Quiet Contemplation

Autumn is a great time to sit back and, like the harvest, reflect on the growing season and contemplate what harvest time means in my life.

Where have I been? Where am I headed?

You can’t change where you’ve been, but I like to ask “What if” questions about the future.

Some are very short term, and some long term. They all involve cost benefit analysis, and I don’t mean cost money wise, but time wise.

I have found that “Less is More” is almost always the best approach.

Short Term Goal Example

In ham radio, since I want to work 3Y0Z and conditions most likely won’t be great on the high bands, I need to make sure I have the best antennas up for the Low Bands. I need to decide if the DV-40-P stays up or if the Mod Bob is better with it’s better EZNec broadsided pattern. But what about on air, and while listening to a CE or LU station or best yet, VP8 or ZS? 

Maybe I need to try FT8 soon too as it could be a life saver Bouvet wise.

Testing this weekend will answer all ham questions.

Six Months Ahead

I just completed a fantastic 6 months at work, and in all aspects of my life. What about the next 6 months? At work I will start delivering web apps written in React.js, Redux and Material UI. I also will be writing Python and doing database design.

The answer there is known, which is to build on the very strong foundation that I started with the Data Dictionary at Credit Karma. 

The only big change is to be very mindful about losing weight and to take time and care to continue what I’ve started this week. I also need to go back to yoga – I have neglected some important things health wise – due to giving 1000% towards the Data Dictionary.

Hobby wise, I’m lucky, I have time and can just “play”. I will start playing more with my oscilloscope and signal generator, but just for fun.

There will be Pacificon, but not much in the way of scheduled stuff.

There, I think I’ve just charted my course for the next 6 months!

Longer Term

This one is open ended. Where and when will I retire. It will be Oregon, but the when is totally open and none too soon.

The Carrington Event and 3Y0Z?

One hundred years and six months before I was born, The Carrington Event occurred, which was an amazing set of solar explosions that set fire to telegraph apparatus and gave operators serious shocks. The author starts out with a series of solar

explosions that occurred in 2003, not long after I started DXing, and one that happened right during the 3C0V DXpedition.

He then segues back in time to what is the beginning of modern day solar weather monitoring.

A few weeks ago, we experienced exactly what the author describes that happened in 2003, and I bet what we experienced is just the first of several more like it.

In fact, we might even look at the 4th quarter of 2003 and see that as a predictor for conditions leading up to 3Y0Z.

Anyway, the book listed above reads like a detective novel, and I can’t put it down.

If you love space weather as I do, you’ll love this book.

Gamma Rays and Top Band?

I recently went to a planetarium, the first time in decades, and was so excited to hear the the ESA (European Space Association) is launching a deep space telescope (Athena) in 2028 to study gamma rays and other phenomena in deep space.

On a few occasions, space weather experts have tried to explain Top Band propagation, and there is not much that we know and there are no prediction tools either.

There is little “magic” left on the higher bands for me, I understand propagation on all bands above 80M, and while 80M is probably an interesting band, the idea that I’ve communicated more than 11,000 miles on Top Band is da bomb, and has led me to reading about space weather and other factors that might be in play.

At the planetarium, the show discussed several forms of electro magnetic radiation that we still need to collect data on, and that with the launch of Athena, they might learn some things that to date are virtually unknown.

I recently read an article about 160M where the author does believe that something other than “normal” ionospheric propagation doesn’t cover or apply to 160M, and that maybe Gamma Rays or other cosmic rays influence and very weakly charge the ionosphere, and that that’s the reason why we can make a QSO when there is zero sunspot activity.

The diagram above would have you believe that gamma rays are way too high in the spectrum to affect HF, but since we simply have way more questions than answers, my money is on keeping an open mind. I like the theories that believe that gamma or other cosmic rays do have and influence. It seems to me that our ionospheric model and knowledge is ripe for improvement.

Imagine FT8 and and new propagation theory that evolves in the next several years. I expect some “convergence”.

I fully expect we will soon learn some of the things that we have not known before and that it will be very exciting news for the Top Band DXer.

How Low Can I Go?

OK, now that I have nailed all of my big goals for this year (already) it’s time to get very, very serious about losing 50 pounds.

