Wednesday, October 20, 2021

OK, Beans and Rev Paul.....Here She Is!

 Delivered this morning by a nice young gentleman who used a pallet jack to place it exactly where I wanted it.

Open the lid, and.....

Very nicely packed, and on two wood pallets, meaning MOAR FIREWOOD!

Get ready.....

Yes, that's Sweet Little Wife herself, coming out to see whazzup...


And after some final assembly....

Wonder who'd win....?

Controls are easy to use, and placement seems OK, but actual use will tell.

So here she sits, sleeping until tomorrow. I'm going to tip it up into the "Service Position", and go through all the adjustments listed in the manual. So far everything seems good, and the adjustments I could do while assembling it have been done, per the manual. I set the skid shoes to about 3/8" clearance, as that seemed to work OK with the electric one. After I pull some covers and check things like belt tension and clutch adjustment, I'll check the oil, put some gas in it, and fire it up. It's MUCH easier to move around, as it has a differential instead of a solid-axle, and it feels very well balanced.

Sleep tight!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Groan.....Busy Week Just Passed....

 Haven't posted in a week, so here's a wrap-up.... 

 We had the Little guy over for a Friday night sleepover, then SLW took him to a Halloween party. Sunday we had a full-house, with my son, The Kids, and both grandsons. SLW made a killer pot roast with all the fixin's, using meat from a local butcher shop she found. Beautiful piece of meat, and cooked up to where it fell apart with your fork.

I'd planned to put her snow tires on last weekend, but BOTH batteries for my impact wrench went TU, and I didn't feel like fighting with a breaker bar and "helper" pipe. New batteries should be here this week, along with this guy:

It's the Ariens Deluxe 24, and probably what I should have bought in the first place, instead of that wimpy, woke, "green" electric Snow Joe POS I had. Filled up my 5 gallon gas jug, and my 2 gallon jug, with a shot of Sta-Bil Marine Grade gas stabilizer in each. I have no idea how much fuel these burn in ~45 minutes of use, but I guess I'll find out soon enough. It's getting here before the first snow, so I'll have time to learn how to run it. I'm a little cheesed at Lowe's, as they showed them in stock locally, but mine's taking NINE days to get here from when I ordered it. No idea where or what warehouse it's coming from, but it sure ain't local!

And I'm still fighting with the KLH stereo that's on the bench. I spent a couple of hours on the turntable/record changer getting it to work and track properly. It was another case of petrified lubricant that had to be flushed out and replaced, and getting some stuck parts loose on the tone arm/pick-up so I could adjust the tracking force for this specialized use of 78RPM records only. I now have it to the point where "it works", but it still has issues. One of the channels keeps dropping out, and I'm tracking down what's causing it.  This unit was made in early 1972, cost about $200, and was never designed to last 50 years, so I'm dealing with a very elderly patient here......

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Thunder in October?

 I know Well Seasoned Fool has been snowed on all 12 months of the year here, but I'm not sure if I've heard thunder here in October before.

Pretty strong front going through here, with some rain, and a heck of a lightshow.

This screenshot shows it going through:

It's about 37* and drizzling right now, and taking out the two trashcans almost chilled me. Expected low tonight is 33*, with snow showers, and an expected high of 60* tomorrow, with snow showers ending around 0700. Tomorrow night is forecast to also be 33*, and Thursday night is expected to be 28*, which should really knock the leaves off the trees. Some of the trees are bright yellow, and our maple is turning a dark red. The apple tree is just starting to turn, so I'll see what happens to it. Friday is supposed to be sunny and dry, and if the leaves are still on, I'll take some pix.


So, at the first rumble of thunder here the Comms Group goes into "Action Stations!", and pulls the antennas, and unplugs the power strip the radio and associated hardware are plugged in to.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Great HF Band Opening Today and Spectactular Fall Weather

 YOWIE! If you looked at the solar indices today you might be tempted to leave your radio off, but you'd be missing one of those anomalies where the indices look so-so, but the bands are wide open.

