Monthly Archives: February 2019

How To Fix Your Refrigerator or Freezer Quickly and Cheaply

So you bought a cheap fridge or freezer at WalMart, did ya?  Or maybe your old fridge or freezer  conked out.  The first thing that comes to mind is “THE COMPRESSOR IS OUT”!  A scary thought indeed.  And you think that because you don’t hear the compressor noise and nothing is cooling anymore.

Compressors are pretty robust devices.  They do fail, they sure do, but many times one of the components that connect to the compressor fail causing the compressor not to start.   There are three components hooked up to a common refrigerator or freezer compressor.

  • Motor Starting Relay
  • Starting Capacitor (and possibly a run capacitor)
  • Overload Protector

Continue reading

Power Monitoring To Find What’s Costing You Money!

In the interest of being good stewards of the planet AND saving money it’s a good idea to keep an eye on energy consumption.  But how?  You’ve probably seen commercials for Sense Energy Monitors but that seems kind of extreme to me. Also it has a learning algorithm that takes MONTHS to work and some items never get properly identified.

I’m taking the ONE AT A TIME approach by using simple outlets that can be used for single applications.   Introducing the Sonoff S31

Very cool and also reasonably inexpensive. These work right out of the box and link to an app called EWELink.

Just for the record I think EWELink is CRAP.

Also this is Cloud based and the Cloud lands in China somewhere which really doesn’t appeal to me at all.  So we’re going to flash this device with Tasmota firmware and no more talky talky to China.

Continue reading

Appliances Rant !

Appliances.  We all need ’em. I’m all about high tech but there are some things that just don’t need to be high tech.  Things like refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, and hot water heaters should last for DECADES, not a few years.

Seems like there has been a rash of throw away appliances the last few years.  I have several friends who bought fancy washers and dryers with computers onboard that dropped dead after a few years with expensive repairs needed to get going again.

Meanwhile my washer and dryer that I bought in 2003 is still going strong with minimal repairs WHICH I DID MYSELF.  If a washer has a tub, bearing, motor and timer switch it’s pretty easy to fix.  If it is computer controlled with several boards under the hood……..you need specific training to fix it.

AND YOU NEED THE MANUALS!  I can’t stress enough how important it is to have access to the repair manuals. There are many parts web sites online that have complete Parts Breakdown and Service manuals.  Also from those same pages you can order the parts you need.  Old reliable appliances had SPARE PARTS made in droves.

Continue reading

Hacking Unknown 2 Channel Relay With Tasmota

In my quest for the perfect low voltage or dry contact garage door relay I stumbled across this one that I found on Amazon

Seems like it might have been made by ITead because it came programmed with EWELink software.  Having said that I cannot find it on their website and I also thought it might be a Sonoff brand name.   I still think it is ITead but I just can’t prove it.

Continue reading

Sonoff SV for Garage Door Opener

I was using a Sonoff 4 Channel Pro relay in my “Smart Garage Door” project however it was big time overkill.  I only need one relay to pull this off.   In addition to this I was using a NodeMCU ESP8266 to act separately as the garage door sensor.   So in essence I had:

  • Spare Remote Control (for Security 2.0 garage door opener)
  • Sonoff 4 Channel Pro Relay
  • NodeMCU ESP8266 Chip for Door sensor

Now I have

  • Spare Remote Control
  • Sonoff SV

Continue reading

Flashing Single Channel Inching Relay (Sonoff?) With Tasmota

Decided to put a smaller, single channel relay in my Garage Door project. I ordered what I believe is an ITead Sonoff Inching Relay.

This module is preloaded with software and you can use an iPhone to trigger the relay using an app called EweLink

Basically you start the chip up, connect to its WiFi network and configure it to yours.

 

Continue reading

IPsec VPN on pfSense to replace OpenVPN Connect on IOS

My OpenVPN Connect app on my iPhone just quit working.  This is how I kicked its ass.

I have been a big fan of Virtual Private Networks for YEARS.  If you are on an untrusted connection such as Airport or Hotel or Coffee Shop the safe play is to connect to a VPN which encrypts your communications in a tunnel between your computer and your VPN server.  It wildly increases security.

So for years I have run an OpenVPN server on my hardwire firewall which runs an OS called pfSense.   If you have any inkling of security at all you should run a hardware firewall.  But that is a discussion for another day.  Anyway pfSense has an easy configuration for OpenVPN with a client export feature that is second to none.

However, the IOS OpenVPN app JUST QUIT WORKING.  I can connect to my VPN but traffic doesn’t seem to move.  I can’t do anything with it at all.  So I hit the OpenVPN IOS forum and sure enough……..this is a thing.  Since October 2018 as well!  To confirm this is the problem I can connect to my OpenVPN server JUST FINE with my iPads which have the older app.

Continue reading

Making a simple door sensor from ESP8266

You see all these Home Security systems being advertised all the time and they all have one gotcha.  Some kind of charge every month.  Why not just make your own?  Also it costs PENNIES on the dollar compared to some of those others.

One of the biggest components of home security is knowing the state of windows and doors. And that is very simple to obtain and with INEXPENSIVE hardware.  This guy is the backbone to this project:

This is a NodeMCU ESP8266 Internet of Things (IoT) chip.  Translation:  It’s a little teeny tiny small board computer with a wifi antenna on it.

You can get ESP8266 devices WAY cheaper than this even though this guy only costs $9 or so.   A couple of things I like about it are that it has a Micro USB input connector on it and the legs are already soldered on.

Continue reading