Entries from June 2009 ↓

Sears Direct Parts

I have an EZ walk behind Craftsman Lawnmower. It is a Sears frame with a five horsepower Honda engine for power. It is self propelled, hence the EZ walk behind title. It is front wheel drive which is not a very smart design because it tends to tilt backwards when the collection bag fills up with grass clippings. Backwards tilting allows the front wheels to lift off the ground and the EZ walk behind becomes the Hard-to-Push behind. So we don’t use the bagger and cut the grass frequently enough to avoid bailing the hay that would be left after a mowing. Without the bagger it becomes a decent mulcher as long as you don’t let the grass get too high.

With all its faults this mower is one of the best mowers I have ever had. That could be because all the other might have been crap.

The sears mower is about 3 years old. The engine shows no signs of weakening but the front wheel drive quit driving. So it became the Hard-to-Push behind all the time.

Had trouble finding parts for the thing. Google has evolved into a next to useless search engine. Seems the folk that pay Google the money get top billing. Never mind that they don’t have parts for the Craftsman mower, they do have the money to bribe Google into wasting your time with faulty search results. Course that might be improved by picking better search words. So we might not be able to give Google and greed all the credit but the search results have been wanting of late. Come to think of it if I am clarevoyant and able to pick really good search words, like Sears Direct Parts, then I don’t need Google at all. Either way Google looses.

I finally did find the correct place for Sears parts. A place that acutally recognized the model number of my mower and sent me to the correct parts list.

The original cost of the mower was $300. That was three years ago and about $100 more than I wanted to pay. I recently saw a very similar mower at Sams the other day. Rear wheel drive this time but it also had a Honda engine and a $300 price tag. So paying $50 for repair parts was not such a bad deal until you consider it only go you a couple of brass bushings, a geared shaft, a gear for the drive shaft, and an oil plug. Cost 10 bucks to have that stuff shipped to my door for a total of $50. Still, it was cheaper than buying a new mower at $300. It was also cheaper than the $60+ rebuild kit they offered. That 60 bucks was for parts only. It would have cost $70 to get it to your door. At $70 we are getting closer to the tipping point where it would make sense to go get the new mower at Sams for $300.

The best news is that the repair worked. Took about an hour to remove the wheels, shaft, and gearbox; and another hour to put it all back togther. Now if you can get paid $100 bucks an hour (take home) at a REAL job, you might not want to do this repair, but I have more time than money.

Sort of looking forward to mowing the lawn again. Just wish it was not so hot. Funny how the grass does not need mowing in the winter when it is cooler.

Impulse buying at the computer store

People often advise me to avoid those displays that are set up at the entrance to stores. They are usually sucker bait for impulse buyers.

Well, our local computer emporiun is no exception to this practice.

Looking for CDs to transfer some pictures from the iBook to disk and free up some hard disk space. Right next to the entrance/exit was a large array of recordable CDs. Containers of 50 for $8.99.

Hmm…seemed a little on the rich side so I went into the store to see what else they had. Found stacks of 50 disks for the special price of $4.99. Plastic wrapped but no containers. No problem, I have lots of empty containers at home. Can’t justify paying $4.00 for a container when the 50 disks are only $4.99.

Sure glad I am not an impulse buyer.

Drake LED pilot lights

Next to Collins, Drake is probably the better of the old boatanchor rigs. Not better than Collins, just better than anything other than Collins.

One of the more annoying aspects of using older tube type equipment is maintenance. The equipment rarely needs maintenance but when it does good parts are difficult to find.

A dead pilot light is one of these parts. The rigs can still be used with a dead pilot light. The dial and meter can still be read but there is something depressing about a dark radio even if it is still working.

The last time I replaced the bulb was about a year ago. I found a #47 bulb at Radio Shack. A year later it is dead. The original bulb had lasted over 30 years but it was not purchased at Radio Shack.

Six months ago I bought an LED flashlight. A real bargain at $3.50 even if it did have a super stinky plastic grip. Yup, made in China and they probably made the grip out of hazadous waste. Took about two minutes to remove the grip and throw it away. The end result was a nice little flashlight sporting 20 high intensity white LEDs.

The 20 LEDs were all connected in parallel and powered off 4-1/2 vdc from three AAA cells connected in series. No dropping resistors or other parts.

The LEDs were easily removed as they were soldered into a circular printed circuit card. I first removed one ring of six LEDs.

These LEDs were wired in paralled and powered from the 6.3vac pilot light supply with a diode in series with one power lead and a 50 ohm 1/4watt resistor in series with the other lead.

The LEDs were bright enough to provide sufficient reflected light to evenly illuminate the white diffusion screen originally used in the R4C receiver.

The LEDs were mounted on .4 inch centers with the row of six centered on a peice of surplus circuit board which contained plated thru holes on .1 inch centers.

This board was then mounted to a copper bracket and attached to a custom made pilot light bracket. A third section of copper was used to tie the copper bracket and the aluminum pilot light bracket together.

The physical arrangement was such that the LEDs were aimed at the underside of the custom pilot light bracket. The underside of this bracket was covered with aluminum foil acting as a reflector. The dull side of the foil was used as the reflector because the shinnier side resulted in hot spots on the white plastic diffuser.

No attempt was made to use the blue filter originally provided with the radio. The white diffused light from the LEDs was perfectly adaquate and seemed to provide better visibility than when the blue filter was used. Without the filter the dial looked as though is was illuminated by a cool flourescent. Bright and readable. No need for any strange filtering.

The illumination for the meter and Xtal switch window was provided using three additional high intensity LEDs. The finished overall effect can be seen in the accompanying photograph.

Now to do the same thing for the T4XC. At present the transmitter has some sort of greenish filter and old incandescent bulbs. It will be good to get it upgraded and looking like a real match for the R4C.

My Drake twins will soon be twins again.

Those not willing to give up the blue light may be interested in using Blue LEDs. Note also that high intensity LEDs are also available in red, green, and yellow. When using colored LEDs there is no need for a filter.

Goodbye Firefox

Version 3 of Firefox will not work with older versions of Windows. No reson given as to why. No explanation of why it is a good thing for the user to use bloated software that is not backward compatible.

So, I dumped Firefox when I found K-Meleon.

K-Meleon is faster loading and smaller in size and works with older versions of Windows

Apache and Win98

I just tried to install the latest Apache server into win98. It does not work anymore. Need to go back to an earlier version of Apache to make it work with win98.

Not sure if I would want to do that. Apache was never big on windows of anykind and prefered to be run on a Unix system. Apparently windows did (and still does) not provide even reasonable means to secure a server.

Okay. Never mind. I will just go and use the old Debian Etc system that is already set up with Apache2 and Mysql and WordPress.