Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mazda Maintenance

Norma's 1998 Mazda 626 just keeps running and gets pretty much ignored maintenance wise. Oh, it gets oil changes, tires and whatever else it needs when something fails but it has never had a real tuneup and at 181,000 KM (112,000 Miles) still had it's original timing belt.

So a few days ago we decided to give it a treat and sent it in. Changing the timing belt involves getting inside the engine so as long as he was in there it made sense to change a couple of other things as well so with a tuneup it turned into a pretty big job.

The mechanic called at noon to say it was ready to be picked up and the bill was $1,120 CAN ($830 US). It runs the same as it did before but now it will be good for another couple of hundred thousand kilometers. Norma likes it but it's not my favorite car I have owned, that title probably belongs to my first car, a 1959 Volvo 144, the old fastback model I bought in 1963. the year I graduated and got my first full time job. It was a rally car, fun to drive and indestructible!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Solar Panel On!

Finished! I got a late start because I waited for Norma's lawn guy to arrive so he could pass the panel up to me on the roof. I thought of doing it with a rope but it could easily have swung into the side of the motorhome.

The aluminum brackets bolted on easily.
 Yup, lots of room beside the back panel.

Dave's bracket screwed in place on a bed of very soft, sticky butyl rubber. This will be covered with a good coating of Dicor self leveling sealant.

All done. The old panels really needed a cleaning!

All three panels wired in to the back of the controller. EDIT: I have now increased the size of the output wires shown to #10.

and back on the wall!

It is getting harder and harder to climb up and down and to work on my knees up there but I got it done in a couple of hours. The batteries are happily charging at 14.7 volts. Everything is good!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Continuing Solar Panel Install

Didn't get much accomplished on the panel today. My friend Dave had some two inch aluminum angle so I went over and we cut off a ten inch piece. Doris then invited me to stay for lunch on the deck which was delicious. I sure miss these former next door neighbors!

I cut the aluminum into four pieces and marked them and the sides of the panel for drilling. Norma then asked me to help her with a couple of gardening projects so that was as far as I got.

Check back tomorrow! Maybe photos.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Solar Panel Install, Part 1

So far, so good.
I decided to get a start on the new solar panel installation today even though I have no brackets to mount the panel to the roof. Tomorrow I will go downtown to buy some aluminum stock to cut and bend into right angle brackets.
I pushed two #10 wires up the conduit I installed in the fridge vent for the other two panels, climbed up to the roof, removed the vent cover and pulled enough wire to reach the spot where I will mount the new panel. The good news is, there is more than enough room to mount the panel without moving one of the older ones. What a relief!
Then I blind drilled a 1/2" hole through the metal bottom of the outside fridge enclosure to pass the wires into the solar controller beside the stairs. I will save that connection till last so I can check everything with the meter before making the final connections. The tough part is over!
Photos tomorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Motorhome Parked!

Washed up and put away wet!
The motorhome is finally cleaned out, cleaned up and put away in it's parking spot. We are lucky to have room to park it on the property as most people have to rent parking for them. The house you see is our neighbour to the south. We are infringing about three feet onto his property but that area is unusable to him as it is only accessible from our property and contains his abandoned (and hopefully empty) oil tank. We make up for it by allowing them to extend their rear lawn right up to the back of my workshop, three feet or so on our side of the property line. Everyone is happy, it works out.

The dolly is in front of and partly under the motorhome and there is lots of room to park the two cars behind it, along with room for guests.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Solar Panel Arrived and New Dolly Lights!

They told me it would be two to six WEEKS. It was here in two DAYS!

I have to get the rig parked before I can install it and Norma wants to wash it first. I also have to buy some Aluminium stock or angle to make mounting brackets, Maybe on the weekend.

I did get inspired and installed some new LED running lights on the dolly so that job is done. The old ones were LED as well but I lost a lens off one.

Trump And The Dunning-Kruger Effect

This is Donald Trump to a "T"
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein persons of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability people to recognize their ineptitude, without which they cannot accurately evaluate their actual competence.[1] - Wiki

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Solar Panel!

My friend Kevin emailed me with this great deal on a 100 watt monocrystalline (better than polycrystalline) Solar panel. This would even be a great deal in the USA as $150 CAN = $110 USA! Plus free shipping and no tax on solar it was too good to pass up!

I will now have 325 watts of solar feeding my four 6 volt golf cart batteries! Now my only problem is to find a place on the roof to mount it without moving one of the existing panels. When I installed them I gave no thought to future expansion!

Click to see sale

DC HOUSE 160W 12V Monocrystalline Photovoltaic PV Solar Panel Module 12V Battery Charging

EDIT: Sale is over. $220 now

Monday, May 15, 2017

Anik G1 Footprint

Further to yesterday's discussion. The future of Shaw Direct. Maybe not for a couple more years but eventually Snowbirds will start losing both HD and SD channels as programming is migrated to the new Anik G1 bird that Shaw Direct has contracted use of for 15 years, the expected lifetime of the satellite.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shaw Direct Upgrade

I had a chat with one of the better CSR's at Shaw Direct the other day and came away a little better informed. First, they are slowly but steadily moving programming over to the third satellite that my current quad LNB dishes will not work with. I also learned that the older grey colored 500 series receivers will very soon be obsolete as they introduce compression into the programming. In the meantime, although not supporting use of their equipment while out of the country, they know many of their customers do this and are not going out of their way to stop it.

He also told me that when I will be forced to convert to the new three satellite LNB's they will only convert one dish for free. I have four dishes! Two on the house, one on the workshop for the motorhome where it is parked when not in use and one for the motorhome when we travel. This will be a problem when the time comes to change.

