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Support Your Local Club

Posted on by AE0BQ

Taylor County Amateur Radio Club doesn’t have a website per se but here is their Facebook page. I met a few of the members at a local event last spring, but have not yet joined up or attended any meetings. The next club meeting is in January, so I’m planning on attending and becoming a member at that point. Meanwhile, I’ve been checking in to their net on Sundays at 1900 and talking on the repeater. I’m using a QYT KT-8900D 25W mini mobile and a mag mount whip, but plan to dig the Kenwood TM-V71A out of storage and re-learn the front panel.

Back in the saddle

Posted on by AE0BQ

I have to confess I have not been on the air for the last 18 months or so. So, I fished my QYT KT-8900D, MFJ-4225MV 12V power supply, and a dual band mag mount whip out of my storage container. Stuck the mag mount outside, ran the cable through an existing opening, connected everything, powered up, and then realized I needed to reprogram the KT-8900D.

I have a dual boot setup on my computer, and happened to be booted into Windows 11 instead of Ubuntu. So, I went out and downloaded the latest version of CHIRP. However, when I plugged in the USB programming cable for the KT-8900D, the Prolific USB driver complained that it wasn’t a valid Prolific device. Gee thanks, Prolific! Or maybe that should be “Gee thanks to the Chinese silicon vendors that cloned Prolific’s chips and used their VID/PID”. Anyway, I went off in search of the solution that would get my USB programming cable working under Windows.

Turns out I needed to downgrade to an older version of the Prolific USB driver, v3.2.0.0, which can be downloaded here. I went ahead and used Device Manager menu to manually uninstall and remove the current driver, then installed the v3.2.0.0 driver, then rebooted and everything worked.

Downloaded the radio memory, and since it was all out of state repeaters that I will not need in my new location, cleared all memory slots except the first two, and typed in the parameters for two local repeaters, which I obtained from

After CHIRP uploaded to and reset the radio, I selected the VHF repeater, listened for a bit and heard no traffic, so I kerchunked and got the repeater ID! Woo hoo! Of course, I know you’re not supposed to kerchunk, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt just this once. I monitored the VHF repeater for a couple more minutes but there wasn’t much traffic, and there was a lot of QRM that sounded like people trying to get in with HTs or something.

Next, I switched over to the UHF repeater, which is linked full-time to SARnet. When you key your mic on a SARnet repeater, you are hitting all 17 repeaters statewide that are networked via the Florida DOT microwave system (analog, baby!) with towers up and down the major Interstates and Turnpike. That’s quite a megaphone!

I monitored the UHF repeater for a few minutes, and heard traffic from all over the state, mostly signal checks from people traveling the Interstates, trying to see if they are hitting the various repeaters as they travel between coverage areas.

I waited for a lull in the traffic, keyed the mic, counted silently to one, and said: “This is AE0BQ alpha echo zero bravo quebec looking for signal check please”. KF4ZOJ came back and said I was 5 by 9 and full quieting. This stands to reason as I’m running 25W about 3 miles from the repeater input. Being nervous and rusty, I fumbled his call sign, sorry about that, KF4ZOJ! Also did a quick QSO with K4NRD and KQ4DFJ.

I’m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly jimson weed
I’m back in the saddle again

Rest in peace, Orvon Grover Autry

New hosting service

Posted on by AE0BQ

I migrated the blog from an unmanaged VPS to a Shared Hosting plan on Hostwinds. Their support is very good, and I know this because I really leaned heavy on them the past few days. I haven’t used cPanel in like 8 years. Check them out here:

I made a full copy backup of the VPS onto my laptop using rsync, no problem. WordPress files were captured just fine, but I used a WordPress plugin to export the MySQL database. Big mistake. The export file turned out to be unusable, but I didn’t find that out until *after* I had shut down the old site. My bad! In hindsight, I should have just run mysqldump while the VPS was still up.

So I had to migrate the MySQL database by hand, using the VPS backup files on my laptop. Sadly, my time using databases ended with dBASE IV in 1987. I had to learn a thing or two, and right quick.

So, copied the MyISAM files from the VPS backup to /var/lib/mysql, ran MySQL (Mariadb), modified the wp options table to disable all plugins, dropped the various garbage tables left over by plugins (by matching table names with the default WP instance created on the new site using cPanel), exported via mysqldump, created a new database in cPanel, edited the dump file to comment out the CREATE and USE commands, imported the dump file, added a MySQL user and password for the new database, and last but not least, edited the wp-config.php file to set the new database, user, password, and table prefix.

I was astounded and rather gratified when I reloaded the new site and all the old content was displayed. Yay me!

Relo 2021

Posted on by AE0BQ

It was summer of 2021 and the local real estate market was on fire. The market value of my house had rocketed into the stratosphere over the previous 9 months. I’m getting close to early retirement age, so I decided to cash out and relocate. I bought a used 5th wheel RV, sold my house, and purchased a small cottage in a low-density area in north Florida.

Before: $1550/month, and $2200 annual taxes.
After: $0/month and $500 annual taxes.

[Update: as of August 2022, estimated annual taxes on the old house were $3001. ]

The pack and move process was pretty smooth, I shipped my car, transferred most of my belongings using an 8x8x16 ft container from 1-800 Pack Rat, and hauled my 5th wheel trailer 1800 miles with my pickup.

The house came with a brand new 12×24 metal shed, plus I bought a 40 ft steel shipping container. I think I will set up my ham shack in the metal shed. I checked this site to determine max height without having to register with the FAA. It’s quite close to a small airport, so unfortunately I am limited to about 50 ft overall. Previously I was using a 35′ tower with a J-pole on top and a G5RV with a tuner. The G5RV never worked very well for me, so I will probably put up something like a Diamond CP6AR on a separate tower. There are numerous trees around 50-60 ft tall, and the property is 330 x 250 ft, so I might try stringing a long wire.

AE0BQ cancer update

Posted on by AE0BQ

Well, I’m not dead.

I recently ended treatment, albeit a week early, and am slowly recovering from the debilitating effects. I decided to end treatment a week early because the target radiation dose was 70 Gray, and there are trials running 50 Gray for the exact same type of cancer. My cumulative dose was already 60 Gray.

The biggest problem was chronic nausea leading to dehydration, malnutrition, and fatigue. Lost 50 pounds (good for heart, BP) and was on IV fluids (saline gravity drip) for a time. Had a bit of pain when swallowing as well. Spent most of the time sleeping.

Perhaps the worst aspect is the high-viscosity mucus that accumulates in the throat. Normally reflexive swallowing clears saliva, but apparently that doesn’t happen due to the high viscosity, and the swallowing pain is probably a factor as well. When it accumulates, it triggers vomiting along with potential for aspiration. I’ve aspirated stomach acid a few times, very unpleasant and painful, but thankfully did not lead to pneumonia, just some acute laryngitis that cleared on its own. Anyway, I found that by sleeping on my right side, the gurgling wakes me up, then I do a deep clear (i.e. hawk a giant loogie) and go back to sleep. Sleeping on the left side tends to result in aspiration into the laryngeal vestibule, which triggers vomiting and potential aspiration. TMI, right?

Daily intake now consists of an short-term anti-emetic (ondansetron) followed by a Boost Plus, and 500 mL water, 2x a day. So only about 700 calories, but I will be adding another boost to get the calories up to 1000-ish. Swallowing pain subsided a few days ago, so I am now able to drink normally, which is key, because hydration is far more critical than nutrition!

Neck burn was bad, now almost healed. Hair loss is only my beard (chin and neck). Olfactory works, but taste is completely borked, and will be for months. Oh well, it’s delicious vanilla gunk and bottled water for now.

Next milestone is a PET scan in December, then another in March. If both of those show no sign of recurrence, I’m probably ok as far as the cancer itself, but still have to get follow-up PET scans every year…forever.

AE0BQ has cancer

Posted on by AE0BQ

What is Oropharyngeal Cancer?

Oropharyngeal cancer, also known as tonsil cancer, is a disease in which abnormal cells with the potential to both grow locally and spread to other parts of the body are found in the tissue of the part of the throat (oropharynx). This includes the base of the tongue, the tonsils, the soft palate, and the walls of the pharynx. In my case, the soft palate and pharynx are not involved.

Testing and Diagnosis

A CT scan with contrast showed a tumor on the tonsil approximately 2.9 x 2.1 x 3.0 cm, a slightly smaller tumor on the base of tongue, and a partially cystic mass within the right level II region, approximately 3.6 x 2.9 x 3.2 cm in size, located at the anterior margin of the right sternocleidomastoid muscle. The mass was believed to be metastatic adenopathy.

Thus, the tentative diagnosis was Stage III if HPV+.

A fine needle aspiration with ultrasound guidance was performed on the lymphatic cyst, but the analysis was inconclusive due to insufficient cancerous cells in the fluid.

A surgical biopsy was performed on the base of tongue under general anesthesia. This time, the analysis confirmed it was HPV+ P16 cancer.

Finally, a PET-CT scan was performed to confirm the size and location of cancerous tissues, and to identify any potential remote metastases, of which none were seen.

PET scan slice showing “hot spots” at tonsil, base of tongue, and level II lymph node.

