Thursday, February 4, 2016

To Do Lists and Task Priorities

Things for me to do:
  1. Update everyone on what's going on in my life, I'm busy
  2. Finish out the Two articles I have written about antennas
  3. Update LOTW to include my final entries from last year, and the QSOs I've had so far this year.
  4. Clean out the Ham Shack, and demo it
  5. Update my BASIC blog with a few Communion meditations

Update on What's Going On!

Short story: I've been working and going to college full time. Slightly longer story: I've been at Publix now 10 years. Last year I interviewed twice for jobs related to programming. Both were entry level jobs, and I was turned down for both. I believe that my lack of Computer Science degree was the main culprit for why I didn't get the jobs. To help alleviate that, I enrolled in and started taking classes at Florida Polytechnic University. Shortly after my classes began, I was given another interview, this time on my team. I landed the job! They are letting me start the job after the semester ends at the end of April. This has been a long time coming. I'll be a support programmer. I'll be on call, get woken up at Oh Dark:30, but mostly I'll be on dayshift, and I'll have weekends off. It should be great! I also get a raise.
Being back in school has been good for me so far. I'm learning a lot, calculus is fun again, I get to use a bunch of neat stuff, and I've even been given MS Office! Only bad part is that I'm always busy with school work. No real time to do radio, get outside, learn the programming languages I want to learn, etc. I'm busy. Very busy. I often wonder if I'm too busy. So far the answer is "not yet", and that's good. Somethings about being so busy have been a bonus. For instance: My oldest daughter is learning HTML because I have to learn it, and I showed her how it makes web pages work. She's getting a kick out of it. It's nice to discover that we could have this thing in common.
I'll say more soon, namely in my next blog about antennas. All this hard math I'm taking in school should be somewhat useful for building antennas, or at least that's my hope.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Work Parking Lot Portable

Tonight was the NAQCC Sprint, and I decided to attempt participation from the parking lot at work.
I didn't get any QSOs, didn't even manage to get out to the vehicle until after 10:15, but I did hear stations, and I called CQ NA a few times even.

This time, I reinforced an idea I've had in my head a while. If your antenna isn't set up in 5 mins, your risking time wasted. Next portable system will be like that. It may or may not involve a collapsable fishing pole. The other day I tried to set up my SLV in the parking lot, and the pole kept collapsing. I've been rethinking the SLV concept, and might make some modifications in the future. Last night I used my EFHW antenna. I didn't have a way to measure SWR, but every other time I've checked it out, it has been excellent!
I didn't make any calls, but I copied some fairly strong signals, and did manage to capture some spots on the Reverse Beacon Net.
Next time I'll try harder!

 All of these reports were sent from my SW-40 aka "The Killer Watt Radio"
I need a freqmite...
Not bad over all though, for a radio that was putting out less than 1.5 watts!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Testing, Gettin' My Shots, 50 QSOs.

Back to school!
I've already started taking tests, although the test I'm taking right now is a medical one. So far, so good. I also had to get a DTaP vaccine. I impressed the Dr by having all my old shot records. That's my Momma's doin' ya'll. She knows paperwork!

I'm nervous at the prospect of going back to school. I hope the classes I need are still available when my medical paperwork clears with the school. I'll be a full time student again, and it scares me a little. Calculus with analytical geometry here we come!

November tends to be a productive month for me ham radio wise. So far, I have 50 QSOs in the book. If I'm going to catch up to having an average of 1 per day, I'm behind, but seeing as how that I get on the radio in 20min - 1 hour snatches, I'd say I'm doing ok. I had 7 QSOs last night (including at least one new country!), and even got spotted on dx summit! If I had a better CW filter, I'd have more QSOs, I know I heard some DL stations, and a few others way down in the noise. Narrow filters and some headfones would have cleared that problem right up! When school starts, the ham radio stops, so I've got to get some contacts. I've got the next antenna post about the Skeleton sleeve dipole almost finished.
Soon it will be up!

never put your eggs on the same plate as a where you keep a one year old's eggs, she'll eat them all and just look cute.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Late Night Antenna Math

It's late, and I'm doing math, there ought to be a law :-)

I'm doing this partially because I want to know if I'll be able to study after work in the spring. How does my mind handle math in the wee hours of the night?

I'm not real sure, but I've been having some fun modeling some antennas!

Sometimes it helps me to see what the antenna looks like, then I can write down some numbers, and enter them into XNEC2C.
Main thing I've learned tonight is that you need to make sure you are running your wires the right way when you fiddle with their lengths!
I've included a github gist for this antenna below. 
***EDIT*** It should be noted that units in the file above are in Meters, not feet. Also: I think there's a way to go from XNEC2C to EZNEC, if you know something about the NEC Cards. I don't understand the process though.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hard Facts, Updates, Happenings, etc.

Life is funny.
I'm planning on going back to school almost 20 years after I went to college the first time.
I'm going to be a Phoenix at Florida Polytechnic!
I must be crazy.
Hopefully, once I start applying myself to the coursework, I will soon be rewarded with a BS in Computer Science and Information Technology with emphasis on Cyber Gaming.
There's a lot of math involved, I'm glad I bought a TI-89 at a pawn shop in Atlanta, back in the day. Buying one new would be PRICEY! Some of the books I'll be getting are pricey too.
I'm excited about it though. It will lead to other opportunities at work.

