Category Archives: Amature Radio

Hamvangelits

Something that gets bounced around frequently in amateur radio circles is the apparent decline in numbers and “graying” of the ham community.

There are a couple of things going on here. There seems to be a broad belief that the average ham age is going up. Is the ham population itself getting older? I don’t think so. As an instructor and examiner I see a wide range of ages coming to classes and test sessions. We also see age diversity in the ham magazines, young people are getting licensed and participating in amateur radio. And they are doing some amazing things.

So where does this belief come from? I think it may be because new, younger hams are less inclined to join the traditional clubs, local or national, and these organizations are where much of this data is coming from. Why do these new younger hams shy away from the clubs? Because it appears to be a bunch of cranky old farts whining about the hobby getting grayer, the lack of new blood, and by action, an apparent desire to keep it that way.

If Field Day activities are indicative of other activities with groups of all sizes, it may shed some light on a part of the problem. I have heard from more than a few people in clubs all over the county that it is common to hear members want to engage, grow membership, bring in young people. The problem is that they often don’t do anything that supports those goals. The groups that do have a broader membership are those who do a significant amount of outreach to all ages and interests and plan activities to engage the membership. Inaction and stagnation are the enemies of growth.

Since many groups are unable or unwilling to follow through on these goals, folks with a love of all things Amateur Radio, an interest in learning new things, and a willingness to reach out should take the first step. It’s a matter of gathering a handful of people that are dedicated to amateur radio itself, not just groups or activities within amateur radio, people who are interested in what ham radio is as a whole, who want to engage with all ages and interests, and will post about what they are doing in social media.

This is pitching amateur radio in its entirety, not just clubs, groups, activities, or agendas. The goal is to show amateur radio in the big picture view, how much is available out there, that there is something for everyone, opportunities that are waiting to be explored, and completely tangentially, what expressions of amateur radio are currently established locally and nationally.

There is a job title for people who have a broad and deep knowledge of a specific product or idea and passionately pitch it, usually in group settings, they are called Evangelists.

We need Hamvangelists!

Interested in Amateur Radio or being a Hamvangelist? Let me know.

At present I know the blog doesn’t get much traffic. Probably because I have been posting only a couple of times a year, at best. I am working on this. I posted this on FB first because I thought the propagation would be better there than here. More to come.

The March Review

Since my last post was in October, it won’t be difficult to believe I have been busy.

Much of my time has been spent on radio stuff. I have however been working with Emergency Management in the Community Emergency Response Team.

CERT is a program designed by FEMA/DHS and administered at the local level by a sponsoring agency. In Klamath County, it is sponsored by Emergency Management. I have signed up to be a part of CERT, but the training sessions are infrequent and movement through the application process has been slow.

When I’m not working on CERT stuff I can be found working on Club or EmComm projects. With the club, Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association, I have been setting up the packet network and learning as much as I can about packet nets, the hardware, and software associated with packet.

Packet has consumed much of my time the last few months between getting the infrastructure up and running, expanding it, and fine-tuning things.

Since moving up here I have not had nearly as many opportunities to participate as a Volunteer Examiner. I miss doing two VE sessions a month.  Recently I received an appointment as a Field Examiner and as a Field Instructor.  These appointments are for EmComm instruction and certification.  I am hoping to get some classes going which would increase the number of VE/FE exams.

The other major consumer of my time has been EmComm. As the EC I have been tasked with getting the ARES/RACES program running. Since there was nothing here in the first place, I have been starting from scratch. Getting the internal county administrative stuff has proven to take the longest.

Another huge time consumer has been writing the Standard Operating Guidelines and the Training Manual for the county’s ham radio program. While administrative things are still not finalized, the county EmComm program will be organized as an AUXCOMM program with ties to ARES for expediency in working with other counties teams.

One thing that has had some great forward movement is the NTS program I have been setting up. We started with a voice net on the basin’s primary repeater twice a week. It has been going well and we have built up a roll of regulars over a dozen with an average of 5-6 check-ins each net.

We recently expanded to a second net on the secondary repeater after the first net. Now we are adding a VHF packet net after the second voice net. I have plans to add an HF voice and HF digital net to the lineup soon.

My own participation in digital as of late has been centered on VHF packet and HF Winmor with Winlink CMS. Now that the station is functional for HF voice and digital, as are the VHF/UHF voice and packet stations.

The packet station is an Alinco DR135 and a KPC3+ USB connected to a second Diamond X50A. I keep the station on 24/7 with the radio set at 5 watts. Overall it has very low power consumption.  I have no trouble reaching the digipeaters and I have a regular visitor from Shasta CA checking in on KK6GXG-1. I have also been able to get all the way down to the bay area via several other digipeaters. I have made a few VHF connections to the Winlink CMS system as well.

The VHF/UHF voice station is a Yaesu FT-2500M connected to a Diamond X50A. The two antennas are about the same height and separated by about 15 feet. For repeater communication, I usually have the power down to 5 watts. I will bump it up for simplex if I need to.

The HF station is an Icom IC-718. I have the Hy-Gain AV-18VS vertical which I have been using for 40-10 meters. It will tune up to 80 meters, but the 80 meter wire NVIS I built is more effective for 60-160 meters. I have both antennas switched into an MFJ-945E tuner and on to the radio. I have been making regular 75 meter contacts from Canada to California and east to Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.

I have poked around on 40 and 20 meters but not much. I have been too busy with the NTS nets on 75 meters to go looking for anything else.

On the HF digital side, I have the 718 connected to a Signalink USB which works great for Winlink Winmor peer-to-peer and CMS connections as well as a wide variety of digital modes through fldigi.

I am looking for another HF radio to dedicate to digital modes, and I recently picked up a Kantronics KAM-XL which has VHF/UHF and HF ports that would allow me to set up access to my PBBS on HF as well as VHF and cross-band digipeating, but that’s for the future.

My next area of attention is to get an old KPC-3 connected to an inexpensive VHF/UHF radio I already have and install them in the truck for mobile packet access. I may be able to work out an APRS system while I’m at it.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try not to wait for 4 months to update next time.

Until then…

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

Much Goings On

This first couple of months here have been busy. Building furniture, meeting new people, getting involved in the local radio scene. Trying to build the station up for HF operations.

Ham radio can be a lot of fun even as a solo practitioner, by that I mean working on your own projects. But the fun really kicks in when you are part of the larger community. There are opportunities to engage with fellow hobbyists and the community at large.

KBARA

The local radio club is the Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association. I started off with the group as a VE for one of the clubs exam sessions and then a couple of events with the group, the Crater Lake Rim Run,  and a Safety Fair. We also had a work party up at two of the clubs repeater sites, Hogsback Mountain and Plum Ridge. The folks are very nice and I have been making a lot of solid radio contacts. Several of the members have been very encouraging in my EmComm endeavors.

The folks are very nice and I have been having a lot of fun. Several of the members have been very encouraging with my EmComm endeavors.

The Community

CERT

I have been in communication with the Klamath County CERT group for a while and have been to one of the meetings, with another one tomorrow night.

Some of the KBARA folks are members of CERT as well so I’m not walking in blind or friendless.

I have turned in my County Volunteer paperwork and I’m just waiting to hear back. So, I’m not a member of the team yet, but things were looking good after the last meeting. We shall see.

NTS

I have wanted to get involved with NTS for a long time. In August I got in touch with the Section Traffic Manager to find out what I needed to do to get a local net going. After a few exchanged emails I started checking in regularly with two of the big Section nets that cover the whole state and several surrounding states, Beaver State Net, and Oregon Emergency Net.

After checking in to BSN and OEN for a couple of weeks I set up a local net, the Klamath Basin Traffic Net. Things are still very new and there hasn’t been much of a response yet, but that’s fine. It’s giving me time to work into it all.

I have had several opportunities to handle traffic from the net and I will start originating traffic once I work out a couple of issues in the station.

Skywarn™

I was hoping to get involved with Skywarn™ but the National Weather Service rep from Medford indicated that the local weather isn’t  that big a deal and the amateur radio presence in this area isn’t active or needed.  Without any support or interest from the served agency, there really aren’t many opportunities to serve. So, I guess I’ll just leave it at that for now.

The Station

There has been a lot going on with the station as well. After a couple of weeks of working the BSN and OEN with my low power, 5 watts, Yaesu FT-817 on the MFJ-1982LP end-fed antenna it was clear that I needed a bit more power to participate in nets, especially when the propagation conditions are bad.

I also needed to do something about the low power Baofeng UV-5R+ handheld transceiver I was using as a base station if I was going to be running a local net.

QYT KT-8900D

The mobile radio I have been using in the truck works very well, so it made sense to use the same radio for the base. This bumped me from a 5 watt HT up to 25 watts. The local net is running on a club repeater, and we do have a backup repeater as well and both have emergency power so 25 watts is fine for making contact throughout much of the southern part of the county.

