BWAAAAAHHHHH!!!

King of the Hill memes are a wonderful thing and this is no exception but it led me to notice something ridiculous

The internet is only an imaginary construct to the Hills. Please note the shadowed gray circle to the left of center on the back of the iMac G3.

That is the IEC power jack.

I cannot think of any point in the show at which a power cord was seen plugged into that jack.

In addition, when Peggy’s iMac was first seen, it was a “Bondi Blue” tray-load model. Later, as seen here, it became a slot-load model (the 400 mhz through 1.2 ghz models at the end of the iMac G3’s run used the same physical chassis). This model is one of the later “flavors”, either Blueberry or Indigo.

This suggests that the Hills were so strangely attached to this imaginary technology that they UPGRADED at some point, still without plugging power into the iMac.

In addition, well… let me point out how few games were ever released for this platform, making Hank’s playing “Pro-Pain” a very unlikely detail.

Thank you for your attention to my silliness. If you stick around, I may also go into a fun explanation of how ridiculous Channel 84’s technical operations are…

So as for Channel 84… I always laugh inappropriately at the scene where Nancy drives the news van into the active wildfire in “Gone With The Windstorm”.

This van is seen equipped with, well, the usual equipment in electronic news gathering/live broadcast vans, with an extendable mast on the truck roof that has a microwave transmitter on it to send the live video and audio back to the station.

At the time this episode was produced (May 2005) it is doubtful that any modern video over bonded cellular systems like Dejero (gah!), LiveU, or TVU (just give me back the Dejero! ARGH!) existed, so I’m going to rule out the possibility that one of those was in use.

Generally these trucks are sent out with at least two people onboard – a reporter and a trained technician/photographer who will set up the microwave link once on scene, and the reporter.

The microwave link is HIGHLY directional and only works line of sight. You have to aim it right at the receiver that leads back to the studio and this usually requires a little game of hot and cold talking to a tech back at the studio until you get the signal peaked. If you don’t have the mast raised, which takes several minutes, it’s unlikely you will get this clear LoS and be able to send back usable video. The dish is in a stowed position when you’re driving the truck around, which basically aims it at the truck roof.

The trucks also have a generator onboard to power the video processing equipment, switcher, and microwave transmitter, and if you don’t have this running, you’re not getting a shot in.

The camera that Dale puts on his shoulder is likely one with manual focus, white balance, and iris settings. At first I thought it’s unlikely that he’d be used to dialing these in to get a good picture, but I couldn’t rule out that he’s used this type of camera before to make his weird conspiracy theory videos and stuff.

That being said.. they pull up, Nancy jumps out of the truck, Dale aims the camera at her, and POP— they just appear on a monitor back at the station and are punched up live on air as Nancy’s eyebrows get torched off.

The switcher setup looks really undersized and terrible for a live news operation, but then again, it IS implied that Channel 84 is kinda rubbish, considering that they pass off an air conditioner on the roof as a Doppler weather radar.

Some kinda freaking magic.

Also, I always wonder what happened to the new weather guy. Did he just… die of laughter or something and thusly disappear as a character, never to be seen again?

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Triax Crispies.

I’ve always found the old school triax connections used for some studio cameras….. charming. Triaxial cable looks mostly like a RG-6-ish coax with another dielectric layer and another braid over it, with the end result looking a bit more like RG-11… until you see the freaking WEIRD connector it terminates into. It’s like a ginormous shell around a BNC. Trust me when I say you do not want to be coiling this cable up and have the connector fly over and smack you in the— uhhh— output spigot and terminating resistor. OW. But anyway—

Cameras hooked up by triax can be powered over the triax. To do so, the Camera Control Unit (CCU) sends a high voltage – 120-170 vdc I think, down the cable, between the outer and inner braids. A DC/DC converter inside the camera powers it and any ancillary equipment like lights hooked up to the 12v output it provides. It works great, but you MUST ensure that the voltage has been removed from the cable before unplugging it. On some systems, it seems like powering down the camera tells the CCU to stop sending that voltage (or it drops to just a few volts – just enough for it to power whatever onboard the camera tells the CCU that the cam is connected and requesting to be powered up?). Anyway— at my old station I had a few instances where someone would unplug the cable hot and it would make the camera mad or even carbon-track the plastic inside the connector.

Today I found out what happens if the cable ITSELF gets angry:

tri-axial foaming cable

From top to bottom: The outer jacket with subtle black mark from the fault within, the middle dielectric and inner braid, and the outer braid, which frayed then burned in half at the fault location.

The ridges are from the connector’s strain relief. This fault occurred right behind the connector, where the cable was getting flexed a lot.

The CCU reported the cable was shorted out, and this was confirmed by a resistance reading of about .15 ohm at the connector on that end as measured by the onboard multimeter on a Tektronix 2236

All three elements of the cable – the center conductor, inner braid, and outer braid were shorted together.

