Covered Topics

Please see the list of the topics I've covered. It's located near the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping in!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

UNIX Commands in Everyday Life

Thought this was amusing:




This was taken from http://xkcd.com/

Saturday, July 19, 2014

More Shortwave Resources

Since my recent posting on shortwave listening resources online, some nice folks on Twitter directed me to more. These are as follows:



http://www.shortwaveschedule.com

http://www.reddit.com/r/shortwave

http://swling.com/blog/

http://makerf.com/

As always, please leave me feedback if you know of any more good ones or if any of these become broken. Enjoy!

Dietz Oil Lanterns

For many years I have loved oil lanterns and candles for mood lighting. I have a pair of inexpensive imported "hurricane lanterns" as well as assorted candles. The above-mentioned items double as preps for winter time power outage emergencies.

This past February, I did a post on the venerable Dietz oil lantern. In that post I linked to a YouTube video made by "Maine Prepper". You can find my post and the link to the video here http://inkarlslab.blogspot.com/2014/02/dietz-lanterns-economical-alternative.html. Since watching his video and writing that short blog post linking to it, I acquired my very own genuine Dietz #1 "Little Wizard" model oil lamp. Thanks to Maineprepper's very informative video, I immediately recognized this as a good find when I spotted it at a swap meet for $10.

After about 30 minutes work in cleaning off the soot and general purpose grunge, it appears as shown in the photo. I got a new wick in the camping section at Wal-Mart, as well as some low odor paraffin lamp oil I found in the housewares section. It's old, but as one can see in the following "action photo", it still has life in it :)

This type of oil lantern is FAR SAFER than a candle or the older style lanterns that were made of glass. If dropped, it won't immediately shatter and spill flammable liquid all over the place. Its broad base helps give it stability, preventing a pet or a child from easily tipping it over. And unlike a candle the flame is enclosed, helping prevent the flame from blowing out in a breeze and also prevents casual contact with papers, curtains and other flammable items. And provided one runs the intended oil lamp oil in it, rather than kerosene, odor is not generally an issue.

The warm, soft light these units provide makes for great mood lighting to relax by in the evening, as well as an EMP-proof light source. Dietz lanterns may still be bought new at the following places:

This place has an amazing selection of oil lamps and also carries replacement parts:
http://www.lanternnet.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=WKL&Category_Code=DL

I found parts for my "Little Wizard" at:
http://www.survivalunlimited.com/dietzlanterns.htm

A GREAT source for anything OLD tech:
https://www.lehmans.com/

Whether it be for nostalgia, mood lighting, homesteading or emergency prep, a Dietz lantern is a worthwhile addition to one's home.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Shortwave Listening Resources Online

Finding up-to-date information online regarding international shortwave broadcast frequencies and schedules can be challenging. Many sites I've checked have shut down; others have tons of broken links on their webpages and obviously aren't being maintained anymore. I have found a few sites that appear to be actually making an effort to keep their listings current.

These are as follows:

http://www.primetimeshortwave.com/

http://forums.radioreference.com/hf-mw-lw-general-discussion/128311-shortwave-listening-guide.html

http://www.k5kj.net/swl.htm

If any readers have good online resources for shortwave listening they'd like to share, please contact me or post a comment here and I'll get those posted as soon as I can.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

TenTec Model 1054 Shortwave Radio Kit - The Latest Update

A couple weeks ago I posted an update about the TenTec model 1054 regenerative shortwave radio kit I had built a while back. As regular readers will recall, this radio had issues with the regeneration control not working smoothly. And after a couple unsuccessful attempts at contacting TenTec's service department, I finally got an answer. One of the techs said he'd send me some replacement components to hopefully fix the problem. Here's what happened:

I installed the two new FET transistors and trimmer potentiometer the man sent. Upon testing the radio post repair, the problem was exactly the same - perhaps slightly worse. I calibrated the bands by setting the regeneration control to full oscillation and listening for that signal using a borrowed shortwave receiver. In doing this, I made another discovery:
The sensitivity of the TenTec 1054 was grossly inferior to that of the borrowed radio.
On the borrowed radio - using ONLY a 12 inch cliplead for an antenna, I could CLEARLY hear the WWV time signals on 15 MHz and 10 MHz. On the TenTec, using a 20 FOOT longwire antenna - no sign of WWV. I have always said that if you can't hear WWV on a shortwave radio, you won't hear much else, either. Indeed this was the case. The TenTec could pick up China Radio International, some strong Spanish-speaking stations and a couple strong religious broadcasting stations, but I could not pick up ANY ham traffic. Again - the borrowed rig could get a few ham stations even with a foot long cliplead as an "antenna".

Lest anyone think that maybe something got messed up during the repair, I want to emphasize that I had NEVER been able to hear WWV, or more than one or two ham stations, on the TenTec radio. Prior to having access to a decent quality receiver to check it with, I simply chalked it up to not being able to determine where the unit was actually tuned.

One final test - I took the TenTec to my friend's house. He has a 100' longwire antenna and a good ground system. ONLY by doing this was I able to hear WWV and a few hams. But the WWV was NOT strong as it should be - in fact it was rather faint.

I have built regenerative radios in the past and while they had relatively poor selectivity compared to commercially built superheterodyne receivers, sensitivity was NEVER an issue before.

In view of the sensitivity issue, I think I will NOT invest any more time, energy, or money in this project. The return is simply not there.

What I think I WILL do is when I have the funds, find an older "classic" shortwave radio, buy it, and restore it. For that matter this would NOT be a bad way to get good ham gear, too. The new stuff is entirely too expensive. And once you have restored a radio you would know intimately how it works and how to maintain it.

And as an added benefit - older vaccuum tube gear would tend to be fairly EMP proof.