Just Me, moaning in General

by MD0MDI
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Just Me, moaning in General

PALSTAR

I am sure that I have covered this before, but after spending some time now trying to contact Palstar via e-mails and posts on groups.io, I am sure that they are either blacklisting me or just ignoring anyone that contacts them from outside of the USA, I have had a few people contact me stating the same in that Palstar are a nightmare to contact these days.

I have been seriously thinking about ordering a Palstar HF AUTO, but with all the agro I have had with reference to trying to contact them about other matters I just do not think that I should order one in case I cannot get support for their products in the future.

It does seem a shame but maybe I should just stick to those that do offer great support, but the only one that gets on the list these days that covers HF Antenna Tuners is MFJ, and the even though they do a tuner that might be worth a try, I know that when you open it up, it will certainly not cover the wattage that some of my old RF Linears push out, especially the big Henry and the OM Power.

I am of course trying to consider a HF Automatic tuner that will not only be used for transmitting on the air using AM, SSB and Data (Mainly RTTY), but I need a good tuner that will cover a decent wattage for when I just test the larger Linear Amplifiers.

I ruled out LDG some time back due to the same problem with not returning e-mails and that was only when I was seeking advice on their large automatic tuner working with their external separate meters, which again I was interested in buying but I thought that if the company does not even answer my e-mails about some questions that even Martyn Lynch & Sons could not answer, then I should not buy a product that comes with zero support.

I have enough parts here that I just might build my own that would be capable of handling the Linears here so I would not have any fears regarding high output dummy load for when I am just testing the gear, but also cover me when I am just sticking to a low wattage for operation through antenna systems.

WIRE ANTENNA SYSTEMS AND BALUN’S

You can buy QRP and low power antennas that are made with wet string these days, and so called “high power” wire antennas that will cope supposedly with 1 Kw but in reality most would not be able to handle this all day long on a contest without getting a little soft, but given our weather will normally snap when the first lot of wind hits them. I can quite happily make my own antennas but the time it takes and the amount of walking involved would kill me for days, and nowadays it is just so easy to look one up on the internet and just order it, then in as few days a present arrives at the door, then all you have to worry about is getting the antenna up and add a new length of feeder is the only thing that we have to do.

BUT,

I have seen a real drop in the quality these days, I used to order radio world Baluns and antennas, but when a few of these started to fail I started to break them up and see why they were failing, what I found was the dinky little wire used inside the balun’s, I put some of the wires on test and could not get them to last above 800w as a max and this was at the most 20 seconds long, fine for CW but certainly not SSB and having a good chin wag, what I found in the real world was that these looked good from the outside but where obviously skimping on their insides, which was possibly down to a cost saving by the manufacturers, I never had one of these white baluns last longer that a couple of years.

I tried looking for other antennas and the only one that I was happy with (so far) is the Hari antenna’s and baluns, well this was up to recent days, the old Hari antennas are still going strong, I have a couple up here now that are over 10 years plus, but the latest antenna which is my 160m Windom is starting to break down, but only on wet days, I am not sure if this is a one off and I will possibly try and get a replacement some time, but this was the only one that I could afford at the time that was rated for 2000w, and before anyone complains I went for the 2000w version over the 500w version because I had hoped that the elements of the antenna was a lot stronger top handle being up a 100ft tree in the bad Manx weather.

Personally, if I could find a good 10Kw rated antenna I would buy it, it should last the time and handle the local weather, plus the balun should be built to a high standard, but as yet I have not seen any on all of the websites that I have come across.

It makes me laugh when you look at eBay for antennas, and I have ordered a fair few and most that are rated at 400w I have just binned as I would not even use for 50w, so cheaply made and not worth even giving credence too.

And I will not start moaning about why it is so difficult to buy RG-400 in the UK.

