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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:15 pm 
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Chrysler should be sued for what they did to the car stereo. Few people buy a factory installed radio and say either, "The sound is terrific" or " this is a great value for my money." but - still, wow. I thought I would just be able to upgrade my speakers and tolerate the factory stereo. Nadda. The base model radio only has bass, mid-range, and treble control, satellite radio, and hands free calling - barely. It's a got a crummy LED display. If you want to see the song title you need to press the button several times to scroll thru the information. The sound was equally crummy, even with the new Kicker speakers and Kicker 500 watt amplifier which I spent hundreds of dollars on. I couldn't stand it any longer.

Car radios have become so complex they're now known as "head units" rather than radios. In fact, there are "head units" which don't play CD's nor do they have a radio built-in. There's navigation, weather alerts, traffic alerts, rear view camera, satellite radio, HD radio, CD, DVD, USB, iPod, iPhone, hand-free calling, bluetooth connectivity, and now "app radio." Technology has finally caught up in one regard to stream commercial-free music on Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify over your cell phone signal to avoid paying a monthly satellite radio fee. I actually feel sorry for satellite radio.

well, somewhat sorry for them. When I bought my Jeep they threw in 1 year "trial" subscription of Sirius satellite radio. People are fooled into thinking it's a 1-year FREE trial. no. It's a pre-paid trial if you read the car invoice. I paid $195 up-front. It's a way for Sirius to get at least 1 year out of everyone. When I upgraded the factory radio, I needed to buy another $50 tuner... but, there was a promotion to give me free service until November if I promise to keep paying for Howard Stern for an additional six months after that. I don't want them to go under. I like Sirius. I signed up for their maximum plan.

They still screwed me, just a bit. They didn't remove the old radio. I called them back. They asked me sit in my car and tune the radio to channel 0. uh... the old radio is sitting on my livingroom floor. Can I just tell you the ID of the radio I wish to disconnect? yes. Super. But, on the account it's listed as a "complementary" 1yr plan, not a pre-paid plan. I'm thinking the dealer lied to me. ah, but he's ok otherwise and gave me a good deal so I'm not crying over a few bucks here and there.

Car audio involves voice control, Siri Eyes Free, CarPlay, AutoPlay, and Chrysler's uConnect. It's maddening. Google's Android control spies on you constantly and slurps all your engine performance and archives it. Google knows how fast you drive, where you live, where you work, and how often you change your oil. They also know when you're stuck in traffic then sell you that information back to you in the form of "traffic reports."

Apple takes a more Big Brother approach. Once you connect your phone to "CarPlay" your phone is locked down. Control is transferred to the head unit which now displays the iPhone icons. It's creepy. Only a few icons are permitted and they're heavily restricted as to what you can do. For example, the "messages" app does not display messages. Rather, it tells Siri that messages exist. You may request of Siri to read your messages to you while you're driving. Siri is also programmed not to display anything visually distracting. I never liked the idea of plugging my phone in every time I get into the car. There's "Wireless CarPlay" which Apple forbade VW from giving a demo at the 2017 car show. Rightly so. Now, your phone is locked whenever the radio is turned on. Sitting in the repair shop? Have Wireless CarPlay? well then, as soon as the mechanic turns the key your phone 200 feet away is locked down by the computer. It "needs work." And, right now only one model of radio has Wireless CarPlay - the Alpine model 107 which does not feature satellite radio! The model 207 has satellite, but the dropped Wireless CarPlay. Everyone else has wired.

Here's my deal. I get a text message telling me to bring home milk while I'm driving. I've got two choices. The "head unit" can stop playing the radio and booming voice comes on to tell you that a text has arrived (or someone "liked you" on FaceBook). Or, the event will be entirely ignored. Those are your choices.... unless you do what I do. what I always do... de-centralize all this nonsense.

My Garmin GPS is an amazing device. It has traffic, weather, maps, points of interest, and "smart phone notifications." While the radio is playing, my Garmin will go "ding" and display the first few words of the message - "pick up milk" for example. After a few minutes the text hides into an archive folder for later reader. so easy. It's easy to justify a short message on the GPS along with red light warnings, traffic and weather alerts, school zone, and speed zones and not be a distraction. There is no way to reply to the message on the GPS.

ah, but back to the "head unit." My new radio is not very fancy but it incorporates "Siri Eyes Free" That's just a fancy marketing term for a button on the radio which wakes up Apple's Siri. The music stops playing and you hear the familiar "ding ding" to tell you she's waiting for your command. I say, "Read messages." Siri tells me who sent the message, optionally reads the message out-loud to me, and optionally responds transcribing my dictation to text then sending the text. Without taking my eyes off the road (aside from pressing the button) I can tell Siri to reply with a text which I will dictate. Or, I tell Siri to skip the text and simply dial the number so I can chat with them on the hand's free.

To recap - receive the text alert on the GPS, press the button on the radio, talk to Siri on the iPhone to retrieve and reply. Makes me almost miss a good old fashioned phone call. Back in my day, the only way to make a phone call from a car was to get on the 2 meter radio, DTMF into the repeater using CTCSS to get the pass-thru to the landline to make a call. But, you couldn't technically call the local pizza shop to have a pie ready for you since that would be using amateur radio for commercial transactions.

I digress. Mind you - I have the low end model "head unit" with the least sophisticated smartphone integration. My new radio has CD, DVD (why?), USB music, video, audio, and still photograph slide show, iPod music, iPhone music, HD am/fm radio, Pandora (app), Spotify (app), iHeartRadio (app), the latest Sirius radio interface, hand-free calling with on-screen phone book, plus backup camera input which I asked the installer to hook up but I'm using the wireless backup camera in the GPS for now. The next model up had a larger screen at the expense of loosing the CD player and no volume control (!) which needed to be done from the touch screen control. nah. I think that could be painful. I like my "head unit" to have buttons.

I sat in the front seat of my Jeep watching The Borne Identity on DVD just to test it out. Sick.

This is a slight upgrade from the radio I had in my previous truck, designed by JVC. It features the ability to change the "wallpaper" of the radio which defaults to solid black with white lettering i.e. ugly. The previous model would only accept an updated wallpaper via the analog video input which hardly anyone uses. In the manual they scold anyone thinking of using a copyright photo as wallpaper, which is probably why they made it so difficult to do. I'm guessing a lot of people yelled at them for not being able to simply use a USB stick so they relaxed the ability to change the wallpaper to an image off the USB flash drive. Mind you, you have to jump thru some hoops: Format the photograph to 480x800 jpeg format, find the hidden menu on the USB stick play screen, change the mode from audio-visual to still image, play the slide show, return to the settings, find the setting for the wallpaper, then capture the image which is displayed for about 1.5 seconds as it flashes by, then press "x" NOT "<" on that menu to store it.

I know this as I have traversed the maze to successfully change the wallpaper photograph. Now I've got several hundred thousand photographs to choose for my wallpaper - many of them nude. I chose a color version of Rori in the dead of Winter, huddled in the corner with her ass turning blue on the uninsulated floor in January. I wasn't completely heartless. I had a space heater pointed directly at her the whole time but it didn't do much for the icy cold hardwood floors. I chose this one because Rori herself asked to buy a print from me, the black and white version, for her boyfriend for a birthday present.

