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Journal Journal: AO-40 E-Mail

Dear All,

AO-40 is in a very critical situation at the moment..

Our command team is working hard to get AO-40 back under fully control.

Last night (Orbit #1488, 2004-01-27, 00:57, UTC MA 42) the battery voltage
suddenly dropped from 26V to 14V. We currently believe, that in some
kind of domino effect more battery cells died shortened.
There is also a report that the Heat Pipes 4+X+Y temperature suddenly
rise from 27C to 92C, when a few moments later the voltage went down.
This report is not yet confirmed..

Several stations reported, that around this time the S-Band signal dropped
rapidly. This would be consistent with the low bus voltage, preventing
the S-TX from working properly. At the moment we assume that the IHU
is still working.

Command stations are trying to send send blind commands to the spacecraft
in an attempt to switch over to the auxiliary battery.

If that does not help, than the IHU will be reseted and loaded with
some software to switch the relays.

It may take some time, perhaps until the sun angle is getting better.

73s Peter DB2OS


Journal Journal: Today was set day on the house

As I hinted in my last entry, today was the big day building my modular house. At 6 AM the builder was waiting for the set crew, and they showed up just as the sky started to brighten. For my part, I turned my truck's tailgate into a coffee bar for the guys. They went through about 4 pots by lunch, along with a whole box of donuts. A 60 ton crane showed up at about 7:15, by 8:30 they had the back of the house in place, by 10:00 the front. By lunchtime they had the roof raised, and the gable ends of the house installed. Shortly after lunch they installed a gable end porch roof, and finished off the day shingling off the roof. It all went together slicker than the thawing mud surrounding the house.

I got a quick peek inside the house at lunch, and a bit longer walkthrough with the builder as things were winding down for the day. The kitchen was complete, except for appliances, the floors and countertops, closets had shelves in, doors were usually hung and often trimmed, and carpet/floorcoverings installed in about 90 percent of the house.

I couldn't resist taking some pictures, and I took a bunch with my low resolution digital camera, and a roll with my old, but trusty Pentax. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I decided to set up a couple of photo albums that have about 45,000 words worth of storytelling. I will get the film processed tonight or tomorrow, and will add the better shots to the albums.

It is still a little dicey getting in and out of the house because of the mud, and a couple of doors lead nowhere but down, but I hope to be able to get in there and get appliances in there soon. There is also a pole building to put up, and utilities to connect, but I was suprised how complete things are.


Journal Journal: Homebuilding

Today is the big day for the house. Saturday they delivered the house on 3 very low slung trailers, all shrinkwrapped and packaged. I got a chance to peek into the modules, and the carpets are down, the doors hung and trimmed out, and the walls painted. I only saw a couple of cracks in the drywall that I could see, and the builder assured me that they would be easy to fix. I am providing coffee and donuts for the set crew, and will be taking pictures for the rest of the family. Anyway, the builder is out there, and the crew will be arriving shortly. I will add an additional entry later today.


Journal Journal: Homebuilding

We are in a lull right now in the building process. The house is supposed to be set on December 22, weather permitting. The foundation is in and backfilled, and the builder and I are working on arranging for the all-important electrical service to the house. BGE has lost our first application for new service, so we had to fax a new one. Like a government agency, they have little incentive to provide excellent customer service, except what is mandated by law. They made a big show of strength after Hurricane Isabel knocked out power to over half of their customers, bringing in crews from all over to bail them out. Since then there have been at least half a dozen power outages here since. I would have thought that the hurricane would winnow out the weaker trees and branches, but it seems as though there are more branches falling than ever. A little more aggressive stance toward tree trimming would help.

Other things that need to be done include arranging for a propane tank, and also for my garage, which will actually be a pole building. I will try to match colors the best I can to the house, and plan to make it a space to work on cars, motorcycles, and other stuff, and of course store lawn equipment.



Journal Journal: Homebuilding

The concrete crew is working on the foundation, today they are putting in the drain system. Pretty basic, they lay a perforated pipe around the perimeter of the foundation on a gravel bed, then route the drainpipe into a hole where the sump pump will go. This is done on the inside of the foundation. On the outside, there is a similar bed of gravel which is covered with a fine mesh fabric to separate it from the backfill dirt. Water trapped in the gravel finds its way into the interior drains through small conduits spaced every 4 feet placed in the footers of the foundation. Once all the drains are laid, the basement floor is covered with crushed stone, and the foundation is sealed, then backfilled.

  Its pretty low-tech at this point, with most of the work done with wheelbarrows and a cement mixer to pour the stone into the hole. During the concrete pour, they used a concrete pump to transfer the concrete from the trucks into the forms, a piece of equipment every bit as impressive as the well drilling rig.


Journal Journal: Spam Redux

I was hoping to keep my old mailbox open for a while, and guide what legitimate E-mail I had left there over to my new box. I also set my mail client to truncate the larger messages. Within 2 days, my inbox reached its quota for size (5mb), and I was locked out. I contacted my ISP about this, and asked for some suggestions about coping with this, and their only response was that they could clear out the inbox, but to keep it clear I would have to download all of the crap anyway. The upshot was that I ended up having to close the box. Hope nothing important is being sent over it in the near future.

Congress has passed antispam legislation, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, it will do little to help, since it appears most of the most egregious spammers operate outside the law anyway. I don't have too much of a problem with Amazon or Crutchfield emailing me about their specials once a month, it is the outlaws that clog my box with viruses, trojans, porno, and so on. They are already breaking the law, and this will have little effect I am afraid.


Journal Journal: Spam

I finally had to break down and change my E-mail address today. My E-mail box was getting 6 megabytes of trojans disguised as the notorious Micro$oft service pack, or a variation of the same. If the spammers used the same energy and imagination to do something constructive on the web or hell .. even in Meatspace who knows what they could come up with.

I have had the address since I got on the web 7 years ago, and my friends, family, and coworkers all know it, but unfortunately so do the spammers. While my new address is here on Slashdot, I am curious as to who will be my first spam on the new address. Will it be Yahoo, who I use for a mailing list of my radio club? My long distance carrier, who bills me online? My Credit Card company? Some trojan that scans my hard drive for pR0n, CC#s, and E-mail addresses? My Alma Mater? Al Quaeda? Who Knows?

Spammers are more aggressive than ever trying to get addresses, but there are a few tricks I know of now to keep them off balance when surfing the web. Perhaps I can use Yahoo's free webmail to my advantage. Other tricks are out there, and I will employ them as well to keep my mailbox clean.



Journal Journal: Homebuilding

Saw that Slashdot has an article today about prefab homes, a topic near and dear to my heart. I am in the process of building one, but am only in the process of putting in the foundation. From what I can see, the contractor is doing a good job. The subs that I have seen so far seem to know their stuff, and the work has been progressing well. The main dig of the foundation took a day, the footers another day, and the walls formed out and poured the next. Those guys really work hard and gracefully on the narrow ledges and edges of the forms. It is certainly work I would not want to do myself, one slip and down into the hole you go, and while probably not fatal, such a fall would almost certainly result in broken bones, torn ligaments, or painful bruises. As of today, the foundation is nearly complete, save outside stairs, the installation of French Drains, the outside waterproofing, and the stone base for the basement floor.

The modules of the house will be ready in about 5 weeks, and delivered just before Christmas, so the builder has plenty of time to finish up the foundation work. I hope the early winter here in MD is more benign than last year, though most of the work is inside there are still things like septic systems, well hookups, and other things that are at least a little dependent on the weather. Time will tell...

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