Emissions Testing and Terabytes
I guess it matters where you have your car emissions tested and repaired. As
written earlier, the car failed emissions testing with essentially the same
numbers as the test two years ago. At that point, the shop could not figure
out what was wrong and we ended up spending about 600 dollars to get all of
the obvious things out of the way. To no avail. This time, I used a smaller,
more specialized emissions shop, and they were dead-on in determining that
it was the O2 sensor all along. So, now I have a car that once
again passes these tests with a good margin of error. There is also a good
chance that it will burn less gas.
In other news, at work, I finally got my hands on a machine that has
storage in excess of a Terabyte:
pats@backup:~$ df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1 3.7G 466M 3.1G 14% /
/dev/sda3 1.5T 52G 1.4T 4% /data
Using a 6-disk RAID5 array, this momentous day marks the next
power-of-ten for me. Now, on to the Petabyte!
] | posted @ 03:00 | link
Antec's (Lack of) Quality Control
I'm a little angry. After all that work on the car's fender made me feel
good about the vehicle I drive, I go in yesterday for emissions testing, and
it fails. The results were exactly the same as the last test, meaning that
if I invest 450 dollars I'll get a conditional pass. That 450 is supposed to
cover repairs to rectify the situation, but it sure didn't last time. So,
I'll pay, get a pass, and have to pay again in a couple of years when they
still don't know what the problem is. Anyway...
A while back at work, I was working on a running computer, so that I
could feel if a hard drive was spinning up as it should. Unfortunately,
there was one of those flimsy Y-splitters for power, and one of the wobbly
pins shorted with another. I've had this happen before. It's usually a
matter of just changing the power supply's fuse. This time was worse. The
power supply died, and it took the brand new UPS with it.
I finally got around to doing a post-mortem on the UPS and power supply.
The UPS is shot for unknown reasons. It thinks there is an overload when
nothing is plugged in, meaning that one of the FETs probably went bad. But
why is the UPS affected at all?
Opening the power supply, the real issue became immediately
apparent. The main fuse in the unit is the standard ceramic tube, sandwiched
into leads that make it suitable for mounting on a board. To save space,
they mounted it vertically, heatshrinked the lead that comes back down to
avoid shorts, and then heatshrinked the unit as a whole to prevent contact
with neighbouring components. The problem is that the heatshrink on the lead
that loops down is nonexistant in the area that matters. The outer
heatshrink was pressing the exposed lead up against the lower contact,
making the fuse effectively "not there."
I mailed Antec and got the response I more or less expected:
There is no way to determine what transpired regarding your power
supply cause damage to your UPS. We would have to test your system
completely in its entirety to get an accurate analysis of what happen. Now
for the simple fact that you have already open the power supply up there has
obviously be some tampering of the power supply by an unauthorized Antec
service representative. With that being said there not much we could.
Never mind that I would not have known about the problem had I not
"tampered" with it. I'm tempted to write back saying that small-claims court
could easily settle this. They won't show up. I'll get the few hundred
dollars to replace the UPS and my court fees. If they do show up, it still
not a problem. Any idiot can see that the fuse doesn't do anything. It could
just as well have burned the building down. They ought to recall all of
their power supplies.
] | posted @ 02:59 | link
Mon Char, Body Work
I've been awfully quiet lately. It's probably because all of my efforts have
been going into fixing my car's body while the weather still accomodates
The story starts last year, when I noticed paint behind my driver's side
rear wheel bubbling. By the end of winter this year, the bubbles had gotten
enormous. This is where most cars develop rust, and in this case, it's the
worst rust this twelve year old car has. Last month I couldn't take it any
more, bit the bullet, and peeled off the giant bubble.
The rust was bad. Toward the bottom, there was really nothing left. My
finger easily pushed through. This is unfortunate, since that's the part of
the fender the rear bumper trim is attached to. On the bright side, the
inner steel wall was in better condition, with shiny primer clearly visible.
Removing rust is a very exacting process; it absolutely has to be removed
entirely, so I used a dremel tool with various grinding bits and worked at
it until all the soft porous iron oxide was gone. Rust may look shiny when
polished, but like cancer, the whole tumour needs to be removed. I then
applied an etching solution several times to make sure any rust left was
properly treated and sealed.
A typical Bondo-only repair is never good, there needs to be some
structural support. Also, because the part I removed had to actually a screw
of the bumper trim, there needed to be something rigid. Typically, body shop
workers use steel. I formed the bottom lip out of fiberglass, since I don't
have tools for steel. The cloth extends far up inside the fender well so
that there is a large surface it holds on to. The bare steel was primed, as
Bondo seems doesn't adhere directly to steel as well.
Several layers of Bondo and spot putty followed. Getting the shape of the
curve to match the steel contour was quite difficult.
At this point, I used a thick asphalt undercoat with rubber to seal the
surface exposed on the inside of the wheel well. It took several coats. It
should keep the salt out of the fiberglass and especially from soaking into
the porous Bondo. A thick coat of primer was applied to the outside surface
and sanded smooth.
I decided to go and shell out the money for a custom made spray bomb of
Dupont exact match laquer. The area was masked such that the tape at the
edges was not stuck directly to the surface. This was done to prevent a
sharp edge of paint.
Twenty minutes later, when the mask was removed, the desired feathering
is there. Unfortunately, the new paint is slightly bluer than the existing
paint, probably due to fading. Nonetheless, it's as good as it is going to
get; there is just nothing I can do about that.
The final steps of the paint job are the ones that seem impossible. The
shiny finish needs to be sanded to remove the "orange peel" texture
and then somehow magically buffed back to a shine that matches the rest of
the car's finish. I never thought that that could actually be done without a
top clearcoat. Thankfully, I was wrong. Using 1500 grit sandpaper, followed
by polishing compound applied with an old sock, along with plenty of water,
I managed to match the luster of the finishes.
The entire project turned out fairly well. Most people would not notice
anything had been done. Looking straight at the area, the difference in
paint colour is quite apparent, however. Also, I did not mention that the
fibreglass reinforcement took two tries, since I used stale resin on the
first attempt. Finally, the paint finish took not one, not two, but
three tries to get right. I think it has something to do with the
primer. So, my repair work is not perfect, but it is good enough. It was a
very educational three weeks.
] | posted @ 02:21 | link
EngFrosh Movie Night
Tonight was EngFrosh 2006's Movie Night at the Mayfair Theatre. I decided to
come visit, and, as expected, there was a crowd of "old geezers" (people
from my generation) at Quinn's. We had a few drinks, and I dropped by
for the movie.
The movies this year were Super Troopers and Top Gun. The
latter was awesome, because it was the movie during my frosh week!
But really, a 20-year-old movie on original film is hard to come by.
Apparently it was somewhat difficult to get, and there were a few frames
missing. Still, the state the emulsion was in was good. I had a great
time. I'll hand it to the Mayfair, they always treat EngFrosh well.
] | posted @ 03:44 | link