Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Tucson, AZ

Sunday - Lunch/dinner at Culver's and groceries from Fry’s. Not much else until going to the pool around sunset. At 98°F, it was too hot for much else.

Monday - I participated in the morning and afternoon test sessions. I'm amazed at the difference that my new "computer glasses" that I picked up at Costco make. So much easier to read the text on the screen. 

After dinner, I headed down to the pool. There were thunderstorm warnings in the late afternoon but we never saw a drop and all the lightning was west of town. 

I ordered an RV Lock for the motor home. They are finally starting to make one for class A RVs. We had one on the 5th wheels and it may be one of our favorite upgrades. Being able to lock/unlock the deadbolt using a remote or the keypad was a huge convenience. Plus if you need to give access, you just need to give them the code. There is even a LE BT option available so you can lock or unlock using your phone. 

Tuesday - Morning test session today and the AT&T internet seems decent. In fact, the park's complimentary WiFi isn't that bad either though not enough bandwidth for Zoom. 

Dinner was grilled potatoes and lemon-garlic shrimp. Maybe I need to add some vegetables…

So I grilled some corn with butter and seasoned salt. It all came out delicious.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Another Project Done

Saturday - Today’s project is trying to fix the turn signal lever. Lately, when signaling a left turn, the rear and Jeep lights flash but the front, mirror, dash, and the light on the side don’t. For quite a while, if I applied a little more force on the turn signal lever, it would work. That temporary "fix" stopped working on the drive from Texas. So I was pretty confident that the problem was something mechanical inside of the switch. Before removing the switch, I searched for a replacement and, big surprise, they were pretty pricey. 

After removing the switch assembly from the steering column, I disassembled it and discovered that there are two sets of contacts for each direction. I’ll assume front and rear. Some of the contacts look a little burned so I’ll clean them up with some fine sandpaper. If I was home I would use the points file that hasn’t been used since the mid-80s. (Remember points?) The reason for the multiple contacts is to handle the current from many bulbs. In this case, five incandescent bulbs for each direction. Maybe I should replace the bulbs with LEDs just to limit the current. 

I used the Dremel to clean off all of the contacts for both directions. Only one left turn contact was severely burned and pitted so I'm going to assume that was the problem. Time to reassemble the switch and test. Look at all that Cu! I guess it’s lasted quite a while. 

Later - Success! We now have front turn signals and four-way flashers. I had earlier assumed that the switch was a sealed, non-serviceable unit. It is probably considered non-serviceable but I was pleasantly surprised that it was so easily disassembled. This was one project that I really wanted to get done while we were stationary as it’s kind of a safety issue.

Other projects: kitchen slide lock, 12v compressor refrigerator conversion, replace SeeLevel II black tank sensor (I already have the sensor), replace inverter, repair windshield washer (pump leaks), add 600 additional watts of solar, LiFePO4 batteries, and replace tile and carpet with vinyl plank flooring. The last one is really major. The inverter, batteries, and solar is pretty straightforward, it’s just $$. The refrigerator conversion is probably the next major project while we are here in Tucson.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Saguaro National Park

Thursday - Today, AT&T seems pretty fast, at least for download. Jitter still seems to be on the high side. After the test session, I walked to Sprouts, one of the grocery stores near the park, and picked up some ingredients for riced cauliflower Spanish rice. If it's good, I'll include the recipe.

Mexican Cauliflower Rice 


Ingredients:

  • 10 oz Bag riced cauliflower 
  • 1/2 Onion diced 
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder 
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika 
  • 2 Tbsp comino / cumin
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic 
  • 1 Can Rotel
  • 1 Tbsp Better Than Bullion 
  • 2 Tbsp butter 
  • Pinch salt & pepper 
  • Cilantro (optional)

Directions:


Microwave frozen cauliflower rice for 6 minutes on high.


Add cauliflower rice to a dry pan on low-medium heat. Cook until completely dry. (5+ mins)


Add diced onions and 2 tbsp of butter. Cook until onions are softened. Add minced garlic, comino or cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika. Mix all dry Ingredients well for a few minutes then add Rotel, Better Than Bullion, salt & pepper and cilantro.


Friday - This morning, we went to Saguaro National Park, the eastern one of the two. The last time we were here, just about everything was closed including the eight mile scenic drive. This used to be a National Monument but was changed to a National Park in the mid-90s. I’m not sure why. 


