October 21st, 2008


SkyWarn, power

I took my SkyWarn training on Sunday. It only took two hours, but I learned a lot. For example, I learned how to tell the difference between a tornado and a downburst. They can look pretty similar from far away (both look like a big dark spot between the cloud and ground). But we all know that tornadoes spin. Downbursts, on the other hand, come bursting straight down and leave fallen trees all lined up. We also learned some things about flood safety, measuring hail, and the dangers of lightning. It was interesting. And now that I have had the training, I can check into SkyWarn nets on the air or even call right into the NWS if I see something suspicious in the sky. I should be getting my spotter ID soon.

It was also interesting to have the chance to see the inside of the NWS center. I always wondered what it would be like to be a meteorologist. It looks like just as much fun as I imagined!

These days I am researching alternate sources of power for my station. Dragging the boat anchor Astron home for the QSO Party made me reconsider doing that again! It's not as heavy as the AGB battery, but 27 pounds is still a considerable weight to drag around.

Currently, I have two batteries for my radio. One is the little NiMH that came with it. It seems to provide only 1-3 hours operating time. That's pretty inconvenient. The other battery is something I am borrowing for EmComm purposes and it would last me up to 80 hours. But the thing weighs as much as two big Astron's! So I am looking for something in between that may give me 10 or 15 hours of operating time. I'm toying with the idea of picking up a smaller Astron, too. It seems that ebay has some for decent prices. That would make the trip home a little easier the next time I plan to operate from PA.
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