Moving to the Mac

A couple of years ago, I bought an iMac to use for business purposes. (I am a freelance Web developer.) It’s a great computer.

Down in the shack, though, it’s another story. I’ve been plugging along with an old Windows98 laptop that I bought used about five years ago. I’ve never done anything really fancy with it—I’ve mostly used it for logging. I was going to try PSK31 at some point, but was concerned that the sound card in it wasn’t good enough.

Recently, though, the computer has really started to show its age. The latest thing to break was a little plastic clip holding the Ethernet cable in place. The connector wouldn’t stay put, and I was in effect off the Net.

I took it in to the place where I bought the computer, Affordable Computers, and they sold me a replacement card for $30. Unfortunately, when I got it home, I found that I still couldn’t connect to the net. I took it back the next day, and it turns out that the card they sold me was bad. Fortunately for me, they found another card—this one an Ethernet-only card—that did work and only cost $15.

While I was in there, I noticed that they were selling some used iBooks for $539. How could I resist? So, now I’m the proud owner of an iBook G4, with Mac OSX. In fact, I’m writing this blog entry on it right now.

It’s in pretty good physical condition, and everything seems to be working just fine, except for perhaps the battery. I left the battery to charge over night, and this morning, it was only at 50%. I left the charger on throughout the morning, and did get it up to 100%, but it seems to be discharging very rapidly. I just went to battery power about ten minutes ago, and it’s already down to 90%.

Oh well. I guess I’ll be heading back there real soon. The one nice thing about buying the computer from a dealer is that they offer a warranty on the battery. Good thing, too. Batteries for these laptops are $100 and up.

UPDATE 10/18/07:
Great news! I took the iBook back to the store this afternoon. I told the tech that the battery didn’t seem to be holding a charge. He said, “Let me take a look at it.” He took it into the back room and returned in about ten minutes. He handed it back to me saying, “I popped a new battery into it. You’re all set.” I’m very happy. :)


  1. I also use a Mac in my shack and I have a few software links you might find helpful.

    cocoaModem Free app for some digi modes.
    MacLoggerDX For all your logging needs.
    Mac Ham Radio Site to find other ham apps for the Mac.
    DogParkList Mailing list.
    Ham-Mac Mailing list.

  2. Dan, you can’t help but learn to love the Mac with ham radio. Cocoa and MacLoggerDX are of the most amazing Mac ham radio programs out there. Have a look at DX Toolbox too… The Mac hamming community is very friendly and anxious to help newbies get rolling.

    The only thing I can’t do on my Mac with my radio is PACTOR, Email, etc. on my PK-232 that I use with Army MARS.

    Strongly recommend GriffinTechnologies “iMic” for sound-card interfacing to your radio from the Mac, and if you need a USBSerial adapter, save yourself aggravation and buy “KeySpan” brand!


    Doug N7BNT

    MacMini (Intel) – hidden under desk- hooked up to a used HP 17″ LCD display running a Kenwood TS-840SAT (radio body also under desk, display on desktop). Makes for a killer combination…

  3. Dan KB6NU says:

    Thanks for the tips, guys.

    I’ve been trying to make do with one of the free logging programs–Aether and RUMlog–but I think that in the end I’ll break down and buy MacLoggerDX. I haven’t tried doing any of the digital modes yet, so I thank you for the iMic and KeySpay recommendations.

  4. Hello Dan and all,

    Just bumped into this blog. I was googling on some Mac issues regarding software for PSK31 and serial to usb comport solutions. I found ‘moving to my mac’ interesting to read. I recently took the plunge and ordered a iMac aluminum 24 inch 2,4 Ghz. I had a lot of PC’s before and own a lot of interesting software. So I took off by running a virtual machine in OSX leopard and installed my Windows XP.

    All was running fine, except for the soundcard. The internal in/out jacks don’t like rigs or interfaces connected. It just don’t work. So I found the small iMic usb sound device for a small price and it works like a charm. Even trough the VMware virtual machine, the device and serial to usb adapter were properly installed and I was working PSK in MixW.

    But my interest was to find decent MAC software to play with. Because I just start to use Apple, I still have to read a lot and find my way trough software. For the time being I installed cocoaPTT and cocoaModem 2.0 and I have a freeware (basic) logbook program. Now I can manage working my dx on the native O.S.

    I’m might be in the market for the fully blown, full featured macLoggerDX. But for now I keep things simple and use freeware.

    The biggest issue was to find a decent driver for a serial to usb adapter I had for several years. I was lucky after searching for 30 minutes to find a compatible driver and got cocoaPTT working.

    I can advise the iMic soundcard to, it’s very small, apple alike and has despite the smal dimensions a great feature to switch between line and mic impedance. It comes even with a RCA adapter cable. I think you can look for any serial to usb adapter as long as the manufactere provides OSX drivers.

    I’m new to the mac things but it seems that some hams invest in making some nice tools. I find Aether okay but like a little more extra’s so maybe I will look into macloggerDX.

    best 73 and happy year endings.
    Phil ON4VP.

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