Lighting rants, car rants, lessons-learned, info, etc.
A chronicle of my own learning experiences delving into the fields of lighting and theatre production tech, hybrid and conventional cars, and miscellaneous other topics. Plenty of useful tech reference stuff.

     hobbit . at . techno-fandom . dot . org
      [read somewhat infrequently; see below]

Lighting rants

lighting/lighting-linkfarm.html -- Many lighting-related meta-pointers, originally to support a couple of specific projects and seminars as well as being a rathole-farm. Somewhat out of date by now; various external links may be dead
lighting/dimmer.html -- linearizing cheapo Torchiere dimmers
lighting/arisia02.txt -- review of early experience as LD at a local con
lighting/saas02.txt -- South Asian culture show, largish lighting gig at MIT, spring 2002
lighting/isr02.txt -- a song of sprinklers: failed, then rescheduled, Israeli dance gig
lighting/balty02.txt -- review of lessons learned LDing *another* con
lighting/h2k2.txt -- hogging the WholeHog at H2K2, aka the HoPE 2002 hacker con
lighting/neutrik.txt -- a small rant about Neutrik's solderless connector fiasco
lighting/side-cyc.txt -- more in the "lessons learned" department: description/analysis of lighting a large backdrop from the side, MIT, spring 2003
lighting/as-workshop.txt -- review of the Actorsingers' lighting & sound weekend workshop, early Aug 2003
a04redux.txt -- tech debrief notes for Arisia 04, reflecting two more years on with getting more comfortable LDing at conventions, and some of our real glory days at the Park Plaza

... a bit of time passes.  For further Arisia reports, see   pix/aNN/   where NN represents 2-digit years from about '08 onward.

lighting/splash05.txt -- summary of helping teach and implement a very short-timeframe show at Splash 2005, a weekend program run by MIT's ESP organization
lighting/ab06.html -- lighting the dances at Anime Boston 2006, and general observations
lighting/static-zing.txt -- showstopping lighting-desk problems stemming from one of those newfangled plastic-top folding tables ... important lesson here!
lighting/bigsrch.html -- a search form to do unlimited message searches on the LightNetwork forum [and others] hosted at Delphi/Prospero. Uses cookies, grrrr
  *Note: Light Network moved off Prospero and is now at
lighting/yelloband.gif -- Fun with color, aka a little roadie humor
lighting/masq-fx.txt -- Lighting effect "art-fag" descriptions aimed toward costumers participating in SF/fantasy convention masquerades, or possibly any other sort of similarly theatrical production
lighting/redneck/ -- Some quick-n-dirty event lighting solutions thrown together with various types of compact-fluorescent bulbs and cheezy fixtures. With a little more work, may have some interesting implications for the stage
lighting/arisia11/pony/ -- An example of hand-cutting a gobo out of aluminum pie-plate, showing that curves and fairly complex details can be done with an ordinary x-acto knife and come out looking quite good
lighting/dj-dimmer/ -- Discussion of issues and design deficiencies found in small "DJ grade" dimmer packs, particularly those of offshore origin
lighting/tldeglaze.jpg -- Picture showing results of "de-glazing" the coated type of theatrical black cotton tie-line: simply soak/swish in warm water, dry, and optionally "distress" slightly over a table edge or something to knock the rest out. The glazing stuff is similar to shirt sizing
lighting/s4-lens.jpg -- Source 4 lens tube configurations, from various revisions of ETC's S4 user manual. These are often reassembled wrong by well-meaning people who go to clean the dust out of them
lighting/s4-refl.jpg -- Bad shot of the difference between old and new Source 4 lamphousing reflectors; old one on the left is cloudy and loses a lot of light
lighting/dmx918/ -- Short pictorial on flipping the DMX receiver polarity on the Martin 918 scanner, which is internally set by jumpers instead of auto-sensing like more modern units can
lighting/laserspray/ -- Fixing various mechanical problems in cheap laser-projector heads

Venue info     [Much of which is likely out of date by now, but still here as perspective on how we sometimes think about spaces we work in]

lighting/kresge-ckt.txt -- Kresge auditorium [MIT] hardwired-dimmers circuit map
lighting/pph-ball.txt -- The horrendous state of the Crestron house-lighting controller at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. It desperately needs to be reconfigured
lighting/ccc-gym.png -- Rear gym at Cambridge Community Center, off Howard St in Cambridgeport

