Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hints and Tips for TP-LINK Powerline Adapter AV-2000

After installing four AV-2000 TP-LINK Powerline adapters to connect three TVs to my cable router, I have a few comments to make that may or may not help you install yours.

1. If for some reason, you can't plug your adapter directly into a wall socket, go ahead and use a short extension cord or a small outlet strip. The company says not to do this. But I could not reach the wall outlet behind my upstairs TV, so I  had to rig a tool to plug an extension cord (maybe five or six feet long) into the outlet and then plug the adapter into the cord. My reasoning is that the cord wiring is about the same size (number 16 wire compared to house wire of 14 most likely), so the adapter wouldn't really know the difference.

My kitchen TV hangs on the wall, with a two-socket outlet in a small, shallow box indented into the wall behind it. So let's count the sockets we need: cable box, TV, adapter. That's three. Well, what about the pass-through socket on the front of the adapter? Well, the adapter itself is so big that it blocks the other outlet. Not enough room in the little box to plug the adapter into the bottom outlet and besides, the cable box power supply is three inches long. Solution, a small outlet strip.

CAUTION: TP-LINK says not to do this. Why? Because if you buy a fancy outlet strip, it is likely to have power surge protection or other voltage filtration, and you might be filtering the data right out of your connection. I took my outlet strip apart first to be sure there were no add-ons. (Please don't take yours apart while it is plugged in or if you don't really know what you are doing.) It seems unlikely that the little three or four socket strips such as the ones a the dollar store will have any filtration.

2. Pairing. For both initial set up (connecting your router to the base adapter and the base to the remote adapter) I finally discovered that things work much better if you plug your remote device (TV or PC or printer or whatever) into the adapter and turn the device on.

In other words, my instructions for adding an adapter to your existing Powerline network are as follows:

Step 1: Plug your new adapter into the wall near the device you want to connect to your network.
Step 2. Using the supplied Ethernet cable, plug your device into the adapter.
Step 3. Turn your device on.
Step 4. Press the Pair button on your base Powerline adapter.
Step 5. Press the Pair button on the new adapter.

These steps saved me many failed attempts to connect.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Screw Removal Pliers Engineer Neji-saurus RX PZ-59 8-inch Linesman Pliers

I love getting packages from Amazon, so when I hear that one has arrived, I always run downstairs to get it. When I picked up the package containing these pliers, my wife asked, "What did you get?" When I told her, she suppressed a scoff, but had that look on her face that said, "Don't  you already have a dozen or  two pliers?" So I explained the screw removal feature briefly and showed her the tool. She was, um, polite.

So I went the the workshop, where, thankfully, I found my Channellock 8 1/2" Linesman pliers. I grabbed my drill driver and sank a sheet metal screw in to a small, scrap piece of 2x4, and brought everything to my wife. First, I gave her the Channellocks and told her to try to remove the screw. She asked, "Why don't you just use a screwdriver?" I explained that we were supposing the head had been stripped out. So then she tried to grab the screw head with the pliers. They kept slipping off, in spite of the fact that the Channellocks have a cross-hatched face instead of a series of horizontal ridges, as do most lesser linesman's pliers.

Next, I handed her the Engineer RX PZ-59 pliers. Immediately she got a grip on the screw head and began to twist it out. We were both impressed.

Now, Channellock has always been my reference standard for pliers (needle nose, water pump [aka slip joint], nippers, linesman) because they have always been the very best. However, these PX-59s are replacing my Channellock linesmans in my tool box.

+ curved, vertically slotted indentation in the mouth for gripping and removing screws
+ inter-meshed side teeth for gripping thin workpieces
+ wire cutter
+ unadvertised crimp area behind plier head
+ non-slip-off plastic molding on  handles
+ carbon steel with HRC58-62 hardness
+ approximately 7 3/4" long
+ max jaw opening at tip of mouth 1 1/8"
+ made in Japan

I am always enthusiastically stripping out the cheap Phillips head screws that accompany all those "some assembly required" items we keep getting. So it goes without saying that this item is a must have for me.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pisen 7500 mAh Hand Warmer and Power Bank Review

