A Wyoming Welcome

May 8, 2020

Sometimes a video just speaks for itself….  (hey they finally had a video go viral LOL).

Well done, well done. Just visit in a responsible manner. Hopefully our Sheriff hasn’t conned WYDOT into closing down I-80 at the state line as discussed on our local mailing list….he was just joking LOL.

For my east coast friends….Summer 2020 looks like a good one for a “western” road trip. May I suggest a pitstop in South Dakota on the way out. If you don’t want to be in the tourist haven of northwestern WY, may I suggest the Wind River region:


WA4ZKO


COVID19 – Glad we Came Back to the Farm

April 28, 2020

After shooting one foot off we (the USA) apparently felt the need to reload and blast the other foot. A little “wake the frig up” from Shad….

Apparently we can’t “print” food like we do money? Imagine that!

Keep in mind there doesn’t have to be a true shortage, just the perception of a food shortage could create one in just a few days from people wiping the shelves out. You saw how nuts they went over just toilet paper…need I say more?

Get the damn supply chain issues fixed asap or the virus will be the least of our problems. As that slogan goes “society is about 9 meals away from anarchy.”

To be clear, we should be okay if we get things going again over the next few weeks. That said there is not much “buffer” left in things right now.  If supply chain and processing disruptions go on long enough then all bets are off.

For those wondering why we came back to the 4-land farm it should be pretty obvious LOL. Glad we put plenty of well fed Angus beef in the freezer last fall along with a pile of venison. Not to mention neighbors calling wanting garden patches plowed.  Have you tried buying seed (decent quantity vs the sucker packets) lately?  Eye opening eh!

#PlantAGardenIfYouCan  #CantEatJustMeat  #NoFarmsNoFood

WA4ZKO


Memo to Mr. Brown, This is America and….

April 23, 2020

Oh boy, stick with it and enjoy a good LOL…

Memo to Mr. Brown:   We Americans use a different rule book than you are used to. We define the limits of our governance. We don’t “heel” to our government unless we agree to and then only to the limits we agreed upon. That rule book may not be perfect, but it has served us well considering how far this nation has come in just under 250 years.

As far as that pesky 2nd Amendment thingy? Well Mr. Brown it doesn’t exist just so we can go hunting or plinking.  Maybe the following graphics will help you understand why it exists and why we defend it so passionately…..

Oh wait it gets better….

…..that idea of individual freedom and liberty is much stronger in the U.S. than it is Australia,

Well no poop Sherlock. Thank you for such insightful commentary there Captain Obvious. #ImagineThat #CitizenVsSubject

Thank you for your service to your country Mr. Brown, but pardon me for expecting better from a Aussie military officer. You may not like the rule book we play by here, but you should at least understand it better.

 

As far as some of your other commentary…..

Those that have worked a few large disasters here in the states know that the best response comes from the state and local levels with Washington backing them up with Federal resources.  We have these fifty experiments in progress called STATES for a lengthy list of good reasons. There will be many lessons to be learned by examining how each state responded to this mess and the subsequent results.

 

Yes our President needs to be more careful with his choice of words, but nothing new or surprising there. I’m often baffled when folks continue to be shocked when Trump acts like Trump. Akin to being surprised by the sounds of breaking glass after you herded an agitated bull into a china shop.  #WellDuh

PS – I didn’t vote for him but hoped he would grow into the job. That said it would of been a -100F day in hell before I voted for her.  #ThereWasAthirdChoice

 

Memo to the protesters:   If you wish to be taken seriously then act like you will take things seriously if restrictions are relaxed.  Standing there shoulder to shoulder in a crowd with virtually no one wearing a mask = hard for the general public to take you seriously. Yeah we all want to get back to work, but let’s do it smart versus recklessly risking a repeat of 1918 history.  No I’m not saying this is that deadly, but there are lessons to be learned there.