I couldn't take money from her after that shoot. I mat and framed it for her and asked a friend to drop it off in Garden City for me. He said he was way too bashful to run the errand. Fine. I'll take the drive myself. I drove to her house in Hempstead where she lived with her current boyfriend upstairs and her estranged husband living downstairs. They broke up but couldn't afford separate housing. I ran the photograph over to her but nobody was home. As I'm standing at the door, the husband pulls into the driveway on a hog (Harley Davidson Fat Boy). mind you, he is currently residing in the basement of his own house with his ex-wife living above him screwing another guy...

and here I am holding a photograph of his wife naked sitting on a floor... and he pulls up on his Harley. He asks, "What's up?" oh - hey, here's that naked photograph of your wife which is a present for her new boyfriend. er, I mean, "I'm dropping off a package for Rori" and hold up the package. He's got hands on both the handle grips of the hog and instructs me place the photograph by the side entrance so he can park his ride. I do as instructed, then quickly jump into my car and got the hell out of there before he realizes what it was... with my best poker face I wave good-bye!

hence, the photograph has some special meaning for me.

so I set it to the radio's wallpaper.

Back to Chrysler, if you remove the factory radio the "Check Engine Light" comes on. It's a surgical procedure these days to remove the factory radio. Everything is CAN bus and nothing lends itself to installing an aftermarket radio. Any volume buttons on the steering wheel will go dead without an adapter. The factory satellite radio and factory amplifier, as well as the factory microphone are no longer available. The USB jack under the arm rest - you would think that went to a USB connector on the radio. Nope. Rather than a simple USB connection the wire is lost in a bundle of CAN bus wiring. Pull factory radio - it's dead. Even after I removed the old radio, my phone was still connected via Bluetooth to computer - but, no way to control it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:57 pm 
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In all the time I've owned my 1997 Pathfinder I have never had to jump start it. But, in the 18 months I've owned my Jeep Wrangler I'm up to 3 jump starts.

I had made an appointment for an inspection for my Jeep with the dealer, figuring I would throw them the first check-out as a courtesy and to try out their service department. No problem. So, when my original battery failed to crank the car the week before my inspection I thought - hey, good timing. I called the dealer to see if they had time to check out my battery? It was one week before the warranty expired. They said the first appointment they can give me as a month away.

Laugh. Come-on. What am I going to do for the next month? Walk to work? Can I get a "loaner?" IF you make an appointment, which is a month away. But, I'm a member of the "Jeep Wave Program" - a promotional service which guarantees me a free loaner if I have to leave my Jeep, gives me free oil changes and tire rotations. The dealer said, "never heard of it." ok, fine. I have an appointment for an inspection on Saturday. You can look at the battery then. What? no, we don't have time to inspect the Jeep AND test your battery.

That's when I hung up and returned to my trusted local mechanic who said, Come on by now. So much for my dealer's service. But, my mechanic could not find anything wrong with the battery. It was at 110% of its rating. huh. ok, can you do an inspection while I'm here? I won't be going back to the dealer... ever. sure thing. Four weeks later, the Jeep was doing all kinds of odd things. The computer was freaking out. It couldn't tell if my key was in or out of the ignition. Lights were blinking on and off. It was not starting or even attempting to start.

I took some video with my phone to show the mechanic and tested the voltage of the battery. 6 volts. Ouch. No wonder why the thing was going nuts. Batteries are made of cells. Each cell is 1.5 volts. If you have a battery which is off by an exact multiple of 1.5 or 6, you probably have a defective battery. That got swapped out for a "gel" battery by another maker and worked very well.

until... a blizzard hit; a nasty one. 50mph winds, 16 inches of snow, combined with 0F degree temperatures. I went to start my Jeep and I thought I heard it laugh at me. no. not starting. I'm freezing my ass off and need to get to work. I pull out my lithium battery jump starting pack. That did not work. I pull out my deep cycle marine battery which I keep on a battery "tender" for emergencies. That was sitting at 10.7 volts while my Jeep was at 11 volts. That's no help. What happened to the tender? Burnt out, no lights on it, and took the battery with it. Marvelous.

So, I pulled out my 200 amp Sears Diehard battery charger and starter. If that sucker couldn't start the Jeep nothing can. To my utter amazement, nothing. What? No way this does not work. It has 200 amps of cranking power. I gave it a while longer and tried it again. Finally the icy cold Wrangler roared to life as it blew out the current meter on the charger. Ta-da! and, the last time I do this.

I searched for a battery disconnect switch and failed to locate a decent one. That would remove the battery from the circuit in the event the voltage dropped too low. Perhaps the computer or other circuit was draining it overnight? The computer itself draws 300ma which is HUGE in the world of microprocessors. I'm guessing that high power computer is designed for the Internet connectivity on the Grand Cherokee. Jeep's high end model sends you a monthly email to report on its health... for a fee. The Wrangler has no such option, but seems to have the same computer.

I stumbled upon a dual battery tray for Wrangler. Hey! How about a battery switch? Carry 2 batteries. It gets better. I found a whole kit - dual battery switch and monitoring system. When the voltage drops below a certain point, the batteries disconnect to keep one battery reserved for the starter motor, the other to run accessories. If that falls too low to run the computer, you can connect them back up manually for a minute to get the Jeep started, charge the main battery, then it will switch back in the auxiliary battery to charge it back up - all automatically. And, it has a voltmeter always within view with a backlight which glows red, yellow, or green to indicate the battery condition.

Now, the Wrangler's weakness is its greatest strength. All cars today should have a dual battery system because of all the computers and electronics which stay awake when you turn off the key. I can also add a high current accessory, like a winch. Winches look cool. But, while a 4000lb winch weighs 20lbs, the correct size for a Wrangler is 8000-9500lbs pull and weighs between 70 and 110lbs. I'd have problems lifting that. I had problems lifting the 50lb batteries.

Then, the front suspension on the JK sags with all that weight on it. You need to add third-party springs and/or a 3/4" lift spacer. uhhhh. Maybe a winch would look cool but it seems to be the accessory of last resorts. Maybe a nice spotlight instead?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:44 pm 
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All of my vehicles from this moment on will have two batteries! This is great! I installed the Genesis JK dual battery kit with the remote monitor button and, as others have reported, this is the best investment you can make for your Jeep. Here's all the cool features:

First of all, I have two batteries. When the power hungry computer drains my battery due to its 300+ milliamp constant draw while parked, the isolator will protect the auxiliary battery by removing it from the Jeep, electrically. Now the computer is free to beat up on the main battery. When I crank it in the morning, only the main battery is used. It receives a surface charge, comes up to voltage, then the isolator kicks the auxiliary battery back in to keep it charged as well.

But, wait. There's more! The cool-looking aircraft style button has text and backlight which displays the voltage of the aux battery or of the main battery. I can toggle thru both batteries as well as the isolator "boost" status - on or off. With this single button and built-in voltmeter I can diagnose battery, alternator, and parasitical current draw in seconds just by glancing at it when I get into the Jeep.

But, wait. There's more! If the main battery has been drained to a point below where it can start the Jeep, all I do is toggle thru the menus to select the "boost status" screen. I hold the button down for 3 seconds until a click is heard. The light switches color from red to green allowing me to jump-start my own Jeep from the driver's seat! This is fantastic. No more jumper cables, opening the hood in the dead of Winter or during a rainstorm, getting shocked, waiting for a tow truck, etc. All of this unpleasantness is replaced by a single button push and the turn of a key.

But, wait. There's more! With an auxiliary battery I'm now able to run a connector to a set of jumper cables to jump other vehicles, or run a winch or other high current draw device, and/or charge and maintain the batteries without opening the hood. This is a key point since I park in a public lot and do not want to draw attention while I top off my batteries.

No more "Russian Roulette" where I turn the key at 2am on a dark and stormy night to learn my fate - do I hear the roar of the engine, the warmth of heat thru the vents, and the peaceful glow of the dashboard OR do I spend hours in the cold and the dark and the rain for a tow truck to arrive followed by a sleepless night trying to figure out what went wrong? NO! Damn it! Now, I press a fucking button. Click. Va-room. and, curse Chrysler for a power hungry computer depleting (one of my) batteries.

