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Danny's Ramblings

The play by play

Earlier I mentioned how I was trying to declutter and pair down the things I own. I've made some serious progress and figured it was time to expound on that a little.

Some items I simply couldn't find a use for. This lens for example. Over the handful of years I owned it, it only was used to take a picture once out in Yellowstone. Otherwise, it sat in that lens case. Happily I sold it on Craigslist to a retiree that was eager to take it out and squeeze off several frames.

If 2017 is going to be known for anything, it'll be known to a "lucky" few as the year when Bitcoin and Ethereum exploded back onto the global stage. As of this writing, Ethereum is sitting above $300 and BTC is something like $3850. The mind boggles. The mining rigs I was using in 2014 were dismantled and the parts  slowly sold and integrated into the existing computers in the house as upgrade parts. I didn't ever think that GPU's I hadn't sold would be worth anything. Boy was I wrong!

Ethereum and it's DAG/daggerhashimoto algorithm really likes the R9 290/390 chips.  Power hungry as they are, they still cranked out a very respectable hashrate. So I sold my Gigabtye R9 390x G1, Gigabyte R9 290x Windforce OC, and MSI R9 290 reference, but I didn't sell them for cash. I sold them all to the same buyer for 3.25 Eth.  So far, I'm all HODL and it's paying off. When I sold them, Ethereum was $180~$200. While waiting for a buyer, I had them hashing at night when electricity prices were cheap. We're on a live pricing model for our electricity. I only managed to crank out .43 Eth over a span of two months as a result.  So, it was worth selling them for Ethereum, "to me." It would have taken me forever to mine 3.25 Eth.

With the GPU's all gone, I took a long hard look at my desktop and Eliza's.  Eliza wasn't interested in upgrading. Her AMD FX8350 based system was chugging along just fine and I replaced her recently sold R9 290 with a EVGA GTX 1050.

For me however... I don't know what to do long term. What I did do was sell my i7 980x Extreme, Asus P6X58D-E motherboard, 24GB of DDR3 RAM, and my Thermalright Silver Arrow heatsink. I figured if I was going to sell it, that time was before Threadripper launched. The new owner is going to make this the heart of his new Oculus Rift HTPC setup. Apparently his kids were commandeering his rig too often when they wanted to play something with the Oculus.

I'm still debating on where I go from here though. My Dell XPS 15 laptop is more than fast enough to handle any workload I currently have. In fact, I may buy some accessories and use it as a desktop PC replacement. But in some ways, that feels wrong... The other option is for me to go Threadripper. It's mighty appealing. Ryzen is an option too, but it's simply not a desirable platform for me to build off of. I tend to hang onto my desktops on average of 7 years. Threadripper's x399 tech looks like something I'd be willing to invest in for the long haul. I'll probably do that to be honest, I've got a brand new EVGA 1050ti waiting for a home.

My Nexus 6p was giving me grief. I was experiencing the dreaded battery drain common to this phone. I'd walk around and the phone would shutoff with an apparent 60%-20% battery remaining. The last straw was when the phone shutdown and on reboot said a SIM was not present. That type of ailment would sink me if it happened at an airport. I ended up acquiring an LG V20 as my next. The LG V20 is an amazing phone in a lot of ways, but there are some niggles. Not enough for me to go back to my 6p though. I did replace the battery so that it essentially was better than new, but it was time for it to go. The Pixel 2 release is imminent and with Google slashing prices on the Pixel my 6p was becoming less desirable by the day. I ended up selling it to a guy from Rockford that adored the 6p and wanted another when his got water damaged.

All of these sales felt spread out, but happened in the span of about a month. Not bad! $800 + 3.25 Eth is a good haul. Plenty of other things however didn't get sold. Bags of stuff got sent to the recycling centers at Best Buy & Staples. A car load or two of clothes and old tech that I didn't want to sell on CL ended up at Goodwill. Somewhere out there, someone is probably rocking the Motorola Xoom we donated. A few garbage bins were filled up with the detritus of life too. There's more to clear out, but I'm already feeling the refreshing feeling of simply not worrying about stuff that isn't important.

We're already filling up our shelves with more stuff. Seriously, why do I have so much stuff? But we've beaten down the clutter monster and that's enough for now.

Trying to clear the clutter

For the past several months I've been trying to clear the clutter. I'm not embracing "minimalism" or any type of mind set or way of living. I'm "merely" trying to simplify and downsize the things I own while at the same time going through a round of upgrades.

