HF Antenna Installation

Added the Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus dipole antenna on tower.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This past week, I finally decided to install the Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus multi-band dipole antenna on the tower. It was quite a job lowering the antennas to the ground, adding the 10 foot stand off and the antenna on the stand off. I have to say, I’ve had some pretty good performance on it as I connected it. My location is in central Oklahoma and my first call was on 17 meters QRP (5 watts) to Portland, Oregon. Shortly after that, I made a call and was answered in Trinidad and Tobago.

I am very pleased with the performance but I need to do some more work with the guy wire installation. As you can see in the image, there is an elevator installed and the guy wires are installed on the elevator. This leaves me in a complicated decision when severe weather comes. I have to choose between lightning or wind. The guy wires are going to have to be removed from the elevator and be installed on the tower directly. Though the tower is installed to be self supporting up to a 90 MPH wind, I still do not like having it without guy wires in the occasional high winds that Oklahoma is capable of having.

As it is installed now, if I lower the antennas to the ground, to protect from lightning, then the guy wires are lowered as well, leaving the tower with no protection from wind. That is my next project to fix this dilemma. That elevator is incredibly handy because as I get older, tower climbing is more dangerous. Not to mention, Oklahoma is notorious for wasps, and for some reason they love towers. Climbing a tower into a wasp nest is not a good situation to find myself. 🙂

I hope to get this fixed pretty soon but one thing you can count on with our weather is the summers are very hot. If I don’t get this fixed soon, the heat becomes and issue. I’ll post pictures when I get it completed. Thank you for stopping by.

Shortwave Radio Listening

Awesome new shortwave radio.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js My lifestyle has changed so much over the last few years that I’ve barely been using my Amateur Radio license and equipment. Recently I’ve been looking at a few shortwave listening groups on Facebook. While reading around in these groups, I’ve run across a few radios that I thought would be cool. Of course, I could just use my HF radio for shortwave listening, I can’t take it out on the back porch to listen. I thought I would settle on this radio, the Tecsun PL-880. It is really a nice radio with super sensitivity and channel separation. I’ve had this for about a week so far and I love it. It is so cool to listen to. I also enjoy medium wave (MW) AM radio DX at night. This radio does a great job at that as well. This radio does a great job scanning and automatically storing the channels in many pages of channels. It has 3,050 channels of storage. While it is expensive for its size, I am very pleased with it. I also love that it only has one battery that is chargeable via USB. I love this radio and will recommend it.

It’s Been a Long Time

It has been nearly a year since I’ve posted on my blog but I’ve thought about it many times. This year has been a very tumultuous time for several of those in our family. With several family members going through crisis, I’ve just not felt like getting the blog. Our office is separate from the rest of the house and I often feel guilty leaving my wife alone while getting on the computer. She’s a great wife and is always telling me that it is okay but I haven’t felt like it.

I’ve been working on a few things since I’ve posted last and I’ll cover them in future posts. One of them is rebuilding our home network with Ubiquiti UniFi gear, both wired and wireless. You may remember last year I had a large tree cut out of the back yard and it left a large area of no grass in the area. I figured that over this summer the grass would fill in now that it has plenty of sun. It has filled in some but doesn’t look like it will have time to fill in completely before the arrival of cooler temperatures. Next Summer I may be forced to add sod to the lawn to get it to fill in faster.

For a long time, I’ve been getting up in the morning feeling very sleepy. I, or maybe I should say that my wife told my doctor. He sent me to have a sleep study done and it was a horrible experience because I already have insomnia. This is why I dislike Daylight Saving Time so much. In this sleep study I barely got any sleep so they had to schedule a second one. I have to say the second was much better than the first. It appears that I have sleep apnea and as my son explains it, I’ll have to wear a mask with a leaf blower attached. Well, the mask was a big help on this sleep study. I had such a bad time on the first one that I was almost not willing to do it again. The second sleep study was lasts night and I feel much better this morning.

This year, my wife and I will be married for 30 years. We are going to use it as an opportunity to go an a cruise for the first time. We are very excited about it and plan to not only take many pictures but also document the trip on video. We’ve purchased some video gear and video editing software so that we can share our experience on YouTube. Keep an eye out for that later. Thank you for checking into my blog. I hope to be more consistent on posting in the future.

