Archives

All posts by NicholasW

In a singlewide trailer (read: No accessible attic and rafters only every 3-4 feet).

I cut a hole where I wanted the fan, which is fortunately right next to one of the rafters.

I cut a hole where I wanted the fan, which is fortunately right next to one of the rafters.

The first hole ended up not being big enough.  See in this photo the 1x4 that has been screwed to the rafter.

The first hole ended up not being big enough. See in this photo the 1×4 that has been screwed to the rafter.

I kept screwing 1x4s to the one attached to the rafter until the end result was this.

I kept screwing 1x4s to the one attached to the rafter until the end result was this.

That gave me something solid to attach the fan box to:

IMG_4424

Now all the drywall is put back up, the only repairs left are to fill the gaps with drywall compound and then respray the ceiling texture to match before installing the fan.

IMG_4428

This is my extremely low-tech way to dim the very bright backlights that were in my car’s radio.

The back of the radio face

The back of the radio face

After removing the plastic back

After removing the plastic back

This is what I found when I turned it over

This is what I found when I turned it over

See the LEDs on the board?  I painted over them with dark gray equipment paint.

See the LEDs on the board? I painted over them with dark gray equipment paint.

After painting over all the LEDs (there were 15 or so on the board) the lights are still a little on the bright side, but much more tolerable in the dark.

Here are some pictures of the newly built KM4GHM repeater that I am about to put on air in Lebanon.

 

IMG_4639

The (Almost) finished product

I have gutted a Motorola MSF5000 so we could use the case and some of the mounting brackets to hold parts for a completely different machine.

The current version is using a pair of Tait T2020 UHF transceivers for the transmitter and receiver, an ID-O-MATIC IV from Hamgadgets, a Mirage UHF 100w amplifier, 75a wall mount power supply, and a small pass-notch duplexer.  All of this fits easily inside the case from an MSF5000.

Here is is before the amp and with the duplexer laying on top

Here is is before the amp and with the duplexer laying on top

IMG_4618

IMG_4626

So far I am really pleased with the way the Tait radios have been working.  They’re really easy to program with Windows, have great audio quality, and don’t seem to generate too much heat.

The ID-O-MATIC as it arrived in the mail

The ID-O-MATIC as it arrived in the mail

And 45 minutes later, we have this

And 45 minutes later, we have this

I’m also really liking the IDOM.  It was easy enough to put together, has really good instructions for setup and programming, and it’s really easy to program with Windows using puTTY (though I haven’t figured out how to program with mac yet).  It seems to be a highly capable repeater controller for the $39 price tag.  It keys the transmitter when the receiver detects a signal, handles a courtesy tone, IDs, Beacons, time out timer and time out penalty, and fan relay.  I’ve connected the RX and TX audio directly to each other, so they are bypassing the IDOM altogether with just a jumper running to the board for the ID audio.  I’m handling the encode/decode tones in the transmitter and receive radios.  The only issue I have found with the IDOM is that when I was powering it via the 12v power supply there was a strong hum behind all audio coming through the board.  This was cured by powering it through the USB port.  It’s possible that the issue was my power supply or the wire I was using.

We’ll be driving the amplifier with just enough power to get between 40 and 50 watts out so as not to overwhelm the duplexer and to help with heat inside the repeater.

It’ll be attached to a Comet GP9 antenna (9.9db gain on UHF) with 100′ of LMR400 when it goes on air.

 

wcrl-header1

Field Day is a time when amateur radio operators from all over come together and set up their portable radio equipment, typically on alternate power.  Field day is the largest single amateur radio event of the year and has been celebrated by…  Read More  Courtesy KK4WAO, Wilson County Radio League

 

 

fground

 

Blue X is where we are set up at the Wilson County Fairgrounds for field day.  Green roads are where you need to drive to park close to us, the red areas have all been blocked off by other people that have set up in the roads.

The Lebanon Police Department is looking for the suspects pictured below.  They were seen on video surveillance breaking into a business, taking items, and vandalizing vehicles on the tow lot around 2am Monday morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact LPD at 615.443.2832.

header

Anyone that follows this blog regularly may have noticed a new page at the top titled “Wilson County Radio League”.  The Wilson County Radio League is Lebanon’s newest amateur radio club, and one that I have a significant amount of involvement with.

If you have an interest in auxiliary communications, a desire to improve your communication and technical skills, and a desire to serve your community, the Wilson County Radio League may be for you.

They’re still getting started, but I’m hoping to see regular exercises and events being planned in the near future to give all of the members hands-on training and actual practice, which is good for the individual and good for the group.  Some of this training would include things like foxhunts, simulated weather emergencies, standard radio protocol, logging practices (Including computer logging) etc.

If there is any interest in such an organization, I would highly recommend checking out the link at the top of this page to read more about them.

Questions can be addressed to the Wilson County Radio League through their website, or directly to me in the comments (or the contact form on this site).

 

Here are some pictures of the finished stand up desk, including a working keyboard tray:

IMG_5216

IMG_5215

IMG_5219

A couple of our contributors will be attending this year’s Severe Weather Awareness Day in Nashville. It’s a free event, but registration is required.  It’s Saturday, 28 February, from 9am-4pm.  Anyone interested can register at this link.

I don’t know if attending a basic spotter class is a requirement to attend this event, but if not required it is strongly recommended.  Spotter classes (both online and in person) are available at this link.  Even if you don’t attend S.W.A.D., now is a good time to take the basic spotter class.  There are a LOT of them scheduled this time of year, and they’re few and far between after storm season starts.

swad2015_main

We’ve mostly finished the cleaning up, and have moved onto organizing things and making repairs/improvements as necessary.  I’m also taking pictures/video as I go to eventually replace the video posted on our home page.

Here’s an update as to some of the things I’ve been doing, but that I don’t have enough pictures of for individual posts:

Built a 445MHz Slim-Jim to use for a repeater

Built a 445MHz Slim-Jim to use for a repeater

Built a PVC tower standoff (which I ended up not needing, but I'll keep it around for future use)

Built a PVC tower standoff (which I ended up not needing, but I’ll keep it around for future use)

Installed a 2m radio in the "new" 1994 Marquis

Installed a 2m radio in the “new” 1994 Marquis

Replacing the upper ball joints on aforementioned 1994 Grand Marquis.

Replacing the upper ball joints on aforementioned 1994 Grand Marquis.

IMG_3726

IMG_3728

At the same time the upper ball joints were replaced, I also replaced the lower ball joints, outer tie rod ends, idler arm, stabilizer bar links, and one stabilizer bar bushing.  I had almost every automotive tool we own out before this was all said and done.

This is what it looks like when I work on a car...

This is what it looks like when I work on a car…

Also picked up this mobile darkroom.  More at a later date on this.

Also picked up this mobile darkroom. More at a later date on this.

LEBANON, TN

The Lebanon Police Department is asking for help identifying three females and two males that are suspected on two occasions of stealing computers from the Lebanon Walmart.

Both times, they left in a dark colored Dodge Charger and a dark colored Nissan Altima.  If you recognize any of the suspects in the pictures below, call the Lebanon Police Department detective division at 615.443.2832.

10933759_945724078784590_3812962570675556326_n

Here are some pictures of Scott’s new fully-adjustable computer desk, suitable for both sitting in a chair or standing in front of.

 

The frame

The frame

Heavy-duty drawer slides hold the sliding carriage that supports everything.

Heavy-duty drawer slides hold the sliding carriage that supports everything.

The back

The back

The monitor shelf mounted

The monitor shelf mounted

Keyboard and monitor shelves both mounted

Keyboard and monitor shelves both mounted

IMG_5164

IMG_0699

Every now and then, we have to put most projects on hold for a few days in order to clean and reorganize areas that have been neglected.  This tends to happen mostly in the winter, because everyone limits the amount of time spent outside working on such things.

Needless to say, that’s the biggest thing I’ve been working on recently, so here are a few pictures of the current progress.

The workshop

The workshop

It's getting there...

It’s getting there…

IMG_3747

Indoor work space

Indoor work space

The media lab

The media lab

The lounge

The lounge

We’re making progress.  More to come later.

If you have a 1992-1996 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car, or possibly others with a Ford 4.6L engine, these instructions are valid.

These cars have an EGR passage along the back of the throttle body that is know to frequently fill up with carbon deposits.  Usually the only symptom of this is a huge decrease in fuel economy, though it’s possible for this to cause a lack of power and/or check engine light.

It’s easy to clean, but in a tight area.  Here are some pictures showing where this passage is and what it looks like:

Here's the area we're focusing on.

Here’s the area we’re focusing on.

There are 8 bolts - 4 up here, the other four are indicated by the arrows.  Remove them, and this whole assembly comes off.

There are 8 bolts – 4 up here, the other four are indicated by the arrows. Remove them, and this whole assembly comes off.

Here's the removed gasket with a lot of carbon deposits caked onto it.

Here’s the removed gasket with a lot of carbon deposits caked onto it.

This is the passage that needs cleaned.

This is the passage that needs cleaned.

The only good way I know of the clean this passage is with a screwdriver and a shop vac.  Scrape the carbon out while the shop vac is running down there to keep it from falling down into the intake.  After the big pieces are removed, you can clean it with a small brush and either throttle body cleaner or carb cleaner.  There is also a tube that runs from the left side of this passage into the EGR valve – it’s not a bad idea to clean that out as best you can while it’s accessible.  A stiff wire can be run through that tube to knock as much as is possible loose, again using the shop vac.

These gaskets can generally be reused, but if for some reason they don’t seal new gaskets can be purchased for under $1 through the internet.  I keep several on hand and just replace them anytime I have it apart.

Here is a picture of a ceramic tile heat shield I installed behind a woodstove.  It’s not done in this picture, but I took it because it shows every stage of the job.  The drywall was cut out where the tile was going to go, a backer board was installed in the hole, and then the tiles were attached to the backer board.  The only thing not done here (aside from the obvious) is the grout, which is the easiest part.

IMG_3396

The Police Versions of a Crown Victoria came with a large round dome light between the visors that had both a red and white setting.  Mine kept coming off, I never used the red setting, and one of the three bulbs was blown, so I completely removed the light and got rid of it.  That only posed a problem when I went to sell the car – most people don’t want a large hole drilled through their headliner.  I covered it up with the factory dome light that comes in a civilian version of a Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, or Town Car.  All I had to do was install it backwards and it fits perfectly.  The colors even match, so it looks factory.

IMG_3589

This one was a whole lot more involved than the last dome light I converted.  Overall, I don’t think this one was worth the effort.  It was over an hours work and didn’t really make the car any brighter.

Here are some pictures:

IMG_3634

Partly illuminated

Partly illuminated

Full power, but not yet installed

Full power, but not yet installed

For reference, here is a link to the last one.  It was worth doing – the style of dome light made it a lot easier to make this modification, and it was significantly brighter than the factory light.

There’s not much to this job.  In fact, if it weren’t for the face that I needed a 36mm deep well socket, this could be done completely with standard hand tools.

The only trick is that the large nut in the wheel bearing must be removed while the wheel is contacting the ground, but the weight of the car should NOT be on it.  So put a jack under the car and lift until the wheel barely contacts the ground before taking that nut off.

Nut is already removed in this picture.

Nut is already removed in this picture.

The brakes need replaced to.  I did that while I had them off.  After the caliper is off, the rotor and hub assembly slide right off.

The brakes need replaced to. I did that while I had them off. After the caliper is off, the rotor and hub assembly slide right off.

This is with the brakes, hub assembly and bearing all removed.

This is with the brakes, hub assembly and bearing all removed.

New hub assembly, which includes a bearing

New hub assembly, which includes a bearing

New rotor slid on over it

New rotor slid on over it

At this point, the caliper goes back on, the wheel is put on, and the car is lowered again until the wheel barely contacts the ground.  The large nut in the center of the wheel needs torqued to about 238 ft-lbs.

I did both sides in about an hour.  Since I ordered the parts online for both bearings and brakes, I saved about $550 versus having a shop do this job. I do recommend paying a good shop for an alignment after a job like this – If there was damage to the bearings that made them wear out, it could have knocked other parts out of line as well.

I saw this homemade tow bar at a junkyard and took some pictures of it.  It’s built out of much heavier steel and supported better than most of the ones I have seen in use.

 

IMG_3086

IMG_3087

IMG_3089

IMG_3090

IMG_3091

IMG_3093I don’t know what sent this car to the junkyard, but it definitely wasn’t failure of the tow bar.

Rutherford County, TN

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department is seeking assistance in identifying these three males, suspects in a series of break ins in the northern part of the county (Jefferson Pk/Walter Hill area).

If you have any information, contact Detective Kyle Norrod with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department at 615-904-3043.

Editor’s Note
This is not related to the previous post with a similar title. While both happened in the same area, these are different suspects and I don’t believe the cases are related.

IMG_3613.PNG

IMG_3614.PNG

IMG_3615.PNG

Rutherford County, TN

Officials are seeking help In identifying the person in these pictures.

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department said the person pictured is suspected of being involved in several burglaries in Rutherford, Davidson, and Wilson counties.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Randy Groce with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department at 615-904-3049.

Editors Note
These subjects seem to be driving a 2000-2007 model Ford Taurus, probably gold in color (but could be silver). Possibly recently involved in an attempted break in in Wilson County near the Rutherford County line.

IMG_3605.PNG

IMG_3606.PNG

IMG_3608.PNG

IMG_3607.PNG

IMG_3612.PNG

IMG_3611.PNG

IMG_3610.PNG

EzGo golf cart motor tear down

Screenshot 2014-11-20 at 09.13.04 PM

People that read regularly will notice that I am working on a series of posts on what to carry in a car.  I did this because I’m often asked what I carry for emergency gear and what I recommend others carry.  Basically, I think about what I would want if I had to spend the night in my car due to adverse weather conditions, as well as what I could use in the way of tools and spare parts, and keep those items in the car.  The reason for the series of posts instead of one is that I don’t feel like writing a post that long, nor do I think most people would read a post that long. It also gives me the opportunity to explain how some items could be utilized in more detail than I otherwise would. Anyway, moving on…

I recommend everyone that commutes any distance or drives regularly in adverse conditions carry a change of clothes, blanket or sleeping bag, and an extra pair of shoes or boots.

To give a person an idea of what I’m talking about, in addition to a change of clothes (including long pants, because shorts don’t count), I carry the following:

  • Gloves
  • Stocking cap
  • Extra socks (2-3 pairs)
  • Small toiletries bag (toothbrush/toothpaste, some soaps, razor and shaving cream, etc.)
  • Tennis shoes
  • Blanket
  • I also carry a set of BDUs, which includes
    • Trousers/blouse
    • Tan undershirt
    • Thick socks
    • Boots
    • Belt
    • A heavy coat
    • Hat (more properly referred to as a “Cover”

The BDUs fit loosely enough that they could be worn over my other set of spare clothes, which would be ideal if it were really cold and I were stuck somewhere, or outside having to work on something.

In the cold months, I also keep a sleeping bag in the trunk.  Depending on where you drive to and how often, it might not be a bad idea to carry a small folding cot or air mattress.   Hotels are nice, but you can’t always get to one.  If your work or school has a place you can camp, you have a nearby friend or family member, or you drive a van/truck with a topper, a cot could make your night a lot more comfortable.

IMG_3157

Wool blanket in a plastic bag.  Wool is good because it's warm even if it gets wet, and it doesn't take up much space.

Wool blanket in a plastic bag. Wool is good because it’s warm even if it gets wet, and it doesn’t take up much space.

See other posts with items I recommend carrying in a car.  Click on the tag Roadside Emergency Kit.

The things I’ll list here may easily be the most used items I carry with me, except a few basic tools.  They aren’t things needed only in an emergency, but that are useful all the time.  For that reason, I keep them in the car itself, and not the trunk.  The molded plastic holder was given to me, but similar ones can be purchased from the online store Galls.  They are primarily geared toward police use, to hold frequently needed items in the passenger seat.

 

IMG_3164

In here, I have:

  • Small notebooks and pens
  • Clipboard with plenty of paper and a pen
  • Extra hand sanitizer and sunblock
  • Some local road maps, one of Wilson County and another of Tennessee.  They aren’t too detailed, but would be good enough if you were lost and could find a main road.
  • Owners Manual for the car
  • Flashlight (one of many.  Plenty of flashlights are good to have.  I have one better light, and several $0.99 flashlights from Tractor Supply.
  • Poncho (Used almost as much as the flashlight)
  • Reflective Vest
  • A hat to keep sun off.  It helps with rain too, if it’s not too heavy.