Drayton SCR and RF 2 fault finding

March 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm (house) (, , , , , )

We’ve been having some issues with our central heating.  A couple of weeks ago it stopped coming on completely.

A bit of debugging seemed to be showing that the thermostat had stopped asking the heating to come on.  Sure enough, when I bypassed the thermostat by adding a loop wire back into our boiler (as per the manufacturers default ‘as delivered’ state) I was able to control the heating manually, so I knew the boiler was fine.  So what to do about the thermostat?

Well I could go out and buy a new radio thermostat for £100-150, but thought I must be able to do better.  We have a Drayton SCR receiver and a RF 2 controller unit.  It all looked like it was working.  The green light came on when the override was pressed, but the heating wasn’t triggered.  I could also see the red light flashing when the controller was asking for the heating to trigger – but still no signal to the boiler.

Eventually, after trying the ‘learning’ mode and commissioning sequence as per the manual, manufacturers troubleshooting guide, and general Internet wisdom, I eventually found a site that said that the SCR units can develop a fault over time where the large capacitor on the circuit board degrades and can’t maintain the voltage required to actually switch the boiler.  That sounded promising so I found a replacement capacitor on eBay for £4, waited and when it arrived got my soldering iron out.

That did the trick!  All working perfectly then for around two weeks.  Then I had a different problem.  This time the red alarm led was always on.  Again I went through the commissioning sequence but no luck.  I reset the controller as per Internet comments – removing battery draws, etc, still no good.  I tried new batteries too, but still no good.

Then I found a note that the last hand battery drawer was the display and the right hand drawer was the transmission circuits.  So as the display was all fine, I wondered if there could be a fault with the radio side.  The contacts looked a bit dirty, so I got the polish and a cotton bug out and gave them a clean.  That did it!  Even though official fault finding seemed to say the unit would be faulty, it was just dirty contacts in the battery drawer.

So, with a bit of logic, Internet support and willingness to think the problem through, our heating is all fine again now and so far (fingers crossed) I’ve not had to spent £100 plus to replace a thermostat that has otherwise worked fine for around 10 years.



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Hands up if you keep Chickens

April 6, 2012 at 10:38 am (computers, house, internet) (, , )

Apparently many of us do.  Google typing predictions are a good indicator of interest and if you start typing “how to keep” then chickens is at the top of the list (followed by “… a man interested”, “… healthy” and “… awake”!  Duduce from that what you will!)

What brought the subject up was seeing that Wilkinson’s stores now stock chicken pellets, corn, grit, mite powder and so on.  So enough poeple must be picking up chicken related supplies as they pop in and out of the shop to make it worth their while.  Haven’t seen it on the shelves of Tescos yet mind.

This reminds me of a subject that Richard Watson brings up in his book The Future Files.  He talks about the pace of society and how in the future (and for some, maybe right now) there will be polar opposites at work.  On the one hand, everything is so fast paced, so connected, so ‘never-leaving-work-behind’ and not having time for things, that everything will have to be convenient, grabbable, consumed “on the move” (and by that he means food, relationships, entertainment, information …).

But then contrary to this will be a desire to return to simpler things – like home baking, DIY, crafts, allotments, keeping chickens … like “the good life” but with people using it as “time out” or a holiday from the fast paced, connected society.

Some people already have “disconnected sundays” where no one is allowed to turn the phones or Internet on.  Some people ban phones at family meals.  The Television, once seen as bringing the breakup of family and social life, is often now a means to bring everyone sitting down together to watch a film, the latest “must see” reality-factor-talent exploitation.

Even in times of entertainment on demand, there are still significant timetabled TV shows that mean that everyone sits down together, goes to the loo at the same time, and still causes significant spikes in the power as they all put the kettle on afterwards … (one of the drivers for smart grids/meters … you put the kettle on at the start, and it decides when its most economical, environmentally friendly, and efficient to actually boil, anticipating when you’ll need it …)

So one generation’s family-killing technology, becomes another generations family-saving experience.

It has been said about books, TVs, Gaming, the Internet and no social networking and mobile phones. Is technology making is more isolated or more connected?  You choose 🙂

Of course, the answer is usually to apply more technology in an attempt to solve the issues brought about by technology.  And on that note, I’m off to experiment with that arduino chicken door controller


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Action on CO2

January 13, 2008 at 5:00 pm (house, internet, security) (, , )

Those adds with the funny engines on wheels have been quite prevalent recently. One thing that struck me about them, is that they end saying something like ‘search for Action on CO2 online’ rather than give a web address, which I considered odd.

Well, the carbon calculator page is http://actonco2.direct.gov.uk/ (as far as I can tell), and I think that the actual site that tells you about the initiative is http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/actonco2/DG_067197.  Neither of these appear in any of the first page of search results for ‘action on co2’ in google.  Looks like http://www.actiononco2.com has been cybersquatted by someone.

This could be a good scam for someone – get a site, use all the search engine tricks you know to get it high up in the ratings for results for searching on ‘action on co2’ and anyone who follows the advice from the government ad on the telly will end up at your site, downloading whatever you choose to put on the main page.  Hmm…

With a URL like the ones above, I can see why they perhaps didn’t want to put it on the ad, but to just say ‘search online’ seems like a mistake to me ….


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Lego in landfill sites

October 28, 2007 at 11:00 am (house, interesting, kids) (, , , , , )

Whilst vacuuming the other day, i heard the tell-tale clattery noise that informed me that another piece of Lego had just started its journey to our local landfill site. Lego has such a distinctive noise when you buy it in a box, when you are sorting it and yes, even when it goes up the tube!

It did get me wondering how much Lego there must be in landfills around the world … we must vacuum up the equivalent of a set every few years just in our family. Of course its always the smallest bits, which never used to be an issue when there were only handful of colours but these days with new sets including new shades and sizes of bricks sometimes you end up with a very small number of the right colour of the right brick for that favourite model …

I also wondered (it takes a while to vacuum the hall in our house) what else you would find that has accidentally found its way to the landfill. Reached for google to see if anyone had anything about interesting finds from rubbish sites, but couldn’t find anything really. Lots about effects of landfill sites on health, about the toxic substances that are dumped, about disposable nappies and so on, but nothing about people finding anything interesting. If anyone comes across anything, do let me know.

I can’t believe no one has studied the important question of how much Lego gets thrown away each year 🙂


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Low-power household electrical standard?

April 20, 2007 at 9:08 pm (computers, house, moan) (, , )

Why is it that there are so many different power adaptors with different current ratings, different voltages and different connectors?

I’ve just spent about half an hour sorting through a drawer full of adaptors for mobile phones, MP3 players, gameboys, digital cameras, battery chargers, etc – they are all different! And these are just the ones that recharge things. If I factor in the different ones we have that power novelty lights, computer peripherals, musical items, AV equipment, etc, our house must have hundreds of different power adaptors!

Just when you think you’ve got it sorted with a multi-voltage, multi-connector, multi-adaptor, you find something that needs 4.34V precisely!

Isn’t it about time we had a common UK standard for low-voltage devices? Do we really need all these different voltage levels and connectors? Is it beyond the wit of man to come up with a new plug and wiring system to sit alongside our 240V supply? We have a starting point, with the 12V car cigarette lighter standard (sort of). Shouldn’t be too hard. Really. Should it?

In the mean time, I’ll keep that drawer space reserved.


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