Network Cables

When you make a cable just long enough to reach the computer it will probably not reach when the computer is relocated to the other side of the room. Cables should be long enough to reach all corners of the room plus three feet. Those extra three feet are called a service loop. The service loop keeps you from having to streach the cable.

Back in the days of thin-net, extending a network cable required another 15 foot section of RG58 coax with BNC connectors on each end and a double female coupler. Todays network cables boast four conductor pairs requiring eight connections in two places into a fairly expensive double female coupler. The contacts are gold plated to retard corrosion but they are expensive because most people don’t use them. A direct splice of the wires, soldered and insulated is a far better solution than pushing two contacts together even if they are gold plated.

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Estate Sales

Unless I know the people involved, I tend to avoid estate sales. I am particularly leary of estate sale items that show up on classified listings.

For instance, I recently found a Drake TR4C being offered as an estate sale item without power supply, as is, for $325.

There are several problems with this offer. First, is it worth $325? If it is in good working condition it certainly is worth $325. It may even be worth the additional $40 it will take to have it shipped. All this worth is based on it being a working transceiver in good condition.

It is being sold ‘as is’ without a power supply. To check it out the seller has no way of knowing what it is as. We have to assume that it is probably not working. Chances are very good that this orphaned radio got that way for good reason.

Hams are not given to retiring equipment that is working well. Should it be working well when retired as it is being replaced with a newer rig, the retired rig will end up being sold. If it is not worth selling, it may end up on a shelf, orphaned, with its power supply sold separately. The transceiver remains on the shelf until it is rediscovered when the ham passes on to the happy hunting ground.

After the surviving friends and relatives pick over the goodies he left behind, the remaining flotsum is readied for the ‘estate’ sale. Those items left after the first sale get listed on the classifieds.

After spending 30 years in a closet, idle and orphaned, the TR4C is most likely in even worse condition than when it was first abandonded there.

So is it really worth $325 plus shipping. Not until it is refurbished, provided with a power supply and microphone, and checked out for proper operation.

Its ‘as is’ value would not justify a $40 shipping charge.

50 Percent Off !!

Why is this offer only extended on stuff I don’t need?

I can’t save money by buying stuff I don’t need.

I can save money by ignoring the offer.

So when I see that offer I take 100 percent off.

I guess I am just a greedy old fart.


Netflix is still one of the better deals on the internet. We became subscribers early on when they were a mail order only CD rental outfit. It cost about seven bucks a month, no late fees, you could keep the CD as long as you wanted but had to send it back before they sent you another CD. That policy was instrumental in proving what a joke Blockbuster had become.

It was a little strange doing mail order CD rental but with a large number of distribution centers it became possible to do a one or two day turnaround.

Once they offered on line real time streaming, things took off. We became less inclined to do the mail order rental in favor of the immediately gratifying on line streaming feature. Both on line streaming and mail order rental were being offered for about eight bucks a month.

There were few if any new releases, some titles were only available on CD, out of tens of thousands of titles there were only about one hundred that were interesting, but they were only charging eight dollars a month for the service.

Before long subscribers were informed that they could choose between on line streaming or mail rental CD and still only pay eight dollars a month subscription fee. If they wanted both mail rental and on line streaming they would need two subscriptions, one for the mail order rental and one for the on line streaming. A nice way to announce a doubling in subscription fees without any improvement in programming.

We had long since given up on mail order rentals in favor of on line streaming so we did not experience any undue negative effect.

Recently I hear Netflix is considering an additional increase in subscriber fees but only for new subscribers. That tells me it will not be long before old subscribers will be saddled with higher bills as well.

Unless the programming improves comensurate with the price increase we may be faced with having to bid Netflix goodbye and good luck. You see those hundred movies of interest will all have been viewed at least once by us and none are interesting enough to view twice.

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Internet Privacy

‘Internet Privacy’ is a conflict in terms. Most everything on the internet is available to the public either by design or by hackers. People who expect privacy on the internet do not understand what the internet is or even the meaning of privacy.

Private information is only private because it is not public. Posting private information on the internet causes that information to become public and the poster has no reason to complain about being victimized.

Oh, but the website has a privacy policy, he declares. Privacy policies are legal disclaimers to avoid litigation. All privacy policies can be distilled into these few words, ‘THERE IS NO PRIVACY, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

If you doubt that read through the legaleese presented and you will discover that the policy is to use for whatever purposes they desire any and all information submitted to them.

You want privacy? Then don’t post private information on the internet (or anywhere else).

Only YOU can ensure your privacy.

Premium ‘Cable’ Channels

One of the features touted as a benefit are the three months of ‘free’ premium channels with every new signup. Premium channels are services like HBO and STARS. While their degree of ‘premiumness’ is debatable, their claim to be free is patently false. Here is how it works.

When you sign up, you sign up for an entire year. You are not billed for the first three months but billing starts in earnest at the fourth month. After suffering through three months of bad programming, you may decide not to continue with the ‘premium service. You will be charged with an early cancellation fee. That fee is substantial and more than makes up for the first three months of ‘free’ service as well as a generous allowance to compensate for the following 9 months of rejected service.

Just because someone tells you something is free does not make it so. Whenever there is money involved, there is no freebie by definition. If it really were free they would not be asking for your credit card number.

More Bazooka Dipoles

Nearly a year ago I invested in a Unidella trap antenna kit. It included two 40 meter traps, two end insulators, and a center insulator/balun. The resulting trap dipole ended up being somewhat narrow banded favoring the cw portion of 40 meters and the 75 meter ssb band.

The antenna seemed to work reasonably well on 75 and 40 meters but did not cover other bands as well as my home brew 80/40 trap dipole. That was not a problem as I had other antennas covering those other bands but I did want a 40 meter capability that would favor the entire 40 meter band.

So why not build another 40 meter bazooka, hang the traps off that antenna and add wire to cover 75 meters. The traps would not care that the 40 meter portion was a bazoola.

It also turns out that the bazooka does not care what coax you use to build the two quarter wave stubs as long as they are 40 meter quarter wave stubs, they will work. So I ended up using some surplus RG62 to build the quarter wave stubs.

Antenna Pulley System

The current problem is one padeye being used as a fulcrum for a halyard with too much weight on the halyard making it difficult for the rope to pass through the halyard fulcrum.

The heavy weighted halyard would pass through a properly configured pulley with roller. The pulley with roller would easily pass through the padeye fulcrum.

This works well but the pulley needs to be attached so that it does not slip on the line.

The bazooka modification has the 40 meter portion SWR best at 7.074. Need to take about 6 to 12 inches off each leg.

Now I have a 75/40 meter trap dipole that covers the entire 40 meter band with a 1.2:1 SWR and allows me to transmit on 75 meters as well.

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