This has been a bad week when it comes to things full of water.
First, early in the week, I was walking down a corridor at work when a big fat raindrop got me right in the eye. I jumped a little and this caused my shoes to hydroplane on the wet floor.
Upon further inspection, it was coming from a large overhead AC unit. The drain was clogged. I used a wet vac to clean up and finally to forcibly blow the snot rocket out of the line.
Then the toilet tank in my apartment spontaneously cracked open and tried to start a flood. It started with a bang, ended with the somber howl of a Home Depot cheapie wet vac.
Then I was informed that water was pouring thunderously down the side of the building while I was at work. The fault was one we’re not unfamiliar with.
The thing in the foreground is a large ballcock like that which would fill your toilet. Something was wrong inside it and it wouldn’t stop gushing so I reduced the water flow to it from a roaring geyser to a smaller, “someone left the sink on” flow and went back inside.
Later, the 11 pm news had just ended when I heard a very odd noise in the building and started trying to track it down. My first thought was maybe the water level in the tower had fallen, but there was still water pouring off the roof, so that couldn’t be it. It seemed like a lot, actually. And that’s when the temperature alarms started going off….
I switched on a backup ac for our most critical server room and took a look at the pool on the roof. The first thing I noticed was it was overflowing but I didn’t hear much water flow in it and the fan wasn’t on. I peeked inside again and realized that this time I couldn’t see the sieve at the bottom anymore. I opened the filler valve back up full blast so I could also use the garden hose up there.
Uh oh. I located a stick and started poking around. I found the sieve had become totally occluded with a mat of algae.
Scrape Schlorp Bloop Slurp Squirt, squirt Chatter Bang Gurgle
The next thing I knew, I was looking at the sieve…. but no water. It was running down there as fast as it filled the basin, but now it was also raining down through the fill like it should, albeit slowly.
It continued to do this a while as the entire system refilled.
My only thought is that the entire system had basically started sucking air back through the overflow pipe adjacent to the main drain/return as the sieve plugged, and the pumps had cheerfully returned all the water back to the overflowing tower until there was just about nothing left but the small amount needed to churn back and forth in the pumps and make awful sounds.
Once refilled, I found all the AC units cooling once again, and the awful sounds absent.
But why the slime? There’s a system to prevent that….
The barrel. What’s in it?
Nothing. In fact there’s algae in the barrel itself…
Algae and calcium build up all over
A pump that sounds fouled
And a cool looking skyline
So at least there’s that
Also, for no good reason one of the air handlers seems to have experienced an accidental thrust reverser deployment and yacked all over the place
And it’s still pissing itself. At least everything is staying cool…
Good night from beautiful Broadcast Key, Miami, Florida.
Speaking of damsels in distress, let me digress a moment and share with you one of the fucking creepiest ad campaigns I’ve ever seen:
This shit makes me cringe so hard in so many ways, but— I’m not one to speak, I’m just the engineer.
So, since the last time I’ve yelled obscenities at the wall about this thing, they’ve released some informative graphics on the project:
The Graham Project is just fucking stupid. Do you really want to live there and find yourself locked up in 1-5 hours of traffic just to get to anything as common as a full sized grocery store? Great! You’ll love this place. The only planned access appears to be by the feeder roads to the mall.
And now, site leasing plans revealing an interior floor plan!
The ski slope looks like a robot dick. I’m sorry. It does. There’s no denying that.
And now, here is why this shit will fail and fail hard.
Miami-Dade County’s economy has been in a meltdown since the mid 1990s that is now almost complete. Miami’s got effectively two classes: The rich, who either come from old money, own big foreign corporations…. and those who attempt to make a living working in what businesses are left in Miami-Dade County, or— the flat broke.
Studies have shown that Miami is one of the least affordable cities to live in (or around). Rental housing? Forget it. You pretty much need to be ready to buy a property to live in Miami-Dade County, and you need to be ready to buy that in cash, because you will be competing with foreign cash buyers for that property who just want to sit on it to pad their portfolio with some crap houses that keep a more or less stable value.
Nobody who is going to work in this shit show will be able to afford to live in Miami-Dade County.
Nobody who is going to work in this shit show will be able to afford the time and expenses to commute from anywhere that housing still remains affordable.
And, most importantly:
RETAIL IS DEAD. DEAD. DEAD AS FUCK. STICK A FORK IN IT, IT IS FUCKING DONE.
