I have no clue what happened to this module but it must have been a spectacular audio-olfactory experience.

I wonder if the SD2942’s survived the ordeal or if the gates are all snapped. Oh well… The rig runs fine with one module down for now.

And my Jolteon kicked that Gyrados’ butt too.

A while back I found this in service up Linguini Mountain and removed it in a session of lobbing crap into a pile in the corner. I decided to take a picture of it before shitcanning it in the e-waste box….

The open frame relay was screwed to a hole in the side of a rack, facing outwards as I recall.

What a shame. Potter & Brumfield used to make good relays too, before they just became a Tyco Electronics contract manufactured line of dumpshit. This one, alas– its service to us is done…. Whatever service that may have been.

Incidentally, trying to claim the gym at Whiskeytown for any team other than Instinct is a foolish act, for I will take it back every time I’m out there. Bwahahaha. Isn’t that right, little Mudkip of the lake?

Under the hood: Monster Power Platinum HD surge protector

So you may have noticed this photograph in the last post…

No, it did not buff right out, and it’s going back to the manufacturer for repair this week. They’ll probably have it working in a jiffy though. It’s a Crown FM30 transmitter that was serving as an exciter up at a site where Pacific Gas and Electric was doing some “scheduled maintenance” without notifying anyone of their schedule aaaaaaaand THEY TRASHED EVERYTHING ON THE SITE by putting some massive fugly voltage down the C phase.

What you’re looking at, the charred parts, are Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs). These are used to absorb voltage surges to protect equipment. In the event of a prolonged high energy overvoltage… that happens to them. They start to get super hot and blow up. Here’s a very interesting article on MOVs and their failure mode, and how they should be kept happy. Your bathroom reading for the day… 🙂

I never looked to see if there was a current limiting fuse inside that line filter/IEC power plug assembly on the back of the Crown, but it seems like the event that blew this up was a slow-cook kind of situation until it reached the magical “Oh… popped it!*” temperature.

* in the voice of photonicinduction.

One of the things very very highly recommended to use with MOVs is a thermal fuse cutout. This ensures that this slow-roast failure will not cause equipment damage – it’ll do either of two graceful things:

A) kill the power! You should do this anyway because if the MOV is conducting that means the voltage is, or has been, Very Very Wrong.

B) Cut the circuit to the MOV. Not the best… but will avoid Magic Smoke release from the protection device.

So, enter the Monster Power MP PLAT 800 HD surge protector. This protector advertises itself as FIREPROOF. Let’s see what they mean. I was gonna make some comment about voiding warranties but a recent Supreme Court decision likely means I did not actually void the warranty by opening the unit. Oh, by the way—

nice try sweaty

The fact that this screw is lying on top of the surge protector suggests it is not particularly one-way as advertised. Three of the screws holding the bottom cover on are like this; they are milled very badly and have burrs that neatly grip my screwdriver….. OOPS! 😀

We press onward….

Monster Power advertises on the package that the MOVs are encapsulated in a ceramic compound. This is true, they are in small ceramic buckets that feel like the same material used for the casings of “sand bar” power resistors. If one were to pop at high temperature, everything would be safely contained. Oh, and look what’s right there against it in the foreground ….. a thermal fuse!

Monster Did It Right…. ON BOTH COUNTS!

This fuse will kill the power entirely in the event of a high temperature fault. It’s hard to say which protective device will open first as there are two: the power switch is the ubiquitous thermal overload switch/breaker found on most newer power strips. It is deeply recessed to avoid “Oops, I kicked the power off!” accidents.

Each of the two MOVs has a 5 amp / 105C thermal fuse in series with it, and then this 15 amp / 115C fuse is in series with the incoming line power.

I’m not sure why it says “15 / 16 amp”. The information on this particular fuse is here.

Also on this board is a simple common mode inductor and capacitor lowpass filter to attenuate high frequency garbage present on the power entering the strip. I’ve seen beefier ones in other products, but this is perfectly fine for most noise that would be present on a home or small office electrical system.

On the back is a rectifier and transistor for the “protection working” and “HD Clean Power” LEDs. Uh, yeah. I suspect they both just go out if the protector is damaged or the ground is open. The manual mentions an audible alarm but it’s not present on this unit.

