If the poorly designed lamp goes bad, all it not lost my friend. Unplug the lamp first. The lampshade has plastic material that will easily peel off if you try. Try using a pair of hand pruners and maybe a pair of needle-nosed pliars. You’ll find some wire in there. Believe it or not, you have a police scanner antenna in your hands! The lampshade will serve as an antenna.

Some lampshades have an almost perfect discone shape, while others have a loop shape. Either will work fine. So you lost a cheap lamp because of a cheap switch, but now you have a scanner antenna that works fabulous. Discone or loop, we’ll take it as we get it.

This isn’t all of the good news though. The lamp that went bad will have a cord that plugged into the electric socket. Again, make sure the cord is unplugged from the socket. Then, cut that cord from the the lamp.

You now have another police scanner antenna. All you need is an adapter; more precisely the RCA Matching Transformer. Another option: 75 to 300 Ohm UHF/VHF Matching Transformer.

So there you have it. One bad lamp makes two scanner antennas.

I now need a new lamp. Oh well.

Setting up Chromecast is a simple process for the most part, and the reward is worth it. Just follow along with my guide and you’ll get your Chromecast going. If you have trouble with setup you can leave a comment and I will do what I can to help.

Note: Google will only let you use Chromecast with its Chrome browser, so make sure that you have it installed on your computer before you begin. If not, you can download it from google.com/chrome.

It’s also necessary that your computer has a wireless card or that it is connected to a wireless router interface. If not you can purchase the Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter to make your computer wireless.


Plug It In and Play

To begin, get your Chromecast and plug it into your TV’s HDMI port. If your TV’s HDMI ports are cramped together, then try using the HDMI extension cable provided with the box.

The Chromecast will then need to be powered. Plug in either the AC adapter or the USB cable to the dongle. The USB cable is the easiest route, providing that you have a USB port on your TV.

After you have it all powered up, get your remote and switch the input to the corresponding HDMI port.

If everything goes well, you will see the Chromecast startup screen.


Launch the Setup App

Go to google.com/chromecast/setup to download the setup app for your Mac or PC. Alternatively, you can install the app on your iOS or Android device. Once you have downloaded the app, launch it.

There will be a code and you will need to check to see if it matches with the one on the TV. If so, press on the button that reads “That’s my code”.

You will be prompted to choose a Wi-Fi network and enter the password. Change the name of the Chromecast to whatever you like and continue.

Note: Some users have experienced trouble with getting their Chromecast to connect to the Wi-Fi network successfully. You can see a list of Chromecast supported routers here. If you are still having trouble connecting, visit Google’s troubleshooter.

If all goes well you will see “Ready to cast” on your TV. This is your cue.


Get the Google Cast extension for Chrome

You will need to install the Google Cast extension from the Chrome Web Store.

After it installs you will notice a button for Google Cast in the upper-right corner of your browser.


Casting to Your TV

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for.

Click on the Google Cast extension that you just installed and cast the tab to your Chromecast. Chrome will cast itself to the big screen.

Some services, like YouTube and Netflix, will have a seperate button on the video you will click to cast to Chromecast. After the video is casted you can still operate in the browser as usual without it effecting the video playback on your TV.

On mobile devices you will find a Chromecast button in supported apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Crackle, and Google Play.

The Chromecast-supported apps are always growing. For a full updated list go here.

And with that, your dumbfounded TV suddenly became smart.


Image Credit: Flickr

Should I add Google Chromecast to my entertainment center? Well, that depends on what your aim is and what your primary source of entertainment is. Are you a Netflix fan? Do you enjoy watching YouTube videos? Do want want to broadcast videos to your television?

I did buy the Google Chromecast and here’s my experience with it.

Since I am always a sucker for new technologies, I was quick to jump aboard and try this new toy. I have been dreaming for years about broadcasting internet media to my personal television. Google has made that easy for me and it has been a pleasure to watch videos that I treasure. It’s been an experience to watch what I really want to watch.

To the technical points. Chromecast wasn’t difficult to install, but I confess that I had a little technical help to set this thing up. I do not think that it would be a problem for anyone.

There are plenty of mixed reviews with Chromecast. There have been a few glitches with this product, especially in the earlier stages of its development. I think most of the problems have been solved. In fact, I think Google has open sourced and this encourages broader uses of technology. They’re adding new apps all of the time.

I must admit that I too had my doubts at first. It was only a week or so after purchasing Chromecast and it stopped working. I was not a happy camper. However, I remained patient and just shelved the project for a couple of weeks. After that period of time, I decided to give Chromecast another try. Bingo! I downloaded the software and it has worked flawlessly ever since!

I encourage those that buy the dongle to be patient, be openminded, and just take it easy.

I leave my Chromecast dongle plugged in the television set and it does stay rather warm. I have not had any problems with the dongle overheating so far, but others may have a different view. The instructions warn that the HDMI dongle can get hot.

I would like to mention that the dongle seems a bit awkward at first and it taxes the computer. It just takes some getting used to.

Would I recommend the Chromecast to others? Yes, I would but patience is a must on this one. It is plug and play but some have had issues. The reviews on Amazon are about 14,500 at this writing and they are mixed.

Google did set the price right. I have enjoyed mine and will continue to use it.

Have you tried Chromecast yet?

The Little Receiver That Could

I’ll take one! The little receiver that could.

Description: Sony STRDH130

* 2 Channel Stereo Receiver(135W/ch @8ohm, 1kHz, THD 0.05%, 100W+100W @8ohm, 1kHz, THD 1%)
* 5 Analog Audio Inputs
* AM/FM Tuner

Nothing like flowers to brighten and accent any corner in the garden. Think accent and not a hodgepodge of oblivion. The new craze that’s bound to jazz up the garden is solar path lights. These lights provide a night accent which welcomes any visitor that strolls in the dusk hours.

The smaller solar lights that sell for only a dollar are not that good. It may seem to be a good deal but it’s not.

Solar lights that sell for around $2.50 apiece are better and make for a good starting point in the garden. These are reasonably priced and make for an attractive set of five. Probably best suited for the a path or a walkway. These do the job.

As electric prices are destined to soar and pinch any budget, lighting will grow in importance, no doubt. Before rushing into the usual impulse buying mode, it is always wise to investigate the better choices available to the consumer.

Today our mission is solar. Think solar. Well, battery is not bad if the price is right.

Garden Path Solar Lighting For Accent

1. Garden Creations JB5629 Solar-Powered LED Accent Light, Set of 8 — [#1 Best Seller] This rates at the top of the list. Nothing fancy here; just a set of 8 priced around $20. Again, these are cheap, so do not expect miracles.

2. Moonrays 91381 Payton Solar-Powered Plastic LED Path Light, 8-Pack, Black — This 8 pack is an excellent choice for viewing the moon rays. Battery type is NiCd, but can be replaced with 2,000 MAH for longer life. Remember, the MAH is better than NiCd. Again, all batteries can be replaced.

3. Frostfire 16 Bright LED Wireless Solar Powered Motion Sensor Light (Weatherproof, no batteries required) — The Frostfire solar led outdoor light is a high quality light suitable as a security light or shed/garage light.

4. Sunforce 82156 60 LED Solar Motion Light — Provide lighting and security to your garage, pathway, shed or remote cottage anywhere, anytime. Use the power of the sun to light dark areas and add extra security with the Sunforce 60 LED Solar Motion Security Light.

5. White Sun Power Smart LED Solar Gutter Night Utility Security Light for indoor outdoor permanent or portable for any house, fence, garden, garage, shed, walkways, stairs – anywhere safety lite. — The White Gutter LightTM is a revolutionary multi-use solar product with a Patent Pending attachment system that attaches to Gutters, Signs, Fences, and to any flat surface.

6. Solar Wholesale SGCL1LA103S Solar Decorative Lights with Crackle Glass Globe, 30-Inch — 3-inch diameter glass balls are finished with spectacular crackle texture and supplied with color change LEDs.

7. Mr Beams MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell – Weatherproof – Battery Operated – 140 Lumens — Mr. Beams is a very popular choice with 140 Lumens of light. This one is battery operated. Attach a spotlight anywhere: to your house, shed, garage, or even a tree. Mr. Beams offers simple installation with no wiring and no electrician needed. Tight seals and weather-resistant materials allow a Mr. Beams spotlight to work in all weather conditions.

MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell – Weatherproof – Battery Operated – 140 Lumens

The MB360 from Mr Beams is a battery-powered, wireless, motion-sensor LED spotlight that requires no wiring. Simply insert batteries and attach to any surface. A built-in photocell activates the motion sensor only after the sun has set. These are fantastic and bright outdoor security lights for yard, doorways, garage, and playground. The MB360 is weatherproof for year-round illumination. Attach these Spotlights anywhere in minutes without an electrician.

Mr. Beams LED lights provide indoor and outdoor lighting solutions where you need them most. Intelligent motion-sensors activate battery-operated LED lights for hands-free lighting. All units are IP44 rated, which means the weatherproof design will satisfy both indoor and outdoor LED light applications. All Mr. Beams LED lights install easily–no wiring, no electricians–so you can be assured of quality LED lighting anywhere.

Planned Obsolescence

This act to kill the incandescent light bulb is un-American and is not a fundamental American value. The objective is Planned obsolescence. The producer or manufacturer gains when the consumer is pressured (or conned) into buying another product prematurely, which may involve product engineering. It seems that we have become a throw-away society by design. Traces of this story can be discovered in The Light Bulb Conspiracy, a very informative documentary.

