Thursday, July 22, 2004

Time for a change 

If you are reading this you know that I started this blog a few months ago and have tried to keep it active. I am still relatively new to bloging and have been looking at other software to implement the function. As you know I am a fan of Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, who writes the "Surfin' " column for QST and the ARRL web site. In a recent article he showcased a new web site called Hamblog (http://hamblog.com) which much like QTH.com and QSL.net sites are run by amateurs more or less because they enjoy doing it. In this case it is Charles Brabham, N5PVL, who created Hamblog. In the process he and the others provide a valuable service to the ham radio community. In the case of QTH.com they provide free and low cost web sites if they are dedicated to amateur radio activity. QSL.net provides a number of mailing reflectors on practically every topic you could envision related to the hobby.

I visited the Hamblog site after reading the column and it short order set up a blog for WA3FKG. It really isn't all that hard to do and if you would like to put your two cents worth out there into the either for all to see you should give it a try. Start off by reading Stan's excellent columns on bloging. The first was published on the ARRL site in April of this year. The second this month just a week or two ago. Here are the url's for those two columns.



Once you have read these you will have the background information on the subject. Now the point of this message is that I don't really see the need to maintain two blogs. It would not be that much additional effort with "cut and paste" but I don't really see the need. Since the Hamblog site is specifically radio oriented and I like their interface much better I plan to make it home so to speak. I will stop updating this site as of today and after a month or so I may delete it entirely. As always comments are welcome and I hope to hear you Sunday on the net.

I just noticed that Blogspot has been working on their user interface. You can now upload an image file to your blog and it looks like they have made some other neat changes. Such is life. Perhaps if Linux becomes a large topic on the blog I will use this one for that area of interest.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Television show of interest to scanner listeners 

There is a new series starting this evening on the FX channel called "Rescue Me". It will be based on a group of NYFD firefighters and while a fictional drama along the lines of "Third Watch" it looks like it has potential. The stand up comedian Dennis Leary who I happen to think is a pretty fair actor will play the main character. He was one of the main people behind getting the show produced and on the air. He had a brother who was a New York City firefighter that was killed in the line of duty in 1999 and has been working on the concept of the show since then.

Here is a link to a review of the show and a quote from Leary.


"After 9/11, so many politicians — including the president — were lining up to put their arm around the FDNY and making promises," Leary says. "But these guys still don't have a contract. Then here comes the 9/11 Commission, pointing fingers at the heads of the department because the radios didn't work. Well, the radios didn't work in 1993 and 1999 and 2001 — it's a joke. The firefighters know it. That's a battle they've been facing for a long time. It's unfortunate, but it's true. But they still go into the fires.

"These are New York guys who hate to be looked at as heroes but are dedicated to what they do. They'll be pleased to have us let people know that they're human beings, that it's a tough job and they don't do it for the money. A big part of doing the job is busting balls, and laughing in the darkest situations because you'd lose your mind if you didn't."

Note the reference to radios and the communications system. Unfortunately this is not a network television show so you will have to have satellite or cable to see it. Again, it is on the FX channel and premiers at 10:00 PM this evening.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Notes from the Scanner Net of July 18th 

Notes form the scanner net of 18 – July - 2004

We had twenty four (24) stations check into the net this week including the net control

My thanks again to all the stations that check into and contribute to the net each week. It
is you guys that make the net go and make it worthwhile. Here is a brief synopsis of
what we covered this week.


Looking for net control stations

First let me preface these remarks by telling you that in no way am I getting tired of
doing the net each week. I enjoy doing the net as you can probably tell by my
enthusiasm for it. I enjoy doing it now as much as when I started the net almost two
years ago now.

I do take a little good-natured ribbing from my lovely roommate Linda from time to time
about OUR schedule revolving around the net on Sunday evenings. Being the kind soul
and excellent wife that she is though she understands how much I enjoy my amateur
radio hobby and that I do indeed enjoy the various nets that take place during the week. I
may be straining things just a bit once I get some HF antennas up though. ?

There are times I will admit when it would be convenient if I knew there was someone
else in the wings that could pick up the net if I had something else on the agenda. I also
am looking forward to my first grand child latter this month and I'm sure that is going to
alter my schedule somewhat. At least I hope it will. I can't wait to baby sit, spoil the kid
rotten and then give him or her back to Mom and Dad! ?

Further I would like others to become more involved in the net and get to be better
known by the group. Take a chance you will find it can be a lot of fun. Duncan,
KF6YYT, has already volunteered to take a shot at it and so you will be hearing him as
net control in one of upcoming nets. Give it some thought.


Meeting of the Oblong Table

We had another meeting of the Oblong Table on Wednesday the 14th after much
confusion on the part of your net control station. I won't rehash that story again. I
believe we had eight in attendance and had a good exchange of information as usual.
Frank Stroncek brought copies of his well-detailed frequency list and handed them out to
the group. We talked about the Radio Shack PRO-96 portable scanner of which there
were two on hand. I just have a feeling there are one of those radios in my future. All I
have to do at this point is convince Linda they were on sale at the shack for $29.95. ?
About the only thing of interest to come out of the meeting about the new monitoring
club is that not everyone is happy with the new name. So, I am going to give it another
round, sorry Craig, to see if we can some up with something that starts out with Western
Pennsylvania or WPA has "monitoring association" in the title and makes some neat
sounding acronym. Put on your thinking caps gang. We will have another meeting
coming up next month on Wednesday August 4th so mark your calendars.


New BC-898T page

From the Strong Signals web site comes this tidbit of information.

Web Site News

Uniden BC898T Page
Posted on 07/17/2004 06:42 EDT

Our thanks to Dave McCormick, K9DV, for pointing out the latest addition to
Uniden's web site...
LINK: Uniden BC898T page

This will replace the venerable BC-895XLT one of the better scanners to come out
of the Uniden shop in my humble opinion. Check it out. If you are considering a
scanner for your desktop this should be one of the ones on the short list. If you have
the room it also make a nice mobile unit.

Upcoming meeting of the South Western Pennsylvania Packet Group
Mark your calendars. The net meeting of the SWPPG will be on Saturday morning
August 28th at the Blue Flame restaurant on Rt. 51 just south of Century Three Mall.
I attended the last meeting and it was well worth the time and effort. I think packet
radio offers some unique opportunities for this group and has a lot of potential. Plan
to make it if you can. More details at a latter time.

Where to get a broke scanner repaired?

One of the topics on the net this week was where to take your scanner when
something happens that lets some of the smoke out of the components and they cease
to function. You do know that all electronic equipment is smoke powered don't
you? It works fine until something happens that lest the smoke get out of some of
the parts. Then you have to either figure a way to put the smoke back in or replace
the parts. Usually the latter is much easier to accomplish than the former.
I found two local and one mail order place for scanner repairs for the net. On the
local scene there is Whiteside Electronics. Jack Whiteside has been in the business
since people were listening to spark gap transmitters with their Bearcat scanners. I
have dealt with Jack on several occasions and he has always done right by me. So if
you are looking for new or used equipment stop in and see Jack and tell him that the
Pittsburgh Area Scanner Net referred you to him.

Whiteside Electronics
6415 Saltsburg Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15235
(412) 793-6667

Also on the local scene our very own Duncan MacGregor aka KF6YYT does scanner and
radio repairs as a sideline and would be more than willing to take a look at any
malfunctioning equipment that you have. I don't have a phone number handy for Duncan
but if you want to get in contact with him just drop me a note and I will put the tow of you
together. Duncan is located in Springdale north of exit 48 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
If you would prefer to deal with someone over the Internet a shop that come highly
recommended to me it G & G Communications. They are located in New York and sell and
service both new and used equipment. If you go to their web page
(http://www.iinc.com/ggcomm/) and check out the repair section you will find a
comprehensive list of radios that they will service. They will also tell you which models they
will no longer take in because parts availability. I was getting ready to ship an old Uniden
BC-200 off to them for replacement of some surface mount components but I think I will give
Jack or Duncan first crack at it. If you know of anyone who does good repair work locally
please let me know and I will add them to my list.

What is a Maxon Rectangle antenna?

One of our inquires on this weeks net wanted to know if I knew anything about the Maxon
Rectangle antennas. I had to admit that I did not but Bob, N3DOK, came to the rescue
describing the antenna and telling us about a very good book that covers the underlying
technology of the design. He said that the math was a little deep but that it was a good read
if you are interested in antennas. Sorry I didn't get the title of the book but I'm sure after he
reads this Bob will pass the title and ISBN number along to me or give it to us on next weeks
net. In the meantime here is a good resource on the Internet if you would like to learn more
about this unique antenna design.
Give it a look; I think you will find it interesting.

Frequencies of the week

Last but not least here are some frequency contributions from the net this week.

Thanks to Chris, NM3M, for his usual through scrubbing of the RF spectrum looking for
interesting places to tune your scanner. Chris informs us that these two frequencies were
active this past week in the aircraft band.
384.700 AM
This one appears to be military and provided some interesting chatter.

123.825 AM
Aircraft where heard on this frequency calling "Potomac approach" and Chris hasn't
quite pined down where that is at this time. If you hear activity on these channels
please let Chris, and the rest of us for that matter, know.

Rich, K3RWN, says that he has been hearing some interesting air traffic on 139.550
with AM modulation. Punch it in and let us know what you hear on the band.
Rich also noted that he has put together several files for the PRO-96 digital scanner
with Pittsburgh area frequencies. If you have a PRO-96, you lucky dog, let Rich
know and he will be more that willing to share the wealth. This is another thing that
we as a group can do for our mutual benefit. Thanks to both Rich and Chris for their


Well that about wraps it up for this week. I hope to hear all of you next week when
the Pittsburgh Area Scanner net meets on the air once again.

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