Practical Amateur Radio Podcast–I’m Back!!

PARPiTunes

As previously mentioned, I took some time away from the hobby and as a result I also took time away from podcasting about our wonderful hobby.

About a month ago, I eased back in to the hobby and have been having a blast getting on the air.  Anyway…this last Sunday I recorded and released the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast episode 69.  PARP 69 discusses the practical use of antenna analyzers and tuners.  I also discuss the extraordinary Elmer efforts of Dan Romanchik, KB6NU and his “No Non-Sense” study guides and other projects.  I also introduce PARP listeners to the newly formed amateur radio podcast, 100 Watts & A Wire hosted by Christian Cudnik, K0STH and Katie Allen, WY7YL.   You can visit the PARP website to listen and subscribe

My plan for future episodes of PARP is taking shape, but my commitment to the hobby comes first.  After all, I need to be active in our wonderful hobby to be at my best podcasting about it. 

Thanks for all who have listened to PARP over the years and thanks for your continued support. 

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK (Jerry)

Posted in Amateur Radio Tagged ,

Windows 10

I’ve earned my living in the fascinating world of information technology for many years.  The first Microsoft OS which I remember using was Windows 3.0 and since Windows 3.1 I’ve professional supported just about each version published.

My main shack PC is a 3 years old desktop PC and it’s been running Windows 7 since I built it.  Before that I had been running Windows XP on an even older machine.  While both OS versions supported my enjoyment of the amateur radio hobby, I’ve been very pleased with what Windows 7 had become.  Even at the professional level, I find Windows 7 to be a very stable and easy to support OS in the corporate arena.

Like most everyone else, I had been carefully watching the news regarding Windows 10.  Back to my professional experience, we moved away from Windows XP as a standard about 3 years ago and have been deploying all employee PC’s (mostly laptops) with Windows 7.  We skipped Windows 8 (just as we did with Vista) and our long term plan will be to begin moving to Windows 10 at some point in the future. 

Anyway, as I stated….Windows 7 is what I use for all my home PC’s and it’s worked out very well.  My main shack PC which I use to perform all logging (contest and otherwise) along with digital modes and rig control works great.  This machine logged a QSO for each and every day in 2012 and half of 2014.  It’s just a solid machine.  However, I must admit that I found myself a bit intrigued by what other hams had been posting about their Windows 10 upgrade experience.

However, I must admit that other than testing new software in my professional role….I have tried to get out of the business of living on the bleeding/cutting edge of technology.  Meaning, while I very much consider myself a geek and I truly love to have the latest and greatest gadgets…I’ve generally followed the rule of never upgrading to a new Operating System until the first service pack has been released.  Even then I proceed with caution.

But as Microsoft tends to put out a great OS every other version and a not so great OS the other times (Great OS = Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 7) (Not so great OS = Windows ME, Vista, Windows 8.x) I knew Windows 10 was going to be in the great category and as I said I had been hearing good things from other hams.  So I decided to take the plunge.

After spending time backing up my important files (HRD logbook, all application source files, documents, pictures etc.) I started the upgrade process.    Now I must admit that I really don’t like the upgrade from one OS to another process.  Additionally, I’ve never had good luck with it.  Generally it is almost always better to do a clean install of an OS on a freshly formatted hard drive.  But I figure I didn’t have anything to lose.  So upgrade we go….

After about 30 minutes my system restarted and I said goodbye to Windows 7 and hello to Windows 10.  Of course my main areas of concern was whether my amateur radio apps would all work.  I wanted to make sure my log was working and that I could upload to LoTW, eQSL and Club Log.  I also checked to make sure rig control worked across all my connected rigs via their USB Serial Cables.  All check and good to go.   I also quickly checked to make sure other contest logging software worked. 

I have nothing negative to report about my Windows 10 upgrade experience.  From what I can see (and this is my non-professional opinion as I’ve not spent enough time testing in the corporate environment) but Windows 10 might very well be the absolute best OS Microsoft has developed and best of all….It’s Free!

Just for the record.  While I said I had nothing to lose by trying the upgrade, this machine has been progressively getting slower and slower over the past few months.  So much so that I had actually planned on performing a rebuild.   The upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 did slightly improve my sluggish performance, but I think I’ll most likely do a complete rebuild in the coming weeks.

So should you upgrade to Windows 10?  I believe only you can really answer that question.  If you are eligible and you have hardware that will run it…I would say go for it.  If you don’t see the option to do the upgrade in your system tray you can go to this Microsoft page and start the process. 

I’ll be sure to provide additional updates on my Windows 10 experience, but for now I’m pleased (really pleased) with what I see. 

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

P.S.  I’m having a blast easing back into the hobby.  I am wrapping my content for the next PARP episode and looking forward to recording it and getting it out to all of you.  Thank you for your continued friendship. 

Posted in Amateur Radio Tagged , ,

JT65 FUN and Easing Back In

This will be a very brief blog update.  The last time I updated my blog site was soon after the first of the year.  I provided (or tried to provide) an explanation to my long absence both on the bands, the blogosphere and the podcast airwaves.  I’m not going to go rehash that as you can read that posting here.    However, one thing I did mention in that posting was amateur radio was by no means the cause of my grief, it (among a few other things) just reminded me of it. 

Anyway, last night I had a bit of free time and decided to go down to my basement ham shack and switch on the computers, switch on the radios and see what was happening on the bands.  My Yaesu FT-897 was parked on 14.076 (right where I had left it almost a year ago) and much to my surprise everything still worked.  After syncing my PC clock (it was some 4+ minutes off) I fired up HRD, launched the JT65-HF software and the waterfall began filling up.  It was a good feeling answering my first CQ in almost a year. 

I’m not sure just how active I will be in the coming weeks or months.  My intention is to enjoy the hobby and see where things lead me.  Regarding my podcast (The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast), I really don’t want it to just fade away.   While it has been 14+ months since I released an episode, the site still gets a lot of traffic and I occasionally still receive emails asking what is going on.  But before PARP ever returns, I need to get engaged back into the hobby.  I’ve always said I was only at my very best podcasting about amateur radio when I was active and involved.

In closing, I want to thank those of you who wrote to me over the past year.  The words of encouragement really helped.  I can’t remember who told me this, but one of the comments or emails I received just simply told me that amateur radio would still be here when I was ready to come back.  Yep…that’s right! 

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK  aka Jerry

Posted in Amateur Radio Tagged

A long time coming….

This blog post is LOOOOONNNNGGGG overdue and for that I’m truly sorry.  I suppose when one builds some sort of following via social media and through blogging and podcasting and then just vanishes the concern may arise.  Please allow me to take a moment to provide some explanation.

As many of you know I was actively pursuing a QSO a day in 2014 and having an absolute blast operating in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party.  While my podcast had suffered a few months of neglect, I was active on Twitter and actively blogging about my progress with the QSO a Day and the ARRL Centennial operations.  All was going well until mid August then everything changed.  The life (and world) my wife and I had created just simply crashed around us in a devastating manner.

My wife and I do not have any children.  She and I were both raised around animals and grew up with dogs and cats in our lives.  While I had spent much of my adult life without animals, this all changed when I met my wife and she moved to the US.  I became the daddy of two cats (Socks and Moustey).  Socks and Moustey traveled to the US (Denver) on a British Airways Boeing 777 and in their long life had managed to live in three different countries (Belgium, England and US). 

We lost Socks in the fall of 2008.  At the time he was 15-16 years old and had lived a good life.  My wife had given him the very best life a pussy cat could ever want.  At the time of Socks’ passing, Moustey was also 15-16 years old and we were concerned if she remained the only cat in our house that she might suffer.  So we adopted a kitten and named him Skye.

Now, after about two years we realized that Moustey really wanted a more relaxed and less stressful life from what Skye (being 2 years old) wanted.  So we adopted another kitten (Mickey) in 2010.  Mickey and Skye were best friends and Moustey was allowed to gracefully retire for the most part and our little family was happy and content.

Moustey passed away on August 8 of 2013 at the age of 23 years old.  About 30 minutes after Moustey left us to go to the Rainbow Bridge, I received a call from my mom that my grandmother had passed away.  This all happened the week before my wife and I were scheduled to fly to Belgium to visit her family.  August 2013 was not a great month.  But as we would soon discover, August 2014 was going to be even worse.

