Posts Tagged ‘Operating. MOCAD’

Taking stock

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ……”

Mr. Dickens could not have written more appropriate words to describe my 2012.  I have never been a big reveler of the New Year holiday; but this year, I am quite eager and pleased to see the ushering in of a new year and with it, new beginnings and new possibilities.

2012 was not all depression, sadness and tears, however.  It did have highlights, particularly with regard to Amateur Radio.  The KX3, which I had so diligently saved up for, and ordered on the first night of availability in December of 2011, arrived at the end of May.  For me, it has lived up to and has exceeded my expectations.  I am quite happy with it and am so glad that it is an available part of the W2LJ “radio stable”.  Quite unexpectedly, a K3/10 joined the ranks as well.  I hadn’t dreamed of or intended purchasing one – but consider this to be my dear Mom’s last gift to me.  It is an amazing radio; and I am so lucky and fortunate to have use of both of these fine pieces of gear.

The inaugural 2012 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt was an integral part of my year.  Once again, so many thanks to George N2APB and Joe N2CX and the entire NJQRP Club for agreeing to sponsor this new operating event.  Also thanks to Bob W3BBO who helped me ruminate and come up with some of the details  for this new outdoor QRP sprint.  I had such an enjoyable time assigning Skeeter numbers, actually operating in the event and then collecting and tabulating and posting the results.  I am so happy that my fellow QRPers seemed to have as good a time as I did, and I eagerly look forward to the 2013 edition of the Skeeter Hunt.

I got two new antennas up in the air this year.  My venerable G5RV finally made way, after a dozen or so years, for the 88’ EDZ antenna.  Later in the year, post-Sandy, the W3EDP went up to join it in the W2LJ antenna garden.  Too small to be a “farm”, the antenna garden consists of the Butternut HF9V and the two aforementioned wires.  I pray these wires will last as long as the G5RV did.  There were plenty of hurricanes and nasty winters and wind storms that the G5RV made it through – may these two new wires be as resilient.

I have to include as one of this year’s highlights, my decision to purchase the PAR END-FEDZ 10/20/40 antenna.  This simple wire is a delight for portable QRP ops. It’s super easy to deploy as a sloper or inverted “L”.  It tunes up with nary a problem and is neatly and easily storable in my “Go Bag”.  I can’t think of any downsides to this antenna. It’s well worth the price and comes along with instructions on wire lengths to cut so that you can use it for other bands, if you so desire.  This antenna, as well as my Buddistick have become my aerials of choice for portable QRP ops.

Due to all the unfortunate events which took place this year, and their aftermath, I was not able to actually get on the air nearly as much as I had intended.  I actually had “a QSO a Day” going until the middle of February, when events started taking unexpected turns. From that point forward, “unexpected” became  the norm for 2012, and as a result, severely curtailed my on-the-air time  My major 2012 New Year’s Resolution, to complete the ARRL’s Diamond DXCC Challenge, didn’t even come close to happening.  So as 2013 arrives, I am going to tempt fate once more, and will try for a QSO a Day in 2013.  I am not so foolhardy as to think I will be able to pull it off, but I will do my best – hence my ever present New Year’s Resolution “To get on the air more”!

In addition to day-to-day operating,  managing the Skeeter Hunt and sending out notices for The Run For The Bacon each month, this blog (which will be entering its 9th year in 2013) has become a huge part of my Amateur Radio experience.  It is a most enjoyable part of Ham Radio for me, and I want to extend my deepest and most sincere thanks to all of you out there who take time out of your busy day to read this and share the Amateur Radio world with me.  You are the best friends a Ham could ask for. You all have helped me to deal with what would have otherwise been a most sorrowful year.  A very Happy, Blessed, Joyous and Prosperous New Year to all of you!

Lastly, I hope you all enjoy Straight Key Night tonight and tomorrow. W2LJ will be hanging out near and at the various QRP “Watering Holes” (I will spot myself on QRPSPOTS, so be sure to look out for me). I will be using my Vibroplex Original as my aging wrists just can’t stand up to a classic straight key any longer. If we have the good fortune to work each other, please excuse my less than stellar “Bug fist”.  I haven’t had much practice lately!

W2LJ 2012 QSO Map

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

Was Santa good to you?

He was to me. (Thanks to my beautiful wife Marianne and my great kids, Cara and Joey!)

I was gifted with a Kindle Fire HD which is one great lil’ tablet.  I love to read and this is soooooo nice.  I thought the touch screen would be more of a pain than the regular Kindle’s back and forth buttons.  But the touch screen actually makes going from page to page of a book more effortless.  The fact that I can also check my e-mail, surf the Web on it (read blogs) and even watch movies on it makes it all the more of a neat gift.

Marianne also bought me a few “QRP – When you care to send the very least” items from Cafe Press.  The sweatshirts they sell are so nice!  Thick and warm, not flimsy and thin.  The design is big too, it takes up a major portion of the front of the shirt, so there’s no mistaking that QRP is the passion of the wearer.  I was worried that when the design got enlarged to fill the front of a shirt that it might look fuzzy.  It doesn’t!  It’s sharp and prominent and other Hams will know right away what’s going on there.

She also brought me the carrying Field Bag, which will be great for carrying my Kindle Fire and my other Android tablet to and from work.  My brief case was getting kind of ratty, so this is a good replacement.

Cafe Press does a great job and I’m very happy with both items that Marianne got for me.

