Thursday, 31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015

The end of another year is in sight and it has been a very different year for me. Some things went according to plan but a lot of things didn't go quite as anticipated.

The year got off to it's usual relatively promising start with a decent run of work from my former employer. Portishead was ticking along quite nicely and I had the traditional maintenance visit to Urlay Nook, but come April everything dried up. 

By June, things were looking a little desperate and the money was about to run out, so I had to start looking at alternative options. Out of the blue, some agency work arrived on the scene and over a two month period, I enjoyed five weeks contract work at the BMI Werndale Hospital acting as site engineer. One positive that came out of this was the opportunity to get my name on the books for a bank job in Materials and this has been a rather fun and enjoyable stopgap. I have continued to work with a lovely bunch of folks and although it is hardly a full-time job, it has kept a few ackers rolling in on a regular basis, and I have managed to maintain friendships forged during my contract time there.

A few other options I looked at didn't materialise...the driving job for Boots, a self-employed engineering post with Photo-Me and working as a parcel courier didn't come to fruition but after two attempts, I did manage to find a part-time position as a Customer Advisor with B&Q.

Funnily enough, I rather enjoy B&Q. I know it's not exactly 'challenging' and it is only minimum wage, but it does keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. With the Festive Season push, the overtime has been plentiful and they have kept me gainfully employed. Rather a pity, then, that the powers that be intend to close down our branch at the end of April and give us all our marching orders.

Looking forwards, I guess I have another four months of earning potential there, but other bright spots are already appearing on the horizon. There is the sniff of a few weeks work in Singapore doing what I do best, and talks of maintenance work here in the UK.

I dare say I'll get through this year just as I managed to get through the last. The office is pretty much finished now, and the project for 2016 up at The Manor is to set up the wood and metal shops and to help facilitate the relocation of a Public Footpath that is causing some issues, and to help get the new extension on the Manor up and doing for Mrs E. That will also mean sorting out trackways and site infrastructure and although it has diverted attention from the Eco-Tipis plan, it may turn out to be a net benefit in the overall scheme of things.

We'll see how things pan out. In the meantime, thank you for following the trials and tribulations of Retrotecchie over the last 12 months, and I hope you continue to enjoy my musings in the year ahead.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful and prosperous 2016.


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Humbug Alleviated

Oh joy of joys. Christmas heralded the arrival of a new addition to the LEGO train set. A 60050 City Station, courtesy of the Hobbit. That took care of a couple of hours on Christmas morning and by tea time, the LEGO City Passenger train had two stops on it's oval of track.

I have the original 2011 series station, the 7937. The new one is bigger and in many ways better. The snack bar is pretty good, but it's the LEGO shop on the platform that really does it for me!

Friday, 4 December 2015

LEGO Musings

I'm bidding for more train-related bits on Ebay and I have two shipments from Bricklink (one from France and one from Finland) inbound.

I really need to get a decent ladder, clear out the attic and get the layouts set up. On my 'stuff to do' list, it ranks at #143!

Completely Off Track

Or, to be technically accurate, on track. Stepping sideways for a moment, one of my guilty pleasures is LEGO. Specifically LEGO trains. I have a huge collection spanning 50 years, from the late 60's to the present day.

Things have changed from the early primitive days to the very complex and expensive sets of today with vast amounts of detail and a huge number of parts.

Track systems have changed several times, from the early 4.5v and 12v blue tracks and white sleepers, via the later grey tracks and dark grey sleepers and the later 12v systems, to the 9v track system (similar to Hornby type tracks) to the current Power Functions dark bluish-grey all-in one moulded tracks.

Older blue and grey tracks are pretty much compatible with each other (they fit together and track geometry is the same) and the 9v and PF track is compatible for fit and geometry. Without a little 'hacking', the two types of system are incompatible with each other. A 4.5v 1960's train will happily run on 2010 track and vice versa because track pitch (gauge) is the same but that is as far as it goes. Battery trains will run on any kind of track, 12v trains need the centre conducting rails for their power, but 9v trains can only run on 9v track, which makes them the 'odd man out'.

When LEGO changed from the blue to grey rails, they created a slightly different mould for the tracks, allowing an 'intermediate' sleeper to be fitted mid section to create a far more rigid track construction less liable to give way under stress and derail a train.

