02 February 2016

New SandCastle update

Merle asks in the comments: "Will there be room for a shooting range? :)"

Ooooh...  I could have a re-loading station and a de-loading station!  Would that be awesome or what?  Merle - I like the way you think!

Good question..  I'll have to look into it.  There is certainly room.  It would have to be underground to make absolutely sure nothing leaves the property.  Probably could do a 25 yard range..  We'd have to look into all the legalities  & environmental requirements (sound absorption, ventilation, lead capture,  safety features, etc.)

And I vaguely recall reading a story about the mayor of the town had a range in his house.  So it must be possible.. But is it possible for someone without a title of "Mr. Mayor"?

Update on the offer to buy:  We walked away.

Poking around on Zillow, I found another property that is newer, bigger both in lot size & house size, further off the beaten path and only two miles away for about the same $$$ we'd be into the property we'd offered on..  Thus we decided even what we offered was too high.  We are a long way apart.

We looked at the larger property today.  I found a lot to like, but there are some real WTFs.
  • No hand rails on the stairs
  • The pictures on Zillow & MLS showed the outside of the house as a dark blue.  If it's a blue, it's the naviest Navy Blue I've ever seen.  Pretty much black.  Who paints a house black in the desert?
  • Updated (marble) kitchen & master bath, but still had the Tract-home tub/shower. 
  • The swimming pool was 50% larger than my first house (>1800 ft^2 surface).  Too Big!
  • The patio seemed built on a 12/15" thick pad and with an odd cut out in the tile as if there was going to be an outdoor kitchen.  Why?
In the end the SandCastle Queen said "no".  We are in no hurry to move so we can wait for the right deal.  Time is on our side.  We bought this house because it's close to the $DayJob.  Will we want to remain here after retirement?  Not here, but do we even want to live in the area?  I don't know.

31 January 2016

Update to my previous...

We just signed an offer to move the SandCastle.  Alas this property does not include the safe door in the previous post.  That one was under contract before I tripped across it so it was effectively off the market.  but now.. though I wasn't looking to move and now we've signed an offer.

*sigh*  This offer is likely only the opening salvo of a very long process... We are a long ways and a lot of work from laying head on pillow there.

Interesting... we are considering a move to a smaller house but on a larger property because the SCSon is soon to be moving on...  The sellers are looking to move to a smaller property with a larger house because they have two small boys (I'd guess 4 & 7).

The property is missing a huge "need": a garage.  It has a carport but I need to be able to take a car apart, close the door and leave everything without worrying about security.  There is room both on the property and budget to add one pronto.  And since we are building rather than buying, it _will_ be big enough to be considered a shop...  And I'm thinking a climate controlled "reloading room" would be in order.

We are looking forward to  jettisoning the HOA for a slice of freedom!  Wanna park in the yard? The "back 40" is currently unused.  And I can put it and the boat under a "tent-garage" to keep the sun off.  Personally I'm looking forward to putting up an Antenna mast.

Update 01Feb:  They countered (We expected that).  [Is the opening offer ever accepted?]  The counter offer price is lower but still waaay high.  At this point, I'm not sure I even want to counter.  Poking around on Zillow, I found another property (bigger both in land & square footage, newer, already has a garage and at an asking price around where we will end up at buying & upgrading this place, but without any of the hassle of doing the upgrades our self.  It would be a turn key deal.

I'm inclined to walk away or counter with a price lower than our original offer based on what I saw tonight.  This property has been on the market for several months.  It's far from perfect and right on the borderline of "workable" and "bulldoze" and build the house we want.  The only advantage is "closer to work".  But is the difference between a 3 mile commute and 5 mile commute significant?  I bet most worker bees would figuratively kill for a 5 mile commute!

Also, we are under no pressure to move.  We can afford to wait for the right deal. I don't think this is it.

14 January 2016

I wasn't planning to move...

But then I saw this (it's part of the house):
Now that's a safe!
Found in a Zillow property listing (no link to it to protect future buyer's privacy)...  And it's part of the property!  I don't imagine it opens to house anything like this, but still....  My phriendly purveyor of phine properties tells me this one is under contract, but offered to look for something similar.

