December 25, 2015
Merry Christmas for those who celebrate. I guess today was one of those few days that all the food I ate today I prepared on my own...

December 24, 2015
Changed oil in my car today...

December 17, 2015
After my guest wifi access point had kicked the bucket, I decided to test the capacitors in the device. I found three capacitors that had high ESR. I ghetto-soldered another capacitor in parallel with these and put it back together. The WAP seems to work once more!

December 15, 2015
Got snowed on like heck. Huge snowdrift in front of my house. My driveway was covered by 8" to 16" of snow. At least I got to use the old snow blower I got earlier this year. It works! And it stopped smoking - virtually no more smoke now. I suspect that now it has proper 2-cycle oil at the correct mixture (32:1). I suspect I'll still have to treat it the same as my string trimmer and generator, and mix 2-cycle oil on demand. It eats quite a bit of gas, maybe 400mL/hour. Alas, this is a significant amount of gas unlike the string trimmer which I think I can get by the whole season with 200mL as it doesn't take long to go through my yard unlike my driveway. My 4-cycle lawnmower eats more gas, usually two complete mowings of my grass uses ~1L of gasoline. Because both the mower and blower have large surface areas to deal with, that makes the difference over the string trimmer.
I just need to figure out how to best deal with mixing for my 2-cycle engines as:
DevicePower and DisplacementFuel ConsumptionFuel:Oil Mix Ratio
MTD Snowblower3HP 99ccEst. about 400mL/h32:1
HFT 900W Generator~2HP 63cc750mL/h @ 50%50:1
Ryobi String Trimmer0.9HP 26cc240mL/h50:1
Sears Lawnmower"6¼HP" 195ccabout 500mL/hN/A
The string trimmer I only need maybe 15 minutes to finish, alas, the snowblower still took an hour to finish. Perhaps because I'm not using it correctly yet. It would have taken even longer to do by hand, and I'd probably have shovelled only half of my driveway. Getting the sidewalk is what annoys me the most...

December 13, 2015
Testing Solder melting - Test solder: Kester® 44 - 63Sn/37Pb solder (Eutectic, MP at 183°C.)
YiHua 898D+ Iron - Set at 300°C - Hit 300°C on display at 30 sec, Melt at 35s
Ungar 4624/Ungar 9921 iron - Set at 600°F (315°C) - Melt at 2 min, 12 sec
Weller 8200N at 100W - Melt at 9 sec

December 12, 2015
I got a 7" digital picture frame for the heck of it. It unfortunately does not have a VGA input, but what would you expect... It has a crappy twisted nematic display alas it does show pictures at 800x600 resolution. My 8" tablet and 5.5" phone have higher resolution... First "crack" at trying to "crack" it open failed, didn't want to crack the plastic case just yet.

December 9, 2015
I tried the 898D+'s solder ion real quick. Unfortunately I didn't think the heatup time of the iron is that great, but didn't compare it to my Ungar 4624/9921/4098 yet, though. Am I smoking something expecting it to heat in 10 seconds like my solder guns? Probably!

December 8, 2015
I got my in-handle fan hot air/iron 898D+ SMT rework station. Tried it on a SMT PCB to pull off a SOT-223 transistor and a SO-8 EEPROM, it seems a bit slower to melt than I thought it should work, alas it does melt solder just fine and could fairly easily remove these components whereas in the past this would have been quite a feat. It also has a temperature controlled solder iron as well, both having their own digital readouts.

I had bought a j5create JUA190 USB VGA adaptor and found out too late that it is NOT Linux compatible at this time. However, hoping that this will change... but no indication just yet... What really bites is that Windows does not allow more than one USB VGA adaptor driver installed, so I can't even use it on my work Windows laptop...
New USB device found, idVendor=0711, idProduct=5100
New USB device strings: Mfr=16, Product=32, SerialNumber=0
Product: USBVGA
Manufacturer: MCT CORP

November 28, 2015
Found that the M350V's AC adaptor jack solder also was cracked. Reflowed those and so far so good - the radio is completely working and solid once more.

November 27, 2015
Found a Sony ICF M350V radio. It looks like it's been dropped as it doesn't work perfectly - AM doesn't work. I opened it and found that the AM loopstick completely broke from the pads, no wonder it didn't work. After resoldering those, it works once more. Now it still seems a bit flaky when shaken...

November 23, 2015

November 10, 2015
Tonight will be the first snow/blizzard of the season for 2015. This is really late, oddly enough. Snow blower is ready... Well, it's the garlic to the vampire...

