Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's April?.....ALREADY??

Yow....we're ONE-THIRD of the way through the year.
Oh, well....hope the remainder is tolerable!
Happy April Fool's Day everybody!
Wonder what's going to be happening at work tomorrow......

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Grrrrrrr.....I threw in the towel yesterday on getting my Kenwood TM-D710 mounted in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. The last straw was when the backseat bottom cushion wouldn't fit back in. I thought I had this all measured correctly, and that there'd be room enough between the bottom of the seat cushion and the radio. Nope. So I took the mounting screws out of the bracket, and let the radio sit all the way down inside the bracket. Nope again. So then I pulled the bracket completely out, trimmed the under seat carpet and padding, and let the radio sit on the floor pan directly. Nope, still about 1/4" too tall, and I really didn't want to squish the radio between the floorpan and cushion bottom.
This came after spending about two hours fishing the power, microphone, and control head cables under the carpet, and up through the rear of the console so I could run them where they needed to be at the front of the console. Oh, did I mention it took about an hour to REMOVE the console? Then I realized I'd forgotten to run the speaker leads along with the other cables! I decided to just let them hang out from under the seat for now, and get the seat back in so I can go pick up my girlfriend and her buddies from the airport next week.
That's when I found the "Interference Fit" problem between the radio and the seat cushion.
I really started to lose it, and decided to call "Game OVER" before I let it get to me any further.
Out it all came, and the console and rear seat cushion went back in. I still have the radio and GPS antennas installed, and the cables for those are readily reachable. When time comes that I *need* a radio for mobile use, I'm going to just let the radio sit on the floor behind the driver's seat. I'll connect the antenna to the main body of the radio, the GPS cable to the adapter box I made, and run the power, microphone, and control head cables up front.
Maybe at some time in the future I'll look into how much of the plastic under seat frame I'd have to cut away to make it fit nicely, but not this weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Doing some PC work tonight. Since I built the PC I use for audio/video recording and editing a couple of years ago, technology has some pretty big strides, so I'm upgrading it. Going from an AMD Opteron 185 @2.6GHz on an "EPoX EP-9NPA+Ultra" motherboard to an Intel Core 2 Duo @3.0Ghz. on a "GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS5" motherboard.
The Intel processors perform video encoding MUCH faster than the AMD's, and the newer motherboard has a faster memory bus, so encoding HD video should take about half the time it does now.
I'll also be going to a different video card, as the one I bought is killer for gaming, but is NOT on the "approved" list to use with my Matrox RT.X2 video capture card, and the software squawks when I run it.
I'll take the "old" parts, put them in a new case that came today (Lian Li all aluminum!), and have a pretty speedy machine to sell to a friend.
Back to work......

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Day At The Range

Just got home from the second part of "Tactical Pistol I". We mostly concentrated on using cover and movement, and LOTS of drills on clearing malfunctions. Always well worth spending time training, and even though I had the course a couple of years ago, I picked up some tips, and was told by both instructors that I've improved tremendously since I took my first tentative steps at serious training. Mostly, I don't get flustered if something goes not-to-plan, and just keep my wits about me and finish the drill. 8 out of the ten in class were very good, and the other two guys were beginners, but they improved a whole big bunch since last week.
I'm going to take "Tactical Shotgun I" in a couple of weeks, another course I had about 18 months ago. Since I don't take my 870 to the range very much, it'll be a really good refresher for me. The important things I learned before were proper aiming, and how to keep the thing running. Too many people have the impression that a 12 gauge shotgun sends an "Atomic Cone-Of-Death" at anything it's pointed at, and that's just not true. A shotgun has to be AIMED just as much as any other firearm, and at close ranges the pattern doesn't spread out nearly as much as most people think.
It also has a voracious appetite for shells, and learning how to reload it under stress is very important. Even with a magazine extension, you basically have a "Five Shooter" or "Six Shooter", and there's no speedloader or magazine to swap out in a hurry. Nope, you gotta stuff those shells in one-at-a-time, and learning how to do it efficiently is vitally important.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Got My Plating Kit!

