Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

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Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

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(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   800 Mhz
Saturday, May 15 2004
800 MHz, that's the base frequency of most cell phone communication in the United States. Supposedly there are also phone frequencies in use up at 1900 MHz, but cell phone enthusiasts don't talk much about what is happening there. Cellphone reception is universally bad-to-nonexistant in Woodstock and Hurley, but we're lucky because our house is at the rim of a plateau and actually enjoys some cellphone reception, although it vanishes a couple hundred feet in either direction on Dug Hill Road. Gretchen has an older Motorola flip phone with a monochrome display, and it seems to get better reception than my infuriating piece of electronic candy. So I've been thinking about building something to improve my phone's utility. This would, of course, include some sort of 800 MHz directional antenna to point at the nearest cell phone tower. So today I found myself wading into Google search results for things like "Yagi 800 MHz" and "Yagi calculator." I really needed information in the form of Yagi Antennas for Dummies because I don't know anything about them (for example, I don't know the difference between a reflector and a director or whether or not either would be considered an element). But instead I'd get fancy Javascript calculators that could give me lots of high-precision numbers without telling me what exactly those numbers meant in a real antenna. Here's what would have been great: an actual diagram of a Yagi antenna with arrows pointing at its various dimensions. The other ends of these arrows would lead back to form boxes that would contain different numbers depending on the data fed in.
In the end I found a relatively useful Yagi calculator that had to be downloaded. It wasn't great, because it took over my whole screen and didn't actually draw me the pictures I wanted. But it was very specific with what the numbers it returned meant, and I was able to use it to build myself an 800 MHz antenna using a piece of copper pipe as a boom and 2mm brass brazing rods as elements (which, I learned, includes everything perpendicular to the boom, including the director, reflector, and driven element).


This evening Gretchen had Nicky (the young punk rock woman who works at the Ulster SPCA) over to walk the dogs. Later the three of us went to eat at Luna 61, the vegetarian restaurant in Redhook. Just as we were arriving, so too were our neighbors the Meat Locker People, completely coincidentally. Everything about them is coincidental with us, including the fact that they live on Dug Hill Road (remember, Gretchen had known them in Brooklyn and they recently moved to within a quarter mile of us without knowing we were already there). They were out celebrating Mr. Meat Locker's birthday, but they joined us anyway and we had a great meal together, although Nicky mostly kept silent and drank beer.
At some point I was talking about how much I hated the side of the Hudson we were on (Dutchess County) with its snooty Rhinebeck and (as Mr. Meat Locker pointed out) the inexplicable "t" in the middle of its name. I did qualify this by saying I thought Redhook was okay and (casting about for a more obscure Dutchess County town) "Pine Plains is awesome!" The waitress overheard me saying that and she came over saying, "You didn't just say what I think you said, did you?" It turned out she was from Pine Plains and it's a total hick town, a half hour from anywhere anyone would ever want to be. Yeah, but at least it's not Rhinebeck with its glitterati and celebrity sightings. Speaking of celebrity sightings, Gretchen was certains that the distinguished older man seated in the corner was one of the actors in the Sopranos. But I don't know how certain she could be - neither of us watch the Sopranos.

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