Category: amateur radio

Sun. Mar. 19, 2023 – Headed back home, stuff to do there too

Cold this morning.   40F or less.   It stayed cold all day yesterday and the sun only poked through for a short time in the afternoon.  Whatever today ends up being, if it doesn’t rain, I’ll be happy.

Got some small stuff done.  Finished weed-wacking my property and the HOA lot.   Picked up trash along the shore and the community dock.  I hate litter and it doesn’t take long.   Put up another flag pole holder.   Lot of visible patriotism up here.  It’s nice to see.

Helped stand up a 50ft antenna tower and learned a few new things.

Our guests had headed home while I was out, but they had a good time.   It was nice to have people here to share with, and nice to see D2 having fun with a friend.   If it was just a bit warmer, it would have been even better.   Can’t control the weather, I’m not a Bildeburg after all… 😉

Today will be wrapping up everything, getting ready to head home.   If I can cut the grass again, I will.    Some of it was so long it basically got flattened rather than cut.   I don’t want to leave it long for next visit.   There are a couple more smaller projects I can get knocked out too if I’m motivated.

I will say that cold HURTS.   My fingers, knees, nose, ears, and lower back are always sore in the cold.   Still as Kurt Cobain said, the pain lets us know we’re alive.   This weekend I was ALIVE.

Stack up some meatspace people and skills.   Build relationships while people are still open to them.  They won’t be if things get bad, and who you know, and who knows YOU will be very important.



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Sat. Mar. 18, 2023 – meatspace baby

Cool, but clear.   Damp, well that’s a given.  Cleared up yesterday and dried out a bit.  I was able to do some work in the sun in shirtsleeves, but it got chilly when the sun went down.

While it was up though, I got some work done.   Got the remainder of the grass mowed.   Got the loose deck boards screwed down on the dock.    Installed white and red rope lights around the edge of the dock.   Put them between the slats on the benches.   Standing, you see them and they mark the edge of the bench and the dock, seated, you only see the glow cast under the benches, but it’s enough to move around, and know where the edges are.   The red is specifically for any astronomy nights.

Spent some time repairing two of my patio heaters.   They wouldn’t stay lit, which suggested thermocouple issues.   Cleaning with a fine sandpaper is usually enough, and that worked on one unit.    The other turned out that the t-couple nut was loose.  Tightened that and it worked fine.   Just in time to provide some much needed heat for movie night.

Found a few minutes to sight in the finder scope on my wife’s 8″ dob.  Unfortunately last night was overcast.   Maybe tonight it will clear up.

Couldn’t do the annual service on my mower because I still haven’t brought a complete tool kit up here.   I needed a socket driver extension to get to the wheel and oil drain bolts.  Oh well, next time.

I finished my mowing anyway, and then did the HOA lot next door.  Part of the community, solid citizen, all around good guy, that’s me.

Speaking of which, I’ll be headed to a not quite a neighbor’s house on the lake this afternoon to help with an antenna tower raising.   More meatspace, more networking.  More finding my place.

Go forth and help someone.  Stack up some community.  We’re all gonna need friends, come the day.


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Wed. Mar. 15, 2023 – groundskeeping… or gas powered slaughter, chlorophyll edition

Cool and dry, a bit windy.   Probably.   Houston was nice, with patchy overcast.   The BOL was sunny and patchy clouds with occasional local showers.   And chilly.   55F by the water last night.

Got the truck loaded, and made it to the BOL.  Met some people in the community (local ham club) where my feeling that everyone here knows everyone else was reinforced 10x…   The LEO knew which house we own as soon as someone said “Bob Johnson’s house”… and the lady sitting next to me has kin on my street.    The guy I’m going to help with his tower lives on the other side of the lake, near where we first were looking for a place.   If we were British the phrase “Are you local?”  would be heard…  and if things go badly I’m sure I’ll hear “y’all ain’t from around here  are you?”

As long as we can fit in, it will all be good.

Gonna work really hard on that.

And stack some stuff.   Lots of stuff.






