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Thursday, January 27, 2011

worlds 'o' flooding. free admission. but you can never leave.

interesting article in the Fargo Forum online yesterday ( that said Winnipeg is burning up the wires trying to buy all the sandbags and Hesco barriers they can, production orders through and beyond flood season.

the eagles on the Fargo city commission, no slouches in this flood stuff, promptly directed advancing their orders.

if you live in Gutless Prarie, and you just found you have floods likely this Spring, son, you is outta luck.  they just got the flood forecasts in the twin cities today, and basically every river in Minnesota has a 50% 80% chance of flooding, with the Minnesota going for records again, and everybody else near them.

NostrilDrippus Predicts! (tm) several things:

1)  with all the precip on the east coast and down south in the fall and winter, we're not the only ones getting to work by backstroke up here on the high prarie.

2)  if your city wizards have in the past taken the attitude that, hell, we can beat it in a week, so we'll get supplies in mid-March... take them out back to the loading dock and have a little chat.  they've got cobwebs between the ears.

3)  a lot of folks are going to be on their own with no direction known this year.

alternatives to pretty packaged portadikes I have seen successfully used ::=

a) "Madison blocks," those concrete road barriers used to separate lanes.  heavy and broad based, two to four tons depending on height and length, I think.  get a chain on the payloaders, start haulin' them off trucks, put down a 12 mil plastic sheet, put the barriers on that, flip the plastic over the barriers, and keep them in place during wind and foolishness with shovelfuls or buckets of sand.

b) plastic spooled out, clay/dirt/sand/mothers-in-law piled on the dry side, the plastic folded back over the new hill and held in place with a little more material also works.

c)  wood barriers with bracing behind, again, plastic sheeting under, across, and over the top.

d)  run like Hell and don't look back.

when push gets to shove, of course, you can't get any of this.  measure twice and purchase once, there are others who will need to protect their homes and livelihoods.

if you happen to be out standing in your field (chuckle) and there is a low side to worry about, use the blade to push up your own dike.  don't forget to pretest your pumps and generators, and lay in the commonest spare parts.  make sure your overhead gas tank is full and clean.  modern generators have a little spin-timer that shuts the bugger off at about 100 hours for oil changes.  find it, know how to reset it.  lay in the oil, filters, and don't let the machine get to that point in the first place.

Onans and other units using ring-float carbs like Tecumseh engines have a tendecy for the ring float to hang up if the generator engine is tipped sideways.  get carb cleaner, make sure you have a disassembly diagram, and if you've never opened one up, try it before you rely on it.  seriously.  Newport got into issues from the fire department generators not starting for this reason some 16 years ago when I was jobless and had time to sandbag with them.  it's an easy fix.  if you know about it.  you could also pour a gob of carb cleaner down the barrel, hold in the bowl drain, and sharply rap the carb near the bottom plate if you can't find the sharp end of a screwdriver.  less chance of losing parts at 2 am in the mud.

we have conquered the dishwasher. all hail!

it's been wacky for a while.  finally got wacky enough that I found time tonight to get after it.

two year old Kitchen Aid aka Whirlpool.  the wash arm was not directing water, just flying about whacking into stuff on the bottom.  of course, no water getting to the upper rack.

had earlier discovered that the arm unscrews from the pivot post.  but was not able to get it screwed back on.

looked it over seriously for about 10 minutes tonight, and started pulling on the bottom wash arm housing.  sure enough, it pivoted and unscrewed from a sixth-turn locking ring on the filter.  lifted the housing and pivot up for a good long stare.  took the wash arm, and screwed it on tight to the center.  the gasket/bearing of nylon looked good.  took off the arm, snapped everything back in with a sixth of a turn and a push on the pipe to the upper rack to reseat it in a clip.

can't screw the muffin' arm back on the muffin' axle.  can't.  can't.  held the reference bar on the muffin' axle with a pump pliers, lifted, and tried again.  can't.

the system was therefore well-managed in a private meeting with its options presented to it verbally.

excellent interpersonal management skills and firm direction prevailed, and it screwed on tightly.

in the opposite direction of which I had been turning.

turned it by hand, and CLANK.  looked around, and part of the hold-down clip for the bottom heater element was sticking up.  it had been unscrewing the arm as it turned.

so it should be nicely fixed again.  the massive wobble is gone.  the CLANK is gone.  it's on tight.

no parts bought.

this weekend, I will try the same sterling management skills on the CX7/A.  if I don't have OT on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

shovelfuls of fluff

little piles, all over, becoming at this moment one big pile of fluff.

the cx7 arc 'n' spark event... we took out the current-limiting transistor with a bang.  replaced it, and put all the +34 supply transistors into sockets while I had the board out.  now we're back to 47 volts raw, but only 10.7 volts regulated, whether or not the foldback transistor is in socket.  can't find the fix.  stinkers.  I'm sore tempted to change the power supply (double-Darlington ending up in a pass transistor) from a resistive divider to a Zener diode regulated reference voltage.  this is why the cx7 got its reputation as a garage queen of a radio, and that power supply board has always been a world-class pain in the ass.

I'm starting to think I need to bid me a HW101 to get excited, get tested back into the amateur radio service, and get wasting electrons.  Heathkits always fix easily for me, and they stay fixed.

crummy weather is escalating into 24+ hours of severe wind chill alert thanks to the weather service.  20 to 35 below with blowing and drifting snow is the start on Tuesday morning.  pffffftt.

went to Fargo (correction, West Fargo now) for delayed holidays with my sister... we picked up blinds and valances for her new apartment.  the valances are on order, so all we could do there was hang their rod.  blinds look good.

we did swing by the old homestead to check it out.  the new owners were comfortably settled in, both cars home.  from the alley, there are two snowmen in the very snowy back yard... one large one, one little one, near the red maple.  their boys have got to be having fun there.  selling it, and to that family, was the Lord's work in a crummy housing environment.

Friday, January 14, 2011

most exciting weather... not

slow going yet one more "rush hour" home, but this time the bus was delayed for only 20 minutes.  it has been as bad as several hours.

kind of like an old-fashioned winter this year... used to be when I was a kid, it snowed an inch or two every two or three days.  we've got it back again.  and most people can't seem to deal with it.  a snowplow whacked a power pole in Chanhassen tonight, for instance, and 6200 people are out in a swath across 25 miles of the greater metro Twin Cities area.


hope to get back to the cx7 monday, I have a couple days of errands to run.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

meet the new year, same as the old year

finally got somewhere on the CX7A power supply.  pulled an arc.  was not supposed to have been pulling an arc, however ;)  there are a lot of step-downs from a central 34 volt master supply for the semiconductor stuff in that hybrid ham transceiver, and at least one of them is shorted.  in chasing down the cause, I determined the 34 volt master works.

or at least did until I whacked the supply to a short.  back to it in a few days.  it's nasty getting to the pass transistors in the machine, and that's where I pulled a temporary short.  bad design put the transistors below a bunch of connection jacks, daring you to try and work on the thing.

the supply is supposed to go 0 volts with no current via a foldback loop in case of overcurrent, so the master should be OK.  if it's not, I go to a 6-part regulator using a packaged 3-terminal regulator chip, and move forward.  because the 34 volt master is fed from something approaching 50 volts DC, I'm using the high-voltage input version of the regulator.

signal/one had a history of issues with that power supply board, and I'm hoping the usual modifications using 3-terminal regulators for the 3 critical semiconductor feeds settles that bookful of problems.  if so, it's pull the output tube, and start sneaking up the other supplies.  for instance, it's quite helpful to get the screen supply working first, because that lights the Nixie tubes that display frequency.  but light up the screen grid in a power transmitting tube without the plate supply of 1600 volts on, and you end up with a flash-bang exercise in making what is now a $540 power tetrode into a $0 gassy triode that just gets hot and does nothing remotely useful.

have written about this in other venues... but the machine was bought off eBay perhaps 8 years ago because it was top of the line and scarce when it came out in 1969... and at $2395 list, way, way out of reach for a new Novice ham in his senior year of high school.  monkeys had apparently tried to fix it, losing all the undercover shields.  the PS had a bunch of roasted parts, the plate compartment had some issues, appeared to have a grid-cathode short in the output tube, blew the top off one of the 20-watt power transistors driving the tube, burned up circuit board for the display and counter section... and then monkeys tried to fix it.

it's much better now.  or should be.

just have to get power on it and see if the sparks and magic smoke stay inside the parts.