Monday 26 August 2013

Fort Worth Nature Centre and Refuge

While in Fort Worth for the FTWSO concert series I looked for a place to go exploring on the Sunday Morning. Searching the internet I came across the Fort Worth Nature Center and refuge which had some creatures, scenic drives and trails. It is off the Jacksboro highway, NW of downtown Fort Worth.

Having paid my $5 admission i made straight for the Visitor centre. I did two walks centred there Caprock at 0.5 miles and Limestone Ledge at 0.2 miles. They also have two owls in the refuge, both hit by cars, a greater horned owl and a barred owl

I then drove to the boardwalk which is supposed to be a walk over the marshes over Lake Worth. Unfortunately it being August in Texas it was completely dry with no water in sight

The car park (EM12GU) was quite empty so a wire was thrown into a tree and the KX3 activated. A couple of stations were worked in the KS QSO party on 20m 1548 NoU/ALL 1549 W0U/SHA but the bands were quite dead and it was way too hot to operate from a car for any length of time.
The final visit was to the road named "Buffalo drive". Unlike earlier, when driving to the visitor center on this visit there were plenty of brown buffalos and also the rarer white ones

 By now it was noon and time to head for lunch and then to Bass hall

Fort Worth Symphony "From Russia with Love" concerts

While listening to the local classic FM station on 101.1MHz  on the way to work last Monday I heard adverts for a three concert series this weekend entitled "From Russia with Love" by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. They normally do a series of three concerts on a theme as an intro to the concert season; this year the three were dedicated to the memory of Van Cliburn who died earlier this year

A total of Six pieces all by Russian composers with three piano pieces played by Cliburn 2013 medalists and three russian Symphonies; not to be missed, so tickets were purchased. $18 each for the 3 concerts in the centre of the lower mezamine

I drove the 47 miles to Fort Worth direct from work on friday evening and even had enough time for banana spring rolls desert in PF Chang 3 blocks from the concert hall in the usual pre-concert ritual.

Friday night started with a eulogy to Van cliburn which was inaudible due to the bad PA audio (still) in the Bass Hall  The first half  had Beatrice Rana, the 2013 Silver medalist (wearing a silver sparkly dress as a reminder?) playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. . The first movement was a bit slow and she was overpowered by the orchestra at times but very enjoyable. Her encore was the Schumann-Liszt composition, Widmung. The second half was the FTWSO playing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. Fort worth star telegram review. One other feature  of the Bass hall is a Starbucks across the road in the Barnes and Noble bookshop which serves coffee until midnight, you dont get that after theatre in Malvern!

Saturday night had Italian pianist Alessandro Deljavan a 2013 semi finalist (rumoured not to have progressed further because of facial/body contortions while playing!) playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2  in the first half which was a very different interpretation than normally heard . . His encore was the Chopin’s B minor Etude which was stunning. The second half was the FTWSO playing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 underwhelmingly.  Fort worth star telegram review.

Sunday afternoon  had Sean Chen, the 2013 Third place playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. in the first half (same piece he played in the Cliburn final 11 weeks previously).  His encore was a mystery until afterwards due to the awful pa system in the Bass Hall (just as bad as during the Cliburn competition)."Chen turned to two violinists and two cellists in the symphony and asked each of them to play a note of their choice. He then returned to his piano bench and did about three minutes of improvisation on those four notes."  A first for Bass hall!. The second half the FTWSO playing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique) which was well played but the most memorable part was the raspy sounds produced by the horns   Fort worth star telegram review.

The east angel on the front of the Bass Hall.  They were hewn from solid marble in California then shipped to Texas. The head fell off the first one to arrive and had to be remade from scratch and reshipped

53 mile drive back to the apartment; an enjoyable weekend!

Monday 5 August 2013

RPI R820T RTL2832 SDR Server

As a way of keeping an eye on conditions i have taken to installing the rtlsdr dongle out on the balcony hooked up to a 50MHz dipole and using the Dell laptop as a display sitting on a chair. The weather in Dallas has returned to Summer normal about a week ago after having a week of mainly rain so 100degrees F plus is now the normal. Too hot to sit out on the balcony and look at the bands, There had to be a better solution

Searching the Internet I came across a page by EB1HBK "Receptor SDR remoto con Raspberry Pi"
on how to set up a raspberry pi as an RTLSDR remote server. The pages are in Spanish but despite having had my Spanish corrupted by Mexican Spanish I managed to work it all out and get it up and running

The RPI sits out on the balcony with RTL-SDR and power supplied through the USB hub from a 5V 4A PSU acting as a server. It is connected  via an ethernet cable to the router. The server can be started remotely using SSH through the Putty programme

The laptop in the airconditioned apartment runs sdrsharp. In SDR Sharp the device is set to "RTL-SDR TCP" with the IP of the RPI ( and the default port of 1234