Archive for the 'gotta have it' Category

Trying for a New Amateur Radio Callsign

500px-fcc_new_logosvg.pngI have been considering becoming more active as an amateur radio (HAM) operator. I have had my ham ticket since high school and there is always an underlying interest for me in the radio hobby, no matter how inactive I may be. I am a life member of the American Radio Relay League and still get my copy of their magazine on-line. I read QST every month and get the weekly ARRL email.

The truth is, that I have had a hand-held VHF/UHF radio for almost five years and only use it once in a while. The radio goes with us in the RV when we travel and is available for emergencies or just for “rag chewing” with other hams.

That brings us to the reason for this post. I have had my current callsign since 1979 or so, and it is a special one that identifies me as a top-of-the-pack Amateur Extra Class licensee. It also, unfortunately, identifies me as being from California by virtue of the numeral “6″ embedded therein. I currently reside in, and am proud to be a citizen of Arizona for which the identifying numeral should be a “7.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a program which allows amateur radio operators to apply for a “Vanity” callsign. I have submitted several applications for desired callsigns but the competition is so great that I have had my applications dismissed thus far. The FCC uses a raffle system to randomly pick a winner for a given callsign and I have competed with twenty to fifty other applicants. I intend to keep trying, however, as the callsigns become available.

One of the applications I made was deeply disappointing. I went to the trouble of finding a “silent key” which is a term used for a ham that has passed on. I found one such ham here in Arizona and submitted some paperwork to the FCC which included his obituary. The FCC cancelled the callsign and it became available. I wanted this callsign since the prefix was a classic W7 and the suffix was my first and last initial. Even more disappointing since the eventual recipient was in the “9″ call area. I am old school and believe in having the regionally appropriate numeral.

As I said above, I am still trying. I have my hat in the ring for three different callsigns at this time.

An Interesting Bullpup Shotgun

In January, when SHOT SHOW opens, a lot of new and interesting weaponry and accessories make their debut. I was reading the weekly email from American Rifleman Insider today and this beautiful and exotic shotgun jumped off the screen. I was immediately intrigued and had the urge to add one to our selection of security arms.

From American Rifleman:

Last week IWI US announced its first bullpup shotgun, the Tavor TS12, but we didn’t have to wait long to check out this interesting new gun. During Industry Day at the Range at the 2018 SHOT Show, American Rifleman’s Brian Sheetz had a chance to check out this first for the manufacturer who has brought us the popular Tavor rifle and subsequent variations. For more, visit IWI.US.

There is a descriptive video at the American Rifleman link above. Depending on the shotgun shell size, one can load up to seventeen rounds into the three magazine tubes and the chamber. The weapon is friendly to both right and left-handed shooters.

Alas, the MSRP is a bit high for those of us on a limited income, but it was sure fun to fantasize about having one of these in the arsenal.

What’s For Dinner?

Smoked Brisket Dinner

I fired up a 2 pound beef brisket in the smoker this morning. I used a recipe I found on line for preparing the meat and the dry rub. Six hours later we had this wonderful dinner consisting of smoked brisket slices, The Better Half’s awesome potato salad and some baked beans. Clickable image.

This is the first attempt at smoking a brisket. I am pleased at the way it turned out, especially the smoky bark and the moist, tender meat.

I originally bought a four pound brisket and cut it in half so we could freeze half of it for another time. The half portion was more than enough for the two of us.

What’s for Lunch?

Meatball Sandwich

When you’re retired and budget your time to try and enjoy life, sometimes working in the kitchen can be a chore to The Better Half. Now, don’t get me wrong; she enjoys preparing meals, particularly during the weekends when we have a main afternoon dinner on both Saturday and Sunday. On the weekdays, however, a quick salad or sandwich, or some weekend leftovers fill the eating requirement.

Today she prepared Meatball Sandwiches. Since Thursday is our regular grocery shopping day, she put a couple of hoagie sandwich rolls in the cart while we were shopping. When at home later, she broke out some previously frozen meatballs that were extras made at the same time for a weekend dish featuring meatballs and pasta (or something). Add a little cheese, some homemade (also previously leftover) marinara sauce and - voilá - meatball sandwiches! These were tasty. Clickable image.

Double Picatinny Rail

double clamp

During my daily reading of the RSS feeds, I ran across this from Say Uncle in his Gun Pr0n item: a double picatinny rail suitable for mounting firearms on firearms. This link to The Firearms Blog has the linked article.

I liked the way this picture looked. I have no reason to get something like this, but the whole picture invoked a NEED in me. The drum magazine, the Glock pistol, the rifle and all the other gadgetry appealed to me very much. Unfortunately, Santa can’t afford one of these rigs as shown, let alone two, since The Better Half would want in on the deal too.

RepeaterBook App

RepeaterBook AppHaving purchased a new VHF/UHF Triband Radio, I was looking for current repeater information on-line so I could program the little beast with proper frequency, offset and CTCSS tone information for repeaters that would be germane to where I am and where I expect to be.

I found a feature on CHIRP, the software programming utility, which imports complete data from an entity called RepeaterBook. You specify the state, county and frequency band and it will import the programming information directly into the CHIRP client area where it can be uploaded to your radio.

I thought that was pretty neat, so I went on-line looking for RepeaterBook. Lo and behold, there was an Android app available that detects your location and downloads a list of area repeaters within a specified range. I downloaded and installed it on my smartphone.

Clickable image - RepeaterBook screenshot of the four most distant repeaters within a 50 mile radius of home. Here is also a screenshot of a typical detail listing.

The application gives me the information I need to quickly program my little radio (using a memory crutch from the user’s forum) when in the field. The application even goes a step further in that it has Bluetooth capability to instantly program some of the Bluetooth compatible rigs out there (which I am beginning to think I need).

Technology Upgrade

Samsung Galaxy Oontz Speakerphone

We have been procrastinating upgrading from our outdated “flip phones” to the current technology for a while now, since everything was “working” and didn’t need to be “fixed.” Well, earlier this week, I went to the local wireless outlet and switched my flip phone for a new Samsung Galaxy smart phone. I have had it several days now, and I am pleased with it, although I am still on the steep part of the learning curve.

The Better Half kept her flip phone until she sees some value in jumping onto the steep learning curve herself. We even considered a tablet device for her instead of a phone which she seldom uses. We shall see how she likes my smartphone before proceeding. She currently uses a Kindle but only for downloading and reading e-books.

The other gadget pictured in the (clickable) image on the right above, is the diminutive Oontz Curve Bluetooth Speakerphone. It offers a hands-free option for the smartphone and sounds as good as any speakerphone I ever used in the office before retirement. It is quite small: 2 ½” height and 3″ diameter. I am impressed with the dynamic range of the audio and reports from those called say the little Oontz microphone has as good a range as they have heard.

I have “paired” the Bluetooth function in the phone with my Garmin GPS, The Oontz Speakerphone and the phone function in my F-150 Ford pickup for hands-free calling in the Motorhome, the office and in the truck. I almost regret not having done this a couple of years back.

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