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PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

paulmccord.net - PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

Oklahoma City Area TV Stations

Digiwave ANT7285

 

Since American TV stations made the conversion to digital back in 2009, most of the stations abandoned their VHF signals for new UHF signals.  In fact, in Oklahoma City, only two stations remain on the VHF band, KOCO 7 (virtual 5) and KETA 13 (virtual 13).  The rest of them, while claiming to be channels in the former VHF are actually now on UHF but using the virtual channels they use to be on.  KFOR use to be channel 4 but now on channel 27 and KWTV use to be on channel 9 but now on channel 39.  Recently I bought this eight bay UHF antenna to see what I could tune in.  I was surprised by how many channels there were over the air these days right here in Oklahoma City.

I turned the antenna to a direction that I thought most stations were located and managed to pick up 52 channels right off the antenna.

52 channels in OKC 9/22/2014

Another thing that surprised me was the number of channels that were in Spanish.  More than 20 of them were in Spanish.  With the last year of furloughs and other financial hardships, we have been considering dropping our satellite simply because it is more than $90.00 a month.  We don’t watch that much anyway and since we have Netflix, and a Roku, many things are already available online. I like to watch the “This Week in Tech (TWiT)” podcasts that is also free.

There are some negatives to the digital conversion and that is the loss of sporadic “E” DX propagation that we use to enjoy during the summer months. I really use to enjoy the occasional channel two signals that would come in from great distances, up to 1,500 miles away.  Those were some fun times. I only wish that we had digital cameras, both still and video back then so we could have captured those memories.  Also, we use to be able to receive many stations in Tulsa, 115 miles away and now we need a tropospheric ducting situation to receive any of them.  On occasion, we will have an inversion where the air is warmer above ground than it is on the ground and we can have some good tropospheric propagation.  Those are fun times when we get them.

Modern Methods of AM Radio DX

Setup used to capture distant stations on video and the uploaded to YouTube.

 

Back when I was a kid in the early 1980’s a friend and I would sit at night listening to night time DX stations on AM radio. We would document the times and dates, research the station and then mail them a letter requesting a QSL card. These were the days before I became a ham radio operator.  I have not done this for years until recently.  I’ve regained contact with my old friend and continued this practice.  We even created a Facebook Group for our activities.

Things have changed in recent years due to the Internet and the fact that most stations stream their audio online.  Today, it is easy to hear stations all over the world on the Internet so a letter telling them what was playing at a specific day and time is no longer sufficient proof that you received their signal.  You could easily listen to their streaming audio online and then just tell them you received their signal.  My friend came up with a way to prove it was indeed over the radio, and also keep a record of the event.

He started making videos with his tablet and then  uploading them to Youtube, creating a visual proof of the event.  Then he emails the station and attaches a link to the video.  He’s had such great success that I am doing the same.  In the picture above, you can see how I have put a camcorder in front of the radio to make the video that is later uploaded onto Youtube.  You can see my videos here.  I just have a couple for now but I plan to add more.

In this video, you can see where last night I was listening to KFAB, 1110 KHz from Omaha, Nebraska.  This is right off the AM radio with no special antennas installed.

It may seem strange to be a licensed amateur radio operator and be focusing on AM station instead of other amateur stations.  Well this is not in exclusion of other amateur stations, but rather another hobby. There are only so many AM stations and many of them are low power.  I received a 28 watt station that was more than 300 miles away on AM radio.  I thought that was pretty cool.  We have a 50,000 watt AM station here in Oklahoma City (KOKC 1520 KHz) that is very powerful.  Fortunately for me, the station has a directional night time pattern toward the North and West and South.  It nulls out the East and I just happen to live about 15 miles toward the East of the station. At night I can barely hear them at my house and so I have been hearing some weak signals coming in on that frequency.  My next goal is to get a contact with a station on that frequency while inside the Oklahoma City limits.  Since KOKC is weak at night at my house, I believe I can null out their signal enough to be able to get the other station.

This really is fun because you  can find many stations on the same frequency by nulling out the other station.  You can build external loop antennas to strenthen one station while nulling out another.  My friend and I started doing this in 1982 and believe it or not, he still has his original log and QSL cards from back then.  I’ve moved many times since then and so I lost my logs.  Now that I am back home in Oklahoma City, I have begun receiving these stations again.  If you are into distant stations, ham or CB operator, you should give it a try. It is really fun.

