Amateur Radio or HAM Radio as it is also know by, has been a big part of my off spare time for many years. I started out as a Novice class holder back in march of 1985. Back then it took 5 to 6 weeks to receive your license after you successfully passed the tests. So, in the first part of April 1985, with the new Novice License in hand, I went to the once a month license upgrade session in town and passed my Tech/General test to achieve a Technician class License. It took several years of hard study and great perseverance to finally pass the 13 word-per-minute code requirement. The same night I passed the 13 wpm code test, I also passed the Advanced written and instantly became the grade of Advanced Class Amateur Operator. I am very proud of that milestone. It took me several years and lots of personal effort to achieve. It is precisely for this reason that I feel the way I do about code waivers and other methods for getting around the code requirement. I mention this because of the incredible number of people in the last few years who have come into the hobby because of the NO-Code Technician license. Sure it is difficult to learn the Morse code, but I believe it is worth it. Aside from the fact that I still believe in the Morse code as a valuable method of communicating, I feel that a code requirement establishes a barrier whereby, and applicant must prove not only to themselves but to the rest of the HAM community the seriousness of their interest in the hobby. Like the old saying about how great the reward is proportional to the amount of effort put in. As in all things dealing with life, I believe if enough effort is devoted to a goal, anyone can achieve whatever it is they want.
I have had more than a passing interest in Astronomy for a number of years. I purchased my first telescope back when Haley's comet last blew by. It is an 8" Meade Schmidt Cassagrain style scope, model 2080 LX3, with Tripod, Clock drive, Camera mount, etc. Over the years since then, I have spent many hours viewing, and photographing (using conventional film) a variety of deep space objects. More recently, I have taken a few pictures with my new Meade Deep Sky Imager. It is a Sony based digital CCD camera integrated into a 1.25� telescope lens mount. It is designed to fit virtually any telescope with a 1.25� diagonal prism.
The DSI package comes with a very nice digital imaging software suite, that allows you to manipulate the DSI in areas of exposure times and rate, contrast and to digitally track and then overlay separate exposures to achieve a remarkable clarity and brilliance. (CLICK on an image below to see a larger picture.) I am excited with the results so far. Also, my first atempt at photographing a deep space nebula has ended with the result you see below. It is of the Ring nebula, a magnitude 9.0 object. Very faint, and not visible at all to the unaided eye. If you look very closly, you can see the tiny white dwarf star that caused the nebula. The nebula was formed after the star went super nova thousands of years ago and then shrank down to the small white dwarf star it is now. I hope to very soon post more pictures of deep space nebulas or star clusters.
I don't want to give you the idea that I am a
person that stays in the dark dungeon of my radio shack or
ventures outside only under the cover of darkness to gaze up at
faint, blurry objects in the night time sky. Rather, I have
other hobbies that I am interested in which include Hot Rod
cars, Jet Boats and Snowmobiling.
My Hot Rod Car is a rare 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS. I keep her secured tightly under lock-and-key and alarmed whenever we are out and about. The interior pictures show the very clean, original equipment seats, gauges, etc. This car was one of the first California SS' produced in model year '68 in the L.A. plant and as such, the console and gauge package was used from left over unused '67 parts. This was the practice for the first 1,000-2,000 units made in '68. The practice continued on the later '68 & '69 model as well. This has lead to many discussions over the years with people who accuse me of having the wrong console, etc. The only thing changed was the hood louvers. I hated the OEM items and changed them out for the late '68/69 items because they look better. As for the motor, the original SS 327 motor ( a very rare CA only item ) was replaced many years ago with a '71 400 cid 4 bolt small block. In july 2005 the 400 was replaced with a '05 Gen I, 350 4 bolt cid small block. More specifically, the block is a GM Performance crate, ZZ4 short block with PM rods and 10:1 pistons. The heads are very rare Chevy "Turbo" angle plug 202 "Fuelies", casting #340292. Duel springs, screw-in studs, guide plates, case hardened pushrods and Comp Cams Stanless Steel full rocker, 1.52 rocker arms top off the heads. Iskiderian provided the camshaft which is a hydraulic flat tappet model #201292/6. Specs are a 512/512 lift with 292/292 duration and 106 deg valve center. The intake is an original Edelbrock Torker intake and a Holley 750 CFM carburetor. A Mallory YL-22 distributor with a MSD-6A fires the gas and Cyclone headers exhaust through 2.5" stainless pipes into a pair of MagnaFlow mufflers. The Transmission is a Muncie M-21, four speed close ratio manual & factory Hurst shifter that goes through a 11" Hayes 3400 Lb. clutch into a 12 bolt, multi-leaf rear end with a Eaton 400 Lb Posi. The car is a 2 owner car and was originally purchased for me by my Parents in 1975 and I drove it back an forth to high school and work. It was in excellent condition and performed wonderfully. However, like most young guys of my era, I was not satisfied with having a car that simply ran nice. I had to have more. High school auto shop was what started me and my beloved Camaro down the road to bad parts, abusive drag racing and years of stupid decisions. A testament to the engineering by Chevrolet is that the car is still around after all of these years. It is still here and doing just fine. It needs alot of work to get her back to the pristine condition that she was in when I first saw her, but I plan to eventually get her there. I parked the car in 1985 and except for very rare exceptions, it stayed garaged. On those rare occasions, I did bring her out and wake her up from her long slumber. In 1997 I began bringing her out on a more regular basis and as such, certain things needed to be done to increase the reliability of the car. Along with the usual fluids and such that needed replacing because of the effects of time. I found that the original rear multi-leaf springs were well used and needed replacing. The front end suspension also was in need of work so all new components were ordered and replaced along with the installation of polyurethane bushings in the control arms, end-links, sway-bar mounts and sub-frame. WOW !! What used to go around corners on the door handles now can keep up with the imports !! Nowadays, it is a wonderful feeling to climb behind the wheel of a streetable 450+ horsepower car.
It takes a while to get used to it, but once done, tire smoke and high octane exhaust fumes once again return to the neighborhood. Below are some recent pictures of my baby. I hope you enjoy them.
As for Jet boating, I am the once proud owner of a Keaton jet boat. Do to circumstances beyond my control, I needed to sale my priced boat a couple of years ago. It is a bittersweet loss because of the fact that I had to give up a very enjoyable activity, but it opens the door of opertunity for me to eventually purchase a new one. And I do plan to do that. Jack Keaton has a design that is magnificent. I did every thing from pulling 3 skiers at once to hauling 7 adults across Lake Shasta, at 50 mph to racing flat bottomed Merc. out drive boats and winning!!! The looks and performance of the Keaton design is without any question, the BEST. I've been in other boats where wake hopping will find the boat dropping in either the front or rear when grabbing air. But not the Keaton. Once while on the river, I got into a race with four people on board, we came up behind a 27' cabin curser producing a monster 5' wake. I went over that wake doing 60 mph and jumped at least 7' high and flew for at least 30' through the air. The boat settled down flat and smooth n the water and we continued on to win the race. What a blast! That was fun. That was what the Keaton boat is all about. It is the most stable and forgiving platform I'm aware of. Not only is the Keaton boat the most beautiful boat I've seen, it is the best performing. It should go without saying, but I will have another one some day.
Snowmobiling is another one of my many hobbies. Up until a short time ago, I had a Polaris Trail Deluxe snowmobile. What made me decide to purchase that particular model was the advertisement for it started off by saying "Not a big fan of roughing it? Well this sled is for you" It had everything on it. My Lady friends of the time and I had many hours of great fun ridding around in the winter wonderland of the high Serria mountains. We would meet up with several friends of ours who also had snowmobiles and all go riding the trails at Donner Summit or La Porte. The sport is not just for the young, though the youngest driver was a 6 year old girl, there was a couple who were in their late 60's who had a pair of sleds and nearly always attended our outings. It's been nearly 6 years since they started sledding, as far as I know, they are still active. As for me, the members of our group have moved away until I am the only member remaining in the area. Though it was very enjoyable, it is simply not safe to go by yourself, so I decided to sale it with its trailer and wait until the next occasion arrived to pick up the hobby again. While the science of snowmobiling has improved greatly over the past few years, riding a snowmobile does take a bit of effort. Even if you stay on a trail, you will still do some work, and don't think for a minute that they are slow either. Myself and my rider could easily get up to 75 mph on my sled. What a BLAST! It is a wonderful combination of exercise, sunshine and plenty of cool fresh air. Snowmobiling is a hobby or sport I can highly recommend for anyone.