Posts Tagged ‘common sense’

Broke the 100 confirmations mark today!

NPOTA, that is:


I actually have about 1/2 a dozen more that haven't been confirmed yet. According to LotW, those stations have not uploaded logs since their activations.  A few were a while ago, so I guess it's possible that maybe they won't.

While working a few today, it was extremely embarrassing and saddening to see so may out there have no clue on how to handle themselves in a pileup.  Guys ..... YOU HAVE TO LISTEN!

Throwing out your call sign ad nauseum without taking a moment to listen is the number one earmark of lid-dome. Seriously, if you send out your call ten times without taking a breath, how are you going to know if the activator is calling you back? By the time you've stopped sending your call, the activator has worked someone else and is calling QRZ again (and everyone else in the pileup has taken note of your call sign - you can count on it!). DON'T BE AN ALLIGATOR!  You know, all mouth and no ears! Throw out your call once - maybe twice max, and then open up those ear holes and listen!

Which leads to a second and related problem.  If you can't hear the station you are trying to work, you have NO business sending out your call, in the first place.  If you can't hear the station well enough to know that he's answering someone else - or worse, is in QSO with someone else; but you keep sending your call anyway ..... bad scene, man, bad scene.  You've marked yourself as a QRM generator and no one likes those. Don't rely on the Cluster. Just because DX Summit says Joe Ham is on 7.034 MHz at NPOTA NP256 ..... if you can't hear him, then don't even try.  It's a waste of your time and everyone else in the pileup is going to think you're an idiot.

Now everyone makes an honest mistake now and then, and that's OK,  But you can tell when someone has no clue as to what they're doing. And frighteningly, it seems to be becoming more and more common.

It's OK to be excited and enthusiastic. It's not OK to be reckless or use poor operating practises. Use common sense, read the DX Code of Conduct and you'll be OK.

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

Broke the 100 confirmations mark today!

NPOTA, that is:


I actually have about 1/2 a dozen more that haven't been confirmed yet. According to LotW, those stations have not uploaded logs since their activations.  A few were a while ago, so I guess it's possible that maybe they won't.

While working a few today, it was extremely embarrassing and saddening to see so may out there have no clue on how to handle themselves in a pileup.  Guys ..... YOU HAVE TO LISTEN!

Throwing out your call sign ad nauseum without taking a moment to listen is the number one earmark of lid-dome. Seriously, if you send out your call ten times without taking a breath, how are you going to know if the activator is calling you back? By the time you've stopped sending your call, the activator has worked someone else and is calling QRZ again (and everyone else in the pileup has taken note of your call sign - you can count on it!). DON'T BE AN ALLIGATOR!  You know, all mouth and no ears! Throw out your call once - maybe twice max, and then open up those ear holes and listen!

Which leads to a second and related problem.  If you can't hear the station you are trying to work, you have NO business sending out your call, in the first place.  If you can't hear the station well enough to know that he's answering someone else - or worse, is in QSO with someone else; but you keep sending your call anyway ..... bad scene, man, bad scene.  You've marked yourself as a QRM generator and no one likes those. Don't rely on the Cluster. Just because DX Summit says Joe Ham is on 7.034 MHz at NPOTA NP256 ..... if you can't hear him, then don't even try.  It's a waste of your time and everyone else in the pileup is going to think you're an idiot.

Now everyone makes an honest mistake now and then, and that's OK,  But you can tell when someone has no clue as to what they're doing. And frighteningly, it seems to be becoming more and more common.

It's OK to be excited and enthusiastic. It's not OK to be reckless or use poor operating practises. Use common sense, read the DX Code of Conduct and you'll be OK.

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

The Radio Amateur’s Code

The Radio Amateur's Code

CONSIDERATE...He/[She] never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL...He/[She] offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, the IARU Radio Society in his/[her] country, through which Amateur Radio in his/[her] country is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE...He/[She] keeps his/[her] station up to date.  It is well-built and efficient.  His/[Her] operating practice is above reproach.

FRIENDLY...He/[She] operates slowly and patiently when requested; offers friendly advice and counsel to beginners; kind assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the marks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED...Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC...His/[Her] station and skills are always ready for service to country and community.

The original version of this was written in 1928, by Paul M Segal W9EEA, and it's been modified over the years as things change with the times. The core message remains the same though, as it's pretty much timeless.

The one trait that I want to touch upon today, is the "Balanced" one.

