Entries from December 2011 ↓

Atlas-210x

I always wanted one of these. Back when they first came out, they were well worth the asking price of around $600. ( 1970 dollars.) Today they provide all the advantages of the TenTec Omni-D without digital readout, variable selectivity, QSK, and frequency stability.

The 210x is an all solid state 100 watt transceiver with single conversion receiver, 2.2khz selectivity, audio derived AGC and serious drift problems. The 210x covers the 10 meter band but does not go all the way down to 28.000mhz. It does not cover the WARC bands and is a very poor CW rig. It is pretty good on SSB. It comes with a console that adds VOX and provides a marginal power supply.

The passive mixer makes for a very quiet receiver and once the pilot lights are changed out to LEDs, receiver current is on the order of 300ma making this radio a good choice for battery operation.

Dual Boot

Just about any boot loader will allow you to dual boot operating systems off a single hard drive. The hard drive is divided into seperate partitions for each operating system and a boot loader such as GRUB allows you to select the operating system you want.

This works great until you get an automatic update to your Linux system that destroys the MBR. If that does not get you, something else will. Dual boot off one hard drive is dangerous and now has become foolish as well. When you can buy a 300gig hard drive or better for under $100, it makes not sense to risk dual booting.

Some motherboard bioses will even allow you to select which drive will be the bootable drive. That means you can have different operating systems on different drives and use the bios setup to select the one you want to boot. You might even be able to boot off a thumb drive.

Just think, you could carry around an entire computer software system in a fob dangling on your keychain.

No more lost files or data because some automated nonsense decided to rearrange your data.

Just don’t loose your keys and keychain.

DVD/CD door keeps opening and won’t stay shut

I have had this happen on several drives over a 20 year period and the cause is always the same. Either the media is damaged and can’t be read or the motor that spins the disk is dead.

Try cleaning the media first. Maybe try it in another drive. A dead motor is pretty easy to find. Just listen. If you don’t hear the disc spinning, the morot is most likely dead.

The solution is to replace the drive. A new drive is going to run under $50 and that is one that will read and write DVDs and CDs. You can’t repair a drive for that price.

TenTec Omni-D

TenTec has always had a good reputation for customer service. Their equipment has also had a good reputation for decent performance and reasonable reliability but Collins quality it is not. At least you will not find that sort of quality in the Omni-D.

Appearance wise the Omni-D looks like a serious piece of radio equipment. Inside it looks like a high end home brew job. Lots of single sided unplated circuit boards all interconnected with connectorless hookupwire. The only connectors are external at the back of the radio where most are cheap phono and molex. Only the RF out is a decent coax connector.

The cabinet looks good but on closer examination we find its good looks are a result of sticky vinyl coverup. The actual sheet metal work has the look of unfinished reynolds hobby aluminum with burrs, sharp edges and unfinished corners.

The knobs are too small, too light, and unsubstantial giving an overall impression of equipment on a budget.

These cosmetic flaws are not its only problems. Being a single conversion receiver it suffers from birdies. Most notably on 30 and 12 meters. Its AGC is audio derived and suffers from the popping syndrom on strong signals.

Loyal TenTec users claim that TenTec makes excellent CW gear because of their emphasis on QSK. TenTec QSK works and it works better than the their competitors QSK.

Perhaps that is true and it would be a serious consideration if I thought I needed QSK.

QSK is like VOX for CW. By using QSK you can hear signals on frequency between dits and dahs being transmitted. I have alwauys found such operation to be distracting and confusing. I also don’t care for VOX being more accustomed to PTT.

I have no idea why anyone would pay $1200 for an Omni-D. The one I have was obtained for $200 plus a Collins KWM-2 in trade. It must have been the digital readout that made the sale.

Today that KWM-2 is still worth around $1000. The Omni-D is lucky to get $400 and then only if it has all the optional filters and a good power supply and microphone.

So why do I have an old Omni-D? It makes a decent backup radio.

Even with all its warts and pimples it still is a decent transceiver

PCBSD ver 9

I am sure this is really neat software capable of wonderous things but its installer is not capable of using a server to obtain an IP adress. I figure if it is not smart enough to do that, it is probably too dumb to do other things I want it to do without supervision.

So, its back to Debian 6 and we will wait for PCBSD ver 10

Regen Radios

A certain degree of nostalgia draws me back to the early days of my ham radio career when I thought regenerative radios were neat.

Well they are still neat when used for short wave listening.

When used to communicate with other hams they are as big a PIA today as they were then.

They make inertesting science fair projects but are completely useless when it comes to serious communications applications.e

Secure A Networked Computer

This is not a ‘How-To’. It is more of a ‘What I Did and Why’. If you need specifics, go to the home pages of the people whos software I am recommending.

