Howto: Trim pegboard to exactly match a framed opening

I have this window in the wall I’m putting pegboard up on. Because of the holes, pegboard does let some air and light in, but I decided to cut out the window opening so that I could operate it.

You could carefully measure the opening, cut a big section out of your pegboard panel, and then install it. But, because this opening would make my pegboard panel into a giant “C” shape, it would make installing it by myself excessively difficult. (Also, you have to measure and cut very accurately.)

I found it much easier to just install the full panel and then cut out the opening. I’m using a trim router with a following bit. After I cut out along the top, I hung it up with wire so that the panel I was cutting out wouldn’t fall down later on.

And then I cut out the other two sides. The downside of this technique is of course the copious amounts of hardboard sawdust, which does require a shopvac to clean up.
And of course, depending upon how you install the pegboard your cutouts may go through a series of holes. But, the edges are very close to the edge of your framing members.

Garage Door Insulation – Part 2 (Reflectix radiant heat barrier)

After installing the R-8 fiberglass batt with white vinyl backing, my garage doors were relatively well insulated, but I decided to add a layer of reflectix as a radiant heat barrier.

In this situation, with one side facing the open air of the garage, it adds about a 3 to the R factor. I also like the aesthetics of the silver bubblewrap more than the white puffy vinyl.

Unfortunately, unlike the Dow Corning fiberglass batt which is designed for garage doors and comes pre-cut at the factory to the correct height, I had to measure and cut the reflectix down from a 24 inch roll.

If you don’t have support bars, it’s relatively easy to install. Just make a few cuts to go around the upright bars and tuck the top and bottom inside the lips of the door panels. I was going to move the white plastic clips that hold the fiberglass in to outside the reflectix, but so far, a pure friction fit is holding it just fine.

The panels with support bars require more work. I guess it would be possible to remove the support bars and then re-install them on top of the reflectix, but I chose to measure and mark each bar location by cutting the edge of the reflectix, then taking it down and cutting the proper length. I installed the reflectix panel under the horizontal support bar, and made sure that the top lined up just under the height of the panel. Then I notched around the vertical bars so that I could get the top in place.

So far, they all stay in place with nothing more than a friction fit. The bottom panels that don’t have a horizontal support bar holding the reflectix bow the most when overhead and may pose a problem as they age, but if I run into issues, I’ll just take the plastic clips that hold the fiberglass on and move them to the outside of the reflectix to help hold it in place as well.

Next, I’m going to cut aluminum faced polyiso foam insulation for the spaces around the windows in the top panels.

Garage Door Insulation – Part 1 (Fiberglass door insulation)

 

My two car garage has four single wide doors. Two in the front, and two in the back, and they had no insulation. If you ever buy a new garage door, pay extra to get the insulated panels, otherwise, somebody may have to retrofit insulation later on.

I used 3 kits from Owens Corning that comes with R-8 fiberglass bat and plastic mounting clips. Because I’m only using it on the windowless bottom 3/4 of each door, I was able to  use 3 kits to insulate all 4 doors. I’ll be doing something different around the windows.

 

The other option is an R 4.8 Faced Polystyrene foam board kit, which is $20 cheaper per kit, but doesn’t offer as much insulation value, and would have required that I remove some support bars to install. Plus I hate cutting polystyrene as the beads get everywhere.

In addition to a pair of medium gloves, each kit came with two extra pieces of foam tape, 2 pairs of plastic clips, and a piece of vinyl repair tape.

I used acetone to remove the paint where I was going to be putting the foam stickers to mount the back half of the clips. I put up 12 foam squares at a time, and then put up 12 clips. You want to roughly center them in the openings. Where there were support bars, I centered into the remaining opening.

Then it’s just a matter of measuring each opening, and cutting your fiberglass batt’s about 1″ wider. The height comes pre-cut from the factory for standard garage door panels.

The kit includes a pair of medium plastic gloves, and you’ll also want a long sleeve shirt when handling the fiberglass. Then you just push the batt into the opening. After you are happy with how it is centered, you push down to find the end of the plastic clip, cut a small X in the vinyl with a razer knife, and push a mating clip onto it. The finished door is nice and white and puffy.

