Migrated Amateur Radio Newsline Website Over the Weekend

On Friday, February 24, I realized that the website for Amateur Radio Newsline was about to expire. It's been hosted on Squarespace for the past few years but using their version 5 software, which had some limitations. My website has been on version 7 for awhile, so I was encouraging my fellow volunteers for the Newsline site to migrate while we had the chance. Well, we did it! It was made easier by the implementing the built-in import tool that Squarespace provided, but there was a lot of tweaking to get it back to contain every feature it had in Squarespace 5.  Namely, I had to select a different theme for the new site that had a sidebar option. That's not readily apparent when you look at the demo sites using various templates. With a little help from googling for the feature, I was able to find the right template. 
Lots of tweaking was required to get the font size and elements that we wanted to upgrade. We were able to add a page displaying a list of repeaters that regularly rebroadcast the Amateur Radio Newsline reports each week, for example. We also were able to provide a better experience when looking at the Staff pages.
With the additional updates we made, we discovered several people that are regular contributors to the site aren't currently represented on the Staff pages.  We're working on gathering their biographies and headshots right now so we can get them added.

New Static News.mp3 File Link for EchoProducer or Other Automated Download Scripts

One negative outcome from the migration was for those who use automated software to auto-download the weekly file for their repeater. That link changed and there was no way to keep it the same, unfortunately. I have been fielding questions from the amateur radio community since Saturday (when the switch occurred) on how to re-link to that weekly file.

The link is in the right-sidebar and is called WEEKLY ECHOPRODUCER FILE

The new permanent address is: http://arnewsline7.squarespace.com/s/news.mp3  This file will be updated weekly for each new report but the filename should stay the same. Sorry for the inconvenience. Hopefully you'll discover this post and be able to update your system with the change and prevent any problems when people at your repeater site play the report.

Hopefully we'll be able to provide more information and better service the amateur radio listeners out there with our steady improvements. Let me know if you have any ideas on additional elements to add or if you see something that needs to be updated on the site.

Be sure to check out the new site for Amateur Radio Newsline and subscribe to the podcast if you don't already.

IC-7200 -> IC-7300 Upgrade

I'm excited. I didn't expect this, but I jokingly said to my wife when I showed her a photo a friend posted on Facebook that September was "Buy Your Husband a Radio Month" and that she should buy me my dream radio. Imagine my surprise when she said "Go buy your dream radio, Honey!"

Well, that was quite unexpected! I realize that there might be many better radios out there than what I chose as my "Dream Radio", but I had to keep it realistic, so I opted for an IC-7300 by ICOM.  I currently own an IC-7200, which is a great radio, but the new IC-7300 is the latest technology and SDR based, so there's a lot of room for upgrading with (hopefully) new features as time goes by since it is software defined. Also, it was a reasonable price. ICOM calls it an "entry level" radio, but I think it's an order of magnitude better than what used to be considered an "entry level" radio.

The unexpected upgrade didn't come without strings, however.  I had to agree to recover as much as I could with the sale of the old radio. I thought that was reasonable, so I am prepping the old 7200 for resale. Glad I saved the box! 

As an added bonus (which will benefit me and the future owner of the IC-7200) there is no change in the accessory plug pin-out, so I won't have to re-make the accessory plug to mixer cable for this rig. I will also be able to offer the new owner a brand new set of power cables from the new radio's box along with the little bag of accessories (unless they contain different accessory items, then I will only replace what I used from the IC-7200's little bag of accessories.)

What I haven't decided yet is whether to sell locally through a Yahoo Group of local hams or through eBay. I might do the local group just to help someone locally get what they're looking for and save on shipping hassles.

Anyway, the new radio is delivered tomorrow. If I had only timed it a little better, I could've had the new radio for this long weekend (Labor Day weekend 2016) but instead, I get to write about my anticipation. I'm definitely  not complaining. I've been blessed with a wonderful XYL...


Kevin N5PRE

Interview with B-17 Pilot Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (W4VRX)

World War II pilot, Jimmy Fitzpatrick was part of the 388th Bomb Group out of Knettishall, England and flew 36 missions (one more mission than a normal tour) and didn't lose any of his crew. He was on the 560th Squadron and was dispatched in May of 1943 to help win the War there.

Jimmy was a former news photographer for the Birmingham News in Alabama before he joined the War. Before joining up, he was taking photographs of Southeast Conference Football.

560th Squadron Logo

560th Squadron Logo

His longest mission was 11 hours and 15 minutes, flying from England to Poltova, Ukraine to refuel for a mission based out of Ukraine. Just before his arrival in October of 1943, the Germans had destroyed 60 B-17's in the second Schweinfurt raid. 

Jimmy had an opportunity to meet a few famous people on his tour. Jimmy Stewart and Joe Kennedy.  You can hear him talk about those experiences here:

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

B-17 Aluminum Overlay by Kevin Trotman

I met Jimmy when I was commuting home from work in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009 and learned about his Wartime experience through amateur radio. We met on a 2 meter repeater and talked every now and then. I heard that there was a Special Event coming up in October of that year and thought he might be interested in coming along to it because the Aluminum Overcast was going to be there. Jimmy was excited about the prospect. I offered to take him there, but his son ended up hearing about it and was interested too, so his son brought him to the event.  

