Thursday, December 1, 2011


Picket, AD4S, and the other band of NoGANauts can often be heard at NoGA meetings and on the NoGA net saying "I'm HTMF!" Having Too Much Fun! :D

A lot happened in November, and I'm writing a longer article about it. until I finish it, here's a sample of what's happened:
1. I fixed a radio.
2. I completed a radio.
3. New Antenna up! (tonite it was a source of HTMF)
4. DX is HOPPIN' on 40m, sample of calls I've worked,
ZS3Y (on 20m AT NIGHT! w my "newest" antenna.)
Just a sample folks, just a tiny sample of what's been going on.
There will be pics!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Your Health!

Recently several things have converged in my thinking on life, society, The Way Things Are, and the Way Things Should Be.
1.  Through the efforts of my beautiful, loving, caring, sensitive, knowing, wise, and hott wife, I am discovering something I've known for a long time.  The "food" I have been eating is killing me.  This includes Doritos and ice cream.
2.  I have been watching the economy lately, here and abroad.  Several things are converging which lead me to believe that we live in interesting times.  I think primarily, it's an issue of democracy.  We live in an era of democritized media, democritized entertainment, and democritized government. People everywhere are showing a lack of discernment.  If people lack discernment, they will give their power to one who will sieze by force whatever the selfish want.  Caesar is not dead. He waits.
3.  My kids are growing.  I want them to be useful.  I want them to know how to make things, to be unafraid in making them, and to know that what they do is for the good of a Kingdom, and not for just themselves.
4.  I am meant to be stronger than I am.

I've talked before about inertia being my enemy.  I've made bracelets to fight inertia, read books, expanded my mind, exercized logic, and now it is time to exercize my body.
I'm changing my regular diet.
I'm reading more of my Bible, and watching less entertainment, and more informational TV (If TV can properly convey information, whole nother subject for a whole nother time.
But most importantly I'm exercizing my body.
A little at a time.
A little more some days, a little less others.

It's slow.
Mainly, right now, I am working on a solution to the problem, not a solution to the symptoms.
Make sense?
Lassiez les bon temps roulez!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

I palindrome myself. I desire to be a palindrome at least, the same forwards and back. 

I'm coming up on the end of the week, my youngest child's birthday is today, my parents and Grandmother are coming to town, and I am in the middle of taking a thorough inventory of my diet choices.

There's a lot of stress here.
Fortunately, I can see the synergy of all that I have going on right now.  I view my children aging as a milestone to be celebrated both for them, and a gut check for me, I always ask myself  "How is my child better prepared for handling the world, and their roll in it now versus a year ago?"
My parents will be here.  I don't get to see them as much as I like.  I'm glad they like looking at my kids :)
My Grandmother has had an interesting life.  This will be the first time she's been to my place, and I'm glad to see her.  I really wanted to be in Louisiana this year for the 4th of July family reunion my family hosts at Possum Hollow (pronounced, poss'm holla) every year.  Next year, I will make it a point to be there.

My diet stinks.  It is improving.
nuff said about that.

Back to the youngun'.
She's a great kid.  All my kids are great in their own way.  The Youngest is great because of the smile she wears.  It's almost always there.  She's a real people lover too.  I hope I can help develop that in her. I want to help her be someone who can reach out and heal. One day she'll do great things with her smile and winsomeness.
God Bless you Today Grace!
Be a Palindrome. The same forwards and back.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Modeling Antennas Using XNEC2C

So, being a linux guy, I get a little sad when people talk about how great EZ-NEC is.  It's not ported to run in a *NIX environment, and there's been mixed results using wine or virtual box.  I seriously do my best to not run non-native binaries on my computers, it's not natural, it just feels like a chimera. When W7EL releases a linux version, I'll try it out.  As a result I've been playing around with XNEC2C.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's ok, though, I'm learning, and so far, the learning is fun.  I picked up XNEC2C a few years ago, and thought I had it figured out.  Turns out the only thing I was doing right was drawing the pictures :) I still have to figure out how to properly model feedlines, feedpoints, and ground.  I also have to decide how particularly involved I want to get the modeling.  I usually use trees for my antennna supports.  Can the NEC2 Code handle trees? Can they be modeled? What about my neighbors metal roof?  I'm pretty sure it's doing something strange with my radiation pattern.
I can see myself getting obsessed about modeling my QTH.  How do I represent the patio, or the swingset?
It could easily get crazy, quick.
Of course I could just set everything up ideally...
"Oh what's that honey?"
"It's a model of a kite I want to fly at the beach."
"Sounds like fun!"
"Yeah, I think the kids would enjoy it"
In the meantime, I now have a reason to build a 9' tall Scott Sled!

That would sooooooo work!

Here are some pics of what I've learned so far

 W3EDP, series of pics:
W3EDP from the top, antenna running left to right

W3EDP from the side, antenna running left to right.
W3EDP from the edge, feed point is on the far end.

I tried to model the antenna like I would deploy it.  Imagine the antenna going up, as high as the end of the 'counterpoise' and then out over a branch, and slanted back toward the ground.  The section made from the 450 ohm ladder line could be supported by a collapsible fishing pole or something like that.

Click here to get the nec file, and check my data.  Copy the text, and save the file as Then you should be able to use some antenna modelling program to view it.
Let me know how it works!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Telos - The End

I have had what I would consider an interesting life.  Born into a Navy family full of travellers, I've had many opportunities to meet different people, experience different parts of the country and see different parts of the world.  One of my biggest desires in life is to share the connections I see between seemingly disconnected pieces of the puzzle known as "Earth" and "Life".  I believe in a God who has done, will do, and is doing strange things in an effort to help us see these connections too.  We all play a small part in something I've known as "Telos" or "The End" end meaning not a stopping point, but a purpose.  For a while I've seen myself in a role that has made me the proclaimer of "The Telos", a herald of the way, something most people refer to as 'preacher' or 'evangelist'.  I've spent hours preparing material that basically says the same thing over and over again:
0.  The Universe is apart from God, contrary to His Telos because humanity has made a Telos for itself despite the fact our knowledge of the implication of our self made Telos is limited, incomplete, and contrary to what has already been proclaimed.
1.  God Himself has made a Way of reconciliation and restoration to Him.
2.  Without that Way, you will not see His Telos in this 'Earth'
3.  This Way is through and along side of His Son Jesus, whom He sent as Himself in the flesh
4.  Your role in "The Telos" can only be realized as you walk the Way God has/will/is providing.

As I see it, ever sermon you hear will be about one of those five points. 
I could be wrong, but that's what I see.  Usually, when I preach, I try to combine points 1, 2, 3. I want to leave you walking along the Way. Point 4 takes the longest to workout, and accept because you will constantly be realizing your role in the Telos until the Telos is realized. Point 0 is obvious when observing the 'evil in the world', and overarches, influences, sometimes contradicts, sometimes reinforces each of the other points.

I want to help you understand that God's purpose for you is for Him and you to mold your self-made Telos into His Telos, to follow that Telos to it's finality, and to rejoice in the acceptance of its rewards.  