Well, it seems the very old blue tracks can also benefit from the intermediate sleepers to a huge degree. The rails do have a central 'pip' underneath them which secures the additional sleeper at exactly the right place. In all my years of playing with the trains, I had never even considered this, but it is such a simple modification that I don't know why it never dawned on me to do it. Once I get all my old track back up from Surrey, I will indeed deploy this looks visually better too. I just need to buy about 500 2x8 white plates in order to be able to do it. No rush...another 50 years should see it done!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

More Tatting

Skirting fitted in loo.

Cladding of partition wall finished. A slightly worrying meter reading on the charge controller. We've had no sun for over a week so the batteries are getting a little low for comfort.

Access panel for 12V services. Just some final tidying up of the wiring needed.

Door and frame given it's final coat of gloss paint.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


That's about the size of it right now. Just a little tatting here and there to keep things ticking over and trying not to spend too much cash.

I'm putting a bit of cladding in the loo to finish off the walls, dabbing some gloss on the doorframe and door and just trying to finish off the odd jobs.

Some more skirting to go in here once all the cladding is finished and painted, and the seams to glue on the lino.

The loo is actually quite cosy and bright now, and the new 8.1W LED bulb is warmer and brighter than the old CFL. 

Some builder's caulk to finish the seam between the cladding and the side walls, and another coat of paint and the front wall is beginning to look acceptable now.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Finish Line In Sight

I did mean to do another update on Sunday, but what with one thing and another, I didn't get a round tuit.

Progress? I fitted the last of the skirting trim to the two sides and the office area is looking more tidy now. I have a few damp issues, but the dehumidifier is generating output and the carpet is waterproof and rot-proof so any dampness shouldn't cause a long term problem. I think it's the driving rain and wind that is pushing damp into the cracks and crevices and as soon as I get a few dry days, I need to finally caulk up any gaps and finish weather-sealing a couple of last small holes in the roof trim.

I have also replaced the 13W CFL in the kitchen with an 8W LED bulb. I wasn't expecting miracles but I have to admit I'm rather impressed. Firstly, it is a 'warm white' lamp so the light isn't as harsh and as blue as the GU10 LED spotlights in the office. Secondly, being LED and essentially a regulated DC system, the light doesn't suffer from voltage fluctuations at the end of the long line when using power tools or the kettle. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but it makes a difference.

To finish the otherwise bare window, I fitted a cheap B&Q Colours roller blind. Looks a lot more cosy now with the blind down. 

So a bit more weatherproofing to finish, dry out the box a little, finish a little trimming between the front wall and the sides, finish cladding the loo and then one last section of ceiling insulation to install and then that's most of the hard work done. I still need another fiddle with the phone line...I picked up my messages having rejigged the connections, and half an hour later the line was dead again!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Aaaarg! Colour Balance Issues

Grumble grumble grumble chunter...

Ok, some days I get lucky. Other days I'm not so lucky. Yesterday was a not so lucky day. I thought I had two different colours of carpet. The blue with red speckles out of the rooms on the ward from the hospital, and the turqoise carpet from the corridor. Turns out that the rooms had very slightly different carpets in them, One was a lighter blue with a more brownish speckling. So, not enough of any one colour/pattern to do the whole box. Never mind. It's not supposed to be a thing of beauty, but a practical solution to the drumming of the ply floor and to absorb a little of the echo-y sound, and to add a little insulation to the floor to keep the box a tad warmer. Both those ends achieved, so although the colour difference was a bit of a downer, not the end of the world.

The floor is covered, and that's all that really matters. To trim it in neatly round the edges (the carpet was originally just slashed witth a Stanley knife and peeled up in sections) I've painted the original phenolic board scuff boards the same colour as the walls and fitted the ex-hospital recycled MDF skirting, which actually looks rather nice and gives a better finish to the 'room'.

You can see in this photo the colour difference between the sections of carpet :o(

Part of the ethos of the conversion was to use as much recycled, repurposed or reclaimed material as possible, so I have recycled carpet and skirting board. That's one eco box ticked, at any rate.

I know I have spent a chunk of cash on some 'new' stuff, like the Recticell insulation, door, cladding, the kitchen and some of the electrics but the sink is reclaimed, the loo is made from recycled pallets, a lot of the timber was salvage from Portishead and most of the 12v dc equipment and a goodly chunk of the solar thermal and solar PV was repurposed or recycled from 'stuff I had to hand'. 

