TideLog Archive for August, 2010

I’m getting a little tired of people stealing my articles, adjusting them, and then claiming I’ve ripped theirs off. Take for example a comment this morning (that was spammed automatically, coincidentally by WordPress) from a Texan moron called Bobby from Coppell TV repairs in Texas. He reckoned my article about the Plasma panel VCC was copied from his site. Funny, because I noted several things that he hadn’t figured:

1. My post date was January this year, and the article on the blog he claimed I’d copied it from (which I’d never even heard of, and was a crap generic Blogger site) the article had a datestamp of April this year.

2. I could see where he’d edited my company name and other bits out of the article on his copy. His grammar and punctuation is sub standard, he spells “meter” like “metter”.

3. His whole site and blog has been live only 8 months, his WHOIS revealed, whereas TideLog has been going nearly 8 years over several servers. I have 13 years (self taught) electronics and computer repair experience over his 8 months.

4. His blog centres around replacing boards in TV’s, whereas I blog about board level repair, amongst the burglar alarm, TV, microwave and other consumer stuff we repair, that he doesn’t.

5. His site says he has “20 years experience in TV repair” but doesn’t actually repair old CRT’s, only LCD???? LCD’s haven’t been around in TV’s for 20 years, idiot!!

6. One particularly funny and arrogant post on his blog goes like this, shows what a pea brained American immigrant he is:

Monday, May 3, 2010

My type of people for customers

I happen to believe there aren’t bad people in this world.

There are maybe many ill people who appear as rude. Ilness easily makes the negative prevail.

There are also a lot of, well, silly people out there. People who just do not know how little they know.

Granted, I might be one of them.

And finally, there are people who may escape both of the above classifications and who I still can’t get along with.

I simply call them “incompatible”.

It’s because despite my best efforts – and sometimes even mutual best efforts – we simply can’t get along.

Over time, I had developed a sense on when I’m compatible with someone and in still a little more time I was able to distill that to a simple list of requirements.

For the sake of avoiding the waste each other’s time, here’s the current state of that list, in no particular order:

  • If you think everyone’s trying to squeeze and cheat you, you are most certainly not my customer
  • If by 2010 you have not yet bought anything on eBay, you are not my customer
  • If you know one particular component that needs to be replaced on your board and ask me for the discounted price to replace that component for you (over courier service) you are not my customer
  • If you need to wait until your next paycheck to get enough money to send in something for repair you are not my customer
  • If you have an AOL email account you are not my customer
  • If you bought this broken TV with the idea that you could fix it and save you are not my customer
  • If you need to ask your wife if you can send in something for repair you are not my customer


This list is incomplete, but I realize it may sound offending to someone. I had to apologize in advance.

I may be ill, badly educated or simply incompatible.

In one last effort to calm anyone who may have somehow felt offended I will add that:

  • If you are top notch scientist, world sports champion, M&A attorney or media star you are not my customer
  • If 8 out of 10 men turn after you on the street you are not my customer either


As you can see I know what I can and what I can’t wish for.

So please stop calling…if Justin Timberlake can’t fix a stupid TV how are you expecting him to fix YOU?!

What the f**k is he on about? Go figure. Bobby, go away. You obviously are ILL from that tripe. Any more comments, and calling me “Dude”, are going automatically into the spam so I don’t have to see your pathetic existence. You’re obviously so no-brained you discriminate against “customers” by what ISP they use. And you rip professional engineer’s posts off as your own to run your “company”. That’s like me turning customers away from my PC repair business because they have a DELL or APPLE machine. Which we do board repairs on too!

Sad prick. I will sue to protect my posts if needed, they are my work. Copyright law applies to my blog, I don’t use Creative Commons nonsense here. I don’t work hard repairing electronics and post articles for fellow engineers for pillocks like him to cry about my work.

That goes for any Chinese bloggers ripping my posts off, too, which I’m sick of, and the pointless pingbacks from automated spiders on blogs that have no relevance to what they’ve pinged on my blog.

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Often found in PC’s, VCR’s, and other electrical devices that require different voltages, and really clean smooth power, switchmode supplies are also known as switching power supplies and sometimes chopper controlled power supplies, SMPSs use high frequency (relative to 50/60 Hz) switching devices such as Bipolar Junction Transistors (BJTs), MOSFETs, Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs), or Thyristors (SCRs or triacs) to take directly rectified line voltage and convert it to a pulsed waveform.

Most small SMPSs use BJTs or MOSFETs. IGBTs may be found in large systems and SCRs or triacs are used where their advantages (latching in the on state and high power capability) outweigh the increased complexity of the circuitry to assure that they turn off properly (since except for special Gate Turn Off (GTO) thyristors, the gate input is pretty much ignored once the device is triggered and the current must go to zero to reset it to the off state.)

The input to the switches is usually either 150-160 VDC after rectification of 115 VAC, or 300-320 VDC after doubling of 115 VAC or rectification of 220-240 VAC. Up to this point, there is no line isolation as there is no line connected (large, bulky, heavy) power transformer.

A relatively small high frequency transformer converts the pulsed waveform into one or more output voltages which are then rectified and filtered using electrolytic capacitors and small inductors in a ‘pi’ configuration C-L-C, or for outputs that are less critical, just a capacitor.

This high frequency transformer provides the isolation barrier and the conversion to generate the multiple voltages often provided by a SMPS.

Feedback is accomplished across the isolation barrier by either a small pulse transformer or opto-isolator. The feedback controls the pulse width or pulse frequency of the switching devices to maintain the output constant. Since the feedback is usually only from the “primary” output, regulation of the other outputs, if any, is usually worse than for the primary output. Also, because of the nature of the switching designs, the regulation even of the primary output is usually not nearly as good both statically and dynamically as a decent linear supply.

DC-DC converters are switchmode power supplies without the line input rectification and filtering. They are commonly found in battery operated equipment like CD players and laptop computers. They have similar advantages to SMPSs in being compact, light weight, and highly efficient.

Where are SMPS’s used?

Switch mode power supplies are commonly used in computer and other digital systems as well as consumer electronics – particularly TVs and newer VCRs though audio equipment will tend to use linear power supplies due to noise considerations. You will find SMPSs in:

  • PCs, workstations, minicomputers, large computers.
  • Laptop and notebook computers, PDAs – both internal DC-DC converters and their AC power packs.
  • Printers, fax machines, copiers.
  • Peripheral and expansion boxes
  • X-terminals and video terminals, Electronic Point Of Sale systems (EPOS).
  • TVs, computer and video monitors.
  • Many VCRs.
  • Camcorder AC adapters.

In additional, you will find DC-DC converters which are SMPSs without the AC line connection, internally in an increasing number of consumer and industrial applications including things like portable CD players.

The up side is that they are usually quite reliable, efficient, and cool running.

The down side is that when a failure occurs, it may take out many parts in the supply, though not usually the equipment being powered unless the feedback circuitry screws up and there is no overvoltage protection.

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The Metro confirmed my beliefs yesterday when I read my horoscope. I mentioned Ada coming back home to Cheshire, and how we were going to take her on in my post on Sunday? Here’s what my Leo horoscope had to say in the Metro, yesterday (Monday):

“You may find yourself taken with a new acquaintance and your imagination may run riot, as may your libido. A new opportunity in the workplace may encourage you to tell a white lie. Resist.”

I’m not joking, here’s an image of the page. Ada is a Sagittarius, look at hers, too:

Spooky….. There have been a few times when it’s been true to life, so now I believe horoscopes. Not all of them, like Mystic “Septic” Meg, she’s always off the mark, and rubbish

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I’ve got a feeling life might just be about to get a lot easier for me. All thanks to a good ol’ friend of mine I thought I’d never see again recently coming back into my life, and man, what a woman! My geeky tech partner Ada Swift, and boy does she live up to her surname! She’s 21, geekier than Kassie and me put together, she loves Linux, hates Apple products (let’s just say you’ll never see her with an iPhone, her hate is pretty deep, and you thought I was bad!)

I met her at Bowlers computer fair back in 2003 when Rikku and I were partners running JB Computers and we had a stall there. She was working for an asset management and disposal firm, selling old IT equipment and organising secure data destruction. Our stalls were right next to one another, and we used to chat for ages, about what Intel had up their sleeves, and where we thought Windows and Linux was going, stuff like that. She’s really hardcore, and can do anything you chuck at her. Maths, programming (including the Ada language, her namesake, I keep teasing her about it), system builds, servers, Active Directory, Linux commandline stuff, the darn lot. She does professionally what most nerds cream themselves fantasising over, she’s an IT department in a single woman, and never loses her cool, or misses appointments.

