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

Better late than never– the arcy sparky harmonic filter

I forgot to post this over a year ago…

So we were working on the old Continental Electronics 816R that sadly later got nuked by the Carr Fire when we heard a voice come out of the power amplifier.

Uhhh, FM transmitters don’t usually do that.

In addition it kept arcing plate voltage to ground with an irritating snapping sound and restarting repeatedly so it needed some work.


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Caution: cuteness ahead!

I came home and found this happy crescent roll on my pillow

She started to stick out a paw and I put my hand near it and she put her little peet on my hand and pulled it closer

Then I found myself confused as suddenly there was a big shrimp on the pillow

Eventually we were treated to some major sleepy happy kitty action

And once again I foolishly placed my hand under her little chin aaaaaand zonk I’m a kitty pillow

The Sprint Magic Box

It’s long been my opinion that Sprint’s network is basically a stack of weird LTE extender technologies stacked in a trenchcoat pretending to be a network.

They started out with some very curious CDMA sites, then upgraded to LTE, working alongside Ericsson.

Alongside their EvDO “3G” network, they offered the Airave device, which was a home bridge device that offered a femtocell connected to your existing home internet to improve service in areas where it’d otherwise be weak.

The latest take on this is the “Magic Box” which is a small LTE repeater/extender.

I found one in a junk shop and pulled the covers to reveal the “magic”.

Top of the unit showing the GPS antenna. The device is intended to stand in a window with this up and facing the glass. It’s really meant to sit in a window, as the donor antennas to connect to the existing LTE network are all on the back side…

I believe this is an array of 800 MHz and 2.5 GHz panel antennas. Not sure if this unit also uses the 1.7 GHz band.

On the side that faces the user, there’s a smaller 2.5 GHz panel, and a set of WiFi antennas. The black pad is just foam to support the cool e-paper display…

The big capacitive sensor on the bottom front is the wake-up button you use to start the unit.

Unfortunately that’s as far as it’ll get, as Sprint has allowed their service to degrade to non-existent in my city.

You can often get the display to do stupid things showing some basic widgets as it glitches out.

There is no Ethernet jack on this unit. Some hackers have reported the presence of a 3 pin serial header to get in to the bootloader, but I’m not sure where this lives – further disassembly may be needed.

It’s also documented that there’s a tamper detection system built in to prevent the device for being modified to do Evil Things to the network and/or users’ data.

It’s an interesting device, and I find myself wondering what the performance of those antennas is. They’re pretty impressive and would certainly net you more signal than the tiny stripline antennas inside your handheld device!


I can’t even. The wall shaker A/C was iced over when I got to the site and a mix of frost and mildew was coating the front grill. I set it to fan only and let it sit there and think about what it had done while I went up to the Ace Hardware and got some coil cleaner. Here it is initially, after most of the ice melted.

slinger ring fan description
that sloshy noise making thing

Then I shut it and the small backup unit above it off, applied the coil cleaner to the evaporators and condensers of both, waited ten minutes, hosed them down thoroughly with my pump sprayer bottle full of water, and turned them back on.

Seems I forgot about four important things:

A) both sets of condenser coils and evaporator coils had a massive amount of oily smoke residue from the wildfires and the transmitter fire on them;
B) when you use this cleaner, it saponifies oily (non polar) residues into a soap that will bind to water molecules for easy removal, using a nice amount of sodium metasilicate as an alkali reagent;
C) the drain pans on most modern wall/window A/C units RETAIN some water and use a slinger ring on the condenser fan to throw it on the coils;
D) this action will cause a lot of air to be entrained in whatever condensate water runs into the pan….

I heard the fan speed slow on both units after they’d been running a while and looked out to find this great outpouring of suds that smelled strongly like ass. Assfoam. ew. ASSFOAM!!! Get it out of here! Ugh.

While this was all happening, one of the neighbors came walking up, noticed my Golden State Pinball Festival shirt, and asked me how a Death Save is supposed to work. I admitted to him that while I know how it works, I’ve never been successful in coming away with anything but a bunch of tilt warnings and sore hands. (It’s banned in tournament play as it can cause player injury and damage to the pinball machine. Don’t do it on someone else’s game, or on yours if you don’t like the idea of damaging the legs and cabinet, mmkay?) Video of a successful Death Save below.

Here’s the Death Save in action. It’s fairly brutal. If the ball right drains on me I just let it go, but I’ll certainly shake the game around a bit to try to bounce the ball out of the outlane area before it decides to sink in there!

Here’s the more dangerous (to the player!) left-handed brother, the Bang Back… it doesn’t appear to be as likely to damage the game, but as they mention in the video, you can break your wrist trying to save the ball!

Of all games they could have chosen to demonstrate this on— they chose the mighty, heavy, widebody Twilight Zone!!! Hardcore.

Here’s another video where several different types of nudges are shown as a game is being played and explained, including forward nudges to bounce the ball off of the rubber parts near the outlane to get it out of harm’s way, and sideways nudges for slap saves of balls headed straight down the middle [SDTM].


More old Honeywell thermostat fun

Previously, and thermionic valve based.

One of the sites I work on has two old Honeywell thermostats on the wall that are like nothing I’ve seen elsewhere and it kinda intrigues me. These have a small bellows inside and act upon temperature changing the pressure of gas sealed within it. I wonder if they have to thus be calibrated for altitude?

I’d guess circa 1960s-1970s based on the date of other gear at this site.

First, the cooling thermostat – it’s a pretty straightforward mercury switch two-stage type. BIG mercury switches, though – much bigger than Honeywell would have put in their standard home HVAC controls…

The setpoint is adjusted using the hex screw on the side.

Next, the heating thermostat, which really had me scratching my head:

The contact arrangement is curious. This thermostat does not appear to just switch on and off, rather, its output appears to be a variable wirewound resistor! Said resistor is also mounted far from the bellows, so it’s definitely not just an anticipator resistor. This makes me wonder if it was actually more of a remote sensor to something fancier—? Apparently it’s a “proportional control” and I wonder what the original heating system up there was. The original HVAC system has been mostly removed and replaced with a boringly modern one.