EDIT: I've seen Telos spelled Telos, Telios, and Teleos. I don't understand there to be any differences between them all, just  understand I am refering to The End of the Process in it's most generic consideration.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Amateur Radio and Irene

Irene is a big wet cold monster bearing down on the Carolinas, right now the storm is still on the way, and almost upon them.
If you are a shortwave listener and your radio can do upper or lower sideband, you should checkout the following frequencies:

Hurricane Frequency Listings

   (Unless otherwise noted, times are UTC, freq in kHz)

   Government, NGO & Military frequencies

   02670.0 USB USCG wx Cape Hatteras NC (0133 1303)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx Fort Macon NC (0103 1233)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx Eastern Shore VA (0233 1403)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx Hampton Roads VA (0203 1333)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx San Francisco (0203 1403)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx Los Angeles/Long Beach CA (1303 2103)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx Honolulu (0903 2103)
   02670.0 USB USCG wx Marianas Section Guam (0705 2205)
   02802.4 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-91)
   03171.4 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-92)
   04426.0 USB USCG wx NMN Portsmouth (0330 0500 0930)
   04426.0 USB USCG wx NMC San Francisco (0430 1030)
   04724.0 USB GHFS
   05136.4 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-93)
   05141.4 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-94)
   05211.0 USB FEMA
   05236.0 USB SHARES Coordination Network (nationwide HF voice
   06501.0 USB USCG wx NMN Portsmouth (0330 0500 0930 1130 1600
   2200 2330)
   06501.0 USB USCG wx NMO Honolulu (0600 1200)
   06501.0 USB USCG wx Marianas Section Guam (0930 1530)
   06712.0 USB USAF GHFS SAR
   06739.0 USB GHFS
   06859.5 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-95)
   07507.0 USB USN/USCG hurricane net (pri)
   07508.5 USB FAA Caribbean hurricane net
   07550.5 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-96 - primary)
   07698.5 USB American Red Cross Disaster (F-97)
   08764.0 USB USCG wx NMN Portsmouth (0330 0500 0930 1130 1600
   1730 2200 2330)
   08764.0 USB USCG wx NMC San Francisco (0430 1030 1630 2230)
   08764.0 USB USCG wx NMO Honolulu (0000 0600 1200 1800)
   08992.0 USB GHFS
   09380.0 USB USN/USCG hurricane net (sec)
   10493.0 USB FEMA
   11175.0 USB GHFS
   13089.0 USB USCG wx NMN Portsmouth (1130 1600 1730 2200 2330)
   13089.0 USB USCG wx NMC San Francisco (0430 1030 1630 2230)
   13089.0 USB USCG wx NMO Honolulu (0000 1800)
   13089.0 USB USCG wx Marianas Section Guam (0300 2130)
   13200.0 USB GHFS
   13510.0 USB Pictures from CFH Halifax (1000-2200)
   14396.5 USB SHARES Coordination Network (nationwide HF voice
   15016.0 USB GHFS
   17314.0 USB USCG wx from NMN Portsmouth (1730)
   17314.0 USB USCG wx from NMC San Francisco (1630 2230)

   Amateur Radio HF Emergency Hurricane Nets

   01984.0 LSB Virgin Islands (VI, Puerto Rico, Lesser Antilles)
   03710.0 LSB Puerto Rico
   03808.0 LSB Caribbean Wx (1030)
   03815.0 LSB Antigua/Antilles Emergency and Weather
   03815.0 LSB Inter-island (continuous watch)
   03818.0 LSB Antigua/Antilles
   03845.0 LSB Gulf Coast West Hurricane
   03862.5 LSB Mississippi Section Traffic
   03865.0 LSB West Virginia Emergency
   03873.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
   03873.0 LSB Louisiana ARES Emergency (night)
   03873.0 LSB Texas ARES Emergency (night)
   03873.0 LSB Mississippi ARES Emergency
   03905.0 LSB Pacific ARES (Hawaii)
   03905.0 LSB Delaware Emergency
   03907.0 LSB Carolina Coast Emergency
   03910.0 LSB Mississippi ARES
   03910.0 LSB Louisiana Traffic
   03910.0 LSB Virginia Emergency, Alpha (ARES/RACES)
   03913.0 LSB New York State Emergency
   03915.0 LSB South Carolina SSB NTS
   03915.0 LSB Massachusetts/Rhode Island Emergency
   03917.0 LSB Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency
   03920.0 LSB Maryland Emergency
   03923.0 LSB Mississippi ARES
   03923.0 LSB North Carolina ARES Emergency (Tar Heel)
   03925.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
   03925.0 LSB New York State Emergency
   03925.0 LSB Louisiana Emergency (altn)
   03927.0 LSB North Carolina ARES (health & welfare)
   03925.0 LSB Southwest Traffic (altn)
   03935.0 LSB Belize
   03935.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
   03935.0 LSB Louisiana ARES (health & welfare)
   03935.0 LSB Texas ARES (health & welfare)
   03935.0 LSB Mississippi ARES (health & welfare)
   03935.0 LSB Alabama Emergency
   03937.0 LSB Western Massachusetts ARES
   03940.0 LSB Southern Florida Emergency
   03947.0 LSB Virginia Emergency, Bravo (health & welfare)
   03950.0 LSB Hurricane Watch (Amateur-to-National Hurricane
   Center) (altn)
   03950.0 LSB Northern Florida Emergency
   03955.0 LSB South Texas Emergency
   03960.0 LSB Northeast Coast Hurricane
   03965.0 LSB Alabama Emergency (altn)
   03965.0 LSB Connecticut Emergency
   03967.0 LSB Gulf Coast (outgoing traffic)
   03970.0 LSB New Jersey ARES
   03975.0 LSB Georgia ARES
   03975.0 LSB Texas RACES
   03980.0 LSB Southeast Virginia ARES
   03987.5 LSB Mexican National
   03990.5 LSB New Jersey RACES
   03993.0 LSB New York State RACES
   03993.5 LSB Gulf Coast (health & welfare)
   03993.5 LSB South Carolina ARES/RACES Emergency
   03995.0 LSB Gulf Coast Wx
   03995.0 LSB Western New York State Coordination
   07055.0 LSB El Grupo Seguimiento de Huracanes (Spanish)
   07060.0 LSB Mexican (emergency and health & welfare) (Spanish)
   07070.0 LSB Manana (Baja California)
   07090.0 LSB Central America Emergency
   07145.0 LSB Bermuda
   07165.0 LSB Antigua/Antilles Emergency and Weather
   07165.0 LSB Inter-island 40-meter (continuous watch)
   07225.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
   07230.0 LSB New York State Emergency
   07230.0 LSB Southwest Traffic
   07232.0 LSB North Carolina ARES Emergency (Tar Heel) (altn)
   07235.0 LSB Louisiana Emergency
   07235.0 LSB Baja California
   07235.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
   07235.0 LSB West Virginia
   07235.0 LSB Louisiana Emergency
   07240.0 LSB American Red Cross US Gulf Coast Disaster
   07240.0 LSB Texas Emergency
   07240.0 LSB Virginia Emergency, Bravo (health & welfare)
   07242.0 LSB Southern Florida ARES Emergency (altn)
   07243.0 LSB Alabama Emergency
   07243.0 LSB South Carolina Emergency
   07245.0 LSB Southern Louisiana
   07245.0 LSB New York State RACES
   07247.5 LSB Northern Florida ARES Emergency (altn)
   07248.0 LSB Texas RACES
   07250.0 LSB Belize
   07250.0 LSB Texas Emergency
   07254.0 LSB Northern Florida Emergency
   07260.0 LSB Gulf Coast West Hurricane
   07260.0 LSB Virginia Emergency, Alpha (ARES/RACES) (altn)
   07264.0 LSB Gulf Coast (health & welfare)
   07265.0 LSB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio (SATERN)
   07268.0 LSB Bermuda
   07268.0 LSB Waterway
   07273.0 LSB Texas ARES (altn)
   07275.0 LSB Georgia ARES
   07280.0 LSB NTS Region 5
   07280.0 LSB Louisiana Emergency (altn)
   07283.0 LSB Gulf Coast (outgoing only)
   07285.0 LSB Louisiana ARES Emergency (day)
   07285.0 LSB Mississippi ARES Emergency
   07285.0 LSB Texas ARES Emergency (day)
   07290.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
   07290.0 LSB Gulf Coast Wx
   07290.0 LSB Texas ARES (health & welfare)
   07290.0 LSB Louisiana ARES (health & welfare) (day)
   07290.0 LSB Texas ARES (health & welfare)
   07290.0 LSB Mississippi ARES (health & welfare)
   07290.0 LSB Hawaii Emergency
   07290.0 LSB Traffic
   14185.0 USB Caribbean Emergency
   14200.0 USB (Please advise)
   14215.0 USB Pacific Inter-island
   14222.0 USB Health & Welfare
   14245.0 USB Health & Welfare
   14265.0 USB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio (SATERN)
   14268.0 USB Amateur Radio Readiness Group
   14275.0 USB Bermuda
   14275.0 USB International Amateur Radio
   14283.0 USB Caribus (health & welfare)
   14300.0 USB Intercontinental Traffic
   14300.0 USB Maritime Mobile Service
   14303.0 USB International Assistance & Traffic
   14313.0 USB Intercontinental Traffic (altn)
   14313.0 USB Maritime Mobile Service (altn)
   14316.0 USB Health & Welfare
   14320.0 USB Health & Welfare
   14325.0 USB Hurricane Watch (Amateur-to-National Hurricane
   14340.0 USB Louisiana (1900)
   14340.0 USB Manana (1900)
   14340.0 USB California-Hawaii
   21310.0 USB Health & Welfare (Spanish)
   21390.0 USB Inter-Americas (health & welfare)
   21400.0 USB Transatlantic Maritime
   28410.0 USB New Jersey ARES
   28450.0 USB Health & Welfare (Spanish)

   Hurricane Watch Net

   Whenever a hurricane is within 300 miles of land in the Northern Western
   Hemisphere, the Hurricane Watch Net is operational on 14325 kHz. The
   Hurricane Watch Net provides communication between the amateur radio
   W4EHW located at the National Hurricane Center, and the affected areas.

