Saturday, April 1, 2023

Holy Smokes....I Logged In!

 Finally found a password that works. 

First, I'd like to thank everyone for their well wishes and encouragement.

Second, posting with a cellphone SUX! I'll try and comment on your blogs, but I doubt I'll generate any content here.

I'm being discharged to home on the 5th of April,  and do a catch-up post ASAP. The hospital care was excellent, and the PT/OT people here at the rehab facility are very good. I'm about a week ahead of what's "normal" for the operation I had (a couple of plates and a half-dozen screws), and I have a PT regimen to work on at home.

And now it's nap time.


Sunday, March 19, 2023

Fell in garage and boke hip

 No, it's not an early April Fool's joke. 

I tripped on an extension cord, went down, missed the rubber mats I stand on, and landed on the concrete.

I couldn't get up, so I hit the alarm button on the remote for the truck to get SLW's attention. She came out, and I still couldn't get up.

Called 911, got admitted last night, and had surgery this morning. Should be released tomorrow morning.

Yes, it hurts, but I didn't need a complete hip replacement, just a plate and some screws.

Pretty groggy right now, so I'll post more tomorrow.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Bread - A "Ground Rules" Home Run!

 Iffen Ida pulled it out of the oven about 6~7 minutes sooner, it'd be in the stands!

It almost looks burnt in this shot, but due due some color balance problems, it's not that dark in person. Think "dark, but still golden", and you'd be spot-on.

And yow.....does it taste great!

The last step in learning "High Altitude" baking for this recipe will be to adjust the baking time to 40~45 minutes at 410*F, and not the 45~50 minutes I used. Paper records have been updated. My white bread (can I say that?) should come out equally good.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Journey Continues.....

 After fighting our way through The Straights of Pioneer, we at last arrived in The Bay of Nakamichi, where they natives are indeed quite friendly and accommodating.

Total service time on the bench for this one was about 15 hours. A lot of time was spent learning the ways of the natives, but the reward was worth it. I also gave this one a complete calibration, head alignments (It has three separate, discrete heads), and verified/adjusted things to meet factory specs. It passed with flying colors, and Buffalo Springfield hasn't sounded this good in years.

This coming week we'll be visiting the nearby Village of TEAC, meeting up with some old friends, and picking up this castaway who needs a good home.

Yep....10.5" reels, ferrite heads, and really good specs. Progress reports will follow, at least until Spring arrives, and Ms. Swan comes out of hibernation......

Feeling much, much better, and today marks Ten Days without a cigarette. Felt so good I'm making rye bread. Results to follow....

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Yowzir.......What Hit Me?.....

 Been out-of-the-loop for about five days now with some kind of tummy bug. Knocked me flat out for two days, and then Sweet Little Wife said I looked like this poor guy:

....All Weekend Long....

Yeah, not pleasant, but I'm back to about 90% or so. Worst part was I missed TLG's 6th birthday party. Bummed out over that one. The best part is (yes, Virginia, there is a best part) that I haven't had a cigarette in FIVE DAYS. Not quite jonesing due to some help from one of those "e-Cigarette" things, and my cough is gone, and my sinus passages seem clearer. Fingers crossed I'll keep on going like this until the little things are gone, things like lighting up after a meal.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Got The Yucks

 Flat on my back all day Thursday and Friday. Got up about 2100, had some milk, some bread, and made this post.

Back when able...

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Journey - Part The Third

 Lest you think all is smooth sailing through The Straights of Pioneer, let me assure you it isn't.

In the case of this thing:

We ran smack into Halsey's Typhoon. It fought me Every Step Of The Way. Fix one thing, something else pops up. Fix that, and then you have to fix a brittle plastic part that broke while you were fixing the first item. Or a teeny, tiny part gets away from you, and goes sailing off into oblivion. The bent chassis was straightened so all mechanical assemblies were in proper alignment and dry-fit perfectly. The tape transport mechanism was taken apart and cleaned FOUR times. New drive belts, idler wheels, and pinch rollers were fitted. The last cleaning would have done a Class 1000 clean room proud. Use of lubricants was strongly discouraged, and highly controlled.