PS – Leave those ultra-powerful (LMAO) scary looking black semi-auto modern sporting rifles at home…or paint ’em pink. You’re apparently triggering a non-native that needs an emergency prescription for two testicles.

 

So some of our politicians are scared of civil unrest? Well maybe they should be scared of the mess they helped create in their districts. Frankly I think most of the country has been relatively well behaved all things considered. I do suspect that could change in a few of our urban zip codes. Plus there are interests out there that will probably send some of the usual paid troublemakers in to stir the pot to get some headlines.

Yes Mr. Brown we Americans are a rowdy bunch at times. Get used to it…or not. We’ll be just fine other than you might want to stay away from some parts of our major cities if this drags on much longer 😉 The bulk of the country will make it through this with some sacrifice, restraint, and copious patience. We’re not nearly as divided as some would love to make you think. If you know American history then you should know how foolish it is to bet against the Americans when times get tough.  ’nuff said.

 

WA4ZKO


BREAKING – The FCC Announces Restructuring of the Amateur Radio Service

April 1, 2020

Gettysburg, PA  – The FCC has announced that it is restructuring the Amateur Radio Service (ARS) with wide reaching changes to take effect on January 1, 2021.

Radio spectrum for new technologies and expansion of existing allocations is becoming increasingly scarce and valuable. The Commission warned that all existing radio services will need to justify their allocations. All radio services will be subject to review every 5 years to assure our finite and valuable radio spectrum allocations are best serving the public interest.

While we await publication of the official list of changes and revised Part 97 rules, the following summarizes the changes:

1.  50 MHz – The ARS will remain primary user on 50-52 MHz. 52-54 MHz has be reallocated away to digital broadcasting. FCC felt all existing activity could easily be consolidated into the bottom 2 MHz of the band.

2. 144 MHz – The ARS will remain primary user on 144-146 MHz. 146-148 MHz has been reallocated away to Public Safety users.  Studies showed that the existing 4 MHz wide band was underutilized and existing activity could be shifted into the bottom half of the band to free up additional VHF-Hi spectrum for critical Public Safety needs.

3.  220 MHz – The ARS will no longer have access to this band. It will soon be auctioned off to commercial uses.

4.  70cm – The ARS will loose access to the 420-435 MHz and 440-450 MHz. After several studies of band utilization across the country the FCC has decided to allocate 420-430 MHz to federal government use and allocate 440-450 MHz to Public Safety. The Commission felt strongly that 10 MHz of spectrum was plenty for ARS usage especially now that so much past radio repeater link usage of this band is now being done over the internet.

5.  33cm & above – All spectrum above 902 MHz will be allocated away from the ARS. The commission commented that ARS utilization of this extremely valuable spectrum is now so low that the public interest is not served by maintaining the current ARS allocations. A portion of the 23cm band will be provided towards the next generation of FirstNet. The remaining spectrum will be auctioned off to commercial wireless carriers in support of future 6G and beyond infrastructure deployments.

6.  HF – The 160m band has been reallocated away from the ARS towards the creation of a new AM broadcast band. Stations licensed to use this will be given “clear channel” assignments and allowed to run up to 250kw to combat the increasing noise floor on the current AM broadcast band.

All ARS HF operations on 80m thru 10m will become secondary user status and be restricted to a maximum of 200 watts ERP. Studies are underway as to which commercial and military users can make best use of the remaining ARS HF spectrum and what if any limited accommodations can be made for the ARS.  A commissioner was recently overheard commenting that “the days of them keeping all this valuable spectrum for contesting and DXing are coming to an end.”

 

UPDATE:  A Connecticut based organization claiming to represent the national interests of thousands of amateur radio service hobbyists provided the following public comment on the news out of Gettysburg. “Apparently our strategy of increasingly focusing upon quantity over quality turned out to be a suboptimal approach. Our members can rest assured that we will be working diligently with the Commission in the coming months. Our primary focus will be retaining access to at least enough 28 MHz spectrum to create 40 AM/SSB channels for a new HF radio service called the Appliance Operator Radio Service aka the AORS.”

