Archive for the Problems Category

Help Stop the National Energy Tax!

Posted in Problems, Recession on May 19, 2009 by wizbandit

The Obama Democrats’ Cap and Trade bill will raise taxes on American families by nearly $3,100 a year and is the height of irresponsibility in the middle of a recession. Republicans can stop this massive tax hike, but we need the support of every Republican grassroots leader to do it. Please help Republicans stop this job-killing, bigger government, higher taxes legislation by making a contribution of $25, $50, $100, $500 or $1,000 to the RNC today. Thank you.



LG Fridge repaired but still a big POS

Posted in Problems on May 10, 2009 by wizbandit

The LG repairman that finally came out to fix our melted light housing, he said the LG “Legal Department” sent him out.  All he did was to replace the melted lamp holder with a new one that has a thermo-switch on it.  The lights are working with the door switch again.  I’m thinking what happened is the lights are controlled by a Microprocessor and it got hung up and kept the lights on until someone discovered everything melted.  Power-cycling the unit, i.e. unplugging it probably resets the MPU.  With our house totally solar powered and the LG fridge on the solar inverter setup the power never gets removed from it.  I put two Lights of America “40” LED lamps in it, they use 1.5 watts each and run cool but they too are disappointing as they are quickly falling into my POS basket.

GMAC BANK says, SORRY, we don’t need your money…

Posted in Problems, Recession on February 13, 2009 by wizbandit


SMART?  SIMPLE?  SAFE?  What the hell does that mean?

My 19 yr old son, in his 2nd semester of college, working tword an engineering degree, was just told by GMAC bank “you can’t open a Money Market account with us”.  He worked over the summer and saved up almost $1000. They called him and told him he didn’t have any credit so they would have to decline his request for an account with them.

They did offer him a “safe deposit” box to hold his cash.

As of today, we are pulling all our money out of GMAC bank.  Every last dime. HOW DOES THAT WORK FOR YOU GMAC BANK??


What a FARCE, seems GMAC BANK has all the money they need now, TAX PAYER’S MONEY!


Posted in Problems, Recession on January 28, 2009 by wizbandit


  Here in Florida, our Governor worked hard to get our property taxes reduced. To this I say thank you Governor Charlie Crist.  We live about as far in the country as you can get in Pinellas County, FL.  We have 5.5 acres we purchased in 1996. Two things we have here to keep our county taxing authority in check are SOH (Save Our Homes) cap, which limits come much each county can JACK UP our property taxes and Homestead Exemption.  Our Homestead exemption was doubled to $50,000 this year.  The old exemption of $25,000 did little to reduce property taxes on a $500,000 home, even the $50k does not do much but I guess it helps on a $100,000 home.

  Now comes the counties in Florida, complaining about property tax revenues falling short of meeting present budgets.  Pinellas County, FL is no exception, they are “talking” of closing Parks and Libraries, reducing county services like Animal Control & Code Enforcement.

  To put this in some “real” numbers, our property taxes for 2007 on 5.56 Acres purchased in 1996 for $207,500 was about $3,000.  We have a few easements that help reduce our taxes, one being from the power company for some power lines across the north running the full length of our property and another from CTX Railroad who still has an easement across our property.  My neighbor, on his 2.43 Acres purchased in 2004 for $300,000 paid $5000 in 2007.

  As you can see, property taxes are horrendous here in Florida.  Now to what is PISSING ME OFF!

  Pinellas County was out mowing the road sides along my property this morning. Now, we have not had enough rain this month to even keep the dust down, It’s January in Pinellas County Florida, the grass on the road sides is NOT GROWING THIS TIME OF YEAR!!

Look here, roadside – my yard.


Now, does this look like it needs mowing?  I’m on the right side of the fence, I have not mowed nor watered this zone yet this year!

Here is the waste, look close, 3 mowers and a guy in an orange vest supervising. Mowing WHAT??  The DIRT?  Or maybe THE ROAD NEEDS MOWING?



This is a TOTAL WASTE of my TAX DOLLARS!  How about “THE HELL WITH ROADSIDE MOWING” and use this wasted tax money to keep a few Libraries open?

This Comment Needs Serious Interpretation.

