Thursday, November 22, 2012



HAMS, PIGLETS, AND BOARS UNITE!!

"BLACK FRIDAY"
IS
Go TIME



How many times have you received an email from HRO or another company with a BIG sale ($5 off one item, $10 on another)? For one, I guess we all realize that the profit margin is damn slim so it's hard to pull off any great pricing, but I woke this morning to see their Black Friday email in my mailbox and took a look - and I was impressed!

Here are some examples:

  • Yaesu FT-60r Dualband HT - $129.95
  • Yaesu FT-450D - $799.95
  • Yaesu VX-8GR - $299.95
Too bad the FT-817ND wasn't on the sale list, but if you were looking for a 1st, or even 2nd dualbander HT, it's hard to go wrong with the FT-60r (time proven, rock solid).

'Nuff Ho-Ho,
Woody

Monday, November 19, 2012



MY BAD






What do you get when you host several websites, many blogs, are married, and work? Me. A person who (while still scratching the head) couldn't find my website or reach it vs. ftp any longer. How long? Dunno...

I received an email last month from a friend who knows my other email address and sent me one saying it wasn't there, and "Had I given it up?" So I leaped into action! (takes about a month these days to work myself up to get ready for a good "leap").

I looked and sure enough it wasn't there, nor a way to reach it via FTP (I figured my index page was corrupt or otherwise missing, which it was, but it ran deeper than that). After four days of emailing back'n forth between me and my host I finally got it straightened out, and a new Index page in place.

Apologies,
Woody

Sunday, November 04, 2012


DURING A DISASTER, IT'S ALL ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS

 
 
 
 
 

 
I just finished reading a story about the struggle in the aftermath of "SANDY", to get towers back up, and power to them so wireless communications could be restored. If you think about SANDY, or any past major storm that ripped through a wide swath of towns, cities, and States, then you've probably read something similar after every tragedy. If you look hard enough, and depending on who is in-the-know, you'll also see small to large sized articles about HAM radio operators and the service they provide in times of need. From short range communications, to passing information across the country or around the world to let someone know that their family member survived, Ham radio operators are always on the scene.
 
Many Hams have taken courses and become storm spotters for SKYWARN, a program of the United States' National Weather Service. They are trained to know how to describe the conditions they are witnessing:

  • Cloud formations
  • Funnel cloud sightings
  • Hail, and approximate size
  • Lightning strikes
  • High winds
  • Localized flooding
 
All of the time reporting this information to the National Weather Service. When you hear reports on dangerous storms, it's not just radar, but eyes on the ground that help determine what is included in a weather advisory, and Ham radio operators have had a long relationship with the National Weather Service.
 
 
[PHOTO CREDIT - ASSOCIATED PRESS]
 
 Many of these cities have rules prohibiting towers, or outside antennas because they were considered to be ugly by their neighbors - the same neighbors they helped out during and after a Hurricane, Tornado, or other event which made land line phone calls or wireless phones useless. Thanks to the Amateur Radios official organization, the ARRL, some cities have acknowledged the benefits and made exceptions to the regulations.
 
When looking for a nice neighborhood in Texas to live in, you'll find what they call "Subdivisions" with a variety of enticing names, and a home that meets your need [side note - when I moved down to Texas in the 70's, I had never heard of a "Subdivision" before].
  
A home that meets your needs unless, you're a HAM (Amateur Radio Operator). Because before you can purchase the house of your dreams you must sign away your rights to put up a tower, much less an outside antenna because it would ruin the appeal of the subdivision, and upset your neighbors. Yet, it may be the perfect house and location for you otherwise. Unfortunately, doing the same regulation changes in a Subdivision are nearly unheard of - after all, you signed the legal agreement to abide by them when you moved in.
 
Perhaps you have lived in one of these confined neighborhoods for many years and just found out how exciting Ham radio can be, you'll find out in short order about the section in the Subdivision regulations you signed years earlier, prohibiting unsightly objects like towers or outdoor antenna's. You weren't even thinking about Amateur radio at the time you moved there.
 
I've never investigated it, but I've often wondered if after such a disaster, did anyone help push through changes or modifications to either city or subdivision regulations in order to make communications easier in times like these? If not, it's very sad, yet when Mother Nature unleashes another storm upon them, your neighbor, the Ham, the Amateur Radio operator will be there to help once again.
 
That's what Ham's do...
 
 
'Nuff Said
Brian
 
KB5CEJ Amateur Radio Operator

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WHAT IS "RF" ?

[AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?]


WHAT IS RF?
RF stands for “Radio Frequency”, which is used by AM/FM radio stations, Citizens Band radio operators, the Military, HAM radio operators – and YOU! It is a wireless electromagnetic signal which is commonly used for communications of one sort or the other. In the case of a broadcast or two-way radio communications just having a signal is not enough. A transmitter takes your voice (for example) and through a process within the circuitry adds that audio (modulation) to the signal and sends it out.

At the other end, the Receiver is designed to receive the modulated signal, and separate the two so that only audio comes through the speaker. Once again, this is part of a receivers circuitry. Depending on how high or low the frequency is will vary the distance that signal will carry. Usually, the higher up in frequency you go, the more line-of-sight your signal will be (without any special accessories, etc).


[The 2 most common types of transmission are AM and FM. AM (Amplitude Modulation) modulates the carrier, whereas FM (Frequency Modulation) modulates the frequency]
Some of you are old enough to remember modems, and having to wait days to download a file from what was called a “BBS”, as it traveled over the phone wires. If you look at the word “modem” you’ll see that it was called that because it is a Modulator/Demodulator (similar to a two-way radio transceiver), and enough about history and definitions. I just wanted to give a brief description on RF signals because you use them every day, and here are some examples:

  • Cell phone
  • The cordless phone in your house
  • Your car remote
  • Your garage door opener
  • The baby monitor
  • The wireless printer
  • In many cases – your TV remote
  • The wireless router you use to connect laptops, iPads, and other Wi-Fi devices to the Internet
I’ll stop there, although I could come up with other everyday items given more time and thought. I’m sure that by now you’ve realized that RF signals are necessary for any RF wireless device to work, and while invisible to the eye, they are all around us wherever we go.

 COMPUTERS AND RF
 Early wireless routers used the 2.4GHz frequencies and usually you had a choice of 11 channels (really 3 non-overlapping channels) to choose from to avoid interference from a close neighbor using the same channel you were on. The frequency range is what you call “Near Microwave” and is very crowded. You’re sharing it newer cordless phones in your house, amongst other devices.

  
[CLICK TO ENLARGE. The short red mark is where the typical wireless router falls within the frequency spectrum, while the longer red mark is approximately where the 5GHz wireless routers are]
For several years now, Dual-band wireless routers have been on the market. One band remains at 2.4GHz for compatibility. The 2nd band operates in the 5GHz range, often referred to as part of the Microwave Spectrum. Wireless routers with 5GHz capabilities offer more than double the amount of channels to choose from (23 of which are non-overlapping). It’s like a BIG wide freeway compared to the 2.4GHz band.

There are trade-offs:

At 2.4GHz you will achieve a greater signal range, but it’s narrow and crowded. For everyday Internet activities it’s fine though. A 5GHz band signal, while BIG and WIDE, will not be able to travel as far as a 2.4GHz device (remember, the higher the frequency the shorter the range). But because it’s so expansive, it makes the perfect band for streaming video in your house, along with less clutter and crowding. Another distinction is that 2.4GHz supports 802.11B,G, and N, while 5GHz (at this time) only supports “N” (and, I believe the new 802.11ac standard). Also, most wireless computers and tablets are not dual-band so a USB dual-band adapter will be required to take advantage of the 5GHz band.

Every install has its own set of variables: How many other wireless devices are in the house, placement of the router, the number of walls the signal has to go through to reach a desired location in the house, so it’s not just simply a matter of configuring the wireless router, plugging it into the modem and getting full coverage everywhere. Within the next 2 years we will see big changes in regard to Wi-Fi, and as always - radio communications!

'Nuff Said, 
Woody 
KB5CEJ 
PC TECH; HAM RADIO OPERATOR

Monday, October 15, 2012



ANNUAL HALLOWEEN

"PICK YOUR FAVORITE HORROR MOVIES" EVENT




I've moved the movie poll to another one of my Blogs, which you can find HERE. This year I went all out and via 3 side bars (Tabs), this year's choices are the biggest! The list starts in the early 1900 silent era and ends in 2011. I know I missed some, so I'm sorry if one of your favorites isn't on the list.

Woody




Thursday, August 16, 2012



BLINK AND YOU MISS IT


I was watching some episodes of "TJ Hooker" on a cable channel a couple of weeks ago and the plot involved 'ol "TJ" to play nice with the Feds and help them run a sting on a new drug dealer. Naturally things aren't going to go the way they should and shots are fired, one of Hooker's crew is killed, and he's just venting his anger at the Feds while following the suspect.


Of course, because agencies didn't really communicate well between each other, Hooker had no idea that the Feds were using CB's to communicate -



Saturday, July 28, 2012







ARE YOU LEGAL?




The other day I was talking with someone about HAM radio, CB's, and then those little walkie-talkies that you see at Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, etc. He was wondering if he could get some, give his kids a few and keep in touch (after all, many advertise 20-40 mile range).


My answer was mixed. Under ideal conditions, with one child strapped to a two story roof 6 miles away, and the other, chained to the chimney on top of another 2-story house it would be possible to achieve 6 miles. 20 miles? no. Many of you have seen these in stores and on Amazon, that are similar to the ones in the picture, any most of them you find with any long range claims will be FRS/GMRS radios. FRS, were usually under $20 radios that the kids could have fun with, and 14 channels to choose from.

GMRS channels (the extra 22 channels) require an FCC license. In almost all of the descriptions I read I didn't see any mention of this.


To get a GMRS license is easy - no test required. All you need is to fill out the license form, be 18 years of age or older, and enclose a check for $85 (good for 5 years).


That's a fairly important part to leave out, especially after you've bought them and been using them for awhile. Because these handhelds operate in UHF (Ultra High Frequency), they are more line-of-sight in communications. Your conditions, and distance my vary. The fact a license is required does not.


[This is actually a cross-post from another of my Blogs, but it is radio related. Not having any radio equipment makes it fairly hard to report conditions, who I talked with, etc. So there has been a large gulf between posts. The book, ah yes, my every-to-published book got pushed aside after getting a new job which left little time for anything else. This may have been a good thing though, thanks to the explosion of digital books. You can download an Amazon "Kindle" App for just about anything (including your PC) and read a book. I've always been a hands-on kinda guy when it came to reading a book, however, I bought a couple and started reading them on my iPad and I think it's great! I've finished one, and I'm slowly getting through the other one (900pg book about George Patton). I've also been in contact with a electronic book publisher, and we're trying to work out some of the kinks in the formatting of my book, which may include re-writing 50-100 pages, but once they say "It's good to go", it's going. You'll be able to find it on Amazon and other sites. Price? At this time, we're planning on $9.99, and will offer one of the chapters downloadable for free, to check it out.]


Woody

Saturday, March 03, 2012





ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER HAMFEST....






I stopped by the Houston Area Hamfest this morning to visit with my good friend David McCombs, presently the new owner of the "Houston Amateur Radio" store up in Spring. After walking around in circles for awhile I finally found his area (right next to the door I first walked into) and could see that gleam in his eye, he was in his element.


Dave and I go back to the early 80's where eventually he became my "Elmer" and I finally got on HAM Radio. I still haven't made it to his re-designed store, but promised I would.

As for the Hamfest itself? Well, I think there was more than a little exaggeration to "The 2nd largest Hamfest in Texas" claim, with many people packing up and leaving when I arrived around 10:30. Of course, I caught up with Steve and he dutifully pestered me to get back on-the-air. It seemed smaller than two years ago when I went down there to upgrade to General, but times are tough, and gasoline prices are high, so all-in-all it was a pretty good event. Hope to see both Dave and Steve up in Belton this April - Woody

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Six Things You Didn't Know About Heinrich Hertz




"Heinrich Hertz found his purpose in the invisible. Hertz—who originally wanted to study the more tangible, practical field of civil engineering—was eventually drawn to the theories of James Maxwell, which hypothesized that electromagnetic waves that move at the speed of light exist." I found this article while perusing PCMAG.com. You can read the whole article / slide-show HERE.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Trailer for "Tomorrow, when the War began"






Bill Simons, W9BB, Silent Key; Developed Shure Microphones


“The response to the microphone was outstanding. It took over the market and Shure became the most popular ham microphone around. Mr. Shure was very pleased with what we were able to do.”


Read Full Story HERE.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012



TWO BLOGS ARE BETTER THAN.....



While I struggle to get back into radio, I've decided not to bombard you with PC security issues or virus alerts. If you glance to the right side of this Blog, you'll find a link for "Security Daze". If you are interested in seeing what's going on in the world of PCs and PC security, you might like to bookmark it, or, simply get to it by coming here first and using the link.


Regards,

Woody