Useful lighting control stuff

lighting/m518.lib.txt -- Corrected Martin robo 518 fixture profiles for inclusion in Hog _lib.lib. Flying Pig got some of the values and modes wrong, and left out "lampoff". Includes comments on the "real life" values that the fixture understands, although comments do *vanish* once you load it and re-save your show
lighting/sliders.lib.txt -- Hog fixture profile to produce 27 raw DMX-valued output channels
lighting/extract.lib.txt -- Procedure to extract text-format fixture profiles from HogII _LIB.ROM
lighting/m918.lib.txt -- Improved Martin robo 918 fixture profile, providing somewhat better indication of "real life" fixture behavior
lighting/PLL2.txt -- Phase-lock macro to fake "tap sync" functionality for Hog desks
lighting/ -- Stupid little shell script to translate between channel % and DMX value[s]
lighting/dmx-signals.txt --   !Updated!   a brief study of RS485 signal degradation when launched from various sources into different types of cable, and some other observations [including some advice straight from Doug Fleenor himself!]. For a more visual follow-on, see ...
lighting/dmxwave/ -- Related page with more DMX signal exploration, with many 'scope shots showing waveforms seen under assorted network problem scenarios.  Clearly illustrates what "slew rate limiting" means
lighting/LP15xxfix/ -- Upgrading a Leprecon 1500-series board to a GROUNDED power supply, making it significantly more stable and interference-resistant
lighting/etc-rfu/ -- A quick look inside the typical RFU for ETC Express/Expression boards, and diagnosis of a rather common cabling problem that plagues these units
lighting/etc-ion.html -- Observations from first personal contact with ETC's new line of Eos / Ion control consoles
lighting/smartfade.txt -- Experiences planning for and using an ETC Smartfade console on a typical [?] convention show
lighting/sd50/ -- Review of the Chauvet Stage Designer 50, a small 48-channel conventional controller, with a helpful supplement to its operation manual

Other theatre tech

sound/clearcom.txt -- a rundown on Clearcom and similar type intercom electrical characteristics, with pointers to other related resources [was lighting/clearcom.txt]
sound/ics/ -- simple intercom-line splitter that creates a new audio channel on one output, using a common power supply for both channels
sound/btr200/ -- Fixing various problems on Telex BTR-200 wireless intercom gear, notably a non-reception problem fixed by a little creative metal bending
flipcoil/howto.html -- description of how to roll cables with no twist, using the flip-coil / over-under / roadie-wrap / fake-it / zero-wrap method [it has many names]
sound/badcable/ -- diagnostic on-the-ground proof of WHY we always want to coil our cables correctly and take good care of them
sound/ranefix/ -- fixing one dead channel on a six-channel Rane audio amplifier, on which the final transistors had shorted to ground through the heatsink pads
sound/srm450open.jpg -- Inside the main enclosure of a version-1 Mackie SRM450, with the loooooong screwdriver required to get down the very deep wells in the plastic housing to the fasteners. This one had a cracked woofer magnet
sound/commfix -- Extensive refurb of an entire Clear-Com style intercom kit, including new cables and a brief exploration of XLR connector quality
National Electrical Code [NFPA 70] 2001 ROP draft available in PDF format under NFPA70/, u-find-it

Car stuff -- hacks/mods, rants, pix, stories, etc ...

	Two electric motors and a gasoline engine, forever enmeshed in
	a whirling struggle for power, each seeking to gain the most while
	using the fewest precious resources -- their delicate dance
	constantly choreographed by a consortium of cold, calculating
	computers -- which in turn are mere slaves to a stream of arbitrary,
	capricious, and often downright stupid instructions from the loose
	nut behind the wheel.
     ... That's a Prius.

