Winterizing again: Part 1, The Camper

Shit. It’s getting down to 0 Degrees C again. Time to do my duty and get the camper ready for another long winter. It gets down to -40 C here, so all the water needs to be purged from the system. I found a few cryptic notes from last year and I vowed to not do it again. I’m going to really give it a try and put this down on a page so it’s easier next year.

DRAIN

When I leave the campsite, I give the whole sewer system a good flush and then let it drain out as much as possible. Then pull out the camper and take it home. First, make sure the water pump is off. I get the camper level and open the water plug drain.  The drain plug for me is a 1/2″ square PVC plug. Get underneath and let ‘er rip. This should drain the water tank side of your system all the way to the pump. Have a beer. Get more of the stuff out of the camper. Let it drain. No drips? Put the plug back in.

My RV has a basic 5 gallon hot water system with 1/2″ hot water shutoffs on the input and output. I open the shutoffs to the hot water tank. Open the hot water heater cover of your camper and find the drain at the bottom of it, use a wrench and some swearing and take that f’n piece of plastic off and let it drain. I also open each hot water valve in the camper. They will gravity drain themselves for now. Replace the drain plug. Close the hot water valves. Close the hot water shutoffs. That’s it for the tank/pump side for now.

AIR

Next, you need an air compressor to connect it to the the 3/4″ hose water input (hookup water) of your RV. I have 1/4″ fittings on my air compressor. So what I need is a 1/4″ male threaded (air) to 3/4″ female threaded (water hose) fitting. My Co-op had them in the plumbing section. Same threads. If your quick connects for your air compressor at home are bigger (3/8″, 1/2″) then you need those instead, but it’s usually a 3/4″ hose fitting on the water side of the camper. You want to blow all the remaining hookup water out with air, but be careful. Before you connect these, I would be sure to have an air regulator that can regulate the pressure as most air compressors can pump enough PSI to blow out fittings in an RV system. (I am not sure if a RV water regulator works for this and I have not tried.) I have kept the pressure down with the regulator at around 35-45 psi.

Start the air compressor, run inside the camper, open the first cold water tap (I do the camper sink first). once it’s empty and done gurgling, close it, and open the next one (bathroom sink). Continue this (shower, toilet, Etc.) until all the cold water hookups have been blown out.

Open the shutoffs to your hot water tank, and then open the hot water valves one by one. They don’t really empty since the hot water isn’t full (for me, it won’t pump hot water unless the hot water tank is full. Check your setup, you may be able to bypass the hot water tank). Close the hot water shutoffs. Once that is done and there is no more gurgling, The air part is done and I remove the air compressor.

ANTIFREEZE

Unhook the input to the water pump from the tank with a wrench, and either put that hose in the antifreeze jug, or you might need a bit of hose to do this depending on the length of it. Once the antifreeze jug is hooked to the pump input, turn the water pump on. Go around the camper and open up each water valve one by one, Same way as you did before. Once each jug empties, put another one under. Once a valve is running out pink for a few seconds shut it off. This has also put a bit of pink RV antifreeze down the drains. Make sure a decent amount went into the gray water (drains) and the sewer (toilet). I let them both run for a few more seconds just to be sure. So, now the cold water is done.

For the hot water, if you have a bypass you can fill the lines with antifreeze like the cold water, or if you are like me, you have gravity drained down the hot water lines, and aired them out. Options. 1. You are done, or

2. Open the shutoffs and fill the hot water tank a bit with what antifreeze there is left from the pump. It doesn’t fill the hot water lines but they are aired out, and it puts some in the hot water tank.

3. Put the plug back on and fill it with at least 5 gallons more of RV Antifreeze and run the hot water taps till they are full.

I go for #2, and fill some of the tank. RV hot water tanks are pretty expensive in my opinion ($500-$700 CDN in my area). I did this method last year, and had no problems. Now for the long wait until we can go camping again… Next up for winterizing is the boat.