Cancelled Flickr

Today I cancelled my Flickr account that I’ve had since June 30, 2005.  It is kind of sad but it was time.  I’ve been a Flickr Pro account holder the entire time but over time, Yahoo! seemed to neglect them and their mobile app became slow and sluggish.  About two years ago, Verizon bought Yahoo! and shortly afterward sold off Flickr separately to Smugmug.  I received an email yesterday saying that free accounts would be limited to 1,000 photos and Pro accounts would retain unlimited storage but the price would increase from $24.95 to $49.99 per year.

While fifty dollars is not that expensive per year, when you add to it that the mobile app has become so slow over time, I decided that it was time.  Most of my family and friends stopped using Flickr a long time ago so they would never see the picture that I would post anyway.

Probably my favorite feature of Flickr was the ability to blog photos while keeping them on Flickr and not use up the limited space that I have on this blog.  I recently learned how to do this on Google Photo so I can still blog my photos.  I will see how this works for now and if it doesn’t work long term, I’ll look at another method.  So now if you go to my Flickr page located https://www.flickr.com/photos/plmccordj/, there are no photos to see.

Thank again for stopping by,


Trip to New York and Boston

My wife and I decided to celebrate our 29th Anniversary by going on a long desired trip to New York City.  My wife has always wanted to go but has never been able to.  The timing was perfect to be able to go to Boston, Massachusetts for the retirement ceremony of a friend at Hanscom Air Force Base.

We decided to drive on this trip because it gave us the opportunity to see many states that we’ve never been before.  One of those states was West Virginia as shown in this picture below.

Most of my family is from the Western part of the United States so we never  had a reason to go East.  I’ve never really seen much of the Eastern United States, other than Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. We did land at JFK airport in 1991, on our way to England for the Air Force.

One of the places that we’ve never seen before but really loved was a restaurant called Bob Evans.

Apparently this is a well known restaurant around the Northeast part of the country but we had never heard of them.  I have to say, their breakfast was wonderful. We stopped at this restaurant in Cambridge, Ohio. One of the more creepy parts of our trip was when we decided to stop for the night in Springfield, Ohio.  We paid for our room and opened the door to see that someone had already been staying in this room and it had not been cleaned.  You can see how the room looked when we opened the door.

In addition to this, the bathroom was still dirty with someone else’s towels still on the floor.  After complaining at the front desk, they got us another room.  The second room had water dripping from the ceiling in the bathroom with black mold over the toilet.  The next day we drove most of the day and was excited to see this view as we entered Jersey City, NJ.

In the course of two miles, we went from wide open spaces and beautiful scenery to this.  I was a bit alarmed when we suddenly, from out of no where stopped with the bottle neck traffic.  It was New Jersey so we adapted.

We actually stayed in an Air BnB in Jersey City, NJ. People thought we were crazy because this town has such a bad reputation for being ghetto.  Well, there were parts that looked scary but the place we stayed was very nice and the people were nice as well.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the people when we got there. I’ve always heard stories about how rough people are there and not very friendly but thankfully that never really showed up in our experiences.  The next morning when we got up, we got on the PATH train from Jersey City to the World Trade Center.  You can see the crowd n this photo.

In the picture below you can see the World Trade Center station that arrived in. You can see how new everything looks after having to rebuild it after the attacks.

Of course, our first stop was the World Trade Center Memorial.

Of the many stops we made, the picture below is of Times Square.  When we arrived in NYC, our intention was to ride the subway around town. We didn’t think it through very well because what ended up being the case was this. We stopped to see one sight, and then looked at Google Earth and discovered other nearby sites, so we walked to them.  Once we got there, we looked at our map again and realized how close we were to other sites, so we walked again.  After doing this all day, we hadn’t realized just how far we walked.  By the end of the day, we had to ride the subway back because our feet were hurting so bad.  I can’t describe how much my feet hurt for days after this.  We ended up walking more than seven miles that day.

The next day we had tickets to the New York Yankees and Boston Redsox game and had planned on riding the subway all the way up to the Bronx.  When we got up that morning, our feet were still hurting so bad.  I just didn’t have it in me to walk the 3/4 mile back to the train station. I convinced my wife that we could just drive over there and pay for the parking.

Well the drive ended up being very expensive and a long commute, but we did it.  The George Washington Bridge cost us $15.00 toll, just to cross the Hudson river.  This doesn’t count the tolls on the freeway getting over there.  In this picture above, you can see the stadium as we arrived.

