If there is one thing all our friends have in common, it’s the notion of being extremely competent in many different parts of life.  While some people piss-away their time on (useless) social media and what one financial analyst refers to as “z-val” (zero value) activities, people we find interesting are those who are really good at a huge number of things.

I have always been a “knowledge collector” but with the Light Crown project that trait has really come out.  Better content on the web sites, I think, fewer spelling errors and even a congruent thought (or two) has been known to occur.

Along with that, when the air conditioning goes on in the summer, the “inside work” for the year gets underway.  Part of that work is “brain-feeding” for projects coming up when the weather cools down.  (This cycle is reversed in the  Dakotas and northern Scandahoovian parts of the country.)

Right now, I’m working more on “brain feeding” becausewhen I use my Light Crown three or four days running, my appetite for knowledge just goes through the roof.  I not only begin to inhale a book or two per day, but the associations firing off in all directions lead to useful new discoveries.

Take Wednesday while waiting for the Fed decision:  I finished up the circuit boards for a light crown for my life-long buddy (the major, Rtd.) after I got his critical measurement.  Like me, distance from his third chakra to the soft part of the temple (trigeminal nerve bundle) is about 4-1/2 inches.

Back to point:  Since I’m back on daily use of the LC, the brain just can’t get enough inputs.  There I was. inhaling a new book.  Miller Welding has a dandy (and free!) book on Amazon KindleIntroduction to Welding: Welding Process Training Series.”

As the owner of both a plasma cutter and a modest MIG welder (and a gas rig), I really enjoy welding almost as much as framing a house (or a room).  There’s something almost magical about taking what an alchemist would call “undifferentiated matter” and commanding  it into something immediately useful.

People who haven’t/don’t work with their hands will have no understanding of this “magic of physicality” – their loss.  The highest realizations of self come from a blend of heart, head, and hands.

What’s interesting is how the light crown seems to amp up my connecting dots.

The very first page of the Miller book explains there are three basic ways to connect metal:  Mechanical fasteners (clips, screws, bolts), adhesives, and what they do so well….welding.  Which is where brazing, soldering and what-not all live under the same “molten metals” in the mental recipe filing system.

Normally, reading something so basic would just be noted (it’s a nice to fit with my recipe collecting to learn any and everything).  But, since we were on metal, that fired some underused neuron.  Off I flew, looking into the whole topic of what’s new in conductive metal adhesives.


I warned you, brain’s catch fire using the L.C. didn’t I?

Since there is so much “radio infrastructure” here ( 5 satellite dishes, 3 HF antennas, two of which are on the tower, and a VHF colinear) it just seemed to me I needed to know if there was anything new on the market that was BOTH adhesive and conductive..

Not much new to report, although there is plenty of LOVIMAG Copper Foil Tape (1inch X 66 FT) with Conductive Adhesive for Guitar & EMI Shielding, Slug Repellent, Crafts, Electrical Repairs, Grounding.  $12 bucks a roll, or so.

Sadly, search engines – when you tell them you want a conductive adhesive – seem to think what you’re really after is thermal conduction, not electrical.  Endless supplies of thermal goo.

And then I found it!  “Silver Adhesive Electrically Conductive Epoxy Bonding HEAT CURE 1 Part AA-DUCT 2979, 2.5gm Syringe.”

Listen to the specs on this stuff (borrowed from the Amazon write-up):

AA-DUCT 2979 is a fast curing one part epoxy adhesive with superior electrical conductivity and bonding capability. AA-DUCT 2979 has been shown to retain their properties through hundreds of hours of rapid temperature cycling and has also high impact absorption and stress resistance. GENERAL PROPERTIES: Appearance Silver Cure Type Heat cure Benefits High strength Excellent mechanical, electrical properties Substrates Excellent choice aluminum, copper, magnesium, steel, bronze, nickel, ceramic, glass, phenolic and G-10 epoxy glass boards. Operating Temperature Up to 300 °C UNCURED PROPERTIES Viscosity At 25 °C cps 350,000 Shelf Life 4 months At 25 °C 6 months refrigerated CURE SCHEDULE: 15 minutes At 150 °C 1 hour At 125 °C MISC PROPERTIES: Hardness, Shore D 84 Volume Resistivity ohm-cm 3 x 10-4 GENERAL INFORMATION: For safe handling information on this product, consult the Material Safety Data Sheet, (MSDS). AVAILABILITY: This epoxy can be supplied in various different packages. Call (888) 522-6742 for more information.

Damn!  Here in Texas in the summertime,  a fellow could put this stuff out in the sun for a day (not too thick, I suppose) and next day, there’s be a conducting adhesive joint made.  Or, just get out the heat gun (Elaine doesn’t have a hair dryer, or I wouldn’t have bought the heat gun…)

OK – no idea what the hell I’d use it on – but that’s the joy of “brain-feeding.”

You love to be able to build anything you look at.  That’s magic.  Come up with an idea and build something amazing and – in the process – use the remarkable power of your brain to design and improve on what the rest of humans before us have done.  Only better.

Another example?

I have as one of my “soft projects” (one I haven’t ordered material for, yet) building E. an electric hose winder.  That way, when she goes out to feed and water the birds, deer, and cats (the stray in the culvert and Mr. territorial no-nutz) she would be able to press a button to tidy-up instead of having to wind things up by hand.  (Most people just leave a hose laying around, but she’s a neat-nick.  Makes up for Mr. Messpot.)

I went looking for a solution on Amazon BUT when I read the write-ups, all of the electric, 100′ plus capacity electric hose winders had one star ratings from between 15 and 25 percent of purchasers.

I figured out long ago (on either Peoplenomics or here, I forget which) that if you are going to spend your money, don’t piss it away on something where the five-star plus four-star ratings don’t add up to at least 80 percent.  The corollary to his is nothing with a one-star rating over 8-10 percent.  Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.

The only hose winders that looked worth a damn were the (USA-made) Cox Reels winders. While the entry electric was touted as in the $300+ range, that wasn’t so off-putting as not being able to find anything under $600 when I got on the order page.

“Does this have anything to do with the free for Kindle Miller Welding book?”

Why, certainly!

You see, once you have a plasma torch and know where the local machine shop is, and are willing to visit their scrap pile, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of pullies, maybe a small electric motor, a couple of pillow-block bearings, and some welding time to come up with a workable hose-winding machine.

Picture buying a large ratchet wrench, cutting it down, or using that as the rewinding mechanism.  Clicks going out,  doesn’t coming in.  Or, suppose we find a couple of old 10-speed bikes – the kind that cli as you ride while not pedaling, not a Schwinn “tank/cruiser) type.  Sprocket on the motor, some 1/4” rebar….

Of course, that project won’t come up on the “do it” list until winter – but who knows, maybe by then a decently reviewed product will be on the market in the under $200 range and that could save me a lot of trouble.

Between now and then?  Feeing the brain, looking for new and exciting products to incorporate in upcoming “do now” events seems like better than being outside when it’s 95.

The “First Ham Radio” Question

A reader asked the other day, what’s a good first ham radio?

On the VHF/UHF side, where your first license will be (called a technician class ticket), a simple BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio (Black) will set you back less than $35 – at least for now.  No telling what trade and tariffs will do in the future.

Once you actually get the “grown up” license (general class or higher) ham ticket, there are three things you will need:

  • Antenna
  • Power Supply
  • And Transceiver

Let’s take them one-at-a-time.

Antenna:  Simple  and effective is an off-center fed dipole (OCF) antenna.  I am using a Maxcon which gets perfect reviews on eHam and you can order one here:.http://www.maxconus.com/   Get BOTH the OCF-3K80 Multi-Band Dipole  $79.95 AND the Maxcon Line Isolator and Inline Choke. 3KW Rating  $39.95.  The antenna does the work and the line Isolator keeps radio energy off the feedline.

Power supplies:  I got a simple TekPower Analog Display TP30SWI 30 Amp DC 13.8V Switching Power Supply with Noise Offset and it works fine.

The Radio:  Oh, boy…this is where the opinions get pretty thick.  There is no one single best way to go about radio selection.  In my view, the first ham radio should be a simple unit, perhaps with an internal antenna turner, and that way, when you want to spend more on the hobby, you have a radio that could be adapted to mobile use.

You should plan on spending about $400 for a good used radio.  There are three major manufacturers:  Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu.  Yes, all Japanese.  Go over to eHam.net and read the reviews here.

The radios I would look for (anything over a 4.3 or so will give decent service as a first radio) would be an Icom 735, a Kenwood TS-430 or TS-440SAT (the AT means antenna tuner), and a Yaesu 757 GX-II.  Make sure when you shop that it is not a “fixer upper” and that it comes with a mic and power cord.

Brand new starter radio?  Icom 718.  Try MainStreetTrading here in Texas or the nearest Ham Radio Outlet store.

You may want to add an antenna tuner…LDG owns that space, pretty much. For $165, or thereabouts consider a LDG Electronics Z-100PLUS Automatic Antenna Tuner 1.8-54 MHz, 0.1-125 Watts, 2 Year Warranty.  But, it’s more important (to get hands on skill) to get a used antenna analyzer and an SWR meter so you can learn the fine art of antenna tuning.  I never used an antenna tuner in the car when Elaine and I were “commuting” between the ranch in E. Texas and Burbank a couple of times a year.  Using an old Atlas 210 I was able to talk all over the world including a half dozen countries in Europe and lost count of the South Americans while rolling 70 on the 20 or 10

When you get filthy rich because of all you’ve learned at UrbanSurvival and Peoplenomics over the years, buy a ($13,000 class) Icom 7851.  And to show your appreciation, buy two and send me on…it’s always good form to “tip the house” lol…

Elaine has this view that such extravagances are absurd:  “It’s just a radio” which I put in the same league as looking at a Lambo Diablo and saying “It’s just a car...”  But, viva la difference!

Write when you get rich,


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