Posts Tagged ‘elmering’

A little dated

but still fun to look through:

The Archie comic book issue devoted to Amateur Radio - https://kk4dsd.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/archies_ham_radio_adventure.pdf


I don't know if kids read comic books, anymore - other than graphic novels.  I was past kidhood when this first came out. As one who DID read Archie comics at one point, I can confidently say, that had it come out when I was a youngster, it would be dog-eared, and practically worn out from being read so much!

Hope it stirs some fond memories for you!

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

A word of advice

This past Saturday, I served as a Volunteer Examiner at the finish line of a "Ham Cram". The Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management offered the day long session in order to allow CERT members from various municipalities throughout the county the chance to earn their Technician licenses. There were twelve participants, and at the end of the day, half of them had earned their licenses.

All of these people were all enthusiastic and determined to become Amateur Radio operators. So what went wrong? Why wasn't there a higher success rate? What went wrong was a lack of lead time and mis-communication.  Some had learned of the Ham Cram session only three days beforehand. The information about the session was directed to the participants through their local municipal OEM directors. Middlesex County OEM did their due diligence by sending out the information in plenty of time, but we all know that information that goes through the chain-of-command can travel particularly slowly, especially if the "powers that be" aren't all that familiar with the information they are passing on. Not realizing that this information was time sensitive proved to be a major handicap.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, or the concept, a Ham Cram is defined as a six or more hour long session where prospective Hams are crammed with the info they need to earn their license.  Think of the all-nighters you may have endured before a particularly tough exam in college. The concept is the same.

The problem with the Ham Cram concept is that many people think they can walk into one as a blank page, and will then walk away as a book filled with all the knowledge they need to pass the license exam.

For the Ham Cram concept to work (and it works remarkably well if implemented correctly), the students need to get their hands on a license manual and read and study for six to eight weeks prior to the Cram session. The Ham Cram session educator needs something to work with. It's highly improbable that someone can walk "cold" off the street and earn their ticket after only six hours of cursory study - unless of course, you have a photographic memory.

Again, going back to the "all-nighter" session in college.  That exam prep marathon came after an entire semester of classes.  You were, in essence,  reviewing what you had hopefully learned throughout the proceeding months. We all know that if you waited until that evening to crack open a book, then you were toast.

Or if you want to think of it another way, the Ham Cram instructor is like a diamond cutter. With a raw diamond he can produce a work of art. Give him a piece of coal and he'll be out of his element. So if you know of a prospective Ham and he or she is talking about participating in a Ham Cram, then the sagest advice you can impart upon them is that they should begin the studying process WAY in advance (weeks/months).  Then they'll arrive at the Ham Cram as a rough diamond ready to be polished into a prized jewel.

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

A word of advice

This past Saturday, I served as a Volunteer Examiner at the finish line of a "Ham Cram". The Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management offered the day long session in order to allow CERT members from various municipalities throughout the county the chance to earn their Technician licenses. There were twelve participants, and at the end of the day, half of them had earned their licenses.

All of these people were all enthusiastic and determined to become Amateur Radio operators. So what went wrong? Why wasn't there a higher success rate? What went wrong was a lack of lead time and mis-communication.  Some had learned of the Ham Cram session only three days beforehand. The information about the session was directed to the participants through their local municipal OEM directors. Middlesex County OEM did their due diligence by sending out the information in plenty of time, but we all know that information that goes through the chain-of-command can travel particularly slowly, especially if the "powers that be" aren't all that familiar with the information they are passing on. Not realizing that this information was time sensitive proved to be a major handicap.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, or the concept, a Ham Cram is defined as a six or more hour long session where prospective Hams are crammed with the info they need to earn their license.  Think of the all-nighters you may have endured before a particularly tough exam in college. The concept is the same.

The problem with the Ham Cram concept is that many people think they can walk into one as a blank page, and will then walk away as a book filled with all the knowledge they need to pass the license exam.

