Tuesday, October 07, 2014



The weather was good - a weak front had just passed through leaving temperatures in the low 80's with low humidity. We had a couple tables way in the back corner [not too far from Houston Amateur Radio Supply], and the parking lot was packed. After unloading the truck I drove outside to find a spot to park, which turned out to be a good stretch from the entrance, but before parking Robin called me about the prices on a Transoceanic and some other items. By the time I got back inside they were sold.

And that's the way it went the whole time we were there; a few moments to collect our thoughts and then the next wave of buyers were upon us. No complaints, but there weren't a lot of potential buyers walking around unlike other years.

I can remember aisles packed so full people could hardly stop to take a look at an item, but I also remember those times weren't especially productive - many "Tire Kickers" and few buyers whereas this past weekend had less tire kickers and more buyers than in recent years.

I meant to go outside and see the "Friz" but I couldn't get away from our tables, nor did I see Val or Steve this year, although it could have been that we were too busy to look up and see who was 50 or 100ft. away from our area.

One thing I did notice was the Belton group only had one of the large front openings open, and all of the side doors were closed creating a stagnant trap of air without the benefit of the breeze from outside. I heard it was because they were trying to keep people from sneaking inside without paying, but it made for some discomfort amongst those of us stuck behind our tables.

If you were there, I hope you had a good time...

'Nuff Said,

Saturday, September 27, 2014



In Texas, dedicated CB shops, for the most part are gone. It's not that popularity has dropped so much in the past few decades, but Truck stops have taken over a lot that territory AND Internet sales [thus avoiding sales tax].

HAM radio stores took a sharp hit several decades ago when Madison Electronics in downtown Houston went under. It was not only a store selling gear, but an informal meeting place for local area HAM radio operators. They had stuff packed from floor to ceiling, with many accessories left over from bygone eras.

That left Austin Amateur Radio, Texas Towers, as well as Houston Amateur Radio Supply. The "Grapevine" has been fluttering as of late with word that both Austin Amateur Radio and Texas Towers will close shortly, leaving Houston Amateur Radio in the North Houston/Spring area, and MTC in Paris Texas.

Or does it...?

[ed. - yeah, it kinda sounds like something you'd hear just before the commercial break on the latest murder mystery being shown on the news show "Dateline"]

"Instead of going to Houston Amateur Radio and getting the benefit of the owner's decades-long knowledge , experience, and advise only to buy it online the sale of the equipment will stay where you got all of that help and knowledge so they can continue to grow."

Moving into Texas Towers backyard is HRO [Ham Radio Outlet], the "Walmart" of Amateur radio with multi-store buying power, it will be curious to see how things play out. The Texas store is not listed yet on their website, but a visitor from that area stopped by Houston Amateur Radio recently and said that he thought it looked open, but HRO's official press release puts the opening around the first quarter of 2015.

The biggest impact of Amateur Radio operators here in Texas was the advantage of buying from HRO out-of-state and benefitting from no sales tax. This will be a benefit Hams will no longer have.

For large purchases this eliminates any tax free bliss, but it also gives the remaining Amateur Radio stores in Texas the ability to play on an even terms [ed. - yep, there are still other HAM radio stores where you can buy equipment tax free, but HRO, being one of the largest in the U.S. sucked a lot of $$$ from your local HAM radio store's income].

Instead of going to Houston Amateur Radio and checking out the latest gear, getting the benefit of the owner's decades-long knowledge, experience, and advice, only to leave and purchase it from HRO to save on sales tax, perhaps now the equipment purchase will stay where you got all of that help and knowledge so they can continue to grow.

Previously, if you were looking at a rig that sold for $1449, you would save about $120 in sales tax by purchasing it online from HRO, but now the field is level PLUS you'll get instant gratification by walking out of your local HAM radio store with your new rig under your arm rather than biting off your finger nails waiting for it to arrive.


Houston Amateur Radio Supply is located at: 2558 E. FM1960, Houston Texas 77073 [not far from their old location on Cypresswood].


'Nuff Said,

Friday, June 27, 2014



From the ARRL news [in part]:

A bill with bipartisan support has been introduced in the US House of Representatives that calls on the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions.

