Wyness? Why not? WHY?

I was cleaning up and found an old Six-Letter usb charger that I remembered having removed from service but I couldn’t remember why. I opened it up and got a clue right away.

The unpopulated spots on the bottom are for the very important AC line noise filter to keep the high frequency switching pulses from the switch mode power supply from escaping into the house wiring and causing a myriad of interference to tv/radio reception and audio systems (among other things). In many cheap and nasty power supplies that have gone through quality fade, you will find this same issue. What should have been there is a common mode choke that looks like a small transformer, and a safety capacitor. The safety capacitor in this case is one rated to fail non-catastrophically if it suffers a short across its dielectric or a massive over current event from a surge.

Example of a better quality supply’s ac input stage. The common mode choke is seen above, along with several safety capacitors (the white blocks and blue cap at lower right), an inrush current limiter (green, bottom center) and a metal oxide varistor (black, next to ac input plug).

Let’s have a look under the board. On a lot of the supplies I’ve seen cheapened like this, two wire jumpers bypass out the common mode choke. The way this works is it’s basically two inductors wound back to back. Any noise common to both sides is attenuated by being magnetically cancelled out. Neat trick, right? Well, it is if you don’t —-

… you know, cancel out the whole filter entirely

Oopsie poopsie they made a fucky wucky! A real fucko boingo…. No wait, they didn’t, they just didn’t even want to have to change the build of the supply when they ripped out the inductor. The traces just cross over where it would have been inserted into the circuit. Cute. I’m guessing if they ever had to submit a sample of one of these to a potential reseller who was going to run it through EMC testing, they would have added the missing choke and capacitor and cut the shorting traces… then followed up with a production run missing all the parts when the actual order came in.

Of course, the fact this was directly sold via Amazon using a random, rotating six letter brand name, likely appended to a stolen ASIN (don’t even get me started) suggests the risk of anyone ever bothering to test one is approximately zero. I’m pretty sure if it didn’t get banished due to massive electrical noise issues, that unhappy looking melted diode at D1 probably got it hucked unceremoniously in what was supposed to be an e-waste box that I forgot to take for disposal.

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHVAC

This post contains large amounts of angry hissing and swearing. You’ve been warned.

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I was doing the weekly inspection checklist at the transmitter site when this….. Space Station Toilet….??? went thunk, plunk, and cycled out of Beam On. The display forlornly moaned of a low anode coolant flow alarm. I know the issue is with the flow sensor.

It’s in the middle of all this so I did not try to undertake the replacement single handedly. Look at this glorious mess!!!

But then my attention was drawn to the fact that it started getting warmer in the room… and it just kept getting warmer. Luckily, it was about 68 outside with a strong Delta Breeze, so I just opened all the doors and started to investigate the attempted thermal runway. On the roof I peeked into one of the large RTU (Roof Top Unit) air conditioners and saw a winter wonderland of ice. Hmm.

Hurrrfdongs

Not good. So why’s this thing icing up? It’s practically brand new! I called the HVAC company we have a service contract with and their dispatcher literally told me she was going to see if anyone felt like helping us out today. (No.)

Time to gather tools and investigate.

Ahhh! Copeland Popsicles!

Definitely a low head pressure situation… but why? Remember, PV=nRT even for insufficient levels of T[emperature], so maybe it’s just running too cold due to low heat input into the system. Let’s open up the other side…

Oh. You know, I don’t think that belt is supposed to be flopping around like a rubbery hula hoop.

Note three things in this photo: 1) motor sheave spinning. 2) fan sheave barely spinning. 3) harder to see but— water flying everywhere including spraying on that poor little ABB drive!

Click, power down, go gather more tools, climb up and down the ladder about a zillion times…

I set the thermostat below to system off / constant fan and properly tensioned the belt, which DerpCo HVAC’s techs do not know how to do… At all… then restore power.

No windy whirly. Just freezy fuckery.

