atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7276: Sound off!

No, really--Mrs. Fungus complained that the TV's sound bar was off, and she couldn't turn it on.

I'm used to the TV misbehaving. I've got a hunch that the TV's power supply board needs new capacitors, or complete replacement, because it takes a while to power on, and--recently--has taken to occasionally shutting itself off at random.

But the sound bar--we've had no trouble from it the entire time it's been here. Not sure how old either TV or soundbar are, but they're of an age; and today the soundbar just crapped out. No matter what I did it would not power on, and after a few minutes of fiddling with it I noticed that it was no longer displaying the clock, either.

Thing's not less than eight years old, probably ten, and they don't cost a lot--rather than trying to figure out why it stopped working I told her we'd have to go get a new one.

This evening, we went to Best Buy. That was something of an exercise in frustration, because apparently you have to sign in for help, and then wait for it. They had a convenient display of sound bars, so all I really needed was to go to that and fiddle to decide which one--but of course that display was not working so you could not listen to the sound bars and decide which one you liked best.

Went back to the front and signed in for help, then waited and waited; finally Mrs. Fungus asked a passing employee about it, but he didn't know anything. (Yellow shirt--manager of something-or-other.) Waited longer, asked for help from another passing employee, and he got on his radio and asked about the display and it turned out that it actually was broken.

So, if we wanted to buy a soundbar that cost less than, oh, five hundred fucking dollars, we'd have to take a chance that it would sound good.

Something else interesting: apparently, in the sound bar world, actually providing a list of features someplace you can see them on the box is considered passe. Best Buy apparently thinks that the displays don't need to list the features, either. Thanks to the units on the nonfunctional demo display I was able to figure out which ones had the kind of inputs we needed.

Finally picked a Polk Audio sound bar with wireless subwoofer. Got out of the store with it for a smidge under $200. Picked it based on the fact that its sale price was $180, it had a name I recognized that wasn't "Insignia", and the box actually listed some of its features so I could make a reasonably educated decision about whether it suited our needs.

Stopped for dinner, then got home and hooked it up...and was delighted to find that it sounds fantastic--a hell of a lot better than the one it replaces! Oh, I knew that we could reasonably expect it to sound at least as good, but I wasn't expecting a lower-end sound bar to sound this good.

The TV has an optical out and the sound bar has an optical in, and the bar included both optical and HDMI cables. Even if the TV had not had the optical out (it does not have HDMI out) I could have used the AUX output on the TV and connected it to the AUX input on the sound bar, though I would have had to supply my own cable for that. I've got two of those on hand, though.

Little caveat: have to press the TV button on the remote control twice to get the thing to look at the optical input instead of HDMI for the sound.

Next step was to get the cable box remote programmed to adjust volume on the new sound bar. That took a little fiddling, but that's also working correctly now.

Besides HDMI, optical, and AUX, it also does Bluetooth--so I can pair my phone with it and play music through the thing.

* * *

Yesterday, while it was still hot out, we went and got into the pool and spent some time just floating in our tubes and not doing anything. IR thermometer said water was 80 degrees; once in, it felt all right, but getting in was like YEECH! The hot, sticky night felt a great deal cooler with my backside and legs in the water, and I was comfortable, so I remained in the pool just floating and relaxing for at least 20 minutes longer than Mrs. Fungus did.

I'm convinced that a well-designed solar heater would help keep the water temperature high enough that it would be comfortable even on days when it's not scorching hot outside. I keep mulling designs; it'll probably end up being made of plywood and plexiglass and PEX tubing, with garden hose serving to get water from pool to pump to heater and back. Pump will be sourced from Harbor Freight; I won't try to finagle this contraption into the pool's filtration system. Water will enter the heater near the center, spiral outward, and exit near the perimeter, flowing back to the pool, to be discharged at some good distance from the intake. Depending on what we do, pool-wise, I could conceivably use the drain port as the connection point for the heater intake; it's designed to accept a female garden hose fitting. I'll definitely want to draw in the coldest water, and that will be on the bottom of the pool. Otherwise, something to support the intake hose, and to keep it near the bottom of the pool. Getting the heated water back in will be similarly trivial, in fact: just a hose flipped over the side or something.

Anyway, that's for next year.

* * *


I've always wanted my own Jacob's Ladder.

I bought a robot arm kit. It's not even as sophisticated as the Radio Shack robotic arm; this one has five motors but can't rotate at the wrist. Still, $60 shipped, and I get to put it together.

While junking some desktop computers at work I found something weird: some computers have a little dingus which is a speaker and a mono amplifier in one. Runs on 5V, uses a 3W amp. I bet if I got a couple of those assemblies I could build a little stereo amplifier. Plug an MP3 player or a phone into it, control the volume from that, and presto!

* * *

But tomorrow is Sunday and I need to get the Jeep's sway bar end links replaced. Then cut the grass.

Plus side, cool weather!

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