Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Up and Running Solid.....For Now.....

Geez...I used to be soooo good at this stuff.

Anyway......The replacement wireless adapter is running rock-solid, the weewx software is pretty much configured the way I want after going through a few oopsies, and I cleared up a communications issue between the little PC running the software, and the Davis Instruments console. Turns out the "Archive Interval" has to be the same in the software and the console, or you get gaps in the plots that make them look pretty strange.

And after running it for a few days testing, tuning, and tweaking (the software, not me) it, I enabled the section in the "wwewx.conf" file to send the data to the Weather Underground website. I used to send it to the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP), but that's when I had the station connected to the APRS network back in Long Beach. Since I'm "antenna poor" here, I'll just send it to the Interwebz for now. I can always enable the section that sends the data to the CWOP, but I'll probably have to set up a new account, as my callsign and location have changed from when I last had a wx station online.

Since I'd really like to get the console for the weather station back up here so it's viewable without running down to the basement, I'll have to clear an area near the wife's PC to set things up.


Monday, July 29, 2019

GROAN.....This Is Getting Irksome.....

The brand-new Netgear "Nighthawk" WiFi adapter I bought last week just went casters-up.

The used one for this computer arrived this morning, installed easily, and gives me the full 250+MB download speeds I get with an Ethernet connection.

The one I bought a year or so ago for the wife's PC is also working A-OK. I tried both of them on the weather server and it popped right back up on the WLAN, and the one from the weather server is dead as doornail on this PC. No blinky lights, and it's stone cold while these normally run warm-to-the-touch.

Time to box it up and drag it back to Best Buy......

Friday, July 26, 2019

Hello?....This Thing Working? Can Ya Hear Me In The Back?

Well, we're up and running on the hot-rod PC from Long Beach with the fresh installation of Kubuntu 19.04.

And I'm slooowly migrating all the data I've accumulated on the laptop in the last year and a half from the laptop to here.

Now that I have a running, apparently stable, system, I reconnected the other drive in here, and now I have all my music back, so I can update the music on the memory stick I use in the Jeep.

Busted out my last brand-new keyboard ( a "das keyboard" from Newegg), and had to run out to Best Buy and get another mouse and a cheap set of speakers.

I still have the IBM Model M "clicky" keyboard I was using in Long Beach, and as soon as I get that one scrubbed up, I'll swap out this keyboard with that one.

And even though the laptop is a YUUGE one, it still has a smaller footprint than a full size 'desktop' PC with a 24" monitor sitting on top of it. I just might buy a "tower" case  to put this hardware in, and that could sit on the floor next to or under the desk here in the sunroom, freeing up some very valuable real estate on the desk here.

But that's a project for another day. Right now I still have to make sure I can get back into all the websites I need logins for.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Murphy Shooed Out, Weather Station On-Line, New Linux Distro for Me

OK, now where was I........

The whole thing with Murphy starts with the weather station. Since I want to put it on-line, I need to use the Davis "WeatherLink" data logger/com port. The one that was plugged in to my old system console was incompatible with the new console that came with the new weather station. I'd read some rumblings about this on some of the weather forums, but didn't give it much thought until I plugged the old data logger into the new console, and it displayed an "Incompatible Device Attached" warning. Sigh....went out shopping for one, found an 'open box' special on eBay for a great price, got it, plugged it in, and all is happy.

The software I'd been using to collect, display, and archive is still available, but it's not supported very well any longer, some of the specialized graphics libraries he used are difficult to find, and in general, the software is withering away.

After searching for a while, I settled on a package called "weewx", written entirely in Python, great "customizability" for adding things, and well supported. So I dusted off one of the little Zotac "Z-Box" mini-computers I had dedicated to this project, and proceeded to install the newest, latest, and greatest, version of OpenSUSE on it.

I couldn't get it to run right........and I've been using the various versions of SuSE since 1990something. This is also the same distribution I attempted to install numerous times since we arrived here on the hot rod desktop PC I was using way back in Long Beach.

Hmm....wonder what changed? I wasn't sure if it was a hardware problem on the desktop, but when two other PC's had problems with it, I starting thinking it was time to jump ship and find a new distro.

After going to Distrowatch and seeing what's out there these days, I settled on the Kubuntu distribution. I've used Kubuntu (Ubuntu with the KDE desktop environment) before, and liked it. I prefer the KDE desktop over the Gnome desktop for a variety of reasons, and it's nice to have your distribution 'built' from the start with whatever once you like.

Well, all three of the PC's are now happily running Kubuntu, after chasing my tail for a couple of weeks trying get OpenSUSE to run properly.

One of the rabbit-holes I fell into concerns getting the little PC on the network. Since I pretty much can't run Ethernet cable(s) willy-nilly here like I could in Long Beach, I'm stuck using wireless. For this PC, connection speed isn't critical as it'll never be downloading or streaming huge chunks of data, and the uploads it makes are HTML pages to maybe a handful of visitors. Not exactly a bandwidth hog! Well......I have this Linkys USB wireless dongle, and it should just plug in and run, right? WRONG.....it's a "Windows ONLY" device, and drivers don't exist for it. Turns out this particular device can be made to work, but it's a PITA, and after several days of frustration trying to make it work, I threw in the towel and drove over to Best Buy to get a USB WiFi adapter that was "MacOS Compatible". Since MacOS went to a Unix-based core, if it "Works With A Mac", it'll work with Linux. It still required a driver download, but that was painless compared to my attempts at trying to get the other one to work. And it's a "Dual Band" device, meaning I can use the 5GHz portion of our modem/wireless router, which supports the "n" standard of the 802.11 WiFi spec, meaning it can really pump data through. Even though I don't need it for this PC, it was available, it works, and we already have one for my wife's PC. It works so well, in fact, that I just bought another one today for the hot-rod desktop that will be coming back up here and relieving this laptop of duty.

Here's a screenshot of the server down in the basement as seen over our network on this laptop.



Works a treat, the little mini-pc only draws 10 Watts, and since it's fanless and has a solid-state drive ("SSD"), it's dead silent.

It's still limited to our internal LAN here until I get the router configured, the firewall on the little PC configured, and figure out some kind of 'Dynamic DNS' arrangement set up so it will be reachable by name from outside.

So that's why the Supra isn't finished, the antenna posts aren't set yet, and the big Yaesu is still in the OR. I get sidetracked too easily at times!

Rutger Hauer Passes......

Great actor, and he'll be missed.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Fun Day, Murphy Visits, Good Food

The wife and I took our Little Guy to the Greeley Old Time Farm Show today, and we had a blast. We drove up to The Kids' new digs in Laporte, checked their new place out now that the move-in-mess has been dispatched, saw The Dogs; Diamond, Coco, and Obie, the three we had back in Long Beach before The Kids moved out here and brought them, and picked up The Little Guy to head out for the day.

Photo courtesy of VisitGreeley.org


 
On the way there, Murphy paid his first call, distracting me as we left, and leaving the GPS unit on the counter. No problem! It's in Greeley right off Rte 43, East of town, at a YUUGE RV campground that's on both sides of the road, and it's on the South side. How hard can that be?

Uhhhh......well......

I finally got it hammered in to my Local Wetware Database, that "Crossroads Blvd" is NOT "Rte 34". For some reason, I got off I-25 at the Crossroads, instead of going a mile or so further South, and getting off at the correct exit.

Long story short, the GPS "guidance" (note the lower case "g" and quotes...) took us about 30 minutes out of the Best Way from where we were, but we made it there.

And it was great! An astounding collection of tractors from the 1920's up to the 1970's, all in pristine, operating condition, with friendly owners willing to talk your ear off about them. I saw names I remembered from childhood, and learned some new ones. We missed the Really Cool Stuff that happened on Saturday, like most of the demonstrations, but we're definitely going back next year. The 1800's operating sawmill was down due to a warped blade (yep, there's a place in Montana that still rebuilds those blades!), but the 1840's wood-framed Drill Rig was set up, and I got to learn a new type of drilling: "Percussion Drilling" vs modern "Rotary Drilling" ( cue up the Howard Hughes footage..). This rig "just" picked up a specialized piece of pipe (the "Chisel"), and dropped it down over, and over, and over again at several hits per minute. Depending on the soil, they could go up to 300' deep, many times deeper than a hand-dug, stone-lined well.

And the only Hit-and-Miss engine  still there was out of commission with some kind of gremlin. One of my best friends in high-school was really into these, and they're a riot to see in operation.

And The Little Guy got sit in the seat of a 1920's Farmall "Cub", that probably looks better today than when it rolled out of the factory, and is still in use! It's the same little "Cub" that was pulling a wagon with 4 car-type bench seats in it, loaded with people.

Just incredibly neat

Well, wow, Jim, that's really cool, but where are the pictures?

Murphy had me distracted enough before we left that I also forgot the camera bag on the kitchen counter.........I just don't function very well at 0830 without coffee!

And my cellphone was in the charger.

And for some reason, my sweet little wife, who's normally snapping like crazy with her phone whenever TLG is around, didn't take any pictures today......

Oh, well.........Murphy again, I guess!

So we stopped at Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers on the way home, and other than the place being more crowded than I'd ever seen, we had a pleasant lunch. Freddy's is pretty good, and is the first "Good" burger place we found out here. Great fries, very good frozen custard, shakes, and malts, and great burgers. Probably a Good Thing it's all the way on the other side of town, or my diet could be in jeopardy!

More about Murphy later. I'm bushed......

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Apollo 11

I'd write something about it, but I'm limited to an old man's remembrances of a time long past in a country that sadly doesn't exist any longer.

And others write far better than I.....

Friday, July 19, 2019

My *NEW CAR* Is Ready!



Ladies and gentlemen, GM proudly presents the all new, mid-engined, 2020 "C8" Corvette!

Read all about it here at the Hagerty website.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Meanwhile, Out In The Garage.....

I pulled the wiper arms, windshield trim, windshield header panel, and ventilation grilles, in preparation to clean and refurbish all these bits:



The wiper arms are pretty crusty, and will take some work with the Dremel to get clean, and the windshield trim is a disaster, compared to when it was new. The trim originally had a matte black coating, but that came off in huge chunks the first time I scrubbed the car. I was going to get it powder coated, but I've decided to do it Old Skool, and scuff the trim up with ScotchBrite, and spray it with some matte black epoxy paint I have.

I'll do the same to the header panel and wiper arms after I clean them.



So now all the stuff seen here at the base of the windshield:




Is gone:



I scrubbed out the channel behind the trim as well as I could, looking carefully for any rust popping up:



Unfortunately I found some, on the driver's side "A Pillar" windshield post:



I'm really hoping this is just surface rust caused by the trim rubbing through the paint, but won't know for sure until the windshield is pulled. Safelite has quoted me $335 to come out and replace the glass with a new one, but I'll have to talk to them to see how much extra they'll charge to pull the glass on one day, and install the new glass at a later date after I've cleaned up the rust. Since it's a second truck roll, I'm sure they'll be a charge.

The windshield in the car has 35 years worth of pits, chips, nicks, and scratches in it, and tint has developed that lovely "Old Toyota Yellow Brown Patina" in place of the OEM blue tint. Time for a new one.....

Monday, July 15, 2019

Good News for Little Miss Pebbles

Took her back to the Vet today to see how the meds are working, and this time the Surgeon checked her out. He said she's doing very well, and he thinks that maybe (fingers crossed) she just sprained or twisted her leg causing the injury, rather than actually tearing the ACL in her right hind leg.

And in spite of not getting her daily walks on the nature trails, she's lost about 8 ounces due to our diligently watching her food and limiting her treats.

So we'll continue with the Gabapentin for pain until it's gone, and he'll switch from Rimadyl to a much less expensive generic when what we got from him is used up.

She's definitely feeling better, and wanted to play last night, so we played a bit in the den with a squeaky toy, but I didn't toss it around the room like I usually do because I didn't want her zooming around and getting all worked up.

The lightning detector project is coming along now that my neighbor loaned me a couple of Arduino project books. One of the projects uses the same AS3935 sensor, and has the code I needed to read out and display ALL the registers in the chip instead of just grabbing the "Lightning Detected" and "Estimated Distance" registers. It also uses a different display that isn't limited to 2 lines of 16 characters, and it also includes the calibration routine to properly set up the sensor. It's a far more sophisticated project than the little "kit" I bought, and was pretty much what I was looking for.

The enclosure and Proto-Shields for the Arduino arrived today, along with a "BrutusBot" tracked vehicle semi autonomous "robot" that The Little Guy should get a kick out of as it scoots along avoiding obstacles.

Waiting for some penetrating oil to soak into the splines on the Supra's wiper arms. I may have to go buy a small puller to get them off after being rather firmly attached for the last 34 years!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Collings Foundation "Wings Of Freedom Tour" Is In Town

And I found out about it by hearing and seeing the P-51 and B-24 fly over today on their way to the Northern Colorado Regional Airport down by Loveland.



BUT...we have a birthday party on Saturday, and I'm sure Sunday will be a zoo there.

Maybe next year!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Ms. Swan Got A Scrub!

And man, was she dirty. I used the pressure washer with just water to wet her down first, then switched in the tank of Turtle Wax Max soap, and soaped her up good.

Yeah, I know.....sounds kinky!

So after scrubbing her with a big wash mitt, and a good rinse, she almost shines again!




However, before those festivities began, I pressure washed the engine bay. I'd applied a full can of Gunk to all the problem areas the night before, and another can right before I backed her out. And since the pressure washer has two tanks, I had the #2 tank for of some degreaser/cleaner, and switched to that before I blew all the Gunk, Grime, and Grunge off the engine.




It still needs a bunch of hand detailing in there, but at least all the crud I missed the first time is gone, which will make it much easier to do the planned mechanical work.

Next project is to remove each fuse, clean the contacts with DeoxIT!, and put the fuses back with a dab of silicone dielectric grease, something I've been doing to every connector pair I've had apart. Should probably do it to all the connectors, but these are high-quality, O-Ringed connectors, and every pair I've separated has been very clean inside. Anyway, this is brought on by the fact that when I started her yesterday, the voltmeter indicated 12.8 Volts, rather than the 14.1 Volts considered 'normal'. I figured great, the alternator went AWOL over the winter, but today it was indicating 13.8 Volts, and would go to 14.1 with some revs, so that kinda points to a connection problem that "cured" itself with a bit of vibration and/or thermal cycling. I was planning on replacing the alternator with an upgraded one from a 1992 Camry V6 that has 100 Amps output compared to the 60 Amps of the OEM unit. They're about $50 more than the OEM alternator, and are 100% compatible with the car. These cars all have a trait of weak alternators that dim the headlights at idle, and this cures the problem, and provides plenty of extra current for the electric fan(s) I want to install so I can delete the engine-driven fan and free up a few HP.

And cleaning up the garage yesterday really helped with locating stuff that was misplaced. I found several boxes of things I was going bonkers trying to find, and they turned up buried under some stuff on the totally wrong shelf from where they should have been. When I shelved all the "Garage Items", I wasn't too careful where I put stuff, and it bit me.

Now to get started on that FUGLY front bumper. Sorry, Ms. Swan, but you really need a "Nose Job"!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Garage Cleanup Time!

So this afternoon I cleaned a winter's worth of stuff from around my poor old Supra, and backed her outside.




Then I took stock of what had to be done with the shelves, and set to it.

Before:







After:



Doesn't look like four hours worth of work was accomplished, but since half of the stuff on the shelves was just tossed up there to get it off the floor when I built the shelves, there was a lot of sorting going on as I emptied the shelves.

All the antenna/radio stuff is now on specific shelves, all the car parts have been sorted and shelved according to what they are, several boxes of stuff that should have been in the basement are now down there, numerous boxes were consolidated with the empties flattened and tossed, and (once again!) I found a bunch of stuff that was MIA.


Tomorrow I'm going to Gunk the engine again, and give her a bath and pressure wash of the engine bay.

For now, she's back in the barn sleeping.....


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Coaxial Cable Entrance Box est Finee!

Yeah, I know....."The Older I Get, The Better I Was" and all that. Time was, though, when I could have terminated these four connectors, and had my tools all put away in under two hours.

Today? Not so much. Took me a total of four hours, start to finish, to get the connectors installed and the tools put away.

Of course that includes going out with the dog twice, going to the basement and/or garage numerous times to retrieve tools I thought I had in my "Connector Installation Field Kit" (they're back in the tub where they belong now), finding the new tips and installing one in my 40 Watt Weller iron, moving the wife's car into the garage after hearing the weather/hail report (BTW...the weather reporting station at the Fort Collins/Loveland airport went down Tuesday afternoon and is still down!), and briefly stopping for a hot dog and some of that great macaroni salad my wife made.

ANYWAY......the connectors are installed:


And sweeping them from 3~600MHz with a dummy load on the other side showed.....a nice, flat, 1:1 VSWR over the range, just as it should.

I put the cover on it, and I'll call it completed until I decide to modify it!



Coming up next is where I get off my duff and plant the posts. I'll get a hold of my ham neighbor and see when he has some time to help me this week.

I'll sure be glad when this project is wrapped up and I can get back on the Supra!

Think I'll back her out tomorrow and hose her off..........

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Independence Day!

Lawnmowers are running, people are gathering, and soon mass quantities of hot dogs and hamburgers will be consumed.

BBQ?



CHECK!


Fuel State?



READY!


Colors?



Proudly Displayed, SIR!

And it's a gorgeous day today in Northern Colorado. Partly cloudy, 82*, 44% relative humidity, light variable winds.

And as I used to hear years ago in my headset, "Altimeter Two Niner Seven Zero".

But we have a Tornado Watch until 2200, and a possibility of severe thunderstorms with hail, so I cleared the garage out so my wife can get her car inside tonight.

Y'all have a Safe And Sane Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Another "45 Minute" Job Takes How Long?

Almost three hours, and it was a comedy of errors.....

When I mounted the box and drilled the holes through the wall the other day, I used a 'minimum size' hole. And seeing as the holes on the two boxes aren't perfectly aligned, their effective size is lessened. The first time I tried to push the bales through the wall was no joy. The cables never made it to the other hole, and wound up coiled inside the wall.

I grabbed my drill and a 1/2" paddle bit, and bored out the holes. Then I used a length of #10 wire from my scrap box as a fish tape, pushed it through the wall, taped the coax to it on the outside, and pulled them both through the wall. Between going back and forth to the garage to get stuff, and shepherding the still lame dog in and out (she's much better with meds), this simple little job took waaay longet than it should have.

The outside box:



Connectors were given a squirt of silicone dielectric grease, and torqued down snugly. A drop of green "penetrating" LocTite was applied to keep them snug through the temperature fluctuations they'll see. I'm going to cut up some styrofoam to fill the box with for insulation, one of the main reasons I wanted to keep the through holes as small as possible. Probably should have drilled one big hole dead center in the box, but oh, well....20-20 hindsight. The loops in the cable are for stress relief.

And on the inside:



Yeah, three hours futzing around to get this far, and I still have to install the connectors on the cables.

At least they're adequately long. I would have been pretty upset if they were an inch too short.....

Monday, July 1, 2019

Lots 'O Lightning!

The little lightning detector has been going off constantly for the last couple of hours, indicating lightning discharges anywhere from 5km to 17km away.

And they're getting hammered up in Bellvue and Laporte, where the kids live.

Down here? Not so much, so I just spent a couple of hours watering the lawn and getting sprinkled on while doing it! Last year I tried to rely on Mother Nature, and she doesn't always cooperate when it comes to rain. We're in a "Precipitation Shadow" here, and while it can be coming down in buckets 8~10 miles away, we might get sprinkles. So rather than watch the grass croak again this summer, I'm watering it every 2~3 days, and only skipping those days where there's rain coming down.

And it's sprinkling again.....