit later.  Propagation may improve and work in your favor.

Number Two – The Android tablet has some Ham apps available that I didn’t even think of when I purchased mine – namely the Zinio and Kindle apps, which are both free by the way.

“Ham related?” you ask?  Yes, through Zinio, I can read both CQ Digital and WorldRadio Online (Note – the subscriptions for these are NOT free). And since the tablet is small and is a WiFi device, I can take it with me into “The Library” to read, if I choose to – or just about anywhere else for that matter.

The Kindle app is strange in a way.  For books, I actually prefer using my Kindle.  But for e-zines that come in a .pdf format?  It’s perfect!  I could never get the “K9YA Telegraph” to load into my Kindle properly. But with the Kindle app on the tablet, it’s better than sliced bread! Prior to this, when I wanted to read “The Telegraph”, I had to sit in front of the desktop or the netbook.  Not always the most convenient situation. I loaded the latest issue onto my tablet just to see how it would work; and I was like a kid on Christmas.  I have a whole bunch of back issues on my desktop computer that I am going to move onto the tablet via DropBox.  Now I will be able to enjoy them in a more relaxing setting.

The ARRL just recently introduced an app for idevices for QST Digital.  Hopefully, they will come out with an Android app soon and I can do all my Ham Radio magazine reading on my tablet – with the exception of QRP Quarterly, of course ……. although………… anybody from QRP-ARCI reading?  😉

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

Big Brutus

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I love Amateur Radio. Two of my “passions within a passion”  are operating QRP and taking QRP to the great outdoors and operating portable.

I use this blog as a vehicle to promote and publicize those two passions (among others).
So you will forgive me while I extol the adventures of the 4 States QRP Group and their portable operations at Big Brutus.  “What the heck is a Big Brutus?” you might well be asking yourself. I did the first time I heard of it.
Big Brutus is a gigantic electric powered coal shovel that was used in Southeast Kansas.  In 1985, Big Brutus was dedicated as a museum and memorial to Kansas’ rich coal mining history.
The 4 States QRP Group has made an official club outing to Big Brutus for four years now.  You can see a slide show of their outing here.
Thanks to good friend, Terry WAØITP for sharing!

As you can see, this was a well coordinated group event.  But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Whether you’re like our buds from Kansas, here; or whether you’re like Jim W1PID, taking day hikes and making contacts – it’s all good!  I know we’re coming up on colder weather here in North America as we travel farther into Autumn towards Winter …… but it’s never too early for even just thinking about treating yourself to some fun outdoor QRP outings in 2013.

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

New QRP operating event

A new QRP operating event will occur NEXT Saturday – October 6th from 17:00 to 21:OO UTC. It is sponsored by the 4 States QRP Group and is called the “4X4 QRP Sprint”.

For particulars, please visit:
http://www.4sqrp.com/FourByFour/4%20State%204×4%20QRP%20Sprint.pdf

This was the announcement that hit the QRP e-mail reflectors:

QRPsports has a new Sprint to provide lots of fun!

The 4 State QRP Group is sponsoring the new: 4×4 QRP Sprint……..4 hours and your best 4 bands! October 6, 2012……1700 to 2100 UTC

Special Bonus Points for being portable
Special Bonus Points for making a contact with a station using a HamCan
Extra Points for being a member of the 4sqrp reflector or having attended OzarkCon

More on the rules, awards, online downloadable scoring, and Bonus Points, see: http://www.4sqrp.com/4sqrpOnTheAir.php 
Scroll to the 4×4 QRP Sprint information. Its gonna be fun!

72/73….Walter – K5EST – 4×4 QRP Sprint Coordinator

I can deeply appreciate the endeavor of launching a new QRP event!  And any excuse to get outside and operate is a good one as far as I am concerned.  I hope to get out next Saturday and jump into the fray. The  AccuWeather outlook for next weekend in Central NJ is clear with daytime highs in the 60s (18C). So if that holds true, it can potentially be beautiful outdoor operating conditions.

As far as QRP events go – the more the merrier.  Please consider joining in to make the 4 States QRP Group’s new event a rousing success!

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


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