Sunday, November 30, 2014

Visio 2010 Is A MAJOR PITA!!

God, I can't believe how freaking AWFUL this software is.

I've been using Visio for over 10 years, I've mad over 100 drawings with it, and it seems like every single time I stop using it for a few weeks, I have to learn it all over again.

Even doing something simple like changing the default line weight is cumbersome, and the changes you make don't carry over to the individual stencils/shapes stored in your library.

The earlier versions at least had the menus laid out in a logical manner, but nooooo, that wasn't good enough for Micro$oft, and they changed everything around, and I can't find sh1t in their newer structure.

IfI have to bang my head against the keyboard until Its bloody learning this POS software again, I'll just take the time to learn one of the Linux vector drawing programs I have, as they don't change things around on a whim.

Either that or I'll just make the damn drawings by hand, scan them, and convert them to a pdf for distribution.

Gawd.......what a pain this little project has become!


Did the entire project in about 35 minutes using "gschem" on my Linux box, and I'd never used the program before.

It reminds me a lot of the free software (Windoze only) that PCBExpress gives you to do your boards.

Since this will be hand-wired, and I don't need boards produced, I just wanted a nice looking schematic to go into the operating manual.

The project is an interface board from a sound card on a PC to a Kenwood HF radio so we can do "Digital Modes" on the Iowa.

Here's a copy of the schematic, but it didn't render very cleanly when I did a quickie rendering from PostScript to PNG format.

Rain On The Way....YAY!

Heavy overcast this morning, and I can smell rain on the wind.

NOAA forecast is for scattered showers today and tonight, haevy rain starting Monday night through Wednesday morning.

We sure need the rain, and hopefully we'll have a wet winter.

It's been extremely dry out here the last 5 years or so, and the reservoirs are down to their lowest levels in 20 years.

This afternoon's satellite view:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fairly Quiet Out Here In La-La Land

Been listening to scanner most of the night.

Well, actually THREE scanners.

One is set up to scan most everything out here.

One is set up to scan the "Media" frequency assignment, which are those channels the news crews and news choppers use.

And one to scan just the stuff for Long Beach and Signal Hill.

Why three?

Well, the "main" scanner has so many channels to scan that it might stop on something trivial, like a call about a burglar alarm, and miss something big, like a "peaceful protest" that turns ugly.

The "Media" scanner is interesting, as these guys talk to each other the way you and I would, and don't pull any punches about what's going on.

And the "Local" scanner, since it has fewer channels to scan, can rip through the entire channel list in nothing flat, and not miss anything close by.

So far the only signs of Bad Shit going on is the chatter on the LAPD and LASD channels about groups of people throwing stuff on to cars from freeway overpasses.

There are several "large crowds" marching around, but other than the people tossing stuff from overpasses, I'd say it's relatively quiet.

There has been an unusual amount of radio traffic down in the port area, though. Mostly vehicle stops, and most of the people stopped are from out of the area, so not sure if that means anything.....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beem Busy Again.....

Had a ton of yard work to do this last week, along with doing some "deep cleaning" of various parts of the house, as we're having guests over for Thanksgiving.

And I dug out, scrubbed up, and tested some older radio gear that I'm giving to a friend who's just about ready to take his General Class Amateur Radio exam.

The gear is a complete Yaesu FT-310 with power supply/speaker, microphone, and an external VFO that was entrusted to me by my buddy The Wandering Minstrel, with the promise to him that's find it a good home.

This isn't the radio, but it's representative of the model type.

And the soon-to-be General Class ham was thrilled to get it, and thanked me profusely.

I mowed the back yard with my little electric mower, edged the driveway and walkways, and used the weed whacker to get all the stuff along the side of the house that the mower can't get.

I went to Home Depot and got six BIG bags of black dirt (next time I think I just have a half truckload delivered!), and filled in a bunch of low spots, and seeded/watered the areas. And I put out stakes with string between them and strips of yellow caution tape hanging on the string to keep Pebbles The Wonder Dog from "exploring" these new areas.

A couple of shouts of "NO!" has convinced her (so far) to keep away from them.

I really let the back yard "go to seed" this last year, hardly watering it, and it died out in big sections. When we had Swisher, he and Pebbles would chase each other around the yard, chewing up the dead grass, leaving bare spots that turned into mini-dust-bowls, so hopefully with some fresh dirt and grass seed, it will come back this winter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sad Puppy!

Well, Little Miss Pebbles had a vet visit on Monday.

She's had a mild case of conjunctivitis, which we thought cleared up from the eye drops given to us at the previous vet visit, but it came back, this time in both her eyes.

And she has these "bumps" on her back that look like insect bites, very unusual for this time of year here. I spray the back yard twice a year for fleas, ticks, and other critters, and we use Advantage flea treatment on her, so we weren't sure what was going on.

And the day before I took her back in, she started licking her left front paw, and would pull it back from me when I went to look at it.

Time to go see Dr. Grain over at the Evening Pet Clinic again!

I can't say enough good things about the pet clinic. They really care about their little furry (and feathered!) patients there, and treat you like family when you show up.

After I checked in and was waiting, I noticed on of the nails on her left paw seemed to be red, maybe bleeding a bit, and then I remembered what had happened several days before.

I was bringing in a bunch of stuff from the car, and couldn't see where my big feet were going, and stepped on one of her front paws! Normally this hasn't been a problem, as she's quicker on her feet than I am on mine, and the carpet cushions it some.

Well, this time I stepped on her when she was right at the door, on the hardwood entry area. She didn't yelp or cry or anything, and I dropped what I was doing and called her back, She wasn't limping, and didn't seem to be in any pain, so I apologized to her (apologize to a dog?) and didn't think much of it.

When I hoisted her up to the exam table. though, the Doctor and I immediately noticed one of her nails was broken right where the fur stops and the nail begins.

SO, he removed the broken nail, swabbed the area with Providone Iodine, and wrapped it up, saying to leave it covered for 5 days so it would "seal up" and not get infected.

And then we put "The Cone" on her, to (TRY and) keep her from licking/chewing/tearing off the bandage on the paw.

And the good Doctor says the bumps are most likely allergies to some type of insect bite, and to give a Benadryl twice a day.

So, here she is looking a bit upset over having a bandaged foot, AND a cone her.

Poor puppy.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Belated Happy Veteran's Day

To all who have served, and are currently serving....

You my have deepest gratitude and respect for your service to our country.

I had a post scheduled, but must have messed something up, as it didn't post.

I would have posted this morning, but I spent the entire day on the Iowa helping with tours, and assisting a film crew, but mostly operating NI6BB.

We had a very nice memorial service and wreath ceremony this morning at 0900, before the ship opened to the public.

And since there's a film crew aboard, some of the tour route was changed, resulting in a few people getting "lost" a bit, and having to be shepherded back onto the tour route, and out of the areas not normally open to the public.

When I got to the starboard side hatch for the Communications Center this morning, the hatch was closed, but not dogged.

I didn't realize how heavy the hatch was, having never opened it before. It swings easily on the hinges, but has a lot of mass, so getting it moving, and stopping it again, took a bit of muscle.

Hope y'all had a great day!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday Relaxation

Did all the yard work yesterday, except for trimming the tree in the backyard. The damn thing grows like a weed, and I'm going to have to rent a chipper to grind up what I'm going to lop off it.

Wife has a friend staying with us, so I also cleaned house Thursday and Friday. Had to put the dog outside while I ran "Mr. Kirby", or she goes nutso chasing it around.

So today I'm just kicking back tinkering on some radio gear that's been waiting to get on the bench so I can clean it up, check it out, and sell it on eBay. Over the last 5 years or so I've been grabbing radios at good prices, and stashing them in the garage, bagged up so they don't get all critterfied. I've got about 35 out there, with a total investment (so far) of bout $1800. Add another couple of hundred bucks for parts they might need (tubes and electrolytic/paper capacitor replacements) and I've got about $2k in them.  Considering their total worth once I'm done with them is about $10k, it's a nice way to pick up some additional cash to support my hobbies.

Project for the next few weeks is to get the garage cleaned up and sorted out so I have enough room to get the Supra in there for the winter.

I really don't want to leave a rust-free 1980's Toyota outside for the rainy season. They have a tendency to want to return to Mother Earth if they start getting soaking wet for long periods of time!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Made Them An Offer They Couldn't Refuse

Well, way too early to tell if the election yesterday will have much effect on restoring our Constitutional Republic, but I found this cartoon a bit amusing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Voted

And so did my sweet wife.

I'm not sure how much good it does to vote conservative out here in Kommifornia, but hopefully our two votes canceled out two from the moochers and looters.....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pardon Me While I "Take Five".......

Spent all day Wednesday on the Iowa troubleshooting a receiver/coupler/antenna issue, and then all day Thursday and Friday down at the Maritime Museum repairing the Amateur Radio station located on the second floor.

A week or so ago we had an Icom PS-30 power supply that went casters up, so one of my friends and I replaced it with an Astron RS-35. The original power supply had been installed almost 30 years ago when the station was built, so we definitely got our money's worth!

After we pulled the operating bench away from the wall, we were horrified at the state of the wiring. Cables had been run without any regard to wire management, and were crisscrossed every which way, and many were tangled knots of AC power, DC power, Coax, and control cables.

We also had FIVE plug strips that were daisy-chained all along the floor.

First order of business was to remove everything, trace it back, and label both ends of the cables. Then we mounted a Rig Runner DC distribution block, installed Power Pole connectors on all the DC leads, and remove all the plug strips.

There were already four plug strips mounted under the bench, and connected to master switches on one end of the operating bench, but I guess it was just easier to run new ones than use the existing ones.

All the AC distribution wiring was cleaned up, all the AC plugs were labeled, the existing (old) plug strips were labeled, and many feet of jumbled up coax and control cables were shortened, coiled up, and labeled.

And we also removed the original barrier strip that was used to distribute the DC power from the defunct power supply.

The original installation, modified (poorly!) over the last 30 years, would definitely be on my top five "World's Worst Wiring Kluges".

So it's finished, and I made up a nice 11"x17" Visio drawing to go into the station operating manual, and the archives we keep detailing (usually!) the modifications made over the years.

So pardon me while I kick back and "Take Five".......

Egad....'Tis a Trifle HOT This Week

 Or for what's remaining of the week. It was 97* today, and is expected to be 100+ through Sunday. The humidity is only 17%, so you step...