My wife asked why I carry a gun around the house? I looked her dead in the eye and said, “Decepticons”. She laughed, I laughed, the toaster laughed, I shot the toaster, it was a good time.

Or in this case, the dishwasher. It was doing strange things so I took out the controller PCB to look for dry joints, etc…

What’s that at the top left? Looks like a PCB antenna?

It’s a CC2500 2.4 GHz transceiver.

OK, so some smeg products (this is a smeg LVS65W8A for the record) do have built-in transceivers. And there’s an app (terrible, terrible app BTW) to let you control them — but it’s limited to ovens and wine coolers and this is neither.

Maybe they use one controller for all their appliances, to reduce their inventory. But I’m not sure the reduced inventory cost would balance the increased BoM cost.

Or maybe my dishwasher is spying on me.


New Year’s Resolutions, work in progress

One Rand-Lover, filled to the brim with builder’s rubble. This is from back when we re-did Tamsyn’s bathroom. Which I didn’t blog about — my bad.

Anyway. I’ll just comment that the ride’s a lot softer with some weight in the back. Slower, but softer.

Kitchen counter revisited

Back in 2008 we knocked out the wall between the kitchen and the living area. The idea has always been to put a counter surface on there, it’s just that I wasn’t quite sure how to do it so… I didn’t.

Until a few weeks ago, when Tanya mentioned that with Jessica’s 18th birthday (cocktail) party coming up, it would be nice to have a counter…

So I got my arse in gear.

Started with a couple of templates, ordered MDF mostly-cut-to-size and with the appropriate edges rounded. Not that they got it right, but it was close enough.

Then I carefully marked the boards and routed them to size against a straight edge and… it didn’t work out right. No idea why. Out by about two mm on the outside edge. FSCK.

So I routed it back further and glued in a false piece and repeated the operation, but starting about 5mm oversize and coming in via router and then belt sander, half a mm at a time.

That’s probably as good as it gets.

Covered the two pieces in wrapping paper for the party (I didn’t want stains on the wood before I seal it, and staining and sealing will be a slow process since I need to try to match the postform kitchen counter colour).

And that’s what it looks like at the moment.

I’ll tie the two pieces together with dowels or biscuits, maybe a screw underneath to hold things together. The polyurethane wood glue dries to almost the right colour so that should be OK… I hope.

New tails

Two much anticipated additions to the household. Currently known as “the black one” and “the shy one”.

Proposed names have been Pip and Squeek (but that would probably need to change to Heffa and Lump if they’re anything like the other male cat in the house), Westley and Vizzini, Scylla and Charybdis — but these ones definitely don’t come when you call them so what’s the use.

I haz a sad.

I miss my* crazy cat.

But he just got impossible to live with.

I won’t miss his peeing on everything or his crazy noises at all times.

But my lap is empty and cold.

* Tanya rescued him. It should have been her cat. But in the end we both got banished to the garage, so he became “my” cat. OK, he also sat on my lap and hardly ever tried to chew my face off, we had an understanding like that.


This is the 6871W1S113E control board from our LG MG-604W microwave. The transformer primary went open circuit when the supply hit 300V or thereabouts. I know that these things often incorporate some kind of protection circuitry, so I desoldered the transformer.

Sure enough, it’s a 1A 130C fuse.

Fixed (yea, this solution doesn’t have thermal protection. I can live with it).

Of course, now that I know the layout I know that one can add a fuse or a jumper to the PCB without having to desolder the transformer. Again, you’ll lose thermal protection.

The transformer primary is between the left and middle pins, and the fuse runs from the righthand pin to the lefthand pin.

I was not so lucky with the Sakyno SK-1000 clock radio. In this case the transformer primary was the protection device, and the magic smoke leaked out.

The Philips AJ3121 clock radio transformer has a fuse as well, the wire leading down on the right hand side goes over to the other side, where there’s a square  125C thermal fuse wrapped up against the winding.

It’s at the left hand side under the red tape under the plastic.

Unfortunately I stuffed it up, I jiggled the wire too much and the primary winding, which is cat-hair-thin, broke off from the fuse lead. I tried resoldering it but it’s just too finicky.

So we bought two new clock radios. But at least the microwave works.

3 Phase weirdness

So on Friday the 13th we get home to some strange effects. Turning just about anything on makes some of the lights go brighter. The fridge affects the garage lights. The geyser affects the kitchen lights…

Having a working knowledge of 3 phase power, I realise that the neutral wire has come adrift*. Check the box, all looks good. Check the outside box, nope, neutral is floating out there too.

So I unplug everything I can, phone City of Capetown, they’ll send a team. All good. We go out Friday night. We go out Saturday morning. Get back, no change.

I get on the roof, check the wire where it comes into the house. No, problem is definitely on the pole. Phone council again.

Well, they eventually pitched at around 1900 Saturday. And after some stuffing around, found the problem (where, according to them, a previous team had taped over a potential problem which then a few years later hecause a real problem).

These teams are amazing. They still had four jobs lined up tonight, fellow says they get to the depot at 2200 and home at 2300, then are back on the job at 0600. But I’m glad to say he says the pay is good.

Casualties: pretty much the little things that are permanently connected but draws little power — the microwave, two clock radios,  computer speakers, the wall wart for the telephone…

* When neutral is not connected to the transformer, a load on one phase pulls neutral towards the line voltage, and in doing so pulls neutral away from the other two phases. The loaded phase falls to say 120V while the other phases go up to 300V or so (relative to neutral).

Shelving sort of done, for now

As mentioned previously, I finally got around to completing firstly the door and then the TV part of the shelving.

Well, the third shelf also materialised, with a lot of fighting and cursing.

Update: and after populating with a small selection of our books: