ShopTalk Sunday: The 20-Minute Paint Shaker & uBitx 6

Well-rested, we are fit to tackle the day with the persistently long To-Do list.  Still, one of my items on the list got done Saturday and it only took about 20-minutes.  A Paint Can Shaker.

Patience is not Mr. Ure’s strong suit.  Like most on this prison planet, while we’re all milling around for the exit-call, there’s no point in wasting time (or energy) on things that prevent the adventure from continuing.

Shaking paint cans for small projects is one such delay.  Most spray cans that have been sitting a while call for 1-3 minutes of “shake vigorously.”  At 72, if there’s something to “shake vigorously” I assure you it is not a paint can.

Sure, you can Buy an electric paint can shaker.  Take one like the Amazon offering of a Astro Pneumatic Tool AIR Operated Paint Shaker (AST-4550) for $154-and change – looked interesting.  Thing is, that requires firing off an air compressor to run it.  Hoses… Electric units are up in the $450 range.  And the small once?  We can make those ourselves being capable home-handy-bastards, and such.

After a quick surf of Youtube to get ideas, I decided on a simple “bar/squeeze-clamp” shaker.  All I would need would be a battery powered small Sawz-All type unit for power, a squeeze clamp, and some time patiently grinding (with an N100 mask on since silicosis is not our friend…).

Down at the far-end of the Irwin 12 inch clamp there’s a steel rivet.  As you grind down the far end, you can pop out the remains of this rivet and you’ll have a nice hole.

Clamp in hand, you grab your 6-inch calipers and a good zip-saw (or saber saw with a locking shank and step to the grinder…

Plan on spending 20-minutes, or so, of grinding and measuring to take the bar stock end of the clamp and grind it into something approaching the look of that saw tang.

You’ll want to grind carefully, too, since going “hard and fast” generates sparks and lots of heat.  There happened to be a spray can of “Electronic Circuit Cooler” which gets used at the lathe and milling machine, on occasion, but a cup of dowsing water works OK, too.

The thickness of the bar stock was over 3 mm and what I was after was 1.7 MM, or so.  A fair bit of grinding.

Took a Sharpie and shaded in the cut-out to leave the pointy tang, too.

After 20-minutes of grinding, I was there.

A few touches with a bastard file and it was “close-enough for shop use.”

All that was left was to stick a spray can of paint into the squeeze clamp and take it outside under the lean-too and let ‘er rip:

Sadly, Mr. Photography had forgotten to slow down the exposure – but as shown the can is going back-and-forth at an insane speed.  A minute in the shake and this bad boy was ready for use:

I tested it on cans up to the 1-quart size and it is just great.  And the bonus is that at the expense of the clamp being an inch and a bit shorter than normal, the clamp is still useable for its original purpose.

This is an ideal “quickie” project.  One that will build an even hand at the grinder and which will save time manually shaking cans in the future.  Plus, once thoroughly shaken the paint comes out more consistently leading to a better finish on subsequent projects.

What’s not to like?  If you don’t have a grinder?  You might be able to do the grinding with a Dremel.  Or, if you want to pretend you’re planning a prison break, you could sit in your living room chair with a catch rag and file it all down by hand, like you would with one-off gun parts.

uBitx Review/Build

Possibly the best $209 ham radio ever built?

The later than planned arrival of  HFSignal’s newest spin on their uBitx 6.1 transceiver open source project didn’t leave me time assemble and write a column this morning.

But, refreshingly, there’s a Youtube video here Building the v6.1 Micro BITX from India (#251) – YouTube:

There were some minor differences in packing as my unit came in.  Board was in its own box.  The order information is over here.

A Perfect Prepping Radio?

This gets to be an interesting discussion.  Because during normal/peacetime you need a general class license to operate this radio over the legal portions of its band coverage.  There are places (and modes) though where a Technician class ham can use the radio.  Like Morse code?

The receiver lacks just four things to make it the “deal of a lifetime.”

