ShopTalk Sunday: Electronics Workbench

All three tube-type oscilloscopes are gone.  So’s a signal tracer, two full-sized vacuum tube voltmeters (VTVM’s). And an early Heathkit Signal generator. Poof.  In a cloud of fury powered by Mrs. Olson. Headed to eBaying in future weeks. (Email me if interested.)

I’ve decided that for the balance of my seventies, I’m going to focus on perfecting my “Electronic Detective” skills. Plan to finish my workbook for hams – on competencies and skills in tube-based troubleshooting.

To do this, I’ve needed to come to terms with too many radios, not enough operating time, too small antennas, and many other “boundary issues” that turn life challenging.  So much like choosing the perfect plate at the buffet joint – the task is that daunting.

What Went, What Stayed

The “went” part, well, that’s a story by itself.  You see, I am a tool slut.  Somehow, it got into my head that work was always easier with the “right” tool.  Not close enough, but the ONE, PRECISE, EXACT  R I G H T  tool.  Nothing else would do.

Next to the work area is a small tool drawer.

small tool drawer
The small tools are in a converted Harbor Freight jewelry box picked up on sale 10 years back

Of course, I can never find the exact tool in this drawer, no matter how many times I place one there.

In which case, there’s a drawer of hand tools in my office roll-around:

Medium tools in roll around
This five drawer cart was $99 on sale back when Today <a href=httpsamznto44u9Uzb>a similar unit<a> is twice the price in a bit under 10 years We have told you consistently over the years Buy Tools while they are cheap Buy Buy

And if even THIS doesn’t yield the EXACT, PRECISE tool, then I’m into the two electronics tool kits: Left is for cable, right is general work (with meters under the pop-up pallet:

Grab and go tool kits
Grab and go tool kits shown on a break

These are the “after pruning” collections.

The real breakthrough was installing small trays (drawer organizers) under the shelving.  Notice, please, that a “drawer” may be considered in Maker Land to be a Box plus a Handle.  And some glue:

There are four such pull-outs now.  They are separated logically (to me):  Screwdrivers are in the TWISTIES (rt. above) while pliers are in the SQUEEZIES (left above).

Other drawers include SHARPS for the box cutters, wire strippers, razors, and anything else that could really hurt you.  The fourth drawer is PICKS.  Which includes dental and soldering picks, along with the alignment tools.  As with the hand tools, there’s a whole drawer full of backups.  Even spare Bristol wrench kits – those odd set screws used by Hallicrafters on early equipment.  A fine example of the “exact right tool” concept.

As a side note – especially if you are under 40 – watch to see how the modern analog (which we’d guess will be Torx heads) is playing out in the Market’s world.  Companies like Hallicrafters put on Bristol set screws because only professional radiomen (back in the day) knew about this secret sauce.

Today, you can’t work on a 2-cycle engine without Torx, at least the 20 and 25’s. And when you get messing to round at Inventor’s Alley, you almost need a set of ball-end Allen Wrenches for each CNC or 3D machine.

Next thing you know, manufacturers will move back to other bad ideas – like use of reverse threads with no rational, other than hoarding repair revenue – motivation.

The Electronics Basic Tool List

So much for hand tools. The specific electronics repair goodies are a lot more fun.  Or, they used to be.  Until the Logitech MK270 with the dongle out of a fresh box told me neither the Mouse or Keyboard were supported devices. I put too much time into sorting that one out.  Several hours’ worth of time.  Tracing out the driver versions, and blah, blah, blah…

Even then, the Amazon Basics wireless keyboard worked fine, but the mouse did not.  So a two-day delay of game getting that rolling.

With the computer finally breathing on its own, it was time to make an oscilloscope!

The reason for the computer-based scope is that it’s big enough that I can see things at a glance.  Eye issues are a big deal with me, but so too is Making shit.

The answer was to get new-generation in-circuit testing gear, along with a high-visibility multi-meter.  And as a backup (the Owon DMM does capacitance already), both a DER and a Proster LCR (*inductance, capacitance, resistance) meters.

But there was one OTHER checklist – optics.  The computer, when not in the overgrown scope mode, provides for a handy USB port on the desktop. Which supports various handheld inspection optics and even boresights and such. You can read PDFs of schematics – no paper!

