Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Various firsts, backup camera part 2

The recent pause in blogging was not caused by lack of stuff to blog about, but due to being too busy to write my blog. Since I plan on taking it easier for a while and not traveling as much, I hope to catch back up with most of the things I should have blogged about. Contributing to the non-blogging is my laptop does not have the blog stuff installed. It has a lower-resolution screen than I like, and a cf card for a hard drive, but since it was given to me I can't really complain. The British keyboard doesn't bother me, I don't usually look at the keys anyway. (I use the US layout, so some things don't match.)

Among my firsts in the six weeks I've been fulltiming are first time paying for camping, first time plugging in overnight, first time driving away forgetting to unplug, (not far, and the plug pulled out), first time running the furnace all night (to keep it up to 45), first time the fridge door popped open while driving, first time I used the black and grey tank flush system, first overnight at a truck stop, and first time using the front curtains. (for insulation rather than privacy)

The fridge problem happened today. The door first popped open when making a turn on a street in Bodfish, CA dumping cans of soda over the floor but not breaking anything. My first attempt at jamming the door closed failed when turning onto highway 178, this time breaking a glass bottle of syrup and a couple of cans of soda, making a mess I couldn't clean up for a while because there was no good place to stop on the highway.

I pulled out the old 19" CRT TV, and replaced it with something a bit smaller and less power hungry. Actually, this is the monitor for my backup camera, back on the mount it came with. The cabling is still temporary, with the coax taped to the ceiling (more accurately, to various things on the ceiling like air conditioners, trim, ceiling fan, and the wall over the bathroom door). Currently, I dangle the power cord to the dash power outlet, but I may start using the outlet in the cupboard next to it. The power for the camera itself now come from one of the bedside lamps.

Posted Wednesday 07 December 2011 07:10 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 07 December 2011 14:36 UTC

Cell Phone Antenna and RV service

While in Southern Oregon, I did several little projects and made progress on some big ones.

Since my refrigerator was not reliably igniting on propane (it worked fine on electric, and if I lit the burner withing the timeout) I had in serviced at Jackson RV. It turned out to be the electronic module, which the replaced with the Dinosaur version. They also replaced my curb-side mirror and the cover over my front air conditioner. I purchased a replacement lid for my bathroom vent from them and replaced it myself. The service appointment I was given was over a week after I requested one, but that is typical from what I have read. Overall I am happy with the service, and I think their prices are fair.

Since I plan on doing some boondocking, and many places the cell signal is marginal for my usb 3g modem, I ordered an antenna, adapter cable, and amplifier with accessory kit from Maximum Signal. The "Trucker" antenna is mounted on the driver side of my motorhome and the cable runs over the roof to a hole I drilled on the curb side. So far I have only tested the antennas, the amplifier has not been needed. While it is difficult to tell, since connection speed varies up and down everywhere I have been, I think I am getting better speed with the antenna than without, at least here in the desert. (An antenna or amplifier will only give better speed if the signal strength is causing problems, not if it is an overloaded or old technology cell limiting the speed.) In the picture, the cell antenna is about the middle of the rig, by the refrigerator vent. The black antenna further forward is a CB antenna, and the radio antenna by the windshield is barely visible.

Other things I did while in Oregon include getting my drivers licence, Oregon plates for my RV, and full-time insurance. I am now once again and Oregon resident. I also replaced my windshield wipers.

Posted Monday 12 December 2011 05:08 UTC
Last edited Monday 12 December 2011 05:50 UTC

New Camera

A few days after Thanksgiving, I splurged on a new camera. Other than not remembering the date and time when the batteries are removed, the old one was still functioning as well as it ever had, but technology has advanced a bit it the more than a decade I have had it. (I purchased it sometime between 1997 and 1999.)

The old camera is a Kodak DC290. 2.1 Megapixels, uses Compact Flash and 4 AA batteries (NiMh preferred, but alkaline work).

