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sl-prokeys was born April 5, 1995


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On Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.

The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."

 

The ProKeys Shop

A shop is as good as the people who work in it, of course.  And people can usually do better work with the right tools.

Here's a quick pictorial visit to our ProKeys shop - and some of the useful tools that we just can't do without.

I'll admit it - I must be somehow related to Tim Allen.  There's nothing like having a shop overflowing with every variation of every tool that you can imagine.  When you look at all the tools, it's kind of like imagining a brand new Corvette and a Mercedes parked there. 

click picture for fullsize view

Hand Tools:  Included here are quite a few of our little treasures.  After using some of these tools for 20+ years, I've grown to really love them.  I wouldn't take $200 for my favorite little bent nose plier!  Almost all of our tools are Xcelite, and they've stood up remarkably well for a long, long time.  The Makitas and cordless screwdrivers have probably gone through $500 worth of batteries through the years.  They get used!  For very precise measurements, we have digital calipers and some good stainless rulers, too.

Dremel:  Another really great tool is the Dremel.  Besides use as a hand held, we have a drill press fixture, router table, and a router base fixture, too.  An old Kurzweil sustain pedal volunteered to work as a foot switch.

Shopsmith:  Our Shopsmith is a really neat tool - and it's variable speed, so it allows a lot of flexibility for polishing, wire wheel, drilling, and all the other purposes.  Besides that, it's a table saw, drill press, wood lathe, belt sander, disc sander, and an array of other tools.

Weller Soldering Stations:  I've been using Wellers for a long time.  The cables from the transformer to the pencils were kind of short, so we replaced them with some new 6' cables.  We have dozens of tips in various shapes, sizes, and heat configurations.

Panavise:  This is another tool that we just can't live without.  It tilts, rotates, and swivels, and has a holder which is perfect for working on printed circuit boards.  We also have another small vise - I haven't got a clue who makes it, but it gets plenty of use.

Compressor:  A shop without air is like a shop without air!  This is our 2nd compressor, we also have a smaller 4 HP, 25 gallon portable roll around.  The blue one is 6 HP, 60 gallons, and it does not move.  It weighs about 400 lbs., and I'm not as crazy as some people think.  In the quest for dry air, we ran about 100' of PVC pipe through the attic with gravity traps for water.  We use air with several different tools, including spray guns, airbrushes, grinder, cut off tool, stapler, nailer, and a sand blaster.  Through the years, we've really been amazed at how versatile compressed air can be.  One of our newer additions is the Porter Cable HVLP gravity feed spray gun.  It's really wonderful to use, and sprays very accurately.  We recently added Iwata Eclipse and Badger Crescendo airbrushes to the collection, too.

Meters:  Our Fluke Model 85 is a real versatile DMM which I've used for a long time, and been very satisfied with.  It reads Hz as well as all the regular functions.  Also shown are an inexpensive ECG capacitance meter and a B+K 3001 signal oscillator.  We now have a new Fluke 87 Series III, too, which reads true RMS voltage.

Tektronix 465:  A 1970s kind of scope, the 465 works perfectly for audio type work, which, of course, includes Leslies and Hammonds.  We also have a pretty fair collection of hookups, including Tek P6106 and P6134C probes.

Hickok 539C Tube Tester:  Not too much needs to be said about this tube tester.  It's one of the best in the world.  We're able to test and grade for shorts, heater-cathode leakage, transconductance, plate current, and several forms of gas leakage.  Future plans for this tester include having a new case made to spec.

Storage Wall:  When working on Hammonds and Leslies, it doesn't take very long to collect thousands of little parts and pieces, so a good storage location really helps.  We've got 2 of those great 60 drawer resistor boxes where the labels fall off all over the floor about every 6 months.  And about 100 of those super neat AkroBins which not only hold billions of little parts, but they also get so full of dust that you're not exactly sure what parts are in 'em anyway.  For our electronics stuff, we use some Plano tackle boxes in place of toolboxes, and they serve our purposes just fine.  BUT - we also have the "good ol' boy" model - that 800 lb., two story, roll around, fire engine red monster on 2 ton, ball bearing wheels.  It lives in the compressor room, and it never comes out, either.  We looked at the $32,000 "Super-Pro" model toolboxes, and realized that they could serve not only as a tool box and a dressing room, but they were nearly big enough to live in - just like a small apartment.   

Honesty:  We're not always as organized as it might seem.

 

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