ShopTalk Sunday: Red-Flagged Project, EZNEC, Laser CNC

It has been relatively quiet around Uretopia Ranch this weekend.

The “Christmas Room” (solar addition) was “red-flagged” by Elaine early in the week.  She was initially OK with the idea of an attached greenhouse.  But, not so cool with the color of Penofin.  It goes off to a medium orange/red.  Very much like Redwood with a coat of sealer on it.  There’s rosewood oil in Penofin, after all.

After several days to think about it though, she acquiesced.  (I then dropped the “hurt-puppy look.”) But with a condition:  “It would be OK if it went with the color of the house (beige) and the trim (flat black).  If you can do it that way, then OK.  Otherwise, it comes down.

The problem on my side of things?  Although the design was solid, and the initial verbal description was honest, the “actual” of all those beams admittedly is that it blocks a lot of her view.   (For 3-minutes a day.) Subdued with black paint it would be OK.  Though, an Inspector with flags worries me no end.

One of my “red-flag options” was to number everything as I took it all down, then reverse the order and make it a “Kit” for future use.  There are several such kits out in the shop.  Jigs and rigs that are seldom used, but once needed, swore I’d never be without ’em.  One example is a wire-spool handler for long ham radio antennas.  Built it, a dozen parts or so, then disassembled numbering as I went.  Boxed and ready when needed.

The “red-flag” will be on for a week, or better.  Not only is there the matter of black oil-based exterior paint (you can’t safely put latex over an oil-based stain and the stain had better be cured first when you put on an oil-based…). There’s the little matter of weather.

As of click-time today (I was up at 3 AM) it was about 26F with a decent 20-knot wind coming down from the north.  All the closer to Colorado we care to be.  Point, though, is that it will be a week, maybe, before the beams are re-coated and the project resumes.

25F and scattered snow by 5:15 AM.

Ham Radio: Thank You W7EL

I want to offer some heart-felt thanks to Roy Lewallen this morning:  W7EL is retiring from the development and evolution of what – for my money – has been the finest ham (and commercial) radio antenna modeling software in the world.

IT’S NOW FREE!  Read-on!

Roy’s retiring and – in one of the most stylish moves ever – he’s made his programs available free.  Visit EZNEC Antenna Software by W7EL to download.

Believe me, I’ll be doing the update to EZNEC version 7 when it’s released in a couple of weeks, too.

In the meantime, I wanted to express heart-felt appreciation.  Not only for his advancing of the hobby (ham radio), but also for the perhaps hundreds of hours of enjoyment (and learning) I’ve gotten in antenna design using his platform.

Just for example, when I was young, my (also ham) buddy The Major and I would lust after higher and bigger antennas.  Yet, after doing a ton of models trying to get the “absolute most” out of 20-meter (14 MHz) antennas, it turns out there are “sweet spots.”  We were surprisingly close at 40-feet up.

My present antenna lash-up is the “Super Antenna” which is oriented east-west and (memory going here) either a Buxcomm or Buckmaster OCFD going north-south.

Mysteries of the OCFD

My “big” antenna (east-west) sits up at 55-feet in the middle, 65-feet on the west end, and about 80-feet on the east end.

Modeling it has been both a joy and curse.  Because sometimes, depending on how things are arranged, you’ll see a flag on an antenna pattern far-field display advising “Model contains loss.”

In which case, you take the loss information, reverse sign, and add that to the far-field display.

Say you test an antenna that reports gain of just 4 dBd (decibels gain over reference dipole) and the “Model loss” is -2 dB, then the actual antenna performance will be +6 dBd in real-life.  Quiz?

Similarly, 13 dB of display gain with a “Model loss” flag of +5 dB means in reality performance will only be about 8 dBd. (Remember, reverse sign, so 135=8…)

If you’re lucky, that is.

There are so many variables it will make your head spin.  Not just “how long and how high” but is the wire insulated or not?  What diameter is it; #14 or #8?  What is the soil conductivity where you live?  Do you have a buried ground system?  What does that look like?  Antenna matching sections?  The list goes on.

