Pogoplug modding

This has been done to death a bit and I am late in the game but this weekend I am going to modify a Pogoplug V4. The plan is to use it as a webserver and maybe as a local backup solution for my computers so I don’t have to swap around a JumpDrive.

I bought it for $10.00 and was free shipping so if this works out I’ll buy a couple more.

The plan is to toss on ArchLinux. Since the Pogoplug uses uBoot I can only boot from the USB 2.0 or from the SATA. I might just use an old 256MB Jumpdrive as boot device and use a hard drive for everything else.


Home renovating

Yep that’s right, new built home and already doing stuff to it. Mostly at the moment changing out small things that the Builder could have done better. For an example today I got tired of the kids slamming the pantry close. The pantry doors are small interior doors with ball catches. In other words it’s a ball bearing and a spring that compresses so the ball and catch a groove on the door casing. It’s terrible and attended for solid doors not hallow interior doors. I put some short pieces of dowel into where the door catch was and put a rare earth magnet on top with some epoxy so it works like a magnet catch. The big project coming up is building a wall and replacing some flooring. The front of the House has a Family room and Dinning room. We are going to put up a wall in the Family room so we can a fifth bedroom. The Dinning room has Carpet and since there is a wall going up we plan to rip up the carpet in that area and put door some Vinyl flooring. The fifth Bedroom will have Carpet.

I’ll be doing the work myself and might cover the progress on here. The Wife is going to paint as well and since the Bedroom is the Middle Son’s he gets to paint his own room.

New Tools for the Shop

Bought a few new goodies over the past week. The first new Tool is a wannabe Hakko Soldering station from Circuit Specialists. Was only $40.00 after shipping. Works so much better than the cheap Soldering irons that plug straight into the mains. I have no idea why I went so long without a proper Soldering iron. The only down side is it came with one tip and it’s rather small, I need to get a couple of chisel tips. I also bought a 100watt Soldering iron Gun for chassis soldering. The Jury is still out for that puppy. While I was at it I grabbed a 16oz roll of .062 50/50 Rosin Core Solder.

I can’t get myself to buy a can of Dexoit-3 however I bought a small can of CRC 2-26. This stuff works great, I’ve used most of the can already cleaning contacts and pots on my test equipment. It’s worth the eight bucks and I still can’t get myself to spent twice that for Dexoit-3.

I got myself a Ryobi Miter Saw yesterday. It’s the small 7inch unit and works well for my needs. Comes with a carbide blade and only had to tweak the laser sight a tad bit. I was going for a Table Saw but the Home Depot I went to sold their last one I wanted and since the closest Home Depot is 21 miles away I went for the Miter saw. I tested it out by cutting some scrap wood and for a small saw it packs a punch. I just need to set it up on a stand. I got one of those crappy work benches that is adjustable from Harbor Freight last year so I might use that as the stand for now. Also I need to make an adapter so I can hook my shop vac to the saw for dust collection. The dust bag can only hold so much.

RCA Institutes Model 825

Well as an impulse buy and a short drive I bought a RCA Institutes Model 825 scope for fourty bucks. It’s a bit beaten up but I can restore it. At first things looked a little grim since when I got home with it I tried to find a manual, schematic or even a BOM so I can start taking inventory for caps. Found out it is really a HeathKit IO-12 that RCA provided for their schools. So I got the info needed for it.

When I opened up the scope I found some interesting stuff. The 6CA4 Rectifier tube had a milky white top that indicates air had gotten into the Tube. I pulled the Tube and sure enough when I was pulling it the base of the tube stayed while the rest came off. The rest of the Tubes look good so probably when that Tube died it was shelved. Also none of the caps have physically leaked. On the inside of the chassis was a name, phone number and a social security number. For giggles I looked up the name and SS number and found out the former owner and probably put the kit together passed away back in 1991.

Besides the 6CA4 Tube needing replaced I need to recap the whole thing and replace all of the binding posts. A paint job would be nice as well but I don’t want to cover up the lettering on the front unless I can make some decals.

I’m looking at about fifty bucks just for new caps for it. The scope has two multi-section cans and two 1uF 1600 volt paper caps. I need to dig around my parts and see if I have the most common paper cap replacements.

Thoughts of starting a YouTube channel.

Since now I have a shop, I have been thinking about starting a YouTube channel. Kinda late in the game since YouTube has been under fire lately and such but at the same time I think it would be interesting to try.

I was thinking to go a different path than most people who sit there taking numerous takes and tons of editing to make themselves look like pros and never make mistakes. I was thinking to go unedited and unscripted. This way you can see mistakes being made and how to over come them and learn from it instead of just editing it to go “do this, this and this”. For me it will be “do this, this and umm let’s try this”.

I don’t have a suitable camera yet but my cell phone does very decent video I could try with one video and see the reaction. I know people hate potato vision and shake cams so I’ll have to put together a tripod or something.