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Sun. Mar. 5, 2023 – sleeping in, if my back will let me

Another cool but damp day with clear skies would be nice.   Yesterday was gorgeous.   Sunny, breezy, temp was perfect after a chilly start…

I need to unload and re-stack the stuff that didn’t sell.  Some will not be returning to inventory.  Some will be going on ebay.   I sorted as I packed up, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Wife and D2 will return from their back packing trip later in the day.

Hamfest was a lot of fun.   I like talking to people, running a line of patter, and selling stuff.  I don’t know what official ticket sales looked like but it felt a bit sparse.   The swapmeet area wasn’t well filled out either, which worked ok for those of us that were there.

Several people commented on the cost of living increasing a lot lately.

People were buying smalls for the most part.  I didn’t really see people buying new radios, or big ticket items.   Several people brought their young kids and there were some middle or high school kids too.  Ham radio is a ‘dad’s day out’ thing, even if most of the kids were girls.

Didn’t see as many people who looked like narco trafficantes this time.   That’s a plus.

My best sellers were rack shelves, load bearing vests (mesh tactical vests with molle attachment points) and pistol holsters.   The shelves were a no brainer, but the tactical and gun stuff sold better than I’d expected, and I’m glad I brought them, as the fact they sold means there was an audience for them.

All in all, it was a fun day for me, and most of the attendees seemed happy too.

I’m sore and beat up, with a bit of a sun burn, but I’ll live.

Today will be putting stuff away, returning the trailer, and  nursing sore muscles and skin.

Wherever you buy it, keep stacking!


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Sat. Mar. 4, 2023 – join me at that Houston area Hamfest…

Cool and windy, but sun should be out and it should warm up later.   I’d be happy with a repeat of yesterday.  I think I might bring some sun screen, just in case.

I got my Dr appointment done.   Signage sucked, and I ended up being late, but I found it eventually.  Started by heading to storage and loading up the pickup.   One of the weirdest things I have is 9 spools of 12 gauge wire, 500ft.   I bought it for about $20/roll, and it is up to $109.   It is good for home-made antennas, as well as regular electrical wiring.  Even if I discount it for a fast sale, I’ll make good money on it.   I’ve got thousands of dollars of high end point to point 3.3ghz wireless networking too.   IDK if anyone will have the deep pockets, maybe a club… but it sure would be nice to move a couple of them.

I added zelle to my phone so I could get paid for the bigger items.   I’ve already got paypal, and the wife has venmo so I have some sort of way to receive that too.

I found almost everything.   Somewhere, there are a couple of bins of motorola radios that I just couldn’t find.   I found some just not the ones I was looking for.  Oh well.   Found some stuff I didn’t know I had too, so there is balance.

I REALLY REALLY don’t want to put all this stuff back away…

So come out to the Rosenburg Fairgrounds and check out the hamfest.  $15 entry at the door, and there are door prizes.   I’ll be in the parking lot swap meet area.  If you have been paying attention, you should be able to figure me out.

Go out into the world and stack some stuff.


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Fri. Mar. 3, 2023 – busy day today

Cooler, and hopefully clear.  Rain is supposed to have passed us by in the night.  It was overcast, threatening rain, and we did get a bit of light misty drizzle in the evening yesterday.   By 11pm we were getting a little rain, but nothing like the straightline winds that were predicted.

The BOL got heavy wind and had power outages in the area.  No idea what really happened until we hear from the neighbors, or someone shares on the local FB group.

Did some errands a preparation for the Hamfest yesterday.  Most of the afternoon got eaten by a trip to the bank to deposit a check though.   The check was too big to use the self deposit feature in the app.   The nearest branch is 10 miles away, on a rainy day, around the time schools get out and people start going home… so normally  heavy traffic as well as weather related crashes.   Joy.

Since I was delayed anyway, I swung through a regular Goodwill store on my way home.   Stock was low, but I did find a book and a couple of DVDs.   I really went in for pants, but didn’t find anything I liked.   It happens that way sometimes.

