Sunday, July 29, 2012

Helping other Ham's in time of need

Well, this was certainly an interesting weekend...  Apparently, I'm Google "search-able" somehow or another

I received a phone call from a young man, who explained that his grandfather - WZ0T, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He said that he and his father had travelled to Newport News, Virginia to be with his grandfather.  The father and son were planning on packing up all of home furnishings and they had no idea how to "take down" the 40' tower in the back yard.  "Did I know someone who could help?"

Wow - talking about feeling responsible for helping, "Of course I can try to find someone to help!"  I offered to try and find someone who might be able to help.

I thought of a few people and a good friend of my immediately came to mind - N4MW, Dave.  Dave is a well "traveled" tower climber and I had all the confidence in the world that he'd be able to help these guys with at least some answers.  I called Dave and he graciously agreed to talk with the family.  Dave called back later, let me know that he'd be heading down on Sunday afternoon to help take the beam and tower down, "Would I like to help?"  OF COURSE!!!!

A little bit of a side note here; my wife and daughter left this morning for a week long mission trip to New York City - they'll be serving the homeless throughout Brooklyn, please pray for them :)  Selfishly, that also meant that I didn't have much of a timeline for the afternoon and could play radio!

I meet up with Dave on Sunday afternoon and we head off with all his tools of destruction and mayhem - I mean he had a LOT of tools, very specialized tools tailored for just the kind of work we were heading off to do.

We arrived and after a bit of "negotiation" agreed that the beam and rotor would stay with the family and the tower would go home with Dave.  This was great, I was going to see a pro at work!

Dave climbed the tower and fixed the broken/jammed "Hazer" and managed to slowly lower the beam down to the ground.  Well, not quite the ground but about 5' off the ground, which was perfect for working on getting the bolts off the mast.  We removed the beam and positioned it around the yard so it would be out of the way of any potential damage.  After removal of miscellaneous cables, coax, ropes, etc. we then began the work of dropping the tower to the ground.

Dave tied a rope 2/3 of the way to the top of the tower and tied it to his truck; he tied a 2nd rope to the other side of the tower and I hauled it over to the opposite side of the yard.  He cut the 1st tower leg and then cut the 2nd and 3rd legs partially through.  Dave got into his truck and gave me the go-ahead to start pulling.  Pull I did and the tower began to tilt my way; Dave started moving his truck forward a little bit and the tower was coming down!  It made it's way to the ground and that part of the job was complete!

We disassembled the tower legs, cleaned up the tools and packed the tower parts into the truck.  We said goodbye to the family and headed on back to Dave's QTH.

All in all, a very good afternoon!

73 de KJ4WLH

Sunday, July 15, 2012

QST - Radio Run Article submitted

I just submitted the RARC 2012 "Radio Run" article to QST.  Let's see if they are interested in the details of our club's June event :)

2012 Geek-A-Thon and Radio "Field Day"

Geek-A-Thon 2012 "Field Day" setup
I had the opportunity to "help" the youth of today with a church "Lock-In" - aptly named a "Geek-A-Thon" (GAT).  The GAT is all about playing X-Box 360, PS3, and computer games from 15:00 on a Thursday until 09:00 on Friday - Yeah, 18 straight hours of gaming "fun!"

This year I decided to bring some things that were fun for me :)  I did a mini-field day where I hooked up an 80m Buckmaster and 2m/70cm vertical to my Icom 7000.  A little PSK, some SSB on 6m, 80m, and of course - talking to the local repeater guys as well.

It was a really fun time - EXCEPT for the fact that the assisted living home RIGHT NEXT DOOR had the fire alarm GO OFF about 5 minutes after I started transmitting!  I just knew that I'd triggered the fire alarm system - but NO, someone had been smoking in bed and set their mattress on fire!  Who would have thought that!!!

Anyway, a few boys stopped by and inquired, had some QSO's and just wanted to know what all that "stuff" was about.  It was "about" fun was my response - and it is!

73 de KJ4WLH

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

MacLoggerDX & CocoaModem - IC-9100 & MacBook Air => A GREAT Combination!

So I'm now "playing" with 2 pretty neat applications for my MacBook Air...

MacLoggerDX and cocoaModem

Mac Logger DX does what you think it does - it does logging.  You know what else it does?  It interfaces DIRECTLY to my IC-9100 through the USB cable using the native "serial" interface provided by the transceiver :)  That makes me VERY happy!  Oh, it also has the 9100 CAT command set built in, which means it knows how to address and read the data from the transceiver without ANY effort on my part.  Lazy, Impatience, and Hubris - 3 of my favorite traits...

cocoaModem does the "other" thing that I use a computer to do with a transceiver - PSK31 :)  Oh, and guess what - IT ALSO found the IC-9100 sound card and uses the MacLoggerDX for keying (PTT)!  That's right, between both of those programs, I don't need a single 3rd party piece of hardware or software - they just work together...

Now, I just need to figure out how to use them efficiently and I'll be good to go!

73 de KJ4WLH

Sunday, July 1, 2012

30 days of QSO's - Finally at an end! Whoo!

One of my local clubs, the Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC), sponsored a "challenge" (not really a contest) that was called the "Radio Run".  The goal of the "Radio Run" was to have a QSO every day of the month of June - mode, band, power didn't really matter - what was important was to have the QSO!

(See "rules" here - Radio Run Rules)

So, yes!  I did manage to complete the "Radio Run" successfully.  Mostly the guilt and imagining the amount of greif that I would get if I didn't finish really helped me keep it going!

Ok, on a serious note - it was a lot of fun.  The challenge really made me think of ways to incorporate radio into my daily activity; even when it wasn't so easy to do.  (Like traveling on a business trip! - Long live the D-Star DVAP!!!)