cars/prius-linkfarm.html -- Pointers to many resources about the Prius and other hybrids, many of them pointer-nests themselves. A thousand fascinating ratholes
cars/prius-flyer.gif-- A one-page flyer that simply points to here, for randomly handing out to people who seem interested
cars/prius-mods.txt -- Full list of modifications to this particular car, many of which are described in the pages below
cars/sweet/ -- Discourse on observing a "sweet spot" engine efficiency range, yielding improved MPG at mid and higher speed ranges with proper application. Take note of the 5-year update while reading, as it contains updated information
cars/HSI/ -- Toyota's implementation of the "sweet spot" display, along with several other important parameters, explained for best driving efficiency in the third-generation [2010 +] Prius. Somewhat theoretical so far, but will be refined as the community gains more experience with the car
cars/b-mode.html -- Lengthy explanation of what the "B" shift-select position is for, and some related quirks of the Prius hybrid system
cars/warpstealth.html -- Description of a subtle but zero-consumption high-speed "glide" mode that allows longer and more efficient coasting at speeds above 41 mph
cars/boost-hack/ -- Test-bench illustration of why regenerative braking can work at low motor RPM and still charge a high-voltage battery
cars/worktruck -- Small pictorial essay on handling large and/or heavy loads in a Prius, with particular attention to protecting the battery
cars/gps/ -- Making a relatively permanent mount for a GPS power cradle, using an easily-removable vent panel as the base
cars/nest/ -- Constructing a cozy sleeper-berth in the Prius, including a hack to run the ventilation system on very low power
cars/pwe/ -- An amusing hack to enable the power windows in a Prius without turning on the rest of the car. Also shows some details on safely removing the dashboard panels
cars/tpms/ -- A strange but functional tire-pressure warning system based on wheel speeds
cars/ect/ -- A circuit to read the raw output voltage from the engine coolant temperature thermistor, and convert it through a "linearizer" to a reasonably close mapping from degrees C to volts
cars/tachack/ -- How to install an aftermarket tachometer into a Prius, including notes on how tachometers work, how to test and calibrate them, and how to match the input circuitry to the car's signal levels if needed
cars/vvt/ -- Investigation of where variable valve timing comes into play in the Prius at highway speeds, including refutation of an earlier theory
cars/warmair/ -- Quick-n-dirty hack to redirect engine air intake from a warm air source rather than a cold one, with the intent of increased winter economy. Some test results posted within
cars/heatgames/ -- Second revision of the above warm-air intake, plus a detailed account of removing the cowl above the engine and installing a block-heater
cars/maint50k/ -- Changing the Prius HSD transaxle fluid, using the seekrit undocumented top fill plug accessed by shifting the inverter without having to drain, refill, and air-bleed its coolant. Other minor but useful preventive maintenance items discussed as well
cars/maint100k/ -- Prius maintenance checks and changes at 100,000 miles, including the inverter pump, coolants, tranny-fluid again, and a lot of testing and discussion on the remarkable longevity of modern parts and fluids
pix/prius-ferrups.jpg -- One method of tying in a UPS to the Prius 12V system. The 450VA Best Ferrups has 66 Ah at 12V inside, way more than the Prius battery itself. The right answer, however, is to stop messing around with this feeble, inefficient 12V nonsense and build a 10kW or more inverter that feeds directly off the HV battery. See also
cars/plugout/ -- A better solution for my own needs: a 3 KVA "plug-out" system, higher capacity 240/120 split-phase which needed several mods before being truly suitable
cars/naked/ -- The "Naked Prius" tech exhibit takes top honors at AltWheels 2005
cars/starthole/ -- How to fix a factory-assembly problem that can cause damage to the motor control harness, due to a starter blockoff-plate fitted backwards
cars/bp/ -- Friction-brake pressure monitor for the Prius, to show when fluid is sent to the wheel cylinders and causes kinetic energy to burn away as useless heat. Pix, circuit, discussion, etc.
In contrast to the never-past-vaporware Coastal product to display brake pressure, this is real and functional NOW
cars/prius-log/intro.html -- An attempted Prius diary / blog, which at this point will probably never be finished as such but serves to describe the runup to purchase and how the mods/hacking process began. See all the *other* Prius pages for what happened afterward...
cars/prius-rally-hints.txt -- A guide to high-mileage Prius driving technique, specifically aimed at participants in fuel-efficiency competitions
cars/mpg1105/ -- One way to document a rally course, geared toward MPG competitions. This one was actually held in May 2011, with Kimball Farm as the start and return point. This is oriented toward very clear direction so that drivers can concentrate on driving, as opposed to the occasional deliberate obscurity of traditional time/speed/distance rallies
cars/training/ -- Online Prius/hybrid technical training course material, including details on operation, safety, diagnosis, routine maintenance/repair, and a special section on 3-phase motor basics. Slides-format so far. An ongoing project
pix/quad-rings.jpg -- Some silly photochopped ideas for painting the plastic Prius trim-rings
cars/prius-curves.gif and cars/SAE-bsfc.gif -- A collection of power/efficiency curves. Kilowatt output can be mapped very nicely to RPM, so achieving high efficiency is as easy as watching a tachometer [which, unfortunately, you have to install yourself] and trying to stay at full torque output whenever the engine is running
pix/holyshit.jpg -- An early result from having better instrumentation in the Prius, and paying attention to state transitions, energy demands, efficiency curves, etc. With good weather and summer gas, I can reliably reproduce 70+ mpg on back roads -- not quite up to the level of the Pittsburgh paragons who achieved 110 mpg, but still well ABOVE the EPA numbers for this car
cars/storm.html -- Technical "voice of reason" piece on Toyota's recall woes around late 2009 / early 2010 concerning Prius brakes, unintended acceleration in some other cars, and a few additional overhyped issues
cars/brakerust.jpg -- Visual answer to the common "brakes grabbing" Prius complaint. The fix? Throw it in neutral to disable regen during a couple of stops; you'll clean 'em right off
cars/squirt/ -- A prototype injector monitor hacked together for the Prius, to see exactly WHEN we're consuming that precious fossil fuel
cars/nosquirt/ -- The opposite of "squirt": a simple mod to kill the fuel pump and let the engine conk out, which has certain beneficial uses and research implications
cars/imeter/ -- Installation of a prototype battery-current meter for the Prius, w/ pix, driver circuit, and discussion
cars/toyota-tis-sucks.txt -- A rant engendered by a rather horrendous "web experience" at Toyota's service-manuals subscription site
cars/ev.html -- Version 0.1 of the Prius EV-mode switch, hastily crocked in prior to its first real road trip [warning: largish pictures, very early webpage effort]
cars/Nomograph-plus-PSD.gif -- Rework of Graham Davies' original nomograph, showing the speed/torque relationships in the Prius planetary driveline and a simple schematic view of the system's construction
cars/meta1/ -- Thumbnails of my collected Prius/hybrid "slide show" as of 080418 [512 images in 8 meta-blocks, about 2.6Mb total]
cars/logos/ -- Exploring how to remove the Toyota logos from the front and rear of the Prius, and making the affected areas look halfway decent again. A brief adventure in automotive paint work
cars/dcty/bbt/ -- Follow-on to enhanced "safety bling" to gain greater day and night time conspicuity, as well as a certain "industrial hazard" aesthetic
cars/tires/ -- Having four new Michelin Green-X tires installed on the Prius, using a set of metal clamp-in valve stems for better robustness and reliability
cars/brk200/ -- Finally replacing the Prius factory-original front brake pads after close to 200,000 miles: clear benefits of regenerative energy recovery