Overheating problems on an old ECS TF570 motherboard. Xubuntu 12.04 workarounds

Well this old motherboard of mine (ECS TF-570) has started to have some problems. When encoding videos with Avidemux, it was randomly shutting down. I run Xubuntu Linux 12.04 as my operating system. I have driven myself crazy troubleshooting hardware problems as software problems in the past. Luckily this time I thought hardware first since it is only happening when the CPU is loaded up. I was headed in the right direction from the get go.

I googled my way to this page, which really got things started fast.

$ sudo apt-get install cpufrequtils

$ cpufreq-info

For me it read

current CPU frequency is 2.4 GHz
hardware limits: 1000 MHz - 2.40 GHz
available frequency steps: 2.40 GHz, 2.20 GHz, 2.00 GHz, 1.80 GHz, 1000 MHz

This is while the system was encoding. When the CPU is not loaded up, it showed 1000MHz. I let an encoding run while I set the cpu. So using the next command, you can adjust to any value shown in your “available frequency steps”. I set it to

sudo cpufreq-set -u 2.0Ghz

Now, when you run the cpufreq-info command it shows 2.0Ghz (as long as the CPU is loaded up doing work!). Here is the wiki page for cpufreq. Now to display it. I looked for another page and installed the sensors side of things.

$ sudo apt-get install lm-sensors
$ sensors

This showed me

acpitz-virtual-0
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1:        +59.0°C  (crit = +70.0°C)

k8temp-pci-00c3
Adapter: PCI adapter
Core0 Temp:   +59.0°C  
Core1 Temp:   +64.0°C

And higher, so I knew I was on the right track. it was shutting down when it reached the crit limit.

$ sudo sensors-detect

and said yes to everything

$ sudo service module-init-tools start

Lastly, a way to view the sensors.

$ sudo apt-get install gkrellm
$ gkrellm

I went into the preferences and checked off all my sensors so they would display. No more guessing WTF happened! You can also use widgets or conky (as shown at the bottom of this page) to display the sensor information, but this was the way I decided I liked it.

Installing an adjustable fuel screw on a 2008 Yamaha WR450F

You would think there couldn’t even be more that a sentence to this. Remove the old screw, and install the new one. Easy right? Yeah. From what I heard and based on your year and make of bike this one is either that easy, or really hard. Well yeah it didn’t go as smoothly as the video. It is SO worth it though! Do this mod. Just be nice to the parts, and keep everything in order. I’ll tell you everything I remember.

I have a 2008 WR450, and I haven’t spent too much time looking the frames and carbs of other years. But on mine, the carb is tucked way the F up there and there is not too much room. First of all, take off the panels and seat, then turn the gas tank to off and take the clip and the the hose off that runs from the tank to the carb. Then remove the tank. If you can see the boot on the front and the back of the carb and the back by now, then good! You will need some T-handles for this or long allen wrenches. Loosen them both and twist the carb till you see the bottom. If this doesn’t happen, then follow along with what I did.

I was changing the battery and the exhaust during this teardown, and also took the back fender off. If I would also have taken the rear shock out and took off the throttle cables, I could have completely removed the carb, but I wasn’t feeling that brave. A few beers brave, but no more. Removed the exhaust. Removed the battery. Took the coolant reservoir off, unplugged all the electrical connectors, pulled all the wires and hoses back, and pulled the whole back fender off.

At this point, I could twist the carb enough to see the bottom. There is a 17mm plug on the bottom of the float bowl (lower part of the carb) that I took off to see what I could see, and there was a jet in there. I put the plug back in. Not the jet I am looking for. The pictures in the manual are terrible. The fuel screw is right in front of that plug though, hidden under a type of aluminum rivet in the spot where you access the screw. I guess this was to keep people from messing with the air fuel mix, and to keep it california green. Well forget that. We need to take this rivet out. You need to get a screw like a small wood screw or drywall screw in there just enough, and then snap that rivet out. Mine was a real bitch, and every screw I put in there looked like it was going to break before the rivet came out. I was careful not to hit the rest of the aluminum carb as I wiggled it. Persistence, good wrench positioning and a few choice words and the little F’er finally popped out.

Next get a small flathead, one with about an 1/8 of an inch wide head. Inside there is a screw that looks like the gold one in the picture below. It was recommended to twist the screw in and count the turns first so you would have some idea of the stock setting. You need to get the screw, spring, washer, and rubber washer out, hopefully all as one. if not, it gets tougher as you need to fish for the parts if they won’t come out on their own. I guess I got lucky here. Once this is done, it is all easy street.

Now all there is to do is twist the new fuel screw in. I started at two and a half turns from all the way in, and moved it to 2 turns, I’ll probably do this later to tweak. Then put everything back together, and go for a rip! Yea, it always sounds easy, and before you know it, the day is half over. Note to self! Always take tons of notes and pictures and lay everything out nicely!

I hope this works out for you, I am really glad I got this done, I had been putting it off for almost two years! Wow! (Well having two kids, moving halfway cross the country and switching jobs also put these bike mods on the backburner) and also because I did not want to mess it up, and there was not much to go on from the net, except the one youtube I found.

So since the AIS has been removed, and now the fuel screw is done I’ve been ripping around the backroads and wooping it up. Now, to go looking for that grey wire!

Ripping Part 2 – Exact Audio Copy in Wine – Xubuntu 12.04

Well sometimes it takes a while to get back into a project. I started ripping our old CD’s back in 2010, and here I am starting it back up again now… After some consideration, I still like the accuraterip feature of EAC, plus it’s just easy to use. I guess I could use K3b or Soundconverter, but they don’t offer the same features, and I started this project using EAC. So let’s do what is being done.

http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/en/index.php/resources/download/

Download and run with Wine, at easiest that means left or right clicking it and run with Wine, or just navigating to the directory you downloaded it to and typing

wine eac*

This will install it, but it will error when you try to start the program. Next open a terminal in the directory you installed to. For me that was

/home/username/.wine/drive_c/Program Files(x86)/Exact Audio Copy/

and type

regsvr32 sql*

as shown here. Ok now the program will open, but there is a few things to sort out. I went through the wizard that guides you on first setup. It didn’t find my CD-Rom. Fine. It needs LAME. Right I remember this. Leave it on that screen and open a browser window.

http://www.rarewares.org/mp3-lame-bundle.php, I downloaded 3.99.5.

Extract the zip, copy the folder that is created to the EAC install directory, and continue the wizard. Show it where you put lame.exe. CDDB wants an email address, so I gave them one. I left the options unchanged for the naming conventions, I’ll change them later.

Like it says on the WineHQ page, I had change EAC Options -> Interface from “Native Win32 interface for XP/Vista/Win7″ to “Installed external ASPI interface” and then restart EAC before Audio CDs would be recognized. I was kind of ready to give up here, and restarted a few times, and had another beer, but it started working.

So reopening EAC it finds the CD, and communicates with the accuraterip database, and opens the CD. Now to add the names of the song.

Database > Get CD Information from > Remote Metadata Provider

I picked my CD and continued. Now to set up the MP3 bitrate and naming convention before ripping.

EAC > Compression Options > Under bit rate change it to 320kbps (if you like, that’s just what I like). Select LAME Mp3 and let it clear the parameters. Last I set the naming convention.

As shown in this post, EAC > Filename > Naming Scheme. It used to be

%D (%C)\%N %T

but now it is

%artist%\%albumtitle%\(%tracknr2%) %title%

thats about it, EAC is now working for me. It is now 3am. Listening to a bit more James Low Western Front, ripping some old Buddy Emmons, finishing my beer and going to bed. Night. The stars don’t care.

The Microphone Saga: Buying from Amazon.com in Canada

I have only myself to blame. After I ordered some CD’s from Amazon and they showed me how little they cared to ship them on time (delivery at payment was promised two weeks, changed on delivery date to one to seven months), I canceled that order and thought strike one, Amazon.