And STILL it doesn't work with front panel attached. It plays, records, and fast forwards 100% with the panel removed. Rewind is a bit flaky, so something is still amiss in the tape transport. It might be something subtle I'm missing, but I'm all out of speed, altitude, and ideas on this one. I went 10 rounds with this thing, and I'm battered, bruised, and bloodied. I'm "ahead on points", but I just don't have another round left in me, so I'm throwing in the towel, cutting my losses, and making a strategic withdrawal.


Nest stop in The Journey, The Bay of Nakamichi, where I hear the natives are friendly.

We should be pulling into port Monday afternoon.....


Monday, February 20, 2023

The Journey - Part The Second

 The next castaway we picked up in the Journey was the SX-980. Another crusty, dirty piece of derelict flotsam we thought "salvageable".

This was also another pleasant encounter, and after delousing our new arrival, we proceeded to give them a physical, and return them to health. It required a session Under the Knife to restore it to health, having been afflicted with a failing trimmer capacitor.

The offending part is the small teardrop shaped item dead center in the picture.

The offending part was replaced with a proper air variable device, more suited to this application.

A forensic anakysis of the failed part revealed a crack through the ceramic dielectric, seen here as  a dark line at the six O'clock position.

Now that I had solid frequency setting for the Local Oscillator, I could move on to aligning the FM Multiplex section . Some of the adjustments were a bit off, and two of them, the "19kHz Notch Filter", and the Left/Right Stereo Separation controls, were way off. The Multiplex alignment was rewarded with a perfectly locked receiver to the Pilot Signal, as shown here with the Lissajous Figure.

It's not "Text Book Perfect", as one of the Sine wave components being fed to it has a prominent 76kHz sawtooth component riding on it.

Finishing the alignment resulted in a perfectly tracking dial. It's nice to tune to 88.9, and your station pops in perfectly clear, with the tuning meter dead center. I deviated slightly from the procedure when I set the FM Muting and Signal Strength Meter to be more useful in the Real World.

And this thing has a really "hot" tuner. It easily exceeds the Pioneer specs by 6~10dB, pulls in distant stations far better than the SX-780 did, and I wonder how it'll do when I get the outside FM antenna properly mounted in the Spring.

Adjusting and testing the Power Amplifier was a breeze. The DC Offset and Bias controls adjusted smoothly, and wound up being about dead center in their adjustment range. To adjust the "Power Output" meters, I fed it a specified signal, measured the voltage across the dummy load, and set the meter adjust to read what the actual power is into an 8 Ohm load. One thing I accidentally "discovered", was although this amp is rated 80 Watts per channel, it easily made 135 Watts, with no sign of clipping, when I accidentally drove the input too high. So at it's rated 80 Watts, it has a LOT of "Headroom".

In fact, the SX-980 had such good test results and "Qual Ratings", that it was promoted to Senior Chief of Operations, responsible for all audio switching and reproduction duties.

In its Quarters:

And so, The Journey continues......

Saturday, February 18, 2023

And Now For Something Completely Different....

 Thought I'd take a break from recounting The Journey, and give a heads up on other projects.

Up first is a 1924 Chelsea Radio set. These were sold under different brand names, and this one is a "Transcontinental Type ZR-4". Almost sounds like a race car from back then, eh? It's from an era 60 years earlier than the FM Stereo gear I've been working on, and a radical departure from all the other radio gear I've worked on.

This was gifted to me by my next door neighbor, who had been trying to get it running for some years. He paid some moron an outrageous amount of money to "repair" it, and another jerk $200 to "refinish" the original wood case.

It's a basic "Three Tube" radio, using Type 01A tubes, a Low-Mu triode, and the most popular radio tube of the 1920's.

The first tube is a regenerative detector, followed by two audio stages. The two black items between the tubes are interstage coupling transformers.

Yep, broken wires in it, after the "repair". Has some bad solder connections, too, but I'll give 'em a pass because they're 100 years old...

The "refinished" cabinet photographs nice, but has 100 years of flaws, dents, and gouges showing. I guess the level of restoration/refinishing wasn't discussed when my neighbor turned this over to the two scoundrels.

Information is a bit sparse about this particular radio, but then I haven't researched into it very deeply. It's a classic circuit from the days when Radio was new, and fairly well documented. I'll also draw my own schematic of it "AS-IS", and replace some of the wiring. The rheostat for adjusting the filament voltage needs to be taken apart, cleaned, and correctly reassembled, as it looks like the previous "repair person" screwed it up. It's also missing a few bits I'll have to fabricate, and I'm not sure if my tube tester can do 4-pin tubes! The Bakelite knobs and front panel need a careful cleaning and relettering, and hopefully they're aren't any dead parts in it that I'll have to chase down. Should be a fun little side project.

And I'm still trying to figure out which is the "clean end" of this thing.

I knew it had taken a hit at some point in it's life, and suspected maybe the chassis was tweaked a bit. I took it apart (again), and started looking at things with a straight edge and a 90* square.

Yep, it was bent.

And not "just a tad tweaked", either.

I'll do an update on this showing how I got it all straight and square again. The front panel now just drops into place, and all the mounting holes line up. No binding any more on the transport mechanism that I can detect.

And still it doesn't work properly.

So I pulled the entire transport out, and will be going through it again, making sure everything is in alignment, and scrupulously clean of any lubricant that could cause slippage. And I finally understand how all the little mechanical bits, linkages, levers, solenoids and idlers work together and interact, causing a couple of light bulbs to illuminate in the old noggin.

I'll get it yet, but yowzur, what a trial........

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Pioneer SX-980 Back In Service, and Boy, What A Journey! Part the First


Some say the journey is more important than the destination. I knew the destination, mapped out The Journey, and then proceeded. 

This Journey wasn't extremely difficult, but took far longer than expected. I wound up going down several blind alleys, numerous Rabbit Holes, picked up and discarded various things along the way, and I didn't have the misfortune of meeting any Grues ("You're in a maze of twisty passages, all alike"), which was pleasant.

I know The World of Radio pretty well, and FM radio, too, but had never taken the path  into the Wonderful World of FM Muliplex Stereo before. I knew the principles, but had never applied them to anything. Required a whole lot of learning and thinking, and put me into Deep Ponder Mode more than a few times.

Along the Way of Discarded Items was an old Heathkit FM Multiplex Generator, and two Heathkit Audio Distortion Analyzers. While these had appeared suitable at first, they were a Blind Alley, and so they were left behind, and The Journey continued.

Realizing I needed far better equipment from my adventures along the Way of Discarded Items, my next stop was to get properly outfitted at the House of Messrs Hewlett and Packard, Purveyors of Fine Quality Instruments. Suitably equipped, I continued along my Journey to the Land of the SX-980, all the while continuing to seek enlightenment.

After setting up my Base Camp, now properly equipped, I proceeded to transit The Straights of Pioneer in search of the Destination.

The first encounter was with a certain SX-780, and pleasant indeed it was.

Dusty and crusty she was, matey...

But turned out quite nice after a good scrubbing.

She willingly joined our expedition, providing song and enjoyment in exchange for passage, and nothing more.

Off we set on the next leg of the Journey through The Straights of Pioneer, in search of the Next Level.

Part the Second will pick from there....

Friday, February 10, 2023

Been Busy, Pioneer SX-980 Finished, and Anniversary Dinner with SLW

 Got a full post cooking in the pot about the Pioneer, along with some other little projects.

Tonight's project was a lovely Anniversary dinner at the Sonny Lubick Steakhouse in Old Town with my SLW. It's actually Valentine's Day, but that's middle of the week this year, and the nice restaurants are packed.

Anyway....I'll leave you with this, a perfectly "locked" receiver, displaying a Lissajous Figure. The RF drive into the Front End of the radio was about 12dB BELOW the Pioneer spec for locking. This receiver has a very good tuner....

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Final 747 Off The Line Does Some Fancy Flying

 Saw a post over at BRM's place, and found a link to this in one of the comments. It's the flight path from the Flight Aware website, and it's damn near as cool as Tex Johnson's Barrel Roll in the Dash-80.

Well done, guys!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Arctic Cold, and a Big Pile-Up on I-80

 Got down to one degree last night, and it's expected to go down to -5 the next couple of nights. We've had several inches of light, fluffy snow, with another couple on the way. And with the winds, I'm seeing some drifting, which is unusual for "In Town" snowfall.

Oh, and stay off I-80 this time of year......

Today's workshop project, besides all the others in the stack, is finishing up the rebuild of SLW's 1970's Panasonic hand mixer. After 50+ years of use, the gears and motor wre packed full of flour, sugar, and coca powder dust. The grease was nowhere to be seen, and I could barely turn the motor by hand. After complete cleaning and lube, it now spins freely.