I was able to lop off the end of the cable and remake the connector. The connectors we had in stock were circa 1996 and were made by Kings about, oh, two corporate umbrellas ago. Currently they’re under Winchester Interconnect and Winchester has no documentation on the connector including what the strip lengths are for the layers of the underlying cable. Canare and Cinch have different takes on the same thing. I managed to get it back together with new parts for the center.


The center is pretty much a crimp type BNC. Not shown, the….. ridiculous oldschool clamp thing used to hold the outer braid to the connector body, nor the giant ball-bonker connector body itself.


Not sure if it’s the world’s most perfect installation, but hey, it passed the Smoke Test and the camera’s back up on it and in service.

dave what are you doing DAVE STAHP

I installed this board a couple years ago in Redding and then I see this on Facebook

Congratulations, you win a free upgrade to this shitty old Arrakis 1200 I dragged out of the e-waste bin.

That being said, You Can Decrease The Likelihood Of Damaged Consoles With This One Weird Trick: use consoles with a vertical front surface. Here’s an SAS like that, I stole the pic off someone else’s post and forget where it is but it’s slick.

Many early consoles had this layout, using big chunky rotary faders.

SAS has also replicated this with the Dees Digital, designed to meet Rick Dees’ desire to have a modern board with digital routing but with the classic rotary pots and vertical panel. It’s a beauty.

And now, additional folderol

OmneAAAAAHHHHHHH…n

Inspired by the driver of the car with California license plate SHSTAAH who kept alternately brake checking everyone in the left lane while next to semi trucks then going 90+ in the right lane and not allowing anyone to pass until they approached another truck to repeat the cycle of fuckery:

I was imagining this: a catapult to launch shitty old Omneon video servers through your rear window at great velocity

Fooooore! *YEET*

That is all, thank you for being a turdburglar

So spell out “I M A G E Lightbulb”…

Hey look, there’s a CYX bulb…..

And it’s terrifying

The pins are about 3/8″ diameter and the whole bulb is 8 1/4 inches high overall with the light output centered 5″ above the bottom. It has an average life of 300 hours. The normal application has it inside a Mr. McLargeHuge stage fresnel safely locked away behind a big thick glass lens and a metal screen. I don’t even want to think about it too hard.

For a small $945 you can get a VisionSmith ReLamp module that lets you replace it with a 275 watt LED that pays for itself *rapidly* in reduced air conditioning and power costs…

The best testimonial I’ve ever seen

From a fellow engineer:

Our guys were so impressed with the Selenio at our sister station that as the NetVX aged into backup status, we bought a Harmonic.

selenio shitpost
sorry, I only have M$ Paint on this workstation and it’s fairly useless for proper shitposting

 

For the uninitiated— what this unit does in its most common configuration in a TV station is it takes in one or more audio/video inputs, encodes them to MPEG-2 program streams for digital television, and finally sends the output out as an ASI stream. An ASI stream is a combined feed of all of the subchannels to be sent over the air plus the metadata (PSIP), and is what is actually modulated and sent out by the transmitter. The PSIP is used as an index by your receiver and populates both the channel definitions and the program/station info that gets displayed in the program guide. That being said, it is the house of cards upon which your entire station is delicately balanced. 😉

In all seriousness, this is one of the strangest, most fragile, and most inherently unsupportable pieces of hardware I’ve ever worked with. The UI from which you have to perform most configuration tasks is based on Microsoft Silverlight, which is a dead-ass format M$ came up with to compete with Flash, which is also a dead-ass format. Double-dead-ass? I dunno. It’s pretty awful and soon I predict that’ll require us to keep some old computer around with an EoL version of Windows and Silverlight installed and no auto updates allowed because M$ will just decide to flush Silverlight away entirely.

There’s also a telnet interface into the thing for which there’s little documentation. Certain configuration tasks (which is to say most of them) require a call in to Imagine Communications support because it’s just… well, at least one person who worked on the software knows how it works, right?

The hardware design is kinda questionable and the firmware hocks up hairballs for no good reason. So far across the three of these I’ve worked with, I’ve experienced phantom frame controller failures, A/V desync, audio loss, video loss, video freeze, video macroblocking, unreported loss of ASI output with invalid picture input, reported loss of ASI output with valid inputs, and one that just plain powered off and restarted during the evening news. Oh, and you see that little display on the front? It CAN display useful status information, but…. doesn’t. Also, Imagine Communications’ idea of a “screen saver” for the little OLED screen is to display “Imagine Communications” on the top line, unmoving, forever… so when you try to view any status/fault info, you’re reading it through a permanent shadow of “Imagine Communications” that’s practically CHISELED into the matrix. Ew.

 

The PISS

Note to self:

The PISS is a magical thing I came up with using a bog standard off the shelf outboard mixer along with the telephone hybrid to perform a few different functions including mix-minus, mono feed to the console, and stereo feed for recording (jock on one channel, caller on the other) to a computer for polishing up and re-airing later. I should really make a proper CAD diagram of this, but come on man it’s called the PISS, and it’s going riiiight in the shitpost category on this blog. The REC switch box thing is there because the USB interface in use was in the Arrakis MARC-16 console AND LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THAT SHITTY THING AGAIN