CAPTURE ONE

I bet a lot of people will not even have heard about Capture One, but if you take photographs and are looking to organise them you would of course have heard of Adobe Lightroom Classic, it is a pretty solid piece of software that puts organising your photos first and then editing them next, back in 2008 and 2009 I took over 100,000 photos for each year, and the good thing back then I was using Lightroom and the ability to search for a specific subject such as the name of a TT rider or something light Lighthouses, or even birds or bats and you would be presented instantly with those photos, and when your database is over 400,000 photos, to find all the photos that are of an old friend in less than a few seconds it is pretty good, but I fell out of Adobe when I was in hospital with cancer as I was going months without using it, and when I did use it I was searching for one photo, doing a quick edit, and then just exporting the image for the website or to pass onto a friend, and yet I was still paying for it each month which meant I was basically wasting money, so I tried to stop the payments and was charged a bloody fortune to quit which was a bloody rip off so since then I have really tried to stay away from Adobe products.

At this point I was testing Adobe Bridge which is free, but it has caveats.

Adobe Bridge alone connects to these sites, mainly for DNS but looking at the firewall logs it does also send data to a few of these sites, such as search information, EXIF data and what looks like information on what you are doing inside of Bridge.

  • destination: 1.1.1.1
  • destination: domain d3d51sjda1sdc4.cloudfront.net
  • destination: domain adobe.com
  • destination: domain adobe.io
  • destination: domain adobegenuine.com
  • destination: domain adobelogin.com
  • destination: domain cloudflare-dns.com
  • destination: domain dns.google
  • destination: domain myportfolio.com

OK I know that most of the list above is DNS Lookups related, but on top of this the same thing is happening with Adobe Cloud:

  • destination: 1.1.1.1
  • destination: 2.18.66.154
  • destination: 3.223.148.161
  • destination: 3.248.26.100
  • destination: 8.8.8.8
  • destination: 13.107.246.64
  • destination: 13.107.253.64
  • destination: 13.224.132.6
  • destination: 13.224.132.35
  • destination: 13.224.132.38
  • destination: 13.224.132.52
  • destination: 13.224.222.11
  • destination: 13.224.222.16
  • destination: 13.224.222.59
  • destination: 18.154.84.125
  • destination: 18.165.201.11
  • destination: 18.165.227.68
  • destination: 18.172.153.24
  • destination: 18.172.153.29
  • destination: 18.172.153.52
  • destination: 18.172.153.59
  • destination: 18.172.153.75
  • destination: 18.172.153.105
  • destination: 18.207.85.246
  • destination: 18.239.236.5
  • destination: 18.239.236.21
  • destination: 18.239.236.61
  • destination: 18.239.236.83
  • destination: 18.239.236.118
  • destination: 18.245.143.37
  • destination: 18.245.187.63
  • destination: 18.245.187.94
  • destination: 18.245.187.97
  • destination: 23.37.1.19
  • destination: 23.48.165.143
  • destination: 34.199.15.100
  • destination: 34.200.141.220
  • destination: 34.250.67.152
  • destination: 35.173.52.122
  • destination: 52.84.90.8
  • destination: 52.84.90.41
  • destination: 52.84.90.71
  • destination: 52.84.90.93
  • destination: 52.86.125.228
  • destination: 52.201.124.82
  • destination: 52.202.113.140
  • destination: 54.74.179.44
  • destination: 54.77.72.255
  • destination: 54.194.243.238
  • destination: 54.195.71.107
  • destination: 54.197.237.198
  • destination: 66.235.152.156
  • destination: 66.235.152.221
  • destination: 66.235.152.225
  • destination: 95.100.104.11
  • destination: 96.16.109.56
  • destination: 104.91.71.78
  • destination: 104.91.71.94
  • destination: 104.115.33.21
  • destination: 108.138.217.20
  • destination: 108.138.217.27
  • destination: 108.138.217.61
  • destination: 108.138.217.71
  • destination: 108.138.217.78
  • destination: 108.138.217.99
  • destination: 108.138.217.110
  • destination: 108.138.217.118
  • destination: 142.250.178.3
  • destination: 142.250.179.227
  • destination: 142.250.180.3
  • destination: 142.250.200.3
  • destination: 142.250.200.35
  • destination: 151.101.2.137
  • destination: 151.101.3.10
  • destination: 151.101.130.137
  • destination: 172.217.16.227
  • destination: 216.137.44.9
  • destination: 216.137.44.55
  • destination: 216.137.44.88
  • destination: 216.137.44.124
  • destination: domain adobe-identity.com
  • destination: domain adobe.com
  • destination: domain adobe.io
  • destination: domain adobecces.com
  • destination: domain adobeccstatic.com
  • destination: domain adobedtm.com
  • destination: domain adobelogin.com
  • destination: domain adobeoobe.com
  • destination: domain astockcdn.net
  • destination: domain cloudflare-dns.com
  • destination: domain dns.google
  • destination: domain googleapis.com
  • destination: domain gstatic.com
  • destination: domain substance3d.com

And this was just over a 1-hour period, I do not understand why an application running on my Mac and looking at my own photos locally needs to be talking to DNS, and Adobe sites and passing information about what I am doing to this many sites so this did not last too long.

