Author Archives: phila

Wipe and wait

My car has a 4-position windshield wiper stalk; off, intermittent, slow, fast.

While the motor needs to be pulled and serviced because there’s little difference between slow and fast, the intermittent wipe had always been somewhat pathetic.

Selecting intermittent would make the relay click, and as soon as the wipers returned to the parked position, click again and they would almost immediately wipe again.

Pulled the dash shroud down and located the clicking box at the top left. (Top right is the key-in/seatbelt buzzer, bottom left the cruise control stalk, above that with the finned heat sink the dashboard dimmer control).

relay delay box

Took the circuit board out and drew up the circuit diagram by following the traces, to get a better understanding of the circuit and its method of operation.

board

Culprits were most likely the electrolytic capacitors. One had a high ESD and the other was meant to be 22uF, it measured in at about 100nF. Replaced them both. Now the wipers wipe and wait about 5 seconds before wiping again on intermittent, and added bonus, they now wipe 3 times after spraying screenwash onto the screen. Not bad for 45 minutes’ work and spares I had in stock.

Odds and ends

Been busy with Scouts events lately. First off was the Raingutter Regatta, which is an event where you build a boat from a kit and then race against other people with boats by blowing at the sail through a drinking straw.

Didn’t win any races but the boats were decorated that morning with Sharpie permanent markers. We have the Cheshire Cat from the latest edition of the Alice In Wonderland films, and Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”.

boats

That was a bit of fun. Next up was the Space Derby, which is basically elastic-band, propeller driven craft that fly along a zipline. Furthest wins, or first to the end of the run, which is about 30 feet or so of fishing line, held taut.

airplane

We went for a heavier design which won it first place in the races (not the fastest but it managed to gain the most momentum and coasted on by faster but shorter-traveled competitors). Designed after the P52 Mustang.

wheel off again

Took the wheels off the front of the car again, and changed the brake pads for new ones. The brakes had good pedal but offered little actual braking effort.

glazed

The pads were so glazed I could almost see my face. Plenty of friction material but all cracked up. In the bin they went. The brakes now work properly. That’s better.

Co-processing.

I decided to buy a little something for myself, so eBay was opened up and I hit “Buy It Now” on an item.

Package

3 weeks later, it arrived from Kowloon, Hong Kong. The reason for the package? This empty socket.

socket

As if by magic, it was filled with a suitable device:

387

Upon fitting a 387 co-processor, a jumper needed to be shorted to inform the board to use it.

jumper

CheckIt determined that the thing was working (which is good, as there are surprisingly quite a lot of fake/broken chips circulating the market).

checkit

It was then tidied up into the desk. Makes a significant improvement where a math co-processor is utilized.

lotus 3

A bit of fun, reminder of days gone by.

Some new subjects to focus on

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently acquired a Canon A-1 35mm film camera. It dates to 1978, and it was Canon’s first foray into fully automatic exposure cameras.

It gives a digital readout of the f-stop (aperture) and exposure time through the viewfinder using red LED numerals (which can be disabled), you can hold the reading for backlit scenes, calculate both, just the aperture or just the exposure time. Very innovative for the day, just focus and click. I got the pictures back that I had taken from being processed. Here’s a small selection:

Bayou Lafourche at Leeville
Bayou Lafourche at Leeville.

Hydrant
Experimenting with depth of field.

Leeville North, LA Hwy 1
Louisiana Highway One, at North Leeville. Once the busiest road in the area, now a ghost town.

Captain Thuan
Fishing boat, Bayou Lafourche, Larose.

It does have a light leak on the right hand side of the mirror. After a little reading, it seems that’s fairly common on these as the felt stripping that blocks the light disintegrates with time.

Pointe des Chenes

Compare with a modern digital image, adjusted with a warming filter. Quite different. I like both, but all the images taken with the Canon look like they could easily have been shot in 1985.

More illumination

Also, I didn’t take any pictures of the process because messy and Kerosene, but I got the red Coleman lantern cleaned up and running.

lit up

It burns brightly, which is good. New mantle from Walmart, some kerosene from the jug in the back room, the pump needs to have the leather bung replaced because despite oiling it, it doesn’t pump very well until it “catches” and starts to pump reasonably.

