Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Stuff I had nowhere else to put :-)

Where to Find a New Gasket For a Harbor Freight 2-1/2 Gallon Paint Tank (Item 66839) – TCP Global Has Them On Amazon!

Folks, I’ve used Harbor Freight 2.5 gallon paint pots (HF Item 66839) for years to pressure cast grips. I read fear-mongering stories on the Internet where folks are scared of them blowing up. You know what? They’re safe as long as you stay within their pressure rating and I know what I’m talking about. I’ve used my tanks through thousands of duty cycles at 60 PSI with no major problems.

There is a headache though – the cheap gaskets the tanks come with either don’t last or are a bear to seal. It used to be you had to make your own replacement gaskets or try to repair what you had but now there is an awesome ready-to-go quality gasket you can buy.

Here’s the lid of one of my modified tanks. You can see remnants of blue RTV everywhere from past fixes. The OEM gaskets are thin and don’t always seal very easily. I keep a wrench by make tanks to crank down the lids the last bit if there are air leaks after pressurizing.
There’s the failure. In the past I would have filled that with RTV and let it cure for 24 hours. I don’t do that any more – I replaced this old gasket with the new one I will tell you about shortly.

Enter TCP Global with a solution

I periodically search for stuff I hope somebody will create and sell. That includes these gaskets. It’s been a while since I last looked and the above gasket’s splitting prodded me to check again. It just so happens that TCP Global had ,realized there was a market and was making gaskets better than the original.

How are they better? They are thicker and the durometer (firmness) of the gasket is such that there is a bit of give to get a really good seal. The gasket measures 10-5/16″ for the outside diameter and 9-5/16″ for the inside diameter. It’s also a 1/4″ thick which is great and the dogs (the bolts on top that secure the lid) have enough adjustment to accommodate this thicker gasket.

To cut to the chase, these units fit my pressure tanks perfectly. No more gluing, cutting, etc. These work right out of the box and are way, way better. They also fit a number of other thanks including:

  • TCP GLOBAL Brand 2.5 Gallon Pressure Pot Tanks Systems. Part# PT8310, PT8312 and PT8318
  • Binks or Devilbiss Brand 2.7 Gallon Paint Pressure Pot Tank Systems that use the Devilbiss Part# PT-33 Gasket. Binks Tank Part# 83C-210, 83C-220 and 83C-221
  • Other brands of tanks as well – many are made by the same Chinese factories and use the same size gasket.
Look at the difference! The old gasket has the blue RTV on it and the new one is the much thicker all black gasket.

Installation is a breeze

Literally, pull the old gasket out and push this new one in place. I did not need to do any trimming. When I put the lid back on the tank, I did have to back off the toggle bolts in the dogs (clamps) so that they could pass over the edge of the lid given it’s new taller height but that was literally just backing the off a 1/4″ more or so. Then when I turned the bolts down, the clamping pressure fully seated the gasket and the job was done. I spent more time taking the pictures than I did replacing the gasket and adjusting the bolts!!

Here’s the tank with the new gasket installed. You can see the dogs (clamps) have plenty of adjustment. When I took this photo, I clamped the top down by hand with no wrench and pressurized the tank to 60 PSI – no leaks or problems. Seriously, these gaskets rock.

Here’s the gasket on Amazon:

If you click on the following link, I will get a small referral fee but that is all I get – I had to buy my own gasket and wouldn’t be writing this review if I honestly didn’t think the product was fantastic:

Conclusion

These TCP Global replacement gaskets are awesome. The seal works wonderfully and I can just tighten the lid down by hand now – no more wrenching. If you have a tank these gaskets will fit, I highly recommend them.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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A Tale of Two USB Battery Packs With Integral Solar Cells – One is Worth It and One Is Not

These days it is hard for me to go long without a phone. Whether it is checking email or researching something – I need a phone. What does that also mean? I need a way to recharge the phone and the traditional approach woud have been to hoof around a spare USB battery pack. Now, add my wife and multiple devices into the mix plus no easy access to a charger for the battery pack itself and life gets interesting.