The Solar Flux is at 85, the "A" index is 8, and the "K" index is 2.

14MHz through 28MHz have been open all day from both coasts, with STRONG signals.

It's only the second time since we moved here that I've seen signals on the 12 Meter (24MHz) band, and the 17 Meter (18MHz) band (my favorite) had lots of good signals from all over North America.

I don't have my 6 Meter (50MHz) antenna up right now, but I should probably get it back up to see how it works with this radio. I only have my 20 Meter (14MHz) vertical to work with right now, as the 88' end-fed wire is acting squirrely, and the 14 MHz antenna doesn't pick up anything but noise on 50 MHz.

And I have to redo the FM Band antenna. I'm going to flip it around 180*, and mount it to a wood block I'll mount on the eave. That will get it up about another 7 feet, and out from under the eaves, hopefully allowing it to bring in stronger signals.

Sweet Little Wife is 95% back to normal, and has been going out shopping and visiting The Kids and grandkids the last couple of days. This I take as an excellent indicator of her health and well-being!

The weather here has been gorgeous the last week or so, with sunny skies, and 70's during the day, dropping to mid 40's at night. The trees are about half turned, and I'll try and get some pix in between doing chores and finishing up the KLH Model Thirty-Four. The parts I needed got here yesterday, but then I found out the stylus was broken, so I had to order one of those. Since all he'll be playing on this are 78rpm records, I ordered a stylus that's optimized for the groove characteristics of a 78, vs a 45 or 33 LP, which have much narrower grooves. I'm just finishing up the turntable part of the stereo, and it needed some attention besides the broken stylus. The grease had petrified after 50 years, and all the bearings were bone-dry, so I cleaned it all out and lubed them with synthetic oil and grease. The tracking force was set at 2 grams, too light to track a 78, so I'll readjust that and the anti-skating. I'll also have him bring over a stack of his 78's so I can adjust the tone arm pick-up and set-down positions, and the height for those thickness records.

I haven't even seen a 78 since I was a kid, so this is requiring some research so I can get it right.

Hope y'all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

SLW Update, and.......Oh No, He's At It Again!

 Monday night was the worst. She was in misery after the nerve block wore off, and couldn't take the Percocet as it gave her a hugely upset stomach and headache. So, she suffered all night long, whimpering when she moved, feeling like she was going to drive the Porcelain Bus but not being able to do so, as she couldn't eat. At least she could keep liquids down, so there was that. Tuesday she was out most of the day, as the anti-nausea medication she has kind of does that, and the migraine medicine she also took *really* knocks her out. 

Tuesday evening was better, and she was able to get by with just acetaminophen, and some Meloxicam, another NSAID, so at least she slept OK Tuesday night, as opposed to being "knocked out".

She's much better today, and has good movement without pain of the fingers on her right hand, although they're still swollen a bit. And her emotions are all over the map, due in no small part, I'm sure, to the wide range of medications in her.

Somebody asked in a  comment if they were going to remove the hardware, and she says no. She says there's no way she'll go through that again, no way, no how, and I can't blame her.

And other news brings in some repair work for the gentleman I bought the TEAC A-4010SU tape deck from. It's a KLH Model Thirty-Four "All-In-One" stereo system. It has an FM stereo receiver in it, along with a Garrard 3-500 turntable and a pair of speakers.

This is what they normally look like:

 And these are the speakers it came with:

Here it is undergoing evaluation:

These are pretty simple units, but have some known problems. I haven't started on the turntable yet, but I'm guessing it just needs a good cleaning and lubrication.

The two "Amplifier Output Protection" fuses were both blown, but the transistors check good, and there's no signs of overheating in the amplifier stage from a bad transistor.

