Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

*Finally* Got The Back Storm Door Installed

What a pain!
Since the door frame wasn't square, I had to make some shims from thin plywood I had, and then taper the shims top-to-bottom with my Dremel. Finally got the door hung square in the frame, shimmed and screwed in the "Z-Bar" outer frame, and then had to install the latch/handle mechanism. WELL.....somebody misplaced the template that came with the handle, so I spent about 45 minutes measuring everything and making some sketches. Laid out my own teplate, drilled the holes, and mounted the handle. Then I had to do some "custom fitting" to get the striker plate lined up so the latch would engage it properly, and hold the door tight to the frame.
Finished it off with a new "heavy duty" closer cylinder, and adjusted it so the door closes fast, but then slows down about 1" before it closes so it doesn't slam.
Considering the 8 or so hours I spent a couple of weeks ago trying to get the $$##%%!! thing to fit the door frame, I have about 15 hours invested in getting this thing hung and operating properly.
And one of the main reasons I bought it was it got rave reviews on the Lowe's website, with people saying they had it installed in an hour and a half........

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Night at the Range

One of my wife's best friends has been asking about taking her to the range, as she's never shot a handgun before. She's shot rifles (lever action!) and shotguns, but never a pistol. So, I gave her my 10-minute safety briefing, made sure she understood The Four Rules, and went over the operation of my wife's revolver, and when I was sure she was confident and safety-minded enough, we went out to the range.
She picked up on shooting pretty fast, but both she and my wife were having some trouble shooting the full-load 357 Magnum rounds I brought with us. I have to admit I'd never fired any of this particular load from Fiocchi in her gun, and I think I'll save the rest of them for my Marlin 1894C!
They were loud and rowdy loads in my wife's gun, BIG BOOM and a lot of muzzle flash, so I went back into the store section of the range and bought a bag of 38 Special reloads.
MUCH better for both of the ladies, and pretty soon I was headed back into the store to buy another bag of 50.
They both had a ball, were very safety-minded, and after we finished, my wife's friend was asking the counter guys about handguns. I let her try my Kimber 45ACP, but besides the fact that she has trouble loading the magazines, she didn't care for the recoil.
So, I introduced another lady to handgun shooting, and she loved it.
I also got to run about 50 rounds through my Marlin 60 autoloader 22LR, and while it cycled all the ammo I fed through it just fine, the sights are WAY off. It consistently shot high and to the left, but held very tight groups at 7, 15, and 20 yards, the limit of the indoor range. I could literally put all 14 rounds in the magazine in a 2" or smaller circle without really trying, but the circle was always high and to the left.
I'll spend some time looking into this on Sunday when I clean the guns we used tonight. I'm a little bummed, because it shows excellent potential with the tight groups, but has me scratching my head as to why it's so consistently off.
Heading out to the TRW Amateur Radio swap meet tomorrow morning to pick up some bits and pieces, and then I'm going to finish getting the $$##!!@@ new storm door hung on the back door of the house.
Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Mentor Has Passed.......


