August Almost Gone, Football Almost Here

August 28, 2014

It’s been a strange summer here. Very dry for awhile, then a stretch of cooler than normal weather. Summer-like weather finally got here in August, and we’ve had the heat and humidity that we expect for this time of year. Persistent storms have given us one of the wettest Augusts in history.

College football begins in earnest tonight. Ohio State and Kentucky have their first games on Saturday. The Buckeyes have lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller for the season due to injury. Some pundits had liked OSU’s chances of making the new four-team playoff at the end of the season. I kind of doubt it now. Mark Stoops continues to bring in highly-rated recruits to Kentucky. Only time will tell if it will be enough to become competitive in the rugged SEC.

Best wishes to my oldest nephew Sam, who is beginning graduate work in anthropology at Brandeis University. His ultimate goal is a PhD. He has been doing some research that attracted the interest of the staff at the Boston-area college. Good luck, Sam!

As usual, ham radio band conditions have been up and down. I completed the July NAQCC Challenge mentioned in my previous post. The autumn will bring better propagation, and I have already seen improvement recently.

Although I “completed” the radio installation in my Toyota RAV4 awhile back, the performance really wasn’t good on anything other than the 10-meter band. By attaching an “extension” to the antenna, even though it is only 22 inches long, much better operation has been realized. I have been using a 17-meter hamstick, and have gotten excellent reports. I think I may have finally gotten over the hump.

Back in February I had made a number of recordings of the AM broadcast band using my Perseus Software Defined Radio (SDR). This summer I finally got a chance to go through these recordings. I found many new stations (not logged before). You can see these loggings on my YouTube channel

I’ve never done much longwave DXing here, as I’ve generally observed a lot of noise here at my city location. But the Perseus seems to do a good job on the longwave frequencies (generally considered to be everything below the AM broadcast band, below 530 KHz). For me, the primary target there is “Non-Directional Beacons” (NDBs). These are aviation beacons that just send their callsign in Morse Code on a continuous basis, so that pilots can get their bearings. I logged a bunch of these from my February recordings, including some from a couple of Canadian provinces.

Mid-Summer Update

July 19, 2014

I’m not much of a soccer fan, though I do admire the sport. So, I didn’t start watching the World Cup until the US played Belgium. I have friends in Germany so I didn’t mind seeing them win it all.

The past Wednesday, Bonnie and I had to say goodbye to a good friend, BW, KJ4EDR. He died last Saturday and was buried Wednesday. Rest in peace old friend!

The Lexington Police switched their radio communications to encrypted P25 digital in early June. That ended many decades of being able to listen to them on VHF FM analog. I shut down the feed I had been providing to It had been very popular, especially when there were celebrations around campus when UK won big basketball games.

I hadn’t been able to do much ham radio stuff this year until the last month or so. I operated Field Day from home as usual, running 5 watts using battery power. For the fourth year in-a-row, I completed a “sweep” of the “13 Original Colonies” special event. I operated the IARU HF contest last Saturday as usual. This year the World Radiosport Team Championship was held as part of the IARU contest. The US took the gold medal, Slovakia the silver, and Germany the bronze.

For July, the North American QRP CW Club challenge is to make 20 5-watt CW contact on the WARC bands (30,17 and 12). I have 14 of them in the log as of this writing.

The Pens Move On

May 6, 2014

Pittsburgh ended up winning the series with Columbus 4 games to 2. In Game 6 in Columbus, the Pens took at 4-0 lead into the third period, only to see the Blue Jackets score 3 times to make it close. Of the 6 games in the series, 5 of them ended in a final score of 4-3.

I didn’t get to see much of the action, but I understand that Brandon Dubinsky was assigned to cover Sidney Crosby, possibly the best active player in the NHL. He did not score a goal in the playoffs against Columbus.

So hockey season ends for me as the weather is finally starting to warm up here. My QRP club had a fun outing Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park. Video is here:



A Pleasant Surprise

April 24, 2014

I frankly didn’t expect the Blue Jackets’ second-ever trip to the playoffs to amount to much. In 2009, Columbus was swept by Detroit, and only one of the four games was even close. This year I hoped the Jackets would be able to eek out a win (their first ever in the playoffs) so that at least there would be that accomplishment to celebrate.

