deadmaül sunset


one of those dead malls
blank walls and a smell of cleaner unbroken by nonexistent human inhabitation
‘discount stores’


who still fills the fountain? automata?

actually all the same store

same chinashit
different husk
  same smell of plastic and stale urine

booth in the corridor that provides free echoes

canvas covered mystery lump

booth that advertises they make keys and pierce ears
  apparatus for one is stored on top of the apparatus for the other

hollow buzz of shorted neon

imagining where the arcade must have been

the food court

the orange Julius

Chess King?

the exit door screeches open into–


the night


Image composites/manipulation done in Autodesk’s Pixlr app.

You know… Autodesk… The company that brought us all CAD software for turning engineering dreams into reality? Oh they make realities all right.

Google, you’re trippin’

I suddenly started getting warnings from Google about an increase in 404 errors crawling this site. The last time this happened it was due to memory exhaustion and the Linux kernel impolitely terminating mysqld to rescue the system’s stability.


This time, I’m at a loss to explain it. Google somehow indexed a ton of pages from as being on or in In short, it saw right through my vhosts and it just doesn’t work that way.


The heck happened?!

How to tell you’ve found a worthless thrift store

This is beyond the usual nonsense with having a wurfer on staff who puts unsold eBay prices on everything— this is just insanity

I've never seen one of these that wasn't promotionally branded-- they're a super cheap mini radio made to be cheap enough to use as a giveaway!

That's right--- $35 on a clock radio

Anyone know where I put my MU cables?

“All mentions of the word ‘chameleon’ should be preceded by five commas. In all other instances, they come and go.” – @FakeAPStylebook

Now this is why you don’t let me play with your model trains. They wind up with gnaw marks.

This one needed to be put on a track where it moves forward when triggered by a sensor, then moves back.


I had two options here:
A) interface to the locomotive’s onboard controls and use extra sensors and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa—–
B) simple DC control using relays and diodes


Oh my glob it’s busy in there


The motor has a tachometer sensor – I guess you can really tell it “okay, go scale speed of 79″…


Yaaaaccckkkk. Wire nutted leads go to chassis ground and third rail.


One of the drive motors and the smoke machine


Bro, do you even vape? (I opened it to see what the motor was all about. It’s a fan to propel the smoke upwards.)


One of my favorite Arduino clones, and the relay board. This controls two identical train setups. One relay on each side starts and stops the train, the other sets the direction.


Leftover parts. I removed the extra bits because it’s remarkably hard to get the top back onto the locomotive with all that in there– it kind of barely fit!! I’m keeping the harnesses as intact as possible in case anyone ever wants to reverse the modification.

The way it works: I have each track installed with a gap in its third rail.


At each end of the line is an isolation block to stop the train. Its travel direction is determined by the DC power polarity. That being the case, I used a diode in line with each end section to essentially make it a one way street leading back from where the train just came in. The train will move until it loses power due to the diode being reverse biased, but flipping the polarity will give it power again to move the other way.

Originally I thought I was going to need more relays and other jank until I realized it just didn’t have to be that hard. 🙂

As for the title, no, I’m not just referencing the Principia Discordia again, it’s referring to the Multiple Unit cables used to control a locomotive from the cab of another leading or trailing locomotive, or from a cab car on the opposite end of a passenger train. Prepare to laugh about the fact that the Woodward Governor is basically a mechanical digital to analog converter with pseudo BCD inputs feeding a hydro-mechanical comparator to set the engine fuel rack for a commanded rpm… Cute, right?

Rainbow Entanglement

Help! I’m being attacked by rainbow ribbon cable!


So, you may have seen this stuff before and wondered what’s up with the colors. Well, here you go:


It’s standard electronics color code and the repeating stripe pattern matches the pin number of the connector at the other end. Brown 1, red 2…… It recycles after 10 (0, black).

Great stuff really. Now, where’d I put my cutters?

You could get better than this, but you couldn’t pay more for it.

Meet the Jazz Jams exhibit.


This ginormous inverted pyramid of piffle is supposed to use a multi track recording of a jazz performance to interactively demonstrate to a visitor how each instrument contributes to the piece.

Unfortunately it’s implemented very badly. For one thing, if the signage is to be believed, it doesn’t work right at all. When you press a button, the selected instrument is bumped up a couple dB, but it’s by no means noticeably isolated.


Second, check this baby out. This is the speaker system seen at the top of the first picture. Not shown: in the table base is a powered subwoofer that’s not shown on the prints, I have no clue where its audio source comes from, and it was once guilty of having blown out violently, filling the gallery with capaci-funk.


That’s twelve Klipsch 70v driven speakers, each on its own circuit back to the central a/v system, where it has twelve different amplifier channels.

One for each instrument track.


So today the time came to simplify… when two of the 8 channel amplifiers flipped out. The prints at left are next to useless due to countless undocumented emergency repairs over the years.


It’s not looking so great in the rack right now; the cabling will need to be cleaned up. For now it’s kinda one-year-temporary until many of the exhibits using the current system will be decommissioned.

Looks like bukkake udon all up in that poor rack. ... No, get your mind out of the gutter.

What a mess… At least Jazz Jam was using a TON of still usable amp channels, and it sounds perfectly fine with the inputs and outputs merged.

I made an awful little passive mixer out of 1k resistors and perfboard that shall never be spoken of again. Okay, as my boss says, “Good Enough For Museum Work”. Yaaaaaaaaaggghhhhh

There’s a bright side to this– when those Crown amps die, Crown fixes them. It’s $402 maximum to get the amp back to us fully happy and operational again. A new one runs about $3600, so…. that’s a damn good repair cost.

I’ve been equally happy with the support and service from Crown’s broadcast/rf division. Always a nice company to work with.

Blinkier than

Something totally alien appeared at this remote crapshack transmitter site. I’ve yelled about the hilarity of this site on here before, and it seems like… uhhhh, well, it gets “maintained” still in the sense that someone mows the grass. Yes, the ATU is still dangling open and even at NIGHT POWER the thing was singing on modulation peaks. The station sounds horrible! But wait, what’s that colored light? Is that the ATU or base insulator arcing over? Hang on, it’s even stranger…


Wait, what? Is that Santa? NORAD, your tracker better not be leading us astray–




Upon seeing the condition of a guy wire anchor the strange visitor backed away really quickly, saying “nope”.


So this was a really crude but successful experiment – I put a set of LED holiday lights down two of the tubes and the result was just majestic. YEARS AGO I had briefly experimented with doing this and never got around to actually making anything of it. The power arrangement to this is just awful — I zip tied the battery box with four AA batteries to that silver collar and wore it like that. It held out for hours of continuous use but was just too damn bulky. Oh well, rough prototype and all. Next version’s gonna have addressable RGB LEDs and a freaking MICROCONTROLLER… and a smaller lithium ion battery. 😀

What happens when you spend way too long buried in cables

They start to absorb into your skin or something… and the result just looks awesome.


A couple of kinda severely rough pictures of what it looks like from behind:

Yes, that's a space pug.

After I figured out how to get the foam strips to behave more wildly:


Believe it or not, the hardest part of this was just trying to figure out how to get my hair into the right sort of bun to secure it to. I tried wearing it with my hair down in a ponytail and that led to utter mess in mere seconds — I guess I haven’t figured out how to rock the best of both worlds yet. After taking it all out later my hair is comically big from being rolled into a bun. Just can’t really go wrong here.

This whole piece weighs damn near nothing. It’s just really light and springy.