I spent months trying out a lot of software trying to find something that would work, my most important features that I required was:

  1. The ability to search for a few photos out of a large library and do it in seconds.
  2. When importing images to delete any that were out of focus, too dark or just not suitable.
  3. To straighten and apply Keywords, Colour Tags, and Rank out of 5 stars quickly.
  4. To finally go through and do fine adjustments to photos.

But so many bits of software do not cover some of these to the point where they are not worth using, there are so many photo editing software that are pretty good, but just not good enough, and I must have tried nearly all of the good recommended software’s out there, and a few failed terribly and most were just unworkable.

In the end the only piece of software that would come up to the standard of Lightroom was Capture One, but this also has some major pros and cons:

PRO’S

  • Seriously the most powerful image editing tools available on the planet, a lot more powerful than Adobe Lightroom.
  • A lot of training material available on the Capture One website and YouTube,0
  • Very Fast once it has loaded.
  • Has the ability to create shortcuts way above what is available in Lightroom to make searches and editing a lot faster.

CON’S

  • A bit of a learning curve, but there are a lot of videos to help you on YouTube.
  • Does not allow you to apply a Colour Tag to Video’s or small images.
  • Cannot apply keywords to Videos and small images.
  • Cannot View File Size and Pixel dimensions when browsing Catalogue, useful when you have same or similar images. 
  • VERY slow loading, I have a fast Mac with loads of memory, and it takes over 10 minutes to load the database that I have.
  • Pretty Unstable and will often Bomb out on me during the day, but it does recover to where you were quite well too.
  • Why does Applying a Keyword to a selection of photos make the activation wheel lock the Mac up for well over 10 minutes?
  • Keywords do not show how many photos are attached.
  • Merging Folders will ‘Always’ Crash the Software, really does not like it.

I am sure that I have missed loads, and yes I know that I have listed a lot of ‘Cons’ but I am getting to enjoy Capture One quite a lot, it is very powerful, and it takes ages to load, but once it has loaded it is pretty fast and very responsive, I think Lightroom does have the edge a little, it is generally a lot more stable than Capture One, but it just costs way too much because you are charged £20 per month, whether you use it or not and for me I would often go months without using Lightroom or Photoshop. Capture One would be an out and out winner if it was not for the small problem that really annoys me and that is that I cannot colour tag or keyword Video files of any sort, and small images. I often still get asked for all the stuff that I have on a certain subject, this will of course have videos as well, and a lot of small image files that was used for websites or logo’s, so using a software that cannot locate all the images that a client has asked for is just stupid and a deal breaker for me, the hunt goes on…

SUBSCRIPTIONS

I bet a lot of people out there are paying monthly for something, and I bet a lot of us have forgotten what we are paying for. For me now, I get a pathetic £400 every four weeks for disability and that is all, no other benefit at all, and all of that vanishes so quickly these days.

My biggest chunk is eaten up by this website, I pay £78 per month for the hosting on a dedicated managed server, on top of this I pay for a few WordPress plugins which cost me £180 every year and then I hope that I have a bit left over for shopping, but I was thinking the other day that we have so much that we kind of forget these days, such as Sky TV, Starlink (which I cannot afford to go without and is bloody fantastic), Netflix, and Various Software packages. And on top of this I offer as much as I have left to my career as registered carers in the Isle of Man get such a pathetic amount of money, they have to work at least 36 hours a week to get what they do which is so below the minimum wage and yet us terminal ill people cannot do without them, so cutting out these subscriptions is a must, especially when you see money going out of the bank that was not expected and then before too long you are going overdrawn again – Opps!

CAN I JUST NOT FEEL CRAP!