   American Radio Relay League (ARRL)

   During a communications emergency, W1AW transmits special bulletins
   hourly by voice, teleprinter and CW (Morse) according to the following
   Please note that these frequencies are in Mhz

   Voice (hh:00) 01855.0 03990.0 07290.0 14290.0 18160.0
   21390.0 28590.0

   Teleprinter (hh:15) 03625.0 07095.0 14095.0 18102.5 21095.0

   CW (hh:30) 01818.0 03581.5 07047.5 14047.5 18097.5 21067.5
Check out the action live on the air people!
Remember to keep the QRM (Man made interference) down!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Death to the Resistors!" update A

So here's the story so far,
I've got five resistors, nominally valued at 100 ohms.  I'm going to execute a plan to test their power rating.  I've learned a lot about testing standards, and resistor power ratings, probably more than I wanted to know.  Apparently there are some rigid standards, and exacting practices people go through to test and certify parts for particular applications.  Some of these tests are daunting to say the least!
Test a resistor for 10000 hours?
Meh, not going to happen for me.
That's just one of the current requirements a manufacturer has to meet for the current round of MIL-SPEC testing.
I'm not going to MIL-SPEC certify these resistors.  I am however, going to take some suggestions offered to me from the good folks on QRP-L.
From Mike WA8BXN:

Sounds like you want to do some destructive testing. How will you relate that to what should be their normal power rating?

Rather than doing a destructive test, it might be interesting to find the power that takes the resistor above its rated temperature.

Another test that would be interesting is to measure resistance after cycling power on and off. This is related to checking the next day but is different because I would run through more powered cycles.

What ever tests are done should also be done with resistors of known good quality and specifications.
Good suggestions!
I'll devise a series of tests, first thing I have to do though is rig up a test jig to measure the actual value of the resistors!  My first attempt was a bust due to 9v battery issues on my digital VOM.  Once I took care of that, I realized it can be pretty tricky to measure the values of the resistors.  They have this thing about holding still.  I don't think they like going into the holes that I stuff them in.  I'm pretty sure the hot tin/silver amalgam I apply to them upsets them too.
I've only ever had one capacitor blow up on me though... long story, but I now never apply power to a rig with the top off without first putting on my safety glasses, and yes, I had safety glasses on that time!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Death to the Resistors!

Chris, K4FH, has been gracious enough to give me 5 of his 100 ohm ebay resistors to test for their actual watt rating.
I would like to solicit comments on the criteria people would consider 'good enough' during this test.
They are marketed as 1/4 watt, 5% tolerance resistors, from ebay.  I will try to identify the manufacturer and I will try to acquire a datasheet for them.
Here's the procedure I will use to test them:
1.  measure resistance. The measurement shall consist of two readings from my elcheapo centech digital VOM; 1 taken as close to the epoxy body of the resistor as possible, and the other as close to the ends of the resistor leads as possible.  Any significant difference in measurement will be confirmed using an analog meter.  "Interesting" results will be posted to QRP-L and my blog before I do any experiments on the resistor, and that resistor will be isolated.  I will take these measurements at the following times:
   a) before doing any testing
   b) immediately before testing
   c) immediately after testing
   d) next day after testing
2.  Label resistors, Resistor 1-5, based on their resistance from measurement A, 1 being lowest, 5 being highest.  In the event of a tie, the first resistor measured gets the lower number.
3.  Test the power dissipation of the resistors.  I will probably only do one test a night over the next couple of weeks.  I usually get home from work sometime between 04:30 and 05:00 UTC, and spend about 1.5 to 2 hours 'winding down'.  I try to be in bed by 06:00/07:00 UTC (2am local time whether daylight savings or not).  That gives me about 1 hour to test resistors each night.  During the day, I watch my kids, so I won't be able to test them outside of that time frame.  Here are the tests:
    a) full bench supply for 1 hour: I'll post the exact model number and voltages read before the test, but a 100 ohm resistor across the 13.8 VDC terminals will output  1.9044 watts and draw 138 mA of current, if I done did the math right. I haven't measured the terminal voltage of the supply in a while, and this will be as good an excuse as any to figure out howthe list high quality my 10 year old supply is.  Voltage will be measured every 5 minutes during the test.  After the test, I will publish my results via QRP-L, and my blog before continuing.
    b.) I will set up a series/parallel resistance circuit.  The series part will consist of a lump parallel section, and a variable series section.  The parallel part will be 5 resistors wide, the test resistor being one of them, and is switched in and out of circuit with another resistor of equal resistance and higher power rating.  The circuit will be constructed in such a way that the total power handling of the circuit is at least 4 Watts without the inclusion of our test resistor.  Each of the tested resistor will be tested by varying the voltage available to the parallel section until the resistor fails.  When the resistor fails, it will be switched out and the 4th resistor in the circuit switched in, the voltage across the fourth resistor will be measured and used to calculate the power dissipated.

Circuit theory: because resistances in parallel share voltage and resistances in series divide voltage, it's possible to use a series/parallel circuit to produce a measurable voltage at the terminals where a test resistor is located.  This measurement can be used to record the power dissipated by the resistor at the moment of failure. 

My circuit and calculations will be published on my blog and QRP-L before testing for peer review. 
    c.) After each test I will publish my results within 12 hours of testing. 

So there you have it, Death to the Resistors!
thanks everybody!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Having Cake, and Eating it Too

Yessir, last night was the night that I was able to have my cake and eat it too, and then I was able to have my cake, and eat it too.

First, when I got home, I had cake, chocolate to be exact.  There's some left, so I'll probably have more when I get home.

Then, I had radio cake, and ate it too.
First, I gathered my antenna makin' knife, and headed out to the shack, fully intending to make a J-pole for 2m.  Then I broke out "The Killer Watt Radio", tuned around, and discovered several people already in conversation, including a M0 that was really strong.  I caught the end of the QSO, but he didn't stick around for a tail end QSO.  I did some further tuning and heard a CQ, a guy was calling CQ DX, and from his strength and lack of QSB, I thought it was a guy in the North east. 
"Let's see who he works," I thought.
Well Imagine my surprise when the call that I copied came back as G0NXA! 
"Hey, I'm the DX!" I muttered.
I couldn't resist, and had a pleasant QSO with Giles near Tewkesbury.  Thanks Giles!  After our first exchange, lightening crashes started coming in, and I was thankful that "TKWR" was hooked up to speakers and not earbuds.  Even with the RF gain reduced, it would still rattle the speakers.
With the threat of lightening in my area, we've been under the threat of showers for the last 3 days, I decided to ground my antenna, and QRT for the night, leaving me totally involved in making a 2m J-Pole.  The J-Pole was made using 'low loss' 300 ohm tv twinlead, a relic item perhaps, but one you can still get at Radio Shack.  I bought this stuff several years ago, it was on sale.  jacket and insulation is still in good shape, copper on the inside is bright. Sounds Good 2 go for me!
After testing out the dipole, and trimming to resonance for the part of the band that I wanted, I had another voice QSO via the K4LKL repeater with Rich, KJ4INW.  He was using his handie-talkie and sounded pretty good. We talked a few minutes, until it was bed time for me.

