Friday, December 28, 2007

For a special treat make sure you listen this week 

Those of you who read the blog on a regular basis know that I have become an avid listener of web casts or "podcasts". Podcasts being a term that I try to minimize since it implies that you need and Apple iPod to listen to them which you do not. Web casts are simply audio files usually recorded in the MP3 format that are available for download from various web sites. For a complete explanation see the WikiPedia entry for "Podcast".

Being an amateur radio operator I gravitate to web casts that bring news and information about one of my favorite hobbies also known as "ham radio". Of the ones available out there, and there are many, This Week In Amateur Radio is one of the best. Produced weekly by a bunch of dedicated hams in what I consider a very professional manner. I originally wrote in the blog about TWIAR in 2005 and I try to never miss an episode.

The program is played each week by other amateurs on various frequencies around the country mainly on repeaters that cover a very local geographic area. Here in Pittsburgh Dan KB3FCZ feeds This Week In Amateur Radio through the Greater Pittsburgh VHF Society repeater system each Thursday evening at 08:00 PM. (146.610 mHz) If for some reason I can't be around for Dan's broadcast I download the MP3 file from the web site and listen when it is convenient. One of the great things about podcasts, you can time shift the content so that it fits your schedule.

Now the reason that I'm bringing this topic up yet again is because I just listened to this weeks episode ( # 767 ) this evening and I enjoyed it immensely! A good deal of the time this week was dedicated to a recording of Jean Shepard discussing ham radio on his talk show broadcast by WOR of New York. For those of you who don't know of Jean Shepard was not only the author of "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" which became the impetus for the now classic movie "A Christmas Story" but was also the narrator heard though out the movie. I really enjoyed listening to the replay of that show and it brought back many memories of my own childhood. For additional information on Jean Shepard and his interesting life follow this link to an entry in Wikipedia on him. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Notes from the Scanner Net of Dec 16 2007 

Well we missed another net this past week as our regularly scheduled net control station was unable to get into the repeater and I was tied up on a project to complete one of my wife's Christmas presents. So I hope you all took advantage of the break to spend some time with your families celebrating the Christmas holiday. Be that as it may.

I had said that I would post some comments from the last net that I conducted and have been remiss to get to the keyboard until now.

One of the items discussed on the net that evening was a supplier for crystals for those older radios that might be collecting dust in the closet or your radio room. For those of you who are asking "What is a crystal" please Google "history of radio scanning" or follow this link to Wikipedia for more information on the subject.

I have a number of older crystal scanners around the house most of which have fallen into disuse because of their limitation and the falling prices of more modern equipment. I have decided that I may put some of them back into service if for no other reason than to keep the capacitors from drying out. Now that I have a good source of crystals that will be an easier task.

Robert Ott Electronics in New York seems to have just about anything you could wish for to repopulate that old crystal scanner and put it back into action. Here is a link to their web site. Be sure to mention the blog and the Pittsburgh Area Scanner net if you call to order.

Scanner Crystals Available

The other item brought up that night that I can remember was a question about the antennas used on modern diesel locomotives. I described what looked like a "bottle rocket" that was an antenna tuned for the 160 mHz rail frequencies. There were several suggestions made but were not the answer that I was looking for.

After the net I received an email from Dan KB3FCZ who knew exactly what I was talking about. As usual Dan was a fountain of information both on the subject of the antennas and scanner crystals. To see what I was talking about follow this link to the "rugged rail antenna".

That is all from my "scanner notes" for now. Hope to hear all of you on the net this week.

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Oldest working hydro generator 

I mentioned something on the Sunday evening net a few weeks back about places that still use direct current (DC) in everyday operations. The subject drew quite a bit of interest and I wrote a few blog entries about it. You only have to scroll down that page from this entry to read them.

While reading news the other day I ran across this story and thought it would appeal to some of you out there.

Oldest working hydro generator.

If you find this type of story interesting let me know and I will post others that I find.

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Predictions for the upcoming year 

Here are some very thought provoking predictions for 2008.

Technology Predictions from across the pond.


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A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 

To the readers of my blog. I want to wish you a very blessed Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

I hope that your Christmas was half as good as mine.

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