November 9, 2015
Tried out the butane stove to cook a dish. Nice this thing is great for stir fry. Alas I'm not so sure how safe it is, with the carbon monoxide. At least it did not blacken my pot. I used about 50mL of butane to cook the meal. So much easier to cook.

November 7, 2015
Ended up getting a ~1999 Schwinn Frontier bicycle and a butane portable stove... Both look to be in pretty good shape. More of for emergencies if other forms of transportation/food preparation don't work.

November 1, 2015
I fixed up the Westinghouse H-871N6 AM/FM tube radio with a bit of epoxy and solder. The radio had been dropped and repaired once, but the previous repair attempt missed one trace that influences FM reception. I epoxied a bunch of stuff including the cracked PCB, resoldered and reconnected poorly soldered connection, bent the metal frame back straight, and put it back together. Definitely not as good as new but much more "sound" than before with the PCB and frame straightened in the chassis. At least the random dropouts while listening to AM stations are now gone. Sometimes I was wondering if the broadcast station was having problems as it sometimes does go out, but I ascertained it was the radio. Now it's fixed.

October 31, 2015
Well today is the real Halloween. Yesterday was the work Halloween party. So far it looks like there are plenty of kids out there when offered a selection and asked to take one, will happily take a whole handful. As said, greedy blackmailing kids...
Anyway I ended up buying a set of new lift struts for my Jeep's rear hatch. Finally niec that it stays up once more, nice and strong. The brackets unfortunately are not exactly what they need to be for my car, and so they are kind of juryrigged. Alas it works. Might have to leave the trunk open to extend the life of the struts perhaps? Not sure.

October 30, 2015
Happy Halloween, happy Occultist day, or happy Candy Day.
What a farce. Well, anyway, if you can scare someone, maybe it's worth it. Else it's a false economy. Kids, "working" to blackmail candy from peoples' homes...

September 27, 2015
Went to the Boulder Area Radio Club hamfest. I sort of had a mission: get vacuum tube sockets to perhaps make a vacuum tube tester. Success, got some 7 and 9 pin sockets, as well as two 12ax7 vacuum tubes. And again this is the BARCfest, with its yearly junkpile. Though this year's junk pile wasnt way too great, it did have a bunch of hobby cases to reuse, and other crap. I got an empty evacuated case, one that appears to be an A/V amplifier/switch/mixer(?) and a third one that appears to be a slow turn on 120VAC. I got yet another Firebox X1000, alas it too needs a new heatsink/fan. This time it didn't have a cryptocard, but had a 512MB CF card. Alas too small to do much with it.
I also got a few germanium transistors, some silicon signal diodes, and a selenium rectifier. And a bunch of NOS caps that are more like antiques than anything else - they're paper wrapped electrolytics. Also some resistors, but not too useful. I got another transformer for my Sunbeam humidifier though don't need it for now. A dead meter that got chucked into the roundfile. I passed on a 10/100/1G Ethernet rackmount switch that had fans in it...

Supermoon Eclipse night as well. It cleared up just in time.

September 10, 2015
I finally got a jail to work on pfSense: I installed a regular FreeBSD 10.1 on my pfSense box in a jail. I moved the irc bot from my Geode to the jail and ported the Linux-isms to FreeBSD.

August 30, 2015
I updated my Watchguard Firebox X1000 to pfSense 2.2.4. Seems all go.

August 23, 2015
Well, the Heathkit V7A VTVM (Vacuum Tube Volt Meter) was indeed DOA. However I have finally resurrected it. Apparently there were a few problems with it, but finally it's working as it should once more.
It looks like Asus supplied an Firmware OTA patch for Stagefright amongst other bugs... So my Zenfone 2 is now safe from known exploits... Alas, i'm still not really using it as I hate Android.

August 18, 2015
The HP 403b-001 seems to work actually, but still seems to leak current to one of the input pins. I noticed there was a strap that shorted the negative rail to GND which enough leakage happens to trigger the GFCI. Removing the strap allows the meter to stop tripping the GFCI. There's still something that's leaking but not sure what. The NiCd batteries within at least didn't seem to be shorted up, there are four 6V "cells" (probably like 5 1/3AA or something in series, to make 6V) making a whopping 24V (±12V for the discrete operational amplifier) to power the internal guts. The claim is that it can run 40 hours on battery power. Alas I'm not sure what I need a non true RMS meter for, it does not really look like it's true RMS - just a millivolt AC meter, from 0-1mV to 0-300V.

August 17, 2015
I tested the Eico 320 signal generator. This looks like it at least partially works! How I tested? I got an AM radio and tuned it to a known station, and placed it near the generator. Then I tuned the signal generator to the same frequency... Well, it didn't do what I expect as the dial was slightly off, but if I adjusted the generator... I could hear the characteristic beat frequency... and then the complete annhiliation of the radio station! Turning on the internal audio oscillator (which seems to be around 400 Hz, at least my Tenma says 396Hz) I hear the tone on the radio. I can't modulate the signal alas so that's slightly broken but in general the oscillator works!
This signal generator uses the large octal base tubes 6X5 (rectifier) and 6SN7 (dual triode AF and RF oscillators) instead of the miniature 9 pin 12AU7 (AF osc and modulator) and 12AV7 (RF osc and amp) in the Eico 324. Both oscillators use harmonics to extend their ranges. The 320 is 150KHz to 34MHz fundamental (102MHz in harmonics) in 5 bands and the Eico 324 is 150KHz to 145MHz fundamental (111MHz to 435MHz in harmonics) in 6 bands. The Eico 324 has more fine control on the main tuning capacitor where a belt drive is used to require more than half rotation to tune through the whole band. At least one device is somewhat working!

August 16, 2015
Went to the Denver Radio Club Hamfest. There was a guy who was selling some computer components fairly cheap but I was too hesitant to buy more Socket 775 equipment...then again I would have snapped it up right away when my Core2Quad's board died. That board is still crap, I put a P4 Prescott in it...
Unfortunately I almost left empty handed. Until someone abandoned a whole pile of crap. And I mean crap, it looks like they were all nonfunctionals. At least they could be interesting projects to repair:
1. A noname possibly homemade audio frequency generator from the 60s, at least it was transistorized. Yeah I could probably make a DDS but this one's already designed and made. It seems to be able to go down to 11Hz and have a decade meter to go to 110KHz. However it doesn't seem to work. Looks like bad capacitors.
2. An HP True RMS voltmeter. A 70s build from HP. Alas it seems to have a power to ground leak and trips my GFCI. Need to investigate it further.
3. A Heathkit VTVM. Yes this looks like it may really be a vacuum tube volt ohm meter. Like the previous devices I assume it's dead.
4. An Eico 320 signal generator. This also looks like it may be dead. It probably would be worth fixing if I hadn't already bought my Eico 324. Now I'm mad, oh well. Now I have two RF generators, if I can fix this if it is indeed broken. At least now I know about how the 324 broke over time. This one likely may work but again no guarantees. It was marked "$10 untested" but if it was indeed broken I doubt it could be sold at all.
5. An unknown meter.Power supply, LM317T 1.2V-31V or 1A current limited (I think), Homemade. My initial guess was way off, but its internal construction was semi-obvious. I probably will part it if I can't figure out what it was for. Talk about confusing design, though this probably did what it needed to do and no more. Now I'm not sure if I will part it or repurpose it, as power supplies always get use now and then. However I may have to convert it to something more useful like a CV/CC like my own homemade bench PSU.

I ended up going to Microcenter afterwards and ended up getting my dead Microcenter 16GB MicroSDHC card swapped for a new one. Thanks MC! I ended up also splurging and getting my laptop another 8GB RAM and a bluetooth mouse for fun. However I find the BT mouse to be very cheap. I should have gotten the bigger heavier HP but I don't know if I really want one that large...

August 2, 2015
"Observe Everything" - Looks like the neighbors had another party of some sort. Unsure what it is though.

July 27, 2015

July 22, 2015
Well, for the heck of it I let the Win8.1 tablet boot as I'll probably end up installing Win10 on it which will be available next week. I do have to say this thing is done well, Good Job Microsoft and Intel for how it's done; then again this is starting to sway from being a real PC... though it still is. Runs regular x86 programs fine. And even runs World of Warcraft... though you still need a mouse to really play it.

July 5, 2015
Wow. I hate Android. After working with the ZF2 for a few days, I've been more and more annoyed with it. So many applications out there are secretly payware, and require way too many more permissions than they should. I was also initially pleasantly surprised with the battery life of the phone but suddenly it tanked. I think I could go just under a week if I left it mostly idle, but after getting wifi going (on my captive portal that cuts people off after a while) battery life tanked to two days tops. Disabling wifi got battery back to what it was. Not sure why I see this behavior, other than the fact that Android calls home to the mother ship too much. May have to "shark" the connection and see how many packets it truly sends "behind my back." Grr.

July 4, 2015
Happy Independence Day for USA!

June 23, 2015
I ordered and received my Asus Zenfone 2. Seems like a pretty good phone, very snappy, huge display. Alas it's Android. I'm not sure how I can replace my old Nokia N900 - which I still think is the best phone for me despite the hardware being almost an order of magnitude worse in every possible way...
Just because of the software... Maemo >>> Android ...

