Sunday, December 31, 2023

Happy New Year!

 Here's hoping '24 will be better than '23. I really don't need any additional Hospital Time.

Winter's been a big bust so far. There's been a decent amount of snow in the mountains (still below normal), but nothing down here in the foothills. We have no snow on the ground, and it's hasn't rained in quite a while. The yard plants are desiccated, and without a snow cover, things around here just look all dried-out , desolate, and dead.

So here's my best wishes for all my friends to have a Happy New Year. Keep your head on a swivel, be vigilant, and may you all Live Long and Prosper.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Failed to Publish. Try Again Later... Say, What?

 Huhhhhh....Can't reply to comments in my previous post. It just belches out the reply in the title.

Wonder if I can make a new post? Good Gravy, it's freakin' WINDY tonight. The weather station is reporting pretty steady ~20MPH winds, with gusts to ~35MPH. Sorry guys, can't do it in knots. The weather station only gives me MPH and KPH, although with a bit of code editing, I could add that feature pretty easily to the software used to get it on the network. Gotta love Open Source.

Here we go....bonna pull the pin and lob this with the "Publish" button.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas

 All the kids and the littles will be over this evening to have our Traditional Christmas Dinner of Sloppy Joes, French Fries, and other things to nibble on.

Wishing you all the best for Christmas and the coming New Year.

I just hope the road's a bit smoother this coming year!


Peace to All Men of Good Will.....




Tuesday, December 19, 2023

How Do You Guys (and gals) Manage Your Blogging?

 I just don't understand how people who blog can be so prolific, and on a continuous basis. There are times I posted daily, like when I rebuilt the suspension on the Supra, or on various other projects, and during our move here, but it seems like I just run out of steam at times.

I stick to techie and humor stuff, things I know well, and stay away from politics, which others know far better. Besides, I have to watch my blood pressure, and discussing politics gives me heartburn!

So here it is, a week from Christmas. We have *some* snow still laying around, the streams and drainage ditches are full of frozen water, and the damn geese are all over the place, but it doesn't feel like "Winter" this year. Houses are decorated, and our neighbor at the end of the street collaborated with his next door neighbor, and have "crossover" decorations. One of which is the Grinch and Sam, in neighbor #1's yard, pulling down the lights from neighbor #2's eaves. Funny and creative, and I'll bust out my tripod so I can get some decent 'available light' pix of it. NWS is saying there's a "Chance of Snow" for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the Denver and Front Range Weather guy on Fakebook says it might be nothing, and we might get clobbered, as there's TWO systems which will converge this weekend.

So have a good week, stay observant, and always remember....



Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Geez....AWOL again, Jim?

 Yeah, been another week lurking in the basement slaving away over some "Hot Tinkers". Can't show you pix as it was a paying customer with a God-Knows-How-Old-It-Is sick Fender Twin Reverb (A blackface, no less!), and he wanted it yesterday. As in BIG $$$, Have The Parts Shipped Overnight, yesterday.

 Made me an offer I couldn't refuse for my labor. I've worked on quite a few of these, and the whole key is understanding their lineage. This one dates to the late 1960's, and while well used, it was in Very Good condition.

This will help with the Christmas gifts I purchased over the last couple of months.

As promised, we had an episode of "Baking With Grandma!" take place over last weekend. This was the "Don't bother us, we're doing the second batch!" scene:

And I'm busy doing several things.

1)Finishing up those speakers that got delivered during The Week Of The Femur Fracture. Should have them in use by Christmas Day, God willin' and the paint dries hard!

2) The aforementioned Fender Amp repair.

3)Misc things involving the recommissioning a Windows 7 PC, and getting my instruments on the HPIB. Anybody know HP/Agilent/Keysight VEE? Any LabVIEW users? I really want to get my HP-8903B Audio Analyzer automated so I can do swept measurements automagically, and plot them.

4) And I'm doing my "second batch" of Nakamichi BX-300. Since I can find no evidence of the cover ever being removed, this is quite likely the first time anybody's ever been in the unit. I took a lot of detailed photos of mundane things like how the cables are run, how many, and where, are all the cable ties, and other stuff of interest.

Here it is with the transport out. These are much easier to work on than that Pioneer I got burned on. I think it's built better, too.

This will have all new belts, a new idler assembly, and a set of "Athan" pinch rollers when it's finished. This one is a much later SERNO than the one I just shipped out, so it should sound really good when finished.

Oh, I'm building a 1:12 scale model of a 1982 Supra. I have all the various kits of Supras that I was able to find, and I picked the simplest kit to start with. Simple interior, no engine, and the white plastic the body is molded from is very close to the white my 1:1 scale is painted. The interior was molded in black, so I painted it with SEM "Shadow Blue", which is an exact match for the real interior out in the garage.


Friday, December 8, 2023

Still Here, Still Busy, Proper Post in Progress!

 Been super busy down in the shop. I had a PC I built for Audio/Video work some time back, so I finally took a deep breath, and decided to repurpose that one as the "Lab PC". All my HP equipment has an HPIB/GPIB Interface, and I have plenty of various length HPIB cables, and a Prologix HPIB-to-USB interface. Ultimate goal is to automate my audio testing with the HP-8903, and automate generating RF signals from my HP-8657B, modulated by the HP-8904A Multifunction Synthesizer.

