Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One of my legion projects.

In 2019 The American Legion will turn 100 years old. The "Centennial Celebration" is in the planning phase right now. Part of the celebration is to have Legion posts document their post history online.
So as the Corvallis American Legion Post #91's historian I have started working on getting Post #91's history online.

Here is my work in progress:


Please take some time and check out this website.

Thank you,


Doug Mason

Monday, March 30, 2015


I’ve done a lot of bikepacking in my day. I’ve ridden the endless dirt roads of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route where covering 100-plus miles per day was no big deal. I’ve done days on the Continental Divide Trail where a dawn to dusk effort yielded 19 miles. I’ve ridden the sands of the Stagecoach 400, climbed over the endless downed trees of the Dixie 200, the rocks of the AZT 300, and the endless, high-altitude climbs of the Colorado Trail.
I’ve often posed the question of: What makes a good bikepacking route? What would a perfect one entail? While everyone has different priorities, I’d like to make a case for mine, and why the figure-eight ‘Ice Cream Loop’ version of the Gila River Ramble, set in the Gila Canyons southeast of Phoenix, along the Arizona Trail, is as close to perfection as a route can get…at least in the month of March.
  1. Length
Long bikepacks require a lot of planning. Short ones may not be worth the drive. At a nice 100 miles, the Gila River Ramble Ice Cream Loop (GRR-ICL) can be done as a fairly straightforward two-and-a-half-day-er. Leave work early Friday, ride for a few hours from the semi-town of Kelvin along the Arizona Trail following the Gila River, and set up camp either at a conveniently located water seep for a wet camp or a little farther up the trail. The trail is straightforward, short climbs, short descents, and boasts a high enjoyment factor for the effort needed, especially if there’s a tailwind involved.
For a worthy bikepack, there have to be views. Amazing ones. As the AZT climbs away from the river, it enters the Gila Canyons. This newly built section of trail was designed and constructed with mountain bikes in mind and, with reasonable grades, climbs from river level at 1,300 feet up to over 3,000 feet. The highpoint is an ideal place to camp if you’re willing to endure a little bit of relative cold.
Views of Dale’s Butte will give way to the Inner Canyons and breathtaking scenery before exiting on the other side with views of Stripped Butte.
  1. Food
No bikepacking trip in Arizona is complete without cheap Mexican food. Dos Hermanos in Superior is the key to making this loop a classic. After dropping down from the Gila Canyons, a detour off of the Arizona Trail on a chunky dirt road takes the route directly into town. The Huevos Rancheros will not disappoint. This also allows for a food resupply for the next day and a half of riding.
This stop is what gives the route the Ice Cream Loop name, as a long-closed Dairy Queen used to be the stop to make. Now, there’s a local ice cream shop, but it only takes cash. Come prepared!
  1. Fast(er) miles
With a belly full of food, riders can either take the Legends of Superior Trail (LOST) from town to the Picketpost trailhead or ride the wide shoulder along the highway to save a little bit of time. From here, eight miles southbound on the Arizona trail completes the top of the figure eight of the loop. Dirt roads, which made up the old AZT 300 route followed southbound, take the route through Box Canyon, a geologic marvel with towering walls that provide copious amounts of shade.
  1. A little bit of unknown
The Gila River is dam-controlled and in early March, is kept at crossable levels. It’s always a mystery as to when water levels will rise from knee-deep to thigh-deep to un-crossable.  There is always an out-of-the-way river-fording bypass, but getting wet is always a welcome break.
  1. Ridgeline cruising
After crossing the river and wandering around on some sandy ATV trails, the route gains a ridge overlooking the rocky Gila Canyons. The rarely used road offers easier riding and big views. It also provides ample campsites for a second night of camping before the final push back.
  1. A climactic finale
Back on the AZT, the route finished with Ripsey Mountain. The switchbacks up the face of the hill can be seen from miles away, seemingly daunting, but surprisingly rideable with just a little bit of energy. The ridgeline at the top provides some of the best trail and views of the whole route, 360 degrees around. A set of challenging switchbacks down the backside and down to the trailhead will challenge even the most technically adept rider.
  1. A bonus option
At the trailhead, a rider is given two options. Turn right down the dirt Florence-Kelvin “highway” and coast for 30 seconds back to the car, or ride an extra section of Arizona Trail, commonly referred to as “the stupid section.” If the flowers are blooming, the “stupid section” can be renamed the “not-to-miss” section.
  1. Post ride amenities
One might ask if we eat to ride or ride to eat. Having food near the finish is always critical for a good bikepacking route in my book. Luckily, Kearney just a few miles down the road and boasts a quality pizza shop and diner and Mammoth just a few more miles past there has the famed La Casita where you can eat cheese crisps, burritos, and soft-serve ice cream to your hearts content.
  1. Ideal weather
At a low elevation, the Gila River boasts warm weather before much of the rest of the state and country. March is wildflower season, has long days, and for most bikepackers in Arizona, is considered Gila Bikepacking Season. I highly recommend you check it out.  
The route is a challenging one but should exist on any bikepacker’s bucket list. Pack light to fully enjoy the trails, bring some suspension, and get ready to climb. Amazing trails, big views, delicious food, warmer-than-average weather and a chance to watch Arizona sunsets from high places make this route a classic and not to be missed.

Options for Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack on your Jeep

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So you’re thinking about getting a Hi-Lift Jack. These jacks are good for when you have oversize tires and lift kits installed. But they can also be used a come-a-long, to pull a stuck vehicle out, or to move heavy objects. They are available in different lengths, but the big issue is where to store it on a Jeep. On a Wrangler, there’s not much space available, especially inside the cabin, but there are multiple options to mounting the jack outside your vehicle.
Lets take a quick look at a Hi-Lift Jack to see what we’re working with.
Here’s a picture of one:
hilift jack for Jeeps and 4x4s
The jacks are available in different lengths, from around 36 inches to 72 inches. The size you use may depend on how high you need for your lift or clearance, but also, it might depend on where you plan on storing it. Let’s look at some options:

Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack on the Hood - 
hilift jack hood mounts for jeeps
Hi-Lift makes a kit so you can mount the jack on your hood on a JK Wrangler. It mounts directly to your existing hood hinge holes. So there’s no drilling or fabrication needed. This is a popular mounting spot since it’s always visible and out of the way.
Other Hood Mount Kits include:

Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack on the Bumper -
fhi lift jack front bumper mounts for jeeps
Hi-Lift has a universal type mount that can be adapted to almost any type of bumper on any vehicle. These mount the jack in a horizontal  position. Other mounts for the jacks are usually specific to a particular bumper from the manufacturers. The bumpers are either designed with the option of mounting a jack, or have a bracket or piece that allows you to mount the jack to their bumpers. Usually, but not always, the jack will be in an upright position.
Other Bumper Mount Kits Include:

Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack on the Side -
jeep hilift jack side mounts
Some companies make mounts so you can mount your Hi-Lift Jack on the side of your Jeep. Usually by the front doors. Either on the left or right side, in a vertical position.

Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack to the Roll Bar -
jeep rear mounts for hilift jacks
A few companies make mounts so you can place the jack somewhere on the roll bar. Usually on the rear section, out of your way. These seem to work best when you have a soft top, or no top at all. Typically the jack with bee mounted horizontally.

Mounting a Jack with your Tire Carrier -
rancho hilift jack mount spare tire carriers jeep
If you have a tire carrier on the back, especially if it’s a swing arm type, or it’s integral to the rear bumper, there are some other options to mount your jack there. The mount can be part of the bumper / swing arm, or just a bracket to attach to those pieces. The vertical position for the jack is used the most, but not always, depending the manufacturer’s design.

Other parts to go with your Hi-Lift Jack -
There are other parts you may want to consider when choosing your jack. Since there are so many ways to use it our on the trails, and in different kinds of situations.
hi lift jack mount accessories for 4x4s and jeeps
  •  Visible Orange Jack Bag  – This bag can protect your lift from damage, but is also highly visible to find quickly in an emergency, and to help make sure it doesn’t get left behind on the trails.
  • Hi-Lift Versatile Lock -  You can help protect your jack from coming loose or being taken with this handy lock with key.
  • Loc-Rac Jack Locking Kit For Hi-Lift Jacks – Another lock type that uses a padlock and is made from steel materials.
  • Lift Mate – This allows you to hook the jack directly to the wheel, and lift that wheel up out of the mud, or whatever situation requires more jacking movement and lift.
  • Hi-Lift Jack Bumper Hook – There may be cases where you want to hook the jack directly to a bumper for more leverage and lifting ability.
  • Hi-Lift Offroad Jack Base – If you need more stability for the jack, especially in rough terrain or loose ground conditions, the base can give the jack a larger footprint and better stability.
  • Jack Handle Keeper - Sometimes the handle, which is positioned close to the jack, can rattle up against it. This small part can help prevent the handle from moving around, and making noise.
As you can see, choosing the Hi-Lift Jack is probably a lot easier then trying to figure out where you plan on keeping it. As we all know, room inside a Jeep is at a premium, and anytime you can store something outside your Jeep means you have more room inside for camping and trail gear.
So take a look at some options and see what works best for you.

See you on the trails !

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

“Ole Blue” – Willys CJ-2A Family and Lifetime Friend

Ole Blue is a 1946 Willys CJ-2A that has been a friend and part of my family since I was about 7 years old. Ole Blue belonged to John and Irene Brown, my parent’s best friends while I was growing up. My Dad and John would hunt together; deer, quail, rabbits, whatever. I was always with them, from their cabin in the pines to the hunting trips in the desert, I never missed a minute. When John passed away from cancer, Rene told my Dad that John wanted him to have Ole Blue. For several years after John died we continued taking Ole Blue hunting and giving rides to all the kids. My niece and nephews and sons and daughter had all enjoyed riding around in Ole Blue. In October of 2007, upon my return from a deployment to Iraq with the Army National Guard, my Dad told me he was giving me Ole Blue. My wife and kids and I immediately began dis-assembly. While I had planned to restore the old Willys, I wasn’t necessarily planning a complete frame-off. As I kept removing parts, I kept finding more parts that needed to be replaced. Every part was kept in various buckets, boxes and piles. We stripped the frame and repainted it. We boxed the front part of the frame. We rebuilt the axles, differentials and added all new brake components. We worked on the body. We rebuilt the transmission and transfer case. Then I went to “freshen-up” the old L-Head 4 cylinder motor and the block was cracked. Well, I got lucky. I found a guy selling an L-Head on Craigslist and jumped on it. I bought new rings, bearings, gaskets, etc. to freshen up the old L-Head motor. My buddy, Ron Wilson, did the engine for me.
Ole Blue - Paul Mehaffie's 1946 Willys CJ-2AOle Blue - Paul Mehaffie's 1946 Willys CJ-2AOle Blue - Paul Mehaffie's 1946 Willys CJ-2AOle Blue - Paul Mehaffie's 1946 Willys CJ-2A
When I started restoring Ole Blue I wasn’t sure if I was going to try to go all original or not. It didn’t take long to decide which way I was going to go. John Brown had made up my mind for me. He had done some interesting modifications to Ole Blue. He had welded a complete second skin on the body. He had converted the steering from Ross steering over to a Saginaw box and removed the entire bell crank assembly. He had replaced the original Willys cylinder head with a Kaiser cylinder head, which is actually a common modification as the Kaiser head adds a bit more horse power. There were a few other cool modifications “JB” made to Ole Blue that I actually enjoy… not for any other reason than it still feels like John’s Jeep. I did a few things to Ole Blue myself. I installed a modern wiring harness. I updated the steering so it will turn all the way in both directions. I found a temperature gauge that will work with the Kaiser head. I installed comfortable low-back seats. I also notched the rear fenders so I could move the seats back about three inches. I replaced the floor pans and built my own floor bracing out of 1” X 2” tubing. I built front and rear bumpers out of 2” X 4”X ¼” wall tubing and put a Rancho 2 1/2” suspension under it.
Ole Blue - Paul Mehaffie's 1946 Willys CJ-2A
Well, I guess that is it for the story of my Ole Blue, for now. She looks good and runs great. I have to thank my kids for helping me working on her. I have to thank my wife, Jodi, for helping me work on her and for allowing me to spend the money it took to get the old girl back in shape.  I have to thank my Mom and Dad for believing in me and my ability to restore such a treasured piece of our family. Last, but not least, I have to thank John and Irene Brown for years of friendship and lasting memories. I miss them both tremendously. I know they are both looking down and I pray they are at least a little proud of what I have done with Ole Blue.
Ole Blue - Paul Mehaffie's 1946 Willys CJ-2A
Kaiser Willys Jeep Blog Story – Paul Mehaffie

For us radio geeks this is really cool!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kaiser Willys Jeep of the Week: 219

219: Robert Cole’s 1948 Willys CJ-2A
This is my 1948 Willys CJ-2A. It is all original, and still has the 6 volt system. I have had it for 12 years and have finally got it done. Thank you and enjoy!
Robert Cole's 1948 Willys CJ-2ARobert Cole's 1948 Willys CJ-2ARobert Cole's 1948 Willys CJ-2ARobert Cole's 1948 Willys CJ-2ARobert Cole's 1948 Willys CJ-2A
Robert Cole's 1948 Willys CJ-2A
- Robert Cole
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Go to Kaiser Willys Community PHOTO GALLERY for more Great Willys Jeeps!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

G4YSS 1000 WB Points

Congratulations to John G4YSS (GX0OOO) on being the first activator to reach 1000 Winter Bonus points, on G/LD-004, the last day of the Winter Bonus season 2014-2015.
This is a personal milestone that has taken him many years and a great deal of discomfort to accomplish, usually under the most unfavourable conditions.
A magnificent achievement indeed, with many early expedition starts, and descents in the dark. Many thanks for all the points John, especially on top band.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Arduino Wars: Group Splits, New Products Revealed By Alasdair Allan

The Arduino Zero Pro from Arduino.org (left) and the Arduino Zero from Arduino.cc (right)
 by Alasdair Allan
There’s nothing worse than when a family starts fighting amongst itself. If only because, after years being cooped up for weeks at time during the Christmas vacations, you know exactly where to cause the maximum amount of damage.
Right now Arduino LLC—the company founded by Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, David Mellis, Tom Igoe and Gianluca Martino back in 2009—is suing Arduino Srl founded by Gianluca Martino.
The second Arduino, Arduino Srl that is, was originally named Smart Projects Srl and was responsible for manufacturing the Arduino boards in Italy. While the first Arduino, Arduino LLC, is the company we’re more familiar with, responsible for development of the boards, management of the open source projects surrounding it, and the community.
However disagreements last year about the direction of the Arduino brand between Martino and the other four other co-founders led to Martino taking on Federico Musto as the new CEO of Smart Projects and renaming the company Arduino Srl.
The Arduino board itself is open source—one of the earliest decisions made by the group behind the board was to release the design files. Anyone can make an Arduino compatible board, or even an exact copy of the board. However the Arduino name, logo and graphics are protected by trademark which, while it hasn’t stopped the flow of cheap counterfeit boards, has at least meant that if you saw a board with the Arduino logo on you could be fairly sure of its provenance.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. It’s difficult to determine what actually happened or is still happening, but right now we have the arduino.cc site we’re familiar with, the home of Arduino LLC, alongside arduino.org, a site created by the new Arduino Srl. Both use the same trade dress, logo, names, fonts—they even (mostly) call their products the same thing. At least at the moment, and at least to outsiders, there are two companies claiming to be “Arduino” and it’s rather hard to tell the difference.
Talking to la Repubblica back in November last year—when Musto was hired to lead Arduino Srl—Massimo Banzi  said “E’ surreale quel che sta accadendo…” which, at least as close as my rusty Italian can make out, means that he thinks the entire situation is surreal, and really, who can blame him?
Right now the whole problem is sitting before the First Circuit and a Massachusetts District Court where Arduino LLC is suing Arduino Srl and co-defendants for trademark infringement.