WHOO-HOO! My "Brush Plating" kit came today. If you're not familiar with it, "Brush Plating" is a process used for plating small areas with the metal of your choice. They use a "wand" made of the metal you want to plate with, a "sock" over the wand to hold the plating solution, a bottle of plating solution, and a small power supply. You connect one end of the power supply to the work piece, and the other end to the wand. You slip the wand into the sock (yeah, sounds kinky!), dip it into the plating solution, and wipe it on the work piece. If everything goes well, and the workpiece is scrupulously clean, you'll wind up with a real electroplated coating of metal on your workpiece.
Why am I doing this? Well, when R.L. Drake Company originally made my equipment, they used a copper-plated steel chassis for improved electrical conductivity. It looks really cool, too! After the chassis were plated, they were coated with a clear lacquer to protect the copper, and then silk-screened with various component designators. Over time, the lacquer would break down exposing the copper, and it would tarnish badly. If it got damaged by moisture, the steel underneath would rust, leaving unsightly globs of rust. Like most Drake's of this age, mine has some nasty spots on the chassis that I want to restore. Short of stripping it down to a bare chassis, a LOT of work, and having it "properly" replated, I started looking for ways to "spot plate" small areas. I remembered reading about Brush Plating years ago, and Google to the rescue! So now I have to get out my Dremel, remove the corroded spots, nickel "strike" plate the bare steel, and then put the layer of copper on. After that, I'll coat it with clear lacquer again, and hopefully it will look much nicer than it does now.
Heathkit used to do the same thing before aluminum chassis became popular, and on their "Big Iron" radios, they also copper-plated the cabinet before painting them. "QST" magazine had an article a couple of years ago about a Ham who restored a Heathkit DX-100 transmitter. After try to clean the chassis with everything still connected to it, he finally bit the bullet, stripped it down to the bare metal, and sent it out to be plated. It looked beautiful, but it would probably take me a year to strip this one down that far and do what he did.
No thanks!
Anywhoo....if you're interested in "Brush Plating", go to the Caswell Plating website and check it out. They can supply kits for almost any metal you might want to plate.

And if you're interested in what my Drake gear looks like, you can go here for a virtual tour.
Look under "DRAKE 4 line" in the left column, and select the "4-B line".

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

To start, I'm half Irish on my Mom's side, and half Polish on my Dad's side. Potatoes were a religion in my family! Every year on this day, my Mom would make up a big pot of corned beef, cabbage, and lots of potatoes. I never ate the cabbage (I hate the stuff!), but always chowed down on the corned beef. The best part was she made enough to make sandwiches for the rest of the week, and to this day, I drool over the thought of a corned beef on rye, with a dab of mustard.
So Happy Saint Patrick's day, everyone, and go easy on the green beer!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Well, it's ONE way to get a response!

I know this has been around 'forever', but it made me chuckle, so I thought I'd share it with anyone who stops by.


George Phillips , an elderly man, from Meridian, Mississippi, was going up to bed, when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window. George opened the back door to go turn off the light, but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked "Is someone in your house?"

He said "No, but some people are breaking into my garden shed and stealing from me."

Then the police dispatcher said "All patrols are busy. You should lock your doors and an officer will be along when one is available."

George said, "Okay."

He hung up the phone and counted to 30.

Then he phoned the police again.

"Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I just shot them." and he hung up.

Within five minutes, six Police Cars, a SWAT Team, a Helicopter, two Fire Trucks, a Paramedic, and an Ambulance showed up at the Phillips' residence, and caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the Policemen said to George, "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"

George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

A Day At The Range

I went to the range Sunday for a refresher of a course called "Tactical Pistol I" that I'd taken a couple of years ago. It runs two consecutive weekends, 7 hours each day, for a total of 14 hours. It's split 50/50 classroom/range time, and it's time well spent. I feel that being a firearm owner carries with it the responsibility of being properly trained, and my local range offers some excellent training, from the NRA "First Steps" classes up to the "Tactical" classes. Had a great time, saw some friends I haven't seen in a while, honed my skills, and picked some some tips.
They had the entire "right" end of the range closed yesterday, which are the lanes my girlfriend and I generally use. The backstop/trap at the far end has become somewhat degraded over the years, and some of the steel plates are misaligned and dimpled *just enough* to cause ricochets. NOT dangerous, but it's annoying to get 'tickled' from time to time with the occasional little bits of spent rounds. The Range Master said they're going to shutting down for about two weeks in the near future to install all new steel down at the far end, along with some other upgrades. It's been 25 years since the range was built, and I've read that it's generally accepted the backstop/trap should be replaced every 10~15 years. The bad news is that it's going to cost $120,000 for all the work. The good news is that they'll have a State-Of-The-Art backstop/trap, and it will be rated for "full bore" rifles up to 308/7.62 caliber.
This brings up another subject, and that is to support your local range if you're lucky enough to have one, as if you don't, they might not be there in the future! I tend to do the same thing with all the local businesses in my area. Sure, I could save some money buying my soda at the supermarket down the street, but I buy it from the little Mom-and-Pop market next door to my apartment. I could save some money buying all my electronic stuff online, but I'll always check my local purveyor of all things electronic (Torrance Electronics) first. I used to do the same with computer items, but all the local stores that had competitive prices have all gone under, and few of them ever had the latest stuff. I don't mind paying an extra couple of bucks for the item, but when they're DOUBLE the going online price, I shy away.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Adam Savage on Wired.com

"Mythbusters" is one of my favorite programs. Here's an interview with Adam where he explains his philosophy on his personal projects.
I about fell over when he said that the experience of doing the project was more important than the finished item.
AKA..."Getting There Is ALL The Fun", something I find myself experiencing. When I finally finish up my Drake "Twins", I'll have a State-Of-The-Art 1965 Amateur Radio Station. It won't hold a candle to "Lab" measurements of my current State-Of-The-Art, Software-Defined transceiver, but then it won't be as "sterile", either.
And I will have had a LOT of fun honing my radio skills all over again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ARRRRGH! One of "Those" Days!

