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PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

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

ARRL Listen Up!

There is a battle that goes quietly with no fanfare and is being ignored among leaders in our country.  This battle is the existence of Home Owners Associations (HOA) and covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R). The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) needs to listen up because this affects all ham radio operators.  If you are a ham radio operator, there are no other words in the English language that bring more fear.  These institutions are rapidly taking away the freedoms of ordinary Americans faster than Congress.  Those that live in older neighborhoods may not even know about these organizations and rules that are robbing Americans of the right to do as they wish with their own property.

These CC&R’s are rules that a property owner submits to the local county clerk that apply to that property that must be adhered to by any person that may purchase the land in the future.  The CC&R’s usually authorize and even mandated the formation of a Home Owners Association.  An HOA is an organization where the citizens of the neighborhood run for offices and form a board.  This HOA contains many committees such as an architectural control committee that oversee any improvements you may wish to do with your (cough cough) property.  They have veto power and have the authority to object to you improving your own (cough cough) property.  These CC&R’s were originally intended to protect the investment of developers until they can sell all the properties in a neighborhood.  As long as the developer owns one property in the neighborhood, they contain unilateral power to create, change and enforce any rules they see fit.  They even have the power to change the rules after you move in. Once the developer sells all the properties in the neighborhood they usually turn the HOA over to the citizens.

These rules were originally benign and were just intended to keep the property in good condition.  The intentions were positive and were not to be feared but welcomed.  Unfortunately the scary secret is that these rules NEVER expire!  You heard me right…If you buy a piece of property, that has these CC&R’s attached to them, they are in force for thousands of years.  The home that you just spend hundreds of thousands of dollars really does not belong to you after all.  Not only does the city, county, state, and federal laws apply to your (cough cough) property but so do these CC&R’s.  These CC&R’s are even more enforceable than the local laws because if you are ever involved in legal action, the judge will say that you agreed to these rules when you bought the property.

There are no limits to what these rules can entail.  If your neighbors suddenly have an ‘axe to grind’ so to speak, they can band together and change the rules on whatever you are doing making it illegal.  If enough of them agree to accepting a rule, then you are bound to them.  Your only saving grace is if your local laws allow you to fall under a ‘grandfather clause’.  These HOA’s have authority to impose liens  against your property that you are responsible for.  These liens can be foreclosed upon resulting you you losing your (cough cough) home.  If you do not comply with these rules, you can have fines placed upon your (cough cough) property that you must pay or lose the home.  These rules usually tell you what can be done to your (cough cough) property such as the color of the paint, types of fences, antennas, grass, landscaping.  They even tell you that you are not allowed to park a boat, or any other vehicle in the driveway.

The intention is supposed to help maintain the property values of all the properties in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately this property value is not a Constitutional right.  Personal freedoms are.  When a person purchases these properties, they are giving up their freedoms that are NEVER returned.  In some cases this is done voluntarily and in some cases it is done without their knowledge.  For example…  My wife and I recently picked out a neighborhood in Southwest Oklahoma City where the developer would build our new home.  During all the paper shuffling we were given a piece of paper that was titled “The Top 10”.  This listed ten items that were the biggest violations by home owners in that neighborhood.  It asked us to sign and agree that we would not do these ten offenses.  These offenses ranged from parking a car in the street to not keeping up the lawn.  The one thing that was missing from all these papers were the full list of CC&R’s.  I eventually found and printed them from a web site.  It took 40 pages to print and I was shocked to find what I was agreeing to.  I read these 40 pages about ten times and with each re-read I would find another rule that was unacceptable to me.  Chief among them was a statement that gives the developer unilateral authority to change the rules at any time for any reason.  In other words, if the rules were acceptable to the buyer when they moved in, they could be changed afterward.

The point in this last paragraph is that I was never shown the 40 pages and if I had not been so suspicious by nature, I would have never known of their existence until after I moved in.  I wrote a three page letter to the developer requesting to back out of the purchase and thankfully they were generous enough to return our earnest money.  They could have refused to return it because I was not disapproved for the purchase.  Even if they had not returned the earnest money, I would have gladly forfeited it simply because my freedom is more important than the couple thousand dollars in earnest money.

Where I have a serious problem with the existence of these CC&R’s and Home Owners Associations is that virtually EVERY new neighborhood being built today has them.  If you buy a new home in any city in America you are going to have them whether you realize it or not.  Advocates of HOA’s will argue that a person makes that choice to move into one of these covenant restricted neighborhoods and so they can choose to move somewhere else if they are not acceptable.  As I said before, these covenants are binding FOREVER!  Eventually these new homes are not new anymore but the CC&R’s are still there.  Currently the only choice you have to avoid them is to move to the country or buy an older home.  Eventually there will be no more homes available that do not have HOA’s.  There is only so much country available within driving distance to work.  My point in all this is that we are losing that choice that HOA advocates say that we have.  Ham radio operators are enemies to HOA’s.  Most HOA’s will not allow antennas of any kind to be installed where they can be seen from the street.  In some cases, they go so far as to forbid antenna installations even if they cannot be seen.

The developers have lobbyists in Congress that go to bat for them and allow these rules to persist.  They argue that if they do not have the rules in place that a developer may not be able to sell their properties if someone in the neighborhood paints their house purple.  My answer to that is “TOO BAD”.  There is no Constitutional right to have property values. There is no Constitutional right to impose unreasonable restrictions on your neighbors just so you can keep a certain level of property values.  I have heard people argue that if you do not like the rules then move.  I say that in addition to the personal freedoms trumping property values, they need to move if they do not like my car up on blocks in the driveway.  Somehow in all this debating, people seem to get mixed up and accept the premise that property values are a right.  That premise is wrong on all levels.  Property values are not a right and are a normal risk that anyone takes when they purchase property.  Personal freedom is a right that must be protected.

These CC&R’s and HOA’s are bad in their very existence simply because of what they stand for.  They will argue that they are there to protect a person’s investment but by doing this, they are removing the rights of their neighbors.  I would submit to you that freedom and rights to be free are FAR MORE IMPORTANT than some fictitious property values.  What these HOA advocates will not admit is that they make these restrictions so that they can keep out those that they see as being unworthy.  This usually is defined by a person’s socioeconomic status.  They do not want someone that may be working on their car in the driveway.  It does not matter that the person cannot afford a better car or to hire someone to fix the car.  They are passing judgment on those people and saying “I don’t want them in my neighborhood.”

The ARRL claims to be the largest lobby in Congress to advocate for the rights of amateur radio operators.  The problem is that every time the ARRL comes knocking on the door for donations, they always tout what they are doing to protect us from such as broadband over power lines (BPL) while ignoring the biggest threat of all.  HOA’s are the biggest threat to ham radio that exists today.  It is not the FCC’s testing rules, or the cost of radio gear.  It is the rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens being taken and preventing them from being able to operate their radios because an over zealous HOA has their thumb upon them.  If the ARRL wants to save ham radio, they need to make this argument to Congress and make CC&R’s illegal.  We know this will never happen but it is the only way ham radio will stand a chance at long term survival.

For those of us that are lucky enough to find a piece of property that does not contain these power grabbing rules, then savor them.  Our children will not be so fortunate because there are only so many farms available.  We managed to find an older neighborhood that was destroyed by a tornado.  All the homes are brand new but the neighborhood rules were in place since the 1970’s.  This is how we managed to get around the rules.  Unfortunately, this is not available to everyone and as time goes by there will be fewer and fewer homes available without these oppressive rules.  I say to the ARRL, that if you want a worthy fight, then go fight this one and you will have amateur radio operators joining you in droves.  They will gladly pay the dues for membership.  I know I would.

Shortwave Radio

My Shortwave Ragio

We have been living in limbo for the last year and a half while we worked on our house and then sold it.  We will not be moving into a new house until the end of 2011.  For this reason all of my ham radio equipment is still in storage.  As a ham radio for 28 years, I have been missing be able to get on the air.  I bought the Grundig Satellit 750 shortwave radio for just this sort of thing.   I cannot talk on the air but I can listen to stations from all over the world with this radio.  It is a very nice radio that has AM or medium wave, FM broadcast, Airplane band, and shortwave, 1.7 MHz to 30 MHz..

I have been very pleased with the performance of this radio.  It has single side band (SSB) capability, narrow and wide band features to prevent interference from interference on adjacent frequencies.  One of the interesting and useful features is the ability to turn the AM ferrite antenna on the top to achieve the best signal.  This saves the user from having to turn the radio to get the best signal the way a person would have to on a normal AM radio.  The sensitivity on this radio is better than average.  While we are living in an apartment we do not expect too much as far as performance because there is no room for antennas and the building is surrounded by metal.  This has not been as much an issue as we thought because this radio has such a great sensitivity.  The radio allows the user to scan with small and large steps for fine tuning.  As most people know, a shortwave radio can be slow to tune on a fine tuning mode.  This radio has fine tuning and it also has a fast scan where it scans five KHz steps.

I know this is a very nice radio that is worth every bit of the money that it costs.  You can still find it on Amazon.com for $249.99 for free shipping.  If you are in to shortwave listening, I would certainly recommend this radio.  If you live in an apartment complex or a place where you are not allowed antennas, this radio will fulfill your needs.

 

My Dream in Information Technology

It is no secret that I have been fascinated with computers, networking, programming, among other things associated with the information technology (IT) world since the 1980’s.  I had planned to follow the IT field since I was a teenager and spend hundreds if not thousands of hours studying the new technologies over time.  In fact in my 20’s and 30’s I neglected my family so that I could learn the ins and outs of the technology world because at the time I truly believed that was going to be my career choice.  There were times when people would call me to fix or build their computers.  People asked me to help put up a web site among other things.  Around 2000, I gave up on that dream when I was hired by the government.  I was hired in 1999 and took a job with the idea that I would get my foot in the door and then try to cross train into an IT job.  It did not take me too long to realize that most of the IT jobs were contractor jobs and that for me to get one of the jobs I would have to quit my government job and rehire with one of the contractors.

Obviously this was out of the question since the government allowed me to count my military time toward retirement.  I could not see discarding a great job with benefits, security and a retirement just to have my dream in the computer technology world.  So around 2000 I accepted the fact that I was not going to be in the IT field and was a little bummed about it.  On rare occasions I will see a job available that is a government position that shows up but I do not have the proper credentials to qualify.  I still love computers and follow many technology podcasts and articles.  I have stopped studying the way I use to.  If I could get a job with the government in the IT field, I would be the most energetic, enthusiastic employee they have ever seen.  I know this is not possible since the jobs are all contractor jobs.  Over the years since 2002 I have kept my foot partially in the door of this interesting career field by hosting two Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) nodes where ham radio is married to computers running on Linux.  This small experiment has kept my interest as though I could play a small role in the IT field.  It was not much but it was something.

This morning I, or maybe I should say the Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC) to which I am the president, received an email asking if we were interested in joining a technological experiment in the Oklahoma City area that I cannot discuss the details.  I researched this group and verified their credentials to see if it were real or just another spam message.  It is amazing how receiving this email has really sparked my enthusiasm and interest.  I know it is nothing big and nothing that would earn a living but it has awakened my “make believe IT professional” that is buried deep inside me.  This experiment may be nothing but I am very interested and will follow it through as far as they will allow me to.  I will reveal what it is about as soon as I am allowed to.  I will say that having the Del City Amateur Radio Club associated with it will be very exciting.  Our resources are low but the enthusiasm is high.  We have managed to keep these two IRLP nodes on the air for eight years with no outside help other than that of our leadership.  I am very excited and hope this project comes to reality.  I will definitely do my part to make sure that it does happen on our end.

Update August 7, 2010

I just wanted to take this time to give an update on what we have been up to over the last week or so.  We have finally settled into our new apartment and put everything away. I still find myself turning down streets toward the other house and have to catch myself.  It is hard to get out of the habit.  We have updated our address with our mail, utilities and our ham radio licenses.  The Del City Amateur Radio Club license would not update over the Internet so we had to print an FCC Form 605 and mail it in.  That one has not updated yet.  On the W5DEL, we changed it to my dad’s address since he is the Trustee.

On another front, our new apartment is just about two miles straight off the North end of Tinker AFB runway.  The image below shows a Google Earth depiction of where we are in relation to the runway.  As you can see, the airplanes fly over the apartment about 500 feet above the ground and are very very loud.  I am not complaining because I actually think it is pretty cool.  I am sure it would bother some people but I enjoy watching them fly over.

Flight Path

As you can see in the picture below, there is a B1-B flying directly over our apartment.  You may notice that it is flying with no paint.  This is because it is going through depot maintenance at Tinker AFB and is doing a functional check flight (FCF).  If I had any brains, this would worry me since this plane is flying directly over my home after being torn down to a point that you can see through it.  Forgive the quality of the picture because it was taken with my 3.2 megapixel Blackberry phone.

B-1B Flying over apartment

When we were looking for an apartment, we were looking cheap so that we could save even more money toward our house.  We settled on an apartment complex on the North Side of Joe B. Barnes Regional Park on Reno Avenue in Midwest City.  There are two apartment complexes over there but we are in the one on the West end toward the post office.

We are next door to the post office, Fire Department, Police Department and a half mile from Midwest Regional Medical Center.  We do hear sirens driving by but surprisingly still less than we did at the old house.  In that house I would hear sirens at all hours of the night.  In all honesty, I have become a stalker of my old house.  Every time I am in that neighborhood to visit my dad, I find myself driving by to see if the buyers have moved in.  Strangely enough, it seems like they turned on both porch lights and went away.  After a week, no one has ever seen anyone over there.