Pittsburgh probably lead the league in man-games lost due to injury, but they now have just about everyone healthy. But some Penguins fans I know were not optimistic about their chances, as they did not play well down the stretch.

As I type this, the best-of-seven series is tied at 2 games a piece. Pittsburgh won games 1 and 3, and Columbus won games 2 and 4. All four games ended with a final score of 4-3, and in all four, the LOSING team led 3-1 at one point. Last night, in the Blue Jackets’ win in front of their home fans, the Pens led 3-0 in the first, before being shut out the rest of the way. Game 2 was similar. Pittsburgh exploded for 3 goals in the first, then were shut out in the second period, third period and first overtime period before Matt Calvert scored early in the second overtime for the win. Both teams have gone for long periods of listless play.

So, after last night, I have to revise my original prediction that the Pens would win the series 4 games to 1. Game 2 proves that Columbus can win in Pittsburgh. So, the fact that two of the remaining three games are there may not mean much. Going out on a limb, something tells me that the Pens will right the ship in time to salvage the series. Hopefully I’m wrong. Columbus is playing with a lot of confidence, and are not awed by Pittsburgh. Either way, it’s been a lot of fun, and the playoffs this year have shown that Columbus can be competitive after many years as a “laughing stock”, as one pundit wrote.



National Runner-Up

April 10, 2014

For some reason I had a sense that I would jinx UK if I posted to my blog during their run to the championship game. So that’s the primary reason why I haven’t posted since March 22. That or some other excuse :-).

After knocking off previously unbeaten Wichita State 78-76, the Cats beat in-state rival Louisville 74-69 to earn a trip to the regional final. There they beat an excellent Michigan team 75-72 which punched Kentucky’s ticket to the Final Four in North Texas.

In the national semifinals, Kentucky edged Wisconsin 74-73 while Connecticut came from behind to beat Florida. Then in the national championship game. Kentucky kept it close in the second half but ended up losing 60-54. The Cats missed 11 free throws while the Huskies were perfect from the line. So an old bugaboo reared its ugly head. Still, Kentucky’s season ended up being a lot better than it appeared toward the end of the regular season.

The Kentucky women took care of Syracuse in Lexington then headed to South Bend to meet Baylor, a team they had beaten 133-130 (4 OT) in Dallas earlier in the season. This meeting was nowhere near as close. The Bears maintained a working margin through most of the game and cruised to the win.

Last night the Blue Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. If the season ended today, Columbus would play Pittsburgh in the first round. However with each playoff-bound team having at least two games remaining, it is possible that positions will shift a bit. The Jackets could be paired with the Rangers, and it is still possible that they could move into second place in the Metropolitan division and get the home-ice advantage in the first round.



Early Exit

March 22, 2014

Ohio State and Dayton were the first teams to go into action Thursday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In a game played in Buffalo, Dayton’s Vee Sanford, who hails from Lexington, hit a layup with 3.8 seconds to go to give the Flyers a 60-59 win over the Buckeyes. So, OSU became the first victim of the upset bug in this year’s tournament.

Kentucky beat Kansas State last night 56-49 in a grind-it-out affair. Next up for the Cats is Wichita State, the first team in college basketball history to go 35-0.

Jenn O’Neill had 21 points as Kentucky opened up tournament play with a 46-point win over Wright State. For the first time, NCAA women’s tourney games are being played in Lexington. Monday night, the Cats will play the winner of the Chattanooga-Syracuse game.

Fell Just Short

March 16, 2014

The Kentucky men entered the season with high expectations. Some thought they would go undefeated. They were ranked #1 in many polls. But the regular season was a nightmare as the Cats lost 9 games and disappointed most everyone.

In the SEC tournament, though, the Wildcats came alive and had big wins over LSU and Georgia to earn a spot in the championship game against regular-season champion and #1-ranked Florida. Kentucky fell behind by 16 in the second half, but fought back and only lost by 1. The Cats had the ball with less than 10 seconds to go, but was unable to get a shot off, as James Young lost his balance and slipped.

In the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State came from 18 down to beat Nebraska in the quarterfinals. In the semis, the Bucks played well but lost to regular-season champion Michigan by 3.

Some unfinished business from last weekend: The Kentucky women played well but lost the SEC tournament championship to Tennessee 71-70.

