2010 Trip to Los Alamos and Casa Grande

In order to economically pick up some equipment, it was necessary to drive from Dallas to Los Alamos and then to Casa Grande and back to Dallas. This was less costly than having all of the equipment shipped. I conned my friend Jack into coming along to help. The route took us North to I-40 and then west. I-40 is based upon the historic Route 66. There are many places to exit to Route 66 and pass through small towns where good eating and interesting sights may be experienced.


December 27-28, 2010

Starting at 4PM in Dallas, we stopped in Quanah, TX at "Dutch's" restaurant for dinner. The chicken fried steak was hand-breaded with home-made batter. Beware the "Texas Size" CFS unless you are extremely hungry as it is about the size of a plate. The small but varied salad bar was also fresh and tasty. Got as far as Amarillo and stayed at "America's Best Value" Inn. It is definitely possible to drive all day and not leave Texas.

In Santa Rosa, NM we stopped for lunch at the "Sun & Sand Restaurant" (or "Sun n Sand Hotel"). As indicated this is a restaurant with a hotel next door. The chips were thicker and tastier than usual and the salsa was good-tasting but thin. The chips serving is quite small and after the first one they cost $2.00 each. This is in direct contrast to every other Mexican restaurant I've ever eaten at. The menu food we ordered was very good and the portions filling but it is not clear why they would withold the customary hospitality from guests who are paying for actual meals. In spite of the surprising fee for the chips and salsa, the establishment is a good place to eat and you can't beat the classical set of colored spheres on poles above the joint.

The next day we diverted from I-40 to Route 66 at lunch time and took a few pics in the town of Tucumcari, NM. The town has several very large murals which are worth seing as well as classical American storefronts. An old truck was also very interesting. Perhaps it was an old hippie van. The very large windmill in the background of the last picture is apparently part of an educational facility and may be open to the public. The images of the truck itself are full size and 2-3MB each.

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December 28, 2010 - Driving to Los Alamos

No pictures were taken except a few along Los Alamos Highway / Trinity Drive which winds up into the 7300FT elevation where the Black Hole resides. The view is great and threre are a couple places to stop and enjoy.

The night before the BH visit, John K5PRO called and was kind enough to bring a rackmount RCA frequency monitor to the hotel for us. It was recovered with a BTA250 before. We hung out in the lobby for a while.

At the BH I bought two Aerovox 2uF 5KV oil caps, but saw nothing larger in high voltage except two caps about 4"x18"x18" with one terminal as a 3" tall insulator and one as the case, probably intended for power line PFC use and these had no markings at all. Ed did not know what the values were so it was not a good bet to buy them and figure it out later. I am guessing they are for the ~12KVAC or so power line voltages and have small capacitance, high KVAR.

They still have a good selection of small to medium RX type power transformers, up to about 200VA. I picked up several 15-100VA isolation transformers, filament transformers, 24V transformers, and among the power transformers was a 3600VCT 200mA plate unit and two NOS UTC GC300's in boxes. Picked up the 3H/3.5A/6.75 Ohm/7.5KV filter choke. No reason to leave that there! Also got a couple of HV supplies, 12KV/100mA and 10KV/50mA. The 100mA one has 4 Eimac vacuum rectifiers in a bridge and is intended to charge an external capacitor. There is a 100KV/5mA hipot power supply there, recently unearthed. It is light in weight, a large red plastic box about 24" tall with two current meters. Toward the end of the day we drove to Flagstaff. Ed from the BH had warned that some bad weather was on the way. Pictures from the previous business trip to the Black Hole can be found here. Several of the items in thoise pictures were bought up not long after they appeared on that website.

There are still many 'variacs' and isolation transformers; 500VA and lower seemed common but a few were larger. Many of the items featured on the aforementioned web page have been sold, but there are plenty more like them.

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video panning the whole scene -to give an idea of the scope

December 29-30, 2010 - Flagstaff AZ to Dallas, TX

We started out at Flagstaff AZ at 6AM and found snow.. Only 1 inch, but more was coming down and we hastened to get to lower elevations and away from that impending trouble. On the road we passed several minivans either on wreckers or being put on wreckers. They seemed to have been rolled. I never cared for minivans.