And I have some "Baking with Grandma" stuff, too.

Enjoy your coming weekend, and stay observant.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Tap...Tap...Tap...This Thing Still Work?

 Yo...been incognito for a while. Sweet Little Wife had the flu, and COVID, and then it was my turn. Which occurred at the same time I was having the post-op results (passing blood, clots, discomfort) of the TURP procedure. I mean like LOTS of passing of Red Stuff and Chunks of Red Stuff. Not real pleasant, and I went through a whole package of Depends. But, all things must pass (couldn't resist it) and this did, too.

And I'm still having some "echoes" of the August-spend-your-birthday-in-the-hospital incident. Have an appointment tomorrow afternoon about that, so I'm hopeful.

So.....I (finally) finished the Nakamicih BX-300 cassette deck, and shipped it out to a very patient member of the Audiokarma forum. Thanks, Bob!

And Ye Gawds....does it sound GOOD!

I haven't heard Buffalo Springfield sound so good in 50 years!


Of the two decks I bought, this one was the "beat-up" one. It was filthy inside and out, and the belts had turned to goo, but the heads scoped out perfect, so I went ahead gave it the Full Monty. Even beat-up, it had several bits in better condition than the #2 unit, so it donated those. While this one has all the warts and blemishes of both units, it works spectacularly well, and the buyer gets a 100% functional, but not pretty, deck for half the going price. And I made a few $$ on it, too. I'll never get rich doing this, but it helps defray the cost of my stereo habit!

Well that's it, comrades. Still here, still ornery, and still above ground. Been a bumpy ride this year, and we're hoping the coming year won't be like the last.

I got too much stuff to do!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Meanwhile, Back On The Workbench....

 Where I've been finishing up a Nakamichi BX-300 cassette deck. I bought two of these on eBay, and pulled the best cosmetic parts off both to make one nice unit.

This one has all the warts and bruises from both units, but works perfectly. I put in new belts and idlers, gave it a complete cleaning and lubrication, and then started going through the Adjustments and Calibration section of the service manual.

And there's a ton of adjustments for each of the three types of tape it can use. "Type I" is good old recording tape. Been around since the 50's, and still works fine. "Type II" are the "Chromium" tapes, which came out in the late 60's. "Type III" are the "Ferrichrome" tapes, which never caught on, and "Type IV" are the "Metal" tapes, and are the height of analog cassette recording.

And they're all buried under the wiring harness. It took about 30 minutes of cutting cable ties and rerouting the cables in the harness just to get this access to them:

These six are for the Record Equalization (aka Frequency Response), and there are six more for the VU Meter Calibration.

Should be a very nice deck when I'm finished with it.

SLW and I have been under the weather with a bug, so that's why the light posting.


Friday, November 3, 2023

Spectacular Weather

 What a gorgeous day! 

70*, blue skies, puffy white clouds, and light breezes. I'm pretty sure this is The Last Gasp of Summer before Old Man Winter stomps his foot down.

The front and back yards are covered with leaves, and the trees still have leaves, so we're calling off the Great Leaf Extraction for now. We just can't see doing it twice when if we wait another week or two most of the leaves will be down.

Supra parts cleaning is going well, and all the bits I removed from the engine will soon be cleaned and bagged. Re-installation will wait until I clean up the left side of the engine block and cylinder head. The fuel filter with an Unknown History will be replaced, along with a preemptive strike to change the starter for a Denso Re-manufactured unit. I'm going to do a Forensic Analysis of the fuel filter by cutting it open, and seeing what it's trapped over it's service life. Probably be interesting and should give me some idea if the fuel tank is rusty. I'll be replacing the master and slave cylinders for the clutch "While I'm In There", and I'm replacing the flexible hose between the master and slave with a stainless steel braided line. AFAICT it's the original hose, and they get soggy over the years resulting in them ballooning up when the clutch is pressed in. It's much nicer to put clean parts back on a clean engine than to fight with the grease and crud. Makes it much easier to see all the bolts, too. Supplies have been ordered to rework the wiring harnesses in the engine compartment, and I'll be pulling the battery cables out tonight so I can figure out what length and configuration I need to order from the vendor.

Election Day is coming, and our ballots are filed out. We're voting NO on most of the items, especially Prop HH, which is a thinly disguised end run around TABOR, our Taxpayer Bill Of Rights. It's similar to what "Prop 13" was in SoCal, but has other provisions included.

Enjoy your weekend, and keep thine head borne by a swivel!

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

BOOOO!

 The Little Ones will be over tonight to raid the neighborhood of candy, while I'll have Door Duty to hand out the treats to the various raiding parties who'll show up. Not sure what we're going to do with Pebbles, as she'll want to meet-and-greet all the visitors who come by.

My costume? I'm going as a battleship......



Monday, October 30, 2023

Active Weekend

 Been running around trying to be myself again, and actually got a bunch of stuff done. A good chunk was paperwork in the design-and-chase-parts-for category for the electrical subsystem in the Supra. I need to replace the crusty, brittle, 40 year-old, barely-big-enough battery cables for newer, better ones. I found a place that makes beautiful custom battery and other power cables for a reasonable price, and since they're custom cables, you can have them made with other leads coming out on either end. This opens up an area that needs improvement on the car, and will allow me to integrate the function of the disintegrated and unobtainium "TB1" terminal block into a more functional "Terminal Block Assembly", and bring all the power wiring up to current standards. It will also allow me to easily upgrade the cable from the output of the new high-current capable alternator to the car's existing wiring harness, and allow me to easily add the two new relays for the electric fans (the fans, shrouding, and new aluminum radiator arrived last week), and the two new relays to properly power my 125 Watt high beams.

