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MMD > Archives > May 2005 > 2005.05.03 > 04Prev  Next

Drop Testing A Piano
By Bill Finch

In the early days of cable TV, HBO was scheduled to run a thirty-minute
"filler" program about orchestrions and band organs. Betamax had not
been invented at the time. Everything was reel-to-reel, and
black-and-white at that. A day before the program was broadcast, my
cable reception deteriorated to about 50% noise. Undaunted, I called the
cable provider for service. I needed a copy of this program. How else
could I justify the bundle of cash I had dropped on a Sony CV2600 video

Within an hour a service truck showed up, and I talked to the tech. I
explained my plight. He knew exactly what the problem was. He made no
measurements, inside or out. He donned clamp-on foot spikes and a large
Sam Brown safety belt and climbed the pole at the edge of the property.
He opened a box and unplugged the neighborhood cable distribution
amplifier. He held his arm straight out and dropped the amplifier 20
feet onto the concrete curb. It bent and bounced into the street. As if
by plan, a garbage truck backed out of a neighbor's driveway just at
that time, running over the amplifier of course. It was now quite flat.

The tech installed an updated amplifier and shimmied down the pole. He
told me that he wasn't supposed to do that. The cable company was about
to change owners, and the old owner had instructed the techs to cut
costs to the bone by not installing new equipment unless the existing
equipment ceased to function. He wrote on his form "Non functional
unit - failed drop test."

I was happy. Cable reception was great from that time on. I did record
the program. It covered the Fairground Organ and Steam Fair movement in
England, and also a collection of instruments being exhibited at the
Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Unfortunately I no longer have the
tape -- or the ancient (1969) reel-to-reel video recorder.

One final observation: Isn't it interesting that our 100-year-old
mechanical musical instruments still function, while our much more
recent electronic devices are obsolete and gone? When's the last time
you used a 5.25-inch diskette?

Bill Finch

(Message sent Mon 2 May 2005, 19:24:32 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Drop, Piano, Testing

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