Friday, July 16, 2021

DIY End Fed Antenna Mistakes and Success

 A rite of passage of every ham is building our own antenna and as my first test, I picked an end-fed antenna kit from the ARRL shop.  This was my first kit and the first time soldering in long time so I expected some mistakes along the way.  However, some of the mistakes were made due to the instructions in On the Air magazine missing some steps or not clear.

The biggest mistake was to not remove the enamel on the wire before soldering it to the connectors.  I discovered this with my trusty multimeter.  I had to unsolder the connections, scrape of the enamel and resolder. 

An amateur soldering issue was that I touched the case with the iron several times and it melted the rim.  I had to clean up the rim in order to get the lid on again.

I found that the HF Kits instructions were better, especially when making the external connections.

Overall, it was a fun project and I will surely build more antennas in the future.

Primary side connections and counterpoise

Monday, July 05, 2021

Independence Day Weekend

We had some relatives in town for the Independence Day weekend so did some San Diego type activities.  We headed to Moonlight Beach; it was overcast but still nice.  On Sunday, we went to the zoo.  Most of the animals were active and we saw the feeding for the cheetah's, Fennec foxes and wombat.  Lastly, we caught the Del Mar Fair fireworks.  Good times!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

ARRL FIeld Day 2021 in Village Park

 2021 was my first ARRL Field Day.  I set up in the greenbelt in Village Park.  There was a table for my gear and some nearby trees to string up my antenna.  I used a 40m dipole and a multi band Wolf River vertical coil.  Using a battery and transmitting at 100W, I was able to hear most of the Western US but was only to make contacts in California and Nevada.  Looks like I need to work on transmitting more.

Field Day

Monday, June 21, 2021

Shooting around Southern California

Sporting clays at Raahauges in Corona.  They have a great set of stations.  Worth the drive!

Trying the new 20 gauge pump action.

Combat Steel at Rainbow range.

Fun combat shoot with Oceanside Pistol at Iron Sights.

Father's Day 2021

Awesome Father's Day weekend as my parents made their first trip to California since moving to Tucson.

Spent Saturday at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum with my dad and my son.  AGSEM is a great place and I am glad they are back in action.

Petting zoo

Flywheel of an engine that used to at the Holly Sugar plant in Santa Ana.

Not too many open spaces left in San Diego.

 On Sunday we went to the range to shoot the Lee Enfield No. 4 and the AR.


No. 4


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Green Power Math

Short and concise assessment of the impossible math of going totally "green" and getting rid of fossil fuels.

When I first read it I was curious about the 1.7 PWh of fossil fuel usage and how the author got that number.  By using the first data source reference, you get the energy consumption of CA in 2019.  Adding the first 7 rows which are the fossil fuels, you get 5.7 trillion BTU's.  Converting that to Wh gives you 1.7 PWh.
Note that motor fuel accounts for 1.7 trillion BTU's.  So just replacing all cars and trucks would need 30% of the added power generation.  I.e. one nuclear plant every 9 weeks from now until 2030.  Sounds doable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Burnt Rancheria Campout

 For our May troop family campout we headed back up to Mount Laguna and the Burnt Rancheria campground.  I enjoy Burnt Rancheria as the sites are very large and there seems to be less generating-running RV's and beer-swilling yahoos.  We had a great hike along the Desert View trail, saw a few PCT'ers and had nice campfire.  Saturday night was super windy but otherwise the weather was great.

One sad note is that it seems Mt. Laguna Sports and Supply is closed.  Note sure for how long but I always liked that place.

Walking into town

Great day along the Sunrise Highway

Trusty Hyundai and Trailer

Tent does great in the wind

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Firearms of Freedom

Jyoti shooting the rifles that won World War II.

M1 Garand, Springfield M1903A3, Lee Enfield No 4

Monday, April 26, 2021

March FrogX Carbine Training

In March, I had the opportunity to attend a great carbine training course at a private range with some great former operators instructing.  Next class is in June.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Green Valley Campout

The troop headed back to Cuyamaca and Green Valley campground.  We haven't been to the campground for several years and it was good to get back.  In the meantime, the state has improved the handicapped sites and most of the sites are a bit overgrown with grass and bushes.  The falls were flowing nicely and I am sure they will be crowded as the weather heats up.  We also did the Airplane Monument trail and saw a fair amount of flowers.

Upper Green Valley Falls

Airplane Monument

My trusty tent

Lower Green Valley Falls



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Grand Canyon Down and Up Overnighter

One of my bucket list hikes has been to trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  We had a trip scheduled last year that was canceled due to events beyond my control.  So this year I grabbed a permit and was determined to make the trip.

Jyoti and I drove out Wednesday morning and arrived near the south entry gate in about 8 1/2 hours.  There was a long line to get in that was backed up to Tusayen.  After paying, we made a quick stop at the closed visitor center to get a first glimpse of the canyon then drove over to the Yavapai Lodge to check in.  We were surprised how many people were there especially many of the rim hotels were still closed for winter.

