Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hopewell Celt

  This artifact is called a celt.  A celt is an ungrooved axe head made and used by the original inhabitants of what is now the Midwestern United States.  I did not find this piece but it has been in my family for more than 50 years.  The celt was probably found by my Grandfather or perhaps one of my uncles on a farm west of town where my Dad and his brothers spent time during the summer.

In the book "Ohio's Indian Past" by Lar Hothem I was suprised to find a photograph of a very similar hardstone celt that was found in North Central Ohio.  The description accompanying the photograph in Lar's book dates the Hopewell squared-poll type celt to the middle woodland period roughly 2000 years ago.  According to the book the celt was used for a multitude of chopping and pounding chores.  For example it is believed that stone axes and celts were not used to fell trees but instead to shave off the bark at the base of the tree trunk which would quickly kill the tree.  This was done to create a sunny and shade free glade in which to plant crops.  During the woodland period, 1000 BC - AD 800, the transition from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural based existience was probably well underway.  When I hold this primitive tool in my hands and feel it's heft I can imagine how useful it would have been for digging and chopping.  It is just my opinion but I believe that a celt like mine could have been used as a hand held implement and not fixed to a wood or bone handle. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Recumbent Ride -- Lohr Road Loop

Finally I got away for a couple hours on my HP Velotechnik recumbent bike.  I love early spring rides on the recumbent and although the Lohr Road loop is a great route for the beginning of my riding season I do enjoy it all year around. 

The Picture above I took on Lohr Road looking south across the western end of the Clear Fork valley about eight miles from my driveway.  This end of the loop provides a healthy portion of hills without going overboard on an early season ride.  Adding more hills requires additional distance and ride time or packing up the car and driving to the bigger hills.

I saw this old 1950's flat bed Chevy.  The truck is in excellent shape for being half a century old.

I stopped at this Park along my route.  The small tract of land was donated by the owner to become a public space for people to enjoy.  A short stone covered walking path makes for a nice woodland stroll even in the wet springtime.

Often I fantasize about building up a light sub twenty-five pound recumbent bike that would undoubtedly allow me to increase my average speed over longer rides.  At 33 pounds the HP Velo Street Machine is no lightweight but what it offers in spades is all day comfort thanks to its well designed rear suspension and front air charged fork.  When the roads look like this as many of the county roads around here do I don't mind the extra five or ten pounds the suspension adds to the bike. 

The temperature was a perfect for riding 50 degrees and air was clean and fresh.  Soon field and forest will be coming alive with new growth and the first blooms of spring.  In my mind the Bicycle and it's ability to cover a lot of ground is one of the best ways to experience the changing seasons. 

Ride Time:   1:55
Distance:   23.75 Miles
Average Speed:  12.3 mph
Max Speed:  35.8 mph
Here is a link to the HP Velotechnik website:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Activity at Amateur Radio Station KD8JHJ

In the period between February 19 and this past Saturday I had been on the air only once and that was to answer a CQ call from my friend Gary in New Jersey.  I was in the other room and I heard his distinctive call sign N2ESE beeping out in Morse code from the shack.
Gary and I have made contact several times on 40 and 80 meters in the two years I have been licensed.  It had been a few months since our last QSO so it was great to catch up.
I made up for my lack of recent activity by making some Q's during the SKCC Week End Sprint held on March 13.  The sunspots have pushed the solar flux readings to the highest levels since 2006.  Enhanced radio propagation brought about by the recent upswing in solar activity has the amateur community buzzing.   I can definitely notice the increased signal strength of stations that I regularly hear and link up with during the monthly sprints.  As usual I made most contacts with the Vibroplex Original bug and a few with the NT9K Pro Pump SKCC Club key.

