• Amateur Radio in the age of social distancing.

    From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to All on Friday, March 27, 2020 19:05:00
    Hi all, just sharing a few things and asking a question.

    The amateur bands, particularly VHF/UHF are coming alive again here, and it's all thanks to COVID-19. Locally, one of the clubs I'm in started playing with Zoom for meetings, and 2 days ago, we decided that since we're hams, perhaps it's about time we got on the air, to help break the social isolation a bit. Yesterday was our first of what has since become a daily net at 1PM every day on a local repeater, and it's been a lot of fun.

    Another group have started an "isolation net" that runs at 10AM on weekday mornings on a major national linked repeater system. I'm able to access the system from a repeater 30km away. People from all over the place check in and have a quick say.

    On Sunday, another local club is hosting their regular Sunday morning coffee...
    with a difference. Instead of a traditional meetup at a cafe, they are holding an on air net - you make your own coffee at home, then get on air for a chat.

    All this activity has led me to do some work on my shack. I spent much of today fixing problems and tweaking things, and there's a lot more to do. Suddenly, I'm connected to the world, and now I have a list of projects to complete as long as my arm. :) Ham radio has become fun again!

    One day, I'll get packet working and combine my BBS and radio hobbies. I actually have the shack side almost setup - just have to add a radio. , then setup a mobile/portable station. I am able to run IP (v4) on packet as well, that's already configured using LinBPQ.

    I also have to work out where my OpenSpot has got to, so I can get back on DMR.
    I had made up a kit that works for both wired and wifi connections, but I can't seem to find it. :/

    Stay tuned. :)

    So is anyone else getting back on the air to help deal with social distancing or isolation? Please share your experiences. :)


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  • From Avon@21:1/101 to Vk3jed on Saturday, March 28, 2020 21:50:56
    On 27 Mar 2020 at 07:05p, Vk3jed pondered and said...

    So is anyone else getting back on the air to help deal with social distancing or isolation? Please share your experiences. :)

    I will be this week. I know our local branch has moved their weekly branch meetings from the clubrooms to our 690 repeater. I plan to take part this Wednesday night.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Avon on Saturday, March 28, 2020 20:08:00
    On 03-28-20 21:50, Avon wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    On 27 Mar 2020 at 07:05p, Vk3jed pondered and said...

    So is anyone else getting back on the air to help deal with social distancing or isolation? Please share your experiences. :)

    I will be this week. I know our local branch has moved their weekly
    branch meetings from the clubrooms to our 690 repeater. I plan to take part this Wednesday night.

    Cool. We're using Zoom or Freeconferencecall for meeting stuff and as I said, there's multiple nets to get people mingling on air. :)


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Avon on Sunday, March 29, 2020 01:10:58
    I will be this week. I know our local branch has moved their weekly
    branch meetings from the clubrooms to our 690 repeater. I plan to take part this Wednesday night.

    Used to love being part of the nets either locally or on EchoLink. With my schedule changing week to week...difficult to participate to the level I used to back ten or so years ago.

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  • From Avon@21:1/101 to Phoobar on Sunday, March 29, 2020 21:21:57
    On 29 Mar 2020 at 01:10a, Phoobar pondered and said...

    I will be this week. I know our local branch has moved their weekly branch meetings from the clubrooms to our 690 repeater. I plan to tak part this Wednesday night.

    Used to love being part of the nets either locally or on EchoLink. With
    my schedule changing week to week...difficult to participate to the
    level I used to back ten or so years ago.

    Tonight I joined my Sunday night Club Net and we had 28 on it. It was a good turn out. It's just a pity that it takes a horrid virus to create (for some
    of us) some more spare time to enjoy a hobby that doesn't take a face to face effort to communicate. I'm talking about Amateur Radio here not BBS but the latter works well too IMHO :)

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Avon on Sunday, March 29, 2020 22:05:00
    On 03-29-20 21:21, Avon wrote to Phoobar <=-

    Tonight I joined my Sunday night Club Net and we had 28 on it. It was a good turn out. It's just a pity that it takes a horrid virus to create (for some of us) some more spare time to enjoy a hobby that doesn't
    take a face to face effort to communicate. I'm talking about Amateur
    Radio here not BBS but the latter works well too IMHO :)

    The radio has been very active her eof late too. :) Now you and I are going to have to connect at some stage. Want to make a sked sometime?


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  • From Avon@21:1/101 to Vk3jed on Monday, March 30, 2020 16:38:21
    On 29 Mar 2020 at 10:05p, Vk3jed pondered and said...

    The radio has been very active her eof late too. :) Now you and I are going to have to connect at some stage. Want to make a sked sometime?

    Yep sounds good.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Avon on Monday, March 30, 2020 16:30:00
    On 03-30-20 16:38, Avon wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    On 29 Mar 2020 at 10:05p, Vk3jed pondered and said...

    The radio has been very active her eof late too. :) Now you and I are going to have to connect at some stage. Want to make a sked sometime?

    Yep sounds good.

    Just have to work out a time and place. One major restriction for me is that evenings aren't feasible for me.


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Avon on Monday, March 30, 2020 01:01:43
    Tonight I joined my Sunday night Club Net and we had 28 on it. It was a good turn out. It's just a pity that it takes a horrid virus to create

    That's fantastic! Used to be a member of a club in Twin Falls, ID where there would be 50 there every month at a local restaurant. Great learning about different things & meeting people. Learned more in that club than any other time I've had my ticket. Recently...heard the mormons (big group in the area) took the club over & many don't go anymore. What a shame.

    (for some of us) some more spare time to enjoy a hobby that doesn't take
    a face to face effort to communicate. I'm talking about Amateur Radio
    here not BBS but the latter works well too IMHO :)

    Still a great way to talk to people...especially in times like these.
    Remember when we had analogue TV when I was a kid & got excited to see how
    many weak signals I could p/u with a pair of rabbit ears. Even got more a
    kick when I got the FT-450 to cover the whole spectrum to listen & would hear some amazing stations with my outside wire antennas.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Monday, March 30, 2020 20:30:00
    On 03-30-20 01:01, Phoobar wrote to Avon <=-

    Tonight I joined my Sunday night Club Net and we had 28 on it. It was a good turn out. It's just a pity that it takes a horrid virus to create

    That's fantastic! Used to be a member of a club in Twin Falls, ID where there would be 50 there every month at a local restaurant. Great
    learning about different things & meeting people. Learned more in that

    I'm a sucker for coffee meetups. But on Sunday, in lieu of what would normally be a social coffee gathering at a cafe, they held a "Coffee Net", where you'd bring your own coffee to the radio and get on the air. :) And another advantage is that while the in person coffee meets were monthly, the Sunday Coffee Net can take place every Sunday morning. :)

    club than any other time I've had my ticket. Recently...heard the
    mormons (big group in the area) took the club over & many don't go anymore. What a shame.

    Bummer. :(

    (for some of us) some more spare time to enjoy a hobby that doesn't take
    a face to face effort to communicate. I'm talking about Amateur Radio
    here not BBS but the latter works well too IMHO :)

    Still a great way to talk to people...especially in times like these. Remember when we had analogue TV when I was a kid & got excited to see
    how many weak signals I could p/u with a pair of rabbit ears. Even got more a kick when I got the FT-450 to cover the whole spectrum to listen
    & would hear some amazing stations with my outside wire antennas.

    Radio is certainly still fun. :)


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 00:48:08
    I'm a sucker for coffee meetups. But on Sunday, in lieu of what would normally be a social coffee gathering at a cafe, they held a "Coffee
    Net", where you'd bring your own coffee to the radio and get on the air.

    Used to do one of these on 80M on Sunday mornings all over the Pacific Northwest. Never having an antenna capable of 80 & also going to church at
    the time...was never able to do it.

    On the other hand...did have a 2M net I used to do on weekday mornings from Boise. Put the FT-1802 in the car & on the way to work...would check in. It
    was nice being able to do that & be part of the group from out in the middle
    of nowhere.

    how many weak signals I could p/u with a pair of rabbit ears. Even go more a kick when I got the FT-450 to cover the whole spectrum to list & would hear some amazing stations with my outside wire antennas.
    Radio is certainly still fun. :)

    It certainly is...especially on the AM band to see how far you could pick something up. Not talking about the clear channels like WGN & such in Chicago
    & other big cities...but some of the others in more rural areas. Don't need a license to do this part of it...but hearing local spots for local businesses
    is something I enjoyed doing.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 20:45:00
    On 03-31-20 00:48, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    I'm a sucker for coffee meetups. But on Sunday, in lieu of what would normally be a social coffee gathering at a cafe, they held a "Coffee
    Net", where you'd bring your own coffee to the radio and get on the air.

    Used to do one of these on 80M on Sunday mornings all over the Pacific Northwest. Never having an antenna capable of 80 & also going to church
    at the time...was never able to do it.

    Sounds like a good net. Only "church" I've been to on Sunday was what we used to refer to as the "Church of the Big Red Truck", when we had firefighting training on Sunday mornings, though these days, I couls say I enjoy the Church of the Big Red Track - when doing Sunday morning track training. :D

    On the other hand...did have a 2M net I used to do on weekday mornings from Boise. Put the FT-1802 in the car & on the way to work...would
    check in. It was nice being able to do that & be part of the group from out in the middle of nowhere.

    There used to be some huge 2m drivetime nets on one of the side coverage repeaters. I think our record was around 14 or 15 on at one time in a roundtable, with rounds so long that even on a 1 hour+ commute, you might only get a couple of rounds in. :)

    Radio is certainly still fun. :)

    It certainly is...especially on the AM band to see how far you could
    pick something up. Not talking about the clear channels like WGN & such
    in Chicago & other big cities...but some of the others in more rural areas. Don't need a license to do this part of it...but hearing local spots for local businesses is something I enjoyed doing.

    I used to like playing with tropo, and you didn't need a licence for that, because our UHF CB service is also affected by tropospheric propagation, and 5W is more than enough to have fun. :) One night, I was down on the Victorian coast with a CB handheld accessing a Tasmanian CB repeater 400km away, on the other side of Bass Strait, with all of 0.5W into a rubber duck! ;)


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 20:14:34
    I used to like playing with tropo, and you didn't need a licence for
    that, because our UHF CB service is also affected by tropospheric propagation, and 5W is more than enough to have fun. :) One night, I
    was down on the Victorian coast with a CB handheld accessing a Tasmanian CB repeater 400km away, on the other side of Bass Strait, with all of
    0.5W into a rubber duck! ;)

    That's amazing...since originally...the FCC wanted to use UHF for CB...but
    went with 11 M. What's the CD band there?

    That's amazing to be able to do that on UHF.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Wednesday, April 01, 2020 17:58:00
    On 03-31-20 20:14, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    I used to like playing with tropo, and you didn't need a licence for
    that, because our UHF CB service is also affected by tropospheric propagation, and 5W is more than enough to have fun. :) One night, I
    was down on the Victorian coast with a CB handheld accessing a Tasmanian CB repeater 400km away, on the other side of Bass Strait, with all of
    0.5W into a rubber duck! ;)

    That's amazing...since originally...the FCC wanted to use UHF for
    CB...but went with 11 M. What's the CD band there?

    We have 2 CB bands. The good old 27 MHz, which uses exactly the same specs as the USA and UHF, which has 80 channels (75 available for voice use) from 476.4250 to 477.4125 MHz at 12.5 kHz spacings. Originally, there were 40 channels at 25 kHz spacings, but the specs were upgraded in 2011. UHF CB has been here since CB was legalised in the 1970s. Originally, the authorities wanted to have UHF only, but the sheer popularity of 27 MHz forced them to legalise that band too (which was an amateur band here at the time). 27 MHz was originally 18 channels on a unique bandplan, but the specs were quickly changed to the US 40 channels.

    That's amazing to be able to do that on UHF.

    Yeah, tropo is good fun. :)

    At home at the time, I used to run a pair of stacked 11 element Yagis, which was a pretty potent antenna system (there are no restrictions on antenna gain here). :)


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Wednesday, April 01, 2020 19:26:06
    We have 2 CB bands. The good old 27 MHz, which uses exactly the same specs as the USA and UHF, which has 80 channels (75 available for voice use) from 476.4250 to 477.4125 MHz at 12.5 kHz spacings. Originally, there were 40 channels at 25 kHz spacings, but the specs were upgraded
    in 2011. UHF CB has been here since CB was legalised in the 1970s.

    Sounds almost like what out 60M here is. Great way for rag chews...until they allowed data modes on it. For all I know...they may have opened it up here.

    amateur band here at the time). 27 MHz was originally 18 channels on a unique bandplan, but the specs were quickly changed to the US 40
    channels.

    Here...they didn't do bandplans...just let people buy whatever radio they wanted. For a while...the original 23 channels were popular since they
    weren't being built anymore & being replaced by the 40 channel models.

    When I moved out here...found my Midland 40 channel...with the cigarette lighter attachment to run it from. Tried to use it 10 years when I
    moved...but it was my old trusty FT-1802 2M at 50W which really surprised me
    by the coverage out in the Nevada desert of around 100 miles on 146.520.
    Never had that happen since.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Thursday, April 02, 2020 14:36:00
    On 04-01-20 19:26, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    Sounds almost like what out 60M here is. Great way for rag
    chews...until they allowed data modes on it. For all I know...they may have opened it up here.

    Yeah, I can't see 60m being opened up here anytime soon. HF is much more heavily utilised by commercial and public safety users, and there's too many to move/disrupt for a bunch of hams. :/

    Here...they didn't do bandplans...just let people buy whatever radio
    they wanted. For a while...the original 23 channels were popular since they weren't being built anymore & being replaced by the 40 channel models.

    I think hee they just threw in the towel and went with the US spec, because of the sheer number of 40 channel radios around. ;)

    When I moved out here...found my Midland 40 channel...with the
    cigarette lighter attachment to run it from. Tried to use it 10 years
    when I moved...but it was my old trusty FT-1802 2M at 50W which really surprised me by the coverage out in the Nevada desert of around 100
    miles on 146.520. Never had that happen since.

    Decent coverage, you on a hill?


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Thursday, April 02, 2020 20:29:54
    Sounds almost like what out 60M here is. Great way for rag
    Yeah, I can't see 60m being opened up here anytime soon. HF is much more heavily utilised by commercial and public safety users, and there's too many to move/disrupt for a bunch of hams. :/

    What a shame! They were talking about opening a section...without the
    channels which have been used for a while. Not sure if it has happened yet.

    they weren't being built anymore & being replaced by the 40 channel models.
    I think hee they just threw in the towel and went with the US spec, because of the sheer number of 40 channel radios around. ;)

    If they have the same issue as here...they have always had a problem with
    some folks not smart enough to pass even the tech exam...so they soup up
    their rigs past 4W & go illegal.

    surprised me by the coverage out in the Nevada desert of around 100 miles on 146.520. Never had that happen since.
    Decent coverage, you on a hill?


    Actually no. Was in a valley for much of the journey...with the city I was talking to on the other side of the mountains. Was in the middle of the day using FM...so just not sure what was happening. Out there in the middle of nowhere...wasn't a repeater anywhere for miles.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Friday, April 03, 2020 19:18:00
    On 04-02-20 20:29, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    Sounds almost like what out 60M here is. Great way for rag
    Yeah, I can't see 60m being opened up here anytime soon. HF is much more heavily utilised by commercial and public safety users, and there's too many to move/disrupt for a bunch of hams. :/

    What a shame! They were talking about opening a section...without the channels which have been used for a while. Not sure if it has happened yet.

    The problem of being in a large country with few people - HF is a vital resource.

    If they have the same issue as here...they have always had a problem
    with some folks not smart enough to pass even the tech exam...so they
    soup up their rigs past 4W & go illegal.

    Yeah, though here, CB took a bit of a hit from 2005, because our Foundation licence is relatively easy to get. However, CB is having a bit of a revival here. I should set mine up again. :)

    surprised me by the coverage out in the Nevada desert of around 100 miles on 146.520. Never had that happen since.
    Decent coverage, you on a hill?


    Actually no. Was in a valley for much of the journey...with the city I
    was talking to on the other side of the mountains. Was in the middle of the day using FM...so just not sure what was happening. Out there in
    the middle of nowhere...wasn't a repeater anywhere for miles.

    That's one hell of a distance for a "nothing special" location. Repeaters on towers in our flat areas don't get anywhere near that range. Even many of our well sited ones on mountains struggle to get that far.


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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Friday, April 03, 2020 23:33:26
    What a shame! They were talking about opening a section...without the channels which have been used for a while. Not sure if it has happene yet.
    The problem of being in a large country with few people - HF is a vital resource.

    Very true. One thing has been bothering me for years about HF is shortwave broadcasting. In the past...that was the only radio some had & now...most are not there. When SHTF & the Internet is gone...gonna be in a bind that we may never get out of.

    That's one hell of a distance for a "nothing special" location.
    Repeaters on towers in our flat areas don't get anywhere near that
    range. Even many of our well sited ones on mountains struggle to get
    that far.

    The only explanation I would have is the conditions were right to do that...just like me using a manual screwdriver at 20M on PSK31 in Idaho & having a rag chew with someone in Alice Springs. More amazing that that
    antenna was in my room...rather than outside.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Saturday, April 04, 2020 18:07:00
    On 04-03-20 23:33, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    Very true. One thing has been bothering me for years about HF is
    shortwave broadcasting. In the past...that was the only radio some had
    & now...most are not there. When SHTF & the Internet is gone...gonna be
    in a bind that we may never get out of.

    Indeed, shortwave broadcasting is still vital, IMHO. It was a sad day when Radio Australia shut down for good years ago. And now the Chinese have taken over their old frequencies. One can hardly blame the Chinese taking over known vacant frequencies. :/

    The only explanation I would have is the conditions were right to do that...just like me using a manual screwdriver at 20M on PSK31 in Idaho
    & having a rag chew with someone in Alice Springs. More amazing that
    that antenna was in my room...rather than outside.


