Monday, July 19, 2021

Update On The Pioneer SX-780 and Speakers

 Sooooo....I dragged the two speakers I made some time ago out of the basement, and set them up with the SX-780. When I used these speakers before, I used them with my turntable, preamp, and a small, PylePRO PCA2 "40 Watt" amplifier. your dreams, maybe. For one-half cycle at some given frequency. While cooled by LN2.....

The first no-no I did was to have the speakers about 18" from the turntable. Yes, I know better, but in my haste I used the model car workbench to set things up quickly, there wasn't much room, and I wasn't planning on listening at high volume.

Nope, doesn't work. Even at moderate volume, having the speakers that close to the turntable causes a form of audio feedback, where the sound pressure waves from the speakers vibrate the turntable at variable frequencies, which get picked up by the stylus,  fed to the amp, and then the speakers, and then the turntable again, and presto! TERRIBLE sound.

So I set the SX-780 on the den coffee table, set the speakers up a few feet away and 6' apart to see what kind of separation they have, connected things up, and brought the receiver up.


YOWIE-ZOWIE! This thing sounds GOOOOOD! I had a clip lead about 29" long (1/4-wavelength!) that I used for an antenna, and I could get just about every station on the dial. The stronger stations ("Full Quieting" in FM-Speak) sounded spectacular, WAY better than they do on our home theater system when I use the FM tuner. I knew this was a premium grade receiver when it was new, but I was surprised how good my home-built speakers sounded now that they have a clean signal "with enough amp" to drive them to good levels. You can compare speakers to air pumps, and I was running 45 Horsepower air pumps with 15 Horsepower motor s when I was using the little amp.

Now I've got like 60 Horsepower, which gives me plenty of reserve capacity, or "Headroom". Makes a huge difference.

All the rotary switches and controls turn smoothly, and quietly, with no scritchy-scratchy sound, and all the lever controls do the same. The FM dial calibration is a bit off to my eye, but it's off a consistent amount from the bottom to the top of the band, so that's usually caused by the dial cord having slipped a bit. Easy-Peasy fix, and I'll do that when I take the cover off to replace a burned out dial lamp, and blow any dirt and dust out of the chassis.

This is the first "High End" FM Stereo Receiver I've ever owned although I've heard plenty. When some of my friends were buying things like this, I was buying things like Carillo connecting rods. Different priorities for different folks.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Ray Manzarek Explains "Riders On The Storm"

 The Doors were one of the bands I "Came of Age" with, along with Chicago, BS&T, Iron Butterfly, Cream, Traffic, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, and many others.

"Riders On The Storm" came out in 1971 as a track on the "L.A. Woman" album, and was a sleeper hit. It's in my top 3 Doors songs, and I've always enjoyed hearing it. Has a very haunting sound to it, along with Morrisons' dark lyrics.

Ray Manzarek explains where it came from, and how it was put together, and I think you'll find this an enjoyable ten minutes. Sorry I can't do anything about the aspect ratio of the video. Looks like it was shot in 16:9, but is playing back at 4:3. Oh, well....

And I can't wait to hear some classic rock on this new acquisition.....

 It's a "Silver Pioneer", Model SX-780, the baby of the line. If the speakers I built a while back aren't suitable, there's a local books/records.vintage audio gear store here called "The Bizarre Bazaar" that has some good looking classic speakers for some very reasonable prices.

Friday, July 16, 2021

It's Friday, the Start of a "Grounding and Bonding" Weekend!

 Sorry, but not FFF like Irish hands out.

Going to try and plant the first of my three ground rods tomorrow, and I'll be using my "Deep Root Watering" yard tool so I can at least get the first 30" of rod slid in before I use my ground rod driving attachment in a demolition hammer to drive it in the rest of the way.

Watering device:

This isn't the exact one I have, but it's very similar. It's a steel tube with a hard point on the end, and three holes to let the water out. You turn the water on a bit, and then push it down into the dirt, which usually dissolves and moves out the way, allowing you to insert the rod down to about 30". Unless you hit a rock, in which case you lift it up, move it a few inches, and start over. I'll leave the water on a trickle for a few hours like when I water the trees, and hopefully enough will collect in the soil so the remaining 6' of ground rod can be driven in.