Also, test points! That’s kind of unusual and suggests that these units may actually be *gasp* TESTED before leaving the factory to make sure the MOVs clamp and everything actually works!!!

There are two other circuits down inside this – a USB charger (because everything, everywhere, needs a USB charger) and a CATV line protector. I wasn’t able to open the CATV protector’s can to see what’s inside, but it’s grounded to the common ground with a nice fat 14 gauge wire. The USB charger is easier to take a gander at.

One receptacle is labelled “PHONE / MP3” and one is labelled “TABLET”. Compare and contrast the circuits between the two. The one on the left is an older and more common “fast charge” configuration for smartphones wherein the USB data lines are shorted together. The one on the right is a newer style that I believe is designed for Samsung compatibility – the USB data lines are both pulled to 2.5 volts through a resistive voltage divider. I haven’t tested this yet but it looks like it ought to just work.

So there you go. Monster Power did everything RIGHT inside this surge protector. It’s nothing fancy (no metal case or anything)… but it’s designed well with safety in mind. I’d say it’s worth it!

They also make some fancier models that do have metal cases and things like individually isolated sets of outlets. I’ve been quite impressed with these and feel that they’re pretty much on par with the fancy Tripp-Lite ISObar series, just… painted weird colors. 🙂


PG&E, YOU GUYS SUCK!!!! Bah! 😀

Let’s play Wheel… Of… DUMPSHIT!!!

I just received two new 4CX250B / 7203 tubes for one of our transmitters, an old Continental Electronics with the tube intermediate power amplifier (IPA).

I’m already wondering just how they’re going to fail. Not IF they’re going to fail, more like, how, and how much collateral damage will occur.

The sad story: These tubes used to be produced by Eimac and were perfectly fine. At some point, Eimac got sucked into some giant ugly conglomerate that consolidated their tube manufacturing and made some awful changes, then hacked and slashed at their product line. That effectively led to a quality fade then discontinuation of the tubes.

I’ve been pretty much informed that the way to get GOOD 4CX250B tubes is to either go back to 1981 and stockpile them, or find someone who has them sitting around from back then and hope that they’re not gassy or badly manufactured tubes from Eimac’s Salt Lake City facility.

So now, what do you get when you try to buy a 4CX250B?

….this. this is the dumpshit you get. alibaba.com’s finest, I’m sure.


These are “National Electronics” marketed by Richardson Electronics. Richardson’s website only mentions the Eimac tubes that they were a dealer for, and when these were ordered, there was a week’s delay in getting them shipped. National Electronics used to be a perfectly legitimate tube dealer or manufacturer – I think they went with contract manufacturing back in the day, as you’d see a really wide variety of their tubes out there, everywhere from receiving valves to power tubes and even indicators like Nixie tubes. Now, my best guess is it’s just a shell being kicked around via brand name necrophilia.

I don’t know if these even work at all, and won’t until I can get to a mile-high transmitter site whose means of access are currently buried in snow and ice.

So, for now, let me compare them to a new old stock Eimac tube. This is a 3CX800A7, a different tube entirely, but using the same sort of package and plate structure.

Eimac tube on left.

Immediately the bright silver plate finish becomes apparent, along with a far different cooling structure. The fins are brazed or soldered to the plate. This is important as the outside of the plate cooler is usually used as the electrical connection via a clamp around the tube. You do not want a bad connection in there.

And now, the Richardson/Alibaba Special – they just… lovingly shoved it down in there with a press and called it a day.

No signs of soldering or brazing are visible.

All in all, it looks like it was just smashed together using the same tooling one would use to make cheap and nasty refrigerator coils.

Now, about that gray mystery metal….

I looked at the socket pins and saw no marks on them at all, just a uniform gray coating of… whatever.

On the Eimac? There are marks in the silver plating from where the tube was put in a socket for factory testing.

Did they even——??? Is there any factory testing??

How’d this Oddish get in my transmitter?

what the fuck is any of this, i need a nice adult beverage

So yeah— I’m NOT convinced these are even going to work, but I guess that’s what I can get now. Thanks, Crapitalism!


