Month: October 2017

Kits and other fun stuff from eBay

Kits and other fun stuff from eBay

 

I admit it; I am a gadget freak!  Ever since I was a little guy and I heard an announcers voice come out of a radio, I was hooked.

radio parts

There was indeed something magical about listening to a baseball game on the radio.  We had this Zenith floor standing Radio with that magic green eye in the dial.  Lights from the dial illumined the room as often you would find yourself transfixed on their voice and their description of the action on the field.

Those days are gone.

We have ample flat screen TV’s in super ultra 4 K extra high definition! Whatever all that means.  Much like having a stereo that faithfully reproduces a square wave frequency from 20 to 20 KHz when the human hearing is good up to 12khz or 14Khz tops, one has to wonder.  How many colors can my eye slash brain actually discern?

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Satellite Radio offers some nostalgia for those of you who like Johnny Dollar or the Shadow knows.  There are many more stations that one can listen to on road trips.  The art of producing such a radio broadcast is probably all but lost today.

What you can hear on the radio itself, pales in comparison to what the radio used to provide.

AM radio is basically talk radio or news all day.

FM radio, of course, is everything from soup to nuts.

Portable radios of not too long ago, 70 years or so, were tube based.  Two batteries were required, and of course, the longevity of the batteries was not that great.

The TR-1 was the first radio that was a joint effort between two companies.

tr1

 

Other companies jumped on the bandwagon with the advent of the transistor.  Now you could build a portable radio and power it with inexpensive batteries.  This device would fit into a shirt pocket or purse comfortably.

I have purchased two kits from eBay sources that are radio’s that mimic those of today.

One was a straight AM radio with a similar design to those of 60 years ago.  There were no directions included with them that a non-Chinese writing, reading person, could make much sense of.

Building the device using the knowledge that I have, I was able to get it working satisfactorily.  The AM FM radio kit that I bought was also lite on instructions and some parts.

Thankfully the parts missing were easily obtained from my supplies of parts.

This radio contained SMT (surface mount technology) which is always somewhat fun to “weld” as they say in their instructions.  I don’t guess that there is a word for solder in Chinese.

I am always thrilled when I first power up a kit, and it works from the get-go.  No smoke or other short circuits. Noise with modulation did indeed emanate from the speaker.  Soon enough there was a ball game being broadcast which, caused me to pause for a moment.

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After everything seemed to work as it should, I finished the assembly installing it into the case provided.

The difference between this radio and one of the 70’s was that there are three integrated circuits inside this radio.

  • One of them is the AM radio.
  • Another is the FM Radio
  • The third is the amplifier

Now give that some thought for a second.  The significant parts of the radio were all on chips.  The SMT chip is the FM radio.  The eight-pin DIP is actually a stereo amplifier chip.  The third which had I not looked carefully at resembles a transistor complete in a TO 92 case.  Three legs only.  That is the AM radio which is actually a several transistor AM radio.

All of the rest of the components are supporting components that they could not build inside the chips.

A handful of capacitors and a few resistors, switches and one variable capacitor.

The FM radio oddly enough does not track linearly as it should.  At either end of the band the stations come in, but in the middle, there are “birdies” and dead space.  This might very well be a design flaw in the circuitry.  You can get all of the stations, but they are not where the pointer says they should be.  After adjusting the trim cap on the variable capacitor, I was able to get stations to come in but again not where they belong.

The AM radio is another disappointment.  Yes, it works, and I can get the stations to come in where they should however…. The strong stations swamp the weaker stations.  I have two strong stations close to my house, so they indeed swamp the receiver.  If you ever had a crystal radio, this is much like that only it has a speaker and power.

Some quick research on the AM chip, I learned that this is a flaw of the chip.  One person has designed a circuit to lower the voltage to the semiconductor alone.  This modification supposedly allows the AGC to act correctly inside the chip enabling the radio to have more selectivity.

I have ordered some of the AM chips.  I plan to “play” with that design myself to see if indeed there is a way to build a radio with that chip that is satisfactory.

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As a Ham Radio Enthusiast, when I see a complete dual band handheld radio with a flashlight and FM broadcast radio built in for under $50 dollars, one has to wonder how the major brands will compete with this.

KG-UV6D-2-x

In short the Chinese have multiple “kits” that are on eBay.  I firmly believe that many of these kits were sub-assemblies for larger apparatuses that were discontinued.  The market for DIY folks like myself is rife with such things as most of us don’t need instructions.  If on the other hand, you are one of those “step one, step two, folks these kits may not be for you.

The lack of instructions requires that you bring to the table a wealth of experience.  Knowing how to “weld,” solder is mandatory.  Having some idea of what you are building so you can take precautions with static electricity and of course high voltages is also a good idea.

One of the “kits” on the way is a device modeled after the Tesla coil.  There are high voltages present.  If this turns out to be worth it, I will blog about it.

tesla plasma

If it works as expected audio from some device should modulate the plasma.

Why, why not?  It might modulate the gases inside CFL tubes or neon lights too!

Hope you enjoy the blogs and of course take advantage of your tinkering time.

-Best

 

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“What is one to do, shoot someone for $200?”

“What is one to do, shoot someone for $200?”

 

A recent post on a neighborhood blog elicited this response from me.  The man had some tools taken from his truck in his driveway and was upset.  He asked the question, what is one to do, shoot someone for taking my tools?

 

Here is my response to him and I think germane enough to share with you, good folks.

 

You (he) asks a good question.  “What am I to do, shoot someone for $200?”

Firstly, shooting someone for any reason will affect your life forever.  My litmus test is “Am I genuinely afraid for my life, or those lives of my family?”

If I am genuinely afraid, then the rest of this is a mute point.  Carried by six, judged by twelve, simple math really. 

The opioid epidemic is probably responsible for the increase in small crimes like this, as fewer and fewer doctors are now prescribing these types of “legal” drugs   Legal or not, people are addicted to them and addictions will cause some to sell their mother into slavery for them.  If they cannot get them legally, they will get them on the street.

That in and of itself might solve some of the addiction issues, as what they get on the street might very well end their suffering, permanently.  Not my wish or desire, just simple facts. Truth told they know the risk too and will do it anyway.  That should tell you something about their state of mind, and the risk they will take for a few tools from your truck.

Balancing petty crimes against lethal force is a tough call.  So what is one to do?

In this day and age, we have many tools at our disposal.

Alarm your vehicle.  Mine is set to lock and arm after 45 seconds, should a family member, or I forget.

“Viper Alarm from Car Toys.”

Keep your valuables out of sight.

Brand your tools or other valuables so that a pawn shop will not be interested in them.

Ring.com  makes some not too expensive devices like the floodlight cam and the doorbell.

Both are easy installs for the average homeowner.

That video goes up to the cloud and stays there for some time. In case your home is vandalized the evidence is not where the criminal can get to it.

  • You said you heard them, Dial 911
  • Turn on lights, so they know that you heard them.
  • With the Ring floodlight cam, there is a siren that you can set off.  Noises are not what they want.
  • Open your window and set off an air horn if nothing else.  Yell at them telling them the cops are on the way!  I would not use Uncle Joe’s advice about touching off your shotgun in the air.  Noise is the right idea, just not shotguns.

I would imagine that smash and grab is their ideal way to work so sound and lights will alert your neighbors as well.  Usually, they work in pairs. Getting a plate for the cops is a very good idea. Any information is valuable.  Many have cameras set up to watch the streets and alleys.  Talk with your neighbors and see if they captured anything.

If you were to go out there with your shotgun or another deadly force weapon you might very well be surprised to find that you are now in harm’s way as they had a partner.  If on the other hand, you were to injure them or kill them, some subhuman life form of a lawyer would find any family members that they had and represent them on a contingency basis to sue you civilly.   Pictures of the dead or injured person from his or her days in church, scouts, the soccer field as a 12-year-old, or as a family member and good dad or mom would adorn the courtroom.  They would paint this person as the ideal person having them appear the saint, and you the angry old curmudgeon without any heart, hell-bent on killing people with your mean old gun.  If the perp is or was a different race or gender than you, that too will factor into swaying the jury that you are now a racist or a sexist or both.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, they might very well get a judgment against you.  It is relatively simple to emotionally manipulate a jury.  This would then cost much more than a few hundred dollars in tools. As it is a civil case and not a criminal case, no free Lawyers for you.

If you can afford one and you had best be able to, it will cost you no less than $5K on a no bill.  The process will go on for months, and it will consume you.

“What is one to do?” You asked

Good luck, I hope that you or our neighbors find some of this information helpful….

Full disclosure, I have no vested interest in any of the products or companies mentioned. I also do not believe that all lawyers are sub-human life forms. 🙂

 

-Best

https://drugabuse.com/

https://ring.com/

https://www.viper.com/