Monday, October 31, 2022

BOOOOO!!!! Happy Halloween!

 Hope all the little ghost and goblins out tonight reap their harvest of Fall Candy!

Be Safe!



Saturday, October 29, 2022

Annnnnd..... The Pioneer CT-F950 is Still Messed Up.

 As soon as I put the front panel back on the CT-F950 deck the transport problems started again.


SOOOOO.....At this point I'm going to set it aside while I contact a guy on the AudioKarma forum who rebuilds the Reel Hubs and Spindles. The consensus is mine are excessively worn, and need to be refurbished. New clutch pads, replace any broken parts, test them, and send them back. I'm not sure what he charges, but it appears to be reasonable per other forum members.


Besides....I've had my SX-980 receiver on the back burner WAY too long, and I need to get going on it again.



Thursday, October 27, 2022

Huh.....I Think I Fixed It....

 Spent a few hours going over the Pioneer CT-F950 cassette deck. I wicked all the solder off the switch connections, cleaned the board, and resoldered them all. I also went back over the areas of the board where I reflowed some of the connections that didn't look quite right, and yep....I caused a solder short in the right channel, effectively shorting the signal from the tape to ground. Cleaned all those up, and it appears to work.

Here it is playing an old Van Halen tape I paid a buck for.

Sounds good through the headphones, too. All the scratchy/screechy noise the switches caused is gone, and the switches work very smoothly now.

Now I can go through the Electronic Alignment procedure, set all the levels, and test it to see if it meets specs.

After that's finished and it's all cleaned up, I think I'm going to send it down the road. I just don't trust it as far as reliability goes. I just want to put a tape in it, or make a tape with it, to listen to. I don't want this back on the bench every 3 or 4 months.....


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

XM-4 A Sea Launch Mission

 Back in another life, I was a Satellite Chucker. We were basically a delivery service, getting your payload from 154*W, 0*N to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. Our Senior Photo-Optics Specialist was a very creative photographer and videographer, and would put together a mission DVD for the launch crew as a souvenir. This one was made for the XM-4 mission, and was posted on YouTube courtesy of one of my Sea Launch friends.

Enjoy the show!



Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Meanwhile, Back On The Workbench.....

 Well, it looks like I fixed the transport mechanism, finally. I carefully watched how it worked through my magnifying lamp, and learned a couple of things about how the idler tire (driven by the reel motor I rebuilt) engages the take-up reel for either Fast Forward, or Play/Record. I could see it slipping (?!!?), so I blasted that entire portion of the transport with some CRC QD Electronic Cleaner, blew it out with air, and the damn thing works OK now.

BUT.....and there's always a "But"....My preemptive strike on resoldering all the connections for the Source/Tape Monitor switch was a flop, as now the right channel is completely dead when in the "Tape" position. I ran my audio generator into the Line Input, and that section works like it should. SO.....I either missed a connection, or wound up with a solder bridge on the board, most likely caused by using too large a tip in my iron. I didn't even think to change the tip from the "Heathkit Size" down a bit to "Pioneer Size", and it may have bit me.

The offending group of connections are dead center in the picture. Yeah, I had to pull the bottom panel, and take all the screws out of the motherboard to push it away from the chassis so I can get at the little critters.

I'll also recheck all the wired connections to the board in case I broke one loose.

And yeah, I'll check to make sure it works BEFORE I bolt it all back together!


Saturday, October 22, 2022

Made A Nice Dent In The Woodpile....

 Cut, racked and stacked four wheelbarrow loads of wood today, and put the hurt on the woodpile.

Found some pretty little flowers growing in one of the junipers:

And as always, my faithful companion had Guard Duty. Gotta keep those pesky squirrels out of the yard!


This gave me four fully loaded shelves in my "drying rack", and left a bit less than half the wood I started with. I'll continue cutting tomorrow, but I'm rapidly running out of indoor storage, so I'll have to figure out something for the rest of the wood. Based on our past consumption of firewood, we have three years cut and stored, and at least two years remaining in the uncut pile. When properly operated, the fireplace is capable of keeping the house at a tolerable level, with little supplemental electric heat required.

That could change, and my stock of firewood might only make it three years total.....


