Archive for category Oddities

A Bounteous Tobacco Harvest

Spotted on a utility ride to a local shop:

Shops at South Hills - planter butt collection
Shops at South Hills – planter butt collection

We decided an employee of the adjacent “nail spa” has been making the best of a bad situation.

If it was easy to quit, there’d surely still be a few smokers …


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Dutchess Rail Trail: Access Gate Control

Five different agencies can drive through the Dutchess Rail Trail’s Overocker Rd trailhead vehicle gate:

Dutchess Rail Trail - Overocker Rd ruts
Dutchess Rail Trail – Overocker Rd ruts

Well, four of them can, because whoever snapped the barely visible small lock around the long-shackle lock (horizontal, to the right) is SOL:

Dutchess Rail Trail - Vehicle Gate Locks at Overocker Rd
Dutchess Rail Trail – Vehicle Gate Locks at Overocker Rd

Perhaps they’re from the DC W&WWA?

The last time we rode past the Diddel Rd trailhead, there were zero locks on the (unchained) vehicle gate; evidently somebody forgot to relock the gate on the way out.


Frozen Fire Hydrant

Spotted on a walk around the block:

Frozen Hydrant - Rt 376 at Sheldon
Frozen Hydrant – Rt 376 at Sheldon

Hydrant valves attach directly to the water main, far below the frost line, which means the hydrant itself should be dry when it’s not in use; the ice reveals a nasty valve leak. The corroded paint suggests a longstanding leak, but I admit to not noticing anything before now.

I uploaded the picture so I could include the URL in an email to the local fire department. I’ll take a look the next time we walk by to see what’s happened.

It’s definitely not a shapely hydrant!


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Bird Box: Flowing Ice Sheet

It’s early springtime in the Hudson Valley:

Bird Box - sliding snow sheet
Bird Box – sliding snow sheet

The birds have been making companionable springtime noises, but it’ll be a while before the nesting season starts up.

Taken with the DSC-H5, diagonally through two layers of 1955-ish window glass.


Heatsink Fuzz

This appeared while harvesting heatsinks and suchlike from a defunct Dell Optiplex:

Clogged CPU heatsink
Clogged CPU heatsink

The only way to get access to that end of the heatsink is to break the heatsink’s thermal bond to the CPU, which seems like a Bad Idea if you intend to continue using the thing:

Clogged CPU heatsink - fan
Clogged CPU heatsink – fan

I buy off-lease Optiplexes from Dell Financial Services (a.k.a. Dell Refurbished) and, although their interiors always look well-cleaned, Dell (or, nowadays, FedEx Reverse Logistics) may have decided against breaking the CPU’s thermal bond and just sent me an office’s dust collection.

Doesn’t look like my dust. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.


3D Printing: Peculiar Octopi Problem

From a discussion on the Makergear 3D printer forums

A Makergear M2 user had a strange problem:

Octopi claims the serial connection went down.

LED2 was blinking red, rapidly, and LED3 was shining with a steadfast red light.

LED2 shows the extruder heater PID loop is running and LED3 shows the extruder fan is on:

You just never noticed the blinkiness before … [grin]

Because the extruder heater is still running, the firmware hasn’t detected a (possibly bogus) thermal runaway or any other fatal problem. It’s just waiting for the next line of G-Code, but Octopi isn’t sending it.

Casually searching the GitHub issues, there’s a report of intermittent serial problems from last year:

Which points to the FAQ: … eption/228

Look at the Octopi Terminal log to see if the conversation just before the failure matches those descriptions.

Assuming you haven’t updated the printer firmware or anything on the Octopi, then something physical has gone wrong.

First and least obviously, the Pi’s MicroSD card has probably started to fail: they’re not particularly durable when used as a mass storage device and “the last couple of years” is more than you should expect. Download a fresh Octopi image, put it on a shiny-new, good-quality card (*), and see if the situation improves.

Then I’d suspect the Pi’s power supply, even though you’re using the “official rpi power supply”. All of those things contain the cheapest possible electrolytic capacitors, running right on the edge of madness, and produce bizarre errors when they begin to go bad. Get a good-quality wall wart (**), ideally with a UL rating, and see if the situation improves.

While you’re buying stuff, get a good-quality USB cable (***) to replace the one that (assuming you’re like me) you’ve been saving for the last decade Just In Case™. Use the shortest cable possible, because longer does not equal better.

After that, the problems get truly weird. Apply some tweakage and report back.

(*) This is harder to do than you might think. You may safely assume all cards available on eBay and all “Sold by X, Fulfilled by Amazon” cards will be counterfeit crap. I’ve been using Samsung EVO / EVO+ cards (direct from Samsung) with reasonable success: … sk-memory/ … ification/ … 22y+zq29p/

The card in question eventually failed, so having a backup card ready to go was a Good Idea™.

(**) Top-dollar may not bring top quality, but Canakit has a good rep and costs ten bucks through Prime.

(***) Amazon Basics cables seems well-regarded and work well for what I’ve needed.

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COB LED Autopsy

The intent was to wire the “5 W” COB LED to the 12 VDC supply grafted on the Juki TL-2010Q, through a suitable resistor around 18 Ω. Unfortunately, the next morning I managed to run 12 V directly to the LEDs, which produced an astonishingly bright flash of blue-white light and an opportunity for some post-mortem analysis.

A sharp tap with a chisel popped the COB LED PCB off its heatsink:

Destroyed COB LED - epoxy bond
Destroyed COB LED – epoxy bond

That’s a pretty nice thermal joint and ought to transfer as much heat as reaches the back surface. Mechanically, it yanked one of the nickel tabs right off the solder pads; obviously, I must now level up my soldering game.

Scraping the yellow silicone filter off the PCB reveals the minuscule LEDs:

Destroyed COB LED - excavated yellow silicone
Destroyed COB LED – excavated yellow silicone

You’ll recall they’re arranged in three series sets of six:

Circular 12V COB 18 LED panel - copper layout
Circular 12V COB 18 LED panel – copper layout

Some probing revealed five of six LEDs in one set was still functional:

Although a few other LEDs across the PCB survived, that’s not the way to bet when you run so much current through the poor things.

Ah, well, that’s why I always buy a few more parts than I really need …