Monthly Archives: November 2020

Refoaming Old Speakers

A couple of years ago I bought an old set of Bose 501 speakers.  Audiophiles poo-poo Bose speakers but the truth is way back in the 70’s they made some decent speakers and the 501’s were one of them.

However 40 years of sitting around tends to dry rot the foam surrounds on the speakers.

Dry rotted Foam Surrounds on Bose 501

Yep, that’s what both of the speakers looked like.  And they sounded worse than they looked as well.  Actually they would sound okay at super low volume but as soon as you turned them up …….they sounded awful.

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DIY GPS Puck for Uniden Homepatrol Scanners

Yes Uniden makes a GPS kit for their scanners.  It’s $80.  You can DIY one up for less than half the cost.  And it’s fun to make your own stuff and you’ll learn a thing or two as well.

Here’s what you need.

  • GPS Puck – I used a GlobalSat BR-355S4 $35 approx
  • USB cable – USB A to USB Mini Type B (4pin) $4.50.  You will not walk in a store and find one of these. They are just a little hard to find.  I used a Promaster #3696 cable.
  • Skillz – Mad Skillz

Promaster #3696

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SDS200 And Proscan Software. A Powerful Combination

Uniden SDS200

Ever since I was a little boy, which may have been a few years ago, I have been fascinated with radio.  They had things called “World Band” radios when I was a kid.   I would sit for hours and spin the dial trying to hear far away places.  There was mystery, intrigue, challenge, exotic languages………these are the things boyhood is made of.  Not Drag Queen Hour 🙄. Then there was Citizens Band (CB) Radio.  I had one and was prolific on it.  What I really wanted was a ham radio and it took me a few years, but I climbed that hurdle as well.  I am now licensed as KN4FMV.

You might think I’m a weirdo however in the radio hobby probably the quintessential website for radio systems and frequencies is called radioreference.com   If you go to their web page you will see that there are almost 1.5 million subscribers.  So………I’m in good company.

So I dig radios.  And the older I get, the worse, not better, it seems to get.  I still spin the dial on shortwave radios, sometimes for hours. I have multiple Software Defined Radios (RTL-SDR’s) and I have police scanners, with the actual name of them being called “radio scanners”.

Every so often in any hobby one item will rise to the top of the heap.

In my opinion, in the world of Radio Scanners that device is the Uniden SDS200.  This is an advanced radio for advanced users.  Most places you buy from will preprogram them for you for free, so if you know nothing about radios or police scanners let me forewarn you that the learning curve could be STEEP.  Everything is well documented but to an outsider to the hobby it could still be confusing.
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Police Scanners – How to choose

I have gotten the police scanner bug again.  There are a lot of reasons to have a radio scanner (the proper term for police scanner) with the best reason being informed during emergencies.  Other reasons could include being aware of your surroundings, listening to news as it happens directly from the source, having knowledge of criminal activity in your area, or just plain old being a radio geek who likes to listen to stuff.

Ways To Listen

There are a few ways to listen.

  • Having a dedicated hardware radio scanner
  • Streaming from the internet on systems such as Broadcastify.  While these are handy and free you are going to hear one system at a time. In my case if I listen to my city system, I will completely miss the statewide system, the sheriff’s system, and all analog broadcasts.  You can listen to just one thing at a time.
  • Streaming from smartphone apps (which mostly tie into Broadcastify). You should note that the internet streaming and apps generally are about 30 seconds to a minute or two behind real time.  Bad boys, bad boys could be busting down your door before you hear it on the iPhone app.
  • Creating a software radio using an RTL-SDR USB radio device and software designed for digital trunking radio.

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Pirate Audio Line Out For Raspberry Pi

Pirate Audio Line Out Device

Here’s a fun little project. This is the Pimoroni Pirate Audio Line Out Device .  Pimoroni sells several devices including a 3watt amp, a speaker, and a headphone amp but I chose the Line Out Device for home stereo use.

You could make a headphone amp and power it from a small charging brick and with a wireless Raspberry Pi (Pi Zero W) you could use your phone as a hotspot and have the most original “Walkman” on the block.

So what you need essentially is:

  1. Raspberry Pi – Get the Pi Zero W (W = WiFi) – links just below
  2. Pirate Audio Line Out Board
  3. SD Card – I use SanDisk cards 16 or 32 GB
  4. Micro USB power cable – you have one laying around already
  5. Y adapter cable to hook Line Out to your stereo.

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Firewalls And BIOS’s And Coreboot

I’m into computer security a little bit and always striving to learn more.  I’m also a firm believer in Open Source software.  In Proprietary software you don’t know really know what’s going on.  Case in point:  Alexa, Siri, Hey Google.  They say it isn’t spying on you but you know that it is.

With Open Source software you can view the code and see if any hanky panky is going on.

There are a lot of Open Source Operating Systems such a Linux.  But here’s the catch.  You run your Open Source OS which gets launched by a firmware (BIOS – Built In Operating System) which is PROPRIETARY!.  Also it can prevent you from installing a 3rd party device such as a battery, or charging brick.   Major exploits such as HeartBleed (remember that scare a few years ago) live and breathe in the firmware.   You can slick the OS, change the hard drive all you want but you are still compromised AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

Let’s lay out a scenario.
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