The new one is a Kodak Easyshare M23, 14 Megapixels, uses SDHC and a small rechargeable lithium battery. The camera recharges the battery over a micro-usb cable. (Cable and AC adapter included.) Besides being smaller and lighter, the new camera is faster (the old one could only take 4 or 5 pictures per minute), can do video, and has some features for interfacing to the windows software they supply that are useless to Linux users as far as I can tell. The automatic lens cover is one feature I like, it would have been nice if it also had one for the LCD display. Unfortunately the camera does not show up as a hard drive when connected via the USB cable, so I have had to remove the SD card to transfer photos.

Rather than posting the large files directly from the camera, I have been reducing the size and quality of the images you get when you click on the pictures. I did not feel that was needed with the old camera.

Posted Tuesday 13 December 2011 05:42 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 14 December 2011 01:46 UTC

Invertered Problems

An inverter converts the 12 volts DC (nominal, 11-15 volts in practice) from the house battery to 120 volts AC used by most household appliances. All the inverters discussed in this post are of the cheaper "modified sign wave" style, not the "true sign wave" style.

The 400 Watt Coleman inverter I had been using to power my computer (a laptop with a dead screen and battery) and TV that spends most of its time as a computer monitor decided to go into fail mode (tone sounds, red light lights, no output) and not come out. Fortunately, I had some spare smaller inverters that should be big enough for the job. Inverter number two (140 watt) didn't want to work, so I tried inverter three (200 watt) that blew a fuse on my fuse panel. Inverter four, same model as number two, worked for almost a minute before deciding the voltage was too low and dropping out. All the smaller inverters only had cigarette-lighter power cords so had to be plugged in to the available outlet high in my closet, forcing the inverter to be placed on top of my printer. The fuse is only 15 amps, and I'm not sure how the outlet is wired or what it is rated at. (Some cigarette-Lighter style outlets are only designed for 60 watt loads.)

A 410 Watt inverter (if you believe the box rather than the instruction pamphlet that rates it at 400 watts) purchased at Walmart is now being used. Like the Coleman, it has stud terminals and comes with battery clips. I use the battery clips on the terminals on my fuse panel.

Posted Wednesday 21 December 2011 07:04 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 21 December 2011 07:04 UTC

Victorville and Adelanto RV park

Most of December I have been in the vicinity of Victorville, California on BLM land with Bob Wells (AKrvBob) (and Homer) in his trailer and his friend Steve in a van. It has been pretty chilly, getting below freezing most nights. There have been a few rainy days, and today was quite windy. My furnace has been getting a workout keeping my bedroom at about 50 F at night, and so has my generator recharging my batteries. I not only need to get my solar system installed, I need to get a larger battery bank. (Both will be subjects of future blog posts.) This location has resonable cell signals (both verizon and t-mobile) and I get about 6 channels on my TV antenna. (including CBS, NBC, and PBS, but no ABC)

Since I needed to fill my water tank, empty my black and grey tanks, and give my battery bank a good charging (which running the generator for a few hours does not do), I decided to spend a night in an RV park. Adelanto RV Park was the closest, and about the same price as other full-hookup ones in the area ($30/night). For that I got a spot on a gravel parking lot with a worn-out 30-amp outlet (twice my plug disconnected itself, crashing my computer), water spigot, sewer hole, and cable TV. I did not even look in the laundry, clubhouse, swimming pool, or hot tub. I did take advantage of the trash dumpsters. If I am going to do this often, I need to get a 50 amp to 30 amp cable (the 50 amp outlet looked fine) and a longer cable with F connectors. (I had to move my RV to get it in reach of the 6-foot cable I had -- my long one is in the RV connecting my TV to where the connection is.) I used the unlimited water to do my dishes and take a nice shower. There was quite a bit of traffic noise during the day from cars going by fast that the wooden fence didn't seem to dampen. I had one of the central pull-through spots, the nicer but smaller back-in spots look like they may be longer term residents.

Posted Friday 23 December 2011 04:44 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC