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Author Topic: Getting adjusted to QRP  (Read 32996 times)
K8AXW
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« Reply #30 on: November 30, 2012, 08:41:34 AM »

XSA:  What you say is true and a very good analogy.  However, your analogy makes my point exactly.  Would you take your young son or grandson out fishing the first time using fly fishing gear and methods?  Of course not.  The purpose of the first time of anything, rather it is fishing or ham radio is having FUN!  That means catching fish. 

QRP is exactly like fly fishing.  Flimsy poles are used, a totally new technique is used and even the bait is different.  Finally, the results are as a rule are different.  A fly fisherman spends a great deal more time catching a fish than someone using live bait and bottom fishing.

This is the whole point I'm trying to make.  I am concerned that newbie hams or hams with limited funds will get a false impression of QRP operating by the tone of the comments on this forum.  I feel that someone should point out occasionally that QRP requires special skills, patience and the understanding that it isn't the typical ham radio experience. 

I'm concerned that we will lose hams because of this or have people think that QRP is the best way to go because of all the "cheerleading" and back pounding that goes on here.  I feel the opinions posted here need to be tempered with reality.

Al - K8AXW

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LA9XSA
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« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2012, 04:03:39 PM »

Live bait and bottom fishing with a rod is actually QRP CW or QRP digimode in that analogy. QRO would be going out to sea and setting some nets out - but even then you're not guaranteed a big catch. If that is what you want, the supermarket freezer is for you.
It seems I can work west and central Europe any day on  QRP SSB with the current solar cycle and I'm half way to DXCC with just a few casual weekends, so if a couple fish each day is enough for you why get a speedsjark?
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K8AXW
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« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2012, 08:51:06 PM »

LOLROFLMAO!! 

XSA:  I couldn't disagree more!  Fly fishing is equivalent to QRP operating.  Bait and bottom fishing is equivalent to ordinary 100w operating and QRO is the equivalent to harpooning whales!   Grin
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2012, 12:46:37 AM »

Have you actually tried any weak signal digimode or CW?
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W1JKA
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« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2012, 03:41:52 AM »

Re: XSA
             Good Question.This is all becoming quite interesting,sure beats cable tv when the bands are down.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #35 on: December 01, 2012, 08:56:09 AM »

XSA:  I've been a ham since 1956 and have tried many things including working the birds and QRP. My favorite mode is CW.  However my favorite facet of ham radio is building.

Several years ago I built my first QRP transceiver with an output of 4w.  Strictly CW.  After that I bought and built the Small Wonder Lab DSW-II-20 kit, 4w strictly CW transceiver.  I could pretty well work what I heard with this little xcvr but I was running into my TH7DX beam and with it's 9db gain my ERP was 32w...... which brought up the question, "Is this still QRP?"

My latest endeavor was the TAK-40 which was the first ARRL HBC (HomeBrew Challenge) 40m only transceiver.  Initial output was 5w, CW, SSB and digital. 

Then the designer came out with a 10w PA board to replace the 5w board which I then built.  After that two other very sharp hams made extensive modifications to the TAK-40 which turned it into a very capable transceiver.  I just recently finished and am using the HBC III which is the W6JL 50w amplifier.

My background with QRP is nowhere as extensive as probably 99% of the guys posting here which gives me a somewhat different outlook about QRP operation.  I'm not influenced by the "look what I can do with 5 watts" operators nor do I have anything to prove to myself or others.  The reasons I am still here has been stated in my previous posts.

BTW, for what it's worth, I'm in the process of building another antenna for 40m just for my QRP rigs.  I'll certainly use it for my 100w transceiver and maybe one of my two big amps., but again, it's primarily for the QRP operation. 

Does this answer your question(s)?

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AA4GA
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« Reply #36 on: December 01, 2012, 05:56:04 PM »

Would you take your young son or grandson out fishing the first time using fly fishing gear and methods?  Of course not.  The purpose of the first time of anything, rather it is fishing or ham radio is having FUN!  That means catching fish. 
Why not?  I work at a fly shop and we take folks out who have never fished all the time (including kids)...and they catch fish!  I know a lot of folks who started out fly fishing.

Quote
Finally, the results are as a rule are different.  A fly fisherman spends a great deal more time catching a fish than someone using live bait and bottom fishing.
Really??  Not where I fish!  ;-)

QRP to start with?  I don't know why not really...is it easier to make contacts with more power?  Yes, generally.  But novices used to be limited to crystal control and 75 watts input and made lots of QSOs.  That's probably only about 10 dB weaker than a 5 watt output QRP rig - not a huge difference.

