Archive for category Oddities

Ice Jewelry

We spotted this assortment of jewelry gleaming along Clove Creek:

Ice jewelry - overview
Ice jewelry – overview

A closer look at a necklace:

Ice jewelry - detail 1
Ice jewelry – detail 1

And the brooch:

Ice jewelry - detail 2
Ice jewelry – detail 2

The water level has been dropping for several days as the air temperature went from tolerably cold to well below freezing.

It’s better in person; I couldn’t get close enough to avoid using the Pixel’s digital zoom, so the images have more gritty texture than you’d expect.


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DMM Probes

After the Great DMM Probe Debacle, I picked up similar-but-different set of cheap probes and clip leads.

The needle-tip probes carry a 20 A current rating:

No-Name DMM probes - needle tip - 20 A
No-Name DMM probes – needle tip – 20 A

If you look out along the wire, though, you’ll find a 10 A rating:

No-Name DMM probes - needle tip - 10 A wires
No-Name DMM probes – needle tip – 10 A wires

Now, even though 20 AWG wire in silicone may carry a 17 A spec, the corresponding 200 °C temperature seems excessive for a test probe. Limiting the current to 10 A would reduce the power dissipation by two thirds, which should limit the temperature rise. Whether the wire actually contains 20 AWG of actual copper strands remains an open question.

The kit also had banana plug / test hooks with no particular rating, although the wire allegedly has 16 AWG conductors:

DMM Clip Leads - 16 AWG
DMM Clip Leads – 16 AWG

The banana plug / alligator clip combo claims 30 A, also with 16 AWG conductors. Who knows? It could be true.

For comparison, the Siglent SDM3045 DMM came with these probes:

Siglent DMM probes - 10 A
Siglent DMM probes – 10 A

The probes carry a 10 A rating and, although the wires aren’t branded, I’ll assume they have good-enough QC to ensure the copper matches the claims. The production values seem a bit higher, too, even if they bear a striking resemblance to the cheap probes.

And, for reference, the probes with the cold solder joint also claim 20 A:

No-Name DMM probes - 20 A
No-Name DMM probes – 20 A

Wouldn’t trust any of ’em for more than a few amps, tops …


So(l)der Wick Variations

In the process of sorting out the Small Box o’ Soldering Tools, this well-used treasure emerged:

Soder-Wick - Original - Size 2
Soder-Wick – Original – Size 2

Yeah, the Genuine Article. Note the spelling and hyphenation: “Soder-Wick” is a both Registered Trademark® and patented.

Of course, the patent having long expired, there exist knockoffs with slightly different spelling:

Solder Wick - Knockoff - Size 2mm
Solder Wick – Knockoff – Size 2mm

And labeling:

Solder Wick - Knockoff - Size Good
Solder Wick – Knockoff – Size Good

“Size Good”. I like that. “Made in Taiwan”, though, suggests it’s been in my collection for quite a while.

Despite the fact they’re all supposed to be coated with flux, I generally run a flux pen over whatever length I’m using, because it’s the only way to be sure.


Encrypted Email: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So this arrived from an email address similar to, yet not quite the same as, the URL of a physician’s office where I had an appointment a few days hence:

Encrypted Email Message
Encrypted Email Message

My email client is set to prefer plain text, disallow remote content, and not open attachments, so that’s as far as it got. Donning asbestos work gloves and face mask, I pried open the message and its attached HTML file with the appropriate tools and found, as expected, scripts doing who-know-what.

Called the office and, also as expected, was told my appointment time had been changed.

Showed up, mentioned it to the doctor, and was told the office must check off many boxes to demonstrate its HIPAA compliance.

Bottom line: HIPAA now requires patients (a.k.a., us) to open random attachments from random senders, all in the name of privacy.

Banks do that, too.


Tea Strainer: Tare Weight

Being a responsible consumer, I carefully measure my daily green tea dosage. A laser-cut stainless steel strainer and silicone steam cap recently arrived, with a most auspicious tare weight:

Tea Strainer - 80.88 g
Tea Strainer – 80.88 g

Before my Genuine IBM 5160 PC XT with an 8088 CPU, I scratch-built a Z80 “personal computer” and wrote a primitive multitasking OS. Plenty of electrons have flowed through the transistors since those days.

A great way to start the day; ya can’t make this stuff up!


Hawk vs. Squirrel

Judging from the squirrel tracks on both sides of the scuffle, the squirrel lived to tell the tale:

Hawk vs. Squirrel - snow tracks
Hawk vs. Squirrel – snow tracks

I think the squirrel came in from the right, the hawk stooped from a pine tree on the left and missed the catch, whereupon the squirrel departed leftward as fast as its little paws could go.

Surely a hair-raising encounter!


Minilathe MT3 Spindle Collet Fitting

I’ve used the LMS set of inch-size MT3 spindle collets on occasion, but releasing them required an unseemly amount of drawbar battering. It recently occurred to me to check their fit in the spindle taper:

Minilathe - MT3 collet - taper test

Minilathe – MT3 collet – taper test


The only place they touch the spindle is right around the base, so it’s no wonder they clamp poorly and release grudgingly. I tried several others with the same result.

Cross-checking shows a much closer fit along the entire length of the dead center, so it’s not the spindle’s fault:

Minilathe - Dead Center - MT3 taper check

Minilathe – Dead Center – MT3 taper check

Stipulated: we’re not talking toolroom precision here

I set the collets on centers:

Minilathe - MT3 collet - drive setup

Minilathe – MT3 collet – drive setup

And proceeded to file away the offending section to move the clamping force closer to the business end of the collet:

Minilathe - MT3 collet - filed result

Minilathe – MT3 collet – filed result

I did the small collets, the ones I’m most likely to need, and left the big ones for another rainy day.

They don’t have much clamping range and seem good only for exact-inch-size rods.

I should lay in a stock of ER16 and maybe ER32 collets for small stuff.