NOT a good day for electronics! I bought a Seagate "FreeAgent" portable hard-disk to get stuff off my workstation at my "day job", and it was DOA out-of-the-box. They said the dreaded "Reduction In Force" words last week at our All Hands meeting, so I've been bringing home personal tools, books, and other junk since then. I figured I'd better get my music and mission pictures off my workstation while I have the chance, since the "layoff" protocol is to hustle you out the door the day before payday with about 10 minutes warning if you've been released. A bit of Googling revealed that these things are JUNK. When I first plugged it in, it popped up as an "Unknown Device" in Windows. Not only did windows not know what it was, but it declared the device to be a "Malfunctioning USB Device", an error message I've never seen before, and I've seen most of them. After screwing around trying different USB ports, getting the software directly from Seagate, and searching the Web, I gave up, and packed it back up. I took it back to Best Buy, got a store credit, and bought a Western Digital unit. Got back home, turned on the home theater, and was just about to open the box and look at the new drive, and WHAM! My entire home theater system shut down, accompanied by a strange whistling noise. Turns out the batteries in the UPS I run it on finally gave up the ghost, and the UPS shut down. I guess I deserved that one because it's been squawking at me for a couple of weeks to replace the batteries. I farted around trying to decide if I wanted to buy the battery pack from APC (serious bucks!), from a different online vendor (much better pricing, but shipping LEAD-acid gel cells kills you!), or just get replacement batteries from good old Torrance Electronics down the street.
Since T.E. was closed for the day, I went back to Best Buy for a new UPS. It's not a pure sine wave UPS, but since all the stuff plugged into it has switching power supplies, it shouldn't hurt anything. I'll swap out the new one with the original one after I get new batteries, and give the one I bought tonight to my girlfriend who is just using good surge protectors for now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sippican Cottage: My Father Asks For Nothing

Wow....just wow.
Pardon me while I tear up.
My father was a Navy SeaBee in the South Pacific during WWII. He quite possibly helped build the airstrip where this man's father took off and landed. My Dad never wanted to talk about it, either, except for an occasional comment he made while we watched "Victory At Sea" on Sunday afternoons.
Every time I read a story or post like this, the final line from "The Bridges At Toko-Ri" comes back to me.

"Where do we find such men?"

Sippican Cottage: My Father Asks For Nothing

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Most Dangerous Man In America

No, it's not me with my new Sig! This article is well worth the read. This guy is another Obama idealog who has his sights set on "regulating" things most of us hold near and dear.
H/T to The Liberty Sphere for finding it!

P226 At The Range

OK, this is the first time I've done this, so go easy on me! I used my Bushnell range finder to set the targets at the indicated distances, 5yds, 10yds, and 15yds. Point Of Aim was the dot on the front sight placed as close as I could on the middle of the orange center of the target.This was the first time the pistol was fired, and the first time I've _ever_ fired a Sig of any type. I found the double action trigger pull to be heavier and longer than I'm used to (DUH!), and the single action pull to be a bit longer, but not much heavier, than I'm used to with my Kimber's, another big DUH! The gun felt extremely well balanced in my hand, and recoil was no issue at all. I've got large hands, so wrapping my paws around the double-stack grip was no big deal, and maintaining a proper grip was easy. The ammo I used was Reminton UMC 165gr "MC" #L40SW4, and the bullets looked like plated or jacketed semi-wadcutters with a little raised circular 'bump' on the flat nose of the bullet.
I'm sure I'll improve as I shoot this one more, and I really like the way it feels and works in my hand. It's a beautifully made pistol, and racking the slide gives a satisfying "THUNK", like closing the door on a well made car.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What's In *YOUR* Range Bag?

Besides your ear and eye protection, what else do you like to keep in the range bag?
I always take several extra magazines, some specialized 1911 tools, some Gun Butter(tm), Birchwood-Casey "Barricade" wipes, extra batteries for hearing protectors, and a little Bushnell laser rangefinder. On days I take training classes, I'll take a second bag with my holster, belt, pouches, and ammo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Well Balanced Diet

My son insisted I post this picture. He was over the other night to return my Dremel, and went looking in my kitchen cabinets for a snack. I heard him roaring with laughter, and went in to see what busted him up. He asked me why I had ammo in the soup/snacks cab, and I told him it was because the other ones were full, along with my ammo cans, and it seemed like a good place to put them until I could free up some more space.
He just laughed and said "Dad, that's just so you!"
Gotta love kids......

Supras and Stereos.....

 The repairs on the Fisher RS-2010 are proceeding, but a bit slower than I expected. The failed transistor is an obsolete part number, so I ...