All posts by Jeff B.

Raspberry Pi


I like Raspberry Pi.  Right now I’m not talking about the Linzer Torte variety, but the single, credit card sized computer running a version of Linux.

Why Pi?

My interest was piqued by an article in the  American Radio Relay League’s QST— the magazine for amateur radio enthusiasts.  I’ve been suffering from poor hearing for several years now, so my ability to copy Morse Code is severely impaired.  Our location in downtown Chicago and no place to erect an antenna limits what I can do with a radio.  As a result I’m pretty much limited by either operating portable in a park or using a number of digital technologies that are only possible with computer control.

Raspberry Pi is a Real Computer

This credit card sized computer is the brainchild of The Raspberry Pi Organization in the United Kingdom.  It runs the Linux operating system, which means plenty of options and programming resources are available.

Board for the Raspberry Pi computer, Model 2.
Board for the Raspberry Pi computer, Model 2.

Notice 4 USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, and interface options.  I won’t bore you with the details but only say this is one “fun” device for a technology hobbyist like myself.  I’m looking forward to learning about the Raspberry Pi this Winter.

National Parks on the Air – NPOTA

I’ve been a licensed amateur radio operator (KB9CZ) for many years, but for the last 20 years have been inactive except for a few occasional times using a small hand held radio for local contacts.  I’d like to get back in the hobby but the interference at our condo pretty much eliminates that option.  The solution may be a portable location, i.e. operating at a temporary site where conditions are more favorable.  I did it once at my son’s home in Douglasville, GA.

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national trade association for hams like myself.  They sponsor a number of contests where operators try to make contacts under certain controlled conditions such as a particular time period, frequency of transmission, location, etc.  Beginning January 1, 2016 there is a one-year contest to celebrate the National Park Service.  Operators will set up at one or more designated National Park locations and other hams will try to contact as many locations possible.

I think I’ve now got the incentive to construct a portable station that can be set up in a park or forest preserve.  One of the National Parks locations is the Marquette and Joliet portage park just west of theCity — a location I’ve been to many times in my I&M Canal explorations.

More to follow …

Good Cop

Good Cop, Bad Mayor?
Who’s the villain here?

Years ago I served on the Board of Trustees for a village on the North Shore.  One of our duties was to hire a new Chief of Police.  The process allowed us to spend some time with the final candidate and learn a few things about law enforcement work.

Serve and Protect, or?

The new Chief mentioned that not everyone who wants to become a police officer is necessarily motivated by the desire to serve and protect.  Some, he confided, are attracted by confrontation and the potential for violence that often comes along with the job.  We suspected that one of the current force fell into that category.  Because of union contractual rules, it took over a year to dismiss this one officer.  Our situation was one small microcosm of the City of Chicago.

Too Much Ingrained Inertia

It is unrealistic to think that one person, even at the top of the chain, can change the entrenched interests within the Chicago Police Department in a few years, let alone overnight.  I’m all for the expression of concerns and am disappointed by the continuous unraveling of fact after fact in these latest cases, but to take out the frustrations on one or two individuals is not going to solve the problems. It merely drops them into someone else’s lap.

Back to Square One

McCarthy handled many potential situations admirably and deserved our support.  Now it’s start all over again.  In my opinion McCarthy is one fine copper.  I’ll miss him.

The Glengoyne Distillery

On a recent trip to Scotland I had the opportunity to take a trip to the Glengoyne Distillery.  Here are a few photos from that trip along with comments.

Getting There

Image 1 of 8

Cruise ships dock in Greenock since they cannot navigate the River Clyde all the way east to Glasgow. The nearest bridge is east and the bus driver took a circuitous route to avoid Glasgow traffic, pass historic sites (Mary Queen of Scots castle) and view scenery. There was a stop at Loch Lomond and then on to the Glengoyne Distillery, founded in 1833, via a very narrow road.