Friday, January 18, 2013

It Burns Us!

In light of my great success installing five little capacitors, I decided to try my hand at some automobile repair.

I have a 1992 Miata. It originally belonged to my sister who gave it to my dad who gave it to me. It's been sitting out in the Texas Panhandle weather for the last 16 years or so. If you are not familiar with Texas Panhandle weather it consists of hot summers, lots of wind, lots of dust, a little rain, occasional hail storms, occasional tornadoes, and yearly snow and ice storms.

So far we've replaced the flip up headlights with flush mounted ones. The flush mounted headlights look better, but I'm not exactly happy about the mounting instructions and the work required to aim them. They haven't been aimed yet so I can't drive it after the sun goes down.

We've also replace the old vinyl top, which was weathered and hot glued to keep the rain out, with a cloth top. I like it much better.

Lately, it has started stalling. It stalls if you are at a low RPM and then push in the clutch. This mostly happens when downshifting in to second gear or first gear and then coming to a stop or slowing down to take a corner. I got to where I'd drive it without downshifting and at least it wouldn't die, but it wasn't as much fun to drive.

I found a website that said you could bypass the computer and adjust the idle to prevent this behavior. On the driver's side of the engine there is a diagnostics box. On the passenger's side of the engine there is a small metal tube sticking up with a black plastic cap on top. In my car's case, the cap was gone. At the bottom of this tube is a screw. Counter-clockwise turns increase the idle. Clockwise turns decrease the idle. It only works when the computer is not controlling the idle.

I rounded up a helper and went out to adjust the idle. The diagnostic box contains two rows of metal connectors. The instructions say use a paperclip to connect the ground to connector ten. The diagnostic box top has them labelled. I put the paperclip in and the car stalled. This made me feel that I perhaps had found the problem.

Now, my helper had to adjust the idle while I monitored the tachometer in the car. But, before that, I yanked the paperclip out to keep the car from stalling. When I put the paperclip back in, I was not very careful. Just next to the connector marked TEN is a connector marked B+. B+ and GND is not good. It burned the hell out of my fingers (which were holding the paperclip). It caused me to think perhaps I had some strange form of Tourette syndrome. I had no idea my brain knew such foul words. Three fingers on one hand and two on the other have, what will more than likely be, permanent scars.

But, I'm no wimpy Tourette sufferer. I found another paperclip and inserted it into the proper spots and we adjusted the idle up to about 900 RPM's with the paperclip installed. Then we removed the paperclip to insure that everything was still copacetic. It was.

Now, hopefully when I drive the car to the body shop later today, it'll run without stalling. I hope. Else the payment of my tender digits will have been for naught.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Five Little Capacitors

I have this Audio Video Receiver I bought about 4 years ago. It's an Onkyo TX-SR606. I can't remember how much I paid for it. Let's say maybe $400.

A couple of months ago it started blacking out whenever I was watching a DVD. I thought it was my DVD player's fault and was researching a replacement. My computer video was working fine. My Blu-Ray player was working fine. Only my DVD player exhibited the problem.

But before I was able to purchase a new DVD player, my Blu-Ray player started flickering. I'd get little white lines across the screen when watching movies. Finally, the Blu-Ray player also started going black during movies. Not just the video goes out, but the audio as well. It's like I was completely losing signals from the players.

All my components run through my Onkyo receiver via HDMI and at this point, it was my primary suspect even though my computer was still working fine. In case your curious, my computer is like a DVR with an over the air digital antenna and three tuners so I can record three shows at once!

I started researching the possibility of buying a replacement receiver, but I wasn't completely happy about spending the bucks for another receiver when this one was only 4 years old.

I Googled for HDMI problems with an Onkyo SR606. Much to my surprise there was a plethora of information. It seems that this receiver is known for its HDMI issues and mine were minor.

I ended up watching this video and then tried to fix it myself. The total cost was about $6 for 5 capacitors. If you watch the video, he'll explain that it's very easy to fix and if you have the smarts to find the video then you're more than capable of fixing it yourself. He kind of irritated me, but since he saved me at least $300, I'll forgive him.

He didn't take into account shaky hands. My hands shake so bad, I was only able to get two of the capacitors on before things got too tight. Luckily I know some soldering experts at work so I took the HDMI board to work and someone there helped me finish.

Upon putting the HDMI board back into my receiver, I was pleasantly surprised to see I had successfully repaired my receiver! No more flickers and no more blackouts.

Some things I learned in the process:

  1. Capacitors must be installed with the same polarity as the capacitors they replaced.
  2. On the HDMI board the negative polarity is square. The diagram on the circuit board kind of "aims" to positive.
  3. You can use axial and radial capacitors interchangeably as long as there is room to solder.
  4. The voltage rating can be equal to or greater, but the farads must match.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Woot! 2013!

Before I get into my regularly scheduled boring ass posts, I figured I should get my Happy New Year out of the way. It's only a week late. So, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I am happy to report I exceeded expectations in keeping my 2012 New Years resolution! This resolution was the same as it was in 2011 and the same as it was in 2010. And, I've proudly kept it all 3 years! You can read about it here. I resolved in 2010 not to make any more New Years resolutions. I've been very successful.

This year is starting out to be a momentous year. I plan to become a grandpa and I plan to legalize my current domestic partnership. I might write more on that later.

As it is now, after a hiatus from blogging and then to get back into it with such fervor: I'm spent.