There are three distinct wiring harnesses under the hood;

1) The main 12VDC Harness for charging, starting, and lighting distribution

2) The Fuel Injection/Sensor Harness that runs to the Engine Control Unit on the passenger side of the firewall

3) The Fusebox/Main Distribution Harness, or "Everything Else".

This is the existing mess at the positive battery post, where the #1 harness begins:

Toyota just used a stud and ring lug to attach the fusible links to the Battery positive post. Pretty crude, and prone to flexing and corrosion. "TB1" is dead center in the picture. It's toast. I don't trust those lengths of fusible link wire, either. Looks like a whole buncha bad connections to me. Checking my sources, calling around, and cashing in a few favors, has found ZERO of these in Japan, Down Under, or on The Continent. Decent to Very Good used ones are out there, but people are loathe to hack one off an otherwise perfectly good, and therefore irreplaceable and valuable, wiring harness. I don't blame them. This car is never going to Pebble Beach, so if I have to replace it, upgrade it! It'll give me better reliability, improved access, expandabilty, and a neater engine bay. Sounds like a win-win to me.

This is the Fuel Injection and Sensor Harness:

ALL of the plastic connector housings that plug on to the individual fuel injectors are broken. They've been in a very hostile environment for 39 years, and have given up the ghost. They crumble very easily and need to be replaced. Parts are readily available, and come in pig-tail form, or loose parts. All the non-adhesive vinyl wrapping tape is hard and brittle, so I'm going to get that off, inspect and clean the individual wires, and re-wrap it with new, better quality tape.

Here's a closer look:

And this is the Everything Else harness:

All these connectors will get cleaned with DeoxIT, and then given a shot of silicone grease before re-mating them. This vinyl wrap will also get replaced, and the wires wiped down before being re-wrapped.

Tedious work, but the engine bay will sparkle when it's done!



Wednesday, October 25, 2023

All Current and Pending Medical Procedures Completed and Checked Off.......

 WHEW! 

 


Been a hectic six months here, starting with "The Case of the Fractured Femur", which brought this issue to the front-burner. A first procedure to determine the state of the internal plumbing cleared me of any abnormalities or carcinoma. The next step was a "Urodynamics" test of nerve and muscle function, all of which were verified as being in good working order. I always thought of that test as the name of a French or British Aerospace company, as in "EuroDynamics", or maybe "EuroDynamix" if it were a media company.

After these tests and the procedure were performed, and the results carefully analyzed, a decision was made to do The Procedure I'd heard about from a few of you. Despite it's nickname of "RotoRooter", which conjures up grisly, Medieval images best left unthought of, it was pretty much a non-event. Other than going through General Anesthesia, which leaves me a bit loopy for 36 hrs, I had essentially ZERO issues. No "pain", and low levels of "discomfort" so far, which surprised me. Not only did I not need the knockout drops I was prescribed, I also didn't need the 1,000mg of Acetaminophen twice a day. The only side effects I see are from the specific medications for this procedure. One of them turns the urine a really psychedelic orange, right straight out of a Peter Max poster from the 60's. The other med "just works".

It almost feels anticlimactic, I guess. After six months, I was getting a bit too used to the "Disturbance in the Force" (Stockholm Syndrome? Thousand-yard Stare?), and being back to normal feels strange.

I'm glad I finished the 20 Meter Vertical Antenna installation before I had the procedure, as I'm on a Light Duty Restriction for the next several weeks. It would have been a real drag if I couldn't have listened to the radio, especially since the band conditions have been really good the last few days. The 10 Meter (28MHz) Band has been usable for an hour after sunset, which hasn't happened in several years. Conditions within the CONUS have been very good, with most signals (and there's a bunch!) are of moderately strong ("5x7") to very strong ("You're twenty over here!"), making some stations sound like they're only a few miles away. The loudest signal I've heard here has been from a local ham the next street over. Google Maps indicates our antennas are only about 500' feet apart. If one of us hears the other on a given band, one station will change bands. BTW, he was +55dB over S9 on the big Yaesu. Haven't heard too much from Europe, but plenty of stations in South America. The lowest frequency band I use is the 40 Meter (7MHz) Band. I've heard ZS6CCY in South Africa numerous times on this band since we moved here. I used to hear Australia and New Zealand ("Vee Kay / Zed El in ham speak) on a regular basis back in SoCal, but they're weaker here. One of these days I'll look at the Great Circle Route between my previous and current stations. Might be interesting. This version of the antenna is noticeably quieter on the 7MHz band, where I went from an "S3" background noise level to "S0", which is pretty quiet. Considering it was "S7" in SoCal, this is a huge improvement. If/When we get the structure built over the concrete patio, I'll put my Big Gun version of this antenna up, my 33' Shakespeare Model 2011.

Winter is on the way! We're expecting our first snow of the season this coming weekend, all day Saturday and Saturday night. There's no talk of accumulation, but the low temps are forecast to be in the mid to low teens. I'm sure SLW will want her snows put on soon, even though some call this start a "False Winter", and we'll have some more nice, sunny, 70* days before Winter clamps down.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Little Ones Are Over.....

