Entries from June 2008 ↓

Final Thoughts on Drawer Slides

Yes, you do need top and bottom slides on each drawer to keep the drawer from tilting up when opened. Fortunately only the top drawer needs extra slides on its top edge. The drawers below the top drawer can use the bottom slides of the drawer above them to act as top slides.

Bottom slides that have an L cross section take care of basic drawer support as well as providing side to side stability. If L rails cannot be used the area between the front and back slide supports needs to be made continuous (front to back) for a width of about an inch to keep the drawer from jamming as they twist from side to side.

Soap was rubbed onto the surfaces that have drawers riding on them. You don’t need lots of soap. A little does just fine and allows the drawers to slide well.

Didn’t use any drawer stops. Turns out our kitchen drawers don’t have stops either. Our kitchen drawers have been in use for 60 years without any having been pulled out of the cabinet.

More on Drawer Slides

As previously discussed, why buy them when you can make your own.

Turns out it is not all that simple. At first glance all you need to do is support the bottoms of the drawers evenly on both sides. After all, we just want to pull the drawer out and slide it back in. That is just one direction of motion. Out and in.

Trouble is the drawer also tilts up and down. It also moves side to side.

Up down tilt is controlled by adding rails to the tops of the drawer. You only need to add these as extra rails to the first drawer. Successive drawers can use the upper drawers bottom rails as their top rails. No need for super strength or slidability. These top rails don’t even need to contact the drawer other than to act as stops to keep the drawer from tilting.

Side to side motion is controlled by rails keeping the drawer from twisting and jamming. The easiest way to install top and bottom rails is to attach them to vertical supports at the center and sides of the cabinet. One support in front, the other in back. Side to side motion becomes a problem when the drawer jams in the area between the front and back supports. To avoid this fill in the space between the front and back supports with a narrow third rail to guide the drawer and prevent catching it on the discontinuous problem area.

This works but it is not as trivial as it may appear at first glance. If making and installing six or more rails per drawer seems like work, you may opt for buying ready made rails. Those only have four parts needing installation, two per side

Drawer slides

About six months ago my neighbor remodeled his kitchen. Remodeling entails throwing out the old stuff and replacing it with new stuff. Sometimes the new stuff is not any better than the old stuff but it is new.

Turns out that the old cabinet drawers were still in fairly good shape. They were constructed of good lumber instead of compacted sawdust and looked as though they would hold together for another thirty years. So I took them. I was going to use them under some work benches in the garage to hold assorted hardware and tools.

Now, six months later, I decided it was high time to turn the clutter of cabinet drawers into something useful. Took a look at cabinet drawer slides. Found all kinds of cabinet hardware in various sizes and grades. The only thing the selections had in common were that they were expensive. At the high end was a pair of slides priced at $300. Of course they were rated to support 500lbs of drawer and contents even with the drawer extended. Shipping was $25 and screws were extra. Since I had acquired the drawers for free, super slides did not impress me as a good investment. I decided to see how my kitchen cabinets were constructed. After all, they had drawers that had slid reliably for over 40 years.

Turns out that my kitchen cabinet drawers slide on hardwood rails treated with talcum powder or soap. Works very well. Very possibly support up to 500 lbs and does not require me to pay for shipping and handling. I did not have any hardwood to make slides but I did have lots of pine board and some solid oak 2X2s. I cut a few thin slivers of oak off the 2X2s and used them to surface some soft pine board. Works really well as a slide and I don’t have to worry about ordering special purpose screws to mount the slides.

I doubt my installation will support 500lbs but neither will the drawers. Besides I can’t afford to own such heavy tools or hardware.

Antenna Tuner Woes

Once again I have to decide on if I should use an antenna tuner.

Right now I am using one. A homebuilt Z-match. It tunes 300 ohm twin lead driving an 88 foot drooping dipole (88 feet per leg). Works well on all bands using the tuner. Only running about 500 watts output but the tuner complains at the power level. I hear arcing inside. I know where it is because it arced there before and I am sure it is arcing there now. Makes me wish I did not have to use a tuner.

Why use a tuner. Mainly it provides all-band coverage and filters out harmonics and spurious RF. The only real disadvantage is that it needs to be made of substantial parts to run higher power and it needs to be tuned at each band change. Cost is not a concern because I already have two tuners. A homebrew Z-match good to about 500 watts and an old Johnson good to about 1000 watts.

