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.
Now that I have skin on my hands again and it doesn’t hurt to type this—
Proper acoustic treatment is vital in studio and performance spaces to avoid echoes that will prove destructive to audio quality. Sometimes it’s done right. Sometimes it’s done wrong. To me it’s utter black magic but I know what works for the most part.
The first thing you want to look out for is stray sound entering your studio space. This may be trickier to do unless you’re constructing a studio from scratch. The methods I’ve seen used to great success are either adding insulation batting inside walls as they’re being built, or using cinder block walls to enclose the space instead of hollow. Either way, avoiding the use of walls shared with noisy things like air conditioning units or bathroom plumbing are very good ideas. Don’t use the other side of the wall pictured here if you can avoid it 😉
The second stage in acoustic treatment is to manage reflections within the space. Any hard flat surface within the studio may cause echoes which can become unpleasant and generally make your recordings sound like you’re standing in the shower.
The typical method of dealing with this is to put up some kind of sound absorbing material on the walls. A number of criteria should be considered when selecting your sound absorbing material:
Fire retardant properties
Materials I’ve seen used:
Carpet. Can be obtained anywhere, extremely cheap and actually very durable, since it’s made to be walked on. Works pretty well, but double check that all materials you are using will meet fire code standards for use on a wall. (Carpets may only be rated for proper fire retardant action when installed on a floor, as the flame spread dynamics are a hell of a lot different. Consult the manufacturer and/or their documentation before use.)
You can glue and/or staple it to the wall or even use the self adhesive carpet tiles that peel and stick.
CAN BE CLEANED. This is a big advantage. Over time, airborne contaminants will settle on the wall material and should ideally be removable. I’ve found that in an old studio with textile walls, allergens will gather and cause some people to get sniffly if not removed. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve found that the ideal maintenance interval to vacuum the walls is about 2-6 months. That’s all it takes, actually – just use a vacuum cleaner with a hose and an upholstery attachment and suck the dust out. More major junk may be dealt with using carpet shampoo and a wet/dry vac.
Cloth and Fiberglass. I’ve seen this one in a couple of older studios and it works very well. Small wooden strips were attached to the wall followed by fiberglass batting being installed between them, with a fairly open weave upholstery cloth used to cover it all up. The cloth is finally secured by tacking a small wooden moulding to the wooden strips below it.
Performance is very good. Flame resistance will be identical to that of the upholstery fabric used. Durability isn’t as good; wheeled chairs, furniture, irresponsibly sharp spiked leather gauntlets (of course I say this from experience), and other things can tear the fabric. Repair is easy though.
Cleaning: Can be surface cleaned. I’ve always just used a vacuum – with a HEPA filter just in case glass fibres are released through the surface fabric as you’re sucking the schmutz off. When I’ve done it, I have never noticed glass fibers visible in the vacuum as I cleaned it out – just lots of fine dust and pollen!!
Foam. This is a very common acoustic treatment material and I kind of wish it wasn’t. Performance is good, yes, but durability is totally in the dumper. When it’s new, it’s easy to tear up, especially when…. SOMEONE… decides to get creative and try to hang decorations from it. By the way, don’t cover your acoustic treatments with posters, because the essentially airtight paper of the poster will just form a really nice REFLECTOR, completely defeating the treatment. Some materials have fire retardant ratings, check with the manufacturer.
When it gets old, some foams will just crumble and disintegrate horribly, especially if touched.
Cleaning: …. maaaaaaybe. If you’re lucky.
I’ve had okay luck with vacuuming the surface of Auralex StudioFoam products using a soft bristle brush. Work slowly and gently going along the ridges. In one studio I started doing this and the foam turned from dingy gray to its original burgundy red— I didn’t even know that was the color it was supposed to be! Yeeeechhhhh.
I wouldn’t even try this at all on the type of sound insulation where it has alternating deep, thin vertical and horizontal ridges.
Now here’s where I talk about strange things.