So we started to outline our list of desires which quickly became a list of reasons we don't like this house, and dimensions of Robo Cop 2 directives (you have to scroll down a bit to see a partial RC2 list of directives).   So maybe it's time to move.  After all the SandCastle has been at this location for ~20 years which predates the SCSon.  The SandCastle is our family abode, not a fixed location.

Reason's for not moving - we've improved the property in a lot of ways we like...

In less than an hour said phine property purveyor has returned 27 qualifying MLS listings within 10 miles.

Oh crap... an hour ago moving wasn't on the table.  Now it may be inevitable...




13 January 2016

Car stereo update..

I opened up the radio box tonight...and was not particularly surprised.  The chassis felt mostly empty.  Here's proof:

That one board in the back of the case likely *is* the radio.  

The antenna hooks in via the silver connector on the right.  The radio chain is likely processed in the black IC with the red stripe probably meant to obscure the IC identification.  I didn't actually look that close.   The IC screwed to the back panel is probably the power amp (20W x 4 channels - The chassis connection acts as a heat sink).  And the teflon connector left is where DC  power comes in and audio signals exit.   The front panel likely has an MCU that interprets button pushes and updates the front panel display.  It also would likely control the radio IC on the main board.

I find it amusing that they felt the need to maintain the 1/2 DIN form factor when they could have saved money and put the boards back to back into only a 1/4 DINform factor or smaller.  Guessing it was too much trouble/not cost effective  to change the chassis tooling!

Hmmm... Now I'm wondering if the "old" radio doesn't have a similar power amp that might easily be replaced for a couple bucks.  AM reception would be worth the bet...  perhaps I should fit quick connectors for the relevant lines for easy swappage.  Stay tuned!

* I do not have any direct knowledge of this radio, save that of a buyer... opinions offered here are that of one in the industry and should not be relied upon with any weight greater than any given person begging on the corner of anytown Planet Earth.

12 January 2016

Rule #1 of owning a car....

... Never park it with anything inside that you cannot afford to lose!

I learned this lesson long ago when someone broke out a window and stole my (expensive to me then) stereo.  Ok lesson learned.  A vehicle is not secure, no matter what.  Never leave anything in a parked car that I can't afford to lose.  If someone want's it bad enough they'll pick it up with a fork lift and take it away on a semi trailer.

Fast forward to today... driving a rag-top.  That means anyone with a knife has "a key" to the car.  And if I lock the door, "forcing" the thief to use the knife to get access to the lock, it's my fault* for locking the door."

Fortunately the march of progress has meant car stereos are almost free.  The last one was $40, delivered.  I can afford to write off $40, just please don't cut the top!  That also has nearly eliminated the profit in stealing car stereos.

Many years later, that $40 radio seems to have developed a fault, I'm guessing in the amplifier section.  Probably an occupational hazard when most of the time it's being driven at 100%  (the scale goes to 42)...  These are the hazards of trying to listen to the radio with the top down at 70mph.

FF to today... The SCSon announced "nothing interesting the Fry's ad today".  "What about a car stereo?" I asked...

"Fifteen dollars"

I can do $15. lemme see.  SD card... aux input... It's almost perfect.  Also lamenting the $DayJob can't sell an empty cardboard box for that price.  OK, different problem, but still...   Shudder!

But you know what I don't get for $15?   AM reception!  The next least expensive model with AM was nearly 4x at $55.  But you know what?  I have several AM handheld radios and an aux cable..

It's also educational to understand the reason why FM is now easy and AM is hard (when it used to be the other way around).  It's because radios are now mostly digital while they used to be analog.  Analog AM radio was easy-peasy - diode detector stuff + amplifier while FM was harder.  Now it's digital, SDR (Software Defined Radio).  Plug an antenna to one end of the chip...  chip converts RF via an Analog to digital converter... detects the encoding... reconverts to audio and a speaker connects on the other side.  I'm guessing the lower frequencies of AM make it harder? (I don't actually know).

* I'm going to credit this thought to Ms. Tam, rather than claim it an original thought or research the actual link.

