MTD / TroyBilt Mulch Kit Fiasco

Ok so I bought a new riding mower, a 2015 Troy Bilt Bronco (By MTD). I purchased the mulch kit detailed in the manual and online. The kit DOES NOT FIT not even a little. After an hour on the phone and lots of other research I have found the correct kit. Several MTD 42″ mowers have changed decks for the 2015 season, these mowers cannot use the old mulch kit. In this video I show the differences between the kits and how to tell which one you need as well as the appropriate kit numbers. So if you can’t figure out why your mulch kit won’t install check out the video here and see if it helps.
You also get to hear me grunt a lot.
OLD KIT # 19A30006OEM
NEW KIT # 19A70041100

 

Tornado Checklist

I grew up in Washington, Illinois. In November of 2013 a huge tornado devastated a large part of my hometown. In the days and weeks following the tornado I talked with some survivors and modified my tornado preparedness plans.
Tomorrow 27 April 2014 Washington will again be under severe risk for tornadoes. Hopefully these tips will be helpful and comforting to “my people”.

But this checklist isn’t just for Washington, it is for everyone… look at these bullet points and take a Moment To Ponder YOUR tornado preparedness.

TORNADO CHECKLIST

  • Tornado Watch (Ok a TORNADO WATCH has been issued for your area, DON’T PANIC it just means that Tornadoes COULD form in the area.  That being said let’s get ready so we aren’t rushing around at the last minute)
  • Gather essentials and place in Bug Out Bags (check clothes for sizes in kids bags, Check freshness of food/water/toiletries/etc.)
    • Wallet
    • Keys
    • Printed Emergency Plan
    • Cell Phone (on person / CHARGED)
    • CCW (on person)
    • Backup HDD (You do have an external drive or thumb drive backup of your data right?)
    • Dog Food + Water (Dog BOB) (PUPPIES!)
  • Closely monitor WX
  • Police / Fire / Weather Spotter Scanner (on and ready)
  • Check WX radio (Have information ready)
  • Turn on the TV and monitor local weather situation
  • Do you have HAM Radios?  Even if you are just listening this is what the weather spotters use, GREAT information on warnings
  • Prepare your Safe Room.  Preferably in basement, in center of house, farthest away from windows.  Under a sturdy structure like a workbench or table.  One of my acquaintances was saved by a piano, NOT by being under it, but by being next to it.
  • Place Bug Out Bags in Safe Room
  • Place shoes for each person by bag – Plenty of people weren’t wearing shoes, they regretted this once their house was gone and they had to walk around.
  • Get dressed in reasonable clothes (Jeans, sturdy shirt)… you might be walking around and jammies aren’t very protective (or flattering)
  • Water Bottles – Have essentials and snacks available in the safe area… you never know how long you will be in there
  • Does your safe room have a TV in it to monitor?  If so check TV to be sure it works

Tornado Warning (OK a Tornado has either been spotted OR is indicated on radar, this is the real thing)

  • Move to Safe Room
  • Put shoes on (they will get sucked out of the house and you may never find them if they aren’t on your feet, get them on you may need them soon)
  • Put Bug Out Bag on. (Why, it can help provide further protection from things falling on you, also less likely to get sucked up off the floor next to you and take a 150 mile trip somewhere)
  • Put leash on Dog (or dog in crate if that is your thing)
  • Shelter, mattress over head or under sturdy structure.

Tornado Emergency Declaration (Ok these are BAD, it means there is a REALLY HIGH likelyhood of tornadoes and probably a bunch of them. In this case I would prepare a bit more.)

  • Prepare as above, but more.
  • Put some supplies (clothes mostly) in cars and move one several blocks away. (most tornadoes are less than a mile wide and move from West to East or South West to North East, If you were to park your car a mile or so away in a North or South direction you would have a pretty good chance of not loosing both of your cars in one tornado.)

Post Tornado Checklist

  • If damage to house (Assess if the following actions may be needed, with major damage you will probably want to do all of them)
  • Turn off ELECTRICITY (if possible) – Learn how to turn off your electricity, in my house the main breaker is in the basement and the breaker is at the top of the box.
  • Turn off GAS (if possible damage to gas system or smell of gas is observed) – Zip tie or wire a wrench to your gas meter to facilitate this.
  • Turn off WATER
  • Check all people for injury
  • Address all injuries and determine next steps.
  • REPORT to police, HAM, etc – Let responders know your status, get help on the way.
  • Inform relatives etc status (Ask to distribute status to others) – Text / Email / Call / use social media… get your status out to family and friends, and ask for them to re-distribute that information to others so you aren’t burning your time and battery.

