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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010


Ten inches of snow accumulated overnight and this morning. A very light consistency that was easy to clean up after, but high winds made it more difficult than it had to be.

Total snowfall this season: 11 inches.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Surfin’: Where’s Channel 1?

This week, Surfin’ uncovers what really happened to broadcast television Channel 1.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Autumn 2010 Packet Status Register (PSR) is now available

Autumn 2010 Packet Status Register (PSR) is now available at

Table of Contents of the Autumn 2010, #113 issue of Packet Status Register (PSR)

* President's Corner

* DVB-S and DVB-T Using a USRP2

* Join TAPR on Facebook and Twitter

* Counting TNCs on the Wall

* 2010 DCC Notes

* Shorts

* Metis PCB Design Challenges

* TAPR Election Results

* Write Early and Write Often

* The Fine Print

By the way, the TAPR editorial staff is now accepting contributions for the next issue of PSR (January 15, 2011 is the deadline for submissions). Send your submissions to wa1lou at

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Surfin’: Debunking Ham Radio’s Urban Legends

surfin517 This week, Surfin’ scopes out for the truth behind ham radio’s urban legends.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Snow fell overnight. There was less than 1 inch accumulation, but it was the first accumulation of the new winter season.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Surfin’: Contesting One Extreme to Another


This week, Surfin’ considers contesting from one end of the HF radio spectrum to the other.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Surfin’: Indexing Ham Radio

This week, Surfin’ unearths online indices and archives for the “Big Four” in ham radio periodicals.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Show the Parade Already!

At 9 AM, WFSB - Channel 3 - the local CBS affiliate and WVIT - Channel 30 - the local ABC affiliate began broadcasting the NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade in name only.

I have been switching between the two broadcasts for 45 minutes and I have seen about 2 minutes of the actual parade. The rest of the time has been filled with acts from Broadway shows and commercials for junk to buy for Christmas.

Show the parade already!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

White Stuff

It snowed this morning, which represents the first frozen precipitation of the season. There was no accumulation, but in my opinion, it is too early for the white stuff to start falling from the sky.

Monday, November 1, 2010

First Freeze

Overnight, we had our first freeze of the fall-winter 2010-2011 season when the temperature got down to 31°F around 4 AM (November 1). It is the first time in a long time around here that the temperature did not get down to freezing once during October.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Surfin’: Beyond Bonaire -- It Was Like Magic

surfin511 This week, Surfin’ can’t get enough of that listening to the radio (AM and shortwave) back when The Beatles were still making music.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Number 49

I assume it was the black bear tagged 49 that visited us on Saturday evening.

I was watching the news, then the screen went blank, and we lost the signal from the Dish Network satellite. That had never happened before, so I went outside to see if the dish had fallen off the roof.

It was in place, but as I was going back indoors, I hear my neighbors shouting to other neighbors, “There’s a bear in your yard!”

I did not see a bear, but the bird bath was knocked over and I didn’t do it.

By the way, I stopped feeding the birds after the last bear visit two weeks ago. I will resume feeding them when the snow flies.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Surfin’: Missing the Netherlands Antilles

surfin510 This week, Surfin’ waxes nostalgically about Bonaire and the dissolved Netherlands Antilles.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Big Rock Candy Mountain

big_rock_candy_mountain Late Sunday afternoon, I joined my harmonic and her boyfriend on a hike through the woods around our premises. We went on a trek that they had done before, but some of it was new to me.

About 30 minutes into the hike, they showed me a huge outcropping of quartz. I have seen small outcroppings in our neck of the woods before, but nothing like this.

In addition to the mountain of quartz, there were shards of loose quartz in a variety of sizes scattered throughout the area. Some of the pieces were sharp (I have a small puncture wound on my hand to prove it). Some of it looked like rock candy. I had never seen anything like it before.

The photo shows me on the side of “big rock candy mountain” taking it all in.

Monday, October 11, 2010


IMG_0718_cropped A bear visited the premises two days in a row last week.

Overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, the bear knocked over the compost bin and bird bath, ripped open the suet cage and ate its contents, and opened the bird feeder and ate its contents.

I was impressed by the bear’s strength. In the process of opening the bird feeder, the bear bent a loop of iron rod that holds up the feeder (see photo). The loop is now almost a straight line of rod that I cannot bend back into shape using my bare hands (pun intended). I will have to use a vise and some tools to reloop it.

Overnight Wednesday-Thursday, the bear showed up again and pushed the garbage can cart about ten feet down the driveway, removed the lid on one of the cans, but did not disturb the bag of garbage in the can.

Go figure. Maybe something scared it off before it could get into the garbage.

There was no visual sighting of the bear in either case. The accompanying photo is from a bear visit in early August.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Surfin’: Still Finding Where the Hams Are

surfin508 This week, Surfin’ checks out more online applications that reveal where the hams are in your neck of the woods.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Surfin’: Finding Where the Hams Are

surfin507 This week, Surfin’ checks out a cool Google Maps application that reveals where the hams are in your burg.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Big Day at the Big E

I went to the Big E on Monday with my wife and sister.

Sunny with temperatures in the mid-60s, the weather was perfect for spending the day trekking around the fair grounds.

Our normal Big E routine is to visit the Better Living Center, the six New England state buildings, and anything of interest in-between.

Food wise, I wanted to try the clam fritters aka clam cakes that I saw in the Rhode Island building last year, so when my wife and sister got foot-longs at the Frankie's booth at the Connecticut building, all I had was a few bites of the dogs that the ladies were willing to share with me while I banked my calories in anticipation of the clams.

In the Vermont building, I had dessert (before my main course), a delicious slice of apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream. I shared it with the ladies, but I could have eaten the whole thing myself!

Rhode Island was the last building in the New England states lineup and I bought a bag of clam fritters for $6.50.

What a disappointment. Five days later and I am still looking for the clams! My wife joked that I bought a bag of fried dough balls instead of clam fritters. It was an expensive joke, but we laughed about it the rest of the day.

The highlight of the day was the free Mark Lindsay concert (photo above). We found seats in the second row just as the concert began and we had a blast for 45 minutes.

Lindsay performed most of the big hits he sang as lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders and he also sang his solo hits.

There was a lot of energy in the performance and in the audience. It reminded me of when we attended a Paul Revere and the Raiders concert in the 1960s at the old Oakdale theater-in-the-round in Wallingford, CT.

On the way out, I perused a souvenir stand and was surprised to see a set of new Big E postcards for sale. I collect postcards and have a stash of Big E's in my collection, but there has been nothing new Big E postcard-wise in decades. Scoring the new set for my collection was a nice way to end a great day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Surfin’: Time for Ham Radio

surfin505 This week, Surfin’ considers how time has changed over time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Surfin’: Developing New Digital Voice Software

surfin504 This week, Surfin’ looks at the results of one year of codesmithing on the digital voice front.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Surfin’: Hamming on the Cutting Edge

surfin502 This week, Surfin’ visits the plans for the upcoming Digital Communications Conference (DCC).

Monday, August 23, 2010

5.72 inches

Since the early morning hours of Sunday until now, the WA1LOU weather station has recorded 5.72 inches of rain!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Surfin’: The 500 Club

surfin500 This week, Surfin’ considers the previous 499 installments of Surfin’.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Google-Verizon plan: Why you should worry

Dan Gillmore blogs that “Ominous references to the ‘public Internet’ inescapably suggest something else entirely.”

Read the rest of the story here to find out why you should worry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hamming by Pinging

surfin499 This week, Surfin’ suggests scattering signals during the Perseids meteor shower.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Bear Sits In My Yard

number_49 In the early spring, evidence (a mangled suet holder and a pulled-down bird feeder) indicated that a bear had dined in my yard.

As I was getting ready to take a shower yesterday morning, Pumpkin Pie started barking while peering out the bedroom window that overlooks the bird feeder. I went to the window to see what was the matter and sitting on the ground in between my antenna tower and the bird feeder was a black bear.

He had already mangled and eaten the contents of the suet feeder, but the bird feeder is of the heavy metal variety, so he could not mangle it and had to snatch sunflower seeds out of the feeder with his tongue.

The bear had tags on his ears that indicated he was Number 49, who has been seen all over town this spring and summer. The local newspaper had an article about him just last week, which claimed he weighed about 200 pounds (he looked bigger than that to me).

He did not seem at all bothered by me or my family watching him for over 20 minutes. I stood about six feet away from him shooting photos and videos through the family room window and he could care less.

After he finished off all the sunflower seeds, he drank water out of the bird bath and ambled off into the woods heading in a northeasterly direction.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Surfin’: A Town Without Pitney

surfin498 This week, Surfin’ scours the Internet for yet another musical ham.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Astronomy is one of my interests. I own a telescope and subscribe to Sky & Telescope.

The August issue of Sky & Telescope arrived and I was reading it last night. During my read, I came across references to the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. I never heard of it and since I own a Subaru, I wondered if the folks that built my car had anything to do with the telescope. Did they help fund it or what? Subaru_logo


According to Wikipedia, "Subaru Telescope (In Japanese: すばる望遠鏡) is the 8.2 metre flagship telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, located at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii. It is named after the open star cluster known in English as the Pleiades."

Well, that cleared up the matter.

By the way, I already knew that Subaru was Japanese for the Pleiades, which was the inspiration for the cool Subaru logo. But I wondered why there were only six stars in the logo, whereas the Pleiades was famous for its "Seven Sisters" stars.

Wikipedia solved that mystery, too. The six stars in the logo allude to the six companies that merged to create Fuji Heavy Industries, the transportation conglomerate whose automobile division is Subaru.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Musical Hams

chet_atkins Don Peterson, VE5DP, e-mailed me about two other ham singers: Ronnie Milsap, WB4KCG, and the late Chet Atkins, WA4CZD.

Also, I checked the Famous Hams and ex-Hams Web site of N2GJ and W2SG and found another well-known ham singer: Lance Bass, KG4UYY.

Monday, July 19, 2010

QSLs On Cloth

t-shirt Our local weatherman, Geoff Fox, K1GF, has what I call “a collection of QSLs on cloth.” You can see it here for yourself.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tomato Blues

For the past ten years or so, I have planted tomatoes in Earthbox containers. Most years, this has been a successful endeavor. Early in the growing season, I may lose a plant or two right after I plant the seedlings, but once we get through that, the plants grow six to eight feet tall and provide plenty of fruit.

Last year, the tomato blight struck hard. I probably picked a dozen edible tomatoes all summer. The rest were lost to the blight.

This year, things started off with a bang. I planted ten seedlings and they all took. There was no stopping their growth and it looked like it was going to be a great year for tomatoes.

One morning about three weeks ago, I noticed that all the leaves from top to bottom on one of the plants were curled up as if the plant was not getting any water. I water the plants every evening, so I knew that was not the problem. I inspected the plant for insects that may be causing the problem, but I found nothing.

I over watered that plant hoping to resuscitate it, but that did not help and the plant died.

A few days later, the exact thing happened to another plant, which was not next to the affected plant. I soon lost that plant, too.

This problem repeated itself over and over again during the last three weeks and this evening, I noticed my sixth plant suffering from the same fate. (That's plant Number 6 in the accompanying photo.) Six out of ten dead and I will not surprised if I lose them all.

I asked other gardeners including a tomato "expert" and they all shrugged their shoulders. I also researched the matter online, but except for lack of water as a cause, I did not find an answer.

I am clueless, not o mention bummed out.

If anyone has any ideas about what may be causing the problem, I sure would like to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Got Turkeys

turkey_family Over the long Independence Day weekend, I noticed a family of turkeys feasting in our front yard. A Momma turkey, a Poppa turkey, and about ten kids (it is hard get an accurate count of the kids because they are constantly in motion).

After they finished eating, they went into the woods across the road. The woods are New Britain (CT) reservoir property and that property goes on for miles and eventually abuts Southington (CT) reservoir property that goes on for a few miles more. Needless to say, we have seen a lot of interesting wildlife enter and exit those woods.