 March SKCC Week End Sprint

Green-  3.5 MHz  (80 meters)
Blue-  7 MHz  (40 meters)
Red-  14 MHz  (20 meters)

7.053       W3OKC       Pennsylvania
7.058       WA4AN       Tennessee
7.056       N3WT       Maryland
7.051       K8EE       Ohio
7.112       KF7KPL       Utah
7.119       WA2JSG       New Jersey
7.056       K4ZGB       Alabama
7.052       K0LUW       Nebraska
3.550       K8MXC       Michigan
3.551       N8KR       Indiana
3.552       W9HLY       Indiana
3.552       K0LUW       Nebraska
3.553       K8IJ       Kentucky
3.556       K8EE       Ohio
7.114       W4HAY       Tennessee
14.053     W7GVE       Arizona
14.055     F6HKA       France
7.115       WB4QQJ/M  North Carolina
7.104       W9DLN       Wisconsin
7.103       WA0BGV     Missouri
7.114       K2VT       New Jersey
7.115       W3NP       West Virginia
7.057       K4GM       Georgia
7.058       KD2JC       New Jersey

Saturday, March 12, 2011

QSL Card -- VE3CGC

My thoughts have been with the people of Japan.  Recent events brought to mind a QRP contact that I made last year using my MFJ 9040 5 watt CW transmitter.  Hiro was using a Icom 706 feeding 5 watts to a loop antenna.  Contacts between two operators who are both using QRP rigs and low power are extra special in my log book.  I've not yet worked a JA station with my meager antenna farm but I can say I have met a Japanese-Canadian ham on the air using my favorite mode Morse code. 

Best wishes and lots of hope for the people of Japan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Pharaoh Fuzz Pedal

As If life wasn't hectic enough I recently found a new tenant for my rental property.  While this is good news for obvious financial reasons it also means I have to move my music studio and other household goods I have stored on this premises so the new occupants can move in.  Setting up my gear and doing some recording is an itch that has needed scratching for some time.

The other day a friend lent me a guitar effect pedal called the Pharaoh to try out.  I finally had a few minutes to plug this thing in to see what would come out.  In a word Wow! I've never heard a fuzz pedal with such a wide range of effect.  The most stunning feature of this pedal is how the tone of my guitar and amp are completely unchanged.  This was something I noticed right away but had not thought about until I read some other reviews by guitarists claiming the same observation.  The bottom end has plenty of bark and the highs crackle like a nearby lightning strike.  Awesome! 

When it comes to music I prefer an old school analog sound and this pedal delivers.  No harsh or tinny digital emulations from this dirt box, just a dump truck load of bad-ass guitar growl.  I want one to call my own for sure.  The creator of the Pharaoh has a blog with more information:  Black Arts Tone Works Check it out!

left to right:  Fender P-bass (American Standard), Epiphone SG Vintage, Epiphone Les Paul Special, Randall 30 watt solid state practice amp 

Fender Acoustisonic 30 watt 2 channel, Fender 60 watt base amp (background)

To record my sounds I use a Tascam digital 8-track.  I mix and master using this board then run a line out to a Sony cd burner to create my finished product.  My approach to music is very much a "Mad Scientist" endeavor.  I love experimenting with effects and multi-tracking my guitars.  What little knowledge I do have I've gotten by just playing around and trying different stuff.  Through recording I believe I have developed a much greater appreciation for the art. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Insulator Post -- California Trio

From Left to Right:

CD 145  California  "Beehive"  Sage Green
CD 162  California  "Signal"  Light Purple
CD  166  California  "A011"  Light Purple

These three insulators are the most recent additions to my little California family.  The CD 145 and 166 I obtained because these style numbers were not yet represented in my collection.  The CD 162 Signal (middle insulator) I purchased because of it's excessive dome glass.  For whatever reason during it's creation the mandrel that forms the threaded socket inside the insulator was not plunged as deep into the molten glass as other Signals I have.  The result is a solid dome that shows the true color of the glass nicely.  A closer look will also show that the thread hole is off center adding even more uniqueness to this particular piece. 

Following are close ups of the embossing on each insulator.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1st Bike Commute of 2011

With the days growing longer and spring just around the corner I couldn't wait any longer.  Today I rode the Titanium General Purpose Bike to work.  The temperature this morning was a mild a 27 degrees and the streets were dry for the most part.  For this quick shot taken with my cell phone I used the receding glacier in the parking lot as a bike rest. 

Now the temperature is a downright balmy 41 degrees as I get ready to head home.  I just might take the long way.