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Cornbread Road Audio Series by KE9V – Returns with a new Epilogue Episode 4 - October - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Jeff KE9V a few years ago did an awesome ham-novel in audio form – Cornbread Row.

It hasn’t always been easily available, and Jeff KE9V has again posted it on his every evolving website, complete with a new Epilogue episode.

Cornbread Road

This ham radio audio mystery series first hit the Web in 2010. Told in thirteen episodes, with one released each week from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox. Raymond, Eldon and the boys on the farm captured the imagination of radio amateurs around the world.

Now it appears again, as it has every year. The story includes all of the original episodes. And this time, there’s a brand new episode at the very end to catch you up on everything that’s been going on out at Ray’s place since our last visit.

Life is good out in the country. Especially for radio hobbyists. Wide open spaces with no antenna restrictions and the DX flows fast and easy. But don’t let the lazy dogs and idyllic view from the pond fool you. There’s a lot going on out at Ray’s place and dark clouds swirl just beyond the horizon. Events from a long ago war are converging on the new world and for some reason, it’s all happening on Cornbread Road.

You’ve never heard a ham radio podcast like this one. Listen to them in order. And don’t forget to tell your friends.

    Week #1 Finding Paradise [download mp3]
    Week #2 The View from on Top [download mp3]
    Week #3 Secrets at the Anchor [download mp3]
    Week #4 Midnight in the Desert [download mp3]
    Week #5 Lazy Days of Summer [download mp3]
    Week #6 The Heart of the Matter [download mp3]
    Week #7 Getting on Board [download mp3]
    Week #8 The X Factor [download mp3]
    Week #9 Footprints in the Snow [download mp3]
    Week #10 The Onion Relay [download mp3]
    Week #11 Revelation [download mp3]
    Week #12 The Fox Hunt [download mp3]
    Week #13 The Sad Goodbye [download mp3]
    Epilogue Return to Paradise Valley [download mp3]

Download all the MP3’s at LINK –  Cornbread Road | KE9V.

73

Steve
K9ZW

All Good Things Come To An End, Someday – Radio Transceiver Models Discontinued 11 - July - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, FlexRadio Systems, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Eventually all good products run their course and for various reasons go out of production.

This spring saw the outstanding FlexRadio Systems Flex-5000A radio discontinued as the combination of being overshadowed by FlexRadio System’s Flex-6000 series and market place economics due once standard parts having become legacy items available only at premium custom run prices collided.

According to news shared by fellow blogger Jeff KE9V TenTec found itself in a parts availability/cost pickle leading to the end of production of the Orion II.

Jeff KE9V reported:

Got a note from TenTec today that included this — “On a rather sad note, about the time you read this message, we will have sold out of the last 566 Orion II transceiver. Unfortunately, due to the availability of some very critical parts plus skyrocketing prices for difficult components, the staff at TEN-TEC decided to discontinue this product. This does not mean we will not trade or sell used and demo Orion’s and Orion II models. We will continue service and support this product as we have done in the past with all TEN-TEC products. Is a new Orion III on the horizon? There are plans for several new TEN-TEC products lined up for the future but at this time no concise decision has been made for another Orion transceiver.”

If you recollect the Orion II was the result of the original DragonBall processor being discontinued, as well as an opportunity to upgrade the product during the redesign.  The DragonBall Super VZ 66 MHz processor of the Orion II seems to have disappeared as well.

Less substantiated is the the rumblings about Icom’s IC-7800, which some Icom representatives have mentioned to present IC-7800 owners that production is unlikely to continued when present inventory is depleted.  There is no word what might replace this nearly 10 year old product.  I wouldn’t stake my reputation on exactly when the IC-7800 new sales cease, as even the list price is matter of confusion with retailers quoting list pricing of $10,000 to $13,500 and “street prices” of $9,800-10,500

Even weirder rumblings surround the button heavy Kenwood TS-990S, mostly that the radio is Kenwood’s “Swan Song” last offering before it leave the Amateur Radio Market.  Despite the performance reports suggesting the TS-990S is basically a TS-570D in wolf’s clothing, it is just odd that a product would come to market with a “last hurrah” storyline.  It is pretty clear that the TS-990S is a brand-satisifaction product and not a performance leadership product.

Interesting higher end of the market.

Maybe there are some neat new products ready in the wings?

Interesting….

73

Steve
K9ZW

Dayton 2013 – Recap 21 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Following on the sage comments of Jeff KE9V Dayton 2013 was a mixed experience.  Here are some of the things I noticed:

The Day of the SDR – everyone was showing SDR radios, many of them technically faux-SDRs with very limited control by the software.  Pulling a intermediate RF product off a tap for other processing isn’t SDR folks.  Flash Upgradable bandplan data isn’t SDR either.  Having the control and audio handled by a vendor configured I/O package isn’t SDR as well.

The Meek Shall Inherit – QRP Fantasy – the other overused term was QRP.  Even saw marketing slogans misusing QRP like “Our 100w amps will add some fire to your QRP experience” or something like that…  100w isn’t QRP, nor is 20-30w… but is is a Marketing Buzz Word and sells gear.

