Thursday, May 31, 2012

Successful Launch

Launched right on time, successful spacecraft separation, and successful spacecraft acquisition.

We'll pack up and stow our stuff Friday, and head for home.

L-1 hour, 30 minutes

And counting.

Probably gonna be a bit too busy to post anymore tonight......

L-4 Hours......

And counting........

Sunday, May 27, 2012

We've Arrived

Actually got here sometime last night/early this morning.

Won't be posting much while I'm here due to "Employer Paranoia".

I'll try and come up with some other topics when I have time.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bullit Points

If you're a fan of "Bullit" with Steve McQueen, I think you'll find this little 99 cent download very interesting.
And best of all, ALL of the proceeds go to Steve's favorite organization, The Boys Republic, in Chino, California.
The Boys republic is the place McQueen went to during his somewhat troubled youth, and he creits them with turning his life around.

Get it here:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 5 At Sea

Reporting from 10*13'N, 143*26'W, 19.2kts.

Had our second rehearsal today, the one where they throw all the faults, failures, and 'anomalies' at us.
We came through with flying colors, as usual.

We're supposed to catch up with the launch platform around 0300 or so, and then we'll steam along with them down to the launch site at a leisurely 11kts or so. We'll do all our systems checks using our line-of-site microwave links, and run the last rehearsal.

Then it's one day to set up, one day to launch, one day to tear down, and head for home.

Just hanging out in my cube tonight watching "Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex".

Was going through a link a Ham buddy sent me, and I found a QSL card from the guy that taught me Morse Code oh so many years ago. Cel was quite a guy. He had served many years as a shipboard Radio Officer, and could talk to you, smoke a cigarette, drink a cup of coffee, and carry on a conversation in CW at 20+ wpm on the radio.

Quite a guy........

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quiet Day At Sea

Reporting from 15*50'N, 137*28'W

Well....we're about half-way to the launch site. The weather's been cloudy, and over the next day or two we'll be going through the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a.k.a "The Doldrums".

This means we'll hit some rain, sometimes quite heavy, but no particular  "storms" to mention.

Had our safety training on boarding/unboarding the helicopter, and a few other things. One of the pilots giving the life vest part actually pulled the ring so we could see how fast they inflate, and how big they got. Seems if you pop one open, you'll have some trouble getting out through the window, which you push out to act as the emergency exit if things get so bad as to require a water "landing". The Bell 212 we have onboard is equipped with floats, BUT if you slide the doors open, they slice into the floats, a definite Bad Thing!

One really good thing they did when this ship was in drydock a couple of months ago was to polish and rebalance the propeller. For the first time at-sea, the vibration level is very low, and things don't rattle around in our office area, which is at the stern of the ship.

Not much else going on for now. We'll get insanely busy the closer we get to the launch site, so we're all enjoying the time to relax for now.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 2012 Annular Eclipse At Sea

Reporting from 26*43'N, 125*28'W

WELL....nobody thought to bring any solar filters, so we're all being very careful, and only looking at the Sun when it's partially obscured by clouds.

There's a big bite out of the Sun, and it's noticeably darker than normal for this time of day.

Other than that, no excitement, nothing to report. The seas are calm, and we're only rolling a little bit.

I mad a BIG mistake yesterday by having too much for lunch, and it caught up to me about dinner time. My first day out I get a little queasy, so I eat light, and try to take an afternoon nap.

Didn't do either this time, and by 7PM I wasn't feeling too crisp. Climbed in my bunk about 8pm, read for an hour, and then s;ept for about 12 hours!

I'm reading "Iron Eagle" by Thomas Coffey, and out of the three books I bought about General Curtis LeMay, I think it's the best.

I do a post about LeMay in the next week or so, after I've finished "Iron Eagle", and "Mission With LeMay", which is his biography. He's a very different man than the press, and unfortunately history, portray him as. He NEVER said "Bomb Them Back To The Stone Age", although that quote is often attributed to him. It actually came from "Mission With LeMay", and was fabricated by his ghost writer, MacKinlay Kantor. LeMay was in the middle of many things at the time his "biography" was being written, and didn't proof read it as completely as he should have. He later stated that he regretted not being more careful about what went in to the book, and as a result, a lot of misconceptions abound about him.

