Sunday, December 9, 2012

Or Wanted a Tablet...

When tablets first came out I thought that I would like one. Along came the Kindles, Nooks and iPad, etc. These tablets are cool, what would I use one for?

Here is what I came up with:
1. Check email without having to crank up the desktop or laptop.
2. Read my Kindle books.
3. Maybe watch a Youtube video that I received a note about.

As you can see the list is not very big. Tablets are nice and light for these tasks. Anything else will really tax the tablet and for what I wanted to initially accomplish these tasks can easily be handle by the tablet.

Recently I came across this interesting article: They Can Hear You Now: Verizon Patent Could Listen In On Customers and this one All Americans’ Emails Are Collected By The FBI, Says NSA Whistleblower or Americans Are The Most Spied On People In World History

Talk about Soviet Russia or even 1984... Wow! Not impressed with the encroachment of my personal correspondence and liberties. What a mess!

Now one question that I asked of myself was what kind of tablet should I get? Which one will allow me to control most of the tablets activities? Is there a way to maintain my privacy? I continued to review my wants and needs...

The tablet I ended up ordering was a Flytouch III. Not as flashy as the iPad or Samsung Galaxy. The Flytouch has Android OS Froyo 2.3.3, 16GB at the time I received it. I have had the tablet for about a year now. The Flytouch does what I need it to do and a little more.

So, what does this table have?
Android Froyo 2.3.3
2 x USB ports
1 RJ54 network jack
1 micro SD slot
10.2" screen
1 GPS antenna connection w/ antenna

Let's see what the likes are and see if I reached my initial goals of getting a tablet.
1. Checks emails, fine, easy configuration. Check.
2. Kindle e-books, loaded, works great. Check.
3. Youtube access, works. Check.
4. Price was right at the time of purchase.

Attach the GPS antenna and drive around to test. Pretty accurate and a nice extra. Wi-Fi can be manually switched off. Don't need a network connection to use navigation feature. Just need the GPS antenna to utilize.

1. You get what you pay for. Construction is good to fairly good. Some folks have issues with the tablet. Check the internet for reviews and comments. But, for me some of the cons were not enough to prevent me from getting one.
2. The audio and WiFi ckt has an isolation issue. I get a bit of noise over the audio channel. But, not bad enough or happening often enough that I cannot understand the audio.
3. Battery life when the WiFi is on will let you go for a few hours.

I have had the Flytouch III for about a year now. Happy with it and it does what I wanted to do. The GPS feature is nice and I have the power adapter for the auto. I can control the internet access with a switch and not worry about the software controlling network access from a remote source. This does not mean that when I finally connect to the internet a log of my activity is not sent anywhere. But, at least the log is not real time.
I clear the cache often and will have to research further to see if that also clears any log data that gets collected. At some point I will root the device to see about cleaning out some of the un-needed utilities.
This tablet may not be for you, but for some it may be just the ticket. Android can be configured to the users needs. Check it out and see if the Flytouch works. I have read the newer generation is much better all around.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

To Get Amazon Kindle for PC Working on Ubuntu 12.04...

On Ubuntu 10.04 I had the Amazon Kindle for PC working well. At the time there was a bit of trouble and had to spend some time hunting up what needed to be done to make it work. Recently I inherited a laptop from my wife and promptly dumped Winoz for Ubuntu 12.04.
The laptop is an HP Pavilion Entertainment PC. Ubuntu 12.04 works well on the the PC and graphics are nice and crisp. So far so good. I wanted to get Kindle for PC working and was having trouble. The configuration for Ubuntu 10.04 is different that what 12.04 used, however slight. I found a couple of useful links that I will place here that will help one get the job done quickly. No need for me to go into any detail as these links provide all the info needed.
I hope this helps someone out and saves them the hassle of banging their head against the wall.

Amazon Kindle for PC

 Remove or Rename a Wine file

The two links above will have you on your way to accessing the Kindle material in no time.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Better Knife Sheath...

My last post was about picking up a durable knife on the cheap. While this knife takes up an edge and holds it well the sheath was only fair. I say fair because the nylon it is made of is feels rather thin. Single stitched around the edges and no keeper strap for the handle. In the past I lost is really good knife because of a lack of a keeper that went around the handle on the top portion of the sheath.
I set about searching the net for a way to make a knife sheath. A lot of the knives in am interested in have a kydex or high impact plastic sheath with rivets or metal joiners. The joiners can be made of steel or aluminum.
I found a really good tutorial on making a knife sheath here: Willow Haven Outdoor.
From there I was lead here: Knife Kits. Off I went and placed the order. Everything arrived promptly. The sheet of Kydex was 12" X 12", big enough for my project.

