Saturday, January 31, 2009

Neat Gadget Meets Mr. Battery

This may turn out to be almost an advertisement. It is pretty seldom that I am really amazed by a gadget but this one really performs and provides a great service.

Here's the setup. All RV's out there run almost everything using 12 volt DC. about the only things that uses 115 AC are the Air Conditioners, the Microwave and the Television. The lighting, the furnace, and the waterpump all are running from electricity supplied by one or more batteries. These batteries are much like the one in your automobile. Pretty much the same size and shape also. The only important difference is they are "deep cycle" batteries and weigh a bit more than the one in your average Toyota.

Automobile batteries are designed to supply very high amperage for a short time. That is because just about thier whole job is to start the engine. The remainder of the time, the engine is re-charging them so they will be ready for use next time. One down side is they discharge pretty rapidly and cannot last very long without being recharged. Another downside is if you discharge them too much they will never recover.

A Deep Cycle battery on the other hand is made with much thicker plates and can last quite a bit longer before requiring a recharge cycle. Thus the name "Deep Cycle". Deep cycle batteries are used when long life is at a premium and there is no constantly running engine to keep them re-charged. Electric vehicles like golf carts and some hybreds are examples. They are also in use in some instances where getting out and walking home might be a little hard. Another name for Deep Cycle is Marine Duty.

The main idea here is how do you keep these batteries maintained when they are not in use for fairly long periods of time. A case in point is the Recreational Vehicle. Whether it is trailer or Motor Home, Bassboat or Houseboat it shares the same problem. It might sit for weeks or months with no activity. Especially in the winter months. By the way, winter is especially tough on batteries. Just plugging them into a charger and walking away will not work. That would tend to boil out all the electrolyte over a period of time. Traditionally, disconnecting the batteries and storing them in a warm location has been one method. Couple that with periodic electrolyte level checks, hooking up to a dummy load for short periods, and cooresponding 2 to 3 hour periods on a charger is about the best method. However that means that you must adhere to a bi-weekly schedule.

OK, OK...lets get to the gadget. It is called the Charge Wizard. The Charge Wizard does almost all the battery babysitting chores for you without you having to be there. It is made by the same people that made the convertor on my trailer. By the convertor on my trailer is a Power Dynamics Model 9160. It converts 115 VAC to 12 VDC and includes a built-in battery charger. When you plug in the "land line" ( that's slang for very heavy duty extension cord) into the power pedestal at the State Park or whever you are camping, it supplies 12 Volts to the trailer and as a bonus charges up the battery. See the picture below:

The convertor is the large grey box on the right. The Charge Wizard is the little black box with the label at the upper left from the convertor.

Here is the secret. The Charge wizard plugs into the convertor and controls the battery charger by going into one of 4 possible states. Normal, Boost, Storage, and Equalize.
Normal is 13.6 volts to recharge a partially discharged battery That is within 90 percent of full charge.
Boost is 14.4 volts to recharge a battery that is under 90 percent.
Storage is 13.2 volts to maintain a float voltage on a fully charged battery.
Equalize increases voltage to 14.4 volts every 21 hours for 15 minutes to keep the battery acid from stratifying and prevent battery sulfication.
All this happens automatically without demanding frequent visits. You should however still check the level occasionally.
I love it when a device actually saves me work.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy B-Day to Me

Well, it’s that time of year again. I have managed to keep breathing for yet another trip around the sun. Now I realize that my birthdays are usually cared about by only myself and selected members of my immediate family. OK, I admit that there are a few others like institutions that I owe money that would miss me. But this year was particularly educational.
Just in case you didn’t know let me let you in on some details. Birthdays are usually a cause for celebration by the very young. As you get older the parties get to be less and less of a production and attendance drops. When you get to the point where you are forced to admit to yourself that you are Old, note capitalization on purpose, the parties stop altogether. You might rate an e-card from relatives or close friends but that’s about it. But secretly inside you are saying, “Yeah, all right!! I just might get back what I stuffed into Social Security!” So you do a little dance around the living room and collapse into a wheezing, gasping, pile on the couch. You might work up to taking your significant other out for dinner but that’s about it.
This time was different. Just about the time I was busy congratulating myself for outliving a few more foes, the mail arrived. Among the regular heap of junk mail and bills there was one item addressed to me. Right there on the front of the envelope was this:

What a buzz-kill!! Well that just deflated the heck out of my balloon. Something like that can definitely yank you back to earth. I crept to the window to see if there were any long and low vehicles lurking in my driveway. Whew, nobody there!! So that envelope is definitely going to the shredder without being opened. I can get along quite nicely without the details.
Y’all excuse me. I am going out to my winterized trailer to watch some TV and wait for Summer. If you need me, you know where to find me!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Winter Thoughts

First of all you have to understand that I was 15 before I ever saw snow. Matter of fact I was that old before I ever saw ice that didn't come from the refrigerator. Yeah, I read about it in books but I also read about big white whales and dogs that could talk too. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, things like snow and mittens were just words that you had to learn how to spell. They had no reality or substance to them. In my world Winter was when you wore a jacket to school and forgot it when time to go home came around. Then you got the standard lecture about money growing on trees as your parents drove you back to school to get it. Yup, school and Winter kind of went together (yuck) like potatoes and beans. Summer was what we all lived for. Summer was freedom.

