Sunday, September 29, 2013

Heathkit IG-18 Audio Generator Mods Finished

And it works!

Is the distortion lower than before? Does it better the Heathkit specs?

I don't know because I don't have a Distortion Analyzer of THD Meter, but it adjusted "per the instructions" and appears to work fine.

Here's the new Power Supply capacitors:

And the capacitors I replaced on the Wave Generator board:

And the Meter Buffer circuit board mounted to the meter studs:

One other thing I did was to replace the neon lamp "Power On" indicator with an LED. Neon lamps can oscillate and generate wideband noise under certain conditions, so out it went.

I used the existing wiring which I rerouted a bit, and the existing terminal strip. The strip had a 2700 Ohm, 1/2 Watt resistor mounted to it, which I replaced with 4 8200 Ohm 1/2 Watt resistors in parallel. I needed this value to drop the +40 VDC power supply voltage to a lower value for the LED, which should have 1.5 Volts across it, and draw 20mA, according to the specs for the LED I'm using. This would have required a 1 watt resistor as I'm dropping quite a bit of voltage, and I didn't have any 1 Watt resistors in the value I needed. So, parallel 4 half-Watt ones, and you get TWO Watts, which gives me some headroom on the power dissipation.

I wasn't about to add a regulator to power a single LED, so I'll just accept the "wasted" power in the resistors.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to put the FT-726 radio alignment on the back burner for a week or so (again! Will I ever finish this thing?), as I have an Elecraft KAT100 Automatic Antenna Tuner kit arriving tomorrow.

I'll be operating NI6BB on the Iowa for the BSA JOTA event in late October, and the member who normally supplies the radio and tuner we use will not be available, so I'll take my Elecraft K2/100 down to the Iowa to use. This radio is my portable/emergency HF radio, and since I normally use it with my Buddipole and manually adjust the antenna using an antenna analyzer, I didn't really need a separate tuner.

The "Discage" antenna we primarily use on the Iowa is broadband, BUT it doesn't have a "1:1 VSWR" in the Amateur Radio bands (it's more like 3:1) resulting in most radios cutting back their power output. The tuner (really an impedance matching device) will allow the radio to operate into a 50 Ohm load, and deliver full power without subjecting it to the voltage stress a high VSWR would cause.

And I'd like to get the tuner kit built at a leisurely pace, rather than spending several nights burning the midnight oil, getting overly tired and making mistakes, and test it before I need it.

Hope y'all had a good weekend!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why Do My Projects Always Expand?

Whoo boy....I'll bet all of my friends out here know what I'm talking about!

About 8 months ago my radio club had a members-only auction to get rid of equipment we no longer use in the club station. I came home with an ICom R-71A shortwave receiver, and a Yaesu FT-726 VHF/UHF multimode transceiver.

The ICom works OK, so it went on the shelf, but the reason I got the Yaesu for $25 is that it allegedly had a problem with the UHF module, it's not suited very well for repeater (FM) use because it doesn't have a CTCSS "Tone Board", it has no "Comm Port" on it so you can't run it with a PC and it wasn't usable for satellite use, as it lacked the satellite module.

It's basically an FM/SSB, 10-Watt output radio that covers 2 Meters (144~148 MHz) and UHF (430~440MHz), and while it would be a very good radio for "rover" or home use with some external amplifiers, NOBODY wanted it, so I won it with the opening bid of $25.

I got it home, and it sat for awhile whilst I went through my "Medical Adventures". I finally started working on it a month or so ago.

I pulled the covers and knobs off to scrub them, and lo and behold, what's this?

It has the satellite module installed!

Some basic testing shows that it puts out 10 Watts on both bands, and the satellite unit works as per the manual, BUT, it's 8 kHz off in frequency on transmit on both bands.

What makes this radio unique, along with it's newer big brother the FT-736, is that the radio itself, without any of the modules, is a "10 MHz, I.F.", and the individual modules act as "transverters" to upconvert the 10 MHz to whatever, and then downconvert the whatever back to 10MHz.

So, since the frequency is off the same amount on two different bands, it points to a problem in the basic radio chassis, exclusive of the band modules.