I’d seen USB battery packs on Amazon that had integral solar sells and decided to buy two different models to see which met my needs better. During a recent family trip we were able to really put the two units to a real world test and want to share the results with you.

First Up: The Soxono F16W

The F16W is a sleek looking unit with two USB charger pots, a light and integral wireless charger. There is also a pretty rugged rubber cover that seals the ports from water.

Here’s the top of the F16W
Here’s the back. There is an LED light at the top and the black circle is the wireless charging pad.

Here are the specs:

Model: F16WCapacity: 16,000mAH
Solar: 5.5v@280mAHInput USB-C: 5v@2.0A
Output USB-A1: 5v@2.1AOutput USB-A2: 5v@2.1A
Wireless output: 5WTotal Output: 5v@2.1A
Dimensions
LxWxH: 6.7″ x 3.3″ x 0.87″
Thickness: 0.92″
Weight: 0.78 pounds (12.5 oz)
Voltage and capacity data obtained from the back of the unit and not independently verified.

This was my first unit to try and it served fairly well as a battery back. My normal pack is a 10,000mAH Anker and I feel that the Anker lasts longer. We charged/topped off my Note 8 a number of times plus my wife’s S10+ once. We were taking a ton of photos and sending them so we were draining the phones quickly.

During the heaviest day of use it got down to one lit LED on its gas gauge and I can’t really say the solar panel made a huge difference for the amount I used it. If you notice, the output is really tiny at 280mAH, which is why it really didn’t help much. It does help some no doubt but it is a trickle compared to how fast you will likely use the battery. Would it be better than nothing? Yeah, but it’s going to take a looooong time to charge that battery depending on the amount of sunlight and temperature.

Now please note something, there are a lot of vendors out there putting a relative few solar cells on the top of their unit and charging a premium. With as small of output as those cells can generate, it would take any brand quite a long time to recharge the battery.

On the plus side, it was decidedly smaller than the next unit and the wireless charging was nice but I switched to cords once I realized the battery seemed to discharge pretty quick. Wireless charging on a battery doesn’t make a ton of sense if you are trying to get the most out of your battery because it is inherently less efficient than charging with a cable. Sure, there is the convenience of not needing cables and if that matters to you then fine and it does work on this unit.

Would I recommend it? No. Get an Anker charger if you don’t care about solar charging and just want a good reliable battery. The solar cells on top really don’t make a difference. If you do want solar, check out the next unit.

By the way, I highly recommend Anker batteries. I’ve literally used them for years and a number of different models. You can choose based on your preferences for size, capacity and number of ports.

Next up: The Hiluckey Outdoor HI-S025

Let me lead with: It’s bigger, it’s heavier and it absolutely did the job. It’s a Chinese product made by Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co., who is a very prolific manufacturer of these types of solar chargers.

Here’s the top of the unit with the solar panels unfolded. Note, the fabric encases the edges of the solar cells. One small area had the adhesive let go during a hot day in the sun and I pushed it back down. In looking at it right now at my desk, I can’t tell where it happened.
A simple but effective snap keeps the folded panels closed.

Here are the specs:

Model: HI-S025Capacity: 25,000mAH
Solar: 5v@6.0WInput Micro USB: 5v@2.0A
Output USB-A1: 5v@2.1AOutput USB-A2: 5v@2.1A
Wireless output: NoneTotal Output: 5v@2.1A
Dimensions
LxWxH: 6.1″x3.35″x1.37″
Unfolded Solar Panel
Width Becomes: 13.9″
Thickness Folded: 1.33″Main body Thickness: 0.86″
Solar panel thickness: 0.177″Weight: 1.29 pounds (20.64oz)
Voltage and Capacity data obtained from the back of the unit and not independently verified.

When I got this out of the box I really was put off by the size just to be honest. I wanted something that would fit in my pocket and the size and weight of this really meant it was better off going in my pack. You know what? It’s worth it.

First off, you have a pretty big battery in terms of capacity – 25,000 mAH and solar cells that generate enough output (6 watts is 6,000 mA by the way and 21.4x the solar panel output of the above unit). That’s not enough to keep up with a device drawing 2.1 amps (10.5 watts) but it is going to help and it is going to recharge the battery faster.

