Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bits and Pieces

Just a couple of little things, none of them big enough to warrant a post.

Ever drop something, or misplace something, search like crazy and give up only to find that days or weeks later you find it exactly where you were looking?  I've come to think that the act of dropping something somehow creates superposed quantum states or superluminal motion.  I think what's happening is that the dropped object moves forward in time or into a parallel universe and we have to wait for the universe to catch up with it before we can see it.  I don't know why. 

I had a really great example of this, while putting one of my antennas back up after the storm.  This is a dual band vertical antenna by Cushcraft called the MA8040, for the 80 and 40 meter amateur bands.  Much like the electrical design of the antenna, I had planned a simple way to raise and lower the antenna for storms, and Cushcraft offered it as an option.  Imagine two pieces of angle aluminum about 1 1/2 inches on a side on either side of the antenna and a clamp between them to surround a short piece of antenna mounting pole.  Now add a bolt to pivot around at the bottom and another six inches above to lock it in place.  Both of these are stainless bolts 3/8 or 1/2", with insulating spacers on either side to keep the antenna centered.  Pull off the wingnut on the top and the antenna is free to pivot around the bottom bolt and lie down.

I can't recall the last time I took the antenna down, but we didn't have it for the big storms in '04.  When I was putting it back up, one of the wing nuts fell into the dirt immediately below the antenna.  A search followed, but I could never find that wingnut.  Yesterday, while raising the antenna, I looked down and there it was, exactly where it should have been, under the spot it was dropped from, which is the first place I looked.  Back then, I replaced it with a plain galvanized nut, but galvanized on stainless will rust away first and it was already corroded, so I replaced the nut with the one that had been designed for that spot.  It could be the nut went only a matter of hours into the future or it could have been in a parallel universe for years; I'll never know.  I've worked around that spot many times and never seen it.

On Friday morning, while the internet was down and we were waiting for the rain to let up, I spent time working on the details of how to build the back panel and breakout board mounting bracket for the CNC controller box.  Today, I cut one of the new cutouts, then tried to set up to do the next one but failed.  The Sherline just isn't big enough to handle the 16" back panel the way I planned.  While staring at the drawing and trying to figure out another way, I think I see how.  I wasn't able to try it, but I put together a CNC file to cut it.  Tomorrow, I'll continue and see if I can get the back panel finished.
The cutout for the breakout board interconnect. 

Batteries. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Almost two years ago, I mentioned we'd gotten a deal on one of those very portable car jump starters / battery banks.  Several months ago, I realized I had been leaving it in the car far too often and the Florida heat just isn't a good thing for batteries.  I found that it appears to be rather low in capacity.  Just running the battery down with the builtin flashlight and recharging hasn't helped, so I'm going to go for more desperate measures, and try to hit it with big current surges.  Regularly cycling your storage batteries is a good thing.  I'm also currently doing the same thing to the only NiCd pack I still have around here.    Rechargeable batteries require care and cycling techniques that depend on what kind of batteries they are. 


  1. When I "lose" things, only to find them after I've bought a replacement, I refer to it as "Quantum Weirdness".....

  2. The other day I was doing some airbrushing. When I started to clean up I couldn't find the lid to one paint bottle. I looked and looked...on the workbench, under the workbench, in drawers that I knew I hadn't opened, in boxes a good 5 or 6 feet away from the work bench, on the floor 10 feet from the workbench. I spent a good 20-30 minutes looking for that danged black plastic cap.

    Two days later I went down to my workbench to do more airbrushing and wondered what the white plastic cap on my workbench went to??? I was looking for 'black' and somehow managed to blot out the white plastic cap that was RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME THE WHOLE TIME!!!!

    I blame old age... :-)

  3. LCB's comment is right on the money. Very often the reason you can't find something is just because a different color that what you were searching for. There is another effect also: after looking at a thing on your bench often enough, it becomes an invisible part of the background. I have experienced searching for something desperately, giving up, only to have it literally come into focus in the center of the random direction I was looking.

    As for the stainless wingnut, SG, I think what happens is they roll under blades of grass, and unless you literally rake the area with your fingers they are invisible. Years later, the grass has changed, and the thing is no longer hidden.

    And yes, I think we all have these experiences, and no, I don't think it has to do with age because I've been doing it all my life. It has to do with fundamental brain damage :-)

    1. And I wanted to add: if the nut was 400-series stainless, you could have used a magnet. I find that generally works very well. (Of course, you get all the iron filings out of the ground, also.)

    2. In the case of the antenna, the area underneath it is kept grass and weed free. To the best of my ability. It was 80% bare sand the other day, and also the day I dropped the wingnut. (Mountain bikers refer to Florida as the sand state, rather than the sunshine state which is the chamber of commerce line).

      You guys are being too rational though. Where's the fun in saying "it was there but I didn't see it"? Or I'm having a "senior moment"? It's more fun to invoke the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics. Plus you get to mess with people who take it seriously.

  4. Next time you are out by the antenna would you check for a wing nut driver attachment for a power driver? Dropped one while putting up hurricane shutters. Looked then got the big magnet. No joy. Teleportation?
    I had a spare. BTDT

    1. Now that my wingnut blister has healed, I'd like find a socket or attachment for my electric driver. Would you have a product name or link or something?

    2. Of course your blister has healed.
      At Home Depot
      If you are not on the nut straight you might break off one of the wings. Thank goodness I had spare wingnuts.
      I will find the one I dropped as soon as I buy another spare.

    3. Thanks. I got one of those Gator sockets only to find it too small to grab across the wings.

  5. Dropping things.

    That theory does explain quite a bit. Although the theory does not quite explain why a launched AR-15 detent pin will never, ever, be found.

    Maybe the AR-15 detent pin enters a superposed quantum state, but does not return until the earth has moved away from the exact location where the pin was. If sometime in the future we find satellites with damage caused by detent pins, the theory may gain credence.

    1. I'd donate to a Kickstarter to check satellites for that damage.

  6. I thought I was the only one experiencing this.

    I have some 'varied' friends, so it's come up in conversations with physicists, engineers, psychologists, neurologists and even an opthamologist.

    Various theories, mechanisms and explanations have been touted (state, dimensional, situational, cognitive and perceptual, etc.) but after years of debate, the consensus opinion is ...

    ... that it's because I'm old.

    ... or it's the pictsies (I'm in Reiver country so all the mischievous 'little people' are vaguely Scotts in appearance, blue-skinned, red-haired and wearing kilts a la Pratchetts wee free men). So? Whenever I 'lose' some item, I sigh, apologise, then sample a single malt (sufficient so that I eventually 'accidentally' spill some 'as an offering' .. no really, honest), get up and ... usually trip and fall (or at the least stubb a toe/bang my head/nearly poke my eye out with) over the very thing I couldn't find.

    It never fails, try it.

  7. True story. So there I was ...

    I first noticed this strange phenomenon in my early teens. Being of a curious mind, I tested the theory that the objects in question were really disappearing.

    One fine summer's day, I was alone at home. I put the dog and cat out, then placed my ever-present ball cap on the center of the dining table. I then went back outside to do more chores.

    20 minutes or so later, I went back inside and looked at the table. No hat.

    That hat showed up again two years later. I found it one morning while I was making my bed. It was under my pillow. There hadn't been anything there ten minutes before, when I first awoke, and my parents weren't awake yet that morning.

    Lesson learned - when you drop or misplace something, no, it doesn't have to be somewhere.