ANYWAY.....I figured I should do a full alignment on it to ensure it works properly before I sell it, and that's when the fun started......

I got started doing the alignment, and then got to the step where I needed my RF Probe. Hmmm...where'd I put it? Can't find it, order a new one. While waiting for the new one to arrive, I use my frequency counter and DMM to adjust the things that I can, which goes fine.

New RF probe arrives, and I finish up the initial alignment steps. The SSB and CW portions of the basic radio are now operating per spec. Time to do the FM section....UH-OH....I need a Deviation Meter to adjust the FM deviation. Huh...never have owned one of those. Probably time to buy one, as I'm sure I'll need it after I retire and really start doing radio stuff!

OUCH.....SIX HUNDRED BUCKS?!  Oh, to eBay where I find an old Lampkin Engineering one made in the 1950's for $30, FREE shipping!

It arrives in great shape for being as old as I am, and works *perfectly*. Super...time to set the FM deviation!

Uh-oh.....I need a calibrated source of 300Hz and 2800Hz. I have a two-tone generator for aligning HF SSB radios, but it operates at two different, fixed frequencies, and my service manual is very specific on why you must use 300 and 2800Hz.

Hmm....well, I have that ancient HP signal generator I'm slowly rebuilding as a memorial to my friend, but I'm waiting on some esoteric parts for it. I also have a newer HP solid-state signal generator, BUT that dirty old thing was the piece of equipment I was working on the night before I got the MRSA infection in my finger. Think before I handle that one again I'll put some gloves on, and scrub it down with bleach, and then hydrogen peroxide!

Off to eBay again, where I score a MINT Heathkit IG-18 audio generator for $70, FREE shipping!

While waiting for the generator to get here I start searching for a manual for it. Since my Google-Fu is strong, I find that with a few simple modifications, you decrease the Total Harmonic Distortion by a factor of TEN or more, and also make the frequency accuracy better by the same amount!

Wow....! These things are already pretty good, and for about $30 in parts I can make them an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE better?!?


The generator gets here on time, and all the parts I either have, or picked up on the way home from work on Friday. I take the covers and knobs off the generator (why do I feel Deja Vu coming on?), scrub them and dry them, and start testing the generator to make sure it works before I modify it.

Note to others:  ALWAYS test the equipment before you modify it to make sure it works, or you can wind up chasing you tail thinking you screwed up the mods!

The generator tests out fine after I clean the switches and controls with some DeoxIT (amazing stuff!) to clear up some erratic operation.

Then BANG!!

My six-month old LED magnifying lamp goes casters up with a bang and cloud of smoke. I really liked this thing as the color temp of the LED's made it really nice to work with, the big 5" 3-diopter GLASS lens was clear with no distortion, it was light weight and easy to move around on the extension arm, and it didn't throw off enough heat to warm the shack in the winter time.

And I'm getting old enough to really need a nice illuminated magnifying lamp for close-in work.

Oh, well......hop in the car and drive to the closest office supply store, which happens to be an Office Max that I go to regularly. I shop what they have, and pick one with a circular fluorescent tube in it, mostly because the only LED lamps they have are either too small, or have crummy PLASTIC "lenses" in them for "magnifying" what your working on.

It's not as bright as the LED lamp, and even though it shouts that it's "FULL SPECTRUM!!" on the box, I still prefer the color temp of the LED light. I took the cover off the LED light, and sure enough, the 59-cent switching "power supply" they used has vaporized. I'm going to count the number of LED's in it, see how they're connected, and come up with some kind of external supply to run it with, I like it that much.

Get home, unpack the new lamp, set it up, and start using it to inspect the soldering job on the generator. It is, after all, a HeathKIT, and some builders were less competent than others.

Touch up about 1/3 of the solder connections, set my Tektronix 2465B on the bench for the first time (don't worry, it works fine!) so I can adjust the generator, and's 11 PM already?


So, here I sit waiting for the soldering iron to warm up, small pile of parts at the ready, fingers crossed, and wood knocked, and hopefully I can have the generator modified and operating tonight.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Alan Parsons Project -Eye In The Sky-

Stumbling around here at home today with a cold, and happened to stumble across this.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Voter ID

From a friend of mine.