I have seen the turkey family feasting on my front yard two more times (yesterday morning was the last time). They have likely returned to the front yard more than that, but not when anyone was watching, so who knows.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ham Radio on Highway Patrol

highway_patrol “Radioactive,” the ham radio episode of Highway Patrol is now available for viewing on Hulu. (Thank you Mark Thompson, WB9QZB, for the heads-up.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Surfin’: What’s on the Horizon?

This week, Surfin’ discovers what is really on the horizon.

(Thank you, Mike Masterson, WN2A, for the heads-up about the Web site featured in this week's Surfin'.)

Surfin': A No-Show

I assume that technical difficulties prevented the posting of Surfin' today. So please standby while we address the problem.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Helicopter Guys

helicopter_in_field Steve Robeson, K4YZ, emailed me regarding the last installment of Surfin’ … specifically asking about the Polly’s Pancake Parlor customers who arrived and departed by helicopter.

Steve wrote, “You kinda left the story hangin' about the helicopter and the restaurant...Who were they?  They made an off-field landing just for breakfast?”

We asked the waitress about the helicopter guys and she said they were regular customers and not celebrities. And, yes, they flew in just to have breakfast.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coconut Corn Meal Pancakes

In this week's Surfin', I mentioned that I like coconut corn meal pancakes.

Ken Rudder, WA4JJW, wrote asking for the recipe, so here it is:

Coconut Corn Meal Pancakes


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/2-1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup grated coconut


1. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Whisk the egg with the milk and water in another bowl.
3. Pour the egg mixture in with the dry and stir until blended.
4. Add the melted butter and coconut extract.
5. Stir in the grated coconut.
6. Cook on a hot griddle.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Polly's Presidential Perspective

I wrote about the view of the Presidential Range from Polly's Pancake Parlor in my last installment of Surfin'. Above is a photo of that view.

The peak on the left is Mount Adams, left center is Mount Jefferson, and the big guy on the right is Mount Washington, which is about 50 miles away.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Zombies at the Movies

My wife and I planned to watch a movie last night.

She wanted something amusing. Zombieland was the only comedy I had on DVD that we had not watched. So that is what I queued up on the DVD platter.

About five minutes into the film, I pushed the stop button. Although Zombieland is a comedy, there was more blood and gore in the first five minutes than I've seen in any film in a while.

I dislike blood and gore zombie films and my wife dislikes all blood and gore films, so we decided to watch a different Woody Harrelson film, The Messenger.

Woody received an Academy Award Best Actor nomination for his performance in this film. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed. The film was very good and Woody's work in the film was Oscar caliber.

On the other hand, my wife did not like the film because it was a "downer."

Getting back to zombie flicks. When I was a kid, I enjoyed them. They were dark and brooding and scared the living daylights out of me without resorting to the blood and gore so prevalent in the current zombie flick fare. I will watch Zombieland at another time, but the blood and gore will not be an attraction.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

musical hams

The rack that housed the majority of our CD collection bit the dust. So I moved all the CDs into five cardboard boxes for the time being and moved the rack into the garage to await trash collection day.

While I was boxing the CDs (in alphabetical order according to the name of the artist), I realized that I had tunes by two hams (or one ham and one former ham): Patty Loveless, formerly KD4WUJ, and Joe Walsh, WB6ACU.

Makes me wonder how many other hams performed on the 500 CDs in the collection.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Surfin’: Mappin’ Your Hammin’

surfin493 This week, Surfin’ reveals the mother lode of online map sources.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Surfin’: Not How to Contest

surfin492 This week, Surfin’ rediscovers the fun -- and frustration -- of ham radio contesting.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Surfin’: Got Batteries?

This week, Surfin’ solves the mystery surrounding our little friend -- the battery.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Surfin’: Online HF Propagation Application

This week, Surfin’ kicks the tires on a cool new online HF propagation tool.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Surfin’: Hammin’ at the Hamvention®

This week, Surfin’ recalls the hits and misses at the 2010 Dayton Hamvention.