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.

OH AND NO REDEMPTION EITHER.

Anyway….

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.

I OWN YOUR ASS, FAT BOY!

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.

Delta fun

A while back I bought a semi assembled Anycubic Kossel Linear Plus 3d printer from a Tesla engineer down in the bay area. He was selling it pretty cheap because it had just become a project he couldn’t finish while working 80 hour weeks (WTF, Tesla?!). I completed the build but could just never really get reliable prints from the thing – I’d often have issues with what looked like one of the stepper drivers losing a lot of steps and the effector drifting off to the side.

The stock configuration came with the “Trigorilla” motherboard which is a perfectly fine atmega based board, but doesn’t have support directly for TMC2209 stepper drivers from Trinamic. One of the things that bugged me about the hardware on this printer was that the screws for the endstop switches just barely rubbed on the belts, and, uh, no thanks. The endstops also basically took up about half an inch of possible travel – that could be more build area.

Switches DELETED!

I ran into what was either a bug with Marlin or an issue with the SKR V1.4 Turbo board wherein the three tower motors (some people still call them X, Y, Z, but I’ve also seen Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which makes more sense) would run just fine but the extruder motor wouldn’t turn. The most I could get would be the motor being enabled which caused it to get a hold current, but then it just wouldn’t move. I kinda have in to cargo cult ways and just changed that driver to an A4988 from the old setup. A4988’s still a perfectly fine driver with microstepping, it just isn’t as quiet and doesn’t have the missed step detection, which didn’t matter to me for the extruder which doesn’t have to be an absolute position sort of system.

Now what to do with all this horror pasta?! As soon as I get it up and printing I’m gonna make a little box for the controller.

The bracket it’s on is reused from the stock setup which had the controller right under the heated bed! I didn’t like that. I think that was inherited from the early Anycubic Kossel delta printers which originally came out without the heated bed – that came out as a later option. Mine has the glass bed which I put the build plate sticker on (…why?) – I’ll probably strip that off later as I’m a believer in the magic of the glue stick. All hail the glue stick.

I can’t figure out if it’s actually possible to do Marlin’s delta calibration without a leveling probe. I tried using the delta calibration menus and just didn’t get anywhere. A probe is on order and I’m going to get some spiral wrap or split loom and Velcro for all that… aaaargh!

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.