Browsing "Communications & Electronics"
Mar 31, 2013 -

And the Thunder Rolls

It has been disgustingly grey out most of the time I have been here. Thankfully, there have been some nice sunny patches, but it’s mostly been icky and the humidity has been increasing. It looks like we will finally get some rain tonight. I hope it’s not too much or I will have to move to higher ground.

If I didn’t have my solenoid, I would have had to move back into the RV park by now. Between it and the weak sun, I’m holding steady between 30 and 40AH down. So I’m fine, but my batteries sure would like a full charge sooner rather than later…

Mail will determine whether or not I leave on Thursday. I still haven’t figured out where I’m going next. I’ve pretty much decided not to stop in Austin. I’ve been told several times that I need to check it out, but I’m not into the music scene and nothing about the city is calling my name while there are things I want to see in Dallas. But Dallas is even more of a challenging in terms of finding an overnighting spot, much less somewhere that I can stay for several nights at little to no charge. I may just have to bite the bullet and stay at an RV park for a couple of nights.

That said, if I end up staying here later than Thursday and into the weekend, I will consider going to Austin on a day trip. An extended stay here would put me really behind schedule, so then I will probably overnight somewhere before Dallas, stop in Dallas for the afternoon (as long as I can find a place to drop the rig), and then overnight after Dallas.

I can’t believe I absolutely need to be back in Canada in 45 days, but I am aiming for no more than 40. April is going to SPEED by.

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Communications & Electronics, Countries, Electricity, Itineraries, Law and Government, Mail, Preparations for Departure, Solar Panels, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA, Weather    6 Comments
Mar 28, 2013 -

An External Replacement For the MacBook Pro Superdrive

I would like to once again thank all my readers who shop through my Amazon link. It never ceases to amaze me how such a small thing that costs you nothing makes such a huge difference to my bottom line.

The SuperDrive (DVD/CD reader and writer) on my Macbook Pro has been increasingly fussy and it has finally decided to stop recognizing any of my DVDs. Replacing a SuperDrive is not really a DIY project and it is very expensive to have it done by Apple. The recommendation is to replace it with an external drive.

Thanks to my Amazon commissions this month, I was able to go ahead and order one this week without even having to debate with myself whether I can live without a DVD player for the foreseeable future.

My first choice was no longer available, so I bought a Samsung Ultra Portable Slim DVD+/-RW USB External Drive, Black SE-218BB/RSBS.

It is very small, barely bigger than a DVD and about as thick as a DVD case. Best of all, it is powered by USB only, so I don’t need to run the inverter to use it. Installation was easy. I just plugged it into the computer, popped in a disc, and started watching a movie. My SuperDrive has not recognized that disc in years!

Getting this replacement was perfect timing since the movie Lincoln just came out on DVD, too, so I picked that up as well. So you can all guess what I’m doing tonight. 🙂

You can buy just about anything on Amazon, like paint to refinish the new cubbies you bought for the office. My Amazon commissions free up so much of my budget for other things. Thank you again to everyone who shops through my link.

In other news, the weather I’ve been experiencing in San Antonio apparently isn’t typical for this time of year. All I can say is that it has pretty much sucked for solar charging. I’m doing fine, but the forecast doesn’t give me hope of a full charge any time soon.

I just renewed for another six nights, taking me to noonish on the 4th of April. The weather up north is crappy, rent here is cheap ($5 a night), and I’m waiting for mail to come from Canada. Six more nights puts me at two nights past my original plan of two weeks, so I’m still on track with the original schedule. I’ll reevaluate next week. This is just such a good location. I feel so far from anywhere, but I’m less than five minutes from I-35.

A weekend-long project came in, so I’ll be pretty busy for the next few days, which suits me just fine since I had so much time off this week. I’ll try to remember to pop in with a proof of life at some point. 😉

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Countries, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA, Weather    No Comments
Mar 17, 2013 -

54 Days of Boondocking

I am just under a week shy of completing one solid month of boondocking! I’m doing one night on FHU and then it’s back off the grid I go.

Boondocking for so long didn’t seem realistic when I first started as I had so many troubles with my electrical setup. But I persevered in my troubleshooting and have been rewarded with a 12V system I now only need to monitor as it is adequate and functioning well for my needs.

That said, I’m not sure I would still be here on the beach had I not been able to borrow that generator at the beginning of February or if L and B hadn’t installed a new continuous duty solenoid in the motorhome engine compartment. It really does take the proverbial village…

I’ve got my power usage down to a routine now. I charge my computer in the morning and leave it plugged in for the entire afternoon. It still consumes a few amps at full charge, but it’s a fraction of what it needs to charge, so I’m able to charge the house batteries fully by dinner time, and I have a fully charged computer for the evening.

I don’t leave the computer plugged in in the evening because of the enormous voltage drop due to undersized wiring that I still need to correct. If I leave it plugged in, I don’t have enough voltage to even run an LED light without it flickering.

Now that I know that the wiring is undersized, I can manage my 12V use so that the system doesn’t get over loaded and the DC charger doesn’t get hot, so there are no fire concerns. I am eager to beef up the wiring, but it’s going to be a costly job and there are other upgrades in line first.

If it’s sunny out, I can use 120V items, like the printer and vacuum cleaner without a second thought. If like yesterday, it is overcast, then I need to shut some things down (usually unplugging the computer is enough) or run the engine to get the added voltage boost.

As for plumbing, the holding tanks haven’t been a problem. I could likely go a couple more weeks.

I am sorely missing having water in my on board tank, but have conceded that my 10-gallon water heater means that having instant hot water while boondocking is a wasteful luxury. Having a navy shower is no better than bathing in a basin. So, really, hauling and heating water is always going to be in my boondocking future when I am not somewhere that I can fill up regularly.

I do so desperately miss my long hot evening showers as they were my transition time to bedtime. I need to find access to showers the next time I’m off the grid this long. When I had my house and the plumbing was off in the dead of winter, I’d just go to the gym. I need to find an equally suitable setup on the road. The RV park where I am going does have showers, but I’d have to pay an extra $5 per day to access them. Much as I love my showers, they are not worth that much!

When I started reading about RVing back in 2008, I thought of all the things I would have to give up, and the first that came to mind was my daily shower. I can’t even remember the rest, but the showers hold true. That’s really the only concession I make when off the grid. Otherwise, I am living a more electrically-mindful version of my normal routine and I don’t feel deprived in the least.

Finally, boondocking is infinitely superior to staying in an RV park with all its restrictions!

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Black Tank, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Fresh Water Tank, Generator, Grey Tank, Indoor Shower, Inverter, Plumbing, Solar Panels, Technical, Toilet, Travel    6 Comments
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