Anna Hegedüs

I have a soldering iron.

Quasar XP1478BH with composite input

I found this adorable little guy in a junk pile in an abandoned house. He's CRT and neckboarda tiny black and white television set with an AM/FM radio built-in. If you like, you can run it off of batteries and it also has the option to fit some sort of battery pack, when you remove the spacers from the battery compartment itself. On the back, there are adjustments for contrast, brightness, and vertical hold, an input for an external antenna, and the socket for the AC adapter. The front folds closed and turns into a convenient carry handle and protector for the front panel. All in all, it's a sweet little relic from the past. Too bad it doesn't

NTSC broadcast television has not existed for quite some time in the United States. Due to the fact that this television receives over the air signals only, the TV could really only pick up static. Technically, you could find an external antenna adapter, plug it in, then use a digital converter to pick up HDTV signals. In fact, that is what I did here. But that's a bit cumbersome, isn't it? Not only that, but there are way better things to use a TV like this Atari games!

After cracking the case open, I quickly discharged the tiny CRT with a screwdriver and a ground wire. I then removed the PCB and found the VIF and SIF demodulator. It is a sound and signal processor for the TV and basically takes what the RF modulator has, turning it into something that the TV can use. The one on this board is the AN5715K.


What you see here is a diagram and pinout of the IC. Pin 4 is audio output from the internal amp, and pin 14 is video output from the video amplifier. Theoretically, if I bypass this with a composite signal, I should be able to get a nice, clear picture on the tube of whatever I choose. Wiring a set of composite jacks to it would allow me to use whatever signal source I want to use. If I want to hook up a game console? Fine! If I want to use a converter box directly, without a modulator, also fine! The VIF/SIF is no longer necessary because we are injecting a signal directly that has no modulation. So with that in mind, I cut pin 9, then took my flat-tipped screwdriver, touching it to the trace leading to pin 14.

TV composite signalYes, that seemed to work. I then took an alligator clip, connected it to a hacked-off composite jack stuck into an HDTV tuner, and tried the audio. On pin 4, we had audio! After tapping ground off of a safe part of the board, I slowly put the unit back together, keeping a small hole in the underside for the composite leads to stick out. I then used some hot glude to secure them, and soldered the lines directly to the pins I had found previously. Everything worked great, and now, in addition to it working as a cute little AM/FM radio, it also has the ability to be a black and white monitor! For what, I don't know, but I'm sure that I will find a use for it sooner or later.

I was thinking that it would be a very cute idea if I were to take a Raspberry Pi and fit it into the battery compartment. With the addition of some Atari 2600 and NES emulators, I could have the heaviest, most awkward portable game console ever conceived, and it would be absolutely beautiful in every way. Another idea that I had was fitting a Google Chromecast into the battery compartment, along with an HDTV to composite adapter. If I am able to do that, I could turn it into a genuine streaming device, capable of displaying classy black and white movies in miniature. I could also use it as a portable radio.



The Watchmaker's Dillema.

large_phge_ad_1.jpgPicture it -- here I am, a person that likes to create. I conceptualize and build, tinker, and love to experiment. It's in my nature.

Running a retail store is an entirely different beast compared to that. Where I am used to sticking behind the counter and soldering or otherwise fixing electronics for people, owning my own shop has caused me to experience things I would not have otherwise seen or done. I am grateful for that, and I will never forget it. Three years may seem like a short period of time, but when it's you, non-stop, for that long, the things you see are kind of imprinted upon you, like ruts in a well-traveled wagon trail.

Someone that sells watches and timepieces for a living can be passionate about their histories and intricacies. Set them down at the worktable though to replace the balance spring in one of those same watches and they'll become flustered, bored, or confused. They're out of their element at the worktable and do much better at keeping the history and selling the product. In other words, there are business people, and then there are engineers. There are thinkers, and then there are dreamers.

