08 April 2020

Staying at home, getting some TV back into the home office after 11 years.

During this COVID-19 outbreak we are all staying at home. I decided yesterday to finally restore TV to my home office area. It has been 11 years since I stopped using the set for watching TV, but I never removed it. I finally decided to connect a converter and antenna so I could get some TV to watch while I'm on my computer or while teleworking.

I decided to go with off air reception for multiple reasons. One, the limited channels would reduce the likelihood of distraction during working hours. Secondly, my local cable system doesn't carry one of the stations I can receive off air simply because they are out of market, but this station carries news out of the neighboring state, something my family is missing out on. Lastly, since I already owned all of the equipment required, in fact the converter was originally bought for this set, but I had initially had issues with reception.

Many may consider me crazy for using a CRT television in this modern era, especially for something other than retro games, but again, the equipment was already present and this set was already installed as I had used it with many sources over the years even when I didn't have off air programming on it.

The picture is beautiful even with the distortions, but those distortions can likely be repaired with some capacitor changes. Even though it is standard definition, I can still read the small text on the local news even though it is a bit blurred and the picture is far better than the TV would have displayed when new in 1986.

30 December 2019

Back On Blogger, what is this?

You may have just noticed I rolled back to blogger and any article from 2018 and 2019 is now gone. Due to the lack of work I've put into this blog in the past two years, the Wordpress hosting is not economically viable and is being cancelled. Due to the hasty migration, some of the articles have been lost, however these minor articles can be re-created if I choose to do so.

17 November 2017

iPhone USB can be made faster too.

With the fast charge capability of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X generating hype since this is the first time Apple started supporting what is considered a fast charge, however, multiple iPhones support faster charging than the charger in the box allows

These Models support a Maximum of 5 watts from the adapter:

  • iPhone
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5s
These models support a maximum of 12 watts with an upgraded Adapter such as used with the iPad:
  • iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
These models support (about) 36 watts with a USB-C to lightning cable and a USB-C adapter with Power delivery. In addition these support 12 watts with an upgraded adapter such as used with an iPad. These models support 5 watt (soon to be 7.5 after an iOS upgrade) wireless charging.

  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone X
This means that every iPhone since iPhone 6 can support faster charging than the included iPhone power adapter allows with the lightning to USB and presumably the Lightning to USB-C cables. The lighting to USB option requires an iPad (or compatible 2.1 amp third party) adapter.

25 October 2017

The Low Self Discharge NiMh Cell or How Rechargeable batteries are now ready for Prime time

Rechargeable batteries in standard household sizes have been on the market for decades they all have their problems. NiCd had issues with chargers and the misunderstood memory effect. Rechargeable Alkaline can't fully recharge, is limited in number of charge cycles, and usually fails by leaking. Traditional NiMh has a self discharge problem and charging is not convenient.

A new technology arrived in the past decade that changed the way rechargeable batteries are used. It has the power density of NiMh, it has low self discharge (although not as low as Rechargeable alkaline), and smart chargers prevent the charging issues of the NiCd era. What is this technology? It's actually NiMh! Low self discharge NiMh cells were introduced by Sanyo under the Eneloop name in 2005 (now made by Panasonic) and other companies soon followed.

What does this mean in terms of usability? It means a few things, firstly these cells are sold with a partial (approx 70%) charge so they can be used out of the package without recharging first. Instant usability was a major advantage of Rechargeable Alkaline. It is still NiMh technology which means the ability to handle heavy loads is still there. The mass availability of smart chargers eliminates the overcharge problem of NiCd. Of course the memory effect never occurred in consumer applications anyway (but was the blame of other issues, namely overcharging). The only two disadvantages that remain are to make sure people don't throw them away in error and that you don't have the full 1.5 volts.

This new technology means a major change in how the cells are used and stored. Low self discharge cells can be stored charged in battery organizers, ready to go, and used cells can then be stored in another organizer full of cells ready to be recharged (hint, put the used ones upside down in the same organizer to easily determine which ones need recharged). The instant availability of spare cells isn't the only game changer.

This new technology can also be used in equipment that stands by waiting for emergencies or even low drain devices such as clocks. Just make sure you check for voltage compatibility in clocks and older radios. My 1970s Panasonic transistor radio is a wonderful set, but it won't work for long on NiMh of any type. This means you can use these cells in your pre-staged emergency flashlights, just remember to top off the charge from time to time.

Now, in order for this to work well, you need good cells and good chargers. I recommend chargers with negative Delta V termination with single cell channels. Chargers that have two cell channels (require two cells to charge) are okay for anything used in Multiples of 2.

For specifics, I recommend Panasonic's Eneloop chargers for AA and AAA sizes and Tenergy's T-9688 for AAA, AA, C, and D, but not 9V. In fact I don't recommend NiMh for 9V, but I'll get to that later.

For cells, I recommend standard Panasonic Eneloop AA or AAA, don't bother with the Eneloop pro, the extra capacity reduces overall lifespan too much. The standard Eneloop can be recharged 2100 times where the Pro can only be recharged 500 times. If you don't mind the Capacity loss, you can also get Eneloop Lite which can be recharged 3000 times. There are other brands including the Tenergy Centura I recommend for C and D, but be sure you don't get cheap, low capacity types (pay attention, especially when buying the big brands).

For C and D size I recommend Tenergy Centura. This is because this is only other reputable brand I found with good capacity. In these sizes I highly discourage the big name brands, Energizer only goes up to 2500 mAH (which may not even be Low Self Discharge) and Ray-O-Vac up to 3000 mAH. These are near or slightly better than AA. Tenergy is around 4000 mAH for C cells and 8000 mAH for D-Cells.

For 9-Volt size I do not recommend NiMh as smart chargers for this size are difficult to find. In addition 9-Volt is rather complex. A Carbon Zinc or Alkaline 9-Volt has six cells. For a NiMh based battery to have the best compatibility more cells are needed. Six cells gets 7.2 volts, but the better types have seven cells for 8.4 volts or eight cells for 9.6 volts. The more cells needed in the same space, reduces the amp-hour capacity. However, there is another way to reach 7.2 to 8.4 volts with different technology. Two lithium Ion Cells in series will produce 7.4 volts nominal, but with 8.4 volts at a full charge. Lithium ion offers a few advantages, even lower self-discharge, good voltage compatibility, and even more power. In addition, lithium Ion charging requires a smart charger and in this case, probably a balancing circuit inside the pack as well.

The last question I need to answer is what you should do where you can't use NiMh cells for reasons of voltage compatibility, safety certification, internal charger compatibility, or for safety equipment (smoke detectors). If the issue is voltage compatibility, the best answer for AA, AAA, and 9V types is to either continue using standard cells that you normally buy or switch to Lithium. The lithium type will allow you to retain the reduction of leak risk that NiMh provides. If the issue is safety certification (unlikely in household use), you must follow the requirements of certification. Some equipment may allow you to use other types and simply change back to the permitted type to restore certification. Internal chargers can either be disabled as for Alkaline or not used, if neither is an option, NiCd cells are still available in the US. Lastly, I don't recommend rechargeable batteries for smoke detectors as most types state not to use them in the manual. For these I recommend a lithium replacement or if the detector is near end of life, replacing with a 10 year sealed battery type.

08 May 2017

What's this, a blog update?

Yes, I am finally around to updating this blog again. It's been quite a while. Let's see what I'm working on.


Earlier this year I bought a Canon EOS A2e at a secondhand store. This near top of the line 35mm SLR from the 1990s is working out for me quite well and I've been taking quite a few photos. I have a roll of film in there right now I need to finish. I also plan on shooting some slides coming up this year as well. I also bought a point and shoot 35mm camera for when I wish to have a compact camera. This is a Pentax IQZoom 160 which has a 35mm-160mm focal length and was a high end camera for its' time.


I just upgraded my video equipment. I finally have a handheld traditional camcorder that is capable of high definition. I plan on shooting some video as well. I can now capture 1080p video at 60 frames per second on something other than a smartphone. Using this type of camera also allows me to speed up the import part of my workflow since I can import video into iMovie faster than the real time limit of my previous MiniDV camcorder. Of course this doesn't help on the upload side since uploads will max out at a fraction of real time on my home internet connection.


I haven't been messing around with typewriters too much lately, but I now have a Brother electronic machine that doesn't have any typebars and has changeable fonts. Correction is a real plus on this too. I need to work on my accuracy since I use the correction way more than I should.

The Geek Group:

Of course, I'm still with The Geek Group and actually managed to make a trip out there this past September. While I mainly spent my time getting to know the people and the facility better, this time I aim to be more productive by doing projects that I know will work out well. My one project wasn't even really started, but that was more of me getting some anxiety of the project. I also assisted in some work in the High Voltage Laboratory during my time there.

Additional Audio/Visual Updates:

Since the last update I have obtained some additional projection equipment. I now have both a slide projector and an LCD video projector. The slide projector is a Kodak Carousel, while the video projector is an Epson. While not a high definition video projector, it is capable of downscaling and letterboxing high definition content as required as input via VGA or component connections. This projector uses three LCDs (one each for Red, Green, and Blue) with a native display resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

Blog Update:

I will be reviewing the comments on this blog, apparently there was a spam comment posted back in September that I did not notice until today. I will be cleaning that up and also checking the spam filter.

25 June 2015

Of Field Day and Changing Plans

Well ARRL Field Day is coming up fast. As all good plans go, sometimes they aren't meant to be and they have to be changed. No, I'm not talking about the 10 gallons of fuel that I need to take that for a bit I didn't think I had to.


Normally our club prepares for field day for normal weather or the possibility of storms later in the event. Usually during my time with the club we have not had to plan for rain all day on Saturday and the possibility of thunderstorms all day Saturday. In addition, I do not have a way to take photos in the rain as I don't have rain gear for my equipment and never even thought of it. This is in addition to the threat of lightning. Which is going to be a problem for all.

Additionally, I have a rather large data plan for my smartphone and I tether it to my Chromebook when it gets rather quiet at work. With tethering and portable hotspot I have the ability to connect to the internet on field day. Due to the weather threats this year I have volunteered to monitor real time lightning maps and radar sources to keep ahead of the weather.

What this means for myself and for W3CWC's operations:

This means I have less equipment I have to bring as I was planning on bringing the computer anyway, but no camera equipment needs to come. This also means that my scope of operations changes greatly. We are going to be using handheld radios to provide the communications for weather related information so that means everyone will need a handheld radio.

The showers and more importantly the thunderstorms means that we will have to scale back our operations. Our CW station will be limited to a few bands, we will be deleting our 40 meter station and other details I'm not familiar with yet. We will also be reducing the number of generator sets being used to provide for easier setup/take down and for additional safety (fewer exposed electrical connections).

This year we will have an emergency operations trailer on site with two operating positions, this will give us a few things. This will give us a dry and air conditioned space with diesel generator and two operating positions. Something we haven't had during my time with the ARA.

It is also possible that with the weather conditions we may not be able to set up the majority of our operations until later Saturday or early Sunday.

That's not all:

Poor ground weather conditions are not the only issue we are going to experience. In addition to the heavy rain and thunderstorms there is currently a forecast for a moderate (NOAA G2 Class) geomagnetic storm during the field day period. This may cause problems with making contacts on HF, but may enhance VHF contacts.


11 June 2015

Field Day Update

It is less than a month until Field Day and the preparations are starting. What am I doing to prepare. Lets take a look.


My normal work schedule is Sunday through Thursday 1500-2330 local, this means I need to schedule time off and for someone to cover for me on Sunday. This has already been taken care of, but it is worth mentioning.

Tools and Misc. Supplies:

I always bring tools with me to the Field Day site in case myself or anyone else needs them. I need to take care of a few things. First I need to take the screwdriver from my bedroom and put back in my toolbox and possibly get a screwdriver just for the stereo as the one component is finicky and jams sometimes. I need to bring my nut drivers home and gather my portable soldering tools. I also need to get fuses for my one multimeter since I managed to blow it. I will also be bringing my handheld radio in case communications on the repeaters are needed. I also have sunscreen and bug spray from last year that I should be able to use as well.

Computing and commercial communications:

I usually try to bring a computer and tether it to my smartphone (likely portable hotspot) in case someone needs information from the Internet. I will bring my Acer Chromebook with my for that. Also may bring my tablet. My Samsung S4 smartphone will provide commercial cellular Data, SMS, and Phone communications including the data connection to the other devices.

Snacks and Drinks:

While the club provides the dinner and some snacks and sodas, I always bring my own to drink. I will be bringing Pepsi and bottles of water to drink as well as some salted snacks such as Chex Mix to eat. Not sure what if anything else I'm bringing for food/drink.

Camera Equipment and setup:

I'll be using mostly the same equipment as last year with my Canon EOS Rebel T5 (which will be synced with the computer for time beforehand) and my lenses. I now have a flash for the DSLR so I will not be limited to the internal flash, slow shutters, or my film camera after sunset. Power will be provided to the camera body by Canon lithium ion batteries and the flash will be powered by either (or both) Lithium Primary cells and Low Self Discharge NiMh cells. I will also bring my Targus Tripod in case it is needed.


In an earlier post I had stated that I would be donating fuel in addition to being the photographer and one of the GOTA station coaches. It appears that the fuel donation will not be necessary. I will still be the photographer and provide GOTA station coaching.