 

Well, one of them is. TLG has school tomorrow and can't stay, but his little brother, TNLG, can. 

He's napping right now, so I get a breather.

The antenna project is 95% finished, and it works quite well. It seems quieter, possibly due to the two 1Megohm, 5Watt, Carbon Composition resistors I added from the center conductor of the coax to ground. This bleeds off the static charge on the antenna, which is caused by wind, rain, and/or snow getting blown past the antenna. Some people use an inductor (250 mH is popular)to do that, as it has a much lower DC resistance, so the charge current flows through the inductor relatively unimpeded. It's an old trick, but sometimes The Old Ways work just fine.

And the healing is continuing. Very little to no "pain", more like a slight discomfort, and the meds the Doctor prescribed work very well.

Uh-Oh......I hear a little voice calling.....

Hope y'all have a pleasant  day, and a Blessed Sunday.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Some Fall Color!

 

And as usual, the camera just can't capture how vibrant it looks it the sun. It looks like the squirrels have stripped it of seeds!

The apple tree in the back yard has a bumper crop of little apples, but hasn't turned color yet. The squirrels and birds likewise enjoy the apples, and have been visiting the tree regularly.

And I'm wondering if we're going to have a severe Winter. The squirrels and rabbits seem to be grazing 24/7, and even Miss Swan has started her own midden.

 
 
As far as the TURP procedure goes, it went smoothly, no surprises, and nothing unusual was found. All the biopsies came back "Negative". I'm advised to drink LOTS of water for the next few days to help keep things flushed out. I'm only in minor discomfort, and my urine looks like Hawaiian Punch. Next week I'll get the catheter removed in the morning, and then go back in the afternoon for a "voiding" test. Hopefully everything works normally, and I can put this all behind me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

20 Meter Vertical Back In Service

 Finished up a few things, and ran the coax from the surge suppressor to my entrance box.

Didn't take any pix because I just wanted to "Get 'Er Done".

It seems to receive a bit quieter, but it's been down for quite a while now, so I really don't have anything to do an "A-B" comparison with.

I'll sweep it with my antenna analyzer later, but my in-line Vector Wattmeter indicates the SWR never gets above 1.33:1 over the entire 20- Meter band.

Gonna have a bite to eat, and hit the rack early so we can get to the hospital by 0530.

Monday, October 16, 2023

OOOPS!

 Wrote the wrong day on the calendar.

The procedure is on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

"Roto-Rooter" Procedure Tomorrow

 Every one I've talked to said that aside from some discomfort and work restrictions for a few weeks, it's an easy-peasy operation. It has some possibility of causing other problems, but the success rate is something like 90%, complications are rare, and I have high confidence in the team that will do the procedure.

I check in at 0530, surgery is scheduled for 0700, and I'll be staying the night "Just In Case".

I feel strangely apprehensive about this, but I have no idea why.

See you all in a couple of days.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Busy Week!

 Been cleaning and organizing SLW's "side" of the garage, and doing the usual "winterizing" tasks, as we'll have overnight lows in the 20's, so time to roll up the hoses, collect the sprinklers, and put the hats on the outside water spigots. And cut some more wood now that the garage has been gone through, cleaned, sorted, kept/tossed, and boxed up in labeled boxes.

Oh, those speaker kits that were delivered the week I broke my hip seven months ago?

The enclosures are finally ready for coating and final assembly:

I should have had my fan running to blow the dust outside, but......I didn't, and a haze of MDF dust was everywhere:

All over my nice, clean garage, too! Yes, I had a dust mask on, but still shoulda used the fan...

Anywhoo...they're downstairs on the Operating Table so I can install the crossovers, input terminals, glue-and-screw the one side on, and coat them.

The lengths of wire are used to connect everything together inside the enclosure, and the threaded inserts are for the mounting feet.

And since my "Roto-Rooter" procedure is coming up a week from today (had the pre-op this afternoon....), I've rounded up a bunch of little "Bench Projects" to keep me busy while I recuperate. I'll be under a 35 pound weight limit, NO lifting, toting, bending low, squatting and/or working on the floor for four weeks. Glad I have a ton of "little stuff" to keep me busy, or I'd go bonkers in four weeks.....





Tuesday, October 3, 2023

I Survived!

 Oh, yeah!

 

Hit by "Hurricane TLG", followed by "Tropical Storm TNLG", and they were both in the same area for a time on both Saturday and Sunday. Got us coming and going!

I'm OK, but the playroom and den took a beating.


 

TNLG is a lot like his older brother in that he copies a lot of things his brother does, and has most likely taught him. He was having an absolute blast with the motion and sound activated Halloween decorations his Big Brother, SLW, and I put up on Saturday. And they both run around in circles in the den, and spinning the "Rotary Ottoman" we have.

Besides the chair rotating and rocking, the foot stool also rotates freely, and can be brought up to an almost scary RPM by a determined 6 year old!

Nobody's been flung off it yet, but they're still little.....

 I marvel at their energy and stamina....

Had some brief showers which gave us .1" of rain. Not much, but we'll take it! Northeastern Weld County got clobbered, along with Fort Morgan. They always seem to get hit a lot harder than we do, being out on the wide open Plains, while we're in the foothills. Quite a big difference! WSF told me there are something like 17 micro climates running North up the I-25 from Denver to the Wyoming border, and I believe it! We never had weather like this in SoCal, and it's helped me learn some of the correct terms for things.

And I'm taking advantage of the nice weather by getting the garage all squared away so SLW can park her car inside. Since the bed on the truck is approaching 80% of capacity, I'm going through ALL the boxes of "Misc Stuff", and either giving it away (Fairly new 12V battery, lots of 10ga stranded wire...), or taking it to the dump.

And I finally managed to get the two sections of the intake manifold separated!

Some of the bolts are hard to get at, and can be easily confused with some bolts holding a hard-line vacuum line manifold, so I wound up taking all the bolts out, only to find I missed two! ARRRRGH! I'll get the entire assembly off the engine as soon as I can figure out a way to remove the electrical connector on the Cold Start Injector, which acts like a "choke" by enriching the cold-start mixture.

Yeah, lousy picture. The "Banjo Bolt" just to the left of center is the fuel line, and the red tagged wiring harness that's nicely out-of-focus is the connector, which has to have a spring wire released so the locking tabs unlock, and you can unmate the connector pair.


Extreme Bokeh?

Now I can de-crud it in the garage, and then take it downstairs to inspect, clean, measure, and adjust it per the Toyota Service Manuals and EFI Service Manuals.



Friday, September 29, 2023

Busy Weekend Ahead

 TLG (The Little Guy) will be spending Saturday night with us, and TNLG (The New Little Guy) will be staying Sunday night. So from Saturday afternoon through Monday afternoon the house will ring with the sounds of children running around.

I might be a bit tied up for a while. I pray I survive this youthful onslaught!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

YAWN.... I Gots Nuttin' Today

 Getting over a head cold that hit me last week and has overstayed it's welcome. Still, it's the first "Head Cold" I've had in about 8 months, and coincides nicely with stopping smoking, now six months in the rear-view mirror.

Health continues to improve, and it looks like my blood chemistry has returned to normal. Still on the "Low Normal" side for Sodium, but my Magnesium and Potassium numbers are now in-the-green, and my a1C has dropped to 6.0, which is pretty good. Have to work on building my stamina back, and trying to get my weight back to the range where my Doctor is happy. I was running around 190 Lbs before this last incident, but lost about 15 Lbs in the last month or so. SLW has embraced the "Heart Healthy" cooking philosophy, and so far everything she's made has been great. I'm eating like a horse these days, all healthy stuff, and still can't seem to get my 15 Lbs back. Oh, well, there's worse things that can happen.

Annnnd....still no action on the legal front. I'm getting ready to just walk in to a firm, and offer to pay them for a consultation. I've been "fretting" over this too much, and I'd like to get it settled, or be told "No Case.....".

Overcast, drizzly, and about 70* today, so I haven't done much garage work, and I'll most likely retreat to the basement workshop and chill out with some music. I'm almost to the point where I can paint the new speaker enclosures I've been working on, and then I can load the speakers and crossovers into them, and see how they sound.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

'Twas A Cold and Rainy Night.....

 Well, it sounds better than the "Dark and Stormy...." phrase people use.

Currently 54* and drizzling. We've received about 1/4" of rain, with more to come. SO....no antenna work today! I (finally!) dropped the mast my FM Broadcast antenna is on, and mounted the GPS antenna at the top of the mast. I ran the cable for it down through the mast, making a tidy appearance. I ran those two cables, plus two spares, through the 3/4" hole I'd previously bored through the foundation, secured them to the post and fence, and then packed the hole with good old "Plumber's Putty" so rain drops and critters can't get in.

I'm quite pleased with how this Harbor Freight Demolition Hammer works. It will operate as a hammer drill for boring concrete, or just as a hammer, which is how I installed all those ground rods.

Say what you will about Horror Fright, some of their products have gotten quite good. Their "Hercules" line of power tools are definitely one of their good products. I also have the Hercules 1/2" Drill/Driver, and it's an amazing value.

Paired up with a 5AHr battery, and it goes (for me) all day, and usually still has enough juice to keep going.

They also have a very nicely made 1/2" breaker bar, that's about 6" longer than my Craftsman bar. It has a nice finish, looks to be well-made, and has a great non-slip grip on it.

As long as you pick their top-of-the-line products, like Hercules or Icon, you get a good, solid tool at a savings. Definitely "Dr. Jim Recommended"!

As for the rest of the night, I'm either going to stoke the fireplace and drive some of the chill out of the house, or retreat to the nice, dry, toasty basement workshop, and do some cleaning up and a bit of tinkering.

Maybe both......



Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Biden Impeachment Inquiry.......?

 Yawn....just more Kabuki Theater, but interesting reading, nonetheless.

Read All About It Here.....

Oh, Yuck.....

 Not me, I'm doing fairly well these days. I was tinkering around on the Supra last night, finally figuring out how to get the main fuse box separated from the wiring harness. I'll have much more room for cleaning that rusty area with the fuse box unplugged from all the cables.

And then I found this:

It's a junction box (or was a junction box) that lives underneath the main fuse box. The wire exiting the box on the bottom left side goes directly to the positive battery terminal, and feeds the entire car via the two wires exiting the top.

