All posts for the month December, 2010

New Truck

When I retired in 1998 I bought a new Nissan pickup truck.  It’s been a faithful machine and done a lot of jobs for both Jan and myself.  But 12 years is a long time for a truck that is subject to Iowa winters with road salt and grime not to mention the wear and tear that comes from living on a gravel road.

So, we decided to replace the old truck, but it had served us so well that we decided to get something as close to it as possible.  It turns out that, like many things, motor vehicles are subject to “creeping elegance.”   Larger engines, more bells and whistles and overall gentrification.  What we finally settled on was another Nissan Frontier king cab 4×4 with manual transmission (I don’t drive automatic transmissions, but that is another post.)

The differences between the old and the new were fairly significant.  The new has a 6cyl engine while the old one was a 4 and as a consequence the gas mileage will be slightly lower.  The old one had a 5-speed transmission while the new one is a 6-speed.  The old one had manual hubs while the new has automatic hubs.  Overall the new truck is a little bigger and a little roomier that the old.

Below is the old truck:

While here is the new one:

Not that big of a difference from the outside, other than lacking the decals (which I never liked).  Inside there are more changes.  One of them that will cause me a little extra work is that there are fewer good places to mount my radios in the new truck.  I think I have that figured out but, until I actually do it, I am not certain.

I’ll add a follow-up when I’ve installed the radios and gotten a little more used to the new truck.

QSL Cards

In this post I try to explain another aspect of Amateur Radio for my non-ham readers.  One interesting part of Amateur Radio is the practice of exchanging QSL cards to verify an over the air communication.  QSL cards are postcards containing the details of the contact such as date, time (UTC), signal strength (RST) and call letters.  Some cards are extremely ornate while other hams (like me) opt for plainer and less expensive cards.  Here is what my personal card looks like.

One of the reasons the practice of sending QSL cards thrives is that many radio awards require proof that the applicant has actually contacted the station they claim to have communicated with.   There are numerous ways to exchange QSL cards.  The most common ways are by direct mail to the address of the station worked or to a QSL manager for that station.  Clearly this could get rather expensive in terms of outgoing and return postage.   To help with this cost there are QSL Bureaus where a ham can send cards in bulk to a central outgoing bureau in their home country.  That bureau then collects and sends them on to the corresponding incoming bureau in the destination country.  There they are then distributed to the individual ham operators.  This process can save considerably on postage costs but the downside is that the whole process can take a year or more before receiving the desired card back.

Here is an example of some of the QSL cards I have received from various places. (Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version).  Over the years I have collected thousands of cards from all over the world.  In fact filing and storage gets to be a bit of a problem.   I often enter radio contests and I can get a large number of incoming cards a few months after the contest.