FIXING THE UNRESPONSIVE AMMETER

(This fix is primarily for Ford’s Fox Body vehicles, 1984-88, but it could have other useful applications as well.)

(This note was first written on January 3, 2017.)

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There have been times when the stock AMMETER on my 1987 Turbo Coupe has become slow or unresponsive. Some time ago it was discovered that, by “goosing” it with battery current in a certain way, normal operation could be restored.

After a period of time the ammeter’s electromagnets become “tired” and fail to correctly show charge and discharge; or most often, anything. The stationary needle has been a source of frustration for me over the years.

The problem has been determining an easy way to access the rear of the device where the electrical terminals are found. The only prior way was to remove the instrument panel, the ammeter being a part of that assembly.

One remedy implemented years ago was to attach a length of wire to each ammeter terminal and situating the ends at an easily accessible location, thus greatly simplifying the process. During a recent repair attempt I was unable to locate this wiring, leading me to wonder if it wasn’t removed some time ago for safety reasons.

As the ammeter has again become completely unresponsive (it had been marginally so for some time), the search began for a better way to fix this condition, by discovering and then accessing the wiring leading to those terminals. This weblog entry is a partial record of what I’ve found, and a proposed fix.

1/27/17: I just found a self-made drawing on page 39 of Ford’s “Electrical and Troubleshooting Manual” detailing this connection. Here is a photo of that drawing:

Evernote Snapshot 20170127 181754.jpg

(UPDATE, February 4 2017: I solved my ammeter problem by doing the very thing I was trying to avoid–removing the dashboard instrument cluster and “shocking” the terminals. However, it now functions as intended, is very responsive and has good needle movement, so the trouble was worth it. Again, though, I used to know a better way, but I never wrote it down. The closest is the drawing, above, and I’m not certain that I ever actually tried that method.)

(I’ll update this post as information becomes available.)

>>What follows is additional information from the initial version of this note.

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Here are two pages from Ford’s Wiring Schematic volume of the related areas:

Evernote Camera Roll 20170104 011228

Page 1, The ORIGINATING wiring. NOTE Fuse Link G on the Left side of the ammeter, and Fuse Links F, R and Y on the Right side.

Evernote Camera Roll 20170104 011415.jpg

Page 2, DESTINATION wiring. Note that connection from Fuse Link F (37Y) goes to Fuse #1.

Based on this, it would appear that connecting one lead to FUSE LINK G (Page 1) and another to the YELLOW wire at FUSE #1 (Page 2, above) should allow access to the ammeter terminals, just as before when connecting to each directly. Applying a small amount of current should then “shock” the ammeter’s internal magnets and restore operation.

This wiring diagram and drawing are intended ONLY AS A GUIDE. Additional research should be done before attempting to make any connections which could cause damage or serious personal injury.

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ADAPTING FORD’S PREMIUM SOUND GRAPHIC EQUALIZER

Recently the FM feature on my 1987 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe’s Premium Sound AM/FM cassette radio quit…well, more precisely, something bad happened when I swapped the non-working cassette drive mechanism from my radio with one from an identical eBay one. I’m no stranger to circuitry and electronics, been adapting/building/modifying devices for years; what happened this time remains a mystery. I spent hours trying to figure out what caused it to quit, retracing steps to be certain I did not cross a wire or short-circuit something (the AM and cassette functions were still working). Finally, I gave up.

I could not find a similar unit on eBay or, really, anywhere. I suppose most people trashed the OEM head units (radios) and went with aftermarket ones, so few survived the past 30 years. Fortunately there were a good many made, and even more fortunately not all were in Turbo Coupes, but also Broncos, F-150s and many other models. One day out of desperation I called some salvage yards looking for late 80s Ford vehicles–cars, trucks, vans, whatever. After some misinformation as to another yard’s actual inventory I ended up on West Broadway Avenue in Phoenix poking around in some very familiar places, most of which I had not visited for almost 20 years.

I paid my $3 and walked around a Pick-A-Part yard, not at all suitably attired in a good quality shirt and shorts and wearing flip-flops. After about 45 minutes in the 110+ degree heat, investigating the wrecks in various conditions of decay and finding lots of empty spaces where there used to be radios, I spotted gold inside a 1988 Bronco, almost what I was looking for: a Premium Sound AM/FM cassette in the same style as mine, but with one important difference. It had what I’ll call “rotating knobs” in the spot where mine had a “sliding balance control”–just below the cassette slot. Amongst other things, this meant this particular radio was not designed to be paired with a graphic equalizer. Thus, the knobs–Bass and Treble, and one whose control is found on the graphic equalizer, a Fader for the Front and Rear speakers. There was also a rotating Balance control.

This was a problem. Having neither the proper clothes nor tools to remove the radio, I left the yard, unsure as to whether or not to return. The electronics inside this radio would not be compatible with mine as it had different features, so a circuit board swap would not be feasible.

At this point you might be asking, “Why not just get a newer head unit and be done with it?” Such a move would also allow more modern amenities such as a CD player (now itself just about obsolete). Well, something weird happens when you’ve had something a really long time–you try and keep it as original as possible. Whether that makes sense or not, that’s my mindset, has been and will continue to be as long as possible. While the normal operation of the car might demand otherwise, when given a choice I’ll opt to keep it Stock.

