Maids…cleaning versus breaking

So…first world problems, right?

Still, you pay maids to clean your house, not to break stuff…regardless of how clean the broken thing might be, yes?

So I come home to this…



Yes…so it has.

Mind you, this device endures the wrath of two tired adults and an enthusiastic 9 year old on a daily basis.  It only ‘falls’ when the maids are here.

The shower doors also magically fall off their rails, 2 out of 3 bathroom matts get rearranged so that the doors cannot be closed (a trait I am fond of in a bathroom door), the outdoor light switches which run the motion-sensing lights ALWAYS gets turned off, and the entire laundry room is placed into a clothes blender and spun up to 12,000rpm.

Fortunately, the bathroom mirror is spotless.



Hobbies…and…why we have them.

We all have hobbies.

But I have discovered something interesting about how we perceive our hobbies, and possibly, why we have them.

I know a lot of people who have hobbies they participate in…but do not like. Or at least, they do not explain their hobbies in a manner that would make any other sane being not already into the hobby want to take them up.

I suppose it is possible this is only an issue with the PERSON and not a judgement on the hobby in general. It makes sense to me that, somewhere on this planet, there is a person who plays golf, isn’t good at it, and doesn’t care. I have not been able to find this person.

And that is why I think maybe it isn’t the hobby so much, as much as our EXPECTATION of what the hobby can bring us. Let me back up…

Golf…to me…is a 4+ hour waste of time and minor physical effort. I could be at home fixing something, physically exerting myself at a level that will benefit my physical well-being, or…quite frankly…sleeping late. Any of these would be preferable to a game where virtually no one is happy the entire day.

But I can see, in a very detached way, that someone would be able to say “I need get nothing done today. It is sunny and I will wander about the course. And of course, there is beer here.” Yes yes, says I, why not swat a tiny ball a few thousand yards?

So what’s the problem?

The problem with hobbies is…we turn them into work. This is the menace living in our frontal lobe. We’re driven to be ‘better’ at what we perceive ourselves to be good at. It’s simple competition…or possibly pride. But in the end, the thing we started to do to relax becomes stressfull.

For me personally, I have had this happen to several of my hobbies. I took up Blacksmithing, offered up my services, and at one point had a gentleman in New Hampshire order 88 custom drawer pulls for his custom home. Each of these took 4 heats (about 10 minutes) to complete, minus the drilling and tapping and cutting through-bolts to fit. By the time I was done I hated this job.

Or did I?

I can make that drawer pull…today…in, oh, maybe 5 minutes each. So the effort WAS worth it. But the LESSON was more important.

Don’t let your hobby become your job.

Embrace it, but don’t obsess about it. Live for it, but not to the point failure in it crushes your soul. And probably more than any other thing, be an ambassador for the hobby. Be the peron you wish someone else had been when you stood there trying to figure it out.

Oh, and if you think you have nothing else to give? If you’re feeling like you’ve “got this covered”, it’s time to add another hobby.


Progress on the Grounded-Grid amplifier

OK, got the mower fixed tonight, going on it’s 19th year!  All it needed was the throttle cable adjusted to go back to full RPM.  I also changed the oil and cleaned the plug a bit.

Wait…what was I posting about?  Oh yeah…the grounded-grid amp project!

I got a KG-600 emission tube tester off ebay and tested all my tubes, all are good and I selected a matched set of 4 (output percent wise) for the amp.  My 5993 tubes I got from my recent antenna score are all also good!  Tube testers are neato and I took it apart and looked over the schematic (of course!) just to see how it worked.

So on the amp, here’s the PC chassis after most of the drilling was done for components.


I am going to have about 1200-1300VDC in this chassis, and I do not trust rivets for electrical connections…what to do?  Well, I *DO* have a MIG welder, sooooo…


Let’s add some parts…first let’s fix this ugly hole in the front…


This looks much better once we have the cover plate and the band-pass selector on the left and hole for the air-variable cap adjustment on the right for adjusting the tank circuit for the output to match the feedline.


Next let’s fill the big hole in the back where all the PC connections from the motherboard normally go…


Ahh yes, much better…course it will need SO connectors in it for the RF in and out…


So I took the old HDD tray and repurposed it as the shelf for the 837’s to sit on…


Something about that really amuses me.  Next we mount it in the peripheral window and you can see the fan mount behind it.


Here’s a pic with just the front two 837’s in their sockets.


I’m reusing the rear bracket from the power supply (those things have a lot of useful toroids in them!) but none of the guts of the PS.


The other walls of the PS were re-purposed for fan adapter plates…


And finally here is a pic of the whole mock-up from the side.


You can see the 24VDC supply for the tube heaters and the 2 fans on the back center left, the bypass/feed relay just above it and right, to the right of that the round thing is the input side RF choke, to the right of that the fan bracket, below that the air-variable capacitor, next to it on the front is the band switch (I will mount the tank circuit coil off the bottom of the peripheral bay this side of the air-cap), on the case bottom from right to left we have the low/high power relay, the voltage doubler circuit (not properly mounted yet), the transformer, this side of the transformer we have the 12VDC/24VDC relay for TX/RX control of the amp from the radio, and hiding center below the air-cap is the output side RF choke.  I’ll add a shelf to direct airflow thru the unblocked PCI card slots across the transformer before allowing it up and out through the top rear where an exhaust fan will be located.

Hey who wants to design a 10m moxon?

This guy…that’s who!

I decided the 1/4″ diameter fiberglass rods I got to make spreaders for my 20m moxon aren’t big enough, so what to do with them?  Make a smaller moxon says I.

First, the basic design.  This part is easy, just open up moxgen which is a windows exe, but opens fine in linux once you change its properties to allow running as an exe.  Here we tell it the frequency to center the antenna bandwidth at, I picked 28.25, the digital bottom end of the 10m band.  Enter a wire size, I chose 18AWG, press calculate and we get…


Now because I will be using wire with a coating on it, I decrease all dimensions by 4%.  This is because electricity actually travels slower in a wire with insulation.  And it is this reduced speed we must use to calculate the wavelength.  And the wavelength determines the size of the antenna.  Hey look, moxgen will export to a NEC file…so we can actually model the behavior we expect out of the antenna.  Oh why not?

4NEC2 is an older windows based program, but again it runs fine if installed under wine (no not that kind ladies!) the windows emulator program in linux.  Here’s what we get when we open the file from moxgen…


Oooo…snazzy.  Move it up to say, 50 feet, and let’s check the radiation patterns.



Well the upper lobe is interesting, and maybe good for NVIS, the center lobe is probably good for sporadic E-layer comms when 10m goes dead in the summer and can’t make it out of the States for me, but the lower lobe is just plain awesomesauce.  Perfectly centered on 10 degrees elevation, this is great for DX (distance) contacts.  Also, note the gain at 11.5dBi.  This is 11.5dB over an isotropic radiator (which radiates energy in every direction), or about 9.4dB over a dipole.  So vs my G5RV, which does OK on 10m, this antenna will radiate (in the selected direction) at over 8 times the power of the G5RV for the same amount of power to the antenna.  Think holding a candle for the isotropic, holding a lantern for the dipole, and holding a flashlight for the moxon.



And here we see the other reason I love these antennas, the front to back ratio is incredible.  That means the antenna is absorbing only the signals you point it at (or sending out energy only where you are pointing it), and ignoring what’s behind you (or not transmitting behind you).  This has the effect of making it easier to hear quieter signals and also means you are annoying only the folks you are trying to annoy.

So there ya go.  Antenna design…and you thought this stuff was hard.

FYI/update…got the antenna built (actually 2 of them) and it worked great.  Gave the ‘extra’ to my friend who recently got his Tech license!

Projects stimp is working on