Tag Archives: Amateur Radio

A Year and A Half

Well it’s been over a year and a half since the last post, and a lot has indeed transpired. We did move to Klamath Falls on July 1st, 2017, and while we have been doing a lot, much of what we had hoped to do hasn’t happened yet. Radio stuff, of course, Tammy and I both started businesses, Zack is back in school, and so am I.

Emergency Coordinator appointment certificate

When we first got here, I started meeting folks in the local radio club. I ended up getting involved with the emergency communications system here in the county. By the end of 2017 I was appointed the Emergency Coordinator for amateur radio auxiliary communications. I also did a lot of work with the club on our repeater sites and helping establish the local packet radio network.

Back when I carried a firearm as a security officer in the 80s and 90s, I had two handguns and several rifles. Over the years I also found myself very interested in gunsmithing. About the time Tammy and I met I had divested myself of all of my firearms. Having left California, I wanted to start rebuilding my firearms collection. 

Taurus Millennium G2 9mm

When I bought a new handgun I felt it prudent to apply for a Concealed Handgun License. While open carry is legal, and people do open carry around here, when it’s cold and raining or snowing, the possibility of accidentally covering your sidearm is a real possibility so it only makes sense to avoid the potential problem altogether and legally be able to carry concealed.

Notary stamp and journal
ready to get to work

While working on radio stuff, I also started a mobile notary business. Along with basic notary services I got certified as a Notary Signing Agent to sign real estate loan documents. I have done quite a few loan signings and notarizations over the last year. I enjoy notary work. The business needs some expansion if I am going to make a real go of it.

One of the summer craft fairs

In other business news; Tammy started doing craft shows last year with her upcycled stuff and jewelry she has made. Up until now, all I have contributed has been minor cut this or tweak that and some display fixtures. I have plans to contribute more soon, but she has been doing well. She posts stuff for sale on her facebook sellers page and at the craft shows and the farmers market. We have the Christmas show season coming up but plan on making some changes next year.

Zack has been back in school, mostly because he enjoys it. We hope to get him focused on another degree at some point. We shall see.

To wrap things up I will touch on my also being back in school. Last spring I started looking for a reputable brick and mortar university with 100% online degree programs again. I was looking for a seminary program in particular. My goal is to earn a Master of Divinity. I have an A.S. in Aviation Maintenance Technology. Of course, I need to earn a Bachelors degree before I can enter a masters program.

I have been looked for an online seminary several times over the last decade and nothing ever seemed to work out. This time I found a program just before the summer term began. Liberty wasn’t what I was planning on but it worked out nicely. I am in my second term now. After this term, I have two more terms to complete my B.S. Religion.

Well, that’s the big catch-up for now. 

~Jon

September?

Okay, I confess, I have been one lazy blogger this year. There are a number of reasons for the lack of posting, but a lack of things to post about is not one of them. Trying to finding my voice for this blog is the main reason I haven’t been posting much. Another is that we have been flying under the radar on some personal matters.

Let’s begin with the former, shall we?

Voice

A blog must have a distinct voice of its own for it to be ‘successful.’ At least that’s what I have heard. In part, I guess my dilemma is that I’m not sure what I want the blog to be, how to gauge success, or what I would even consider that to be.

As the name FlyBoyJon implies, I am a pilot and the early intent for the site was to chronicle the journey of an adventure pilot. Something that I work on for several years was a series of adventure flights. Sadly those plans fell through and with them the aviation adventures I had intended to blog about.

Over time life has impinged on my flying to such a point that it has now bee quite some time since I took to the skies. This is something that nags at me far more than I often let on. There is nothing sadder than a grounded pilot.

Itching to get back in the air I had begun an experimental aircraft build project. Once again life stepped in. I ended up going back to school to get my FAA mechanics license and a degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology. A good thing to be sure, but it made me seriously rethink my choice in aircraft for the experimental build. Something I do plan on getting back too.

Further keeping me from aviation posts here was the decision to separate my personal aviation from business aviation. I added a domain for my professional aviation work. And once again life has a way of changing plans. My professional aviation pursuits have also been tabled for the time being.

By now I bet this is sounding rather whiny, it is to me. Believe it or not, I’m not complaining. It’s just the way things have gone down. I’m no spring chicken and I’m not loaded with disposable cash so some things just have to wait and I’m okay with that.