On this trip, we also went to Boston and along the way, we stopped at several places along the way.  As a 35 year Amateur (Ham) Radio operator, I’ve always heard of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).  It is in a town called Newington, Connecticut.  Since we were already right there, I wanted to stop and take a few pictures. This is the front of their building. We were sort of in a hurry so we didn’t go inside.

We also stopped at Plymouth Rock Massachusetts.  I really enjoyed this because of the history of the place.

After attending our friend’s retirement, we went downtown Boston to see a few sites and then have a nice dinner together.

We really had a good time on this trip, though it wasn’t long enough to see everything. We had an eight day trip, and we were traveling four of those.  Finally, on our way back home, we stopped at Niagara Falls.

We had not planned on going to Niagara Falls but along the way, we started seeing signs as we approached Buffalo, NY.  We both agreed to just drive a little out of our path and go see it before we went home.  It was an amazing site and I am glad we stopped.

This was not a well planned trip, as in preparation.  It was an idea that came up on short notice and we tried to save a little bit so that we could go on this trip without using credit.  Overall, the trip gave us some memories we’ll never forget. I do have to say that we are not that physically fit, and even though the much walking was good for us, it really wore us out.  By the time we got home, we just wanted to relax.  It was well worth it though because we hardly ever travel to visit places and it was a memory that we’ll never forget.

El Nino

I routinely get emails from the Climate Prediction Center about La Nina ENSO Neutral or El Nino conditions in the equatorial area of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.  The last two months, they’ve predicted a 60% chance of El Nino in the Northern Hemisphere, fall season with a 70% chance by Winter.

For Oklahoma, this could be great news since the last to El Nino years, we received more than 50 inches of rain.  We’ve been in La Nina (drought) years for the last two years and have struggled to get even normal rainfall. While none of this is guaranteed, it is certainly exciting potential news for our area, that is, if you like rain the way I do.  In 2015 we had 52 inches of rain, and 18 of those inches fell in the month of May alone.  In 2007 we had 50 inches of rain, tropical storm Erin and a major ice storm that left more than a million people without power, statewide and more than 300,000 just in the Oklahoma City area.

While I don’t wish any physical harm to people or property, I do love stormy weather, and even just rain.  I am very hopeful this is a wet year coming our way.  We need a good wet year to overcome the seemingly never ending droughts that we’ve been having.  I’ll be watching and hoping for a positive outcome.

Fireworks in Mustang, Oklahoma

This Independence Day my wife, brother in-law and I went to Wild Horse Park in Mustang to enjoy the fireworks. It is not a public show and that is why I enjoy it so much.  This park is filled with thousands of people from all over the Oklahoma City area and they bring their own fireworks to enjoy.  The city also has many places to purchase them as well so they can reap the tax money from this exercise.

I love going to this because there are so many people doing this for hours and I’ve never seen a public display that even comes close to this.  I think Mustang has tapped into a market that is desperately wanted and created a draw from miles away.  Most cities in the area make fireworks illegal and they’ll quote all their reasons, such as safety, fire risk, etc. and those are definitely concerns that need to be factored in. I am so glad though that Mustang has realized that the tax dollars and people coming into their city is worth risking those concerns.

I have the utmost respect for their leadership for having the courage to allow their citizens the freedom to make their own choices.  How refreshing it is to see a government that doesn’t feel the need to protect us from ourselves.  I realize that people are different and desire different things.  As one that likes to live peaceably with others, I try to understand this despite my frustration at this view.  Sometimes we get our way and sometimes we don’t.  Despite my disagreement with the policy of the city that I live in, I can live with it and do what I can, where I can.

If you live in one of these cities that bans fireworks, I would definitely encourage you to go to Mustang and give it a shot.  There are a couple other areas like Choctaw that also allow it but no place that I’ve seen can compare to the organized gathering that Mustang has to offer.  They provide a large public park where people circle the perimeter and set off their fireworks in the center of the park.  Their are police and fire that circle the park periodically on utility vehicles to patrol and make sure that people use common sense. They have a strict 11:00 PM cut off time and they start circling the park around 10:40 with megaphones telling people they have 20 minutes left.  My family and I have been doing this for about 13 years and really enjoy it .  Watch the video and see the view from my vantage point. This was shot with my iPhone 8 Plus. You can see fireworks in all 360 degrees of where I am sitting.  Thank you for stopping by.