(Funny thing is, I HATE most commercial radio. Too much advertising. I realize they have to pay the bills, but we have a station here in Phoenix that’s a great if unusual example. It’s a kind of labor of love, run by a former radio executive. There are NO ads. It plays all kind of classic rock, even some older Top 40 and country. There is music here that I either a) have not heard in years; or b) have NEVER heard. I like to consider myself a music aficionado–this last part is quite amazing. I’ve never even heard of some of these BANDS! So yeah, listening to this station makes all this work and effort worthwhile. Unfortunately, since there is no advertising there is no responsibility to anyone except the listeners, so occasionally the station will “go dark” sometimes for hours and days while hardware and software improvements are being made. SELFLESS PLUG: KCDX FM 103.1 .)

The next morning, after considerable thought, I revisited the Pick-A-Part armed with more suitable attire and some tools. As it happened, the only tool I needed was some wire cutters–the radio was just sitting inside its spot in the center dashboard console, unattached in any way. I pried off the plastic front trim piece (all that was stopping it from falling out) and cut the wiring harness so that I’d have spare (and proper) connectors. It actually took longer to walk to that vehicle that to remove it.

It cost me $10, and after the various taxes and salvage fees–and a $1 core charge–about $16. Here’s what I got for my money:

The “Rotating Knob” Premium Sound Radio

Once I returned home, the next step involved cleaning. This turned out to not be as tough as it might first appear, as most of the dirt came off rather quickly. There was a lot of work with Q-tips and toothpicks–I’m pretty fussy about my stuff, and I wanted it to look as new as possible. The real problem involved the black finish on the face of the thing: it had sat in the sun for so long, most of the black was now whitish and the clear coat film had started to bubble. The solution was simple: lots of Mothers’ Back to Black, which is a finish restorer for black trim pieces and parts. I must have applied more than a dozen coats of this stuff to the finish on the radio with Q-tips…some areas readily accepted the product, other areas required application every few minutes. Eventually–as you’ll see in the end photo–it turned out very good. The bubble effect was greatly minimized and overall the finish was nearly flawless, I wish I had shot some Before and After pictures. (There are other manufacturers that make similar products, this is just what I happened to have on hand).

What follows next is the test to see if the thing even works (I actually started this whilst I was cleaning the unit). I had a old power supply with the same amperage and voltage as the radio required (I keep a few around for just this purpose), so I plugged it in and wired it up using the cut-off connector. I found a mini-phono plug socket and wired it up to the other cut-off connector, plugged in some headphones. VIOLA! It played! I tested the AM, FM and cassette deck. It worked FLAWLESSLY! The volume control worked a bit differently–my OEM radio had a push-on power switch which also worked as a volume control. This unit had an actual on/off switch–it rotated to the right to turn on–and when you pushed on the knob it switched to Clock mode. Now, I already have a clock, at the top of the center console tower. Other than the uncertainty of how to wire this unit into the existing harnesses, the clock was a mild drawback. With the restoration of the radio’s front finish, the only problem remained how to make it work with my existing setup.

I spent hours on the Internet trying to learn how to bypass the existing graphic equalizer, as this new radio clearly was not designed to work with one. I tried right off to connect the radio to the existing harnesses, and while it powered up and all the functions worked, there was no sound. One of the problems was the pinouts, as shown on this diagram:

Comparison of connectors found on “Sliding Balance Control” (w/Gr Eq) and “Rotating Knob” (without)

Note that on the connector shown at the top, Pin #7 is an Orange wire with a Light Blue stripe, commonly referred to as Orange/Light Blue. See also that it’s noted as the Gr. Eq. (or Graphics Equalizer) wire. Also note–and this is very important–there is NOT EVEN A CONNECTOR (or Pin) at the #7 position on the new radio. So, based on this missing pin, there is no power provided for the Equalizer on the new radio.

More Internet research followed, and more attempts to resuscitate the OEM radio, as I was still uncertain how to rewire the existing harnesses to accept this new part. Fortunately, I had a spare non-working Graphic Equalizer that I had cannibalized for parts some time ago…its connector goes to the OEM Amplifier harness. I set about drawing up plans for doing the wiring, using the new radio cut-off connectors and this Amp harness plug. This would effectively bypass the Graphic Equalizer and run directly from the radio to the Amplifier, located in the trunk.

(It’s important to note at this point that there are connectors (provided by Ford)–hidden near the existing harnesses behind the radio–that bypass the OEM amplifier. This is for owners that want to install a new aftermarket head unit which has its own built-in Amplifier that will certainly conflict with the existing installed OEM one…so Ford generously includes another harness that bypasses the OEM Amp and allows a connection directly to the existing speaker setup. This is NOT the same as bypassing the equalizer.)

I wanted to keep the existing Graphic Equalizer, but did not know how to do so. Then, some scientific experimentation provided the answers.

I measured the current at Pin#7 on this new radio; it was ~12.0 volts. OKAY. so let’s connect the Amp Wire to that terminal.

But I had done that before. Different result? No–nothing, still no sound. The multimeter now showed 4 volts. More tests, same result. While it might read that there are 12 volts available, once a load is connected that falls off somehow. I don’t pretend to understand all the principles and properties of electronics and electricity, but it was clear that this was not an option.

Why not power the amp by jumpering to an existing juiced wire? The radio has two: a constant 12V + line (labeled BAT in the drawing above) and a switched one, that is powered when the ignition/accessory switch is turned on (labeled IGN). I pulled the orange/light blue wire from the amplifier harness connector, stripped some insulation from the yellow/black IGN wire, and brought the two together, temporarily fastening with electrical tape. I turned the key to ACC and turned on the radio. STATIC, GLORIOUS STATIC! This was just because the radio was set to 600kHz, which has no station. Tuning just up the proverbial dial to an existing frequency provided music. I pushed the FM button and hit SEEK…much better! It sounded pretty good…I was VERY pleased.

