Nintendo Poké Ball Plus

Nintendo Poké Ball Plus

The Nintendo Poké Ball Plus is a controller that can be used with
Pokémon Go on your cellphone and some Pokémon games that run on the Nintendo Switch platform. I don’t have a Nintendo Switch but I did recently purchase one to use while playing on my cellphone. I bought the stand alone version although it’s also sold in bundles with the software for the Switch and together with the Switch and game.

To use it with your cellphone while playing Pokémon Go just requires you charge it’s internal battery, and then pair it with bluetooth to your cellphone. Once you do that it will automatically spin Pokéstops and Gyms to collect items into your backpack. I find this particularly helpful when I am driving and can’t be playing a distracting game on my phone at the same time.

It also has the ability to try and capture Pokémon for you but you have to press the red button on the top of the ball in order to trigger this action once it’s notified you that there’s one near by. Notifications and confirmations happen with vibration, color flashes around the white joystick, and on screen messages and noises in the game application.

I started playing this game back in 2016 and wrote a blog post then wondering if it was going to just a be a fad or stick around for a while. Looks like it has stick around since 3 years is a long time for a mobile game to remain popular. I played up until around level 13 and then started losing interest. My next post about it was in 2017 when I saw how daily streaks were added to promote regular play and boost your scores. I continued to play off and on up to about level 19 and eventually my cellphone’s diminished battery life caused me to cease playing.

With the recent purchase of a new cellphone I started playing again and have found it to motivate me to get out of the house and do some walking around which is good for me. I’ve learned more about gym battles and leveling up my trainer. This controller has made it easier for me to keep a supply of items in my backpack for playing and I like that. I’m up to level 23 now and playing everyday.

Google Pixel 3 Fabric Phone Case

Google Pixel 3 Fabric Phone Case

I bought a Google Pixel 3 Fabric Phone Case for my phone while I was at Best Buy recently. They had a nice little end cap display of the Pixel phones and accessories and it was too temping to get it right away versus waiting for a case to be ordered online and shipped.

$40 seems like a hell of a lot of money for just a little bit of plastic covered with fabric but I know I’d be cursing up a storm if I were to have not bought a case that day and then dropped and damaged by brand new phone soon after,

After slipping my cellphone inside I must say that I like the feel of fabric in my hand. I went with the Indigo color and I think it’s not going to show any soiling from long term use. The slight amount of width and the extra grip it adds over carrying the phone around without a case makes me feel a lot more secure about not dropping my phone. I have not had a problem slipping it into or taking it out of my pockets.

So far I like the case but think it should only have been $25 I see on Amazon the Carbon covered case is on sale for $31 at the time of this writing.

Making amateur radio contacts from a van in Florida during the New England QSO Party

It’s not been that long since I was began operating amateur radio equipment from my van and I’m still working out ways to make it better.

This past weekend there was a ham radio contest involving stations located in the New England states and those outside the area. I decided to try and make some contacts from my van parked in Florida during the New England QSO Party.

Amateur Radio equipment setup inside a van

Using an antenna on the top of my van, and ham radio equipment setup on a folding table inside the back of the van I attempted to make contacts with other amateur radio operators. I’ve decided not to permanently install radios or furniture in the rear of my cargo van so as to mitigate theft concerns and also to allow for maximum flexibility in how I use it.

The photo above shows an Icom IC-7100 transceiver being used with an LDG AT100ProII automatic antenna tuner. Down on the floor of the van there’s a Powerwerx battery box containing a Bioenno Power LFP battery for use as a power source. There’s a small Renogy LED light sitting on top of the tuner but it’s not being used at the time of the photo.

During the contest I made 3 contacts with stations in New England using the microphone of my radio to send the sound of my voice. This mode is called Phone in general and I was specifically using single sideband (SSB). The photo above shows the radio set to 7.248 MHz which is in the 40 meter amateur band but the contacts I made were using the 20 meter amateur band. 2 stations were in Rhode Island and 1 was in New Hampshire.

Three contacts isn’t that good of a result even for only a short time of operating. I also wanted to try a different mode of operating that uses a computer attached to my amateur radio station to generate a signal for transmission and to also decode the signals from other stations that I can receive.

A notebook PC setup for logging ham contacts

I had placed a notebook PC on the table in the back of my van and was using it for logging the contacts I made into the N1MM+ software application. While some ham operators prefer to use pencil and paper for logging most have been using computers in recent times.

On this same PC I have installed a program called WSJT-X which is an application that allows for amateur radio operators to use a variety of digital modes to contact others. I ran this program using a mode called FT8 and was able to contact a number of stations including those in the states of Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, North Dakota, and Montana. I also contacted stations in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Ecuador.

In the photo above you can see the black and red colored Renology LED light and powerbank that is connected to the small fan on the table below it. This does a good job of lighting my keyboard and moving some air around inside the van if I have the windows covered and the doors shut. I also have a number of spare bungee cords hanging up in the back in case I need them.

Making contacts using some radio frequencies requires reflecting the signals off upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere and having them return to the surface at a distant location. This mechanism is influenced by Space Weather. Here’s to hoping for better conditions tomorrow.