Radar Reflector you can build

About five years ago I got into radar reflectors for sailboats. the result is in an article I have on Duckworks, with additional details two years later in another article. I encourage you to look at them for many of the details…they are relatively easily made from aluminum roof flashing and pop rivets at low cost AND ARE FAR BETTER AT REFLECTING THAN ANY OF THE SMALL REFLECTORS MARKETED FOR SMALL BOATS. In short, size matters, and no passive technology can get around that.

Finished reflector on mast top















The reflector is quite rigid with just thin flashing because of the angles. It is basically two sets of quadrahedral reflectors spaced inside each other, and gives excellent reflection over a wide horizontal circle. The two reflectors fill in for each other around the circle.

I strongly recommend building one for your boat if you are likely to be out where there is significant commercial traffic or where there are large cruisers with radar. It is also reassuring in fog, althought boats without radar would not “see” you.

SEO and content

Search Engine Optimization has been a buzzword for years, but the abuses have gotten to the Spy vs Spy stage from Mad Magazine–each one one-ups the action of the other. Apparently there are invisible pieces at the top of a post or page that hold keywords and descriptions, but unscrupulous people stuffed them with things to ‘stuff the deck’ so the legitimate uses were thwarted. The last I heard Google, at least, is ignoring the tags and actually searching through the content of the page.

So my current theory is that there are two ways to grow web site traffic: Continue reading SEO and content

Apologies, but all comments will now be moderated!

I have no desire to limit either positive or negative comments here (as long as the comments have to do with the site topic and do not lead to an obviously unrelated page), but I just discovered that some of the (vague but sincere sounding) comments with web addresses are simple spam, leading to pages touting Viagra, etc. I will try to approve comments daily and I apologize for the delay, but I had no idea spam came in so blatantly.  Such is the world of the internet.

Do I feel stupid!

I’m crushed! I have just discovered that all the vague, short comments with a web address at the end are leading to sites promoting Viagra, etc. I guess spam now comes in sincere-seeming comments. From here on all comments will be moderated. Any with real content will be allowed unless a listed web address leads to some obviously commercial, unrelated site. Also, any “comment” with no readable content will be denied. I apologize to anyone with real comments and I will do my best to approve within a day any (positive or negative) comment that relates to the topics of the site.

Web analysis terms

For those of you who are watching me struggle to get up to speed with web site stuff, let me report a new breakthrough. As I mentioned earlier, I have set up with Google Analytics for the 4 sites I am developing. It was interesting (but of no special importance) to see from what countries visitors came in the last week or so (when I started getting data). But some of the BIG statistics had no meaning. So I looked them up in Google and here are the (mostly Wikipedia) meanings:

Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of people who arrive at any of my pages and never go to any other of my pages from there. Either they came by mistake or else, having arrived, they decided nothing else was interesting enough to click on. I learn that 50% is generally considered good–only one in two stays around. Continue reading Web analysis terms

Rudder modification to reduce tiller force

Sketch of Rudder Modification

One of my more successful modifications has been to add an area ahead of the pivot line defined by the hinges. Unmodified, the helmsperson has to provide all the force to opppose the water running past the rudder surface. Admittedly the length of the tiller arm helps, but I was finding it taking more force than I wanted to come about for a tack.

Since the rudder was built out of fiberglass-covered plywood, it was a simple matter to add some area ahead of the pivot to have the water push the forward area of the rudder  in the direction of the tiller, getting the water to aid the effort. Continue reading Rudder modification to reduce tiller force

Higher-speed glitz

My friend Carl agreed to test out my new improved pages. He has a “tablet” of some sort (non-iPad) as well as a hard-wired networked computer. The latter seems to behave just like my Dell Laptop but the tablet seemed to take forever to load. Perhaps the wireless-ness of the network connection was part of the problem, but my goal is to have the pages work well for anyone, regardless of the degree of state-of-the-art they represent. As I went back to the graphics (pictures) that I added at the top, I was going to reduce the JPEG quality to “low” to reduce the file size, but I discovered Photoshop has a choice to save pictures “for the web.” Continue reading Higher-speed glitz

Subscribers and notifications

Having encountered web sites that required me to identify myself before I could post a comment and offered to notify me when new things were posted, I had a passing familiarity with the (annoying) process. When someone commented that they wished my site had such a feature, I was flattered. I take that to indicate I am progressing in the crawl-walk-run sequence relative to WordPress. As evidence I immediately knew to search for a plugin to add notification and sure enough I found several including one called subscribe2.

As the administrator it is difficult to see how the plugin looks to a new visitor, so I welcome comments from you who visit the sites. You may post a comment or email me at schultz@pei.sympatico.ca.

Have I mentioned that a next step may be to bring web-related emails over to an address associated with the account?