Power Spiked

So, very early this past Friday morning, a major thunderstorm rolls through my area. A very loud SNAP wakes me just in time to notice the power die throughout the house for about 5 seconds. Now, since we have horses, whenever one of these thunder-busters rolls through, I like to check the weather report from Weather Underground and see what we’re facing. Only – no Internet. Turns out, that snap that woke me up was a lightning strike, either on my house or close enough nearby to fry my DSL modem. So from there, I end up going back to bed to listen to the storm for the next two hours until I have to get up to run my morning horse feed.

Fortunately, my ISP (TDS) was willing and able to ship me off a new DSL modem immediately – it’s supposed to arrive this afternoon, and I should be back in business in short order. But then, Friday evening, I go to fire up my 360 to play a little bit offline – and nothin’. No power going to my console whatsoever, despite the fact that the power brick is lit up light it ought to be. Now, why didn’t I have my equipment surge protected, you might ask? Well, I did. My best theory is that the electric surge actually came down through the phone line, hit the DSL modem, bounced through the network cable, and smacked my 360. No problem, though – I still have my 360 under a 2-year product replacement plan from Best Buy. So, I ran it back there on Saturday, one of their Geek Squad guys plugged it in, verified the no-power issues, and told me to grab another. Piece of cake. (BTW – Best Buy won’t let you upgrade from a 360 to an elite on a product replacement. I asked about that.)

I get the 360 home, set it up, turn it on to verify that it works (since I can’t actually set up until my new DSL modem arrives) – and get terrible video. The image is very faded, very blurry. I’m thinking maybe I got a bad 360. So I run it upstairs to test it on my other (and far older) TV. Thing of it is, neither of my TVs have component inputs – I have to use an RF modulator to hook everything up. When I tested it on my second TV, the screen was even worse, confirming my fears that the 360 was bad. I was on the phone with a friend at the time, though, and he suggested bypassing the RF modulator by running the component cable through my VCR. This I tried – and got the clearest picture I think I’ve ever had with my 360. Turns out, my RF modulator had already been going bad, and the power spike finished the job. In the process of testing everything, though, I also noticed that the bottom 3 inches of my TV screen are slightly discolored and distorted. So the spike also managed to do some slight damage to the tubes in my TV.

Fortunately, the modem, 360, and RF modulator have all been replaced at no cost to me, and the TV is still functional enough for use. So, I’m hoping that as of this evening when my modem arrives, I’ll be back in business. I was bummed that I had to miss out on my regularly scheduled Halo night on Friday, but I’m at least pleased that this cost me nothing but a minor inconvenience to replace everything.

And that’s my interesting weekend.

4 thoughts on “Power Spiked”

  1. Not that I would know, but I have heard of 360s bricking like that even without a power spike. It does seem like it was a spike though, based on all the other things that got fried.

    Yikes. It sounds like you handled that more patiently than I would have.

  2. I was sitting here smugly thinking, I bought the surge protectors with the cable and phone line connection. I wouldn’t have that problem so quickly.

    Then I looked at the cable that runs straight from the wall to a splitter — one line going to my cablemodem and the other to my Samsung 24″ flat screen tuner, and thought, “Uh-oh!”

    I’ll be fixing that! Thanks for waking me up that I goofed big time — hopefully before it’s too late.

    My living room TV is properly protected, but I don’t know what I’ve done with my other surge protectors with that feature. I guess it’s time to find them.

  3. Yeah, but usually it’s for other reasons, Jim – the HDD fails or the disc drive fails are the two most common problems.

    Jean, I was actually told by the techs that for DSL customers it’s recommended to not use surge protection on the phone line because the surge protector itself can often add extra noise to the DSL signal and thus corrupt your internet speed. And since my ISP replaces the modem for free, I’m willing to take them up on that. Besides, my 360 is now outfitted with a wireless adapter, so I don’t see this particular problem repeating itself anytime soon.

  4. I purchased an Motorola SURFboard in 2002 when I moved to Virginia. When I got to Alabama, I was going to use Knology’s included one. They installed it, and it died the first weekend (4th of July). Not wanting to wait the week for them them come out and verify I wasn’t a clueless idiot, I asked tech support if I could use my personal one. They said sure. I hooked it up, gave them the info they needed, and have been humming along ever since — exactly two years next week.

    They got huffy and wanted their dead one back. I said, “Good riddance.”

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