Of course, if you bring this up to a libtard, you'll either get a deer-in-the-headlights blank stare, or "OH....THAT'S DIFFERENT!", which I actually had one of them say to me once when I had them nailed down, and *this close* to admitting they were WRONG!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Steps Class Post Class Report

We had a great time!

Several of the people had previous firearms experience, with rifles and shotguns, but had never fired a handgun before.

Several had some very limited handgun experience, and were there to learn more, and improve their understnding.

One family was there, and they brought their 14 year old son because "It was time for him to learn about gun safety".

And we advised by the lead instructor before the students arrived that one person was an anti!

The class ran as it usually does, with intelligent questions being asked, and all of the students understood eye dominance, and all quickly learned the correct stances and grips, and above all, The Four Rules.

Everybody understood sight picture, trigger control, safe gun handling, and all the other things that get taught in the NRA "First Steps" class.

Then it was time to go out to the range, and put the pedal to the metal.

The range time consists of 20 shots at 7 yards, at an 8" x 10" piece of blank paper so the students can get used to handling, loading, and firing the pistols. This gives us a chance to check and correct any improper things they might be doing.

Next is 20 rounds on a "standard" slow fire/rapid fire target, again at 7 yards, and this gives us a chance to help them improve or correct things like an improper sight picture, jerking or slapping the trigger, and to keep checking their stance again.

One thing I've noticed is that while they may do as instructed in the classroom with a rubber gun, for some reason they change when they get out on the range. The most common fault I've seen is that people start to lean back, almost as if they want to hold the gun further away.

This does bad things to your balance, sight picture, and trigger control, so we do our best to correct them on their first shots at the blank paper.

It's up to the student to decide if they like the Isosceles or Weaver stance, and whether they want to keep their elbow "locked" or slightly bent. We also stress keeping the knees slightly bent, as if they go further in their training (most do), it's important to keep a bit "loose" so you can learn shooting on the move, a vital skill in self-defense.

The last target is 10 rounds on the same size target, and we score them on this one.

The big surprise of the class was the young lady (the "anti") we were advised about.

She was pretty quiet during class, asking few questions, but really came to life on the range. As luck would have it, she was in "my" group (We had 10 students an 4 instructors) on the range, and turned out to be an excellent student. She listened carefully, took direction very well, and had a good attitude.

At one point she turned slightly (and safely, keeping the pistol pointed downrange) to me and said "This is FUN! I don't see what the big deal is about guns!".

So I don't know if we "turned" an anti-gun person, or just helped her to subtly make up her own mind.

The two guys who had rifle experience wound up going into a 3 round "shoot off" to determine the overall "winner", and over half the class scored in the 90's on their last target.

So we had another safe class, and brought 9 adults and one 14 year old boy through it with flying colors.

After class one of the other instructors and I spent some time getting our own bad habits worked out, and I put about 100 rounds of 45 ACP downrange.

Always good to go to the range!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunday NRA "First Steps" Class

And I'll be helping another instructor.

Been quite a while (TOO long!) since I've helped with a class, so I hope I remember everything.

I'll give an post-class report later on Sunday and let you know how things went.....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another "Senior Moment"....

Aw, rats....

I was driving home from the store tonight with a *killer* idea for a post, and.....POOF!....out of my head it went.

And I don't even remember what subject I was going to post about.....

I'm just going to have to start carrying my little voice recorder so I can capture these moments when I have these truly brilliant flashes of inspiration to inform and entertain you with.

In the meantime, as a lot of people have been saying lately.....I got nothin.....

Avast, Me Hearties!!

It's "International Talk Like A Pirate Day"!

So Arrrrrr, and Ahoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prayers For Our Friends and Relatives In Colorado

My wife talked to her son's girlfriend yesterday, and the flooding around the Fort Collins area was pretty severe.

They were stuck "On the mountain" for 2-1/2 days until the water went down far enough that temporary road repairs could be made.

