Last week was fantastic. Sunday, I had a pair of great baseball games. Tuesday, most of the order came in for the new basketball shot clocks I've been trying for the last two years to get. Wednesday, I got the new driver boards installed in the old scoreboards. They worked, except they only responded to the old controller, not the new one that was required to run the shot clocks simultaneously. I figured out how to jumper the drivers' address plugs so they would respond, and by the end of Thursday had figured out the wiring changes this would require (including construction of a digit to show the quarter, as new boards don't use the one-dot-per-quarter method anymore. Friday, it occurred to me that surely, Daktronics must have a simpler way to deal with this, and called their tech support line. Sure enough, I needed to use an address not listed in the manuals we received. That would be "go" for Saturday.
Friday, football upset Bonita Vista in their first round playoff game. I knew we could beat BV, as we'd only lost to them the second week of the season because we played so badly. The game started out scary, as they quickly drove 80 yards to score on their first possession, as if our defense wasn't there. But we got it back five minutes later on a 69-yard pass to Dan Lofton. Lofton has had problems catching anything but the easiest passes all year, so it was something for him to pull this one in.
Down 14-7 with 23 seconds to go in the first half, we stopped BV 4th and long to take over on our own 29 yard line. Two plays got us to their 45 with 5 seconds remaining. McKillop threw a certain-TD bomb to Lofton which bounced off his chest as time expired. Seeing the same old Lofton had me wondering if the solid play we'd shown the rest of the first half was about to fade away.
Nope. Both the offense and defense were outstanding in the second half. Two long scoring drives for touchdowns, and a 58-yard TD pass to Lofton, who would end the night with 5 receptions for 175 yards and two TDs. We held BV to four-and-out two out of five possessions, intercepted passes on two more, and dropped an intercepted pass on the one drive they scored on. One of our receivers suffered a concussion on the kickoff play following the BV TD, leaving the field on an ambulance. (He waved as they loaded him up, so it wasn't the neck injury I feared from the long time he laid motionless. That's a huge relief.) BV was offsides on that kickoff, and tried an onside kick on the replay, which we fell on. We went four-and-out on a fake punt that wasn't quite successful. (Brandon Sullivan only got 4 of the 9 yards we needed.) No matter, the second interception came on the very next play.
By Saturday morning, I'm flying. Everything has gone right. My People have done good things, and I have Got Shit Done. Saturday starts out well... we ran three intrasquad basketball scrimmages, followed by team dinner at the McMillins'. That ended fairly early (by my schedule) so I stopped at school to pull the new scoreboard control wire I had planned on. It wasn't strictly neccessary, I'd run the scrimmages on the old cables, but I thought it a good idea, and now was the right time to do it. That started out well, too. It took me an hour and a half to re-pull the 50' feed to the south scoreboard, using the old RG-6 in lieu of a fish tape, and install the new connectors.
This is when Somebody decided I needed a kick in the pants for vanity, or something like that. I started re-pulling the line to the north board. It's a longer run, about 160', as it's on the opposite side of the court from the control point. I started pulling out the first of the two coax lines, and twelve feet in, it got difficult. I figured it was just the first bend in the pipe, so I kept pulling harder. The cable snapped. Shit. My end now terminated some fifteen feet inside the pipe, and the other end was drawn in that twelve feet. I walked the path again, making sure there wasn't a box or an elbow somewhere I'd missed. There wasn't. I considered abandoning the attempt... if the same thing happened with the second cable, I'd have a possibly-obstructed pipe with no way to reach either end of either cable. No, no, no... this wouldn't happen twice. I went ahead and started pulling the second cable, with my new wire attached to the other end.
It snapped too. Now I'm fucked. Now I'm really fucked. I had two scoreboards working, and now I'd made it impossible to communicate with one of them. And it was the only one with the team foul displays we need for basketball. I can't have that. I need an alternate plan. I need something, or I've royally disappointed people I've done good things for, which is one of the worst things I could do. The cable is low-voltage, so I could fish it around the baseboard... it's not ideal, but it's possible. Running it across the ceiling is out, as the scaffold in the gym won't reach high enough. The last option is rush-ordering the radio control option for the boards. That's expensive. And it might not show up in time for the first game, since Thanksgiving throws a hiccup into everybody's operations.
I packed up and went home, extremely upset, planning to call my dad in the morning for advice. And preparing myself to shell out a lot of money on Monday morning if he had nothing practical to offer.
