things I hate about APC
Sunday, March 27 2022
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
For breakfast, I ate leftover giant pasta shells with cubes of pan-seared tofu, onions, and mushrooms. I just put these chunks into the shells and ate them like stuffed mushrooms, and it was perfectly satisfying food without marinara sauce. This combination tasted a little like cold turkey.
Using the wood gathered yesterday, I managed to get temperatures in the cabin up above 60 degrees and would top out at around 65 by the time I headed back to Hurley.
Before all that, I had a lot of puttering still to do. The solar panel setup wasn't generating quite enough power to run the boiler (and thus keep the cabin above freezing for a hard cold snap that was about to commence), and a lot of this had to do with the dead Fortress Power lithium battery. Maybe I could run the boiler intermittently from one of the APC-branded uninterruptible power supplies I'd salvaged from the Red Hook office. So I took apart the larger APC 1500 power supply so I could remove the stupid piezoelectric beeper that sounds whenever household power fails (a "feature" I never find helpful). In so doing, I was reminded how much I hate the way APC devices are put together. There are lots of screws, some of which are hidden behind the front panel, which comes off in a somewhat unintuitive way. Inevitably, tabs holding things together end up being sheared off and rattling around inside irritatingly. A further complication with this particular unit was that the two ganged 12-volt lead-acid batteries, which provide storage of 24 volts, had cracked and swollen so much that they were almost impossible to extricate from the boxlike bay surrounding them. Those batteries didn't look like they were any good, and, not unexpectedly, they didn't hold a charge. The other two APC power supplies also seemed to either have bad batteries or other problems. So they weren't going to be any help.
So next I wanted to make it so the mercury thermostat in the first floor bathroom could once more turn on the generator when temperatures fell below a certain level. But to have that feature working, I would need to disable the inverter's signal to turn on the generator, which it would be sending whenever there was insufficient sunlight or battery charge, meaning that, in the absence of a working battery, the generator would be running most of the time. So I screwed a little outlet box onto the concrete foundation wall near the inverter and ran a pair of wires from it into the inverter to disable its two-wire generator turn-on signal via a toggle switch mounted to a face plate on the box I'd just added. All of this took awhile to install because I had to drill out holes in the concrete to hold the necessary screws. But once it was installed and fully tested, I could rely on the low-tech thermostat to turn on the generator (and thus the boiler) with the understanding that the solar installation chuckleheads could flip the toggle switch back should they ever get the battery working. It was very important that the generator and boiler come on reliably while after I left, because I no longer had the MySpool device to remotely monitor temperature. It was, as I mentioned yesterday, no longer working. And even if it were working, the cabin's internet connection had become highly unreliable and now required frequent intercession from an on-site human to get working again. An alternative solution would've been to re-winterize the cabin. But it would be much harder for Little John to fix the hot water heating system if I did that, and he was expected to be doing that later this week.
Meanwhile temperatures outside had been growing steadily colder. Ominously, there were occasional downpours of sleet and then snow flurries that left a visible dusting on the ground. Since I'd come in the snow-unsuitable Chevy Bolt, at some point this weather skeeved me out enough to cause me to park it at the top of the hill above the cabin so I wouldn't have to climb any steep slopes should they become covered with snow.
At 3:00pm or so, I was done with all the things I needed to do, so I locked up the cabin and coaxed the dogs to follow me up to where I parked the car so we could begin our two-hour drive back to Hurley.
Back home, Gretchen and I watched Jeopardy! and another episode of the Dropout. During the latter, I was drinking scotch as diphenhydramine kicked in, and I could feel the combination weighing down on my ability to form intelligible sentences. Not wanting Gretchen to notice this, I did my best to talk as little as possible.
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