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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Anybody have a Match?

(Updated Below) I have over 13,500 songs stored on my computer in iTunes. My 160-Gbyte iPod handles that load with room to spare, but my new 64-Gbyte iPhone 5 will not.

iTunes Match seemed to offer a solution. For $25 per year, I could store all my music in the iCloud and have it available to all my "devices."

I signed up for Match on Friday evening. It is late Monday afternoon as I write this and Match is still uploading my music to iCloud with only 488 songs to go!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Update: Match finally finished uploading my music at 7 PM Tuesday, four days after it started the upload.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tech Gifts

I received two tech gifts for Christmas: an iPhone 5 and a C.Crane Twin Coil Ferrite® AM Antenna Signal Booster. I am very pleased with both gifts and thank my family (you know who you are) for their generosity.

I am getting the hang of using the iPhone. I just downloaded this app to write and publish blog posts and this is my first post via my iPhone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 28, 2012

Surfin’: Looking for Cosmophone

This week, Surfin’ revisits RigReference, RigPix, and Flickr and finds more radio photos (but none of Cosmophone).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Surfin’: Ham Tooling Online

This week, Surfin’ explores the Internet world of online tools for Amateur Radio.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Surfin’: Ham Blogging

This week, Surfin’ urges readers to share their ham radio adventures by blogging.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Surfin’: Ham Radio Ballooning

This week, Surfin’ considers high-altitude ballooning with Amateur Radio payloads.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Surfin’: Eye Candy Radios

This week, Surfin’ looks at radios that are very pleasing to the eye.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Surfin’: Radio Ghosts Revisited

Ghosts and Halloween go together, but what about ghosts and radios? To find out, read this week’s installment of Surfin’.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Surfin’: An Extremely Long Delayed Echo

This week, Surfin’ discovers the truth about a radio urban legend that was too good to be true.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Speak



I see antennas


In addition to technical writing, I am the default staff photographer here at work. I have a DSLR to photograph the products I write manuals about, so if anyone needs a photo of something else, they call on me.

HR asked me to take some photos of the facility and the photo above is one in the batch I took today. I like it because it shows West Peak in Meriden, Connecticut, about six miles away.

West Peak is the site of many radio transmitters. It was also the location where Doolittle experimented with FM radio circa 1940.

The antenna Doolittle used still stands on West Peak. I believe it is barely visible in the blow-up of the photo (below) between the microwave tower and the three large towers.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Surfin’: Radio Tricks with Google Maps

This week, Surfin’ reveals a cool radio trick for measuring distance with Google Maps.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

What the Tower Beared

I worked on the log periodic antenna and got it back into shape physically, but due to the rainy weekend, I could not test it electronically until today. I tested it on 2 meters and the SWR was great across the whole band.

I was very surprised. I thought that that antenna was a goner, but now it is a keeper.

I also checked out the rotor today. It worked, but very noisily.

I lubricated it and that quieted it a lot. All it needs now is new clamps and hardware.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bare Tower

Yesterday, I cranked my 55-foot telescoping tower down and stripped everything off of it. I cannot recall the last time I did any maintenance on the tower, but there was some rust that made the job more difficult.

Since I was at it for about five hours, I did not have time to closely inspect the log periodic, but a quick estimate indicates that it may not be salvageable.

The 40-meter dipole is in the trash now.

I also have to replace one of the guy wires.

The coaxial cable is in good shape and the rotor still works, but needs new clamps as the old ones' names were "rust."

The weather is heavy rain today, so I may drag the log periodic into the garage for a closer inspection. 

Surfin': Google Earth Radio Tricks

This week, Surfin’ features guest columnist Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW, of September 7 Surfin' fame.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Surfin’: Logging Periodically

This week, Surfin’ can begin antenna maintenance now that the trees are out of the way.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

That Time of Year

orion Weekdays, I usually get up at 5:35 AM.

Friday, it was light out at 5:35 AM. Over the weekend, that changed and on Monday, it was still dark enough to see constellations (like Orion) through the bathroom skylight at 5:35 AM.

By the time I shaved, showered, dressed, and took Pumpkin Pie outside to fetch the newspaper 25 minutes later, the sky was lighter and the stars had all disappeared, but I could still see Jupiter directly overhead and Venus high in the eastern sky just north of the crescent Moon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Surfin’: Got E-s?