Posted in Problems on November 7, 2008 by wizbandit

That’s unfortunate. Just because some kids went on your lawn and stole some signs? Just because “Joe the Plumber” in his fictional scenario would see taxes increase slightly because Obama decided not to continue the already-here Federal “Make Us Richer” tax cuts? Just because your candidate lost?

I’m not going to debate this with you on your (or my) blog, but it’s a surprisingly immature attitude of “taking my ball and going home” mentality from an adult.


First off, I was going to take the signs down the day after anyhow, By someone taking my signs it was nothing more than a member of the Obama tribe “rubbing my nose in the Obama Feces”.

And obviously this guy has not been paying attention.  I admit, I lost the game, I went home, but the BALL I took home was NOT my BALL, it was HIS.  You see, I had no Basketball, he has many, many Basketballs.

Someone TOOK one of HIS Basketballs and gave it to ME, even though I didn’t WIN, I didn’t work for it, nor did I give him ANYTHING in return.  This is the EXACT same thing Obama is going to do, he is just going to do it with DOLLARS.

We Need Change? Okay Obama, I have your CHANGE…

Posted in Problems on November 7, 2008 by wizbandit

November 4th, 2008 was a time of “change” for us.  My family supported the McCain-Palin ticket, myself being a life-long Republican and my wife as well, being a life-long Democrat. Election night thieves stole all our McCain-Palin signs from out in the front yard.

We were in the process of building a Solar Renewable Energy Installation company, Solar Hot Water systems and Photovoltaic Electric Power systems.  We had our Florida State Contractors License, we were working on our Solar Contractor License, we were in the process of obtaining county licenses, posting bonds, setting up insurance and a fleet of trucks.  On November 5th, 2008 we decided NOT to participate in the upcoming Federal “Share-the-Wealth” program.  We are NOT going to pour our hearts and soles into something we love to do just to have our money given to someone who did not work for it.  We have stopped operations and closed the doors.

The end results?  My wife and I retired and will live off our pension for the next 4 years.

1- We WON’T be spending money with GM nor FORD for company installation trucks.

2- We WON’T be buying conduits and electrical supplies from GRAYBAR ELECTRIC.

3- We WON’T be buying wire from HOUSTON WIRE.

4- We WON’T be buying aluminum solar mounting hardware from PROSOLAR.

5- We WON’T be buying MULTI-CONTACT Solar Panel Connectors.

6- We WON’T be buying fuel from BIG OIL.

7- We WON’T be paying Licensing fees to the State of FL, Pinellas Co., Hillsbourgh Co. and Pasco Co.

8- We WON’T be buying Insurance and Bonds.

9- We WON’T be providing jobs to 10 American Workers.

10- We WON’T be helping the environment, reducing CO2 emissions and help provide clean renewable energy to 1000’s of homes and businesses across the Great State of Florida.

I am ashamed of my state, The Great State of Florida, for supporting a man that is going to force many businesses to close their doors.  How does this work for you now President OBAMA?  Can you hear me NOW? Oh yea, in case we forget, he is HALF WHITE.

TRACE SWCA, an Expensive device to break.

Posted in Problems, Solar Power on October 7, 2008 by wizbandit

I had one of my two $175 TRACE/XANTREX SWCA Inverter RS232 interfaces quit working on me a few weeks back.  I had opened these units up once to install power through an isolation low voltage drop diode to power a Bluetooth serial adapter.  They are mostly SMT inside with the exception of the MPU which is an Atmel AT89C2051.  The other SMT chips include a 74HC14, 232ACBN, 74HC86, 24LC04B, DG417, and on the back side a PCF8574AT.


The interface uses a standard 4 conductor flat telephone cable.  How the RJ11 terminal is crimped on the wire is important. Here is the pin-out as it ends up at the RJ11 to DB9F (provided with the SWCA): RED = PIN2, BLACK = PIN3, YELLOW = PIN5.  The GREEN in all I have seen is not connected.  I use this to provide 5V on PIN9 of the DB9 to power my Bluetooth to Serial converter which accepts 4-9 volts on PIN9 as POWER.  I found +5V on the PCB off a SMT Capacitor on the power rail.

The SMT part that had failed was the DG417 Analog switch.  From what I can see it is what turns on the DATA OUT line which is the RED wire when the SWCA is selected using its preset address.  The address is set using the antique DOS software that comes with it.  You can actually command up to 8 SW series inverters (SW5548 for instance) which requires you to connect the SWCA as the ONLY device on the serial port to “SET” the ID from 1 to 8 in the flash memory.  If you Parallel SWCA’s with the same ID there is no communication because of data collisions.  When I put my defective SWCA on with my good one the good one quit working so it was simple enough to trace back the data wires from the DB9 to the PCB.  I found the RED wire going directly to PIN-1 of the DG417.  PIN-8 is the data in so I just measured across the pins and got like 84 ohms.  The good SWCA measured infinite ohms so I knew the chip was shorted.  I ordered some from Digi-Key for $2.28 each, they should be here tomorrow.  I’m hoping the suspected ESD didn’t get past the DG417.  I could still send commands to the inverter so I know that part is working fine.  Just no data back at me.  The DG417 is an 8 pin SMT device, not real hard to remove. 

I have installed ESD protection on both the DATA LINES.  I use P6KE27CA Solid State devices in all my RS232 projects for ESD protection.  This is the very same device used in the Radio Shack RS232 inline surge protector from many years past.


24LC4B (4K I2C Serial EEPROM),  PCF8574AT (Remote 8-Bit I/O Expander for I2C BUS),  AT89C2051 (2Kbyte Flash Microcontroller),  DG417 (Precision CMOS Analog Switch),  232ACBN (High Speed +5V Powered RS-232 Transmitter/Receiver,  74HC14 (Hex inverting Schmitt trigger),  74HC86 (Quad EXCLUSIVE-OR Gate).


The part came from Digi-Key right on time.  I soldered in a new DG417 and I’m happy to report SWCA #2 is back in service and fully functional.  The only quirk I have is my two are different versions and the UP/DN arrows on one are reversed which is a pain.

Clay Archer reverse engineered the REMOTE PORT on the SWxxxx TRACE inverters and was kind enough to provide the information on the port.  Here is his letter and the details. 

Here are some of my notes on the SWCA.   I’m in the process of putting together my own interface, initially with a parallel port interface to a PC, and eventually a stand-alone PIC processor with an ethernet interface, when I can find time to work on it.  I don’t intend on making a commercial product with this, but if you develop anything with it I would appreciate some feedback. 


SWCA interface pinout: (DB25)

01) V+  5V

02) NC or Gnd

03) Gnd

04) Gnd

05) Gnd

06) NC

07) DB7 (14)

08] DB4 (11)

09) DB2 (9)

10) DB0 (7)

11) NC

12) NC

13) NC

14) LCD Enable (6)

15) Reset

16) LCD Read/Write (5)

17) LCD RS Data/Instruction (4)

18] Read Switch/Enable

19) Write LEDs enable (latch)

20) DB6  [13]

21) DB5  [12]

22) DB3  [10]

23) DB1  [8]

24) NC

25) NC 


LED and switch bits:

      LED                     Switch

DB0   over current              set+

DB1   float                     set-

DB2   AC2                       menu up

DB3   inverting                 menu down

DB4   error                     menu ->

DB5   line tie                  menu <-

DB6   AC1                       on/off

DB7   bulk                      Gen



LCD is an HD44780 based LCD display (I think) with 2 lines &40 chrs.  Numbers in () are LCD module pins. 


 You can find documentation on the HD44780 based LCD on the internet. The SW inverter interface (DB25) port was initially designed as an external keypad and display, basically a  duplicate of the internal keypad/display.


 The SWCA is a PIC processor designed to emulate the keypad/display and interface to a serial port as a display terminal emulation. To talk to the SW inverter you will need to emulate the HD44780 registers to read data and emulate the pushbutton switches to request data from the SW inverter. You could also just build an external display. Parts used in the internal display are two 74HC573  (8 bit latches to latch the LEDs and pushbuttons) one 74HC14 (to debounce & buffer the enable for the LCD display) and an LCD display with assorted resistors & cap’s etc. I have a rough schematic of the internal display, if you want I can scan it and send you a copy. 


Good luck,

Clay Archer