June 13, 2015
"Observe Everything" - Looks like the neighbors are having some sort of probably graduation party.

June 4, 2015
Crazy weather. A tornado came down near Berthoud, CO, which isn't all that far away. However the tornado that came down in Windsor in 2008 was closer to home...

May 30, 2015
I mowed all of my yard. The mower seemed a bit sluggish, seems to misfire. I wonder if I should get a new ignition system or not.
I tried the snow blower, looks like it does run indeed. Smokes a lot though, but it could be the oil that's in the machine...
It looks like all of the arborvitae seeds I started appear to have sprouted and started growing a root. They really grow slowly. I transplanted the ones that grew the largest into some potting soil. Unfortunately the peach seeds still look dead.

May 25, 2015
Happy Memorial Day, to remember the fallen.
I got an old snow blower, an MTD 3 HP 2 cycle single stage. It was reported to start but there's no way I can really test it.

May 21, 2015
An arborvitae seed sprouted! A small root came out of one of the seeds. The other seeds all appear to have cracked but no roots.

May 14, 2015
I started trying to grow the peach pits (from last year) and the arborvitae seeds (from more than two years ago). I stuck them on a wet paper towel and put them in a box.

May 4, 2015
I bought a new flywheel key over lunch and after work I put everything back together. I tried starting it... At first, BANG BANG BANG --- sounded like the timing was still broken, but at least it started. I thought there must have been something else broken, but after 10 seconds, the mower started humming as it had been in the past.
* Mission Accomplished *
I mowed a bit of my lawn but as the grass was still wet from rain I didn't do much, but it was definitely able to cut grass once more.

May 3, 2015
I took apart the mower and found my flywheel key was sheared, probably due to trying to mow rocks over the 15 years I've had this mower. Unfortunately removing the flywheel was a PITA. I tried prying the flywheel off while hammering the crankshaft but was only rewarded with bashed threads. I tried my air hammer to knock the crank down to no avail. I finally rented a three jaw gear puller from O'Reilly Auto through their free rental program, and it was able to pull the flywheel from the crankshaft effortlessly. The flywheel key is indeed in two pieces.

May 2, 2015
I tried cutting the grass today after unseizing the engine from last week. The mower started making violent snapping noises and stalled. I could not restart the mower - the mower pulled the recoil starter handle from my hand. Weird, suspecting timing problem?

April 18, 2015
I went to the Greeley Pick-n-Pull (i.e., junk yard) and grabbed a TCM for my ZJ... woah, and behold, the ZJ's tranny seems to be working once more, even when it's cool outside at 40F! The old TCM was useless when it was that cold. I bolted everything back together again, and hopefully this is the end of this long drawn-out project that started last year with the incorrect diagnosis of the governor pressure solenoid and sensor. That was major fail. Now I could start on the next pending big project: my WRX's timing belt... That will be a toughie - still not sure if I should get the dealer to do it or not. In any case, hopefully the ZJ will hold up for many more trouble free years of operation... and if the smog testers don't cheat me... It's a 20 year old Jeep, but not even 82K miles - the drive train is still young. Now I need to go get that recall taken care of, a trailer hitch to protect the fuel tank in rear end collisions.

April 15, 2015
Happy Tax Day... well, those of you who get refunds at least. I just cut another check to Uncle Sam. Three to be exact, to different parts of government... Coupled with the costs of car insurance this month... oooh I hate April.

April 12, 2015
I finally tried messing with one of the gas sensors. I hooked it up to 5V and was getting around 180mV after several hours of heating the sensor, measured with my Tek meter. The thing appears to be sensitive to moisture unfortunately, which makes it tough to tell if it's humidity or gas. Grr. Anyway, I then hooked it up to my breadboarded AVR 90S4433 that has ADC inputs. Now I need to write some code to get it to print the data on a web page. I have a light sensor, the gas sensor, and a temperature sensor hooked up, so a lot of ambient sensing going on with this. Next I need to have an outdoor temp sensor hooked up..

April 11, 2015
I bought an old 1965-ish AM/FM radio for the heck of it. It's an old Westinghouse TUBE radio, a 6-tube superheterodyne with silicon rectifier. Unfortunately I wish I had been able to open the thing but noticed too late that it had been dropped and the board was cracked. Alas it was repaired and it does work...mostly. It is still somewhat flaky due to the damage sustained from the drop. *sigh* It pulls in local stations allright but has trouble with some Denver stations; then again many of my FM radios have trouble with the Denver stations. I have to have the antenna pointed just right to receive them. Funny that my car radios have no trouble picking them up.

April 4, 2015
Went to the Longmont Area Radio Club hamfest. Was still looking for a 20000 or higher count digital nultimeter but no dice. Someone was trying to sell a TO3 heatsink for a quarter, which is normally worthless, but I ended up throwing a bone as there were banana plugs that I've been looking for attached to it. I also found someone selling some gas sensors - been looking for something that could sense CH4 and CO (namely, natural gas and carbon monoxide from heating system leaks) so I got a few of those too. Alas not that much. But did get a bunch of junk from the "star" of the LARC/BARCfests: the "junk pile" - finally got a copy of an ARRL handbook. Actually two, a really old one (wanted some vacuum tube references) and a 1995 one. The 1995 one actually still had some vacuum tube references in it, weird... Also got a CK512AX vacuum tube to play with.

April 1, 2015
I bought an iphone again.
Wow. I got one of my friends real good with this statement. He actually almost believed me that I bought one. Alas April Fool's!

March 15, 2015
Took apart Kei, the AthlonXP-2200/ECS K7S5A computer and stuck the m/b and CPU in the original box that I bought it in from Fry's over a decade ago.

March 7, 2015
Found a cheap USB optical drive (DVD±RW drive). Perfect for Mikuru.

February 8, 2015
Went to the ARA hamfest. When I went through the door, I saw a few APS 650 UPSes that someone was tossing. I passed on it thinking I could get it later as they are heavy... but they were gone after thinking that I wasn't going to get much there today. There was really just one thing I found that was potentially useful - a USB header floppy bay multi-card reader. Except that it seemed to be missing screws. Putting one in and the CF/SD cards look like they work fine, but the other key item is that it had a USB port in front, as well. For those cases that I don't have front USB ports. Luckily this thing supports multi LUN but does not like SDHC cards...
Come the end I was a bit disappointed till I found someone dumping stuff for a donation, I ended up getting a DVD±RW drive (like this is any use), a Netgear JFS524 24 port 10/100 switch (same...well, 100Mbit is still a LOT more than my DSL), and an IBM Model M keyboard with AT DIN-5. Holy crap this thing is heavy, yeah it's built like a tank.
I really need to start dumping some of these drives I have, starting to get CD-ROM drives (useless...) and CD-R drives (same)...and even DVD drives are pretty much garbage these days but they do make good boot media drives.

Was still a bit disappointed at the hamfest, and ended up moseying over to Microcenter and bought another 2TB HDD, a 64GB micro SD card, and a 300Mbit dual-band 802.11N USB adapter. I really do have a dearth of N devices, especially 5GHz, even today...

January 31, 2015
I was eyeing this HP30B calculator for the heck of it for a while and I ended up just getting it, it was only $5. Was curious as to why HP commanded so much of the business calculator market. I think I know why now - the compound interest amortization code is really simple to use on this calculator! Then again, heck no, this wasn't the only thing I was looking at. This thing also had RPN entry just like the original HP-12C that's apparently still made today due to its popularity.

January 21, 2015
The sick disk seems to work OK for the first section of the disk but is having trouble at the end of the disk (inside tracks?). Of course badblocks starts with the outside good tracks...

January 20, 2015
I noticed one of the 500GB hard drives in my primary array developed some bad sectors. The bad sectors were found during daily SMART tests but I never checked. However the periodic RAID scrubbing also caught this error. It kicked the disk from the array, and switched over to the hot spare. Needless to say the machine was very slow during the rebuild.
Currently running badblocks on the sick disk, it now reports several pending bad sectors that need to be remapped.

January 17, 2015
Went to the ncarc hamfest. Just got a bunch of spare parts. One thing I picked up that someone was tossing is a P4 board with a 3.0HT Socket 478 CPU on an Intel board. Well, this board is worthless, but it did have 3GB DDR-333 RAM (2x1G, 2x512M) on it... I swiped the 1G sticks as these are somewhat rare. Not sure what I'd do with the rest of the board, though it does have SATA ports that I can experiment or do emergency swapouts with it. It is a 865 board much like my MSI 3.4GHz HT P4, which at least can run 64-bit software unlike this CPU. Other than that, got a few large capacitors and some high current SCRs that I oddly never had many of. I got some TO-3 MOSFETs for the heck of it too, funny things... great for swapping the TO-3 transistors in the Heathkit that I wanted to see if I could make into a sine wave inverter...

January 15, 2015
Well I haven't written much about the tablet as I've started another webpage about it, but right now it, with hacks, is at least coming up in Gnome all of the time with hacked-to-work HPET. The touch screen is working, albeit poorly as it's nowhere as responsive as my Nokia N900.

January 1, 2015
Happy New Year!
Not sure when this will ever happen for me.

older 2014 entries