Monthly Archives: March 2010

We have itchy feet, it’s time to go

Yep, we’re going mobile again. Been in Florida since Dec 28, waited for the weather to turn really nice. It has turned really nice. And now we’re heading north. And we can, perhaps, watch the weather turn nice again, in NC this time.

We made a valiant last try for the beach a few days ago. The day’s forecast was 80 degrees and sunny. We thought this was our best shot for good beach weather. It may have been the best day, so far, to go but wasn’t good enough to enjoy the beach. What we found was a great deal of cloudiness and terrible winds.

The temperature was 77 but, with the winds, felt cooler. And the winds drove the sand so hard it was stinging. After a couple of hours we threw in the towel and picnicked on the grassy lawn by the parking lot. A lot warmer, sheltered from the wind, we considered spreading out a pair of towels and sunning.

But enough was enough — time to go back to Okeechobee. Nice try, anyway. And our last try for an Atlantic Beach for this year, too. We’ll be heading west in a few weeks and won’t be in the Southeast until February 2011.

We’re psyched about getting on the road, feeling the tires spinning under us again. It’s been awhile since we traveled more than one hundred miles. Have we forgotten how to do this? What will we forget to do? We’ve been making lists and checking them twice over the past week.

Each day we’ve tried to so some of the preparation toward traveling. There were a surprising number of chores we found useful, ranging from recalibrating the holding tank sensors and checking the truck’s tire pressures, to restoring the entrance’s oak threshold strip to cleaning out totes and cargo compartments.

We’ve eliminated a number of books and chemicals and some odd parts we decided had seen enough of North America already. It makes more space in our truck, saves some weight in the trailer (a great thing to do), and makes life a little simpler by having less to keep up with.

The trailer and truck are freshly washed and waxed, and the trailer’s interior flooring is thoroughly scrubbed. The ham radio gear is completely re-wired in both the truck and trailer, making both work a little better and the appearance is improved a lot in both. And we
replaced the grounding on the trailer’s HF antenna and amateur radio.

We’re ready to go and will set out first thing Thursday morning for Chapel Hill, NC. It’ll be nice to hit the road with our home trailing behind us. We’ll take two days to get there, a nice pace to take for the mileage.

It’s time to scratch our itchy feet, put some miles under us. We’ll probably talk to you next after we arrive in Chapel Hill. Until then, keep the rubber side down!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

Will your cell phone work?

Our cell phone service (Verizon) is pretty good but not always within reach of a cell phone tower. We have an air card and cell phone which work well in 75% of our locations. The other 25 percent of the time we get no phone service and no email either. One must be careful where he has an emergency, right? T’would be very sad to break down in a location unreachable by any communication means.

And there are other reasons a cell phone won’t work for communications. Obviously we must be within five or ten miles of a cell phone tower to use our phone. Disasters throughout the world have also shown cellular telephones can be a very unreliable means of communication. Towers fall or emergency power is lost or the cellular band is lost to an overwhelming number of calls. Enter, amateur radio.

We began in the hobby of amateur radio from an interest in reliable continent-wide communications. Our full-time mobile lifestyle, towing and living in a travel trailer all about North America, means we aren’t “connected” to land lines or other utilities and sometimes cannot use the cell phone either.

our radio station

The amateur radio bands are always alive with hams listening and talking. We can reach many regional networks at scheduled times each day. Our amateur radio equipment and licenses allow us to take advantage of many regional ham radio nets. These nets provide us familiarity with the net processes and reassurance we can reach them with our radio equipment.


When all else fails, amateur radio

Our cellphone and laptop email otherwise would be our only means of emergency communication. What would we do for communications if cellphone service went down? And for many people the cell phone is their only telephone. We enjoy amateur radio as a hobby, but also enjoy great peace of mind having such a robust communications back-up.

This, in an article about a most recent earthquake in Chile:

” . . . but in the capital of Santiago, 95 miles north of the epicenters, windows rattled, buildings trembled and cell phone service went down.” [NY Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/12/world/americas/12chile.html, March 12, 2010]

What can we do if our cell phone service is interrupted? We can resort to our very convenient and reliable means of communication, amateur radio. Learn more here and here.