As much as I love posting on this blog, I have been out of the habit for so long that I had to force myself to post anything.  It just seems like the few minutes of freedom and time to myself I just want to relax.  I will post more on here as well.  Between posts, you can see my short Twitter messages sent from my phone on the right side of the blog. I also post to Facebook from my phone as well. Another of my hobbies is photography that I have practically abandoned over the last year.  Seems like the only pictures I have taken were of the house during repairs.  I cannot wait to get back into taking pictures again.  It is so relaxing for me.  Also once we get moved into our new house, I will set up my ham radio shack again.  No huge towers like before but I will have small, low profile antennas.  Many people thought that I gave up on ham radio and that is not true.   In fact, as I type this, I am listening to my trunking police scanner next to the computer.  Keep checking in and I will eventually get back to normal.  This blog is something that I really enjoy so I will not be giving it up. In fact, I just renewed it for three more years a couple weeks ago.  I also renewed the Del City Amateur Radio Club’s website for three more years.  You can be in fear or comfort depending on your perspective, knowing that I am not going anywhere Winking smile.

Del City ARC Site

Yesterday, June 12, 2010 I uploaded the delcityarc.org site to a new server. It was actually a downgrade and I did it for two reasons.

1. The site does not require all the bells and whistles that my personal site does.
2. Price! I have hosted the site on Godaddy.com for the last three years and have been very happy with them but their price has gone up each year.

Godaddy is about as dependable as one can find when it comes to domain hosting. Unfortunately they charge by the month for hosting. The domain registration is good for as many years as you want to register and they do it for a flat rate per year. The hosting charges per month and by the time you pay for domain registration as well as hosting, you are up to $199.00 for three years. With that service, you get all sorts of features including scripting capability. This may not be that expensive but when you consider that it is not the only site that I maintain, it does add up.  The Del City ARC web site does not need all those features because it is not used for interactive communication. The blog is actually linked within a frame to http://dcarc.wordpress.com.

I have moved the site back over to its original hosting spot back in 2002 on Doteasy.com. They have a zero dollar hosting with limited 100 MB storage and 1 GB per month traffic. All you have to do is pay for the domain registration. While this would be inadequate for my personal page, it is perfect for the DCARC site. Since our blog is actually hosted on a different server, the site can do just what it did before. To the end user, there is virtually no change. If I did not announce what I have done, no one would have any idea that anything had changed. I just finished uploading the files into the folder of the new server. The site appears to be working wonderfully.  At the same time, I renewed this site for three more years.  I also renewed my Flickr account for two more years.

If you have any questions, please send an email to members@delcityarc.org.

Thanks,
Paul, K5GLH

Update Two Twelve Twenty Ten

What an amazing week.  A week ago it was a sad day when I had my tower taken down and sold.  The WIN System antenna was placed on my dad’s (W5QO) tower about 1/2 mile North of here.  The 443.3 repeater is back on the air at this new location with the antenna mounted on the Southwest side of the tower.  We were concerned how we were going to install the IRLP node on the repeater because there is already another node (3867).  Since both repeaters are now at the same location, they are using the same Internet service.  If you know anything about IRLP, Echolink, or any other streaming service, you know that audio and control commands happen on certain ports.  The ports are the same on all nodes of like systems.  Most people forward those ports to the node using a router.  The problem is that you cannot forward the same ports to more than one computer simultaneously.  This causes a unique problem because simply having a router will not be enough to have more than one node on one router.

We were left with either changing locations of the IRLP node and transmitting the signal to the repeater or getting another Internet account at the same address.  Transmitting the audio to the repeater from a remote location is not the desired method for various reasons.  For one thing the audio is not as clear by doing it this way.  We prefer to have the IRLP node connected directly to the repeater.  Secondly, having the node at a remote location makes moderating it more difficult.  By having it connected directly to the repeater we solve these issues and others.  We did some research and found it would not be that expensive to purchase another Internet Protocol (IP) address for the same Internet service.  This eliminates the problem of forwarding ports to more than one computer.  Now the 443.3 repeater’s node (8440) has its own IP address so that it does not require any ports to be forwarded.  For the purposes of security, we have to block all ports except the ones that are needed.

As of last night, 11 Feb 10, both repeaters are back online with both nodes fully operational.  We remain an affiliate of the WIN System so once the audio levels are set on the 443.3 repeater, the WIN System will return 24 hours a day.  The antenna is currently not as high as it was before it was moved but we are evaluating our options to remedy this limitation.  Either my dad, W5QO, Larry, KD5MAF, or myself will keep you up to date on the operation of the systems.

Thank you,

Paul, K5GLH

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.

Thanks,

Paul, K5GLH

Delayed Dismantle

15

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! :)

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