Posts Tagged ‘non-Ham topic’

Thanksgiving 2014

A very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to all my Amateur Radio friends. Enjoy the day with family, friends and food!

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

It was 45 years ago today ……

that “Men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969 A.D.  We came in peace for all mankind.”

I was 12 years old and was obsessed with anything that had to do with the manned spaceflight program. Some of the earliest TV memories that I have included the launches of Alan Shepard and John Glenn during the Project Mercury days. As young as I was, I don’t think I missed a second of any live television coverage of Project Gemini (that didn’t occur while school was in session, that is!). My sister and I dutifully wrote to NASA requesting any free “NASA Facts” literature that they would send us. And they sent us plenty! I think I built every Revell model that there was that had anything to do with manned spaceflight,

On July 20th, 1969 my family and I were glued to the TV the entire day.  I believe it was just around 4:00 PM when we heard those famous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”  Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra were the commentators. I had watched them so much that they felt like part of the family. I remember Walter removing his glasses and uttering “Wow!” when those famous words were relayed, finally announcing that men had successfully landed on the lunar surface.

Fast forward to that evening.

After a sufficient amount of pleading. my parents let me stay up past my bedtime in order to watch the first live TV from the moon.  When Neil Armstrong pulled the cord that lowered the panel from the side of the LM, revealing the TV camera, we witnessed grainy, ghost like and upside down images from the moon. Someone at NASA quickly inverted the picture and we were able to clearly see the first human being take a fledgling step on celestial body that was not the Earth.  For the next couple of hours, we sat before the TV and we didn’t go to sleep until Neil and Buzz had climbed back up into Eagle and had safely closed the hatch.

That was a wondrous time to be alive. To watch history being made – good history being made, is a wonderful thing.  The national will to explore space may have died somewhat with the conclusion of Project Apollo, but countless youngsters learned that it really IS possible to dream big dreams, and to do great and wondrous things.  All you have to do is have the will and ambition to get them done.

Earlier this afternoon I worked WA3NAN , the Goddard Spaceflight Amateur Radio Club station in Greenbelt MD, on 40 Meters Sideband (I know, I know!), in order to work one of the few Apollo 11 Special Event Stations that was on the air this weekend. I tried working N4A and N4R in Alabama, but it seemed like neither 20 or 40 Meters were allowing my signal the hop it needed to get the job done.

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

If the shirt I’m wearing had buttons, they’d all have popped!

My two kids, Joey and Cara had a half day at school today.  A friend’s sister drove them home, so early this afternoon I started a text conversation with Joey:

Me: Home?

Joey: Now we r.

Me: Good! You got a ride.

Joey: Yes!

Me: I guess Cara’s happy.

Joey: Yes she is.  Guess what place I got in science fair.

Me: 1st

At this point, I wasn’t getting an answer, so I texted again:

Me: ???

The reason I wasn’t getting an answer is that Joey was sending me this photo:

If this golf shirt that I’m wearing had buttons on it, they’d all have popped by now.  I am so proud of Joey and Cara, they are both great kids.  God has truly blessed me.

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

Science Fair time!

“Hey, Dad …… do you have a meter that will read really small voltages and tiny amounts of current?”, my son Joseph asked the other week.

“Joey, I’d better! I’m an Amateur Radio operator, and I was an electronics technician for 22 years.”, I replied.

And so began the 2014 8th grade Science Fair project. My son decided to see how the pH of a fruit or vegetable would affect its ability to generate electricity. His hypothesis – the more acidic the fruit/vegetable, the more power would be generated.

The materials were an apple, a lemon, a pear and a potato. A head of red cabbage was procured to act as a pH indicator. Zinc screws and 3 inch pieces of #10 gauge copper wire served as electrodes.

Before we began generating electricity, my wife boiled some leaves from the cabbage in a pot of water. The resulting liquid would act as our litmus paper.

I stuck a screw and a piece of the copper wire into each piece of produce. The positive lead from the meter went to the copper wire and the negative lead was attached to the zinc screw. We measured both voltage and current, to be able to calculate Watts.

A teaspoon of the cabbage water was put into four glasses. Juice from each piece of produce went into the purple cabbage water. If the cabbage water turned blue, it would indicate a base. If the water stayed purple, the pH would be neutral. An acidic pH would turn the cabbage juice pink.

From lowest output to highest were – potato, pear, apple, lemon.
And in turn, the potato had the lowest pH, while the lemon had the highest. The voltage and current readings followed the pH indications. It seems my son’s hypothesis was correct!

Now all Joey has to do is make a graph, print out the pictures we took and write up an explanation of what was observed. The really neat thing was that he had a good time and really enjoyed himself. I’m not sure what he wants to be, someday; but something in the scientific or electronics field would not be so bad.