The club has plans to link with other repeaters so we will have coverage throughout the county and beyond.

Diamond X50A

The homebrew J-Pole I was using would be okay, but it was limited to the 2 meter band and some of the repeaters in the area are in the 70 centemeter band. I needed something with a wider bandwidth and dual-band. Enter the X50A.

It was a simple task to swap out the twin-lead J-Pole antenna, which is now ready for my go kit, and put the X50 in its place. The X50 is also a commonly used antenna for amateur repeaters so it is reliable and can handle more power than I am putting through it.

ICOM IC-718

I mentioned the need for more power on HF. The solution that presented itself was an ICOM IC-718 that one of the club members wasn’t using and was willing to sell. The radio is rated to 100 watts which

The radio is rated to 100 watts, which has been helpful, though the last month band conditions have been crap making 5 watts nearly impossible and even at 100 it’s been difficult.

Initially, I only had the MFJ-1982LP antenna for HF that would cover 80 meters. The LP stands for Low Power, it can only handle 30 watts so when I first started using it I had to keep the power down low making it only a little better than the Yaesu FT-817.

Hy-Gain AV-18VS

The AV18VS is a nifty multi-band antenna that covers 10-80 meters. It uses a manually adjusted inductor to tune the various bands. Since the coil is at the base of the antenna, it’s not practical to get it way up in the air. In fact, it is intended to be used 3-5 feet above the ground. I have mine set at a little over 5 feet but it has a really good ground right under it.

It uses a manually adjusted inductor to tune the various bands. Since the coil is at the base of the antenna, it’s not practical to get it way up in the air. In fact, it is intended to be used 3-5 feet above the ground. I have mine set at a little over 5 feet but it has a really good ground right under it. In fact, it is intended to be used 3-5 feet above the ground. I have mine set at a little over 5 feet but it has a really good ground right under it.

It will likely be less convenient when the weather turns and we start to get snow. I plan on building some kind of hat to keep the snow off. I am still thinking that through.

Mobile

I have been running mobiles since July. I installed a QYT KT-8900D, a Midland MXT400 GMRS, and Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB CB when we first moved. Noone up here uses CB, but there is a lot of ham and GMRS traffic so I ended up pulling the CB.

I had always intended to install permanent mount antennas but it wasn’t practical at the time, which worked out well since I am driving a different vehicle than I started out with.

After getting the new (to me) truck in July I mounted a shelf that replaces the visors, the Vertically Driven Products Shelf-It. This works out great for holding radios and other stuff. We used to install these in all of the tow trucks when I drove tow.

I don’t use the visors, and with them mounted on the Shelf-It it’s hard to see traffic lights, so I just left the visors off.

Yesterday I finally got around to installing the NMO mounts in the roof of the truck. I installed three, one for the QYT KT-8900D, one for the Midland MXT400 GMRS, and a third possibility for the Yaesu FT-817 so I have a mobile HF rig. The only mobile HF antenna I have right now is for 6 and 10 meters. The nice thing about NMO antenna mounts is that they are easy to cap off and use later.

Below are some pics of the NMO installation.

Having the mag mounts on the roof with feedlines crushed through the window gap is just ugly, not to mention it does horrible things to the feedline.

Construction always starts with a bit of demolition. In this case dropping the headliner. I only needed to pull down one side so that’s what I did. It required pulling the Shelf-It out and removing the door trim pieces around the entire door as well as one coat hook and the cab light.

Here I have the back mount installed already and you can see the two 3/4″ holes for the other two.

It looks like quite the mess, but it’s really pretty simple. The white jar on the left is Chemplex silicone grease to coat the weather seals on the connectors and antennas or caps. Clockwise, the punch tool with a box open-end wrench and Allen wrench cuts the holes, in the large bag is a mount with cable just like the one just to its right. The small bags and black cap in the center are covers for the mounts when no antenna is attached. On the rag are needle-nose and slip-joint pliers to tighten the mount down. The brass disk is the installed NMO mount.

Three antennas installed. The front left is the dual-band ham antenna. The one on the right is for GMRS. The stubby one in the center is also a dual-band ham antenna I wanted to check out, a little performance comparison. The NMO mounts are much cleaner than the old mag mounts. I can still use the CB or any other radio that I can get an antenna with an NMO base. My CB antenna does. The advantage is I can move antennas or radios easily.

My apologies for the blurry picture, the camera kept focusing on the near headliner. The radio on the left is the QYT KT-8900D and the one on the right is the Midland MXT400 GMRS. The mics and cords stow on the shelf and there is plenty of room for more radios. I used the holes in the headliner from the visor clips for cables coming out, power on the left just behind the GMRS radio and antenna cables just to the left of the center hump.

Things Upcoming… too much to go into, how about some keywords.

Pi TNCs plural, radio go box, more homebrew antennas, homebrew filter cavities for a repeater, much more digital mode…

Until next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

Still looking for my voice…

After nearly a decade you would think I’d have found my voice for this blog. Having changed the focus so many times doesn’t help much I suppose. Personal blog, business blog, aviation focus, woodworking focus, I mean, really… how many times have I twisted this thing into something I needed/wanted at the moment? I’ve lost count.

I don’t know if I will ever know what my blog voice is. I do know, I need to write more frequently if I ever want to find that voice. March 28th, 2018 is marked down on the calendar as my 10th Blogaversary. The family and I have a lot of big changes in our lives taking place between now and March. I am hopeful that I will at least have a whisper if not a voice by then.

Big changes? First and foremost, we are moving. Not just across town, to another state. I say this because I have always lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. 50 years and the only time I wasn’t living in the area was a six month period I lived and worked on a job-site in Stockton, less than two hours from here. In fact, the family and I have been living in the same apartment for over 21 years.

Beginning July 1st, we will be in transition to our new-to-us house in Klamath Falls, Oregon. New town, new state, new house, new jobs; big changes. I haven’t lived in a house in 40 years, Tammy hasn’t lived in a house in almost 30. I am very excited about these changes. We want to shift to a more sustainable lifestyle and getting out of the multi-million populated urban sprawl and moving to a city of fewer than thirty-thousand people is a great start. We will be looking for our forever-homestead after we get up to KF and have had a chance to get to know the area.

Another change for us is the earnest desire to get outdoors and go do things. Sightsee, hike, canoe, just get out in nature, which will be interesting since none of us have lived in an area it snows, or rains a lot. It will take some time to acclimate to the area and its weather.

So you can see, there will be a lot of subject matter potential for the blog and writing in general. I am not making any commitments right now, but I would like to see myself post at least 500 words at least once a week. That seems like a reasonable goal. I am also looking forward to more interesting photographic subject matter to be included in the posts.

Along with all of the changes in lifestyle and location, we are hoping to make a few changes internally. With all of the out-and-about, we will be working on getting more physically fit, and tuning into the new, smaller, less frantic world around us. One of the reasons I don’t go out much anymore is the crush of people everywhere we go. I have to tune out so much background noise just to get from point A to point B. When you think about it, it’s easy to see why people seem to have lost their sense of self-preservation. They tune out so much around themselves, they just don’t see or hear it coming.

When you think about it, it’s easy to see why people in urban areas seem to have lost their sense of self-preservation. They tune out so much around themselves, they just don’t see or hear it coming. The density of it all accelerates the environments natural selection, adaptations, and migrations. An interesting idea for a sociology hypothesis… later.

My only regular outing is going to Volunteer Examiner sessions for Amateur Radio license exams on the first and third Saturday of the month. On more than a few occasions, I have not left the property we manage between VE sessions. If I don’t need something or have been asked to help someone, I would rather just stay on-site. My current density adaptation is to isolate/insulate when possible.

Not healthy, physically or otherwise. Socializing has followed the same lines, aside from the internet, I only see the folks at VE, or chat with other hams on the radio. Radio will still be my main social outlet, but I am looking forward to participating in things with actual people, not just internet friends or disembodied voices.

Any way you slice it, there are some big changes in store for our family. I for one am looking forward to some change with open eyes, mind, and arms. Klamath Falls… bring it on!

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

Here’s to new adventures

The bag is empty, no cats here. Our move to Klamath Falls is now eminent!

Last week we put down a deposit on a nice little 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in the Altamont area of Klamath Falls. The original plan was to live in town for a couple of years while we build on the property we purchased back in June 2016. Over the course of the weekend, there was a rollercoaster of ups and downs emotionally but in the end, we were very happy with the results of the weekend.

The property we bought in 2016 is not going to be a good fit, but we have worked out the details and it looks like we won’t loose any money, or very little at any rate. We still have the capital we invested over the year to invest in another property a little farther down the road. Once we get established in KF we will start looking for a property for our forever homestead.