I'll have to do a review of the j-pole tonight sometime after I get home from work.  I want to check into the K4LKL net.  I built the j-pole with that net in mind, the rubber duck don't work from my desk. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nugget of RF Truth...

So last night, I honestly was trying to build a J-Pole, I even got new razors for cutting insulation off twinlead, but alas, it was not to be, several things worked together for the greater good.  I needed the J-Pole so that I can check into the ARES net tonite from work, my lil' rubberduck just ain't got the ERP* necessary to facilitate communication.  I don't have a J-Pole, but I do have a new logged contact in the log book!  Let me tell you what happened. 

It's summertime, and you know what that means, summertime thunderstorms that shatter all hopes of reasonable HF propagation below 10MHz.   Well, not exactly, not all the time. When I turned on The Killer Watt Radio**, the band was noisy, but not nearly as noisy as it's been the last few nights.  I also didn't hear a lot of activity.  That's not entirely unexpected, I mean, it's one in the morning local time on a weekday. Plus, the Space Weather Guessers were talking about some solar flares, and geomagnetic storms. Things looked like a total downer.

Then I heard a loud clear CQ, it was David, WD8CW in Huntington, WV.  His sig was strong, but there was some QSB, I decided to call him back and we had a reasonable QSO given the conditions.  After we signed, I spun the dial again, there was some digital activity, but no one was calling CQ at that point in time.  I looked at the clock, and found out it was after 2am.  time for bed!  so no atenna, but I did get a 359 from WV with a 1 watt transmission feeding a dipole during a time of crummy conditions.

That, my friends, is why I love ham radio, crazy is perfectly acceptable here.
* ERP = Effective Radiated Power
** "The Killer Watt Radio" is a Small Wonders Labs SW-40+.  It transmits 1 watt of blazing power, but it's one killer watt!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

'Nother Awesome Portable Antenna Design - The St Louis Vertical

Whereas the W3EDP is my favorite antler, this one here is probably the one I use most often when I am in the field, mainly because it's so easy to deploy.
This is an antenna I first saw at a NoGA QRP meeting in Atlanta, when I first saw it, I thought to myself "Well ain't this the Bee's Knees."
The antenna is called a St Louis Vertical, named by the St Louis QRP Society, and enshrined at the American QRP Club.
This antenna is:
  • Portable
  • Easy to build
  • Easy to find the parts to build it!
  • Cheap (!kinda, not nearly as cheap as it was!)
  • Multi band
All of which are criteria I value in a homebrew antenna design.  It's best in the 40-10 meter band range, and I have used it on 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, and 10 with good results.  There are however, some caveats, and I would like to relate to you my experiences with it.

Take a good long look at the antenna, and you will understand that it is meant to be a bottom loaded 'short' vertical.  Here's the math though:

1. Do the Math, 1/4 wave vertical on:
40m: 33.29' (7.030 MHz)
30m: 23.15' (10.106 MHz
20m: 16.64' (14.060 MHz)
17m: 12.93' (18.096 MHz)
15m: 11.11' (21.060 MHz)
12m: 9.40' (24.906 MHz)
10m: 8.34' (28.060 MHz)

The only bands that this antenna is short on are 40, and 30M!
What this means is that the antenna will actually be LONG on 20M and up.

Long antennas get funny radiation patterns, especially as the frequencies approach multiples of wavelengths. Basically what happens is the signal stops shooting out (perpendicular to the orientation of the antenna), and starts shooting up. When the antenna is horizontal, that's not an issue, but when the antenna is vertical, it basically means the signal gets shot straight up into the air. Not desirable!
One simple solution to this problem is to use a shorter wire, or leave out the bottom loading coil. It's pretty easy to take a 20' fishing pole and make a quarter-wavelength long vertical out of it for frequencies greater than 14 MHz.

What I need to do to make it better on the higher bands, is find a way to measure the inductance of the coil, and working from there calculate a whip length, and adjust. Hmmm, the coil body is so long, that I have a feeling that trying to use the time honored method of measuring the resonant frequency when paralleled with a known capacitance value could lead to screwy values.  Maybe I need to measure series resonance instead...

I'll take anyone's help here.

Another thing that is slightly buggy sometimes, and can cause you no end of trouble if you aren't aware, is that best performance is obtained when you keep the feedline off the ground.  If the feedline can dance around, then you will notice strange SWR behavior.  I suspect that there is a large amount of signal loss to the ground if the line is allowed to rest on it.  I know signals sound louder when the line is elevated in some fashion.
The St Louis Vertical, took apart, and ready for transport:

Let me explain the parts:
You see in this picture, a "Sunny Day Fishing Pole" that's the brand name I believe. It extends to twenty feet.  Wrapped around the fishing line holder on this pole is enough stranded hookup wire to go from the top end of the coil to the top end of the fishing pole, around 16 feet.  It connects via an alligator clip. The four bundles of wire are the radials for the antenna.  They are made of 3 conductor antenna rotator wire, such as you find at Radio Shack.  The radials are made by attaching all three wires to a ring terminal connector and then nipping out an inch of the individual wires at various lengths along the way, making the longest 1/4 wavelength on the lowest frequency. You should apply electrical tape where you nip the wires to keep water out of the wire, and to keep the wires from pulling apart on a snag.  These wires are cut for 40, 20, and 15 meters, but they'll work 40-10 no problem.  You're using a tuner anyway!  The long spike is used to hold the pole up.  I use a hanger on the spike to keep the pole off the ground, and to also serve as a common lug for the radials.  The feedline is 300ohm twinlead.  The black alligator clip goes to the ground side, the red alligator clip goes to the radiator side.  The banana plugs go to my antenna tuner, usually an Emtech ZM-2.  I love that little thing!

I'm going to try something different with this antenna, namely, I'm contemplating elevating the antenna in some shape or form and making a permanent  antenna out of it.  This version of the SLV is traditionally fed with twin lead so that you can use a tuner to make the antenna work.  I might just keep that feature, maybe use the more robust wireman feedline, or something.

There is another version of the SLV out there, Here's a link to a "For Sale" article about it.  It's a pretty good little antenna too, a lot of hams on the old QRP-L reflector had one back around 200-2001.  I actually bought one from a guy on QRP-L in late 2000, but had the loading coil stolen from me before I had a chance to use it.  It was right after I got my general ticket too.  I had all sorts of plans in my head about going camping with it.  I bought some aluminum ground wire to make a new coil, but haven't made the time to do that yet.  There's always a project going on at my shack!

I received this email from Dave, NF0R, the designer of the SLV.  He posted it to the QRP-L newsgroup, and I have reproduced it here with his permission:

Hello GB,

It appears you are having fun with the SLV. I enjoyed reading your comments and observations on the Blogspot over coffee. I'm retired now and have time have time to put a reply and update together this morning
I designed the SLV (1996?) to be a quick, lightweight and inexpensive vertical. It was for folks wanting to work a little portable QRP, make a few contacts and go back home. No heroics! Just enjoy radio in a portable setting without spending time finding a suitable spot for a wire antenna and still more time installing it. To that end I made it multiband with the continuous coil and a tuner to take advantage of propagation. It's no fun going out with a monoband homebrew rig and finding no signals on your band of choice. I got the idea for using the collapsible fiberglass pole from W7ZOI in Solid State Design.
Referring to your Blogspot you can use coax if you wish to avoid SWR issues associated with wet twinlead. Ditto for stiff line that tends to move around. But It's not a big deal - just tweak the tuner and gone. You can use twinax or parallel runs of RG-58 or even RG-174 if you wish. High-performance with a compromise antenna is always a bit of a battle. That said I tend to favor convenience for portable and working someone (anyone?) instead chasing
the coasts or DX.

I'm not much on elevating the twinlead feedline. As a matter if fact I may have not even tried that experiment. An elevated balanced feedline could add horizontal polarization sort of like an up & outer. But being so close to the ground I doubt it's practicality except for NVIS and prefer to rely on vertical polarization.