And this yard has LOTS of rocks in places! It usually takes me three or four tries over by the ash tree before I can get the rod inserted beyond 6".

Once you have the hole made, you insert the ground rod, tap it down until it hits the bottom of your new hole, and drive it in the rest of the way using an adaptor:

In a demolition hammer:

I've done this before, and using the power tools is far better than battering the end of the ground rod with a sledge! It's also reeeal hard to smack a ground rod that's still 6' out of the ground and waving around in the breeze while you're trying to stand on a ladder. With another set of (gloved) hands to help keep the rod vertical, you just hold and guide the demo hammer, and let it do the work.

At the top of the ground rod will be a set of solid copper plates that clamp the rod, and allow me to mount the surge suppressors, as seen below, fully assembled.

This will be mounted at the house, just below my "Coaxial Entrance Box", where the cables enter the house.

At the base of each of the two 4x4's I'm planting as antenna supports will be another ground rod/surge suppressor, and those two rods will be bonded together with some #2 solid-copper wire. I'd go the full "Perimeter Ground" route, but the cost of the copper would be excessive, and there might be a code issue with bonding it to the main house ground, aka "Utility ground", which is usually how it's done.

More pix to come as work progresses.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Great Post From Stilton!

 If you haven't seen it, I recommend you go read it.

It's over at Stilton's Place.

OK, Back To Basics

 I kinda liked the SciFi theme, but nobody else did.

So to keep my half-dozen readers happy, I went back to a simple theme....

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Not Sure If I Like This New Background...

 Yeah, it looks more SciFi than the equations on the blackboard one, but I don't like the interface to post new entries. AND, I lost my "Blogs I follow" list, and my "Link-O-Rama".

If I can get those back, I *might* keep this. Otherwise, I'll just go back to the "Classic" interface.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

New Revolution in Cuba?

 Just heard on my ham radio chat group[s that the Internet is down in all of Cuba, and people are in the streets by the thousands.

Not sure where or when this was taken, but it was posted in the Ham radio group on FB.

From Twitter comes video of the "Black Berets" getting involved.

I'm tuning around the shortwave bands trying to get some info...

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

13 Colonies Amateur Radio Event -Recap-

 Well, I finally got the operating desk rearranged, got the new matching unit wired in and configured, and went in search of the 13 Colonies stations. This event in held yearly, the first week of July, and this year I thought I'd give it a try. Please excuse the crude wood blocks propping up the front of the radio. They were expedient, and will be replaced with something that looks nicer. And I have "RipTies" stuff I'm going to use to tidy up the cables dangling behind the desk.

There are 13 stations, plus three "bonus" stations, and whether you work one of them, all of them, or all with the bonus stations, you can get a nice certificate.

Some people sniff at it for being a "Participation Trophy", but events like this are very good for contacting states with few Hams, like Vermont. One of the QSL cards I have from Vermont says "Vermont-----AT LAST!"  across the top of the card. There are "Official" awards issued but the ARRL for things like "Worked All States", "Worked All Continents", "Worked All Zones", and at the top of the awards heap is the "DX Century Club" (DXCC), for people who have confirmed contacts with at least 100 countries. And within these individual awards are endorsements for things like making all of the contacts on each of the five "Classic" Amateur Radio bands, namely 80 Meters, 40 Meters, 20 Meters, 15 Meters, and 10 Meters, a total of at least 500 contacts. A friend of mine has the "Worked All States" award with a special endorsement for doing it on 6 Meters, the 50MHz band. It took him over 10 years to do it, but he did. Some people have spent decades "Chasing Paper", but I've never really done it. I had 42 states confirmed as a Novice in 1964, and most likely have worked all 50 states, but not all from the same location.

Anywhoo......A special event or other contest is a good way of seeing how good your station is, as the bands are crowded, and the signals range from "ESP Level" to "Blow Your Headphones Off", and it can be very hard to make contacts. A very strong ("S9" or better) station 1kHz away from a station only 5 or 6dB above your ambient noise level can be extremely difficult to receive. My little K2, while a very good, single-conversion design, gets all flummoxed under these conditions, and can actually be unpleasant to operate at times.

So how did the new Yaesu perform? Spectacularly. I've had a lot of radios over the years, both high-end, and bare-basics, and this rig is the best I've ever owned. The filtering is superb, and with the DSP, you can easily reduce the bandwidth to 1500 Hz, and still understand the other station. I can easily hear a weak station 1~2kHz away from a strong station, with no "Bleed Over" or funny Donald Duck sounds.

And I was able to contact 11 of the 13 stations, and one bonus station. I missed both North and South Carolina because I could never hear them, even using the "spots" on the DX Clusters to locate what frequency they were using.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Happy Independence Day!

 No, I haven't done that, but I applaud the men who did for their courage and bravery.


  We don't celebrate the date, we celebrate the event which occurred on the date.

I know I don't have to tell this to the people who stop by here, as we also say "Merry Christmas", and not "Happy Holidays". I think we lost something when people started  celebrating the date, and not the reason. To most, it's just another day off work or school, and a reason to stuff yourself with food and drink, and that's sad. 

And I think it's a major part of what happened to get us into the condition we are now.

Enjoy the date, but please, remember the reason.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

When Motor Oil Went From Cans To Bottles

 Another "I Remember...." story, sent to me by some friends.....


Once upon a time, oil came in metal cans you had to pierce with a spout, so it was a surprise when I went to work at the filling station one day and they had motor oil in new plastic containers with a twist off cap. I wondered why no one had thought of it sooner. It was not long until I had a customer that asked me to check the oil. In the "good old days" we pumped gas, washed windshields and checked tire pressure upon request. The customer's car was low on oil and they requested a top up, so I got one of the new bottles of oil, twisted off the cap and put the neck of the container directly into the opening of the valve cover.

When I opened the bottle, I noticed it had a tamper proof cap, and the lower half twisted off while remaining on the bottle. When I pulled the bottle out of the valve cover, to my surprise, the lower half/plastic ring was gone! Where did it go? It had slipped off and fell into the valve cover. I sheepishly informed the customer that I could not see the plastic ring and would have to take off the valve cover to remove it. He was nice about it and gave me the go ahead so I pulled the car into the shop and proceeded to remove the cover. There were five of those rings in there! Apparently others had the same problem with the ring slipping off the bottle and either did not notice or did not say anything. The customer went away happy though.

Shortly after that, motor oil manufacturers seemed to revise their bottles so the ring stayed with the cap. I wondered why no one had thought of it sooner.



I was a gas-pump jockey at a Sunoco Station a friend's Dad owned, but it was well before oil came in plastic bottles. He allowed me to pump gas, take payments, and clean the windshields. I could check the oil and air, but not add oil or fill tires, which required one of The Guys from the service bays to do. After a while, they convinced the owner I was smart enough to do these things properly, which he allowed, about two weeks before the summer ended, and I went back to school. My "primary" summer job was at a little electronics place, but my friend asked me if I could help, and I said sure.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Six Days for UPS Ground from Denver?!?

 Granted I ordered it Friday afternoon, but once it was picked up it sat in the UPS place over the weekend, and then took TWO DAYS to get to Loveland, where it sat for another 24 hours before they put it on a truck to bring up here.

I'm not mad at the seller, or the driver, but UPS, as a whole, seems to have gotten pretty sucky lately. I was sent shipping notices, including the dreaded "Delayed" notice, but as much as I hate driving to Denver, the next time I need something from HRO, I'm tempted to just drive down there and pick it up.


And after receiving damaged goods packed and shipped by a UPS "store", I never use them. FedEx has always been my first choice, and will remain so, but sometimes you don't have that option when you buy something on-line.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Field Day, 2021

 And for the first time since we moved here, I'm participating! I'm running in Class "1 Delta", which means 1 transmitter, at home, running on commercial power. If I was running on my little Honda generator, then I'd be class "1 Echo", which means 1 transmitter, running on emergency power.

