Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A surprise extra evening of work.

Today, what with milady having taken to her sick bed, instead of spending the evening using my tablet and just being with milady, I let her sleep in peace. In order to occupy my time, I did a bus project. This was to replace the left rear turn signal. The old signal worked. It just wasn't very bright. I rather suspect the same goes for the brake lights.

The problem with the light was down to a bad socket. I'd tried changing the bulb but that didn't help. Thus I forked out $37 and bought a new light assembly the other day. Installing it was a challenge as the protrusion from the back was dead center while the old assembled had a profusion an inch or two higher. That meant drilling a new hole. As with the turn signal on the other side that I also replaced, the screw holes all matched up. Just not the protrusion. This meant dragging out the hole saw.

Mindful of the fact metal cut with the hole saw gets very hot, I paused work every minute or so for a few minutes to let the steel cool. Behind the outside panel is fiberglass insulation. I didn't want to melt or set that alight. Eventually I'd got the hole about half way through the thickness of the steel so I drilled a few holes around the edge and levered with a screwdriver. The steel broke away nicely, leaving a ragged edge.

Fearing I'd have to trim the ragged edges, I tried my light into place and it fitted perfectly. I let the whole lot cool for half an hour before returning to attach the cable and screw the assembly in place. By the time I returned, it was already 9pm and dark. So dark I needed my lantern. How I curse that broken handle! Well, I put the light on and tried it. Wouldn't you just know - the thing worked and worked well. I'm so happy!

Returning to the other lights, I could not test the brake lights as I didn't have somebody to sit in the driver's seat to press the peddles. I did notice one of my top rear marker lights was out. No biggie but I'd like to fix it.

Thinking about the front door, it does seem warped. There's no clear bend to it but I'd like to fix it. It looks very much as though somebody has tried to pry it open at some point. This is the top with the door closed.

And this is the bottom.

As you can see, it all gets a bit amiss about quarter the way down. By the time it reaches the bottom, it's a couple of inches out of place. Pushing the bottom of the door inward while I close it from the outside using my new outside handle makes it slip nicely into the track. This gives me two thoughts. The first is that the door is warped and the second is that perhaps the door closing arm needs adjustment. The latter being merely a case of adjusting some nuts, I might try that first.

Monday, May 30, 2016

What an awful mess!

This nasty, worthless stuff is Locktite thread locker. Allegedly it holds nuts firmly into place on bolts. The truth is, it doesn't do any such thing. Foolishly believing it might be good for something I held onto it rather than tossing it in the trash. Clearly Locktite just sells trash.

Yesterday if you remember, I put thread locker on my magnetic coil in the expectation that it would set and fix my coil into place. Despite reaching 97F inside the bus today, the thread locker was still a gooey, sticky mess that had transferred to things it shouldn't have. I'm going to have a heck of a job clearing up that nasty mess!

Today I got the power washer out and jet washed the bus in areas where I had noticed the paint was flaking. That revealed fairly large areas with no remaining paint. That took a long time as I also washed my car at the same time. Needless to say, the heat got to me and I had to rest in the cool for a long time.

Following that, I had been requested to move the bus. Milady's sister was afraid one sleepy morning she might back into my front bumper. As she drives a monocoque design SUV, I moved it. Her SUV would just not have survived such a collision with a parked 13 ton bus! Then I got to work with a paintbrush and some grey paint.

Working my way along the bus, I filled in all the areas where the grey had come off and painted over areas where I'd sprayed with the cheap dollar store grey paint. Needless to say I missed one section. That's not worth worrying about though as I have more painting to do.

The real aim of my spraying was to wash the front wheel arches, ready for grey paint and also to remove the hornet nest. I never got as far as painting the wheel arches. That would have meant lifting the hood forward and I'd already painted all the grab points. Complicating things further, wasps seem to be building a nest behind the headlamps. As I didn't have my handy spray to hand, I left them to get on with it. Maybe on Saturday I will have time to spray and paint.

In other news, I picked up my turn signal assembly from Napa. They never rang to let me know it was in. Honestly, I don't know what these stores are up to or how they remain in business. This assembly has no apparent wire protruding so I don't know if it's complete. I just have not had time to open it yet.

I played with my CPU fan today. I sat for a while in the bus, pulling out a small pile of redundant crockery that I was going to donate to milady. As I did so, I had the fan blowing on me, powered by 4 D cells. That was pleasantly cool. I can see that the CPU fan idea is likely to work. I'll work more on the bus at the weekend.

Meanwhile, tragedy struck. Those who can remember my LED hurricane lantern will remember how I hung it from hooks in the bus ceiling. Today, as I had it on a workbench to help me see to put the pressure washed away, it tumbled off the bench. The plastic hanging loop broke off. Now I have to figure out a way of hanging the lamp. This is very inconvenient. I cannot imagine why any manufacturer would make a camping product that was so flimsy! Camping lanterns and all camping gear is liable to be dropped! It should have been made more resilient. I'm going to have to work out a better solution.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The new idea

After failing to get anything worthwhile from the solar panel, I came to the conclusion that I should just run the fans off batteries. It makes far more sense, to be honest. I can go for my main solution for my shower and just use D cells. Heck, I can even get rechargeable D cells. Perhaps I might even be able to put one of the wind powered vents up eventually that are popular for vans in Britain.

Needless to say, I had a look at some of the electronics groups and went through the usual ringmarole of explaining things simply and nobody understanding what I meant. Then came the usual suggestions that involved buying extra stuff. Somebody then wanted my address to "send stuff". I bet he fancied his chances!

Then I realized that I was making a simple thing needlessly complicated. Solar panels in my experience have always been disappointing. Pretty much like LED lights. So, the new plan is just to run the darned fans off 4 D cells or even AA cells. My guess is they're 140ma which would give me 13 hours with 2000mah AA cells. Now if at some point the panel made it back into the equation then it might make those 2000mah cells last a complete day (but I doubt it).

I'll just regard the solar panel like most electronics as garbage until proven otherwise. My experience of electronics is not good. Most of the circuits in electronics books that I've built, despite meticulous checking never worked. Some did but most did not. It's something I'll usually try though because it has worked.

With that in mind, today I did a little work on my door opener. The second iteration of my design has one layer of coil on a brass tube. Today I used the thread locker that I found singularly useless and poured it liberally over the coil wires in the hope that it'll secure them in place. I had to break off then because it could take a while to dry.
Now, the next stage will be to see if the blue stuff has held. If so then I'll work slowly along the whole length, securing as I go. Then I'll add another layer of wire. I might have to add several layers in order to make the magnet powerful enough.

Meanwhile, I went out into the rain and tidied milady's front yard where the bus had been standing this past year and a half. That took quite a while and I am positive when the weather dries I shall find more garbage to pick up.

Later I returned to my magnetic coil with the blue adhesive on it. Frustratingly, the blue stuff had not dried. Why should I even be surprised? It didn't work as a thread locker which is the purpose for which it was sold. I'll have to look at it again tomorrow. I have a feeling spray paint will be faster and more satisfactory.
In other news, the front door which wasn't closing well, closed well tonight. I had to push the door as I closed it. Clearly as it appears to be bent, I'll have to figure out some way of straightening it. That's going to be interesting.

No call today from the parts store about my new rear turn signal. I'll go and harass them tomorrow since they were allegedly going to have it in on the day I ordered it (Friday). Typical bloody salesmen - promise the earth just so you don't dare go anywhere else then fail to live up to their promises, ensuring you never darken their doors again!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Solar Power on Cloudy days?

Out of interest, today I continued to experiment with solar power. I have a 5W solar panel that produces up to about 24V. Although today was hot, I went inside the bus and put together a breadboard connected to my solar panel, two CPU fans and two large electrolytic capacitors.

As can be seen, there's plenty light but the fans aren't spinning. I don't know a lot about electronics but it seems that I need to be able to dump the power collected in the capacitors into the fans automatically. That setup works if something shades the panel for a few seconds in conditions of bright light.

In today's totally overcast, grey sky, nothing happened. The starting current for the fans was too big and the solar power too low to get them spinning. Interestingly, my smaller CPU fan needed more power to get it going. I did discover that by disconnecting the fan while the capacitor charged, when I reconnected the fan, the capacitor discharged into the fan, setting it going for a few seconds. What I need therefore is a way of doing that automatically. That will probably need a transistor or something.

