Creating a QSL card in Inkscape

So since I've become active in ham radio again I have been working 17 meters SSB pretty regularly. The other day I worked a French station F2FG and apparently he needs North Carolina for his Worked All States (WAS) award. I know this because he sent me his QSL card requesting I send him mine to confirm the contact, specifically mentioning WAS. Well that creates kind of a problem because the only QSL cards I have are from when I lived with my parents in Wilmington and I don't live there anymore, plus those cards were ugly anyway!

So I have some free time on my hands and I got started using the Free and Open Source vector graphics editor, Inkscape. I was familiar with this tool and wanted to give it a shot so I went through some tutorials and went at it. I was picking it up alright but I had some issues so I asked my friend Patrick Connelly who has done some work for me in the past with it for some help. He whipped up a template for my required size which I had measured from other QSL cards I had as either 5 1/2" (w) x 3 1/2" (h) or 140mm (w) x 90mm (h). What I had been doing was making the page layout as small as a single card. I asked Patrick how I would want to store this for printing, ie one file with both sides or two separate files.

Getting back into Ham Radio after a 10 year hiatus

I was originally licensed at 16 and was pretty active at the time. I built a 2 meter ground plane antenna out of an SO-239 chassis mount connector and 1/8 inch copper rod. I pulled it up into a 100 ft pine tree. I worked stations simplex on it 40-60 miles away. It was fun.

When I was away at summer camp that tree which was right next to the front door of our house got hit by lightning. It messed up a few things in the house but mostly it just scared the hell out of my little sister and Mom who were the only ones at the house at that time. The fire department came and eventually we had to take the tree down, much to the dismay of our insurance company which wanted to "save" the tree and thus not have to pay for its removal.

My family and I still disagree on the role of the antenna and coaxial cable in the lightning strike. In my studies I thought it said that the highest objects are hit but they blamed the metal antenna in the tree.

I also built a six meter Ten-Tek T-Kit FM transciever one summer and used it to work stations all over the US during sporadic E band openings. It was a blast. I still have that radio but the power amplifier in it is burned out. I tried to fix it once but it burned out again. I will fix it though.

I also worked FM satellites like UO-14, AO-27 and SO-35. I had an Arrow handheld antenna, two HTs (hand held radios) (one for uplink and one for downlink) plus a tape recorder to record the pass. I would go out at night for a 12-15 minute satellite pass with all this gear and my Mom would laugh at me saying I looked like some sort of spy or something. Then I would endure the mosquitos while contacting stations all over the US, Canada and even a little bit of the Northern part of South America. It was a lot of fun.

Eventually I went off to college and while I took my HT with me I didn't use it much. It's hard to setup a station in a dorm room, plus in college you have a lot of new things to do and ham radio can easily fall on the way side among all those new things.

After a ten year hiatus with ham radio I have gotten back into it since Fall 2011. Around 2007 the morse code/CW requirement was dropped by the FCC. I and many other Technician class hams were automatically bumped up to Technician Plus licences. This licence gives you the ability to get on HF SSB but only on 10 meters.

My Dad let me borrow his Radio Shack HTX-10 radio and a dipole which I strung up behind my apartment. Unfortunately at the time the only thing I heard was a CW beacon. I didn't know CW so I copied down each dih and dah on paper and tried to translate it. I am pretty sure it was the K4JDR beacon which is just one county over from me. So that was a bust.

Fast forward to Fall 2011 when my Dad showed me that 10 meters was open to Europe every day. So I hooked that radio and dipole back up and was working Europe stations and US stations every morning when the band opened. That got me itching to get on more HF bands and this January I passed my General. I think it's all downhill from here...

GE Mastr II VHF low band radios

EDIT 2014/07/08: These are for sale, contact me if interested(johnbrier at the popular google mail service)

I bought a couple of these on eBay around 2000 with the intentions of modifying them to work on 6 meters but never did as I was too intimidated on the work required to complete the mod. I hope to do it still, sometime sooner.

I really like this chair

I was in the Best Buy in Cary at Crossroads for another reason and I saw this and after trying it out for a while I and noticing it was on sale for $119 I got it. It's really solid, smaller than my old chair(so it is easier to maneuver around inside my room) and super comfortable. I hope it lasts.

True Seating Concepts - Puresoft Task Chair - Black

Chaco burn when wet

Several times now myself and Derrick have gone hiking in our Chaco sandals. Normally it's great. They support your feet well and help you hike in comfort even with extra weight on your back. However if you hike through water for more than a few miles, say 4-8 miles, you may encounter that your feet have been rubbed raw where the straps contact your skin. Take a look...

Harper Creek 3 inches of rain

It rained a lot early Sunday morning. In Boone it rained 2.26 inches. We ran into some kayakers at the trailhead at the end of our hike that said it rained 3 inches at Grandather mountain. Check out some before and after photos of the two creek crossings we did on our hike.

Take a good look at the rocks in the middle of the creek here

Notice James is standing on the rocks you could see in the previous picture...

HP Touchpad and Preware to improve performance

My buddy Michael picked up an HP Touchpad at $99 and gave it to me for my birthday. I have been enjoying it a lot. At first it seemed too heavy to be a tablet. I thought you were supposed to be able to hold tablets with one hand comfortably but this one needs two after an extended period of time or it needs to lean against something.

Recently some of my friends who have had the Touchpad for a bit longer than me suggested I install Preware so I could install the Uberkernel which increases the CPU clock from the default of 1.1 GHz to around 1.5 GHz which is apparently what the CPU is rated to run at anyway.

My friend Adam created a great Preware setup guide on how to do all this.

I did run into one main problem which was installing the WebOS SDK since it is only distributed for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux in deb format. Since I'm on Fedora 14 I can't use deb. I got around that with alien...

Boxee Box is a Disappointment

The boxee box has been quite a disappointment. I've said it before, but it really is annoying when boxee, based on XBMC is less usable than it's roots, and then netflix dies(even after restoring/reflashing and upgrading), and to add insult to injury I can't modify the open source software on the box, or put anything else on it (like xbmc). If it's going to be as limited as proprietary software I might as well have a proprietary box that works.

Progressive Mix 3.0

I am still not happy with my beat matching skills but I was mixing on Friday for a few friends and one of them requested a copy of this mix so I redid it. It is what it is. I will keep practising and get better.

John_Brier_-_Progressive_3.0.mp3

1. Petter - These Days
2. BAYER, Andrew - Distractions - Movement 4 (original mix)
3. Jimmy Roqsta - I'll Meet You There
4. Dave Goethels - Known
5. Marten Fisher - Vinyl Warning
6. A BALTER/EITAN REITER - second chance
7. Ray McPhoney - dark crevice
8. The_Big_Mountain_-_Moon_Explorer_(original_mix)
9. Marten Fisher - paper plane
10. 16 Bit Lolitas - cold energy
11. Mammutgroove - Ancient Kalahari - Tony Casanova Remix
12. Jose_Sandiego___Ismael_Del_Valle___Joseph_Grenada_-_Take_Me,_Anda

Star Slinger is great music

I was listening to Spoons on WKNC last night and he played this hip hop track remixed by Star Slinger who I've never heard of before. It was hot so I googled him and found his soundcloud page. I ended up buying two EPs which included remixes by him and downloading another two tracks directly from his sound cloud page. Here are the four tracks that I really liked:

hip hop track I initially heard on WKNC (free download):

Childish Gambino - Freaks and Geeks (Star Slinger Remix) by Star Slinger

The beginning of this track reminds me of The Tough Alliance

The Morning Benders - Cold War (Star Slinger Remix) buy & support japan by Star Slinger
EP that includes the above track is available here

nice chill song (free download):

H-Town - They Like It Slow (Star Slinger Refix) by Star Slinger

Gold Panda - Marriage (Star Slinger Remix) OUT MARCH 1st by Star Slinger
EP that includes the above track is available here

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