Autumn in Orinda

Fall colors are only now just starting to show – its at least 1 month later than last year, which after 5 years of drought offered some spectacular colors. Its too early to tell – our peak is at Thanksgiving.

There is a scraggly Liquidamber on the side of our house that ends up having some of the most interesting multi colored leaves.

The best thing about riding my bike to and from BART each day is that I get to see some nice fall colors along the San Pablo creek. The creek also has a very cool “draw” – that you can feel as you ride alongside it. Last night we received almost 1/4″ of rain, which is a huge relief, because I live in an area that could have easily burned like the Napa and Sonoma areas did up in wine country – about 1 hour north of here. We also had strong and hot dry “diablo” winds, but I think the difference is that they had some gusts up to 75 mph and that knocked over power poles which triggered fires. The wind then carried burning embers all over the place. I’m hoping last nights rain really marks the beginning of our Fall and Winter rains – and as I understand it – the long range forecast is for average rainfall – which would be perfect. I’d rather not have the deluge we did last year, or the drought we had for so many years leading up to that. Average would be just right!

As I have done all year – I start writing a diatribe about politics and then delete those posts. I have never witnessed the decline of the USA as I have seen it since the current administration took over. Its very, very dark and dystopian. It literally is the junction of Brave New World, Animal Farm, A Clockwork Orange and 1984. I am hating ALL politicians – they are ALL less than useless. So many are already writing about this – I will again refrain except to say thank God for the comedians. I think my favorite piece so far is this one:

Usually Stephen Colbert gives me the last best hope for America these days, but this is an amazing masterpiece . . . And the ONLY other hope I have is this administrations incompetence. Our government is truly the worst reality show ever. We are getting close to the end of the year, and I’m starting to reflect on the year. The worst of times has been the politics and the natural disasters. Its just been so sad and bad. Tragic is an understatement.

But on the positive side, this year has been the absolute best year for me professionally. Credit Karma is the best place I have ever worked in my 36 year IT career. I’ll get into this more at the end of the year when the year digits change.

The Maker and Ham Maker / Hobby aspect of my life has been one of the best years. DX-ing has been a total bust, but my antenna farm and getting ready for the low bands has been superb – I just need more opportunities on Top Band, but I guess this is how it goes when you are 12 away from DXCC and 9BDXCC. It just takes a lot more time than even 80M DXCC – which previously took the most time. 3Y0Z is the big excitement – so there is something very big that I am looking forward to.

Selling my car and using my bike commute – and yoga has been fantastic. We have yoga right at work, and I started going twice a week, which between that and the cycling, I’m back on track exercise wise. The family is doing well, and my younger son started his last few years at UC Santa Cruz, so that makes me feel great.

Montana was great.

Gardening has been great this year too – so it truly has been the best of times and the worst of times. I’ll do a full on year in review later, but today I am looking forward to Pacificon and I have several people who are attending today’s Antenna Forum – and there is a LOT of interest in the Mod Bob. I’m psyched and report on how it goes.

Shout out to Tom – K8BKM – thanks for the Radiogram!





Pacificon 2017: Antenna Forum – Friday, October 20

I will be giving my “Lowband DXing Antennas” presentation this Friday at Pacificon’s Antenna Seminar at 3:30. I will cover an overview of quite a few antennas that I have used successfully on the low bands and then segue into the Mod Bob, Palstar BT1500A and u.RAT.

from the pacificon 2017 web site . . . 

Hope to see you there!

DX or Bust!

Its half way through October and I’m not too encouraged regarding 160M DX. I feel like I’m on my way to the DX Abyss . . .

I guess I need to dial my expectations back, and now I just hope I can work 2 ATNO’s on 160M to get to 90 by end of the year. It seems reasonable, even though the T88 and others I had hoped for would have been easier to work. Alas – such is life on Top Band . . .

A New Man

I mentioned a while back that I was starting a new regimen to lose weight which will take the weight off my knees.

I more than double my cycling mileage to 60 – 70 miles a week, and have switched to a mostly Paleo diet.

I lost 8 pounds then hit the plateau.

So, I’ll kick it up a notch and lose the beer and start yoga on Monday.

I’ve learned that once we get past a certain age, you have to work extra hard to try to stay near your weight and fitness level.

I pretty much knew I’d have to go this route, and I’m staying honest with my self and going to kick it up a big notch.

RI1ANO and 3Y0Z

RI1ANO has been tearing up 30M tonight – solid 599+ and working the entire US. 3Y0Z is 2000 miles farther and more SE, but since its a water path, I doubt that will be a big deal. We were both right in the grey line when I worked him, and it sure was a major pipeline.

SSN = ZERO, K = 4, A = 4 with some solar storm

South Shetland is almost 100% water path – I am only about 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, so I will bet the first hop hits salt water and that’s how it goes all the way along the path – crossing the terminator as well.

With 3Y0Z, the path will go over part of CE and LU, but it also will be mostly a water path. ZS8M was tricky, and VP8’s were easy, so with Bouvet being in between – but with 3Y0Z in the terminator the same time the West Coast is – I am getting pretty happy about the possibilities.

Top Band Halloween Altar

The KY6R Top Band Halloween Altar

Pumptallica seemed to be a good “starter” course, but I figure I might need something a bit more “substantial” for the repast, so I am bringing out an old Assemblage – one of my first and a series of fantasy radios using old radio parts that were headed for the trash heap.

I’m hearing W1AW very, very well, and so here’s to that EU and Scandinavian path dropping down several hundred miles to spotlight the SF Bay Area.

Takeoff Angle Path Analysis on 160M for EU and 40M for ZS and 3Y0Z

Last night, when I saw quite a few spots between Washington State, Montana and parts of Oregon – where they were working EU and Scandinavia on 160M. I am getting excited because maybe we will get some of that here at Chez KY6R . . .

I wanted to use Google Earth (Classic) and check to see which direction 10 degrees is – and what is in the way – and what take off angle(s) would help. The answer is that there is a hill that goes almost straight up and is 17.2 degrees up to the top of the hill from my QTH. The Mod Bob is oriented East and West, and it just so happens that on 160 and 80 the azimuthal pattern is omnidirectional!

On 40M, my array has an end fire direction that is toward EU, and I do just fine getting over that hill, so  think I will do it and soon. The plots from DXE on the 40M array say this:

So, that clears the hill – more than I had expected it would.

The Mod Bob was great for FP – but FP has a smaller hill with a more gradual climb of 21.8%:

Lets look at the Mod Bob plots:

For FP, it was great (non polar route), and its takeoff angle peaks at about 25 degrees – which means it clears the 21.8 degree hill top in that direction.

Lets look at the main broadside lobe (directional broadside on 40 and 30M) – east and west, and which is close enough to how my 40M phased verticals are oriented in the broadsided direction. 17 degrees – which means the Mod Bob clears everything it needs to to get to ZS or 3Y0B, and on any of the low bands! OK – how about the Long Path to ZS? So low (2 degrees) that it doesn’t matter at all, and hence why I did so well with VK0EK and FT5ZM and anything in that LP path to ZS. This is truly my best, non encumbered path.