What's New at 120studio.com

2019 April 11

Thursday eve.


New Gallery:  Canon Sureshot 90u.  With slide film.  There's also a review in there somewhere, but I have to add a couple things to it.

By the way, for film in general:  don't worry about minilab scanners and whether they'll be around.  You don't need a minilab to be able to scan film.  There are more film scanners on the market now than ever before.  (Easy off-the-shelf solutions include Epson flatbeds and the Plustek OpticFilm 135, to name just a couple.) 


A reader asks whether this power supply could be modified for 5 or 10 amps.  Short answer:  not really.  Adapting a power supply for that much current would require a complete rebuild.  Probably a larger transformer, plus a bunch of other stuff.  And by the time you got done with it, it would have been a better deal to buy a higher-amp power supply in the first place.

Here's a linear power supply that I haven't tried yet, but it can output up to 10 amps.  0 to 30 volts DC, and it even has the analog meters on the front.  It costs quite a bit more than the 1-amp supply, as you would expect. 

Here's another power supply that can do 10A at up to 30V, costs far less, but it doesn't have the analog panel meters. 

Finally, here's a TekPower that can go up to 5 amps, but it also has a USB power output (those other two don't).

2019 April 10


Electronics, Radio, Weather

Review:  Midland WR-120EZ NOAA Weather Radio.  Had I tried this radio earlier, maybe it wouldn't have been necessary to search so long for a decent WX radio.  Or would it?  See the review to find out.

2019 April 6

Saturday evening


New:  Applesauce Bread.  Just a simple adaptation of the banana bread recipe, this one is even easier to make. 

Recommended:  this measuring spoon set.  Low-cost, takes up very little space, highly useful. 

Dash = 1/8 tsp;  Pinch = 1/16th tsp;  Smidgen = 1/32 tsp.  Great for making test recipes.  Let's say you are working up a new one.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves or cayenne or something like that, and it could be a bit much.  But if you add 1/32 teaspoon at a time, it probably can't go too far wrong from any one step... so you still have something edible!

For a more comprehensive and versatile set, try this one.  Though it lacks the "smidgen" or 1/32 tsp size, it does have 1/16 tsp up through 1 Tbsp.  It also has the elusive 1/2 Tbsp and 1/3 tsp sizes.

2019 April 5


Electronics; Weather

The search for a good NOAA weather radio has not been an easy one.  This radio here was originally an ungainly design that looked like sort of an afterthought.  So I took it apart, kept part of it with the circuit boards on it, and made a wooden base for it.  Safe?  Well, this is an AC line-powered radio.  I have made sure that 120V-AC-carrying lines are nowhere available in the form of bare conductors, but this is still a "don't try this at home".

For me it's a good radio now, except that it doesn't show what station it's tuned into (use another radio to calibrate it).  Also, the weather radio function may not work anymore;  I haven't tested that since I took it apart.  At least it'll tune FM stations.

You don't need to mess with stuff like this;  just get a decent weather radio.  Not a 5-second weather blurb every half hour, but a real NOAA weather receiver.  Here's a radio that's supposed to be good. 

The NOAA WX band is in the VHF range, about 162 MHz.  So it's mostly line-of-sight, short-distance transmission.  But a good tuner can help clean up a signal into something more listenable. 

That Sangean doesn't have an external WX antenna jack, far as I know, but some weather radios do.  (Such as the Midland WR300.)  I haven't tried this base antenna or this one, but they're wideband receiving antennas.  Also try this link that should have some other brands as well.

Any decent antenna is going to need a mast and some coaxial cable to hook up the antenna to the radio.  (Lightning protection is a whole 'nother subject we won't get into here.)  DIY antennas can involve soldering, bolting, etc.  But if you just want to listen to the radio without any of that, the built-in antenna on a decent weather radio should be usable for many listeners.

UPDATE:  I just found this link: 3 element Yagi antenna for the Marine and NOAA bands.  These are handmade in USA by a ham radio enthusiast;  also check out this J-pole antenna.  And if they don't have any of those left, see what else that seller has.  For the time it would take you to mess around trying to build these yourself, getting the correct lengths and stuff for the frequencies... you could have the ready-made one shipped to your door. 

2019 April 4

Thursday eve.


A reader has a portable AM/FM radio with fading on both bands.  It even happens with new batteries.  The radio is on for a bit, then the sound fades out.  What causes this?

With a radio that has transistors and IC's, it really helps if you have the schematic.  It's possible to troubleshoot without one, but there's nothing better than having a schematic and a list of the expected voltages.  In that regard, electronics manufacturers have declined a long way since the 1940's.  A radio like that used more materials at the outset, but you'd never have to throw it away.  There are now people listening to radios that are literally 100 years old, because they were built well, built simply, and can be repaired. 

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