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.