Archive for May, 2008


May 29th, 2008


We’ve been on the road, in the air, and on the water a lot this Spring.  It’s often hard to know whether travel is a curse or a blessing.  We are fortunate.  But, it takes a toll.  Then, there’s the environmental cost…

Antenna work, completed and coming

May 8th, 2008


I took K9BF’s TA-33jr down a few weeks ago because it didn’t look too secure and I wasn’t able to get it up high enough to play well on 20. I had entertained the thought of building an East/West-firing lazy-H array to replace it. But, that would have required me to move my high 40-meter dipole, probably the best antenna I’ve ever had for that band. I decided instead to build a Moxon, which seemed to be a fitting tribute to W4RNL, who recently became an SK.  The Moxon has about the same gain (albeit in one direction) over ground as the lazy-H and a little fatter beam.  It’s not yet operational; but, I’m working on it.

The 160-meter matching portion of the 80-meter dipole needs to be adjusted and repaired.  I didn’t use big enough RF chokes in the switching network and they got burnt.

I might do something to the southeast if I like the performance of the Moxon, too.  Hopefully, the beams will give me the edge I need to make some more QSOs on 20 in the Sprint and SS this Fall.

Grad school is really sapping my energy.  We’ve been on the road a lot and the end is not yet in sight!  Plus, there’s real work to be done, too.


May 6th, 2008

My father-in-law is an avid reader of Consumer Reports.  He got us a subscription a while back.  I frequently let Sarah read and summarize new issues.  But, a new issue arrived today touting their latest computer evaluations.  I was compelled to read it.  By the way, the MacBook and the ThinkPad still top the list of laptops.  At least someone agrees with my sentiments there.

As the son of an physicist who used to do performance testing for a major home appliance manufacturer that was not always treated favorably by CR, I have a healthy skepticism for the reviews.  (It’s very easy to design experiments that favor certain outcomes.)  Although, they frequently tend to bear-out my own recommendations and choices upon things I consider myself an expert about.

But, I digress.  In the February 2008 issue, they spent some time on investments.  One of the investments they recommended avoiding was an annuity.  In the latest (June 2008) issue, an advertisement touts a “Consumer’s Union Annuity.”  I didn’t bother to read the details, though.  It seems that an investment in CR‘s parent company is fine, despite the earlier discouragement.  Ok, so this is a relatively minor inconsistency.  But, it never hurts to know what influence a buck has…

Repairing the micro Cluster

May 3rd, 2008

Airglow Cluster

Last summer, with the help of a fellow graduate student, I retrieved some old computers from the dorms to build a small cluster.  Total cost: $100.  Five of the machines had Maxtor DiamondMax 8 40-gB drives in them.  All five failed over the past few months.  For $200, I could replace them with new drives.  But, first I called surplus and ended up with a smattering of used drives with capacities of 20 and 40 gB. Three hours later, we were up and running again.  I’m sure they’ll get plenty of use as the ISEA deadline closes in…


May 1st, 2008

View Larger Map

I noticed in Facebook that one of my “friends” had the following status message: [Name] is freaking out because I’ll be in Cali in less that [sic] 24 hours!!!!!

Cali? I’d be freaking-out, too. Wait. She means California, not the city in southern Colombia. Seriously, that’s the first thing that came to my mind…