Sunday, 29 October 2017

Timer meltdown!

After being out at the dog shelter today, we all came home and had showers.

I went to put on the electric immersion heater and noticed it was already on, but no light on, so thought the timer circuit was 'off' so opened up the distribution board door to bypass the timer and flick it to 'on'.

When I did this, the light still didn't come on. To begin with, I couldn't work out why, and it wasn't until I looked at the side of the timer through the slot in the DB cover that I noticed the melting on the side of the timer relay.

It was time to dig out the screwdrivers and multi-meter!

Removing the cover off the front of the distribution board, I immediately noticed the wire link across terminals 2+4 had completely melted away and this in turn had melted both sides of the timer.

Hunting around in toolbox I found some 10Amp chocolate block and used this to bypass the timer relay contact. Guess I'll go shopping for a new timer tomorrow.

I think when I get the replacement, I will be wiring it up with segregated circuits for the timer motor and the heater element circuit.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Show me the Segway to go home..........

Today was another first for me......Segway riding.

TrySegway is a company located down in Kato Paphos, which is owned and run by Michael an Authorised Segway Engineer.

After arriving at the agreed time, Michael introduced us the Segways gave a brief overview of their operation and then after the usually liability declarations were signed, we popped on the mandatory helmets and headed across the road. Michael took the Segways over to us.

We spent the first few minutes just learning how to mount and dismount, and then getting comfortable going up and down the area, round in circles etc.

Then it was time to head out.....

We headed along the promenade area towards the harbour, round the harbour area and then out along the coastal path (Coastal Broadwalk) towards Tomb of the Kings and stopped at the back of the Elysium Hotel. On the way back, stopping off for a quick snack and a drink at the Lighthouse Beach cafe.

It was a lot easier than expected and you really do begin to feel like it is second nature. Even on the small hills and dips.

During the outing Michael took some pictures and then emailed these out once he had downloaded them from his camera. In total, it was around an 8km trip. The excursion we had gone on was the Coastal Tour, lasting about 2.5hrs and at €50 per person. Visit the page to see the other types of excursions available.

Wish we had more time and had gone further, but we had to be back in time to pick up the kids from school! Next time we will see if they are big enough and heavy enough to use them as there are restrictions.

A really good time had. Thanks Michael.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Solar pool cover installed.

Over the last couple of weeks, it has been noticeably getting cooler in the evening. This has had the undesirable effect of the pool also getting colder. it had dropped around 5'C to 25'C over the course of just over a week and it was certainly noticeable when you went in! Not quite 'where have they gone' cold, but cool enough.

After look at various site and suppliers and getting a feel for prices online from various forums etc. I came across a supplier in Paphos.

I dropped them an email on the Wednesday morning and they came back to me with some options on different materials and requested I send them a sketch of the dimensions and picture of the pool.

They came straight back to me on the Wednesday afternoon with an estimate, and I agreed to proceed and just to make sure on the dimensions etc. agreed for them to come and measure up first, just to be on the safe side. The pool could have easily been slightly off square etc. They also needed to know the corner radius etc.

Thursday morning Lloyd of Safe.T.First Pool Safety arrived and measured up the pool, he also showed me the different options of the Solar Cover material. I remember back to the days of swimming pool covers being effectively blue bubble wrap, i.e. the same bubble wrap you might use to send a parcel or spend hours popping when you are bored. This pool cover material is like a really strong peanut shell shaped bubbles.

I elected to go for the heavy duty 500 micron premium 'Aresti' cover, with hemmed edged and also a suitable roller. Didn't fancy trying to handle a large 10m x 5m (+steps area) cover without a roller.

I asked about the delivery time and was told it would be about a week.

On the Monday, got a phone call from Lloyd that they could come and install the pool cover, as everything happened quicker than anticipated with the supplier etc. We had just dropped the kids off at school and were out shopping, so finished off and headed back to the villa ready for them coming.

Lloyd and Dan turned up and did an excellent job of installing the pool cover and trimming the curve at the Roman steps end to fit neatly. The swimming pool had a step ladder at the far end, and wasn't sure if we should leave it in or not, and cut the cover to suit, but decided to temporarily remove the ladder as we don't use it and it is only bolted down. Might consider extending the leg height of the roller at a later date to go over the steps, but for the time being it is fine without them.

Pool Cover In Place
I used a piece of the trimmings to make a bobble float for the pool thermometer which I had originally tied to the step ladder. Over the course of the next next couple of days I checked the temperature and when I went into the pool on the Tuesday, it was definitely better, it had risen by a couple of degrees, despite being cloudy on Monday and Tuesday, by the Thursday night it was up to 28'C.

Big thanks to Lloyd and Dan of Safe.T.First Pool Safety, for such a speedy and professional delivery and installation. This investment will certainly extend the pool usable window towards the winter months.

In addition to their website link above, you can also visit their Facebook page at:

Next up I will maybe think about some form of solar heating using a sump pump and black irrigation hose coils....but that is a project for another day.

Friday, 15 September 2017

New internet installed!

I had already got ADSL boradband installed by Cyta when I first moved into the villa. The maximum speed I could get was 16Mb/1Mb. Problem was it was not very reliable, particularly in the evening.

I have MAG254 boxes and on the Standard Definition channels, in the evening it would still frequently drop out and buffer. Now, this could have been also due to other reliability issues elsewhere on the internet, but I had noticed that when I was sitting in my office, I would notice that the Amplifi HD router would display internet connection lost. I would turn to look at the ADSL modem, and it would have lost its Sync with the exchange. So, not an internet issue....

I had looked at several internet providers that provide WISP (Wireless ISP), where they install an access point dish on the building and point it to one of their antennae. The prices varied dramatically and some also do not cover all areas etc.

I contacted a few of them, some didn't respond, others were sketchy with their responses to higher bandwidth options, symmetric connections etc.

In the end I decided to go with Cosmos Wireless, who offered a 30Mb/4Mb connection for a reasonable price compared to some of the others in the area. After contacting them and confirming I wanted to proceed with their proposal, they contacted me to tell me they could install the next day.

Next morning, the installation team called to say they were lost and couldn't find the villa, easy done in the area, but gave them some more directions and they eventually arrived.

They took a look at where I wanted to install the dish and got to work. They tried 2 different types of dish, but were just not happy with the connection speeds they were getting. After a few more trial and error with the positioning they concluded there was a lot of interference and would have to move the dish back in behind the house, so the dish was sheltered from the interference. After mounting a new wall mount arm, getting the connection up and then fine tuning the alignment, they managed to get a sustained healthy speed test connection at the service level they said they could provide.

They gave me a username and password for their client website, which allows you to access to data graphs, invoices etc. then left.

I switched over my internal wifi system over onto their new router, which was a simple case of swapping the Ethernet cable. I then went to try the IPTV box on the new connection and the results were clear instantly.

Turning on the TV and going to the UK:Entertainment menu, the first channel on the list is a FullHD one, and it immediately came on, it had never done that before, On the TV menus, a lot of the channels are repeated in FHD, HD and SD, and I have always had to choose the SD. Now, the FHD channels work a treat!

So, far happy with the connection, and very few minor blips, but this might be drop outs elsewhere on the internet or issues at the IPTV service provider. On the whole these are few and far between, and compared to what I had previously this is a winner!

The two guys that came to do the install and the individuals that I had communicated with via email and FB were all great. So thanks Cosmos Wireless!

Here are an example of the client website graphs, showing my connection data usage.

The dish feed arrangement they have used is a Ubiquiti Powerbeam M5 (PBE-M5-400), but they said if I had issues they would look to maybe change this for some other equipment, although time will tell how it performs.

I currently have an EdgeRouter Lite, still connected to the Cyta network, so will look to move this new connection over as the main feed to the EdgeRouter. I am using the EdgeRouter to provide address routing, with a split network, one side on a permanent OpenVPN tunnel to the UK, and the other side to local internet access, more discussed in the article I wrote while in Qatar: Building OpenVPN Site-To-Site Tunnel on Dynamic Addressing Endpoints, just need to update the settings to handle the new setup.

Ubiquiti Powerbeam and Dish.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Zoo day!

First weekend for the kids. So decided to head up to Paphos Zoo.

We arrived about 11.45, and which was just in time for the 12:00 show. They had a number of parrots and Owls flying around, riding a bike, basketball etc. and one of the owls also starred in the first Harry Potter movie. At the end of the show they also took in a 10 week old tiger cub.

After the show, we took a walk up to the zoo restaurant, it was lunchtime after all! Food was very nice, and it wasn't busy. After lunch took a stroll around the zoo, and got finished about 3pm.

On the way back we stopped of at another supermarket that we hadn't yet been in. It was very deceptive, as didn't look big from the outside, but had pretty much everything inside, including cases of beer, which was really the first place I had seen that had not just loose, six or 12 packs.

Got back to the villa, and went to fit some pigeon spikes to the fence near S's bedroom patio. The neighbours cats have a habit of coming round the corner of the fence and down into the garden and into the house. The door is left open to keep a draft coming through. So trimmed the fir tree back a little and fitted the spikes, see if that stops them.

Also, I still hadn't really turned my main computer on since it arrived from Qatar. I wanted to set it up for mining and put a power meter on it to work out the cost and returns. After setting up Claymore Miner in dual mining for Ethereum and Siacoin, it runs at round about 550w. It does about 64MHz/s on Ethereum and 650MHz/s on SiaCoin simultaneously. I haven't try to optimise the machine yet, so don't know if I can squeeze more hashes out or drop the power usage down. Just want to make sure it is stable over night and see what it is doing.