A little more life

When we built our house we installed as the main HVAC, in Finnish, a Poistoilmalämpöpumput (PILP). Whether that was the most efficient thing to do over that time is a good question, but it is now nearing its twentieth year with only a few hiccups. Those include filling the air exchange unit with water that destroyed the output air fan as well as a couple of electrical condensers being replaced. The timing of these episodes has always been impeccable, so it was of course right on New Year’s Day that the unit started making a noise audible right through the house.

Twenty years is quite well beyond the expected lifespan for a system like this so it was slightly relieving to find it seemed to be only the input fan, but calling out someone under any circumstances is expensive and takes time. It occurred to me to just replace the fan myself since is an easily accessible unit with a simple connector. A few hours of searching made me doubt that. The model of PILP we have is a Nibe Fighter 410P and it seems that although the model was sold for multiple years the components in it have changed. The fans alone have moved from AC to DC over the years and even within the AC type fans the manufacturer has changed. The original model in ours from 2004 is a Swedish Östberg model RFE 140 DUU S2. These don’t exist any longer and although there are generic ventilation system fans with similar size and specs whether those could be a drop-in replacement isn’t clear. In some forums it was implied that they require different control electronics to work. An AC fan apparently requires a controller to ensure it spins in the required direction. The replacement fans price ranged from 150 – 350€, so a mistake is expensive. But calling a repair person to visit is easily another 200€ on top of that.

From the forum investigations I learned that the only thing that fails in the fans are the bearings and those bearings are technically replaceable. Some versions of the owners manual even instruct how to do this. So, if it was failing anyway then pulling it apart couldn’t really make it that much worse. After translating 10 – 15 year old Finnish forum posts I did some double checking of the fan and then went shopping.

Official instructions thanks to the interwebs

Firstly, the bearings themselves are hidden by a plastic plug over the main motor shaft. You remove the plug by jamming a sharp object down the side and levering it out. That exposes the bearing which turns out to be a 608Z ABE C5. Luckily Biltema has exactly this available for 7,40€ each.

What awaits under the plug

The next issue is that there are two bearings, one exposed under the plug and one at the other end of the shaft. After removing the retaining clip off the shaft and some washers next use something and a hammer to tap the shaft and drop it out of the top bearing.

This frees the shaft and motor enclosure and exposes the second bearing. This one is bonded to the shaft by age and will not come out. This requires a bearing removal tool which I also bought from Biltema based on my forum reading. Except that the one I got is far too big to fit inside the motor enclosure and also has too fat feet to slip under the bearing. After some contemplation and swearing there was another trip to Motonet for a different model of the puller tool. Of course not having taken exact measurements I just had to pick something that looks like it would fit and have feet that would slip under the bearing. This one was nearly 40€ or 4x the price of the wrong one from Biltema. And of course when I got home and tried with the new one it also didn’t fit in to the housing. Well almost didn’t fit, since with some creative usage it was possible to get the bearing to move enough to use the puller as intended and get it finally off the shaft. The replacement just slipped back in.

The devil at the bottom of the shaft

The first bearing was free of the shaft already, but jammed into the motor housing. Getting it out required creative use of a screwdriver and hammer. Luckily the bearing is slightly smaller than the size of the hole through the motor where the shaft goes, meaning you can wedge something against it from inside the motor and tap on it to free it from the housing. The replacement also goes back in with a few taps to seat it fully.

New hobbies for the New Year

The only thing remaining is to put everything back together, the shaft back in place, and the washers, retainer and plug. Then mount the fan back into its duct, and then install the whole unit back in place. When I finally switched the Nibe back on it made it normal startup racket and the fans started spinning and made a terrible grinding noise. After a momentary panic I realised it isn’t the fan, but something else entirely.

Next to the fan is a solenoid that holds open a door on the air channel while the unit is on. Obviously when the unit is off it blocks the channel and prevents back flow of air from the house. That is connected via a spring loaded arm through the wall of the fan unit mounting. That arm vibrates against the sheet steel wall and makes a racket. Holding the arm just right silences it, but nothing I can do stops it vibrating except by holding it. As it happens there was a small kitchen sponge handy and jamming it against the arm stops the vibration completely. This brought on some serious déjà vu, but I have no idea what the solution was previously.

The end result is the normal amount of noise with near silent fans again and at a cost of 60€. The biggest concern now is that how long can we get away with this. The service guy we used previously already warned that something more serious like fixing a compressor failure would be not worth the investment. A replacement HVAC system is likely to be close to 20000€.

Modern life

A couple of hours this evening spent going through every online auto renewing subscription and changing the credit card number. Good thing it only expires every few years and that I thought to actually keep a list of all those.


Our hosting provider moved site to a new server and broke everything in the process.

Why it was broken wasn’t obvious since all I could get is a 500 server error :-(. After a lot of investigation and dead ends it turned out that the Apache .htaccess file format has changed since I first moved to WordPress. Not something that I would have thought could change, but all the Redirect rules broke this new Apache.

On the other hand I now have a lot more settings to play with.

Stock options

Many years ago I got an i7-860 with stock cooler. 

It survived first as a desktop and now as a server.

But after years of suffering with this piece of 💩 stock cooler it finally annoyed me enough to replace it. The maximum temperature (either stress-test or video encoding) went from 92°C to 51°C…

Time to get serious about ripping.

Wasted hours

I got a cheap wireless router a couple of weeks ago to replace our slowly aging/dying ones, mainly to use as access points. So today I tried to set it up. It is a Zyxel NBG-418N v2 for a grand total of 25€. It even has a set of modes to set it to Router, Access Point, etc. Which of course is useful if you actually need that sort of thing. And if you aren’t a network engineer lets just say that those modes are quite different.

