If you don't want to read something that doesn't directly pertain
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How TR saved my house from destruction!!
I know a lot of you down South can't relate, but up here in
Wisconsin, the majority of the homes have below grade basements.
Some homes, mine included, require the use of a sump pump that
drains water that accumulates/drains down the basement walls
(on the exterior). Around the perimeter of the bottom of the
basement of a house, a porous pipe is installed to allow the
water to drain into a pit, inside the basement, and then be
pumped up and away, usually into your yard, far away from the
house. Installed in the pit is a sump pump, which has a liquid
level float switch to drain at the opportune time. Now with
the basement explaination out of the way...
Last night, my fiancee says she hears a funny motor noise coming
from the basement. My sump pump float switch failed open (wouldn't
run). Fortunately, last year I installed a battery backed up sump
pump in addition to the primary pump. What she heard was this new
pump (and alarm) trying to save all of my ham goodies from being
submerged in water. This was after 11pm last night.
Because we still had electricity, I was able to bypass the float
switch and drain the pit (and associated 120' of 4" drain pipe),
but I didn't know what to do after that. Without the float switch,
the pump either wouldn't run at all, or run all the time, which
could burn out the pump.
I sat there and sat there, trying to think of how I could rig something
up to cycle the pump at the right times, and not burn out the pump.
I thought of a lamp timer, but the best case would be on for 30 MINUTES
and off for 30 minutes. That's not good. I couldn't figure anything
out that would measure a water level and then turn on a 117VAC appliance!
I thought about using the float from the battery backed up unit, but
didn't want to mess it up. Plus, the float for the backup unit is
much higher, at a emergency level. I wouldn't want to knowingly
trust it overnight. Also, the backup float had a special plug on
it, and I wasn't sure it was capable of directly switching 117VAC
like the old float switch.
So get this... Just that day, I finally got to wiring up the PTT
signal for the LPT port for CW keying.
Anyway, I found a 24V relay, a 24V power supply, and made a cable
that the PTT signal keyed up this big relay. On the contacts of
the relay, I had 117V going to a 117V receptacle. I had this
whole thing homebrewed by midnight.
I made TR go into a CQ REPEAT mode, but could only get the RX time
up to about 45 seconds. This was much too quick. I found out, that
with the PgDn key, I was able to increase that time to (and more if
necessary) 360 seconds for a whopping 6 minutes. I also turned down
the keying speed to 4 WPM, so the "quick" sprint CQ lasted for 30
seconds. Perfect. Run the sump pump for 30 seconds and off for
6 minutes. I left the computer on and TR in the repeat mode (no,
I didn't leave the radio on!) I slept well not worrying about it
(plus the battery backed up sump would have fired up if there was
This morning I got up, called in to work saying I'd be a little late,
and then went to Menards to buy a new switch. Installed it and on
the road to work by 9am.
And THAT'S how TR saved my house (and ham gear) from a flood!
Chad Kurszewski, WE9V e-mail: WE9V@qth.com
The Official "Sultans of Shwing" Web Site: http://www.QTH.com/sos
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