Monday, September 16, 2019

Supra "Timing Cover #3" Refurb OOOOPS! Annnnnd Homemade BREAD!

I saw this coming last night when I started applying the first color coat to the "DOHC" lettering.

The wrinkle finish on the cover came out pretty well:



BUT (always one of them hanging around somewhere...) I noticed the paint wasn't brushing out very nicely, and it struck me that I didn't take the paint off the letters, and the very rough surface was making the painted letters look a bit weird, like the paint had crazed:



So now I'll have to carefully scrape the paint off the letters, leaving them with a flat surface so the gloss paint flows out and looks good. This wasn't a problem with the cam cover lettering as I'd block sanding the paint off the ribs and lettering, giving me a flat surface to brush the paint on to.

Oh, well, live and learn, and DON'T get in a hurry!

And with the weather cooling off (gonna have lows in the low 40's this week), thoughts turn to firing up the oven, and making some bread. There's little that beats the smell of fresh baking bread on a cool day. I used to "help" my Mom bake bread all the time when I was little (I was the "Punch Down" guy!), along with "helping" her make rolls, biscuits, cookies, and many other home-baked goodies. I used to be a pretty good cook, with a few specialty items like chili, spaghetti sauce, and of course burgers and steaks.

So now I'm on the hunt for good bread recipes. I bought some yeast, and it's in the fridge, and we have everything else I need to make "basic bread", but I'm thinking of maybe trying some rye bread, or a 'peasant bread' made with a coarser flour.

So I'm off to the InterWebz to see what I can find for bread recipes.

I'm sure there's thousands of them out there.....

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Supra "Timing Cover #3" Refurbishment

When we last saw our intrepid hero, he was praising his Sweet Little Wife (hmmm...might start an acronym page like the guys at the Chant) for letting him clean parts in the kitchen sink.....

Today's episode takes us deeper into the refurbishment of "Timing Cover #3" on my '85 Supra.

After the cover dried, I started doing the final cleaning of it to get it ready for paint. It's going to be 85* and sunny this weekend, which is perfect weather for wrinkle painting stuff. It was pretty clean after the bath I gave it last night, but still had some crud in a few of the recessed areas, and in places around the edges where my scrub brush didn't reach, so I cleaned all those areas using my Secret Sauce, Spray-Bottle Version (Windex with ammonia-D and about 30% denatured alcohol), and some other solvent for the greasy bits that were hiding.

In the process of cleaning it, I noticed a bunch of unsightly 'casting flash' from when it was injection-molded 30-odd years ago. Besides leaving sharp edges that can slice your hands when working on it, it's ugly, and has to go. I got out my trusty X-Acto knife with a new blade, and trimmed/scraped the flash off, then followed that with some 600 grit sandpaper on the edges to smooth them out nicely.

Yes, indeed you do detect some Mission Creep setting in, as usual with all my projects. This one doesn't have much, though.....

So after taking care of all the rough edges, and smoothly blending them in, I noticed that the plastic had retained much of it's gloss (hey, it's clean!), and since that's a Bad Thing when it comes to paint adhesion, I scuffed it up with some 600 grit that was already in the sanding block. Then I dusted it off, wiped it down with some brake cleaner, and set it aside while I did some other things.

Then I noticed (man, I'm really observant these days...) that it wasn't "flat", and had some low spots. Even though the wrinkle paint is quite thick, and easily fills in things like sanding scratches, it ain't that thick, and the low areas would likely show up after the paint cures.

So I block sanded the entire thing.

Is it 100% "flat" now? No, but then it's not going to Pebble Beach, either. Which is actually moot, because they'd take points off for it not being 100% OEM.

That aside, it's plenty flat, almost all the gloss is gone, and I'm just waiting for the weather to heat up to paint it. I'll bust any remaining gloss with a Scotch-Brite pad, wipe it down, and shoot the wrinkle paint on Saturday.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

God Bless My Sweet Little Wife

For letting me do Guy Things, like clean parts in the kitchen sink:




No, I didn't drag an oily, greasy front cover in from the garage!

I cleaned as much of the road grime and oil deposits off of it as I could out in the garage. Since this is a plastic part, it has to be really clean or the paint won't bond properly to it. Warm water and dish soap are excellent at getting off any remaining oils, and it fits in the kitchen sink nicely.

I'll check it again after it dries overnight, and spot clean any remaining deposits with brake cleaner, which doesn't leave any residue. We'll be getting a few days of nice, warm, sunny weather, so I'll get it wrinkle painted and baked out.

And the wiper arms are finished!



Time to reassemble them, bag them, and put them on the shelf until needed, after the windshield replacement.

And after carefully inspecting the second coat of color under a strong light, I find I have a few 'light spots' where the paint looks "shadowed", so they need another coat.



Just about have the NLE software I'm using to edit the Rist Canyon video figured out after trying a few versions. I did all my "work" using Adobe Premiere Pro, and these are all laid out differently, and function a bit differently than I'm used to. The same thing happened when I switched between Photoshop and GIMP.

I'm too lazy to drag out and set up the audio/video editing PC I have down in the basement, so time to get used to using Linux software again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

9-11

This says it better than I can.





Saturday, September 7, 2019

2019 Rist Canyon Mountain Festival

Our DIL was running a bit late from an appointment, so we didn't meet up with them until 1100. They live at the junction of Hwy 287 and Rist Canyon Road, so once we got to their place we were already about half-way there.

And yes, I had a camera with me!

I took my GoPro, as I want to get to learn how to use it and set it up for what I consider to be "Good Video". I'd already set the power button in "One Button" mode, which means it starts recording as soon as you power it on, and set the video to 1080p, 60Hz frame rate. I might cut that back to a 30Hz frame rate to save on storage a bit.

Unfortunately, I used the default Field-Of-View, which is "Wide", and while that's great for panoramic shots, the people look faaaar away in the video, and there's a bit of "Fisheye Lens" distortion at the edges of the frames. I just set it to "Medium", and I'll shoot some video in both settings tomorrow to see how it compares.

ANYWHOO....got the video off the camera and on this PC, and installed some FOSS software for video editing, and I'm currently editing the video "for publication" here on the InterWebz.

The weather was gorgeous, partly sunny and around 75*, with nice breezes coming down the canyon. And really dry at 7200', where the RCVFD Fire Station is located.

We had hay rides, got to watch a K9 demonstration with the Larimer County Sheriffs guys, and The Little Guy got to sit in a Life Flight helicopter, go to the petting zoo, and look at FIRE TRUCKS!

We got to meet (and thank) the Firefighters, EMT's, and Paramedics, as well as the Larimer County Sheriff's Deputies. The Colorado State Forestry people were there, and I brought home some hand-outs on the management practices here, which are very different from those in Kalifornia!

Lots of local vendors for food and artsy stuff, and live music. The "Dunk The Firefighter" tank was doing a good business, as were the vendors.

And we brought home these two little guys:




The picture of the little Trash Panda didn't come out very well, and it's not evident he's almost free-standing in a hollowed out aspen log.

The cool thing about the bear cub is if I'm having a Bad Day In The Radio Room, I can flip his sign over:



So we had another great time at a local community event, gave some minor support to a worthy organization directly and via the vendors.

And I'll try and get some video up on Sunday. I really want to learn how to use the camera before the next time I get to see UP 4014, the Big Boy!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Cam Cover Progress

Now that the clear on the cam covers has cured for a couple of weeks, with several multi-hour sessions in full sunlight, I put the first coat of color on the lettering.



It's been 20-odd years or so since I did any detail work like this, but as I spent many, many years building model cars and airplanes, the brush strokes and such came back after some practice on a scrap of aluminum.

I have to give it another coat after this coat cures and shrinks a bit, then I'll let the enamel color cure for a while, mask off the rest of the cover, and give the lettering a few light coats of high-temp clear to seal it on there.

Got the GoPro out, the batteries charged, and set it up for "One Button" recording. I upgraded the firmware in it a day or so before I made the attempt to record Big Boy 4014 go by, but didn't think to check if a firmware upgrade set everything back to the defaults (it does, and I should have known better), so when I used like I had before, it didn't record.

OOPS!

So I'll have at least one camera with me tomorrow for the Rist Canyon Mountain Festival!

More on that tomorrow.....

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association Gets A New Flag

Actually, it's our first flag, and the members donated the funds.




Yay guys! Even though I'm 1100 miles away, I still take part by helping electronically when I can.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Summer's End.....Neighborhood Update.....

Well, all the neighborhood kiddies are back in school, and CSU had the first football game of the year.

Yeah, they lost. 52 to 31. I was listening to it a bit on the radio, and at 3 or 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter when it was 31-28 in favor of the other team, and the Rams QB had a receiver *WIDE OPEN*, and overthrew the ball by about 10 yards.....

I figured they'd never recover, and was right.

Oh well....I'm not a big sports fan, but it would be nice to see the 'hometown team' win one.

I'm a Cubs fan, so losing games is no big thing to me.....

And the community pool has now closed for the year. It's a nice pool, clean, well-maintained, and a good place for all the young families here to take their kids.

There were two house for sale about a block from here, and they both sold relatively fast for here, i.e., less than 30 days on the market. Nice places, well-kept, and "properly priced" for sale.  I noticed a U-Haul truck and trailer there unloading things the other day, so I figured it was the new owners. Looked like a young couple, which is typical for here as the original owners of a lot of houses here are selling and down-sizing.

WELL.....They had a party the other night, and by 2145 it was obvious that nobody over there was feeling any pain.

By 2200 they were getting louder, and around 2215 I was starting to wonder about a non-emergency number for the local PD.

About 2220 I stepped out the back door to take a gander at what was going on as it was starting to get LOUD, and low and behold......Red and Blue Flashing Lights! The PD was there, and it took about 15 minutes for things to shut down, and all the people leave. No idea if they were waiting around the corner to hand out DUI tickets for those leaving.

And it's our second day of "record breaking" temperatures. It hit and held 100* for a couple of hours today, and as of 1630 it's down to 94*. The humidity was down around 8%, but it's coming up a bit as things cool off. Supposed to be a mild cold front moving through Tuesday night, which should break this current round of unseasonably warm weather.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Good Visit with My Son

We had a very pleasant time the few days he was here. He got in Tuesday night, after spending Monday night in Richland, UT, and left late this morning. He took the "Northern Route" to get here, going through Salt lake City, and then to Cheyenne, then South to here.

He's planning on taking the "Southern Route" to get back to Lost Angeleez, going South on I-25 to Albuquerque, then West through Arizona, and back to Kaliforniastan.

He's seriously considering stopping in Winslow, AZ to visit the "Standin' On The Corner" park 'just because'.

Hey, we stopped at the "Arne's Royal Hawaiian Motel" in Baker, CA on my move here 'just because' we'd both seen it on "Roadkill", so why not? I'm glad he's getting to see some of the Southwestern United States, as he's never taken a solo cross-country trip like this before. He's never driven this much, and says the next time he drives here he'll be pulling a trailer with all his stuff in it.

Wednesday we took a scenic drive, and stopped for lunch at the Mishawaka, a local hangout in Poudre Canyon for around 100 years. Thursday we did some runnin around stuff (nice to have a relative with a pick-up truck!), and then went up to The Kid's Place in Laporte so he could hang with his nephew for a while. Friday we went up to the Cheyenne Depot Museum (GREAT place!), and then to the local "Mongolian BBQ" with The Kids for a nice dinner. I've finally figured out which and how much of the 'special sauces' to put on my food before giving it to the cook to be grilled.

So we had fun hanging out in the garage, and going to a few local things we thought he might enjoy.

He'd really like to get out of L.A. and move here, and I know getting out of that pressure cooker would be a Very Good Thing for him.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Busy...Light Posting

My son came out from SoCal for a few days, so I'll be tied up doing things with him.

He drove out here, arriving Tuesday night, and he's headed back Saturday morning. We spent yesterday just goofing off and doing running around stuff, and today we're doing the "Scenic Drive" thing, heading up Rist Canyon Road to Stove Prairie Road, then over to Colorado 14, and down Poudre Conyon, stopping at The Mishawaka for a late lunch.

The Kids are bring The Little Guy by tonight, and Friday night we're all going out for dinner.

Be back on the flip side....

Monday, August 26, 2019

Rist Canyon Mountain Festival 7 September 2019

Every time I've driven my favorite "Scenic Route" I go past the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department buildings. The RCVFD is 100% volunteer, and 100% self-supporting.

A year before we came out here the first time the was the second largest fire in Colorado history, the High Park Fire. It was caused by a lightning strike in a meadow, about 100 acres or so, but three hours later it had spread to 3000 acres, and was accelerating. It burned for three weeks before it was considered 100% contained, destroyed about 260 homes, along with other structures, and killed one person. This was the fire where our in-laws lost 3 of their four houses, along with the "big" shop, and most of their construction equipment. Their main house, "The Homestead", survived with some minor scorching.

The video below gives a pretty good recap:



Even though numerous agencies were involved, the RCVFD and the Poudre Fire Authority led the charge.

And they did a magnificent job, as the video described.

So, when I was flipping through the "Local Activities" section of my new AAA magazine, I saw that the RCVFD is having their annual fund raiser, the Rist Canyon Mountain Festival, and you betcha' we're going!

And we're taking The Little Guy. The only thing that gets him more excited than a green-and-yellow tractor or red "Race Car" is a FIRE TRUCK, and there's going to be a whole bunch of them!

And I'm going to sleep with my camera so I don't forget it.

If you're in the area on September 7th and have the time, swing on by and support these guys. We've been going to more of these community events since we got all settled in, and we're lovin' every minute of it.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Supra Cam Cover Refinishing

As one of the myriad tasks I have working on my "Project Car" is refinishing the cam covers (aka "Valve Covers") so the engine doesn't look so ratty when the hood is open.




These are the cam covers the car was born with. 30+ years of heat and oil/road vapors have caused the paint to lift, exposing the aluminum.

Some time ago I bought a set from a forum member, and they had ZERO paint on them, and really heavy oil and varnish deposits on them. I stripped the oil and varnish off using paint stripper, and then washed them with solvent. Well, I didn't clean the outside surfaces properly, and the remaining oil caused "fisheyes" in the paint.

See all the little "dots" in the paint? Those are "fisheyes". Since I have another set of covers (the ones still on the engine), I'm just going to roll with these for now, and do a much better job on my original covers after I take them off the engine to install these.




I mounted the covers to a length of 2x4 I had laying around, and clamped the 2x4 to my work table. Then I put a sheet of 100-grit paper in my little orbital sander, and carefully, gently, slooowly took the paint of the ribs and lettering. You want to keep nice, even pressure on the sander as you move it from one side to the other. Don't bear down on it, or you can gouge the aluminum casting, and/or make low spots, which won't look very nice when you're finished. Like Dad always said, "Let The Tool Do The Work".

This is after 15 minutes or so of easy sanding.




Then I vacuum them off, and block sand them with 220 grit, followed by 600 grit. Sand ONLY in one direction, "long ways" on these, to give you a nice, uniform "brushed" finish on the ribs and lettering. Blocking them like this gets them nice and flat. The 220 gets out 95% of the marks left by the 100 grit in the orbital sander, and the 600 gives a nice satin/brushed finish.




Nice and FLAT with square edges.




Makes the lettering really stand out.



This is after 2 light coast, and one 'medium heavy' coat, 10 minutes apart, using VHT High Temperature Clear Engine Enamel, "With Ceramic!!".

Whatever.....




After the clear coat cures for at least 48 hours I'll paint the lettering with some Testor's "Model Master" enamel, let that cure, and then clear coat the lettering to seal it down.

And then I did the same with the cam cover for the intake side of the engine. This side doesn't have any lettering, so it's basically finished and ready to install after the clear coat cures. The can says "48 Hours", but I've always had better luck with waiting AT LEAST a week, or 168 hours. Putting them out in the sun after they've dried to the touch and aren't tacky any longer is also a good thing to do. It's going to be warm and sunny tomorrow, so I'll put them out in the sun for a few hours. Lat summer they got up to over 140* sitting in the sun, and that really helped the wrinkle paint cure.






And then I painted my passenger side outside mirror housing. It still needs some more paint, but I'm a stickler for following the drying times printed on the can, so it won't get any more paint for 24 hours.

Anyway....one more mundane item crossed off the list for the Supra.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Finally Friday!

Not that it matters much to an Old Retired Guy, to who everyday is Saturday.....

Had a very pleasant visit with my friends Cap'n Bob & the Damsel on Wednesday as they stopped in to see us as they traveled down the Front Range to Fort Morgan, Limon, and Pueblo.



Too short a visit, and they missed meeting my sweet little wife, who was a bit under the weather from some minor surgery, but it's always good to connect with old friends.

