Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Corvette Summer Living

The question is not do you want to buy the car, but who is that sitting on the fender? Showing up to purchase this vehicle would necessitate a trip with the seller to their local bar. There would be some excuse to accompany like "the only blue ball point pen in 30 miles." Once there, if you were cordial, you would be able to satisfy this social contract, have a beer and still emerge a 'good guy', squinting in the late, low slung sun of Reseda. However, if you managed to hang in there for a couple of beers and - god forbid - a shot, well then you are sort of stuck. Like a cross between novel plaything and a prisoner. Though, in those dark moments, you may learn the sexual orientation of the individual sitting on the car.

Corvette on eBay

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hard Earned Experience - 20 Things I Learned About Antennas

As I own a coin laundry with three television sets, the digital television conversion has been a particularly thorny transition. Admittedly, the coin laundry industry deals with a more complex matrix of considerations than would present themselves to consumers and most businesses. For example, the theft deterrent aspect of a tube television is of great benefit.

For years, analog antenna reception has been a wonderfully worry-free proposition. It was cheap, reliable and yielded a high quality picture. Digital TV has been less successful.

1. Winegard offers an impressive array of products.
2. Antennaweb is great.
3. VHF/UHF/FM antennas are not great at VHF, UHF or FM. They are a compromise for everything.
4. Antennas are fairly cheap, very light and mounting bracket choices are plentiful.
5. Antennas are sharp and will cut you.
6. Distribution amplifiers from Radio Shack are worthless.
7. Mast mount amplifiers from Winegard help quite a bit.
8. KMEX channel 34 is a particularly popular TV channel. Interruption of that channel causes great aggravation.
9. KMEX Channel 34 is a particularly difficult channel to receive.
10. The digital TV signal is in the same frequency ranges as UHF/VHF. Therefore, a digital TV antenna is no different than a regular TV antenna.
11. The different length antenna tines are tuned to different frequencies. The short ones are for UHF.
12. UHF is directional, so if you are trying to tweak and peak UHF channels, like KMEX Channel 34, point the short tines towards the signal per antennaweb.
13. 300 ohm to 75 ohm converters are still required.
14. The true geeked out solution is to have a tall mast with separate VHF, UHF and FM antennas daisy chained together with twin lead wire.
15. Cable and satellite service for a business is about 8 times more expensive than the same service for home.
16. Electronic City in Burbank is always impressive and their knowledge of TV antenna technology is very robust. They are generous with good advice which is a great value.
17. Digital TV is a much more difficult signal to capture. Analog is much, much more forgiving.
18. It is very difficult to find digital tube TVs.
19. Mistake - trying individual powered 35db gain antennas on each TV because you think that you are over-splitting the signal is a bad approach.
20. Overkill it. Buy bigger antennas and taller masts.

In the end, I have two masts, two VHF/UHF/FM antennas, 1 UHF antenna, a mast mount amplifier, 2 new Coby TVs, 1 new Coby TV that arrived DOA and 1 broken TV power switch caused by individual so angry that they couldn't watch the telenovelas that they hit the television with a stick.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wiring Harness

After on-again/off-again working on this wiring harness, today I finally decided to just start from scratch. To rebuild the harness was a fraction of the time I had dedicated to troubleshooting. A couple of things to remember for next time: solid core wire is definitely the way to go with that style of light socket and solderless crimp connectors are for suckers.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Type of Screw That Holds Plastic Bullshit Together

I have always loved the term 'nail straightener' as it refers to an individual so pragmatic and so frugal that they will straighten an old nail for reuse. When the term is used, which is infrequent, it is often a term of derision to poke at the sensibilities of an individual who has such a low opinion of the value of their own time that they would engage in such penny folly.

Though I don't straighten nails, I do cut the power cords off discarded VCRs that have been left in alleys. And before I throw away a plastic coffee maker or inkjet printer, I salvage all the screws that hold it shut. Beyond being frugal, it is an issue of not being able to buy that type of screw. Screws for holding plastic cases shut are vaguely self tapping, usually chrome plated, with threads finer than a wood screw but not as aggressive as a drywall screw. Ubiquitous in the world, holding our junk together, this type of screw never makes an appearance in even the most well stocked hardware stores.

I suppose if you are specing hardware for manufacture, you know the real name, but I simply know it as The Type of Screw that Holds Plastic Bullshit Together.