Xplornet woes

This is my first post from my phone. The reason being is our internet is down.

Had Xplornet out yesterday to upgrade our service from the old Detour Wireless system to their new LTE system. The technician said the signal is too weak and left things as is. I paid them the $40 service call fee.

After he left I tried to use the internet and found we had no service at all. I did some tests – rebooted the router, power cycled the modem, even plugged the cable directly into the computer to bypass the router. Nothing worked.

I talked to both the installer, LB Communications and Xplornet who referred me to their tech support which just happens to be the old Detour Wireless guy.

I haven’t heard back from them yet, but I’m hopeful that Detour will get us up and running. They were always good in the past.

We will see how this unfolds. But posts might be few and far between for a day or so.

Update: Friday, July 30th. We’ve had no internet for 4 days now. Contacted Xplornet for the 4th time this week. Their service contractor, Detour Wireless is not responding to requests for service. Left them 4 messages this week too. Xplornet says they cannot send anyone other than Detour to service the old Detour equipment. They did offer me a one month credit on my August bill. That helps but what I really want is service not a credit.

For now, I can set up a wifi hotspot and we can use my phone’s data plan. It works, but it’s not very fast and I will use up my monthly data in a few days. If Detour doesn’t respond by Tuesday (why does everything go south on a long weekend?) I’ll be looking for other alternatives but there’s not much out there.

Cowboy Shoot at Decew GC

Today was the first Cowboy action shoot since the Province imposed lockdowns back in April, effectively closing most gun clubs and many outdoor activities. As we are now allowed limited activities, the Decew Gun Club scheduled a Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) match today, July 25, 2021. The match was limited to 15 participants and two of us from the Dunnville club were able to attend.

Last September, I had the opportunity to shoot CAS at Decew GC for the first time so I was excited to return.

My goal today was to improve on my times from last year while concentrating on accuracy over speed. I accomplished that with all 4 stages shot “clean” except for one procedural penalty on Stage 2 when I shot a target out of sequence. The procedural penalty hurts as it comes with a 10 second penalty. But considering that I incurred no other penalties for missed targets, I felt pretty good. At the end of the day, even with the procedural penalty I had taken 53 seconds off my time from my first match last year.

As always, I want to do better, but today showed definite progress.

The Posse at Decew are a well organized and welcoming bunch. If you want to know more about Cowboy Action Shooting, check out these websites:

Raspberry Pi 400

A few weeks ago I bought a Raspberry Pi 400. The Raspberry Pi is a Single Board Computer (SBC) that comes in a variety of flavours. The 400 is basically a Raspberry Pi 4B built into a keyboard.

Raspberry Pi 400

For what it costs (CDN $134.95) it is an impressive bit of technology. Here’s some specs:

ProcessorBroadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72
(ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.8GHz
RAM4GB LPDDR4-3200
ConnectivityDual-band (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz) IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac
wireless LAN, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
Gigabit Ethernet
2 × USB 3.0 and 1 × USB 2.0 ports
GPIOHorizontal 40-pin GPIO header 
Video & sound2 × micro HDMI ports (supports up to 4Kp60)
MultimediaH.265 (4Kp60 decode);
H.264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode);
OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics
SD card supportMicroSD card slot for operating system and data storage
Keyboard78 key compact keyboard, US Keyboard Layout
Power5V DC via USB connector
Operating temperature0°C to +50°C
Dimensions286 mm × 122 mm × 23 mm (maximum)

The Pi runs a version of Linux called Raspberry Pi OS which is based on the Debian distribution. Learning Linux wasn’t too bad once you catch on to the way things are done, which is different from Windows.

My rationale for buying the Pi was that I needed a dedicated computer to run my PROVer 3018 CNC machine. My original intent was to use the Pi, but because it requires a monitor I found it easier to just move my Windows 10 laptop to the workshop.

My Raspberry Pi 400 has now replaced my Windows 10 laptop as my everyday computer. So far it has handled every task I’ve given it: web browsing, email, spreadsheets, word processing and presentations. The Pi OS comes with LibreOffice software which does everything that Microsoft Office does, is fully compatible with MS Office and costs exactly $0.00

Component Kit for Raspberry Pi

All Pi’s come with a set of I/O pins. The Pi 400 has 40 pin I/O which can be programmed using Python. I bought a component kit which includes an assortment of resistors, LEDs, switches, etc which you can control from the PI using Python.

I have so much more to say about this amazing machine. So I’m sure there will be more posts about it in the future.

If you’re interested in a Raspberry Pi, I purchased mine from BuyaPi.ca and I highly recommend them. Their customer service was great.

Hardtop preventive maintenance

Occasionally I have a problem operating the hardtop on my 328i convertible. This has happened the last 2 years in a row at the beginning of the summer driving season. Last year we got stuck in town with the top half way down and it refused to move the rest of the way. It also refused to go back up! Not a situation I want to be in again.

I suspect the problem has to do with lack of operation over the winter months and things just getting “stuck” and not wanting to move. Because once I get it to operate, it seems to be fine.

The other day I found a well written guide on how to properly lubricate and maintain the hardtop on the BMW E93’s . The author recommends doing this every 40-50 operations. I’ve never done it in the 5 1/2 years that I’ve owned the car, so it was time!

I have now lubricated every bearing, bushing, slider and moving part in the roof mechanism with white lithium grease as directed in the guide. Time will tell if this eliminates any future problems, but I’m hopeful that it will.

In the meantime, I can drive my car with renewed confidence that the roof will operate when I need it to.

Cart for Cowboy Action

In the fall of 2020, I was introduced to Cowboy Action Shooting by a friend who invited me to attend a match at Decew Gun Club. I believed that I was going to just observe the match and learn about the sport. Well, the posse welcomed me with open arms and soon I found myself all geared up and ready to shoot! I shot the whole match and I was hooked!

Any cowboy shooter worth his or her salt has their own cart to haul all their stuff to matches. I had seen a few carts at the match at Decew and researched on the interwebs to learn more. I came up with a design I liked and in December I set out to build my cart.

My finished Cowboy Action Shooting cart.

The cart is constructed mostly of select pine with a piece of oak plywood for the floor. The cart will hold 2 SASS approved shotguns as well as 2 rifles. The storage box is a separate unit and will hold enough ammo for a match as well as my revolvers and their holsters.

The cart itself knocks down into two pieces for easier transport by simply unscrewing the bolts that connect the uprights to the base (by the wheels).

I had fun building it and I learned a few things along the way. If you would like to read a detailed description of the construction of my cart, you can download this PDF file.

Thanks for visiting!

Workshop Make-over

This will be the first of what I will call “retro-posts” because they are about something that’s not current. But the website is new and I want to cover a few things from the recent past.

In January of this year (2021) the powers that be in Ontario decided to confine everyone to their homes, a.k.a. a “lockdown” due to Covid-19. I decided to take advantage of the time to fix up my long neglected basement workshop.

I had built a gun cart for my new hobby of Cowboy Action Shooting in December and the shortfalls of my workshop became very apparent.

I had the components of a dust collection system that I had gotten from my Dad. It had been laying in the shop for years, unused. I had all the pipes, gates and fittings and I ran them to my various tools.

But I needed a vacuum source! I considered using our Central Vac system, but in the end I opted for a stand alone system utilizing my old shop-vac for suction.

Shop-Vac for dust collection

Once again, YouTube came to the rescue and I found a design that would work well with the equipment I had while not breaking the bank. A cyclone separator from Amazon and a 5 gallon bucket from Home Hardware capture 99% of the dust and keep the shop-vac empty and its filter clean.

Connecting the Dust Collection system to my table saw

In order to connect the dust collection system to my table saw, I added 5 panels to enclose the lower portion of the saw. Some fittings from Lee Valley allow for quick connection of a vacuum hose when using the saw.

The next thing I wanted to do was to add an extension to my table saw to accommodate bigger pieces. My first attempt was to stick a workmate at the side of the table with a makeshift platform level with the saw top. The workmate was being used to mount my router table, so that presented another issue.

So I decided to build a new table for my router. Here’s a photo of the end result.

Router table with scissor jack and dust collection

Table construction was simple 2×2, 2×4 and 3/4 inch plywood. I got some ideas off of YouTube and added a scissor jack to raise and lower the router. It actually works pretty good! I also added a switch and double outlet to make it easier to turn the router off and on. I can plug in a light on the second outlet so it comes on and off with the router.

Back to the table saw. In addition to the extension, I wanted to add a push-off table to extend the table in the direction that you push the wood through. Again, this makes it easier to cut larger pieces.

Push-off table under construction

In the photo above, you can see the workmate (at right) that was my first extension and the frame for the push-off table. I found a 3D design program called Sketchup that I used to design the push-off table. It wasn’t necessary, but I enjoyed learning how to use it.

Table saw with extension and push-off table

I still had the old kitchen counter tops that we had replaced the previous year – I knew I kept them for some reason! I cut them up to form the tops of the tables. They make a really nice smooth surface!

Notice in the photo that the original extension has been replaced. I liked the push-off table so much I built a new extension in a similar manner. And I just happened to have a piece of counter top with a 45 deg corner!

Extension table with drawers

I had saved some old drawers from a dresser from my Mom & Dad’s place. The original veneer was peeling off so I removed it all, but I saved the original handles. These drawers added some storage to the extension table. Laminate floor boards were cut to cover the face of the table and also for the edge around the table-top.

Table Saw with extension table finished

A little varnish to the drawer fronts and it’s done!

Speaking of storage – that’s always a problem in a workshop! While surfing YouTube videos I learned about as system called French cleats. It looked easy to make and seemed to work well. The best thing about French cleats is you can rearrange your storage at any time because nothing is mounted permanently, except for the wall cleat.

Hand made toolbox mounted with French cleats

Just grab and lift and whatever is mounted on the French cleat comes right off when you want to use it. And it can go back anywhere there’s space on the cleat system.

Saw rack on French Cleats

That about covers what I did to my workshop in January during the lockdown. I’m really happy with the result and I have a nice little shop to work on projects.