Monthly Archives: November 2009

Heavy RFI in Mesa

Radio Frequency Interference, or RFI, is a well-known and much documented problem. RFI hopefully is less common and disruptive than in the old days of amateur radio. Modern amateur radio equipment stays more tightly on frequency and is easier to tune. Modern television and radios are superior to the old ones at discriminating unwanted signal and receiving the desired stations. Why, then, an article now about RFI in Mesa?

We have discovered a pervasive source of RFI in TowerPoint Community in Mesa. The effect seems very strong and widespread throughout this community of over 1,000 people. We wonder it hasn’t been reported, but our research shows no notices on the RFI from in or near this Resort.

N4RTG Debbie and N5RTG Jim have been here eight days. These eight days have seen no (absolutely ZERO) participation by either of us on the regional or national ham radio nets. The week before we arrived to TowerPoint we were daily checking in on the 20 meter RV Service Nets (networks of home-based and mobile ham radio operators checking in and reporting on location, weather, health, and travel plans) out of Minnesota and Tennessee, and the 40 meter Pacific RV Service Nets from Longview, Washington and points in California. We cannot get on the nets due to the interference.

We were able, after just a little consideration and without any fox-hunting, to locate the source of the radio frequency interference. The answer should not have surprised us. Our good friend, W7IRY Bob, warned us of the likely interference problem before we arrived. Some things don’t go away even if you ignore them.

We have spent time, every morning and afternoon, at the TowerPoint Tennis Club. Our morning starts there before breakfast at 0700 hours when we hit for part of an hour before the Club activities consume all the courts. After breakfast we return to the courts to watch competition or team practices.

Monday (yesterday) we spent from 0645 hours until almost 1300 hours (over six hours) playing and watching. It was Jim’s first competition in two decades. He was paired with John H, a classy and very experienced player. They were facing a dynamic duo from a neighboring Resort and, the word was, the duo were undefeated last year. At least Jim would have some good experience from the match, even with the loss.

Jim and John played great together and hit a lot of good shots. Their very worthy opponents lost despite their good play and great chip lobs. Jim and John are looking forward to another match next week and many more over the next winters here. After their match, they grabbed some snacks from the Club kitchen and we watched the remainder of the Men’s and Women’s 3.5 League matches (our team won 12-5 against ViewPoint Resort).

Jim walked back to the courts yesterday late and watched another of the Resort’s teams practicing. He helped shag balls for the team captain and instructor so they could spend more time coaching. We are parked so close to the courts it is hard not to wander over and pick up a game or just watch.

This is a great tennis community with wonderful facilities and people. We’re enjoying more tennis at TowerPoint than we’ve had in many years. Which brings us back to the radio frequency interference.

Our ham radios are mobile, which means they are in our truck and rolling home. We can’t operate HF to reach the regional and national RV Service radio Nets from the tennis courts. Even if we could, we shouldn’t. All this great tennis is interfering considerably and frequently with our ham radio receiving and transmitting. If this isn’t a clear case of radio frequency interference, I’ll eat my hat with the callsign on it.

W7IRY calls the effect “the great sucking sound” of an activity pulling someone in completely. We were duly warned and have no one to blame. Nor would we. We’re having a great time, meeting lots of wonderful people, and getting much more physical activity than we might otherwise have taken. Thanks to the TowerPoint Tennis Club!

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr

How much can you stand?

Tennis twice (or more) a day, swimming and ping-pong every day, lots of good walks, and more Vitamin D sunshine than a person deserves. We’re in paradise. Really! We were chilling out for a few minutes this evening, watching the end of a great sunset, and thinking aloud, “we’ll get used to this level of physical activity in another week”.

We are in Mesa, one of a dozen or so “towns” in Phoenix, AZ. Friends Bob and Faith dragged us down here, carefully warning us it might be noisy, polluted, crowded, and hot or cold. And, they have been coming here six or seven years because they like it so much. They clearly were trying to undersell so we would not have our expectations set too high. Okay, we’ve got to try this for ourselves.

The southwest has been enigmatic for us, something we hear about and read about but never experience. Taliesen West (the Frank Lloyd Wright place), Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, and many more names and places have twinkled out there for us. Until now. We’re here and don’t notice the noisy, polluted, crowded, or cold. Well, the grocery store this morning was pretty dangerous with little old ladies on electric shopping carts pushing “go” instead of “stop”. And it is definitely on the hot side. But we’re not counting these things, we so many blessings.

No problems with our level of expectations, this place is pretty great. Today, for example, Jim hit tennis balls against a ball machine an hour, we had breakfast, he played one and one-half hours mixed doubles tennis, we picked up some groceries, had a snack lunch, and walked the short distance to the pools complex.

Sunset over Mesa

Sunset over Mesa

We played in the pool’s cool water a little while, read awhile, played ping-pong, swam laps, sunbathed under cloudy skies, showered and walked home. Have a drink, listen to a little music, watch the sunset and WHOA! Look at that sunrise, aren’t the clouds beautiful and the tall palms swaying very gently as the wind kisses through them? This is our first outstanding Mesa sunset, and we’ll appreciate additional ones if they are anywhere near this.

We don’t need to go anywhere, we’ve done plenty today, but Debbie wants to practice hitting the tennis ball. We walk the short distance to the tennis complex, turn on the court lights, find a bucket of practice balls. Jim tells Debbie where to start dropping balls and hitting them against the fence. Then she practices her forehand and backhand swings toward the net and hits Jim several times as he tosses her balls to hit. This is great stuff!

Back to our home and we watch the temperature drop, two hours after sunset, to 80F degrees from 92F earlier. Debbie fixed us a wonderful dinner of barbecue from Glenn’s in Kannapolis, NC (with Glenn’s bbq sauce, not Texas-style). Darn, this is the end of our North Carolina BBQ and we won’t be home for five or six weeks yet to reload. Oh well, worse things have happened.

But not in Paradise! Yeah, it’s a little warm and pretty dry. We aren’t spending much on electricity because the heat doesn’t really feel bad if we are in the 5-10mph breezes outside our home. We see 75 degrees twice a day, briefly, and see a whole lot more hotter than cooler.

The resort has a wonderful tennis complex with two or three illuminated courts, a huge practice board, ball machines, shaded grandstand, and teaching programs for all levels players. Jim has readily gained acceptance in the tennis crowd. They have recruited him to play number 1 doubles. The first match, against a neighboring resort, is Monday (hopefully they still like him after the match). Debbie has her first lesson Friday and will be playing as frequently very soon.

We’re going on a 5 mile hike Saturday with another couple, both tennis players too. We want to visit the Ham Radio Outlet (HRO) store in Phoenix, Taliesen West, and Arizona State University, and check out the dancing lessons in the resort and locally, just for starters. We’re going to do all this in just two months, somehow. And, we sense, we’ll be back to Mesa again. We think we can stand this and more.

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr

©2009 Dreamstreamr

Mesa is hot!

We arrived Mesa yesterday after a week two hours north, in Congress, AZ. Boy is it hot here, too. Today has been 90F degrees since mid-morning when it was 65F. Jim scurried over to the tennis courts at 0730 hrs, he was the first one today. He hit the backboard a little while before a charitable tennis club member suggested Jim might use the ball machine instead. Dale didn’t say it, but probably the backboard is a little too loud at 0730?

They’re going to rank Jim for league tennis play this week by playing him a couple of times and seeing how he does. He hasn’t played in leagues nor had a ranking since 1992, back in Greensboro, NC, so this will be interesting and fun for him. And Dale did a real sales job on Debbie this morning when he visited us.

Dale had talked Debbie, in just a few minutes, into starting playing tennis this Friday. This afternoon we hit the local sports supply store and found her a pair of court shoes, so she’s ready. We laughed afterward, Dale was a very successful salesman in his previous lifetime and doesn’t seem to have lost any of it.

North Ranch Escapees Park

a little oasis for full-timers

Congress, AZ, was an interesting layover. We were there to await Bob S on his way down from chilly, rainy and snowy Boise, Idaho. We had a few days on our own to explore, and didn’t need a single day more. We spent one half-day cruising the hills around Wickenburg and shopping the Safeway grocery store. The only two things to check out are Wickenburg and Congress and, from what we heard, we missed nothing in Congress.

Wickenburg is surrounded by ranch estates, so to speak. We didn’t see much resembling ranches although there were a few. Mostly we saw very high end houses tucked against the hills on about ten or more acres each. Very nice looking, and they must have very very deep wells. Even the cacti look thirsty.

Nothing green about this green area

The green area is all brown

Back to Congress — this is our first Escapees Park to visit and we would be happy to visit again. The rates are low, people are very interesting, and did we mention the rates are low? Campers must be members of Escapees, and willing to camp miles away from anything at all. This park is thirteen miles north of Wickenburg and Wickenburg isn’t much. We met no homeowners who stay year-round in North Ranch Escapees Campground, they mostly stay through the winter months.

Still, there doesn’t seem so much to do here — no tennis, no ping pong, no golf, no swimming pool. Jim asked several homeowners in the development, “What do you do while you stay here?” Several times we heard about panning for gold, four wheeling, beading, quilting, and ham radio. Okay, we like ham radio and traveling. And we really like the folks we met at North Ranch. Maybe we will visit and not stay very long.

So we’re in Mesa — Jim today bought a soft rubber-faced ping pong paddle and played tennis twice, we enjoyed a grilled stuffed chicken breast and salad supper, and we spent an hour at the pools. Yep, pools — four of them. A 25 meter lap pool is maintained at 75F, a conversation pool is 85F, one hot tub is maintained at 98F, and one hot tub is at 104F. We checked out all four pools tonight before hitting the showers then home and getting ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is forecast for 94F — we’ll try to hit the pools much earlier and perhaps for longer. Take a good book and a big ice water, and stay awhile. And work a little on our tennis basics, eh?

See ya later,

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr