Saturday, January 21, 2006

Radios of the species “boatus anchorus” 

If you are like me you are old enough to remember when radios “glowed in the dark”. I have many fond memories of working on and using those radios with the glowing glass bottles in them lovingly referred to by their fans as “boat anchors” . There are some advantages to the new solid state rigs that don't require you to poke around among test points with several hundred volts on them. Remember when one of the first things you learned was “safety first” one hand with the meter probe and one hand in your pocket? And make sure you were not standing on a conductive surface, or in water!

One of my first ham band only receivers was a Hammarlund HQ-110AC and I just couldn't believe how much better it was than my older general coverage short wave receives like my Hallicrafters S-38E. Hammarlund was legendary for their ham band only and general coverage receivers in the 50's and 60's along with a number of other names that have faded into history. If I had been aware of the fact that the also made transmitters I had forgotten about it until recently.

My friend Paul, KB3LZP, has made a hobby of keeping these vintage radios alive and well. So when I overheard him on a local two meter repeater talking about restoring a Hammarlund transmitter I just had to check it out. Talk a look and see if this image as well as others on Paul's web site invoke fond memories for you also.

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Have you checked out TWIT? 

As regular readers know I have become enamored with Pod Casting. If you have not yet joined the Pod Cast revolution you need to jump into it with both feet! There is a ton of interesting content out there on the Internet covering just about any topic you can think of. If like me your interests extends to all things computer and electronic you will find This Week In Tech, or “twit”, one of the best offerings out there. Hosted by Leo Laporte, see LeoVille for additional information, it is great for keeping up with what is new out there in the world of technology. Good stuff! Check it out.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Radio mods galore 

I think I have mentioned this site before but if you have never visited ModsDK you are missing out on one of the Internet's best resources for those that like to tinker with their radios. I was reminded about it by a posting in one of the mailing lists to which I subscribe dealing with Yaesu radios. Check it out I think you will like what you find. Link to ModsDK

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Editorial: Playing catch-up / The county's 911 system is progress, sort of 

This is a topic that we have discussed a number of times on the Sunday evening scanner net. I was somewhat disappointed that the editorial writer did not offer any pointers to possible solutions to the problem. The criticisms are right on the money and given the area's history not that hard to see and point out. Problems however still exists because of the round about way the solution was arrived at with some of the core issues never being addressed.

I would like to see the entire county divided into quadrants, six at the most preferably less, each with its own call center and radio dispatching point. There should be a single uniform radio system with everyone on the same band. It doesn't have to be a trunked system and I would prefer that it was not. What I would like to see is county government seek out competent and knowledgeable people who understand the technical requirements of their communications needs that will work up a plan based on sound engineering practices. I don't hold out much hope that will be the case but one can wish.

So here is what the editorial page of the Post Gazette had to say about Allegheny County's 911 system.

Editorial: Playing catch-up / The county's 911 system is progress, sort of
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In 2006, Allegheny County has finally joined the 1990s. The county this week is moving emergency dispatchers out of the last of its regional dispatch centers, the final step in consolidating to one countywide 911 system.
That is certainly a good thing, promising both improved service and increased efficiency. But given that it's 69 years since Britain debuted its "999" system, 38 years since the first 911 call placed in the United States, 24 years since Minneapolis-St. Paul launched a seven-county enhanced 911 system, 20 years since Allegheny County proposed a consolidated system and 16 years since the state began providing funding for countywide systems -- excuse us if our enthusiasm seems a bit faint.
The delay comes courtesy of our feudal system of 130 municipal nation-states. Local cities, boroughs and townships resisted when the county first proposed a centralized system in 1986, refused to bend when the state got involved in 1990, then achieved an ironic watershed in 1996, when 14 municipalities finally got together -- not to back consolidation -- but to sue to block the county's attempt to force them to share six dispatch centers.

To read the entire story follow this LINK.

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Local club spreading the word on Amateur Radio 

There are a number of amateur radio clubs in the Pittsburgh area all of which are active and server their members well. One however currently stands out for getting the word out to the general public about our hobby and the service that it provides when called upon.

Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington founded in 1960 has a long history of service to the community in a variety of ways. Over the last few years under the leadership of Bob Baston, WC3O, and others the club has seen a growth in membership and a number of improvements at the clubs facilities on Turkey Ridge Road.

In addition largely though Bob's efforts the club has gotten a lot of positive publicity in the local new media especially local news papers. Here is a link to the latest article about the club published in the Valley News Dispatch a Tribune Review paper. LINK TO SKYVIEW STORY

While the ARRL does a good job of representing the hobby in Washington DC it is the local clubs like Skyview that make up the grass roots efforts so vital to the continued growth of amateur radio. Please visit the clubs web site if you would like to learn more about them and tell a friend. Skyview offers a number of classes and activities for young and old alike. If you know someone who is interested in our pass time this could be their gateway into the hobby.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Sunday evening scanner net 

My thanks to Rich, K3RWN, for taking net control for the Sunday evening net last night. I'm still battling some problems from my bout with the flu and could not check in. If you missed the net it is available in Pod Cast form for your listening pleasure and edification. Hope to be back with all of you on next weeks net.


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The HF bands were in pretty good shape today 

Well between writing blog entries today I managed to make a few contacts on HF. I had a nice QSO on 17 meters and checked into the Maritime Net on 20 meters. I got good signal and audio reports on both bands. I realize that most of that has to do with band conditions since I'm using a less than optimal antenna set up and running only 100 watts. Still it tells me that the band are coming back after the lull in the sun spot cycle and there are better days ahead for those that like to chat with old friends and make new ones both near and far.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Upgrade of the main computer in the ham shack 

Well the upgrade to SuSe version 10.0 is just about complete. I have backed up my data files and then did a “clean” install of the new version. Then I restored my data and am currently working on all of the little “teaks” and configuration files for the various applications. There is a new version of the Thunderbird mail client available so I downloaded that and upgraded it as well. As with my laptop system so far I am VERY pleased with the latest offering from the Open SuSe site. After I put the system through its paces I will let you know if any problems arise. If you don't have Linux in your shack yet you should consider it.

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