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2020.01.14
Happy belated New Year! It's been extra busy around here at the homestead (and thankfully not too bad at the work). I had spent two weeks on a stay-cation over Christmas/New Year holidays spending time with family and knocking down a fairly extensive to-do list. I had looked forward to this, but now that I'm back to my normal daily routine, I don't think I would do it again (I had a real hard time re-adjusting).

Bigger projects included a behind the couch shelf for our family room sectional that has two outlets and USB ports, fixing and painting a wood trunk for my wife, painting and finishing a stairwell, and stopping at a Pull'n Pay to get a replacement center console cover for the 300. And these were just the bigger projects that come to mind.

The couch shelf actually turned out pretty good for the cost. I experimented using Bondo over pine wood in an attempt to get a glass-like automotive finish and to add some dent resistance, but as I quickly found out (along with time constraints), it didn't end up any different than just sanding and painting. Live and learn. I'll try to post a project page up here in the next couple of days.


2019.11.27
I've had an old Acer Aspire One sub laptop in my garage for several years now to view the service manuals and lookup various information. The unit is severely under powered (1.6ghz Intel Atom, 1gb 533ghz RAM, 9in screen) even for the OEM stripped down install of Windows XP. Over the years, I had replaced Windows with various flavors of light distributions of Linux (Puppy, Bohdi, etc) with not much gain in the way of performance. I've decided to try a different approach of using the unit that in the end, works very well. I opted to use TinyCore, which is only 46Mb in size and is designed to run from solely from memory. I configure networking and install a VNC client, essentially turning the laptop into a thin client. I host a VNC server on my FreeBSD multimedia server and serve the desktop to the client. Web browsing, PDF viewing, and other simple task work flawlessly, even over a basic WIFI connection.


2019.11.21
As I noted earlier, the 300 had reached 300k miles and one of the items on the to-do list is suspension. Front struts and rear springs and shocks to be specific. I've been using BC-Racing's BR adjustable coilovers from almost the beginning and this will be my third set. I ordered the kit from Complete Street Performance since they had them discounted from 1300.00 to 999.00 plus had free shipping and a 10% discount on top of that. I ordered the kit and received it only to find out that I had ordered the wrong kit (discovering this AFTER installing the rear spring and shocks, which are identical to the kit I had in place, front struts are different). Fire off an email to CSP and they got me straightened out. It took some time, but in the end, everything thankfully worked out. Additional note, I can change out the rear springs/shocks in under an hour.

So, thinking life is good and car is up too snuff, I get thanked by having an issue with the car starting when the engine is warm (cold starts no problem). At first, I thought it was a fluke, but after the third time, I became very concerned. Of course, by this time, it was too late. Last week, drove an hour home without issue, go to pick up the girls to go out to dinner, and less than two blocks from the house, the 300 dies. A quick google points to a failed fuel pump which seems easy enough to replace. Order new fuel pump and injectors from Amazon and get things back up and running by Sunday afternoon. I guess the saving grace is that the car died just a few blocks away from the house and not in the middle heavy traffic on my way home. Guess a big shout-out to AAA is in order as well.

2019.10.14
I had posted back on November 2017 that my climbing days had ended. I failed to mention that we had one last tower that was under contract until the end of this year. The tower company wouldn't let us out of the lease, and we weren't about to let them re-use tower space that we were paying for, so we let the equipment hang. I had managed to schedule a couple of days last week to pull the equipment down. Couldn't have asked for better weather, even more since the week before had been in the upper 90s, followed by rain and cooler weather just the day before.

This particular tower is a PITA due to the fact that it was an old freestanding AT&T microwave. The tower's ladder is inside the tower, so you can't really carry the standard rope up with you. Pretty much have to carry a "clothesline" on a spool up, drop it down the outside of the tower, and then pull up your main working ropes. To make things even more interesting, is that two of the equipment mounts can only be reached by either repelling down to them from a catwalk that's 20ft above, or rig a line to secure the climber as he tightwalks across the cross member. Fun times.


SInce we had all the climbing gear together, we had offered to help one of our co-workers take down his dad's 150ft ham radio tower this same week. Back in the early 80s, the tower was used for the local cable company to receive over the air signals and convert them to local cable channels. When we initially looked at the tower, I had assumed the rung tower was standard hollow pipe and worked a plan to climb to the top, cutting 10ft sections as we worked our way down. Fortunately, one of the guys found a crane operator that would pick up the tower and maneuver it to the ground and we'd cut it up on the ground. We spent three hours dropping six or so antennas and then Saturday dropped the tower. Found out that the legs of the tower were solid galvanized steel 1.5in and the tower weighed in at just above 4300lbs slightly maxing out the crane's capabilities.


2019.09.20
Since the 300 hit 300k miles last month, some electrical gremlins are starting to rear their ugly heads. It all started a couple of weeks ago with a flashing tire pressure warning lamp on the dash. I had replaced the wheel sensors earlier this year when I purchased new tires, and managed to go several months without issue, so it's safe to say that wheel sensors are not the problem. A little research turned up that a solid lamp means low pressure condition and a flashing lamp indicates a system error. I pulled out my Starscan and it reported a CT1504 DTC. Basically sensor 4 getting incomplete message. Two things of note: it's never a good sign when the dealer service manual says "The conditions necessary to set this DTC are not present at this time.", and that the car only has three sensors (though error conditions for 5 exists). One in the front and a two receivers in the rear. Idea being that if error wasn't reported in the either of the three, it has to be the forth, process of elimination as a cost savings. Until I get some time to dig into it, I can live with the twice daily blinking for 30 seconds at a time.

Now notice that I had said "gremlins", plural. Earlier this week as I'm backing out of the driveway, I turned on the cabin lights to wave goodbye to my lovely wife. I used the dimmer control (set to max to activate interior lights) to do this. As I did this, it seemed to have triggered a dash lamp test, as every single lamp on the dash lit up for about 10 seconds. Unfortunately, I can't replicate how this happened. As a bonus, later the same day, the airbag warning and passenger airbag off lights came on for about a minute. I guess I'm spending this weekend with the Starscan. I'm hoping this doesn't mean a bigger issue down the road.

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