Yes, I realize the alternate use of this little fuckball is that it contains a half assed “theme park” and water park in its two large open spaces, in addition to what appears to be a specially constructed lake where you can… go fishing?? I don’t get it. Also, where’s the water coming from? If you’ve seen my previous posts on this cocksplat of a plan, I’ve brought up the question of where they’re going to get water. Florida is in drought again this spring, and we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. I hope you’re ready to deal with begging for sustenance from the Department of Water and Power. 😉
FUUUUCK THIS NOISE.
Triple Five group made a half assed promise to run shuttle service between several existing transit hubs to alleviate the congestion. That… just won’t do a thing. They would have likely run shuttles anyway for tourists – Dolphin Mall and Sawgrass Mills have had airport shuttles for years. They transport a few dozen shoppers back and forth a day and that’s about it.
If you’re a Miami native, please try to jog your frame of mind and look at this like an outsider to see how fucking ridiculous it is–
The site of an abandoned RC Cola factory managed to become the preferred site for music festivals and performances. It’s all outdoor – in Florida – no climate control, not even a proper toilet. And now… everything around the abandoned RC Cola plant is HOT SHIT. Just like what’s inside the RC Cola Plant’s portapotties.
So now the plan is, redevelop this area with high density luxury housing, multi-million dollar condos, and high end designer retail that nobody will be able to afford to shop at. Also, the buzzwords “trade center” were thrown out there, but look at every other “trade center” project that’s been attempted in Miami. The “trade center” never materializes and all winds up being “empty-ass class C office space” or ballrooms or other under-utilized shit.
What in the actual fuck are you thinking? This is like Brickell City Centre run through a few funhouse mirrors. Unlike the Brickell City Centre, it doesn’t connect to Metromover, so there’s no easy way to just stroll right on in there.
This isn’t … gentrification. This is just plain dropping a Daisy Cutter on the neighborhood and telling everyone fuckety bye. So much for that art community that drew everyone to the area – this will surely make the spaces they work in more valuable as valet parking spots than studios. Oopsie! I’d heard rumblings that there was an effort to provide artists new spaces over in Opa-Locka before everyone just runs out of money and leaves forever, but that’s… Opa-Locka… and safely preparing that space for new use will probably require actual Daisy Cutters.
So previously I’d also questioned the redevelopment of two sites in Broward – the old Plantation Fashion Mall site and the old Boomer’s Dania– those… those seem almost… well designed in comparison. Both are infill developments slated to be mixed use with janky condominium housing and very limited road access. But at least… at least they have road access… and aren’t expected to be quite the same sort of massive overload on the surrounding areas.
Holy shit, nobody has even a sixty fourth of a fucking clue here.
Fine stranded 16 gauge electrical wire (as opposed to the thick stranded THHN type stuff you’d run through conduits in a wall)
I had a fun time calling around this morning to find this out– Grainger only has two locations left around here, and even the sales lady on the phone was surprised by this. She was used to South Florida having a ton of them a few years back. I first learned of the Richmond Heights one having closed up shop when my last brush with high energy explosion happened… Luckily the one remaining location happened to have a VFD in stock I could use. Phew.
Grainger were the only ones who would be able to get the fuse holder here next day because they had them in a warehouse in Orlando (they also have their own trucks, so I’m confident it didn’t get melted down in Hialeah in the UPS warehouse fire). They had TWO in stock, dashing my plans to get three matching ones for the 3-phase VFD— oh well, different fuse holders but same fuses, whatever works for now. A 3 pole fuse holder would have had to ride the slow boat from China, just like if I’d wanted three of the single pole ones.
What bugs me is I USED to have the exact fuse holders I would have needed but threw them out last year, trying to reduce the size of my collection of parts I thought would be easy to buy again if needed.
Anyway, here’s the beautiful mess that inspired me to get very mad this morning while standing in front of a voltageless robot.
The problem: VFD controller smoked out. I didn’t take any pictures of the outside of the controller for it looked unremarkable save the “MOFF” error flashing. It looked like “ПOFF” due to the limitation of it having only a 7-segment readout, more rambling on that later. It might as well have said “F.OFF” though. The error meant it wasn’t getting sufficient voltage on the internal DC buss.
A quick primer on how VFD drives work:
On this inverter, the high energy semiconductor devices for the rectifier and the inverter were neatly built into one easy to deploy little module by Infineon, an EasyPIM series module.
I’ve seen similar modules in several VFD drive products. They contain multiple transistors and diodes coupled thermally (but not electrically) to a backing plate for heatsinking purposes. To avoid undue stress to the semiconductor junctions, they are filled with a curious sort of…. snot.
Sorry if I’m grossing you out, but touch it sometime, it’s really reminiscent of a sticky booger.
A similar product to that is Raychem’s “GelGuard” which I’ve seen used in outdoor telephone connectors. Very weird stuff.
Here’s… what was left of the module… This is 180 degrees to the layout of the diagram above, more or less, and I picked away the blackened snot to reveal what…. DID NOT remain…
The obliterated parts are the rectifier diodes. Even though only four of the six were used in circuit due to this being a single phase drive, the remaining two were blasted to smithereens by excessive reverse voltage. The IGBTs at left (right in the diagram) that control the outputs look pristine and would probably even test good. Sorry, too lazy to whip out the ESR meter. (Does that even work on high voltage IGBTs?)
The CPU block in the above diagram is the timekeeper of the operation. It reads in whatever form of commands the unit is set to accept as to which direction and speed to run the motor. It also monitors several analog values throughout the unit – voltages, current levels, and temperatures – and can adjust its operation to protect itself and the motor if necessary by throttling back the amount of power it sends to the motor or shutting down if necessary. In this case, it was successfully detecting the lack of high voltage DC to run the drive and just wouldn’t do nuffin’.
Now if the damage had been confined to the module – that’s actually a standard part from Infineon and could probably just be ordered, buuuut—-
Yeah, this let it all right. It almost looks like the conformal coating tried to contain the Magic Smoke, and maybe even flashed over? The two line fuses for the drive were blown so something fun must have happened on the board itself. If the rectifier had just failed short, I would have expected ONE of the two to have gone, not both simultaneously. Flash to ground probably got the other one.
The client has been having a drive blow up every three months or so!! I’m going to retrofit the machine for him with some BIG HONKIN’ SURGE PROTECTION. After his first VFD blowout he called in Florida Plunder & Loot who did *something* to adjust his line voltage, but it’s still mega nasty. I’ll put the scope across it before installing the new drive and likely cringe so hard my face freezes that way for life.
Amazingly the drive still powered up, scrolled “HELLO” before going to “MOFF”, and I was able to get all the settings from it via the front panel user interface. See the small transformer at top left on the board? I suspect there’s a separate switcher power supply just for the CPU and logic that allowed for this even though the HVDC system was blown to bits.
And herein is another bit of rambling: The user interface on VFDs, for the most part, royally sucks. You’re presented with a menu system on the front panel which gives you anywhere from about a dozen to *HUNDREDS* of parameters, identified only by number. You have to break open the manual and go through dozens if not hundreds of pages of crap if your setup is in any way complicated. Fortunately THIS ONE IS NOT. This one was simply being driven by a +24vdc trigger to turn the motor on, and 0-10 volts DC to control the frequency between 0 and 60 hz. But still— Nice features I’ve seen in some units: Danfoss and Cutler-Hammer VFDs have a small control module that speaks plain English to you. Some other controllers (I’m unsure what brands off the top of my head) save the parameters to a small serial EEPROM or even an industry standard memory card, so if your drive does— this— you just swap the card into the new one and you’re ready to spin again.
An important word on the “Death Caps”:
THIS NAME IS NOT UNDESERVED
The capacitors inside a VFD drive will retain potentially lethal voltages FOR A VERY LONG TIME after power off. Even if they are discharged, they may exhibit a peculiar self-recharging phenomena where a stored charge in the electrolyte partially recharges the cap to dangerous levels again. Always discharge caps and test before touching! On a small self contained drive you cannot get in contact with the caps without disassembling the unit; however, I’m aware of there being larger units where the DC section is a separate unit and those can probably really get you. TEST FIRST. Also, if you are storing a spare unit, be sure to check the manufacturer’s directions on maintaining the capacitors!! Most say to power the drive up every year or so to keep the capacitors “formed”. If you suddenly connect power to a drive that’s been stored too long, EXPLOSIVE capacitor failure may occur. If you’ve got one that’s been sitting, consult the manufacturer’s directions for reforming. If unsure, use a Variac to slowly bring the voltage up, or put a small incandescent light bulb in series to limit the current. (The drive should draw almost nothing if it’s just powered up and not doing anything.)