 


Friday, October 21, 2022

80 Degrees, 8% Relative Humidity - This Is October?

 Been really nice the last few days so I was puttering around outside. Finally got the rest of the wood from the apple and ash trees sorted, and somewhat stacked.

This is from the ash tree that lost the big limb:

And there's another couple of big ash limbs here, along with the rest of the wood from the crab apple tree:

The wheelbarrow has some pretty good sized apple logs in it, covered by usable, burnable smaller branches.

And up at the top of the ash tree, we have a squirrel condo:

There's two that live there, and if you look carefully, you can see on here. They're both in the picture, but the MRS is very hard to see:

 And I brought in most of the garden hoses and sprinklers I use. Haven't put the little styrofoam anti-freeze hats on them, but that'll happen in a week or so after I give the trees their Winter feeding.

Bought a "3-In-1" blower/vacuum/mulcher that should significantly reduce our bag count at the dump this year:


 It's a corded one from Horror Freight that cost $5. Even if it only lasts one season, it's a lot cheaper than paying somebody to come do it. I looked at cordless ones, but YOUCH! By the time you buy the tool, the battery, and the charger, you're looking at $250! I don't mind dragging a cord around behind me to save $200!

First official Winter Storm is creeping up on us, and should be here Sunday through Monday. Rain and snow showers are forecast, with significantly cooler temps.

Have a safe and blessed weekend, and keep your head on a swivel....

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Bought My Son Some Tools For His Birthday

I asked my son about his tool collection when we were working on his truck a few weeks back. He said he didn't have many, most were mismatched hand me downs, some were worn out, and what he had was pretty much a mish-mash of junk.

This should hold him for a while.....



Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Hmmmmm...Wonder Who's in Air Force Two tonight

 Interesting. AF2 callsign, and the USAF tail number of 99-0003 indicates it's a Boeing C-32 (a version of the 757), and exclusively assigned to the VP. Yes, I know the protocol of Air Force One, and Air Force Two.


 


Monday, October 17, 2022

Cookin' With The Doctor.....

 Got a mean hankering fer some cornbread tonight. So I made some. Got it out of the oven to cool, got distracted, and by the time I got back, some vandal had attacked it!


Said vandal proclaimed it was "good". I tried something a bit different from the "box recipe" tonight. I added an 1/8th tsp of cinnamon to "see what happened". Turns out 1/8th tsp isn't enough to give you more than a hint of cinnamon. You catch a whiff as take a bite, but there's no "cinnamon flavor" as such. Next time I'll up it to 1/4 tsp. I expect that will have the flavor, but I'm thinking I'll have to increase the sugar a bit to take some bite of it it. Too much cinnamon can be a bad thing.....

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Geez...Lots of Heavy Thoughts Out There Today.....

 I don't mean "heavy" as in sad, ponderous, dreadful thoughts, but rather "heavy" as in "Heavy, man.....Really Heavy" from my yute.

First LL over at Virtual Mirage gave me terrific version of his "worldview", if that word is encompassing enough.

Then the Silicon Greybeard gave me something similar, but different.

LL is more philosophic and theological, while SiG  is a more Hard Science, no BS way of thinking. I kinda blend both, with my own recondite viewpoint mixed in.

They both sense a disturbance in The Force, and give us their version of Where We are, And How We Got Here. I agree with both of them to a very high degree. As I've gotten older, I find myself thinking about this stuff (a lot), but I lack the eloquence to write my thoughts down as well as they do, so I don't. I'm better talking about these things than writing about them. Which is why this media, somewhat similar to a forum, is so appealing to me. We can talk to each other about these thoughts.

Anyway....Me? I refurbished the wheelbarow today:

New wheel and tire from HF. I painted the entire handle with some left over "Bumper and Trim Paint" from the Supra, and sprayed the handle areas with some Rust-Oleum "Bed Liner" paint, as it gives a nice, grippy surface for the handles.

And I cleaned out the fireplace: 

I wound up with a small garbage bag full of nice, clean, fluffy ash, which I sealed away for future use. Why would I save hardwood ashes? Well, they make the best Potassium Hydroxide. Why KOH? It's excellent to use for homemade SOAP. This coming Spring, I'm going to show TLG how soap is made, and anybody else who's interested. Pretty simple, really. And since we have tons of lavender and lilac, we can even scent it. All Organic! Vegan Free! GMO? We Don't Know!

