Thank you for the Prayers

To all of those that have sent prayers and comments to our family, I just want to say thank you.  We see each one of them as they come in, or possibly later but sometimes we don’t have time to respond directly to each one.  When I see them, I read them to my dad so that he hears what you say and he is amazed at how many people even care.  Due to the shear number and the activities going on at the hospital, we sometimes don’t have time to respond in real time though we try to respond later. Sometimes the comments are embedded into separate Facebook messages by myself, my sister or brother and we forget to respond.  Once you open a message, it no longer shows unread so we sometimes forget to respond at all.

My dad had a second “cath” last night. I am sure there is an official name for it but “cath” is what they keep calling it.  Anyway, the night before last, they did a sonogram and discovered two more blockages and decided to go back in and fix them.  This time, they saw they were not as blocked as originally thought and also that they were on smaller vessels that were not as immediately in danger so they decided not to put new stints in. Also they said the vessel was so small that a stint would be too large.  If nothing else comes up, he may be able to go home in a couple of days.  His house has been filled with family visitors anyway so I guess it is good that he is not there. 🙂

Again, thank you all for the kind words and prayers for my dad.  They are all so appreciated.

Paul

My Dad’s Hospital Emergency

Untitled

The last couple of days has really been tiresome and worrisome for our family. My dad called me the night before last complaining of chest pains.  I took him to the hospital and they almost immediately noticed a V-Tac (ventricular tachycardia) for 23 beats.  They admitted him and later found some “cardiac markers” or enzymes showing up on blood test.  They ran a second test and the numbers were even higher.  They decided to do a “cath” and see if he had any blockages. It was discovered that he had one artery that was 99% blocked and another that was 50% blocked. They were able to successfully install two stints to help alleviate the blockages and and as of now he is recovering.

At first both he and I thought it was just anxiety.  It has been a rough couple of days with very little sleep for him or any of the rest of the family.  Please keep my dad in your thoughts and prayers as he needs God’s healing.  He is a good man and I have already lost my mom.  He has been in very good health up until this event.  I just wanted to post an update to those that may be asking.  Thank you for those that have been praying and asking about him.

W5DEL Repeaters

We’ve long had a dream where we could have better coverage on our Amateur Radio repeaters.  With more than 100 users on our roster, we’ve often felt that we were unable to serve everyone with such limited coverage.  This month, we made some improvements that will hopefully make life easier for our users.  Last October, we got an incredible buy on some Rohn 55G tower on Craigslist. We managed to get 14 sections of it.  I only wanted five sections for my own ham radio tower to replace the one that I had to take down when we sold our house.  With 14 sections, I was able to get my five and have nine left over.  In this picture you can see all 14 of them.

New Tower 10/11/2015

With nine extra pieces, we were able to install them as the W5DEL repeaters new home.  There was a lot of work that had to be done over the months but as of this past week, the nine sections are now standing though we don’t have any antennas on it yet.  We are going to get new antennas and new hard line coax so that it is a fully new antenna system once complete. When this is done, both repeaters should have a significant improvement in signal.

90 feet assembled

In this picture you can see the entire tower fully assembled on the ground with W5QO standing beside it.  It took weeks in our limited time to get this assembled on these blocks.  We had to move some transmission lines, cable lines, guy wire anchors, etc so that we could lift the tower without hanging it up in anything.

Going up

This picture shows the crane raising the tower.  I have to admit that it was pretty scary at this point.  While the crane was lifting, W5QO and I had to drag the bottom North so that we could get it passed the power lines without being in the way.  This crane operator was clearly a professional as he was able to make the most minor adjustment during the lifting process without having it jerked around while trying to install the mounting bolts.

Steady for guy wire connection

Here is another view of the crane holding the tower upright while we attached the guy wires.  I can’t say enough about the professionalism of this crane operator.

Disconnecting the crane

This was a true test as to how out of shape I have become. I have climbed countless towers over the years and in this picture, I had to climb 65 feet to disconnect the crane but I felt like I had been beat up in a fight when I was done. I am so glad that I had a safety harness so that I could stop and rest my arms.

