Gardening, crystal growth, dams, transmitting on HF again.

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Trying to go forward through time as fast as possible.

It's been a while. For those of you coming from the far future (hopefully is hasn't gotten worse) the gap in posts was because I was trying to sleep my way through the beginning of the pandemic. But life goes on and there are only so many hard scifi books to read. I've just been trying to go forward without making memories so it'll seem to pass by quickly. But since I'm still only shopping once per month (since Feb) that makes doing technical projects on a whim harder but not impossible.

1. Squirrels are the enemy.

Lately I'm working on a few things. First and foremost is what everyone else is doing: gardening. Gardening sure is fun. Except for the squirrels. I can plant a seedling, cover it with chicken wire for a month, remove the chicken wire, and the next day the now established plant gets dug up. The squirrels have been trained by the neighbor feeding them for 20 years. They think all bare dirt is just some other squirrel's hiding spot. So, after losing about 40% of my garden I caved and bought a trap. So far I've caught 3 of the little tree rats. I've been relocated them 10mi east out of town. It seems to be helping. You can't get rid of squirrels but I can at least get rid of these trained ninja plant assassin squirrels and trade in for some new ones that don't suck.

2. Excess crystalization driving pressure is the enemy.

My second project have been making little PID temp controlled water baths and stirrer to grow large single crystal KDP (Potassium dihydrogen phosphate) and TGS (Triglycine Sulfate crystals). My first efforts with very slow evaporation being the only driving force worked well for a while, but then crystals started forming on the bottom of the containers. So I started pouring the solution into new jars every day. Then eventually the saturation would get too high and dendritic forms would appear and cloudy main crystals. So I started over but this time I add a few ml of clean water every night that I change the jar. So far this is working well to make large clear single crystals. Once I have a few a cm or so wide perpendicular to their optical axis it'll be time to try using them as seeds to grow large boules.

The above crystal was the seed I started with. The crystal now is almost too large to fit in the quart mason jar. I'm mostly making the KDP for practice without having to waste my previous synthesized TGS but in the end it might be fun to try two-photon harmonic upconversion with them. The purpose for the TGS crystals is pyroeletric acceleration. Although making a simple bolometer might be fun too.

3. Flow is the enemy.

At one point I started going out and making random dams across local rivers. That was a nice way to get away from everyone else but still exercise.

4. Routing cables and coaxial cable cost is the enemy.

Just this evening I cleaned up and reconnected all my HF (1-30 MHz) radio transceiver but removed the manual tuner and the 1500w amp from the chain. I threw together the most janky and simple of all possible dipoles using an F-connector with no balun, and the two wires connected to it were each dumpster dive finds made of multiple sections soldered together. In the end each half of the dipole was about 20ft (6.3m). Not a lot to work with. But it's about all that I could fit up into my maple tree using the slingshot/fishing line method without getting close to powerlines or making it obvious. The other half I ran along my house and off to the disconnected garage. Total parts costs was about $5 (no including the $10 zebco fishing reel and $10 slingshot).

My Kenwood TS-450S with it's basic auto-tuner seemed to be able to match it over a pretty good range from 3.8 MHz up to 28 MHz. I'm sure it wasn't actually radiating that well but I did manage to make contact on 80m with a guy down in florida with voice. A good afternoon project.

But that was just checking everything still worked. My next project will be a 3m diameter 4" wide aluminum flashing magnetic loop antenna attached to the inside of the back of the garage. I plan to just let the flashing overlap 9 inches or so with transparency sheet between to the ~200 pF needed for ~3.975 MHZ I want. That should be just under the near vertical incidence scattering edge and cover a nice 100-600 mile donut around me to try mesh stuff. But that's a story for another day.

5. We have always been at war with headphone cables.

As per usual, my headphones started going flaky on one side. Too much shock or torque or bending stress. After 3 previous repairs, each lasting a few years but shortening the cord, I decided to bite the bullet and replace the cord entirely. I cut a long male to male extension in half for the purpose and this final cord is about 5m long. I can now scoot around in my chair with impunity. No cord pulling. It sounds the same.

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