 

73
Jeff
WA4ZKO /7


7/4-Land? K4KPN-14 RMS, K4KPN-10 APRS, WA4ZKO-7 HF Gate

March 19, 2020

Greetings from the Land of Uncertainty. Hey, it is what it is.

An update to deal with some of the FAQs in the inbox. I’ll “may” go into more detail over the weekend if I get enough downtime.

 

K4KPN-14 RMS Gateway:

Early this morning I re-enabled the K4KPN-14 RMS (Winiink packet gateway) on the Jonesville node/app stack. I received some “nudges” about bringing it back considering everything going on now. While we don’t particularly need it for our local needs, I do get the case for it possibly being handy due to being located between two major cities. I was out of town and originally denied the latest request, but a family issue brought me back to 4-land briefly.

To be clear I don’t foresee this COVID-19 disaster becoming a real communications emergency that will require a major ham radio response. But there are a lot of unknowns here that only time will answer. Plenty of room for “oops, we never thought about that biting our backsides” problems to develop.

Plus there is always the possibility of another natural or man-made event developing on top of this virus disaster and cause failures or serious overload of existing strained systems. Let’s face it, the earthquake in Utah reminded us that we need to avoid getting “tunnel vision” on the COVID-19 threat.

K4KPN-14 is back on the air for a roughly 6-month probationary status. Later this summer I will review usages levels and decide if it remains available after that. #UseItOrLooseIt

I did a quick stress test of all the RF ports below except 220 as I don’t have 220 in the truck. All looked solid.

Port QRG Mode
1 441.050 9.6k
2 145.690 1.2k
3 223.660 1.2k
4 WAN
5 28.148 USB RP
6 50.620 1.2k

I’m leaving to catch a ride back west here in a bit, but will try to test the 220 port on remote this weekend when I have some downtime. The guys also wanted Serial-over-IP PWAN access to a Pactor and 1200 baud modem so we have some redundancy into the digital side of NTS if needed. That will be worked on over the weekend as/if time allows.


 

K4KPN-10 30m RP APRS Gateway’s Future?

Lot of inquiries regarding the future of the K4KPN-10 30m RP APRS Digi/Gateway’s future due to SCS announcing the EOL of the SCS Tracker DSP TNC.  Rest easy, we have no plans to shut down K4KPN-10.

The underlying component availability problems that impacted the Tracker will eventually impact some of the other older SCS models. I suspect at some point we’ll have a Gen 3 Tracker, but nothing official yet. With the Coronavirus mess on top of the lingering NYU/Rappaport mess it is safe to say SCS has other priorities for now. How all that plays out will certainly have impact on their future product lineup.

The EOL of the current SCS Tracker DSP TNC does not mean RP is dead.  Plenty of existing Tracker TNCs out there along with other modems that do Robust Packet.  There is ZERO indication that SCS is abandoning Robust Packet. The SCS Tracker DSP TNCs have proven to be reliable workhorses.

KYPN has at least one spare Tracker TNC on hand, preprogrammed, and ready to plug-n-play at the K4KPN-10 station if something happens to the current TNC. That said, we use RP elsewhere and the one on our 10m port is considered “essential” to local needs. Thus if something happened to the current K4KPN-10 TNC before a replacement model becomes available then we would have to debate utilizing our spare TNC on 30m RP APRS or keeping it for the non-APRS 10m RP port. We will cross that bridge when and if we get to that point.

 

Future Planning?

Obviously everything just got flipped on its head overnight….for all of us.

As far as KYPN’s future? If you don’t read it here or on the BBS then give it the credibility of your typical Wash’ DC politician LOL.

We are considering getting a 2nd “spare” RP TNC so we don’t get stuck with the tough decision previously mentioned. Obviously other higher priorities are at play right now, but KYPN will do it’s best to make it across the long haul ahead.

