Thursday, January 24, 2008

And Sometimes The Trouble Chews Off Your Back Pockets

It's never easy -- if it was, everybody would be out here explorin' the Universe in a huge JBFL[1] starship, right? -- but today is well past "ridiculous."

Started just as planned and we even bypassed the Seriously Big Voltage Regulator with no actual pantswetting.

Did the warming-up thing, staged so that the three RF Cabinets would not all come up at once. Left the recently-repaired one for last 'cos, well, just 'cos it puts us back underway with the "sure thing" coming online first.

At last it's time, BEAM ON. Step one, Thunk...tic-tic-tick...Snap! Step two complete and we' --Holy howlin' heck! Lookit the output meter wiggle! Plus and minus five percent? Erratic? Hey! They're not supposed to do that! STANDBY. H'mm. Not back to normal temp? Try again... Same result. And once more for luck, a longer run, watching as the variation becomes ever more erratic, noting a few other readings, like the grid drive, doing the same thing. H'mm. The driver amp?

Nope, an half-hour later, it's one of the two high-current DC supplies that run the driver amp; and an hour after that, it's for sure that supply and not the primary power or control logic.

Which means, in layman's terms, "The thing is not fixed yet." Turns out they don't make that kind any more, either; there's a whole little kit to install, with two new DC supplies, which can be ours for a price that would buy an okay used car.

So we move onto another item to repair on the stardrive, opening up the box marked "RF processor, QTY 1," and find instead a C and Ku-band digital receiver. Que? Ansible. Factory: "We sent you a what? Oh, so you're the ones who got that. And you need a...? Okay, heh heh heh, sorreee, we'll courier that out to you overnight."

Okay, fine, plenty more to do, the dual redundant system that connects the Control Room to the Drive compartment has been unhappy and there's a spare to install for that, too... One that turns out to be a slightly different model that -- after another call to a different factory -- needs a few extra parts to actually do the things we need it to do. Apologies. Promises of rapid delivery.

And so on, for an entire day. Oh, the glamor just never ever runs out, does it?
1. Just Barely Faster Than Light. Which, as it turns out, is plenty fast enough. Sure, it violates causality, but it does so like Daylight Savings Time, by making causality a tiny bit more inflexible everywhere else. And there's a minimum power level required, not proportional to mass until a certain, middlin' large amount of mass is reached. --This is utter fiction, of course, but I'm thinking seriously of adding another blog for this sort of thing, called "I Work Aboard A Starship." It's about 10 miles long and three wide at the widest point, with the stardrives way out in front at the end of the long boom and the control room (and most of the rest of the ship) at the far end.


Anonymous said...

Hey, wait a minute! That thing doesn't have the name "Lucas" on it anywhere, does it?

Roberta X said...

I'm starting to wonder that myself!

Tam said...

I'd pat you on your poor frazzled head, but I'm afraid to get my fingers between it and the wall you're pounding it against. ;)

Anonymous said...

Einstein never said you can't travel faster than light, he only said you can't travel AT the speed of light. How one gets around that conundrum is a matter of personal taste. Me, I prefer to start out much faster than light, then slow down. YMMV.
Good luck today, and for heaven's sake, look out for the Evil Doctor Volta, and his sidekick RF-Boy.

Carteach said...

Speaking from the pits....
Yup. Some days it's nothing but that big spot on the wall marked "Hit head here".

Then, one day... it all falls into place. The kerflunkle fits winklefleister valve, and the skitter switch actually switches all six twinklers into drive at the same time.

Then.... it feels good to be alive.
We are indestructable!

The next day it all begins again, with heavily conipted twerkle bearings, but we had that day... that special day.

Tam said...

Yeah, when you solve the Insurmountable Problem, there's that wonderful moment of joy when you get to do the "Go Team Me!" Dance. :D

Dr. StrangeGun said...

If it were me... and it's not, I'll say that... I'd finish the job by wiring a delicate little bell into the READY light (or whatever comes on after the most foreboding EM sounds...)