As the old saying goes, just DON’T MESS WITH THE KNOBS! With the exception of the balance control, there should be no need to adjust the Bass, Treble (or the Fader control, which is already found on the Graphic Equalizer). The tonal control knobs are a ham-handed way to tune the sound; the equalizer provides a much finer and richer experience and result.

There is another issue, though…the equalizer’s power button hasn’t worked properly for years and won’t stay on (according to NATO, The North American TurboCoupe Organization online website forum, the proper fix for this is to “jam a toothpick in there [the switch button]”). I overcame this some time ago by disassembling the equalizer and removing the switch completely, jumpering the wires together. Now the equalizer always comes on when the radio is powered up, and this has not been an issue until now. Problem is, with the jumpered wire now connected, as soon as you operate the ignition switch the equalizer comes on and all six speakers POP. This can’t be good for already 30-year-old speakers. So, the solution seemed to be a switch–turn on the ignition/ACC and the radio, then turn on the graphic equalizer. But, where to put it?

I kept looking for a terminal on the connector that would get power when the radio was switched on, but there was none. I was going to have to connect an external switch, somewhere, and have it not look like a high school science project gone bad. It’s been my hope that at some point I can locate another radio like the OEM one with the sliding balance control, but until then this setup will have to do. Admittedly, I might be stuck with it, so why not do it correctly…even though it might temporary.

Whilst wrestling with where to put the switch I remembered that I had a spare dashboard center console trim piece with a broken mounting screw hole on the lower right (which is why it’s a spare, right?). I decided to mount the switch in that somewhere. Here’s that piece:

Spare dashboard center console trim piece

I had planned to mount the switch up on the right between the first (top) and second bays/openings, in the silver-ish “brushed aluminum finish” area. This later proved to be impractical, as I thought there was too great of a chance of screwing up the trim piece, and I was also hoping to have the switch be less visible.

The next step was a trip to the local Fry’s Electronics, which is just 1.4 miles away (!!). If you’ve ever been to one, this is the closest tech geeks and project DIYers have to nirvana. While they don’t offer as many of the small electronic components like resistors, capacitors, etc. as they did 20 years ago, there’s still a lot of good stuff here. I selected these two switches:

Rocker switches

The one on the left offers a green lamp when switched on and is rated at 15 amps; it proved to be too large for the trim piece. Instead I chose the smaller one on the right, rated at 10-12 amps. Less obtrusive and obvious.

Where to put it? It turned out that the switch fit just about perfectly in the little channel part that runs between the bays of the trim piece. So, that’s where it went:

Switch, mounted

The switch, neatly installed.

Sadly whilst shaping up the two holes that I drilled, the small razor knife slipped and cut the silver finish just above the switch. Oh well. (Good thing it was the spare!)

I drew this sketch up as I was formulating the plan for this project. I generally like to make lists and draw pictures of parts, planned work, etc., even if they are just regurgitations of another drawing or picture. I am very visually oriented, and this helps me “see” and understand it better. Here it is:

Draft of proposed project’s wiring

Two things changed after this drawing. First, as mentioned, the position of the switch on the piece. Second, it was impractical to use heat shrink tubing on the solder joint because I didn’t want to pull the pin for the IGN wire out of the connector to slide the tubing onto it. I was afraid that if the small retainer broke off I’d have trouble keeping the wire inside the connector, especially since I was jumpering another wire to it. Instead, I soldered a long jumper wire to the IGN lead and then carefully wrapped the wires with several layers of electrical tape…this lead is then connected to one of the switch’s poles. Here’s the solder work:

Soldered jumper wire from EQ to IGN switched wire

Also note the orange/light blue wire on the right side of the photo, connected by a butt splice to a length of white lead. I removed the corresponding pin from its connector and cut it off (carefully retaining it in case I restore the wiring for installation of another OEM style radio!), then made the splice from the now free end of the orange/light blue wire to the white lead, which is then connected to the remaining switch pole.

After the wires were attached to the switch with spade connectors and the trim piece was test-fit on the car, it looked like those connectors could contact the metal of the console’s mounting frame and short-circuit the whole project. I added heat shrink tubing over the connectors to avoid that possibility, as shown:

Heat shrink tubing on switch connectors

Heat shrink tubing added to help prevent short circuiting.

 

Here’s what it looks like with the radio installed and all the wiring in place:

wiring to switch

Why all the extra wiring, you ask?

There is a lot of extra wire used in these leads, and with good reason. The slack allows the removal of the trim piece without requiring that the switch be pulled out of its mounting. The piece is unscrewed and then set off to the right side of the dash center console so that it rests on the floor. Note that you’ll have to run those wires UNDER the radio, as locating them above it causes them to hang over the radio face. The excess wire is loosely twist-tied together and stored on top of the EATC module, just below the radio.

Here’s what the completed project looks like:

Completed setup

The finished project.

 

(In retrospect, I probably should have cleaned off those whitish-looking spots from the gearshift boot panel before I shot this picture. Oh well.)

UPDATE:

After a 64 mile drive today, both to recharge the battery and evaluate this unit, I learned the following. The Front/Rear Fader switch found on the Graphic Equalizer is now non-functional, as is the “rotating knob” fader–it turns both front and rear speakers up and down at the same time, in unison…there is no separation. The overall sound quality appears to be a bit less, but that could also be due to poor station signal, as some stations did sound okay, but not great when I increased the volume. Still, when I connect my iPod Classic to the stereo through the Sony cassette adapter that I’ve used for years, the sound is again rich and clear, and with no problems in increased volume. So I don’t get it.

Since I don’t plan on doing a lot of radio listening (I was reminded on this drive how mostly frustrating that is for me), this will do for the foreseeable future. I’ll be watching for and will likely jump at the first chance to procure another “sliding balance control” Premium Stereo unit to restore my OEM setup–hopefully a compatible one will become available. While it might not fix the radio’s broadcast sound, it will at least restore the Fader functionality. I find this feature very enjoyable when configured correctly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION…A New Weblog Category

I have a 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. It’s been my prized car since January 18, 1991; it’s 30 years old this year, and I’ve been happily driving it almost that long.

Monument Valley T-Bird 1-22-92

No that is not a Photoshop image. Yes, I was actually there: January 22, 1992, Monument Valley, AZ/UT

As time has gone by, parts have been becoming more and more difficult to find. While at first all it took was a trip to a parts chain or a Ford dealership, after a few years the salvage yards became my best friends. Soon, however, even that source dried up, as fewer and fewer cars were getting into accidents and finding their way into the salvage yards. Finally, the last resort has been the Saved Search feature of eBay (and the occasional find on Craigslist). I have boxes of mechanical and trim parts I’ve collected from eBay over the years, all kinds of spares for the day when I might need them.

You’ve got to be very resourceful, imaginative and creative when you drive a car that’s 30 years old. That’s what this new weblog category on my BroodCoffeeTalk website is all about. Repairing, adapting, modifying parts and supplies so they will work and restore functionality.

This new category is called Tech Talk–DIY.

And it doesn’t stop there. I’ll also discuss repairs to other things, whatever I’m working on at the time. The goal is to take what I have learned and share it with others. I’ve spent hours on the Internet trying to find answers to my problems…perhaps someone else will be more lucky and find what they are looking for on this site.

Please share any of your own tips and tricks, as well as any questions you might have.

Let’s begin, shall we?

FIXING THE ZAGG SLIMBOOK ULTRATHIN CASE (w/Keyboard) FOR IPAD PRO

ZAGG has a reputation for its innovative products. Sadly, however, one of them has a considerable design issue, and one that the company has (so far) refused to acknowledge, despite numerous customer complaints. Fortunately, however, I’ve developed an inexpensive repair for this oversight that I’ll provide in detail later on.

I’ve been very happy with the two ZAGG iPhone screen protectors I’ve owned, initially for the iPhone 6 Plus and then more recently the 6S Plus. They function as well as one could reasonably expect such a product to perform…in the case of the 6S Plus, the screen protector absorbed most of the impact when I accidentally dropped a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup on my iPhone, surprisingly causing no display damage.

I’ve similarly been quite pleased with the ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Screen protector for my 9.7″ iPad Pro. Considering that the easiest and most often used method to access a tablet device is through touchscreen input, a good screen protector is essential to preserving that touchscreen surface. This item does that, while also providing me with its assurance of quality that it will do its job well.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of its Slim Book Ultrathin Case, Hinged with Detachable Backlit Keyboard (referred to from now on as the Case). There exists a serious design flaw that cannot be ignored or, frankly, tolerated.

Some backstory: I purchased my iPad Pro 9.7″ unit with the aforementioned ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Screen Protector and above-mentioned Case several months ago (August 2016). This was not a bundle–I did considerable research on all available options including both ZAGG products. I read whatever reviews I could find on all of the different choices, all of which factored into my buying decision. While the screen protector received rave reviews, not so much for the Case. More on that in a bit.

The Case consists of two parts: one piece fits around the iPad, providing what appears to be a secure enclosure. I haven’t dropped my iPad Pro, so I can’t speak to its protective qualities. But all the holes do line up perfectly with the various buttons and ports, and it is a heavier-duty plastic than what I saw with other products. Overall I’d say I’m very pleased with this part of the Case.

The other half is the Bluetooth keyboard with its enclosed battery. The iPad portion of the Case fits neatly into the hinge bracket found on this part, creating the classic “clamshell” design. Once installed, the tablet is secured with magnets embedded into the bracket. The magnets provide just enough “pull” to keep the iPad secure but not so much as to make it difficult to remove the tablet for solo use.

It’s a snap to pair the keyboard with the iPad. The included instruction manual provides a guide to setting up the backlighting, which is offered in a variety of colors. There are 14 keys found on the top row (like Function keys) that are tied in to matching features on the iPad…these work very well.

The Case is overall a fine unit. It appears to be well constructed, thought out and engineered. Its keyboard holds up to repeated use well and has a very nice “feel” to its keys. I’ve found that it pointedly does not offer “two year’s worth of battery life,” as ZAGG claims; I hardly qualify as a “power user” as I use my iPad for only several hours each day. Still, I have already had to recharge the battery several times.

So it sounds like a great product: an excellent way to have the best of both worlds, a tablet and a laptop. Well, that’s what I thought too, even after reading through dozens of reviews that were mostly negative. Despite this, I decided to spend the $130 on Amazon to purchase it. (It’s now as of this writing listed at $80.)

Why all the negative reviews? Well, to start with, you’d be correct if you’d be suspicious of just how well a hinge bracket made of plastic can be trusted to stand up to the repeated stress of opening and closing this unit. Most of the reviews I read were not good; many users found that after time–varying from just a few hours to (in my case) several months later–the plastic of the hinge bracket cracks in either or both ends, the result being that when you open the Case to access the tablet and attached keyboard, the iPad abruptly pulls loose entirely from the Case. As this is (at first) unexpected, depending on where and how you are opening the Case, there is a good chance that you’ll drop either or both parts, causing possible damage to at least the iPad. (At that point you’re probably more than a bit disappointed and not too concerned about the keyboard part.)

Obviously this doesn’t provide a very good user experience. Many have asked why ZAGG doesn’t manufacture that hinge from a stronger material, such as metal.

ZAGG’s response is, essentially, “you’re not doing it right”–you’re not opening the Case correctly and/or you’re not transporting it correctly. The company calls the plastic hinge bracket “durable” and recommends that the following procedure be used when opening the Case: put the spine of the Case on a flat surface and separate the left and right halves by pulling each apart and away from the other. Also, they recommend not carrying the Case around as one might a laptop by using its keyboard half (which weighs quite a bit). They claim this can damage the Case’s hinge.

Some of the reviewers claim to be “power users”, frequently pulling their iPad from a backpack or bag many times in the course of a day. Others suffered the hinge damage almost immediately.

(You can read more about this item HERE. Scroll down that page to read the reviews.)

Last week it happened to me as well. Despite carefully opening and closing the Case as described and despite carrying it as instructed, both ends of the allegedly-durable plastic hinge bracket cracked, essentially making the keyboard part of the Case a separate entity.

I was very unhappy and carefully considered my next course of action. I tried repairing the cracked parts using Super Glue, even though I knew that would likely void my warranty…and, while the repair worked for a couple of openings and closings, soon that also failed. I didn’t see any reason to contact ZAGG for a warranty replacement, as that part would eventually likely crack and fail as well on the new one.

What to do? Well, I already said that I really liked the Case, so I set about finding a way to repair it.

What I came up with is both simple and elegant. I’m going to provide the most basic step-by-step instructions, because frankly if you can’t figure out how to do it yourself you probably shouldn’t be attempting it in the first place.

Obviously this WILL void your warranty. So choose your plan of action carefully.

You’ll need the following things: slipjoint pliers, needle nose pliers, a fine point Sharpie, a good straightedge (that means a metal, not wood) millimeter ruler (if you use a t-square you’ll have the best tool for accurate straight lines). Also good sharp tin snips, a small piece of stainless steel sheet metal, a flat metal file, a can of flat black spray paint and some GOOP adhesive. You can find all these things at a hardware or home improvement store, such as Ace Hardware or Home Depot.

Simply put, the steps are as follows: you’ll be measuring the sheet metal with the straightedge, cutting it with the tin snips, using the file to smooth any sharp edges, measuring the crease lines with the straightedge/t-square and marking them with the Sharpie, and then folding/bending it into shape with both sets of pliers. Once you’ve got it so that it fits well (by test fitting it on the Case) paint JUST THE OUTSIDE and attach it to the hinge bracket, using a very small amount of GOOP to secure it into place.

The test-fitting requires patience, as it is a trial-and-error process, so plan on taking your time with this step.

What exactly will you be making? Metal “clips” that fit neatly over the ends of the hinge bracket, providing the necessary reinforcement for opening and closing the Case. You can still remove the iPad, of course, but the seriously flawed hinge bracket problem is solved.

What I don’t understand is why ZAGG didn’t do this in the first place. I’m just a do-it-yourselfer, maybe a little on the advanced side but with no specialized training nor degree, and I came up with this solution after just a little bit of thought and testing. I’m certainly no match for the R&D (research and development) department of a big company. It can’t be that hard to manufacture these parts and attach them to the Case during assembly, eliminating the problem and making it a 5 star product.

Here are some notes and drawings I made (using the Apple Pencil) that provide measurements and other information.

The first one above illustrates the problem using a simplified drawing of the hinge bracket.
The second drawing features the proposed repair clip:


What you are creating are 2 metal strips, 3.5 cm X 4.5 cm, which will become the reinforcing clips. These strips are shown in the third drawing, below. Using the Sharpie, CAREFULLY measure; and using the straightedge/t-square, draw the lines. Again–I cannot stress how important it is that you are accurate in this work, else not only will the finished product look bad but it probably won’t fit properly, and you’ll be spending a lot of time trying to fix that. Some extra effort spent in the pieces’ creation will pay off greatly later on.

Find a suitable straight edge on a countertop, table, desk, etc. Starting with the first strip, bend it CAREFULLY along the dotted line using the countertop straight edge, making sure the result is straight, then double it by bending the two halves together. This is necessary because the one layer of metal is not enough to secure the (cracked) ends of the hinge bracket, but both together will be. Use the slipjoint pliers to flatten the fold/bend point as much as you can. This is important because there has to be enough clearance so the clip will clear the space between the bottom surface of the keyboard and the hinge. You could carefully use a small hammer, but I found the pliers worked well. This first folded edge will be located on the bottom of the Case; the opposite edges will be on the top.

The rest is just bending the strip along the lines you’ve drawn (again, CAREFULLY), using the needle nose pliers. I’m sure there’s other ways that might work better, but again this worked well for me. Start on a side for one bend, then switch to the other side. In this way work on getting a good sharp fold in the metal. (You can hold the section with the needle nose pliers and tap on the other side with a small hammer to get a good crease.)

When that’s all done the next step is to make a slight fold across the center part of the repair clip. You’ll see by studying the spine of the Case that there’s a slight angle to the back of it; the repair bracket should mirror that angle so it will fit tightly against it. The result should be that the top and bottom surfaces are NOT parallel, there must be a narrower gap in the front edges than the back spine, similar to spring clips used for example to hold things like papers together and to keep bags of snack chips sealed tightly. This is so the clips have the same sort of spring action, which will not only keep them in place but also help support the hinge bracket in the opening and closing of the Case.

After you’re done making all the creases you’ll notice that one side of the piece is longer than the other. This is intentional, so you can cut off the excess when you’ve gotten the piece to fit properly. This edge should be on the top section of the clip. You’ll see in the pictures just below how I created my clips and how this bottom edge is a bit longer than the top one, because the bottom part of the hinge bracket is a bit thicker than the top. (Take a look at my finished clips below if you are having difficulty understanding my description.) DON’T TRIM THIS BOTTOM PART, where the fold is! The two pieces will come apart and won’t be as sturdy! While the bottommost part is longer, that’s okay. The TOP part–which is where the cut edges are–can be trimmed so that it doesn’t cause contact with the Case. TRIM CAREFULLY! The second clip I made I trimmed too short, and I wasn’t happy with how it looked. For maximum strength it should extend just to the edge of the black plastic of the Case.

Use the slipjoint pliers to make a very slight inward bend on the bottom edge. This helps the clip stay in place. (Again, study the pictures below–in the last one, this slight inward bend is clearly visible on the left side of both pieces.)

Recall I said before to paint only one side, which is the outer surface…this is because the GOOP won’t adhere as well to a painted surface. Be sure to clean the finished metal with soap and water before painting and then allow it to fully dry. Follow the instructions on the paint can exactly, apply several light coats (so the paint doesn’t run) and then LEAVE IT ALONE to dry completely (at the very least, overnight) before handling. The paint can’s directions might say that you can handle it after an hour or so. DON’T. Be patient! Nothing looks more amateurish than a paint job with runs and/or fingerprints on it.

After you’ve left it dry completely, use a bit of soap and water to clean the inner unpainted part of the clips and the corresponding locations on the Hinge Bracket spine. This is to help the GOOP stick better.

Here’s what mine looked like when they were ready to be installed:



The next step is to CAREFULLY apply the GOOP. Use JUST A LITTLE on both the inner center section of the repair clip and the spine of the Case… GOOP is stronger when applied to both surfaces. It would be a good idea to test fit and mark it so the GOOP doesn’t end up all over the place. After applying, install the clips. (I found that I had to use the needle nose pliers to gently pull out on the front edge of a clip to slide it into place and install it.) Don’t count on the stuff alone to hold the clip on. Both clips should fit tightly without it. The GOOP is there just to prevent the clips from sliding around on the spine of the Case.

I left about a one-eighth (1/8) inch space on the left outside and right outside edges of each clip, respectively, from the corresponding ends of the Hinge Bracket.

Here’s the finished product, installed on the Case:

There’s a good bit of shaping/reshaping, bending/re-bending and filing involved with this repair. Take your time and work CAREFULLY to get a finished product you can be proud of, and that will also last a long time.

While it’s only been several days since I created and installed the repair clips, I’ve had every indication that this will be a lasting and permanent repair.

It’s a real pity that ZAGG could not have engineered such a repair and made it available to its users; more distressing still is that this feature was not included in the design originally. This lack of product responsibility is enough of a big deal to me that I’d have to take a long look at ZAGG products in the future.

More on ‘The Odyssey Network’

Some time ago while posting the series “Favorite Music Videos” I mentioned a UHF-type overnight music video station broadcasting out of Cocoa Beach, Florida called “ODYSSEY” or “The Odyssey Network.” Before writing that post I had searched online for hours–unsuccessfully–looking for some information about the music service, both to give more insight about it and also to provide a link for more information.

I’ve had several readers since weigh in with their recollections of Odyssey. While I’ve enabled their comments here, I wanted to share the contents of a Billboard magazine article dated March 16, 1985 about the channel. (My thanks to “cj” for sending me a Comment with the link. I apologize for the delay in acknowledging it.)

Here is the article, reproduced in its entirety:

Odyssey Surviving Without Advertising
(New Music Video Service Claims Eight Million Viewers)

By Faye Zuckerman

LOS ANGELES With a viewership claimed at nearly eight million, the fledgling Odyssey Network 24-hour video music service still reports losses at $250,000 monthly, has incurred startup costs nearing $2.5 million, and has yet to secure any advertising revenue.

In fact, admits Tom Shaw, director of programming for the Cocoa Beach, Fla. based network, ‘We have received zero revenue from advertising.’ He adds. however, ‘When we went on the air Jan. 5, we had zero affiliates, and expected to pick up 400,000 viewers in 35 days.’

By Jan. 6, Odyssey had reached the 400,000 subscriber mark, airing on selected cable services and VHF and UHF tv stations. Three days later, Shaw says, the network saw its viewership jump to three million. ‘We projected reaching that figure in two years,’ he notes.

When will the supposedly advertising-supported music service break even, and can it stay afloat until then? Shaw contends the parent company, Nova Communications Network, is committed to keeping the channel alive for at least two years. ‘We have enough money to stay broadcasting for two years with selling a single ad,’ he claims.

Odyssey’s Shaw expresses confidence about securing advertising dollars for the two-month-old network, which he notes is just now approaching Madison Ave. with market research on its operations. Its programming primarily features urban contemporary music, with some pop mixed in, according to Shaw.

He admits that getting a foothold in the advertising arena might not be as easy as securing affiliates, especially when the programming is free. ‘It’s a step-by-step process. First we needed subscribers. Now it’s time to get the advertisers by making them aware of us and who we are reaching,’ Shaw observes.

‘We are the first national 24-hour music service on-line and broadcasting to areas not yet wired for cable. Many of our viewers are getting exposure to clips on a constant basis for the first time.’

Odyssey’s only other competitor to date is Discovery Music Network, which will go on-line June 1. A spokesperson for the channel says that company officials are not ready to say how many tv stations or cable services it has secured.

Odyssey Network currently boasts of having already signed broadcast contracts with 93 cable services and 24 television stations, nine of which are network affiliates. Participating stations include WRBV in Philadelphia, Tulsa’s WGTV, Salt Lake City’s KUTB and KTNV in Las Vegas.

The television stations generally air the channel six hours daily. Shaw says certain ABC and NBC affiliates broadcast the music channel as late night programming. ‘CBS provides after-hours tv shows for its stations, so they didn’t sign on with us,’ he explains.

Thus far, Odyssey’s programming hasn’t attempted to match the programming style of MTV, the premier 24-hour music video service. There are no VJs, no contests, few voiceovers and only one special segment, a top 12 video countdown.

Odyssey airs clips back-to-back, with designated unsold advertising spots. By early fall, Shaw plans to start featuring a VJ. ‘We have already started a nationwide search for one,’ he adds.

‘We are getting negative reactions to VJs,’ Shaw contends. ‘Only the record companies seem to like them because they promote their artists.’

As for MTV’s exclusivity pacts with several major record labels, Shaw asserts that Odyssey feels little if any impact. ‘Many of the artists we feature are not included in the agreements. We don’t care about waiting out a grace period. Most of our viewers are not cable households anyway.

‘Besides, maybe a 24-hour music service will come along and offer record companies a better price for videos.’ Meanwhile, Odyssey prides itself on airing a combination of urban and suburban video fare not generally shown on MTV or its sister service VH-1.”

While this article is certainly a big help in understanding how Odyssey began, it tells only part of the story. What happened to it? Did it merge with another service, or did it just fade away?

If anyone knows of, or has any more knowledge about the Odyssey Network, please send it along in the Comments section. Thanks in advance.

Cheaters.

There are rules set into place that we are all to follow. When an individual or group ventures outside of–or runs afoul of–these rules, there is a term often used for this individual or group.

Cheater.

It can be something simple or complex–perhaps the offender or offenders were not aware of the violated rule or rules. Or, perhaps there was a deliberate attempt made to circumvent or disregard the same.

It’s a little easier to accept the first example; much harder to forgive the second.

BUT–what if an individual or team cheated TWICE?

In 1919 the Chicago White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. It later came out that eight players from the Sox had accepted money from professional gamblers in exchange for essentially playing poorly enough to lose World Series games, “fixing” the games so those gamblers could place bets on the Reds and win what was now a sure thing.

The Commissioner of Major League Baseball banned these players forever from the Hall of Fame.

Former baseball great Pete Rose holds the record for the most hits in MLB history. In August of 1989, without admitting guilt, Rose agreed to a permanent ban from the HOF after he was accused of betting on games while manager of the Reds. (In 2008 Rose finally confirmed this activity, but said he did not bet on those games involving his own team.)

Baseball takes cheating very seriously. Witness how hard it has come down on players that have tried to gain a competitive edge–Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, etc.–through the use of performance-enhancing drugs or altered equipment (“corked bats”).

There is a difference between seeking a competitive edge and going over the line by deliberately breaking the rules. (Just ask Richard Nixon, if he were still with us and would actually answer truthfully.)

In early 2008 the New England Patriots were found guilty of secretly videotaping opponent’s practices, going back perhaps many years. There’s too much to that story to go into here–check the link–but let’s just say that, apparently in order to gain a competitive edge, the team secretly and clandestinely recorded the practices of opposing teams for study later.

There’s no way around this–they cheated. They broke the rules. That activity is NOT ALLOWED, and the activity itself raises serious moral and ethical questions as to the violator’s intent.

On January 10, 2015, the Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens in an NFL Playoff Divisional game. Near the end of the game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh became visibly upset and even drew an Unsportsmanlike penalty for coming onto the field after the Patriots had run several plays using different players in unusual scrimmage positions. (Basically, the Ravens had players covering Patriots that were lined up in a receivers position but had no intentions on catching the ball, but the ones that did catch passes were not in the established position to do so, and were not covered.)

Again–attempting to gain a competitive edge. But, this time it was legal. But barely.

So, you see the pattern here: a team that will stop at almost nothing to gain another Super Bowl ring. While it’s one thing to paint the visiting team’s locker room pink in an effort to gain the competitive edge, it’s another to go over the line…

…like say, tampering with equipment–like, under-inflating footballs.

It’s not a big deal if, say, the Jets did it. The Jets finished 4-12, hardly did them any good.

Oh, it’s the PATRIOTS that did that? Wait…isn’t that team in the Super Bowl?

Ah.

EXACTLY.

The St. Louis Rams’ Marshall Faulk STILL BELIEVES that Spygate–the videotaping–cost his team Super Bowl XXXVI.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is, it’s a team that HAS ALREADY BEEN CAUGHT CHEATING ONCE. A team, remember, that found a way around the rules by–not illegally, mind you–reading between the lines and confounding another team, the Ravens, with little-used positional tricks. (Here’s some more history.)

And–get this–the Ravens actually tipped off the Indianapolis Colts–the team the Pats faced in the AFC Championship game–about the improperly inflated balls.

