From the archives

On a gloomy day in the fall of 2010, the database of this blog decided it was enough. It coughed, rolled over and never got up again. And that was pretty much the end of it…

Until today

Today I learned the good people of http://archive.org keep track of all the sites on the world wide web. And they do a very good job! I was able to salvage most of my old articles with little effort. I’ve marked the recovered articles so you’ll be able to tell what’s new and what’s old.

Anyway, I’m happy. Hope you enjoy!

Predicting HF propagation conditions using Solar-Terrestrial data

This article was originally posted on September 6, 2010.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does a tremendous job collection huge amounts of solar data each and every day. They measure A- and K-index, Solar Flux index, X-Rays, Proton and Electron flux, and more, many times per day. All these variables tell us something about how well HF radio waves are able to travel through our beloved atmosphere. Putting all these variables together allows us to predict pretty well when is a good time to call CQ to our good friends elsewhere on the globe.

And that is what the new RigReference.com Solar widget does. It takes all the variables and computes them into a pleasantly looking graph. I believe it hasn’t been easier to tell which bands are open and which are closed:

 

How to use?

The widget uses 3 clear colors to indicate conditions: green (good), yellow (fair) and red (poor). Day and night conditions have their own bar.

Placing the widget on your own site is simple. Go to http://rigreference.com/solar, copy the supplied code and paste it into your site. Additional instructions can also be found on above mentioned page.

What’s next?

I intend to create different layouts and more user controlled parameters (colors, sizes) in the near future. Updates will be posted on this blog.

It goes without saying that suggestions, remarks and error reports are most welcome! You can leave them at http://rigreference.com/pages/contact, or as comments at the bottom of this page.

Weren’t there already widgets like this?

Yes. Some are even quite good. I created this widget for 3 reasons: 1) I like the mental challenge, 2) I didn’t like the looks of the other widgets and 3) most other widgets use ancient web technology (ie. tables) with poor control over colors and layout.

One final word of warning. The widget is currently in the beta stages of testing. There may be some flaws and the implementation may be changed without prior notice. Please watch this blog or http://rigreference.com/solar for updates.

The small things in life (or how apple butter is related to ham radio)

This article was originally posted on September 5, 2010.

It’s often the small things in life that make all the difference. The other day I saw my wife print a recipe for apple butter from a web site. She thoughtlessly clicked on the ‘Print this page’ button and a nicely layed out page rolled out the printer. Now I am aware that apple butter has very little direct ties with ham radio, although both make life just that bit more enjoyable.

But the above example illustrates very nicely how a small feature can make a huge difference in the user experience of a web site. I imagine not very many people will print rig specifications, but for those that do it should be an easy and straight forward action. Just like printing a recipe. That’s why every rig specs page now has a print button. Clicking it will open a new window which has been optimized for printing. Background colors have been removed, as have ads to save precious printer ink.

And so it is thanks to apple butter that RigReference.com is a little better than it was. I hope and expect you will all enjoy and love this nifty little addition.

New feature: Price History

This article was originally posted on June 2, 2010.

You see an add for that old boat-anchor you always wanted, or you have this old rig you want to sell but you have now idea what price might be reasonable to pay or ask. You could do some searching on eBay to find similar rigs, but this only gives very limited information. Or you could visit RigReference.com and mail the webmaster asking him what price might be reasonable. In fact, I receive several of these kind of mails every week.

But now there is a third option: RigReference Price History.

Our new Price History feature allows visitors to enter what they paid for a rig, and when they did so. These prices are then aggregated into a graph displaying the price history over the years. This finally gives a dependable, real-world insight into what is being paid for a specific rig and you can now make a reasonable estimate of your favorite radio’s value.

Lets see an example, here’s the Price History of the ICOM IC-718:

As you see prices can fluctuate over the years. If prices are entered in different currencies, then multiple lines will show up in the graph.

Pretty neat, isn’t it?!

One last thing. Price History can only work if enough people enter data. You are therefore invited to find your rigs and enter what you paid for them in the past.

73, PH5E – Elmer

Most popular amateur radio brands

This article was originally posted on March 2, 2010.

What is the most popular amateur radio brand of all times? I cannot give a final answer to this question. Every person has his or her own favorite. But I can give some statistics from my site.

Based on visitor statistics of the past 6 months Yaesu is the most viewed brand on RigReference.com, followed by ICOM and Kenwood. This is totally no surprise as these big 3 have dominated the amateur radio market for the past decades. Fourth in line comes RadioShack, followed by Alinco. Alinco probably scores pretty good based on the fact that they appear close to the top of the page. RadioShack scores well based on the number of radios they have offered over the years is my guess.

The valve radios are still going strong, in the boat anchor category Collins is number 6 in this list. Heathkit and Hallicrafters make it to 8th and 9th, which is exceptionally good considering they haven’t produced any radio in decades.

Another surprise, to me, is Ten-Tec. I wouldn’t have thought they were that popular. But obviously quite some people care for them.

The complete chart:

  1. Yaesu
  2. ICOM
  3. Kenwood
  4. RadioShack
  5. Alinco
  6. Collins
  7. Drake
  8. Heathkit
  9. Hallicrafters
  10. Ten-Tec

And finally, the ‘honor’ of being the least viewed brand on RigReference goes to Santec (sorry guys).

What’s your favorite brand? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!

Website performance problems fixed

This article was originally posted on March 1, 2010.

As some of you might have noticed, RigReference.com was not too fast the last few weeks – too put it mildly. The main problem was the server responsible for handling media requests and ad placements.

We have now solved the problem by transferring portions of this server to different machine. Hopefully this will ensure a quick response of the site in the future. If you experience any more problems, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Update, March 2nd:
Some additional tweaking has improved the performance of the various manufacturers pages considerably. Some may load twice as fast as before. I’m happy now :)