As I type this, the NCAA men’s tournament pairings will be announced in a few minutes, and the women’s pairings will be announced tomorrow night. The Kentucky women will likely start the tournament on their home court.

A Couple Nice Top-Seed Upsets

March 9, 2014

There is no question that the Kentucky women’s team has underachieved this year, relative to expectations. And Ohio State is rebuilding after a long, moderately successful tenure by former coach Jim Foster. But both teams picked up nice conference tournament wins.

Kentucky opened in the quarterfinals by beating Florida, 75-70. DeNesha Stallworth had early foul trouble, but ended up scoring 13 points. The Gators had won both regular season meetings on the strength of a strong transition offense. But the Cats played well down the stretch to earn a semifinal meeting against top-seed South Carolina.

The Gamecocks had also swept the regular-season series over Kentucky, but the Cats prevailed this time 68-58. Stallworth and Linnae Harper each had 12 points for the Big Blue. South Carolina came into the game ranked fifth, and might have garnered a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament had they won the SEC playoff. But they will watch Sunday as the Cats play in their fourth SEC tournament championship in 5 years. Kentucky has not won this tourney since 1982. The opponent will be Tennessee who beat Texas A&M in the other semifinal.

I saw a regular season game between Penn State and Ohio State earlier in the year, and the Buckeyes were no match for the conference champion Lions. But in the Big Ten tournament, the Bucks turned the tables with a 99-82 quarterfinal rout. In the semifinals, Ohio State lost another close one to Iowa. The Bucks finished the season one game below .500.

The Blue Jackets were routed in Chicago Thursday night, but also beat Dallas and Nashville. They currently hold down the second and final wildcard playoff spot, but there is a lot of hockey yet to be played.

The Kentucky men managed to edge Alabama on Senior Night but then lost big yesterday in Gainesville, as expected. Florida became the first team to go 18-0 in SEC conference play. The Ohio State men host Michigan State this afternoon on Senior Day.

I have not had much time for ham radio lately, but the upper bands have been good. A lot of great DX is being worked on the 10-meter band.


It Just Gets Worse

March 2, 2014

They say it is always darkest right before the dawn. But this season it is looking more and more like the dawn is just never going to get here.

On January 29th, Ohio State suffered probably its most embarrassing loss of the season as Penn State visited Columbus and left with a 71-70 overtime victory. Last Thursday, the two teams met again, this time in Happy Valley. But the result was about the same, with the Lions winning 65-63. The Buckeyes had some pretty good looks at the basket down the stretch, but PSU, a team that will be lucky to make the NIT, held on to complete the season sweep. Today the Buckeyes visit Bloomington, then finish the regular season next Sunday with Michigan State on Senior Day. In the Big Ten, Michigan is in the driver’s seat, being about the only team that hasn’t suffered embarrassing losses.

The world doesn’t look any better for Kentucky. The Cats hosted Arkansas last Thursday, looking to avenge an earlier loss in Fayetteville. The Hogs are notorious for playing poorly on the road, but they left Rupp Arena with a 71-67 overtime win. Last night the Cats visited South Carolina, the worst team in the SEC, and lost again. Calipari was ejected in the second half. UK rallied down the stretch, but just don’t play with enough intensity for enough time to win.

And then there is the weather. We are expecting a fairly major ice/snow storm starting this afternoon. The only thing that is good about long, cold winters is that it delays the start of lawn mowing :-).

First Visit by Spring

February 23, 2014

We have had a few days of Spring weather here, but it is on its way out. Thursday it hit 70 and I had the Miata top down for awhile. Yesterday it was 60 and sunny, and I got a couple of the cars cleaned up. But we could see lows in the teens in a few days.

The UK women scored a big win last Sunday as they knocked off Tennessee 75-71. It was the Cats’ first win in Knoxville since 1985, and the first ever in Thompson-Boling Arena. But this week league-leading South Carolina came to Lexington and won fairly handily to complete a season sweep of Kentucky. The Cats visit Texas A&M this afternoon.

The Ohio State men have put together 3 wins in-a-row over Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota. If the Bucks could develop some consistency here, they might make a good run in the Big Ten tournament.

The UK men went to Oxford and built up a big lead on Ole Miss, then held on for a nice road win. But yesterday it took overtime for the Cats to beat visiting LSU. UK is another team with a lot of potential that might go far in the post-season if they can get things together.


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