Archive for the “ham radio” Category

We took the opportunity that Field Day gave, as a chance to test out our “new” 1977 camper.  I belong to the Capital City Amateur Radio Club, and we attended a national event called Field Day.  This year, Field Day ocured on June 27 and 28.  We gathered up our supplies and headed out to Devils Elbow, a campground on Houser Lake, which is on the Missouri River.  Even though this was an Amateur Radio event, we used our time to get out in the camper.  We had a great time, and this was a good time to work out the “bugs”.  We discovered a couple of things we lost or forgot, but overall, we had everything we needed.  We were only able to stay over one night, from Friday to Saturday, as we had a busy church schedule on Sunday.  Here are some pictures of our fun weekend.

Also, visit my Ham Radio site at:


Field Day in our "new" camper Alia Finding Some Valuable "Leave-er-rites" Our Camp Spot The Kids Tossing Rocks Into The Lake Desire' J.J. in the "upper" bunk. Alia in the "Upper" bunk. Desire' feeding the seagulls. The gulls discovered Desire's food.

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Can you decode this Morse Code?

Can you decode this Morse Code?

Today is Samuel Morse’s birthday. Samuel Morse is the inventor of the Morse Code which many Amateur Radio Operators around the world (including me) use every day for fun and efficient communications.  Today, Google celebrated the day by modifying their search logo.  Can you decode it?  You can visit my Ham Radio web site HERE for more information about Ham Radio.


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The heavy and large HP Laserjet 4Si

The heavy and large (but inexpensive) HP Laserjet 4Si

Up to this point, our main computer printer has been a HP Photosmart D5360 inkjet. It is a very nice printer, but as you probably know, the price of ink is outrageous. I refill my own ink cartridges, which helps; but, that is a pain, and the whole deal is still expensive.

99 percent of what we print, does not need to be done with color.  My boss bought an old laser printer from the state surplus, and it works great to print those everyday things that don’t have to be in color.  Yesterday, I went to the monthly state surplus garage sale and picked up a huge behemoth old HP Laserjet 4Si laser printer for twenty bucks.  It also included a new toner cartridge that was still in the box. I figured, if it happened to work, it was a steal with the extra cartridge included.  I found prices for used Laserjet 4Si‘s on the Internet for $400 to $550 dollars refurbished, depending on what accessories were included.  This printer has the duplex module, and high speed parallel interface modules included, along with 8 megabytes of RAM.

I got some help putting it into my car.  When I got home, I used a hand truck to haul it into the house, and into our “library” where our family compter is located.  I dug around my junk box and found a centronics style parallel printer cable (since this computer interfaced with a parallel port), and plugged it in.  The printer seemed to power up correctly, and my hope rose.

I do not run the Windows operating system on our home computers.  They run on Ubuntu Linux.  I ran the printer configuration utility on Ubuntu, and it immediately recognized the printer as an HP Laserjet 4Si, and downloaded the proper driver for it.  Wow, “it just worked”!

I ran some test pages, and the printer ran perfectly.  Other than the paper cost, now my kids can print the stuff they want to print, and we have enough toner to last the life time of the printer.

I found the user manual on the Internet.  This printer prints on both sides, has slots for two paper trays.  I have two “letter” size trays and a “legal” size tray that will fit in it.  It has a slot for hand fed items like envelopes. What a deal!  We have a small table with a lamp on it next to our computer operating desk.  The printer fit nicely on the floor under the table.

Our HP Laserjet 4Si in our Library

Our HP Laserjet 4Si in our Library

Now, we can print all the stuff we want to, and use the more expensive inkjet printer when we need a nice color report or photo.  If you need an inexpensive printer for day to day printing, consider one of those old laser printers you see at that garage sale or auction.  If you can get it working, it will be well worth it. John.

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I could put this old tower to good use.

I spent a couple of days on the roads in Eastern Montana. While out there, I spotted this old abandoned house with a tower attached to it.  It is just begging to be put to good use once again.  And, I would be willing to be the one to put it to good use.  I’m not sure how I could find the owner, or how I would get it across the state; but it is something to keep my mind occupied for awhile anyway.  Click on the picture to see a larger view.  John

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Here is a good reason not to use Google, or buy Apple products:

Google, Apple Openly Support Fight Against ‘Proposition 8’

posted by Thom Holwerda on Sat 25th Oct 2008 19:26 UTC, submitted by SK8T on OS News.
IconIn a rather unusual move, both Google and Apple have publicly backed the fight against “Proposition 8”, both by words as well as by donation. Proposition 8 is an initiative measure in the state of California that would ban same-sex marriages in California by amending the Constitution of the state to include that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”. Both companies gave out their reasoning for supporting the fight against ‘Prop 8’.