I have no idea what inductance the coil measures. It's really a moot point when feedling with balanced line. I filled the base of the SD-20 pole with twinlead because I had enough line in the Radio Shack package to do that. The wet thumb and/or more-is-better school of engineering if you will. It also allowed me to work 80M with the SLV a few times though I can't recommend
The W6MMA wire coil is certainly more efficient due to it's elevated location. However, that particular product is not something you can duplicate without equipment and expertise. You can duplicate it's efficiency by winding a bare wire coil on a section of a child's round float tube and slipping that on thepole. That excellent and elegantly simple design was created by N0TFI (now AE0CW). His coil is a personal favorite of mine. It's real ham radio!
Note that with any tapped multiband coil you may have to swap out upper radiators when some bands change. This is not an issue with the twinlead coil. I prefer to operate when running portable and spend as little time as possible installing and/or adjusting the antenna. My design limit for installs is five minutes tops! Lately I have been running portable with a St. Louis Micro Loop where the set-up time is thirty seconds tops or about the time it takes to walk from the car trunk to a picnic table. For that and other reasons I really enjoy fooling around with that antenna. 
If I decided to re-do the SLV today I would use N0TFI's excellent homebrew coil mounted head-high for convenience. Setting aside most mono and dual-banders today's QRP xcvrs by and large feature on-board tuners. You can get a fairly close match with taps on the coil and touch up the match with the automatic tuner so the rig sees 50 ohms.
My other option would be to homebrew a tapped air-core St. Louis Coil for the SLV which I have already done in multi-band and mono-band versions. These elevated configurations produce very efficient antennas. I also use my version of W6MMA's built-up SLV mount. It employs a pcb feedpoint disk for attaching St. Louis Radials and protects feedline
connections in wet weather.

There were no integrated tuners in commercial QRP xcvrs when the SLV was designed. Hitting tap points on a coil when portable is inconsistent The antenna was intended to be erected in any number of locations and each site is a different RF environment. Having said that there may be
some who still enjoy running back and forth between the antenna and the rig to get a low reading on the SWR bridge. For that and practical reasons I like to keep my portable vertical feedlines short - typically 12-18 feet depending on the lowest design band.

I increased the original SLV's folded radials from three to eight for better efficiency on 30M and 40M. I dropped the notching after several EE's kindly took time to explain how ground proximity affected the resonance of radials laying on the ground. Those folded radials evolved into St. Louis Radials which use ribbon cable. They put a lot of wire (metal) under the antenna which seems to be helpful judging from several field strength experiments. However,
the main reason for their existence is to minimize the hassle with single wire radials and those annoying tangling problems out in the field. Grrrr!
Being fairly supple the stranded-wire ribbon radials are much easier to store, carry and deploy than twinlead. On the trail I coil in groups of three and carry in a round rubber container in the backpack. Otherwise I gather them right below the alligator clips, lower into a cloth bag and
store in the car trunk.
I actually use 1/8th wave radials these days for my portable antennas including the St. Louis Vertical, St. Louis Vest Pocket Vertical, St. Louis Express and several more unpublished designs. These short radials work remarkably and were suggested to me by KK6MC, Jim Duffy, a.k.a. Dr. Megacycle'

I have no qualms running a 10' tall SLVPV on 30M and 40M for chasing DX or milliwatting with eight to a dozen abbreviated ribbon radials under it. For all of these portable verticals the footprint ends up being very small.
Thanks very much for your post about my old SLV. I certainly enjoyed reading it and appreciate your time and effort. I hope you find my comments helpful.
Best regards,

Dave Gauding, NF0R

Ain't this a fun hobby?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stealthy Radio Antenna.. the Gutter!

There's a lot of great things about being a HAM radio operator.
I've served the public during sporting evens, and emergencies.
I've had a lot of fun talking to people all over the world using all manners of methods of communication.
I have to say though, that thing that I like most about it is that HAM radio, no matter what aspect of the hobby you enjoy the most, is a very hands on hobby. My wife can tell you I'm always plottin' something to get another antenna in the trees, or saving for a radio to build.  Some places and people are not friendly to my hobby though.  There's entire communities that force people to live antenna free.  I refuse to own propery in such a place.  I do, however sympathize with people who do live in deed restricted, covenant restricted communites, and do my best to help others get on the air despite, or in spite of whatever restrictions they face.

A buddy of mine once lived in an apartment, and had just got his General Ticket, so he had access to the HF bands.  Apartments are notoriously antenna unfriendly, so I helped him set up his gutters as an antenna.  Let me tell you how we did it. 
If you decide to do something similar, use caution! This is for power not to exceed 100 watts.  First of all, you should never use more power than you need to communicate. Secondly, RF can and does start fires, it's how microwave ovens warm your Hotpockets.  Plus, even at 100 watts, my buddy would sometimes experience rf in his shack, or interference with the TV and telephone.  The simplest solution to this is to turn the power down.

So with that in mind, let's get our minds on the gutters.

Notice, I said, on the gutters, not in the gutter.

Gutters, if they are made of metal, can carry RF, and they can do it reasonably well, if some things are kept in mind. They basically function as a random length wire antenna, although if you have the space for it, and do a little planning and experimentation, you could possibly create a system resonant on a particular frequency. Here are the rules about using METAL gutters as antennas:

1. ELECTRICALLY connect the pieces. Most gutter pieces are either friction fitted, or connected together via a small screw. This is a mechanical connection, and is not good enough for RF. RF needs to see the pieces as one piece electrically, so there needs to be a low resistance connection between the pieces. As it stands, they are loosely electrically connected joints, and can actually act as product detectors, meaning they they are small bits of radios themselves! This results in all kinds of noise and interference on your received signal. Fortunately this is easy to fix, but it does take work. This is also good information for you to store away when you want to install a mobile radio, as you will want to electrically connect the various body panels on your vehicle.

To connect gutter pieces you will need:

  • self tapping screws (many)
  • A machine screw
  • 2 washers (for machine screw)
  • locking nut (for machine screw)
  • sandpaper
  • copper bearing conductive grease.
  • A coax pigtail, one end with an SO-239 connector, the other should have the braid and center conductor seperated for about 6-10 inches.
  • ohm meter
Sand down the contacting surfaces for each section of gutter or downspot. Make sure you can fit them together tightly, but before you do, put some conducting grease between the contacting surfaces. Secure the pieces together with at least two self tapping screws. Check the electrical continuity between the two sections of gutter/downspout with an ohm meter. There will probably be some resistance, but there shouldn't be much, and if things are wiggled a little bit, the resistance shouldn't jump around. The machine screw, washers and nut is for the feedpoint. I've always fed gutter antennas from the bottom of a downspout using a coax pigtail, one end with an SO-239 UHF connector (Same as what's on the back of most HAM/CB radios) , center of the coax going to the gutter, and braid going to a nearby grounding point of some kind, either a ground rod (worst case scenario), Radials (better), or groundrod with radials (Best option!). Sand the area, outside and inside, where you want to feed the antenna, making sure you remove all the paint on an area a little bigger than your washer. Put one washer on the inside of the downspout with the nut, and one on the outside between the screw head and the downspout. Before you snug everything up, wrap your feedline center conductor around the screw a couple of times between the washer and the downspout. Give the washers, screw, and downspout a litte conductive grease, and tighten everything up.

2. Create a good ground plane. Unless you live near the ocean, your ground plane stinks. Shooting a ground rod into the ground near the spout where you will be feeding your antenna is one thing you can do. It will at least help give you some lightening safety. Hooking some radials up to that rod would be even better. Hook up at least 4, and space them an equidistance apart out in the front. Make sure they are at least a quarter-wavelength long on your lowest frequency of operation. Because that can be 66' for frequencies in the 3.5 MHz range, you may need to get creative on where they go, and how they sprawl out. I use a hand operated sidewalk edger to make a small slit in the ground, that can be used to bury the ground radial. You'll need to find some similar way of hiding the radials. When you connect the ground braid from the coax pigtail to the ground system of the antenna, use some more of the conductive grease.

