Tuesday, March 30, 2021

98.7% of VHF/UHF Traffic on 2m & 70cm

 According to some recently compiled stats by Bob K0NR, the vast majority (98.7%) of SOTA (Summits On The Air) VHF-and-higher traffic is on the 2m and 70cm amateur radio bands.  Now, this does not exactly say that hams aren't using the numerous other VHF/UHF and higher bands, and furthermore, SOTA usage may or may not be a fair proxy for general usage (but I suspect that it mostly is).  This does however make a pretty good case that in traffic-thin areas such as north FL, investing in equipment for anything outside of 2m and 70cm will likely be unproductive.

Sunday, March 28, 2021


 I'd mentioned a couple of months ago a short sci-fi/horror flick centering on a SuitSat wanting to come back to the ISS.  By chance, today's NASA APOD is of SuitSat-1.  Here's the pic:

"OK guys, you can reel me back in anytime now.  Guys?  GUYS?!?"

Saturday, March 27, 2021

QRP on the High Bluff Trail

 A short walk in from the High Bluff east trailhead, there's a picnic table with nearby limbs suitable for hoisting the Par 10-20-40 trail-friendly end-fed antenna.  Operated for a couple of hours, made two contacts (hey, you try talking 2300 miles on 2.5 watts), including one half-hour-plus rag chew up to New Hampshire.  Just stayed on PSK-31, didn't even try re-arranging menus to do voice.  The new iPhone did great as a computer, with the same interface that worked so well with the 4S (had to add a Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle, a big $9).  Here, have some pics and we'll wrap with lessons learned.

While breaking down.  Almost forgot to take a pic before leaving.

"The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began."

About a 20 minute drive to the trailhead and a 12 minute walk to the table site.  Not bad at all.  Back to lessons learned.

  1. I need a new broad-brimmed hat.  This sun is a little much as it slants in on my ballcap in the late afternoon.  Will attend to this detail next week.
  2. When switching from digital modulation to voice, the menu system on the FT-817nd needs to be reset, even when going over to an FM repeater setting in memory.  Vox, etc., all those things that are a fiddly mess when working in the woods with the lightweight phone audio interface.  Of course, this is no problem at all if the signals are fed in through the data port, but that requires carrying along a laptop & SignaLink.  It may just be easier to haul along the FT-60 and use that for VHF/UHF work and leave the 817nd for the HF heavy lifting.
  3. The ionosphere is in still in poor shape.  Next time out, I may go heavy with the FT-857d, laptop, etc. and work things at 10x the power.  Out of 10 fairly solid signals that I could copy, I could only reach back and work 2 of the stations.  Frustrating.  This of course will triple the pack weight, which will in turn necessitate going over a heavier pack, with all those tumble-on effects.  OTOH, it's only a 12 minute walk from the trailhead and this is no big deal.
All in all, a nice afternoon in the woods.  Think I'll be doing this more often.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Diets are Bunk

 As reported today over at NPR.

However, diligent readers of present blog knew about this back in 2014: Eat Bacon, Don't Jog

Addendum to the latter link, don't order through the Big A, get it via your local cat-infested bookstore.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Still One More Day to Bid

 Over at Bring A Trailer -- up to $90,000 as of this morning, and will probably go higher.

There is a strong "I can't look away from this train wreck" aspect to the entire proceedings.

ps: Shamelessly cut-and-paste from the comments at BaT, a wonderful work of fiction centered on this car.  msmiranda, if you don't want me posting this here, contact me and I will cheerfully remove it.  It just seems too wonderful to let drift off into the aether of forgotten comments.


Nick doffed his time worn Stetson and brushed the yellow dust from its brim. The wide Serengeti plain stretched beneath him below his vantage upon the ancient rift upthrust.

This day was much like that one back in 1935 when he was here in his Rolls Royce shooting brake. He was with Raj and the boy and that woman then. They were hunting eland then, which were good to eat, and the elusive nauga, which were prized for the tough leather of their hides. He had a nauga head mounted and placed on the wall of his study where it stared into the eyes of a rhinoceros on the opposite wall. It was similarly mounted. But the nauga had come through the 40 years with no signs of aging. The rhinoceros had not done so well. It had become moth eaten.

So now they were back for another hunt. Raj had asked for another Rolls Royce shooting brake. As Nick’s driver and mechanic he was entitled to his views on the decision. But Nick heard that Rolls Royce did not manufacture shooting breaks anymore. They told him the hunters on the Serengeti favored Land Rovers now. But some preferred Land Cruisers. Nick was not sure what the difference was between a Rover and Cruiser. Raj did not know either.

Nick and Raj went down to Harry’s Bar for for drinks as they pondered their choices. Nick had a daiquiri. Raj had a beer. Nick ordered another daiquiri. Harry slid the drink down the zinc bar. 

Just then a man stepped out from the shadows of the dimly lit bar. He was impeccably dressed in a crisp seersucker suit, open collar shirt, perfectly polished two-tone spectators, Panama hat, and pince nez glasses.

“Pardon me, gentlemen. I couldn’t help overhearing. Allow me to introduce myself.”

He produced a gold case and withdrew a business card. Nick studied it.

Bruce Baldwin Mohs
Inventor and Entrepreneur 

“Pleased to meet you, Mr Mohs,” Nick said. “But what do you know about Rovers and Cruisers?”

“Ah,” purred Mohs. “I have a much more elegant solution. And it just so happens I have it here with me this very day. Would you care to step outside and see it?”

Nick and Raj followed the man outside. There at the curb, gleaming in massive splendor it sat. Nick’s jaw dropped. Raj stared in shock.

“Allow me to present the Mohs Safarikar,” the man said grandly. “A modern bespoke vehicle designed to withstand the rigors of a modern big game hunt. In all kinds of weather over all kinds of terrain.”

The usually taciturn Raj slowly began to nod. “It looks like a Rolls Royce,” he said quietly.

A twinkle appeared in Mohs’ eye. “And look at this,” he said.

He pulled the door straight out. It was mounted on sturdy rods allowing access to both the front seats and the rear compartment. He demonstrated further by flipping the back seat panels down to form a bed.

“You won’t have to pitch a tent when you make camp for the night,” he declared, “And there’s far more room than in those Rovers and Cruisers!”

With a flourish, Mohs demonstrated his revolutionary retracting roof. Riding on sturdy rods much like the doors it could become an open car or closed as the weather required.

Nick paused and stepped back. “But what is it covered with?” he asked in wonderment. “It isn’t painted. It looks… It looks like…?”

Mohs threw back his head and laughed. “You are most perceptive, Mr Nick. My Safarikar is covered with that most durable of wild animal hides, that of the nauga. It will even withstand the impact of a charging rhinoceros!”

Raj was still gazing transfixed at the Safarikar’s grill. “It’s a Rolls Royce,” he whispered, “It’s a Rolls Royce.”

“We’ll take it!” Nick announced firmly. “We’ll ship it to Africa on the next boat.”


pps: Well, $90k didn't make the reserve.  Seems that there's more to this extravaganza of a car than meets the eye.  From another post in the comments: $385k OBO.  You be the judge.  Not the thing for me personally, but I do think that it would be perfect as a perennial Mardi Gras parade car.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

World Nature Photography Awards

 The 2020 winners shown here.

I mean, I take a pretty decent snapshot and all, but these real photographers are so far above that my head won't tilt back far enough for me to look that high.  Go have a look.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Yet Another Gravel Ride in Tate's Hell

 Inviting bayfront trailhead...

Interesting campsite for future adventures..

And the dwarf cypress trees are leafing out for spring...

No, it's not mountain biking.  But then, there aren't many mountains in Florida.  As always, click to embiggen.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Dear Verizon...

 Customer service does not consist of "Download our app and fix our admin error yourself."  Which – sparing you the details – is a compact version of two hours of my Saturday afternoon, involving calls, web site twiddling, app downloading, and finally (I think) success.

