Monday, December 30, 2019

What's On The Workbench?

I originally found this little guy stuffed under a workbench in my Sweet Little Wife's garage when I first moved in. The garage had been a "Man Cave" type place, with carpet and old couches, a little fridge for beer, big TV set, etc., etc, etc. Her first husband would hang out with his buddies after work and sometimes they'd get the guitars out and jam.

This is what he used, a Valco "Supro":

A very simple little "5 Watt" class amp with a single 6V6GT output tube, which is kinda the "little brother" to the ever popular 6L6GC. I showed it to her, and she almost cried, remembering the jam sessions, so I carefully put it away so I could see what it needed to sing again.

Fast forward about 10 years, and I decided to dig it out (she didn't remember me saving it) and give it a good going over. Over the years I collected all the information and schematics I could find for these small Valco amps, so I'm fortunate to have a schematic that matches the chassis 100%.

I flipped it around and pulled the chassis out:

And set it up on the bench:

Yeah, pretty crusty! I got out my EICO tube tester, and checked the three tubes. The rectifier tube appeared OK, but the 6V6 output tube had "shorts", as did the 6SL7GT dual triode input/driver tube.

And it's a "gimme" that the electrolytic capacitors are leaky, as are all the notorious molded paper capacitors, which are all those pink cylinders:

And to add a fourth 1/4" jack input, they removed the fuse holder, stuck in another jack, and scabbed a 4 Amp breaker in there:

Yeah, it's a mess:

Le Sigh.....

So I sent an order off a week or so ago to "Antique Electronic Supply", one of my go-to places for tube parts. Great service, fair prices, and wide variety of parts catering to old tube amps as well as "Luthier" supplies for old guitars, and things like correct replacement Fender knobs. Got three new tubes, some capacitors and odd resistors, fuseholders (I have fuses), and a new leather carrying handle and hardware for this little guy, as the original leather handle had disintegrated long before I first met him.

All I've done so far besides take the chassis out is to brush the dirt off it, and then wipe it down to get the nasty stuff off.  I pulled the "extra" instrument input jack and put a new fuse holder in there. I'm also going to install a proper 3-wire grounded cord on it a bit later. I cleaned the volume and tone controls, 1/4" jacks, and the tube socket pins with some Caig D5 DeoxIT. And I ordered a replacement 8" speaker tonight, as the old one is just too fragile after all these years.

It'll be interesting to see how it sounds after I finish it. Other than the new handle on top, I'm going to tray and leave the cabinet pretty much alone. I'll clean it and trim/reglue any loose covering, but I'm not going to recover it.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Quiet Day, 2" of Snow, Not Much Going On.....

The snow had pretty much stopped by 0600 or so. The snow rake Well Seasoned Fool told me about worked just great on the car. It would have been nice to have after that big snow we had a few weeks ago, but now I have it for the next big snow:

Well worth the $40 I paid for it. The 48" hardwood handle makes getting all the snow off the glass a breeze, and it gets the snow off the roof above the doors so you don't get dumped on when you open the door.

And don't even bother to ask about that POS the auger motor won't turn on when you squeeze the switch on the handle. Got the sidewalk cleared, but then it took a dump doing the driveway. It's never acted right, and now it doesn't even click when you squeeze the handle.

And we now have this brute getting ready to be put in service:

The attachments and bowl are in the dishwasher (Dishwasher Safe!), and as soon as we finish the last loaf from the second Great Bread Experiment I'll be making some regular white bread to see how it works.

And from my son back in Kommiefornia, I present you the Best Mouse Pad EVER:

It's huge, and has a world map with time zones printed on it.

It's almost too big to fit on my operating desk here in the sun room, so I might have to rearrange the equipment on the desk to use it.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas To All.....

In case I get reeeeal busy over the next few days, I'll take the time now to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

BREAD!.....Part Deux

Got another Big Ball 'O Bread nicely buttered up and rising in the warm oven.

All the advice I received after the first Great Bread Experiment indicated a couple of things. One, the 70* ambient here is probably a bit too cool for the yeast to really kick off, and Two, the 70* ambient here is probably a bit too cool for the bread to raise normally.

Everybody's solution (D'OH!) was to proof the yeast and raise the bread in a slightly warm oven.

