Sunday, July 28, 2013

Found a Great New Project Vehicle, 1968 AMC Rambler American

Hi All,

Take a look at this great 1968 AMC Rambler American car for sale. This car would make an awesome restoration or better yet a super fast sleeper. It is located in the Albuquerque, New Mexico which is known for their rust free cars! I was going to buy it but I couldn't make it happen. Take a look at this car on Craigslist.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fix your Home A/C for $35.00, Bad Motor Run Capacitor

Hi All,

It happened again! My home air conditioning stopped working at 4:00am last night in the middle of one of the hottest summers in the desert Southwest! I had visions of $300 - $500 repair bills dancing in my head. The first time my A/C stopped working was due to bad bearings in the condenser fan motor. I figures this out by listening to what I couldn't hear and it was the fan motor turning on. The symptom was the A/C starting and then stopping.

Last night the A/C was running but was luke warm at best. I once again went out to the condenser and listened to what I couldn’t hear and it was the loud refrigerator noise that comes from the compressor/condenser. I did a quick google search and found a forum that talked about a bad motor run capacitor for the condenser. I took the cover off of the condenser motor/fan unit located outdoors and started looking for the capacitor. I of course pulled the quick disconnect power plug that runs four lines of 125VAC to the unit and verified with my voltmeter that I had zero voltage at the four lines. Here is a picture of the capacitor as it looked in the unit.

Bad Motor Run Capacitor for a Heil A/C Condenser

I also built and repaired a lot of computers in the past and one of the most common motherboard failures is a blown capacitor or two. Corrosion and a bulged top are dead give-aways to a bad capacitor. I must admit that I almost gave up and called a repair person but I started going through troubleshooting and my thinking was that the freon leaked out but I didn't think that was likely since the A/C was just working last night. The fear of a $500 repair bill forced me into doing more google research. A big thank you to the local Summit Electric who were able to locate me a replacement capacitor! Here is a picture of the old capacitor compared to the new capacitor.

New Capacitor compared to the old Capacitor.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to Repair your A/C on your Subaru Impreza 2002

Hi All,

I just repaired my air conditioner, A/C, on my 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport for $5 plus freon for a total of $30. I read a few other articles about how robust most A/C system are and that the problem is usually a leaking o-ring at either one of the compressor fittings. I was able to purchase a universal A/C o-ring kit at the local Autozone for $5 and then a new bottle of R134A. I already had the hose with gauge on it so I was able to save a few dollars on a bottle of freon without the hose. Here is a picture of my A/C and where the two fittings are located.

2002 Subaru Impreza A/C Compressor

Subaru High Side A/C fitting

Subaru Impreza A/C Fitting- Low

First things first, I knew my A/C was empty because I charged it last summer and it was down to nothing. I also attached my freon can with hose to take a reading and it showed the goose egg for pressure. I carefully proceeded to remove the first fitting on top of my compressor. As soon as the fitting was loose I knew that one was my culprit. The fitting fit the housing very loosely which is a sign of the o-ring not doing its job. Here is a nice close-up picture of the old o-rings with the new o-rings to see the difference. The old o-rings dried up, shrunk, and turned to a hard plastic.

Subaru A/C O-rings, Old versus New (green)

The A/C now works good. I think it works a little weird but I believe it is because I needed to vacuum evacuate the system before filling it. There are probably a few air bubbles in there but it works great for me and only cost $30. I read that a shop can re-evacuate and refill for $100. I am good with how it works right now for my 11 year old car.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Subaru Impreza Outback Sport Rear Strut Tower Brace

I just purchased a rear strut tower brace for my 2002 Subaru Impreza and had it installed in 15 minutes. I won it from eBay using a best offer of $28 with free shipping. I figured it was worth a try for less than $30 bucks.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport upgraded Rear Sway Bar to 17mm WRX Bar

Hi All,

I just performed one of the easiest and cheapest upgrades to my 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport. I read on some other forums that a simple upgrade that you can really feel is by adding or upgrading the rear sway bar. My Outback Sport came with a measly 13mm rear sway bar. I found a 2002 WRX 17mm rear sway bar for $40 on Craigslist. I know that some of the WRX's have the 20mm rear bar but that same forum said that the 17mm was good because it still allowed full use of the AWD system without adding too much rear axle stiffness. I am not sure about that but I do know that going from 13mm to 17mm, a 31% improvement, was something that I easily felt.

The upgrade was really easy. I raised the drivers side rear and then started loosening the sway bar bolts. There were (4) total, (2) on the frame and (1) each on the lower control arm end links. None of the bolts were loaded ad the sway bar came off easily. I did have to remove the muffler from the rubber hangers to allow the old and new sway bars to be removed/installed. That allowed the muffler to hang a little lower that gave me the clearance I needed. Check out the pictures of the installed sway bar and the old one for comparison.