Back in April, we made the commitment to set some target dates for moving and finding work. The advantage of setting those dates was having targets to aim at. With a target in sight, we started packing the non-essentials early on to distribute the chore of packing. Last weekend we planned to go up to KF and look at a couple of rental properties with the hope of at least getting to know some of the realtors and property owners in the area. Actually finding a place was only secondary.

The Universe was smiling on us and we found a great little house with nice neighbors and a great property owner to boot. So, we came home renters for the first time in over 20 years. It’s been a very long time since either of us has lived in a house and nearly as long since we rented. Anyway, you look at it, we are in for an adventure.

Once we got home, the Universe continued to smile as we purchased a trailer kit and a bunch of accessories and paying several hundred dollars less than expected. I also was able to round up everything I needed in short order. The trailer is a lot like the one I purchased as a kit about 25 years ago after coming back to the area from rebuilding a house in Stockton. The assembly was about what I remembered with only a few changes. I got the entire frame up and structurally completed in two days. One more day and I should have it road ready with all of the electrical.

Next week I plan on wrapping up the electrical and getting started on the box which should only take a day or two. The good news is, I don’t need to have the trailer finished until June 30th. Come the first of July I will begin making trips up to the house. We will be all moved up by August first, which is good since that is when we need to be out of our apartment.

One of the things I am very much looking forward to is having a good radio antenna up for HF radio. I am also looking forward to having some room for woodworking projects. Who knows, I may even get to an aircraft build some time soon. I don’t know how all of these things are going to work out, but I am confident we will move forward in our goals.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

Online License Classes

Something I have been working on for some time now is an online Amateur Radio License Class program. The biggest issues I have been hammering away at are the platforms for designing an effective learning experience along with what I believe to be the inherent drudgeries of traditional online learning.

As a student, I have taken a number of online classes at the college level and found myself not getting much from the class. The lack of instructor involvement and the spontaneity of live Q&A and lectures makes the whole process less conducive to learning anything new or enjoyment of the process. At least this has been my experience.

I certainly don’t want to put my own students through this kind of class, and as of yet, I hadn’t been able to get a group of platforms to work together seamlessly enough to make the whole thing look like a professional endeavor.  Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy teaching when I feel like the whole process looks slip-shod.

As an Instructor, I have had some experience with online course development and publishing. I ran into many of the same frustrations I had as a student while working on the other side of the fence and it frustrated the heck out of me.

The Environment

I think a good online learning environment incorporates a number of approaches.

First. A solid self-paced, resource rich, modular, study and quiz environment. This is the framework everything else is built around. If the bones are in good working order you can bulk up the flesh as needed.

Second. Community and communication. Students need to be able to interact. Most college online classes force community with journal style public entries or simple questions that require minimal engagement to complete the module.

Forcing community is tough, particularly when everyone is completely time-shifted. In live classes the first few hours, up to much of the first day, everyone is fairly lone-wolfing it. By the end of the first day, people are interacting. By the time we get to exams, there is some genuine comradery. It is great to see this develop.

Communication takes many forms. In forum type activities it takes a long time to develop any active communication. Instant messaging type systems encourage a more active participation but are difficult to maintain when people are active at different times.

Simple easy to use communications platforms are needed to develop an active community environment.

Third. Live, interactive events throughout the course. Lecture, Q&A, any active engagement is good. A combination of both Lecture and Q&A with a bit of time for general conversation or sharing is a great way to encourage both regular communication and sharing.

This has generally been the hitch on the whole thing. Live interaction requires several things, a visual component and an audio component as well as ease of use, and free or incredibly low-cost.

Platforms

The Framework. I like the Moodle platform as a foundation. It offers a lot of options and incorporates planned lessons, resources, and quizzing, along with a really flexible back office system that has been proven over time. It’s a free platform, and it is used by colleges and universities all over the world.

Presentations & Communication. There are a lot of options for sharing presentations, mostly for collaboration, and there are webinar type programs as well. I recently became aware of FreeConferenceCall.com; I like this one because it allows me to do a broad screen share or select specific windows. It also includes video conferencing, VoIP conferencing, and dial-in conferencing, and text messaging, all in one package with all of the features being concurrent.

FCC, not to be confused with the government agency, seems like a good option for the communications element. There are of course other VoIP and messaging options that would work quite easily alongside FCC as just the slide/whiteboard presentation. For VoIP, solid choices include Skype or Google Hangouts. Both also have a text messaging component as well.

There are other options including live casting with YouTube. Third party software with YouTube can easily meet the presentation needs, but the learning curve for me while building the program in Moodle would be steep.

