This WAS a rubber stick on cushion. These are often found as feet on electronic equipment. I actually don’t know why it was ever in there.
It didn’t stop there and ran all the way down the chassis. The first sign of trouble was that I went to pull the scope out of its housing and it just stayed stuck, but then came out with a big SCHLORP sound.
I’ve begun ripping these rubber cushions off my older electronic gear and replacing them with sticky back felt feet if necessary. I wonder if there are silicone rubber equivalents? The silicone rubber keypad on this oscilloscope still works fine despite being made in the early 1990s but that superfluous cushion had to go before. I’m glad I got it before it oozed right out the holes in the back.
As nasty as this would be I’d rather soak in that substance than the contents of the Tesla Dumpster Pool
Last week we had a horribly long engineering staff meeting that basically pointed out to me that we’re all destined to be burned out like our damn transmission line in the coming months. I’m quite done with this. We were promised there’d be big improvements and then saw them yanked away and replaced with the promise of enjoying what will eventually degrade into “Just In Time Scheduling“. Yeah, how about no.
That being said, I’m gonna be exploring other career opportunities with companies that don’t treat their mission critical staff like rodents.
I had such high hopes for this company. It was great…. three mergers, four reductions in force, and one massive consolidation of HR and talent acquisition later. Now it’s just a slow burn of crushing cheapness and presumably, tax writeoffs of everything that doesn’t just get asset stripped.
Anyone interested in having a rather silly but talented engineer come work for them? I have 20 years experience in the field, including TV, FM and AM radio. I’d post a full resume here but I don’t exactly want everyone’s bots to come knocking yet. Also, I shitpost a lot. Maybe I need to write up a public resume in the form of a shitpost. That’d fool all the bots and give me the ability to sneak in cat pictures.
While everyone got spooky for the office Halloween party I just pretty much came as my true usual self. Our CPR instructor called me Sailor Moon and I will be amused by this FOREVER. Spooky Cat just because.
Slightly less glowy “but I can actually see stuff this way” version
So finally all the pieces fell into place and we were able to discover that the issue we had with high VSWR was simply that we were visited by —-
Only consummate V’s will be used within this post as a result.
In all seriousness, this was an effect of climate change!
So, remember this, where the line was sweep tested and a big raunchy fault showed up at 1600 feet?
Here’s the fault:
Yeah, um, this got a little bit hot.
The remains of the inner sections of the line, an insulator that slumped and shrank all weird, and a mostly vaporized “bullet” connector. Here’s a figure of what one would look like if it was not… burninated….
Well, now that’s fixed, but the tower crew found a lot of debris in the line at multiple levels and issues with the hangers. One had a bad case of Spring Fever and some others had alignment problems that kept them from sliding their full range of motion.
This never presented a problem in 25 years of the line being in service…. until climate change threw us a RECORD HIGH heat wave. 118 degrees for several days… the line had never experienced heat that severe, and between that and the hanger misalignment, it caused sections of it to get kinked and that eventually broke the bullet somehow and blew everything up. The failure actually occurred early in the morning after the record heat wave broke and everything began to shrink back into its normal sizes.
Well that was a wild ride.
Now let me explain why I embarassingly fell asleep on the job while getting the transmitter back in order:
This is the most annoying and frustrating interface, I swear. In each of the transmitter cabinets, there are two Power Blocks. Each Power Block (PB) has a Phase and Gain module which is the intermediate power amplifier to drive the other amps in the PB, but instead of it just having three amp pallets in it, it has one preamp module that lets you, well, adjust the Phase and Gain.
On the old Space Station Toilet it had software controlled adjustments in each of its Intermediate Power Amplifiers (IPA) but also a set of manual trombone-slide phase adjusters that worked by being a variable length line in the RF path to it. They were pretty quick and easy to adjust.
This is not. This is very very much not. The way it works is you vary the step size by entering a number in that box, check or uncheck which PBs you want the adjustment to affect, then click the + or – buttons.
The result of your adjustment is reflected by the amount of power dissipated in the combiner reject loads, RL1, RL3, and RL2. RL1 / 3 are the combiners inside each of the cabinets between the two power blocks. RL2 is the one external to the cabinet sitting on top that merges it together. Basically, you want to balance RL1 / RL3 as well as possible, then continue balancing to get the RL2 power to minimum. Finally, in the case of this transmitter since it’s basically two ULXT’s externally combined, you pull up the interface to the Dualtran controller, watch the final combiner reject load power in there, and balance the two sides.
It is a very very very very tedious and slow process, complicated further by the fact that the web interfaces all time out every five minutes and make you log back in, even if you were actively in the process of making an adjustment! Click, click, click, click, BARF. I got to a point where I remember looking at the reject load power and wondering, hey, is that number of millivolts on the meter channel going up or down? I forgot what it just was a second ago, uh…..
Next thing I knew I was looking at the towers from a houseboat on the Sacramento River. Cassie was curled up on my lap and I found myself wondering how we got there and hoping I didn’t have to drive down there because she hates the car. She seemed very content though. I had no idea how I’d gotten there but I figured since it was so nice I shouldn’t really question it. There was a nice cool breeze coming through the windows and birds chirping in the distance. Cassie was watching them intently with her little tail twitching and she was doing the adorable little feline ekekekekekekek back at them.
Then I was just rudely dumped back into the reality that I was still sitting in front of that dumb web interface at the transmitter site. HOW ABSOLUTE DARE? That was so nice! Oh well.
I have yet to get a picture of this because they just both get up, but lately Gingy and Scrappy have been curling up there like a little yin – yang of floofle. So precious.
The SNG truck that wants to try our patience— it just doesn’t wanna finish running all the emissions monitors so it can get a smog check. Supposedly it *only* needs to be driven 400 more miles. Uhhhhhhhhh.
I forget if I’d mentioned just what fun it was to get this line separated and get the test adapter into place but uhhhhhh, it was a battle.
This thing is pretty cute. There’s a long wire that goes up its hoistway and the control panel in the cab, powered by a rechargeable battery (please don’t forget to plug in the charger!) inductively couples to it to send control tones to the box at the bottom and audio to the cab intercom. Somewhere in this system there’s a 2-way radio, I have no idea where, but the Morse code ID from the news department repeater sometimes blasts out of the intercom at the tower base and spooks the hell out of me because I never expect it.
Alas it doesn’t work because somewhere up the tower, a limit switch circuit broke. I’m not sure where but that’s finally supposed to be fixed this week, after which we can have a tower crew figure out what went arcy sparky 1600′ up. The fault is 1700′ from where the test equipment was connected, but that’s subtracting the 100′ or so horizontal run before it meets the tower and goes up.
So speaking of things blowing up, I love it when people send me pictures of PTek gear, it cracks me up to see, uh….
Not a watt comes from that whole stack. Conversely:
That’s a nice amount of power from an amplifier that’s turned off! Oh hi. #fnord
I forget who made that glorious image but I suspect it’s Duffy Toler.
Anyway, that’s there because it started raining here in Northern California. Duckies would be very happy with this. Quack.
The rain has helped damp down the Mosquito Fire threatening the communities up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It’s been really nice, even when it got blindingly thick on the Delta, and came down hard enough one morning to make my drive to work slow. I got there late and found the whole facility in headless chicken mode as an unusual combination of issues with how we procedurally handled breaks on streaming only newscasts caused a big ugly failure on air. We’re producing more live programming for television and streaming than ever and the engineering staff keeps getting smaller and more overstressed and something’s gonna break down eventually. Meanwhile, I was exhausted because I’d been down at the transmitter site late in the evening trying to fix the transmitter side of this hot mess, and I experienced a SMOKE TORNADO as one of the power supplies blew up. Impressive. Seriously impressive. Pictured here: the slowly growing heap of transmitter parts that need to be repaired or replaced.
I continue to be approaching the level of burnout this power supply managed. We had a meeting with local management today and got to express our concerns. Will corporate listen and take action so we don’t just wind up in a downward spiral of cascading failures and increasing understaffing? We can’t just hang on like this forever. This blows serious capaci-smoke.
Big thanks to Dan at GatesAir for offering me useful guidance with this transmitter. His biggest piece of useful advice on the ULXT series: once it’s up and running and fully stable, don’t mess with it, just let it run! Well, I guess we broke that rule of guidance. Really the biggest issue is that the antenna system is unhappy SOMEWHERE, I’m waiting on a tech to come by to sweep it and find the distance to the fault.
What follows this is a big ol’ image dump. Click to be, uh, dumped at I guess.