Saturday, January 20, 2018

Yard Looks Great, Hamfest Was Fun, and Some Snow On The Way

The yard guys finished up "Phase 1" of the yard program, and the yard looks really nice. The yard has been graded so the new double gates open easily, the gravel beds are cleaned out, the junipers are cleaned out, the iris bed by the garage has been cleaned out and weeded, all the window wells are cleaned out, and the whole place looks a bunch better. Well worth the $675 it cost to have done.

And I hit the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club swap meet / "Hamfest" for a couple of hours this morning. My next door neighbor was there, and Jed, one of my commenters who stops by from time to time. It was fun to go to an Old Skool hamfest, like the ones I went to in high-school and afterwards. I came "THIS CLOSE" to bringing home a Hallicrafters SX-115 receiver. Definitely something I didn't expect to see there, and it was in Very Good / Excellent condition, easily flippable on eBay for well over twice his asking price, and a receiver I've lusted after. But I held back on some logical reasons (it's not that good of a receiver) even though the other side of my brain was screaming "BUY IT!!".....

And I saw tons of hard-core RF parts for home brewing some seriously high power HF stuff. Tubes (glass AND ceramic!), sockets, air chimneys, anode caps, inductors made from silver-plated 1/4" copper tube, and variable capacitors you really could slice bread with. HV rectifiers, big door-knob capacitors, big filter capacitors, and all the power supply stuff you could want except the iron. I'm sure where you can get a good quality high voltage (Plate Supply) transformer these days. Ever since Peter Dahl stopped, there's been a dearth of suppliers. Granted, I haven't seriously looked for a 2500V 2A transformer, but that one supplier has closed their doors.

No, I'm not thinking of building a linear power amplifier, but it was fun to see all that stuff from when I was a young Ham.

Temperature is dropping, wind has shifted to the North, and we're expecting 4"~8" of snow tonight and tomorrow. This will be the "biggest" storm we've had since we moved here, and the wife is excited/concerned/happy/weird that we're getting "Eight Inches Of Snow!!", the most she's ever seen. I should have bought one of the snow blowers I saw last week, but the wife found a local guy who'll do it for $15. We'll see how well he works out, but I have a feeling I'll be getting a snow blower soon after this storm.

Friday, January 19, 2018

YAY! The Landscape Guys Showed Up!

The landscape guy and his son showed up today about noon, right when he said they'd be here.

He stopped by last week to confirm we still wanted him to do the work, and of course we did.

There's a "river rock" area about 18"~36" wide all around the back yard at the fence line. It even has concrete "curbs"! And it collect leaves and sticks like you wouldn't believe. In the four hours they were here, they cleaned out most of the gravel beds, got ALL of the yard trash that collected around and in the Juniper bushes cleaned up, graded the yard at the new double-wide gate so the gates swing free and easy, and it looks nice. And he took two trailer loads to the dump.

Tomorrow they're going to finish the gravel beds, clean out the window well for the basement egress window, and finish raking up another mountain of trash from the backyard, and get started on the front. They're also getting rid of all the runners and stuff from the various "plants" here that were allowed to run amok.

Next week they'll finish up the Arc Light operation on all the undesired plants, and we'll figure out what we want them to do with the yard other than the typical mow/feed/herbicide/edge and clean up they'll be doing for us. We'll probably have the Juniper bushes around the cottonwood trunk/totem removed, as they're old, ratty, unmaintained, and a couple of them took some big hits when a log (or two) got a bit "loose" on the way down when the tree was disassembled.

For now, we just needed an Industrial Strength clean up operation, and these guys are doing a bang-up job at a very reasonable price.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Life and Work On the House Continue.....