Hit my storage unit on the way home for two table tops, two CB radios, and a bunch of antennas.  Today I’ll be piling up all the stuff I’m loading on the truck and trailer for the swapmeet.   Gotta pick up the trailer first, then hit another location, then back home to rearrange and load.   I better leave early and come home late… and NOT spend a bunch of time on the internet with my friends.

I’ve got a Dr appointment at 11, which will complicate all the other stuff.  Couldn’t get it earlier and get it out of the way.

There will be some ‘playing it by ear’ today.

The Hamfest swapmeet is a great example of the secondary economy.   There are people who make their living (or part of it anyway) by traveling from show to show and selling directly to the attendees.   For locals, it’s a great way to get a bargain on gear, meet LMIs, and avoid CC and paper trails, if that is something you worry about.

In any case, get out and buy something, then stack it up!



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Thur. Mar. 2, 2023 – 03022023 -got a birthday coming up this month…

Same ol, same ol….   warm and humid, chance of rain, although we are on the edge of it, and it’s supposed to be clear for Friday and the weekend, so maybe it’ll blow out early.   Otherwise, high in the 80s low in the 70s.

Spent yesterday afternoon at my client’s house putting in a cell booster.   The tricky part is the cable run.   The house has a second floor but only in the middle and there isn’t a clear path from one end to the other.    I didn’t want the external antenna visible on the front of the house, and the room that needs the boost is near the front.   The equipment closet is near the back.   I am going to try using the coax that was installed originally for satellite tv to get the antenna signal to the room.   If I don’t have to figure out how to pull new cable all the way, I will save a bunch of time and work.  If you are building or doing a gut remodel, pull at least one coax and two cat 6 cables to every room that will get a tv.  If you have weird tray ceilings, or some other thing that won’t allow access to the walls from the attic, put a piece of conduit in.  Almost any signal can be carried over cat cable now, but pure RF still needs coax.

There is only one room with unusable cell signal, and that is the office… so we’re finally fixing it. (We have a pico cell that uses the internet, but until att finally got the fiber in, there was no way to make that work.  A straight up repeater is simpler, and doesn’t use third party paths…)

Today I’ll head back out there to do the rest of the install and then I’ll go home and pull more hamfest stuff.    That’s the plan anyway.

I did stop at the grocery store last night on my way home.   Beef was crazy high, and the only beef on sale was ‘value’ grade.   Chicken was cheap, maybe they’re all slaughtering before the birds get sick and flooding the market.   In any case, we are still only paying $4/ dozen large eggs.  Gas is around $3/gal at “normal” stations.   It is cheaper if you go to costco or go looking for bargains.   Big name stations might be 10c higher.

Stack-a while you can, monkey boy…



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Wed. Mar. 1, 2023 – welcome to March.

Yup, you guessed it, damp and warm.   The sun came and went yesterday, probably depending most on where you were in town.  I could see the rain in the rays of the sun off in the distance.   I never got any though there was some heavy overcast at my secondary location.

I made my first trip collecting stuff for the hamfest yesterday, winkling out some stuff (road cases and equipment racks) that has been sitting in the same place for at least 4 years, maybe longer.  Mostly filled the back of the truck.   There’s no doubt now that I will need  a trailer.  A box van would be even better, but that would eat too much money.

So much cr@p to load.  So many prices to check.   I may just wing it like I usually do, only checking ebay if needed.  I’m going to be basically giving the stuff away in most cases anyway.

Today will be more of that, combined with a trip to my client’s house to install the cell booster, but only if it’s not raining.    I’m not climbing on a roof in the rain.

If it’s raining, I’ll be pulling together stuff from my house and garage for the hamfest, and checking prices on major pieces.   I’m also debating whether to take an inverter and a couple of batteries or the honda inverter gennie.   The batteries would give me 12v for the stuff that needs it, but might not have enough power for the bigger 120v stuff.   Messing around with gennies isn’t how I expect to spend the time I have onsite though.  I need to take a box of AA batteries too, so people can test stuff if they want to.   NOW it feels like an onrushing train…

Hey I’ve got an external deadline.   Time to get stuff done.

