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John Gorkos
86 followers -
Dad, hacker, hero.
Dad, hacker, hero.

86 followers
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2014-09-22
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This is a series of photos I took from the Choteau, MT football field, looking west towards the Front Range of the Rockies.  They feature what I believe are lensatic clouds, but I'm not meteorologist.
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Weather
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Google traffic view of metro Atlanta just after midnight, Wednesday 29 January, 2014. We don't do so well with ice down here.
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I wonder if this could be used for APRS, as well.  Unsure what the RF chipset is inside, but it's pretty cool, regardless.

Had my first #hamradio Digital Voice HF contact today with K5WH on 14.236 MHz. I got a great primer on FreeDV over HF from Mel Whitten (K0PFX) while I was at the TAPR DCC in Seattle this year. I finally decided to take a swing at it on my own.
Like most digital modes, it takes a little magic getting all the audio levels correct. I was using a cheap USB audio dongle I picked up at a hamfest for $4.00 for the interface with my Heil headset, and running the audio directly to the radio mic and phone plugs on my Kenwood TS-2000.
On the analog side, we were both about S7 on the receive side, and the bit error rate was pretty low. The digital audio sounds a little "Bottom of the well", but it's much easier to listen to than SSB audio, with all the hiss and pops and birdies going by. Just like SSB voice will never replace CW as a primary mode, I don't think that digital voice will ever replace SSB as the primary voice channel on HF, but it definitely deserves a slice of bandwidth in future bandplans.
There are two critical websites that deserve a few minutes of your attention. The first is the freedv website at http://www.freedv.org, and the second is the FreeDV QSO finder at http://qso.k7ve.org
There is a dedicated group of digital voice guys that can be found on 20 meters at 14.236 pretty much every weekend. Give it a shot, even if it's receive only. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how well it works and how good it sounds.


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View from the Sunday technical session at the TAPR DCC in Seattle, Wa.
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So, I'm at the +TAPR  DCC conference in Seattle, WA.  It's a great geek/ham-radio meetup, and there's a strong undercurrent of F/OSS and open-hardware enthusiasm.  One of my favorite Open Source advocates, +Bruce Perens is here, busily advocating more open hardware and software in Amateur Radio.
Yeasu is a large radio manufacturer that just introduced a new line of digital-capable VHF/UHF ham radios here at DCC.  Unfortunately, they made some mistakes that include not being compatible with existing Amateur Radio digital radios, and using a proprietary CODEC for the on-the-air digital traffic (owned by DVSI, but not the AMBE used in D-Star).
During the grand unveiling in the main conference room, Bruce stood up and asked some very direct, somewhat embarrassing (to Yaesu) questions about the openness and technical specifications of the new radios, and end the in essentially dismissed the entire line as Yaesu foisting 20-year-old land-mobile technology off on hams as "cutting edge."  (My words, not his).  He also did a pretty good job of excoriating them for doing the development in a vacuum, without the input from hams that make a serious hobby of building and deploying digital voice networks.
To cap it all off, Yaesu very graciously donated one of their newly released handhelds as a grand prize to be given away during the keynote dinner Saturday night.  Of the 150 or so people in the room, there was really only one person that TRULY DESERVED to win that radio...
Congratulations, Bruce.  We look forward to your review of the radio under "real" conditions.  :)

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Here are the still photos I took of the recovered N4NE-12 payload.  You can see the waterline on the box where it sat, right-side up, in several inches of water, hidden by weeds, in a pond in Austell, GA for over a year.
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N4NE-12 Recovery Photos
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Amazing! The "Alternate Tracking System" on the N4NE High Altitude Balloon Launch system worked! 13 months after we lost contact with the balloon tracking/telemetry system at 93,000 feet over Marietta, GA, someone FOUND it and called my number. The fact that I had "Cash Reward" written all over the box didn't hurt. The payload box was found floating in a few inches of water in the weeds growing around the edge of a private pond in Austell. I'm not sure how it got in the water from the landing spot (see the end of the video), but the water pretty much ruined all the electronics. I'm hoping I can save the GPS board, and the power pole distribution box seems to be ok. Both cameras, the Yaesu VX3R, and the TinyTrak 4 are total write-offs.
As near as I can figure, from watching the descent video frame-by-frame, the landing coordinates were 33° 51.19' N, 84° 33.44' W.
Unfortunately, there are no pictures on the SD card that was in the still camera, but the Kodak HD video camera worked like a champ. I have several hours of video of tree leaves in HD if anyone is interested.
So, the video shows a minute of flight, with balloon burst right at 1:03 or so, and then another minute of "Post Bust Chaos" which illustrates why our telemetry package failed. Then there's the last minute of descent.
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