If I do pursue this venture the first video will be repairing an old CRT SuperVGA monitor for my retro PC. I have seen a few videos and personally seen a few people doing the wrong thing to a CRT and surprised they don’t get shocked or killed.

Tube Amp progress

My 6SN7 Tubes came in today. I started to put the chassis together and ran into a snag. The sockets are falling apart so I ordered three new ceramic sockets. But I still went on with installing the Power Transformer, mounted the Speaker and Output Transformer. Also in a last second change I am changing out the incandescent bulbs for the Radio Dial to LED. I have some Automotive bulbs and they work fine with a rectified 6.3 filament. I tried running straight AC but the LED didn’t like it so after tossing on a couple 1n4001 diodes and a 220uF filter cap it works like a charm. Since the LEDs are running under voltage they are not super bright and work wonders for the Dial lamp replacements. With the 220uF cap they have a slight flicker like an old incandescent bulb.

Once as I get the new Sockets I will post some pictures. Tomorrow I may or may not work on the cabinet some more.

Selenium Rectifier VS Silicon Diode

Selenium Rectifiers were basically the first solid state rectifier to replace Vacuum Tube Rectifiers. In a nut shell it is a stack of plates with Selenium that can turn AC into DC. By today’s standards you should not use Selenium Rectifiers and use Silicon Diodes or if possible if it’s a Vacuum Tube device then use a Vacuum Tube Rectifier.

Now there is a dirty little trick when converting over to a Silicon Diode. Selenium Rectifiers¬†for some odd reason have the Kathode listed as Positive, in truth it is not. I guess they listed it for the flow of current. So remember Positive is the Kathode for Selenium Rectifiers. Also if you convert to a Silicon Diode chances are you’re doing this to a Vacuum Tube device be sure to check if the Tubes can handle the added voltage since a Silicon Diode has a voltage drop of .62 to .76 of a volt while Selenium can have a voltage drop of a few volts. So do the math and you might have to add a resistor to drop the voltage or put a few Diodes in line to get the proper voltage.

If you come across a Selenium Rectifier that doesn’t show the polarity you can’t use a Diode test on a Multimeter but testing each side in Mega Ohms works. The lest amount of resistance is the Anode (Positive). The higher side in resistance is the Kathode (Negative).

Here is a reason why you should convert to Silicone Diodes instead of leaving in a Selenium Rectifier. For one Selenium can just suddenly short out and put toxic fumes in the air, not to mention fry the power transformer of your device that you’re probably restoring. In other words can be a fire/safety issue.

Picking the proper Diode is easy. Since once again chances are it’s a Vacuum Tube device you’re converting so the old trusty 1n4007 Diode will work. It’s rated for 1KV Working Peak Reverse Voltage and 700volts RMS reverse voltage. It’s rated for 1amp but you can find different Diodes with higher Amp ratings. For an example in my RCA WV-77E I have a 1n5401. It’s rated for 3Amps and 280 volts but the Meter just uses 135volts.

For more info on the subject here is a PDF I found covering on converting Selenium to Silicon.

News 1/7/18

I haven’t done one of these for a while.
It’s a new year and a lot to do and cover.

I’m still putting the new shop in order. Going through boxes and drawers finding stuff and putting it away. Since the new house is a 45 minute drive from work of what free time I have during the week days I spend with the family and pretty much only got the week ends for my hobbies.

Last week I started putting together the blog post for running low voltage lines in the house but I had a computer crash. The pictures I copied over from my phone are gone and I attend to not keep pictures on my phone after I transfer them over. So I will have to try again when I run more low voltage lines. I was only able to run one line so far, really more turning an existing phone line into a Data line for the family computer. Since I don’t plan to ever get a LAN line I just relocated the end that goes outside to the Living room wall. I will however try again soon when I add more low voltage cabling to the house. I might even do it when I add the new shop lighting or the security cameras.

Last couple of Saturday nights the Kids and I have been having Nerf wars in the house. It is a load of fun but we keep loosing darts everywhere. The middle son and I have been looking into the Recoil Lasertag stuff and made plans to buy the starter kit next week. I think it would be fun to reverse engineer one of the guns and see about making custom weapons.

Since I found all of my parts for my new bench power supply I put a prototype together. It’s just mounted to a piece of wood. It’s really just a Linear back-end with one of those digital output controllers. It’s kinda odd that the Transformer has a 40 volt tap and after rectification it jumps to almost 70 volts. I tossed on a huge low value power resistor to see how it holds up and holy crap it only sags a couple of volts, way too much voltage for the controller so I had to use the 20 volt tap and with rectification and no load it’s around 35 volts. The controller I have is rated for 50 volts.

The vintage TrueTone d2626 radio I have been turning into a Class A amp is coming together slowly. I completely stripped down the chassis, wire wheeled it and painted the exterior with black enamel. The power and output transformers are fine and got cleaned up and a coat of paint. The tube sockets are trash so I need to buy some new ones. I got a couple of 6SN7GT tubes on their way. I also started on the cabinet and it is very rough. I ended up stripping the vernier on the sides and top off and plan to sand the top and add new vernier to the top. I’m not worried about the sides I plan to sand and finish it, has a real nice Oak grain. I also found a Klipsch speaker that will fit and work find for the radio.

