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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

October 2017

Sunday, 29 October, 2017

The other day I ordered a "RTL2832U USB DVB - T RTL-SDR Tuner Receiver Set with MCX Interface Remote Controller" for $9.28 from Gearbest. They advertise the device as a USB tuner to turn your computer into a digital TV (Windows software included, of course), but it can receive signals from 25mHz to 1.7gHz. That makes it ideal as the frontend for a software-defined radio (RTL-SDR). Which is what I am using it for.

I have just started exploring the capabilities of the device. I can see that I need a better antenna than the one provided, so I guess it's time to buy a Slinky .


The four radio desk stands that I printed for TYT MD-380 radios sold out at the KARS meeting on Thursday in less than a minute. The ham club members suggested that I print a lot more and sell them at a ham fest.

Since it isn't good to have just one item in your inventory, I have created stands for the Yaesu FT-2D and Baofeng UV-5R radios. I have finished the stand for the Yaesu. I need to redesign the Baofeng stand.

Frank Ten Thy loaned me his radios so I could get the measurements correct. Note that I have added the model name onto the stand model. I am doing that for all the stands, so if someone has one of each, they won't get the stands mixed up.


Quote of the day:

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it.
     Clarence Darrow

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Sunday, 22 October, 2017

Earlier this month when I had my 1949 Plymouth in the Cinderella Story car show, I was parked in front of a 1929 Model A Ford. I got to talking with Joe Tomasonis, the owner of the Ford. He mentioned he had a friend who had a '49 Plymouth that he sold. Lee, his friend, retired and moved to Pahrump, Nevada, but he had some spare parts left over for his Plymouth. He urged me to give him a call.

I called Lee and we arranged for me to purchase most of the parts he had. They showed up in five boxes on Friday. Here is a patial list of what I got:

I got all of this for $100 and $147 shipping. It was an outstanding deal. Here is the new (old) radio:

Note that the glass has a piece missing. That is an easy thing to fix. I intend to replace all the capacitors in it, as they are all 68 years old and capacitors dry out and change their values. I will then install it in my car.


I could not seem to rendezvous with my ham radio friends, so I called one of them Thursday morning. He told me to come down to the Silverlake Mall, where the KARS was holding its weekly meeeting. I did that and gave one each of the radio stands to Frank Ten Thy and Mike Slothower.

Those stands garnered a lot of attention at the meeting. The other members asked me if I had any more of them. I didn't, but I do now. I have printed 5 more of the stands and will sell them at the next meeting for $4 each. I may have stumbled into a cash cow here. Other members have other radios, and I can design and print stands for them, too.


Quote of the day:

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
     Mark Twain

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Monday, 16 October, 2017

Several of my Linux buddies are in to ham radio. A couple of them have bought a handheld DMR rig called the TYT MD-380, which has a nice color LCD. Their only problem is that when they have the rig sitting upright on a desk, they can't read the screen. We determined that if the rig was tilted back about 30° then the screen could be read.

So, being the helpful person I am, I found a cradle on Thingiverse for that exact radio. Only problem is it had a stem and ball behind it to fit in a swivel fitting. So I downloaded the model and uploaded it to TinkerCad. I cut off the stem and ball, tilted it 30° back and added a wedge and support to it. Here was the result:

I have printed two of these with my Creality 3D printer and they came out fine. I have made the results public on TinkerCad, so anyone can grab it.


The Dollar Tree stores have begun selling 60 watt-equivalent LED light bulbs for $1. Just what are these, anyway? Well, they are sold under the Sunbeam label, which has been an American kitchen product manufacturer for many years. The LEDs are manufactured in China.

60 watt-equivalent means that they emit as much light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. They actually consume 8 watts to do that. With the translucent dome on the bulb, they emit the same amount of light as a normal light bulb.

I knew that I wanted use one of these as a shop light, so I needed it to emit as much light as possible. I pried off the plastic dome, using a sharp putty knife. Here is what the LED bulb looks like inside:

Each of those little yellow squares is an LED, so there are 16 surface-mounted LEDs inside. Each LED consumes 8/16 of a watt, or 1/2 watt of power. With a bit of math, that means that each bulb draws .5/120 amps, or 42 milliamps of current. Pretty thrifty.

And here is the bulb turned on, without its light-moderating dome:

It's pretty hard to take a picture of a light with a cell phone camera, but you get the general idea. I would guess it emits about as much light as a 150 watt incandescent bulb.


Quote of the day:

Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel.
     H. L. Mencken

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Thursday, 12 October, 2017

After the Cinderella Story Car Show, I had planned to take my '49 Plymouth to an automotive shop to get it fixed. It has been backfiring through the carburetor and losing much power when I go up any hills. I figured it had something to do with the vacuum advance, but I was wrong.

I mentioned my intentions to Pete, a fellow classic car guy, and he suggested that he look at it. So I drove the Plymouth a couple of miles to Pete's place and we both looked at the problem.

First, we verified that all 6 cylinders were firing when they were supposed to. They were, but a couple were kind of weak sometimes. We then checked the valves using a vacuum gauge and it indicated there was nothing wrong with the valves. The coil is only two years old, so we ignored that. Finally, we checked the points and condenser.

The easiest way to do that is to remove the distributor from the car, because it is very difficult to get down to the distributor otherwise. We removed the distributor and checked the vacuum advance, which was fine. Pete then cleaned up the points (which seemed to be in good shape) and changed the condenser. We put the distributor back in the car and adjusted the timing.

The problem was with the condenser, as the car runs very well now. Gotta watch for those Chinese parts, I guess.

While we were at it, Pete moved the horn relay wire to a connection point where the horn now works whether the car is running or not. Someone had hooked it up so it only worked when the ignition switch was on and the car was running.

It turns out that moving the horn wire was not a good idea. I was going to drive the '49 to the Paul Bunyon cruise in Rathdrum, and the battery was dead. So I disconnected the wire and am recharging the battery.


Quote of the day:

When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere.
     Robert Heinlein

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Tuesday, 10 October, 2017

The Cinderella Story Car Show seems to have been a big success. There were forty eight cars at the show, and they were all classic in their field. Since my '49 Plymouth is 'just' an old passenger car, I kind of felt apart from the rest of the crowd. You judge - They did, and a highly modified Cadillac won Best of Show.


The $119 i5 Dell laptop computer I got on eBay works really well. No problems with it at all. There is only one thing I had to do with it. Linux can tell you a whole lot about your hardware, and when I clicked on the power icon and the battery, I found that the battery was capable of holding only 56% of its original capacity. This is normal for a laptop that has seen some use. Eventually, the amount of time you can run it on battery diminishes to a point where you have to keep the machine plugged in all the time. My Dell was at the point where the battery would last 1 1/2 hours, so I spent $12 and got a replacement from eBay. I now have a battery that lasts 3 1/2 hours, and six spare 18650 batteries from the old battery pack.


22 years ago, I wrote a computer program (in C) for Windows 3.1. Over the years, I converted it from C to Delphi and have been active in its life. I have now decided to convert it to compiling using Lazarus, which is an open source version of Delphi. This will allow the program to be distributed using Linux, Windows and Mac. I am encountering some problems doing this conversion, but that's what makes it fun.


Quote of the day:

When a New Yorker looks as if he's suntan, it's probably rust.
     Laurence J. Peter

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Tuesday, 3 October, 2017

I am in the process of getting my '49 Plymouth ready for the Cinderella Story Car Show this weekend. That is an indoor show to be held at the North Idaho Fairgrounds in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday and Sunday.

I have cleaned up the engine compartment and have reattached some trim that was working itself loose. I will be taking the car over to Cinderella Custom and they will polish it for me. I will take the car to the fairgounds on Firday, and it will be there on Saturday and Sunday.


I have been running a very old version of Linux Mint (version 13) on my i7-based zReason Chimera laptop since I purchased the laptop. With newer versions, I can't get the sound to work. I have finally upgraded that machine to Linux Mint 18.2, and have verified that I can get sound through Bluetooth. So I will be using the latest version of Linux on the fastest of my computers.


Quote of the day:

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?
     Ursula K. LeGuin

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother