Category Archives: Ohio

2015/11/27 (F) On The Road Again

We slept on the bus last night but did not sleep well, probably due to a combination of factors.  We had too much to eat for dinner, too much to do when we got home from dinner, too much anticipation of our early departure, too much anxiety about the weather, and too much awareness of it and other sounds.  The motorcoach seems, at times, like a living thing.  It makes its own unique set of sounds and motions, even when parked, and it always takes a few days and nights to get reacquainted with it after a period non-use.  It is well enough insulated but we are still in much more intimate contact with the weather when living in the coach than we are in the house.  It rained most of the night; hard at times, and woke us up when it did.  We would normally sleep through the rain if we were not thinking about oversleeping or having to get up and complete out travel preparations in the dim light of a rainy sunrise.

Sunrise was at 7:39 AM.  Normally it would be light enough to work outside 30 minutes before that but densely overcast skies and rain kept the light level very low.  I had been awake at the bottom of each hour from 4:30 on and we finally got up at 6:45 AM.  We did not have breakfast or hot beverages but did have a small glass of orange/grapefruit juice with our vitamins.  We (mostly Linda) straightened up the interior and secured the pantry and refrigerator for travel.  There was a lull in the rain at 7:30 and we used that opportunity to make our final departure preparations.

Linda shut off the circuit breaker for the engine block heater and I shut off the Aqua-Hot burner and engine pre-heat pump.  Linda got her BAHA and calendar from the house and shut off the circuit breaker that feeds power to the RV outlet while I put on my rain pants and coat and took care of the outside stuff.  I disconnected and stored the shore power cord.  I got the car ready to tow, opened the air supply valves for the various air-powered accessories, and switched on the chassis batteries.  When Linda was back on board she arranged towels around the base of her seat for the cats.  I started the main engine, let the oil pressure come up, switched it to high idle, and switched the suspension to drive mode.  After the chassis was fully aired up I did one last walk-around to check the clearance above each tire, got back on board, secured the entry door, and got out of my rain gear.

Juniper used to get behind the old passenger seat and Jasper used to get under the edge of it by the center aisle.  Juniper can still get behind the new seat but it is narrower and Jasper cannot get under it.  With the engine running he was looking for a place to hide so Linda set his carrier on the platform next to the seat, arranged the blanket inside it, and put Jasper in but did not zip it closed.  We weren’t sure he would stay in it but it apparently provided the sense of shelter and security he was seeking and he settled in.  We buckled ourselves in, I raised the rag axle, let the suspension adjust, dropped the idle to low, put the transmission in first gear, released the parking brakes, and pulled forward.  It was 8 AM and raining lightly so our local dirt roads were muddy.  We had almost 400 miles to travel today, but only the first 2.5 miles were on dirt roads.

We worked our way very slowly down the pothole riddled ribbon of dirt that serves as an excuse for the road we live on.  North Hacker Road was in somewhat better shape, but not great.  Traffic was almost nonexistent, being the Friday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, so I kept our speed between 10 and 15 miles per hour and got passed by two cars.  Question:  How long does it take to go 2.5 miles at 10 MPH?  Answer:  One quarter (1/4, 0.25, 25%) of an hour, i.e., 15 minutes!  We did not have any trouble turning right onto eastbound M-59 where, again, there was almost no traffic.  A couple of miles later we got on southbound US-23 and I got the coach up to 65 MPH.  Except for construction zones, 55 MPH urban speed limits, interchanges, and one rest stop, I kept the bus at 65 MPH +/- 3 MPH most of the day.  I think the rest stop was near Piqua, Ohio but we honestly do not recall where we stopped as we did not leave the coach to use the rest stop facilities.

We had persistent light rain as far south as Findlay, Ohio and intermittent light rain until somewhere between Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.  The drive through Cincinnati and over the bridge into Kentucky is always interesting.  The road twists and turns with frequent entrances and exits and occasional interchanges but I stayed in the center lane and it was fine.  As soon as you cross the Ohio River and enter Kentucky there is a long, steep uphill grade, but I handled it a lot better than I did two years ago.  That was partly because of lighter holiday traffic and not getting stuck behind a maximum weight semi in the right lane.  I stayed in the second lane from the right, dropped the tranny into 4th gear, kept the RPMs and turbo boost up, and did not drop below 50 MPH while keeping the engine temperature from exceeding 200 degrees F.  My technique was definitely better, but perhaps having a clean air filter and having fixed a faulty turbo boost pressure sensor line last December also had something to do with how the bus performed.

The drive through Kentucky was dry with high clouds to mute the sun a bit.  There was a stiff wind of around 15 MPH all day out of the south to southwest so that undoubtedly hurt our fuel mileage a bit.  We took Exit 76 onto KY-21, went west about 0.4 miles, and turned into the Oh Kentucky Campground RV Park at 2:30 PM.

Linda got us checked in and a few minutes later we pulled into our nice 50 Amp full-hookup site.  It was a straight pull into the site and will be an easy left pulling out.  We agreed that it was the same site we were in two years ago when we stopped here on our way to Florida for the first time.  We got the coach leveled and then I connected the shorepower cord, switched off the chassis batteries, and shut off the unneeded air valves.  I started the car, ran it through its gears, shut it off, removed the key, and locked it.  As I was doing all of this I observed that the coach was very dirty.