Really, I should have just stopped here. But then I started looking for some microphones, and the Audio Technica AT2041 Studio Microphone package was cheaper than I can buy it locally. $105 bucks (plus import fees and shipping) compared to almost $200. Again they promised delivery in under two weeks. It seemed like a good idea to avoid a trip to the city and just order online. A month and a half passed! Where is our microphones? I tried to contact “DHL Global” and there was no replies. Ever. Worst website and contact form black hole. I sent five emails over the space of two weeks to them and received nothing back. After that, we contacted Amazon and were refunded the money. Then we were told it is too late to reorder them at the same price. First of all, what? I ordered these and didn’t receive them, and now it’s going to be more to try again? I didn’t waste all this time just to get my money back did I?

Yes, I did. They offered a $15 credit and free shipping if we reordered them for $117 ($12 more). I said F that. But then some time passed and I reconsidered. With free shipping and 15 bucks off, we could still get them for around the same price, and still wanted them, Duh.

Back to the beginning, I reordered them and we were charged for shipping but got it back through phone calls and eventually it was refunded manually. It’s already going down that road again. The shipping is promised 6 to 10 days. May 8th it was shipped and it has been sitting in Illinois for the last 5 days. It hasn’t even hit the border. I don’t have any faith in them. If my guitar that is in the mail right now gets shipped to DHL Global I am going to have to go postal on them.

Knowing that the mics still may never show up, was this whole thing worth trying to save 75 or so dollars? For the time I’ve wasted dealing with them, no. Fool me three times, shame on me twice.

Amazon and DHL Global. I will replace you, and you cannot get my business back.

Homemade Lap Steel guitar

I finally got around to this project after wanting to build one for years. Sometimes I have to get past that idea stage and just go build something, see how it goes, and learn from it. I had some pieces sawn up already that we were going to use for a bed frame so I cut them into 3′ sections and  glued two together as the body with headstock style, and clamped it in an unusual but effective glue drip way.

image

The body turned out good and I planed up the sides even. Next was the fretboard. I had a 3/4 piece that I had used to glue flooring down that was lifting up in our house and planed it down to about a 1/4. After that the corners were easy to shape and I got my template printed out. 22.5 scale 3 wide and something like .03 between the strings and the edges of the fretboard. After taping the template to the board, I used an exacto blade to mark the frets, and then used a mitre box and hacksaw to groove out frets.

image

Cutting the headstock was by far the hardest part, and next time I think I would just do a regular guitar headstock. I didn’t take any pictures cause I was worried about screwing it up. Not my most skilled moment, but it worked.

Next was getting the body edges routed, and then starting to put the hardware on. The nut was made of a 1/2 by 3/4 piece of angle aluminum, and the bridge out of a 3/4 aluminum channel with holes drilled in it to hold the strings.

image

Stole the pickup, jack and tuning pegs out of a les paul copy I had that wasn’t getting played. Routed out a slot for the pickup and jack, and drilled a hole from one to the other to hook em up.

image

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After everything went on, I had a beer and strung ‘er up. The set of strings I got didn’t even have a ball on the end, but I made it work.

image

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It played great (lucky!) so I played it for the rest of the night and had a few more beers. The next night I took the hardware off and gave it two coats of stain, and some clear coats of varathane.

image

Maybe another time I will fill in the frets with something else and put fret markers on, but this one is rustic style so I’m keeping it simple.

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Finally done! Here’s a pic all strung up and ready to go with my new Paloma stoneware tone bar. At first I started with a open E tuning since it suited the set of strings I had, but quickly changed to a C6/A7 tuning that is a lot more fun. From low to high C# E G A C E. Learning some stuff here. http://gregcutshaw.com/Tab/LapTab.html

Changing from Gnome 2?

Kind of a rant. I’ve put this off for a while hoping to see some improvements in the Unity Desktop, but with 12.04 about to release, it’s time to change.

