Saturday, February 28, 2009

Brilliance in YouTubery!!!

Not sure when this was made, but this is pure brilliance. Makes me rethink the whole 'Idol Gives Back'!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I must confess, for the last couple of weeks, that I've been a little bit obsessed with receiving 'Over The Air' Digital TV. I've been reluctant to sign up with either Belll or Roggers for their so called 'Digital Cable' not only because I find the CAD 35+ per month fee oppressive, but the channels that they offer in their 'Basic Digital' package are all free channels that you could receive in Analogue if you stuck a basic antenna in the rear of your TV. Additionally we do not watch a lot of TV. In a typical week, we watch the American Idol shows and '24' on Monday. And that's that. The girls watch TVO kids for an hour every day and that's that. 

The US was supposed to complete their Analogue shutoff by Feb 17 '09, but this has been extended till June 12 '09. Canada makes the shift by 31 Aug '11. After that you're on your own.

I still have my old CRT that I brought over with me from Dubai. It's probably 12+ years old, but works fine. It has a built in multi-system tuner and has dual voltage capability. But methinks that it's time has come. As soon as I re frame the wall of the Media Centre, I'll get a new LCD to go on the wall.

But I digress.

So. What do you need to receive Digital TV???
1. A Television set ( this should be a no brainer)
2. An ATSC tuner (this should preferably be built into the above mentioned set)
3. A HDTV Antenna (A 4 bay works well for 40 miles. An 8 Bay will work better and up to 80 miles. I'm told that anything of the Gray-Hovermann 8 bay design will enable reception for 100 miles)

If however like me you do not have the ATSC tuner built in and still have that old CRT from the days of yore - then in addition to the above, you need the following

4. ATSC Converter Box

What the box does is convert the incoming 720p or 1080i signal and downscales it to 480i which is what is called SD or Standard Definition.

Finally, you need some but not all of these

5. Patience (for when things just don't work)
6. Some lengths of RG6 cable (The Antenna MUST be connected to the receiver)
7. A sense of balance (to be able to stand on a sloped roof)
8. A lack of Common Sense (to go up on the roof in Winter)
9. Gloves (so that your fingers do not freeze)

After a bit of basic experimentation (this translates directly as impatience) which involved me assembling the antenna and pointing it out the basement window, I was receiving only 3 channels clearly. CBS English, CBS French and Omni 1. I then screwed the antenna to a spare 2x4 and took the antenna out on to the deck where I received 7 channels. While this was nice, I was still not receiving CTV on which we watch American Idol.

This morning, after having spent the week hunting and gathering, I assembled the parts required to take the antenna on to the roof. I decided that the easiest way out was to bolt the mast to the vent pipe exiting the roof. This is where the gloves would have served me so well.

How did I determine distance and positioning?? Google Earth. Enabling the ruler tool, I drew a straight line from my house to the CN tower. This gave me the distance as well as the elevation of both my place and the CN tower as well as showing me (by eyeballing the path over which the line travelled) the direction.

So was all of that effort worth it??? You tell me.
These are the channels that I receive crystal clear. And FREE. Most, if not all are broadcast in 1080i. FYI. Neither Belll nor Roggers (Yes. that typo might keep me free from litigation) deliver full HD even at 720p. It's simple really. There isn't enough bandwidth to allow for all of their channel to allow HD.

Canadian Channels 
E! HD 

American Channels 

The Antenna that I bought is a very basic version and set me back CAD 30. I will upgrade to an 8 Bay Channel Master by summer when the new LCD TV is in.

For resources to get OTA HDTV in the GTA region, I would go to these sites.

c. (download a .kmz file for Google Earth showing stations and locations in Google Earth)
d. (for a list of stations in the GTA/Buffalo area with the broadcast resolution as well as a very big map showing distances etc.)

Where did I buy my stuff from???

e. (run by Joseph from his house and located in the Woodbridge area. Bought the Artec T3AP DTV Converter Box)
f. (located on Keele & Steeles - they are a closeout store - I picked up a vent mast mount kit as well as a F connector compression tool for 9.99 that normally retails for 19.99 elsewhere)
g. (located on Dufferin & Steeles as well as locations in Mississauga and Markham - bought the 4 bay antenna from them)                    
h. (located on Esna Drive in Markham - Have not bought anything from them due to their distance from me, but they do have similar offerings as the above three)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Plan for Today

This morning Lynda wants to get her hair cut and colored. This leaves me at a loose end with the girls.

So. What's a day without a plan.......

1. Drop Lynda off to the mall.
2. Drop off Aaliyah's completed books to the Brampton Library.
3. Drop in to the Flea Market for the latest movies.
4. Visit Ikea to have a look at the wall mounted Ann Sink that I plan to have installed in the washroom. (Pay the girls in 1$ Frozen Yogis for bearing with me) - (A frozen yogi is not a hermit from high up in the Himalayas)
5. Visit the Tiger Direct Superstore in Vaughan to buy the ATSC receiver that will allow me to receive HD signals on my CRT unit. This is to prove to me that the system works and once and for all show everyone how they can stick it to Roggers and Belll for charging 35+ $ for channels that are inherently free.
6. Drop in to Value Village at the side of Tiger Direct to pick up cheap reads and look for hackable tech.

So that's the plan. What to do after 12??????? Hmmmmmm. Got to keep busy. Got to keep busy.

Stumped for Cleanouts

I spent one whole day looking for Clean outs and Floor Drains. Everything that Home Depot, Lowe's or Rona carries is based on the assumption that these items will always be installed in an area that will be only consigned to utilitarian traffic. Even though the above mentioned will be in the Laundry Room, they will be in the direct path to the washroom and I was hoping to have the area as good looking as possible.

Watts Canada makes a nice adjustable unit with a classy bronze cover that I'm sure that I could stick vinyl tile over, however that body of the unit is Cast Iron, and I'm not very sure how to mate the CI body with the ABS pipe. 

Will have to run that by Mike as well. However not very impressed with the Big Box offerings.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Washroom & Laundry Room Build - Part 2

Yesterday, we completed all the piping. It was more complicated that previously envisioned. The system had a silt trap that led off from the Weeping Tile from the perimeter of the house which led into another trap that led up to the floor drain. This trap was then connected to the sanitary side of the drain. The system was not done so well in the first place, but I was convinced by Mike that the Weeping Tile side needed to be loosely fit in order for the water table to seep into the system and eventually drain, thereby eliminating the possibility of a flood.

This morning I had to get a Fernco coupling from Home Depot to connect the 4" Clay Tile to the 4" ABS pipe that will come up to floor level. Having installed the ABS pipe, I then proceeded to fill in the hole and tamp it down. I will give it a couple of days to settle down, adding more sand as necessary.

The warren of pipes

Another angle

Filled in

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Silent Post (or some images are worth a thousand words)



More Clothes!!

Washroom & Laundry Room Build - Part 1

On the 13th I finally started work on the Washroom. Mike from Cardinal plumbing came over and we reviewed the plans. 

First we removed the Concrete sink that weighed over 300 pounds and installed a standpipe directly into the watertrap of the old sink. We then moved the faucets of the washer beyond the proposed wall line of the new washroom. 

Mike had kindly donated his sledehammer and pickaxe to do the breaking of the concrete and the digging.

On the 17th, I broke the sink apart and moved it outside for future disposal at the Brampton Civic Dump. I then broke the floor with the sledgehammer to get the trench started. We have a cleanout close to the basement drain into which we plan to run the drains from the toilet as well as the shower.

This morning while digging, I hit water. This was not suposed to happen as the cleanout should lead directly into the main drain and out to the street. Anyways, Mike will be here tomorrow to have a look and advise what is to be done next.

More to follow.

300 lb sink proved no match for 50 lb Hammer

Looking into where the washroom will be. The shower tray is standing in the corner. 

Same corner - different view

The entranceway will be replaced by a 32" door. The Laundry pair will fit under the ducts. 

Digging in the dirt!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not Bad for a Day's Work!!!

Captain's Log - Star Date -313871.7393138002 
(That's February the 16th to you luddites)

Wow. By my own admission, I did accomplish a lot.

1. Built an High Definition antenna for free OTA (Over The Air) HD 
programming. The design was based on a Channel Master 4 Bay antenna

2. Painted Lynda's Walk in Closet. Color choice was 'Cloud' from 
Boomerang Paint. Boomerang makes a range of pre colored 
finishes made from recycling old paint. Sold by the Sally store, 
the cost is less than half of what regular paint costs at the big 
box stores.

3. Finally installed a Programmable Thermostat for the furnace. 
I had scored a Honeywell 5-1-1 Programmable Thermostat at 
one of the Garage Sales in summer for CAD 5.00. The cost of 
something similar is CAD 50.00 ++

4. Installed a Double Glazed window in the kitchen door which 
replaces a single pane of sheet glass that had no insulating 
properties whatsoever. The new pane was from the Flea Market
(Brand New) and cost me CAD 30.00. I had to enlarge the 
opening and it looks and feels amazing.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stuff that I've done Part V

Last spring Lynda had embarked on a project for her office. The project was essentially to scrapbook all of their events and have it displayed in their Foyer for all to peruse. Lynda needed a lectern to hold the book, but we were using Martha Stewart's largest Scrapbook which measures 18" high x 36" wide when open. All the lecterns that are commercially available were sized to hold a sheet of paper or at the most an open folder. This would no way do to hold open this album.

Add to that a non-existent budget and the job was mine. Like I ever had a choice!!!!!!!

I decided to make the unit out of project grade Pine for the base and the top surface. The legs are Newel Posts that are normally installed at the top and bottom of stair runs. I cut the Newels at an angle, cut radius' out of the bases as a design element, added a rest for the top plank, and rails for mounting. Dad did the final staining and it now sits at the DHL Brampton Call Centre.

The Newel Posts attached to the base.

Completely assembled and being tested for stability on a carpeted surface

From the Front

The Lectern holding the open Scrapbook

Sorry!! No Video

Apologies. I promised to post a video showing my Retro Squeezebox in action and the camera just would not cooperate. Will post as soon as I have it.
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