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Crusty's Rumblings
... or how I waste my time.
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26th-Jan-2015 02:18 am - Roots.
Returning to my roots, the days of vacuum tube electronics, and it's great fun. Had to excavate the ham shack to get my old tube-type receiver out. Then try to hoist the heavy thing up to my too small work bench today. Dust everywhere. Achoo!

The tubes lit up, no smoke so that was a good sign. Attached speaker and a short antenna wire and tuned around. Nothing, just hiss. Knew that wasn't right, if I picked up nothing else I should have heard all the garbage the digital electronics in the house pours out. Trouble shooting time.

Checked voltages several places, all seemed OK except for the HF oscillator tube. Grid voltage was supposed to be -3 or -4  volts, but this had -.389, plate and screen voltages were high too. So I hooked up the oscilloscope and probed a bit. No sign of oscillation. It's a simple circuit, but no oscillation on any band setting. Best I can figure the mica 15pF cap from the tank to the grid has open circuited. Going to be fun to replace that, it's buried in a nest of wires.

Also I need to use some tuner cleaner on the switches and controls, this thing is almost as old as I am. Looked for sources around me that might have it. Radio Shack is hopeless, but I found a surprising source - Oreilly Auto parts. Apparently there are many electrical switches and controls in cars today and they fail the same ways the old tube gear did.

All this activity is due to a Novice Rig Roundup taking place Feb 7-14 and I think I'd like to give it a go.
17th-Oct-2014 04:30 pm - Archimedes was right.
This happened about 1967 when I was in in high school, about 16yrs oldl. I was working part time, afternoons and Saturdays, in a sort of garden/pet supply business. Was called Johnny's Feed and Seed and was pretty big for that time. It stocked garden seeds of all sorts, prepackaged and bulk, grass seed by the barrel, fertilizer in stacks of 50lb bags (pet foods too), power gardening tools, etc.. Part of the job involved waiting on customers (using a hand cranked cash register), but mostly it  involved handling the warehouse inventory. Lots of sacks to stack, unload, load, move, even put hay, straw, timothy and alfalfa bales away.

The business had a 3 ton flatbed truck to do pickups and deliveries.  One week we needed more dry slaked lime, supplies were low. So the #3 guy gets to go pick up a load from the local plant.  He comes back with the load, 3 tons worth, and backs up to the loading dock, parks and comes in to tell me 'unload and stack it in the warehouse'.

First time to do this for me, so I looked for the best two wheel hand truck we had, an ancient thing made of oak and iron. So I roll it to the dock and leave it to go onto the truck bed (3 tons of lime doesn't take much room when it's in 50lb bags. It was pretty easy to shift one to the hand truck and before long I had 12 bags on it. Then I tried to move it. Not happening.

I flopped and flung myself on those handles trying to get it to lean over, but nope. Solid. Now I weighed maybe 130lb then and getting that thing to move wasn't in the cards. I had put 600lbs on it. So I unloaded it to half and got it to move. Stacked that, came back and got the other half on the hand truck. Ok, it was easy so I repeated the procedure.

I was about half done when Guy#3 came out and told me to "stop! stop! stop!". I thought I'd messed up bad from how excited he was. Then he told me to look at the front tires on the flatbed.  They were about 12" off the ground. The back end of the bed was under the loading dock bumper and as I removed the load, the truck springs were raising up the bed. Once it touched the bumper it stopped and, the entire truck frame pivoting on the rear axle, the front end was getting lift instead. A lever and a fulcrum indeed.

I had to reload the truck with enough weight to to drop the bed below the bumper before the truck could move. Guy#3 moved it out a few inches and I got to start over again. I think in total I must have moved 5 tons before I was done. Talk about a tired puppy that night. a
4th-Aug-2014 06:18 pm - Hubris and Health.
Rant Combat SargeSmoking

There is currently an outbreak of Ebola disease.  It's been on the news. So far it has infected 1603 and killed 887, a mortality rate of 55%.  About average from past history. But this time it has infected 4 times more than in the past. Why?

I wondered about that number. In the past, the local control method was total isolation of the victims and their families (10 to 20 people) from the rest of the village for weeks. Food and water would be placed at their door and nothing was allowed out until it had run it's course. And it worked. Not too humane, but with a disease this lethal it was the best way.

This time around, modern medicine has decreed 'let's ignore the old ways and go all modern', transporting the victims into better facilities miles and miles away. And along the way, the locals gathered and cursed them, screaming 'Ebola! Ebola!' from a safe distance. They knew, but the the modern doctors and health workers were sure their way was best... and along the way they spread the disease.  Just as the locals feared.

So now we have 4 times more victims... and dead, so far. The health workers thought they could contain the spread. In Africa, where the used isolation clothes and supplies were valuable to ignorant city people and many people willing to risk death for a few coins. Now Ebola is loose in the cities. And modern treatment hasn't significantly affected the death rate of the victims. And assured many more victims to come.

Bottom line, modern methods have made a bad situation much worse.

Didn't anyone read The Hot Zone?
19th-Aug-2013 12:19 am - Recent Reading
Doing Eric Flint's 1632 series again. Just finished 1634: The Bavarian Crisis . Alternate History stuff. Next is 1635: The Cannon Law

Finally read Elizabeth Moon's Limits of PowerBook four of her Paladin's Legacy series. I'm wondering if she'll be able to finish the series. This last book leaves a lot of subplots to resolve in the next book, Crown of Renewal, if it is to be the finale. Which I doubt.
26th-May-2013 10:59 am - Not just coworkers, family too.
3rd-May-2013 06:59 am - Immortality via wireless
In 1959 I sang the lead of an xmas song on a 10kW AM radio station. (3rd grade school xmas pagent)
My voice passed Castor three years ago.
15th-Jan-2013 08:29 pm - Gun control? Why bother!
So there's going to be a push to ban assault weapons. I don't think it'll pass much less work. There's way too many of them in circulation. And of course it will end up in the courts, second amendment. And that's been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court a few times. Not going to end any different this time either.

 But, I've read that amendment and sure enough, it says right there that folks can have guns - 'A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' Doesn't say anything restricting what sort. And another thing, guns don't kill people, people don't kill people. Bullets kill people. And the amendment says nothing about bullets.

 So, restrict the bullets. Limit how many a reasonable person can have. A hunter, if he has any skill at all only needs a few each time he goes out. If he needs more than six, he's not hunting, he's shooting up the countryside and is a danger to everyone in range. And a pistol for protecting from attack only needs maybe three. If you haven't scared off or hit the attacker after three, you're more a menace to the neighborhood than the attacker.

 Also, restrict the type of ammo powder load and bullet design. No one needs wad cutters or armor piercing high speed rounds. Unless they're planning for a war. And that's not allowed by the constitution. Only Congress can start a war.

 Additionally, why not require all bullets to have serial numbers coded into them and the shell casings too? And require modified firing pins and/or firing chambers that emboss a gun's serial number/ID code into brass casing? Then require the sellers and owners to register with a federal database and keep track of all of these from point of purchase to requiring a log of where, when and why the bullets were used.

 And why not make the registered owner of a gun liable to the same extent as anyone who uses that gun in the commission of a crime? If it's loaned out, and a murder is done with it, then the owner of the gun should also be charged with murder, for aiding an abetting. Likewise if he illegally transfers ownership to another and the weapon is used in a crime.

 Finally, for anyone that absolutely feels the need for weapons of war (assault weapons are surely that), require them to train and serve in a state militia, just like regular soldiers and annually demonstrate their proficiency with their weapons and understanding of the laws and rules they serve under before they are allowed to purchase and retain them. Restrict them to just twenty four bullets unless called out for action by the state governor, in which case the state provides any extra required.
Rant Combat SargeSmoking
Today's Dilbert cartoon strip rang a familiar bell with me today. See, back around 1993 the company I worked for had an engineering department with 17 people. Then control of the company was acquired in 1994 by a Canadian fellow. One of his first acts was to layoff 8 of the people in engineering, planning to place their responsibilities with a team of Canadian engineers he was building in Toronto.  Then he offered a nice voluntary separation package (one week pay for every year worked) to anyone else in the company, and of course huge numbers of employees took him up on it. We had a lot of people nearing retirement and this was a great deal for them. 8 of the remaining engineering dept staff signed up too. That made him blink and try to back down from the offer, but the leaving employees got a lawyer and started to build a lawsuit about this. He honored his offer then and the end result, I was the last one in the department. I'd only been working there for a few years and it wasn't worth it to me to quit and lose my unemployment benefits.

So, there I was in a large, empty engineering department, tasked already with maintaining the company's PC software for programing the two-way radios, developing a data communications accessory for said radios, creating a design modification for new narrow bandwidth NTIA requirements, create another design mod for the repeater line of products so they can handle voice encrypted signals, design and setup production for a new repeater controller to be used in the company's line of full duplex mobile radios, then adapt those for a field portable, battery operated mobile repeater that was rain proof for forestry fire fighters.  And, the new engineers up in Toronto were panicking since the boss wanted them to get busy on new projects he had going. One of the projects was to replace the line of power supplies we imported from Japan for the repeater line of products with a line from another company he'd bought in Nova Scotia, and they wouldn't work. (Smirk)  I knew they wouldn't, we'd gone through hell and high water vetting the models we'd been using. One just doesn't take any old switching power supply and use it on a repeater, those things are very demanding! Of course the Nova Scotia models didn't make it, too much switching noise on the DC output causing the repeater transmitter to have spurious emissions, loss of voltage regulation when in a moderate RF field, total shut down when in a strong RF field, actual output oscillation when the repeater was in low current receive only mode, etc. And they had to get FCC and DOC approvals all over again when they changed to the new power supplies.

Not ready for prime time, those guys. And who did they call (surreptitiously, of course) for help? Me. But... I was busy with my own projects. Bwaaahahahah!

Then the new boss had the hots for getting a contract with the Toronto city transportation department for a wireless high speed data link for the subway trains using the company's radios. The guy bid on it, won and then turned to his Toronto engineers and said, git 'er done.  And no one had done a serious study on the system requirements. Several megabytes of data from sensors and monitors that had accumulated during their runs had to be sent each time the engines returned to the maintenance yard when they had to be refueled and serviced, taking no more than 20 minutes as I recall. The data communications module I'd developed only ran at 9600 baud, due to transmitter signal bandwidth limits. It could go faster, but not meet the legal bandwidth requirement.  And so the boys in Toronto finally figured out it wasn't going to work. 9600bps actually means about 800 bytes per second due to packet overhead (sync words, header, CRC error checks, occasional packet loss and resending delays) and in 20 minutes time the most they could hope for was about 1 megabyte. Panic time in Toronto. So, again they were on the phone to me, on the quiet. I told them the only hope they had was to somehow compress the data before it got to the radio and then decompress it at the maintenance yard. I even pointed them to the LZH code available online. But the jerks had the nerve to expect me to write it for them. Bwahhahhaaha! I was busy by then on another project to modify the company's radios for use by the FBI. And I'd had a job offer doing much more rewarding and fun work at a local design and build company.

And I decided to take it. Sorry FBI, but you had APCO Project 25 radios coming soon and wouldn't need our radios then, and we'd be out the RD and production start-up costs. And Toronto? Best of luck guys. Some of you I'd butted heads with years earlier when you worked for other companies. What goes around, comes around. Have a nice life.
5th-Jan-2013 11:43 pm - Still kicking!
I'm gradually getting back into the electronics hobby. Resurrected most of my engineering software and made some nice discoveries. See, Win7 won't run 16 bit programs, so that wiped out most of my DOS programs and I thought I'd have to use one of my old DOS machines to do any work with them. But I found a Dosbox front end that makes it so easy,  D-Fend Reloaded.  I put this on a 4GB thumb drive and have most of my DOS programs running through it. Cool! Even the NOVA-686 network analyzer and optimizer runs perfectly and in a Win7 Window! Yay!  D-Fend is really aimed at playing the old DOS games, but I can set the speed and windowing for each program so now my CAD stuff runs faster than it ever did on the DOS box.

Currently I'm relearning how to use my schematic capture/XSPICE/Netlist program (Circuit Maker 6) and the companion Traxmaker 3 PCB layout program. Screen capture -

Sorry, but LJ has a bee up their butts about linking in images from sites on dynamic IP addresses. Wordpress doesn't. Can you hear LJ's death knell tolling? Thought you could. Reposted all to here -

Click on the pic for full size.

It's just a simple Colpitts Oscillator, with XSPICE analysis of the transient start up. Modeling oscillators has always been a problem for simulators since oscillators depend on noise and switching transients to get started. CM6 does fine. Also there is a 'multimeter' probe I can use to check the voltage, current and power at each component. Very, very cool.

So, that's the electronics stuff.

Heart stuffCollapse )

ReadingCollapse )

Online ShoppingCollapse )
Good times ahead.
25th-Sep-2012 08:16 pm - Transplant progress
Ok, I've passed most of the hurdles so far, just a few more to go before I know my final status. I'm on the list, but my ranking on it hasn't been set yet. The biggest 'if' now is insurance and can we afford the copay. Should know more in a week or so about that. Then the next thing is to get more counseling on what happens next, what I need to pay attention to and be within 30 minutes of the hospital for when I get the call.

Also they'll want to look at putting in a PICC line so I can take IV meds to reduce pulmonary pressures so that my lung capillaries won't be constricted like they are now. The new heart, if I get one, wouldn't like working against that.

From what I've read so far after the transplant I'll no longer have the pacemaker, but my heart rate will probably be up around 100 because the Vegas nerve to the heart has to be cut. In some people it eventually reconnects. Then there's lots of other things to watch for, signs of rejection, infections, etc.

Thanks for all the good wishes. Either I or the wife will update if anything happens.
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