I’m a Desktop Linux user. I’ve been using Linux for 15 years at least. I started out with every distribution that I could download or install from a magazine. The Internet was slow back then. Then I ran Mandrake till it started to suck (Mandriva). Then I started using Ubuntu. Windows 2000 was the last dual boot on any of my computers (2006), and that was just because I needed to play games. Since then the Wine project has made some great progress and can play all my favorite games. Thanks again @WineHQ

I’ve been running my main Desktop with Ubuntu 11.04 64bit, and it has never ran anything but Ubuntu since I built it in 2006. This computer does any downloading, transcoding, regular coding, mythtv backend, music server, virtual machines, and wine gaming that I need. It’s my workhorse, and I love it. I have other computers around the house running Lubuntu and Ubuntu Studio. They have their uses and place. But my main Desktop needs to be more like the 11.04 that I’ve been using for the last few years.

It’s not that I don’t understand Ubuntu and Unity’s current direction, it’s that it doesn’t suit my needs. The desktop environment is changed. Things are being taken away. Unwanted things are popping up in their place.

So I have tried Unity, and am not interested. No. So yes, it is obvious and I know that I can modify Ubuntu to be the way I want and /or try to hold on to Gnome 2 (for now, fallback? cinnamon?), but as I’m making a change here, I want a new desktop environment I can get used to again, like I did with Gnome 2, and that will be there in future releases. I don’t use 3d on the desktop, I use it for games. I don’t want flashy things, and I don’t want to be told what to do. I tell computers what to do. I want simple things that work, and with less overhead so I can load this computer up doing work. Really, isn’t the reason you choose a distribution so you don’t have to spend the extra time dicking around? I must have less extra time. I pick the distribution that is closest to what I want so I have less dicking around. I want to be doing stuff. So, for the first time in 8 years, I am trying to find something closer to what I want to start with for my main desktop.

I started with Lubuntu 12.04 64 bit. Still *buntu. Good. I uninstalled some stuff and started loading on my stuff. It didn’t feel right. I still love Lubuntu, but not for this computer.

I tried Ubuntu Studio 12.04 64bit, and it is close. but there is a bunch of stuff installed that I don’t need, so why use that as a starting point. That stuff belongs on my studio computer.

As a detour, I tried Debian 6.0.4 64bit. It was looking really good, and Gnome 2 was looking friendly, but it ended up being a bit far behind in packages so I couldn’t run some of the same programs. Iceweasel instead of Firefox and hacks to replace it but not the current versions. Wine 1.4 is a hack from a different repository, and in the end it just didn’t work for me. I was hoping Debian would be like going to the mothership, and instead it really felt like going back to Ubuntu of a few years ago. So, I just want to run a more current system. It was still a fun afternoon. Send it to VM’s!

I tried Linux Mint. It looks pretty. But some how came in a close second. I will try this one in a VM as well.

So finally I download Xubuntu, having come full circle and still searching for a home. XFCE is my second choice to Gnome 2, and having the *buntu base is still a comfort to me. So maybe I start over with a new desktop environment. It reminds me a lot of the studio computer downstairs.

Everything looks great. XFCE Terminal, Leafpad, XFburn, many of the default programs are just what I like. Simple, fast, and get the job done. I uninstalled a few programs that I don’t use and installed my favorites. It didn’t take long and I didn’t run into any of the usual annoyances. Pretty good for a beta 2.

So I am feeling pretty good about this update. I am really starting to like XFCE after a few days, and since the only change is the desktop environment, I stay current with *buntu and keep doing what I like. Now to get back to work!

Update: After almost a month, I can’t complain about XFCE. She’s a giver. It’s a good fit.

Update: After two months, it’s just getting better. Upgrading my other boxes around the house to Xubuntu. My advice is not using Gnome2 forks but just to move on to a new DE. Thanks @xfceofficial!

Making music with Android

A quick post about my two favorite music apps for Android. I’m using Gingerbread on a Samsung Galaxy S2.

I’m an old guitar player and I can’t stand it when a guitar is out. I found an app called GStrings in the market that works really good.

Next, how about some multitrack recording? Four Tracks Lite does this easily. Heres a shot of it in action.

Recordings are 11025hz, and you can mix down to wav or ogg formats to export it. That way I can take it to the studio and have the tracks right there to refresh my memory.

You need headphones to record and listen at the same time, but for a quick recording of a riff or song idea, you can just use the phones mic. I use this all the time to keep stuff I would otherwise forget about 2 minutes later.

Well that’s it. No big deal eh? A music studio on my phone. Welcome to the future!

Alternatives to ITunes in Canada: Ubuntu One with Banshee

Recently I tried buying some CD’s from Amazon. After three weeks, on the day of their delivery, Amazon sent me a cowardly email saying it would take another 1 to 7 months. Tourettes symptoms. No more buying CD’s from them. I’ve been looking for some albums by Redd Volkaert and a few others for a while now.

I use Linux (Ubuntu) and not Windows or Mac. I looked at Google Music. Not in Canada. I looked at Amazon Mp3. Not in Canada. I looked all around. Not in Canada. I don’t have much experience in this area. I know my Apple friends can download music in Canada, so maybe I can just download ITunes for a night, run it in Wine, get my songs and delete ITunes the next day? Right. It didn’t even start to work with Wine. I’m not surprised and not disappointed. But well what the hell, I still need these albums.

Yes, there must be other ways, but I’m not looking for any kind of mainstream pop music here, so I need to find a way to buy it. It’s 2012 and there should be a legitimate way to do this. Finally, I start searching for alternatives to ITunes, and find that Ubuntu One and Banshee are doing music sales kind of like ITunes does. I’ve never liked Banshee, and would rather use Audacious. But I might as well try it for this.

I entered my CC info and bought the songs in Banshee. Then it tells me the downloads stay “In the Cloud” (gay) until you sync a computer with Ubuntu One. Ok sync me. As long as they are really non-DRM mp3, I will download ‘em and back ‘em up. Then the program stuck at “queuing” for my songs. I’m feel like starting to go down that familiar road. But then I started searching and read some posts that I just needed to do some commands and/or reboot and such. I think a reboot or process kill would have done it. But with not much choice or patience I just typed the two commands and then rebooted.

u1sdtool -c
u1sdtool -s

It worked! There was a bit of me checking here and there, but Ubuntu One started downloading my songs to the ~.ubuntuone directory and I started listening. (Pause for a shot of Tequila and a new Beer).

So it was $9.99 each (or 0.99$ a song), when Amazon was going to charge me $13 bucks and 1 to 7 months each, the artists site was going to charge me $20 plus $15 each CD, and ITunes was going to charge me 9.99 I guess (didn’t even get that far) plus a night of installing Windows on an old computer and feeling used.

I knew there was going to be some rough edges here but hey, I’m just happy it worked. Otherwise I was going to have to go to Nashville and pick ‘em up myself. That’s the nice way of sayin’ things. Cheers y’all.

Update: It turns out they don’t have deals with all the labels yet, so I found emusic.com after more searching and it turns out their service works too. It is a monthly subscription that gives you a certain amount of music to download. I’ll test it out over the next few months and see if suits me.

Blocking “Login with Facebook” with Adblock Plus for Chrome and Firefox

Install the Adblock Plus extension to your browser and then add these custom filters. That’s it! No more Facebook on every site you visit.

||fbcdn.net^$domain=~facebook.com|~facebook.net|~fbcdn.com|~fbcdn.net
||fbcdn.com^$domain=~facebook.com|~facebook.net|~fbcdn.com|~fbcdn.net
||facebook.net^$domain=~facebook.com|~facebook.net|~fbcdn.com|~fbcdn.net
||facebook.com^$domain=~facebook.com|~facebook.net|~fbcdn.com|~fbcdn.net

I had this somewhere on the site for when I change browsers, but lost it. Found this originally on Lifehacker. Thanks Whitson!