This is the sixth part of an “N” part series documenting my restoration of the Hickok 209A VTVM, SN 1333254.
Hickok 209A VTVM Restoration Part 6: Component replacement decisions
In this Part 6 of the series I will document the condition of the passive circuit components in the Hickok 209A VTVM, and justify why I decided to replace (or not replace) them.
Initial resistor and capacitor measurements Hickok 209A
Starting with the resistors, I measured 8 initially, and of those 5 were out of marked specification on the high side. One more was right at the high side specification and two were within specification. These were all 5% and 10% tolerance carbon composition resistors. Based on these data, I made the decision to replace all the 5% and 10% carbon composition resistors. I used 1% metal oxide resistors with … Read More »
This the fifth part of an “N” part series documenting my restoration of the Hickok 209A VTVM, SN 1333254. Hickok 209A VTVM Restoration Part 5: Checking the meter movement.
This piece of test gear is all about the large, beautiful meter movement, so I need to determine if this one works properly. What I intend to do is connect the meter to a precision power supply and good ammeter through a current limiting resistor and then determine how the meter responds. The meter is supposed to be a 500uA full scale movement.
Here is the test setup:
Analog Meter Test Instrumentation Setup
A 10kohm limiting resistor is connected in series with the power supply. The power supply is a Tektronix PS5004 and the meter is a Tektronix DM5120.
Full Scale Deflection on the meter was about 497 uA:
Analog … Read More »
This the fourth part of an “N” part series documenting my restoration of the Hickok 209A VTVM, SN 1333254. Hickok 209A VTVM Restoration Part 4: Restoring the battery holder.
In Part 3 of this series I documented the condition of the D Cell battery holder and outlined the restoration plan for the unit. The first step is to remove and restore the corroded battery holder.
Hickok 209A SN 133254 Corroded Battery Holder
Besides the obvious corrosion, the white connecting wire to the negative terminal was corroded under the insulation from the battery spring clip to the switch solder lug. I replaced the entire length of this wire. The other short wire and ring terminal were cleaned as described below.
Hickok 209A SN 133254 Corroded Terminal Wire
The process I used to restore the battery holder:
Desolder the two … Read More »
This the third part of an “N” part series documenting my restoration of the Hickok 209A VTVM, SN 1333254. Hickok 209A VTVM Restoration Part 3, corrosion issues and restoration plan.
As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, a visual inspection of the chassis of the 209A revealed a serious corrosion problem with the battery holder. The corrosion had migrated to the bottom of the case but not to the remaineder of the chassis. There were no batteries in the unit when I received it.
Hickok 209A SN 1333254 Battery Holder Corrosion
Hickok 209A SN 1333254 Battery Holder Corrosion
Hickok 209A SN 1333254 Battery Holder Corrosion
Hickok 209A SN 1333254 Battery Holder Corrosion
From the above images, it is clear that the battery holder will require some corrosion mitigation and restoration. Fortunately, it is restorable as the parts are … Read More »
This the second part of an “N” part series documenting my restoration of the Hickok 209A VTVM, SN 1333254. Hickok 209A VTVM Restoration Part 2, visual inspection.
Outside visual inspection results:
Overall good visual condition outsideMeter appears to move freely and does not stickMeter face is excellent and there are no scratches on the glassMeter bezel is dirty, but does not appear to be corrodedArea of corrosion noted at bottom of caseThe case has some minor paint scuffs and nicks accumulated over the past 60 yearsLine cord appears to be original and looks to be in good conditionHas an original rubber grommet where the line cord enters the caseNo obviously broken parts: lamp, pin sockets, dials are in good conditionHas DC Probe (reads 3.36 Mohms)No AC probe but does have the 4 wire AC probe connectorNo pin tip test … Read More »
This is the first installment in a multi-part series documenting my restoration of a classic Hickok 209A VTVM. First a description and some images:
This is a Vacuum Tube VoltMeter (VTVM) with a nominal 12 Mohm input impedance and one of the largest mechanical meter movements found on commerical/consumer equipment (viewing area about 8.5 inches diagonal). It was produced from about 1947 (earliest direct evidence) to at least 1961 (catalog reference). One of the units I have has 03-09-55 written in grease pencil on the back of the meter movement. The cost in 1947 was (reportedly) $133 USD which is about $1500 USD in late 2018. In comparison, the HP 410A (a lab grade instrument) sold for $245 USD in 1948 or about $2500 USD in late 2016 dollars. So the Hickok 209A was not aimed at the laboratory … Read More »
HP 1340A Display Repair
I purchased a couple of HP 1340A XYZ Displays which I thought would be useful as troubleshooting aids and as graphical displays of CRT technology (oscilloscope clocks, and the like). Upon receiving them, they both worked, but careful visual inspection showed some potentially serious problems. I will document the repair process here.
HP 1340A Overview
HP 1340A Overview
HP 1340A Overview
HP 1340A Overview
HP 1340A Overview
HP 1340A Rear Panel, High Serial Number
Visual inspection of the units revealed the following problems:
Heat damaged A1R81 (both units)Heat damaged A2R13 (both units)Loose mounting hardware and corroded wiring on A2Q2 (one unit)
Heat Damaged Components
LVPS A2Q2 Damage
Heat Damaged Components
A2Q2 is mounted directly to the case for heatsink purposes. The hardware was loose, therefore the transistor effectively had no heatsink. I suspect that it had been running hot for quite some time because the PVC insulation … Read More »
Based on my own observations and reading, the CRT in the HP 3562A is a marvelous piece of engineering. However, it literally fatigues over time and at some point the deterioration cannot be compensated for by the range of adjustments. The solution is to replace the ageing CRT display with a modern LCD. It turns out that SimmConn Labs has such a kit:
Terry at D-Lab Electronics did a good video on how to replace the original CRT with the LCD Kit from NewScope:
Terry does a great job of documenting the replacement process, so I will focus on the before/after results. I will start with original CRT images, followed by LCD images and by split screen comparison images. Since I also purchased the RGB to VGA adapter cable from SimmConn, I will conclude with an … Read More »
When doing work on older audio gear it is sometimes necessary to maintain a 600 ohm impedance from, for example, a signal generator to a DUT or a piece of test gear. An easy way to do this is with a 600 ohm terminator. The article will document how I built such a terminator.
First I want to acknowledge the work of ElPaso TubeAmps (David Beard) who covered this very subject several years ago:
50 ohm and 75 ohm BNC terminators are relatively easy to obtain, but 600 ohm terminators harder to come by. The solution is to build one as follows:
Obtain a suitable 50 or 75 ohm BNC terminator . You need the type which can be opened. One clue is that it may have flats on the end of the barrel which were used during assembly.The … Read More »
Early in 2018, I purchased an HP 3562A Dynamic Signal Analyzer for an excellent price on Ebay. The display looked great and it was physically in good condition. However, the unit failed the power on self test as follows:
HP 3562A Error Message on boot
This error code indicates a ROM IC failure.
HP3562A Diagnostic LED’s indicate Hex code 4 4 (0100 0100)
This code indicates a failure of ROM Chip U105:
HP 3562A Rev B ROM board. The problem ROM chip is the fifth chip down in first column (U105)
HP 3562A ROM Board Rev B
This ROM board is an older version using 32kx8 chips in two groups (Low Byte & High Byte) of 18 chips each. I had access to a second 3562A, and swapping ROM boards confirmed that the ROM board was the problem. Now I needed to:
Locate a suitable set … Read More »
AC Line Voltage 34 Hour Log
I recently updated my iPad Air 2 to iOS 12.1 only to find that it would no longer charge via my computer’s USB 3.0 port. Specifically, I had been using, for many months, a decent quality aftermarket cable to connect/charge the iPad to my PC. There were no issues with charging or connectivity using the same configuration prior to the iOS 12.1 update.
A bit of digging suggested a two-part solution:
Power off and restart the iPadUse a genuine Apple cable
Well, powering off and restarting (using the same aftermarket cable) did not work; the iPad still would not charge. However either changing to a genuine Apple cable or a different aftermarket cable together with a power off and restart, did work. The iPad is now charging normally from the USB 3.0 port on my PC. … Read More »
I have completed updating this site to use HTTPS. Enjoy!
Update: Having a few hiccups after updating to HTTPS. The public facing site became unreachable after a day or so, while the backend was working fine. GreenGeeks support suggested that my Cloudflare configuration was the culprit and recommended a couple of changes to the configuration.
It looks like this was the case, because the site is now reachable again after making the suggested tweaks to Cloudflare. Another issue arose with some pages not loading/working I had to manually edit the code to point to the correct https source which fixed that problem .
Also this prompted me to get rid of a fragment of Adobe Flash code that was still running on the site (a good thing) but served no useful purpose.
As EDI said: “It … Read More »
Weather Underground keeps Webcams
The Weather Underground PWS Network is a huge network of over 250,000 so called “backyard” or personal weather stations in North America and around the world. From the Weather Underground PWS page:
“Weather Underground is a global community of people connecting data from environmental sensors like weather stations and air quality monitors so we can provide the rich, hyperlocal data you need to power your passions. The future of weather is personal, hyperlocal, and smarter than you think. Join our global community and contribute to the future of forecasting.
Our network of sensors means more data. More data means better forecasts when it matters most. While everyone benefits from better data, sensor owners enjoy:
Precision: Get weather conditions for your exact location (not your neighbor’s or at the airport)
Visualization: See comprehensive dashboards and graphs of your station data
Historical: Archive your … Read More »
Ebay IC Tester Instructions
The ubiquitous IC/Component tester found on Ebay usually comes without any instructions or documentation:
The unit I purchased came with a one page, 2-sided photocopy instruction sheet, so I thought I would share it here:
As far as I can tell, this unit will identify and test the following:
Common linear and logic IC’s
Some transistors; seems to be limited to bipolar
It does not appear to identify:
Three terminal regulators
Thanks for reading,
Tektronix CG5001/CG5011 Pulse Rise Time Measurement
I wanted to measure the rise time of the normal and fast edge pulses in a new acquired Tektronix CG5011 calibration generator. The equipment line is as follows:
Tektronix TM5006 mainframe
Tektronix CG5011 Calibration Generator
Tektronix CG5001 Calibration Generator
Tektronix/Tegam 015-0611-01 Pulse Head
HP 83480A Communications Analyzer
HP 83483A Electrical Sampling Module (20GHz)
Background: The original 015-0311-00/01 pulse head was used in combination with the CG551AP and CG5001 calibration generators. The 015-0611-00/01 pulse head is the later version used on the CG5010 and CG5011 calibration generators. The primary differences between the later 0611 and earlier 0311 are:
The 0611 has faster edge rise time of <150 ps or < 160 ps for the Tegam version
The 0311 has slower edge rise time of <200 ps
The 0611 is larger (taller) than the 0311
The 0611 made by Tegam has an SMA output connector
The 611 made by … Read More »
Tektronix 7904A S52 Pulse Response
This post documents my investigations into the following vintage electronic gear:
Tektronix 7904A Mainframe (500 MHz Bandwidth)
Tektronix S52 Pulse Head (tr<25ps)
Tektronix S4 Sampling Head (tr < 25ps)
Tektronix 7S12 TDR/Sampler Plug-in
Here is the test setup:
HP 8903B Audio Analyzer PCB Pad Replacement
Visual inspection of my recently acquired HP 8903B Audio Analyzer revealed that the polymer pads on the bottom side of the main PCB were seriously deteriorated:
Besides making an unsightly mess, this residue may form corrosive products which, over time, could damage the PCB. Also, the pads no longer perform their bottom cover to PCB isolation function. So all the old pads and residue had to be removed and new pads installed. Lintless wipes, isopropyl alcohol, and nitrile gloves were the chosen tools.
The residue cleaned up completely, and new pads were installed. I won’t need to … Read More »
Tektronix 7854 Waveform Keyboard Rebuild
From the Tek Wiki:
The Tektronix 7854 Waveform Processing Oscilloscope, introduced in 1980, is a 400 MHz combined analog / digital mainframe in the 7000 series that takes two vertical and two horizontal 7000-series plug-ins. In addition to a conventional analog (real time) scope, it contains an equivalent-time sampling 10-bit digitizer and a programmable waveform processor with GPIB interface. The waveform processor can be programmed using a detachable calculator-style keyboard, using postfix operators (“reverse Polish notation” like HP calculators) that operate on entire waveforms, not just individual numbers.
