Monday, June 14, 2021

Aircraft Tracking with ADS-B

 Now that I moved my little home brew antenna outside, I'm picking up aircraft tracks out to 150 miles away. Most of them are pretty mundane; scheduled airlines, charter flights, student pilots and LifeLine flights. One that caught my eye the other day was an aircraft at 8,000', doing 35 knots. Wondering if the speed was a glitch, I looked up the tail number and found out it was a glider registered at the Owl Canyon Gliderport. I didn't look closely at his flight profile, but a glider could easily do those kinds of numbers into a headwind.

Anyway.....One plane really grabbed my attention tonight, a NASA 747 with a very unusual flight plan track.

The solid green line is where he's been, and the dotted line is where he's going, per the filed flight plan. Departure and landing the sites were both listed as "Palmdale", so it's anybody's guess what they're doing tonight. Must be a "Chemtrail" run. That's why they do it at night now, so people can't see them!

And anywhoo....Mother and child are doing fine. The new parents were treated to a "Surf and Turf" dinner tonight courtesy of the hospital, but TLG didn't get to meet his new little brother as I originally thought. Strict rules are in place, and the only people who get into the Natal ICU are Mommy and Daddy. The NLG is doing fine, breathing without assistance, eyes open, looking around, and eating like a horse per his Mom and Dad.

But he's soooo tiny!

I'll post some pix as soon as SLW sends them.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Daughter-In-Law and the New Little Guy Doing Fine

 Our New Little Guy came into this realm sometime after 0600 this morning. He weighed 2 lb 7 oz at delivery.

Yes, that's right, Two and a Half Pounds

He was born with his eyes open, and started crying almost immediately. His big brother was barely over two pounds at delivery, and it took him a week or so to open his eyes and start crying.

He'll be another Miracle Baby to us.

Pix to follow as soon as SLW recovers.....

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Oh, Dear.....Ten Weeks Early Again.....

 Well the DIL's Doctors decided that she wasn't showing sufficient improvement with three days of bed rest and medication, so our New Little Guy will be entering this world 10 weeks early, just like his big brother.

Don't know when her procedure is scheduled for tonight, but we're praying on overtime (is there even such a thing?) for everything to to go as planned.

Latest news at 2148 MDT - Since the DIL ate dinner tonight, they're holding off on the c-section until 0600 Sunday morning.

No News Is Good News.....So Far

 Well our Daughter-In-Law is in the hospital. She just passed 30 weeks, which is when the had to do an emergency C-Section to get The Little Guy out of distress. She's been really stressed out about the time, which is probably one of the things which made her BP get high (155/85), which can signal pre-eclampsia, which is what happened her first time, resulting in TLG coming 10 weeks early.

Her BP is coming down now, and the New Little Guy isn't in distress yet, but the hospital is going to hold her at least another 24 hours, and will only release her if there's improvement.

So, we have all our fingers and toes crossed, have the prayer candles lit, and are praying that she can go at least another few weeks so New Little Guy can gain some more weight, and have some more development.

It was quite traumatic to her the first time, not to mention the baby, and we think she has some PTSD over it.

Thanks for all your prayers, and I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

YAY! Got My FlightAware Receiver / Decoder Operating Properly!

 The issues I had with not picking up aircraft were entirely my fault. The little 1/4-wave vertical antenna I made for this was inside the sunroom, hanging on the Venetian blinds, and I had doubts if enough of the 1090MHz signal would get inside. The window screens are aluminum (SHIELDING!), and the fiberglass insulation in the walls and ceilings is also aluminum foil backed (MORE SHIELDING!!), but since I was receiving some aircraft, I should be able to decode them.


As soon as I moved the antenna outside of my "Screen Room", I went from getting A few aircraft displayed to having a screen full of them, and now the "Show Tracks" works, too.

MUCH better than this:

Which gave me this:

Since I'm running this on a little RaspberryPi mini/micro/nano computer, I went and installed the official "PiAware" software from FlightAware, which got rid of the "For Development Purposes Only" map overlay, and has more adjustments to select.

Now I just have to move the little antenna to a mast, and tidy up the cabling a bit.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Oh, Boy....New Toy....

