Lowe’s Online Shopping Example

I needed a quart of Tile Mastic. Amazon had only Gallons, which is way too much. Lowe’s had quarts, and they have a store in Roseburg Oregon. I live near Charleston Oregon.

The mastic cost about $8 and shipping was another $5, but local stores in the Coos Bay area don’t carry this as far as I can tell.

Well it’s taking a while to get it. Turns out that Lowe’s decided that the San Jose, California store could ship it to me. Not the Roseburg, Oregon store.

So here it goes:

I expect that it will be delivered tomorrow sometime after being driven all night tonight from Troutdale, through Roseburg and then to Coos Bay for delivery to Charleston.

I’m sure that Fedex shipping is very efficient. I’m sure their computers work long and hard to optimize shipping routes. It is odd that the truck does not stop somewhere along I-5 on the way from California to Portland [Troutdale is outside of Portland, Oregon]. But whatever.

It would seem that Lowe’s might spend a little more time optimizing their shipping. Their website tells me that I can pick up the item at the Lowe’s in Roseburg, but when Lowe’s ships it they ship it from San Jose, California.

I’m sure it will be fine when it arrives. Even with the unusual heat the Portland area is having right now. 115 degrees F yesterday in Portland.


Attic Access Solution

Currently my attic is accessed by removing two pieces of plywood above a doorway in the garage.

The plywood panels are held in with Drywall screws. This is a problem for several reasons:

  • There are two pieces of plywood rather than one. Easy fix. Just screw some small board or strips of plywood to the back to join the two pieces to make one “Door”.
  • The plywood “Door” is held on with drywall screws which are difficult to remove and replace and a pain to retrieve if you drop them.
  • There are no “Handles” on the plywood “Door”. That makes it more difficult than necessary to remove and replace the door.
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Rock’n Forward Into The ’90s

My house dates from the 1970’s, and the kitchen lighting fixtures apparently date from then too. They have LEDs, but there is lots of Spillover around the shades and with LEDs they are too bright. By spillover I mean that far away from the fixture you are looking directly at the bulb rather than through the shade. Notice the attempt to dim one of them by adding Trash Bag plastic to the shade. Not a good idea with Incandescent bulbs, but no problem with heat from LEDs. Anyway that was a failure. The spillover made that useless.

Time for an upgrade.

Wayfair had some nice ones for not a lot of money and free shipping.

WhooHoo… We are rock’n in the 90’s now. Ok So a Can Lighting upgrade was too much work. But these only have one bulb, which is right for using LEDs and they are attractive and spillover free.

I’m way happy.

LED Torchiere is Cool

I just got an LED Torchiere Floor Lamp from Wayfair.Wayfair Torchiere Floor Lamp Detail.png

Here it is where I’m using it. It’s probably hard to see in the clutter.

The top red circle is the top light aimed at the ceiling. The bottom red circle is the task light. I have a FLIR thermal camera and here are the temperatures for the two lights.

Task Light First. Back and Front.

And here is the top ceiling light. Back and front.

This is after running it for several hours on high. The power supply is a wall wart that supplied 24 volts at 1.5 amp for a maximum of 36 watts. Way down from the Halogen light I’m replacing that has a 300 watt ceiling directed light and a 50 watt task light.

I’ve been waiting for a couple of years and watching for an LED version of this light. For a long time only Halogen versions were available.

May you walk in the light of LEDs.

Home Ethernet Wiring

I’ve wired my house for Ethernet and Phone. But here let’s just talk about the Ethernet wiring. Here is my problem:

There are four places where I’ve wired Ethernet around the house to places where I use Ethernet switches to distribute to multiple devices. Three cables leave the house near the Router, and then each cable enters the house at a different place. Once near the computer where I’m sitting now. One to the back of the Entertainment system, and one in the back room where there are several more computers.

I’ve wired the house for 1GB Ethernet using Cat5 Cable. This was done several years ago. But for any new installation, using Cat6 for an eventual speed of 10GB would be best. Even if your present equipment is not capable of this, it’s much easier to change equipment than doing the wiring again.

Outside Wiring

Here’s what the cable runs look like around the house. I did not run using crawl space or attic. The back portion of my house is on slab and there is no attic there. So I needed to run things outside around the house.

The places where two cables are close together are phone wires, which are all on a continuous loop. I no longer use the phone loop, since I use wireless phones throughout the house with a base station and 3 satellite phones. I suggest not wiring any phone circuits, but only Ethernet. My phone lines are carried over the same type of wire as the Ethernet.

Notice that the cable is not noticeable when it has been painted. The large black pipe is a black water pipe that I split and screwed to the house to carry the cables so that I could easily change or add more if needed. This is probably not necessary if you are doing a single run. When I had my house painted a few years ago, I had them tape the black pipe so that it would not fill up with Paint and be a mess. When the tape came off, it looked very neat and tidy.

Remember that Ethernet is run with a single point to point wire for each remote connection. The wire entries to the house are sealed with Caulk to keep out moisture and insects.

Drilling through the House

I used a drill like this to drill through the house. Be careful and stay away from outlets so that you don’t drill through a power circuit.

I used a surface mount box and modular connectors once inside the house. But there are better tiny boxes now.

Running the Wire

Direct Burial cable is the best type to use. Gel in the cable keeps it dry when it is outside in the rain over the years. You can buy it increments of 100ft online for about $30 / 100ft. And they will ship it in one roll, so if you get 300ft, you get one roll, not three. No joints outside.

These tiny little boxes screw to the wall and you use a Punch Down tool to terminate the cable to the connector in the box, which just snaps shut after it’s screwed to the wall. You can buy these boxes with more then one connection in them if you need to.

Use the staple gun to staple the wire to the outside of the house up under the eaves or wherever it will be less visible. Be very careful not to puncture the cable with the staples. There are other screw on or nail type hangers for cable too. Those might be less of an issue in terms of accidents on the cable. You might price these tools / cable / boxes locally, but my guess it’s far cheaper to buy them online, even with shipping.

From the Wall Box to Your Computer

You’ll use some patch cords to go from the wall plug to the computer. And you can run the box to the wall near the computer desk/ TV or whatever you’re connecting. Patch cords come in any sizes you need, and putting them behind and under furniture is fine. But obviously you don’t want them running on the floor where you can trip or step on them. If you need two connections on opposite walls of a room, then you can run two cable lengths around the house. Or I guess it’s possible to run to inside the house, to a switch as below, then back out and around to the other wall and back inside. You’ll use patch cords and a two outlet box on the first connection to jumper the connection back outside around the house to the second connection. It is not possible to Daisy Chain Ethernet connections. Each “Y” requires a switch.

For connecting both a computer or two and a TV or other device to the cable, just use a switch like this. Make sure your switch is as fast as you want the connection to work. Computers on the same network are not limited by the speed of the router or internet connection but by the cable, interfaces in the devices and switches.

Switches come with various numbers of ports: 5, 8 and larger sizes and are reasonably priced, as you can see.

Pretty easy to wire your house for Ethernet and these connections are much more reliable than WiFi.

Well That’s Strange

A while ago I made some Fairy Light Globes. 100mm Glass Christmas ornament globes with a Fairy LED Light String in them. I display them in groups of three in two places in the house. Recently I touched the power supplies – Wall Wart supplies producing 3.5 Volts – and noticed that one of them was warmer. Odd. All the light strings were bought at the same time. I got out my FLIR thermal camera and this is what I found.

One of the globes is hotter then the others. Using a KillaWatt measuring device, I found that the warm globe is drawing 3 watts, and other others don’t draw enough to move the value from zero. So this is what is making the power supply for that globe warmer. I have swapped the power supplies and the globe – Fairly Light String actually – is different, not the power supply. Odd. I have no idea why.

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DesignSpark – Easy to Use CAD

DSM Shelves with Dimensionsxx.png

DesignSpark Mechanical is an Easy to Use CAD tool. I’ve done a few hours research over the past few days to figure out a quick to use FREE CAD tool that can be used to draw wood working projects and dimension them to produce drawings for building home projects.

As you may know from my site, I’m a long time user of 3D Art software including 3DSMax and Carrara. But these are expensive. Even Carrara costs more than $250.

I’ve looked at FreeCAD, Blender and a host of others. But the idea is to find something free that’s as easy to get going as possible and allows you to produce drawings with dimensions. There is no doubt that FreeCAD, and Blender can do this, but FreeCAD is quirky – at least for me – and Blender has a very high initial learning curve and no dimension tool built in. There may be plug-ins for that, but that is more learning curve.

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LED Lighting for Alienware Case?

I’m sick of not having lighting for my Alienware Area-51 and Alienware Aurora cases. They work part of the time but can’t be easily controlled. The lighting is Proprietary and out of date. Alienware and later DELL made no effort to support the lighting with Windows 10 or Linux. These are what the two cases look like with lighting on:

That is the Area 51 circa 2006 with blue lighting in the vents and Alien Heads on sides and front. The Front Alien head is the power button.

And that’s the Alien Aurora R2 in Blue and Red lighting. The Front Alien Head opens the access door for the media drives. The power button is a hidden button behind the head on the top of the case.

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Snifter Drying Rack

I need a rack to dry and store brandy snifters. So I made one. The snifters are 3″ in diameter with a 2.5″ base. I didn’t see anything like this online.

The project uses light weight plywood and a 1″ dowel 5″ long. Here is the plan for the top and the base. The top and base are 6″ square. I used a forstner bit to drill the holes and a scroll saw to cut out the slots.

Snifter Layout_1.png

Walnut stain, Poly varnish, and felt feet on the bottom complete the project.