So why not just use the Johnson Matchbox? Well it does not work well on all bands with the setup I Have. I uise 300ohm twin lead to feed the antenna and it is not kept spaced away from other feedlines like it should be. Works okay witht he Z-match but not so well with the Matchbox.

So fix it. Space it away the way it should be installed. One of these days I might do that but not right now.

Install and use a coax fed antenna that is multiband. The multiple leg fan dipole comes to mind and just a quickly is rejected. Too hard to tune. Takes too much time. It only needs to be tuned once but I have better things to do.

Sepeate antennas for each band. One dipole per band. Can only put up two decent dipoles given the current layout. Okay, one for 80 the other for 40, use the beam for 20,15, and 10.

I used to do that but with a trap dipole. That dipole actually covered all bands but was designed for 80 and 40 using 40 meter traps. Worked well but was a little narrow banded on 80. Only covered half the 75 meter band. That may be all I need to have covered but I know that not being able to go down to 80 CW is going to cause problems. Not that I do a lot of 80 CW work, but I do not want to have to tell myself I can’t.

Whatever we do here, we want to take the tuner out of the picture and cover as many bands and broadly as possible. Looks like we may be considering two trap dipoles at right angles to eachother.

One covers 10 through 40 meters and it is up right now. 10,15,20,and 40. I believe I can add the two 40 meter traps and have this same antenna cover 75 meters too.

Then, take down the 88 foot dipole and replace it with a trap diple covering 12,17, and 30 meters. That would give me coax fed dipoles coveing all the active HF ham bands.

Health Insurance

Many people confuse Health Insurance with health care. Some even believe that the more they pay for health insurance, the better will be the health care.

It does not work that way. Health insurance does not insure good health care. Or any care at all, for that matter. A condition that does not become evident until the insured is in need of care. When that occurs it is not at all unusual to find that companies that overcharge for insurance underprovide with care.

That is because the first thing they insure is that they make a profit. When you don’t produce anything but promises to pay for future services provided by others, the only way you can make a profit is to take in more money than you pay out. That is what insurance companies do the best. They are not all scrooges, but when scrooginess is your most important product, you get scroogy behavior.

Nationwide is on your Side

I must have heard that radio ad several times a day for a month before realizing how stupid it was. If I pay someone to insure me against loss I would expect them to be on my side. Why would I pay an insurance company not to be on my side? Moreover what are they implying? Seems that they are suggesting some insurance companies may not be on the customers side. Now an insurance company stupid enough to suggest such idiocy may well be stupid enough to act on it.

The next time I heard the Nationwide ad, I listened to it to see if there were other anomilies or implications. Sure enough, at the end of the ad a squeeky, fast talking voice declared that the insurance might not be available in all states. Seems that Nationwide is not really nationwide. Makes you wonder if the insurance would insure you in states where it were not available. Makes you wonder what Nationwide did to get ejected from states where it is no longer available. Suppose maybe it had to do with which side they were on?

Nuke the Whales

Sometimes my PC problems seem as large as whales. Over time (generally about six months to a year) my new, high speed, computer slows down, reminding me of the performance of my old CPM system running a 4mhz Z-80 and 16K of ram. Never mind that it is a pentium 4, with 1.5 gig clock and 2 gig of ram. If it runs a Microsft operating system of any kind and has access to the internet, it will collect all sorts of garbage data and develop hooks into the system that defy explanation or reason.

No, you don’t restore normal operation by running Microsoft utilities or third party ‘fix-it’ software. The only sure way to restore performance is to delete the partition, wipe the hard disk completely, and start over with a fresh installation. Hence the term ‘Nuke the Whales’.

Over time this process has become easier and easier. Now with hard disk drive cloning software and very reasonably priced hard drives, it has become a trivial and less time consuming task. No longer is each application painfully reloaded and configured. We only have to do that once, then clone the disk drive. Later, when the working drive becomes ill, we just pull out the cloned drive, delete the sick drives partition, and clone the previously sick drive from data on the spare clone drive.

Yes we use a firewall. We also use Tine Personal Firewall, a program that alerts us to software trying to call home. Nowdays it is not just Microsoft who has a sometimes unjustified interest in a users computer and activities. I don’t mind software that checks for updates as long as it asks permission. Software that just takes over the computer and tries to do its own thing usually gets disabled and sometimes deleted. Vendors that pull that kind of privacy abuse are not above other abuse and cannot be trusted. Surprise, surprise, seems that Microsoft is one of the most frequent privacy abusers. Maybe they can play with your machine but I don’t let them into mine if I can help it.