This is something of a bulk update; I've accumulated some stuff in the last ten days but never got around to write it up properly and didn't post anything.

Last week I bought the kitchen appliances and increased the stack of stuff waiting in the extra bedroom. There goes more of my money. (But the new kitchen will be worth it, I keep telling myself.)

Now if I only could get myself to do the final two purchases, tiles and benchtops...

On the more recreational side of life, I've been programming a lot of my new milter functionality in Perl and the thing will be ready for catching spammers and fools RSN. I've also been cleaning up exmh vigorously, with most bugs by now being history :-)

Recently I've read Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia", his account of the Spanish civil war. I was pleased to find all his works available freely online. The HTML sucks, though, and I had to massage things quite a bit until I could do the HTML->PDF->PS->2up->printer conversion. Still a Good Thing!

It seems to me that Oz is less afflicted by the "throwaway society" problem than others. Point in favour: the lots of old cars around here that keep being repaired or gutted and morphed into weird things and just drive on. Also small things like windscreen wipers: I didn's see a lot of new sets in the shops last time, but lots of replacement rubber blades. Of course I bought one of the replacement rubbers, for a modest $1.99. With new wipers and after a service my fartmobile is now almost good for another few thousand k's; some front wheel suspension stuff has to be replaced Very Soon (lower ball joints, caster rod bushes etc.; the estimated cost all together is$400. Not too bad.) and the front brakes need new pads. I'll do these tomorrow evening (but I'll never ever do the rears on Falcons <95 myself again...).

Last Thursday I visited one of the car spares shops to get the brake pads, and in a bout of temporary insanity decided to also get a new radio, one with CD and MP3 functionality I had been drooling over for two years now (ie. since I repaired+broke the display of the old one).

In the evening I started mounting it, and my current lack of luck came into play again big time.

Firstly it had DIN connectors. The fartmobile has fart connectors, and being a perfectionist I didn't want to destroy the cable loom in the car. So I started to gut the old radio, unsolder its connector and recycle it. Then my gas soldering iron broke (literally, into two pieces).

I borrowed \rho's soldering iron, dug up the fart wiring info off the web and made a nice mess in order to produce this beautiful adapter, complete with shrink tube and everything:

Second problem was that the fart mounting method does not work well with the normal braces. I improvised and recycled the fart mounting brackets, too. Finally I rechecked the adapter pinouts with the multimeter and mounted the new radio.

...

The eject button works but nothing else. Resetting the radio doesn't help (that is the recommended procedure to clear glitches between the detachable front panel and the radio.)

An hour or two later, after digging through other people's stories about this particular radio, I got a nasty suspicion and ripped the radio out of the car again to verify.

The designers of symmetrical connectors must die. People who don't amend their wiring info with sides, too.

It turned out that my adapter was a mirror image of what it should have been. (Where the radio got the juice from to operate the eject button I don't really want to know.)

So I undid everything (see perfectionism): ripped the shrinkies and the hot glue, resoldered the connector the right way, and tried again. Now the radio powers on (Yay!) but I get no sound. None. Zip.

It's about 2345 by now and I'm getting really pissed.

Then I played around with the DIN connector a bit and I discover that when I don't push it in fully, I get some audio. WTF? I get a set of jumper leads (electronic, not for the car battery) and play around some more: it turns out that 3 out of 4 speaker circuits are fine and work. The fourth produces sparks when connecting. Huh?

Observe the bad drop in internal lighting when the connector is fully in. Multimeter, check voltages. Check resistance. Think. Wonder. Check resistance again. Ok, the fourth speaker has 3 ohms against car ground on both its wires. Great! It's fucked! (Or is the in-car wiring loom shorted? I hope not.)

At that point it's way past 0030 and I give up (for now).

The next two days, Friday and Saturday, I was really sick with a cold (I get those bloody 1-2day colds a lot. Want a replacement for my body, dammit!). Naturally Friday was an excellent day for flying, some mates made 40km to NSW...I was sweating in bed, sleeping 20 out of 24 hours on Friday and 14 on Saturday.

Friday evening a neighbour rings me out of bed: the interior light in my car is on. FUCK. (Later it turns out that the measly single bulb didn't flatten the battery despite being on for 17 hours.)

On Sunday I felt sufficiently well to look at the car problem again. As it turns out, the offending speaker had both its coil connecting wires shorted out against the chassis because of the mirrored connector: that particular speaker didn't take kindly to being subjected to +12V DC at whatever amperage the wires would sustain for over an hour.

I soldered in some junk wires, well knowing that the sound quality is not going to improve and now, finally, wooopee! the car radio works.

What an odyssee. That week certainly was Soldering Iron Week.

[ published on Thu 23.09.2004 12:56 | filed in | ]