Reviews

Today, I will be reviewing an Ontario Knife Company 3/11.  The Ontario 3/11 is a great knife. The reasons I like it are:

  • The knife blade is made with high carbon steel.
  • The handle is good quality leather.
  • It comes very sharp.
  • It has an awesome sheath.
  • It is made in the U.S.A.

Overall, I would give this knife a five star rating!

Here is a picture of my knife!

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//Ewinslow

 

 

I decided to buy a role of Self Bonding Super Tape to keep in my toolbox specifically for waterproofing coaxial connections. This is the exact same thing as splicing tape which you will find at any hardware store, so I’m not sure why harbor freight calls it super tape. Anyway…..

I will now be using it any time I put an RF connector on or have a coax connection out of doors. It’s much waterproof than electrical tape because it stretches out and bonds to itself very tightly. It doesn’t break the bank either.  A 10ft roll costs about as much as a good roll of electrical tape, and it doesn’t take much. With electrical tape I end up wrapping over and over and sometimes still don’t get it watertight. I used about 3.5 inches of splicing tape in the picture below.

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This stuff is not sticky like you would think. In fact, it isn’t sticky at all. You have to stretch it way out to get it to stick to your connector, but once it sticks you just keep wrapping and it’s a breeze. I have not tried taking any off yet, but it seems like it would be easier than the standard tar.

 

 

 

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.

The trunk light in this car in particular didn’t light much up.  It was located on the top of the trunk, directly over the spare tire.  I wonder who thought that was a good place for a light?

I replaced the original with strips of LEDs.  These can be purchased for around $8/roll, a roll being 5 meters. They’re available from various online sellers, the cheapest shipping from China or Hong Kong, but if you spend a little bit more there are places that sell them in the US.  The advantage to these is that there are places every 3 inches marked to cut the roll, and you can cut the roll and solder leads onto it at any of those.  There are multiple colors available, and there are even waterproof versions.  You can buy a RGB LED strip that will a controller lets you choose what color(s) you want. Having used both, the waterproof LED strip is definitely harder to work with.  I probably wouldn’t mess with it unless you need a waterproof version.

Anyway, they’re pretty simple.  I tapped into the power wire for the existing trunk light, so they come on when you open the trunk.  The wires were soldered to the LED strip and then heat shrink tubing slid over them to prevent shorting if metal touched it. All the strips are adhesive backed, but the waterproof strips are heavier and don’t stick as well.  I’ve had good luck using clear packaging tape to hold them on in addition to the adhesive back, and nothing has shifted yet.

It’s hard to take pictures of lights, but here they are anyway:

I located the lights on the inside of the trunk lid, so there's nothing to block the light.

I located the lights on the inside of the trunk lid, so there’s nothing to block the light.

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Now it’s easy to find things in the trunk at night, and the cost was similar to that of a new light bulb for the original light.  And it took a little less than half of the roll for the trunk, so there were extra for a future project.

Lately I have been doing quite a bit of drywall work in a single wide trailer. Due to the way trailers are transported (and the expense of paying someone to properly install drywall), they just staple on some cheap cardboard/trim over all the seams and call it done. This is okay, but after 20+ years of abuse the trim is coming out all over and it is almost easier to just rip it all out and do drywall the right way, this is what I’ve been doing.

I have used 3 kinds of mud.

around 18$ (includes bucket).

 

Mix your own low dust compound $18 or so and no bucket.

 

for about $6 (no bucket)

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Mixing drywall compound

This is pretty much the best way to get the non premixed stuff mixed. Make sure your bucket is clean, dump the mud in, add water, and mix. It is important to have a bucket with a good lid to keep the mud from drying out. The kind they sell premixed drywall compound with works good, but a food grade bucket is even better. Now, to my final conclusion.

The premixed regular dust compound is the easiest. The consistency if perfect, but it is pretty dusty.

The mix your own low dust compound is true low dust, it all goes straight down. That said, I don’t know if I contaminated my bucket with something or what, but it stunk, bad. And I kept having off color brown streaks show up as I was applying it. Not to mention a few certain spots did not dry white, but stayed gray. They are dry, but maybe not completely cured??? Also, after mixing it fills only about 2/3 if the bucket, paying the same price for less.

The regular dust mix your own compound is what I will use from now on. The dust doesn’t seem as bad as the premixed stuff, and I personally don’t even use a mask for it. It to only fills about 2/3 of my bucket, but for 1/3 the price it is not bad at all. FYI The product says it is ready for use, no mixing required. THEY LIE!!! This stuff is like clay, where mud should be about like pudding. Not a big deal, but it WILL need mixing.

 

Two weeks ago we went to the Short Mountain repeater club’s annual ham fest. We stopped by for an hour right after they opened to find anything we needed, and then went back right before close to find everything we didn’t need. That strategy worked pretty well, among other things we found the following in the morning trip.

An MFJ SWR/power meter for 144/220 MHZ

A couple random pieces of coax cable

Several Kenwood HT microphones (Fit for Baofeng use)

A couple of 80’s Kenwood HTs

And probably a few things I have forgotten about.

Upon the return trip in the afternoon we found people almost giving things away, in fact, some of them really were. We came home with a couple power supplies, mobile radios, and a large boy of odds and ends.

It was a great fest overall, our first at that. I heard good things about Dave’s BBQ, though I never had any. After seeing what they are like close by, I may be ready to go further for one in the future.

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Last week I ordered a pico keyer plus kit from hamgadgets.com to use as a beacon/foxhunt controller. I ordered it late Friday (like 3 pm) and had it in the Monday mail (and this was the $2 USPS shipping). Great if you ask me….

Below is a picture of it as it arrived Monday. For the size, I thought they would stuff it in a padded envelope. Not at all! It was wrapped on all sides in bubble wrap and put in a sturdy cardboard box, no chance of damage in the mail. NOTE: In the demonstration picture there is nothing to scale it to. I was under the impression it would be about 6 inches long :) Not a problem at all, just a little surprising at first (I could have just looked at the specs and seen this).

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Specs:

  • NEW – header connector makes it easier to build into your own gear or a custom cabinet!
  • NEW – Includes voltage regulator components for optional external DC power!
  • Low voltage operation – from 2.5 to 5.25VDC
  • Ultra low current operation – typical sleep current well under 0.1µA, only 1-2mA when keying. A single lithium coin cell can last many months, or a couple of years depending on use.
  • Low parts count for quick, hassle-free assembly. Most builders with some experience report the average time to assemble is about 15 minutes. Figure under an hour even for beginners.
  • PCB-mounted, 1/8″ (3.5mm) jacks for your key and rig
  • PCB-mounted speed control potentiometer
  • On board lithium coin cell battery (included) and battery holder
  • On board speaker for sidetone
  • Dual 2N7000 keying output MOSFETs for solid-state rigs and some tube gear, handles up to 60 V positive or negative.
  • Simple one-button “menu” setup
  • Setup and message entry using your paddle
  • Dot and dash memories for easy code with perfect timing and spacing
  • Works equally well with single-lever or dual-lever keys using iambic “squeeze” or non-iambic keying
  • Dual Speed feature – Speed is adjustable from 5 to 60WPM from the menu. You can use the speed control pot to adjust from 5 to 63 WPM, and instantly revert to the stored speed at any time!
  • Speed control range (min/max) can be set to your preference
  • Variable pitch audio sidetone can be turned OFF or ON
  • MCW mode uses the keying output as PTT to send audio Morse code over voice radios – now you can practice Morse on the air with your friends using 2M or 70cm FM.
  • Adjustable weight
  • Selectable iambic Mode A or Mode B as well as Ultimatic mode
  • Hands-free Tuneup mode lets you select a steady carrier or 50% duty cycle dits
  • Beacon mode allows repeating messages with user-specified delay up to 99 seconds
  • Straight key autodetect – plug in a straight key and cycle power, and the keyer will automatically use straight key mode with all memories available!
  • Message pause – insert a pause to manually send RST or other information in the middle of a saved message.
  • Four message memories hold up to 60 characters each, and can be chained together in any order to make up to a 240 character message. Message #1 can be set to auto-start when power is applied, great for propagation beacons.
  • QSO/serial number can be inserted in a message, auto-incremented and decremented. You can set or reset the QSO number from the setup menu. Counts up to 65536, which should be enough for the biggest contests.
  • Optional leading zeros can be sent for QSO numbers less than 3 digits.
  • Cut numbers can be selected for QSO numbers in stored messages. Zeros, nines, both or neither can be selected.
  • Transmitter QSK delay compensation – Lengthen elements by a preset number of milliseconds to correct for transmitters that tend to shorten dits and dahs in QSK mode.
  • Paddle switching – effortlessly select left or right handed operation without switching wires or turning the key upside down
  • NO BATTERY BACKUP REQUIRED to retain settings or memory!
  • Easy to integrate into new homebrew or kit rigs, or add it to your older equipment.
  • “Factory Reset” option to restore all default settings to your PicoKeyer

For$18.50, I am thrilled so far…

This is Uhaul part # 37126003.  They’re listed on the website as Tow Dolly Strap Retainers, with no pictures.  The description says: “Tire strap retainer, L/H, R/H, inner and outer.”.  I couldn’t find any information about them online, so I’m posting it here.

The website suggested I needed these parts when I placed an order for new wheel straps, but I was unable to find any information as to what they were.  I called customer support and I spoke to multiple people at the local dealer and none of them had any idea what the item was or who to call to find out.

Because there was a promotion going on where you would get free shipping over a certain dollar amount, I ordered two of these retainers to get to that amount assuming I could return them if they weren’t useful.  If I had known what the items were, I would have ordered four.  These are the brackets that hold the straps to a tow dolly, and they’re made much better than the originals.