Been "Piddle Farting" (thanks, Phil!) around on the Supra doing things like cleaning the windshield trim, wiper arms, and cowl panel so I can paint them satin black. I had to pull all that stuff off, along with some of the interior bits-and-pieces in preparation for getting the windshield replaced. Ran into a couple of small rust perforations on the cowl panel, so I had to pull the glued-on "anti-rattle" strip off the back, grind them out, patch them with some epoxy on the back, and spot putty on the front, then finish sand them, and prime them, in preparation for paint. And then I can call the glass guys to pull the windshield so I can fix a bit of rust-under-the-paint on the "A Pillars" . Once that's done, they'll come back to install the new windshield. The windshield isn't cracked or broken, but it's got 35 years of pits, scratches, and dings in it, and the tint has faded from a nice, deep blue, to that "Old Jap Car Brown" that you see on old glass. I'm pretty sure the "rust-under-the-paint" was caused by the trim rubbing through the paint in spots, and allowing water to get in there. At least I hope that's all it is, as that's a simple simple, sand-putty-prime-sand-prime-paint repair to do, and even a ham-fisted "Body Guy" like me can do a nice job on.

eBay sales are proceeding nicely, and stuff is disappearing from the basement. I'm searching hi-and-low to find the original manuals for my Drake TR-270 transceiver, and the manuals for the two options it has in it. I know I have them, and I know they're in a grey, manila envelope, but where the heck is the envelope? It's not in the filing cabinet with the other manuals, and it's not on any of the book shelves, so it's time to start going through out-of-the-way places to find them.

Monday, August 19, 2019

68 Orbits And Counting.....

Geez.....If I would have known I was going to be around this long, I would have taken better care of myself!

We're heading out for dinner this evening to the Sonny Lubick Steakhouse in Old Town. This place has become our GOTO place for a nice dinner, and the place to take family for those Special Occasions. Excellent food, wonderful service, and just an all around Nice Place. Highly recommended if you're ever in Fort Collins. We'd heard it was good, but it took us about 18 months after we moved here to get one of those circular TUITS, and go there. It was (and is) the best steak I've had since we moved here.

And speaking of meat.....







Then after we get back, I can finish packing up the FlexRadio, which is going to a new owner in Oklahoma. Unfortunately he lives "Out Where The Buses Don't Run", and that means I have to ship to his P.O. Box, and that means no FedEx or UPS, and that means a wait in line for me at the USPS. I had it packed and sealed, but considering the treatment I know it's going to receive at the hands of the .gov "employees", I'm going to add as much heavy-duty bubble wrap as I can stuff into the box before I reseal it, and add some straps of fiberglass reinforced shipping tape around the box to toughen it up a bit.

Hope y'all have a good week!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Shack Cleaning Time

Radio Shack, that is.

I'm getting tired at looking at piles of good, usable "STUFF" that I'm never going to do anything with, along with stacks of "Projects" that would either be completely useless to me these days, or impractical to use.

I really don't think I'm going to setup an EchoLink node anytime soon, so I might as well get rid of the controller kit (with the optional AGC module!), and maybe get back the postage I paid to have it shipped here!

Then there's the equipment I'm most likely never going to use again, like my Drake TR-270 VHF/UHF rig, my Yaesu FT-847 "Satellite Rig" and all the accoutrements to set up a fully-functioning *automated* Ham radio Satellite Station, along with my Kenwood TS-790 VHF/UHF/1.2GHz multi-mode transceiver, and the "Lightly Used" Kenwood TM-D710 mobile radio (with built-in TNC!) that I bought on a whim and used for a few months in the home shack.

My FlexRadio Systems 5000A is currently on eBay, and will sell, so it's outta here. It's still an extremely good radio, BUT....you have to use it with a PC, and these days, I'm just not into waiting for the PC to come up, update, and settle down, before I can turn on the radio. And since it's Windows ONLY, that would mean dragging my other PC up here, yada yada yada, and it's just not worth it.

So getting rid of this stuff now will free up some floor space and shelf space in the basement workshop, put some coin in the coffers, and save my wife the trouble of getting rid of it when the inevitable day comes.

I'm not getting any younger, and I'd hate to see the stuff just given away, or worse yet, wind up at the curb or in a dumpster.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Holy Smokes....What A Light Show!

Ye gads is there a lot of lightning tonight. From the NWS weather radar, it looks like the Greeley area is getting clobbered. As Well Seasoned Fool has told me many times, "Most of the really bad weather stays East of the I-25", and while the weather may start turning bad slightly West of I-25, it builds up really fast as it moves Eastward.



I haven't heard any thunder in a while, but wow....the sky gets lit up every 5 seconds, almost fast enough that the glow from the previous stroke hasn't completely faded.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pleasant Weather

Been cool and rainy the last day or so, a nice break from the 95* days and humid nights we were having.

I'll only mention Mr. Epstein's passing in passing. He was a scumbag in this life, and will be judged by a much higher authority than I.

So life goes on, and there's a touch of Fall in the air.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Small Victories

The little Zotac "Z-BOX" PC running the weewx software has been running rock-solid for over a week now. Even with the console located down in the basement, my Davis Vantage Pro2 has been reading 96% or better Received Signal Strength on the 900 MHz radio link. Granted it's only a packet radio burst, and it's Spread Spectrum, but considering it's 100% solar-powered, and about 100' away, and it runs something like a One Milliwatt transmitter, I'm impressed.

Success #2 is that I got "Shockwave Flash" up and running as a Firefox plug-in. Since Adobe is discontinuing support as of December 31 2020, most Linux distributions no longer include it. I'm not sure what kind of Open Source ,if any, replacements are around for it, and Adobe is "Strongly Encouraging" web designers and other developers to stop using it. Maybe they'll open the code up like other companies of orphan products have done, but since it's Adobe, I doubt it.