Many people have cold hands, especially in the winter. One solution that's been around awhile is the battery-powered hand warmer. These don't emit smoke or odor like the "old-fashioned" ones that operate on lighter fluid. They come in various sizes, based on the amount of battery power they have. A standard entry is the 2500 milli Amp hour size. This review covers the Pisen 7500 mAh size, which I bought hoping it will heat for the 3-4 hours claimed. Included with the unit are a very short USB cable, a printed manual written in partial Chinese-English, but no sock. (Many warmers include a sock to insulate the user a bit from the substantial heat the warmers produce. I'm rushing this review now because some of the reviews on Amazon suggested that the unit doesn't work. After I charged the unit up to 100% (in just a couple of hours), I pressed the "Hot" button and nothing happened. At first, I wondered if the reviews were right. I had read through the owner's manual twice, but couldn't find out how to turn it on. After a very careful third reading, I came across a sentence that said you have to PRESS AND HOLD the Hot button for one and a half seconds to turn on the warming function. Same to turn off the warmer. Pressing and holding turns on a little orange light and the warmer works. So far so good. More later.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Ruvati RVM4350 Stainless Steel Sink Review

If it's any indication, my wife practically sang for joy when the Ruvati RVM4350 stainless steel sink was installed. Back story. Wife and I looked at several places for a new sink, (The Blue Store and the Orange Store included). The hardware stores just didn't have what we were interested in, even though for $250 or so, the price was okay. I say that because we looked at some stores with $750 sinks. They were okay, too, but not worth the price. Shopping around was a great educational experience, though, because it refined our preferences: 1. A 16-gauge steel sink is thicker than an 18-gauge steel sink. Just as a 12-gauge wire is thicker than a 14-gauge wire. Go figure. 2. Undermount sinks allow you to sweep the counter into the sink with no lip to worry about. 3. Sound deadening is desirable. It keeps your sink from dinking loudly when it is hit with something (knife, glass, pan). So, I happened to find myself searching on Amazon and came across the Ruvati RVM4350 16-gauge, T-304 stainless steel, low divide, undermount sink with noise reduction (sound attenuation) panels. Included are two rinse grids that fit into the bottom of each bowl. (At one store the $750 sink had rinse grids available for another $65 each.) The rinse grids are great, both for protecting the sink bottom from damage by pots and pans, and for keeping dishes and vegetables up off the the bottom when you are rinsing them. The Ruvati RVM4350 also includes two basket strainers that have a deep strainer that can be pulled out. The strainer baskets can catch quite a lot of debris before they fill up and need to be dumped. This is a real benefit over ordinary sink strainers. The low-rise middle divider is handy for washing large platters and other dishes because it allows you to spill water into both sinks while soaping or rinsing. If you are in the market for an excellent, large new stainless steel sink, you certainly should consider the Ruvati RVM4350. Dimensions: 32.25 inches wide, 18.875 inches front to back, 8.5 inches deep. Bottom line: This is what five stars is all about.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mini T6 LED Zoomable Flashlight by HausBell--Review

The HausBell Mini T6 LED Zoomable flashlight is a very satisfying product, not only because it is a great performer, but also because the manufacturer understands the semiotics of quality. That is to say, the flashlight looks and feels like a quality tool. With three AAA batteries installed, the heft of the heavy gauge aluminum body makes you think, "This little guy is a serious item." Coupled with the feel of the various textures (crosshatched, smooth, ribbed, angled) and the lotus shaped head, the light seems to speak quality.

Operationally, the Mini T6 hasa pull and push zoom lens, allowing you to vary the beam from spot light to wide area flood light. The rated output is 300 lumens.

The light features five modes:  high beam, medium beam, low beam, strobe, and SOS. However, unlike those irritating lights that make you cycle all the way through every alternative before you get to OFF, a full push on the button (on the back end) turns the light off. If you wait a few seconds, a full push turns the light on with the high beam. Half pushes cycle through the modes. A full push  turns off the light from any mode and another full push in quick succession turns it back on in the next mode.

THE light comes with a wrist lanyard to help prevent dropping it.

Other brands of what appears to be the same body design flashlight are available, but I don't know what differences there are, if any.

The lights are only about five inches long, making them ideal for glovebox, bedside table, kitchen junk drawer, toolbox, or elsewhere.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tp-Link Powerline Adapter AV2000 Gigabit Passthrough Kit for 4K TV and Computers--Review

Powerline adapters make use of your home's electrical wiring to send Internet network signals from one electrical outlet to another. Why does this matter? If you just bought a new 4K UHD Smart TV, you probably want to view some 4K video content from providers such as Netflix. You probably allowed your smart TV to connect to your cable modem/router wirelessly. Therein lies the problem. Many wifi channels in home modem/routers might supply only 10 Mbs (megabits per second). That's fine for HD TV, but for 4K, Netflix recommends a bandwidth of 25 Mbs. And that means a wired connection to your cable modem/router.

Oops. Did you forget to run Cat 6 cable throughout your house when you built it? Drat. Don't you just  hate that? And did your significant other veto running cable along the ceiling and under the rugs? Well, cheer up. Powerline adapters are to the rescue. Here is what I did.

