My Caribbean Blue Chevy Spark

Growing up in SoCal, cars didn’t just take me from point A to point B. We often spent more time in our cars than we did in our homes. In many ways, our hom had quite a few cars over the years. The first car I ever drove became my first car. That white on blue interior 1983 Buick Regal took me to so many places. After that, I drove a 1993 Regal, a 1988 Chevy IROC Z/28 Camaro (black on black and I dearly miss those T-tops!), a 1988 Ford Ranger, 2001 and 2002 Chevy Cavaliers, a 2008 Chevy HHR, a couple of 1990s vintage Suburbans, and a 2004 Honda Odyssey. Each has their own tale to tell and each has powerful memories from my time with them. Yes, I connect to cars emotionally.

I got sick and tired of dealing with repairs or purchasing a new car when I had a couple of days off the road during my time in trucking and decided to get something with a warranty. This car only has a 1.4L engine, but it also has a clutch pedal and the fuel economy is outstanding! It drives like a little go cart LOL! In keeping with tradition in my automotive adventures, this is another base model with crank windows, manual door locks, etc., but it’s not bereft of tech. No, this little car that was built in Korea has a 7″ touchscreen infotainment system, traction control, Stabilitrak, ABS, OnStar, a backup camera, and TEN AIRBAGS. The only option it has is the Caribbean Blue Metallic paint which I love, but I only paid the extra because it’s all that was available when I needed the car.

So far it’s been a great car and I look forward to teaching Ember to operate a manual transmission and probably passing ownership to her as well.

More New Radios – Baofeng UV-5R EX Handheld VHF/UHF Ham Radios

I posted about my new Radioddity GS-5B radio a couple of days ago. It’s got some great features like a really nice flashlight on the bottom, USB charging, and Bluetooth programming. It really is a nice radio and works wonderfully! That said, there are reasons one might want/need more than one radio… (Scroll to below pictures)

So, before I go any further, I’ll explain a little bit about the radios I just got. These are Baofeng UV-5R EX radios and while their main focus is on a budget price point, they didn’t take that to the extreme. These radios are only $25 each on, but I found a deal where a pair of them was only about $45. These radios feel pretty solid in the hand and come with some really desirable features. They can be programmed via PC using a program called Chirp and a programming cable. They transmit and receive on the VHF and UHF amateur radio bands, receive commercial FM broadcast radio, feature 128 memory stations, tone settings for accessing repeaters, and there’s a white LED on the top to use as a flashlight. There’s no aviation band receiving, no Bluetooth programming, only two bands, and only five watts. They’re good, basic radios with a few minor shortcomings like not as much filtering on the front end of the receiver, but we’ll just say they’re really not the worst radios you can get, especially for the money.

Now, why would I want more than one radio you might ask? Why would I buy a pair of identical radios when I already have a great radio? Well, there are a few reasons. Reason #1 was to have a backup. Radios get dropped, they get run over by vehicles, and they could even have the antenna snapped off. Whether you’re at home or in the field, repairs aren’t easy, quick, or cheap on your main radio. Two is one and one is none and a spare radio as a failover seems like a pretty great idea.

You might be thinking that a spare radio makes sense, but why two spares? I didn’t originally want to buy two radios. I wanted a radio and a spare battery, but I couldn’t find the batteries in stock anywhere. And where the prices were listed, they were $10 – $12 each. It would have been about $37 for one radio and a spare battery. For another $8 I got a spare battery, spare charge cradle, spare charger, and a spare RADIO 😁

But wait! There’s more!!! There’s another reason for wanting two radios. When working low earth orbiting satellites that function as amateur radio repeaters. When working these satellites, it’s very helpful to be able to receive and listen to the downlink WHILE you’re talking.

I’ll get into satellite operations later, but for now I’ll leave you with a YouTube video on these Baofeng radios. Have a great day and I hope to see you back here soon!

Radios – Radioddity GS-5B Handheld UHF/VHF Amateur Radio

So, I talked a little bit about the new ham radio I’d ordered before it arrived. Well, it’s here now and I’ve had a few days of playing with it and its programming software and I’m happy to say it’s been FANTASTIC 😎

As you can see, I’d ordered a Radioddity GS-5B. This radio is VERY ORANGE LOL! My first impressions were that it feels like it’s a quality item. The clicky buttons and power/volume knob all have a very positive feel. The display and button backlights are large, clear, and bright. The flashlight on the bottom is also very bright and really practical as well.

I’ve had a few chances to actually work repeaters around the local area with a very affordable magnetic mount mobile antenna and so far the reports are pretty impressive 😁 Reception on VHF ham frequencies, NOAA weather, and commercial broadcast FM frequencies has been great with both the stock rubber duck and the magnet mount antenna.

As far as programming, it’s not too bad through the keypad, but I’m glad it’s pretty easy via a PC with the included USB cable. There are a few mildly annoying limitations in the PC software, but overall it’s pretty easy. The Bluetooth programming via apps on my iPhone and Android tablets has worked flawlessly so far as well.

One other thing I’ve found out is that this appears to be very closely related to or possibly a re-branded Senhaix 8800 radio which you can see here. That’s not a bad thing at all as it would probably help bring the price down. Click that link and check out the pics. The internal chassis appears to be pretty beefy and the plastic appears to be quality in the disassembly pics.

My overall impression so far is that this is a fantastic value for the money. It appears to transmit and receive well, the other features seem to work well, and it didn’t break the bank 😉

I’ll post updates as time goes on, but for now I’m truly satisfied with my purchase 😎

Pinnacle Peak

My V-Star 650 Classic at the Pinnacle Peak shooting range

Ya know, there’s things I miss about San Diego and Vegas. But there are things I love about Utah. We get snow here, but not usually enough to be a real problem. We have incredibly beautiful scenery. There’s a bunch of public land and a few outdoor shooting ranges like the one at Pinnacle Peak where this pic was taken. And I get to take Ember shooting and fishing among other things 😊
Stay tuned for lots of other fun stuff 😎

Hazy Shade of Winter Today

Today reminded me of one of my favourite 80s songs. It’s a cover of a Simon and Garfunkel song called Hazy Shade of Winter by The Bangles.

As you can see, the terms hazy, drab, gloomy, icy, and snowy all describe the weather and overall feel of the weather in central Utah today.

Now, for those not familiar with the song, I invite you to click above and see what a difference a song makes 😉 This is what I think of anytime the weather turns like this and it always brightens my day 😎

New Camera!

Let’s face it – Most people aren’t too into point and shoot digital cameras these days. It seems like everyone only uses the camera that’s built into pretty much every cellphone these days.

I have a couple of Samsung tablets (the cameras aren’t great, but they’re there) and an iPhone 8+ (which has decent cameras). So why did I get a separate camera?

First off, this camera was on clearance for about $25. There are plenty of times when I’m taking pics that expose the camera to a distinct risk of damage/destruction/loss. I’d much rather deal with the loss of $25 than losing something much more expensive.

Secondly, this new camera has 32GB of storage, a good long-life rechargeable battery, a tripod mounting socket, and importantly a five power zoom.

I think it’ll be fun and interesting to see the differences between images from my phone, tablets, and this new camera.