Awesome Clouds!

Summer time in Oklahoma is not very active with weather unless you like hot dry days for weeks on end.  A few days ago we had a small disturbance that came over Texas and brought a lot of rain to them but nothing to us except some cumulus clouds that wanted to forma storm but just didn’t have all of the ingredients.

I took this picture from my backyard, looking toward the South at some pretty looking clouds. While we didn’t get anything from them except for a little shade, they were certainly pleasant to look at.  As you know, I love weather and really enjoy a good thunderstorm.  It still amazes me that God put together such a great place that can sustain itself and provide such an ideal living environment.  I apologize for the antennas blocking the view but I am after all an amateur radio operator as well. 🙂

Flickr and Smugmug

Wow!  I just discovered that Flickr was sold from Yahoo! to Smugmug.  I am not sure if this is good or bad but I am cautiously optimistic.  It was widely covered, last year, 2017 that Yahoo! was selling itself and that Verizon was the winner with $4.5 Billion.  To me, that was very sad since Yahoo! was the first search engine that made it big.  As the pioneer, I really pulled for them to succeed but due to poor management decisions, they fell by the way side and shrunk in market share.

Yahoo! acquired Flickr in March 2005 and for some reason, never really put the resources needed for them to succeed, despite having a huge member base.  I joined Flickr with a Pro account in June 2005 and have been a paid member ever since.  They’ve had free versions but I wanted the unlimited account.  When Verizon took over Yahoo!, they merged them with America Online (AOL) under a new brand name Oath.  They sold off Flickr to Smugmug, a long time competitor to Flickr.

As a paid, Pro member of Flickr for 13 years, I’ve always been a fan and though a couple times, I considered dropping them due to Yahoo!’s neglect of them.  Flickr has been a very cool sight for photographers where you can upload your non reduced, original photos and share them with the world.  Now that Flickr is under new management, I am hopeful they can revive them back to relevance again.  I am going to renew my Pro account and hopefully we’ll see some improvements soon.

Many people today think that since Facebook allows uploads and so does Instagram, there is no more need for Flickr.  That is not true because those sights are not geared toward real photographers, with full size photos.  They are not even in the same category.  One thing that Flickr does that I use extensively is post on my personal blog with embedded images that are stored on Flickr.   This is huge because it prevents me from using up all my storage on my web hosting provider with photos.  In fact, the very photo that you see at the beginning of this blog, is hosted on my Flickr account.

While Google has their Google Photos, they are not the same.  They are very nice but they don’t have a designated page where the user can make their photos public for everyone to see.  I have family and friends that do not want their pictures published publicly and with Flickr, I can make some public while others are not.  I can share them with friends only, family only, public, or only me.  Who knows if this change will make things better but I sure hope so. Keep an eye out for my page and I’ll post more on it later as things change.

Wildfires and Drought

I know it seems like I am always posting about our never ending drought but this past week it has reached a critical point with ~400,000 acres of land burning in Oklahoma.  I took this picture from my front yard, this week, April 13, 2018 of the sun before it set.  You can see how thick the smoke was not only by looking at the sun but by looking at the haze between my vantage point and the neighbor’s houses. The amazing thing was these fires that were causing this smoke were 100 miles away.

This picture shows the same view without being zoomed up.  You can see that it was very thick and we had a air quality alert going on at the time.

In the last picture, you can see the view from the backyard with our weather station in the foreground.  Forgive the mess with the tree limbs. We cut some tree limbs and were waiting for the bulk pickup from the city.

Today is a huge blessing as we are getting our first significant rainfall in months.  As of me posting this, we have .56 inch of rain for the morning so far and I can still hear the rain falling.  We desperately needed this rain and I hope it continues for many hours to come.  It is getting old waking up to the smell of wildfires every morning.  It smells like someone is burning in their fireplace but then you realize, that it is not cold outside.

This has been a cooler than normal Spring, though we’ve had virtually no moisture to speak of. Tulsa is 100 miles from us and they’ve had more than three times the moisture that we’ve had here in Oklahoma City.  Hopefully today’s rains are a sign things are changing.  I just wanted to share a few photos of the smoke this week. Thanks for stopping by.