Playing Mr. FixIt

With the weather cooling off, dark in the morning, and soon dark in the evening, it was time to brush off the treadmill for wintertime basement running. Stepping onto the belt and turning it on, I was greeted with a low hum that sounded like the motor was trying to lower the platform. Problem was, the platform was already at the lowest point. Pushing the ‘up’ rocker switch produced nothing.

I flipped the unit on its’ side, and removed the protective covers from the bottom. I found a pleasant surprise on the underside of the covers: Full schematics for the electronics! Wheee!

The schematics clearly showed the up/down motor controlled by the ‘lift board’, so I started tracing wires to locate the board. The location of the board again confirmed the nth corollary to Murphy’s Law, in that the probability of a component failing is inversely proportional to its accessibility.

After disconnecting the all the lines (and noticing the board was ‘floating’, i.e., no ground line or grounding points), I was able to take a close look at the board.

Fortunately, it clearly said ‘Lift Board’. (If it had said Heisenberg compensator I’d have to go back and start pulling other boards.)

After testing the board with my volt-ohm meter, I found one of the triacs (one of the two black boxes with three legs in the top picture) had failed. After getting another one in through Amazon (and a two week wait), I was able to desolder the old one, and solder in the new unit.

Using a Sears multi-meter, and a Radio Shack soldering iron, to make repairs on an old-school electronics board. Says something. What I don’t want to hear.

After getting the new triac soldered in,  replacing the board, and putting everything back together again (with no extra parts left over!), the treadmill is back running smoothly again.

HAL-9000: 1998 – 2017. RIP.

As you saw on my last post, our original family website server died. It served us well for many years, stretching back to just before Joyce and I were married. This was the system I started my own business on, and launched another business, before joining my current laboratory.

HAL-9000 Case
Remember CompUSA?

Hal then was repurposed as the kids’ original computer (with a new power supply and motherboard), and lived again for several years until the kids outgrew the platform. He was again repurposed, dumping windows for FreeBSD to run the website (and other functions) you are reading now.

Dead motherboard and power supply.
It’s dead, Jim.

Tests on the system showed both the motherboard and power supply had gone bad. I don’t know which one went first, and took the other with it, but all the memory, drives, fans, and USB interfaces could be salvaged. The new server is coming along well, hope to get it done and on-line soon.

Crafty Jenn

What do you do with a rim bent from a pothole on Rt 38? Take out the spokes and give it to Jennifer!

 

Cotton twine, tied off each end, replaces the spokes, and the rest of the rim wrapped with the same twine, makes a picture hanger for the daughter’s room.

Cranberry Olympic – 21 August, 2016

Cranberry Olympic 3rd Place

Overall: 3:02:05.1

After hearing about it from TriFury teammates for years, I finally had a chance to enter and compete in the Cranberry Trifest Olympic race. The Trifest actually runs two days, and consists of a sprint race on Saturday and the Olympic on Sunday. I entered the Olympic race intending just to run it for fun, without worrying about speed or placing. Surprisingly, I captured third place, and even more surprisingly, there were more than three people in my age group (which is usually how I reach the podium).  Here’s how it broke down:

Swim: 0.9 mi / 39.32 min, finishing 6 out of 7 in my age group. I’m not the fastest swimmer by far, and with Jamie telling me the water temperature was 81 the day before, I skipped the wet suit, which probably added ~4 min to my time. The swim was unique, as they ran it as a two loop course due to low water levels. My wave was right in the middle (4th), so by the time I got out there, I was  getting run over by the elite first wave swimmers, and then run over by the younger, faster swimmers in the later waves. I got smacked, and smacked, got poked, and poked, got grabbed, and grabbed, more swimmers than in any race ever. All part of the fun. I hope they keep the same course for next year.