I tried to get a Sencore t109 Tube tester and attempted to Bid for one on eBay. I almost won. When I was at Walmart with the Kids getting more Nerf darts I was minutes from the auction ending. I thought I had won because it said it ended and I won but when we got to the parking lot and decided to send payment I saw I was out bid by a dollar. Damn Walmart building hindered my phone’s data. So I am still in the market for one. All I can find for the price I want for the moment is for just the big Tubes. I would like to get one that can do the smaller tubes as well since I have a few devices that use them.

Adding Cabling to your home professionally yourself (Preface)

Before you can go gun-ho on something like this thinking “I can do it, who needs a cable guy!” You need to know a few things. Reason why I say this I do this as my job and always hear “I was going to do it but I just don’t know”. So with that said here are things you need to know.

1. – Safety
This requires to go into the Attic. You might want to plan for a cool day such as the Morning or Late Evening. Mid day you will sweat buckets within minutes if you live in a hot climate. If you never been in an Attic before you will learn quickly to watch your head for roofing nails and to be sure to walk on the supports, studs and trusses. Never walk let alone sit on the drywall ceiling, it will not support you. Also avoid stepping on electrical wire and watch the AC duct work.

2. – make land marks.
Before going into the Attic do a walk through to where you need to go and take note of light fixtures, AC vents and plumbing. This way when you go into the Attic you’ll know the room you want is the correct room. If you’re running Coax you can make a marker by stripping a large chunk and stick the bare copper (stinger) through the ceiling near the location. This will leave a small hole you can easily patch.

3. – Tools.
You’ll need a few tools such as a head lamp, drill with at least a 7/8 paddle bit (bigger if you plan to run four or more cables into the same location), Tape, wire cutters, Glow-rods or chain. These tools are needed for the Attic portion.

4. – Misc
Try not to use wire that already has connectors on them. If you have no choice then use plenty of tape on the connector end and if dropping more than one cable then stagger the cables if you they have connectors on them.
Also it is far much easier with a second person. They can guide you if you get lost by knocking on the wall and they can even tell you if the wire dropped all the way.
Avoid exterior walls. The insulation will hinder you. Also there is a chance you’ll run into fire blocking. Fire blocking is a 2×4 or 2×6 that is running Horizontal between two studs. They’re typically four to five feet up in the wall. A stud finder might be able to locate them, most stud finders are just metal detectors and locate a stud by finding nails and screws that secure the drywall on. Hopefully the Dry-wallers put a couple of screws or nails into the fire block. The only way around a fire block is to cut the dry wall to reveal it then notch it, break it out or just drill through it, just easier to drill through it.

5.- Cable
Avoid laying your cable on Can lights, they get very hot. Try not to follow the same path as electrical if you’re running Data, TV or Audio. If you’re running Data or audio have it four inches away minimum from any electrical. Keep in mind you need to measure the wall distance. For an example you want to splice into an existing TV and want to add a Coax cable to another wall in the same room and your walls are eight foot and the span twelve feet, add sixteen and twelve and add six to give you some wiggle room of slack, the total should be thirty-four feet of cable will be needed.

6. – Interior side of things
This is the easy part. You’re just “trimming” and if you had a helper it would be a breeze since the helper could have cut the drywall and pulled the cable ends through. However if you’re doing it alone then you would have cut the drywall for your plate and shoved a marker in the ceiling before going into the Attic.

If there is anything I missed it will be covered in the finished guide.

Planning for more shop lighting.

Currently the only light sources in my Garage shop are two lights. The Ceiling light and my desk lamp. It’s enough light for a few things but if I need to work with small things I need extra light. So to add more lighting at on a small budget and not require much attic crawling I am going to go with a Vintage look. Some pendant light fixtures with some “Edison bulbs”.

There will be a total of four light fixtures. One will replace the current light fixture and three more over the desk. I want to splice into the current fixture and run some romex to a junction box for the center light fixture for the work bench then use modern cloth-covered wire to branch over to the left and right fixtures that will also be over the bench. The wire will be exposed to give it that more of a vintage look.

If I need more lighting at the bench I can add some LED lighting under the pedestal I am using to mount a couple of LCD computer monitors.

Down the road I can find myself a vintage desk and chair to give my shop a Vintage look and feel. I’m still holding out for HarborFreight to put that wooden tool box on sale.

Anyway, The Pendant light fixtures I have been looking at are twelve bucks a pop. Also I found a three pack of the fixtures for sixty bucks. It’s cheaper to buy the four by them selves let alone the three pack doesn’t include the light bulbs. When it is all said and done I’m looking at anywhere from eighty to one hundred and thirty bucks for the lighting.