Saturday, June 25, 2016

HOA Activity - Meet Your Neighbor

Historically, our Home Owners Association has not sponsored events for the residents of our community. Our Board of Directors, of which I am serving as president, has changed over in recent years and is becoming much more active. We held our first, of hopefully many, Meet Your Neighbor event at our community pavilion and it was a success!
Because this was our first event of this type. we went small. Our offering was grilled hot dogs, chips, cookies, water, and juice. As an incentive, we also held a drawing for all of the residents who attended for two $25 gift certificates to a local restaurant. We purchased food for 64 residents for under $100 plus $50 for the door prizes. For a little under $150 we had a great afternoon and met with some wonderful people.

I am looking forward to many more of these community events.

First Response Bluetooth enabled pregnancy test

First Response now has a Bluetooth enabled pregnancy test. 

It is said to make it easier... Because waiting the required time and looking at the mark on the stick was too difficult????

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Questioning Donald Trump's punative tariff threat on US manufacturing

Donald Trump threatens Ford with a 35% punitive tariff on automobiles manufactured abroad. I am not only concerned that he is spouting these statements but that the American people are not asking questions and instead buying it lock, stock, and barrel.

Staying away from legality of a punitive tax on US companies, how does this help our economy? We've been hearing ad nauseam how the Affordable Care Act will hurt the economy but a 35% tax that will be transferred to the American public on products that are produced abroad is good for the economy? Does Mr. Trump propose to apply this punitive tariff to products with foreign made semiconductors? How about on companies that use foreign labor to write software for their products? What about call centers in foreign countries? How far is he willing to take this punitive tariff?

Some of Mr. Trump's business ventures manufacture abroad. If US companies manufacturing abroad is an economic issue then why do his businesses partake in foreign manufacturing? IIf Mr. Trump is such a great businessman then what is it ok for Mr Trump to manufacture abroad and it is not ok for Ford and Apple to do the same?

A President cannot just make laws, so how exactly would he implement a punitive tariff? How would he get congress to vote for it?

These are just a few questions on this single statement made by Mr. Trump. Lets raise the bar for this election and begin to ask the important questions of our candidates and stop taking what they say as fact.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

How-to Create a Dog Patch (Dog Pee Patch) - The Refresh

In one my previous posts How-to Create a Dog Patch (Dog Pee Patch) I showed how I created an area for out two Labrador Retrievers to do their business. After a while it may develop an odor that even vinegar or other concoctions will not handle. Here I'll show how easy it is to refresh the area for many more years of use.

First, you have the existing patch. If you are looking to create one for the first time take a look at my post on How-to Create a Dog Patch (Dog Pee Patch).

On top of the rocks and under the pea gravel I had laid mesh screen so begin by using a shovel to pull back the pea gravel around the edges exposing the mesh. The mesh can be pulled up to bring the gravel into a pile that is easier to shovel.
You will want to remove the old pea gravel and you have two options, clean and reuse or dispose of and use new gravel. For this refresh I use all new pea gravel. After removing the pea gravel and mesh you end up with the original base. Other than cleaning with vinegar or something to help with any odor the base stays untouched.
Our patch has a PVC drain so while I had it uncovered I made sure that we did not have any blockages by running a snake through the pipe and I ensured that there were not rocks blocking water entry into the pipe. It all appeared in great shape so I covered it back up. and moved onto the deodorizing of the patch.

In my dog patch, the odor was mainly coming from the pea gravel in the areas of the darker black spots. I cleaned this area (I opted for a light solution of bleach and water). I poured the solution over the rocks and then let it air dry in the sun while I did some weeding elsewhere. After a hour or so I then sprayed the rocks down with a hose to wash out any solution and excess dirt and voila a clean patch!

At this point all you will need to do is put new or cleaned mesh on the patch and add cleaned or new pea gravel. For the size of this patch, I needed at least 3 bags of pea gravel from Home Depot. I initially tried 2 bags but it really didn't cover all of the mesh and left some blank spots.

And there we have it, the refreshed and no odor patch. The dogs immediately took to it so it meets their standards.

It it easy and ignoring the wait time for it to dry, it took about a 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. It is really simple and extends the life of the patch with little expense and effort.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Using APRS along the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes

On a trip from Maryland to northern Ohio I wanted to give relatives an idea where I was along my travels. For this I fired up my Argent Data Systems Tracker2 and Kenwood TM-V71A. For the entire drive, I ran the Kenwood at 10W and transmitted on the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) frequency of 144.390 MHz as K8ESR-9. The outcome was much improved over past trips do to better coverage by digis and I-Gates. In previous trips, I could drive an hour and a half without a packet being received at an I-Gate. As can be seen in the plot, this is no longer the case. I'd like to thank the amateur radio community for improving the coverage by adding digis along this heavily traveled route. plot of received APRS packets on Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes.
As a side finding, I discovered that I do need to look at my setup. Unless I unknowingly have a car-airplane hybrid then I think there could be an issue with the GPS. At least one transmitted packet shows the speed to be 219 MPH. The elevation at that point checks out but the speed... uhmmmmm, suspect.

As always, your results may vary depending on radio and antenna setup but when traveling on this part of the turnpike you'll have decent coverage for most of the drive. Happy travels!

73's K8ESR

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Yaesu VX-8GR APRS Backpack Portable Performance

At the 2013 Hamvention I picked up a Yaesu VX-8GR which unfortunately Yaesu discontinued when they released the FT-1DR for their System Fusion concept. In 2015 I still own the VX-8GR and I decided to use it for my Saturday trip. My primary HT is a Kenwood TH-F6A and to keeps things simple I decided to make my APRS backpack portable. This was a simple build consisting of a backpack, a 3 foot extension cable SMA male to BNC male, BNC female to SMA female adaptor, and tie wraps.
Yaesu VX8-GR backpack portable
I attached the stock antenna to the backpack and ran the extension cable to the side pocket. A nice quick "build" so to speak. With all of the APRS traffic at Hamvention I was not entirely sure how well this was going to work. I set the HT to transmit at 3 minute intervals and let it go for the day. From 9 AM until about 2 PM 39 packets were picked up and available to map in APRS-IS. map of VX-8gr at Hamvention 2015
Yet again, I am impressed with how well this little radio performs in a crowded environment. The GPS has sufficient sensitivity to provide some position packets from within Hara Arena. As you can see, we did a decent job making our way through the flea market on Saturday.

So, if you are looking for a good HT with great APRS battery performance (blows the Kenwood TH-D72A away on battery life) I still highly recommend the VX-8GR. These radios are no longer in production so you'd have to pick it up on Ebay or in a flea market. If you do buy one I don't think you will be disappointed.

73's K8ESR

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hamvention 2015 - The Event

Arena Floor of Hara Arena
This year marked another great year at Hamvention 2015. Due to the traveling I am usually only able to make one day out of the three day event in Dayton Ohio. As I noted in my past post Hamvention 2015 - Trip to Ohio I was lucky again this year to be able to travel to Dayton with my father, K8RSU. Hara Arena is a great venue for Hamvention so hopefully Hara can resolve its financial problems and continue to be around.

As always, there was a lot of walking involved especially out in the flea market. With the exception of some tie wraps and heat shrink, I didn't find much this year to purchase outside. I did however, capture some different pictures from the Flea Market.

The pneumatic line launcher kit. You could purchase N8PRK's kit for $199.00 (minus the wheels). It has a max PSI of 80 so it probably doesn't have a lot of other uses but this should would be a fun "toy" to own.
Pneumatic Line Launcher
With my count, this car had 13 antennas. I am not sure how this person gets into their trunk or where they put their radio equipment but the number of antennas is impressive.
Antennas Galore

People were selling everything this year from radios and test equipment to the kitchen sink ($5). I was also able to locate a boat anchor - a real one!

Finally, I found this. It reminds me of my yellow lab. This is a cute little puppy taking a nap.

Hopefully my schedule will work out making it possible for me to attend again in 2016. 73's K8ESR.