Then I hung some of the local metal art we bought at the Larimer County Fair on Sunday while the wife was at the Doctor's today.

Yesterday I "officially" sited where the two wood posts are going to be planted for the antennas, and cleared out the gravel and cut the anti-weed fabric that was under the gravel. I'm going to try and get the holes dug and the posts set this week. That will get the two 4x4x8' posts, and the 5 bags of concrete out of the garage, followed shortly after by the autocoupler enclosure and mounting planks. It's more than just "Pick A Spot And Plant The Post" for this. I made sure that the new holes are at least 30" from any existing set posts because I want "undisturbed earth" for the new poles, and I wanted to move the 20 meter vertical so it was at least a half-wavelength from both the house, and the steel support mast for the wire antenna. I know the house distorts the radiation pattern for the vertical (duhhhh!), and I'm sure the metal mast for the wire antenna will have some effect, but it's what I have to work with.

The important thing right now is to get the doggone posts in the ground, and get the antennas transferred to them. Winter will be here faster than I know, and I don't want to get caught flat-footed like I did last year.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Day at the Larimer County Fair

We had a blast.

The Little Guy had fun sitting on some of the tractors, going to the petting zoo, watching "Twiggy The Water Skiing Squirrel", going on some rides, playing in the bounce houses, watching the "Extreme Stunt Dogs" show, going down a BIG slide, and lots of other things.

The pix are from my wife's cell-phone because, as you just guessed, I FORGOT my camera.....again!

Most of the tractors on display were at the Greeley Farm Show a couple of weeks ago, and signs for the "Longs Peak Tractor Club" were on display.

The smoke in the background is from one of the half-dozen or more BBQ/Grilled food vendors that were there.



Here he is checking out the newest in ATV's.



He *might* grow into it....



And since there's a carnival, gotta go on some rides...




Not sure who enjoyed the slide more, TLG or Gramma.




Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy!



The Larimer County Sheriff's Department had their "Mounted Police" out, and TLG even got to pet a horse, which he had to be coaxed to do, but then laughed.

One of the things that really caught his eye, and he wanted to do but he's still too small, was a pedal-powered tractor pull. The kids would pedal like crazy, and as the little tractors dragged the sled along, the weight would move forward, making it harder and harder to pull the sled. ONE kid did a "Full Pull", and the crowd went crazy. Pretty cute to see a kid-sixed pulling sled connected to a small John Deere pedal tractor!

And there was live music with local bands. I'd never heard a country version of the BeeGees "Stayin' Alive" before, but they played it extremely well, along with other "countrified" songs, including one by Steely Dan, but I can't remember which song they played.

Oh, and country versions of Foo Fighters, Guns 'N Roses ( ! ) and several other songs I've heard on the radio, but don't know the name of the group.

Yes, food was everywhere! The winner of the fried food category (for me.....) was the Deep Fried Oreo Cookies.

No, I didn't try one. Deep fried foods and I don't play nice, so I wimped out and had a gyro salad from Kosta's, a Fort Collins favorite.

And on our way in to the fairgrounds, we signed the "Recall Jared Polis" and the "US citizens ONLY allowed to vote" petitions. The petion people were still at their posts as we left, and every single person they asked to sign said either "Sure!", "You Bet!", or "HELL YES!!", which pretty much describes how people think about Emperor Polis outside of the Big City/Elite-Only areas.

Even my wife busted up at the guy who said "HELL YES!!".

And we bought some local hang-on-the-wall 'metal art', and a few other little items from local "artisans". We'd much rather keep our money in the community for stuff like this than buy some 'Chinesium' junk from Amazon or eBay.

So all-in-all, we had a wonderful day at the fair, had some good food, saw some cool stuff, and TLG conked out *completely* on the drive home.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Headin' Out to the Larimer County Fair on Sunday

I haven't been to a "County Fair" since I was knee-high to a married grasshopper. Well, maybe a couple, but I swear I went to see the Tractor Pulls.

And yep, we're taking The Little Guy.

The Larimer County Fair is held in the same complex as the Budweiser Events Center, known around here as "The Ranch". It's in the complex where the local radio club has their yearly Hamfest/Swapmeet, so I know the shortcut to avoid getting off at Route 34, and having to go through those $$@@##!! traffic circles immediately off I-25.

In the old days they'd have called it "County Fairgrounds", but these days it's the "Larimer County Events Center".

Oh, well.....

And being that we're going on Sunday, I'm hoping it's not too crazy-crowded.

We'll just be doing the free stuff, not going to the carnival or the rodeo, and I'm sure we'll get to try some County Fair food!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

"Once Upon A Time In Hollywood".....

Well the wife and I had a nice little outing today to go see a movie, Quentin Tarantino's latest.

I don't write movie reviews unless it's about a movie I enjoyed, and this one is a good one.

It's well crafted, well cast, beautifully filmed, and has a great late 1960's soundtrack.

It basically concerns the lives of two buddies, an aging actor western/cowboy actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his best friend and stunt double, played by Brad Pitt, and what happened on the night of the Tate-LaBianca murders.

It runs a bit long, but not quite a 'bladder buster'.

If you enjoy Tarantino movies, this one is a must see.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Up and Running Solid.....For Now.....

Geez...I used to be soooo good at this stuff.

Anyway......The replacement wireless adapter is running rock-solid, the weewx software is pretty much configured the way I want after going through a few oopsies, and I cleared up a communications issue between the little PC running the software, and the Davis Instruments console. Turns out the "Archive Interval" has to be the same in the software and the console, or you get gaps in the plots that make them look pretty strange.

