Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Tumbling Down, Tumbling Down, Tumbling Down

On my last post I left things off with a bit of a cliffhanger. My clothes dryer had unexpectedly died on me, and I promised a future blog update with a recap of my adventures in reviving it.

Well lucky for you, today is that day.

Basically, the issue with this LG dryer was pretty simple: it was just stone dead. You'd plug it in, press the power button, and nothing. Not a chime, not a beep, not a blink, not an error code. Just nothing, no life whatsoever. It was just pining for the fjords.

Now you might think that this would be a bit of a perplexing kerfuffle. With no symptoms other than "it don't work", what could I possibly have to go on?

Well, luckily, that one symptom was enough to basically eliminate everything but two components. It was either the power switch or the main control board, as there were no other components involved in the initial power-up of the dryer. There's dozens of things that can die in a dryer, like a thermal fuse, a broken belt, a dead motor start capacitor, and so on and so forth, but none of them will stop the device from booting up. (And it pains me that appliances these days need to 'boot up'. Teaching rocks to think was a mistake.)

Anyway, the control board was pretty easy to identify, thanks to the nice big sticker on it.

And it was cheaper than buying a whole new dryer. Maybe not by a whole lot, but cheaper, especially if I were to replace it with another model as fancy as this.

Not only was it relatively inexpensive, it was also available on Amazon. A few days later, it was available on my front step.

So, in it goes. Just swap over all the colour coded connectors, plug the power in, hit the button on the front and...

It's as simple as that. We're back in business again. I can now dry clothes once more.

But more importantly, I have a place to put all this clutter again.

Some of which might be flammable.

Ah, whatever, it's fine. Probably.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

It's Just Window Dressing

As in actual window dressing. The spare room came with a honeycomb blind and a naked curtain rod, and I figured it was about time to spice it up a little.

It was not particularly attractive with the blind open, and somewhat worse with the blind closed.

The blind was in good shape though, so there wasn't any reason to rip it down and throw it out, but still, there was room for improvement.

So I ordered up some drapes from the wild and wooly internet and they miraculously appeared on my doorstep today. Up they go and...

Whoops, I guess it's been a while since I vacuumed in there. Ah well, a quick wash and dry will take care of that, right?

Except for the part where my dryer decided to just up and die on me. Hmm. Gonna be a separate blog post about that later.

The good news, though, is that I have a convenient place to hang the drapes to dry.

That does look much better now.

Friday, September 16, 2022

A Box of PPMs

While I have quite a nice handheld multimeter, I decided that for bench work it would be nice to have a bench multimeter. These have a few advantages, the most important of which is that they're designed to work on a workbench, so you don't have to prop them up at some weird angle to see the display and worry about it getting knocked over and so on. Additionally, they tend to be quite a bit more accurate and precise than handheld meters, and they also don't eat batteries.

So off to eBay I went, and I found this lovely HP 34401A.

And by "lovely" I mean "filthy." But the display was nice and bright (VFD displays tend to dim over time) and there's not much else that tends to go wrong with these other than the flip up handle breaking.

Yeah the flip-up handle is broken.

Thankfully I don't have a pressing need for it, but in the future I'll probably look at making a new one. You can actually get new and reproduction ones on eBay, usually in a kit that includes the bumpers, for $50. However, I don't really feel like spending that money on something that'll most likely just break again.

At least I don't right now. In the future? Who knows, only time will tell.

Anyway, this needs cleaning. The main case is easy enough to clean up with some simple green, plus a bit of penetrating oil to loosen up the residue left behind from the asset tags of the business that this totally wasn't stolen from. To clean the bumpers, a little silicone oil shines them up really beautifully.

Yeah, that's a difference.

I did try to glue the two parts of the handle back together with super glue, but that went about as well as you might expect.

It really did clean up amazingly once I was done, and it didn't even take much elbow grease.

So we just need to make room for it on my workbench, and I think just below my shamefully cheap signal generator is a nice place for it.

And today I discovered that this cheap 6Ω power resistor that I got off of amazon is remarkably accurate.

This meter is paying for itself already!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Well Lubricated Electrons

The simplest thing you can do to keep a small engine running forever is to change the oil. I only happen to have one small engine in my agglomeration of stuff, and it just so happens to power my generator.

So far, my generator has supplied me with highly energetic electrons for a total of 21 hours, which isn't a whole lot, but it's been a year or two since the last oil change so it was about time anyway.

So up it goes on the "hoist" to drain out the old and fill up the new.

The old oil didn't look awful, just lightly browned and a little shimmery with the fine metal particles that are pretty much inevitably shed from an engine like this.

I probably could have left it longer, but oil isn't expensive. Better to be safe than sorry.

Four of a Kind

Around the bay area there are really four notable peaks, at least when it comes to cycling.

First, there's Mt Diablo way over in the east bay. From the peak you can see all the way to the Sierras on a clear day, and nearly everywhere in the bay area if you look the other direction. It's really quite spectacular.

I climbed Mt Diablo back in 2012, chasing a friend of mine up the hill, making it the first peak I conquered.

Mt Um was the next one I crossed off the list, after it was finally opened to the public back in 2017, and I've summited it a couple more times since then.

Mt Hamilton, the tallest peak and upon which sits the Lick Observatory, was the next to fall earlier this year. Despite it's superlatives, I think it's my least favourite peak to climb.

Finally, this week, the last peak has been summited: Mt Tamalpais.

The view from the top was uhhhhhh...

"Moist and opaque."

Thankfully there was some better scenery on the way up, and a standout location was Alpine Dam.

Which holds back this picturesque reservoir.

And makes a great backdrop for bike photos.

That sign can't stop my bike because my bike can't read.

Will I do it again? That's hard to say. It's 4 hours of driving for 4 hours of riding, and the summit itself was highly underwhelming thanks to the marine layer blocking out the view. I think if I do ride here again, I'll ride up past Alpine Lake, then make a lollipop loop by dropping down to Stinson Beach, riding along the coast, then climbing back up again to return by backtracking past Alpine Lake.

But it was a nice day on the bike.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Pow Pow Powermeter

As the commercial says, power makes it go. Being able to measure that power on the go enables you to pace your efforts according to your abilities, and according to your training goals.

In my case, it also gave me an excuse to swap to a smaller chainring.

There's certainly nothing wrong with a 46t chainring, especially when paired with a 10-50t cassette. It gives a sub-1:1 ratio on the low end and a blisteringly fast speed on the high end. For my riding, though, I don't really need the blisteringly fast speed on the high end, and I could always use a bit lower gear on the low end when crawling up the hills in the bay area.

I actually planned to go with 42t from the start, but with supply chains what they were I could only find either 38t or 46t. You might think that I'd opt for the 38t to get even lower gearing, but I felt like it might be a bit too low for my tastes. Since going from a larger chainring to a smaller one is a lot easier than the other way around, (taking links out of a chain is easier than adding them back in), I figured it would be prudent to go for the 46t option to start with to see how it felt, and then go from there.

A few weeks of riding revealed that my suspicions were correct, and that 42t would likely be just right for my legs.

Anyway, let's get it on there.

I didn't take a bunch of photos because the procedure is pretty straightforward. Remove the drive-side crank arm, unbolt the old direct-mount chainring, bolt on the powermeter and new 107bcd chainring, and then put the crank arm back in place.

Naturally I also shortened the chain as appropriate, double-checked the bottom bracket preload, and torqued everything to spec.

And I also cleaned the chain, while I was at it.

The power meter paired up nicely with my garmin and with that the job was done. Now all I have to do is go ride it.