I measured everything two or three times to make sure I had it sized. I ended up using half the sheet. I don't have a way to secure the rivets nicely. I found that the grommet tool I have was to small or to big to make the finish look nice. No worries there as Knife Kits also sells a proper rivet tool for making a knife sheath. I did not order it, but just wanted to mention it.

Due to the shape of the knife I could not get the belt loop on the sheath itself. I used a piece of Kydex and some joiners I got at the local hardware store to attach it. A little bit of Lok-Tite and wham I have a decent functional knife sheath. The knife snaps right in and is secure.

Below are some pics. Not to bad for my first go at something like this.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Knife the won't break the wallet...

I suppose one has to ask what am I going to use the knife for? For me I am just a person who likes to get out into the woods and wander around. Sometimes I camp, hike, hunt, or I just like the peace and quite.
I was poking around Tractor's Supply the other day and came across a knife in the bargain bin. A full tang drop tip goody and a full 3/16" thick, stainless steel to boot. The edge looked rough, but I figure I could work that into shape without to much trouble. The scales are of wood, not to bad looking if you are one of those who needs a knife to look good. So, I picked one up for 10.00$ to check it out. The knife came with a nylon sheath of fair quality.
When I got home I set to sharpening the knife. Did not take to long to get an edge that would shave the hair off my arm. I wrapped the handle with some cloth friction tape to help with the grip. I add tape with just about every knife I own. The tape also helped with keeping the knife securely in the sheath I discovered. I foresee a problem with drawing the knife with the tape. Since the sheath is flexible two hands will be needed if the tape is left on. A little bit of caution will be needed when drawing the knife. Or I come up with a different sheath to carry the knife. Also, added a bit of small bungi-cord with a retainer as a handle keeper and lanyard.
Tip to tip is 8 3/4", blade is 3 3/4" in length.

The real test will be to take it out into the woods and beat it up a bit. For example how will it perform using to baton some kindling? Will the edge just roll over? I will find out shortly. If it fails I will find a use for it. While it may not be good for extreme camp use I can put a good edge on it to skin the critters. And if it is good enough to skin it will have multiple uses for sure.


Friday, October 19, 2012

To Send an Image or Data without Internet

Let's say there is some sort of disaster where the internet is not working in my area, phones are down, the cellular network generators have run out of fuel and batteries have died. How would one communicate in such an environment?
As of late I have been tinkering with RTTY, Contestia, PSK using my PC and radio. The program I use on the PC is fldigi. I run Ubuntu 12.04 at the moment and have been having good luck with it. Not real happy with the new desktop and fell back to the Gnome desktop and interface. Enough of that.
Anyway, I have been operating on 20m, 40m, 80m in data mode. Made contacts as far as OH, lower NY, SC in the evening with little power out. I will need to continue my testing to see how far I can get. Folks from all over the world use this mode of communication to pass data. It is exciting to know that anything from SITREP to images (using QSSTV) can be sent in these modes. The new version of QSSTV just got loaded on the PC. I need to test since I used a much older version. The caveat for any of this is atmospheric conditions.
What do you need to try it out? An amateur radio license (simple enough to get), radio, PC, interface cable. All the software is free. Unless you are a Windoz fan.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Improve Radio Reception...

Not to long ago I had one of my multiband dipoles break. I thought that it would be a good idea to fix it before the snow comes along. Most good radio operators wait until there is a couple feet of snow before working on antennas. But, I broke the rules and made a new one with a 4:1 balun and 120' of #12 ga. wire. I also had to re-solder the PL-259 connector on the cable.
Well, the results were very good. I can tune up on the bands I use as well as listen to the shortwave frequencies. The signals were booming in up here in the north. But, it is evening and the bands have fallen off with lots of atmospheric noise. I read earlier today that the sun had a CME and maybe if the sky is clear I will get to see the northern lights.
I also changed the orientation on another dipole I use for shortwave. Wow, that did the trick. I think I will have to continue to tinker with that one and get the ends unrolled. At the moment the antenna is up in the rafters on the porch. I will move it to the outside and hang somewhere. I am confident that the reception will be much better.
The great thing about the WWW is that there are a ton of resources to review. A little bit of experimenting on your part will go a long way.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

To See Something Cool....

Tonight I was sitting at the PC doing some homework and decided to take a break. I looked out the window and saw five deer under the apple tree having a snack. One was a big doe with two fawns and the other two looked to be yearling does.
I had to grab the camera and see if I could sneak out and around the corner to get a bit of video. Sure enough they hung around and posed for some pictures. But, not long after that they decided to move on to pickings else where.
With fall coming on I am sure they will be returning to snack until the apples are gone. Check out the video below.

Deer Munching Apples

Just one of those things that brings a smile to your face.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

To Enhance My Icom IC-910...

I have been evaluating the Baofeng UV-5R 144/440 handy talkie. So far I am really impressed with the function of the radio. I have read many reviews about the radio over at 
Like any product there will be folks who like it and folks who don't. As I mentioned above I am having good luck with the radio.

Anyway, I wanted to expand the capabilities of my IC-910. Off to the internet I go in search of how to do this procedure. The internet is such a wonderful place, filled with how-to's for everything under the sun. Some of the IC-910 radios have the ability to receive much more than they can transmit. Older generation radios need to have a few diodes removed. When this is done the radio does not turn into a super receiver/transmitter. It just opens up the receive more like the modern radios available to day. Of course the transmit can be opened up, but be careful.

I purchased the filters and 1Ghz module and got those installed. Found a couple of places that had procedures for increasing the performance of the rig. Here are the links to those sites. These are .pdf files, download them and file for future reference.

Icom IC-910 Mods

Icom IC-910 Mods plus all the other Icom mods.

** Transmitting outside of the amateur radio bands is illegal, as well as operating an amateur radio station without a license. Had to include that one.

** Any modifications you do are done at your own risk.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

To Make A Sheath...

I recently picked up a few Mora knives. To be specific I got hold of a:
                                 hook knife,

                                 carving knife,

                                 bushcraft series knife.

I am happy with these knives so far. I have heard or read only great comments about these tools. I do forsee a fun time trying to sharpen the hook knife, but nonetheless I am happy and having fun.

I made a pot stirring spoon with a piece of white cedar. Still needs to be sanded. The latest spoon is a smaller one carved out of birch. Coming along well, still much more to do.
The carving knife came with a decent plastic sheath to protect me and the blade while not in use. The hook knife needed something as it came with no sheath. As a result I felt I needed something to safely pack the knives. Many moons ago I cam across some scrap leather. Not good for much as the thickness was uneven and there were some holes in the thinner part of the pieces. But, I figured I would find use for the leather at some point. I could use it to patch something or in this case make a nice little sheath.
What would someone need to sew leather and not get to carried away with poking holes in ones fingers? How about a sewing awl? I think these gadgets are wonderful and an absolute must for the pack or having around the homestead. Having one of these awls lets you fix canvas, leather, and just about any heavy fabric. Just be sure to have some of the heavy duty thread that come with it. Sewing awls can be found at Amazon, e-bay, etc. Just about anywhere. Prices are reasonable, but be sure to shop around. A sewing awl that I purchased came with two needles, wrench, one spool of thread. The wrench and needles stow away in the handle when not in use. Be sure to purchase extra thread, needles.

The sheath I made is wide enough to accommodate both carving knives. This allows me to keep them together and not take a chance and lose one.

Another one of those tools that is perfect for any kit.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Book With A Map & Repeaters Listed...

If you are a amateur radio operator more than likely you have a repeater book on your desk or in your car. These little books are handy, especially if you are on the road. Technology today finds us with a cell phone with GPS or a GPS on the windshield. What happens when there is no cell coverage or for some reason your GPS dies? I guess it is time to break out the good ole' road atlas. Some of them are gigantic and a pain to keep from getting torn up as they float around the inside of your car/truck.

I have this bag I keep in the car. Has a few items in it that would prove useful in an emergency. What can I keep in the bag to give me a basic map? How about amateur radio repeater frequencies (That I forgot to program into the radio)? Hmm...

Check out this handy little book. Maybe not so little as it is bigger than the repeater reference book. But, it is smaller than the average sized road atlas. Artsci Repeater Map Book is published every year or so. Contains all of the amateur radio repeaters across the US and a map of each state. Each state map has the major routes listed as well as a few other goodies. A very handy book to have in your kit.