The recent rains have resulted in a lot more green than usual. This is an ocotillo plant which usually looks like a bunch of dried up sticks. We didn’t see any wildlife except for lizards running across the road and only a handful of other vehicles on the loop. Lots of bicyclists in the parking lot so I suspect that the one-way loop road could get congested. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Some Maintenance, Upgrades, and Repairs

Monday - This morning, we had the RV washed and waxed. It took him over three hours to get it done and it looks pretty good. The wheels are shiny, the glass is clean, and the paint hasn’t been this shiny since we’ve owned it.

It definitely looks better than it did before. After he was finished, I had to bring the slides in and start the engine to get the suspension airbags inflated. Otherwise, there isn’t enough room to put the tire covers back on. 

Around 3:15, I went to the pool to cool off from the 100°F afternoon high. After a half hour or so, a thunderstorm started moving in and the Weather Channel app warned me that lightning strikes were detected within two miles. So, I headed back. Some rain should lower the afternoon temperature. 

Tuesday
 - The morning project was installing an aftermarket hood lock. The Wrangler doesn’t have an inside hood release like 99% of vehicles these days. It has the latches on each side of the hood just like they had back in WWII. For just a bit of security, I added the hood lock. 

To eliminate having to have another key to lose, this one is keyed to the door key just like the gas cap. It is held in place by four stainless ¼ steel pop rivets so it isn’t going anywhere. No holes needed to be drilled as this is where the front trail camera installs. 

It came with a replacement center section grill insert, and the installation took about twenty minutes. Pretty easy since I had removed the grill before when installing the Roadmaster baseplate for flat towing. 

Now tot’s about time for the early test session. 

Later - The Internet was really flaky so I canceled the morning session and removed myself as a lead for the second session.

One other minor project was repairing the bedroom window awning strap. One more thing that has been put off for years due to lack of will. The loop at the bottom was broken and rather than picking up a new strap, I just sewed some extra nylon strapping to the existing awning strap. We rarely even open the blinds on this window as it is behind some cabinet doors. But the awning will probably keep that particular window opening cooler. I scavenged the nylon strap from the never used waist strap on one of my day packs.

Wednesday - I participated in the morning test session while Bridget went to Benson for a dog visit. It is still hot and now humid due to the rainfall last night. I think the forecasted high today is 89°F but it feels warmer than that...

By late afternoon, we had some thunderstorms come through the area. Not a lot of rain but enough to put some water in the wash next to the park. And enough that the NWS has warnings all afternoon about flash flooding. 

Around 7:30, the rain ended so off to the pool/hot tub to relax!



Sunday, September 18, 2022

Tucson

Thursday - Cleaned the solar panels and got an appointment for a RV wash and wax. I turned off the charge function of the Magnum inverter just to see if the panels produce a bit more than 350 watts.

Friday - See Titan Missile Museum

Saturday
 - It was nice and cool-ish this morning, at least cool enough to have breakfast outside. By 9:00, it was starting to warm up. By 10:30 it was time to hit the pool. Into the low 90s, not a single cloud in the sky, and only 19% humidity. 

On Wednesday, I ordered some mid-distance “computer glasses” since I was on Zoom just about every day. The were done yesterday afternoon. Pretty impressive service. They had told me a week to ten days so I never expected two days. 

Sunday
 - I dug the e-bikes out this morning and we rode along the Pantano Wash trail which runs right next to the RV park. Apparently, this trail runs a long way. Most of the riders were the serious riders with skinny tires and colorful jerseys. But, with the pedal assist, we weren’t passed by very many riders. 

The Broadway St bridge is known for large numbers of bats flying out at dusk. This is commemorated by this metal sculpture just north of the bridge along the bike path. 

There was a colorful sunset as I headed for the pool. It had cooled to 90°F by 7pm. 


Friday, September 16, 2022

Titan Missile Museum

Today’s activity (Friday) was visiting the Titan Missile Museum near Green Valley, AZ. It is one of eighteen missile silos that were built in AZ and is now run by the Pima Air Museum. This was a place I really wanted to visit. 

We went on the tour with KathyK and MikeK. You enter the facility by going down 55 steps and through a series of secure compartments and multiple blast doors. Using a series of passcodes to keep people out. 

This diagram shows the setup with the entrance in the center, the middle silo on the right and launch control and living area on the left. 

This is the tour leader in the launch control room. The entire room is suspended on springs to be isolated from shocks. She went through the launch procedure to demonstrate the safeguards that were in place to allow only a deliberate launch. 

After the launch demo, we headed through the tunnel to the missile silo itself. Several blast doors protected the four people working in the facility. The missile in the silo is, obviously, decommissioned and the overhead doors are open halfway and blocked in that position to allow satellite reconnaissance to see into the silo. 