Gotta get ready for the NDA (thanks, SiG!) don'cha know? Might be nice to take a bath with decent soap after a hard day in the fields, or hunting/fishing to sustain yourself and family.

Be safe this week, and Viya con Dios.....



Saturday, October 15, 2022

Random Ponderings.....

 Hope you're all having a good weekend. I was flat on my back all day Friday with some stomach bug, so I missed posting anything. I think I brought it on myself by wiping out my coffee mug with a not-so-clean scrubby pad! The mug went in the dishwasher tghis AM, and the scrubby pad went in the trash. Note to Jim: Do NOT do that again! Ever!

ANYWAY.....Fall is upon us!

The maple tree has been turning the last few weeks...

And the birches, ash and aspens really kicked off this week. Yellow is everywhere here! 

The Front Garden is slooowly shutting down for the season, and we're bringing in all TLG's "Fairy Garden" stuff.

I did manage to get some shopping finished Thursday night. SLW has been hacking and coughing all week, so she didn't go to her Sheriff's "Citizen Academy" meeting. And since it was her turn to take the break snacks for class, I ran them up to the Sheriff's Office, and got to meet some of the Deputies. Then it was off to spend a few $$.

Picked up a new wheel/tire for the wheelbarrow we rescued from somebody's trash three years ago. It was cheaper to get a complete assembly, rather than just a tube and tire!

She asked me why I wanted to replace the old, crusty, dry-rotted tire, and I told her new wheelbarrows like this cost $110, and the replacement parts cost $15. Plus, I'll tighten everything up, and paint the handles so they stop deteriorating.

Like Dad always said..."Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without".  I guess "Repair" comes under "Make It Do"...

And to (finally) get those pesky ground rods in, and drill the concrete here for Other Projects, I bought a hammer-drill, and a bunch of bits.

I have a couple of other Hercules-brand power tools from Harbor Freight, and so far they've been worth every penny. FAR superior to their "Bauer" and "Chinesium Electric" brands. Plenty of torque, very good battery life, and that "good feel" achieved by proper balance of the tool, along with good quality plastic. BTW....I still have my Dad's Craftsman 1/2" corded drill in the brown "hammer tone" box. It's gotta be sixty years old, and has required exactly ONE change of brushes. I also renewed the lube in it years ago when I swapped the brushes, "just because".

And SLW felt well enough today to do some errands, so she brought home some Chick-Fil-A chicken noodle soup. It's verrry good, as LL clued me on.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I have a wheelbarrow to get in the garage.....





Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Pioneer CT-F950 Rebuild....The Saga Continues....

 Well, let's see......What have I done so far?

1) Completely rebuilt the Tape Transport Mechanism. It needed a complete cleaning, lube replacement, new belts, idlers, and pinch rollers, and several mechanical adjustments for things like the brake pads (which I had to fabricate replacements for...), Head Azimuth Adjustment, and a couple of other things.

This required not one, not two, or even three tear-downs. Nope, I had to pull it out of the chassis, take it apart, and reassemble it, and put it back in the chassis.

The first time was initial "rebuild", where I botched the rebuild of the pinch rollers.

The second time was to replace the pinch rollers with completely new ones.

The third time was to remove and recondition the Reel Motor. I had to polish the commutator, clean the brushes, and carefully clean the contacts that control what the speed the motor runs at by switching the windings. It's a teeny-tiny set of centrifugal contacts that are very delicate. The motor also had the lubrication renewed.

The FOURTH time was to address and issue with the clutches on the tape spindles. These are supposed to let the tape spindle slip and freewheel if something gets jammed, saving the tape from getting stretched to oblivion. They're just little felt pads between two spring-loaded plastic pieces, and as they wear, the torque they break loose at drops, meaning that any extra drag on the tape spindle will cause them to slip.

That repair wasn't photographed because I've found if I take the extra steps to photograph everything it slows me down. It was a real bear to remedy this, as I can't find any info on how to disassemble the "Reel Tables". All I did was spread the two plastic pieces, and put a drop of soldering flux in there. Say WHAT? Soldering Flux? Yep, it's just rosin in an alcohol carrier, and once the alcohol evaporates, it's leaves some sticky residue behind. Kinda like putting some belt dressing on a belt you know should be replaced, but just can't do it at that moment.

So far it's been playing OK now, EXCEPT for all the really bad noise when you jiggle the Tape Monitor switches.

The picture shows the Tape/Monitor switches at the left, and two other switches that worked OK. If you look at the top end of the brown plastic strip, you'll see a black dot, which is where I drilled into the switch so I could flush and lubricate it.

 BUT.....I noticed the switches flex like crazy where they're soldered to the board when you cycle them. Oh, boy.....visions of cracked solder joints on the backside of the board danced through my head.....

So, in a preemptive strike, I pulled all the screws out of the Main Board, wicked off all the solder, and replaced it with fresh solder and a dab of flux.

More pix and a follow-up to come. And I haven't even begun the Electronic Testing, alignment, and level setting.........


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

tap, tap, tap... This Thing On?

 Ah, there we go......

Been pretty busy here doing Fall Cleanup, both in the garage and the back yard. The back is getting carpet bombed with crab apples this year, and the number of maple seeds on the front yard maple are staggering. Looks like a good feed for the squirrels this year!



 

And mushrooms. These things are like "Aliens"; they just keep coming!


Fortunately, a good blast of 10% Acetic Acid (about 2-1/2 times as strong as household vinegar) takes care of them in about 24 hours. 


I buy the 30% "Agricultural Vinegar", and cut it 3:1. The full 30% strength is quite potent, and will attack concrete. This is a small spill that I didn't promptly dilute and flush away. Or maybe a bit of Baking Soda would have helped....


And work (still) continues on the Pioneer CT-F950 Cassette Deck. Crikey....what a pain this has turned into. Granted, this is the first cassette deck I've ever worked on at this level, but geesh....Make a mistake or maladjustment in the transport mechanism, and it ALL has to come back out to correct. I'm pretty sure I finally have all the mechanical bits, belts, rollers, and idlers properly installed and adjusted, but we'll see.

Since I'm pretty sure the transport is OK, I started listening to some prerecorded tapes I picked up at the local used records, tapes, and books store. So far, the transport seems to handle the tape OK. All the tape handling functions work as they should, and the Fast Forward/Rewind functions really rip now that I've rebuilt the reel drive motor. But in the process of trying all the switches and knobs for functionality, I hit another snag.

There are four slide switches in the photo below. A small one, a long one, another long one, and the fourth is another small one. They're the things with little "teeth" sticking up, and a strip of brown phenolic acting as the "coffin lid".

From left-to-right the switches control the Monitor Function (small selects Tape, large selects Source) Dolby (large is On/Off), and Input Select (MIC and Line), and were quite noisy. I mean like REALLY bad. Not only did the Monitor switches have the typical Crackly/Poppy/Scratchy sounding stuff, but also a high pitched squeal, like feedback happening as you cycled the switches. Once I got it in a Sweet Spot so it played OK, I checked the other two switches, and they appear to be OK.

So, time to give the four switches a good internal cleaning and lubrication. The first hurdle was that these are semi-sealed switches. There's a line of small holes drilled in the top cover, but they're blocked by the white plastic slider that moves the contacts. I took a #50 drill bit in a pin vise, and drilled an extra hole through the phenolic, far enough away from the slider that it uncovered the contact cavity when the slider was all the way forward. Flushed them with alcohol, blasted them with electronic contact cleaner, then  gave 'em a shot of DeoxIT, followed by a drop or two of switch lube. And that's where we left off once the weather dried out enough to resume outside work.

Back in the garage, a new 50MHz, 5/8th wave vertical is being assembled, soon to be mounted on the lonely mast bolted to the side of the carved tree.

It's the long, shiny thing on the table. Yes, I'll dull out the finish (camo, maybe?) before I put it up. I don't think SLW would approve of a shiny aluminum "thing" stuck on the tree!




Pioneer SX-980 Progress Report

 Still no sign of The Muse, but major progress was made this week! After being on the back burner for about a year ( ! ) I jumped back into ...