Can be ordered from here:

** I am not associated with Artsci in any way.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Radio To Communicate...

In times of emergency or while you are out and about having a way to communicate can be handy. It may even save a life. Now, there are several types of radios; FRS, GMRS, MURS, Amateur, etc. Cell phones are every where, but maybe there is no coverage. Something has caused the local cell to be off the air? What to do now?

FRS & GMRS operate up in the 400 MHZ range of frequencies. Good for keeping in touch for everyone in a two to five mile radius. The user can set up privacy codes, but the transmission is not secure. The privacy codes just let the users "call" each other by setting a code up in each radio. Prevents unwanted contact in the band.

Trisquare TSX-300 and its variants are pretty cool radios that operate in the 900 MHZ range. Limited in distance, maybe on a good day a user can get a mile. But, that depends on the terrain. The best I could do is half a mile. You may ask what good these radios are? Well, they use spread spectrum frequency hopping, texting capability radio to radio. Each radio has a specific address. This means users can communicate directly without people listening in. Or use the group frequency and talk to all radios. More frequency codes then you can imagine.This results in a very secure means of communications in your AO base camp and vicinity. Some users have complained that they cannot sync more than three radios. At the moment I have two of these with plans to get more to test out. Amazon has these radios at a reasonable price for two.

Lastly, the one radio I found to be a bargain; Baofeng UV-5R. This little hand-held radio is excellent for the money. Less than 60$ at Amazon. Has more features than you can shake a stick at. Single LED flash light, FM broadcast band reception, transmits high and low of the 144 and 400 MHZ ham bands. Can be programmed by a USB cable attached to your PC. Takes a little bit of time to get it programmed, but I found some useful Youtube videos to help out. Once again the price is great for a radio that will do as much as more expensive radios.

Baofeng UV-5R Setup Operation By AB5N

Give some thought to how your family, friends, and neighbors will communicate during an emergency. Develop a plan and acquire the equipment you need to keep everyone safe and in touch.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Smile...

Nothing will bring a smile to your face like the birth of a grandchild. On 31 Aug 12 @ 1239 Caden Elliot was delivered into this world. Mother & father, and Caden are doing well. He weighed in @ 8 pounds 12 ounces. A Blue Moon baby. How much better can life get... What a gift and blessing. This is what life is about... Family.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Read The News...

I don't like to watch the news on TV or much of anything. What was informative and objective is now just government propaganda. I suppose that since the advent of modern communications this is the natural course every society takes.

As mentioned in one of my other posts I primarily use Linux and Mac. I get most of my news using an RSS reader. I have "attached" to feeds from Marketwatch, Zerohedge, France 24, etc. The list is endless and more than one source is recommended so that the user can verify the story. But, sometimes I find information that seems to start from one source and then picked up and carried by others. This can be a pain for sure.

For Linux I use Liferea. Most of the RSS readers have the same type of GUI. Down the left side you will see you sources. The middle top is where the article title is presented. When the user selects the article the bottom portion of the GUI displays the article or article brief. A simple click will open the full article for consumption. On the Mac I have NewsNetWire. These RSS readers can be set to update by minutes or hours. Plenty of options. Up to the user.

Exercise your brain. Read the news and more right from your PC.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Belt...

Having a belt serves so many purposes. Primarily a belt is used to hold up your pants. But, on occasion your belt can be used as a tool.

1. Emergency tourniquet to tie off a bleeding limb.
2. Hang a piece of gear from a tree.
3. Tie up poles for an emergency shelter.

The list goes on and on. It just depends how creative you are and what you expect to accomplish. I use a belt for the good ole' keep the pants up. Most of the time a canvas type belt with a cinch buckle works for me. If I am required to wear a suit or some sort of casual business I will use a leather belt.

But, when I head out into the woods I am not really inclined to have all sorts of gadgets hanging on the same belt I use to hold up my field pants or shorts. Just adds to much weight and the average belt will fold over. This makes for an uncomfortable day as the average belt is one inch in height.

What I like to use is something called a riggers belt. These belts are normally one & three-quarters inch in height and thickness is almost a quarter inch. Not as tall as the USGI web belt. But, they will support what ever I need to place on them. For example some holsters & knife sheath(s) will not fit the USGI web belt, but will readily slide on the the riggers belt. The riggers belt also has a nifty little option to allow the user to repel or let's say be recovered. This loop is neatly tucked away and strapped down beside the cinch buckle.

