One thing after another!

What is this? Missiles firing.

Oh, woe is me. More car troubles. First, my left front tyre on the Pug (Evie) is going flat and I’m getting a “Tyre deflated” warning in the dash. I don’t know why – it must be a slow puncture. I noticed it at the shops and it got me home OK, and it’s not actually flat, but …

OK, so I need to open the boot to change to the spare wheel (if it comes to that). But, I don’t know how it’s happened, the boot has closed and latched itself and I still can’t open it by the press button switch! That means I’m back where I started last week, having to squirm inside via the back seat. I’ll have a go myself this time. Maybe. Maybe it might have to be the RAC guy. I still need to get them out for a battery for the Honda-san.

That means out of three cars, I may not have a working one at the moment (one’s away on loan). I’ve got to sell two of them! Owning three cars is ridiculous when I rarely drive anyway.

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I’ve been on a shopping (groceries and beer) trip and as I was walking out to the car I heard a young boy singing:
Oooh, eee, ooh ah ah,
Ting tang, walla walla bing bang
Oooh eee, ooh ah ah
Ting tang walla walla bing bang.

Do you remember that song? There are more words, that I can’t remember at the moment, but I was struck by hearing it coming from a boy of about 10 years of age. I used to know that from the late 1950s, early 1960s, yet it’s still around. I wanted to stop and talk to him about it, to ask him if he knows the words, but I was too busy pushing the trolley. Amazing, that it’s still a current song.

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Speaking of “the olden days”, on the radio they’re asking what we used to have for sandwiches then. Quite a few of the callers listed white bread sandwiches with tomato and cheese, of course. I can clearly remember how the very ripe, red tomato used to go soggy in the sandwich, which I loved.

The cheese then was almost always Kraft processed cheese in a silver (aluminium) foil block, which I also liked a lot. I think you can still buy it but I’m not sure. Except when a bit of the foil got incorporated into the sandwich, sending shooting pains through my teeth when I bit on it. It was “farm cheese” because it didn’t need refrigeration, because fridges were not common or very small then.

The bread was invariably white because that was all we knew about then. If I had my way, I’d still be eating it, but we’re put off by the bad health stories these days. Then “brown bread” came in, but it was really just white bread with a brown colouring to trick us into thinking it had health benefits. It did taste a bit malty, but that was just the colouring.

The other fillings were polony (I haven’t had that in decades!), fish paste, tomato and lettuce, sardines and of course, Vegemite. With nice, salty butter. YUM! I prefer Master Foods Pro-mite these days, but Vegemite’s still good.

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I’m reading the current issue of Silicon Chip magazine at the moment (I highly recommend it), and the main article is the history of the transistor. I’ve mentioned before that it parallels my life, because both began in 1947. The first working transistor was patented in December 1947.

By the time I began my working life in 1966, the first commercially available transistors, available over the counter, were just coming into use. The germanium OC71 was the first I remember, costing about a dollar or so (decimal currency had just started that year, too). Most of our equipment at Channel 7 was still valves (glass bottle “finger warmers”) and it was hard to keep going. We were forever pulling valves for testing on an Avo Valve Tester, trying to interpret the meters and gauges. Do I pass this valve or do I throw it away? Boring job!

Anyway, I recommend another article this month: a mini spot welder. If you’ve ever pulled a NiCad or Li-Ion battery pack apart, you’ll know that the cells are all connected in parallel by thin strips of nickel-steel, spot welded onto the ends of the batteries. You can pull them apart, but you can’t usually do spot welding at home.

This article describes a capacitor discharge spot welder suitable for home building for this type of job. I think it’s a brilliant idea and if I wasn’t so close to the end of my life, I’d build it.

I might also build the Battery Zapper project from a few years ago. When a lead acid battery is allowed to go completely flat (as is happening to me too often!), lead sulfate accumulates on the plates, stopping the lead-acid process and preventing charging. This “Zapper” applies high voltage pulses which shake or “zap” the lead sulfate off the plates and allow it to resume charging.

The problem is that a kit of parts costs between $75 – $90 and I can’t see that I would get enough use out of it to justify this cost. If I were younger ….

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I need a battery automatic switch to automatically disconnect the battery when the voltage drops below a certain figure, e.g. 10V, to prevent this sulfation. I was going to suggest a Silicon Chip project, but I think I’ve found the ideal part.

I assume you put it in series with the positive lead. Around $60 … not cheap, but if it saves the cost of a $230 battery, it would be worthwhile. Hmmm.

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