For the Ham Cram concept to work (and it works remarkably well if implemented correctly), the students need to get their hands on a license manual and read and study for six to eight weeks prior to the Cram session. The Ham Cram session educator needs something to work with. It's highly improbable that someone can walk "cold" off the street and earn their ticket after only six hours of cursory study - unless of course, you have a photographic memory.

Again, going back to the "all-nighter" session in college.  That exam prep marathon came after an entire semester of classes.  You were, in essence,  reviewing what you had hopefully learned throughout the proceeding months. We all know that if you waited until that evening to crack open a book, then you were toast.

Or if you want to think of it another way, the Ham Cram instructor is like a diamond cutter. With a raw diamond he can produce a work of art. Give him a piece of coal and he'll be out of his element. So if you know of a prospective Ham and he or she is talking about participating in a Ham Cram, then the sagest advice you can impart upon them is that they should begin the studying process WAY in advance (weeks/months).  Then they'll arrive at the Ham Cram as a rough diamond ready to be polished into a prized jewel.

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

National Night Out

National Night Out was celebrated at Veteran's Park in South Plainfield, NJ last night. The police, fire department, rescue squad and office of emergency management were all there. And so was SPARC.



We had several setups going in order to be able to demonstrate to the community the various aspects of Amateur Radio - hobby aspects in addition to emergency communications aspects.

I had my KX3 going to the PAR which was held up by my Jackite pole. Dave Hackett KD2FSI had a VHF/UHF station going, as well as his JT65 setup going, and was successfully working DX stations. Dave also had his satellite antenna out for display.

I had the distinct pleasure of having three QSOs while people watched. The first was with Jim WB0ZWW in Anthony, KS.  Jim was using his KX3 so it was a 2X QRP KX3 QSO. But what made it special was that Jim just started using QRP power levels today - so I ended up being one of his first QRP QSOs.  Conditions on 20 Meters were decent and we had a close to a 1/2 hour rag chew.

The next QSO was with W8DIZ, Diz from Flying Pigs fame. Diz was using a QRPp rig, and I was his first NJ QSO. Hearing that, I lowered my power from 5 Watts to 1 Watt and got a good signal report back from Diz. Not having gone milliwatting in a long time, I lowered my power to 500 mW. Diz gave me a 449. Not bad for 1/2 Watt to an end fed antenna in a park, being lifted by a Jackite pole!

My last QSO was with John K3WWP. I explained to him what we were doing in the park and how he was helping me demonstrate Amateur Radio. John surprised me by telling me that today was the anniversary of the start of his QRP QSO a Day streak, and that I was his first QSO inaugurating the beginning of his 22nd year of the streak.  Wow - what an honor and a privilege.

Dave's satellite antenna came in handy later on in the evening as there was a very nice pass of the ISS. It was a good elevation - about 56 degrees and it came shortly after sunset, so the space station was very bright.  Dave aimed his satellite antenna and we were easily able to hear packets coming down from the ISS. That was cool!

But the capper of the evening was a landing by the NJ State Police NorthStar helicopter. This is the helicopter used for various NJ State Police activities, but is most famous as the premier NJ Medivac Helicopter.






All in all, it was a very pleasant evening, and I was proud to be able to represent the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club once again.

By the way, according to the Reverse Beacon Network, this is where my signal was being heard:



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

Hooray NJ2SP – SPARC Rookies!


Great job by the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club Rookies who activated NJ2SP - and an equally great job by Marv K2VHW who mentored the event.

Can't wait 'til Field Day!

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

Rookie Roundup

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club ran a station for the ARRL Rookie Roundup today. While we ourselves were ineligible to operate, we did put out an invitation to all the newly licensed Technicians from our Fall and Winter classes to come out and get their feet wet in HF. The idea, of course, was to show them that there's a whole other world out there in Amateur Radio beyond what they hear on VHF/UHF.

Club member Dave KD2FSI, who qualifies as a Rookie by time, volunteered to set up the station. I say Dave qualifies as a Rookie by time, because by the rules of the contest, he does - he was licensed less than three years ago. However, he is certainly not a Rookie by experience. He has already upgraded to General and is a very busy Ham, diving headfirst into many different facets of the hobby, portable operations being one of his favorite. I wish I could take credit for steering him in that direction, but Dave discovered that joy on his own, without my help.


We had agreed to meet at Putnam Park in town at Noon, in order to set up for the 2:00 PM start. By the time I got there, Dave already had things quite well in hand.

Marv K2VHW and Drew W2OU served with distinction in the coaching perspective. Marv is quite the instructor. He has a gift and a natural talent for teaching and was able to make our Rookies feel like Old Pros in no time.


Here's a picture of Marv explaining to Mario the ins and outs of making a SSB Contest QSO. Mario made his very first HF QSO today, and the process was amazing to watch. The first few QSOs were halting and tentative, but due to Marv's excellent guidance, Mario was having a blast within short order.


Within a short amount of time, our Rookies were able to handle QSO and logging chores while we stood in the background as control operators for NJ2SP.

The opportunity seemed golden. HF operating under portable ops conditions. With QRPTTF next weekend, how could I not bring the QRP gear along? It's always good to perform a test run, no?

I bungeed my 31' Jackite pole to a nearby post and set up the EARCHI antenna as a sloper.In between my stints as an HF coach, I went to town working stations on 20, 17, 15 and 10 Meters. A lot of the contacts were MM contest QSOs, but there was one ragchew in there, also. I worked

9A7R
ZW8T
OX3XR
CO8EH
WD4MSM - ragchew
KP2F
TM9B
EG8TRV - Special Event Station
HA8VK

Not bad for the time I had, in between helping with QSO procedures, serving as a helping set of ears, and talking with some of our other newly licensed Techs about equipment, making recommendations, etc.

The Rookies had a blast as well. 10 Meters was open to Texas and the West Coast and our newbies were amazed that "talking to a guy in Idaho" was as easy as talking to a guy on the local 2 Meter repeater - and that the guy in Idaho sounded better than the guy on the 2 Meter repeater!

In all it was a fun day. I'm not sure who had more fun - our new Techs in getting their feet wet in HF, or us veterans watching their fun and excitement. It was definitely rewarding, and I hope we pushed some people a little more deeper into this fine hobby.

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

Ring that school bell!

Our second Technician License class started last evening. This time, instead of being open to just the "public", this one is primarily intended for the Clark, NJ CERT Team. Drew W2OU, Marv K2VHW and yours truly met with, introduced ourselves to, and began the process of instructing 15 potential new Hams.


It's always fun and exciting to be with a group of people who show genuine interest in Amateur Radio, as was the case last night. All of these folks showed enthusiasm and curiosity and an eagerness to learn.

 That's Marv K2VHW on the left and W2LJ on the right. 
Notice the coffee cup - gotta have cup of coffee before class, after a long day at work!

We will become "buddies" over the course of the next seven Tuesday evenings, and hopefully after that, we will add more people to the ranks of Amateur Radio.

And if the teaching gig isn't enough, I was thinking of home brewing a magnetic loop this winter. My line of thinking is that I could build one for let's say 40-10 Meters. From what I understand they're not huge. Then, when it gets really frosty in the basement, I could just set the loop up on the main floor and operate temporarily from the dining room table or something like that.  Just a thought, though, as funds are kinda tight.  I have some spare coax (enough for a loop), and I think the only expense at this point would be the tuning capacitor. It doesn't need to be one of those expensive vacuum jobs, so maybe I can find something reasonable on eBay.

My inspiration for this has been Greg, N4KGL. I've been following his posts on Google+ and through his blog.  He seems to be having so much success with his loop that it seems like a worthwhile endeavor. That, and the fact that I feel like building something.

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

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