Now that I'm all growed up, Summer still means the same thing. The only difference is now I live a few hundred miles further north (still in the best state ever) and Winter brings at least one or two bouts of snow or ice. Today is an example. I am already kind of depressed because I had to winterize the trailer for the season. Also getting laid off just before the holiday season didn't exactly put me in a joyous frame of mind. And just look what I got now.

Ain't that a kick in the pants? Yeah, yeah... I know. All you yankees are squeezing in around a fireplace right now saying, "So what?? I see that every day". Well let me tell you that you mix this ice stuff and 100,000 Texans in pick ups and you got a menu for disaster. Right now out on the highways there is more color blending going on using fenders as paintbrushes than ever went on in any art school you could name. I've seen growm men commit truckicide. When I kick the dogs out to go potty, they look back at me like they were being punished. Have you ever seen a dog trying to walk on tip-toe?

Well I want Summer back. And I'm just gonna hold my breath and turn blue until it happens. Y'all come on down and take this stuff back on up North where it belongs now. Ya hear me?

That's it. Over and out. See ya...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's All About Perception

Looking back at previous posts I get a sense that my attitude may need adjusting. Sometimes I make announcements as if I received them in stone from a higher power and therefore they are true. In reality most of the time it is just my opinion and is just as likely to be wrong as the next guy. Hey if I was right all the time then I would not even be looking for work. I would be sitting on a beach somewhere counting my money that I made from all my incredibile investments.
In reality, I am tossing darts at the board same as everyone else. But at least they are MY darts. I am not letting some "financial planner" stick his hand in my wallet. Hey if they were all that good, they would be on the beach counting thier money. Even worse maybe thier name is Madoff.
Wow, this is really getting morbid. I think I will sign off until I feel a little more upbeat
Save me a seat on the bus.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Job Search Continues

There is no real news here. Just some thoughts.
I should have been a Mortician. Let's see them outsource that one!
The only jobs left in the U.S. are service jobs.
I am not impressed with the quality of the job search assistance firm I have been signed up with. The things they want me to do seem to be junior high level. You know, make lists of things you want in a career and check off the entries. Create lists of friends and contacts. Waste of time... By my age if you are undecided then it is way too late. I am in software. That is not a people person industry. You spend 99 percent of your time reading obscure manuals and wrinting and testing code. You only come to the surface to breath and announce victory over the problem.
I would be better off going through the paper and looking for what is really out there.
OK, I made an entry and have my endorphins...Bye

Yet Another Learning Experience

This is a re-post from a forum entry. Actually I am just too lazy to compose something new.

Got in a "one last trip" over Thanksgiving holiday. Learned some new things and re-learned some old ones. First we were without water or electricity and about a mile from the nearest human being so all the anti-generator nazis can just keep a lid on it.
1. All sorts of nasty things live in the woods. All of them would rather be in your RV with you.
2. Parking a Tow Vehicle between you and a cheap generator can make it as quiet as an expensive one.
3. Cheap generators break pretty easy.
4. A 5th wheel cannot make it for 2 days and one night on a single charge with one battery.
5. When the battery quits it will be between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning.
6. You will know when it quits because the C02 alarm will start sounding.
7. Trailers cool off a lot faster than they warm up.
8. Your Significant Other will somehow think it is your fault.
9. A 3500 Chevy Dually makes a poor substitute for a generator.
Added next day after bailing out to do some chores...A fun time was had by all. 2 grandkids, 2 dogs, 1 daughter, 1 DW ( Thank you Lord for only one of those). The rig is filthy, the TV is filthy, and I was beyond recognition. Somewhere in the East Texas Pines there is a bare spot where the grandkids scraped every living thing into a pile and moved the pile into the RV. Sand, Leaves, Trees, Critters (Dead or Alive) ... made no difference to them. They were all treasure. Now I gotta clean things up so we can go again BTW I had no idea you could dig that big of a hole and move that much dirt with a little bitty plastic dump truck...

While there we did some maintenance which involved cranking up the tractor, Gator, and 4wheeler. The DW took the Gator, The Granddaughter adopted the 4-wheeler, and the 3 year old Grandson fell in love with the tractor. I had no trouble finding them at any time.

Granddad got to play with the chainsaw.
See Ya Out There...

Monday, November 3, 2008


Looking back I see that I do a lot of whining about not posting more frequently.
I hereby resolve not to gripe or make excuses for not posting on a regular basis.
Only Doogie Houser ever did this kind of thing without missing a beat. And they had to pay him a whole crap pile of money for each episode.
Wait a minute... that is an idea. All I need to do is to find some "rich" fool...uhh..."well endowed philanthropist" to offer me a whole ton of money for each and every Saturday installment.
Hey, it could happen !!