We got the ‘home learning’ basics from the school today. For our 11 year old I will pick up his learning materials from the school Saturday morning. I assume they will toss them through the window from 6’ away 😉 The teen will just use her existing e-learning tool, Canvas.👍🏼

Today’s distraction: construction of a dipole antenna for the 20m band. It’s made out of some speaker wire, an SO-239 and a bit of Lexan I had laying around for an insulator.

Tested it in the backyard and ✅


Texas redbud blossoms felled by the daily storms. 📷

Self medicating 🍷 📷

In about 30 minutes our school district, which has been closed for 2 weeks now, will announce what’s next. I strongly hope they are going to give homework assignments even if it is optional. People need something to focus their minds on (kids and parents). 🏫

I got out for some exercise in between waves of rain this morning. Our little creek is being quite the overachiever. 📷

Well this is certainly a ray of sunshine. No idea if our glorious government is working to produce or acquire this.

China: Avigan effective in tackling coronavirus - NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

We discovered last night we should have bought milk when I did the shopping yesterday so I made a early morning visit to the grocery store today. With the exception of toilet paper everything was in good supply even things like bacon which were out yesterday. Also everyone calm.

This is a great time to say again that I am so thankful I have a wife who loves to cook and has a tremendous repertoire. 👩‍🍳

Just pre-ordered Animal Crossing for the Switch. Should be good medicine for kids and adults in a few days. 🕹

From today’s outdoor exercise.

Status: trees don’t care, birds don’t care, squirrels and rabbit’s don’t care. Still waiting on word from the bobcat. 🌳 📷

I did some routine grocery shopping this morning. It was a bit busier than normal but calm and all the usual employees were there. I’m sure the news would highlight a few shelves that were nearly empty but the true story is there was plenty of all types of food available.

If Nintendo allowed transparent portability of game saves across multiple Switches I’d buy a second one for this period of isolation. As it is, no. We’ll just have to keep sharing one. 🕹

Our weather isn’t making this self-isolation thing particularly easy. Cloudy and rainy every day until Saturday. We’re not used to that kind of weather and it won’t help people’s mindset. 🌧

Yesterday a drive in the country, today we started a jigsaw puzzle.

Note: the table we use came via my grandparents. I estimate it is around 80 years old. The top isn’t painted it is a printed image applied to the wood.

Since we’re in seclusion for now my wife decided we should take a drive in the countryside to get out of the house and forestall the blues. It was very moody and foggy weather that fit the circumstances and we enjoyed it a lot.

I can already tell this ‘distancing’ thing is going to lead to weight gain if I don’t pay attention. So much time in the house leads me to snack and be lazy. My wife is feeling very cautious. I mainly find it annoyingly inconvenient (though appropriate guidance).

Welp, our school district and the ones adjoining it just decided to extend spring break for one more week. So no school for the kids next week.

I noticed more people on the jogging trail today. I wonder if that’s tied to more folks working from home? 🏫

So Italy announced _ that only pharmacies, groceries and stores selling ‘essential items’ will remain open to the public_.

Where do liquor stores fall into this? Groceries? Essential items? Asking for a friend. 🙃

I earned two levels of FCC licensing for amateur radio and I’m really enjoying it. I started blogging my journey with the first two entries on VHF/UHF equipment choices. I’ll periodically summarize future posts here.

Operating portable on VHF/UHF

Basestation setup for VHF/UHF

Basestation setup for VHF/UHF

The typical rubber ducky and whip antennas included with VHF/UHF handheld transceivers (see previous post here) are inherently inefficient and perform even worse when used indoors, often to the point of being useless. They are generally also limited to 5W of transmit power. For repeater and simplex operation indoors at a minimum an external antenna is needed and a bit more power is helpful as well. For this reason a typical next step for a new ham, after a handheld, is to get a mobile transceiver and install an antenna. Mobile transceivers are commonly used as basestation radios but are also useful when mobile in cars as well as for portable operation during emergencies or just when having fun in a park.

Although I gave a little consideration to an ICOM mobile radio I pretty quickly settled on an inexpensive Yaesu model, the FTM-7250, as it generally has more features for the price and includes a digital mode called C4FM with WIRES-X. More on this digital mode in a later post but a cool benefit is the ability to talk to other radio users anywhere in the world. FTM-7250

I spent a lot more time determining what antenna to get because, frankly, the antenna is more important than the radio. VHF/UHF antennas range from cheap to very expensive and from small to quite large and complex. In multiple instances I’ve seen that objective values show that the more complex antennas actually perform worse. So after many hours digging up data I decided to go with a DBJ-1 J-pole made by Dr. Fong. He is well known for his antenna and RF research and has published a number of papers on the subject of VHF/UHF antennas. He created a simple operation to sell antennas at-cost with the proceeds going to support his students. Once I had narrowed down my choice I emailed him about my purchase and in our email exchanges he proved to be extremely helpful and kind. I consider myself fortunate to have seen a live presentation by him on antenna design, delivered via Skype from his home, a couple of weeks ago. He explained things in simple language and even hams of long experience learned more about antenna design.

The J-Pole is installed in our attic with a coax run to my study. An outdoor installation would perform better but isn’t allowed by our HOA. My setup is more than sufficient to talk on the local repeaters using only 5W or 10W (the Yaesu can use up to 50W when needed). I’m happy with both the radio and antenna and have no plans for changes. And I’m enjoying talking to local operators.

Next post: My first HF radio

We did our weekly grocery shopping today. TP is not in short supply here but I did see a sign saying limit 2 multi-packs per person. I’m glad to see folks aren’t hoarding. And hopefully they’re prepared.

It may be tiny but is a welcome harbinger of spring. 📷 🌸

The flower is barely bigger than my thumb.

Last year: “We were lazy and didn’t even leave the house today”

This year: “We self-quarantined”

Does anyone know if I’m using the Timeline category to control my feed but forget include it on a post, if I edit the post to add the category will it get picked up for the timeline❓