This is the view from the glass dome over the silo. The rectangular opening is to allow verification that the warhead was removed. The open door just above and left of center goes into the tunnel towards launch control. 



Wednesday, September 14, 2022

It Actually Rained

Sunday - Storms came through in the evening. It did make for some colors at sunset. We just had rain and thunder. No hail

Monday - After the storm yesterday, I went ahead and put the awning back out. I brought it in last night as the weather service reported gusts up to 60mph. But the Tucson weather service covers a huge part of the state. Nothing like that around here. 

Two test sessions today and a nice visit to the pool before the rain arrived.  We finished off the day with a wonderful visit with KathyK and Mike.

Tuesday - It was finally cool enough outside to use the Blackstone griddle at only 72°F at 8am. By 9:30, it was already up to the upper 80s. Two test sessions today and I led one of the early tests. A very well-prepared candidate. 

After the afternoon session, it was pool time. The water is feeling warmer but still wonderful. I tried a time-lapse with the clouds but they move very slowly. Around 3, an employee came around with free ice cream for everyone at the pool. That was an unexpected surprise.

After some pool time, I checked the mail. Yes, we even have a mailbox here. 

Wednesday - It cooled off nicely last night and was 67°F this morning. Cool enough to mess with the propane side of the refrigerator again. It hasn’t been working on propane since we had it in the shop. And I assumed that it was because the propane was turned off at the tank. After hooking the Blackstone back in and using it, I am confident that the propane lines are bled of air. I switched the refrigerator to propane yesterday, and the burner never lit. I opened up the back of the fridge, and the igniter was almost touching the burner. It needs to be about 3/16” away or there isn’t a large enough spark. The adjustment is just bending the metal bracket. I don’t know how it moved from when I had bent it previously. Heat?

After messing around with it for 20 minutes, I got the burner to light. I’ll need to watch it for a while either on the front panel of the refrigerator or on HomeAssistant. Something I forgot to do yesterday. 

Apple had purchased the DarkSky weather app and with the new release of iOS 16, had added a ton of features to their weather app such as wind speed and wind gusts. I had been using the DarkSky app for this wind forecast for a while. 

Another sunset at the pool. A very relaxing way to finish off the day. Not that I had a lot going on. The propane flame is still running on the fridge. I think I may leave it running for at least the rest of the week just to make sure it actually works as it should. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Some Minor Projects

Thursday - Another hot day today in spite of the predictions of the weather guessers. It's 97°F at noon with the hottest part of the day yet to come. I spent part of the morning installing the iOS 16 RC onto my iPhone. I guess the servers were busy as they timed out and the download restarted multiple times. But it eventually finished downloading, verified, and installed. Some cool new features but nothing breathtaking so far. The screenshot is an example of a change. You can customize the lock screen with current location, weather, and other widgets. Kind of cool…

Friday - Not too hot today for a change. Only 88°F at noon and not humid. I did get one minor project done on the RV. The stove has a two-piece Corian cover that matches the countertop. A piece on the front, which would match the front of the countertop, is missing. This missing piece also supports the front edge of the cover. With it missing, the surface will flip up if you lean on the front edge. It’s happened more than once fortunately not when I was making coffee. To support the front edge, I drilled and tapped the countertop and screwed in some aluminum spacers with stainless hardware. It works well.

I participated in two test sessions today using the AT&T hotspot. No bandwidth issues. Even though the campground WiFi seems to be pretty fast, there are drops when using Zoom.

Saturday - Not much today. A mid-morning test session and went to the pool just before sunset. In other words, a pretty quiet day. Bridget asked about going to Petrified Forest sometime. It’s about 550 miles round trip so taking the motor home would be around $350 in diesel. I think driving up in the Jeep and staying in a hotel might be cheaper. Or, at worst, about the same. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Cooling Fan Mod

Monday - Here is my latest mod to the electric cooling fan. It’s a two-speed fan and when I ran it at high speed (2500 cfm), the engine temperature would cool down to 183°F when just cruising on flat ground. With the fan on low speed (1600 cfm) the engine temperature is around 188°F. In other words, high fan speed is overkill unless the ambient temperature is hot and/or long grades are involved. The temperature controller is designed for a single-speed fan so it doesn’t have the ability to switch to a higher speed. I walked to the nearby auto parts store and picked up a pair of lighted rocker switches. I wired them to allow me to disable the fan or select low or high speed. I had previously ordered a package of relays for another project so I used one on the high-speed circuit. They are rated at 40amps at 12VDC so they have plenty of current capacity. I still need to secure the wires a bit more but by 9am, it was already 90°F and I was done working outside! 

