Many radio hobbyists have a hard time soldering PL-259 connectors onto coax, and for a good reason. Thought I have done it, putting one on with a soldering iron is grueling. It’s next to impossible to get the whole connector hot enough to melt solder and flow down to make a good connection with the braid, so most hams I know don’t even bother trying to solder the braid. It usually works ok, but a connection like that is sketchy at best.

I’ve been using the hot air gun on our new soldering station, and have been amazed. I made a couple cables just for the fun of it!

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The examples above are with RG-8U, No reducers involved. Though it may be hard to see, the finished product has a pretty good connection. It took an impressive amount of solder to fill the connector up, as I got it hot enough to really flow. This is how I will be making cables from now on….

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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I have started building my radio/general electronics toolbox.
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In the future I will write a detailed post on it, but for now I am just going to mention an adapter I made for the kit.

This is a mini-UHF to PL-259 adapter. It is pretty self explanatory, I had a mini-UHF cable, cut it down to jumper size and soldered on a PL-259.
For anyone who works with Motorola equipment, this is pretty much a necessity. Most cables, test equipment and etc will be PL-259/SO-239, wheras your Motorola mobiles will mostly be mini-UHF. This is also good if you need to quickly hook a radio up and have standard antenna and coax.
This is just one of the many adapters the box will have before it’s all said and done.

EzGo golf cart motor tear down

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Recently I bought a pair of coaxial strippers at a hardware store on clearance for $7. This pair usually retails at $20/25.

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They have the basic coax strippers, plus regular wire cutters and strippers. A pretty versatile tool.

It is designed to strip 75 ohm coaxes such as RG-6u, but the sizes are so similar it ought to work for 50 ohm (ham radio) coax E.G. RG-8x.

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To strip your coax, insert the cable into the correct slot, then clamp down firmly on the handles. Spin the rest of the cable around a couple of times to cut the rubber coating, not being so aggressive as to cut the shielding.

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Pull the coax out of the tool, and you now have a nicely stripped cable.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

Here are some pictures of a recent mobile radio installation I did.  It isn’t mounted in the best place for ease of use, but it’s not hard to get to or hear and the bench seat can still be utilized.  The custom brackets are made from various parts of broken CB radios and mounts.  There are still a couple screws and a little excess metal (the part that sticks down below the body of the radio) that needs trimmed off, but it seems to work pretty well.

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photo 2

photo 1

 

Last weekend at a yardsale I picked up the 1993 “get your HAM RADIO license” manual, along with a copper ground rod, for $1. The exams have expired, but looking through it caught my eye on how many useful things are in there. When I started studying for my ham radio license along with a few others at CRL, we went in on the current ARRL ham radio license manual to study with. While I have referenced it for many things, I was not inspired by it’s usefulness. That, and the fact I was in a hurry (12 hrs before the test) led me to use online flashcards and leave the manual for another day.                      The manual I had purchased seemed overwhelming at the time, as well as lacking in the nuts and bolts information I was looking for (namely, how to pass the test and setup a dipole antenna that would allow me to hit the county repeater with my HT)

The opposite seems to be true with the 93 edition.

 

Some nuts and bolt electronics

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Component information

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Some very practical and useful antenna information as well as safety advice

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Basic station components and some coax information

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And lots, lots more

 

I have already referenced it several times for things such as “What is a low pass filter?” and etc. This one will definitely be going on the shelf as a great reference book, and good loaner for people trying to get started into radio.

One more interesting thing, they still had a novice license back then. I’m really not sure when the novice disappeared. I know several older hams who got started with the novice, but with lack of certain capabilities had incentive to promote. Also, something I didn’t know, Morse code was required for the Novice, but not the Tech. Interesting…

During another washer repair, I accidentally cracked the plastic tub surround (AKA the outer tub). The outer tub is fairly easy to break if you have it out, as it is made of pretty thin and brittle plastic.  After searching the internet for hours, I found essentially no useful information on how to fix it, accept to replace the entire tub surround. (About $100, which many washers aren’t worth). I decided to try PVC pipe cement, as it is designed to bond with a very similar material, and is waterproof.

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Below is a picture of my patch. The purple is the PVC primer, while the clear is cement. It may work fine without the primer, however since bonding tightly was the primary tossup, I applied plenty of primer. Many things could have held water in theory, but most of my other ideas would have had bonding difficulties

 

 

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As to the original repair, it went well too, but I did not have enough pictures to make a useful post of it.                                                                                                      The tub patch holds water perfectly. There doesn’t appear to be any pressure on the outer tub, so It should be a long term fix.