Google, whose headquarters are located in California, was first to object to banning same-sex marriages. The company’s founders have donated USD 140000 to the ‘No On 8‘ campaign. Sergey Brin explained:

While we respect the strongly held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 – we should not eliminate anyone’s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.

Apple, also headquartered in California, joined Google by also supporting No On 8 by donating USD 100000. The company released an official statement in support of the fight against Proposition 8, with reasons along the lines of that of Google.

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of USD 100000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights – including the right to marry – should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

As Apple notes in the statement, it was among the first companies to offer equal rights and benefits to its employees’ same-sex partners, so this move should not come as a surprise from an ideological standpoint. However, for both these companies it is very unusual to speak out so openly on such a – in most countries, at least – controversial political issue.

Californians will be able to vote on Proposition 8 during the US Presidential Elections, held on 4th November 2008.

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If you frequent, you may have seen the widget displayed above. What is this “Ubuntu 8.10” thing?
Your computer, that you are looking at right now, has an “operating system” that controls the computer and runs the programs you want to run. On your computer, the operating system is probably Windows XP or Windows Vista. Ten percent of computers have an operating system called OS X. Those computers are Macs. Besides Windows and OS X, there are many other operating systems out there. One such system is called Linux. A few percent of personal computers have Linux on them. Ubuntu is a type of Linux and the computers in our house all have Ubuntu on them.
A new version of Ubuntu Linux is about to be released. It is version 8.10, meaning 2008, and the 10th month. This version representation is very nice when trying to determine what version of Ubuntu one has.
The neat thing about Ubuntu and most other Linux version, is that it is FREE. And almost all the programs that run on it are FREE. It is also EXTREMELY EASY to install new programs and to delete old ones. With the help of a free program called Compiz, the Desktop environment (what you see on the screen) is WAY COOL, with multiple desktops, that rotate from one to another. It has many special effects that are just plain neat!  Click the picture of my desktop above to see what it looks like.
Linux is also a safer operating system. Mostly because only a percentage of computer users use Linux, it is not a big target for virus’s and other bad stuff that happens so often on Windows computers. Our kids love it too.
So, I am excited about the new version of Ubuntu that is about to come out. If you are tired of expensive software, and bad malware, and want a cool looking desktop, try out Ubuntu.

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My little treasure from Moldova.

I recently went to Moldova on a short term missions trip. While there, I found a nice 24 hour clock for sale.  It is very large with the digits nearly two inches high, and the digits are very bright.  Although, it is wired with a European 240 Volt plug on it, it works fine on our 120 Volt, 60 Hz power.  It is a nice new addition to the Ham Radio Shack.

The 240 Volt European style plug will have to be changed.

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I don’t normally copy posts from other blogs, but I thought this one was worth mentioning.  This is from the ARRL web site at

On Sunday, September 21, Bob Williams, N7ODM, of
Bozeman, Montana, was just tuning around on 40 meters, giving his rig a
test just before a scheduled QSO with his brother Rich, K7URU, in
Spokane, when he heard a faint CW signal around 1 PM (MDT): Glenn
Russell Ruby Jr, W7AU, of Corvallis, Oregon had broken his leg and was
using a portable radio and Morse code to send out a call for help.
Williams said he was able to understand the injured man’s code even
when his signal became very weak.

Click Here for Full Story at

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Click to go to the "New" web site for Amateur Radio Station K7JM

Click to go to the 'New' web site of Amateur Radio Station K7JM

I am in the process of creating a new web site for my Amateur Radio activities.  It is in the very early stages, and will probably change often; but you can check it out by clicking HERE.  Eventually, I will be moving all of my Ham Radio posts over to that site.  The site address is: .


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Click the picture to see more of this Montgomery Ward Airline Radio

Click the picture to see more of this Montgomery Ward Airline Radio

I love to collect old radio items. I don’t really go out of my way to find them, but when they find me, I am very interested in picking them up if they are not too hard on my bank account. I found this beauty at a garage sale today. There were a couple of other radios there also, but I have a family to feed so I purchased only one. The radio was from Montgomery Wards and has the label “Airline” on the back. I have not had a chance to really dig into the innards or look for information about the radio yet. The radio is a dual bander consisting of the broadcast band and the shortwave band from 5.75 to 17 Mhz. Click the picture to see a slide show of the details. If you know anything about this radio, please leave me a comment.


John – K7JM

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