I’m archiving the following here because it’s appeared and disappeared from the GOP web site and it should never be forgotten as a shining example of what our current political environment is capable of…. It’s an inexcusable cross between a badly devised push poll, pissing and moaning, and rattling a mug for donations. Please feel free, if it still exists at this time, to fill it out, just in case the data does go anywhere. If they’ve taken the survey down *again*, you’ll just be dumped at a fundraising page. Most of the truthful answers are “no” as I recall. I can’t remember exactly how I answered because I was groaning at it too much. Some of the questions are so badly twisted they don’t even make sense. This is beyond any even remote hopes of being scientifically valid and useful.
By the way, wonderful comedian Colin Mochrie pointed out that Donald Trump is an anagram of Lord Dampnut. I use that now.
Mainstream Media Accountability Survey These questions have three options: Yes / No / No Opinion
Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?
Do you trust MSNBC to report fairly on Trump’s presidency?
Do you trust CNN to report fairly on Trump’s presidency?
Do you trust Fox News to report fairly on Trump’s presidency?
On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans? (Select as many that apply.)
Second Amendment rights
Which television source do you primarily get your news from?
Do you use a source not listed above?
Which online source do you use the most?
All following questions except the last one have four answers: Yes, No, No Opinion, Other – Please specify, with a text box.
Do you trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?
Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?
Do you believe that the media unfairly reported on President Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting people entering our country from nations compromised by radical Islamic terrorism?
Were you aware that a poll was released revealing that a majority of Americans actually supported President Trump’s temporary restriction executive order?
Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?
Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, raising taxes does not create jobs?
Do you believe that people of faith have been unfairly characterized by the media?
Do you believe that the media wrongly attributes gun violence to Second Amendment rights?
Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement?
Do you believe that the media uses slurs rather than facts to attack conservative stances on issues like border control, religious liberties, and ObamaCare?
Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans against each other in order to help elect Democrats?
Do you believe that the media creates false feuds within our Party in order to make us seem divided?
Do you believe that the mainstream media has been too eager to jump to conclusions about rumored stories?
Do you believe that if Republicans were obstructing Obama like Democrats are doing to President Trump, the mainstream media would attack Republicans?
Do you agree with the President’s decision to break with tradition by giving lesser known reporters and bloggers the chance to ask the White House Press Secretary questions?
Do you agree with President Trump’s media strategy to cut through the media’s noise and deliver our message straight to the people?
Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?
Paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.
If you are a US licensed amateur radio operator, please take a moment to read the following:
FCC Part 97.205
§ 97.205 Repeater station.
(a) Any amateur station licensed to a holder of a Technician, General, Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator license may be a repeater. A holder of a Technician, General, Advanced or Amateur Extra Class operator license may be the control operator of a repeater, subject to the privileges of the class of operator license held.
(b) A repeater may receive and retransmit only on the 10 m and shorter wavelength frequency bands except the 28.0-29.5 MHz, 50.0-51.0 MHz, 144.0-144.5 MHz, 145.5-146.0 MHz, 222.00-222.15 MHz, 431.0-433.0 Mhz, and 435.0-438.0 Mhz segments.
(c) Where the transmissions of a repeater cause harmful interference to another repeater, the two station licensees are equally and fully responsible for resolving the interference unless the operation of one station is recommended by a frequency coordinator and the operation of the other station is not. In that case, the licensee of the non-coordinated repeater has primary responsibility to resolve the interference.
(d) A repeater may be automatically controlled.
(e) Ancillary functions of a repeater that are available to users on the input channel are not considered remotely controlled functions of the station. Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible.
(g) The control operator of a repeater that retransmits inadvertently communications that violate the rules in this part is not accountable for the violative communications.
Part H omitted because it is not relevant here but you must refer to it if you’re near Arecibo Observatory.
So now we continue.
The Florida Repeater Council was originally established to fill a need to facilitate the voluntary frequency coordination between amateur radio repeaters. This ensures that repeaters on the same or adjacent channels do not interfere with the use of one another and promotes more reliable communications using the repeaters.
In addition, as the coordination agency recognized by the American Radio Relay League, they supply their coordinated repeater listings for inclusion in ARRL publications such as the neat little pocket repeater directory books.
Unfortunately, at some point, egos flared, communication broke down, and it became the worst sort of bullshit secret society. (Communication? People using amateur radio are supposed to— communicate?)
