2010 – the Year of the Beeps – Part One

Very early January 1st, something in my study, which is right next to my bedroom, started beeping very loudly. I dragged myself out of post-New Years revelry bed (Ok, nothing wild, but this year we actually celebrated instead of our normal pattern of sleeping off jet lag), to find that my UPS for my computer was unhappy. Which was odd, since the computer was off, and there wasn't much drawing power from it.

So I tried to turn on the computer. It wouldn't start. This woke me up, since I was just finishing up a short paper that was already a bit overdue, and had no backups of the most recent draft, the product of several days furious typing, outside the RAID mirror in the computer itself.

There didn't seem to be any obvious power issues. The lights worked. The sockets, including the dedicated line into which I plug the UPS, worked. But the UPS was unhappy. And every attempt to get it to something made it beep more.

Finally I got another UPS into range (we have a lot of computers), plugged the computer into it, and it started right up. I felt a bit better. No lost work.

The UPS comes with some software that … if the USB cord will just reach … tells me what it is thinking, and it tells me that the UPS is running off the battery because of overvoltages on the line. And the battery is so low that it won't let the computer start up.

So now I know the cause of the problem. Moving the cord around to other outlets doesn't help much, although the voltage does seem a bit less on the shared (not dedicated) plug. So I reset the sensitivity to allow a higher voltage, and hope my equipment will be OK. The battery starts recharging. Soon the UPS is allowing my computer to go on. But over the next three days, even at the higher level it trips repeatedly, and finally I turn off the beeps. Which means that yesterday my computer tries to go into hibernation mode all of a sudden when the battery has dropped to 50%, something I haven't noticed since I have turned off all the other warnings.

Why, you might ask, is FP&L delivering 132+ volts? As best I can figure, our current cold snap means that people are not running their air conditioners. And I suppose heaters just take less power. In any case, there must be a lot of surplus capacity all of a sudden.

Anyway, by the time I figured all this out and checked that my document was OK, I was far too awake to go back to sleep.

Just as well, really. The next set of beeps were downstairs…and no, not the UPS that powers the network. That one was suspiciously quiet for some reason which will need investigation….

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7 Responses to 2010 – the Year of the Beeps – Part One

  1. Peter Lederer says:

    FP&L may play a role, but the likelier theory, Michael, is that your network is trying to tell you something. Did you remember to chant New Year’s blessings for it? Did you take the time to tell it that is was a GOOD network and that you loved it? These — easily forgotten — small measures hugely affect system reliability.

    It is early in the year, you can still make amends.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Chuck says:

    1. How OLD is the UPS with the Beep?
    Could IT be the equipment that’s going bad ?
    Good Luck with that !

  3. I think you will find that FP&L is now delivering 133.33 volts: going from 09 to 10 is an 11.11 percent increase.

  4. worry wart says:

    Well, that’s a relief.

    I was thinking “Beep” ???    Maybe “beep… beeep…. beeeep…. beeeeeeeep…. CRRRR—CRASH!!!!”

    I’m glad you didn’t have auto accident.

    Not to mention the time we got woken up out bed by the fire alarm beep. It’s amazing how quickly the fire department can get there when they’re in a hurry. And it’s even more amazing how quickly a whole room can go up in flames.

    Anyhow, I’m glad everybody’s alright.

  5. michael says:

    The UPS is maybe 4-6 years old; the battery is three months old as I just recently replaced it.

    More beeps coming. None dangerous.

  6. Larry says:

    Despite the fact that the battery is three months old, you should remove the battery and measure the voltage, as many batteries sit on the shelf of the retailer for an inordinate period of time diminishing their useful life. A UPS with weak batteries will not allow a “good” connection. Finally, since most batteries come from China, their quality is variable and sometimes not as good as one might expect.

  7. dilbert dogbert says:

    The FL&P may be correct. Resistance heater vs the inductance load of an A/C motor. Power factor correction problems maybe.

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