Archive for June, 2009

Hedwig Village Pie Social, July 3 at 6:00

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Hedwig Village will have its annual Pie Social at City Hall on July 3.  For details, go to the city web site at www.thecityofhedwigvillage.com

Memorial Villages Independence Festival – July 4

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The annual parade down Piney Point Road to the Baptist Church and the hot dogs and other activities there will happen again this year.  Here is the web site:  http://www.villagefiredept.com/VIF/VIF/Welcome.html 

Bringing Home the Jeep

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

I am finalizing plans for my trip to Florida to pick up the Jeep.  I cannot get the Texas plates before I go because in order to register the vehicle in Texas, I first have to have an emissions and safety inspection performed in Harris County and take the certificate with me to the tax office, along with the proof of insurance, necessary forms and, of course, a pot of money to pay the fees and taxes.  I am loading the maps for Florida into my GPS and think everything is set for the APRS system to track my progress on the return trip.  One thing I have learned over the past few days is that the rubber duck antenna on the handheld radio sitting on the console of the truck does not seem to get a signal to a digipeater, so I have not been able to locate myself on www.findu.com.  Tomorrow I may try to put a magnetic mount antenna on the truck and see if that helps.  The folks at 4 Wheel Parts in Houston and Orlando have been most helpful.  They are going to ship my extra tires and wheels and bumpers from their store in Orlando to their store in Houston so I do not have to buy a trailer and pull it back to get home with my extra parts. 

APRS

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

I finally got the cable made to connect my GARMIN GPS to my Kenwood THD7-A.  It appears to be working.  I am receiving packets and they are being posted on my GPS as waypoints.  I can see where this could really clutter things up, since I think they stay forever once they are posted.  I will have to play with that a bit.  I am not sure if it is properly transmitting.  I have it set to transmit every 5 minutes and I hit the beacon feature a few times at lunch, but nothing shows up on findu.com.  Could be that I am not reaching any receive station on my HT with the rubber duck?   Will play with it a bit more when I have time, with a goal of having my trip home from Florida visible on Findu.

Radios for the Jeep

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

One thing that every ham does when he gets a new vehicle is try to decide where to put the radios and antennas.  I have to figure out where I am going to put antennas on my 2006 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.  There are not many, if any, flat places to mount an antenna.  I have searched “Jeep Wrangler” on the EHam forum site and found that I am not the first to face this issue. There are those who recommend drilling a hole in the cowl between the windshield and the hood, and those who have looked for other places.  As in any vehicle, the compromises are asthetics, ground plane, overall height, durability and all the other factors that influence how well signals get into and out of the antenna.  One option is a ball mount on the side of the Jeep behind the door.  Downsides of this include the hole in the sheet metal, the risk of scraping it off with a branch off road and the fact that it will not have the best ground plane.  My Jeep has a Body Armor brand spare tire carrier with a flange on it for an antenna.  However, I am concerned about how well grounded this is and how high the antenna will be if it is mounted here.  Others have mentioned the use of brackets that bolt in the same holes as the tail lights and provide a flat mounting surface for antennas.  I would think these would work for V/UHF antennas, but am concerned a large screwdriver would not have sufficient support on one of these.  When crawling under the Jeep before I bought it, I noticed the posiblity of putting a bracket on the frame wehre the rear bumper bolts on and coming out the side to the rear corner of the Jeep.  This would offer grounding to the frame, a strong mount and even though it would be on the side, it would not stick out as far as the tires or wheel wells.  Being low, it would avoid getting hit on parking garages, but it would also run the risk of being underwater when fording.  I don’t think most screwdrivers are designed to go underwater.  I am also worried that mud coming off the rear tire would collect on the base of the Screwdriver.  Maybe a sealed High Q antenna is the way to go here?  My goal is to get into a 6 1/2 foot clearance garage without damaging my antennas (assuming the whip on the HF antenna is pulled over).  The top of the jeep is almost this tall, so having the top of a whip much more than this height will cause problems.  I use the Larson on my truck and I think it is 39 inches.  Maybe that is the solution for mounting on the tire carrier or one of the tail light brackets.  That brings up the question of where to mount the radios.  I will write more on this later, but the best options at this point seem to be an overhead rack between the windshield and roll bar or on the face of an aftermarket gauge mount that would go on top of the center of the dashboard. 

The Jeep

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

On Monday, June 8, 2009, I signed the papers to begin the process of purchasing a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon from a seller in Florida.  My bank wired the money to his bank, now we have to get the title so that I can register it in my name.  I plan to pick it up on June 19 and drive it to Houston.  I am thinking about using APRS, an amateur radio tracking system, to document the progress of my return trip.