Sunday, November 11, 2018

100 Years Ago

The guns of WWI fell silent 100 years ago. God willing that we never see conflict like that again - there's a reason why secular pacifism came into existence after WWI.
It was a war with horrific military casualties - casualties really only exceeded by WWII - and even more horrific civilian casualties - including no less than three separate genocides committed by the Ottoman Turks.
But in this uncertain world, there is really only one thing that I'm sure of: War will come, and the American Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman. So thank a veteran this armistice day - and remember, even those who just fixed diesel engines or radios faced the possibility of doing that in a war zone.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Midland Syntech I, XTR, and II Radios

I have a few old Midland Syntech radios. These are truly nice radios. Tough, dependable, and difficult to kill. There are, admittedly, some downsides - programming the Syntech I line requires a special programmer, and the XTRs and IIs require DOS (or a pre-XP version of Windows) a special programming cable and a serial port. They're also rather short on features compared to most modern radios, may require physical tuning in order to operate in ham bands, and have all the convenience and ergonomics of a pile of bricks, although they're not as bad as the GE Delta/Rangrs are. But they WORK, and what few parts aren't available from an electronics hobby store can fairly easily be acquired from a very inexpensive parts radio. In fact, if you acquire two or three parts radios, you can use them to make one or two (depending on how many, and which parts have gone bad) fully functional radios. I have, in fact done this twice (note: XTR control heads are fully interchangeable).
For an entry level Ham, these are the perfect radio: They can be acquired cheap or free. Getting them programmed, modded, and repaired for ham use is valuable experience (and can be fun, if you like tinkering). And finally, these 25-35 year old radios are tough enough that it won't be hard to make them last another 25-35 years - something that certainly can't be said about many of the newer amateur and commercial radios available.

Effective Gun Control

If you have a drill, a hacksaw, and $30-$40 of hardware, you can make a single shot pistol. It doesn't even require any specialized knowledge. For additional $20-$30 and a moderate amount of knowledge, you can make an (admittedly low quality) open bolt SMG.
And of course, this is buying that hardware in US stores. In Brazil or the Philippines, there are entire illicit industries devoted to making firearms of varying quality.
In the end, implementing effective gun requires two things:
1. Killing off everyone who has enough knowledge to make a gun on their own.
2. Destroying all the tooling and hardware usable for making a gun.
And then, after we've returned to the stone age because we destroyed all our industry and killed everyone who had the knowledge to rebuild, we'll finally be free of the firearms menace.