Ten years ago I lost 30 pounds, so I know exactly what and how to do this. Every Sunday I’ll put a small mention in my blog as a way to put pressure on my self.

My goal is 2 pounds a week, and if I have a bad week it will be that I stay the same.

I know there will be plateaus, but the best psychology is to just keep chipping away at the stone and move the ball toward the goal line as much as possible, and that each week will be a success.

My father and aunt had the same exact problem, and my only advantage is that I have been a serious athlete in the past, and I do things like cycle 50 miles a week without thinking about it. I can’t do the 160 mile a week like I did 20 years ago, but I can do enough that will ensure success.

The big tackle is changing my diet in a semi radical way, but as I said, I have been down this road before.

I also accept that I am and will always be fighting genetics and behavioral preferences.

Amazing Six Months!

I’ve hit an amazing Six month “Sprint” in my life. Working at Credit Karma has proven to be the absolute best work experience I’ve had in my 36 year career. I have built the companies first Enterprise Data Dictionary, which included the data model, Python meta data generators from all sources, and after learning React.js with Redux and Material.ui, I’ve developed the first web app in a suite of very high profile (internal) web apps. All while learning several Google Cloud technologies (I used to use AWS for this sort of thing). Throw in the odd Google SEO app that I wrote that bailed part of the marketing team out.

In parallel, I’ve learned more than I ever could have imagined in the Maker space, and built the URAT Raspberry Pi Zero W based universal remote antenna tuner. Coding Python at work during the day and C at night. And I’m only a second rate C hack, but I must say, I kicked some major ass and ended up featured in several Maker web sites.

I designed and built the Mod Bob lowband antenna and the two element 20M yagi and then gave my “inaugural” presentations on both at EBARC meetings.

I sold my car and committed to cycling everywhere as my form of transportation.

I rebuilt a major portion of my ham shack and built a small Maker space with my first signal generator and oscilloscope. I helped a couple makers with their projects and they proclaimed “I need to get into ham radio” after seeing the shack.

I travelled to my first Dayton Hamvention where VK0EK received the very highly coveted and esteemed DXPedition of the Year award.

VK0EK won the DX Coffee “Best Communication” award, which was fashioned after the TX5K Clipperton DXpedition where I forged a form of near real time “micro-blogging” that I took to it’s logical conclusion with VK0EK.

I learned that TX5K is the world record holder for QSO’s per hour or minute for any DXpedition, and that is kudos to my German brothers in the Bavarian Contest Club.

My younger son was accepted into UC Santa Cruz after completing his first two years at DVC, a wonderful Community College.

I got my neighbors to join CERT and a few are mildly interested in Ham Radio.

Just before I started at Credit Karma I completely redesigned and rebuilt my landscaping. It turned out great.

The only thing I didn’t do that I wanted to do was lose some serious weight.

Is there an app for that?

My Favorite DX-pedition Video – VK0EK

I just received and viewed the VK0EK video. It is far and away my favorite expedition video ever. It has enough of what you normally get with a DX-pedition video, but the tour of the majestic beauty with all of its geography, flora and fauna (and weather) makes it my favorite easily and by a country mile.

The video footage, photographs, diagrams, narration and background music are all superb.

October QST “DX Issue” Cover

This year’s ARRL QST edition does not feature a team, but instead, its an antenna farm. I have been very curious about this since VK0EK was immortalized on last years DX Edition, and was also on the cover of the DXCC Yearbook.

For me, DXCC has become quite boring, but with the maker and ongoing antenna work, I am always engaged and happy – even if its just calling ZS on the LP or SP on 40M with an antenna I designed and built, or working a new one on 160M.

I’ve written about what I think the future of DXing and DXCC might be – but when it comes down to it – I live in the day and enjoy each day as best I can regardless of DXCC or awards chasing is concerned. In fact, I only have 4600 QSO’s in my log – going back to 1973! I am 95% SWLer – I do turn the radio on every day and listen no matter what. I tune around and check propagation by seeing if I can hear something that is spotted.

This summer a whole new world has opened up – and now that I have even experimented with Maker Meets Ham projects as they relate to antennas and DX-ing is concerned, I’m in it for the long haul.