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Serviceman's Log

The Christchurch earthquakes damaged a lot of electronic equipment, including large-screen TVs. Mine was knocked flying off its stand on several occasions but it kept working until finally there was one quake too many.

by the Serviceman

Items Covered This Month

• The earthquakes finally killed my TV

• Traffic direction system for a ferry boat

• Shipyard plasma cutter

• Oyster-sorting machine

• Hydroponics control system

• Intermittent Commodore engine

• Mobility scooter intermittent

*Dave Thompson, runs PC Anytime in Christchurch, NZ.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record but this story involves earthquakes. To be fair, we have had about 10,000 of the blighters and while most countries get one good one and a few decent aftershocks from a single fault line, we’ve had a dozen really scary shocks plus the aforementioned 10,000-odd aftershocks – and these are coming from three completely different fault lines!

One wonders what we must have done to offend the Gods so deeply. Whatever it was, we must have had great fun doing it!

When the first earthquake “swarm” hit, our TV set wasn’t that old. I had ditched our old clunker about three years previously and while its 20-inch CRT screen had been considered a middle-sized set when new, it had since become a “tiddler” in the scheme of such things. It was a reliable, well-known brand and the tube was still bright and sharp, even after 12 years of daily use. It’s currently sitting under the bench in my workshop in perfect working order but the same can’t be said of its successor.

The flat-screen LCD TV that took the CRT set’s place was an 81cm model. It was made by a well-known computer monitor manufacturer so it’s not the first name you’d think of when buying a TV. Nonetheless, it was an excellent unit with a picture that was superior in many respects to many better-known models but for about two-thirds their cost.

Click for larger image

Our TV sits on the top of a solid-timber cabinet with the usual drawers and cupboards underneath for old remotes, playing cards and spaces for other home-entertainment hardware. Despite this, during the first big quake, it ended up face down on our lounge-room floor, surrounded by CDs and DVDs (many of which had mysteriously come out of their cases) and the usual quake detritus of broken this and smashed-up that.

As if the TV launching into space wasn’t bad enough, the rest of our gear suffered as well because all the cables, which are about a metre long with the usual mix of RCA and TV-type plugs, remained steadfastly connected to the VCR, DVD player, antenna wall socket and the home-theatre system. These cables usually run from the back of the TV and connect to the various other devices after threading through a nicely-drilled 100mm hole in the back of the cabinet.

Unfortunately, as the TV flew into the room and the cable slack played out, the VCR and DVD player were hauled backwards and tried to escape through that 100mm hole. As soon as they hit the back of the cabinet, the cables stretched and either snapped or sheared off at the sockets, allowing the now-untethered TV to continue its trajectory into the centre of the lounge room.

After getting over the initial shock of a big quake, we took stock of the damage. The lounge room was a war zone and since we had no power for the rest of that day and there were dozens of equally scary aftershocks, we thought it best to leave everything where it lay – the theory being that our stuff couldn’t fall any further or break any more than it had already.

When things had settled down and we had power back on, I put the TV back in its usual spot, dug out some replacement cables and rewired the whole thing back together. I left the VCR out since some of the sockets had been damaged and we hadn’t used it for ages anyway. Amazingly, everything else worked and aside from some nasty scratching on the top and front of the TV cabinet, we were back in business.

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