Thursday, December 31, 2015

HUGE Day on the Battleship Iowa

Since the Iowa Hawkeyes are in the Rose Bowl this year, an estimated 25,000 Iowans came to L.A. to support their team.

And it looked like about half of them came down to the Iowa today for the rally!

**UPDATE** The current estimate is that we had between 10,000 and 15,000 people during the day.

I've seen big crowds at the Iowa before, but I've NEVER seen the entire parking lot, and the cruise ship parking lot, so full that the police blocked the entrance, and people were parking blocks away.

 This is what I saw when I was finally able to get into the parking lot and find a space:

The area between the road and the ship is about 60~75 feet wide, and the area between the forward and aft ramps leading onto and off the ship is several hundred feet long.

It was wall-to-wall people, spilling over onto the road in front of the ship. and requiring the security staff to "make a hole" for vehicle traffic.

And every single person was happy and smiling, and there were NO "incidents" of any kind!

This was taken later in the day, after the crowds had (somewhat) diminished, but as you can see, we still had quite a large number of people:

We even kept the ship open an hour longer so that everybody (as far as I know) who had been in line to get aboard at least got to see some of the ship.

So, a big THANK YOU to the wonderful people from the state of Iowa who helped make it possible to get the ship down here, and we hope you all had a great time!

Thank you all for your support, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and GO HAWKEYES!

Monday, December 28, 2015

On The Workbench This Week

I scored a Yaesu FRG-8800 General Coverage receiver a couple of weeks ago on eBay for $150, Buy-It-Now, with FREE shipping.

Since these things generally go for between $250~$400 depending on condition and options, I jumped on it even though it was sold as "Parts or Repair Only". Even if I couldn't repair it, I could always part it out.

Front panel from actual listing photos:

One thing I didn't notice in the listing photos, but caught me eye immediately when I unpacked it, was that the antenna connector had taken a pretty good hit at some time during the receiver's life.

If you look at the connector in the photo, you can see that it's punched in and angled upwards a bit, and you can see where the rear panel is pushed in at the lip of the upper case half:

The four position terminal strip for long wire antennas was also missing a screw, but I have a good collection of genuine Yaesu hardware that I've collected from radios I've parted out over the years, so that was no biggie.

The small access panel at the lower left is for the 3 "AA" size batteries used to back up the real time clock and the 12 memory positions, while the panel to the right of it is where the FRV-8800 VHF Converter would mount if so equipped.

The radio was sold as completely dead, which it was, but troubleshooting that problem would have to wait until I fixed the antenna connector.

I pulled the case off, unsoldered the board with the terminal strip, and saw that the connector had been hit hard enough to make the retaining nut "jump" one thread from side-to-side. Thinking I could just use a screwdriver to "pop" the nut back so I could straighten it out, I carefully applied some force to it, only to have the connector shatter! Yaesu, in a cost-cutting move, opted to use a CAST connector instead of a machined one, and castings don't like shock and being bent back and forth!

Fortunately, I have a supply of single-hole, panel-mount Type-N females, so that's what I used to replace the busted connector, after I straightened the rear panel using some hardwood blocks and a big "C" clamp.

After that was done, I noticed that the little subassembly with the "Mode" switched was popped loose from its mounting clips on the front panel, explaining why the mode switches didn't work, and felt "dead". Snapping that back into position made the switches come forward enough that the buttons on the front panel now engaged them.

The DOA problem turned out to be an internal 2A fuse on the power supply regulator board. I replaced the fuse and measured the current into and out of the regulator assembly, and they were in spec, so the fuse probably went due to old age and repeated thermal cycling.

The last thing I found was that all 4 of the dial lamps were blown. I replaced those with blue 3mm diameter LED's, and now the dial lights up in a "Cool Blue" color.

A general check of the alignment (sensitivity and frequency accuracy) shows it to be spot on the published specs, so I'm considering it repaired.

Cosmetically it needs a good cleaning, and there's a nasty scuff on the dial "glass", but that should polish out with some Novus plastic polish.

So, for $150 and a few $$ in parts, I now have a nicely operating Yaesu FRG-8800 General Coverage receiver.

I don't think the audio sounds as "smooth" as it did on my previous FRG-7700 receiver, so I'll have to Google around a bit and see if there's any "audio enhancement" mods for it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Song #2

Waaaay back when I first started working for Boeing on the Sea Launch program, I stumbled across this video during the trip back from the launch of the XM-3 satellite.

After the launch, we're all pretty burned out, and this launch, my first, was especially stressful, as we sat at the launch site for TWO WEEKS waiting for the sea currents to calm down so the Dynamic Positioning System could hold the Launch Platform in position.

Finally, after all the stress, we received launch clearance, and began the automated countdown. The launch vehicle was erected, the LP cleared of people, and the fueling began. We got down to T-8 minutes, and an abort was called due to some issue with the launch vehicle.

MAJOR bummer, as if an abort was called after fueling was started, it was a minimum two day turn around, The tanks had to be drained, then flushed and purged, and the issue with the launch vehicle resolved.

We wound up being there another week, and were really burned out by the time we launched, secured our gear, and headed home.

Hence, this video, as annoying as it is, seemed to fit our mood, and became a Sea Launch "Christmas Classic".

It's silly, stupid, and annoying, but then so were we after all the stress, missed sleep, 12~14 hour days, and being stuck on the ACS for over a month.......

I promise my next "Christmas Song" will be much more enjoyable!

Christmas Song #3

One of the two "Favorite Christmas Songs" I posted over on Miss Lisa's blog when she asked is "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses.

It's a cute little song with a happy ending, and always makes me smile.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

58 Years Ago Today

The Boeing 707 first flew.

I've flown in them many times, and always got quite a thrill out of it.

The one pictured above is owned by John Travolta, and has been lovingly restored to its full glory.

The 707 was based on the famous "Dash 80" that Tex Johnson barrel rolled, and was the prototype for the KC-135 tanker that the US Air Force still flies, although they've all been rebuilt and re-engined so many times that I wonder how much of the original airplane is left!

Truly beautiful aircraft, and they made possible the rise of low-cost transatlantic and transpacific air travel.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Two For Saturday

The music video was found over on LL's blog, while the sign came from Common Sense Evaluation.

I just thought they kind of went togther.....

After doing some Googling for "The American's Creed", and finding several versions of what's been called "The American/s Creed", I found that this particular version was written by a man named Dean Alfange.

His brief bio here is from "Good Reads".

Dean Alfange was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) of Greek parents, December 2, 1897. His family migrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York, when he was very young. He attended Hamilton College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1922. Later he attended Columbia University Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1925.

Alfange's interests led him to pursue a career in politics as well as law. He was also deeply involved with the Order of Ahepa, a Greek-American cultural organization, acting as its national president from 1927-1929. He ran for New York State Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1942 against Thomas E. Dewey and was a strong advocate of the New Deal and a great admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

During World War II he was the Vice-Chairman of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe. He made speeches for aid to the Jews against the Nazis, and at a hearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives submitted a plan to save the Jews in Europe. After World War II he became chairman of the Committee to Arm the Jewish State, a group aimed at lifting the arms embargo on Palestine.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Liberal Party in 1944 when the American Labor Party split between pro-communist and anti-communist factions. Alfange held nominations or appointments
from Democrats and Republicans as well as the Liberal and American Labor Party. As early as 1954 he expressed opposition to the American policy of military aid to the French government in Indochina, his position being one based on anti-colonialism. This position continued throughout America's involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.

Other positions held by Alfange were: Deputy Attorney General of New York State, Trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York State Quarter-Horse Racing Commissioner. Among his awards are the Freedom Foundation Award (1952) for his composition “My Creed” (included in Box 5, folder 3) and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Award for his book The Supreme Court and the National Will (1937).

He died in New York City on October 24, 1989 at age 91.


This man helped found the modern "liberal" movement, which bears little resemblance to the "liberal" parties of today.

He's probably spinning in his grave like a gyroscope over what the "liberals" have become...........

Friday, December 18, 2015

Housing Market Bubble Inflating Again

At least it is by my observations.

When the housing market blew up last time, the real estate listings I get were loaded with short sales and foreclosures. Over the last few years, these slowly went away, and 95+% of what I received were just regular sales.

Over the last two months or so, I'm seeing a rising number of short sales and foreclosures again, along with hearing things on the radio and in blogs about the "0% Down" loans, and even some sub-prome loans being offered again.

This morning's listing of 5 properties in the 60435 area code had two foreclosures, two short sales, and one regular sale.

Looks like it's starting again, and when this one pops, I suspect it will be worse than the last time....

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

112 Years Ago Today

This happened:

And the world changed forever.

An uncle on my Mom's side was about 10 years old when this happened, and I remember him crying when we landed on the Moon.

He simply couldn't believe that in his lifetime we had gone from a fragile little 12 Horsepower machine, to a giant, thundering rocket (still the most powerful machine ever built) that carried three men to the Moon.

I'll always remember his fascination with television, and the fact that it "had NO moving parts".

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Finally Got My Windows 7 PC Back Up and Running Stable

GROAN.....what a PITA.

After doing a restore to the last previously known "good" configuration, it seemed to be running OK, but with a ton of almost continuous  hard-disk activity, and requiring numerous "updates", and reboots.

It was so sluggish that I was about to rip out what's left of my hair, and start on my beard....

Finally, after letting it run for about 12 hours total, it's settled down, and is operating more-or-less normally.

At least all the installed software on it works without blowing up, and I can use my Flex Radio Systems 5000A again. I haven't tried any of the digital programs, like FLdigi, or the slow-scan/wefax/RTTY programs yet, so I might have to reconfigure the program that runs the virtual serial ports.

And this time, rather than going through and removing all the Windows Updates by hand, I went ahead and took several people's advice and installed the GWX Control Panel, which makes rooting out and killing the Windows 10 "upgrade" notifications and included spyware as easy as a few mouse clicks.

I even sent to guy $10 and thanked him!

The User Guide is located here, and I highly recommend getting this fine utility if you're running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1.

Back to checking if *all* my Amateur Radio software is working......

Saturday, December 12, 2015

One For Old_NFO.......


Courtesy of Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford during the Gemini VI mission

Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Old Blue Eyes would have been 100 years old today.

Not much I can say about him that hasn't already been said. I remember watching him in movies when I was a kid, especially movies like Ocean's 11, and thinking the Rat Pack was the coolest bunch of guys (next to the Astronauts!) in the world.

Truly a different world back then, and for all it's faults, I think a better place.....

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Down With A Cold.....

Got the blechs again...

Started feeling something coming on late Sunday. My wife came home early last Thursday, and took Friday off, and now it looks like I have it.

Sore throat, runny nose, minor cough, and general blotto feeling.

Feeling somewhat better today, and spent most of the day sleeping. I'll hit the NyQil and Mucinex in a few, and then off to bed.

Oh, well.....

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Long Time Gone ~ Aliotta Haynes Jerimiah

These guys were fairly big in the Chicago area in the late 1960's/early 1970's.

Their most "mainstream" hit was called "Lake Shore Drive", about the road of the same name that runs along the West coast of Lake Michigan, but I always liked this one better.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"A Date Which Will Live In Infamy..."

Every day we lose many WWII Vets.

Soon there will be none.

I'm very blessed in that I get to meet many of them doing my various "jobs" on the Iowa.

Cherish them while we still have them. They truly were "The Greatest Generation".

These two "vets" of a slightly different type saw much action.

The USS Iowa, and the USS Midway. I'm fortunate to have been on both, and have friends on both.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I "Fixed" My Windoze PC

WELL....thinking about this, I decided to pull the AC plug from the UPS for a few minutes to let the power supply completely discharge, which completely turns the PC off.

Most newer PC's actually don't turn "off", in much the same way that a newer TV never turns completely "off", since the TV needs some circuitry alive 24/7 to detect the commands from the remote.

PC's are similar in the the power switch doesn't disconnect the power like it did in the old "AT" days, but rather puts the PC into a very deep sleep, and brings it back up when the "power" button is pressed.

Sure enough, after being unplugged for a few minutes it got past the POST error, and began to boot into Windoze.

Since I'd attempted to restart it numerous times after the error first appeared, it had some corrupted files, so I let Windoze search for the problems, and selected "Continue" when it offered to restore the system to it's last known operating state.

Now I'll re-do all the updates that I installed before we went to Colorado for Thanksgiving, and *carefully* nuke all the "Get Windows 10!!" spyware that the mothership installs.

And this time, when it wants a reboot, I'll do a complete shutdown, unplug it for a few minutes, and then bring it back up!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Liberal vs. Actual reality

Shamelessly swiped from the fine people at WRSA.....

Nothing to see here.....Move along.....

Thursday, December 3, 2015

More "Workplace Violence".....

I was going to do a "Colorado Wrap Up" post, and then the ugliness in San Berdoo took place.

It's amazing how fast the media has dropped this hot potato, no doubt due to the identity of the perps, and the glaring fact that it doesn't fit the official agenda.

And of course, the POS currently residing in our White House immediately spun another BLATANT LIE about how "People we won't let fly can walk into any gun store and buy a gun".

Not hardly......

Been Busy....Follow-Up Post Coming Soon To A Browser Near <i>YOU</i>!

 Been a week since last post. Been busy herding grandkids, playing with the dog, yard work, house items, and working on all manner of stuff....