Jayco X213 Solar Installation

A lot of the Sate and National park campgrounds we visit to do not have full-hookups or RV sites.  To counter this I wanted to make our camper a little more capable of boondocking  or dry camping.  The first upgrade that one can do is install some solar panels to keep the lights on, heater running and the water pumping. So I set out and did some research as to what others had done and how they had done it.  I settled on a Renogy 200W Monocrystalline Solar system to start with and can upgrade it trivially up to 400W with the addition of two more solar panels – which should still fit on my roof when done.

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Jayco X213 Pet Screen

Having a dog often results in a torn screen on the screen door of our camper.  So we looked around for different solutions to prevent this.  We wanted something that looked good and still allowed airflow.  We considered a sheet of Lexan, but this prevents airflow.  After searching around we found several companies selling screens that can screw on the door to protect them like this Camco Screen Door Grille or this slightly less expensive Camco Aluminum Screen Door Grille.  These solutions were expensive ($30-60) and really don’t look that great.  We also considered taking a $10 piece of metal expanded sheet and making a frame for that to screw or mount onto the door.  On our way to Home Depot to pick up the materials, we stopped at our local transfer station and found a damaged Safety 1st Bamboo Gate.  It had a nice bamboo frame and a light plastic grate.   It also happened to be the perfect size to fit on the door.

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Jayco X213 Bunk Ladder

I recently purchased a 2015 Jayco Jayfeather X213 Camper.  This trailer has the prefect sleeping configuration for our family with a King Size slide-out and 2 Bunks.  This allows us to setup and not have to break-down the table or convert a sofa for sleeping quarters for our two children every night.  The two bunks are nice but getting into them without assistance can be difficult for a child and downright impossible for an adult.  To remedy this situation I looked into several commercially available ladder solutions such as the following:

Stromberg Carlson (LA-460-B) Black 60″ Bunk Ladder

But at nearly $60.00 and made of ugly metal that didn’t match the interior of the camper I passed.  In addition this ladder was wider than it needed to be and needed to be fastened into one location.  I found several other options while searching the internet but none fit the bill so I sketched out what I wanted on paper and came up with the following requirements: Read more

Makerbot Thing-O-Matic Cura Profile

I lieu of the nearly constant inexpliciple crashes I have been encountering with Slic3r I decided to try and get Cura working with my now (Ancient) Makerbot Thing-O-Matic running Sailfish. It wasn’t really terribly hard to get into Cura after the legwork with Slic3r was done. I just needed to slightly correct the Gcode coming out of cure before it was fed into the GPX post-processor to generate X3G for the printer.

My basic slicing profile can be found here: Cura Thing-O-Matic Profile

In addition to this profile I made a slight tweak to the previous post-processor script I had written for Slic3r. This removes the CURA_PROFILE_STRING from the end of the code since it causes a buffer overflow in gpx. In addition it maps over the bed temperature and tool temperature settings over to compatible settings for my Thing-O-Matic. Note: This is for running Cura/GPX on a Mac.

#!/bin/bash -f

pp_path=`dirname "$0"`
export pp_path

egrep -v "M127|M126|;CURA_PROFILE_STRING" "$1" | sed 's/M109 S/M104 T0 S/g' | sed 's/M190 /M109 /g' > "$1.tmp"
# rm $1
mv "$1" "$1.orig"
mv "$1.tmp" "$1"

"$pp_path/gpx" "$1"

exit 0

It’s amazing this thing is still running strong after 5 years of abuse.

Slow/Weak burner on Gas Stove

I was recently plagued by a slow/weak burner on my otherwise fine Gas stove.  This unit has sealed gas burners that are near impossible to remove.  The most common cause of a weak gas burner is a plugged orifice where the gas enters the burner.  This can be caused by a severe boil-over, cleaners or other gunk getting into the burners.  The end result is the burner won’t start or has a very weak flame.

 
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An Apple users review of SurfacePro 3

Aside from a mouse and keyboard or XBOX 360 console game this is the first Microsoft product I have purchased in around 6 years.  I switched to Apple products after spending over $2500 on a high-end Intel Xeon powered quad core HP workstation which was running Windows Vista and having it burn up on me after two weeks of use.  Not only that but the windows Vista transition from XP was painful and the constant dialogs that would pop up destroyed my workflow.  Based on the learning curve alone and the quality of even high-end hardware I sent back the HP machine and purchased a Mac Pro Desktop instead.  I have been an Apple fan ever sense.

Apple products usually “just work” out of the box.  Sure there was an initial learning curve and there weren’t a ton of games.  For some reason OS X is seen as as a second tier by game vendors still, mainly for how it chose to support graphics.  This article isn’t about Apple products though it’s about the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and it’s only fair to let you know where I’m coming from.  The Surface Pro 3 I am using was purchased from Costco as a package with the click keyboard and stylus.  It’s a mid tier model with the following Specs:

  • Core i5 4300U CPU
  • Intel HD4400 Graphics
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 128 GB Internal Flash
  • Click Keyboard
  • Stylus
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • MicroSD, USB 3.0 and MicroDisplay ports
  • Docking/Charging port

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Danby Kegerator two draught faucet upgrade

Draught Tower Upgrade

I have a Danby DKC14SLDB 5.2 cubic Foot Single Draught Kegerator  I purchased several years ago.  Several times a year I find myself with two pony kegs of homebrew I want on tap.  Only having a single draught faucet was really cramping my style.  I decided instead of purchasing a whole new tower with two faucets ($90)  or an adapter ($70), which would have required the additional faucet anyhow, I would make it work on the cheap.  I set out by purchasing the following  items form Beveragefactory.com (note I have been home brewing for a long time and as such I have some old Coca-Cola pin-lock kegs that I normally use – please purchase whatever keg coupling is appropriate for your application): Read more

Autodesk Fusion 360 CAM Post-processor for ShapeOKO

I recently started playing around with Autodesk’s Fusion 360 3D modeling and CAM software.  I managed to fumble my way through making some quick designs and setting up a simple cam job to make a tool holder.  Designing the part was quick and so was setting up the CAM operation.  However when exporting the G-Code through the grbl post-processor I discovered the G-code was using G28 (return to home) which isn’t supported in a stock ShapeOKO 2.  Limit switches would need to be installed for this to work and for it to be turned on in grbl.  The default startup G-Code using the grbl post processor looks like this:

%
(1)
(T4  D=6.35 CR=0 - ZMIN=-19.525 - flat end mill)
G90 G94
G17
G21
G28 G91 Z0
G90

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ShapeOKO 2 Grbl 0.9G Upgrade

I was cutting on my ShapeOKO 2 last weekend and having major issues with missing steps on the Z.  During fast retracts the Z would just hum resulting in passes where the tool wouldn’t clear the work resulting in more or less catastrophic failure.  Either the work piece was damaged or the bit from trying to be forced through way more material it should be before I hit the e-stop.  After some research I came to the conclusion that the stepping was the culprit.  The steppers are configured correctly, wired correctly and moving as freely as possible but the controller would step at a rate that was causing issues on the Z.

After a little research I found that there was an update to GRBL version 0.9G that in addition to having a better acceleration planner the maximum feed rates could be configured per-axis.  This is a pretty big deal because in 0.8C all the axis are limited by your slowest axis – which is the Z.  Because of this cutting speeds are severely limited on the axis that one spends most of the time cutting on.

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