First Rain in 1.5 months

The first measurable rain on 1.5 months

 

Wow!  This is an incredible day to wake up to rain falling from the sky. It has been since July that we’ve had a measurable rain here in SE OKC.  There have been small showers that have been scattered on the West side of OKC since then but every one of them have missed my house.  The grass is so dead that it is crispy.  My front lawn is still green because I have been watering for hours a day, every day just to keep it presentable.  This is a huge blessing that I want to savor the moment.  Rain seems to be something we don’t see much these days. We’ve had drought after drought after drought broken by short periods or rain over the last seven years.

This is a very good day.  Yesterday it was 98 degrees and at this moment at 12:30 PM, it is only 63 degrees.  It has been months since we’ve had this cool of weather, even for an overnight low temperature.  I am very happy to see it for sure.

One Last Post for August

Tonight I spent some time listening to the AM radio and seeing what stations I could receive. It has been many years since I have done that and it was pretty cool.  The good thing about doing it in recent years is that most stations have web sites where you can hear the audio so you can verify what station you are hearing without having to wait until the top or bottom of the hour for the station identification. That gets a little old after a while if they only ID at the top and bottom of the hour.  Since I have all of my ham radio gear taken down, this gives me an opportunity to do some DX work using nothing more than an AM radio. It is still fun to this day.

I still heard the regulars like WLS, WWL, WOAI, KRLD, KFAB, WHO, WSM, KMOX but I heard a rare station called KATZ from St. Louis, Missouri and they are only broadcasting 3,500 watts. That is very unusual and made it worth it.  I also picked up KKOW from Pittsburgh, Kansas.

More TVFool.com

Home FM

 

A few days ago I posted about TVFool.com and their ability to put together a chart where it shows all of the TV stations and their proximity and distance from you based on your address.  I just discovered that it also does this for FM radio.  I just created this image on their site that shows the FM radio stations in the Oklahoma City area.  I live on the far East side of the city so I expected most of the stations to be in one general direction so I was surprised to see by this graphic that I have stations in all directions from me.

It shows the close ones in green while they turn pink, orange and so on as the stations get farther from me.  I love that you can do this and also love that it allows you to save the image for future reference.  You just input your address and how tall your receiving antenna is and it makes calculated measurements on the distance, signal strength and direction from my particular location.  This is very cool and I would recommend people giving it a try.

With satellite and cable bills getting out of control, antenna TV is looking better all the time.  With digital TV now in existence, most stations have sub-channels with more programming. Even here in Oklahoma City, we have more than 40 channels right off the antenna. There are just as many FM stations coming in from all around us. Now that the FCC has allowed all these low powered FM (LPFM) stations, the entire FM band is filled with stations. I have to really search to find an empty place on the FM dial where I live.   Oklahoma City metro area only has 1.3 million people so I am surprised to have this many stations.  When I was a kid, there were about 15 FM and about 8 AM stations and only 4 TV stations. You should go to this web site, enter your address and then save the image for your records.

I would imagine that every few months, you would need to create another one simply because these low power stations as well as the sub-channels on TV change so frequently. Every time I think I know all the stations, I come back after a couple of months and many have changed.  As a ham radio operator and someone that loves radio on virtually every form, I really think this is cool and worth taking advantage.

Baofeng UV-5RB Died

Wow!  I should not be surprised that my $40.00 ham radio handie talkie didn’t last long but I am a little irritated.  I noticed two days ago that my radio had no audio whatsoever.  Even the voice that speaks when you change modes or frequencies does not play.  I tried connecting headphones and still had no audio. I am not sure what has failed in the radio but it is very consistent and I’ve had no luck getting the sound back.

With paying one tenth of the price that I spent on my Kenwood handie talkie, many would say that I got what I paid for. They may ask “What did I expect for that price?”  Well, I expect more than a couple months of service. Let’s be honest though, while compared to the Kenwood it seems overly cheap in price,  you have to admit that the Kenwood is equally over priced.  They should have slapped an Apple logo on it for the price they were asking for the Kenwood.  Everyone knows that Apple way, way, way over charges for their products.  When it comes to ham radio gear, that is magnified on virtually every brand.  There is actually an HF rig made by Icom that cost $18,000. Seriously, the radio does nothing more than transmit and receive on HF frequencies, yet you could by a car for the price they are asking for it.

Even if I was wealthy, I could not in good conscience spend that much money on a radio. While I am not an activist, to me it seems like frivolous wasteful spending when you look at the problems in the world.   We have people starving, yet Icom actually thinks that an HF transceiver is worth $18,000.00.  It is embarassing to say the least.

