Archive for October, 2005

Yay for the MPD…

A new WCCO story about Bryan Anderson… most notable is the final sentance:

Police said they do not think the people were urban explorers.

Which of course makes me happy. File under ‘D’ for “dumbass”, not ‘E’ for “explorer”. Also worth noting is that the article makes no mention of what UE is or entails, suggesting that awareness of UE is becoming mainstream. Some may be saddened, or angered, or joyed, at this… but that’s the way it looks to me, anyway.

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, Urban Exploration | on October 22nd, 2005 | Comments Off on Yay for the MPD…

Funny… but for real?

A post on Kos details the “Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Date Republicans” as – supposedly – written by California Representative Linda Sanchez. It’s hilarious, and all too true… I’m just not convinced it’s actually something that the Representative wrote, as I can’t seem to find it on her website. Nonetheless…

10. The only time they believe in fiscal restraint is when the dinner bill comes.

9. His idea of getting to second base is fondling my stock portfolio.

8. He thinks that Emily’s List is a call girl service.

7. His idea of oral stimulation is getting me to recite the Contract with America.

6. He thinks that white pantyhose and pearls are sexy–and you should see what he wants me to wear.

5. Because when Republicans say that they want to create opportunities for minorities, that means they want to date me and [her sister] Loretta.

4. Despite all the hype, I still can’t find his weapon of mass destruction.

3. His pending prison term for political corruption is just another excuse for him to be emotionally unavailable.

2. Republicans are only interested in screwing the poor.

1. Because they make love like they make war: they lie to get in and don’t have a plan for what to do once they get there.

If anyone can prove or disprove that it came from the Congresswoman, I’d love to hear it…

Published in: General | on October 21st, 2005 | Comments Off on Funny… but for real?

Whee – Thump!

Last night, Bryan Eric Anderson of Robbinsdale, MN, was either:

A: very, very lucky;
B: very, very drunk;
C: conceived by space-aliens and thus more resilient to damage that homo sapiens.

It seems he fell about seventy feet down a shaft in a disused grain mill in Minneapolis while doing Gods-know-what with two friends in the middle of the night. Although he apparently escaped unharmed, according to media reports, local fire departments took the opportunity to practice their technical-rescue techniques on him, extricating him on a backboard up the seventy-foot shaft, and then down to the ground back below.

Good practice for those occasions when they might have to rescue an actually injured party from confined spaces somewhere, but one has to wonder what he was doing in the building. Drinking? Vandalizing? He doesn’t seem to be either an Urban Explorer or Urban Invader (the latter being the mentally-challenged bastard half-sister of Urban Exploration), which is a good thing…

Well, as I always say, when in doubt, file under ‘D’, for “Dumbass”. 😀

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, Urban Exploration | on October 21st, 2005 | Comments Off on Whee – Thump!

Randy Kelly’s Soulmate?

When I saw this headline, I thought my prayers had been answered and Saint Paul, Minnesota mayor Randy Kelly had quit the race. Alas, that wasn’t the case… but it’s still an entertaining headline, and story.

Published in: General | on October 21st, 2005 | Comments Off on Randy Kelly’s Soulmate?

Capacitors suck

There’s an old adage in the electronics world, dating back to the glory years of vacuum tubes, that goes “only capacitors and resistors can go bad… and resistors never fail on their own.” It’s still as true today as it was then… perhaps more so.

Capacitor technology has improved remarkably since the days of paper-and-wax capacitors. However, even good electrolytic capacitors today are one of the weakest components of any electronic system, and a huge volume of cheap, off-brand caps from Asia are anything but good. A lot of people are familiar with the bad caps found on computer motherboards and in power supplies, which lead to erratic performance and premature failure.

I recently encountered an entirely different situation, but just as easily rectified. Several years ago I got an old 12V, 4.2A power supply on eBay for a couple of bucks. I used it off and on for testing this and that, generally non-critical things like fans, CCFL inverters, and so on. A few months ago, I tried to connect it to a 2-meter ham radio transciever. The results were less than spectacular; recieve audio was really poor, with all sorts of noise, and the squelch had to be turned nearly all the way up to silence steady noise on all channels. The power supply was, according to it’s markings, made in 1984, either March or October, and is a switch-mode (SMPS) supply, so I initially chalked the problems up to it just being an old, poorly-designed power supply. Curious if the noise from the power supply was audible on transmit, I keyed the mic, and was rewarded with a sizzling sound coming from the power supply.

Not surprisingly for a twenty-year-old power supply, the output filter caps – all ten of them – had failed. Thankfully, they hadn’t failed by exploding or catching fire, but just by leaking electrolyte all over the circuit board. Setting the stinky mess aside, I turned my attention to the beefy linear power supply I was building, and kind of forgot about the little SMPS.

The other day I came across it, while cleaning, and decided to see if I could resurrect it. I fired up the soldering iron, and replaced all ten (470uf, 35v) electrolytic capacitors with new, identically-spec’d ones from Nichicon.

The result? One perfectly-working twelve-volt supply, with no noise, no hum… working basically as good as it did when it was new, twenty-one years ago. (Yes, it’s old enough to drink!)

The cost for a new, 4 or 5 ampere, 12-volt supply, today? $50-$80, or more. The cost for ten replacement capacitors? About four bucks. Not a bad deal, in other words. If not abused, it could easily last another twenty years before needing a new set of capacitors.

I’d guess that the majority of modern consumer electronics devices that are discarded these days are attributable to component failure… either resistors or capacitors, and resistors still don’t fail on their own. Learn a little bit about electronics, get a soldering iron and some decent-quality parts, and you can save yourself a small fortune over a couple years, resuscitating perfectly good electronics with perfectly awful capacitors in them…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 20th, 2005 | Comments Off on Capacitors suck