Typical mundane stuff now, like my wife deciding she needs a shelf here, or a picture there, along with more things she keeps stuffing in the Job Jar. Put up a(nother) shelf today in the downstairs/den bathroom, then wrestled with the furniture to put these plastic "glider" things under the feet. Makes it a snap for one person to move the sofa or loveseat. The new coffee table and side tables we got are on casters, so tomorrow when I go to hang a(nother) curtain rod in the den, I can just move the furniture out of the way, and snuggle my ladder right up against the wall to make accurate measurements, and then drill the holes in those places, tap in the plastic anchors, then mount the curtain rod after I feed it through the curtain.

The garage is staying remarkably clean and clutter free, provided my wife doesn't buy something big, which she does, and it comes packed in cardboard with styrofoam, plastic film, and sometimes other fiddly bits like plastic shipping plugs or spacers. All these things give the Fort Collins recycling facility a tummy ache, so you must separate them out from your recycling stream, and discard them with regular kitchen waste. I talked with a nice volunteer guy at the recycling center who told me that aluminum cans and corrugated cardboard are making enough money to carry the other things they're starting to accept. This puzzles me, as there's YUGE money to be made in recycling, or at least that's the impression I got back in Sunny SoCal. Of course, it might have been "The Economies of Scale" kicking in there, as the volume of trash generated by the 18 million people in the L.A. Basin has to be significantly greater than what the metro Fort Collins area generates. Oh, well.....I'm sure not going to say SoCal did it "better" because the huge difference in the volume of trash makes certain items become recyclable by virtue of the cost becoming acceptable. It's a Engineering trade-off, and I'm quite familiar with those......

Still haven't heard anything from the carrier I booked to transport the Supra here. If I don't hear anything by Thursday night I'll give them a call and talk to a live person....I hope!

And I'm down to specifying components for the radio tower and antenna project. The antennas and mast add up to right about 15sqsft of wind area, and the tower is rated at 25sqft at 100MPH wind speed. The tower is rated to 110, but the antennas are only rated to 100, so I'm a bit over half the rating of the tower, which is a comfortable safety margin for me. I'm debating whether to make the foundation a bit bigger. The tower people are recommending a 4'x4'x5' hole with no rebar, and I'm thinking a 5'x5'x6' hole with a rebar "cage" half way between the tower mounting legs and the outer surface of the concrete. My "General Contractor" in-law tells me it night be $75 more to dig and form the bigger hole, and it holds almost twice as much concrete, ~5.6 cubic yard vs 2.9 cubic yards, so figure double for the concrete. If the tower people laugh at me and say it'll twist off the recommended foundation long before the foundation fails, then I'll go with the smaller size.

The main HF antenna will be a JK Antennas "Navassa 5" antenna, fed with 1/2" hard line, and the 2M antenna will be an M2 2M9-SSB antenna, fed with 7/8" hardline. All connectors will be Type "N", and properly weatherproofed.

The tower will be a Universal Towers Model # 35-30, three sections, 30' tall, self supporting, painted a darkish, flat grey-green, possibly with a pattern of some sort.

The antennas will likewise be cleaned, given a coat of a good etching primer, and then painted a flat greyish blue color very similar to what a US Navy aircraft is painted. Since the very top of the mast will be 36', and most of the trees in this neighborhood are well over that height, painting the tower and antennas before I hoist them up will minimize the visual impact of it. I know some radio people get all excited about a brand new SHINY tower and antenna installation, I'm not one of them. I really don't want to get known as "Oh, that guy with The Tower....". I'll also have to fabricate some anti-climb panels, and those will be suitably painted as well.

I have a good Yaesu G-800 rotor that's like new, but I think it may be a bit "light" for these antennas and this wind environment. Whether I go with a bigger Yaesu rotor, one of the MFJ "Hy-Gain" rotors, or go completely rogue and get something like an Alfa-SPID or ProSisTel remains to be decided. The tower company says their factory-installed rotor shelf "Fits all popular rotors", but I'll check with them to make sure.

And it was three degrees last night, and the night before we got about 2" of dry, fluffy snow which has now turned granular. BUT.....Thursday and Friday will be in the 50's and 60's! Quite a change, but we're getting used to it. If it's 25* or less, we don't go out unless we have an appointment. Pretty easy to do when you're retired!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Supra Transport Contract Signed

And after reviewing all the previous quotes, the winner is......Reliable Carriers!

