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Silverline Polisher Fail

Commutator
Commutator

Since I seem to be the local go-to for any dead electrical equipment, this brand-new Silverline polisher has landed on my desk. Purchased cheap from an auction this was dead on arrival. Checking the fuse revealed nothing suspect, so a quick teardown to find the fault was required.
Above is a photo of the commutator with the brush holder removed, and the source of the issue. The connection onto the field winding of the universal motor has been left unsecured, as a result it’s managed to move into contact with the commutator.
This has done a pretty good job of chewing it’s way through the wire entirely. There is some minor damage to the commutator segments, but it’s still smooth, and shouldn’t damage the brushes.

Chewed Wire
Chewed Wire

A quick pull on what’s left of the wire reveals the extent of the problem. It’s entirely burned through! Unfortunately the stator assembly with the field windings is pressed into the plastic housing, so it’s not removable. An in-place solder joint was required to the very short remains of the wire inside the housing. Once this was done the polisher sprang to life immediately, with no other damage.
This unit probably ended up at an auction as a factory reject, or a customer return to a retail outlet. If the latter, I would seriously question the quality control procedures of Silverline tools. 😉

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Blog Housekeeping & More Of The Same

Since I’ve been working on the backend servers a lot over the past few days, I’ve decided it was time to get some broken things on the blog fixed.

Firstly, the radiation monitor graphs. Originally I was using a Raspberry Pi to grab the data from the local monitor, and that was connecting via FTP to the server over in the datacentre to push it’s graph images. Since the server is now on the same local network as the monitor, there’s no need to faff about with FTP servers, so I’ve rejigged things with some perl scripts from cristianst85 over on GitHub, running on the web server itself.
I deviated from the suggested place to put the scripts on the server & opted to store everything within the Experimental Engineering hosting space, so it gets backed up at the same time as everything else on a nightly basis.

This is also accessible from the menu at top left, the script pulls data from the monitor & updates the images every 60 seconds via a cron job.

I’ve removed a couple of dead pages from the blog system, along with some backend tidying of the filesystem. Over the years things have gotten quite messy behind the scenes. This blog is actually getting quite large on disk, I’ve hit the 15GB mark, not including the database!

Caching is enabled for all posts on the blog now, this should help speed things up for repeat visitors, but as most of my content is (large) image based, this might be of limited help. I’m currently tuning the MySQL server for the load conditions, but this takes time, as every time I change some configuration settings I have to watch how things go for a few days, before tweaking some more.

Server Control Panels – More Of The Same

Sorry Sentora. I tried, and failed to convert over to using it as my new server control panel. Unfortunately it just doesn’t give me the same level of control over my systems, so I’ll be sticking with Virtualmin for the foreseeable future. Sentora stores everything in, (to me at least), very odd places under /var/ and gave me some odd results with “www.” versions of websites – some www. hosts would work fine, others wouldn’t at all & just redirect to the Sentora login interface instead. This wasn’t consistient between hosting accounts either, and since I didn’t have much time to get the migration underway, this problem was the main nail in the coffin.

Just storing everything under the sun in /var/ makes life a bit more awkward with the base CentOS install, as it allocates very little space to / by default, (no separate /var partition in default CentOS), giving most of the disk space to /home. Virtualmin on the other hand, stores website public files & Maildirs under /home, saving /var for MySQL databases & misc stuff.

The backup system provided is also utterly useless, there’s no restore function at all, and just piles everything in the account into a single archive. By comparison, Virtualmin has a very comprehensive backup system built in, that supports total automation of the process, along with full automatic restore functionality for when it’s needed.

Sentora did have some good points though:
It handled E-Mail logins & mail filters much more gracefully than Virtualmin does, and comes with Roundcube already built into the interface ready to use. With Virtualmin the options are to use the Usermin side of the system for E-Mail, which I find utterly awful to use, or install a webmail client under one of the hosted domains (my personal choice).
Mail filtering is taken care of with Sieve under Sentora, while Procmail does the job under Virtualmin.

Sentora does have a nicer, simpler, more friendly interface, but it hides most of the low-level system stuff away, while under Virtualmin *everything* on the system is accessible, and it provides control interfaces for all the common server daemons.

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IC Decap – TA7291 H-Bridge DC Motor Driver

Here’s a jellybean chip – a DC motor driver. This device has all the logic to drive a small motor, such as that used to drive the tray of a CD drive in both directions. The control logic is at the bottom of the die, while the main power transistors are at the top, in H-Bridge formation.

TA7291 Die
TA7291 Die