While life in general is very much on the crap side right now, at least in some things I do prevail against the odds.

One example. Two months ago I bought an ancient Sanyo DCX-8000K receiver so that I can have music in the bedroom again. (The earlier setup with the Pioneer in the bedroom is history because the crap Sony in the living room went the way of all crap electronics: I broke it up for components.)

This DCX was Sanyo's top of the line model -- in 1975, thus very well before the invasion of the Black Crap. I bought it because it was a) cheap and b) some audiophools listed it as underappreciated good vintage gear. (completely separate pre-amp stage with pre-amp out, high- and low filters, real 50W/channel into 2 sets of speakers, shitloads of inputs, all discrete components, tuner with 60dB selectivity and 70dB SNR and so on). A pair of Kenwood CM5-ES bookshelf speakers was also acquired.

True to my usual luck the thing turned up with one knob missing and 90% of the bulbs blown. Not that such a thing bothers me much; even with my crappy gas soldering iron it was no big deal to replace the blown main bulbs (unobtainium in fuse-form) with common ones. Some crickets, cobwebs and a mummified cockroach were also liberated in due course.

And it worked! It worked great! Sounded teriffic and the tuner was extremely good at picking up 4ZZZ even with my crappy roof antenna (another item on the todo list).

After two hours of musical bliss disaster struck: the tuner suddenly karked it. It tuned only to the two strongest local umppa-ummpa aerial polluters, and the signal meter needle hardly left the zero stop.

Now, would you have waved your $30 goodbye? Not me! Throwing good money after bad, I spent another$15 on an original service manual (which came from the US, weeks later), and also decided to up the tool kit: now I have a temperature-controlled soldering station (a Chinese clone of a Hakko 936), breadboard, LEDs and assorted other electronic components.

I can still figure out how to make a S/R flipflop from scratch, and also how to turn it into a T-flipflop. All is not lost!

Armed with the service manual, I ripped the DCX apart for the second time. Following the test points with my multimeter (I have no oscilloscope. Yet.), I really learned to love the innards of the beast. Wire-wrapped terminals, separate boards for everything, exactly one IC (the FM/MPX/Stereo demultiplexer...even the RIAA-stuff is done with discrete transistors!), a solid power supply, a real frame; more than 12kg of electronic goodness.

Eventually (and with a bit of advice on HF from \rho) I managed to pinpoint the problem. Somewhere in the AGC circuitry the signal was lowered to pretty much nothing. Why? I didn't know at first, but bridging the transistor in question led to reception. Strike one.

With a clamp in place, the DCX satisfied my needs for the next few weeks, with the exception of blinkenlight appeal and with a crappy antenna connection. This was fixed a month ago, when I ripped it to shreds for the third time.

The blinkenlight circuit received a rectifier so that I could add LEDs instead of the fried indicator lights, the LEDs got cardboarded in, and finally I identified why the AGC circuit had malfunctioned: two diodes were conducting in every direction and one related transistor was mostly not conducting at all. (Such discoveries I tend to make around 01:00 or later.) So I soldered replacements in, added a proper 75ohm antenna socket and have been super-happy with the gear since then. (The next project is already in the acquisition phase: transmogrification of an IBM 8363, a USB-Wifi adapter and a Palm into a fan- and disk-less cheap remote jukebox for the bedroom.)

And the DCX is not the only thing where I've used my stupid stubborn determination to good effect. Since then I've disassembled my Ixus400 two times (a fabrication problem with that model, which Canon actually fixes for free, but which I haven't arranged yet...), spent days soupint up a PC I've inherited from a friend of mine (just at the right time, because my lapdog was getting very unreliable) and so on. I've also persisted with getting the bloody PhD over and done with (the results are not in yet, so I'm not celebrating yet/as if I ever celebrated anything).

But life? love? happiness? knowing what I want and/or how to get it? Nah. sigh

"Happiness is the maximum agreement between reality and desire." -- Joseph Stalin
[ published on Mon 09.10.2006 00:45 | filed in | ]