New Radio (UV-5X3)

I bought a BTECH UV-5X3 radio this week. As the name might suggest, it is a five-watt radio that works three bands: 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm.  It is Chirp compatible, allowing me to condense the programming from my two radios that cover these three bands into one radio.

While programming the radio, I decided to add more repeaters. I have become entertained with the proximity search on the mobile app. With this, I can pick the repeaters to add to the radio in order of their distance from the house. I’m eager to try this program out when I’m away from the house, as well. It would be nice not to need to program the radio each time that I go to another place.

There were some things that I wish were better in the experience. For example, If you buy a 5X3, get the tri-band antenna accessory. Having to switch antennas, only because you’ve changed the channel, isn’t a great customer experience. Likewise, the proximity search works on the website. BUT… if you export the list to a Chirp file, the site doesn’t respect the “sort by distance” parameter, leaving you with the right repeaters, in the wrong order.

Still, I’m looking forward to making this radio my primary handheld radio for events and regular use.

Lacking Internet Connection….

It wasn’t too long ago that the Washington State Ferries got rid of their WiFi program with their partner, Boingo. Boingo wasn’t that great, but at least they worked in the terminal and when the ferry was docked. Without WiFi, my devices are a lot worse.

You might think, “well, just do something offline.” This is not so easy. Most apps are paying for themselves by offering in-app purchases. To keep you from accessing their apps without having to buy items, they won’t boot the application without connectivity.

Other apps are free, but I only use them offline. They only verify that they’re still free when I open them. Since I only open them when I don’t have connectivity, I usually can’t open them because the last time I opened them, was so long ago that the license refresh has expired. There’s got to be a better way for the device to keep track of which apps are licensed and which aren’t. If they wanted extra points, they could give me a mechanism outside the app where I could see which licenses need to be renewed and do it from the app. Even better, only show me when they need to disappear or have me buy them. Just renew the free license without me being involved.

The instance that got me going was an office suite that I bought. I bring it up on my tablet, and it tells me that it won’t work because it can’t reach the server to validate my license. It should only need to check once, like, when I buy it. After that, they shouldn’t get in the customer’s way. After all, I buy apps that run offline, so that I can run them offline.

One thing that I really like is the 4G modem on my HP Chromebook. Not only does it give me the internet in places without  WiFi, but it also gets a signal for 90% of the ride across the Puget Sound, which is about 80% more than Boingo. I carry that on most days. And, today, I realize why.

Exploring the Peninsula 

Kelley and I went driving on Sunday. This was my second trip in three weekends. I take these rides so that we can explore the Olympic Peninsula and surrounding area. Seeing that we’ve lived on the island for 3 years now, it is about time that we see all the cool things in the area.

What we found, was more stuff to go back and see. On this ride, we drove out to Aberdeen. We passed the Rodeo Drive-in Movies, a pretty cool looking paintball course, a disc golf course, and a retired nuclear power plant at Satsop (which appears to offer guided tours, if you call ahead).

When we arrived in Aberdeen, we stopped at a Starbucks and had a couple of drinks while we talked. I plotted out the course around the 101 loop, but it was too late to take the six-hour drive around the northern part of the highway. We decided to do that another time. While looking at the route, I noticed a hotel on the map, the Quinault Lodge, which looks really cool. This, too, will be an excellent destination for another time.

I’m planning to do a few more of these trips. There’s a lot to see in this area. Most of it is just the natural beauty of the undeveloped countryside. It’s a good way to spend time.