Monday, January 23, 2023

Pioneer SX-980 Progress Report

 Still no sign of The Muse, but major progress was made this week! After being on the back burner for about a year ( ! ) I jumped back into the SX-980. I got stalled when I realized I couldn't continue with the alignment because the audio was constantly dropping out due to dirty switches in the signal path. Took a while and some forum searching ( I don't always care to watch YouTube vids...) to find out the right way to get the assemblies out for access. The front panel had to come off again to re-clean it, and once that was off, again, (what is it with me an front panels, anyway?) it was pull a bunch of screws and two control shaft nuts, and then lift the assemblies out the bottom:

Each one of the boards hanging out has push-button switches, lever switches, and/or rotary controls.

And they all needed cleaning.

The lever switches and rotary controls are easy to clean, as they're not sealed:

To get the cleaner into the rotary controls involved some improvising. I put a small piece of wire into the "straw" for the spray can, heated it gently, and bent it. I now have a "180* Adapter" for my spray can:

The push-button switches are a bit harder. Short of flooding or submerging the entire board in cleaner, there's no easy path to get the cleaner into the semi-sealed switch, and on the contacts. SO....we drill a small hole at the far end of the phenolic cover to access the cavity inside the switch. The holes I drilled are between the grey post sticking up, and the white hold-down clamp:

Put it all back together, and all the audio drops outs are gone. The controls and switches also function smoother, giving them a "quality" feel again.

So here we are, on the bench and wired up undergoing the alignment for the FM tuner and Multiplex decoder:

There's just something sooo coool about the incandescent lighting in these older radios.

After the alignment is finished, I have to repair the wood cabinet it goes into. SLW "bumped it and it fell over!" one day, causing the ancient glue joints to self disassemble......

Monday, January 16, 2023

Winter Storm On The Way

 Supposed to start Tuesday afternoon and go through Wednesday afternoon. Snow fall guesstimates are for 5~8" here, but given the past accuracy, I expect maybe 6".

Snowblower at the ready and my new **HEATED** gloves SLW got me for Christmas are charged and waiting.

ITMT, enjoy one of my favorite songs. It's only three minutes long, but packs a lot into those three minutes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

So, What Have I Been Up To Lately?

 Yeah, the Muse vacated me again. Something about a week in Tahiti at a resort....

So, I took to cleaning up and organizing the basement, which has been a Genuine Mess since we moved in here five years ago. The basement here consists of three rooms, a full bath, and Der Boonker, a semi-secure storage area built under the steps in a corner of the foundation. Four concrete walls and floor, nicely tucked out of the way, hence the name.

One room is a bedroom, one room is my workshop, and one room is a little "study area" and entrance to the bedroom. It had been pretty much stacked with boxes and boxes of stuff, followed shortly by large plastic tubs of baby clothes, swings, bouncers, and other items The Kids are storing here. The clothes are serving as hand-me-downs from TLG to the NLG, and will be yard-saled after the NLG outgrows them.

Baby clothes and things go instantly at yard sales here, not surprising considering the number of young couples with Little Ones here.

So, first step was to get some racks for storage....

And secure them to the wall:

Then fill 'em up!

No, I'm not going to show a "before" picture, as it's too embarrassing...!

Over on the workshop side, a single rack was installed, and rapidly filled:


Still a work-in-progress, as I haven't fully sorted what's on it. At least it got 85% of the boxes off the floor, and sorted through. Now I have to do the bookcases again to make better use of the space that's being freed-up.

On the other side, I re-racked a lot of gear so The Little Guys could have some (safe) knobs and dials to spin while they spend time down here.

The two little racks to the left came from where the new big rack is, and let me separate my record and tape stuff.

A couple of "quickie" projects popped up as I was sorting things. The first, just about completed, is a refurbish of the Kenwood TM-D700A VHF/UHF mobile transceiver that lived in my Jeep Grand Cherokee for about 10 years. Never skipped a beat, and always worked, but was pretty crummy from living in a car for that long.

It's been all scrubbed up, bench-checked, and is being remounted to the plastic cutting board I had it on. Makes a nice little "Grab-And-Go" FM transceiver. It also has a built-in Packet Radio interface, and the small black box to the right of the control head is a keyboard interface so I can send text messages. Just another way of keeping in touch if TSHTF. It'll go up on the shelf with my Elecraft K2-100 HF transceiver which is for longer range communications.

The next project is my Hamtronics R-139 WEFAX receiver.

I can do, and have done, everything this does with a good quality $30 USB "Dongle".  A bit silly, perhaps, but it's never worked. It's a simple circuit, just one-of-five crystal oscillators selected either manually, or allowed to scan continuously until there's a signal on one of the channels. The scanning part works OK, as well as manual selection, but NONE of the 100MHz crystal oscillators turn on. I'm sure it's simple, as it affects all of the oscillators, so should be a nice little diversion as I continue to clean all the controls and switches on the big Pioneer SX-980 FM Stereo receiver.

And of course, a place for Pebbles to rest her head when she comes down to keep me company.

And as an interesting side note, see this innocuous little roll of bubble wrap?

It's responsible for keeping the garage FIFTEEN DEGREES warmer this Winter. That's astounding for something costing essentially zero. When we had the new front and rear storm doors installed, we also had a new insulated exterior door installed in the garage. It didn't seem to make much, if any, improvement to keeping the garage any warmer, so I wrote it off as an "Oh, Well...." item. This summer I was looking at it, and noticed a huge 2" gap between the storm door and the sill. The ding-dong who put the old storm door back on never installed the "sweep", which seals the bottom of the door to the sill, so we have a huge air leak there. In fact, he was going to throw away the good, serviceable storm door because "I thought you didn't need it with the new exterior door".

