Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   fail like the heel of Achilles
Friday, March 23 2007
Today I broke out that heat gun I'd borrowed from Lowes and used it to resolder the connections of the massive ATI BGA graphics chip on my iBook's motherboard. I followed an average of the instructions provided in an online messageboard. First I pealed the heat conductive foam off the ATI graphics chip and then I cut out a little square in a sheet of aluminum foil to mask all but the chip from the direct blast of the gun. Then I lay little segments of core solder atop the chip to indicate how hot it would be getting. Unfortunately, though, the fan in the heat gun was just a little too powerful and tended to blow the little segments of solder around. If they were near melting temperature and were blown out somewhere onto the board and melted, that would be an immediate disaster. I didn't, of course, start blowing the graphics chip at short range but instead started at some distance and gradually approached over the course of several minutes, ending up only about an inch from the chip. It never seemed to change in appearance (some in the messageboards claimed they saw it "settle"). The little segments of solder, which I'd moved by now to the alumium mask and out of danger of melting on the board, leaked out their rosen flux but never melted. I held the heat on the chip at close range for a couple minutes because I didn't want to have to do this a second time. The heat can't possibly be good for the electronics, but there is no other way to repair a BGA sitting atop cracked solder balls.
After letting the board cool down, I fired up the computer (which didn't require any reassembly) and, as far as I could tell, the problem with glitchy video brightness had been fixed. Before completely reassembling the computer, I put two cardboard shims between the ice-white bottom of the iBook and the metal shielding over the video chip, hoping this would help stiffen the board at this point and prevent the solder balls beneath it from recracking.

In other household puttering, I finally got around to fixing the solar collector system, which I've had disabled since fierce late January winds tore the cold-embrittled plastic sheeting from my sixty square foot homemade panel. The old plastic had been a heavy vinyl normally used to fashion shower curtains. The new stuff I installed today is much thinner and seemingly less transparent (though hopefully it's at least fairly translucent). Its advantage is that it is treated to resist ultraviolet light; normally it is used in greenhouse applications. It seems much cheaper and less satisfactory than the old stuff, but the proof will be in how it wears. If the weather destroys it quickly, that's it, I'm replacing it with real glass.
Another thing I've had to do with the solar collection system is replace the hardware at the ends of all the new hoses (I've already described how the hose connectors I'd been using couldn't hold a seal for many heating/cooling cycles). In the process of repairing these hoses, I discovered that one of my hoses had torn after enduring a year and a half of triple assaults: heating, ultraviolet, and bearing the weight of all the hose below it. It had only been exposed to sunlight along an inch of its length, but that was enough to cause it to fail like the heel of Achilles. This brought my attention to the fact that all sensitive surfaces must be protected from ultraviolet light. And I need a better rigging to support the weight of the hose where it dangles down from the panel on its way to the basement.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next