Mickey began throwing up.  Now this is just something cats do and if you are a cat person….you know this.  So after the second day we decided to take Mickey to the vet.  We took him to our local vet and he was examined.  The vet could find nothing wrong.  He performed an x-ray and scan.  No blockages detected…basically nothing detected to give any cause of alarm.  We were sent home with some medicine and told all should be fine in 24 hours.

24 hours later Mickey was not improving.  He was not eating and he was not drinking.  My wife and I decided to take him to the 24 hour animal hospital. After about 30 minutes, we were told what they thought might be the cause and for the first time in my life I heard the term dysautonomia. 

Dysautonomia is a disease which attacks the central nervous system and causes it to malfunction.  Additional scans and x-rays were performed of Mickey’s esophagus and stomach.  Basically the disease prevents the esophagus from delivering food into the stomach and also fails to prevent the stomach acids from flowing up the esophagus.  Basically causing an extremely bad case of acid refux.

There are many other symptoms which Mickey exhibited.  Sort of the final test to determine if he had Dysautonomia was  his heart rate.  His heart rate was very low and when given a dose of atropine (which normally causes the heart rate to increase) his stayed low. 

We were told Mickey only had a few days (at best) to live and we took him home with us and spent about four hours with him before we had a service come to our home to help him pass away peacefully.

While I dearly loved both Mickey and Skye very much, Mickey was my little buddy.  He would follow me all around the house.  I taught him to play fetch when he was just a kitten and we were very close.  Mickey was only 4 years old.

Of course, panic started to set in and we asked the hospital if it was possible for Skye to also have this disease.  They told us it was very rare and while we were very sad to have lost Mickey, we were both determined to show a brave front around Skye and knew he would also miss Mickey very much.

Just a few days after we said goodbye to Mickey, Skye began throwing up.  We called the hospital and they reassured us how rare it would be for Skye to also get this.  And we should understand that Skye is grieving as well and to relax.

Well….less than a week later we were saying our goodbyes to Skye.  He also developed this cruel disease.  Skye died one week after Mickey.  Skye was 6 years old.

We all face the certainty of death.  We are born and we will die.  The same applies to cats.  While we grieved for Socks and Moustey….we accepted the fact that it was their time.  They lived a long and good life.  But this just simply is not the case with Mickey and Skye.  They were taken from us far, far too early. 

Unfortunately, we do not know what caused Dysautonomia to come crashing into our lives.  Most vets still say it is rare for the disease to pass from one to another.  I guess we suspect food.  But as I said, we have no proof.

Anyway….my wife and I still struggle with this loss.  It may sound strange, but when I started to think about getting on the air, or doing anything amateur radio related….I thought about my cats and it made me sad.  Yes, I’m still sad and I know that ham radio isn’t the cause of anything and I know my interest will return.  But this is why I’ve been mostly silent.

Thank you for understanding and thank you for reading. 

73,

Jerry

KDØBIK

Posted in News, Personal

2014 QSO A Day Challenge–50% Complete

I’m late in getting this update published.  I was on vacation (staycation at home) as June ended and July began.  This past week was my first week back and I was swamped at work.  But all is on track and I’ve completed at least one QSO each and every day in 2014 and the challenge is well over 50% complete. 

In addition, to keeping my QSO per day streak alive…I’ve also managed to add at least one new DX entity each month in 2014.  June was no exception with the addition of Saint Lucia.   This makes 10 new DX entities added to my log this year. 

As I started with my May update, my progress in the 2014 ARRL Centennial QSO Party continues to progress.   The numbers below are as of mid July.

Centennial Points Score:  9,049

Total QSO’s:  1,539

Rank (All): 1,230

Rank (Colorado): 14th

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The QSO breakdown for June is as follows:

Mode  Number QSO’s

JT65 20

JT9 32

SSB 538

PSK31 0

MFSK16 0

RTTY 0

2m FM 0

Additional notes of interest:

DX Stations Worked in June – 44

New DX Entities in June – 1

New DX Entities for 2014 – 10

Total QSO’s for June – 590

Total QSO’s for 2014 – 2,234

Total consecutive QSO days – 181

Days left in 2014 – 184

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Posted in Amateur Radio, QSO A Day Tagged