08 July 2017

Father Son electronics projects

Set the scene... the SCSon is now 18 and is a HS graduate.  Now he's on a crash course learning to fly before starting up at ASU (Mega-apologies for the unavoidable pun).  The heavy flight schedule requires his presence at the airport at OMG-O'clock.

He's been using my "alternate" car, a 1991 Miata with enough mile to drive to the moon.  It also means some OEM systems are now INOP.   Like HVAC.  Personally I blame him.  I think his size 13's kicked the connector at the blower in the pax footwell.  But even in the blast furnace that Phoenix is this time of year, it beats the alternative.

But you know what is intolerable?  No Radio!

He returned home a few days saying the radio won't even power up.  So we started some basic debugging...  found the radio I bought 18 months ago when I thought something had died in this radio.  No change.  So that's not the problem.

The manual tells of an interior fuse box outboard of the driver's left thigh.  I relate same to the SCSon (It's far easier for him to self-contort to view these out of the way places than Official Senior Citizen me).  He looked and announced "Nope, not there - just a bunch of connectors".   I asked for a flashlight and assumed the position.  Imagine standing on your head chugging a beer while rubbing your belly.  And located the fuse box.  

His quick survey of the box identified a blown fuse.  

Upon replacement with the 18 month old "new" radio, it worked -- for about one second before **BLAM** and silence.  While the radio is ~18 months old, this is the first time power has been applied.  So I we have a new answer to the question asked 18 months ago "But do you know what you do not get in a $15 car stereo?"  The answer then was "AM radio".  Tonight we can add "quality capacitors!".  That flowery looking component is a blown up electrolytic cap.  The SCSon tells me it was really loud when it blew!  


We'd have to dig deep into the circuit to figure out if this is a boost circuit to power a VFD display or a buck to drop car voltage down to 3-5V for the receiver/power amp.  OTOH, I can replace the entire unit for $10 in the current frys ad.  so any further analysis would be purely academic.

In the meantime, we re-verified only expected 11.5-14v present at the powerlines and re-installing the previous radio works as expected.  Clearly the power supply problem is a radio problem, not an installation problem.







31 May 2017

A huge milestone

Congratulations to the SandCastle Son on his High School graduation!  (pics will have to wait on technology)

His local HS rented out ASU's arena for the event.  Vehicle traffic getting into the event was horrific.    With nearly 900 students walking plus probably ~5 well wishers each means around 5000 attendees.  We finally found 4 seats together way up in the nosebleeds.

And we believe this is the moment we all waited for.  Sorry for the blurry pics, it's the best an 8x optical zoom can do, combined with less than rock solid base and atmospheric distortion given our distance from the stage.  I really should have brought the spotting scope!.

Pedestrian traffic exiting the venue was equally ugly.  But we skipped taking pictures on the South Lawn and made for the truck to beat traffic.  And it wasn't bad.

We had reservations at a local restaurant with three surviving grandparents + special guest Gmma, Local Aunt and mom & dad,  SCSon noted an acquaintance walking through and shook hands..  turns out it was his JROTC opposite at another school.  I really wish I'd gotten a picture.

Selection criteria for the restaurant was "easy access" and "wide menu selection".  Scored on both accounts.  Three of us chose the Fish & Chips, Mom had the Cubano, one GPA had the Filet while the other had the lamb.  Special Guest Gma opted for the french dip.  She didn't even leave any juice behind!  While a little loud, and the service was a bit on the slow side dinner was a success.  The SCSon picked out an apple pie and ice cream for dessert at home.

Congratulations to the SCSon!  You earned it.  But the real test starts in August!  I hope you're smart enough to ask for help when you need it,


18 May 2017

"There are no guns on campus"...

... Said the woman with a Glock on her hip (right next to her "only-one" badge).  Without a hint of irony, I kid you not.

Spent the day at new student orientation for the SCSon's new university.

SCSon had the choice of a standard ID card or a "Sponsoring bank" access card.  They aggressively pushed bank card.  "He doesn't need a credit card" I stated authoritatively.  "But it's not a credit card.  It's a DEBIT CARD!!!" She gushed.

"That's even worse!"  The message was clearly received and we bypassed the serpentine line to sign up with "Sponsoring Bank".

The schedule claimed it would start at 8 am but didn't actually get underway until 0845.    Where they jam packed 30 minutes of material into 7 mind numbing hours.  Plus a lunch I wouldn't pay three dollars for if I had a choice.  Oh and they charged $75/person for the privilege of attending.  And it cost me a vacation day to attend.  SCQueen begged off at lunch... I texted soon after "Pleeease!  Maaake it Stooop!"