 Gee, I wonder why Jim ripped his radio desk apart, besides the fact it was filthy, per SLW.

I dragged the PC out to the garage, popped the covers and air filters off, and blew out all the accumulated dust, lint, dog hair, etc, etc. Scrubbed the keyboard and mouse, too, and then attacked the now naked table with Endust

All the old gear I had out went back to the workshop, as I was going to need some desk space.

Hmmm....the FedEx version of the Brown truck of Happiness came by earlier and deposited a couple of things.

Wonder what they could be....?

Why would I need a new power supply/speaker unit?

For this, maybe?

Whatever it is was sure packed well. The inner box had this cardboard/foam cradle to securely hold the boxes' contents.

VERY clever packaging, allowing you to swing the "handles" up, and extract the contents.

Cradled as if in a lover's arms when all packed up.

But what, Jim, Is In The Box? The briefcase from Pulp Fiction? The sacred stone from the Temple of Doom?

Nope, just Yaesu's latest and greatest HF~50MHz, 200 Watt transceiver, the FTdx-101MP.

I haven't made any contacts with it yet, but the receiver seems to be quite a bit "better" than my previous Yaesu FT-1000D. Signals pop up out of the noise, and it has more bells and whistles than I may ever use.

It has a built-in "Band Scope", really a Spectrum Analyzer, that let's you see all the signals in a given slice of the band you're operating in.

It has Dual Receivers, so you can monitor different frequencies, or even bands, to see if any activity pops up. I'll probably park the second receiver in the 50MHz band, so I can see if that band is "open".

For now, until I learn how to use all the adjustments it has, I put it in Single Receive mode.

One of the really neat things it has is a DVI jack for an external monitor, so I hooked it up to one of my old 24" Dell monitors.

And there are USB ports on the front of the radio for a keyboard and mouse. The mouse allows you to select/change menu items, and the keyboard lets you enter ASCII text for a variety of things.

I'm going to retire the FT-1000D, and strip it for parts to sell. I love the radio, BUT I bought this one based on it's cosmetic condition, and threw snake eyes on the functionality. I've fixed half-a-dozen issues with it, it has several I *can't* fix (unobtainium parts), and when the RF output power dropped from 200 Watts to 15 Watts the other night, with no ALC indication on the meter, I threw in the towel and got my little Elecraft K2 out. I joked with SLW about how it was a good thing I'd cut up my credit cards when we moved here or I would have driven down to HRO in Denver the next morning and bought a new radio.

WELL......we discussed it, and since I've been saving my nickels and dimes for a new radio since we moved here, I had about 60% of what I "needed". She got out her card, told me to buy what I wanted, transfer the funds to her, and pay off the balance. Since I can strip about $900 worth of good, functional parts out of the malfunctioning radio, and then sell the hulk for ~$400. That will pay off the balance and rid me of that jinxed radio. To be fair, if I *ever* find another FT-1000D locally that's in good shape, I'll be on it like stink on you-know-what. They're that good, and if you want to do microwave stuff with transmitting and receiving converters, they're superb radios.

For now, I'm beat. Saw the Doctor Monday afternoon for some shoulder problems, and we also talked about some other things I was experiencing. She agreed with me to reduce the dosage of the Metoprolol I take from 50mg to 25mg, and for the first time in months, I wasn't getting a bit faint when standing up, and that's only on the first day of the lower dose. BP and pulse rate are fine, but we agreed that losing 50 pounds and becoming much more active called for a review.

We'll see how it goes tomorrow....

Sunday, June 6, 2021

My Uncle on D-Day.....

 Taking a break from radio to post this.

I'm not sure where my Dad was on D-Day, other than "Somewhere In The South Pacific", but I do know where my Uncle Clarence was. Uncle Clarence, or as we called him, "Uncle Diddi" (NO idea where the nickname came from) was. 

I'm sure this picture will give you a pretty good idea.

As far as I was told many years ago, he went in the night before (the midnight insertions), but I don't know if he parachuted in, or went in a glider. He has his jump wings, but I didn't know about the glider patches until my cousin posted this picture. And knowing very little about WWII Army uniforms, I don't know what the blue "stripe" on his cap is called, or is for, or the "halo" around his jump wings is for.

Update - The Blue stripe signifies he was Infantry. The red background of the "Airborne" patch, and parachute patch, indicate he was in the "Command Division", which probably goes along with his rank. It also explains why there's just a glider and parachute on the patch instead of a specific Division marking, like the Screaming Eagles, 82nd Airborne, and the others had.

I also didn't know he was a Sergeant before. Can't tell if there's rocker there or not, and I don't know what rank he mustered out with.

I'm very happy my cousin posted her pictures, and I'll have to bug my sister about what she has left of Dad's things. I never knew much about where he was in the vast PTO, except that he island-hopped along with the Marines and Army.

I am profoundly grateful and eternally indebted to the Greatest Generation for their service, sacrifice, and example.

May God Bless you all, and may you spend eternity close to Him.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Museum Ships Weekend

 Put on every year at this time by the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station, NJ2BB.

It kicks off at 0000Z, about two hours from now. I checked my antennas the other day, and tightened up all the connections, and swept them to see if anything had gone wonky over the winter. I'd noticed the VSWR on my 20 Meter vertical seemed high, which started this exercise. the process of rearranging things a bit here, I accidentally swapped the the two cables into my selector switch. OOOOPS! Swapped the cables back, and things went back to the way they were before.

And now ALL the cables are properly labeled so I don't mess things up again. Until the next time....

Last year I worked 8 ships, and I'm hoping I can contact a few more this year, including my friends on the Iowa.

Band conditions are a bit spotty right now, so we'll see what happens as the weekend progresses.....

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Dead Juniper Removal

 Which taught me an important lesson in being careful with Roundup! In the process of trying to keep the weeds down, I (thought I) carefully sprayed Roundup on *just* the leaves of the weeds coming up through the junipers. In retrospect, I should have gone in the garage, and got the other sprayer loaded with Weed-B-Gon, as it just targets "broadleaf" weeds.

Anyway....Over the last three Summers, the poor junipers got enough on them to slooooowly kill them, as seen below.

Don't worry, Pebbles. We have a Reforestation Program under way for your little private forest!

And holy smokes, this stuff is hard to cut! My Makita powered thought 8"~10" diameter sections of ash and apple wood without breaking a sweat, but took as long to go though a 2" juniper trunk as it did to go through 6" of ash, and it actually slowed down once (fresh batteries) as I was worrying through the trunk.

This one was first to go....

I'll worry about getting the trunk/root bits out later. Some of the completely dead sections just pulled right out, and the sawdust covered ground at the base of the trunk feels very spongy, so I'm hoping they won't be too hard to get out of there. I also pruned some of the scraggly parts of the still OK junipers, and then went back behind the pile to start in on this:

Some of the dead stuff is completely tangled together with the still OK plants, requiring some careful cutting, and much pulling, groaning, and sweating. I'm tempted to get the truck in here, put a tow hook in my hitch receiver, and YANK the stuff out.

It's very aromatic as it's being cut, though, reminding me of a "Balsam" scent. This immediately changed my mind from "Throw It ALL In The Trash" to "Hmmmm....Might Be A Nice Firewood Addition After I Strip All The Twigs Off".

Thoughts? Might at least provide some colorful flames, and a nice aroma.

The bad thing about this is junipers are considered a "9" on a scale of 1-to-10 for causing allergic reactions. I didn't have any skin reactions to it, but my sinuses are a bit plugged today. And I got about half the "free firewood" stacked-and-racked in the garage. Took four wheelbarrow (see pix) loads, and we still have MORE.

Another problem we have to take care of are these:

We've been overrun with these mushrooms this year. I couldn't see this group before because they were under the ex-juniper. I think the dead, now carved, cottonwood tree and all the moisture we've set them off and running with the knob cranked up to 11. We've been using vinegar, which nukes them in about 12 hours, so at least the "fungicide" we're using is cheap to buy! Our next door neighbor uses vinegar and salt on his weeds, and it seems to work OK, and he says it doesn't seem to bother the lawn.

After being run ragged today by TLG, I caught this snap of SLW and TLG taking a break:

Hope y'all have a good week....