Thursday, April 28, 2022

Day 63, 64, 65 - Orlando Area - TT

Tuesday (63) - Another warm day but no wind, which is key. I’m sitting outside the PT location and it’s 79°F with very little breeze. Maybe it’s time to just sit in the air-conditioned waiting room. Masks are now optional at the PT location. 

We then went to pick up my Amazon package. It turns out that a replacement Victron shunt is very difficult to find so I picked up a BMV-700, which is the non-Bluetooth version of the battery monitor, as it is considerably cheaper. I’ll install the new shunt and contact Victron about repairing the old one as the unit has a five year warranty. The shunt supplied with the BMV-700 is slightly different as it doesn’t have the chassis battery voltage connection. I’ll install it tomorrow morning as I need to disconnect everything running on 12VDC. 

Wednesday (64) - Yet another warm day. It's 82°F at a little after noon. I'm enjoying sitting outside and getting ready for the afternoon test session. When the breeze is blowing, it's wonderful. The new shunt is installed as well as the BMV-700 as I got a call from Battle Born Batteries, the Victron preferred dealer, and they are going to process the warranty claim. They mentioned that Victron will probably want the meter as well as the shunt sent in. 

Thursday (65) - Moving day today. We are headed back to Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort for the next couple of weeks. This morning, I measured the windshield for a MagneShade, a external sunshade which attaches to the windshield with strong magnets while parked. Reports from other RVers is that it significantly reduces the heat in the front while parked. All of the coach windows are double pane but none of the front ones are. 

We have a decent site backed up to a small lake with golf course on the other side. It was flat enough but did need leveling blocks under the drivers side tires and rear jack. The automatic leveling system had no problem getting us level. The pool and hot tub are both clean and heated. Felt wonderful…

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Day 59, 60, 61, 62 - Orlando Area - TT

Friday (59) - I’ve been trying to get my DMR hotspot back up and running. It wasn’t able to boot. I wasn’t sure if it was a hardware or software problem. Hardware was easier to address. I had a Pi 2 lying around with an older version of HomeAssistant on the SD card. It wouldn’t boot with the hotspot SD card. And the hotspot wouldn’t boot with the HomeAssistant SD card. But they are different hardware. Pi 2 vs Pi 3 B+. I re-downloaded a fresh image for the hotspot and, after a lot of trouble, copied it onto the SD card from the hotspot. Still wouldn’t boot. 

I then took the SD card from the experimental Pi-Hole server, which is a Pi 3, and put it into the hotspot and it was able to boot. So the Pi hardware on the hotspot was good. The hotspot SD card wouldn’t boot any of the Pi’s that I had. I re- burned the image onto the Pi-Hole SD card and that fixed the problem. SD card failure. This was after spending hours trying to put the image on the old card. After all, it worked yesterday. 

Saturday (60) - Up early today as Bridget had an 8am appointment. It turns out due to scheduling that we may be in Florida for a while longer. 

I met up with Bob at Lowe’s to pick up one of Bridget’s boxes. Later on, another package arrived. There’s supposed to be another one tomorrow…

Sunday (61) - Less wind predicted for today! It’s always nice to be able to put the awning out. It keeps the RV cooler and the absorption refrigerator runs cooler as it’s on the sunny side.

Spent some time floating around the pool followed by warming up in the hot tub. The pool was on the cool side. I think they may be starting to rely on the sun to heat the pool.  

Monday (62) - It’s starting to get on the “warm” side at 84°F at 2pm. I’m doing a test session while sitting outside and the light breeze makes the temperature tolerable. I’m using my folding ladder/step stool as a table since I put away the folding table. 

The highs are going to be up there so I don’t plan on spending a lot of time outside during the day. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Day 56, 57, 58 - Orlando Area - TT

Tuesday (56) - Another beautiful day though it is forecast to be breezy. The temperatures are ideal. Bridget is at her PT appointment and I’m enjoying it outside with the Jeep top open while typing this. 

I picked up the new Victron battery monitor from Bob’s home on the way back from Bridget’s PT. I’m thinking of replacing things in steps to try and isolate which part failed. 