I bought the TP-LINK TL-PA9020P Starter Kit, the fastest powerline adapter in TP-LINK's offerings. The kit consists of two adapters and two network cables. The box claims these puppies can transmit up to 2000Mbs.

First false start. The box said plug one unit into an outlet near your cable modem/router and the other unit near where you need your internet/network signal. Well, that's fine for you to say, but the outlet nearest my modem/router is behind a desk and a rat's nest of wires. So, can't do that. There is an outlet just a few feet away, but too far for the included two-meter-long network cable to go from the powerline adapter to the modem/router. So I just used an extension cord.

The adapter near my 4K TV was down behind the TV, but with sufficient bodily contortions, I managed to plug the adapter into the wall. Connecting the adapters to each other, forming the network connection, is known as pairing. To pair these two units to each other, press the pair button on one and and then within two minutes, press the pair button on the other. The middle LED light will go on, indicating a completed, 128-bit AES encrypted network. Or maybe the middle light won't go on.

I tried pairing the units about a dozen times, first pressing one and then the other. Both had two of the three green lights on, but neither showed a connection (that middle LED).

Okay, so I knew the extension cord was a lame idea, so after some thought, I rearranged the stuff on my wife's desk (just on the other side of the wall), and plugged the unit into an outlet and the cable into the modem/router.

Second false start. This time, when I tried pairing, the middle light on both units lit. Success! I thought foolishly and prematurely. When I visited the "Check Your Network" screen in Netflix. it said Netflix was connected via wifi and not via the internet. The speed check in Netflix showed the wifi speed of 29Mbs. That is marginally enough for 4K, but who wants marginal when someone downloading a big pdf or jpeg can eat into that enough to drop me out of 4K?

So on that screen is a big Netflix help number, so I called that and said I couldn't figure out how to switch Netflix from wifi to wired. The guy didn't even laugh; he was very polite when he told me that it was a matter to be taken up with the TV.

Success at last.  So I grabbed my Samsung Smart TV remote and went into the settings. Did you know you can tell the TV to look at the cable plug for its internet signal and turn off wifi? So I did. Back to the Netflix Check your Network choice. My network feed to my TV now shows 90Mbs!!

The Review.
The TL-PA9020P startup kit is (theoretically) a snap to set up. Plug and play with no software to install. Each unit has two ethernet cable ports, adding flexibility to  the setup. With a little perseverance, it can be installed by anyone, almost.

+ Two ethernet ports on each unit means you can add a computer or gaming system as well as your TV
+Gigabit speed
+Pass through outlet
+1000 foot range between units.
+24/7 toll free technical support
+You can pair more units to the existing two

The unit takes up the entire two-outlet space

The Bottom Line:
Powerline adapters solve a real problem really well. If you need the internet for the TV in the living room or for the computer in the basement--when your modem/router is in the den, then I recommend that you check out powerline adapters. I did a couple of hours of research looking at different brands and features and capacities. These might be overkill, but they are feature rich and great performers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Glacier Bay 18-inch Concealed Grab Bar Review

The Glacier Bay 18-inch Grab Bar with concealed mounting screws is ultimately a good product, once installed.  However, it is poorly designed for mounting.

As the instructions say, "Studs are usually 16 in apart." However, the grab bar is 18 inches long, which means that the only mounting holes that will align over a pair of 16 inch apart studs are the two underneath the bar, making it difficult to get a screwdriver in.

Worse, the instructions SAY to position the bar over the studs and mark the mounting holes, but the drawing shows pencils marking mounting holes at 18 inches, not 16. And the unlabeled ruler designed to  help you install the bar shows 18 tick marks between the marked mounting holes, not 16.

So I marked the actual stud locations for both ends of the grab bar and drilled 1/8-inch pilot holes as the instructions indicated. But when I used my drill-driver to put in the screws, the screw heads were chewed out when the going got a little bit tough. I tried sinking three screws, using lots of pressure on the drill to prevent cam out, but the screws just chewed up. I had to back out the screws (which were half to an inch left to screw in) with a pair of  slip joint pliers. After that, I used some two-inch drywall screws, and they went in easily. So why is this company including cheap screws?

And why doesn't Glacier Bay make a 16-inch grab bar instead  of an 18-inch?

The bar, once installed correctly, is sturdy, attractive, and handy. The 1.25 inch diameter of the bar makes a nice fit for the hands.

P.S. On the outside of the mounting ring, where there was no stud under the mounting holes, I inserted a 50-pound-load nylon wall anchor into the drywall and then put in a two-inch screw. So the installation is very solid.

Of the ten models listed on the installation instructions, exactly none of them are 16, or 32 inches, which would meet stud needs.

So, I think I will continue shopping for another brand.