Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Faith Fixing

Last week I fixed an amp for the band.
Opened it up, poked around inside touching this and that, made sure the connections were secure, bent a few wires around...
Never found a clear cause for it's failure to function, but after I screwed the lid back on and hooked it up it worked perfectly.
I think I've mentioned before that this happens a lot.
I call it "Faith Fixing" because whenever I lay my hands on the inside guts of electronic things, they come back from the dead.
Now, I'm also good at finding real problems and fixing them--don't get me wrong--but the unexplainable repairs probably account for 50% of my successes.

When our Honda's air conditioner suddenly stopped blowing air last night, we feared for the worst but tried to be brave.
After all the fuses checked out fine (don't forget the ones under the hood!) it started looking like a lot of money was going to be the only solution. Bummer.
Still, with nothing better to do after shop hours I turned to the Google and within only a minute or two found a chart that explained how to make the AC diagnose itself--COOL!
Hold these 2 buttons down, turn the key, release the buttons, count the blinking lights.
12 blinks means the blower motor or it's transistor are bad--now we're getting somewhere! And since an electric motor will almost always warn you of impending failure through loss of efficiency, weird noises, and bad smells, I figured it was this mysterious transistor.
I tried to "sleep on it".
Early this morning after dropping Honda Girl off, I returned to Mr. Google instead of dropping the car at a repair shop--the water pump cornholing we got on my truck was still too fresh in my mind.

Found a YouTube video on how to replace the blower motor, which showed me just how easy and cheap THAT repair would be, if needed.
Don't even have to take the dashboard apart? So where's this darn "transistor" then? Must be close by...

Within an hour I've returned from Radio Shack (+HEB) and soldered a 1 ohm resistor across 2 poles on the offending module to simulate the correct load, then re-installed it to check the blower...which works fine! Looking good...
An hour after that and I've returned from O'Reilly's with a replacement module and am driving around the block in bare feet enjoying cold cold air.

The broken part on the left ended up costing $60 to replace, which was a surprise after the $90 I was seeing on the web and the $180+ it would've been had I gone straight to a repair shop instead of mousing and typing and wrenching and soldering.

It was also nice to successfully use my knowledge and skills on a job where I knew exactly what I was doing for a change.
The internet is a wonderful thing, especially when it not only saves you money but also makes you feel better about yourself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just A Heads Up

If you leave your Harley parked for longer than 1 day, spiders will take advantage:

I was about to haul our trash container down to the street when I spotted this spider finishing a web between it and my brother's bike.
After shooting the video I decided to let the garbage wait until next week.
If Ken needs to go anywhere, wrecking a nice new web will be on his conscience.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Real-Time Weather Blogging

Don't think I have ever seen a storm front span all of Texas, from Del Rio to Texarkana. That's a big'un!

All that matters is the rain, and it's about time!
Haven't had any rain here in SA since early March, and it's been hot and dry ever since.
An "Exceptional Drought" is a terrible thing.

Update: Just seeing water from the sky dripping off our brown plants does wonders for my heart:

Unless you've been through a drought or three like we've had recently, you'll never know how uplifting a few minutes of rain can be.
I feel better right now than I have in several months.

Monday, June 13, 2011

So Far, So Good

My DSLR seems to be working correctly except for one little glitch that hasn't negatively impacted results in testing so far.

This is me with the groom, James.
As usual, I caught the garter.
My collection stands at 5, I think.
All you have to do is try--most single guys are looking at their feet with hands in pockets.
Buncha spoilsports.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


After a HUGE and FREE sirloin meal at the brand new Bandera/1604 Saltgrass Steak House™ (as part of their pre-opening "shakedown cruise") we went to a housewarming party. While there I managed to pour the exact amount of beer down my neck to give me the balls needed to tackle the final part of a week-long camera repair marathon.
It'll be a few more hours before I'm positive (waiting for epoxy to fully cure) but all signs point to success.
I won't go into all the details beyond saying that modern cameras suck compared to things like guitars and fences.
Can't get parts, disposable construction philosophy, a dozen different plastic formulas all press-fit together.
CAD/CAM is both a blessing and a curse.
NOTHING is designed to be repaired easily anymore.
I look forward to the day when digital cameras mature as a product and DON'T need to have a "Newer Better" model introduced every damn year.
During the film era, a camera could be on the market unchanged for 5-10 years or more so long as a competitor didn't invent some kind of groundbreaking new technology.
Standardization and Spare Parts is my mantra, like Fender guitars that can be fixed in any major city world-wide because there have only been minor changes over the past 50+ years.
Got an old Harley or Chevy?
Replacement parts are all over the place, including those made by vendors who saw a gap in the market and started making new ones for bikes/cars that are older than me.
Modern cameras?
Good luck!

Anyway, tonight was my deadline because we're driving up to Austin tomorrow for a friend's wedding and of course I'm expected to shoot some stuff for them.
I have plenty of other cameras (and we'll be taking several) but the Alpha300 is my workhorse.
Hopefully I'll be posting some Austin results instead of bitching about massive repair failure.

FYI: Flag Day is Tuesday.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Taking A "Break" From Photography???

For the third Saturday in a row I found myself in Kerrville, right on the banks of the Guadalupe river.
The crescent moon rose into a gap in the trees while we were on break (lucky timing!) so I shot this:

Unfortunately, this will be the last photo from my main camera for awhile:
Apparently my backpack wasn't closed all the way, and while pulling it out of the truck my DSLR flew out and hit the street in front of our house.
It landed hard and I was really scared by all the flying pieces, but they turned out to be just the lens cap and battery.
The only damage as far as I can tell right now is a big piece of rather crappy plastic that forms the grip, which has a big rip in it and torn screw holes.
By holding the battery in manually I was able to take pictures, so there is hope.

If I can get a replacement for the broken part, I can install it myself.
If not, I can probably repair the grip piece anyway with some epoxy and kevlar fabric.

The anti-dust sensor shaker/image stabilization mechanism isn't sounding right, but I recall hearing it's a common thing with Sony Alphas that have taken a fall so I'm not going to worry until I do some research. Something about the sensor mount getting knocked past it's zone of proper travel or something. An easy fix, I hope.

I guess the main thing is, of all the parts that could have gotten wrecked, the grip is probably the best choice.
Viewfinder, LCD, lens, flash, controls, etc, are all fine, so with a little structural repair or replacement I'm hopefully going to have it back in action fairly quickly and cheaply. I'm crossing my fingers as hard as I can that insurance won't need to enter the picture and I won't have to ship the camera off for repair, although I know of a really good place with good reviews and low prices.

In the meantime I can always shoot some infrared black and whites with the F828.
And the camera in my new phone has been surprising me every time I use it--like for the 2nd pic above, which I emailed to myself for this post.
Or maybe I'll buy some film tomorrow and finally get around to playing with my father's delightful German "Kodak" from the '50s...

I have options.