The fan didn’t start. The little ABB drive’s cooling fan wailed, but it just wasn’t coming on. Why? Finally on a whim I twisted the red and green thermostat wires together and it ramped politely up to full blast with no slippage. Guess the thermostat just isn’t letting constant fan be a thing. That’s fine…

This economizer reminds me of that enormous gear Charlie Chaplin gets rolled across.

Slowly but surely, the room temperature started creeping down.

I always wonder if I’d get in trouble for naming and shaming DerpCo HVAC. They’re a large, probably national company, and are far more interested with their prime directives of union busting and bumping out any employees with seniority than they are with providing proper service to their customers. I hate dealing with DerpCo mostly, though they have *one* tech locally who actually knows what they’re doing.

hp Instant Ink Tehpwnzriation

So I’ve known about the HP Instant Ink program for a while and I always hated it. Basically it gives you DRM encumbered ink cartridges as a service, which HP can disable at any time… Yeah uh… No thanks

This requires the printer and/or drivers to phone home to hp all the time, I never really thought of the mechanics of this until I saw someone post this response from Fiorina-Shenzhen, I mean, “hp” support ….

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

I don’t even have words to describe how terrible an idea this is and how terrible their product design is if it requires this. And yes… I’m sure that firmware can be exploited rotten for entry and lateral movement upon your network once you fucking DMZ your goddamn inkstortion device. Have I said fuck enough times? No. Fuck this actual shit!!!

Picture somehow related, I’m sure

Brand HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Oh, I have such a love-hate relationship with some manufacturers.

Now… I had previously made a vague shitpost while working on a Harris Apex A2X exciter. This would have dated back to, well, when they were Harris Broadcast before the spinoff that left them independent as GatesAir, with another division becoming Imagine Communications

Imagine Communications…. Because they aren’t necessarily ever going to work outside of your vivid imagination

Anyway let’s just get right into YELLING IN BROADCAST ENGINEER. First stop: The Apex M2X oscillator board.

Frequency stability is vital to generating a good solid digital TV broadcast signal. The Apex M2X features a disciplined OCXO (Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillator) with several options as to how to ensure proper longterm calibration – it has a GPS receiver, 10 Mhz external reference, and 1 PPS external reference options provided. More on OCXO references here (this describing a more basic, free-running one, without sync inputs). However, the OCXO itself is, uhhhhhhhhhhhh


uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

h.

 

hhhhhhhhhhhhh

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

WHAT DID YOU DO HERE

WHAT IS THIS

WHAT IS ANY OF THIS

WHY

YOU GUYS JUST GLUED A BLOB OF PACKING FOAM OVER THE OSCILLATOR AND A LINEAR VOLTAGE REGULATOR WHY DID YOU DO THIS

LOOK AT THAT BULGING CAPACITOR OF HAPPINESS ALL UP IN THERE OH BABY

I wanted to peel this crap off but I was fairly confident that if this is anything like the antistatic foam that ICs used to come packed in, it may have broken down and corroded parts under it and I’d be faced with irreplaceable parts that went out of availability two years before they sold this exciter crumbling to dust. So I left it alone. It only has to last about another year, if even that. I hope. Did I mention HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH? Because HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

So. Let’s move on to the power side.
The power supply is along the left wall of the exciter. On GatesAir’s admission, the power supply pretty much expires and becomes a ticking time bomb after 5 years – power it off and it will never ever start back up again.

But that’s unrelated to, uhhhhh, The Internal UPS Thing Of WEIRDNESS

For unknown reasons they felt the need to give the unit battery backup. It does not fully power it, like, the RF output disappears once it’s on battery. I think all it does is keep the controller with the RTAC data* in memory alive, and keep it from having to entirely run through the several minutes long boot process following a momentary power glitch.

It is, however, FUCKING RIDICULOUS.

On later versions it uses a lithium ion battery which consists of three 18650 cells, but rated at only 1.5 amp hour, which suggests… some 18650s of hilariously low quality. Behind the board is a charging / BMS circuit that steps the battery voltage up to 12V to keep the exciter powered. On earlier versions, they went through all the trouble of building this elaborate charger/step-up board, similarly…..
And then, waaaait for it—–

 


Ok, take a good look at this, and prepare yourself for the description of what you’re actually looking at: someone… went through the trouble of getting a spot welder in house and welding tabs to unmatched dumpshit tier** Energizer retail packed NiMH cells.

Because, uh, only the finest with Brand HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Picture…….. related.

There is another memory backup battery, but I’m guessing that’s mostly just for the realtime clock.

* Sorry, I am not currently in a sufficiently coherent mental state to describe what RTAC does, other than that it is Fucking Magic and if the Fucking Magic doesn’t work, the signal comes out on air as distorted non-decodable dog turd
** only slightly better than Duracell

Lightbulb life hack

So if you need a light bulb from NAPA Auto Parts, ask them for it at the counter. They’ll come out with a bulb in a generic little box that’s a LOT less expensive than the ones on the pegs out front… And in the case of the weird high color temperature ones like Sylvania Silverstar or the blue coated bulbs, it’ll last longer!

The lamp life isn’t always specified clearly on the package but if you see it there, compare it. The obnoxious blue bulbs usually have half or less of the specified life of the basic ones. On my Subaru where it takes about 30 seconds to change the bulb with no tools needed, this isn’t a huge issue, but if you have one of those hellbeast vehicles where you have to denude it of its whole front bumper to change the bulb……………

Picture unrelated.

Have a good laugh at this stupid thing.

And I never could even figure out where that leakage came from

Behold, my poor hacked on Ender-3. I had bought a clone of the Micro Swiss hotend (I believe off Amazon) so I could print PETG and other high temp materials without PFTE tubing damage issues. I’d also had issues back then with getting the PTFE tubing to seal against the nozzle so I figured this setup would be great!

Unfortunately, I bought… the lowest caliber of dumpshit.

In what I thought was just desperately throwing parts at my printing issues, which led to “missing layer” kind of faults everywhere, I bought this titanium heat break from TH3D. It works with all the other stock hotend parts, which I’d saved in a box of bits. Turns out that’s exactly what I needed… So here’s what I replaced.

Strange, unlike the stock setup, that heat break doesn’t go in there very far…
’bout five millimeters
Uh. That looks awfully rough. In fact… I ran filament down by hand and could feel it snagging.
This is how far it actually goes together

I’m not actually sure what kind of metal this was made of to be honest or if it was even advertised as titanium, stainless, —???

All I can say though is I suspect it’s way too thermally conductive. I had to print hotter than I expected on this machine and the PID tuning values were WILDLY different after changing the heat break. Previously, with the same filament, this temp tower was just starting to print acceptably at the lowest floor which is 230C; now the lower floor is string city, which makes a lot more sense for PLA. Oh, and no missed layers either.

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.

AAAAAAA TOO MUCH CUTE

Cassie what have you done you’re going to kill me with the cute aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAA

I want to post more pictures here but for some reason this is the only one that will successfully upload with Comcast’s usual copious packet tampering that blocks me from uploading photos to my WordPress site, and AT&T’s highly degraded LTE service takes over 10 minutes to send one photo. Damn you shit tier internet, I wanna spam everyone with my cat.

Well, somewhere, engineering was attempted

Here’s a supermicro that pissed us off this week. It’s from 2015 and clearly got dumped on us as the result of a certain “text-that-gets-scrolled-on-the-bottom-of-the-news” vendor cleaning out back stock when my workplace ordered a new system.

Blaarffff. It literally seems like the bios doesn’t like certain monitors, and you have to fight it for hours to get video. You’d think with a vendor like Supermicro you’d get a board built with better parts but this thing looks like a damn Soyo. Remember Soyo? They drove themselves out of business by delivering dumpshit. This Supermicro sure looks like overpriced dumpshit complete with “hey look it’s 2001 again” capacitors.

More folderol to follow

Read more “Well, somewhere, engineering was attempted”