How Did People Fix Things Before The Internet?

The latch on my truck’s tailgate failed last week (the plastic bar that pushes the rods which pull the pins from the side broke). I ordered a new part from eBay for $27 with free shipping. I was going to ask my repair shop to swap it out but I watched a video on YouTube that made me feel confident about replacing the part myself.

The latch itself has an opening for the back-up camera. My truck did not originally have a back-up camera but after the second theft of my stereo I opted to add it to the replacement unit. It appears the geniuses at CarToys decided to use the existing screws from the old latch to secure the camera to the latch and did not replace the original screws that held the latch to the tailgate — which explains why the latch was always loose and rattling around. I visited Ace and picked up a couple extra screws and washers for about a buck and secured everything in the tailgate.

I wonder if I had not seen the video on YouTube would I have even considered doing this myself… probably not. I’m sure my repair shop would have charged me $50 or more to do the same. Not counting the travel time to Ace and back the entire replacement took about ten minutes.

Reestablishing My Geek Cred

My new house has a sprinkler system. Normally one would use the standard controller units to water the yard on a schedule but it seemed to me that a schedule doesn’t take actual weather conditions into account and might water too much or too little despite rainfall and temperatures. I bought a smart controller for my sprinklers and couldn’t be happier about that decision. I purchased a 16-zone Iro from Rach.io. Rach.io is a Colorado company so I had no issues spending the money for this item.

The controller itself replaced two Rainbird timer controllers that were wired with three multi-strand cables. As far as I can tell there are ten active zones in the yard (with two buried under the driveway, apparently, as I discovered when the fence was being installed)

The controller attaches to a wall and the cabling couldn’t be easier. Just attach the common wire to the white terminal and then each of the other wires to an open terminal. The outer/top part of the case plugs into the base and provides the power jack and the wi-fi circuitry. There is also an optical sensor on the outer part of the case that is used for setting up the controller on your wi-fi network: instead of incorporating Bluetooth components or some other hokey method of entering your wi-fi network setup, the accompanying Android or iOS app on your phone will accept all of your network setup information and will then fire off a (potentially seisure-enducing) pattern of light which will be read by the optical sensor. A single LED status light on the controller will flash to indicate if it is able to access the wi-fi network.

Once the controller is on your network the app can be used to setup the zones in the yard with a descriptive name, soil and vegetation types and the amount of slope and shade the zone receives. All of this info is factored into the calculation of how much water the zone will receive during your watering schedule. There is also a feature called “Weather Intelligence” that will skip irrigating your yard when rain is predicted for your ZIP code.

There is also the ability to connect a rain sensor to the Iro as well to provide hyper-local control of the system (for example, “don’t run a watering schedule if 0.25 inches of rain are received”). If you look closely at the photo below I do have an extra pair of wires that I plan to connect to a rain sensor in the near future.