Anyway, back on topic… The Baofeng radio has died an early, toddler death.  It didn’t even make it to kindergarten.   It is just one more thing to make this summer a little frustrated. Since we have been trying to sell the house, I took down all of my antennas so I cannot get on the air at all except on the handie talkie.  I sure hope that I can sell soon so we can go back to living a normal life again.

Lack of Rain Has Bigger Impact

Here we are ending August on an extreme drought AGAIN!.  We are once again not getting any rain for extended periods of time and so my lawn is really paying the price.  Ordinarily I would not care if the lawn is looking perfect but since we are trying to sell our home, the lawn needs to look extra special.  My front lawn is very large and is a significant curb appeal to the house.  I have been watering the lawn almost around the clock for weeks, just trying to keep the lawn looking presentable.  We are on a water well and have hard water so we use a water softener.  For some reason, our water sprinkler also goes through the water softener and since I am watering so much, the water softener can’t keep up.  I’ve been using 80 pounds of salt in our water softener a week.  Even at that high rate, it is not enough. About five days ago, I put 80 pounds in there and as we speak, it is almost completely empty.

My weight loss that I have been successful at last year was based on not only eating right but also drinking massive amounts of water.  I have been drinking about a gallon and a half of water a day.  This drought has caused me to have to water 24 hours a day, exhausting the water softener.  The result is that the water is undrinkable, at least to me.  As soon as I drink some water, I have dry mouth and a bad taste.  What results is that I have stopped drinking as much water.  I have been only drinking when we leave the house.  So now, not only has my eating right suffered, but I am not getting enough water either.

We really really really need some rain.  Tomorrow is the first of September and we’ve only had sprinkles since July with no relief in sight.  I am concerned that if the lawn does not look presentable that the house may not be able to sell.  We need God’s help in getting us some rain because the drought seems worse than ever right now.  To add to this, we are hotter right now than we were in June or July making the rain problem even worse.  It just seems that we are in a never ending drought.  We seem to go about a month of good rain, fooling us into believing that everything is good and then suddenly the rain stops for a month or so.  Then we are once again struggling.  The farmers cannot seem to be able to grow a crop of anything because of this drought.  I just hope that we can break this drought sometime soon.

Zune 80 GB mp3 Players Gets New Life

Zune 80 GB mp3 player 8/30/2014

 

I had given up on saving this mp3 player over the last month when I could no longer communicate with it via the computer.  I bought this mp3 player seven years ago in 2007 when I bought it at the Best Buy store in Midwest City, Oklahoma.  This mp3 player has a huge 80 gigabyte (GB) storage capacity. When I bought this, I had a choice between this one and an 80 GB iPod and I opted for the Zune because it had a radio included when the iPod did not.  About a month ago, I was struggling to add new songs to this device so I decided to wipe it and set it back to the factory settings with no data on it.

Once I did this, the first time I went to sync it with the Zune software, it immediately told me that it needed a firmware update so I followed the directions and it had an error. The error kept saying that the device did not have enough space on it to install the update. First of all, I just wiped it clean so there should have been no data at all.  Secondly, even before I wiped it, I still had 60 GB of space left.  I reset it at least a dozen times with no luck.

With the device stuck in this mode, I could not even power it off.  I was forced to just let the battery run down and give up on it.  I had already accepted that it was lost and even though it was sad to lose, I did get seven years out of it.  Today, I went to this site on the Microsoft page and followed the directions and it worked.  The difference this time was that this page told me to reboot and then immediately wipe before letting it reboot.  All the pages that I had gone to before told me to reboot and then let it finish before wiping the device.  It is hard to believe that it was that easy to fix.  I guess that I should have gone to the source and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Now I am sync’ing the data back to it as we speak. When you have more than 20 GB of data, it takes a while so I will just let it go over night and hopefully in the morning, it will be back in working order.  I am very happy.

TV Fool

TV Fool Map

 

As one that really enjoys following DX whether it be AM, FM, Shortwave or even TV, this new web site called TV Fool is really cool.  In the above image, I have input my address and this site shows a chart with all of the TV stations that are within my viewing area and the direction they are from me. This makes pointing an antenna easier saving time.  This site tells the actual and virtual channels of the stations as well as the signal, distance and azimuth settings. It even allows for me to input the height of the antenna that I am using.  This is one site you need to bookmark if you are into DX.

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