In bright light, those fans shift a goodly quantity of air. In poor light they shift nothing because of the bottleneck in the system. What I need is some electronics guru to help me to get this working. Sadly the "gurus" I knew in the past were a rather immature bunch unwilling to share their knowledge. I'm rather suspicious of advice published online too which leaves me with somewhat of a problem to overcome. Perhaps I might find the answers in my electronics book if I can locate it.

As I worked in the bus, soldering contacts onto the fans, I used my plugin. That worked really well though it's not the first time I have used it.
Those with sharp eyes will notice that the ground underneath the bus now has grass on it. This is because I moved the bus for the first time in two months. Aside from my needing to move it because it was beginning to sink into the ground, I discovered a hornet nest underneath the front passenger side wheel arch. Hornets were ignoring me and buzzing past while they built their nest. A quick squirt of bug spray eliminated the hornets on the nest and moving the bus confused the others.
If you inspect my slightly fuzzy cellphone photo carefully, you can see the nest dead center. I'll jet wash the wheel arches in a few days as I want to paint them grey anyway.

As far as solar panels go, I'm not planning to buy any more of them. I have had a couple and they have been very disappointing in terms of power generated. I really don't feel that solar and wind power are anything more than a geek toy. It cracks me up to see the way that people have fallen for this "green" baloney.

  • First, solar panels contain cadmium, selenium and mercury- hardly environmentally friendly.
  • Second, solar panels only work well when it's sunny and there are no clouds.
  • Third when they're not angled precisely at the sun (which moves) they're not producing their rated output.
  • Fourth - the sun isn't available 24x7.
  • Fifth - as a kludge to cope with the fourth problem - extra solar panels are used in order to charge batteries. These batteries are typically lead-acid. Again - not very environmentally friendly.
  • Sixth there's the cost. To run just a microwave, 120v at 10A is needed. That's 1200W. 1200W of solar panels at $150 (current cost) for 100W would cost $1800 and would work only when full sun was shining. Double the panels for cloudy weather and double the cost. Add some batteries in while remembering that lead-acid batteries can't put out too much power in a short time. That means probably six batteries at about $100 each are needed. That's a total cost of $4200.
  • Seventh, solar panels get very hot and need ventilation behind the panels.
  • Eighth, the space taken up by one 100W panel is 4 feet by 2 feet. Now 12 of those would take up more than the entire surface area of the roof of my bus. Not very practical.
  • Ninth, the weight of 6 lead-acid batteries would be 360lbs. That's very heavy.

So, we're looking at 360lbs for just the batteries, huge heat generation on the roof plus the weight of the panels on the roof and the extra height they would add, not to mention potentially changing the stability of the bus and a total cost of $600 for batteries and $4200 for solar panels. I make no excuses for calling that a crock! For $200 I can get a generator powerful enough to run a microwave when needed. Typically such a generator will run for 4 hours on a gallon of fuel. Running the generator 24x7 at the current $2 per gallon, I could run the generator for over a year non stop for the price of the solar baloney.

As I said, most of Europe is dumping the solar and wind power nonsense. They let the greens have their way for 20 years and the greens totally failed to prove their case. When it was announced there was a real need for nuclear power, the greens just hung their heads, totally defeated by truth. Renewable energy is just a geek toy that's not at all green.

So, where now? If I can get my capacitor to dump it's load into the fans every time it's full then I should be ok. On a smaller scale, solar might work for ventilation. For cooking, it's total nonsense. As far as charging electronic devices, I'm not really sure solar is worthwhile either.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

They're here!

And I don't mean ghosties and ghoulies emerging from the TV set, wearing pilgrim hats either. My CPU fans arrived from China. Yes, I buy a ton of stuff from China because otherwise I'd have to make this bus construction last multiple years.

I had a little play with one of my two fans. After clipping the funky computer connector off, I attached it to my solar panel and angled the panel at the sun. Nothing happened! That's not surprising. I find solar panels to be very finicky things. (Insert usual caustic comment about the worth of this green energy stuff).