Sometimes you just wonder “what was ANY OF THAT?”… yeah.

I dunno, I got pretty frustrated trying to get some old equipment up and running again, and then discovered that my wonderful old Tektronix 2232 oscilloscope started also suffering Capacititis or something. First I came in this morning and was like, what on earth even happened to the bench— oh wait, an amazing struggle with a QEI 675…

Then the scope went blank with a weird whining sound that suggests ye olde crapacitors have failed… I had previously had an issue with the screen getting garbled on this, and percussive maintenance brought it back, but not this time. I went to open it up and look around inside and the blue painted aluminum shell got jammed. I even had a coworker tug on one end while I tugged on the other, it was kind of amusing but pointless. I finally got it loose with silicone spray and slowly wiggling it off. What a mess.

Intel Inside

The usual fancy custom silicon that’ll effectively e-waste the whole scope if any of it gets damaged. Luckily, on this scope, they did NOT use a whole horrible death forest of tantalum capacitors.

Guess it’s all just telling me to slow down for a day and get some smaller things done…

Deep thoughts

Why do we call it plate voltage and not bowl voltage? The plate (anode) of the tube is that radiator-equipped bowl over the top. It’s not a flat plate by any stretch of the imagination.

Plus, saying “bowl on” is more satisfying than “plate on”.

BRAWNDO! It’s got electrolytes!!

Unknown energy drink spilled in very unobtainable telephone hybrid control surface.

The small is like that of old Jolly Ranchers and BRIMSTONE.

Welcome to Monday Night Rehabilitation. Chances of this thing’s survival are probably about 60%. Chances of the survival of whoever spilled their drink down this and said nothing about it until it hardened into foul lacquer—-???

Linguini Mountain, Part II

This post is to be assumed to be to the tune of She Wants Revenge – Out of Control. available on YouTube here. So I was up here again and was asked to check the generator and fuel level. Fuel was fine, generator started, amazingly, with only minor reluctance, and immediately filled the shack with exhaust, so I left the vent fan on and walked away for a while, came back, ran in holding my breath, shut it down, and left for a while more. It urinated on the floor… Sure looks like one of the CrapsackWorld props from Idiocracy, doesn’t it? But then I heard a buzzing that didn’t sound right after the generator was shut down and traced it to a pair of relays oscillating. I unplugged the power supply to them and a nice fireworks show of good ol’ arcy sparky happened for a moment, ending with a power strip breaker tripping. Beautiful. I then got to work……

None of this was functional anymore. Especially not after the fireworks show…. Now I’ve just gotta rewire the remote to one of the transmitters to eliminate a final layer of relay bodge and I can start over with better control. How do I come to inherit these things??!! Sadly, off air time may be required. What a thing to greet my operations manager with when he returns from vacation! “Welcome back, I need to nuke your stations!” Actually he’s a really awesome guy and he won’t be mad at all.

sudo init 6

I had to reboot my Subaru Forester tonight. It threw literally every possible error message following coming up with the traction control, hill assist, and ABS warning lights on.

The fuse to reboot it is a 20 amp at the front center of the under hood fuse box labeled “Back Up” in the legend.

So here’s how you reboot a car. Note that some vehicles have this fuse labelled as dome light.

On certain navigation/audio systems you will need an anti theft code to reactivate them after this.

Either way, pull it, wait 30 sec, and reinsert. Be careful not to touch any hot parts under the hood if the car has just been running. A fuse puller is likely provided in the box, but if not, many replacement fuse kits come with one, or you can use small pliers to grab it.

After pulling the fuse, waiting at least 30 seconds and reinserting it, don’t be surprised if you get an errant horn honk, beeps, or clicks. Aftermarket alarms may start blasting and need to be turned back off with the remote.

Wait another minute or so, then restart the car. Check that the stereo comes on (or asks for the code…) to be sure its anti theft logic has cleared out. You will need to reset the clock and other settings may be gone as well.

In addition, it may drive differently at first as adaptive data has been reset.

Congratulations! You now know how to clear an automotive BSOD.

Now, if people would only stop arguing with me and trying to convince me that piercing guns are actually of acceptable design… Why has this happened like six times in the last week??!!

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