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear imaging technology that enables visualization of metabolic processes in the body. A radionucleide tracer, in this case fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is injected, which the body metabolizes in the same way as normal glucose. When metabolized, the tracer molecules emit a positron which combines with electrons to produce an orthogonal pair of gamma rays, which are detected by a scanner ring. The gamma ray vector data is used to reconstruct a color-mapped 3D image database corresponding to glucose uptake levels. The image shown above is a single 3D “slice” through the suspected cancer area in the head and neck. Glucose “hot spots” are indicated by yellow color mapping. Hot spots appearing in the suspected area indicate cancerous tissue. Areas of the body which are normally high-glycolic such as the brain, eyes, kidneys, and urinary tract also appear as hot spots, but can be safely ignored in this case.


My treatment plan consists of a single weekly chemotherapy session plus radiotherapy sessions 5 days per week. The treatment runs for 7 weeks total.

Adjuvant therapies include speech and language pathologist sessions to exercise swallowing muscles, and physical therapy sessions to stretch neck muscles and tissues to reduce stiffness and improve lymph drainage and circulation.

The chemotherapy regimen consists of Cisplatin and other agents delivered intravenously by infusion pump. Other agents include Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, and Sodium Chloride IV 0.9 % for electrolytes and hydration, corticosteroids Dexamethasone and Methylprednisolone to prevent inflammation, Diphenhydramine to suppress allergic reaction, and Fosaprepitant and Palonosetron to prevent vomiting. The weekly chemo infusion takes about 6 hours.

Radiotherapy sessions are delivered on a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator. This sophisticated IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) machine produces a dynamically modulated and collimated ionizing radiation beam while moving circumferentially around the patient. A tungsten multi-leaf collimator shapes the beam cross section to produce a precisely targeted high radiation dose in the cancerous tissue while minimizing the radiation dose delivered to surrounding healthy tissues. An integrated CT scanner precisely determines patient position and orientation to achieve repeatable sub-millimeter positional accuracy.

Each daily radiotherapy session is painless and takes less than 15 minutes. The overall cumulative dose is 70Gy for the 3 targeted cancerous areas, 40Gy for the overall neck, with minimized dose on salivary glands, thyroid, etc. The daily fractionated dose is about 2Gy.

Expected Side Effects of Treatment

  • Permanent:
    • xerostomia (loss of overall salivary output)
    • loss of right submandibular salivary gland
    • loss of lower right molars requiring partial denture
  • Temporary:
    • oral mucositis (inflamed mucous membranes)
    • changes in smell and taste (can be permanent)
    • intense pain in high dose irradiated areas, increasing from treatment start, subsiding 2-3 weeks post-treatment
    • intense referred pain in right ear (tympanic nerve bundle overload), lasting from pre-treatment until approximately 2 weeks post-treatment


  • Amlodipine – blood pressure (unrelated to cancer)
  • Tylenol 500mg – pain management
  • Oxycodone 5mg – pain management
  • Fentanyl patch – pain management

Follow-up and Prognosis

Post treatment follow up PET scans will be done at 1 month to confirm reduction of cancerous tissue, 3 months to assess healing and/or recurrence, 6 months to assess healing and/or recurrence. PET scan will be performed 2x yearly until disease free for 5 years.

5-year overall survival rate is 90%.


Posted on by AE0BQ

Satellite Network Of Ground Stations

SatNOGS is an open source satellite ground station and network, optimized for modularity, built from readily available and affordable tools and resources.

In a nutshell, SatNOGS is a network of satellite ground stations focused on observing and receiving the signal of satellites, particularly low earth orbit (LEO) cubesats.

SatNOGS explanation.png

SatNOGS is able to retrieve status and telemetry signals, data from payloads (experiments) from LEO satellites operating on the UHF and VHF bands, including the International Space Station.

SatNOGS stations are built using readily available materials, basic tools and machinery such as 3D printers and benchtop CNC, as provided by average hackerspaces. The cost to build a station from scratch and connect to the network runs about USD $300 to $500, but existing ham radio ground stations can also be adapted to reduce the hardware cost.

The mechanical rotator, diplexer, low noise amplifier, antennas and printed circuit board designs are all published under open source license, and full technical documentation and source code is made available publicly at no cost.

man sitting on mountaintop operating a satnogs station with a laptop computer

SatNOGS started in mid-April 2014, during the NASA Space App Challenge hackathon in based in Athens, Greece. The SatNOGS team won first place in the very first Hackaday Prize, which was so popular that they started the Libre Space Foundation.

Signals Everywhere!

Posted on by AE0BQ

KR0SIV Harold Giddings produces a lot of interesting content about SDR and other ham radio topics, check it out.