There is a Bleacher Report article that is almost required reading on this matter:

“Cheating Scandals Will Forever Tarnish Brady-Belichick Legacy” .

Last time, Belichick was fined $500K; the team was fined $250, 000 and lost a first round draft pick.

Belichick claims no knowledge of the improperly-inflated footballs.

Seriously, Bill? Didn’t you also claim no knowledge of the videotaping, as well?

Oh that’s right. YOU DID.

Baseball has dealt with its scandals in its own way. Now, Roger Goodell must deal with the NFL’s latest. Considering his past failings, the commissioner has to feel he must get this one right.

I think there’s only one acceptable solution: Belichick must be suspended for the Super Bowl. Seem too harsh? Remember Bountygate, and that New Orleans head coach Sean Peyton was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the subsequent coverup of the evidence. (Bountygate involved Saints players playing for an “injury pool” to deliberately cause injury to certain opposing players). Consider that the head coach, ESPECIALLY after Spygate and Bountygate, MUST be held accountable for ALL that his team does. He must know all. Considering that, there’s actually quite a bit of support for this argument. He must pay the price. Maybe even suspend him for a few games next season.

If he’s still the Patriots head coach, that is. Reporter Tom E. Curran of CSNNE isn’t so sure he’ll be back, thinks owner Robert Kraft might actually consider firing him, per the video included in the piece and this quote:

The Patriots cannot comport themselves with a “do business as business is being done” mentality. They forfeited the right to that mentality in 2007 when they got pinched for filming defensive signals and the 72 miles of fire and sharp glass the team got dragged through as a result should have convinced them.

If it didn’t, in March of 2008 should have. That’s when Belichick and Robert Kraft had to stand up at the NFL Owner’s Meetings in West Palm Beach and apologize to the assembled owners, head coaches and general managers of the other 31 franchises for the Spygate scandal.

At those meetings, owners unanimously approved a policy proposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell titled “Integrity of the Game and Fair Competition.” It required all owners, executives and head coaches to certify annually that they have complied with league rules and policies and have reported any violations they know.

Real big deal was made of it. It was Goodell’s baby. Goodell is Kraft’s boy, probably more so than Belichick.

Spygate caused the league embarrassment. It caused Kraft humiliation. In Gary Myers’ 2012 book called Coaching Confidential Kraft recounted this exchange

“How much did this help us on a scale of 1 to 100?” Kraft reportedly asked Belichick.

“One,” Belichick replied.

“Then you’re a real schmuck,” Kraft said he told Belichick.

Even if Belichick had no clue this was being done (if it was being done), it will be painted as a lack of institutional control. It will also be implausible because Bill could be on another floor and know within 20 seconds if somebody misses a trash can with an apple core in that place.

….

Like it or not, the clock may start ticking on arguably the greatest coach in NFL history.

Nothing personal. Just business.

So there you have it. Scenario: Belichick is suspended from Super Bowl; Patriots lose game. Kraft summarily fires him (or they agree to “a parting of the ways”)…Belichick goes on to coach, say, the Oakland Raiders and is effectively removed from any more championships (personnel needs, etc.–and no Tom Brady).

How about that for a legacy?

Go ahead. Making a great legacy into an eventual tragedy? Ask Richard Nixon about it.

My Thoughts: Best Rock Drummer Ever

So this morning I’m watching “Sunday NFL Countdown” on ESPN, and they keep playing this ANNOYING 30 second cologne ad (Dior Homme Eau for Men–this longer version is uncensored, no nudity but definitely NOT annoying). The only good thing about it is the music, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. And, after a few viewings, then it occurs to me….

IMHO, the best drummer in rock and roll history is:

Led Zeppelin’s John “Bonzo” Bonham.

For some of you, that’s probably no surprise.

I’ve got a short list of guys whose work I’ve admired over the years. For example, I’ve always liked the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts–while not spectacular, he’s been a good consistent drummer throughout his career. Phil Collins is much more high profile–his work has a more distinct style and sound than most. The Who’s Keith Moon was a very loud drummer–he didn’t just play the drums, he attacked them.

While I’ve enjoyed the work of all these artists, I would not have considered any of them to be my favorite. That honor has belonged to Bill Bruford, who played with King Crimson and Yes (amongst others). The way he tuned his drums for his certain trademark sound, almost a hollow tom tom-like beat–listen to the middle 8 of Yes’ “Yours Is No Disgrace” for a great example–his work made the musicians around him and their collected music better. It’s hard to hear any of his stuff and not come away with a better understanding and appreciation of the art of playing the drums.

Still, Bruford played primarily with progressive rock bands. For the pure driving force required from a good rock drummer, I believe you need look no further than Bonham.

And the readers of Rolling Stone magazine apparently agree…or, at least they did in 2011, when he was named “Best Drummer of All Time.”

I think it’s telling that, while The Who decided to continue on without Moon, Led Zeppelin called it quits after Bonzo died–he was that good, irreplaceable.

Listen to any of Zep’s music: from the sheer joy of the high-hat cymbal/bass drum sound in “Bront-Y-Aur Stomp” to the brassy cymbal opening of “Rock and Roll” to the pure power beats that drive “When the Levee Breaks” to the moment when “Stairway to Heaven” kicks into high gear with Bonham’s entrance halfway in–and of course, the aforementioned “Whole Lotta Love” (with too many more to mention)–and you might just agree with me.

Good drummers keep the band in correct time…the best ones do so with style.