Almost looks inviting when it’s all plugged in and in use:

An inviting simple electronics bench
Computer in scope display 7 inch magnifier spot the problem with D4 on the magnifier screen DDS small waveform power supply soldering station and DMM atop that

The big desoldering machine sits overhead on the frequency standard overhead. The soldering station does both SMT/SMD (left side) along with pencil soldering (right).

Where the spare part bottles sit left above, is where the contact cleaner and lubes went shortly after thinking that through. Along with Q-Tips and solvents plus some always useful glue.

Speaking of which, a hot glue gun is also really useful for a lot of electronic projects.  But mine lives out on the charging bench.  Early in the morning, if you enter the shop quietly, you can hear the lithium’s chattering among themselves. They tell me things. Big, important things.

There’s a small (2.8″ screen) housing coming for the vector network analyzer.  Either pop $70 on Amazon for an itsy-bitsy that fits in your shirt pocket or pay $500 to $1500 for a used large format machine on eBay.  I opted to roll with the times.

Would it be nice to have a tracking generator?  Maybe.  Or a full-up bench LCR meter?  Well, of course, silly!

But in the meanwhile, if the DER, Proster and this little under $20 gem can’t get me in the ballpark of a defective component, then I’m too old to solder. On the other hand, it would be common courtesy to put backlighting in all these meters, but cant have it all, I guess.

The left side of the bench is a 2-foot by 4-foot worktable with pad on it.  To ensure plenty of room for equipment teardown. Goose arm lamp overhead there for old man eyes.

This Week’s Workplan

I might visit the Dollar store this week. Once I made those “drawer pulls” on the 3D printers, it occurred to me that I could buy a dozen, or so, plastic dish pans of convenient size and make some very nice-looking storage units for the shop. Still too hot for outside construction projects.  The shop’s only bearable after lunch sitting in front of the a/c unit at the Hobby Shop workbench.

The electronics bench, in the almost too cold office, is a lot more inviting.  It’s where I’ll be hooking up an SDR since every electronics bench “needs” a good general coverage radio receiver. I’d previously set low-loss coax (LMR240) from the antenna switching area up to the workbench.

I can’t really think of too much else, other than sort out parts.  But that gets me to the last point I wanted to mention to you:

Prime Time Tool List

There are deals galore coming Tuesday when Amazon Prime Day shows up.

I’ve picked up most of the small parts in the shop (the curse of parts!) helped by collections of kitchen see-through (kind of) containers like this set.

Curse of Modern Makers:  200-years ago, a man was rich if he had a saw, hammer, a few (recycled) nails and enough time to use them.  Today, just for my electronics hobby, there are thousands of electronic components ranging from half the size of a grain of rice to 75-pound “heavy iron” high voltage transformers…  And that’s ONE hobby.  Oddly, time to enjoy our heart-driven work is just as precious as ever.  Perhaps Progress is an illusionWhew.

Anything you need for your shop, this week is “prime time” to be fishing for it. I literally don’t need anything.  But wants are unlimited, unlike time itself, which is getting more valuable by the moment.

Power Tool Deals Here.

Wait…do I need a centrifuge?  (My Amazon reviews are over here.)

Off to coffee on 3806 (lower sideband) on the 75-meter ham band.  See what’s going on around the compass from us.  Always something interesting to kick around on the 75-meter ham bands after dark and to an hour, or so after dawn on weekends.

Last week’s ShopTalk column is here, if you missed it.  It was a holiday, after all. I can’t remember how many of them holidays I’ve misplaced over the years.

Write when you get rich (and send in “missing tool” ideas! What does the bench need?)   ac7x

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

54 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Electronics Workbench”

  1. I’ve been cleaning out the attic, garage and closets for months. I’ve taken a half-dozen clear lawn-leaf bags of clothes to Good Will. To the landfill, I’ve sent something like 23 lawn-leaf bags of things I don’t need, like decades old receipts & identity records (shredded), magazines, cardboard of all sorts, 30 year old project leftovers, etc.
    I’m more of a pack-rat than a hoarder or collector.
    Cleaning out the old paperwork posed a challenge. I devised a strategy for deciding what stays and what goes. Tax returns I found stay, regardless of age. Copies of contracts and civil court records stay. Pension-related items stay. For the mass of financial and utility receipts older than maybe 10-12 years, I retain an end of year copy for a given year, and toss the rest. Receipts for big ticket items stay. Being able to prove who and where you were has become an issue. The new strategy for aggression and retaliation by the thieving wingnuts is to try and contest your residence and ownership of property. Next they will go after citizenship of native-born Americans. Ure neighbors are just as likely to throw you under the bus than speak on your behalf. Fear and a chance to steal depressed property become motivations when push comes to shove. If you don’t think ethnic hate cleansing happens in this country, you haven’t experienced what I have.
    Nonetheless, I have reduced the paper product and styrofoam packing volume by about 10 to 1.
    Tools, especially non-electrics, stay.
    One of my work benches reappeared from under the pile. I am designating it the bicycle bench. Still got more to go.
    I considered trying to sell some of the cast-offs on Craigslist, Ebay or Poshmark, but if I don’t want something, chances are that no one else will. My next round of elimination will be to prioritize what I might actually have a future use for, and clean out the stuff which will never see any use. That will be more painful.

    • Ny moderate experience is that there is a buyer for most anything on Ebay; one man’s junk is another’s treasure.

      • Cardboard, packing styrofoam and rag-quality clothes are not saleable. One man’s trash is everyone’s garbage. There might be some items that I would attempt to sell, but that would be in phase 2.`One you subtract out tools, and things I use routinely, much of what is left has prep value.

  2. Being a tool slut is not a bad thing, it should be considered high honor. Each one of those little beauties in your SM Tools drawer has a story.
    The 16th & 32nd tick marks on tape measures and rules have become nearly invisible so my search for new Hi Vis ones has the tape measure drawer overflowing.

    Stay safe. 73

  3. Tool acquisition is a happy sickness, George. And its generational. My son and I have learned to check my dad-in-law’s garage before we head off to the likes of Harbor Fright or Lowe’s and sometimes it saves us a trip. But the estate sales still beckon and one sucked me in yesterday and dangled a lightly used 8′ aluminum ladder in my face for 75 bucks so I bit. $143 new at Lowe’s so you see the predicament. There’s flashing on the back roof line that was ripped off in one of the last storms we had while we were gone. It may reach it but it may not so, if not, I’ll just have to hang over the edge of the roof (it’s a flat roof) to replace it but it’s nice to have a ladder in between the 6 footers and the Stratosphere extension now. Love those 1995 prices, though.

    • sadly…once you pass on to the next plain…people that are not tool sluts won’t have a clue what some of them are for.. and they get dumped or go to auction.. I have tools here that I know no one would have a foggie idea what they are used for.. I use to go into a local hardware store.. the kid there didn’t have a clue on anything.. so I made it my mission to walk in and ask for a little known tool..
      my favorite one was asking for a ruler.. ( yardstick) the kid looked at me stupidly and said..what does it look like.. a flat piece of wood or steel with some numbers on it.. the next funny one was I went in and asked where they keep the bastards at LOL LOL LOL he shrugged his shoulders and said take your pick they are all around here LOL LOL
      unfortunately that kid moved on.. and now they have old guys like myself that still knows what they are and how to use them LOL LOL..
      I have been tempted to fill my son inlaws garage with crap.. LOL I get a tool and he instantly wants it so he will borrow it and then it goes into his garage.. LOL LOL so I was wondering.. how many wheel barrows can he fit in that garage LOL LOL LOL LOL it would be a hoot to see.. I have one of the grandkids filling part of it with cardboard LOL LOL LOL LOL he wants to make some furniture LOL LOL LOL the sad part is he comes and askes if I have one.. like he needed a level.. it is in his garage and he doesn’t remember where he put it LOL.. I don’t have it anymore so he has to find it before he can use it LOL…

      • Oh yeah! Most of the time spent on a job is looking in the last places I THOUGHT I’d put the tools I’m needing. Is here … at the ranch … in town … did my son borrow it last year?? That’s how all the duplicate tools and supplies find their way into my inventory. If you’ve got a job that just HAS to be done then the tools you need are just a card swipe away – and then you run across the damned things two weeks later doing something else entirely.

  4. amazing how your tool drawers look exactly like mine LOL LOL LOL.. I to am a tool slut.. I have actually been looking for a tool to straighten a cut off can lid.. because of the change in how they make cans and the reduction of the amount of material in the lids.. I cut the tops off from the side…a can sealer makes a flat feld seam.
    that is why the process is a little different.. first you put the cans in a double boiler.. heat them up to 175degrees.. then put the can top on… then in the pressure canner to make sure that all the bugs are dead.. at ten pounds of pressure set up and pressure canned for the recomended amount of time…
    pickling and fermentation of garden goods is a different process.. freeze drying is yet another.. flash freeze to keep the cell integrity

  5. George
    D4? No solder on the solder pad. Resistor to right of D4 has a poor solder joint.

    Pray tell! What do you plan to build with all that test gear fire power?

    Remember to take a break every now and then and smell the roses

  6. “I literally don’t need anything. But wants are unlimited, unlike time itself, which is getting more valuable by the moment.”

    that is me to.. I don’t need anything.. I tried to get both automated and hand tools of each.. from oil extractors to hammers and nail gun s..

    that is what I would like to buy next.. LOL so far to put the cheese or sour cream and onion flavoring on chips or curls.. I use a tote put the stuff and flavoring in it and then shake it.. but that is a tool.. worthy of any tool slut LOL LOL..
    I will make one though.. a piece of angle and a rotisserie motor on one side and two wash tubs with a shaft on it.. and you got it.. but what does that cost in comparison.. materials you end up over a hundred.. so is it better to just buy the tool with warranty .. the biggest issue is.. how bad do I want to upset the old lady with a new kitchen gadget that will only be used a few times..
    cheese curls.. you extrude the corn meal.. then you coat it and put it in an dehydrator for a little big to make them crispy.. or an oven on its lowest temperature.. it is the air and warmth that crisps them up..
    but.. I don’t NEED it.. it is a want LOL LOL..

  7. i doubt my little Bristol wrench pak will survive after I’m gone. Nobody will know what they are for. At best someone will try them in a Torx or hex slot, then toss them.

      • STFD !

        George, You do realize you just wrote a sentence regarding the concept of – SCARCITY !

        Holy Scheisse!

        Color gobsmacked !

        You, G. Ure seem to actually have clue as to what Scarcity is all about. Who knu?

        “Well I’ll Bee, M. R. Ducks!

        Congratulations G, you may now proceed to Basic Econ 101/Guns&Butter.

        BTC..on the way to 34k, before pullback and “launch”.

      • That’d be awesome (for my kids.) Maybe after I’m gone, someone will buy the five extra S-38s I haven’t even been able to give away…

  8. Lately, I’ve done triage on. my hobbies. (Too many)
    Q. What am I really in ham radio for?
    A. Used to be a big emergency services guy. Now, I’m aged out of usefulness. RACES / ARES was 90% of what I did with ham radio. Now, mostly I want local 2-meter friendly rag-chews with the local gang, and some 75-meter conversations of some relaxed length and depth. (I’m NOT a contestor) So…
    I don’t need the TS-2000 anymore,
    The Icom 718 suits me fine for HF:
    And the 857D does a lot of the “misc”:

    Total: three radios — way down from a much bigger on-line number. This group does all I need (want) it to do, and does it much more compactly and simply. Features? I don’t miss 99% of them. These three cover everything just about from DC to daylight — and all are as fully frequency capable as I can make them.

    “G” scale trains? Sold the collection. Quite a pile, but I’ll never build another large scale (garden) railroad, so, “shelf queens” and all — gone. (BIG pile of N-scale, too, but too small for my bad old eyes now.)

    Guns? Divested most. Kept a very few particulary useful for home defense. I was never a big public carry man. Standardized on .22LR for common-to-all. Got LOTS of that for barter and actual use. Compact and cheap.

    Gardening? Backed way off. Down-sized greatly.

    Audio/Video/Photography etc? Same pattern — what do I REALLY often use and need? Not nearly as much as I had. Slim-Down-Extreme.

    78 years old now. Many things that were easy, are not so much anymore; and not likely to reverse with enough useful time left to accomplish very much with. Not in excellent health anymore. Prospects: “Meh.”

    Not leaving quite yet, but living simple more. Striving less. Controlled “letting go” of the unlikely.

    Simplifying and relaxing and enjoying deliberately.


    • Ham friend is the ‘Telecom consultant’ for Micronesia and has populated the schools on the widely spread out atolls with the IC-718 that he standardized on. Now he is stunned that Icom has stopped producing the IC-718. Now he’s looking at the IC-7300 for that job. (Ahem!)

    • You think “N” scale is bad… I have a Z-gauge layout on a 2×4 coffee table that folds up against the wall. Haven’t opened it in years. Only reason it is still around is that it doesn’t take up much space!

    • When I was much younger, I had some mild interest in SW radio, etc. I even had a CB radio in the van. The main problems I had were that I didn’t like to talk, and I didn’t like to listen unless there was information to be gleaned. The S/N ratio for info was far too low, and the static and other background noise was hard on my ears. As I got older, this got worse, to the extent that I’d rather read than listen to anything other than a melodious female voice. My biggest challenge in learning to fly was radio communication. It was hard to hear, I didn’t want to talk, and copying/remembering a clearance in detail was challenging, probably from performance anxiety. Yes, I can do it, but it detracts from the experience. It’s not fun, it’s work. It’s important to communicate during emergencies, but it’s
      not fun. Just my POV. I respect those that do well in this field, and I do enjoy the electronics. I’ll be curious to see a report on how well the new scope appliance works on real circuitry. Are the probes of decent quality, etc.

  9. Well here is one for you. I am not the shop tool nut that you guys are but I do have a slide rule I had in college and I still know to use it.

    What are the chances of that tool avoiding the big green junk bin in my laneway after I’m gone?

    • Awe, hell. The slide rule BIC is out on the “measurements shelf.” But, it’s a good thing you brought it up. I opened it up (*yellow K&E) and it’s frozen up. So this means an article on slide rule repair and alightment!

      • I have a CIE (Cleveland Institute of Electronics) slide rule and four books of lessons of how to use it. Never did properly learn. 1974 College physics class allowed us to use either slide rule or new-fangled Trig. calculator, the HP-35. I drove a hundred miles and spent $400 to get one to avoid the slide rule. Was the envy of my class for one semester. Then the TI-51 appeared for one third the price. Several years back I sold the HP-35 on eBay… apparently to a Russian. I wouldn’t ship overseas, so he had a US proxy buy it for him. He was overjoyed. Nobody wants the CIE slide rule. I still have it. I dunno why.

        • I got kicked out of Seattle U in 1968 for “cheating” with an early tiny red leds machine. Piss on ’em – if they want to run a buggy whip school. Which they didn’t appreciate.
          You see, in addition to being a technology type, I run about 10-years ahead of things…

        • Back in the day I had the fancy calculator.. but always used the slide rule.. today and over 40 years of not using either..check I’d have to learn both all over again..its like the old guy that was going to draw a blood sample.. have you done this before..yes I’ve been doing this over 30 years.. five minutes later as I had cold sweats I asked him..I thought you’ve been doing this for over 30 years…would you like me to do it for you.. no the truth came out he worked at a desk for 30 years.. his skill wasn’t the job but pushing a pencil and scratching his balls..
          its one of the use it or lose it jobs..
          that would be my slide rule.. I am sure it would come back..but it would be a new learning experience.. lol lol

      • Yeah, Keuffel & Esser was pretty much it for choice back then. Good job it has sentimental value because sure not worth much even as a vintage item (1947 model with leather case). About 20 bucks.

        Guess I’ll keep it and see if I can calculate my property taxes when the power goes off and the internet goes down. Maybe the Bitcoin Nazi would like to buy it.

    • You need to attach it firmly to the 1967 book I wrote “The Slide Rule A-C-D Scales”!

      • I had the cabinet bible memorized every part for every high end cabinet..well that was over thirty years to..
        I still have the cabinet bible though..

    • I still have my 10″ Picket slide rule from when I was a nuke. Machined aluminum and silk screened. Could often hit 4 significant digits with it(young eyes). I think it was $70 in 1973-1974.

      • the slide of the worlds greatest tools.. almost as great as its great great great grandpappy.. suan-pan or abacus.. that goes back thousands of years in history.. way back Sumerian… a simple tool that can do every advanced math problem..
        I know right where mine is.. and one that i gave to the grandkids to use on their play table..

    • I still have mine…err… someplace lol I think its in the steal toolbox.. but I’m pretty sure I would have to learn how to use it again.. its one of those use it or lose it tools.. its funny to..for years that thing went everywhere I went.. I used it often.. but times changed technology expanded.. it went into the box.. I use to have every phone number and document number memorized as its all in my pocket brain.. ( phone) use it or lose it..
      at one point I could do calculus without a pencil today..I would need refresher courses lol..

    • Bob:

      I have my Grandfather’s slide rule.

      He used it to help him build a machine which created an industry and built his boss a fully-stocked mansion and 300 acres or so, inside a booming city, plus several million dollars of pocket change, back in the pre-FRB era.

      Gramps got $500 and a promotion, and his name on his patent, underneath the boss’ name.

      I got his slide rule and drafting set, and a copy of the patent.

      I intend to have them framed and labeled, so maybe my executor or someone at the estate sale will see to it the piece is donated to a museum.

      You are more famous, or at least better known than my grandfather ever was, and someone who made a huge difference to the lives of, perhaps millions of people. I suggest you create or commission the same, and if that slide rule is important to you, or what you did, that you include it.

      • AMEN….
        Bob was one of my heros before I even knew I knew him…
        what was it that PLATO said…
        “Plato once said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” Some believe that the desire for knowledge and the emotions that arise from it can be dangerous. This assumption is incorrect because possessing vast amounts of knowledge causes many positive impacts everywhere.”

        bob seen the problems plaguing innocent people and children lacking the knoweledge to overcome what was destroying them…. and with his advanced knoweledge let his emotions and moral guidelines guide him.. He knew he could save so many..
        Every single one of us should thank our heavenly father that he put such a wonderful person on the planet.. I am proud to know him..

    • Talk to your kids! Show at least one how to use the thing and explain the mental development that comes from keeping track of the decimal point! Explain that it’s somewhat of an antique, and its history, along with your experiences with it.

      My daughter will be getting mine if it doesn’t get lost first. She may even make a youtube video about it.

      • I’ve at least downloaded several significant YouTube videos on how to use one and made sure I have backups of that and a few other how-to videos. Just hope we have the juice to play them when we need them.

  10. I kept one analog scope; it seems RF envelopes don’t render correct on my cheap Hantek scope. Is that an Owon XD1041 DMM?

  11. “Even spare Bristol wrench kits – those odd set screws used by Hallicrafters on early equipment.”

    Back in the mid-to-late ’60s I put together a screwdriver kit. It contained such tools as handled (not bits, they didn’t yet exist, neither did “Torx”) clutch head, Pozidriv, Frearson, and Bristol Spline. With a Dad who was a machinist/toolmaker/repairman, there were lots of spline-drive screws laying around, not just the ones on the hand-crank DeVry 16mm projector…

    I only had it intact for a couple years. The #2 Phillips is the most-popular screwdriver in the world. You can never have too many because they disappear as quickly as you refill the rack. To the ignorant dumbass, Pozidriv and Frearson look like Phillips screws, so when that #2 Phillips disappears, somebody snatches the #2 Pozidriv, which then also walks away, or they grab the #2 Frearson and destroy its lobes.

    After replacing my #2 Phillips many times and my Pozidriv and Frearson several times, I simply gave up…

      • At that point in my life, “tool guests” were my parents and brothers — three of whom were allegedly machinists. Mom and Dad always put stuff back, and it was always in as good, or better shape than when they borrowed it. They went through the Depression on the East Coast. I learned from them. My sibs, not so much…

  12. “As a side note – especially if you are under 40 – watch to see how the modern analog (which we’d guess will be Torx heads) is playing out in the Market’s world.”

    Bristol Spline is a 6-lobed spline bit — the lobes are straight and the end is square. Torx looks about the same, but the lobes are rounded and slightly tapered. A Bristol Spline screwdriver will drive a Torx screw, but not the reciprocal (at least not without a little Primitive Pete action), because of the Torx’ rounded lobes.

    Torx has already been supplanted by the Torx Plus, or Pro, or something like that — don’t care, as long as my Torx bits still work with them…

  13. “Until the Logitech MK270 with the dongle out of a fresh box told me neither the Mouse or Keyboard were supported devices. I put too much time into sorting that one out. Several hours’ worth of time. Tracing out the driver versions, and blah, blah, blah…”

    This was my life in about 1995 or ’96. The worst one I ever had was a modem driver which took me 26 hours to find, but every bit of hardware had its own specific driver, and before Microsoft forced standards on the hardware industry, neither DOS nor Windows came with either hardware drivers, or Intel generics, other than a 16 color (that’s 16 colors, not 16bit) vid driver, motherboard driver, southbridge driver, and hard-drive/optical/drive driver. That’s just enough stuff to turn a brick into a low-functioning device, and enable a person to load proper drivers (once they found them.)

    I’m SO GLAD to see this wonderful period from the past, be resurrected for today’s computer-philes…


  14. One subject that rarely appears on STS is hydraulics. Most heavy machines and many lighter ones utilize hydraulic pumps, fluid, cylinders, hydrostats, spool valves and most of all – hoses. All are subject to wear and aging. Changing some hoses and cylinders is a piece of cake, others are barely possible. All of the hydraulic components are expensive, so what’s an approach to maintenance(DIY as much as possible) that will minimize these expenses? What sources exist for cheap, yet servicable hoses and DIY ends, crimpers, fluids, cylinders and their repair/resealing, and of course, repair of hydrostats, spool valves and pumps where possible? How many parameters do you have to match before swapping cylinders with one that’s actually available? Ebay helps, but it’s aging too and may not be around forever.

  15. I can see my 180 pound anvil to be given away to who ever can take it away. Same with 6 inch vice.


      I bought a magnet.. a big magnet.. a really big magnet LOL LOL LOL LOL.. when the package arrived.. there was a big piece of tape on the side of it.. I lifted it.. dang it was light..
      opened it.. and nothing was in the package LOL LOL on some conveyor belt is a magnet stuck.. My guess is it is still there to this day LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL I was concerned before if I could handle the magnet .. after seeing the package I knew I couldn’t.. like the one I got last summer with a five hundred pound pull LOL LOL LOL My grandson inlaw found it.. you could pull a car with it.. LOL I put wheels on it so he can use it to seek nails.. he pulled one out of the driveway that was almost a foot under ground LOL LOL LOL
      I bought a freeze dryer for the Ward I am in.. offered it to the ward.. and was told keep it LOL LOL now that shocked me LOL.. obviously they have one..

      • Funniest comment of the day! I actually LOL’d! I hope you got compensated for the missing magnet. I’d expect that they’d be shipping them either in an overly large box with the magnet centered, or in a very strong one. I’d be interested in such a thing for the same reason – finding the nails and other junk that gets dropped on the ground and covered with dust and dirt. Apparently there are magnets to mount on a front bumper to catch the nails and other sharps on roadways.

        • Mine come double- or triple-boxed, with a significant amount of insulating buffer between the boxes. Until they’ve had to deal with one, people have no idea how strong neodymium magnets are. I’ve got one that’s half-dollar size, holding up 13 sheets of wallboarding. I had to move that stuff a month or so back and my daughter was over, to help. She could not believe that, not only could she not peel the magnet (I put a 3″ screw through it as a handle/lever), she couldn’t even slide it.

  16. I’m 79 today. Because of reduced vision, mobility (knees), and disposible income issues, I have downsized all my fishing/boating stuff (I used to run a charter boat off Bald Head Island, NC); slot cars (raced from 64 to 2010 and had a raceway in Evansville, IN); Hunting & skeet shooting gear (I kept the home defense stuff); electronics parts and equipment (started and ran an automated welding company 83-96); a large printed library, a big stash of tools and equipment to support electrical, plumbing, construction, mechanical, and maintenance projects (a couple of tools that I hadn’t used in 10 years, that I needed 6 months after I sold them); and a couple of laptops with too small screens.
    My world has shrunk as I have aged, and I have changed my focus to things I can still do. After retiring for the 4th time in 2011, I restarted a novel I started in 1990. I published BB-39 in July of 2012, and 23 books since then. I have to use a 35″ monitor, and my reading is now restricted to using a Kindle with the maximum font size.
    I still feed my need for competition by playing World of Warships (a much slower paced game) most nights for an hour or two.
    I don’t regret getting older, since I still think it’s better than the other option. I’ve had to change my activities with my physical changes, but I’m still enjoying the adventure.

Comments are closed.

Toggle Dark Mode