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Tax time

Sherri’s stepfather passed away about a month ago. Sherri’s had to go stay with her mother to help her deal with all of the associated issues. She has been gone for 4 weeks, and will not be back for at least two more weeks. This has left me to deal with all of the things that she usually handles. Those in the USA know what time of year this is. Personal income taxes (ours and my mothers), corporate (Tubelab and G&S programming) taxes, and corporate annual reports all must be done. I have less than two weeks left to complete them, and I am not done yet. There has been no activity related to Tubelab in the last month.

Sherri’s mother had relied on her husband to handle all of her finances for the past 20 years. She had not touched a checkbook in 20 years, and had no knowledge of insurance policies, retirement accounts, house and auto ownership deeds etc. These things are real hard to figure out after after the fact. This experience has let me see just how much I have relied on Sherri to handle all things financial. Fortunately she is still a phone call away. If this describes your situation (or your parents) do all you can to learn about this stuff before something happens.

New computer

My new computer is finally operational, and most of my applications and data have been migrated. Microsoft has decided not to offer anymore upgrades to the Front Page software that I have been using to make this web site. They now offer Microsoft Expression Web as the upgrade path. I purchased Expression Web and loaded on my computer. I tried to use it on my web site. It doesn’t work with my site. Expression does not support the navigation structure built by Front Page, and tells me that my Web site was not built to current web standards. I bought a couple of books, and decided that this is not going to be easy. I am still using Front Page for now.

I have been on the road for almost every weekend so far this year. Most of this web update was written from the passenger seat of a car on my laptop. Some pages are still incomplete, but I decided to post what I have since it has been a while since the last update. Most of the SSE manual is complete, except for the wiring diagrams, parts list with vendor part numbers since I don’t have internet access in my car, and the assembly pictures of my latest amps, since I haven’t been home to take the pictures. I built (and documented) the Industrial amp shown above in December, and haven’t had time to listen to it since then. I haven’t touched a soldering iron yet this year either.

I have not yet figured out how to set up an internet shopping cart on my web page. It must be set up interactively on the server, and again, I have not been home to figure it out. I plan to begin listing the PC boards on Ebay as soon as the parts lists and wiring diagrams are complete. If my current work schedule does not change, this should be in a couple of weeks. My Ebay ID is Tubelab*com. There is nothing posted there currently.

I have fallen far behind in answering email. I thought that I could catch up over the holidays, but my planned two week vacation turned into 6 days off from work. I spent one to two hours per day answering email. During this time I received more email that I answered. I still have several hundred emails in my in box, and 5 or 10 come in each day. I have come to the realization that I may never catch up. All email from purchasers of my boards has been answered promptly. Much of the other email concerns PowerDrive. The PowerDrive cookbook page is not finished yet, but I have posted the first part. More email concerns the availability of the PC boards. They will be available shortly, and the ordering info will be posted here. Email that requires considerable time, like those asking me to design a special circuit, or modify or test an amplifier that I have never seen often does not get answered. I simply don’t have the time to design one off circuits until I get caught up.

Many questions (e-mail and diyAudio forum) relate to the PC boards. I get questions that ask about the “SE board”. I have no way of knowing which board you are referring to, since there are now two different SE boards. I have also received questions asking how to wire a DHT into the SSE board and vice versa. This is not really practical. Each board was designed and optimized for the type of tubes listed in the assembly manual. I simply do not currently have the time to assist with a custom design or application for these designs.

The most popular questions are,” Where can I get a board” and “When can I get a board”. I plan to offer the boards directly from an online ordering page on this web site. I have that option on my current hosting plan. I may also offer them from an Ebay store. I will do this as soon as the assembly manual is finished. Most of the manual is finished (all of the fun amp building stuff). I need to finish processing about 200 pictures and organizing all of the text. I have about 3 weeks worth of work at my present rate, but I can not predict the demands of my full time job, which have been considerable, and require 8 to 10 hours of sitting in front of a computer per day.

The progress will be posted here on this page, and ordering information will be posted here as well.

Thanksgiving

It has been over 1 month since I ordered my new PC. It is still in pieces, occupying my workbench. I returned the defective memory, but have not received the replacements. Two of the three shiny new PC boards shown above are impatiently awaiting assembly into amplifiers, but I have no bench space. The middle board already has a happy home in a new amplifier. I have not been here much anyway.

Last Thursday was the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA. Traditionally it is spent with family. I drove to Tampa to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom and brothers. The Friday after Thanksgiving has evolved into a major shopping event with half of America going to the shopping malls. This is a tradition that I do not choose to support, so I dropped Sherri and friends off at a mall near Orlando. A friend and I went to Daytona for the Turkey Rod Run. A 5 day celebration of all things automotive, where I spent 5 hours before going back to Orlando to pick up Sherri, and return to Ft Lauderdale. A page full of pictures has been added to the automotive pages.

Saturday and Sunday was spent working on the SSE assembly manual, and updating this web site. I have added more of the assembly manual, with more to come after it has been proof read by a few others.

Monday I returned to work, and was rewarded with another “must be done before years end” project. This means more days like today, 11 hours in front of a computer.

