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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

snow diary

Two inches of snow fell this morning.

Total snowfall this month is 14 inches.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

snow diary

What started out as freezing rain last night, turned to snow and deposited about 1-inch of heavy wet snow by daybreak today.

Total snowfall this month is 12 inches.

Surfin': The Ghosts of Surfin' Past

This week, revisit past installments of Surfin' and the history of wireless communications.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

snow diary

7 inches fell between 8 PM and whenever the snowfall stopped early this morning

Friday, December 18, 2009

disposable printers


We create and print our own cards for the Holidays. Time is running out and I planned to print the cards today.

Yesterday, I went to the local big box store to buy a black ink cartridge for the old Epson printer that is our printer these days. I had a spare color cartridge, but no spare black and I was concerned that I would run out of black ink in the middle of printing the cards today.

Problem is that the Epson is so old that the local big box store did not have the black ink cartridge that the Epson uses.

There was no time to mail order a black cartridge, so I bought a brand new Canon printer for $30, which is cheaper than a set of black and color cartridges.

Considering the price of ink cartridges, printers are now disposable. Next time I need ink, I may buy new printer again.

UPDATE:
I printed all the cards we needed with whatever ink I had left for the old printer. I never even cracked open the carton of the new printer and I am tempted to return it for a refund.

Surfin': Top 10 Ham Radio Web Sites

This week, Surfin' revisits the "Top 10" Amateur Radio Web sites.

UPDATE: Seems that Number 6 on the list is kaput. It was there the last time I tried accessing it. Murphy's Law says that it would go down in the interim!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Surfin': Do-It-Yourself Retro

This week, Surfin' visits a very unusual Web site featuring do-it-yourself projects with a nostalgic flavor.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

snow diary

4 inches fell overnight and is changing over to sleet this morning.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Surfin': Twitter, Facebook and Ham Radio

This week, Surfin' considers how Internet social networking connects with ham radio.

UPDATE: Below are the e-mails I received regarding this installment of Surfin' and further below are the comments.


Howdy,

One of the neater uses of ham radio and twitter is to post to your
twitter account using ham radio, aprs and the 73s.org
website. You can also send APRS messages via twitter through 73s.org
.

All of the information is at http://73s.org/n7ice/blog/253

very neat - to be stuck in traffic and be able to update my twitter from
the radio.

-neil
KC9CJL
Indianapolis, IN


Stan, I'm looking at your "Amateur Radio meets social networking" article and wonder if you saw the week-long opportunity that starts tomorrow.

It could be an interesting, short-fuse "QST" exercise to mobilize all hams in CONUS in support of a collective goal... and get DARPA to document amateur radio's contribution and capabilities.

https://networkchallenge.darpa.mil/default.aspx

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10406752-94.html

73,

David
KB5LAM/4


Stan,
Twitter alert function for Aurora Alerts:
Aurora_Alerts

Although they are not directly ham related there are weather type Alerts for the Skywarn/Ham types, also twitter:
iembot_mpx [the MPX is the code for Minneapolis NWS change for your NWS office]
iembot_spc [SPC is for Storm prediciton center]

Another twitter, Emergency mail .org, never seen much out of it but might be worthwhile if the world comes to an end:
EmergencyEmail
Another twitter Vortex 2 (the tornado chasing project from last summer continuing to next summer) twitter if you like following that: vortex2nssl

73's
Brian Richard
KC0RWZ


My signature says it all. I have enjoyed the social networks a lot. I can tweet “listening on 14.275”, or “going mobile listening on echolink 149493 and IRLP 7060” and have made quite a few contacts this way. Also rather then looking through dxclusters, I just simply look at my twitter feed for dxanywhere and instantly I can see what bands are open.

Dave Hoffman N3PRO
Www.n3pro.net

Social networks:
Www.facebook.com/n3pro
Www.friendfeed.com/n3pro
Www.73s.org/N3PRO – ham radio social networking
Www.twitter.com/N3PRO



Stan -

I am not sure if this is a unique use of Twitter or not, but I use it to send out notices of new blog posts. When ever I write a blog post I also send the title and a direct link to the post in a tweet.

I originally didn't want to use it, but my brother is in advertising and steigic communications and said it would be worth it. I don't use any of the online applications these days to write about every little detail of my life and what is going on - I don't think that is necessary. The way some people use Facebook and Twitter is a little out of hand, in my book. The way in which I use them is very laid back. I am not all over either one.

--
Steve D'Amico
www.KC8QVO.com


Stan,

I just saw your 12/4/2009 article on the aarl.org site titled "Surfin': Twitter, Facebook and Ham Radio".

I thought I'd share some of my social networking things.

So, I have a facebook account(http://www.facebook.com/makikato) and I also manage the MVARC's club page. Most of our members are not on Facebook (yet) so there isn't much there, but I'm hoping it'll at least have some presence for our club inside Facebook land.

http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=149406329425&ref=ts

I must admit some of this is just one big learning experience :-) And Facebook isn't the most intuitive user interface.

I'm a builder, and want to learn more about electronics and homebrewing so I spend a bit of time looking for things to read on the 'net. All that gets culminated in my delicio.us account. I tell my friends they can pretty much follow me by looking at my delicio.us account.

http://delicious.com/mk2s

One of the interesting ways of using delicious I found is to look at the links of others who have bookmarked the same pages as you, and find things in their bookmarks that you've never seen.

Recently I've been putting together a MOuSeFET transmitter with a friend of mine Craig NC4P, and we're keeping track of the conversations we have in a Google wave conversation. If you'd like to have a look send me your google wave account. If you don't have a google wave account let me know and I'll send you an invite.

....maki.... K4RQZ


Hi Stan,

I think I found the right you to follow on twitter...

Here's the history of my posts. You might find a few even
interesting. Twitter is a great way to share the 'little things' with
fellow hams that would just clutter the mail reflectors...

http://twitter.com/wa7nwp

73
Bill, WA7NWP



Hi Stan,

I don't really use facebook and actually as I could not find a use for it... deleted my account but I have been experimenting with twitter.

