Emergency washing machine spin noises

For when you have a critical lack of washing machine noises in your life:

Huebsch! Good luck figuring out how to pronounce this.

The machine this came from is, amusingly, Raytheon branded…!!


There’s gotta be some silly history behind that… Alas it is a mystery to me.

High and dry – the Dielectric/SPX Dehydrator

This little monster showed up at my doorstep and I decided to see if I could get it running again. It’s an air dehydrator, which compresses air, separates the moisture out and ejects that, then uses it to pressurize an RF transmission line to avoid moisture intrusion.



The instructions mentioned a humidity sensor inside that has to be replaced every couple years of operation. I removed it and took a look, it showed no signs of wear or contamination. Upon powering the unit up I got a humidity alarm and the unit would just vent air via a “humidity bypass” burp valve inside which prevents it from firing wet air up the feedline should something go wrong internally.



After it ran on my bench for a while, the humidity alarm cleared and it pressurized its tank and was ready for business. The humidity sensor goes in that brass block with the 115V warning on it; the two cylinder blocks behind it contain the moisture absorbing material. The timer to its right controls some pneumatic valves which drop the pressure in the dessicant cylinders to zero every 30 seconds while the pump is running, firing air (and WATER!) out a waste hose in the back.image


On the right is the Gast pump that compresses air up to 40 PSI to run the works. On the left is all the control logic. The other unit I’ve worked with before is an Andrew DryLine, which just has one simple programmable logic controller board in it. This one, well, looking at it makes me think that the people who designed it chose to build their job security into the control logic – what even IS all of that?! 😉 The four pole contactor at the bottom doesn’t appear to actually be what controls the pump turning on and off. I… don’t even know. It works, that’s the important part. The humidity bypass valve is under that threaded hex nut/nipple on the left, and the time delay relay brick below it appears to be responsible for firing off the Excess Run alarm should a pump run cycle last too long (usually, this would signify an air leak!)image



The pump is cycled on and off by a simple Square D Pumptrol air pressure switch… off at 40 PSI, on at 20 PSI.image

An amusing note I found on the Gast pump. I’ve seen similar pumps used for a lot of laboratory applications including as low vacuum pumps, for things such as providing suction in dental offices (that slobber extraction hose they hang in your mouth)… Well, once the pump’s been used like THAT, they don’t want it back! Can you really blame Gast? 😉

imageThe Gast pumps are field rebuildable with a seal/gasket kit to keep the unit in service. On this unit, loosening four screws flanking the gray upper front cover is all you need to do to be able to reach in there and pop open the air inlet filter on the pump for cleaning, check the tank pressure, and get to most of the control logic. This is a sharp contrast to the Andrew unit I’ve worked on where you have to remove the whole thing from the rack and pop eight screws from the top cover to get to the filter, which the datasheet claims is behind the front access panel (NOPE!!!).


Parking Wars…

My workplace has a dedicated parking lot, in an area where parking is rather scarce. Ask nicely and it’s different, but throw your cars at us and run and you’ll soon be facing locked gates and some annoyed broadcast engineer posting pictures of your cars online to ridicule you for being a douchecanoe. How many more “reserved parking only” signs do we need?!


Out, foul demons of stupidity!

Vintage Marmaduke is completely horrifying.

Hey guys and gals! Do you like the Marmaduke comics in the Sunday paper? Well… they’re kind of bland and uninteresting nowadays. Vintage Marmaduke, however, was a completely different beast.

A terrifying beast, feared, respected, who ruled over humans with an iron paw. His scale could change at whim too, everywhere from “normal dog” to “BIGGER THAN A DAMN HOUSE”.

You did not cross old-school Marmaduke and live to tell about it.

The images below were looted from a 4chan /co/ thread, using 4Chan Downloader. Incidentally, /co/ is the BEST board ever. Aaaaand now… behold the horror!! Some of these images have been creatively edited, including one in which someone vandalized the original book while it was circulating at the library where it was found. The original filenames from the OP* on /co/ have been preserved and will be visible when you click an image in the gallery.

* OP = Original Poster

Coral Way’s better half


Sometimes there are these lulls in traffic and it all goes silent spare the wind in the trees.

The tree lined median used to hold a high speed trolley line. As elegant as the trees are, I’d like to see the trolley return.

The Night of the Smoking Dummy Load.

A couple of months ago, I had a silly adventure. I was at the Homestead tower, just a couple blocks down the street from a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue station that was, at that time, on “brownout” due to Miami-Dade County budget issues. If you want to learn more about how Miami-Dade’s budget and politics work, I recommend you go check out Eye On Miami — I distance myself from politics to make life more pleasant.

The first thing I’m greeted by is a blaring fire alarm in the hallway of the transmitter building and a really foul electrical fire smell, but no particularly visible smoke. I figured either it wasn’t a particularly big one or it had already gone out and the smoke had been evacuated by an exhaust fan. Either way, I proceeded carefully inside and found the alarm belonged to one room on the first floor with the transmitters for Minnesota Public Radio’s classical station. I called their central control as indicated on the door while using an Xcelite “greenie” as a Sonic Screwdriver to gain access.

Harris HT 25 FM - Well it WAS black once.
Harris HT 25 FM – Well it WAS black once.