Tek 7854 Mainframe #2 after cleaning
It is to the repair of the detachable keyboard that this post is devoted. I purchased a keyboard for a reasonable price only to find that some keys were intermittent, and some did not work at all.
Opening up the keyboard showed … Read More »
The uTracer Tube Tester and Curve Tracer
I have completed building my uTracer (micro Tracer) computer based vacuum tube tester and curve tracer. This unit, designed by Ronald Dekker described on his website:
The uTracer is much more than a simple tube tester; it is also a curve-tracer. It measures both the anode as well as the screen currents for a range of specified bias conditions, and arranges the measurements in meaningful sets of curves. From these curves parameters like the transconductance or the output resistance can then be extracted and plotted as a function of bias. Alternatively the uTracer can be used as a tester which extracts important parameters like Ia, Rp, gm and um in your favorite bias point in a matter of seconds. http://dos4ever.com/uTracer3/uTracer3_pag0.html
Ronald Dekker makes this tester available as a kit, with detailed assembly and testing instructions. One of … Read More »
Tektronix DSA602A Digitizing Signal Analyzer Part 1
I recently had the opportunity to purchase one of these units, and I am thoroughly enjoying the process of checking its operation and getting to know how to use it. This unit is a laboratory grade, very accurate digitizing oscilloscope from about 1990. From the Tek Wiki entry:
3 amplifier bays, up to 12 channels (using 11A34 plug-ins)
8 bits; averaging of N acquisitions increases by log2(N) up to 14 bits
DSA601, max 1 GS/s; DSA602, max 2 GS/s (one channel, left plugin)
512 to 32768 samples
50 ps/Div to 100 s/Div
7.2 bit up to 10 MHz, 6.3 bit @ 250 MHz, 5.7 bit @ 500 MHz, 4.5 bit @ 1 GHz
magnetic deflection color computer monitor, 10″ diagonal (130 mm × 168 mm), 552×704 pixels, 22×11 infrared touch-screen grid
90-132 V or 180-250 V, 48-72 Hz, 465 W (DSA601A) / 585 W (DSA602A)
Automated signal measurements (rise, fall, period, frequency, width, delay, phase, duty … Read More »
Tektronix Scope-Mobile Cart Repair Part 3
This is the conclusion to my repair of a Tektronix 202-2 Scope-Mobile Cart. Recall that the problem was three fractured trunnion mount bosses which rendered the cart useless (and unsafe) under load. My proposed solution was to place the bosses into compression by putting a 6mm countersunk bolt through the trunnion mount concentric with the existing hole in the boss. By using appropriate sized washers between the top of the boss and the frame member I ensure that the boss is placed into compression and the frame member is securely clamped. This avoids the tensile loading which fractured the bosses initially.
The holes in the trunnion mount were countersunk to fit the flat head socket bolts:
Ring Video Doorbell Cold Weather Charging
This is a follow-up to an earlier post I made concerning the cold weather performance of the original Ring Video Doorbell. I have had the opportunity to observe the behavior of both the original Ring (i.e., the non “Pro”) and the Pro versions through several cycles of very cold (down to -30C) weather over the past two years, and I can now draw some conclusions.
I have both the original Ring and the Ring Pro
The original Ring is hardwired to my mechanical chime doorbell
The Ring Pro is hardwired to my mechanical chime doorbell
The voltage at each doorbell is in the 19-20 VAC range (Klein CL1000 portable DVM)
The Ring Pro doorbell seems unaffected by external temperature. It operates properly even through prolonged stretches (10 days or more) of -20C to -30C outdoor temperatures.
The original Ring doorbell … Read More »
Tektronix 556 Dual Beam Oscilloscope Testing: Vertical Bandwidth
I have been doing some basic testing of my Tektronix 556 Dual Beam Oscilloscope, and I have documented some parts of this process. I have also captured images of the traces, which I will share here.
Test Setup: Tektronix 556, 1A2 plug-in, Timebase A, Tektronix SG 503 Generator, and Tektronix TG 501 Time Mark Generator
I found the -3db vertical bandwidth of the 1a2/556 to be 65 Mhz, which is to be expected for the 50 Mhz rated 1A2.
TM 500 Module with Plug ins
50 kHz Reference Signal 6v peak to peak
5 MHz Sine Wave 6v peak to peak
20 MHz Sine Wave 6v peak to peak
Tektronix 556 Fan Motor Repair Part 2
In this continuation of Tektronix 556 Fan Motor Repair Part 1, I have removed the motor and mount assembly and disassembled it. Now I need to figure out the problem and rebuild the motor.
Tektronix 556 Fan Motor Overview, mounted in place
Tektronix 556 Fan Motor removed from mounts. The Tektronix part number is 147-0029-00.
Tektronix 556 Fan Motor removed from mounts.
Tektronix 556 Fan Motor removed from mounts.
The next few images show the disassembled parts of the motor:
Rotor, end bells and bushing assembly
End bell inside, retainer, spring washer felt and bushing.
End bell and bushing assembly
Rotor and spacers
Tektronix 556 Fan Motor Repair Part 1
I was recently fortunate enough to acquire a Tektronix 556 Dual Beam Oscilloscope with many accessories and in good condition. Unfortunately, the cooling fan on the scope was very loud and more concerning, it emitted an alarming metal on metal contact sound. After verifying basic operation of the oscilloscope, I decided to repair the cooling fan. This process is documented in the images and commentary that follow.
Part 1: Removing the Noisy Fan Motor
556 Cooling Module with filter and mesh screen removed. The fan is connected to the chassis wiring at the ceramic terminal which is circled:
Fan to chassis wiring connection terminal.
Inside of cooling module and bottom side of motor (fan blade removed):
Back side of motor (fan blade … Read More »
Tektronix Scope-Mobile Cart Repair Part 2
This post continues my repair of the Tektronix Scope-Mobile Cart and trunnion mounts. Here is Part 1, which details the problem and my proposed solution.
The original design used 5/16″ button head bolts which screwed into the bosses and attached the aluminum box frame member to the polymer trunnion mount:
It is obvious that overtightening these bolts put the bosses into tension which caused them to fail. The gap between the member and the boss “spring loads” the system and puts additional tensile stress on the boss. While an aluminum casting could easily handle these stresses, the polymer obviously could not.
What I did was to glue the fractured bosses into … Read More »
Tektronix Scope-Mobile Cart Repair Part 1
I was lucky enough to obtain a Tektronix 202-2 Scope-Mobile Cart.
