The Jersey Shore

Just got back from the Jersey Shore.  Wait, not the Jersey Shore, but Jersey Shore, PA.  It’s a small town about 60 miles northeast of State College.  I’d been working on an improvement to my musicbox, and wanted to test it out, so around 4am I went for a drive.

A long drive.  I just headed up 220 north, because I’d never taken it before, and there’s something about driving to new places -- or just driving through new places -- that is enchanting to me.  I’d seen this town of "Jersey Shore" on maps, so when I happened to see a roadsign for it, I decided that that would be my destination.

There’s something fantastic about watching the night turn to morning, and that happened as I drove.  There are some decent-sized mountains here (decent compared to the Philly suburbs, not compared to Colorado...), and I saw the light blue creeping over the peaks.  I also drove through a storm, and then saw some giant lightning streaks in the distance.  When I didn’t see the bolts, I saw the sky flashing beyond the ridges ahead of me.

Jersey Shore wasn’t much to be excited about, though I can’t say I saw very much of it.  But it did have a neat river going by it, which I suppose is better said "it was built along a neat river," since it wasn’t the river who chose the town.

And the improvement to my musicbox turned out to not improve anything.  The problem was that if the computer is already on and playing music when you ignite the engine, then the computer reboots.  That’s because computers need their voltages to be fairly precise, and when a car’s battery is trying to turn the engine over, the voltage drops from the normal 12 volts down to about 9 volts.  The idea I had was to put a giant capacitor on the power cable, because capacitors store charge sort of like batteries, but they can release all their charge almost instantaneously, so they have the ability to smooth out any inconsistencies in voltage that might occur.  Big capacitors are often used in car stereos with subwoofers, because subs need a lot of current and when a loud bass note occurs, it tends to dim the car’s headlights and/or not hit as hard as it should.

Anyway I installed a 1 Farad capacitor.  Which is huge -- it’s about the size and shape of 2 soda cans stacked on top of eachother -- and to put it in perspective, the electronic circuit boards in computers and CD players and other devices also use capacitors, but their capacitance is usually only a few microfarads (0.000001 farads) or maybe a few millifarads (0.001 farads).  But as huge as it is, apparently it’s not enough, because the computer still doesn’t survive ignition.  Which isn’t a problem from any practical perspective; I rarely use the ignition once the car is already running, unless I stall the engine (which never happens), or for some reason, I turn the car off but leave the key in the accessory position, and then turn the car back on.

So... the cap didn’t solve that problem, but at least now my headlights don’t dim when the bass is pumping.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies


01. Apr 15, 2007 at 01:44am by Jennifer:

So I am anxious to know, did you stop or just drive through Jersey Shore? My name is Jennifer and I grew up in Jersey Shore. I now live in Palm Springs, Ca. There really isn’t a whole lot to do in Jersey Shore, but there are alot of wonderful people. I have fond memories of my childhood and growing up there. It sounds to me like you had a wonderful drive that day. And yes it is a neat river. I spent many summers swimming in the river with friends. By the way where is it that you drove from?
                      Jennifer Turner

02. Apr 15, 2007 at 01:40pm by Anthony:

I was coming from State College, where I was attending Penn State.  I basically just drove through; actually I think Jersey Shore was my turnaround point.  I remember going over a metal bridge into the town, and I remember the river, and that the town just seemed really quaint and cozy, but that’s about it.  Since it was the wee hours of the morning and I was far from home, and I hadn’t really set out to go exploring, I didn’t stay long.

03. Apr 25, 2007 at 11:00pm by Mom:

Hmmmm, maybe you should have tried using the ’flux capacitor’.  It worked for Christopher Lloyd and Marty McFly.  Of course he used 1.21 jigowatts; that could be the solution.  But I think your on your way to figuring it out.  Have fun!

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