$1400, door-to-door, with realtime GPS tracking of the tractor/trailer. Should take 5 to 7 days, but allowances might have to be made for weather conditions.

Pix of Ms Swan's arrival in Free America will be circulated as soon as available.

The wife is still practicing using a garage, but is catching on to it PDQ. Have to find some bright colored tennis balls to hang on the bright orange surveyor's twine I have and then hang them for her "Docking Targets".

And I'm in the process of connecting and initializing the base station / control unit for the Davis weather station which is now sitting outside on the 5' tripod. Not sure what I'll do for data logging until I find the little Linux PC I put together a couple of years ago to run WeatherView on. I'll have to see if I can sweet talk my wife into letting me put a small table on the North wall of the sun room where the cable sneaks in under the weather stripping on the door. The little PC is about the size of a copy of "Unintended Consequences", but not quite as thick. A small keyboard, mouse, and ~17" monitor could sit there and record the data, crunch it, and give you a nice display of realtime weather. Combine it with a simple turnstyle antenna, an inexpensive USB "dongle" receiver, and with some readily available free software for Linux, and you also have a complete system to capture the data from the 137MHz APT Weather Satellites as they pass over several times per day. Be kinda neat to have all that immediate weather data available 24/7.

Electronics workshop and Ham radio station design studies continue. Infrastructure work is being concentrated on the indoor portions of the project as that's when my carpenter buddy is available and not rushed. He'll be stopping by in the next day or so to go over a "Scope of Work" type of discussion, and we'll proceed with the Electronics and Garage workbenches while we discuss what I'd like for the operating position. Electric Radio magazine has nice cover shots every month, so I've dug out a stack of those to show him, and I've just started searching the Web for pix of other nice operating positions. Some of the dimensions are fixed by my choice of equipment for the two "Vintage" operating positions on each side of the main operating position. I'll "blue tape" this out on the floor and wall just as I did for the workbench, and we'll go from there. I'm not looking for a "Museum Grade" desk, so no fancy veneers or drawer pulls. Drawer selection is something we'll go over, and our dimensions might be altered a bit by what's out there in premade drawer/cabinet modules, just as it will be on the workbench side. And the fact that we'll be buying at least 6 units might give us a little extra pull with that vendor.

At this point the (estimated) budget for the two workbenches and drawer units is $2500, and I suppose the custom desk will set me back about the same. There's a lot of locally made, very good quality furniture and cabinetry here, and some of those vendors will occasionally take a "short run" of 6 to 9 pieces. Or so I'm told.....

It's been unseasonably warm here, and the snow is gone, the back yard is drying out, and the landscape guy is coming by. If my wife had written that last sentence it would have read "and the landscape guy is FINALLY coming by". She's still getting used to the fact that we have Real Weather here, and sometimes you can't always do what you'd like, especially if it involves working outdoors. Oh well.....he was one of the few that returned our calls, AND came out to survey the damage and make us a quote, and the quote was very reasonable, about half what we expected. He told us at that time he couldn't get back to do the work for several weeks as he was finishing some big jobs, but that he would get back to us, and he has. A few weeks ago I helped my wife and her friend who moved here about 9 months ago to clean up the back yard. We got 14 bags of leaves, twigs, sticks, etc, and we just made a dent in it. And that was just the backyard.......

And then we all these "plants" growing places they shouldn't, along with several rose bushes that need to get moved, and that's gonna take some digging, and we just 'aint up to it. The guy who's going to do it knew what they all were, and knew what was worth "saving", and what was destined for an Arc Light operation. And we need the yard graded and sculpted, and whatever else needs to be done, at the new double-wide gate. We knew from the beginning we'd have to contract it out, but it took some doing to even get anybody to show up. I'm getting a fast education in "Seasonal Work" for various industries, and landscaping / yard work is definitely in that category. Late fall and right before Christmas are busy times for those guys, as lots of them have secondary gigs that kick in at that time of year. I get it, but my wife sees the cluttered, mismanaged yard, and wants it fixed, and wants it fixed NOW. It's like when she didn't "get" our in-laws remark that "Oh, hunting season just started" when she was talking to him about getting somebody here to do something for her.