The objective was to secure an old XP system that stayed connected to the internet.

The first step is to dump all the un-needed Microsoft baggage. This includes IE, Outlook, Findfast, and other unecessary fluff. Update to SP2. Unless you are willing to allow Microsoft to use your computer as a free beta test site, turn off automatic updates. If MS can’t get it right after two major service pack efforts, all the updates in the entire universe are not going to fix the problem either. Perhaps the real fix is to enlist the aid of people who did not cause the problem in the first place. Dumb down networking to ONLY do TCP/IP with no file or printer sharing.

Install the following software.

Registry Cleaner – This program should be run weekly to remove registry entries for software no longer being used. No all uninstall programs clean up their registry entries.

CleanUp! – Gets rid of temporary files and more.

CCleaner – Like CleanUp!

Tiny Personal Firewall – Keeps data from being transferred in or OUT unless specifically authorized by you. Lots of programs call home for updates and other unecessary nonsense. TPF allows you to control such activity.

WinPatrol – Patrols Windows. Freeware version is paticularly usefull in managing startup programs and services. Consider upgrading to the plus version for $50.

Malwarebytes – Scans system for bad software and viruses.

Cookie Monster – Eats cookies.

Acronis True Image – Backup software. We clone drives for backup. That provides secure backup agaist all possible sources of failure or loss. ‘Cloud’ services are not secure and cost as much as a spare hard drive. DVD and CD backups may not last more that a few years. NOTE: The DD command under Linux can also clone hard drives.

VLC – Video player.

Thunderbird – Email

Irfanview – JPG viewer and more.

K-Meleon – Simple dumb browser.

Firefox – Simple smart browser (needed for Netflix). Install the adblocker add-on.

WWW.grc.com – Advice on security. Checkout the MICE problem.

TightVNC – TCP/IP server and client. Better and simpler than all the MS networking baggage put together.

Then use WinPatrol to investigate services. Windows XP is notorious for wasting computer resources on services you may not need or want.

Dumb down Users. Most home applications are fine with a single user and password shared among family members. No need to allow anyone else local or remote. You definately do not want a ‘Guest’ account.

Turn off indexing. If you have more than 500,000 files, indexing might be useful, otherwise it is just an unecessary burden.

Add content to the Hosts file. Many websites live off advertizing. When browsing the internet I am not interested in viewing advertizing. It is always the junk products and services that get advertized the most and I don’t want to waste my time and bamdwidth suffering through their nonsense. So I use the Hosts file to block them. They get blocked by equating their IP address to the local host. Do a Google search on ‘Hosts’ and you will find several sources providing ready made Hosts files. Caution: very, very long hosts files will increase website discovery time. The website will still load quickly but it might take a while to find it.

The preceeding lists things that you should do to secure the computer. The following are things that you should think twice about doing or avoid doing all together.

Do not disclose any personal information unless it is required for a one-time business transaction. This means you do not open accounts and permit the vendor to keep your private information on file ( where it can be hacked or stolen). Yes, I know they have a ‘privacy policy’, and when you read it you will discver that the ‘Privacy Policy’ allows them to do whatever they want with any information you give them. Why? Because disclosing information on the internet makes that information public.

Do not ‘sign up’ or register on a website when invited to do so. This happens frequently on stories listed on the Drudge report. Some even go so far as requireing registration before they allow you to read the story. Publishers that act this way are despewrate to build databases of prospective costomers. Most likely because they are loosing customers and influence due to publishing uninteresting drivvel in the past. These sites are excellent fodder for the Hosts file.

Don’t allow your browsers to manage or remember passwords, or keep a history of websites visited, or allow cookies to linger. All such information shoud be dumped upon exiting the browser.

Many news story sites allow you to comment on the story but first they want you to identify yourself by giving them your email address. Don’t give your actual email address to strangers or you might find yourself having to change it to avoid all the spam you will be getting. Besides, no one really cares what you think about the story or anything else. They just want your email address because they can sell it.

Do not leave your computer on unattended unless it is doing something useful for you. It used to be that monitor power was derived through the computer power supply. This was before you could easily turn off the computer through software. In those days you used the big red switch on the power supply to kill everything. I am pretty sure you can’t kill the monitor with software on a ‘modern’ computer. I am also sure that you could add a relay inside the power supply to do just that.

Facebook and Twitter. I have no use for these services. Wouldn’t it be neat to share your pictures and stories with your friends and relatves over the internet? It would be neat to share those things with friends and relatives, but not through public websites with the whole world watching. If you must use the internet in this manner, open a private website with restricted access to prevent ‘big brother’ spying on you. The term ‘big brother’ does not always refer to the government.