Some RF Cafe Photos
RF Cafe Moved to Erie, PA, in May of 2008
RF Cafe is now located in Erie, Pennsylvania. We got tired of the long, hot, humid summers in the South and searched for a location in the North that 1) was affordable, 2) was not land-locked (i.e., close to a large body of water), 3) had friendly people, and 4) had a low population content of Illegal Aliens (all of NC is full of them). Erie delivered on all four requirements, so here we are.
The house we bough upon first arriving in 2008 was an 1950s vintage rancher with a mere 920 sq. ft. of living space, but it had a full, totally dry, unfinished basement and a 1½-car garage. It sat on about 3/4 of an acre, just west of the Erie International Airport (it only flies to Canada, just across Lake Erie). We did a total restoration of the house and property, but ended up moving out after 2½ years because the dual train tracks were so close that the noise was highly annoying, and the heavily loaded trains would make the place rumble. The declining housing market had sapped most of the improvement value on the house, but we made up for it on the new house we bought in December 2010. The new house sits on a hillside with an incredible view of Lake Erie (only about 2 miles away). It is a late-80s split foyer design with about 1,500 sq.ft., fully finished on both levels, and it has a 2-car garage. The lot is a more manageable ¼-acre. Plus, it's in a neighborhood with sidewalks and wide roads. In May 2008, when we moved to Erie, these houses were selling for close to $200k. We paid $135k for it in December 2010, after selling the other for $123.5k - quite an upgrade for an extra $11.5k.
To the right is a view of our back porch. It's a nice 12'x18' aluminum and glass model that faces NNW. Polaris (the North Star) is about 10 degrees to the right of the centerline. In the spring of 2012, I plan to add a 6'x6' extension to the northeast corner (left in the photo) along with a concrete pier rising up from the ground to hold my Celestron 8" telescope. The southern view from there is blocked up to about 20° from the horizon, but the northern view is virtually unobstructed.
On a clear day, the water tower of Port Rowan, Canada - 42 miles away - is visible. On a clear night, we can see the navigation hazard light. Photo taken May 11, 2011. RF Cafe altitude is 897 ft ASL. Lake Erie altitude is 571 ft. ASL. Port Rowan altitude is 602 ft ASL. Our porch is about 4 ft higher than the road, so it is at about 330 ft. above Lake Erie. The Port Rowan water tower is 170 ft tall, so the navhaz light is about 201 ft above Lake Erie. A Line of Sight calculator estimates a total LOS for these altitudes of 46 miles, which is consistent with my observations. The Canadian shoreline is in sight from east to west.
Snow can come as early as October and as late as May here in Erie. I love it - always have.
Even though we only have one vehicle (Jeep Patriot), the 2-car garage is nice because there's enough space that an outdoor utility shed isn't needed. The lower level of the house is only about 2½ feet below ground level, and that's only on the west end. The garage is at the east end is at ground level (see photo of back porch). That means no water issues and no sump pump.
I built a small workshop on the lower level that gets plenty of outside light and the wall I built has three large inside windows and a glass-filled French door. The photo below was taken back in January 2011. I'll post some recent ones soon that show the nearly completed workshop.
A storm's a-brewing to the west. It's cool to watch the weather move in from over Lake Erie.
Here is the beginning of the workshop. I included lots
of inside window area and ½ of a French door with
15 glass panels. That will keep in the huge amounts of
sawdust that I manage to generate, while letting lots
of light in. Three high output fluorescents on the ceiling
guarantee no shadows while working. Custom built-in
workbenches wrap around 3 walls. I'll post an almost-
finished photo soon.
Mt. Airy (superseded by above)
Melanie and I moved into our new house in Mt. Airy, NC, on April 13 (a Friday!), 2007. Mt. Airy's claim to fame (other than now being the headquarters of RF Cafe) is that U.S. movie star Andy Griffith was born here.
If you have watched the Andy Griffith Show that ran in the 1960s, then you will remember references to local areas, the most notable being Mt. Pilot. Mt. Pilot is actual a reversal of Pilot Mountain, a prominent peak to the south of here.
Mt. Airy is unofficially referred to as "Mayberry," and it seems like half the businesses here are named after Goober, Aunt Bea, Gomer, Floyd, and the other cast of characters. Even the local mall (very small) is named the Mayberry Mall.
One of the best aspects of most of North Carolina (in regions other than the the largest cities like Raleigh and Charlotte) is that housing costs are unbelievably low. Our 1.3-acre acre house in Kernersville, that had a 4-car garage and an 8-acre lake across the street, just sold for $171k, and we bought this new house, located on a little over an acre, for a mere $130k (we also bought the 1+ acre next to it for an additional $18k). Property taxes are around $1k in both places. Try doing that in just about any other town. An engineer or technician can live like a king in the Piedmont-Triad area (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point) when working for outstanding companies like RFMD, Tyco, or a handful of other high-tech establishments.