Jimmy enjoyed the trip and I ended up recording almost an hour of interesting discussions about his experience in World War II. You can listen to the entire interview here:

In 2009, Jimmy was about to turn 93 on October 13, so that'll put him at 98 years old if he's still around as of this writing. I did a search on the Silent Key database and couldn't find his callsign there, so I pray he's still with us and just as sharp as ever. 

I posted this interview years ago on my previous blog, but realized it wasn't there anymore so I decided today to repost it for everyone to enjoy. 

73 de N5PRE


UPDATE: I just heard that Jimmy was active in the North Fulton Amateur Radio League until his passing in 2014. RIP, Jimmy.


Travel Buddies? It Depends on Your Technique!

I’m not much for shave sticks or for shave cream in a tube, but I recently got the opportunity to try out two that I haven’t seen before.  Thanks to a generous fellow wet shaver, I was given a couple of sample (read full size) products that came with a learning curve.

The products I received were a La Toja Jabón de Afeitar from Barcelona and a 1 ounce travel sized Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream from Paris.  I felt very Continental the mornings I tried these lathering lovelies. 

The first one I tried was the Institut Karite Moisturizing Shaving Cream. People have raved about their shaving soap, but this was not the same… it is in a tube and a cream instead. I thought I’d try an almond size amount and put it in my trusty shaving scuttle that never fails to deliver and work myself a lather. It made a nice looking lather, but when I put it on my face, I noticed it was mostly air and water. It felt thin and not very slick. I was severely disappointed with the feel of the blade across my cheek and by the time I finished one side of my face, the lather that was on the other side of my face had lost its bubbles and was just a white smear on my face.  I finished my shave, but it left me with sort of a rash because I was insistent on making it work for me. The next time I tried a different brush and more cream in the mix. It was not much better, but was a little more slick this time. The last time I used it was yesterday. I was out of town and realized I had forgotten to pack any shaving brushes. I thought, what the heck, maybe I’ll just try to smear some cream on my face and see if I can get a decent shave that way. Well, I have to say, I am sort of glad I forgot my brush because it forced me to rethink this cream. I had to use an almond size schmear on each side of my face (twice as much as my normal amount) but what I got wasn’t lather, per se, but a thick cushion that was easy to shave with. The glide was great! It had a great feel under my FatBoy set on 6 with a new Ladas blade. I finished my first pass and felt my face. It still needed that second pass, but the slickness was still very present on my face. I added just a tiny bit more cream on each side to get my second pass and came away with a BBS shave and no irritation! Serendipity! The only downsides were that it used more cream than I was expecting to use and it was hard to rinse all that slickness off my face. I can live with that if what I get out of it is a great shave not at home with all my equipment. This would be a perfect travel shave cream!

I had a similar learning curve on the La Toja Jabón de Afeitar in that I had to change the way I was used to working with soap to get good results. The first time I tried it out, I rubbed the handy travel sized stick onto the sharp ridges of my shaving scuttle to get some hard soap to sort of end up like grated cheese in my bowl. I made a decent lather with it and enjoyed the smell, which was clean but subdued, sort of like Arko.  It wasn’t as easy to lather as Arko, while we’re comparing the two. I had a similarly disappointing first few shaves with the La Toja until I changed the way I used it.  I never was into face lathering that much, so I didn’t have much experience in it. I thought it was time I started to develop that skill, so I rubbed the crap out of that stick all over my ample stubble and got a layer of dry but visibly white soap all over my cheeks and throat. I took my soaked brush and started making circular motions on my right cheek and throat. Pow! Instant thick lather! It just kept getting better with every additional square inch I added to the swirls I was putting on my face. The soap WANTED to be face lathered! How could I know? I don’t speak much Spanish!? It worked like a champ once I figured out what it wanted me to do! I got a great shave with the new method and my brush was still loaded enough for a second pass and could have given me enough for a third pass, but I didn’t need it. This soap also performs much better on slickness and cushion if used properly… so there was definitely a learning curve for this one too.

I know I haven’t gone into a lot of details on scent or quantified the amount of slickness or glide with these soaps, but my intent on this review is to provide encouragement to those who haven’t perfected their technique. Don’t throw away a soap or cream if you don’t get results the first time. Try a different method of achieving a lather. I left these two guys in a drawer for over a month before I revisited them and figured out what they were trying to tell me to get them to work. Diligence is something you also have to develop when working with wet shaving supplies. Sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, but if you try changing your technique, you might be surprised by the outcome… in this case, it was a positive outcome for me!

Happy shaving!

Further Adventures in Shaving

I just won an eBay auction today for a DE (Double Edged) safety razor that may be older than me!  It's a Gillette Super Speed vintage razor. Here's a few photos of the razor swiped from the auction: 

I also found a site that has a fabulous forum about the topic of shaving and signed up on it today as "Radiotube".  It's called The Shave Den. There are a multitude of shaving enthusiasts that are ready to help you figure out how to better enjoy what many men consider a curse... having to shave.  I admit that ever since switching to a DE razor about four years ago (a Parker 96R), I do enjoy shaving more... and saving tons of money by not having to buy 3,4 or 5 blade cartridges at the store that won't even last but a few shaves. Single blade double edge razors are the way to go for me.  I was ready to try another razor, though so I bid on a vintage razor and now anxiously await its delivery.  

My goal is to eventually find a Gillette Super Speed razor made the same quarter I was born: 4th quarter of 1959.

If you haven't made the switch to shaving this old-fashioned way... consider it. You'll never go back to those multi-blade cartridges again!