 

So far, friction and the plastic clips have held in all the fiberglass batts just fine. I’m probably going to be adding a layer of reflextix as a radiant barrier over the top of the  fiberglass. [I also plan on using foam insulation around the windows.]

There is a definite temperature difference between the insulated and non-insulated (top window) panels. Outside in the shade, the insulated panels were 99 degrees, and the uninsulated panels were 95 degrees, as they were being cooled more by the inside of my garage. (A bad thing…) Inside, the uninsulated panels were 94 degrees (a one degree difference from the outside) while the insulated panels were 88 degrees (an 11 degree difference).

Next up, wall and attic insulation.

Denford Micromill 2000 January 2003 dispatch date – SGR location

Cliff Burger is part of a makerspace ( http://www.tcmakerspace.com ) which had a Denford Micromill 2000 (January 2003 dispatch date) donated to them. When referring to my four part series( 1, 2, 3, 4)  about how I got mine working under CNC control, they noticed a few differences with their model and wanted to share that information.

Instead of having a custom made relay & power board, their mill has it’s relays mounted to a DIN rail (bottom left of the case in the image below).  The spindle go relay (SGR) is located in the 2nd from the right position.

A quote from Cliff:

On the DIN rail, the spindle activation relay is the second one in from the right. It’s a 12v relay with the ground for the coil being controlled by the C6 pin. However, currently the relay never sees a 12V signal either. Not sure if it’s something wrong with my board or it’s waiting for another command signal before it sends the 12V out as well. Either way, I’ll likely just get a 5V relay and switch it right off the BOB, but for the time being I’ve moved the orange wire from the “14” position to the “12” position to supply power to the board at all times.

 

Cliff also sent along his mach3 config file, which you can download here (note, you will have to remove the .txt extension from the file to use it.)   Denford.xml.txt

He has the following caveats:

Things to note about the mach3 config:
1) My limit switch are on different pin numbers due to me chopping 1 wire a bit shorter than I should have (oops!).
2) default units are in inches so the steps per INCH are correct, but may need slight tweaking for each application.
3) backlash settings will need to be measured for each mill, or disabled.
4) I’m running a UC100 UBS adapter board so Mach3 may give an error message the first time you open it with this config file.

How I powered my fridge through a multi-day outage from an electric vehicle

When hurricane Irma threatened Florida, I was not worried about the food in my fridge going bad or scrambling to buy ice, because I had an inverter in my garage hooked up to a 12 volt battery made up of two golf cart batteries. With new batteries, this setup would provide around 2 kWh of backup power, although I’m currently using 4 year old batteries that had previously seen 400 cycles of use in an electric vehicle, so the actual performance is closer to 0.6 kWh (600 Watt/Hours).

Our energy star fridge/freezer draws around 240 watts of power when running the compressor, although the average energy draw is lower as the compressor shuts off once it reaches temperature. So the golf cart batteries alone would be enough to power my fridge for 2.5 hours of continuous cooling, or 5-8 hours of typical usage assuming the fridge wasn’t having to work super hard to cool things off.

When Irma hit, we lost power at 1am on Monday were without power until 5pm on Wednesday, or around 64 hours. However, I only ran my backup system for 31 of those 64 hours. I first hooked the system up around 1pm on Monday, and ran it until 10pm. I shut it down overnight when I was sleeping and ran it around 11 hours each on Tuesday and Wednesday during the day. My fridge was easily able to keep things frozen/cold overnight and “catch up” during the days (I had loaded the freezer up with a lot of frozen water, and the fridge with a lot of chilled water well before our outage occurred).

Over the 31 hours I ran the system, we averaged 190 watts of draw per hour (or 5890 watt / hours or 5.89 kWh total), which is significantly larger than the 0.6 kWh the golf cart batteries could provide alone. This draw was primarily from our fridge, although we also used 20-50 watts of power to keep our DSL wifi-router running and charge personal electronics, as well as running the power hungry microwave for a few minutes at a time.

To augment the stored power in the golf cart batteries, I wired them in parallel with the 12 volt accessory battery on my electric truck (which has a 20-22 kWh battery pack). By leaving the ignition of my truck turned on, I enabled my 500 watt DC2DC converter which continuously charges the 12v accessory pack from the main (LiIon) battery pack. Because the 500 watt DC2DC converter was providing well more than the 190 watt average draw, the system worked well.

