Monday, 18 June 2018

First name basis and the solar panels

Postman Wee has now made so many deliveries our relationship is on first name basis.  I think we might get an invitation to next year’s Chinese New Year.  Obviously we are securing his employment!

Today he delivered the solar panels I ordered for the trailer.  To my surprise they actually came in a bag, although the carry straps are too long.


When I opened the bag I immediately realised there was a potential problem.


There’s a strong aluminium handle and securing clips on one edge with hinges on the opposite edge.  That’s not the problem.  I don’t like the fact that the solar cellss and glass are on the outside surface where they are possibility going to be damaged.

On the inside are two adjustable legs, two connector boxes, a small solar controller and 5 metres of cable with an Anderson Plug.


The first thing I did was test the panels by placing them out on the lawn in the sun with the multimeter connected to the Anderson Plug to check the voltage.


The small solar controller is regulating the voltage to 20 Volts which is far too high for a 12V battery.  That’s not an issue because the trailer DC to DC charger also has an integral MPPT solar controller.  I can probably bypass the small panel controller.

The cap on the terminal box clips on.  Inside are pos and neg soldered terminals.  I used the soldering iron and disconnected the wires as part of my project to reverse the panel folding system.


The hinges were pot riveted to the frame and were easily removed by drilling off their heads.  This separated the panels allowing me to place them with the solar cells facing towards each other.

In the photo below you can see the original hinge holes at A.  I’ve marked out the new holes at B and drilled the middle hole.  The cable joining the two panels is at C and I’ve secured the cable with the last of my Sikaflex at D.


Then I realised I’d made a mistake erred in my judgement.  Can you see the problem?  When the panels open the connecting cable isn’t going to move freely through the two holes.  I may have to relocate them.

This next photo is a better demonstration of the problem.   The grey duct tape is holding down the cables whilst the Sikaflex sets.  Note I have shortened the 5 metre extension cable by cutting it and fitting an Anderson Plug.  I’ll fit a second Anderson Plug on the other cut end.


It was at this point work came to an unplanned end when I couldn’t find my pot riveting pliers.  After several hours of unsuccessful searching I gave up for the day.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Blog Comments

Having read a couple of other blog owners recent posts regarding unpublished comments I thought I’d better check to see if there were any ‘pending’ on our blog account.  Hell, there was a page of them!  What’s going one?
I wonder if this advice from Google is the culprit
“Blogger no longer supports OpenID. Existing OpenID comments and your OpenID settings may have changed.”
And this from Google
To make room for some exciting updates coming soon to Blogger, we’re simplifying the platform to enhance the blogging experience for all of our users.
Updates include:
- Changes to features: G+ widget integrations, OpenID, and Localization & Blogspot ccTLDS.
- Retiring features: Third Party Gadgets, Next Blog, Polls Widget, and Textcube.
- Introducing new features: HTTPS for Custom Domains, Multilogin, Spanner, Google Takeout, and Video Management
I always get suspicious when a company writes advising you they are doing something to simplify and enhance your experience.  For years blogging has been in steady decline, initially Facebook was it’s successor but now young users are leaving Facebook for other social media platforms.  I suspect the majority of blog writers and reads are like me…… a grey wrinkly Smile  We are a source of marketing data; but nowhere as lucrative as young singles with plenty of money and all the confidence in the world.  So blogger gets a make-over to increase data collection and reduce resource requirements.
Do any of our readers use OpenID?
Because I’ve missed so many comments I’ll reply to the questions raise here.
2 Apr – Tom, seems your preparations are going on a pace, what is your proposed trek?  You probably know of Magnus from Living aboard nutshell you tube channel once Narrowboat now sailing his company do motorbike treks across Australia wondered if your doing something similar?  Ade
Ade, I’m hoping to fit in numerous trips.  The first will be rather fast and cover the bottom left corner of Australia.  It’s a trail of the trailer to see what I need to rectify.  Subsequent trips will hopefully be slower (and less expensive)
3 Jun – Jan said she wanted a dog when you returned to Perth.  It’s only taken a year.  Tilly would like to know what you call your four legged friend.  Pip
Pip, Jenny & Robin, it’s Jan who has set the pace on acquiring the third member of the Jones pack.  I’d have settled for a dog but Jan was adamant males are grubby slobs (she should know after 46 years of marriage) so I’m outnumbered.  After one name change Jan has settled on Molly.  
3 Jun – Don’t keep it a secret what is the name of the new female in your life?  Jenny & Robin
8 Jun – Looks an interesting bit of kit Tom, like the idea of filming your journey, need a drone to be at NB Life in a Nutshell level.  Ade
Ade a drone would be an excellent addition and I’ve done my research.  Unfortunately it’s an expense I can’t quite justify.  There are a number of You Tube films with drone footage of outback Australia and I’d like to join them.  However I’m mindful that I’m a poor photographer.
Apparently Google are aware of the Comment problem and are working on a solution.   I have my own thoughts on a work-around whilst Google designs a permanent solution.  If readers could leave a test comment on this post it will enable me to confirm my work–around actual works.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