Determine Next Steps (What Now?)

  • Stay in Place?
  • Utilize disaster plan for Hotel etc.?
  • Contact Insurance
  • Recover property
  • Assist Neighbors (TURN OFF GAS)

Ok here are some Amazon links to items that might be useful…

  • Uniden Home Patrol Scanner, not the cheapest police / fire scanner out there but clearly the easiest.
  • Baofeng UV-5R Ham Radio – Check out the intro to HAM radio post HERE to learn more… this is the cheapest and best VALUE in HAM radios.  There are better radios for sure but NOTHING comes close in the ~$35 range
  • You DO have a weather radio right?  NO, or need another? Try a Midland, they work great.

Other episodes that may be helpful

Good luck and be safe everyone.

Getting Started With Ham Radio

A few months ago I got my Ham Radio License, since then I have had several people ask for advice on getting their licence so here goes.  This is kind of train of thought theater so hopefully I get it somewhat organized in a decent fashion.

  1.  There are 3 levels of license: Technician, General, and Extra… each of these is progressively harder to achieve but each one gives more frequencies to use.  NOTE THERE IS NO MORSE CODE REQUIREMENT FOR ANY TESTS.
    1. Technician – This is the basic license and gets you on the air with mostly local communications (Mostly VHF and UHF)
    2. General – This is a huge step up (you get rights on ALL the amateur bands), yet the test is only slightly harder and mostly the same information as the Tech test.  This will get you talking worldwide with the right radio. (and money)
    3. Extra – This test is significantly harder than the general (so I’ve been told) and really gives you limited benefits above General… Once you get in the hobby you will figure out if this step is right for you.
  2. How to get licensed
    1. Licensing is easy and cheap.  Tests are offered all around the country all the time and cost in the range of $15.00 .  If you pass your test you can take the next level test FREE during the same session.  If you fail and want to try again, plop down another $15.  Again if you pass a test the next one is free to try.  In theory you could take all three tests for $15.
    2. Find a local test by going to http://www.arrl.org/find-an-amateur-radio-license-exam-session and looking in your area.
  3. Ok here is what you need to do to get licensed, trust me it isn’t hard.
    1. Download the following 2 PDF files, one is for Tech and one is for General (trust me get both, I’ll explain in a bit) http://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2010_Tech_Study_Guide.pdf and http://kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/2011-No-Nonsense-General-Class-License-Study-Guide.pdf
    2. Read the Tech guide (NOTE LINK FOR TECH GUIDE IS ONLY GOOD TILL JUNE 2014, check the kb6nu.com website for updates once new test questions get released).
    3. Go to QRZ.com and register, then go to http://qrz.com/hamtest/ and take some practice tests.
    4. Repeat steps 2 & 3, 3 more than 2… once you start getting 80-85% or so on the  Tech Test figure out when you can schedule a test.  If you have time read through the General guide (Don’t neglect the Tech stuff, just add some General in the middle.)
    5. Take the Tech exam, once you pass try the General… the first time I took the general I hadn’t even looked at the questions and I only missed passing by 2 questions.  If I had looked through that document once or twice I would have probably gotten it first try.
  4. BEFORE GOING TO TAKE A TEST PLEASE READ WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO BRING!!!! – A calculator is a good idea, pencils, PHOTO ID x2, they may only take cash so send an email or read if they have posted what you will need, it would suck to have to drive back home and get a bunch of crap.  If you are upgrading you may need to bring your current license.
  5. Ok now you have a license (in a week or two anyway, government processing and all), how do you get on the air?  Well let me tell you……
    1. Get a radio.  Now there are plenty of opinions as to which way to go here… Right now we are going to focus on VHF and UHF radios as all licenses can use these.
      1. Some will say get a HT (aka walkie talkie or handy talkie) this is a handheld radio.  HTs are lower powered but can be much cheaper.  PLUSES – Cheaper (some examples for $35 or less), more versatile.  MINUSES – Can me more complicated to program, low power (~3-5w), could frustrate a user due to low power and bad antennas.
      2. Others will say go with a base station/mobile unit as they tend to be easier to use and their power gives them better reach.  PLUSES – all the power you will ever possibly use for VHF or UHF (10-100 watts usually 40-50 watts), Tend to be easier to program and use, better antennas.  MINUSES – Cost (Starting at $150, but more likely $300+), must be mounted in a house or car, additional equipment needed (antenna is extra, some test equipment needed, power supply for home use)
    2. I am going to post Amazon links for all the radios.  But please also check http://www.universal-radio.com for pricing as well.  I am not at all affiliated with Universal Radio but I have yet to find better pricing on new radios that them (NOTE, the price is on the LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE PAGE, all the pricing under the product is for accessories… it gets me every time).  They however don’t sell Baofeng radios, go to Amazon for those as they are super cheap and the return policy for Amazon is Stellar (I do get Amazon kickbacks, full disclosure)
      1. OK for HT radio I suggest the BAOFENG UV5R, and only the UV5R… There are easily 6000 different model numbers and 5Rplus or 5RA… NO just the UV5R.  All the models are functionally the same inside but the case makes getting accessories difficult, the UV5R is the most common model and almost all accessories are made for this case only.  This radio is SUPER CHEAP (as of 11/30/2013 it is $29) and very decent especially considering the price.  Here is the link, don’t bother looking anywhere else as you won’t find it cheaper AMAZON BAOFENG UV5R.
        1. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU PICK UP THE PROGRAMMING CABLE!!! Here is the link (It’s like $7, trust me get it) AMAZON UV5R PROGRAMMING CABLE
        2. Download CHIRP Programming software (FREE) at this link CHIRP PROGRAMMING SOFTWARE
        3. Read the following website, it is the  UV5R BIBLE!, The most comprehensive site for the UV5R by FAR!  MIKLOR UV5R WEBSITE
        4. The Baofeng UV5R radio is a Dual Band (2m & 70cm) FM only handheld radio.  It is capable of TRANSMITTING AND RECEIVING on Police/Fire, Ham, FRS/GMRS, and MURS frequencies.  You are probably only licensed to TRANSMIT on 2m and 70cm… so if you program police/fire or whatever into the radio make sure transmit is disabled on those channels.  This radio has the capability to RECEIVE commercial broadcast FM radio stations as well as NOAA Weather Radio transmissions.  It also has a scan function that sucks bad so don’t bother with it.  Eventually you will want a better antenna for this radio but get familiar with it and the MIKLOR website and figure out how you want to proceed.
        5. There are other brands (Yaesu, Kenwood, and Icom) which are great and much better radios, but the price difference is what really gets me.  If you have the money to spend feel free to get a better radio.  I may do so in the future but I will always have a few of these on hand as backups/handouts.
      2. Alright, as far as mobiles/base stations are concerned I am speaking on research only, I do not currently have a mobile… I want one bad….
        1. This decision depends entirely on the bands you need.  Usually the bands in your area represent what your local fire/police used/use (UHF or VHF), therefore most repeaters in the area will be in that band.  In my area 2M (VHF) is the most common, although there is plenty of 70cm (UHF).  For me a 2M would do 85% of what I want but a dual band would be nice.  Check the repeater directories for your area to determine the best setup for you.
        2. For 2m only radios the Yaesu FT-1900r or FT-2900r are about the best deals out there (currently ~$150 with rebates and stuff at Universal Radio)
        3. For Dual Band the Yaesu FT-7900r and FT-8800r are pretty standard rigs in the $350 range.  Or you could move up to the Yaesu FT-8900 and add the 6M and 10m bands to get some real range… for not much more in price over the 8800. Again Universal Radio usually has the best price.  Added benefit of these is a detachable faceplate, so you can mount the heavy part in the trunk or whatever and have a thin easily mountable faceplate on your dash.  This makes mounting much easier.
        4. There are plenty of options for these radios, but beware…. Yaesu, Kenwood, and Icom are the gold standard and very stable radios.  Other off brand radios may be a little cheaper but quality and service may suffer.  If the difference is 20% or less in price for equivalent radios go with the name brand.  Saving $50 on a $350 radio isn’t worth it if the cheap one is a pain in the butt to deal with.
        5. You will need to buy an antenna and SWR test meter for any of these radios.  Also if you are planning to use this in a building vs a car you will need a 12v power supply as well.  Antennas go for $10-$100+ depending what you are looking to do, but this discussion is way too long for this post.  Suffice it to say a decent mag mount car antenna should run you $20-$40 or so.  SWR meter $40-$100.  PLEASE get a SWR meter, this could save your radio.  Check Amazon for better pricing here, especially with antennas.  Be aware you may need to tune your antenna, hence the SWR meter.

Well for now that is the lot of it.  This guide should get you started, you will learn much more in the study guides so I didn’t include a lot of information about repeaters and whatnot and almost nothing on HF (long distance) Ham activities.  Perhaps a future post.

