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Discussion Starter #1
I know that CDB is in the midst of a bathroom remodel and just finished installing a pool as well. I'm sure there are others of you working on home improvement projects so I'd like to hear about them.
Here's mine:
1) Six weeks ago, I found out that PGE will sell you a smart thermostat for pretty stupidly cheap. Sure, they might cut your power. Or burn your house down b/c of deferred maintenance but hey, at least I'll get a cheap smart thermostat AND they seem to be pretty good about paying out rebates.
$15 for an Ecobee Smart Thermostat w/ Alexa and a second sensor is pretty nice. i think it its $250 on amazon.
- I have enough Alexa devices and my home heating system is pretty basic (its SF after all so it was only a high efficiency furnace + fan) but the idea of getting a second sensor was nice as my thermostat is placed in a hallway nook behind a door that is usually left open so it often reads a few degrees colder than the rest of the house. The second sensor fixed it.

2) Anyway, thermostat itself isn't that interesting. First, to help filter out my house more, i realized that I could set the thermostat up to run the fan separately from the heater. That itself isnt that interesting. What you folks might find amusing is that I also found a way to read the AQI index in SF and if the AQI level climbs beyond a certain point, automatically kick on the fan to run a few min every hour.
- No function like this exists within the thermostat. However, I found some open source home automation SW called HomeAssistant.io that can run on a Raspberry Pi.
  • I already had a Raspberry Pi in my house running an ad blocker using DNS sinking (you set it as a DNS, if your device request a URL from a known ad spammer, the IP address never gets resolved. Poof. Significant ad reduction).
  • I found out that you can add AdGuard (a competitor to PiHole) as an integrated add-on to home Assistant so that little box is doing double duty now.
  • It took me an evening but I figured out how to both control the Ecobee as well as link the AQI reading.
Now, I don't really need this functionality but it was interesting to learn how to set it up. I could have easily just opened the app (or walked over to the thermostat to set the fan into auto-mode) but this way is cooler.

3) My next project will be to make my sprinkler system smarter. I want to shut off my dumb sprinkler system when it rains without having to install a local rainsensor OR upgrade my irrigation controller to a smart one that costs $150-250 bucks.
  • My sprinkler system came with my house and is 10+ years old. it works and I've reconfigured all of my sprinklers just to water my raised garden boxes (I don't care about any other part of the yard; we don't have grass so everything else can fend for themselves).
  • After a little bit of research, I found out that my existing sprinkler controller has two contacts for a rain gauge. 24VAC runs through it. Connected, irrigation controller will run its normal program. Break the connection between the two contacts, and it goes into rain mode and nothing gets watered.
  • My current plan is to setup a remote WIFI module (ESP8266 E12e module) as a device on my home network and wire it via a relay to break the connection between the two contacts on the irrigation controller.
  • I've gotten the ESP8266 module running some pretty easy to use firmware called ESPEasy; I can now send commands to it via a URL to trigger the relay ON/OFF. I then realized that the relay modules I already owned required 5V to trigger and these modules only have a 3.3V supply. Total cost for the ESPP module was $5 and the new 3.3V relay module is $2.50. That's coming in a few days from amazon. if I wanted to wait to get stuff from China, I could get all of this stuff for half this price on eBay.
Amazon.com: HiLetgo 1PC ESP8266 NodeMCU CP2102 ESP-12E Internet WiFi Development Board Open Source Serial Wireless Module Works Great for Arduino IDE/Micropython (Small): Computers & Accessories - I bought the 2 pack
- Now, I just need to figure out how to detect rain within the homeassistant system and trigger the remote IOT device. There are nerds who do all sorts of projects like have their closet lightbulb flash BLUE when its gonna rain today so this should be straightforward.
I doubt this project will take more than a few days after i get the module so I'll probably be casting about for something else to do.

Q: What projects have you folks been doing to feather your own nests?
-g
 

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Rebuilt a block wall in front of the house over the weekend! :)

Joe
 

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USPS sent me a notice late last month and a "friendly reminder" again last that my mailbox is too far from the curb and decreases their efficiency. They asked that I move my mailbox to within 6" of the curb. That said, I put up a new mailbox.

