"Midnight" engineering

A case of PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair)? Tell us about your war stories!
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"Midnight" engineering

Post by davek » Tue Nov 25, 2014 4:05 am

Was wondering what other examples of "midnight" engineering are out there?

For example, the other night an intense electrical storm passed over a TV translator site I help maintain.
The site took a direct hit causing 2 UPS units to go into permanent bypass, killed the security alarm panel, and curiously took out 2 GPS antennae (which are used to sync the digital TV translators).

After the storm passed I managed to cobble together a makeshift GPS antenna mounted on some plastic conduit (recently removed from a recently scrapped analogue TV transmitter). Strapped it to the fence, called it a night, and figured it was not a bad effort for 12am...

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Deep Thought
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Re: "Midnight" engineering

Post by Deep Thought » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:20 am

Looks good. Actually, I've seen some "permanent" installations that looked worse. 8)

Nice electric fence, too. :shock: You'd never get away with that up here. :lol:
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

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Re: "Midnight" engineering

Post by jeeisenz » Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:07 pm

Very nice - although I got nothing as close as you.

The one I remember is when our DAX-1 was having PA_BRIDGE faults. Knowing we needed to get a new module for it - and having none avail - i tried to coax the MW-1A into the antenna. No matter what I did - had no output. it was about 12:30-1:00 AM. Got frustrated, kicked the front panel. *bing* all the meters came up and it loaded int the antenna nicely. Tune it quicklike and let 'er buck until I got new part for the DAX-1.

Funny thing is - every time I load it into the antenna for a "test" - I haven't had to kick it. Maybe we just see eye to eye.

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Re: "Midnight" engineering

Post by grich » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:17 am

My mentor made the local newspaper for a repair he did on a Harris FM2.5H3. The plate cap for the final tube (5CX1500A) somehow became unusable. No spare copper strap around, so he cut a strap from a Pepsi can. Lugged the high voltage lead to that strap, put it on the tube, and back on the air. As far as I know, that transmitter retired with the strap still in place.

This was around 1980. Back when Pepsi cans contained a more substantial amount of metal. I'm sure the same stunt with a modern Pepsi can would result in vaporized aluminum. :D

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Re: "Midnight" engineering

Post by RGORJANCE » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:47 am

Oh, boy! Real steel soda and beer cans. Made a "beer can vertical" in the early 50's to try out on the ham bands. Spent a lot of time soldering them together.

One of our "tea totaling" Oklahoma neighbors complained to my dad that it was "not appropriate". Needless to say, It remained vertical until a really strong wind took it out many months later. I must say, it was rather picturesque with all the different brands prominently displayed.

Even the newer lightweight aluminum cans can be re-purposed into useful material. One of my uncles made birdhouses modeled on real old style classic buildings making door hinges,etc out of the easily shaped aluminum.


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Re: "Midnight" engineering

Post by Radio Ranger » Sat Jul 25, 2015 3:57 pm

Bob, I remember reading about beer can verticals in QST a long time ago but then forgot about them until years later when I read somewhere about Beverage antennas---which I thought were one and the same until I looked them up in an ARRL Antenna book!

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Re: "Midnight" engineering

Post by w9wi » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:32 pm

A long-since-retired WSMV engineer once cut the top off a Pepsi can, then cut the top half of the can into strips. Bent them out straight at a 90deg angle to the rest of the can. Twisted them a few degrees. Drilled a hole in the bottom. Ran a clothes hanger through it & hung it from the ceiling.

We were having trouble with the ventilation fan kicking off. If the Pepsi can stopped spinning... it was time to reset the breaker.
Doug Smith W9WI
Pleasant View, TN EM66

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