The problem might be more of our instant gratification society.  I remember when I was a Tech (effectively a Novice - I was only on the Novice bands on HF) that it took a while to make my first QSOs.  I wasn't discouraged...it was a learning experience.  Of course, that was 35 years ago....
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K8AXW
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« Reply #37 on: December 01, 2012, 09:04:31 PM »

Bill:  I think you might be exaggerating a bit when you say that "you know a lot of folks that start out fly fishing."  And, "they catch fish" is no doubt true..... certainly they don't catch deer or beaver.......

I'd really like to see the "place where you fish."  I think I would enjoy myself there.  I've lived my life for the most part in WV where we have great fishing.  Although I've never tried fly fishing I do know how it's done and I am familiar with the results vs. the amount of time "fishing" and it compares favorably with QRP contacts.

It's true that novices used to be limited to 75w..... and although I never was a novice, I started out with a Heathkit AT-1 which ran something like 10-15w.  Then it was the Heath DX-35 which ran about 35w as I recall. 

I know that depending on propagation and band, it was a piece of cake working the world with 75w.  More difficult with 35w....... and with 5w it is much more difficult and that's my point here, exactly!  Please don't start the "10db below stuff" Bill.... this is a common argument QRP operators quote to naysayers like me and also "cheerlead" each other with. While this is technically correct, in real life 10db more signal is a hellova lot of signal to hear!

As I mentioned before, I really couldn't care less if QRP operators never worked anyone or if they indeed do work the world.  I'm just concerned that someone believing this "I work the world on QRP" without including the rest of the story will wind up very frustrated with their results and walk away from the hobby.

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AA4GA
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« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2012, 10:07:11 PM »

Bill:  I think you might be exaggerating a bit when you say that "you know a lot of folks that start out fly fishing."  And, "they catch fish" is no doubt true..... certainly they don't catch deer or beaver.......
Name here is Lee, OM.

No exaggeration at all.  I work in the fly fishing industry.  Many of my associates have fly-fished exclusively since they were kids.  When I say we take newbies out and "they catch fish", I of course don't mean as compared to catching deer or beaver.  What a ridiculous statement.  Perhaps I should have phrased it differently, but we often take out clients that have never fished before, try fly fishing for their first fishing experience, and are successful in catching fish.  Often.

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I'd really like to see the "place where you fish."
Pretty much every place I trout fish, I see fly fishermen more than hold their own when compared with bait fishermen.  Primarily that's North Georgia and SW North Carolina, but I've been all over the country fishing.

Quote
Although I've never tried fly fishing I do know how it's done and I am familiar with the results vs. the amount of time "fishing" and it compares favorably with QRP contacts.
Let's get this straight:  You've never tried fly fishing, but you know how it's done?  And because of this vast knowledge, you compare it to a particular style of radio operation?  Huh?  It certainly makes me wonder whether you've actually tried operating at the 5 watt power level before, or if you just know how to turn your radio down that low.

Quote
I know that depending on propagation and band, it was a piece of cake working the world with 75w.  More difficult with 35w....... and with 5w it is much more difficult and that's my point here, exactly!
Yes, the more power you use, the easier it is to work folks.  I don't think anyone has denied that.  The better your antenna, the easier it is to work folks.  The better the propagation is, the easier it is to work folks.  And the converse is also true.

Quote
Please don't start the "10db below stuff" Bill.... this is a common argument QRP operators quote to naysayers like me and also "cheerlead" each other with. While this is technically correct, in real life 10db more signal is a hellova lot of signal to hear!
10dB is nothing when condx are good, and everything when they're not.  Guess what:  when there is a blackout from a solar flare, 30dB won't help! 

Do you think it odd that the IARU/NCDXF beacon system operates at 100W, 10W, 1W, and 100mW?  You might try listening sometime.  http://www.ncdxf.org/beacon/beaconschedule.html

If I'm listening to you ragchewing on 40m, and your signal running your SB200 (I'm guessing around 500 watts output) is 10dB over S-9 and my ambient noise level is, say S-1, do you not think I could copy you if you dropped your power to 50 watts, a 10dB decrease?  You should then be S-9....no problem.  What if you dropped your power to 5 watts, or another 10dB decrease?  Shouldn't your signal be S-6 plus a bit, based on 6dB per S-unit?  Shouldn't that be copiable too, considering my ambient noise is still probably 30dB lower than that?