Illumination

I recently fitted some LED bulbs to my reversing lights because LED and because they weren’t very bright. Unfortunately, the addition of LED’s didn’t really help. Most of the light was going back through the plastic of the reflector.

splish splash

Began by taking the worst lamp unit out and gave it a bit of a clean up in the sink. (Read: gave it a thorough clean with q-tips and soap and lots of water).

flash on

Taking a picture with the flash on shows that the reflector now reflects better because the plastic inside isn’t covered in grime and the reflective surface is a bit cleaner. However, the reversing light is still very dull.

dremel

Out with the Dremel.

lamp unit off

A bit of smoke and hot plastic later and the reflector housing is off. Indeed, the plastic is made from this kinda tan colored ABS which isn’t very reflective. You can just about see the remains of the silver paint that used to be on it at the bottom. Heat and age have made it all flake off.

taped up

Cleaned out and taped up the sections I didn’t want to paint. Stupidly I forgot to take a picture of the afterward, but I used shiny aluminum paint which, although not as shiny as the original chrome, is a lot better than how it was.

epoxy mix

Mixed up some “5 minute epoxy”, using the traditional matchstick and random piece of card.

epoxy

With a combination of cynoacrylate and the epoxy glue, I fixed the reflector back onto the lamp assembly.

polished

After a quick polish with some plastic polish, the result is visible.

light on the right

The light on the right is brighter than the one on the left now; before it was the other way around.

all bright

After going through the same rigamarole with the left light cluster, it looks a bit better than before.

buffed up

Machine polished the left lens because it was very scratched, particularly over the reflector. Looks better now, the white marking is where the plastic has crazed in the sun.
I think I’m going to be on the look for Renault 9 rear lights, because those actually line up with the rear swage line. For now though, these ones are working better.

Coleman Model 200A

On a whim, I picked this up for $0.25 – it’s a bit of a mess but should come apart, free up and hopefully be useable.

Coleman dirty

Welp, there go the meta tags. It’s sideways. Gave it a bit of a clean up.. looks a lot better- the tank is painted but the lid is red stove enamel.

cleaner coleman

The pump, pipes and everything are jammed up solid with old gooey kerosene and dirt, so that’ll be fun to clean. It’ll get there though. This one is more efficient on fuel than the bigger twin mantle one I have.

Film photography and a 386

I went to an estate sale at the end of last week and picked up a few things, the computer below and a camera, of the notably interesting items.

386

A 1993 Magnavox (Philips) 386 SX/20, with optional CD-ROM sitting on top. It was grimy on the outside, filthy inside as to be expected from an older system.

A1

After a thorough cleaning, the Canon A-1 camera. 35mm film camera with fully automatic exposure (AE). View through the viewfinder (this shot before I had cleaned the lens and filter, so it’s a bit hazy) shows the aperture and exposure time in f/stops and 100ths of a second respectively.

viewfinder

It’ll calculate that and set itself if you leave it in fully programmed mode.. fancy stuff. Bought a new battery for it and a foll of Fuji 400.. have been shooting some pictures so once that’s finished I’ll see if they came out OK.

wolfenstein

Got the computer running after giving it a thorough clean and fixing a couple contacts. Found a cable to replace the one in the back to link to the CD. Added a network card so it has CD interface, network and sound. Multimedia on a 386, before “multimedia” was a coined phrase!

cd working

Added a larger hard drive in (540Mb, or rather, 30Gb but partitioned down to the max the BIOS can handle without an overlay) and got the CD to read. 1x so it’s not fast but it does work!

AM Radio

This is a fun one for me- I’ve had this radio since I was about 12- I had gone to my school for the tombola/fair/jumble sale. I bought one of two radios, initially the one I god was a white plastic deal, brand I forget, and one of my friends- Alex Biffin- bought this one, for 50p (about, what, $0.75 these days). I bartered this one for his radio as this one worked better. It’s a Roberts RIC-1, the first radio to be produced in the UK to incorporate an integrated circuit (IC) into the design, making the design a lot smaller.

radio

It worked for a while until I dropped it and it stopped playing. I took it apart and determined the cause was the IF oscillator coil because it would sometimes crackle into life if I twisted the can. I tried to search around, went to the radio shop in Wells (long since gone) but nobody had the part available, so I shelved the radio.

Fast forward two decades and I decide to pull it off the shelf and try fix it, with greater knowledge, experience and Internet behind me these days. I found a service manual for it, something that was totally unavailable back in the day.

apart

Took it to bits, gave it a bit of a clean up as it was rather dusty. The loudspeaker wire had also broken off so that got re-soldered on. Still, nothing from the speaker as before.

