Standby: Wiring …..

I’m almost done wiring up the u.RAT Demo Board. In fact, it’s all wired, but I need to do one last wire tie pass, and I’ll show it off tomorrow.

The little clear poly Carbonite case looks great, and it will be fun to present and then let people play with it hands on.

Welcome August!

August is the start of my favorite time of the year, Autumn. The daylight changes dramatically during August, the first day looks like summer, the last like Autumn. It’s like the childhood anticipation to Christmas. In July, we lost 1/2 hour of sunlight, in August, we will lose 1 hour, so the change is fairly dramatic.

Propagation changes for sure, and it’s a good time of anticipation for low banders. Harvest season brings the best fruits, veggies, grapes and hops in September and beyond, some starting at the end of August.

I’ve used June and July for project development, most have resulted in presentations, and for more than 10 years usually presented at Pacificon in October.

We have the solar eclipse in August and every day and week is a march toward some interesting equinox propagation.

Bring it!

The Social Media Dustbin

I’m doing what I can to “take out the trash” as far as social media is concerned. Facebook and now Twitter are out of my life. I will not participate in something our Asshole in Chief abuses as he lets our government go to hell in a hand basket. I deep sixed eHam years ago. I also sold my car to protest with my wallet. Small gestures, but it feels good to do something instead of just bitch about things whilst on social media. Its a call to action, and the old saying “Be the change you want to see” is so relevant in this day and age. It is cathartic for sure.

Enter Github, Slack and Meetup – three incredibly useful social media channels where people cooperate and collaborate. Not only did they motivate me to dive head first into the Maker world, they also have me going out and meeting people in person – something far better than sitting behind Facebook and Twitter fuming and bitching.

So, I’m going to keep trading negativity for positive replacements, and do it mindfully and actively.

New Car!

Just kidding. We are a one car family for several reasons, and one is a protest to leaving the Paris Accord. Actions speak louder than words!

U.RAT Video Wrap Up

Here is the full on video for the u.RAT:

The u.rat world tour: First stop – EBARC

On Friday, August 11, I will kick off the first stop on the 2017 u.RAT World Tour at the East Bay Amateur Radio Club (EBARC):

The second stop on this World Tour will be Pacificon – Saturday morning (I’m waiting on the time slot at this point):

You will notice that the Pacificon web site still points to last years event, so I’m looking forward to this years roster and program.

I am also presenting “Low Band DX Antennas” during Fridays Antenna Forum and it will be heavily based on the Mod Bob plus the u.RAT. 

I also have just joined several Meetups in SF and the East Bay, so I am sure the u.RAT will get a workout very soon.

This weekends big deal project is the final packaging of the u.RAT to make it look nice for the upcoming World Tour!

Fun times . . .

Social Coding, Open Source and the Maker Community


Now that I am in the final phase of packaging the u.RAT, there is one thing that stands out regarding the “social” aspect of the project. I received very encouraging and warm support from Elecraft, a fellow in Honolulu, another in the UK, Adafruit and another fellow in the US.

Then I looked at the latest “DX News” and it was actually depressing. There was one story about a supposed DXCC List change and one article about one DX-er trashing another DX-er. Some cancelled DX-peditions – which seems to be a trend. Yaaaaaaaaawn.

What a stark difference. I’m not one to wallow in the mire and most people know I generally stay positive, but I have to say that us working stiffs only have so much time to spend on our hobbies (and DX-ing and Making are only hobbies and nothing more), so I will always choose the positive and active pursuit. I have the most fun when my hobby expands my mind and where I re-create. It gives me a real energy boost, a kick . . .

The Maker Community likes to “show and tell” and its de rigueur to use clear polycarbonite cases to show off the electronics in your projects. (I do know that the QRP Community have been Makers long before they coined the modern version of the term Maker . . . )

Just sitting on my butt waiting for the next ATNO on a slow news day really makes me even more happy that I have found this wonderful sharing Maker community. And it is intertwined with the Open Source Community and Github – where all of the code repositories that people post and support gives you a global sense of community like nothing I have ever experienced before (except working with our global VK0EK team – but that’s the last DXpedition I will work on – one biggie is enough for me). I literally have 15 more DX QSO’s before I am done DXing, so its the end of the DX road for me in all respects.

DXCC and DX-ing will be relegated to a very part time activity from now on, and I swear, I feel almost silly for putting so much importance in DXCC and DX-ing as I have – because I’m not kidding, I have learned so much more with just my first Ham – Maker project – than 16 years of DXCC “list chasing”, and in the process, experienced that “Community” that seemed to be missing in the DX world. But I did support DXpeditions and donated $100 per ATNO and $20 to others. I also spent 4 years if my life on VK0EK and was one of three who raised $500K. And yes, I was rewarded for that. It’s bittersweet, but did you ever wake up one day and realized you need a very serious change? That’s what I’m talking about. 16 years was  a very good run – I’ve only been cycling longer when it comes to “passtimes”.

I’m also moving my hobby “mad money” from DXpeditions and DX related clubs and subscriptions to buying parts for making. For me personally, the return on investment is just many times better moving forward.

Luckily, there is a growing ham maker movement, so there will be even more opportunities in this space, and maybe I can convince makers to become hams and vice versa.

Hey – maybe there should be an international net for Makers? That would be a new / old twist! Compare notes and experiences – especially the one’s where you describe why you approached a problem a certain way. I could explain why I chose the Raspberry Pi over the Arduino for the u.RAT. That would save someone else time.