It was either wrestling with tires -- a mess largely resolved by mid-afternoon yesterday, I'm pleased to say, and I drove the Hot Needle of Inquiry home yesterday evening -- or working on an especially awkward rack of vehicularly-mounted RF equipment, but something has done my back no good at all.
How awkward? Lay on your belly. Do so on a porch or landing such that your calves are hanging in the air. Okay, now rear up so you can reach over a 7" barrier, and reach into and see into a vertical opening 5.25" high by 18" wide by just about two feet deep. On the far back wall of this space, there is a device with a couple of fine-thread F connectors at top and bottom, parallel to the wall and right up against it. Okay, here's a 12 mm wrench;* disconnect 'em and barrel them together. There's a 4-degree-F breeze blowing up your coat, the cables are dressed so tight they can't flex back as you loosen the connectors and the uplink vehicle has been out of service for a week and a half. No pressure!
By the end of the day, after that and related gymnastics only slightly less awkward, along with giving a high-precision TCXO time to actually stabilize (far longer than you might expect), the thing was, at least, working. Lacking the widget I bypassed, it is slightly less convenient to operate (you have to set up the same frequency on two different inputs of the monitoring receiver, one for uplink-monitor out and another for the actual return from the satellite) and this is being put forward as a Major Failing, never you mind that it's $250 L-band RF switch not actually required to make the million-dollar truck do its job.
Come to think of it, the pain in my back is about half sore or strained muscles and half sheer annoyance at being expected to excrete a specific component or make Radio Shack start carrying it in a blister pack for $1.298. Umm, make that three-quarters real, one-quarter mental. No, seven-eighths real.
Aw, to heck with it. I'm gonna go soak in the tub. There's a mandatory staff meeting today, probably to tell us how wonderful we all are except for not being wish-granting rainbow unicorns and then announce pay cuts. I can't hardly wait.
* Every male F connector in the universe is 7/16" across the flats. All of them. Always. ...Except for the (very high-quality) ones made by Canare. This works fine if you were expecting it, rather than finding it out after you have got yourself into a position only a contortionist could love and have dropped your very own personal 7/16" wrench into a space you cannot see into and are fishing around for it blindly, hoping the people who built the truck were considerate enough to not put any exposed 120 VAC or high-current 12 VDC back there where you're groping. Since I am neither dead not burned, you may assume either they were or I was lucky.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
7 months ago