So, its been a while since I posted…
It’s also been a while since I’ve done anything with ham radio. But, that’s changing soon.
I now live in Central Minnesota, in a little town called Big Lake. I miss Hawaii, I miss the EARC group, and I miss the Navy. But, I’m settling in here and finally got my FT7800 out and on the air last week. Turns out, the Sherburne County ARES does a Monday night net on the nearby Elk River repeater. I checked in as a guest the other night and was warmly welcomed.
After a little poking around on their website, www.shercoares.org I have decided to join the group. So, we’ll see where that takes me. At least its good to be using the radio again!
Well, things have been busy for me. Lots of changes lately. Not a lot of time for computers or ham radio. I am retiring from the Navy. I’ve served 20 years, and am ready to move on.
I took a position as an Operations Training Instructor at a Nuclear Power Plant in Monticello, MN. This is exactly the type of job I think I’ll be good at. It’ll also give me more free time for my many hobbies since it will be Mon-Fri, for the most part.
Even though I am excited to move back to the mainland and start my new life, I am extremely sad about leaving Hawaii and the many friends I made with the Emergency Amateur Radio Club.
Working with them and learning from them has been a memorable experience. If I find another club that is even half as friendly and encouraging and motivating… well, its not likely. They have been great and I hope to stay in touch with them over the years.
Once I get to Minnesota and get a house (with a garage), I’ll get my workshop set up and get a real station built. I’m looking for a rural place with a little acreage, so I can do some cool things with it. Maybe a small tower, a battery station that recharges with wind power, and lots of workspace for projects and experiments.
Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, and there will be another couple months until I get all settled in and make some updates. But for now, that’s what has been going on.
See you on the air! 73′s.
Yes, I was already unhappy with one aspect of my new system as soon as I was done building it. The video card. I originally bought two 3850′s to run a crossfire setup, but ran into problems due to the motherboard I selected.
Anywhoo, the single 3850 was working out great (as you can see from the pics in my previous post), but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. So, I upgraded.
I have now installed a Radeon HD 3870×2! That’s a dual GPU card with 1GB of RAM. Upgrading to this card has more than tripled my 3DMarkVantage score from the low 2100′s to over 7400.
I’m also running dual monitors now. This single video card can support up to four monitors! For now, I’m getting used to two.
Here’s some pics so you can see how huge this thing is:
These are the 3870×2 and 3850 cards side by side.
Here you can see the four ports for the monitors.
I had to move some things around in the case (like move my hard drive cage up higher) to make room for this monster.
Oh, and here’s my new Call of Duty 4 Game-O-Meter score:
Well, I finally built a new computer. The old one is still hanging on, but it is time to go big. I bought the old one slightly used for $300, over 5 years ago and have only had to upgrade it’s RAM and video card. But, it’s days are numbered. Rather than wait, I got the pieces and parts and put together a decent system for not too much money.
Here’s the system (all parts purchased from zipzoomfly.com):
Case: old Antec full tower (like 8 or 9 years old)
Processor: Intel E8400 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo
Motherboard: Asus P35 chipset P5K-E
RAM: 4GB OCZ DDR2 1066
Video Card: Asus 512MB DDR3 HD3850 PCIe x16
Power Supply: CoolMax CUG-600B Green Power 600W
Hard Drives: (3) Hitachi Deskstar T7K500 500GB 7200RPM Serial ATA II w/16MB Buffer (I’m running the 3 drives in a RAID 5, so they are fast – but I also have drive failure protection. Basically, if any one of the 3 drives fail, I can change it out with a new blank drive and the information will be rebuilt from the other two drives. Pretty slick, huh.)
And, I believe, that’s the main stuff. After the combo drive, case fans, processor fan, LCD fan controller and card reader, etc. (oh, and shipping)… I spent about $1200. The computer benchmarks pretty high.
However, I’ve already learned a couple lessons, and if I could go back and do it again already – I’d get a different motherboard. I had originally purchased 2 of the Asus 512MB video cards, planning to do a dual CrossFire system. However, the P5K-E, though it advertises that it supports CrossFire and has two PCIe x16 slots, doesn’t support two cards at x16. Confusing, huh. Apparently the fine print states that the second PCIe x16 slot only runs at x4. So, what a waste. I sold the second video card and am only using one.
Here’s where my system benchmarks for a popular game, Call of Duty 4 (which I don’t play – but was told to check my system against it):
And here’s a couple of screenshots from Flight Simulator X. I can’t believe how much better this runs. It is truly amazing!
So, that’s it! What do you think? I’m pretty happy with it…
If, like me, you enjoy listening in to the various aviation communications, then here is a list of the various Honolulu Airport frequencies:
- 127.900 – ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information System. You have to listen to this and remember the information letter so that Clearance doesn’t have to repeat any information already on the recording).
- 124.100 – Clearance (To get your planes callsign into the system, verify you have the information from ATIS, and give you permission to depart Class B airspace via any one of the departure routes).
- 121.900 – Ground (Permission to taxi to the runway).
- 118.100 – Tower (Controls the planes through the takeoff and the landing).
- 119.100 – Approach/Departure (For planes turning West after takeoff and for all planes coming in).
- 124.800 – Departure (For planes turning East after takeoff).
By the way, those are in order for a plane leaving Honolulu, from the first to the last. You could listen to an airplane’s communications all the way through. You could also listen for a friend/family plane to come in. For a plane coming in, it’s a little easier: 119.100 (for clearance into Class B airspace), 118.100 (for runway, permission to land, and taxiway), 121.900 (for permission to leave the taxiway and taxi to the terminal).
Well, I’ve been busy. I’ve passed IS-700, qualified as a Net Control Supervisor for my club, and have taken on every other Wednesday (starting tonight) as the NCS for our nightly net. That’s 3 FEMA courses done. I have at least 4 more that I want to do.
Our last club meeting was at the Hawaii State Red Cross building over by DiamondHead. Wow. Great meeting. Depending on the progress of my various projects, I may volunteer as an amateur radio operator for the Red Cross. We’ll see.
Speaking of projects, one of them is that I’m rebuilding the club website. The current one needs a facelift. I should have it ready to upload in a week or so.