Monday, January 30, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Headed Out.....

It's 78 degrees, the sun is shining, and I'm wearing one of my Celica Supra T-shirts.

I just cleaned the windows, and she's idling in the driveway to warm up a bit.

Time to hit the road, shake out any rain water still in her, and blow some cobwebs out of the brain.

Just got back with all the carbon blown out of the engine, and all the cobwebs blown out of the head.

Put about 60 miles on the car, and found it it has a water leak, probably the sunroof, that got the passenger seat and all the junk I had sitting on it, pretty wet.

SO.....I'll be leaving the windows down during the day for the next few days.

And I'll put a tarp over it so the rain won't go where it's not supposed to!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

"Edge of Space" It 'Aint!

Rant time.....

I just received my new QST magazine, and on the cover as the lead story is an article about "Amateur Radio At The Edge Of SPACE!".....

It's an article about a group of high-school Hams who send home brew instrument packages up ~120,000 feet using balloons, and recording the downlinked data.

This is great stuff, and I greatly admire the young men and women who are doing it.

BUT....for crying out loud, STOP calling it "The Edge of Space"!

It's NOT.

It's not even close!

The official definition of "Space", is an altitude ABOVE 100km, or about 62 miles, a bit more than 328,000 feet.

120,000 feet is a bit more than ONE-THIRD the required altitude to be in "space", and as such is pretty far from being "the edge" of anything meaningfully close to "space".

I remember not too long ago when the guy jumped out of the balloon sponsored by Red Bull, and they insisted on using this same "Edge of Space" nonsense.

I sure don't have the big brass ones it takes to do that, and I also greatly admire Felix Baumgartner for having the cajones to do it, but it wasn't, and never will be, "The Edge of Space".

Knock it off,'re just demeaning the people who really do go into space for your own cheap amusement....

/rant off

Friday, January 27, 2017

50 Years Ago Today

The Apollo 1 fire occurred, taking three of our Astronauts on their final voyage.

Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee  perished in the fire inside thier Apollo Command Module.

The cause of the fire was eventually traced to some chaffed/frayed wire that caused a spark, resulting in an extremely hot flash fire accelerated by the pure Oxygen used at the time in the Command Module.

In the race to beat the Russians to the Moon, compromises had been made in the design of the Command Module, including the use of a pure Oxygen atmosphere. At the time it was deemed too expensive, and more importantly, too heavy, to include the required Nitrogen system so the the atmosphere in the Command Module would be "air", and a much simpler pure Oxygen system was used.

The hatch on the side of the Command Module had also been designed to open inward, and had many bolts to secure it closed, making it very difficult to get into the  Command Module quickly from the outside.

And many materials used in the interior of the Command Module were later found to be extremely flammable in a pure Oxygen atmosphere.

Manufacturing carelessness also played a factor in the accident, as quality controls were not up to the standards used today. One of the things that NASA did with the remaining Command Modules in the inventory was to put them on shake tables, and shake the living daylights out them to see if anything was loose. One thing I remember from from my NASA Soldering Certification classes was that several POUNDS of loose solder bits and loose solder "balls" were shaken loose from the Command Modules that were tested.

Every one of these little things was a potential short circuit that would be floating around in the microgravity experienced by the Command Module during it's flight, and the Engineers were horrified to see how much junk came out after the shake tests.

Wiring was also rerouted, tied down, and encapsulated with tubing at any point where it rub against anything to ensure that the insulation would remain intact.

And the pure Oxygen system was replaced with a system that used a 60/40 mix of Nitrogen and Oxygen until the Command Module was in orbit, at which time the Nitrogen was slowly purged, and the atmosphere replaced with pure Oxygen.

Manned spaceflight is an extremely risky business, even when practicing on the ground, and you will lose flight crews. You take every precaution you can, design things with triple redundancy, have detailed checklists that must be rigorously followed, and still, you cross your fingers and say a little prayer when the crew boards the spacecraft.

Man is a curious, exploring animal, driven in his quest by a thirst for knowledge and understanding.

And brave men like these lead the way.

God speed, Apollo 1 crew.

Per Aspera Ad Astrum

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What A Difference A Day (or two...) Makes

Don't worry, I won't 'entertain' you by singing.

"Lake Long Beach" has sunk back into the Earth, leaving only very minor inconveniences behind.

The wind had knocked the vent stack for the water heater loose, so I had to get the ladder out of the garage, climb yp there, and put it back together. Our across the street plumber friend had knocked the mountings around when he installed our new water heater last summer, and it was just a matter of time before Mother Nature moved it around some more.

This resulted in two things happening. First, when the wind blew, the open end of the stack resonated like a large organ pipe with a rather disturbing thrumming sound, and second, when the gas burner fired up, it sounded somewhat akin to an F-4 Phantom lighting up in the driveway.

The blowing wind sound really bugged my wife, and the jet engine noise bugged her even more, to the point where she stated saying "Oh My God....IT'S GOING TO EXPLODE!".

So up I went to rectify the damage.

And we really ducked a bullet as far as water incursion goes. I had two boxes of "stuff" that got wet. One has a large, heavy Rohn "Non Penetrating Roof Mount" antenna base that was surplus from my wireless service provider days, and the other had some cleaning/waxing supplies in it.

The Rohn box had maybe 1/2" of "water damage" to it, and got securely taped up today, and the other box went into the recycle bin after I moved the items in it to another box.

And the grass is going to grow like crazy over the next few weeks!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Welcome to "Lake Long Beach"!

Just a bit of water in the back yard....

Even though we make sure the dog always has a bowl of fresh water in the backyard, I don't think she needs it today, and wouldn't want to wade out there to get to it...

The brick border is actually TWO bricks high....

If you know how big a DogLoo is, this will give you an idea how deep the water on the patio is...

Or if you don't know how big a DogLoo is, here's a standard size cooler-on-wheels...

View from the porch steps...

Nope, not doing any laundry today...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

More Rain On The Way ***UPDATE***

Supposed to start again tonight, and then "Heavy Rain" all day Sunday, Sunday night, and "80%" through Monday night, tapering off through Tuesday.

With the ground as saturated as it is, I predict the return of "Lake Long Beach" in the back yard.

My wife told me there were whitecaps on the water in the L.A. River on her way home from work yesterday.......

Well, the rain started again early this morning, around 0300 when I had to get up and let the dog out.

Something about a cold nose in the arm or face just makes me open my eyes to see what's up.

It was off and on until around 0800 when it started coming down steadily, and it's been doing that for the last 6 hours.

So far we've received slightly over 1.25", and it's coming down at about .6" per hour.

And it's expected to continue like this the rest of the day, and through tonight.

And tomorrow, and tomorrow night, tapering off on Tuesday.

"Lake Long Beach" has returned, and might get into the garage if this keeps up......

Friday, January 20, 2017

Obama Legacy Disposal Team

Courtesy of Stilton over at "Hope and Change Cartoons".

Now that President Trump (God, that feels good to write!) and the adults are back in charge, "Hope and Change Cartoons" won't be published as much.

It was a great run, Mr. Jarlsberg. Thanks for doing it!

And in other news, we got TWO INCHES of rain last night. The back yard is now a lake....

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

See Through Engine - 4K Slow Motion Visible Combustion

Ran across this on YouTube while looking for something else.

It's really cool to watch the flame propagation from the ignition point through the chamber.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Anybody Ever Leave Las Vegas Headed NORTH On A Sunday??

I know you sure don't want to head out SOUTH, back to L.A. on a Sunday!

The reason I'm asking is that registration for "Supras in Vegas 2017" just opened, and I went ahead and registered.

Since God willin' and the crick don't rise we'll be living in Fort Collins at that time, I'm planning my route from Fort Collins to Vegas.

Since it's 803 miles, I'm not going to do it in one shot! If I were 20 years younger, maybe, but driving through that terrain, at night, alone, is NOT something I relish doing anymore.

So far, I'm planning on overnighting in Green River, Utah, which is almost exactly half way between Fort Collins and Vegas.

I'll leave Fort Collins on Tuesday, and then roll into Vegas on Wednesday. The event starts Thursday, so I'll have Wednesday night to get a good night's sleep.

The event ends Saturday around 1700, and then we always have a "Mark II get together dinner" at one of the hotel/casinos about halfway back to the Excalibur from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

I'll roll out of Vegas Sunday, stop again in Green River, and should get back to Fort Collins on Monday.

Hopefully the traffic headed NORTH out of Vegas won't be nearly as bad as that insane crawl back to L.A. would be on a Sunday afternoon.

I'll have to ask some of the regulars to the event if they've ever gone North on a Sunday.....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Early Chrysler "FirePower" Hemi Time-Lapse Rebuild

Another great time-lapse rebuild from Hagerty, this time of an early Chrysler "FirePower" HEMI!

I'll bet it really sings with that exhaust system.

Watch it in full screen for best viewing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rain and Other Stuff....

We've received over an inch of rain from this last storm system, bringing our season total to slightly over 8".

The NWS is calling for a 50% chance of more tonight, and then nothing until this time next week. Further North, the bay area's been really getting hammered, with more rain this month than our season-to-date total.

And there was another screwy "low speed" chase the other night. Some 30 year old known gang banger shot his sister-in-law, and then melted into the woodwork. The cops had a BOLO out on him, and he popped up in Reseda, up in "The Valley".

He took off with a squad in pursuit, and then proceeded to enter the 405 Southbound, where he slowed down to 5~30MPH for the next two hours, throwing stuff out of his car, and taunting the police the entire time. They finally got a couple of BIG SUV's after him, and did the -tap-and-spin maneuver to stop him, and then let the dogs loose.

I haven't heard anything else, but I think he'll be going bye-bye for a while.

And we got the antenna rotor "fixed" down at K6AA. It turns out it was a non-problem caused by letting the antenna sot at a fixed position for long periods of time.

There's a potentiometer inside the rotor motor unit up on the tower that's used to supply position feedback to the indicating meter in the control head. As the motor rotates, so does the pot, sending a variable voltage to the meter. It's a "wire-wound" pot with a brass "wiper", and when it sits too long in one position, a small amount of corrosion forms between the brass wiper and the NiChrome wire of the winding. Since the applied voltage is only about 6 Volts, it's not enough to "punch through" the corrosion, and the voltage never gets back down to the meter. All we had to do was run the rotor through its full range of travel a few times, the wiper cleaned the wire winding, and the "problem" went away.

We made a note in the station operating manual that to prevent this issue in the future, the rotor should be cycled through its full range weekly, but I'll bet this happens again within six months....

Monday, January 9, 2017

blech......Getting Over a Cold

Been a bit under the weather, so I've been taking it a bit easy.

We got clobbered with another .75" of rain last night. Started about 0300 and woke me up it was raining so hard. No flooding and no mudslide I've heard of, so all is well here.

Have a brunch appointment Tuesday morning at one of my favorite little places, The Think Cafe in San Pedro, and then on to the L.A. Maritime Museum to troubleshoot the antenna rotator....again!

From the descriptions given by the operators at K6AA, the rotator is malfunctioning. It might be a loose wire on the back of the control unit, or the direction indicating potentiometer up in the rotor head may have gone TU. Since none of us are "certified" to climb the tower, and lack the now required insurance, if it is the rotor head, that'll mean hiring the guy we use to come out and swap the rotor head out with one we'll have to order if our troubleshooting leads to that problem.

Here's hoping it's just a loose connection on the back, as between ordering up a rebuilt rotor and paying the guy to swap it out, that's about $600 the club would rather not spend!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Stuff That "Our Side" Knows and Understands

You've probably seen this before, but it's always nice to see it again.

Graphic courtesy of Matt Bracken and the good folks at WRSA.

Phony Facebook Accounts

So far I've had five pop up out of nowhere. It took about 4 hours for them to respond the first time and kill the fake account, but now they're stamping them out about as fast as they pop up.

I think it also helps that several of my friends have notified them, as they're killing them off in minutes now.

Oh, well.....

Friday, January 6, 2017

Anti Trump Tripe

From a (former) friend on FarceBook comes this.

Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting The Trump Agenda.

I'm not going to link to it. You can Google it. I know, it's a good thing to read and try and understand what "The Other Side" is up to, but every time I do that I get nauseated. I'll leave it to those with stronger stomachs.'s supposedly written by "Former Congressional Staffers" who "know all the tricks" to getting Congress to "listen".

Notice the emphasis on the word "tricks"? Not advice, or suggestions, but the TRICKS, by God!

Typical lib-speak, as it implies the easy way. Rather than relying on logic and facts, we'll just "trick" them into listening to us., wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

I'm so sick of this friggin' BS it makes my blood boil.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Got Nuttin' Today....

Just been tinkering on yet another ( ! ) laptop for my friend's animal rescue place.

This one had a hard-disk that was on it's way out, so I ran to Best Buy yesterday to grab a new drive, and now it's finishing up all the Windoze Updates.

I bought a 500 GB Seagate drive for FIFTY BUCKS....think about that a second.

The first brand-new hard drive I ever bought was in December of 1996. Fry's Electronics was having an after Christmas sale, and I bought a Western Digital 1.6 GB drive for TWO HUNDRED BUCKS.

And that was a very good price at the time.

So, what this means is that the drive I bought has over two-hundred and fifty times the capacity for one-quarter of the price.

In other words, the "raw" price-per-bit has dropped by a factor of one thousand in the twenty years since I bought that first drive.

And the reliability and performance have increased by a great margin, too.

I haven't bought any memory lately, but the first memory I ever bought was sometime in 1995 for my son's first computer.

I paid $35 per MEGABYTE for it.

4 meg of memory cost me about $150 out the door back then, and IIRC it wasn't even EDO (Extended Data Output) memory, just "regular" FPM, or "Fast Page Memory".

Today, 4 GIG of memory is about $25 at Newegg, or  greater than FOUR THOUSAND times cheaper.

And it's much faster memory, to boot.

I'm not sure if this makes me feel old or not......

Sunday, January 1, 2017

***YAWN*** Happy New Year!

Lots of fireworks around here last night, and something I hadn't noticed in previous New Year's Eves.....gunfire!

Drove the dog nuts, and I had to give her a couple of Benadryls to get her calmed down.

I just hope the "people" shooting off guns were shooting them into the ground.

Every time I heard somebody start to dump a magazine, I'd start counting shots.

EVERY time it was 15 shots or 17 shots. Every. Single. Time.

So, hey's that "High Capacity Magazine" ban working out for you? Pretty good, huh?

And I could have sworn I heard somebody rip off a string of shots in full-auto.

Considering were only a mile or so South of infamous North Long Beach, it was probably a banger bangin' away....

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 ...