It's time for a different role here at the big Green P. Not that I mind what I do now, there's other things to consider. I've been in this role for almost 5 years, working nights. It's halloween, and I'm away from my kids, again. I'll be gone during Thanksgiving, again. At least this year Christmas is on a Friday, and I'm off on Fridays. The only way I'll be off on Christmas is if I'm scheduled off (Fri, or Sun) or I take vacation. I'm not complaining about the work. I'm pretty good at what I do, and it's challenging at times. I love it when something new breaks, and I get to help fix it. Especially when I'm the one who bird dogs the problem, and can identify the issue. Good problems like that make me enjoy my job. Sometimes people are what make it challenging. That's how I spell "annoying". Especially when something has the same problem over and over again. Times like that make me glad I know the Serenity prayer, thank you Uncle George (Drouet)! He had it on a placard that hung on a wall somewhere in our house. It was loose, so I hijacked it when I went to college the first time. I keep it in my radio shack now. Speaking of radio...

Radio updates:

Here's the Situation at KG4GVL:

Any attempt I have made to release a post about the W3EDP antenna failed.
I've got about half an article written. I keep thinking I'll come back to it, but it hasn't happened.
Life happens. That's all I got to say about that for now.

QSO Wise:
My attempt to average a QSO a day, and operating at least twice a week is floundering.
I have no QSOs recorded in July, a smattering in August, none in September, and only some toward the end of October. I would like to think I am in the middle of a bit of renaissance, though.
Here's a little math to help explain.
On LOTW so far, I have 84 contacts for the year. That means I have 281 contacts left to make for the year to make my average of 1 per day. From the day after the last entry in my log book to the end of the year is 65 days, leaving me about 4.3231 QSOs per day to make my average. From the 26th to day, I've had some radio activity, so the average has changed, I just want everyone to understand where we are.

01 Nov 01:30 EST (was just 1:59, TIMEWARP!)
Recrunched the numbers based on my QSO count after my birthday. I have made 4 so far on 01 Nov. I didn't do as well on some of the days before, but I didn't truly understand how far behind I was either. I'm doing good over the course of the week, but my average QSO rate is up to 4.4333333/day if I'm going to average 1/day for the year!
***END EDIT***

The last entry in my LOTW logbook is for the 26th of October 2015. That was my birthday, any my wife graciously allowed me to pursue radio much of the day, until the kids got home from school. I was off that evening from work, so that helped too. I managed to make 9 contacts (10 counting the SOUTHCARS net checkin, it's worth getting a number just to check in on your birthday), all voice contacts, mostly on 15m, some on 20m. One was even a DX contact! Next year, I'll have to make a concerted effort to keep a theme. maybe do 13 contacts on 3 bands (I'll be 39), then change QTHs, or something like that. Of course, next year, my birthday will be on Wednesday. Not much happening in the middle of the week.
Maybe a QRP CW OPS contest or something.
I hope I'm not at work all night.
Night shift is getting old...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Learning, Loving, Laboring

I really want to talk about what I've been learning. It's hard right now, because I'm sure it would take a good solid hour to type everything I'm thinking all out. It's coming. I've been learning about enumerables in C# and .net, and some things are boggling my mind. I have however gained a new understanding of the beauty and readability curly braces lend to properly developed code. There's an important lesson in this chapter, I don't want it to escape, I'll comeback to this thought later...

Right now, I'm up late because I got home from work, ate a snack, and got to work telling my wife I love her in a way that makes sense to her. At least I'm trying to do that. I want to speak my love into my actions every day. It's not always comfortable, but it is often rewarding.

There's aspects of my job I love, and others I don't love. I try to adapt every shift to what's demanded of me, and to learn some tidbit that will make my job easier. What I learned tonight: If someone is determined to do as little work as possible, they're not checking to see if they make mistakes.
We'll see how that goes Monday.

I'm going to bed.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Just When Somethings Start Going Right....

Other things start going better, and the first thing you were working on starts getting put off.

I've got about half a post written for the W3EDP antenna. Usually I get an article done sometime during the month of May about the W3EDP, but I don't think it will be ready by tomorrow. Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary, so I think blogging will be low on the priority list of things to do. I'll get it done during June, before Field Day, because hey, the W3EDP would make an awesome last minute field day antenna for someone out there, and they'll need to know how to make it, and how other people have used them. I have, however, been fairly radio-active recently, last week, I had two days of QSOs, and I had 7 total QSOs, this week I haven't been as active, but that's because something has been consuming all my time.

I've been studying C# like mad, preparing for an interview to be held this Thursday. As of right now, I'm in virgin territory in my book, covering things I didn't get to when I first picked this up back in February. If I win this job, I'll have most evenings and weekends off. I'll be salaried, but hopefully making more money than I am now.

We shall see.

Other news:
Everyone in my family has been sick in May, and Murphy's law is in full effect. I'm kind of sick of May as a result. I've got two kids with strep, one with stomach troubles, and the baby had a cold. My wife had some issues, and is battling a head thing, as am I. Even the family vehicle has been sick, we blew a tire out and it will need to be replaced. Fortunately, it was one that was due to be replaced anyway.
The house next door, where I took the pictures of the Tillandsias got renovated. The poor house needed it, and the new owners worked hard on it. One negative though, is that the limbs that grew most of the T. setacea were removed. Because it is the least common bromeliad on my street, it made me sad. However, there are other colonies on the street, and I'm sure it will be fine.

With school winding down, sickness, and new job opportunities, May has been an interesting time. June could be even more interesting.

I'll make sure to keep both eyes open.