Prison Pete

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
  Unappreciated TV Repairman.
Meanwhile, there is not much carpentry work to do, so I am able to get out of the wood shop and fix some of the other things that get accidentally broken around here.

One of the two televisions in our unit suffered from a broken down volume control. This unit is around forty inches diagonally, Cathode ray tube design. These units are being replaced with plain old twenty-seven inch units. If it cannot be fixed, it is gone.

The buttons on the televisions these days are not meant to be used all that much. Everyone uses remotes. We do not, and certainly we are not talking about the most gentle fingers pushing these buttons. In addition, these buttons are not even buttons, but plastic "L" shaped pieces that pivot when pressed, depressing a micro switch on the circuit board.

Several televisions have not survived the operation that is needed to remedy this broken switch problem. The solution is to solder some phone wire leads to each side of the micro switch, and then using one of those hobby type plastic boxes, install six push button switches that will then hopefully trigger the proper operation; Channel up/down, volume up/down, on/off.

As luck would have it, this particular television had a separate (and simple) circuit board that only had the various micro buttons on it. I was able to remove the board from the television and easily solder on the needed wires. This project started Monday morning. While I was working on the television, I was dispatched to check into a possibly malfunctioning ice machine for another unit. I should mention that I installed a smaller but functioning television in my unit as a loaner while the bigger screen television was in the shop.

Instead of returning to my unit at 10:00 AM as usual, I went over to the chow hall to work on the computer. My absence from the unit at the 11:00 count was certain to raise some mild alarm as to what was up with the precious television. After lunch I returned to work on the television but was first instructed to be sure to get a working ice machine back to the unit I had removed the unit from that morning. I had previously been told that I was the carpenter (while I was working on getting an ice machine working) and Ralph (already an alias), another inmate, was in charge of ice machines.

At this point since Ralph was busy doing something else, all of a sudden I am back working on ice machines. The outcome was that at 2:00 I was just finishing up soldering the last of the wires to the new buttons, and was able to get the officer to allow me to bring the television back up to our unit. This television sits on a large wall mounted stand. No tools were needed to switch this television with the smaller replacement. All tools are returned by 2:00 PM and that is the end of our work day.

When I walked into the dorm without the television in my arms, I was greeted with some howls and other comments as to where was the television. I explained it was right outside but I needed two strong guys to carry it in.

The ending of this story is that instead of receiving praise for fixing the television, I received "Boy are you lucky you brought that back up with you!" comments. While it might have been said somewhat tongue in cheek, it was more the feeling I was not being recognized as being a hero, but since I was able to fix it, my fellow inmates would tolerate me for a while longer.
I think I am not surprised that those guys showed no appreciation for your efforts on their behalf. Isn't selfishness one of the main reasons people get sideways with other people? Anyway, i think that is so.
Its nice to see you back to doing regular posts. I've just spent two weeks reading all your posts and now I am addicted. So please keep up the good work. Dave
Great blog. Don't let those guys bother you. Aside from wanting their big TV back they are jealous that you have the ability to fix it.

Speaking as one electronics technician to another.

Keep up the good work.
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