Tuesday - It's only 9am and already 90°F! I enjoyed the early morning temperatures sitting outside but it became too warm with mosquitos by 8am. The weather guessers claim that cooler temperatures are coming by the weekend. I led a test session this morning but a couple of the other volunteers said that my audio and video seemed to have occasional problems. I was trying out the AT&T hotspot to see if it was more stable than the park WiFi. Actually, Tengo Internet that the park was contracting.

The 102°F temperature was in the middle of the afternoon. I waited until almost sunset before heading to the pool.

Wednesday - This is the Speedtest when using the RV park-supplied commercial WiFi provider. I also tried connecting over WiFi to the AT&T hotspot and got similar results. For today's afternoon, I connected the laptop directly to the hotspot and got much better results. And there wasn't any drops or pauses in the video. I guess that is what I'll be doing for future sessions at this RV park.

It's too hot to do anything outside in the afternoon. Right now, mid-afternoon, it's 100°F. Almost too hot to be at the pool.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Cooling Fan Update and Other Projects

Friday - I forgot to mention an update on the electric cooling fan. When leaving Benson heading west, it is a long, steep grade. It was 88°F and it was uphill starting at the on-ramp. Full throttle in 3rd for a couple of miles then 4th until the top of the grade. The engine temperature peaked at 204°F near the crest. While cruising in 6th up and down the rolling hills afterward, it would climb up to 208°F unless I manually down-shifted to 5th on the uphill sections. So far, the fan seems like a success and worthwhile addition. I may pick up the dual-speed thermostat or install a toggle switch and relay to enable the high-speed mode. On flat ground, with high speed, the engine temperature would hover around 183°F. Probably not really needed.

Since we will be here for a while, I put out the problematic kitchen slide. The mechanical slide lock stops retracting about halfway. If I stop and let it sit for a minute, it'll finish retracting. In addition to the slide, I put out the folding table, tire covers, awning sunshade, etc. Many of these things I wouldn’t bother with if we are only staying somewhere for a week or so.

After the morning test session, I walked in the other direction to Fry's, part of the Kroger (Fred Meyer) chain. And I got almost $30 in grocery discounts. Plus, we get points for gas discounts. It was around 1½ miles round trip in 95°F temperatures. 

Saturday - Yesterday morning, I ordered a Mopar locking gas cap for the Jeep from Amazon. It was delivered yesterday evening while I was at the pool! Same-day delivery in around 10 hours. I guess there is a benefit from being 5 miles from an Amazon warehouse…

Anyway, I now had a small project. To build the lock cylinder to match the physical Jeep key. After watching a 25-minute video on YouTube, I sorted out all the little pieces and springs and found the right ones by, basically, trial and error. It took only about ten minutes but after adding a bit of white grease to the moving parts, I installed the lock cylinder into the cap. Success, it works and I don’t have to have another key. 

Now, time to wait for the second attempt to launch Artemis-1. It’s 7:30 am and already 79°F. Almost too warm to just sit outside. No ham radio tests until Tuesday since it’s a holiday weekend.

Later - Artemis-1 scrubbed again. Disappointing. Incredibly over budget and years of delay. Sad. The next launch window is in a couple of days.

I finished another project that I have been putting off for quite a while. When we changed the slide toppers, I kept one of the old toppers since it was good, sturdy material. I sewed a cover for the tow bar. Since the RV has stopped spewing oil on anything in the back of the RV, it seemed like a good project. 

Sunday - Another hot day. I drove to the grocery store and PetSmart since I didn’t want to carry all of the heavier groceries. And, since I was running around, I had lunch/dinner at Black Bear Diner. One of our favorites. Bridget is flying in tonight around 9 or so and Google says that the airport is 28 minutes away. 

Just got an email that a very good friend of ours had passed away following an accident. Very sad. Praying for the family. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Tucson, AZ

Thursday - A very short travel day today to an RV park due east of Tucson. We are down to 2500’ elevation so the temperature is warmer during the day and not as cool overnight. The site is completely level and paved. Thank you to KathyK, aka Toadmama, for letting us know about their Fall special. 

This will be our first long-term stay as we booked it for four months. Lots of rules but nothing that would bug me. Lots of over-the-air TV channels and reasonable AT&T speed. 23Mbps down and 3Mbps up. We have the site reserved for the next four months. 

The pool is the ideal temperature for this 97°F afternoon…

I walked to the local grocery store which was Sprouts. Picked up a couple of things but there wasn't much that we needed except produce. The RV park provides complimentary WiFi from Tengo Internet. It's alright though the AT&T hotspot is considerably faster for download. But it doesn't have a bandwidth cap so that is a win.