Log Periodics are back – with much more mention in forums/banquets and new products showing up.  Some providers are working on wide band Log Periodics designed to pair with the latest radio gear.

Long live the King – dinosaurs in a modern age – there were plenty of vendors showing very long in the tooth arguably obsolete technology hoping their well established good brand name would carry them another year.  I mean who buys station accessories anymore that lack USB or Ethernet connectivity? Expensive rotor controllers with DB-9 serial connection to allow some command line access is stuff that should have been out in the flea market, not on the show floor.

Big Vendors who didn’t show – where was AES?  Where was the owner of MFJ?  Someone said that Ham Radio Station was AWOL too?  I know I wanted to look at a specific headset and was told by the vendors that were there “to look on our website, we have it there” – what crap!!  If I had wanted to browse their website I didn’t need to come to Dayton.  Something fundemental is happening here.

End of an Era – But who are the old timers giving way to? – in an Internet World many of the well known in our hobby are Internet Personalities – and some don’t carry as well in person as they do on the world wide web.  Just like the famous “Peggy” mystery support person in the TV ads, the public really doesn’t have a connection with these web personalities.  Few of the elder icons in our industry seem to be interested in groom heir apparent team members to eventually take over as they age, retire and leave us.  Who will run Gordon West’s enterprise when he retires?  Does the ham public know that person?  Ditto for Bob Heil’s audio world, or any one of our valued icons.

Hello Zigbee, Raspberry-Pi, Arduino, and Beaglebone – the embedded processor and PC on a board seemed to be everywhere.  Lots of devices were available that you programed, plug in and run one of these project boards as the “brains” of the final system.  Even radios were using the Arduino-compatible as their marketing “buzz.”

Marketing becoming a Vaporware Game – Who shows a new transceiver so far from production that the sales guy is waiving his hand saying “eventually the RF deck will go here?” … There were many mock-ups making second or third year appearances with no real products ready.  Even many of the “hot” buzz catching products were mockups “available soon.”

Some class acts – be certain in the midst wading through the unwashed masses there are some class acts.  Several were from overseas and really had their presentation & act together. Some standouts in my eyes were in Audio Alley (W2IHY, Heil), Hilberling, the FlexRadio Systems hands-on demos, Array Solutions on-going mini-forum demonstrations) – there were quite a few more.

Composting or Recycling? – the improbability of the Flea Market – if you haven’t found the Thingerwang XT-1000/J14 Mod 7 you’ve been searching the flea market for since 1967 will you ever find it?  Who cares if you do?  And why are you living in the past?

It Stinks, it’s dirty, it’s unsafe, and that is the upside of the Hara – there is not enough parking and it’s past its prime – Dayton is not a place you’d be proud to show your XYL.  There is NO security and the carnage if even a drill were attempted to evacuate the building would likely be large.  The place just makes me feel dirty and at risk.

Feast or Famine – events were either standing room only (the most popular forums needed twice the seating) or other opportunities were ghost towns ( did any guest operators make contacts at the Special Events Station?  Heck they didn’t even have a chair for a guest to operate from)

Paint Drying vs Rapture – always an interesting observation that stuff that is painful to me is held in nostalgic regard by the next ham.  Once does need to remember one size doesn’t fit all.

Fake Grandiose – right down to “Imported Beer” claims for beer from New England at the Hara Pub!  Or how about the dirty linens on the banquet table Dayton not-so-Grand, or the flea-btten Ramada telling banquet attendees “we’re short of forks” and “our computer system is down today, so we can’t check you out”, or don’t you just love the ubiquitous  car-eating potholes?

What trips my Dayton Trigger?

People.

I do get a chance to meet with and eyeball QSO (face time) with some really great folk.  First I get to spend time with my traveling partner George W9EVT, which is always a privilege.  Next I get to meet with my cousins, who have made Dayton one of our annual gatherings.  Then I get to spend time with a lot of great hams – many who I not only have a great time with on the interpersonal side, but who are kind enough to share their experiences and mentor.

Like all experiences YMMV as I react in my own way to the limitations and features of the event.

73

Steve
K9ZW

KE9V Smoke Curls – Nails Dayton 2013 on the Head 20 - May - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Dayton Hamvention, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Make sure to check ouy fellow writer Jueff KE9V’s Dayton 2013 Recap at:

http://ke9v.net/blog/2013/05/dayton-in-the-rearview-mirror/

I have additional comments which are embargoed until after this evening’s W9DK Mancorad Radio Club presentation on Dayton 2013.

Jeff KE9V paints a very accurate background to my summary.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Jeff KE9V Ponders on Band Saturation, Numbers of Hams, and Minimal QSOs 17 - January - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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Jeff KE9V, author, blogger and QRP enthusiast poses some interesting questions at his current blog “Smoke Curls”:

…if you step back and examine where the hobby seems to be headed, a reasonable person might conclude that preparations are already underway…

Check out his whole question and current blog at:  http://ke9v.net/blog/2013/01/unintended-consequences/  (Note Jeff KE9V revamps his website often – sometimes relaly often, so if you want to save something to sudy I suggest you email yourself a copy.)

