Monthly Archives: October 2007

Mancorad Announces Winter 2007 Hamcram Class




Winter 2007 “HamCram”

Licensing Class 

December 1st, 2007 8 am to 4 pm

Join a fellow group of highly motivated Amateur Radio Candidates for Winter 2007 Manitowoc County Radio Club – MANCORAD’s “HamCram”


HamCram is a specially designed single day session that teaches everything needed to become an FCC Licensed Radio Amateur, with official FCC Licensing the same day.

A preparation session several weeks prior will explain in detail all that you need to study & know to pass the FCC multiple choice Technician License (Entry Level License).

We will show you how you can easily join the exciting Amateur Radio hobby through the use of the course preparation materials, a few on-line practice quizzes, the HamCram class and testing at our in-house test session.

Pre-Class: Monday November 12th at 7 pm (Optional Monday November 26th at 7 pm)

HamCram: Saturday December 1st, 2006 8 am – 4 pm

Where: Mancorad Club Shack, Old County Building at Waldo Blvd & Fleetwood Dr.

Cost: $40 which includes the $14 FCC Exam Fee, a copy of the ARRL Manual, $6 for your course materials, and a Pizza Lunch on HamCram Saturday. (Fee without Book is $20)

Contact: Mancorad – HamCram, P.O. Box 204, Manitowoc, WI 542210-0204

Email: Website:


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Rebuilding the Macbook – Lessons to Apply to the Ham Shack

I’m in the midst of rebuilding all the “stuff” that departed my Macbook with the removed dead hard drive.  

While waiting for the system to transfer applications from the “twinned” MiniMac to the re-drived Macbook, it was a good time to fire up the Station.

In the end I did one QSO and mostly thought about all the settings, wiring, configurations, jumpers positions and other defining details of my simple station.

Much is captured in the station notebook.  Or so I thought!

Reading through my notes I wasn’t certain someone else could rebuild my station from what is written.  

Certainly wouldn’t want to struggle with a major rebuild in the midst of a contest based on the notes alone.

Some of the lists I did are nice – but lacked enough detail for quickly using the information without thinking for a bit about things like “Where are those jumpers?  Do I take off the top or bottom cover to get to them?” and “Is this slider going to affect any other programs and do I need to adjust the radio to match?”

There is not point writing a manual for a non-amateur – the notes do not need to pass the “Wife Test” as it is called.  

The “Wife Test” is where what I write has to be readable, understandable and actionable by my wife.  Often a writer knows what they meant to say, but lays out words that do not resonate with the same message for a reader.  The “Wife Test” helps to avoid this problem.

A “Station Manual” does not need to pass the “Wife Test,” but rather should pass for a workable guide for a fellow Radio Amateur.  

Of course if your XYL is a with-it Radio Amateur their opinion as to the workability of your “Station Manual” can really help. 

In my coat pocket I had an answer for the question of how to make this documentation process not get in the way of operating, yet be viable if needed for rebuilding part of the station.

That answer was my digital camera.

Just like screen-shots to capture settings in a picture form, the camera can capture almost every aspect of how the station goes together & works.

So I’ve started taking pictures.  Some show my “mess” and are already inspiring cleaning up and clearing away extra gear.

Should have thought of this earlier!



Going Back in Time – “Time Machine” on the Macbook

The OS-X Leopard Time Machine Browser

A quick jot about the impressions of the Time Machine feature of OS-X 10.5 Leopard.

Apple has given me the tools to dissect my computing. 

  1. OS-X “Spaces” gives me the Linux-Like multiple desktops open for one user.
  2. Bootcamp” gives me the OS-X or Windows choice.
  3. and “Time Machine” gives me the dimension of being able to work with a file in its various past incarnations.

So my computing options are like a 3-D matrix – easy navigation through which Operating System, which Work Space and which point in time Back & Forth through Time Machine.

And most importantly after blowing up a couple hard disks is the full backup that resides on my Time Machine serviced External Drive.

Pretty neat options and rather well implemented.



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Not so Hardy Hard Drives – Macbook Repairs

It took hardly any time yesterday at lunch at all to put in another 160GB hard drive in my Macbook and format it from a host Mac over Firewire.

Maybe it took longer than I thought, as I was playing with the new operating system release on a big iMac.

Tonight I’ll install Leopard OS-X 10.5 and see if the .Mac backup really works.

Then it will be “reinstall-time” for all my specialized applications, Amateur Radio and otherwise.

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t occassioally pull a disk image onto one of the varied external hard drives I have about.  While in the Apple shop I noticed that 1TB drives are sub-$400 now!  I have one Terrabyte External Drive (iomega highspeed 7200rpm version) in my office next to me that ran less than $240 delivered.

Sourced a G-5 dual processor tower which may become the shack computer.



Consigned to the Archives or a Future Fact? BPL and Amateur Radio

While up on Washington Island, Wisconsin WI-001L, the buzz was a THIRD high-speed Internet option would soon be run in part of the town.

Earlier this year DCWIS (a private firm) completed Island coverage with their Motorola Canopy System.  Word is that this system has been very Ham-Friendly and has been adding customers weekly. 

Verizon rather quietly appeared to have enabled the high-speed Internet feature on their cellular phone service.  At least people have been seen using it!

Now after several years of “next month it will be running” the Island Electrical Co-op is preparing a demonstration run of a very limited BPL installation.  FCC permits for the gear have been secured by IBEC and some net connectivity has been arranged with Verizon. 

Is this an example of too little (bandwidth) too late?  The BPL speeds of 256kb is horribly slow by current high-speed standards.

There is all sorts of scuttlebutt about wonky numbers and infinitely long payback periods circulating about the Co-ops BPL.  Given the size of the investment and the RF potential impact it has been amazing that the Co-op has not consulted its shareholders along the way.

Then to be a late third into a small market with the highest infrastructure costs and lowest performance makes the economics look poor.

In general is BPL doomed?  There are plenty that say that between its technological limitations, RF pollution potential and weak bandwidth performance, that BPL is yesterday’s technology.

Bob K0NR’s “Slow Death for Broadband Over Power Line (BPL)” is an excellent read on the dwindling economics surrounding BPL.

We’ll have to see what happens on Washington Island.  The Island DX Club (WI9DX) and independent amateurs are concerned but of course cooperative provided they are not adversely affected. 

Time will tell.



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Contest… Contest? What Contest?? – Breaking & Fixing Things

Ok, so from the start the CQ WW contest was never a main objective of a rapidly planned run to W9EVT’s QTH on Washington Island WI-001L.

But who would have planned for high winds requiring the towers to be down, extended rain to add to the fun, a laptop hard drive that went “ping” within hours of arrival, finding the Yaesu FT-950 DIN pins have nothing to do with any other Yaesu product making the cables I brought along useless to run a linear, sudden serious tower troubles with one tower that put the Mosely 96S, Bruce Array and Loop off line, and a couple bad commercially made co-ax jumpers that gave false SWR errors on certain otherwise good antennas while they were in use?

On the plus side I did get a fair bit of time with the FT-950 and a wonderful combination of the Ten-Tec Omni-VII and Expert Amp. Also spent quite a while operating the IC-7800.

The TimeWave AntennaSmith came in handy, though the foul weather kept towers down and operators inside so we didn’t get to work with the Riserbond TDR and the ex-Military Megger.

More over the next couple days after I unpack and sort something out for Laptop repair.



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