39430


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OMG- you are now going to have the ADA police after you GRIN- believe it or not, ADA and the building codes prohibit anything in the 6 foot width of a public right a away... thats why for the past 2 decades, the Fire Department Sprinkler connections for buildings have been placed at the curbs and not on the sides of buildings or at the edge of the sidewalks..... when hoses are run to connect to them, it obstructs flow/evacuation of ADA persons.....
 

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It was either that, or put it in a bucket with concrete. And the bucket of concrete is pugh fugly.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OMG- you are now going to have the ADA police after you GRIN- believe it or not, ADA and the building codes prohibit anything in the 6 foot width of a public right a away... thats why for the past 2 decades, the Fire Department Sprinkler connections for buildings have been placed at the curbs and not on the sides of buildings or at the edge of the sidewalks..... when hoses are run to connect to them, it obstructs flow/evacuation of ADA persons.....
I believe this is an ADA violation but how are all the other mailboxes placed on this street? If they are on the lawn vs the street, there must be some exception. Let the govt bureaucracies fight it out.
 

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The Parts Guy
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My work hours at the plant have actually increased significantly since this all started. In fact, I spent the entire month of May working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I can think of a few things that I've knocked out:

Re-stained the deck
Washed the house siding
Eradicated a field of Sericea Lespezeda and re-seeded with native forbs
Cut 0.23 miles of trail through the woods thus far
Washed all 8 cars...a few times
Swapped the front Vogtlands for ST's on the Coug
Installed a quick ratio power steering box on the Skylark
Made a hose reel for the shop out of a vintage Keystone mag
Bought, assembled, and installed a 4 post lift in the shop
Installed a killer stereo setup in the Skylark
Re-wired the dash of the Skylark
Sold a Focus
Bought another Jeep
Installed a Pertronix Ignitor III on the Skylark
Replaced all of the exhaust hangers on the Skylark
Installed AC in the shop
Painted the underside of the Skylark
Re-wired the starter on the Coug
Made/installed radiator baffles on the Skylark
Replaced all four rear UCA bushings on the Skylark
Metal-worked, body-worked, painted and installed the tailgate on the '65 C10 (that was ~50 hours alone)
Replaced the rear axle seals/bearings on the Skylark
Made/installed a pair of smoothed, coilpack-less valvecovers on the 5.3L in the '65 C10
Converted the Skylark over to a clutch-type radiator fan
Catalogued 161 native forbs on the property thus far

That's all I can think of, but I have more projects underway. If I can get some time off at some point this year, I'll really get some stuff done.
 

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I believe this is an ADA violation but how are all the other mailboxes placed on this street? If they are on the lawn vs the street, there must be some exception. Let the govt bureaucracies fight it out.
If it is an ADA violation, I'll just turn the mailbox parallel to the street and fill in the 4 holes.

I have the notices from USPS asking me to move the mailbox. I'll just state that I was following their instruction. 🤷‍♂️
 

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50 years of Mercury Cougar 1967/2017
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CD's, now your blocking the sidewalk.
 

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So is everyone else who is using oversized pots for their mailbox stand.
 

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Boy oh boy

New counters and back splash in kitchen.

Half wall around the stairs, new newel posts, stone wall in stair well and behind fireplace.

Just got the permit for the new fence.

Waiting on the permit for the pool.

Still planning out the upstairs bathroom.

Since the 89 SC is gone and the garage is clear, its going to get completely re done. Metallic epoxy floors, full length tool box and cabinets along the back wall, hanging platforms above the garage doors to get stuff off the ground. New tools hopefully.

Last year was more of the same, but because a water pipe burst and ruined the lower level and part of the upper level.

