Monthly Archives: January 2015

The FCC and You: Marriott will not block personal Wi-Fi devices after FCC fine, public outcry

A few weeks ago the news came out that Marriott International (full disclosure: I am a Platinum Premiere member of Marriott, having stayed more than 1000 nights at their properties in the last 15 years or so) wanted to persuade the FCC to allow them to “block” personal Wi-Fi devices at some of their properties.  This all comes after they actually tried doing so without the blessing of the FCC last year.  From the FCC website (October 3, 2014):

Marriott International, Inc. and its subsidiary, Marriott Hotel Services, Inc., will pay $600,000 to resolve a Federal Communications Commission investigation into whether Marriott intentionally interfered with and disabled Wi-Fi networks established by consumers in the conference facilities of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, in violation of Section 333 of the Communications Act. The FCC Enforcement Bureau’s investigation revealed that Marriott employees had used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the Gaylord Opryland to prevent individuals from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks, while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses, and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network.

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From My Facebook Feed: Ham Radio #2 on the “Manly Hobby” List

(Thank’s Bernie K5BP for posting this link on the Dallas Amateur Radio Club Facebook Page)

Apparently there is a website devoted to the art of manliness — this thing covers all things manly, from how to shave with a straight razor and how to break in a baseball cap to how to wear a pocket square (who knew it wasn’t really a hanky?  If I ever have an opportunity to wear a suit again, perhaps my own funeral, maybe I’ll try it).

Well, these good folks decided to make a list of hobbies for men… Manly hobbies.  The second item on the list: Ham radio.  In the immortal words of Tim Allen (now actually a ham-KK6OTD!): Grunt, grunt!

Looking to be a part of a tight knit community with a focus on radio and communication? Look no further than ham radio. While the internet has taken radio’s place as the dominant form of communication, a vibrant community of amateur radio enthusiasts still exists. Radio hobbyists enjoy communicating directly with people from all over the world while expanding their knowledge of radio theory. In addition, most ham radio operators provide a public service to their communities by acting as relays in the event of emergencies or natural disasters. Radio operation is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, so you’ll have to be licensed to use a radio. Licensing isn’t difficult at all. You just have to take a multiple choice test that covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory. And of course you’ll need the equipment. Buying new will set you back a pretty penny, but you can find good deals on used radio equipment on eBay. For more info about getting started with ham radio check out the National Association of Amateur Radio (defunct link-use — AD8BC) and stop by the AoM Community Group-The Manly Art of Amateur (Ham) Radio.

(Of course there are lady hams, like my wife KC8TSX, so let’s not take away from that as well…)

Stay manly my friends, and 73.


(Published from DFW, Texas)

Crosstown Traffic: 3D Printing-Want a circuit with that?

As most technical-oriented people are, I am fascinated with 3D Printing.  They have a PolyPrinter 3D printer over at Tanner Electronics (video here) — they sell them, and they will also print out your file on their printer for a few bucks.  I could watch that thing print for hours.  Even though the costs are coming down, I can’t justify purchasing one yet.  But they have one hell of a cool factor.

Yesterday, Hackaday featured two special printers that were demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show.  The Voltera is cool enough — it prints a circuit onto a substrate using silver conductive ink.  It can even make a second layer on top of the first by printing an insulating layer and then a second conductive layer.  This sounds great for making circuit boards in a hurry.  What could be better than that?

Oh, wait.  How about the Voxel8?  It also prints circuits.  And, it’s also a 3D printer.  And it does both at the same time.  In 3D.

The Voxel8 marries the idea of a 3D printer with a silver conductive ink dispenser. You start by modeling your entire design, hardware and electronics, all in one. The printer will then begin the 3D print, pausing when necessary for you to add electronics and mechanicals. With the parts — and their pins — in place it lays out the conductive ink to connect the components and then continues with the 3D printing to finish the object.

Now that’s cool!


(Published from DFW, Texas)

In the News: California ham “Citizen of the Year” for public service

Tracy Lenocker WA6ERA is the 2015 Lake Arrowhead (California) Communities Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen of the Year for his public service as the Mountain Division Chief of the San Bernardino County Fire Office of Emergency Services’ Emergency Communications Services (ECS) (wow, that’s probably hard to fit on a business card).

