GE Orion VCO adjustment / alignment for band changes

What you’ll need: Multimeter, dummy load, Orion programming software OrionVCOs(Programmer for Windows or the older DOS software), radio code files for the radio (used when programming; re-uploaded each time the flash memory fills up).

If you are moving the band split (and this is probably why you are here), you also need the SC or SC4 files.

Full instructions follow this silliness…

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The Westinghouse Prog Stom Ass’y, or Lost Arts in Electronics

IMAG2765…You read that right, the module has an ancient TYPO on it.

Today I was at the Miami-Dade County Store, and somewhere in the shelves of weird old broken network hardware and PCs that had been picked clean by creepy Jamaican exporters, this one bronze colored anodized aluminum mystery box peeked out at me. The thing just had a strange energy about it, I couldn’t really explain it.

This box has silently served hundreds of thousands of people on their way to work, to play, in good times and bad. But what is it? And what’s with the typo?

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Mac OS X is beating your hard drives to death. Here’s the fix.

You read that right.

Quick link to the fix before I get to my usual rambling: hdapm. Install it and it will automatically set itself to auto-start on each boot and disable the auto park feature for all your drives.

Under Linux you can also use the hdparm command. Please note that you still need to fix your Mac OS X system with hdapm though as it will by default reset the power management on each boot!!
hdparm -B 255 [device]
or, if that throws an error
hdparm -B 254 [device]

device is usually /dev/sda.

My usual rambling as to the background on this problem follows…. 🙂
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Bye now Florida.

Scottdemort won. After mostly destroying the state and its economy in his first term, he now has four more years to finish the job.


Funny how accurate this is for being over half a century old — South America does pretty much own at least most of South Florida.

See also


Interesting patterns in Miami-Dade County election results

As the Miami-Dade County election results trickle in, I noticed an interesting feature to the software used to display them on the website: if you click on Precincts Reporting, it will neatly give you a color map of which precincts voted towards that particular issue.

On a side note, Miami-Dade County is known for having really weird cultural boundaries for no particularly good reason. For an idea of just how strong this effect is, check out Culture Mapped and the Racial Dot Map (kinda coarser data, but you can see the sharp differences between black/white/Hispanic).

Here’s the result of just overlaying two of them: the race for state governor, and Amendment 2 on allowing medical use of marijuana.

Note how closely they correlate.

Also note that I did not observe the logical fourth condition shown ANYWHERE – a precinct preferring Charlie Crist but not medical use of marijuana.

The few bright green precincts left appear to be the results of missing data (I did this based mostly on the early voting+absentee ballot data!) and the tan areas are where the medical marijuana issue tied.

Oh yeah, as for why I call him Scottdemort, well, it was better than my other name for him: Dicksnot.


Replacement for the L603C

Cockus Blockus. :(

At left: The very common ULN2803; picture borrowed from Adafruit Industries, who sell them for $1.95 a pop.

The Harris Z16HD+ transmitter at work has a bunch of these STMicro L603C Darlington arrays all over in weird places where Harris decided to run things unnecessarily off the +50-60V PA power supplies.

Original part datasheet: L603C
he L603C’s max voltage is 90V.

The only replacement I have found so far that has a suitably high voltage rating: SG2823J. SG2800 series (SG2823)

It’s $65 a piece at Digi-Key!

At this point the question can be raised of “how much is that piece of equipment REALLY worth to you?”. If you need to replace an L603C that is used in a lower voltage application (voltages below 50V), the common, inexpensive ULN2803 is your chip! (See link above.) If you need that high voltage, though, prepare to open your wallet a bit wider than usual…

Why it all sucks

Microsoft Windows: it’s fragile and its innards are buried in obscurity and Mandelbugs. The networking stack likes to die for no reason.
Mac OS X: oh dear eris, Apple, what the ever living fuck?! You broke EVERYTHING on Mavericks. SMB defaults to a  protocol that’s known to run at dialup speeds for no good reason. System will not even touch a disk with a guid partition table with data corruption. (Linux is all like “hey, I see a checksum error. I’m reading your disk anyway, because this isn’t harmful. Here’s how to fix it. Would you like some coffee while you do this?”)
Linux: there’s no simple *click*, this folder is now shared. Configuration files have to be hand edited. Why?!
Marketron, Citrix MetaFrame: well no duh we’re having severe compatibility problems, marketron is running a citrix virtualization service (MetaFrame XP) which went end of life/support IN 2007!!! Well no shit new versions of the client won’t work right. OSaaS: obsolete software as a service.

Sorry, it’s been a long, tough week. Doesn’t help that I turn on the DMR radio and hear everyone but me up at the excellent Melbourne Hamfest and I’m just surrounded by broken computers and annoyance.


The new SunPass

FDOT ran a program a while back providing free replacements of the old battery powered SunPass transponders


with new units with no battery. Unfortunately they sent me a dud (in the sense that the serial number cannot be registered) with the only recourse being for me to buy a new one for $25.

I pried the useless brick apart to see what’s inside.


The unit is very difficult to open but is not weatherproof. This should be noted by anyone planning to use one on a motorcycle.


Here’s the board inside. Not much to it. What are the extra pins? No circuit traces are attached to them. The two between the two that are in use are not even soldered down. It’s reasonably possible that only two of the ic pins are used – this is not uncommon at all on passive RFID devices. Antenna, antenna ground.

Aluminum cookware

For years I’ve been hearing of the potential health risks of using aluminum based products due to the human body having trouble getting rid of aluminum that gets in there. I still use some aluminum cookware on occasion, and an aluminum based antiperspirant because, well, Florida (and I sincerely doubt the aluminum compound gets absorbed through the skin much).

The station’s coffee pot, however… I just put that into early retirement because dear eris what the hell is all of this


Massive corrosion, I’m a little afraid of it just blowing up!


Sludge melded with corrosion, it won’t come off.

Plonk. Time for a stainless moka pot.

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