In earlier times.

43″ Roku TV replacement

2.5 years ago, we suffered a lightning-pocalypse.

Last month, in a coincidence-pocalypse, I lost a tablet and phone.

Now, a mere mono-pocalypse: our old 2002 36″ tube TV in the den finally gave up the ghost.

But it isn’t really a bad thing.

We got an extra 2.7 years out of it by purchasing an HDMI-to-component video converter to use with our then-new TiVo (Replace the old TV?).

I had worried that the old TV either wouldn’t last much longer, or would last too long, so this is about right.

I also had not looked forward to hauling off the 217 lb. monster.

That problem was solved by buying the replacement at Best Buy.

Best Buy delivered the new one and hauled away the old one for a total of $35. Well worth it!

Our plan to replace all tube TVs with flat screens is now complete.

Except for the 1983 13″ Emerson TV in our workout room.

It is able to display the TiVo’s output with the aid of an X10 video sender/receiver pair.

It’s also completely controllable with the TiVo’s RF remote.

Perfect for limited use and nostalgia.

A 43″ Sharp Roku TV is the replacement.

TiVo channel on Roku TV

DVD/VCR channel on Roku TV

Roku TV displays HDMI inputs (and one composite input) as Roku channels.

So TiVo becomes one of many channels selectable with the Roku remote. If you select it, then pick up the TiVo remote to control it.

If you start with the TiVo remote, you can turn on the TV, then use the Input button to switch to the TiVo “channel”. Perfect.

My own 5-in-1 X10 learning universal remote for the den, which I had outlandishly stretched to be a 7-in-1, just became a 6-in-1, since the Roku and TV merged. The simplification made it easier to use.

My wife uses the separate TiVo and Roku remotes.

The nice thing is that our cord-cutting savings over the last 2.75 years have much more than paid for all of our tube-to-flat-screen upgrades.

I can now put the HDFury Gamer 2 HDMI-to-component video converter on eBay and recover most of its cost.

HDFury Gamer 2

Williams' Funhouse

Williams’ Funhouse pinball game on the Wii


A lightning strike earlier this year took out the two component inputs to our plasma TV.

As a result, I have had to use the composite TV input (yellow, red & white RCA plugs) with the Wii. But I pine for the higher resolution and picture quality of component in the detailed pinball art of the Gottlieb and Williams Collections for the Wii.

I was getting ready to add a fatalistic comment about the expensive HDMI-to-component converter that bought a few more years for our flat-tube TV:

“At least when the TV blows up, I can reuse the converter with the Wii to connect it to an HDMI input.”

Then I realized that the Wii would be going from component to HDMI, not vice-versa. Would it work the other way? Unlikely.

I was right, it wouldn’t work (looked it up). But it turns out that a component-to-HDMI converter costs a whole lot less.

Wiimcomponent-to-HDMI converter.

Wii component-to-HDMI converter

Found a specialized Wii to HDMI Video Audio Converter 720P 1080P HD Output Converter at Amazon for $13.72, less than a tenth of HDMI-to-component!

The original Wii is at best capable of 480p resolution (same as non-Blu-ray DVDs), and that’s only with a special Wii component video/audio cable, like I used to use.

But the new converter can upscale to 720p or 1080p, so possibly it will look better than it did before.

I’ll let you know how it works out in the comments section when I get it. (It shipped from Hong Kong, so it might be a week or two.)

Currently free to view for Amazon Prime users: “Special When Lit – A Pinball Documentary”. I really enjoyed it. Next time I’m in Vegas, I’m heading for the Pinball Hall of Fame, shown in the movie.

Read about other related movies and items at Pinball, Real & Virtual in the TTM aStore.

best-buy-recyclingI’ve been a slacker on this blog for the last couple of weeks, but not from a lack of topics to discuss.

To get back into the flow, I will mention the great recycling service provided by Best Buy.

As recently reported here, a lightning strike killed a number of devices in our house. (Read all about it in the trilogy of posts ending with Lightning, round #3.)

Two of the three items I recently bequeathed to Best Buy were casualties. One was the toasted Denon A/V receiver, the other a 1989 vintage 20″ tube TV that wasn’t all that great before the strike gave it bizarro color.

The third item was a 2006 13″ tube TV, originally bought at Best Buy, which we used with an X10 receiver in the kitchen (the sender was hooked up to the DVR, then the TiVo). We had to periodically whack it to get the sound working, and the picture was washed out. Its replacement will be the topic of another post.