Now, it's later in the evening, and my noise level is up to about S-3 and your 500 watt signal is down to S-5.  When you drop to 50 watts, you're not going to be much above my noise floor...and when you drop to 5 watts, well, I won't be able to copy you.

Those are both pretty realistic expectations of propagation between WV and GA, depending on time of day and general condx.  So, what does it prove?  Not much other than there are some situations when a path works at 5 watts, and some times when it doesn't. 

Quote
As I mentioned before, I really couldn't care less if QRP operators never worked anyone or if they indeed do work the world.  I'm just concerned that someone believing this "I work the world on QRP" without including the rest of the story will wind up very frustrated with their results and walk away from the hobby.
What is this "rest of the story" you're so concerned about?  I called a station in 7P8 tonight for about an hour and a half before I worked him on 30m running 5w using my 80m doublet.  He was pretty loud, so it was a bit frustrating that it took that long...but there was a lot of competition. 

5 watts is a very capable power level, whether you choose to believe it or not.  Yes, you do have to have reasonable antennas, but not necessarily huge antennas.  Yes, it is a bit more difficult than running at 100 watts at times...but no one said it was as easy. 

I've been licensed over 35 years, and I started off with a 40m dipole and probably about 100 watts output.  I moved up to more power and bigger antennas fairly quickly, and have been lucky enough to operate from some very large stations.  I get just as much satisfaction from operating my 5 watt transmitter into a smallish antenna as I did running 1.5kW to stacked Yagis.  Do I work as many people now as I did then?  No.  Do I work DX as easily as I have in the past?  No.  But I do make plenty of QSOs, and work a fair amount of DX. 

Is that enough disclosure for you?

Here's how I started working QRP:  I had been QRT for a few years, and was spending a lot of time in my fiancee's apartment.  I wanted to get active in radio again, so I got an old Drake receiver to listen around on.  I discovered (no surprise) that there was a lot of noise in the apartment.  So much that listening on an indoor antenna wasn't enjoyable at all.  I would drop a wire out the window where I could pick up enough signal strength over the noise to do some listening, but it still wasn't optimum.  I figured the best way for me to get on the air would be to go to a local park and toss a dipole up in a tree, so I decided to give a Yaesu FT817 a try - I'd always thought they were really just toys and not capable of much, but figured enough of them had been sold that there just might be something to it.  And there was.  Making domestic QSOs wasn't much of a problem, as long as I chose a band that was open.  DX, a bit more difficult, but as condx have improved, a fair amount of DX has been logged.  Unfortunately, this solar cycle peak has been pretty weak, otherwise, the DX results would be even better.  I also realize that it won't be long before the condx on the higher frequencies won't support QRP work.  I'm already planning on improving my 30 - 160 antennas, as I think that's where most of my time will be spent in a couple years.  In the meantime, I'm working as much DX as I can...and still looking for condx that will support propagation into the few zones I haven't been able to work yet...but that may never happen with my antennas and the current level of solar activity.  And I'm OK with that!
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WA2TPU
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« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2012, 10:53:44 PM »

Hi Lee and everyone else viewing these posts.

Geeezzzzzz....I don't know how to take the fishing comparisons to Qrp versus being Qro.

I live here on Wilkins Brook...I've taught all on my children and grandchildren how to fish both with bait and flies.We've had a TON of fun over the years fishing and Qrping. BTW I've found that a gray hackle muskrat on a #14 ahead of a red-throated Professor with a red tail on a #12 works best Brookies on Wilkins Cheesy. Yep! I still tie all of my own flies and make all of my antennas here ....

I guess I like both fishing and Qrping whether I do or do not catch any trout of make any contacts... There's nothing like a batch pan-fryer Brookies or a nice run working Dx via 5 watts knowing both are still available to do in this modern fast pace world we live in.

May ALL of you enjoy ham radio however you choose to operate...and those who fish for those elusive Brookies.....well.....its the best of both worlds now isn't it? I think so anyway.

Best regards and many 72/73.
Don sr. --WA2TPU -- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION.
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WA2TPU
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« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2012, 11:00:48 PM »


Hi Lee and everyone else viewing these posts.

Geeezzzzzz....I don't know how to take the fishing comparisons to Qrp versus being Qro.

I live here on Wilkins Brook...I've taught all on my children and grandchildren how to fish both with bait and flies.We've had a TON of fun over the years fishing and Qrping. BTW I've found that a gray hackle muskrat on a #14 ahead of a red-throated Professor with a red tail on a #12 works best  for Brookies on Wilkins . Yep! I still tie all of my own flies and make all of my antennas here ....

