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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Keep Austin weird...

Steven Anthony Garza
An Austin man is facing charges after police say he tossed a drone and a ham radio over the fence because he was tired of his neighbor “getting in his head.”

Steven Anthony Garza faces an assault charge in connection with the incident. According to the arrest affidavit filed by Austin Police, Garza stormed into Matthew Hammons’ yard while Hammons was using his amateur radio equipment to talk with his father. Hammons told police Garza charged him while making gestures indicating he was looking to fight. Hammons told officers Garza first broke his radio’s antenna and then headbutted him; Hammons went inside.

While inside his home, Hammons told police he watched as Garza threw his Yaesu 857-D radio and a personal DJI Phantom drone over the fence causing $4,000 in damage.

More of the story here: http://bit.ly/1vKTVcf

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wouxun.us no longer selling (some) Wouxun radios

It seems that US/China relations are a bit rocky for Import Communications, the distributor for Wouxun radios...until now.

PD0AC reports that Ed Griffin (W4KMA) at Import Communications has been unhappy with the support that the Wouxun - pronounced "Oh-sheng" - folks have provided (or rather haven't provided) concerning an issue with the HT's apparently losing their memories at random, among other issues. As a result, he's no longer selling new inventory of Wouxun radios and will be replacing them with AnyTone products, but still under the competitor's site's name.

The (less-than-flattering) message on Wouxun.us's web site
Griffin reports that the Wouxun dual-band models lose memory without warning and that he has replaced approximately 500 radios out of pocket because Wouxun refuses to honor warranties or fix the issue, or replace the defective radios.


What you see when clicking on the KG-UV6D page on Wouxun.us

When you go to Wouxun.us you get a couple of less-than-flattering messages with a message stating that Wouxun radios will no long be sold, but accessories will. The prices that are supposedly "closeout" are about the same prices I paid when I bought my 2 KG-UV2D radios at 2 different hamfests.

While there is no clear distinction as to whether the memory issue is exclusively with the handheld radios or also with their mobile radios, I did notice that the dual-band mobile is no longer offered on the Wouxun.us site. The high price might have had a bit to do with that. Considering the relatively low price of the HT's, I thought that the dual-band mobile radio would have been under $200, but the $360+ price tag kept me away. I could buy plenty of other mobile radios for a lot less. Their quad-band mobile is also not appearing on the site, although the KG-UVA1 dual-band amateur/public service radio is still being offered, as is the KG-703E single-band VHF radio.

While I can sympathize with Griffin if indeed the radios are defective, the graphics used on the site are a bit over the top when trying to make a statement. But then again, I probably would be doing the same thing if the Chinese counterparts I relied on for service and support were treating me the same way.

PD0AC updated that a European distributor of Wouxun radios sold about 500 radios and only had 1 radio with the issue that Import Communications is reporting.

Wouxun came onto the scene a few years ago offering new radios at remarkably low prices, about $110 give or take $10. However, the last few hamfests I've attended, nary a Wouxun was in sight, replaced instead by an even lower-priced Baofeng radio series that has been offering many of the same features for about $50. The only reason I didn't buy one was because they had 2m/440, and not 2m/220.

I own 2 of the KG-UV2D radios with 2m/220 capability and the only problem I've encountered has been that one of the battery packs is now not holding a charge. Other than that I've had no issues with the radios. I don't know if this is isolated to a certain batch of radios that came of the assembly line or with an entire product line, but as this plays out I'm sure we'll find out more about this issue.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

RIP Comet ISON (2012-2013)

It appears that the much-hyped Comet ISON (officially designated C/2012 S1) that was expected to put on a spectacular nighttime show for the last few weeks of 2013 will not occur, as the nearly mile-wide comet has all but completely disintegrated after its flyby past the Sun on Thanksgiving Day.

Passing 684,000 miles from the sun, not even the immense size was enough to keep it intact as it sped past the Sun last Thursday. 

As it flew away, ISON was thought to have been disintegrated but then gave observers a glimpse of hope as it grew brighter moving farther from the Sun. However, it began to quickly fade yet again the further it went.

Time-lapse of ISON's flyby
of the Sun (Space.com)
Some scientists had predicted that ISON could have been the "comet of the century", perhaps even brighter than the moon...if it survived its flyby, that is.

After 2011's flyby of Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) gave viewers in the southern hemisphere a spectacular show for weeks afterward, hopes were high that ISON (named after a Russian observatory that discovered it in 2012) would be a spectacle for viewers in the northern hemisphere.

Comet ISON came from the Oort Cloud, an icy body of comet material far outside the boundaries of our solar system. Comets coming from this cloud may take thousands of years to orbit the Sun, or possibly never return.

So while ISON may have not survived its fiery plunge into our star, there is another comet that is around to give you a show. Another comet also named Lovejoy (C/2013 R1, not the one that passed in 2011) is visible in the northeast sky near dawn. So wake up early, grab some binoculars, and put on a jacket and take a glimpse.

