Saturday, August 27, 2016


That's right.
WWD baby!
Once I get going there's no stopping me!
I think.
Well, here's the evidence:

My new to me transceiver!
Oh yeah baby a dual band VHF/UHF radio!
First of all lemme tell you, ham radio has changed since the last time I keyed a microphone.
Now everyone is linked up on the internets via things called nodes and you can pretty much talk world wide on UHF.
That's like the 70cm  band in ham talk.
Back in the olden days UHF was pretty much dead.
I mean you could talk on it, but no one did cause most of the action was on VHF.
By the way, VHF stands for Very High Frequency.
Guess what UHF is...
That's right!
Ultra High Frequency!
Boy, you gotta hand it to those FCC dudes to come up with some fancy names for radio frequencies.
Anyways, I've been monitoring this thing called the Winsystem, a system of repeaters and nodes that are pretty much world wide.
Interesting to listen to say, England on the FM side of radio.
The only times I ever got into Europe was on CW (carrier wave) using Morse code.
Now the world is just a mike key away!
So anyways, I was thinking long and hard between paychecks about what kind of station I wanted to do.
First of all, I wanted to have independent power:

There's my deep cycle 12 volt marine battery sitting outside on my lanai.
Along with all the wires sticking out from under my window.
I may eventually use two batteries running is series so I have some reserve power.
For now I got this:

Slow rate trickle charger, about 1.5 amps.
That will be the back up, you know, in case it rains cause the next step is a solar charging panel.
Looks I need about 25 watts, but I'm still researching that part.
Because of my building I'm only getting direct sun about half the day, that's why I need the back up trickle charger.
I'm running a sort of portable antenna for now, but a real one is on the way.
I sort of wanted to make sure I wanted to really get back into being a ham until spending the big bucks.
Which I'm starting to spend.
Oh boy.
Actually it's not so bad since there's like tons of used stuff on the eVilness and it's not like you can reinvent the radio.
One of the first things I got was a new microphone.
I mean sounding good is everything.
If you know what I mean.
So off I went in search of audio bliss:

That's right static fans!
The World Wide Turner +3 desk mike!
You are not a radio operator unless you've had one of these babies!
All good except these were designed for CB radio and for AM and SSB use.
Not for FM.
Which is what I'm talking on.
Thankfully it sounds pretty good on FM because I got two of em.
You know, one for a back up.
Okay, so I'm on my way!
Burning up the airwaves!
World Wide Domination (WWD) is next!
I even found my old key:

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hamming It Up!

So to speak.
Like kind of.
I mean, I just started so technically I haven't really been hamming it up yet.
Well, I mean I haven't just started, I started like 20 years ago.
From the beginning.
Okay, not from the way back beginning, but the present day beginning.
Sort of.
Anyways, so I've always had a fascination with radio.
Back when I was shorter, I made one of them crystal radio kits and used to listen to this Hawaiian station that went off the air at like 4:30 in the PM.
It was the only station I could receive.
I used to look at that thing, the crystal radio, and wonder how the hell I was hearing music when there's like no batteries
Then much later there was the CB thing in the seventies, which was fun, then the CB thing again in the nineties, which was fun too, but that led to my amateur radio ticket.
Which was fun too, but only lasted a couple of years.
Listen: you talk on that radio more than you talk to me!
Something had to go in the closet and well, it was the radio.
Flash forward to about a month ago.
Surfing the ole eVilness, I came across a short wave band radio.
Well if you've been following along at home you, the reader, know that I already have a shortwave radio.
Not that I listen to a lot of short wave, but at least I can.
So I'm looking at that short wave radio, wondering where the hell my radio is.
It was in my classroom thankfully.
Well it got me thinking, it would be kinda nice to have one in the classroom and one at home.
You know, just in case.
Then I get this email from one of my local Flickr pals.
Hey dude, I remember you mentioned you were a ham so I was just checking and I noticed that your ticket is about to expire!  Better renew!
Wow thanks!
Didn't really think about it too much.
Okay, I got this license that took a bit to get.
Why not renew even I haven't thought about it for like fifteen years.
Long story short:

I got me not one radio, but two!
Why two?
Obsessiveness I suppose.
The in-between:
I actually put up a CB radio antenna on my lanai along with a CB walkie talkie; you know just to see if anyone was out there.
No one is out there.
In the two weeks I had that CB hooked up, I heard two folks once.
Okay, so I'm not getting a CB.
What's left?
Two meters.
In layman's terms, 144 megahertz.
Which I'm now on.
Or at least listening to.
These newfangled radios nowadays are freakin small!

