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EDC Review Reviews Tech

Olight R50 Seeker Review

I have always wanted a “thrower” style light and something that uses a 26650 battery. Well the Olight R50 almost accomplishes both those goals. It uses an 26650 but and is kind of a thrower. The light has quite a bit of spill too however. Either way I quite like it and it fits in the hand super well. Watch my video below for a detailed review.

EDC Review Reviews Tech

Olight S1A Limited Edition (Thunder Gray) Review

Olight

For me I found this light to be a great size for EDC. It’s smaller diameter in comparison to a CR123 light makes it easier to fit into the pocket. This still has the Olight pocket clip which some love and others hate. Personally I like the deep carry ability of it but it does get caught a little when placing back into the pocket. This light can run on 3 different battery chemistries and all have differing levels of performance and run time. Personally I would recommend running this off a rechargeable 14500 lithium based sell. Using this you get the best of both worlds in terms of it’s reliable so costs to operate will be low, and you also have the availability of 600 lumens in turbo mode. On a alkaline or NIHM battery you don’t have the option of turbo mode. Please see my video below for more details.

Overall I really like the light and can recommend it, I really like the fit and finish of this one too.

Here is a gallery of still images I took too http://imgur.com/a/ND1q3

 

If you are interested in purchasing the light, you can purchase it below.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ihCvjq
OlightStore: http://www.olightstore.com/limited-edition-flashlights/olight-s1a-limited-edition

 

Review Reviews Tech

Nitecore LR30 – Review

The Nitecore LR30 is a new product from Nitecore. It’s advertised as a camping lantern but I found more uses for it then that in the past few days while I have been reviewing it. It’s a highly diffused, high CRI light powered by a 18650 sized lithium cell (not included) or 2 CR123A cells (Not included). I ended up getting the most use from it this holiday weekend to help paint a room in a family members new home. Lighting was not good in the room and I had this with me, and used it as a hand spot light to point out ares that needed more prep (sanding) or areas that needed more paint. It worked great for that.

The light has 3 stages of neutral white light, low, medium, and high. On high it’s producing 205 Lumens for 3hr and 30 minutes on an 18650 cell. Medium is 85 Lumens for 8hrs 50 minutes, Low is 12 Lumens for an impressive 62 hours. The light also has a Red LED mode, that does a blinking and SOS modes. Its a bit bright at 45 lumens.

The video I made below goes into more depth so I encourage you to watch it to learn about all the features of the light.

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If you are interested in purchasing you can do so with the links below.
LR30 with 2x 123A Cells http://amzn.to/2g827RX
LR30 with 1x Nitecore 18650 Cell + Charger http://amzn.to/2fU4XHx
Or Direct from Nitecore http://www.nitecorestore.com/Nitecore-LR30-LED-Camping-Lantern-p/fl-nite-lr30.htm

 

Review Reviews Tech

Olight S2R Baton – Review

Olight asked if I would like to review their new S2R Baton LED light and I said I would. It arrived last week and I have been carrying it and testing to see how I like it. Here is a brief written highlight. For the detailed review watch my videobelow.

Pros:

  • Very small for an 18650 light.
  • Rechargeable in the light, proprietary doc
  • Very deep carry clip but takes some effort to go into the pants pockets usually.

Cons:

  • For the built in recharging to work, you have to use the Olight batteries, not the fastest charging but safe and super easy. .
  • No extra O rings included in the package, but I have never needed them.
  • Packaging is kind of tough to undo without destroying it, but it does come with directions

 

Build Quality:  Typical of Olight the build quality is outstanding. The threads come lightly pre greased. Tolerances are tight, and the finish is great. I really like the blue accents Olight does around the switch and front bezel.

Switch is on the side,. It’s a soft press low profile button. I didn’t find it too easy to press accidentally while in the pocket of my jeans but it does have a lockout which is nice insurance. The switch is accented by blue anodized aluminum which makes it look sharp.

Tail Cap Recharging: The biggest difference for the Olight S2R baton is has built in recharging in the magnetic tailcap. The flashlight comes with a small circular docking like station. It’s magnetic and you literally can’t put it on wrong, just get it close and it snaps into place. The other end is USB based and can plug into a variety of powerbanks or wall chargers, or car chargers. When charging the doc has red LED indicators that go solid, when finished they turn green and stay on. The Doc itself is an anodized aluminum exterior. The cable is about 1ft in length with a flat black cable. It’s not the fastest way to charge an 18650 but it’s the easiest. One negative about the recharging feature is that you have to use the Olight branded batteries to make this work. The light will turn on while charging.

One thing I noticed about this light during my use is that if you were to put the light in your mouth temporarily to hold it while freeing both hands, don’t put your tongue on the contacts or well you complete the circuit. While it’s not a lot of power, it’s not pleasant and something you want to do.

This light is a thrower and has good performance. In my video I have some night video of it’s performance. I have been using it on medium mode mostly, bumping up to high sometimes for increased distance. The light has a moonlight mode at ½ lumen and a strobe as well. Heat is well managed, it definitely gets warm but it’s not too hot to handle.

Overall I really like the light. Its about as thin as possible for an 18650 powered light. The clip is strong, and holds the light well. The magnetic tail cap comes in handy. The rechargeable nature of this light makes it really easy to keep charged and recharge when needed. I think it would make a good gift for someone who wants a high powered light but doesn’t have or want a charger. It comes with everything needed to use the light and keep it going. If you have any questions please let me know.

You can purchase this light from Amazon with this link http://amzn.to/2ggvlws

You can also purchase directly from Olight at https://goo.gl/VQypQq

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Homeownership Life Tech

Networking the House

For years I had wanted to network my house with ethernet. The reason I wanted to do this was I was tired of somewhat poor wifi performance and some other things. Despite having a “good” signal strength my actual performance was not great especially with streaming video inside the network. I had been using a combination of wifi and powerline adapters and while that worked it wasn’t great with having to reboot things from time to time as well. Another reason was my city is going Gigabit over the next couple of years from two announced providers so  far. No way my current setup was going to stand up to gig internet. Lastly was interest in moving data to a NAS for drive redundancy. Having recently suffered a few drive scares, even though files are backed up to the cloud, having some drive redundancy is the way to go if you can. I wanted a gigabit wired network in the house to access everything.

 

I started by thinking more seriously about this, going so far as to using Sketchup to create a blueprint of sorts of the layout of my house and marking where I wanted wires to go. I then talked to a friend who had done the same thing to his house and got the advice of people on a few different forums too.

 

The plan in general was to put 2 drops in each room, usually on opposite walls where possible and in each location a minimum of 2 wires per box. This included a total of 4 lines to the Garage, 4 to the living room, 6 to the office, 4 to the master bedroom, etc. So most rooms were between 4 to 6 lines total. I also put in a drop for access points on my main floor where I spend most of my time. Lastly I put in a drop in the attic to all 4 corners of the house and over the front door for future security cameras. Overkill yes, but well while you’re doing it you might as well do it right.

 

I also put in “Blue Smurf” conduit that runs from where services enter my home to my rack. Anticipating the fiber service in the future I figured this would just make things simple and give a service provider a better reason to refuse to run an extra 20 ft of fiber.

 

All of this terminated in the basement on the unfinished side near my HVAC equipment. There I pulled a new 20A circuit with GFCI to power the equipment. I installed a ¾” piece of plywood that I painted and attached to the studs of the wall. There I installed a 12U wall mount rack and terminated all the Cat6 runs. I grounded the rack to the water pipes above and installed some leftover LED’s in the top of the rack.

 

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What did I learn?

  • You need more wire than you think, a lot more wire. In my case I bought from monoprice a few months before  1 box of 1000ft CAT6 thinking initially that would be more than enough. I was not even close. Total amount used was 2586 FT in the walls. Pulling a bit more than that for slack on either end. I really didn’t estimate originally with much thought into it. So the suggestion here is to be more accurate when  you plan and then add some for additional runs, slack, and mistakes. It’s also a lot easier to pull 2 wires at one time out of the box then measure, pull, cut, and attach to another to do your pull. So my advice is buy more wire/really measure.
  • I used what’s known as “Fishing Rods” to pull twine from the basement to the attic and then between floors. They are cheap but super useful. Could not have done it without them.
  • If you’re going to the hardware store for 1, buy 2 and return it if you have to. Spray Paint, zip ties, clips, old work boxes etc, were all things I needed more of than originally planned. Luckily I drive by a big box hardware store twice a day on my way to and from work so it was an easy stop. It’s also an easy return process but I could have saved time by just buying more and returning once.
  • When pulling wire, it goes faster to have 2 people and two boxes. Having a friend help is pretty valuable. I was thankful to have a buddy who was a journeyman electrician help for about 2-3 days.
  • Hole saws VS Twist bits – When trying to put a hole in a wall stud or floor joist a hole saw makes a lot nicer hole that’s larger than a twist bit. Eye, ear, and knee protection are all good ideas at various times too. The right tool does the job.
  • Headlamps are a must. I had been meaning to get one for a while and finally did. Being able to work in a dark attic hands free is fantastic.
  • Velcro not Zip Ties – Zip ties become brittle when they are exposed to extremes in temperature like in an attic and will break in short time. Velcro on the other hand is far more durable and is easy to secure to a stud with a screw.
  • A cable Toner and Cable Tester are super useful. Sometimes labeling is off or smudged a toner makes quick work of this. I verified all my ends after putting them on with the Fluke Cable tester I borrowed from work. 99% success rate the first time, but now I know it’s 100% right after a fix.

 

Would I recommend spending all your free time over the course of about 3 weeks wiring your house with CAT6? Of course I would. I went a bit overkill and had some project creep as one of my friends put it. It’s just really nice to be able to have a reliable fast network in the house. For instance I have my Plex set at the highest possible bit rate now. I can play any file without it buffering.

 

So what’s planned for the future?

  • NAS – Need to do more research here and decide if I want to build from an old PC or buy an enclosure. Having 4-5 disk redundancy will be nice. I would like it to play nice with my a cloud backup service as well.
  • New Router and Larger Switch – Right now my old but Reliable Asus RT-N16 keeps on working until the Gigabit fiber service arrives. I also only have an 8 port Gigabit switch. When I find the right deal on a 24 port gigabit switch I will upgrade switches. Not sure yet on a new router, I need to do more research. For now however this equipment works with the wired setup.
  • Access Points??? This will play into my router decision, if I want to go with a consumer router or something more enterprise and then go with an enterprise wifi system kind of like an Ubiquiti system?
Life Tech

Jawbone UP2 band fix

I liked my original Jawbone UP24 however it broke and Jawbone replaced it with their new model the UP2. Newer means it should be better right? I would say different, but probably not better. My chief complaint with my UP2 was that it would not stay on my arm very well. The clasp was too easy to knock off when out doing things, even simple walking it seemed to come off for no reason. I was concerned with losing it so I went online looking for an answer. I ended up bending the clasp a bit to put some more pressure on it after seeing this post, this definitely helped but didn’t solve the problem. I then saw a suggestion on Reddit to use an O-ring. That post has disappeared from what I can tell now so I decided I would make a new one with new photos to show the fix. Since doing this my band has not fallen off once.

Up2 Band Fix

I went to the corner neighborhood hardware store into the plumbing section and found o-rings in the sink rebuild area. The o-ring cost me $0.49. The size I used was a #7 O-ring which is ½  x  3/8 x 1/16 in size.

o-ring
You can put the O-Ring on the band or the clasp with similar performance. I hope this helps everyone fix their Jawbone UP2 bands.

Cars Life Review Reviews Tech

Driving the Tesla Model S

Model S side

The Tesla Model S is kind of the halo “electric” car at the moment, and it really breaks the mold of a stereotypical electric car.  It is fast, sexy, and super high tech, yet drives almost normally. Being a car enthusiast, I had previously driven the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt locally; but with so few Tesla showrooms and service centers in the country, it’s hard to have the opportunity to drive a Tesla, especially in Nebraska.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S on May 3, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. I had spotted a post on the Tesla Facebook page saying they were taking reservations for a test drive, so I signed up. They called me the next day and confirmed.

They had 4 cars on display in the corner of a parking lot.  All were the P85 variant (the big battery model), and some had quite a few options, so sticker prices ranged from about $80k-$107k. Quite a few people were hanging around the car that was charging while a Tesla employee answered questions.  Having read several reviews of the car and watching several videos of it, I had quite a bit of knowledge to draw from for my test drive.

My time slot came up and I scanned my drivers license, typed in a little info on an ipad and went for a test drive.  The car is so quiet that in a somewhat crowded environment, people kept walking behind the car when we were trying to back out of the parking spot. Their mouths kind of dropped open when they saw this car come at them silently.

The Driving

Acceleration – Instant torque is addicting. Really addicting.  The acceleration in the Model S is so smooth and linear. It definitely pushes you back into the seat in a very satisfying way. Its speed and power are deceiving because of how quiet it is. In a gasoline powered car the engine gives you an indication of the speed you’re going; the S doesn’t have that, so it was very easy to go faster than the law says you should. It would be interesting to see if Model S owners get more speeding tickets because of it. I can verify that traction control is pretty effective too. When you give the S a lot of acceleration off the line, the traction control will come in and make sure you keep things on the road and straight; it does give the sensation of wiggling around a little though.  It was fun.  Because the Model S has no transmission or torque converter like in an automatic transmission, the car doesn’t creep along at low speeds. Tesla has added this creep mode as a software mode if you miss it. It takes a little getting use to in non creep mode.

Brakes – The Model S brake feel was nice and linear under normal street driving. Tesla has taken an interesting approach, giving you the option of a maximum regeneration mode or a low regeneration mode.  It’s a simple setting on the 17” touchscreen center console.  In the low generation mode, the car will coast much like a normal car with an automatic transmission with low drag.  The downside of this is that it will generate much less energy to put back into the batteries and extend range.  In maximum generation mode when off the accelerator it feels much more like you have downshifted on a car with a manual transmission. The feeling of drag is increased quite a bit. It’s essentially using electric motors as an engine brake by using the electric motor to generate electricity..  It takes a little getting used to since you don’t have to touch the brakes nearly as much in city driving. For instance, when coming down a hill, instead of coasting down the hill you actually may have to just use the lightest input on the accelerator to maintain speed.  The benefits of this is it’s extend range optimally. Tesla says that this also greatly decreases brake rotor and pad wear because you’re not using them as much to slow the relatively heavy car.

 

Steering/Suspension – The Model S is the safest car on the road, and part of that has to do with how stiff the chassis is. That stiffness really adds to the sportiness of the car.  The suspension is stiff, but well damped so it’s not harsh, but also not “Lexus” smooth.  I would call it european inspired suspension. The car corners pretty flat, and in normal street driving hides its weight pretty well, I thought.  That stiffness also made the car feel really solid and well built. Our test car (829 miles on the odometer) had no squeaks or shudders. It would be interesting to compare a model with the sport suspension option. The steering was a nice weight and some road feel feedback.

 

The Interior

The 17” touch screen that serves as the cars center console and main control unit for all configurable things in the car really is the top interior feature.  The large screen and first HD backup camera that can optionally be used when driving were great.  The layout and navigation were really logical and intuitive of the controls and options. The UI was fast, and the cas a web browser build in to search for anything or read a website. Navigation was by Google Maps so it was great and always updated. The only driving control I was hunting around for was to put it in park (I will blame wanting to continue the test drive, I think it probably had enough range left to make it back home 🙂 )

2013-tesla-model-s-interior-photo-498135-s-1280x782

For what the car cost, the seats should have been better. After visiting the BMW Welt in Germany my benchmark is admittedly a bit high when it comes to seats though. The Model S I drove had the standard seats, and while stylish, they lacked some adjustability and didn’t have enough side bolstering to match the car’s performance.  With approximately a 300 mile range, you’re not as likely to be in one without a break as long as you would in a diesel or gas European luxury sedan in the same price range. The flat floor (no transmission tunnel) was really nice, and made the middle rear seat much more useable.  Someone who is tall might have problems sitting in the back seat without hitting their head on the roof.  The interior design was minimal but nice.  The design of the door handles are by far my favorite interior design feature.  I didn’t care for the dark gray walnut wood trim on the dash, and would have probably prefered a carbon fiber or dark, warmer wood color.

 

Model S door

 

The key of the car is pretty cool, as you would expect. It’s a fob and there is no traditional key.  It’s actually a Hot Wheels sized model of the Model S in black that is a bit more streamlined. Touching the model (key) on the trunk for a second or two will pop the trunk. Walk up to the car with the key in your pocket and the door handles automatically come out and it unlocks. The car is always on and ready to drive; sitting in the driver’s seat and putting your foot on the brake to put it into drive is all you need to do, no push button start or turning of a key. There is also no shutting it off, you touch the button for park and get out, the car locks and shuts off itself.

Model S Key

 

Conclusion

Coming into the test drive the car was already sitting on a pedestal. My test drive was short but for the most part it met and exceeded expectations.  For me the standouts were the acceleration, large center console screen, general technology, and its sexy lines. It’s an expensive car, and for most people it probably would not be your only car unless you had access to something with more range for long trips. That will change as electric charging, especially the Tesla Super Charging stations, becomes more common. For me it would be a great daily driver: fast, sexy, super safe, and minimal day to day costs.  The main barrier right now for most is the cost. It’s still quite an expensive car. Tesla is rumored to be coming out with a less expensive smaller 3 series competitor that will be more affordable for the masses.  By that time they should have a more robust charging network too. That will be more of a revolution for the masses.  Until then, the Model S is a great example of how good an electric car can be made, especially in the USA. It makes a few sacrifices and has some great benefits.

2014-05-03 12.11.06

The Frunk (Front Trunk)
The Frunk (Front Trunk)

Tesla1

Reviews Tech

DIY Tablet stand with PCI Brackets

I received my 2013 Nexus 7 a couple of weeks ago.  One of the things I miss most is that my old case that allowed my tablet to sit up at an angle on a table for video viewing or reading.  I have a new case on order but it is going to take a few more weeks to get here.  I went searching online for cheap stands I could make and I ran across several ideas and combined a few with what I had.

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To make this I took a blank PCI Bracket I had in my desk and bent it in the middle a bit so that it would stand up.  I then bent the 90 degree angle portion a bit more (125 degrees I would guess) so it would grip the edge of my 2013 Nexus 7.  (Since it’s so thin it’s pretty slick).  For as simple as this is it works well, and it even works for my Note 2.

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