Hacker Public Radio

Your ideas, projects, opinions - podcasted.

New episodes Monday through Friday.


HPR4153: Steading as she goes!

Hosted by Dave Morriss on 2024-07-03 00:00:00
Download or Listen

Introduction

Hosts:

We recorded this on Sunday May 26th 2024. We were pleased to discover that our favourite pub where we've had lunch in the past, The Steading, had not closed permanently following the sale of the premises. That's where we met for lunch.

Thus the show title: The Steading is now back on course1.

After lunch we as usual adjourned to Dave's Citroen car (Studio C) in the car park, and recorded a chat.

Topics discussed

  • YouTube channel recommendations (Dave)

    1. AT Restoration: Ahti is a furniture restorer from Estonia. The episodes contain no speech, just ambient sounds, but there is English text on-screen at times. Music is included for the final part where the item is shown in its before and after states. Shows some amazing skill in repairing all kinds of old furniture as well as some new builds.

    1. Phil Vandelay: The channel is about designing and building cargo bikes, machines, furniture and more. The earlier shows contain no speech, just on-screen explanations. In later episodes there is more description and explanation. The level of engineering is high, and the host develops his metalworking workshop and skills as episodes progress.

    1. Ocean Conservation Namibia: A Namibia-based team rescuing Cape fur seals from entanglements in marine garbage. The seals are mainly on the beach and the team runs to intercept the ones they spot with garbage around them. They net them and remove whatever they have picked up and release the seals. In many cases the fishing line, net, or other junk has cut deeply into the seal's skin and muscle, and would kill them if not removed. Episodes are usually daily and mostly short.
    • Digressions!
      • Talking about varnishes for wood. Dave forgot the name of the varnish-like finish shellac, which is used in the technique of French Polishing.
      • Woodwork:
        • MrX made a stand for his music keyboard
        • Dave made an unfashionable chair in the 1970s (similar in design and colour to the outer chairs in the image)
          Modular chairs
          Image copyright © https://www.design-market.co

      • Grass-cutting, etc:
        • Repairing a strimmer (aka string trimmer)
      • Plastics:
        • Bakelite was one of the earliest plastics
        • Dave owns a valve radio which has a Bakelite case
  • Computers owned over time (MrX)

    • Sinclair ZX Spectrum:
    • Dragon 32:
      • Released in 1982
      • 6809 (8-bit) CPU
      • Better keyboard
      • Centronics parallel (printer port)
        • MrX had a pen plotter at one point, possibly an Epson
        • Dave mentioned that he had used flat-bed pen plotters and large drum plotters at work
      • The Dragon 32 was used for Packet Radio
        • This is a data transfer protocol based on X.25 (called AX.25, Amateur X.25)
    • Commodore Amiga:
      • Released in 1985
      • Motorola 68000 series CPU, 16-bit and 32-bit models
      • AmigaOS operating system; blitter
      • AX.25 software
    • Intel i386 PC
      • Running Windows 3.1
      • PK232-MBX packet radio modem (manual)
        • The PK232-MBX was similar to a telephone modem except it connected to radio.
        • The MBX was a super deluxe model that had some extra features. It could do all the same things that the basic PK232 could do (see details from manual linked above) plus it could also do WeFax (WeatherFAX) and had a basic Packet-Radio mailbox facility.
        • The two models could deal with morse code, Baudot and ASCII RadioTeletype (RTTY), AMTOR (Amateur Teleprinting Over Radio) and Packet-Radio, using in-built software.
        • The connected radio would switch between transmit and receive to send and acknowledge packets of information.
        • The computer was connected by serial RS232 connection. Basic commands were used to control the modem. Any computer capable of talking over RS232 could be used.
    • Currently a Dell Optiplex ex business machine:
      • 4GB of RAM and a Pentium Dual-Core E5500 CPU clocked at 2.8 GHz
      • Ubuntu 18 LTS & Windows 7, needed in order to reprogram Amateur radios

