Sunday, November 27, 2011

Verizon Home Monitoring

While watching Hockey Night in Canada last night one commercial (out of what seems like hundreds these days) caught my eye, the Verizon Home Monitoring and Control. If you are a Verizon Fios customer this system lets you control the lights, heat, doors, etc.

It is amazing what electronic type gadgets are available these days if you want to spend the money, $9.95 a month. I have been a Fios customer for the past 3+ years for my Internet, TV, & phone, it's wonderful. It's amazing what they can do over fiber. My former cable TV provided kept taking away channels but not cutting my bill, that is a post for another day.

Yesterday was a very nice warm sunny 67F day for the end of November. Cut the lawn one last time and did a general clean up of the yard which means picking up the leafs. Even had time to put up the Christmas lights outside. My sons soccer season ended last Sunday so this will free up more time this afternoon to play some radio. It looks like another nice day so maybe an outside radio setup in the yard.

I want to take advantage of these warm days before the freezing cold winter is here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Almost time to watch the Macy's Day Parade.

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

How Not To Fry A Turkey!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner here is William Shatner on how not to burn the house down.

The bird does look yummy coming out of the pot!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Google X

Today's New York Times has an article on the secret lab of Google X.

Located in a undisclosed location in Calf., future projects with cars, robots, space elevators, etc.
Anything that mentions a secret lab just sounds so cool.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Be sure to check your clocks tonight at 11:11 PM. You will not see this for another 100 years.

Happy Veterans Day & Thank You!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is a Test of The Emergency Broadcast System!

This Wednesday at 2 PM Eastern time radio and TV stations will stop regular programming and conduct a 60 second test of the national Emergency Alert System. I am sure most of you heard these tests growing up, they go back to 1951.

I did hear the alert system once on the car radio while driving up the NJ Turnpike to North Jersey, it was for a major snow storm due to hit the following day, back in the early ninety's. The car was a Mazda RX-7, loved that car!

Above videos are past tests from WPIX and WCBS TV stations.

These TV tests remind me of simpler times growing up, a handful of TV channels, and great Saturday morning cartoons.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Long Time NYC Marathon Volunteer

Came across an article in my Sunday edition of the Daily News regarding a local NJ ham Steve Mendelsohn. (W2ML)

Steve has been a volunteer for the marathon for 36 years as a Communications Director. This past year he was diagnosed with cancer.

What a great job he has done over the years, the marathon is a real big event, that must require a ton of time.

Click the link below to read the article.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Evening Post

Here is a simple crystal radio I put together from the pages of Gonzo Gizmos.

Bill of materials:

Plastic water bottle (dollar store special)
1N34A diode
26AWG magnet wire (Philmore# 12-1226)
Crystal Earphone (Philmore# 748)
A few jumper wires with alligator clips
Ground and antenna wire.


As per the instruction I prepared the bottle with four holes, two on top and bottom for holding wires in place, great tip.

The wrapping of wire for the coil on the bottle took the most time, I used a pencil to make small loops every six turns or so. The loops are for station selection when complete. I used a lighter to burn off insulation from wire ends and loops. Sandpaper also works well. Took my time wrapping the windings to create a neat appearance instead of a birds nest type look.

Pencil used to form loops.

The magnet wire can be any common gauge from 18 to 22, I had a spool of 26 that was 3/4 full. I did not solder my connections but used a wire wrap tool. The detector 1N34A diode picks up the audio frequencies out of the radio wave.

They also recommended trying a telephone headset, I had a crystal earphone handy. As you can see the crystal radio circuit is as simple as it gets. A telephone headset would be interesting to try and see how it would work out, maybe a future build. I found the key is a great ground more than the antenna. My ground of choice was a cold water pipe in the basement.

The final result: the strongest and only station heard was 770 WABC in NY, came through with a soft signal but was audible. The individual loops did not help me much but it might have helped if I removed more insulation from the wires. I think my antenna could have made a better connection with the individual loops. Something to play around with and test.

Another tip is to kill all background noise, TVs, talking, etc., sometimes if not most depending on your conditions signals heard in the earphone are extremely weak. I will draw up the schematic and post it in a few days.

Tweaking the circuit, trying different grounds, etc. I should be able to pull in more stations.

Odds & Ends....

Received the November edition of CQ in the mailbox this afternoon, new reading material is always welcome for the weekends.
Cut the lawn today, only 1-2 more times before the colder temps are here.
Went to my sons football game this morning, soccer tomorrow, (remember "Wide World of Sports") and maybe some radio fun after that.

Have A Nice Weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gonzo Gizmos Projects & Devices

Your local pubic Library is a great source for electronics and project books. Here is a cool book I picked up, Gonzo Gizmos Projects & Devices by Simon Quellen Field.

A look at the contents:

Light and Optics

The book has many interesting projects but what caught my eye was the Radio section. Crystal radios (always a favorite of mine) homemade capacitors, diodes, and radios made with just a few components.

The film cannons, laser communicator, and solar hot dog cooker are worth a look. The plastic hydrogen bomb will be a read only at this house. The book is written in a very down to earth easy format with tons of pictures.

One review from the back cover "Even the Professor from Gilligan's Island could learn a trick or two from Simon Field".

I find that less technical is a better read after a long day of work.

Just a fun read!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Power Up!

Last night we were outside checking out the Halloween costumes when I noticed my neighbors front porch light on...POWER!

YES! Street lights starting filling the dark black streets with light. It was wonderful sleeping with the heat on and being able to read the evening paper.

Hopefully the others without power will get a quick fix before it gets cold. I guess we are lucky because it was only out from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday night, many are still a few days away.