DIY Panniers

I love panniers. I just don’t like spending $100+ for a pair of ‘em. When Jamie showed up at Starbucks with a DIY pannier on his bike, I knew I had to do some research. Here’s what I found:

Looks like I’ll be making more than one of these. :-)

My A/C Works!

Yes! I got my air conditioner working. Total cost: $38 for a new 24V transformer.

A couple of bonuses:

  1. My air condition will be more efficient without a layer of “felt” on the condenser coils, and
  2. I learned a lot about how air conditioners work.



HVAC Debug Update: I’m Making Progress

Determined to debug my HVAC problems, I created a list of steps to follow. I planned to verify the presence of power and control signals at the furnace control circuit and the condenser.1

Not feeling comfortable about my knowledge of how my HVAC is wired, I searched and found Thermostat Wire Color Codes and a thermostat wiring schematic.2

First, I verified the 24V transformer’s primary is getting line voltage.3 Then, checking the secondary, I found no voltage. I tried again. I pulled it out of the furnace and tried again. Still no dice. I guess I could have just measured the impedance across the secondary and discovered the transformer was bad4 and needed replaced.

Unfortunately, by the time I discovered this, the local appliance parts and electrical supply stores were closed for the week. Home Depot and Lowe’s were still open but neither has a matching transformer. Looks like it will be next week before our HVAC is working.5

I’m concerned: if I replace the transformer, is something else wrong that will kill the new one? Or did the transformer just die of old age? I guess I’ll find out.

Fortunately, the weather is getting cooler.6

1Essentially, this is rule #1 of debugging: is it plugged in?
2Ya gotta love the Transonics wiki’s disclaimer/warning/license: “The following information may have errors; It is not permissible to be read by anyone who has ever met a lawyer. Use is confined to Engineers with more than 370 course hours of electronic engineering for theoretical studies.” I’m still trying to figure out how this applies to me.
3Yes, this means the breaker was ON and the furnace cover was off. If you’re thinking of using my post as a guide to debug your HVAC system, you should read the preceding footnote.
4It was shorted.
5Does this help? ;-)
6But I don’t have forever; the heat doesn’t work either.

Hot Weather Means the AC Dies

Our HVAC stopped working in the hottest week of the summer (so far…). Rather than call an HVAC tech, I’m trying to fix it myself.1

Symptoms: no fans start running even though thermostat is correctly set (and for that matter, fan set to “on”).

Checks so far:

  1. Breakers
  2. Thermostat batteries
  3. Short yellow to red and wait two minutes
  4. Interrupter by condensor
  5. Look for fuses in furnace control circuit and interrupter (there were none)

At this point, I think it’s time to verify voltages and signals, starting with the transformer and furnace control circuit, then moving outside to the condensor.

Wish me luck!

1After all, what could go wrong? ;-)

My Washing Machine Works

One more major appliance has yielded to my handyman skills.

I spent all Saturday night and most of Sunday draining the drum, removing the drain pump and motor assembly, and then re-installing everything, to have it work only some of the time,1 and even then, not for long. I was able to eliminate kinked hoses, the backflow ball valve, electrical connections, and the control computer as being the problem. In the process, I learned about a filter I should be periodically checking and why smart appliance repairpersons wear gloves.

I also learned Suzi is much smarter than I in locating parts. I looked online, drove three hours, and didn’t get the part. Following Suzi’s advice, I made two quick calls, drove 45 minutes, and came home with the part. Thanks, Suzi!

After work, I had the offending motor assembly removed and the new one installed in less than an hour. It even works. :-)

I think the dishwasher is calling my name.

1Intermittent bugs are the worst.