Remember KYPN is not some large formal club with a big member dues funded bank account. Unless you are super wealthy (hope you have copious liquidity right now LOL) we all are going to have to tighten up the budgets going forward for awhile.

 

Endless uncertainty about so many things right now.

I join many in deep concern (understatement of the year) about what we are likely to see happen to the NYC area and parts of the west coast here in the coming weeks. It is what it is, denying reality doesn’t change reality. The math is what it is and none of the models look pretty. That said, we will get through this.

A good one for the “It’s no worse than the flu bro” folks….

Not mine, but makes a point. I’d add that in parts of Italy the bodies are piling up in churches. The Italian healthcare system is rated the 2nd best in EU. Yeah their healthcare system has it’s share of problems, but they are a first world country.

Not that anyone is going to escape the impact of this, sure looks like Spain saw the NY/NYC mess and said “hold my beer” and royally screwed its citizens.

While it’s not an end of civilization type of pandemic, it is going to kill a lot of people across the globe and here in the states. It is time for all of us to mentally prepare ourselves for a spell of endless bad news as we witness some dark history ahead.  Don’t panic, but be prepared. Be prepared to take care of yourselves and not depend solely upon others.

Take care of yourselves and your family. Be flexible, be a team, be proactive vs reactive. We just spent the last 24 hours nearly moving heaven-n-earth to get a precious 92 year old member of the family out of a facility that we were not comfortable with him being in if things go seriously sideways in the NYC area. That after a weekend of my NYC and CT extended family turning the 4-land farm QTH into a busy B&B as they fled south to family places in the saner lands of Alabama and Tennessee.

Never imagined I’d see some of the things we’ve all seen in just the last week or so. Neighbor came over Sunday when I was packing the car, saw what I was taking and asked “you going to war or not planning on coming back?’ Told him that I usually pack against a known itinerary so this is kind of surreal. Had to pack for the possibility of having to stay and function from one of four locations for unknown periods of time.

Moving on…  Maybe we will get lucky and going “whew, we dodge that one” in a few months. Suspect we best all start wrapping our minds around the concept that things are going to get worse. Then it’s going to get even worse before it gets better.

The news today was refreshing in a way, but we still have the immediate problem to deal with this Spring and none of the math or models look good.

 

WA4ZKO-7 HF Gate

Some have inquired about if I have the WA4ZKO-7 RP HF Gateway node active. It will be active at times on QRGs like NET40R and NET30R.

Sorry I can’t provide a live schedule or the like. It is a convenience node/gateway into the local packet WAN. May or may not be available on a day to day basis since it uses my 4-land shack radio which I may need for other remote uses at times.

We are entering storm season and I’m counting on others to disconnect/connect antennas based upon local weather there. Since I don’t have a spare for the Tracker TNC on it, no storm chances will be taken with it or all the associated hardware (IC-7300, ATU, PSU, TNCs, etc).

 

Bugging out to 4-land or 7-land?

Well actually we have several options including a 0-land option at the XYL’s parents farm in Iowa. Just got the XYL back in from Chile and she’s wrapping up work this week. What’s left of their decimated (thank you virus) Spring flight schedule can be handled by the younger pilot crews that are lower risk and need the flight hours/paychecks.

For a few days we’re going to be helping her family repair some farm equipment. Like so many farms out there they have had a couple rough years and need a good year. Going to spend a few days there helping them save some money on repairs by doing it ourselves. I was going to go out and do that in April, but too many unknowns now to wait that long. Life has to go on and the crops have to be planted this Spring….well that is if we would like to keep eating.  #NoFarmsNoFood

I can Telecommute for 70-80% of what I do. We’re both blessed to be where we have some work from home-office flexibility for now.

Basically plans are open after we get done in 0-land. Maybe back to 4-land, maybe just camp out in 0-land to see how things look after a few weeks. At this point we just don’t know for sure. Obviously wise to be in a good spot in case a national lockdown occurs so travel comes with some risks. I suspect at some point we’ll see some state/regional lockdowns around some of our major cities. I really don’t want to think about what it would take to go “national” in scale and the damage that would be done.

