RV electrical

This is a summary diagram I created to help people new to RV's better understand the electrical systems in an RV.  The direction of the arrows shows the flow of power.  This diagram might not exactly match your specific RV, but the overall idea is applicable.  Also, this does not show all the details. The usual disclaimer applies, that  before working on your RV electrical systems you should get actual training, and consult the detailed diagrams for your specific RV.

If would like to print this, here it is as a Powerpoint slide.

Converting my Weber Q1200 to use both low-pressure RV connector and standard tanks

Last week I converted our Weber Q1200 gas grill to use both the low pressure connector on our RV, and standard (high pressure) 1, 5, 10, & 20 lb tanks.

I followed the instructions in this YouTube.com video.  Here are the exact parts I bought on Amazon for the conversion, and hoses to connect to RV and standard tanks.

  1. Propane Quick Connect Kit – Valve & Full Flow Plug, by Camco (item # 59853)
  2. Brass Pipe Fitting, 1/4" male to 1/8" male, by Anderson Metals (item # 706123-0402)
  3. Brass Pipe Fitting, 1/4" female to 1/8" female, by FasParts (part # FP119-BA)
  4. Pipe Joint Compound with PTFE, with brush, 4 ounces, by Oatey (item #31230)
  5. Low pressure quick-connect propane hose, 12 feet, by DozyAnt
  6. 1 lb to 20 lb propane adapter hose ( 1"-20 female to QCC1 female), 4 feet

Server issues

My web server and email server had a bunch of issues this weekend. I think everything has been successfully restored. Please let me know if you see anything missing on my website. Also, if you sent me a critical email this weekend, please re-send it.

Kind of a close call

Heather & I are in Charleston, SC with Heather's family for the holidays.  We flew out of Denver on a 2:30pm Continental flight to Houston, then on to Charleston.  Later that day, Continental #1404 crashed on takeoff leaving Denver for Houston at 6:18pm, injuring around 40, but no deaths.  Continental regularly flies from Denver to Houston, so #1404 was probably not the next flight of the day.  Still, it feels a little like a "close call" for us.  On our flight they were asking for volunteers to take a later flight since they had overbooked.  I wonder how many of the passengers on #1404 had voluntarily taken it as a later flight?

Getting help for the economy from retirees

From Retired and Useful on Scott Adam's blog:

When we think of how to patch up the ailing economy, we reflexively think about youth. We think about education, and innovation, and getting healthcare for young working people. I think we're leaving some low hanging fruit on the trees with the older generation.

I think about this when I hear about young families struggling with childcare expenses at the same time a bazillion retirees watch Jeopardy and wish they had something better to do. Is there really no way to solve those two problems at the same time?

Certainly retired people could be helping with childcare, tutoring, crime watch, and other functions that directly benefit society, at least a few hours per week. Can you think of any other ways to harness senior power to juice the economy?

Closed captions on Comcast DVR via HDMI

[Updated June 2013] Good news, it's much easier to turn on closed captions on my Comcast DVR manufactured by Motorola (picture) because of a recent update to the Comcast DVR software.  I can now turn captions on/off from the "regular menus" (no need to turn the cable box on & off).  Here's how it works for me now:

  • Turn on your TV and the Comcast box
  • Press the Menu button twice on the Comcast remote (or on the box)
  • In the on-screen menu, choose the "Setup" button (using the arrows and Ok button on the remote or box)
  • Then choose the "Closed Captioning Setup"
  • You'll see a setting for "Closed Caption", which you can change between off & on by using the left & right arrow on the remote (or box)

If your box does not have the menus seen above, you'll have to use my older instructions below (after the break) until your box is updated.

FYI, you still cannot use your TV remote closed captions button when your DVR is connected to your TV with HDMI and component connections.   Read below for more details.


[My original post from 2008, kept for posterity] Last weekend I lost a few hours trying to get closed caption to display with my Comcast DVR connected to my TV with an HDMI cable.  I like to temporarily turn on captions when trying to figure out what someone said, or if there's a lot of background noise.  But the closed captions button on my TVs remote did not seem to work.

If your box still has the old software (you've tried the instructions above and they don't work), here's a quick cheat sheet for enabling closed captions on the Comcast DVR manufactured by Motorola (picture). You can use either the buttons on the remote, or on the front of the DVR:

  • Turn on your TV
  • Turn off the DVR
  • Press the Menu button, on the Comcast remote (or on the Comcast box)
  • You will see the USER SETTING screen on your TV
  • Move down to the CLOSED CAPTIONS entry using the arrow buttons
  • Press the right-arrow to switch between ENABLED and DISABLED
  • Press the Menu button
  • Turn on the DVR

The problem was not with my TV or the DVR.  The problem is that HDMI and component connections cannot carry closed captions for the TV to decode. This was the first time I've connected a TV using HDMI or component cables, so I never ran into this closed caption issue before.  If you connect any device (Comcast's DVR, Tivo, etc) by HDMI/component, you must use that device's menu to decode the closed captions — your TV's closed caption button will never show captions when connected this way.  You can read more about this limitation of HDMI and component on the HDTV interoperability issues section on the main Wikipedia page for closed captions.

I called Comcast to get help, and talked with a support person who tried very hard, and ultimately directed me to the "hidden" setup menu on the DVR to enable closed captions (see above).  But it was pretty bumpy, and Comcast never said that it was a limitation of HDMI/component.

Also, the Comcast DVR makes it very hard to quickly toggle captions on/off, because you must turn off the DVR every time you want to change the setting.  My guess is that the DVR engineers assumed that only deaf people would want captions, and leave them on all the time.

See How to use a Motorola DVR for a nearly complete manual on many of Comcast's Motorola DVRs.  I updated the "Closed Captions" section to clarify the limitations of HDMI and component connections.

Prosper: regular folks making loans to regular folks


I read about them in this article on TheRegister. The article sums it up nicely:

The company conducts background checks on loan applicants to get their credit scores and assigns them a risk factor. People willing to make a loan then bid on the interest rate they're willing to charge given the risk. Prosper spreads the loan across multiple loaners to reduce the overall risk for those handing out their hard-earned cash.

You can make about a seven per cent return on your money with minimal risk, which is better than a lot of low-return investments and not quite as a good as what a decent stock trader will see. Risk takers can make far more by venturing their cash on folks with low credit scores.

The real interweb part of Prosper comes from the stories people write to try and convince you to hand over money.

"I am a single, independent, reliable, responsible woman," writes one person. "My problem? I've overextended myself."

"I have two daughters that are graduation from college this year," writes another. "I need to pay off the outstanding balances at the schools in order for them to receive their diploma's in the mail."

We talked to a few people about Prosper, and everyone agreed that there's heart-warming, practical aspect to the company. Can it compete with more than happy to lend credit card companies and far more traditional loaners? We have our concerns.