My alarm went off this morning at 6. I heard pouring rain outside. And thunder. The room lit up with a flash, and there was more thunder. Wild... I overheard one of the players on the bus to Friday's game mentioned thunderstorms. I had downplayed it, saying we almost never got them here, though I'd pay money for one, just for something different. Lo and behold, here it was. And that helped me... just before I went to bed, it occurred to me that I had two strands of RG-6 coax in a 3/4" pipe. There was room left in that pipe. If I broke down and picked up a long enough fish tape, I might still be able to run my line through that pipe. This rain would surely kill my baseball game at 9. I reset my alarm for 7, as Home Depot doesn't open 'till 8, and went back to sleep, enjoying the meteorological taste of home.
A little after 7, my cell phone started buzzing. Nate had no working 'net, and needed me to look up (and call) the league's game day phone to check for a rainout. He was down at SDSU, where it had just started storming. I figured our game was off, given the field is just outside Poway and it had been storming here for an hour. The league didn't have word on the field, so they weren't canceling us yet, but I should call back later. The way the weather works around here, it is possible that field didn't get rained on, though it lays nearly on a direct line between my house and Nate's college apartment. I've seen stranger things just within Poway. With 30 minutes to go, there was still no word on the field (though most of the others were listed on the recording I got,) I drove down and verified it was underwater. We were off, and as a bonus, our kids' game at 1 was off too. Home Depot was on the way home, so I got my fish tape.
I came home, showered, dressed, and went to lunch. Finally made it to the school about 1:00 and got to work. I started feeding my fish tape in from the junction box below the scoreboard. I assumed the pipe ran around the edge of the gym, so when the tape started resisting me 50 feet in, I figured I'd just hit the bend in the corner. It was harder to push, but it was still moving. The two cables in the pipe were causing friction, but they weren't stopping me. Another fifty feet later (of shorter, 3-inch-at-a-time shoves) the tape just stopped. It wasn't hitting something hard, but it wasn't going any further, and it wasn't in the control point junction box. I figured maybe it was the last bend, and the flat steel tape wasn't making the turn properly. I backed it up two feet, turned the tape 90 degrees, and pushed it back in. It fought me, but it pushed through. For another eight feet, then it stopped again. I twisted it, I rattled it, I backed it up and tried again, but no dice. It really wasn't going. And by my estimate, it was about 10-15 feet from the other end, I was almost there. Fuck. This really wasn't going to work out, was it?
I walked the edge of the floor again, with my flashlight out looking for the pipe, or hidden boxes, or anything that could explain the problem. I looked down the wall into the space between it and the edge of the floor closest to the control point. I could see two 3/4" PVC pipes bending out to follow the wall from a line centered on that floor box. Maybe something had broken the pipe, or somebody drove a nail through it? I laid down the cable ends I'd pulled from the pipe yesterday night, approximating the path of the pipe, and they ended just in front of the boys' locker room door, twelve feet from the control point. Telling...
I pulled up the door threshholds, and saw my pipe laying in the channel before them. And where the doorway ended, I saw the PVC pipe pinched by the wood floor! Someone had done repairs to the floor, and the outermost strip of wood was much newer than the rest of the floor. That strip was pinching the pipe. It hadn't broken the cables inside, but it surely must be causing enough friction to stress and snap the coax when I tried to pull it out, and the kink must be blocking my fish tape. Right next to the door was the pipe and junction box leading to the obsoleted mic jacks for the old PA system, which came up next to my scoreboard control point. I thought maybe if I could jump over to that along the wall (running exposed, but below the kick plates at low voltage wouldn't be very risky at all) and fish over to my box under the floor. I pulled that wire, then ran home to get my Dremel to cut open the pipe.
Opening the pipe, I found the orphaned coax. I was able to pull out the length passing through the kink without trouble, and the rest of it came out with nearly no effort at all. (It even pulled the fish tape through that I'd backed up before cutting the pipe.) I attached my control wire to the fish tape and easily pulled it the 140 feet to the junction box. I finished connecting it to the scoreboard, and was ready to give the pipe one last shot from the other end. I left enough wire at the pipe cut to pull through just in case I could get the fish tape past the kink from the other direction. Lo and behold, I could.
In the end, the project was finished as planned. I got a kick in the pants, but I was also granted the circumstances neccessary to make it right. I had an obstacle to deal with, and not an easy one, but it was one I could handle.
As a small bonus, I also have that wire I ran through the old audio box, which gives me a scoreboard control jack on the wall (instead of out in the corner of one of the practice courts,) which is something I've also wanted for a while.