I've already learned this. A) Chrysler factory batteries suck. B) Chrysler automotive computers draw waaay too much juice while they're sitting idle. I do not drive enough to charge the batteries properly - NOT from drain of them sitting idle or recovering from cranking the engine but from keeping the power-hungry computer alive. This is a major design flaw in the modern motor vehicle as of 2018.

What needs to happen is that Chrysler needs to put that damn computer to sleep to conserve battery power. They also need to address the problem of people driving at night not knowing that their lights are off. But, that's another story. Perhaps they're trying to charge their batteries.


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 Post subject: OMG - Jumper cables
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:44 pm 
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OMG - Jumper cables. So many of us run to the auto parts store to buy a $10 set of "jumper cables," a set of gloves, maybe some flares and throw them into the trunk hoping never to use any of that stuff. Thanks to today's power hungry automotive computers you'll probably find yourself with a dead battery a lot more often. Even worse, today's cars need a much higher voltage to crank and those crappy jumper cables you've got most likely won't do anything for you.

Back in the old days, your ignition switch was wired from the battery to a relay. Turning the key to "start" would draw about half an amp of current to the relay under the hood. That would click on to connect the massive battery cable to the starter motor bolted to the engine, which could draw between 50 and 100 amps.

Today - yea wow, how things have changed. Sure, you still have a starter relay but there is no longer a direct connection between the ignition switch and the relay. Most new cars simply have a button marked "start." The computer has many layers of anti-theft protection before it agrees to start your car. Once it "ok's" your request to start, the computer begins to pressure the fuel system, check its sensors, and energize systems. If everything is working and ready, it finally signals the starter motor to begin cranking the engine. This insures that the least amount of time is spent spinning the starter motor. In the old days, it would take much longer to crank before the engine roared to life.

Of course, it didn't matter how much voltage you had on your battery... provided it was enough to spin the motor. Most of the running of the engine was mechanical while the electrical bits could be powered by the alternator which was starting to spin. Today, if you have a battery sitting at 11 volts or lower you are wasting your time. Computers and sensors need voltage - which a dead battery does not provide. As I found out, the single battery solution to operating a motor vehicle is an obsolete design. You may find yourself "jump starting" your car from another car.

This is where those $10 jumper cables rusting in your trunk will let you down. Almost certainly they are aluminum wire, or "CCA" Copper Clad Aluminum. It has higher resistance to current than copper, but they're cheap. A good pair of jumper cables made from real copper could cost upwards of $75 to $125. Forget the marketing hype. Even a "heavy duty" set of cables, which are 4 gauge thick can drop 1.5 volts @ 100 amps. If you're starting with 12 volts, that puts you well below the voltage needed for starting a car.

Forget "Medium Duty," "Heavy Duty," and "Super Heavy Duty" and don't pay attention to what it looks like. Manufacturers don't tell you the real details - line resistance, voltage drop, and wire material. My $10 jumpers say "500 amps" on them. Again, a useless bit of trivia as they're telling you the current rating of the jaws, not the cable.

For an 18 foot cable you'll need 2 gauge copper and for a 12 foot cable you'll need 4 gauge copper. Just take those aluminum cables and toss them. Consider a customized cable and expect to pay close to $100 for a proper set of jumper cables. Making them myself from 2 gauge I discovered that the replacement jaws are also difficult to find. Most are constructed for smaller cables, such as 8 and 6 gauge cable. Those which can accept 2, 1, or 0 have massive springs in the handles to clamp on steel, not lead battery posts - so the jaws will destroy the battery posts. Finding a decent set of jaws with a strong, but not massive spring for 2 gauge was quite a problem.

also, squeezing the claws can be a challenge unless you're a body builder. If you're female, be sure you can actually open the jaws else... what's the point?

