there are no words. Someday I will try to come up with words in the process of writing a notice of retirement, but that day is not today.

The really fucked up one is an Armstrong tube transmitter from the mid 1990s.

The tape wadded splices are in the ~8000 volt plate supply. Also in this collection, a Nautel that ate a BNC lead that then ate several expensive RF transistors.

🎶 I am barely breathing, I can’t find the air 🎶

PissTek Again

We had some crazy winter storms and the site I lovingly call Shit on a Shingle lost power. When the power came back after a couple days, the station didn’t.

Found this little derpshit howling away as usual with no output. Front panel buttons and remote interface were unresponsive. Power cycled it and the controls came back but still no output. I warmed it with a space heater for a while and if fully returned to service.

I know some transmitters don’t like extreme cold, but this thing had only reached about 34 degrees at the lowest.

It had a really shaky start too, the front panel indicated 1750 watts forward 0 reflect, but no PA current, and it wasn’t audible on the air. I set it to 500 and it was audible for about a block down the road. As incoming snowstorms chased me from the site I heard it just gradually chatter and wheeze back onto the airwaves.

Hello, Transmitter Fairy, what do I have to leave under my pillow for you to leave me a nice Nautel VS2.5?

Please don’t disturb the kitty on the pillow.

This is, incidentally, the same site where the combiner horror used to live. Yeah, that one that never worked at full power until the whole system was sent out for service for a few months then exploded after less than a day on air.

Mmm, Galvanic Corrosion Burger

I don’t know where they came from but somehow this facility was ~blessed~ by having some aluminum transmission line adapters in use.

Here’s one (a gas block with pressure fitting) sandwiched between flanges made of brass and nickel plated(?) brass…. similar to about 99% of all these fittings I’ve seen in service.

But wait, aren’t those a little far apart in galvanic potential?


To the tune of Sisters Of Mercy – This Corrosion

Gack. Note the first inner lip around where the polymer insulator is seated. This is where the RF connection is actually made. The well around it only holds the sealing ring.

No thanks.

Broadcast Engineer: (n) A person who fixes all the shit the manufacturer fucked up by design.

Let’s play Wheel of Dumpshit!

Tonight’s contestant: a Lutron dimmer switch.

This switch was pulled from a studio after it made the lights flicker. Sometimes tapping it would change this but moving the slider didn’t.

Let’s see what’s inside.

Well that’s unusual. A small snap switch is used behind the lights on/off toggle. But wait, aren’t those momentary switches? Clearly a mechanical latch is used. Let’s see that latch….

Wait just a NOPEing minute. They used a cheap and nasty no name Chinese latching push button to latch the light switch…. and it’s worn out and gotten loose, letting the snap switch flicker.

Let’s have a look at the actual switch contacts. Hmm, that switch smells funny and the Bakelite fractures very easily….


This could have caused a fire if it were powering a high wattage bunch of incandescent or halogen lamps.

Yeeeep, it’s dumpshit. Thanks for playing.

Heat block nonsense

The stock heat block on the Malyan (200?) / Monoprice Select Mini v2 3d printer is a special sort of awful. Out of the box I had weird issues. PID autotune would fail with a “Temperature too high!” error, and I threw various sets of PID values at it to no avail. What’d happen was every time the heater came on, a 5 degree C overshoot was virtually guaranteed, leading to lots of print stringing. It almost seemed like the temp would rise for about TEN SECONDS after the heater shut off. I suspected poor thermal coupling between the heater cartridge and heat block, and ordered a $10 E3D V6 clone off eBay intending to just use the block it came with.

I wound up doing just that.

The E3D silicone sock even almost fits it! Uh, not great though. I cut away one tab to make room for the thermistor retaining screw.

And now, on to the block of horrors. It had this execrable kapton / fiber covering that disintegrated when touched.

Bad picture but you can already see it looks rough, right? It gets worse.

There’s the heater bore. It doesn’t look like the hole was drilled as much as ice picked.

The grubscrew that locks the heater in place, and the questionable looking threads for the nozzle and heat break…

Seems to me the whole damn thing was a heat break 😉

Yeeeeah, so I haven’t fine tuned it with the new block in yet but just switching the heater on at the front panel and watching the temperature reading, it ramps up and just locks in with occasional undershoot of maybe 3C. Much better… Maybe the PID tune will even work now!

I thought these were just a bad fever dream

Maxtor 1/4 height 3.5″ drive. I forget the name for these but they were some of the least reliable hard disks ever made. One very odd aspect of this design (possibly contributing to the problems?) is that it only uses one platter and only one side of the disk!

The head stack is comically simple … one thin film write head and one MR read head.

These drives usually lasted a year or so in service then provided a brief period of degraded super slow service during which you could save some data…. Then they’d up and die.

These images were saved to a Samsung micro SD card with about three times the capacity as the drive pictured which has been in service for about five years.

Important Generac warning

Do not buy a Generac anything, but more importantly, don’t buy one of their automatic transfer switches. It will only work with a Generac generator. Surprise, beeyotch!!

This is a shitpost, I’ll elaborate later. See note inside interface box:

AT&T Smeg-O-Net User Experience

Fuck You AT&T

After three hellish days of having dispatchers lie to me and tell me to stick around waiting for a tech that’d never come, waking me up at 5 AM and insisting I stick around until after midnight, all sorts of broken promises, and an overseas call center keeping THE ACTUAL TECHNICIAN waiting on hold for hours and hanging up on him repeatedly, our office has phones and almost half the internet speed we’re paying for!

This is still an improvement…. SADLY…. Now we’re no longer stuck with this clusterfuckery as our only link to the outside world. In case you ever find yourself shopping for business Internet and managed VoIP telephone services, LOOK ELSEWHERE and do yourself a favor. As janky as Comcast’s business fiber / metro ethernet / VoIP offerings are, with the vile potentially self-destructing phones, THEY ARE STILL BETTER ABOUT UPTIME… SORT OF. You know, when they aren’t having failures due to having installed everyone’s stuff to a fiber patch panel somewhere with dodgy uxcell brand fiber jumpers that arrived in a beat up China Post epacket. (I’m not even kidding here one bit)

Oh no you didn’t

Another PTek. Another questionable combiner. This one doesn’t even make any damn sense. I’m scared to open up the top of the transmitter to find out why it’s wired the way it is. The resistors are sitting on top of that hand cut piece of random PTFE and will cause a fire if they ever dissipate any significant energy. This is inside an FM2500PS transmitter.

This is a two port Wilkinson combiner that combines together the output of the left two pallets and the right two pallets. Why it’s floating on the thick PTFE slab, I cannot understand— these resistors appear to have the terminal configuration in which one lead of the resistor is the heatsinking base, and the other is the solder tab which just passes right through otherwise. WHY IS THIS BOTH INSULATED FROM AND ELECTRICALLY CONNECTED TO THE HEATSINK??!! Basically, what WILL cause this combiner to blow chunks would be any imbalance between the left and right sides of the transmitter – a single module failure will roast the entire rig. Catastrophically. See video below.

The lower line from each side goes to the start of the harmonic filter network, where they are just unceremoniously smashed together. This is… about the caliber of a badly built CB amp.

Dare I open the top and look around or have I suffered enough torture already??

(edit: yes… sadly I did!!!)

Page spam cut— click to continue. If you dare. I warned you, and Alex Hartman always warns ME not to open these transmitters and look around. But I do anyway. Then my brain hurts. ARGH

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