Wanda in Clarksville, DE asked us about the durability of remotes:
I want to know if you wash a TV remote control in the washer, will it still work if you dry it out for a few days. That’s what happened to me… I washed it and it worked. Is this normal, or was that some sort of miracle?
Well… that’s sort of a case by case thing, Wanda. You got lucky, but it wasn’t a miracle.
Remotes are lower powered devices, so whatever juice is in the batteries may not fry the electronics even if the water shorts out the batteries.
Think of it this way: touching the insides of a CRT TV can kill you, touching the charged power source of a desktop computer can give you a pretty nasty shock, licking a 9V battery just makes your tongue feel funny, not all electronics are created equal, and not all power sources are created equal either.
However, being immersed in water –potentially hot water– and bouncing around for a good hour is still not the greatest way to treat your electronics, so they can still definitely break. Just dropping your remote can dislodge some pieces on the inside of it, having it bounce inside a metal tube spinning at high speeds can’t be great for it.
Moisture itself doesn’t kill electronics. What moisture does it make it possible for current to flow between points that aren’t designed to pass current to each other, and that is what kills electronics. In your case, we’d say it’s good that nothing pressed one of the buttons on your remote during the spin cycle.
So that’s a top tip to anyone who spills a glass of water on their computer or drops a smartphone in the toilet, pool, or sink. Power it off immediately and do not try to turn it back on for at least 72 hours and after you’ve followed steps to extract the moisture.
Fight the instinct to turn it on and “see if it’s okay.” If you start up the power running through it, that’s a virtual guarantee that it won’t be okay.
Wally in Menasha, Wisconsin listens on NewsTalk 1490 WOSH asked:
Is there a device that will connect to a USB port with which I can control red-green-blue LED light strips? I’d like to program the computer to run the lights through a sequence over a period of time.
There are many devices that will help you do that.
Basically what you’re looking for is a USB LED controller, there are many different types, from custom purpose Arduino/Raspberry Pi types of devices, to devices that take their programming from a computer and then plug into the lights and feed them instructions on their own.
Now, as far as we can tell, controlling the LED strips from your computer will not be trivial, it will probably take some soldering on your part, and it will almost certainly involve some low level work on the software side of things too.
If you come by the week’s show notes, here is an example of someone who’s done basically what you’re trying to do, so you can get an idea for what’s actually involved.