I'm really bummed.
My mentor in Electronics has passed from this mortal coil. I first met him my sophomore year in high-school (1967), when I was just a geeky kid with an Amateur Radio license, *some* knowledge of Electronics, and a lot of curiosity. I was working after school and on Saturdays for the little company he was Chief Engineer at, and when he saw me explaining Ohm's Law to one of the other high-school kids who worked there, he knew I had a better grasp on at least the basics than the other kids who worked there. I started off adjusting (and learning all the intricacies) of electrical relays, and soon he pulled me off the line to build and test solid-state prototypes for him. I continued to work there through high-school, both after school and as my summer job, until I went away to college. After college, while I was working at Fermilab, he called the house one day and wanted to know if I was available for some work at his new factory. Well, his new "factory" was a shop set up in the old veterinary office where I used to take my dog! No frills, but he had several huge orders for some control boxes, and the duds off the assembly line were piling up to the ceiling as he couldn't find anybody to troubleshoot and repair them. The people he had could test them, but if it failed, it went in the "NFG" pile. After working in the evenings and on Saturdays for a few weeks, he made me a far better offer than what Fermilab was paying me, so I went to work full-time for him. In less than two months, I had all the rejected units repaired, and taught his line people how to spot and repair the real obvious production defects, AND how to eliminate the problems on the production line that were causing the horrendous reject rate. Then I taught the brightest of the high-school kids he had working there some basic, commonsense troubleshooting theory and techniques, and his production problems basically vanished. I also drew all his schematics, made formal bills of materiel, interfaced with his parts vendors, and did all the other things you have to do to get a production line running smoothly, and maximize the throughput. He made pretty simple little boxes out of inexpensive parts, and his business took off like a bottle rocket once we had everything ironed out.
Back then, anytime you got a milkshake from a Taylor Freezer machine, or bought a Slush Puppy, your product had been made with the help of his little control boxes that ran the machine.
A year or so after that, he built a brand spanking new factory, and I helped him move all his existing stuff to the new building, and helped install and set up the wave soldering machines, and the conveyor belt process lines. I got a call from a college buddy who was now a head-hunter, and since things were running so well at the new place, I decided to leave for better offer at a medical electronics place.
I always stopped in to see how things were running everytime I went back to Joliet, but since I haven't been 'back home' since about 1991, I kinda lost track of him.
Today I received a Facebook message from one of my friends back in Joliet, and found out he passed away on January 22nd.
I owe this man a lot, as he gave me my start in my career, and always had kind words for my Mom and Dad, and always encouraged me to continue my education.
Rest easy, my friend. You touched an awful lot of people, and helped more than I can count.

Link to article in Joliet Herald News about Pete.


Gavankar, Peter G. Was born January 21, 1938, in Kolhapur, India, a city located in the southwest corner of Maharashtra. He passed away January 22, 2012 after a brief battle with cancer. He arrived in the United States in 1960 with only eight dollars, one suit and a scholarship to study electrical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. After graduating in 1963, he moved to Joliet, IL where he founded Rockdale Controls, Inc., the company he ran for 42 years. Peter's innovations at Rockdale were numerous, including developing the controls for soft-serve ice cream machines, Mr. Coffee and a "Classified" item for NASA's Gemini project. Peter was artistic, as well as innovative. In 1963, he produced an Indian/Latin fusion album with his childhood friend and Bolllywood composer, R.D. Burman. Peter was proud to be a U.S. Citizen and often called his birth in India a geographical error. On the 50th anniversary of his arrival, he was honored by the U.S. senate by having a flag fly over the U.S. Capitol. Peter achieved the American Dream and called his two daughters, Sonya Gavankar-McKay (Malcolm) and Janina Gavankar, his best inventions. In addition to his daughters, he is survived by his mother, Susheela Gavankar; his wife of 40 years, Mohra Shahane Gavankar; brother, Raja Gavankar (Monica) and sisters, Kirti Rege (Promod); Nilu Gavankar and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 28, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Caterpillar Room at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa Street, Joliet, IL 60432. Arrangements were entrusted to Woodlawn Funeral Home. Online obituary at: www.woodlawnfunerals.com Woodlawn Funeral Home 3201 W. Jefferson Street Joliet, IL 60431 815-725-0100
Published in Herald News on January 25, 2012

The REAL State of the Union

Go over to Sultan's place and read it.
I'd be laughing if it wasn't so true......

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Surviving Technology" by Bruce Vaughn, NR5Q

One of the things I like best about reading my "Electric Radio" magazine are the columns by Bruce Vaughn, NR5Q. Bruce grew up in Springdale, Arkansas, a child of The Depression. His stories tell of his childhood, and the friends that got him interested in Amateur Radio, on through his service in the Army Air Corps, and his civilian life after the war when he opened "Bruce's Radio Shop". He covers the Golden Days of radio, the appearance of Television, and all the interesting people and characters he met dealing with the public. And he's also a Master Hombrew Artist. His radios are truly works of art, with performance to match.
I'd always thought it would be really cool if all his columns were printed in a dedicate book, and now it's come to pass.
The book is 224 pages, and is available from "Electric Radio" for the bargain price of $24.95.
I've never met, or corresponded with, Bruce, but from reading his columns, I feel as if I've known him for a long time.
If you enjoy reading about "Olde Tyme Radio", and like seeing the craftsmanship that goes into the sets he builds, get a copy of this book. You'll love it!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Any Cold Remedies?

Been kinda out of it the last few days. My wife had a cold early last week, and it clobbered me Thursday. Stayed home from work Friday, missed my radio club meeting (*I* was supposed to be the speaker), and _barely_ made it up to the SoCal Linux Expo today.
Barely ate any dinner, 'cuz nothing tastes good, or tastes at all.
Major case of the "Blah-Yukkies", which I think is a new disease I just invented.
Guess I'll take some NyQuil, have some chicken soup and crackers, and hit they hay....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Marlin 60 At Home!

And my lovely wife has pronounced it both "cute" and "beautiful".
I probably won't get to shoot it until next weekend, as I have a full plate this weekend.
Friday night I'm giving a presentation on "DSP For Dummies" at my radio club meeting, and Saturday I'm headed to the Southern California Linux Exposition.
Sunday I'm cleaning my handguns, as one of my wife's best friends wants to go shooting at the range next weekend. She grew up shooting rifles, but has never fired a handgun ( ! ).
And yes, I'll give them both a drill on The Four Rules!
I see FedEx has delivered an accessory I ordered for the Marlin, a speed loader for 22LR tube magazine rifles.
I'll do a mini-review on the rifle and the Spee-D-Loader after I've had a chance to try them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

PC and Homeowner Madness Weekend!

Well, I got a new PC built for a friend, and did some major upgrades to the box I use for Audio/Video editing. That one got a new Core 2 Extreme Quad CPU, and an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional. I also swapped out the two DVD burners I had in the, as they were both IDE interfaces. The new ones are SATA-III interfaces, and in place of one of the DVD burners, I plugged in a shiny new Blu-Ray burner, along with the specialized software for that. I did a clean install after I formatted the drive, as I've never tried to use an "upgrade" version of Windows. I then upgraded all my Adobe software to CS 5.5, and installed the latest software for my Matrox RT.X2 Professional video capture device.
What makes it "Professional" compared to a "Consumer" video capture device? Well, for one thing, it can record 1080i via a component video input, or 1080p through the IEEE-1394 "Firewire" port. And secondly, it plugs into a PCI Express slot on the motherboard where most consumer-grade video capture device connect to the PC with USB.
I'll have to open one of my archived Adobe Premiere Pro projects and run it through the newly rebuilt system to see how it performs. I'm not sure if the video quality will be any "better", but I'm sure it will do the transcoding to DVD format much faster.
In the meantime, the wife and I went to Lowe's to (finally!) get the two doors I was going to replace over my Christmas break. The new exterior door for the garage is sitting in the garage, but the storm door we bought to replace the screen door that disintegrated is another matter! I not only measured twice (THREE times, actually, and wrote it all down after I had the wife check my measurements) and cut once, and it just will NOT fit the opening.
BUMMER MAJOR!
The height is damn near perfect after a bit of trimming, planing, and sanding, but the width is about 3/4" TOO SMALL. So, I'm going to have to take off the "hinge rails" where it hangs on the left side of the door frame, and shim them out a little less than 3/8", and add the same amount to the right side of the frame before I screw the matching "latch rail" to the door frame.
It's funny, but all the reviews on the Lowe's website raved about how easy it was to hang an adjust this door. The fastest time was 1.5 hours, and the longest was 2.5 hours.
I spent FOUR hours on it, didn't get it installed, and used up most of my "colorful" vocabulary while fighting with it.
Oh, well....at least I know how to correct it, so back to the Home Improvement center tomorrow to try and find some suitable wood strips to make shim strips out of.
Hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blogger Weirdness

Hmm....can't seem to reply to comments posted here.
Restarted Firefox, rebooted PC, blah, blah, blah.....
Wonder if they changed something in the template I'm using, and broke it?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ahhhh....Life Is Good.....

My darling wife is in the kitchen baking some cookies (why does cookie dough taste so good?), I'm building a new PC for a friend, the dogs are snoozing at the foot of the couch, and The Military Channel is on gently in the background.
Hope you all have a pleasant weekend!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"System D", The Market Of The Future?

Very interesting article in "Wired" magazine this month about the world-wide, off-the-books, underground economy.
And I don't mean just the knock-off things like CD's and software.
Go here to read it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Sights For My Remington 870











Although I'm not sure I like them.....
First, I had to take off my Side-Saddle, and if there's ONE thing they really drilled into us during Tactical Shotgun I & II, it's that you GOTTA keep the thing FED!
Shotguns have a devastating amount of power and speed, but they go through ammo like nobody's business. Even though I wore cargo pants during the drills, and had my pockets stuffed full of shells, there were still times I needed the extra six shells the Side-Saddle provided. And it was a good place to keep slugs so that when we did the "Select-A-Slug" drills, they were right there, separate from the other ammo I had on me.
The rail device I added is a UTG "M87 Shotgun Tactical Mount", and it's made very well. It's notched along the top of the rail, supposedly so you can use your existing front sight, but I think at any distance beyond across-the-room, it would throw your aim point off. I'll try it at the range with the sight removed to see if I'm right.
And it sticks up far enough that I can look under it, and use the flat on top of the receiver, and the front bead sight, just like I'm used to using.
The first sight I put on it was a another UTG product, their SCP-DS3039W Red/Green Dot sight. I'm not sure if this is a "proper" sight for a shotgun, as it seems to have a more restricted field-of-view, but it was a good price, about $50.
The next sight I put on it was an "NcStar D4B 4 Reticle Reflex Sight" that I got on eBay for about $50.
This is more to my liking, as it's more "open", and I think target acquisition would be faster.
The problem as I see it now is that BOTH of these sights stick up really far compared to using the flat on the receiver and the front bead sight, and when I bring the gun to my shoulder and get a good plant on it, I've got to really look up to use them.
I won't know how badly this messes up the way I've been trained to use the gun, and I hope I can relearn sighting it properly, as I think almost anything is better than the "sights" the 870 comes with!
If I don't like / can't adjust to using these, I'll pull them off, drill and tap the top of the receiver, and get some ghost ring sights for it.
And yes, that poor guy *is* rusty! I had no idea it had that much surface rust on it until I looked at the flash pictures.
I'm embarrassed that I let it get that bad. I guess that what happens when I keep it in the bedroom, and the window is open at night.
Guess I'll get to learn about rebluing "Real Soon Now"!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Toy On Order.....


Well, the last time my son and I went to the rifle range, we met a very interesting guy. He was at the position next to us, and was shooting a beautiful M1 Garand. I asked him where he got it, and it turns out it was one of the CMP "Select Grade" rifles. It was originally made in 1940, but had been completely Arsenal Refurbished, with all select grade parts, new wood, and looked like it just came out-of-the-box.
It was beautiful!
I told him I was interesting in getting into the CMP program, and he gave me a bunch of flyers, explained the entire program to me, and then told me about the Appleseed Project.
Since they go through so much ammo during the two day program, he said they strongly encourage people to use a 22, although you can use a different rifle if you have one.
Since this is basic training, I figured I go with a low-recoil 22 auto-loader, and hopefully "unlearn" any bad habits I may have picked up over the years. I've had a LOT of pistol training over the last 5 years or so, but getting proper rifle training is something I just haven't done....YET!
So, I ordered a little Marlin 60, which should be here in a few days. It'll be delivered to the indoor range I buy all my guns through, so even though I have to wait the 10-day period, I can at least fondle it a bit, and shoot it if I want.