LP1175

The offending article, a twin transformer coil in a can marked LP1175, apparently a fairly common part made by Philips back in the day.

angle

Same device, from a different angle, also the TAD100 IC that gives the radio its’ name.

can removed

De-soldered the IF can and set it aside, looking at the connections.

coils

Further dismantled the can, removing the outer shelding, and also the inner ferrite shield that surrounded the primary winding. Pointed at there with the tool is a glob of glue where the primary coil windings pass through- which was fractured and had broken the fine wire.

new wire

I managed to unravel one length of wire from one end of the coil and re-soldered it to its leg, the other one was underneath the rest of the windings and wouldn’t come undone far enough to be long enough to reach. I took a piece of regular multi-strand cable, took one strand of copper out of it and fixed it to the short leg- the rest of the windings are covered in varnish so wrapping it around wasn’t a problem.

extension

Attached the extension piece to the leg it needed to be fixed to. Put it all back into the circuit, twisted the power dial and POPCRACKLEHISS. Wonderful! Tuned in a local station, a joy to hear audio from this radio after so long.

The loudspeaker had seen better days so I carefully made some repairs with coffee filter paper and Elmer’s glue (PVA) after doing a bit of research on the Internet about basic cone repair.

coffee paper and speaker

Cutting out more pieces and carefully reshaping the edges lef to an acceptable repair that no longer vibrates with bass notes.

fixed speaker

With that done, I set up my test rig and began aligning the radio- it wasn’t bad but it is now easily capable of picking up WSM that broadcasts from Nashville, TN.

aligning

It’s nice to have this radio working again. It got the kids interested in the theory, so with the new Snap-Circuits set (circuit building set we got from Elenco) built a small, basic AM radio. Fun times!

Sensors and an unfortunate incident of unplanned ingestion

I’d planned for a while to change the intake air temperature sensor on the Renault because it had been reading a little “odd”- erratic and not really reflective of the world in general.
I ordered a replacement part- the closest I could get in terms of fitment is for a 1991 Jeep. The thermistor curve is the same as mine, as is the physical fitting. The only difference is the wiring connection.

undo

I don’t have a 19mm crow’s foot so slight tool abuse saw the old sensor undone.

old sensor

The offending article. Rather grubby (not that it really affects it) from being in the flow of fuel and air.

closeup

Closer inspection shows that the thermistor bead is cracked. That’ll be why the readings have been a bit strange.

comparison

Comparing old versus new. Same, barring the socket.

tools

Head inside into the warm to get set up with the tools required- I don’t have the proper Jeep socket so I decided that the heat of the engine in the location shouldn’t be so high to melt solder, so I would reuse the original connector.

chop chop

A quick spin of the Dremel later and the connectors are exposed.

trimmed and soldered

Trimmed the lugs down and soldered the old wires on.

heatshrink

I’d added a couple pieces of heat-shrink tubing to the wires before soldering them on. Fired up the propane torch outside to warm them up to shrink them down to the wires.

heatshrunk

A little bit toasted but shrunk down nicely.

reinserted

Inserted the new sensor and connected it all up. Noticeable difference now on cold start, before the oxygen sensor warms up and begins to give trim readings.

computer monitoring

I took the car for a drive and it was a lot better. When I got back I popped the hood to check on things and in doing so, leaned on the airbox, which was stone cold- that’s wrong for this kind of weather as the preheat damper valve should open up and draw warm air in from around the intake manifold. Took a bit of a looksee at what was going on. The vacuum operated valve was working when vacuum was applied to it. I took the throttle body hat off and found this:

thermo-valve

That’s about one-third of a thermostatic vacuum valve that controls the intake preheat damper flap. The rest of it is… gone. That will likely be the bad misfire the other day and the reason for the plugs being covered in dirt and having closed up, with bits of the valve being drawn into the cylinders and bashing about at the insides.

boroscope

I borrowed the 1979 Edmund Scientific fiber boroscope from work to have a look inside to see if there was anything left in the manifold that needed to be removed or any damage to the inside of the engine.

intake poke

Pushed it down the intake and had a look inside the manifold.

air sensor

It’s a bit difficult to get pictures from but that’s the new intake air sensor down the intake towards no.1 cylinder.

Took the plugs out and had a look in the bores.

crown

Top of one of the piston crowns. They all looked good. Put the mirror back on and took a look at the valves.

exhaust valve

Exhaust valve- looking good. A few signs of chips in the deposits in pots 1 and 2 but nothing substantial, thankfully. Looks like it broke up and was ejected in pieces out of the exhaust.

5 volts

Took a few readings from the throttle position sensor as it was acting a bit weird. Measured OK, and came up better after having been reconnected, so probable cause is a bad connection at the device. Back up and running, but I need to go to Dodge to see if they have the thermostatic valve.