I guess I need to figure out what I did to those configuration files but my brain is on fire

First, these three pictures of early stage tri-color foaming wax

Yeah— so I did the config all wrong for this server. Virtual host declarations aren’t in the files they should logically be in and things overlap and I just accidentally found some way to get a horribly blank directory listing to load instead of this page! Very weird, I think I just need to make a backup copy and rewrite the stuff. My apologies if you catch things broken as I’m doing it.

Pictures from The Cloud:

This is the top of the tower elevator and the inside of the tower top hut on Transtower. The lower level is really weird and basically was built by and for Gumby.

My brother sends me regular updates on this kitty named Luna being a cutie peets.

A newborn car wash? I think it’s a Mark VII system.
The ham shack as seen in “Akiba’s Trip”
Rainbow jugs
Useful meme

So I made a previous silly post about this Weston 622 milliammeter… It’s pretty interesting. Inside that removable plug, sealed in place with beeswax, are some kind of heating element and one side of a thermocouple. The other side of the thermocouple is in the meter body. This is actually really similar to the platinum RTD RF power measurement technique that’s the gold standard for average power level measurements on signals that have a varying peak to average power ratio (PAPR). It measures the RMS, “heating value” of the input by….. measuring its heating value! I tested it with DC because that was convenient and the 60+ year old meter agreed with a modern Fluke DMM.

I haven’t come across a ton of info or any original manuals on this meter, but it’s a little different than most I’ve seen when just searching the web or looking at eBay listings (it’s fairly common!). Mine has the thermocouple and heater in an interchangable plug, whereas most have it buried inside the meter case. This suggests that at some point Weston intended it to be used with different detectors. I wonder if there was to be one with 50 ohm coaxial input? A passive thermal RF power meter would be pretty cute!!

UV LED encapsulant musing.

My hair wasn’t glowing. I needed to fix this.

I have this LED blacklight bulb in a desk lamp at my bench at work and it normally makes my hair glow nicely. In case you’re wondering— it’s thanks to the Iroiro Colors 300 series dyes. Neon Yellow, Neon Red, and Neon Pink are probably the brightest. I’m always tempted to just throw Neon Pink over my whole head because it looks so nice, but I am absolutely incapable of deciding on just one color so I continue to be a rainbow.

Anyway, this is what I get when it’s working:

I don’t turn the blacklight off, so it was just kinda cooking there for over a year. Eventually it became a dark purple light that didn’t make any magic.

New bulb
Old bulb

The most noticeable difference is that the encapsulant on the “filament” arrays has darkened right over each emitter.

Old bulb, Well Done
New bulb, the encapsulant is water clear

I had read a while back that some of the nasty but revolutionary UV-A emitters from Nichia, when they first came on the market, were using a metal TO-18 can with a quartz end window to avoid this.

I wonder how many other LED products may still suffer this degradation? I will say I got a good amount of life out of this $12 bulb so I’m not exactly mad, but I feel like if whoever made the “filaments” had used a better goopus on top of the array, it’d still be working fine.

As for the old bulb, I still like its weird violet glow and might try to scrounge up another weird fixture to put it in like this funky 3d printer-activated flicker lamp. I swear I can also see the HVAC chiller out back cycling in its brightness level.

I used to hate this thing but it’s slowly grown on me

MiniDV weirdness

I got a broken MiniDV camera pretty much free for the asking and took a look inside. Well, I’m glad I didn’t go in expecting a successful repair because oh no

Probably 50% of the weight of this thing is tiny screws.

I was intrigued and horrified all at once that a tiny cog belt was visible! See it peeking out there to the left of the rubber pinch roller?

The iris was stuck closed. I’ve seen this failure on a few JVC mini DV cams and had never opened one up to investigate. Upon seeing the mechanism I’m not surprised this happens. It’s a combined aperture and ND filter with two weird thin plastic blades that have stuck together, actuated by a very tiny rotary solenoid.

ND filter in line
Fully open
The lens has two moving elements, one to zoom and one to focus
The sensor

So there’s the tape transport, it has only two motors aside from the head scanner. A very small pancake capstan motor is under the side where the pinch roller is; the one standing in the corner controls the load/unload action.

And finally, that tiny cog belt runs between the capstan motor and a pulley that drives the gear idler. The tension is regulated by a spring loaded brake (felt?) under the take-up reel and that’s pretty much it. This isn’t exactly a very sophisticated transport.

I can’t really imagine actually repairing one of these. Everything had to come out to get to the back of the transport and it’s a total mess in there. Wow.

Surprise! It’s tiny.

Out of curiosity, I pried apart a laser pointer from Dollar Tree. See that tiny spot next to the blob-top circuit (probably the current regulator/driver)? That’s the laser diode.

I really want a microscope now to see what the heck is going on here!

There’s a lens to focus this into a more, uh, pointer-like beam. I haven’t figured out how to photograph this well yet but the uncollimated output is a wide elongated ellipse of light with pond ripple patterns at the ends.

For some reason I always envisioned the common laser diode to be a bigger object, but no— it’s teeny weeny. Cool.

Ford Explorers can have a little corrosion, as a treat.

This *was* a headlight connector and bulb, it all just disintegrated into weird gray ash and burned a few inches back down the wire. Oh gee where have I seen this before?

A glorious meme I stole. Kinda want that dress….

After months of neglect, I redyed my hair. Interestingly it seems like the blacklight at my workbench has become…. a dim purple light. The UV emission appears to be mostly gone. I’m not surprised as this has always been a common failure mode of uv led emitters. A lot of plastics that are common in other LED carriers will degrade from the UV and begin to absorb it, letting through only the visible blue/violet color, if much at all. The bulb has been on 24/7 pretty much ever since I started doing rainbow hair so it’s given a good service life. It occurs to me that one of my coworkers who just came back to the office today has never seen me with rainbow hair before, and he didn’t say anything about it…… but he suddenly decided he’s now tired of only wearing black clothing! Well then… I’m glad to be bringing more color to the world. :3

There are visible black spots on top of the LED emitters in the “filament” now. I don’t remember if they’re that way on these bulbs new but I’ll compare them when I get a new one. That is assuming I don’t just get some UV LED tape for my workspace where I sit and yell about things like these cursed faders in a JLCooper audio controller.

The “be glad you have a service plan” special
Oy, when they said no user serviceable parts they very much meant it

A lot of equipment with motorized faders has pretty similar faders, but these are all weird and look almost like a totally custom bizarro construction. They’re not Alps, Penny & Giles, or Midas, they’re just weird and we kill them every year and change. Uh, okay.

Evertz what did you do

Ok let’s just go in here and replace these bad power supplies

Hmm, weird….. There are three different sets of CPUs and RAM in there!

DDR3(?) ECC ram, makes sense
Hold up is that. Is that DDR1?! There’s some other bga mounted ram peeking out to the left of that roundboi cooler.

what. WHAT. It left the factory like that. It passed “QUALITY” CONTROL. What.

But somehow it works. Thanks I hate it.

You know what? I never want to see this again and maybe they were doing us a favor by using those crappy screws on the top cover where you have to drill out one or two because they’re galled and the head is made of pure nacho cheeze.



Marilyn Monroooooe.

Or, “Why I wanna replace the Carlson LongHaul radios”.

I’m basing the name of this post off incorrectly remembering this glorious scene from the Pop Team Epic anime and thinking it said long strokes, not  longs for good strokes, but whatever – I’m keeping it:

Ever just work with a piece of load-bearing hardware that is just asking for the sweet release of the e-waste bin? Yeah, that’s what half the entries on this page are about, but here’s one that, uh, yeah. The Carlson Wireless LongHaul… It’s still on their website as if it were a current product but upon calling their support engineer for assistance he told me what I had already come to suspect, it was abandonware from over a decade ago. The unit is a long range microwave radio designed to carry telephone traffic and look like a TDM (T1?) link, but also IP traffic, which is what we’re using it for.

So let’s check off the Boxes Of Decay:

  • Flash user interface
  • User interface via https with REVOKED SECURITY CERTIFICATE
  • Best I can tell— based on 802.11A wifi hardware
  • Cursed
  • Did I mention cursed

The only way to keep these things in service is to have an old version of Flash that hasn’t been expired via logic bomb – Ruffle won’t cut it as it doesn’t support Actionscript 3, though it handles http://aktiv-schaum.kg4cyx.net/ just fine. I’m sure you all missed those goofy Flash shitposts, right? I sure did. It also seems to play my old Fanimutations just fine.
If you have the Ruffle extension loaded:
Aligator (unfinished!)

Guava Paste

Onsokumaru’s Great Adventure

I wish to state here that there are some dumb jokes in there that were very much a bad product of the time and I feel like they don’t age well, but not that I’d want to bury this entirely.

Anyway— on to the weird old hardware.

The board says “Avlia Networking Platform” on it and it looks like maybe an older version of this guy

The wifi card slotted into it is a Wistron-Neweb dual band radio, interestingly.. this unit only supports the 5.8 ghz side but some of the other ones we have in service, inexplicably, support both 2.4 and 5.8, consult your pineal gland

The serial and USB connections are unpopulated and I found no other way into the device…

Well, you can telnet in, but the user/password are unknown. It says it runs FreeBSD.

Finally by some sheer luck I found I had one old system with Flash on it and was able to set these creaky old things up. In the user interface (I can’t be arsed to take a screenshot) it has signal level readings which… uh, it’ll say it’s seeing -38dBm when the radio it’s connected to is unplugged and disconnected, and everything takes like four tries to get it to save and take effect and the Reboot button doesn’t work and

I’m so tired. I’m just so tired. can I just have a couple of Ubiquiti bullets and a nap? Please? Thank you. GAAAAAAABORAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Pleasantly fungiform

As I was at the tower the other day I found myself thinking the elevator motor looks like a mushroom growing out of the gearbox.

Really Really Big Coax at left.

I spent a few hours working in the little comm shelter at the top, then descended through a bank of fog that rolled in and back out as the elevator slowly sighed and buzzed its way down.

Fog lit by the golden sunset

As I neared the ground, I spotted some big mushrooms in the lawn… I went down to take a look.

And then on the balcony— another, but this one was, uh, a little different

Curious. Apparently it may have been left over from the original channel 13 VHF KOVR transmitter… I found a local ham’s page showing some far happier tubes from the same rig! Pretty cool. Kinda odd it just sat out back there but, okay.

More sunset:

Read more “Pleasantly fungiform”

The broad side of a Barnstead

The Space Station Toilet knows its days are numbered so it’s started acting accordingly… The resistivity of the cooling water was down so it was time for a new filter. An unpleasant looking black scunge was present in the bottom of the filter canister.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwww toilet juice

Whyst in doth actual feck do these resistors run so hot?

Note four smt resistors above the interlock plug with the two red wires
Boil me up some resistors

And now, random shitposting

I have no desire to know what these things are doing as they run on 35 kilovolts and pure engineer frustration

Noooooooo springs!

Up on the bench today: A Lectrosonics wireless microphone cube.
This unit snaps right into the XLR connector at the bottom of a ‘stick’ microphone for handheld use. You’ve probably seen these in use on the news before (though often the bottom of the mic will be out of the shot and you won’t see it hanging there).

This is the upper end of the cube, as seen with the mic in a position of normal use.
The black plastic coated cone serves two purposes. One, you twist it to press the locking tab on the XLR to eject the assembly from the microphone. Two, it’s always being forced towards the tip by a strong spring, so the mic is gripped firmly and prevented from rattling around.

NOOOOOOO SPRINGS! Heeheeheeheehee

See how the XLR is all chewed up on this one? The spring failed over time (and LOTS of hard use) and allowed it to rattle around, causing eventual failure of the connector.

Looks easy enough to replace, right? It’s just screwed to one end plate of the ‘cube’ housing, into which there are five screw holes – two on the flatted side that’s down on the static mat in this picture, three of which face the rest of the pack body.



Step one… get the pack open by removing all the tiny screws surrounding the display and controls then lift that out. Good luck. That part is fecking DIFFICULT, I have always just firmly stuck gaff tape to it and used it as a handle to lift it out. Be careful as you will be disconnecting a small pitch set of header pins above the top of the display towards the XLR end. Don’t bend them. The whole thing will come free when lifted only about a millimeter out of the recess though so the risk of this should be small. The two screws right next to the XLR are longer than the others as they land in the XLR endcap.

Step two, proceed to gut the whole damn thing like a fish. Photo captions inspired by the short film above.


You’ll get your way…. IN HELL!!!

Off comes the battery door – 4 pieces – first to come out are the four long larger black cone head Phillips screws, followed by the outer plate and the battery flap, then three more short small cone head screws to get that thin inner plate and spring off.
Now you can see the three screws on the back of the XLR plate down holes drilled through the cube body… but you can only actually reach one of them! This is gonna get sillier. Trust me. You’ve gotta get the radio board out of there.

On a side note, see that little black biscuit on the radio board? That’s topped with a strong magnet. Is that…. a whole-ass miniature RF CIRCULATOR?

The short black wire is the antenna lead. This must be desoldered along with the red and green power wires. Oh, also, to get to this point, you have to take out four tiny pan head Phillips screws and three larger short pan head screws that hold the control/audio board to the back of the front panel. Disconnect the one flat flex connector to the front panel membrane switches. The audio wires are Kynar and are looped through a hole in the board next to where they’re actually soldered down. There are fine pitch SMT components RIGHT NEXT TO the through holes they are soldered into. Be careful. This precluded the use of a vacuum desoldering pump and made me swear even more.

And finally, here’s the small mountain of screws that you’ll find yourself facing midway through the process. Don’t ask me to explain the “Line ‘Em Up” thing because I don’t understand it either. It just spontaneously came to be one day and that’s all I know. Oh, also, there IS a little bit of extra room in there to where you can leave the battery leads slightly long-ish, but you’ll have to carefully roll them up into that void between the flat flex connector on the control panel and where they land on the power / radio board. There isn’t enough clearance between that shield can and the chips on the back of the control panel.

Oh, one more thing: those hex screws are English size – I think 3/32 inch. The tiny set screws on some of their connectors are 0.9 millimeter. Yes, an unholy blend of English and Metric. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

But hey, I can think of worse ways I could have spent the late morning hours. Well I still don’t have to fix the couch, so bite me.