Thursday, March 31, 2022

30 Years Ago Today....


The USS Missouri was decommissioned for the last time.

So "Happy Retirement" to the ship and her caretakers. We spent some time on the Mighty Mo when we went to Hawaii a few years ago. Being part of the USS Iowa family, we were treated like royalty, and got to see some Behind The Scenes things that aren't normally open to the public.


And of course, we went to the USS Arizona Memorial, where I was doing OK until I saw the oil bubbling up...

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Oh, Joy....A New Plumbing Issue....

 Well, they guy we hired to do the flooring and stairs finished up last week, just in time for SLW to head to LAX for a week to celebrate her oldest son's birthday. I picked her up at the airport this afternoon, and we got back here around 1730. A little before 1800 I went out to the garage and noticed water on the floor. And it was coming from a drywall seam in the dropped ceiling....never a good sign, as the ceiling is dropped here for pipe access to the upstairs bathrooms. I ran out and grabbed a bucket, shut the water off to the two upstairs toilets, and knocked a hole in the drywall to let it drain.

I noticed the drywall was soggy for quite a few inches along the seam, so, since it all has to come out, I opened it up some more to see what's up there.

RATS! It's packed full of (now very soggy) fiberglass batts for insulation, since the garage isn't heated, and would be a huge heat loss through the floor.

Since it was now open and drained, I then turned on the water to one toilet, flushed it twice, shut the water back off, and went down to look. The wife's toilet didn't cause any new water to appear, so I went back upstairs, turned the water back on for the toilet in the master bedroom, flushed it twice, turned the water off, and went back down.

Yep, water was now running out, confirming it's that one particular toilet. 

SLW called #1 Sone who's a cracker-jack Home Improvement guy (way better than Tim, and equal to Al), and the first thing he asked was whether the flooring guy had "doubled up" on the wax sealing rings for the toilets. I know he put new ones in, but only used a single sealing ring.

Since the new flooring is 7.6mm thick, and the underlayment is 1.4mm thick, it means the toilets are now 9mm (.35") higher than they were before. #1 Son says that's more than the rings can accommodate, so now I have to get a plumber out here tomorrow to redo the rings, and make sure everything else is up-to-snuff.

Yeah, I know, it's a First World Problem, and when I think of all the people that don't have indoor plumbing, I'm grateful (in a way...) to have these "problems".


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Gorgeous Day Here

 75 degrees, sunny, mild breeze, bright blue skies, and puffy white clouds. Supposed to get some rain mid-week, which will be nice to clean things up, and I expect we'll get another snowstorm in April.

Still a bit crummy feeling, but took the dog for a walk anyway. Always good to get out of the house on a day like today. Things are greening up some, the tulips have popped up through the soil, and the iris' are sprouting up. Be time to spray the emerging weeds soon, and in another few weeks it'll be time to feed the trees, shrubs and lawn.

And The Cycle of Life continues on.......


Back to the basement shop, where I have a ton of stuff to photograph and list on eBay. Hope y'all have have a great weekend.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Ugh....Had A Case of Crud....

 Wasn't feeling 100% on Saturday, progressing to sore throat and generally feeling crummy on Sunday with a mild case of the trots.

Slept most of today and now feeling better, but still a bit fuzzy. Should be back to full power tomorrow....

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Diesel Is How Much?

 Was just listening to a Ham in Australia talking about fuel prices. Last year diesel fuel was $1 per liter.

This year it's $2.50 per liter. A two-hundred and fifty per cent increase, all due to "policies", and not the true cost.


Astounding.....

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Minor Audio Project

 Now that I've got my test equipment stuff all sorted out, there's one thing I need to build before I can test audio amplifiers, and that's an Audio Dummy Load. Similar to the Dummy Loads, or Dummy Antennas, that I use when testing transmitters, but specialized for audio use.

It's basically a Load Bank of non-inductive resistors with some "5-Way" binding posts, and it will allow me to run just about any amplifier I'll ever have to test.

The green things are 8 Ohm, 100 Watt resistors, and are connected in series/parallel to give me 8 Ohms at 400 Watts.

The brown board is a cut-off piece of the flooring we just had installed that I kept a few pieces of. It's non-conductive, easy to drill, and best of all, FREE! The two red and one black items are the binding posts, and I'll drill the piece of aluminum angle to use as a bracket. One will be the common, one will be for 8 Ohms, and the third will be for 4 Ohms. By tapping the junction of the four resistors, I'll have a 4 Ohm load rated at 200 Watts, and that should be plenty.

Why a dummy load? Well for one, I don't have any speakers that can take that power level, and two, it would deafen you in the shop.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Russian Comms In The Ukraine: A World of Hertz

 Excellent article here from the Royal United Services Institute, whose catchy headline I shamelessly swiped.

In case of TL;DR, the gist is that their digital tactical radios don't work very well, and are NOT widely deployed.

One thing caught my eye, and I have to pass it along: It is possible that the delivery of the Azart radios has been troubled by corruption.

The Azart is their 6th generation, walkie-talkie-type secure radio.

I'm shocked, I tell you.....Shocked!

Breaking Bad

 Started watching Breaking Bad last night with SLW. My son is a huge fan, but I never watched it because I was traveling a lot when it was on, and didn't want to get hooked (a la Sopranos and X-Files) and miss a bunch of episodes. He started watching it here, and it looked interesting, so I bought the boxed set.

