Navi Menu
main blog files profquotes Zygote Asylum contact link junk



Interruptable Power Supply

Filed under: General — 19day @ 02:29:54

So I’ve had yet another hardware issue, but this time with my UPS.

Last thursday, in the morning, my APC Back-UPS ES 500 started making a terrible noise, and I heard vista go duh-dun, the usual sound when a USB device is disconnected, and indeed that moment the monitoring software for the device, PowerChute, invoked a balloon message telling me it lost connection to the UPS. The noise lasted around 5 seconds, and then suddenly stopped, and all was well. I checked the status of the device thought the app which now apparently could connect to the UPS, and it said all was well, though the battery was charging, and was only at 57%. Odd, it hadn’t needed to go to battery in a long while. And the noise was quite alarming, like the sounds of dolphin laughter piped through a broken speaker.

Of course, it didn’t end there. The next day, in the morning, the exact same thing started to happen, and just as I was peeking behind my desk at the UPS to see what might be up, thwump, the computer reboots as gracelessly as possible (and the 4th graceless reboot in a row, all for different reasons). I was quite alarmed, the noise was just as terrible and went on for the 20-30 seconds before the reboot, and then stopped. And the USB had dropped out as well, before the reboot of course. I shut off the computer and unplugged everything from the unit, putting it aside while I rewired everything into the wall sockets.

I started searching the APC knowledge base and such looking for an explanation of this issue, and even resorted to emailing their tech support, which I had done before to get the Vista compatible version of the monitoring app when I ditched my old computer. The trouble is, the thing is supposed to beep, it just beeps in very specific ways. It beeps at a regular interval when the thing is on battery, it beeps for self-test, and it beeps continually for an overload. But the beeping it made for me during those ‘events’ were unlike any healthy beep. It sounded like the speaker itself was somehow messed up. I made this very clear in my email to the technicians, but of course the first three quarters of their reply was about the standard error code. I supposed it’s natural for them to assume that the users don’t know that their beeping unit is supposed to beep and that pasting back that same information will solve 90% of these types of inquiries. Just as natural as it is for me thinking them stupid for not reading the initial email properly saying it was very definitely not one of those types of beeps.

They did ask me further questions, the answers to which will almost certainly mean they’ll close the issue without any further digging. One was about the age of the battery, and it is quite old, so old that I can’t remember. Certainly older than 4 years, perhaps 5 or 6. On the forums, I read that apparently the lifespan given for any of these products is 6 years… that’s pretty bad, but also estimated 2 swaps of the battery in that time… ugh. A while ago the app was bringing up notices about how my battery was old and I should get a new one, but it was on pain of a lesser battery charge, not random noises and load-drops. Another question they asked was about the loads connected to it, and admittedly, there was a bit going on. There was the tower itself, and both LCD monitors, and then a power-bar with my four external hard-drives plugged in. All of that is not very good, but it never had any problems handling it before.

I haven’t heard back from them yet, but I suspect they’ll just say that with all that crap, and an old battery, anything could happen. Right now I have my own theory, but it has holes. The UPS sometimes runs self-tests, and from the sound the unit makes (deep click), which sounds like when it takes over due to a power spike/brown/loss, that the test actually throws the current load over to the battery. The battery, being old, can no longer handle the load, and it tries to signal the overload condition, a continuous beep. Now, there are a few issues I have with this: Why would the beep from the speaker be so screwed up? So little power that it causes it to sound like a robot coughing? And why would the USB drop out? Same? And the self-tests happen quite rarely (in fact, I’m not sure what actually controls or schedules them), so why did this happen two days in a row (where the second day, it actually couldn’t cope and the computer rebooted)? The only thing I can think of is that if it couldn’t complete a self-test on one day, it tries the same time the next day (both events occurred in the morning, and I think it was at the same time). Windows Event Log is no help, it reports Thursday’s drop out with the battery, but since on Friday it rebooted, it lost most of the logs around that event, but given where the logs stopped and started again, and given the time it took for me to rewire, I’m guessing it was at the same time each day.

So what exactly is the point of the self-test (if that’s what caused it) when it does something like this? Where’s my warning from PowerChute saying the battery is unusable? The requests for ordering a new one was based simply on age, not on any result of diagnostic as far as I know. It’s like a printer wanting you to replace a yellow ink cart that has barely been used because you printed a lot of black documents and it suggests replacements by page count, and you ignore it, until one day the yellow ink really is out, so the printer catches on fire. Anyway, I’ve wanted to upgrade to a newer unit ever since I got the new computer, so I went out and got an APC Back-UPS XS 900 (the two letter model number indicator doesn’t ever seem to match the advertised series, ES and BE, XS and BX). I was debating going with a different vendor given this experience, but everything I read online seems to indicate that APC was better, or at least as good, as the very few competitors out there for the yokel consumer space.

I haven’t rewired yet or plugged this beast in (basically the battery pack is two batteries, and the sockets are inconveniently in the back so I’ll have to rework the area it will sit in), hopefully it works because the forum did describe a few people who had units DOA.

This poor computer takes a lot of abuse. I’m off to Mexico in a week, so hopefully it gets the graceful shutdown it deserves.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress

Page by 19day (S.B.H.)
Everything here is property of 19day productions, unless it isn't, and cannot be claimed by anyone else regardless, sort of like a copyright, but in many more words.
Last modified: September 07 2009 18:21:00.
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS! CWH Get Firefox