When we bought the Greenville house in May of 2010, only a small elevated deck was present in the back yard.

We started talking and thinking about other possibilities.  In particular I had fond memories of the screened porch my parents had at the front of the home where I grew up in Wisconsin.

We discussed it with John Wells and by mid-August he had it done.  

Now throughout the long Carolina summers we rarely miss an opportunity to take our lunch and evening meals out there. Love it.


Woke up my Packet Radio Equipment from a ten year slumber. (Last used in Johnson City in 2001.) Was surprised to find that everything still worked, and I could connect to the N4AW-1 digipeater atop Caesar's Head and from there to the DX Cluster in Spartenburg, SC. 

Activity levels are nothing like they were during the heydays of the 80's and early 90's however.

Disappointed with the lack of packet radio activity, I looked into a new mode getting much press in ham radio publications these days - JT65.

JT65 is not at all a rag chewing mode, but rather a digital text-only mode with emphasis on contest-like exchange of calls, signal strength report, and station location operation.

It is a weak-signal mode where 10 watts output with a poor head-high long-wire antenna strung on our backyard fence proved to be sufficient for frequent afternoon contacts on 20 meters with like-powered stations in eastern Europe and South America.


But, a stronger signal is always better and some research suggested that the magnetic loop antenna might provide a significant improvement over the "fence rail" antenna we started with.

So after much reading adopted this design using 1/2" copper pipe as the major structural  component. Tuning proved to be a challenge. Some lathe work was required to fabricate a suitable geared-down manual capacitor adjustment, but it is clear now that some motorized means of remote adjustment will be required in the final design.

Work continues...


  • Ham Radio: JT-65, Magnetic Loop Antenna
  • Lathe cross-feed screw repair
  • Trek bottom-bracket replacement
  • Plex Media Server with iPad, iPhone, and Roku Box/TV clients
  • Converting from iPod Touch to iPhone.
  • eBay R61 Thinkpad, Puppy/Slacko Linux
  • Revisit C++
  • Western Expansion (e-books, old TV series, web sites)
2012 Christmas Letter

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