Category Archives: Maquina

Leave Your Keys On The Way Out

I moved out of Madison for something like the 6th time today (Christmas break in the dorms included), and my last for the near future. This is my keyring for the PLC, the brains behind the fountain – back in “my day”…


It’s time… if we don’t thaw this ice out now in a somewhat controlled manner, it will thaw itself in a potentially dangerous manner. Did I mention we made hundreds of pounds of ice?

Chris re-aligning our melting hose:
Chris Re-aiming the Hose

Thawing in progress:
Melting The Ice

Capitalizing on this Wisconsin Weather

On Monday, the high temperature was 44°F. On Tuesday, it was 43°F.

On Wednesday, the high was 3°F.

Fortunately, Chris had some foresight to capitalize on the warm days. So, he, Jason, Ben, Justin, and I set about getting the thermostat, heater, thermistor and associated wiring up and running for the mister nozzle we added to the fountain this year. After tracing a whole bunch of old wires up and down the fountain, we found that of 6 wires running up the fountain, only 4 still worked.

…Exactly how many we needed. 🙂

So, after the application of a little elbow grease (mostly on Chris’s part), a lot of volt metering (on all the rest of our parts), some general good engineering principles (:-P), and a little Wisconsin weather, we built this:

Maquina Icicles
Maquina Icicles

Powder Coated Maquina
Powder Coated Maquina

Your Friendly Neighborhood Fountain Repairman

Fountain Repairman.jpg

After the annual cleaning-out of the tree blossoms that clogged the fountain, Chris (pictured) and I turned our attention to a couple misaligned valves and cracked air hoses. And correcting the mistake of one really misguided computer engineer -that would be yours truly- who thought a spigot was leaking like crazy, when in fact, water was simply coming out because he opened it.

Why Water Didn't Come Out the Tower

A Bit of a Leak.jpg

The angle is a little sub-par, but: this is the base of a 30-foot tower full of water. The water is supposed to come out the top. The base has a tap for a garden hose. That tap is pictured here. That tap is closed. Water is coming out anyway. Fast. :-(.

Update: Yeah, actually, no… turns out the spigot was open, and that is why water was coming out. Oops. [/Update]

They "Cleaned" It

So at the Engineering Bash I tried to turn on the fountain. It flooded in about 60 seconds. I jumped to a hasty conclusion that the summer maintenance folks had failed to clean the filters properly, and accused them of such, publicly. Only to have one of those said summer maintenance folks inform me, in person, that he was in fact on cleaning duty this summer and can vouch for it having been done. I was left looking like a jerk, grasping at straws for other explanations, and having to walk away embarrassed.

Today, Tim and I took a look “under the hood” of the fountain to see if we could figure out what, after the assurance of clean filters, could possibly be causing the flooding problem. Here is what we found:

Oh wait: That looks an awful lot like completely clogged filters, leading directly to the flooding we experienced.

15 minutes with a shop vac later, the problem was resolved and the fountain runs fine. So I looked like a jerk for naught, and apparently the maintenance guy and myself have a different perspective on the precise definition of “frequently cleaned.”