A while back I was in the studio of The Jeff Adams Show and as soon as I walked in, I saw his wall panels and couldn’t believe my eyes. They’re wood! They did not contribute to any unpleasant echoes, yet had a little bit of a warm reverberation. You can see one in this picture: I didn’t get a closeup picture of the panels when I was there, but they did not have a smooth planar surface. The different planks are overlapped forming a convoluted surface, which would contribute to diffusion instead of a clean surface reflection. Notice the mic he’s holding here – that’s a Heil PR 40 cardioid dynamic that is just INSANELY sensitive. You’d almost think it’s a condenser (I mean— it kind of even looks like one). The Heil PR 40 is NOT forgiving to bad room acoustics. It proves that these funky wooden wall panels work perfectly as an acoustic treatment!
In contrast, the Electro-Voice RE20 that’s used at close proximity by a lot of radio jocks couldn’t care less what your room acoustics are like as long as you aren’t in an all glass aquarium or something.
The same soft vacuum brush cleaning I mentioned above will work if they ever start to gather dust. Since he’s doing video on the same set, avoiding lighting glare is definitely a plus – they’re not shiny in any way.
Now, you may have a sick curiosity and wonder what the first sentence of this post is all about. Well…. I had to displace some very old carpet on a wall at work to hide a cable behind it, and I don’t know if it was the 20+ years of old crud built up in the carpet, the glue that held it to the wall, or a likely combination of both, but something caused a very bad reaction on the skin on my hands that caused it to blister, crack, and weep as if it had been severely burned.
If you’re really curious, I have a picture of the results here. Content warning: extremely gross. There’s good reason I put /nope/ in the URL. It’s mostly healed now and all that remains is a little redness. That week sucked, man.
A lot of FM broadcast transmitters (and who knows, maybe even TV, AM….?) use a tetrode or pentode tube based power amplifier. Control of the final output power is achieved by metering the output and adjusting the voltage to the screen of the tube, thus adjusting the amplifier’s gain.
On a lot of transmitters this gets done electromechanically. In this case this is done using a Variac or variable transformer, but in some smaller rigs (2.5, 2KW, and below?) a rheostat voltage divider may be used.
In the above picture, the screen voltage is all the way up for maximum gain. This occurred as the result of the tube wearing out and its cathode emission going soft, so the automatic power control kept trying to run the gain up higher and higher to maintain the desired power output until the poor little motor tanked.
Now a word on folksonomies and genericized trademarks. You may notice I capitalized Variac. This was originally a trademark held by the General Radio Company with first use in 1933. It was allowed to expire, probably by the end of 1994. Variac, however, kind of became a household word (if you could call a variable autotransformer a household item?) like Band-Aid, Xerox copy, Jello, and the like. Within the folksonomy of electronics there are a few things that have become genericized like this and it may be easier to categorize information involving them by an old brand name. Other examples would include “Black Beauty” capacitors which were a Bakelite encased oil and paper cap, Vactrol for light variable resistor type optocouplers usable for audio and analog signals…. Sorry for geeking out worse than usual here. Anyway, with the Variac / variable autotransformer…
Shown here, a Harris HT 25 FM. This is very very similar to the FM 25 K series and was made like this for years, because once Harris had a design that worked very well, there was no reason to make big changes. I bet they made thousands of these transmitters and many of them are still happily thrumming along to this day.
The mechanism is simple but prone to issues, especially if the automatic power control is used. Here’s the problem: Every change in line voltage, even a change in output impedance caused by rain or ice hitting the antenna, may cause the power to fluctuate. The controls compensate by moving the mechanism, and eventually something gives.
The original mechanism used this unusual bidirectional synchronous motor geared down to 0.5 RPM, running on 120 volts AC. This motor is discontinued by Hurst, though they’re still around and still have a somewhat similar product. However, it has to be custom manufactured with a lead time of 14 weeks, and nobody just has stock of ’em.
The solution: get to hackin’. First, a control system to step this down to a commonly available DC gear motor:
And now comes the fun part. The DC motor’s shaft is fatter and shorter, but it’ll work! Here’s the original shaft coupling it goes into and the Variac. Off to the right is the transformer that steps 240VAC up to 1000VAC. Or maybe it’s 707VAC if it just uses the peaks. I dunno, man. It Just Works.
There’s also a silvery looking band wrapped around it with one of the two end stop screws. More on that later. I removed all the grubscrews for safe keeping.
The bronze coupling drills like a hot knife going through butter, albeit with a disturbing squeaky sound.
This is how the stop screws are installed from the factory. They hit the micro switches under the mounting plate to limit the motor’s travel.
Now, you’ll notice the new motor’s shaft is shorter. Under the silver band there’s another pair of set screws that clamped the old motor’s shaft. However, the hole the stop screw is in is tapped exactly the same as that set screw hole.
Flippity flop ’em.
The silver band will just cover up the set screw down the upper hole once it’s all assembled.
Trust me— it works fine.
And no, of course the silly thing didn’t spin in the vise, what ever made you think that? No, of course not! DURRRRRRRRR
Here’s the mounting plate. I expanded the hole where the original shaft went down to 1/2 inch, and wound up just drilling two new mounting holes and using the side mounting holes in the gearbox.
This motor also provided three tapped screw holes in the bottom, but I didn’t wind up using them. If I had this to do over I’d probably do it though. They’re Metric and I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what the screw sizes are. M2? M3?
And it’s up and running.
If I had it to do over I might slightly revise the motor mounting as I don’t entirely like the amount of slop the rubber grommets induce in the system, but it works– and it doesn’t hunt back and forth. The Variac requires a very small amount of torque to turn it (I could grab that axle with two fingers gently and turn it throughout its full range). The DC motor I used is impossible to turn by hand so I brought a 9v battery to hold against the terminals as an assembly aid to reach all the set screws. 😉
And now I need to redo my nails.
So I’m trying to get SSL certificates working for kg4cyx.net and am currently having little luck. I’ll revisit that later. For now you can get here by https but get a huge certificate mismatch error all up in yo’ grill and I don’t even know– probably has something to do with the fact certbot can’t figure out my vhosts. According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.
This Ryobi pack wouldn’t take a charge. After removing the “tamper proof” Torx screws I had my answer as to why: one cell had gone out of whack and fallen to 1.2 volts or so.
I tried boosting it up a little to see if it’d come back but the charger only ran for about a minute. I know, terrible idea, yada yada…
The protection/balancing board is neat. It’s got some kind of serial data connection on it (which doesn’t go to the tool, it’s for factory test/calibration) and two BIIIIG MOSFETs on a heatsink that I’ll be stealing for use in other adventures. But alas, this pack, it’s pining for the fjords.
Lithium ion batteries are kinda known to have a shelf life, so it’s not entirely unexpected that it’d go after a few years.
This one’s probably been around the block a few times. I was initially kinda worried because the fins looked roughed up but after some unscientific testing to make sure I could blow through them and fit a cable tie down between the fins to ensure there was a good pathway, I went ahead and installed it, and it came up just fine with a perfectly good stack temperature…
NO EXCUSES ON DA BOWL
The old tube went soft pretty quick. Don’t they have pills for that now?
And here’s what that goes in, a Harris/GatesAir 25,000 watt FM transmitter.
To swap it, you release a hose clamp holding a big collet on the movable top plate of the cavity so you can slide that plate blocker/chimney up, then release the hose clamp holding it to the tube (bottom), slide it up then clamp it again out of the way. Then you can carefully disconnect the plate voltage supply cap and somersault the tube upside down above the socket and remove it. I wish I’d taken a video of how bizarre this all looks.
Cooling air is forced both through holes in the socket and out of the cavity through the tube’s plate cooler after entering from the blower duct.
The two big fat orange wires – GatesAir / Gates / Harris Broadcast really likes that fat orange wire – are the filament supply, 10vdc Max at 150 amps. The HV, ~9500vdc at about 3 amps and change, comes in on a piece of RG-213 coax from this off board power supply.
A little dust but not too bad. The dust seemed to really like gathering on anything live with plate voltage. Eww. A more through cleaning will occur soon.