T1: 1:52.8 min. Although I probably lost ~4 min on the swim without the wet suit, I made most if not all of it up in T1. Had I worn it, it probably would have taken me five minutes to get out of it and on the bike, as getting out of a wet suit while sweating profusely takes more time than it saves.  I also skipped the socks for the first race this year, for which I paid for later.

Bike: 26.2 mi / 1:22:55 hr / 19.0 mph average, finishing 2 out of 7 in my age group. Like Mass State, I concentrated on keeping my heart rate in a relatively low zone. The bike course was nearly identical to Patriot Half, with a few sections cut out to change it from 28 to 26 miles. Jamie recommended taking salt tablets, so I took one at the start along with the ‘Gu’ every 30-40 minutes and liquids. I didn’t know I was averaging 19 mph until getting my results after the race.

T2: 2:25.3 min. Seems a bit strange that my T2 was ~32 seconds longer than T1, although I don’t know where the timing mats were located. I did make it a point to have  a good drink from my bike bottle before going out, and did have to fight a bit with the speed laces on my shoes. I will have to check these, specifically the right shoe, as you will see.

Run: 6.2 mi / 55:21 min / 8:56 min/mi average, finishing 2 out of 7 in my age group. This run was actually quite nice, as I was expecting the run to be similar to Patriot (hot, sunny, with little shade). Although there were sunny sections, and it was getting quite warm by this time, the run was mostly shady. I made it a point to walk through every water station (one every mile) and get some water, and took another extra salt tablet at the first water stop and a Gu just before the third stop. After the second mile, I could feel holes getting worn in my right foot. While I had skipped socks with my bike shoes many times before, this was the first sockless run in my (relatively) new racing flats. I concentrated on everything other than my feet, and finished the race with two smaller blisters on my toe and heal, and a large (~3″) long blister right along the instep of my foot.

Overall, it was a great race, and I hope  to be able to sign up for both the sprint and Olympic races next year.

Go George! Go Jen! – Barracudas 2015-2016

George and Jennifer finished a successful swim season. Their team, the Lowell YMCA ‘Barracudas’, had their banquet last week, and passed out awards and ribbons to all the swimmers.

SwimTeam

Both George and Jennifer worked hard in swim practices, typically 3 – 4 times/week, and had a lot to show for it at the end of the season.

George brought home:

George Swim Team 2015-2016

George Swim Award 2015-2016

George Ribbons

Jennifer brought home:

Jennifer Swim Team 2015-2016

Jennifer Ribbons

It was a fun season for all.

Basement Workshop

With moving my tools, workbench and shelves out of the garage and into the basement, I haven’t had a workplace for the past year. Finally started on putting together a proper workplace downstairs, using the large bench already there. Putting pegboard up on the concrete walls was too much, so I reconfigured the big workbench to hold a 4′ x 8′ sheet of pegboard. I plan on adding shelves, and possibly drawers, under the workbench later.

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Can finally get my tools arranged and out of the various boxes they have been in the past year. More later.

George Harris Powell – Award Winning Writer

Joyce and I took the day off to take George into Boston today, where he received an award for his writing. George’s submission for ‘Letters about Literature’, a letter he wrote to Orson Scott Card about his book Ender’s Game, was selected as one of the notable entries out of more than 3,000 entries here in Massachusetts. George was invited to attend a ceremony at the State House in Boston, so off we went after Jennifer left for school.

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All dressed up for the occasion.
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DaaaAAAaaad! Turn Off The Flash!

We were seated in the Gardner Auditorium along with the other students, their parents and teachers. Each student was called up to receive their award, where part of their letter to the author they chose was read to the audience.

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George receiving his award.
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Enjoying the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George’s ELA teacher, Mr. Maslanka, also came down for the day to participate in the ceremony.

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George with his ELA teacher, Mr. Maslanka.
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George with his proud parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We had a wonderful time at the state house, and stopped for lunch on the way home.

Update – 26 May

Here are some pictures of the awards George received last week. Sorry it took so long to get them up for you. As with the other images, click on them to see a larger version.

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