Monthly Archives: December 2022

Sixteen Days and What Do You Get? – K9ZW Home Remote Back Up

Old sayings:

“Troubles never arrive alone.” (Central European Saying)


Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time…

One little SSD in my OPNSense Router takes a dive, and the knock-on effects ripple across the LAN and across WAN access.

Sixteen days ago that SSD borked the K9ZW Home Station’s remote capabilities along with about everything else at our home.

As I type I am making the first QSOs of a temporarily restored setup, using a low-feature router in place of the failed unit.

Some upsides is that most of the data from the failed SSD was recovered, including the OPNSense configuration file, the temporary router seems to be working well enough, and other than SPOT BBS which needs another configuration sort out to be back up, things are running.

Downsides is the original device ate the replacement SSD and the problem may be deeper than a bad SSD. The replacement ordered – a Q1055GE PfSense Industrial Router 8 * 2.5GbE I225V B3 LAN Intel Core i5-10210U Processor 6M Cache, up to 4.20 GHz Fanless Mini PC AES-NI 4*USB Rs232 Firewall Appliance(8G DDR4 RAM, 256G mSATA SSD) – will take a couple weeks to arrive. And the SPOT BBS configuration remains an enigma as I made less notes than I need now to unravel the software specific reconfiguring – that is a “my bad” issue.

So little by little the gremlins are being dealt with!  And it is a lot more fun to be back on the air remotely!




Borked and Broken

Winter is harsh on equipment and people. In no particular order we’ve had:

  • Several Family with post-surgery health issues. Last count approaching 50 December Hospital and Nursing Home visits, and about half again empty home visits to shovel and do chores.
  • K9ZW Work QTH antenna broke in the very high winds. Need a lift to assess.
  • K9ZW Home main beam antenna rotator system broke. Need a rough terrain lift to assess.
  • K9ZW Home main router’s internal SSD died, putting both the K9ZW Home station and SPOT BBS offline. Temporary replacement installed, need to fuss with the port forwarding next.  A large amount of the system will need some TLC to make updates as a lot of it has been borked due to the changes.
  • K9ZW Island Internet/Phone Service provider – Frontier – has gone crazy.  They had stopped billing us, interrupted services, demanded extra payments because they could not produce my bills to pay, and latest have decided my landline (kept for 911/safety) and basic internet should cost three times as much as before. Working through this one, as alternatives a slim.
  • K9ZW Home Hot Water Heater died, so no home hot water.  It was repeatedly blown out by the high winds, which exposed an End-of-Life fault in the gas controller, and that the unit was old over all. Plumber replaced the entire unit Wednesday December 28th as repair parts would nearly match replacement costs and parts were a couple weeks out for delivery.
  • K9ZW Home Internet Provider decided our Gateway/Modem was also flakey, and the expedited replacement/upgrade unit spent a week in transit due to “Weather Exception.” Will need to swap units this weekend.
  • A family “home phone” cellular based phone used from a local nursing home went flakey due to the 3G/LTE/5G tower change overs/shutdowns. New “base station” unit has arrived, now I need to install it for family.
  • The ARRL reached out as yet another large box of misdirected QSL cards arrived at ARRL HQ. Need to send the forwarding money so I can add these additional 1000 QSLs to my outgoing project.
  • Hospitalized family needed help getting their Christmas gifts done, their donations & taxes done before year end, and many administrative tasks. Mission accomplished and documented.
  • A home we are watching while the owner isn’t there, had minor wind damage including a door that blew open. “Winter Grade” repairs completed, including securing the door for now.
  • At that same home the hired Snow Plow guy “ghosted.”  As the ghost couldn’t be contacted, found someone else to clear snow at that house.
  • Elderly family friends needed visiting.  Their expected family was weather delayed for close to a week.  Visits made, including right at Christmas.
  • Pressures on my time (our home “snow removal guy”)  made it hard to keep up with the snow and drifts.  I arranged for some help on this.
  • There is more… the list goes on…

None of this stuff is all that much to deal with, but when it comes in waves it uses up time & resources quickly.  I think I am writing this a a bit of diary and also as an explanation why With Vary Frequency is off.



Merry Christmas

Wishing each of you a Merry Christmas.

It becomes so reassuring that the importance of Christmas doesn’t wait on us to be ready, as for certain this year we were not “ready.”