The Radio Amateur is:

BALANCED...Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

Sometimes, I think we forget this one the most, and the evidence is not that hard to find. Take a wander on over to Facebook, or listen to a repeater and it's pretty obvious that some of us become seriously preoccupied or obsessed with such activities as NPOTA, contesting, DXing, county hunting, SOTA, etc.

Amateur Radio, on the whole, and these activities in particular are good and wholesome things. For instance, I'm certain that a lot of our wives, husbands and significant others would rather have us in the shack, yakking away on our radios than spending the month's mortgage money in bars,saloons, casinos or race tracks.

But it's easy to lose focus and become obsessed.  Radio sport that involves chasing that elusive country, county, SOTA peak, NPOTA entity or whatever should never become the focus of our lives, or our reason for being.  Just as purchasing that new rig, antenna, or piece of test equipment should never result in being unable to pay the mortgage, rent or put food on the table. It should also never result in the kid's college fund being raided.

Do you enter the shack on a Friday night for a contest, only to emerge late Sunday evening or early Monday morning?  That's not good, my friends.

Even an essential thing can become bad, if you're not careful. Are you that someone who HAS to be at every civic function or training class?  Even public service, as worthy and noble a cause as it is, should never become between you and your family.  Before going out to respond to any disaster or emergency, the health and welfare of your loved ones should always be your top priority. If they're not taken care of, you don't go.

The bottom line is that there's more to life than Amateur Radio. In our quest to satisfy our passion, sometimes we forget that. Family, friends, loved ones and those relationships are way more important, and should always come before getting that high score, or working that 300th country or buying that newest, latest and greatest radio.

Always keep in the back of your mind that the greatest gift you can give your family is your time. If you're doing OK with that, then you're doing a good job with the "Balanced" part of The Radio Amateur's Code.

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

The Radio Amateur’s Code

The Radio Amateur's Code

CONSIDERATE...He/[She] never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL...He/[She] offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, the IARU Radio Society in his/[her] country, through which Amateur Radio in his/[her] country is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE...He/[She] keeps his/[her] station up to date.  It is well-built and efficient.  His/[Her] operating practice is above reproach.

FRIENDLY...He/[She] operates slowly and patiently when requested; offers friendly advice and counsel to beginners; kind assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the marks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED...Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC...His/[Her] station and skills are always ready for service to country and community.

The original version of this was written in 1928, by Paul M Segal W9EEA, and it's been modified over the years as things change with the times. The core message remains the same though, as it's pretty much timeless.

The one trait that I want to touch upon today, is the "Balanced" one.

The Radio Amateur is:

BALANCED...Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

Sometimes, I think we forget this one the most, and the evidence is not that hard to find. Take a wander on over to Facebook, or listen to a repeater and it's pretty obvious that some of us become seriously preoccupied or obsessed with such activities as NPOTA, contesting, DXing, county hunting, SOTA, etc.

Amateur Radio, on the whole, and these activities in particular are good and wholesome things. For instance, I'm certain that a lot of our wives, husbands and significant others would rather have us in the shack, yakking away on our radios than spending the month's mortgage money in bars,saloons, casinos or race tracks.

But it's easy to lose focus and become obsessed.  Radio sport that involves chasing that elusive country, county, SOTA peak, NPOTA entity or whatever should never become the focus of our lives, or our reason for being.  Just as purchasing that new rig, antenna, or piece of test equipment should never result in being unable to pay the mortgage, rent or put food on the table. It should also never result in the kid's college fund being raided.

Do you enter the shack on a Friday night for a contest, only to emerge late Sunday evening or early Monday morning?  That's not good, my friends.

Even an essential thing can become bad, if you're not careful. Are you that someone who HAS to be at every civic function or training class?  Even public service, as worthy and noble a cause as it is, should never become between you and your family.  Before going out to respond to any disaster or emergency, the health and welfare of your loved ones should always be your top priority. If they're not taken care of, you don't go.

The bottom line is that there's more to life than Amateur Radio. In our quest to satisfy our passion, sometimes we forget that. Family, friends, loved ones and those relationships are way more important, and should always come before getting that high score, or working that 300th country or buying that newest, latest and greatest radio.

Always keep in the back of your mind that the greatest gift you can give your family is your time. If you're doing OK with that, then you're doing a good job with the "Balanced" part of The Radio Amateur's Code.

