An October Surprise?

I grew up in Sussex County, NJ, which is the northern most county in NJ and has many small towns and country roads that look more like New England than what you might expect in NJ.

By this time last year, the trees had already started turning color, and I have confirmed that its was because of the drought. The dry forces the chlorophyll to change colors earlier than normal. After a drenching Winter, things are different this year. Autumn is still my favorite time of the year, and I never get tired of it.

Its hard to imagine that the Appalachian Trail passes almost through the town I grew up in. Yes, there are hillbillies in NJ!

I am sure that I love the old San Francisco buildings like the Phelan Building that I work in and I also feel lucky that Lamorinda has quite a bit of color in the Fall. We love cycling from Orinda to Danville in the Fall – its not as colorful as Sussex County was, but for the Bay Area, its a little oasis with enough color and a great fall feeling.

The Delaware Water Gap – near Columbia, NJ and East Stroudsburg, PA

The fall colors in NJ come and go fast – they might last a month or 6 weeks, then it gets really grey and Wintery. I prefer the SF Bay Area weather by far, we will have Fall colors from September all the way into December, so while its not overwhelming as Sussex County is – you can always ride your bike and pass enough trees in glorious fall colors, and with the superb weather, I’ll take Lamorinda. We also usually go up to Bend Oregon in the Fall, and that town heightens the Fall Effect for me.

Autumn and the longer nights turn my attention to Top Band, and I am ready to roll with the “Mod Bob”. There is a web site and QRZ.COM listing for 3Y0I, so lets see what happens there – maybe we will see a surprise? I’m sure 3Y0Z will do well – and we are getting closer than we all think to working Bouvet Island, which will be the first ATNO since VK0EK for me. It sure gets “lonely at the top” DXCC wise – hi hi, but thankfully, the Maker World has kept my shack from becoming cob web infested as it did during the bottom of Cycle 23.

 

A Turning of the Season

The days are getting shorter and we have had some downright chilly evenings, at least for August. I’m loving it. Nature always seems to inspire, especially this time of year in the northern hemisphere.

The Chinese Pistachio’s and Cottonwood’s are showing a little color change, and riding my bike home last night – by the time I got home at 8 PM, it seemed that that was the latest I would ride home without a night light. We will have lost a solid 1 hour 45 minutes of daylight by the end of this month.

It sure would be nice to have some new stations activate 160M, Top Band gave me 5 new one’s last summer, this summer only 1. DX-ing in general has been like watching the grass grow since VK0EK goes new one’s wise, but 40M has offered some great general purpose DX-ing with EU and ZS and AS/OC-Pac. It seems every day I get just a little more away from DXCC as it continues to feel like “been there, done that”.

 

Art and Wires

I’m going to take this old assemblage piece and put dual cameras in side – looking out through the eyes. Then I will take two Nema-17 Stepper Motors and a proximity detector and have the head tilt and pan in an effort to follow someone as they walk by.

I’ll need to add a realistic plastic rat inquisitively checking Old Sal out …

I will also add something that makes a shrieking sound or a growl that grows in octave when someone gets near – like a dog growls and then howls. Maybe put a red led in the nose so you know he’s “locked onto you” . . .

Karma and the Will of Good People

Unfortunately, I have experienced three people in my life who attempted to make my life hell, and in the first two cases they were people in my direct “sphere of influence”. These people tried to hinder my progress in life. The third is a politician who hands down is the most detrimental person I have ever experienced in American society. Here are the traits of these three:

  • Pathological Narcissists who are always right and constantly bully others – they are blowhard pontificates who just never stop. They are exhausting and depressing
  • You can NEVER “talk sense” into them. They don’t listen, don’t care and have zero humility. They always rebound like a bad hemorrhoid
  • They have very thin skin, turn from bully to victim, and in the end do something that crashes their weak house of cards down – they always implode – because they are their own worst enemies
  • Eventually they get their “comeuppance”, and I have learned how to deal with them

How to deal with a Pathological Narcissist (who is really a “persistent and relentless” bully):

  • Ignore them. It will be one of the hardest things to do in your life. They are “professional trolls”. They WANT to suck you in – and you will never win by responding
  • Double (triple) down doing whatever positive things you are doing (that pisses them off and that which gives them great pain). The truth is – they are in far more pain than you are
  • Bide your time thinking about that cartoon above. In every case, a “miracle” happened where the bully who came after me just stopped because I outlasted them, but more importantly, I succeeded doing exactly what they tried to prevent me from doing. Once I achieved what they seemed to want to keep me from achieving – they gave up and went away

This is very hard work. In one instance I had to deal with this crap for 7 years. In the other about 3 or 4 years, so yeah, sometimes it lasts far longer than you’d wish or ever expect. There are two Buddhist expressions that I love – “Do nothing extra” and “The hardest thing to do is nothing”.

I had to edit this posting because just days after writing it, the US has witnessed a few sweeping changes politically that are truly miraculous and which – as I had experienced twice before in my life – are best depicted by that fellow above in the cartoon. Bullies ALWAYS do this – not on your timeline or mine (but you can count on this nevertheless), and for this, I am sure that Karma is Real!

Love, in the end, will conquer Hate.

 

Measuring The u.RAT With an Oscilloscope

This is a nice little tutorial on how to use a signal generator and oscilloscope to measure the resonance of a tank circuit. Here is the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_RCyDdt2rM

He doesn’t show a frequency counter, but my Rig Experts AA-30 will act as a frequency counter. Here is a great video on what I might try with the u.RAT:

 

 

Siglent SDG800 Function Generator

I’ve been researching test gear, and it is actually more for my education than anything.

For pure digital circuits, the Salaea Logic Analyzer is a good choice, and while I understand it can handle some analog signals, this is where a function generator and oscilloscope comes in.

At Circuitlab.com, I can draw a schematic diagram and simulate what it would look like in an oscilloscope:

Then I can build the circuit on a breadboard and measure it with my test gear. 

Between this simulation and the real test gear, plus my favorite new electronics book:

I will be learning so much and haven’t been this excited about the ham radio hobby pretty much ever. I always wanted to really understand electronics – and in a very hands on “visual” way. Today’s technology is where I have wanted it to be for a long time. We live in an amazingly great time, technically speaking, wish I could say that politically . . .  alas ….

So, with this gear, plus my Fluke DMM and Rig Expert AA-30, I set to test, explore, and learn about electronics in a way I couldn’t before.

First u.RAT Presentation at EBARC and Making vs. Collecting

Saleae Logic Analyzer- with an Arduino sketch that loops and continually sends the word “Hello”

My good friend Mike, KJ4Z and I had a nice chat about DX-ing vs. Making in the Ham Radio hobby. Mike made a comment that is so true – he said DX-ing is all about “collecting” and that over time there is less and less to collect and it gets harder to collect – meaning there is a certain “planned obsolescence” baked into that pursuit. Collecting is a very solitary pursuit – you really only care about your own collection. On the other hand, Making offers building and learning and as you go, and it gets easier as you go. I would add that because technology changes, the opportunity to grow is limitless. As long as you have some imagination, making never gets stale or obsolete.

Mike has been doing the (modern) Maker thing longer than I have, although, back in the 90’s I did build several QRP transceivers as a way to try to get back into the hobby after being completely out of it since 1977. So “Making” is not new to me, but the world has changed since the days of stuffing PC boards with discrete components. Even after I stopped making QRP rigs, I did continue to design and build antennas and matching circuits.

From 2001 until 2013, I worked toward DXCC Honor Roll, and was pretty much a 100% dedicated DX-er. I was a full time collector and collected ATNO’s while being holed up by myself in my shack. .

I also made 8BDXCC, and soon will have 9BDXCC with 160M DXCC. The problem – its been so drop dead boring since Honor Roll, and yeah – I agree with Mike – the planned obsolescence really can get to you if all you do is wait around. I totally disagree with those who think adding new entities to keep the participants happy is the way to go. I find that as pathetic as someone who laments that things were so much better in the past – and so they anachronistically live for days that are long gone. They can have that.

Saleae logic analyzer sampling data being sent by the Arduino

The Maker world is one where people share and work together – like a friendly world wide net where people say hello and share ideas. If you are so inclined, there are Maker Faires, Maker Spaces and Meetups where you can get together and share.

One thing I found with the DX Community is that there can be really weird and negative behavior – both amongst “armchair DX-ers” and DX-peditioners. There is a lot of anti-social behavior in the DX Community, and I’ve grown tired of it. At the same time, I have come to meet and greet Makers who are always upbeat and sharing. What a difference!

Last night I gave my first u.RAT Presentation at EBARC, and the presentation is posted here:

http://www.ebarc.org/pdf/urat.pdf

The place was packed, and I had been warned ahead of time that attendance lately at the Club Meetings had been very lite, so expect that it would just be a good “warm up” for Pacificon.

To my surprise, not only was the place packed, but the interest level was much higher than any of my DX or DX Antenna presentations. They had always gone over well, but I could tell by the questions at the end that the Maker aspect of ham radio will have a much larger crowd than DX-ing ever will. Pacificon is usually a big EMCOMM ordeal, but the Maker contingent there has grown in recent years. It has never had much of  DX presence – you have to go to Visalia for that, and honestly, DX Conventions start looking the same after just a few years. There’s announced DX-peditions, praise for successful DX-peditions, a raffle and sometimes a “Last Man Standing”. I have always found the DX Community to be quite “cliquish” and somewhat closed.

I will pursue both – I don’t think one boxes out the other, but my participation moving forward will be 95% Maker and 5% DX-er – its just because I am at the end of the “collecting” line.