Monday, October 24, 2016

Winter Build Project

The following message was received tonight via undisclosed methods:

CBLA Field Agent Radio

This communique will serve as Official Notice that the Color-Burst Liberation Army has adopted the KD1JV MAS-80 CW transceiver for use by our Field Agents.  In the spirit of those who've gone before us, the CB/MAS-3579 is the solid-state equivalent of the vaunted PARASET field radio used by Allied agents in Europe during WWII.  Like the PARASET, the MAS uses a crystal-controlled transmitter and a regenerative receiver.  Just like the agents who operated the PARASET, CBLA Field Agents will be required to assemble their own radios.

Construction details can be found here:

The CB/MAS-3579 is powered by 13.8 Volts and transmitter output power is 2 Watts however simple modifications can raise that to 3 Watts.

Carry on,

Generalisimo Stephen Smith
End Transmittal

Seeing as how the glowbug I'm currently using is a tad off frequency, I believe this would be a great second attempt. Beats trying to refreq my rockmite! I'm mostly sure I've got enough parts to get by...
If not, I'll find a TV set somewhere and apply some "Victory Against Ignorance".
Other thing to do this winter:

Get a better Antenna up for 80m!

Craziest idea I've pondered to do this: a vertical loop for 80m where the bottom is 10' off the ground.
I've got the speakerwire, do I have the real estate?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Thank You, Ma'am!

Peddling as hard as I could, beating my fastest time home consumed my thoughts. My feet and lungs synchronized and as speed built, the force of my breathing intensified. 1, 2, 3, 4, in, out, in, out, right, left, right, left; everything happening at once.
Focused, I took in data from around me, seeing everything I could see while going. My wheels, flowing with the pavement, moved my arms and legs up and down, smoothing the path, absorbing the blows of terrain and transitions.
Determined, I needed to prove I could get home in under a certain time, and since this was Friday, I could go all out and recover my sore legs over the weekend.
I am my fastest, and then, I hear a car approaching and slowing down, prepare for evasive action! But then, a woman's voice called to me:
"You lost a shoe!"
The flow of traffic took her away quickly as I stopped and took off my backpack. The open cargo compartment mocked my best efforts at riding. The missing shoe lay on a transition from a cross street back to the bike path, a place where there's a puddle when it rains. I'm glad it hadn't started raining yet that day.
The lady was gone before I could say thank you.

So Lady on New Jersey Avenue in a Pontiac (I think):

Thank you very much!

This is a true story that happened Friday, September 30, 2016 at approximately 4:55 PM. I rode home in 19 minutes even with backtracking and stopping to get the shoe. I have changed the way I zip my backpack to minimize losing cargo in the future.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Barred Owl, Permitted...

random picture:

"Barred Owl Permitted to Build"
   Not even nature's creatures can escape the long reaching grasp of home owners' associations. Billy the Barred Owl applied for a permit that allows him to build a Cornell Ornithological Laboratory designed nesting box after receiving a notice that his attempts to nest in a natural tree cavity were against his CC&R.
"I'm a wild creature, I'm use to doing what I please," said Billy. "I've nested here for years, but because the best hole faces the neighbors this year, I have to pay somebody to have an approved nest box installed."
Billy's struggle began when his previous nesting tree suffered damage during Hurricane Hermine.
"Hermine, yeah, that storm! Lots of rain, a little wind, I guess the ground got soft, and crash! Over goes my house!" Billy recalled that the storm displaced a family of squirrels he was close to " Yeah, I eat squirrels, but this was a nice family, wouldn't touch them, ya know, we'd get together and watch football, cookout, they went deeper in the woods, I hope they're ok."
Billy's frustration continued when he moved into the Choice Domain* neighborhood, a planned community with many old growth trees.
"Lots of nice ready to use holes in these trees," said Billy when he recalled first moving here. "Plenty to eat running around too, but soon as I found a nice place to nest, I got slapped with a letter. I mean, I understand the rules and all, but hey, it's not like I'm a ham radio operator trying to put up an antenna!"


*not a real neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bicycle, Bicycle, I Want to Ride my Bicycle...

It was Monday, June 27, when I decided to start riding my bike more.
Every week since then, I've ridden at least one day a week. Most weeks I ride at least three days. Sometimes, I ride my bike to work, other times, I ride around Lake Hollingsworth, or other points. Occasionally, I ride out to Holloway park for a little birding.
Recently, I was on vacation, visiting with my parents and enjoying nature. I did a lot of walking, enough to make up for the lack of bike riding. I did ride my bike one day, in the course of doing a little birding.

