Engineer's Red Mist

Punishment of bad equipment

Here are some of the things I've done to punish 'bad equipment' over the last 25 years or so - and make myself feel better and to cleanse the universe of evil.

2005: Small 12V PSU for scanner burned in barbecue, for failing after 6 months.

2004: HP Laserjet 4L printer diced up with an angle grinder, for being made of plastic parts and not lasting 30+ years like my first stereo amp.

2003: Goldstar 17" colour PC monitor thrown out of upstairs window onto concrete patio, for repeatedly making 'pink pictures' and defying well-meaning attempts at repair. :smash:

1998: Pioneer PL12E turntable dropped in Buckinghamshire canal, for losing all it's arm ballbearings during intercontinental freight and persistently getting stuck while playing records. :smash:

1997: Beogram TX smashed with axe and 7kg sledgehammer, for persistently lifting its arm out of turn and defying sincere and careful attempts at repair. :smash:

1996: Pioneer top range car radio/tape deck smashed with sledgehammer for being so badly designed that one could not fix a bad connection on the aerial socket without removing nearly every single module inside. :smash:

1995: Leap Model U2 PAL programmer sawn neatly in half on a bandsaw and returned to distributor, for repeatedly failing inbetween bouts of infrequent use. :devilr:

1993: Amstrad Laptop ridden over repeatedly with BMW 3.0L, for failing as a datalogger during an important field measurement session.

1992: HP 14" colour monitor shot to death at with silenced .22 rifle, for being initially exorbitant and later having no resale value. :devilr:

1986: Self-designed and built PCB etching station smashed with sledgehammer for leaking and being a generally poor and unworkable project. :smash:

1985: Unknown make of car 'driving computer' ripped of dashboard pod and thrown out of Audi window onto freeway, for measuring the fuel flow with a silly little ball in a race, and for lying about fuel consumption. :eek:

1971-1975: Numerous old radiograms in tasteless 'clawfoot-baroque' wooden cabinets smashed with axes, sledgehammers, angle grinders, huge bolt cutters, for having been dumped on an innocent teenager 'for 'parts' and occupying badly needed space. :smash:

1968: 4 transistor superhet am/sw receiver in project book by David Gibson, ripped apart for not working as expected.

My concern for the environment now forbids me to simply throw stuff away willy-nilly. It has to be punished in controlled circumstances and disposed of properly.

John the Destroyer
Re: Punishment of bad equipment

John Hope said:
2003: Goldstar 17" colour PC monitor thrown out of upstairs window onto concrete patio, for repeatedly making 'pink pictures' and defying well-meaning attempts at repair. :smash:


1992: HP 14" colour monitor shot to death at with silenced .22 rifle, for being initially exorbitant and later having no resale value. :devilr:

You Sir, are my new personal hero! :)
I disagree. It seems to me that almost everybody who ever had engineering tendencies has wanted to do those sorts of things at one time or another. And another. And another etc.

That someone else did it, I find quite humorous.

Therefore, it fits into the Engineering Humor category.

(even if some brute force is required to make it fit... )
New thread


I suggest a thread could be called 'Engineer's Red Mist'.

Jackinj: Was it a Mercedes Kompressor ?

dnsey: Some of the deceased radiograms had single ended valve OPS using those combination triode-pentode B9A tubes (6BQ5??) - nothing decent like pp EL84's. Some of the others were solid state with AD161/162 matched pairs, so don't feel sorry for them!

My wife tells me I forgot the best two stories:

First there was the El-cheapo Korean VHS recorder in about 1994. From new this machine was an insect. I tried to give it away to my aged mother in the Retirement Complex she said I shouldn't try to palm off my rubbish onto her. So I threw it in the duck pond of the Retirement Complex where I hoped it would lie submerged forever in the slime. But wouldn't you know, some old dear happened to see it going into in the pond, retrieved it (probably at great personal risk) and took it to the lost and found office of the complex. Worse still, my aged mother went to claim it back! Why don't people mind their own business?

Second, there was the 66cm NordeMende TV set in about 1995. It's tech history is far too painful to relate. I couldn't sell it or give it away and nobody even wanted to steal it, not even when I left it unattended for 6 hours in the parking lot of a liquor supermarket in a very unsalubrious area of Johannesburg.
One evening after a few ales with a very festive Canadian exchange student, we decided to make a 'Compulsory Donation' of it and so abandoned it on the back of a pickup we randomly chose outside one of these 'Management Training Institutes'.

John H


diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2002-04-03 7:15 pm
Rotherham, England
Those familiar with 80's British Heavy Rock, will no doubt have seen the work of "Pyro Patrick", (we'll call him that for the sake of this tale), a pivotal member of the crew on just about every tour way back then. My memory of the tale I'm about to recount is fairly hazy, up until the final moments...

Imagine a shed rock tour, circa 1987, somewhere in Germany I think. We had been on the road about 6 weeks, and one particular 12u FOH rack had been really playing up. Noise, hum, interconnects and FX units failing, the business. On this particular gig, the rack had failed spectacularly, during the obligatory ballad, in this case, the first number of the encore, and the one where it's failure would be most noticed. After the gig, the FOH soundman was seen having a few quiet words with "Patrick" when he came backstage after the gig had finished. We thought nothing of it at the time, being busy getting stuff sorted for the get out. During the get out, however, when it's place came in the truck pack for this particular rack, it was nowhere to be found. We assumed that it had just been taken onto the bus to be fixed, as had happened previously, as we had a gig in another country the next day and it would need to be ready to go in the morning.

So, after a long hard get-out, (tours in those days had much more kit than nowadays, what with set, a 40 footer just for the dummy Marshall stacks, (now there's another tale!), lighting and a huge Turbosound rig, the last truck was packed, and the locals paid off. We had been sitting in the bus with a beer, for 15 minutes or so, watching the last catering and rigging boxes being loaded, when the tour manager came on board and told us we all had to get off. Grabbing extra beers, we did so, and were escorted around to the side of the venue, where all the old seating and suchlike was stored.

There, we were greeted by the site of the rack, sitting on top of an unlit bonfire. With great ceremony, the FOH engineer, with cheers from us, walked over to the bonfire, produced a zippo, and lit the pyre. It was burning well, when all of a sudden, it started sparking, flashing, and finally exploding in balls of flame about 30' high. As you probably guessed, it had been rigged by "Patrick" with about 30 or 40 FX pyros. As due to a man of his experience, all had been placed very carefully to produce a spectacular, but safe effect. However, something went wrong...

After a minute or so of the show, a huge explosion rocked the car park, causing us all to dive behind the nearest cover. Bits of charred rack mount kit and flightcase littered the scene, and alarms started going off in the nearest buildings. We all suddenly became very sober, and realising that we probably didn't want the German police investigating the contents of our tourbuses too closely, we all ran for the buses, and departed that town in great haste, watching police cars screaming to the venue. To this day, I have no idea how the venue explained what happened that clear, warm, summer night...


diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2002-04-03 7:15 pm
Rotherham, England
John Hope said:
And to bottle it all up is just as dangerous.

Let me tell you a story that illustrates just that point.

About ten years ago, I was working on a very special birthday party. It was for a young boy, aged about 10, son of a very rich father. For the sake of the story, let's call him the Sultan of Poohnii. The venue was a brand new hotel in the west of London, in the middle of a very expensive gated community, later to become the haunt of the rich and famous.

The gig was a disaster from the moment we arrived, at one o'clock in the morning for an all night get in. On arrival, we found that the brand new hotel hadn't even got the electricity connected to the freight elevator. This meant that we had to handball the contents of two 40' trucks worth of production, plus another two trucks of set dressing through the lobby of the hotel, into the back of house, and up several tiny flights of stairs.

As you can imagine, this produced much frustration in the crew, compounded by the fact that it was very hot, and the Hotel refused to give us any cold drinks, not even water, whilst we were working, giving the excuse that the kitchen was closed.

However our problems were only just beginning...

Not to get too technical, it turned out half the facilities that had been promised by the hotel were faulty, absent, or were never even planned to exist. During this time, the production manager, who was due to fly out to the states to start touring with a major band the next day, was getting more and more annoyed with the Hotel, and especially with the total idiot calling himself the Banqueting Manager, a wet behind the ears young lad, who had come straight from a very posh hotel management course in Geneva, and of course, knew everything.

At about 5:00 am, it was realised that we needed some extra kit to get the show to work and a phone call was made to a local AV company. They despatched a tech, with a fully loaded 3 ton truck.

The tech duly arrived, and all hands were sent down to unload and get the kit in, as it was several very heavy brand new video projectors, each a six man lift. So the van arrived, and was sent to the front of the hotel, where he pulled up under the portico, and was unloaded. The tech then came up with us, as he was the only one who could set up and align these new machines. Shortly after the Banqueting Manager made a particularly silly remark about the "ugly", (brand new, freshly liveried) van that was parked outside "his" fine hotel. The PM, in a rage, said he would move it himself, and went down to do so.

However, he forgot one thing. When the heavy kit had been taken off, the van rose on it's suspension a good 6 inches. So, he got in, floored it, and promptly ripped £200,000 worth of fine Trabatine marble portico off the front of the hotel.

He got out and looked in despair at his work. At that moment, as we witnessed it from the ballroom windows, the Banqueting manager shot out and held his head in his hands in dismay at what we had done to his brand new hotel, and the prospect of one of the richest men in the world turning up shortly.

The PM saw this, grinned from ear to ear, leapt into a taxi handily parked up, and was whisked off to Heathrow and his flight.

I don't think he has returned to this country since...
6BQ5 etc

Beg pardon, my valve gen is very rusty.

I've never smashed a tape recorder because I have a soft spot for them. I might smash a cassette deck, but never a reel-to-reel. That would be a crime against life.

The closest I came was with a 1983 Technics cassette deck that was actually one of the best sounding cassette decks I ever came across. It had pushbutton solenoid controls and a smart hybrid PPM/VU digital meter. But it developed a silly fault in that once you set it in record, you couldn't stop it! It would groan a little when you pushed the stop button but the only way to get it to release the mechanism was to pull out the mains plug!

An examination of its innards showed that there was a little mechanical lever that was sticking. But to get at this I would have had to strip the entire machine completely and the chances of my getting it together again after this were slim. So I carefully drilled a 4mm hole in the front panel of the deck and made a special little 'poking stick' from a long nail. Then, when the deck would jam in record, I would simply get my poking stick and shove it into the hole until it hit the sticking lever and released the jam.

Many of the engineers I know share with me this ability to design reasonably advanced stuff, and even to get it working when it's initially a non-working design. But ask us to fix a piece of consumer equipment designed by someone else and we're hopeless.

John H


diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2003-01-18 7:57 am
Near London. UK
pinkmouse said:
However, he forgot one thing. When the heavy kit had been taken off, the van rose on its suspension a good 6 inches. So, he got in, floored it, and promptly ripped £200,000 worth of fine Trabatine marble portico off the front of the hotel.

Once upon a time, I worked for a large bank at their coin centre where we distributed all the coins for the South of England. Every month, we would hire a 32 ton articulated lorry to collect our "mixed silver" (bags containing £100 worth of 6d, 5p, 10p) to be taken to Ashby de la Zouch for sorting. Coin is quite heavy - you'd be surprised by how little space £10,000 (weighing a little over 1 ton) of bagged 10p pieces takes up, and so we had to load the lorry evenly to avoid breaking its back. Anyway, one month, off the lorry trundled, and in the afternoon we received an apoplectic telephone call. Apparently, the lorry had to drive into a courtyard through an arch, and this particular lorry was a bit higher than usual. The driver had had to let down all the tyres to get out, then pump them all up again by footpump...
I understand Wildar was some kind of character and also enjoyed teaching components that frustrated him a good lesson.

For myself I appreciate the kind of irony in using the parts from a burnt Pioneer receiver that always sucked to make a real amp with. I don't recycle out of my care for the planet... It's a revenge thing, but this way I learn and "owned" it.
I used to get given (as teenagers do) speakers that weren't much good, and came in rubbishy plastic boxes.

After giving the drivers a fair chance in an OB, I'd stick them on the end of 14dB of LT gain and watch the magic smoke.

Otherwise, I'd find a passer-by, and destroy the drivers showing them how speakers work.