7 hours later we met Dennis Gilliam in Casa Grande about 1PM and did lunch and some horse trading. It was really great to meet Dennis and discuss radio and military trucks. In exchange for a couple large boxes of tubes and some boot, got a couple of nice plate transformers and also picked up some other stuff previously arranged for. Most of the merchandise from Dennis is shown below.

Some additional items were a Basler 208/240+-11% to 3000/3500/4000/4500@1A transformer from a Gates 2.5KW FM TX ((GATES FM-2.5K PLATE, P/N 472-0711-000, CORE A-0525/CS-161, STYLE #) 10 E-I LAMINATED CORE, PR) +11,0,-11,208,240 VAC 60 HZ 1 PH, S1) 0-3000-3500-4000-4500 VAC @ 1.0A CCS, DM) HT = 10.769 WT = 9.825 DT = 9.188 MD = 5.000 MW = 6.437, WEIGHT) 86 LBS)) and an older Amertran transformer rated 105/115/125 to 6200VCT@2KVA. Both are rated CCS and intended for choke input filters. The Basler was intended for a dual section 10H-6u-10H-6u setup. Other items included an RF amplifier metering panel at the 5KV/1A level, a very large 270 degree panel meter, a stack of HV rectifiers, an aluminum rack for the M8109 project shelter, and other worthwhile equipment.

set of 4 shock mounts
MG set 24VDC to 120VAC 1600W
military cab vent mount for sugar scoop ant. mount
24V Cummins 250 starter
75A/28V battery isolator
two 28V/400A relays
9000BTU military air conditioner
9000BTU military air conditioner
assorted shaft couplings

Repacked all of it in the truck bed - it all barely fit - and got a tarp at the truck stop, then headed out. Good thing to have gotten the tarp, it was raining and later there were 40 MPH winds bowing huge masses of dust so thick that it was not advisable to stand and face it. The pic is from left to right myself, Dennis, and Jack.

At 8 PM we stopped for dinner at the Deming Truck Terminal which has a recently re-opened restaurant "Desert Sky Cafe". The green chile stew had huge chunks of beef in it and the chile cheese burger was too good to mess up with catsup or other condiments. The fries were not greasy and the food was served hot. There is plenty of good Amercian food on the menu as well as Southwestern. A sign indicated that Indian (think Mumbai) food is also available. The terminal itself is well-seasoned and rich with decades of truck-driving culture. I would recommend the Deming Truck Terminal's food to any travelers and it cost only $13 + tip for two adults to eat. Several people came in with backpacks about 9PM. I do not reccommend desert hiking during sandstorms at night that close to the Mexican border but to each his own.

We determined to reach Pecos, TX before stopping quitting for the 29th as it is well away from the Mexican border and we didn't want to have to deal with illegal aliens and Mexican drug gangs. There was a border patrol checkpoint on I-10 near Van Horn, TX. Commercial trucks and noncommercial vehicles are inspected in separate lanes. The work seemed to be thorough. My license plates seemed to say "these are not the droids you are looking for" and we were asked two questions and bid a safe trip.

The next day we stopped in Odessa to take a break and see the meteor crater. There are meterorites and fragments available and I bought one from Odessa and a fragment of NWA 869, a stony meteorite from North West Africa. They cost only $10.00 and $12.50 respectively and there are larger objects available as well. The on-site museum has space rocks from around the world, educational displays, and there is a well-maintained path through the meteor crater with signs describing the features of the area. It is well worth spending 1-2 hours for a family time and there are picnic tables under cover. The meteorites can be displayed with the hot rocks found at a roadside shop along Highway 380 in June 2010.

As can be seen in the image below, the truck was completely full. Crating up electronics gear and shipping by motor freight is not always the cheapest way to get it and risks damage by careless and harried handlers. Traveling by individual vehicle allows business to be conducted freely, flexibly, and efficiently and is often less expensive than air travel and rental vehicles. The travel ended back in Dallas at about 8 PM December 30th.

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