EchoStation

I was looking for announcement software for the 146.680 repeater. I currently have EchoLink running on my desktop and connected to my radio. This seems to work quite well but, there is no way to make EchoLink do announcements. So, after looking up EchoStation, and actually trying it out, I paid the big dollars ($19) because it is one of the few pieces of HAM software that actually WORKS! Yep, easy to set up, easy to use, etc.

Then I discovered that it’s a bit limited in to what it can announce – only static announcements! Jeez, I need it to announce the time and stuff and there was no way it would do this. I discovered that it uses separate .txt files to hold the announcements in. SO, I fired up VB6 and made a form and some timers and PRESTO. It now does: current time, weather, weather alerts, club announcements, random stuff at 1/4 hours and more. And, it’s only “slightly” cumbersome.

Since EchoStation is $19, I figure I can charge $5 for my add-on and maybe make a little cash. I do use EchoStation as a DTMF decoder (that beats the module I was going to buy for $127) so that’s a savings of over $100. And EchoStation also includes an “auto patch” (make phone calls over the repeater) feature so that’s a nice bonus. All in all, a pretty good deal.

Puppy

We got a new puppy here at the ugg/ibq residence. She’s a Yorkie/Havanese mix (although she’s ALL terrier!). I personally have never had a dog from the puppy stage so it’s a bit of a new experience for me. Aside from the normal “accidents”, this dog is a joy! Full of energy with a delightful personality, we just love this little doggie. I’ve been trying to teach her how to play soccer and she’s been wearing ME out in the process. Lol. She’s also a bit on the mischievous side. When we’re playing catch or whatever she stops and pretends she’s looking the other way but she’s well aware when you come up to her to grab her ball or whatever. And she has found virtually every stick and scrap in the yard.

At any rate, the CAT is less than pleased. He used to be the “only one” and feels a bit upstaged (yes, he told me). But, since he lives outside all summer, he’s not been too bothered – yet. The fact that he now lives in my radio room when he’s not outside (and no, the dog isn’t allowed in there) eases his pain a bit I’m sure. In fact, he even wiggles to the back of my chair and allows “sharing”. Wow. What a guy eh?

So, I just thought I’d pass this news along to my faithful followers. I know how happy you’ll be 😉

Some People

Today we went to where the better halfs’ parents have their trailer for sale. It’s in a pretty nice park and the trailer/lot is quite nice as well. Unfortunately, it is for sale as the trip (5 to 6 hours) is just getting too much for them. Anyways, a couple wanted to have a look at it today so we all went there. When I went to show them the fire pit in behind the trailer, lo and behold, it was gone! Now, this “fire pit” is just an old truck wheel that we bought at the recycling place for like $20. Still, it was somewhat embarrassing. After they left we went for a little search mission. We found it – two trailer sites down. Too bad there was nobody there. I took it back to our site and re-installed it in it’s original position. I also left a note: “We took our fire pit back. You can buy your own at Sydenham Recycling. Good try though :)”. Hopefully that will be enough to deter them from displacing anyone else’s property. Seriously, that’s lame. What do you think?

 

Email

Have you ever sent an email and not heard anything back for hours – possibly days or weeks? Am I the only one who has a smartphone? One would think in this day and age, when you send an important email (read: time sensitive) out to a group about something near and dear to the hearts of that group, you could expect at least one response the same day. But, when you’re talking about hams, that is rarely the case. One would also think that hams, being technically inclined, would have embraced the newest technologies. Sadly, that is not the case. I know hams who don’t even have an email address. And email isn’t exactly new. See: http://ve3ugg.com/2013/11/computer-use/  Internet access isn’t that costly anymore and the benefits of having the internet far outweigh the benefits of NOT having internet access. Again, the whole badge of honor thing.

I still see people lined up at the bank (and other venues) to pay their bills. Seriously, pay them online. By the time you’ve walked to your car in the driveway, I’ve done all my banking! It’s very easy to do. Just get any 12 year old to set it up for you. It drives me nuts to see people at the bank machine depositing one bill at a time but, at least they are trying. I sometimes explain to them they they can put all their bills in a single envelope and do it all at once. But no, they put in their card, enter their PIN, grab an envelope, jam the bill in, seal it, enter the amount, and return their card. Then do it all over again for the next one. While the lineup of people gets longer and longer. I just want to take out $100 – a 30 second transaction. Now I just get cashback at the WalMart.

I’m on Facebook. I have an Android phone. And a laptop. And yes, I AM CANADIAN!

Deck Addition

Last year we built a 12×12(ish) deck behind our house. This deck took the place of a falling down “room”  and the whole project took quite some time as the time and effort to demolish the “room” was a lot more than we planned. At any rate, it was my first deck building project and it turned out very well. Also last year myself and my brother-in-law built a deck at the in-laws trailer site. It was complete with railings, stairs and a wheelchair ramp.

This last week – after building a very decent fence – I decided to extend our deck another 80 square feet. This deck turned out as good as the first! I use bolts in the corners and screws everywhere. The first deck did not have railings and the extension needed railings as it is a bit higher. So, after approx. 3 days of work – largely on my own – I am done. We now have over 200 sq feet of amazing deck space. I will admit that I did sacrifice accuracy for safety but having said that, its accurate to +/- 2 inches so I’m ok with that. It’s more or less level and it matched up with the “old” deck quite well. It’s extremely robust and I’m sure would “hold an elephant”. Plenty safe for a few hams anyway 🙂

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Compensating HAMs

It’s amazing though how cheap some hams are and how generous others can really be. I was involved in some club projects and they cost me some money out of pocket. For instance, I/we drove out to several sites (some fairly distant) to check the viability of putting a repeater there.  Nobody on the project ever mentioned the mileage.

And our awesome power supplies. The project manager put many, many hours into the project from design to build. He oversaw every aspect and donated so much shrink tubing that he just stopped counting. Not to mention hookup wire, grommets, solder, etc, etc, etc. On the other hand,  the chap that went to pick up the aluminum for the cases asked to be reimbursed $30 for gas – even though he was already going to the retailer to buy aluminum for another of his personal projects. Lame.

Don’t get me wrong, if the club needs to do something major (like replacing a repeater controller for instance) I would certainly consider that a club expense. I wouldn’t charge the club to install it or gas money to test the range though. And, if I needed a connector or an audio cable, I would just get one and “get ‘r done”.

Perhaps I should be asking for money myself but I look at it like this: it is my hobby. Why should others pay for my indulgence in a hobby? Nobody forced this chap to get the aluminum sheeting – he volunteered. And, he was going there anyways! Crazy shit. Possibly I’ve been spoiled by my long time IRC channel where we are always asking questions (or answering them to the best of our abilities). I doubt anyone there has ever even thought about charging anyone else for, well, anything.

Ok, thanks. I feel much better now 🙂

 


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