Repaired my Xantrex inverter

Last year I bought a 1500w Xantrex inverter for my RV.  At most I expected to run my microwave.  I was testing it out when POP!  The power went out.  This inverter has a surge current rating of 2000W and microwaves don’t use that much power.  Still.  It couldn’t handle it.  I was sad.  I expected better from Xantrex.

Not knowing what to do I just let it be.  This year I decided I would try some exploratory surgery and see what happened.  What could I hurt?  It was already dead.  Maybe it was just a fuse or something.

Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to open up.  A few screws on the ends and pull out the bottom plate.

Taking the circuit board out would be difficult so I hoped that would not be necessary. There were a bunch of fuses which I was getting ready to test first.

I noticed right away that a capacitor had completely blown up.  There were cap guts all over. It seemed unlikely that JUST replacing this capacitor would fix the whole thing but what the heck.  I looked through my parts bins and found an exact replacement.  A 100 uF electrolytic.  It was used and had short leads but it was on hand.

The remaining plates sticking up wouldn’t hold solder so I had to remove the rubber base and trim down the plates to the leads.  I still didn’t want to take out the whole circuit board so I decided to just solder onto the existing topside leads.

I added some short wires to replace the missing capacitor leads and soldered it in place.  I was lucky. The positive side was marked on the circuit board.

It isn’t pretty but it will be perfectly fine if it works.  No big loss if not.

 

I buttoned it back up and connected it to my battery.  No FAULT light!  Promising! I grabbed a nearby fan and plugged it in to the 120V outlet.  The fan spun to life!  SUCCESS!!!!!   I just saved myself a few hundred bucks buying a new inverter.

Damn I’m awesome!  You would think women would be all over me.  If only they knew.

 

 

Advertisements

Built my model house

It’s July 4th 2017.  I am happy to have a day off from work.  Really not knowing what to do to celebrate Independence day, I decided to just stay home.  It’s far to hot outside and the world is far too crowded anyway.  I asked myself, if I could do anything I wanted on my day off, what would it be?  The answer was stay home and enjoy the time.  Besides, where’s lonely guy going to go all by himself anyway?

I had a brain idea the other day to build a scale sized model of the house I want to eventually build.  I did some googling and ended up on Youtube watching Adam Savage build a model of his childhood home.  It looked easy enough so today I popped by the store and picked up three sheets of foamcore board.  Thanks Adam!

I already had a 3d drawing I did on my computer using Google Sketchup and another using a program called SweetHome so I already had the dimensions on record.

I spent a good portion of the day measuring, cutting and hot-gluing my model together.  It’s far from finished but at least I have the basic framing done.  I might also build some furniture and accessories.  I’ll probably print out flooring and tile and glue it to the floor and walls where appropriate.  It might end up being rather detailed by the time I’m done.

You can see the room layout.  The roof slopes from 8 feet in the back to 12 feet in the front.  The large front room will be the kitchen and living room.  The back side is divided into the bedroom and the bathroom.  You can see a piece of the roof that shows how it overhangs the front to shade the top windows which will be electrically operable for air flow in nice weather.  It has a nice 10 foot wide porch that stretches the whole width of the house.  I’m really going to enjoy that.  I’ve always wanted a large porch to sit in my old-man rocking chair.

All the rooms are very large and spacious including the bathroom which will have huge shower and laundry rooms.  The kitchen is huge an will have a lot of counter space plus a large island.  I never have enough counter space in my current kitchen.  The whole house has a fairly modern and clean look while being very simple to build.  The simplicity is reminiscent of early house design before families exploded and houses became unnecessarily large McMansions.

It’s a 1/24 scale model and the design is completely my own.  I probably should have gone into architecture.  Apparently it’s in my blood.  I understand my father built a scale model of his dream house once too.  That’s kind of cool to know since I don’t remember much about him.

I believe I will be able to build this house pretty much all by myself.  I did the Sketchup model board by board as if I was actually building it.  That took me a very long time but that was during my last job where I had nothing else to do for 8 hours a day.

I really like the way this foam-core model turned out.  I impressed myself again.  I never cease to amaze myself.  It just goes to show that one can do anything he puts his mind to.

 

 

TARDIS almost finished

Last year I, crazily enough, decided to build another TARDIS to sell.  Thought I might make some extra cash.  This will actually be my third.  My 1st eventually rotted away in the back yard due to rain infiltration.  The second is on it’s way to the same end due to lack of maintenance and rot.  It might still have a year or two left in it if I don’t do any upkeep.  Just too lazy and it’s way too hot outside.  100 degrees in the sun is most unpleasant and the winter slipped by before I had time to do any upkeep.

So the third was intended for sale on Craigslist.  It costs me around $400 in parts and a year of labor so I expect to get at least $1500 to make it worth my while.  More if possible because I’m not going to build another one anytime soon. I’m pretty sure this is my last one depending on how well it sells.

Number three is almost done.  Just a little more wood work, preparation and paint and it will be ready.  I may even have a buyer lined up.  There is a restaurant here in town that is known for such novelties.  They had an interview in the paper with the owner who said the he would like to add a TARDIS to his collection.  I’ll probably go and hit him up when it is done and see if he wants to buy it.  If not, I’ll put it on Craigslist and I’m sure it will sell quickly.  If not that, I’ll keep it myself to replace #2.   I’m sure that as popular as Doctor Who has become, it will be an easy sale.

 

 

Smart Meter Installed. Booooooo!

