Monthly Archives: February 2015

Crosstown Traffic: How your GPS works

I saw this over on the Adafruit blog today.  I don’t know why they called it “How Does Your Smartphone Know Your Location?“, to me it explains how any GPS receiver works.  But maybe I’m the only person left that uses a GPS navigator that is separate from my cellphone.  I don’t know.  But it’s interesting.  Especially in how it describes the workings of an atomic clock.


Published from DFW, Texas


In the News: 11 Year Old joins the DX Century Club

Ahhh, HF. It’s been a long time since I called CQ on 20 meters. When I lived in Grand Rapids, our local club (The Grand Rapids Amateur Radio Association) opened up our radio room at the Red Cross on Wednesday nights, and I loved playing on 20 and 40 meters. Even some 10 meter contacts when the sunspots were just right.

Brandon Byrd KF5NYQ proudly displays his DX Century Club award from the ARRL (Photo Credit: WLOX)

Since I moved to Texas, I haven’t had the time or opportunity to set up on HF. But this kid in the news is much luckier. WLOX TV in Biloxi Mississippi reports that Brandon Byrd KF5NYQ, an 11 year old General class ham operator (which is impressive enough) has earned his DX Century Club (DXCC) certificate–for those not familiar with this prestigious Amateur Radio award, this means he managed to contact 100 different countries.  Which is about 90 more than I have managed to do in my 25+ years in ham radio.

Congratulations, Brandon!  Great achievement.


(Published from DFW, Texas)


From my Facebook Feed: Could this finally be the end for Radio Shack?

Mike KM5Z posted this article from on the Dallas Amateur Radio Club Facebook page that outlines the current negotiations that Radio Shack is making with Sprint Corp.  In the proposed deal, Radio Shack would sell around half of their store leases to Sprint, and close the rest.  The locations sold to Sprint would operate under the Sprint name, effectively ending the Radio Shack brand after 94 years.

Was nice to see the nod to Radio Shack’s roots in the Ham Radio business.  From the article:

The discussions represent the endgame for a chain that traces its roots to 1921, when it began as a mail-order retailer for amateur ham-radio operators and maritime communications officers. It expanded into a wider range of electronics over the decades, and by the 1980s was seen as a destination for personal computers, gadgets and components that were hard to find elsewhere. In more recent years, though, competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and an army of e-commerce sellers hurt customer traffic.

Radio Shack is the company that was responsible for my entry into the electronics hobby, which went on to define my career.  In my personal opinion, and I will probably come up with a lengthy editorial about this, Radio Shack numbered it’s days when it left the hobbyist market in the 90s and went on to become a place where you would go to buy a cell phone or maybe an audio cable.  Radio Shack could have saved itself by watching the market when the maker movement started exploding over the last 10 years and re-entering it with more electronics stuff, which they ended up doing by getting into the Arduino and Raspberry Pi market, but it was too little too late.  Online companies like Allied, Digi-Key, and Jameco (to name a few) had beaten them to the punch.  When I was young, if Radio Shack didn’t have it, you didn’t build it until you decided to cough up the high minimum orders, or you just bit the bullet and waited until the next hamfest and hoped you could find the part.  Now, there are many local electronics shops, and the major vendors no longer have insurmountable minimum order policies.  Or you can go on Ebay and get twenty times what you need at the same cost as just a few, if you can wait a week or two for it to get here from China.

Soon it will be time to say goodbye to the Jap Shack.  May they rest in peace.


(Published from DFW, Texas)

In the News: 5 Year Old passes FCC Technician Amateur Radio exam

Before I heap praises on the subject of this story, I’m going to heap praises on the team that turned this story in to NBC 9News in Denver, Colorado.  Reporter Meagan Fitzgerald and photojournalist Andy Buck have done an excellent job on this report.  Seriously, in a world where news reports on ham radio tend to get butchered either by lack of knowledge by the reporters or lack of proper guidance through press releases, this report blew my mind.  To the point where I will personally nominate Fitzgerald and Buck for the 2015 ARRL Bill Leonard award later this year.

Colton KEØCRD and his VE team (photo credit KEØCRD bio page at

And now on to the meat of the matter.  Let’s all welcome Colton Ragsdale KEØCRD to the hobby, one of our newest Technicians.  What makes Colton so special?  He’s five.  And he only missed three questions on the Tech exam.  I’ll let Meagan Fitzgerald explain the whole thing to you because she will do it better than your humble blogger can (after the jump, due to the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to turn off AutoPlay on the embedded video): Read more