All in all, it's turning into quite a comfy office cum workshop, with loo and brewing facilities.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Getting There

Now I'm a wage slave again, finding time to fit in work down at the box is a little tricky, but I got here for the day on Sunday and B&Q phoned me up today to cancel my shift, so I squeezed in another day today.

I've thrown some cladding on the front wall. Not Homes and Gardens standard - it doesn't need to be - but enough to give me a solid wall over the Recticell insulation. A slap of the Sandtex to match the rest of the decor and job done.

I've also repurposed some of the ex-hospital carpet. Again, it doesn't need to be Axminster or Wilton standard, but it will insulate the floor a little and stop the box sounding so, er, 'boxy'.

Just a few more offcuts to fit in at the door end and some double sided tape to join the edges and it's a tidy job. I need a metal capping piece for where the carpet joins the vinyl by the loo, but that's another B&Q day to procure that.

I also have some nice skirting recycled from the hospital to trim in the side walls and cover the slightly ragged edges a little.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Front Wall Clad

I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the front wall of the office but in the end I just went with simple and easy to do. B&Q cheap interior cladding. Now whether I just leave it, paint it or stain it...that's another question.

Personally, I think it looks pretty reasonable as is. I may just leave it for now and worry about a final finish later on.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sometimes, Things Just...Fit

About time I caught up a bit. Work has been getting in the way but I managed to get over to the van today and get a bit more done. One of my new jobs is as a part-time sales assistant at B&Q. Whereas this will eventually confer the advantage of staff discount after a qualifying period, the biggest bonus for me right now is that I'm at B&Q regularly, so I can scoop up materials without having to make a special trip. Yesterday, I was putting tiles out on the shop floor from the warehouse and I noticed we had a new line of basic 'economy' white ceramic tiles. Square 150x150mm, pack of 44 for under a fiver. I was after 150 x150, or 147x147 to allow for a bead of grout, and they did a box of their own brand (Diall) for about £14 which I did have my eye on but was erm-ing and aah-ing over, so these looked like a veritable bargain. I'm not looking for Homes and Gardens quality...just a simple splashback for the kitchenette, so I grabbed a box plus a tub of tile cement/grout.

As the title of the post suggests, it couldn't have worked out better if I tried. 1.5m wide kitchenette so 10 tiles wide. Two rows makes 20. The worktop depth is 600mm, so four tiles long. Two rows makes 8 tiles. 

Leaving me 16 left over. Well, would you believe it...a 1.2m wide partition is another two rows of 8, or 16 tiles. Grand total...the 44 tiles in the pack. No cutting, no messing.

Good enough for me!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

More Pudgy News

The Friday before last, on my way home from the hospital, there was a bang and a clunk half a mile from home, followed by a loud barking noise from the front end. The catalytic converter had finally given up the fight and the outlet pipe had fallen away leaving my entire exhaust system hanging in the breeze.

To be fair, I'd had the crack in the pipe and the broken bracket pointed out to me at the MOT back in April, and I'd made a mental note to 'have a look' at some point, but you know how a plumber's tap always drips?

Anyway, over to the Manor on Saturday to get Pudgy up on ramps and attempt a repair. An hour and a half later, lower bracket solid again and the outlet pipe welded sufficiently that a small bead of Gun Gum would finish the repair. Solid as a solid thing, and back in action again.

Until Friday last, that was, when on the way to work and less than a mile from home, everything to the rear of the cat fell off...quite literally. The centre section had broken less than an inch from the clamp joint at the back box and was scraping along the ground. I tried to tie up the exhaust with wire to get me to work, but that lasted all of another half mile. I had no choice but to get underneath, slacken off all the clamps and remove the whole lot.

Pudgy got me to work, and home again, but fuel economy was shot (no back pressure) and the noise was incredibly loud (no silencer or expansion box).

A phone call to Kwik Fit in Aber on Saturday, and new centre section ordered for yesterday. Took him down for fettling and half an hour later he's his old quiet self. £119 all in, which was actually cheaper than exactly the same repair I had in January 2013. Cheers Phil!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Holy Cow!

I wish this was at the office...they seem to have tweaked my home broadband though!

Now, I know that followers in, shall we say, less remote areas or those with this new-fangled Fibre malarkey may think that 1.95Mbps is painfully slow, but let me tell you this. Fibre hasn't quite made it this far west yet, and when you are almost 3 miles from the exchange on ADSL with all overhead lines running pole to pole through trees and fields, this is as good as it's technically possible to get, and a vast improvement on the 0.5Mbps we have been used to!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

More Minor Progress

Not much to report as I've been working all last week.

