I Have Learned A Lot

I have traveled these past couple days. Started at home, traveled north through Detroit into Canada on my way to Toronto, Ontario Canada. I had planned on stopping in Detroit to take some photos of the abandoned skyscrapers and whatnot. Well, Thursday morning I just woke up way to late and subsequently got on the road way to late, about 3 hours, to do this. So instead I passed by my stops in Detroit and headed directly for my border crossing at the Ambassador bridge. Got there, and well I guess I meet a profile but I got invited to the secondary search area. So after CBP spent 30 minutes going through my SUV and looking me up on the computer and asking if I had any guns with me, I finally got through the border.

This is when my schooling started.

First of all I am not completely naive and understand certain differences between the US and Canada. Understanding this and actually dealing with this though are two different things. One of the first things I notice is the 90kph speed limit. After a few moments I remember that there is actually is basic KPH readings on my speedo. The metric system, I know it, not well but after a little thinking I was able to convert in my head. Road signs are different and look different.

Next is kind of related to the first, distances, specifically in kilometers. That one actually was nice. What I mean is that I have a sign saying “80 km to Toronto.” In theory that sounds bad because my brain is thinking 80 miles traveling at 55mph. Where as what was actually happening was that I had 80 kilometers to go while traveling 120kph. That is a much better, and faster, ratio of travel time and speed.

Then was my cell phone. I do not own a standalone GPS system for navigation. So I did not have easy communications or navigation, because I use the Google Maps app. I incurred some, probably expensive, international roaming charges because of a little data use. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. Out of the box it is an unlocked international phone, supposedly. Mine is a Verizon Wireless version. All I should have to do is plug in a new SIM and probably change a few settings. This I will be testing out in the next few months.

This is a more related to just generic travel anywhere, but it was the “little-things.” Specifically parking and toll roads. In this modern world both things required cash. Well I do not carry cash, have not for a long time. That is going to change. Not a lot needs to be said about that. I am going to start keeping cash in my wallet and glove box 24/7. Plus when traveling my personal bags. I might even add a coin to the mix ass well. Now that I think about it I have coin in my backpack. About a $1.35 USD, enough to get my through my first toll to an atm. O well.

Finally I see that my old fashioned American plastic cards in my wallet need to be upgraded. What I mean is that most of the rest of the world no longer uses magnetic strips on cards. They use something called the ‘Chip-and-Pin’ system or EMV. These systems are much more secure. Remember Target and the other retailers at the end of last year? Yeah that would not have been possible with the newer system. Frankly it is just what the rest of the world is going to. While I was able to transact everywhere I went, it was not as smooth or easy as it could have been. Especially when I was purchasing gas this morning at the Canadian Petrol and breakfast at Tim Hortons. Plus that way I can have that new technology first, haha. The US is converting over to the ‘Chip-and-Pin’ system. Just slowly because of the amount of systems and vast cost.

GPS/Communication Tech

Top Ten Alternate Uses for Lip Balm via Riverwalker’s Blog

Orginally posted on http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/2013/11/riverwalkers-top-ten-alternate-uses-for.html

Lip Balm
There are numerous items that we frequently use in our everyday lives that frequently have multiple uses. Many of these uses aren’t readily apparent but can be a big help in a crisis or an emergency when your resources may be limited. One extremely handy everyday item that most people carry is lip balm . That small little tube can do a lot more than keep your lips moisturized.
Most lip balms are a petroleum-based product that also includes additional beneficial ingredients. It’s also a small enough item to be carried in your pocket, your purse or your first aid kit. Here are a few alternate uses for lip balm.
Top Ten Alternate Uses for Lip Balm
1. Treat minor cuts and scrapes on the skin with a thin coating of lip balm.
2. Use as a lubricant for stubborn zippers on your gear or equipment bags.
3. Rub on a cotton ball or gauze pad to make an expedient firestarter.
4. Insert a make-shift wick to make an expedient candle for emergencies.
5. Rub on other exposed areas like the ears to protect them from the cold.
6. Coat your shoe or boot laces to keep them secure and prevent untying.
7. Use to coat irritated skin areas on your feet before a blister can form.
8. Use to waterproof and seal damaged or exposed seams on tents.
9. Coat your knife blade to protect it from excess moisture in wet conditions.
10. Use a chunk of lip balm to seal a rifle barrel to keep out debris or moisture.

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:


My Travels…

So this past weekend I traveled to central Virginia. On my way I decided to field test a little system I had thrown together for keeping track of repeaters. Now to preface this; my system I going to describe to you was completely free to me using tools and software in which I already owned. I’m sure there’s probably commercially available products to do this for you.

To start let me give a short description of what I was actually doing. Using Microsoft Streets and Trips mapping software I imports a CSV file, actually a couple, into one map of my route I take to Lynchburg. What was in this data I imported you ask? Well, repeaters, all the repeaters I would remotely be able to pass on my route.

Here is my list of tools:
Microsoft Streets and Trips(what I had)
ASUS Laptop
GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS ReceiverUSB extension cable

To start off I searched the web for repeater data and found several sites that allowed me to pick and choose areas of which to export. There were a couple formats I cold have exported but I chose a simple CSV, comma separate value. Very simple and lots of software understands that format. Next I opened up all those CSV’s in excel, but most any spread sheet program would work. The data given from the sites was to much. I purged some columns of data. What I kept was the; Lat&Long, Freq, PL Tone, and callsign/name or club affiliation.

Now what I’m working with is two spreadsheets for North Carolina and two for Virginia, I merged the two sheets per state together but kept the two states separate, felt like it was just a good idea for future development.

Now the following steps are pretty easy and straight forward. With that said if you use software that’s not Microsoft Streets and Trips it may not be. Using the import wizard in the software I imported them as I believe point or way-points. But they were added to the open map I had as a addition of some kind which gave me a little ability to edit them. So all I did next was create a new icon in the “.GIF” format. The gif allows for transparent background. So I created a very small little tower icon that dots each place on the map to where a repeater is. Each little tower can be clicked to display the repeater info respectively.

Side note of two things. First during importation of the data you have to ability to go in and label what each column of data actually is telling S&T’s that Lat actually is Lat and there’s 3 available user data slots in which you can put the repeater specific data, Freq, PL and etc…

Now after all that work here’s what I came up with 68 contacts over 5 hours(while driving). Plus one club-net check-in(South Wake ARC). All on 2 meters, 144 – 148mhz. Really all of that didn’t span anymore than 2 or 2.5 mhz of the band. I didn’t go very low, really. I’ve never took part in any contests in ham radio and nor am I a pro or expert in any way. But for me I am very pleased with my results!!

Keeping safety in mind I really wasn’t able to record contacts and wasn’t really even thinking about it till like halfway back riding home but here’s a few:

South Wake ARC – net check-in