It's a very good test of the new radio, as the bands are crowded (Field Day brings LOTS of people out), with a mix of very strong, and very weak, signals. Earlier today I talked to my friends on the Iowa, and was able to get through on 17 Meters (18MHz) after they could barely hear me on 20 Meters (14MHz) due to a very high local noise level, "QRM" in Ham-speak.

I've only been operating for a few hours, and have collected 18 different states, and even "rag-chewed" a bit with some of the operators.

So far the new radio working very well. I can pull weak stations out of the noise, and reject strong stations just a few kHz away. The Digital Noise Reduction and Noise Blanker are the best I've ever used, very smooth, and they don't introduce a lot of "artifacting" to the audio.

I still haven't learned to use all the wanted signal enhancement and unwanted signal rejection features of this radio, and this is a good time to learn them, and practice with them.

There are some nits and quibbles with some of the features on the radio, but as far as "Basic Receiver Performance", Yaesu knocked it out of the park this time.

Friday, June 25, 2021


 Finally getting some much needed rain after several weeks of dry and sometimes 100* weather.

So far my rain gauge indicates .05" for the last two days. I sometimes doubt the accuracy of my rain gauge, so I bought a "NOAA Approved" model that I can use to dump a "calibrated" amount of water into the collection bucket on the weather station and see how accurate it is.

My rain gauge is of the "Tipping Bucket" type, and when calibrated they're quite accurate.

The rain falls into a collector can, and then drips through the hole in the center into the little buckets inside.


 Tipping buckets:

 Each time the bucket tips, it trips a switch sending a "One Bucket Received" signal to the controller, incrementing the rainfall measurement by one unit. In my case, each tip of the bucket indicates .01" of rain received.

I'll fill the "Calibration Device" with water, and pour it into my collector and see if they agree. After I make my measurements, I'll delete the record in the database for the rainfall so as not to skew the data set by a 1" rain measurement.

I'm beginning to think you can't trust your eyeballs when it comes to determining the amount of rain you get. An inch of standing water in a pan outside after a storm passed by doesn't necessarily mean you received 1" of rain.

Just another thing to wrap my head around while I try and understand (or "grok", if you will) this particular aspect of meteorology.

Hope y'all have a good weekend!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

NLG Doing Fine

 Got his first sponge bath today, and his Mommy and Daddy dressed him in his first little outfit.

 Not doing bad for 10 weeks early.

His Daddy's arm in the foreground, and his Mommy's arm in the background.

 So tiny.......another miracle and blessing from Our Lord and Father...

Had a couple of gorgeous days, but now it's heating up again. No rain forecast until Thursday, but it's a "50% Chance" which means we'll get at least some sprinkles.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Happy Father's Day, Guys!

 Annnd I just wonder how soon this will be under attack? Mother's Day is under attack to become "Birthing Person's Day", so I can imagine what the lefties want to do. "Toxic Masculinity Day"?

Oh, well.....Be strong, and be proud of the youngsters YOU helped raise to manhood.

Can I even use that word these days?

Time to hit the road. Hope y'all have a good weekend, and Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

OK, Here's The New Little Guy!

 Wife can't figure out how to email phone pix to me, which means they get sent as text attachments.

Which means I have to download them from my phone to this PC, which takes a bit due to my having to use a program to access my phone from this Linux PC.

Oh, well.......

This is one of the first ones we have, shortly after birth.

Cleaned up and getting checked out.

The breathing tube was removed after about 36 hours, as he was breathing fine on his own. It was replaced with a headgear/nose mask in the following pix to supply him with extra O2.

And here he is with his Mom.


So tiny.....And Mom looks really tired....

Feeding time.

I had thought that they'd keep him in the Natal ICU until his due date, like they had to with his brother, but The Kids informed me it's based on "scores" much more than time, so if he does well, he'll be released early. Time off for good behavior, I guess.

So his Mom went home today, and TLG was happy to see her, but wondered where his brother was. He's actually taking it in quite good stride, and I know he'll be an excellent Bog Brother!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Aircraft Tracking with ADS-B

 Now that I moved my little home brew antenna outside, I'm picking up aircraft tracks out to 150 miles away. Most of them are pretty mundane; scheduled airlines, charter flights, student pilots and LifeLine flights. One that caught my eye the other day was an aircraft at 8,000', doing 35 knots. Wondering if the speed was a glitch, I looked up the tail number and found out it was a glider registered at the Owl Canyon Gliderport. I didn't look closely at his flight profile, but a glider could easily do those kinds of numbers into a headwind.

Anyway.....One plane really grabbed my attention tonight, a NASA 747 with a very unusual flight plan track.

The solid green line is where he's been, and the dotted line is where he's going, per the filed flight plan. Departure and landing the sites were both listed as "Palmdale", so it's anybody's guess what they're doing tonight. Must be a "Chemtrail" run. That's why they do it at night now, so people can't see them!

And anywhoo....Mother and child are doing fine. The new parents were treated to a "Surf and Turf" dinner tonight courtesy of the hospital, but TLG didn't get to meet his new little brother as I originally thought. Strict rules are in place, and the only people who get into the Natal ICU are Mommy and Daddy. The NLG is doing fine, breathing without assistance, eyes open, looking around, and eating like a horse per his Mom and Dad.

But he's soooo tiny!

I'll post some pix as soon as SLW sends them.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Daughter-In-Law and the New Little Guy Doing Fine

 Our New Little Guy came into this realm sometime after 0600 this morning. He weighed 2 lb 7 oz at delivery.

Yes, that's right, Two and a Half Pounds

He was born with his eyes open, and started crying almost immediately. His big brother was barely over two pounds at delivery, and it took him a week or so to open his eyes and start crying.

He'll be another Miracle Baby to us.

Pix to follow as soon as SLW recovers.....

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Oh, Dear.....Ten Weeks Early Again.....

 Well the DIL's Doctors decided that she wasn't showing sufficient improvement with three days of bed rest and medication, so our New Little Guy will be entering this world 10 weeks early, just like his big brother.

Don't know when her procedure is scheduled for tonight, but we're praying on overtime (is there even such a thing?) for everything to to go as planned.

Latest news at 2148 MDT - Since the DIL ate dinner tonight, they're holding off on the c-section until 0600 Sunday morning.

No News Is Good News.....So Far

 Well our Daughter-In-Law is in the hospital. She just passed 30 weeks, which is when the had to do an emergency C-Section to get The Little Guy out of distress. She's been really stressed out about the time, which is probably one of the things which made her BP get high (155/85), which can signal pre-eclampsia, which is what happened her first time, resulting in TLG coming 10 weeks early.

Her BP is coming down now, and the New Little Guy isn't in distress yet, but the hospital is going to hold her at least another 24 hours, and will only release her if there's improvement.

So, we have all our fingers and toes crossed, have the prayer candles lit, and are praying that she can go at least another few weeks so New Little Guy can gain some more weight, and have some more development.

It was quite traumatic to her the first time, not to mention the baby, and we think she has some PTSD over it.

Thanks for all your prayers, and I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

YAY! Got My FlightAware Receiver / Decoder Operating Properly!

 The issues I had with not picking up aircraft were entirely my fault. The little 1/4-wave vertical antenna I made for this was inside the sunroom, hanging on the Venetian blinds, and I had doubts if enough of the 1090MHz signal would get inside. The window screens are aluminum (SHIELDING!), and the fiberglass insulation in the walls and ceilings is also aluminum foil backed (MORE SHIELDING!!), but since I was receiving some aircraft, I should be able to decode them.


As soon as I moved the antenna outside of my "Screen Room", I went from getting A few aircraft displayed to having a screen full of them, and now the "Show Tracks" works, too.

MUCH better than this:

Which gave me this:

Since I'm running this on a little RaspberryPi mini/micro/nano computer, I went and installed the official "PiAware" software from FlightAware, which got rid of the "For Development Purposes Only" map overlay, and has more adjustments to select.

Now I just have to move the little antenna to a mast, and tidy up the cabling a bit.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Oh, Boy....New Toy....

 Gee, I wonder why Jim ripped his radio desk apart, besides the fact it was filthy, per SLW.

I dragged the PC out to the garage, popped the covers and air filters off, and blew out all the accumulated dust, lint, dog hair, etc, etc. Scrubbed the keyboard and mouse, too, and then attacked the now naked table with Endust

All the old gear I had out went back to the workshop, as I was going to need some desk space.

Hmmm....the FedEx version of the Brown truck of Happiness came by earlier and deposited a couple of things.

Wonder what they could be....?

Why would I need a new power supply/speaker unit?

For this, maybe?

Whatever it is was sure packed well. The inner box had this cardboard/foam cradle to securely hold the boxes' contents.

VERY clever packaging, allowing you to swing the "handles" up, and extract the contents.

Cradled as if in a lover's arms when all packed up.

But what, Jim, Is In The Box? The briefcase from Pulp Fiction? The sacred stone from the Temple of Doom?

Nope, just Yaesu's latest and greatest HF~50MHz, 200 Watt transceiver, the FTdx-101MP.

I haven't made any contacts with it yet, but the receiver seems to be quite a bit "better" than my previous Yaesu FT-1000D. Signals pop up out of the noise, and it has more bells and whistles than I may ever use.

It has a built-in "Band Scope", really a Spectrum Analyzer, that let's you see all the signals in a given slice of the band you're operating in.

It has Dual Receivers, so you can monitor different frequencies, or even bands, to see if any activity pops up. I'll probably park the second receiver in the 50MHz band, so I can see if that band is "open".

For now, until I learn how to use all the adjustments it has, I put it in Single Receive mode.

One of the really neat things it has is a DVI jack for an external monitor, so I hooked it up to one of my old 24" Dell monitors.

And there are USB ports on the front of the radio for a keyboard and mouse. The mouse allows you to select/change menu items, and the keyboard lets you enter ASCII text for a variety of things.

I'm going to retire the FT-1000D, and strip it for parts to sell. I love the radio, BUT I bought this one based on it's cosmetic condition, and threw snake eyes on the functionality. I've fixed half-a-dozen issues with it, it has several I *can't* fix (unobtainium parts), and when the RF output power dropped from 200 Watts to 15 Watts the other night, with no ALC indication on the meter, I threw in the towel and got my little Elecraft K2 out. I joked with SLW about how it was a good thing I'd cut up my credit cards when we moved here or I would have driven down to HRO in Denver the next morning and bought a new radio.

WELL......we discussed it, and since I've been saving my nickels and dimes for a new radio since we moved here, I had about 60% of what I "needed". She got out her card, told me to buy what I wanted, transfer the funds to her, and pay off the balance. Since I can strip about $900 worth of good, functional parts out of the malfunctioning radio, and then sell the hulk for ~$400. That will pay off the balance and rid me of that jinxed radio. To be fair, if I *ever* find another FT-1000D locally that's in good shape, I'll be on it like stink on you-know-what. They're that good, and if you want to do microwave stuff with transmitting and receiving converters, they're superb radios.

For now, I'm beat. Saw the Doctor Monday afternoon for some shoulder problems, and we also talked about some other things I was experiencing. She agreed with me to reduce the dosage of the Metoprolol I take from 50mg to 25mg, and for the first time in months, I wasn't getting a bit faint when standing up, and that's only on the first day of the lower dose. BP and pulse rate are fine, but we agreed that losing 50 pounds and becoming much more active called for a review.

We'll see how it goes tomorrow....

Update On The Pioneer SX-780 and Speakers

 Sooooo....I dragged the two speakers I made some time ago out of the basement, and set them up with the SX-780. When I used these speakers ...