I bought a Blackhawk belt which seemed to shrink... Well, rather I seemed to expand. I found this belt to be very well made, but thin in thickness. So, I had to find one that "stretched" to my needs and was a bit more rigid. I picked up an Emerson which is thick compared to the Blackhawk and sits really well. I don't have it loaded with tons of stuff; just a couple items. Riggers belts can be had on e-bay or Amazon. But, if you are on a budget the e-bay deal is tough to beat.

** Keep an old leather belt in your pack. You can use it to sharpen your knife. Check out this Youtube video by BushcraftOnFire:

Sharpening A Knife Without Tools


Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Spoon...

I came across a couple of videos on Youtube about carving or whittling a spoon. It is not as easy as you think. Years ago I had to make one to eat with. Mine turned out to be more like a scoop. I found out in the videos that there is something called a hook knife. So, I had to order one and see how well it worked out. Making a spoon with a knife can be done, but the hook knife is definitely handy.
Yesterday was a really nice day. I took a break from working on the bow drill and decided to test out the hook knife. Here is a video on the spoon I created. More like a spoon to stir the pot, but looks fairly good.

The two video I came across are here BenOrford & Bushcraftbartons.

Once again if you don't practice don't expect to get the task done. Even if you don't have the hook knife make something. Remember to practice knife safety as a cut can ruin your day.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Make a Survival Kit...

I like to get out into the woods and walk around. At one point I did some camping and working on getting back to that. But, when you head off for a hike or camping you should have a few things with you. Many opinions exist on what an individual should have and there are a ton of references. Some cost a lot of money and some fit in an Altoids tin. These kits are designed to have with you where ever you go. Whether you are in the woods or taking a trip to the store.

I was checking out another blog where a step by step process was used to create a nice compact kit. Check out these links to Stealth Survival. The kit built here is a basic well rounded unit and will serve you well.

DIY Survival Kit Part 1
DIY Survival Kit Part 2
DIY Survival Kit Part 3
DIY Survival Kit Part 4
DIY Survival Kit Part 5
DIY Survival Kit Part 6
DIY Survival Kit Part 7
DIY Survival Kit Part 8

You will need to adjust the contents to your needs or maybe something like this is what you need. Take the time to do your research, figure out what you need for your locale.

Reading an article or watching a video won't get it done and you won't learn much. Give it a try, learn to use some tools, techniques. Create one for you and your family members. Sometimes it's the little things that can make a difference.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

To Have Some Privacy...

So we have known for sometime that the internet is not a private experience. Between the government and nosy people we cannot go about our business or general internet browsing without fear of someone stealing our identity. I have changed up how I do things to try and win back a bit of privacy. I don't do much on the internet. Mostly reading news, how-to's, history, etc.
Sometimes I get e-mails that say they are from my brother or son. At some point these two have had their e-mails compromised, it could be me. Who knows at this point. I have gone through the process of changing passwords and scrubbing my data to make sure it is clean. I also changed what I use to query the web.

I primarily use Linux as my OS and Firefox for the web browser. Below are the changes I have made in an attempt to make my browsing more secure.

1. Loaded the Ghostery & Betterprivacy plugin for Firefox.
2. Blocked all the tracking cookies
3. Turned on the privacy option in Firefox, delete all cookies upon closing Firefox.
4. Use Startpage for all searches.

I also went so far to load up TOR. This will be handy as we head down the censorship path on the web.

If you want to maintain privacy, not partake in censorship, or maybe you like to think for yourself take a look at the options above. A lot of information on securing your browsing is out there, you just need to take the responsibility and do the research.

** Be aware that you are never totally secure. Bad people will find ways to access your information. Why make it easy?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Starting a Fire...

I have been away from doing anything in the woods for some time now. So I decided to get back where it is quiet and listen to the critters. Started to get refreshed on some bushcraft skills. First up was trying to start a fire. Pretty straight forward, no matches or lighters. I used the fire stick for one and a magnesium stick for the other.
Next on the list is to create a bow drill.

Here are a couple of links to my youtube channel where I captured the process.

Used cotton balls with a thin layer of petroleum jelly.

I used shaved cedar bark, pine pitch, and some magnesium for this one.

Getting out there and practicing is most helpful. Never know when you need a fire.

More to come....