VHF/UHF contest today

I participated in the annual VHF/UHF contest today, attempting contact with fellow ham radio operators in Fremont county. I was unable to do so, either on 6 meters, 2 meters, or 70 cm.

Lots of chatter on 40 meters that I picked up with my 6M PAR omni:

My PAR Electronics omni 6M antenna

It’s installed on a Poles and Holders (dot com) 22″ extendable mast-

6 meter antenna in the air

and it works pretty good. It’s quick to deploy-Just run over the “holder”, drop in the mast, put on the antenna, connect the coax, raise it up, and you’re ready to transmit. Here’s the holder:

Holding up the mast

Easy to use. I was using my HF/VHF/UHF station:

My HF/VHF/UHF station

It’s a Tac-Comm case (seems like I keep promising a video). It holds my Yaesu FT-857D all band all mode radio, its LDG AT-200Pro II autotuner, and my Yaesu FTM-400 XDR/DE 2M/70cm radio. Eventually I hope to put a Icom IC 7300 in it.

I was able to make contact with a local ham through the Meadowlark repeater, but not the Fremont county group. Next time, I hope.




New suspension

In stages.

I purchased new upper and lower ball joints and control arm bushings, strut arm bushings, and alignment shims from Rock Auto for the Nissan a few weeks ago, and last Thursday I installed the upper ball joints and control arm bushings. I might sound odd to hear someone say it, but I really enjoyed doing the work. My body didn’t enjoy it and was complaining that I was abusing it needlessly but I sucked it up and completed the job.

I’ve started the rebuild of the front end because the front tires wear funny, and I’d like to correct that prior to installing new ones. Naturally, I’ll need to the steering components, and I’ll be buying them next month-ish.

I’ll install the lower joints and bushings soon, when I can get it up on a rack so I don’t have to crawl on my back to do it. The torsion bars have to be “untensioned” to remove the parts, so I want to do it safely.

More to come.

Where in the heck have I been???

Sick and lazy, mostly.

I sat for my Amateur Extra test (passed!) on 4 November, 2017, and promptly got sick for two weeks with what I think was bronchitis. I didn’t go to the doctor, so I’m not sure. I was out of work all but ten hours that week.

I installed new exhaust parts and power steering pump on the Ford, finished installing radios and wiring in my Tac-Comm box,  and picked up some used solar panels from a fellow in Riverton. While I was there, my alternator cratered but as I had a spare, I installed it and got home just fine. More posts to follow as soon as I can gather photographs.

Finally, 12V through the firewall

I’ve been pretty sick and I’m still coughing frequently, but I was well enough last Sunday to drill a hole through the Nissan’s firewall and install the 12V power cables through the firewall and install a grommet:

Nissan 12V power

Here’s a closer view:

Nissan 12V power

Later today I’ll plug up the hole I used previously-I need to glue the rubber plug back together and reinstall it, but that will be easy.


Adding power to the Nissan

I installed a 12 volt power supply for powering my FTM-400XDR last winter, but I didn’t include proper fuses or use large enough wire, so I’m starting over, using a couple (excellent) Littlefuse Maxi fuse holders I bought over at Mouser.

First, I ran 10g bonded wire from the battery, using corrugated wire loom:


The run to the new fuse holders:


If you look carefully, you can see the little bracket I built to hold the fuse holders.

Here’s a view with the covers off, no fuses fitted yet:


And another view with the covers on:


The lead from the fuse box to the firewall isn’t visible, but it’s there, and here’s the loomed wire disappearing into the firewall:


This isn’t where it will pass through the firewall, but for now it’ll keep it out of the weather until I can finish the install.

Just my OCD brain trying to do it as well as I’m able.

Stay tuned for more.





Four years ago in a fit of prepareadness fear I bought an All American Model 921 pressure canner, and used it on and off to put up cheap grocery store meat from the “reduced for quick sale” bin.  I spend a goodly portion of a recent Saturday evening canning two bags of Sam’s Club sweet onions.

I can’t recall what I paid for the canner. It wasn’t cheap, but I purchased it with a windfall from work, and I’m glad I did-I’ve used it for canning a lot of meat during the past few years. I’ve canned LOTS of tomato based items and acidic hot pepper relishes in my big Cinsaware pot using the water bath method, but it’s not generally accepted as safe to water bath meat.

