Dual Charging EVs & Charging Schedules

I knew having two electric-powered vehicles in the garage would initially present some charging problems. We have a garage fridge and an air compressor that already like to trip the circuit breaker when both are running full-tilt. Charging two vehicles from that same 120V circuit was going to be tricky.

Offset Charging Schedules

Until we could add a dedicated 240V circuit, the first thing I did was set charging schedules for both vehicles. I set the Bolt to charge from Midnight to 4PM. Because I work from home, I tend to drive my car (usually to rehearsal) after work.

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Crawler Course & Garden Railway Design

We had a 1:24 scale Christmas last year, which was fun to set up under the tree. While the SCX24 RC crawler is small, the G-scale trains are decidedly big […]

The post Crawler Course & Garden Railway Design appeared first on Meatball Racing.

We had a 1:24 scale Christmas last year, which was fun to set up under the tree. While the SCX24 RC crawler is small, the G-scale trains are decidedly big once you factor in the layout. I’ve always loved model trains and had a layout as a kid, but in my home it would be impossible to dedicate a room to model trains. Why not go outside?

Large scale trains are popular for garden railways, and I had a section of yard that was completely unused. But it won’t be for just trains – I want it to be a multi-modal play area: trains, crawlers, maybe even a landing pad for an RC helicopter 🚂🚙🚁

This site isn’t transforming into a model railroad blog (at least not permanently), but the next few posts will be about the train setup as groundwork before the crawler course is installed. Hopefully you can enjoy it all under the guise of RC and Trail & Scale 😎

Garden Bed & Trains

For the area, I purchased some Vita 4’x4’x11″ vinyl garden beds from Costco. They came as a 2-pack that you can combine to make a 8’x8′ area. I bought two of those packs which let me combine them to make a 12’x20′ area.

Before I did any digging, I loosely fit the vinyl bed parts together in the yard to make sure I knew that the space would be appropriate

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800 Mile Bolt EV Road Trip

There’s a terrible article from the Detroit Free Press making its rounds – claiming to be a “study” comparing EV charging costs to gas costs. It has been picked up by USA Today and other news outlets. There have also been several rebuttals, most notably one from Car and Driver.

I took a road trip earlier this year in my new Chevy Bolt. While it’s not a study, I hope you’ll find my personal story and anecdotal evidence compelling.

TL;DR? I drove from Minneapolis to Chicago and back, and it cost me $45.90 in energy for the whole trip.

  1. $11.15 – Tomah, WI
  2. $14.62 – Rockford, IL
  3. $5 – Hotel
  4. $9.31 – Madison, WI
  5. $5.82 – Eau Claire, WI

Here are all of the details…

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Fitbit Charge 4 GPS woes

I was really getting to love my Fitbit Charge 4. It ticked all the boxes I needed:

All seemed great, until it wasn’t. I did a ride with a friend in April and it inexplicably dropped GPS signal after 5 miles.

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DIY Lake Depth Maps for old Garmin GPS

My wife bought a pontoon this summer and while I’m not an avid angler, it has given us more opportunities to go fishing. If you’re out on the lake, why not drop a line in? 🎣

I’m normally one of those guys that buys the waterproof lake map to keep in the boat:

From an eBay Listing

These Minnesota-made lakemaps are no longer produced and considered “vintage” – but you can still get them at bait shops around the state. What about something a little more high tech, but not too expensive? I went to eBay looking for an old multi-mode Garmin GPS and got a nüvi 500 that has modes for driving, hiking, biking and boating.

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I bought a new car w/o a test drive – no regrets!

That’s a click-baity title. But seriously I bought a Chevy Bolt without ever driving one. However, I had ridden in one and it seemed perfectly fine. It also met all of my criteria:

  • Is it all-electric? Yes ✅
  • Does it have a good range? Yes ✅
  • Does it look like a normal car? Yes ✅

Great! I’m sure whatever other quirks it has I can get used to. Even with an open battery recall, I think it’s a fantastic car.

I got a great deal on a new 2021 Bolt from an out-state dealer, and they just dropped it off at my house. My first “test drive” was picking my daughter up at school. After driving it for a couple of months I’ve gotten used to it. The number of settings that you can configure is rather daunting, so I put this reference together 😎

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Dell XPS Developer Edition Battery Puffed

Dude… you’re getting a Dell(?)!

The last 4 laptops I’ve owned went like this:

  • 2004 – ThinkPad
  • 2009 – Dell
  • 2014 – ThinkPad
  • 2019 – Dell

Whenever I had the Dells I would tell my wife: “Remind me to get a ThinkPad next time.” I wish I listened to my own advice. They’re well thought out – ThinkPads just get a little more love when it comes to design and build. While they’re not without fault, they are generally better than your average laptop.

The Dell laptops I’ve owned have felt cheap and both have gone in for repairs. The good news is, Dell support is pretty good about fixing things. But I wish I didn’t have to send them in for repairs. Sidenote: my old ThinkPads have made for excellent loaners during repair periods. Dell really should be cheap and cheerful, but the whole experience leaves me feeling a bit “meh.”

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Remapping Keyboard Keys in Ubuntu with udev / evdev

A coworker gave a lunch and learn about mechanical keyboards. I should have known it would be an entrance to a black hole… it all started 25 years ago with my beloved Zeos Keyboard with Alps keygates – which I consequently wrecked after spilling a beer into it 🍺 Then onto my HHKB Lite2 which I still have but need a host of adapters to connect its PS/2 connector.

Now I’m entering the modern mechanical era with a Keychron K6 – a 65% keyboard that closely resembles my HHKB layout. It has Gateron Blue (light and clicky) switches that remind me of my famed Zeos board. Here’s the original layout:

My first issue is I have a bit of OCD when it comes to pairing. I expect insert/del, home/end, and page up/down to be at least near each other, if not next to each other. So I changed the keycaps in the far right row, around the corner to the FN1/2 keys. I used low(ish) profile DSA keys on this edge to mimic the lower arrow keys from the HHKB. Also I got custom colored beige/blue FN1/FN2 keys to quickly remind me that FN1 is for the gold functions and FN2 is for blue.

Now I needed to change what the swapped keys did when I pressed them…

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