    If that distance was a one off, then tropo would explain it, I have done simplex over much greater distances, like 600+km in one instance. :)


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  • From volker@21:2/168 to Vk3jed on Saturday, April 04, 2020 14:09:57
    The only explanation I would have is the conditions were right to do that...just like me using a manual screwdriver at 20M on PSK31 in Ida & having a rag chew with someone in Alice Springs. More amazing that that antenna was in my room...rather than outside.

    Cobwebb multiband home-buit for less than 50$, around 40W HF, PSK31 from
    Spain to the great lakes, around 7000 Km

    vy 73 de EB3EXX

    -- Volker

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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Saturday, April 04, 2020 07:46:54
    & now...most are not there. When SHTF & the Internet is gone...gonna in a bind that we may never get out of.
    Indeed, shortwave broadcasting is still vital, IMHO. It was a sad day when Radio Australia shut down for good years ago. And now the Chinese have taken over their old frequencies. One can hardly blame the Chinese taking over known vacant frequencies. :/

    Not who I would want to have using them...but at least 1 thing we know...they are smarter than those of us in the West. Progress is 1 thing...but being prepared for an actual emergency is something else.

    If that distance was a one off, then tropo would explain it, I have done simplex over much greater distances, like 600+km in one instance. :)

    Tropo was it in the middle of the afternoon. Being all I've ever lived at
    were apartments...couldn't put up an outside wire to really let me get out.

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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to volker on Saturday, April 04, 2020 07:51:15
    Cobwebb multiband home-buit for less than 50$, around 40W HF, PSK31 from Spain to the great lakes, around 7000 Km

    Been a while since I've looked at antennas. This is 1 I've not heard about...but found on Google.

    Can you build this to be used indoors & hung on a wall or suspended from the ceiling of an apartment?

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  • From volker@21:2/168 to Phoobar on Saturday, April 04, 2020 17:25:04
    Can you build this to be used indoors & hung on a wall or suspended from the ceiling of an apartment?

    Probably not... I had mine on the corner of a terrace, it'a a cheap and easy build, but a large bugger (6x6 feet, more or less, IIRC)

    -- Volker

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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to volker on Saturday, April 04, 2020 22:10:14
    Probably not... I had mine on the corner of a terrace, it'a a cheap and easy build, but a large bugger (6x6 feet, more or less, IIRC)

    Do have a self-built GR5V jr tuned to 20M that I can string up on the ceiling with tacks that did work at 1 time.

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to volker on Sunday, April 05, 2020 15:08:00
    On 04-04-20 14:09, volker wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    The only explanation I would have is the conditions were right to do that...just like me using a manual screwdriver at 20M on PSK31 in Ida & having a rag chew with someone in Alice Springs. More amazing that that antenna was in my room...rather than outside.

    Cobwebb multiband home-buit for less than 50$, around 40W HF, PSK31
    from Spain to the great lakes, around 7000 Km

    Nice. :) I was considering the anomalous VHF case though. :)


    ... It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Sunday, April 05, 2020 15:11:00
    On 04-04-20 07:46, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    Tropo was it in the middle of the afternoon. Being all I've ever lived
    at were apartments...couldn't put up an outside wire to really let me
    get out.

    Interestig, here, afternoon is usually the least likely time for tropo, normally it's active in the evening to early-mid morning, before the inversion breaks.


    ... Ever notice there's no crime at a shooting range?
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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Monday, April 06, 2020 20:26:17
    Tropo was it in the middle of the afternoon. Being all I've ever live
    Interestig, here, afternoon is usually the least likely time for tropo, normally it's active in the evening to early-mid morning, before the inversion breaks.

    Was studying for my AE exam & had this happen around the same time. As far as
    I was concerned...it could've happened because of voodoo. ;)

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  • From Vk3jed@21:1/109 to Phoobar on Tuesday, April 07, 2020 20:00:00
    On 04-06-20 20:26, Phoobar wrote to Vk3jed <=-

    Was studying for my AE exam & had this happen around the same time. As
    far as I was concerned...it could've happened because of voodoo. ;)

    Could have been voodoo. ;)


    ... We have just enough religion to hate, but not enough to love - J. Swift
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  • From Phoobar@21:2/147 to Vk3jed on Tuesday, April 07, 2020 06:48:40
    far as I was concerned...it could've happened because of voodoo. ;)
    Could have been voodoo. ;)

    BOOOOOOOOOOOO...

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