Category Archives: Weird

Sprinkler Update

So I got two free timers from Orbit after I called them.

I hooked up one of the new ones, and it still doesn’t work. There is supposed to be 24VAC at the terminal when it’s running, and the voltage is zero. Just to be sure, I checked the resistance on a couple of the solenoids, and it’s about 70 ohms (the reactance is no doubt quite a bit higher on AC). But clearly, if there is no voltage at the terminal, the solenoid isn’t going to open. I went to the Orbit site for troubleshooting, and it says that if there is no voltage at the terminals, the timer has to be replaced…

At this point, I’m wondering if the system is haunted.

[Update Saturday evening]

People commenting, go back and read the original thread. I’m not clueless. I’m pretty sure that if there was a short to ground, I’d see it when I measured the resistance on the solenoids.

[Noon update]

OK, it finally occurred to me to check that it was getting 24VAC input. It wasn’t. The upstream GFCI had tripped and the transformer wasn’t outputting…

One of the ones I took off had an indicator saying “No AC,” but I swear I didn’t see that when I was working on it. I now have five of them, four of them (AFAIK) functional. I’ll return at least three to Home Depot (since that’s how many I bought there).

[Update a while later]

And yes, I was a dumbass.

First The FAA

…now this: “The Department of Justice filed a request for a court order to enforce an administrative subpoena in an investigation into Space X on a charge of discrimination in hiring. According to the filing, the DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) said it received a complaint from a non-citizen in May, and Space X had not fully complied with information requests…”

I don’t know if this is hostility to SpaceX from the new administration, zealousness in “protecting” immigrants, or both.

Weird Technical Issue

So we put in a new irrigation system in the backyard a few months ago. I installed this timer, and it was working fine. But a few days ago, we realized that the sprinklers were no longer coming on.

Instead of waiting for the anointed time, I started them manually (that is, I pushed the “Manual” button that starts the sprinkler sequence). It started up, and started flashing the thirty-minute notification, then twenty nine, for the first station. But the valve didn’t open.

So I put a voltmeter on the timer terminals for it, and it read zero. Which of course explained why the solenoid wasn’t engaging. I finally concluded that the timer was no longer functioning properly, and since it cost less than thirty bucks, I just went to Home Depot to get a replacement.

After installing and programming the new one, I tried it again. Exactly the same result. It acts like its running the zone, but there is no voltage at the corresponding terminal. I sent an email to Orbit to see if they had any ideas, but haven’t gotten a response. I’ve followed the instructions to the letter. Does anyone have any ideas that I’m missing somehow?

[Afternoon update]

After being on hold for half an hour, I finally talked to someone at Orbit. I explained the problem, and all that I’d done, and she said, “Wow, that’s weird.”

They’re going to ship me two more in case one of them is bad. So it’s good customer service, at least. So I could set up a store to sell timers that don’t work.

[Update a few minutes later]

I should add that I didn’t tell the whole story. When I went to Home Depot to get the replacement, it turned out to be open box when I got it home, and it was dead. So I had to go back to get another one that hadn’t been opened, and that’s the one that acted like the first one, with no voltage output. So if I get the next two I’ll have five of the things, but I plan to return them. If the ones I get work, I might even return the second one they send, for store credit.

“Landing” A Super Heavy

Elon issued a crazy tweet yesterday.

And someone has already come up with a render.

Computer Problem

I’m posting this from Patricia’s machine, because mine died in its sleep last night. When I got up, it had reset for some reason, and was ready to boot. But it wouldn’t. It just spins forever. I tried reverting to previous kernels, but still no joy. It even fails when booting to rescue it. Not sure how to even start to diagnose it. I could try booting her machine with it (very similar hardware), to see if it’s a software issue, but I’d have to figure out how to edit the fstab, because it overmounts a separate drive as /home, and her machine wouldn’t have it.

Anyway, fun times.

[Update a while later]

Definitely not a software problem; I tried booting it from the drive I use to boot my laptop, and the same issue. I looked at the hardware monitor in the BIOS, and not seeing any issues. The CPU temperature seems fine. And the CPU seems to be working well enough to get to the boot menu. I suspect it is a motherboard issue (though it could be memory). I should see if it will boot with memtest.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Per comments, in the BIOS setup, I am seeing all three drives (the SSD that the OS lives on, the hard drive that is /home, and the SSD that Windows lives on for the VM), 32G of RAM. All looks fine from that standpoint. Next step is to find a stick and put memtest on it.

[Update a while later]

OK, I’m posting this from the machine. It seemed to boot fine from a Fedora 33 live USB (i.e., it doesn’t seem to be a hardware problem). Now to figure out why it won’t boot from its own drive, or from the other Fedora drive I tried. Any diagnostic suggestions?

[Update a few minutes later]

So I ran fsck on /dev/sda (my system drive). It said there was a dirty bit set on the first partition, but other than that it found no problems. But it still won’t boot.

[Afternoon update]

So, using the instructions on this page, I tried reinstalling grub2. On the last command, I got this error message:


[root@localhost-live /]

# grub2-install /dev/sda
Installing for i386-pc platform.
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda2”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda2”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda3”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
Unknown device “/dev/sda1”: No such device
grub2-install: warning: ../grub-core/partmap/gpt.c:190:this GPT partition label contains no BIOS Boot Partition; embedding won’t be possible.
grub2-install: warning: Embedding is not possible. GRUB can only be installed in this setup by using blocklists. However, blocklists are UNRELIABLE and their use is discouraged..
grub2-install: error: will not proceed with blocklists.


[root@localhost-live /]

# ls /dev/sda1

So I don’t know why it’s having trouble knowing the device (sda1 is my boot partition). Any ideas?

[Update a few minutes later]

Wait a minute. Why is it installing for an i386 platform? This is a Ryzen. [Off looking up man on grub2-install]

Weird. It says the default platform is the one that the installer is running on. I’m pretty sure that this live USB is x86_64.

Here is the boot partition:

EFI grub2 mach_kernel System

[Update a while later]

OK, weirder and weirder. I’m following the instructions on this page (just the last one to reinstall grub and shim), but when I do the dnf, it times out getting to the repositories. And I can’t ping Google. Yet I’m able to web surf. Riddle me that, Batman.