ecobee3 Smart Thermostat Install & Review

My old style programmable thermostat died last weekend, and so I rushed over to Home Depot to get a replacement. I wanted a smart thermostat mainly for its wifi connectivity, but also wanted to try out the truly “smart” aspect of it: Optimizing heating and cooling cycles to suit my needs.

They did an excellent job with the user interface, making setup really easy. And their app, though slow to connect at times, is overall well-designed and easy to use. So far I like the ecobee3, but my main concern is with reliability/longevity, and that of course remains to be seen.

Sprint / Netgear 6100D 4G Antenna Installation (Video)

What’s all this, then?

Back in August I reviewed the Netgear 6100D from Sprint and followed up with a post detailing some advanced configuration options.

The Video

I also installed a flat panel 4G antenna from 4G Antenna Shop. I made a video detailing the unboxing and installation (which I just got around to editing together):

It’s my first video of this sort, so if you have any feedback please let me know in the YouTube comments or by email!

4G Antenna Shop

I didn’t get into it in the video, but overall I’d recommend 4G Antenna Shop. The cable and antenna I got were both of very high quality and definitely worth the price.

Their customer service was great; I had a couple of questions about my order, and one of their guys (Robert) got back to me within 15 minutes and was extremely helpful. They shipped really quickly, too.

I did have two minor issues, both of which I talk about in the video:

During checkout they give you the option of selecting your device so that they can provide the correct adapters to go from the cable (if you order it through them) to the device. At the time I’d ordered, they had an option for “Netgear Sprint Spark LTE”, which I thought was the Netgear 6100D. There was no separate option for the 6100D, but it turned out that they were referencing a different product, and so I received the wrong adapters. (They’ve since added the 6100D as an option.)

I chalked this up to being mostly my fault, as I didn’t know that there was another Netgear LTE device out there for Sprint Spark.

My other issue was with the packing job. Again, it’s a minor complaint because nothing was damaged, but the box arrived pretty beaten up with holes in the top from the antenna mount having poked through. There was no packing material to keep the box rigid, and the antenna and cable were just sorta rattling around inside.

Bear with Me…

Oh, and sorry if I rambled on a bit in the video. If you couldn’t tell from a lot of my other posts on here, I have an aversion to brevity. :)

I’m hoping to get some more how-to and instructional videos out there in 2015, so please subscribe to my YouTube channel!

(Hey, I’m allowed to shill for myself, right?)

Reducing Fan Noise from a Dell PowerEdge R905

Images borrowed from the auction page of red_planet_trading on eBay

If you’re read my blog, you know that I have a quite a few servers in my basement that I use as a home lab environment. For home or low-demand virtualization, you can’t beat the Dell R905 for price. Consider that, as of the time I’m writing this post, you can get an R905 like I did with 128 GB of RAM for about $960. That’s only a little more than the cost of the RAM! That machine has 4x AMD Opteron 8356 quad-core CPUs @ 2.3Ghz and two built-in 10gbps ethernet ports (plus 2 gigabit ports), a PERC6i controller, dual PSUs, and a full enterprise DRAC. It’s a little old, but you can’t get those specs in any other … Continue reading

Quieting Dell PowerEdge 1855/1955 Blade System Chassis Fan Noise: Undocumented DRAC/MC Commands


TL;DR: Skip right to the undocumented commands Background I recently purchased a Dell BMX blade chassis on eBay that came loaded with ten 2x dual-core, 24GB PE1955 blades.   For a system with 40 cores, 240 GB of RAM and two 16-port gigabit switches in a 7U frame, $2500 was too good to pass up.  Especially since shipping cost me a mere 2 hour round-trip to Brooklyn. I didn’t really need ten more servers, so I figured I’d sell off 5 or 6 of them (hopefully breaking even on the entire system — the 4GB FB-DIMMs in 6 of the servers is worth $1450 – $1900 alone).  The remaining servers would be all mine! But I forgot to research the noise!  … Continue reading

Installing Our New 240V/Level 2 Voltec Charge Station (Phase II)

This is a follow-up to my previous post, Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I). In the first phase, I ran a new dedicated circuit from the subpanel in my garage to the opposite wall to connect a 120V charging station.  In this phase, I removed the existing receptacle, rewired for 240V, installed the Voltec Level 2 charging station, and wired the kWh meter inline. It’s not my intent to write a full set of instructions for installation here.  The purpose of this post is to illustrate some of the installation steps with real-world pictures, which are somewhat hard to come by online (the pictures are rather small, but you can click on any of them for a larger version). As … Continue reading

Chevy Volt Metered Charging (Phase I)

Chevy Volt 120V Charger Mounted on the Wall

My wife and I recently brought home a brand new Chevy Volt (named “Sparky“), the plug-in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV) from Chevrolet.  It’s a really cool car, and you can read about our first experiences with it here. Of course, the whole point point behind a PHEV is the actual plugging in.  The Volt comes with a 120V charger that plugs into your average 15A receptacle, and can fully charge the car in about 10 hours. Chevrolet’s charging station partner, SPX, sells a variety of Level 2 charging stations compatible with the Volt (and most plug-in electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf).  The Level 2 charging stations use 240V, and can charge the Volt in about 4 hours.  We’re going to be … Continue reading

Stupid, Angering Garage Door Opener Project

“An automatic garage door opener makes you feel like you’re working in a futuristic wonderworld”.  – Frank Ormand, Pretzel Magnate With the purchase of Amanda’s new Volt, I had to get the garage ready for a permanent resident.  She had kept her old Saab in the driveway, so I pretty much had the run of the place until now.  Protection from the elements aside, the garage is just a logical place to stick an electric car whilst it’s charging. And my father raised me on automatic garage door openers, so I figured installing one would be the right thing to do. Here’s a before picture of the garage: Nothing to laugh at, I suppose.  But the stupid door would just … Continue reading

Garage Subpanel with EMT

I have a 1 car attached garage (about 25×12) that I’ve been using for various projects. I’ve been wanting to upgrade the electrical since I moved in about 7 months ago, and I figured I’d do it in EMT. It’s rather stupid because the wall I’m installing most of the conduit on is adjacent to the house — however it’s framed separately, and there is a ~2″ gap between the back of the framing and the side of the house. It would make a perfect wiring chase for NM-B, making the job a hell of a lot cheaper and easier. But I wanted EMT because, well, for fun. It looks cool too. This is the first project I’ve ever piped … Continue reading

Basement Update

We’ve been in the house for about 3 months, and I’ve made some progress in the basement. Here are a few pictures just for posterity: The server rack (well, shelving unit) isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done.  I’m not exactly the computer version of Scrooge McDuck over here, so I stick with desktops.  The UPS on the right is a real old beater — I’ve replaced the batteries 3 times so far.  It’s a nice double-conversion full sine wave model, so I keep it around.   My workstation setup.  My primary machine needs upgrading badly:  A Dell GX280, P4 3.0Ghz, 3GB RAM.  It works for now.  All the monitors are hooked up to something or other, but I … Continue reading