Sunday, July 13, 2014

Burning down the house

Well I had a very interesting July 4th holiday (USA). That Saturday I developed welts on my arms after being out in the sun for 4 hours (and I was 2 hours from home). I had gotten a severe sun burn the week before when I forgot to put sun block on my arms and went out for an 80 mile ride. This week I put on sun block but got the welts anyway. Later, I went to see the Doc and he said long sleeves, sun block and anti-infection lotion until it heals. I have at least one light long sleeve cycling jersey that will work for my bike rides so I won't miss out on the mileage. :-)

Now on to more serious burns. About a week ago I ran into dimming and flicker lights and appliances. Sunday the flicker became huge problem. I thought for certain that the house was going to burn down. Some lights and appliances would flicker and go out for 30 seconds at a time (that's really bad). Others showed no issues what so ever. I checked out evertyhing and I'm pretty sure I'm not over the current rating of any branch, the breakers are cool, and the outlets and swithes showed no evidence of arcing. I pulled everything that wasn't absolutely needed and the problem lessened but didn't go away. I checked my notes and found was that the problem only occurred on phase 1 of a split phase service and the voltage dropped to 0 when the problem occurred. I called the power utility and when they arrived they found that the service drop was bad. The gentleman pointed out that the drop didn't look good. After he replaced the ends he noted that it was melted like too much power was being used. He also noted that the voltage was low, at 116 v AC. While I don't think we're using too much power, I do have to take into consideration that he knows what he's talking about. So I'll start monitoring my power with my Brultech ECM-1240s I picked up last year. I'll used the Brultech to investigate if I have too much load in one place (i.e. breaker or phase). This house was designed more than 50 years ago and it's possible that most of the load is on one side rather than shared. At the moment my battery backup still occasionally beeps. This wasn't a concern in the past as the power in the area isn't the greatest, especially during the summer. Now every beep is of great concern to me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pretty little lights

I've been busy investigating LED technology and I've learned a few things like many cheap LED bulbs don't work well in a table lamp. I've also learned about bulb type and shapes, color temperature, color rendering index (CRI), that LEDs fade over time and LED WAF. I've found a few bulbs that work (so far, let's see how long these things last). I am worried about cheap bulbs and bulb life. If I understand things correctly, my LED bulbs will slowly fade over time, cheap bulbs more so as they push the components past design recommendations. I've already seen CFL bulbs die a smokey and smelly death. I'm hoping that won't happen with LED bulbs.
Since LEDs are small, it might be time to rethink the light fixtures. I've seen a number of interesting lamp/light designs. So with that thought I picked up a Adafruit NeoPixel RGB LED Strip. I plan on using them on the Dollhouse. It should be interesting to see how they get used an what I can do with them. I intend to control them with the chipKit Pi from Pytomation on the Raspberry Pi. If I understand the interface correctly I'll need to setup the ChipKit board to have 8MHz SPI setup. More on that later.

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