Author: The Timedok

Open Letter to Zoom

Open Letter to Zoom

As one host’s meetings over this medium frequently, the speaker might freeze.

The problem is, we don’t know if the speaker froze, we froze, and so on.

Solution… For the meeting host, we need a quick way to ascertain where the packet loss is occurring.  I would suggest a simple meter placed by each member’s name in the participant’s list.

The meter could be faux lights (red, yellow, and green.) Make the thing large enough to give us some resolution as to the quality of the signals.

It might also be nice to have the ability to run a report of the same information. If one of the members is constantly having issues, we have some quantitative feedback we can give them.

With this information out there on the WWW, your competition might see it and run with it, claiming this brainstorm of an idea as their own. PFFT.

-Best

Open Letter to Oil Change Business’s

Open Letter to Oil Change Business’s

We have a crisis on our hands with a simple solution. To Date, I have not seen anyone offering this service.

It is illegal for scrap metal places to purchase stolen catalytic converters. HB 4110 in Texas makes the crime of selling or buying stolen catalytic convertors a 3rd-degree felony which means time in jail.

That law went into effect on September 1, and yet the problem continues.

Here is the million-dollar idea…..

On your sign in front of your business, advertise ‘Free Engraving of your Catalytic Converter with Oil Change.’

The idea is to mark your property with your driver’s license, which will make the convertor even less attractive to the scrap metal dealer.

Since the threat of jail time doesn’t seem to stop the thief, just possibly the threat of time to the dealer would carry more weight.

If you had a little more on the ball than the other guy, you would have created stickers that would go on the person’s car window. These stickers would alert the would-be thief that the convertor is marked. The stickers would also be a reminder and advertisement of your place of business.

Even if you are not in Texas, businesses in other states can use this same technique to slow down the theft of convertors and increase business to your establishment.

I look forward to seeing how many companies follow through with this idea.

-Best

Check Your Ego

Check Your Ego

I admit that I spend entirely too much time on ‘groups’ that profess an interest in one topic or another.

We tend to search for our tribe, whether that be people interested in equine activities or perhaps restoring vintage electronic devices.

Today it was a group dedicated to Heathkit.

For those of you who don’t know, Heathkit, out of Benton Harbor, created and sold well-designed devices in kit form.

If you followed the instructions, when finished, you would have not only a working device, but you would have the pride of knowing that you built it and, you would also know how to repair it should the need arise.

This person purchased an old oscilloscope from the ’60s that, by today’s standards, is worthless. This same person opened it up, showing the repair job someone did back in the 70’s ‘as depicted by the age of the components’ and complained.

When he brought it up on his variac, it still worked. After opening it, he complained about the ‘mess’ inside.  He then went about requesting assistance from everyone in the group for information on the piece and so on.

Since the internet was not around when the previous person repaired it, and it was still working today, just possibly he should re-think his assessment of the repair.

I am from the age group who taught myself electronics, built kits, and designed and built my first transmitter from TV parts.  There were no online resources as there are today.

The FCC test was in person and not multiple guess.  

This behavior is not just in ham radio groups but many others.

If you read the online comments, it would seem that narcissism is as rampant as covid.

I am amazed at how quickly the comments turn into personal attacks. Is this the new normal where keyboard warriors use speech that they would not use around their grandparents, to feel better about themselves while attacking another?

The three weeks to flatten the curve has tested my patience to the absolute limits of my medications.

Turn off the computer, the screens, and the TV when you reach that point.

Reading opinions by other keyboard warriors that incite violence on a class of people with who they don’t agree is demented, and it needs to stop.

We forget that the technology we have today is because of those that came before us. We are standing on the shoulders of giants, and yet we have narcissists like this person daring to complain about a fifty-year-old repair, that still works.  

-Best

Is it wise to purchase the latest greatest technology?

Is it wise to purchase the latest greatest technology?

When considering an investment in technology, the first thing to know is that you buy the Sizzle, Not the Steak.

What does that mean?

If you drive past a steak house, you will undoubtedly smell mesquite smoke or some other aroma to stir the juices accompanying that reward center of your brain. A wise entrepreneur will attempt to use all the senses as bait. The sizzle is the bait. Regarding steak, the payoff is delivering it to you exactly as you expect.

Theatres use popcorn. The fragrance will trigger memories. Possibly you are at the mall to look for clothes but, the scent, along with signs and lines of patrons, will trigger a diversion in many who are not on a tight schedule. The sizzle is reliving the memory even if the movie and company are different.  The first time you enjoy a movie with popcorn and friends is precious and becomes part of who you are.

Technology is loaded with promise. Unfortunately, it is also packed with inexpensive microcomputers and software with a finite lifetime.

Case in point and the reason for this article.

I collect and restore vintage radios. As long as the case is in good shape, I will consider the rest of the process of laying out cash for something that has little practical value in this world today. Why does only the case matter?

The components in that radio are still available.

My original entry into this hobby was Amateur Radio. The sizzle for me is to restore a radio and have it functional. The memory of when that radio was new transports me to an earlier time.  Many purchase things on eBay for the same reason.  The sizzle is that connection to a time when you sat on Grandma’s lap as she read to you. Perhaps it was that first easy bake oven or set of Legos.

With me, it was listening to a baseball game with my grandfather. The old floor model Zenith with that prominent speaker transported him and me to the game.  This event was a magical time and a fond memory.

Without beleaguering the point, my first expensive transceiver (A Swan 350D) still works. Yes, I have had to replace parts along the way but, I can still get them. That radio was the first hybrid to incorporate tubes, transistors, and some digital technology.

From HeathKit to Collins, even today, if you buy one at a swap meet, the odds are great; you will be able to find what you need to get it back on the air.

While technology marches on and offers us more whistles and bells, conversely, it takes longevity away.

In my closet is a costly modern radio. Built-in the 1990’s, this radio performed well, until one day it didn’t.  Not only was the radio a solid performer, but it also looked nice. Some would argue that the FT 990 was one of the best radio’s Yaesu ever built.

Once I narrowed it down, I knew what I needed; there was a catch.  The manufacturer no longer has the parts. Purchasing parts on eBay and other online sources is a crapshoot, as I found out.

Some people buy radios like mine, cannibalize them, much like the junkyards of old did with cars, and sell it one piece at a time. The part I ordered was butchered in the process and was worthless when it got to me.

As radio enthusiasts, I say all that to say this: we might need to shift our mindset, including how we spend our money.

In the 80’s I began the process of learning about computers. As an engineer, I saw the transition in progress.  Electronic devices were becoming something one used and trashed when they malfunctioned. Televisions are a perfect example

When asked about a contract on that new TV, ‘just in case,’ my response was ‘hell no.”  Firstly, it is wasted money, and secondly, when the thing dies, it will be time for something newer.

In the early days of home computers, a device with less power than your smartwatch costs a bundle.  Five hundred dollars for sixteen meg of ram was the going price. That ram was soon outdated, as was the entire computer.

Even back in the day, we should have realized we had purchased the sizzle. What could we do with that PC then? Word processors were indeed a novelty, as were spreadsheets.

Today, we have redesigned the radio to resemble a radio of old, but that ends with its appearance.

Menus instead of knobs and displays instead of an S meter which can be daunting to the older ham. There are also multiple ways to integrate your radio with your computer.  All of this ‘sizzle’ depends upon how long there are parts available, and your level of interest.

When you purchase a used radio, that mindset shift needs to include it’s age.

Much like an old car, it can only go so many miles. The radio is only viable as long as the replacement parts are available. The clock starts ticking the day it leaves the factory.

My Yaesu FT 990 is worthless as a radio; what about the other vendors?  My Kenwood TS 520S, along with the 830 S, still works perfectly. They are both much older than the FT 990. What if I purchased a used, but newer Kenwood of the same age as the FT 990? I suspect that parts for it might also be an issue.

My Alinco DX 70 went silent one day.  Alinco no longer carries that little speaker it uses.  My point is not to bash the vendors. If you are like me and enjoy the soft glow of a dial light along with watching an S-meter lazily sway with the QSB, consider only buying a new radio, not used.

Either stick with the vintage equipment you know you can get parts for or spend the dollars on a radio with warranty and longevity.

Research part availability before you invest your money and time in a new old radio.

The Chinese have sent a message to the world via products like the Baofeng.

I realize that many speak poorly of that radio but, I have several expensive handhelds that the replacement battery will cost more than a new radio with a battery.

Perhaps the cost of this radio is about what we should be paying for software-defined products with little longevity.

My name-brand handheld radios perform no better than the thirty-dollar version. Again, the only difference that I can see is the interface to program the radio.

If the Chinese radio stops working, I am not going to worry about finding parts. If my radio’s that cost a small fortune falter, I will invest the time and energy to repair them. Either the name brand manufacturers need to acquire the mindset that Hams value the radio as more than just a commodity, or the off-brand manufacturers can continue to design and sell radio’s that we can all agree are disposable once they die. 

The message is clear. If you want to sell a handheld or other product for hundreds of dollars more than the Chinese counterpart, the vendor’s mindset also needs to change.

We keep our radios and value them not as a commodity but as something we could pass on to our kids. Stocking replacement parts for expensive radios would benefit the community, and it would be a selling point.

While radios are not the only technology to suffer the fate of progress, we also see how the automobile industry is suffering because of the lack of computer chips.

If I were Ford, I would offer a ‘back to basics’ automobile. You would genuinely need to sell it and have people interested, but in truth, I would love to have a (new old car) with three on the tree, roll-up windows, and an AM radio with half a dozen presets. We don’t need chips to run the damned thing; we need a spark, gas, compression and air mixed and timed with points that need adjusting every so often.

Can you tell me what the sizzle might be? 

-Best

HB 196

HB 196

Open letter to Terry Meza

Dear Terry, your bill HB 196 would seek to limit the homeowner’s rights to defend himself or his or her property. Your bill would also create a doubt in the would-be victim’s mind as to whether they are within their legal rights to defend themselves. A second of hesitation could get the victim killed.  You are confusing the issue, conflating garden gnome’s with tangible property and or life.

In a life-or-death situation, the last thing the victim needs is doubt.  If they are reasonably afraid for their lives, they should defend themselves to the fullest extent of the law…period.

Not long ago, this same type of thinking was pervasive in our now President Biden, who said at the time, ‘If a woman is going to get raped, she should pee herself.’

Your bill would make it easier for some attorney to go after the victim, and you and I both know this is not about ‘lawn ornaments.’ That is lawyer-speak to play to the emotions of the feeble-minded.

We all have choices to make. They can choose to steal and take their chances or decide not to steal.  They can choose to rape or home invade or decide not to.  We, the law-abiding, have our rights under assault by this Congress, currently attacking the second amendment, while we on a parallel front have lunatics calling for defunding the police.

If the police act in a way that contradicts the way they should, then more training and better hiring practices are what we should be advocating.

Adding to this problem, we have a massive influx of aliens who we know by their actions don’t respect our laws. 

There is currently a rash of catalytic converters stolen from vehicles. The cost to repair starts at $1000.00 and could go as high as $4,000 if they don’t do any other damage while hacking it off your car.  That is hardly a garden gnome. 

Why don’t you create a bill that would fine the crap out of those that buy stolen catalytic convertors?

Removing the reward for theft of ‘garden gnomes’ seems like where we should be spending our energy.

I would require that all catalytic convertors be serialized. Those that bring them in for ‘recycle’ must provide identification, including utility bills, to prove that the identity was not fake. A log book should be created and maintained to insure that the ‘recycler’ is on the up and up. The former would take a Congressional act, and the latter could be implemented with an executive order.

-Best

Open Letter to Greg Abbot

Open Letter to Greg Abbot

With the latest power issues in Texas, one would think that we wouldn’t have these issues in a country like this.

“But it is cold.”

And, in the summer it is hot.  The last time I mentioned to the city where I live, we had not enough water, trash pickup, and now electricity to add more businesses and apartments I was told to sit down and shut up.  (in so many words)

It is all about taxable revenue.  When I mentioned that to the city, they told me, “We have more churches than other cities, and they don’t pay taxes! We have to stay competitive.”

We have lost sight of the ball.  When we can’t take care of what we have, we don’t need to add more.

Government is over-bloated and is more concerned about ways to keep their jobs and bring in more revenue than taking care of their constituents.  Many of those are elected, and trust me, that can be remedied.

One cold snap and millions are without power.  This incident was not even ice-related. It was supply and demand.

Maybe some child who knows nothing of economics or how the government works and thinks, might buy that. It is a crap argument. It is all about supply and demand.

In my line of work, we do something called a root cause analysis.

Why did it happen, and what can we do to better prepare for the next time.

We have not invested in the infrastructure or planned worth a damned for there to be power outages to the tune of millions of people because there is not enough supply.

Mr. Abbot, heads need to roll.

February and March are the cold months in Texas; the rest are hot and hotter.

We see California going through this because they have not invested in their infrastructure.  I thought we were better than the Golden State.

You owe it to the people of Texas to do this root cause analysis and then tell us how you are going to fix the problem.

Platitudes, and turn off your heat or air and don’t run anything that uses electricity is not the answer.  Controlled power outages are not the answer.

ERCOT needs to be held to account for this.

I have lived in Texas since 1962.  This cold snap is not our first, and it will not be our last.  Next Summer will not be our first days over 100.

If you want to attract more revenue in the form of a tax base, prove to the tax base that you have that you are worthy of it.

Pelosi wants a 911 commission to distract the country from its bumbling of issues.  Maybe we should have a 911 commission to see how this happened. My guess is that you all already know, and knew it was a possibility.  If that is the case, that makes you all negligent.

-Best

3 D Printing, Why?

3 D Printing, Why?

Like many of you, I suspect you might find you have more time on your hands these days.  Yes, there is still work but, virtual work?

Human interaction distinguishes us from furry friends who now have more freedom than we do.

This summer, as I watched a squirrel eat the last of my peaches, it was not lost on me that I was on the inside looking out.

Sanity is not overrated.

I began the ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’ much like Tom T Hall did in his song ‘A Week in A County Jail.’

I scoffed at the toilette paper shortage reports and laughed at the nutcases who scrambled to buy masks; after we were told we didn’t need them.

After a month went by, and we were commanded to wear masks, I wasn’t so antagonistic toward the people in the store yelling at others who did not have a mask of some kind on.

Much like the Bologna and scrambled eggs fed to our singer, songwriter friend, single ply TP wasn’t that bad when you could find it. 

It became apparent that the TV had to go.

Systematically, the different news feeds on my phone were also turned off or deleted one at a time.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

If I were not going to get my social addictions met via my usual methods and I had turned off the TV, what was my strategy for keeping sane to be?

While I am book smart, I am also one of those who can do whatever I put my mind to—not bragging, just a fact.

After catching up on a myriad of things I wanted to get done and with no reprieve from the pandemic insight, the next logical thing was to give Jeff Bezos more money.

Purchasing a 3D printer, much like waiting on the secret decoder ring from Ovaltine, the day arrived when Alexa announced there was movement at my front door.

By this stage of the game, I eagerly answered the door, speaking with salespeople, making friends with every kind of delivery person, and even social distancing with the landscapers who were not wild about talking with a customer. Whatever happened with the Jehovah’s Witness?  I have time…

Opening the box was eerily reminiscent of my erector set from about the same time as the decoder ring.

Assembling this thing was not for the faint of heart.

Up to the challenge, I spent the next two hours watching videos, with each one telling the viewer something a little different. Armed with the basics and lots of ‘tinkering experience,’ the games began.

At this point in the story, I was reminded of the Internet back before graphical user interfaces.  The only people who took advantage of the Internet were geeks. It was command-line driven, and like PCs as a whole, it was the interface that made it possible for Greg Shorthand to be placed alongside typewriters and stone tablets in the dustbin of history.

3D printers have been out for a while, and I waited for multiple reasons.  Time to tinker with it, was one of the main reasons.

Like installing rev 0 or 1.0 of any software is an invitation for arrows, or at least scars on your back, the bleeding edge of any technology is usually fraught with disillusionment.

While there is no doubt in my mind that someone will create a 3D printer that anyone can pluck out of the box, turn it on, and print stuff, today is not that day.

I entertained this idea in the first place, as I restore old radios. Knobs, other hardware, and maybe even cases could be printed. Would they have the same value?  No, but it would still be entertaining.

As of today about the only thing I have found this useful for is eating up lots of time, and making tchotchkes, or as I call them, dustables.   

While this is a popular model printer, it is from 2018, which is ancient in dog years. We heard how they were looking for people with these things to make parts for face shields.  

I find it humorous that one of the places you can use to create things is a place called ‘Tinkercad.’

After attempting some of the ‘highbrow’ cad software, Tinkercad is easy to use. If you get one of these printers, you had best like to tinker.

The two weeks to flatten the curve are now ten months. The curve appears alive and well.  

With winter on our back doors and, of course, the holidays, I would encourage everyone to do something positive and not dwell on what you cannot control.  Every subject that I loathed in school I went back and visited. Why?  Why not. When I think of the information at our fingertips, and it is taken for granted, it boggles my mind.

Social media is rife with animus from people who I would never expect. Then you have the fact-checkers who blatantly post their obnoxious views on anything they don’t happen to like. 

Yes, Facebook does not get much of my attention these days.  I don’t need people telling me what to think; you don’t either.

I might look at resin printers next after I push the envelope with the filament variety.

I sincerely hope you have a Merry Christmas.   If you are a 3D enthusiast, drop me a note. One can connect with communities, but why not connect with people who at least read what I write? 

Yes, the Jailers wife got much prettier each day, and so it goes.  -Best

A brighter idea?

A brighter idea?

Being the responsible human that I am, I purchased some LED bulbs to cut my carbon footprint.

Not only have I removed much of my ‘footprint due to COVID and hardly ever leaving the house but, I am responsible with my use of resources.

The question is, how much Green can we afford?

After the incandescent bulb stopped, I replaced it with this beautiful LED bulb from LEDMEDTRICS.

Before the twenty-minute mark was up, the bulb ceased to function.

The bulb was in a standard non-dimmable lamp socket in a desk lamp.  Many are unaware that you must purchase ‘dimmable’ LED bulbs for circuits with dimmers.  I am.

If you follow me, you are aware that my curiosity knows few boundaries.

My first instinct was to contact the manufacturer.  Ooops, cannot find them.

On eBay, I can find their product but as far as the company, no dice.  Now I must tell you that twist pointed my mind in a different direction.

Removing the defective bulb (infant mortality), I noticed it was hot as any incandescent bulb ever was.

These things are assembled in such a way there is no disassembling them with the idea you are going to put them back together and use them again.

Saving a long drawn out discussion on what failed, it was a cold solder joint from the mainboard to the LED panel.  As it heated up, the contact let loose.

“Is it worth $12?”

The circuit is pretty straightforward.  We don’t know what the semiconductor is on the aluminum led substrate.

I would guess that the high tin content of the solder is most probably the reason for the cold solder joint.

For your amusement, I have taken some pictures of what is inside one of these bulbs. 

There appears to be aluminum bonded to the PVC at the base of the bulb.

-Best

Customer Service 101

Customer Service 101

Your response should be crafted.

‘Recently, I took my car in for normal maintenance.  Driving away from the shop, leaving from a red light, the engine stalled or hesitated.  Calling the shop, their response was, “Those cars have Gremlins.”’

Even though they were obligated under warranty to fix it, I lost confidence in them immediately.

Finding another shop, I elected to pay them to fix whatever was wrong.  Citing a potential catalytic converter issue, I reminded them of when the problem first occurred and then let them do their diagnostics.

The fault did not generate a check engine light.  The lack of a ‘fault’ made the problem tougher to troubleshoot.  If you have ever tinkered with old cars, the issue resembled a vacuum leak. 

Finding a tear in a hose leading to the Mass Airflow Sensor cured the problem.

The ‘gremlin’ was the mechanic who did the original work and did not check to make sure his ‘cure’ did not introduce more problems.

While I am out a few hundred more dollars to another shop, finding an honest mechanic is worth it.

From plumbers to electricians and yes, computer professionals, it is OK to say ‘I don’t know.’

Customers would much rather hear you say ‘allow me to figure it out,’ vs. your (insert issue) has gremlins.

The original shop has lost me as a customer because the mechanic did not check their work and Gremlins.

No matter who you work for or what you do, you have customers.  Identify them and treat them as you would want to be treated. Watch what you say.

-Best

What you don’t know can kill you

What you don’t know can kill you

Facebook garners little of my attention.  The social noise from so many uninformed individuals spouting opinions as facts drive me to distraction.  While social media is an adequate way to keep up with the goings-on of some people, it is hardly a substitute for a phone call or Zoom visit during these rather inauspicious times.

Other uses for the site are finding like-minded folks.   Ham (amateur) radio has been a rather large part of my life since the early 70’s when I taught myself electronics at the ripe old age of eight.

Earning my first ticket in 1973 opened a whole new world for me.  Geography soon became essential. I was talking with people in countries I did not know existed.  Interestingly enough, some of the countries I ‘worked’ are no longer countries today.  I spoke with a King of a country that is no more, how many can say that?

One of the groups on Facebook is a ham radio group.  Seldom do I comment.  Those people in that group are from a different time.  The hobby is a leftover from earlier when we knew a language that few speak.  The communication was megacycles and micro henrys.  From Zeps to long wires and grid dip meters, we were something else.

More and more of my friends of this age are dying off from natural causes, and yes, COVID.

Amateur radio operators created much of the technology we enjoy today out of need.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

For instance, yesterday was Navajo Code Talker Day.  If you don’t know the history, please, inform yourself, it is fascinating.  They helped us win the war. These people tearing down statues are clueless bastards.

If they are successful, there will be generations of clueless bastards that have no comprehension of why kneeling when the anthem is played is so distressing to those of us who know history.

Ham Radio has been dumbed down over the years. On this site, there was a young man who was studying for his test.  He had the book open, took a picture of the page, and asked the group the question, ‘do I really need to know this stuff?’

The answer should have been an emphatic ‘YES.’

The responses were down hearting.  They ranged from ’just learn the formulas’ to pointing him to a place where they teach to the test.  The latter is why we are in the fix we are in today. We have taught to the test.

I pointed out that when the hobby began, we designed and built our equipment.  There were no radio’s selling for thousands of dollars made in China, ready for you to plug in and talk.

Today on Amazon, there is a dual-band five-watt handy talkie for $20.00. Those were $600 until the Chinese got into the mix.  This thing is full of whistles and bells, I have a few of them, just because.

While the CB craze in the ’70s set the stage for such radios, it took another twenty years before the FCC changed the rules, first removing the requirement for Morse code.   The questions went from an essay type question or fill in the blank, to multiple guess.

Testing went from traveling downtown to the federal building to volunteers like me who can administer the test.

While we have smartphones that can facetime people anywhere in the world where there is cell service, I am asked, why the need for ham radio?

The answer is we provide communication when there is any disaster where commercial methods of communication are down.  From hurricanes to earthquakes, we are there.

I responded to the person asking the question, telling him as much and relating to him that inside the transmitters and amplifiers are lethal voltages.  If you use a screwdriver and have any curiosity about your equipment, what you don’t know can kill you.  That is why multiple guess tests are not a good thing.  They are great for the people who manufacture and sell radios, but not suitable for the hobby or the people who are responsible for the signal the radio emits.

If they don’t have to work for it, they don’t respect it.  Just about any given night, you can find ‘operators’ most probably drunk, swearing like a sailor.  Very much illegal and could land you in jail.

Case in point and this is a simple thing.  I ordered an inrush current limiting device to keep the filaments of the tubes in my amplifier from getting all that current at an instant.  How many times have you flipped on a light to have the bulb flash and go out?

The same could happen to the filaments in the tubes, which are considerably more expensive than a bulb.

The case of the device was not put on correctly.  Because I know electronics and I know where this stuff is being made and by whom, I decided to open it up and peek at it before fixing the case properly.

crappy job

The pictures are what I found.  If those that learn to the test take that knowledge no further, they would not know what they are looking for.  Also, they might not understand what is wrong with it.

If you are an Amateur Radio Operator and you are savvy with electronics, I would encourage you to remove the covers and peek inside before you plug it in.  From cold solder joints to plugs not seated correctly, nothing surprises me.

This device you see is $90 plus tax and shipping.

Two MOV’s, one capacitor, one 10 ohm wire wound resistor, and a relay.  Add two fuses and a case and outlet you have an inrush current protector.   I would have liked an LED telling me that I have it on, or have power but nope.

IMG_6198
Correctly installed

If you look at the wire on the outlet, only a tad bit of the wire is connected to the outlet.  The green or ground wire has a part of the wire super close to the hot lead of the 110.  While the ground was wrapped backward, I left it as it was tight.

ground1
This is what you don’t want to see.

Whoever built this either did not care, was in a hurry, or child labor.  Yes, they could have been tired or hungover or a host of other excuses.  My point is this is not the first time I have had shoddy quality on ‘turn-key’ devices.  Had I learned to the test, I would never know the difference unless it failed, and I had to get it repaired under warranty.

The good news is the design is robust and there are two fuses.  The bad news is that outlet on the device might have been a source of heat, and intermittent connection through arcing and what have you.  It also might have been a source for electrical noise in the receiver, if indeed it began to arc.

If you are going to get into the hobby of Ham Radio, step up and learn it.  What you don’t know could kill you.

A friend of mine years ago was working on his amplifier late in the afternoon.  He was tired but used to tinkering as many of us do.  The high voltage in his amplifier was not where it belonged.  Taking the high voltage leads lose from the rectifier assembly, he went to measure the voltage from the transformer without a load.

Again, like many of us do with low voltage, we grab the end of the wires and hold to the leads of the meter.  Bad habit.

He did it with 3000 volts at an amp.  That mistake blew both of his arms off and exploded his kidneys.  The electricity shot out the bottoms of his feet, through his shoes while finding ground.

He lived for three days like that.

What you don’t know can kill you! 

Working on things when you are tired can kill you.  Bad habits can kill you.  I keep one hand in my pocket whenever I am working on high voltage.  I remove all jewelry when I am working on electronics, period.

I never re-load bullets when I am tired.  I never drink and get on the radio, or send an e-mail to someone whom I have a disagreement with. 🙂  Words to live by.

I hope this story is helpful in some way to those of you who tinker with electronics.

-Best

Scott