Trundling Christmaswards

So we’re isolating (still). I can’t remember if we were doing our 14 days of isolation when I wrote my last post, but anyhoo, that’s what we’re doing. Seeing no-one. Leaving for nothing. The plan is that come day 14 we’ll be safe to see Sherry and Terry – so we will (unlike many people this year) have xmas with family. I feel very, very lucky to at least be able to safely see some of our family this year.

Even if I can’t get back to the UK to see my mum and my sister. That’s really tough. Particularly since the UK seems to be spiraling back down in the virus management with the advent of this new, more virulent strain. It’s almost like having some idiot running the country who doesn’t understand or believe in science, and can’t even keep his lies straight, is in some way a bad thing.

Of course, to be fair our mango mussolini does keep things just trundling worse and worse, so all in all….

Anyhow, that’s not a very cheery topic, so instead let’s move on to what we’ve been up to.

Which is, to a greater or lesser extent much less than you might expect. I’ve made a real effort not to turn this 2 weeks of being at home into some extreme-DIY-renovation event. I’ve really tried to… chill, somewhat.

So we’ve done stuff, but not loads. We’ve made some progress on smaller jobs. I mean, part of this is just that because we’re in isolation we have to work with what we have here.

We did plan for this, to some extent, so we bought Christmas lights ahead of isolation and, ta-da:


We have also laser-cut the numbers for our house and put them up.

We finally got around to tidying and sorting the office – which had got completely out of hand with various big-things that were taking up space unnecessarily. Sorting that has produced a much more usable room (again) and we’ve actually managed to get all the books in the house onto bookshelves. And almost unheard of event.


We also actually have door frame trim installed on our bathroom. Not the trim that goes up against the wall – at least some of that requires oiling. But we do have the door shut installed on the bathroom – which means that we’ve stepped up from merely having a door to having a door that closes.

Pretty fancy, huh.

And in other exciting news – we have a coat closet! It took a while but we laser cut supports and bought a chunk of oak dowel which allowed us to fix the dowel in place with something that means that our coat closet has details that speak to the rest of the house. No one else will care but us.

What else? Well… I spent an enjoyable cold day in the garage and got Rebecca’s diff flange changed. HellifIknow whether the preload is right anymore (probably not). The new flange, it turned out, was slightly different to the old flange. Well, I mean, it was very different, that was the point… but it was also different in a way that I didn’t expect. That meant that the ‘undo the nut X turns, then do it up again X turns’ didn’t work. Buuuuut – either I’m close enough for jazz, or I’m not. We’ll only know by driving it (or disassembling the back axle completely – which is the only way to properly set the preload – and also will be what’s required if I’ve got the preload set wrong).


This means that — in theory — Rebecca should start and drive.

I’m waiting to find out if the battery will hold enough of a charge for that even to be a possibility. It’s trickle charging right now – and has been for a couple of days. It started in the region of 1 volt, which is only 11 volts short of where it should have been…

Then today, we tried to install our pantry. Unfortunately it turns out that back in May – when we ordered the pantry shelving they sent the wrong unit. We didn’t check at the time (I know, I know, we should have). So now we’re waiting to hear if they’re willing to exchange it. I’m not sure where we stand on the ebay refund policy if they don’t…

But that’s left me feeling pretty miffed. I was quite excited about the prospect of us finally having our tins and things like our flour in a cupboard where we could actually see them; and as Kathryn pointed out it will mean that we can free up the small green shelves to go and be in the corridor (because now we don’t need the coatrack, but do need the shelves that are attached to the coatrack, but if we could use the green shelves for that purpose….)

I mean, it’s partly that and partly that I accidentally put the bits of wood in the wrong way up and that means they don’t fit nearly as well as they did. I mean, I put the first bit in, thought it was a bit tight so swapped it for the other bit – and – that got stuck. So then I concluded discretion was the better part of valour and just fixed it where it sat.

So they’re upside down. Which is fiiine. Except the edges are now gappy. Which probably means I should attack it with some clear caulk just to make it less obviously gappy. But then it’s also in the back of a cupboard that will – one day – have shelving in it*.

*Along with lemon soaked paper napkins.

Apparently I can’t heat the planet

So it seems that despite climate change and the impending destruction of civilisation and the immense insecurity of food approaching, I took it upon myself to try and head the entire planet. Not, it must be said, a serious directed effort. I tried to make some attempt to keep the heat in the garage void. But not though an effort that was sufficient.

See now, I wanted to oil some wood. For which, as we’ve previously discussed, the garage needs to be warm. And given that it’s winter that means that the garage would be heatable. Not — y’know — generally warm or anything. Not until it’s finished. Then I’m hoping that it will be more-or-less heatable (because I intend to use part of it as an officey space). No. But right now it would be handy to be able to get the temperature up to the working temperature of the oil we use on the trim in the house.