Cabinet door handles procured and fitted and a pin-board up in the office. I also have the phone installed finally...I've multiplexed the phone and network down the same CAT5 cable from the Manor to the office. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Long Awaited Delivery

Ordered back in June, my delivery from B&Q arrived this week. Shiny new kitchen cabinet doors.

Worth the wait. They look superb!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

What's Doing?

I've not seen the office for a week. I've been working on an eco-build over at Llanafan.

I've never done dry-lining or ceilings before. I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Energy saving advice: Insulate, insulate, and then insulate some more. 

Floor poured. The whole downstairs has underfloor heating.

The entire roof space apart from the area over the balcony has been insulated to a depth of 300mm with lagging made from spun plastic milk bottles.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Getting Moving

Well, things are looking up. Great week down at the hospital and they were obviously pleased with me as they have offered me another two weeks work. This morning, my plans were rearranged a little as BT finally sent an engineer capable of addressing my unreliable broadband and crackly phone lines.

So, now I have faster, more stable broadband with much improved ping times and a phone line I can actually hear calls on above the 50Hz electric hum. Ok, so I no longer have three working extensions, but that's a job for slow time. The BT Master socket with built-in filters and separate DSL and phone is in the front room right next to the computer and is also fibre-ready for when Infinity lands in the village.

While the BT engineer was here, there was another knock at the door. My landlord is also a builder and he popped round to see if I was available for a bit of labouring work next week. Deep joy - my next three weeks gainfully employed. Unfortunately, that restricts my van time a little. Ah'll pay the bills.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Scaled-up Nightmares!

It's quite common in electronics. Either something goes wrong due to failure, or you make a hash of something on the bench and you are rewarded with fizzing and popping and the delicate smell of electrical smoke.

I've fried a few components in my time...blown the lids off a few IC's...shorted out the odd regulator...burned out tracks on a circuit board. I think about the worst thing for me was completely corpseing a cheap Chinese inverter and a fairly pricey power meter in the same session. £50 worth, tops.

Today I witnessed the 'release of the smoke-fairy' in full effect. The new job, see? I'm 'babysitting' a hospital in Carmarthenshire. I am temporary stand-in for the regular Engineering Technician who's been forced to take some leave - a case of use it or lose it.

So, there was me planning on several cups of coffee, changing a lightbulb here and there and helping out with some general reshuffling of a couple of offices. That and man the phone and pager waiting to attend to any engineering issues.

My first call of the day was the Operations Manager to say someone had yanked his phone cable out of the wall and broken the plug off the end. Fairly mundane for a man of my calibre. I swapped out his cable with one from a new phone, I can crimp on a new plug, and then swap the cables over again. Happy bunnies all round.

My second call of the day? A strange 'burning smell' coming from the MRI machine electronics rack. Yes, there was a bit of a whiff but to me it didn't smell of 'electricals'. More of a plastic, acrid sort of smell. Well, I wasn't sure what was up, but opened up all the racks and gave everything a good sniff. Nothing but the smell of warm electronics - a perfectly normal smell to my nose. We all decided it was a bit rank, but not as bad as when they called me, and I figured I'd just need to keep an eye on things and see how it went. My gut feeling was nothing untoward, and the smell was probably coming from the air-con unit.

Well, in a way it was the air-con to blame.

Half an hour later after restarting the machine, the pager went again. There was most definitely a smell going on, and not a good one at that. Slightly baffled, I re-sniffed all the racks, shrugged my shoulders, and scratched my head. Now, the reception area just outside the MRI suite was starting to smell, and my nose was finally connecting with my brain and telling me the smell was burning nylon, or at least a nylon-related plastic. Hard to tell with the aircon circulating chilled air, so I turned the aircon off for a few minutes. With no airflow, I then heard the sizzling sounds and smelled the smoke coming from an electronics module up near the ceiling space above the rack.

Not good! I dumped the main power and then ran up the aircon again to try and get rid of the acrid smell. Well, that sorted, the MRI pilot then called the emergency hotline for their engineers and organised a call-out. Obviously being a very expensive and very important bit of medical diagnostic equipment (and way over my technical level) having a specialist on call is an essential need.

Ok...shout me when there's any news, I told the MRI tech. 