    • Digressions:
      • Dave remembered seeing an example of the Nascom 1 at Lancaster University around 1978/79. This was a single board computer kit using the Z80 CPU.
      • Comparing a VAX "mainframe" with a Raspberry Pi:
        • Not simple!
        • From 1987 Dave managed two clustered VAX 8700s. These were single CPU systems with a 32-bit word length and up to 512MB of memory.
        • It's possible for a Raspberry Pi to emulate a VAX running the VMS operating system, though Dave has no direct experience.
        • With the RPi 4 and 5 there's a good chance that performance compared to an actual VAX might be similar if not better. This is just guesswork however!
      • Apollo Guidance Computer:
        • MrX discusses the development of these systems at NASA, which had to be small and very reliable.
          • Use of integrated circuits which were very expensive and variable in quality.
          • Use of rejected chips in other projects so they were not wasted.
      • Finding information about things from the 1970s and 1980s:
        • It's surprisingly hard to find much about technology, IT and so forth from that era. Information that existed on paper, in newspapers and magazines from that time has apparently never been recorded and made searchable.
      • Burroughs Corporation:
        • Dave worked on a Burroughs B6930 mainframe in the early 1980s at Heriot-Watt University.
        • The Burroughs terminals model TD830 ran on two coaxial cables to connect to the mainframe and to each other in a sort of "bus" configuration.
      • Dave has a new PC waiting to be set up. It's from TUXEDO Computers in Germany.
        • It's an AMD Ryzen 7000
      • Raspberry Pi development:
        • MrX is having difficulty finding time to work on his.
        • Dave has set up two RPi 4B systems which boot off USB SSDs, one Pi running Pi-Hole. He has further plans for both, but hasn't done much yet.
        • Dave also has a RPi 5 with a Pimoroni card under it holding a 500GB NVME M.2 card. The plan is to boot it off this disk, but it needs a case and a means of mounting to a DIN rail.
      • Various computer problems:
        • Dave had problems after an upgrade of Debian Testing on his main desktop, since the previous of these shows. The upgrade left the PC in an unusable state with no desktop manager, and it took some time to repair it (installing and configuring from the console).
        • MrX upgraded a Raspberry Pi successfully, then applied another upgrade which failed. He was able to revert to the previous state luckily, but still has an out of date OS.
        • Dave's laptop running KDE Neon failed due to not upgrading it frequently enough, so in this case, since it had nothing of importance on it, he just installed Linux Mint over the top of it!
        • MrX still has a usable Eee PC, though the battery has failed. This is the model 700.
        • Dave also has a Eee PC, the 1000 model, but hasn't used it for a while.

HPR Comments


Henrik Hemrin says: Teleprinter

RE: hpr4153::2024-07-03 Steading as she goes! by Dave Morriss
01:00:01 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
When you talked about your old computers and usage for amateur radio, I remembered I read in a DX-ing magazine about building an own teleprinter with the short wave radio (or whatever wavelength they operated on) plus a computer; getting news from the international news bureaus directly to me. I never tried myself, but I remember it as a cool project.

MrX says: Re Teleprinter

RE: hpr4153::2024-07-03 Steading as she goes! by Dave Morriss
01:00:01 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
Hi Henrik, thanks for the nice comment. Yep that project does sound cool. It also sounds a bit complex! I’ve seen a few mechanical teleprinters being sold at the odd junk sale I think the price was five UK pounds. From memory I think it was still there at the end of the night. It was very large and I doubt anybody would be able to lift it and get it into there car. How things have changed.

MrX says: Re Wood Finishing

RE: hpr4153::2024-07-03 Steading as she goes! by Dave Morriss
01:00:01 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
Hi Trey thank you so much for the great tip. This is something I never knew existed and will defiantly keep in mind. The product looks incredible unfortunately the same can’t be said for my rather cheap and battered table. It’s interesting that the man in the video talks about the reformulation of products as we recently noticed that our bars of soap now melt away leaving a mess everywhere!

Trey says: Wood finishing

RE: hpr4153::2024-07-03 Steading as she goes! by Dave Morriss
01:00:01 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
I just watched this video a few days ago, about an amazing very hard finish. It is pricey, but may be perfect for your tabletop

https://youtu.be/HiJdtJeO0JQ?si=3RHdhUIXXiqRsGjb

Mastodon Comments



More Information...


Copyright Information

Unless otherwise stated, our shows are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license.

The HPR Website Design is released to the Public Domain.