  1. New cable, original shunt and meter - No
  2. New cable, new meter with the original shunt - No
  3. New cable, old meter, new shunt - Yes
  4. Old cable, old meter, new shunt - Yes
Well, it looks like the shunt failed. I guess I’ll see if I can get it replaced by Victron and then try to sell the new battery monitor with a new shunt. 

Since I have been using the AT&T hotspot almost exclusively, I changed the configuration of the Ubiquity Nano to use LAN1 for the WAN and LAN0 for the inside network. With LAN1 connected directly to the ethernet port on the hotspot. Hopefully, it'll be more reliable.

Wednesday (57) - It was a cool 58°F last night and a very pleasant 72°F now at 10am. There is enough of a wind to discourage having the awning out. I believe that we are going back to Epcot this afternoon and have not made reservations anywhere for a change. I believe the plan is to just walk around Epcot, maybe try some of the festival kiosk offerings, and maybe jump on a ride if there is a minimal wait time. 

We entered Epcot around 3pm. It’s moderately crowded but not as bad as during the holidays. It’s partially cloudy and 79°F so pretty nice weather. We usually head to the right towards Canada and go around the world showcase counter-clockwise. Thus time we are heading clockwise. 

I had the bruschetta with grilled vegetables and feta. Very tasty with the balsamic glaze. I should try and make this sometime. 

At Club Cool you can sample Coca Cola products from different countries. The Joy from Korea was the best offered here. Apple-lychee. The worst tasting was the smart sour plum.

The next small entree was the plant based Korean short ribs. Also, very tasty. The texture was closer to meatloaf but the sauce was spicy and the pickles were a nice addition. 

Thursday (58)
 - I finally got around to putting more micro-usb outputs on the 5vdc buck converter. It has a capacity of 35 watts so it should be able to power the three Raspberry Pi3s in the cabinet. The buck converter has two modes. Voltage limit and current limit. I run it simply as a 5VDC supply with USB outputs. The input is an Anderson Powerpole connector which I sort of standardized on inside the RV. 

I now have two of the four Raspberry Pi's powered off the buck converter. The third one, the DMR ham radio hotspot, doesn't boot completely. I asked the developer for a link to the software image. I will try re-imaging the SD card and try again later. Not sure what the problem is as it worked fine a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Day 53, 54, 55 - Four Corners, FL - TT

Saturday (53) - I started the day by making breakfast on the Blackstone and followed up with a morning test session. Then did a little work on the Jeep before it got too hot. The trailer hitch wiring has a small electronic module and needed a 12VDC connection. The instructions said to run a wire all the way to the battery.  I opted to remove the drivers side plastic panel that has a 12VDC power connection, aka cigarette lighter, and wire the module there. Only 18” of wire instead of 20 feet. I used the magnetic tail/turn lights that we used when towing the Prius to test the trailer connector. 

Sunday (54) - It hit 90°F today! We went back to Grace Community Church for Easter morning service. This is where we stayed last week as they are a Harvest Host. At 6pm, there were thunderstorms in the area. I’m guessing that afternoon thunderstorms is a normal weather pattern for FL at this time of year. At least there isn’t tornadoes.

The Victron BMV-712 battery monitor bit the dust. It’s only 2 1/2 years old but the display is blank. There is a long cable connecting the monitor on the wall to the shunt in the battery compartment so I made a one foot cable to see if it was a cable problem. It wasn’t. I ordered a replacement from Amazon. It’s supposed to be delivered tomorrow. Supposedly, there is a five year warranty and I’ll probably pursue that after the new one gets installed.

Monday (55) - I walked down to the lake this morning. I really need to get out and walk more. It had rained last night and at 83%, it is pretty humid. For me, hot and humid is not what I like. 

Around 10am, I went to the pool. It was really nice. Only two other people in the pool. I suspect that it’ll be a zoo later today as the forecast is for the mid-80s (°F). After sitting in the pool for an hour or so, I joined a test session. I think my Internet issues are related to all of the WiFi in the park. So I'm trying connecting to the AT&T hotspot via ethernet to see if it works any better.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Day 50, 51, 52 - Four Corners, FL - TT

Wednesday (50) - This pond is just up the road from our site and is within the RV park boundary. Warning signs for alligators and snakes are there but I couldn’t see anything.  

I rode the bike around the perimeter of the park and this place is huge. There’s even a fishing pier on a large lake. 

In late afternoon, we went back to Epcot. The Flower and Garden Festival is still going on so there are quite a few special booths set up around the World Showcase. Epcot is easily my favorite of the Disney World parks. 

We had been trying to get a reservation at the Garden Grill but have been unsuccessful. But when I checked the walk-up waitlist, it said a ten minute wait. And it really was only a 10 minute wait. The meal was very good except for the green beans. They were too salty. 

On the way out, we stopped to watch the light show on the Epcot dome. Goofy is holding a cake as part of the 50th celebration. 

Thursday (51) -
The morning task was installing a trailer connector on the back of the Jeep. Not that we plan to ever tow anything but we may use a cargo or bike carrier on the back and it could have lights. The unit I installed was made by Curt and it has a small electronic module to control the trailer lights. With the module, the trailer light power is isolated from the Jeep lights. A good system. 

The awning screen came from Amazon yesterday to Bob’s home (thank you!). The upper foot of the screen slides into a track on the awning tube and the lower six feet zips on. Then add some stakes and guy lines. It does a good job of reducing the sun and doesn’t trap heat. 

Friday (52)
 - It rained a bit last night but it is another nice day today. The sunshade is working well. I've been thinking of picking one of these up for a while. At least every time the passenger side is facing south or west. I picked up some tent stakes from Walmart last night as the metal stakes don't have enough cross-sectional area to hold in the sandy soil. Two of the stakes actually screw into the ground.

We had heard that if you don’t like the weather in Florida, wait a few minutes. A front came through seemingly out of nowhere. I put things away and by the time I was done, the severe weather alert was gone…

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Day 48, 49 - Four Corners, FL - TT

Monday (48) - Another beautiful day. Mid-70s with a light breeze. I think we could use a little bit more shade in the afternoon so I dug out the old slide topper material. It still had the plastic bead which fits into a track on the awning roller. I hemmed up opposite edge where I had cut off the really sun baked material. I just need to pick up some grommets for the lower edge. This will work for now but I would like to order a sun blocking net version that zips on and off. The Singer sewing machine worked fine on the heavy slide topper fabric.

It’s pretty warm around the entire state though the forecast isn’t for 90°F days just yet. The evenings are nice and cool and if there’s a breeze, it’s very doable. 

Tuesday (49) - Some running around in the morning. Bridget had a PT appointment, I wanted to pick up some grommets, we picked up a package from a friends house in Winter Garden, and we needed some groceries. 

Well it does add more shade but also traps the heat. I went ahead and ordered a screen version from Amazon. It’s supposed to be here tomorrow. But for now, the additional shade is nice. 

And a big thank you to Bob for letting us send things to your address! Bob is one of the ham radio VEs. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Day 46, 47 - Groveland and Clermont, FL - HH

Saturday (46) - We only went ten miles yesterday but the GPS says we are in Groveland, FL, and not Clermont. We ordered breakfast here at the HH location. I had the brisket w/eggs which came with potatoes and toast. And Bridget had the stuffed French toast.

Since we only had around 20 miles to go today, we headed out around noon. This HH location is a church parking lot south of Clermont. There weren’t many level spots in the parking lot but this one wasn’t bad. No tires off the ground or leveling blocks needed.

This morning, the SOC of our batteries was 65%. Between solar and the engine, it was 75% when we arrived at the church. I ran the generator to get them to 90% then solar took them to 100%. 

Sunday (47) - We arrived at TTO aka Thousand Trails Orlando right around noon. We are in almost the same site that we were last time so we have a pretty unobstructed SSW view. We are here for almost three weeks. Much roomier sites than Clerbrook. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Day 43, 44, 45 - Clermont, FL - TT

Wednesday (43) - We are still at the same RV park in Clermont, FL, until Friday. We then move to a couple of Harvest Hosts before heading back to TTO for several weeks. Bridget is at her first PT appointment for her back. 