And the SX-980 has been happily playing for several days now. Thew alignment and testing are finished, and it easily meets or exceeds the published specifications. 

And it sounds GREAT...

Friday, January 27, 2023

Minor Snag with SX-980, and Plumbing Problems

 The plumbing issues are on me. I'd been flushing my coffee grounds through the kitchen sink disposer, with lots of hot water, for 5 years now, and it caught up with me.

As in a major stoppage of the kitchen sink. Tried a packet of "Green Gobbler", which works great on bathroom drains, and it cleared up for day. Time to call the professionals in.

Long story short- They disassembled and cleaned all the traps under the sink, and used a 50' Rigid powered snake to knock the stuff apart and get through ALL the kitchen drain pipes, and then Hydro-Jetted the sink drain plumbing all the way to the main line leading out of the house. As they were running the Hydro-Jet, I had all three bathroom showers running full-bore, and would flush the toilets in rotation, to get the maximum water flow possible.

The sink drains like crazy now, and if there's more than an inch or two of water in it, it gets a nice little tornado going down the drain.

Total damages were six hundred bucks and change, but they were here four hours, and replaced most of the plastic piping under the sink. Some was starting to crack, and most of it was added-on without much thought, so when they re-piped it, they straightened out the flow paths for best operation.

And I will NEVER, EVER, EVER flush coffee grounds down the sink again! I broke it, I own it, I fix it, or pay the man.

The snag on the SX-980 showed up while doing the FM tuner alignment. There's a small ceramic trimmer capacitor used to set the upper frequency of the Local Oscillator, and it has a "dead spot" in it's adjustment range. This is a very well known problem with this type of variable capacitor, and it plagued certain Kenwood and Icom ham radio units. The end result is it needs replacing, and I ordered the parts. Once I set it slightly lower (makes the dial frequency read low at the high-end) I was able to complete the alignment of the Multiplex section. I'll go through the entire alignment again, both to get things properly adjusted with the new part, and to familiarize myself with the alignment procedure.

The little critter lives inside the shielded area in the leftmost compartment. It looks roughly teardrop shaped. The coil to it's right sets the Local Oscillator lower frequency.

Now I have to dig out the fragile wood veneer case, glue it back together, refinish it, and this should look great in the rack.

Monday, January 23, 2023

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 the SX-980. I got stalled when I realized I couldn't continue with the alignment because the audio was constantly dropping out due to dirty switches in the signal path. Took a while and some forum searching ( I don't always care to watch YouTube vids...) to find out the right way to get the assemblies out for access. The front panel had to come off again to re-clean it, and once that was off, again, (what is it with me an front panels, anyway?) it was pull a bunch of screws and two control shaft nuts, and then lift the assemblies out the bottom:

Each one of the boards hanging out has push-button switches, lever switches, and/or rotary controls.

And they all needed cleaning.

The lever switches and rotary controls are easy to clean, as they're not sealed:

To get the cleaner into the rotary controls involved some improvising. I put a small piece of wire into the "straw" for the spray can, heated it gently, and bent it. I now have a "180* Adapter" for my spray can:

The push-button switches are a bit harder. Short of flooding or submerging the entire board in cleaner, there's no easy path to get the cleaner into the semi-sealed switch, and on the contacts. SO....we drill a small hole at the far end of the phenolic cover to access the cavity inside the switch. The holes I drilled are between the grey post sticking up, and the white hold-down clamp:

Put it all back together, and all the audio drops outs are gone. The controls and switches also function smoother, giving them a "quality" feel again.

So here we are, on the bench and wired up undergoing the alignment for the FM tuner and Multiplex decoder:

There's just something sooo coool about the incandescent lighting in these older radios.

After the alignment is finished, I have to repair the wood cabinet it goes into. SLW "bumped it and it fell over!" one day, causing the ancient glue joints to self disassemble......

Monday, January 16, 2023

Winter Storm On The Way

 Supposed to start Tuesday afternoon and go through Wednesday afternoon. Snow fall guesstimates are for 5~8" here, but given the past accuracy, I expect maybe 6".

Snowblower at the ready and my new **HEATED** gloves SLW got me for Christmas are charged and waiting.