This particular area is prone to rust if you don't blast it out yearly to wash away the acid vapors that a NON-sealed battery produces during it's normal charge/discharge cycling. The residue from the vapors mixes with water that splashes up there while being driven and forms a pretty acidic mix. I'm very lucky that the car came from the Riverside area, which is dry and hot. I've seen these cars with huge chunks of that area just dissolved away, requiring some pretty extensive repairs. 

I doubt this part is available these days, so I'll have to fabricate up something new. The car stereo people have tons of similar parts, so I'll start looking there. I'm also going to add a small relay box for my Photon Torpedo high-beams, and the electric fans I'll be installing, when she goes back together.

Also drilled a 3/4" hole through the foundation and into the basement workshop so I can run some new cables in there. I'll have one RG-6QS cable for my FM antenna, another one for the GPS antenna that feeds my Master Timebase, and two spares.

Gorgeous day outside. Blue skies, sunny, 70* temps. I don't want to get caught with half-finished stuff outside like last year, so I have the chainsaw batteries on-charge, and when I finish up the cabling, I'll saw some of the wood left from the huge limb the broke off the ash tree a couple of years ago.


Saturday, September 9, 2023

20 Meter Vertical is Vertical Again!

 Should have had this up a few months ago, but the hip and the other issue kind of slowed me down.

Slid the mast section out of the Rohn 5' tripod I was using, and loosened up the mounting hardware a bit.

After a bit of wrangling it around, it was up solidly.

And it's plumb. The red indicator needle swings back and forth for quite a while, and this was how far the needle was swinging. Average out the swings, and it's as close to 90* as possible.

The plate that bolts on the ground rod, and the "PolyPhaser" surge protector is mounted.


I'm about 85% finished. I have to run a jumper from the choke balun down to the PolyPhaser, and then run the coax to the RF Entrance Box, and I'll be back on the air!




Thursday, September 7, 2023

We Gonna Have Some Fun Now!

 My grandson will swoon when he sees this:

Since the little Dromida trucks get "lost" out there on the street, and they won't go through grass more than a a couple of inches tall, and since we only have my hybrid Granite/Senton "Big Red" truck to go "Off Roading" with, and since TLG can drive the big truck better than the little ones, I figured I'd better get another 1/8th scale R/C model to keep up with him.


 This is a higher-end model from ARRMA, and is probably what I should have bought a couple of years ago when I got interested again in R/C cars. It's built with a sturdier chassis than Big Red, and has a brushless motor that can run a "3S" lithium cell pack. I've seen these cars doing 75MPH, so I'm glad they have very good "brakes".

I'm going to install a "Super Duty Extreme" oversize front bumper, and replace the plastic skid plates with steel ones, check the radio, reset the front toe-in, which is now front toe-OUT (makes the car get "squirrely"), and test it this weekend.

Tomorrow I have an 0700 appointment for an follow-up Echo Cardiogram to see if my heart has stabilized, or deteriorated further. As soon as test is finished, I'm making an "ASAP, Please?" appointment with my Cardiologist so he can review my past tests with the current results, and give me a prognosis. I'm not really looking forward to all this, but it is what it is, and helps fill out the picture of what happened last month.

And since I'm actually feeling "better", I staged everything I need to get my 20 Meter Vertical Antenna mounted up on the post, radials in place, and new cable to run from the ground rod into the house. Gotta have certain Winter Time indoor activities ready to go this month. It'll be snowing here before you know it!
 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Race Day Recap.....

 Sorry, but no pix. Try as she might, SLW just couldn't use my Nikon to capture the event, and for some reason, her cellphone wasn't tethered to her like it usually is.

We started by laying out a "course" in the cul-de-sac with the small orange traffic cones I had, and quickly realized I didn't have enough cones to lay out an oval track, with cones on the inside and outside. So I introduced him to the concept of "gates", using two cones for each gate, and then setting up the gates to make a small course. We got out the two little "Dromida" trucks to start with, and I promptly found out I'm really out of practice! The "race" soon degenerated into who could knock down the most cones, and it was a lot more fun than "just racing".

TLG, SLW, me, and the neighbors were laughing our behinds off as TLG and I were playing our version of Field Hockey with little R/C trucks, and 6" traffic cones! WHAM! Got One! A bunch of other neighbors came by to see what was going on, and an absolutely splendid time was had by all.

Then we got "Big Red" out. That thing weighs about 6 pounds, and goes about 50MPH. Hit a cone with it, and the cones either goes sailing through the air, or the truck just flattens it out and goes over it. Most impressive.

And as in real life racing, we got cut a bit short by some sprinkles and lightning. TLG is driving the big truck better than the small ones, and it was fun to watch him learn to use the throttle to crawl along at a waking pace, while turning the steering wheel to see how the truck responded. In short, he's developing a good "feel" for the controls, something hard to teach to somebody unless they really want to learn it.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Not Quite Up to Working on My "1:1 Scale" Car, So Let's Bust Out The Little Ones!

 Grandson #1, aka "TLG", will be spending the night on Saturday, and he asked SLW if we could play with the little Radio Controlled trucks I have. Since I'd mentioned it to him when he, his little brother, and our DIL came by to see me in the Hospital, he's been patiently waiting for me to be able to do this.

These two "little guys" are Dromida brand, and while it looks like the models I have are discontinued, they brought them over by the container load, and can still be found on-line.