2002 Impreza with 17mm WRX Rear Sway Bar

Subaru 13mm to 17mm Rear Sway Bar Comparison

2002 Subaru Outback Sport with WRX 17mm Rear Sway Bar

Subaru Impreza Outback Sport with Pontiac Grand Am Gt Wheels

Hi All,

Here is my 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport with some crazy Pontiac Grand Am Gt wheels on it. I got a great deal on them from Craigslist. They came with some really nice Falken tires. Apparently most 16" front wheel drive wheels with the 5 x 100mm hole pattern will fit the Subaru Impreza's. I did get the center caps with the wheels but I need the threaded-end lug nuts to make them work. Check out my pictures:
2002 Subaru Impreza w/ Grand Am Gt Wheels

2002 Impreza OBS with Pontiac 5 x 100mm Wheels

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Common Terminal Commands for your Raspberry Pi

Here is a quick list of the common terminal commands for the Raspberry Pi (RPi). If no one else uses this list, then I know that I will use it a lot. Here it goes:

  • sudo raspi-config       This command is used to access a frequently visited set up screen for your RPi.
  • sudo nano /boot/config.txt      This command is used to access and edit the boot configuration file of your RPi.
  • sudo reboot      This command is used to reboot your RPi from the terminal window.
  • /opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd measure_temp     This command is used to check your CPU temperature.
  • cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq     This command is used to check your current CPU frequency.
  • vcgencmd get_config arm_freq      This command checks your current CPU frequency setting.
I will add more as I need and use them. I hope this helps.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    How to Fix Raspberry Pi HDMi to DVI Issue

    Hi All,

    So I have been having some fun with my Raspberry Pi (RPi) lately. I've been doing a lot of hands-on learning with it which is exactly what it was designed for. My first real problem with my RPi was to get it to work on a DVI-D computer monitor. The RPi works great with a straight HDMI connection to my LCD TV but I don't think the family wants me hogging the only LCD TV we have in the house with my mini computer. I also got it to work on old RCA input tube TV's. I even got a little 7" LCD TFT screen from eBay to work with it although the resolution is pretty bad especially on the tube TV. My first extra purchase was a DVI-D to HDMI 3 foot cable. This would have hopefully converted my DVI-D signal from my DVI-D monitor (monitor must be DVI-D) to the HDMI input of the RPi. I got it for $3.88 from eBay with free shipping from Utah. When it arrived I was very excited for about 5 minutes until I realized it didn't work. I actually went to Walmart that night to look for a cheap HDMI TV so I could work on my RPi without squinting at an old TV screen. Since I'm on a tight budget I did not buy one. I went home and started doing more research on the HDMI to DVI-D thing and it looked like it have been an issue for lots of people. Luckily it was a really simple solution that I was able to fix by editing the config.txt file. Here are the commands I used to do this. I had to do this while using the RCA video outputs in a terminal window.

    • sudo nano /boot/config.txt
    • add the following line or remove block (hashtag, #): hdmi_force_hotplug=1
    When you are done editing do the following:
    • press control & x
    • press y
    • press enter
     When you exiting the editor, restart your RPi using the following command
    • sudo reboot

    Once my RPi rebooted, I removed the RCA input and plugged in the HDMI cable and to my joy it booted up to my 20" LCD PC monitor.

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    My latest project, the $35 Raspberry Pi, HDMI Capable Computer

    I have an admission to make, for the last few years I have secretly becoming a computer geek! I got into building computers and messing around with Linux operating systems a while ago and lately I have been getting back into again. Most recently I came across this great piece of hardware, the Raspberry Pi (RPi), which is actually a computer with HDMI, Ethernet, USB, RCA, and Audio ports and more for only $35.00!! I was blown away at how small and affordable this board was so I had to have one. I just recently got mine in the mail along with a power supply and case for $55.00 shipped. Here are some pictures of it.

    My Raspberry Pi from MCM Electronics

    Raspberry Pi top view

    Raspberry Pi with case

    Raspberry Pi bottom view
    I also bought heat sinks to go on the processors and a power transistor. I got the heat sinks shipped to me from a US vendor for only $7.99 with free shipping. The heat sinks also came with the thermal adhesive on it for easy mounting. Here are some pictures of the heat sinks installed.

    Raspberry Pi with three aluminum heatsinks in case
    In order for the RPi to run you need to load an image file to an SD card which acts as its hard drive. There are many to choose from that have many purposes. I wanted to try it out as a small PC so I found a copy of Bodhi Enlightenment that was written specially for the RPi. It is a super bare bones version of Linux that works right out of the starting gate for me. I need more time to set things up and add more cool items to my $35 computer. Well more like $60 computer when you add up all the little things that go into it. Here is a picture:

    Bodhi Linux on my Raspberry Pi (RPi)