Upon examining it, I found that the scope tray was loose and the tilt mechanism did not function properly. The cause for this was broken trunnion mounts on both sides of the cart as follows:
Three of the four bosses were fractured with the fracture surface indicating tensile overload. I suspect that the bolts were overtightened and the bosses fractured. Overtightening loaded the bosses in tension by trying to compress the box frame member. Unfortunately this type of polymer (some type of hard thermoplastic) is not good in tension.
Other mobile carts I have seen use cast aluminum for … Read More »
New Vacuum Tube Box Scans
I have uploaded several new vacuum tube box scans including Philco, Canadian General Electric, Wards, and Hitachi (Hit-Ray):
Tektronix 556 Dual Beam Oscilloscope Images
What follows is a series of images of my Tektronix 556 Dual Beam Oscilloscope displaying various waveforms. I am learning about this scope and how to use it.
A brief description of the unit can be found here: Tektronix 556
Thanks for reading.
Tektronix 556 Dual Beam Oscilloscope
I had recently the unique opportunity to acquire a complete Tektronix 556 Oscilloscope setup. This comprised the oscilloscope itself, the matching scope cart, original manual, probes and 12 plug-in units. This in itself is rare enough, but in addition, this particular scope has the optically desirable blue phosphor CRT and Tektronix C-27 Camera Bezel. This 50 MHz bandwidth oscilloscope was the state of the art when it was introduced in the mid 1960’s: Tekwiki Tek 556
This will be the first of many posts and updates as I work my way through checking and restoring this beautiful scope.
And now some images:
Tektronix Oscilloscopes 7904, 2467B, 2465B at 1GHz
The images to follow show a 1 GHz sine wave (amplitude not changed during the testing) on the following Tektronix oscilloscopes:
Tektronix 7904 with 7A24 vertical (400 MHz) and 7B92A horizontal
Tektronix 2467B (400 MHz scope)
Tektronix 2465B (400 MHz scope)
I have checked the bandwidth of the both the 2465B and 2467B used here, and they meet the 400MHz requirement at -3db (using a Tektronix SG504 with leveling head). The bandwidth of the 7904 mainframe + 7A24 vertical plug-in used in this … Read More »
Tektronix 7904 Oscilloscope
Here are some images of one 7904 mainframe with a 7A24 vertical module and a 7B92A horizontal module. The scope screen shows the pulse from an S52 pulse head; the rise time is about 850ps which translates into a bandwidth of about 412 MHz. Since the 7A24 plug-in is specified at 400 MHz, this is about right.
This is the same pulse from an S52 pulse head but using an S4 sampling head instead of the 7A24 vertical amplifier
Tektronix 7000 Series Equipment
I am doing some testing on recently acquired Tektronix 7000 series equipment. Involved in these images is a Tektronix 7904A mainframe using a 7S12 TDR/Sampler plug in with an S52 pulse generator and S4 sampling head.
The rise time on of the pulse is about 32ps which translates to a bandwidth of about 11 GHz; all this for a few hundred dollars.
Fallout 4 Vacuum tubes and Nixie tubes
I have been working my way through Fallout 4 and during my explorations I noticed that the labs and military installations are loaded with vintage vacuum tube equipment. I thought I recognized the front panel of at least one piece of gear:
Front Panel render from Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks):
Now compare this image with the front panel of the Racal RA-17:
The resemblance of the Fallout 4 render to the real Racal RA17 is striking. This Racal-like front panel appears in nearly every lab and/or military installation that I have explored.
Another rack of equipment very frequently seen in labs and military installations is this one:
Fallout 4 Equipment Rack (Bethesda Softworks
This image clearly shows:
A nixie tube … Read More »
NEST Thermostat Network Isolation
With the proliferation of IoT (Internet of Things) objects such as smart thermostats, sensors of all kings, video cameras, video doorbells, light bulbs, media hubs and the like it comes as no surprise that security problems are cropping up. These IoT devices are proving to be a door through which malicious software can gain direct access to your home network behind your router. An excellent summary of the potential security problems with IoT devices can be found here InfoSec Resources Iot Security Summary. The takeaway is that these devices are vulnerable, and attackers can use them to penetrate your home network. Once an attacker gains access to the network behind your router, they have the “keys to the kingdom”. What is the solution? As usual with home network security, there are several solutions ranging from relatively … Read More »
Ring Video Doorbell Cold Weather Charging Problem and Solution
I installed a Ring Video Doorbell (RVD) last spring (2015) and overall, I am quite happy with the utility and performance of the unit. Like any new IoT (Internet of Things) device there will be issues, growing pains and problems to be solved. This post concerns the cold weather performance of the Ring Video Doorbell.
There are several relevant background points:
The Ring Video Doorbell is installed hardwired
The Ring Video Doorbell charges from the wiring above about -19C (-2F)
The Ring Video Doorbell is installed in a single family residence with the camera facing the street
The Ring Video Doorbell wireless signal has to penetrate wire mesh stucco and several walls to get to my router
Initially, I had my RVD motion settings to maximum sensitivity (30 ft radius) and “Standard” Alert frequency. This meant I was … Read More »
Numitron Clock Project
Numitrons are low voltage incandescent display devices perfected and marketed by RCA (see RCA advert above) in the early 1970’s. I would call this a bridge technology as the display is incandescent, but can be driven by integrated circuits. They were quickly displaced by solid state LED (light emitting diode) devices from the mid 1970’s onward.
