CEPro / AVAD – Show us your toolbox

CEPro announced the “Show Us Your ToolBox” contest at http://www.cepro.com/article/show_us_your_toolbox_call_for_entries/ a recent post that i was mentioned in.

I had some free time today so i emptied out my VetoProPac XL and this is what i found.

39 Cent Stamp's VetoProPac XL


Comcast Installation – Update

I finally made it back out to my twin sisters place to clean up the mess that Comcast left. I had her return the old cable box to Comcast and get one with an HDMI port so that we could use the HDMI cable she paid for and already had installed. I used her fancy milk crate cabinet :) temporarily until she gets a piece of furniture for that area. The slots in the crate were kind of nice for routing cables. If it were my place it would probably stay that way forever :).

I put in a surge protector, shortened the lengths of the COAX and CAT5 cables and moved the surge protector, modem and wifi router under the crate to contain them until she gets a new cabint. Cable box sits on top of the crate and i stashed the Wii behind the TV. The options were to use a wireless sensor bar and put it with the Cable box or stash it behind the TV. I decided to stash it behind the TV to keep them from having to replace batteries in the Wii. It’s easy to get to and off the mantle so my sister is happy.

It took me about 20 minutes to terminate cables and zip tie them into neat bundles and wire everything back up. Then i spent 10 minutes checking all the rooms in her house so that i could reinstall wall plates that the cable guy removed but didn’t reinstall and i had to carry around a trash bag to pick up all the cut pieces of cable and connectors. If that tech worked for me i would have fired him the next day. Total slob and ridiculously unprofessional. Enough stating of the obvious… check out the after pics below.


5 minute service call that took 4 hours

DirecTV was out at one of my clients houses and replaced a satellite receiver. I went out today to find out why its not being controlled. Its usually a broken or unattached emitter but sometimes its a nightmare where they totally hacked up the system. Today i found everything in place and the undamaged emitter laying next to the new receiver.

I pulled out the hot glue gun and attached the emitter to the new DirecTV HR24 receiver. When i tested the commands i found that the channel up and channel down buttons on the touch panel would make the box continue to channel up or down forever. Same issue with the navigation arrows. I have no idea why DirecTV would alter the codes on the remote for the HR24. Maybe someone there knows how it drives us crazy and they do it for spite or fun?

I had to break out my pronto TS-1000 to learn the commands from the new DirecTV remote and then convert the CCF data for Crestron DEAL. Then i replaced the driver in SystemBuilder. For some reason… SystemBuilder decided that today would be a good day to crash when i try to upload… every single time. I tried a few times and finally gave up and opted to load the processor via toolbox.

At some point all the new DirecTV commands were testing ok and i discovered that the TV was no longer being controlled. I checked the serial cable and then tried moving the TV to a different com port. Then i tried a different module from the crestron data base. I had been using a generic serial driver with string command for the fujitsu plasma. Eventually i discovered that if i move the TV commands (power/input selection) outside of the global preset macros they worked. Inside of those global preset commands they were ignored. Weird.. especially since these commands in these macros have been working for a long time. Its a fujitsu so that helps date the system.

While there, the client asks “when do you need to get into the bedroom?” “Why do i need to get in there?” i asked. “To integrate the system”. Rather than try and figure out what that meant i went up stairs to see what was going on. The master bedroom has an MX-700 in it with a TV/Receiver/DVD/DirecTV receiver. This system was installed a while back also. I found that they finally replaced the old sony CRT with a sony LCD. All i had to do was swap TV models in URC MX-700 editor and the bedroom was done. Good thing i had the loading cable with me!

Last bit of fun was when i asked about the guest house. “Sure, go ahead and check it for is, someone is moving in next week”. I found the DirecTV receiver to be totally “wont power up” dead. I found that the DVD player locks up at start up. So basically the guest house is offline. Good thing i checked.


Comcast Installation – Why i am not afraid of them entering into the “smart home” space

I just got back from an extended trip out of town at a project. My sister moved while i was gone and called up the geek squad to install her plasma. They mounted the TV and used bulk cable plates to route an HDMI cable to the right of the cabinet for connection at the soon-to-arrive Comcast Cable box. The Geek’s did a very nice job and actually helped my sister carry up a childs bed frame while they were there because the UPS guy wouldn’t carry it up!

All the comcast guy had to do was plug his cable box in and connect the HDMI cable… right? Wrong. They brought out a very old model with a DVI port instead of HDMI. So Comcast guy just needs to go get a newer model that has HDMI right? Wrong again. No HDMI port? No ability to remove a bulk cable plate and fish component cables? I KNOW! We will just run an RG6 directly from the cable box to the TV and call it a day! Who cares if they are paying for HD? Surely not the sub contractor that Comcast sent to my sisters house. You know.. the guy that removed the wall plates in all the bedrooms and left them off when he left. The guy that left debris under each wall plate. See the photos below. Clean up pics coming later this week when i go back out. I stopped there on my way from the airport this evening and didnt have any cable with me. This is why we have nothing to worry about from the providers. They will be stuck in iPad app land fighting with sloppy untrained subcontractors for a decade before we need to pay attention to them.


Chicago Marathon 2011 – Support Childrens Memorial Marathon Team

My friend Jessica is participating in the Marathon this year and she has set a very modest goal of $950. Please help support her and Childrens Memorial Hostpital with a donation @ http://www.heroesforlife.org/site/TR/MarathonTeam/MarathonTeam?px=1498788&pg=personal&fr_id=1260

Contact me about 50% off on http://www.guijaboard.com products. All proceeds will be donated to help achieve Jessica’s goal.


How To Install Heavy Gear When You Are Alone

A guy i worked with named Steve taught me this trick. I had to use it today to uninstall a pair of Monster power units… so i decided to write about it.

Ever find yourself at the wrong end of an amp… trying to struggle to get it in place so you can mount it? I have and it sucks. Not only does it suck… it isn’t good for your arms, shoulders back etc. The weight isn’t the issue, it’s the twisting and leveraging. To solve this all you need is a spare 2U rack shelf. Has to be at least 2U or it usually wont be deep enough. Just install it upside down @ the rack space under the heavy piece of equipment you want to install. Now you have a nice shelf to put the component on while you run your screws in. You will need to remove the feet from the component or make sure to drop the 2U low enough so that the feet can stay on.

It took me about 4 minutes to remove 2 of these units and that includes installing/uninstalling the 2U shelf and putting the ladder away.


Get rid of the IR bug! Embed your emitters!

Client got a new Blu-ray player today and i decided to snap pics while embedding an emitter inside of it. I have two very good reasons for embedding emitters.

#1. An embedded emitter can’t be knocked off by the clients or their maintenance staff. No more “its not working” phone calls that lead to you wasting half a day driving out to find that the emitter is knocked off or worse.. broken off.

#2. Using the Xantech 283DPRO i can install the emitter on every component before i put them in the rack. Then i have a nice detachable jack for the emitter. Later on when it’s time to service or replace the unit i can totally disconnect the component and easily pull it out of the rack without having to cut zip ties all the way back to the processor to save the emitter.

Another good reason is aesthetics. While it might not make a difference in terms of installation i think it sets us apart from the “other guy”.

Slide show below………….


Skype is infected with a virus! – easybitsgo.exe

Today i see a popup in my task bar asking about some app and skype and i accidentally click the program next to skype and easybitsgo.exe starts to launch. WTF! I have a VIRUS!

Or so i thought anyway. I immediately hit google and find this Skype Forum Thread where everyone else is wondering what the hell is going on. Someone in the thread gave me instructions to disable this from happening again.

What I did was on skype, go under tools-options-advanced and uncheck “automatically stop extras” also click on the “manage other connections to skype” link on the bottom and remove Easybitsgames. I removed the program and it hasn’t shown up since.

So whos bright idea was this? Lets take a product that people like and do some sneaky bullshit that will make them think they have a virus and once they figure out whats going on they will become angry and post about it on forums and their blog. Nice move morons. So now what? We have to play this disable game every few weeks like Facebook?

Time to look for alternatives for making calls over the internet i guess. I really don’t understand why they would do this unless MS is intentionally trying to spend all their money on worthless products.

I just tried to respond to the skype forum and it posted under someone elses screen name. WTF is going on over there?


1969 Mark III Project – Custom Emblem Showed Up

My Flying Spaghetti Monster Emblem showed up today. Cant wait to attach it once the car is painted.

Flying Spaghetti Monster

Flying Spaghetti Monster


1969 Mark III Project – Work begins today!

I dropped the car off today so that work could begin. I am pretty excited about getting it back even though i just dropped it off :).

Over the weekend i spent a couple of hours peeling out the old trunk liner. Something green was spilled in there and caused most of the liner to rot and it smelled horrible. There were a couple of layers before hitting bare metal but when i did… No Rust! I also taped off and painted the inside of the popup lights. It looked pretty rough inside there. A dirty off white. I sanded/cleaned/primed/painted it a flat black. Looks 100X better. I was tempted to keep going and paint the whole car but i checked myself and decided to let a pro handle it :).

Latest pic (looks pretty much like the first one)

1969 Lincoln Mark III