Meanwhile, in The Cloud…

Radio repeaters

The Walnut Grove Tower Amateur Radio Club, K6DTV, now has both VHF and UHF repeaters. Cool. The UHF might need a better duplexer though. I’m on the lookout for better cans.

Meanwhile, down below, the GatesAir ULXT got hungry and started eating engineers*.

Really, we were changing out a PA backplane where one of those little D shell connectors had gotten too toasted by a loose contact incident. It was an insane process, three of us were taking turns working on the beast, and we had to take out both backplanes to get in because the connectors on the cables from the backplanes to the 90 degree hybrid splitter mounted behind them collided, making it impossible to get it out past the divider that forms the rack between the power supplies and pallets.

Eventually after that and another half hour or so of Fonzieing modules back into contact, green lights.

And blerp. I tried to get a picture of Cassie yawning and got blerp. I love it.

* Really the company calls us maintenance technicians.

No

Behold this absolute steaming turd. One of the engineers was ordered to do this by no less than three levels of our chain of command. I refuse to touch this shit. It’s a violation of every imaginable safety standard and every shred of human decency. In fact I don’t even want to acknowledge its existence. Get this out of here.

Also, hhhhhhhhhhh

Wide open spectrum up there.

Apparently, Galaxy 17 is pretty interesting to tune in nowadays on a Ku band satellite truck, there are exactly three transponders known to be used on there now and they’re all intermittent event feeds. Only thing coming down from there is the beacon.

And in case you’re wondering if you can fit Tauros in the truck:

hey this isn’t my pokeball! let me out of here!

You’re too early

They started decorating the set for Good Day Sacramento on Tuesday. It wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet. They subjected me to that Mariah Carey abomination. I hissed a lot and retreated to the tech core where I have the U-Matic VTRs. Deck the halls with Ampex 197, you heathens.

I just now noticed this was 3M tape, no wonder I wasn’t having to fight with it as much.

I got new sets of drive belts for these machines from Zin VTR Works and now the decks are happy again. So far I have three working, along with one of my own. Wait, one of my own, what? Well I saw this one at PPSP Recycling and bought it. All the belts were snapped but a kit from Zin reawakened it. It’s got mystery field modifications that no one I’ve asked could identify, but it just works as one should.

The panel on the right side normally contains nothing.
In Sony’s bizarre wisdom they decided to put a lot of the analog signal paths on this board that flips up over the transport. Normally the older VO series decks had either a record amplifier or simply nothing up there. Makes head cleanings more fun I guess.

And now, what I’m sure you really came here for: cursed weirdness and memes.

This meter turned out to be affected by some kind of curse that made the resistance measurements fly from about 4K to over range, no matter what range was selected, but still allowed it to zero correctly in all ohms ranges.
This meter is not cursed. For now, at least.
The Nozzle.
This cursed plug that is just asking to light you the hell up
In the case of the cursed meter, this cheap thing I bought off Temu confirmed that I was simply dealing with cursed test equipment. I’m actually surprised at how well it works, but would be terrified of the idea of putting more than like 48vdc into it.

Needs more LED glow

I really like this photo I took of myself on Halloween. Really I could get all fancy like this any time but this was just unusually good.

Then, a few days later, I had to go make a run down to our tower to deal with a lack of LED glow. I guess I could have just put my glasses up on top, but that wouldn’t have been compliant with FAA regulations.

So it turns out this needlessly overcomplicated crazy-ass thing that communicates with all the LED tower strobes will get stuck in A Bad State if the strobes lose power, and you have to reboot it. Weirdly, unlike every other tower strobe system I’ve ever worked with, if you lose communications or the controller dies, it seems like the strobes just power down and do nothing. Most I’ve worked with have a failsafe that comes right up wherein they switch to day mode (maximum intensity) and just strobe without any regard to synchronization. The effect of this is a tower that looks like a funky twinkling disco ball, but remains visible.

 

You… what now?

By pressing down this special key, it plays a little melody.

 

Ultimately, it would turn out nothing was blown and the controller needed a full power cycle, NOT a press of its reset button which stands out there right below that row of red LEDs. Go figure.

Videonics video mixer/switcher power supply

Videonics video editing switchers are pretty common but their power supplies are also commonly lost. The connector is a standard 6 pin DIN type and here is the pinout:

Pins 1 and 4: +5vdc (probably regulated) 4.5 amps

Pins 2 and 5: ground

Pin 3: +10vdc 0.4 amp

Pin 6: -10vdc 0.4 amp

I haven’t looked inside the switcher to see if it needs the +/-10v to be regulated voltages. My guess is the +5 needs to be. If I had to homebrew a power solution for one of these I’d probably start with a PC power supply and run the +/- 12 rails through buck converters or LM7810 + LM7910 regulators (my guess is that the load on these channels is pretty minimal).

Very proud of those knobs, are we?

I got an Alta Cygnus video frame sync/processing amp a while back that didn’t work because the cap from its fuse holder was missing. No big deal, just gotta open it up and change the holder.

Well, somehow this completely escaped me ever photographing the process or what’s inside the unit, but it’s got one hilarious “feature” I have to wonder about.

Simple. Elegant. MADNESS.

So, the chassis of the unit has the motherboard (enormous square monster utterly tessellated in DIP ICs) screwed to the bottom panel. The top cover slides forwards to remove it and it’s one piece, including that very 1980s chamfer.