Gotta admit, though....having these kinds of "problems" is orders of magnitude better than the "problems" we potentially faced at our former place in Kalifornia.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Good Gravy.......I Have A Garage Again!

Went to the recycling center this morning with my wife, so I could get the layout of the place, and see it for myself.

We took one huge load of cardboard, and after I saw the size of the slot they have where you feed the cardboard in, I went back by myself with another load.

"Old Mount Corrugated" has been removed from the garage, and stuffed into the maw of the big green machine that eats cardboard.

We still have a few boxes that will have to go, and some Styrofoam that will slowly go into the regular kitchen waste for disposal. I'm surprised that I was able to get so much Styrofoam into the kitchen waste so fast. I thought the supply we had would last until spring, but by carefully cutting up all the odd-sized shapes we had, I was able to pack enough in each week that the pile has almost disappeared.

The 9' satellite antenna tower and 5' tripod with weather station on a section of mast were moved out to the patio area yesterday, and just getting those two items out made a huge difference in what the garage looks like.

Tonight I'll move some more things around, trundle some more boxes of "Workshop Items and Supplies" down to the basement, and "her side" of the garage will be ready for use.

And I sent in a new request for quotation to Reliable Carriers to get the Supra shipped out here. When we first got here I checked out prices for shipping the car and they went from a low of $900 to get it here on an open carrier, up to $1300~$1400 for fully enclosed shipping. The more expensive places have quicker delivery times (3~5 days vs "up to two weeks"), have sterling reputations, and better customer service, so I'm going to bite the bullet and pony up for Reliable to do it. If you watch any of the car shows, you'll see that if they don't have their own enclosed trailer, or have a lot of vehicles to go from "A" to "B" and are on a tight schedule, the high-end auto places will almost always call Reliable. I see Mecum, the people who run large auctions, has also started a custom auto transport service.

I've come this far, and would rather not risk getting the car messed up on an open transport of somewhat unknown reliability to save the $500. I just want to get the car here!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Still Here, Still Busy, Still Progressing

Just been too doggone busy to take pictures of it and then post them.

Materials are on hand to properly connect the new heater to the power circuit, and that will be done once the workbench is built out. The garage workbench may or may not get built at the same time. They'll be very similar in construction, and if the carpenter is looking for work, he might cut me a deal on a "two at once" project. I'm also surfing the web collecting pictures of what other Hams have built as custom operating desks / station consoles, and when I find a bunch I like, I'll go over them with the carpenter and we'll design something sturdy, easy to build, with plenty of access to the rear of the equipment for cable runs, etc.

Still examining how the doofus slammed the ventilator fan into the ceiling in the wife's bathroom. Looks like I'll have to carefully unbend all the mangled metal, pull out what I can, and see what I can build out of the pile of junk that comes out of there. Probably wind up buying another complete fan unit so I can piece together something that works.

Wife likes "her" redone bathroom other than the fan grille not sitting straight and flush....

Here's what it looked like:




Popping the cover off shows what a bash job they did:



This is typical of most everything the previous owners, or their agents, touched or tried to "upgrade".


We have a dozen or so of these expert spackle jobs all over the house:






Instead of using the minimum amount of spackle, they troweled it on with a putty knife and spread it around, making no attempt to repair the texture coat before painting over it.

But we got a lighted water stream in my bathroom sink:



What were they thinking?


Still cleaning up the downstairs storage area, a.k.a. "The Bunker". I'm calling it that because three walls of it are the poured concrete foundation of the house, and it's tucked back into a corner of the foundation such that it would be a pretty safe place to ride out really bad weather.