N5RTG Jim and N4RTG Debbie
locate us here
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

It’s finally warming a little

We are enjoying slowly warming temperatures and will hopefully start seeing less cold. We’ve been wishing for weeks it would warm up, maybe we can go to the beach sometime. Or even hang out poolside — with the cool and breezes we haven’t often felt tempted to get down to just swimsuits.

Sunset over Lake Okeechobee

One evening we walked a little of the Lake Okeechobee rim to watch the sunset. It was a good one, not only because the wind was down and weather a little warmer, but we had a pretty nice sunset too. From our door to the rim’s footpath is only 1/2 mile, so we’ll do this some more.

This past few week’s persistent and strong winds have disinclined us to try and hit any tennis together but we’ll probably try to get out next week a few times. Jim gets out once or twice a week with the town’s local tennis group for a few sets of doubles. We both would play a lot more if tennis courts were on our park’s campus.

Debbie is enjoying aerobics 3 days a week plus line dancing another day, and we both are in a dancing class on Wednesdays. This year we have continued working on waltz and the sixteen step (Polka, you know), and are adding a swing step that is sort of similar to Shag. The start step, and turns, and twinkles are interchangeable between both dances. Now we just need practice to keep from forgetting what we’re learning.

Today has been really sunny with the sky a beautiful deep blue color. First low-wind morning in over a week, and we hit 70 degrees for the first day in many. We had a productive shopping trip this morning to the flea market vendors for some electrical fittings and some used tools for upcoming projects. And Jim picked up a small relay from Radio Shack for another wiring project.

Speaking of projects, Jim’s had a lot of fun with a few of them these cool several days. He mounted a very small switch on the doors of our wardrobes. Our LED lights inside the wardrobe now turn on automatically when we open the door. Convenient this is, but we are still getting used to it. We sometimes turn the light off accidentally, instead of letting the little switch do it.

He added a GPS-18pc puck to our Kenwood ham radio. We now have dynamic GPS tracking whenever our truck goes anywhere. This is a novelty for us, to watch where our truck has been. You can see what the tracking looks like for yourself here, if you’re interested. This link shows the past 24 hours, and you can select from the right side of your screen for longer or shorter periods.

Today Jim rewired some of the 12 volt accessory power distribution for our truck. We have the gps puck, a navigation gps, and a tire pressure monitoring system all getting their power from accessory plugs, like cigarette lighter plugs. These are bulky and sometimes get in the way.

So Jim removed two of these accessory plugs and replaced them with Andersen power poles. These nifty connectors are a standard among many amateur radio operators, and are very effective for mobile wiring, especially since he is soldering all his wire connections.

He also plans to change the main circuit for the accessories so it is fed through a 12vdc spst relay instead of feeding through a switch. We installed a switch to allow a convenient disconnect for all the accessories we added in the truck cab. Our re-wiring of the trailer’s ham radio power circuit went so well Jim wants to replicate it in the truck.

The relay allows us to turn power off and on for a large wire circuit using a small switch and control wire. The relay is like a heavy duty switch we can mount out of sight under the dash somewhere. The benefit is to allow smaller (less bulky) wire and terminals to the switch, so the switch doesn’t need as much space. And, the relay is a better connector between the battery and the accessories. Plus, it gives Jim something fun to do.

Tonight is only going to be 40 degrees F, warmer than any of the past several nights. And tomorrow is going into the mid-70s so we’re expecting a really nice day. We’re ready for the nicer weather — if we thought somewhere else would reliably have nicer weather we’d seriously have considered relocating.

Wherever you are, we hope you too are seeing a little warmer weather on its way. Our weather has been as variable and cooler-than-normal as everywhere else. Just not as cool as most places, so we’ll stay here and wait for warm days. And we’ll start seeing the warming weather over the next two weeks. Bring it on — we can do with a little warming!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr