Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cutting the cord: FB

My Facebook account is now "suspended".  It was a long time coming.  The many problems of being on Facebook are well known among internet-literate folk, but hard to explain to casual users.

As someone said, "if you can't figure out what the product is, the product is you."  FB makes money by advertising and by using tricky ways to get you to disclose lots of marketable facts about yourself.

The same facts can be used by almost anyone who wants to know something about you.  The most notorious case would be prospective employers, who are known to require you to give up your FB password, so they can see all your history.  No doubt the Federal government has similar interests in your politics or your research into exothermic chemical reactions.

We need to pull out of Facebook.  It's painful, because FB provides some very useful networking with people you want to connect with -- classmates, family, etc.  But it's not enough for me.

There are quite a few other social networking sites.  Yes, they're mostly free and they all share some of the same problems as FB, but that's where I am now.  Try me on Google+ (Martin Ewing) or on Twitter (@AA6E) or talk back to my blog.  I'm active on the ARRL member forum (AA6E), too.

You can suspend your FB account -- a kind of trial separation.  If it still seems wise in a week or two, you can have all your info deleted.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hams allocated 23,350 MHz

The good news: U.S. Radio Amateurs have frequency allocations (primary and secondary) of 23,350 MHz. (Primary allocations add up to 4,791 MHz.)

The less good news: 23,300 MHz of the total is allocated above 1 GHz, but 22,700 MHz of that is above 10 GHz, and 16,750 MHz is above 100 GHz.  Little day-to-day amateur activity takes place above even 1 GHz, but there is important experimentation in these regions.

Just a few tidbits from

By the way, these allocations would support about 7.8 million simultaneous SSB conversations at any given location.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Antenna Woe

I upgraded the AA6E antenna installation just before SuperStorm Sandy.  We pinned the beam to the mast and the mast to the rotator to prevent the slippage that occurred in Irene.  We also put up a Joel Hallas W1ZR style dual band skeleton sleeve-coupled dipole for 80 and 30 M, made from 450 ohm ladder line. (QST May and Oct 2011) All seemed well after Sandy's 60+ mph winds.

I haven't been on the air much since Sandy, while there have been a few biggish wind events and some snow and freezing.  When I went to work 80 and 30 on SKN on New Year's, I found SWRs of 7 and 8 to one.  The antenna is defunct.  But why?  I took photos from the ground, and no problem is yet visible.  (It is most likely an open or a short in the connection to the balun.)

The tower is hard for me to access (20 ft above a 20 ft roof), and I'd like to have a better idea of what has gone wrong before I bring in the work crew.