My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Lightning Strikes Again

Waste of money?
After dinner last evening, I was watching the news on the big TV set and BAM! – there was a lightning strike very nearby. The big TV flashed white and when the picture returned, it displayed the "No Signal" message, Uh oh!

The TV in the kitchen seemed fine even though it is part of the same Xfinity Comcast installation.

I spent over an hour monkeying around trying to diagnose the problem. I figured that either the TV or set-top box had been damaged.

I swapped TVs and the kitchen TV worked fine with the suspect set-top box, but the big TV would not work with the kitchen connection.

Next, I connected the big TV to my laptop and the big TV mirrored the computer's desktop. Finally, I connected the big TV to its original set-top box connection and now it worked fine!

Did the TV heal itself?

I was relieved that the TV and set-top box were working, but the vintage VCR and new DVD player that were connected to the set-top box would not power up. The DVD player's wall wart was outputting 12 volts DC, but the DVD player would have none of it.

All the equipment was connected to AC via a high-end GE surge protected power strip that had the following guarantee:  In the event that a power surge or spike occurs while equipment is properly connected to the surge protector, the manufacturer will repair or replace any equipment damaged up to the maximum value of $400,000.

But their guarantee does not cover lightning hits!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

1710 Mystery Station


Mike, KA3JAW, asked, "Do you hear a multicultural station on AM 1710 that also comes in during the day time at about  the same signal strength?"

I replied, "I have never heard it during the day. I do hear it occasionally at night (maybe once every two or three weeks). I thought it might be a pirate. If you are hearing it during the day, it is probably a lot closer to you than me."

That exchange started a weeklong quest to figure out what we were hearing. 

The only other stations I hear on 1710 are the Springfield (MA) Armory TIS and WQFG689, the Hudson County (NJ) TIS. I usually hear one or both each night, but the mystery station is a little rarer.

For about one week, I monitored 1710 whenever I had the radio on at home and in the Subaru. This is what I discovered:
When the station shows up, it is usually around sunset for 15 to 30 minute appearances. One time, I also heard it very briefly on the car radio at sunrise.
One evening, I was able to receive it very weakly on the directional antenna (a C.Crane Twin Coil Ferrite on a turntable). The signal peaked to the southeast/northwest, approximately 135/315 degrees. There is not much to the southeast... just some small towns in southeastern Connecticut, the eastern tip of Long Island and then the AtlanticOcean. The northwest is more likely the source... Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, NY and Toronto and Hamilton, ON.
Mike mentioned that he thought he heard Canada mentioned a few times, so perhaps it is a Canadian station.

The station remains a mystery... maybe a little less mysterious, but still a mystery.