More deliveries

Yesterday Postman Gary delivered a small package which turned out to be the $2.52 ‘selfie stick’ I’d ordered from China.  Neither of us are ‘selfie’ people so the stick was a new addition to our every expanding list of ‘possessions’.  My idea was the base of the new 4K action camera gimbal would be attached to the end of the selfie stick and I’d be able to walk around taking footage with me in the photo.  Well that’s been delayed because when I attempted to attached the head of the selfie stick to the gimbal I managed to damage the very small threaded holes that secures the head on the stick.

Here it is in pieces


Looks like I’ll have to mix up some Araldite and see if I can repair it and perhaps make the component stronger.

At 7pm the same day there was a knock at the front door.  Mohammed the courier driver was making the last of his daily deliveries.  He had a large package for us which rather puzzled Jan and me as neither of us had ordered anything large.  In the dim light of the moon Jan could read “collapsible mattress” on the side of the cardboard box.  It took us a good 30 seconds to convince Mohammed the package wasn’t for us. 

He took the package back to the van returning with something much smaller on a sack trolley.  After struggling to get it into the house he departed to find a bed in need of a collapsible mattress.

The package turned out to be the slimline 150ah AGM deep cycle battery I’d ordered for the trailer.


It’s too heavy for me to lift so I asked Jan to move it into the spare bedroom.  Smile

Why a slimline battery?  I’m thinking of having a steel carry frame made for it so the battery can be mounted flat under the trailer.  The battery would fit underneath the floor immediately in front of the suspension.  Being sealed AGM it can be mounted either vertically or horizontally and I’m think horizontal.  It’s sealed, so I don’t have to consider access for maintenance and being under the trailer will assist in lowing the trailer centre of gravity.  However I do need to ensure it’s protected from stones and other objects.

Of course since deciding on a slimline battery I’ve realised I have a second spare wheel which will need a home.  Actually I have a second spare wheel for both the 4x4 and the trailer.  Maybe the second spare wheel should go where I was thinking of locating the battery?

Having now raised the subject of tyres I should mention we are now poorer after I purchased six Kumho 265/75R16 MT51 tyres for the 4x4.  If my memory is correct, I’ve earlier described how I intended to reduce the standard wheel rim size from 18” to 16” but also increase the overall diameter of the tyre.  Having a tyre with a higher sidewall means I can deflate it further thus increasing the tyre ‘footprint’ and traction on soft or rough ground.


Trailer tyre on the left and one of the new 4x4 tyres on the right.   I opted for a MT rather than an AT tread.  AT is “All Terrain” and is predominantly a road tyre (bitumen) with the ability to go off-road.  MT usually means Mud Terrain and has an open tread which is supposed to provide more gripe in wet (muddy) conditions.  However Kumho classify their MT as ‘Mixed Terrain’ and rate it 50/50 on and off road.


These tyres are heavy and I want to avoid having to carry a spare on top of the trailer.  Not only would this raise the trailer centre of gravity but I’d struggle to load and unload it.  There is a disadvantage to opting for a heavy and larger diameter tyre.  Larger tyres create more rolling resistance and fuel consumption will increase accordingly. 

Finally, I’d like to thank blog reader Alan for his advice regarding the Xiaomi 4K Action Camera.  He has suggested I try 1080p resolution rather than 4K.  This will increase the storage capacity of the micro SD card with little appreciable loss in image quality.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Trip Planning–Overview

Our oldest grandson has written to advise he and his girlfriend will arrive in Perth on 8 August.  This provides us with a start date for the planned trip around some of the western half of the continent.  The route will take us north to Meekatharra and then east to Wiluna.  Halfway between Meekatharra and Wiluna we will leave the bitumen and won’t see any again until we reach Ularu (Ayers Rock) in the ‘Red Centre’. 

The Gunbarrel Highway starts at Wiluna and end in Ularu (1350km).  Wiluna Shire runs a grader over the first 180km once every couple of years, but after that there’s been no maintenance since it was first constructed in 1958.

From Ularu we will again leave the bitumen heading roughly north-east visiting Kings Canyon and Ormiston Gorge before arriving at Alice Springs for a rest, vehicle maintenance/repairs and restocking of supply.  Then we will head north-west along the Tanami Track to Halls Creek stopping at Wolfe Creek Crater for a look.  The Tanami is notorious for its ‘Bull Dust’,  A very fine red dust which manages to find its way into everything.  My brother has very recently returned from a trip in that part of Australia and now can’t open the rear doors of his Toyota Landcruiser.  The Bulldust has managed to work it’s way behind the rubber pinch seals of the doors forcing them to expand to the point where they have frozen the door closed.  It’s almost as if the doors has been welded shut.

From Halls Creek we will be back on bitumen and heading west to Broome where Monique wants to do the sunset camel ride on beautiful Cable Beach.  After that it’s south on the coast road with stops at Port Hedland and Karratha before pressing on to Monkey Mia where we will see the dolphins and possibly swim with them.

The final stretch will be to Cevantes where we hope to sample their world renown crayfish (lobster) and visit the ‘Pinnacles’.

As you will see from the map below, we are covering less than a quarter of the country.  However I estimate we will travel almost 10,000km using in excess of 1000 litres of fuel.


Bulldust is just one of the many hazards we will need to manage.  Others include huge road trains on the Tanami Track and Goldfield Highway.  Then there is the remoteness of the Gunbarrel.  We may not see another vehicle during this part of the trip.  Some of the wildlife is potentially hazardous from a vehicle accident perspective (camels, kangaroos, wombats, cattle).  Then there are the snakes (Australia has the six most deadliest in the world), crocodiles and jellyfish.  That’s before considering the billions of flies, ants and mozzies!

Should be fun!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Return of Mr Wee

You may (or may not) be delighted to read the replacement USB port in the Samsung tablet has worked a treat.  It now takes only 2.5 hours to recharge, rather than the original 24 hours.  Moreover the tablet appears to hold its charge much better…. success!

Friday morning saw the unexpected return of Mr Wee (Postman Pat) who delivered the camera gimbal ordered directly from China.  What a surprise.  I’d been expecting it to arrive in early July.  Of course it’s a direct (parallel) import and; like the camera; the included instructions were in Chinese.  That meant several hours of fun attempting to understand how to make the darned thing operate.


I’ve got it sorted and can now move my hand in any direction whilst the camera remains stable.  If you walk around holding the camera the recorded video tends to bounce around.  The gimbal effectively solves this problem. 

Having worked that out I decided to make a start on the camera mounting brackets for the front and rear of the trailer.  The bracket will secure the gimbal to the trailer and (hopefully) remove some of the trailer vibration whilst 4x4 driving in the outback.