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

Good Friday 2014

What makes Good Friday good?” you ask.
A challenge! A rather daunting task.
Some may dismiss it with a shrug and a smirk,
And consider it another day off work.
Others, religious, pious as such,
Take a few minutes for a mournful watch;
Merchants unlock their doors with glee,
Anticipating the pre-Easter shopping spree.
A bunny here, a chocolate egg there,
Symbols of a society that doesn’t care.
“Care?” you say, “Do you mean me?”
“What’s there to care; how can this be?”
It’s the cross, you forget, that rugged wood,
That makes Good Friday eternally good.
What’s so good about the death of an ancient man,
Who died long before my life began?
This man, who on this earth once trod,
Was not only man, but the Son of God.
That wood, that tree, that old rugged cross,
Was the symbol of gain and the symbol of loss.
To those who believe, it is the promise of gain;
The hope that, like Jesus, we’ll rise again!
For the skeptic, the doubter, the meaning is loss;
An eternal gulf, which no one can cross.
Good Friday is good, because of the death
Of Jesus the Savior, who gave His last breath
So you, friend, and I, could be cleared of our guilt,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb that was spilt.
Mourn not, my dear soul, for the death of the Lamb,
For that cross made the bridge to the Great I AM.
Christ paid the price, rose again to God’s side,
And brought us next Sunday: the Resurrection-tide!
~by Alan Allegra~

Happy Hallowe’en

Happy Hallowe’en everybody.  Be safe and don’t forget to brush your teeth after all that candy.  What was your favorite Hallowe’en candy as a kid?  I loved getting Mary Janes and I also loved those caramel popcorn balls.

By the way, the name “Hallowe’en”, for those who don’t know, is actually a kind of contraction or shortening of the proper “All Hallows Eve”.  It is the vigil of the Catholic Holy Day of All Saints, or All Saints Day.  Just thought I’d throw that bit of trivia out there – impress your friends!

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

FOBB 2013 and some Skeeter Hunt news


That’s the best word that I can think of to describe my effort for Flight of the Bumblebees 2013.

The weather was certainly a distraction. With the forecast (all week long) calling for a 60% chance of rain on Sunday, I was not surprised to find that it was raining when I left Mass yesterday morning. That sealed the deal for me regarding my operating position. Right then and there, I decided that I would be a home station this year, and would forgo using my Bee number. As it turned out, it ended up being sunny, then rainy, then sunny, then rainy in small cycles just about all afternoon. Thunderstorms and torrential downpours waited until the 5:00 PM hour, just when I would have been tearing down.

Operating from home has its conveniences and creature comforts, but it also comes with its share of distractions. The phone rings when you don’t need it to, spouses and children ask for things like they always do …. it’s just a bit different than an evening Sprint, which are generally shorter and occur when things have already pretty much settled down for the night.

But the biggest distraction of all was this little guy (and I am definitely NOT complaining!). Meet Harold, the newest member of the W2LJ family, who came to live with us on Saturday.

We met Harold last Sunday, when we went to the local Petco store to pick up a bag of cat food for Sandy. Happy Paws Rescue was there with a full compliment of dogs looking for homes. Harold was not down on the floor with the other dogs, he was sitting in one of the volunteer’s laps. We didn’t even see him at first.

The first dog we were interested in was a retriever mix named Tia. She was a very playful and friendly little girl, and most importantly, I was informed that she was cat friendly. But it turned out that someone was already filling out papers for her while we were looking at her. There was another retriever mix there, a little older and a little bigger, named Hershey. However, the volunteers weren’t able to tell me if he was good around cats, or not.

Disappointed, we were about to head to the checkout with our cat food, when I decided to ask if they had any dogs that were cat friendly. They immediately told us that Harold was being fostered in a house that had cats and that there were no problems. Interested, they put Harold on a lead for us, and allowed us to take him for a walk around the store. That’s when the volunteer told me about Harold’s background.

Harold is a nine month old beagle pup who was bred to be used as a test animal at either a pharmaceutical or cosmetics company. The inside of his ears are tattooed with a serial number, as a testament to this fact. Lab dogs like him are never really “named”. It turned out that Harold was never used for testing, and was just an extra dog that was going to be offered for adoption. A secretary at the company found out about this and got him put into the custody of Happy Paws.

And now, he’s with us. He’s a very friendly little fellow, who like Jesse before him, seems “to not have a mean bone in his body”. He loves to be held and played with, and right now, is a bit of a “nose and stomach on four legs”. While he’s a tad underweight, this little guy eats his meals so thoroughly, and with such gusto, that we briefly kidded about changing his name to Hoover. He loves to join you in whatever chair you’re sitting in and totally relax next to you, in essence becoming a “puppy puddle”.

So far, Sandy our cat, has made a few wary attempts at getting familar with Harold. With Jesse, she was used to an older dog who really paid her no mind. She is not quite sure what to make of this little brown, black and white furball of energy. They have been getting closer and closer to each other (nose to nose at one point, in fact) without any bouts of barking, hissing or chasing. If they don’t end up becoming best friends, I am fully confident that at the very least, they will become quite comfortable with each other’s presence.

So while I was making a few paltry contacts on 20 and 40 Meters yesterday afternoon, my head just wasn’t in the game this year. My head and my heart were more fixed upon Harold, and also Jesse, whom I think would approve of his successor, very much. Even though he is a totally different breed and a much smaller dog, each time I look at Harold, I can see Jesse shining through him. And that’s a very good thing, because now it really does feel like Jesse is still right here with me.

As for the news about the Skeeter Hunt – Brady AC0XR wrote a logging program specifically for the Skeeter Hunt this year.  It can be found at  Some of you may remember Brady from last year’s hunt.  He was one of the few entrants who built a homebrew key for the event for bonus points.

I feel like we’ve hit the big time!  Our own logging program – thanks, Brady!

By the way, as of tonight, we’re up to 94 entries.  I’ll be issuing Skeeter numbers right up until the morning of the event – but don’t wait for the last minute.  And remember, this year SSB has been added as a mode. So if Morse Code’s not your thing?  You can join us anyway and get in on the fun!

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

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: