Comments from my life, family, and projects I enjoy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Random Thing In No Particular Order

I've had a folder with some photo's I would like to share. Many of them are not related, but I think I will throw them all into one post. So get ready. This will be random and I will just jump from topic to topic.


Back in the spring of this year I spotted something odd on the side of the highway while going to work. At first I thought it was a stuffed animal, but a second look revealed what looked like a large cat. I looped around and stopped to take a closer look. It was an adult female bobcat. She was hit on a section of interstate that passes through some farmland adjacent to the Congaree river. I hated to see she was killed by the traffic, but felt lucky to have seen such a beautiful creature up close. It is my understanding that these animals have adapted well to living close to humans and are sometimes spotted in urban areas after dark. I thought this was interesting and unusual enough to post on the blog and share with others. I hope you find it interesting as well.

Now for something of beauty. Fall is just around the corner in our part of the world, and I have noticed many of the insects of summer are near the end of their life cycle and are slowing down in their final days. This afternoon I spotted an almost perfect butterfly in the back yard. It even allowed me to get close and take some snapshots.

I have also been wanting to talk about some kitchen knives I like to use. My favorite knives are what some people would call "those ugly old knives". I'm sure many of you may recall similar knives in the kitchens of an elderly Aunt or your Grandma's kitchen drawer. If you were lucky enough to inherit some and smart enough not to toss them out, then you probably know why they are my favorites. These old high carbon steel knives are easy to sharpen and take a wonderful edge. The downside is, they will rust if not properly cared for. That means you can't run them through the dishwasher. They must be hand washed and dried before putting them away. I know that most people prefer the modern stainless steel knives that are shiny and can go through the dishwasher, but I just don't like them. Stainless is hard to sharpen and I can never get an acceptable edge. With the old high carbon steel knives, all I have to do to get a fresh sharp edge is about three strokes on each side of the blade across a sharpening steel and the blade is sharp. Here is a photo of my "old ugly knives". A couple I purchased and the others were made by my Grandfather. His favorite material for knife blades was old saw blades. I hope to pass these on to my son, and I hope he learns to cherish them as much as I do.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some Things That are Cheaper and Better Now Than In the Past

Anyone that reads this blog on a regular basis will know of my fondness for older items that were designed well and built to last, but there are some things that have actually improved over the years. In some cases these items are much better thanks to modern materials and computer aided design. Some things that immediately come to mind are automobile tires and batteries. The last battery I replaced in my old Nissan lasted more than 7 years and was not an expensive high-line battery. Quite amazing I think. When I first started driving back in the 1970's it was considered good to get 3 years out of even an expensive battery. Today's tires also perform better, stop shorter, are less likely to hydroplane, return better fuel mileage and last much longer. When I was a teen' it was considered good to get 40000 miles out of a set of tires. Today even the cheapest tires will easily last that long while outperforming even the best tires of the '70s. More expensive tires often last up to 80000 miles or more if properly maintained.

And while many of the older electronic devices were well designed and manufactured with care, some of the components available to designers today are nothing short of phenomenal. Capacitors have always been a weak part of many designs and electrolytics in particular are prone to failure or loss of capacitance as they age. The MCS 3275 receiver I have been repairing is no exception. I will be replacing all the electrolytics in that device while I have it on the bench. The power amplifier voltage supply is filtered by a pair of Rubicon 10000uF 63 volt caps. A good quality part when it was made and probably one of the more expensive passive devices in the set. One of the challenges faced when sourcing a replacement is finding a part that is physically large enough to fit in the original mount without having too much capacitance. The replacements I chose are Panasonic CE THA of 15000uf at 63 volts. The new part is considerably shorter than the original, but the critical mounting dimension is the diameter, so this one will fit without modification. The capacitance is higher than original, but still close enough that it won't require any circuit modifications. It should actually perform better.

Oh, I almost forgot. The power amplifier repair on the 3275 was successful.  Good clean audio from both channels and no smoke.

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About Me

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Midlands of South Carolina, United States
Husband, Father, Quality Engineer, Electronics Professional, and tinkerer. Facinated by old technology and well made old tools. Old iron is good.