ITMT, enjoy one of my favorite songs. It's only three minutes long, but packs a lot into those three minutes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

So, What Have I Been Up To Lately?

 Yeah, the Muse vacated me again. Something about a week in Tahiti at a resort....

So, I took to cleaning up and organizing the basement, which has been a Genuine Mess since we moved in here five years ago. The basement here consists of three rooms, a full bath, and Der Boonker, a semi-secure storage area built under the steps in a corner of the foundation. Four concrete walls and floor, nicely tucked out of the way, hence the name.

One room is a bedroom, one room is my workshop, and one room is a little "study area" and entrance to the bedroom. It had been pretty much stacked with boxes and boxes of stuff, followed shortly by large plastic tubs of baby clothes, swings, bouncers, and other items The Kids are storing here. The clothes are serving as hand-me-downs from TLG to the NLG, and will be yard-saled after the NLG outgrows them.

Baby clothes and things go instantly at yard sales here, not surprising considering the number of young couples with Little Ones here.

So, first step was to get some racks for storage....

And secure them to the wall:

Then fill 'em up!

No, I'm not going to show a "before" picture, as it's too embarrassing...!

Over on the workshop side, a single rack was installed, and rapidly filled:


Still a work-in-progress, as I haven't fully sorted what's on it. At least it got 85% of the boxes off the floor, and sorted through. Now I have to do the bookcases again to make better use of the space that's being freed-up.

On the other side, I re-racked a lot of gear so The Little Guys could have some (safe) knobs and dials to spin while they spend time down here.

The two little racks to the left came from where the new big rack is, and let me separate my record and tape stuff.

A couple of "quickie" projects popped up as I was sorting things. The first, just about completed, is a refurbish of the Kenwood TM-D700A VHF/UHF mobile transceiver that lived in my Jeep Grand Cherokee for about 10 years. Never skipped a beat, and always worked, but was pretty crummy from living in a car for that long.

It's been all scrubbed up, bench-checked, and is being remounted to the plastic cutting board I had it on. Makes a nice little "Grab-And-Go" FM transceiver. It also has a built-in Packet Radio interface, and the small black box to the right of the control head is a keyboard interface so I can send text messages. Just another way of keeping in touch if TSHTF. It'll go up on the shelf with my Elecraft K2-100 HF transceiver which is for longer range communications.

The next project is my Hamtronics R-139 WEFAX receiver.

I can do, and have done, everything this does with a good quality $30 USB "Dongle".  A bit silly, perhaps, but it's never worked. It's a simple circuit, just one-of-five crystal oscillators selected either manually, or allowed to scan continuously until there's a signal on one of the channels. The scanning part works OK, as well as manual selection, but NONE of the 100MHz crystal oscillators turn on. I'm sure it's simple, as it affects all of the oscillators, so should be a nice little diversion as I continue to clean all the controls and switches on the big Pioneer SX-980 FM Stereo receiver.

And of course, a place for Pebbles to rest her head when she comes down to keep me company.

And as an interesting side note, see this innocuous little roll of bubble wrap?

It's responsible for keeping the garage FIFTEEN DEGREES warmer this Winter. That's astounding for something costing essentially zero. When we had the new front and rear storm doors installed, we also had a new insulated exterior door installed in the garage. It didn't seem to make much, if any, improvement to keeping the garage any warmer, so I wrote it off as an "Oh, Well...." item. This summer I was looking at it, and noticed a huge 2" gap between the storm door and the sill. The ding-dong who put the old storm door back on never installed the "sweep", which seals the bottom of the door to the sill, so we have a huge air leak there. In fact, he was going to throw away the good, serviceable storm door because "I thought you didn't need it with the new exterior door".

What a dolt! I explained that I work in the garage a lot (DUH!), and that I liked to open the exterior door and lower the glass window in the outer door for ventilation through the screen.  So the sweep was tossed, and I didn't carefully check their work before they left. They also made NO attempt to seal the new door sill (it was a pre-hung door) to the floor. I picked up a can of expanding foam, so I'll seal the sill in the Spring.

In the meantime, I'm still working on the bookcases and new rack. Should be much more usable when I'm wrapped up.

Holy Smokes....I Logged In!

 Finally found a password that works.  First, I'd like to thank everyone for their well wishes and encouragement. Second, posting with a...