Okay, that’s middling cold…

Heading into mid-December it hasn’t been very cold at all. Dipped barely into the teens a couple of times, briefly, that’s all. This morning it got proper frosty, though…

Seriously I haven’t even been burning a morning fire most of the time, preferring to put on a hoodie and acclimatize. This morning the fire burned – but not for very long. I like my relatively newly-snug cabin. Holds heat ever so much better than it did at first – and of course I cheat with the bedroom heater.

Ian’s new batteries gave me a scare yesterday. I really didn’t know their state of charge when I brought them home, then the next day it was really cloudy so I didn’t get upset when they didn’t seem to be charging at all. But yesterday we ran into real trouble when they dipped so low they couldn’t run the system. Bright sunny day, no reason they shouldn’t be headed for float but instead they weren’t charging at all! That’s not a battery problem, that’s a system problem!

Ian’s prefab Outback system has run so flawlessly so long that I rarely give most of it any thought, but yesterday afternoon I was feverishly trying to figure out how to determine what, if anything, the charge controller was doing. I quickly decided it wasn’t doing anything, becaus it was stuck on the welcome menu demanding to be configured. I guess completely disconnecting it from its DC side could have had that effect. Anyway that sent me to the manual – and these things always have the worst manuals. I used to do documentation, I’m jaded and opinionated on the subject, but it has been my observation that most doc writers don’t know what they’re writing about, they don’t know what the information on the page means, and so they have no way of making the information they’re given meaningful to a alarmingly ignorant user like me. They just try to get buy-off from the (uninterested) engineer who’s supposed to be guiding them. I’ve been in that situation before, and what always comes out is gibberish.

So it was with a spirit closely approximating despair that I tried to read how to get the charge controller to do something useful – especially since the first thing it wanted me to do was enter the password.

The password? Why the everlasting gobstopper would a household charge controller need a password? Happily, that information was at least highlighted in the manual and when I entered it, the menu became much more helpful. But I still went home yesterday afternoon convinced it wasn’t working. It said it was working, but I didn’t believe it.

Turns out I was wrong about that, because this morning I came back into the powershed to find the batteries fully charged for the first time. Now I’ll go back in a little while and see how it’s running with a load, but it looks good.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Okay, that’s middling cold…

  1. jabrwok says:

    Good to know you got it working.

    I intensely dislike relying on technology that I don’t understand. Unfortunately, that’s most of it:-(.

  2. malatrope says:

    Congratulations! I also despair at the incompetence (purposeful?) of most technical writers. At least they aren’t Chinese in this case. Not only do they not understand what they’re writing manuals for, they both don’t give a shit and don’t grasp Engrish in the slightest. “You make button happy now, fan disable you.”

    I thought about getting an Outback for my charger, but I settled on Midnight Solar. At least when they boot up they sense the voltages (input and battery) and go into a default state that works.

  3. ejpomeroy@gmail.com says:

    Jaded? Ha! I worked for Heath Co for 13 years, Heathkits yannow. Best manuals ever created on the planet. Allowed absolute newbies to assemble and test complex electronics. So yeah, I HATE what we get nowadays with pretty much any technical equipment, especially the Chinglish ones, and the ALL seem to be Chinglish. Good on you for getting it done.

  4. ka9vsz says:

    Good on Joel!

    Heathkits ruled. The manuals instilled confidence. I still have my GR-64 shortwave receiver. The glow of the tubes warms my cold, shriveled heart.

    As I attempt to read what passes for instructions nowadays, I’m told I keep muttering “This is ******* gibberish”. At least, “Turning it leftly” sorta makes sense.

  5. Paul B says:

    Blame our education system, or rather lack of it. Educators do not educate any more so we will see a rapid decline here soon.

  6. Zendo Deb says:

    “Why the everlasting gobstopper would a household charge controller need a password?”

    Security professionals everywhere cringe at statements like that.

    Probably because the control system has WiFi capability to report remotely. Everybody wants everything to support WiFi, but they don’t want to be bothered with things like passwords. It’s only a light switch. It’s only a …

    But the question itself is why there are botnets – robotic-networks – consisting of 100s of millions or perhaps billions by now – of IOT devices that are used in Distributed Denial of Service attacks. “Why does it need a PW? It’s only a [Fill in the blank]” DDoS attacks came close to crashing the entire internet before people like Cloudflare figured out how to short-circuit them, and they are still a problem from time to time.

  7. Joel says:

    Okay but this gadget isn’t connected. Even if it were designed to be, there’s no signal to connect to. I maintain that a password only gets in the way of the controller’s function.

  8. malatrope says:

    Have you ever enabled our phone as a wifi hotspot, even for a minute? If you did, bam, the charger has a route to the general internet. You’d be amazed how much havoc can be raised in a few seconds of connection time.

    Even if somebody drove by on the road out front with their phone doing wifi. The range can be astonishing in the right circumstances.

  9. ka9vsz says:

    Went for a walk on our mostly-deserted country road. Phone picked up multiple wi-fi signals from farms half a mile away. Amazing.

To the stake with the heretic!