More Complicated than a Woman

Antennas (as an old geez) are a lot like trying to figure out the spouse.  It’s a Nobel project, one you can pour a whole life into.  Yet, approximations often don’t work out.  Which sends all us males back to the drawing board for recalculations. Been recalculating more than 20-years now.

Yet – in the same sense as knowing (in chess) that The Immortal Game was a chess game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London, the design of that perfect multi-band wire ham radio antenna is illusory.

G. E. “Buck” Rogers Sr. wrote a book a while back that every serious “Antennist” ought to have in their collection:  the-windom-handbook.docx (  It opens as a Word Doc or save-as then do what you will.

Newbie hams often think an OCFD (off-center-fed dipole) and a Windom antenna are the same thing.  However, they are not.  And separate from these is the Carolina Windom which is sold by RadioWorks.  See the diagram at CAROLINA WINDOM ( for an idea about construction details.

So far, Super Antenna has been going through a series of design evolutions experimenting with the “vertical radiator” idea.  Nelson Antennas (search “nelson” in the ham radio section of eBay for ’em) makes a very good quality RF line choke.

So far, the simple OCFD is working better than the antenna with the “vertical radiator.”

This has fed back to looking at antenna matching issues, since the best radiating performance of an antenna is seldom at the ideal feed line matching point.  While 4:1 baluns (a balanced-to-unbalanced RF transformers) are common, a 3:1 balun may end up being built here, simply because it’s in ultra-fine tuning where the difference between a “good” antenna and a really “GREAT!” antenna can be made.

Between EZNEC and the “Buck” Rogers book, you can spend a lifetime or two searching for the “El Dorado” of antennas.  Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than I have.  Nor am I alone.  Wm. of the Radio Ranch may be onto it when he takes a simple half wave long wire (called the end-fed-half-wave or EFHW) and just goes and has fun.

This is like the problem of sorting-out fishermen.  Wm. would be that lucky nimrod who, upon feeling the urge to fish, simply finds rod, reel, hook, worms, and proceeds to have fun drowning worms (maybe a beer) and catches fish.

Ure is not so lucky as Wm.  Ure is more the “First you build a 12-foot, four section, bamboo casting rod.  Then you tie a special fly.  Now, to track result’s, we’ll dust off a copy of Foxpro 9 and build a tracking database…”

The Wm.’s of ham radio always get more fish – on ham radio, that’s more DX (distant stations). Because of the “LAWS OF FISHING: RULE #1.”  Which reads, lest you’ve forgotten:  “A line must be in the water to catch fish.”

Converted to electronics:  Wm. turns on his radio and begins to “catch fish.”

Ure doesn’t get around to dropping a line in very often; he’s still waiting for the bamboo varnish to dry and he’s stuck troubleshooting a procedure call in Foxpro.  (Other than eavesdropping and an occasional “Howdy” on 3785 on slow news mornings, I don’t want to try that antenna without a database to track results, lol….)

CNC Laser Delusions

I think all of us who fancy ourselves “Makers” have dreams of the ultimate CNC mod for home users.  

Off with the spindle motor and on with the laser!

Lately, I’ve been studying up on the LaserTree high power laser add-ons for the low-cost home CNC market.  Some claim to be able to cut 1/2-inch plywood (usually in 2-passes) and seem in the 80-watt range. 12V 3-wire here, thanks.

My research continues.  Meantime, I’ll be adding a bit more content this year over on the site one of these days.  Still in migration from old website to new.

Shop Plans 2022

In case you have not read today’s column as an intelligence analyst, from the top, let’s sum it up:

  • Ure’s excuse this week on the Christmas Room project was Paint. Weather excuse is on deck.
  • His computer time since the year began has been poured into EZNEC.
  • Ure’s still looking for Antenna Eldorado.
  • He’s also distracted with laser CNC dreams being too cheap to drop $20 thousand on a waterjet rig.
  • He rambles slowly ahead; still unable to solve that procedure call in Foxpro.

Yep, little doubt about it:  2022 won’t be much different than 2021.  Except for the gardening part or you could face starvation…

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

36 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Red-Flagged Project, EZNEC, Laser CNC”

  1. Very, very early in my career, I was greatly blessed through no virtue of my own, to be the snot-nosed kidd dummy, enslaved by a bunch of big-brayne medical research docs (most, Hah-vaahd trained), to change batteries, solder on connectors and do other low lab slave Krappe their gentle hands did not contain the brutal muscle memory to do.

    Sometimes, they’d include me in their (mostly incomprehensible) conference room blue-sky chalk-arguments. Chief Doc sez to me, “If we can explain it to you, that means that we understand it.”

    Several times after HOURS of chalking and talking, they would reach a mental box canyon, and Chief Doc, would impatiently toss the chalk into the bin at the bottom of the blackboard, and he would say, “To Hell with Science — let’s go and make a lab measurement.”

    Moral: “Real-World Practical Realizations of ‘Stuff’ will always differ from thoroughly over-considered Pure Science.”

    If you’re lucky, and intuitive, and have The Knack, you will take three parts Science and one part “cut & try” and get Results that will stun your colleagues. Serendipity applies if courted.

    (Dilbert’s treatment of The Knack.)

    The Knack can’t be completely taught — some of it is in your DNA. Or not.
    It CAN be enhanced and improved via Education and Experience.

    I have been very fortunate to have been exposed to all the things I have along the way.

    – 73 –

      • Wish I could claim scathing creative brilliance, but, no.

        I did some reading, and concluded three things about end-feds.

        1) Since one needs (for best results) TWO high-up end-point support points for most wire antennas, having the feed line at or near the center is ugly, and the heavy weight of the feedline makes the antenna droop unless considerable tension is used. High tension increases the stress and likelihood of failure due to branches falling and ice loads. It’s better — happier – to feed at the end, AT one of the support points. (Trees in my case: I got a lot of ’em.)

        2) Best results happen when the toroid ferrite core of the end-feeding RF transformer comes nowhere remotely close to core saturation. A one-kilowatt-capable feed matcher is good for a 100 watt class transmitter. Over-driven cores get hot, and hot cores fail. KW-capable end-feed transformers are heavy, and having them at one end makes support trivial. Hot cores also get lossy.

        3) Making a high-turns-ratio torroid is a pain in the butt, and most ordinary people are better off buying an end-fed antenna rather than building one. I have also come to believe there is a tiny bit of Deep Lucky Black Magic in the most effective and efficient end-feds, and one maker, “” makes very good ones. A couple of others I tried were quite obviously inferior.

        Once again, Real World physical interpretation, with Mystik Fortunate Tweaks, out-perform Perfect Science.

    • “The Knack can’t be completely taught — some of it is in your DNA. Or not.
      It CAN be enhanced and improved via Education and Experience.”

      Hmm the knack… you mean an American man … born and raised by American parents…
      You have noticed that instructions sent with a piece of equipment.. first has Spanish, Japanese, russian,etc.. then a half po age in English ( this is for the women) then some pictures. An American man sees the equipment and instantly knows how it works etc..tosses the box and the instructions meant for European men aside…
      Hmm what are all these extra parts. Thenyouask the woman that has been reading the Instructions.

    • Any excuse for a fish fry! I wouldn’t complain and I don’t think TP&W would have anything to say about sizes on the fallout.

    • The photo caption is very small type is as follows:

      “Pictured: Fishermen from Crucita Beach in Manabi, Ecuador, on July 7, 2021 spend the night and early morning fishing.”

      Boy howdy, it would be strange and apocalyptic if it rained Ecuadorian fish and fisherman in Texarkana, TX.

    • speaking of Woo Woo… I have a top.. nice top long sleeve.. went to put it on last night.. and it is short sleeve.. no one cut it off either.. I was going to ask the wife about it this morning.. pulled it out and it was long sleeve..

      • I had the same thing happen – and it’s evidence of a change of pathing in the MWI. This will sound nuts, but if you understand Many Worlds, here’s what happens.

        I have TWO Hallicrafters ham rigs. One SX-101 in working condition, one as a spare parts radio.

        Then we move ahead 3-months and we split onto a different timeline.

        Now there is still ONE radio in the storeroom, but not the other. I mean WTF, right?

        You likely experienced the same thing. It’s sad and wrong but occasionally, the mind of people earlier in the timeline is not COMPLETELY erased/changed/.over-written. When this happens, we are left with the quandary: Was the recalled history correct?

        This (AND more) on Peoplenomics this week or next as an interview with Martin Keller is ahead…

    • Seen it several times, and it’s not woo-able.

      This happens when a violent updraft or a tornado hits a body of water with fish in it. The most-interesting time, I happened to be 16 miles from the nearest body of water (a small river.) The fish were the size of guppies, but were sure-enough alive, and it sure enough “rained” them…

    • G____: Is the remaining rig the working one, or the parts rig? If you lost the working transceiver, then you got a discerning multi-dimensional hoodoo raiding your storeroom. Time to add more alarms.

  2. About the only thing SLAVMERICA gotz going for it anymore – hams.

    Illegal vax attackz mandates…Our Vote is a F-ing joke – IT DOES NOT COUNT against anything..You have the right in this country to have Ure Vote STOLEN, outright, like 2021 or gerrymandered over time – still the same result.

    Besides the leftist WOKE joke Americans – who VOTED for these IDIOTS? hell demoncrats wouldnt even vote for kaMANala in primary.

    briben not aware of ANYTHING, kaMANala even dimmer, and then this drunk peloser ?!?!

    If OUR/URE vote really counted for something- anything, WE simply would NOT Be Allowed to Vote .

    Sick and F-ing tired of all the Filth, Malfeasance, and unmitigated Greed in corporate america, presidency, congress/senate, NOT supremes in ANY Human endevour?

    Yeah – Happy F-ing New Year sheeps – count how many times Ure fleeces being shorn 24/7/365 in 2022

    Renounce US Citizenship, renounce onerous Tax systems, renounce a Govt that only servs-workx for the 5% moneid elite ??

    NOPE- NADA- NYET – YOU CAN NOT Renounce US Citizenship – No Interviews being granted at misState dept for past 2 years – We ARE now IMPRISONED – SLAVES – cant make this scheisse up.

    Ure can have all the FREE MONEY-USD U want -PLEASE, Thank You!

    No BTC 4 Uncle Ure Tom , not Federal reserve, bankrupt Treasury..what they gonna raise TAXES on moar fake MONEY for backstop?bwahahahahahahah
    U funny!

    Keep printing geniuses…its bound to work..somewhere, in some future timeline.

    • this was at the bottom of the page..

      “Low Life AOC is so busy she needs a vacation, and she only votes by Proxy…. what a joke.

      Most of them do that.. what the illusion is .. is that they are there working.. when in fact they are not in DC or at work.. the average congressman works under two hundred hours a year.. less than a month of eight hour shifts for the average working poor in America.. just like the Veterans hospitals.. you keep a skeleton staff on hand to give the illusion that they are there.. put up a you tube video of some SH talking to no one at all except the paper shuffler that you see in the back ground..
      with billions being paid to keep them happy.. with anything their hearts desire.. the office staff is suppose to run the show but we all know how that goes to.. when the cats away…
      what needs to be done is make them punch a time clock.. what was it one presidential candidate was in congress and missed two thirds of his time there.. so he was he at work less than a week?
      If you were a country.. you had lobbyists paid to keep them happy and get things passed that you want americans to do.. when would you strike?
      Remember when lobbyists had most of democratic congess at some resort while the country shut down… that is when I would wait till they were all at some god forsaken resort for a fact finding mission.. then COG would be at your fingertips to control or stop.. the rest that didn’t go would be gone from DC..
      My guess it was laughed off of the floor just like the Read the bills act..
      My god they don’t have time to read a hundred thousand pages LOL LOL in a week.. I think that is why they table the dead horse issues.. they can keep them going on the campaign stump.. drag that dead horse around a little bit..

      3years and 17 days of this cluster F@@K administration.. may we all pray that we survive it in one piece.. the truly sad part is I don’t think the economy will.. the three hundred per child incentive ends real soon..
      Now I am curious.. George Bush Jr.. he danced… Barack Obama.. He danced to show the people that things were under control.. now can Joe Dance.. he says he can do a push up.. but can he dance to show americans that it is alright he is in charge.. you know get up and do a little shimmy shunga on the stage.. a john travolta saturday night move or two lol..
      get up here young lady.. you smell like your 18 LOL LOL

  3. Yesterday here at El Ranch de Chaos with the wind , sneet (snow, sleet, whatever) my recent repair of the old Dipole where I was chastised by the wife for violating my Dr’s orders regarding O2 therapy and the use of a 24′ extension ladder failed taking me off the air once again. Guess I’ll be reconstructing the whole shebang probably by next spring.
    May I offer some of my experience with the attached grow room you are building? The idea is sound but unless you are using hydroponic or soilless methods your results may not be as you expected. As you were advised the overall aesthetics may be nice from the outside but from the inside will be totally different. Views will be blocked and distorted by whatever gets put in the grow spaces and any hanging planters that will inevitably appear while any soil-based humidity caused condensation will distort whatever you see through the covering. Not to mention any uninvited insectoids who happen to hitch a ride in on your medium.
    Ours, 32 x 16, was a lot of fun the first winter spring. The wife and I would sit in there and enjoy what was growing and have coffee etc. Not so long after the weather turned towards summer the house was suddenly filled with Fungus Nats that came in with the potting mediums we used to fill the grow spaces. That and the constant dripping of condensation on the inside of the panes was not fun even with the ventilation. So by fall the grow beds were taken out and carpeted with the space being decorated as a sunroom.
    Not so much this year but I will be back to spending time in the detached green houses, both 18 X32. One is dedicated to in ground crops while the other is all hydro. I am looking at those earth anchors you used when it will be time to relocate these hoop houses though. Much easier than pounding pipes into the ground.

    Stay safe. Peace

  4. “25F and scattered snow by 5:15 AM.” -24F here this morning and just came off of 10 days of wind, snow, and no sun. That’s sweat shirt weather around these parts of the Rockies! Happy New Year to Ure entire clan!

  5. Ferrite COAX clip-ons for antenna isolation can be found for under a buck apiece at surplus liquidators like this:
    Five or six of these will provide the line isolation needed to keep the RF from coming back down your coax outer conductor. Lots cheaper than a ‘commercially constructed’ line isolator. I have a Buckmaster OCFD with the 3kw balun. Five ferrites clipped to the line just below that. Fifty feet further down the line, where it enters the house, are five more ferrites clipped on. There is NO RF feedback into my shack, and the antenna seems to work just great.

  6. “The “red-flag” will be on for a week, or better. Not only is there the matter of black oil-based exterior paint (you can’t put latex over an oil-based stain and the stain had better be cured first when you put on an oil-based…)”

    Build a solar kiln:

    It should probably be 25′ long.
    Prefab the frame.
    Erect half (~12′) inside.
    Throw a tarp or Visqueen over the half-frame.
    Heater in one end, fan in the other.
    Place wood on sawhorses — space between rows with scraps.

    It takes about 36hrs to dry stain or harden alkyd paint or varnish.
    I use a salamander and heat it to ~170 degrees, then shove the wood in. (Surprisingly I’m finding zero instances of this type of dryer. This is a technique I learned from a New England Master Carpenter who specialized in historic restorations.) After it cools to ambient 2-3 times, the solvent will have flashed-off to the point there’s no fire hazard.

    It is a PITA removing the wood, heating the kiln, then putting the wood back, but for a small-quantity once-every-few-years thing, it works. (If I had a tree farm or were going to dry wood frequently, even if just firewood, I’d build an actual solar kiln.)

    I’ve never done this outside with ambient below 20°F. I have done it inside…

    After spring rolls around, move the kiln outside and add the rest of the framing. If’fn you ever cut your own lumber, you’ll need it.

    “Popular Woodworking” has a decent quickie plan for a DIY solar kiln here:

    but there are lots of others. I like the PW plan, except I’d use Lexan Thermoclear (or generic — that’s the double-wall greenhouse window panels) and have the top-front “window” run from peak to about 6″ above ground. I would not use gravel unless I sealed it (you get too much rain.) I’d also use a thermal-powered fan like this: if I could find one that’d operate at a sufficiently low temperature (140°F / 60°C minimum, 130/55 would be better) so as to make the kiln a “set & forget” tool…

    • Ray
      My brother power washed exterior trim originally covered with an oil based stain, covered it with an oil based primer primer and painted it with a self priming latex. It is doing just fine.

      The building itself had some rotten siding which he replaced with new wood boards and consequently was forced to repaint the building. He power washed it but did not use the primer because it was too expensive. Big mistake, huge. He used the self priming latex. It began peeling almost immediately. Here’s the weird part, the new wood also peeled.

      My theory is that the new wood peeled because he had it milled from a beech tree that fell over in a bad storm. He did not kiln dry it. He simply cut it into three eight foot sections and cut them lengthwise and took the wood to have it milled. His theory was that the tree fell over almost a year prior and was dried out.

      On my own home I’m a big believer in sanding and priming. It doesn’t peel. When we first moved in I skipped the primer. It peeled within a couple of years. Even worse it hid and may have caused rot which I then had to replace with new wood.

  7. “Lately, I’ve been studying up on the LaserTree high power laser add-ons for the low-cost home CNC market.”

    Keep us posted if you take this leap, please. I’ve been thinking about it myself. I’ve passed on both water-jet and laser CNC cutting tables last year, because I don’t have a place to put a tool that big. They DO come up every once in a while, though, usually in the “several hundreds” price range…

  8. Off topic.
    I just finished reading a free ebook from Amazon that Clif mentioned in one of his broadcasts. It’s called The Orea Linda Book From a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century. It is a history of a people who originated from Atlantis. It reads like the New Testament as it talks about laws, the first ancestor (God), culture, and history. It is not a novel but is a quite fascinating read.

  9. Comrades,

    @SecDef has released upon twitterverse seasonal tidings of a positive covid19 result. @SecDef informs of intent to “isolate at home…maintain situational awareness…and retain all authorities”.

    Geez, resume 101 when I went to school was that one was always in “excellent health” and ready to knock it out of the park, otherwise-

    WH staffers are contacting “Broadway Joe” for pointers on protecting the football?

  10. Et tu Ackerman. Hey rick you will probably get this . Mate take a flying leap to fingerland after that garbage today . Apple eh ? Did you remember what you said on disconnects? Yep flying leap

  11. Brain dead carnts . Smashing gold as you sleep off prime beef and piss . Hillbillies . What about the piece of sheet moriarty . Killed so many gold bulls . Piece of sheet turd

  12. here it is for those interested in reading it…
    and if you want to download it..

    I actually have this in my ebook library..
    if you want to buy it..
    I use to have a copy in print.. but the wife made me clean out the garage so she could park in the garage.. I did keep some of my books though..keep them hidden away from her sight otherwise she will make me give them to the library or trash them LOL..
    the libraries and colleges all around the globe have hundreds of thousands of books available.. except YALE… LOL yale has never been on to open the library.. Haavad use to be like that but not so much anymore.. there was always a back way into the library..MIT opened the doors.. to any classes to.. want to study something.. you can.. you just won’t get any credit for it..

    • “want to study something.. you can.. you just won’t get any credit for it..”

      Not necessarily true.

      Any fully-accredited college or university can administer a final exam from any course in the MIT (or Harvard, or Columbia, or whomever…) undergrad catalogue. My college nearest currently charges $95 to administer an MIT final. Take the final, get pass/fail (A or F) credit for the course from the school which provided the course.

      THIS is one of the dirty little secrets I cut kiddies in on, because it enables an enterprising person to get a breathtakingly expensive college education for dirt cheap, and have a baccalaureate diploma which says “Harvard” or “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” on it. If there are classes someone HAS to take onsite (like a nurse practicum), they can take them from a community or junior college (make sure in advance that the credits transfer to the “big boy schools”) for roughly 1/6 the cost of even a tiny college.

  13. Check yer specs, G.

    Paint tech has come a long way in the last 30 years. They have worked out the whole oil vs latex thing.

    I have had zero issues using latex over oil based.

    • Latex over alkyd has always been doable and easy — as long as the oil-based whatever is completely dry.

      Oil over latex is less-easy because the water vehicle doesn’t all flash off. Some of it penetrates the wood and that causes the paint to be “not-quite-dry” along its bonding area, for a substantial period of time. Painted over with an alkyd, the oil seals that moisture in, and will eventually cause the paint to peel & sheet off…

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