From Mountain News:

The Outstanding Citizen of the Year for 2014 is a humble man, one who is a driving force behind the Central Mountain Section of the San Bernardino County Emergency Communications Service but who also prefers to stay in the background.

Tracy Lenocker, the Mountain Division chief, has had his amateur radio license since he was 14 years old. When he joined the Forest Service’s off-highway vehicle (OHV) program, he became active in amateur radio because communication out on the dirt trails was difficult, even with Forest Service radios.

This was a well-written article and worth a quick read.

From WA6ERA’s bio on QRZ (login required), Tracy sounds like a busy man!

In 2005 I joined the San Bernardino County Fire Office of Emergency Services (OES) as part of the Emergency Communications Services or ECS. I currently serve as the Mountain Division Chief for ECS and oversee three Sections with about 90 ECS radio communication volunteers. ECS is a first responder for any incidents providing communications at the ICP and Fire Camps such as for the major forest fires in 2003 and 2007 as well as some lesser fires. We provide radio communications for many events in our county such as the Amgen Tour of California, Baker to Vegas and about another 20 large events each year.

Congratulations Tracy!  And congratulations to the Mountain News for a very well written article.


(Published from DFW, Texas)

Hams Around the World: It’s official, I’m going to Germany for HAM RADIO in Friedrichshafen

Joe Eisenberg KØNEB at the 2014 Dayton Hamvention

Joe Eisenberg KØNEB at the 2014 Dayton Hamvention

After waffling about it for a few months, I finally made the decision–I’m going to attend the HAM RADIO show in Friedrichshafen Germany this year in June.  I got bit by the bug when Joe Eisenburg KØNEB (the famous Cat-In-The-Hat hat wearing photog famous for his annual photo montages of the Dayton Hamvention) decided to go last year.  After watching his Dayton-esque Youtube Slideshow of the show (embedded below), I decided it was something that I needed to do at least once.

I was able to swing some free hotel room nights (using a big backlog of Priority Club points) at a brand new Holiday Inn Express within walking distance of the Messe Friedrichshafen (roughly translates to the

The Messe Friedrichshafen, home of the HAM RADIO show in Germany. (Photo credit: Joe Eisenburg, KØNEB)

The Messe Friedrichshafen, home of the HAM RADIO show in Germany.
(Photo credit: Joe Eisenberg, KØNEB)

“Friedrichshafen Fairgrounds”).  I will fly into Zurich, Switzerland and take the train to the ferry terminal at Romanshorn, from which I will cross Lake Constance and land at Friedrichshafen. Read more

Quick Hacks: “Fixing” the Keurig Coffeemaker DRM — Temporarily and Permanently (your choice)

When I was a kid, the biggest technical advance in coffeemakers was the timer — you loaded up the machine with coffee and water, and in the morning the coffee was hot and ready.  Well nowadays, if you don’t want to go all the way to Starbucks for your fancy special hot beverage, you can make it at home — you just plop a K-Cup® into one of those new-fangled Keurig coffee makers, and out pops a single serving of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or whatever.

Well, this has proven mostly successful for the Keurig company.  Their only problem has been the production of “unauthorized” K-Cups by the competition.  So they came up with a solution for their new line of coffeemakers–they will only accept “approved” K-cups.  Presumably, an “approved” K-cup comes from a manufacturer that pays a sum of money to the Keurig company.

Apparently, the folks at Keurig didn’t pay too much for this technical solution.  You can still use “non-approved” K-cups by sticking part of an “approved” K-cup to the top of the “non-approved” K-cup, as shown in the following video.  Or, for a more semi-permanent non-warranty-violating hack, with simple Scotch tape you can not have to worry about it at all (until the tape falls off).

Now, if you are into violating warranties, there is a permanent fix for this whole problem, which seems to involve disconnecting the sensor that is responsible for this atrociousness.  In her quest to create a mod chip for for Keurig 2.0 machines, Kate Gray found a green wire (NOT THE GREEN WIRE!) that, when disconnected, disables the DRM on the coffeemaker.

So, America, you can once again use your dollar-store fake K-cups!


(Published from DFW, Texas)