ShopTalk Sunday: Industrial Arts Revival?

I keep looking for Educators to get sick of re-dividing America.  Rather than tell us how we are “All different” and “All special” it would be refreshing – as we see it – to bring back at least some baseline “Not a Victim” hands-on skills.

I looked over the last month of two of Amazon orders to see what kind of goods we were buying.  Beyond cans of excellent Canadian maple syrup.  When the nukes go off, we want some flapjacks, by God.  Some canned bacon and a cup of coffee would be good, too.

But this review got me to wondering “How much do people really know about “hands on?”  Thought we could do an overview today on a few projects and get you thinking along those lines…

Ham Radio section is the last part of the column. We begin with the “general interest” stuff, first.

Greenhouse in Winter

A year ago, we had just finished our lean-to greenhouse and were at the “getting compost and dirt in” stage.  Today? Harvestable munchies!

As we explained in the article on the “Chineseum” diesel heater we installed, the name of the game in winter is soil temps and keeping ambient air above freezing.  Light matters, so grow lights.  We monitor the soil temps closely, too:

Even when we had our 9F overnight low, a few weeks back, the soil temp was held in the 50-degree range.  This was done by preheating to the 60F range and then running the heater at 17C (about 62.6F) overnight.  Used about 1.5 gallons of diesel and while that doesn’t make sense on the surface, we only run the heater when the soil cools to 50 F, or so.

Remember, the heater runs only about 50% of the time, and almost always at night, so there’s not much impact from heating costs.  Certainly, not compared with electric heat for the same space!

What really makes a difference is the grow lights put in a few weeks back.  “Except, there’s just one problem,” as our favorite physics lecturer puts it.

See, when there’s warm soil, but the plant thinks it’s time to go to seed based on lighting, you get bolting.  Common in Lettuces, but even more so with the bok choi.  Nice flowers from which we may try to collect some of the seeds.

Speaking of “just one problem” we did lose the temp controller on the Vevor brand heater a few weeks back.  The replacement control head from Amazon (off brand) didn’t work (as it’s a crap shoot, seems, with such devices, QC and Covid, right?).

But the one from a seller on plugged and played nicely. About $18 bucks and I’ll likely order two more (one per heater as spares) once the second heater goes into service.

In the meanwhile, the non-op unit was cheerfully returned by Amazon.  However!  They now charge a $7.99 “pick-up fee” if you have them send out UPS.  Which was coming here anyway but don’t get me started…

Hose Notes

Canadians have long called me a “fair weather hoser” and it must be true.  The drinking-water safe white hose in the greenhouse is damn hard to coil up neatly when we’re in 40F and colder temps.  The answer?

This is one of those self-coiling jobs and it’s much more flexible.  On Amazon here for a penny off a $30 bill.  I’m not saying it will work in freezing weather.  Just much more flexible in cold temps, making it easier to hang up and keep the greenhouse neat. Hate tripping on hoses!

Tree Trim Before Sap!

This is the time of year for serious tree shaping work outdoors.  Leaves are off and that really makes pruning trees a lot easier.  We have two 100-foot-high trees between the house and shop, A couple of professionals will be out this week to bid the job.  Falling 100-foot trees single-handedly OVER the house, shop, and electric service entrance – when (almost) 74 – argues my IQ isn’t as high as it once claimed.  After thinking it through, I’m willing to write a four-figure check to keep up the illusion. Four figures for pro’s beats a hospital bed, or worse.

RAS Progress

More parts have landed for the radial arm saw refurbishment project, scheduled to begin after the sheetrock project in the guest quarters this week.

I’d always wondered why the Sears saw (197.19771) was made with four pieces of wood for its top.  Now (helps to read the manual, huh?) it all makes sense.

Notice the blue lines here:

To the left of the left-most blue line is where the front table piece goes; about 20-inches wide.

The double line at the front of the saw (left side) is where the table top meets the back fence rail. To move the saw into the (right feed) ripping position, you rotate the saw head 180 degrees which puts the blade at the fence.

In the ALT (left feed) ripping mode, the boards are rearranged with the table top front meeting one.  Then, the blade (now further in) meets the repositioned fencer. Which makes the front board about a 6 to 7-inch piece. This explains why the 2 back pieces, not one.  Where the “normal” rip (feed from right) is Big up to about 24 inches with the boards just so.

ALL of which is clamped into place with two of these guys at the back of the saw:

Which will operate smoothly after a few days in the Aerokroil Spa. Followed by some Boeshield or other anti-corrosion juice from the metal shop side.

Ham Radio Time

The K4TR version of the W5GI “Mystery Antenna” will be going up to the top of the tower in the next week, or two.

Speaking of which, if you do ever get to the towering insanity part of ham radio (maybe you win the Lotto or marry a goddess) don’t forget to space your low band wire antennas out from the top about 2-feet, or more.  This will vary by budget, common sense, and materials on hand:

The reason for this is when you have twin lead (high impedance ladder line) it tends to unbalance (thus lose power) into the (grounded metal) tower which is not a good use of energy.

While the antenna waits for a block of time (and a break in showers) I will be getting some parts of the antenna super-doped up with silicone conformal coating.

The stuff isn’t widely use in consumer gear.  But the first time I ran into it was as a varnish on old radio gear.

A reader, while back, gave me a vintage (I mean cherry!) BC-348-Q receiver and as all BC-348s it was coated with “tropical varnish” on damn near everything in the component section.  It wasn’t parylene (discussed here) but damned if I can remember what it was called.

Ran into “modern” conformal coating when I was at Cruising Equipment in Seattle.  Production Boss whiz, Bill M. had found some really great spray-on conformal coating – just the ticket for keeping solid-state boards safe (and operating) in the presence of water and salt spray.  Made a note then to remember this for antennas.

Conformal is a little different than Corona Dope, which we also keep on hand.  But looks from the spec sheet like it may provide good additional weather resistance at the parts of the “Mystery Antenna” where there are tubing covered solder joints.

Not free – about $25-bucks and change.  But only slightly more expensive than MG’s corona dope which is about $22-bucks.

Main thing when putting up new antennas is to use the right products.  CoaxSeal is great over the feed line connectors.  on bare antenna wire, corona dope around the center insulator is not a bad idea when running higher power. I occasionally run 1.3 kw out on the low end of 20-meters working far-away DX stations in code mode.

My expectation is the W5GI will provide a bit better receiving compared to the big OCFD.  But really curious to see if it’s better than the Beverage’s which are great on 20.

Two Other Radio Notes

One of these days, we will have a whole write up on the Radioddity mobile unit that’s on the way.  A seller on eBay had the Radioddity QB25 Pro Quad Band 25W Car Mobile Radio Transceiver + Long Antenna for $107 and free shipping, so around $116 with the Texas Tax Bite.

This is not portable (needs a 12V source) but in value?  Can’t beat it – right up with the earliest of the Baofeng handhelds.

My friend, Dr. J (there a “j” in his name somewhere, lol) has a really slick write up on how to get this (tiny, small) radio into an ammo can along with everything you’d need to pack it about in a grab and go kit.  I’ll see if I can talk him into permission to share on here.  Meantime, though, part of my calamitous computer collapse mess will involve reinstalling CHIRP which you can download from here.  Makes it so you can have a comprehensive set of choice frequencies on all kinds of mobile/portable VHF gear including like GMRS and weather and cops and fire and…and….

Still, setting up CHIRP and loading up 2-meters and 440-MHz  is only one of the neat things about the radio.  (Comes with a programming cable, antenna, and mobile mount and mic…)  The other is that I may use it as a dedicated 137 MHz NOAA Weather Satellite receiver.  Promises to be fun.  I’ve already got the 137 MHz quadrifilar for Wefax with a preamp in it, so may only need to add a bias-T to get power up to the antenna.

The QFAs come up on eBay used, from time-to-time.  Mine came off a Chilean commercial fishing boat which went to a different (direct from space) weather fax distro system.

Final point, I expect my buddy (The Major) had a great time with the Mic and Key Club doing a Zom conf. intro to NVIS antennas. Near Vertical Incident Skywave antennas. He’ll be down here sometime this spring. No telling what kind of trouble we can get into.

He doesn’t think the ground counterpoise under an NVIS adds much, but that’s one of those gentleman (or beer) bets to be settled with data collection.

For the shack (radio room section of office): Got some marine-grade tabletop casting resin coming.  Figure the Major will need shades just to look at the ham station when rebuilt…

World’s Still Crazy!

Remarks in passing:

Don’t forget prayers tomorrow morning for our Houston Bureau chief.  She’s got surgery coming Monday.

Our backup consigliere out in Century City (Boss Angeles as local 1960s radio once called it) sent this along Saturday as ongoing evidence of the pending world decline into collapse: British Museum bans the word ‘MUMMY’ out of ‘respect’ for 3,000-year-old dead.  Seriously? If I can’t call ’em “mummies” can I call ’em “daddies?”  Does anyone (*not in woke rehab) honestly believe a spirit 3,000 years into their afterlife adventures gives a shit?  “Not I,” said the fat man at the keyboard.

For another input from George’s circle of brain feeding stations, take a gander at Kit Webster’s column today.

Peoplenomics subscribers will be interested to see that Kit, along with me as discussed in the Saturday ChartPack, sees a POSSIBLE optimistic change of direction as POSSIBLE this spring, although two important points here:  1) We haven’t compared notes at all – but remarkably interesting timing.  2) the underlying news flow sure isn’t confidence inspiring in the least.

Lumber prices are rising, now on the commodity markets. Recovery or a bigger invasion from Mexico coming?  Ask stupid slow Joe.

We shall see if the world includes a lot of “flash parts” shortly.

For this morning’s third cup of coffee, off to the 3806 LSB hangout while reading the new Micro-Mark hobby catalog.  If yours hasn’t landed yet, the PDF is here so you will be able to waste the entire day in “hobby research!”

A boy can dream, can’t he?

Write when normal returns,

47 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Industrial Arts Revival?”

  1. In honor of Sunday, I submit the following lovely video….

    Pay attention, and let Gina guide you through the steps of making a classic Italian Sunday Sauce!

    Once upon a time, in predominantly Italian neighborhoods of New York City, the aroma of the Sunday Sauce permeated the air, because everyone was doing the same exact sauce.

    I have been told it is longer the case, the air of those neighborhoods is no longer permeated by garlic frying in olive oil, instead the air is filled with the “stench” of curry…

    • Having first discovered Authentic/Old School Curry in Kuala Lumpur
      1970s, I set out to perfect over many years a matching quality.
      Often I roast ground cumin in avocado oil briefly on the skillet where the thermogenic product will be assembled. Extra tumeric, yellow curry paste and viola!
      An exciting healthful dish that consumes the local atmosphere and lingers in the bloodstream and sweat. Best for high temperature days and strong digestive systems.
      Que: Alice Cooper “Love it to Death”

    • When my parents married, the first place they lived was in the middle of an Italian neighborhood. Mom left her Swedish roots and (Italian women are apparently very friendly and very motherly toward young brides) thanks to her neighbors, learned how to throw some serious scratch Italian grub together. Sundays were apparently, very pleasant days for a stroll…

      • Yes, and they probably spoke like Gina, “First you gotta putta little salt…”

        When I was about 10 years old I convinced my cousin to to take a long bike ride to visit my father’s aunt in Brooklyn on our bycicles. My parents were close with this aunt and visited often, and I had memorized the car route.

        When we arrived I rang the door bell and she opened the door and was surprised and confused.

        She said “But where your mudda, where your fadda?”

        Ah, the memories of going everywhere without fear…

  2. Re QB/DB25, ha must be in the air, I hv spent a couple hours last few days reading about this genre to replace the Baofeng UV9 in car, this looks better than most in Amazon reviews.

  3. “British Museum bans the word ‘MUMMY’ out of ‘respect’ for 3,000-year-old dead”.

    Respect? If they had respect, they would have let them rest in peace, instead of being tomb raiders!

  4. I really think you will like the “Mystery Antenna”. Mine has been up 3 years with no issues and I have it strung up about 40ft from trees in the front yard to the back yard in a sloped angle. Right away I did see an improvement in reception and transmissions over the G5RV I had up. Good luck with the one you have.

  5. I avoid bolting problems with my Bok Choy and most all greens during the winter. A couple years back I tried a baby Bok Choy that were only an inch or two tall when mature. Excellent stir fried with some onion and garlic. Now I just start a small flat of seedlings of whatever variety I have around every couple days. Get them up to 2 inches and into the wok they go.
    Started a new project raising fish in a stock tank at one end of the hoop house. So far, so good except for the couple who got out. Didn’t know these were flying fish. Probably be setting up a second tank this spring to try raising Shrimp.
    Stay safe. 73

  6. Hey G-Pops,

    Shop Sunday & “shade tree engineers’ interested in “spooky action at distance’ ? C’mon man – dont be a bunch of wusses, you can handle it..
    Forewarning – everyone (Military/Contractors) involved physically in last 10-15 yrs has been “intangled”, not only their own dam selves, but Family and Friends as well. It is a HUGE – read very large problem National Security wise..said to be tracking it with cov19 predicted spread algos – sure that is working well…bwahahahahahahahah

    Ameri -Indians wont even say the name..yee naaldlooshii – quantum entanglement – its whats for Sunday brunch.. Tell Ure shaman to put that scheisse in his peace pipe and smoke it. Enjoy the show..4 it Must go on.

    * keeping in mind the very smallest fractal in a hologram contains the whole hologram within it..

  7. “ I keep looking for Educators to get sick of re-dividing America. Rather than tell us how we are “All different” and “All special” it would be refreshing – as we see it – to bring back at least some baseline “Not a Victim” hands-on skills.”

    I completely agree, George. – Then you go on to mention “Canadian maple syrup” … sticky stuff.

    We’ll just last night I read this article about Alex Tabarrok, a Canadian American who’s coming to town to speak at the College and to our local economic folks …

    Says, “ He has also written about methods for increasing the supply of human organs for transplant, the regulation of pharmaceuticals by the FDA, and voting systems.

    During the pandemic, Tabarrok was an adviser to the U.S. government on using incentives to accelerate vaccine production. Tabarrok’s papers have appeared in “Science,” “The Journal of Human Resources,” “The Journal of Law and Economics,” the “Journal of Health Economics,” “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” and many other journals.”

    Quite a guy, speaking to the kids at our beautiful college.

    Not sure what economic differences he’ll make around here. Probably something about Health Care.

    The area has gone down a lot since I moved here in 2001. – long story.

    Wishing I’d never left Toledo. Damn.

  8. Inquiry:

    There seems to be a goodly number of ham radio ops on here.
    No, I don’t want your callsigns or phone numbers or anything else.

    I wonder just how many there are…

    I request you say “I’m a ham,” and naught else. If you want to indicate very generally where you are — like “northeast,” or name a state – that’ll be quite enough. I’ll match up user names and see what we get, and put it on here. George has already outed himself, so that’s one. I’m one, so that’s two. Anybody else care to say?

    (I might re-run this one day next week, just so’s everybody hears the request.)

    No callsigns, no personally identifying information — just “I’m one,” will be quite enough for this purpose.

    – K –
    P.S. As of Sunday A.M., I have the following, either directly or by reasonable inference.
    George (
    William of the Radio Ranch (me)
    Random Mike
    Jim on MO

    P.P.S. 7.299 by day, 3.999 by night. Mon on the :15 & :45
    NO “HQ” or organization — self-defined ad hoc when the
    balloon goes us.

  9. I couldn’t find can bacon on Amazon. Can you send a photo?

    Augason farms still has some good deals.Eggs are about 50% off.

    Well the house had covid and sinus infections. I think we had 5 big bottles of Tylenol and we went through it all. Buy alot more than you think you need.

  10. “ALL of which is clamped into place with two of these guys at the back of the saw:

    Which will operate smoothly after a few days in the Aerokroil Spa. Followed by some Boeshield or other anti-corrosion juice from the metal shop side.

    I suggest you remove those thumbscrews and hit them with a wire wheel first. (The bottom nut may require Kroil and patience — you do NOT want to break it!) They may even need an acid bath (or electrolytic alkali bath) to become clean. They are pretty much unobtanium so you have to take care of them. You can’t lube them, not even with graphite (real woodworkers never take a chance of contaminating their work). I blued mine — twice, because of the threads. Such a little thing — such a PITA!

  11. Lumber futures are up over 25% for the week., but still 62% below last year’s price at this time. [YoY ] Though the housing market and construction in general is dropping fast, it is now a supply shortage that is causing the price increase., and there will be a shortage for some time to come.

  12. The world’s most prestigious big wave contest, the “Eddie Aikau” is ON at Waimea Bay, Oahu today. Surf nuts can watch live from a link here:

    The ‘Eddie’ is only held intermittently when wave conditions at Waimea Bay are huge… once every several years it meets the criteria. North shore traffic is jammed. People been camping out for days there. But the best views are on TV. They have an awesome fleet of drones covering the bay with video.

  13. Profuse thanks offered up to Brother George, the Voice of East Texas, for today’s before-dawn-call to the revival meeting under the big top.

    The bok choi – white vegetable – is bolting? Happy Chinese New Year; welcome to the Year of the Rabbit! Yes, Alice, let’s.

    While Eagles soared on updrafts above Giants mired in clay at Lincoln Financial Field as the nephew of Eli Manning watched on in the comfort of an Eagle Hurt’s jersey, a spell was being cast in America’s capital city. Chinese state media CGTN delivered a gift wrapped report from fairytale America featuring the newly appointed and youngest Chinese foreign minister whose predecessor has just been elevated to The Politburo. Perhaps ‘Urban readers may last recall having seen now-Minister Qin as ambassador extoll the extraordinary successes of the strong Chinese immersion streams in the public school system of the famed missionary state, Utah.

    Saturday night, while members of the proletariat sat in the bleachers at Capital One Arena for the Wizards vs. Magic basketball game, curtains did part to reveal a visage grace the scoreboard. CGTN reports that for the 12th annual NBA celebration of Chinese New Year, a 40 second address from Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang was played to the assembled masses. Comrades, here is a link perchance you were otherwise engaged in daily toil:

    And now we return you to Brother George asking you to please turn to the Russian-American Irving Berlin penned work of 1938 in your Great American Songbook:

    God Bless America.

    • Folks,

      I spotted an opinion piece headline from CNN reflecting on President Biden’s classified paper documents blowing in the wind. The gist apparently was that Mr. Biden should consider going digital. Maybe Hunter can source a good laptop for the job?

  14. Conformal coatings- I use a PERMATEX product from the auto supply store. “Flowable Silicone” for windshield glass sealing. I apply it to all my outdoor coax connectors. When applied, the stuff ‘melts’ and flows into all cracks and crevices and seals it all up before solidifying into silicone rubber. My antenna connectors out in tropical sunshine and rain for years are doing just fine.

  15. “He doesn’t think the ground counterpoise under an NVIS adds much, but that’s one of those gentleman (or beer) bets to be settled with data collection.”

    We are the kings of NVIS out here in Hawaii. We have 40 meter interisland nets three times daily, and we have access to an ionosonde on Oahu that lets us know when the band is good. Go to:
    to see what a volunteer ham put together for our island nets.

    Experience tells us that a ground reflector under a NVIS antenna is absolutely essential for optimal performance. It becomes the reflector element of a two-element beam aimed straight up. Now if your antenna is already above a swampy wet ground, you may not need the ground counterpoise. But here at the volcano ranch my ‘ground’ is glassy lava rock with admirable insulation properties. My OCF dipole is suspended on insulated poles along a fence line at the property edge, and it works well for NVIS above that fence reflector.

  16. Hi, George and Everyone!

    I am a ham, also; KC5LYR. My late husband and I were hams with the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Team. I was on the team for 19 years. We performed high angle rescues, some searches, and cave rescue. Thanks.

  17. Personally I think this nuke war stuff is getting a bit far fetched ww3 started already years ago . Ukraine is just another one . We will have rolling ww3 for years to keep the whole game going . As I said Ukraine just another Vietnam . But nobody gunna use nukes . All bluff . Anyway whatever they use to keep it all going is a force far greater than human logic or commonsense. We are finished but they will drag it out to send us mad and sick . Tip your hats to evil . Bravo !!!

  18. you know what an interesting event is George.

    the day after, I left the Alki house and went to Alaska? and I had been there for a while. every single person 3 days later got covid and 2 went to the hospital on the entire city block.

    I was rushed out the door and was given a time frame in meditation that I had to be out by. remember George? I openly stated it on Here. I heard it. you must be gone from this place by 01/04. no later than that date. and I lottery had 5 days to pack my stuff, and have a plan to go somewhere. and was told. bring only your books and clothes. everything else will be provided for you. I left my brand new bed, blankets sheets, dresser, desk, night stand, lamps, chairs, all my furniture and got the fuck out of there.

    so far every where I’ve been. a bed, TV, dresser, desk, chair etc etc has been provided everywhere I’ve been.

    I found out the other day, everyone in the entire block I was living at has super bad Covid. the entire block of houses.

    huh. something is looking out for me.

    I’ve still not had covid. at all.

    • right after I made that comment I had a flash of triple A fuelers racing down the drag strip as the Christmas tree hit green. I was standing right behind them.

      hmmmmm. interesting imprint. flash vision.

    • yo Grorge, there is a bunch of different books called the Art of the Interview. which author do you recommend? I’m going to get it. I’ve never read it.

      you have mentioned it more than a few times. I think will give it a study.

  19. Yeah like hey did you hear the one about nukes and market crash !!! Yeah what a beauty laughing myself all day long !! A classic . Further drudge is getting very tik tokish !! Robots and AI are so programmed , switched in . Pelosi stories are bordering on psychotic reboot of satanic idols

    • Fascinating! I found this preprint which is the scholarly article from which the studyfinds article was apparently derived:

      While this article is quite detailed in their materials and methods, it defines the actual ultrasound as simply “low frequency” and “intermediate power”. There is no indication of waveform or pulse rep rate, though the treatments were repeated at 72-96 hour intervals for 30 minutes duration. This is inadequate detail to actually replicate the experiment, though reading between the lines might indicate less than 100 dbm and less than 100 khz. A detailed description of their ultrasound generator and transducer(s) would help. Still, there’s lots of food for thought(and research) here. The experiments were performed on “in vitro” cell cultures and also senescent mice. When extrapolating to human size creatures, tissue penetration depth also needs to be considered.

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