I don’t tend to check the web-site everyday and Tom does 98% of the posting (many from the car while I’m driving and Jim Dale reads Harry Potter to us). He is doing a great job to keep up with the speed of our travels… But how about these post titles… He’s really out-doing himself this week. All this on only one cup of coffee (or less) per day!
I’ve been going back occasionally and filling in with posts from previous days. It’s hard to keep up in real time, and even though it feels wrong to pre-date blog postings, it feels like the right solution to make this a record of the trip. Be sure to look back a bit; there might be something you missed!
I’ve been playing catch up with the photos on Flickr. If you go to my page of “Collections” you will see the Collection for this trip, and in it, the many sets I’ve organized thus far. Still more to go, and hopefully I’ll keep up with current work in the future, although after tonight we have four nights of camping, so who knows…
We brought along a new powered cooler for the car,
so that we could keep slightly more interesting food than bread and peanut butter for picnic lunches. Prior to coming through Canada, we hadn’t used it, as we didn’t want to deal with any customs issues. But yesterday, we used it for water bottles, then after grocery shopping we filled it with a few items. At a certain point, I noticed that its fan wasn’t going, and it’s simple enough to have no thermostat, so I was suspicious. When we got to the hotel, we brought it with us, as we also have an A/C adapter for it. I looked for a switch or a fuse, and finding none obvious on the unit, I took apart the cigar lighter plug where fuses often are, but this proved more difficult than it should have, due to either a junky CLP or it being melted due to a current overload? Anyway, while the wire in the fuse wasn’t visibly broken, the fuse showed signs of being blown.
After dinner, we drove over to Home Depot which was right behind the restaurant, and while they didn’t have the exact same fuse (8A), they did have slow blow 8A and normal 10A fuses. I bought both. So far, the slow blow 8A is holding up.
I mentioned the router before. One of the laptops that connects to the router acts mainly as a server, running tasks in the background, and sitting unobtrusively in the trunk. When everything is working well, I can take pictures from in and around the car, and the Eye-Fi card in the camera will send them wirelessly and automatically to the laptop. The laptop will then run a program which looks at the timestamp on the photo and compares it to a gps track log, and figures out where in the world we were at that time, and records geographical data in the picture metadata. The picture is then automatically uploaded to flickr. And when this doesn’t happen automatically, I attempt to do it manually afterward. So there are lots of pictures on flickr. If you want to scan the un-filtered album, point your browser over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/tastewar/tags/xctrip/
One problem with the Honda Odyssey is that when you kill the ignition, power to the “power outlets” goes off as well. Wanting to provide internet access with the car off meant doing a little work, so I’ve built an “Automotive UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).” Now, I can’t take much credit for this “invention” — most of the ingenuity is embodied in the one piece of electronics in it, which is an automotive UPS module I purchased from PowerStream. It is intended for more permanent installation with a second car battery, but I wanted something more portable, so I connected everything up to a traditional UPS battery. Susan found the perfect case at Target, and I supplemented with a bunch of parts (such as the cigar lighter sockets), mostly from DigiKey.
What you see in the picture is my home-built UPS, which will be used to power the router. The router connects to the internet via the Verizon/Kyocera ExpressCard sticking out of the side. When in the car, it connects to an external antenna to hopefully get the widest coverage range. The router then provides internet access to other devices, mostly laptops, through wifi and ethernet.
Interestingly, Verizon offers a device with nearly the same capabilities now, the MiFi:
But in a much smaller package!