It's liberating. Its the one two punch of having less stuff and the stuff I do have is "modern" and "up to date" with current technologies. Interestingly it helps me free up brain space too. Now when I look at the things around me, I'm not thinking of how I need to upgrade it, properly store it, or come to a decision about getting rid of it. Not to mention that I've been able to recoup some money along the way.

I'm a sentimental guy at heart, so I tend to hang onto things. Funny how the things I hang onto can become such a hindrance without me noticing it.

Now go buy my things on craigslist.  ;)

Saved one from the trash

Managed to fix the Cordomatic 800 for the most part. Turned out that the original cord had a short in it somewhere on both wires. Since the old cord was thirty feet long, I tossed it and replaced it with a 16/3 cord. The problem is, the new cord is a lot stiffer than the old one.  The original cord was a 16 gauge 2 wire with hemp rope as an additional load bearing carrier and a natural rubber case. It was very flexible and compliant, though that flexibility probably did in the cord too. The replacement is a 16 gauge 3 extension cord with no additional filler and a vinyl cover. It rolls up, but has a tough time with the last couple of feet.

I may remove several feet of cord and adjust the pre-load on the spring. If I can find some inexpensive natural rubber encased 16/2 cord that would be ideal. But otherwise, it's doing great and is mounted up in the garage and already been rather useful.

The Mantis tiller however, refuses to start still. For some reason it keeps flooding. Even with jets leaned way way out, it continues to flood. I readjusted the points and magneto and made sure that they were close but not touching uniformly across all magnets. Still no dice. I'm just about ready to kick it to the curb.

My brother is interested in it, but he too is probably better served by getting an electric one and not this pile of rubbish. I may give it one last go with essentially closed jets and a rag soaked in starting fluid by the intake to see if that gets it to at least turn over. Who knows, maybe the engine is just in that bad a shape? There is compression. I'm fairly certain that there is no crank case puddling too. Such a bizarre problem, but it does beg the question if the ignition coil just isn't strong enough to fire under compression.

Let there be light

Slowly but surely things are getting knocked off my to do list. Some things don't always go as planned, but it's still progress even if it feels like it's not always forward. Managed to fix our garage door opener. The lamp on it stopped turning on when you opened or closed the door. Turns out our old garage door operator uses a thermal light delay switch. It took a bit of doing, but it was fairly painless to fix it up.

Not so with the other two items I attempted. Even with a whole bag of replacement parts, fuel lines, gas tank grommet, air filter, spark plug, and carburetor, the Mantis is still not starting. Brutal. I also started work on refurbishing an old Cordomatic 800 work light. After opening it up, much of it was quite rusted inside. The cords themselves were also quite worn. I replaced some bits, but a continuity test revealed something is still not quite right. Somewhere there's a short, but I can't quite figure out if it's the sweeps or something intermittent in the old cord I'm trying to reuse.

Not going to give up on either, but it's gonna be a while for me to figure it all out.

That should have been easy

Replaced the rubber auger paddles, drive belt, and the scraper bar on the newly working Honda HS520 snowblower. It wasn't easy sadly. While the auger paddles and the drive belt were a straight forward swap, the scraper bar was anything but.

On the Honda HS520, three carriage bolts are used to secure the scraper bar. Unfortunately, the carriage bolts have a very thin section square shoulder. This thin shoulder is kept in place on equally thin sheet metal. So, when you try to remove rust seized nuts from these carriage bolts, the carriage bolt ends up mangling the rusted sheet metal underneath and subsequently becomes very difficult to remove.

I tried several methods to get that bolt to behave. A slot for a flat head didn't work. My cut wasn't precise enough and the screwdriver would cam out. Cutting flats on the side of the carriage bolt head so I could grip it with pliers didn't help much either. The bolt head simply wasn't very tall and if I cut off enough where I could gain purchase, the bolt wouldn't really be usable again. I even cleaned off the exposed threads with a fine wire wheel to lessen any and all resistance. The nuts may as well have been welded on.

I ended up having to cut them off. In went a set of stainless steel 5/16 hardware. I used a socket button head bolt to make sure the auger doesn't snag on it, and give me a method to firmly grip the bolt head.

Now if I could only get that pesky Mantis-20 tiller to work... Parts are inbound.