I hauled the items over to Best Buy, loaded them into a shopping cart, and the service desk took them without any further ado. I still have a few smaller items I will unload on a future trip.

Acceptable items for each state are listed at Best Buy Recycle.

Included are: TV (max 32″ tube TVs), VCR/DVD, DTV Converters, Rechargeable Batteries, Car Audio & GPS, Digital Cameras & Camcorders, Mobile Phones, CDs, Video Games & Gadgets, Computers. Check the site for further detail.

This blog will be 1 year old on August 6. I need to shoehorn in a few more posts by then!

Casualties. Upper left: cable modem; Upper right: receiver logic board for garage door opener; Left center: Roku 3; Right center: Powerline adapter; Bottom: answ. machine/phones; Belly-up: Denon AV receiver.

We’ve recovered from the lightning strike/EMP, and it’s not as bad as it could have been.

All the computers came through unscathed. I sure wouldn’t have predicted that, even though they all had surge protection.

A $17 replacement Powerline adapter from eBay restored internet/home network access to the media room, after getting by one little hitch:

When I first plugged in the replacement, I confirmed that it was functioning from the router side, but it didn’t register on the media room’s gigabit switch. I plugged it into a different port on the switch, and the port lit up! Evidently just one port was blown without killing the rest of the switch. So I now have a 4-port rather than a 5-port switch.

Re the Wii and the DVD recorder, I thought they might both be dead, since I saw no video output from them. (They both had surge protection.) But they had in common that they were plugged into the COMPONENT1 and COMPONENT2 video jacks on the plasma TV. Component is high quality video like HDMI, but obsolete as a standard for new AV equipment.

Both devices are also capable of outputting the lesser quality composite video (yellow video plug, red & white audio plugs), and they worked perfectly that way. So it appeared that the TV’s component inputs might be blown. To test my theory, I plugged a working DVD/VCR combo with component video output into each of the TV’s component inputs. Blackness. So now I have a plasma TV with HDMI, composite and S-video, but no component video inputs. (A year or two ago, I added HDMI inputs with an HDMI switch.)

(I looked at the TV’s service manual online. The likely point of failure is the Sanyo IC3001 chip. It is the main audio/video switching processor, with 100 pins, too sensitive to try to replace. Numerous brands of TV have this chip, and it has a history of damage from static discharge. Since the lightning strike was the mother of all discharges, we got off pretty light.)

The DVD recorder doesn’t have much to record these days, though I could record Netflix streaming with it if desired. I do all my broadcast TV recording with Windows Media Center, and my wife does hers with the TiVo Roamio OTA. But the DVD recorder has digital optical audio output, so it can serve as a high quality CD player as well as an alternate DVD player.

I’ll miss playing the Wii in 480p resolution on the big TV, but c’est la wii. Maybe someday I’ll acquire the Wii U, which is backward compatible, but no rush.

My aforementioned friend Tim previously gave me one of his estate sale finds, a video switch that selects one of four composite/component/S-video inputs, either manually or automatically. I will now be able to put it to work. I have an S-video output from the DVD recorder. (S-video is higher quality than composite.) Composite inputs: a VCR, a karaoke box, and a Wii. The DVD recorder will plug directly into VIDEO1 on the TV to take advantage of its S-video input, and the rest will be attached to this switch and routed to VIDEO2. Perfect. Thanks, Tim.

The duplicate of my blown Denon 2802 AV receiver (which also had been surge protected) arrived yesterday via eBay, and in mint condition as advertised.

I’m sure glad I labelled all the cords with our Brother P-touch label maker. When working on wiring behind the TV, I sweat like Barney, the “Mission: Impossible” electronics expert, strike poses like a Tai Chi adherent, and squint like a miner in the inadequate light.

I hope this was a once in a lifetime experience.

(PS: Tim is reducing his stock of wireless estate sale phones, so we are again the beneficiaries. He gave us a couple of Uniden phones and a Radio Shack standalone answering machine for the kitchen. Thanks again, Tim!)

(PPS: I later discovered one more expensive casualty: the Sony SA-WM40 powered subwoofer. The speaker itself was OK, but the amplifier board was dead. Video Revolution wanted almost as much to fix it as the original cost in 2002 ($250 at Ultimate Electronics), so I let them keep it and bought a BIC America F-12 for $199 online. It is definitely a big improvement.)

