Hamvention 2013

Last week I made the trip to Dayton, OH for the annual Hamvention held in May.  Originally, I was not planning on going, but in early April I was reading about some of the forums and presentations that were going to be presented, so I asked my roommate, also a ham, if he wanted to go and he said sure, so the planning started.  Since we live in Minnesota it is not a short drive, but it is a short flight, so after the hotel reservations were made we had to decide how to get there.  Well, after looking at flight options and considering the flexibility if we just drove, we made the decision to go for it.  We new it would be about twelve hours of driving each way, so we planned on leaving early Thursday morning and probably returning on Sunday, we did take Monday off just in case we changed our minds.  Oh, did I mention that I had never been to the Dayton Hamvention before, so this was a first for me.  I have been to a number of local hamfests, but those are tiny in comparison.

Thursday about 6:00 AM we set off on our journey to Dayton.  For the most part the first half of the trip was quiet and there was not much going on.  We did hear an aeronautical mobile station on 146.520 on his way to the Hamvention also.  We stopped for lunch in Janesville, WI and continued on.  Just before we got into Champaign  IL I heard a call sign on 146.520 that was someone I knew from the Mankato, MN area also on their way to Dayton, we ended traveling most of the rest of the trip about ten to fifteen minutes behind them and chatted a bit.  It turns out they had left about the same time we did, but came down a different route and we just happened to hear each other shortly after or paths converged.  Latter on not too far from the Ohio board we were scanning all of the repeater outputs on both 2 M and 70 CM and ran across another station that we knew also, so we chatted with him for a while as we were only a few miles behind them.  We pulled into the hotel just south of Dayton, OH about 8:30 Eastern, about thirteen and half hours after we left.  We stopped for gas twice and both lunch a dinner.  It was a good trip, a bit of a long drive, but I was worth it as I was excited to see what the next day would hold.

The next morning we left the hotel a bit before 7 AM and found breakfast and headed toward the old Salem Mall, where the off site parking for the Hamvention was.  Oh, yeah it was very foggy that morning so the combination of not being able to see more than maybe a couple hundred feet along, with not knowing where I was going for sure and a GPS that sent me to not quite the right spot made finding the parking a bit of challenge.  Not, so much of a challenge that I needed to ask, as there were many people on 146.520 in the area.  We got parked picked up our bus passes and board the shuttle bus to the Hara Arena.  It was a quick bus ride and we were there.  We then purchased our tickets and waited a few minutes for the flea market to open.  Once we go in we headed toward the back and started checking out what was there.  I didn’t end up buying anything in the flea market and it was not do to a lack of options, just nothing that I knew I needed when I saw it.  As the day went on we headed inside to see what was inside as well as to take in a bit of the Ham Nation recording that was going on.  We did manage to get through most of the inside and outside on a first pass the first day.  About 4:30 or so we left and headed back to the hotel.  We hit up a local Mexican Restaurant for dinner before headed to the D-Star forum that was taking place at a local hotel that evening.  Overall the first day was fin and tiring as we did not make it back to the hotel until close to 10 PM.

Saturday was a new day, we left about the same time and had breakfast before heading to park and catch the bus.  We arrived at the arena about 8 AM and started thought the flea market again.  There were some vendors that had not been there they day before and there were sections that we had not spend much time at on Friday, so we spent some time around there.  Saturday morning it did start to rain, we did hand out outside for a while, but eventually headed inside and spent some time and money with the commercial dealers.  By the time the rain had stopped it my arms were full and it was lunch time, so we decided to head back to the car and go and find lunch.  Well, finding lunch close to where we were parked turned out to not leave us with many options, we found a place and got some food quick and headed back.  In the afternoon we attended a session on Embedded Linux and Micro-Controllers for Ham Radio, there was some good information that I picked up, but it was very warm in the presentation room.  Once that was over we made a few more stops and took off for the day.  When we left we know that we were not planning on returning for the Sunday events.  We did manage to meet up with another group from Minnesota for dinner and had a good time.

Sunday about 7 Eastern we left the hotel and headed back.  We saw a number of call sign plates on the way back and chatted with a few of them on 146.520.  We were also scanning all fo the repeater outputs again and that turned out to be useful just as we left Illinois and crossed in to Wisconsin, as there were storms moving into the area.  We ended up ahead of the storms in Southern Wisconsin and behind the storms close to home as we progressed back.  We did hear the same aeronautical mobile station that we had heard on the way down while we were in Wisconsin on the way back also.  We pulled into the house about 8 PM Central, it took us a bit longer to get back due to a couple of extra stops and an accident on the freeway as we were entering Wisconsin.

Overall, I had a great time and never really had any downtime over the four days.  I would go again and I would probably drive again as that is part of the fun, at least in my mind.  I spend enough time flying for work that I was nice to take off and see some of the country side and to be in control of my schedule. I know that it has been said many times, but if your are a ham radio operator or electronics enthusiast you have to go to the Dayton Hamvnetion at least once.

Once again it has been too long

Once again, I have let my blog go for a number of months without posting anything.  Well, I have been busy as always and simply put posting here has not been a priority.  Over the last few months I have gotten back into Ham Radio, which I have been involved with for more than ten years, I know since I had to renew my licenses.  Also during the winter months my I seem to let my camera sit in the bag too much of the time as I like to shoot outdoors and I really don’t like to spend too much time outside in the winter.  I have not posted anything the my photo gallery for a long time as that has also not been a priority.

Last week I did attend Hamvention in Dayton, OH which is one of the largest, if not the largest gathering of Ham Radio operators and electronics enthusiasts.  It as the first time that I made the trip to this annual event.  I enjoyed it and had a great time.  As many have said before, if it is something the interests you at all you have to attend at least once.  Also, on the Ham radio side of the world I have been playing with D-Star and am enjoying the options that it opens.  I will try and post more information about D-Star and what I have learned in the near future.

Last summer I sold my ATVs as they were not getting used and I was getting to the point were it felt too much like work to go riding for a few hours.  Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed riding while riding, it was the travel to and from the trail and all of the maintenance on all of the machines that was the work.  Not to mention the expense of up keep and storage.

Well, I think that is all for now.  I will try and make a point to post something more often.

It has been a while

Wow, I just realized that I did not post anything in all of 2012, how bad is that.  I guess, I have not had anything that I really thought was worth posting.  Over all not a ton as changed.

Over the last year, I have worked on a few different items.  The first has been me getting back in to listening to the scanner some more, something that I have done on and off for the last twenty years or so, oh, how it has changed since I had my ten channel scanner.  I have spending sometime working getting a system to decode and email me when a fire page is sent out.  It works most of the time and it is neat to listen to, but I usually just end up deleting the emails.  I have continued with my photography, I took some nice photos, but have not been out shooting as much as I should, not to mention I need to work on my post processing.  Also, this fall we decided to cancel out satellite television subscription and start using MythTV again.  I had most of the hardware from before.  It really came down to we were paying more for the service than we used it.  It has been almost four months now and I am not missing anything.  A couple weeks ago we installed a Nest Thermostat in our house, so I will try and post an update with how that is working also.

Well, I hope to post some more this year, well at this point I have now posted more than last year.

Mobile Phone Update

Well, I made the decision to go with the iPhone 4S on Verizon.  It was delivered on Friday and so far I am impressed with the device and the network.  No network is perfect, but in the little testing I have done this weekend in spots that were dead or almost dead on my Nexus One on T-Mobile had usable signal on Verizon.  There are locations where the signal is weaker, but that is also to be expected.  Only time will tell.

What mobile phone to get on which carrier?

Well, I think that I have made up my mind that it is time for a new phone and probably time to leave T-Mobile since they ended their roaming agreements with AT&T in some of the areas that I tend to spend sometime in. Yes, they have service in most of these areas, but it is poor at best in most locations. I can see that there is service form AT&T, but I am only able to use it for emergency calls, which is nice to know that it is available, but still not ideal. With that being said I am leaning toward making the jump to Verizon, yes it will be more every month for the same features, yes their are data caps. If my data usage stays the same I am not too concerned as I use no where near the cap. So am I missing something in deciding to switch carriers?

The next decision is what phone to get, as you can probably guess based on the timing of this I am thinking about the iPhone 4S, as I seem to be more and more Apple centric in what I use and do with technology in the past couple years. I have an iPad, Mac and iPod Touch. Currently my personal phone is a Nexus One on T-Mobile and that is the phone that I would be replacing, I also have a work phone that is an EVO 4G on Sprint, so I will still have an Android phone. I am also open to getting an Android phone on Verizon also, but the real question is which mobile OS to go with? What features that I have come to love on my Nexus One am I going to miss if I make the move to iOS. What are the pluses to moving to iOS. I am a Google Voice and Google Latitude user so how well do these apps function or not on iOS compared to Android? I enjoy photography and the camera on the iPhone’s in the past seem to be far superior to anything on any of the Android phones.

The bottom line is should I switch carriers and/or mobile phone OS? If I do what are good and bad of each?

Secure browsing on open Wifi

Shortly after getting my iPad2 I was sitting in a hotel connected to their wireless network with my computer and fired up Wireshark to see what I would see floating through the air.  I saw about what I expected, everything that everyone connected to the same access point was doing.  I have known this was the case for a long time and have normally used a PPTP VPN to my house to get around this, but that didn’t always work as well as I would like.  My roommate tunnels his traffic through a PC at the house over SSH, which I could also do, but it was the iPad that really got me thinking, what could I do that I could easily do on the iPad as well as any computer and not have connectivity issues.  PPTP has issues getting through some routers and firewalls and the easiest way around this is to move to SSL so that was what I did.  I opted to pick up a Cisco ASA and setup AnyConnect over SSL on it.  There is an AnyConnect client for the iPad, it does require that you have the AnyConnect Mobile licenses on the ASA, but after I looked into the price was not too bad for the piece of mind that it would give me.  Yes, it was somewhat of a pain to setup, but after a weekend of testing and working on it on and off I did get it to do everything I wanted it to and it has been working well for the last week.  I will post some of what I learned along the way in the future.

A couple of weeks with an iPad

I was one of the nut cases that decided that I wanted an iPad2 bad enough that I was willing to stand, okay sit, in line for several hours, turns out it was a good thing that I arrived when I did, I was about the fortieth person in line, I would have to guess that by the time I was done buying my iPad2 there had to have been at least three hundred people in line at Southdale.

Well, it has been a few weeks since it was released and I must say that I am enjoying the device.  I find that that I am checking out Twitter, Facebook and catching up on the news with it.  Flipboard is defiantly one of my favorite applications, I really like that way that it pulls in my Google Reader as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts in a great magazine style format.  I also, played with GarageBand which is cool and for me not being a musician by any means, it was fun to play with and heck, someday I might even get something good out of it.  There have been a number of other applications that I have played with and I will write about those in the future.

The Clintons Want to Go Big & Play Mini Golf w/ Taylor Swift

Over the last year or so I found the Clintons Band they are an independent band that produces music that I really enjoy.  I have all of their CDs, heck some I even own multiple copies of.  They are in the process of recording a new Album and are in need of some funding for it.  More information can be found on the Kickstarter project page.

Why do stores have different prices in store and online?

Why do some stores feel it necessary to have different prices in their stores and online when I can order online and pickup my purchase in the store.  Today I decided I was going to stop by Best Buy and check out the Beats By Dr. Dre Solo HDs as the reviews of the new model were looking promising online.  When I got to the store I discovered that they were marked $219.99 as opposed to the $199.99 that there were on the web site for.  So, I decided to play with them and see what I thought anyway.  I thought about it for a bit and decided that I was going to get them, but I opted to head home and order online to get the better rate, not to mention that I would get more of a cash back bonus if I bought them my Discover card shopping site.  I know that if I had pushed the issue in the store I would have gotten the priced matched without it being too big of a deal as they have done that for me before.  I guess the lesson to be learned from this is to shop around including the website of the of the brick and mortar store that you are shopping at, it can pay off.

General Update

Well, it has been a very long time since I have even looked at my site, let alone written anything on it.  I can’t believe that we are already the the second half of October already, where did the summer go?  Work had keep my busy over the last several months and that is good and bad.  One thing for sure is that it really makes time fly.

Several technology related items have changed around here over the course of the summer and the fall.  The main one is that I bought a Mac again after not having had one in more than ten years, I must say I do like it.  I am also using Aperture on it for my photo management.  It has been nice to get all of my photos in to one single location.  I still have a lot to learn about how to put the power of Aperture to use for me.  Also, I have added some new lenses to my camera kit, some F2.8 lenses are now in my kit.  I have not had many opportunities to shoot recently, but I hope to be able to put them to good use in the near future.  Also, the MythTV system is no longer operational and has been replaced by a couple of DirecTV DVRs.  Comcast is going all digital in our area and that made the MythTV option much less desirable, so after some research we made the switch.  Overall, much less to maintain that MythTV, but also less flexible.  I do miss some of the features of MythTV, but it sure is nice to be watch and record so many more cable channels in HD.

I think that covers what I have been up to for the last several months while I have been neglecting my web site more than normal.  Don’t forget to check out some of my photos in my gallery.