I came home from work today to find that the dreaded Smart Meter has been installed.  I was kind of surprised to see that they hadn’t cut my power because they can now see that I have solar panels feeding power back into the grid.

Now it’s just a matter of time before I get a call or letter asking why they are detecting reverse current at my meter.   My choices will be to turn off the solar system that I spent a lot of time and money on or spend unknown mass quantities of money to have it made official.  Neither one will make me very happy.

I guess now we just wait and see what happens.  What is my punishment for going solar?  Stay tuned and we’ll see how this pans out.

 

 

DIY Outdoor shower with hot water

I’ve been wanting an outdoor shower for years for many reasons.  The primary reason is that using the shower inside fills the house with humidity that is extremely unwanted in Texas in the summer.  Even the exhaust fan doesn’t help significantly.  An outdoor shower avoids all of that.

I finally decided to do something so I shopped around on the internet finding the cheapest one from Walmart.com for around $29.00.  I almost went with that but what’s the fun of buying one that’s already made.

Not sure exactly what I was going to do, I went to Home Depot and looked around at the parts.  I finally decided to go with a simple PVC pipe design.  I bought a single 3/4″ pipe and all the parts I would need including a $4.50 shower head.   I could have gotten a nicer one but this is a prototype that I wasn’t even sure about.  A cheap one is fine.  The whole thing cost me $24.00 after taxation.

The most complex part might be the bottom.  It needed to stand by itself so I used a T fitting as the base.  For a third foot, I used another T to come out the back and connect a faucet.  Any cheap faucet will do so it will connect to a hose.  Yes, it works in reverse but that’s fine.  Actually better if you think about which way the pressure goes.  I used a washing machine hose to go from the faucet to the garden hose.  I had it handy so it cost me nothing.

The top of the shower consists of a simple 90 degree bend, a 45 degree bend and a screw on adapter for the shower head to attach to.

After verifying everything fit together, I cemented it all together and waited for it to cure.

A cold shower may be fine for some people but warm is definitely better.  I like to take my showers in the evening so I am clean when I go to bed.  Not a big fan of sleeping in my own filth.

I connected the other end of the garden hose to the drain faucet on the water heater.  The hose runs through a hole in the garage where other pipes and wires pass through.

In the summer I keep my water heater set to a lower temperature.  A lot of heat is not required during the summer and it saves money on gas.

Before you do this, I must caution you that using the drain valve may cause it to leak since it has usually been sitting unused for many years.  Don’t worry too much though. You can buy a replacement valve at Home Depot if necessary.  This kind of connection is also not good for permanent use because the hose could burst and flood the house.  If things test out OK, you could replace the valve with a pipe to the exterior and put the valve outside.  I might do just that if the shower works out as a long term thing.  In the meantime, be sure to turn off the water at this valve when you are not using the shower to avoid unnecessary leaking.

So there you go.  The whole project took me around an hour or less.  Easy peasy and funly wunly!

 

 

Another four solar panels added to my system

I got the bug again and bought another four solar panels to add to my system.  I had to take up all the current panels and move them over, build another rail mounting system and splice together the power cables.  It took a few weeks but I finally got the first of the next four on the roof.

As you can see in the image, the new panel is the one showing 559Wh. It’s not easy for a person to accomplish such a feat when one has nobody to depend on for assistance.  Luckily, with a good brain and the right tools one man can move the mountain.

The hardest part was getting the panel itself up to the 2nd story without killing myself.   I tried using a rope to pull the 40 pound panel up the ladder but it wasn’t going to budge.  Fortunately, I still had the special hook I fabricated last time.  Using the hook made of welded steel angle brackets, I was able to move the panel up the ladder one rung at a time.  I took a break to make sure I was fresh then pushed it up onto the roof.  I didn’t really feel especially unsafe at any time so I’m going to say it is a good system.  Getting them down when I move may be another story though.  Sure wish I had a crane.

The weekend is over now and I’m out of time and energy so I’ll see about getting the other three panels up, one a day, over the next week evenings.  Best to not overexert yourself when doing something dangerous.

Solar power is awesome and especially affordable when you do it yourself.  This is something that makes life worth living.

See a live interactive view of my system.

Clean your air conditioner to get ready for the summer.

myacThe Texas summers are brutal and with global warming getting worse every year, you had best be well prepared.  Every year or so I like to disassemble my air conditioner compressor (outside unit) and give it a serious cleaning.  After all, The Air Conditioner is the most important appliance in the house.  It’s the heart of the house.  It’s the Life Support System.  Without an Air Conditioner, you could not live in Texas.  Trust me.  If the A/C had never been invented, Texas would be very empty.

The first thing you do is disconnect the power.  Don’t be brave.  It’s 22ov!

Next, take the top cover off which has the fan mounted onto it.  I just move it aside so I can get into the coil area and vacuum out the leaves and debris.  Sometimes using the shop vac in reverse will help blow all the junk out of the hard to reach areas.

Next I take off the side panel where the compressor and electrics are.  Clean those out as well. All the spider webs and other bugs have to move out!

After all is clean, I take the hose with a hand sprayer and give the coils a good cleaning from both the inside and the outside.   You’ll see the dirt wash away.  Satisfying!  Be sure to clean out all the drain holes so condensation can drip out easily.

Take a wet sponge and wipe down all interior and exterior surfaces to get off the stubborn dirt.  Looks like new!  Be sure to wipe down the compressor itself.  Clean is cooler.

Reassemble the unit and allow it to dry completely before turning on the power.

That wasn’t so bad.  Now you’re ready for global warming to do it’s worst.