Saturday, April 08, 2017

You gotta read this

I'm not sure I can describe it with any real justice, but it's about Israel and its defense, terrorism and one Israeli general's thoughts on our current issues in the West with Muslims. Seriously, go read it and draw what you will from it.

Putting up a 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna, Part 1

The weather is getting back to spring, and it's time to launch into some spring projects. One of many is the installation of a Cushcraft 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna. Now, if I were an real, old-fashioned ham, I'd build it. And I'd have nearly as much money in the parts and specialty tools as I'd have in just buying it. When I consider the hassle/swearing factor, plus trying to dial that sucker in, I'll just put up with being called an "equipment operator" and buy the antenna.

First however, you have plan the installation. My "ham shack" (actually, ham shack in waiting), which is actually nothing more than one end of 40-something feet of L-shaped workbench, resides in the basement of our house, which is a stereotypical brick ranch house. Fortunately, it's located on the end of the house where I plan on putting up the mast, which makes for nice short cable runs. This is important to minimize transmission and reception loss in the antenna cables themselves. Even using LMR-400 cable, which is a good low-loss cable, I want to keep my runs as short as possible.

The antenna itself, per the manual, can be installed on common thin wall antenna mast. Given that I need 20' of mast, that seems to be a bit on the light side to me, especially since it isn't easy to place stabilizers in the middle of the mast. This is due to the distance to the side of the house and lack of adequate structure to tie into. The brick makes for a nice house, but it's a veneer, not a structural element. The only place I can get to structure is at the peak of the roof.

I've decided to use some 1" galvanized pipe I have had lying around. Originally it was top rail on an old chain-link fence that dated from the early 1970s. Much heavier than what they use for top rail these days, it's far heavier than antenna mast. It will have one coupling somewhat above the middle of the mast, but that I can't help. It's better than the 5 joints I would have with the thin wall mast, which I can only get in 5' sections.

So, having purchased a Rohn antenna mast bracket to secure the upper end, I made sure I had the appropriate tools, lag screws, drill bits and so on on hand. There's nothing like being in the middle of a project and needing to make a run to the hardware store. Then it's up the ladder to mount the bracket.

This turned out to be far easier than I expected it to be. Son was available to assist by spotting in case his old man decided to increase the family net worth by pitching head first off the ladder, but all went relatively well. The only unexpected thing was that I didn't hit as much solid wood on the right side as I expected, and I hit more on the left. When I had scoped this out in the attic, it appeared that there was a gap between the last rafter and the fascia board, so I had prepared for that by getting a couple of 6" lag screws. I also took a couple of 2" screws with me, just in case I hit fascia backed by an unseen rafter. So what did I hit? Fascia backed by an unseen rafter on the right and something solid for the length of a 6" drill bit on the left. So I used one of each.

That sucker is up there.  The one thing I would like to see is the legs spread wider apart for some extra stability. I may try to find some sort of bracket to the middle of the mast after all, but for now we're going with what we have.

After this, I dropped a plumb line and marked the approximate center of the mast so we can dig the hole for it to sit in. I don't think I'll hit any utilities, but I think I'm going to call the "One Call" folks Monday. I know my cable comes through that area, but right next to the house, and I believe the power does further out.  Even though I'm hand digging, I'd hate to find either by accident.

Next up is threading the ends of the ex-top rail. I dig out my Dad's old pipe vise and his pipe threader and dies. I start looking for the 1" die and...there is no 1" die. I would have sworn he had dies from 1/8" up to 2", but nope, they stop at 3/4. Bad Language. At least I found a refurbed 1" die for that antique threader on eBay; theoretically it will be here before the end of next week. What was that I said about having to make a run to the hardware store in the middle of a project?

I can continue by drilling the hole through the wall of the house, but that one is going to take a while, and I would rather have a full day to do it, so I packed up and called it a day. More when I circle around to this next week.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Here we go, lobbing cruise missiles again

Last night, we launched what appears to be a pretty well designed and targeted attack on a Syrian government airbase. From all reports, it achieved all its goals, including minimal causalities on the ground. Today, the news and opinion is all over the place. I've seen just about everything you could imagine:

  • Trump was right
  • Trump was wrong
  • The Wall St. cabal has co-opted the Presidency
  • Now both parties and the media love him
  • Europe loves him
  • The Syrians love him
  • We just helped out ISIS
  • That we were suckered in by a false flag op
  • That is is long past time we "did something"
  • Why did we "do anything"--it's not our problem
  • The chemical weapons were actually in possession of the Syrian rebels and were accidentally hit by a Syrian government bomb
  • The neocons have won control of the White House
  • The Alt-Right has officially abandoned Trump
I'm probably leaving out a few, but I'm anxiously scanning for word on space alien involvement.

