Saturday, August 20, 2016

2014/2015/2016 SkyActiv Mazda3 Oil Capacity & Change Procedures

Things needed for a 2014/2015/2016 SkyActiv Mazda 3 oil change: 5 quarts 0W-20, 6 quarts if you've got the 2.5L motor and are a "top of dipstick" kind of person.  A Wix 57002 filter.  An 8mm wrench or socket, an 8mm hex driver (or Allen wrench), and a medium flathead screwdriver.

Read on for what the oil change process involves.  But that's probably what you wanted to know, isn't it?


Why am I doing a writeup on a 2015 Mazda 3 oil and filter change on a blog focused on electric bikes, solar, and small electronics?  Because I hate Tap-A-Talk full screen annoyances and car forum mobile themes, that's why!  It's rather off in the weeds for my blog, but it took a bunch of searching and a phone call to the dealership (including waiting on hold) to find this information when I went to pick up oil for my car without the actual car.  Hopefully this remains helpful for people going forward.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

BionX 26v 9.6Ah Teardown & 18Ah rebuild

It's been a while since I've done a pack teardown and rebuild of a new pack.  The most recent one was the Trek Valencia Ride+ pack teardown and rebuild back in January (Part 1, Part 2, Rebuild).  That one was a bit of a mess - corroded cells, held together with some sort of adhesive foam, and generally not at all fun.

This one is somewhat nicer to work with!  It's a very welcome improvement.

I have here in my hand a list of 205 a very well used BionX 26v LiMn battery pack.  It's rated at 9.6Ah, and is in the same form factor they seem to use for all their packs.  Interestingly, the capacity is the same as the 36v packs (9.6Ah), but the voltage is lower (so fewer cells).  It could make one wonder...


Read on for tons of photos, a full teardown, and a stunning rebuild to a whopping 18Ah!

If you're just here because you have one of these and it needs to be rebuilt, you probably want to go here for details on the rebuilds I offer.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Teardown & Review of a $3 Solar Bike Light

It's been a little while since I've torn apart cheap bike lights out of China - but I'm back at it with this solar bike tail light!  And, I'm tearing it apart in my solar powered workspace.


If you'd like one, they're less than $3 on eBay right now.

It's powered by "Solar energy."

It's "solar energy rechargrable" - and it includes a "steaady" mode.

What's in it?  And is it any good?  Keep reading to find out!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Solar Shed Summary: My Off Grid Office

A few months ago I moved to a few acres in the country, and needed somewhere to work - so I built myself a solar powered off grid office out of a Tuff-Shed Pro Studio!

On one side, I've built a great desk corner with plenty of power and more than enough AC to keep me cool when it's over 100F out.


On the other side, I've built an awesome lab bench for small electronics projects and battery builds.


It all started with this.


That's an 8'x12' Tuff Shed Premier Pro Studio.  I spent around three and a half weeks turning it into my very own office.

Highlights include:
  • Aggressive insulation for year round use: 3.5" of rock wool (5.5" in the ceiling), plus 2" of foamboard on all walls and the ceiling.
  • Plywood interior walls, because I think they look good and they make it easy to mount things.
  • 2kW of solar panels on swinging mounts for power.
  • 12kWh of Trojan T105RE batteries in a 48v bank for storage.
  • A 2kW Aims Power inverter for 110v power.
  • A through-wall heat pump for cooling and heating.
  • Desk space, wall mounted monitors, a lab bench, and plenty of shelving.
This is a summary of my build, with links after each section to posts that contain radically more information (and way, way more photos) of each build stage.

Keep reading for a summary of the entire process!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Solar Shed: Part 10: Interior Work

Construction posts about my off grid Solar Shed are nearly done - there's just a bit of interior work remaining before the bulk of the work is finished!

The insulation is done (rock wool in the walls and ceiling, 2" foamboard on top).

The plywood walls are installed.

The HVAC is heating, venting, and air conditioning nicely.

The solar system is rudely interrupting photons before they hit the ground and turning them into electrons.

It's time to finish out the interior, and make myself a useful workspace!  Perhaps something like this:


What went into the interior work?  Read on to find out!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pokémon Go, Ingress, Servers, and Social Interaction

Pokémon Go has been in public release for slightly over a week now.  I had an opportunity to spend some time playing it in a rather dense area (literally dozens of players around a cluster of PokéStops every evening), and since I've been an Ingress player for over three years, have played plenty of Ingress, and have some background with large scale server systems, I decided to share some of my thoughts.


If you were really, really looking forward to some details on the inside of my Solar Shed (an off grid office I built out of a Tuff-Shed), here's a teaser.  But that's pushed back to next week.  Sorry.


Otherwise, read on for thoughts about scaling, servers, social aspects, and how everything relates to Ingress.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Solar Shed: Part 9: The Solar System

I've collected a bunch of hydrogen and initiated fusion for power!  Or, at least, something that sounds an awful lot like that.  What does one call one's solar system except a solar system, and imply that one has a small sun and planet set floating around?

In any case, you've stuck with me for 8 weeks of "installing insulation and stuff in a shed."  Time for the good stuff!

A solar powered off grid office clearly needs a solar power system - and mine is no exception!

So, here are the gory details on my solar setup.  From panels to outlet.


Keep reading for gobs of details.