Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fixing it on the fly...

Tales of a chief engineer.
Part 181: The lightswitch.

One day the switch for the studio overhead lights broke. The DJs had limped along using the light from the window most of the day - and for some reason, the student center maintenance guy was unavailable, and would be for some time.

So the call went out to find me... the Chief Engineer. Most of the time, I'd be the one to grab a soldering gun, or a bunch of patch cords... but today then needed me to play with line voltage.

A light switch, I thought... that's nothing. I'd been helping my uncle on general contracting work in NYC for the past 5 summers and tackled far worse things than a light switch.

Rudi, XCI's business manager, and I ran out to a local hardware store, (it might have been the one with the 5 cent cokes across from the RR station) and got a replacement dimmer switch. When we got back, we took the cover off, pulled the old dimmer switch out a bit... and then I realized, "Hey... This is a potentially live circuit."

One of the wires was live, and a finger across the two would close the connection.
"Does anyone know where the breakers are in the student union? Anyone? Anyone?... No?... anyone?"

Even if we did... do we know which one was connected to the overhead lights? Well, I knew a quick way to find out (with a heavy duty screw driver) - but there was a chance, it could have turned off the whole studio.


It was inconceivable to sign off, just to change a light switch - I mean... XCI was on the air for cryin out loud... wasn't that the most important thing in the universe???

Alrighty then. So... carefully... making sure to hold all the tools by their plastic insulating material, I disconnected the old switch, and connected the new one... without letting XCI miss a beat.

I think I might have missed a beat myself once or twice when my screwdriver slipped a bit, but otherwise the proceedure worked (and I'm here to tell about it).

I have to say, that's the closest I ever came to inflight-refueling, or performing open heart surgery. I lost my regulator on an80 foot dive once while my mask was filling with water... it was kind of like that. Not much different than hearing a song end, when you have nothing cued up.... except for the life threatening aspect or finger smoking potential, of course.

Good times.


Post a Comment

<< Home