Patrick Sherrill, the man I didn’t know.

Posted on February 22, 2018
Filed Under Amateur Radio, Rants and Ramblings | Leave a Comment

August 20, 1986 is a day I will ever remember.
That is the day I walked into the living room and the TV had a picture of a balding man on it. I yelled to my wife – “Hey that’s Pat Sherrill on TV”. I turned up the TV only to hear he had killed 14 people and himself on the job at the Post Office in Edmond Oklahoma.  Denial and shock was my first feeling. That isn’t the guy I knew years ago.

Patrick Sherrill, WB5JYK.

Pat was a bit odd. Not scary odd…just not your *normal* acting dude.

I met Pat via Amateur Radio back around 1974 or 1975. I had communicated with him several times and one day…he just showed up at my house. I was around 16-17 at the time.  I was a bit put off that he just showed up. He didn’t stay long.  We talked about radio stuff. After that we became common communicators via ham radio. I would even say he was a friend. Somewhat older…but that really wasnt unusual as most Amateur Radio folks were older than I was at the time.

Belonging to some of the same radio clubs in Oklahoma City.  Pat was somewhat involved in emergency communications via the Amateur radio club and participated in the annual field day extravaganza. Not only did he show up for events, he would help setup and take down.  Believe it or not that is unusal. Most people show up for a while then leave.  Pat actually helped.  His  Amateur Radio call sign was WB5JYK. In 1976 he used the centennial prefix of AB5JYK.

Prior to my joining the USAF I worked at Black Radio Co. where I repaired and installed commercial radios, including State law enforcement agencies.  I recommended Pat for a job there when an opening became available.  I worked with and alongside him for over a year.  He was always polite. Somewhat soft spoken. Very smart. However sometimes he did work a bit slower than expected.  That being said he generally did a good job.

We all make mistakes periodically.  One or two  of his come to mind.  He was installing a radio in a vehicle. It required a high current source so it connected directly to the car battery with heavy cables.  In hilarious hindsight I remember him slamming the hood of the car. Moments later smoke starts billowing out from the engine compartment. I ran over and opened the hood and saw a glowing  red hot wire melting its way through the many hoses in the compartment. With the nut driver I still had in my grasp, I hooked the wire lifting it and yanked it loose from the battery connection. Pat had mounted the circuit breaker too high and when he closed the hood it shorted to the vehicle body.  Our boss, Elmo Black, was a very good gentleman and didn’t fire Pat. Or even yell at him.  Just paid to have the vehicle repaired. Thankfully no fire broke out.
There was another incident involving a drill and long screws. Somehow Pat drilled through the center console / transmission hump to mount a radio. Sadly he also drilled INTO the transmission. Oops! Didn’t get fired for that one either.

Civil Service –

Pat was always talking about wanting to get a job with civil service and the Post office. To this day I have no idea why that was one of his life goals. Maybe the retirement.  He certainly had the ability/knowledge to make more money, at least in the short term.  Like I said he was a bit odd. I guess he did achieve that goal. I am sure he was appalled and disappointed to learn such jobs have a lot office politics.

I have no recollection of Pat talking about guns or rifles, even when another co-worker brought in his Thompson Contender handgun. Or when the OSBI agents showed us their weapons mounted in their trunks of vehicles.  If the vehicle had to stay overnight they had to remove the guns.

Something must have changed in his life since I had last saw him.  Six years had passed since our last meeting and when he killed his co-workers and himself. Somehow, in his mind, things twisted beyond his ability to control it.  Nothing his coworkers did could have justified his actions. Somehow in his mind he was justified. Somehow his mind got sick. Tragically he hurt others before taking his own life.

He will always be remembered  as “Going Postal”.

I try to just remember the Pat I knew, not the Crazy Pat everyone knows about.


For the curious here are some links to pages about Pat and his role in the Edmond murders. Some are subjective and more prone to sensationalism.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma Historical Society

 

 

 

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The lack of Amateur Radio utilization during emergencies in South Mississippi.

Posted on June 23, 2017
Filed Under Amateur Radio, Gulf Coast, Rants and Ramblings | Leave a Comment

Use Amateur Radio to improve public safety.

What exactly does Amateur Radio provide to local officials during emergencies that isn’t part of their communication infrastructure?

I live in Jackson County Mississippi.  Sure there are periodic *nets* where we check in….basically saying we’re here…  so what? I am not aware of *any* real coordinated effort to provide communication services to local officials during times of need. Most of those that check in…will be gone during a real emergency. Not that I blame them for that…evacuate if you need. No one wants to sit in a powerless house for two weeks.

In the past Amateurs may have gone (or still plan on going) to a shelter during a hurricane to provide local communications if needed. And that is actually important..

Is that a coordinated effort to meet a need of the local community? Anyone ask them?

But we can do so very much more for the community during these times of need.  And we can do most of them will only moderate cost, but perhaps a higher personal cost-with the payment in coin of dedication.

Perhaps our biggest failing is lack of interest or motivation.

We need to find out the local requirements for communications during these times that are not being met by current infrastructure…AND how we can not only meet those needs, but provide solutions to others when that infra-structure fails. If we can’t deliver on our promise next time we wont be asked..and worse possibly actively shunned.

Not only do we need to offer our services, we need to *demonstrate* to them what we can do. Our ability do do the job anytime, anywhere is paramount.

I think many just visualize Amateur Radio as just passing health and welfare messages from areas of little or no communication or to move that traffic off of existing overloaded infrastructure.  Of some operator sitting hunched over a table with radios and headphones on while  spouting numbers. We can…and should be doing much more and not just during emergencies.

Like what?

Perhaps sending video of specific areas of concern during special events to law enforcement?
Information on flooding in the local area to a central command post? A recently missed opportunity during TS Cindy!
Provide a *real* hi-speed mesh network in the area that doesn’t use the internet. This opens up a HUGE area of abilities we can provide.
Said network could be used to connect shelters, hospitals,Red Cross,EOC’s and much more.  Use different modes. SSB,CW,DIGITAL. Take advantage of the free software to provide these services over Amateur radio links.

Find out local needs and requirements from local officials.  Make them aware of what else we do that amateur radio offers. You might be surprised to find that they can actually USE these services. It’s up to us to show them that these services can be DEPENDED upon to be available.

A benefit to showing what can be done, and convincing others that we are useful is that perhaps local officials will assist amateurs in locating equipment where it will benefit them. Such as repeater locations, mesh network nodes on towers.  If we show them we will help them in public safety…they will help us do that job.

How can YOU help?  Get involved! If no group is available then form a new group, determine what your group can provide and offer your help.  If no one helps… nothing will get done.  Remember the famous quote  by John Lewis – “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Training… There are at least two groups of amateurs nationwide with a sole purpose of Pubic Safety communications. RACES and ARES.

RACES – Certified and registered operators – managed by FEMA. (RACES stations may only communicate with specified stations)

ARES – Licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service. No specific requirements other than being licensed.

During large disasters such as hurricanes… RACES tends to be focused on due to the FEMA involvement.

We do not have to be RACES/ARES affiliated but we do have to be motivated,trained and available to help. More importantly we CAN be of actual help in these situations. We need to know where that help is needed before we can offer it. And we need training and practice to efficiently work with local public safety groups.

The days of sending just a radiogram format message are long gone. In the digital age we can send ANYTHING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field Day –

The ARRL organized Field Day in the last weekend of June is where ALL groups should be publicly demonstrating our abilities.

Many groups just try to score points by making the most contacts – but – this is a great time to show the world what we can do.
But you must:

a) Let the public know you’ll be doing it.
b) Rain or shine… DO IT.  If you can’t setup an operation with weeks of planning because of bad weather, how are you going to do it for real…
And MOST IMPORTANTLY
c)Get non-amateurs involved!!!!!

Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network logoJackson County Amateur Radio Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interfacing the UV5R with a Raspberry PI 3 Echolink-Svxlink

Posted on May 7, 2017
Filed Under Amateur Radio | 11 Comments

Today’s post is about my successfully interfacing a UV5R Baofeng with a Raspberry PI 3 running Svxlink.  Primary use is for an Echolink node connecting to a local repeater.

My primary goal was to NOT use VOX to trigger the push to talk but to use a COS or Carrier Operated Switch.

Svxlink is a powerful software program that can be used as a repeater controller, a simplex link. Supports networked multiple receivers and transmitters. It also has an Echolink module.

Echolink is a popular system that allows two or more nodes to connect over the internet.

I wont discuss the installation or setup of Svxlink as that is covered many times. Svxlink has built in support of the GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) pins  on a Raspberry PI.

During my research time and time again I found reference to a hardware modification for the UV5R where you solder a wire to pin 2 of the audio amplifier in the UV5R.

The final audio amplifier’s supply voltage is removed when no signal is present and supplied when signals are received. This mod which connects to that supply Vcc was fairly easy and can be found here.

However I noticed on the schematic of the UV5R that there is no dc blocking capacitor on output to the speaker and external speaker jack.  The output goes to about 3 volts when the amplifier is enabled. To zero when no signal is received. Why then do I need to open the case?

 

UV5R audio output section

It is not necessary. Note the connection from pin 1 to the external speaker jack. Seems like a poor design to me to keep the internal speaker inline? (I wont go into the point of C158 and R192 in series with ground connect at each end? The schematic *must* be wrong..    At least their is 3 volts on the external speaker output when a signal is present…I can work with that!!

Here is the interface I built which works fine.  It expects the PTT control signal from the GPIO pin to go high (3v) to trigger the ptt output which grounds the PTT line from the UV5R.  And the COS signal to go hi (3v) from the RX when a signal is received. The output will also go hi when is connected to one of the GPIO pins on the Raspberry PI.

I decided to use 2 1:1 isolation transformers for the audio to minimize hum. I also am using two pc817 opto isolators instead of relays for outputs for the COS signal and PTT.

There are three adjustments. RX audio level, TX audio level and the COS/COR threshold. I made that variable so it can be used on other systems if desired.

Audio / digital interface for echolink for UV5R and Raspberry PI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the first version of the circuit.

Completed interface board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main take-away here is NO NEED to MODIFY the UV5R.

This circuit can also be used to interface with a PC serial port *however* you might want to add a diode on the PTT input to prevent rs-232 negative voltages. And you don’t have to use 3.3v unless you are interfacing with logic that requires 3.3v.

I hope this helps some struggling Amateur. Feel free to use/modify etc to suit your purposes.

All parts were ordered on Amazon and the total cost is about $10. Hard to tell as I purchased the parts in lots of 10 or more.

73 WB5HUP

 

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A Glimpse of Reality – Getting rid of the Electoral College

Posted on November 10, 2016
Filed Under America, Rants and Ramblings | Leave a Comment

Trumps successful bid for President has seemingly outraged many voters. Its not uncommon for the supporters of the losing side of an election to feel bitter. However there are yet again, renewed calls to do away with the Electoral College process used in the United States for Presidential elections.

Asserting  a “majority rules” method is more appropriate and represents the will of the people.

They are wrong for a number of reasons which I will eventually describe.

It is a shame. That these young people have no real concept of how and why we have the Electoral process in the first place and how it is an integral part of America’s founding principles. They should be careful what they wish for…. They wouldn’t like the result.

Surely they know that the process is an attempt to proportionally allow representation by the individual States. To keep a few high population areas of the country from dictating policy to a larger yet possibly less populated States.  Which basically means you have to take in account other areas wishes before a successful vote.

It is not often a problem.  Usually, but not always, the Electoral outcome matches the popular vote outcome.

Cries of fairness occur after a mismatch between the two happen.  Such as current events with protests over the 2016 election results.

If the U.S.A wants to have a majority rules election. Then it is no longer the U.S.A.  It becomes the “States with the most people” control all the others.  And that soon becomes “Taxation without Representation“.

When that happens, people end up dying.  *In large numbers.*
That is one of the MAJOR reasons the United States came into existence.

I’m not kidding here folks.

A simple majority method change would begin a shifting of our system toward a one government, one state; And that is a very bad idea. That is why it is in the Constitution, Article II and the 12th Amendment.  To change it you have to modify the constitution again and while your at it might as well change or remove the 10th Amendment.

Young people today (I feel) just don’t understand why things are done certain archaic ways. If they are taught history at all its skimmed over. Briefly.  They aren’t taught *why* some things occurred. Or they get fed information in college by liberal “professors” that feel the United States should change its government.

Population of US 2003 Britannica.com

Population of US 2003 Britannica.com

Thankfully amending the Constitution is difficult needing three quarters of the States to ratify the change. Not going to happen folks…

The small states (small in population) if they are smart are NOT going to let it happen. Basically if you look at this map, the areas in purple could control every election despite how the other states feel. That is no representation.

Well if they are smart the States wont let this be ratified.  You never know nowadays.

 

Perhaps the losers should have tried to convince more people their candidate was the best one.

Something to ponder…

 

 

 

 

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VOA Radiogram digital test broadcast 23 OCT 2016

Posted on October 22, 2016
Filed Under Amateur Radio | Leave a Comment

I received the test broadcast from VOA on 5745 khz. I have uploaded the audio file here. (30 mb). Right click to save it on your computer…

The broadcast starts about 1:30 seconds into the file. It is a .wav file and can be read directly by fldigi. (since it was made by fldigi).

It is encoded in mfsk 32.

Embedded were a few pictures see below.

I wont include the text here.

The audio file can be used to test your setup.

 

pic_2016-10-23_025736z pic_2016-10-23_025530z pic_2016-10-23_025140z pic_2016-10-23_024716z pic_2016-10-23_024102z

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