Returning inside the bus I connected the fan to an exhausted 9v battery. The fan picked up speed and blew quite a breeze, purring quietly.

Going back to all this green energy stuff, people have been fantasizing and fanaticizing about it for years. What do we find now? Reading in the news, Britain and many other countries have realized just what a crock this green energy thing is and how it's cheaper and more efficient just to build nuclear power plants instead.

As I have said before, the chance of running air conditioning from solar is nil. The blessed panels won't even generate usable power in daylight, half the time! Example, my 5W panel won't power a 50ma fan. I'm also concerned about the copious heat generated by the panels. The back of my 5W panel gets pretty hot when it's actually running my old, small CPU fan. I can't imagine the number of panels needed to power an air conditioner that has to cool not only the bus but the extra heat passed into the bus by scalding hot solar panels. It's worth noting that solar panels get less efficient the hotter they get!

I'm definitely thinking more in terms of charging a battery from the alternator that's otherwise isolated from the main bus circuitry. That should provide ample power for fans, phone etc. I did briefly consider a wind turbine but realized that most of the time, the wind would just not blow strongly enough. None of these free energy things seem to be worth the time of day.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

The future

Remaining to be done with my bus, there are a few things. Most of the work has been done so far. Briefly the following still need to be done (there are probably more things):

First, the door unlocker. Thinking about it, I'm probably better putting several wraps of coil wire around my brass tube. The ends could have copper attachments soldered on. I'd have to buy a gas torch but that's not expensive - I think  I saw one in Walmart for $14 the other day. I'm thinking about 8 coils layered over the tube. In order to reduce the chance of singing the coil, I'll probably use my two position key switch. The first position puts power through the coil from a capacitor, the second charges the capacitor. Thus, operating the magnet is a case of turning the key two clicks and waiting a few seconds while the capacitor charges. Rotating the key to the first click discharges the capacitor through the magnet, unlocking the door.

Second, the ventilation system. This will be two computer fans powered by two small solar panels mounted beside the vents. I have two fans on order. I'm waiting to see how good they are before I go further. I'm definitely not solar power's biggest fan. Thinking further, if the panels produce surplus power (yeah, it's a pipe dream), maybe that extra power could run a 3rd computer fan that operates my cooling system.

Third, the cooling system. This is my own design. It's not as good as a common household unit but on the other hand, a common household unit would need 120v at 10A. The plan is to put a drum underneath the bus, full of water. Pipes carrying air will pass through the water. A computer fan sucks air out of the tubes and blows it into the bus via insulated tubing. Underneath the barrel is the inlet vent for the air. The air gets sucked in, passes through the tubes, losing its heat to the water then gets blown into the bus. The water is allowed to evaporate via a ventilation tube. Water is put into the barrel via a filling tube.

Fourth, the fresh water barrel or barrels. These can be bought for about $45 each from Walmart. I have the mounts to install one, already. There's space on each side of the bus for one 15 gallon barrel. I honestly don't see myself using huge quantities of water.

Fifth, this is just a thought. I could put a small air conditioner together using Peltier elements. This is not something that could be run from these funky solar panel thingies. They're too woefully underpowered. That's something to run from shore power. The advantage is Peltier stuff is lightweight, compact and inexpensive. The downside is it needs a lot of electricity. That's no real worry when shore power is being used, however.

Sixth, I want to put an extraction fan over the kitchen area. This will pump the expelled air down and out of a vent in the side of the bus. This might be battery powered, purely because it won't be used solely in daylight and won't be used for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Seventh, I need to fix the messy under bus wiring. This includes rewiring the reversing horn. Now that, I'd like to operate via a manual switch on the console rather than via the funky automated system that the hillbillies installed.

Eighth, I would like to install a second reversing camera but fitted to work as a normal rear view camera. That actually tags onto something else. I need to remount the reversing camera screen. That's going to be tricky as when I mounted it, I inadvertently screwed it into a ventilation tube. Those holes will have to be plugged as a priority.

Nineth, I'm thinking about a general battery. I have no definite plans for that. I'm not impressed by solar panels. They cost a lot of money, produce minimal power during daylight only. For the moment I'm thinking of just charging phones etc from NiMh AA batteries. I really don't have much need for power to be honest. Refrigeration is handled by a cooler and a bag of ice.

Then there are some maintenance issues. I need to get the left rear indicator working again. I'd like to get the right hand windscreen wiper working. The hazard light switch, one of the wiper switches and the turn signal switch all need to be replaced. The alternator belt needs to be changed. The horn button needs to be fixed too. That has totally given up and the hillbilly button attached out of arms reach doesn't quite cut it!

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Re: And the Lord spake: Let there be light - and lo, there was light.

And there was light - briefly! I took the covers off the left rear turn signal and left reversing light. The reversing light is pretty rusty inside - ripe for replacement. The cover was pretty opaque - until I washed it out. It was filthy and full of what appeared to be mud. Heaven alone knows why that should be.

The left turn lamp was somewhat dim. I had changed the cover before because I was not overly keen on the arrow built in. Pulling the bulb out was the obvious step and indeed it came out but in two pieces! After replacing the bulb with a brand new one, I tested and it worked. The light was too dim for my liking. Thus I changed the cover over to the arrow cover again - after washing it thoroughly. Again, it was full of mud. It's almost as if the back of the bus was submerged in muddy water! Testing it again, it didn't light. I'll return to that another day.
I completed installing the lower rear window security panel. Installation was easier than I had anticipated. It's not brilliantly strong but it'll take a villain long enough that they'll move on rather than spend the time. Installation took very few minutes.

Next, I found my Harbor Freight gas burner again. I tried filling it with no joy. Trying various things, I failed to get it working. Thus I slowly dismantled it. Half way through, the cylinder portion blew off under gas pressure and shot across the yard. Investigation revealed the gas inlet valve worked just fine but the valve to the burner was jammed. That was freed but when the cylinder blew off, the ignition tube was damaged. Basically, it is unusable junk. Time for the trash!

Next, I taped along the roofline where I'd splattered white over the gray. The tape was allegedly masking tape but was really hard to get off the roll. Still, I managed and touched up the gray. Then it was a case of peeling off the tape. It all took quite a while but the results were satisfactory as can be seen. I'll touch up the grey where the wrong kind of grey was used on the side of the bus at some future point. There are a few places where the gray has come off, revealing yellow. I'll touch that up as I go along.
The last thing I did was to add amber reflectors to the outer edges of the mirrors. I have noticed vehicles with amber markers on their wing mirrors and thought it a good idea. Anything that adds safety is a good idea! Doing this, I noticed my quarter mirrors are both right hand mirrors and both on right handed supports. I'll bet it was Calcaseu Parish School District that did that. I don't think the hillbilly previous owners would have bothered.

In other news, I'm now blogging from my iPad. I had been using a blogging app yesterday but it destroyed all my paragraph spacing, turning all my nicely formatted and readable text into a massive block that's hard to read. Thus, today I'm using the email option that blogger offers. It means no tags and no search description but the blog gets published and that's what matters!
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Worn down and exhausted

Yup... That's me. I'm absolutely exhausted. One friend suggested vitamin B and sunlight without knowing I'm out in the sun a few hours most days. Guess I'll try the vitamin B. Nevertheless, I did get a little done. One of the things that was bugging me was the way the paint on one side of the roof was streaky due to my starting work with a brush. Thus, I got up on my stepladder and sprayed the streaks. The end result looked pretty good. I still have to get up there with masking tape to tidy up the seam between the white and grey areas.
The quest to design a door unlocking system continues. I retried my coil with a neodymium cylinder magnet inside and some more magnets on top for weight. Applying a 9v battery, the magnet leapt out of the coil. There was little extra power from the plunger effect and the coil rapidly became quite warm if not hot. It's probably best to redo the coil on a copper plumbing tube. They say thickness is best for magnetic coils. I'm pretty sure the coils have to wind in the same direction so it could be a case of having to layer the coils. Thus far there is no believable online source on coil winding. It's going to be a lot of experimentation. I continued to play with the electromagnets I bought with little success. Trying them with a compass, they worked as North or South Pole magnets. Oddly, they refused to repel my neodymium magnets. It didn't matter what the polarity combination was but nothing happened other than the magnets remained firmly stuck together. There has been no progress with the security panel on the back door. I'll try to work on that tomorrow. I just hope I'm feeling better. It's a simple process to screw the panel on. I just have to get down to it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ouch! Note to self - wear gloves!