Conclusion. I am by no means set in stone with any of the options. I am leaning towards Moodle + FreeConfrenceCall, with maybe an outside text messaging option.

Any way you slice it, I have a lot of work to do.

Until next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

ETA (6/25/2017): The Ham-U.com domain is now dead. I let it go because I just don’t know when I will be able to get to setting up the online program. When it does go live, it will be part of the KK6GXG domain.

Where do we go from hear

ARRL Registered Instructor

Good Technician class this last weekend. Small, but a lot of fun. The best part of all was the 100% pass rate for the exam.

Okay, now the confession, it was a two student class. Still, I am happy about the two newly minted hams.

Last weekend was a VE weekend, so I was examining not teaching. As is the norm, when we are not grading exams, we jack-jaw. Mostly about radio operations, sometimes the conversation leans technical. In recent months we have been haveing

In recent months the chatter has been about the ham population. Two specific areas have topped the conversations. The first is centered on the retention of Volunteer Examiners and engaging the VE community.  The second topic of conversation has to do with a special anniversary coming up in a few days.

February 23, 2007,  was the date the FCC dropped the CW (Morse code) requirements from all amateur radio licenses. Back in February 1991, the FCC dropped the code requirement for the Technician class license but it was the 2007 removal of code that made it upgrading a no-code Tech possible.

There was a boost to the number of new hams in the early 90s, but the number of new hams, and upgrades, since 2007 has been record breaking.  So this is all great news for hams right?

Well, maybe. The truth is, there is no telling what’s going to happen. Part of what makes this an interesting subject is that we don’t know why all these new hams have been drawn to amateur radio.

There are a number of possibilities, some centered around the huge and ever-growing population of DIYers and Makers, many of whom show interest in RF, at least on some level. There are the growing number of drone enthusiasts; some need a ham license to control the aircraft itself, others are looking for telemetry, and/or looking at RF video feeds.

What does someone’s reason for becoming a ham have to do with anything? It has to do with retention. Ham licenses are valid for ten years. That’s a long time. Someone who is deeply invested in the hobby is more likely to renew their license. Someone who is involved at a more casual level is less invested and may not feel the need to renew.

Here we are. It’s now ten years later and the first upgrades without a CW requirement are beginning to expire. The big question is will they renew.

My hope, of course, is that the attrition rate will not grow at the same pace as the influx of new hams over the last ten years. Only time will tell.

New Classes Posted

Welcome to 2017!

ARRL-VEC Volunteer Examiner

Not to put too fine a point on it, 2016 had a few issues. Too many beloved performers became silent keys, and more than a few other things that will affect us all went a bit sideways. I’m not even going to get started on politics.

To start the year off on a positive note I worked a VE session in the morning January 7th and spent the rest of the day putting together a new class schedule for Technician and General classes licenses and getting started with the promotion work, posting classes and prepping presentations.

Registered W5YI Instructor

I have six classes coming up, 4 Tech and 2 General January through April. All of them are 2-day weekend classes. This time around I am using the W5YI books by  Gordon West instead of the ARRL books. My main motivation to switch books is Gordo’s reorganizing of the FCC questions into a more logical order.

While the change will save time in class, I now have to tweak a lot of slides. There’ll be no time savings on the prep side this go, but I am optimistic that the reorg will make things a lot smoother in class.

ARRL Registered Instructor

If you, or someone you know, is interested in getting their ham radio license or upgrading from Tech to General and they are local to San Jose, please pass along a link to my site. Classes are listed here.

All of the classes have been posted to both the W5YI and ARRL class listings. As I write this, they are the only classes listed in the south Bay Area. The closest classes on ARRL’s list are San Francisco and Sacramento. There are no classes listed for the area on W5YI. They won’t show up until Monday or Tuesday (2/9-10) because all class postings need to be approved by a human.

I am hoping to greatly expand my teaching and hosting exam sessions later this year. All things in their time.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

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

New Technician License Class

Ham Class logoThis evening I have a new Tech class starting at 6pm on Wednesdays. I have another Tech class on Thursdays starting August 11th. I thought it was time to add a General license class into the mix as well. It starts August 23rd and meets on Tuesday evenings.

All of the classes are in the evening from 6pm to 8pm and meet for six sessions on the same day of the week.

I hope to be adding some other classes in the near future. Some license classes as well as some special subject classes.

That’s all for now. I have some prep work to get done before class.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG