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Guy Wires Underfoot? Something Ain’t Right

Also: Yawcam freeware keeps an eye on things

As a kid I played a game with my sister in which we stacked a bunch of dominoes and then tried to remove one at a time before the entire stack tumbled over.

Fig. 1 is a takeoff from that game. How many guy wires can you remove from an AM tower without it falling over?

Fig. 1: Go get your hard hat.

Fig. 2: You can’t cheat physics. The mis-guyed tower eventually will come down.
Hey, look, it’s still standing in Fig. 2. But I can hear the owner now: “Ahhh, it’s only AM …”

Send me pix of your “what to avoid” scenarios. My e-mail appears at the end of the story.

* * *

Aaron Read, general manager of WEOS and WHWS in upstate New York, comments on an article by Leslie Stimson in the Dec. 15, 2010 Radio World that discussed cellular phones with FM reception.

An issue of note is that several higher-end “smartphones” such as the iPhone and Motorola Droid have physical hardware for FM radio reception but lack software support for accessing that hardware.

Some enterprising hackers have figured out ways to “get at” all sorts of hidden features on these phones, including activating the radio. For example, the Motorola/Verizon Droid X has software support built in for its radio while the Droid 2 does not. Yet there’s a hack available on the XDA Developers forum that unlocks it; see

If you’re not sure whether your phone has latent radio capability, try doing a quick Google search combining the names of the carrier (AT&T, Verizon, etc.), the phone manufacturer (HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Apple, etc.), the operating system (Android, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile 6 or 7, etc.) and the phone itself (Droid 2, Omnia, Defy, etc.), along with the word “radio.” This likely will turn up any information.

As one might imagine, there tend to be more hacks for the Android OS thanks to its more open architecture, but there are some for Apple and a few for Windows Mobile, too.

Aaron has encouraged visitors to his station websites to listen using their Droids or iPhones. Great cross-promotion. Visit

* * *

Lew Wallach, N9WL, is not only a ham but a CPA. Having read our tips in the Dec. 15 Workbench on emergency preparedness at the transmitter site, Lew offers the following:

Use metal or glass containers to store food. Rodents will eat through a plastic container to get to food stored within. Any clean metal container can be used, since the food is packaged (no chemical reaction).

Put several rolls of toilet paper in a gallon freezer bag to keep them dry. Ditto for your paper towels.

Lightweight aluminum/Mylar “space blankets” reflect body heat. Make sure you have two or three of the pocket-size packages per person, or at least one “stadium” size blanket (larger, thicker and reusable).

Fig. 3: Yawcam is free. The name is short for ‘Yet Another Webcam software.’ During a backpacking trip that tested Murphy’s Law, Lew says his stadium space blanket made the difference between discomfort and hypothermia. He only has experience with the Thermos Space Blanket brand; a number of manufacturers make such products, available at nearly every outdoor store and even Wal-Mart.

He adds that emergency survival equipment is not the place to try saving a few dollars.

Lew also has a tip for soldering. A stainless steel scrub pad cleans his soldering iron tip better than a wet sponge. A budget-busting three-pack for $1 at the local Dollar Store will clean a lot of tips. They also are handy to stuff inside conduit and other insect and rodent access points. They don’t rust and the rodents haven’t eaten through them — yet.

* * *

Atlanta engineer Allen Alleo calls your attention to This freeware is webcam software written in Java, simple and easy to use but with the usual features.

Yawcam features include video streaming, image snapshots, a built-in Web server, motion detection, FTP upload, password protection and time-lapse movies. You can protect your transmitter site inexpensively. Although Yawcam is free, consider making a donation if you find the software useful.

John Bisset marked his 40th year in radio in broadcasting recently. He works for Tieline Technology and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award. Reach him at [email protected] or (603) 472-5282. Faxed submissions can be sent to (603) 472-4944.

Submissions for this column are encouraged and qualify for SBE recertification credit.