And stacking has been woefully inadequate this week.   I’ll need to take a bit of time and do some thoughtful catching up and re-shuffling of current stacks.

Just because I’m slack, doesn’t mean you should be, get to it.


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Tues. Feb. 28, 2023 – ah February, I hardly knew ya…

Another warm, damp day, but hoping for a bit of sun.   No pre-assigned tasks to break up my day, so I should be able to get stuff done.  If it doesn’t rain.

Did less than I’d hoped yesterday.    There were bills to pay and paperwork to update, as well as the vet visit.   Poor doggie has a very sore backside from his shot, and spent the day whimpering and looking at me.   The LOOKING, and the little pathetic yips are very hard to resist, so I spent some time on the floor comforting him, until his girl got home and took over.

I had to get on the phone and wait for about half an hour for the ability to pay for insurance with a check… reading the numbers to a human.  Gah.   Did the same with the gas bill at the BOL, but that at least took a credit card.   Three sets of humans I didn’t expect to talk with and it felt like the 80s all over again.

I did receive my new driver’s license.   Shiny.   Lots of new security features.   Texas went RealID some time ago, despite very real misgivings and a public anti- stance, but this new card has even more anti-counterfeiting features than the old.   Got my FCC renewal a couple of days ago, so just waiting for the CHL (or LTC as it’s now known) to come  through.  Need to do my passport too, but that isn’t a priority.

Did some cleanup prep for pulling together my hamfest stuff.   Made a bunch of lists and started remembering where everything was, and WHAT everything was.   I’m pretty sure I will order a uhaul trailer today so I can take all the extra stuff I want to unload.

One thing about finally having a BOL is that it collapses some uncertainty states and solidifies some of the needs and wants.   I don’t just need a tower, I need legs for the tower I have…  A lot of just collecting potentially useful things is solidifying into WHICH useful things will be useful at this particular BOL, and not some hypothetical BOL.

And some of my “enthusiasms” have passed.   Which means stuff I stacked in the throws of that “enthusiasm” are now surplus to needs.

I should be able to take a whole bunch of stuff to the swapmeet.   Whether it will sell, depends on whether people still have money and the desire to spend it on ham stuff.    I’m going to price pretty aggressively to encourage them to buy.  That is really all I can do.

So take a look at your stacks.   See if the stuff is still fit for mission.   See if the mission still needs doing.   And adjust.  Stack what you need NOW, instead of what you thought you needed a year ago.



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Sat. Feb. 25, 2023 – no school like the old school

Warm and damp.   Spring in Houston.   Definitely feels like time for gardening…   never did get much warmer or sunnier yesterday, just a grey, blah day.  Today should be clearer according to the weather liars, but we know how that goes.

Didn’t actually do much yesterday.   Slept in my chair more than I’d like to admit to.   Had some issues going on that took up a lot of  mental energy, and didn’t leave much for work or play.    Everything resolved itself, but the day was a write off.

Today I’m going to start pulling together my stuff for the hamfest swapmeet.   I’ve got stuff at home, in storage, in the attic, out back, in the driveway and garage, at my secondary location- basically everywhere I’ve ever stashed anything.    I hope to just pile all of it, take it to the swapmeet, and hopefully turn a bunch of it back into cash.   Even with stacking and multiple vehicles and residences, I don’t need all the stuff I’ve got.   Plus I’ve got a bunch of parts, salvage, and industrial stuff that I hope to sell.  There should be a lot of pent up demand, if people have cash.

Of course if people don’t have any money, it won’t matter how motivated a seller I am, and I’ll end up dragging a lot of stuff back and forth for no gain.   I have no idea how it will go, but I am hopeful there is still money out there looking for bargains.

Take a look at your stacks.   See if what is there still meets your needs and goals.   Adjust accordingly.   Stack more of the good stuff…


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