May 21, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 4:55 pm


November 3, 2012

Prius power inverter installation

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 1:01 pm

Remove the trunk bed cover.

On our GenII Prius, the aux battery is underneath the right-side panel, which is held down by the black plastic tub under the trunk bed cover.

Lift the black plastic tub and either take it out or shove it to the left, so it’s not holding the panel down anymore.


Take out the little panel on the right hand side and you will see the aux battery underneath.


Let’s hook up a chassis ground first. 
I got proper power cables for red and black, but nothing for ground, so I made one from a thick piece of jumper cable and two copper end post connectors I picked up from Home Depot.

You should be able to see the chassis screw where there is a wire from the black battery terminal to it.  Unscrew it making sure it doesn’t fall below – I think it was 9mm socket – put the screw through our new ground wire’s post hole, and through the original one from the battery, and tighten it against the chassis once more.


Next let’s do black (neutral).  This one is easy… Undo the nut on the battery post clamp, slip on the black cable’s connector, and replace the nut.


Sanity check, make sure the other ends of your cables are not touching.  You can connect the ground and neutral cables to the power inverter now.  Make sure the inverter is off.

Last is red (hot).  You need to remove the protective red plastic cover to get at it.  You’re going to do the same thing as with black, but you want the wire to end up placed so you can put the plastic cover back on.  Taking appropriate precautions (which for me included non-conductive gloves), take off the nut, slip on your red cable’s connector – note, it may spark on first contact – and tighten back down.


You can put the wires all the way over on the right of the trunk, and put the side panel back on top.


When you connect the power inverter, do ground, then black neutral; red hot comes last, and may spark as you are connecting. (The little bonding plug fixes the “open ground” warning one may encounter otherwise.)

November 2, 2012

Standalone gasoline generator? How to just say no (for Prius owners)

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 11:37 pm

So as of yesterday, the combination of our Prius and a Pep Boys purchased power inverter had successfully run our furnace, but not our refrigerator, which forced us to resort to using the loud standalone gas-powered generator that friends had kindly loaned us before.

I had actually purchased a different power inverter from Amazon, which claimed to be pure sine and thus clean power, and also had a slow start capacity built in… but had a slightly lower power rating. Got it and unpacked it today, and hooked it up to the fridge… success! And it could run the UPS without it freaking out. Great, so no need for the gas generator to run the fridge.

Now one last sanity check, make sure it can run the furnace blower and we’re all set.
Distant squeal (the inverter’s overload alarm from inside the Prius).

NOOOOOOOO!!! Don’t tell me I have to switch between inverters to make this work!?
Despair. Then some more thought.
The UPS couldn’t handle the surge to run the furnace by itself. But armed with the pure sine inverter, I can actually power the UPS in a way it likes. So why not use that combination? Let the inverter help handle the surge, and if it flips off, the UPS should be able to carry it the rest of the way.

OK… so let’s try that on the refrigerator first.
Great, that worked of course. Now let’s unplug the UPS from the inverter…
Brilliant, the fridge is still running! Wonder how long that could go for, but no time or patience to try right now.

So final challenge, let’s try that on the furnace.

Wow, it’s pulling 2/3 of a kilowatt.
OK, time to turn off the Prius now.

When I came back in, however, the furnace was no longer running. What had happened?

As it turns out, we have another little pump in there to get rid of excess humidity…
I bet that kicked in and knocked over the UPS – they don’t put much surge capacity into them.

Lovely! No need to buy a standalone generator then.
Good thing, because we did already buy the Prius…

November 1, 2012

Power outages, a Prius, and perseverance.

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 1:12 am

So… we lost power mid afternoon Monday.
And like the rest of the area, we got the same old status from PECO about getting power back late Sunday.
So I went into MacGyver mode.

First, I wired up an old UPS with dead battery to the Prius so we had at least some power. Yeah, it was kinda lame power, not strong enough to run the furnace blower, or much more than some lights and some portable gear chargers. But hey, it was much better than nothing. And all the real power inverters, and generators, etc. were sold out even if you could get somewhere with power to buy stuff.

In anticipation of making things suck less, I took the preliminary step of disconnecting the furnace from the dead house power, and wiring it to a 3 prong plug. And having gone out to buy the biggest reasonable UPS I could find (1500VA) I was saddened to discover that that couldn’t run the blower or the fridge either. So we weren’t in the dark, but we were in the cold zone. This morning we were fortunate enough to find friends who loaned us a “portable” generator. Which is “portable” in the same sense as the original Compaq Portable, Meaning that you better be pretty sturdy or you’re not getting that thing anywhere.

Some of my impressions upon first meeting this magnificently functional piece of hardware:
Wow this thing is big.
Wow this thing is heavy.
Boy this thing had better put out like the Dickens.
I wonder if it will be friends with me? 😉

Anyway, it was easy to get it up and running.
Some of my impressions upon first running this magnificently functional piece of hardware:
Wow this thing is loud.
Wow I had forgotten how much I disliked pouring from gas cans.
Yes it runs the furnace blower! Heat is good.
Yes it runs the refrigerator! Cold is good… in the right places.
But wait, why is the temperature sensor in the fridge jumping around?
And why doesn’t the furnace shut off?
And why does the UPS flip out when plugged in?

I would say it was the work of the evil “modified sine wave” But actually it might be a pure square wave for all I know. Anyway, that wreaks havoc on various electronics. Enter the fortunate timeliness of the Pep Boys restocking! I had just found a single decent power inverter after two days of scouring, but it was 3000 watts which is more than I would care to ask the Prius to sustain from its auxiliary feed. The prospect of tapping into the behemoth Prius “traction” battery was tantalizing but also terrifying (Yessir, those are quickly-dead voltages and currents we’re talking there) so I had tapped into the auxiliary battery flow instead, and from what I had read, that meant a practical limit of about a thousand watts sustained. With 3000 watts I was concerned I would turn the Prius from the world’s best generator to the world’s best DEAD generator, so I flinched and let it pass.

But later in the evening, I had a change of heart. Surprise surprise, when I went to buy, a different Pep Boys had the 1200 watt versions in stock! So, Halloween or no Halloween, procurement and installation were underway. It’s striking how small the inverter is compared to the generator (Yes I know, it’s not fair because the Prius is kinda large itself) And it fits in the trunk as though it were always meant to be. … inverter powerhouse sequence … What the heck do you mean “open ground”? Ah well, it’s working, let’s see what it can do. Yes it runs the furnace blower! So now we can be warm AND quiet at the same time! And look at that, the thermostat works properly, so we don’t have to play manual thermostat! And it will do the lights and charger while it’s doing the blower! But crud, it can’t run the fridge. More to come. Exercise for the reader: How do you solve the AC plug tester saying “open ground” ? Tune in next time to find out!

3D gets its own area

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 12:21 am

May 20, 2011

We are now out of the bag

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 8:35 pm

January 21, 2011

Yangming FTW!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:05 pm

December 29, 2010

Post-SkypeOut notes

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 8:15 pm

Don’t persist anything you don’t have to or it will bite you at the worst possible moment.

To stabilize a network, and the services it delivers, you need a routing layer over which you can exert control, whether you own it or not.

Planning for less than two orders of magnitude spikes is not, in fact, planning for the worst.

1.5 lbs. of pure yum

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — michael @ 12:48 pm


Okay.  That was totally worth it.  Now we just need an induction burner for quick sear and we can get rid of the rest of the kitchen LOL

At it again, even while away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — michael @ 10:59 am


Sirloin this time… the rig is pretty easy to transport.

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