Future of Repeaters

On February 6, 2010 the K5GLH tower came down.  This is the tower that hosted the 443.3 MHz repeater (WIN System).  This was a move that had nothing to do with the Del City Amateur Radio club but rather to help facilitate the sale of my home.  As I have posted before, we are planning to buy a new home but we need to remove the tower because many potential buyers may see it as an eye sore.

Taking Tower Down

This was a sad moment for me but it was a necessary move to be able to sell our home for the most we can.  I took 87 pictures of this removal and have them on Flickr.

Taking Tower Down

In this picture you can see the top section coming down.

Taking Tower Down

As you can see in the photo above the last section is being removed.

Taking Tower Down

In this photo you can see the spot where the tower once was.  This is a very sad image to me although I know it was a necessary move.  I know many of you are wondering where this leaves the 443.3 MHz repeater.  Well the antenna that was on the top of this tower can be seen in the photo below.

Taking Tower Down

This antenna has been installed on a side mount on the same tower that the 145.25 MHz repeater is installed.  As soon as weather permits, this will be connected to the 443.3 repeater in the new location.  This being a side mount installation on the Southwest leg of the tower will likely result a null to the Northeast.

Taking Tower Down

In this photo you can see the UHF antenna being installed in its new configuration on the W5QO tower.  This will be the new home of the 443.3 MHz repeater.  At some point this antenna may be raised to the top on a candelabra type installation.  Keep an ear open for this repeater when the weather clears up.  This was a very busy weekend getting the tower taken down and the antenna being reinstalled at the new location.  I am hopeful that everything goes smooth on the new tower.  The IRLP will be a new challenge and may have to be moved as well to enable both nodes to work.  Each node requires its own unique external IP address to be able to operate.  This is because both nodes use the same ports and a router could not forward the same ports in two directions.  This is a small problem that will be resolved in the coming days.  The club officers were in agreement that we needed communication with the members as to the status of this move.  This post is being posted both on the club blog as well as my personal blog so that this information will be the most widely disseminated.


Paul, K5GLH

Delayed Dismantle


In our preparation to sell our home we have been trying to restore the house to a sellable condition including taking down my ham radio tower.  Today was supposed to be the day that it was taken down and sold.  Unfortunately the buyer could not come out today so it will have to wait until next weekend.  I have mixed feelings about selling the tower because as a ham radio operator I have always dreamed of having my own tower.  Unfortunately this is not compatible with a new home in the city.  Not to mention it is not attractive to many people.  The tower was installed August 3, 2003 and will likely come down next weekend.  To a ham radio operator, having a large tower is very attractive but not to the average person.  When we move, we will still have antennas in a low profile configuration.  I will likely still have a dipole antenna for high frequency (HF) operation.  I will also have a small vertical for VHF and UHF.  A large antenna of this sort requires a large area and some understanding neighbors.  I have no intention to give up my radio hobby but will just learn to do it in a more discreet way.  The antenna on the top belongs to our UHF repeater that will be taken down and re-installed on my dad’s tower with a side mount.  Currently the repeater is down because I had to pull the feed line loose so the tower can be disassembled.

I will still have remote control access to both of our repeaters.  It has been a lot of work trying to get the house back in shape to sell.  It did not help with the recent cold weather causing water lines to freeze.    I think the house will appraise at a higher value without the tower behind.  This is the reason we want to take it down sooner than later.  For those of you that depend on our 443.3 MHz UHF WIN System repeater, do not be concerned, because it will be back up soon.  It will be moved to the same location as the 145.25 MHz repeater.  If you have more questions not addressed here, let me know.

I Dislike Contesting!

CQ Contest CQ Contest, this is kilowat five golf lima hotel. CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest.  This is Mike three papa papa papa. CQ Contest CQ Contest. CQ Contest CQ Contest.  This is November seven Alpha X-Ray Lima. CQ Contest CQ Contest. CQ Contest CQ Contest this is whatever whatever whatever. You are 63.  Roger…  You are five and nine into Michigan.  CQ Contest CQ Contest. CQ Contest CQ Contest. This is Kilowat eight zanzabar romeo sierra.

If this sounds like a bunch of gibberish, you are not alone.  The hobby of ham radio seems to be plagued by these never ending contests that take the entire band with never ending CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest.  I too feel this is as appealing as fingers on a chalk board and eating glass at the same time.  Today I turned on the 20 meter band and it was nothing but CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest all the way across the band.  This usually prompts me to turn the radio off because it could scare off a sasquatch.  If you are one of those that likes to get on the radio and just talk, then good luck today because it is nothing but anarchy and chaos… CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest.

I will never understand what the appeal of this CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest is all about.  Maybe it is just me.


The End.

Towers Fixed

You may remember last week I posted about a storm that came through and caused some damage around my dad’s house along with mine.  This storm caused a lot of hail damage to my car, bent the repeater antenna on my tower and also on my dad’s tower.  I just did not have the time, nor the desire to climb the tower and try to fix the damage.  As I get older, I do not feel comfortable climbing the tower to work on antennas when I do not have a safety harness.  Well my dad is very resourceful and managed to find a tower climber and fixed both antennas yesterday.  It is nice having a dad that use to be in the radio industry for many years.  That is one crisis that is not a problem anymore.  Thankfully the repeaters were not affected in the first place.  both the two meter and the 70 cm repeaters still work fine and it was just the repeaters themselves that were affected.  Disaster is averted! 🙂

Poison Ivy Almost Gone

This morning I woke up to go to work and was still itching pretty bad though you could barely see it.  This evening when I came home from work I noticed something was different.  No itching at all!  After four and a half weeks it is finally on its way out and all I can say is thank God!  This has been a rough month with the never ending itching and even worse the allergic reaction to the medicine.

During this time I had two very big events my life and that was graduating OU and the other was seeing my family in New Mexico for the first time in 21 years.  The enjoyment of both of these events were a bit lost because of having the most severe poison ivy outbreak known to the human race.  For those of you that saw it, you know what I am talking about.  For the rest of you, I will spare you the pictures but I do have some. 🙂

While we were gone on our trip my oldest son Kevin was a hero.  He did not get to go with us on our vacation because he forgot to tell his boss about it until it was too late to let him off.  I was upset for a while but that was changed when some bad guys broke into our house while we were gone.  My son captured two of the three and the police caught the other one.  Everyone of them were over 18 years old so we are pressing charges.  He walked in on them inside the house.  Just yesterday he was at work and helped to capture a thief at his work.  I told him that being a police officer may be his calling.  The bad guys come right to him.  I am so proud of him and the way he handled the situation.

Now that I am feeling better this weekend I have to work tomorrow.  That is okay because it will be a short day.  I am working a straight eight hours from 6:30 am to 2:20 pm.  That should go fast and I will be able to squeak by with a decent weekend after all.  Our WIN System repeater was blocked this week because of a stray signal that was mistaken for intermod.  This happened once before in 2007 when a local ham was transmitting amateur television (ATV) on 439.25 MHz.  This local ham is very close to the repeater antenna and has a very high gain antenna.  I am not sure if that is what happened this time or not.  Another possibility is that another new ham was trying to get into the repeater with a handy talkie (HT) and was not getting into the system very well.  I am hoping that was the scenario because that is an easy one to fix.  We have since been unblocked but we are reluctant to connect back up until we confirm the source of the signal.

Just the other day I posted about the new Microsoft search engine Bing.com and how cool it was.  A story came out today that shows that in just three days, it has taken the number two search engine spot world wide over taking Yahoo.  I have mixed feelings about this because I have always loved Yahoo and still think they are very relevant.  At the same time I am really pulling for Bing to succeed.  I really do like the way it operates.  Well I have rambled long enough so I will get this posted.

Internet Radio

Internet Radio

This weekend I bought myself a new toy and boy do I love it.  This goes right along with things that I speak about all the time and that is the Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  This new toy is a Grace wireless Internet Radio that uses wifi, 802.11 b, or g to connect to my wireless network.   It works with a web site called Reciva that lists thousands of radio stations worldwide.  You can sign up for a free account and then customize this page to include your favorite stations, and podcasts.  You register your radio through this site and then you can jump to your favorite stations.  You do not need the web site to get to your web sites because  you can search through stations by location, type, call letters, or by search.  Above you can see that I was listening to the Leo Laporte, TWiT live stream.  This is pretty amazing as the quality is absolutely amazing.  The photo below shows that I was listening to KSFO in San Francisco.  Since I am in Oklahoma City, you can see this would be impossible without the Internet.

Internet Radio

I have tuned in BBC in England, as well as stations in many other places we have lived.  As most of you know, this radio is not necessary to listen to stations online as you can go to any of their home pages and just click on the link.  The benefit of the radio is that it makes it possible without using the computer at all.  This radio has some amazing sound for its size though it comes with a cable so you can connect it to your home stereo.  I am so satisfied with it though if you lose Internet, it takes a bit to come back online.  The antenna you see above the radio is nothing but a regulare wifi antenna that is adjustable so you can move it where it is not visible from the front.  This radio is very sturdy and feels like it weighs five pounds.

I have seen some streams that are as low as 16 kbps and as high as 128 kbps.  Even the lower ones sound pretty good.  I like the ability to add stations to Reciva’s web site.  I sometimes listen to the WIN System, a ham radio linking system originating from San Diego’s K6JSI.  I was able to go to the WIN System’s web site and copy the universal resource locator (URL) and then paste it into the Reciva’s page.  The URL is the web site address for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term.  This made it accessible from the radio’s menu.  Another thing that I love is that you can go to a web site that has podcasting available and copy the RSS feed and paste it into the Reciva site and make it readily available to my new radio.  I am very excited about how easy this thing works.  I can listen to an FM radio station on another continent on my home stereo.  How can you compete with that?  The down side is that I paid $179.00 for this little radio.

Most people would not be willing to pay that much for this but once they see it in action, they are convinced.  My son and I spent hours last night tuning in stations from distant lands.  I could go on for hours but I just wanted to share the new toy.  For those radio operators that enjoy things like this, it is worth the expense.  I recommend it for sure.

Wifi From a Distance

Wifi beam


Today, December 26, 2008 I was going to install this Wifi antenna on my ham radio antenna at 40 feet above ground.  I decided against installing this antenna today because the South wind is blowing at 30+ miles per hour (MPH).  I do not want to be up on an antenna while the wind is blowing so hard.  This antenna was purchased by my dad for his use but he has decided that he cannot use it because he is not around enough to get any use from it.  What I plan on using it for is to beam my Internet over to my dad’s house.  This way he could use my Internet possibly allowing him to cancel his own service.  Since he is not on that much these days, it is not worth it for him to subscribe to a full blown service.  Just in case you are asking yourself what “WIFI” is, I will just tell you that it is a standardized format for broadcasting your wireless Internet through a router or access point.  It is the 802.11 standard set forth by the IEEE.  There are different version that result in different speeds usually identified by their designation 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and finally 802.11n.

Of course this antenna can receive wireless Internet as well.  There has been much discussion about the legality of receiving someone else’s wireless Internet.  I tend to disagree with this being morally wrong.  After all their signals are going through me and my home so I see no problem with intercepting them.  This whole argument would not be an issue if people would just secure their Internet.  It is quite easy to set up a password protected wifi.  If the password is long enough, then it is virtually brute force resistant.  Since each access attempt can take 20 to 30 seconds, it would take literally years to try every possible scenario if the password is long enough.  I once listened to a Gibson Research Corporation (GRC) podcast where Steve Gibson suggests using his random password generator to create many very long 64 random character passwords.  He suggests saving at least 10 of these into a txt file and then burn them onto a compact disk (CD).  This way you can put the CD in each of the computers on your network to set up the password.  If someone comes to visit and you have to give them access to your network, you can always change your password to one of the alternates that is saved on your CD.

Since the network is a home based system, they are not likely to have anything on their system that is of enough significance for someone to be willing to spend the needed time to do a brute force attack.  The only people that are vulnerable to having their Internet intercepted are those that transmit their signal without being secured.  At my house, I can receive eight wireless Internet signals on my laptop without using any sort of antenna other than the one that is built in.  Of those eight, only one of them are unsecured.  In fact one of them labels their service set identifier (SSID) as “Please don’t hack me”.  I have mine listed as “McDonalds”.  I even found my wifi listed on wigle.net.  My dad has his labeled as “Mr. D.A” as a joke making reference to the local District Attorney that would be charging him for having pornography.  Let me clarify that he does not have porn.  It was just a joke.

Having this 36 inch dish up at 40 feet tall and with a rotor installed, it is likely that I could receive wireless networks as much as a mile away.  You may ask yourself why I would even be interested in this since I already have my own broadband Internet.  I guess this is just the ham radio operator in me.  Since I was very young I have had a fascination with receiving distance signals.  I remember at eight years old I use to play with the huge television antenna that my dad had installed on a rotor.  I received stations 100+ miles away.  At night I would turn on my AM radio and listen to the clear channel 50,000 watt radio stations from around the country.  I would also tune in distant radio stations such as BBC World Service on shortwave radio.  This has always been a strange hobby that I have had and continues today with the newest signals on the local computers broadcasting their signals.

Sunrise in OKC

Sunrise in OKC

It is hard to find anything more pleasing than a nice morning sunrise when you do not have to go to work.  The beauty of my situation this morning is that it is the end of the year and I have some use or lose vacation time that I have to burn so I took this beautiful Friday off.  Although it is a crisp 32 degrees at this early hour it still is a pretty morning.  This time last year we were sitting in the dark for a week.  You may remember the horrible ice storm that knocked out the electricity to more than 250,000 in Oklahoma City while more than a million state wide.  You can look at the photos I took here.  The weather forecast is showing another ice storm coming in next week though most believe it will not compare to the monster we had last year. Most people sleep in on their day off but not me.  I love mornings and I always have.  I went out to breakfast at the Waffle House at 5:30 this morning as she was going to work.  She could not take the day off because in her Wing they were having a General come to their office.  She had to be involved in the protocol activities so I had to do without my beautiful wife this morning.  As a second choice I thought I would spend my morning watching the sun rise over Oklahoma City.  I took this photo among others around 7:00 AM.

Below is another photo of downtown.  As you can see the Sandridge Energy and the Chase Bank both have crosses on the buildings representing the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us as we celebrate his birth on Christmas.  Now I sit here listening to 40 meters on ham radio while typing a blog post.  I wanted to get some pictures of the full moon but there were some clouds in the western sky.  I only have two more classes before I can graduate the University of Oklahoma.  I will start those on January 20, 2009 and I am very happy to have this journey almost complete.
Sunrise in OKC

This morning I found San Francisco 49’ers football star Jerry Rice and the Phoenix Suns star Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter.  That was pretty cool as well.  Now that we have the Oklahoma City Thunder I will have to temper my love for the Phoenix Suns.  As many of you know we use to live in Phoenix, Arizona while I was stationed at Luke AFB.  I also lived in Tucson, Arizona while stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB.  Those were some wonderful times of my life that I will never forget.  I lived in Phoenix during the great run of the Suns in 1993.  That is when I really became a fan of the NBA.

I had a very nice visit with my dad last night.  Many of you ham radio people may know him as W5QO, the trustee for the Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC).  It is hard to believe that experiment has lasted for six years.  It is hard to believe that in 2002 I was trying to kill time while my wife was spending time in the hospital visiting her mother has turned out to be a full blown ham radio club with an FCC license (W5DEL).  Though I had an amateur radio license since 1983 I was not very active because I could not afford the gear until my dad gave me a dual band mobile radio.  Now it is a whole different world where I have my own ham shack, President of the DCARC and a 70 foot tower in the back yard and all this since 2002.

