And the list has some problems. Too many clothes, missing sleep clothes, filter instead of Philmont tablets, bear canister, and so on. Prompt was “make a backpacking gear list for Philmont”.
Author Archives: Walter Underwood
Backpacking Bread—First Attempt with Banks Fry-Bake
I like to try out new backpacking recipes at home before hitting the trail, so today I baked bread in the Banks Fry-Bake that I was given on Christmas. Very successful, it was tasty and I learned things for next time.
Elecraft KX3 Modifications Timeline
The official Elecraft site lists all the mods and updates for the KX3, but doesn’t collect those with serial numbers in one spot. I’ve made a list of the ones documented.Continue reading
Click Residual: A Query Success Metric
How do you find out which queries need the most improvement? Look at the ones that are underperforming compared to their expected number of clicks. If you look for low click-through rate (CTR), you’ll find underperforming queries, but they’ll almost all be in the long tail. Improving those won’t make an overall improvement. Click residual is a metric that combines CTR with overall traffic to give a useful number.
To find the queries with the most impact, start with the click count. “Click residual” is the difference between the expected number of clicks and the actual number of clicks. When that is negative, you can see how many times a customer did a search, but wasn’t satisfied enough with the results to click, relative to the overall performance of the search system.
$11 Base for Magnetic Keys and Paddles
Want a base for your spiffy new Morse Code paddles with a magnetic mount? Try this jeweler’s bench block. It is 13 oz. (375 g), has a shiny surface that magnets stick to, and a grippy silicone base. Plus, it is only $10.99.
The key is a UMPP-Academy made by GM0EUL. It looks like other 3D-printed keys, but it uses the same precision bearings that Begali uses. I have the extra magnets mounted on the sides of mine to increase the force needed to make contact. With the built-in magnets, it was just too touchy for my big, clumsy fingers.
It is plugged into an Ultra PicoKeyer, which is more keyer than I’ll ever need.
The Power of Suggestion
This article was in the January-February 2020 edition of BSA Advancement News. That issue is not available in the BSA’s online archive so I’m republishing it here. Emphasis is in the original.
The Power of Suggestion
We’ve all heard of the ‘power of suggestion’ and how it can influence our lives and the lives of those around us. If someone or something suggests to you a specific outcome, your expectations can play an important role in achieving that out-come. The reason for this is that the way we anticipate our response to a situation influences how we will actually respond.
RF Exposure Calculations for Emergency Commmunication
I’ve calculated some safe distances for RF exposure in typical emergency communication situations. These are for a 5 W HT (handheld radio) or a 50 W mobile, on 2 m and 70 cm, each with typical antennas. The results may also be useful for other VHF/UHF portable activities, like ARRL Field Day, Summits on the Air, or Jamboree on the Air.
Very short version: The 6-7 foot social distance we’ve learned to keep is safe for a typical fixed or mobile em-comm deployment. This is the distance between any part of the antenna, including the radials, and a member of the general population. 5 W HTs are safe for handheld use.
The FCC introduced new RF exposure rules for amateur radio in 2021. Hams used to have special exemptions, now we need to do RF exposure evaluations for all uses. If your transmitter and antenna are like the setup used for these calculations, you might be able to use these results. If yours are significantly different, this should help you get started.
Scout Backpacking Around the SF Bay Area
I’ve written a series of articles about backpacking trips that work for Scouts ages 10 to 14. Some have a “split hike” possibility where older, stronger Scouts can take a different route to the same campsite.
- Sunol Regional Wilderness Preserve
- Coast Camp at Point Reyes
- Angel Island State Park
- Black Diamond Mines
- Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin
- Boulder Creek Scout Reservation
- Eagle Spring Camp at Mission Peak
- Black Mountain Trail Camp at Monte Bello Open Space
- Manzanita Ridge at Henry Coe State Park
- Castle Rock State Park
- Pioneer Outpost at Cutter Scout Reservation
See you on the trail!
Backpacking: Pioneer Outpost at Cutter Scout Reservation
Not especially well-marked if you want to make it a loop, but easy to follow on a fire road if you make it an out-and-back. This campsite is a couple of miles from the main part of Cutter, past the COPE course, down into a small valley. When you hit a decent-sized meadow on the downhill side of the road, you’re there.
If you know a Scouter who’s taken the High Adventure Training (HAT) course at Cutter, they have probably hiked the whole loop. GPS tracks are available, if you ask nicely.
Backpacking: Castle Rock State Park
This is a loop, with the trail camp 2.5 miles from the parking lot. One side of the loop is a dramatic trail along the side of the ridge. with views out to the ocean on good days. Our Scouts call it the Cliff Trail, but its official name is the Saratoga Gap Trail. The other half of the loop goes through a woods along the top of the ridge, the Ridge Trail. The elevation gain/loss for the full loop is about 1200 feet.
Backpacking: Manzanita Ridge at Henry Coe State Park
Three miles, with elevation gain loss of +/- 500 to 600 feet depending on which group camp you stay at and which route you take.
The first part of the hike has three options. The ranch road follows the crest of the ridge, so it has more views and a bit more climbing. The Springs Trail is on the sunny south side of the ridge, going mostly through meadow. The Forest Trail is on the shady north side of the ridge. The Forest Trail also has a nature booklet and is great for doing some tree and plant identification.
I like to go out on the ridge-top ranch road and return on the Forest Trail.
There are ten group camp sites stretched out along about a half mile of trail. Personally, I like site 10, at the end. It has a big meadow to run around in and some trees for protected camping spaces. it also has a nice view to the west. Site 5 is on top of a knoll and is also a a nice spot. Several of them are nice, really.
Backpacking: Black Mountain Trail Camp at Monte Bello Open Space
About two miles with 600 feet of up and down, just enough up and down to feel like a real hike. The trail goes through open grasslands with nice views along the headwaters of Stevens Creek.
There are a couple of options, taking the trail or the road. They are about the same distance and elevation gain/loss, so let the Scouts choose the route.
Backpacking: Eagle Spring Camp at Mission Peak
I recommend starting at Sunol Regional Wilderness Preserve and hiking to Mission Peak from the east side. That trail is longer, 5.5 miles, but not as steep. Also, the overnight parking is much safer because the park is closed overnight.
The hike is nearly all on fire roads. That is a harder surface, but our Scouts like it because they can walk side by side and talk the whole way.
Backpacking: Boulder Creek Scout Reservation
Loop trail, 3.5 miles total, about 600 feet of uphill to the campsite and returning.
Camp in a spacious redwood grove. I prefer the Upper Redwood campsite to Lower Redwood or Meadow. Meadows are lumpy and cold. Upper Redwood is just a little nicer.
Backpacking: Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin
From Big Basin State Park Headquarters, hike the Skyline to the Sea Trail to Berry Creek Falls, then hike up the Berry Creek Falls Trail past Silver Falls and the Golden Cascade, then continue on to Sunset trail camp. The closest water is at Berry Creek, so fill up there before hiking to the camp.
This can be turned in to a two-night trip if you start by camping at the Jay Trail Camp in the Big Basin headquarters area.