Friday, October 5, 2018

Tripping in Annie #3 South of the Skagit, west of the Sauk rivers

There's a relatively unused little hunk of MBSNF that's almost directly across the Skagit River from our home. We just spent a week there.

While it's not the most spectacular, high country area, it is very pretty.
 Since our preferred camping is boondocking where few (ideally no) other folks will pass by, it makes for a nice peaceful week's outing, without much traffic to disturb our navel gazing.

So in that spirit of peace, I'll mainly just post pics, with a few distracting comments thrown in.

Camp One:
We camped just before a washout on this road (NF1755).

Celebrating the official declaration of "We're Home!"

Exploring our new digs.

Enjoying a refreshing beverage after a long walk.

Next morning was clear, cold and frosty.

Which must have made at least one spider's feet very uncomfortable

We spent another day at this camp, walking and noting the onset of Fall.


Camp Two:
After a relaxed morning, we headed to our next camp. This was a quarry at the end of NF1740, a short, but steep climb above Finney Creek.

Higher altitude and more exposed than Camp One, so the Fall foliage was more like Fall foliage.

We explored the quarry, and generally took it easy the next day.
After our fill of exploring, we settled in to read some adequate books, drink some adequate wine, and look at the more than adequate scenery.

Camp Three:
We had originally hoped to settle at NF1715. It looked like a good possibility on the maps, across Finney Creek from the main NF17 with one direction washed out by another creek. But when we got there, we found it was an active logging area. So we backtracked, found an unmarked stub road right near where NF17 crossed Finney creek. It was OK for an overnight, but nothing special.
 But it was a short walk down to Finney Creek.

Camp Four:
We decided to move to NF1820 the next morning.
We found a nice spot right where the road crosses Deer Creek.

By all appearances, the road had not been traveled for a week or more before we went and disturbed the tranquility.
Time for more reading and more wine.

On the way down the road, we saw a pretty little lake off to the side. So we walked back to it, after setting camp.

Rounding out the day with a nice dinner.

Then it was Saturday, and we had to decide if we wanted to try and stretch to Sunday. A few 4x4's in a line came grumbling down the road, shortly after we heard gunfire by the lake. This proved it was the weekend, and reminded us why we don't like to camp on weekends. Forecast also predicted rain coming in, so we decided to wrap up and head home via the Saulk River and Rockport. We did a nice day hike at Rockport State Park, and drove home.

But we didn't leave before sitting and recollecting the nice time we had.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

On rare occasion, the sounds of silence aren't loud enough to drown out the neighbors

And the sight of those neighbors might not be something to swoon over either.

This is why humanity invented entertainment systems. And curtains.

I had already installed a monitor and Blu-ray player, but it was a real hassle to also include music sources, or to easily switch between the various sources.
Worse, the only speakers were in the monitor, and they sound awful. But still, better than the neighbors.

So I entertained myself by making an entertainment system, so we could be entertained when we couldn't hear the sounds of silence.
I hope you are as easily entertained by my rambling as I am.

The Blu-ray and monitor are both designed to run on 110V, through the MS2012's inverter or shore power transfer switch. I don't want to run the inverter when we don't actually have a 110V device, because it's parasitic current draw is relatively high.
But we would want to play music at any time, probably for hours on end.

So I needed to find an amplifier that could switch between the video HDMI source, and some source of MP3, or on-line music source when in range of cell towers. This amplifier also needed to be controllable by remote (signal source, volume, etc.), powered by Annie's house 12V system, and have a low power sleep it could be wakened via the remote.
It also needed to be cheap.

I could not find a car entertainment system that could do all that...especially support Blu-ray.

We suffered in abject misery for months.😭

But finally, my google-fu kicked in and I found a likely suspect prospect.
It is a Pyle PFA 540BT. Cost under $90. Supports HDMI in and out, 5.1 surround, and Bluetooth. With IR remote. (Plus FM and aux inputs, which we won't use.)
It is nominally a 110V unit, but it's actually powered with 12VDC as supplied by a wall wart.

The question is if it could handle the expected range of battery voltage we'd see in Annie without letting out its magic smoke.

I figured it was cheap enough to risk a bench smoke test. Brought it into my lab and checked it out.
You may notice that I follow the philosophy of Einstein's apocryphal quote: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

It works fine, all the way up to 15.5V, at which point it exceeds the max voltage rating of our fridge, and besides, I chickened out. 

Sleep current is about 12 mA, which should be fine for our 400AH batteries (Although if Annie never got those batteries recharged, they'd be down to 50% in about 70 days. Think we can live with that.) 

The Bluetooth easily connected to an older unused phone, which I'll use as an MP3 & WiFi player. I'm using 2 leftover Logitech speakers (shown)...from a fairly decent 5.1 computer sound setup, that we're only using as 2.1.

So, now we've got music, we've got amplification, we've got good speakers for a small space. I also verified that it played nice with our HDMI setup. We're ready to install.

It's going in the space between our nifty new driver side overhead, and our closet.
Here, I'm mounting one of the speakers.

Building the shelf for the amp

And mounting it in Annie

Wired everything up, and made sure it all worked.

Built a back panel with a 12V and a dual USB set of sockets.
The USB socket is where the MP3 phone will always be plugged in.

Neatened everything up, and done...almost.

Last step was to program a universal remote that had codes for the 3 electronics.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Doing the duffel shuffle

Now that the passenger seat swivels, it's not so great as a duffel bag holder once we're camping. I mean, why swivel the chair just to look at a stack of bags?
So I added more rear overhead cabinetry. This time on the driver side. The plan is to use it for my clothing duffels, and spousal unit will store her stuff on the driver side.

I'm using the same frame design as the passenger side, but there is one difference to deal with.
See that black plastic cable conduit snapped onto the driver's side wall?

The passenger side cabinets (and cabinet wall) can fit up flush against Annie's side wall.

But the driver side has to accommodate the cabling in that conduit. There was really no good reason to build around the conduit, since it's only there to protect the cable. So the first step is to cut away the conduit.

There will be 2 cabinets, mainly to provide a center support point. Overall length will be 4.5'.

Now to build the cabinets. This time, instead of the rear wall on the outside of the frame, I'm putting it inside the frame. The cable will run behind it. Once the cabinet is assembled and glued up, we'll cut the frame (where the blue tape is) so the cabling can pass behind. That cut is already done to the cabinet to the rear.

Next, I added some support for the top of the rear wall.

The cabinets are hung to ceiling rafters at the face and rear top, and to Annie's sheet metal at the bottom rear.

I made up a quickie jig to angle the upper rear screws correctly. There was no easy way to set up a jig at my drill press, so I just cut a piece of scrap at the right angle and clamped it down.

Then I edge banded the cabinets and started mounting them. (Not what it sounds like...this isn't dogwood.)
First cabinet is attached to the ceiling.
The front screws are spaced for a piano hinge, if I decide I want to add doors. But since the goal is to stuff soft duffels up here, I'm hoping that cargo netting will do the job.

Both cabinets are up, bottom screws are installed. I ran power in case I ever want to add some under-cabinet lighting.

Added command hooks to hold the cargo net, added our signature mushy rubber trim, and as the last step, test fit a duffel bag.

While all this was going on, the aesthetics committee convened, and determined that an additional dimmer/strip light would be aesthetically pleasing above the sink.
So I installed one.

Stay tuned for our next thrilling adventure, where we attempt to improve our sound system on the cheap.