I also got a nice pair of warm gloves and Joey gave me a “World’s Best Dad” poster and pen and Cara gave me a very cute “Dad” Christmas ornament for the tree.  I did very, very well.

How did you all do in the Zombie Shuffle?  Paul NA5N has posted the preliminary results here.  I came in the middle of the pack, where is about where I expected to land.  I know there are a few more great contesters (such as John K4BAI) who haven’t sent in summaries yet.  I will be a happy camper if I remain within the top 20 when all is said and done.

Don’t forget that next Monday night is Straight Key Night.  Time for me to get a little practice on the Bug again, before the big event.  I sure hope that 2013 turns out to be less stress filled than 2012 was. I really would like to try the “QSO a day” thing for the entire year again.  It’s hard to do that when every time you turn around, something comes up that eats up all your time and attention.

Here’s to a better 2013 for all of us!

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

Back in the saddle

So I missed a day – so what!

I got right back up on the horse and in the saddle via another great QSO with Jim W1PID on 80 Meters.  Jim was telling me that if the weather stays warm in New Hampshire tomorrow, that he just might experiment with  a kite antenna.  I told him to make sure to grab lots of pictures to post!

Jim has asked me how my KX3 “fever” was going.  I told him it was starting to climb and the only cure would be a package from Drs. Wayne and Eric.  I will patiently wait and endure, but the recently released eHam review isn’t making things easier.

I got the new QST “Antenna Issue” today and with interest I read the little blurb about QST going digital some time mid year 2012.  While all ARRL members will continue to get a paper version, the digital version looks to have a lot of potential. Links to videos and the like will be embedded and the plan is that the digital version will be compatible/readable from not only PCs, but tablets, phones and all sorts of mobile devices.

I guess it’s only a matter of time before paper periodicals become the exception rather than the norm.  I have downloaded and have read many books on my Kindle.  That was one of the best Christmas gifts my wife ever gave me.

Interestingly, I read an article on the InterWeb today where Apple might release the iPad3 on Leap Day. Supposedly the screen is so good, that it is being compared to the quality of a  printed page.  As much as I would like one, I can only afford one major purchase a year and the KX3 was it!

On a totally different note, because of how well it works on this laptop and on my Acer netbook, I have pretty much made Google Chrome my default Web browser.  It seems to be a lot quicker and responsive than Firefox.  I guess it doesn’t enjoy a lot of popularity, however.  When I look at my blog stats and I go to the “Browser War” section, Chrome places a distant third after Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Has anyone else noticed that the sunspot number has taken a dive lately?  Today it was 33 and it’s been a while since it was “up there”.  Hopefully this will be the quiet before a storm of good band conditions for the Spring and Summer.

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


And so my everyday streak comes to an end.

Yesterday was one of those days at work where you just want to dig a hole, jump in and pull the hole in after yourself.  And unfortunately, due to the wonderful world of cell phones and Blackberrys, it didn’t end once I got home.

Needless to say, when all finally calmed down around 10:30 or so, I didn’t feel like getting on the radio.  All I wanted to do was go to bed. And I did.

I tried raising V31JZ on 30 Meters tonight, after coming home from a slightly better day at work;  but I could not bust through the pileup before the witching hour came and 0000 UTC occurred.  So February 9th, 2012 goes QSOless.

So, what do I do?  Pick myself up, dust myself off and start anew.  This is one of those years, where if I still make a QSO for every day for the rest of the year, I can still honestly claim that I made a QSO for 365 days of 2012.

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

Close one!

I really thought my MOCAD streak for 2012 was going to come to an end.

Last night, I could not participate in the 40 Meter QRP-L Fox hunt due to rally bad local QRN.  80 Meters was like a desolate, deserted island.  No QRN; but no signals either.  Checking the Reverse Beacon Network, my CQs were being heard all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. There were just no takers.

Fortunately, I was able to get on this morning between dropping off Joey and Cara at school and leaving for work.  I heard Eduardo CO8LY on 17 meters calling “CQ DX” and gave him a call.  I got an answer, so Eduardo in the log (for the umpteenth time, probably) and the streak lives another day.

And if I didn’t make any contacts, it would have been a disappointment – BUT ….. the world will still have kept on turning, the sun still shining, the bunnies and birdies would still be dancing on the lawn.  In the grand scheme of Things, this miniscule streak means nothing.  But human nature being what it is ……..

Tomorrow is FYBO.  I hope to get on for an hour or two in the afternoon. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high in the low to mid 40s.  I will be using the PFR3A and the Buddistick on the magmount on top of the Jeep.  Not a true mobile set up as there’s NO WAY that I would drive around with that antenna on my car.  First underpass I tried to navigate would be a disaster! I will be restricted to 20 and 40 Meters as that’s what the PFR3A has.  If 15 Meters is way open and all the action is there, it looks like I will be SOL.  But if that’s the case, then them’s the breaks.

The other thing I want to do this weekend, if I get the time, is to play around with a new acquisition.  Through my good friend Bob W3BBO, I was able to get my mitts on a “pre-owned” MFJ-1026 unit. I would like to hook that up see if it helps give the knock out punch to this local QRN.  I will have to utilize the K2’s two antenna connectors now as one for transmitting and the other for listening.  According to the 1026 unit’s instructions, you really shouldn’t use it with a rig that has a built in autotuner.  But, if I use “A” to listen with and “B” to transmit with, I should be OK.  Just have to be careful and pay attention to what I am doing.

Good luck to all the QRPers who will be participating in FYBO. Hope to hear and work you tomorrow.

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

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