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Even though I haven't updated in a while, it doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Au Contraire! I've been sitting on an old traffic light for over 20 years that was a present from my in-laws. It was a little rough around the edges, but complete. Shortly after getting it, I had broken it down and tried to strip the old paint off (tried chemical and sanding) without success so it sat in the corner of the basement. Fast forward 20 years, the wife and I were going through stuff in the basement and she asked me if I planned on doing anything with it. I have a garage now, so it was time to get it repainted and working again.

Normally, I'd write up a project page for this, but I didn't take any pictures of the process and honestly, there wasn't much too it. I had a local guy sand blast the fixture, then I primed and painted it yellow. For the light switching (keep in mind that this was controlled remotely), I opted for an Arduino Uno and a SainSmart 4 channel relay switch board. A simple Arduino sketch loop to cycle the lights and voila, a working traffic light. Cost of the two boards was under $20, so this was a no brainer.

I realize that the Uno is overkill for just blinking lights, but it does give me options in the future, say like controlling the traffic light with the garage door (eg. red = door closed, yellow = opening/closing, green = open), or even parking position.

I had taken a couple of days off to make a four day weekend. I spent the day Saturday doing yard work/misc chores and Sunday working on the 300s AC (which didn't get very far). I spent Monday with my daughter shopping and spending the day downtown by the river (The Banks). We finally had a chance to check out the electric scooters (Bird). We had a blast! I spent Tuesday with my wife at Kings Island. While we had an awesome time, it seemed since Cedar Fair had taken over, some the rides are showing neglect (Viking, Monster, Shake/Rattle/Roll, Racer). However, it was nice to see the return of the old fashion cars though.

While doing all that, I was also able to get the 300s AC compressor replaced and charged this past weekend, but it was a tumultuous journey. I had a local Firestone Complete Auto Care evacuate the system on Sunday. It took all of about 40 minutes and costs 30 bucks to do, so easy deal there. From there, it was a bit of work. Hardest part was getting the old compressor out and the new one installed. It didn't help that the water coolant return line and thermostat sit right over the compressor, so I had to pull that, plug it, and clean up the resulting mess. Then, I had to pull the cooling fan to make room for the compressor to come out, which in turn, meant that the upper coolant hose had to be pulled, resulting in again, more mess.

From there, it got a little more frustrating. A combination of bad unit location and complete lack of arm above head stamina made getting the new unit bolted in a chore from hell. That alone took a lot longer than I care to talk about. I had used my buddy's gauge set for the initial vacuum test, but had an issue with the set (unlabeled knobs, couldn't tell if they were open or closed). I ended up running out to Harbor Freight and getting a new gauge set Monday. Ran another vacuum test over night. Came in the next morning (Tuesday) to find no vacuum at all which indicates a leak. After cussing a bit, it occurred to me that I didn't lubricate the gaskets on the new gauge set. Put yet another vacuum on the system and came back 6 hours later, no vacuum loss, yay!

Getting the refrigerant back in the system took a bit longer than I expected. The issue was getting the compressor to engage. There is a pressure switch in the line that will keep the compressor from engaging with either low or high pressure. Normally, you can just short the sensor to force the compressor on, but the 300 had a 3 wire sensor, so after some tries, I found that unplugging/plugging the sensor in did the trick. Tedious, but I eventually got it. Since the install, we've been in the upper 80s with high humidity, and I'm rolling like a freezer truck.

One other surprise during the install: I had ordered a pre-oiled compressor for the single reason of not having to put oil into the system when putting in the refrigerant. First line in the instructions is to drain/dispose of the oil and refill 75ml into the compressor and put 75ml into the system, which is a royal PITA. Naturally didn't realize this until I was knee deep in the install.

Finally, a shout-out to the ChrisFix Youtube channel. This video was immensely helpful on charging the system.

As the 300 is clawing it's way to 300k miles (at 294k as of this post), repairs/maintenance costs are starting to add up. Outside of the 100k mile service (spark plugs, transmission/diff service), I'm about due for new shocks/struts, and the A/C system is starting to act up. By act up, I mean it was actually blowing snow inside my car the other day. It doesn't help that I have the A/C turned on year round, so it shouldn't be a surprise after 13 years it's time for some attention. After some research, I decided to try to tackle this myself. If I only have to replace the compressor, it should be fairly painless. If the problem is system wide, requiring the dashboard to be pulled, it gets painful real quick. By most accounts, pulling the dashboard takes approx 4 hours to pull and 4 hours to put back in. Anyways, I borrowed a gauge set from a buddy and picked up a vacuum pump from Harbor Freight. I'll do some initial diagnostics before having the refrigerant evacuated. This should be an interesting learning experience to say the least.

Happy Alien Day! In remembrance for the crew of the Nostromo's fateful visit to LV-426 and the launch of one my all time favorite movie series. This year is also the 40th anniversary for the original 1979 Alien release.

It's been pretty slow around these parts since our trip. My current project at the house is purging a growing collection of just parts, pieces, and other various stuff accumulating over the years. I'm also patching the drywall on the staircase for the basement. I had to cut some drywall to run cable for a wall mounted TV on the other side of the (shared) wall. This wall is unique, as it used to be the outside wall (pre addition) and I didn't factor in the fire blocks in the wall. If anything came out of this, It was the creation of a bigger dustless collector for the wet/dry vac. The one I bought years ago for the addition was a half-gallon bucket using 1/2in corrugated tubing that worked fairly well, but its small size was a hindrance. The one I made is a 5 gallon bucket using 1.5in PVC. The idea came from this Instructable.

At work, I've been playing with a software stack known as ELK, for ElasticSearch, LogStash, and Kibana. Specifically using this stack for analyzing network traffic flows (Netflow). Initially started this on an Ubuntu 18.04 server, but have since moved things over to FreeBSD for familiarity. With the exception of LogStash, it's all JAVA based. Our edge routers send netflow streams to LogStash collectors, which are then stored on the ElasticSearch storage system. Kibana is then used for data visualization and reporting. Pretty slick stuff.

Despite telling ourselves that we would be holding off vacations for the next couple of years so we could afford to send our daughter to college, we ended up going on vacation for Spring Break. This years destination was Texas. We took an early bird flight to Dallas, grabbed a rental car and drove down to Houston to see Space City. Took a tour to see Mission Control (at the least the backup/training one). We honestly thought we'd only be there for a couple of hours, but honestly, we could have spent the entire day there.

From there, we spent two nights at a hotel on the river walk in San Antonio and saw the Alamo. We spent most of our time in San Antonio on the river walk. We even managed to catch a Spurs basketball game one night.

From San Antonio, we drove back up to Dallas for two nights. Visited the book depository and the JFK 6th Floor museum which was very well done. We had a chance to meet up with my wife's uncle and he took us to the Re-Union tower and then we had dinner at their place. Overall, we had a pretty good time, though I did manage to catch a hellacious cold that started to manifest the last night in San Antonio. By the time we got back home, I was a full blown mess.

Two things I regretted not doing on the trip: Lime Scooters and I never got a steak dinner (because I was feeling kinda crappy). I think if we ever do go back to Texas, we will definitely be going back to San Antonio. For the record, I drove just over 1200 miles on this trip.

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