This Terminal Cancer stuff is still there, most people I meet say that I am looking a lot better, and quite a few days I wake up and feel fairly normal, my legs hurt, my shoulder are giving me a lot of pain as well, but I do feel on the edge of normality and I am able to do things such as help wash the car, but I always pay for it usually over the next few days, but then some days and I am afraid it is more days than I would wish I did not have.

The morning starts around 7am when I am woken by my partner who pushes so many drugs up my peg, I always feel sorry for her as her day starts an hour before this when she has to get herself up to crush tablets, load a big handful of syringes with carefully measured out drugs of which most are a soup of various pain related drugs so that I can handle to upcoming day, anti-sickness meds that often do not take away the feeling of being sick, and a lot that I have forgotten about, but without them I cannot get out of bed, and certainly cannot get vertical, but even after all these have ben pushed into me, and hopefully not too fast as to make me feel anything. Some days though I get up and go to my small workshop and I am sitting in the chair looking at the screen and I really do not know who I am and what I have to do next, I cannot cope, and just feel so bad that I really do not want to go on, with treatment, with the rest of the day, and even with life.

My carer arrives soon after 9 and is normally cheerful and lets me know what is heading my way for the rest of the day, what she often comes across is me feeling very sorry for himself, not even able to do  anything on the computer in front of him, usually very dizzy, eyes shut, and not a great distance away from wanting to be sick, some days she will come to the workshop, find that I am not sat in my chair, only to find that I have gone back to bed and fallen asleep, not because I am still tired, but because I physically cannot cope with the day, even after midday I am still in a right state, feeling that if I do not move, and do not open my eyes, the pain that I feel will finally take me away from how I feel.

Besides this I do not know how to explain just how bad I feel, it is not just the pain, its having no saliva at all (thanks to the radiotherapy), no taste buds at all (again thanks to the radiotherapy), meaning that anything that I do try to drink or eat does not taste as expected, usually bland, and even my mind knowing what I should expect does not exactly happen.

Water is still a killer regarding taste, it is so disgusting that even brushing my teeth in the morning will make me sick, but I have learnt to use mouth wash instead of water, I often cannot face any food at all before 8pm when my partner gets home, but even the items that I have learnt to swallow does not taste like it should.

I still cannot handle any meat, and the ability to swallow is a major problem, it is like I have forgotten how to, trying things such as spaghetti which I used to love, now I have a real issue trying to swallow, cutting it up to very small bits seems to sometimes help but I am often fighting it, half an hour after I have finished trying to eat it I am still coughing up large balls of spaghetti, solid food of any sort is a hard challenge for me, we have tried children’s meals of all sorts as it is not worth wasting meals on me as I might only be able to cope with a single mouth full with the rest heading into the bin.

If it was not for having the PEG I would not be able to cope at all with hydration at all, I only drink during the day about half a mug of the only coffee that I can handle, it is instant latte mixed in less than half the normal water amount so that it is strong enough that the water is not over powering, the taste is weird and one that I have learnt to handle and except, I cannot drink squash, fizzy drinks, and all alcoholic drinks, all have too much water where the water still tastes on water!, So I do not get to look forward to any really, annoyingly for the doctors, the only thing that I do kind of enjoy is chocolate, but even this has changed.

My all-time favourite chocolate would be Cadburys Whole Nut or a Flake, but since all of my treatment, even this has changed, I now cannot really cope with any of this, now a Lindor chocolate is handleably, and I get a good taste from this, the only issue that I seem to get from this is that it will coat the throat with a layer of the chocolate which makes me cough a lot which makes those still worried about covid really worried, which kind of makes me chuckle.

My bad days are really bad, I just would like to curl up in bed and would be happy to basically just die.

It has taken a year and a half to get my pain meds nearly right, between pentanol patches that are changed every 3 days and Tramadol pumped into me way too often but I am well happy for, and pregabalin as well, there are a few others such as Oramorph, etc, but the pain is down enough to enable me to stand up, walk the little that I can and not be crying in pain like I used to do, but I am far from brilliant, if I am feeling good, I end up moving a few boxes or helping out in the garden only to spend the next few days a total cripple and buggered, but I hope that this would help me out in the long run, somehow, at least I will be stronger to handle the next bit..

TRYING TO REPAIR STUFF ON A BUDGET.