Where does that leave the business person that needs to have a technical edge? Usually a company hires a CTO or CSO. That would leave them free to focus on all of the other aspects of running a business. The shop has actually been profitable for a bit, and it hasn't lost me any money for at least a year now, but I am at the point where I cannot run it, have a day job, attend college classes, volunteer for conventions, and do electronics repair house calls, all at the same time. I need some free time to myself to just unwind and relax. Everyone should experience at least one eight hour period of sleep at least once every few months, after all!

large_FB_IMG_1420683122742.jpgWhat will I do next? I've got ideas. I have never had a shortage of things that I have wanted to try or bring to life. Although my physical shop will be gone after September 30th of this year, I will still be in my garage, inventing, tinkering, and planning. There is a beautiful Capcom Bowling in there that needs a new JAMMA harness. I also have my grandfather's 1967 Gottlieb Sing Along pinball machine that needs a little love and care. Stuart has his own ideas about what he wants to do (3D printing). I am also looking into an event services type of business that provides electronic entertainment resources to conventions and private parties.

Besides, the Penn Hills Game Exchange, while it will cease to be as a thing, is not "truly" dead and gone. Pittsburgh has a huge, thriving indie and retro gaming community, of which I will still be an active and participating member. I will still hang around the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Facebook page, attend meetups, and volunteer at many of my friend's shops and stores around the area. You'll probably see my legs sticking out of the back of an arcade cabinet or two, and I can guarantee that you'll see me set up at Steel City Con and other shows. It just wont have the blue banner with the orange joystick. It'll! I'll still buy and sell games, except that now I will get most of my stock from hunting out deals, going to flea markets, attending auctions, and the like. Stuart will be there by my side through it too. Really, not much is changing at all. Don't think about this like the store is closing. Instead, think about it as a new opening. The Penn Hills Game Exchange is everywhere now, not just a damp, dimly-lit storefront.

So as someone who buys, sells, and trades watches, I love it and would do it again if I had the free time to devote to making it the best watch shop that it can be. Unfortunately, I don't think that I can right now at this point in my life. I will have to set it aside for now, but that does not mean that I can't take a few Rolexes apart for a friend's shop, or volunteer for a timepiece convention here or there. All it means is that I have freed myself of the obligation to keep a physical space to do those things outside of my home.

Who are we?

Picture of dadWhat does it mean to actually be a person? Everything you see, touch, smell, taste, or hear, has a tangibility to it that is sensed with the body and implies its existence. If you see a glass of water, it is because that glass is sitting on the table top, filled to the brim with water. If you hear birds singing, it is because there is a robin in the tree, serenading the dewy mornings. Humanity is the one exception to this type of sensation.

With humanity, the body we can see is a crucible and nothing more. It takes food and water to make nourishment. But what is before you is just a container. It is just that vessel in which something else is held. Inside that receptacle is the real treasure. This something is precious, perfect, pure, and infinite. It is what makes us who we are and gives us our personalities, likes, aspirations, motivations, dreams, loves, and desires. 

This essence touches the lives of everyone around us, creating joy and love, warmth, and connection. These bonds last long after the crucible is cold and no longer taking food and water; the bonds will persist as a testament to who we are and what we have done. They are the legacy that we will all leave behind. Our bodies grow old and tired, fading into time like rocks weathered smooth on some long, meandering stream bed called life.

In that way, we are separate from our physical selves. Long after the hearths are fireless and the tables are cleared, the bonds will stand for eternity. The lives we change will forever bear our fingerprints and act as witness to the thing once held inside that physical vessel, long since cast aside for something that religions and prophets have attempted to describe for thousands of years and that science has yet to truly comprehend. 

In summary, you are you, not because of your skin color, the value in your stock portfolio, the length of your hair, the type of clothes you wear, or the job that you do. You are you because of the love you inspire, the relationships you spin, the memories you paint with others, and the stories that others will tell long after your body is gone. The body is temporary and limited in being, but we are all eternal in existence. We are all part of one another as a member of the human condition, and we will persist in the hearts and minds of our friends, family, and neighbors. We will all dwell in the photographs, words, recordings, and memories of everyone who shared in our existences forever.

So while I am here with my father, and his body is struggling against the stream of time, I must constantly remind myself that what I see before me is sad, tragic, and unfair, but ultimately, something that will not take him away from me. The precious things I must not let go of are the love, memories, and experiences that I shared with him.


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February 2016

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