The Centennial Bulb

Maybe you’ve heard of the Centennial Bulb, which is located in Livermore, California. If you’re aware of Fire Station #6, then you’ll know that the bulb has been burning since 1901. Why, there’s even a Bulbcam to honor it!

They tried to say that the Centennial went out, but this proved to be another conspiracy, titled World’s Longest Running Lightbulb Goes Out In Livermore.

The Death of the Incandescent Light Bulb

So, the Death of the Incandescent Light Bulb is just another conspiracy provoked by the gang of 535 in Washington. This isn’t completely true though.

We salute the gang in Shelby, Ohio who made this bulb around 1895. This is the age when Americans actually made something and value mattered. The standard light bulb has been a staple of the American economy.

The Phoebus Cartel

Now for the interesting part of the story. The Phoebus cartel formed a secret plan and “from December 23, 1924 until 1939 that existed to control the manufacture and sale of light bulbs.”

You’ll never guess what the names of these companies were: Osram, Philips and General Electric.

Reduction of Bulb Life and the Elimination of Competition

The Phoebus cartel “reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs.”

In fact, fines were levied for bulbs that lasted more than 1000 hours. The bulb that Edison invented lasted for 1500 hours.

The 2500 Hour Light Bulb

Before the cartel landed, manufacturers boasted of the 2500 hour light bulb. The Phoebus cartel decided to limit the bulb to 1000 hours. Within a period of two years, the lifespan was deliberately shortened from 2500 hours to 1000 hours.

There was one patent applied for a bulb that lasted 100,000 hours. It never reached the market.

Definition of LAMP LIFE

A document of the cartel reads:

“The average life of lamps for general lighting service must not be guaranteed, published, or offered for another value than 1,000 hours.”

It is supposed that the original Phoebus agreement was intended to expire in 1955.

There has to be a Light Bulb Conspiracy somewhere today.

Microphone Shootout: Electro-Voice RE27 VS Transcontinental Studios Pro

The name of this new microphone is what? The Transcontinental Studios Pro Vocal Microphone is sold at Amazon.com and the price is very affordable. Maybe I’m missing something, but I believe this mic is a dynamic one.

There is plenty of discussion about this new mic and I finally got the opportunity to hear the vocal mic shoot-out. The rumor going around is that it sounds comparable to the Electro-Voice RE27. I heard the audio comparison myself and was quite impressed with the outcome.

The Transcontinental has plenty of presence. If there was any difference at all between these two mics, the RE27 may have more presence in the low range. Personally, my ears could not hear much difference.

Consequently, the results are stunning if you compare the prices of both mics. The EV RE27 is at the top of the food chain, but the price is very high also. The Transcontinental is a fabulous substitute, especially if there’s no need to be politically correct.

One caveat here, albeit not a big one. Even though the microphone utilizes the XLR 3 pin connector, the cable supplied has a 1/4 inch jack on the end of it, thus making it an unbalanced line. An adapter and/or XLR cable is going to be an extra with this project. So that means a few more bucks. No problem.

Impedance on the Transcontinental: 600 Ohm.

I will be ordering one soon…

Remote Transceiver Controlled By Cell Phone

If a remote control station is desired and one has the financial resources available, the technology is there to choose from. With a typical handheld device such as the HT, cell phone, laptop, or tablet, a station can be routinely accessed with a touch of a button. A PC isn’t necessary for operation.

Enter a password or code and you are instantly connected. Scan the bands like never before with a cell phone.

Turn the antenna rotor with ease.

Here’s a demo and more info from RemoteShack.

1. HamCation 2013 – RemoteShack
2. HamRadioNow Episode 2, Part 8 – RemoteShack

How To Make A 600-Meter Dipole

Will amateur radio operators in the U.S. get to use the newest frequency band allocated, which is the 600-meter band, also known as the 630 meters? This is a new arena for hams, being in that the band is in the Medium Frequency (MF) region. So how do I make the 600 meter dipole? Ham operators can listen until permission to transmit is allocated to the ham community.

This is a new one but let’s stick to the basics. Our range of transmit is from 472 to 479 kHz. If we pull up the Frequency Wavelength Calculator and punch in our frequency, somewhere in the middle of our scope (475 kHz), we get 517.8947368421052. Round that off and we get around 518 feet (158 meter length).

So 518 feet is a quarter wave, one half of a dipole. A half wave dipole would total up to twice that, being 1036 feet. Wow, that’s some wire to roll out!

The 600-meter band is available on a secondary basis and watts to use is 1 watt, and under some circumstances 5 watts may be use, sharing it with primary users.

600-Meter Band — 472 to 479 kHz

Quarter Wave:  518 feet
Half Wave: 1036 feet
Full Wave: 2072 feet

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