Today there were three or four goals in mind and blow me down if I didn't achieve most of them! The first thing I did - while waiting for milady to enter my smaller chariot in order to whisk her off to our monthly date at Walmart (for grocery shopping) - I  sprayed the inward face of the security panel with more white appliance epoxy.

During the monthly jaunt to Walmart, I nipped next door and visited Lowes (hiss, spit) and bought a gallon of white paint, some M5 nuts and replacement electrical plug and connector. The plan is to use M5 nuts to space my panel away from the door a little more in order to stand it off, away from the rubber gasket holding the window in place. As I already have M5 bolts and M5 rivnuts, it would seem a shame not to use them! The space between the M5 nuts can be filled by my leftover window padding from when I moved some of the original bus windows around.

Having returned from Walmart, I looked at the bus and decided to paint the roof. I started initially with a brush and a small can but graduated to the gallon can and a roller fairly quickly. The brush left the usual streaks and dribbles but the roller was far better with more even coverage. Needless to say, I finished the edges fairly quickly using my stepladder and roller.

It was time to climb on the roof. Before now I had used a ladder to climb up to the roof. This time I used a stepladder to climb onto the hood then the small steps I use to enter the bus via the back door to climb from the hood to the roof. The first trip to the roof was quite painful as the roof was very hot and burned my hands. Next time I wore a pair of gardening gloves and that solved that!

I think I was up on the roof of the bus in hot sunshine for about two hours. I was quite wobbly by the time I came down for the last time. The first coat of white went on so well that I don't think that it is necessary to put a second.
I'll tidy up the areas where I have painted white into areas I want to remain grey at a later date. I might even get a can of white spray to touch up areas I haven't hit with the roller when I was trying to cover up areas painted with a brush. Clearly at some point I'll have to paint the inside of the front wheel arches. They're still yellow at the moment.

Inside the bus, shortly after completing the white paintwork I noticed the thermometer had recorded a 2 degree drop in temperature. I'll have to see if it reaches the summer high of 140F that it reached last year. After the white paint had dried, I put my hand on the white area and it was not uncomfortable. I put my hand on a neighboring grey area and it was very uncomfotably hot.

I continued on working with my security panel but after painting the window side of the panel with white paint, the paint had not fully dried in the crevices. Thus, after drilling the mounting holes, it was not really practical to install it. Of course, having got so exhausted by the heat, I spent a while just putzing around, doing little jobs before deciding to drill the holes in the panel.
The first putzing job was straightforward - I put the caps into the holes intended for faucets on my sink. I do have a little catching device that goes down the plug hole but I haven't much idea which box it's in at the moment. Anybody that knows me in real life will know I store everything in boxes but can rarely remember which item is in which box. At one time I tried cataloging my boxes but didn't keep the catalog up to date and that was the end of that idea.
I think those caps look pretty good. I'm happy with the result. As you can see, there's a lot of tidying that needs to be done. I'm slowly beginning that process, taking leftover materials to the shed as well as tools that I won't need to use again in the bus, even during routine maintenance. As you might have guessed, I'm coming toward the end of construction.
Another of my putzing jobs was to replace the plug and connector on my 20A cable. The plug is a 15A plug but that's not a problem. I'll eventually replace it with a 20A plug when the bus is in use. Those are interesting plugs as they're hinged at the sharp end. My old plugs probably disintegrated because though they were for 20A cables, the cable probably put too much stress on them. I've tried to leave the plugs a little less stressed by not tightening the case screws too hard. If they break then I'll have to find some heavier duty plugs - probably via eBay.

I was very impressed with yesterday's test of my CPU fan. It shifted large quantities of air. I can well imagine two of those would evacuate quite a lot of the hot air from inside the bus. Combined with my white paint, this should make a major reduction in interior temperature.

I am looking forward to completing this project. As far as I can see - aside from cleaning, tidying and putting my stuff in the right drawers - there's not much left to do. I need to put an unlocking system on the front door. How useful that would have been, done right at the start! There's the ventillation, the remains of what needs to be done to the security door and fixing a hole the hillbillies cut in the floor of what is now my wardrobe.

Other than that, it might be interesting to put a battery into the mix. I'm still not convinced by solar panels. On the other hand, all my battery will be doing is charging phone/tablet/laptop/camera batteries. It need not be a massive battery. I'm very tempted by NiMh D cells or perhaps AA cells, built together in an old ammunition box. Unlike lithium batteries, they're a cheaper way of doing things. Unlike lead-acid, they won't emit noxious fumes. Unlike SuperCaps, they don't cost the earth. Another advantage is that I can get replacement cells very easily.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday the Fourteenth is Jason day

The wacky stuff that is alleged to happen on Friday the thirteenth finally arrived. Friday itself was quite boring but Saturday...

The first thing I did was to set out to do some welding to make a security screen for the lower back window. Thus, I got out my extension cord and found both the plug and the connector had disintegrated. The plug and connector were from Lowes (hiss, spit) and purchased new about 6 months ago. The cord had been used two or three times then put carefully in a closet on the bus and nothing put on top. In the intervening time, one plug had cracked and both plugs had broken away from the screw threads holding the two parts together. What a diabolical disaster. I can't believe Lowes (hiss, spit) had the cheek to charge for that garbage.
Working around the cable issue, I got my welding gear together and started welding with my latest rods. That didn't go at all well! The rods with no hesitation burned right through the steel.

Looking with dismay at the holes, I took my welding helmet off whereupon it immediately fell apart. Clearly Friday the Thirteenth was a late arrival! I gave up for a while.

After a rest, I carried on with plan B. That involved riveting metal strips onto the security patch. As the welding had torn up the edge of the steel sheet, I had to move the security sheet nearer to the center of the sheet of steel i had cut from an old fridge some weeks ago.
Having trimmed the steel and riveted the steel strips on the edge, i painted the passenger compartment side of the panel with anti-rust paint then with white appliance epoxy. At that, it was time to pack it in for the day.

Tomorrow I want to try to complete the installation, including installing it. As tomorrow has been declared by milady to be a shopping day, I'll have the opportunity to buy some needed supplies.

I need to get some plugs to cover the faucet holes on my handbasin since there won't be a faucet. I also want to get some white paint. 

Inside the bus, the temperature was 108 farenheit. That was pretty hot! As many busses in SC have white rooves, I think I will paint the roof of mine white. That will reflect some heat at least.

TThe next stage will be to add extraction fans. I have a usable solar panel that I can glue to the roof. Today I had it connected  to a CPU fan. It worked pretty well though I probably need to add a capacitor to collect low current in order to give the fan a starting boost.

I'm not initially going to have a battery or a generator nor a fresh water tank. Those can be added at any time as can a modified swamp cooler.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Plumbing completed

There's not much to say. I crawled under the bus and completed my plumbing under the washbasin in the bathroom. It was just like the plumbing for the shower albein with narrower tubing. I still need to seal a few things underneath but not an awful lot and it won't leak if I don't.

I cut the steel strip for my back lower window cover. My new thinking is just to screw a sheet of steel over the window with a shim to allow for the window gasket. It's easier and faster.

In other news I carefully stripped my tablet down to look inside. It is the USB socket that has failed. That's microsoldered into place. Microsoldering is a little beyond my skills and equipment. I hadn't really hoped for anything. I guess the tablet is trash. Still, it'll make a nice video!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

I cannot reccommend Android tablets

In December I bought an RCA tablet. It was the 7 inch Voyager 2 Pro and was purchased in December from Walmart. No fault of Walmart what subsequently transpired.

The tablet came with a keyboard case. The keyboard was a delight to use. The problems with the tablet were minimal. It was fast, had sufficient storage and worked well. The keyboard was at a very strange angle. With the keyboard level, reading the screen was somewhat hard due to its narrow viewing angle. A few apps wouldn't work on it. The screen was low resolution and didn't have a great color gamut.

Then on the 20th of March, the USB charger port worked loose. It had been getting gradually sloppier and sloppier. It stopped charging the tablet totally. As it was under manufacturer warranty, I contacted RCA. They responded - eventually - with a series of very confusing emails. It transpired they wanted me to spend $10 to ship their incompetently constructed hardware back to them. They promised to ship me back - not a new purple tablet but a reconditioned black tablet. Basically they would be shipping me a tablet somebody else had rejected or had failed to keep their payments up on.

So, because RCA is incompetent in their construction, they want me to pay $10 to ship their junk back to them. No - no way. I am not throwing $10 of good money away after $50 wasted on trash.

That set me thinking. I spent $90 on a Nook Color. That let me down, embarrasingly, in public. At a time when they were going on eBay for $75 I listed it and got the princely sum of $26 for it. Way under the going rate. I took it just to get shot of the bloody thing.

Then I bought a $50 RCA 7 inch tablet with 8GB storage. That was so worthless I threw it in the closet and spent $100 on a reconditioned Nexus 7. That worked reasonably well but stopped working about 12 months later. I did the factory reset which was when I discovered the factory image was missing. It had bricked itself!

Looking around I found lots of people that allegedly fixed tablets. None would reflash my Nexus 7. I don't have a good enough internet connection out in the sticks to download the gigabytes of data needed to fix it. It went in the closet.

So, next was the latest RCA disaster area. By now I have spent $290 on tablets and regained $26. Basically I have spent the $269 of an iPad mini and had nothing but frustration.

It is looking increasingly as though Android tablets of whatever price are just throwaway devices. As soon as they go wrong, throw them away. It's not as simple as that though. All data stored on them can be restored after deletion. With villains so easily undeleting data, the only way to ensure data security is to destroy the device.

So, I could spend $10 more on my RCA junk AND run the risk of somebody stealing my data. I don't think I'll bite on that one!

Whre to go from here? Well, there are 3 options:
1. Fix my laptop (it probably needs a new battery) and say "stuff tablets".
2. Buy a new junk tablet and hope it will last longer.
3. Stretch my finances, say "stuff it" and buy an iPad mini.

From my experience, it seems the weak point on the Android junk is the USB charger. All of my tablets and my phone have USB charging ports. All the USB ports have failed. My phone is now charged solely via a cordless charging pad. My Nexus 7 USB was getting very loose. The latest RCA tablet has probably got broken solder connections. This is why Apple uses their Lightning connector.

The reason why we have crappy USB connectors is because the EU wanted a standard power connector to reduce electronic waste. It actually causes more electronic waste because when the flimsy USB connector fails, the device is thrown away. It's just too expensive to repair them.  

This leaves me blogging with just my phone and a bluetooth keyboard. It's not a happy state of affairs. I am not happy! Given that my Nexus 4 Android phone is complaining of memory issues, I  suspect it is not long for the road either.

Clearly I'm going to have to go forward from here. The solution might be an iPad mini and simply replace my phone when it dies - probably with a flip phone. Each time I buy a smartphone, I swear I will go back to a flip phone. Give that nobod ever calls me, that might well be the way forward. As far as the tablet, I'm not sure that I wouldn't be better just fixing my laptop and not bothering with a tabet. Perhaps just get a cheap Chromebook.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

104F and I'm sick as a dog

I work with kids who're very generous with their germs. I'm really unwell today but against my own advice I worked on the bus. I didn't do the underbus plumbing as the ground was wet. I certainly don't need to be wet as well as ill!
As can be seen, the plumbing inside the bus is complete. A handyman looked in and made derogatory comments but what the heck. I don't care if my plumbing isn't to whatever code might exist. All I care is that it works and is easy to maintain.

At this point, having done little other than a small amount of plumbing, I called it a day. What with the 104F inside the bus plus the humidity, the stormy weather and the virus I have, I was just about ready to hurl.

As I told my dad - between the heat, humidity, mosquitoes, illnesses and work, I just don't get much time to work on the bus. My aim had been April of 2015. It's now May of 2016.

Remaining to be done - ventilation, some power source, finishing the grey water plumbing. Those are first priorities. Next are welding a panel over the back door lower window, fitting a door unlatching system and then finally fixing the hillbilly wiring.

In other news, I found the bus title. That means I can now send off again to get it retitled as a motorhome. I really need to finish the sink plumbing and put in some ventilation!