Using USB-Powered Fans (AC Infinity MULTIFAN S5) to Cool Entertainment Devices (Comcast X1 DVR)

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Our X1 DVR simply can’t handle any heat buildup. This is probably largely due to the fact that it lacks any fans and several comments on the Internet seem to indicate that the device is underpowered and thus works harder to handle high-quality audio and video (and as a result it generates more heat). I’m undecided on whether or not the box needs to be replaced. The features are fine and when it isn’t having issues it works very well.

Lately I’ve started to experience the same symptoms of the box overheating even though it’s still outside of the entertainment cabinet and the air conditioner is usually on. This may have something to do with using a different TV, which is directly above a small part of the DVR’s case and perhaps restricting airflow in that area.

Last weekend I attempted to use a very inexpensive USB fan to cool the box. It was very basic; little more than a USB plug and a fan motor. It did actually work but it was on a flexible arm, which generated a lot of vibration and thus a lot of noise. Even though it only cost about $5 it simply wasn’t going to work. I also suspect the fan wasn’t intended for continuous use as I noticed the motor was warm when I removed. I dropped it into a box of unused devices and decided to look for something specifically made for this purpose.

That’s when I found theĀ AC Infinity MULTIFAN S5 on Amazon.com, which appeared to be a much better device for cooling the DVR (and indeed, it is). It features two fans that work from a single USB connection. In addition, more fans can be chained together though I don’t have a need for this capability. They truly are very quiet. The fans have a single switch that can be used to turn them off or to a low, middle and high speed. The highest speed isn’t very loud and the set is much, much quieter than the first fan that I had tried.

At $16 it looks like a good deal and even if I replace the DVR with something better, down the road, I can still reuse the fans with other devices. So far I’m extremely pleased with this purchase.

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5-Port USB Wall Charger (EasyAcc)

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USB-Charger-EasyAcc

Having accumulated several devices that charge via USB, sometimes I don’t have enough USB block plugs on hand (and other times I’m just tired of digging around to find the adapters) to charge everything up at once. Last week I purchased a couple of 5-port USB wall chargers (EasyAcc) from Amazon for less than $20 each, which have helped make this minor inconvenience less of an issue.

This particular model isn’t something I plan to move around frequently. Instead I have located them in key spots where they’ll remain most of the time. One is at my office and the other is in our guest room.

So far they seem to work well and they’re about as simple as expected (and needed). There is one thing of note that interested purchasers may need to be aware of. The USB ports do not all provide the same level of output, though it’s clearly marked on the device how much power each port provides and it’s unlikely to be an issue for most people.

  • USB1 5V/2.1A (iPad)
  • USB2 5V/1.3A (Samsung Tab)
  • USB3 5V/2.1A (iPad)
  • USB4 5V/1A (iPhone)
  • USB5 5V/1A (Android)

Humidity and Wood Floors (With a Vented Crawl Space)

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We’ve been in our home for a couple of years. We’ve had various issues (this seems to be a common theme for new home owners regardless of the age of the house). The home was built in the 1920s so almost everything is wooden.

This year we’ve noticed a change in the wood floor in many areas of the home. Specifically, more boards creak and some even seem to give more than they used to. Part of this may be caused by the shifting of several sets of jacks used to provide additional support to the floor joists. Until I go back under the house I won’t know if the jacks have shifted – this is very possible if they weren’t set on a solid base such as concrete or blocks.

Regardless, I believe I’ve narrowed down one other cause. The amusing aspect of this is that it turned out to be the opposite of what I expected.

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Tricking a Hotel Room Air Conditioner/Occupancy Sensor

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Several months ago I stayed in a hotel in which the room used an “occupancy sensor” to automatically shut off the air conditioner if no movement was detected after a brief delay. I didn’t consider it a true occupancy sensor. Instead, this seemed more like a simple motion sensor.

In my opinion an occupancy sensor shouldn’t shut off the A/C if someone is still in the room. For example, it should be able to detect the body heat of a room’s occupants. After one night of sleeping in a warm room I cobbled together a simple solution.

The core concept is to generate movement that will continuously trigger the motion sensor.

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