The APRS to Twitter gateway offered by 73s.org is a really great way to go...I have used this function many times sending an APRS text message out and my daughters (who follow me on Twitter just for this reason) get the message fairly promptly. This works fantastic as some of the areas I play radio from are not within cell phone coverage so it gives me a way to get a message to a non amateur family member out...

Recently there have been some Amateur Radio Operators (WG0AT and VA3SIE) beaconing their locations and operating frequency over APRS with a Twitterlink when out on mini DXPeditions such as the recent Summits on the Air (SOTA) activity weekend.

I also on occasion have spotted my self on an APRS/Twitter system just looking for a rag chew on a quiet afternoon. It lets the 50 people who follow me (minus my two daughters who are not hams) that I am QRU on a frequency and waiting for calls...

Hope these comments help you in your article.

I enjoy your articles and keep them coming...

73 and Merry Christmas

Bob

*Bob Sharp VA3QV/VA3RCS*

*http://va3qv.wordpress.com/* *(Blog)*


Stan:

I read your Surfin': Twitter, Facebook and Ham Radio Internet social networking (ISN) article and was glad to see an article written about this topic as we need to shed new light on to our amatuer radio community.

After dwelling on it for awhile I truly believe that ISN's will provide hams with a new generation of powerful tool applications to help aid amateurs with our hobby from this point on. But the first step to this success will have to be amateurs not being procrastinators. We first need to educate ourselves first with these new services. We need to embrace and take full advantage of them today rather then tomorrow.

My main interest now is television Dxing. I normally came be found on the 2005 Bob's Radio Web, TvFmSkip Log at Dxworld.com, a collection of interactive pages for Dxers. Here I can post real-time ionospheric
condition alerts or chat when conditions are not that favorable.

This above site is a great with all it's useful links if you have a net connection while your in the field or mobile using your portable PC that has a web browser to access the link.

What do you do if you do not have that option but would like to communicate when tropospheric and sporadic-e exists at your location in real-time?

That is when Twitter fills the gap, a free micro-blogger that is a short message service that works over multiple networks in real-time. As their header logo states - "Share and discover what's happening right now, anywhere in the world". Here is my tweet: http://twitter.com/GACTVDX

If you have cell phone service, then you just found the answer. To use it with your phone you will first have to download a client service application(s).

Once the alert are issued using both TvFmSkip Log and Twitter and television Dx starts to appear on the screen I will video record the event with a camcorder. Later it will be uploaded to Youtube.com which everyone knows by this time is a video sharing website on which users can built their own channel to upload and share videos with the world. Here is my Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/GACTVDX

After that's completed, a copy of the video will be archived on a site know as Arkiva.com, a secure offsite file storage, sharing, and media conversion. Basically a online cyberhome that is a free service with up to 2Gb of space for your hobby group page. Their header logo is "All
your Digital Files. One Place". It also offers free email. Here is my hobby group page:
http://www.arkiva.com/members/members.htm

Go ahead and give these new services a try.

73's

Mike Schaffer
KA3JAW
EL87
Tampa, Florida

Friday, November 27, 2009

WA1BXI

I read in the obituaries today that John Karezna, WA1BXI, died.

John was the first person to answer a voice CQ from me.

After I passed my Technician Class license, I bought a used Heathkit Twoer and put it on the air on 2-meters AM in April 1971. John came back to my first ever voice CQ and we became fast friends, chatting away for hours on the old Connecticut Mobileers channel (145.35 MHz).

John worked with my grandfather, Andrzej Gogolewski, at Chase Metal Works in Waterbury and being into metal, he built a tilt-over tower from scratch. The tower was about 75-feet tall and I drove over to John's house in Wolcott to see it was duly impressed.

I eventually moved to 2-meter FM leaving John on 2-meter AM, thus ending our long chats. I occasionally ran into John on the air during VHF contests, but during contests, there was no time for long chats and our friendship waned.

Anyway, 73, my old friend and thank you for answering my "CQ."

Surfin': A Wireless Dilemma

This week, Surfin' wonders what to do when ham radio transmissions interfere with the wireless equipment.

UPDATE: Below are the e-mails I received regarding this installment of Surfin' and further below are the comments.


Verizon provided me with a Westell Model 327W DSL/router, Stan. It shares desk space with a legal-limit HF/VHF station and I've never had a problem with the station's operationg taking the router down or causing interference to the Internet system. The router does create some irritating, but tolerable, spurs across the HF bands - they are typical of the breed and not unique to Westell.

73, Brad, W9FX


Good Morning Stan,

I repairs for a living after retiring on 22 years in the Navy. I would suggest that you get with the tech folks over at Linksys but my feeling is that unless one puts some space between his or her equipment and hardwires the computers vice going wireless you’re not going to have much luck. I was thinking that one might try locating the wireless router in another room and hardwiring it back to the shack.

73,

Dave, W1GBA


Hi Stan,

I have used the ubiquitous Linksys wireless router for years with no RF issues. Mine is a "G" model. At my QTH I use an internet connection to Comcast Cable with one of their boxes that also handles my phone service. All of this is located on the second floor of my house next to my wife's computer. My shack is in the basement so I use the WiFi link to get an internet connection from the second floor to the basement. I can run up to 1KW out on 160-6M and have not had the internet connection fail on any band. My antennas consist of a 130 ft. long wire in an inverted L configuration which used on 160-30M, a roof mounted HyGain AV-620 vertical for 20-10M and a 3 el 6M yagi. The long wire goes up the side if the house and then across the top of the house right above the router.

The Comcast internet/phone converter box and the Linksys wireless router combo seem to be a reliable combination in an amateur radio environment. At least they are at my house.

Don KK9H


Stan,

I do quite a bit of local and long range wireless networking for my day job in Fargo, ND. I’m by no means a ‘pro’ but hold my own….

My suggestion is to play home frequency coordinator and make sure the other wireless gear isn’t using the same frequencies

A number of wireless ISP’s use unlicensed gear that is operating in the same bands as common home wifi.

I would ask your WISP what frequencies they use specific to what your CPE (customer premises equipment) is tuned into and then check frequencies in use against your old router.

Also….the most common interference with wireless routers is the cordless phone….most of them residing in the 2.4GHz which is in direct competition with 802.11b and g…..g being the most prevalent wifi band in use today.

802.11a uses 5.8ghz…also in the same band as many cordless phones, but fewer wifi networks so it tends to be more open for computer use. The new GHz cordless phones don’t conflict at all (yet…lol).

If you happen to have a old PC and an atheros based wireless PCI card, I would suggest that you surf for ‘mikrotik routerOS’.

Its an operating system that is a great linux wireless router and is becoming wildly popular in 3rd world countries and around the world since it is so low cost and reasonably simple to implement for how robust it is….and it has some cool utilities like a ‘tada!’ Wifi spectrum analyzer.

RouterOS isn’t free, but you get access to the full version for 24hours of uptime…plenty for a week or so of toying around in the evening.

Mark-

KC0SHM

Fargo, ND


Hi Stan,

I found the Linksys WRT54g router to be the best. Mines sits only 10 feet from the feed point of my 160 meter Inverted L and it has never
locked up. I have an SG-230 tuner at the feed point so I can tune it on all HF. So far, operation on all HF has never bothered it.

I did notice that DSL modems that also use an internal wireless router are very sensitive to RF. My neighbors DSL would be knocked offline
every time I was on 160 meters. I was only running 100 watts and their modem/router was 300 feet away!

Another option that was recommended to me by another neighbor that works for the local cable company that can be adapted to just about
any router or modem:

http://www.2xlc.de/outdoor_wrt.html

The outer case can be wrapped in aluminum or copper tape for for extra shielding.

Hopefully this may help..

73,
John - N9LYE


Hi Stan,

When I set up my home wireless, I anticipated this issue. So, what I did was to bring my DSL line & router to the family computer, a distance away from the ham shack. In the shack I use a laptop with a wireless connection. No problems, as the wireless router is away from the shack & my legal limit amplifier. Perhaps the person should try that, instead of having the router itself in the shack with so much high power RF floating around.

73, Bill Cruikshank, K2WC


I saw your post on the ARRL site. I am currently studying for my Technician license. I am employed as a Project manager in a Technologies company S&F Technologies www.sftech.biz . I have fairly extensive knowledge of WI-FI networks and networking in general.

This is of some interest to me so if i could offer some help i would like to offer.

Does your WI-FI network go down? slow down Etc.

When you say that you switched from Satellite to WI-FI, this confuses me. Generally WI-FI is an Add-on to another Broadband technology such as cable modem, DSL and satellite. Are you using a municipal provided WI-FI service.

If i can help let me know.

thanks
SAL


Hi Stan. Leaving aside the question of security (wireless routers are much more difficult to secure than a wired router, some would say impossible), check the power supply of your router. Far too many devices today use cheap switching power supplies that not only cause a lot of RFI, but also cannot reject strong RF from outside sources.

And then there is the best solution, don't run an amplifier!

TTYL
--
CUL8R

KBOHAE kb0hae@mchsi.com Martin Campbell


GM...................I to kill my router when I transmitt on 160-80 and 40m.....................Overhead phone line about 20ft long from a pole to the house.

My trap dipole runs over the wire so its close...........Tried all the filters and ferrite..........I am told that OZ7C has a filter which helps most people with this problem..........

73s

Roger, G3YBO


Sir,

I read your article on the Wireless Dilemma and I think I have a solution. I can't say if this will work but its worth a shot. I noticed that a lot of the consumer based WiFi products are not as robust as I would like them to be. What you could go out and do is get a Wireless Access point from Cisco. We had three of them for my Wireless Communications class in college and although I have not had the chance to really play around with them, the construction of these devices I encountered seems to be shielded with a couple of antennas on it. I'm not sure what the exact specs are but I figure just an AP itself instead of "network in a box" might be a step in the right
direction. Let me know what you think.

SGT Luke Miller
KC0YBG


Stan,

You've touched on a sore spot! A little over a year ago I switched from dial-up (I know, I know!) to a wireless ISP. I've had some issues when I'm QRO. At the time of service, I turned in a trouble report, and, to date, am still "on ignore". The CAT 5 cable from their dish on my tower to my wireless router is UTP. I contacted the ARRL Tech Services folks, and they suggested common-mode chokes at both ends. I live with the issue. The broadband is worth the hassle. Unfortunately, the local phone company is not interested in providing DSL to an older subdivision. Hopefully, a fiber initiative to which our city is party will bring relief, but it is a ways out. My real problem is getting into my wife's wireless mouse, HI.

I'll watch your column on the web for magic answers!

73 de bill n7ie .. .


Hi Stan,

A PS to my comment yesterday. I've found wireless keyboards and mice to be quite a problem. So I only only use corded ones. I have no problems with them at legal limit, but if I did, at least with cords I could use ferrite beads to fix it. Hard to put ferrite beads on wireless. :-)

Bill Cruikshank, K2WC


Dear OM,

I have had very good luck using the Sonicwall TZ-180W. It is pricey though. Your reader may also want to consider relocating the Belkin wireless rourter away from the shack and antennas and running a good quality Ethernet cable from the remote location back to the shack.

73 es GL

-Barnett, W1XL


Stan,

Saw the article on ARRL.org speaking of your interference problems with a wireless router. I am using a Linksys WRT54G. The router sits on the top shelf of my desk, about two feet from my HF rig and three feet from the SB-220 amp. I'm running dipoles out back and they are maybe 30 feet from the router. Absolutely no problems here.

You didn't provide any details about what you connect to for internet service since disconnecting from satellite. I am on a cable modem. If I was going to have a problem, I would suspect a harmonic of the HF signal getting into the cable system and interfering with the upstream carrier in the 20-40 MHz region.

73, Dennis NE6I



Ive always found the metal enclosed routers to be more robust in RF environments. Most routers these days seem to be housed in a plastic shell, offering little RF shielding to the internal crcuits. The article states that the case is grounded, so I am assuming it is a metal case, otherwise, the grounding didnt accomplish much.

Ferrite cores on the cable will help if the RF ingress is being picked up on the power or ethernet cords. but this is perhaps not the case, as doing this did not solve the problem

A bandpass filter on the antenna port will help if there is RF ingress into the antenna port of the router.
http://www.dci.ca/?Section=Products&SubSection=WiFi

This might be a stretch, but perhaps when the amplifier is running a large load is put on your electrical service (or atleast the breaker-circuit that the amplifier and router are on) and the voltage drops to a point where the router is not being supplied sufficient energy. This doesnt seem likely as most routers run off of 12v or 5v supply. The wall adapter is probably a small switching supply, capable of handling low AC line levels. Perhaps the RF field is ingressing here, disrupting the performance of the switching supply? The ferrites would not be helping in this case, as the RF is not being induced in the DC cord between the power supply and router, but in the power supply itself. Try a different power supply, perhaps one with better shielding.

These are things that need to be explored more carefully, perhaps just moving the router to a different outlet or to a different room?


-Greg, N2GZ
n2gz@gregzenger.com


Hi Stan,

No disrespect, but in England we're only allowed 400 watts maximum at the antenna feedpoint....................

My Belkin WiFi link to a remote printer is a load of C**P.........I'll be getting my money back !!

We are also having major interference problems with British Telecom plug-in " Comtrend" home poweline devices. The FCC seem to be more proactive with interference problems than our " OFCOM "
Best of luck with your Belkin router.

73's

Nigel ( G4 NRR )


Good Morning

I have a wireless router within 5 feet of my rig and about 25 feet from my outside antenna. I find that I have more of a problem with my old style CRT computer monitor than I do with the router interfering with my rig.

Best Regards,

Gary T. Moyher

WE1M


The Belkin and D-Link routers are “low end”. They have little protection against EMI or RFI.

He should be sure his ROUTER and Wireless Modem for the WiFi network are BOTH plugged into either an APC UPS or another brand with a REAL RFI filter on the surge protection – not radio shack or Lowes. That should improve the situation.

The IF in the Router and the Modem both use 40 MHz oscillators … most are not crystal controlled and are wobbly technique oscillatiors and sensitive to RF excitement changing the parameters of operation.

Some toroids, good grounding might make the Belkin work.

He is better to buy a commercial grade CISCO (Linksys makes ONE) or 3COM router in a METAL case with good Faraday shielding, make sure his power is filtered to the router setup and should work ok.

Jim N1CC


A year or two ago, in a drawing at a Network World meeting, I wont a Juniper router/firewall/Wireless access point. Its case was entirely metal - no plastic at all.
Unfortunately it was much more complicated than I needed, and I've passed it on - I'll inquire and see if I can get it back for you. The list price was like $1100 (!) - perhaps Juniper has lower end models with the same solid metal cabinets....

Fred Wagner, KQ6Q


Hi Stan.. I found this an up to date concern and as my radio equipment and computer with the WIFI routre right beside it I was wondering too?

I am co-editor of the Niagara Peninsuls Amateur Radio Club Our web site is: http://www.nparc.on.ca/content/home

VE3CJX Geddie
St. Catharines


I read the article on the ARRL website about RF getting into you wireless router. I personally hard wire all my computer accessories to avoid RF issues as well as maintaining security; folks have been known to park at the curb in front of your house with a laptop and some decryption software and “read” what’s going on with your computer via your wireless network.

You might try what I did to resolve an issue with my newly installed U-Verse residential gateway. After the technician finished the installation I asked him to wait while I fired up my transceiver. Sure enough, 50 watts and the gateway lost sync and all the services went dead. After a day and a half and three different ATT “experts” tried to resolve the problem they gave up on a Friday and said they would be back Monday to put me back with my old providers of internet, phone and television.

I really liked the features that U-Verse provided so I tackle the problem the next day myself. After connecting and disconnecting CAT 6 cables, coax feeds to the TV’s and running the gateway on battery back up, I determined the RF was not getting into the gateway via any hard wired connection. It was RF radiated directly into the plastic encased box. I remembered I had some left over aluminum window screen lying around so I measured the dimensions of the gateway box, made a pattern and folder up a Faraday shield the gateway could slip into. I stapled all the joins after making the folds and then attached two machine screw studs, one on each side of the screen. I then attached a #10 braided copper pigtail to each of the studs and then attached the ends of both pigtails to the ground lead (about a #6 gauge) of the 240 volt feed that supplies my linear amplifier and homebrew AM transmitter. PS: If you decide to do, this make sure the power to the circuit is shut off before you open up any electrical box.

I slipped the residential gateway box into the open end of my screen enclosure and fired everything up. I transmitted with 50 watts and ramped up to legal limit starting with 160 meters all the way up to 10 meters, the gateway never missed a lick and has operated perfectly ever since. I call ATT the following Monday and told them not to bother coming out, I had solved the problem.

If you have any computer generated noise getting into you receivers, try using a “brute force” filter in line with your computer power cord, it worked for me.

Good luck. Joe W8DCQ




So your on 900 mHz as well as your other duties?

Larry
W 1 L T


Put a cell phone on top of a new GE Profile Cooking Range ……. Cell phone packet emissions will trigger the oven according to a CNN Tech report. If I run over 500 watts on 40 meters, same problem while nothing else in the house has problems including the GE Profile Microwave, TV, and Satellite. My Linksys WiFi LAN and UPS are fine and are located just inches from the coax.

Bill k6acj


Hello Stan,

When I transmit on my CF Zepp with 100 watts it knocks the SBCGLOBAL.NET DSL out. It resets in about 30 seconds. My G5RV antenna doesn't. I have called AT&T technical service department and they have no clue what I am talking about when I asked if they had some RF chokes I could install on the telephone line.
I have tried winding coax chokes around the telephone cable and winding the phone line into a choke but nothing seems to stop the R.F. from getting into the modem. I have tried just about everything I can think of to solve this problem. There is nothing in the ARRL library that I can find about DSL R.F. qrm.

I just live with the problem until the house is rewired with optic cable.

Let me know if you discover a solution to this problem.

Dan, Ni9Y
ARRL Technical Specialist

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Packet Status Register, Autumn 2009

The Autumn 2009 issue of TAPR's quarterly newsletter, Packet Status Register (PSR), which I edit, is now available here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Surfin': Homebrewing Today

This week, Surfin' takes a look at some state-of-the-art homebrewing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

bear

On the way to work this morning, a bear ran across the road (Woodtick Road in Wolcott, CT) in front of the car in front of me. It was hauling dupa and heading in the general direction of my house about a mile away.

A bear (or bears) have been seen in my neck of the Wolcott woods for a few years now, but this was my first sighting.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Surfin': Mapping Up


This week, Surfin' gets geographical with new online mapping features and applications.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Surfin': Remembering the Woodpecker

This week, Surfin' recalls a formidable ham radio nemesis from the 20th century.

An Update:

Sergey Paskevych e-mailed me this today:

If you interesting of Duga (Russian Woodpecker) - invite you to look on my photo report from Chernobyl here and here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Surfin': Telling Your Stories

This week, Surfin' visits Web sites that encourage you to recount your adventures in ham radio.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Loco-Motion Revelation


Back in January, I purchased a DVD titled 1960’s WABC Radio Airchecks. In addition to airchecks, the DVD contains 75 hours of pure nostalgia from 77 WABC including “Actual Broadcasts By Big Dan Ingram, ‘Cousin Brucie’ Bruce Morrow, Ron Lundy, Scott Muni, Chuck Leonard & More.”

Seventy-five hours is a little much to listen to in one sitting, so I loaded the contents of the DVD into my iPod (by way of iTunes) and I hear random selections during my daily commute.

Today, I listened to a program in which Dan Ingram and Ron Lundy discuss the history of 77 WABC. During their discussion of 1962, they mentioned that a big hit that year was The Loco-Motion, which was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and sung by Ms. King's baby-sitter, Little Eva.

Both deejays were of the opinion that Carole King actually sung the song herself. As proof, Ron Lundy mentioned that he had seen Little Eva in person twice and during those two occasions, "Little Eva" was a different person.

Then they played the song.

I have heard that song countless times since it was released and until now, I never noticed that it definitely sounds like Carole King is singing the song.

Go figure!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Surfin': Revisiting "Where's DX?" and "Antennas in High Places"

The follow-up e-mails that Surfin' generates often expand on the topics that Surfin' originally covered. This week, Surfin' reviews the topic-expanding e-mails received during the past few weeks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Surfin': Where's DX?

If you want to get serious about adding new ones to your DXCC count, Surfin' suggests one way to do it.

UPDATE:

Bernie McClenny, W3UR, e-mailed me with some additional pertinent DX links:

"How's DX" column in QST magazine, edited by Bernie, W3UR

The Daily DX Calendar (open to the public)

The Daily DX and The Weekly DX newsletters (subscription based)

Bill Cruikshank, K2WC, e-mailed me that he prefers VE3SUN --- DX Monitor.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Surfin': Chasing Aurora

Aurora and the quest for that phenomena is the topic of this week's installment of Surfin'.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Surfin': Antennas in High Places


This week, Surfin' explores the Internet looking for the highest radio antennas on Earth.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Surfin': Don't Forget the Integrated Circuit

This week, Surfin' visits a Web site that remembers the component that shrunk the radio even more than the transistor did.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Surfin': Remember the Transistor

This week, Surfin' visits a Web site that remembers the component that shrunk the radio.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Surfin': Hamming from the Front Lines

This week, Surfin' discovers the story of a group of hams that became Marine Corps MARS during the Vietnam War.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Surfin': Still Finding Woodstock


This week, Surfin' unveils more ham radio connections to the three days of peace, music and mud.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Finding Woodstock" Annotated

In my weekly column, Surfin', I wrote about my Woodstock experience, but I left out some of the details so as not to make the column too long. For anyone interested, I added the details below. The original text in the column appears in green, the details, in black.

Forty summers ago, my high school classmates Joe Bergantino, WA1CYU, non-ham Ron Cibulskis and I decided to attend the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. I did not see much of Joe and Ron after Woodstock. Ron married another classmate, Anita Rosa, and the only contact I've had with him is when I ran into him at one of our high school class reunions. Joe became a television journalist and was well-known at WBZ in Boston. He also worked as a correspondent for ABC news and today is Director and Senior Investigative Reporter of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University. We have exchanged e-mails over the years. Our plan was to drive to Bethel, New York (the site of the event), on Friday night, stay over in a hotel and go to the concert on Saturday and Sunday. We decided to pass on the first day of the show because the Friday line-up was heavy on the folk music side of the music spectrum and we were rockers, not folkies.

With tickets in hand (I still have mine because no one collected them), we completed the 120 mile trip without difficulty. Traffic was heavy at times, but there were no slow-downs or stoppages; we arrived in the Bethel area in about three hours. Traffic was heavy on I-84 and NY Route 17, especially for a rainy, Friday night, but it never slowed down or came to a stop. We probably spent an hour in traffic in Monticello circling the town looking for a hotel.

We found a room in a hotel on Route 17B, which according to the desk clerk, was a "few miles" up the road from the concert. The hotel was a classic Catskill resort. We planned to drive to the concert site in the morning, so we got a good night's sleep, had breakfast and then went outdoors to discover that Route 17B was now a parking lot (a four-lane parking lot with all the vehicles pointed west, i.e., towards the site of the concert).

Since the concert site was only a "few miles" down the road, we figured we would walk to the site, see the show and walk back to the hotel whenever we needed a break. Ten miles later over hill in dale on a hot, humid August morning, we arrived at the site and plopped down on the ground with 300,000 others. We were seated about three-quarters of the way up the side of the hill that formed the natural amphitheater. I was very tired after that hike and when I plopped down on the ground, I thought to myself that I wished I was home.