Against this background is the quiet release by Arduino Srl, rather than Arduino LLC, of the long awaited Arduino Zero.
Announced at Makercon last year the Arduino Zero represents the future for Arduino. While it shares the same form factor as the older boards it is powered by a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0+ core, and is significantly faster than the traditional 8-bit Arduino, as well as being much more capable.
While the arduino.cc site still isn’t listing the Arduino Zero as available, the arduino.org site has an updated product page for an ‘Arduino Zero Pro’ advertising that it is available now—although after looking I couldn’t find anyone with stock, or anyone that claimed they would have stock, at least not amongst the usual suspects. However it might well just be a matter of time before stock of the board starts to become available.
The arduino.org site is offering two new products. The Arduino Zero Pro is 'available now' while the Yún Mini will be available at the end of April.
The arduino.org site is offering two new products. The Arduino Zero Pro is ‘available now’ while the Yún Mini will be available at the end of April.
Interestingly as well as the new Arduino Zero Pro there is another new product—one we haven’t seen on the Arduino roadmap before—the Arduino Yún Mini.
All we know right now is that this new board will be available from the end of April. However, and perhaps somewhat tellingly to those that are familiar with the background behind the situation, the new Arduino Yún Mini looks awfully like the Linino One board with a different silk screen. While it’s possible that the design of the new Yún Mini is based on the Linino One, it’s equally possible that it might well just be the Linino board in a fetching shade of blue. Either way, we should find out soon.
All in all the whole situation is fraught with difficulties and murky at best. I’m certainly not going to be the only person in the maker community that’s awaiting the decision by the First Circuit with some degree of concern. Because there really is only one thing that we know for sure about this mess, that whatever happens it’s not going to be good for the community that’s grown up around the Arduino—the community that’s turned the Arduino from a humble micro-controller board into something that’s part of the permanent collection at the MOMA.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Software Defined Radio FUN!

How technology has changed. It was not too long ago that at work I used a spectrum analyzer, O Scope, recorder, sonograph, high end receiver, simple computer, converters etc coupled to a rhombic antenna.... All in the name of Signals Analysis.

Now I can do all that and more from home. I recently picked up a NooElec R820T2 & DVB-T NESDR Mini 2 dongle from Amazon like this one.

It is not exactly plug and play. After not being able to get it to work I found and the read the instructions which I linked here.

After reading and installing everything correctly it worked great. For an antenna I have it hooked to my scanner discone which covers the freq range of the dongle (24 MHZ to 1.7 GHZ). Now I have the functionality of an analyst station in the ham shack for around 20 dollars.

If you want to learn more here are a few good resources.
RTL-SDR Website
NooElec website

The dongle is slightly bigger than a USB Stick

Antenna Port

Screen Shot, I am listening to a weather broadcast

I was not sure how useful this would be and thought if it does not work like I want no big deal. I was pleasantly surprised and have had fun listening to the spectrum I do not normally monitor. I know the software is very capable and need to read about it more and play with the settings.

Here is a youtube that I found useful when researching this particular dongle.

72 Frank