DXCC and “Self Imposed Planned Obsolescence”

I’ve heard about – and even read about some hams that leave the hobby once they earn whatever goal they had originally set out on. I can understand this if you are at some point in your life where you really just don’t have time for the hobby – especially when you start a career or a family – or make a big career change, go back to school or move to another state or country – but otherwise, for me, ham radio is my “TV”. If I didn’t have a full on station – I’d have an SDRPlay Duo or something like that – with even just a long wire thrown out to a tree. Heck, maybe I’d play on some remotes, but I do like having the gear near me and building stations and antenna farms – just trying new gear is a lot of fun.

I cut the TV cable 10 years ago and don’t miss it one bit. The worst day listening to people chat on ham radio – or listening to a pileup is better than the best day sitting in front of a TV.

I do understand the feeling that some may have – there is a really big disappointment when you finally reach your goal – because the journey is more of an award than the award. I found a real sadness hit me after earning Honor Roll and after VK0EK won DXpedition of the Year. It did feel like there was nothing left to do. In fact, you can even get this weird, hard to explain feeling of “disgust” or “contempt”. You might ask yourself “So, what’s the big deal, anyway”. You can get very cynical.

Step away – take a break – the hobby will welcome you back no matter what. Burn out comes in many forms, and yes, too much of a good thing can lead to burn out.

But in time that fades, and you realize that there is so much new that you can try in this hobby. That has happened to me – and I’m really glad I didn’t panic and just quit – instead, like Madonna, I “reinvented myself”. My “role” in this hobby changed and entered a new phase after making Honor Roll, and then again right after VK0EK – but its a new path, and one I really don’t expect to end.

Speaking of that – I’m putting up my KH1 “Field Day” style antenna this weekend, and then after that – I really, really need to get back into some Maker – Ham fun. I’ll have a new guy helping me at work – and so I can probably not be working on weekends (which has been mostly reading up on new technology and learning stuff like React.js).

Time to play with wires again!

The KY6R Top Band “KH1 Special”

Within a week, the West Coast, and all of OC-Asia and South America will get the rare treat of a Top 10 Rare Mega DX-pedition during the summer. While the timing isn’t great for all places and while we are pretty much in the few years at the bottom of the cycle, it is very possible for the West Coast to work KH1/KH7Z on 160 and 6M.

I’ll be on CW on both bands, and will have a “Field Day Style” Cushcraft MA-160V next to my 80M 60′ vertical. I’ll completely unhook the 80M vertical and have the MA160V close to it. I can use the 80M feed and my 96 buried radials – and since I worked VK0EK with this same antenna, I expect this one to be much easier. I still have the two Wellbrook ALA1530LNP loops phased through the DX Engineering NCC-2.

The UrbanBeam works very well on 6M, and while only up 34-ish feet – its up plenty for that band. All in all – this will be my version of “Field Day” – 2 band slots for a team that will be happy to get me in the log on the last two bands I need Baker on. They will also appreciate my donation – and yours too!


Its rare that I get this excited about a book for work – and specifically about every aspect of data management known to man. Most put me to sleep quickly – but also act as something to do while sitting on BART so much.

Not this book – by the Data Management Association International  non-profit group, and its Data Management Book of Knowledge – 600 pages that very clearly and cleanly list all of the most important points on topics such as Data Modeling, Meta Data, Data Governance, Data Quality, etc. I literally couldn’t put it down before dinner – where the grill called me by name so I could help make dinner.

It helps that I am just a few weeks away from celebrating the release of the first corporate data product that I started designing over a year ago – at the best company I have ever worked for – Credit Karma. Its a blessing that this far into my career I have this opportunity and that I love my work even more than at any time in my 37 year career.

As I’ve said before – this product and project that I’m working on is as cool as an antenna or Maker project – it has all of that certain “something”, and I’m learning a ton.

Old dogs can learn new tricks!


Ol’ Sol

This past Monday, and through this weekend, the Northern Hemisphere is having its longest days of 2018. I like to use this web site and click on the “day length” feature to get a monthly calendar:


So, as you can see, the Summer Solstice really started last Monday and goes for a week. But later today, UTC wise, it will be the “official” Summer Solstice. Here is an interesting statistic – by the end of July, we will have lost 39 minutes of daylight from the solstice. Because of how crazy busy I have been at work, time lately has seemed to go so fast it seems like I wake up one minute, then I’m going to bed the next. Luckily, I’m literally working on the best project – and its a product I designed and have done most of the coding (so far) in my entire 37 year career. This is a “golden time” for sure.

Last Fall, we spent a week in Montana, and I had a very good time. I especially liked Bozeman and its natural history museum – the Museum of the Rockies. We attended a really great little planetarium show and Kat called out this book in their bookstore, which by far, was my favorite read of 2017.

I usually “worship” the Fall. I love how the ham bands come to life again – especially the Low Bands, and love the change in the weather. But this year, the fog has seemed extra cool – bordering on cold. However – we haven’t been socked in that much – but as a natural air conditioner – riding my bike to and from work has been perfectly comfortable. No humidity, crisp air but sunny. Struggling to hang around 70 degrees – which is just perfect. Short sleeves, sunshine and fall like “crispness” in the air.

Guess I haven’t worried that it’s the beginning of the bottom of the cycle since I’m not chasing anything any more. It will be fun to chase Baker on 160M for one possibly exciting QSO this summer.

I have already heard some people talk about this coming Fall Contest Season on the air – so I’m not alone in my love of Fall. But last Fall – when we were in Montana, and when we got home – there were so many wildfires that it made Fall downright scary. We had the exact same weather that the Wine Country had – and even Solano County – just north of us had. We lucked out big time – there was that one week that wiped out so many homes in Napa and Sonoma, I sure hope we don’t get that again, but it is a part of Fall here.

For now, I’ve enjoyed a beautiful Spring, and know shortly we will get some hotter weather. But living and working so close to the Golden Gate and its weather pattern is one of the very best things about living in this crazy SF Bay Area.

3Y0I: Will it Happen?

Magic 8 – Ball says YES!

Beer of the Week – Port Brewing Hop-15

Since I started my new workout “regime” in February – where I started lifting weights (I’ve been riding my bike to work for a year now since I sold my car a year ago), I had dropped alcohol from my diet. I have cut back on carbs dramatically, my portion sizes are what they should be, and I eat mostly fruits and vegetables – and a little protein. I’ve lost 10 pounds and recently greatly increased my exercise level – so I will enjoy one bomber of beer a week (as long as I can continue to lose weight that is).

This week’s beer is Port Brewing’s Hop-15. It is one of the best Double IPA’s – and I can tell that they have not changed the recipe since they started brewing it probably 10 years ago. It is only brewed in April and September – so it is a limited release beer. Kat and I visited their brewery in San Marcos a few years back when we were visiting San Diego, and the brewery is in a small business park, and its well worth a visit.

My all time favorite beer had been Knee Deep Simtra, but since cutting way back on alcohol, I’ve found that I’m more sensitive to the ABV level – and am looking for beers that have the best balance of taste and aren’t too boozy.

Hop-15 pushes the ABV as high as I’d want to go (10%) – but it is an amazingly balanced beer. It has 15 different hop varieties and has a super cross between Pine and Grapefruit – which is the classic West Coast DIPA taste. I tried one of the new-fangled “hazy” IPA’s last weekend – and did not like it that much. It was OK, but this Hop-15 reminds me of what an absolute top of the hop beer can be.

Hop-15 is easily in my “Top 10” and most likely in my “Top 3” beers of all time.

Baker and Ducie DXpeditions

(click on either to get detail . . .)

I only need Baker and Ducie on 160M and 6M (far left is 160M and far right is 6M). Because I already have 9BDXCC and Honor Roll – and am 2 away from Top of Honor Roll, I was going to completely sit these two DXpeditions out – until I realized that I am in the zone of those that can work these easily – as “chip shots” – on Top Band – and maybe even on 6M.

I have antennas for both – and while I’ll need to pull out a 160M solution out of the junk box – I have 6M in the UrbanBeam.

I have donated to Ducie (there are quite a few VK0EK ops on this DXpedition – so I’m supporting my buddies), but I realize its time to pony up and support the Baker DXpedition too.

And work both on 160M – and if I’m really lucky – 6M.