Saturday, July 31, 2021

"First Light" with TEAC A-4010SU

 And the verdict is.....It's running too fast. I'll have to go into the Service Manual and see how to check and adjust the speed. I tried several of the recorded tapes "The Colonel" gave me, including the Bob Hope tape after I was sure the deck wouldn't eat it, and they sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. I recorded some songs from a local FM station using  the Pioneer receiver at both 3-3/4ips and 7-1/2ips, and they play back great, so some components or adjustments have shifted between when the tapes were made on this deck and now.

You can tell it's Bob Hope talking, but the tape is sped up to the point that it's not really listenable.

I looked up some of the artists whose names are listed on the tapes, and they're mostly from the 1930's and 40's, swing, and big-band stuff. And a couple of the artists had notes on their bios that all their master recordings  were destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios Fire. I don't think these tapes are "valuable", but I'll ask around on some of the vintage tape forums.

So the radio and speakers work fine, and I can play records on the turntable without crazy feedback, and if I make my own recordings, I can play them back fine, but to me, the deck still has a problem.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Hmmmm....Another Training Flight?

 Saw this guy orbiting around today.

The tail number indicates it's an RC-135 "Rivet Joint" aircraft.

Getting in some practice, I guess.....

Big Rain!

 The barometer went way up, and the temp dropped about 25*, and it's pouring here. NWS has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Alert, and Flash Flood Warnings. Per the NWS weather radio, over 1-1/2" of rain have fallen, and up to two inches more could happen.

The dark red areas are the burn areas from last summer, and the yellow area is the storm warning area.

The weather map was updating when I did the screenshot, so there's a bit of missing data to the West.

Here's one a few minutes later.

As "usual" (or so I've been told....) out here, the worst of it is mostly East of I-25, and there were reports of "Quarter-Sized" hail from up around Wellington.

Yeah, slow "news day" here. Had to completely strip the rack the stereo is going to reside in as it was blocking the outlet I want to use, and I wasn't going to move it with that much weight on it. A side result is I'm also going to anchor the rack to the wall. Even with the heaviest items on the bottom, I don't want to find myself needing a hand-hold to get up off the floor, and accidentally grabbing the rack. A couple of hundred pounds of vintage equipment landing on me would not be pleasant.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

TEAC A-4010SU Wrap-Up

 All clean and shiny again!

I cleaned the wood case today, and applied/rubbed in a generous amount of "Old English Dark Wood Scratch Cover", and let it soak in while I replaced the tape counter drive belt, cleaned the level controls on the record electronics, and did a few other things..

After it had soaked in for a couple of hours, I buffed it with a microfiber towel. It had  looked pretty shabby after cleaning 60 years of "stuff" off, but the wood oil really brought it back.

I pulled the top cover from the receiver as I had to replace the dial lights, and was going to give it the same treatment,'s a particle board cabinet with a vinyl "wood grain" applique. Pretty much what Mom called "Contact Paper", and used on her shelves. I did mange to repair some areas where the wood grain applique had lifted, and gave it a good cleaning, so it looks much better than before. Since the Pioneer SX-780 was their "Loss Leader", I guess the cabinet was where they saved a few bucks.

So now I have to move the TEAC downstairs, and connect it all together. Then I can find out what's on that "Bob Hope USO Show" tape that I found in the box they gave me.

Interesting Flight Path

 Looks like they may be doing mapping or photo flights.

Most people don't realize the the "Satellite" imagery used in Google Maps is actually from USGS photo flights.

This is the first time I've seen one using my little ADS-B receiver and display program.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Teac A-4010SU Cleaning and Repair

 WELL......things aren't quite as good as I first thought....

I took the front cover off the deck (after removing it from the wood case) so I could clean/check/lubricate the parts.

In the center of the picture is an aluminum pulley, between the two tape spindles. Look closely, and you'll see a black strap-shaped thing laying there. It's the main drive belt, and was in three pieces.

OOOPS! Well, at least the seller gave me two sets of spare belts, one for the main drive, and a smaller one for the tape counter. So, that means the rear panel has to come off, and the deck pulled from the wood case.

Looks clean inside.

And after some fits and starts determining which screws to remove per the manual, I had the transport mechanism out of the case.

The entire capstan assembly has to be removed from the chassis to replace the belt; no way around it, as per several forums and YouTube videos. You have to remove four large screws (here we go again, which four screws?) the get the capstan assembly loose enough to snake the belt in there, and get it around the large driven pulley.

About this time I printed out the entire service manual and put it in a binder, as running back and forth between the garage and PC isn't conducive to efficient use of time.

While the manual was printing, I dropped the rear chassis plate so I could get at the four screws.

Two things grabbed my attention. Since I'm going to have to flip the chassis over numerous times to get the screws out and swap the belt, I began wondering about some way to strap the rear plate to the main chassis so I wouldn't have to put undue flexing and strain on a 50~60 year old wiring harness, generally NOT a good idea.

Lo and behold, TEAC thought about that, and made provisions to use two of the rear panel screws to secure the rear panel to the main chassis!

See the screw with the Tinnerman nut and the U-Slots in the panel?

Yep, they put them there to hold the panel while you work on the chassis.

Now the rear panel is held tight allowing you to flip the chassis over. Thank you, TEAC!

One other item I addressed "While I was In There" (yep, sounds like "Mission Creep") was to replace the ancient two-wire AC socket with a modern three-wire socket that takes a standard power cord.





And there was even a perfectly placed terminal strip, with an unused ground lug, bolted solidly to the chassis I was able to use for the ground wire.

I also visually checked all of the electrolytic capacitors for leakages, bulging, and failing seals, and they all look "Good to Go". Since this was made when Japanese capacitors were very high quality, I don't have any issues with leaving them in place. So tonight's work consisted of getting the new capstan and tape counter belts installed, lubing a couple of points that needed it,  making sure all the solenoid-driven linkages were smooth, free to move, and not binding, and doing a few mechanical adjustments that just didn't "feel right" to me. Sure enough, the service manual confirmed they were out-of-spec, and gave the measurement numbers and procedure. Tomorrow will be an inspect my own work day, and putting the deck back in the case after I clean the gorgeous wood case it's in, and do a once-over on all the visible parts again.

I would have had this finished by now, but Sunday is the day TLG comes by, so that takes precedence here! He's excited about the new stereo in the workshop, but doesn't know what a tape recorder is.....yet. He starts dancing around in the garage and yelling "ROCK AND ROLL!!" whenever a good rock song comes on, so I think he might be impressed to hear a good stereo setup, especially if I play Blue Oyster Cult "Godzilla". When I do that, he starts doing his Dinosaur Dance, and he knows all the lyrics to the song.

And I really need some better speakers in the garage. The $30/pair Pyle speakers just don't make enough volume out in the garage. Need some better air pumps! I'll have to see what they have at the Bizarre Bazaar that's suitable for "Garage Speakers".

Saturday, July 24, 2021

TEAC A-4010SU Tape Recorder

 This one's a big SCOOOOORE!

Not only is it cleaner than expected, I met the original owner, who's the grandfather of the young guy who listed it. He bought it new, at the BX, while he was stationed in "Viet Nam" with the Army.

The heads show some wear, but it's what I consider "acceptable", and the tape path, pinch roller, and capstan are really clean. He said he took good care of it, and it shows. It's got some smudges on the front panels, but they're easy to clean with some of the stuff I used. The wood case is in amazing condition considering he had it so long, and it was shipped around while he was in the Army.

They gave me a head demagnetizer, and a bag of spare replacement parts, including a new pinch roller, capstan, and TWO complete sets of belts for it.

And the original manual, warranty card, and bag of accessories.

Even before the young guy brought the deck out, he said his Grandpa also had these two boxes of "Tapes and Stuff" that I could have if I wanted. Not having any tapes, or empty reels for that matter, I said sure, and we loaded those in the car.


I was given Fifty-Six Ampex tapes with program material on them, Eight brand-new sealed-in-plastic tapes, Ampex 341 and Maxell Low Noise tapes, and Six brand-new empty take-up reels.

This is over $800 worth of free goodies, and I'm indebted to them.

 And one of the tapes is a live recording of a Bob Hope USO tour, two reels worth.

So I'm stoked about this, and will do a "Cleaning/Lubrication" check per the manual, and then see what's on some of these tapes. I don't need several reels of "Beer Barrel Polka" and several reels with "Sound of Music", "Sounds of Lerner and Lowe", and "The Music Man" on them. I'll check the tapes to see if the media matches what the box says, and run them through a bulk eraser.

Looks like I won't need to buy any recording tape for quite a while.....

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.

Meet Luna!

 Great name for our new pup, eh? She's camera shy, and "Red Eye Removal" doesn't work for dogs! She's two years old, p...