Monthly Archives: December 2009

Winter Reads – 2008-2009 – Batch X

A final quick update on my tenth batch and final batch of books read during my 12 month 2009 reading log. I have added the previous lists a cumulative list to help me keep track of my reading achievement for the year:

The Third Man Factor – Surviving the Impossible, by John Geiger
The Flight of the Barbarous Relic, by George Ford Smith
Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They’re Not What You Think), by John Leland
Old Man on a Bike, by Simon Gandolfi
Vitamin D Prescription, by Eric Madrid
1632, by Eric Flint

Previously Read This year:

  1. Seed to Seed – Seed Saving & Growing Techniques, by Suzanne Ashworth
  2. Molon Labe – Come and Take Them (A Novel), by Kenneth W. Royce
  3. Everything You Know is Wrong, by Russ Kick (ed.)
  4. YASME – The Danny Weil & Colvin Radio Expeditions, by James D. Cain
  5. Earth Sheltered Houses, by Rob Roy
  6. Small Strawbale – Natural Homes, Projects & Designs, by Bill Steen & Others
  7. Building Green, by Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan
  8. The Age of Bede, by Betty Radice (ed.)
  9. Ten Years Behind the Mast – The Voyage of Theodora R, by Fritz Damler
  10. The Polically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, by Kevin Gutzman
  11. When All Hell Breaks Loose, by Cody Lundi
  12. Transfer (A Novel), by Jerry Furland
  13. The Electric Car, by Michael Westbrook
  14. The Adventure Motorbiking Handbook, by Chris Scott
  15. Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
  16. Patriots – Surviving the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles
  17. The Unthinkable – Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why, by Amanda Ripley
  18. Celsius 7/7, by Michael Gove
  19. The Blacksmith’s Craft – A Primer of Tools and Methods, by Charles McRaven
  20. Leaving the Left, by Keith Thompson
  21. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science
  22. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades
  23. Rocket Mass Heaters – Superefficient Woodstoves You Can Build, by Ianto Evans & Leslie Jackson
  24. Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental, by Marc Gerstein & Michael Ellsberg
  25. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori Brafman & Rom Brafman
  26. The Third Revolution, by Anthony F. Lewis
  27. Dreaming of Jupiter , by Ted Simons
  28. Middle America, by Anthony F. Lewis
  29. The Last of the Mountain Men – Sylvan Hart, by Harold Peterson
  30. Tappan on Survival, by Mel Tappan
  31. Radicals for Capitalism, by Brian Doherty
  32. Carbon in the Solution Not the Problem , by Donald VanDusen
  33. American Farmstead Cheese , by Paul Kindstedt
  34. The Cheese Primer, by Steven Jenkins
  35. Brotherhood of Darkness, by Dr Stanley Monteith
  36. The Driver, by Garet Garrett
  37. Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
  38. Mad Science, by Theodore Gray
  39. The Secure Home, by Joel Skousen
  40. Boston’s Gun Bible, by Boston T. Party
  41. Managing Interstation Interference (Rev. 2nd Ed.), by George Cutsogeorge W2VJN
  42. Terrorist Trail – Backtracking the Foreign Fighter, by H. John Poole
  43. Adventure Motorcycling, by Robert Wicks
  44. Torch, by Lin Anderson
  45. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  46. Wicked Plants, by Amy Stewart
  47. Term Limits, by Vince Flynn
  48. Another Place to Die, by Sam North
  49. The Politically Incorrect Guide to The Great Depression and the New Deal, by Robert Murphy
  50. Sweet and Sour Pie – A Wisconsin Boyhood, by Dave Crehore
  51. Gaia’s Garden – A Guide to Home Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway
  52. How to Build with Grid Beam, by Jergenson, Jergenson & Keppel
  53. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, by Robert P. Murphy
  54. A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M Miller Jr.
  55. Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank
  56. Earth Abides, by George Stewart
  57. Better to Beg Forgiveness, by Michael Z. Williamson
  58. One Second After, by William R. Forstchen
  59. How to Survive the End of the World As We Know I, by James Wesley Rawles
  60. Radio Orienteering – The ARDF Handbook, by Bob Titterington, G3ORY, David Williams, M3WDD and David Deane, G3ZOI

I did beat my goal of reading a book-a-week with Sixty-Six books read.

I’ve been posting much of what I have read at the website, and slowly entering in my reading log from the notebook I’ve kept since the 1980’s.

Let me know if you want information on a specific title, as unless it is Amateur Radio focused they won’t be reviewed here.

Here’s wishing you each a Happy New Years as I start my 2010 reading log!

73 & Happy Reading


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REPOST: Hold Your Head Up, High! – Using a Borrowed Crane as an Instant Antenna Tower

Our local Radio Club has a great time each year doing the ARRL Field Day event.

Mancorad W9DK has a great turnout, a great site to use at “Toboggan Hill” in Silver Creek Park, and generally has a blast with the event.

It also does allow us to set up and run in a field/emergency configuration – which is the whole idea behind Field Day.

One big factor in Field Day performance is Antennas. It seems that more can be gained by good antennas than any other single factor.

The last two years we’ve been able to borrow equipment, just like we might do in an actual emergency, and put an HF beam, a VHF vertical, and a downward looking Video Camera up – up at 100ft.

Here is a shot of the payload, as installed on a mast we’ve made to bolt onto the end of the Borrowed Manitex Crane:

The Antenna Array (and Camera)

If you check out the photo section at our club website there are extensive pictures showing the rigging and errection in to the 2005 & 2006 Field Day photo folders.

Here one photo showing the antennas in use. Imagine 2m simplex into Chicago 160 miles south as the improvement we gained by the exercise.

This sort of field improvisation is easily adaptable to high lift forklift trucks, Manlifts, and all sorts of cranes.

We have gained visitors to the site, some from seeing the antennas on the crane and some through word-of-mouth telling of the performance gains.

The donation of a crane to use each field day has help make our event more interesting.

Now if we could get two cranes and…….



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REPOST: The Carrot Dangle – Encouraging Young Amateurs

What is the “First Step” in insuring the future of Amateur Radio? That is simple, it is getting youth involved!

Education about Amateur Radio is task #1 for attracting youth. From simply making amateur radio known to the youth, to maing sure training & informational materials are out in the community, to running classes – whether HamCram or long-format, to simply Elmering the interested, Education is #1 for Encouraging Young Amateurs.

Youth can even download Technician Licensing Podcasts from HandiHams’ “Ham Radio Study”, or Ham Radio Class, among others (do a Google or search from iTunes).

Amateur Radio License Testing is a common fear, and common excuse amoung interested youth. If you hearken back to when you learned to drive, for many of us our driving instructor took us out on “Mock Road Tests” so we could perfect our technique. Mock Licensing Tests abound on the web, with a favorites being the tests at Logo and tests at Logo.

The Reward of being Licensed – use the Carrot!!

Of course becoming licensed is a reward in itself, but certainly we can add to the experience!

Our local club Mancorad W9DK Mancorad Logogives each newly licensed amateur a year membership as a gift from the club. Other than students who move away for college, where they hopefully join their college club – specially as we tip off their college club to search them out – all the new gift membership members have renewed & stayed active in the club.

On a personal level I dangle a new Handitalkie for each of our children who gets their Technician License (I’ve had to ante-up twice for with new HT’s) and a new Entry Level High Frequency Rig if they go on to General or better (still hoping to have to make good on this!). I would have found them radios when the licensed, but somehow adding the “Carrot” made it a real motivator and a lot more fun!

The next steps for each of us it to see how we can become a “dangler of carrots” in encouraging youth to take up amateur radio. We each have various resources to draw from, with time, talent and money each playing a role.

Put to good use a carrot dangled can bring up the interest level, provide encouragement, get the young amateur involved and on the air!

Have at it team! Carrots Up & Dangling!



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Happy Holidays!

A very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to all!

With family, holidays, using some vacation days and hopefully some Ice Fishing, I’m taking a laize faire approach to the internet during the Holiday period.

Basically you’ll be more likely to catch me on-the-air rather than on-the-net until after Boxing Day (day after Christmas Day) and over the New Years long-weekend the next week.

If the ice is good and the fish are biting well enough to get a bit more serious on the Ice Fishing I’m hoping to drag my portable HF setup out while fishing.

Again our best holiday wishes and a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to all!



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REPOST: Yellow Box – Through the Looking Glass

Looking for the best way to check actual velocity factors, continuity and coax conditions I’ve turned to Time Domain Reflectometry. With the advise of Steve Uhrig, WA3SWS (SK) I narrowed my search down to one of the RiserBond “Yellow Box” TDRs and was able to purchase a surplused unit from an Arizona Contractor who was upgrading to fully computerized versions.

RiserBond 1270 TDR

A TDR is sort of like a Sonar Unit for wire. There are several great on-line write-ups so I’ll simply link to the The Free Dictionary Wiki for your reference.

In use a TDR is simply electrically hooked to the cable, terminated or unterminated, set-up with velocity factors & cable type if known, configured for a couple other adjustements, and then the user interprets the screen.

Actual velocity factor can be worked out by testing from each end using a set procedure.

Interpreting the Screen seems to be the biggest trick. An excellent on-line teaching reference can was found at the RiserBond on-line Training website. PDF Versions of some are now at:

In use you can see connectors/splices, faults, cable changes and even what is electrically going on at the antenna.

At the W9EVT Washington Island QTH we’ve used the TDR to check dozens of cables burried in conduits.

For K9EME’s (was KB9EME) REACT efforts lots of spools of coax and hardline were checked & measured using the TDR. In theory checking spooled cable could require a correction factor, but we found the difference between coiled and uncoiled length readings to be small enough (inch or two over 100-200 ft) to ignore.

At field day with W9DK Mancorad the TDR was used in tandom with antenna analysers to check out and debug the field day antenna arrays.

Not limited to coax, the TDR can be used to check for problems with paired wiring as well.

A TDR is an occassional use item that is expensive enough that perhaps a club or group might chose to buy one rather an individual amateur. I’m told there are some Amateurs who rent out their TDRs to local contractors and other Amateurs, which would partially recover the investment over time.

Much like Alice’s Looking Glass, looking at cable performance and the inspection of inaccessably wires & coax with a TDR is simply magic!



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GUEST POST – Paul AE5JU’s Radio Adventures – Part 3 PSK31

Here is my good friend Paul Coats follow up article – Paul AE5JU’s Radio Adventures – Part 3 PSK31




Part 3

I went back to Larry’s home. He could not get his radios to transmit. A few weeks ago he had made a QSO on his first transmission received a QSL card in the mail. We had it working then, but can’t get it to work now.

Digital Master 780 works, puts out an audio signal, but we can’t get either his Kenwood TS-140 or his Icom 718 to kick into transmit mode. PTT is not working.

What I think has happened is that either his webcam or a camera program has taken over the Comport and will not release it. He had also had a new DVD drive installed and had problems with that. He said the computer tech swapped cables between the CD-ROM drive and the new DVD drive and now has both of those working.

Previously Ham Radio Deluxe would at least connect with the Icom 718 (though not with his Kenwood), but HRD and DM780 would not communicate. At that time we were able to make both radios transmit by using DM780 only, not opening HRD.

Larry has a laptop at his other home which he will bring down and we will try that.

And now on to another subject.

Most laptop computers don’t have Line In / Line Out sound card connections, only mic and earphone. In the past I have used an external USB soundcard, the iMic by Griffin Technology. The iMic is one of the few USB soundcards that has Line In / Line Out. Most external sound cards have Mic In only, and the mismatch in levels is quite a problem.

I have just received the Behringer UCA202, which has Line level inputs and outputs via RCA phono jacks. The UCA202 is about the size of the Rigblaster Plug & Play.

Cost was $30.00 USD purchased from JR Electronics,

The UCA202 has RCA Phono jacks, a pair for Left and Right channel inputs, and another pair for Left and Right channel outputs. To connect to the Rigblaster’s 1/8″ audio plugs I used two Radio Shack Model 274-871 adapters. These have 1/8″ mono jacks on one end, and RCA Phono plugs on the other. Though the Rigblaster’s (and other interfaces) audio connections use 1/8″ stereo plugs, only the left channel is actually used (the “tip” of the plug). This 274-871 adapter’s 1/8″ mono jack works just fine for both input and output with the Behringer’s RCA Phono jacks. The Rigblaster’s input and output cables must be plugged into the UCA202’s left channel input and output jacks.

The UCA202 has a separate 1/8″ stereo jack and volume control for monitoring with headphones.

This soundcard is “Plug & Play” so it does not require installation of drivers, at least with my HP laptop with Vista Home 32-bit.

After connecting the radio with the Rigblaster Plug & Play and Berhinger UCA202 soundcard I had soon made five contacts with no more than a minute between each one.


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