The 7-land QTH is in a high traffic tourist haven with considerable supply chain risks, so probably not the best place to be in something like this. A friend’s QTH in S. Idaho has less traffic this time of year, but also considerable supply chain risk. We have open invitation to a friends place out on the reservation and frankly that may well be the best 7-land safe haven for something like this if it mutates again or everything really derails.

 

Seeing too much fear out there. For my American readers…. Prepare, not panic.  Buck up, this is America and we WILL get through this.  In the words of Sootch “Be Strong, Be of Good Courage. God Bless America, Long Live the Republic!”   #LetsRoll

 

WA4ZKO


Coronavirus Math

March 10, 2020

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. I’m not an Epidemiologist nor do I play one on TV.  Just the opinions of an average guy worth exactly what you paid for them. I do have some HazMat training in my background, but that is only minimally relevant here. Do your own research, form your own informed opinions.

 

Late Breaking….. This interesting study just landed in the inbox tonight as I was working on this. Yeah it’s from China, but at this point we’ll take any relevant transmission data on this particular virus into consideration.

Coronavirus can travel twice as far as official ‘safe distance’ and stay in air for 30 minutes, Chinese study finds

Key takeaways from the above?  This little bastard can survive on a surface for up to a few days depending upon several variables. It can stay airborne for 30 minutes and travel at least 14-15′ in an environment like a bus, train, plane, etc.  My guess is depending on how well it was aerosolized and the localized environment (airflow, thermals, etc) it may drop to a surface faster or slower than what was observed there in that bus.

 

Now onto my original posting….

Yes more testing/screening could of/should of been done sooner as it may of helped “flatten” the spike in cases that few communities in this country will escape. There will be plenty of time for the would of, could of, should of finger pointing after this mess fades away.

That said, some need to realize the limits of even the best testing scenario in a country of 327,000,000+ people scattered across 3,797,000 million square miles. Read that again and let the scale of it sink in. As I reminded a friend from Portugal “dude you’re in a country with 10 million people packed into a land mass of just under 36,000 square miles. What is a big challenge there does not scale up that well here.” #Perspective

Yes China appears (if we trust the news out of there???) to have done a decent job of containing things. That said, remember they knew before anyone else did that they had a problem and locked things down a draconian manner around the source area. It is likely to flare up in other regions in the coming weeks/months, but they did buy themselves some time albeit at a heavy cost to their economy.

If the virus has been here in the U.S. since early January then it is safe to say we entered this ballgame way behind in the containment power-curve. It’s here, been here for awhile now and full containment seems virtually impossible at this point minus some seriously draconian measures.

Our leaders are left with only a few tough options and they all suck. How we can flatten the spike in cases to keep the seriously to critically ill patient load on our healthcare system somewhat under control? How to keep the panic and economic damage minimized?

If we take the data out of China then we can realize the ugly math of this…

  1. 80% of those infected will only suffer very mild illness no worse than a cold or mild flu.
  2. A good percentage of those above (I see 20% being tossed around) will be asymptomatic. They will not even realize they have it and likely go around spreading it. That’s good for them, but bad news for the rest of us.
  3. 15% will become seriously ill. Some of those may need to enter into the healthcare system to some degree.
  4. 5% will become critically ill and require hospitalization. Let’s focus on just this 5% number below.

Now for the part where you might want to skip reading further and just click here if you are a recovering alcoholic or having trouble sleeping at night.

Well the spread models on this are all pretty much showing 40-70% of us are going to get this virus within the first year. I suggest many of us need to make peace with that. My immediate family has done so. In a bittersweet way I’m glad my late parents (both in their mid-80s) are gone otherwise I’d be seriously worried about them. I still have members of my extended family that I pray don’t get this virus considering their age and health risks.

So let’s just run those numbers above against the U.S. population….