 And since I'm in a "small car" mood, I also busted out Big Red, my "slightly modified" ARRMA Senton Short-Course Truck. Big Red needed new shocks, as the plastic shock absorber bodies were worn internally to the point that new o-ring seals still leaked. The first go round were some cheap Chinesium aluminum shock absorbers, but they were an odd size, and some vital needed parts were not included. The odd diameter meant nothing I had would fit, so I coughed up the bucks, and bought a set of aluminum shocks for an ARRMA Typhon 4WD buggy. They're very nice quality, BUT I didn't check out the mounting hardware differences, and wound up fabricating some little aluminum sleeves from an 8-32 x 1/4" aluminum spacer from my Radio Parts stash. Used an "MS" washer on each side to take up the slack, and presto! Typhon shocks on a Senton!


 TLG is bringing over a bunch of small, orange cones, and I have a good stack of them, too. We're to set up what he calls "An Obstacle Course", specifically so he can learn to drive the truck! He sees me doing some maneuvers around my orange cones, and can't quite duplicate them, so he's going to practice. I didn't think stuff like this was rubbing off on him, but I'm tickled pink it is.

And since LSP has posted some art, here's one I bought while I was in the Hospital. One of my favorite WWII works by Rockwell. Printed on canvas, blocked and framed, and delivered to my door for $100.


Sorry the picture is a bit blurry. Those M1917's make a hell of a racket! Oh, and I forgot to pop up the flash....

It's going down the Basement Workshop.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Going Dark on the Medical Website Issues.....

 Yup. Getting a lawyer.

AFAIC, we're gonna fire a 16", 9-gun AP salvo and see what happens.....

Thank you all for your concern, prayers, and well wishes.

We're weapons free, going in hot, and full-speed ahead.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Timeline of What Happened, and Why.....

 This recent incident started when I ran out of a prescription med, an SSRI, and had some difficulty getting it refiled. My Primary Care Provider (great Doctor, BTW) had her "Patient Portal" changed from UC Health to Village Medical. 

The new website was NOT ready to roll-out, and they had several weeks of major issues. Medical records were lost, messages to your provider was were lost, appointments were dropped, scheduled wrong, or scheduled for after they were supposed to occur. i.e, your appointment for the 14th was made for the 4th, meaning you "missed" your appointment. Telephone calls subjected you to an hour more of music-on-hold while you waited. SLW was on hold for 90 minutes, and finally hung up. I lasted about 45 minutes when I called.

This is one of the worst Charlie Foxtrots I've ever seen. I've helped roll-out big sites like this, and this would have been totally unacceptable. I've seen people walked out the door for such a gross failure of a project. For a Medical website, this goes way beyond "unacceptable", and belongs in the "Inexcusable" category.

I went over Monday afternoon and told the receptionist I was in dire need of this medication, as I was starting to feel pretty bad. Nothing happened. SLW went over Tuesday afternoon, demanded to see a Nurse or somebody who could get this approved, as the pharmacy kept sending texts to me "Awaiting Prescriber Response".

After she "talked" to them, I had the prescription in an hour or so, but it was too late, and I was in withdrawl. Freezing cold, shaking like a leaf, teeth chattering, and covered in sweat. After about 20 minutes it would pass, but then I was gasping for air. Four hours later, it would hit me again. Tuesday night I started hallucinating when I closed my eyes, making it a bit difficult to sleep. All I could keep down was ice water, and even that came back up a few times. In short, I was a wreck.

Wednesday I felt a bit better, and had some ice cream, but I decided I had something was really wrong with me (Ya Think??), and Thursday morning we went to the Urgent Care Clinic. The Doctor there had spent most of his career in ER service, so he was really good at nailing things down rapidly. Had several blood draws, and exam, and an EKG. He came back in and said he had bad news, as I was experiencing a severely abnormal heart rhythm, along with "Significant T-Wave Inversion", and critically low Sodium (down to 119), Magnesium, and Potassium levels. He told us to go IMMEDIATELY to the ER, don't race there, but don't stop at Wal Mart, either. He'd phoned ahead to alert the ER, and they were waiting for me.

They started pumping me full of saline, Na, MG, and K, while taking numerous blood draws, and getting me stabilized, as my blood chemistry was way out-of-whack, my glucose was bouncing between 80 and 200, and my BP was bouncing around quite a bit, too. I had a Gamma Scan of my heart, then a stress test, then another Gamma Scan, and an Ultrasound exam of my heart. My Troponin levels were elevated, indication I suffered some permanent heart damage from the withdrawl I went through. My Doctor called it a "Cardiac Insult" which I thought quite appropriate. Heck, it "insulted" my whole doggone body. In my weakened state, the UTI that was starting went wild, and crossed over into my bloodstream, leading to a high white platelet count. My last two days in the hospital were spent waiting for the lab to do cultures on the strain of bacteria in my blood so they could proscribe a very specific antibiotic to target the bacteria.

Had my yearly "Wellness" visit with my Doctor, and she was very upset over this fiasco. The had several other patients who wound up in the hospital over the loss of communication between all parties, but I was about the most extreme one they had. I very possibly could have died from this, and I'm pretty upset about it, too.

So anyway....my blood chemistry is coming back into limits, I have some new meds to help offload fluid from the cardiac area, and ore heart exams to follow to check the damage caused by this incident.

