Sunday, December 31, 2023

Wild vs Jets

Sunday - It was kind of inevitable that we would get some snow.  We had an hour or so drive into downtown today
This morning, we went into Minneapolis to watch a hockey game which starts at 1pm. The Minnesota Wild vs the Winnipeg Jets at the Xcel Energy Center. I’ve never been to a professional hockey game before. This is a gift from my son. There are seven of us here in his group. 

Later - The final score was 3-2 Jets. So the home team lost but it was still a great game and a wonderful experience. 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

St. Cloud, MN

Wednesday - Yesterday, I drove down to Davenport, IA, with my son to pick up my grandson for a visit. We stopped at Portillo's for lunch and I had the Italian beef sandwich. Kind of disappointed as the version that I've made tasted better. In my opinion, their version could have been more spicy. I guess I should've stuck with a Chicago hot dog, their specialty.

Thursday - It was hovering around freezing today and some areas were extremely slippery. Fortunately, the roads were pretty dry. I've been doing test sessions for the last couple of days including two today and there is a large one tomorrow with a class testing. It should be fun.

Friday - It was 26°F this morning. The roads were clear and the forecast is for a high of 40°F! It’ll give me an opportunity to add some air to the Jeep tires. This morning, the TPMS system was reporting 28 psi instead of the normal 32 to 36 psi. I think the last time I adjusted the pressure was in Corvallis, OR, when it was in the mid-80s. 

Saturday - I broke down and picked up my first computer in probably 30 years. One of the M3 Apple laptops. I wasn’t able to migrate all my information from the old laptop due to hard drive formatting incompatibility. Odd. All of my documents transferred and after logging into the App Store, I was able to download most of the apps I still use. This was a good opportunity to clean things up. I still need to transfer some other stuff but this is a good start. 

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Road Trip - Day 3

Sunday - Hmmm, Minnesota kinda looks like Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. At least the areas that we’ve been traveling through. Rain all night and the first couple of hours this morning. Mediocre free hotel breakfast followed by fantastic coffee from the to-go place across the street.

Later - The rain returned after a couple of hours and it continued for the rest of the day. We arrived in St. Cloud around 2pm after a brief gas station lunch stop. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas Road Trip - Day 2

Saturday - Oklahoma through Kansas and Nebraska and barely into Iowa. The picture is in Kansas but it is pretty describes most of today’s miles. The highlight, at least for me was lunch. The 5 Guys burger place had a long line. We went to a ramen shop. It tasted wonderful, especially after the apparent lack of decent Asian food in Texas. 

The fog has also been around for most of the drive. At least we’ve been able to cover a fair amount of ground. Traffic has been light. 

We arrived in Sioux City, IA, a bit after 6pm. I hadn’t been in Iowa since the late 60s when our family vacation was a road trip to MN from CA. And I don’t remember stopping anywhere in the state. 

Dinner was a mushroom burger at Culver’s complete with cheese curds!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas Road Trip - Day 1

Friday - We took off around 9:30 or so this morning in the Jeep heading north. It was sprinkling a bit but by mid morning we were out of the rain. This picture was just south of Oklahoma. We may have caught up with the rain. I’m not sure if the distance but the Google time estimate was over eight hours to our first stop north of Oklahoma City. 

We have the cat with us so we need to find pet friendly hotels. 

Later - 543 miles today according to Google Maps. And we finished the day at Cracker Barrel.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

First Place! - SKP

Wednesday - Now we know the real reason Bridget wanted the Ural in TX. I used it to haul leaves this morning and now, this…

We were in the golf cart Christmas parade and won first place in the “bike” category. Of course, we were the only entrant. But we gotta take our “wins” wherever we can. 

We scavenged the decorations from the yard including the inflatable turtle and the tree from inside the RV. All powered off the old modified sine-wave inverter plugged into the accessory port. Bridget provided Christmas music from her phone and BT speaker. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Cooler Temperatures - SKP

Saturday - Clear skies bring colder temperatures. At least at night. I think the low tonight and tomorrow is around freezing which means that I’ll probably disconnect the water. I also want to do a regen on the water softener so maybe I’ll do that later today. 