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

Some friendly NPOTA (and portable ops, in general) advice

If you've never done any type of portable operating and you're intrigued by NPOTA, and are thinking of activating a park or entity, there are several things that you need to do. To a lot of QRPers, this will all be "Elementary, my dear Watson", as so may of us are used to taking our radios to all kinds of off-the-beaten-path locations.  But if you've never left the friendly confines of your Home shack before, here are some things to consider:

1) Scope out the entity or park before "Game Day". Know where you're going to operate from. Is there an out of the way place where you can set up, or will you be right in the thick of things?  Are there any prohibitions/releases/permissions needed?  You want to know about these things and get them out of the way and taken care of before Activation Day. There's nothing as disheartening as showing up and having a Park Ranger come up to you and say, "You can't do this, because (insert any number of reasons) .........". And, while we're on the subject of Park Rangers ......... I know this is so basic as to almost be insulting, but I'm going to mention it anyway. No matter what else happens during your activation, PLEASE ..... at all times be  cooperative, courteous and respectful to NPS employees. They're just there doing their job. It's important that we present Amateur Radio operators and Amateur Radio operations through the best lens possible. Don't ruin things for your future brother and sister Hams by being rude, pushy, or by having an attitude.

2) Know your equipment, know your antennas.  Know what works, what doesn't. Take what you need (with backups), but leave the fluff at home. If you've never done a portable operations gig outside of Field Day, then you need some practice.  Portable operations are not quite the same as Field Day. Close, but not quite the same.  First off, your activation more than likely won't be for 24 hours, so you're going to have to consider power.  Power is the most important thing.  4, 5 or 6 hours at the 100 Watt level?  You're going to need to bring heavy, fully charged deep cycle batteries with you. 4, 5 or 6 hours at QRP levels? Life gets much easier. Smaller, lighter SLAs or better yet, feather-weight lithium ion batteries will serve you well.

Second, you may very well be "it".  Solo ... a party of one.  So that means all the work will be performed by you. Make sure your setup will be manageable by you, alone without any outside help. Don't be overly ambitious. There's nothing wrong with just tossing a wire into a tree and going "au natural". If you can manage elaborate that's all well and good, but this is supposed to be enjoyable for you, too. The KISS* principle is a good one to remember and it applies to NPOTA and portable ops in general, very, very well.

Antennas.  Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" solution, but the idea is to make a lot of contacts. You don't want to spend all your precious time setting up aerials to get on the air, so go with antennas that are relatively easy to set up quickly. Operating stationary mobile from the car?  Hamsticks, Buddisticks, Buddipoles, screwdriver antennas are all good choices.  Operating away from the car?  End fed wires, Buddipoles, Buddisticks, dipole antennas, and the Alex Loop are all good choices, but again, your environment (presence of trees or not?) and/or park rules will be a big factor in deciding what you can or cannot use.

Logging. Logging is one of the most important aspects of NPOTA, and you really can't be casual about it.  So far, in the early moments of NPOTA, it appears as though this program is quite the huge hit. It's not unusual to tune across the HF bands and hear pileups taking place. All these NPOTA chasers want credit for their time and effort. It's your duty as an Activator, to do your best to record the QSOs as reasonably accurately as you can. Bring an accurate watch with you, preferably one that can be set up to display UTC time.  For the actual task of logging, whether you bring along your laptop, or log on your cellphone (Hamlog is excellent for this!), or even log using plain ol'  paper and pencil, you need to perform this task efficiently and well. Keep in mind that you will need to upload your logs to the ARRL's Logbook of the World.  This is how Activators and Chasers get credit.  If you're not already on LotW,  then you need to send in for a password and set up an account. If you're already an LotW user, you will need to download and install the latest version of Trusted QSL. This will allow you to set up locations for your account other than "Home" using the NPOTA entity designators as location names. THIS IS IMPORTANT! If you do not upload your log using the NPOTA entity designator as your location, neither you or your chasers will get credit for all your effort.  Believe me, you do not want hundreds of e-mails from angry NPOTA chasers asking you why they didn't get credit for working you. Not that that would ever, ever happen!  ;-)

If your NPOTA activation will be your first solo portable experience, go to a local park away from home and try your setup there. Some people would recommend setting up in the backyard, but it's way too convenient to just walk back into the house if you've forgotten something. When you're away from home, even if it's a short distance, and you discover you have forgotten something vital, you are way more than likely to never, ever forget it again. Don't feel bad about making a checklist for yourself. Checklists are very, very good things.

3) Know yourself. Know your limits. Everyone would like to go hiking and activate that trail, or activate that park in the middle of the beauty and solitude of Nature .....but if you can't walk to the corner mailbox without getting winded - you're not going to activate a SOTA peak or a mountain trail.  If you need to, find a place with a parking lot (gives you the option to operate from the car if you're not the outdoors type or if the weather is bad), picnic tables (if you're only somewhat the outdoors type) and "facilities" so your activation can be an enjoyable, exhilarating experience that you will want to repeat, and not look back upon with dread. You're most likely to enjoy your outing if you're comfortable, so dress appropriately, bring along water (and snacks if you need to), bring along some type of folding chair if you think it will be required.

4) Bring your cell phone and one of whatever VHF. UHF, VHF/UHF handheld(s) you may own. God forbid you sprain an ankle and need help, it just a call way, via telephone call or a repeater contact. The cell phone has an added benefit. If you are lucky enough to have cell service at your chosen location, you can log onto DX Summit or DX Heat and you can self spot your activation. You can quite literally go from calling CQ to pile up conditions within seconds. If you do self spot, please make sure to put "NPOTA" and your entity designator in the comments portion of the spot.

I really hope the above doesn't scare you off or deter you. It wasn't meant to, it was meant to bring some common sense ideas to be considered by new, or less experienced portable operators. Once you've left the shack and have gotten into the Great Outdoors, with your radio providing you with fun and companionship, I guarantee that you will be smitten and will want to go out and do it again, and again, and again, and again.

One last caveat. I am by no means an expert on portable ops. I'm not a SOTA Mountain Goat, nor a W1PID nor a WG0AT nor a N7UN, nor a K0JQZ for that matter.  I'm just offering basic advice based upon my own limited experience. The comment box is always open, so please feel free to add to what I have written here; or correct me on anything I may have gotten wrong. We all learn when we share.

I've posted this video before, but to see how simple, easy and fun and successful this can be, here's the YouTube video that Sean Kutzko KX9X posted about his activation of Pigeon Key in Florida.


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

*KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Ham Radio to the rescue!

After kind of causing the problem, in the first place.

http://kdvr.com/2015/05/17/littleton-snowshoer-rescued-after-falling-off-icy-ledge/

Thanks to Drew W2OU for pointing this one out.

But in all seriousness folks, portable ops can seem harmless, but they come with their own hazards and some can be life threatening.

Just a few basic things to keep in mind:

Don't go hiking alone if you're unfamiliar with the trail. It's too easy to get lost. I speak of this one from personal experience. Once I was out on a hike in the Adirondacks on an unfamiliar trail for the first time, and I took a turn I shouldn't have and found myself off the trail. Fortunately, I kept calm, retraced my steps and found my way back quickly and easily. However, if you panic, all bets may be off. Moral of the story - two or more sets of eyes are better than one when looking for trail markers.

Always take along extra water, food and appropriate clothing. While it may be hot and sunny when you start out, weather can and often does change in a heart beat, so keep weather conditions in mind. For good measure, always bring along your VHF/UHF handheld, it could literally save your life.

Let someone know where you're going and approximately how long you'll be gone.

This is an obvious one, but people sometimes forget. If you can hear thunder, shut the station down! A storm does not have to be right on top of you to be a lightning threat. Lightning bolts can touch down more than 10 miles away from a thunderstorm's leading edge.

Portable operating is about the most fun you can have in Amateur Radio, but you have to approach it in a common sense fashion.

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

FYBO 2015 – this Saturday!

Freeze Your B____ Off 2015 is this coming Saturday - the opening event of the 2015 Outdoor QRP Operating season!  If the weathermen are correct, and these days, who knows? Anyway, if the weathermen are correct, Saturday will be the last day before a significant three day snow event here in Central New Jersey. As of right this second, the forecasted high temperature for Saturday is expected to be 39F (4C), with overcast skies. That would be a 4X multiplier at the very least.

So I have several options. I can operate from outdoors - probably the picnic table in the back yard, but that's still covered with ice from last Monday's ice storm - it's never gotten above freezing since that nasty little clipper came through here. I can also operate from inside the Jeep. The advantage there is that all I have to do is plop the Buddistick on the roof - after I chip away the ice that's still on the top of it! But, with the heat off, the temperature inside the Jeep will be the same as the outdoors. Operating in this manner wouldn't qualify for the Mobile category, but it would be much dryer than the picnic table. I have time to decide - there's no hurry, and it will depend how adventurous I feel and how clogged up my head is on Saturday. Don't want this slight head cold that I am dealing with to develop into bronchitis or something worse.

FYBO rules haven't changed much, with the exception that this year, teams are being allowed. Here's the URL for the page with the latest rules posting: http://www.azscqrpions.com/fybo2009rules.html

I guess I should make sure all my batteries are charged up for this weekend!

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

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