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Denver 2001

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Denver Tour Wrap Up

I got home to Calgary on the 24th of October and with little notice, the next day I walked into my day job office and promptly submitted my resignation with but a couple of days notice. It would not have mattered what management would have said since I knew I was off to Denver in just two days and nothing was going to stop that.

So for a brief period, I was both employed and yet unemployed although rather carefree in the thinking. I just did not have very much time at home between trips and as I told many on the tour, these trips are great, but in the end, I leave your home and you get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Unfortunately for myself, I also have my toys at home and I do not get to enjoy them while I remain on the road. I miss my toys … but don’t feel sorry for me because I know exactly what I am doing and the trade-offs that I have to make.

Flying out on a Saturday morning, I got a bonus when I met a friend that I dance with at ballroom dancing and she worked at the United Airline counter. She bumped me to first class on the trip down. The first time I have ever sat in that area on a plane … and boy, were the flight attendants bothersome or what? I could not have a moment’s peace before they were asking me if I wanted something else to eat or drink. I appreciate their efforts though, but I just wanted to sit back and catch up on a few Anime titles that I did not have time to watch at home. I really appreciate the portable DVD players here. They always last the entire length of the flight and then all the waiting time at the airport as well.

Arriving in the mid to late afternoon in Denver. Very large airport, but oh so empty (understandably so). This place looks like a shopping mall. I rented a Subaru Forrester this time just to see how this type of car handles. Big mistake, and yuck to boot. No power at all and the altitude just played havoc on the car’s mileage. I had to do a lot of climbing here.

The Host’s home (Ernie) was located in Golden, just west of Denver and the home was at some 7,400 ft in altitude. This would definitely have an affect on me during the week to come. Up and down and the ears took so long to recover each time. The last time I was here was some 18 months previous when I drove down to here from Calgary to attend the ISF seminar. I did not get to see too much of the city that time, but I really got around this time and learned to appreciate the fairly logical layout of the roadway system. (This coming from a Traffic Engineer too.) Although I am driving around outside of the peak rush hours so the perspective is somewhat different.

All told, I ended up working on some 14 units on this trip. The first one at Ernie’s home was the Mitsubishi 46807 unit. Over the course of the week, I would also calibrate his older 32" Sony and a commercial grade 10" Sony portable monitor.

Having come from the moderate heat of LA, I was preparing for something much cooler and I over packed with too many winter clothes. It was a heat wave of sorts in Denver all week.


Next up was another Mitsubishi set … a 55" one this time. Problems arose as the home was too well lit by daylight so I had to crawl under the sheets yet one more time to get things right. The protective screen had already been taken off the TV so things were already better than purely out of the box. There was one big issue with the screen though … there was a lot of gunk on the bottom part of the screen. Apparently it had gotten there as a result of the wife painting the ledge above the wall space where the TV was kept. Some paint had dripped on the lenticular screen and some kind of solvent or soapy material was used to try to remove it. I cringe to think of that. Of course, we all know now that the Lenticular screen is terribly fragile and to never clean it with anything except water and maybe watered down dish washing soap.

The second unit on this day was the venerable Toshiba 56X81. Always dependable in its performance with no surprises. Tweaked out very nicely and the access to the design menu is always welcome. Both the HD and the SD sections were calibrated here, but as the client would find out later on, even HDTV broadcasts themselves are so uneven and erratic in nature that a properly calibrated HD section might still yield some odd looking images.

No surprises here. The HD stuff "sometimes" had a purple quality to it in the black area. Completely absent from the test pattern generator, but occasionally showing up on material. Not to mention that some times the material is too bright and sometimes it is too dark.


The next day, it was an all day affair at one person’s home. This client had both a 46" Mits and an AMPRO 4600 unit in his main theatre room downstairs. The Mits was sitting up on a makeshift table and actually angled downward toward the viewer. The AMPRO was very neat to calibrate as we went through the entire set up procedures from focusing to geometry to grayscale. The client knew the service menus much better than I and so he rode shotgun as I shouted out changes. A lot of fun for this day and it finished up with some disappointing results in the area of HDTV resolution. The set was supposed to be able to display 2500 x 2000 with its 9" crt’s but when the HD generator was turned on, it was apparent that even the 1920x1080 signal could not be fully displayed as well. He was probably getting 1400 to 1500 lines and nothing more.


An interesting visit on this day as the first client had Louis Carliner visit his home in January / February to calibrate his Pioneer Elite RPTV. I got to even see how Louis filled out his ISF report card – messy writer though. (Grin) (Which I choose not to use as much since I would rather just send the finished graph to the client via the mail. They see the results graphed on the laptop first though.)

So why did I have to come in if Louis has already worked on the TV? Well, the set was serviced over the course of the year and he just wanted a double check to verify that things were still the way they were. I touched up the grayscale a bit and added the HDTV grayscale as well. I spent most of the time dealing with a linearlity issue that the client had with the TV add to the fact that his convergence grid was not properly centered even though the TV image was.

This took a long time … pretty much the whole day. And it reminded me why I hate doing geometry. Yuck.

I finished up after 4:00 PM and then I headed for Fort Collins up north in the state. It was some 45 minutes to get there, and it didn’t help that the map program did not match the actual road signs so I missed my exit by two exits. Bummer. Luckily, I doubled back, grabbed some much needed dinner and arrived no worse for wear at the client’s home.

The set this evening was a 40H80 Toshiba so I knew it was going to be just fine. The client mentioned geometry, but the geometry was the type that I could handle. Yes …

I was pretty much left alone all evening to work on the set and all the while, there was scratching on the patio window behind me. The client had a huge dog … almost the size of me … and he was outside wanting to come in. Which reminds me to mention the words … dog hairs … they get everywhere. I left Fort Collins by 10:30 PM and drove back to Golden.


This was a day of cats and dogs. The first client had two Italian Greyhounds that were literally miniature versions of the real thing. They just kept pawing at me no doubt because they could smell all the other animal smells on me. This day was pretty fast for me what with a 34" Panny tube set in the day time and a 56" Panny in the evening. And both within a mile of each other. Well, I spoke a bit too soon as the 34" Panny was quirky to say the least. This one had a service menu that looked like no other in the panny line. As a result, it took about an hour to just figure out the inner workings of this menu. Then the trick was to make it work properly. It seems that the 480P signal from the DVD player put the TV into a mode where adjusting the cuts and drivers did not work. Everything was locked down.

The first work around was to set the DVD player to 480i and then it would let me make changes in the menu. The second work around was to hook up the HD signal generator and then the 480P section could be adjusted. This was an interesting home because it was shared by a few people and each person had his own separate HT gear in different rooms.

The second client was close enough so I was able to pop over to the local Best Buy to do some sight seeing finally. Yes, my idea of sight seeing. This was Halloween after all. But I made it over to the client’s home about an hour early and we were able to begin a bit sooner. This was an interesting home to say the least since the client was into woodworks. He had fashioned speaker stands out of old discarded lumber … and had also built a coffee table from the same material. I had joked a bit about the table, but the humor was lost since this was really the table.

The set was pretty straight forward in design and I ended up calibrating all the modes including the 720P input as well. The TV was also paired with a Toshiba SD 2200 unit which just wasn’t very good for a set like this.

Back to Golden … again.


Another quick day or so it looked like it before things started. I was hitting the south end of Denver this day. Beautiful scenery. Breath taking. But things got off to a really slow start when I arrived at the client’s home. I rang the bell. No answer … no one home. I called the client … at work … reminded to him that today was the day for his session. Now I had to wait for him to send his wife home to let me in. But all got sorted out and I got in and completed the job on his Mits 55" set. When I was done, I let myself out the back door as there was no one left in the house.

A bit more free time between calibrations and more sight seeing.

The second client had a new Mits 65" but his pairing with a non-progressive scan Panasonic was not the best. Still, a relatively problem free calibration. The ony snag came at the beginning when I was unable to access the service menu due to Mits’ ever changing access code merry-go-round. The number I had copied from the net was wrong. How dyslexic of me. It didn’t take long to get the real codes though and I was off to the races.


And so that was it. I had lunch with Ernie on this final day and then I headed off to the airport. I got to sit in and watch him piece together a commercial for the Remax people to sell them on a sponsorship of a musical tour next year. Seeing how commercials are created from the ground up was fascinating to see although it could also bore some. So much work goes into making these things.

Meesa going home!!!