Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Scooter, Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures

Mom and Dustin are driving me crazy.  Every time he walks past, Dustin stops, rubs my fur then Mom starts snapping pictures.

Enough already!  I was snoozing and you woke me up.

Go away.

Then Mom started crying.  She said Dustin has been offered a big important job far, far away from home.  They are in contract negotiations and if he accepts, he will live close to Des Monies, Iowa for three long, cold years.  It is 700 miles northwest from us.  Reese, my other brother, is 450 miles east from home.  Joshua, my biggest brother is 1 1/2 hours away which isn't as far but seems so to Mom. Dustin, sometimes he is happy, sometimes he is sad.

Now I am sad.

Mom said we need to do something special before he leaves.  However, it will involve me riding in the CAR!!!


Everybody kept encouraging me by saying, "Don't throw up, don't throw up.  The top-secret destination is only two miles away. Be brave!" It was a long five-minute ride but I made it.

Mom could not take pictures with her camera inside the building because of their company policy.  The people were surprised to see me and tried to make me feel welcomed.  It didn't work.  I was not happy.  They set me up on a table with Dustin holding me tightly.  I braced for a rabies shot but instead, the man in the back of the room said "Smile".  I didn't move.  Then he said "Cheese" and I yawned.  Next, he began to bark and I laughed.  (I don't think he realized what he was saying in doggy language.)  Suddenly a bright light flashed in my eyes and everyone cheered.  He said, "Got it" and we left.

"You never know how good you look until you've had your picture took." 
Said my Granddaddy, whenever he picked up a camera.

I think I am quite handsome.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Trash to Treasure

"One man's trash is another man's treasure."  This applies to Dustin and me. Whenever anything breaks, he grabs it: coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, telephones, televisions, alarm clocks, electric shavers, computers, it doesn't matter what it is, he wants it.  He carefully dismantles the prize looking for useful pieces to build robots.  The components are extracted and reassembled into electrical experiments.

When it became impossible to walk through the basement, he decided to do something.  

I see trash, he sees treasures.

Dustin takes the circuit boards and removes the integrated circuits.  They are packages that contain a premade circuit with a silicon wafer inside.  They can be used to build small computers, perform amplification, comparisons between signals, or many other functions.  Some are in sockets and pop off easily.

Others are soldered directly into the circuit board and must be removed by using a solder pot.   It's a dangerous process and not something to be performed inside the house.

Dustin works outside with a fan behind his back that blows the toxic fumes safely away.

Scooter checks to make sure all safety precautions are being observed.  

He also inspects all tools and verifies they are up to codes.  He is the first one to evacuate when the noxious fumes begin wafting across the porch.

A solder pot is a heated bowl full of melted solder which is EXTREMELY HOT and must be used carefully.  Slag is floating on the top.

A bar of solder is used to perform the initial filling of the pot.  Additional portions of the bar are added periodically to keep it at the desired level.  One of the most popular types of solder contains 60% tin and 40% lead.  It is purchased over the internet and arrives in the mail in solid form.

The circuit boards are placed on top of the solder pot.  The molten solder contacts the component legs on the underside and melts the connectors away.  Components are the building blocks of circuits which are put together to build useful things, process signals - they are electronic Legos...only more complicated.

Using pliers, it is possible to carefully remove the component without damaging the good stuff.

Each component has the manufacturer's identifying marks and part numbers.  The numbers can be googled for information. This one is a UVEPROM which was used as memory storage in an 80's style computer.  Today it can be used in small computers.  They can only be erased when ultraviolet light is shone into the clear window. The memory is not lost when power is interrupted.  The data is also secure from being hacked or erased.  To prevent accidental erasure, stickers are placed over the window.  To erase the data for reuse, a small ultraviolet lamp pointed at the window will clear the data so it can be programmed again.

Some of the chips can be checked on an integrated circuit tester like the one below.  It has a socket on the front so the circuit can be plugged in, identified and tested to see if it works.

The information is recorded then they are labeled and organized to be used in future projects.

Other treasures are discovered during the salvage process.  This is a variable capacitor, not a flux capacitor, which came out of a harmonic distortion analyzer.  It is something someone somewhere sometime long ago gave to Dustin.  It can be used to make a homemade tuneable radio circuit.  Brand new it would sell for quite a bit of money, too much to play with, but recycled out of a piece of trash, it becomes a priceless toy.

A degaussing coil was pried from an old CRT (cathode ray tube) computer monitor.  Its purpose was to eliminate residual magnetization so the screen could work correctly.  The coil operates on the same principle used in World War II by battleships to eliminate the magnetization of the hulls. It made them harder to be detected by naval mines.  The mines could identify the changing magnetic fields created by the large iron ships.  

It can also be used to degauss a dog.  

As new construction projects and experiments are performed, Scooter offers instructions, advice, and encouragement.

The worthless parts were organized, crammed in Dustin's car, taken to the recycle center and sold for cash.  We offered him the junk in the old shed.  If he would load it up, he could keep the money.  Win, win.

Hey!  Is that his childhood treasure box where he locked up his favorite toys to keep them away from his brothers?  Is he throwing it away???  (Sniff, sniff)  I suppose he is a little too old for a treasure box.

The recycling center appeared to be a popular place.  The line was long and so was the wait. We got bored and thirsty.

So I found Dustin a can of beer.  He said it was flat.

While waiting in line, I decided to search for excitement.  Concealed between the piles of junk was a hidden path.  Instead of bread crumbs, there were smashed aluminum cans pointing the way to a mystery. Where did it lead?

It led to the bottomless black hole where coke cans end up after they are thrown in the recycle bin.  They are dumped in a hopper, shredded and the pieces are shot inside the back of a semi-truck trailer. 

When the semi-trailer was full, it would be driven to another company to be smelted down.

As I continued on my treasure hunt, other surprises were discovered.  Why would anyone want to throw away a genuine antique floppy disc drive?  Shouldn't it belong in a museum?  Millennials.  They wouldn't recognize a priceless ancient artifact if they stepped on it.

No junkyard is ever complete without at least one junkyard dog.  He was unimpressed by me and my camera and would not smile.

Finally!  The man in the green truck ahead of us made it to the front of the line. He unloaded the iron from the bed of his truck and put it into the hopper.

We were next.

Our turn to unload!  

First, the iron junk was pulled from the trunk and tossed into the hopper on the forklift to be weighed.

Everything else was carried to the weigh-in station near the large scale.

The men began quickly sorting the items by material type.  They asked Dustin if he planned to return with more scrap later.  He replied he would so they instructed him how best to categorize so he could earn the best price.

The scale was a huge metal plate surrounded by piles of stuff.  Each category was weighed separately.

As items were weighed, the information was entered into the computer.  Can't see the computer because of the messy desk?  I added arrows so you can find it.  Never, never, never again will I say my desk is messy.

Some items were too small and valuable to be weighed on the big scale.  They were taken inside the office and weighed on a smaller scale.  Can you find the office in this picture?

Not only does Dustin recycle junk, but he also recycles gloves.  It's the reason he is wearing two different styles. This bag held discarded CPUs and integrated circuits.  Some were broken, useless, outdated or not needed.

If they have gold plating on their connections it will bring more money so a sensitive scale was needed.

After being weighed, the items were tossed into boxes or piles.

Everything was totaled and a check was written to Dustin.

Was all the work worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!  He made $126.75 for a load of JUNK!