I'm feeling better, but still a bit weak, and I lost 15 lbs during this incident.


Thank you all for the prayers and best wishes!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Home Again, Just A Quick Post.

 Got home Tuesday about 1400, and was feeling pretty good, with a few dips, and one "splat", where I just had to stop, sit down, and have some 50/50 OJ and water. My mental state has returned to normal, and the Docs are watching my blood Sodium, Magnesium, and Potassium levels, which were lower than normal. The Sodium really bothered them, as the normal range is 135-to-140. and I was down at 120/121. If you go much below 120 for any length of time, you're looking at a REAL Medical Emergency.


SO......got my new glasses, and they're much better. Feels nice when something good happens!


Longer post to follow, but just wanted to thank you all for the prayers and well wishes. Feeling better today (Thursday), and I'm off to see my Primary Care Doctor in an hour.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Oh, Boy....Back in the Hospital

Turns out going to Urgent Care this morning was a wise decision. They drew a bunch of blood, and did an ECG. The ECG came back with some Abnormal findings. That, along with the blood test results, was enough for the Urgent Care Doctor to give us our marching orders to report *Immediately* to the ER, and I was admitted. So tomorrow I have an cardiac ultrasound in the morning, and possibly a Cardiac Catheterization,  formally called an Angioplasty. So depending on the outcome I'll either be discharged tomorrow afternoon, or the next day.
I'll post more tomorrow, if able.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Medical Semi-Emergency. Be back when I can

My Primary Care Provider changed their Patient Portal (where you log in for appointments and stuff) to a different one, and yowie, what a Charlie Foxtrot it turned into. Appointments were dropped, medical records didn't transfer over, and the phone system is all bollixed up. As a result, one of my prescription didn't refilled, and I ran out. Two weeks ago! I went over in person on Monday, talked to receptionist, and she assured me it would get taken care of. Didn't happen. Sweet Little Wife then went to the pharmacy, talked to the Pharmacist, and he confirmed my thoughts about me being in withdrawl, although these days they use the term "Sudden Discontinuation Syndrome". She went back to the Doctor's office, and told them this had to be taken care of NOW, as I was in distress. Hot flashes where sweat would just pour off me, followed by the trots,  chills, shakes, and chattering teeth. The receptionist got a Nurse out riki-tik, she took over the receptionists PC, and sent the order out while SLW waited. I got the prescription refilled, and the Pharmacist recommended I start with a half-dose for four days. All I could keep down was cold water. Then last night I started seeing things. Not scary or unpleasant things, but it was enough to grab my attention.

We're going to the Urgent Care facility tomorrow morning, and see if they can do anything to ease this unsettling situation.

Be back when I'm able. Just took me ~45 minutes to type this post. I am really out of it....

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

A Tale of Two Alternators, Or "Why It Still Ain't Smogged"

 It Was A Dark And Stormy Night........


 
No, really, it was. We've received over 4-1/2" of rain in the last couple of weeks, and since I won't take Ms Swan out in the rain, I thought it would be a good time to change out the slooowly failing alternator with the new, higher capacity unit I bought a while back. I've swapped more than couple of alternators in the past, and it's generally a pretty straight forward job, when you can see all the bolts. The car had a pinhole leak in the power steering high-pressure hose, which sprayed out a fine mist at certain times. The mist coated that side of the engine, and the underbody, with a mix of road grime and hydraulic oil. The resultant gunk was about 1/4" thick in spots, meaning I couldn't see the bolts to get a wrench on them. This is after a quick douse and brush with a bit of mineral spirits. The slider on the threaded rod was completely jammed with gunk, and I could't move the alternator enough to loosen the belt.



 Prior to cleaning this bracket and adjustment bolt you couldn't see them. To get to this point, however, I had to remove the pulley on the power steering pump.

And it's on there really tight.

Takes a big wrench, lots of grunt, a dash of PB Blaster, and a means to hold the damn thing while you break the nut loose.


 The pulley had to come off to reach a bolt holding the alternator bracket (the jammed-with-crud bracket) to the block. This required pulling the cooling fan and fan shroud. To pull the fan shroud requires you to remove the top radiator hose, which means draining a bunch of coolant. If I'm going to do that, I might as well replace both radiator hoses. That required pulling the radiator, as the degraded bottom hose was stuck on there so tight that I had to cut it to pull the radiator. 

The hose clamp is also installed perilously close to the end of the outlet, and was barely clamping the hose on. Looks like it was in a different place during it's life, too.
 

Since the coolant had been drained, I decided to look into "The Case Of The Missing Thermostat", or so I thought because the engine ran too cool, rarely reaching the normal zone on the gauge. The water out of the engine through the top hose also showed immediate warming from a cold-start, a sure sign of a missing thermostat.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

It had one in it, but it was stuck wide-open.


It was also installed wrong, as the "Jiggle Valve" should be at the top to allow air to bleed out as you fill the engine with coolant.

So I'm cleaning a ton of parts, including those it's very hard to see or reach with these various bits on the car. 

And as long as I'm this far into it, I'm going to go ahead and change the cam drive belt, tensioner, and spring.

And It All Began On  A Rainy Day......



Egad....'Tis a Trifle HOT This Week

 Or for what's remaining of the week. It was 97* today, and is expected to be 100+ through Sunday. The humidity is only 17%, so you step...