I’ve also downloads the Xiaomi Camera App to my Samsung phone and worked out how to wirelessly link the camera to the phone using the App.  This enables me to remotely control the camera from the phone.  If I get this right I should be able to operate the camera when it’s mounted on the trailer from inside the vehicle.

I’m now thinking “Wouldn’t this have been great on Waiouru.  The camera could have been mounted on the cratch board and we would have 360° remote control video recording.”

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The speed of change

It seems like only yesterday we were planning our first canal holiday, a week on the Llangollen.  As part of the preparations we went into the city and purchased the latest camcorder which would replace our first camcorder purchased in Singapore back in 1981 for $3800. 

This first camcorder consisted of two large components.  One part was the actual camera with a pistol grip and a long cable that connected to the very heavy recorder which was approximately the size and weight of three house bricks.  That original recorder lasted until 1990 and we still have some of the original ‘grainy’ footage.  I remember getting a very sore shoulder carrying around the equipment whilst also attempting to record footage.

The new camcorder was much lighter, but not much cheaper at $3200.  It still used tapes, but they were smaller.  The image recorded was much better although it was still the 4:3 box shape,  By now the children had left home and after the UK canal holiday there wasn’t much need for the camcorder.  It was consigned to the storage cupboard.  Actually the camcorder was quickly made obsolete with the introduction of 16:9 sized screens and solid state technology.

With the planned outback road trip around Australia road in August I’ve again become enthusiastic about recording the experience.  This time I’m using a solid state digital camera which Postman Pat (well actually postman Hong Fat Wee) delivered today.

The camera is an Xiaomi Mijia 4K Action Camera.  Despite being tiny it has a recording resolution 8 times better than the last camcorder and it’s storage capacity vastly exceeds its predecessor.  The price was also vastly reduced at $185.



From China I’ve ordered a camera stabilizing gimbal, underwater case and ‘selfie’ stick.  This should enable me to be on the lens side of the camera rather than behind.  I’m also planning to make a couple of mounting brackets which will enable me to mount the camera on the trailer and capture some footage whilst on the move.  Hopefully some great outback scenery and wildlife.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

It was failing

If you’ve been reading the blog over the last year you might remember I replaced the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S 10.5 tablet.  I tend to use the tablet in the evening to watch programs streamed from the media server whilst Jan used the large TV.  

Recently I’d noticed it was taking longer to recharge the battery.  Sometimes up to 24 hours!  Occasionally the battery would discharge instead of charging.  So I did a little searching around and was able to purchase a replacement charger port via eBay for $2.52.  Today I replaced the port.

To remove the back I used a plastic prying tool which looks very similar to a guitar pick.  This could have been achieved with a credit card but we don’t have one of those. 


With the back off the end of the ribbon cable and it’s connector (A) were exposed.  There is another ribbon push one connector at (B).  The USB charging socket is secured to the frame with two tiny philips screws.  I used the guitar pick to removed the two ribbon cable ends and a very small cross tipped screw driver for the screws.  Actually my eyesight is now so poor I needed to also use a magnifying glass to see the screw heads.



The plastic grey trim needed to be pulled away from the edge of the tablet to free the metal end of the USB port.  The port has two tiny hooks which clip over the end of the edge.  The entire USB assembly could then be removed.


Port assembly removed.

It was then a matter of reversing the process to re-install the new port assembly. 


Everything back together and now all I need to do is press the back cover on.   Oooppps.   Better check the port is working before that!

Yes, the tablet is charging via the new port.  I now need to test whether it charges any faster.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

No much has happened

Jan is pleased with the arrival of two of her three new kitchen appliances.  She opted for a 5 ring gas hob and a NEFF wall oven which have both been delivered.  The Bosh dishwasher has been ordered and paid for in anticipation of the kitchen renovations commencing this month.

Molly is settling in with minimal fuss…. except she has taken to using the lounge rug as the toilet instead of the back lawn.   Obviously not a male, otherwise she’d be in the hedgerow. Smile

There was an early morning storm accompanied by strong winds which managed to blow over and smash five of the concrete roof tiles I’d pressure washed.  They had been cleaned in anticipation of installing them on the roof as part of my plan to remove the log fire chimney <grrrr>.  Oh well, another trip north to purchase more used roof tiles.

The bulk of the remains of the two large trees in the front lawn has been spread as mulch on the garden beds and I’ve managed to stuff the last of the foliage from the smaller third tree into the rubbish bin.  All that remains on this task is to cut down the trunk of the third tree and dig out the stump.

I have yet to successfully configure the second router to create a wireless bridge.  Actually my frustration has resulted in losing interest on the project for the time being.

There hasn’t been any news from the dealer regarding the arrival date for the off-road camper trailer so I might have to phone them for an update. 

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Crowded House

I’m now outnumbered as second female has moved into the house.  This has happened previously and I learned to live with it but I’m now re-learning all those old lessons.  A wise Iranian acquaintance once told me to always have an odd number of wives.  Apparently if you have them in even numbers they unite and gang up on you!

I’ve no intention of having more than one wife (I’d be financially crippled by a second and physically crippled by the first).  This second female is a squeaker who needs housetraining. At the moment the three of us sleep in the bedroom.  I might add; with only two in the bed. 



The latest project is to resurrect the nine year old Linksys 610N wireless router using it to create an internet wireless repeater.  The original Linksys firmware doesn’t have the wireless repeater capability so I’ve re-flashed the firmware converting the router to operate using DD-WRT which does have this capability.  The intention is to have the main wireless router in the study at one end of the house with the modified Linksys router at the other end of the house.  The two will be linked together wirelessly and both will broadcast the same wireless network.  This has three benefits.  It provides better wireless coverage throughout the house and I can position the second router near the main switchboard.  This will enable me to connect the 240V electrical consumption monitor to it.  Finally, when we fit the solar panels the inverter will wirelessly connect to the Linksys router allowing me to monitor the performance of the panels.

I have yet another project in the embryonic stage.  More on that later.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Missed posts

There haven't been may posts during the last fortnight and I attribute this to both Jan resting on her laurels' and the doctors attempting to 'top' me by experimenting with chemicals. Anyway, I've given up on their attempts to help me and have been purging my system of the chemical cocktail that's been making me feel more than a little unwell. Consequentially there isn't much to report.

However I did read about Jeremy Corbyn. Apparently he walked into a bank on Oxford Street to cash a personal cheque. The discussion went along these lines.

JC: I'd like to cash this cheque.

Teller: Certainly sir, could I see some form of identification?

JC: <pause> I don't have any identification on me.  I've never previously been asked for it. I'm Jeremy Corbyn!

Teller: I'm sorry Mr Corbyn but the bank can't cash cheques without identifying the person.

JC: Why and when did this change?

Teller: It's the new government anti-money laundering laws and banking regulations.

JC: Well I don't have any form of identification on me and I need the money.

Teller: Perhaps you could provide some alternative form of identification.

JC: How?

Teller: Well.... we had Tiger Woods in here a month ago in the same situation. He produced a putter and tapped a ball across the foyer floor into a Costa coffee cup. Two months ago Rod Stewart was back in England and wanted to cash a cheque. He sang "We are Sailing" to the entire bank.......

JC: <hummm> Well I've been a parliamentarian for more than 30 years. I've twice won best MP beard of the year. I was recently elected leader of the Labour Party. There really isn't much else I can mention!

Teller: Would a mix of large and small denominations be satisfactory.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

The tree fellers came

The two large trees on the front lawn were removed in a two hour operation today.  A five man crew, two of which were new employees on their first day.  That worried me as there was no pre-start safety briefing and neither of the two new employees were given any safety equipment (boots, helmets, safety glasses, ear defenders).  The owners of this company obviously don’t understand new employees are far more likely to be injured than experienced employees.

Only one man used the chainsaw and he was very good felling both trees and cutting them in manageable sections within 90 minutes.  I had anticipated all the large timber would be cut up and sold a firewood, however it was all pushed into a large shredder and converted to mulch.  One assumes there is just as much value in mulch as firewood.


The large green machine is the mulcher.

We had paid for the stumps to be removed and this was completed by a remotely controlled grinder.  A rotary spinning head containing sharp blades mad quick work of grinding back the stumps.  They were ground down to 30cm below ground level.  I didn’t want the stumps taken any lower as one of the trees was on top of the gas, electrical and data lines to the house.


As we anticipated, the house is receiving far more sunlight.  That will be very useful when the solar panels get fitted to the north facing side of the roof.

Severe winds are forecast for tonight as a storm heads towards southern West Australia.  It’s already gone prematurely dark.  There hasn’t been any rain this winter and I’m assuming the farmers will be hoping this storm breaks the drought.  We’re almost a third of the way through winter and still wearing Tshirt and shorts. 

Today we realised it’s a year and three days since we left the UK.  Still missing life on ‘The Cut’.

Monday, 21 May 2018

The next big project

We’ve made a start on our next major project.  I’ve been busy with the tape measure and Google SketchUp producing a 3D drawing of the house.


Stage 1 will be a replacement kitchen and a new scullery for Jan.  Stage 2 will involve building a dining room and a walk in robe with en-suite.  The final stage is to extend the front of the existing house by several metres to create a new master bedroom.

Jan wants a country style kitchen (ie natural timber) with glass splashbacks and a granite transformation bench top.  She prefers the granite transformation to natural granite as the latter can chip if hard objects are dropped on it.  The granite transformation is a composite material which looks like granite but is harder wearing and heat resistant.

She bought the large french door fridge last December and has placed an order for a Neff (German) wall oven.  Today we went to one of the Perth appliance retailers and purchased a 900mm long stainless steel five ring gas hob.


She has always wanted a scullery and as we plan for this to be our last house (after 24 homes) it seems logical for her to have one.  The scullery will go in the location currently occupied by my study.  The study will be moved to the 3rd bedroom where I’ve recently installed the new internet port and computer wall cabinet.

Jan has opted to continue with the granite transformation bench top and glass splashbacks in the scullery.  However she has decided on shelves rather than cupboards.  The big chest freezer will also go in the scullery.

scullery. We will remove the existing floating timber floor and replace it with a hard wearing vinyl plank timber floor.

One of the first tasks I need to complete is remove the wood burning stove which is occupying too much room and which is labour intensive to feed and operate.  Heating will come from a reverse cycle split air conditioner which will be powered from a solar array on the roof.

Should be an interesting project.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

When Tom got it badly wrong

Is it over… can I come out from under the bed?  Best of luck Harry!

Hi  Jan here, I thought I’d share this with you……

Last night Tom and I were dressed and ready to go out for a lovely evening of dinner and theatre.  This is something extremely rare for him (buying me dinner).  Anyway, having been burgled in the past, we turned on a 'night light' and the answering machine, then put the cat in the backyard. When our taxi arrived, we walked out our front door and our rather tubby cat (takes after Tom) scooted between our legs and back inside. Because our cat likes to chase the budgie we really didn't want to leave them unchaperoned so Tom ran inside to retrieve her and put her in the back yard again.

I didn't want the taxi driver to know our house was going to be empty all evening and explained to him that my husband would be out momentarily as he was just bidding goodnight to my mother.  A few minutes later he got into the cab all hot and bothered, and said (to my growing horror and amusement) as the cab pulled away.

"Sorry it took so long but the stupid bitch was hiding under the bed and I had to poke her bum with a coat hanger to get her to come out! She tried to take off so I grabbed her by the neck and wrapped her in a blanket to prevent her scratching me like she did last time. But it worked!   I hauled her fat arse down the stairs and threw her into the backyard....she had better not cr@p in the vegetable garden again."