And it's well stocked with stuff......

Finally bought all the replacement hardware to repair the two sets of "Bi-Fold Closet Doors" that are sitting on the floor of the downstairs bedroom. They were stashed in The Bunker, and I figured out what they were for during one of the FIVE trips we made here with our agent. That will free up the floor space where the doors are laying, and get them back where they belong, making the room look more finished, and giving me more room to store stuff there.

And I'm proud to say ALL the damn curtain rods my wife wanted hung are hung, and the curtains are on them. And I replaced the broken bottom door guide assembly at the bottom of the sliding closet doors in the grandson's room, along with bolting all the covers on the baseboard heater in that room.

And finally, the garage is looking like, well.....a GARAGE after serving as a staging area / storage facility for the last 75 days. The fourth storage rack has been built and loaded with things, and the tower is scheduled to get pulled out of there tomorrow, along with the Davis weather station on the tripod. As of tomorrow we could fit both the wife's little Elantra AND the Supra in the garage, and still have plenty of room to move around and sort the items still remaining in the garage. I'm just going to load everything on "my" side of the garage so we have plenty of room to do a "Fit Check" to see where the best place is to park her car. She's never lived in a place where she can park her car inside, and her backing-up skills aren't the best, so I'm going to make her target such that the car will come straight into to garage, and stop short, with the rear bumper a foot or so from the roll-up door. Then as she gets proficient in using a garage, we can move the target inside further. She's scraped the side of her car a couple of times when backing up, but it was always in a parking lot. This time if she scrapes the side of the car, it will be against the new tracks for the garage door, meaning not only a trip to the body shop, but some roll-up door repair, too.....

Supposed to be near 50* on Sunday, so it looks like about 30% (by volume) of the stuff in the garage will get cleaned out then.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Hope you all made it to this side of the calendar. Got busy farting around the house doing some little 'nothing' jobs, but things that needed fixin'. Had to re-fix a cabinet door I 'fixed' last night crawling around adjusting hinges and replacing woefully undersized attaching hardware where the fixed side of the hinge screws into the cabinet frame. Pix to follow on that one!

And still sorting stuff in the garage into "garage" and "radio/workshop" piles. I'm at the point where tomorrow will require some major work on The Great Cardboard Pile so I can clear some space. It's going to be in the high 40's to low 50's towards the end of the week, so the semi-portable satellite antenna tower, AND the Davis weather station on a 5' tripod will get moved outside to the back patio area. BTW.....the pair of "rechargeable" alkaline AA batteries in the new little weather station finally went casters up. I'll try reviving them with a charger specifically made for that battery chemistry and see how long they last. The "Lo TX" battery symbol came on last week, and the other day I noticed that there wasn't any data from the remote sensors. There's a solar cell about 2"x2" on the sensor suite, but I wonder if that's enough to RELIABLY charge a pair of AA batteries. I really wanted to like this little weather station, but it's really piling up the "minuses" compared to the "pluses".

Tuesday we're going to see the new "Jumanji" movie, having watched the original Robin Williams version on New Year's Eve to prime us for it. I'm guessing it'll be a little throw-away "Holiday Movie", but The Rock usually puts on a good performance.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bathroom Update and Basement Work Continues

I had totally forgotten that my wife had a bathroom scheduled for a "Rebath" appointment. The upstairs bathrooms are one of the things we don't care for in the house, but who ever looks at dimensions of the bathrooms when they go house shopping? I can stand in "my" bathroom, put one hand on the wall to my left, and my other hand can touch the wall of the shower. The tub/toilet area in both upstairs bathrooms is only about 6' wide, and it gets a bit cramped in there trying to towel off. My has commandeered the hallway bathroom as "hers", as the sink/vanity area is much larger, and the vanity in that bathroom has drawers, where mine is a cabinet that the sink sits on top of, with a much smaller mirror.

Both upstairs bathrooms have a separate area with the sink and mirror, and a second area with the tub/shower and toilet in it. The sink/mirror vanity area is separated from the tub/toilet area by a door, and the hallway bathroom also has a door leading to the sink/mirror/vanity.

The master bedroom has a doorway leading to the vanity, and then a door to close off the tub/toilet area.

Both bathrooms have/had a multi-piece plastic tub/shower insert of 1980's design, and while they were still in very good, usable, "leak free" condition, the plastic they were molded from is yellowing, and the insert was wider than it needed to be, reducing the space between tub and toilet even further.

The plans for my bathroom include a new tub/shower, removing the wall between the tub area and vanity area, and relocating the door separating the two to the wall that separates the vanity area from the bedroom, and relocating the door to my wife's walk-in closet from the vanity area to the blank wall nearest my side of the bed. That job has an estimated cost (at this time) of $15k~$20k, but it's a major redo, involving plumbing, framing, drywall, tile, and probably a host of other things we haven't thought about.

In the meantime, here's what a $6k "Rebath" gets you. BTW...the guys that did the work were superb, again. Every single thing we've done since we bought the house has been attended to by superbly skilled, friendly, hard-working guys (no gals yet, but Chainsaw Mama will right that wrong when she comes to carve the tree trunk!), who show up on time, or early, do very good work, clean up when they're done, are done when they say they'll be done, and the quoted price is honored even though they might hit a snag which requires more materials or labor. The "Rebath" guys banged a wall moving some things upstairs, but they patched the wall, retextured it, and repainted the spot.

And I can't tell where they fixed the ding in the wall........

Before, from my wife's cellphone:








Next, down to the studs:





The installation guys commented that tub/shower insert was "Home Owner Grade", saying it came from Home Depot, or whoever turned in to Home Depot.

They said it was a first-class installation, and showed NO signs of leakage on the supply or drain connections, and there was NO sign of mold/mildew/brown25 or other biological activity. They sprayed some stuff anyway, "Just-In-Case", and then hung the new drywall.



After which they installed the new tub.





I was out running errands and fixing other stuff (more on that later...), but I saw them bring in the precut sections of acrylic "tile" so it could sit overnite and stabilize, and the next morning they'd do any finish cuts, and glue it up, install some extras, and be done.

I was out and about during that time, but here's the finished result.





I thought I took some pix of the new fixtures and stuff, but guess not. The first time I pulled open the shower curtain (cue 'Psycho' violins...) it struck me as....uh....."Bold"? But the more I see it, the more I get used to it. It's kind of a marble-like look, from the top of the new, bigger tub to the ceiling, and the cut-to-size panels are held on with 3M structural adhesive and sealed at the seams with silicone calk.

And yup...we paid extra for the grab bars. Might need them some day.......

And that pesky 96" baseboard heater standing in the way of construction? Meet his new 72" replacement.



Fits much nicer in the footprint of the workbench I want, and puts out as many BTU's as the old one that was in there.

I had been hoping the power feed was on the right hand side of the heater, as that's where the main wire chase that runs under the house goes, but nope. It was fed from the left hand side, as you can see by the wire coming through the paneling.



And of course, there's ZERO detectable slack in that cable. So, I'll get a surface mount box, some cable bushings and properly rated cordage, and a good terminal strip to tie it together. One cable clamp type bushing in the heater, connect the ground, connect the feed to the element, and test it. The AC line voltage measured 238.5 Volts, and the heater draws 6.3 Amps at the voltage. The house has "240V, 150A Service", which I think is a bit "light". I haven't investigated the cost to upgrade the disconnect, wiring, new panel and additional breakers so it would be 240V, 200A Service, with a couple of extra breaker slots in the panel for a 240V outlet in the radio room.

And today I installed the last of the damn curtain rods, and crawled around on the kitchen floor repairing and adjusting those damn "EuroTRASH" cabinet hinges. I had an Epiphany about adjusting them the other day, and it proved itself when I walked up to one cold, sized it up, asked my wife what was wrong with it, and made the adjustments with her watching, and that set of cabinet doors closed perfectly. So now I guess I grok EuroStyle hinges. I find it to be somewhat similar to the euphoria I felt when my Rochester Quadrajet experiments proved themselves on the street, strip, and track.

I need to make still another Home Depot. Some of the people there know me by sight and say hi.....another thing about living here that my wife is finally getting used to.

Tomorrow I'll post some general gripes, bitches, and moans about the workmanship of the previous home owners, along with the pix to back it up. I'm glad my wife was helping with the hinge project tonight. She got to watch first hand one of these spring-loaded hinges when it decided to grenade, and the All-Hands-On-Deck scramble to find the missing pieces. It prompted a good discussion between us over the fact that this stuff happens Every Single Time I touch something we know the previous owners had their hands on. Her bathroom ceiling vent fan is a good example. It's half a new box BASHED TOGETHER with the old box. It's not square in the hole, and not level, either. It LOOKS bashed together.

I'll go into all that tomorrow.........

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas To All, and few updates........




First off, Merry Christmas to all!

I must have been a very good boy last year to have warranted a present as nice as living in Colorado is turning out to be.

Christmas Day we'll be at our Daughter-In-Laws brother's house for dinner in the early afternoon. This is another rural property, but quite different in character than her parent's place up at 7500'. This place is set up for ranching, and is about 40 acres of nice, flat land well North and East of Fort Collins, literally on the edge of The Great Plains. At one time it was an active ranch, and then it wasn't. Don't know the story on the property, but I'm sure I'll enjoy the location!

Update on the Weather Station - The company is aware of the solar heating effect on the main unit with the temp sensor in it, and offers a $40 upgrade to replace the cylindrical louver assembly, but I'll probably just make a little shield out of some thin aluminum.

I found a different instruction manual for the main unit in the enclosure, and was able to get a corrected barometric pressure into the console, where it "stuck", and it's now in "close enough" agreement with trusted sources, so that negative checkmark is removed.

But I still see no way to "trim" the stored calibration factors in the console for the temperatures. Yes, the display software will allow that, but the display on the little base station console is still wrong, and that bugs me.

The garage cleanup is coming along well, and I finally scored on the three Home Depot wire storage racks I wanted. AND the price was $20 per rack cheaper.



The storage and placement of items on the shelves is by no means optimized! This is just a first cut as I go through things, and sort them out. The large pile of cardboard in the immediate foreground is going to be cut down so we can drag it down to the recycling center, and when that's done it should look much better in there.

This is looking the other way, and you can see a lot of "holes" in the pile where things were. Getting rid of the YUGE cardboard pile and sorting through the remainder of this will get me enough space to store the Supra.



And things continue to progress down in the basement. The blue tape represents the critical "Hard Points" for the workbench/drawer units. Hmmmmm....that 96" baseboard heater  aint cooperating very well, is it?



Reading up on these things, they're remarkably simple. Just a big Nichrome heating element strung through there like a toaster, and a switched source of 240VAC on one end. Further reading reveals that a new "modern" unit to replace this unit can be 72" long, and just as efficient in terms of heating a room. I haven't researched those claims yet, but a 72" unit would remove all the length from the left side (because the right end is where the power comes in, and that point is fixed), and screw into the paneling just like this one does.

Problem apparently solved; I just have to source and purchase a new 72" heater, and swap it out with what's there now, then call my carpenter buddy and discuss what I'd like and what he suggests for a workbench/drawer/shelving "solution", and then build it.

While he's busy doing that, I'll be busy pestering him with questions about building the custom desk/operating position/station console on the wall to your back in the photo.

That custom build will house my new, "modern" Ham rigs, flanked on the left and right sides by the classic gear I wanted (lusted after, really...) but couldn't afford when I was a teenager. The Hallicrafters will be on the left, and the Drake gear will be to the right of the current era gear. The equipment has all been located, along with all the manuals and spare parts, and is awaiting check-out and any necessary refurbishment. Until that gets done, they'll be used as dimensional models for the construction of the station console.



And while I'm in a clean/sort/pester-the-carpenter mode, I'll have tunes to do it by.



The receiver is a "100 Watts Per Channel" Onkyo HT-R510 Home Theater receiver that I bought way back in 1999 or so. Just using it for an FM radio right now, and this will probably wind up as the garage radio, and I'll get a decent older receiver and better speakers for down here.

And as is typical of my somewhat nomadic past life, I haven't even hung my shingle out, and work is finding me, forcing me to set up a temporary "Computer MASH Unit" as my wife calls it........



This is for a family friend, and I have to unravel a Windows 10 "Update" that blew her desktop away. I remember reading something about this on the Flex Radio Systems email reflector, and it's a known, specific problem.

And we'll start showing a ton of construction articles coming up. One of the upstairs bathrooms is getting a minor remodel, and I'll grab pix of that. Then we have the basement woodwork going on, and the arrival of the Supra.

Yep, Merry Christmas to all! This is one of the best ones I've ever had!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Temporary Weather Station

And at this point, it's very temporary! Not that I'm sending it back, but because the "Sensor Suite" isn't installed in it's final position, as seen here:



And this is it turned 90*:



The anemometer cups and wind vane speak for themselves. The rectangular box off to the left side in the above picture is the rain gauge, and the vertical stack of louvers houses the brains of the thing, along with temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure sensors. The housing at the very top holds the solar cell, which charges two "AA" sized rechargeable alkaline batteries that are supposed to last for 36 months. The little brain box also houses a 915 MHz transmitter to send data to the base unit every 48 seconds.

The new toy is a Weatherwise WS-1090-SOLAR wireless weather station, and I bought it after reading the glowing reviews on eHam.net.


This is the console that sits inside:




The console is powered by three "AA" batteries said to be good for 12 months. The clock inside is radio synchronized to my neighbors over at WWVB. Somebody made a joke here a while back that being so close to WWVB would probably cause NON clock equipped stuff to try and synchronize. So far, every single device we own that has a radio synchronized clock in it has come up, and gotten a lock and was fully adjusted within 15 minutes. GOOD signal strength here, buckaroo!

I found I had to run the LCD contrast at max to get a decent viewing angle out of it. The screen is a 7" touch screen, and tapping any display area brings up a sub-menu of display choices for that parameter. And there's a USB port on the side that allows you either download the stored measurements, or communicate directly with the device, and display/store/manipulate the data provided by the Sensor Suite.

Pretty sophisticated, and pretty powerful for a $100 device.

The only complaints I recall from eHam and other sites was that the "300 foot" wireless range was a bit optimistic, and you were better off to keep the two units "Line of Sight".

One of the things I've noticed is that the temperature readings for both inside and outside don't agree with several other thermometers I have, or with the NWS and some other local Weather Underground stations.

The inside temp is always 5* higher than all the other thermometers, and the outside temp runs about 2* higher than close-by stations.

And the barometric pressure reading is consistently low.

And when the Sensor Suite is in direct sun, the indicated outdoor temperature climbs to 15* or higher than the ambient air around it.

The manual alludes to being able to calibrate the readings from the touchscreen, but I can't find any way to change the displayed value. And the weather software I used to communicate with the unit via the USB cable will allow me to set numerous offsets and scale factors, but they only apply to the displayed value in the software. The LCD screen still shows incorrect readings.

Granted, it's not my $600 Davis Instruments Weather Vue system, with genuine NIST-traceable calibration, but I'm surprised you can't make adjustments to the displayed values on the display console.

Over the last few days I've run across, and collected up, all the bits and pieces of my Davis weather station. The entire sensor suite is still on the 5' section of mast I had it on in Long Beach.

Boy......it sure would be easy to put that section of mast into the heavy-duty 5' Rohn tripod I have and set it up on the back porch.........just for a while, you know?