I first had the bright idea that instead of unplugging a computer I would just use the iPad. Seemed reasonable and worked, except that switching to Access Point in the web console didn’t seem to do anything. Anything at all, over, and over again. Every time AP was set it would reboot, taking minutes to come back, and then it was still in Router mode. :-(.

So some googling later nothing. I sort of hacked the thing to work using the advanced settings, but it still didn’t work quite right. Especially NAT was active and no way to disable it. I moved it to the place where I actually wanted it and tried again. Nothing, over, and over again.

I unplugged the MacBook from its tangle of cables on the desk and used a cable. Still nothing. Updated the firmware. Nothing. Reset to factory defaults. Nothing. Rebooted it. Nothing. Changed the network settings on the Mac. Nothing. Reset to factory defaults. Nothing. Swore at Zyxel. Googled. Nothing. Turned off WLAN. Nothing. Rebooted. Nothing. It sort of worked. It connected to the LAN and was available on wireless. But still in the half configured mess it was before.

Put the MacBook back in its normal place and connected again to the web console and thought, I wonder if there is something wrong with the web console. Safari on this machine doesn’t have the web developer tools enabled so I started Firefox and connected to the router. I found the page and put a break-point on the script. Sure enough it wasn’t doing anything complicated. Changing the router mode just set a value in a form, and did a script based form-post to the router. Unfortunately when I stepped through the page it timed out. So refresh the page and try again. Only this time since I had refreshed it lost my break-point on the script and when I switched the mode and pressed the Apply button it didn’t pause, but just went straight ahead and rebooted.

Only now when I reconnected it was in Access Point mode. WTF?!, WTF?!?!?

The only difference was switching from Safari (iPad, MacBook) to Firefox. Obviously the Zyxel web console doesn’t work correctly in Safari, but fails silently.

In the immortal words of Russ Hanneman, Fuck you Zyxel. Fuck you in the ass.

What is the world coming to?

iTunes did another one of its seemingly random minor updates again the other day. And today I opened it to watch one of the few podcasts that I use still use it for only to notice that it looked a bit weird.

As it turns out Apple has finally (and this is a real finally) adopted HiDPI support on Windows. From their release notes,

This update is designed for high DPI displays so text and images appear sharper and clearer. It also includes minor app and performance improvements.

I would guess that they got a little push in this direction since iTunes is supposed to be moving to the Windows Store, but it is 2017, and HiDPI has been a thing for over five years. There are complaints about it not scaling correctly above 250%, but this fixes one of the last major desktop apps. Not a minor thing when many laptops come with 4k screens now.

Comments on the webs

Usually reading comments is not something recommended, but sometimes you come across something worth the effort. 

In response to this, http://gizmodo.com/nasa-calls-bullshit-on-goops-120-bio-frequency-healing-1796309360 you find occasional gems. Via http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/nasa-slams-goop/

Most people live in a world of magic that they do not understand. They flip a switch and the room becomes brighter. They turn a key and the car starts (making noise) and they can then make it go places. They put pre-packaged food into a box and press flat numbered places on the front and the food spins and gets hot. They walk up to a transparent wall and part of it slides out of their way… They swipe and press on places on a flat glass rectangle and get photos of cats and of their friends making funny faces… ALL of this is magic. They have no idea how any of it works, not really.

Is it any wonder that people believe in magic rocks to put into private parts? Or that this or that magic fruit will help them be healthy? Or that one type of needle wards off evil spirits (viruses) that can make them sick and another type of needle wards off evil spirits (unbalanced chi) that can make them sick? They literally have no means off separating our modern tech and science from woo. All of it is magic.

As Arthur C. Clark said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We have arrived.

– http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/nasa-slams-goop/#comment-338655

Catching up

It has been a long while since we caught up with the life of our two dogs. It has had its ups and downs.

We have had fun in the yard

Played games, or not

Had treats

Guarded the yard

And patrolled the borders

Visited our favourite places

Had emergency surgery

And gotten bored visiting relatives

Or made the most of it

Searched for things we lost

And had a serious rest afterwards

Had friends over to visit

Helped with the summer harvest

And have had some hot summer trips

Enjoyed our own yard

And spent time relaxing together

Had a stressful couple of months with cancer

Waited patiently for dinner

Had more games in the snow

And spent some quiet time together

Gotten our toes wet

And sometimes looked our best

But mostly we are keeping the road safe from strangers

Fun with a UPS

Two things come to mind.

  1. The joys of living in the country side
  2. It has been a relatively quiet winter


2016-08-13 05:51:32 +0300  Power failure.
2016-08-13 05:59:48 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-08-14 10:04:36 +0300  Power failure.
2016-08-14 10:04:37 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-13 07:10:29 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-13 07:10:31 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-30 10:46:39 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-30 10:46:41 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-30 10:46:41 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-30 10:46:43 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-09-30 10:47:42 +0300  Power failure.
2016-09-30 10:47:44 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-10-06 18:44:42 +0300  Power failure.
2016-10-06 18:44:44 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-10-11 08:09:43 +0300  Power failure.
2016-10-11 08:09:45 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-10-28 17:43:18 +0300  Power failure.
2016-10-28 17:43:49 +0300  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-23 13:29:53 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-23 13:30:55 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-23 13:30:56 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-23 13:44:40 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 00:57:35 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 00:58:37 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 01:04:23 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 01:35:42 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 01:36:58 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 01:37:43 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2016-11-28 01:37:43 +0200  Power failure.
2016-11-28 01:37:43 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2017-01-30 13:11:37 +0200  Power failure.
2017-01-30 13:11:39 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.
2017-02-04 07:42:26 +0200  Power failure.
2017-02-04 07:42:28 +0200  Power is back. UPS running on mains.