The smaller Soxono F16W is in the front and the larger Hiluckey HI-S025 is in the rear. The visible orange button on the Soxono controls the LED light and wireless charging.

We used this battery extensively over a full day and only lowered the charge from 5 LEDs to three. We did deploy the solar panels a few times and the only cosmetic issue I noted was that the adhesive holding the fabric to the face of one cell got soft and separated. I pressed it back down and it stayed put. It was 93F outside so combine that with being in the sun, that panel was pretty hot.

So, the bottom line is that it is bigger and heavier than a traditional battery-only pack but it worked. I topped my Note 8’s battery a number of times and my wife’s S10+ once with no problems.

Another Option: Dedicated Separate Solar Panels

There is another option that I plan to test – having separate solar panels that have a USB output for charging devices. This would seem to be the best of both worlds – a larger folding solar panel that can charge faster but it is separate from the USB battery that can still go in your pocket. I did some reading of reviews and bought the following unit and forgot to bring it on the trip … yeah, I left it right on the corner of my desk.

In Conclusion

I’d recommend Anker brand batteries for folks needing compact power. I would not recommend the Soxono and I would recommend the HiLuckey HI-S025 to folks who need a big battery that can actually recharge with an attached solar panel. I’ll report back how things go with the dedicated panel when I have time.


Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co

A quick parting comment – I’ve never heard of Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co. before but they make a number of models and brands of batteries and solar related products on Amazon. They all seem to get very good reviews:


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Supplement with Zinc and Multivitamins to Help Boost Your Immune System

You might want to start supplementing with zinc and a good multivitamin as a hedge against the COVID-19 corona virus from Wuhan, China. It’s not going to absolutely prevent it but it might give you an edge and/or lessen the impact some. This post is not a magic cure claim. At my age, I’ll take any cheap advantage I can get.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

#1 prevention tip – wash your hands with soap and water frequently – the virus has a lipid coating that soap breaks down fast. Take the time to wash your hands before you eat, rub your eyes, go to sleep, after you go to the bathroom, etc.

I used to say “or use hand sanitizer if you must” but finding commercial hand sanitizer is almost impossible these days unless you try to make your own and even then finding the ingredients is very difficult but not impossible.

Supplementing with Zinc, Multivitamins and Vitamin C

Do be aware of any drug interactions before you start. For example, some antibiotics are negated by zinc supplements – I learned that first hand.

Now you may be thinking this is a crock, but there really are studies that show that zinc can help ward off and/or reduce the impacts of viruses, including corona viruses.

Here are some resources for you to look at in addition to the video above:

Do some reading and decide. My family and I are doing a multivitamin, 50mg Zinc and 500mg of vitamin C per day to try and help prevent the flu. We’ll see how it goes.

Face Masks – Making Your Own Is An Option

The CDC is now recommending face masks when you go into public settings such as to get groceries. The problem is in finding good masks and a huge community effort is under way with people sharing information about designing and making face masks. I recently added a blog post to help folks learn more – click here.

COVID-19 Resources

In Conclusion

I hope this helps some. You need to read and keep up on what is going on. You will also need to figure out what makes the most sense for you and your family – mass media isn’t always the best source so try and confirm information from more than one source before you act.



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Image source: By https://www.scientificanimations.com – https://www.scientificanimations.com/wiki-images/, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86358105

The Rise of Useless Reviews on Amazon – Read Before You Buy

Amazon is really cool. I can get good deals on stuff and have it delivered to where I live. The problem is that I used to historically look at the number of reviews and the average score to determine if something was worthwhile or not. A pure math approach of looking at the numbers is not working any more and let me tell you why.

I’m noticing a lot of reviews where people give 4 to 5 stars without really using the product. I don’t know if they feel they need to report right away or just what but you will read stuff like “it looks good” or “it feels good” and nothing about the actual use. I suppose it’s better than nothing but not by much.

Also, some merchants reach out and correct problems then ask the buyer to revise the score. You know, I’m cool with that. A friend of mine recounted the story of being hounded – email after email – from the seller to change the score. So, you need to be aware of this too – I’m not a huge fan of wasting time troubleshooting stuff – I want it to hit the ground working.

Recommendations

Again, the basics are true. Products with no reviews are very risky and less than 30 are still risky but you are starting to get a safety margin. However, you must dive deeper to learn what folks are saying.

What I am finding is that you need to read the reviews and:

  • Look for people who actually used the product and are reporting back.
  • Look for trends – was the product great and having more and more problems or vise versa?
  • Look out for tons of edits where people post that they have revised the score after the vendor sent a replacement. Why was this necessary? I could understand a few but not a lot and definitely not a trend.
  • Be sure to click on the number of reviews right under the product name so you can see the breakdown of scores and even click on the number of stars to read the reviews. So, if you click on “1 star” you can read those reviews.

Fortunately with Amazon, they give great customer service and I can’t guess how many times they have made things right over the years. I think a lot of folks have a level of comfort with Amazon now and I also think you need to use the tools they gave us to make a better purchase decision.



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How to Defeat WiFi censorship around Firearms, Military and Law Enforcement with VPN Apps on Mobile Devices

I am sick and tired of businesses and other groups telling me that something that is perfectly legal is not acceptable. Have you ever tried to use your phone or mobile device in an establishment and got some kind of message like the following instead of the web page you wanted:

Or perhaps something like this when you know full well the website is working:

What is happening is some pain in the butt liberal is blocking your web access based on the website address you’re going to.

I’m really sick and tired of messages like these when I try to access websites from my phone or tablet that involve firearms, law enforcement, military, or anything else perfectly legitimate that the provider of the Wi-Fi services feels is inappropriate. Screw them.

What happens with Wi-Fi is that your phone is connecting to a wireless network which in turn passes through any number of devices that can subscribe to what is known as a “block list.”

The block list is provided either by the vendor of the network device or from a service provider and is updated regularly with a list of websites with different categories that the subscriber can then block. So if you try to go by name to my website like the above image shows, you will be blocked at many public venues.

Use Virtual Private Network Apps

The way to get around this is to run virtual private Network (VPN) software on your phone or tablet. It basically works by using an application that encrypts all of your phone’s WiFi data traffic to the VPN provider who then routes the data on their servers and network to your desired destination. The group trying monitor your traffic has no idea where it is going or what the contents are due to the encryption in the VPN

There are free providers that can be very slow and your security might be in question or, like me, you can use a commercial service.

I prefer a service called “IPvanish” and I’ve been using it for a year and a half. I have no affiliation with them and get absolutely zero money for this recommendation. It just so happens that I’m at a major theme park right now and I’m royally pissed off because they are blocking my access to sites I normally go to that are perfectly legal. This is censorship.

So I’m sitting here ticked and figured writing a blog post to help you guys out so you can get to these sites whenever you want would be my best revenge.

IPvanish

I have a Samsung Note 8 phone that runs Android and IPvanish makes an app that is very affordable. You can get it through the Play Store for Android plus other platforms are supported such as Apple and they are in the Apple store.

Getting going is pretty easy.  You simply sign up, pay, install the app, enter your user ID and password and you’re ready to go.  Yes, you do pay but this means you have fast connections because they can afford to have adequate capacity.

If you want to read more first go to their website at http://www.ipvanish.com

Some interesting options

There are a few interesting options to point out to you. You can have the software start automatically if you wanted to, you can tell it what country or maybe even what city you want to say it’s accessing from. For example if I wanted to make it look like I am in Canada, I can do that. If I am in another country and I want it to look like I’m in the United States, I can do that too. It gives you some interesting capabilities if you run into a situation involving digital rights such as situations where content you normally use in the United States is not licensed for people outside of it and so forth.

In summary

If you are sick and tired of being blocked, get yourself some VPN software. Ipvanish is my preference but you definitely have others to choose from. Don’t let other people dictate to you what you can and cannot do when it comes to perfectly legal topics such as Firearms, law enforcement and Military websites.



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