Month: March 2017

Digital Mobile Radio (DMR)

Lately I’ve been playing around with DMR as it seems to be the new game in digital amateur radio.  I was late joining digital radio as I just got my first D-Star radio with the Icom ID-5100A back in July just to find out that all of the D-Star repeaters have gone off the air or I can’t reach them.  I thought about maybe trying Yaesu’s System Fusion (C4FM) because it seems to be pretty cool as well but the adoption seems to be slow.  Here in the Oklahoma City area it seems that DMR is the direction that seems to be winning the digital game.

I recently bought the new TYT MD-380 and installed the newest firmware, MD-380 tools by WH6AV, the full DMR ID database installed and I have to admit that I love it.  All of the local DMR repeaters are connected 24 hours on time slot two on the Brandmeister, OK Central, talk group, 31401.  Time slot one is reserved for connecting to remote repeaters and talk groups.  The remote connections will drop after 15 minutes of local inactivity.  I would like to thank local hams Jesse, KD5JP and Bob, W5RLW for immense help on educating me, my brother (WX5DEL) and my dad (W5QO) in the operation of DMR.

We are teetering on whether we want to go in this direction or not with our own repeater(s). While we love it, we want to make sure that people are willing to adopt the technology.  There is quite the learning curve in the beginning but to me it is worth it. My fear is that like the old Beta-max VCR being the better technology to VHS is that people may not appreciate it.  I am a fan of Linux, and the security, custom-ability.  The problem with Linux is the attitude of the users and their seemingly elitist mentality that nothing is better than the command line.  While I too enjoy it, the reality is that society has gotten use to everything being a large, colorful, button like Apple promotes.  Until Linux users understand this, it will never be accepted widely outside of those that are technology oriented.  That is my fear of DMR.  I hope that more manufacturers take advantage of the open source technology and make equipment more widely available.

On a similar note, I’ve noticed that despite Ibiquity’s in band on channel (IBOC), so called HD Radio, it lacks industry adoption.  It is not that consumers are not interested but rather that manufacturers do not include the technology in new cars.  I am a firm believer that people would love to have HD Radio in their cars if manufacturers would include it. Most people don’t want to spend a lot of money to add it as a feature after the fact.

DMR in the amateur radio service has a huge potential and I really hope it succeeds long term.  I hope that Icom and Yaesu do not try to protect their technology by failing to make equipment that used DMR.  If they are going to do that, then I think if they genuinely wanted to help the consumers, they would make radios that had DMR, D-Star and System Fusion capabilities.  Let the market choose the technology they want. If they build a quality product and make it easier for the consumer to plug and play, I believe people will come.

I think that we are leaning more toward the idea that DMR is here for the long term than the other way around.  The reason is that most hams are by definition technology oriented and as such, more willing to take the time to learn it. If there is an appearance that most people are adopting it, then others will join. Let’s be honest, people are followers as can be proven by political parties spending millions of dollars doing polls on a daily basis.  I personally think that it is worth the time to learn DMR.  After all, D-Star has been out for years, System Fusion has been out for a couple of years and yet, here in the Oklahoma City area, DMR rules the day and yet not one of the major amateur radio manufacturers has even one radio to use.

This is my opinion and I really hope that it pans out this way because it is really a cool technology.

Over Priced Light Bulbs

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I am sure that I am not the only one that feels this way but man!  These light bulbs claim two years, six years and even ten year life span as this one claims.  As you can see, this $10.00 light bulb was installed July 19, 2015 and while it did last a record 22 months for us, this bulb claimed it would last ten years on the box.  This is an LED that did work longer than any compact fluorescent bulb that I have tried but still, for $10.00, that is not long enough since I have a house full of these.  Our house uses about 50 light bulbs throughout and so you sort of hope they’ll last a while.  In fairness, there are some bulbs that we bought the same day that are still working.  It just seems that all these promises of long life, environmentally friendly bulbs never seem to pan out.  Oh well, at least we still have good health.  I’m done ranting.

Wildfires

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We recently had a wildfire not too far from our house due to the drought and high winds. It has been so dry the last few months that wildfires has become common. We’ve been in a red flag fire warning for so long that I can’t even remember. Thankfully this fire did not damage any homes except for a mobile home.  There was a lot of grass burned but property was for the most part spared.

New Fence

Untitled Recently we had a new fence installed in our yard that we are very proud of. This is six foot steel fence that sits on top of a concrete barrier all the way around the yard.  Our old fence was the standard wood stockade type fence that gets old looking in short order Untitled

I can’t say enough about what a great job they did installing it. We used a company called Iron Tough Vinyl Fence. While we did not go with the vinyl, they were very professional and did a more than satisfactory job.  The best part is that it is paid for and we do not owe them anything.  My wife and I have been talking about doing this for a long time but we wanted to wait until we could afford to get it done. We had many colors to choose from but we finally decided on the brown color with the tan trim.

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In this final picture, you can see the tan trim a little better. Please ignore the two Crape Myrtle stumps in front of the fence. 🙂  They will grow back thick before you know it. They have to be trimmed back at the end of the season anyway and this allowed the fence workers to get in there without tree limbs in their face.  As you can see in the pictures, there are no leaves on the trees as this was done in February.  That explains the lack of flowers in the flower bed. 🙂  I won’t lie, the fence was expensive though I will not reveal what we paid for it. To us, it is worth it because we live in the city and it gives us the privacy that we desire.  When we moved back into the city, we were concerned that we would not have the privacy that we had at our old house.  This allows us to be in the backyard and not see a single person or window of a neighbor’s house.  It was worth every dime to us and we would definitely recommend one for anyone.

Missed Thunderstorms

Wow!  Yesterday had such hype and anticipation of thunderstorms that I could barely contain myself.  I had actually allowed myself to get excited at the idea that we are going to get some severe thunderstorms.  I anxiously awaited the entire day as we received nothing in the form of rain, wind, lightning or even a rumble of thunder.  I guess if I should be upset at anyone, it should be myself.  We’ve been in a drought for so long and the ground is cracking in our lawn to a point that we desperately need rain.

It is not as if the meteorologists were wrong about the forecast, because there were some storms around, just not here.  I am a storm enthusiast and love severe weather. I just long for Spring thunderstorms every year and get excited when they come but this time, I was really disappointed. I was so ready to experience the excitement of a good storm and all we  had was sun.  I’ve long decided that you cannot listen to what the meteorologists say.  Usually if you read their charts with the sound muted,  you get a pretty good picture of reality.  Yesterday, most were speaking of what time the storms were supposed to begin, yet their charts said a 40% of precipitation.

I should have gotten a clue by such a low chance of rain but I allowed myself to get worked up and excited just to be let down.  It is strange that it bothered me so much that it missed us but it really did.  I went to bed last night feeling such a let down which seems kind of silly when you think of it. Nevertheless, I was really really bummed when I went to bed.  This morning I woke up with a pounding headache and a stopped up head.  I think some of that is just allergies since after all, it is Spring and many trees and flowers are trying to bloom despite not having any water.

I guess my being bummed is one reason that I don’t really get into sports that much. I allow myself to get into the game so much so that I get really down if my team loses. 🙂  It seems pretty immature when you say it but that is me. I got to experience my first tornado at about five years old and the excitement was so much that I’ve been hooked ever since.  Without a doubt, storm season is my favorite time of the year. Hopefully we’ll get more opportunities and this drought can be a thing of the past.  I’ll keep you posted if things change.  Thank you for stopping by.