The December 2022 run up to Christmas if recounted would read like an adversity movie script.  

Yet out of a month of daily out of town hospital then nursing home visits, loss of a dear friend, several family suddenly with serious health adventures, and the dozen other lesser glitches – including the deep cold weather, the running the household affairs for unwell family, several hardware issues sidelining my remote radio station, and family with minor illnesses, very special things have come to the surface.

Faith and people.

Faith in the acceptance of where our brief lives fit.  The XYL asked if it was the services and singing, though I’m feeling mindful prayer is presently my personal relevance.

Then the kind hearts of people who’ve reached out sharing their concerns and prayers for family means a lot. The life sustaining skills brought into play to help several family members, along with the deep compassion shared facing death of friends, are absolutely humbling.

So much to be grateful for, so much to look forward to.

Merry Christmas!

Quiet Tribute – George W9EVT SK

A very special friend completed his life journey. One of those people in your life you hold out as both friend and mentor.

I did not want to post a tribute until his family was ready to tell people that George Ulm W9EVT became an SK (Silent Key – aka “died’).

George lived a large life, and had a special knack of gaining interesting people as his acquaintances.  We traveled to the Dayton Hamvention and the number of ham celebrities who would come up to warmly greet George W9EVT was impressive.

Reaching out to help others learn the amateur radio hobby featured as a goal for George.  If a person found themselves in the W9EVT hamshack, he would put them on the air.  Often letting them use one of his “dream machine” transceivers.

My life has been made better being able to count George as a friend, an Elmer (mentor), Neighbor, and fellow ham.  Seeing the loving support Susan and their family provided to keep George on the air and “free range” into his 90’s is inspiring.

When the shadow of such a towering figure sets, the question remains -a  lingering concern actually – of the challenge to do anywhere near as well sharing unto others as what George W9EVT had done.



W9EVT page –
W9EVT Obituary/Memorial – link to follow


An Update – Posts Will Resume Sometime Soon

“Life is an Adventure” and while those in the K9ZW immediate household have only been indirectly affected, we have been very busy helping family & friends.

Six airport runs, fourteen hospital runs to out of town hospitals, fourteen home visits, another twelve nursing home visits, a raft of extra chores ranging from getting supplies to the immobile to covering household paperwork with bills for for those taken ill, and a few things I likely have forgotten have filled up our last two weeks.

I’ve missed my daily exercises a couple days, though checking the number of steps my phone recorded I mostly substituted steps for gym/pool.

An upside is as were have been on the go so much, that we’ve been able to meet with a few friends when we have stopped to have a meal. Rather fabulous to do so, as the friendship counterpoint was actually more nurturing than the meals.

I’ll likely write more later about being prepared before what expected to be short term medical care, by at least having a good plan-b in place. That is in no way a criticism of those we are helping out, as it is really directed at myself – I think in a similar “suddenly sidelined” situation I would be leaving an unfair mess to sort out.

There may be a post or two that I finish up and publish before the Holidays, but then maybe not. All depends on time available, and also resolving the other niggles like the failed SSD in my router, along with other gremlins that almost always seem to pop up when you are very busy.

I still need to fully clear the fallen trees from the storms this month.

The router breakdown has killed my remote station, so that will take a bit to reconfigure once the router is repaired. Perhaps this weekend?  Ditto for the K9ZW SPOT BBS project.

Oh there have been some plusses.

Everyone who needed to travel made their flights, including an elderly friend who’s ride developed a virus-problem causing them to back out suddenly.

The use of a combination of a family conference call system and a messaging system has worked famously, by keeping everyone informed and involved. I will write about this down the road, as better communications kept our fears and worries lower.

Another plus in the midst I had my end of year in-depth full physical and that went very well indeed. I had expected the stresses to show up adversely, but not so it seems.

And we’ve made some new friends along the way.

All of this sounds like a a double-dose of good old “life,” eh?

More soon, Merry Christmas, and 73


Stuff Breaks – Router Failure affects K9ZW Station and SPOT BBS Project

Minor hardware failure with replacement parts already in the works, has put the SPOT BBS and the remote aspect of the Home QTH K9ZW Station off line.

An internal SSD failed in a router/firewall, failing well before the expected MTBF.

Simply did not have time to program in the ports and configurations into the backup setup with everything else going on.