This week, Surfin’ literally takes a look at Sporadic E propagation on YouTube.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fixing My Realistic Astronaut 8

About 10 years ago, I obtained a Radio Shack Realistic Astronaut 8 circa 1972 multiband receiver at an auction for $1. It had minor cosmetic wear and tear, but functioned like new after I cleaned all the switches and pots.

It had been my working-in-the-garage radio ever since and sits on top of the refrigerator in the back of my workshop.

It is still a mystery to me how it happened, but one day this past spring, the radio fell off the top of the refrigerator and onto the concrete floor.

After the fall, the radio had two problems.

1.   Its handle came apart, but I was able to put it back together easily.

2.   The bottom of the red pointer that moves across the dial became dislodged. Instead of moving freely in its groove, the bottom of the pointer now dragged along the clear plastic window of the radio dial. As a result, whenever I changed frequency, the top of the pointer moved along as it should, while the rest of the pointer followed along at a 15-degree angle. In addition, the drag caused the dial mechanism to move slowly and roughly, so I figured that eventually the dial mechanisim would fail.

I sought out instructions on how to disassemble the radio, so I could get the pointer back in its groove.

I searched the Internet for instructions, but found none, so I decided to fly solo and take the radio apart without help. There were no screws at the front of the radio where the damage had been done, so I had to start at the back of the radio and work my way toward the front from the inside.

The back of the radio came off easily, but when I saw the guts of the radio, the prospect of disassembling it all and reassembling it correctly looked very daunting. I studied the problem for awhile, loosened a few screws to see what that would do, but concluded that this was a mission impossible.

I reassembled what I had disassembled and powered up the radio to make sure it still worked. It still worked and I resigned myself to living with the out-of-groove pointer until the dial mechanism gave up the ghost.

Then I thought if the force of hitting the floor caused the pointer to slip out of the groove, maybe I could use force to get it back in the groove (assuming there was no other damage to the dial mechanism that I did not detect).

So I gave the front of the radio a good whack with my open hand and lo and behold, the pointer jumped back in its groove and the dial mechanism now works as Radio Shack had intended.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Updated Pages

I fixed the "WA1LOU Pages" links in the left sidebar. I also updated the pages that those links jump to.


The summer 2012 pre-DCC issue of TAPR’s quarterly newsletter, PSR, is now available on the TAPR website. (Truth in advertising: yours truly is the editor of PSR.)

Table of Contents of the Summer 2012, #119 issue of TAPR PSR:

  • President’s Corner
  • DCC Schedule at a Glance
  • DCC Rooms at a Glance
  • Preliminary DCC Schedule
  • Banquet Speaker
  • Sunday Seminar
  • Experimenting with High-Speed Wireless Networking in the 420 MHz Band
  • TAPR, PSR and Other Initialisms
  • TAPR at Hamvention
  • VK5DGR to Receive ARRL Technical Innovation Award
  • Hardware News
  • Advances in SDR Usage
  • The Packet Node Project
  • TAPR Hamvention Gallery
  • Golden Packet – Maybe Next Year?
  • DIXPRS – New APRS IGate/Digi App
  • John Bennett, N4XI, RIP
  • TAPR on the Net
  • Vic Poor, W5SMM, RIP
  • Write Here!
  • The Fine Print
  • Our Membership App

Friday, August 31, 2012

Surfin’: Got Tropo?

This week, your Surfin’ contributing editor has deja vu when his car radio begins acting funny again.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tropo Propagation This Morning

Like four weeks ago, I noticed a tropo opening on my car's FM broadcast radio while running Saturday morning errands. However, I was able to do something about it this time.

I logged four new stations using my CCRadio-SW and its whip antenna.

The best of the quartet was WOMR on 92.1 MHz, 147 miles away in Provincetown, MA and WBUR on 90.9 MHz., 100 miles away in Boston.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012


We have a hummingbird feeder here that gets very busy this time of year. I took the Canon DLSR out this morning and took some shots of our humming visitors. Some of the best of the batch are below (click on an image to enlarge it).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Surfin’: Falling Meteors and Acorns

The sky is falling, but that could be a good thing or a bad thing, according to this week’s installment of Surfin’.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Surfin’: Going Tropo

This week, your Surfin’ conductor considers the reasons why his car radio is acting funny.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tropo Opening Yesterday?

