Vakkotaur (vakkotaur) wrote,
Vakkotaur
vakkotaur

The Night I Destroyed the Machine That Went *PING*


Or something close to it.

I had heard, or thought I had heard an odd *beep* or *ping* on and off for a few days but it was a thing that passed and went and I didn't much notice. Perhaps it was an odd doorbell or truck reversing in the distance or.. who knows. But it was no big deal. I didn't really notice it. It was just an odd occurrence of little note. Jay didn't really notice it. I think he tended to have music playing or was involved in conference calls and he sleeps with a CPAP machine, all things that would mask a somewhat faint *ping*.

It was of little note, as I have said. That is, it was until I had a night off and did not have music playing and was not talking to anyone by voice. Every couple minutes I would hear a faint *ping*. At first this was still not much of anything, but it grew to annoy me. I went and checked every smoke detector in the house, which took time as I'd stand near or under the one I was checking until *ping* and I knew that the one nearest me was not making the sound.

Eventually I eliminated ALL of the smoke detectors. They were not making any sound unless I tested them outright - then each was plenty loud and rather louder than the *ping* I was hearing. Now I was wondering if I was hearing things. Or if someone was playing some prank. *ping* told me it was not my imagination and it was far too regular to be a very effective prank - I've heard of nasty little gadgets meant to drive someone batty, but they are more random for that very reason. *ping*.

Eventually I realized that I had not only smoke detectors, but carbon monoxide detectors. I wondered if any of those were acting up. Rather than sit around by each in turn, I moved them - one at a time - to the office and waited for a loud noise. Nothing loud, just another "it's not in this room" *ping*. Repeatedly. ALL the carbon monoxide detectors were nicely quiet and not reading a count above zero. *ping*

Now I was puzzled. What was making that sound? No matter what room I was in, it seemed to come from another room. I considered it might be a UPS, and we have those in the office, the basement, and the attic to keep the network switch there powered. *ping* I started eliminating the various UPS's (I may have actually done that first.) and the various rooms. It wasn't the basement, though I could hear the *ping* from there. It wasn't the living room, yet *ping*. It wasn't the dining roo*ping*m. Nor the kit*ping*chen. Not the office. Not the machine ro*ping*om. Not a bedr*ping*oom. Bathr*ping*oom? Nope.

Alright, was it outside, maybe? It was morning by now and light, and just as I got between the house and garage *PING*. Aha! It is outside. Now, where is the whatever it is? I started walking around. South of the house..*ping* getting fainter, west of the house *ping* also faint. Walked down the street *ping* and it wasn't changing much. How far away was thing and where?

I noticed our next door neighbor, a rather rotund fellow with an oxygen concentrator and not much mobility was up and by his car in his now-open garage. I went to ask him if he needed any help with the stuff he looked to be about to carry inside, and to ask about the *ping* "Alright, what IS that, if you know?" "Oh, that's mine..." and an explanation followed as I helped carry his groceries into the house.

It was a smoke detector after all. One that was in the house when he bought it not much before we moved in next door. The thing was curious beast - it had three lithium cells or batteries soldered into place. That's right, it was not designed to allow simple changing of old cells or batteries. Huh?! And thus he couldn't shut the thing off. He and an assistant had searched the house and replaced the batteries in every (other) smoke detector in the house to try to be rid of the *PING*. That didn't work, of course. Finally, they found it - in the basement stairwell. And then found it couldn't be shut off. So he wrapped it in a plastic bag and hung it outside where at least it was fainter than going *PING* inside constantly.

"Do you mind if I take this thing apart?" "No. Be my guest. Would you like a hammer?" Tempting as that was, I decided even the minor amount of Am-241 was likely best not having its chamber smashed and so instead I took my Leatherman to the detector case and soon had it apart. And the first battery disconnected *ping*. What the?! Alright, soon ALL the batteries were out. Only then did I notice a small switch - it might have been possible to simply switch it off after all - but the label did say it would likely make one or two *ping*s even after that. It's been nicely silent in the neighborhood for a while now. Or at least the only sounds are traffic, kids, and the odd siren as police, fire, or ambulance go by a street over.

And that's the story of how I saved the neighborhood sanity (or at least mine & my neighbor's) by destroying the machine that went *ping*.

Tags: neighbor, ping, smoke detector
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