The temperature was in the lower-mid 60s and we were both feeling the need to do something besides sit.  Linda read the campground rules and they stipulated a $10 charge for washing a rig, payable in advance.  We decided to pay it and take advantage of the near ideal weather conditions:  high overcast, light breezes, temperature in the low 60s.

Linda went to the office and paid the $10 cleaning fee while I got out the cleaning supplies and the hose and nozzle.  We mixed four capfuls of McGuire’s automotive soap with a couple of gallons of water.  Linda handled the hose and I handled the soapy long-handled brush.  We washed the bus and the car, including the tires and wheels, in about 75 minutes.  Either my wax job had held up very well since I applied it in Quartzsite, Arizona last February, the water was extremely good, or the McGuire’s soap was the right thing to use, but whatever the reason some combination of the three cleaned up the bus nicely with no hard water spots.

The site in front of ours had a small 5th wheel on it and a couple about our age (or a bit older) was installing foam insulation skirting around the space under it.  We went over and chatted with them for a while and then retired to our coach for the evening.  The Wi-Fi at the RV Park was a bit flaky so I turned on our Verizon MiFi and got our Wi-Fi Ranger connected to it.  Linda connected with some of her online word game opponents and I played some of my solitaire games.  For dinner we had leftovers from yesterday’s fabulous meal.  Afterwards I exchanged text messages with Chuck and then worked on this post.

 

2015/05/15 (F) Hamvention

Today was devoted to the Dayton Hamvention which, as the name suggests, is a ham radio “event” that takes place in Dayton, Ohio.  I suppose it could be a gathering of Honey Baked Ham franchisees in some other state, or a convention of people who like to show off, but it’s just dozens of speakers, hundreds of vendors, thousands of flea market sellers, and ~20,000 attendees gathered to buy, sell, learn about, and talk about all things amateur radio.  It is quite an event and it always rains.  This year was no exception.

The Dayton Hamvention is the largest single annual gathering of ham radio operators in the world, and is probably also the largest gathering of ham radio related vendors.  Organized by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), the Hamvention currently takes place on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the third weekend in May each year and 2015 was the 60th time the event has been held.  The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) shows up in force and the biggest manufacturers in the industry—Kenwood, Icom, and Yaesu—have extensive booths in the vendor area, along with many other manufacturers, distributors, and specialty product vendors.

Dayton’s Hara Arena is ~227 miles from our house, close enough that we can drive down and back the same day, but it makes for a long day.  We left at 5:35 AM and stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and bagels before getting on the Interstate 96 headed east.  A few miles later we headed south on US-23 which took us into Ohio and onto I-475.  We joined up with I-75 south of Toledo, Ohio and stayed on that until we exited in Dayton to head west to the Hamvention venue.  With a bathroom break about half way down we arrived at the arena around 9:15 AM.  There is no general admission parking at the Hara Arena complex but we were able to park at an automotive dealership across the street and over to the left for $10.  (The dealership directly across the street was charging $40/day to park.  Unfortunately some people were actually willing to pay that much.)

The flea market opened at 8 AM and the indoor vendor area opened at 9 AM.  Hams who are looking for bargains in used parts and equipment are always in line when the gates open at 8 AM on the first day.  Although many hams are involved with designing and building new equipment, and/or repairing and restoring vintage radios, we are not.  We had only been to the Hamvention once before and our interest today was to reacquaint ourselves with the inside vendors.  It cost us $25 each for the privilege.

We knew that a dozen of our fellow SLAARC members were here at the event but we only ran into one of them (Bill / W8NN).  We walked past every vendor booth at least once and paid return visits to several.  We did not have a shopping list and ultimately did not buy anything except lunch.  As we were getting ready to leave a thunderstorm opened up and it rained very hard for a while so we lingered and revisited a couple more vendors until it quit and then headed for our car.

We pulled out around 3 PM and headed for home, reversing the route we took to get to the Hamvention.  We stopped for gas and each got something to drink.  I was tired and sleepy from having had too many carbohydrates for lunch so we switched drivers.  We stopped at a rest area somewhere on I-75 in Ohio for a bathroom break but I’m not sure where it was as I was dozing until just before we pulled in.  We got home about 6:45PM.  The event ended at 6 PM today and we expected to be home closer to 10 PM, so getting home sooner was nice.

The cats were glad to see us; at least they both wanted our attention.  Linda cut up some fresh strawberries and pineapple and heated up some canned soup which made for a light, easy dinner.  We relaxed for a while but Linda decided she was too tired to watch an episode of Sherlock and headed off to bed.

I checked out the website of one of the vendors that interested me.  KF7P (KF7P.com) builds custom cable entry boxes with copper ground planes and lightning arresters.  I have been looking for something like that to get transmission lines into our basement ham shack while protecting all of the equipment connected to them.  I will give him a chance to get back to Utah and then give him a call and order one.  The box is going to mount on the east side of the house near the northeast corner.  It will have at least one 3” PVC pipe coming out the back and running through the wall into the basement.  Since I do not know what our long term needs are, and I do not want to have to redo this later, I will have him build something that is larger than we will probably ever need.  That will be cheaper and easier in the end than having to redo something later.

 

2014/09/07 (N) Findlay Hamfest

I set alarms on my phone and iPad last night to make sure I got up at 5:00 AM.  My natural tendency is to stay up a little later each night, something I am now able to do as I do not usually have to get up by any certain time in the morning.  Usually.  Today, however, was the annual Hamfest put on by the Findlay, Ohio Amateur Radio Club and I needed to be at Mike’s (W8XH) QTH in time for a 6 AM departure.  We picked up Steve (N8AR) at the Park-n-Ride lot at Lee Road and US-23 around 6:15 AM and drove non-stop to Findlay, Ohio, arriving at the county fairground at 8:15 AM.  We had a good chat on the way down, which is as much of a reason for going as the bargain hunting once we got there.  I have included a couple of photos in this post.  For more photos, visit:

http://wp36test1.slaarc.com/gallery-2/hamfests/2014-09-findlay/

We each paid our $7 admission fee and got our ticket with a tear-off stub for the hourly and grand prize drawings.  We got parked and set our Kenwood TH-F6 handheld radios to 146.475 MHz (simplex).  We filled out our raffle ticket stubs, dropped them off, and started working our way up and down the rows of outside tables.  The outside sales area was essentially a flea market, sometimes referred to as “trunk sales” because people back their cars up to the road and sell stuff from their trunks.  The spots are cheaper to rent for the day, but you take a chance that the weather will be nice.

Outside vendors (trunk sales) at the Findaly ARC Hamfest in Findlay, OH.

Outside vendors (trunk sales) at the Findaly ARC Hamfest in Findlay, OH.

We worked the flea market first while the temperatures were cool and the sun wasn’t overhead but also because almost everything offered for sale was used equipment at negotiable prices.  These are often one-of-kind items and the bargains tend to disappear quickly.  By mid-morning I had purchased a good sized NEMA enclosure (steel box with weather tight gasketed door) and a Harris 22.2 telephone butt handset (tester).  I plan to use the NEMA box to create a cable entrance box with lightning protection for RF transmission lines, AC power lines, and control lines.  I got the telephone test set because it will allow me to hook up to the phone line the same way the AT&T technicians do, and because it is not the sort of thing most folks have in their home.

Bruce (W8RA) gave a short shopping list to Steve (N8AR) yesterday at breakfast.  Mike (W8XH) spotted a matched three-piece set of vintage Heathkit gear, one piece of which was on Bruce’s list.  Steve looked at it and they got Bruce on the phone.  Apparently it was close enough to what Bruce wanted that Steve bought the whole set for him as the seller was not willing to sell them separately.

We then moved to the inside vendors, most of whom were selling new merchandise at fixed prices.  There was some used equipment, however, and I bought an Icom CI-V interface set.  This device will allow me to interface our Icom IC-7000 and/or IC-706 to, and control them from, a computer using something like Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) software.

I also got to meet and talk to Norm, from Norm’s Fabrication in Adrian, and his wife, who is president of the Adrian Amateur Radio Club.  Norm is a welder, and his side business is fabricating tower parts out of steel and aluminum for fellow hams.  If I cannot get what I need from Heights Tower Systems, Norm may hold the key to getting our used tower erected.

A very classy portable ham radio station (go box).

A very classy portable ham radio station (go box).

A number of other hams from the South Lyon, Novi, Livingston, and SEMDXA radio clubs were there.  I brought my camera and tried to get photos of our club members for the club website.  None of us won anything from the hourly drawings (must be present to win) and we left shortly after noon to meet up at the local Steak-n-Shake for lunch.  I had not eaten breakfast so I enjoyed my garden salad and French fries.  I had a good chat with Dave (K8ESQ), the current president of SEMDXA, and Don (N8CAK) from SLAARC.

We had a good chat on the drive back, stopping briefly at the Michigan Welcome Center on US-23 northbound shortly after entering Michigan from Ohio.  We dropped Steve off at the Lee Road Park-n-Ride and helped him unload the Heathkit equipment.  When we got back to Mike’s I moved my purchases and personal gear to my car and then spent some time examining his Heights tower, especially the fold-over mount.  After studying the parts and the geometry of the design I had a much better understanding of how it works and what we need to get our tower erected and fully operational.

On the way back to my house I got a call from Darryll letting me know he would be out in the morning as long as someone would be home.  Back home I unloaded everything and moved Linda’s car to the side parking pad to make space for Darryll’s truck in the morning.  It was nice to have a day away from our house and property projects.

I spent a little time checking e-mail and websites and off-loading digital photos until Linda called me to dinner.  We had leftover kale salad, quinoa with pineapple and nuts, fresh steamed broccoli, and corn-on-the-cob.  After dinner I recorded the events of the last few days in rough drafts of separate blog posts.  By 10:15 PM the early start and long day finally caught up with me and I turned the lights out and drifted off to sleep.