29 December 2015

November ePostal results (2nd edition)

Here is the first release of the November are the standings of the Winter ePostal match:
Last Updated 09Jan2016

Class Shooter Bangstick score Targets Hit
Rimfire Pistol, Iron sights


Mike B S&W 617 8 8 free parking

Billll Ruger Mk I 8 8 free parking

True Blue Sam Ruger .22/45 7 6 Free Parking + 1 Steering Wheel

True Blue Sam Ruger Mk III 6 5 Free Parking + 1 Steering Wheel

Ed Hibbard Ruger Mk III .22/45 5 2 Free parking + 2 Steering Wheels + 1 Driver's License 8F

True Blue Sam Ruger Single Six 4 4 Steering Wheels + 1 Yield – 1 citation

Matthew Pond Ruger Mk III .22/45 4 2 Free parking + Stop Sign + Steering Wheel

danno Ruger Single Six 1 1 Stop, 11 yards

Mr. CCBCC Ruger Single Six 0 1 Yield + 1 Driver's License – 2 citations, 11 yards

Mr. CCBCC Ruger .22/45 -1 1 Free Parking – 2 citations, 11 yards

danno Ruger .22/45 -1 -1 collision warning, 11 yards





Rimfire Pistol, magnified optic sights


True Blue Sam TC .22LR scope 7 7 Steering Wheels










Rimfire Rifle, Magnified Optic sights


Billll Marlin 795, 3x sight 7 7 Free Parking

Ed Hibbard Savage Mk II, 3-9x sight 7 4 Free Parking + 2 Steering Wheels + 1 stop. 8 degrees F

Matthew Pond Savage Mk II, 3-9x sight 3 Free Parking + Yield + Steering Wheel





Center Fire Pistol, Iron sights


Billll CZ v82 6 6 Free Parking

Billll Glock 22 6 6 Free Parking

Mr. CCBCC Hi Power 2 1 Yield + 1 Driver's License, 11 yards

danno Hi Power 1 1 Stop, 11 yards

There was some confusion on the scoring - hits on the bold lines of the parking spot score as a miss (0), not a "no-shoot" (-1).  Also the sign posts and grass sprigs are part of the target at the top of the post.  The intent here was to add additional scoring area.  (Except on the collision no shoot, the post and grass enlarge that no-shoot (-1).  Sorry for the confusion.  If there is any question in the interpretation of the rules, please ask!

This match is not over!  This is only the first edition results.  I will continue to accept entries until the next match is posted around the end of February/beginning of March.  Also, do not limit yourself to the above classes.  Shoot it however you want and if it doesn't fit the above classes, I will add classes as necessary.

Maybe we SandCastle residents can improve our negative scores.


26 December 2015

New PC...

Not for me, but the SCSon.   He received a new computer game for Christmas and quickly found his PC wouldn't run it as it needed 2x the RAM he had installed.  Quick research showed the DDR2 RAM he uses has fallen from favor and is getting more expensive.  Another 4GB would cost about $150.

Further research showed his processor & Mobo were really old so it really wasn't worth upgrading.

So instead we jacked up the Hard Drive & Case and slid a new CPU + MoBo + RAM underneath.  Fry's had a deal for an AMD FX6600 + MSI 970-G43 MoBo for $109 (After rebates & discounts).  Another $70 brought 16GB RAM.  That meant we could upgrade him several hardware generations for barely more than the cost of the additional RAM into the old system.  That's the way this business works.  Sometimes you just have to jettison the old.

That and about 6 hours of reloading /upgrading to Win10 64bit and mucho frustration, he is now upgraded.  At one point he came to me for help.  I had to beg off "I'm sorry - you are the leading expert in this family on this topic.  You upgraded my netbook and mom's laptop.  You have the experience.  I cannot help."  (besides I was reloading and not enjoying the interruption)  He understood but wasn't very happy about it.  30 mins later he was frustrated to the point of walking away.  Another 30 later, he was successful.  Hopefully the "don't give up" lesson is reinforced.

BTW, the timing here is good as he has the time to apply on the problem, and the motivation to succeed.

And from my experience, 6 hours is about on par to bring up a new system by the time the hardware is installed, drivers installed, OS installed and brought up to date with updates, adding a virus scanner, etc.

And my turn in the barrel is coming..  I run most everything on a Linux box built from leftovers in the junk box.  There is an Win7 machine adjacent for stuff that just runs on Windows (AMD Phenom 8450 triple core, 2.10 GHz).  It too is becoming dated even running Win7.  But I don't really want to upgrade to Win10 until updated hardware is in place.

I'm not very happy that every family needs a resident IT "guy".  But we seem to be there.  And I'm ecstatic the SCSon is stepping up!