So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

Posted in Ham on May 1st, 2010 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

I seem to have formally ended my affiliation with the DVRA today.  This has been on the wall for some time apparently – there’s some who don’t seem to think I, or others that pay dues and help when they can, are doing enough and that we need to do more.  Of course, the problem was that when I brought in a bunch of new folks who were more than interested, eager and willing to do a lot more, they were all met with apathy and indifference, occasionally opposition.  A few times lately I’d get the snarky comments.. “Missed you at the meeting” (which I refrained from replying with, “I had a nice dinner with my family, you were not missed”) and more recently a flat-out “maybe if you showed up you’d know.”  I’m sorry, but isn’t it the dream of an organization, to which membership doesn’t cost the organization anything, to have members who send in dues and do nothing else?  What if that person sends in dues, and maintains websites, email lists, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts and more?  Apparently, it’s still not enough as some now want to mandate that people must attend other functions, or – get this – give six months notice they’ll be unable to attend, so that other suitable tasks can be set aside for them.  You have got to be fucking kidding me, I thought.  Nope, all seriousness.  Give your money, give your time (or give more money), or you’re out.  Let me think about that.. oh yeah.  Good riddance.

A copy of my “farewell” letter is below the fold, for those morbidly interested in reading it.  I really do feel bad about this, and got a bit emotional writing it.  There’s a select few who appear to be running the organization into the ground as quickly as they can, and if not for the group there’s some very fine people I never would have met.  But some folks are just hell-bent on getting things their way at all costs… I wonder how many will be left in the group when others who have no desire – or ability – to participate in mandatory events take stock of what they really get out of the club, and what downsides there are to leaving it.  I certainly couldn’t think of one.

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Chance of Showers

Posted in General, Ham on September 17th, 2007 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

This past Saturday was the baby shower.  Stephanie wasn’t too sure when it was going to be – just that it would be soon – but we had enough diversions all over the place that she didn’t know for sure that it was Saturday.  Things went smoothly, and now our living room is full of stuff.  Maybe in the next week we can move things around and find our floor again :>

On Sunday, I also checked off an item from my long-term to-do list.  Mostly, anyway.  Got the 2m groundplane antenna that I plan on using for APRS mounted on the garage peak, and the coax run from the shack out to it.  Just need to solder the end on the coax inside the house, and the project will be completed.  But when I finished up last night, I didn’t feel like doing anything more with it, so the coax just got coiled and stuck into the passthrough box for later.  Hopefully it’s tuned properly for somewhere around 144.390, and I don’t have to get back up there to retune it or anything.  Especially since I’d have to undo all the tape and lower it foot by foot to get to the antenna again.  Oh well.


Posted in Ham, House on February 11th, 2007 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

Reached another milestone this weekend.  Earlier in the week, I’d mounted the NEMA enclosure inside the shack which would serve as the coax passthrough (a way to get the coax connections into the house, without running them through the window as I had done since the antenna was first setup).  This Saturday afternoon, David (N0YMV) and I decided – almost spur-of-the-moment – that now was a good time to mount the dualbander on the house as I’d wanted to do since quite awhile ago.  I had stopped short of doing it before because I wanted the coax passthrough done first (so I could close and lock the shack window again).  But now that the box was mounted and working out, there was no excuse.  Not even the slight cold and mild wind 😛

Photos available in the gallery as usual.  Next project, mounting the 5/8 groundplane antenna for APRS on the garage peak.  Stay tuned…

APRS? Whazzat?

Posted in Ham, House on February 1st, 2007 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

For those that might be interested in APRS, here’s a bit of information. If you just want to look at pretty pictures, you can see a couple screen grabs in my gallery, or a snapshot which is updated every ~5 minutes of the live Xastir station running at home. The image on that snapshot will change not only based on what stations are nearby and heard, but also on what maps I have loaded at the time and what area I was looking at.

APRS, or Automatic Position Reporting System, is a neat thing in Amateur Radio where you connect your radio to a TNC (Terminal Node Controller, a modem for on-air use) and optionally a GPS receiver. The GPS spits out messages to the TNC to tell it where you are, and the TNC will format those messages and send them out over the air. What’s neat about this is other setups, called digipeaters (for “digital repeater”) will hear your message and echo it; since digis usually have a wide coverage area, this means your small signal can be heard for quite a ways. I’m now running this at home, using the TNC-X kit that I built a little while ago and a new Yaesu FT-2800M, which is currently hooked to my old magmount antenna sitting on the grill. Have a new 5/8 groundplane antenna which I’m going to mount on the peak of the garage, possibly this weekend – the NEMA box I’m using for passing coax in/out of the house should arrive Friday, and I hope to spend a good chunk of Saturday getting that mounted and holes drilled so the window in the shack can finally be closed all the way.

Hooray For Kitbuilding

Posted in Ham on January 24th, 2007 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

I’ve had some conversations with other hams recently, and decided that now is the time to get fully involved in APRS.  On Sunday evening I ordered a new Yaesu FT-2800 2m radio as well as the TNC-X kit with the USB option.  The TNC-X comes as a kit which you assemble, though you can also purchase an assembled and tested unit from John.  Since I used to love building electronics kits from Heathkit “back in the day,” I decided I’d save the cash and put it together myself.  The radio should arrive tomorrow, and the TNC-X is sitting on my desk at work right now – I’m debating taking up some space in one of the labs downstairs to start putting it together tonight :>

Once assembled, and combined with the radio and an old magmount antenna I already have, I hope to have a full time APRS station running at home.  Which will be nice, since right now half of my TS-2000 is being used for APRS, so not only can I free that up for other uses but I can shut it off at night when I’m done with it.  Probably sometime in the spring I’ll look at either getting a better antenna for APRS, or just a better mount for the antenna I already have (the magmount will have to come off of the grill some time…)

Morse Madness

Posted in Ham on December 24th, 2006 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

So I missed a post for yesterday.  I’ll try to do two tonight instead of just one :>

One thing is for certain, with the latest round of bitching that’s gone on in my radio club’s mailing list – proof of proficiency in understanding Morse Code has absolutely nothing to do with common sense, etiquitte or manners.  If you’re privy to the mails on the list, I’m sure you understand what I mean.  If not, ask me in a couple years.  Maybe by then I’ll be in a mood to chuckle about it – right now, all I can do is hang my head in shame that the likes of this guy are around.

One More Year

Posted in Ham on December 14th, 2006 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

Well, our radio club’s elections were this evening (actually Wednesday evening, since I’m writing this in the wee hours of Thursday morning).  Stephanie was uncontested as treasurer, and Keith uncontested as secretary.  For president we had two Davids – N0YMV and W0SNJ, and vice president was Mark N2KIV and myself.  The results came in, and N0YMV is our new president as of January and I’m remaining as vice pres.  Should be fun and interesting – I’ve been in this position for two years now (man, it doesn’t feel like it was that long) and I’ve enjoyed it, though there’s been a few times I was ready to throw in the towel.  But that comes with any organization I think, no matter what the topic – get more than a couple people involved, and politics can take over and ruin the whole thing, if you let it.

So we’ll see what the new year brings.  There’s a lot of things we both would like to do, and some of them I think are on their way to happening already.  One other good thing is that David is a new mind to the board, so I’m hoping for some new ideas as well.  Either way, there’s now a chance for the entire executive board to be in the same vehicle at the same time, which has to violate some law somewhere I’m sure.

Pine Barrens Express 2006

Posted in General, Ham on November 19th, 2006 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

Well, yesterday was a lot of fun. David N0YMV and myself left my house around 11ish, and headed down to the NJ Pine Barrens for the Pine Barrens Express Road Rally. For those that don’t know, a road rally is where the drivers have a course defined for them (a series of instructions consisting of speed, distance and what turns to make at intersections or other road information instructions, but *no map*) and have to complete the course in a certain amount of time. They leave the start point about one minute apart, and they’re timed at various checkpoints along the way. There’s also a dinner break in the middle, since the event starts around 14:30 and didn’t finish until about 22:00. David and I went down to volunteer for communications during the event, and there’s quite a bit to do – plus, you become one of the members of the checkpoint crew, watching as these vehicles go by and grabbing their time and car number to write on the list. It’s usually a lot of fun, and this year was no exception.

Edit 20061119 @ 2024UTC: Uploaded the whopping two photos I took to the gallery – find them here.

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This Space Intentionally Left Unblank

Posted in General, Ham on August 31st, 2006 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

For the last couple days, I kept trying to think of something insightful to put here.  Maybe just something quirky.  Or funny.  Or more likely than not boring.  And I couldn’t come up with any of those.  Still can’t really 😛

Last night our club had its first simplex net.  Most of the nets we have (three per month, on the Wednesdays when we don’t have a meeting) are run on repeaters – so everyone just needs to be able to get into the repeater, and they can join the net.  To liven things up, there’s one on our 2m repeater, one on our 440MHz repeater, and one on the state office of emergency management 220MHz repeater.  Since this month had 5 Wednesdays, we did one on simplex (direct person-to-person, instead of through a repeater).  Worked fairly well, was only one participant that I couldn’t hear during the net, and I don’t think I was the only one to not hear him.  Nobody complained about my signal – but with an outdoor antenna now, and running 100W into it, I doubted that anyone would complain :>

I’m pretty sure we’re going out on Sunday, and there’s a part of me that swears we had something to do on Saturday, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was.  So either I’ll remember on Saturday, or we’ll find something else to do.  There’s a handful of little things around the house that could be done, and with the school year approaching it’ll be good to do them soon or they might sit until next summer (or at least the next break we both get).  Oh yeah, Monday is a holiday too, so there’s an extra day in there… now I’ll really have to think of things to get in trouble doing.

Look Ma, No SWRs!

Posted in Ham on August 20th, 2006 by srhuston – Be the first to comment

Went down to Delaware yesterday afternoon to fuel two of my habits – one being served by Ham Radio Outlet, and the other by a store next door that sells things by the carton cheaper than in NJ or PA.  Of course, we got there at 16:28, two minutes before they closed, but I wasn’t really there to browse; I had a mission.  Asked for a soldered type N connector, but they’ve been out of them for four months.  Okay, how about a SWR meter that does 2m/440?  He asked how low in frequency I wanted it, and I admitted I’d like it to go to HF.  That one is $200.  Okay, how about just 2m/440?  That one’s $79.95.  So I bought the less expensive SX40C, made by Diamond (who coincidentally made my antenna as well).  Last question was about standoffs for mounting my antenna mast on the house.  Right now, I drove a good 2.5′ of it into the ground, and bolted it around 5′ from the ground, but I’d like another standoff near the top of the house so I could make it taller too – only problem is, the gutter sticks out more than the 4″ that the current standoff gives.  But, they didn’t have any of those either, so I’ll have to check the home improvement and hardware stores in the area I guess.

The good news is, when I got home and installed the SWR meter, I checked the antenna and have barely any reflected power, even when pushing out 100W on 2m or 440MHz.  So I guess that N connector adapter I used which I didn’t like very much is doing a good enough job.  Oh, and I’ll see if I can get some more photos uploaded today, since I haven’t been doing that much and we have a lot more done in the house now :>