Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fixing junk

TV Magic

It's been a while since the lightning strike that blew out all of our HDMI ports, since then we have learned that

  1. Our insurance is terrible, and makes little sense
  2. Get a better surge protector and a whole house surge protector
  3. Plasma TV's are surprisingly simple to fix.

The main board is on the bottom left
Halley decreed that this must get fixed before the Olympic coverage began.  I took a wild guess and assumed that the only damaged board would be the "main" board. This is the "brains" of the TV. This is also the board with all of the HDMI ports, and I hoped that the damage started and ended there.  I found a used board from the same series on ebay (not the same TV... this will come into play later) for $60. MUCH less than Panasonic wanted to fix the problem, and MUCH MUCH less than a new TV.

For reference, the entire size of the plug in the
picture is the width of my index finger
Once the part came I quickly found out smaller TV's do not have fans in them. (out TV is 50", the main board I ordered was from the 46" model of our TV's line) The board had the surface mound pads but no socket to plug into. I decided to strip the wires and solder to the leads.

The only soldering iron I had was a crummy radio shack pencil that had two thrilling modes, on and off, so I decided this would be a perfect time to get a big boy soldering iron. I purchased the Weller WLC100 40 watt soldering iron station. Due to the itty-bittiness of the pads I needed to solder to, I ordered some really awesome fine tips for the soldering iron as well.


Once all the goodies came, I soldered it all together without globbing solder onto the entire area and was pretty proud of myself (considering how awful most of my solder projects look) I even got a seal of approval from the solder god himself Dustin (from Invidi) I put the TV all back together and soon found out that not only was it missing the jack for the fans, but it also lacked the programming to power the fans, or even monitor the fans (after reading the service manual, the TV isnt even supposed to turn on if the fans are missing).
Dustin - The self proclaimed Solder God

The backup plan was to just buy a separate power supply for the fans and have two plugs coming out of the TV. I decided to make it less kludge-tastic than most of my projects by buying the female end to the power supply jack I bought (instead of just stripping the wires and hard wiring to the fans). We bought some epoxy and drilled a hole in the back of the TV and I have to say, well I'll let Gladdos describe it.

Finished product!  Functional TV, with an added port for the fan's power supply

Pools hate pine trees

Our pool has a large number of trees around/over top of it. 90% of the debris we get is from a large pine in the corner of the yard.  On hot days we curse at it while we skim frantically before we hop in.  We found a pool robot on craigslist for $300 (they normally go for over $1000) and the couple was nice enough to include an extra broken one for parts! Halley has lovingly named him "pooli". Also its a "he" I guess? 

I wanted to make sure he was covering the entire pool, so I did a timelapse of him running all day, and he works very well. He uses suction to pull whatever debris is on the walls/floor of the pool into his filter.


Unfortunately pooli only gets what has sunk to the bottom. Floating debris is supposed to go into the skimmers on the side of the pool but due to the evil pine tree, our skimmers get full just about daily.

I found a pool-nerd website with a great forums section that recommended getting a "poolskim". This genius product takes the water pressure from the pools returns, and shoots it across the bottom of a cylinder which sucks the water down with it. It's floating "hat" stays on the surface level of the water to allow a steady trickle of water from the surface to come in (which brings surface debris along with it) The energy this device uses to clean your pool is already there, so it's cost to run is basically free. I did have to add a limiter to the second pool return to give the device the pressure it needed so I would imagine it is making the pool pump work a bit harder than normal. (stupid first law of thermodynamics)

Between these two new pool cleaners (and eventually cutting down/trimming back a few of the offending trees) We hope to have a sparkling clean pool all summer long...?

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