Archive for January 2007

Drake R4C wins

January 13, 2007

Over the years I have had a variety of communications equipment. Some of the gear was all tube type, other gear was all solid state. There has always been some controversy regarding performance when tube gear is compared to solid state. Tube gear is supposed to have a much better signal to noise ratio when compared to solid state.

Currently I can play with three rigs. One is an ICOM 737, one is a Kenwood TS-120, and the last is a Drake C-line. The 737 is the more capable of the three and thus, it gets used almost without consideration to the other equipment. At least that has been the situation here for the better part of the last few years.

Ham activity here has been reduced somewhat to weekends and evenings. The only sure activity is on 75 meters on Sunday mornings where I have been keeping a schedule for the last 20 years. This evening I decided to change out antennas and fire up the Drake C-line on 75 meters. At the same time I also fired up the old 737 on the same band for comparison but had to use the 40 meter dipole as the antenna.

The first thing I noticed was that the S-meter was messed up again. Well I don’t ever remember an S-meter that was able to provide better copy, so I ignored it. I left the R4C on while I continued to work on the new mythtv installation on the computer.

It was getting into early evening and 75 meter activity was beginning to pick up. Signals were starting to come in, some with a fair amount of strength. I continued monitoring the band for about three hours and noticed how remarkably quiet the band was. That rushing, frying, noise I had become accustomed to on the 737 was much subdued.

I don’t have the equipment to measure the difference in performance, but my ears tell me there is a significant advantage to receiving signals on the Drake R4C. Now I am happy about not selling the Drake C-line after all.

Debian Etch

January 11, 2007

It was working so well too.

I have been using Debian Etch now for a number of weeks. Recently I decided to load it onto an additional two computers. I used the same netinstall CD I had used for a prior install but the install failed. The failure was an Xwindows server problem. Actually, there were several Xwindows server problems. The mouse and kbd modules could not be found and the sim links to the font files lead to never land.

I figured it was something having to do with the stuff that was downloaded after the base system was installed. Either the Xwindow package got hosed or the installation program got hosed. I was more interested in installing Debian on the new computers than I was interested in troubleshooting something that broke for no reason. So I downloaded the first full .iso file for CD number 1 and burned a disk. Then used that disk to start a new installation.

That worked. I still don’t know why it worked or why the netinstall failed. At least now I have an installation disk that can’t be screwed with.

USB Pen

January 6, 2007

Several months ago my son-in-law presented me with a 128mb flash memory device. The idea is to plug it in to a usb port and instantly get 128mb of quick, removeable, storage.

128mb is not really large enough to serve as a system device , but it is plenty to turn a marginal 64mb, memory limited machine into something useful.

Just use the usb flash as memory by assigning it the windows swap file location or make it the swap partition in a Linux application.

Works well and is just as good as adding an additional 128mb of ram.

WD Passport

January 1, 2007

Hard go believe it is a new year again. I guess it is actually the first day of the first month of a new year.

Got to hope this year will be different but I have a feeling it will be much like most years before it. The same people making fools of themselves, the same militants seeking to destroy the opposition, the same criminally insane claiming God speaks to them, in short SSDD. Or in this case SSDY.

Ah but there is a silver lining to those dark clouds. I got lots of toys for Christmas. Carrying bags for the iBook, a nice robe, a nice red cap that has a Durango label across the top, a nice pullover that appears to be made of fleece, an assortment of used hard drives varying from 8gig to 60gig in size, lots of fine lesser gifts, and a Western Digital Passport.

I have been cursing XP for so long I have forgotten that it can be a very nice chunk of software at times. Passport installation was a matter of plugging it into one of the USB 2.0 ports and booting the computer. After logging on I got a balloon message telling me windows found new hardware. Some time later, I got another balloon message telling me that windows had installed the new hardware.

No problems at all and no need to find drivers, or load software, or howl at the full moon. My first thought was that XP is not so bad after all. After reflecting on that for a few seconds it suddenly became clearer to me why I dislike most Microsoft stuff.

Balloon messages are not only childish, they are also worthless. Hence they have no redeeming features or rights to exist.  I find it troubling  that Microsoft continues to waste my time and computer resources on useless triviality while apparently forgetting to tell me about things that matter.   I did not need the computer to tell me it found new hardware. After all, I was the one who installed it. Then, if it was going to automatically load the required drivers why tell me about it. I got better things to do than watch a computer pat itself on the back.

This is the sort of annoying, needy, activity one often finds in people who are so hopelessly incompetent that they have to take out full page ads in the paper to let the world know when they stumble across something they have done correctly.

At least that is my take on the situation.

Now the Passport is quite a different story. It looks to be built around a 2.5 inch drive and I have no idea where they put those 120gig of data. Having had mixed results when using Western Digital products in the past, I just hope the thing lasts long enough for me to be able to fill the drive more than once.