The silence in the taxi was deafening.....

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Don’t you hate it….

Don’t you hate it when thinks go wrong!   It happened to us today when I moved the media server computer to it’s new location in the cabinet I’ve made.  The simple act of moving it between rooms resulted in it not working.  I spent the entire afternoon fault finding.  Initially I suspect there was a problem with the boot software and spent several hours looking for a solution.  Then I got smart and disconnect all the hard drives only to find the problem still existed.  That meant there was a hardware problem.  Eventually I updated the bios also noticing only 4GB of RAM was being recognised by the system.  After fixing the RAM the system started.

Our new cabinet has been fixed to the wall.


There a a couple of outstanding tasks to complete the cabinet.  It needs a front cupboard door and the screw heads need to be covered.

On a more positive note, I was browsing eBay when I noticed the level in the photo below.  It seemed a bargain at $1 so I placed an order.  My idea is to find a flat horizontal surface on the camper trailer on which to install it.  Hopefully it will be an easy reference point for levelling the trailer at a campsite.


We’ve been checking the letterbox on a daily basis in the expectation of receiving Harry’s invitation to his nuptials.  No sign of it yet and I was starting to get disappointed when I realised….. he is probably holding me in reserve for his next wedding Smile

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Catch up

Suddenly I realised several days had elapsed since the last post.  I wouldn’t want you to think I’ve fallen off my perch so I’d better catch up on what’s been happening.

I dropped my Triton Biscuit Joiner and broke the safety guide on one side



The successful Triton range of tools was designed and made in Australia and I thought it would be relatively easy to purchase spare parts.  How wrong I was!  Eventually I found a supplier… in England of all places.  Well the postage almost cost more than the part. 


However the tool is now repaired which will enable me to continue with the manufacturing of the display cabinet.

The Lithium battery experiment has been completed.  The six good Lithium-ion cells fitted snuggly inside the old battery case for the portable drill.  I needed some wire and eventually managed to “harvest” some by cutting a few surplus plugs off one of the spare desktop pc power supplies.


The BMS was then connected to the cells


That’s when I realised the top of the battery case was damaged.  Fortunately I had some two-pack epoxy glue


Everything went back together and I now have a working Lithium battery for the old portable drill.

My sister and brother-in-law came around on Saturday which was very useful as I needed help to move Jan’s heavy altar into the house.  She no longer has to abased herself.  The new altar position allows her to worship on her knees!


The drawer for the stand still needs to be made and installed.

The latest project is a cabinet for the two desktop computers, router, Raspberry Pi and network switch. 


It will go on the wall in the back bedroom where it will form part of my study.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Trees, batteries and the flue

Where to start; I suppose with the flue.  Yes winter has arrived and the temperature in the morning warrants the wearing of a fleece.  However I’m not writing about the onset of a winter cold.  The house flue is attached to a large cast iron wood stove in the living room.

wood burning stove

My father used to collect and chop wood during the summer which they would then burn during the winter.  The firewood was kept in that dilapidated garden shed I demolished last week.  We have decided the stove will have to go.  It will be replaced with a natural gas connection for the gas heater we’ve had for 25 years, but never used <work that one out>.

Obviously the stove has a flue and it’s not the only one in the house.  There is was a second flue for the hotplate extractor fan in the kitchen.   By removing both flues and the old solar hot water panels on the roof we will have a long north facing section of roof clear of obstructions making it ideal for the placement of a large(ish) solar array.  One problem with this idea is the concrete tile clad roof which was installed in 1984.  When you remove flues you are left with “holes” and obviously we need to find suitable roof tiles.  That actually proved to be easier than I’d anticipated.  Yesterday we travelled north to a demolition yard in Yanchep where we were able to purchase six recycled tiles at $1 each.  We probably won’t require six, but it’s good to have a few spares. I need to use the water pressure cleaner to prepare them for installation.


