music, guitars & other obsessions

Bad Days

Water Disaster Again

My house seems to be possessed by some sort of water demon! Since we moved in, we have experienced numerous leaks, floods on every single floor of this 4-story townhouse, it is just un-believable! The latest leak started four days ago, after non-stop two day rain. We discovered that the roof deck had a leak around the ventilation pipes which were supposedly sealed just a few years ago when a similar leak occurred. Fudge…

After we repaired the leak, all was fine for a day, then the rain started again, this time, the water started to drip down from the electrical wires right into the electrical panel on the second as well as the basement – the water simply followed the wires down through the cracks in the wire as far as we can tell, our neighbor also suffered the same problem, so we suspect that there must be an unplugged hole (or holes) somewhere in the adjointing wall that we share. More repair will be done this weekend.

So far, all the walls on the front of the building have been soaked, they are soggy and need to be scraped off and repainted. There is significant damage done to Gaby’s wall cabinets, perhaps we will just rip them down and toss them out…

The electrical shorts burned out several power adapters and circuit breakers, and an Apple Macbook which was submerged in a puddle of water – just being at the wrong place at the wrong time… The repair bill came out to over RMB700 alone.

Have you ever seen sparks flying off the breakers because water was pouring right into the wire contacts?! Sparks, smoke followed by a burning smell, it is not a pretty sight.

Could not wait for all this ordeal to be over soon ;-(



unRAID Down Again!

Don’t know if it was coincidental, but one of the disks of unRAID array failed after a water-leak in the electrical panel that forced a complete shut down of the main AC into the house! (that’s another sad story altogether)

I ordered another drive, the price of which seem to have shot up by more than 50% in the past year, WTF!? Hope that will solve the problem, hate to think there is something wrong with the RAID chassis… It turned out that one of the cooling fans in the disk array died, and I guess the system purposely disable one of the drives, so someone (me) would get it replaced, I did, and the array came right up, now I have a spare 1TB disk for future replacement…


Spent the whole day on the VVR for the 18 Watt amp, what should be a simple and straight forward installation turned into a time-sucking project… First I mis-wired the MOSFET (even with the darn pinout in front me!), and blew one up immediately. Then I discovered the IRF840 got pretty hot with the small heatsink, so I had to bolt it directly to the chassis, which wasn’t so bad if I had a plastic screw to hold in place (as it turned out it wasn’t necessary the case), of course, I did not, so I ended up using a cable-tie, ugly!

When I plug in the guitar, the noise was un-bearable, a quick search pointed to mistake number 2 – I mis-wired the VVR (even with the schematic right on the computer screen!), it should come after the first filter capacitor, so it did not get bombarded with pulsating DC right off the rectifier, duh! So I had to rewire a bunch of wires and parts, in the process of moving the wires around, led to the next disaster… when I fired up the amp after the re-wiring job, I heard something frying, shut it down, look over everything, and couldn’t find anything obvious… so I fired it up again, this time, I saw a quick flash on the EZ81, I hit the power switch to kill it, and dreaded that I blew up the rectifier, that would be BAD.

It turned out that the fuse was blown, probably about the same time that I saw the flash, after taking things apart and measuring lots of parts, it turned out the first half of the dual capacitor shorted out, how, I had no frigging clue – may be the voltage surge melted the insulation inside it turned out that a piece of the solder was lodged against the metal can under the plastic cover, after I dis-lodged the solder, the cap was not shorted anymore… Anyway, it was shot, so I had to replace it.

Since I already took out the dual can capacitor, I decided just to keep the replacement cap in place, since it offered more filtering, 330uF vs. the old 32uF and it provided a separate ground for the rectifier to tied to. As it is usually a good idea NOT to use the exact same point for the B+ ground and the rest of the HV ground. Now the chassis looked somewhat un-tidy with the VVR circuit installed. Oh well, at least it finally worked.

With the VVR set between 40-80%, the amp put out decent level without making my ears bleed, at below 40%, the tone suffers a bit, but could be brought back somewhat with some EQing. I think the amp now is much more usable than before, and I will install the mod on all the high-power amps I build in the future.

Bad Days – Part 2

Deja Vu! Yesterday I got home and noticed that I can’t access the server, so I reboot it thinking it would kick-start it again, alas, no such luck…

While the unRAID server boots up just fine and has no error on the syslog, I can not get the web UI running nor can I access any drive even after they all seem to mount just fine. Running “ifconfig” at the console showed indeed the Ethernet port was open and set to as it should…

The strange thing is that the web UI would work once in awhile then die, so it led me to suspect a bad Ethernet port on the motherboard, in any case, I am really out of ideas, so I will just swap out the motherboard tomorrow to see if that makes any difference.

This is the second time that the server has gone down in the past few months after working flawlessly for more than a year, wtf!

[EDITED ON Nov 4, 2011]
It turned out that nothing was wrong with the hardware, I re-configure the DHCP assignment and got it working, but I still have no clue as to why it went out in the first place… Stupid networking problem!

WTF! Windows Explorer Error

Today, I moved the 21″ Dell monitor and Logitech Trackball mouse upstairs, after restarting the PC, I kept getting Windows Explorer errors, they would pop up every 30-seconds or so, very very annoying. Searching the net did not turn up much, I have never seen or heard about this error. The XP SP3 has been running flawlessly for years now, this is the first time in awhile that I had to even work on it… Anyway, I think it was a virus, I ran AntiVir, and it found one virus, after removing it, the problem seemed to have disappeared, let’s hope it stays that way.

Screen shot of the error msg

A Very Strange Week

Sometimes everything just seems to go wrong… This happened to me this week – all within the last few days – the hot-water heater shut off (no idea what happened, had to reset the controller), the UnRAID server died after working trouble-free for more than a year straight, now it shuts down after 15-30 minutes after reboots. Urgh! At first, I could not access it via the network, which led me to think that the on-board ethernet port was busted, alas, it turned out that was not it at all..

Since one of the fans on the server was dying and made loud noises, I decided to get them replaced, first I ordered them on Taobao, from the model number Delta 1208, the search showed it was a type “8025” fan, so that was what I ordered. But of course, they turned out to be too small, the correct size is 9mm not 8mm, so lesson learned again, don’t just trust the search, measure the damn thing to make sure.

Anyway, pissed off at the mistake, I then head off to the local computer mall hoping to “quickly” find the 9mm fans, since I remember a place specializes in case cooling and fans, I went there directly – but the damn place is gone. Walking around the mall did not turn up anything, so I went across the street to another mall, same thing – oh well, this place did have them but wanted RMB38 each for it, which I know is more than double the actual retail price online, so my whole morning was shot. I swear, I am never going to one of these frigging PC malls again, the service sucks, you get harassed, hustled and you may still not get the parts that you want, so fuck them!

Back to Taobao I went, they were delivered promptly the next morning, it just goes to show why go to the physical malls and put up with all that shit? So in went the new fans, they are nice and quiet, so one thing out of the way. But the server would boot up fine, worked for may be 30 minutes then shut off again, so the old fans might be noisy but they were not causing the problem after all, the chassis was still getting airflow, and there wasn’t that much heat to dissipate anyway in the server.

After some more troubleshooting, I discovered that the power supply was definitely shot, this came as a surprise because the Corsair TX 750 was the most robust and costly one that I have! WTF… I submitted a RMA request with the company online, hopefully they will respond shortly, the unit is suppose to have a 5-Year warranty period. But even if they give me a new one, I would still be disappointed at the short-life span of the one that I bought…

I then swapped out the Corsair with a generic PS, which has only 3 SATA connectors, so I had to splice in two more for the server, hopefully it has enough juice to run the server in the interim while I get the Corsair repaired.

Here is the shot of the UnRAID array when it is fully operational, so it took me four frigging days just to get the server back online, what a PITA.

In a way, the server went offline at a “good time” because Lao Hu took my OB speakers for some finishing work but after a whole damn week, I just found out that nothing has been done to them, why the hell did he take them in the first place then?!

In any case, I can’t listen to any music in the study while I work, and the silence really stinks! Not only that, it has taken nearly a month since I ordered some speakers made by Lao Hu – one pair of OB with plywood (replacing the MDF prototype), and one 10″ guitar cabinet based on AX84 design, yet I got nothing so far… Is it really that hard to put them together?! Sometimes I just want to get the damn table saws and tools so I can build them myself, but since I am really not that handy with power tools, I’d better stick with the electronic stuff… It is however very irritating to wait for something that never show up on time…

Man, I just can’t remember a week where so many things seem to go haywire all at the same time, let’s hope next week will be an improvement…