She’s half Brazilian, and absolutely gorgeous! To look at her you wouldn’t think for a minute she’s a hardcore geek chick, she looks more feisty than geeky. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, either. She loves cosplay madly like I do, we’ve dressed up together and been to cosplay conventions. She likes video games (all geeks do, even geeky girls), and has cosplayed Lara Croft and Jill Valentine. here’s my two favourite pictures of her dressed as Jill and Lara, and doesn’t she fit the roles and outfits perfectly? Save the jokes about her raiding your tomb and shooting your zombies anytime, too, she’s heard them all…..

I was absolutely stunned when I saw her as Lara. She bought this costume off the Internet, and added her own touches and props. Once Kassie’s studio team had done her hair and makeup, we got her into this feisty pose, and I realised we had a Lara model on our hands. If there’s ever auditions for the next Ms Croft, I’m putting her up for the role!

Next, was her role as Ms. Jill Valentine, and if I could have my own Valentine, it’d be Ada, for sure:

Don’t mess with this zombie hunting babe! Remember Jill, aim for the head! This is her best photo, Ada as Jill is way better than Lara even. I’ve always loved Jill’s sexy costume from RE Nemesis. The sexy skirt, blue top, and her jumper tied round her waist look so sexy, in a “don’t mess with me, I ain’t a chick to be messed with” kinda way. Ada’s lovely slender legs and hourglass figure wear this outfit perfectly, and even Kas is jealous of her. Ada made this outfit herself mostly. The strapless top, skirt and boots are her work, the holster and harness were Internet bought, along with the S.T.A.R.S dogtag round her neck. The jumper is just a bog standard white sweatshirt, tied exactly as Jill has hers tied in many CG pictures of her.

I went to our Warrington base on Friday, and there she was, bold as brass, as though she’d never been gone, her beautiful Mediterranean looks and tan, big brown eyes, and long brown hair (her hair was long, and bright Subaru blue when I last saw her so I didn’t recognise her at first! She’d cosplayed Sailor Moon and dyed her hair), so I was absolutely made up. She’s just come back from Uni, wiser, smarter, and still as cute!

I’ve had a few problems this past couple weeks, and I think Ada might be coming on the payroll of our companies.

1. Kassie’s datacenter is having a massive infrastructure overhaul, I’ve got to babysit that, and her IT team down there, which involves Linux and Windows servers. It’s a massive pain, as there’s 1000 rack servers, 400 of which are in use, 200 of these are main, the rest backup mirrors.

2. I’ve been roatesting Rikku’s buses as usual, but had a slight medical emergency one afternoon. I was roadtesting, and really getting my adrenaline going. I’d had a bit of sleep problems, and dizzy spells, and it was too much for me. I pulled over at the track and sent out an emergency signal via the CB, and the next thing I knew I was in a Surrey hospital with Rikky by my side. I’d passed out in the driver’s seat with the airbrake on and the engine running. The adrenaline, mixed with sleep depravation, and the air conditioning of the bus sent my body nuts. I’ve been ordered off caffeine by doctors, to lower my blood pressure and sugar levels. Rikky won’t let me roadtest alone until I’m better.

3. I’ve had too many Linux jobs come in and been turned away because Kassie, my Linux expert, is on the other side of the world. Big loss, for all of us, and Kassie doesn’t get commission. Mika’s just gone and joined her for a month, so I’ve no female company.

Now Ada’s back, I’ve offered her a job, freelance, with me and my guys at KC, and trying to negotiate her a contract with Her Ladyship at the datacenter. If she can manage it she’s going to be on over £1000 a week. She has saved me a massive headache, she’s my tech Angel, and I love her in a really adorable way. Friends stick by one another, and Ada is one of a kind, I just hope this job doesn’t make her feel older than she is, like it is doing me, it’s killing me….

I do computers, electronics, buses (all vehicles big and small), burglar alarms, you name it, all because they’re passions of mine, and great hobbies, but they can kill, not just because electricity is involved…..

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I’ve just refurbished a Thomson Lyra PDP2842. Replaced the HDD, dumped and modified the NAND firmware to iron a few “HDD Access Error” bugs out, and replaced the casing. It now seems to run OK, but hasn’t got the latest firmware yet, 3.03. I have it, but not yet installed it.

The firmware is in two parts. The NAND firmware on a chip on the board that controls the VFD LCD, bootloader, power and USB functions, and the HDD user-upgradeable software, which controls MP3, WAV, WMA playback, playlists, profiling, and radio play/record and tuner. The Hitachi hard drive firmware is separate completely from the player, and can be upgraded, but there’s no need to.