I certainly get much more enjoyment these days out of repairing some piece of Amateur Radio Equipment these days, to the point where I do not care too much if I have bought something only to find out later that it is dead, the heads up is always nice, especially if I am hoping to use something but instead find that it will be months before that will happen.

One of the biggest problems that I have these days is the cost of the equipment needed to service an item such as a BGA Rework Station, A Good Signal Generator, A Logic Analyser a good Heathkit IT-21 Capacitor Tester.

But even more annoying than this is the big problem of living on an island, even a beautiful island such as this, and that is that you cannot find items worth repairing, and it is certainly near impossible to find anything worth restoring to ‘mint’ as I call it, so you then have the brick wall of getting to the mainland from the Isle of Man, which means ferries or planes, not impossible but it might as well be when you have cancer and your meds for just a couple of days would fill a boot of a car, or if you are willing to explain to customs why I am brings so many drugs on to the plane. So, I have to hope that some people would send stuff to me, the issue here is that most of the stuff that I want is heavy which comes with its own headache regarding delivery costs.

As most of the equipment that I like has a origin of the USA, servicing them and especially restoring them causes me a very costly headache all the times, it is certainly getting harder to locate suitable donor items these days, most people see old and feel the need to add ‘Rare’ in the title and with it shove the price up, I’ve seen items that should cost a few pounds advertised for hundreds, case in point is old Exprt CB radios, most are not worth more than £50, but are advertised at over £200 and you know that they will need loads replacing and some of these parts are even now getting hard to locate, even 4000 and 7400 series IC’s now are be advertised for silly prices, the whole world has gone stupid.

PASSING STUFF ON TO WORTHY INDIVIDUALS

The really annoying thing for me is that this is a bloody hobby to me, and one day very soon now I will need to pass all that I have on to someone, and even this is causing me a headache these days.

I very rarely sell anything and when I do it is always at the fraction of the cost, I let my Icom IC-7300 go with the Pan-Adapter Module installed and many extra’s for just £400 and I felt guilty about that, I always prefer to give things away to someone that actually wants it.

This makes me laugh as most end up selling me stuff at a high cost which I then give away if I find that I do not have a use for it, but of course I am not on about any of the nice stuff as I call it, that said I gave most of my test equipment away a little while back to a friend that I know would put it to good use,  but I would hate to think about the rest of the kit that I have, the cost of the radios and the test equipment that I still have is bloody lot in value, like most radio hams I am a Ham Radio Hoarder, we collect so many things along the way, but I do at least try to use what I have and as time goes on I am trying to think about who I can let have it all when I do finally bite the dust, the bucket and god knows what else.

Of late I have sadly lost some of my best friends and the latest I was hoping I could let have all that I have bar a few other people, the few that I have left would only see it as a way to make a bit of money, mainly as they have sold me stuff, but one thing that I have learnt about Ham Radio, is that you pass it on, but sadly one thing that I have learnt living on the Isle of Man is that except for a very few, you would not trust any local amateurs to look after and care about any of the gear that I have got hold of over the years and most who would not know what to do with a lorry load of lovingly restored RF Linear Amplifiers and old vacuum tube radios, maybe this is why so many people send items to me as they know that I would make sure that in time someone will have it and look after it.

It is not just the hardware, but also items such as Photo’s, I have over 20,000 photos that are related to Ham Radio, and of those I have over 5,000 which are related to people that either are still alive or have sadly past, what do I do with these?

I have been given loads of photos that I have not yet got round to scanning in, and most of these are in the 6 ‘Scrapbooks’ that I have been kindly sent to me.

I have so many items that I have regarded are off limits for selling, these are items that I have that were once owned by local amateurs that I regarded as good friends, such as those that were owned by Harry Blackburn (MD0HEB) and Douglas Dodd (GD3RFK), some of this is old and requires quite a bit of care these days, and then I have had some items from people that I regard as friends, I have a truly mint Yaesu FT-101ZD Mark III Bundle and a beautiful Yaesu FT-ONE that were very kindly given to me, and these will never be sold and I care so much about these because of the kindness of the new friends that I have met since my battle with cancer has gone and ruined everything, but I know that I need to find a worthy person to pass all of these items on to.

Last Updated : 6th March 2024

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