The quest for a proper set of jumper cables continues although the dual-battery design is absolutely the best design upgrade for a modern truck or car.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:49 pm 
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Ah.... the car stealer, er I mean car dealer. A car dealership is a wonderful place with balloons and free coffee with shiny new toys where salesmen lie right to your face without breaking a sweat. The Dodge dealer in Commack, NY was so awful that I walked out. I had gone there in 2016 to test drive the new Jeep Wrangler. I kid you not: I had my checkbook in-hand, a notebook, a per-approved loan from my credit union, and was ready to walk out with the keys THAT day... and, they tried to rip me off... even after I told them my next stop was the dealer in Medford, NY. So be it. As I drove down the highway on a Saturday morning, exhausted from the experience, my cell phone was ringing from the manager of the stealer I just left begging me to return. I did not return.

Browns Chrysler in Medford is known for their great sales experience... just don't call them for warranty repair because they'll laugh at you. Well, I thought their sales force was great until I received a personal letter from their Internet Sales Specialist, Jennifer. My Wrangler is 2 years old and, aside from the usual Chrysler electrical problems and buggy computer software, it's a magnificent vehicle which I'm proud to own. Jennifer wrote to me to ask help with a difficult situation she was having.

You see, two long term clients of hers, Mark and Stephanie are buying a graduation gift for their daughter, Clara. They're looking for buy her a used Jeep Wrangler and my Jeep fits their description of what they're looking for. oh? I'm a tad suspicious that a car dealer, with glut of used and new cars sitting on the lot, would take the time to offer a buy-back on MY 2016 Wrangler. Jennifer offered a trade against the "internal employee pricing" of a new vehicle or just write me a check so I can buy elsewhere. What a deal!

well, I read and re-read this letter (3) times because I've never seen such sleazy tactics. Being somewhat of an "Internet Specialist" myself, I looked for some indicators that this was a scam. I found it. The envelope was computer generated, with a pre-sorted postage marking, with a return address in Florida. it had a serial number on it which matched the serial number on the letter, with a return address in New York. At the bottom of the "personal" letter was a clause which stated this offer may not be combined with other discounts, subject to credit approval, original owner only, expires in 1 week, "BRCDJR.D.0004" whatever the fuck that means.

It was a scam? What about poor Clara? How will she ever get her USED 2016 Jeep Wrangler now? Well, I couldn't leave Mark and Stephanie in the lurch. I must help these unfortunate fictional characters by using my "Internet Special" skills to locate them a 2016 Jeep Wrangler. And, I found one! Sure enuf, with a little help from jeep.com, I found my EXACT year and model configuration in the same color but with the upgraded sound system and navigation radio just 4 hours away. Jennifer can make a single phone call and get that vehicle loaded onto a truck carrier and onto her lot overnight. Best of all, it's still in NEW condition with (27) miles on it.

i wrote back to Jennifer to tell her the good news! (as if she gives a shit). I'm sure she could have punched those parameters into the computer herself to find VIN 1C4AJWAG6GL310548 at Newark Chrysler, just sitting on the lot ready to take delivery. I added, "Just tell them Henry sent ya and I'm sure they'll knock $3k right off the top." Of course they would - factory incentives and invoice pricing would certainly knock the $32k sticker down at least that much over 2 year's depreciation.

I'm happy I could help the Internet Sales Specialist at Browns in Medford locate a USED 2016 Wrangler for dear Clara and I hope everything works out for them. I'm just kidding. While I do appreciate the tactic - lots of fictional names, good back story, graduation gift for a young kid, all set up to offer me the chance to sell the vehicle back for something different or something more affordable without "loss of face," the approach of outright lying to me to make a sale I found very sleazy.

Epilogue: some "water cooler chat" confirmed that these letters go out all the time. Usually they're a bit more straightforward - let us buy back your vehicle because we need quality cars at the dealership (they don't, really). This whole story about poor Clara's graduation gift left a sour taste in my mouth.


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