BUT....they use two large electrolytic capacitors between the speakers and the transistors to block any DC from getting to the speakers. DC going to the speakers will cause the speaker cone to be offset one way or the other, and cause the speakers to run hot, which will damage them. Simple solution? Install a low Amperage, fast-blow fuse in series with one of the speaker leads, and if DC shows up on the output, the fuse blows, saving your speakers, and probably the output transistors, too.

The silver cans are the electrolytic capacitors. The one facing you with the reddish orange end is the only "ggod" one in there. The angled one with the chalky, lighter colored end is a bad one. It shows signs of the rubber seal degrading, and leaking the electrolyte out, causing the capacitor to lose value. The other thing it causes is the capacitor to start acting like a resistor, and allowing DC current to flow through it. Cap gets leaky enough, and enough current flows to pop the fuse. Six of the seven capacitors on the board show seal degradation, and I'm sure the seventh one is on borrowed time. Basically, they ALL need to be replaced before this will work again, and I've advised the owner of the parts and labor cost to get this running again. And all the "Molex" connectors used to interconnect all the assemblies need to be de-mated, cleaned, and then re-mated to get rid of any possible intermittent connections that these are prone to develop after sitting many years. Not too bad to do once it's stripped down this far.

And of course, the unit will get a complete cleaning, testing, spit-shining before I release it back to him.

Total bill to tear it down, repair it, and clean it all up will run about $200.

And when he saw how nice the TEAC came out, he muttered something about "I should probably buy it back".

Might be a nice little side line to repair a few things like this per month.......

Monday, October 4, 2021

Eight Screws and a Plate

 Huh....didn't realize that could describe a weekend in Vegas.....

SLW got home from surgery about 1130 this morning, rather woozy and doozy, and with another bottle of Percocet. They gave her a nerve block for the surgery, and some "Twilight Sleep" stuff so she'd be out for the procedure, which only took a couple of hours.

And they gave her this lovely parting gift to remember her experience by.

They told her during the consultation last week she'd need "A couple of screws and a plate", but, uh....looks like more than just "a couple" to me. I count eight, but I'm not an Orthopedic guy.

So I'm hustling around at her beck and call, and she's complaining that she can't feel any of her arm, so it flops around, and can fall out of the sling if she isn't careful.

Probably be busy the next couple of days.....

Saturday, October 2, 2021

New Antenna for FM Radio

 I've had this FM Radio Halo Antenna for a couple of years, and had it hanging in the garage for my "Shop Radio". I didn't think it worked very well, so I used a vertical whip on a magnetic mount. 

I had some whips, NMO coils, and a magnetic mount "in stock and on hand", so I picked a combination that would work acceptably for the frequency range of 88MHz to 108MHz.

You've seen these before, I'm sure. That's it, the black rectangular thing (the mag mount base) next to the coil of wire, with a grey cone and a whip on it.

That was OK, but I decided to make a "folded dipole" antenna and try that. The dipole has some broadside "gain", which allows me to receive the weaker stations to the South down by Denver compared to the vertical.

This is a *very* simple antenna to make; just some wire, and a little 300 Ohm to 75 Ohm "balun" transformer to convert the 300 Ohm BALanced impedance of a folded dipole to the 75 Ohm UNbalanced coax input of the radio.

Took about 45 minutes to measure and cut the wire, solder on the balun, make and install the coax, and staple it to the drywall.

This works much better than either the halo antenna or the whip antenna, in this situation, and now the stations to the South come in stronger, and the receiver locks on the stereo signal better than it did before.

But I still had this halo antenna for the FM band, and a coax going through the foundation into the basement workshop.

Sooooo....needing a better antenna for the nice FM stereo in the basement, I dug the halo out of storage, and addressed the shortcomings it had for outdoor use here. I took it apart, cleaned all the areas that got bolted together with ScotchBrite and alcohol, then reassembled it with some Jet Lube copper-based anti-seize compound. Then I made a bracket for it out of some aluminum angle, cleaned all the parts again, assembled it all, and shot it with a coat of self-etching primer. After that cured, I painted it with some of the Rust-Oleum "Truck Bed Liner" paint I had, and put it in the sun to bake. The Jet Lube will stop any oxidization, and the heavy coat of the bed liner should seal the connections from moisture.

So here it is, hanging on my mount from the eaves.

And you cab barely see it from the street, so SLW won't squawk too loudly.

The messy coax install will be cleaned up as soon as I find my "Coax Nails" in the correct size.

I have ones for larger coax, but can't find my box of RG-6 size ones. 

And yes, I saw them last week while rummaging around for something else. Next time I see them, they'll get put with all the other 75 Ohm coax stuff I have.

So how does it work? Wellllll.....pretty "meh" to the South as it's on the North side of the house, below the roofline. Some of the stations I received before in the basement on the whip are weaker with this antenna, which I thought might be the case. Stations to the North come in stronger, but there's not much out that way that isn't "local", so it's a net loss of coverage.

I may wind up fabricating one of my favorite antennas for the FM Band, a simple quarter-wave vertical. I'd build an FM Band Lindenblad, but SLW might not be too happy with that.....




Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Hectic Two Days

 Well.....SLW was in Austin visiting a friend, did a trip-and-fall at a venue they were at on Sunday, and wound up in the ER with two broken bones at her arm/wrist junction. The Doctors in the ER took X-Rays, pronounced she had two broken bones, and then splinted it, wrapped it, gave her a few painkillers and an Rx for some additional ones, and sent her on her way.

She toughed it out Sunday night and Monday, but changed her flight to the earliest one she could get on Tuesday. Every bump, jiggle, and bounce on the ride back made her wince, and she cried in pain a couple of times, as the few pills she was able to get from the pharmacy wore off.

We spent most of  today at the Orthopedic Clinic, getting more detailed X-Rays, and some consultation. She's going in Monday morning for surgery to realign things, and install a plate and two screws to hold things in position while the bones knit back together. It's outpatient surgery, and she'll be home in the afternoon. I never thought I'd ever hear her say "Thank GOD for Percocet", but then I've never seen her in that kind of pain.

Son had two days of orientation and training at his new company's place in Denver, and he was out in the field today, all day. He'll be working out of Greeley, and today they were down by Fort Lupton on Weld 19 flagging for a company upgrading the electric service to the area. Tomorrow they'll be in Broomfield doing the flagging for a repaving job off 287. So far he likes it (one day?), and he's getting the same pay as he was making in Lost Angeleez, with about 1/10th the stress, so he thinks it's a good far!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Little Guy with the New Little Guy

 Sweet Little Wife sent this. She's been babysitting both of them while The Kids are at work.

Maybe there's some hope for the future after all.....

Have a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Space Weather for the Weekend

 And it looks like cycle 25 is off and running.

The forecast from Dr. Skov is below:

Yeah, she can be 'over the top' a bit, but she's got gen-you-ine creds and degrees and she knows her stuff.

Solar Flux should be in the low 90's for the weekend, with some good band openings.

I've noticed more Ionospheric Sounders in operation on the 20 Meter (14MHz) band than usual, and I've even see a few on the 40 Meter (7MHz) band.

I've been hearing Danie, ZS3D, in South Africa on 40 Meters on a regular basis, and that's getting me fired up to put my big 33' vertical back up. It's a full quarter-wave on 7MHz, and with the elevated radials, works extremely well.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday Night Music

 One of my favorite songs, from one of my favorite bands, featuring one of my favorite guitar players.

It was also written specifically for one of my favorite TV shows, Miami Vice.

Hope you're having a great weekend. Really getting to be Fall here, with temps dropping into the low 40's at night.

OK, Beans and Rev Paul.....Here She Is!

 Delivered this morning by a nice young gentleman who used a pallet jack to place it exactly where I wanted it. Open the lid, and..... Very ...