I used the Blackstone griddle for several dishes. It is definitely hotter and faster than the stove. Fried rice is fast since multiple items can be cooked at the same time and the two burners allow two different temperatures. It also did a great job of searing both a roast and salmon filets. 

Thursday (44) - The forecast is for storms in the early afternoon and later this evening. The weather service was warning severe thunderstorms with hail possible but we didn’t see or hear any hail at our location. 

Friday (45)
 - We traveled all of ten miles to our next stop at OrganicaWorld, a HH location and farm-to-table market. We arrived around noon and found a nice, flat spot. We picked up some delicious jams, pickles, and salsa and plan to order dinner (to go) later this afternoon. The host mentioned that he expects six RVs today. 

Someone was really annoyed when the engine was started. She does not like travel days. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Day 40, 41, 42 - Clermont, FL - TT

Sunday (40) - We are still at the Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort. We attended the non-denominational church service here at the RV park and the speaker was pretty good. Afterward, we went to Sam’s Club with Cindy and bought more groceries than I expected. Sam’s seems to have more grocery choices than Costco. Such as the container of yellow, saffron rice. Much more convenient than the small bags sold at some grocery stores, though Bridget said it wasn’t as tasty.

Monday (41) - Another beautiful day. Not muggy or windy. I’ve been riding the bike around the park most days and this place is pretty big. Lots of RV sites in addition to park models. This place is really starting to empty out with the snowbirds heading north including a lot of Canadians. The neighbors across the street just have the park management put their trailer into storage until they return. That way it’s an easy three-day trip back to Ottawa.

The pool is still over-full, especially after the heavy rain over the weekend. But it’s still nice to float around in. Some of the people there were complaining that it needed to be vacuumed as the wind and rain resulted in some leaf debris on the bottom. 

I’ll be joining the early afternoon test session today. Demand for testing has gone up since the FCC announced a $35 charge for new licenses as of April 19th. This charge was announced quite a while ago but implementation has taken quite a while. In fact, todays candidate mentioned this as his reason for taking the test.

Now, our journey to “RVers” is complete. We now have a Blackstone griddle. Maybe it’s a stereotype but many RVers have a Jeep, e-bikes, inflatable kayaks or stand up paddle boards, and a Blackstone. Now, we fit in… Actually, I’ve been shopping for one for a while but Covid shortages made them hard to find for a while. At least the 22” model I was looking for.

Tuesday (42) - Re-arranged the basement storage so the compressor freezer is on the sliding tray. Now the lid can be opened all the way making it much easier to use.  Of course, this required moving just about everything else. But I think it’s easier to get to most things. 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Day 37, 38, 39 - Clermont, FL - TT

Thursday (37) - A windy day with gusts to 25mph followed by a lot of rain with thunder and lightning. We watched Apollo 13 with Galen and Cindy as a follow up to the KSC visit yesterday. Great movie!

Friday (38) - In the morning I went to the Florida Orange Pass service center as we still hadn’t heard about the tolls from our trip to Key Largo. The website said to allow 10 days and it’s been over three weeks. They had no record of our license plate. But she did mention that there are two independent systems. “Toll-by-Plate” and “Pay-by-Plate”. How about that for confusing. I did pick up a Uni-Pass from Amazon to make this whole toll thing less stressful. It’s on the E-Pass system and works in 19 other states on the eastern seaboard but not in the Midwest where we had run into other toll roads. 

The pool and hot tub are full to overflowing from last nights rain. That means maybe a couple of inches of rain. Water from the pool deck can’t get into the pool so it’s just from the rain. BTW, the pool and jacuzzi were relaxing though the pool was on the warm side on this 80°F day. 

Saturday (39)
 - Warm, muggy, and overcast. After the early morning test session, I went for a bike ride and I’m at the pool right now. It’s supposed to start raining in a couple of hours so this may be the only time today for the pool. I just float around to cool off then sit around drying off. Easier said than done with the high humidity. 

Shortly after the mid-day test session, it started to rain. The map shows that thunderstorms may be around for the rest of the day. At least there is no significant wind. I could leave the awning out which keeps things (like the e-bikes) dry.