I got curious about how low a set-point our oven could hold, so I downloaded the manual and read it. There was nothing even remotely approaching a set of "Specifications" in any of the documents I could find on the GE Support website, so I did an experiment the other night. I set it to convection bake, entered 100 degrees, and hit start. The display immediately jumped to 170*, sat there a few seconds, and then the display went to 100* (it always does that a few seconds after it displays the set point you just entered) and slowly began to go up. When it hit 170* it stabilized and held it.

OK, a bit too warm. I set it to 170*, let it run for a few minutes, and then shut it off. It peaked at 130*, and when it got down to 100* or so I declared it to be a "warm oven", and commenced baking.

I was MUCH more careful getting the yeast started this time. I mixed the packet of yeast with 1/8tsp of Turbinado sugar and 1/4 cup of water, and put it in the warm oven as I started mixing the other ingredients.

After about 15 minutes, I had this:

Holy Smokes, It more than doubled in volume! And it smelled great, bringing back memories of Mom making bread. Looks I got got some happy yeast this time, compared to the puddle of bubbly water I had last time when I let it sit out in a large bowl at 70*.

Commence Mixing!.....

Adding in the Bubbly Happy Yeast.....

And after thoroughly  mixing the ingredients, we now have a nice, buttered ball of "Smooth and Elastic" dough, per the recipe, something that was also a bit lacking the last time.

Sitting in the approx 100*F oven.....

45 minutes later and it's already close to double.....

90 minutes, and ready to smack down, divide, and plop into the buttered loaf baking dishes....and it's turning into The Loaf That Ate Fort Collins!

Oh, well....on to Divide and Conquer!

The Big Ball was separated and plopped into the two well-buttered glass baking pans, and ut back into the warm oven to continue raising.....

I need to take lessons into how to get the two loaves the same size....

Out of the oven after 45 minutes so I can preheat the oven to 390*.

Wow...they filled the baking dishes this time. Happy Yeast!


In they go.....

And 35 minutes later....FRESH BREAD!

Yeah, one of them slumped a bit, but they both popped right out of the dish after cooling for 20 minutes.


Much lighter than last time, but it has a tendency to fall apart. It tastes great, but my Sweet Little Wife commented that it needs a bit more salt, so I'll increase the salt by 1/4~1/2 tsp. One of the reasons it falls apart is that this loaf has a "seam" in it from when I divided the Big Ball and shaped it to fit the dish. I didn't make sure all the parts were blended together, and now the San Andreas Fault is running through this loaf.

Not much beats fresh bread with fresh dairy butter on it!

I'll get the recipe dialed in better, but now that I have the yeast proofing nailed, and the raising temperature nailed, the rest is just "Adjust to Taste".

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Little Cleaning Progress

Still not "Hittin' On All 8", but I have made some progress getting the basement area squared away.

The "workbench" for building models is getting much more organized:

I've had the lamp for a year or so, but the toolbox is fairly new from Harbor Freight.

An upcoming "Must Do" project will be to get additional lighting over this bench and the electronics bench on the wall opposite this one. I think the easiest way is to do surface-mount track lighting, which should give me some flexibility in moving lights around, type and color temperature of the illuminator, and the ability to snap another light in the track if I need more illumination.

And for the first time since we moved in here, the floor is (somewhat) unobstructed, giving The Little Guy, the dog, and my Kyosho Mini-Z some maneuvering room:

From the original listing pix:

Still have quite a ways to go to get it "nice", but it's getting there. Dumping stuff on eBay has helped clear out a LOT of space, and I've got more to list on Sunday.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday Again?

Not much going on. It's overcast, 44*, the wind is blowing like crazy (sustained 15MPH, gusts to 25...), and we're expecting snow.

And I'm still flogging along with this "low level" cold. Not coughing much, but sneezing some, and got aches, no fever. Didn't roll out of the rack until 1500 the other day, and just have slightly more than zero energy.

Was supposed to go see "Ford v. Ferrari" today, but as I was sneezing into my coffee, my Sweet Little Wife came up and said it was probably better if we stayed home today.

Think I'll go have a bowl of soup.....

Monday, December 9, 2019

Christmas Clean-Up Time

Since we'll be hosting the clan for Christmas, and I'm sloooooow, I started doing the Christmas Clean-up this week.

The tree is up, the Nativity scene is up, and all the little battery-powered doo-dads my wife likes are up and running.

I'll do the sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping of the tile (we have a LOT of tile) the week before, along with doing all four bathrooms, and the laundry room. The final item to be cleaned up and squared away will be this desk in the sun room where I do my radio and computer ops.

And then there's the basement.....

Since this will take the longest, I started a few days ago, and I've almost got the "workshop" area cleaned up, picked up, and (somewhat) sorted out. I've thrown away a lot of stuff of ambiguous nature, sorted out bags of resistors and capacitors, and moved them to the "parts room", and tripled the size of my "eBay-Sell-It-Pile", which had shrunk to frighteningly small size.

And FOUR large cardboard boxes were sorted, consolidated to ONE medium box, and then flattened out and put in the recycling can.

I can now freely walk around in the workshop area without dodging boxes of "stuff" on the floor. Tomorrow I'll paw through the two small wire racks I have stuff on, get that corner of the shop cleaned up, and I'll be happy.

Had quite a snow show today for a few hours. It was snowing big, fluffy flakes, and it was coming down so hard it was hard to see more than a couple of blocks. But it only stuck where we already had snow left from the big storm before Thanksgiving, and melted immediately on the streets and sidewalks.

And I'm still getting over this low-grade cold. Not coughing or sneezing much, but all stuffy, runny nose, and major case of the BLAAAHS.....

When I finish cleaning the shop I'll post a pic. Time to hit the rack.....

Thursday, December 5, 2019

US State Department Gives S7 Permission To Relocate Sea Launch Spaceport To Russia

Very sad day for my fellow ships and myself. It was a ballsy enterprise started over drinks one night in a "What If....." session.

Now that all the ITAR controlled equipment has been pulled off the ships, and presumably accounted for, the State Department has signed off on letting the ships leave.

The entire (very short) article is located here.

The FarceBook group I'm a member of has been talking reunion and bon voyage party, so there might be a trip back to Sunny Kalifornia in the future.....

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Local Weather Observations

One of the hobbies I've acquired over the last 15 years has been the weather. "It All Started When...." I went to work for Boeing on the Sea Launch program, and one of my job responsibilities was to maintain the Weather Monitoring and Recording System and the Weather Radar System. As a kid growing up in Northern Illinois, I remember the little "Weather Station" my Dad had. Very simple thing, just a barometer for local air pressure, a thermometer for local temperature, and a hygrometer for local humidity.

It was an Airguide unit like this:

Some years later, he gave me one of these that I had for many, many years:

So I had a fairly basic idea of weather in general, which got much more detailed when I took flying lessons, and was formally taught "WEATHER!" in ground school. We got a pretty good education in weather, obviously geared towards flying, but we got to learn how to read the charts, read the forecast, and make an informed decision on whether to fly or stay on the ground.

In 1982 I moved to Southern California, where the weather is pretty boring compared to Illinois and now Colorado, so my weather skills kinda got archived.

In 2004 I went to work for Boeing, and woke those skills back up as part of my job duties. Working with the Meteorologists was very educational, and in short order I had a weather station set up at my apartment, and connected to the Internet so I could watch the (boring) weather back in SoCal while we were out to sea.

I brought those skills with me in retirement, and now have my own "Weather Monitoring and Recording System" here at home, which occasionally shows some interesting things, like what happened here last night:

Look at the Outside Temperature and Humidity graphs, right at midnight.

The temperature shot up about 25*, from 25* to 50*, in less than an hour, with a corresponding drop in Relative Humidity.

At midnight.

With no "unusual" barometric activity.

This had me scratching my head for a while until I noticed the wind data. The winds kicked up approx 1MPH to 4MPH, with gusts to 15~20MPH, and the vector (direction and velocity) indicates they're coming from a West to Northwest direction, from down out of the mountains.

Reading the Forecast Discussion for today shows mention of Downslope Winds, known as "Santa Ana" winds in SoCal, and "Chinooks" here in the Rockies.

And it looks like I caught one coming through.

No boring weather here!

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....