That summer, I was working at a local discount department store (Caldor) unpacking clothing in the receiving department. I became friends with another summer employee named Jeanette, who worked in the women's clothing department. We did not mention our weekend plans to each other at work that week and I was very surprised to see her plop down on the ground a few feet away from me that Saturday afternoon (and she was also very surprised to see me). Small world.

I had just graduated from Sacred Heart High School and my eyes saw things that weekend that I had never seen before like marijuana and live naked women, as opposed to the naked women I had seen in Playboy. By the way, I did not partake in the marijuana or other drugs and I was too shy to deal with the naked women.

Boxes of food made their way through the crowd and I recall eating an orange from a box of fresh fruit and a popsicle from a box of popsicles. Late in the afternoon, I went searching for more food and found a booth selling sandwiches. I bought a meatloaf sandwich that consisted of two slices of white bread and a slice of meat loaf. I don't remember what I paid, but I do remember that the price was exorbitant and the sandwich was not too tasty.

Joe and I did not bring our ham radios. The equipment I owned at the time (the Heath DX-60B and HR-10B "twins") was not portable and Joe owned Hallicrafters equipment, which was no more portable than my twins. The only gadget we had on hand was my Kodak Super 8 film camera and I shot about half a roll of film that day. I returned to the site in October and shot the other half. I cut and spliced the film, interspersing the August scenes with the October scenes. One of these days, I will digitize that film and upload it to the Internet.

The concert began around noon, and after seeing performances by Quill , Keef Hartley Band, Country Joe McDonald (I was out on my sandwich hunt while Joe was playing.), John Sebastian, Santana (for some reason, I don't recall their performance), Canned Heat (great), Mountain (great), Grateful Dead (It was the first time I ever heard the Dead and I was not impressed. The Dead later admitted that they also did not like their Woodstock performance. I became a Dead fan later.) , Creedence Clearwater Revival (I loved Creedence and they did not disappoint), Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone (freakin' fantastic), and The Who (also freakin' fantastic; I do remember Pete Townsend removing Abbie Hoffman from the stage by whacking Hoffman's head with the back of his guitar), the Sun came up and I was very ill. I convinced Joe and Ron to leave and we hitched a ride back to our car, drove home, and I spent most of the following week in bed nursing flu-like symptoms. On the way home, we picked up two female hitchhikers, who were very "far out." I think we gave them the impression that we were not "far out."

This weekend is the 40th anniversary of that weekend, so I searched the Internet for any and all connections between Woodstock and ham radio...

After the event and for years thereafter, 300,000 was the estimate of the crowd size. These days, 500,000 is more like it. I dunno which is correct, but my gut says the former.

In December 1969, I wrote a letter to Time Magazine nominating the Woodstock Nation as their man of the year. I was very surprised to receive a telegram (the only non-ham telegram I ever received) informing me that Time would publish my letter. It appeared in the December 29th issue and was the first letter on the page. You can see it here.

In retrospect, I am glad that I went. The music was great and I received an instant education about the late 1960s counter culture, which would do me well as I prepared to go to college.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

my VOA QSL

In this week's Surfin' about the Voice of America (VOA), I mentioned in the Editor's Note that I think that the VOA QSL card in my collection "does not impress."

A reader took me to task about that comment. Evidently, he received a different VOA QSL than I received and thought my comment was a little out of line.

Above is the VOA QSL card I received and I still think it does not impress.

Perseids: called on account of weather

Last night was the predicted peak of the Perseids meteor shower, so around 10:30 PM, I went outside, lied flat on the driveway, and stared up at the Milky Way for 20 minutes waiting for meteors.

About ten minutes into my outing, I spotted a very dim satellite pass directly overhead on a south-to-north path. I never saw a dim satellite before. All the ones I've seen in the past were bright, points of light, but last night's was dim. Maybe there are others that are dim and I just never noticed them before because they are dim. Go figure.

A few minutes later, I saw a meteor fly out of Cassiopeia on a southwest track.

Then the clouds began to roll in, so I gave up the quest, went inside, turned on the television, watched K1GF's weather forecast, and then Letterman until the decidedly unattractive Paula Abdul convinced me to shut off the television and go to bed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Surfin': Discovering the Voice of America in Ohio

This week, Surfin' visits a blog and learns all about the Voice of America facility in southwestern Ohio.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Surfin': Getting Off the Grid Part Way


This week, Surfin' further explores the possibilities and practicalities of getting electricity from your own resources.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jim Rice's Hall of Fame Plaque

Jim Ed Rice

Baseball's Hall of Fame finally welcomes Jim Rice into its hallowed halls today and the event brings back memories of my all-time favorite Red Sox player.

First time I encountered Jim Rice was in 1973 when I attended an Eastern League AA game at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury between the Waterbury Dodgers and Bristol Red Sox. Fred Lynn was the big attraction for the Bristol team in 1973, but on that day, Mr. Rice slugged not one, but two home runs out of the unfriendly confines of Municipal Stadium. Municipal Stadium had the reputation as a lousy place to hit the baseball because it was built in a tight valley on the banks of a river; the air was always heavy with moisture and not conducive to hitting one out, but Mr. Rice hit two that evening.

On July 18, 1975, Pop and I attended a game at Fenway and sat in the "triangle" in the centerfield bleachers. During the game, Jim Rice hit a home run over our heads, as well as over the wall behind our heads. I was in awe. Mr. Rice accomplished the impossible before my eyes hitting a ball completely out of Fenway Park by clearing the back wall of the centerfield bleachers! Sox owner Tom Yawkey said it was the longest home run he ever saw hit in Fenway.

The fall of 1975 found me attending school in Springfield, Mass, but I was following the pennant race more closely than my studies. My roommate, Russ Schott, another diehard Sox fan, dubbed Mr. Rice "Jim Ed" that fall and that nickname has been stuck in my mind ever since.

