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.

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