Archive for Technobabble

Mikey Turns One

Boys and the Alphabet Train

Our youngest great grandchild, Mikey, had his first birthday yesterday. We sent him a birthday package via USPS and our granddaughter took this picture of him playing with his new toy set. It is a V-Tech Sit to Stand Alphabet Train. Here’s the detail on the educational toy:

  • Push toy is designed to grow with your child; the toy train can be used as a floor toy, a ride on that also transforms into a baby walker or a pull toy wagon they can fill with toys
  • Learning toy comes with 10 activities including a storybook, clock, gears; 13 double-sided alphabet blocks build fine motor skills and introduce letters, numbers, colors and more
  • For toddler role-play toy fun, the included Walkie-Talkie and number pad encourage role-play and introduce numbers and animals; counting toy plays more than 100 songs, melodies, sounds and phrases
  • Toy train counts the alphabet blocks when they’re dropped down the chute; kids story book teaches sing-along songs and plays melodies
  • Educational toy is intended for toddlers ages 1 to 3 years old

Anna, our eldest granddaughter and mother of the boys, sent us the above photo of Mikey and older brother Alex with the train toy. She also sent a video of Mikey putting blocks in the top of the toy and it responds by playing sounds and music. Damsel and I both got a kick out of that.

Thank God for our being able to see the kids as they grow up via electronic media.

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Ham Radio Vanity Callsign Bonanza Day

vanity-bonanza.jpg

For whatever reason, a large number of desirable amateur radio callsigns will become available tomorrow, November 5, 2018. The callsigns available are shown in the screenshot from the RadioQTH website. I have only shown the 1×2 and 2×1 calls designated for the amateur extra class licensees. There are 164 1×2 and 24 2×1 calls becoming available.

Since I am only interested in 1×2 calls with the numeral 7 in them, I will only apply for those tomorrow. The FCC vanity application allows for a list of up to 25 callsigns in order of preference. I have already made up a spreadsheet for the calls I intend to select. The order I chose was based on three criteria: 1) CW weight, or the length of time it takes to send the call using Morse code, 2) Phonetic weight, or the number of syllables to articulate the callsign in voice modes using the international phonetic alphabet and 3) my own parochially assigned likeability for a callsign.

Fortunately, there are enough 1×2 calls in the seventh callsign area to allow me to completely fill in the 25 available slots in the FCC application. For most of the calls available, there will be a tremendous amount of competition. Wish me luck.

11/05/2018 UPDATE: Here’s my list. Click on the image to enlarge.

Callsigns

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Ham Radio Vanity Callsign Quest

Amateur Callsign Regions

Image: Amateur Radio Callsign Regions - Click to enlarge.

Since we have escaped from California and now live in the 7th call area (the free state of Arizona), I am trying to dump the 2×1 6th area (California) callsign in favor of a K/N/W7×2 vanity call. As of today, I’m 0 for 19 tries with one vanity application still pending. I am hoping to have a new 7th area callsign by the end of 2018.

This post is actually a continuation of a series started on the Minstrel a while back. Those posts are currently inaccessible via HTTP but somewhat accessible to me via FTP. More on that as things progress.

The process of getting a Vanity Callsign is fairly simple. You apply for an account sign-in on the FCC ULS (Universal Licensing System) and apply for your vanity callsign there. A couple of sources to see what calls are available are Radio QTH Vanity Calls and AE7Q Query Tools. Either of these sites provide which calls are available and much more.

The competition is quite intense when applying for these popular callsigns, hence the lack of success as mentioned in the first paragraph. I have seen the odds vary from 68:1 down to 4:1 over the nineteen unsuccessful tries. The probability for success of my current application for W7EC is 5.56% with seventeen other competitors. All applications received for a given vanity call are electronically tossed into a hat and a random winner selected.

I will post updates to this effort as time progresses. Wish me luck.

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Alex Turns Four

Alex Turns Four

Our eldest great grandchild, Alex, had his fourth birthday today. We sent him a birthday package via USPS and our granddaughter took these pictures of him opening his gifts. They live in Northern California.

He is at an age where he understands the concepts of birthday and who sent him presents. His mother says he really liked our presents.

The gifts were a Fire Tablet and Headphones. The interactive nature of the tablet should help him learn things as well as him playing games on it.

We have three great grandchildren now. Alex, his little brother, Mikey, and Maci, our great granddaughter whose mother is the second eldest of out three grandchildren. Maci will be two in April and Mikey celebrates his first birthday in November.

Our grandson, Jerry, just turned three in August. Jerry also got a Fire Tablet and Headphones. We were able to give Jerry his gifts in person, since his parents visited us here in Arizona in August.

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Caught on Google’s Aerial Image

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I was casually looking at the Google™ satellite map of our neighborhood (actually an aerial photo mosaic, not taken from a satellite) when I noticed a couple of objects on our neighbor’s driveway. I zoomed in to have a closer look and the conclusion I came to was that the objects in question are us walking our dogs!

Our morning routine after breakfast: we feed and then walk the dogs. We generally walk them up the road to the west toward our neighbor’s house up the hill from us. In the image, the dark colored part of the road running to the left side is where we are. You can see our light colored cowboy hats, our shadows and the dogs and their shadows. Damsel is further up the road than I am by about 30 yards. The image below will clarify where we are in the top image.

walking-the-dogs-on-google-maps.jpg

I think it’s a funny coincidence that we happened to be out where we were when the aerial photo plane flew over. I estimate the time frame for the image is last summer. My clues are that the RV is not in the usual place as it was being serviced down in Avondale last year and the shadows are shorter on the north side indicating summertime.

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Hurricane Chris

goes-atlantic-coast-chris.gif

This is an animated GIF from the GOES East Atlantic Coast region satellite imagery view. When this animation was taken, Hurricane Chris was putting on a show as it drifts slowly northeastward. There doesn’t appear to be any hurricane threat to the Atlantic Coast at this time.

I posted about the utility of the GOES East images on the Minstrel site earlier. Obviously, the satellite images can be used for news and entertainment as well.

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Alex Turns Three

Alex and his new cameraAlex, our eldest great grandchild (we have two total with another expected in November), was celebrating his third birthday today. Last May, when we were visiting the grandkids in Northern California, I let little Alex “borrow” my little pocket sized Canon A710IS. At 2½ years old, he managed to take a few good photos among the messed-up ones you might expect from a kid that age.

So, for his birthday today, we sent him a Kid Zoom Camera designed for kids 3 to 8 years old. The photo above shows him with his new camera just after opening it.

We will likely return to Northern California later this year to celebrate the arrival of Alex’s little brother. We shall see what progress Alex has made with being an expert photobug at that time.

Photo via FecesBook™ posted by my eldest granddaughter. Click on the image to enlarge.

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