Friday, January 11, 2013

The snow globe gets another shake

Just when the daily temperatures were reaching highs in the 50s and the last remaining patches of snow/ice had melted, another storm comes rolling in.

This time it has a name, Gandolf.

Why on earth are we naming winter storms? I do not recall ever seeing a winter storm with a name before. I think the weather forecasters are simply getting bored. Maybe they are getting jealous of the hurricane people, either way I think it is dumb. Sure it is a major blizzard with very very cold temperatures but it isn't much different then any previous winter storm we have had. Instead of coming up with dumb ideas, they should be out there shoveling snow.

Fortunately the storm arrives right on time to ruin the weekend, as usual. Thankfully I am not doing anything of importance outside this weekend.

My plan for the storm is to sit by the pellet stove and drink Earl Grey tea.

Did you know that Earl Grey tea is actually named after an Earl named Grey. The second Earl Grey was presented the tea by diplomats from the East and he decided to have it made locally. The same recipe has been used since like 1706. Either way it is tasty.

I fly to the Virgin Islands this coming Wednesday and will be there for two weeks. I would imagine that I will miss the deadline for the monthly financial post since I arrive at midnight on the last day of the month but I will try to get it out as soon as I can. I am not looking forward to seeing the bill for this vacation.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Van Projects - Gauges

In my quest to seek consistent performance from my westy, I have started adding additional gauges to monitor the engine.

First, I added a fuel pressure gauge and now I have an O2 sensor gauge.


I built this for less then $5, most of which was the cost of buying LEDs from Radioshack. The LED driver and voltage regulator came as free samples from TI and the rest of the parts I had in my electronics bin.

I am looking forward to mounting, perhaps inside the ash tray or below the dash. I know that it doesn't look as nice as the $25 sunpro gauge but it was one fifth the price and I got to build it. Maybe I can build a nice wood case for it to live in.

Currently it is set in Bar mode which will illuminate the LEDs from left to right. This corresponds to voltage output by the Oxygen sensor (signal wire is yellow). Green LEDs should be around a 15:1 mixture ratio which is ideal running conditions. Any LEDs to the right mean a rich running condition and any to the left mean lean running.

You may be wondering why I would want to know what the mixture ratio is, well, it can tell me a number of things about how the engine is responding to certain driving situations as well as letting me know that the sensor is actually working (I replaced this early in 2012 so it should be good).

I need to test it out on another car first to ensure that it is accurate and then install it into the van.

I might add an additional LED to this board to tell me when the throttle switch is open or closed.

FYI: I was following this site for the build http://www.scirocco.org/tech/misc/afgauge/af.html