Last weekend, when I was making the drive to Derp Island, deep in the Florida Keys, it was pretty hot but stormy out and I was driving down there with the A/C on in the car set to use outside air, since the air down there is not 97% diesel spooge like it is up on the mainland. As I was going down the road I noticed the A/C started getting slightly warmer, then the airflow abruptly dropped as if the blower was burning out or the system had sucked in rainwater and soaked the cabin air filter. (I’ve had both happen on that car. We wear out A/C system blowers here in South Florida like mad.)
Then smoke blew out of the vents……!!
I pulled off at a gas station, stopped, and was looking around trying to figure out what Let The Smoke Out, unsuccessfully. Then I started the car again and… maddeningly… everything worked fine, although I had the reduced airflow problem every now and then afterwards.
Last night, I was driving down what I like to call Miami-Dade County’s emergency exit (I’m not telling, otherwise EVERYONE will try taking it!). The road was empty and as it started raining, I hit the vent button again. The airflow faded away again after a burst of fog came out of the vents, then the airflow cut back. I suspected a coil freeze. Sure enough.. I turned off the compressor and cold wet air began to gradually blast out of the vents.
Later, with the A/C back on again, the airflow started to fade away… then the engine misfired(??) and shut down impolitely. I shifted into neutral and coasted into a well lit parking lot to investigate. I found three blown fuses.
Now I was thoroughly baffled, why did things SHORT OUT? I pulled the glove compartment off to look at the area where the cabin air filter is, and found that a wiring harness runs along the plastic air duct. Just almost out of view in the center console area, that ran between the duct and a razor sharp edge on the dash frame.
The plastic duct had swollen up from the ice buildup and pinched the harness, cutting into some wires.
Sorry, no pictures as the clearances were insufficient to get my phone into the space. I was working with a flashlight and a dental mirror!
I fixed the issue for the time being with electrical tape and cable ties to hold the harness out of the area where it’d gotten pinched, and cut up a plastic bottle to serve as a protective sleeve.
“Hello, Derp Island Broadcasting, may I help you?”
“Hi, I’m with Papa November Network, and I’m interested in an LMA from your site.”
“Okay. We’ll give you 250 watts ERP from our expertly maintained state of the art transmitter site. However, you may not install remote monitoring here, and if you try to visit the site, you will be run off by our management. But rest assured you’re getting your money’s worth.”
“Hey, can you go check on our station on Derp Island?”
I have screamed internally all I can and now I must shitpost
The one underlying rule of living in Southeast Florida: If you can afford to make life difficult for everyone else, you are required to make this investment.
Examples of this include the pictured Stallonegate, countless ten foot concrete walls in residential areas, the building of condo towers in areas where the infrastructure can’t support them, the entire city of Golden Beach, people paying $14.50 a pop to further encourage the spread of Lexus lanes, etc…
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.)