Widgets Magazine

Et Tu Adaptor

By: Steven Brawner
As we go through our daily tasks, we all have things that we just depend on to be there when we need them. When you turn the key, your work vehicle will start, and swiping your card for lunch won’t leave you embarrassed and hungry. It will always take you an extra 5 minutes to get out of the door because each kid (and your incredible wife) needs some affection before you leave, and when you take out your test equipment, it will do what it is designed to do.
Today started like most any other day, but it was going to get very, um, interesting. This job is a takeover from an out of business integrator, and the reason for their demise could easily be workmanship, but we will save that story for another day. As is usually the case, the wiring labels are either nonexistent, illegible, or wrong. So, out comes the trusty wire mapper and off to work I go.
Being on this project alone was extra fun because nothing says productive like walking from the back of a basement to the top floor of a three-story home to trace the wiring. We have all used adaptors to go from one type of cable termination to another. That is what they are for, and they sure come in handy when tracking multiple termination styles.
In my twelve years in the residential/commercial industry, and five years previous in the car audio industry, I have never had an adaptor that was bad. Thousands of chances to let me down but the adaptor always had my six. As I move to a different room, I realize that I need a different adaptor on each end to trace RCA terminations, so I reach in my trusty testing case and pull out the two I needed. I snap together the fittings and start testing…. Oh, that’s strange, none of the cables are transmitting signals to the basement.
After several different cables being tested to no avail, I did what we all do; I changed the battery in my tester. Being fully convinced that I had this problem handled, my testing starts up again…Hmmm, this can’t be right, still no signal transmission. Now I am convinced that the cables must lead somewhere else first, and they are hanging loose in that random location.
A full forensic search of the home, I’m talking NCIS/Law and Order efficiency, and I find nothing. At this point, I have traversed more steps than Richard Simmons on an old VHS, and I still have no idea what is going on. Feeling a bit defeated, and more than a bit tired, I break it down to most common factor and start checking my tester and adaptors. There, in what used to be the land of my people, my ride or die, my beloved always reliable adapter was the problem.
Somehow a BNC male/RCA female adaptor was completely missing its internal parts (see picture). What is this blasphemy? Treason in the highest degree!! I felt a bit betrayed, but mostly silly.
You see, we all have those things we come to rely on, and those very things cloud our judgment and cause us to miss the obvious. The very first thing you learn in electronics troubleshooting is to work your way through the problem from one end to the other. It appears those directions contain more wisdom than I could have imagined. Lesson re-learned. Stay amazing my friends.

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