Category: LifeStyle

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

The Case of the Bloated Apple

The Case of the Bloated Apple

Ok, it’s technically not an apple in the most real sense of the word.  God or Eve or even the devil had little influence on this fruit.  We are talking about an iPhone.

Let my experience with this device be a cost-saving measure for you.

With the lockdowns and subsequent lack of leaving the house, the phone, which usually lives on my person, hardly ever left the desk.

Since it never left the desk, it also never or hardly ever left the charger.

The physics that goes along with these batteries is somewhat elusive, but batteries are designed to be used.  Said another way, unlike car batteries, these batteries in your laptop, cell phone, and tablets are designed to cycle on a larger scale than your car.

They are rated in how many times they can be ‘cycled.’

On my desk laid the iPhone plugged up to a constant source of energy.  Monitoring the current from the power supply to the phone, I noticed no appreciable current draw but, something was happening.

Simultaneous events occurred during February and March.  The phone seemed to split apart.  Something inside the phone was expanding.  It could only be the battery.  Knowing that these batteries can be volatile, a new phone seemed to be in order.  Repairing an old phone makes little sense by the time you find a place to take it and so on.

Another thousand dollar phone later seemed to be the right approach.  Trying to leave the house presented a whole new challenge.  The car battery was dead.

With all the electronic ‘stuff’ in cars today, there is about a 250 ma constant draw on the battery.  If you don’t drive it weekly, put a trickle charger on the battery.

Here we juxtapose the two different technologies.  Lead Acid batteries are designed to give you that current with a small amount of discharge in the process of starting the engine.  Once started, the alternator puts the energy consumed, back into the battery.  Hence one cycle is complete.

In Texas, anything over three years is considered a win. Heat is detrimental to lead-acid batteries.

Switch gears to the phone.  The Lithium Polymer battery will provide the correct voltage and current until depleted.  Translated, if you puncture a phone battery while trying to remove it while still charged, it very well might combust into flames.

Battery 1

The battery in my older iPhone expanded much like a balloon while living on my desk. Not having taken one of these phones apart before, I felt the proper thing to do would be to recycle it and forget it.  (but It still worked.)

The longer it sat there with its screen popping off, and the more time I had to think about it, google became the go-to source of information.

$22 later, I had a new battery and the tools to change it on the way to my home.

While the procedure is not for the faint of heart, if you were to follow the directions to the letter, the odds are, you too could save your phone.

The older phone still provides a platform for Zoom, music, and yes videos.  The newer phone now lives on an inductive charger, which, according to the manufacturer, will not overcharge your battery.

Since the older phone is repaired and looks great, I unplug it from the charger as I use it like one usually would.  Even without actual ATT service, with wifi, there are many ways to use the phone as a phone still.

The trickiest part of the procedure is removing the old battery. It is glued to the phone.  This is where you could create an explosive situation if you are not super careful.  One tip I would offer is, drain the battery completely before you attempt a procedure like this.

How? Turn the phone on and listen to music until it is dead.

Regarding your car, make sure the trickle charger is rated at least an amp.  The trickle charger I bought from one of those box stores used a little wall wart as the supply.  It did not provide sufficient current to keep the battery charged and run whatever stand-by devices were drawing minuscule amounts of energy.

I now use a zero-point charger that shuts off when the power drain falls below a few milliamps.  As the devices draw enough current to trigger the charger, a cycle is developed, keeping the car ready for when you need to escape from quarantine.

I hope you find this information of some value and that you stay safe during these trying times.

-Best

Watch Out For Crap Like This.

Watch Out For Crap Like This.

From the early 70’s I was tinkering with electronics.  While my peers were playing ball or getting their hearts broken, I was getting shocked and talking to people all over the world.

Peering through the back of a radio or perhaps the TV, one would see all these glowing amber lights.  Soon after my fascination with the front of the radiant dial on the old floor model radio piqued, I wanted to know how it worked.

Garage sales and discarded appliances became a source of amusement for me.  Boxes of small parts from different devices soon lived in the closet, under my bed, and soon I had to pare down the collection.  A borrowed receiver, some junk box parts, and a crystal as were the rules back then, I was on the air as a newly minted Novice Amateur Radio Operator.  The glowing 6AQ5 tube was the final for a whopping 7 watts unmodulated Carrier wave controlled by the steady fist of what they used to call ‘brass pounders.’

Today, 47 years after the date, I still remember Morse code, but I must confess I have not pounded a key in eons.

Tubes gave way to transistors, which soon turned into integrated circuits. Now we have software-defined radio that minimalizes the power usage and, of course, exaggerates the complications if you need to troubleshoot it.

Time marches on. 

A man once stipulated that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and the same is true of the law of accelerated return of advancement regarding technology.

Most teenagers today have more technology in their back pocket or on their wrist than we used to send a man to the moon.  What they do with it remains to be seen but, the possibility of great things is within their grasp.

Licensing for the Amateur Radio Service is nothing like it was.  One could argue that nobody builds anything anymore, so it does not need to be as difficult as it was back in 1973.

I still tinker, albeit minimally and mostly with antenna design and theory.  All that said to get to the point of this blog.

When I purchased this switch box online, I knew what to expect.  Never in a million years would I push any wattage through this thing.

When I wiggled the wires a number of them came lose of their own accord, cold solder joints.
Here is the inside of the box. Wow.

In my office resides a desk, with several different apparatuses on it.  From state of the art to antique, I still listen to and ‘mess’ with them on occasion.  You see I always appreciate the glow from the dial light of old shortwave radios.  I wanted a way to control the RF from my antenna to the different devices without messing with cables.

The name of this device is miss-leading, and I am confident if put to the test, they would call it a ‘name’ and say they never meant it to handle 1000 watts. With the wording CB in the advertisement, they could argue the illegality of using more than 12 watts PEP ergo ‘what were you doing with this thing?’

A smart person could take them to task, in that this thing would perform miserably at 27mhz.

Whoever designed it had a handle on DC but not AC.  The integrity of the 50 ohms impedance is violated, making this a horrible device even for switching between receivers.  Again I knew what to expect when I spent the $20.  Why then did I buy it?

IMG_5771

Real coaxial switches have the same essential components, they are just well thought out.   If you look at the contact on the switch, you can tell that any kind of wattage would burn the connections and or arc over to the next.  In its original construction, I would not even use it for low wattage use.

Below you can see how I modified it with coax and common grounds.  One last modification is to add a ground lug to it, so I can ground the box to earth ground.

IMG_5774

Enjoy your hobbies, and be very wary of crap from the Far East.  While it is all made there, ‘for the most part,’ some companies have a reputation at stake, while some just want to sell cheap junk.

In its original form, it was just that, junk.

-Best

Scott

 

Open letter to Apple

Open letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

It would seem to me that creating an environment where your products have designed obsolescence is wrong on any number of levels.

“An aging relative thought he might like to read on a Kindle type device.  I took my working IPad version 1 and reset it to its factory original specifications.  I then made him an apple account on iTunes and attempted to download Netflix, Kindle and some other games he might enjoy.”

My plan had one major flaw that I had not anticipated.  Not only do all apps require an IOS of a later date but, I cannot update to any more recent IOS that was on there because it is no longer available. The latest IOS will not support the iPad 1, and I suspect the iPad II may be close to becoming obsolete as well.  Since this was my first iPad and I have moved onto the II, IPad Air, and the Pro, I no longer had the backup from that iPad version 1, making it now a paperweight.

Might I suggest that you make available the latest IOS for those devices and a cache of apps that will work with them?  I realize that this might affect people buying new iPads and phones and such vs. keeping their old ones going a little longer but, each phone and each iPad was not cheap. While they may not be a primary device, they will still play a movie or music and serve some purpose vs. filling a landfill.

In the previous case mentioned, a tablet running Android IOS for $100 took care of everything that he needed.  While I would have preferred that he was able to use my iPad 1, I was not about to drop $1000 for a tablet to read, play games and maybe watch Netflix on.

I still have my first iPhone and use it for music, the same is true with the 4S. These are great for plugging into your car.  Even with the cellular service terminated, it will still function to dial 911 in a pinch.  It of course also has your music which plays nicely through the stereo, replacing the iPod.  The apps that I purchased at the time still work beautifully as well.

I must admit that I find it curious how the old updated iPhone 4s performs nicely compared to my 6S which has become slower and slower with every update.  Is that my imagination?  I think not.

The PC industry has been guilty of this for years, although one could blame it on programmers designing software on the latest and greatest hardware.

What we used to refer to as “tight code” is no longer necessary as programmers have terabytes of space, gigahertz of speed and of course gigs of memory to store that slack code in to.

Programming back in the day, was probably more of a challenge than it is today.

Whether the hardware drives the software industry or the other way around, it is the consumer that gets the short end of the stick.

Apple should have a place where one can obtain the latest IOS (or last available) for their particular device, and apps that were written for and worked with that version of the IOS.

While the tail rarely wags the dog, as we are learning with recent events, consumers, if rallied and coordinated, can wag the dog.

Should we organize a campaign to wag the dog?

My two cents!

 

Scott

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Don’t throw it away just yet!

Don’t throw it away just yet!

 

Batteries are a troublesome thing and can be a real source of irritation.  Batteries used in devices like this keyboard, for instance, can be in there a long time before they need to be replaced.  The Current draw is small so the battery could last years.

My mouse was recently acting squirrely so I decided to change the batteries.  When I opened the battery cover the familiar white crystals of “leaked battery” were everywhere.  Managing to clean the contacts I decided to change those in my keyboard as well.  Also leaked everywhere but not near as easy to clean.  Removing about 25 screws to separate the keyboard I was indeed able to clean the contacts and remove the crystals which had formed.

The batteries had a shelf life until 2023.  They were indeed still working.  I had another device that I had used at Christmas last year and put up with the batteries in it.  Retrieving it from the closet I took pictures for you.  Also still had power in them which was amazing but defective.

batt5

Duracell has been my go to battery for decades.  Occasionally I get the other brand and it is a good thing that I did.

Another apparatus that I depend on is a lightening defector by Acurite.

As a radio enthusiast and a bit of an outdoor nut, I want to know if there is weather around.  Here in Texas, we get some rather nasty cloud to ground lightning.

The backlight in the detector was dim so I decided to replace the batteries before the last storm.

Installing the new batteries the apparatus did not work.

batt2

Taking a closer look at the batteries it became apparent that the new version of Duracell AAA batteries has a smaller tit on the positive end.  This means that it may very well not make contact with the battery contacts.

batt1

If you look carefully you can see that there is a gap of a few thousandths of an inch between the end of the battery and the terminal.  This is a common type of connector in radio’s and other battery operated things.

If your device fails to work after replacing the batteries, check this!

If you happen to know anyone at Duracell you might forward this to them.

Houston you have a problem!

Save the landfills and your hard earned money, check the batteries and the connections.

-Best

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.

IMG_3455

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.

IMG_3457

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

 

Why should you use Rent-A-Geeks for your disaster recovery drills?

Why should you use Rent-A-Geeks for your disaster recovery drills?

 

The pushback I get on this one topic is phenomenal.  Their IT people who know their boss better than I, always question the need for a disaster recovery audit in the first place.

“I Get it!  To them, that is synonymous with taking your shoebox full of tax information to the IRS and asking them for an audit. Please let me suffer through an audit because I love pain!”

So who in their right mind would do it?

I can think of no better argument than Puerto Rico.  That island was wiped off the map.  They have no power grid left.  They have no data communications and let’s face it; It will take years for them to recover.

I had customers there, but I bet that those businesses may no longer be viable.

They are requesting of all things truck drivers, among their many lists of needs.  Why?

Their truck drivers were affected by the buss’s called Irma and then Maria.

I am speaking to the owners of businesses with this next sentence. “Folks, your IT guy that tells you that you don’t need an outside firm or audit, is setting you up for disaster.”

Objectivity is essential.  You need an honest assessment by someone who does not have a dog in that fight.

If a team of rent-a-geeks cannot restore your company at a warm site, the DR plan that you think you have is worthless. It may satisfy the ISO folks or the other government or banking or insurance companies, but the sad truth is, in an actual Disaster your people may not be around to add their collective knowledge to the process.

One client did not even look at one I prepared for them.  When I asked if he wanted to go over it he shook his head.  “No, I just need something for the auditor to show that we have one.”

My reports go to you the customer, nowhere else.  My recommendations are put forth in a clear, concise manner that you will not need your IT guy to explain to you.  Read and understand my blogs on the topic and then ask the critical questions.  If you hold your SA’s feet to the fire or your CIO’s feet to the fire, you will far better off than most of the firms I deal with.

One firms CIO that I worked with was not suited for desktop wizard much less the end all be all guru of all things technology.  Now if numbers are what interested the CEO, this was his guy.  He could pinch a nickel with the best of them. “Penny wise pound foolish,” should be on this man’s card.

It does not take an Irma or Maria to sink your business.  It only takes a Ted or Bob or a fire of some small part in the computer room to decimate your company.  Assume nothing!  Do you have the right employees doing the job?

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, and if you have the ability, you might consider donating something to some of the excellent organizations who are working so hard to bring some relief to those affected.

Having lived through Alicia, I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

 

-Best

 

 

Are we cooking ourselves? Here is some food for thought.

Are we cooking ourselves? Here is some food for thought.

 

As a technology minded person, I often wondered about those who design cordless devices.  In particular, I am addressing phones.  I assume some government agency somewhere spent millions of your tax dollars to come up with what someone thinks are safe levels of radiation.

Maybe these people know more than the rest of us, or maybe they don’t.

Case in point.

The standard cordless phone in 2017 most probably transmits to the base either at 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz.  While your phone may advertise the higher frequency of 5.4 GHz that is most probably from the base to the phone.

Split frequency designs like this are prudent as it takes more power to transmit higher frequencies.

Now, these cell phones that we all carry around transmit either in the 850 MHz range or 1.8 ~1.9 GHz range.

MHz (Mega Hertz) stands for millions of cycles per second,  GHz is (Giga Hertz) or billions of cycles per second.  So every second depending upon the frequency, the RF (radio frequency) cycles millions or billions of time.  IE 2.4 GHz is 2 billion, four hundred million, cycles per second.

Frequency should not be confused or conflated with power.

Power for our conversation today is watts.  How much power or how many watts of RF (radio frequency) are we talking about?

Cell phones transmit up to 1.7 watts of power.

Cordless phones transmit as much and possibly more than a cell phone.  The interesting aspect of this is there is this DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) technology that has been around for a little while now.  They sell it as a plus but European studies have shown this might be more hazardous to your health than its predecessor.

The base of this technology is transmitting full power all the time whether your phone is in use or not. If the base is next to your bed or on your desk you are constantly bombarded with 5.4 GHz or at the least 2.4 GHz of radiated power in the form of RF.

Move it away from your body.

Why am I writing about this?

Ever since the first cell phones came out I wondered what they were doing and why.  These phones are always talking to the cell towers announcing their availability and telling them where they are while checking in.  The phone was and is smart enough to adjust its power level depending upon what is needed to communicate with the tower effectively.  The reasons are many but the main idea is to “talk” with one cell tower at a time.

My phone, even today will often time be warm in my pocket, or just sitting on the desk.

While we really have no idea what a smartphone is doing all the time, you can bet if it is warm, it is transmitting something.

IMG_4513

I built this little device with a few diodes.  I will not belabor the technical aspects of this device other than to say it does not have any batteries.  These devices are passive in that the only way that they are energized would be by outside energy fields or EM (electromagnetic) forces.

I got the idea from the crystal radio of my youth.  Yes, I built one and housed it inside a pen casing.  With a single diode and a coil and very little know how I had a radio that would pick up local radio stations and never needed a battery.

Since my original device that I designed and built years ago, I found this version on the internet for a few dollars.

Setting this thing on top of my phone it soon became obvious that the cell phone is transmitting constantly.

  • Is it looking for data?
  • Is the phone talking to the tower?
  • Is the phone talking to my Wi-Fi network?

The answer is yes.  We really have no idea if the phone is doing anything else in the (tin foil hat category).

Now with 1.7 watts of RF at 2GHz, give or take, right next to your ear hole, one has to wonder if that is healthy.

Out of curiosity, I moved my device around the phone to discover that the most of the radiation or highest amounts come out of the phone right by the earpiece.  Why?

Knowing RF and the possible link to brain tumors, lymphoma and other nasty things why would the engineers put the transmitting antenna where it would be closest to your head?

This is the iPhone 6S.

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My curiosity got the best of me so I checked my cordless phones.

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The light powered strictly by RF from the phone is very bright, right on the ear hole and down by the mouthpiece, the light, or power output is nonexistent.

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Imagine that your phone has enough RF power to illuminate an LED to full intensity and that energy is being pumped into your head right through your ear hole and of course next to your skull.

Tell me; why in the hell would you not put the antenna at the base of the phone where it would be furthest away from the body/brain?  The energy required to light the led dissipates with distance.  Logic would dictate that the less energy radiated close to your brain would be a good thing.

The pictures speak for themselves but now you know what you are looking at.

What can we do?

First off, we should ask the government for our money back that they paid for these studies.  One would think that if they can come up with SAR (specific absorption rate) and what is safe that just maybe they might have said, “you know, you phone makers should place the transmitter/antenna away from their brains.”

It is kind of like that commercial where the bank is being robbed and the guard says, “Oh I am not a guard, just a monitor… you are being robbed.”  What good is the FCC if they cannot think outside the box? The government, which they are part of, is to protect its citizens from faulty designs, much like the Corvair of the 60’s.  Where is Ralph Nader these days?

It is amazing to me that they did scientific studies to figure out how much tissue would cook or be damaged by rf.  Then they came up with the acronym SAR and finally did nothing more about it.  “Look for a phone with a low SAR rating.”  Are there labels, using this phone can cause brain cancer?”

What is so germane about 2.4 GHz and why am I sounding a little stressed about this?

That box in your kitchen that burns popcorn so nicely happens to work in that same frequency range.

Since there are millions of microwave ovens out there the FCC put broadband Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and many other unlicensed transmitters that the public uses in that same frequency range as the microwave oven.   Part of your license on each piece of equipment reads something to the effect that this device must accept and deal with  RFI or radiofrequency interference.

How does the microwave oven work and what does that have to do with my phone?

Microwave energy excites the molecules in stuff causing them to move faster.  Much like rubbing your hands together you get friction which causes heat.  That is how a microwave heats your lean cuisine dinner or left-overs from Sunday Brunch.  Yes it uses more power but I ask you, would you stick your head in your microwave to see how long it takes to fry your brains?  Consider the cell phone or cordless phone like a microwave crock pot, it might take longer but eventually, something is bound to be heated up.

Just for you people who think that I am a tin foil hat kind of person think of this one. 

How many of our urchins you call grade schoolers now have the very latest iPhone sticking out of the back pocket.  A trip to any mall will answer this question.  Even if it is a hand me down generation 5, it puts out all sorts of power right next to that thinner more malleable skull and younger more tender, still forming brain tissue.

Then there is this whole blood brain barrier thing that doctors talk about.  Does it really seem like a wise idea to put that kind of power that close to those newly formed brain cells?  They are future tax payers you know. Wink wink…

Possibly one of them will say, “someone should really put the transmitter in the base of this thing away from my brain.” Will it take a child to figure this out?  Maybe a riot on the Berkly campus to get the attention of corporate america who might tend to overlook such things.

I know, I am gettin my tin foil out… 

With telecommunications being a multi-trillion dollar industry it is no wonder that this is overlooked.  Much like the back scatter x-ray porn scanners at the airport which virtually strip search you, there is a greater good.  Bombarding our bodies with ionizing radiation is not harmful as long as the government says that it is ok. (sarcasm)

Calling attention to it might cost Nokia or Apple or Panasonic a few dollars.  What is the big deal about a few brain tumors, “can you hear me now?”

Since industry will probably not respond, how can you protect yourself?

Blue Tooth technology also uses RF in the same 2.4 GHz range but the power is very low.  A class one transmitter uses about 1mw or Millie Watt.  There is a newer headset that wraps around your neck with the earpiece extending from them.  That would put the blue tooth transceiver around your neck away from your brain.

Try to always use a headset or speakerphone, and if they still have them, a corded phone.

Use e-mail or text and by all means try talking to people face to face.  I know that is a radical concept but, I don’t think you are in danger of getting exposed to radiation that way.

About the device…

While the original crystal radio of my day used a 1N34 germanium diode this device uses nine 1SS86 diodes one tied to the other with an LED as one of the diodes.  The legs are purposefully left long like that as they act as the antenna to capture any energy that might be present.

If you are creative you could make it look like a bug with a tail and a head that glowed.  Just a thought.

I am not claiming to be an expert on any of this.  Just a person who thinks common sense is in limited supply.  These days we too readily accept that which is, without asking why.  Ask Why!

Cheers!

Scott

 

Netflix Scam

Netflix Scam

 

No Netflix is not the problem, a phishing scam, however, is out that you should be aware of.

Since so many of us now receive our entertainment over the internet, it is a good gamble that you might have Netflix.

Again many of us have it set up to bill once a month from some sort of banking institution whether it be your bank, credit card or PayPal. The e-mail looks like it came from Netflix until you look a little closer at the sent from.

Netflix AT dallas180.arvixeshared.com  (don’t e-mail to it…)

You will notice it is not Netflix.com

The message is telling you that they were unable to get your payment info and if you don’t update the info soon you will lose Netflix.

Then, of course, there is a link that they want you to follow.

God only knows how many will fall for this. Considering it was sent to tens of thousands you can bet a percentage will click and update. Always check to see that the sending e-mail is legitimate. IE Netflix.com and, hover over the link and make sure it stays Netflix.com and not something like I posted.

If you question it at all, call the institution or get online, not following any link from an e-mail and check for yourself. Once they get money from your account, if that is indeed their ploy it will be gone. The ploy could simply be to get you to click so they can put some sort of virus or cookie on your computer. E-mail is an excellent way to get infected, and because the scheme requires input from you, your protection might just allow it.

Practice safe computing… -Best

 

A commentary on Social Media

A commentary on Social Media

 

The recent ouster of Bill Oreilly from Fox news was surprising.  We have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of the executive suites at Fox.  We have no clue what has transpired if anything between the popular opinion show host, and his co-workers or guests.

There is the talk of a $13 million dollar payoff to five women.

Do we know for a fact that it happened?

My point is not to try the case of Bill’s behavior at the workplace.  The simple facts are, we have no facts!

What we do know, there is a long history of people becoming targets who are in the public eye.  How many times has someone been accused of saying or doing something untoward that was not true?  Too many to count.

In this country, we are innocent until proven guilty.

Read that last statement again and reflect on that.  The people, and I use the word “people” on social media loosely, have tried and convicted a man with no evidence, only hearsay!    Whether the man is innocent or guilty is not the point.  The point is that we want to believe the worst of someone who we take umbrage with. The tweets and comments on social media show the absolute worst side of our nature, for all the world to see.  He had the number one rated show on cable news for over 20 years!  Do you think that was a fluke!?

Not only are we so polarized that we cannot even be polite to someone who might have a different view than we do but, we scorn and scoff at anyone who is not ready to lynch Bill and everyone else that works for Fox. There were many threats aimed at other hosts who work for Fox today.  Is that the way we work now.  I thought we did not like Bullies, when did that change?

I expect this kind of rhetoric on Twitter.  The Twitter-verse where anything goes, and there are no real names associated with your vile forms of contempt.  I expect it on Facebook which is, after all, social media but there, a name is associated with your opinions and, we can assume that your audience knows you!

I do not condone it however and block much of it, as I would rather not see the hatred which is spewing out from many who are still not happy with the election results.

I was genuinely shocked to see this on Linked In, however.  To witness the vitriolic, hateful rhetoric from people who use this form of media to obtain employment and or showcase to the perspective employers of the world how employable they are is just outrageous! It is like piercing and tattooing your face, and trying to get a job as a model for Vogue.  After you are disqualified for obvious reasons, you then sue them for discrimination.  Where did you graduate from that you think this is ok?

As a manager for most of my professional life, I must tell you that I look on the internet before I hire.  After all the hurdles that one must jump through even to get an interview, do you think it wise to display your ignorance and your small minded demeanor for the entire world to see?

Linked In is not Facebook.  Linked in is a professional network which is not the place to air your witlessness.

It makes little difference how you “feel” about a TV personality.  To bloviate incessantly in a pejorative manner is ill advised on any media, much less Linked In.

 

-Best