I also have a few not exactly rhetorical questions I'd like to toss out there for consideration:
  • How is this supposed to improve our relations with Russia?
  • Why in the world did you do this with the Chinese President in your own house? Please don't tell me you're trying to make a point about the South China Sea in some sort of bizarre twofer.
  • What happened to that campaign promise about keeping out of Syria?
  • Am I alone in seeing the Mideast as the Balkans of the 21st century? With the commemoration of the US entry into WWI ongoing, this one is especially frightening to me. Hell, I thought Mr. Wilson Trump was going to keep us out of foreign wars for a while.
I guess it was nice while it lasted. Now we're back to reality. At least we got Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Hopefully that will work out for us.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

I hate cleaning guns

My least favorite thing about shooting is cleaning my guns. While I do think that a gun needs to be cleaned after it's shot, I'll also tell you that I've at gotten over the whole "the patch needs to come out as clean as it goes in" thing. There needs to be balance in all things, and gun cleaning isn't immune as far as I'm concerned.

I've used a lot of gun cleaning products over the years, although I've hardly used them all. I haven't conducted any sort of exhaustive testing, though I have read a number of tests (and I think I've probably blogged a bit on some) and some of them have influenced the products I use. Just to have something to blog about today, I'm going to bore you with just how I've arrived at my process for gun cleaning and lubrication.

Back in the days of my youth, it was Hoppe's #9 and 3-in-1 oil. That's what my grandfather used, it's what my dad used and therefore it's what I used. Of course, they also knew they had to clean their hunting guns after they had sat in those old glass-doored gun cabinets over the summer or they would be gooey enough to be problematic in the woods. I still have a bottle of Hoppe's around that I use for the initial cleaning of any newly acquired "old" guns.

(Speaking of cleaning newly acquired "old" guns, sometimes harsh methods are called for. For me, that's Brakleen. (Yes, I can see some of you shuddering. Feel free.) Take the action out of the stock and make sure any plastic or polymer parts are removed. If you think it might be anything other than metal, remove it. Then spray away. Brakleen will remove everything except the metal.  Beware, that means every bit of protective lubrication as well, so relube the cleaned parts quickly. Of course, if you have a nice ultrasonic cleaner, that's preferable, but not everyone has one handy that will handle a barreled action.)

In the military, we were given a CLP, usually Break Free CLP. Yes, it's been around since shortly after dirt. And it works tolerably well if you do your part and don't shirk on the elbow grease. It also does a pretty good job on protecting. It never seemed to be so great at lubrication, which is why we all kept a bottle handy. If we were having problems with an M-16, our first action was to squirt a bunch in the ejection port. You'd be amazed how often that fixed the problem.

When I got my first couple of guns, I fell back to old habits, and then I actually read the instructions on the bottle of Hoppe's. Who knew it would work as a gun oil, if probably not a very good one. I mean, it said right there on the bottle to put it on a patch and push it through the bore to prevent rust after cleaning. Well heck, if it worked there, it ought to work for the rest of the gun. Thankfully I shot enough that I never had to find out just how much protection it did or didn't provide.

Eventually I had enough guns and shot them enough that I had to put some actual research into the subject. I was spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning guns and I simply needed a better way. Luckily, by then we had this Intertubz thing, and gun forums, and the know-it-alls who infest gun forums. You could ask a question and get all kinds of answers, some of them even knowledgeable. I went through an extended period of trying this and that cleaner and lube and learned a good bit along the way. I finally found some actual good advice and decently done test results, and I've wound up with the system I'm using today.

I'm going to outline it, but don't take it as something Moses brought down the mountain in his back pocket. It works for me. You may think it's the height of lubrication lunacy, and I'll be more than happy to listen to anyone who can cite actual evidence that shows a better way.

For cleaning, non-critical lubrication and protection from rust, I use Eezox. It was a little hard to get used to using, because a little goes a very long way--a quart lasts me a couple of years at this point. (I'm not shooting as much as I did at one time.) It cleans everything including lead residue, it has protected my guns from Demon Rust without failure and it doesn't smell horrible. I clean guns in the basement and so far I have not gotten a complaint from the upstairs inhabitants. You will find that, if you clean a new gun before shooting, clean up goes much easier.  An old gun will take several cleanings, the first couple of which you will get crap out of your barrel that you won't believe, but eventually it will also become easier to clean. For me, a normal cleaning will be a few strokes with a brush and Eezox, followed by alternating wet/dry patches, usually a dozen or so. At that point, it's as clean as it will reasonably get. Wipe the metal surfaces down very lightly with Eezox and let them dry.