Anyone notice unusual propagation Saturday morning? I was taking my wife grocery shopping at about 10 AM EDST and tuned the FM radio to 102.10 to listen to WAQY in Springfield, MA, which is literally line of sight less than 35 miles from my location.

Instead of hearing WAQY's loud signal, I could hear two or three other stations competing with WAQY on 102.1. Since I was driving my car and on a mission with my wife, there was no opportunity to DX.

My guess it was a tropo opening. Anyone else hear anything DX-interesting?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Surfin’: How About DXCC Entities?

This week, Surfin’ considers another replacement for HyperTerminal and a new blog that digs up the low-down on DXCC entities.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Surfin’: How’s DXCC?

This week, Surfin’ searches the Internet for the history of the DX Century Club.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Surfin’: Getting Weather Better

This week, Surfin’ finds out which way the wind blows -- and which way the propagation flows -- at the revamped National Weather Service website.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton
North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean
New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton

Friday, June 29, 2012

Surfin’: Going to the Source

This week, Surfin’ visits a website that is the host for thousands of free software applications.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Surfin’: Tricks Are for Hams

This week, Surfin’ demonstrates how ham radio can be a tricky, but well worth it.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nerdy People Trick

I own a TomTom XXL 550 GPS and have a subscription for quarterly map updates. I bought the GPS from Woot for $60 --- the map subscription costs more than the hardware.

Anyway, I get an e-mail a few days ago informing me that a new update was ready for me to download. So I connect my GPS to the Mac and run the update software, which downloads the update via the Internet and installs it in my GPS.

At DSL speeds, this is a few hour process, so while the download was in progress, I noticed that the GPS had an icon on my desktop as if it was another disk drive. So I decided to poke around and see what was stored in the GPS.

I found a folder called "Art" and in that folder was a subfolder called "Cars." I opened that folder and saw that it contained bitmapped images of the various vehicles you can choose to represent yours on the GPS. My choice was a green SUV that kind of resembles my green 2007 Subaru Outback Sport.

The nerd LED lit up over my head and I wondered if I could take a photo of my Subaru, Photoshop it so that it matches the size and format of the other images in the Cars subfolder. I took a few photos, played around with the images in Photoshop for about a half hour, and added a new image into the Cars subfolder.

After the map update was downloaded and installed, I checked to see if I could select my Subaru image from the TomTom options. My image was one of the options, so I selected it and tested it by and sure enough, my Subaru is now represented exactly by the GPS.

I can almost read the call sign on my car's license plate, but not quite!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Like Watching Paint Dry

I was planning to watch Venus transit the Sun this evening. After dinner, I took my telescope outside, but the western sky was overcast and it did not look like it would clear up before it got dark.

So I went inside and checked the NASA Television channel on the old Sony and there was the Sun with a small dot at about the 1 o'clock position. Two hours later, it is at about the 3 o'clock position.

It is like watching paint dry, but I find it more interesting than most of the other fare on the hundreds of channels the DishNetwork offers.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Surfin’: Analog Ham

This week, Surfin’ dusts off the Victrola to spin some platters (or queues up the MP3 player to play some tunes).


Friday, May 25, 2012

Surfin’: A Hamvention Diary

This week, Surfin’s contributing editor recounts last week’s excellent adventure at the Dayton Hamvention.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Surfin’: Weekending at 39.8211°N, 84.2561°W

This week, Surfin’ reviews what you need for traveling well to the Dayton Hamvention®.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


The spring 2012 pre-Hamvention issue of TAPR’s quarterly newsletter, PSR, is now available on the TAPR website. (Truth in advertising: yours truly is the editor of PSR.)

Table of Contents of the spring 2012, #118 issue of TAPR PSR
  • President’s Corner
  • WA2DFI at Four Days in May
  • Short Bits
  • TAPR at Hamvention
  • DCC Update
  • TADD-2 Mini Is Now Available
  • Hermes Is On His Way
  • Getting Started: Doodle Labs Data Radio
  • UDPSDR-HF2 SDRstick
  • Deploying a KPC-3P as a "BBS-in-a-Box"
  • Twitter & Facebook
  • Write Here!
  • PSR Advertising Rates
  • Get On-the-Air with SDR
  • W7SLB SK
  • Open Hardware Summit 2012
  • Write Here!
  • The Fine Print
  • Our Membership App

Friday, May 4, 2012

Surfin’: Open Source Ducks

This week, Surfin’ rediscovers the wonders of open source software.