Current mood…

… hammering dents out of some Aero.100 audio processors the network handed down to us without proper packing for shipment

oh child
One of the better units

It’s a cute little box and works damn well when you don’t smash it to death!!

Great, now I need to know why there’s a WASHDRIVE switch

Since I’m having my car serviced for a transmission valve body issue*, I’m taking the bus and train back to go pick it up and it’s nice off hours. There’s plenty of space for social distancing….

And yes, everyone’s still wearing masks.

But while aboard an otherwise empty train car, I started looking at the control panel through the glass. I mean, it’s some serious industrial design elegance, it just does what it does, for a million plus mile ride.

Odometer reading: almost a million.

But then I noticed something you may not be able to see in the picture: over on the left next to the power/service brake handle is a key switch labeled WASHDRIVE.

Is this something that works with the automation of their wash tunnel? And if so…. do they have tri-color foaming wax? One has to wonder, as you do.

Posting of even less relevant material follows.

Read more “Great, now I need to know why there’s a WASHDRIVE switch”

Delta fun

A while back I bought a semi assembled Anycubic Kossel Linear Plus 3d printer from a Tesla engineer down in the bay area. He was selling it pretty cheap because it had just become a project he couldn’t finish while working 80 hour weeks (WTF, Tesla?!). I completed the build but could just never really get reliable prints from the thing – I’d often have issues with what looked like one of the stepper drivers losing a lot of steps and the effector drifting off to the side.

The stock configuration came with the “Trigorilla” motherboard which is a perfectly fine atmega based board, but doesn’t have support directly for TMC2209 stepper drivers from Trinamic. One of the things that bugged me about the hardware on this printer was that the screws for the endstop switches just barely rubbed on the belts, and, uh, no thanks. The endstops also basically took up about half an inch of possible travel – that could be more build area.

Switches DELETED!

I ran into what was either a bug with Marlin or an issue with the SKR V1.4 Turbo board wherein the three tower motors (some people still call them X, Y, Z, but I’ve also seen Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which makes more sense) would run just fine but the extruder motor wouldn’t turn. The most I could get would be the motor being enabled which caused it to get a hold current, but then it just wouldn’t move. I kinda have in to cargo cult ways and just changed that driver to an A4988 from the old setup. A4988’s still a perfectly fine driver with microstepping, it just isn’t as quiet and doesn’t have the missed step detection, which didn’t matter to me for the extruder which doesn’t have to be an absolute position sort of system.

Now what to do with all this horror pasta?! As soon as I get it up and printing I’m gonna make a little box for the controller.

The bracket it’s on is reused from the stock setup which had the controller right under the heated bed! I didn’t like that. I think that was inherited from the early Anycubic Kossel delta printers which originally came out without the heated bed – that came out as a later option. Mine has the glass bed which I put the build plate sticker on (…why?) – I’ll probably strip that off later as I’m a believer in the magic of the glue stick. All hail the glue stick.

I can’t figure out if it’s actually possible to do Marlin’s delta calibration without a leveling probe. I tried using the delta calibration menus and just didn’t get anywhere. A probe is on order and I’m going to get some spiral wrap or split loom and Velcro for all that… aaaargh!

I’m so exhausted and you can stop blowing shit up now


seriously for the love of eris why can’t there just be a supply chain breakdown affecting only fireworks

That is all

All it’s missing is lorem ipsum dolor …
This shit is both wonderful and a mystery wrapped in an enigma

That Sony disk recorder will be the subject of a strange post because it’s very strange.


Potentially unpopular opinion: I’ve always been fond of Brutalist architecture.

I grew up with a lot of it abundant in the South Florida area where it could be really nice when done right (notably, when concrete was WELL sealed, and humidity buildup was prevented). Some of the structures were pretty damn cool and had things like well sheltered indoor plazas that managed to make an open-air building in Florida heat still comfortable to use.

So… needless to say… I was very amused by this concept, and I never thought I’d say this phrase like, ever—

Brutalist self-storage facility.

There’s a U-Haul building in Roseville, California, that was built in an old hospital. I haven’t found details on when it was originally constructed, but wow it’s Brutalist all right. It had been a hospital until Sutter Health sold it in 1998. It had been a Sierra College campus for a while, was bought by a Bay Area development company and redeveloped in 2014-2017(?) to become an office/school complex, but I guess the demand was low for such at the time. Most of the interior was bashed out, revealing the GLORIOUS CONCRETE… but it still has…..

Stained glass window
Stained glass mini-storage window. Because. Fnord.

…this. It’s actually entirely perplexing – look above the window. I suspect it was probably added while the building was a college, otherwise, the poured concrete probably would have been formed for it directly. Weird, right?

Some of this may have been later construction – it doesn’t match the style

The silly thing about this, of course, is that if this had been a 1970s building, the orange would have been right in place!!! The white walls might have wound up brown, though.

Pictures taken from an old real estate portal listing:

The elevator shaft/mechanical core of the building was built in a way as to look SUPREMELY WEIRD… you know, as you do.

It looks a bit like what you’d get if you flattened the sides of Doofenschmirtz Evil Incorporated. Yes you heard that jingle in your head too.

It’s kinda awesomely cool that U-Haul reuses buildings when possible instead of just buying those weird knock-together storage barns. The one where I ran into the bad case of Truckwall was a former bakery.

Wyness? Why not? WHY?

I was cleaning up and found an old Six-Letter usb charger that I remembered having removed from service but I couldn’t remember why. I opened it up and got a clue right away.

The unpopulated spots on the bottom are for the very important AC line noise filter to keep the high frequency switching pulses from the switch mode power supply from escaping into the house wiring and causing a myriad of interference to tv/radio reception and audio systems (among other things). In many cheap and nasty power supplies that have gone through quality fade, you will find this same issue. What should have been there is a common mode choke that looks like a small transformer, and a safety capacitor. The safety capacitor in this case is one rated to fail non-catastrophically if it suffers a short across its dielectric or a massive over current event from a surge.

Example of a better quality supply’s ac input stage. The common mode choke is seen above, along with several safety capacitors (the white blocks and blue cap at lower right), an inrush current limiter (green, bottom center) and a metal oxide varistor (black, next to ac input plug).

Let’s have a look under the board. On a lot of the supplies I’ve seen cheapened like this, two wire jumpers bypass out the common mode choke. The way this works is it’s basically two inductors wound back to back. Any noise common to both sides is attenuated by being magnetically cancelled out. Neat trick, right? Well, it is if you don’t —-

… you know, cancel out the whole filter entirely

Oopsie poopsie they made a fucky wucky! A real fucko boingo…. No wait, they didn’t, they just didn’t even want to have to change the build of the supply when they ripped out the inductor. The traces just cross over where it would have been inserted into the circuit. Cute. I’m guessing if they ever had to submit a sample of one of these to a potential reseller who was going to run it through EMC testing, they would have added the missing choke and capacitor and cut the shorting traces… then followed up with a production run missing all the parts when the actual order came in.

Of course, the fact this was directly sold via Amazon using a random, rotating six letter brand name, likely appended to a stolen ASIN (don’t even get me started) suggests the risk of anyone ever bothering to test one is approximately zero. I’m pretty sure if it didn’t get banished due to massive electrical noise issues, that unhappy looking melted diode at D1 probably got it hucked unceremoniously in what was supposed to be an e-waste box that I forgot to take for disposal.

Be the roller rink carpet you admire

So I was looking for a picture I took a while back of an audio mixer and searched Google Photos for “mixer”. First result?

Wait a minute… That’s not a KitchenAid over that bowl!

So I figured it was a good time to reboot the ELC automation server for Good Day Sacramento and one of my coworkers has wanted to braid my hair ever since I dyed it all rainbow. Her daughters aged out of letting her braid their hair and she missed doing it… so she braided my mane while ELC juddered back to life. The result is amazing.

The shirt I’m wearing is one I drew on with glow in the dark fabric paint. I wasn’t sure at first if I liked how it came out until I saw how it looks actually worn. It just didn’t look as nice lying flat. I’m gonna have to put a blacklight up at the station somewhere for…. reasons.

Abstract circuit board design under UV light
Glowing more than this XKeys

One bad gloop and she do what I yoinky


Ever seen a TV live truck on scene? Well, if you have, chances are you’ve noticed a thing on top that looks like the top of Crow T. Robot’s head on a tall extendable mast.

What you’re looking at is a foldable microwave dish that can be used to send video from a live shot back to a fixed receiver site that forwards it to the TV studio. At the bottom of it is a remote controlled pair of big chonky motors that let you, standing on the ground, pan or tilt the dish to get it lined up with the receive site so the station can see your live shot coming in.


One of ours got stuck in the up position so I needed to pull it apart and fix it and I intended to take some more pictures of the apparatus as it’s kinda cute – it has two big Bodine gear motors driving worm screw drives via little drive chains, and has limit switch cam assemblies to keep you from going past safe travel limits on the thing.

I found the issue pretty soon after figuring out how to open the weird chassis of the dish motor, which opened vaguely like a milk carton – a hinged milk carton made of sheet metal. I’ve never seen anything quite like that and have to give them points for originality, though, if you had to get in there and the dish was stuck in a position other than straight up, you’d have to disassemble the entire shebang from the sides and take the dish off and everything and eww.

Thankfully, this was stuck straight up, and Tina caught a couple pictures of me working on it after I got it open:

But then the gloop went off.

See, what happened was one of the motor brushes got stuck in the brush holder and wouldn’t advance as it wore down a little, which caused the motor to stop working open circuit. I pulled it apart and managed to get this picture before I realized….. whoops, the armature of the motor and its pressed on bearing were the only thing holding the gloop in. You can see the brush on the right still wedged back in the holder where it can’t actually touch the commutator:

The gloop I refer to is a particularly foul, stinky, sticky, syrupy sort of gear oil, almost all the way up to being a grease in viscosity, but just low enough in viscosity to allow it to make a huge mess in short order. This is the second time I’ve run into it on Bodine motors – there’s no externally visible sign of it having an oil filled gearbox, no fill/drain screw or plug, nothing. You just get a terrible surprise if you dare separate the motor from the gearbox. GLOOOOP.

A fair amount escaped and got all over everything, but there was certainly enough left in the gearbox immersing its guts that I don’t feel I need to disassemble the whole thing and try to refill it. Nah, it’s just a learning experience… AGAIN…. BEWARE THE GLOOP.

Otherwise it will get the song stuck in your head. That song never leaves…. not that it ever has to.

There’s an extended version too