I guess I really like both fishing and Qrping whether I do or do not catch any trout or make any contacts...you know it just gives me something to do.... However,there's nothing like a batch pan-fryer Brookies or a nice run working Dx via 5 watts knowing both are still available to do in this modern fast pace world we live in.

May ALL of you enjoy ham radio however you choose to operate...and those who fish for those elusive Brookies.....well.....its the best of both worlds now isn't it? I think so anyway.

Best regards and many 72/73.
Don sr. --WA2TPU -- A TRUE 5 WATT QRP GREEN STATION.
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W7ASA
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« Reply #41 on: December 03, 2012, 03:30:14 AM »

All radio, whether milliWatting or the Voice of Russia, is a function of received S-units and the signal to noise ratio in your headset.  
-...-
Basically, if you have an average band path and assuming a basic reciprocity between stations in everything except for output power at your final, then QRP math is pretty simple.

Let's set the baseline at S9 for 100 Watts:

Icom 746Pro:     100 Watts, received at S9
Century 21:         25 Watts, received at S8
QRP:                     5 Watts, received a bit below S7


For CW, this is easy copy for all received signal levels shown. If the band is not open, then the average 100 Watts is very little 'padding' over the QRP, though S2 is better than S0 - that's obvious.  Yes, a QRP signal at a moderate S3 will go to LOUD when the 1.5 KW amplifier is kicked-in, but the same can be said for the multi-KW HF transmitters on the air commercially and those things don't exactly come with a belt clip. . .

For CW, 'system gain' is easy to increase by practice listening(which is enjoyable) and a narrow filter with low ring. It is easy to travel with a QRP rig and wire antenna. I enjoy the ability to set-up almost anywhere in a few minutes: A.C. powersupply not required. I have done this for decades, usually with a dipole for simple efficiency or a slant wire if that fits my needs better. QRP can be inexpensive to build because there are so many excellent kits out there that a person can easily build a fine station for very little money.  The receivers in even an average QRP kit will amaze you. Fewer stages, well designed usually produce lower internal noise and etc. making for a quiet receiver. Remember: it's all about signal to noise ratio and that begins with internal circuit noise. QRP rigs generally have filters designed for optimal reception of CW from other QRPers: selective, steep skirts and low insertion loss for better reception of narrow signals. My old Wilderness Sierra STILL has one of the best receivers I have worked CW with, including the 746Pro in A/B side-by-side testing. YMMV. The mods I have planned to replace oler, higher noise IC's should reduce it's internal noise even further.

For those who can afford it, you can go to the top of the price ladder all the way to the KX-3 and etc. and while cutting edge in QRP portable is probably very desirable, it is not essential. QRP kits are available new for well under $100, or finished radios like the YouKits QRP transceivers sold through Ten Tec are under $300 already built, and aligned, have smooth QSK, ham plus SWL receiver built-in AND they are very good performers: I have talked with several Hams on the air who use them.  Used QRP rigs are also a good option - caveat emptor. If you are technically inclined or want to be, you can build from scratch and REALLY get on the air for very little: there are bazillions of schematics on-line to try. Well, that's probably exaggerating, there are probably only ka-billions of QRP schematics on-line. . .  Roll Eyes

In Summation: Put up the BEST antenna that you can and do NOT believe that more expensive is necessarily 'better'. A good dipole, high and in the clear is a very good performer. I prefer open wire or ladder line, but that's up to you. Band selection for time-of-day is very important if you're a sked keeper who talks with the same person on a regular schedule; if not, hunt for stations up & down the dial and call stations. There is always the venerable "CQ" and that works wonderfully much of the time.


Well, time to go send some code    Grin   before I start ticking items off of 'The List'  Cry


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._

« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 04:31:39 AM by W7ASA » Logged
W1JKA
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« Reply #42 on: December 03, 2012, 06:21:27 AM »

Re: AL

         At issue seems to be your often used term"NEW HAM",well believe it or not these"new hams" young or old are no less intelligent than we thought we were back in the day.New hams do not just come home from school or work one day and decide to become hams,they were all previously exposed to the hobby by some means,friends relatives scouts school radio clubs ect.as we all were and have a general idea of the pros/cons of different modes and I'm sure they certainly know the definitions of the words (frustration and challange).These new hams are certainly wise enough to realize the benifits of starting off into the hobby with low cost entry level gear,usually low power cw or ssb.They will all play around within the hobby and eventually settle in to their own favorite niche as time and finances permit,the same as most of us.I dare say that most readers here were all QRP operators in the beginning with our modest rigs and did'nt even realize it and had a ball doing it.Give theses new hams some credit ,they will find their own way like the rest of us.    73  Jim
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K8AXW
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« Reply #43 on: December 03, 2012, 07:59:27 AM »

Lee, Ray, Jim:  First of all Lee, sorry for the name screw-up. 