The manufacturer says to regen once a month and the last time I did it was around the third week of September when we were in Nebraska. But the RV did sit for six weeks so now seems about right. But now, I'm sitting outside enjoying the sunshine waiting for the morning test session to start.

To regen, you drain the unit, and add 26oz of salt into the grey cap on top. Then run a slow stream of water through the unit for 22 minutes followed by a 6-minute rinse. Then it’s ready to go for another month or so. I do have some test strips to check the water; the water here is not as hard as in other locations. I think a regen would be needed only every couple of months. But I don’t want the unit to fail due to lack of maintenance. 

I also used the leaf blower twice today. There are a lot of leaves just from this one tree. I haven't picked up the pile from the second time. Tomorrows task.

Sunday - It was down to 38°F this morning but it is another day with clear, blue skies. It took a couple of trips to haul all of the leaves collected yesterday afternoon. They are still falling. I broke down and picked up a leaf rake at Tractor Supply today. I was borrowing one from the maintenance shed just about every day anyway. The new rake has a fiberglass handle so no more wood splinters from the weathered handle. 

Later - Yet another pile of leaves was bagged up and hauled to the bio-dumpster. Or whatever it’s called. The one full of yard debris. Tree limbs, leaves, brush, etc. I’m sure that the yard will be covered in leaves by tomorrow morning. I've been told by multiple people to just scatter the leaves on the grass on the west side of the park. And the lawn mower will grind it up into the grass.

Filled up the Jeep for $2.359/gallon! 

 - Clear, cool, and sunny this morning with just enough of a breeze to knock more leaves off of the tree. The Internet speeds seem to be better when it isn't raining. On Saturday, I was only getting 150Kbps and it was windy and raining.

Here is a "before" picture of the yard. More leaves than there have been on other mornings.

And the "after". This tree has a lot of leaves. I suspect that it'll look like the "before" picture before evening...

It was a nice day to sit outside. There was a morning test session and someone signed up for the afternoon as well.

I dug around the junk that I had brought with me and found the small 100-watt modified sine-wave inverter. I also found the pieces and adaptors to plug it into the Ural. Bridget wants to decorate it for an in-park Christmas parade later this week.

 - Internet speeds seem reasonable today. This is over AT&T using a mobile router. And I'm connecting to my WiFi using 5Ghz. I think that there is so much 2.3 GHz traffic that there is a lot of interference. Less at the higher frequency.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Hanging Around the RV Park - SKP

Monday -  I used the leaf blower and I'm glad I got the package that included the battery. The other Ryobi batteries I had were 1.5AH and the new one is 4AH. The 1.5AH batteries will run the leaf blower for about 5 minutes before the battery is drained. Fortunately, I had two of the smaller batteries so I could use the leaf blower while the new one was charging. And now I have two chargers as well. Good purchase!

There are a couple more updates for this Mac. As well as a new version of the Open Core Legacy Patcher (OCLP). This is the open-source firmware hack that allows this no-longer-supported Mac to run the current version of the operating system. I've been using OCLP for almost two years now as it was deemed too old for the last version of the operating system. BTW, it is almost 8 years old but still seems to run fine for what I need. But my needs are pretty modest these days. Maybe it's. time to pare down the number of apps on both the phone and this computer. The 14.2 MacOS update is a 13.36GB download,  On a supported Mac, it would be a small fraction of this. I have a hard time justifying a new laptop as it isn't a "need". 

Right now, I'm at the clubhouse using their WiFi to do the update. The download is going quick enough with a projected time of only 25 minutes. The last update, which was roughly the same size, took around three hours. But there was some sort of WiFi issue with an older version. Maybe that was the problem.

The Ural got used today several times as I needed a can of tomatoes for some chili plus, I used it to haul a load of leaves to the appropriate dumpster. I just tied the bag to the rack. I haven't really taken it on any trips with the Ural as there always seems to be something going on around here.

Later - It took around 25 minutes to download the update but the processing of the update file shows around 35 minutes. The whole process ended up taking a couple of hours.