  1. The radio is a 3-30 MHz rig.  That means no operation on 160 meters.  Not a big deal, since 160 meter (just above the AM broadcast band) is fraught with high noise most of the time.  Good winter DX (distance) sometimes.  But the lower the frequency, the longer a full-sized antenna becomes.  And how many people can string up 250-feet of wire roughly in a line and well elevated?  It also doesn’t cover the six meter ham band where more Code-Free Tech privileges exist.
  2. The rig is sensitive to SWR (standing wave ratio, indicating a mis-matched antenna).  It would be great for someone to come out with a small automatic antenna tuner.  I have a kit – they can be found on eBay for around $60 but the documentation is nearly non-existent.
  3. The radio doesn’t have an AM receive mode to speak of.  Fine for low-power digital (FT-8) and single sideband (voice) and Morse.  BUT if life ever returns to the shortwave bands (when the internet goes down) it would be grand if there were ways to  hear AM stations.  If the receiver was good down as low as the bottom of the AM broadcast band, that would be a huge bonus.
  4. Last – and we will get into this down the road a bit – there’s the matter of not having a nice audio-derived AGC  system.  On a radio like this, the weak stations will sound weak and the strong stations very strong.  On a high-end (read Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood from the Japanese, Elecraft, Ten-Tec, and DZ Kits) all the signals come out of the speaker with similar apparent volume.  Mainly what changes is the signal-to-noise if you listen to the “quiet spaces between words.”

By the way, I am looking at some day building a DZ Kits Sienna because I have a distinct preference for analog sounding radios.

Off to spend an hour on assembling a new time sink!

Write when you get rich,

33 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: The 20-Minute Paint Shaker & uBitx 6”

  1. George,
    What if you just cut the end off an old saw blade and pop-riveted it to the clamp bar? Easier peezier.

    • That’d be faster but I wanted a really strong attachment. Most blades are thin for this kind of thing. I think my cobble worked at 1.5 mm and the blade was around 1 mm…

    • I’d tend to go with a used heavy saw blade and just weld it to the clamp. It’s more reliable than pop rivets and probably quicker too. Eventually I’d expect the blade attachment at the saw to fail from metal fatigue, but I have plenty of old blades – I often use the longer ones for impromptu sheetrock saws. The idea of the can shaker is brilliant – I’ll probably make one for my son-in-law, since he’s always working with spray cans.

      • Read the site thoroughly. Reminds me of where TenTec would be if they were still in business. There are persisting efforts to resurrect it, but so far have come to naught. Also rumors persist of a new buyer for Radio Shack dangling his toes in the water. Same guy is thinking of acquiring Peer 1, the rumor has it.


  2. I bought the earlier version of that radio and found it useless because strong AM radio interference that bled into everything else. It went back into a box.

    Maybe not a big deal out in the woods…

    Good idea on the paint shaker!

    • Yeah – strong AM bcst stations were/are an issue – but the discussion group has lots of small traps and fixes discussed. Ur right – no issues out here – nor would there be with grid/power down.

    • I built an earlier uBitx (V2 or V3). There is a small accessory filter board available from somebody for putting in an AM Broadcast cutoff filter. I put that hack in mine. The generic transistors used everywhere in the transceiver (2N3904?) are not optimal at the higher frequencies, and the power output falls off to only a couple watts at 10 meters. I have some replacement RF transistors for another hack to install that will keep output up to a full 10 watts across the bands. And there is also an AGC hack available to level out the audio output. Just gotta do the research. I have lots of mods I want to do to mine… as soon as I get the ’round tuit’.

      I built a QRP tuner for it, and a wire antenna kit. I built this thing because I wanted a small, portable, battery powered rig I could use in an emergency. We have regular interIsland nets on 40 meters here and I wanted something for neighbor island communications.

      Now I’m wondering if I want to hack and improve my old one, or just start over with the new Version 6. Gotta look into it. This is all your fault, George!

      • Hi Hank – built it and put it on my rhode sym01 and although frequency cal was off a few KHz – the sens on receiver is down in that .1 to .15 uv range.
        Not an ideal dx rig, but 6 is a pretty nice radio after a little touchup of the metal work so screws would fit gently.
        Good idea to ground the case but a slick little radio.
        If there was a filter xtal count incrrease 8 poles now in 6.1 thinking..then 200 bucks is still a steal.
        Send me specs on the new finals?

      • It wasn’t new finals… it was higher gain transistors in the driver stages. Now I gotta dig the box and find where I got the info. It was one of the common hacks discussed on the site ‘back then’.

      • The Broacast band filter is a small board by VK4PLN, with info found here:

        Fixing the power roll off at higher frequencies involves replacing the first RF transistor with a BFR106, and the next stage replacing two 2N3904 with a single 2N5109. In the third (driver) stage replace the four 2n3904 with four 2N2222. I will email you my schematic annotated with these changes. (Have not found the link, yet, but the schematic should be adequate)

        The other thing that helps much is keeping the final PA voltage up at 13.8 volts, even if the input sags. I found a small 2A ‘boost’ board that can be set at 13.8v output and maintains that even if the input voltage sags. So it keeps the power output consistent even with a low battery.

    • Thanks Mark.
      Been thinking of picking up a ham radio. Just in case. Not so much for talking but mostly for listening in the event of a situation.

  3. Speaking of working for oneself. A possible stepping stone out of minimum wage. Minimum wage in MI is $9.65/HR.

    One can buy into a budding pizza franchise (26 locations) and go it semi-alone (franchise fees). Note: the pizza game was invented in the 1950’s. I don’t know why anyone would go agaisnt the big dogs today. Can’t be many new angles in the game.

    Ask is $40,000 with a $15,000 buy-in. For 15K the buyer gets:

    – A well equipped pizza shop. No equipment list provided.
    – The rent is currently $1250/mo but will return to $1860/mo after covid.
    – Sales are around $5000.00 per week
    – Fixed costs (Rent, utility, etc) are about $1000 per week.
    – Corporate goal food cost of 36 percent.
    – Labor per week is $1800.00 w/a manager covering every shift at $15 per hour.

    No mention of the franchise fee.

  4. Local Kable had a story the other day about a learning-disabled Down’s Syndrome fellow about 19 years old. He loves pickles. He learned how to put up pickles in glass jars.

    Got himself a strong-as-nails super heavy-duty pickle slicer that has many blades, guillotine style, that looks like it was made by a blacksmith in the year 1790. A local restaurateur helps him out in finding some of the more exotic needs, and “buying right.”

    Also, the local sanitarian consulted and helped him adjust his kitchen to the job so he didn’t need to buy time in a registered big-shot commercial kitchen, and he meets sanitary specs, officially.

    He will do just under a million, gross, this year, and expects to make a nice profit. He has placement in regional supermarkets in the “local specialties” section. He delivers in his car, and does his own “facing” on the shelves.

    A one-man band.

    When asked why he does this, he says, “I like pickles.”

    Nobody needs to settle for minimum wage. Nobody.

    • I make awesome pickles.. seen how to do it on the show how its made…
      I couldn’t ever figure out just what my mother did.. she always had the best pickles.. then it dawned on me when watching how its made.. she would wash cut and brine them in a crock..
      on the show how its made.. they sterilize the jars put the pickles in after cutting the two ends off..( I didn’t know this but the flower end has an enzyme in it) by cutting both ends off you get the brine throughout the pickle.. then the jars go into a vacuum chamber the boiling brine is put in the jar and the lid goes on.. so How I do it.. I get the brining solution.. ( use what you want.. I use a packaged brine Mrs. wages dill pickles..
      boil the pickling spice in the vinegar water.. I put a sprig of dill at the bottom ( onions.. I love pickled onions) a quarter tsp of alum.. (or a grape leave) pour the hot brine in.. and put the lid on then vacuum shut the jar..
      the degassing chamber is the easiest and you get a nice seal.. a really nice seal..
      I also have the sinbo snorkel.. I truly love that one.. I made a big bag snorkel sealing table…. but never use it.. the sinbo is used more than most..
      Now if you want snack pickles.. then I have four ounce bags.. slice a cucumber or whatever you want to pickle.. pickled asparagus is good to.. so are green beans.. anyway slice it.. then put in a quarter cup.. you don’t want anymore than that.. it boils at room temperature and will boil out.. that is where the sinbo comes in handy.. I have that with a moisture trap.. the snack pickles never last though.. everyone is taking them to work or on a shopping run or just with crackers..

  5. Wow..
    It takes a lot to surprise me.. today was one of those days..
    A couple I am acquainted with moved to the PNW…
    Covid displaced them and jobless..
    I hadn’t visited with either of them for over a month and just figured the phone was off..
    Today I noticed the wife was online and said hey it’s good your still around what happened. Phone get shut off..
    NOPE….this is where it gets interesting ..
    In the search for assistance they found someone that said we can help…
    Feeling like heres help.. they took them into the mountains. It was one of those fake groups that don’t
    exist according to authorities..a satanic cult.. torturing the husband and using the wife for sexual rituals..from what I was told he will loose an eye if he survives. So far its touch and go.. has broken bones in his chest from the beatings , punctured muscles and a sliced open eye punctured lung.. after a long time she was able to get loose.. several days till they got to safety. So far that’s all I was told. I skimmed the news to see if it was posted but so far it isn’t.

  6. lots of chatter that israhell is using depleted uranium in bombs . any comment on that george ?

  7. Yo George, still cant read the updated comments for Saturday, Main page states 29 comments, when you go to the comments it only shows 15, must be a glitch in the matrix….

    • My is showing all 29 – might be a browser/setting issue your end? Many of the comments are nested – so you may only see one but if there’s a reply to that and a reply to the reply

      But all present here.

      Also it takes me some time to approve comments – everything is reviewed due to liability issues – and unlike social(ist) media….

      • That’s what’s happening on Friday’s “Alien Economics: Retail Sails and Market Roulette”. I’m using Brave and haven’t dinked with settings at all. Your main page shows 40 comments but the page it points to shows only 13. The 13th’s installment on the main page counts 57 comments but the page it points to shows only 42.

        Personally I figured you had your reasons for allowing/disallowing certain comments and I’ll always bow to your reasoning but if others are asking …

    • Ray
      May 11, 2021 at 22:47

      WordPress is half-broken. Mozilla, with its latest update, is completely broken. I hit every page here which still have posting open, and refresh the page. Then I refresh the front page. Links and counts are then correct.

      The last time this happened, it was a “check/update page” error on George’s side (IIRC with remote serverside caching.) This time, not so much, since I have to use the same workaround with Moz on other sites. One of my browsers is Vivaldi — an Opera-12 clone built on Google Chrome’s engine. Vivaldi “sees” the latest iteration of Urban Survival’s front page, but doesn’t see the updated pages without a refresh.

      The Moz update did several things of which I’m not a fan, especially relegating the [backspace] key to ==>nul. I use a mouse as little as possible, and attempting to hack Mozilla’s control file to restore the [backspace] (back) function was an exercise in futility. I’m anxiously awaiting’s next update…

  8. Note on sudden software issues:

    If it worked, but now it doesn’t, and you changed nothing, the software just puked. If it updated, the update is buggy. If you hit a website with a certain functionality, and it no longer has this functionality, either your web-client changed, or the server’s daemon (or the serverside access & nav rules) changed.

  9. BTW, I just surfed Urban Survival on my laptop. It is running Moz, but a version that’s about six updates old. (The lappy is my GPS device. It is set up to ride in my vehicle on a Havis dock, configged to “just work” because if I NEED Internet access through it, it MUST work, so once configured, all updates were disabled and all push crap, blocked.)

    On that computer George’s sites work as they should. Expired pages auto-refresh, front-page links go where they should, when they should.

    The issue is with our browsers, or with some stupid call Microsoft introduced to their sockets protocol and required the browser programmers to implement.

    There is no issue with Urban Survival or with Peoplenomics.

    ‘Don’t like what you see, yell at the programmers and tell them you want to be paid when you are forced to alphatest their buggy code! See how far that gets you (did I mention the archives at this week… ;-)

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