paulmccord.net

PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

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

Doing Some Cleanup

Over the coming weeks, I am removing posts that I think either infringes on someone’s privacy or comes across too political. Just going by my own frustration, I am getting really tired of reading politics on social networks.  The last thing I want to do is read it on my own blog.  There are enough sites out there that are dedicated toward politics and even some that are not but somehow spend a disproportionate amount of time talking politics.

I am cleaning up other posts that mention people in my family or others that I know that did not ask to be mentioned.  I am also removing older things that were posted more than five years ago. I am not deleting them but just removing them from this blog.  After all, this blog is sort of a history of what was going on in my life at a certain time. While I’ve had a web presence online since 1996, I created this blog in 2006.  I have about 1,300 posts as of this day and I expect it will be reduced down to about 500.

I’ve found that often times, I get angry reading the stuff that is shoved in my face on social networks. Almost all of them have trending topics that you cannot remove or hide.  I really don’t want to hear about how our culture is crumbling to pieces by those that are all too happy about it. These stories are designed to rile half of the audience, similar to those stories that you see on TV.  Journalism seems to have morphed into a situation where keeping the audience stirred up is the primary objective. If your audience is not emotionally charged, then you are failing.  I don’t believe that but apparently most journalists believe that.

Having your own blog gives you control over what you want to talk about and allows you to be in charge of the message. I have very strong beliefs that are non negotiable. I am not going to play the journalist game where I get some journalist that is completely opposed to my view point being in charge, while shoving these stories in my face.  At that point, all the reader can do is respond to them and most likely all of those that agree with them will spend the day bashing on the reader.  Google+ is a perfect place to argue, if that is what you are into.  Simply post an opinion, any opinion, and you will find yourself in an argument within moments.  If you avoid any opinions, political or social views on Google+, you can enjoy without too much heartache. Just keep in mind that people in the tech community are pretty much in lock step in their views and they are pretty much opposite of mine.  If you follow those in the tech community expecting to read tech, you will be surprised. They are very political.

Anyway… Over time, I would like to clean up some posts and remove the irrelevant stuff.  While my audience is about two or possibly three people, I am sure they don’t want to read political rants anymore than I do. :)

Great Trip to Colorado

IMG_2604This past week, my wife and I took a trip to Denver, Colorado.  We both had histories in this city before we met 26 years ago.  We both wanted to go back to visit and really had a great time.  Since my history involved the U.S. Air Force, I thought I would take the opportunity to drive down the road, I-25, to Colorado Springs to see the Air Force Academy.  In the picture above, you can see the famous cadet chapel located on the North side of the campus.

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In this picture you can see the Downtown Aquarium in Denver.  This was a very interesting place to visit that I had never heard of before this visit.  My wife and I stayed here for several hours because it was a pretty unique experience.  I guess if you are from a coastal area where this is a common scene, it may not be so interesting but since we are from Oklahoma City, it is very unique.
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Though we never got an opportunity to see the Denver Broncos play, we did get a few pictures of the Sports Authority Field at Mile High.  This past weekend the Broncos were playing the New York Jets at their facility.
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Of course, what would a visit to Denver be without a trip to Casa Bonita restaurant?  If you have never been here, it is worth the visit.  The food is marginal at best but the entertainment value is really enjoyable, particularly if you have kids.  I really think this should be a stop on anyone’s visit to Denver.
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We have some friends that use to live here in Oklahoma City that moved to Arvada, Colorado to open a couple franchises of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and we had to stop by and see them. As always they were incredibly cordial and went above and beyond on their giving us a warm welcome.  Unlike Casa Bonita above, this place has some really awesome food and an atmosphere that is very modern and young.  If you want to visit a place that is very popular with twenty somethings, this is the place to go. I am 48 years old and enjoyed it as well.  Be prepared that on weekend nights, you will have quite the line.

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I did get a chance to go see my old Air Force Technical School dorm room at the defunct Lowry Air Force Base. The building is now an assisted living center.  My dorm room was that window, second from the left on the third floor.  This was the place that I learned how to load bombs on aircraft and repair and overhaul bomb racks and missile launchers.  This was the place that I went after Basic Training.

We really enjoyed our stay in Denver and hated for it to end. We’ll have to schedule another visit in the future.

The Drought Continues

Western Sky.

 

I am just amazed at how long this drought is going on. We’ve been in a pretty steady drought since 2008.  Yes, we’ve had the odd storm now and then but it is usually followed by two or three months of no rain at all.  We’ve been below normal in all but one year since 2010 and that was a fluke. That one year, Oklahoma City managed to get some good storms but once you got away from the city, they got nothing.  That is the way this year has been.  When you watch the radar, it looks like rain will be coming to the city and just fizzle out before it gets here.  This picture shows the sunset we had on October first.  It looked like we might get rain but this is the best we got.

I’ve read that our droughts are usually around seven years long if you look historically since records have been kept.  Oklahoma City seems to be just close enough to the 100th meridian where the 20 inches of rain threshold is located that droughts are pretty common around here.  The most famous one was the dust bowl days.  We’ve had many droughts worse than that one but we’ve learned to farm better than we could back then.  If history holds true, we should be close to the end of this drought.  I am hopeful that it is true because we are on a water well and I am worried that eventually our water supply will be affected.  It is October  5th and I am still running he sprinkler to keep the lawn in show condition.  We are trying to sell our house and so we need the lawn to be in show order.  While I don’t think the lawn should be a factor on selling a house but I do think that it adds to the attractiveness as you come up the road.  I really would like to turn off the sprinklers.

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.  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.

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