My father would have been 85 today. My 5 year old PC has been acting erratic for the past year. I decided that It would be wiser to replace it than to keep repairing it. I usually build my own PC’s but I decided that I would order a custom built PC to save time. I chose a Core 2 Duo computer from a company that has a 3 or 4 page ad in several major computer magazines. They offered a special deal featuring next day shipment and a fat discount, so I ordered one. It two weeks to get the computer and it wasn’t configured as I ordered. I then spent almost 2 days loading it up with all of my applications, and copying almost 100GB of data on to it. As I loaded software on to it, it became more and more unstable. After 2 more days it became totally unusable. At first my e-mail and phone calls went unanswered or not returned, or I got responses like “you shouldn’t be using 64 bit Windows”. They sold it to me! I asked twice for an RMA # to return the whole PC. Then I finally got to e-mail a tech. By this time my whole workbench is covered in dismantled PC and software. It has been almost a month since I placed the order, and I finally have figured it out (with some help from their techie). It seems that the machine will pass a complex suite of memory test software (the one on the Suse 9.3 distribution CD) for 6 hours with 0 errors, but the system memory is schizophrenic with 64 bit Windows, stupid with 32 bit Windows, and just plain dead with Suse Linux. Two memory SIMMS from a local store and the machine is happy, and awesomely fast too. Now I get to load the software all over again. Maybe I will have my workbench back in a few days. I think this could have happened if I built my own machine as well, but I have built a lot of PC’s (50 to 100) in the last 20 years, and I have never seen memory that passes a complex test suite, but fails in normal use.

I am posting this update from my laptop.

Tubelab SSE Manual

I have uploaded parts of the Tubelab SSE manual. Pages that I have had the time to finish, proof read, and have an associate use to assemble a board are posted. Much of it was written on my laptop in the passenger seat of a car. I have been away for 5 of the last 6 weekends. I will be away for the next two weekends also. I plan to finish most of the manual during the traveling time. If all goes well the shopping cart will go live during the last week of November.

Because I wrote most of the assembly manual while traveling, there are probably errors that we didn’t catch. If there are any, please e-mail me and I will fix them. I have fixed the ones that I received e-mail about (mostly wrong pictures). Please e-mail me if anything is not clearly understandable.

Email overload

It has been about two months since I last updated this web site. A lot has happened since then, and I have not had time to update this web site. I should have known what was waiting for me after almost a month off of work. I have been working a lot of hours since my return. Most of my time away from work has been spent on the SSE assembly manual. It is nearly done.

I received about 1000 e-mails while I was away. Unfortunately some spam artists have acquired my e-mail address and filled my mailbox with offers of sex pills and penny stocks. This caused my email box to fill up (twice) and some e-mails may have been lost. E-mail that gets caught by the spam box still counts against my quota until I empty the box. If you e-mailed me in late August or September and never got a reply, your e-mail may have been lost. Please send it again. I try to answer all serious e-mail. E-mail from customers with questions get priority, everything else gets answered in order of receipt. I am currently about two weeks behind answering e-mail. My current work schedule only allows me time to answer e-mail on weekends.

From the Nats

I am posting this minor update (from a hotel room with free internet) to add the pictures from the 2006 Mopar Nationals including an entire page of pictures of the 2008 Dodge Challenger concept car. It was announced that production of this car will commence in April of 2008. I have done some minor reorganization of the site to make room for more pages in the future. Everything is still here, although some pages (and their links) now have their own sub page. I have been working on the assembly manual for the SSE amplifier. My return (and the manual) has been delayed by car trouble. Try to find an oil pan for a Volvo in rural West Virginia.

The break in my work schedule lasted for 7 days (I knew that it was too good to be true). The SSE boards are in and three amps are already up and running. I can build these boards in about 45 minutes each, they go together real easy. I am already working on the construction manual. I have gathered about 500 pounds of transformers which will all be tested and the results posted here (two transformers are already done). I will be out of town for most of August, so there will not be much activity until September.

I finally got a break from my relentless work schedule (it won’t last) so I have been updating the web site every night. I have added (or finished) several pages in the Tech Pages and Tested and Proven Circuits sections. These pages were created to explain some of the experiments that began as a thread on the diyAudio forums. Some of the material is directly cut from my contributions to those threads. Some additional material has been added.

The SSE section has been updated, and will continue to be updated as more info becomes available. The PC boards are on order. My amp has been stressed tested in several ways, including me playing guitar through it, and plugging it into a Variac and cranking the input voltage to 135 volts while playing rock music at full volume! It is still going strong.

I have added some text and old pictures to the Tubelab SE assembly manual. I sold every assembled board that I had during the time that I was too busy to build any (the past 4 months). The pictures (text too) for the checkout and bias adjustment pages were lost last year. I have finished assembling a new board, and the new pictures will be shot this weekend. I will add them to the site ASAP.

Tubelab SE updates

I have added a few more updates and 2 new pages (in a big hurry, so I am sure I messed something up). The Budget SE output transformers and the 6AV5 testing page. I have updated the Tubelab SE assembly manual, but I won’t have it finished for a few more weeks. Many of the final assembly and checkout pages were lost, and the board that I used to shoot all of the pictures was sold a few months ago. I have assembled a new board, and am in the process of shooting new pictures.

Tropical storm Alberto has reminded me that I must fix my roof before we get a serious storm. My roof got minor damage last year from hurricane Wilma. All of the roofing companies are booked selling complete re-roof jobs (15,000 to 45,000 dollars!). I can’t get anyone to do my “small repair”( $1000), so I must do it myself.