Excuse the mess.
39435
20200929_114325_HDR.jpg
39436
39437
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So is everyone else who is using oversized pots for their mailbox stand.
Oversized pots on the sidewalk? Huh.
I googled this and TIL this is why some houses in suburbia have that green strip between the sidewalk and the road -- to give a place for mailboxes to be placed. If the subdivision was setup for walking delivery and has since moved to a driving route, that could explain why no provision was made for mailboxes @ the curb.

Here's a far more egregious example of conflicting laws (ADA vs Postal regulations). CDB is apparently not alone.
https://www.reddit.com/r/CrappyDesign/comments/f2cbxq
 

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I'll take pictures if you guys want me to, but just the 5 of the 10 houses or so I pass leaving my neighborhood has their mailbox blocking the sidewalk as well.
 

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Any idea why this keeps happening to my front door? I'll hammer the pin back in but after a few months, it works itself back out.

39562
 

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Two big projects completed since March, with a third one still in progress.

The largest scale project was a complete renovation / redesign of our kitchen. All new cabinets, countertops and backsplashes, appliances, flooring, plus additional lighting. The "flow pattern" was changed by replacing a peninsula with an island and relocating the refrigerator. Other than the many, many hours spent working with the designer and shopping for everything, I did very little of the actual installation work.

The second project, just finishing up, was converting our TV watching space into a real media room. This started with some drywall repair, new paint and new stained baseboards. Then a big screen TV and surround sound system, to which I added a new turntable and storage cabinets for my LP collection which had been sitting in the basement unused for decades. Finally some storage for the CD collection, additional lighting, and several framed music posters. I was heavily involved in this project, with help from my son on selection and installation. The sound quality of the speakers (Sonos Arc, Sub and One SL surrounds) is amazingly good!

The in-progress work is on my wife's sewing room. She did some wall repair, I helped move things, and we both have painted. It still needs one wall painted, and we would like to add recessed lighting and new baseboards.
 

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The Parts Guy
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My work hours at the plant have actually increased significantly since this all started. In fact, I spent the entire month of May working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I can think of a few things that I've knocked out:

Re-stained the deck
Washed the house siding
Eradicated a field of Sericea Lespezeda and re-seeded with native forbs
Cut 0.23 miles of trail through the woods thus far
Washed all 8 cars...a few times
Swapped the front Vogtlands for ST's on the Coug
Installed a quick ratio power steering box on the Skylark
Made a hose reel for the shop out of a vintage Keystone mag
Bought, assembled, and installed a 4 post lift in the shop
Installed a killer stereo setup in the Skylark
Re-wired the dash of the Skylark
Sold a Focus
Bought another Jeep
Installed a Pertronix Ignitor III on the Skylark
Replaced all of the exhaust hangers on the Skylark
Installed AC in the shop
Painted the underside of the Skylark
Re-wired the starter on the Coug
Made/installed radiator baffles on the Skylark
Replaced all four rear UCA bushings on the Skylark
Metal-worked, body-worked, painted and installed the tailgate on the '65 C10 (that was ~50 hours alone)
Replaced the rear axle seals/bearings on the Skylark
Made/installed a pair of smoothed, coilpack-less valvecovers on the 5.3L in the '65 C10
Converted the Skylark over to a clutch-type radiator fan
Catalogued 161 native forbs on the property thus far

That's all I can think of, but I have more projects underway. If I can get some time off at some point this year, I'll really get some stuff done.
Built and stained a nice pair of cedar Adirondack chairs for the deck, made a shrinking/dishing stump for the shop, and did a bunch of regular home/yard/car maintenance over the past two weeks. Gearing up to make and install crown molding in all of the bedrooms and bathrooms of the house and install a LSD in my '10 Jeep Liberty here shortly.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Any idea why this keeps happening to my front door? I'll hammer the pin back in but after a few months, it works itself back out.

View attachment 39562
Internet says its because of friction. As you open and close the door, the friction slowly pushes the pin up. Makes sense. Solution is to: clean the holes (a brush like you'd use for a gun barrel would probably be ideal), lube the pin with heavy grease, tighten a set screw holding the pin in (if you see one), and/or replace the hinge.
 
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