Monday, June 15, 2015

Updated Things

Since I last posted, I got lots of goodies:
4 dozen amphora bottles - clear, red, purple, and lime (bright/light) green
Nickel-colored hardware for making modular belts.
Snaps. Lots of them (bottles use 2 snaps each).
Lots of leather - black and dark brown for modular belts, about a half-cow each, two half-cows of black latigo for belts, and A half-cow of thin black latigo for bottle wraps/hangers, belt loops, soft pouches, binding, and anything else I can think of.
A 2TB hard drive that talks to my iWhatsits. Not strictly Otter Necessities, but cool.
Started shopping for replacement power source at events.

One of the UPSes we use for powering things at events is pretty weak, despite not being very old. I think the problem is that UPS units are not designed to be charged, drained down, repeat a couple times, then sit not plugged in. The usual use for a UPS is to sit plugged in, passing power through to whatever is plugged into it, with only rare power-loss/drainage events. Plus, the way we're using them, the UPS takes AC current from mains power, charges its battery, gets DC from the battery, converts it back to AC to deliver to its outlets, and then the wall-warts for the devices then convert it to DC for the devices' consumption. This is Not Efficient, even looking just at the step of converting DC from UPS battery to AC at UPS's outlets. 

I think the solution is going to be some flavor of battery that the iWhatsits, the WiFi hotspot, and Xap's phone/tablet can plug into via USB. With two batteries, the printer has plenty of power for a day, and the batteries re-charge quickly. I'm not sure if it's going to be compact (phone- or tablet-sized) external battery booster packs, a larger battery/bank of batteries with built-by-somebody-else interface, or a battery with a simple home-built interface. Part of the problem is the cost and weight curves. Small battery booster packs are very light, but pricey and slow to recharge, and we'd need multiple. Bigger batteries are heavy. Purchased interface (box, connections, monitor) is nice, but more expensive than DIY. 

I was hoping to make hangers for all the amphora bottles, and assemble the parts for wraps for the non-amphora "naked" bottles we have over the weekend, but we didn't get that far. Saturday was re-scheduled with taking the dogs to the vet (Tommy has a UTI, Gimli needed a vaccination booster, Pippin enjoyed a gratuitous ride), going to the grocery store, and goofing off. Sunday was slightly more productive, with a trip to Batteries Plus, on-line shopping for various power options, and doing a bunch of cooking. But it wasn't exactly Otter-ish productive. Oh well. 

Speaking of the trip to Batteries Plus, after about 5 minutes of reading about battery packs for amateur-ish astronomers, I knew more about battery charging and care than the Batteries Plus employee we talked to - ie: a higher-capacity charger can damage a battery, particularly sealed ones; and you get better battery life by not discharging a battery below x point. I suppose he *might* have been feigning ignorance because abusing a battery means they sell you a new one sooner, but I think he really was clueless. 

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