 - Believe it or not, I cleaned up all these leaves yesterday. It has been windy and you can't tell that I had done anything now. And since it has been raining, everything is wet. Oh well. At least I had put the awning away yesterday since the wind was in the forecast. A couple of days ago, the awning was still out when the wind picked up and I ended up using a couple of ratchet straps to make sure the awning didn't blow around. It's supposed to be raining for the next couple of days.

Thursday - I volunteered to help cook breakfast in the park. Biscuits w/sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, fruit salad, zucchini bread w/pineapple cream cheese. It was all tasty and it was a fundraiser for in-park social events. 

Friday - I cleaned up the leaves again yesterday and today, it looks like I haven’t done anything. The Ryobi leaf blower works well and the variable speed is handy when the leaves are on gravel. It has been raining for most of the day. I’m kind of confined to not talking to anyone since Bridget tested positive yesterday. 

So, not having anyone testing and rain left me some “free time” to try out some new recipes. Nothing exotic but I did find beef ribs in the grocery store. Not very common in other locations but maybe more common in Texas. I made my own dry rub then used the Instant Pot to cook them before finishing them off in the convection oven. The beans are also “home made” from navy beans also in the Instant Pot. All tasted pretty good. I haven’t had beef ribs in years…

Monday, December 11, 2023

Kerrville - SKP

Monday - We went to Kerrville, a town around an hour north of Hondo, to meet with some of Bridget’s relatives when live in the area. We met at a cool location called Camp Verde which has ties to the camels in Quartzite, AZ. The food in the restaurant was delicious and the attached gift shop had some interesting stuff. I managed to leave with only a sticker for the back of the RV. 

Our next stop was Home Depot as we needed a leaf blower. The tree on our lot is shedding a lot of leaves. I wanted to get one that uses the same battery as other tools so I picked up a Ryobi 18V model. I also have a circular say, drill, and a ratchet using the same batteries. The price for this tool at Home Depot was actually less than on Amazon and I didn’t have to wait for delivery. 

Our last stop in Kerrville was H-E-B, our favorite grocery chain here in TX. Decent prices, fantastic produce, and lots of prepared items made in the store. Not just baked goods but things like tamales. 

Sunday, December 10, 2023

MCARC Christmas Party

Saturday - We attended the Christmas party/lunch for the Medina County Amateur Radio Club (MCARC) and we left with a couple of door prizes. A rechargeable flashlight and a blanket. I also joined the club and let their lead VE know that I am available to help with their monthly in-person tests. We also got to know a couple of other radio operators in this SKP park. 

After we got back, I finished assembling the cord reel and ordered some crimp eyelets for the 6AWG stranded wire so I can reattach the old cable back to the cord reel. The measured resistance is only 0.1Ω so hopefully it works. I’m trying to think of a good way to keep the twist-lock outlet and still use the cord reel…

Sunday - After a windy night, it felt cold this morning with temperatures in the mid-40s (°F). After morning coffee with “the guys”, I got an early-ish start to the day. A group gets together every Sunday and Wednesday morning around 5:30 for coffee. I started attending almost as soon as we arrived as it seemed like a good way to meet people. Tonight, it’s supposed to get below freezing so I plan to disconnect things this afternoon. 

Friday, December 8, 2023

Cord Reel

Friday - I disassembled the cord reel to see how badly the contacts were burned. The neutral contact, the one on the left, was pretty burned. With roughly ¼” of material missing from each end of the contact. What I might do is swap the neutral contact with one of the others and bend the contact to match. 

Even after cleaning, the contacts are still badly pitted. I then disassembled the cylinder and rearranged the contacts so the neutral is “best” as it carries all of the current. 

Now I just need to reassemble the whole thing. And test it. The problem with testing is that I need to wire it in and I had cut off the connectors…

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Finished Shore Power Hardware

Thursday - I started this project around 10am and it's now almost 2pm. Replacing much of the shore power hardware took longer than I thought. The automatic transfer switch was replaced, the cord reel was removed and a twist lock shore power cable socket was added. In the process, I needed to move the Progressive Dynamics EMS as the interconnection cable was too short. The actual process was pretty simple, but the power cables are really stiff, almost rigid, so moving things around took a lot of physical effort. But that should be the end of our shore power problems. BTW, these problems first appeared last January when we were in Yuma running off of a very long extension cord. 

I may end up moving the 50amp socket since the cables are so stiff. The cables get even more rigid when the temperature drops. Maybe high up on the back wall. I do plan on disassembling the cord reel to see if it can be repaired. 

I think it's time for some vitamin I... 

And maybe a nap…

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

More Activities and Projects

Sunday - It warmed up nicely today. We had visitors over for lunch today. Friends of Bridget’s from northern TX. They still have quite a drive this afternoon. The couple is planning to pick up a motorhome and start traveling full-time, still in the planning stage. 

Right now, I'm in the clubhouse using the free WiFi as I'm running short of data on my AT&T hotspot and phone. Maybe too many YouTube videos and Zoom sessions. The 14.2.1 MacOS update is 12.89GB. One of the problems with having a Mac which is no longer supported by Apple. You need to download the full OS instead of just the incremental update. One of these days I need to get another laptop. This Macbook Pro is almost 8 years old. It still does what I need with its 3.3GHz, dual-core, 16GB memory, and 1TB SSD.

 - I took the Ural into Hondo today (actually twice since I had forgotten my wallet) and I noticed that the aluminum angle that connects the steering stabilizer to the front fork was bent. While unpacking stuff, I stumbled across this piece of aluminum that was a spare part from the tonneau cover on the truck. I cut a piece off of it and used it for the upper end of the stabilizer. 

Tuesday - Another nice day. Clear, sunny, and in the low 70s. After the morning test session, I tested the manual slide control that I had been working on. Before I wanted to make sure that the electric hydraulic valves were actually working before digging too far into the wiring. It does. I will now wire up a separate control for the hydraulic pump in the bay and switches to manually enable the hydraulic solenoids for the two slides. In both cases, it is for the slide to go out.  I still want to figure out what is the actual problem but this will get it working for now.

My Amazon order for the 50amp inlet connector arrived today. I just ordered it on Monday morning. The replacement transfer switch isn't scheduled to arrive until next Monday. I guess it depends on where it's being shipped from. In this case, the supplier is in Coppell, TX, which is NW of Dallas.

 - Surprise! The automatic transfer switch arrived today via UPS instead of next Monday via USPS as shown on the Amazon site. I guess I can’t complain about that. I’ll start that project tomorrow morning. 

The project for today was finishing up the alternate switch for moving the two problematic slides out. They move back in just fine. The first switch on the left is the hydraulic master. The next turns on the pump. The next is to extend the kitchen slide. The fourth switch is to extend the driver-side bedroom slide. I may remove the fuse so these switches don't get flipped by accident as both problematic slides have physical locks to hold them in place.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

No Shore Power!


Saturday - Another RV repair. Yesterday afternoon while I was getting dinner going, I noticed that we were running off of battery power. The Progressive Dynamics EMS system was disconnecting power due to low input voltage. When the voltage was measured at the pedestal, it was 123VAC. A bit high but definitely not low. If I bypassed the EMS and measured the voltage on an outlet not controlled by the Intellitec Smart Energy Management System, which had disconnected all the other outlets and appliances, it was only 75VAC. I disconnected from shore power and started the generator. Everything worked so the Smart EMS system worked as it’s supposed to. 

We ran off battery power last night using the propane furnace for heat. The batteries were down to 40% by the morning. 

When I measured the voltage on the automatic transfer switch with a very small load, the input voltage was fine but the output voltage was low. After picking up some fine sandpaper, I used it to clean the relay contacts in the transfer switch. I also reeled out the shore power cable. And tested again. All worked as it was supposed to. No low voltages. I will be replacing the automatic transfer switch as the contacts are still running warm. But the real culprit is the cord reel. The contacts inside the reel are probably burned and depending on the position of the reel, it works or not. The contacts are needed to transfer power from the rotating reel and the stationary hub which feeds to the EMS. The contacts are non-replaceable, according to the manufacturer, and a replacement reel is $1200. I will probably remove the reel and replace it with a twist-lock connector for the shore power cable. But for now, power has been restored to the RV.