Courtesy of the Admiral Twin Drive-in

Saturday pm at the Admiral Twin (photo courtesy of the Twin)

In the previous post, Lightning-pocalypse Saturday, I detailed the damage done to our electronics by a nearby lightning strike. There was a lot of carnage. Post-triage, here are my actions:

Dead cable modem: With no internet service other than my wife’s iPhone, I wondered where to go in Tulsa for a used cable modem. Then I thought of my friend Tim, whose hobby is hitting estate sales for electronics. He loaned me a couple of cable modems to try. I started with a 2001 vintage Motorola. As previously with the Linksys modem, I called Cox tech support, and they were helpful as always. The rep asked for the hardware address and serial number (found on the bottom of the device), registered them, and activated the modem from his side. It was even easier than the last time. The biggest immediate problem was solved Saturday afternoon.

Phone service: We use an an Ooma Telo (internet phone), so we lost the phones when the cable modem went out. I only had to reboot the Ooma device to restore service once the new cable modem was in. It worked, except the wireless phones showed a “line in use” message even after hanging up. When I hung up then tried to get a dial tone again, I got the phone-off-the-hook-somewhere beeps. I got out my 1980s plain, no-power phone. It worked perfectly with Ooma. I isolated the problem to an injured answering machine-base phone/remote phone set. Once it was removed, all was well. We still have three working phones.

Maimed AV (Audio/Video) Receiver: Our 2002 Denon receiver still responds to remote control, but there is no sound. My research suggests that the Digital Signal Processor is the likely culprit, but replacement parts aren’t available. My speakers still work with another amp, so looks like the receiver is toast. A used receiver from eBay is the way to go here. I found an exact replacement in mint condition for $150 total. But there are many other and newer choices available that could be cheaper, possibly by as much as $50 or more. However, receivers haven’t evolved that much since 2002, except in the useless features department. They are still complex and still have thick opaque manuals. (This CNET article crystallized my thinking on the subject: How to save the AV Receiver). Buying a different model would necessitate my researching each one to make sure it can do everything I need it to do before bidding on it. I can’t save enough $$ there to make it worth all the trouble (including a complex and different setup, and redoing every function on the Harmony remote), so I ordered the mint Denon duplicate on Sunday.

Maimed garage door opener: Appears the motor is toast, though the light still works. I’m not a handyman, so I called Overhead Door Monday. (Fixed on Tuesday; the Receiver Logic Board was fried, not the motor, which makes more sense in retrospect. Same day, happened to receive in the mail one of those Val-Pak coupons for $20 off service, so there is that.)

Dead Powerline adapter in the media room: Getting internet (and local network access) in that room depends on a Powerline adapter talking over the AC house wiring to its counterpart attached to the router, which is attached to the cable modem. The dead adapter also prevented me from remotely accessing the Windows PC in there (I had gotten rid of its bulky CRT monitor). From eBay, I ordered a pair of refurbished Netgear XAVB2101 adapters for $34. Should be here by Thursday.

Dead Roku 3: It wouldn’t power up. I still had a Roku LT, so it went back into service. But it won’t have anything to do until the receiver is replaced.

Maimed DVD recorder and Wii: Appears neither has video output. The DVD recorder isn’t really needed, since I now record shows with Windows Media Center. I had hacked the Wii and added an external hard drive for all its files and games. If it really is dead, I might buy a used one and set it up to use the hard drive. No rush. (They were still usable; see next post.)

X10 Module: Allows remote control of one of those Himalayan salt lamps in the Tiki room. (It looks like a molten lava rock when lit.) It’s plugged into an X10 Lamp Module so it can be turned on/off along with the rest of the lighting in there.) I assumed the module was the weak link. But two different modules didn’t turn it on, so I took the lamp apart and found the light bulb dead. Replaced the bulb, back in service.

That’s all I can do for now, other than label all the cords that plug into the receiver for easy switchover to the duplicate receiver (Done.) The den setup with TV, TiVo, and Roku will get us by until the replacements arrive.

This is all so weird that I am leaning more to the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) explanation, where current is induced in the components by radiated energy, rather than a surge from a direct hit on the power grid. A Facebook reader suggested calling PSO and Cox to check. I sent them both an email. I’ll post any interesting results. (Postscript: they both claimed no knowledge of any outage; CNK, as Southwestern Bell customer service reps used to abbreviate it.)

Regardless of the state of your home electronics, another way to get your movie entertainment this summer is the Admiral Twin Drive-In (see the photo at top). Read more about its history on this TTM page.