Keeping Aaron happy :-)

When I started this blog, it was all about the house.

Well, things have moved on, and while the house still needs lots of attention, I’ve also started blogging about guns and cars and computers.

I figured that this is not fair to readers, so I spent a little time figuring out how to exclude some posts from going there.

Turns out it’s dead simple. Changing the RSS feed to,-56 excludes categories 6 and 56, being “Guns” and “Cars” (I left the “Geek” for Laura-Jane).

So if you’re running WordPress, and you don’t want the wrath of Aaron… :-)

The true cost of running a jacuzzi

A while ago I speculated wildly about the cost of heating a jacuzzi. Since then, I got hold of an hour meter and fitted it, so I now know exactly how long the element is on for.

Turned the jacuzzi on on Friday evening, with the water at 10 degrees. On Saturday evening the temperature was at 46 (! — I modified the thermostat a little and my setting was obviously off) with the hour meter reading 12.17 hours. Since the element is a 4kW unit, that’s 48.68 kWh, which costs around R50 these days.

My original calculations worked out to about 28 kWh, but it did not factor in heat loss — i.e.  the energy to heat the water, not to keep it warm.

Well, the hour meter reports that the element was on for six hours from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon (a period of 19 hours), keeping the water at 40 degrees and the cats happy (they discovered they can lie on the cover, their own hot-water bed). This work out(roughly) to 30 kWh (or R30) per day.

Bottom line: a jacuzzi loses a lot of heat to radiation, and it’s cheaper to turn it on as needed than to leave it on all the time.

Broekie Lace

In South Africa, we call Victorian iron fretwork “Broekie Lace“. I have no idea why.

Anyway, we found this lamp post outside Brad & Lynn’s house. He didn’t want it (he has plans involving security cameras), so plans were made, mostly involving a chisel and a rather large hammer.


Back home, some more plans were made, this time involving an angle grinder, and a somewhat smaller hammer and chisel.

S6301611r S6301614r

Does the number 374788 mean anything to anybody when it comes to cast iron fretwork?

Wire brushed and painted.

(yea, crappy photo. Difficult with the light and on-camera micro-flash).

The 12mm plank at the top is level. The brickwork definitely isn’t. Once all the woodwork is in I’ll fill the gap and paint it and you won’t know it’s there… I hope.

2010-11-08: Edit to add another pic.

Much needed waterworks

This is something I’ve been planning for years, finally figured I’d get Frank to do it since I’m not getting around to it myself.

15mm black irrigation pipe, on brackets, running all the way down the side of the house and around the corner. Once I add microjets, I’ll be able to water the whole stretch at the turn of a tap. Ain’t technology awesome?

The next shelf

(There are quite a few shelves still to come.)

This one goes around the TV. First step, bolt the TV bracket to the wall.

Looking good.

I will have to make a plan with the white wall behind the TV.

The reason I’m doing this in stages is that I wasn’t sure exactly where this unit would end up. It could have been 5cm to the left or the right. Now I can measure the remaining space and design a bookshelf to fit.

Shelving sort of done, for now

As mentioned previously, I finally got around to completing firstly the door and then the TV part of the shelving.

Well, the third shelf also materialised, with a lot of fighting and cursing.

Update: and after populating with a small selection of our books:

3 Phase weirdness

So on Friday the 13th we get home to some strange effects. Turning just about anything on makes some of the lights go brighter. The fridge affects the garage lights. The geyser affects the kitchen lights…

Having a working knowledge of 3 phase power, I realise that the neutral wire has come adrift*. Check the box, all looks good. Check the outside box, nope, neutral is floating out there too.

So I unplug everything I can, phone City of Capetown, they’ll send a team. All good. We go out Friday night. We go out Saturday morning. Get back, no change.

I get on the roof, check the wire where it comes into the house. No, problem is definitely on the pole. Phone council again.

Well, they eventually pitched at around 1900 Saturday. And after some stuffing around, found the problem (where, according to them, a previous team had taped over a potential problem which then a few years later hecause a real problem).

These teams are amazing. They still had four jobs lined up tonight, fellow says they get to the depot at 2200 and home at 2300, then are back on the job at 0600. But I’m glad to say he says the pay is good.

Casualties: pretty much the little things that are permanently connected but draws little power — the microwave, two clock radios,  computer speakers, the wall wart for the telephone…

* When neutral is not connected to the transformer, a load on one phase pulls neutral towards the line voltage, and in doing so pulls neutral away from the other two phases. The loaded phase falls to say 120V while the other phases go up to 300V or so (relative to neutral).


This is the 6871W1S113E control board from our LG MG-604W microwave. The transformer primary went open circuit when the supply hit 300V or thereabouts. I know that these things often incorporate some kind of protection circuitry, so I desoldered the transformer.

Sure enough, it’s a 1A 130C fuse.

Fixed (yea, this solution doesn’t have thermal protection. I can live with it).

Of course, now that I know the layout I know that one can add a fuse or a jumper to the PCB without having to desolder the transformer. Again, you’ll lose thermal protection.

The transformer primary is between the left and middle pins, and the fuse runs from the righthand pin to the lefthand pin.

I was not so lucky with the Sakyno SK-1000 clock radio. In this case the transformer primary was the protection device, and the magic smoke leaked out.

The Philips AJ3121 clock radio transformer has a fuse as well, the wire leading down on the right hand side goes over to the other side, where there’s a square  125C thermal fuse wrapped up against the winding.

It’s at the left hand side under the red tape under the plastic.

Unfortunately I stuffed it up, I jiggled the wire too much and the primary winding, which is cat-hair-thin, broke off from the fuse lead. I tried resoldering it but it’s just too finicky.

So we bought two new clock radios. But at least the microwave works.