3. Did you use the conductive grease? If not go back and use it! Water makes copper corrode quicker, and copper braid readily absorbs water. Corroded copper does not conduct RF well. Because gutters are designed to carry water, it's important to try and make the connections as waterproof as possible. The conductive grease helps do that, and it helps make the electrical connection better. USING REGULAR GREASE IS NOT RECOMMENDED! regular grease will act as an electrical insulator. That's the opposite of what we want to do.

4. Run as short a line as possible from the antenna's pigtail to an antenna matching device. You may or maynot need a balun. The antenna matching device should be grounded to the same point as the antenna, although if you can't do that, don't worry. Just get it grounded.

That's how you make a gutter system into an antenna. At my buddy's apartment, we stealthily connected the pieces of a downspout together electrically, and it wasn't easy. Fortunately, the downspout could be accessed from a stairwell. He had a great time on HF with 100 watts and less, but had a better time with a stealth longwire. That's for another post though...

EDIT:  Links for other downspout antennas will go here as people get them to me!
WB3GCK's antenna

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chicken Wings & Jesus Things: Are you ready???

And here's the Gravy to go with This biscuit Thanks Jim for the inspiration! and for using Paragraphs. ;-)

Chicken Wings & Jesus Things: Are you ready???: "Ever have those moments when you weren’t prepared?   I hate those moments!   Think back to those days of test taking…you know the ones you..."

The Passage is Enough...

Communion meditation 7/31/2011

1 Corinthians Chapter 10
1 I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. "

We're either all together, or we're missing the point.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Wife Puts Up with Me, It's Why I Love Her.

Any you ladies out there married to a nerd?
My wife is married to a big ole nerd.
I like Star Trek over Star Wars,
Dr. Pepper over everything drinkable.
I watch birds. I use ruby, the language.

It's rough sometimes being married to a guy like me because I am an amateur radio operator, extra class. I've been a ham for over 11 years now, and it keeps getting more and more fun. Sometimes, it's even useful. It's rough on her because she's had to put up with me talking about W3EDP antennas, loops, J-poles, SWR, QSO,QTH,QRP, QRO, QRN, QRM, and WPM. I've built many of the radios I use, so she's listened to me drone on about VFO's, Matching networks, Final amplifiers, and block diagrams.
I think solder has a good stink. 'Nuff said?

So yep, here's to my woman! I can't seem to put the X in front of the YL when I think about her...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chicken Wings & Jesus Things: Casey Anthony and Jesus...

Gravy's take on the whole Casey Anthony thing. He says all that needs to be said from a Christian perspective. He deals with the follow up:

Chicken Wings & Jesus Things: Casey Anthony and Jesus...: "Well the verdict is in and she was found not guilty on murder charges or child abuse. I have been, like so many, watching the trial and..."

Thanks Jim!
Those words need to be said, even though a lot of us may feel bitter about the decision.
Here's what I want to say from a justice oriented perspective (Christian as my worldview is). 

The Jury's Decision is the Correct Decision.

I know many of you are angry that I would suggest such a thing, and if you want, you can reread my posts on "String Theory" and Osama bin Ladin and you will understand why as a Christian I can believe such a thing.
Let me say it again:

The Jury's Decision is the Correct Decision.

Now pause again, and reflect, then say it outloud, and let the saying of it free you from the emotion of the verdict.  We have a justice system where it is supposed to be easier for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to be imprisioned.
Yet sometimes, even the innocent are imprisioned:
'Franky" Carillo
Lathan Word
Larry Osbourne
Cornelius Dupree Jr
Just a few.... just a few.
Now I believe in the death penalty, because I believe in justice.  I am however, and equal believer in grace. 
I thank God today that I live in a country where the burden of proof is supposed to rest on the Prosecution, and not on the defense.  A purely rational society shouldn't be arranged in this manner, you do realize that right? I thank God that I live in a country where I can be judged by a jury of my peers, because while justice is blind, we certainly aren't.
If you want to mourn here, now is the time to mourn.
Please do so.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

String Theory, Bayou Rat Style...

The universe exists in spite of Inertia...
That is a blessed finger in the eye of materialism.

Inertia tears at me again.
I get to a point where I'm just doing the same things over and over again, until one day, something gets neglected, and not picked up again.
Inertia. It kills me slowly day by day. Until a week goes by, then a month, then a year, then two years, then ten years.
Inertia. I can't stand it, but then again, I can't stand not having that next Soda, or that next candy bar. Give me the sugar buzz.
Leave the mess alone, just let it be, this other mess needs cleaning first (and more often), little by little, I'm crowded out until it spills over into whatever I'm doing.
Inertia is fear.
fear is the mindkiller.
Inertia is the enemy.

How can I deal with this inertia? How can I grow?
I'm pondering my cucumber vines. They are getting long, when they get the right amount of sun, water, and nutrition, they grow well, and fast. Then, all of a sudden, one day, the vine starts to lose leaves at the bottom. The end keeps growing, but if the end stops growing, the vine dies. Death catches up.
The cucumber feels the effects of inertia.
I suppose there are several stages of growth, physical growth, mental growth, spiritual growth. The inertia of any one can carry over to the next, so I learned a new skill, one that will help me physically develop some dexterity and keep my fingers moving, one that will help me mentally by keeping my mind focused on one task while monitoring all the rest (my mind is a skattagun folks, hence the blog name) of reality, and it is one that will help me spiritually by keeping me connected to the lessons of the past, and how great lessons subtly reveal themselves to you over time.
"I'm just tyin' a square knot over and over, right over left left over right..."
Grandpa's words trailed off at the sight unfolding before me.

There was a beltbuckle, and string. Nylon string. He was making a belt, by hand. I was somewhere around 10 or 11 and my mind was fascinated by it. The belt took shape over the next week. When he was done, he gave it to me, sometimes I still wear it.
Somewhere in that is a lesson in patience. It's up to you to learn it.
Recently, his words echoed in my mind when I gained a new insight into something his son(my Daddy) told me once on the subject of knots. More specifically, it was on the subject of the hangman's noose.
We were going somewhere with some purpose in mind, and I had a bight of some small diameter unremarkable cordage in my then teenaged hands. I was trying to figure out how to tie a noose. For some reason it fascinated me, but I couldn't quite understand it. When my dad asked me what I was doing, I replied honestly that I was trying to tie a noose.

He took the cordage and quickly tied the noose, telling me something that often echos in my brain:
"Most people don't understand what they see"
wow. That's so patently obvious I couldn't appreciate the depth and beauty of the statement.
At the time, I took the advice at face value, and applied it to the knot. He gave me the proper lecture about not tying a noose with 13 loops, and about how the knot was more useful than people think, pointing out how it could be used in fishing, and other applications. Now I look upon his advice with new eyes. Most people don't understand what they see. A lot of times I don't understand what I see. I wonder if you do.

When I see something a lot of times it takes me a minute to figure out that what I'm seeing is a chance. Sometimes I see a chance to mess up, others a chance to do something great and powerful. I'm slowly training myself to see every chance as a chance to do right. I want you to think about this for a minute. Every chance you take, is a chance to do right. My friend, the grey is an illusion. There is no grey, you don't understand what you are seeing.
Every choice, every chance, is a chance to do right, and sometimes, you do wrong. You make millions of choices every week, sometimes, you get the choice right, others you get the choice wrong, and most importantly, your choices interact with the choices of others around you in a way that you cannot possible have hope of perceiving. That's what's grey, the myriad decisions viewed from afar.

When you learn that you cannot perceive the consequences of your choices beyond the nearest of futures, and most immediate of contexts, inertia cannot control you. Inertia is conquored by humbly recognizing the limit of your perception. I choose to tie knots to keep from tying myself into knots.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nibbling a Pepper...

Nibbling one of my cayennes slowly, it's very hot, and very sweet. I am pretty sure God put the cayenne on this earth to bring joy to man. This is the perfect pepper, like having spicy sweet veggie dip already in vegetable form. It's a self contained package.
Pure awesome.

Found the sweet pepper
Growing in Grandpa's Garden
Now they grow in mine

Back to my sweating, and nibbling.
My lips tingle. My heart is overjoyed...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lamish Post About Nothing.