Do you…. do you already see what that means? If you were expecting it to be cursed, yes, you do…

See all those knobs? Every one of them is a very nice little molded plastic knob with a metal insert that holds it to the control shaft with a small hex screw.

Every one of them has to come off to slide off the cover.

Yeah. Sure. That was a great idea.

It’s the top of the line of utility sports, unexplained fires are a matter for the courts

I mean, once I got past that and replaced the fuse holder it looks like it’s gonna work perfectly fine. But seriously, what on earth?!

These brochure pages are all the documentation I can find on the unit, I’d love to score a manual though as there are a lot of internal adjustments and dip switches I’m curious about. But am I curious enough to have to remove and reinstall all those knobs?!

Send transmission from the one armed scissor

It’s been way too long since I’ve updated anything here. I’m definitely burned out like one of those terrifying light bulbs and my work environment is really absolute blowage like a poorly balanced 5015 blower hanging off a 3d printer carriage and making the print look absolutely raunchy as its vibration slightly shifts the base of a bridge in the print as the GCode rolls off an M106 S255 to increase airflow. Not that I’d know anything about that. (I wonder if ebm papst makes 5015 size blowers? Their dynamic balancing is TOP NOTCH.) Yeah uh. In the last few weeks we upgraded the brains of our stupid robot camera pedestals and now they’re…. somehow less reliable. Cool.

Meanwhile I experienced a really dumb thing: after one of our new members of the engineering team was telling me about the features of his Prusa 3d printers, I realized I have a couple that were sidelined ages ago due to failures I didn’t really understand how to fix, and… Oops now I have too many working machines

Fun fact: the big delta had been previously, incorrectly assembled by a Tesla engineer and had never successfully printed anything. It works now!

Everyone in the room understood me when I said “oops I accidentally printed a Triscuit”. This is the result of accidentally using a stock ender 3 profile in PrusaSlicer on one of the two direct drive machines up on top here with an all metal hotend, that setup really doesn’t like the 5mm retraction distance! 1mm works fine.

Oops I forgot the bean dip

The Ender 3 is running Klipper now. This one has a Creality 1.1.3 mainboard which I should just replace – it’s fairly awful. The CPU on it doesn’t have enough storage for Marlin to use its latest and greatest bed mesh leveling tricks (the UBL features). That being said it’s also kinda short on pins….. but it isn’t! Note this unused EXT-A2 header in the middle with the capacitor stuffed in it. It goes to pin PA2 / 29 on the CPU. Marlin calls it 29, Klipper calls it PA2. Creality famously never provided schematics for this board so I stabbed it with a Fluke till I found it. I soldered on a header and put the cap back as well.

On a side note be very very careful if you buy a Creality branded Bltouch. Their ribbon cable has the wire colors completely wrong. Go by pin number, DO NOT TRUST THE COLORS. The only reason this atrocious board didn’t blow up from having its +5v rail shorted to ground by the Bltouch cable when I went by color code was that it is simply such a stubborn abomination with its loud ass A4988 stepper drivers that sound like a running toilet that it simply refused to be cleansed from the earth by a mere short circuit. Well that and think it essentially just has a LM7805 on there somewhere.

There’s also this post on Simon’s Tech Blog detailing some more intricate hacking of this board by repurposing an SD card IO line, though not the low hanging fruit there on pin PA2. I’ll be honest, it was kinda me seeking an *easy* place to land the BLTouch control wire that led me to look here.

I mean it about the running toilet noises. It’s kinda obnoxious. I remember my Monoprice mini delta printer* making these sounds too and…. ugh.

* probably a lost cause and it’s been thrown in my bin of crap to trade to a fellow tinkerer for something I actually want. On a side note I started looking at my old Monoprice Select Mini V2 last night and realized maybe I can revive that thing too.. But why? Or why not? Uhhh.

Anyway, now for an assortment of fine balderdash.

“hey, it’s warm in here, I wonder why?”

Thankfully this all just hosed off. This condenser is less than a month old.

Not pictured, sadly: the surprise indoor waterfall that occurred when an air vent valve on the chilled water air handler in one room at work blew up following a chiller failure. Squirt, squirt. 💦💦💦

Suddenly the logo changed on this one screen. I’m pretending not to notice. HhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
After that air conditioning meltdown you bet you’re gonna be able to lure me into a scene live on air with popsicles.

Nyaaaaaa.

Let’s rotate the board.

Several times in my adventures working on broadcast transmitter sites, I’ve walked in on a facility absolutely roasting itself to death because the batteries died in a digital HVAC thermostat.

Today was another one of those and it was the strangest. I’m not even going to try to explain what the hell happened because I don’t even know, but I can tell you that apparently, the Maxiva XTE exciters react by just turning everything into a bad game of Numberwang.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/track/nummerwang

In all seriousness though, one exciter developed massive phase noise which led to viewer complaints of not being able to watch the channel, and the other drifted off frequency and wouldn’t go back. I wonder if it’s got packing foam glued over the oscillator like the old Apex?

Another day in paradise
Hooking up the GPS antenna along with the external 10 mhz reference… Look at this graph! But alas
This whole thing is uh, never mind, here’s some TCFW.
Picture unrelated, but I just love how this looks with translucent circuit boards.