Friday 27 February 2015

Makita 18v LXT Battery - Repair Eight Months On

This post is just a quick update.  Its been about eight months since I repaired my first Makita Li-lon batteries.  I have been careful to let repaired batteries to cool down fully before charging and where ever possible not to fully discharge them but so far there have been no failures of any of the repaired ones.  

I have however had a couple more batteries fail, as an experiment I sent them to the Makita Service Centre. Even though they were out of warranty, one by a couple of month and one by nearly a year, they sent me replacement within a couple of days at no charge.  I future this will be my first port of call and only if this fails will I attempt to repair them myself.

I do however have several failed battery packs that I had already taken apart with the intention of repair, so are not candidates for sending to Makita.  Due to being unable to source replacement control boards, i had put these to one side and had even concidered using the good cells for another project. Thankfully I once again have a supplier of them who has stock and have ordered several, so will soon be back repairing batteries.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Hakko FX-888D Soldering Station - First Impressions

Whilst I have used soldering stations at work etc, up until now I have made do with just standard plugin irons at home with varying degrees of success.  As I have started to do more electronics of late I decided it was time to purchase a soldering station for use at home and maybe take to fizzPOP.

Having decided to purchase a soldering station, I have spent the last few months reading many blog's and watched many YouTube videos trying to make my mind up on what soldering station to buy.  I quickly discounted the cheaper options from the likes of Maplin but equally decided it was not worth spending a fortune on features I was never going to benefit from.  In the end I decided my budget was £100 - £150 pounds.  For which I was looking for a 50w iron, with a 200c to 450c temperature range and with separate iron tips and heater element.

I soon narrowed my search to either the Hakko FX-888D or the Weller WES51.  I had at first wanted to go with the Hakko FX-888 as I prefer an analogue knob for temperature control but unfortunately it has been discontinued.  I was drawn to the Weller WES51 because it had analogue control but in the end I have opted for the 888D mainly due to its slightly higher power at 65w and its all round great review online.

The next problem was finding someone who sold it, which was a lot harder than I expected.  A quick search on eBay found them available for around £65 pounds which seemed a bit too good to be true and like most things that seem too good too be true it was.  It would appear that there is a real problem on the market with counterfeit Hakko equipment. In the end I emailed Hakko and they sent me the details of there two UK resellers, Grosvenor Group and Dancap Electronics.

Neither site left me with much of a urge to contact them. Grosvenor seemed to be aimed at much larger clients and had no pricing and the Dancap site looked as though it was styled 20 years ago.  Despite the basic styling I ended up contacting Dancap and was really glad I did, the customer service was excellent and Paul was happy to talk through options and make suggestions.  The only slightly odd thing for this day and age was that they don't accept credit card or Paypal so I ended up paying by bank transfer.  In the end I spent £144.52 on the solder station, iron, a few tips and delivery,  which was at the upper end of my budget but for once still within.  My order arrived the next day and was very well packaged.  I am certainly happy to recommend Dancap and I am sure I will order from them again in the future myself.

So what do I think of my new purchase, Well so far all I have had time to do is unpack and check it heats up but things are looking promising.  The iron feels nicely balanced in the hand and I really like the way the iron sits in the stand.  The overall build quality seems to be very good but only time will tell, as soon as I get around to using it I will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Nest Thermostat - Wifi Woes

Something I have not hidden is that I am a big fan of the Nest learning thermostat. I purchased one on the first day they were available in the UK and soon after became an authorised installer. Up until recently all had been good, I was saving money and my house was more comfortable to be in but late last year they issued a software update and for a short while all was good.  Soon I noticed that on occasion one or more of my nests were dropping off the network and showing off line.  Sometimes after a few days they would come back on there own, other time  I would have to restart them. On a few occasions even this did not work so I had to reset the networking on them or even in two extreme cases restore the unit to factory defaults.

Out of exasperation I finally made contact with Nest support and as always they tried to say the issue was with my router. Finally after a lot of backwards and forwards with support they have admitted that there is an issue with wifi, on these devices.  Solution? Well at the moment there isn't one although they have suggested they are working on one.

In the mean time there is a work around, remove the nest from the stand or wall and reset it by holding in the button (or to be more accurate push in the back) for 10 seconds or until the screen goes black and then put it back on the stand.  It appears to get them back online for a while but they are still dropping off every so often.

I'm not sure if this issue is affecting many other users having spoken to friend with Nests most seem to of had them drop off occasional but not nearly as often as mine do.  Hopefully they will come up with a long term solution soon, in the mean time I'm retting it as and when needed.

Saturday 7 February 2015

New Workshop - Foundations

The shored up trenches awaiting inspection.
Once again all of the below took place a few months ago but my day job was so busy I never got round to posting. Finally I have had a quiet day to write this up, Hopefully this post will bring things pretty close to up to date.

Having had a couple of false starts I finally found someone to do dig out for and then cast the concrete foundations for my new workshop.  Fitting the building on the site proved more difficult than I was hoping as the site is both not square and out of level.  With a bit of work we managed to get it on site with only a slight reduction in size from that planned.  The reduction being required do to the fact that the plot has a slight taper, getting smaller from front to back.

What with the wet weather, the ground being a little on the soft side and the closeness of a neighbors building  we  had some unexpected expenditure shoring  up all the trenches whist we waited for the building inspector to sign off on the work.  Sadly despite everybody's hard work when the building inspector arrived she was not willing sign off as she had concerns about a tree that used to be on the site. After a few days she finally came back to me and said she would require the trench depth to be increased by 50mm, which was a shame as we had now shored up the trenches and this would now require doing by hand!  Whether the 50mm would really make any practical difference I do not know be needless to say we complied with her request and thankfully she was happy to accept photographic evidence so we did not need to wait for her to come back out.

Trenches full of concrete.
So with the sign off, we cleared the site of rubble and the soil from the trenches and ordered the two truck loads of concrete which came in at just over a thousand pounds which was a lot more that I was expecting!

Since then we have got the walls up to dpc level but I will save the pictures of them until my next post when hopefully the walls will be up to ridge height. Hope fully this will be in the next few weeks providing things warm up a bit!

Thursday 5 February 2015

Lego stress relief

I've had a fantastic few days working on a really interesting project with FizzPOP which for now I cannot talk about.  Once I can talk about it, I will make a post here.  Whilst it was fun all this has left me somewhat shattered and a bit stressed out, so I decided to buy myself some Lego, Can there be any better way of relieving stress that building Lego?