The End of Summer (Figuratively Speaking)

The unofficial end of Summer is back to school time or Labor Day

In two weekends it will be Labor Day weekend – one of several unofficial starts to the Fall season. For me it will be at the end of this week because all of my Summer Projects – both at work and at home will be complete.

My big Summer project – replacing the ALM-31 with the AB-577 and getting 4 extra sections

Although it will never end, being at the top of the Gym’s “Myzone” Leader-board for July and August is a great surprise – because now I love going to the gym and riding my bike and just being more active. I’ve lost 17 pounds total so far this year, but the best part is that its become a part of my life – its not something “one and done”.

It was a GREAT summer, and I have a lot of good things to look for. I am more aware to be present and be thankful – more so than when I was younger and in a big silly rush.

The KY6R “UrbanWireBeam”

Converting an UrbanBeam to a KY6R “UrbanWireBeam”

Before deciding on the SteppIR UrbanBeam, I seriously thought about the OptiBeam OB-10-5 I really like the looks of this wire beam much more than the Hex Beam. When you live in the suburbs – if you are lucky enough to be able to have an antenna up 55′ as I am – I also know that its important to make the antenna look as unobtrusive as possible.

What if the Stepper Motors in the UrbanBeam crapped out – and I did not want to replace them (they are probably expensive – in fact this antenna is quite expensive). The fiberglass is probably the cheapest part of the antenna, and its also the lightest weight parts of the antenna. I have had very good experience with wire Moxon’s in the past and have bagged many rare DX with a 20M fishing pole Moxon, so – I know a wire beam can be very competitive.

The “frame” of the UrbanBeam is 30′ wide, and the boom is 4′. The two elements spread out to somewhere in the vicinity of 6′, so this could be used as a frame for a Moxon on 17M. It also could be used as a rotatable dipole on 40M and a 2 element wire beam on any band 20M and above. I would follow the OptiBeam / Hex design and go with a wire beam. I would have a bent 2 element 30M yagi (that could be used as a 40M rotatable dipole), and then have a 20M yagi, a 17M yagi and a 15M yagi. Id be fine using it as a rotatable dipole on 12 an 10M.

Multi-banding an antenna is not easy – especially with adjacent bands, so I could even just work on 40, 30 and 20M if need be – since those are by far the most important bands. There are lots of options with this idea. Maybe a combination of 2 element wire beam, moxon and rotatable dipole could work. The overall performance might lose a dB on some bands, but my guess is that it would still be “good enough”.

By far, the heaviest parts of the 48 pounds that make up the UrbanBeam are the two Stepper Motors. I could take them out – and use the shrouds on the boom to devise a switching circuit using relays and coils – if that is even needed. The fiberglass would be used exactly as it is. I would build it to handle 1500 watts, but would be using it for 5 watts. Because the antenna would be more than half its current weight, I would most definitely add the last two AB-577 tubes and get the bugger up to 65+ feet up.

It was a leap of faith when I purchased the UrbanBeam, and in the back of my mind I have always wondered “What if one day I come into the shack and the motors or motor stops turning”? I like knowing that there will be no panic the day the UrbanBeam craps out – and that I have already figured out a way to reuse the antenna in a way that would perform on the bands I want as good as the UrbanBeam itself (on the few bands I really care about).

Racing to The Finish: The Final Week

This is the final week of my LendUp Data Catalog and Data Discoverer project. Its been 3 months in the making – so one quarter – and we now have a serious CCPA (and other) Compliance System. Its much more than that – but the CCPA requirement is what makes it Top Priority – which means unlike last year – this product / project has a certain amount of “insurance” that it will stay alive for a while – it certainly is in much more secure territory than last years product / project (at another company) – which was a great one destroyed by a bad manager and bad politics.

The biggest personal gain from this project is that I finally learned React and Functional Programming with JavaScript. I also learned how easy it is to create REST API’s and Microservices using Java Spring Boot and the JPA ORM. I actually don’t like ORM’s and would rather just do SQL pass-throughs – they are easier to write and easier to tune for performance – but I also have to go along with our standards and procedures.

My summer interns last day is this coming Friday – so after Wednesday we will be done with this phase of the project. I guess I need to get amped up to see if we can get the last couple of things implemented – but in any case – I will own and support the code line after she goes back to school. I will then be onto the next phase of the project – which will be to get it ready to be launched into production. Fingers crossed that we have a very productive week.

OK – enough about work – back to DXing – lets see if I can snag Lucky FREQ #13 today!

FREQ 300 #12: The “5C5 Mystery”

Mystery Parts . . . 

Yesterday I worked someone who sent 5C5TLM, and so it leaves me guessing what their real call is. The closest thing that seems like it could be a ham call would be HC5TLM.