cars/ginv/ -- In-depth mechanical and electrical analysis of the Prius inverter. Still in progress
cars/brkjob/ -- Discussion/pictorial of brake cleaning and service, with particular attention to the front caliper slide pins, and a section on how the rear drum self-adjusters work
cars/bodyecu/ -- Details on removing and disassembling the Prius "body ECU" and main connector/relay block from under the drivers-side dash
pix/prius-rheo.jpg -- Detail pic of the dash-lights "rheostat" in the Prius. It's actually a low-side PWM unit with a couple of other control leads
cars/prius-12V/ -- Details on the Prius 12 volt battery -- dimensions, type, the mounting area, voltage regulation, and quiescent drain
cars/dcty/ -- Simple removal of the "courtesy light" bulbs to avert 12V battery discharge from leaving a door ajar, with enhanced safety hints
cars/tb -- Pictorial rundown on the Prius electrically-actuated throttle body ...
  cars/tb/service/ -- and how to perform simple routine maintenance on it
cars/prilock -- Cleaning and maintenance of the Prius physical driver's door lock, to make it work better by removing the factory grease
cars/nest/ -- [Already listed above, but contains details on blower-fan controller]
cars/ipump -- Analysis of the Prius electric inverter-coolant pump, including why it tends to fail and need replacement around 100K-ish miles
pix/aw07/ -- Our Altwheels 2007 booth included a nice "exploded" layout of major Prius components and how they talk to each other. Includes the full text of functionality descriptions
cars/mfd/ -- Diagnosis of a subtle but common fault in certain Prius display screen units, detailing a fairly easy repair that can save $thousands$ for out-of-warranty '04 and some '05 owners
cars/coastEV.jpg -- What's inside the Coastal Electronics cruise-control based EV-mode widget
cars/batbox/ -- Examinations of a Prius battery at six and then twelve years old, to detect and head off any pending problem situations, and dance with its voltage. The battery cooling fan is also investigated, as is the backup brake power supply.  A minor cleanup and refurb happens at the 12-year mark
cars/wbear/ -- Story and autopsy of a failed front wheel bearing. It gave another thousand miles *after* becoming noisy and probably could have gone considerably farther before being replaced

Other car stuff

cars/mpghints.html -- Well-known but seldom followed guidelines for obtaining much higher fuel economy from most vehicles -- no gimmicks, just technique
cars/freefuel.gif and cars/freefuel.txt -- A dumbed-down version of the above covering just the very basics. Used as a handout at Altwheels 2006 and beyond, to encourage smarter driving
cars/tgguide.html -- Visual guide to quantifying tailgating distances/times on the roads and evaluating the degree of hazard
cars/aaaf_trend.html -- An open letter to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, taking it to task for failing to discern the ever-increasing self-righteous entitled attitude of American drivers everywhere. Despite its chosen DC beltway location, the Foundation remains rather ineffectual on the political and legislative fronts where clear thought and action are desperately needed
cars/noid/ -- Simple automotive testing widget to beep and light an LED when given power, and optionally load down the circuit at the same time. Like a noid light, but more versatile
cars/can-split.html -- Using a primitive network-splitter to isolate pieces of a CANbus and help reverse-engineer a little scantool data protocol, using a Scangauge as a half-ass packet sniffer
cars/valvestem/ -- Article on defective tire valve stems, that began cracking away near the base after only a year in service. Entirely due to outsourced crap materials
cars/sotu.html -- Hack-job proposed State of the Union Address segment, endorsing uniform enforcement of a three-seconds-minimum following distance to help save lives and sharply reduce automotive property damage
cars/muscle.html -- Vrooom! Random thoughts on the "sexiness" and animal appeal of traditional muscle-cars versus electric vehicles
cars/yb/ -- The "Yuppie Button": safety-enhanced rear lighting modifications to aid driver alertness, maintain proper vehicle spacing, and prevent collisions. Stand up to bullying!
cars/tundtran/ -- Solenoid control wiring problem on a Tundra pickup: quick diagnosis, gnarly repair
cars/hwiper/ -- Insides of a Honda rear-window wiper motor, and discussion
pix/mp/T_texting.jpg -- What can happen when you text on the move, or *anything* else that distracts attention away from the essential task at hand. PUT THAT DOWN AND DRIVE
cars/wshf -- Quick fix for a windshield crack caused by a flying rock, using one of the kits with a vacuum/pressure syringe and sealant glue. Must be done promptly to avoid further crack expansion
cars/subie.html -- SOLD! 2000 Subaru Legacy L wagon, 58K miles. Reference remains for historic value and mildly amusing pictures
cars/carhacks-TR-beta.txt -- Preliminary version of a "car hacking" article that Michelle Delio was working on for the MIT Technology Review, forwarded for editing/approval
cars/carhacks-TR-final.txt -- Final release version of MIT Technology Review "car hacking" article, which despite what was thought to be a final editing pass came out rather mangled away from the supposed original. Compare and contrast! [All the articles by Delio have since been pulled over the HP / Carly Fiorina imbroglio, and a stupid, busy-work "investigation" was launched]
cars/sub-hack-1.txt -- Design and motivation of a "throttle position sensor bias" control to smooth out off-the-peg engine response
cars/sub-leak-2.txt -- Sad-but-funny saga of getting the runaround at a local dealer over a simple radiator leak
cars/pooper-give.txt -- Plea to the local net/social community to let the Pooper enjoy a dignified retirement [which eventually did happen, yay]


subnets.txt -- One-page quickie chart of subnet bit boundaries and allocation strategy that allows sensible room for expansion, based on RFC1219
random/nc110.tgz -- Original "netcat" source distribution tarball from 1996, aka really old laurels and embedded mini-rants about the Berkeley sockets API
pix/charlie/ -- A close physical look inside the MBTA's Charlie Card
pix/whr/ -- Installation of a Rheem "Marathon" water heater, with supporting details on tank construction, minor plumbing triumphs and letdowns, and ways to take the pressure off
random/4d.html -- A classic mistake: trying to go production using immature beta products just because they're "new and cool", and landing in a support nightmare
random/nuvi.html -- A review of the Garmin "Nuvi" GPS family compared to older types, and why Garmin has fallen OFF my list of competent product builders
pix/nwp09/ -- Photo collections from inside some of the "Gilded Age" Victorian-era mansions in Newport RI
pix/mbfix/ -- Quick fix for the bad sharp-edged ergonomics of a unibody Macbook
power/dumbups/ -- Diagnosis and [redneck] repair of an APC SmartUPS, with thoughts on how the problem cause may have been a long-standing design fault -- which later turned out to be completely correct!
random/taho1.html -- Early-ownership review of a new mobile phone, slightly less dumb than what it replaces but not anywhere near the level of modern "smart" devices
hse/5686.html -- Gateway file to an extensive writeup on my house renovation that turned into a deep energy retrofit, with detailed pictures and text on construction, building science, HVAC, air-sealing, and some funny contractor moments. A book-length treatise in 27 parts -- days of reading.
Requires minor human intervention to find the actual pages themselves, or just web-search for "energy retrofit" and "hobbit"
power/badgfi/ -- Partial teardown of a Leviton GFCI outlet that went bad one night
pix/deadg9/ -- Autopsy of a Canon Powershot G9 that bricked itself, due to a known problem where two screws come loose and rattle around inside and eventually short out the main power supply
pix/mp/watermain/ -- Pictures and story of local water main work, adding a tee connection for a line into a new subdivision
pix/mp/roadwork/ -- Upgrade of a local street from dirt/gravel to paved, including massive new drainage infrastructure installed underneath. In six parts
pix/ice15/ -- Ice dams and related thermal fun from 2015's "wikkid cold" winter in New England with lots of snow, one stormy smackeroo after another
pix/glospin/ -- Adapting glowing LED poi balls to a flow-arts staff, for spinning with enhanced persistence-of-vision play, and taking it all up another technical level in Chapter 3 of the story
random/mybank-js.txt -- Detailed description of exactly how Fiserv screwed over various online bill-pay service subscribers when they cut over to a redesigned website. Stupid javascript coding errors on their part
bf/ -- Running chronicle on trying to bring executive leadership level awareness and acceptance of the barefoot lifestyle to organizations that do not yet understand
random/cyber_wall.txt -- Thoughts on how stringent limitation of cross-border internet connectivity could help provide significant mitigation of today's most common "cyber" problems
video/sneetches.mp4 -- Possibly the most heartbreaking commentary applicable to the political environment of 2016 [aka the "Trump thing"]

The geeky wallpaper page has been split out to a separate index. Most picture links are unchanged, and new ones periodically get added

Video stuff

video/umatic/ -- Resuscitation of an unusably dirty U-matic video deck
video/spg-422-eco.jpg -- Got a Tektronix SPG-class sync generator with a flakey power supply that won't reliably start up? Here's a fix for it [shown in red]

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Image disclaimer: Requests for "original" or non-watermarked material are denied by policy, no exceptions. Sorry.

Contact: I normally read mail at, should you wish to get in touch, but if that doesn't work
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and please do feel free to contact me about any of the material here!

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_H*   161119