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VOLUMES 193 & 194 -------- JULY/AUGUST 2018

September 7, 2018

Another Labor Day gone bye bye!  I'm not sure we as a country honor our working men and women like we did when Ann and I first entered the world of work.  Seems to me, as our demographics have morphed from less manufacturing and manual labor jobs to more service and technical work, we, the general public, just don't show the appreciation and celebration as we used to.  I could spend hours and many words explaining how and why I think this is happening, but we'll save that for another day.  Have a lot of other stuff to cover for this edition anyway.  No shooting to write about this time.  I'll explain later.

I'll begin with my latest project first.  I now have the ability to take a laptop computer to the shop and access the internet for those things that I had to walk to the house for in the past.  In my case, the focus will be on obtaining online information and data related to my ammunition reloading and shooting activities.

I had previously tried a Netgear kit called the Powerline 1000 in an attempt to get an internet signal to my shop building using existing electrical wiring.  The kit consists of two small units, not much thicker than a deck of cards.  One unit plugs into a regular electrical outlet and connects to an existing router via a CAT5 Ethernet cable.  The other adapter then plugs into a second outlet and theoretically extends your internet signal via your electrical wiring to a device plugged into the second unit with another CAT5 cable.  The concept is great, but didn't work for my application.

In all fairness, the literature warns that using in locations where the wiring passes through a breaker or fuse box, and/or ends with a Ground Fault Interrupt circuit, may degrade the signal to the point it is unusable.  In my case, the shop is about 100 yards from the house, the wiring passes through two breaker boxes, and ends in GFI circuits.  No big surprise that it didn't work.  The units do extend a strong signal to any other outlet in the house but my Apple Airport Extreme router gives us a good wireless signal anywhere in the house anyway.  So that $70 experiment now resides in a storage drawer in the garage!

I had also toyed with the idea of installing an outdoor antenna to broadcast a wi-fi signal toward the shop.  Even though we live in a fairly isolated location, I really didn't want to widely broadcast my network signal outside the house.

Enter the world of Point to Point Ethernet Bridge.

I found that there are a number of suppliers of several brands of such bridges.  The concept is to beam a narrow signal from a source unit to a remote location in 'direct line of sight' where it is impossible or impractical to 'hardwire' the locations via fiber optic or Ethernet.  Some of the models tout the ability to beam their signal up to 10 miles!

I finally settled on a kit supplied by GNS wireless of Bayport, NY (www.GNSwireless.com) consisting of a pair of  LigoDLB 5-15ac antennas, CAT5 cables, mounting clamps, and two 'Power Over Ethernet' units.  A couple of phone conversations with Mike Giovelli at technical support, [(877) 209-5152] helped me determine that this solution should work for me.  In addition to the GNS-1163AC kit, I ordered two wall mounts that were recommended on the GNS website for my application.

This is not what I would call an inexpensive solution to getting internet to my shop.  Whether through GNS or other suppliers of equipment in this power range, your wallet will be around $400 lighter when you are finished.  So, while price was not a major factor, a
big selling point was the fact that the units in the GNS kit are already 'paired' and it's a true 'plug and play' situation!  Other suppliers of equipment like this give you instructions on setting up, but the user has to do most of the technical stuff.

While I do have the ability to blunder through setup processes that are sometimes necessary with this kind of digital gadgetry, including assigning proper IP addresses and handling encryption, having this already done was a plus. 
As I sometimes tell 'youngsters' who tend to assume that us old folks are completely technologically illiterate, "I may be old, but I ain't stupid!"

After ordering the Bridge Kit, I reminded myself of the kid awaiting Christmas morning to be able to open presents!  Finally, after only three decades, the FedEx man showed up on August 29th with my new toys!  Items in the package were clearly marked and labeled with the information needed to keep the units straight as to the 'sender and receiver' along with the IP addresses and other technical data that had been assigned to each unit.