Sidebar: When the Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, Russ Schott phoned me to celebrate that glorious event. I had not heard from Russ in years, but Red Sox blood is thicker than water, and that historic event was a cause to celebrate long distance.

In 1976 or 1977, Russ and I organized a bus trip for our classmates to Fenway for a Sox-Yankee game. We charged $12 for the outing and in addition to the bus ride to Fenway, the $12 included a bleacher seat ticket, a grinder (that Russ and I made), and access to two garbage cans (one at each end of the bus) full of ice cold canned beer. We filled the bus and got a free ride for our troubles.

Just to show you how the times have changed, we did not purchase tickets ahead of time. Instead, when the bus got to Fenway, Russ and I got out of the bus, ran to the ticket window and bought 42 bleacher tickets (at 50 cents each), then we ran back to the bus and handed out the tickets. You could not do that today.

The game was a typical Sox-Yankee barn-burner. We sat right behind the Yankee bullpen and I remember ragging Catfish Hunter so loudly that he glared at me while he was warming up. The Sox won and everyone had a great time despite the fact that we lost a few souls, who never showed up for the return trip to Springfield.

Back to 1975... Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were the "Gold Dust Twins" and led the Sox into first place, but at the end of the season, Jim Ed injured his wrist and had to sit out the playoffs and World Series. He did not play in one of the greatest World Series of all time and to this day, I think his absence was the difference between the Sox losing and winning that Series.

Hitting, rather than pitching, has always been my favorite part of the game and Jim Ed was the greatest slugger I had ever seen in a Sox uniform. Off the field, I loved the way he kept the press out of his business. Instead of kowtowing to the leeches that work for the Boston area media, he made it clear to them to stay out of his face. That probably cost him a few sportswriters' votes for various awards during his career and the Hall of Fame post-career, but he had more integrity than most ballplayers and stuck to his guns.

Did I mention that Jim Ed and I share the same birthday? He is a year younger, but I won't hold that against him.

Besides Red Sox yearbooks, scorecards, baseball cards, and spent Fenway tickets, I don't have much Jim Ed memorabilia. I do have some posters and his autograph on a 1978 team-signed baseball that now includes four Hall of Famers (Jim Ed, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, and Dennis Eckersley) along with other Sox stars of that era (Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans, George Scott, and Butch Hobson). That ball is one of my favorite Sox collectibles.

To tell you the truth, I was surprised Jim Ed made it into the Hall of Fame after being snubbed all these years and I was very happy he finally made it in. After all, we aren't getting any younger!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Surfin': Getting Off The Grid

This week, Surfin' explores the possibilities of getting electricity from your own resources.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

my moss is getting moldy

Last night, the local weather man claimed that at the rate this summer is going, it is going to be the coldest summer on record around here. I don't mind the cool weather, but the mass quantities of precipitation and lack of sunshine this summer is having its toll on the local environment.

My vegetable garden is a perfect example. My five tomato plants have produced one green tomato so far and I fear it will rot before it turns red. My ten pepper plants have produced nothing and they are so scrawny that I would not be surprised if they produce nothing at all this year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Teddy Ballgame


Pop was a Red Sox fan, so I was a Red Sox fan.

To begin my indoctrination into Red Sox fandom, Pop bought me my first pack of baseball cards early in the spring of 1958.

I opened the pack containing five cards and one slab of pink gum and discovered a Red Sox player among those five cards, but not just any player, rather it was Ted Williams' baseball card, which happened to be number 1 in the Topps series that year.

Pop was a Ted Williams fan, so I was a Ted Williams fan.

In 1959, Fleer issued an 80-card set of baseball cards commemorating Ted Williams career. (Ted was supposed to retire in 1959, but changed his mind before the season ended.) Almost everyday, Pop brought home a few nickle packs of Ted Williams cards for me and before long, I had a complete set except for one card, number 68.

Pop kept buying the cards so I could get that elusive #68, but no luck. Finally, one day he came home with a complete box of Ted Williams packs under his arm and I finally found #68 to complete the set.

Unbeknownst to Pop or me, #68 was very rare and I was lucky to find it at all. That card showed Ted signing his contract with Bucky Harris, the Red Sox GM back then. Turns out that Bucky had an exclusive contract with Topps, so Fleer had to stop production of #68 and very few of those cards ever made it out of the factory for sale to the public.

Opening Day 1958 at Yankee Stadium, I saw Ted play in person for the first time. I saw him in person a few more times before he retired. The most memorable was on his birthday at Fenway Park, August 30, 1960. The Fenway Park organist, John Kiley, played Happy Birthday when Ted stepped up to the plate, which was kind of special (I don't think Kiley did the same for Don Buddin or Marty Keough). A month later, Ted bid the fans adieu with a home run on his last career at bat.

After he retired, I saw Ted again when he came to Waterbury for The Jimmy Fund. He batted balls pitched to him by Joan Joyce, the famous softball player. I don't recall if the balls were softballs or hardballs, but whatever they were, they all flew out of Municipal Stadium that evening.

I recalled my memories of Ted Williams after watching his biographical documentary on HBO. It was very well done and it brought back memories of Ted's life that I had forgotten and revealed things I never knew. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

lightning update

The printer is dead, long live the printer.

Bad enough that the printer died, but to rub salt in my wounds, I recently stocked up on ink cartridges for the recently deceased printer.

Good news is that N1ED recently gave me two Epson printers that he no longer needed. I got one up and running this morning, so I am back in business.

My homeowner's insurance will pay for nothing because I did not have enough damage to exceed the deductible, so the thunderstorm cost me about $250 out of pocket.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

lightning update

After getting the phone company on the case yesterday, it turns out that the landline and DSL were down because the lightning damaged our telephone causing it to short the landline and DSL. In addition to damaging the telephone, the lightning also damaged the DSL modem and the WiFi transceiver (an Apple Airport).

I bought a new telephone, DSL modem, and Airport today and got everything up and running this evening.

