Sunday, August 31, 2008


I haven't been blogging much lately, because with the schools and universities starting up again, I've been busy. But today, I read Gary Mason's article in the Globe and Mail regarding the increasing popularity of the old vinyl records (33 1/3 and 45 rpm records) and it prompted me to make some comments. "Vinyl" was the leading technology for recorded music (the word "record" was used for individual vinyl disks - as in: did you listen to Elvis' latest "record"?) at an earlier time.

I've stayed true to my roots in that regard. I still own a fine Dual 33 rpm record player with a Shure M93E dynamic cartridge mounted in the "tonearm", and from my days in the coin music and vending business I still have two "jukeboxes", one designed for 33 rpm records and the other for 45 rpm. The jukeboxes and ancillary loudspeakers were built by a company named Seeburg (there were other companies in that business, too, for instance Wurlitzer).

This is all "stereophonic" technology of about 40 years ago (the electronics are transistorized). Here are some pictures:

The 33rpm jukebox. It was built as a "home unit" - you can see how it looks like furniture. Each of the 'slanted' sides contains a 12" woofer and cone tweeters - and crossover networks. You can play records, or listen to am/fm radio.

The 33rpm "record rack". It holds 50 33rpm records (LP - "long playing" about 15-20 minutes per side with about 6 or 7 "records" or "cuts" on each side).

Each 33rpm record side is selected by a rotary dial - just like the old telephones. You can select one, several, or all records in the machine. There are about 700 cuts available (it all depends on the number of cuts per side). And here's a mix of old and new: the system sounds great still, at least to my aging ears - so I play my little mp3 player through one of the auxiliary audio inputs.

An afterthought (added Sep 1): Looking at the mp3 player, it has more functionality than the home unit. At 2GB, it can hold about the same number of music selections. It also has radio, and can store videos (impossible with the home unit). It does this in a space volume which is many hundreds of times smaller than what technology needed 40 years ago.

The two twin 15" bass reflex woofer with exponential horn tweeter loudspeakers with internal crossover networks. These will rattle the house if I turn up the volume too much.

The prototype of the colour organs I used to build is still running - it responds to the bass beat of the music being played in the "home unit".

The 45rpm jukebox. It holds fifty 45rpm records - one cut per side, usually. Again, you could choose one, several, or all of a hundred possible selections.

The 45 rpm record playing mechanism - the 33rpm juke box has a large scale version of this, too.

The 45 rpm record rack behind the playing mechanism.
These are the toys my wife I enjoyed in our young years - when we had many parties in the "rec room". Our granddaughters, who live next door often play the music on them, too; maybe the equipment will enjoy a "renaissance" as they grow up.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Playtime continued

Yesterday, the forecast was for reasonable weather (it turned out to be a really nice day). While Derek and Airdrie are attending Gnomedex in Seattle, we're taking care of the granddaughters; it was their wish to go to the PNE again.

Well, we (the gandparents) walked a lot and supplied the necessary food and drink, and they (the granddaughters) took in the rides non-stop (except to take time out for the food and drink). A great time was had by all.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Playdough Olympics

Sometimes we wonder whether the advent of video games and other screen-based entertainment has today's kids unaware of the rewards and enjoyment of real personal and physical effort. Our granddaughter Marina disproved that notion with her creation of some of the Olympic disciplines by the use of playdough. She was obviously watching the TV coverage, and it has left an impression.
At left: rowing

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another poison day

Today is a another scheduled day for Derek's chemotherapy treatments. As a result, he'll likely feel sick for the next couple of days and may not be blogging. We hope that this won't be the case, but past experience tells us to expect it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Really cool

When the days get really hot, trust the kids to come up with a neat solution to cool off. Here's our granddaughters so cool idea:

Hooray for the nice days of summer, and... no school!

(Click on picture for large view)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Light pollution

As most of you know from my previous post, one of my hobbies is astronomy. Every now and then, I take a some photos, too.

Last night, seeing that there wasn't a cloud in the sky, I decided to set up scope, and attach my DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera to it. The reason is that that telescope follows the rotation of the sky (caused by the turning of the Earth); astronomical photos normally require several seconds to many hours of exposure time, because we're dealing with very faint light here. Therefore, the camera has to follow the night sky, otherwise the images get "smeared" by the sky rotation.

As it turned out, after only about 3 seconds, the stray light in this city - in my neighbourhood caused by a large shopping centre nearby - and the myriad of unshielded streetlights which throw so much wasted light into the city sky caused the picture to "wash out". Some of this can be overcome by using the current graphics programs (i.e. Photoshop) to overcome some of these problems. Here's an example:

"Orange" light pollution, mostly from sodium vapor lamps

"processed" image.

Click on each image for more detail.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Long weekend

With the long weekend coming up, we're looking forward to better weather (it's been cloudy and rainy for the last several days). Sunshine is in the weather forecast, but let's take that with a grain of salt. I put weather forecasters into the same group as economists, and their track records aren't exactly stellar, as far as I'm concerned.

Derek just went through his second chemotherapy and monoclonal antibody session, and hasn't been blogging - the chemo is having some fairly pronounced side effects. He's beginning to feel better, so I expect that he'll be blogging soon.