Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recent updates on life

I finally finished my ham radio installation in my vehicle. The installation of the Yaesu FT-1802M was accomplished by several things. Not only including inventiveness, some shade tree "mechanicin" and a little blood, sweat and tears. This picture to the left shows the antenna installation I opted to do. Rather than break the factory seal on the sunroof, which would probably have resulted in a lot of headaches, roof distortion, hands sticky with silicone sealant and a leaky roof, I decided to compromise and put it through the door I use the least, the passenger side.

As an aside, on Saturday the 24rd I was awoken by my weather radio blaring an alarm about a severe Thunderstorm warning and a tornado warning for my area. As a volunteer storm spotter I leapt into action getting out in truck to start spotting and hopefully make a phone call if there was a storm. The radio hadn't been installed yet so I was armed with the cell phone with a number to the Skywarn office we have at the County EOC.

I opened my door to a yellow sky which isn't a good sign. So I watched the storm clouds gather and sure enough, it started to rain. Only this wasn't an ordinary rain, no, by all means. I think the technical term is GULLY WASHER. Like being in a car wash, except all that is being washed is also possible in the process of being blown away by the high winds being driven by the rain and vice versa. I watch to my right as my neighbors lawn furniture and radio (probably now useless due to its being drenched) start to take flight in the wind.

It was then that I started to notice my roof was leaking. One of the connector points to the sunroof hatch was leaking by drips. Not too bad, but then I didn't want to be wet. I began a search for something to staunch the flow and found a napkin that quickly became saturated. I couldn't see a thing due to the intensity of the rain and wind so I was not very useful at that point as a storm spotter.

I heard someone on the scanner report that someone to the west had seen a funnel cloud over St. Clair Hospital, which is the new one built just to the North west of where I live near Hwy 141 and Interstate 44. So I just have to hope it isn't heading for me. Then the funnel touched down briefly at a spot east of the West County Center Mall. Fortunately it didn't hit a mall crowded with shoppers. It damaged several homes in that area and lifted off heading for Illinois to cause more damage. Another tornado struck Overland, MO ripping apart a storage facility with one spotter reporting shopping carts and items of clothing, appliances and other articles raining from the heavens.

The most amazing thing I was to behold was on the television. KSDK apparently decided that coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks/Nashville Predators Hockey game was far more important than the fact that the city was being pummeled by tornadoes. Usually KTVI, the Fox affiliate is the one I like to watch for emergency weather info because they have a couple of professional Met guys on staff. Chris Higgins is in the Air Force Reserve and spent a year deployed to Iraq, being a lead forcaster in the Air Force office for Central Command. KMOV is usually the more panicky people but have lots of reporters and such out looking for nice pictures. Our ABC affiliate is owned by a large eastern conglomerate and has decided that we need no local news and continued to broadcast the ABC network stream or infomercials it always does.

After this event I began to tell myself I need to get myself set for the need to modify my vehicle. However, I was much too drained to do it over the weekend I encountered another wave of storms the weekend of the 30th. Tornadoes danced all around me but no damage here. I did take my Mom and myself to Shop and Save since it was a better shelter than my trailer.

Now back to the subject at hand. I finished the installation yesterday and so far it has held up and I am proud of myself The picture at the top shows my antenna installation which is a magnetic mount with plastic clips holding my antenna wire. The clips are held on with double sided foam stickey which is the same kind of installation we use for our safety lights on the vehicles at work.

Here is the installation at the rear of the vehicle for the antenna proper. You can't see any sticky clips here because they are behind the roof rack.

Now here is the dashboard installation. I got me a ashtray holder from a similar vehicle and used that for my under dash installation. I screwed the bracket for the radio to the spare and then reinstalled it in the conventional location back under the dash. I then installed the radio which is underneath the car CD player above. It is for the moment powered by a cigarette lighter socket connected to the power cable supplied by the manufacturer.

The future of the installation is shown here. This is the ashtray that came with the bracket I stripped from the salvage car. What I will do is cut off the front end of it to place in the bracket to cover the screws. It will look like the ashtray. I may also put the three socket strip I am going to use in the future in that area and that will be used to power cell phone, laptop and other items I need to power.

Now I am set up for my future storm spotting. I need to have the spark plugs swapped out with resister spark plugs to kill the interference from the engine on the radio like Jade has to do.

Next project? Installing a new rear window with a windshield wiper on the back. Stay tuned.

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I am interested in CNG vehicles because they are good for the environment and aren't powered by dead Marines. I still have a little hope for the world. Read the musings and enjoy.

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