Archive for October 2008

FORD

October 22, 2008

Lordy, lordy, seems that Ford has more than just financial problems.

Appears that they have used faulty valve stems on the tires of their new cars. So the tires don’t stay inflated for long. Wonder what other parts they have failed to test. You can’t build a car just from valve stems.

They got these defective valve stems from China. Guess they figured they could trust the Chinese. That makes me wonder if we can trust Ford. What with their history of screw ups, the valve stem problem is just ‘business as usual’.

Remember the pintos that were famous for transforming themselves into fireballs upon being rear ended? They grew up to become crown victorias with the same problem.

Then I recall the explorers turning turtle at times. Ford blamed that on the tire manufacturer. Never mind that the tire manufacturers tires performed properly on other vehicles.

Now Ford may very well be innocent in the cause of these unfortunate events. They may very well be victims, but the only sure way I know of not becoming a victim of an unfortunate Ford event is not to own, rent, or drive a Ford. And I don’t. My Toyota is not at all infested with the evil demons that seem to haunt Ford products.

You don’t suppose that I am the only automobile owner that avoids Ford? If other prospective customers are also turned off by Ford, maybe that is why they are having economic problems.

Sometimes it is not a case of not being able to find a job, it is more a case of not finding an employer dumb enough to hire you.

The same can be said for automobile customers.

Cost becomes more of a side issue when the automobile you are considering has the potential to kill you because of faulty equipment or parts.

Heathkit AR-3 communications receiver

October 2, 2008

I have been attracted to this radio ever since they first came out but I never actually bought one. I either did not have the money and then, later, did not need it because I had something much better.

Recently I traded a 4-125 tube for an AR-3 in as-is non-working condition.

When the radio arrived parcel post in a Mr. Coffee box I expected the worst but the damage was not too bad. The radio had been shipped loose in the box inserted loose in its wooden case. The case was broken and the metal mounting tab that secured the speaker was broken off the speaker frame.

No problem on the case. It was wood and a little glue and clamping got that back into like new condition. The speaker bracket was originally spot welded to the speaker frame. This had broken before and been repaired with epoxy, J B weld to be exact. Well it did not hold up to the shipping stress. Guess loose peanuts and a lose radio in a Mr. Coffee box was not the best way to treat this thing.

Instead of trying to glue the bracket back on, I decided to solder it. After thoroughly tinning both the frame and the bracket I was able to effect a good repair.

I had been warned that the radio did not have any knobs. After searching the junk box and other places I finally found enough knobs for the controls. Powered it up. Nothing. Dead radio except for the front panel lights. Turns out the 2.7k 2w resistor in the power supply filter section was open. It did not look open but it was discontinuous. Replaced it and and the audio section seemed to work okay but the radio still did not play.

The mixer did not work. The 12BE6 had B+ on the cathode as well as the plate. Found two problems. First, the antenna coil in the cathode of the mixer was open. No problem, a little heat and some solder fixed that. Second, the ground return of the mixer oscillator coil was going to B+ instead of going to ground. Noticed that the mixer tube socket was a molded plastic socket while all the rest of the sockets had been of the cheap fiber type. I suspected that the mixer socket had been replaced and mis-wired. Mixer worked fine after I soldered the ground return back to ground.

I do not regret not having this receiver as a novice. It is a minimal and clever design but no match for the Hallicrafters S-85 I ended up with as a novice.

The AR-3 is very good on the broadcast band. Not so great on the shortwave bands. It is better than a regen but a single 455khz IF amp with no RF amp preceding the mixer makes for low sensitivity and selectivity. The first audio amp doubles as the BFO for CW and SSB. That is a clever solution but stability is not good enough for easy and reliable use on SSB. It does okay on CW.

It could benefit from the addition of a Q-multiplier and the mixer plate is brought out to a phono jack for this purpose. Power for accessories like a Q-multiplier is brought out to an octal socket on the rear apron. Use of the mixer plate connection would be safer with the addition of a series capacitor to keep the B+ voltage off the phono jack.

Also, the primary of the transformer is not fused. The addition of a fuse and holder would add some safety.

It is doubtful that I will actually use this radio to do any hamming, but, paired with my old DX-35, the set will remind me of how things used to be.