I have a headache and am incredibly busy.
I'm busy during the day.
I'm busy at work.
I'm busy right before I go home.
I'm tired, and busy.
pretty much all the time.
and I have a headache.
so sorry I haven't posted about the omelette I made myself Friday. It was pretty good, needed more eggwhite. I'll talk about it when I put it on paper.
Until then, I definately have perspective about the parable of the seed.
Time to pull some weeds in my garden.
where to start?
Did I mention I have a headache?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Teaching Myself C.

Once upon a time, near a clothing drop box in a place far far away, I found an orphaned book, sitting lonely atop a stack of sad faced abandoned clothes and whatnot.
It's Title: Teach Yourself C: Second Edition
It was, apparently abandoned from some hapless former student's appartment, maybe a roomate had the decency to take the student's clothes/material possessions to a donation box, as opposed to merely throwing them into the garbage. For what I know, a sad mother may have dropped off her child's things after an untimely death. However it got to being there, in a box by a clothing donation drop off, I took it up, and looked it over. A smile graced my face.

I avoided The C Programming Language in Highschool. The closest I came to ever messing with it was with a one week crash course in tcsh in a systems administration class. I thought that C was too much for me. It was for the real 1337 haxx0rs. I'm just an idiot who loves Jesus, making omelettes, and (although not then) coding in Ruby...
I picked the book up even though at the time, i had no way of even compiling any code I would write. I thought to myself "Surely there is something open source for C on Windows XP" I hadn't had my 'I see the light' moment with operating systems. That was about 6 months away. At that time, my mind was absorbing a vast array of everything going on in the world. I was becoming a father soon. I still felt newly married. I had just sold my favorite radio in preparation for paying bills. My inner nerd needed a challenge. Time for me to program once again!

I never did find an open source C compiler that I liked for windows XP at that time... It did however, get me searching for something else, a way to hack around using SOMETHING, ANYTHING, which lead to me discovering "Learning to Program" by Chris Pine, and began a long love affair with ruby. Ruby lead me back to Linux, and Linux has given me the tools I need to create/compile C code.
Back to Teaching Myself C!
I've made several starts at learning what's in this book, but various things (including a class in C++ that I didn't want to get sideways in in the nuance differences between the languages) always kept me from getting past the first chapter. Well, I finally started learning it forealz, and am on Chapter 2.
Hot Dawg!
I'm having a lot of fun with this book, partly because it's old, the second edition has a copyright of 1994, and partly because programming has changed so much since Herbert Schildt first wrote this. I'll try to keep you posted on my C-Adventures, and I leave you with the following quote from the preface:

C is the most popular computer programming language in the world. The reason for this is simple: programmers like it. Once a person learns to program in C it is very uncommon for him or her to switch to another language (except, of course, by moving on to C++, C's object-oriented relative). C combines subtlety and elegance with raw power and flexibility. It is a structure language that does not confine. C also is a language that puts you, the programmer, firmly in charge. C was also created by a programmer for programmers. It is not the contrived product of a committee, bur rather the outcome of programmers seeking a better programming language.

Omelette au Fromage...

This post is not about justice,
It's about Simplicity!

Have you ever had something to eat that told you everything you needed to know in one bite? I've eaten bland, and I've eaten complex. I've eaten complex enough that it changes with every bite, but there is something to be said about something that tells you exactly what is going on when you take the first bite. This is the delightful situation known as simplicity. Saturday morning I had a wonderful adventure in simplicity. I wanted to get an omelette ready for my wife, and used what I had handy, fresh garden herbs, some "Mexican cheese" blend, and butter.
I <3 the butter!
Real butter, no margarine. Here's the run down:
mince all the herbs, but keep the basil separate from the rest. Usually I like to just kind of tear that up.
Beat the eggs with the thyme, rosemary, and sage. Set the mix up, add quarter cup shredded Mexican cheese, and shortly before folding add basil.
Fold and serve, I garnished with some basil flower sprigs to give it that bit of extra basily mintyness.
It was good!
Post rapture justice blog is coming, working on making the illustrations relevant for people who don't sleep on them streets!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gravy Speaks on Marital Holiness

James makes some straightforward comments to all men everywhere!
Heed his words my brothers!

He's there to listen, and he's one of the best at understanding what you are saying I know.

Chicken Wings & Jesus Things: Men...protect your marriage and family...: "I want to have a heart to heart with men.   Men who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.   Men who love Jesus and their family.   Chri..."

So Fresh and Clean...

Hey, PICS!
Tomato, homestead variety.

Yellow Jacket in the lettuce patch, drinking water in between catching bugs.

Fresh picked cucumbers

close up Cayenne Flower.

The cayenne bush as a whole.

Man, I love growing my own food. If you've never done this, you have no idea what you are missing!

Ate a salad today from my garden, it had fresh lettuce, basil, and cucumber in it. All grown right here at my house.

Remember this flower?

Now, it's gettin' okra in where the flower was!

Ain't that somethin'!
I can't wait till there's more to show...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"

May 21st eh?

According to some, that's when 'The Rapture' will occur. Don't know if I want to be a part of it or not to tell you the truth. I seem to remember something about the chaff being gathered and burned before the wheat. I love dispensationalists, I hope they won't be disappointed! It would be a shame for some to fall away from the faith because they have a flawed eschatology. That's the only point on the actual date of May 21st I want to make, and any further discussion will be an adventure in missing the point I will not engage in at this time.

I do think one good thing could come of all this talk about "THE End of the WORLD" Mainly, it has to do with Okra. Well not Okra directly, more to do with Okra Flowers because they are beautiful, intricate, simple, blooming reminders that life is a vapor, and we are here today, and gone tomorrow.

Some folks take pride in their ability for their floral arrangements to last. Then, you have a whole group of people who do almost anything to 'preserve' the flowers by drying them. I stand guilty of that. I got news for you and me, no flower lasts. They all wither and fade, some more quickly than others, but they will all go away. The best result we can expect from preservation is a dry, crumbly, shell of what a flower is, pressed between the pages of a book, or hung upside down over a window, or we can choose to encase it in a substance far removed from it's orignal composition, so that while it may look beautiful, it is nothing like the flower we want it to be. Shell or mockery, you won't have the flower forever.
God Knows us so well!
Isaiah 40:1-8:

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
6 A voice says, "Cry!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Ah, we are the flowers!
Here's part two of my okra flower picture: The day after I took that picture, I picked that withered blossom out of the square with the okra plant in it, and I threw it in the compost! It was already on the ground, withered up into a tube, as okra flowers do wither. Such is the fate of you and I. We will feed the worms, barring of course, great things happen before we die. Until then, Because of Adam, this body is destined for death.

God's word is forever, and it has promised us great things. God has given us a promise of a new Kingdom, a new heaven, and a new earth. We'll have permanent treasure, new bodies, and great rooms. When I think of heaven the thing that grabs me most is its PERMANENCE!

I hope you pause and think about what is temporary, and what is forever as May 21st approaches.
I hope you pause and think about what is temporary, and what is forever once it passes.
I hope you are changed by what is permanent and not changed by what changes with the passing of the day.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Quick Garden update:

Okra is in bloom!
I'm excited. Okra is one of my favorite vegetables and perhaps my favorite flower in a garden. The inside of the flower is the best!

The "Half Mexican"

I built an omelette today, inspired by quesadillas and enchilladas. I used no tomatoes, no cilantro, and no bell peppers, so it's only half mexican. I did use sour cream, 'mexican Cheese', and a habanero. The more I eat habaneros the more I realize that I haven't been giving this pepper a fair shake. On this particular go round, I noticed a distinctly sweet characteristic to the spicy suckers. Right before the heat hits you you taste something nice. I think that's the way it's supposed to be. I may start using habaneros in everything, sneaking them into dishes. Cook them a little bit, they won't be so hot.
Here's the recipe rundown:

One pinch each of fresh:

and then:
1 Tbsp Sour Cream
1/4 cup shredded 'Mexican Cheese'
3 eggs
1 habanero
1tsp butter

Clarify the butter, cut the habanero into thin strips, and discard the seeds (or save them for the interior of the omelette, if you are a little bold!). Saute the habanero in the butter. Beat the eggs, add to the pan. When the eggs firm up, add sour cream, cheese, sage, oregano and thyme. Shortly before folding the omelette, add the basil. Garnish with a little bit of basil/sage held in reserve, and a dash of Tiger Sauce to give it that last little bit of something. Enjoy!

Omelette, ready for consumption.
In the pic you can see one big chunk o' sauted habanero that I didn't cut thinly. Guess what my first bite was :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Favorite Cheap HF Antenna, The W3EDP

The station, my "Killer Watt" SW-40, Emtech ZM-2 Tuner, and W3EDP antenna, ready to play!

There's a good bit of info on the interwebs about the W3EDP:

Here's what it looks like (kinda) - but the info's a little off.
Here's some good info, but no pictures
A slew of experiences from a popular ham radio forum
Another Blog article, looks like he may have done some modeling of the antenna too!
I call mine the improved W3EDP because of some theory that I learned about end fed antennas in general, and about the W3EDP in particular.

Some time ago, on QRP-L, there was a great post about the W3EDP By W6JJZ
It was epic in my understanding, especially this part:
To understand the W3EDP, instead conceive of the short side as
one side of a feedline that's been separated or pulled apart from
the other side of the feedline.

Now in your mind move the short side so that it's parallel to the
first 17 feet of the long side and anywhere from several inches
to a foot or so away. What you have is a section of feedline.

I added the emphasis.
A W3EDP is an end-fed zep! Well, I guess you should say that a classic W3EDP is a pragmatic zep, because the matching section of line goes wherever you want, as a mislabeled "counterpoise."
To improve the design, I made a W3EDP antenna in Zepp formation. I took some 450 ohm ladder line (Wireman #553) and used it for the first part of the 85' wire, and all of the 17' wire, adjusting for velocity factor. Then I took 68' (85-17) of "Silky" antenna wire (Wireman #523) and attached it to one side of the ladder line. I put a red banana plug on the 'long' side, and a black one on the 'short' side.

The banana plugs, notice that I've added some string through the solid parts of the insulation for stress relief.

I used buttons for insulators.
you can see the button on the end, it's from old army surplus pants. They make the best insulators because they are durable, unobtrusively colored, and suitable for modification (you can make the holes bigger with a pocket knife)

When rolled up, the antenna is compact and easy to store
Ready to store.

in the box!
It goes anywhere!

That's my account of this wonderful antenna, I hope you can build one. I've used this one to talk to people all over the place. The silky wire means it bends well without kinking, you can also get good result with speakerwire, but using speakerwire means you will have to tear the wires apart. You could just make two at once, and give one to a friend!

HV FN ES 73!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gardening in a Box.

Normally, I do things a little outside the box. This time, outside the box is inside the box!

I love getting my hands dirty in good soil. I also love reminding myself of the simple truth: "If I want to live, something else must die."
That's some hard philosophy for you, and it's not what this post is about. This post is about gardening using a technique I have modified from "Square Foot Gardening" . I bought the newest book at a big box hardware store so I could start raising the food I eat instead of just going to the store. Previous attempts at gardening have only been minimally effective, I wanted to try and do something good and right, and I'm finally starting to see fruit, literally, and figuratively!

I don't wish to critique Mel Bartholomew's book Square Foot Gardening because I didn't follow his instructions exactly. I didn't build the soil he said to build (and I don't think I will), and I used slightly different materials. I didn't do anything different out of spite, or because I thought I was doing it better, I did it because I've learned to be pragmatic, especially when time is of the essence. I was already late in getting the boxes built, I feared I might become downright hasty if I neglected doing something beneficial soon! I'm glad I did things when I did them, I was able to learn some valuable lessons:
1. The thing about a raised box garden is that the magic is in the raised box! I believe that is the single most important thing I learned. Building a box, covering the bottom with a weed fabric, and controlling the soil you use to grow your plants are the things that seem to provide the greatest results. Isolate the environment to compensate for a lack.
2. Watch it like a hawk. Because your environment is isolated, you may have to make a quick reaction to what's happening in and around the soil, especially when it comes to water. When you have a raised bed, with weed fabric accross the bottom, it's hard to water too much, but it can be very easy to water too little, especially as it gets hotter. plants can't develop deep roots, so you have to compensate.
3. Have a plant support system established before you build the boxes. One of the things Mel says do, that I didn't was build a netting trellis. I couldn't find the netting, and instead of pragmatically just getting some tomato cages or stakes, I neglected to do that, and the plants quickly went willy-nilly. Bad call. I finally staked the tomatoes today, and got them off the everything. My tomato production will probably suffer as a result.

Other general notes include, the next time I do tomatoes, i will do one variety at a time, just to keep seeds pure. I will also locate some netting, because I think I could get better tomatos if I'd been training to to grow on a net instead of just staking them, staking will damage the vine. I'll do fewer plants too. Ultimately, I'd like to have a group of cherry tomatoes growing overhead. I think I could do that, and have it be awesome.

The garden is beginning to bear fruit. it's gone from this:

To This:

The tomatoes are producing tomatoes, although none have turned yet. The cucumbers are going strong, we've already had one. I've gotten basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, radishes, and various greens. I've also had a hand full of blackberries.

updates as summer and harvest progresses!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Omelette Listing on Side!

Every time I create an omelette, I will add a link to the blog article associated with the omelette to my page entitled "Grand Omelette Listaria!" so that if you want to view a particular omelette you may. I may, from time to time, also provide on that page unseen pictures, or whatnots pertaining to omelettes! Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Do Not Forget the Clamor of Your Foes..."

Psalm 74
1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
5 They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
6 And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
7 They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
9 We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
12 Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.
20 Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

I've stated before that there will come a post that talks about Justice and Judgment, today I want to share a few thoughts on a Psalm that begs God to do something about the unrighteous.

I find myself needlessly awake this morning, well not needlessly, I've got sick kids right now, and I'm not feeling too hot myself. It's been a rough day so far, and right now, it's only 7:00 AM! I read this Psalm often when I get down, for many reasons. It helps me keep perspective on a few things:
1. Vs 1-3; 10, 11: There's a difference between questioning God and asking God questions. The difference lies in the attitude of the heart. May my heart ask questions of God without questioning Him!
2. Vs 4-9: It's okay to tell God what's bothering you. You won't offend Him, or tell Him something new. When we tell God what's wrong in our hearts and mind, we make them ready for His deliverance!
3. Vs 12-17: Always remember what God has done for you. In the midst of sorrow, despair, or a lack of hope, it's most important to remember that God has already done many things for you! Name them, Thank God for them, and use them as a basis for making your faith in Him firm.
4. Vs 18-22: Once you've honestly told God what's wrong, and thanked Him for His past faithfulness, ask Him for deliverance now! It's ok to appeal to God from your heart!

Hopefully, my brief note here can encourage you. My kids are sick, and it's hard for me to take my own advice some times, so pray for me! Fortunately, they are still resting right now. I'm going to try and rest my own self.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on "The News" - Osama Bin-Laden is Dead

If you didn't hear, Osama Bin-Laden is dead.

Once upon a time I gave a sermon entitled "Do you really want it all to stop?"
Version one is on line in other places, I'll make you look for it. Revision two will appear here soon. It deals with injustice, and God's punishment for it. I've been working on it, but realized that in order to do a thorough revision, I would have to give people a basis for understanding my theology before they would understand what I was saying about "Bringing justice to this world."

So before reading this today you need to read these posts:

Then you'll be able to understand what I will briefly say about this passage:
8 Whoever plans to do evil
will be called a schemer.
9 The devising of folly is sin,
and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, "Behold, we did not know this,"
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.

19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

21 My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?
Proverbs 24:8-22

I added some boldness to a couple of verses that highlight the simple point I want to make.

Christians aren't like other people, we should have a better understanding of justice. There's two things we need to remember:1. God gives the Government the sword for a reason. 2. When the sword falls, it's not a happy time, it's just a part of the inevitability of justice coming to the unrighteous.

Every time the sword is brought is sobering news because it's a reminder that a final judgment is coming, and there are many yet who are not ready for that day!
Let's make our hearts ready for the Day of the Lord!