Coping: With “Life Beyond the Phone”

Living out here as we do – several miles from the nearest place where a useable cell phone signal can be found – it’s easy for us to see what people in the Big Cities and living in the Yellow Journals Media Bubble (YJMB) call “society” that there IS a little bit that goes on without a screen.

Yes, there are real people, doing real things, some of which are remarkable and some of which are just “notches” in the personal pistol grip of life.

Thanks to a tip from ham radio buddy Jeff M. I heard, for example, about a marvelous adventure a fellow by the name of Brian Lloyd is off on…it combines two of my favorite (off phone) pursuits: Ham radio and aviation.


You see, Lloyd is off flying around the world in an attempt to recreate the flight of Amelia Earhart some 80-years ago.  The press release picks it up from there:

Brian Lloyd WB6RQN Flight Commemorates 80 Years Since Earhart

Miami, Florida, USA, June 1, 2017 – As pilot Brian Lloyd propels his single-engine plane named “Spirit” into the sky on a solo round-the-world adventure, he commemorates Amelia Earhart’s famous flight eighty years ago on this date in 1937. He is communicating live via radio with Ham operators while flying. The two month flight will follow Earhart’s historic route to circumnavigate the world at the equator, which starts in Miami, skirts the chain of Caribbean islands, then along the coast of South America, crosses the Atlantic eastward, and then onward around the world.

Prior to departure from his home airstrip in Texas, Brian Lloyd said, “I am driven by the spirit of historic flights. It is important to remember the aviation pioneers like Amelia Earhart, and their contributions to aviation. Their bold actions made today’s air travel possible for all of us.”

While he is in the air, using the call sign WB6RQN, Brian encourages Ham radio operators to contact him on the following frequencies: 14210.0 kHz USB, 14346.0 kHz USB, 18117.5 kHz USB, or 7130.0 kHz LSB. His HF (High Frequency) radio is a Mobat Micom-3 transceiver, with a maximum power of 125 Watts, and an antenna under the fuselage. He also utilizes ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) on the Amateur Radio HFLINK frequencies

Brian Lloyd’s radio schedule is posted on the project’s website

“I’ve been a ham radio operator since 1976 and enjoy radio communications very much. The plane is set up with HF radio for aeronautical purposes with the normal pilot headset controls. The flight route has some very long legs, so I will have plenty of opportunities during June and July to talk with ham operators while flying over the world’s oceans,” Brian said.

Commercial airliners fly long distances every day, but non-stop ocean flights are quite difficult for small propeller planes, which have limited range. To make it possible, Brian Lloyd modified his 1979 Mooney airplane to carry 150 gallons more fuel, then equipped it with modern navigation equipment, long range radio, and satellite communications. Still, the flight is not without risk, and special safety gear must be taken along. The public can track his flight on the web, social media, as well as Ham radio.

About: Brian Lloyd, 62, is a pilot, flight instructor, engineer, educator, and radio operator. He lives near San Antonio, Texas, USA. The commemorative flights are co-sponsored by The Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum, a non-profit in Texas, and many other individuals who contribute to supporting the flights through donations.”

There are several things about his flight that make it remarkable, but other than dialing back a Mooney 231 to maximum range cruise speeds, the part about ham radio using ALE is extraordinarily neat.

My first experience with Automatic Link Establishment was when I was at HF radio manufacturer SGC in the late 1990’s.  We had adapted the SG-2000 HF radio to use the Frederick Electronics ALE controller and it worked out very well.

A lot of agencies had a hand in the evolution of ALE as a radio voice & data protocol.  But one of the finest examples of how solid the system is was done (going from memory here) from the facilities of Mitre Corp. in the D.C. area down to one of the US Embassies in Australia.

Using 150 watt radios, the ALE systems were able to maintain links (at least through the low speed digital order wire (60-baud) for something like 80% of the time day in and day out.

I remember thinking at the time “Gee, what a great thing for my family (and my lifelong friend ‘the major’) to get set up on our radios.

Bottom line (*with another hat tip to Jeff) is that yeah, setting up transcontinental prepper networks using ALE is eminently doable.  And sure, maybe Kid Korea will try some day to take out the Internet with an EMP attack, or whatever.

But America technology is there.  And once you learn a bit about Golay interleaving of 8-audio tones and how to set up nodes on a nuclear-survivable network, the fear that the Internet goes away just disappears.

I occasionally still fire off the digital modes looking for PSK31 discussions on the 20-meter ham band and with some success.

Progress in the minds of some of older ham  radio operators really comes down to what kind of technology we’re using.

At first, obviously, it was Morse Code.  And then came AM and FM modes.  But by the 1950’s, Art Collins in Cedar Rapids had brought forth the new generation of single sideband radios.  (It’s an AM signal with no carrier and one sideband suppressed so you can talk about 8-times better for the same power and antenna lash-up).

Radio Teletype was hot, too.  RTTY ops would send this huge “pictures” (comprised of regular keyboard symbols) and this would be “pictures.”  A friend from that era, Dennis L. had just about every Playboy Playmate’s “digitized” RTTY picture.  Most were regular paper width and about 2 1/2 feet tall.

Then came Amateur television…and next thing you know there are still people (*including me very occasionally) sending and receiving slow-scan (free-frames) of color images and blasting those around the world.

And today, it can be chatting about the weather in the PSK31 mode with someone in Cuba, Brazil, or wherever on the one hand, or tracking the replay of Amelia Earhart’s flight on the other.

Yes, an attack on the web would be horribly inconvenient.  But with some solar panels, a laptop, an HF Antenna and a built-in web cam, you’d be surprised how much functionality of the Internet can be replicated.

And that’s BEFORE looking at emergency mesh networks like the products from  I told you about my son doing some helijumping with their new mesh product – and there are more stories about outdoor mesh nets over here.

But that’s what’s going on in slow-motion around the real edges of prepping and survival comes: 2 meter and 440 ham radios (some with positions), 406 MHz personal EPIRBs, the GoTenna mesh systems which can wire a city with no internet – for those who chose to be there.  And then there are Internet-free coms programs like those ALE configs which will not only track but which will also provide voice comes to Brian Lloyd as he re-traces Earhart’s ill-fated trip.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

(This was the announcer’s standard voice-over to change scenes in radio plays, of the sort us grays listened to before smartphones – and for that matter – television were invented.  Oh, and it was also a Buck Owens song which can be found on YT here: .)

Mr. Ure’s Junior Carpenter Badge  is now adorned with the “Doormaker” ribbon with the completion of my pegged-joinery screen door project:

(Nice to look at a picture and realize you built all the non-plastic or ceramic parts of it!)

The door took about 4-hours to make.  The two secret sauces involved a “pegging jig” set up for 1/4″ oak pins each 1.5 inches long to make the frame straight, tight, and right.

I used as Harbor Freight self-centering jig (about $27) but after some test joins determined it wasn’t precisely centering!  The solution was to mark all the front sides of the wood with masking take and make all the pegs with the jig face toward the tape side.   Then it all fit just dandy.

The other secret was being patient enough to wait for the right screen splining (0.155″) when a gubered and cut the spline channels a tad wider than 1/8th of an inch.  I still awarded myself the doormaker ribbon because we all judge our own projects.

Elaine likes it so much that she wants me to do a big glass door for the 180-degree sitting room.  That’s using a storm door presently and it doesn’t block as much heat as it could so yeah…maybe….

What’s the point of this morning’s ramble?

Simply this:  Unless you are doing an online job interview or actually making money on the web, turn off the damn phone and go do something productive.  When you waste time on Social Media, there’s a reason I teasingly refer to mister Suckerberg’s invention.  I don’t know anyone who had made any money for themselves with social, but oh, boy, has it kept the bubbles a-bubblin’…

A Lesson in Ambition

Spied on the commute (40-feet) from the house to the office/shop:  Zeus the Cat stalking a 90-pound white-tail deer.

Gotta give him creds for ambition even if he’s gonna fluke his GRE

I’ll go back on my meds Monday…do write when you get rich.  And stay out of Philippine casinos for a while, right?

10 thoughts on “Coping: With “Life Beyond the Phone””

  1. Re: Zeus I had a similar topic discussion this week with a friend who’s cat was stalking a deer. I told her that domestic cats don’t realize their actual size and the hunting function just kicks in.

    I live in an apartment with beautifully landscaped grounds including big, old trees. We have lots of birds and squirrels. I keep telling my cat crew that they would be sorry if they ever caught one of those big squirrels they love to chase. They are successful sometimes at nabbing a bird. Tina even brought me a dove once, and she is declawed on the front.

    • 1. Smart observation regarding size!
      2. Those claws are like teeth to us.
      3. I don’t think that Zeus is declawed?

      P.S. Declawing ought to be outlawed.

    • My beloved and dearly departed black cat has caught at least one of every animal shy of a dog around here. She had her mouth full as she desperately dragged a dead rabbit into the house and proceeded to dissect it. I did once have a tabby declawed cat that I found lost in the woods, starving for lack of the ability to catch food. I fed her and she was inseparable. I’d strongly suggest that deliberately declawing a cat is serious animal abuse, and even living in an invaluable museum cannot justify it, IMHO. Cats need their claws in the same way we need our teeth. This is neither a guilt trip or a judgement call on anyone – just a statement that cats need to be honored as they are. The past can’t be changed, but we can all become wiser. Spaying and neutering are less invasive and more important to the total ecosystem.

  2. Dang son, that’s a mighty fine door you put together there. Proud of you !! And Zeus is just using that deer for training purposes. Someone was over heard saying he was getting a little paunchy around the middle, so he took it personal !!

  3. For two days now, none of your charts or pictures load. None of my settings have changed that I know of.

  4. > Zeus the Cat stalking a 90-pound white-tail deer
    Dream big! Shoot for the moon!

    I love cats…

  5. I have a great white cat hunter I dub as Yeti-Cat. Officially, he is called Mr. StayPuft. He’s caught, killed, and eaten rabbits his size, a raccoon (which my front porch is still adorned with a tail for proof, and I won’t pick it up), countless mice, voles, moles, and anything else small with four feet. He’s tried stalking my ducks, but even he sees that’s a bad idea. I haven’t caught him attempting deer though. Maybe he’s smarter than I give him credit.

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