All posts by Mike

I keep an electronics test bench and I love repairing old radios or building other electronic or amateur radio projects, usually late at night listening to shortwave or talking with other hams. My Amateur call sign is KM5Z.

Here’s what $2.89 will buy…

If your’e going to own a Beofeng radio, you might as well have a cheap knockoff microphone to go with it. So, off to eBay we go.

And, surprisingly, for a Chinese purchase, it arrives in about 2 weeks.

This microphone cost $2.89 with free shipping.
After all, what else do you need, but an electret capsule, a tactile button and some plastic.

Works perfectly. It’s light – there’s nothing to it but the essentials. I have no idea if the Beofeng logo is ‘official’ or pirate. Cost: $2.89, free shipping.

This is great. Now I’d like another one to hack up, for other little radios I’ve built. My second order was placed during Chinese New Year, and it takes an additional week to arrive.

This one doesn’t work – no audio. And it has a small rattle inside. Well, whaddaya expect for $2.89? Out with a T9 Torx screwdriver. Turns out the electret capsule is soldered, but… somehow there’s no connection. Fixed it by soldering from the electret capsule to another exposed point.

But look at the PCB: the solder-mask is bubbly. It’s just poor quality. Heck, I don’t know how they can provide the plastic shell, the wire in the cable, the dual plug, the electret capsule, a tiny right-angle tactile button, and the screws — for $2.89, shipped.

Recipe: Sunset Jello

Sunset Jello

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


• 1 3 oz package of Orange Jello
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 9-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice *
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• pinch of salt
• 1 cup grated carrots

Empty gelatin into a small mixing bowl. Stir in the cup of boiling water.
Stir thoroughly until the gelatin has dissolved.
Add the pineapple (including juice), lemon juice, salt, and carrots.
Chill ’til thickened.

This recipe seems to be a variation of a one found in a 1920s Jello Recipe booklet The Greater Jell-o Recipe Book, called “Golden Glow Salad”, page 18, but with the substitution of Orange Jello for Lemon, and lemon juice for vinegar.

* Nope, can’t substitute fresh pineapple – fresh pineapple has an enzyme that will prevent Jello from jelling.

Recipe: Crawfish Étouffée

Crawfish Étouffée

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1¼ hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


• 1/2 cup butter, cubed
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 cups chopped celery
• 1 cup chopped green pepper
• 1 cup diced yellow onion
• 1/2 cup chopped green onions
• 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 2 pounds frozen cooked craw fish tail meat, thawed

In a large heavy skillet, melt butter; stir in flour. Cook and stir over low heat for about 20 minutes until mixture is a caramel-colored paste. Add the celery, pepper and onions; stir until coated. Add the broth, water, parsley, tomato paste, bay leaf, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Add crawfish and heat through. Serve with rice.

Originally from a reddit post /u/JohnnyBrillcream

Recipe: Buttermilk Chess Pie

Buttermilk Chess Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 1½ hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 uncooked pie shell
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 rounded Tbsp. flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • nutmeg


Preheat oven to 425°.
Prepare pie crust and set aside.

In mixer bowl, cream butter with sugar. Add flour and combine thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
[A note here: don’t beat the eggs mercilessly — just mix ’em.
If they’re beaten too much, the proteins will break down and the pie won’t be stiff.]
Combine vanilla and almond extract with buttermilk and stir.
Add to sugar / egg mixture. Mix well.
Pour into prepared pie shell and dust the top with a little nutmeg.
Bake: 10 minutes at 425°.
Then: reduce heat to 350° and cook 35—40 minutes, until custard sets. It should be firm.

Original Recipe: Ora Calloway, as published in: “The Only Texas Cookbook”, Linda West Eckhardt, Texas Monthly Press, 1981.

Recipe: Mahogany Cake

Mahogany Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Time: 1½ hours
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (1 stick)
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (pre-mixed into the buttermilk


Grease & flour a 9×13 pan.
Mix the sugar and cocoa first – the sugar cuts the dry cocoa up and helps it mix better.
Mix everything else in.
Pre-mix the baking powder into the buttermilk.

Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes. Test the center before taking out.


  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 stick margarine or butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 box (16 oz) powdered sugar

Cake must be cool before frosting.
Mix the frosting ingredients and frost the cake.

Recipe: Baked Potato Salad

Baked Potato Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 pounds red potatos
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 8 oz mayonnaise
  • chopped bacon
  • diced green onions
  • 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
  • salt & pepper to taste


Boil red potatoes until fork tender, about 25 minutes.
Quarter or cut in large pieces.

Mix everything together.

Salt & Pepper to taste – less is better.

Recipe: Grandma’s Chocolate Pie.

Grandma's Chocolate Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • ½ c. cocoa
  • ½ c. all purpose flour or ¼ c. cornstarch
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


Mix cocoa, flour, sugar & salt. Beat the egg yolks, then add to the dry mix.

Then add milk gradually, while stirring in a pot over medium-high heat.

Cook until thick, beating it smooth. Stir (10-15 min).  Once it’s thick, add vanilla after you take off the heat. Pour into a pre-baked pie shell. Put in the fridge to chill, add whipped cream, or use the left over egg whites for a meringue topping.

Colossal Cave Adventure

I’d been working on updating an old php3 version of the Colossal Cave. Time and availability for other tasks (see: scanning 1958 radio & TV home study course…) got in the way. So I took the lazy-man’s way out.

The excellent Arthur O’Dwyer has generously allowed for posting (for historical recording, study, amusement and proliferation about the internet) on this website,  his great translation of the original Crowther & Woods 350 point version of “Adventure”. The work is all his, and we all owe a debt to the Elders: Will Crowther and Don Woods.

I’m so lazy, I borrowed his whole page, so as to not damage the content. Visit Colossal Cave.

My first contact with “Adventure” was at Harris Corporation (Interactive Terminals Group), on Dallas Parkway. I walked into the computer lab (and showroom!) one day to see Kim Shrier busily porting the Fortran version to a Perkin-Elmer Interdata 7/16. (Kim may correct me, some day, if I have the machine wrong).

Sprayberry Academy of Radio – Home Study Course,1945 edition

Finished scanning the Sprayberry Academy of Radio, 1945 edition of the home study course, generously shared by Dave Holder. Some of these weren’t scannable and a few were missing.

I was able to discover the names of the missing booklets from items that were listed on eBay. Perhaps someone else has these and can scan them for me (or send them to me for scanning and return by U.S. Postal Mail). To match, I’m using 300dpi scanning, greyscale. I can crop or cleanup as needed and put into an Acrobat PDF file.