Unfortunately, despite my beautiful artwork with drapery:


Well…after a full day of pumping the all-of-a-killowatt that maxes out US outlets (bleh) into the space I’d hit the heady heights of 12 degress C. Only…about 10 degrees below what’s required.

So new plan is that we’re going to have to insulate the garage. If we’re insulating, we may as well put wiring and drywall up. Pain in the bottom though that is, it just makes more sense than any of the other alternative routes.

Which means pausing on the house.

Which is not what I want to do.

We have one other possible option – which is to ask family who have some space in Oly that they’re not using that frequently right now whether we can use their garage which miiiight be heatable? Or already somewhat heated? I mean, ours is detached and sports a ridge vent; so getting the heat to stay in there is essentially impossible.

This is, I think, one of those cases where I’m used to the UK where I can pull 3kW out of a wall socket and heat a poorly insulated space; and you just can’t do that on 110V @ 15A max. I’ve tried.

So… that means another permit. Bleh.

I think we just need a permit for the power outlets and lights, though.

And I *think* we can ignore the need for a separate panel if we’re willing to just have two circuits. Which I am. I think. And possibly a run of network cable (we’ll run it, but I don’t know if I need it yet, but I’ve a ton of it so I might as well.

Sooo, that’s a medium size project. Rebecca needs to be mobile first, so that’s up before we do that.

In other eggtremely eggciting news that got us quite eggsuberant… Our chooks have started laying. Well, two of them have. We’re pretty sure it’s Mymble and Pippi.

We’ve now had 7 eggs from them (although 4 are waiting to be omelette tomorrow).

And yes, I did spend the entirety of the first day they laid telling them how clever they are*.

In other less positive news, I think I’m giving up on fixing the dyson fan. I’m sure that it is possible, and I could play ‘draw out the circuit’ followed by ‘scare it with test equipment’, and if I was back in the UK and John was okay with me tapping his skills I would be more inclined. But I think we’re pretty much at my limit of knowledge right now; and I’m not that enthused about it. I also suspect I can sell it for as much as I paid for it, and it allowed me to practice my soldering and break out my rework gun, which was part of the point. It’s not like I have to list it with the statement that I’ve replaced a bunch of bits and it’s still not working.

So… meh to it not working, but I’m okay with it.

What I did fix, however, was the CD player.

This is terribly pleasing, especially since it goes “mmmmm, nummy CD” when you press close, and then returns it with a “Aaaah, your CD, m’lady” type speed.

This wasn’t the first power-on. I did that in the garage and checked that it both turned on (without going bang) and spun a disk. But this was the first power on where I had it plugged into an amplifier.

Hitachi DA-1000

And it works! All those custom chips in there. All those discrete components… They all worked. It does run warm, unsurprisingly. I mean, it’s the bleeding edge of technology for the time. About $900 of hifi equipment in 1982. Roughly.

It’s always a good reminder how what once was bleeding edge becomes essentially zero value. It is a curiosity piece. Still, I enjoy it.

And I am, it must be said, quite happy to have managed to fix something.

Also, contrary to step 2 in the service instructions, you don’t need to remove the little plastic lugs. Oh, and it seems that if you try and use my temperature controlled soldering iron in a room at 8-9C, it gets very unhappy. I’m hoping it will be okay when I turn it on in a warmer environment. Handily I had my non-temperature controlled one, and dealing entirely with big through-hole components, it was just fine.

Interestingly, my guess is this is one of the last non-updated models they produced. The Hitachi DA-1000 comes in two flavours, DA-1000 (the original) and DA-1000R (the revised version). Mine has all the mods that are suggested in the many service manual updates – changing the voltage of the audio output to the modern standard, and some other bits and pieces…

Buuuut. The kit I bought (which I got refunded on because it arrived so late that I’d given up, and the original sender hadn’t provided shipping info) and which it turned out had been crushed in the mail so that one of the new capacitors was dead, didn’t have all the capacitors in that mine needs. I’m guessing this is because one of the boards appears to have components marked with an R, which I think is related to the revision.

Not sure, but I certainly ran out of capacitors well before finishing. Mainly 100uF 16V ones, but there were a couple of others…

Anyway, I left the originals in place – really the ones I was most concerned about were the power supply ones which did seem to have maybe had some leakage. At any rate, it went from not working when supplied to working after my interventions. So I’m taking that as a win.

I’m now playing with my 3D printer – I’m tempted by the idea of building the mycroft AI after Google’s yet-again-ethical-debacle. It’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the fact that I don’t want these companies surveilling me, because I don’t trust them.

Soon I shall be living in a cave, if I’m not careful.

*For doing what their bodies require.

The floor’s (been) done (a while)

Lordy, lordy. How time flies when fascists are trying to destroy democracy.

So on we trundle, with the ‘president’ ranting incoherently on facebook (“something something whine whine unfair whine whine I won whine whine I’m not a loser, how dare you say that *pathetic noises*”, or words to that effect), and we wait with bated breath for the centrist inadequacy to begin. I’d hoped that Biden would be dragged to the left by the progressive wing of the party. That hope is somewhat fading.

I suspect our current timeline for USexit is not unreasonable, but hey; we’ll see how much he gives in to the fascist-criminals, and how the election goes in two years, I guess. Still assuming a year 4 departure unless things improve markedly.

I’ve been taking a bit of a breather from the house. Not stopping entirely, because that way lies a house that’s unfinished years later. No. But I have been more…

…relaxed about it.

I mean, I did finish tiling the floor first.

There was some ‘excitement’ during that process when I discovered a very slow leak from the heating system (actually from the expansion vessel joint).

While I was tiling I made it into the boiler ‘cupboard’ (it has no doors yet); and realised that one of the valves looked like some kind of unfortunate cookie monster incident had occurred:


It turned out that it was dripping down – hitting the circulation pump, running across and off that, then dropping onto that valve. It wasn’t actually making it to the floor.

This was – as you’d imagine – quite annoying. Not least because it waited months to start doing this by which time I’d stopped angsting about it leaking. And now I’ll have to have a whole new period of angsting about my plumbing. Feh.

Still, we’ve only had a few minor issues – the radiator in the bathroom needed tightening up (which we spotted pretty much as soon as it was filled), one of the fresh water manifolds needed a bit of tighten (that I think worked loose over time, so I’m going to keep an eye on that. Flipping “apollo” brand pex shite); and the temporary sink – the tap joint leaked a little – but that I think again worked loose from the tap only being loosely attached.

Other than that, I’ve been pretty pleased with the plumbing so far. Hopefully it’ll stay okay.

Anyhow, so, we did finally finish the floor.


It’s all sealed and we actually have a floor we can clean and wash. It’s a vast improvement. So now we’re onto trim. Again.

Whiiiiich I’ve been taking somewhat of a slow approach to.

Part of that is simply the weather. It’s flipping chilly, and our garage is neither insulated nor drywalled. I realise now that we should have done that – wired it, insulated it and drywalled it – while it wasn’t useable during the seemingly endless wait for the door to be installed. We could probably have done it in a week or so of work; now it’s going to be a pain in the arse to move stuff, strip shelves off the wall, and then put it all back. Unfortunately, looking back at the period of time when it was mostly empty – we were pushing hard to get the house finished enough to be livable. So… perhaps I should let that one go :)

Buuuut. If we want it to be a more useable space, it’s going to need to be sorted.

Anyway, because it’s cold and the oil we use for the trim needs to stay at “70-80F” while it is applied and for the first few hours of drying, that means making a heatable space. So we’ve splashed out on a bunch of clips and about $60 in canvas dust-sheets. One of these has made a very lovely ceiling for a section of the garage…


I’ve got some bits and pieces to cut that need the ends oiling; and I’ve cut the bits of wood for the pantry. Also the house numbers and some light brackets. I’m pondering whether to do the dining area bookshelf, too. So… next week or the week after I’ll hang the other dust cloths up and create a very inefficiently warm area to heat. If that works then I’ll rinse-and-repeat for some more bits of trim and the doors to the attic which should improve our heat efficiency in the house.

Buuuut. I’m actually planning to spend some time on Rebecca this coming week. All being well she’ll be going up on axle stands and I’ll change the flange on the differential. That being well I’ll put the prop-shaft back on and… she’ll actually be mobile. Still petrol drinking, but mobile. Which should allow me to demonstrate that the engine and gearbox work, thus hopefully making them saleable.

I’m also thinking I might spend some time on my CD player. Who knows.

It’s wild this ‘not working on the house 100% of the time’ m’larkey. Sometimes I just sit and listen to music. I might even splash out and get a teeny bit of walnut to fix the piano’s music stand and… (dun dun dun) try and get back into playing again.

I know.

Calm down.

Yesterday I spent a chunk of time upgrading the firmware in my SJCAM Go-Pro clone. I actually upgraded it, then applied some dubiously hacked Russian firmware to it. For those of you with an SJ8Pro I highly recommend it, the quality increase is quite astonishing.

Apparently I have hobbies and interests. Who knew?