What a dolt! I explained that I work in the garage a lot (DUH!), and that I liked to open the exterior door and lower the glass window in the outer door for ventilation through the screen.  So the sweep was tossed, and I didn't carefully check their work before they left. They also made NO attempt to seal the new door sill (it was a pre-hung door) to the floor. I picked up a can of expanding foam, so I'll seal the sill in the Spring.

In the meantime, I'm still working on the bookcases and new rack. Should be much more usable when I'm wrapped up.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year!

 SLW is down with what I had a day or two ago, so tonight's plans have changed. She'll be sleeping, and I'll be down in the workshop tinkering.

Good riddance to 2022. As for 2023? Who knows.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Christmas "Bug" Hit Me

 So I was pretty much off-line all day Tuesday. Nothing major, just aches, pains, nasal congestion, and being really tired feeling.

Sitting here listening to the various street departs and County agencies who are out spreading "materiel" and reporting the road conditions. It started as rain, got everything soaked, and then changed to light snow as the temps dropped. Which means icy roads under a thin coating of snow. I've already heard of multiple spin-outs on the traffic circles here, and people are sliding off the roads.

An inch is forecast, but the ice under it changes things from minot annoyance, to Watch Your Step!

Be safe out there!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas To All!


 Hope you all have a joyous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Kids are all coming over tonight, then the Full Clan descends on us Christmas Day to feast in celebration of His arrival.

And for those who can't be home for the holidays....Thank You For Your Service, Sacrifice, and Dedication.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Here Comes The COLD Front!

 Just arrived about 1600 local.

At 1545 is was 46*, and here it is 15 minutes later at 1600:

5 minutes later:

A 5* drop in 5 minutes!

Local forecast at 1600:

 Definitely going to be unpleasant out there!

Be safe, keep warm!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

BRRRRR! Gird Yor Grid For a Big One, Mac!



Got a serious Arctic Cold Front coming in tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon. Temps are expected to peak at 40something, and then start dropping as the front moves in bring snow at approx 1400. Then the front really slams in here, and temps are expected to drop to -15 or so, with winds of 20~30MPH, making the wind chill around -30 or lower.


My heart goes out to those who have to work outside in this, like ranchers, farmers, utility workers and such. I've worked in mind-numbing cold before (-40, Montana, February), but we were sheltered from the wind. My flashlight froze and went out, and my 20 Watt pencil-type soldering iron needed the assistance of a propane torch to get it hot enough to solder with. I can just imagine what it's like to be out in -20 weather with a 35MPH wind blowing.

The basement clean-up is proceeding quite well, and The Little Ones will have much more room-to-roam now. Yes, it's all properly kid-safed, as are the more delicate items I have down there.

Be safe out there, and I'll have a Christmas post or two coming up shortly for all six of my regulars here!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Been Busy, Proper Post "In Work"

 Been busier than a one-armed paper hanger doing house stuff, and getting things squared away for Christmas, which we're hosting this year. Should be about 25 people, and SLW is gathering all the fixin's to feed that many. Wood's been cut, split, and stacked in case we want a fire, but with 20+ people in the house, it won't be cold. a real post in work, and I'll get it up....whenever?

Have a safe weekend, keep your head on a swivel, and always be in Condition Yellow outside!

Ciao -

Friday, December 9, 2022

Minor Upgrade Issues With Kubuntu

 Not fatal, but very annoying. I have a Netgear "Nighthawk" USB WiFi adapter plugged into it, and while it supports Mac, and by extension Linux, it's cranky to get set up. I should have plugged an Ethernet cable directly into the router and ran that to this PC, as I think it may have borked the drivers for the WiFi adapter last night, losing connectivity.

Running things on Good Old Ethernet for now until I get the driver issues sorted out. I like the new menu layouts, but as with all "upgrades" a few things got moved (simplified, really) so it'll take me a few days to get used to it.

And it definitely borked all the user info in my Ham Radio programs, so now I have to go back and set them up again for my station, Again, annoying but not fatal, and I now have all the newest versions of the software I run.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

December 7th

  I don't usually do posts on historical dates, as others do them much better than I do. Suffice to say, December 7th is an important date to remember, as is September 11th. There are similarities and differences, but both have immense historical relevance to the United States.

Never Forget. Never Give Up. Never Surrender..... 


On a lighter note, I was able to make contact with NEPM today, even though conditions weren't very good. I was using the 14 MHz frequency instead of the 18 MHz frequency, and while my noise level is very low there, in the "S1~S2" range, the propagation was mediocre. Their signals were in the "S5" range, but there was slow fading up and down.

The RFI issue with the keyboard turned out to be a short USB cable plugged into it that I use to charge my phone. I plugged the cable into a USB port on the PC, and that problem went away. The RaspberryPI I use to decode ADSB transmissions has been given the full Snap On Ferrite Core Treatment, and seemed to tolerate transmitting 200 Watts on 14 MHz without getting wonky. It remains to be seen if it will tolerate 200 Watts on other bands, but for now it seems OK.

Pioneer SX-980 Progress Report

 Still no sign of The Muse, but major progress was made this week! After being on the back burner for about a year ( ! ) I jumped back into ...