The tower crew

This picture shows our tower crew, from left to right, myself (K5GLH), My dad (W5QO) and my cousin Larry (KD5MAF). This was a tough job and we had a sense of satisfaction while completely wore out.  I know it sounds strange to say we were tired after a crane did all the lifting but there was much more to the job than that.  We had to strategically run the guy wires through many utility lines while maintaining safety.  The tower could not be lifted straight up because of the same thing.  It took some manual moving back and forth to get it up without hitting any obstacles in the limited space. My dad and I have installed several towers over the years and this was the first time we have ever used a crane.  In the past we used a gin pole but in this job, the tower was just too heavy as a 55G and we knew that a crane would make more sense over lifting section by section.

The day after 6/4/2016

Finally, this was taken the next day from the bottom looking up once the clouds cleared.  We are very proud of this project as it was only a dream not too long ago.  Even after we got the sections, I was still not that confident that we’d ever get it up because it is just an expensive project. There is much more involved than just getting some sections of tower.

The day after 6/4/2016

In this picture, you can see the guy wires were still drooping a bit. We waited until the next day to snug them up and cut them do size.  We had about 10 feet extra per side that we left to give us room to play.  The guy wires have high quality turn buckles and clamps that are much larger than what was required by the Rohn specification.  It will take a tornado to take this down.  The foundation, support structure were all exceeded by the Rohn spec.  The Del City Amateur Radio Society  (DCARS) has always been non profit, never collected dues from any of its members so we are very proud of what we have done with our own funds. Our trustee, W5QO has put thousands of dollars into this club over the years.  He has put countless hours into building repeaters, fixing old ones and keeping everything running. The two IRLP nodes require separate external IP addresses so he has maintained a super fast Internet service with multiple external IP addresses for many years.  We owe a lot to his contributions.  While I have put together a few computer projects, it is W5QO that has been the real driver to keeping this club going over the years.

I am very proud of my dad and all that he has done for this project and the club in general.  Larry, was also a huge help in the project and also took most of these pictures.  The install went pretty fast and we didn’t have a lot of time to stop and take pictures but Larry managed to get some good shots during the project.  While the project is not yet complete, such as antenna installations, we just wanted to share the progress so far. We hope that soon, all of the users will enjoy better coverage of the repeaters around the Oklahoma City metro area and beyond.

Getting Back into Ham Radio

We’ve been off the air for the last couple of years, at least off the air on HF.  First we were trying to sell our house so we took the antennas down because we wanted the house to look as good as possible for any potential buyers.  Well we had the antennas down for two years. When we moved to the new house, we realized that we had lost many pieces to our GAP Titan DX vertical antenna.

Untitled

It was pretty sad considering the amount of money that we paid for that antenna.  In the picture above,  you can see the new antenna that I bought to get back on the air.  This is the Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus multi-band fan dipole.

Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus

In this picture you can see how it is installed on the 20 foot push up pole behind the house.  On top of the pole there is a dual band Arrow J-Pole antenna for both two meters and 70 cm.  Under the dipole is a TV antenna.  Of course this is only a temporary setup as I am going to install a 55G tower over the next year.  I just had the base installed a couple weeks ago.  I was so disappointed when the company tore up our lawn installing the concrete base as you can see in the picture below.

Tower base installed

Below is a picture of the concrete pour that is not complete.

Tower base going in

In the picture below, you can see the concrete had been poured but not cured and still framed.

Tower base installed

The company that we hired to install this used a Bobcat to carry the concrete back to the hole rather than pumping it like we wanted them to.

Installing tower base

The picture below shows the level of lawn destruction that was done in this process.

Lawn Damage

In an attempt to be a good neighbor, I am not going to do any more work on this project for a few more months while we try to rehabilitate this lawn.  My wife was understandably upset when this lawn damage was done.  I was also upset but there was nothing that could be done after they started.  Keep in mind, this project was scheduled weeks in advance before we had any rain so we had been in a drought. Then in the course of a week, we got just under four inches of rain.  This rain ended the day before these guys showed up.  They called and said they were coming a day early so they could install the re bar and frame the hole as seen in the picture below.

Installing tower base

I had to take off work so that I could be home for this.  After they had been here a couple hours, I went out to check on the status and the person told me that the concrete truck was 20 minutes from arrival. I was not expecting them to pour concrete until the next day.  I don’t think this one day delay would have made that much difference with regard to the damage to the lawn.  Again, I am going to let this rest for a while and let the grass recuperate.

We are also trying to keep the neighbors in mind on this project and not install guy wires.  That is why the concrete is such a large base.  We followed the tower specifications for self supporting configuration to 50 feet. I want to give myself time to purchase all of the pieces and get a building permit so that we are legal and playing by the rules.  Also it is surrounded by large trees to minimize the appearance.  Our poor lawn has really had a rough time recovering because last August we had a tornado shelter installed where they dug a hole with large machinery and then we went into a drought.  The lawn was almost back to normal when this was installed.  My wife and I are going to rototiller these ruts, smooth them out, reseed, fertilize and water, water, water.  We’ve already hired a company to come and treat our lawn six times per year.  We’ve been off the air so long and we’ve been wanting to do it right so that I don’t have to climb the tower to work on antennas as I get older.  As I said, this project will be completed over months and maybe even more than a year because once again, I want to do it right without going into debt. I want to buy all of the parts before I start installing it.  Check back over time and see the progress.

Happy New Year 2016

Can you believe it is already 2016?  This year went pretty quick and was also a great year for us.  It was nice to have a year where most things went well and everyone had great health.  I am very thankful for the year we had in 2015 and look forward to an even better year in 2016.  God has been so good to us and has blessed us in so many ways.  I pray that all of our family and friends will have great health and prosperity in 2016.  Even more importantly they will come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.  After all, you can earn money until your dying day but when the day comes to spend eternity, none of it will even matter.

I am thankful to God for allowing me to come to Jesus in 1986, 30 years ago when I had no direction in life.  I’ve made more than my fair share of bad decisions and thankfully God is good enough to forgive them.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 KJV

I may not have everything this world has to offer but I have even better with the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for my personal sins.  I can’t think of anything better than that.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 KJV

You too can have that assurance by believing in the gospel that is that Jesus’ death on the cross saved all of us that have faith and believe.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10 KJV

Streaming Audio Setup

Network_12_29_15

As many of you know, we also have an Amateur (ham) Radio club with two repeaters.  One of them on 146.7 MHz has live streaming audio over the Internet.   This picture shows how it is set up.  On the left we are running a Raspberry Pi  computer running Raspian Linux.  The Radio Shack Pro-2051 scanner feeds the received audio from 146.7 MHz into the Raspberry Pi.  The computer is connected into this Apple Airport Extreme Router.  The Raspberry Pi is controlled remotely through secure shell (SSH).  Since we also have an IRLP (7734) and Echolink (164664) node connected to this router out of view, and it also uses SSH, I had to set this Raspberry Pi to use non standard ports so the router would be able to port forward the packets to the correct device.

The raspberry Pi is configured to send the packets to the Broadcastify.com server to be streamed out to the world.  This really works well because all we have to do is feed one stream and their servers give it enough bandwidth to serve many simultaneous streams.  The two devices to the right are not really relevant except that the white box supplies Internet to the router. The black device supplies phone service to the site.  Using Raspberry Pi reduces the power consumption to a fraction of what a desktop computer would use.  Unfortunately with these ice storms, there is nothing that can save us from Internet outages for those.  I just thought I would show a little bit of how we do this.

National Weather Festival 2015

Anyone that spends any time around me knows that I love weather.  I just can’t get enough rain, storms, snow, ice, etc.  I love enjoying whatever it happens to be as it comes through. On Halloween, 2015 the National Weather Center in Norman had its annual open house, or as they like to call it National Weather Festival.

Untitled

As a graduate of the University  of Oklahoma, I will refrain from giving my thoughts on the guy’s name on the bottom of this sign but I will say that we had a good time while here.