That's a peace dollar for scale.
More on the peace dollar later.
Actually maybe you don't what to know about the peace dollar.
For Trevor:

I also got some of the Queen's, er King's cash.
Been watching too much Peaky Blinders.
How you English folks ever paid for anything pre decimal I'll never know.
I mean it seems like you had to be proficient in calculus just to buy some bread!
Or something.
Anyways, I'm back on the air!
OTA baby!
Okay, I've only actually keyed my microphone like three times, you know to see if I'm getting out there, but soon I'll be taking over the airwaves!
Hamming it up like a radio fiend!
I've already made a basic outline for world domination.
Thanks to some modern innovations like the computer and the internet, there's actually a radio repeater linked pretty much across these United States.
I'm impressed.
Well anyways we, the islands are about to rained on by some tropical storm remnants so I better go and do what ever the hell it was I was supposed to do.
Or maybe I'll just sit here and listen to my radio.
More excuses to stay on the couch.
If you know what I mean.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Three Days!

Where did summer go?
Seems like I just blinked my eyeballs and I got three days left before going back to work!
Actually, I'm sort of looking forward to going back.
Nothing more fulfilling than bossing around little slaves all day long.
I mean teaching students.
So anyways, what have I been doing all summer long?
Doing that jewelry thing:

I've been trying my hand at some cloisonné, in French it means frustrating.
I ordered some silver plate and wire and some enamels:

The enamels I believe are just some crushed glass.
Or something.
Anyways, you use the wire to make your outlines and then fill in all the negative space with the enamels.
The trick is what designs to do.

I just wanted to try something simple.
The wire is held in place with a clear coat. The enamels are heated to oh about 1450 F before they melt and smooth over.
Now for some color:

Le Diamond  Tete!
That's actually just the first 'coat.'  The glass settles and most times you need to a couple three four applications to fill out the space.
Anyways, you get the idea.
I've also been doing some rings, more on that later.
Now its like three days to go and I  need to get my room in order.
So off I go.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hot Wax

So I got into a bit o'casting.
No, not casting like fishing, but some metal casting.
I did metal casting in school, mostly bronze and aluminium, but this was large stuff, about a foot so tall.
The casting I'm doing now is small scale; rings and stuff.
How does it work?
Well, first you make your thing in wax, in this case a ring:

That's your basic wax ring shape.
Sort of.
It actually comes in a tube thingy, but I forgot to take pics of it.
So anyways, you file that thing down until you are ready to cast.
Then you put it in a thing called a flask:

The ring goes in the metal tube thing and the metal tube thing is filled with plaster.
From there it goes into a kiln which burns all the wax out of the plaster:

Meanwhile, the metal of your choice gets loaded up into a centrifuge thing.
The metal actually goes into a crucible where it is heated up and melted.
I couldn't gets pics of that cause I was working alone today and to to tell you the truth, I forgot all  about you, the reader.
The spinner thingy:

Once all the wax is burned out, it goes on the spinner thingy with all the molten metal, in this case fine silver, and then the spinner thingy is well, spinned.
Around and around she goes, centrifugal force well, forces the molten metal in the plaster mold.
If it all goes well, and lemme tell you, it doesn't always go well, you may get something like this:

That is like V.4 of the skull ring, V.2 through V.3 got melted back down because of artist error.
I added the emeralds later.
I'm not real happy with it, sort of looks like the bug-eyed skull dude, but it's technically the second one that made it through the process so I'm hanging on to it.
For now.
Anyways, this whole casting thing has opened up a new area for me and I'm pretty excited about it.
More on this later.
Right now, I'm working on the Secret Decoder Ring, you know, the one I use for Top Secret Flat Tire Communications, the stuff you, the reader, aren't allowed to read.
The next edition will be in code.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Small Hands

What I do during summer.
Which is what do the rest of the year too.
Except the hands aren't small like this.
Well, some of them are.
Going back to working in clay wasn't really what I expected.
I mean I expected to be really happy.
I was.
Kinda sorta.
Or maybe I was just distracted by all this working in metal again.
More on this later.

Friday, June 24, 2016

One Year

I'm back.
For my annual post.
Okay, not really.
About being back I mean.
Anyways, a lot has been going on here in Flat Tire Land!
Moving and shaking!
That's me!
There's some stuff we need to catch up on and some new stuff happening:

The jewelry enameling kit that came in the mail today.
That's right bling fans!
I'm making jewelry!
Well okay, that's a bit subjective as I'm not sure I'm actually making jewelry and not just a whole bunch of you know what.
More on this later.
I've also changed from photo teacher to ceramic teacher and there's a whole story there too.
Well okay, not too much in one sitting.
We got all year.
I think.
The Flat Tire presses are rolling again!
Read all about it!