AHA! The DXFun Cluster has a history of Luis, HC5TLM spots. SO I will log this one for FREQ #12. His sending was good enough – he just had a hard time with his first “H”. His signal was good – proving that South America is workable even with such poor conditions. With 5 watts – its a big deal, and the first time in a long time since I am not taking South America for granted as good DX. The one other time where I felt this way was getting to DXCC on Top Band – that had the same effect. Hey – this DXing business is fun again…


Flying Ghost

10 Section of AB-577 Mast Plus 3 feet of double walled tubing = 55′

I loosened the guy ropes and started adding the 11th section of AB-577 mast today, and saw it lean more than I felt comfortable with, so I have decided to keep my UrbanBeam at a very safe 55′. As much as I’d love to go another 10.5 feet, I always put safety first. I push it as far as I can up to that safety “inflection point” where the risk steps up one level higher than I would like.

I had a much bigger and heavier antenna up at this height – so I am very confident that the UrbanBeam will be just fine at 55′.

Its Harvest Time! My favorite time of year . . . 

OK, now all of my summer Ham Radio projects are done. And this week coming up is when we deliver the LendUp Data Catalog and Data Discoverer. Its the culmination of a lot of hard work this summer – and now I can reap some of the fruits of the harvest.

Telluride, Colorado

We have a vacation planned for Colorado and our beloved Bend, Oregon this Fall. It feels great to have completed so much work and where the products / projects are a success, because then this really makes the vacations all that more sweet.

Flying ghost with cape over Mt. Shasta

We are only 3 months away from the Holiday Season – and only 4 months away from 2020

I’ve heard that 3Y0I will try to activate Bouvet again – at the end of this year


How to Make Your KX-3 Sing!

I thought panadapters were a waste of time until now (click on the image)

I have owned Elecraft P3 and PX3 panadapters and also have played with an SDRPlay as a panadapter, and have never used one to make a QSO – because I am so good at making split pileup QSO’s “by ear”. I am just much faster doing it the “old school” way – that panadapters just seemed cumbersome and slowed me down.

The inexpensive but very high quality ASUS Xonar U7 MKII

Now, when you pair the KX-3 with the Xonar and the Win4K3Suite, WOW, just WOW. I am chasing the light houses this weekend – if they are also IOTA’s, and I just can’t say enough good things about having the spots show up superimposed on the panadapter screen. The graphics are crystal clear and offer just the right amount of information. I might even try using the panadapter for split work this time around – but most of my FREQ 300 QSO’s will no doubt be simplex.

I tried adding this controller – but found it wasn’t as good as the KX3 tuning knob – it just took up precious desk space

Same thing for the Microsoft Surface Dial – it probably is better with a Surface laptop – but not a regular Windows10 laptop

SO – the KX-3, Xonar and Win4K3Suite are the best combo – save your money on a “wheel” or dial – and just use the KX-3’s tuning knob. The entire KX-3 is not much bigger than these dials – so they just don’t add anything except cost.

CCPA: Keep on Keeping On

The California Consumer Protection Act, or CCPA goes into effect on January 1, 2020 and yesterday I learned about three companies and where their compliance projects are, and the status does not look very good. One had been in analysis paralysis since January, and can’t decide to build or buy, another has purchased the best solution that I have taken a very serious look at (Collibra), but while they have a few people on their team who can do some of the needed tasks – they do not have the strategic planner who understands both technical and business aspects and how to get the project to the finish line. The third company is about one quarter behind where LendUp is – and they are at least asking all the right questions and seem like they could be ready by January 1 – but we are almost in the 4th quarter and time is ticking.

Two companies asked me outright if I would join them to help them with their CCPA efforts, and LinkedIn is full of such jobs. All of this makes me very happy – because things have unfolded in 2020 exactly as I had envisioned it would – and I saw this clearly last October when my previous visionless boss told me that the Data Catalog that I built and which was received with great fanfare was basically no longer needed – leaving me in the lurch.

I had fun having the last laugh this past week, and it just proves that sometimes you have to believe in yourself even when the people who used to rely on you for advice turn against you. As they say you have to “Keep on Keeping on”.

This article is right on and defines exactly what my strategy has been all along:

Prepping For The Worst Is The Best Approach To The California Consumer Privacy Act

What I found out yesterday is that many companies are waiting and hoping for the best – that the CCPA will be watered down or that they will get some kind of exemption. That’s a total fools game – because if just some of the worst possible cases happen – they will be in seriously bad shape starting on New Years Day next year. Tooling up to comply is not fast or easy. It makes Y2K look like a joke.

This is going to be one of those things where the medicine is bitter – but that in the long run it is the best thing for you. Yes, its a pain in the ass – but the cost savings that companies can achieve as they go through the process of learning how to make personal data secure and give consumers control over their personal data will end up being the best win – win situation for all.

For me its a whole new IT industry that I predict will carry me until I retire in 7 – 10 years, and because I was an Oracle DBA for 20+ years, its right up my alley – I am already as much an expert technically and business wise as you can get – I am right at the right place at the right time.

Its was a great (work) week!