Author Archives: sososamurai

Always forward.

I haven’t forgotten of my little corner of the internet.  Things are busy.  I’ve constructed two band pass filters based on the article here:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/tis/info/pdf/8809017.pdf

…and cribbing notes from a QRPSchool video:

http://qrpschool.com/portable-ops/band-pass-filters-for-qrm/

BLUF – mine don’t work.

My first, immediate observation, is that trying to get 48 turns on a T-48 core is a goddamn no-go.  I found an online calculator and re-ran the numbers on a larger toroid.  Pictures of my failed attempts may be posted at a later time.  Additional observations from the EE I had check my work:

The metal project box may act like a faraday cage.  RF is like voodoo, and my plastic boxes may not provide enough isolation.

My boxes were built according to the schematic in the article.  The actual filters are constructed differently – maybe.  All the L1 components share the same positive and ground connection.

My next attempt will be as close to exact duplication as possible, metal enclosure and foil PCB.


The touch and go.

The work situation is in a pretty poor place.  Everything else is AWESOME!

In the radio game, I am understanding the short comings of my setup and working around within it.  NVIS modelling seems to be well.  Articles for this month are half written up to be posted later.  Digital stuff is working well, learning is occurring.

Fitness-wise things are cool.  E is back, and we figured his 1 rep-max, and have built out a schedule.  I’m hitting my deload week so we are in sync for doing lighter-weight, form-centric , high rep work.  My cardio still isn’t great (best it’s been in years), but it gets hit twice a week at least.

On the gun side of the house, not a lot going on.  Later this year, this may change.  It would not be a bad thing.  It’s just a time/cost/will equation that hasn’t worked out in favor of getting out to the range.

 

 


Wintertime Test Camping

There was talk of a winter time radio expedition.  I was game, but hesitant.  I don’t have the clothing or gear to support long term bad weather without a suitable location to retreat to.  I asked him for a gear list, and he provided some broad stroke answers.  Due to the trials of Jan and Feb, the wife told me to go all in on gear.

I’m not a great clothes shopper.  I’m that socially awkward run-in-grab-something-about-right-and-get-the-fuck-out guys.  I also have some sort of aversion to camoflage.  To that end, ranger green and coyote brown are godsends, but fuck Realtree and Multicam.  It may be a case of too many gun store commandos and coffee shop hunters.  Anyways, I prowled Cabelas and REI for supplementary gear.

There’s a thing about high priced gear.  That extra cost of the product comes into play a fraction of the time, and if you can control all the conditions you can get by with inexpensive gear.  The classic case of this is in rifle optics.  Yes, your Primary Arms optic is the best optic because you go to the range two days a year, only if the weather is nice, power the optic on for an hour and magdump three mags at a 10y target.  If you were over-nighting on a hunting trip and trying to work game at sunrise, into the sunrise you may find your scope requirements change.

The bottom line is I now own a softshell pair of pant that are the single most expensive piece of clothing in my closet.

To dry run for future winter adventures I spent a Saturday night outside.  I had set the tent out earlier in the day and ran the SWL antenna out.  I wanted to do more then just run out and hop into bed, so at 10pm I headed out to run my tablet and SWL radio for some digital traffic.

It was a full moon and clear sky.  No wind, no rain.  It was ~36* when I started.  Ice crystals were forming on the inside of the tent walls below the rain fly.

Before I dive right into clothes the first thing that was immediate obvious was getting up off the ground was key.  I was sitting down, setting up the tablet and what not and the ground was just leaching the heat from me.  Just throwing a doubled up blanket underneath me went along way to making things comfortable.  Having a small seat pad would be pretty key.

Clothing wise, I doubled up on my summer hiking socks (wool), polypro base, softshell pant, flannel shirt, wool hat, fleece gaiter, fleece jacket and a myriad of gloves.

I started out wearing everything, after I got settled in, it was time to find out what the minimum was.  Jackets and boots were the first to go.  no big loss, still comfortable.  I rotated through the gloves and came back to the glomits.  These aren’t suitable for abrasive use – but it’s a great balance dexterity and warmth for typing/writing/dialing.  I tried a few different hats.  The single largest change to my comfort level was when I took the gaiter off.  Once that came off, I felt the cold fast.

The SWL radio did well enough, there was an RTTY contest this weekend – so plenty of RTTY traffic everywhere.  I watched 40m and 80m – I did not try 160m.  I also listened to some rag chewing on 80m.  None of it was exciting, but it was something to do to pass the time in the cold.

Just around midnight I climbed into my sleeping bag, I discovered my “vapor barrier liner”, aka trash bag, only came up about my waist.  Not a bad evening and if there was AmRRON message traffic involved, it would have been a good time.  By the time I went to bed it was about 30* out, and when I woke up in the morning it was 28*.  The VBL, must have worked, because it smelled like ass.  The worse part of the entire experience was getting out of the warm sleeping bag in the morning…


Snowpocalypse 2 – The Long Winter

We had one of those horrible twists of fate the day after my last post.  I was out shoveling snow and keeping the gutters clear for what was supposed to be an epic thaw when the wife hangs her head out the door – “The internet isn’t working.”  I asked her to check for dial tone and to check with the neighbors.  Sure enough, no dial tone.

Just shy of four weeks later, I’m back!  What’d we do in the mean time?  Well, any call to the telephone company was an exercise in frustration that would last no less then 30 minutes, so that soaked up some time.  We picked up an antenna to watch “over the air” TV – which was really kind of enjoyable.  I practiced a lot of CW, and every chance we got, we went out somewhere with wifi.  It was a heck of a thing.

Overall, though, not bad.  Getting off the hampster wheel of internet-consumption had some benefits.  There were some other events, that I won’t go into, that presented their own challenges – company layoffs, burglary and the like.  All in all, a pretty rough January and a shaky start to the new year.


The Snowpocalypse Strikes

Learning has occurred!

Normally snow in Boise is no big deal.  It’s rare to even shovel, because the couple of inches we may get never stick around longer then a week.  What does Burt Gummer say?

Natural Disasters and Preparedness | Crossroads: The Up From the ...

So we started to get snow, and it didn’t thaw and the snow didn’t stop.  14″ later we’re due for a week of rain and some thawing and refreezing.  As part of this there are prognostications of power outages and flooding.

Up until now, what went right?

  • I’ve had all my neighbors contact information prior.  I know who folks are, and folks know me going into this.
  • Fitness levels are good.  I’ve shoveled not just my drive and sidewalks, but more then a few others.  You can’t just sit by and watch a 60 year old man try to clear his walkway.  The same goes with pushing cars.
  • Provisions are good.  We’re good to not go anywhere.  That being said, we’ve capitalized on windows of good weather to go stock up (mostly beer.)

What can be better?

  • All that house gear that I never got because it never gets that cold…  It’s on the docket now.  (See the Gummer quote above.)  Silcock and vent plugs.  A good quality snow shovel.  My current plastic shovel is doing great work – but should it break I would be in the hurt locker.  Sure I could borrow a neighbors, but two is one and one is none and all that.
  • Clothing.  I am two minutes away from a hot shower an shelter – and that affords me to be sloppy with my clothing.  The gear goal here is to be outside, all day through work and rest cycles and be comfortable in 0* weather + rain.
  • Vehicles.  Our little commuter car is a no go at the moment.  The truck is only an option once everything gets packed down – and only then because of clearance.  AWD wasn’t even on the radar (I’ll never need it!) .  I got a tow strap and come-along, but didn’t get chains.  The wife is up next for a new vehicle and she’s getting an AWD, with chains and all the foul weather fixins.  The current truck will finish getting geared up.
  • A Generator and grid isolation switch.  A generator has been on the radar for a while.  If it saves the freezer once it’s paid for itself.  Current concerns regarding power outages has the wife looking at generators now too – this makes it a much easier sell.
  • Roofing and gutters.  Too easy not to clean them in the fall.  I’m not sure how much grief this is going to cause as things thaw – but we’ll see!

Actions for next time?

  • Clear snow all around the house, and keep it up.  Think two moves ahead.  A friend wasn’t keeping up with their snow.  Then the news does the thinking on our behalf and flooding is suddenly a concern.  Now it’s time to have a snowclearing and sandbagging party.  Live and learn, I’m betting this mistake won’t be made again.
  • Stock more beer.
  • Stretch and roll after shoveling.

2017 Goals and Gear

So what’s on the list for 2017?

“Lets Go Champ”

Skills

Super Hero Maintenance – My KB game by mid 2016 was pretty strong.  Switching gears towards Olympic lifts has provided another data point towards the fact the best way to get stupid strong is to lift heavy weights.  Body transformation continues.  I’ve already exceeded a body weight deadlift.  By the end of 2017 I should be doing body weight squats and be close to or at body weight power cleans.

-as an aside, this means the pistol squat may be a real thing for me-

Cardio wise, always room for improvement.  I will return to my twice a week in the spring.  I will hit one LSD during the winter.

Radio Stuff – CW is so close.  I’m close to forcing some poor bastard to plot along with me on a QSO while I use the MICKEY option on the 857.

SOTA/Camp more.  I have a compromise solution for my WTH antenna.  I need to be faster to get out to the high ground, hoist some wire and make those contacts.  It was only on the last day of the Rte 66 party that I decided to get out.  This year the Radio Go-Bag needs to be on stand by and ready to go.  I have the PV and PV Box ready to go.

Get more engaged in local politics.   Nothing fancy.  I’m not running for office or any of that.  But, before I get all torqued up at national shit that I have very, very little control over I need to be a better citizen in my own local area.

Find another job.  Yes, this was on last years list.  I thought things were going to be better but I was mistaken.  Same corporate dance, new puppet masters.

Shoot more.  I need to get out once a month and shoot. I managed November.  December isn’t happening due to time and laughable weather.  2017, out once a month.  Get back to recordable metrics.

GEAR

First and foremost is some budget juggling to support my weightlifting habit.

Plates and Squat Rack. I’m borrowing plates from a friend, same guy has lent me a scope that’s been on a rifle for a year.  I need to either pay him for these plates or buy my own.  Squat rack is the same thing, the garage is going to be all mine soon (wife’s planned car purchase in 2017 won’t fit) and so I can get a proper squat rack – this should coincide with me beating out the 300lb rating on the current rack.

Radio Gear.  CW paddle, I also need some 50′ runs of coax, and the necessary widgets to make antennas.  I could also do with a soft solar panel good enough to do 1amp/hour in full value sun.

Hunting License. This is a dual gear/skill thing.  I have to get a license for this state – my old states Hunters Ed isn’t good enough to qualify.

Low Pro/Mod Threat Belt.  I anticipate there may be a need for more then the standard CCW load out (Gun+Reload) but not quite Mad Max (rifle+rig+plates).  Could you throw a jacket over your IPSC rig and be ‘concealed’?  Something about like that.

 

 


2016 YIR

Here’s a link for the original 2016 Plan.

How’d this actually work out?

Lose Weight:

Nope!  I’m still somewhere around 230lbs.  My belt size is down 1″, and my definition is up.  I still drink like a fish and eat like a manic depressive.  I have upped my fitness in attempt to compensate.  To be clear, diet is *the* key factor in weightloss.  To counteract a single beer or candy bar would take an hour of high intensity work.

Super Hero Maintenance:

Not bad.  I’m in decent cardio shape, doing a 2 mile “jog” every week and another half hour on the elliptical once a week.  Earlier in the year I had tackled the “6 week to Freak” program, which resulted in decent body transformation.  Late in the year I fell across an Olympic bar and weights.  DF sessions once a week, mostly focusing on pistol.

Solar Stuff:

Did not manage a decent “backpackable solution.”  However, my portable game is strong.  Upgraded from 18ah to 40ah.  Moved my solar solution into a road-worthy portable box and am working on a decent “PV Box” to keep those 40 amp hours easily maintained and used.

Learn CW:
Morse Toad helped a lot.  It got me the buy in to commit to Morse Mentor (both are Android Apps).  I went through Morse Mentor once at 15wpm.  Eventually I started to listen to real QSO’s and the biggest problem I came across was finding ~15wpm QSO’s.  I double down on Morse Mentor and went up to 20wpm.  I’m still working through it at that speed.  I need to get a key of some sort so I can transmit.  If I can manage one QSO a week that should hammer everything down.

Commo Book:

This is 80% done.  The remaining 20% is the always updating, always working portion of the job.  I’ve gotten my Digital game going pretty well, but need to update the book to match.  All in all, things are going well here.

Yaesu 857 Appliance Operators Guide:

Have not touched this at all.  I’ve done some work (see above) but nothing on this level.

SOTA:

Have not attempted.  The infrastructure is in place.  I should tap my Elmer to get the extra “unf” to make this happen.

Get a New Job:

I got close on this.  Two things stopped me – the A1 “Better Job” had a last minute change of heart.  No problem, it happens.  I’d rather be told they opted not to hire for the position then to get laid off a month after getting hired on.  The second event was a huge re-org at work.  It’s not better – but the vision is there.  I’m okay with staying on board and seeing how things turn out.

Training Plates:

This is still on the table, but hasn’t happened yet in 2016.

Up the CCW Game:

Yes and no.  I am carrying every day.  That’s an improvement.  The RCS Eidolon is 100% worth the money.  I say this as someone who makes leather and kydex holsters for personal use, and hasn’t purchased a CCW holster in 5+ years.  My CCW game has improved, and in 2017 it’s going to get better.

Write More:

Nope.  My commitment to the blog wasn’t outstanding, but I still fell short.  A lot of it was the motivation to write decent articles and not the “Training Log” posts I had in the past.  The novella was started but never progressed past the first 20 pages that I have rewritten over and over.

In a nutshell:

Fitness-wise: I am better in 2016 then I was in 2015.  I have every expectation of being better in 2017 then I was in 2016.

HAM-wise: I am better in 2016 then I was in 2015 and again expect this to continue into 2017.

Shooting-wise: No improvement was made from 2015 to 2016.  Short comings have been addressed and I expect to be better in 2017 than I was in 2016.  (More information to follow.)

Preparedness-wise:  In general, we are better than we were previously.  I plan on implementing projects, purchases and methods to increase our ability to manage short to midterm problems.


The Uncertain Future

A friend asked me to gaze into the crystal ball and make some predictions:

Confirmation Bias is strong and too many of us are too willing to fall to its siren song.  I tend to a Pro 2A, Pro LEO bias.  Other folks may tend towards a #BLM and/or “Fuck the Police” bias…

..and like that I had 1000 words that amounts to big pile of nothing.  Here’s the skinny.  It’s the same it’s always been. There will be no big water-shed SHTF event.  The beginning is right now, but there will never be a giant shift.  It’s going to be a slow shift.  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.  The frequencies and types of utility and service shortages/interruptions will increase.

If this directly impacts you, you’ll know it.  If this doesn’t directly impact you, you’ll figure it out when you when you get caught in the bad part of town.  Plan accordingly.

What can you do about this?  At a national level: nothing.  It’s time to engage at a local level.


Heya!

In summer time things get busy.  Honestly and rightfully, if I have nothing to say why am I going to write a post?  This downtime is going to allow a better overview of what I’ve been up to and the results of those exertions.

So, in October expect some content.


dkr