And after running it for a few days testing, tuning, and tweaking (the software, not me) it, I enabled the section in the "wwewx.conf" file to send the data to the Weather Underground website. I used to send it to the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP), but that's when I had the station connected to the APRS network back in Long Beach. Since I'm "antenna poor" here, I'll just send it to the Interwebz for now. I can always enable the section that sends the data to the CWOP, but I'll probably have to set up a new account, as my callsign and location have changed from when I last had a wx station online.

Since I'd really like to get the console for the weather station back up here so it's viewable without running down to the basement, I'll have to clear an area near the wife's PC to set things up.


Monday, July 29, 2019

GROAN.....This Is Getting Irksome.....

The brand-new Netgear "Nighthawk" WiFi adapter I bought last week just went casters-up.

The used one for this computer arrived this morning, installed easily, and gives me the full 250+MB download speeds I get with an Ethernet connection.

The one I bought a year or so ago for the wife's PC is also working A-OK. I tried both of them on the weather server and it popped right back up on the WLAN, and the one from the weather server is dead as doornail on this PC. No blinky lights, and it's stone cold while these normally run warm-to-the-touch.

Time to box it up and drag it back to Best Buy......

Friday, July 26, 2019

Hello?....This Thing Working? Can Ya Hear Me In The Back?

Well, we're up and running on the hot-rod PC from Long Beach with the fresh installation of Kubuntu 19.04.

And I'm slooowly migrating all the data I've accumulated on the laptop in the last year and a half from the laptop to here.

Now that I have a running, apparently stable, system, I reconnected the other drive in here, and now I have all my music back, so I can update the music on the memory stick I use in the Jeep.

Busted out my last brand-new keyboard ( a "das keyboard" from Newegg), and had to run out to Best Buy and get another mouse and a cheap set of speakers.

I still have the IBM Model M "clicky" keyboard I was using in Long Beach, and as soon as I get that one scrubbed up, I'll swap out this keyboard with that one.

And even though the laptop is a YUUGE one, it still has a smaller footprint than a full size 'desktop' PC with a 24" monitor sitting on top of it. I just might buy a "tower" case  to put this hardware in, and that could sit on the floor next to or under the desk here in the sunroom, freeing up some very valuable real estate on the desk here.

But that's a project for another day. Right now I still have to make sure I can get back into all the websites I need logins for.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Murphy Shooed Out, Weather Station On-Line, New Linux Distro for Me

OK, now where was I........

The whole thing with Murphy starts with the weather station. Since I want to put it on-line, I need to use the Davis "WeatherLink" data logger/com port. The one that was plugged in to my old system console was incompatible with the new console that came with the new weather station. I'd read some rumblings about this on some of the weather forums, but didn't give it much thought until I plugged the old data logger into the new console, and it displayed an "Incompatible Device Attached" warning. Sigh....went out shopping for one, found an 'open box' special on eBay for a great price, got it, plugged it in, and all is happy.

The software I'd been using to collect, display, and archive is still available, but it's not supported very well any longer, some of the specialized graphics libraries he used are difficult to find, and in general, the software is withering away.

After searching for a while, I settled on a package called "weewx", written entirely in Python, great "customizability" for adding things, and well supported. So I dusted off one of the little Zotac "Z-Box" mini-computers I had dedicated to this project, and proceeded to install the newest, latest, and greatest, version of OpenSUSE on it.

I couldn't get it to run right........and I've been using the various versions of SuSE since 1990something. This is also the same distribution I attempted to install numerous times since we arrived here on the hot rod desktop PC I was using way back in Long Beach.

Hmm....wonder what changed? I wasn't sure if it was a hardware problem on the desktop, but when two other PC's had problems with it, I starting thinking it was time to jump ship and find a new distro.

After going to Distrowatch and seeing what's out there these days, I settled on the Kubuntu distribution. I've used Kubuntu (Ubuntu with the KDE desktop environment) before, and liked it. I prefer the KDE desktop over the Gnome desktop for a variety of reasons, and it's nice to have your distribution 'built' from the start with whatever once you like.

Well, all three of the PC's are now happily running Kubuntu, after chasing my tail for a couple of weeks trying get OpenSUSE to run properly.

One of the rabbit-holes I fell into concerns getting the little PC on the network. Since I pretty much can't run Ethernet cable(s) willy-nilly here like I could in Long Beach, I'm stuck using wireless. For this PC, connection speed isn't critical as it'll never be downloading or streaming huge chunks of data, and the uploads it makes are HTML pages to maybe a handful of visitors. Not exactly a bandwidth hog! Well......I have this Linkys USB wireless dongle, and it should just plug in and run, right? WRONG.....it's a "Windows ONLY" device, and drivers don't exist for it. Turns out this particular device can be made to work, but it's a PITA, and after several days of frustration trying to make it work, I threw in the towel and drove over to Best Buy to get a USB WiFi adapter that was "MacOS Compatible". Since MacOS went to a Unix-based core, if it "Works With A Mac", it'll work with Linux. It still required a driver download, but that was painless compared to my attempts at trying to get the other one to work. And it's a "Dual Band" device, meaning I can use the 5GHz portion of our modem/wireless router, which supports the "n" standard of the 802.11 WiFi spec, meaning it can really pump data through. Even though I don't need it for this PC, it was available, it works, and we already have one for my wife's PC. It works so well, in fact, that I just bought another one today for the hot-rod desktop that will be coming back up here and relieving this laptop of duty.

Here's a screenshot of the server down in the basement as seen over our network on this laptop.



Works a treat, the little mini-pc only draws 10 Watts, and since it's fanless and has a solid-state drive ("SSD"), it's dead silent.

It's still limited to our internal LAN here until I get the router configured, the firewall on the little PC configured, and figure out some kind of 'Dynamic DNS' arrangement set up so it will be reachable by name from outside.

So that's why the Supra isn't finished, the antenna posts aren't set yet, and the big Yaesu is still in the OR. I get sidetracked too easily at times!

Rutger Hauer Passes......

Great actor, and he'll be missed.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fun Day, Murphy Visits, Good Food

The wife and I took our Little Guy to the Greeley Old Time Farm Show today, and we had a blast. We drove up to The Kids' new digs in Laporte, checked their new place out now that the move-in-mess has been dispatched, saw The Dogs; Diamond, Coco, and Obie, the three we had back in Long Beach before The Kids moved out here and brought them, and picked up The Little Guy to head out for the day.

Photo courtesy of VisitGreeley.org


 
On the way there, Murphy paid his first call, distracting me as we left, and leaving the GPS unit on the counter. No problem! It's in Greeley right off Rte 43, East of town, at a YUUGE RV campground that's on both sides of the road, and it's on the South side. How hard can that be?

Uhhhh......well......

I finally got it hammered in to my Local Wetware Database, that "Crossroads Blvd" is NOT "Rte 34". For some reason, I got off I-25 at the Crossroads, instead of going a mile or so further South, and getting off at the correct exit.

Long story short, the GPS "guidance" (note the lower case "g" and quotes...) took us about 30 minutes out of the Best Way from where we were, but we made it there.

And it was great! An astounding collection of tractors from the 1920's up to the 1970's, all in pristine, operating condition, with friendly owners willing to talk your ear off about them. I saw names I remembered from childhood, and learned some new ones. We missed the Really Cool Stuff that happened on Saturday, like most of the demonstrations, but we're definitely going back next year. The 1800's operating sawmill was down due to a warped blade (yep, there's a place in Montana that still rebuilds those blades!), but the 1840's wood-framed Drill Rig was set up, and I got to learn a new type of drilling: "Percussion Drilling" vs modern "Rotary Drilling" ( cue up the Howard Hughes footage..). This rig "just" picked up a specialized piece of pipe (the "Chisel"), and dropped it down over, and over, and over again at several hits per minute. Depending on the soil, they could go up to 300' deep, many times deeper than a hand-dug, stone-lined well.

And the only Hit-and-Miss engine  still there was out of commission with some kind of gremlin. One of my best friends in high-school was really into these, and they're a riot to see in operation.

And The Little Guy got sit in the seat of a 1920's Farmall "Cub", that probably looks better today than when it rolled out of the factory, and is still in use! It's the same little "Cub" that was pulling a wagon with 4 car-type bench seats in it, loaded with people.

Just incredibly neat

Well, wow, Jim, that's really cool, but where are the pictures?

Murphy had me distracted enough before we left that I also forgot the camera bag on the kitchen counter.........I just don't function very well at 0830 without coffee!

And my cellphone was in the charger.

And for some reason, my sweet little wife, who's normally snapping like crazy with her phone whenever TLG is around, didn't take any pictures today......

Oh, well.........Murphy again, I guess!

So we stopped at Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers on the way home, and other than the place being more crowded than I'd ever seen, we had a pleasant lunch. Freddy's is pretty good, and is the first "Good" burger place we found out here. Great fries, very good frozen custard, shakes, and malts, and great burgers. Probably a Good Thing it's all the way on the other side of town, or my diet could be in jeopardy!

More about Murphy later. I'm bushed......

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Apollo 11

I'd write something about it, but I'm limited to an old man's remembrances of a time long past in a country that sadly doesn't exist any longer.

And others write far better than I.....

Friday, July 19, 2019

My *NEW CAR* Is Ready!



Ladies and gentlemen, GM proudly presents the all new, mid-engined, 2020 "C8" Corvette!

Read all about it here at the Hagerty website.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Meanwhile, Out In The Garage.....

I pulled the wiper arms, windshield trim, windshield header panel, and ventilation grilles, in preparation to clean and refurbish all these bits:



The wiper arms are pretty crusty, and will take some work with the Dremel to get clean, and the windshield trim is a disaster, compared to when it was new. The trim originally had a matte black coating, but that came off in huge chunks the first time I scrubbed the car. I was going to get it powder coated, but I've decided to do it Old Skool, and scuff the trim up with ScotchBrite, and spray it with some matte black epoxy paint I have.

I'll do the same to the header panel and wiper arms after I clean them.



So now all the stuff seen here at the base of the windshield:




Is gone:



I scrubbed out the channel behind the trim as well as I could, looking carefully for any rust popping up:



Unfortunately I found some, on the driver's side "A Pillar" windshield post:



I'm really hoping this is just surface rust caused by the trim rubbing through the paint, but won't know for sure until the windshield is pulled. Safelite has quoted me $335 to come out and replace the glass with a new one, but I'll have to talk to them to see how much extra they'll charge to pull the glass on one day, and install the new glass at a later date after I've cleaned up the rust. Since it's a second truck roll, I'm sure they'll be a charge.

The windshield in the car has 35 years worth of pits, chips, nicks, and scratches in it, and tint has developed that lovely "Old Toyota Yellow Brown Patina" in place of the OEM blue tint. Time for a new one.....

Monday, July 15, 2019

Good News for Little Miss Pebbles

Took her back to the Vet today to see how the meds are working, and this time the Surgeon checked her out. He said she's doing very well, and he thinks that maybe (fingers crossed) she just sprained or twisted her leg causing the injury, rather than actually tearing the ACL in her right hind leg.

And in spite of not getting her daily walks on the nature trails, she's lost about 8 ounces due to our diligently watching her food and limiting her treats.

So we'll continue with the Gabapentin for pain until it's gone, and he'll switch from Rimadyl to a much less expensive generic when what we got from him is used up.

She's definitely feeling better, and wanted to play last night, so we played a bit in the den with a squeaky toy, but I didn't toss it around the room like I usually do because I didn't want her zooming around and getting all worked up.

The lightning detector project is coming along now that my neighbor loaned me a couple of Arduino project books. One of the projects uses the same AS3935 sensor, and has the code I needed to read out and display ALL the registers in the chip instead of just grabbing the "Lightning Detected" and "Estimated Distance" registers. It also uses a different display that isn't limited to 2 lines of 16 characters, and it also includes the calibration routine to properly set up the sensor. It's a far more sophisticated project than the little "kit" I bought, and was pretty much what I was looking for.

The enclosure and Proto-Shields for the Arduino arrived today, along with a "BrutusBot" tracked vehicle semi autonomous "robot" that The Little Guy should get a kick out of as it scoots along avoiding obstacles.

Waiting for some penetrating oil to soak into the splines on the Supra's wiper arms. I may have to go buy a small puller to get them off after being rather firmly attached for the last 34 years!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Collings Foundation "Wings Of Freedom Tour" Is In Town

And I found out about it by hearing and seeing the P-51 and B-24 fly over today on their way to the Northern Colorado Regional Airport down by Loveland.



BUT...we have a birthday party on Saturday, and I'm sure Sunday will be a zoo there.

Maybe next year!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Ms. Swan Got A Scrub!

And man, was she dirty. I used the pressure washer with just water to wet her down first, then switched in the tank of Turtle Wax Max soap, and soaped her up good.

Yeah, I know.....sounds kinky!

So after scrubbing her with a big wash mitt, and a good rinse, she almost shines again!




However, before those festivities began, I pressure washed the engine bay. I'd applied a full can of Gunk to all the problem areas the night before, and another can right before I backed her out. And since the pressure washer has two tanks, I had the #2 tank for of some degreaser/cleaner, and switched to that before I blew all the Gunk, Grime, and Grunge off the engine.




It still needs a bunch of hand detailing in there, but at least all the crud I missed the first time is gone, which will make it much easier to do the planned mechanical work.

Next project is to remove each fuse, clean the contacts with DeoxIT!, and put the fuses back with a dab of silicone dielectric grease, something I've been doing to every connector pair I've had apart. Should probably do it to all the connectors, but these are high-quality, O-Ringed connectors, and every pair I've separated has been very clean inside. Anyway, this is brought on by the fact that when I started her yesterday, the voltmeter indicated 12.8 Volts, rather than the 14.1 Volts considered 'normal'. I figured great, the alternator went AWOL over the winter, but today it was indicating 13.8 Volts, and would go to 14.1 with some revs, so that kinda points to a connection problem that "cured" itself with a bit of vibration and/or thermal cycling. I was planning on replacing the alternator with an upgraded one from a 1992 Camry V6 that has 100 Amps output compared to the 60 Amps of the OEM unit. They're about $50 more than the OEM alternator, and are 100% compatible with the car. These cars all have a trait of weak alternators that dim the headlights at idle, and this cures the problem, and provides plenty of extra current for the electric fan(s) I want to install so I can delete the engine-driven fan and free up a few HP.

And cleaning up the garage yesterday really helped with locating stuff that was misplaced. I found several boxes of things I was going bonkers trying to find, and they turned up buried under some stuff on the totally wrong shelf from where they should have been. When I shelved all the "Garage Items", I wasn't too careful where I put stuff, and it bit me.

Now to get started on that FUGLY front bumper. Sorry, Ms. Swan, but you really need a "Nose Job"!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Garage Cleanup Time!

So this afternoon I cleaned a winter's worth of stuff from around my poor old Supra, and backed her outside.




Then I took stock of what had to be done with the shelves, and set to it.

Before:







After:



Doesn't look like four hours worth of work was accomplished, but since half of the stuff on the shelves was just tossed up there to get it off the floor when I built the shelves, there was a lot of sorting going on as I emptied the shelves.

All the antenna/radio stuff is now on specific shelves, all the car parts have been sorted and shelved according to what they are, several boxes of stuff that should have been in the basement are now down there, numerous boxes were consolidated with the empties flattened and tossed, and (once again!) I found a bunch of stuff that was MIA.


Tomorrow I'm going to Gunk the engine again, and give her a bath and pressure wash of the engine bay.

For now, she's back in the barn sleeping.....


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Coaxial Cable Entrance Box est Finee!

Yeah, I know....."The Older I Get, The Better I Was" and all that. Time was, though, when I could have terminated these four connectors, and had my tools all put away in under two hours.

Today? Not so much. Took me a total of four hours, start to finish, to get the connectors installed and the tools put away.

Of course that includes going out with the dog twice, going to the basement and/or garage numerous times to retrieve tools I thought I had in my "Connector Installation Field Kit" (they're back in the tub where they belong now), finding the new tips and installing one in my 40 Watt Weller iron, moving the wife's car into the garage after hearing the weather/hail report (BTW...the weather reporting station at the Fort Collins/Loveland airport went down Tuesday afternoon and is still down!), and briefly stopping for a hot dog and some of that great macaroni salad my wife made.

ANYWAY......the connectors are installed:


And sweeping them from 3~600MHz with a dummy load on the other side showed.....a nice, flat, 1:1 VSWR over the range, just as it should.

I put the cover on it, and I'll call it completed until I decide to modify it!



Coming up next is where I get off my duff and plant the posts. I'll get a hold of my ham neighbor and see when he has some time to help me this week.

I'll sure be glad when this project is wrapped up and I can get back on the Supra!

Think I'll back her out tomorrow and hose her off..........