Even though I have only just signed on with them, I will be kicking Verizon to the curb ASAP.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Zombieland: Double Tap

 Even better than the first one.  3+ stars out of 4.

That is all for this evening.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

New QSL Cards are In


Turned out pretty good.  Hat tip to The Darling Daughter for both the photo and subsequent artwork.

ps: I frequently monitor 146.52 and 446.  If you happen to be in the area, give a shout.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Can we stop hurricanes?

 Can we stop them with nukes, or perhaps other ways?  10 minute video at Backreaction.

TL,DW: No, not really, at least not yet.  The trick may be to better forecast which thunderstorms are likely to turn into hurricanes, then disrupt those.  But really, it's time to stop snickering at people who ask "well, what can we do?"

I prefer to look on the upside.  Without hurricanes, tacky housing developments would take over all the good fishing spots and beautiful beaches.  Harsh medicine, but probably the best that we can hope for.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Thursday, March 11, 2021

REAL Sports Talk Radio

 146.58 FM

Details here: North America Adventure Frequency

Some discussion here: Reactions to the North America Adventure Frequency

I mean, what good is sports talk radio when you're not the one with the mic?  This is active, DIY sports we're talkin', not that sittin' on the sofa with a lite beer business.

One more of interest is 156.800 FM, Channel 9 in the marine VHF band.  You hear some stuff there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Why do complex numbers freak some people out?

 An interesting recent paper is discussed at Backreaction.  Go watch the video, it's only about 10 minutes.  I'll wait.

OK, got all that?  Now let's count: one potato, two potato, three potato, four.  I can show you any positive integer number of whole potatoes.  How about zero potatoes?  Hmm then, let's take them all off the desk, and now you've got zero potatoes.  At the same time you've also got zero apples, eggplants, or aardvarks on the table too.  Does this mean that counting down to zero magically transforms potatoes into any of the above?  No, of course not.  But it does mean that zero is an interesting abstraction all in and of itself.  How is this any more spooky than imaginary numbers?

Now let's take it one step farther: minus two potatoes, minus one potato, zero potato(es), one potato, two potatoes, etc.  Not too spooky, negative numbers are taught somewhere around second grade, so they seem kind of normal.  But have you ever seen a negative potato?  No, me neither.  Now I could owe you a potato, and a truckload of negative potatoes could be my balance down at the First National Bank of Produce and Vegetables.  In that sense a negative potato has some meaning, and it may be a useful abstraction and means of bookkeeping.  But you can't set an actual negative potato on my desk and say "Ah-ha!  Now you now owe me a potato!"

Similarly, there's a consistent algebra built up around complex and imaginary numbers (go watch the damn video if you haven't already), and it is very useful, say in any field involving wave mechanics among other uses.  Why is this any more spooky than negative numbers indicating what somebody owes to his friendly local loan shark?  (kneecaps aside)

Notice that this is somewhat close to the "shut up and calculate" attitude mentioned in the video, but it is not quite the same.  It's more of "understand your abstractions and the associated mathematics, then play them to the hilt" that I'm talking about here.  Either that, or I badly missed something back in second grade mathematics.  Back to the question "can you do wave mechanics without resorting to imaginary numbers?"  No, of course not.  It seems strange to me that this worries some people.  OTOH, it does take a little working through at first, but nobody ever said math is easy.

OK that was all kind of heavy.  Here, have a funny yet related cartoon.

Perhaps the antiviral we've all been looking for.

 Five day course of oral antiviral appears to stop SARS-CoV-2 in its tracks, at Medscape.

Yes, I know about the others; no public comment here.  Look, I'll take good news anywhere I find it these days.  Also, it seems likely that this antiviral will be broad-spectrum against coronaviruses in general, which would be an extremely useful drug to have on hand the next time.  And yes, there will be a next time.

Monday, March 8, 2021

In Praise of Local Bookstores

 Op-ed at The Times.

That's enough for today.  I have books to shelve.