I first became aware of this as an ongoing problem as early as 2000. At the time there were a lot of hams active in the Miami-Dade community and the need was there for several good repeaters with countywide and wide area coverage. When the trustees of these repeaters were approaching the Florida Repeater Council for coordination, either nothing would happen… or they would get coordination, but only if they were personal friends of the then regional coordinator, Nilo W4HN. Very mysterious.
For a while the FRC also had a statement on their website that suggested that uncoordinated operation of an amateur radio repeater was in violation of federal law. This statement is perfectly negated by the actual federal law, which I have included above for your convenience. Read it if you haven’t already. Trust me, FCC Part 97 is the LEAST painful piece of the FCC rules I have ever read. This was removed after a couple of years and I’m not sure exactly when, so I can’t put up a link to it for you to laugh at them with right now. Oh well.
After a couple years of frustration with this, some of my friends who were being repeatedly screwed over by the FRC by not receiving coordination and then having highly, uh, effective, Papertron 4000* repeaters coordinated onto the same frequencies they applied for, they attempted to attend the FRC’s regular yearly meeting at the Melbourne Hamfest to complain and attempt to get this fixed while they were there in person.
Well…. the meeting was also a mere piece of paper, in a sense. The Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society had assigned them a time and a forum room at the hamfest. As I recall, it was something like Saturday at 2 PM.
Saturday at about 10:30 AM, an announcement went out over the Melbourne Civic Auditorium’s PA system that the FRC meeting was due to begin in five minutes. The forum room was currently occupied with another event, and none of the FRC board of directors were in attendance. 15 minutes or so into the meeting, it was announced where they were—
At a hotel conference room about a half hour drive away.
Needless to say, nobody was very pleased with them for this.
Eventually Nilo retired his position as director for our region, and the Dade Radio Club of Miami recommended that I apply for this position. I sent off an email to the president of the FRC (now deceased, listed as deceased but still as president on the FRC webpage and never replaced because they haven’t held elections in over a decade.)
We continued to have no coordinator for a couple of years, and during this time, not only were new coordinations impossible, but existing coordinations wouldn’t even expire if the trustees were not sending in updates or notified the council that they were unable to continue operations! Not to turn this into YET ANOTHER “Miami-Dade sucks moldy donkey nuts” post, but around this era, access to good repeater sites was very rapidly dwindling away to nothing due to property flipping, so there was just almost nowhere to put them. Yet, they continued on forever on paper. (This is what I was getting at with that “Papertron” comment above.) There were PAGES of paper repeaters, especially on the 70cm band.
I heard nothing back for about a day then my phone rang off the hook. I got calls and emails from each of the directors insulting and berating me for daring to apply for this position, as to be qualified as a member of the FRC, I would need to be trustee of a previously coordinated repeater, and by attempting to join incorrectly I was now permanently disqualified from ever coordinating one.
I have never answered a caller with that much FCC part 97.113(a)4 disapproved language before. Here I was politely offering to volunteer to assist in coordination activities and they saw this as if a personal attack. Amazing.
You can see above that there is one actual coordinator listed, Dana. Dana holds ALL the data on FRC coordinations, and he was very difficult to work with. If he left, so did every repeater coordination in the state. And that’s … likely what would happen.
Finally, after the FRC’s dealings got even uglier, an effort was coordinated to bring about reform to the organization. They met at the Orlando Hamcation and pulled some of their old tricks – change of venue AND started the meeting earlier than the published time. What happened there was spectacular — the board of directors decided to eject all members (who were paying dues to be in there!). Since this meeting I’m told they’ve also been searching out the hams who joined the petition for reform and removing their repeater coordinations. This is going to be uhhhh grrrrrrrr-eat for the data they supply to the ARRL.
So where does this leave amateur radio in Florida?
…. The same place where it always was. Loss of a repeater coordination organization actually makes almost no difference. The bands just aren’t that clogged, and there just aren’t that many places to put up repeaters, so with a bit of due care, hams can work together to avoid interference between their repeater systems. If you’re not sure if a pair is in use, listen to it for a while, at least with a good mobile radio (driving to the top of a tall parking garage can help).
And, for that matter, if you have an active repeater – PUBLISH IT! There are several directories that are community based. RepeaterBook.com and RadioReference.com should be used, among others. If you run an open repeater and it uses CTCSS access, set the ID to tell listeners which tone to use, or follow the standard for your area. To be honest, while the little pocket books from the ARRL were neat, their use and relevance has faded nowadays.
And don’t send your contact information to the FRC if you don’t want angry phone calls. Been there, done that, laughed my ass off at them behind their backs.