temperature was in the lower 40's by the time i left the house in the afternoon. that was an improvement because temperature was in the 30's this morning. after getting some gas i went to belmont.

with a serious hard freeze coming tomorrow night, it was vital that i finally plant the ornamental grass into the backyard, otherwise they'd die in the pots. what i wasn't expecting was to unearth some bamboo rhizomes. i could just leave them alone and had to dig them up, ended up getting dirt all over my shirt sleeves, was more difficult that i realized.

the 2m ground plane antenna might not be strong enough to reach my house from my parents' place (it probably can, but i don't have a ground plane antenna of my own so my transmission and reception are weak), but it could probably reach the cafe, halfway distance. so while i was in belmont, i tested the antenna with my father at the cafe. using the 2m ground plane antenna transmitting on a matching 2m frequency (146MHz), i was able to transmit but not receive (not even static), which was the problem we had before. my father could hear me at the cafe with 80% clarity. but after i fiddled around with the adapter, i did manage to hear my father at 60% clarity, the rest being static. but then i couldn't receive him again. i switched to the 70cm ground plane antenna and contacted him on a matching 70cm frequency (445MHz). he was able to hear me at 60%, i heard him at 40%. just for kicks, we switched back to the 2m band, which meant a mismatch. naturally, all he could receive was static, but i didn't even hear anything back from him. just to cover our bases, i switched back to the 2m antenna and tested on the 70cm band. what was supposed to be a mismatch turned out to best combination in terms of clarity, we both heard each other at 90%. so apparently the trick is to build a 2m ground plane antenna but using 70cm on it instead.

my father's QYT KT-8900 dual band radio finally arrived today from china. it took 17 days, which is typical when ordering anything from the mainland. but he swore he'll never order anything from there ever again. first they contacted him a few days after he ordered with some additional charges. then when the order arrived today, he realized it was missing a lot of accessories, until he checked the original ad and saw in very fine print that those were extra (i thought it was too good to be true from the start).

the QYT KT-8900 is pretty small and designed as a car radio. operationally, it's very similar to the baofeng, but has a lot of additional functions that may only to china. with fewer buttons, it's probably even more complicated than the baofeng to program manually. fortunately it came with a programming cable. when i hooked it up to my mac and tried to run chirp, it wouldn't connect. when i installed an additional driver, it still didn't work. i then installed chirp on my father's PC, and after installed an old driver, i finally managed to get chirp to download data from the radio. i then opened up an image of the latest baofeng data and copied over the memory files. a few channels didn't transfer over, the KT-8900 wouldn't accept any frequencies above 480MHz (the baofeng can go up to 520MHz in UHF). the KT-8900 also only had a 6 character display so it truncated the channel names.

the KT-8900 can operate at 25W, compared to the baofeng UV-5R which has a maximum output of 5W only. listening to some police radio traffic, we couldn't really tell the difference, though the KT-8900 is pretty loud (almost too loud). we were testing with the 2m ground plane antenna mounted outside, and was able to hit the quincy repeater just fine (straight line distance 11 miles), receiving the automated repeater message with clarity.

i made risotto for dinner. i was going to start the recipe at 5pm, but after doing the dishes and finding the right size pots, it was suddenly 5:30pm. risotto typically takes an hour to make from beginning to end. i was going to make it on tuesday but my father already prepared some red roasted pork. instead of just half a package of italian sausages, i used the whole package (6 links). i finally finished the risotto by 6:30pm. i don't think my father minded the wait, he was too busy playing with his new radio. my father - whom i don't think ever had risotto before - said it was pretty good, pretty savory. i thought it was slightly salty because i put in too much shredded parmesan at the end, and he agreed, but said the saltiness contributes to the overall umami. we split the portion right in half, i felt stuffed afterwards.

i tested the transmit capability of the KT-8900 on my way home. stopping at reservoir and walden, i tried contacting my father, who had just installed the new radio in the car along with the provided antenna, an NMO mounted diamond brand tri-band antenna. i couldn't tell if it was fake or not, it looked real enough, but a genuine diamond tri-band would cost as much as the radio, so it was most likely a knockoff. more evidence? neither my father or i could hear each other on 2m or 70cm, not even static, so the antenna was worse than stock. basically all the antennas we've purchased have performed less than expected. the only good antennas we have are the simple ground plane antennas my father built. the diamond antenna might not be working because it doesn't have a ground plane surface to work with, and they didn't even include a magnetic base, just a door mount.