Fortunately they prepare for things like this, and getting snowed in, so they have plenty of food, water, and fuel. She told me once they could go a month without any problems, and if they knew it would be longer, they'd "Bust Out Our Prepper Supplies!", so we know they can take care of things.

Still, when I saw these pictures of the flooding, my heart went out to all their neighbors who weren't so fortunate to live well above where the flood waters rise.

Full article with pix is here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wayne Green, W2NSD, SK

The Amateur Radio term "SK" means "Silent Key", and is sent as a "Prosign" at the end of CW (Morse Code) transmissions when the station is going off-the-air.

It's also used to describe a Ham who has passed away.....their key is now silent forever.

Well, I just heard that Wayne Green, W2NSD (Never Say Die), noted publisher of "73" magazine, among many other things, has passed away a few days ago at age 91.

Wayne has a rather short Wikipedia entry, considering all he did, so courtesy of the AMSAT News Service, here's a listing of some of his accomplishments:

* started one of the first personal computer software companies
   (Instant Software).
 * opened computer software stores - eventually sold a national chain
   of 58 stores.
 * while in college started a broadcasting station (WRPI) which is now
   the largest student activity.
 * served on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board of Overseers
   and RPI Council.
 * served as the First Executive in Residence at RPI.
 * served as a consultant for the RPI Business Incubator - which won
   the 1996 prize as the best in the country.
 * been a licensed amateur radio operator as W2NSD since 1940.
 * pioneered amateur radio repeaters since 1969, starting with WRLAAB
   on Mt. Monadnock NH.
 * established amater radio in Jordan in 1970 and wrote their rules and
 * supplied and installed the first repeater in Jordan, J-Y73, in 1973.
 * helped radio amateurs pioneer FM, radio Teletype, single sideband,
   and slow scan TV.
 * bounced amateur radio signals off the Moon from the big dish at the
   Arecibo Observatory, PR.
 * been editing and publishing amateur radio magazines for 47 years.
 * a state-of-the-art digital recording studio.
 * four record labels and produced over 150 CDs.
 * helped re-popularize ragtime music and personally knows all of the
   top ragtime performers.
 * started 25 successful publications in the radio, computer and music
 * published over 100 books.
 * wrote one of the first books on digital communications.
 * been on an African hunting safari.
 * visited the ruins of Ba'albek in Lebanon, the Queen of Sheba's water
   catchments in Aden.
 * visited the Pyramids, the Sphynx. the ruins in Athens, the Taj Mahal
   and Katmandu.
 * visited the head-hunter longhouses in Sarawak.
 * helped organize and lead trade groups of around 250 people to yearly
   electronic shows in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
 * given keynote addresses to radio, educational, computer, and music
 * helped invent a new kind of loud speaker - borrowed $1,000 on my car
   to start a manufacturing company and within two and a half years it
   became the largest speaker manufacturer in the country with seven
 * performed in The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance in high school
 * served as president of radio clubs in high school and college.
 * served in Navy 1942-1946 in WWII - electronic technician on USS Drum
   SS-228 (which is on display at Mobile, Alabama) for five war patrols.
 * been a radio engineer and announcer in North Carolina, Florida and
 * been chief cameraman at WPIX-TV (11) in NYC.
 * produced and directed network TV shows in Dallas and Cleveland.
 * a reputation as a gourmet cook.
 * served as president of Porsche Club of America.
 * raced my Porsche on the Nurburgring and Solitude race tracks in
 * both driven and navigated in many national SCCA car rallies.
 * served as a founder and first secretary of American Mensa.
 * a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Science.
 * lectured on entrepreneurialism at Yale, Boston University, Case
   Western, Babson College, RPL and many other colleges.
 * been on the first commercial airline flight between Philadelphia and
   New York in 1927.
 * flown with father since 1922.
 * served on the FCC's National Industry Advisory Committee (NIAC).
 * served on the FCC's Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC).
 * testified before a Congressional hearing on the music industry.
 * had the usual toys: airplane, Porsche, yacht, Jaguar, Mercedes 600
   Pullman limosine.
 * worked on a Guggenheim grant on a color organ for the Guggenheim
   Museum on 5th Avenue.
 * graduated Bliss Electrical SchooL Tacoma Padc MD.
 * attended Radio Materiel School on Treasure Island, San Francisco and
   graduated as ETM2/c.
 * served for five war patrols on SS-228 USS Dnun, made ETMI/c.
 * taught electronics at Submarine School, New London CT.
 * organized and run successful mail order Elm Stamp Company at age 12.
 * sung in St. Pauls Church choir as boy soprano.
 * sung in Philharmonic Choir of Brooklyn.
 * sung in Erasmus High School Choral Club.
 * pioneered the 6-meter ham band as the first New York City station on
   that band.
 * run a 6-meter beacon station for several years in cooperation with
   the Radio Amateur Scientific Observations (RASO) program.
 * for years had a VHF/UHF station on Mt. Monadnock NH; regularly heard
   for over 600 miles.
 * been Excutive Secretary of the Music Research Foundation, Madison
   Avenue, N.Y.
 * worked for GE as a test engineer on Army radio equipment.
 * been an engineer at Airborne Instrument Laboratories in Mineola NY
   developing radar equip.
 * tried marijuana in 1948 to see what it was like.
 * tried LSD in 1960 to see what that was like.
 * drunk with shipmates on liberty while in the Navy. Have seldom drunk
 * tried smoking as a teenager, thought it was stupid. Ignored peer
 * know the real dope on Amelia Earhart's last trip.
 * been convinced that NASA had to have faked all of the moon landings.
 * driven from Brooklyn NY to Peterborough NH (250 miles), averaging
   100 mph one night - including a gas stop.
 * interesting friends such as Barry Goldwater, King Hussein, Steve
   Jobs, Bill Gates, and Rod McKuen.
 * been convinced that with proper nutrition and avoiding poisons we
   can dependably live to over 100.
 * ridden Starlit Night, the Ringling Brothers top show horse.
 * a professorship of horsemanship and taught riding instructors.
 * a Hubbard Dianetic Auditor certificate and has processed over 100
   patients, with some remarkable successes.
 * swum the three mile length of Coney Island many times.
 * investigated crop circles and a UFO hovering over a house in nearby
   Francestown, NH.
 * drove a snowmobile 50 mph in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at
   age 82.

Some of his beliefs were decidedly NON mainstream, and there were times I thought he'd gone completely off his rocker, especially in his later years.

Still, I admired his tenacity, even though I didn't agree with 90% of his writings.

So farewell, Wayne, and may your final journey be enjoyable.

I'm sure he'll be arguing with St. Peter until they let him in.....


From the ARRL Bulletin, as posted on the eHam website, with various comments from the Amateur Radio community.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Been Busy, More To Follow

Well, my sweet wife just loves her new little Hyundai. It's red, and she's always wanted a red car. Charcoal interior, with enough air conditioning to make it a meat locker, nice 6 speaker radio/cd player with 100something Watts of power and Sirius/XM.

Rides nice, seems to be pretty peppy, gets astoundingly good mileage (she's averaging THIRTY FOUR MPG in her around town driving), and they gave us a bunch of stuff we didn't pay for (window tint, first aid kit, cargo net, nice floor mats, etc) because it took them a few days longer than they promised to get us the car.

And they delivered it, and spent an hour going over stuff, showing us the features, and explaining things.

I've also been spending a lot of time in the garage cleaning it up and getting it organized. I still haven't gotten to the work bench so I can mount my press and start reloading, but I made a HUGE improvement in how things are organized.

I dug out a bunch of stuff I'm going to sell (Dahlquist DQM-9 monitor speakers, anyone? They're like new, and had the foam surrounds replaced about two years ago), threw a bunch of stuff away, coiled up about 75 pounds of "scrap copper wire" I'll haul to the recycler when I take the cans in, and sorted several "piles" ("radio 1", "radio 2", and "computer") for some eBay sales I'll be running in the next month or so.

And the nice thing is, I can walk in the side door, and get all they way to the big door now, and I can easily get to both of my two big roll-around toolboxes.

