Archive | July, 2013

RAGBRAI XLI

31 Jul

I usually reserve this place to talk about gear, production and all the rest like that, but I must interrupt with a quick shout out and much love to my friends in Team HJ who joined me for seven days last week in the Des Moines Register’s annual great bike ride across Iowa (better known as RAGBRAI).  

I find few things as freeing as waking every morning with nothing to do but ride your bicycle.

Ride on, friends.  

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Treasure Hunting

31 Jul

With football season fast approaching, my morning was full of production meetings to prepare for what’s to come. While such meetings are no doubt important, by the end I was ready to get my hands dirty with some tech. While de-prepping an event a couple weeks ago, I had noticed a closet outside the stadium’s control booth full of tangled cables and seemingly random pieces of gear, so what better time than the present to see what was hiding in there.

An hour later, I had filled a cart full with DVD players, DSPs, amps, wireless receivers and more–all in unknown condition. Jackpot!

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After admiring my bounty, I grabbed a countertop, claimed it as my workbench and happily spent the rest of the afternoon testing all the gear, labeling each with its current condition and date of testing.

Tomorrow I hope to assimilate the working units into our inventory stored in the arena and begin developing a more comprehensive list of what we have to work with. Baby steps!

Here’s a shot of easily the coolest thing that turned up, an Altec 1592B mixer/amplifier.

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QSC 1400 overheating at the new gig.

15 Jul

Hey there, trusty followers.  I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat since my last post in…. uh… well, too long.  A lot has happened.

I’ve relocated to Bozeman, Montana to take a gig as Technical Director of Sports Facilities at Montana State University.  Yes, that’s a bit of a mouthful, but I’m excited for what the future holds.  I can’t say I could have predicted this move, but what the hell, sometimes you feel like getting a little crazy.  I’ll give you the rundown on this in a future post.  I promise it will be soon-ish.

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Looking out my front door.

Anyhow, the second day on the job, a set of speakers in our arena, aimed directly at the court, purposed primarily for our basketball team (go Bobcats!) to crank their warm up jams(z) through, was cutting in and out.  We were listening to the radio at the time, so someone suggested perhaps our tuner was just losing signal.  However, only the one zone was being affected, so I greatly doubted that was cause.  I nodded my head and tried to keep an open mind, but kept thinking in the back of my head, “we’ve got an amp overheating.”

Sure, it could have been lots of things, but the overheating hypothesis just felt right.  Music would play through the speakers for a few minutes, then shut down for about 1/3 less time than it had played.  So a minute and a half-ish of playback, 30 seconds-ish of death. Give or take an ish.

Upon a visit to the amp rack, what else did we (my comrade Tom and I) find but a little QSC 1400 that was hot as Hell.  We were in the middle of something, so we shut down the amp, put a fan on it and went back to taking down some soft goods, figuring we’d troubleshoot when we had the time.

I used to have a QSC 1400, or rather “borrowed” one from my dad, and I was fairly positive they were forced-air cooled.  Today I had an extra hour to squeeze behind the amp rack and point my flashlight at the back of the amp.  Yep, there’s a fan.  And yep, upon powering up the unit, the fan didn’t budge.

I really love fixing broken audio gear, so I ripped that baby out of the rack faster than you can say “thermal meltdown” and pulled off the top.  HOLY CRAP–the fan was absolutely covered in black, super-dust gunk.  Of course, I was so excited to clean the thing at this point I forgot to take a picture.  I immediately removed the fan and started to flush the motor with WD-40.  The fan was still quite difficult to turn by hand, and wasn’t even close to moving on its own accord.

It took a full disassembly of the fan motor to clean out all the crap.  I reassembled the fan, put the fan back in the amp, the amp back in the rack, and got the jams(z) once again pumping.

While I completely understand how such a task can be overlooked in a fast-paced, event-driven environment, try and make a point to clean your amplifiers’ cooling systems, at least once every, oh, decade at least.  And if you’ve got amps fancy enough to have filters, don’t forget to clean those–I’ve seen a few too many filters full of “dryer lint.”  Great for campfires, bad for amplifiers.

I leave you with an interior shot of the QSC 1400, post fan cleaning.  These are great little workhorses.  When cared for, they can provide clean, reliable power for years and years.

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By the time this needs cleaning again I’ll be mixing FOH for Peter Frampton.