The canner is pretty handsome:

My All American Canner

It’s sitting next to my Zenith Transoceanic, which I’ll be ordering capacitors for next week (after payday).

The onions came out vey well:

Canned Onions

They’re really tasty. I used beef broth to fill the jars, left around an inch of room from the top, and loaded them in the canner. I put up 14) 1.5 pint jars, and 5) 1 pint jars. I opened one to use in some beef sausage cabbage soup, and it was excellent. Next time I might cook the onions down in a pan first before putting them in jars, and I’m definitely going to make some onion soup as well-my buddy’s wife over at eatgrueldog.com has a recipe that’s to die for. While you’re stealing his recipe, check out his site-he’s a good guy.

My trips to the gym are paying off. I’m getting stronger, I have more stamina, and my fasting blood sugar levels have been much improved- from 210-220 down to 130-135, and I can live with that. It remains to be seen whether my doctor can.

I’m getting kitted up for some wild camping (its a British term for camping in the woods out of a backpack-we’d call it backpacking). I’ve had most of the stuff for years, but I’ve added a couple mess kits that are more suited to carrying into the woods, and a military sleep system. I’ll describe all in a later post.

That’s all for now. Get up and get out folks. It’ll do you good.

Adding an exercise program

I’ve written before that I’m walking regularly, and I’ve decided to add a regular routine of lifting to my gym visits. It comes from this guy’s YouTube channel-it’s pretty light for now, but I’m pretty glad that it is: I started Sunday morning, this is Monday night and I’m pretty sore.

Lots of upheaval at work-I’ve lost 3 employees to other buildings and gained a building, so I’m polishing the chair with my hind end less, but that’s a good thing.

Next Sabbath I’ll be camping on Muddy mountain and conducting a potable amateur radio operation demonstration. I’m a little amazed how little portable operators there are around here, especially for a town the size of Casper. Hope to see you there.


Better by the day

I’ve been going to the gym three times a week, and this week I’m going six times a week, taking Friday night through Saturday night for Sabbath rest.

I was walking  a mile every time I went to the gym, and increased it to two miles (average time of 36ish minutes to complete) and this week I started with the weights. Light amounts for right now, I’m doing a couple sets a day on a couple different machines, and I’ll add weight and routines as I go along.

Yesterday was the Sabbath, and I noticed that I was craving a trip to the gym: that’s unusual. Before my heart attack I went to the gym, but could often make an excuse to not go in. I hope this last forever.

The eclipse was great, and I’m glad I made the effort to go to Pine Mountain to see it. I THOUGHT I’d be the only one there, but it turned out that everyone else figured out it would be a great place as well. I was on the highest spot on the mountain that wasn’t private land, and had maybe twenty-five  neighbors around. I was struck by how nice everyone was-there was absolutely none of the territorialism that you occasionally see in a campground. I counted 250 people on the flats below the mountain-there was even a guy on a four wheeler selling burritos. I wouldn’t call it a carnival, but it was close. Lots of friendly people who cleaned up after themselves.

I had ample time to ride the Rokon, and really had a great time exploring some of the rougher roads off the mountain. I put around thirty miles on it during the weekend, which is plenty for this guy. I also took some video that I’ll post up after I get them on vimeo or vidme.


Update, and eclipse scouting…

I’ve been back to work (light duty- no pushing, pulling, or overhead lifting over 15 pounds) for two weeks, and my cardiologist will release me with no restrictions on 21 August, 2017.

It’s been traumatic having a heart attack and heart surgery, but overall it was very good for me. for the first time in twenty years, I can breathe when I’m exercising, and it actually feels (mostly) good. I liken it to getting a new engine in an old car-it runs like hell, but the shocks, brakes, and suspension are still shot. I’m walking a mile and a half in 30 minutes-not fast enough to break any records, but far better than the past couple decades. It’s amazing to see the ground I’d lost and attributed to age (I’m 54).

Today I drove the Nissan out to my secret eclipse viewing site. Looks like the spot I’d originally picked out on the map is a bit difficult, but the place I drove to ought to work very well. I plan to erect an end fed half wave antenna and try to make some contacts during totality. I don’t want to have a lot of company, but if you’ll listen on 20m calling, you might catch me. I hope so, anyway. I’ll also be loading up the Rokon (I’ll be released to use it) and exploring with it as well.

More detail to follow.