Archive for Technobabble

Reunion - Ham Radio Style

Eating Meeting

Over the holiday weekend, we had house guests in the form of a couple that I have known since 1960 or so. I met Dick and Taffy on 2 meters AM in California when I was still in high school. We became good friends in those days. We also had a lot of mutual ham radio friends on the air and in person back then.

We got back in touch with them after a lot of years via email a couple of months ago when they found me and invited me to a reunion out in California of a bunch of other hams we knew. We weren’t able to go for a variety of reasons, but kept in touch hoping for a meet and greet opportunity. It so happened that Dick and Taffy were in Arizona to attend a grandson’s graduation from technical school in the Phoenix area on Saturday. We had previously offered to host them here at our place for an extended visit after the grandson’s grad event. They arrived here on Sunday afternoon.

The third party in the reunion was Jim, one of those mutual friends back then, who has recently relocated to the Prescott, AZ, area. Since we planned a Labor Day grilled steaks dinner, we invited Jim and his wife, Shirley, to attend which they graciously accepted. We all had a great visit, dinner and more visit before the confab broke up just before dark. Jim and Shirley headed back north, Dick and Taffy stayed one more night here and the latter departed this morning, returning to California.

We really enjoyed all the story swapping, getting caught up on other friend’s activities and learning about ancestry and genealogy tactics (we may soon use some of those). By the way, everyone present on Labor Day would be considered right-wing lunatics by the anti-constitutional left. Of course, normal people would consider us Patriotic Americans. It was a good and enjoyable reunion and encounter and we hope to be able to have a redux soon.

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Vernal Equinox

equinox.jpg

Archaeoastronomy’s Earth Clock Graphic shows Earth’s current position relative to the cusps of equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarters. As you can see, Earth is crossing through the Vernal Equinox cusp along its orbit around the sun. As of 14:58 Arizona Time, we are now officially in the spring has sprung mode.

Our early signs of spring have started. Damsel’s Flowering Plum is full of blossoms and her Daffodils are opening, no thanks to the colder late winter weather here. Wickenburg actually had three or four days of snow this winter which is highly unusual. The high temperatures were seldom above 60 degrees F. for much of February to mid March.

The rest of the xeriscape garden is also showing signs of spring, albeit later than normal. We have several beavertail cacti which all are sprouting flower and paddle buds. The Argentine Giant out front is showing flower buds and a new arm sprouting, maybe two. The other prickly pear cacti will be getting flowers later in spring. The giant saguaro out front should also be getting flowers in late spring.

I’m sure that with the cactus flowers opening and other springtime events, Damsel’s (and my) camera will capture some of it for posting here. Stay tuned . . .

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Happy Pi Day - 3/14/2019

pi.png

Before there was a PI key on our Bowmar Brains, many of us would approximate the value of PI using the formula 355/113. Some of us also memorized the first nine digits of Pi - 3.14159265 and input that into our calculators. Either way, the result would be off by less than 1 part per million, good enough for most applications short of space launches.

Scientific American has this offering about How Much Pi Do You Need?:

You might have observed Pi Day on March 14. It gets its name from 3.14, the first three digits of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Always on the lookout for excuses to eat pie, some geeky math types also celebrate the number on July 22. The fraction 22/7 has a value of 3.142857, so it has the same first three digits as pi.

Both 3.14 and 22/7 are approximations of pi, so the two days deserve the same title. In fact, 22/7 is closer to pi than 3.14 is. So if you’re an aspiring pedant, you can choose to celebrate July 22 as Pi Day and March 14 as Not Quite as Close to Pi Day. (Either way, you’ll enjoy more pie.) But what does it mean to be an approximation of pi—and why does it matter?

[Continue Reading]

This interesting article goes on to discuss how many decimal places of PI accuracy are needed for space operations, navigation (GPS) and quantum mechanics.

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New Arizona Ham Radio License Plate

W7GD License Plate

That was a pretty fast turn-around! I ordered the new plate 29 days ago and it was already in the PO Box this morning. The lady at the MVD that took the order said about 30 days while the literature on line said six weeks. Regardless, it’s here and already mounted on the Motorhome.

They only issued a single plate because AZ doesn’t require a front license plate. I think I can get one for the front of the RV, though. I will check on-line and see if that is possible.

We won’t be able to show off the new plate until springtime because we’re not going to go on our planned trip to Colorado until the weather changes. Maybe we will have some other place to go in the meantime, but we’re not planning on anything yet.

So, there ya go . . . a good-looking ham radio call plate on a good-looking Motorhome. Click on the image to enlarge.

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First Day of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere

Solstice

Damsel and I were in the office this afternoon when I remarked that I think the winter solstice is today. As I looked up the time of the solstice on the internet I could see that winter had just begun only a little over an hour ago. As of December 20, 2018, 3:23 PM Arizona time, we are officially in the winter season.

We just took the dogs out for their last walk before it gets dark here. The temperature on the patio was still up at 68° F, although it will be falling rapidly after dark. We’re expecting a low of 46° F overnight.

The Northern Hemisphere might be getting a cooler winter this year according to arch-weather guru Joe Bastardi of WeatherBELL Analytics. I read a recent article with an analysis of El Niño and La Niña and some sort of Pacific Decadal Oscillation that we might be in for some really cooler weather in 2019.

So, Damsel and I will be shopping for some warmer winter clothing in the post-Christmas sales. The good news is that the forecast isn’t so severe as to warrant snow tires or parkas or arctic gear. It’s Arizona, after all. The forecast for this weekend will be highs in the 70’s and lows in the mid 40’s, so the deep freeze isn’t here yet!

Screenshot above from the Archaeoastronomy website. Click for a (slightly) larger image.

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Orville and Wilbur Day 2018

Wright Flyer

The 115th Anniversary of Powered Flight is today, December 17, 2018. This marks one of, if not the most, important technological achievements of the 20th Century. Aviation spawned an age of unprecedented achievements not only in aircraft-related, but in myriad support technologies. I am thankful to God that I was born in an age where emerging technology, my aptitude and education were responsible for a long and happy career in aerospace.

Co-incidentally, today is the 80th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. They were married on this day in 1938 in Long Beach, CA, where I was raised. They were present for the booming aviation industry in Southern California, another reason I was born into the right place at the right time. It’s too bad that I can no longer say that about what Kalifornistan has become.

From the National Air and Space Museum:

The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world’s first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights’ first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.

The Wrights pioneered many of the basic tenets and techniques of modern aeronautical engineering, such as the use of a wind tunnel and flight testing as design tools. Their seminal accomplishment encompassed not only the breakthrough first flight of an airplane, but also the equally important achievement of establishing the foundation of aeronautical engineering.

Image and text borrowed from this Smithsonian Link.

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My Amateur Radio License Plates are on the Way

w7gd-plate.jpgI went to the local AZDOT MVD office and ordered Ham Radio license plates for the RV, which was up for renewal in a few weeks. I killed two birds by ordering the plates and renewing the registration at the same time.

The image at the right is a mock-up of what the new plates might look like. I took a screenshot of the image on the DOT website and cobbled in the radio tower from another image. You can see what I did if you look closely.

Besides the call sign, there is a radio tower with lightning bolts coming out of it and the words “Amateur Radio Operator” instead of “Grand Canyon State” seen in my mock-up. In addition, there is a mountainscape and several saguaro cacti in silhouette along the bottom. The plates are colored in gradient from turquoise at the top, through white in the center and to gold on the bottom. I think they’re quite nice looking. An actual completed ham radio license plate can be seen here.

The agent who took my order said that the plates take four to six weeks to arrive. In the meantime, I’ll be impatiently waiting!

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