Can I open it yet; Can I open it yet

The two units, cables, and wall mounting brackets

Up front, I want to say that the Bridge Kit ultimately performed exactly as billed.  It is truly a 'plug and play' solution to getting an internet connection to my shop, although there were a couple of bumps in the road to getting there.  First of all the mounting brackets, as designed, would not allow turning the antenna units the roughly 45 degrees required to get the correct alignment with the brackets attached to my outside walls.

As you can see, when mounted in the upright position with the temporary zip ties, the unit cannot swivel on the pipe

The only way to allow turning the units to the necessary angle would have been to invert the mounting brackets, and I didn't want to attach them upside down.

This would be the appearance if the mounting bracket were inverted

The second problem was the supplied mounting clamps were too long to tighten on the inch and a quarter upright pipes to secure the units
to the brackets.  (Had I ordered the more expensive mounting brackets, these problems would not have occurred.  Those are made of inch and a half pipe and have multiple ways to make adjustments, but they'll increase your budget about 50 bucks more than the ones I ordered.)

Here's how those problems were solved:

Two 6 inch sections of inch and a quarter plastic pipe slipped over and glued to the short uprights on the brackets, extended them to allow the antennas to mount high enough to clear the bracket base and turn to the angles needed to aim correctly.  Since there is about 8 to 10 feet elevation gain from the house to shop units, a small piece of plastic was inserted under the bottom clamp to slightly elevate the angle on the house source unit, and another in the top to slightly depress the angle on the shop receiver.

Not real purty, but it works great

I had previously connected cables and power supplies and tested the units in the house, with line of sight through doorways from office to garage.  There they worked perfectly.  Now that they were mounted on the buildings, another test was in order before drilling holes and properly routing the cables.  My guesses and estimates on declination and aiming were apparently 'right on.'  The indicator lights on both units showed full strength connectivity with no further adjustment needed!  YAY!!

The mount on the house.  The cable goes to the POE unit which then connects to the router

The shop building mount.  This cable goes to another POE unit and then to a laptop or whatever device is being connected

For now, I will simply plug my laptop into the LAN (Local Area Network) port on the POE (Power Over Ethernet) unit for my internet connection.  Later I may add a wireless router to the shop end, so as to have wi-fi throughout that building.  This would be convenient, but I understand that configuring two wireless routers on the same network can be rather tricky.

Initially I could not enter the units' control menus from my Macbook because the IP addresses assigned by GNS were not compatible with the IP on the laptop assigned by the Apple Router.  A temporary manual change to a compatible IP address on the computer gets me in.  I should note, the computer will not have an internet connection until the IP is changed back to the Router assigned one.

At this point I'll not worry about changing the user name and password for the units.  We are located in a remote area not frequented by a lot of traffic.  As the saying goes, "If you can't pee off your porch, the neighbors are too close," and I'm good with that!  With the narrow signal beam transmitted by the source unit the likelihood of anyone piggy backing on the service is extremely remote.

Overall the GNS provided equipment has been a very satisfactory solution to getting an internet connection to my shop building.

In the last newsletter, I wrote about my total knee replacement and how that was affecting my mobility and interfering with some home projects that needed doing around here.

One project included replacing the wall heater in the downstairs bathroom.  Of course I was unable to find a new heater, either in-store or online, that would fit the existing hole in the wall.  This made the project include: cut and fit new drywall, tape, mud, sand, and then paint the whole dang room.

In spite of ordering and receiving the new heater back in February, it was sometime in July before my new knee would tolerate getting down on the floor to do the work and then, most importantly, getting back up again.  (In the interim, we simply used a small plug-in heater sitting on the floor.) The new1000 watt wall heater was ordered from Mor Electric Heating in Comstock Park, MI. (www.morelectricheating.com)

After getting everything put together and wired, I turned on the thermostat to hear dead silence!  The fan on the old defunct unit was 'instant on' when the thermostat was activated so I went into humorist Pat McManus's 'Modified, Stationary, Panic' mode.  Didn't last long.  The new unit delays the fan until the heating element is up to temp, then delays shutdown until the element cools!  (This was made clear in the installation instructions, but you know men and instructions!)