A few minutes later, I am patrolling the beat and call in to see if there is any update on the engineer. She's on the phone to him at that point, and nodding and "uh-huh"-ing and "yes"-ing and "no"-ing so I wait for her to finish.

Yes, it's possibly the vacuum pump. Could be a power supply? Might be a cooling fan? He's on his way and shouldn't be long. In the meantime, can I possibly put the power back on again as, without the helium and cryogenics operating, the magnetic core of the beast might overheat somewhat catastrophically and very expensively.

Oops! Oh well...power restored to the chillers and disaster averted. So long as the machine proper isn't started up at the control console, then the offending 'fried part' won't be powered and continue to fry.

Live and learn, I say. Only, when I called in later, I was told the engineer had been...yes it was the vacuum pump and/or associated gubbins and yes, something had burned out. Some thing that isn't actually 'used' by the staff, but just happens to be sat there churning away to itself. The engineer had 'unplugged it' and the machine was back up and running again, minus the damaged but unused part. He'll be back out in two weeks to replace it. The unused part...that they don't use. Got me.

Anyway, after that, a loose toilet door handle and a flickering lightbulb were mere trifles!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Change Of Plans

Well, I'd planned to be doing more paid work over the last few months, but sadly this has not been the case. Times is getting a little tough, pennies-wise, but on the flip-side of that coin (almost down to the last one) I've had a lot of 'van time'.

For the next week, I'm working again! Less to blog about though.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Don't Ask...

It would appear that the Velleman VM110 isn't all it's cracked up to be. The calculated voltages are somewhat adrift from the measured voltages, which means that the temperatures recorded by my datalogger for the thermal system are a little adrift. Not the end of the world as I have the new DACIO card to go into the system shortly, but all the values recorded so far are just a little on the high side. That means on good days, the system hasn't been as spectacular as I originally thought, and on bad days, the output has been even lower.

With an error of about 0.2v at worst, this corresponds to an error of almost 19 Celcius on the logger. 10mV/K from the sensor, or 10mV per degree...divide that into 0.2v and there is the magnitude of the error. Not only, but also, the errors are worse at higher

I did struggle with the DACIO today. The unit has a PP3 battery snap as it's designed to run from a 9v battery. I 'mocked' up a battery using a spare snap and an old power supply I found sculling about, and although it worked seemingly ok, the analogue measurements were somewhat erratic to say the least. Turns out the power supply was actually a battery charger for a model car, and the smoothing and regulation electronics are all in the car. The PSU is simply a transformer/rectifier and was producing almost a volt of ripple on the DACIO chip. In turn, this was putting a small AC component on the Vref of the ADC's, so the values were reflecting this. A smoothing capacitor sorted the problem out nicely. As the final unit will be running from a steady regulated DC supply originating from the solar batteries, this won't be an issue in the real world.

The moral of the story is, don't expect accurate measurements when your measuring tools aren't up to snuff!

So DACIO tested, I'm happy with my coding, the temperatures should be far more accurate and all I need to do now is construct a decent prescaler to offset and gain the sensors. Lucky the pumping system works on pure differentials and not actual temperatures so the system itself hasn't been compromised by dodgy ADC's...just my measurements. Ho hum.

Oh, and I didn't get the job I interviewed for either. It's been one of those days...

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Shelving Upgrade

My temporary shelf that I threw in just to put the stereo somewhere has now been removed and some more permanent Spur and Conti shelving has taken it's place.

The purple cable coming from the facilities is the telemetry cable for the logger. You can just make out the VM110N board I'm currently using as my two-channel logger. The new DACIO has arrived so I just need to make up my prescaler board, write some new software and deploy the new version.

Whats New?

First roller coat on the main wall of the van.

Lagging on the solar thermal pipework.

Two more solar panels mounted on the front of the van (temporarily) to pull in some late evening sun power. Not best oriented for either tilt or direction, but they boost the batteries enough for the moment.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Ticking Along Nicely

Not much to add, other than I didn't get the logger running until gone 1.30pm. Now logging at 15 minute intervals and saving in CSV format. I've left it running and I'll have a decent plot come Tuesday.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Minor Tweaks

I've just finished tweaking the Datalogger. I changed the logging interval to 15 minutes regardless of time of day so that the graph is now completely linear.

I also changed the format of the logging file from column delimited text to CSV (Comma Separated Values) which just makes importing into a spreadsheet a little bit simpler.

I have been tinkering with a couple of op-amps to make a 'prescaler' for the temperature sensors. A voltage reference of about 2.6v-2.8v (adjustable) is subtracted from the Kelvin value voltages from the sensors to give an output that is closer to Celcius values. Gain of the differential amplifier is also set at x5 so 10-90 Celcius gives almost a full 5v swing to the input of the digitiser.

In order to get a better accuracy (smaller steps) I have also decided to invest in a different board to try as part of the Datalogger package. The new board is the Tronisoft DACIO 300. 8 Analogue inputs and two 8 bit digital IO ports, all connected to the computer via RS232. I have used this board before in another project so I'm comfortable with it.

The downside is that it needs a COM port, so I'll need to use a USB>RS232 dongle on the laptop. This slight disadvantage is more than made up for by the extra capability and resolution of the new board.

Possible expansion of the logger may include indoor and outdoor temperature sensors, monitoring of the solar panel and battery voltages and some other monitoring functions.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sun Glorious Sun

And Centigrade Glorious Centigrade! I left the logger on for 48 hours...the data was pretty impressive!

I perhaps need to tweak the maths or the sampling interval time in order to linearise the plot. Between 9am and 5pm, the sampling interval is ten minutes. Outside those hours, it's 20 minutes so there is a nonlinearity in the graph. Alternatively, I could interpolate the missing 10 minute intervals or discard alternate readings during the shorter sampling period.

This is what the graph looks like with the 10 minute intervals removed:

I think that does the job. I'm going to compromise and rewrite the logger so it just logs data at identical 15 minute intervals over the whole 24 hour period. It takes a little 'steppiness' out of the graph, too. Until I tweak the hardware, the accuracy of the temperature measurements is +/- 1 step on the digitiser which equates to roughly 1.9 Celcius. Closer tolerance and equal intervals will mean a more readable graph. Even so, as things stand, the performance of the system can be monitored. Even at almost midnight, the tank was holding up at around 42 Celcius. I really don't need hot water then, but it does show that from when the sun comes up, the system doesn't have to lift the water temperature from a very low starting point if there has been good input on a sunny day.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Disappointing July

I don't know...perhaps August may be better, but I would have expected July to produce some decent performance on the solar thermal. Having said that, I'm not at all disheartened because all I'm using the hot water for is washing up and handwash, and for the volume of water in the calorifier, I can't moan too much. Anything above 40C is good in my book, and temperatures on a variable day like today were pushing 60C. I really ought to leave the logger on long-term and see what the performance is like over a few days. Today in moderately overcast weather, the tank got hot enough for me.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

New Logger

Nothing much to report other than I have tidied up my logging app and made it look a bit more pretty.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Rain Stopped Play

The heavens really opened today. I got to the office just after 10 and although the morning had been rather bright up to that point, as I drove down to the Goat Field the clouds let rip with the most torrential rain I can recall for a long time.

Good news - the water tank started filling nicely.

Bad news - I found some leaks and rain was coming in heavily.

Good news - I think I managed to sort the leaks.

Bad news - data wasn't great today.

There was obviously some sun first thing as the tank temperature was up and the pump had obviously been running. With the VM110N modified to accept digital inputs as a 12v signal rather than a switch to ground, I can now monitor the pump control relay. Before I could do any logging, I made a few minor upgrades to the electrics.

The system simply did nothing at all between me getting the logger running just after noon and the rain drying up and the sun trying it's hardest at about 2.30 or so. Well past noon, so only at an angle to the panel, but managed to pump about 10C extra into the tank.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Real-World Logging

I couldn't have chosen a worse day! There was a lightning strike very close to the house up at The Manor yesterday, and it appears my router has gone on the fritz. As I'd emailed myself the software for the logger to download and install on the laptop, this was not an auspicious start to my day. By the time I'd switched over to the fallback internet connection and checked the van for electrical damage, the clouds had come over and the heavens opened. It was pushing 11am by this time and the panel had seen a little sun, but no action until gone 4pm. Rain for most of the day.

I have real data! It's just not very impressive-looking.

Tank temperature barely exceeded 40C, thanks to a bit of early morning sun and then hovered around the 29-31C mark for most of the day, picking up a little diffuse energy around 4.30pm when the sun had come out again...on the wrong end of the box!

What matters is the data though, not how fantastic it looks. The graph is what counts...the fact that the data is logged automatically and can generate the output required.