For internal cleaning and lubrication of trigger assemblies, especially ones I don't want to take out of a gun or disassemble for some reason (or I'm in a hurry), I use Hornady One Shot. It cleans out the gunk and leaves a light dry lube behind. It also seems to be safe on synthetic parts, so you can use it in polymer guns.

On gun rails, I use grease. I'm not super picky on what grease, just as long as it is a reasonable quality grease. When you consider that the environment isn't some huge number of PSI or temperature in degrees, you really don't have to be super picky--the stuff isn't going to break down because of stress.  I suspect in a pinch you could use Vaseline. I've been using up some Mil-Tec that I got as a sample a long while back, and I'm just about out of it. When that runs out, I'm going to use a good quality, yet inexpensive, general purpose synthetic grease that I already have purchased for the purpose. I figure the 4 ounce tube will last me the rest of my life.

There are a few places on some guns (Hiya, Glock) that actually want oil. Plus ARs like to be wet, although I've successfully ran mine with dry lube only for a couple of hundred rounds at a time with no observable wear. So you'll want some oil on hand. Again, I believe you can go with anything that doesn't gum up over time--I suspect a quart of synthetic motor oil would work and last a lifetime. I can't tell you that for sure, since I just take what I need from whatever quart happens to be open at the time. I use Royal Purple, and so far, no problems with weights from 5W-20 - 10W-40. If you're picky, they do have an oil specifically for guns, if you can find it in a store. I never have. I have a needle oiler meant for machinery; I just fill that bad boy up and lube on.

Bear in mind it doesn't take a lot of lube to properly lube a gun, even an AR. Too many people over do the lubrication of their guns. Any lube that stays wet will attract dirt and the crap that comes out of the chamber after firing. None of this is good for moving parts. Keep an eye on the parts you're lubing, and if you aren't seeing wear, keep reducing the amount of lube until you see a little, then increase one step. That's how much lube you need. Don't sweat that tiny bit of wear you'll cause, it isn't going to hurt the performance of the gun; at least I've never noticed it causing a problem. You've probably just scuffed off some high spots.

So that's how I do it. Your mileage may vary, offer not good in Alaska and Hawaii, so on and so forth.

I suppose there are outlets for most everything

Body Armor Outlet

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

For the electronics geek in you

If there is no electronics geek in you, you may as well skip this post. If there is, ElectronicsNotes has a series on YouTube on oscilloscopes.

Something else to spend time on. :-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

About that light blogging lately

Yeah, totally my fault. I've been out enjoying the weather for a while. We took the RV RVing, I've been working in the yard, getting some things organized for some outdoor projects, sitting on the porch reading (hey, got to enjoy the retirement thing while it lasts) and talking to a former employer about some "casual" employment.

That last one, kiddies, is why you never do any of these, no matter how bad you think your job sucks. You may later determine that you were wrong. Burned bridges are bad things.

But this afternoon, my reading was inside on the Intertubz, in particularly SurvivalBlog. I really don't read the folks on my blogroll like I used to, so when I do, it tends to be a binge read sort of thing. Probably good thing I went by there, because I found several goodies for you.

Here's one for the Glock owners. Guns break, even Glocks. While some Glock owners think that is a heresy, I'm here to tell you that all guns break--it's in their nature as mechanical objects cursed with moving parts. It really doesn't matter what brand they are, they break.  Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training has a listing of all the parts that commonly break in Glocks. Spend a few bucks and buy spares.

One for the prepping folks is Wertz's Home Grown Beef and Pork. I've not tried this myself, but the review at Survivalblog is glowing. They have a variety pack that seems made for sampling. It's not cheap, but good meat is expensive and this stores for 15 years. It's also pre-cooked, which means in an emergency you won't need a lot of fuel to use it. Remember, this is prepping we're talking about, not grocery shopping.

Here's one that didn't come from Survivalblog, but something they linked lead me to it. The gun safety types are going to go apeshit over it and reasonably so--it could have been done without exposing anyone to risk. I wouldn't have done it this way, but the info is important. If you've never had the experience of having incoming rounds "thwip" past you, this is what it sounds like. Commit it to memory, because you may not realize the sound of gunfire is pointed at you. You will, however, hear the rounds pass you if they're still supersonic. It's a nasty little sound.

Meanwhile, in La La Land

Some of you may know that Kamala Harris, California'a Attorney General, has been running for Barbara Boxer's US Senate seat seemingly forever. You probably also know that the woman is rabidly anti-gun. You may even remember that she ginned up a questionable raid and seizure of a firearm collector's sizable collection a couple of years ago, and she got a lot of media attention for that.

You will not hear in the legacy media that she has lost in court and had had to hand all 541 guns back to their owner. This does not fit into the narrative and will be buried as deeply as possible.

But you will know it.