Fixing GPS and Speed Indicator on a FalconZero F170HD Dashcam

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At the end of December 2015 I started riding with a dashcam in my car. The first dashcam was a TaoTronics Car Dash Cam HD 1080P Wide Angle with G-Sensor WDR Night Mode 2.7″ Screen, which had excellent video quality but earlier this year the battery finally gave out completely and as a result it kept losing settings including the time and date.

In April of this year I decided to repace it with a FalconZero F170HD dashcam. The dashcam has some additional features including a GPS attachment, which the camera uses to generate and save GPS information about each drive as well as displaying the current speed. I’ve managed to record a number of videos worth saving with these devices.

I don’t leave the camera powered when I’m not driving my car (the main reason the battery in the first dashcam died) and this camera also lost all settings a couple of times but strangely enough one of those settings seems to have impacted the speed indicator. It also looked like the GPS itself didn’t seem to be working as the GPS icon was showing an error on the display.

Despite ensuring that the GPS option was set to ON I was still unable to get the speed to display. I even tried checking the GPS attachment connection but nothing seemed to work.

Then suddenly, when I changed the Auto Update Time from off to the correct GMT offset for my area the GPS functions started working again. The speed indicator showed the correct value and the GPS icon was showing that it was enabled. The additional benefit is that since it’s getting the time directly from the GPS signal I no longer have to worry about manually setting the date and time again, whenever the unit is without power for a night or two.

Falcon Zero

Replacing a Shark Navigator Power Cord

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OK, this is one of those rare posts in which I’m going to just state that this is a repair that you probably shouldn’t do if you don’t know what you’re doing because if you frak it up you could start a fire or even kill yourself.

But if you are comfortable with electricity and do have some idea of what you’re doing this is a relatively straightforward fix.

A few years ago I purchased a nice Shark Navigator vacuum. At the time we had two dogs. Well, puppies actually, and the same day that I bought the vacuum one of the puppies chewed through the power cord when I stepped away for just a moment. Fortunately it wasn’t plugged in at the time. Unfortunately I could not find a replacement cord and so my only option was to cut out the section from where it connected to the vacuum up to just past the break where the puppy had chewed it. The connection point can be accessed by removing some screws and a plastic plate from the bottom of the cannister along with some additional screws; make sure to reconnect the stripped wire sections properly in there.

Finally, after a few years I was able to find a full-length replacement cord and thus I’m no longer forced to frequently unplug and replug the cord into different locations. The cord for my Shark Navigator model is the HQRP AC Power Cord for Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro NV355 NV356 NV356K NV357 NV355CS NV356KCS NV356E Upright Vacuum + HQRP Coaster, which cost $17.95 (and an additional $9.95 shipping charge).

Using a Kwikset 910 Z-Wave SmartCode Electronic Touchpad Deadbolt without the Keypad

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Normally I would first provide a post with general information about a product like this before diving straight into a tip or modification but I seem to be missing some photos so here it is…

It is possible to use a Kwikset 910 Z-Wave SmartCode Electronic Touchpad Deadbolt without the keypad and provided lock and instead use it with almost any standard deadbolt lock. You will obviously lose the use of the keypad but the lock actuator mechanism and the Z-Wave interface are all located on the part of the lock system that is mounted to the inside part of the door.

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Using an OBD-II Splitter to Connect Two Devices (Fuel Economy Guage & Zubie)

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I’ve added a couple of posts about the fuel economy guage recently but in those posts I left out the fact that I already had one device on the ODB-II port of my 2008 Chevrolet Impala – a Zubie vehicle monitoring device that is cloud-connected via its own celluar connection (the one at this link is slightly different from the ones that we have; they are both white and were also purchased as a two-pack – I don’t know if there is any technical difference between the models).

In order to solve this issue I decided to purchase a iKKEGOL 30cm/12″ ODB2 ODB II Splitter Extension Y J1962 16 Pin Cable Male to Dual Female Cord Adapter. I’m not sure why the item name is written as ODB2 ODB II as it should instead be OBD2 OBD II but it does work properly. I read several reviews before deciding to purchase this devices as I was uncertain whether or not having two devices connected in this way would cause issues. I decided that it was not very likely to be a problem because the fuel economy guage only reads from the system and the Zubie device probably rarely ever sends data, if at all.

I haven’t had a single problem with either device since I connected them to the splitter.

OBD-II-Splitter

The white fabric is actually an elastic material helping to ensure that the connection to the OBD-II port doesn’t slip loose. Normally, the cables are tucked away better but I had just shifted them before taking this cable to reposition the fuel economy guage.

Reducing Windshield Reflection of an Auto Meter 9105 ecometer Fuel Consumption Gauge Display

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The Auto Meter 9105 ecometer Fuel Consumption Gauge works great but when driving at night I started to experience a slightly distracting problem. A reflection of the guage’s display was very visible higher up the windshield. This was probably aggravated by the fact that I have it placed directly on my dash, which curves up and thus causes the guage to be at more of an angle than if it was sitting flat.

I’ve managed to reduce the amount that is reflected, and could eliminate it further with a small modification, by building an extension of the guage’s hood. I lucked out and was able to find some black vinyl just sitting around (I originally asked a friend if he had some black construction paper but he had something better – vinyl), which I affixed to the hood of the guage with electrical tape to extend it out. This little trick seems to have been a significant improvement when driving at night.

ecometer-hood-01ecometer-hood-02

 

Easy Accessory Power Switch for a 2008 Chevrolet Impala

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I used a dashcam, phone charger and bluetooth adapter in the car for a while but I grew tired of having to manually unplug those devices when not in use or when I turned the car off. Unfortunately, in my 2008 Chevrolet Impala the vehicle would continue to provide power to any plugged in accessories even when the engine was off. Most of these devices are low power but even a dashcam, given enough time, could eventually drain the vehicle batter, especially if the car wasn’t being used for several days.

Re-wiring the electrical system and messing with fuses is beyond my experience so I decided to see if I could find an automotive power strip that would have a built-in power switch and sure enough I was able to find the perfect device.

The EUGIZMO Cigarette Lighter Splitter only costs about $16, offers three DC outlets, four USB power ports, a large power switch for the unit and also a very good visual indicator to show whether or not it is on.

I chose to mount this upside-down, just below the vehicle’s built-in DC power ports. This placement moves most of the power adapters and cables out of the way; whenever I turn the car on or off it’s very easy to just reach down and hit the large power button.

Car-Power-Strip

At first affixing the unit beneath the dash was a bit of the problem as the first type of velcro that I had used simply wasn’t holding and it would often come loose during the day. Eventually I ended up using some VELCRO Exterme Outdoor Strips and it hasn’t come loose since.

Scheduling Automatic Modem and Router Power Cycling Using a NetReset NR-1000US

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Back at the house the cable modem and router usually operate just fine but every now and then something hangs up and unfortunately it’s not always practical to go by to reset the gear. And asking a friend to do it for me, even when they’re eager to do it, just seems unfair.

So I searched for a device on Amazon.com, as usual, and sure enough someone has a product that is intended for exactly this need. The NetReset NR100US, which cost about $45, can be set to automatically reset the power to both outlets on the device using a set delay between them. It will turn off one outlet for a minute, turn it back on, and then a minute later do the same for the next.

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