U.S. population is 327,000,000+ people, probably more like 335-340 million but we’ll run with the 327 million figure.

Let’s go for the low end of the infection spread models where 40% of the population gets the virus. That is around 131 million people infected in the U.S.

5% of 131 million means equals around 6.5 million “critically” ill cases. Let that number register with you.

Total bed count for all U.S. hospitals is around 925,000 beds. Obviously a good percentage of those beds are already in use for patients with other problems. I don’t have good numbers for total ICU bed counts, but it is safe to say we don’t have 925k ICU beds.

You take the above and do your own math of the brutal problem we face here.

Obviously we need to pull that 40% infection number way down. We need to get a lot more proactive otherwise a “reactive” only approach is going to be even uglier. At this point total containment nationwide is probably a pipe dream. Lets focus on flattening out that spike of that 5% patient load over time versus a sudden deluge. All while figuring out how to deal with the economic consequences.

Time to go proactive. Secure highly vulnerable populations like nursing homes, assisted living homes, and yes even existing hospital patients. Close the schools for at least a few weeks. Cancel events that create large crowds. Let’s examine the wisdom of keeping air and rail going for anything other than cargo. TeleWork, TeleEducation, TeleHealth and so forth need to become a new norm for those businesses, schools, and etc that can pull that off.  Yeah all a heck of a lot easier said than done.

This is not 1918. We have much better medicine, a lot more knowledge on how to fight something like this, and we have a lot of technology that can help.

Maybe NYC (and some other major cities) should also consider having their jail inmates start making shovels and start building field hospitals. We have a bigger problem here than a shortage of hand sanitizer.

Our European friends are not going to fare any better. Situation on the ground in Italy provides a real world example of how fast the medical system will be overrun as the spread ramps up.

Picturing what happens when this gets into highly vulnerable areas/populations here in the states is ugly enough. I want to cry when I think about what happens if this goes exponential in places like parts of India and Africa.

Need surgery? Suggest you get it scheduled and done asap.

 

If you are of the prayer type then pray for a vaccine, some containment miracle, or another mutation that tames this virus way down. Also pray for peace and cooler heads to prevail in the months to come. Not hard to envision the tremendous global anger aimed towards a certain country in the far east after we bury so many of our Fathers, Mothers, Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents. Never mind that we’ll be lucky if we just go into a short but deep economic recession versus a depression.

 

As for what we are starting to see here and the likely explosive spread to follow over the next few weeks? Allow me to leave you with the very relevant quote below…

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” Albert Bartlett

 

UPDATE March 10th:   Well the leaked AHA document would seem to indicate the math above was definitely in the ballpark. Consensus of the experts is 96 million infected here in the states. 4.8 million hospitalized, and 480k deaths.

My guess is they are running with the S. Korea numbers which are not perfect, but seemingly the best available. That will point towards a case fatality rate of around 0.5%. For perspective, the flu case fatality rate runs around 0.1%. Appears they also feel around 5% of cases will require hospitalization. That 96 million infected number means they expect around 30% of the U.S. population will get infected. Still a huge problem for our hospitals to manage. The math is what it is.

I doubt that was “leaked” in the traditional sense. More like an unofficially blessed incremental release of bad news. If you have to feed the population some really bad news, you don’t do it all at once. Still going to get interesting watching how our population reacts to the reality that will become more and more unavoidable in the days to come.

Get some rest. You are about to witness a dark chapter in world history. I have not drank since my Father’s passing just before Christmas 2018, I’m having a glass of Woodford Reserve tonight.

 

WA4ZKO


Video – Harvard Forum on Coronavirus Situation

March 8, 2020

““We have an entirely susceptible population” “The potential for this to burn through a population very quickly is very high without extraordinary measures.”  Michael Mina, Epidemiologist at Harvard

Yes the politics show/lean in certain directions at times, but an interesting discussion.

FYI – for those that haven’t made any preparations….ah….you best get to it.

 

WA4ZKO