Monday, July 31, 2006


Speakers for the B&O

Here's a picture of the speakers I built for the Beomaster 1900. We are still waiting to get it back from the shop because the repair shop is still waiting on parts from England.

This pic is from Palila

These buggers should really rock the joint.

Here's a pic I took.



Where the hell did my summer go?

Classes start on August 21st. I have 3 weeks of summer left!! I was going to do so much reading and get so much school stuff done. Crap!

At least the house looks nice.

But damn, I only have (let's see, 21 days, 24 hours per day, carry the 2 ...) 504 hours of potential reading time between now and the first day of class. I'm screwed.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Slow as shit but fast as hell

Bell South finally came out to test the phone line for DSL. Looks like they finally have our neighborhood finished. But, even though the line was ready for DSL, they still had not sent the modem or install junk. I called, and they said it would be delivered UPS today. Sure enough, within about 15min the UPS guy showed up. Now we're back to highspeed. You don't realize how slow dialup really is until you have to go back to it for over 2 weeks.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Crank Me Up Before You Go Go

Long story short, Palila now has her dad's old Bang & Olufsen Beomaster 1900.

This was/is a stellar piece of audio equipment from the late 1970's. We've had it to the repair shop having it gone over (the output stages refused to work for me), and we should get it back here in the next couple of weeks.

In the mean time, I've been building speakers for the beast. I wish I would have taken pictures of the construction process, but have just been too busy trying to get it done. Maybe Palila will post some pictures of them on her blog someday.

So why did I make speakers rather than buy them? Well, the B&O system is designed to provide an output to 4Ω speakers and most speaker today for the home are of an 8Ω design. Yeah, you can hook up a set of 8Ω speakers without an issue (not true in the reverse direction - aka hooking 4Ω speakers to an amp designed to drive 8Ω speakers - due to the potential of overheating the amp), but you get more performance out of the amp by actually matching the driver and the load.

I purchased a set of Polk component speakers for a car (because car speakers are typically 4Ω) and built boxes. I bought the Polk speakers because they were around the price I wanted to pay and had the electrical characteristics I wanted. I had to call Polk to get some of the specific mechanical characteristics of the speaker and then use an online program to crunch the numbers for the box size and port length. I just followed some simple design guidelines (like thickness and type of material, and dimensional ratios) and let the program figure out the rest.

It took quite some time to build the boxes. But, I followed the years of experience I have from building stuff for cars, and the speakers turned out great. I had to get stuff to build them from all over. The MDF, screws, screw back things, and sheet rock screws came from Lowes. The terminals came from Radio Shack. The filler material and ports came from Cruthfield. The Bondo and fine grit sand paper came from AutoZone. The stoppers I used for feet, rough sand paper, electric sander, and spray paint came from Home Depot. I also made quite a mess in the basement utility room doing all of the sanding and painting (it was too hot to work outside).

Once I had them built I tested them using my old Sony Dolby Pro Logic home receiver. Yeah, this is one of those amps I mentioned earlier that isn't supposed to connected to 4Ω speakers, but I was careful to watch the temperature of the amp (and it got freaking hot because I was cranking it like crazy). These little speakers sound pretty damn good! I was really surprised. The boxes seem way too big for the speaker, but then again I bought a high quality speaker with really good mechanical characteristics (aka. they have the ability to move quite a bit of air in a very controlled manner). They really kick and even with low bass they don't over travel and distort. I am still surprised. But, like I said, I followed all of the rules (there is no dimension that is 2X greater than any other dimension, the MDF is thick and everything is wood glued and screwed together, the port isn't oversized, and I used filler material). This just goes to show that those one-size-fits-all speaker boxes that you can buy for your car, or simply installing speakers in a door with no concept of what the air mass in the door is doing, is really less than optimal.

Saturday, July 22, 2006



It will be really nice when we can just live in this house.

We still don't have DSL. Now they are saying the 26th of July. Hopefully we will have DSL sometime in August, 2007.

We got all of our stuff moved into the house. Much of it still isn't unpacked. There are just too many projects to do and I've had to work on some school stuff that takes up quite a bit of time (of course, I'd punted on my school work for about a month and a half so I had to guess it would come back double). I've also been building a set of speaker cabinets that has taken far longer than I thought it would. Plus, too much paint fumes in the house make me dizzy.

Palila did buy a new bed that finally arrived on Friday. At least we are sleeping better now.

Well, back to the speakers and school work.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Ummm ... could I get some service here please?

We have only had one service turned on in this new house that didn't require an extra phone call (or several extra phone calls) to get working properly. And that one service is the gas, which is sold as a commodity in Georgia, from Gas South.

Everyone else can suck a dick!

We closed on the June 19th. The water was shut off on the 20th. After many phone calls, getting hung up many times, and finally J just going down to the meter and cranking the valve with a set of vice-grips, we finally got water back. I took a trip down to Dekalb County Water & Sewer to have a little talk with them (they can't hang up on you when you are in their face) and, while they were very apologetic, refused to reduce or remove the setup fee. I might just have to write an editorial to the Dekalb Neighbor.

We were supposed to have phone on the 9th of July (yeah, a Sunday ... I thought it was odd too). July 10th, no phone. I finally called. They said the phone signal was fine. I decided the problem was with Alex's old "property of Bell South" phone. After a trip to North Dekalb Mall I discovered the Radio Shack is no longer business there. I then go to Home Depot and Lowes only to find that Home Depot only sometimes has cheap corded phones and Lowes never has phones at all. Finally, I give up, and I run to Wal Mart to buy the $6 GE Slimline phone. I go back to the house after wasting a couple of hours and the new phone doesn't work either. I call Bell South back, they send a tech the next day. The tech does a great job and after a few hours of quality time with the tech in the crawl space of the house I have a working phone.

In the mean time, the guys from DirecTV come out, step out of the truck, talk some south-Atlanta jive, tell me I can't get service, and drive off. After MANY calls to the local installer and DirecTV's main line, I get the installer's supervisor out the very next day, which was even his day off. Not only did I have a direct line of sight (what the initial tech said I didn't have) but I actually have several. We now have DirecTV with 150 regular channels, some HD channels, and 50 XM music channels. Needless to say, the install supervisor was not happy with his crew, and would have made them come out to do the install ... but, I already had their crew number and had requested they never come on my property again.

We also signed up with Bell South for DSL (we signed up for phone, DSL, and DirecTV though Bell South all at the same time for a reasonable discount). The DSL stuff was supposed to be here on the 11th. I called today, the 13th, to find out why our DSL stuff has not arrived. The guy tells me that DSL in our area is new and actually won't be turned on until the 17th. Someone actually lied to me -- probably due to a system of bad information -- at Bell South about when we'd have DSL. The 11th and the 17th are actually a little different from each other. I don't think we'll actually have DSL on the 17th, but when I don't I'll be all over their ass.

And now, the kicker. We did not have any problem at all with Georgia Power. In fact, Georgia Power, as you are about to read, did a great job. The electrician, however, that our contractor used left much to be desired. Now, I could go into the details on why we had a contractor here in the first place, but, in short, it has to do with Georgia law and how they work out things when there are problems on an inspection when the house is sold. My first problem with the electrician was that he miss-quoted and instead of getting an upgrade to 200A service from 125A, we only got 150A (which is actually fine for us). But they called while I was in Indy to tell me they needed to put a hole in my wall and a hole in the main beam of house. My first response, my second response, and my third response to their request was "no." After several minutes on the phone and a discussion on how things were stapled to the studs in the house, I finally gave into their request (we had one aluminum wire in the house that needed removed and replaced with copper). After thinking about it, and talking with Alex about some other issues, I realized the electrician could not have possibly done some of the work that was required of him. Once I got back to the ATL, I pulled the cover off the panel to discover that my suspicions were correct. I then called Georgia Power to confirm he had never had the power turned off to the house or filed for any of the required permits to do the work he did. I then called the main contractor and told him we had a water leak (we had a small drip off of a valve) to get him out here the same day (the state of Georgia is soooo messed up. Electrical problem, ah, don't worry about it -- if it was too bad your house would have burned down by now -- but a water leak, hold the phones, that's a real problem). He came out, fixed the valve, then I started in on the 20 questions about his electrician. After I could conclude that the contractor and electrician were not in cahoots, I gave the main contractor the low down on what the electrician had done. Needless to say, the original electrician will not ever be back this property without risking the chance of gun shot wounds. The new electrician has had to return more than once to fix problems what the original guy did wrong.

The original electrician was just and idiot. First, I am an electrical engineer. Granted, electrical engineers and electricians are very different, but an electrical engineer that doesn't have his/her head up his/her ass (too few of us really) can see a bad wiring job from Indy to Decatur. Second, even if I wasn't an electrical engineer, I'd obviously already ran cable, speaker wire, and phone wire through the attic, and half a run of 120v through the crawl space myself before he ever even came out here the first time. And the 1/2 run of 120v I'd done I still had to complete. In completing my 1/2 run I found even more of his shoddy work. I mean, come on ... I had to finish the run, I was obviously going to see the wiring hanging down, against code, into my crawl space. I really want to turn this guy into his local union but the main contractor is against it. Instead, he will 1) put out a bad word, 2) never use him again, and 3) dock the electrician's pay for every thing the new electrician has had to come and fix.

If the movers actually come and move our stuff like they are supposed to on Friday I think it will be a miracle.

I don't want to make all of this (or myself) sound too negative. The tech from Bell South and the supervisor from DirecTV both got "thank you" calls from me to their corporate offices. Now, to do this actually takes quite a bit of time. There is no option for "press 10" if you wish to report good service. I had to wade through and wait on the phone for quite a while to put in a good word for these guys. But I'm glad I did. As quick as I am to climb up someone's ass if they do a bad job, I also want to complement those out there doing good. The new electrician also got good marks from me, is now the go-to guy for our main contractor, and is on ReMax's list of electricians due to some of my remarks.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Can't Stop

Palila and I have been working on the house just about non-stop: there's so much left to be done.

The yard needs mowed. The stick in the back yard need picked up. The fence needs finished off. The temporary fence on the east side of the house needs to be made into a more permanent structure. The 3 isolated ground outlets still need wired. Paint all doors. Paint the dining room. Paint the hall. Paint all trim. Paint all doors. Rip down the wood panel and chair rail in the kitchen. Paint the kitchen. Drink more beer. Clean all of the floors. Pack everything. Move. Unpack everything. Cut and stain 1/4 round. Stain the top step. Fix the leak from the hot water in the upstairs shower. And the list goes on ...

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