This is a Numitron:
The look and feel of a Numitron display appeals to me and I wanted to reboot my building and soldering skills , so I decided to build a Numitron clock. I based my clock on the RCA DR2000 which has a beautiful 15mm display height and a board and parts kit (no longer available) from Richard White. Here are some images of the construction process:
And here is an image series of the finished clock … Read More »
Sonos: Music library not found fix
I have a wired Sonos system and a central media server (WHS 2011) which hosts all my media content . Prior to the latest Sonos update (v5.2), I had no problems accessing my music which is hosted on the server via any connected Sonos controller on either PC’s or iPads. Post v5.2, however I lost access to the music library. I tried:
Deleting the shared music folder and re-adding it from different controllers
Modifying the shared music folder permissions on the server
Confirming that SONOS was added as a user on the server
Installing the Sonos controller on the server (!!) and adding the shared directly from the server
All of the above attempts failed with the same error: The computer “server123” cannot be found. What is important here is that all my other music sharing services (iTunes, Windows Media Player, … Read More »
I recently acquired two HP/Symmetricom Z3805A GPS Disciplined Oscillator receiver/clocks. These units seem to have several different configurations both inside the box and of the box itself, but all appear to have:
Two 10Mhz outputs
Two 1PPS outputs
24v DC power requirement
Inside the box, I have seen reports of:
HP 10811 DOXCO (10Mhz)
Symmetricom DOXCO (5Mhz with a doubler)
MTI 260 DOXCO
16 channel GPS receiver (newer builds)
6 channel GPS receiver (older builds)
The box itself can be Samsung rack mount or HP benchtop. My particular units were older Samsung rackmount builds, but do have the desirable HP 10811 DOXCO. Both units had older 6 channel GPS receivers that exhibited the 1024 week GPS rollover bug. (That is, they displayed a date that was 1024 weeks in the past due to nature of the 10 bit week counter used in the receiver.) I simply swapped the GPS … Read More »
Lucent KS-24361 HP/Symmetricom Z3809A, Z3810A, Z3811A, Z3812A GPSDO system
I have updated my Time and Frequency GPSCon pages to show my recently powered on Lucent KS-24361 HP/Symmetricom Z3809A, Z3810A, Z3811A, Z3812A GPSDO system.
The GPSCon page can be found here: Lucent GPS
Here is a photo of the unit:
In a nutshell, these two units each contain a Double Oven Controlled Quartz Crystal Oscillator (DOCXO) made by Milliren (MTI). Both of these oscillators are GPS disciplined using an onboard GPS timing receiver located in the REF 1 box.
These are NOS (new old stock) surplus units which were manufactured around 2000. The useful outputs are 10 and 15Mhz and 1PPS. It will be very interesting to see how this unit performs over the long term.
Nest connectivity and charging problems solved:
I have two NEST thermostats; one first generation and one second generation. I experienced intermittent connectivity issues with my gen1 Nest soon after I installed it. Initially I determined that it was not charging properly so I brought out the “C” (AC Common) wire from my furnace control board to the NEST and the charging problem was solved. When I installed the gen2 NEST, I made sure the “C” wire was available at installation. I have no charging problems with either NEST now.
Connectivity problems would come and go, sometimes going many weeks or months between incidents. I tried many solutions (port forwarding .lease times, static ip, etc) with varying degrees of success. The connectivity problems were irritating rather than debilitating; most of the time the NEST worked fine. The same pattern occurred after I installed … Read More »
I have two NEST thermostats, one v1 and one v2. The v1 had been ticking along fine until about July 2014 when I began to experience connectivity problems. More specifically, the thermostat itself would say that it was connected properly, but the NEST browser and mobile apps would show it as offline. I tried all the usual fixes: reboot, restart, reset, both (router and NEST), static ip, DHCP Leasetime tweaks, etc. Long story short, nothing I did solved the connectivity issues.
As it turned out, I was reconfiguring my home network and decided to change my main router from a Netgear WNDR4500 to an ASUS RT-AC68U. This change has resolved all my NEST connectivity issues. NEST Connectivity Issues Solved ! Both my NEST thermostats are fully connected and accessible any time I check them. It turns out that the RT-AC68U has … Read More »
I recently acquired two Dell Poweredge CS24-SC Servers, each equipped with dual Xeon 5420 processors and 8GB of ECC ram. I love this industrial grade gear because:
1) the excellent quality of construction
2) ease of servicing and use
3) designed to run 24/7 for years
4) no frills, but good solid, reliable hardware
5) Baseboard (BMC) management features
5) amazingly power frugal with the right settings
These servers were (reportedly) part of a large run of 10,000 or more units manufactured for cloud/cluster computing. Many of them have turned up in the surplus market over the past few years. The units I obtained had sequential serial numbers and were configured identically. They were very clean and in excellent condition. The BMC firmware was the latest available version, and the motherboard firmware was the penultimate version. I therefore chose not to attempt any firmware upgrades.
I installed Linux … Read More »
Landscape Photo Diary Updated
I recently had the opportunity to photograph the area around Drumheller, Alberta. This is a spectacular and beautiful area of Alberta. I took time to walk and drive parts of the now abandoned CN Drumheller Subdivision (CN Rail). This particular subdivision winds its way through some wonderful areas of the Alberta Badlands.
I have put up a selection of my landscape and railway images on my photo website: Drumheller Badlands, Spring 2014
Enjoy the wonderful Alberta Summer!
Nest thermostat: Should I assign an IP or Not?
The question is: Does assigning the NEST thermostat a static IP using your router result in a more reliable wireless connection? For my first generation NEST running v4.2.3 of the NEST software, the answer is a definite no.
I am using my home router as a DHCP server in order to assign IP addresses to various devices behind it. This is the typical default behavior of most home routers. I like to tweak the setup, however and assign static IP addresses to various devices so that troubleshooting is simplified and IP address conflicts are avoided.
My NEST thermostat connectivity had been generally very good, until a couple of weeks ago when I found that the NEST thermostat could not connect reliably to my router. (I had updated my router firmware about that time as … Read More »
Xbox 360 Power Supply Replacement
If you own one or more Xbox 360 in its various incarnations, including the newer 360S and 360E, you have likely experienced a power supply failure. These units all use an outboard power supply which plugs into the wall outlet at your local voltage, and connects to the 360 by a special power cable. I say special cable because the cable and plug design has charged numerous times over the years. The failure modes that I have experienced go something like this:
1) The power supply (“brick”) begins to get noisy on power up, but then settles down to its former noise level in a few minutes. This behavior continues for a few weeks or months. At this point I generally take the brick outside and blow it out with a super duster (canned air).
2) The noise … Read More »
Xbox One Media Center Solution
I have been learning the ins and outs of my new Xbox One over the past couple of weeks and here are some of my observations:
I like the tiled menu interface, and the look and feel of the menus
The entire system feels very fast and responsive
The integration of kinect seems to work well
No TV integration (guide or satellite/cable box) in Canada
Some games available, but nothing I am interested in as yet; let’s see what happens at E3
No Media Center (like the Xbox 360)
The last point is really critical for me. I want to use my Xbox One for my own music, pictures, videos, recorded TV, etc. In other words, I want Media Center functionality on my Xbox One. This is right in line with Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One :
“The all-in-one entertainment system. Where … Read More »
NEST Thermostat Update and Voltage Measurements
I have had my NEST Gen1 for almost 16 months now and I probably could not go back to a regular dumb thermostat, given the choice. The NEST charging problem has been solved by connecting the “C” (AC Common) wire from my furnace to the NEST. See this post for details: Nest Thermostat Charging Solution
I find the monthly NEST Energy Reports very useful, and I am saving them so that when I make important changes to our house (new windows, more insulation, more efficient furnace, etc) I can see an actual difference.
I thought it would be helpful to anyone still troubled by the charging problem if I posted my NEST reported and measured voltages:
Furnace running (heating) NEST Reported Voltages: Voc 38.33V, Vin 31.57V, Vbat 3.864V, Lin 100mA (i)
Voltage measured between Rc and C (Power and … Read More »
The Nike Fuel Band: 5 Months On
I purchased a Nike Fuel Band in late June 2013 with an idea that I could use it as a step counter over the summer and during the winter. I did quite a bit of research, and examined competing products. While other products had more features, the Nike FuelBand was elegantly simple, easy to use, looked great and had the best software support (I do not use Android devices). Since receiving it in June, I have used it continuously for over 5 months, and I am still using it. How do I feel about it? I love it. It is easy to wear, rugged, and easy to use. No gimmicks, no BS; it just works.
I love statistics, so the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly charts on the Nike website are great. I can … Read More »
No Video Card Upgrade this round: No compelling reason
AMD recently came out with their reference design for the R9 series of video cards (Hawaii Chipset): R9 Video Cards Overview . I have read the reviews and the benchmarks, including comparisons to the 7990, GTX690 and Titan. I see no compelling reason to “upgrade” my GTX690. In fact, based on the benchmarks and reviews I have read GTX690 to R9 290X is more of a downgrade in power consumption, noise and mulit-monitor (2560 x 1600 X3) performance. Crossfire is out of the question, since it does not support individual monitor color calibration, and I don’t even want to think about the TDP of such a setup.
I have looked through many benchmarks which have the GTX690 and HD7990 in the top spot for most games at the resolution I mentioned above. The … Read More »
New Vacuum tube box scans
I have added several new images to my gallery of Vacuum Tube Box Artwork.
The new images include Westinghouse, Tung-Sol and Quality Brand tube boxes.
New Section added: Vacuum tube glow, box scans and artwork
In the spirit of both preservation and exploration, I have added a new section to the the under Photography: Vacuum tube glow, box scans and artwork
Here I will be documenting the artwork used on vacuum tube boxes as well as showing some of the images I have captured of vacuum tubes while they are operating. I will be adding more images over time as I work through my vacuum tube inventory.
Shaun Merrigan Landscape Photography Pages Updated
I have updated my Landscape Photography pages: Shaun Merrigan: Landscapes from the Heart Here are a couple of samples:
As well as my professional photography (Metallography, Scientific Photography) I am an avid landscape photographer. I work in medium format film and digital, and I prefer to explore the lonely and forgotten places on the Alberta and Saskatchewan prairies.
Cubic Communications CDR-3250 VLF-HF Communications Receiver Fan Noise Solution Part II
This post will furnish additional detail about installing a quieter and more efficient rear panel fan in the Cubic Communications CDR-3250 VLF-HF Communications Receiver.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the duct/standoff/adapter can be made from wood. I chose solid pine because I had some in my offcuts box; plywood would be a good choice too.
The dimensions of the duct are: 75mm H x 60mm W x 15mm D as shown:
The holes are 55mm diameter (fan side) and 45mm diameter (receiver grille side). The hole on the receiver side had to be smaller in order to accommodate the 42mm bolt hole pattern of the OEM fan, while leaving enough material around the fastener holes for a sound mechanical joint. In addition, I happened to have 45mm and 55mm hole saws … Read More »
Cubic Communications CDR-3250 VLF-HF Communications Receiver Fan Noise Solution
I recently had the opportunity to acquire a Cubic Communications CDR-3250 VLF-HF Communications Receiver (two, in fact), fully functional, in very good condition. This is a very high quality, mil-spec receiver using DSP for the final IF, giving a large selection (51 possible, depending upon the mode) IF filters. It is stable, selective and has one of the best menu systems I have used in a receiver. Also the the audio quality and audio recovery is the best I have heard this side of a tube radio like the R390A or SP600JX. Oh yes, stereo headphones work (mono in both ears) properly from the headphone jack.
The receiver incorporates a small box fan in the rear of the chassis to pull air through cooling the modules and power supply (also at the rear). … Read More »
Windows Update Breaks Windows 7 Media Center Extender
This is a follow-up to my post regarding restoring Windows 7 Media Center after having problems with a couple of patches from Microsoft.
After restoring the WMC7 PC, most functions worked correctly, with the exception of:
1) TV Archive (it was working but failed on every file due to incorrect file permissions)
2) WHS 2011 did not longer see the restored WMC7 PC as a client, therefore automatic backups did not work, and the Lauchpad indicated that the WHS 2011 server was offline (it was not)
3) Some files, notably Recorded TV files, were no longer accessible from the WMC7 PC or from Extenders.
All of these issues were solved by performing the following steps:
1) Uninstall and then re-install the Extenders
2) Uninstall and then re-install the WHS 2011 connector software on the restored WMC7 PC
3) Make sure … Read More »
Windows Update Breaks Windows 7 Media Center Extender
The second Tuesday of the month has passed and Microsoft released another round of updates, fixing some critical vulnerabilities.
A summary of the July 9, 2013 update can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin/ms13-jul
It turned out that my Windows 7 64-bit WMC (Windows Media Center) PC had 17 updates available. I applied all the updates, rebooting as required, and everything seemed to be running fine.
Unfortunately, I found that two of the patches had adverse effects on my WMC (Windows Media Center) Extenders. Specifically, the Extenders (Xbox 360) would boot into Media Center and then report a “Connection Failure” , reboot into Media Center, report a Connection Failure, etc, thus rendering them unusable.
After doing a system image restore to return the PC to its pre July 9 patch state (I have been down this road before), I … Read More »
Audible: Get it to work with WMP, Sonos and Itunes
I recently looked into joining Audible again after a hiatus of several years. Looking at the greatly expanded catalog, and the new owner (Amazon), I decided to take the plunge. My goal was to have all the audio books available on all my devices: Audible, Windows Media Player, my iPads and Sonos. The good news is that this can be done, but the process is not straightforward. There are a number things to watch out for:
Only use Audible Audio Format 4 for replay on all of the above devices. This is the highest quality that is available on all the devices. The “e” format sounds better, but will not play on Sonos or WMP
You need two pieces of software from Audible: the Audible Manager, and the Audible Download Manager. It is … Read More »
NEST Thermostat Functioning Well after Wiring Change:
Over a month on since I changed my NEST v1 thermostat wiring to include the “C” or 24Vac Common wire, it is working flawlessly again. We have had several cycles of cold (-20C) and warm (+8C) and there have been no problems with charge levels, network communication or connectivity.
I wonder why NEST does not strongly recommend the use of the “C” wire when it is so simple to install? BTW, if you are looking for a wiring diagram of your furnace and controller, check the back side of the access panel (Doh!!) on the furnace; it should be there.
I have e found a couple of very useful links for anyone in a similar situation and seeking a solution:
Adding a C wire to a Thermostat
HP Z3200 Photo Printer Scan Axis Drive Belt Replacement:
I recently had to replace the Scan Axis Drive Belt (otherwise known as the carriage belt) in my HP Z3200 Photo Printer. I use the printer several times per week, but the print volumes I do are relatively light, so the belt did not “wear” out. Instead, the elastomer (rubber) component of the belt which binds the Kevlar strands together began to deteriorate and eventually disintegrated completely. Not only did this affect the Scan Axis alignment (see first image below) but it also left innumerable rubber crumbs throughout the paper path. I successfully replaced the belt and cleaned up the paper path and internals with a minimum of trouble, as well as replacing the noisy (howling) power supply fan. I should point out that I do have considerable background … Read More »
Gigapan Epic Pro Firmware Update Problems and Solution
Gigapan has a firmware update available for the GigaPan Epic Pro, here: GigaPan Epic Pro Firmware Update
To find out if you need it, check the firmware on your Epic Pro thus:
Select “Options” – “Expert Options” – “Firmware Version”
The current firmware version is P010100171-8.
I have a couple of very important tips for Windows users (Windows 7, specifically) which will help prevent any disasters from occurring (i.e., a botched firmware upgrade which will result in a dead Epic Pro):
1) Install the Firmware Upload Tool “As an Administrator”
2) Connect the USB cable from the Epic Pro directly to the motherboard, not to a hub or to the front panel USB ports on your PC. Not doing this caused my Epic Pro to lockup and not be recognized by Windows.
3) Run the Firmware Upload Tool “As an … Read More »
Nest thermostat battery charging problem and solution
My NEST (Generation 1) had been working flawlessly for several months, both summer and winter (heating and cooling) until about January 23rd, 2013 or so. Then it began to struggle with recharging, had network dropouts, disconnects, and began to insert Delay Times (apparently randomly, and up to 2 minutes in duration) into the heating cycle. I recharged the NEST using the USB interface a couple of times, only to find that it would run down within 8 or 10 hours and never recharge. With -25c temperatures for days on end, the last thing you want are strange delays and the resultant furnace cycle down/up and an unreliable thermostat. In fact one day with -40c windchill, the furnace would run for about 10 minutes and then cycle off as NEST inserted a Delay Time for … Read More »
GPS Clock Data Reset: I rebuilt the equipment rack that holds my network gear, HPZ3801A GPS Disciplined Clocks and the Zotac micro PC’s that run the associated software. The result is that there have been several interruptions to the data stream which I upload and display here. So I reset the log files, and restarted the logging from zero. The good news is that all the critical equipment now has UPS backup, so in addition to delivering clean power to the devices, short interruptions in the mains will not cause the clocks to reset.
Mass Effect 3 Omega DLC
I played through “Omega” last night and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There are new adversaries and weapons, and if you choose to take them on you will have a blast. I have read reviews about this DLC suggesting it was shallow and lacked focus. Well, I guess it depends upon how deeply you have explored your relationship with Aria in ME2 and ME3. I committed to helping her in ME2, and she (at least) respects my choices. I wish I could have recruited Nyreen along with Garrus earlier on….
For anyone who may be a Flickr Pro user, Flickr is giving a three-month extension to Pro accounts. When you sign in, you will be presented with a window to click through and accept the gift.
NEST Thermostat Update
From November 30 to December 12 we had no wired internet connection. Therefore the NEST thermostat could not connect to NEST.com via our network. I found I had to turn off the NEST’s network connection so that it would not run down its internal battery constantly trying to connect to a non-existent network (Note: to the NEST team; this should be addressed). At no time did I ever lose local control, however. The NEST simply behaved like a typical sophisticated programmable thermostat. We have been experiencing one of the coldest winters in the last few years, so I can readily appreciate the very useful features of the NEST such as: tweaking the temperature from my iPad, making schedule adjustments via the iPad and viewing our energy usage.
Internet Connectivity Restored: Our Internet connectivity has been fully restored. After a couple of hiccups scheduling the installation, and some effort required to reconfigure my new DSL modem, I am reconnected and back online. We now have a VDSL 25Mbps down / 2Mbps up connection with no caps. In fact, I am getting 24.5Mbps down and 2.6Mbps up consistently. Streaming video, gaming, etc are easily handled with this speed. My NEST thermostat is connected to NEST.com again, and my weather station is fully back online, as are my GPS Disciplined Clocks. Photography updates will follow.
Internet Connectivity Update: iPad saves the day
Due to the hot economy hereabouts (cannot schedule the technicians), my DSL upgrade has been delayed somewhat. But I had to terminate my existing DSL service in order to obtain an activation date, thus I have no high speed internet. However I can used my iPad as a roving USB connected hotspot (no bluetooth or wireless, thanks) in order to edit, update, get mail, etc. It is a kludge, but a secure and stable one until my 25/2 DSL is activated.
My internal home gigabit wired network remains fully operational, of course, so everyone is happy talking to each other and various devices; they just have no outside connection.
Update to my ongoing Internet Connectivity Issues:
My ancient Zoom X4 DSL modem finally packed it in. I could not stand the connection dropping anymore, so I reconfigured my new ISP’s VDSL modem to work with my current (6MBps) connection. Naturally it is working fine.
This connection is due to terminate tomorrow and my new 25/2 connection will be activated. (Of course I saved the modem configuration, why do you ask?)
So with a bit of luck, I will be back on Friday.
I am currently in the process of resolving internet connectivity issues that I am experiencing.
I am also taking this opportunity to switch ISP’s because my current ISP does not offer any residential ASDL beyond 6Mbps. I am switching to Teksavvy and trying their high speed (25Mbps) ASDL plan. Of course this means a new modem and a line speed change which will solve the connectivity issues too. I am about 800 meters or so from the CO, and should have no problem with 25Mbps ADSL.
What this means is that some of my pages (Weather Station, Cams, Clocks) may not be updated as frequently as expected.
I will update this blog as I work through the process.
NEST Thermostat Update
Winter is certainly here now, and the NEST thermostat has been performing well. I have had some issues with my ISP and DSL modem which have prevented the NEST thermostat from connecting to the web for 12 or more hours, but local control has been maintained throughout. This is a good sign, and indicative of well thought out design. I have a V1 Nest, which does not include humidity control. However, I think that my solution: a dedicated humidity controller with an external temperature sensor is probably superior anyway. In my cold climate, we absolutely need an air intake temperature sensor to regulate the humidity. Think about this at -25C….
My gut feeling is that my house is more evenly warm now that in was with the conventional programmable thermostat (Honeywell) that I … Read More »
IE9 Problems IE10 Joy
I was experiencing the dreaded blank page problem with IE9: at some point during the day, newly opened pages appear blank. There is no solution but rebooting the machine, and nobody knows why. (I have tried all the posted solutions short of reinstalling Windows 7).
The good news is that whatever the problem was, installing the IE10 preview has solved it. No blank pages, crashes, hangs, or issues. I had nothing to lose because the “blank page” problem had apparently infected IE9 64 bit, which I had previously thought to be immune.
To my surprise and delight, 1Password is working fine in IE10, and I have turned off all the third party tracking cookies too.
I should make here a general comment about Windows 7. I am running Win 7 Ultimate … Read More »
RAID 6 Server using 3TB Western Digital Reds:
The WD Reds are performing admirably; not a glitch or hiccup since the install. They are fast, amazingly quiet and reliable in 8 x 3TB RAID 6. I note that Adaptec is still not officially supporting this drive, but the Adaptec 6805 is working fine with 8 x 3TB Reds in RAID 6. All systems nominal.
I finally received my shipment of Western Digital Red 3TB Hard Drives which I had initially ordered in mid-August. I had thought that installing several of these drives in my Windows Home Server box would be a simple way to increase my RAID 6 storage space. Alas, I found out the hard way that my Promise Supertrack EX8760T RAID controller does not recognize WD 3TB drives and thus sees the WD Reds as 946GB, Sata II drives. In fact, they are 3TB, Sata III capable drives. A few emails exchanged with Promise Tech Support left me quite disappointed. In a nutshell, the Promise Supertrack EX8760T does not support 3TB drives, and there are no plans to support these drives in the future. Too bad, since the EX8760T is quite a robust card, and it has … Read More »
I was pleasantly surprised to see that my NEST Gen 1 thermostat updated itself to the latest software (V3) last week. This added a couple of new features like filter change reminder based on hours of use(forced air heating), energy use comparisons to similar house builds, Early On, Auto Schedule in Heat/Cool mode and several other new features. This is the same software that was rolled out with the Gen 2 Nest Thermostat, so I am not feeling left behind.
There were no issues transitioning from cooling season to heating season. We typically have 4-6 weeks in the fall and again in the spring where heating and cooling is not required, and we are just now getting into the heating season. I have had no issues at all with the NEST: Network connectivity has been … Read More »
Dell has their 30″ IPS Panel monitor on sale for $300 off. I have two of these and just bought another. This is a vastly under-rated monitor for photography (once calibrated) and it is great for gaming as well. Don’t miss this.
The NEST thermostat has been operating faultlessly since I did the wiring reseat and SSID fix. We have had some very hot weather and I have been using the AWAY/AUTO AWAY modes, so I really appreciate being able to remotely cool the house down before arriving home. I also received an email from NEST showing me my cooling usage for the month of June. In aggregate, over time, this information will be very useful.
I am just finishing up the installation of a digital humidistat as the NEST has no provision for controlling humidity. I knew this before purchasing it, of course. I needed to upgrade my old wall mounted mechanical humidistat to a digital unit with a remote sensor on the fresh air intake in any case. This is particularly important in a cold … Read More »
I have completed several updates and tweaks to my Kildare Neighborhood Back Yard Weather Station:
Cumulus Software updated to v 1.9.3; most of the changes are under the hood.
Gauge Display page tweaked to a tidy 3×3 layout; this looks much better.
Web Cam repositioned for a better sky view and color images.
Further updates on my experiences with the NEST thermostat:
Although it is possible to enter a Canadian Postal Code using the NEST itself, I found that I could only change the geographic location ( City, Province) using the WEB app. The geographic location could not be changed using the iOS NEST app either, as that option is not made available. Having said all of that, once I made the changes using the WEB app, the proper location appeared on my NEST thermostat.
Had a problem earlier in the week with the NEST dropping my wifi connection and the battery not recharging. I did two things which solved the problem: first I reconnected all of the thermostat wires by pulling them out of the base plate (while pressing the release) and then pushing them back (not touching the release) to make sure … Read More »
I installed a NEST learning thermostat (www.nest.com) this weekend. No issues with the installation on my 2 stage heating 1 stage cooling, forced air HVAC system. I tested both heating and cooling and all worked fine. There are several problems which I have solved which may help other people who decide to install the NEST themselves:
1) The NEST will not behave as expected if the battery voltage is <3.7 volts. For example, I thought that the proximity sensors were not functioning, and that I had some obscure network connectivity issues upon first installing the NEST. The NEST would not dectect me as I approached it (approach detection enabled) and kept dropping my network connection. It turned out that ALL of these problems were related to the battery voltage being < 3.70 volts.
2) I could have waited several hours for the … Read More »
I have completely rebuilt the site; it is now based on WordPress rather than uploaded HTML code.
I have basically massaged a WordPress theme me into more of a website and less of a blog. But this suits my purpose for the site, which is primarily a way to view my back yard weather station information and GPS clock data.