The weather station returned to life inexplicably.

The jury is still out on the printer. Now that I have the phone and Internet back up and running, I will tackle the printer and see if I can bring it back to life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

lightning

A thunderstorm blew through last night and one lightning strike did damage. It took out the landline, the DSL, a printer, and my weather station. It may have also damaged a phone, the DSL modem, and the WiFi transceiver, but I can't be certain until AT&T restores DSL and phone service. There may have been other damage, but I have not had an opportunity to check everything.

Odd that we never lost electric service and my APRS digipeater kept plugging away throughout the storm.

Surfin': Hammin' With the Sun


This week, Surfin' travels to a ham radio station in The Bush of Australia where the Sun is everything.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

vegetable status

Weatherwise, it has been lousy around here during the six weeks since I planted my vegetables. Wet, cool, and not much Sun sums it up, but it looks like summer finally showed up yesterday.

Early on, I lost one tomato plant and a bunch of pepper plants. The tomato plant just never took to its transplanting, while the pepper plants suffered from an attack of snails and slugs.

The surviving tomato plants did ok until this week when I noticed signs of blight. The pepper plants have just been slow to grow.

The plants look pale in the photo because the day before, I sprayed them to counter the blight.

The dog (Pumpkin Pie) is looking around the corner for her nemesis du jour: Chip or Dale.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Giant Clawed Dinosaur Unearthed in Utah Desert


According to Discover Channel News, "A multi-institutional team of scientists this week reports the discovery of a giant new dinosaur in Utah, Nothronychus graffami, which stood 13 feet tall and had nine-inch-long hand claws that looked like scythes."

Despite the claws, it was a herbivore.

Read all about it here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

a pet peeve


One of my pet peeves has to do with magazine subscriptions. This particular peeve raised its ugly head again recently when my daughter gave me a subscription to Sky & Telescope as a Father's Day gift.

My subscription began with the arrival of the June, July, and August issues of the magazine during the past four days. The mailing address notes that my subscription runs out with the May 2010 issue.

My peeve is sending me two back issues (June and July) to fulfill my 12-issue subscription. If I thought enough of the magazine to get a subscription, would I not be interested enough to buy those issues of the magazine before getting a subscription?

This has happened so often in the past with other magazine subscriptions that I finally started complaining to the magazines and so far, each time I have complained, the magazine extended my subscription by the number of back issues they sent me.

I intend to complain to Sky & Telescope, too, but why should I have to do that?

Instead of sticking their new subscribers with back issues they might already have, the magazines should start new subscriptions with the next new issue. If a subscriber missed an issue, she/he can always purchase the back issue(s) instead of having back issues foisted on them unwillingly.

Monday, July 13, 2009

got good humidity


I have been monitoring my weather station closely since I got the outdoor humidity and temperature sensors back up and running on Friday afternoon and I noticed two things.

First, the bad news: I lose connectivity to the weather server for a few random hours each day. It may be something amiss with my APRS set-up or it may be network issues.

Now, the good news: I am not only getting outdoor humidity readings again, but now I am getting good outdoor humidity readings. The old humidity sensor always had very high readings, whereas the humidity readings from the new sensor compare favorably with the other nearby weather stations.

Friday, July 10, 2009

got humidity

The new cable for my weather station's outdoor humidity and temperature sensors arrived today. I swapped the old cable for the new cable and that solved the problem; my weather station has outdoor humidity and temperature readings again.

I examined the old cable, but could not see any problems with it. So I assume something internal to the cable or connector went bad.

Surfin’: Makin' Radio At A Higher Level


This week, Surfin' takes you out the door and up the hill to make contacts for awards.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

a new discovery

I like cookies.

I like some cookies more than I like other cookies. For example, I like chocolate chip cookies, but I am not a big fan of chocolate cookies, although I do like Oreos. Go figure.

On Father's Day, my wife Laurie gave me a bag of a new brand of cookies: Keebler Sandies Cashew Shortbread. I like Keebler Pecan Sandies, I like shortbread cookies in general, and I like cashew nuts, so there was a good chance that I would like the new Keebler offering.

Turns out that I don't like Keebler Sandies Cashew Shortbread cookies, rather I love them!!! They are perhaps the best store-bought cookie I have ever eaten and they rank highly with the best bakery and home-baked cookies, too. I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tunguksa Blast Mystery Solved by Space Shuttle?

According to National Georgraphic News today:

"Space shuttles blasting off from Earth may have helped solve the mystery of what came careening down from space to explode over Russia in June 1908.

"The so-called Tunguska event leveled 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) of forest in a remote area of Siberia.

"What caused the blast has puzzled scientists, because only a handful of people saw the explosion and it left no easily recognizable debris."

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

where's the humidity?

The rain gauge seems to be working! There was some precipitation this morning and the gauge confirms it.

Next, I plan to tackle the problem with the outdoor temperature and humidity sensors, which I wrote about here. I ordered a new cable from Peet Bros. today and hope that is the cure.

Monday, July 6, 2009

where's the rain?


We had a lot of rain here recently. There were claims that three to four inches fell last Thursday alone. But for a week or so, my rain gauge indicated no new precipitation.

Saturday, I checked it out to see what was the matter. I guessed that something was gumming up the works like dirt or leaves stuck in the bowl of the gauge. To my surprise, I discovered that the cable between the rain gauge and my weather station was cut about two feet below the rain gauge.

The cable is inaccessible to humans, so I assume an animal was the culprit: maybe a bird (perhaps a woodpecker) or maybe one of the squirrels that loves to sample my bird feeder.

But why would an animal cut the cable? The rain gauge, cable, birds, and squirrels have cohabited for over seven years and the cable remained intact all that time. Did the cable suddenly become tasty? It is just another mystery I will never solve.

I patched the cable yesterday and will monitor the gauge closely next time it rains hoping that there was no electronic damage caused by the cut.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

I am very particular and don't celebrate the fourth day of the seventh month of the year, rather I celebrate "Independence Day," i.e., the day our country's founders signed the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776.