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BLOGical Thoughts Archive

February 2017

Monday, 27 February, 2017

18650 batteries are unique, as there are probably more of them in the world than AA and AAA batteries combined. This is so because 18650 lithium ion batteries are the hidden power behind all kinds of equipment, from cordless power tools to Tesla automobiles.

I am interested in these batteries because they are very good batteries and because I want to build my own power bank using some of them. With that in mind, I collected 24 of the batteries by collecting old laptop computer power packs and tearing those packs apart.

I also sent out an email to the North Idaho Linux Users Group mailing list. That request was answered last Saturday when I attended the NILUG technical session at the F1 for Help store in Rathdrum. Joe of F1 for Help dumped a couple dozen power packs on me, and I spent all day Sunday tearing them apart for the batteries.

When I had finished, I ended up with the following:

Of those batteries, the 12 NiMH batteries were dead. 2 of the 18650 batteries were dead and 22 more were in questionable shape. That left me with 97 good lithium batteries, including the 24 I already had. At 2,100 milliamp hours and 3.7 volts each, that's a lot of power and way overkill for my project. I will have to think up more projects.

If you are wondering where they got the weird numbers for the battery names, it isn't weird. An 18650 battery is 18 mm in diameter and 65 mm long. That makes a 17500 17 mm in diameter and 50 mm in length.


Quote of the day:

Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself.
     Harrison Ford

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Thursday, 23 February, 2017

I managed to get my car stuck in a slight depression in the ice in front of the house last Saturday. I came home from grocery shopping and parked there to make it easy to put the groceries in the house. It took me until yesterday to get out of the hole. I will be plenty happy when the ice melts...


I have constructed a frequency counter from a kit I purchased from eBay. The only source I have of a signal to count was the 1 kHz signal on my oscilloscope. I tried it and could not get the counter to count it. I finally figured out that the signal had to be at least 5 volts and the oscope signal was only 3.3 volts.

So I went over to my friend Frank's house. Frank is a retired electronics-oriented guy who is building a beautiful shop for his ham equipment. He has a function generator with amplitude control and we used it to feed square waves of 5 volt amplitude and various frequencies to my new counter. It worked great, even up to 50 mHz. I guess I will have to build a pre-amp for the thing, so it can count waveforms with less than 5 volt amplitudes.


That 64 GB thumb drive I talked about is crap. Don't even think of buying one. It stores files just fine, if you don't mind missing bits here and there. Of all the files I stored on the drive, not a single file was useable - not even text files.


Quote of the day:

Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have 50 million dollars, but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million.
     Arnold Schwarzenegger

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Friday, 17 February, 2017

I started having problems with the oscilloscope I built. The built-in signal source stopped producing its 1 Khz square wave. I figured I had hosed up the device somehow. I finally changed out its 9 volt battery and everything was working again.

This incident led me to believe I shouldn't be powering a piece of test equipment with a battery. So I looked around the house and found two 9 volt wall warts I could use as a power supply for the scope. I tried the one from Radio Shack that could supply up to 200 milliamps, and there was a lot of line noise showing up in the display. So I tried the 100 milliamp supply and eveything worked just fine. I will now use the plug-in power supply instead of a cheap 9 volt battery as the scope's power source.

I still have 5 electronics gadgets on order from eBay's China sources. One item I ordered on the 12th that I thought would take forever to get here came on the 15th. Turns out that those 64GB thumb drives ($7.99!) were sent from Texas instead of China. Good deal for me.


There has been snow on the roof of my garage since November of last year. At one point, there was about 3 feet of it, but the warmer weather and rain has compressed it. The snow finally started to let loose on Thursday. This morning, it really started sliding, and now it is pretty much gone. I took this picture about 1/2 hour before there was no snow on the roof.

Now, if the ice rink in front of my house and up our private road to the county road would melt, I'd be a happy camper.


Quote of the day:

As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind: every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.
     John Glenn

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

I am still struggling against the snow here. The soft stuff I hadn't plowed has turned to ice and I can't plow that. So I went to Conmat and got a truck load of 3/4 minus gravel. I spent Monday morning shoveling gravel on our private road. I still have some spots in front of the house to do, but the gravel makes a big difference. Some of my neighbors may actually be able to drive up to the county road now. Me, too - in my Honda.


I helped a lady from our car club create a mailing list for our next Vintage Trailer Rally. I did this in gmail, then exported the list. Last night, I imported the list to her computer so she could use it to inform everyone about the rally. She sent an email using the list and it only had nine addresses where the email could not be delivered. That's not bad for a list of maybe 60 people who are not tech-saavy.


You may be familar with the following acronym:

PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

Here's a new acronym which can be applied to many, many politicians:

PEBMAB: Problem Exists Between Mouth And Brain

Quote of the day:

I'm not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. Dammit, I'm a billionaire.
     Howard Hughes

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Friday, 10 February, 2017

I started my jury duty on the 8th. First up was a domestic violence case. I was not selected for that case, as I know the defendent as a casual acquaintance. I was selected for a case on Thursday - another domestic violence case. It was supposed to end on Thursday, but it continues today.


When I use the Thunderbird email client to get my email, I never have any problems. Until now, that is. For 2 of the email addresses that the client reads, I am getting a security exception. The dialog states that I need to accept a security certificate for those two sites. The security certificate it self has no useful information. I suspect that this is an attempt to co-opt these two email addresses by some nasty Internet villian. Update: I found out from my web host that they changed their certificates and this was the result, so I am adding the new security exceptions.


Quote of the day:

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.
     Isaac Asimov

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Monday, 7 February, 2017

There is way too much snow on the roof of my house and garage. I need to remove it, but vertigo prevents me from getting up there and doing it myself. With that in mind, I went down to Coeur d'Alene on Sunday to try to buy a roof rake. No one has any. Home Depot said they would not be getting anymore in, as it is 'the wrong time of year to order them.' Since we are due for even more snow than the 16" we got over the weekend, that is an especially stupid attitude to take, and the clerk who told me that agreed with me. That attitude is why I can't buy short-sleeved shirts in winter. Anyway, I ordered one from Amazon on Monday and it should be here by Tuesday.

I may not have time to use the rake, as I start jury duty on Tuesday. Ain't winter wonderful?


I also finally broke the Lexan blade on my snow plow on Saturday. About 3/4 of the blade is still there, but I need to replace that. I have two local businesses I can try to get it: a glass shop and a plastic sheet place over in Spokane. The Lexan is 80" x 24" x .118" and should be easy to obtain. Maybe not around here, though.


Quote of the day:

The Super Bowl [is] America's annual celebration of brain trauma.
     Mike Masnick
     techdirt.com

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother

Friday, 3 February, 2017

I am trying to get organized so I can do some electronic stuff - kit assemblies, breadboarding circuits, etc. The things I purchased on eBay for this pursuit are slowly coming in, as you can tell from my last posting. I have six more items coming in the mail and some of them will take their own sweet time getting here, since they were mailed from China.


I have done a bunch of stuff for our Vintage Trailer Rally this week. I scanned in the flyer and sent it to the show organizer. I did new business cards for the club. I also created a mailing list for last year's show participants and sent that to the show organizer.

I am also filling out paperwork for a settlement of my dad's life insurance. That's hard, as I don't know the answer to some of the questions they are asking.

When all that is all done, I have to get to work on this month's mineral club newsletter.


Quote of the day:

When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere.
     Robert Heinlein

Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Hobby Stuff


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"/Big Brother