The new wall heater in the bathroom.  Just in time to not be needed for several weeks

Our next project, one that had been on the to-do list for a long time, was fixing the kitchen light fixtures.  Our three kitchen fixtures were selected specifically by Little Heifer during our kitchen remodel several years ago, for their Oak frames and grids that match the cabinetry.  Losing the oak was not an option so replacing the fixtures was out!  It was obvious that some ballasts were weak and some of the T12 bulbs either wouldn't light or flickered constantly.

A couple of years ago, I replaced two T12 bulbs in one of the basement fixtures with T8 LED lamps that are direct wired to the power supply and require no ballast at all.  This was an option for the kitchen, but would be the more expensive way to go with the dozen bulbs required.

When all else fails, go to the internet.  I soon found specific wiring diagrams for converting four lamp T12 rapid start fixtures to a four lamp T8 instant start system.  The T8's can be either LED or regular lamps.  However, if you go with LED, they cannot be the 'direct wired' kind.

The first step is to cut the wires and remove the two magnetic ballasts from each fixture.  The two ballasts are replaced by one instant start ballast designed for four T8 bulbs.  I won't bore you with details, but the wiring simply converts the existing non-shunted lamp holders (often called tombstones) to shunted holders with common power wires and two circuits, one for each pair of lamps.  While this solution was a bit less expensive than putting in LED direct wire bulbs, the tab was still a bit over $200.

I also replaced the plastic inserts as the old ones were becoming yellowed.  The kitchen is now REALLY BRIGHT!

Lights off

Lights on

Granddaughter Jennifer's 22nd birthday was July 31st.  She stayed in her apartment in Pullman at WSU this summer and worked two jobs to help accumulate the $$ to finish the one semester she has left in order to complete the credits needed to graduate in December.  Her work schedules conflicted a bit with travel plans, so she wasn't able to get home for a birthday celebration until August 10th.

Ann, Jennifer, and Rick before the festivities

Nice pile of loot

A handful of $100 bills in a card may put a funny look on someone's face

The Goodies

Come on Worm, there are only two candles

A few hours after this mid-day gift opening and a cupcake snack, we trekked to Red Robin at Spokane Valley Mall.  (Her choice)

Jennifer and Dad awaiting those burgers

To update on our upcoming hunting seasons, Ann, Rick, and I all entered drawings for limited issue big game tags; Moose, Elk, and Second Deer.  No one drew Elk or Moose, but we all three drew a second deer tag.  The second tag is good for antlerless deer only.  This means, if we fill all six tags, Union Gospel Mission and/or Washington's Hunters for the Hungry will get several pounds of meat.

Filling the tags here at home should be easy for a couple of reasons:  One, the dang whitetail deer are thick as fleas here at the ranch, and two, being old farts, Ann and I can shoot all antlerless deer if we want.  Early modern firearm whitetail season in our GMU runs October 13 through 26, and the 'late' season is November 10 through 19.

Our second, and final, trip of the year with the Wheelin' Elks RV Club included an overnight stay at Boardman RV Park in Boardman, Oregon en route to Tillamook.  Arrival in Tillamook on July 10th had about a dozen rigs checking in to the Elks Lodge RV Park about 5 miles south of town.

Activities during the week included a golf outing, tour of the Tillamook Dairy Visitor Center, group dinner at the Tillamook Elks Lodge #1437, Potluck dinner, sightseeing, and a lot of visiting.  Most everyone began the return trip home on Saturday or Sunday.  Ann and I left Saturday morning with intentions of overnighting about half way home.  We stopped at the Yakima Elks Lodge, and finding vacancies in their RV parking, overnighted there.

The Tillamook Elks campground is sited on 17 acres of rolling land, with facilities for horseshoes, bar-b-q's, and an enclosed gazebo for group gatherings.  This is an excellent location amid many popular tourist attractions.  They have full hookups, the prices are very reasonable and the park is open to Elks Members and guests only.  The park was full with some overflow 'dry camping' nearly every night during our stay, so if you go make reservations well in advance.

Here were some of our activities:

First the golf outing.  Eight of us played the Alderbrook Golf Course a few miles north of Tillamook.  A very interesting layout to say the least.

Gene putting while Kathy and Ann look on

One of the more interesting holes.  Looks steep at this angle from the tee box

Looks even steeper from the green.  The other Elks foursome following us, look like ants from here

One afternoon Ann and I ventured up the coast to sight-see a bit.  I hadn't been to the Oregon Coast since a couple of activities in Newport when I was still working.  Ann had not been there at all.

Ann at a popular lookout point

Just thought this made an interesting photo

This one too

This is the Elks Campground.

The gazebo where we gathered each evening

Everything from tent trailers to the big rigs

This guy greets you as you pull in

While talking about Oregon, you may recall that I reported receiving my non-resident Oregon Concealed Carry Permit just prior to posting my last newsletter.  While re-organizing my wallet the other day, I noticed that there is an error on the issue date on my card.  The issue date is listed as 2022, the same as the expiration date.  I need to contact the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office to find out what I need to do to get it corrected.

As I reported last newsletter, I began playing golf on my new knee on May 1st and have played pretty regularly twice a week since.  In spite of all that 'practice' my game tends to not improve at all!  I'm still riding a power cart instead of walking the course, claiming my knee as the reason, but it may just be pure laziness!

Walking the course at my regular venue, The Links Golf Club in Post Falls, Idaho, (www.golfthelinks.net) requires a trek of 7,400 yards, or 4+ miles.  Of course my partners and I play from the Senior tees which shortens the play to about 5700 yards.  But, you still have to traverse the whole course to get there!

To make a long story longer, I'm not sure my knee is doing as well as it should be.  I have friends who have had knees replaced and were beyond the swelling and stiffness I still experience much sooner than I.  We'll give it another few months and see where we go from there.

I did give the knee a good workout in Wallace, Idaho on August 18th.  Ann, Rick, and I have taken in the Huckleberry Festival in Wallace for many years now.  We take our trailers to the Wallace RV Park and spend the weekend eating too much and taking in the festivities.  One 'festivity' is a 5K run/walk on Saturday morning.  I skipped the 5K last year because of the bad 'real' knee, but decided to give it a try again this year along with Ann and Rick.

Ann won the gold medal for her age group, Rick didn't place this year, and I ambled along the entire course, finishing dead last by a good 10 minutes or so.  I still won a silver medal because there was only one other guy in the 'very old farts' group!  The knee survived the trip with only minor problems.

Rick and Ann befroe the start of the race

Ann and I with our 'hard won' medals

As reported by National News Media, the Northwest and California have been burning up with wildfires.  We had one small one about 4 or 5 miles to the north and west of us, but nothing real close.  We did have a scare though, as the above mentioned fire was initially reported on Ann's Facebook page at Muzzy Road and Osprey Lane.  That is just a mile down the road, and prompted a quick investigation, but the report turned out to be false.  Social Media, you know!

The fire danger is far from over however.  We have had only one measurable rainfall since June and that only amounted to a few hundredths of an inch.  I have lawn sprinklers on the roof of the house, and we have a 'go bag' ready in the gun safe with birth certificates, passports, and a few valuables in case we have to get out quick.

Currently there is a burn ban for outdoor fires of any kind and no target shooting allowed either!  If we have our normal fall rainy season, the danger should be over soon.  We hope so!

This month's hillbilly wisdom is a quote from John Wooden:

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be!"

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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