Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas, 2011...

Mother Nature cooperated by providing near 70 degree weather for our Christmas 2011 in Murrieta!

While the individual families had their Christmas gift exchange on Christmas eve or early Christmas day, we all gathered at our home in Murrieta to celebrate, open gifts and enjoy a wonderful dinner.

Families attending this year included the Cordray's from Murrieta, the Davis' clan from Hemet and the Duffy's from Riverside. Altogether it was a pretty large group. The dinner was a potluck affair, with plenty of great left-overs to be taken home.

In the photo above Steve, Kayla, Haylie, Kristopher, Colston and Quinton show off their new bathrobes from the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas -- courtesy of our son Matthew. What a fun gift!

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 CQWW DX Contest...

After a wonderful Thanksgiving (see post below), I participated in the 2011 CQWW DX contest.

This is a contest where ham radio stations from all over the world try to contact each other. It's held the 4th weekend of November, which is usually right after Thanksgiving.

I've operated in most of these DX contests over the past 15-20 years. This is the first year that I decided to do a "single band" entry, instead of working on all 6 ham bands.

As the chart shows, I contacted 144 stations in 72 different countries and 29 Zones on 10 meters (28mc). The world is divided into 40 ham radio zones, so working 29 of them on a single band is pretty good.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Time is Near...

A busy week for the Albrant family in Murrieta...

On Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

Everyone brought an appetizer, which included bacon wrapped shrimp, meatballs and gravy, a cheese/meat and cracker plate, Robbins famous cream cheese with Raspberry topping, plus lots of other good eats!

Instead of turkey for the main course we opted instead for a giant Rib Roast, served with all the trimmings.

Daughters Carrie Renee and Kristen came with their families, plus Robbin's sister Patty and her son Kelly and his family also attended. It was nice to have everyone here for most of the day and well into the evening! Daughter Carrie Ann and sons Bill Jr. and Matthew couldn't make it (Bill Jr. and his family were in Palmer, Alaska while Matthew and a friend went to Las Vegas to celebrate his birthday).

Kelly was the designated chef this year so I was pretty much standing around looking for something to do. Forgot to take any pictures :O(

The day after Thanksgiving I burned off some calories and put up the Christmas tree while Robbin started decorating throughout the house.

We wish you all Happy Holidays and good fortune in the coming year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

T2T, Tuvalu Island... Another Ham Radio Expedition...

During the past week I've been working T2T, a ham radio expedition to Tuvalu Island, out in the Pacific. They're pretty easy to work from my California location.

Tuvalu Island may disappear! It is only a few feet above sea level. Recent events indicate that Global Warming is causing the sea level to rise and, at some point, the island may actually disappear. Also, the ham operators are reporting there is a very serious fresh water shortage, which is another issue facing this very small country.

The video above was shot by BYU and shows some of the beauty, and some of the problems, this island and it's people are facing. It's worth watching!

Here is a chart showing the bands I've worked them on so far. I added 10 meters today and expect to work them on 30 and 40 meters -- if they don't go underwater first!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TX7M DXpedition to Marquesas Islands Worked

TX7M is the callsign of another big ham radio dx-pedition, this one going to the Marquesas Islands, out in the Pacific Ocean near Tahiti. I've worked them on 8 bands (see chart at right) using CW (morse code).

This is a major effort is being put on by a group of Russian radio operators.
In recent years it's been difficult to work foreign stations on the higher bands (10, 12 and 15 meters) due to a lack of sunspots. With the 11 year solar cycle coming into full bloom, these bands are now open and stations all over the world can be contacted.

The photo shows one of their antennas used on the 10 meter band hanging from some palm trees.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

T32C, Kiritimati Island Worked On 8 Bands!

Below is a chart showing contacts I made with T32C during the past week.This is an Amateur Radio DXpedition to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Northern Line Islands, a part of the Republic of Kiribati.

The chart is from their on-line log, which they uploaded daily, and shows I worked them on 8 bands using CW (morse code). The only band I have not worked them on is 160m because I don't have an antenna for that band.

This was a HUGE operation, with 15 stations set up and 41 operators participating, mostly Europeans. The map above shows the island. They located their stations at the top right part of the island.

Christmas Island is a very isolated, but interesting place.

Here's a link to Wikipedia with more information:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Scan, Scan, Scan!

Earlier this month Robbin and I started scanning photos from our old photo albums.

I had no idea we had so many pictures! So far we've completed 11 albums, with a total of 2,141 photos!

Many of the photos need "work", so after we get the scanning done, we use PhotoShop to correct color, remove "uggies" (blemishes), crop and do whatever we can to make them as good as possible.

There are companies that do photo scanning, at a price of about 28 cents per picture. That doesn't include any kind of corrections or adjustments. So far that would have cost us $599.48. It's more work -- and time -- to do it ourselves, but the results are worth it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Worth A Look...

Click on the link below:

Advice to live by

Everyone wishes they could go back in time knowing what they know now. Since that's not possible, the next best thing is to listen to advice from those that have been there ...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Last Frontier!

We're home at last... after 17 hours of travel on the return flights! Our plane from Ketchikan was delayed by several hours due to bad weather in Juneau, which means we missed the early flight from Seattle to Ontario. Arrived home at 1 am!

Would we do it again? Absolutely!!!

Our visit with Bill, Becca and the kids was awesome! And Bill is a fantastic chef (who knew?). He prepared his soon-to-be famous Curry Chicken, and we even managed to snag the recipe for the glaze. Thanks Bill!

Becca had a welcome basket waiting for us, with towels, newspaper and flyers on things to do in the area. It was our first time seeing Liam in person. What a cutie he is. The girls were equally fun to be with.

Our hosts took us to visit downtown, then out south of town to see a group of bears out in the wild! Another trip with Becca took us to the far north of town to Settlers Cove, which is a beautiful camping area.

During our visit several people asked about the original "Ketchikan" hoodies Robbin and I were wearing (shown in the top photo). We proudly told them that Becca was the designer, and had them available for sale. Luckily we got ours before she was sold out!

The Ketchikan area is absolutely beautiful with lots of forest and wide open spaces. We have a DVD with many pictures and lots of video. If you're interested, let me know. Here are a few photos from our trip to Alaska.

Photos include "bath night" for Liam; Becca with wild huckleberries in the forest; Bill with Liam at the library; Artwork by Becca on display at a local gallery. We also got some great video on our trip and I'll be making a DVD for our memory collection.

Here's a link to all the photos on PhotoBucket: KETCHIKAN

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Visiting Bill & Becca

Here are some random shots from our visit with Bill, Becca, Bailey, Bristol and Liam. You can click on any of them to enlarge the photo. We leave for home tomorrow.

Invasion of Ketchikan?

Seems the cruise lines have figured out a way to increase their share of the business along their routes. We learned that most of those cute little shops right along the waterfront are actually owned (or in partnership) with the cruise lines!

In other words, the original Ketchikan wasn't "authentic" enough, so they've created a town that the cruise lines feel is more appealing to the tourist crowd!

Now, this doesn't make the authentic "local" shops happy, as they are open all year round and pretty much are the same as they've been for the past 100 or so years.

Photo at right shows a big cruise ship dominating one end of town (there were 4 big ships in port when this was taken), while the sign on an "original" business (below) gives their viewpoint.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Family Tree Project

I could never imagine when starting this Family Tree Project just how involved things were to become.

Robbin and I have been working on this for the past couple of weeks, and there's still quite a bit of work yet to accomplish.

I went on-line to see if there are already Family Tree templates we could use (ie:, and others). They're all pretty much a straight line to direct ancestors.

Of course, with our group (and the fact that we are combining the O'Flaherty and Albrant trees) we wanted a way to include everyone -- step mothers, step fathers, step brothers and sisters, 2nd marriages, etc. -- and not just by strict "blood lines".

Fortunately our son Matthew was able to set us up with Visio, a drafting program from Microsoft, that allows us to create exactly what we want. Ergo, the tree shown here is the current status of what we have (click on it for a bigger image then click the "+" sign for an even bigger image).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Blog Has Been Busy!

For some (unexplained) reason, the K6CU website has been drawing a lot of visitors lately. Just this past week there have been 178 visitors, from all over the world, from Tahiti to Turkey!

As you can see on the map (at right), the little dots show the various areas where the last 100 visitors have clicked on to my Blog.

Hmmm... would a $1 "donation" per visit be out of line?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

50 Years of Field Day...

This weekend I participated in the 2011 ARRL Field Day event. This is an event to test the emergency radio abilities of stations across the country.

My score this year was 20% better than last year, which is pleasing!

The station is a 1970's model HW-8 transceiver that runs on battery power. It puts out 4 watts, which is about the same as a night light bulb!

I worked stations across the country -- 101 in total -- all the way from the east coast to Hawaii and Alaska.

The picture at left is from my Field Day effort back in 1961 -- 50 years ago! That station was set up in a tent in our backyard.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Ballet...

Yesterday evening Robbin and I attended the San Ellijo Dance ballet presentation at the Poway Center for Performing Arts. What a special evening it was, too. These little ballerinas will steal your hearts... they're so precious!

Granddaughter Chloe, who is almost 4 years old, was one of the "Buttercups" and did a great job. She's pictured in the photos at top, and 2nd from the left in the bottom right photo.

To quote our daughter Carrie Ann, who said it best: "They were so brave. All eleven of them. Hands locked in a little human chain, in the dark, with no idea what was going on. Not a tear. No cries for Mom or Dad. Just wide eyed and brave little ballerinas. It was precious and I am so proud of them".

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Time To Graduate!

We've had a flurry of graduations this last week or so.

First off, we attended the graduation of our granddaughter Miss Kayla Guerin from Ramona High School in Riverside (pictured here with her mom, Kristen). Kayla was also one of the singers in the presentation. Afterwards we all enjoyed Pizza.

Then, on Tuesday June 7th, we attended the graduation (called a "promotion") event for grandchildren Colston and Haylie. (pictured at left) from Thompson Middle School in Murrieta. A large group of us ended up at Sizzler for dinner after the ceremonies.

Congratulations to all the smart kids in our family who graduated this year!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

DXCC Honor Roll?