This year just does not feel much like Christmas with my 16 year old son gone.  He ran away on 26 Sep 08.  He is safe and staying with friends.  I spoke to him briefly on Yahoo Instant Messenger the other day.  We have decided to let him go and put faith in God that he will overcome and have a successful future.  Many have told me to file charges against the people that he is staying with but I think that would just make things worse.  My goal is to retain a relationship with him for the future and hope that he remains well.  Thank you for those that have offered their prayers of support.  We have decided to keep faith in God and enjoy life.  My other son got his driver’s license a couple days ago and we added him to our insurance.  Once I came too and realized that we really could afford the extra $100 per month premiums I was fine. 🙂 I am happy for him as he just got a job at a local restaurant a couple weeks ago.  Despite everything I am very proud of both of my kids.  Once I graduate, I will have more time to do some hobbies that I have neglected for the last couple years.  I love taking pictures and talking on the radio.  Of course let’s not forget my big hobby of playing on the computer.  Thankfully today with amateur radio and photography joining with computers I can do all of them at the same time.

Again, it is a beautiful morning and I am off work too.  With no homework this weekend I am sure to have a nice weekend.  I only wish my wife could have taken off work.  That would have made it perfect.

IRLP Upgrade

This weekend the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) sent out an upgrade that would vastly improve the audio from node to node.  This update changed out two files, the imike, and ispeaker.  This allows nodes to connect to each other with uncompressed audio making an incredible audio quality.  This increase in audio quality also increased the bandwidth required to stream the audio by 100%.  Now the stream requires 80 Kbps to carry the audio virtually solidifying the requirement for broadband Internet.

To date, there are only five reflector channels that are capable of handling the uncompressed audio.  These are 9200, 9003, 9739, and 9755.  Nothing has changed on the reflectors except that the owners of these listed have set up those channels to select UNCOMP as the default codec.  It is likely that not all reflector owners will opt to use this uncompressed audio because of the incredible demand for bandwidth.  Since most of these reflectors are operating on donated bandwidth, they may be reluctant to double the bandwidth required if there are many users like the WIN System which typically has 50+ nodes connected 24 hours a day.

Any individual node that calls another node will be able to experience the improved quality of audio.  Both of our repeaters have been updated to the new audio though our 443.3 repeater may not be noticeable because it is connected to the WIN Sytem 24 hours and they have not upgraded their channel yet on the 9453.  I have been amazed at the improved quality as it is virtually perfect.

Another improvement that came with this, most users will not notice because it happens behind the scene.  Before, when a node would connect to a node for the first time, it would automatically download two .wav files. These were the announcement files that you hear when connecting or disconnecting from the other node.  After you visit many nodes, the node hard drive begins to fill up with many audio files making it difficult to do a backup.  Also since many of the nodes are using older computers, they sometimes have smaller hard drives.  With this upgrade, the nodes now stream these connect and disconnect announcements from the IRLP servers so nodes owners are no longer concerned with filling up a hard drive.

Dave Cameron, VE7LTD, the creater of IRLP put out a beta test version of this upgrade last Wednesday and more than 250 nodes participated with zero errors.  On Thursday night, he decided to push the upgrade out on the nightly updates.  On Friday morning, all nodes should have received this upgrade.  We are thrilled with the performance on both of our repeaters.  Since both of them are on broadband Internet connections, this higher bandwidth requirement was not an issue with us.

Thank you for those of you that use our nodes/repeaters.


WKY changing format?

What is up with WKY radio station?  If you are in or near Oklahoma City you may have noticed that AM 930 is broadcasting a countdown 24 hours a day. This computer voice is saying T minus 1 day 13 hours and 24 seconds.   Around every five or six announcements it says something different in one or two word announcements  My guess is that WKY is about to change to a new format at the end of the countdown.

In recent years WKY has been broadcasting Spanish speaking and music.  It seems the Mexican population is really making an impact on Oklahoma City as we now have multiple AM, FM, and television stations that are exclusively Spanish speaking.  I’ll just keep an eye out or an ear open to find out what WKY is up to.  If you find out any information, please let me know.

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