That moment when you find a very load bearing server on which a process has been repeatedly crash dumping since about August this year, squirting out thousands of 512Kbyte dump files until it’s generated about 1.7 terabytes of them and the machine is almost out of disk space, you find that any attempt to delete them barely deletes, oh, maybe one or two files per second, and then you find out that the mechanical hard drive based raid volume the thing runs on has never once been defragmented since the day it was commissioned
I’m sorry, it’s time to go home and cuddle with Cassie now
Hey, I got all the modules for the transmitter repaired, let’s go put them all back in there! First, I’m just gonna switch to the aux and……
I do not know what came out of that transmitter, but it was not proper digital television. It had a carrier, and it had maybe some sort of data, but it wasn’t television. It was FIVE TONS OF FLAX or some shite I dunno.
The GatesAir Maxiva XTE exciters were violently unhappy.
I wish I’d saved a screenshot of the exciter user interface but it really didn’t tell me much other than that where you go in and it will tell you what service PIDs are present in your ASI stream, it just showed what looked like a bunch of line noise. Rebooting the exciter didn’t help. Ugh, software corruption again? Maybe— but I decided to go to GatesAir’s support site and look to see what the latest version of the exciter software was, if I was just gonna be reloading it anyway… and saw that the changelog mentioned a fix to a failure that occurs specifically when you’re feeding them from a Harmonic Electra X… which we are. One awkwardly long software load process later, I have two working exciters on the aux again, and I can continue! I wonder how much packing foam and glue this model contains?
Installing the missing PA modules, then removing, reinstalling them, wiggling them around until they fully make contact (why?!), then reinstalling the modules adjacent to them when they got loose and threw “PA not present” faults got all but two modules up and running— one down with bad power transistors (ANOTHER?!) and one with an “RF Off Warning”.
The one with the “RF Off Warning” was suffering only from a very familiar and ultimately harmless problem—
Let me once again state my eternal love for these MADDENINGLY CURSED D-SUB POWER CONNECTORS where the pins fall out and back into the module. Ye gods… STAGE PIN CONNECTORS would be an improvement over this, and I have a dislike for those things that’s just about palpable. (It helps in that case that I’ve had several of them explode into showers of sparks and smoke in my hands while working on studio lighting.)
Gee, I wonder why the transmitter says PA3 RF OFF WARNING? Yeah, you kinda need power to make RF…
Next time remind me to not skip going to get the powered screwdriver to do this, that’s like two bakers’ dozen screws and takes forever to get into.
I swear, there is just no end to the fun with this transmitter. Let this be a lesson to you all, do not defer maintenance for five years while your station is a Shitclair property and let your transmitter cook in 110 degree heat every summer of that because your air conditioners are slowly becoming piles of green rust. Also keep up with your software updates. Also HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Plenty of that.
Oh hi. There’s a slightly modified screenshot of a page from our building’s Johnson Controls Metasys UI while it was trying to roast our morning show hosts and stage guys to death and I was trying to get it to kindly, you know, not.
This is for the studio air handing unit. It just blasts cold air into the studio and does not have heating features built in. Various people have asked me at times why the heating doesn’t work. It just now occurs to me I could show them this graphic – no heating coils, reheat, or connection to the gas furnace next to the air handler exist for a now obsolete reason: this studio used to originally be lit by a multitude of terrifying hot lights to the point that heating would not be necessary while the studio is in use. Here’s the air handler viewed from outside:
A couple years ago I used to have trouble with the programming on this drive, but that’s long since resolved. The issue I was having was that it was just constantly getting a command to run at 00.00 Hz, which meant no blowy. A quick glance at Metasys showed me that it was calling for 100% chilled water flow to the coil and it was nice and cold inside the air handler, so I just hit battle short on the bypass there to get it going and cool the studio while I investigated. After the fan came up at 60.00 Hz (absolutely fearsome) it sucked one of the doors closed as I walked past it and tore my pants halfway down the side. Nice.
Anyway… Back to looking at the controls. The system cycled once like that, reaching the setpoint temperature and overshooting it slightly, then slamming shut the chilled water valve and letting the studio overheat again. When it had actually cooled the place down I went back up the roof and took the drive out of override, but now it stopped the fans too. Hmm.
This time I set Metasys in override. On each of those control parameters (return fan output, supply fan output, mixed air damper, and chilled water valve output) I could override them to nonzero values and the command would take effect! The only thing that was missing was any semblance of thermostatic control whatsoever. The system was just any degree between on or off I wanted… but once set like that, the studio temp would just drift up or down… I just about froze Tina and Courtney who were sitting right under vents. Aaaaaaaaaa! A call was placed at 8 am for the one and only controls tech in the area, who came out and spent several hours on the hellbeast.
After a while of scratching his head over the way our BACNET system was configured and how it was just spouting communication errors, the controls tech spotted one of these thermostats on the wall of the mechanical room with its display dark. Curious, we thought… I grabbed a meter and tested between the wires in it and found about 3.6 volts AC where there should be 24.
Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of the inside of it but it’s basically just like any normal thermostat, just with a BACNET connection in addition to the normal R, RC, C, Y, G, W, and Y wires. It basically just lets Metasys schedule occupancy and setpoints and monitor the status and temp. The menu system is maddening.
So I walked over to the electrical panel for the air handler it controlled and saw the breaker appeared to be on. I turned the breaker off and back on and the thermostat lit up and the blower started. 26.1 V AC appeared between R and C.
At this point I went back into the studio, wound up the timer switch on the wall that serves as the manual zone occupancy override, and after a couple minutes, the blowers started and the water valve opened until the discharge air temp met the setpoint. (Yes… It’s even adjustable!)
So uhhhhh, what the heck? My only thought is that when that wall thermostat was getting 3.6v (why that and not zero???) it was just getting enough power to make the microcontroller or RS-485 line driver in there wake up and periodically yeet glitches into the BACNET void
The controls tech explained to me that it works like Token Ring. If the token falls out of a powered down thermostat in an empty mech room, does it make a sound? Really this all reminds me of something the Space Toilet used to do wherein you could mess up its canbus network and make the amplifiers blink on and off like holiday lights from hell.
So once again I was asked to look at one of our transmitters as after it got split, reconfigured, unsplit, and put back on air, it was only making 75% power… then suddenly, 50%. Very weird. Faults showed an intermediate power amplifier not working, but why? After trying to swap it I noticed one of the power pins on this weird connector at the back had kinda fallen into the module. Here’s the connector and the back of the module.
The connector is a DB 5W5 which is modular and lets you field configure it for whatever floats your boat. In this case it’s four big high current pins and one RF connector.
After not having any luck swapping the module and noticing it seated kinda weird, I called up GatesAir support and was asked to inspect the matching connector on the backplane.
Well There’s Your Problem, they’re all BURNINATED.
Here’s the inside of the module from when I opened it to reseat the pin.
I told my director of engineering about what I found and I’m pretty sure his response was:
The parts quote was $1900 for the backplane and they still haven’t quoted me for the part on the modules. To be honest I don’t think they even like talking to me at all, even when I’m just being a proper friendly person just trying to make wattage.
Then I learned that my director of engineering just resigned. He’s going over to PBS. I’m really happy for him but trying to think of how we’re going to reorganize has me all
Anyway, an afternoon run up to the forest, a day off after spending so much time on that transmitter, and some kitty cuteness helped quell the possum hissing.
Potentially useful reaction pic:
Transmitter bear, high up in the sierras:
A PissTek fan? No wait. Remember how I said I like how radio doesn’t have graphics systems? This video card’s fans both locked up and killed a big monitor wall. The video processor for this is a single point of failure (of course) and the wall is pretty much the entire news set (of course). These frameless fans are of an unobtainable size but I found that an 80mm x 10mm fan would fit here. These are also vanishingly rare but I was able to get some that Digi-Key still has…
Gingy and Scrappy love the cool, freshly pressure washed patio.
This poor thing was running on EMPTY, time to juice it up! Let’s see, uh…. wait. You can’t just let it draw the solution in out of a bucket, you must use an external pump to force it in there! The expansion tank is very much on the wrong side of the pump to make pressurizing the system the same way you do with the newer systems possible.
Oh and it’s all on the outdoor side and the pumps get all nasty due to weather exposure. Both of these units have one bad pump each. Yaaaackkkk.
I unfortunately didn’t get pictures of the mess that occurred when the charging pump blechhhhh’d all over the floor or when that main vent pictured above inexplicably yacked on the wall behind it but suffice to say mess was made here.
Ever had water start gushing out of something that’s fundamentally made of eldritch terror and high voltage? Why I’ve never…..
And it gave me a nice shower the moment I got the door open. And I accidentally did the Wrong Button Thing again in the confusion.
So the fitting that became a showerhead is the one on the left. I didn’t get a picture of it but basically it’s the same as half of that coupler I found in a parts box that’s sitting on top… However it didn’t have the O-ring. The snapped trapezoidal profile ring sitting on the right sits in the bottom of the socket. The fitting plugs in there, held against the trapezoidal ring by two locking pins, you can see the head of one of them on top here. I can’t identify the type of connector or even find any evidence that it ever existed. Anywhere. Needless to say I didn’t have a spare for that ring, but luckily taking one of the round o rings off that close nipple and putting it in the seat in the socket and reinstalling the thing worked! No more warm shower of DI water.
Oh, and now I know how the funky bascule bridges work. A rather buzzy motor cranks up in there and rotates pinion gears that engage with rack gears on these two long braces on each side of the bascule, which protrude outward from the waterway to lift the well balanced assembly. You would be well advised to stay clear of that counterweight as it comes awkwardly close to the road surface as it nears fully open!
And this is uhh, Stuffing Shit In Tower Elevators, Medium Difficulty Level. I rode down squatted inside the cabinet and it wasn’t the best. The elevator is kinda both bigger and smaller than it looks as it’s a weird shape and the control cabinets stick out. If there isn’t a large object rammed in the, there’s enough space to comfortably sit down on the floor as it slowly creeps its way up or down at 85 feet per minute.