I commented to Jeff:

Hi Jeff KE9V

Your question seems to have three parts:

- If we achieve much higher licensees and corresponding higher on-band activity, what do we do about saturation of the bands & stop recruiting as a result?

- What are the motives told, actual motives and net benefits of the bandwidth reducing technologies?

- What is the point of link establishing minimalistic QSOs (like JT65)?

My take (and YMMV):

- License & Band Saturation Question

I’d like to comment on the Band Saturation part first. We are seeing some peaking of band usage as the demographics are seemingly changing. Weekends are heavy and contest weekend very saturated. Added is the better outlets for self-promotion of contests & events increasing involvement and the general improvement of many ham’s station capabilities.

Saturation can be short term addressed by displacing peak loads during the week to avoid climbing on top of each other. Increasing the award prestige for lower power (100w and QRP classes) or increasing the hurdles for QRO might help. Promoting alternative areas of the hobby can help.

Otherwise saturation will be what it is. If it gets too bad – the QRM will put off involvement pushing back to an equilibrium. I am certain I’m not the only one to have hit such a wall of contesters that I went off to do something else rather than fight through the wall.

So basically I see saturation as self-limiting and a lesser issue.

On the overall number of licensees we are replacing a lot of retired folk with newly retired and middle age hobbyists. That we have no reoccuring test requirements means he have a lot of “paper licensees” with no station or regular activity. Some hobbies have retests and currency requirements. Perhaps we should follow the Private Pilot route of separating license and privilege? I have a pilot’s license but am “not current” requiring me to meet a series of requirements before I would be legal to fly solo. Perhaps Amateur Radio could do something like this?

My point is it makes it very difficult to draw conclusions what level of licensees is license saturation? If every ham was active HF every weekend contesting we likely have too many already. If many just want their ticket “in case” or for VHF/UHF Emcomm work, and others are inactive then who knows what number is good?

- Bandwidth reducing technologies

Bandwidth reducing technologies are, as you point out, a double edges sword. I’ve had visiting hams usually not on HF complain that HF DX isn’t as nice & clear as their EchoLink and VHF experiences! I should hope the different technologies have differing characteristsics. WHat they are telling us though is that they want their ham experience to be like a cell phone. Not much adventure in that.

Digital modes is whole different animal, where outside of the extremes like JT65 there is potential for some sort of QSO, often in band conditions that SSB is dead during and CW may even be troublesome.

So where is the hobby with bandwidth reducing technologies? Is it good or bad? Afraid the answer is in all cases “it depends.” More underused repeaters is a waste (though the tin-foil-hat crowd will tell you they see a dark side to the D-Star repeaters as a central authority can stut them down). Why do it, except for the experimentation and fun? Wait – isn’t that much of what this is all about – Experimentation and Fun? DItto with the extreme modes.

- Minimal Exchange QSOs

As for minimal exchange QSOs, like contesting in any mode and JT65, they offer a lot less but more off it.

JT65 is a mode that I liken to running around high-fiving everyone you can, rather than taking their hand in a handshake clasp and exchanging pleasantries. It is a “Hey You?!” and “Yah, Gottacha and Hey You Too” mode. I do run some JT65 myself, as the technology interests me, but only when everything else on the bands is dead. There is some satisfaction connecting in highly adverse conditions with minimal power. I couldn’t see running it exclusively or all that often though.

Contesting is a different animal, one where the operator self-challenges themselves on stamina (self and station) and technique. Again the QSOs are like high-fiving, but are more like high-fiving touching the basketball hoop’s rim! A bit more accomplishment there.

I’ve rambled on enough that I am going to self-post this at my blog, linking to your question. I’ll follow up with my thoughts on the future of amateur radio in a few weeks.

Of course YMMV,

73

Steve
K9ZW

Interesting Article – “What’s all this Multiple Bandscope Stuff, Anyhow?” by Roger W3SZ 9 - December - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Flex-6000, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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A tip of the hat to Jeff KE9V for bringing attention to the Cheese Bits ham radio club newsletter - and the first first issue I looked at from Jeff’s suggestion turns out ot have a nice article on ”What’s all this Multiple ”What’s all this Multiple Bandscope Stuff, Anyhow?” by Roger W3SZ.

Cheese Bits - Vol 53 No 12 HeadersCheese Bits - Vol 53 No 12 Header

Cheese Bits –  Click on Image for Archive Link

The article starts on page three: http://www.packratvhf.com/Cheese%20Bits/Cheese%20Bits%20December%202012.pdf

I couldn’t agree more with Roger W3SZ on using multiple bandscopes, though I am not on many of the bands he covers.

Same idea in regards to the “slices” featured with the upcoming Flex-6000 series.

A thank you to Jeff KE9V for the great suggestion.

Complements on a nice write up – well done Roger W3SZ, and well done Cheese Bits!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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