First Power Up of the VMC mill in the shop

First Power Up of the VMC mill in the shop

First power up of the Excel VMC CNC into the shop. Testing of the American Rotary three phase AD-20 converter with the Mill.

After verifying the three phase connection voltages and placing the high leg on non-control leg inputs of the machine I powered the machine on without issues. I did initial leveling using the bed with the center bed screws loose. All the rigging preventing table and Z axis movement was removed. I used simple green cleaner for most of the machine. The automatic tool changer area I used purple power. A fresh load of coolant will do the rest of the cleaning for me.

I did have an issue after startup with a servo drive alarm. It ended up being a fiber optic connector on the Fanuc controls. After reconnecting, everything worked fine.

DIY Inverter Parallel Cable

How-to build a parallel cable and accepting the danger of a dead man’s cord. Understand this and its risks if you decide to build it! Best rule of thumb everything stays connected when any of the generators are running. Always shut down all generators before making connection changes.

Tap Clamp

I picked up a “almost” complete lot of machining tooling for a set of lathes.  One item that was missing was a clamp for the tapping head.  I reasoned out a quick idea of how it worked and what was missing and did a quick sketch in Fusion and produced a quick part without the outer filet.  I also drilled the corners so I wouldn’t need to broach the corners. Saying still holds, if you can’t find it, make it.



Making something better. Hacking Lawnmowers. Deck Shaft Disconnect.

Sometimes I get something I really like and discover a big flaw in it’s design. In the following case, my nice shiney new riding mower deck shaft had just given way again.  I believe this was the third failure.

The pot metal frame and weak steel direct shaft was a problem and after spending several hundred dollars over the past few years I decided to do something about it.  Off to the big shop.  After some quick layout in Fusion 360 and a quick 3d print of the housing for test fit, I started work on the shaft while the mill was cutting the housing.  I’ve gotten 2 complete mowings now before fall and it works great.  I was pressed for time on this but I did manage to snap a few photos of the new shaft and threading.

I also had to slightly modify a new tool holder I purchased as the ways were too tight for my liking so that took a bit of time to finish up.  Now I have a nice shiney new dedicated HSS cut off holder and a mower that won’t fail me.

As a benefit the deck has never ran smoother and of course within an hour of mowing I found a bend cable plow blade.  The new shaft disconnected like it should and no damage to the mower.





What’s Next in Ham Radio Rant

Just a quick video of what’s next in Ham radio and some projects I’ve been working on, as well as others, to get there.  Some highlights:

What’s Next…

  • MultiCodec – Codec2, AMBE…
  • Remote Standardized Head Unit / Retrofit
  • Less PC .. More Embedded
  • More modular
    • Easier to use and the possibility of installing station away from Radio.
  • DSP development in the hands of more people.
  • Older Designs get updates.
  • Powerful Tools getting more accessible
    • KiCad (New stable, RF Traces (Curved), Diff Pair Routing (USB, etc))
    • Inexpensive STM32 and other DSP platforms
    • Filter Creation and Simulation


An open source codec for compression is up and going (CODEC2).

AMBE is much easier to implement and get ahold of.

Remote heads are beginning to pop up commercially in the FlexRadio line.

More embedded projects/products including SM1000, FlexRadio head unit, and many many DStar node adaptors.

DMR radios have hit the market to warm up the digital voice market, many which are under $300 new.


Vermeer Flow Control Teardown – Fail

What in the heck is in these?

I’ve alway wondered what was inside these.  I’ll never find out because of the weatherproofing epoxy. The face LCD cover is milled and it hints of low volume production. These are used to control the flow of water to a horizontal direction drill (HDD). This Vermeer unit fits many different models of their drills.  This one was programmed for a 24×33 Vermeer.

Proof is in Vermeer Waterproofing

Wouxun KG-UV2D & KG-UV3D Fix – Flash Repair

Wouxun Flash Issue Background

Wouxun’s seem to either wear the flash chip out or are made with a bad batch of parts. Eventually all of them I’ve owned prior and everyone I know throws it in the trash. Below is a video of how to do the repair and its an easy fix. Wouxun used a very low write count part but there are better options as a direct replacement. The replacement part is a 24C64 found just about everywhere for under $1.   Please repair these when possible and if you are unable or unwilling, hand it over to a new ham or send to an old one to be repaired.

I recommend using a hot air station but it is possible to carefully cut leads with cutters for parts replacement.  When using cutters be sure to not rip any traces from the board.  Go very slow and use a good tool.  An alternative method is to heat and lift one lead a time. Mouser and Digikey both have alternatives for this part by searching for the 24C64.  Right now links to these parts are as follows:

DigiKey Search Results

Mouser Search Results

Wouxun Repair Video

GPSTM Nortel Trimble hack.

Background of the GPSTM Conversion

I have several Symmetricom time references all of which are large.  I really needed something compact for my newest bench area. I fumbled upon a Nortel card (GPSTM). It is basically a Trimble Thunderbolt. It has a few minor differences, utilizing the same software for configuration. It has a 10mhz output (SMB Connectors). I used a Symmetricom Distribution Amp to sync all my equipment on the bench (Signal Gen, HP 8935 Spectrum Analyzer, HP Frequency Counter). The only modification required is a 48V(24-48VDC) DC power supply. It is very straightforward to get one of these up and running as a repurposed GPSDO. It is small, compact, and won’t break the bank. I completed this project for well under $200.  A photo of the DC connection is below and a video as well.


Power Supply Modification

Nortel GPSTM Hack DC connection.
Nortel GPSTM DC Connection point.

CAT4240 swap to CAT4237 TFTA

On the first combostar I constructed the CAT4240 was easy to find. Now its a very hard part to source. Luckily the CAT4237 is almost a direct replacement.

GPS DO Nortel Unit

I’ve added another GPSDO to my bench.  This is a Nortel unit.  Its fairly straightforward as its a Thunderbolt device.  Requires 48VDC power.

IMG_0666 IMG_0665





OpenSource HT Part 2.

Prototype boards for testing the RF module along with provisions for a low pass filter have been sent off for manufacture.  I’m expecting to see these back in a few weeks.  In the meantime below are links to the Gerbers for the test board as well as Kicad Modules for making your own boards that use the DRA818V module.

DRV818V Image




Yosemite Encryption Paused Issue Macbook Pro

After trying many of the suggestions online about fixing this issue I figured out the quickest way to recover.

1. Do a unencrypted Time Machine Backup

2. Goto recovery mode and completely format the startup drive and set for normal (non encrypted) journaled file system.

3. Restore backup

Thats it the quickest way to resolve the issue without completely reinstalling.