About 1/3 of the space in the garage is still occupied by the "collectibles" her first husband was acquiring when he passed away. Action figures, Star Wars and Star Trek stuff, and an odd assortment of other things he thought were collectible. SOME of the items have fairly good values on eBay (yes, the actual sales prices, and not the "listing/wishing" prices!), but a lot of it doesn't.

 I swear, we have enough 4" and 6" plastic "action figures", army men, and little plastic tanks and armor to take over the back yard and stage the Battle of Kursk all over again!

We have two cardboard boxes, each about half the size of a refrigerator box, FULL of these things.

I might just sell them "by the scoop" on eBay!

And in working my tail off, hustling around, sweeping things up, trimming the trees (again.....sigh), and chasing the dogs around, I'm starting to get my endurance back, and I'm feeling better. It's been 4-1/2 months now since my "cardiac incident", and I'm finally getting used to what the meds do to me, and feeling better.

And I'm really looking forward to attacking the front-end of the gargae, and getting my press set up!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

We Bought A Car

After going to several dealers where we were either treated rudely, or told "These are HOT right now, so the list price is the best we'll do!", a guy from the Hyundai dealership up in Commerce called.

My wife had put out a "Request for Quotation" to an Internet service, and he was one of the people who received the RFQ.

I told him the prices the other places quoted, and he said he couldn't beat them by much, but he could beat them.

So, after running some errands and getting some dinner, we drove up to Commerce, about 12 miles North of the LBC.

The dealership was in a decidedly 'low rent' area, but was very clean, and the buildings and service area were probably the best kept in the area, always a good sign.

The guy we talked with was able to beat the "best" price we got by almost $300, and told us they would deliver the car here, and spend about 30 minutes with us going over the features, and finishing the paperwork.

One of the things that sealed the deal was that my wife was very comfortable talking to him and the finance people, who treated us as friends, didn't try to force any other options or "dealer installed" equipment on us, and walked us through the paperwork jungle in less than half an hour, which is a record in my book!

SO.....Tuesday or Wednesday they'll drop the car off, and my wife will be cruising around in a brand-new RED Hyundai Eleantra GLS with the "Preferred Package" with 2.9% financing on the balance.

Since the gave us over $8500 for her poor little Nissan Sentra, and we're putting some more down, the monthly payment is well under $200 for 48 months.

I'll post a pic after we get the car.

How Much Is The Gun Business Worth?

Old_NFO couldn't embed this, so here it is:

Created by

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Damage Estimate: $8300 Car Value:$6000

Looks like we're in the market for a replacement car..

We went and looked at Hyundai Elantras tonight, and the wife thought they were very nice.

We'll also be looking at the Kia Forte, as these two cars are about the same size and in the price class we're comfortable with.

Everything I read today about the current version of the Nissan Sentra convinced me to NOT even look at them.

The closest Nissan model would be the Altima, and it's a minimum of $2000 over the other two.

Same with the Ford Fusion, and I absolutely, positively, will NEVER step foot into a Government Motors dealership.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Uh-OH....Wife just got in 4 Car Accident *UPDATE*

Hit in the rear in a multi-car accident.

She was the second car in line.

More to follow, but I'm on my way to pick her up......


She seems to be OK...a little sore in her back and shoulders.

There's a set of railroad tracks on the road she takes to work every day. A tanker truck had come to a full stop before crossing the tracks, and she was the second car behind the tanker, with another small car (a Chevy Cobalt) behind her.

A guy in a full size pickup didn't see the line of stopped cars ( ! ) waiting for the tanker to cross the RR tracks, and plowed into the car behind her at about 45~50 MPH. The little Chevy Cobalt then almost went _under_ the rear of my wife's Nissan Sentra, pushing her into a Nissan Maxima.

As expected, the little Cobalt took the brunt of the collision, and the rear of my wife's Sentra absorbed most of the rest.

The front of her car wasn't too badly damaged, but it'll still need a bunch of new parts.

So, she's home now, and on the phone with our insurance company.

Thankfully, we have a good company, with good coverage, including rental car.

Meet Luna!

 Great name for our new pup, eh? She's camera shy, and "Red Eye Removal" doesn't work for dogs! She's two years old, p...