My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

2 meter conditions

Conditions today on 2 meters are almost identical to conditions two days ago with the best DX being K3ARL-1 near State College, PA, at 261°, 266 miles.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

more ducting

More 2-meter ducting on my APRS map this morning with the top DX being in almost completely opposite directions:

  • KQ1L-2 in Litchfield, ME, at 39° 230 miles

  • W3ND-2 in Enola, PA, at 245° 230 miles

Friday, July 27, 2007

Surfin': If It Looks Like A Ducting...

Two-meter band openings and a unique way to spot them is the topic of this week’s installment of Surfin’. After you read Surfin’, you can leave your comments here.

By the way, Surfin’ is a weekly column published on ARRLWeb that finds and features Web sites that are related to Amateur Radio, specifically, and radio, in general. If you have any suggestions for Surfin’, please contact WA1LOU using the e-mail link to the right.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

144-MHz band opening

Every evening after work, I drop off my briefcase in my home office/shack and check the status of 144.39 MHz as displayed on my computer screen running APRS. Last night was no different except that there must have been a nice band opening on 2 meters during the day.

It looked like your classic summer tropospheric ducting event with loads of stations received by my station all clustered along the East Coast down to the Virginia-North Carolina state lines. The most distant station received was WB4YNF-4 in Ahoskie, NC, approximately 430 miles away!

There was one station I received that was a bit of an anomaly: K3ARL-1 near State College, PA, approximately 267 miles west/southwest of WA1LOU. It is inland and far from the other stations huddled along the coast and I am not sure how my reception of that station fits into the tropospheric ducting model.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

1984 plus 23 part 2

What were the pre-2005 "other intelligence activities"? ...our own Government was spying on us using methods even more blatantly illegal than the "Terrorist Surveillance Program"...

1984 plus 23

They've got your number and probably mine, too.

the original X-men X-man

The Man From Planet X is another filme that scared/scarred the crap out of me when I was a kid.

Mind you, I only saw this film on television, never in a movie theater, so, in my humble opinion, the scary parts had to be really scary in order to be as effective viewing it on a 10-inch television screen in the comfort and safety of my parent's living room vs. the big screen in a dark movie theater.

The real scary elements of this film:

  • Lots of fog just like a gothic monster flick.
  • Lots of suspense waiting for The Man to show up.
  • The Man finally shows up in spectacular fashion.

Recently, I viewed this film again and it still holds up. I recommend it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

why I hate e-mail

I get 200 to 250 e-mails per day. I estimate that 20 to 25% of that e-mail is legitimate e-mail, i.e., correspondence with real live people, the output of e-mail lists I subscribe to, and advertisements from companies that I agreed to accept e-mail from. The rest is junk that I wade through in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I actually don't hate e-mail. It is the process of separating the good e-mail from the bad e-mail that I dislike.

I have been using Thunderbird as my e-mail client for about three weeks. It spots about a third of the junk I receive and seldom mislabels good e-mail as junk, but it may be able to do better. I will tweak its spam filtering settings to see if I can improve things and let you know how it goes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

why I hate Harry Potter

Ron Charles pretty well sums up my feelings about Harry Potter.

Instead of regurgitating what he wrote, you can read it here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

white MD-80 mystery

Thursday morning, I took my daughter to the airport (BDL) to catch a flight to Phoenix. After she disappeared into the bowels of the terminal, I headed home.

Exiting the short-term parking lot ($2.50 for 1/2 hour), I noticed an MD-80 moving slowly on the tarmac in front of me. This was not your everyday MD-80. It had no passenger windows, it was painted white, and the only insignia was a small US flag on the side (behind the wing, but ahead of the engine) with an N-something identification number below the flag.

Friday afternoon, I walked my dogs and as we headed back home, I hear a jet airplane approaching from the north. It was louder than most, so I figured it must be low. When it cleared the trees blocking my view, it was indeed low and it was a white MD-80 just like the one I saw the previous morning. My guess is that it was the same plane having just left BDL, which is less than 25 miles away.

I am familiar with the routes of planes in my neck of the woods and everything related to BDL in my neighborhood flies north into BDL. I never see a plane flying south from BDL, but my white MD-80 was flying south from BDL.

This unusual plane and its unusual route caused me to believe that this plane was involved in some kind of government operation.

I began researching the mystery on the Internet and I had my answer quickly via AIRLINERS.NET. On the web site's discussion list, the white MD-80 puzzle was solved: U.S. Marshals use it to transport prisoners.

I highly recommend AIRLINERS.NET for information and photos regarding aviation. By today's count, the web site has 1,188,164 photos on line!

By the way, the white MD-80 looked spectacular winging its way over Downtown Wolcott.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Surfin': It's All Too Much

This week's installment of Surfin’ provides a grab bag of short topics, all too much to summarize here. After you read Surfin’, you can leave your comments here.

By the way, Surfin’ is a weekly column published on ARRLWeb that finds and features Web sites that are related to Amateur Radio, specifically, and radio, in general. If you have any suggestions for Surfin’, please contact WA1LOU using the e-mail link to the right.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

show me your passport

This morning, my daughter is flying to Phoenix by way of Minneapolis to visit a friend. I am watching the track of her flight on FlightAware, which is like APRS for commercial air traffic. Her 7:41 AM flight left BDL at 8:09 AM and is currently over Lake Huron having completed its flight over a foreign land (Canada).

So how come she did not need a passport to enter Canada and then, re-enter the USA?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

scared & scarred by the silver screen

My daughter bought me some postcards for my collection. The stash included some depicting posters of 1950's science fiction films including the original Godzilla film titled Godzilla, King of the Monsters.

IMDB says that the film was released in 1954. Amazon says 1956. I'm guessing that 1954 was the release date in Japan and 1956 was the release date stateside because I saw that movie at the State Theater when it came out and I was 3 years old in 1954 and 5 years old in 1956, so 1956 is more like it.

I remember asking my Mom to take me to see that movie. She was a fan of horror flicks, so she agreed and took my sister and I downtown to see the film one afternoon.

I remember the long line in front of theater to buy tickets. The line was so long that it went up East Main Street and turned the corner down Brown Street. Mom thought the line was too long and so she decided that we would return to see the film on another day.

Eventually, we did see the film and it scared the crap out of me! I had Godzilla nightmares for years.

Remember that scene when a procession of people are walking up the side of a hill? Godzilla pops up on the other side and everyone in a panic runs back down the side of the hill. Well, many a time, I relived that scene in my nightmares with my family and I in that procession of people going up and down the side of the hill.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters was the first of the many "monster movies" that scared and scarred me in theaters when I was a kid. I will write about the others in the future.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

new holy land postcards

I recently acquired (via eBay) new postcards depicting Holy Land in my hometown, Waterbury. I just added them to my Holy Land, Batman! page. You can tell which ones are new by the word NEW at the beginning of the new postcards' descriptions.

By the way, I am always on the lookout to add Waterbury Holy Land postcards to my collection, so if you have any you don’t see below that you wish to unload, please let me know.

Monday, July 16, 2007

click, click

Yesterday, an intense thunderstorm blew through Downtown Wolcott in the late afternoon. While I was waiting out the storm in our family room, I heard a loud click-click. My wife also heard the click-click two rooms away in the kitchen. The click-click was followed by a very bright flash and the loudest thunderclap that I have ever remembered hearing.

I remarked to my wife that I think that lightning strike was very close!

I got up out of my chair and inspected the inside of the house to see if everything seemed normal. The only abnormal thing I found was the slight smell of ozone as I passed by the closed slider door that opens onto the deck.

I was curious about the two clicks, so I posted my experience on the wxqc (weather data quality) email list, which "is for Citizen Weather station operators who have an interest in improving the quality of the data that they report. This includes aspects like the siting of stations, how to calibrate sensors, how to interpret data quality problems and other general topics of interest."

I received a bunch replies. The consensus seem to follow what retired meteorologist, Thomas Giella, KN4LF, wrote:

"You were hearing the sound of the upward leader moving skyward from your tower, tree, telephone pole, etc. just before it met the downward stepped leader from the cloud and the lightning discharge occurred. You were VERY close to those strikes and lucky to have been unharmed and/or have suffered no property damage."


Sunday, July 15, 2007

happy birthday, APRS Internet System

Steve Dimse, K4HG, posted this on APRSSIG today:
Ten years ago today I registered For a week or two before that I had been testing APRServe, with consolidated data from San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami, but the switch over to marks the official birthday of the APRS Internet System. What a decade it has been! Thanks to all the (far to many to name) hams whose contributions have grown the system to what it is today.

Friday, July 13, 2007

LDE hoax

In this week's installment of Surfin' about long-delayed echoes (LDEs), Whitey Doherty, K1VV, recalled "hearing about an LDE incident many years ago, must be at least 40 years ago, when TV channels went off the air at midnight. Someone said a program showed up on the screen, a snowy picture, but it was a broadcast from six years previously. It lasted several minutes. Can’t recall where or exactly when I heard that or read it.”

Today, Ric Wayman, K7DLX, e-mailed me that this story is an urban legend and, in fact, an LDE hoax. You can read all about it at the Urban Legends Reference Pages web site.

Surfin': Long-Delayed Echoes -- Again, Again, Again...

Long-delayed echoes (LDEs) is again the subject of Surfin'. After you read Surfin', you can leave your comments here.

By the way, Surfin’ is a weekly column published on ARRLWeb that finds and features Web sites that are related to Amateur Radio, specifically, and radio, in general. If you have any suggestions for Surfin’, please contact WA1LOU using the e-mail link to the right.

Monday, July 9, 2007

more long-delayed echo e-mail

This week’s Surfin about long-delayed echoes has generated additional interesting e-mail today.

David Burger, VK2CZ, wrote:
I enjoyed your summary of LDE info, including the Oslo summary too... I've been licensed here in Australia since 1974 and have encountered LDE's around 1977 / 1978 on the 15m band during my degree course. In more recent times, I currently use a 'very very ' large 10m antenna array and have encountered LDE's on some DX stations (VE2 and western EU) from here over the past 6 years or so... ie not my own echo's, but delays between the DX main signal and then replications of their signals.. These type of signals were last heard in Dec'06 during the ARRL 10m contest I did -->> [ note: I didn't describe the signals however, but you can see what I've done]

Being an engineer (PE) with a very pragmatic & practical bent... I simply put this down to the effects of signal progression in a waveguide - where it is possible to have a signal moving through a waveguide down to 1% to 2% of the speed of light or less... These are all classical worked examples in microwave handbooks... where the signal frequency is near the cut-off frequency limit for a waveguide...

But I am very very confident the ionosphere can 'fabricate' a sizable waveguide style duct over short periods... and while this would and could explain a single signal delay, some discontinuity in the 'ionospheric waveguide' could generate return loss blips... hence echo's. I've no way to 'test' this idea.. but maybe info from ionosondes might help explore it..

Anyway, I figured I'd share my idea with you... as I sort of took this for granted for the past 25 years that every engineering student who studied microwaves could see this effect if practice on HF.

The idea of unknown aliens or X-Files may appeal to some, but after being immersed in engineering forensics for many years, most things can be explained.. anyway - it makes sense to me..

Sverre Holm, LA3ZA, responded to David and carbon-copied me:
Thanks for your interesting info on possible LDE's. I have never heard any myself, except for the echoes I describe on

Here I have recorded JA3YBK coming in simultaneously over three different paths which most likely are short-path, long-path, and short-path w/ extra trip around the earth. Of course this is not an LDE, but rather short-delayed echoes, but they are still interesting.

Terry Glagowski, W1TR, also e-mailed me today with the following:
I had the experience of an LDE back in the mid 1990's maybe about 1994 or 1995…

I was located in Spokane, WA and it was late evening, not quite midnight…

I was talking to some W6 and W7 stations in CA, OR, WA on 160 meters and I heard the LDE echo on my own transmission… about 1/3 second.

I also tried it on 75 meters and the same thing happened!

The other stations I was talking to could not hear anything on my signal or theirs...

This went on for about an hour, and then dissappeared altogether and I have never observed it since !

I wrote a letter / email to ARRL describing this (tech dept) and several possible explanations were given from different articles available at the time… The most likely, that my signal followed a discontinuity in the magnetic flux lines down to the southern hemisphere and bounced back from there.

That would explain the time of 1/3 second, but I didn't do sufficiently precise or formal recordings / documentation of the phenomenon to go any further with it… too bad! There was no perceptable doppler shift that I could discern.

Finally, Whitey Doherty, K1VV, wrote:
Another excellent posting... We have experienced LDEs in several contests ... our sigs on CW coming around 1/7 of a second later ... confused me the first time I heard it ... we have worked some DX during contests that the same thing happened ... it seemed like their CW sign was coming from several directions at once...with delays .. almost impossible to copy the CW ...

I remember hearing about an LDE incident many years ago ... must be at least 40 years ago ... when TV channels went off the air at midnight .. Some one ... don't recall where it said a program showed up on the screen .. snowy picture ... but it was a broadcast from 6 years previously lasted several minutes ... can't recall where or exactly when I heard that or read it.

I replied to Whitey that I thought I had read about it in one of Frank Edward's Stranger Than... books.

an oldie

Geoff, WA1U, wrote about this in his blog on Saturday and I searched the Internet to find out more about the news that WCBS-FM in NYC was returning to an oldies format.

I am an admitted oldies fan. The 1960s is my favorite music era; 1967 my favorite music year; WABC-AM out of The City was my favorite radio station in that era. I'll bet that half of the 7000 plus songs on my iPod are from the 1960s. So, the WCBS-FM story is good news to me.

My wife thinks that it is time that I join the rest of civilization in the 21st Century, at least on a music level. I do listen to music from other eras. I listened to most of the Live Earth concert, i.e., the version that was broadcast on network television Saturday night. It was OK, but I would have preferred to watch a rebroadcast of the T.A.M.I. Show. What can I say?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

long-delayed echoes still again

Dave Newkirk, AB2WH, e-mailed the following update regarding this week's Surfin', which talks about long-delayed echoes:

Although Bill Continelli's "Installment #31" says "After the early 70's, reports of, and interest in Long Delayed Echoes diminished. Today, they are just a question mark in amateur radio history," QST told a different story in O. G. Villard, Jr, W6QYT, "The Magnetospheric Echo Box--A Type Of Long-Delayed Echo Explained," October 1980 QST, p 11.

My father and several coworkers heard LDEs on a State Police interzone (shortwave CW) circuit just below 3 MHz in the 1960s. I think he mentioned that incident in "How's DX?" circa 1970.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Surfin': Long-Delayed Echoes Again

Long-delayed echoes (LDEs) is the subject of this week's installment of Surfin'. After you read Surfin', you can leave your comments here.

By the way, Surfin’ is a weekly column published on ARRLWeb that finds and features Web sites that are related to Amateur Radio, specifically, and radio, in general. If you have any suggestions for Surfin’, please contact WA1LOU using the e-mail link to the right.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

commute this SFB

My sister phoned C-SPAN's Washington Journal this morning. The subject was the president's commuting of Scooter Libby's sentence.

Here is what my sister said,"As a citizen, I was very upset and have one comment: that I wish the president could commute the death sentences of 3500 of our soldiers in Iraq."

Good job, Sis!

cheap video camera

Recently, Geoff, WA1U bought a disposable video camera and hacked it so that he can reuse it. He has been posting videos that he has captured with his hacked disposable on his blog.

I am intrigued and would like to perform a similar hack myself.

Yesterday, Geoff posted a link to a web site dealing with camera hacking and here it is for those of you interested in hacking your own video camera.

Monday, July 2, 2007

T-bird redux

I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird for a few days now and I am happy to report that it is an excellent e-mail program and I plan to continue using it.