Inside I found everything coated in some kind of white sticky filth. The air filter on the Harris HT 25 FM transmitter’s power supply was totally caked in it and I’d first assumed this may have been the source, as the power supply was subsequently running too hot to touch. Keep in mind this is a power supply unit the size of a Volkswagen Type 1 “bug”.

At this point he had an engineer on the way to look at it but our conversation turned to what on earth had Let The Smoke Out. See, there’s a theory with electronics, they all work because they have this Magic Smoke sealed inside at the factory.


Once you let the smoke out, the device never functions again, and it is impossible to force it back in there. Now I wish I’d scraped some of that white gookus off, maybe someday science can figure out how to coalesce it back into injectable Magic Smoke essence. Aaaanyway…..

The person at MPR indicated that he’d had contractor after contractor working on the site, whose maintenance is principally contracted out to Clear Channel Miami. His only indication that there might have been any trouble was that he tried to run a backup transmitter at the site and “it just wasn’t coming up right”. I proceeded to clean their filters while I waited for someone to arrive. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shortly afterwards I found some very melty things in the vicinity of the dummy load. The site has two transmitters, one antenna, and one dummy load. A coax switch in a DPDT (double pole / double throw) configuration routes the output of both transmitters so that if one is set to antenna, the other is set to dummy load. This way one of them can be run for testing/maintenance while the other is on air, seamlessly. Smokelessly, even, if everything works right…. which it didn’t really.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe object seen here is the top of the dummy load. Down inside the gray box, there is a star shaped holder clamped to the tops of six noninductive “Globar” type resistors that go down a chimney with a blower at the bottom. RF is applied to the top and grounded at the bottom, and they’re paralleled to form a load that presents 50 ohms impedance at  up to 25,000 watts…. IF THE AIR IS FLOWING. Unfortunately, there was a little oopsie. Note the heat darkening to the metal grille, the white gook splattered on the two pieces of spare feedline to the left…


The air coming out of the load by convection was probably over 500 degrees F. It seems like the resistors got just hot enough to smoke off the coating on the outside but not actually burn out or crack – the load actually tested 50 ohms at DC after the incident.

In the above picture you can see a Bird wattmeter line section. The “slug” which contains the coupling circuitry to pass a reading down the cable as a DC current is not in it. Here is what happened to the slugs from the heat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I call these flame broiled Birds.

The plastic top on one actually became convex and pushed the label off; on the other, the plastic bottom that protects the sampling element warped and tried to fall down the line section when I removed the slug. It’s actually fascinating to see how these work inside, they’re sort of a non-contact coupling with an L/C circuit and a diode. One of these days I’ll have to learn the magical theory as to how these directional couplers work. (Yes, they’re directional – they measure the power flowing in the direction the arrow is pointed, and you can turn them around to switch between measuring forward and reflected power!)

The backup transmitter was a Rockwell-Collins that looked distinctly older than I am. The other guy who showed up on site (whose name I have sadly forgotten) went to turn it on. He pressed filament on… and the dummy load’s blower began running with no problem. Mystery upon mystery, what happened? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this point we waited for a “ready” indication telling us it was time to turn on the high plate voltage to make it start.


The old beast had none.


I was actually wondering if it’d light the Plate Off button or something as a ready indication, but it didn’t do that either. I started messing with the multimeter function on the front panel and observed that the meter didn’t work right, and the exciter’s power seemed to have flicked on and off a time or two. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With us both standing in front of the transmitter, he reached for the PLATE ON button.

Old tube broadcast transmitters like this usually run 4000-9000 volts DC on the plate at several amps. When voltage like that finds an unwarranted path, the whole unit tends to respond with an unwelcome BANG. Knowing this, I just about dashed from the room before he could touch the button.

It made two wimpy clacks, but nothing happened. The plate voltage kind of wobbled around but the wattage never went anywhere. The multimeter (when I could get it to work) indicated that the bias voltages were there, but it looked like one supply voltage was missing in action.

He asked me if I had any ideas. I looked at his feet and saw that he was wearing sandals. I was wearing steel toe boots. I said, “Hold on, I’ve got this” and kicked the unit in the front panel. The sound from the transmitter gained a bassier thrumming note, and a glance at the 1897867_10202606324673089_224100874_nmeters showed 25,000 watts output.

To repair something like this, you must truly understand it.

Last I heard they were going to go back in there and reverse-engineer the mess that was made of the control wiring to allow this transmitter to run without the load blower running and its airflow vane switch moving. Alas, the only way I will ever know for sure is the smoke test: Did the building fill with smoke again?

I’m also hoping that Harris HT 25 FM gets a very good internal cleaning at some point. They are known for making some spectacular bangs when they get unhappy.

So long, and thanks for all the mold.

American Tower bought out Dickland.. I mean Richland… And they started cleaning house.



The mold on the walls is being removed… And the HVAC works now



The gaping holes in the entry panel have been plugged



A door mat!



I’m a happy engineer.



Boo yeah.

They still have some work ahead of them though. The tower’s elevator is hosed.



Unlike Richland, they are actually trying to get it fixed… Dickland had told me before that they wouldn’t even touch it till October. Foul demons. Ding dong the witch is….. Downsized out of a job.

Publix in 2014, for when it all changes.



Someday years from now we’ll look back on this in amazement and nostalgia – this is how the supermarket used to look. Funny how that will eventually work.


Publix, Hollywood Mall, Hollywood, Florida. (The second most famous Hollywood.)