That's it for tonight. Going to watch a DVD, and hit the hay.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ready, Set, GO!

Just shutting things down for the night. I have to pick up a buddy (ex Airborne Ranger, two terms in Nam) that I work with in the morning, and then off we go!
Y'all be good now, hear?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Finishing My Preps To Get Underway

Took in my laptop, backpack full of DVD's, camera, and lenses this week.
Packing my rolling duffle tonight, and I'll drag that onboard tomorrow, as I hate waiting for the luggage lift they do.
Friday night I'm the auctioneer at my radio club's "White Elephant Sale" where we raise money for Field Day, and I don't want to be bothered with any support functions Saturday morning when I board the ship, so I'm 95% ready-to-go.
If the launch goes off on time, I should be back on June 9th.
The 870 is cleaned and loaded with low recoil 00 buck, and my YF and stepson know how to use it.
Her TRR8 357 is cleaned and loaded, and she also has three speed loaders ready to go.
And she knows how to use them all.
I think I can sleep soundly, knowing there's a bit of firepower readily available, along with our two 80 pound dogs......

Monday, May 14, 2012

Food Preps..."A Week In A Bucket"

I'll be the first to admit that my (our) long-term food storage preps could use a little more finesse.

First Aid?
Check! (courtesy of my son the EMT)
Communications? (you're kidding, right?)
Uh, here, sir....kinda.

We have several cases of MRE's,  a couple of cases of various canned meats, a couple of cases of soups and such, and a LOT of those fancy freeze-dried "camping" type meals that I bought when I was single, and before I knew better.

I've considered buying some of those "#10 cans" of stuff from the various purveyors of such, but what do you DO with all that stuff once you have it?

Lacking a plan on how to sort/organize/store/use it, I did what most people do.


WELL.....I stumbled across this article over at Mr. Rawles' place, and I'm stoopified at how simple it is.

You make up a week's worth of balanced meals (7 breakfast, 7 lunch, 7 dinner) out of all the stuff you've accumulated, and pack it away into "A Week In A Bucket", and store the buckets until needed.

Makes a pretty good grab-and-go, eat-for-a-week bug-out item, too.

Remarkably simple, and an excellent example of the kind of clear-headed, logical thinking that can save your butt when TSHTF.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

High-Performance HF Transceiver Design

From EDN Online.
It's an excellent article that describes the State-Of-The-Current-Art in radio design.
I'd expand on the article a bit more, but I'm too tired to care about much tonight.......

Blah.....Just Blah.......

Approaching terminal job burn-out, I think......

Friday, May 11, 2012

Too Tired To Blog.....

As is usual, the last week of activity before we depart on a launch mission is brutal, with 10~12 hour days common. Tomorrow (Saturday) I'll be going in for another 10 hour day, and Sunday will be at least (on the books, anyway) 12 hours. We had planned some testing with the customer today, but they weren't in! Seems they found it necessary to take a day off "To spend time with their families before departing on the voyage".
And us?
We'll keep chugging along to the beat of the schedule drum with NO time off for our families.
I'm getting too old for this stuff, and when I turn 62 next year I'm seriously going to consider retiring, if the economy hasn't gone completely to shit by then, and I can afford to.
Taking the YF out for a quiet dinner tonight, as I won't be here all day Sunday, Mother's Day, and probably won't get back home until she's fast asleep.

BTW.....Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there!
*NONE* of us would be here without you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chino 2012 Airshow Pictures

As usual, we had a great time hanging out at the Chino Airshow.
The grandstand seats were MUCH better this year, being right on the flight line. Last year they were behind the walkway, and you couldn't really see much from them. They were so bad, in fact, that several times some of the staff came by and told us you could get a refund if you wanted to!
The weather this year was a lot warmer and sunnier than last year. My YF forgot to bring her sunscreen, and even though we took several breaks and sought out some shade, and some nice people sitting next to us offered some sunscreen, she was getting pretty cooked, so we left early, right after the B-25's got airborne.
The Planes of Fame Air Museum is a wonderful place, and if you ever get out to SoCal, it should be on your "Must See" list if you like airplanes. They have so much stuff in storage and on display that you can easily spend a whole weekend there just wandering around.
Stop in at Flo's Airport Cafe for some excellent chow if you make it there!

