Archive for 2010

Kevlar is Not Bullet Proof

by on Dec.13, 2010, under Daytona

2010-12-08_19-58-35_467The TU Kevlar clutch that I installed back in ’06 failed. It had been slipping for a few weeks, but it was holding as long as I didn’t go over 5psi of boost or so. Eventually any boost would make it slip, so I broke down and replaced it with this one from SPEC. It is their “Stage 3+” which has a full-faced ceramic-type disc with a supposedly-modified pressure plate. The pedal feel is just like stock, so I am skeptical about that last part. It holds well, but the real test won’t be until the summer tires are back on.

The Kevlar clutch was very chattery, especially while backing up. If I tried backing up a hill, the motor would practically try to fly out of the engine bay. I also experienced a bizarre problem on two occasions where I could not release it. This was in heavy stop-and-go traffic. I suspect the disc warped because it started working again once it cooled-down. I expected better longevity from the Kevlar lining. It should have lasted much longer than the 35k I got out of the ceramic puck clutch in the CSX, but it failed right around the same time. It did have a stock-like feel in terms of engagement. As long as the RPMs were high to avoid the chattering, the engagement was smooth and easy to manage.

The SPEC clutch is “grabby”, just like you would expect from a ceramic type, but not “chattery”. In other words, the pedal has a very narrow band in which you can slip it especially at low RPMs. When you do slip it however, it does not chatter or at least not very much. Backing up is not a problem, other than avoiding a stall. The Kevlar disc had a lot of run out form the sloppy spline and that may have contributed to the problem. The SPEC disc was tighter, but still had some run out.

While the clutch was out, I replaced the 3-4 shift form pads again. I also replaced the fork. I noticed the new pads on the 1-2 fork were also starting to crack, right over the groove carved into the fork while the pads were blown 2 years ago. So I replaced that fork as well with another good set of pads. I also swapped 3rd gear and its syncro with another used one that looked better. It’s nice to have 3rd gear again.

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Tubelab Simple PP

by on Apr.28, 2010, under Electron Tube Audio

George from Tubelab was kind enough to send me his latest PCB and some iron for a test build. Easy build and the result was tossed into a disused lock box.

Angle shot of the chassis running JJ tubes


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Silver lining to the Comcast DTA

by on Jan.24, 2010, under Linux

While the merits of Comcast’s Digital Transport Adapters are debatable, there is one useful side effect to their existance. Because the are so cheap, they lack a POD tuner. This means that the channel tables are broadcast in-band, which in turn means that a normal QAM tuner can find them. There is a tool called scte65scan that can find these tables using a regular DVB tuner (it also supports the HDHomerun).

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Unraveling Comcast digital cable “upgrades”

by on Jan.22, 2010, under Linux

At some point we will become another victim of Comcast’s digital cable “upgrade” plans. We’ve been an analog cable customer of theirs for about 8 years. The only reason we’ve stuck with them is because they are the only provider that can give us good ol’ NTSC on our coax. That is the only way to have all of our cable programming on more than one TV without paying extra each month for each. In addition to the 3 TVs we also use MythTV for our DVR system, which has 3 NTSC and 2 ATSC/QAM tuners.

We are still getting the analog feed, but last week I finally installed the new digital equipment. Their marketing B.S. is confusing and intentionally misleading, but here is what I have learned from the experience:

“Extended Cable” customers are being migrated to the “Digital Starter” package. You get one standard digital cable box, which comes with their “On Demand” feature, and up to two “Digital Transport Adapters”. They give you the impression that the DTAs are you help make up for the loss of analog service on your other TVs, but this isn’t really true (more on this later). After the migration, you will supposedly be left with your primary local stations and a few other useless cable stations like QVC on analog channels 2-17. The rest are only available as digital QAM channels.

This is where it gets ugly. A subset of our old cable lineup is available as unencrypted QAM256 channels, but the others are all encrypted. Some are flagged as encrypted but are actually clear while the rest are fully encrypted. They also sit on random QAM channels/programs that don’t correspond to how they appear in the lineup on the cable box. Comcast is free to move the channels around and play with the encryption whenever they please because they can just reprogram the cable box and DTAs remotely. This makes using your own QAM tuner frustrating, especially since you can’t receive arbitrary basic cable stations due to encryption (like Discovery Channel in my case).

The DTAs are a joke. Comcast makes sure that the channel lineup is only a tiny subset of the lineup you are paying for. They want you to rent real cable boxes, which makes them no better than DirecTV or U-Verse. The DTA will mainly just tune in your “extra” local digital stations in standard definition, but they do NOT tune in your main local stations. For example, if you have a local broadcaster on channel 10, they transmit high-def over the air on channel 10.1 and also probably broadcast a few extra programs on channel 10.2 and 10.3 or more. The DTA will let you view channel 10.2 and 10.3 on your old NTSC TV, but it won’t tune the main channel 10! Comcast provides those as standard def analog stations, but the DTA can’t tune those and the DTA won’t act as a pass-though when it is off like a VCR would (in fact, you can’t turn DTAs off at all). So to watch channel 10, you need an A/B switch on your antenna to switch between the main cable feed and the output of the DTA. The other stations besides the locals that the DTA will receive are fairly useless (more QVC-like stations, Lifetime, and one or two others I’ve never heard of).

So unsurprisingly, Comcast continues to offer less for more. If they provided basic cable stations on unencrypted channels that would be one thing. The only good news in my eyes is that they offer nothing over what you can get from other communication carriers now. All I have to do is put an antenna on the roof.

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nedit_5.6~cvs20100114-rknize1 released

by on Jan.15, 2010, under Linux

Release a new CVS snapshot for nedit, mainly to ease installation on top of the snapshot that comes with Ubuntu 9.10.

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