A long-time interest that resurfaced during mechanic school was amateur radio. I finally got my ham license and rose through the licenses and started volunteering as an examiner for license tests. Ham radio is a specific, narrowly focused interest though and it required another blog, and domain all its own. I also ended up getting a commercial radio license with hopes of it being of use in my aviation pursuits.

My wife and I also have a personal site. For a long time, it was a personal journal and email site, then a genealogy site, and later back to just an email host. Now it is our online business site.

We currently have five domains with three active sites. The two inactive ones being for commercial interests. With all of these domains and sites and not much going on in my aviation world I just didn’t know what to do with this site. So I’m back to Voice. What is the voice for this site?

Land ho!

As to the second matter, flying under the radar… That has to do with our future planning. All things tallied up, there is no way in hell we will ever be able to retire if we stay in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. That’s like 10 counties of no-way-in-hell.

To be brutally honest, I have really grown to hate California. The legislature seems to collectively suffer from cranial-sphincter insertion syndrome and has a nasty habit of passing really bad legislation. The urban sprawl has become grossly over-populated, the economy sucks, and it’s just too damn expensive. It has also become very difficult to find any meaningful work here that would make staying viable.

With California not making much sense for us, we decided to look for some rural property in southern Oregon. Back in June, we purchased a two-and-a-half acre lot outside of Bonanza, Oregon, about 30 minutes northeast of Klamath Falls. As crazy as it sounds, we still haven’t made it out to look at the property. We were in KF in May and had planned on working with an agent based in Bonanza. After several ‘scheduling issues,’ we dropped the agent and came home. I wasn’t happy with the outcome of the trip and was feeling frustrated and generally in a funk when we came across this lot and jumped on it.

I had a good feeling about this property and Tammy had an uncharacteristically neutral feeling about the whole thing, almost zen like. When it comes to buying a rural property, that’s about as in sync as I think we could get. Since then we have both been gearing up for the big change physically and emotionally.

So when will we be moving up north? Who knows. We have been paying off the land, which is just that, land. I will need to build the homestead. I do want to get up there fairly soon because I don’t want to be 60 trying to build a house, but we aren’t in a huge rush. We need to bank some materials and resources, most likely find a gig for a year or two, maybe longer, or get really lucky with some online work. We certainly don’t want to try and move or build during the winter so it will be a spring or summer affair in the next year or two.

This kind of planning takes a long time. I had been studying a lot of building, farming, and permaculture subjects for over five years to get to the point where I was ready to make this happen. This has been a long time in the making.

So why haven’t I been blogging any of this? Ther has been too much fluidity in everything involved. We have a gig now and we didn’t want to stir anything up with a potential move and no defined timeline for one. We still don’t have a defined timeline, but we are much closer to having one.

One of the reasons I didn’t start posting in June was that we haven’t been able to get up there and do a land and resource survey of the property. It’s tough to make a building plan without knowing where it is going to be seated especially if you are hoping to work with the land and not forcing the land to your will.

What we have been able to do is to start the weather tracking now that we know where the land is, and follow the seasonal trending. We are also going back into the historical weather record for the area. There is a webcam a few miles from the property, but that is of limited use.

Back to the blog and its voice

So what does this have to do with finding a voice? I’m not sure. I have things to say and it’s usually something of an editorial nature on several somewhat related subjects. Mostly in the theological, sociological realms. Really it comes down to, will this be an editorial or journal, or maybe a hybrid? I honestly don’t know at this point. What I do know is that I want to be writing and this is a good place to do that. For now, I’m going to let things flow and see where it leads.

Until next time,
~Jon

Voice Communications

20140518_105456You may have noticed this placard over my shack bench desk. I didn’t have this made for me, I inherited it. It was my mom’s placard, traveling with her throughout her various offices at Amdahl/Fujitsu.

Mom had a long relationship with telecommunications throughout her life. My earliest memories of my mom working were of her plugging the switchboards at an answering service. She made a second career for herself as a bookkeeper for many years but returned to switchboard communications where she stayed the rest of her life. She was a very talented communications operator and supervisor.

I didn’t spend huge amounts of time at the answering service growing up, but I was there enough to learn about tip & ring, how switchboards worked, the old cord-boards, and what the miles of wire behind them were for. I was lucky I suppose, there was a phone company technician swinging lines fairly often while I was there. In some small way I think that experience influenced my desire to go work for the phone company, which I did for a short time.

20140512_170250Looking at mom’s placard this morning I got a little nostalgic and started thinking about how I have been involved in communications, at least peripherally, as long as I can remember. In some way it seems as though I inherited more than just the placard. Communications seems to run through our veins.

As it turns out mom wasn’t the only family member in communications. My grandfather Robert was in communications while in the Navy during WWII. My great-uncle Allan was a signalman in the Navy as well during the war (WWII.) Allan also worked for a military aviation contractor working with navigation and avionics equipment after his hitch ended. These two related fields seem to be hereditary in my family. Robert had some connection to aviation as well, but the details are sketchy.

I never met my grandfather or spent any time with my great-uncle when he was alive. I found out about their experiences with communications and aviation while doing genealogy work after my mom passed in 2006. Like so many other vets, they didn’t talk about these experiences with their families.

Radio and aviation have always been comfortable places for me. I feel good doing these things. Even when I am frustrated or stumped, I can always figure things out and learn new skills. There are vast communities to get involved with for both, but they also provide space for solitary practitioners looking for some alone time. Both fields also seem to interact easily and many skill sets translate from one to the other well. Both also are very broad in scope, they have many sub-sets of interest to keep an interested party busy with a seemingly infinite variety of new things to learn and do. I am very grateful to be a part of both fields and I look forward to years of continued participation and sharing in both of these communities.

☮ ♥ ✈ & 73,
~FlyBoyJon / KK6GXG

CW Oscillator

The shack/radio bench is rapidly evolving. I have been working on several radio projects, most of which have been relatively small. The most recent project is a CW (Morse Code) practice oscillator. It allows me to practice sending code while I learn.

I had built a transistor based oscillator which worked okay but the tone wasn’t that stable, or loud enough to be that useful. I had a drawn up a simple transistor amplifier that I planned on adding to the circuit board, but the design is still less that optimal from a stability standpoint
After building the transistor version I decided to try an IC (integrated circuit) based oscillator. The tone quality, stability, and volume are much better than the transistor type. I built the oscillator on a breadboard to test the circuit out and make sure everything was in working order.

After checking everything out I started laying it out on paper the way I would actually wire it all together on a proto-board.

Everything worked great so I was ready to get to the next phase of the project, building the housing for the whole thing
The plan for the case was to build a wooden box with as much of a vintage (read steampunkish) look to it so it was time to move operations from the shack/radio bench down to the workshop.

First up was to design a basic box. I chose Douglas fir for the frame pieces and mahogany plywood for the panels.

Since I was going for the steampunk look, brass, lots of brass. Everything was stuff I had around the shop so there was no waiting. More importantly, I have lots of the stuff so I can experiment a little.

 

The box was all hand cut and assembled. Everything is held together with glue though I did use brass pin nails for accent. The brass speaker grill doubles as a retainer for the analog acoustic speaker. I didn’t want to use the cheap plastic one in the project. The sound just isn’t the same as the paper speaker.

The other end panel was going to just be wood and nails, but I decided to go with an accent that would double as a way to open the panel. This panel needs to be removable because the battery is on this end. I went with a key hole on a whim, it just looked right. It was a bugger to hand file the whole plate but I think it’s worth it.
The box took two days to plan, cut out all of the materials and to assemble. The brass work was done the second day as well. It took a third day to apply the several coats of linseed oil that I used for the finish.

Once the box was all done and the finish was dried it was time, on the fourth day now, to plan out exactly how I was going to install the guts.

I know this was not a very thoroughly planned project. I planned out the electronics pretty well, but the case, well that was very much an on-the-fly thing.

Any way, back to the timeline, with all of the case work done it was time to relocate back to the shack.
Back in the shack I worked out the bugs in case design, well, I developed the work-arounds for the issues that arose from the case design. What can I say, one of the reasons I am doing this project is for a learning experience and I have learned a few things about project design, and project housing design in particular.

There are several things I would do differently if I were to do this project again. One would be to reconsider trying to stick mostly with hand tools. I could have saved myself a ton of time had I built the frame using my router.
I could have routed a single channel strip on the router and just cut the pieces and mitered it all together.

Another change would be to use tiny screws to hold the panels in. I would have had much better access while installing the guts.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Lessons well learned and worth learning.

Below is a short video of the oscillator in operation.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon