Archive for the 'technobabble' Category

Satellite RX to Go

Deployed Stowed

You may have read here and on the other blog about our new motorhome. Having graduated form an “entry level” RV to this new one encouraged us to ask for a number of desired add-ons, one of which is satellite TV reception.

Since we are already DirecTV™ customers, we opted for the Winegard™ satellite system which is DTV compatible. In the clickable images above, you can see the rooftop satellite dish deployed and in the stowed position.

I got the satellite antenna system and the DTV receiver activated today. I first had to turn the satellite dish control on and it began auto acquisition of several satellites in the “constellation” of geosynchronous birds. That process took a while with the system retrying several times before locking on. But, when that was complete, it was all downhill. I got on the phone with the DTV folks who walked me through the rest of the setup.

After that process was complete, we now have very satisfying HDTV reception on the three TVs in the motorhome - a 48″ TV in the parlor, a 32″ TV in the bedroom and another 32″ TV behind an access door outside on the passenger side of the rig for outdoor viewing. I verified that all were working as advertised.

Having the satellite system gains us independence from the limited and often flaky cable access in many of the RV parks we have visited, and, in fact, we can now camp in areas with no hookups and still be able to enjoy our TV entertainment.

Terminus Obamanum

the-end.jpg

We’ve suffered eight long years to see this day come. Time to encourage our new President to start healing the damage done to America by the Obamination. Time to restore our CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC to its former greatness.

The Better Half and I listened and watched the Inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th POTUS this morning and approve of the speech that he gave afterward. We applaud his invocation of God as a key to going forward.

A note about animations

We removed the sidebar countdown timer and have converted all the Flash™ animations to static and linked images in the blog template. Some animations remain in archived posts, but the HOME and ABOUT pages have had them removed.

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).

A New Ham Radio Gadget

BTECH UV-5X3A little over three years ago, I bought an amateur radio hand-held Bao Feng UV-5R VHF/UHF dual band transceiver for emergency use and maybe a contact or two. The radio gets used once in a while, mostly on the road in the RV.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a tri-band (!44, 223 & 440 MHz) version of the same radio, a UV-5X3 on Amazon a couple of weeks ago. Earlier this week, I had a sudden urge to add the radio to my small radio inventory so I ordered it and it arrived today. The first thing I noticed is that Bao Feng had changed their trade name to BTECH which, I guess, is their desire to sound more like an American brand name. Whatever.

Other than the little identification tag at the bottom of the front of the radio, the two radios appear identical not only in form and fit, but in function as well. I downloaded the latest version of the programming application and copied the programming from the first radio to the new one.

Clickable image - BTECH UV-5X3.

I looked up some of the repeater listings for the 1.25 meter band (222-225 MHz) in Arizona and there aren’t many of them listed, only about 17 or so. There are a couple that I may be able to hit from here if I go up the hill behind the house. One of these days, I will program the new radio with a few repeaters that I think might work from here and give it a try when I get around to it.

UPDATE: I found the Statewide Arizona Repeater Listing and programmed in a couple of 1.25m repeaters on White Tank Mountain which is about 35 miles south of Wickenburg. I was able to key up both of the repeaters from the courtyard in front of the house, but nobody replied when I called for a radio check. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow during the day.

While Charging the Trailer Batteries . . .

Charging

I pulled the truck over to the trailer yesterday to put a fresh charge on the trailer batteries using the Honda 3KW generator in the truck bed. At the completion of the run, I noticed that the generator gas tank was getting pretty dry, so it will be time to fill up the tank and change the oil after the next charging run later this year.

An interesting happened while the charging was taking place; a gentleman friend of one of our neighbors stopped when he saw me doing some minor chores along the RV driveway. He got out of his car and asked if the trailer was for sale. I told him that it probably was for sale since we just have it parked on our lot across the road.

I opened up the trailer and showed the man the various features and utilities. He was impressed that I was doing maintenance and remarked that the trailer looked like it has been well-maintained.

I gave the gentleman a figure that seemed appropriate for a sale price considering the age and condition of the rig. He thanked me after taking down my phone number and said that he would be in touch.

Selling the trailer would be a nice windfall. Since we’re intending to trade up to a diesel pusher to replace the RV we currently have, some extra cash to help with the acquisition might be good. Also, if a deal cannot be made for the trailer this time, we will probably trade it in along with our current RV on the new one sometime early next year.

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.

On Our Way

Here we go again - Back to the K’Stan desert for a visit with the one-year old baby boy. I was playing with embedding a Google map and the above is the result. It basically shows the same old route we have been taking for the past year since the baby was born.

The time estimate from Google is a bit optimistic, probably because they don’t know that I drive the Roadrunner RV slower than the posted limits throughout the trip. The estimate my GPS gives me is better since it “learns” my driving habits dynamically. With the rest stop included, we get there in a little under four hours.

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