Archive for Technobabble

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?

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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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Ham Radio Vanity Callsign Bonanza Day Results

New QSL Card

The Vanity Quest for a new 7th area Ham Radio Callsign is now over. We managed to get picked and won the callsign seen above. It was my third choice on the list I submitted in my application to the FCC on the 5th of November. I achieved my goal of having the new call before the end of 2018.

I started the Vanity Quest last January for a 7th district call when I “harvested” a silent key’s (deceased ham’s) amateur radio callsign by providing a letter requesting the call be released for reissue and a copy of the obituary to the FCC. I was disappointed when I didn’t get that call because the suffix was my first and last name initials. I was doubly disappointed when a guy from Illinois (out of the 7th district) got the call.

Before today’s result, I applied for 21 callsigns on 19 applications, all of which were dismissed. This morning when I read my email, the FCC notice was in my inbox. Now, I am pleased with the fact I got an old-timer W7 call and am happy with the Quest being at an end.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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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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