 “There is a strong federal interest in the effective performance of Amateur Radio stations established at the residences of licensees,” the bill states. “Such stations have been shown to be frequently and increasingly precluded by unreasonable private land-use restrictions, including restrictive covenants.”

Go to the ARRL website to read full story - then start making noise so this thing gets passed...

'Nuff Said,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014



Texas Radio Amateur Gives Up License As Part of Enforcement Action Settlement

A Texas radio amateur has agreed to turn in his Amateur Extra class license as part of an agreement with the FCC to settle an enforcement action against him. The FCC earlier this year issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to James R. Winstead, KD5OZY, of Coleman, Texas, after determining that Winstead “apparently willfully violated” FCC rules by interfering with Amateur Radio communications. The Commission had proposed a $7000 fine. The action was in response other radio amateurs’ complaints of intentional interference on 7.195 MHz.

“Mr Winstead has admitted that his actions violated the Commission’s rules and agreed to voluntarily relinquish his amateur license and make a $1000 voluntary contribution to resolve the [Enforcement] Bureau’s investigation,” the FCC said in an Order released April 22. The Order adopted a Consent Decree between the Enforcement Bureau and Winstead that spells out the details of the settlement.

According to the Consent Decree, Winstead will make his “voluntary contribution” to the US Treasury in 12 installments. He also agreed to relinquish his Amateur Radio license, prior to signing the Consent Decree. Such agreements between the FCC and violators have become more common recently in both Amateur Radio and non-Amateur Radio cases.

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, gave kudos to the Enforcement Bureau “for bringing the matter to a prompt conclusion.”

Last January 21 an agent from the Commission’s Dallas Office used direction-finding techniques to positively identify the source of interfering transmissions as Winstead’s address. After monitoring the transmissions from the station for about a half-hour, the agent heard Winstead “replay multiple times short sentences or conversations that had just been transmitted, and occasionally speak the word ‘George.’” 

“Mr Winstead replayed recorded conversations so frequently that other licensees were unable to complete their conversations,” the NAL stated. The agent estimated that Winstead disrupted approximately 20 minutes of conversation over a 30 minute period by making up to 15 minutes of short transmissions. The agent subsequently inspected Winstead’s station, observing that his radio equipment was tuned to 7.195 MHz.

“During the inspection, Mr Winstead showed the agent how he recorded and retransmitted other amateur licensees’ communications,” the FCC said. “He also admitted that he intentionally interfered with amateur communications on 7.195 MHz and had an ongoing disagreement with another amateur licensee named George.”

The FCC said the evidence in the case was sufficient to establish that Winstead had violated Section 333 of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 97.101(d) of the FCC Amateur Service rules.

As part of the Consent Decree, the Enforcement Bureau, “to avoid further expenditure of public resources,” agreed to terminate its investigation and not to use facts developed in its investigation to institute any new proceeding against Winstead “concerning the matters that were the subject of the investigation.”

Ed. - It never fails to amaze me how someone will climb the license ladder and make it up to an Extra class license, then allow the dumb-ass in themselves to prevail...

'Nuff Said,

Friday, January 31, 2014



If you've been keeping up with the news for the last couple months, you've been reading a list of NSA leaked data via Mr. Snowden. One of news stories caught my attention regarding how computers destined for certain locations or people were re-routed to an undisclosed location and a secret NSA chip was put on the Motherboard.

Back in the early 90's we'd always hear stories of how some people or agencies could activate the microphones in computers to listen in on conversations. No one believed it was possible back then, but today? Definitely.

Today, the majority of electronics (two-way radios, CB, and other) are made in China. It wouldn't be a big hardship for them to install a chip that killed the radio when a certain frequency signal was broadcast. Instant "Dead Air". If you add this feature to all of the routers, switches, and computers that are made in China, you have instant "Dead Wire" - what better way to cripple a nation?

I'm sure this has been already thought of before, and I'm just a late bloomer, but except for certain circumstances I still prefer to buy radios manufactured in Japan. It's getting harder to get some HAM gear and impossible to buy a new CB with "MADE IN JAPAN" on it, which is why I picked one model mobile am/ssb CB made in Japan in the 70's to stock up on.

Thus ends my crazy rant....

'Nuff Said,