I am still unclear on how easy it will be to aim the new LNB dishes and if they will even be able to "see" the third satellite from down south. I have to do some research.

In the meantime I found someone selling two receivers (one 630 and one 600) on Craigslist for $125 total. I quickly responded and was the first of four people wanting them. I drove down to Courtenay to pick them up from a couple who had just given up their winter home in Yuma, AZ. He also gave me his dish which is the same older style as mine, but the smaller version. I got home, called Shaw Direct and got them both running. At the same time they turned off my two remaining 500 series receivers that are soon to stop working.

Now to do some research on the new LNB's!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Final election night totals:

Liberal 43, NDP 41, Green 3
Still many absentee votes to count and many Ridings could be overturned. Some, like our neighbouring Courtenay where the NDP won by only nine votes will be re-counted. This back and forth will go on for days.
We won in our riding by a substantial margin that will hold. I just wish there were many more.
If Green voters had of voted NDP it would have meant 16 more seats for the NDP and 16 fewer for the Liberals.
So what we have is a Minority Government with the Greens in the drivers seat. The Greens will never support the Liberals on the pipeline and tanker issues. Their members would revolt and the Party would fold. They may be tempted with the Speakers Chair or a Cabinet post and they may join the Liberals on economic issues as they have many times in the past but not on the environment.
British Columbia has always been hard left or hard right, there is no room for a wishy washy third party that can't make up its' mind which side of the fence it is on.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Final (Maybe) Battery Report

I turned the larger screen TV on at 5:30 PM last night and left it running on the inverter. Batteries were at 13 volts when I started. At 7:30 (2 hours later) I checked the batteries and they were at 12.8 volts which is 100% charge. At 9:30 (4 hours later) they were still at 12.5 volts or 80% charge! I hit the generator start button and the generator fired up without killing the inverter. This morning at 9:30 AM under a cloudy sky and drizzling rain the batteries had recovered to 13.2 volts with the solar panels. Things are exactly where I want them!

I might do the same test but with both TV's on. This would be when I want to watch a football game on one while Norma watches her stuff on the other.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Batteries, Day 2

I am very happy with my experiment today! At 5:30 the batteries read 13.7 volts as they were still getting a bit of a charge from the remaining sun. I turned on the smaller TV and it's satellite receiver and left it on for the 4 hour test period. The voltage dropped to 13 volts as soon as I turned on the TV. I left it on, tuned to CNN. Four hours later the batteries were reading 12.5 volts or 80% of full charge.

Last winter if we left a TV on for much more than two hours and tried to start the generator the start current for the generator would drag the battery voltage down so far the inverter would cut out. Tonight the inverter stayed on when I started the generator after running the TV for four hours!

Tomorrow I will see if the solar will recharge the batteries and then repeat the test with the bigger screen TV in the bedroom. Like I say, so far I am very pleased.

EDIT: I left the satellite receiver on all night (but not the TV) and when I checked at 10:30 AM the batteries were at 13.2 and by noon they were at 13.7. Very happy with this!

Battery Report

I let the batteries charge up all night the night before last and yesterday I unplugged the motorhome. It was a cloudy day but the voltage remained at 13.7 which told me they were getting some charge from the panels. I checked it again last night around 11 PM and they were sitting at 13 volts which was very good. There was nothing turned on in the motorhome, just the normal systems that always draw a little power.

I don't know what they dropped down to in the middle of the night but at 8 AM this morning they were being charged by the solar panels under a sunny sky at 14.4 volts!

Today I will connect the two TV's to their dish and turn them on for three or four hours tonight to see what they drag the voltage down to and to see how fast they recover tomorrow, whatever the weather is.

So far I am very happy.

Here are my rooftop panels. The new 100 watt panel is at the bottom and I should have mounted it further to the left (or right) to leave room for another one beside it. There still might be room, I will have to get up there and measure. As a commenter mentioned yesterday, solar costs in Canada are almost prohibitive. Last year I bought the new one At Canadian Tire for $199 Can ($145 US) but now they are back up to $550! I will wait for another sale or purchase and install it in the US where they are sometimes $110 US ($150 CAD) on Amazon.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Motorhome Battery Job

We bought two more six volt batteries in the US on the way home this year. I have not been happy with the battery system's ability to hold a charge. When boondocking we have been limited to only about three hours of TV at night before running the batteries down to 12.2 volts or 50% charge, the lowest you want to go without starting to damage the batteries. Adding two more would double the capacity.

Getting 12 volts out of two 6 volt batteries requires wiring them in series and that is how the original batteries are wired. What I had to do today was to wire the two new batteries in series as well giving me what amounts to two 12 volt batteries. These would be wired together in parallel to give 12 volts with twice the amp hours I had before. A simple series-parallel circuit. Simple. Right?

Then I cleared out the basement bin next to the side door and cut a piece of scrap 5/8 inch plywood to strengthen the floor. Norma had been using this bin to carry additional canned food so I knew it would bear the weight.

I then drove up to the local car audio shop where I bought a length of #4 power cable from their scrap bin and added a few connectors to my purchase. They charged me a very reasonable $10 for everything. I was happy.

I cut the cable into lengths for the positive and negative leads and soldered on the connectors. Red for + and blue for - and drilled a couple of holes in the side of the bin. I carefully measured voltages with my Fluke meter as I did not want a spark show when I made the final connection. Everything went well with no sparks!

I will let the batteries work together and equalize with the charger overnight and then tomorrow I will unplug the rig and start monitoring things closely making sure the two solar panels keep everything charged. If they can keep up in the current cloudy weather we are having then I have no doubt they will do well when we are down south. If necessary, I am prepared to add another 100 watt solar panel.