Posts Tagged ‘freq’n magic’
“One man’s signal is another man’s noise,” began Dr. Kudeki as he derived incoherent scatter radar theory from Nyquist’s noise theorem in ECE458. I think of that statement often, whether it be QRM on the ham bands or sifting through the pocket litter of web users looking for their consumption preferences.
This morning, I admired just such an example of signal and noise while watching the NOAA Doppler weather radar. Undesired targets of a radar that return echoes are termed “clutter” in the radar parlance and one simplistic way of eliminating clutter, especially when you expect the desired scatterers (“targets”) to move, is to assume that all of the stationary returns are clutter. In the weather radar, we get clutter from all sorts of stationary things like trees, hills, and buildings. Of course, what causes the clutter to move?
You see, it was one of those humid August mornings when a ham’s mind wanders to…tropospheric ducting. Yes, indeed the clutter returns were moving, intensifying before and after sunrise. I was fixated on this and watched the loop over and over again before noticing an even more interesting bit of clutter!
Beginning at 0958 UT on 4 August 2014, there is a small ring forming out over the Elk River area. The ring, which is indicated by the downward-pointing vertical arrows, expanded over the next >40 minutes. I was puzzled and watched the loop over and over. I considered and discarded a number of theories before resorting to Google. Apparently, it’s very likely a flock of birds. Sure enough, the epicenter of the ring is Elk Neck State Park. Fascinating.
The slanted arrows in the figure above indicates the ground clutter that I was originally noticing as a signature of tropo ducting, obviously now of secondary interest in this sequence of images!
Epilogue: I sent these frames to my father, who is an avid observer of the natural world. He passed them along to two friends back home who are birders. At press time, one reported that he had learned of these “bird circles” from Greg Miller, another birder from the area who got famous as one of the subjects of the book (and movie of the same title) The Big Year. I haven’t read/seen it, but I guess they went to Adak, which has a special place in my heart. Anyhow, it’s a funny small and interesting world in which we live.
The November 2011 issue of QST contains an Op-Ed that really left me shaking my head more than normal. The author bemoans the complexity and feature sets of newer handheld radios and pines for the days of his IC-02AT. He goes on at length about the “unnecessary” receive capabilities (NOAA weather broadcasts, AM/FM radio, etc) and how he has to search for the manual every time he wants to program a repeater offset.
Well, as someone who recently upgraded from a radio just slightly newer than the IC-02AT to a “modern” HT, he’s wrong on nearly every account (except the micro-/mini-USB port, which I would wholeheartedly support for charging purposes).
- Eliminate extraneous features. Too bad we all have different definitions of this. I think scanning is a worthless feature, but like NOAA/NWS weather broadcasts. In fact, my wife is delighted that we now have a battery-powered AM/FM+NOAA/NWS radio again that I will always be able to find and will guarantee that it works. Did you hear that, guys? My non-ham wife actually likes my HT and uses it to listen to FM radio!
- Eliminate multilevel menu trees. I’m just dying to replace my cell-phone-sized VX-3r with a knob-covered brick. I’m sure you are too. It’ll look great in my shirt pocket.
- Eliminate the proprietary programming cables. Maybe I’m not a typical ham, but I only have about ten memory channels programmed into my VHF/UHF FM radios and they took about 10 minutes to program through the front panel (my bad, menus). The mini-/micro-USB port is a good idea for charging, though.
- Allow for a battery pack that uses disposable batteries. Last time I checked, most radios have this option. Did I miss something?
- Create an inter-vendor standard for user interface. What if they standardize on Icom?!?! The last Icom VHF/UHF FM radio I used received a “grade of S, for ‘stupid’” from its owner. That was in 1993. All of the Japanese manufacturers will be put out of business by the factory owned by the Chinese military that produces their products before this happens.
He should buy another IC-02AT if he liked them so much. I bet for a Jackson or two, you could have a nice one…complete with the 6x AA battery holder. Heck, buy two or three for spare parts. I think I have the Service Manual around here somewhere if I didn’t already sell it.
On a more serious note, there are lots of no-frills radios available out there, even brand new ones with factory warranties. Until recently, at least, the money in VHF FM radios was in two-way, government, and public safety, not amateur. There are a lot of amateur rigs at the “low end” of the market that share a lot in common with their commercial counterparts. And, of course, you can always buy used Motorola gear on eBay if you desire ultimate performance and ruggedness.