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Meeting Recap: March 2011

We were honored to have two attendees from afar this time ... Mike WA8BXN from Cleveland OH (his second-in-a-row attendance!) and Nancy NJ8B from Hedgesville, WV (just moved there from MI and now hopes to make it to occasional NJ meetings).  And we also had a new member joining us for the meeting: Tom AB2YG from nearby Woodbury, NJ.  

I’ll tell you, it sure is nice to see in person the people we usually interact with over the radio or Internet, be they local to NJ or our friends from other states.  I think the “universal language” of ham radio just as well extends to experimenting and homebrewing interests, and we’re very pleased to see our group slowly evolving to the point of drawing those who enjoy heating up the soldering irons and breaking ground with new technical understandings of components, radios and technologies.

One of the big features of this month’s meeting was the availability of the Growler Kits made available at-cost for attending members.  We had a fairly detailed technical overview and demonstration, as well as some darned good questions from the group.  Joe and I were pretty impressed with the “extrapolated usage” ideas brought up (e.g., use of such a measurement bridge continuously while in-line and reporting results back to the op via a serial channel).  Who knows what may come of that?!  To help everyone build and use their Growler Kits, we’ll soon have a dedicated “Growler” page with all the technical information on this club kit.  Here's a simple overview of the Growler ...

the Growler is a simple QRP SWR bridge that operates up to 144 MHz . It is unique in that it has a multicolor bar graph display of SWR (similar to the older Rainbow Tuner) and it features an audio tone whose pitch varies according to measured SWR. Only several inches square it is ideal for in-shack or portable use where the ability to "hear" as well as see the readout make adjusting antennas and antenna tuners more convenient. A Morse readout of the SWR is also delivered by the onboard speaker when the adjustment is complete. The kit was available for purchase only for those who attended the March meeting.

The Growler Kit
(click photo for bigger view, and see demo on YouTube below )


Our roundtable discussion of “projects, equipment and ideas” this time was especially interesting.  Jim K2SZ had a potpourri of parts and enclosures available, and he reported having his Ensemble receiver kit together (our last club project).  

Dave WA2DJN had his usual junk box o’ goodies that stole the meeting for a about 15 minutes as many rushed over to scrounge through all those goodies.  Of note were some great aluminum chassis that would be ideal for building up some special tube projects, as well as some very cool coax relays and assorted Rs & Cs.

Nancy NJ8B brought a long for display, demo and discussion, her favorite transceiver: the Elecraft K3 with the beautiful P3 Panadapter.  We had an antenna set up and were able to experience some of the great features of the K3.  N2APB couldn’t keep his hands off the rig and was totally enthralled with the gorgeous spectrum display offered by the P3 accessory.  http://www.elecraft.com/P3/p3.htm

Ken N2CX was present and updated us on some of the contest activities going on these days. (Ken provides the Contesting Links and Information regularly updated on the AmQRP website and other places.)  He is a tireless contester and wants to see more on-the-air involvement from club members ... We agree Ken!  Perhaps there’s something the NJQRP can do to help along those lines. Ken also noted that the 15m band is starting to provide some much better propagation these days with the slow ramp-up to the next solar cycle.  Yay!!

Picking up on the on-the-air theme, along with our 6m antenna discussion several meetings ago, Samuel KF3G mentioned that there’s been noting some 6m activity picking up on that band and that we might want to soon try that band for our “club net” that has been attempted for so many years.

Corey WA3UVV lead some discussion through some wonderful material concerning old radios, parts and the “Golden Classics of Yesteryear” which is very cool book published long ago by Dave Ingram K4TWJ (SK).  An article from QST (Dec 1946) was passed around showing some good ideas for simple tube transmitters back then.  (At breakfast before the meting, we were discussing some of the simple tube Tx and Rx projects in CQ and QST mags through the years ... What was that little tube rig housed in/on a Sucrets case, featured long ago in CQ Mag or QST??!)

Joe N2CX gave us a wonderfully informative overview of his trials & tribulations with “bargain basement coax cables”.  He noticed some unexpected SWR and impedance variations in a seeming-good length of “new” coax he obtained at a recent hamfest; and being the ever-vigilant technician he delved into the issue with equipment at his disposal (AIM and Micro908 antenna analyzers) to discover the source of the problems.  For a complete run-down of his findings be sure to check out his upcoming Joe’s Quickies column in the next issue of QRP Quarterly.  BTW, Joe advises that coax purchased from Pomona, RF Connections and The Wireman are very good and you won’t be disappointed in the quality of those suppliers: http://www.pomonaelectronics.com/, http://www.therfc.com/, and http://www.thewireman.com/.

George N2APB gave a visual update on the Ultimate Regen Radio that he and John Cawthorne are working on (each separately).  George has his sturdy aluminum chassis and front panel now in a nice red oak wooden enclosure that is now ready for dark cherry staining.  A nice PW dial graces the front panel for exquisite vernier control of the bandspread capacitor.  

Here’s a rundown of the upcoming events of interest for all NJQRP members ...


Last updated: March 26, 2011