Saturday, January 28, 2012

34 degrees, Barometer 29.88 and steady

I finally joined the digital modes, and I'm enjoying an occasional PSK-31 contact.  Thank you Luca, IK2LUE for being one of the first to find me on your waterfall.   Your home of Pedrengo, Italy is a most beautiful place.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wet Bulbs and Satellites

It's 38 degrees, then rain has passed, and the cool night sky is crystal clear.  Midlife has brought an obsession for observing and recording.   I began making my own weather observations in 7th grade, guided by a middle school library book on how to build your own weather station.  In high school I was set on a career in broadcast meteorology, but dreams change often.  I've always liked to experience the weather: cycle in the rain, hike during a snow storm, and (safely) face the wind of an approaching thunderstorm.  I've recorded weather observations on and off over the decades.  It's one of those "on" times.

Jan 28, 2011  01:14 UTC  38 degrees, Easterly Winds at 15, clear, Barometer 29.54" and rising 0.45" rain

Thanks to Jim AF3Z/K3Y/3 and Greg WA1VIL/K3Y/1 for the contacts tonight, as the Straight Key Century Club K3Y Special Events winds to a close.  I've have a busy month, with radio taking a back seat to other priorities.  I REALLY appreciate getting on the air tonight guys, and making several CW QSOs.

I use a remote / electronic thermometer that seems to do a good job with current, hi, and low temps.  The hygrometer is not good, often wildly off from the NWS Bradley International readings 10 miles away.  This was a good excuse to use a wet bulb thermometer.  A quick internet search shows a new sling psychometer for $60, a "classic" 1960s instrument for more.  Why not build one from the local hardware store for $5.

Thanks to the good folks from the El Paso, TX NWS office who have posted a wet bulb calculator on their web site. 

I'm outside, twirling my homebrew sling psychometer, trying to stay warm, and stay hidden from the neighbors who certainly think in nuts by now.

Relative Humitidy 84%, Dewpoint 39 degrees

As I pass the time, look at Orion, Jupiter, there is something more.  A satellite passes overhead.  South to north east, quietly in the distance.  This is why I always come back to observing the weather.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Long Weekend

20 degrees F, Clear Night, Cold Winds from the NW at 12mph, Barometer 30.03 and rising

Very nice CW contact with Del, KJ0Z from Cass County Nebraska this evening.  Del thanks for the great "rag chew" CW contact.  I have been away from the radio this week, and your steady fist with straight key was easy to copy.

I just picked up Forrest Mims' "Science and Communication Circuits & Projects Volume II" and digesting the great projects for atmospheric studies.

A new soldersmoke podcast recently came out.  Plan for great listening with tomorrow mornings coffee.  Number 140 and going strong.  Thanks Bill!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The recent Quadrantid Meteor Shower provided an opportunity for some interesting radio listening.  Space Weather Radio ran a nice feature on the reception of radio waves reflected from the ionized paths of meteors.  With a few mouse clicks, you can listen to the realtime reception of the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar transmitting on 216.98 MHz.  I don't have a received operating in this band, and probably live too far north anyway.   Thanks to the Space Radio Patron who kindly publishes his receiver's output to their website.   I  then downloaded iSpectrum to my Mac, a freeware software spectrum analyzer from Dog Park Software.   I was able to generate a real-time waterfall display of the 216 MHz signal.   Some time passed listening to static, until a PING came over the laptop's speaker!  I wasn't certain if this was my laptop, or the dog.  BUT, a quick check of iSpectrum indicated a clear change in the radio signal. I do believe (hope) either a satellite or Quadrantid Meteor caused the reflection and change in the signal.   There's some additional great information on this technique at science@NASA.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The New Year

"People can still smell the rain, hear the owls, eagles and coyotes, and feel the sun's warmth and the brace of the wind that can come and go on a moments notice."    A quote from the on-line travel journal of Patrick Rodden:  Searching North of 45 Degrees.

New Years Day brings both resolutions and (perhaps even better) revelations.   I looked over my 2011 radio goals, and can't say I made great progress over the past year.  Perhaps "radio revelations" is a better approach for 2012:

-Amateur Radio is a great hobby that inspires learning, investigation, and fellowship.
-Hiking and biking regional trails, plus hiking to mountain tops, provide a great opportunity for portable, low power radio operating (or perhaps the other way around)
-Digital modes are fun and I need to learn more
-CW is even more fun, and for me provides the ultimate challenge in this hobby. Continually work on skill, technique, and speed.
-6 meters is said to be the magical band.  I've recently found the 'nack of 6m beacons. 6 meter propagation, in it's many forms, and potential relation to weather, is very interesting.

In closing, I logged onto  today, to check out the entries of big time road cyclist for January 1, 2012.   A number of Australians have logged 60+ mile rides for the first day of their new year.  Just by chance (really?) the home page was 'randomly' highlighting the journal of cyclist Patrick Rodden.  He has a number of long distance cycling accolades to his credit.   This happened to link to his travelogue of a Pacific Northwest to Yukon cycling tour at    I began reding his travel journal and I AM HOOKED.    Highly recommended reading!    The internet truly weaves an intriguing 'web' and I am learning a great deal about the thoughts, personal tragedies, and triumphs of this inspirational cyclist.

Happy New Year and Very 73
Phil, N1DN