Open discussion post!

Or, more accurately, “I have been getting exceptionally good at cooking pancakes on Saturday mornings, but that requires being up at 5AM and it’s quite late now.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Comments from Blogger)

2018-11-12 by Anonymous

DIY 18650 power wall for the Solar Shed?

Raspberry PI alternatives?

A walk trough / tour of your E-Bike battery refurbishing equipment and tools?

Your favorite Linux distros?

Linux vs windows vs mac OS, your opinions?

Keep up the great work! I look forward to reading your blog every week!

2018-11-12 by Russell Graves

have some thoughts on the DIY Powerwall stuff coming up at some point, but it’s more along the lines of “Why this is a terrible idea and you shouldn’t have these anywhere near your house the way they’re commonly built” instead of “And here’s mine.” That they work as long as they do is fairly impressive. I just have no real interest in dealing with junk cells to build a system that then requires heating in the winter - you can’t safely charge cold lithium, and I really don’t have the space in my office for much. I do plan to put a few kWh of random lithium together in here at some point for my DC power bus, but it’s some older EV packs and related, and… it’s more a “Because I suppose I should do something with these parts…” project than filling any real need.

As far as the Raspberry Pi goes, I’ve looked into alternatives, and most of them have somewhat terrible software support long term - and often don’t even have working GPU acceleration for the GUI. Less useful for desktop use, and my experiments with ARM servers have gone very poorly in the past. I tried to host some stuff on one of the “ARM based Cloud Providers” and after my install got corrupted twice in a month from SD card issues, I gave up.

Linux: Ubuntu. I’m of the Debian historical persuasion, and Ubuntu LTS is well supported by just about everything I want to run. I use Raspbian for Pis, because it’s better supported. I can get around RedHat based distros, but I’m not as familiar with them.

Linux/Windows/Mac: Yes. I use all of them. I’m too old to particularly care about OS wars for the sake of OS wars, because I just want to get stuff done. Empirically, I spend the least time fighting with Mac, followed closely by Linux, and Windows is often broken for no apparent reason, even though I do nothing particularly complex with it.

2018-11-15 by Anonymous

What about Smart Home stuff, Sonoff, IFTT, Alexa, Google Home, etc… Have you ever played with any of that stuff?

2018-11-15 by Russell Graves

I regularly harass other people’s Google Homes and Alexas, but have yet to successfully order gravel for anyone. I tried to order 15 tons of gravel, and was told the maximum I could order was 12, and nobody out here is silly enough to have the voice ordering stuff enabled (I like to think I’m a contributor to this).

As a general rule, I really, really don’t like that stuff for a variety of reasons. From a security and privacy perspective, I don’t like “open mics” as a standard policy in a house - I have voice recognition turned off on my various devices, and while that’s obviously no guarantee that they aren’t listening, at the very least a smartphone mic isn’t specifically designed to suck in massive amounts of room audio and always be filtering it. The mics on Alexa and Google Home can pick up conversation from a surprisingly long distance away, based on how they pick up (and respond to) commands properly at long distances. You’ll note that in my passive NUC case post, I specifically mentioned not connecting the mic bar. There’s enough stuff listening in that I don’t want yet more of it.

The various “Internet of Things” devices, as far as I’m concerned, are a relatively short distance away from being “The Internet of Someone Else’s Things.” We’ve seen massive botnets created from cameras and such on the internet (Mirai), and I’d rather not have that sort of stuff on my network. I’m on a poor enough internet connection that they’d knock me offline before they accomplished much, at least… having everything always connecting through “The Cloud” is a problem for me as well, since our connections aren’t always the most reliable. I rarely have long internet outages at this point with a pair of connections, but stuff that has to reliably talk out simply doesn’t work that well here (often enough to be annoying).

All that said, I am working on some various home and property automation type systems, but they’re the sort of things that are locally hosted, don’t talk outside the LAN, and are capable of running autonomously as needed (think a moisture sensor and sprinkler controller that can make independent decisions if it doesn’t talk to the main controller).

I’m increasingly less amused with the tech company products as of late, if it doesn’t show…

2018-11-21 by Unknown

Maybe you can work on a LiFePO4 type battery for RV/Marine applications? I’ve been following your work on my e-bike builds and journeys and am now trying to power my RV with LiFePO4 type batteries (4S and several in parallel) to more or less match the 12V appliances. The world needs bloggers like you for BMS and balancing ideas for this type of build.

2018-11-23 by Anonymous

A lot of the of the shelf stuff can be modified or hacked to work locally (no external Internet). You can run your own server, and flash custom firmware.

The Sonoff (its an ESP8266 with a relay and 120VAC-5VDC). This guy (Andreas Spiess) does a lot of ESP8266 hacking for home automation.

2018-11-26 by dude mcginty

How about a post detailing a solution on how to use the older style dolphin packs (like the two I have for my 2016 Rad Rover) with the new shark (?) packs Rad is using in their latest models? I’m super bummed my two gorgeous packs outlived my Rover (failed free wheel rendering the bike a throttle-only machine). I wanted to get a replacement Rover but, as is, I can’t use my dolphin packs. That blows chunks. It makes me seriously consider another company for my ebike needs. After all, if Rad is going to go full Apple and switch formats/connections for no good reason from time to time, other than locking in their customers, then forget them.

Failing an old-to-new solution, perhaps a recommendation on how to best use the two packs. It’s disheartening to feel the sadness emanating from the batteries as they sulk into further depression, not being able to do what they were born to do: provide electricity.

2018-11-26 by Russell Graves

Wire up an adapter. Sorry, I’m not familiar with their new or old style packs in great detail.

You’re learning why I’m so cranky about building stuff myself, though…