Comet Lovejoy's path through December (EarthSky.org)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A movie short about Radio Hams, circa 1939

Taken from the description on Youtube:

This little vintage film, a rather more serious film than many of Pete Smith's other presentations, takes a look at how ham radios can become priceless aids during emergencies. The two stories shown, one dealing with the sudden illness of noted movie Cameraman Clyde de Vinna (W6OJ), the other with a missing plane where the ham operator (Wilbur Crane, unknown callsign) and the pilot of the search craft ended up getting killed after running out of fuel searching for another missing plane over the Atlantic, are bookended by a humorous look at a typical three-generation family's fascination with their ham radio. 
  

BTW: Are they tapping out "BS" in Morse Code at the 33-seconds mark?


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wayne Green, W2NSD "Never Say Die" is now dead

I just found out Wayne Green passed away recently. He was 91 years of age. You may recall I posted about an "exchange" we had a while back about his old magazine, 73. It didn't go very well and my naivete had a bit to do with that.

While I admitted I was never fond of him, I will admit he was a character. He was a guest on Art Bell's old syndicated overnight radio show "Coast to Coast" (now hosted by George Noory) before Bell "retired" and recently popped up on SiriusXM with a new show starting last week called "Dark Matter". He did have a knack for keeping ahead of the curve on computers and packet radio and the age-old philosophy of building your equipment from the ground up. He also had some outrageous opinions about the paranormal and supernatural, and about technologies that are currently in the realm of science fiction, but moving closer to science fact.

He was a visionary, to say the least.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

CB is now ham radio?

Velveeta made a commercial for their Shells N' Cheese product and it features "that guy that's got a ham radio in his basement", except the radios it features are CB radios! See for yourself:


At the end of the 15-second spot there's a radio to the lower left that looks like a Yaesu / Vertex radio (maybe an 857-D) but it's too obscure and out of focus to be sure.

Nevertheless, it's nice to see the radio hobby/art/pasttime get a bit of publicity, even if it is 11 meters...

And the record, I had my fill of Mac and Cheese growing up, and I'll be damned if I eat another bowl of it. My kids on the other hand...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Off-topic: We get it, Miley!

Sorry to waste my ham radio aficionados' time, but I've been wanting to say this for a while now:

Dear Miley Cyrus:

WE GET IT! Okay? We realize you're not 15 years old anymore. We get it that you don't have that cheerful Disney attitude to your demeanor anymore, that you're not all fresh and pure as the wind-driven snow, and that you're not the same girl MY kids grew up with.

We get that you don't want to be stereotyped into that innocent, sweet girl persona, that you want the world to realize you are not Hannah Montana anymore. We even get that you're not even the mild-mannered Miley Stewart, the "real world" alter-ego of Montana.

We get it that you are not that teen who sold millions of dollars worth of Hannah Montana merchandise, like t-shirts, pajamas, backpacks, notebooks, jewelry, hair care products, toy microphones, shoes...the list goes on.  I should know, since I purchased much of this with my hard-earned money to satiate my kids' appetite for all things Miley.

So now we parents of 'tweens who were the fanbase for who you WERE must now work to try and discuss with our kids about who you now ARE and what you have apparently come to be. It's not like it's a big deal, really. I mean, you "retired" from Hannah what, 2 years ago? You've pretty much dropped off the radar in the life of a short-attention-spanned childhood and kids simply move on to the "next big thing" just as quick. I think this One Direction thing is the new fad, right? Well, they all but forgot until the VMA's this past Sunday.

Seriously? Is this what you want to be? Is this Miley all grown up? Fine, be whatever you want to be, sing what you want to sing, dress however you want to dress, even if it is like a prostitute. Like the saying goes, dress for the job you want...

If that's what you think will earn you metric tons of more money then by all means twerk away. And thanks for introducing the world to twerking, by the way. I had no idea what it was until this stunt. I shall add it to my lexicon and use it daily in talking to my friends, family, and co-workers. Maybe I'll ask random strangers if they've "twerked" lately. That ought to win friends and influence people.

You do realize that had it not been for the media coverage of this ridiculousness that is the VMAs (I think the last time I watched, Eddie Murphy hosted it) I, nor anyone else would have paid any attention to it. Every year we get treated to some outrageous horseshit that gets people to talk about it for all of a couple of days until the next big attention whore grabs the TMZ spotlight. Usually an over-hyped blowhard with a bad hairdo posing as an entertainer has to interrupt an acceptance speech or two female singers box tonsils on stage, but other than that the VMAs are just another award show no one gives two shits about until publicity stunts like this take center stage.

But I digress, you've moved on from all that teenage silliness. It's time to forget about all that money you raped earned from the kids who followed your every move and you've got to go for a new target audience. You're the millennial version of Opie Cunningham and you want the world to talk about you and only you, not Hannah! You've got to keep it "fresh and real" with your peers so you don't sink into...*gasp* irrelevancy!

Not that I'm surprised, really. For several weeks we've been hearing all about how you have a penchant for marijuana, shortened your hair and even changed the color to get away from that infernally red-headed "Hannah" persona. But this past Sunday should have eliminated any doubt that you want to be tied to that child-star personality from here on out. Yes, Miley, WE GET IT ALREADY!

If anything, it took away from hearing about Lady Gaga, or that N-Sync reunion, or whatever the hell Justin Bieber's doing. Or events going on in Syria for that matter.

Just put your tongue back in your mouth already for God's sake.