A parent asked the glock carrying only one "What about defensive weapons like (sic) Mace".  "Well we wouldn't want anyone to carry anything like* what the police carry.  And besides unless they have it out in their hand when attacked, they won't have time to get it out.  And besides, the attacker will probably just take it away and use it against you."  I wish I was playing Cliche-Bingo!

It was a painful day, but I was there for the SCSon.  And I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to.

At least the SCSon has his fall quarter tentatively set.  He still wants to get signed up for AFROTC too.

PS..  School intentionally left unnamed out of security concerns for the SCSon, not to protect the school.

* Message received: She believes police should always have superior weapons to the unwashed, preferably unarmed, masses.


09 May 2017

Well that bites :-(

Bearing Arms has long been one of the first blogs I check everyday.  I will miss Bob Owens daily commentary.  I will also congratulate him on leaving the property in good hands of Jenn and Beth.  I believe it's in good hands and will continue the daily visits.

Godspeed Bob!  You are already missed.

danno

02 February 2017

Cord -> Cut!

The SandCastle has cut the cord!  We dumped satellite and now cable too.  We still have internet and now our video entertainment comes via that pipe.

Short version:
I'm on a 7 day free trial on both SlingTV($25 Gold/month)  and Sony Playstation Vue (29/month).  The channel lineups are similar but Vue has Discovery but not History.  Sling has the reverse.  Unfortunately History has devolved into a lot of stuff that isn't history:-(  I think Vue will be the keeper.  Discovery is not a Sling TV option.  Both offer FS1 & FS2 so I'll be able to watch F1 racing through the year as well as Daytona 24 hours last weekend and hopefully America's Cup as it comes.  I just wish someone would pick up Reno Air Racing!

I watch via  Roku Express ($29 @ wally world)

tl;dr version:
We switched from Satellite to Cable with the SandCastle move.  We were tired of playing pricing games with Sat TV and mediocre DSL service with ever increasing rates.  Local Cable had just installed Gigabit internet to the neighborhood.  They promised us 1000Mb/sec service along with price savings and a 3 year rate lock with zero installation costs.  Not that we need the bandwidth but it's fun!

I ran a few internet speed tests which rang in around ~960MB/sec.  Not quite the GB promised, but pretty close.  But the savings never materialized.  The monthly bill was within a few $$$ of the satellite bill. The channel selection seemed... deficient.  Turns out the 3 year rate lock was also a lie.  Within just a few months the bill went up.  Checking the "contract" as the old saying goes "what the big print giveth, the small print taketh away!"  This could not be more true when dealing with local cable co.  The SCQueen went to the local outlet to call them on their rate lock promise.  They countered something to the effect of "the rates are locked, the fees are not and we just added new ones".  She ended up telling them to get stuffed.  They cut the line hard - the SCSon's phone call dropped mid syllable.  TV & internet dropped too.  They told her to collect all the boxes and bring them back to the store RSN*.

So we collected all the boxes** & remotes.  The SCQueen was out front of the local outlet before opening Monday AM - along with half-dozen others also revolted by the broken "Rate Locked" promise.  By the time she finished turning in the hardware the line had grown to a couple dozen.  That's a lot of unhappy ex-customers!

Such revolts are surely baked into their rate structures.  I wonder if that includes the money they lost bringing us on as a customer.  Recall above the deal we had they covered installation costs.  It took them 2 or 3 service trips to get the installation right.  They had to trench to bring fiber from the street to the house plus 2-3 service visits get the signal into the house.  I'd guess they spent a couple thou on installation.  I doubt they made it back in the few months we were customers.  Too bad they threw it all away over a rate hike.  Had they kept their promise we'd probably have stuck with them till death do us part!  Local cable take note - your violation of the 3 year rate lock pledge cost you a 30+ year customer!  I suspect by the time a new potential customer moves into the SandCastle, current Gigabit technology will be obsoleted by subspace communications at least mega-gigabit if not giga-gigatbit rates!  Thanks for wasting your money,  I see your business practices and I won't be investing in you anytime soon.  Your short-term-view/long-time-view is a losing model.

* - Real Soon Now
** - but not before logging into the access point and changing the name from "SandCastle HQ" to "Local Cable Co Lies ALot!" (Not the actual names but you get the idea).  Also, I'm sure they will hard reset the modem before passing along to a new customer....  But just in case they don't  mu-hah-hah@!!!!

FTC disclaimer - None of the services mentioned have provided anything for this post.  AFAIK Free trials noted as such as available to anyone. Other services were paid at retail.  freely.  I get no $$ from referals and there aren't any links to refer to anyway..  These are my opinions stop period end.