Posts Tagged Rants

Monthly Image: Deposit Slot

The Dutchess County Board of Elections occupies the building at 47 Cannon St which, if I recall correctly, was a Central Hudson Gas & Electric Company office back in the day.

CHG&E accepted bill payments at all hours through a little slot high on the wall:

Pay Bills Here - overview
Pay Bills Here – overview

A closer look:

Pay Bills Here - envelope slot
Pay Bills Here – envelope slot

It’s solid cast brass, neatly milled, and built to last a thousand years. They don’t make ’em like they used to, probably for good reason.

I’m told somebody once stuffed burning trash through the Arlington branch library’s book return slot. Nowadays, the fire code apparently requires the room behind the slot to be fireproof and isolated from the main structure, which may account for the popularity of outdoor book / media return boxes.

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DOT-01 NP-BX1 Battery Status

Back in February, a quartet of DOT-01 NP-BX1 lithium batteries for my Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera had mediocre performance compared to an older Wasabi battery:

Dot01 NP-BX1 - new 2019-02
Dot01 NP-BX1 – new 2019-02

After eight months of regular use, they’re even further into mediocre:

Sony DOT-01 NP-BX1 - 2019-10-29
Sony DOT-01 NP-BX1 – 2019-10-29

In round numbers, they’re down from 2.8 W·h to 2.5 W·h and now run the camera for about 70 minutes, rather than 90+ when new. Our typical rides go for about an hour, which means I must swap batteries somewhere along the way.

I still dislike the notion of sticking a 16850 cell next to the camera and powering it from the USB charger running the M20 rear camera requires another helmet cable, but it’s obvious NP-BX1 batteries lack enough active ingredient for the long haul.

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Beware the Domain Squatters

A squatter has taken over a defunct domain at the far end of a link buried somewhere in the 3800 posts you find here. In place of the useful page I saw, you’ll see this stylin’ popover:

Domain Squat - engineeration dot com
Domain Squat – engineeration dot com

The “standard security check” is a nice touch, although you should keep in mind the Dilbert cartoon about unexpected side effects.

The actual URL, which I will not make clickable, includes the domain ffgetsplendidapps, which tells you just about everything you need to know about what’s going on.

Because they’re squatting, “continue directly to your destination” means being dumped into a Google search after they’ve meddled with your browser & system configuration. Clicking the inconspicuous × in the upper right closes the popover and dumps you into the search, perhaps before doing anything.

I have no good (i.e., automated) way to find broken links and, as far as I know, there is no way to automatically detect domain squatting, so you’re on your own.

Trust, but verify!


Warm-White LED Strip: FAIL

The roll of warm-white LEDs I used for the first sewing machine lights has evidently aged out:

Failed warm-white LED strip
Failed warm-white LED strip

They’ve been wrapped on their original roll, tucked in an antistatic bag, for the last five years, so it’s not as if they’ve been constantly abused.

All the cool-white LEDs on an adjacent roll in the same bag still work perfectly, so you’re looking at inherent vice.

I harvested the three longest functional sections and dumped the remainder in the electronics recycling box.

COB LEDs provide much more light, if only because they run at higher power densities, and seem to be much better cost-performers:

Juki TL-2010Q COB LED - installed - rear view
Juki TL-2010Q COB LED – installed – rear view

Admittedly, I haven’t looked at the RGB LED strips in a while, either.


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NuTone 8663RP Bathroom Vent Fan Bushing

The NuTone 8663RP (for future reference) vent fan in the Black Bathroom began making horrible grinding sounds and, after a day or two, stopped turning. Pulling it out showed the impeller had slipped downward on the motor shaft:

Bath Vent Fan - impeller shift
Bath Vent Fan – impeller shift

Which meant the impeller was now resting on the steel frame:

Bath Vent Fan - impeller interference
Bath Vent Fan – impeller interference

Curiously, there’s no retainer under the impeller preventing it from sliding downward, other than good intentions and a friction fit. Nothing lasts, although it’s been working for the last two decades, so I guess it doesn’t owe me much.

My first thought was to build a steel or aluminum collar with a setscrew to hold the thing up, but I decided to try a simple bushing made of UHMW polyethylene between the motor and the impeller.

Turning it to the proper length required a test fit, then another session on a mandrel made from some aluminum tubing:

Bath Vent Fan - bushing trim
Bath Vent Fan – bushing trim

The snout came out just long enough to clear the motor frame, resting the impeller’s weight atop the bearing around the shaft:

Bath Vent Fan - bushing installation
Bath Vent Fan – bushing installation

It’s hard to see between the impeller blades, but there’s actually a bit of clearance underneath:

Bath Vent Fan - bushing installed
Bath Vent Fan – bushing installed

Which left just barely enough room on the top for the retaining clip:

Bath Vent Fan - shaft clip - detail
Bath Vent Fan – shaft clip – detail

I had high hopes for the UHMW, but it seems any contact between the rotating impeller and the stationary bearing transmits enough sound to be annoying.

So I must break down and build a collar, although it’s off the critical path right now.

As far as I can tell from the pictures, dropping $50 on a new fan unit will get me exactly the same problem. Whether it would last for two decades before failing is an open question, but my experience with freezer fans suggests what we have is as good as it gets and making a bushing is the least-awful way to proceed.



Power Lift Chair Upholstery Protection

For reasons not relevant here, we have a power lift chair which has been shedding upholstery tufts since the day we got it. After realizing this wasn’t going to stop on its own, I spent a while poking around underneath and discovered the steel struts supporting the leg rest rub along the upholstery during their entire travel:

Lift chair - strut vs upholstery
Lift chair – strut vs upholstery

Apparently, the padding behind the upholstery pushes it a bit further out than the original design could accommodate, letting the raw edges on the steel struts shave off the fuzz.

I put relatively smooth stainless steel tape on all the protrusions and bent it around the rough edges:

Lift chair - strut smoothing
Lift chair – strut smoothing

Those steel folds are smoother than they appear.

It’s not obvious this will solve the problem, but the struts seems to be scraping off much less fuzz than before, so it’s a step in the right direction.

Why is it all of today’s consumer products require 10% more engineering to work in the real world?

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Security Theater: Combination Lock Division

When dialing the proper combination becomes too troublesome:

Security Theater - Combination Snap Hook
Security Theater – Combination Snap Hook

At a quick glance, though, it looks secure!

Security theater isn’t harmless, not that we have any say in the matter.