The golf cart batteries acted as a “buffer”, providing extra power to the (2000 watt) inverter if needed. [For example, when I used our 1300 watt microwave to heat up food for 5 minutes here and there.] And the golf cart batteries were topped up by the 12 volt system on the truck, ultimately powered by the main traction pack.

One big advantage is that the system is nearly silent, generating only a slight hum from a fan in the inverter that becomes inaudible as you walk away from it.  It also has no danger of producing deadly carbon monoxide, which has already killed several people in Orlando due to mis-using gas burning generators.

It took 8.34 kWh to recharge my truck after the outage was over, so my overall system efficiency (power provided / power required to re-charge) is 70%, which isn’t bad considering the parasitic losses from keeping all of the truck’s systems active, the losses from the DC2DC converter going from 120v DC to 12 vDC, and the inverter going from 12v DC to 120 v AC, heat losses, etc.

So it looks like I could easily ride out a 5-6 day power outage before needing to find a generator or EVSE to re-charge the truck (And we haven’t even tapped the Leaf’s battery pack yet….there are commercial offerings for that.).  One advantage of having your battery pack inside a vehicle is that you can drive it elsewhere to recharge. An EVSE located two miles away from me had power starting on Tuesday, so I wasn’t worried about being able to recharge my truck…

Disassembly and reassembly of my workbench

When I built a workbench out of plywood and 2×4’s  I designed it to unscrew so that I could move it out of the rental and into our next home.  It took a few hours and a lot of unscrewing, but I was able to transport it to the new house in a single load.

 

Re-assembly was much faster than the initial build as most of the screw holes lined up perfectly, although I did swap the position of two of the plywood side sheathing pieces based upon where it was going to be put up against a wall. I also chopped off the upper shelf overhang on the left side, and chopped a few inches off the height of the top shelf to accommodate the lower ceilings.

 
You can watch the video of the re-assembly process here:

Rolling Milk Crate organizer

I have a large number of these milk crates for storage. Although they stack well, it makes getting things out of the bottom of the stack unnecessarily complicated, and it also takes a lot of time to move the stack. I put a furniture moving dolly under the stack, which made it extra unsteady.

So I built this rolling organizer that lets me access any crate, move the stack around, and has some extra pegboard for hanging items. The final height rolls just under standard height garage doors.

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Which toilet cleaner to use?

The local dollar general sells toilet cleaners with 3 different active ingredients. From right to left:

  1. 9.5% Hydrocloric Acid (Lysol POWER)
  2. 1.2% Hydrogen Peroxide (Lysol with HydrOgen perOxide)
  3. 2.4% Sodium Hypoclorite (Clorox Clinging Bleach Gel)

 

We get our water from a well, and it has enough iron in it that we build up rust deposits in the toilet, so that is the primary cleaning challenge. I didn’t clean the toilet for a month to make things stand out in photos better (“No Dear, I can’t clean the toilet because of SCIENCE!”) And then I gave each product a chance on 1/3 of the bowel. (NOTE: I was sure to rinse one product out of the bowl before testing a different one to avoid bad interactions! Both the hydrogen peroxide and acid specifically warn you to NOT mix with any type of bleach. I also ran the bathroom fan continuously and stayed well away from the room while letting them sit.)

Before cleaning

Presented in order of their effectiveness:
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30 second delays in internet on AT&T U-verse 5268AC FXN modem

My wife and I were running into inexplicable “delays” in our AT&T internet service over WiFi. The speed of the internet would be fine when it worked (speedtests showed good lag/upload/download, etc…) but sometimes the entire internet would “pause” and not respond for 20-30 seconds at a time. Usually not enough time for a connection to time out, but websites would be stuck loading for a long time, or Google Web Apps wold have a “loading….” message for half a minute before recovering (or failing to recover, making us try again with an edit to a document or calendar item…).

After much gnashing of teeth, network profiling, and dark vodoo, we traced the problem down to our devices auto-switching between the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz wifi networks from the router [a Pace DSL modem Model 5268AC FXN ].  The problems happened most frequently when we had about 50% wifi signal strength to the 5G radio, and apparently our devices would see the stronger signal strength on the 2.4 router and switch over to it, then decide to switch back, and so forth.

The root cause of the problem is that the AT&T Uverse DSL gateway / wifi router has both networks with the same SSID (Name) and password, so our devices felt that they were “the same” network, just on different frequencies, and would switch between them frequently.  I have no idea why this would cause a delay of TCP/IP traffic, as a change in the physical/data link layer shouldn’t affect the Network/Transport layers (at least, not for 30 seconds).  Perhaps when using a different brand/model of Wifi Router devices can auto-switch between 2.4 and 5g seamlessly. ( Or perhaps not, our previous cable modem from Spectrum / BrightHouse named the two networks differently (with a 2 and 5 suffix) so that once you connected to a particular network frequency, you stuck with it, but at least we didn’t see this type of issue. )

In any case, the solution was simple. For testing purposes, we fixed the BSSID (mac address of the router) in our client devices to the 2.4 Ghz network, so it would not switch to the 5 Ghz radio. This fixed the problem.  Renaming the 5 Ghz network name to something different from the 2.4 Ghz network on the router would also have the same effect for all devices (for example, using myNetwork2.4 and myNetwork5 as the names).

Dual hose portable AC window adapter & Whynter ARC-14SH review

I found a good deal on a used Whynter ARC-14SH dual hose portable air conditioner and have installed it in the storage room off my garage. If I leave the door open it can help cool the rest of the garage, or if I close the door, it can condition the air in just the storage room quite easily.

I wanted something a little more permanent and secure than the included plastic window adapter kit, so I cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood to fit inside some convenient pre-existing slots in my single hung window, attached the hose end-plates to it and painted it with exterior paint.  The board fits into the window just inside the existing screen, so I don’t have to worry about bugs getting into the inside of my AC unit. Here is a video montage of building the window adapter.

 

I was considering a window mount unit, but this portable unit gives me the flexibility to mount it inside the garage later (venting out the ceiling to the Fascia) or wheel it into the house to use to cool a single room if the main AC goes out.  Obviously, having outside and hot exhaust air cycle through two hoses inside the conditioned space is slightly less efficient than a window unit, but it’s much better than a single hose portable AC unit, which will cause outside air to slip into your building as it exhausts it’s waste heated air. It also presents a cleaner look on the outside of the window. (It does take up more floor space inside the room however….)

The EER rating for this unit is 11.2 according to the Home Depot website.  A comparably priced 14,000 BTU Energy Star window air conditioner from GE has an EER rating of 11.8, so from an efficiency standpoint the portable dual hose model isn’t terrible.

The unit draws a maximum of 10.5 amps, and appears to hover around 1050 watts when the compressor is running and 45-65 watts to just run the fan, depending upon what speed the fan is set to. I usually leave the fan on low if only cooling the storage room, and turn it to high when cooling the rest of the garage. The compressor is at least as noisy as the fan in “high” mode, so don’t expect “low” mode to be quiet AND condition the air at the same time, although you can run the unit in “fan only” mode if you just want to circulate air.  The unit is a bit noisy (56 dBA). This is not bad for a workshop, but could be an issue in a bedroom or media room. (In comparison, a nice mini-split ductless AC unit usually runs closer to 34 dbA.)

In AC mode it uses the collected water to evaporatively cool the hot side, and exhausts the humidity with the rejected heat, so in my experiance doesn’t need to be otherwise drained. (This hot moist exhaust air is another good reason to paint the entire adapter board with exterior paint.)

If you run it in “dehumidifier” mode (where it attempts to remove water vapor without putting too much energy into cooling) you are supposed to vet the exhaust air back into your conditioned space to prevent “cooling” from happening. (Living in Florida, this probably isn’t an issue for me….). But, you also need to remove the collected water. Because this is primarily an AC unit, it doesn’t have a large water reservoir, so to use it effectively as a dehumidifier, you will NEED to rig up a permanent drain hose of some type. And, because the drain is located about 2″ above the floor, you may need a pump system unless have have a conveniently located floor drain nearby.  I haven’t tested the heating mode, but according to the manual it has one that will work with outside air down to 45 °F. It also has some timer modes to turn on or off after a set number of hours which I also haven’t used yet.