Here's my advice for riding your bike to work:
1. Leaving early and getting to work early is great. The day ends sooner!
2. Drink lots of water all day long.
3. Rest if you need to, you'll go faster the next day.
4. Stay safe. The Law may be on your side, but it's powerless to protect you. You are responsible for your own safety.

Other news

  • All the kids are in school, and life continues to pick up speed.
  • My Dad gave me a Raspberry Pi, I've got plans to turn it into a WSPR beacon (ham radio related)
  • Other radioactivity has been non-existent. All my CQ's go unanswered, and it seems there are shenanigans afoot on 7.200 MHz recently.
  • The new job is good, there's lots of new things to learn all the time.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Last Bloom on the Spike

Here's the end of the Spike for "Choo-Choo Cha-Cha" the Tillandsia simulata growing on the back yard oak tree.
End of the Spike

The bloom seems to come straight out of the spike, I don't think there will be any more from this particular spike. I've waited several days now to post these pictures. We shall see.

Next Day

The next day, the bloom developed into a flower, as all the others have. Bud, then bloom.

Bud then bloom, then die.
It only takes a day. The next morning, the bloom started drooping.

By 4pm, this is what it looked like. I haven't seen any pollinators (hummingbirds or moths) but I think these flowers can and do self-pollinate. Now I begin monitoring for seedpods.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

More Blooming Tillandsia

If you haven't read about the continuing saga of "Choo-choo Cha-cha" the Tillandsia simulata growing in the backyard, by all means, get caught up. When last we left, four blooms had come and now, is way gone. This is the tale of bloom five.

When bloom four emerged, it emerged along a predictable pattern. Alternate bracts produced blooms, and four blooms in a row had me convinced I knew where bloom five would emerge. I was wrong. Bloom five skipped a bract!
bloom 5, in bud
I know the picture above is a little fuzzy. It shows a dried bloom four on the bottom, and a new bloom five, I wanted to see that they were next to each other.

End Shot
We're getting toward the end of the spike!
Typically, the bloom emerges like this on one day, and blooms the next. Here's what I found the next day.

At Bloom
This is one of my favorite shots of the plant so far. I've learned a lot about how to hold my camera phone, and exposure. I believe I've really pressed the hardware as far as I can to get the best shot I can get from the limited resources I have.

I like how you can see how far the anthers project from the tube. The tube mouth is just tight with all the business going on right there.
These flowers last a day, and then they begin to wither.
Bloom 5 gone!
Bloom 5 is gone, but at the very tip of the spike, you can see bloom 6 starting, right were it should be, on the terminal bract of the spike.

Five flowers have gone, I'm glad we've gotten to know this plant. Stay tuned for bloom six!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hey Daddy

Remember that conversation we had over twenty years ago about saying "thank-you" to God for the day? Well I found my sunrise over the bridge. My cell phone camera does nothing to capture the grace, majesty and presence of these epiphytes, but I did say "thank you" to The Creator.

Maybe an Oncidium?
 The orchid on the left grows on a tree in downtown Lakeland. I'm not sure what it is, my knowledge of orchids is limited, but I am learning. My initial guess is that it is a Oncidium hybrid of some kind. Judging by the growth into the tree trunk, and overall maturity of the plant, I'd say it's been there over a year. The raceme is awesomely long, at least 40". I haven't counted the blooms. I just noticed it the other day while on a post lunch walk at work. The yellow flowers are mottled with brown.

Definitely a Phalaenopsis.
 This beauty on the right is most certainly a Phalaenopsis hybrid. I care for a couple at the house, one was a Lowe's clearance cart special. No flowers, half dead, and all the potting material was bone dry. There was one root still alive. It took about a year, but it bloomed. I'll write about it another day. This particular plant grows on the same tree as the first picture, on the opposite side. Faces West. I don't think it's doing as well, but I am also nearly certain that this isn't the first bloom spike for this plant.

Double Shot, Straight
This plant is on an adjacent tree, it's the same species as the first picture, only larger, and it has more flowers. The over all effect is amazing.

I don't know who put these plants here in the trees, but I am grateful to see them. They weren't born there, but they are doing the best they can where they were put. That's the lesson they're teaching me. How about you?