 

How to deal with an Active Shooter situation

In light of the recent incident in Colorado the following documents put out by the Department of Homeland Security are a good read.

They discuss what you should do if you find yourself in the middle of an active shooter situation (also a bomb threat).

Check them out they are quick reads and good info.


Episode 73 – Landlording

So after a hiatus I got off my lazy butt, this is the first of two episodes I recorded last night.

Fun and Profit through landlording!

We discuss some points to help make your future landlording experience a bit more pleasant and profitable.

OH! I almost forgot to put the podcast RIGHT BELOW 

Speaking of profitable you know what helps me be profitable WWW.BUBWEB.COM websites starting at $10 per YEAR!  Seriously you will have a hard time finding something cheaper, check it out and feed my babies.

Ok so some of the points

  • <– That is a bullet point
  • Property Choice
  • Insurance
  • Loans
  • Taxes
  • Incorporation
  • How much to charge
  • Keeping your tenants in line
  • Marketing

Amazon Landlording Books <— click that and buy something from Amazon.com and I get a tiny little pittance from them for my trouble (and you don’t pay any more).


Some New You Tube Videos

I made a couple of You Tube videos today.

First one is a quick fix for VW New Beetle Air Conditioning fuse problems here http://youtu.be/I9NJueJJCtY

And the second one is how I built a couple of target stands (and how you can too) for less than $10 each here http://youtu.be/KKAfTdWg-8g

Check them out and let me know what you think.

Episode 72 – A Followup on the previous home defense episode

So I was reading a blog post from Cheaper than Dirt Read it here first.

I’m not going to spoil it by letting you know what I think here, check it out in the podcast below (This article will get someone killed) Oops let it slip.

Check out my full opinion in the podcast, it’s right down there… go ahead and listen… then come back here or go to our facebook page to comment.

Check out our sponsor BUBWEB.COM – Bubweb.com offers web hosting starting at $10/per year

Also How about an Amazon link?

Tactical Flashlights


Episode 71 – How to change a tire

Ever gotten a flat and needed to change a tire?

Well you can try “Fix a Flat” or something like it but that doesn’t always work, this is a skill you need to know. Sometimes AAA (aka Triple A) may take hours to arrive.

First perhaps you should check out our sponsor BUBWEB.COM – Website hosting starting at $10 PER YEAR!!! – Go here it helps feed babies (my babies)

Have you ever changed a tire? Well even if you have check out the podcast below, perhaps you will think of something you haven’t thought of before.  Also consider getting a AAA membership to save you the hassle.  If you haven’t ever changed a tire check out the podcast THEN GO PRACTICE SOMEWHERE!!! What if all your tools aren’t there?

Oh look Relevant Amazon.com links!

Tire Repair Products

12 volt air compressor

AAA motor club


Episode 70 – Home Defense Weapons

So Home Defense, something we have talked about several times, this time I mention some alternatives but we really look at the firearms options.
Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle?  Which should we choose, which is best for me and is that what is right for the wife?

Much of this was prompted by watching a couple of YouTube videos by James Yeager of Tactical Response, in my opinion this guy knows his stuff. You may want to consider getting training with him or another training program.  A gun isn’t much good if you don’t know how to use it properly.

HEY our sponsor is BUBWEB.COM – BUBWEB.COM sells little websites (hosting packages) starting at $10 per YEAR!  That is as cheap as you will find, and it is just good stuff.  So check them out and buy a site…. and it kinda feeds my kids so go do that ok?

Check out what I have to say on the podcast, I would get into more detail here but it’s been almost 20 days since I recorded it and I don’t really remember much about the details.

PODCAST BELOW  

WOO that was great, here is some more information, remember to check out the Amazon links, if you buy anything I get a little piece so you know… kids… food….


Episode #69 – Ham Radio

So listen I just watched the Mad Men season premier so I’m about 4 Vodka Gimlets into the evening.  Oh and Joan’s mom is a B***.  Anywhoo I recorded this only 2-3 beers in last week so it should be OK.

So in this episode I discuss Ham radio and it can help us… let’s be honest I only remember it is about Ham Radio at this point….

Check out the podcast below… the little triangle is the play button, you know like on your Cassette player… er DVD  player… OK BLUE RAY?!  Either way it is the next line below… then go below that and look at the links, it kinda pays the bills (not really, but YOU can change that)

So the links…. (remeber clicking an Amazon.com link then buying ANYTHING helps me out)

Alright, go forth and be hamful… that was the worst line I’ve ever typed…. Check out the podcast and whatnot.