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The sets of towing lights places like Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, and Tractor Supply sell are generally a good value for the price.  Our set should last many years, no more often than I plan to use them.  They all use a standard flat 4 pin connector, so there’s no wiring to do unless you need a different connector.  My only complaint is this: the wires are all loose.  The 8 feet of wire between lights just hangs there, all the wires separate, as does the 20 feet that runs to the tow vehicle.  Considering the price, I still bought them but decided to wrap the wires so they would stay together.  One could use plastic conduit to hold them all together, but I used about an inch of electrical tape every several inches and that seems to work quite well for less money.

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The last 10 or so inches is wrapped completely with electrical tape.  In my experience, that's the part that usually wears out fastest and the tape really helps.

The last 10 or so inches is wrapped completely with electrical tape. In my experience, that’s the part that usually wears out fastest and the tape really helps.

And they all fit neatly into a small toolbox.

And they all fit neatly into a small toolbox.

 

I picked up a bottle of this dye at NAPA to help find an ever-growing coolant leak and thought I’d share the results.

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Within 10 minutes of idling with it in the radiator, the dye was visible in two places.  One was at the upper radiator hose, and the other was at the heater hose fittings:

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This is just during the day – the dye is highly visible in the dark if under a blacklight.  It was hard to get good pictures with just the blacklight, but here are the ones I took:

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Needless to say, I’ve decided the bottle of dye was worth every penny.  It helped me locate three coolant leaks (two of which almost instantly) and saved the trouble of replacing the part I thought was leaking.  The leaks ended up being the upper radiator hose, heater hose fittings, and a pinhole leak in the radiator.

Last Sunday I sold two of our Bucks. Thunderbolt (left) and a free lionhead buck (right). I was surprised to sell Thunderbolt back to the guy I traded him for, I told him I thought he was sterile, but did not need money (or my old rabbit) back, just needed to find a new home for him and wondered what I could get. The guy was great about it and payed what he would have payed for the doe I traded him. He didn’t have to, but he did and will certainly be getting repeat business.

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About a month ago I picked up some free lionhead rabbits I found from a guy on craigslist (will add pics). Well, he is downsizing again and offered me a few more. I went out today and came home with these

IMG_3103 IMG_3105 IMG_3108 IMG_3111 The top left is a pregnant lionhead doe. The top middle is two young rabbits. The first is probably a few months old and the offspring off the doe on the right and the other is about 8 weeks old from another doe. On the top right is a lionhead doe who has raised litters before, but is not pregnant. On the bottom is another doe who has raised a couple litters. He also sent along a breeding age lionhead buck (Will add pic) They are good rabbits, no maned but still good rabbits.

He also sent home 3 cages, and these freezer mugs!!!!!IMG_3114They work OK!

…place to purchase auto parts locally.
Note: I’m not a paid representative of the company, just a happy customer.
1) The people behind the parts counter have actual experience and know what they’re talking about.  This is certain to be the case at any location, because NAPA requires that you be ASE certified to work at the parts counter.
2) Prices are usually competitive and they don’t try to up sell – The main business NAPA does is commercial – selling and delivering parts to repair facilities and car lots.  Because of this, there’s no pressure for them to sell you anything.  How often have you walked up to the counter with a tool and had someone convince you not to buy it?  They’re not the cheapest, but sometimes you just get what you pay for.
3) NAPA will stand behind their parts 100 percent.  Their parts have a good warranty, and the company will always honor it.  For example, if you buy a brake caliper from NAPA (which is powder coated to prevent rust, by the way) and have it stop functioning in the next two years, the company will foot the tow bill.  Part stores and repair shops rely on repeat customers and word of mouth advertising, and know that the best way to get both is to treat your customers right. NAPA is no exception.
4) Not only does NAPA stand behind their product, but they only sell the best.  The manufacturers NAPA doesn’t own are closely supervised and each shipment is inspected before the company will accept it, and if they are not up to spec they’ll be sent back.  NAPA will not sell any sub-par items.  Granted, anytime an item is mass produced there will be some defective items, but they will make it right if you manage to get one.
5) They can often times get parts other stores can’t: NAPA works closely with the manufacturers so that even the most unusual of items can be found. Bearings, for example, are rebranded for NAPA but are all top-of-the-line Dana/Spicer bearings. Not only will they be the best quality, but the local store can get bearings no one else has.
6) Continuing the last two – NAPA branded parts are all top quality.  For just a few examples…
NAPA brand filters of any kind are manufactured by WIX.
Wiper Blades are really TricoFlex.
Batteries are made by Exide.
Gaskets are Fel-Pro
Seals/Bearings/Joints are made by Dana/Spicer (which are actually higher quality than Moog, the brand typically considered the best).
Oil is the same as Valvoline and Antifreeze is Prestone.
7) They can get parts quickly.  Since NAPA delivers to businesses, they have trucks out all day. If you need a part not in your local store, they can typically have it within an hour. Even if they must order a part, they will have it in 2-3 days.

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