Another Nest bites the dust

While I was playing in the South Carolina QSO party yesterday, I discovered my Nest thermostat decided to flake out and turn the AC on, even though it was saying the AC was off.

It’s not the first time I’ve had a Nest fail on me  before (technically, just the base of the Nest).

No idea if it just happened to be a coincidence, or if it got zapped by some RF while I was playing on the radio. Also a little puzzled as to why the Nest base failed this time and not the other times I’ve been on the radio.

A search of the internet brings up a few forum and email threads that suggest the Nest thermostat base might be susceptible to RFI, probably via RF coupling through the control cable between the thermostat and the HVAC unit.

At the old house, I think the antenna was far enough away that it was never a problem. Here, with the antenna pretty much on top of the roof, RFI into the thermostat via the wiring is a definite possibility.


Guess now I need to see if I can add a bunch of ferrites to the wiring.

Charleston Marathon 2014

Helping out with radio communication support during the Charleston Marathon was a lot of fun yesterday. The weather was on the chilly side with a breeze that didn’t help much. At least it was a sunny day which helped a bit.

I was assigned to the 23 mile mark which, for the marathon course, was also the 17.5ish mark too. It was a while before I saw the first marathon runner come by, about an hour and 40 minutes into the race. There were a few runners trickling by, and then a pretty steady flow of runners over the couple hours going one way, then coming back the other way towards the finish.

The runner in the Superman Underoos outfit gave me a chuckle as he ran by. There was another person wearing a Spiderman shirt, and a woman wearing a 1800s period dress complete with parasol. Probably the most impressive were the two firefighters walking the course dressed in full gear.

Fortunately there were no major incidents (not that I heard over the radio anyway). Had to call for some assistance when a runner broke down at my location but that’s about it. A few other runners broke down at other points in the course but nothing severe.

Just before 2:30PM, the net wrapped up operations and I secured my location. There were only a handful of stragglers walking the rest of the course by that point.

All in all, aside from the temperature, it was a lot of fun. I found out that my HT can reach the repeater on the Yorktown from 8 miles away and that even when broadcasting the time calling signal at max volume pretty much continuously for 4 hours, the battery held out for the entire time. Good things to know.

Marathon, dog show, hamfest

Lots of things going on the next few weekends to keep me busy.

This Saturday (Jan 18) I’ll be helping out with radio communication support for the Charleston Marathon. If you happen to be near the 23 mile mark, stop by and say hi.

The next CHUUG meeting on Jan 23 is something a little different. Instead of the usual Barcamp style discussion, it’s going to be 5 minute lightning talks on the topic of your choice.

Please create and bring a 5 minute presentation on a technical or geek topic that you are passionate about. If you go after the sacred cows of the geek community, all the better.

Next weekend (Jan 25-26) is the Charleston Kennel Club dog show up at the Exhcange Park fairgrounds. Always a fun to see the variety of dog breeds there. I’ll be there both days in the afternoon with the Charleston Lab Retriever Club (the fun dogs) outside. Stop by if you want to experience what a dog show is like, and then head outside to see the Labs where the fun dogs/people hang out.

The weekend after that (Feb 1) is the Charleston Hamfest and “Computer” Show at the Armory Park Community Center just off East Montague. I’ll be there bright and early helping out in the tailgating area. It’s not a huge hamfest but I should be able to find a few interesting things there. There will be door prizes drawn throughout the day, including three cash prizes (if you’d like to buy a prize ticket, drop me a note). Don’t go if you’re expecting a lot of computer stuff though. It’s just not that kind of show. You’ll find a lot of older “computer junk box” stuff, but if that’s what you’re looking for, by all means stop in. An amateur radio licensing test will be conducted at the hamfest too.

The weekend after that is Orlando Hamcation which was a whole lot of fun last year, but we won’t be going this year. Too many other travel plans coming up to make it practical this year.

There’s also a lot of radio contesting coming up over the next few weekends.

Wedding special event station

As part of the wedding festivities, Connie and I decided it would be fun to get on the radio for a special event the morning of wedding day (July 19).

We don’t have a special event call sign and are just going to operate on the radio using our regular call signs (AB4UG and NR4CB).

We’re only going to be on the radio for a couple hours (band and frequency pending, but anywhere between 40m to 6m but not 30m) from 11AM-1PM EDT (1500-1700 UTC). We’ll be self-spotting ourselves on Twitter, so follow me (@imabug) or Connie (@NR4CB) to find us. We’ll also use the #CQMahWedding and #WATwitter hash tags. We’ll stay in the general portion of 40m-12m and in the tech portion of the 10m band so that everybody will be able to join in the fun. If you’re near the radio, tune in and work us!

We’ll also make some QSL cards using some of the wedding photos so if you’d like to get one, send us a card.

Barcamp session idea

There’s an idea for a BarcampCHS session brewing in my head. Something along the lines of open source software and amateur radio. There’s a fair bit of it out there, most of which is something I’m interested in learning more about (like GNURadio). What better way to make yourself learn about something than to try to give a presentation on it, right?

The idea isn’t very well formed yet and may or may not happen, but it’s there. I’ve got until November to figure it out. Plenty of time, right?