Archive for the 'technobabble' Category

LED There Be Light

LED Fixture Installed

Over six years ago, we bought a couple of fluorescent light fixtures for the garage as the house was being built. Each fixture had two four foot tubes and the ballast, starter, etc. As we look back at getting these lights, we recall settling for a cheap house brand from one of the big home improvement stores in Surprise, AZ.

Last week, one of the tubes in one of the fixtures crapped out. We were going to get a replacement tube, but when trying to remove the diffuser, it broke. At that time we also noticed that one of the plastic parts containing the electrodes on the end of the tube was broken away from the housing. We made the decision to upgrade the fixtures to a more modern solution.

We opted for a couple of LED fixtures available from Amazon.

  • 4-Foot LED linear flush mount features an impact-resistant polycarbonate diffuser with brushed nickel cast aluminum decorative end caps
  • Integrated LED provides 3,460 lumens and 4000K cool white color temperature
  • Energy star-certified and listed for damp locations
  • UL-listed to US and Canadian safety standards
  • Delivers general ambient lighting for surface-mount ceiling applications

Installation was pretty simple, really, with toggle bolts holding the frame to the ceiling and wire nuts making the electrical connections. The fixtures are better looking than the ones they replaced and put out as much or more light with a similar color temperature.

The Better Half helped with the installation and took the (clickable) image above and the inset while I was preparing the house wiring to receive the new connections.


Short Circuit AftermathThe Better Half had a little mishap yesterday when she went to the electrical outlet in the hallway to plug in her camera battery recharging unit. Upon her attempt to plug the little unit in, she was greeted by a shower of sparks, a whiff of ozone and a tripped circuit breaker. I was in the courtyard when I heard her yell for me. I came running to see what happened.

(Clickable) image: Outlet under repair. Note the black mark inside box.

Not knowing what the problem was, I went to the circuit breaker box and attempted to reset the tripped breaker with no load on the outlet. No dice, it wouldn’t reset.

The only recourse was to open the outlet in question with the breaker still off. Once open, I immediately saw the problem - the bare earth ground wire had been looped around the outlet such that it was in close proximity to the screws on the hot side. The wire had actually fused to one of the hot screws and burned it in half, apparently when TBH jostled the outlet plugging her charger in resulting in a dead short hot to ground.

I cut the ground wire away from the hot terminal and prepared the end to be reconnected to the ground terminal away from the hot side. After reassembly, the circuit breaker set correctly and the outlet (and the rest of the several shared outlets) functioned correctly once again.

TBH and I recall having interfaced with the electrical guy that worked on the house as it was being built. We both thought he was a flake at the time. It makes us wonder how many other little time bombs might be lurking in the other wiring around the house.

Fixed a Design Flaw in the RV


After returning from our second excursion in the Palazzo RV, we noticed a whining sound coming from the rear of the coach long after it had been shut down. I investigated and discovered that an exhaust fan was running in the compartment where the inverter resides. The inverter produces household AC power while the RV is underway, primarily to power the refrigerator.

I did an on-line search for “inverter fan running” and found a forum where my exact problem had been discussed. Many others had experienced the same thing. One forum commenter posted that there was a thermostat monitoring the air temperature in the inverter compartment and it was activating the fan at too low of a temperature, thus resulting in the continuous whine, even after a considerable cool down period.

Another commenter had solved the problem by replacing the fixed thermostat with an adjustable one. He was able to quickly replace the old thermostat with the new one (slide on tab terminals).

I ordered an adjustable snap disc fan control, S.P.S.T., close on temperature rise adjustable in 10° steps from 90° to 130°. In the (clickable) image above, you can see the new device installed with me holding the original one for comparison.

I set the thermostat to activate at 120° which should be adequate for this purpose. Our next trip takes to warm and cool places and I will be interested to see how the new device performs under varying conditions.

Satellite RX to Go

Deployed Stowed

You may have read here and on the other blog about our new motorhome. Having graduated form an “entry level” RV to this new one encouraged us to ask for a number of desired add-ons, one of which is satellite TV reception.

Since we are already DirecTV™ customers, we opted for the Winegard™ satellite system which is DTV compatible. In the clickable images above, you can see the rooftop satellite dish deployed and in the stowed position.

I got the satellite antenna system and the DTV receiver activated today. I first had to turn the satellite dish control on and it began auto acquisition of several satellites in the “constellation” of geosynchronous birds. That process took a while with the system retrying several times before locking on. But, when that was complete, it was all downhill. I got on the phone with the DTV folks who walked me through the rest of the setup.

After that process was complete, we now have very satisfying HDTV reception on the three TVs in the motorhome - a 48″ TV in the parlor, a 32″ TV in the bedroom and another 32″ TV behind an access door outside on the passenger side of the rig for outdoor viewing. I verified that all were working as advertised.

Having the satellite system gains us independence from the limited and often flaky cable access in many of the RV parks we have visited, and, in fact, we can now camp in areas with no hookups and still be able to enjoy our TV entertainment.

Terminus Obamanum


We’ve suffered eight long years to see this day come. Time to encourage our new President to start healing the damage done to America by the Obamination. Time to restore our CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC to its former greatness.

The Better Half and I listened and watched the Inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th POTUS this morning and approve of the speech that he gave afterward. We applaud his invocation of God as a key to going forward.

A note about animations

We removed the sidebar countdown timer and have converted all the Flash™ animations to static and linked images in the blog template. Some animations remain in archived posts, but the HOME and ABOUT pages have had them removed.

RepeaterBook App

RepeaterBook AppHaving purchased a new VHF/UHF Triband Radio, I was looking for current repeater information on-line so I could program the little beast with proper frequency, offset and CTCSS tone information for repeaters that would be germane to where I am and where I expect to be.

I found a feature on CHIRP, the software programming utility, which imports complete data from an entity called RepeaterBook. You specify the state, county and frequency band and it will import the programming information directly into the CHIRP client area where it can be uploaded to your radio.

I thought that was pretty neat, so I went on-line looking for RepeaterBook. Lo and behold, there was an Android app available that detects your location and downloads a list of area repeaters within a specified range. I downloaded and installed it on my smartphone.

Clickable image - RepeaterBook screenshot of the four most distant repeaters within a 50 mile radius of home. Here is also a screenshot of a typical detail listing.

The application gives me the information I need to quickly program my little radio (using a memory crutch from the user’s forum) when in the field. The application even goes a step further in that it has Bluetooth capability to instantly program some of the Bluetooth compatible rigs out there (which I am beginning to think I need).

A New Ham Radio Gadget

BTECH UV-5X3A little over three years ago, I bought an amateur radio hand-held Bao Feng UV-5R VHF/UHF dual band transceiver for emergency use and maybe a contact or two. The radio gets used once in a while, mostly on the road in the RV.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a tri-band (!44, 223 & 440 MHz) version of the same radio, a UV-5X3 on Amazon a couple of weeks ago. Earlier this week, I had a sudden urge to add the radio to my small radio inventory so I ordered it and it arrived today. The first thing I noticed is that Bao Feng had changed their trade name to BTECH which, I guess, is their desire to sound more like an American brand name. Whatever.

Other than the little identification tag at the bottom of the front of the radio, the two radios appear identical not only in form and fit, but in function as well. I downloaded the latest version of the programming application and copied the programming from the first radio to the new one.

Clickable image - BTECH UV-5X3.

I looked up some of the repeater listings for the 1.25 meter band (222-225 MHz) in Arizona and there aren’t many of them listed, only about 17 or so. There are a couple that I may be able to hit from here if I go up the hill behind the house. One of these days, I will program the new radio with a few repeaters that I think might work from here and give it a try when I get around to it.

UPDATE: I found the Statewide Arizona Repeater Listing and programmed in a couple of 1.25m repeaters on White Tank Mountain which is about 35 miles south of Wickenburg. I was able to key up both of the repeaters from the courtyard in front of the house, but nobody replied when I called for a radio check. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow during the day.

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