While I have never fly fished, I know the principles quite well. After watching paper making for 40 years I can tell you how paper is made from a wood chip to finished product although I have never made a sheet of paper.  Your bio is impressive.  Thank you.

The "deer/beaver" catching thing was the result of conditioning from our politicians for the past 8 years..... playing with words. 

I understand the principles of propagation, the conversion of S units to db and visa versa and what it means to hear these signals at different levels.  But Ray, why is it when QRP operators start quoting these definitions and comparisons they all stack the deck with numbers that are mathematically correct but it's never pointed out that MOST QRP signals seldom ever move an S-meter?  And because QRP signals seldom ever move an S-meter all of the numbers and comparisons leak like a sieve.  Sure, I've had some nice 20 minute chats using QRP but only with stations a few hundred miles from me when propagation was favorable for both of us. 

As for the rest.... if a guy gives you a signal report and then dumps you because your signals is too weak to copy without a great deal of work, what has been accomplished?  Another country?  Another state?  And it should be pointed out, if it wasn't for good operators willing to work a bit, QRP operators wouldn't have the success they have.

Most of us old timers started out using low powered transmitters and then worked our way up.  But if low power is so great, why work our way up?  It's simple.  When we set down for an evening of operating, we really want an evening of working stations.  This is ham radio.  Anything else is a variation of this.  Not the basic goal. QRP operation is different and the experienced QRP operator understands this so their evening of enjoyment is different.

From what I read on the many forums here on eHam, many newbies really don't have a clue about ham radio except what little exposure they have had which ignited the fire to get their license.  Many come here for information and I feel they are getting a lot of smoke and mirrors here on the QRP forum.  Go to any other forum for information and you get told like it is.  Sometimes it's pretty blunt but you get it like it is.

This is my only reason for starting this discussion.

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W7ASA
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« Reply #44 on: December 03, 2012, 09:39:13 AM »

According to K8AXW: "Many come here for information and I feel they are getting a lot of smoke and mirrors here on the QRP forum."  

In short: you are calling us liars?  That's rather rude, to say the least and totally uncalled for.  You asked for the thoughts of those who do QRP hamming and when our answers, long experience and basic calcs do not match your preconceived 'feelings', you tell us that we're knowingly hiding some gruesome 'truth' from newbies? That Sir, is what "smoke & mirrors" means: lying.  You did not actually mean that - did you?

I've done a lot of engineering in my life and my 'feelings' never trumped math when it came to my work. OTOH: You passed your radio test, hence you have a callsign and so there is every reason to believe that you understand the S-unit math associated with changes in power levels. However, you then claim that - mysteriously-  these formulae are not correct in your world view, because you 'feel' that "...all of the numbers and comparisons leak like a sieve.".  Feelings have nothing to do with it.   dB are dB and if there is some other kind of radio physics that you can demonstrate, I am certain that we would all love to learn from you, why physics is temporarily suspended at power levels less than - what - 100Watts?  50 Watts? or wherever your feeling about power RF lower output limit resides.   Where does arithmatic no longer apply to signal attenuation? We all know that it always applies and I am certain that we are all together in this, because it's an established and demonstrable fact.  

No - there is no grand global conspiracy by a nefarious QRP Kabal to lie to newbies & hence to ruin their lives with painful radio angst. [Oh, the pain you should never know!] ha ha  We simply enjoy an aspect of ham that evidently you do not, which is perfectly fine, because it's a big world with many avenues into it.  However, nobody here is casting doubt on your personal honesty because you disagree - that's half the fun in a good conversation, especially if it's a spirited debate.  However, like most good debates there are a few rules, beginning with:

No Biting, No Gouging and No Suspension of the Laws of Physics.

"I kinna violate the Laws of Physics  Cap'n, but I kin BEND'em a wee bit!"  - Scottie (Unfortunately, that's only in Hollywood)


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._

Ps.  Yes - I loved fly fishing - I enjoyed the various acts of actively casting & retrieving on a mountain stream, tying my own... cooking the brookies ashore in garlic butter and salt and highly recommend this mode because it holds a person's interest and is GOOD EATING.   Yum!
 
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 09:44:44 AM by W7ASA » Logged
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