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A project log for Esot's Trenches

True tales (Trigger Warning!)

esot.eric 08/17/2017 at 07:140 Comments

First, Thank You for all the congrats on the last log! Cat seems happy... all except for the new layout I did yesterday... (but yahknow how cats are about rearrangement and such...)

A ratcheting tie-down strap, a sheet of plywood, and a roll of that non-slip stuff used in cabinets--along with a few things already-had (futon, plastic crates)--makes for a couch, a bed, storage, and near-infinitely-more floor-space!

Also, LED "holiday-festive lights":

Was planning on rigging 'em to run at 12V... Seems simple. Think they'd save power over the overhead incandescents, among other things.

One string has 50 white LEDs, in two groups. 25 LEDs in series. Each end of each series group has a slightly different bulb-socket than the rest. So, logically, the first and last LED in each series would have series resistors... right? (Hmm maybe not, now that I think about it).

Well, it seemed completely unintuitive to me that, instead, they put a series resistor with *every* LED *except* the first and last. Also, unintuitively, there are only 25 LEDs in series with 120V... Now I dunno the effects of AC on these things, but I'm thinking, yahknow, LEDs usually run at ~2-3V... Seems they could easily've put more in series. Also, yahknow, 120VAC is RMS, right? So doesn't it peak somewhere more like 170V?

Well, anyways, each LED (except the first and last, why?) has a 240ohm resistor... That's like... alot. I did the math, and am pretty sure the wattage I came up with was on-par with regular-ol' incandescent bulbs.

The theory I just came up with, I guess, is that maybe if a bulb fails with a short-circuit, then the series-resistor will help protect the remaining bulbs. But seems goofy. Another theory, maybe, that different bulbs may respond at different rates... e.g. parasitic capacitance could cause 20 bulbs to look like short-circuits longer than the other 5, shoving tons of current through those five...? (Is that relevant at 60Hz sine-wave? Maybe only when initially plugging-in during a peak...?)

Anyways, what it means is that I thought I could get away with at least 4 LEDs in series at 12VDC... but instead it looks like only 2. (Yeah, I tested... 3's pretty dim).

So, basically, that means to rewire this thing for 12VDC would require 50 splices.

I'm pretty sure the best way to do this, for the impatient, would be these doodads:

But the best I've found is $7 for 50, and that's online, and no guarantee they'll ship via USPS (since my shipping address is a PO-box). And, that's like... more than, or at least on-par with, a new string of LEDs. And I've three strings I wanted to do this to... So, it's been put on-hold.

Instead, I'm running 'em off the inverter, which seems utterly ridiculous. Besides that, the flicker is annoying to me (to the point that, when I used them at home I built a rectifier for 'em). On the other hand, it can be kinda interesting; e.g. playing string-on-stick with the cat with 60Hz lighting... Lissajous?


Now here's the weird thing... When I ran one string off the rectifier, it acted really weird. I can't recall exactly... but now it's still acting really weird, when running off the inverter.

Sometimes it lights up fine. Other times it's so dim it's hard to tell they're lit even in low light (but they are lit!). And sometimes it'll alternate between those two states randomly while it's running.

At one point I thought I knew a lot about LEDs... but this is boggling my mind. When lit normally, all the bulbs look fine. None are "burnt out" nor excessively bright. When "dim" I've tried reseating all the bulbs with no effect. And it seems completely random, or at least doesn't seem related to the duration it's powered...



In other news... the cat and I are just trying to figure things out... Still no "home" to speak of, but not exactly looking for an apartment, etc. I'm really quite sour on the concept, after that last experience, and the one before that, and frankly, now that I think about it, some others before those.

I've a few spots I've been cycling through, and branching out a bit from time-to-time. One's quite lovely on a lake... but it's also a pretty frequented-area, so it's not like I can just set-up for more than a day at a time. And similar elsewhere. On the other hand, I'm discovering that despite my cravings for "getting away" and fond memories of having so-done (and despite my "crippling social anxiety") I don't particularly feel comfortable without people within shouting-distance... There's gotta be a solution, I just haven't figured it out yet. I've a few ideas-ish, but not sure how/if to implement them, especially in consideration of the long-haul.

Am more than half-tempted to take up long-haul truck-driving as a career/lifestyle. It's a thought, anyways. Among other cons (vs. pros), that'd pretty much halt all my hackery, or at least limit it to truck/cat/"home"-related things... *maybe* the occasional script-hack for sorting photos, etc. OTOH, that's kinda how it's going now. Also quite limiting in that lifestyle is the size of the beast... 's not like you can just pull off to check out a view, or go through a drive-through, or even take a back-road... Could imagine it'd get old fast... OTOH, again, that's kinda how it's going now, but I'm making-do. Everything's got it's pros and cons.

The cat seems to go through phases of enjoying watching the scenery pass, or going out for "hikes", and laying-low like she wants nothing to do with this lifestyle... She also seems to keep finding herself near big-rigs. I lost her once before, and she was found up on the axle of a semi. And when they're near at a stop, she seems to wander toward 'em. Good hiding-spots, if nothing else.


5203 items in my feed... I hate to say it, but I don't think I'll ever catch-up :(

Sorry to be missing out on everyone's project-updates and the contest!


Now that lack-of-internet is less a concern, power is the next hurdle... seems all my batteries are flaking out. My phone's battery runs about 5 minutes when not plugged-in. It claims >75% charge, but drops dead. My laptop's lasts about 15 minutes. My car battery seems to hold enough for about 45 minutes with the laptop powered, before there's not enough juice for the starter. I can't count how many jump-starts I've had in the past three months. I think the overall solution is a new car-battery, and keeping the old. Then I can power other things off one and not worry about the starter.

The next hurdle might be location... Can be hard to find a place to park and sit for hours, or even an hour, which shouldn't be used for some purpose (sleep, eating, etc.). This is a weird new lifestyle. I'm learning...


Oh, the coolant leak! No kidding... it seems to have stopped *completely*.

I drove 900+ miles to pick up the cat without an overheat, then completely forgot to keep an eye on the coolant level... so have put on several hundred more miles... And the thing's still full right up to the line. It's almost hard to believe. No, it *is* hard to believe. At one point I couldn't go further than 60 miles without having to refill (not top up) the thing; 2+ gallons every 60 miles. Seems ground black pepper is the trick.