Aug 31, 2016

Aug - 31 2016 | By

This show is being relayed from the national Forest in Oregon near Hells Canyon



Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at:
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >

For a couple of months, the audio of today’s show will be here. Recent shows are here.


Glenn was in the studio. Paul called in from the national Forest in northeast Oregon, south of Hells Canyon near a town called Half And Half. Paul’s audio was very crappy; I did the best I could to decipher.


They were joined by Adam Brodel of Smarter Broadband, an internet service provider. A few years ago, Smarter Broadband acquired Full Spectrum, which continues doing business under that name by providing DSL, email, web hosting and dialup.

Today is Adam’s birthday, and tomorrow Paul celebrates his own.

Adam said his business of providing internet connections is growing well with over 2000 customers. It currently covers the area from 5 Mile House down to northern Auburn, and 80 <the highway, I guess> to Browns Valley. He said this is one of the worst areas for wireless broadband because of all the trees and hills blocking the signal.

Paul said he posted a photo of his current location as part of today’s show notes. Glenn went to have a look but didn’t see the picture. They’ll try to make it available before the next show. <Presumably, you’ll be able to see it at the top of this page.>

Paul has a 100-watt solar panel on his RV that runs a few things except his refrigerator. But he said propane provides the most efficient source of energy. An 8-gallon tank of propane lasts him about 10 days. He uses it to run the refrigerator, a small stove and a water heater.

Paul doesn’t have cellular service at his camp and he had to hike a couple of miles to the top of a hill before he could call in for this show. He wondered if there’s an app that will alert him when cell service becomes available <as he’s hiking>. Adam said he hasn’t heard of anything like that.

Paul mentioned augmented reality with the ability to point the phone’s camera at the landscape and to get surveying data (elevation, distance, bearing, etc.) projected on the screen overlaying the natural objects. He then asked Adam what he uses when he’s surveying the path of a wireless signal. Adam said he uses a computer app called Radio Mobile. <This might be it>

Glenn did a search for the words: virtual reality glasses, and came up with a Samsung product called Next Generation Gear VR, for $99. It’s powered by Oculus. The goggles work in conjunction with an attached Samsung phone. Headphones are included.

Adam did some traveling recently. While in England he bought a mobile hot spot with a one month service and “tied” his phone to that. The hot spot unit was about $50 and the service cost about $20 or $30. He then used a UK Skype number for his outbound calls.

Paul noted that Skype calls are encrypted but you can’t conceal who you’re calling or when you made the call.

Glenn asked Paul if having location service turned on consumes extra power. Paul said that it does because the GPS is working. If you want to conserve your battery, turn down the screen brightness and turn off unnecessary functions like location service and push notification.

The iPhone 5 & 6 have a low power mode that comes on when the battery is low, Paul said. But it returns to normal automatically when the battery is charged up over 20%, but Paul would like it to stay in low power mode all of the time. Glenn noted that you can issue a voice command to switch to low power.

Paul asked Adam if solar power is sufficient to run the wireless broadband equipment. Adam said the units used on a house draw about 7 watts and solar is able to handle that. By comparison, incandescent house lights are in the 40 to 75 watt range, the compact fluorescent bulbs are about 23 watts and LED bulbs are about 7 to 9 watts.

Glenn recalled that the compact fluorescent bulbs had a flicker to them and thought the LED bulbs don’t. But Paul said that the dimmable LEDs do flicker at about 16000 times per second. That’s how the brightness is controlled — if it’s off for longer than it’s on, it gets dimmer. However, those bulbs have to be designed to prevent radio frequency interference. Paul said you might be able to notice the flicker if you shake them while in a dark room.

Gene called to ask if there are any new batteries coming on the market. Glenn said a new lithium metal battery is expected in about a year. For a battery half the size of today’s lithium it’s supposed to have twice the energy.

The cheapest battery for off grid use is the lead acid. Paul thought they’ll give you the most bang for the buck. They have limitation about the way they’re charged, maximum current and so forth. On the plus side, they are recyclable.

Paul said the most spectacular batteries are the lithium polymer, which are used in radio controlled aircraft because they are light for a given amount of energy.

Gene asked for thoughts about an inverter. Paul said the though his RV has a 100 watt solar panel and a 20 amp charge regulator, which cost him $15 from a Chinese manufacturer, a house will require something larger. You have to consider what your maximum power consumption will be.

Gene is planning to go off grid and wanted some info about hot water solar panels. Will a special water heater be required? Paul suggested getting steel or copper radiators from a recycler, painting them black and put them inside a glass window casing. The glass will trap the heat to boost efficiency. Then run water thru the radiator to heat it up.

Kalab called. He keeps getting “kicked” off the KVMR audio stream. He uses an Apple with iTunes. All other stations work ok except for KVMR.
– Glenn suggested using the KVMR app but wasn’t sure if it was available for the Mac.
– Go to There you’ll find some alternative streams. Try the one titled 64k AAC. The AAC and mp3 streams come from different servers.
– Make sure you have the latest updates for your machine.
– There might be a setting in iTunes to keep it from skipping to the next station on the list when KVMR drops out. That might force it to reconnect to KVMR. <Or, create a playlist with KVMR listed many times, so when it skips to the next station, it’ll still be KVMR>
– Call the KVMR office at 530-265-9073 and talk to the station engineer Buzz.

Scott called. He’s had the same problem as Kalab. He “power cycled all of my front end equipment” to fix the problem.

Scott also had a suggestion for an off grid water heater. He knows someone who took 3 water heater tanks, without the jackets, and put them in a box with a glass top. He now has 90 gallons of hot water.

The disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed on KVMR are those of the speaker only and not necessarily those of KVMR management, staff or underwriters.

Last Updated 11:24 PM 8-31-2016

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