I connected the player to my Windows 7 machine, and the thing doesn’t work as a USB HDD. The computer makes the “do-dum” sound, and then pops up the dreaded “A device attached to this computer has malfunctioned, and Windows does not recognise it” message about six seconds later. THIS IS NOT A FAULT. Not an intentional one, anyhow. The USB function does work under XP and Vista. It’s happening because the motherboard of the player isn’t identifying itself and the HDD fast enough for ol’ Seven to think it’s responding. The board of the player is a bridge between the computer and the HDD, so it identifies itself as an IDE controller bridge, and then passes communication to the HDD, which the computer then detects, and installs, letting you use the HDD.

If this process doesn’t happen in a certain time, Windows 7 thinks there’s a fault, and ceases communication to prevent damage. My modifying of the NAND dump didn’t cause it, it happened before so I thought I’d see if I could fix it. My old one does the same.

I’ve had two of these blasted things. Poor firmware, poor design, and crap customer support saw an early death by Thomson and RCA of its own product. I sent bug report after bug report back in ’05, only to have them read the same tripe off a script to me in emails. I got fed up, and got Kassie to hex edit the lot. We recently figured how to dump the NAND contents using a probe, so I grabbed another Lyra and gave it another go. I sent my knackered Lyra to Her Ladyship in Tokyo (the HDD ribbon tore, making it damn more useless than ever!) and she played about with her probes, dumpers and chip programmers.

NEVER, EVER buy Thomson or RCA intentionally! Only if you wanna smash the shit up! Having said that, the Lyra Kassie has just helped me fix is almost brand new, and runs better than damn Thomson ever made it do. The software is smooth as oil! Oh, and I got rid of the stupid EU volume limit, because they said they had, and buggered the Equaliser up!

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Rikky did OK Friday night, but I think it was because she knew we were testing her, either that or she’s got the patience of a saint, which I’ve known for a while. The cab doors on Volvo B9TL buses helps too, all Rikky’s have the acrylic panels, and that channels noise away from the driver.

Given all the noise, I still couldn’t help notice a problem with the auto clutch during Rikky’s loud crowd test. I could feel it was hesitating during gearchanging. It was just starting to show slipping symptoms. It’s the judder that gives it away, and the not-so-right-as-usual gearchange whine. Some B9T’s have ZF’s that whine, some have Voith boxes that don’t. The B7RLE’s are dead easy to diagnose, I know the whining from the ZF’s on those by heart. Most drivers won’t notice, as the engine is at the back, and in the cab you can’t always hear it, especially with noisy passengers, but as an engineer who loves engines and listens to them, I do quite easily, and can often notice the slightest gearbox problem.

The auto clutch will eventually deteriorate so badly you’ll end up stuck at traffic lights because the thing won’t engage, and it’ll end up stuck in Neutral usually (when the brake is pressed, listen. That whine? It’s what I call temp neutral. Let go of the brake it goes back into Drive. All auto boxes do it, you can rev it with the brake pressed), and the engine will just rev uselessly. Sometimes it’ll be the relays and solenoids of the changer rack in the gearbox. My advice is to get it sorted ASAP before it gets that bad and you need Recovery, and annoy other drivers.

I took Rikky’s 59 plate B7RLE for a quick run last night. I love the new facelift B7RLE. Since Wright gave the Eclipse Urban body an overhaul in 2008, and Volvo changed the old dash to the one used in the Gemini B7/B9 double deckers it feels so much better. The dials aren’t cramped, and there’s two stereo mountings! Rik wants me to put a CD player in for the driver, and a radio/announcement system for passengers, which is a piece of cake on these new ones, as the wiring and mountings are there, plus gangway speakers. Ours even has the D7E320 320HP engine, which was a surprise, Volvo (and Dennis) normally only fit these to their refuse and tipper/artic truck line. They’re limited to the usual 74.15MPH, but I’ve had the limit off, and tuned the intake and ignition timing slightly. They can go up to nearly 100mph, which I observed using our diag computer. On a racetrack. Never do this on public roads, especially if you’ve knocked the TCS and SCS off. I think it can go higher, as Volvo seem to have given guys like me headroom for tuning. DON’T ever do anything like this unless you understand engines, are in a safe place, and won’t injure yourself or passengers. NEVER have passengers while doing this, unless they’re engineers.

I want one of these myself, given the chance! Volvo buses and Wright bodies are perfect!

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