Access Denied

It’s quite interesting to note that I am no longer allowed access to www.abovetopsecret.com because the content is categorized as, “Alternative Spirituality/Belief;Newsgroups/Forums.” ATS members exchange and debate their Above top Secret approved ideas and theories on a variety of “alternative topics”, including UFOs and extraterrestrial life, political scandals, New World Order, the 2012 phenomenon, cryptozoology, and secret societies. (source). So the content is already considered by some “questionable material.”

At my previous employer it seemed to be a weekly occurrence that a favored web site of mine would suddenly end up on the ‘Access Denied’ list. While I have no idea who maintained this filter, it became rather frustrating. Many times I would frequent forum based web sites, for example QRZ.com and MercuryCougar.net. Both of these sites I use specifically for the forums. Oddly enough neither ever made the list. But the forums for the game I helped develop was put on the list. To this day I have no reason why. Could it be because the word, ‘terror’ was in the domain name?

I am sure my time perusing the web site, Godlike Productions while at work is limited and will most likely end up on the “Access Denied’ list in the coming month(s). Why? The content is similar to that of ATS and presented in a forum and probably more loose in terms of moderation. Yet as of this posting, I still have complete access to it.

While not too surprising I can access ATS via the IP address (67.228.0.162), although I am sure this too is against policy and it would probably be advisable if I didn’t. Too bad to see more and more of my frequently visited sites being on the ‘Access Denied’ list. Guess that is why it’s called work.

Solar: A Viable Option?

Recently a discussion on the NCCC Reflector was from Ken, N6RO “going green” and installing a massive solar system to help power his super-station. Considering he seemingly hosts operators on a regular basis and the price of energy continues to escalate. He posted all the details  of construction and the system as well as usage projected usage stats and price compared to when the system will start feeding power back to the PG&E power grid here in Northern California.

I was on QRZ.com and stumbled upon a post by Russ, KD0EIA and the need “for HAMS to get their stations powered by alternative energy.” I completely agree with his assessment. One of my arguments when I went before the HOA was the “first responder” fact. Unfortunately if something happens and power goes out, I too will be without communication since I do not have a generator or any other alternative source to power my station. Thankfully I can use the FT-857D in my truck in a pinch, but solar is probably the way to go.

Unfortunately one of the sticking points for me right now, the price point. While I don’t need a massive solar array or enough power to generate electricity to the entire house, but I would like to start out by providing enough solar power to keep my station running (with or without the linear amplifier). Russ provides a link to his information on his QRZ profile, which is a good starting point.

Previous my interest was sparked by a post from Scott, N3FJP on the N3FJP Yahoo Group, author of the logging software. He dedicated some bandwidth to his solar projects including a hot air collector, hot water project, space heating and solar electricity. It’s interesting to do some worksheets and figure out the cost versus return.

Some sites that have been recommended: Backwoods Solar Electric Systems, Sun Electrics and Home Power Magazine. It will still take a bit of investigation and consideration before making any sort of investment. Some would argue a solar system might not be viable for ham radio. Others recommend a generator as “backup power.” Since I am not planning on powering my entire house a portable generator with a few cans of gasoline might be the way to go. Solar, even on a small scale that I am considering will probably be more than I want to invest.

JA7COI: Update from Japan

Even in a very difficult situation, such as japan is suffering in the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake, devastating tsunami and the continued leak at the Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant, it’s good to get news from afar regarding a friend.

While I have never met Ichiro, JA7COI, I feel I have a unique friendship with him all because of ham radio. It was in 1976 my father, at the time, W6ONV worked JA7COI in a contest and some 30 years late I, as W6ONV received a QSO card.

Since that time I have worked Ichiro on numerous bands using numerous modes and it is always a special QSO. I think even now, as Japan recovers from the earthquake, I have a stronger relationship with Ichiro. Thankfully he updated me and all the other hams he knows yesterday on his QRZ.com profile:

We had extremely heavy earthquake on 2011/Mar/11th. The direct damages were so serious in the area faced to the Pacific. On the shore side in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefecture, 20,000 people or more were swept away by the tsunami. Whole of some cities (people, houses, buildings) was carried away to the sea. Number of victims are not sure yet because the basic resident registers were lost. One of estimated heights of tsunami was 23meters. Huge numbers of victim are still under the wreckage and sea. The search does not go quick because the field is very wide and damaged. The total victims may increase to 40 or 50 thousands. Other big problem is the accidents in nuclear power station in Fukushima. It has serious stage of radiation leak. Huge number of people lost their houses. About 200,000 refugees are taking simple shelters which are hurriedly set in public buildings. The lack of food, fuel and medicine afflicts them. JARL HQ has been taking very quick action to keep the emergency traffic. You can visit  the unbelievable scenes on http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/jishin0311/.

My QTH Akita is located in the opposite side to the Pacific. So, all of my family had no direct damage by the tsunami in spite of very strong earthquake. Heavy aftershocks are still continuing now though half month passed. I check the radiation of atmosphere by GM-counter every day. But I have no abnormal count at all. My ham radio equipment has no damage, but I have been keeping QRT to save energy. We will overcome the disaster. I am alive.

I believe the last sentence holds all that is important, “I am alive.” While I did not QSO with JA7COI during WPX a week ago, it is great to know he, his family and friends are doing okay. I look forward to working Ichiro in the future. Always a special QSO for me. 73.

New Wire Antenna

The great thing about amateur radio is you can experiment and learn from what works and what doesn’t. Currently I have two antennas, the Hustler 6BTV, which is a 24′ vertical antenna that tunes 6 bands (10-40M). The other antenna is a Alpha Delta DX-EE, which is a multi-band dipole, using inductor coils for 40M. The vertical is the only antenna currently connected using LMR400 to the FT-1000MP. Thankfully the filtering of the rig and the addition of the Alpha 76PA have allowed me to work weak stations I can hear, that would not have been the case prior to the addition of the linear.

But this entry is not about the linear or the rig, I am focusing on being able to receive/transmit better using a unique antenna. They say any random wire can be used as an antenna. I have no previous experience using a random wire since I have no trees in my backyard and the only vertical component is the roof line of our house. What I am considering (which has not been modeled on EZNEC) is a combination sloper/inverted vee antenna.

I have found some limited information on a few searches on Google and some discussion at QRZ.com and eHam. I want to set up what is essentially a simple dipole at the apex of the roof and run it down and out, hopefully achieving a 90-100 degree angle, to the corners of my fence in the backyard. Thus a sloping, inverted vee. Will it warm more than clouds? I am not sure. From what I have read it could have some limited success, based on a multitude of factors. The wire would be fed by ladder line (300 or 450 Ohm) possibly to an external tuner and then to the rig.

I have plans I drew up back in December, based off a similar discussion of KI6DCN on the QRZ Forums, who had plans of a similar nature. I will hopefully be able to model this antenna using EZNEC and see if the results would be acceptable and I should try to get up on the roof in my condition (when the XYL isn’t home) and run some wire.

Until that time I am going to raise the DX-EE today after work at about 18′ high and see what sort of luck I have working 20 and 40M mainly. If I recall, I had some great success receiving weak stations even at 18′ better than I did with the 24′ vertical. Over the course of the weekend, I did not play on the radio much, but I did have 4 SSB (voice) contacts. Three of those were from hams in Michigan, participating in their state QSO party, all of whom complemented me on my strong signal. That, thanks in part to the amp, which I had running at about 1100-1200w.

I also heard a weak station, W5AZO (Patty) from Richardson, Texas who was participating in the Spring Lites QSO Party. I responded to her CQ call and got a very good report from her. Neither of these contests I was involved in, but I enjoy these “quick” exchanges. At least I know things are working with the station and the linear is living up to its expectations. Not that I had any doubt after the work accomplished by N4UQ.

Forums vs IRC

It was two weeks ago yesterday I had my knee operated on. Since that day I have made two follow up trips to the doctor’s office, this past Monday was to get the stitches removed. Unfortunately, I am not experiencing more pain than I had prior to surgery on a daily basis. Of course if I were to twist wrong prior to my surgery my knee would usually give out or cause a terrible amount of pain.

Since the operation I have been on pain medication, as well as ice therapy and a movement machine that helped bend my knee. Physical therapy starts today, which is a good thing as the road to recovery is starting. There is a good chance I have been on my leg too much, which might account for some of the pain, but I have a sense that the pain is left over from surgery.

Since the femoral block and all other medication has worn off I have no feeling on the right side of my knee, I have a shooting pain, possibly from the common peroneal nerve, that starts at the lower, outside portion of my knee, down across my shin and into my toes. I continue to experience an intense stabbing (hundreds of needles, like when a limb falls asleep, but worse) pain across all five toes. I’m sorry, but this is painful, yet the doctor has said if this is a result of surgery I will be the first one to suffer from it in the 20 years he has been doing it.

So my next appointment is three weeks from today, hopefully the pain will be gone by that time, but if its not, then I expect something to be done. Hell, I don’t care if they have to cut the knee open again, I cannot go on living with the pain I am suffering on a daily basis. I might even call and request more pain medication, something stronger than the Norco I am using now, which doesn’t seem to have much effect, but the Percocet seemed to work better. I am no doctor, nor do I ever play one, but since the misdiagnosed ACL tear by two physicians, I am beginning to wonder if there is more wrong than meets the eye.