No more Radio Shacks

The last Radio Shack in the Charleston area is closing (well technically there is one more, but it’s a franchise store and I have no idea if it’s going to keep the Radio Shack name).

I happened to be in the area and stopped by to check and saw the signs. Not sure when their final day is, but judging from how picked over their inventory was, I’d guess it’s pretty soon.

All their component bin inventory was hanging up on the shelves, and was listed for $1/package. Not quite as good a deal as the $0.15/package I got when the Radio Shack near me closed out. Most of the other inventory was listed at 70-90% off.

There wasn’t much left in the store, but I did find a few things that I thought was a good deal at $1/package. Picked up the rest of the SMA edge connectors and DPDT mini toggle switches. Also picked up a heat sink and a few BNC barrel and T adapters for 90% off. The batteries were marked down a fair bit and at 2 for 1 also, so I picked up a few N cells to use in my HP 28S.

Final Radio Shack haul
Final Radio Shack haul

Focal spot blooming demonstration

Continuing on with my experiments with my pinhole grid, here’s a demonstration of focal spot blooming.

In a typical x-ray tube, you have electrons being emitted from the cathode filament and accelerated toward the tungsten anode. Being all the same charge, the electrons in this beam will naturally repel each other causing the beam to expand slightly before hitting the anode. When the tube current is low, there aren’t many electrons in the beam, so not a lot of expanding occurs before the anode is reached.

At high tube current, you have a lot of electrons coming off the cathode and going into the beam. Lots of electrons in the beam means more repulsion and you get much more expansion of the beam by the time it reaches the anode as a result.

Here’s an image I acquired using my pinhole grid at 50 kV, 50 mA and 100 ms (5 mAs). 50 mA is a pretty low tube current and about as low as most machines will go.

Focal spot blooming
Demonstration of focal spot blooming at low tube current. Acquired at 50 kV, 50 mA, 100 ms, 181 cm SID

Now here’s an image acquired at 50 kV, 500 mA and 10 ms (5 mA).

Focal spot blooming
Demonstration of focal spot blooming at high tube current. Acquired at 50 kV, 500 mA, 10 ms, 181 cm SID

Note  how much larger the focal spot images are at high tube current. This is focal spot blooming, and can result in an increase in focal spot size by up to a factor of 2 depending on the tube current.

Has it really been 30 years?

This  year is 30 years since high school. Hard to believe it’s already been 10  years since my 20 year high school reunion.

The last time I saw anyone I went to high school with was at the reunion, but thanks to Facebook I can see what some of them are up to these days.

It’s unlikely I’ll be able to make it back home this year if there ends up being a 30 year reunion thing going on. I hope that if something happens, everybody has a good time and posts pictures of the festivities.

One last visit

Stopped at my local Radio Shack again to see if it was still open and much to my surprise, it was, although today was the last day.

There wasn’t much left in the way of components, but I still found a few more things to pick up. Hard to turn things down when they’re marked down 90%. A few packs of 1/8 W resistors, 3 packs of terminal strips, 4 spools of speaker wire, some RF chokes and 4 PIR sensors.

Radio Shack haul part 1
Radio Shack haul part 1

After a bit of hemming and hawing over whether I should go back for more (didn’t want to seem greedy or anything), I headed back for round 3. At some point, someone else had stopped there and bought out the rest of the resistors, so I settled on (nearly) cleaning out the capacitors. I’m already pretty stocked up on resistors from the first trip anyway. Also picked up the rest of the heat sinks, IC sockets and a couple of telescoping antennas.

Radio Shack haul part 2
Radio Shack haul part 2

I probably could have grabbed a few more things, but they weren’t things that I would have easily found a use for.

Now to start setting things up so I can build things…

Recovering from surgery

Everything seems to have gone well with the back surgery to remove the bits of the L5/S1 disc that squished out. Checked in to the hospital just before noon yesterday, and was home by about 5:30 that afternoon. The actual surgery only took about an hour (so I’m told) so most of the time was waiting, getting prepped and then recovery in the PACU.

Pain from the surgery site has been pretty minimal (~5 cm incision site in the middle of my lower back). No staples or stitches that need to be removed later, so all I need to do is rest and let everything heal up.

The leg is feeling better with less weakness and numbness. I imagine that will improve even more as the nerves recover.

Off work for the next week and a half for recovery. Planning to use that time to catch up on some reading, do some more work on my equipment tracking application, and binge on some Netflix.