It's good. Very good. I'd only seen Byan Cranston in Malcom in the Middle, and the "Drive" episode of the X-Files.

If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

So Much for "Two to Six Inches of Snow".....

 Yep, it stopped snowing around 2130, and we didn't get any more. Total was 3~4", and most of that has disappeared already. The sidewalks are clear, and the streets are melting.

Guess my threat of firing up the Ariens scared it away.

Colder than you-know-what today; Bright and sunny, but only about 15 degrees. Got down to 3* last night, and expected to be below zero tonight.

Time to stoke the fireplace and watch "The Glenn Miller Story" tonight.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

12 Degrees and Snowing....

 We have about 2~3" on the snow table, and we're expecting another 2~4" before it stops. The Ariens is gassed up and ready to go tomorrow, and should make child's play out of 6". The more I use it, the better I get at stopping, starting, steering, and setting the speed it travels at. I'm just glad we've had light snows this year to give me the practice for when the big stuff eventually shows up.

My replacement Textronix 2465B oscilloscope arrived the other day, so I spent some time getting it up on the bench. It's identical to the one I had, which is going back to the guy I got the replacement from. These are marvelous oscilloscopes, the last of the Tek scopes that were easily repairable, wide bandwidth for capturing fast signals, and has some built-in measurement capability, like a DVM and a Frequency Counter. I really liked my original one, but it has well over 20,000 hours on it, and some of the controls were getting a bit wonky. This one has 1612 hours on it, and has been completely gone through, cleaned, and calibrated. Should be good for another 40 years now.

Yeah, it's more than I "need", but it's very versatile, and good test equipment is a joy to use.

Good bye, old friend. The Doctor will see you shortly, and then on to your new home.


The empty water bottles were used as "corner protectors" in the shipping carton the vendor used. Two in each corner, keeping the box squared up, and preventing damage. Pretty clever, and they work perfectly.


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Around the House and Shop....

 Besides listening to the shortwave and tinkering in the shop, I've been helping with some home improvement projects the SWL decided she wanted to do. We're getting new flooring installed in all four bathrooms and the laundry room, along with removing the carpet from the stairs, and putting laminate on them, too.

Some demo work on the stairs. These are the short set of stairs from the main level to the den/laundry level:

And the main stairway:

The vertical pieces are wood, and the treads are MDF with a finished, rounded front edge. And of course, the sent our installer/handyman guy the wrong size. ARRRRGH!

This is the laundry room looking into the #3 half-bath/powder room:

Just about finished down here, but over half the baseboards they sent our guy were the wrong ones......DOUBLE ARRRRRGH! And it's going to take 14 days to get the replacements. The bathroom is finished, but he only had enough of the correct baseboards to do half the laundry room, so he did the "hard half" so we could get the washer and dryer back on-line ASAP.

So, everything has slid to the right by two weeks. Looks like now I'm going to have to buy some nice wood wall plates for the outlets and switches so the rooms look "finished".

And down in the "Wizard's Workshop" I put the repaired Heathkit Total Harmonic Distortion Meter to it's intended use for the first time. Yes, it's been rebuilt, and all the alignment/calibration tests went by-the-book after it was repaired, but how well does it actually work? Can I believe the measurements it makes? Are they reasonable, and do they "make sense" and look "real"? Are they repeatable?

So far, the answer appears to be yes to all of the above. I have four audio signal generators, so I set up a shoot-out test to see which one was the "best" in terms of lowest distortion. The results were as expected, and repeatable. I used a 1kHz, 2vRMS signal from each generator, and compared them to each other on the Heathkit. These are relative measurements, not absolute, as I have no calibrated source of specific levels of distortion to test the Heathkit analyzer with.

Up first was my newest unit, the HP 8904A Multifunction Synthesizer. As expected, it showed the lowest level, reading .02% THD.

Next up was a Heathkit SG-1272 Audio Generator, which read a little under .03% THD.

Next was another Heathkit generator, the IG-18 Sine-Square Audio Generator, showing a bit under .1% THD (found my notes) .05%. which surprised me a bit, as this one was modified for improved performance. It's better than the Heath spec, which is "Less than .1% from 20Hz to 20kHz", but I've read where some of these modified units can be better than .02%. It's very touchy to get calibrated, and I could probably tweak it a bit while connected to the analyzer to improve. Didn't take a meter photo, but it's the middle brown box here: 


And coming in dead last, is the audio generator section of the Heath IG-37 FM Stereo Generator at a staggering FOUR PERCENT of THD. Look where the range switch is set. I had to go UP three ranges to measure it.

This thing's going on the block to get it OUT of here!

And I'll go through the IG-18 generator to see if I can clean it up a bit without a lot of effort. I have far better test equipment to use than the two old Heathkits, but they'd be OK for somebody just starting out.


Hope y'all have a good week ahead.







Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Where's Russia's Air Force?

 Interesting article here at One America News.

My son's not a big fan of OAN, calling it "Fox Lite", but the articles seem well-written. BUT, as Eaton Rapids Joe points out, beware of "Garbage-In-Garbage-Out".

Busy Week, Beautiful Weather, Amateur Radio Field Day

 Having gorgeous weather the last few days, and got some (more!) yard work done, and enjoyed evening strolls around the 'hood with SLW, ...