After waking up and eating some breakfast we drove over to the backcountry office.  The shuttles were not on normal schedules but they had hiker express buses that left in the mornings to the South Kaibab Trailhead.  Arriving at the trailhead, we squared away our gear and headed down the South Kaibab trail. We quickly ran into ice covering the trail.  Since it was pretty steep, all the hikers were having issues getting a grip.  One one stretch we glissaded down on our butts.  Luckily this lasted only about a half mile and we back on dirt and rocks.  We cruised easily downhill to our first stop at Cedar Ridge.  We cruised another segment down to Tipoff Point.  From there the trail got steeper as we headed into the inner gorge.  We were both getting a bit tired at this point and started slowing down.  We eventually got to the Black Bridge and crossed the Colorado River.

Once in Bright Angel Canyon, we scouted out the campground for a good spot.  We found one that was near the creek and had some shade.  It is surprisingly hot down at the bottom and if we didn't have a nice breeze it would have been unpleasant.  After setting up camp, we explored Phantom Ranch and the area.  The mule rides were still running and the ranch looked to be on limited service although the canteen only had window service for limited snacks.  After a nice dinner, we went down for an early night.

Next morning, we ate breakfast, broke camp and headed out for the long trip up Bright Angel Trail.  We crossed over Silver Bridge and then took the River Trail for a bit to get to the canyon that the trail followed up.  As we wound our way uphill, we had to dodge lots of runners doing the rim-to-rim thing.  The trail followed the creek steadily up but then got really steep at the Devils Corkscrew section.  The it was a nice hike along the creek again into Indian Gardens.  We stopped there to rest, eat and fill up on water.  The next mile or so was mostly in the sun and it was a bit warm.  Then the switchbacks started as we trudged into 3 mile rest stop. We were now getting worn out and making only 1.5 mph but that was plenty up the steep trail.  There were loads of people happily cruising downhill that were in for a shock when they turned around.  We took another break at 1.5 mile rest stop to add a layer as it was getting colder and also mentally prepare for the ice.  Luckily it was later in the day so most of the ice was turning to mud but there were a few dicey spots.  It is also much easier going uphill on ice.  We finally reached the top after 7 1/2 hours which is a good time.

We checked back into the Yavapai Lodge, took showered then searched for food.  There were tons of people and not many places were open.  We finally got takeout from El Tovar and some drinks at the Yavapai Tavern.  Sleep was welcome.

Once the sun came up, we saw an elk right outside our room.  I then took a quick walk out to the rim for one last look, then we drove home.

At the top of South Kaibab trail

Icy trail

Great views to the north rim

All smiles at Cedar Ridge

Tipoff Point

Down the inner gorge

Crossing Black Bridge

Our camp at Bright Angle Campground

Bright Angel Creek

Crossing Silver Bridge

Waterfall along the trail

A bit more to go

Almost there

Almost there

Ice going uphill


Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Joshua Tree - Indian Cove Campout

We finally got a campout together with the troop!  We headed up to Joshua Tree NP and the Indian Cove campground.  Jyoti came along as well for her first trip to JT. We got great weather, sunny during the day and cold at night.

Hiking Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill

Joshua Tree - one of many

Indian Cove campsite 99


Monday, February 15, 2021

Jackson Flat Snow Camp

Since HALT classes have been canceled for the year, Rich and I decided on an overnighter in the local mountains.  Due to some recent storms we were confident of snow coverage in the San Gabriels.  We drove up to Grassy Hollow via Wrightwood.  It was good to see Mt. High ski area open with plenty of snow.  We made it through all the snow play folks and parked alongside the road at the Grassy Hollow ranger station. We geared up and started hiking up the road to Jackson Flat.  Rich towed the sled and I walked in my snowshoes.  However the road was pretty sparsely covered and were grinding our gear pretty good.  The campground had plenty of snow thankfully and we found a good spot near one of the group sites.  The wind made it pretty cold so after dinner we hunkered down in the tent for a long night.  In morning, we made some coffee and quickly broke camp.  Overnight a slight dusting of snow covered the road a bit more but also added quite a bit of ice.  It was great trip and good to get out with friends.

North Face four season tent is rock solid

Didn't have to dig out a table

Morning dusting

Mt. Baden-Powell from Jackson Flat

This sled was retired after this trip

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

More San Diego Hikes

 Jyoti and I have been getting in some good local hikes:

  • Daley Ranch Engelmann Oak Loop - nice hike especially when you get off the main trail
  • Stanley Peak - fairly long and strenuous but worth it
  • Boden Canyon - nice secluded oak-lined canyon 
  • Fletcher Point - great spot along Lake Hodges
  • Double Peak - surprisingly hard hike and crowded

Along the Engelmann Oak Loop

Summit of Stanley Peak

Fletcher Point trail run

Summit of Double Peak

Snack time in Boden Canyon