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Remodeling and it's Dayton Time Again

   Olivia is doing well.  She is growing like a weed, making a lot more sounds and can lift her own head and look around.  Aliesha is back to work now so I have her to myself from about 6 to 9 each night.  It's nice to get to spend some time with her.  Meanwhile, we lost our renters who where going to come in August.  This means we need to get working on the other side of the duplex and finish it up ASAP.  Needless to say radio projects will be slowing down even more though hopefully not quite stopping.

   Next door is a mess.  The shower needs replaced. There is a bar in it for hanging a washcloth and the holes are busted out around it.  It looks like someone tried to patch it with Bondo or some form of glue or something.  Whatever it was it is hard to tell because it has deteriorated quite a bit.  It looks more like something the old owner would have done so I don't think it was the last set of renters.  I considered trying to cut the bar out and then patch the holes myself only better.  I was thinking of cutting out some sort of shapes in  a plastic panel and attaching it carefully with PVC glue so it would look like a decorative part of the shower's design and not a patch.  Unfortunately the holes go right up against a curvy edge so I don't think I can hide that.  Also I found some small cracks forming elsewhere and the metal pieces are all corroding.  It looks like this shower has got to go.  Maybe that will be a project I can write about here.

   The downstairs shower fortunately can be saved.  One issue it did have was the floor was stained black really bad.  I guess the renters had dirty feet?  Nothing seemed to get it out and then our friend Jay loaned Aliesha a steam cleaner.  It's taking a while but Aliesha has been getting it out with that.  Apparently if you have a greasy, grimy rubbed in stain on plastic that is the way to go.  I'll try to get a picture or at least the make/model of the cleaner in case anyone has a similar issue to deal with.  I was going to try Retrobright on it but Aliesha is getting it with the steamer first.  I still intend to make some Retrobright though.  On our side I saved some of the existing light fixtures and the oven hood by repainting them.  I found a light spray of white Krylon will make the plastic fixtures look like new again.  I highly recommend the stuff.  For the oven hood I used a can of 'Appliance Paint'.  I don't remember who made it but apparently this paint was formulated (or at least marketed) specifically for appliances.  It worked great!  The one thing I couldn't do this way is the little plastic window that goes over the lightbulb in the hood.  I can't paint it since it has to let light through.  It was kind of yellow on our side but on the renters side I am doing both the upstairs and basement hoods and they are very yellow.  They are yellowed to the point I think they block to much of the light.  I think I will see what Retrobright does to clear plastic.  If it works then great, if it messes them up and clouds them worse I guess that's ok because I don't have a better idea.  In that case I will just have to go get some clear plastic and cut new windows.  So long as I am making the Retrobright I though I might as well use them on some of the wall-plates, bathroom fans and whatever other plastic fixtures I find so that I don't have to buy as many replacements or as much spray paint.

   The other big jobs next door are replacing the sliding doors and painting the half bath.  Actually we could use a new sliding door on both sides but on the renter's side the door is really bad.  It is very hard to get shut once it is open.  We might wait until it is filled and we have received a month's rent or two but it cannot stay.  Also, every room needs painted but that half bath is going to be hard because we will need to strip the old paint.  The previous owner or maybe some renter who was trying to hide something seems to have painted it with outdoor house paint.  New paint doesn't quite stick to it right plus the old paint is full of thick drips and runs which can't be covered up.  I tried stripping a small section using my hot air gun and another using Citrus based paint stripper.  The hot air gun worked but not well enough to consider doing a whole room that way.  The citrus stuff took the paint right off.  I think I will probably use it on the whole room though I am a bit worried about how much that will take.  If you have ever used traditional paint stripper you know it is nasty.  It emits noxious fumes and eats through just about any glove you can find like it is alive and bent on eating your hand.  This citrus stuff is great, it's no less pleasant than painting your room with orange juice though much less sticky.  I definitely recommend this stuff.  I suspect there are multiple brands selling the same thing but I'll try to get a picture up just the same.

   Meanwhile anyone visiting my site probably knows what weekend it is... it's Dayton weekend.  I was going to just head down on the TMRA bus for the day Saturday rather than stay overnight given the new baby and the work that needs done.  A few weeks ago Chris S., a good friend of mine from College surprised me by showing up for Poker.  It turns out he lives in Dayton so now we are all heading down there and spending the weekend.  It will be our first time meeting his wife and kid.  Of course we will be at the Hamvention during the day but Chris says that is fine as they have just moved among other things are are really busy.  just hanging out for a few hours afterward will be about just right.  If you happen to be one of the people I usually invite and wonder why you haven't heard from me don't feel bad.  I don't want to fill Chris's house!  Since I intended to take the TMRA bus I was just going to suggest to anyone that asked that they could do the same.  It will be interesting bringing the wife and kid.  Olivia really likes to go out and see new things so I think she will have lots of new sites there.  It will still be kind of a long day for her though.  I worry a little about Aliesha keeping occupied as she isn't so interested in the radio stuff.  Then again, last time I took her to a hamfest she bought herself a laptop!

   I don't have the big parts list I had last year.  Since I haven't gotten that far in assembling the projects I was shopping for then I haven't made much of a new list now.  I do intend to get an ammeter so I can finish my SWR meter project.  I have quite a few lying around already but they are all for x-hundred milliamps and I need to measure between about 50 and 200 microamps.  I tried disassembling a couple to see if there was a shunt resistor I could remove but didn't have any luck.  I would also like to get some SA602s some random OpAmps a bunch of assorted (but labeled!!!) torroid cores and some blank PCBs.  At the very least I am likely to use the 602 in a receiver to go with the Michigan Mighty Mite and the rest would be nice to have around so that when I see a project on the internet I would like to assemble I will be likely to have the parts and can just do it.

   I plan on looking for screws, nuts and washers too.  I am going to look for 6-32s,  M3s and maybe 4-40s.  I picked those sizes because they are the standard sizes using in computer cases.  I have a nice collection of computer screws already.  They probably won't be a lot of use in construction projects as they are short but having them be compatible will still probably come in handy at some point.  Another group of 6-32s I have lying around are the screws used for installing electrical sockets and switches.  I have a bunch of those from when we remodeled the last two places and will probably have more from the current project.  Most have partially painted heads and are a little chewed up so I still want new ones for projects that I intend to look nice but again, the more things are compatible the more useful they are likely to be.

   I will also have my eye on some assembled goods.  In particular I am considering getting a di or triplexer, a discone, or a lighter mobile antenna.  I'm also interested in the M3 Semiconductor Analyzer.  That's kind of a lower priority since I can order it any time. It would be nice to get it at the Hamvention though.  Last year I stumbled upon it after I was pretty much out of money.  What I actually noticed was that the guy at the booth has my callsign but with one letter missing.  At first glance out of the corner of my eye I thought someone was pretending to be me!  We talked for a while and the analyzer has been on my list of 'will have eventually' since.  I will probably go for the non-kit version though.  When I asked if there was a difference in performance he suggested the non-kit might be slightly more accurate due to it's use of surface mound components. It's not a  huge difference but time not spend constructing that can be spend constructing something with the parts I identify using it right?  I have a large mass of assorted diodes I bought in a pack a few years back.  Many don't even have numbers on them!  I know some are rectifiers but some are germanium, shottky zener and more too. Anyway, all of these things are definitely not in the budget this year.  Which if any I get is going to depend on what I see and what kind of mood I'm in when I see it.

   I don't intend to be entirely about the shopping this year either.  I will be looking for the GQRP club, after listening to so much about it on Soldersmoke I will probably join.  I'm looking forward to checking out the new Discover Homebrew section. Maybe some year I will have something to show there?!?  I'd like to attend the Arduino for Ham Radio forum Sunday morning too.  I just hope I still have the energy to do so by then!  We will be leaving very early Saturday morning and I intend to spend some time with our friends after the hamfest Saturday evening too!

   As for the current projects I have been pretty busy and haven't gotten too far.  I did receive the breadboard for the Michigan Mighty Mite.  I had decided to just use double sided sticky pads to stick it to the board.  That way I won't be making any holes in the wood after I took the trouble to varnish it and apply polyurethane. That way it will still look nice if when I make it permanent I don't use a board with the same dimensions as the breadboard.  Unfortunately what I didn't realize is that these cheap breadboards don't have solid bottoms.  It's just a layer of tape holding the contacts in place!  I am afraid that if I stick it on that way the tape and contacts will pull off when I go to remove it.  I will probably glue a blank PCB to the bottom and apply the pads to that. If I don't get PCBs down in Dayton I am watching some on EBay.  I have also worked on my kit a bit.  I am not yet ready to divulge what it is but I have made some progress.  I think this might actually happen.  I will be scoping out possible parts supplies and asking for business cards or other contact info while I am in Dayton but I'm not ready to commit by investing in parts yet.  Maybe I shouldn't write about this so much, it's a first time design for me so it isn't anything very spectacular, I don't want to talk it up and then disappoint!

   The project getting the most of my time (at least radio wise) for the last week is something I hadn't talked about yet, power wires for my Jeep.  Last year I attempted to do APRS on the way down but failed.  A big part of that was power.  I had a jumbled mess of wires going to a cigarette lighter style power socket. (I know, I know) This is a 20 amp circuit, plenty for my radio and I have never had an issue with alternator noise.  I couldn't find an easy way through the firewall to run a wire either.  Besides the jumbled mess my laptop battery has been non-functional for years.  The first time we stopped for gas I forgot this.  Even the non-keyed outlet loses a bit of power for a moment when the engine starts and this rebooted the laptop.  Given my frustration at that point APRS was over for the day.

   Now I have tapped into the source of my 20-amp outlet for power and also the other switched outlet for switching.  The switched outlet feeds a relay coil which switches the power from the 20-amp one.  I have a toggle switch which swaps the switched outlet for as second tap of the non-switched one so I can stay on with the engine off if I want to.  I have two feeds coming out of the relay, one into my center console tape storage area and the other out an ash tray to the back seat.  I put a 47 ohm resistor inline with the coil to limit current and a protection diode reverse-polarized across it.  I know 47 ohms isn't much but I tried many values.  The coil has surprisingly high resistance itself so this was the highest I could use and still reliably activate the relay.  I also run the 20-amp feed through a nice big fat rectifier diode from that unidentified assortment I mentioned earlier.  I have a large sealed lead acid battery behind the passenger seat which I can plug into the feed in the ashtray.  That's the reason for the rectifier, I don't want the car taking power from that battery, only vice-versa.  Now I should be able to hook in my laptop with no worries of causing a reboot when I start/stop the engine.  The one thing I don't have is a powerpole splitter.  We wil probably want that on the trip but I think I can borrow one from Chris KC8UFV.  I can't believe the price on those things, it's just a DC splitter!  It's not like it's an RF diplexer or something!  I was going to just make one myself but I am out of time.

Well, that's about it for now I'm sure I will have more to write about in a few days! Oh, one other thing, we aren't leavig the house empty of course.  We still have a friend who lives downstairs, she will probably be happy to come upstairs and enjoy some sunlight coming through the windows with us gone and can hear if anyone gets into the rental side.

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