Welcome to my world.

Introducing KC4APP.net

The recent call sign search tool I created has morphed into somewhat of a real website. It now contains a call sign search tool (that shows a Google Map of the QTH) as well as a Dipole Antenna calculator. The site is now also hosted on its own domain: KC4APP.net.  Of course, KC4APP is my call sign.

Fun with 10 Meters

Saturday afternoon, I figured I would get on 10 meters and see if there was anything going on. I yelled out a SSB CQ on 28.380 MHz and immediately got a reply from a guy four-wheeling in the Mojave Desert. I was very happy, especially since my OCF dipole is broadsided North-South and my QTH is in Eastern Kentucky. Shortly after that, I got a 5×9 from a station in Mexico City! Woo hoo! That was truly very cool.

Experiences at Grand Lodge Communication

Well, I was asked to represent one of my Lodges at the 213th Annual Grand Communication of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F.&A.M.  I figured it’d be fun to go and see what happens, vote for the new Grand Jr. Warden and meet the in-coming DDGMs, etc- which will be useful as I am in line to be Master of Breathitt No. 649, F&AM next year. I am actually Sr. Warden in two Lodges (and Master of none, bada-bing!), but have refused to take the seat in the East in one of them next year- just a personal thing with me, and I don’t knock anyone out there- but I won’t be Master of two Lodges at the same time…

Anyway, having no idea what to expect, off we head to Louisville: me and two buddies who are current Masters.  It was an interesting experience.  Most all the legislation I wanted to pass, passed. Most of what I wanted to fail, failed.  There were vendors selling cool and severely overpriced Masonic stuff.  Lots of suits and aprons galore.  Except for this being a Lodge function (and not for the Shrine), the old Ray Stevens’ song Shriner’s Convention would have been constantly running through my mind.

OK, I admit it: it was running through my mind the whole time…. Except for those all-too-frequent occasions when I fell asleep from utter boredom when I was so excited to hear all the great speeches.

Was on the air tonight but no one was calling CQ at my speed on either 40 or 80 so I started listening in on some voice QSOs.

Found an interesting bunch of fellas on the ‘Hole in the Wall’ net on 40 meters and listened until they called it a night around midnight EST. I really can’t wait to get my General ticket so I can play on sideband!

New call sign search tool

I figured it would be cool to create a call sign lookup tool. I know, there are already quite a few out there, but why not?  The one I have written even shows a Google map widget on the page showing the address of the QTH.  If you are interested in checking it out, please visit http://www.mikebryant.com:8080/LicenseLookup/

Please let me know how you like it. If you have any suggestions of other features or edits you think would be cool, please let me know!

My first contact on CW!

Well, the ocf dipole (aka ‘Windom’) antenna I put up today must be working ok.  I was playing around this evening listening on the HF bands to see what was going on.  80 meters was somewhat busy, especially on CW (Morse Code).  40 meters was jamming. It was so busy that I was wondering if I could even find an open frequency. The upper frequencies of the Novice/Tech CW portion was open, however, and I heard a station calling CQ.  And just at my (slooow) speed.  So I answered.  As the station came back to me, suddenly someone with a super-fast keyer started sending, and loud. Thus the QSO ended since I couldn’t copy.  I sent a quick ‘SRY TOO MUCH QRM. GD DAY’ message and moved on.

I called a few CQs on 80 meters… no luck.  Moved back to 40 meters and called CQ a couple times… was ready to call it a night.  Then, I heard someone calling CQ.  They were sending a bit too fast for me, but I figured I’d go for it.  Ended up with a QSO with a nice fella up in New York. He was quite kind and understanding with me, thankfully! Man, was I nervous!!!

I guess that dipole is working ok, got a 599 report from way up in  New York.

CQ, CQ, CQ…

After MUCH too long away, I have finally returned to Amateur Radio (aka Ham Radio). Back in the late 80′s when I was in high school I got my Novice License but no radio. In college I joined a Ham radio club on campus, got my Tech+ license, and got active in VHF using a local 2 meter repeater. I always wanted to play on the HF bands, just never had the financial resources or space required. Fast forward to marriage, job, kids, etc and I got out of the hobby altogether. I never wanted out, but either the finances or the timing never seemed to work out.

I finally decided to get back into the hobby and bought a used Icom IC-718 and an LDG tuner. Strung up my 132 ft (88/44) OCF dipole with 20′ vertical radiator today. It ended up not being as high as I wanted, probably averages 25′ above ground. Was hoping for 30-35′, but I’ll take it. I need to ground it better, but for now I hammered a copper grounding rod in the ground and used some old speaker wire (!) to connect the radio and tuner to the rod. Not the best, but you use what you have…

Receive is good, but no contacts yet. I called out a few USB CQ’s on 10 meters but nothing. Not surprising really. 10 meters had some activity so I thought I would have a chance, but oh well. I plan on listening to some CW QSOs this evening on 40 meters and practicing my code reading skills. Hopefully I’ll get up the nerve to call out CQ using CW!

Kind of embarrassing to have been licensed so long and never made a single CW contact and only one 10 meter USB contact, but getting that HF rig late is much better than never! I am also working on getting my General ticket.

If you happen to be listening on 40 meters and hear a slow morse code coming from KC4APP, please be kind!

Is The Walking Dead About to Die?

I can’t believe I waited all summer for new season of The Walking Dead, which was simply the best show on TV last year…

The only thing I can figure is that AMC must have fired the original writers and replaced them with actual Zombies. This season has been a disappointment since about the second episode, when they started searching for Sophia.. and have been searching ever since. I mean, how many episodes can you get out of a creepy old man in a farm house? Evidently a whole season’s worth.

Come on! I started watching this show for the Zombies, not some soap-opera love triangle between Rick, Shane and Lori. And who really cares if the the ‘little asian boy’ Glenn is doing the hookie-pookie with the farmer’s daughter. The show is called ‘The Walking Dead’, remember AMC?

So, please, let’s see some more Zombies, less old creepy farmer dude and not so much lovey-dovey. And please, we all know Darly is a redneck, do ya have to play that up so much?

I’ll stick around for this season, but unless something changes, my DVR will have other priorities next year.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta

So I spent about five hours last night beta testing the upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic. My verdict? In a word: awesome!

While having a very World of Warcraft feel, it’s just different (and that means better). After trying Rift, EVE Online, Runescape and a few other online games, I always came back to the runt’n'grunt of WoW, doing the same dungeons we’ve been doing forever. None of those other games just did ‘it’ for me.

Enter SWTOR, finally a game that will, once again, make me want to call in sick and spend all day killing monsters and leveling.

Note: Due to the confidentiality agreement, I unfortunately cannot provide screenshots and other details.

Watching standard definition instead of high-def on your iPad or iPod

OK, unless you connect your iPod Touch or iPad to an HDTV, do you really need to store all the movies and TV shows in high-def format? I mean, the screen isn’t that big on these devices and you can store tons more content if you use standard def instead of high def video.

So, how do you do that? It’s quite easy, actually. Simply connect your device to your computer, fire up iTunes, click on your device in the left-side iTunes bar, then click the ‘Summary’ tab. Near the bottom of that page, you’ll see a number of options, one of which says ‘Prefer Standard Definition Videos’. Clicking this option will tell iTunes to copy the old fashioned standard def versions of your videos to your device.

Of course, if you connect your device to your high-def TV to watch your shows, copying the high-def versions is preferable. But, watching standard dev on a little screen is really just fine. And you’ll be able to stores so much more stuff to your device!