Untitled

This is the building where your severe weather alerts come from. There are many good people that work here and I follow most of them on Twitter.  Take not of the HF ham radio beam on the top.  That is an added bonus.

Untitled

Look at that!  The Del City Fire Department showed up to display their new fire engine. They were very nice people and took time to explain how each of the systems work.

Untitled

In this picture you can see one of the Oklahoma Mesonet stations that is fully operational, though it does not report its measurements on their web site like they do on the other sites.

Untitled

Here is one of their trucks.  I’ve been to many of these events and really enjoy them every time.  There are many of the local weather personalities from Oklahoma City and Tulsa that were there to meet the people. Also there were people putting on displays for the public inside the building.  I did notice this time they did not allow people to walk through the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) like they did in years past.  I can only assume that people were causing disturbances so they didn’t leave it open this time.

This truly was a treat as it always is.  They released several weather balloons throughout the day while people watched as they always do.  I always look forward to this event.  If you are a weather enthusiast like I am,  you may enjoy a weekly podcast called Weather Brains hosted by meteorologist James Spann from Birmingham, Alabama and our own Rick Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Norman.  They do this at the end of October every year. If you are ever going to be in the area, please stop by. I really think you will enjoy it.

Ice Storm – November 28, 2015

IMG_3110

About a two weeks ago, more specifically, the day after Thanksgiving, we had an ice storm that was pretty bad but not as bad as the one we had back in 2007.  I took the opportunity to drive around Del City, Oklahoma to take some pictures.

IMG_3107

In the picture below, you can see a picture of what it looked like on Teal Drive, near Elm Drive

IMG_3106

The reason that I took this picture was to show a comparison of how it looked in December 2007 as shown below…

IMG_6300

This picture was taken December 11, 2007 of virtually the same angle as the one above it.  I heard this storm we had two weeks ago was a lot worse if you went into Western Oklahoma as it was here in the Oklahoma City area but I still don’t think it was as bad. In 2007 there were 250,000+ people without power in the Oklahoma City area with over a million without power statewide.

This time there were about 75,000 in the Oklahoma City area without power and around 100,000 statewide without power.  There is virtually no comparison.  This one did make for some pretty pictures but no where near the destruction as 2007.

IMG_3111

I love taking pictures of things like this.

IMG_3108

I love ice storms as I do thunderstorms or even just plain old rain.  I don’t like to see people injured or lose property but I am fascinated with severe weather.

Christmas Time 2015 in Oklahoma City

Downtown Oklahoma City 12/12/2015 Red

Last night, December 12, 2015 I went out specifically to take some pictures of downtown Oklahoma City during Christmas time.  I like to savor the fact that still in 2015, my hometown proudly displays the cross of Christ on two of its buildings.   These two buildings are the Sandridge Energy on the left and the Chase Bank building in the middle. You can also see the Oklahoma Tower has the candy cane red and white on the top.  The Devon Energy building on the right displays an alternating red and green. The first picture shows the red.

Downtown Oklahoma City 12/12/2015 Green

In the second picture,  you can see the green lights on the Devon Energy.  If you look real close to the right of the Devon, you will see two cranes.  This is the beginning of the 499 Sheridan building that has just begun construction. It is on the old Stage Center site before it was taken down.  Just to the South of it will be the new OG&E tower.  It has not yet begun construction as of the time this picture was taken.

Storm Cellar Installed

Storm cellar installation 8/5/2015
This past week we had a storm shelter installed in the backyard so we are ready for storm season.  In keeping with a normal summer, just about the time we get a storm shelter installed, we go back into our drought.

Back in May we had 19 inches of rain and now the ground is so dry that we have cracks in the dirt.  This is one of those shelters that is partially raised but has dirt piled around it.  It is our plan to sod the dirt so that grass grows back quickly.  As you can see, the heavy machinery ruined the rest of the grass in the yard.  It also left deep grooves in the front and back yards.  I am hopeful that the ground springs back after some watering. I’ve filled the grooves with dirt so that hopefully it will smooth out soon. I am very happy to get this shelter installed as it was the last projects that I wanted to get done after our move. I just wanted share the picture so family and friends can see it.