There's a few "duds" in the pictures, but most of them came out OK. I used my Nikon  80~400mm VR lens, and I'll never take it to an event like this again. It's slow to focus, loses auto-focus easily when you zoom on a moving subject, and is just too heavy to be lugging around all day. It's a very nice lens for what it does, BUT.....I should have taken my 80~200mm lens instead. This lens is one of Nikon's "Professional" line of lenses, being of all metal construction, and has lightning fast auto-focus. Since it was made back when film was king (yes, I still shoot film with my F4 or F100), so when used with a digital camera, it acts more like a 300mm lens, due to what's called "Crop Factor". I'll take the 80~200mm next year.

The planes in the airshow were fairly typical for Chino, but the guy in the little red Team Oracle aerobatic plane had everybody on their feet and cheering. One of the most impressive displays of flying prowess (and power-to-weight ratio!) I've ever seen.

Enjoy the pix!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Just got back, and I'm beat. It was a LOT hotter there this year than last, and my poor wife about melted. She can't take much sun, so we left right after the N9M Flying Wing did its act.
Pix later.......

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gettin' BUSY At Work

Well, we're all cranked up for the next launch, around the end of May if things stay on-schedule. Spent the last two days debugging the telemetry tracking antenna I normally run, and learning more about it, and it's history, than I knew before.
We found today that the bearing assembly on the spinning feed is "almost shot" (it's got a lot of play in it), and although we can physically move each axis through its range of motion very smoothly (the mechanical stuff seems OK), when we turn on the servos and use the manually position hand wheels, the elevation axis doesn't respond smoothly. It kind of 'bumps and jumps' in response to commands from the Antenna Control Unit.
We're not sure if this is in the servo electronics somewhere, or in the software settings, but it's not right, and either contributed to, or is the cause of, the loss of track we had last mission.
I was on top of it as soon as it broke track, and put it in manual mode so I could get it back on the profile. Since this happened at first stage separation, AND we were running a "strange" flight profile, we didn't give it too much thought until the post mission review of the equipment logs showed some weirdness.
We break auto-track about 25% of the time at one-two staging due to the fact that the retros they use to back the first stage away from the second are solid fuel, and puff out a huge cloud of ionized gas around the launch vehicle, and RF doesn't go through ionized gas very well. It's why there's a communication blackout during reentry. Normally the tracking antenna will "coast" through this loss of signal, and reacquire on it's own, but the last time I had to coax it back to doing it's job, and it just didn't "feel" right.
We have a back up antenna array, but this thing is the darling of the RF Group, warts and all.
Oh, well, we'll either get it fixed, or write a "Use AS-IS" on it, and I'll just have to be really sharp during the launch.

This weekend, the YF and I are going to the Chino Airshow, so I'll post a bunch of pictures like I did last year.
Always an enjoyable event!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Festivities

I haven't had the TeeVee on today, but I do have my scanner up and running, and there are "protests" (that's what the cops are calling them) going on around the L.A. area.
The magnet high-school where my wife works is on the campus of one of the state universities, so anytime I see a transmission from them, I listen closely.
So far things seem peaceful, but from the 'back chatter' taking place on some of the other channels, Da Cops are taking no chances, and seem to have a fair amount of resources staged in various places around the city, along with several air units. I should probably fire up my "Air Band Only" scanner and see what's going on with the Eyes In The Sky.
Should be interesting.
I'm working "at home" today, as I have some projects to do that I can't do at work (no tools or parts!), so I'll be listening all day while I tinker away.

Hmmm....somebody in one of the protest groups is "distributing flares".

Sounds like the "protesters" are now going to go from bank to bank all along Hope Street (irony?) in downtown L.A.
BoA, Wells-Fargo, HFSC, and several others mentioned.

The LAPD is doing well at keeping the OLA  on their planned route, and preventing them from spreading out.

And I did hear one report of people walking along with flares.

Uh-oh...something's going on. ALL supervisors have been ordered to 5th and Hill streets.

Well....sounds like OLA has fizzled out. Nothing going on, and the only calls are to move police units so they can restore the normal traffic patterns.

Been Busy....Follow-Up Post Coming Soon To A Browser Near <i>YOU</i>!

 Been a week since last post. Been busy herding grandkids, playing with the dog, yard work, house items, and working on all manner of stuff....