Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Great pic of Zoe

I just had to share it!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More Anteena Work - Ground Rod

I was hoping to get a couple of things done on the antenna Saturday. I really only managed to do one thing, which was to put in the ground rod. As usual, I'm always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. It has been a cold February for this area, and the ground is pretty frozen. So pounding an 8 foot ground rod into the ground was a little bit of work. Still, since I want the antenna installed before March 1, I'm forging ahead. I got pictures this time, well Amy got the picture of me.

I also managed to cut several lengths of wire to use as radials. Unfortuantley I have to bury them, especially the ones in the common area. I went out last night to do that, but the ground was just to frozen to cut the little trenches required for burial. I'm not sure what I'm going to do there, there might not be enough time to do that before the DX contest, which will leave me with a rather poor performing antenna.

And finally, I started the assembly of the antenna itself, just the mounting bracket, even that I managed to solder the wrong part, good thing desoldering is pretty easy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Passed Extra Exam

Two more weeks of study was all I needed. I'm now an Extra class amateur radio operator. Not to long ago, you would have had to pass a 20 word per minute Morse code proficiency exam to get to this level. Right now, it is only 5, which I passed a while back. After Friday February 23, 2007, there will be no Morse code exams at all, for any amateur radio exam. I'm proud to say I passed the exam before that happened. I think I'll be changing my call sign as well, but before I can start that process the FCC has to update my information. Hopefully today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Twenty-Four, am I the only one?

Am I the only one that didn't recognize Jack's brother as one of the bad guys pulling the strings last season?

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Antenna Project Has Started

I've been talking about a project to buy or build and install an antenna for amateur radio HF (shortwave) frequencies for a good year now. Finally, I have officially started work on it. I've bought a vertical antenna that should be acceptable to the HOA, although I haven't discussed it with them. It arrived last week. Saturday I picked up some parts and tools from Lowes that I need to get the antenna installed.

I started the actual installation last night in the cold and dark, using an engineers hammer (4 lb short sledge hammer) to pound a 1 1/4 inch plumbers pipe about two feet into the ground. This sure would have been easier a couple of weeks ago before the ground had frozen solid. I still have to pound an 8 foot ground rod all the way into the ground, that isn't going to be fun. After that, I can actually install the antenna, although it won't work very well until I put down some radials (pieces of wire extending out from the base of the antenna). My radials will have to be buried so the kids won't get into them, and so the ones that will extend out into the common area won't be discovered. Finally, I'll have to drill a hole in the house to bring the transmission line in, I'm really not looking forward to that.

I hope to have all of this done by March 1, so I can operate the ARRL International DX contest that weekend. Oh yeah, and there are more important things that I want to do this week, like study a lot this week to pass the Extra exam, I need to work getting Zoe's room ready for her to move into, have a fine meal with Amy on Valentine's day, play with Alex & Aidan, and of course, work, but I don't really want to do that.

Friday, February 09, 2007

What doesn't Google do?

I was working on a document at home last night that I thought I might not finish and would work in during lunch at work. I decided, instead of e-mailing it to myself like I normally do, I would just load the document into Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

I was a little surprised at how much like it was like using Microsoft Word. That doesn't mean that all the fancy high end features that Word can do will work in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, but for basic document editing on any platform anywhere, it is really handy. I'll have to check the terms of use, privacy policy, & legal notices first, but I might move most or all of my word processing and document management, I can even publish documents directly to blogspot (it can publish to other blog systems as well).

I don't think I really have a use for it yet, but the spreadsheet functions seemed pretty neat, so I uploaded a spreadsheet from work just to see what it would do. Everything worked, formulas and all. Again, it was a simple spreadsheet with just a basic formula, but that is all most people need.

I haven't used it yet but it looks like these documents can be shared and worked on by more than one person. Many enterprise document management systems have a hard time doing that. Even without collaboration, the revisions feature might be a lifesaver.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Failed Extra Test

I wasn't really ready but I saw that there was a test session nearby so I went. It is a 50 question test, and you need 37 to pass, I got 35. I guess that isn't bad for not knowing a third of the material, but I'm pretty sure I got a few wrong from the chapters that I know pretty well. The final chance for me to test before the 23rd is the 17th. I should be ready by then.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Amateur Extra

I've decided that I want to pass the exam for the Extra class amateur radio license before February 23, 2007, the date where Morse code testing officially ends. I've already passed the Morse code test for the General class license, but for some reason, pride maybe, I want to have the Extra license before the end the Morse code era!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Boston Bomb Scare (If you can call it that)

Homeland Security gets out of hand sometimes. A couple of advertisers have been arrested for a creative advertising campaign. Why, because some idiot mistook this for a bomb.

The people being arrested should be the ones that are blowing this thing out of proportion, not a couple of creative dudes just doing their job.