They are the wrong colour, but then the solar panels will cover them.

The second issue is the large gumtrees on the front lawn.  They cast a shadow over the north facing roof of the house and will adversely affect the solar panels.  The roots of one is also breaking up the driveway paving and the other is located directly above the gas, electrical and phone lines into the house.  They will have to go!


They are too big for me to remove at my age (I would have attempted it 20 years ago) so we are paying to have the trees removed and stump grinding done to ensure they don’t re-grow.  The third, smaller tree, I am removing  This process started four weeks ago and have been slowly clipping back the branches placing the foliage in the rubbish bin.  It’s the capacity of the “wheelie bin” that’s dictating the pace of the removal.  This tree is also located on top of the gas, electrical and phone lines.


Had it’s final haircut

There has been some good progress with the lithium battery project.  I’ve “tricked” all six cells from the laptop battery into being recognised by the SkyIC battery conditioner and have been able to recharge all of them.  I’ve then run them through a discharge cycle on the SkyIC to establish their capacity.  The capacity has been written on the cell so I can match up those of similar capacity.  The cells are then recharged.


Identified cell capacity in milliamps

It takes about 24 hours to test and recharge each cell.  When I have six good cells I plan to build a battery for the old 12V drill.  Lithium cells require individual balancing using a Battery Management System (BMS).  I can’t simply plug the new battery into the old charger.  To resolve this I’ve purchased a BMS which will fit inside the battery case.  The BMS was $2.50 from eBay.  My wiring will look like the following


By fitting the BMS inside the battery case I will (I hope) be able to use the portable drill’s original 12V battery charger.

Meanwhile poor Jan has been choking on smoke for the last two days.  Currently there is a massive pall of wood smoke over Perth.  Actually it extends 50km north and south.  The cause is a controlled burn in the state forests and national parks by the fire and conservation departments.  This is part of an effort to minimize the risk of summer forest fires by reducing the fuel loading (branches, twigs, leaves, bark, etc) on the ground.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Reader Comments

Local blog reader Ken left a message expressing some concern that my washing machine stand may be insufficiently braced and the continual vibration from the washing machine might cause the stand to start disintegrating.  Amongst other things, Ken is a builder so I take his observations seriously.  I doubt the top of the stand will fail as it’s a solid panel held by glue and multiple screws.  However the base doesn’t have any diagonal bracing apart from triangular blocks in the four corners.  So today I made and fitted some cross bracing which has been both glued and screwed.


I’m not sure if my explanation of the adjustable feet in the last post was adequate so here is another photo.


Ken also mentioned the possibility of water leaking from the washing machine onto the top of the stand and getting into the joints.  The glue I’ve used is PVA and will eventually dissolve when it comes into contact with water.

I’ve decided to try sealing the four sides of the top of the stand by employing the method used by Nick, the engineer who sealed the shower panels on Waiouru.  The important thing to do is to NOT use a silicon sealer.  This type of product eventually fails and it’s a messy job replacing it.  Nick used construction glue (No More Nails, Sikaflex, etc).  This is both waterproof and almost permanent.

His technique was to use masking tape to mask either side of the joint to be sealed.


Then apply a bead of glue into the join before smearing the adhesive between the two edges of the tape with your index finger.  Keep dipping your finger into mineral turps (or white spirits) as you do this.  The turps will prevent the adhesive from sticking to your finger and create a smooth surface.  Then remove the masking tape.


I removed the tape too soon and also didn’t have the correct pressure on the adhesive when smearing it.  Obviously this is an acquired skill.  Fortunately these joins will all be obscured by the washing machine.

I just need to drill a drainage hole through the back timber support.

Hi Jaq,  One of the many qualities I liked about Les was his willingness to give things a go.  Whilst I don’t think he had any formal training, he was skilled with his hands.  Moreover if he didn’t know something he was quite willing to seek advice and then attempt to complete the task.