Today I received an email from Hans, PJ4LS in the Netherland Antillies, that he will be confirming our 40 meter CW qso from April 10th.

This will be my 311th confirmed country for DXCC, and should put me on the Honor Roll!

I had mailed a card to him about a month ago, along with $5 to cover postage, which he never received.

Via email, Hans told me he would send out a card confirming our contact, and pay the postage for me! What a great guy. Thanks Hans!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Free Lunch!

Today I celebrated 15 years of working with WG Holdsworth & Associates and Iron Works magazine as the west coast ad rep, and got a free lunch to boot!

In the photo (left to right) Marcy and Wally Holdsworth, Robbin and I celebrated with a great BBQ lunch at the Dos Lagos center. Our food server even brought out a free chocolate sundae to make it more special.

It was great fun talking about our families, and all the interesting people we've met along the way!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Renovation Update...

At long last we have our bathroom renovation completed. Here are couple of shots of the new granite shower and sink areas. We also replaced the ugly "builders" mirror with a great deal that Robbin found on some wood framed mirrors, plus new sinks and brushed nickle hardware throughout.

Taking showers now is almost like being in a fancy spa!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bathroom Destroyed!

Well, temporarily "destroyed"...

Our master bathroom is being renovated, and this is what it looks like after all the old walls and fixtures have been removed.

In its place they are installing new granite walls and floor for the shower and trim areas. So far they have the two big walls covered but there's a lot of work yet to be done, including the sink area which will be all new.

As soon as the dust settles I'll post a picture of the completed project.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Day at the Beach...

On Sunday, April 17, we spent most of the day visiting daughter Carrie and her husband Kelly in Carlsbad. Along with their daughters, Chloe and Ava, we all headed over to the beach which is just a short drive from their home. Beautiful weather and we parked right next to the beach! What a great way to start off a new summer season.

Above, our little miss Ava tries on some cool "shades", while below daddy Kelly and grandma Robbin play in the sand with the girls.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grab a brush and paint!

As you can see in the above photo, we're right in the middle of having the house painted. The upper floors in the photo are the "new" paint while the front of the garage is the original paint scheme.

Must say it looks a lot better. The beige with brown trim is much richer looking than that old "pinkish" hue we had.

Hopefully they'll be done with this job by Monday and we can get back to normal -- whatever that is! Or at least until the next project comes along :>)

Monday, March 21, 2011

EP2MKO Card Received...

In the mail today I received a QSL (confirmation) card from EP2MKO, a station I worked in Iran. It's not often you can work a station in Iran, and even more difficult to get a confirmation.

This contact took place several years ago, and I had sent a request (my own card) but never received a reply. Recently I found a new updated email address for the operator -- a Russian who was operating from Iran -- and re-sent my request to him.

I have sent a QSL to PJ4LS in the Netherland Antillies for our recent contact, which will be country #311 for me, and put K6CU on the DXCC Honor Roll!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The ARRL DX Contest...

Just about every year I enter the ARRL DX Contest. This is a contest where stations all over the world work North American stations. Even though my score and station is nothing like the "big guns", it is still a blast to work hams from many foreign countries.

This year my score was 97,605. The chart at right shows how many countries (DXC) I worked on each band.

My contacts included stations from all continents. One station, ZF2AM in the Cayman Islands, was worked on all bands from 80 through 10 meters!

Total operating time was about 12 hours out of the 48 hour contest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yaesu FT-950 On The Air...

Well, I finally broke down and upgraded the old ham radio station here at K6CU. Pictured above is the new radio, a Yaesu FT-950, that arrived today.

The previous radio, a Kenwood TS-850s, is excellent, but there were some new features available on the FT-950 that I wanted to play with.

It's amazing how much progress has been made in the past few years. The new radio is all "digital", with dozens of options (some of which I wasn't even aware of) and many features that have come along recently. If any new changes/improvements are made, they can be downloaded from the Yaesu website and the firmware can be updated from my computer. Amazing!

UPDATE: First contact with the new radio was S9DX on 40 meters cw. S9DX is Sao Tome, and island group just off the west coast of Africa.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Early Morning at the Swapmeet...

Good Morning!
It's 6:30 am on Saturday, and the Chino Hills Electronic Swapmeet is already a busy place as folks set up their tables and displays.

I was there, along with Jan Perkins (N6AW) who graciously provided the booth space and his pickup truck as a display table. I was able to sell off everything I brought... hooray!

The Swapmeet is held on the 3rd Saturday of the month, and has become kind of a ritual for me.

Above is a photo of Jan trying to entice a customer. Other pictures show a table full of laptop computers, and a nice Hallicrafters SX-28 that sold right away for $450 cash! Started primarily for ham radio, the swap has evolved over the years and now has a lot of computer and high tech stuff on the tables.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A View of K6CU...

A short video showing K6CU monitoring 40 meters. The transceiver is a Kenwood TS-850Sat. The small green radio on top of it is a 1970's Heathkit HW-8, a low power transceiver that runs off a 12 volt battery and a solar cell. Normally I use morse code (cw) and not phone (ssb) mode.