Oh gee I wonder

Me at the age of 10, watching the computing industry flourish and invite lots of opportunity and innovation: “Wow, this sounds like a fascinating place to work”

Me at the age of 18, watching the computing industry get cost-engineered, offshored, asset-stripped and shoved down a hole in the back of a former mattress factory in India: “Maybe I should use my skills in radio instead…”

Entire broadcasting products industry: *lazily runs out of ideas and switches entirely to mostly software-based products running on a cost-engineered offshore sourced PC for even the most basic and mission-critical systems*

Me at the age of 37: “man, I’m glad COVID-19 mitigation policies required me to be wearing a mask right now, as it just helpfully filtered out all the hot flying ammonia from an exploded Hong Kong fake capacitor”

 

Meet the old Chyron Mosaic. We have replacements to the old Chyron Mosaic racked up and ready to go, except that we were supposed to have Chyron’s assistance in turning up the systems but their support staff (who PREVIOUSLY worked from home all along, best I can tell) were furloughed months ago and have never been brought back to work.

click to read the helpful note I left on the machine

Yesterday it mysteriously dumped a drive in its RAID array, which apparently is not a new thing for it. It has a RAID with five Samsung 512 gig SSDs and one just simply… ceased to be. I pulled the failed drive apart and looked inside but didn’t see any obvious signs of parts being blown up.

today’s weather: blue

The objects below are a mic lavalier clip that simply isn’t strong enough to survive our extremely rigorous use (notably, nobody remembering to unclip it from their jacket before trying to put the mic away?)

Today it started freezing and locked up REALLY nicely to where I had to actually remove and reapply power to the box. Upon reconnecting the cord to the upper power supply, the machine powered up and all the fans came on. Upon reconnecting the lower one, it gave me a Capacitor Money Shot right in the face with the powerful stench of ammonia and metal oxides.

Somehow, though, after about five reboots, it lives just enough to be functional on air. What.

Why is everything on the SHITTIEST PCs imaginable? Sometimes I’m lucky when PC issues arise and it’s something as simple as the damn thing having overheated due to dust accumulation. This weather computer was lucky. One in our other studio just let out very expensive smoke that the vendor is balking at forcing back into it under warranty since the card that smoked went out of production before they even shipped the machine to us and its only replacement is several grand more expensive.

You may notice that in this video, as I take apart the weather computer, not a single thing inside it even remotely resembles industry standard PC parts, aside from the video cards. This Fiorina-Shenzhen (“HP”) workstation contains no standard replaceable parts, not even the cooling fans. They’re all molded into a giant plastic tray that costs several hundred dollars. Last time I had a fan failure on one of these, the tray things were still available. I have no idea if they still are.

The power supplies for the particular flavor of server chassis the Chyron Mosaic was built on are long out of availability and can’t even be opened for repair – they are spot welded shut. This was an “innovation” I first saw on Foxconn provided parts for “HP” servers.

Shift Register Drivers

I’ve been using the Texas Instruments TPIC6595 and TPIC6B595 shift register with high current low-side driver ICs for a while for various tasks, usually driving LED lights and displays.

Someone posted a picture of an old gridless Tung-Sol VFD tube on Facebook and I thought to myself, well…. these are neat, but if you wanted to connect them up to a modern microcontroller, you’d need tons of pins unless you can easily multiplex it. TPIC6B595 wouldn’t really help you here as you’d need to drive +30V or so to the anodes.

I remember trying to figure out if there was a nice convenient high-side equivalent to the TPIC6595 series when playing with flip-dot display panels, and came up with nothing. Well, now I searched it again and came up with the MIC5891 which is exactly that, and it’s good to 35 volts! It’d be perfect for driving the VFD anodes.

The Important Fun Note: Driving a display this way with latched drivers will allow you to achieve a completely flicker-free readout, which is VERY important if you want to have your display appear on screen in film/TV applications! ESE clock displays operate like this (though I seem to vaguely recall they use something like 7490’s behind a set of D latches).

I should have known better.

Well, I made this silly image one day while taking back to back horrible viewer calls over issues with rescanning their TV sets…
Now everyone’s disappointed that every fader cap in the building is not already a small plastic kitty loaf. They want them all to be kitty loaves.

I also want them all to be kitty loaves.

In other news, Facebook blocked me for 24 hours for posting a gif of a cat in a windowsill, claiming it violates their standards on nudity or sexual content. Well, I mean, the cat isn’t wearing any clothes, but then again, most aren’t. I find this fault of machine vision hilarious.

The glow

Me: Yeah, sure, I’m turning the lights off back here every day to save energy, that’s it.

Also me: this is……. the perfect aesthetic


The powerful fiery orange flow at the end of the aisle there comes from a couple of Elemental video streaming encoders. These units have the coolest front panel… it’s got kind of a snap-on tub that covers the front of the machine with an LED strip in it and plugs into a front panel USB on the machine. These have orange hexagons. An earlier version I used at another station had green circular bubbles reminiscent of an unequal sized circle packing algorithm.
I think the three really brilliant spots of blue light are the old Ultimatte keyers.

I dunno, I’d just call up Thanos and surrender

Proof we live in the worst possible timeline:

For the uninitiated, FMUSER is the company behind the atrocious little CZH series FM transmitters that sometimes last for entire days out of the box and obliterate half the band in their vicinity.

Creatures

Hey, where’d everyone go?

While the humans are social distancing and working from home, the turkeys are trying to take over…

Don’t Let The Turkey Drive The Truck!!!

A previous attempt to take this picture led to a weird little toast popup on my phone that said something about saving the photo, I didn’t catch it. Apparently what happened was it got glitched! Excellent.

I actually kinda miss this. I used to have a weird HTC device that’d do this often and it was kinda excellent.

Cassie says hello!
I feel like somehow this “Dynex” CRT television that serves as an extra prompter display will outlive the entire facility

Tuned out

I’m sorry, I can’t put up with listening to the day’s news anymore, it’s all just illogical rubbish, let me just listen to ham radio operators talk on the radio about talking on the radio over a  synthwave soundtrack—

There’s a custom URL option in youarelistening.to but I’m not sure exactly how it works so— try this here. Hit play on this and open the stream link below.

KE6USA Repeater (new window)