Robo Spam Bot Spam Smoke Spam Spam

Final update: While the commenting on the comments nonsense is kinda fun, I will let it go with an interesting final note. In a comment today, someone’s comment posting script screwed up and posted not just a single comment but an entire “|” delimited file with 198 comment strings, mostly of them just as badly formed as the last. Good place to call it quits on commenting on the comments 🙂

Original post:

There is definitely a lot of comment traffic generated by a new blog, and even though much of the content here is older, the blog itself is pretty new. There have been a couple of nice comments, mostly questions, and I am always ready to help if I can, and at first, I thought they were genuine. However, as I began to notice that the majority of comments are actually clumsy attempts at being stealthy advertising, a comment obviously meant to be looked upon favorably and approved so the commenter’s email or webpage “name” will make it to the interwebs, it became clearer that the once-approved comments were likely the same, just crafted better.

Some of the spam comments are obviously robot generated due to their being very generic and not at all in context with of the post they are attached to. Many of those are also grammatically atrocious:

Comment to post about new SDR radio and spectrum analysis software:

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Comments to post about installing a mobile radio:

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Comments to a post about a reloading press and pistol match:

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Comments to a post about electronic fuel injection:

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Comments about *this* post:

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The first spam ad with a URL for a business that at least looked legitimate came through as a comment on further investigation of the RFI issue.

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Elevation Profile

There are a couple of free elevation tools on the internet. I don’t like the conclusions, but I guess it’s better to know.

FreeMapTools has an Elevation Finder tool. With it, one can easily check specific elevations anywhere you click on the map. There is also that less intuitive but better suited Hey What’s That website. I did profiles of my path to repeater with both Elevation Finder and HeyWhatsThat. They seem to agree that my 885-ish foot home elevation is no match for the 1000+ peaks between me and the 949 foot repeater antenna.


Note that the highest elevations are within 3 to 5 miles of home.

The only good news is the orange highlighted area, particularly the skyward piece. This is the calculated propagation of a 145MHz signal between these two points. The fact that I can hear the repeater fairly well is also promising.

At this point, more gain may not make nearly as much difference as more altitude.

The calculated altitude needed for a completely unobscured point to point view would be 170 feet above ground on my end, so lets hope it doesn’t take that much.

Rack’em Up

I finally put together a desktop 19″ rack that I have wanted to put together to put all the RemoteRig Radio end equipment into. It went pretty quickly. The shelves came with hardware that didn’t fit the threaded holes in the rack. Luckily, I did have enough of the right size to assemble everything, though I need a few more to make all components attached with the right number of screws.


Please pardon the workbench.

At the top is an AC plug strip with individually switched outlets. At some point, I hope to have some other equipment in this rack, so the lone device connected to it on switch 1 will have buddies.

Switch 1 powers the JetStream 25A switching power supply.

The DC output connects to the input of the RIGrunner 4008H distribution panel. I connected one of the 25A outputs to the Icom and one of the 1A outputs to the RemoteRig. I made up a spare power cord to use with either the Kenwood TM-731 or the Yaesu FTM100DR, as they both use the same T-style connector.

After that, it was just connecting the grounds and antennas back to it. For the time being, I have left it in the center of the workbench because it’s permanent home still needs a bit of work to clear out. We’ll see what the evening allows.

Altitude is Relative

I have had some trouble getting a signal all the way back to Fort Worth. In fact the repeater I frequent is pretty much exactly 28 miles away. 50 watts into a 6.5 dBi omni antenna *should* look like 136 watts, but that doesn’t account for the hillside between here and there.

Our property is downhill from the street, but today I used a builder’s level to quantify what I believe to be a significant factor in my limited range towards Fort Worth.

For those unfamiliar with a builder’s level, it’s a piece of surveying equipment used most often to ensure structures are level over long distances, particular stuff like driveways or drainage ditches or houses. I first used one when we were building a sand pad for an above ground pool.


The ground within this circle is 10 inches lower on the left side than the right.

You set up the level on it’s tripod and either leave it where you put it throughout the project or mark precisely where the legs are. Using the bubble level on the device and the adjuster wheels, you set the unit itself level, then using the graduated measuring stick, you look through the little telescope and get the height of the measured point relative to the level plane described by the tool.




This pic shows the view through the view scope. The ‘6’ is very dim, but in this view, the ground at the measured point is just under 6′ 8″ below the crosshairs in the level.

Well, I did not use the measuring stick because I was looking for much more of a thumbnail measurement (and it’s a pain to do without an assistant), but I set the level up on the street out front and took a sighting off the antenna on the workshop.

The level is 5 feet up from the street. Once set, the level sighted the workshop just a few inches below the roof peak. Go down 5 feet from there and it’s about the bottom of the antenna mast.


So… the antenna mast is essentially sitting at street level, meaning the base of antenna itself is only about 9 feet above the ground in the direction of the repeater.

Even with a beam, I will probably need to get some more height.


Manual Import, Phase I Complete!

I manually moved all the posts on two Electronic Fuel Injection projects from the MSRuns projects forum. They are categorizes here as 1982 Yamaha Maxim XJ550 and 70-something Stires Trike respectively.

Since I manually copied and pasted them and most of them are 5-6 years old, there may be the occasional link that goes nowhere. I will need to audit it, which will obviously take a while.

Also, I just posted the original date in the text of the post. The posting date will show today or yesterday. That can be edited, but with 120 posts, that too will obviously take a while.

In any case, there they are!

A Mostly Good Day

Lots of little things today.

On the way out of the neighborhood this morning, I had my little SDR running, centered on 145.33. At the house, I saw a pretty strong birdie at exactly 144.000 and it never went away all the way to work, so I presume it’s an artifact from the laptop or perhaps in the radio itself. There was a tiny peak just above the repeater at 145.4125, but it went away by the time I got out to the truck, so it was probably something in the kitchen.



Interestingly, Oncor called me today with an update. Basically, my incident has been assigned to an RFI tech. I can expect to hear from them maybe Friday, but probably next week.

There was talk on the repeater today about a short Fusion Digital net right after the regular Six Shooter Net, so I put the FTM-100DR on the workbench so I could use the big antenna and have the best chances of joining in.

On the FM net, I tried to check in on *every* round and was never heard. I guess I need a beam or some more altitude. With the assistance of GoogleMaps, I have determined that I am 28 miles line-of-sight from the repeater. I am considering a three element beam. It would definitely have enough gain going that direction and would likely be wide enough to reach other Fort Worth area repeaters as well.

I eventually gave up and used the time to upgrade the firmware in the radio. I had plenty of time because it was the first time for a particular lady ham to run the net and people came out of the woodwork to check in for her. By the end of the net, she broke both standing records for length of a Six Shooter Net by three minutes and number of unique checkins by ten, even without mine!

So, the FTM100 firmware update procedure is split into three separate elements, the system, the display/control panel and the DSP. Before any of them, you connect the data cable to the PC and run the update program. It shows directions, which are also explained in an accompanying PDF in greater detail.

For the main firmware, you remove power, set an update switch reachable behind a rubber plug on the top of the radio and apply power. The weird part is that the radio in this mode shows no signs of life. You just click the OK and it starts loading. After it finishes, you are to remove power, set the update switch back, power up, perform a factory reset then verify the version.

The panel is different in that you hold down a two key combination on the panel as you power on the radio. It puts the radio into a mode specifically for panel updates. Then you flip an update switch and press a reset button reachable behind a rubber plug on the back of the control panel. Click ok and it starts loading. When it finishes, you again power cycle, do a factory reset and verify the version.

The DSP is similar to the panel. You hold down a different two key combination on the panel as you power up, then press a key on the panel to get to the DSP update mode and click OK. Interestingly, the DSP update didn’t claim to need a factory reset and definitely showed to be updated by the version numbers.

After the factory reset, you lose the callsign and all your channel memories and any other settings. It’s probably best to backup all to an SD card before the updates then restore from SD afterwards. In my case, I had both the SD card and the programming software.

So far as I can tell, the updates didn’t fix anything that I was aware of 🙂

So by that time, the record-smashing Six Shooter Net on FM had concluded and they had anyone who could do digital do a quick checkin with their location. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t make it, but 16 others did.

Oncor RFI Saga

Tiny update:

Thank you for contacting Oncor regarding radio interference. Your request has been assigned to the appropriate department. One of our representatives will contact you within the next 2 business days.

So, maybe something will come of it afterall…

Mostly Moved

Blogger has an XML export and WordPress has a Blogger Import plugin that can read the export, so moving the posts over was generally pretty easy.

Everything defaulted as Uncategorized. There is a a bulk edit facility where I could *add* another category, but I had to touch each post to remove the Uncategorized tag. Once all the posts were properly tagged, I added a menu that lets me put all the posts from five separate Blogger blogs and use the menu to view only the specific subjects.

The other caveat to the export/import process is that images came across on the import as URLs pointing back to Blogger. I will need to copy those actual images over here and edit the links in the posts. I think I can massage the XML files themselves to facilitate it…

All in all, though it is not yet 100% finished, it was much easier than I expected, especially with 190+ posts going back 6 years.



Thanks to Google’s decision to move PicasaWeb galleries under the Google Photos banner, and more specifically the likely effect that may have on my few years of Blogspot blogging posts and the access to those photos, I have elected to move all my blogs to a WordPress server. Rather than using the WordPress hosting service, I have chosen to use WordPress on a server is hosted by GoDaddy. In a way, I am again dependent on another entity for my internet real estate, but this is a paid service and I don’t think GoDaddy is as likely to make such far reaching decisions without input from their paying customers. Besides, it’s easier to have GoDaddy host all this stuff as well as register my domain names. Well, most of them are here, anyway.

Google is great (if maybe too connected) and I foresee keeping my gmail accounts and my Google voice number for as long as they offer them. My preferred mobile phones are Android, so there will always by a Google connection there. Google is also a private business and they are completely free to make whatever decisions they see fit to operate their business. Those of us who enjoy the services that they offer for no direct renumeration must be willing to accept that we really have no say in their decisions, not like their board of directors does.

My blogging, even if only seen by a small number of people, is a deeply personal investment of my time (on Blogspot since 2009, before Google bought them) and I am trying to insulate myself from the decisions that Google may make.

Thus, I am moving my blogs over here where at least I have a contract with GoDaddy and they have accepted my renumeration in exchange for specific services.

I have five Blogger / Blogspot blogs, though really only three of them have any reasonably current activity. As I learn how things work in WordPress, I imagine I will build replacements for all five blogs, plus a couple on MSRuns and, who know, maybe some new ones. It should be an interesting ride, for me anyway.