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Fun with radios

World Cup! World Cup! I haven’t watched any of the games in a week, looks like I’ve missed a lot of action. Ecuador vs England is playing at the moment… and England wins. Portugal vs Sweden is up next.

My parents came down to visit earlier last week. I’ve been a slacker and haven’t made it up to Oklahoma since Christmas, so they decided to come down here.

The day after they left, I flew out to Virginia. It was a very full trip, I was working from the time I arrived, all night long, then started early the next morning. There was no incentive for me to work all night, but I still only spent four hours at the hotel sleeping. IHOP in Sterling at 2 AM is where the action’s at. Several groups of seemingly drunk people started shuffling in around that time.

On the way home, IAD was crazy, so many people; it took about 40 minutes to get through self-checkin and security. My plane was already full by the time I got on it. So much for getting there in time to grab lunch. I couldn’t sleep on the way back because of a non-reclining chair, but it was offset by chatting with the extremely attractive Dell sales woman next to me who was visiting Round Rock. She saw me reading my “French for Travellers” book, we started talking about Europe and places she’s been and where I need to go. She tells me in Belgium I can get a plate of mussels+french fries almost anywhere I go. Odd, but sounds so good.

I spent yesterday afternoon running coax for my CB and scanner. I properly grounded my antenna mounts and re-tuned my antennas, now things work much better. Even brought out the multimeter and tested for grounding and impedance on my connectors and end-to-end. I quickly figured out my 6 watt battery-operated soldering iron was useless for soldering on PL-259 plugs. I bought a 25 watt iron, it was barely hot enough to get the job done. I had it plugged into my inverter, I was afraid it was going to melt my cigarette lighter outlet wiring, but it survived. I should’ve just bought the butane powered torch. I still have alternator whine, but I think I can fix this by buying a battery terminal extension and running it directly to the negative post on the battery.

If you want creepy, I was driving around last night listening to the scanner and picked up a baby monitor. I heard a argument between some girl and her “asshole liar” boyfriend, with a baby cooing periodically.

I picked up a general class amateur radio study guide last night and I’ve been eating it up. A chunk of the DC electronic stuff I already know, yet the radio wave propogation and antenna theory stuff was really interesting. I finally understand how capacitors filter out AC and how rectifiers work.

Listening to Morse code at 5 words per minute is painfully slow, 15-20 seems like a good starting point. Hearing 40+ wpm is insane. Here’s a 40 WPM AARL practice file. I know Morse isn’t required for a Technician class license, but it’s still cool to learn it.

While Googling for Morse code stuff last night, I found a clip from Leno with a SMS text messaging vs Morse code competition. A SMS “speed champion” was pitted against a pair of ham operators. The girl from the audience was so confident that SMS would win, but the radio guys clobbered them.

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