Texecom release v4.01 firmware

Texecom have now released a minor update to the v4 firmware to v4.01.

I’ve not seen any specific release notes although from what is mentioned on the website it looks like mainly bugfixes and minor changes.

I’m not sure it’s really worth the effort of reflashing at the moment but I may do if I get an opportunity. I  need to do some maintenance on it as several of the USB serial devices have broken (note to self, avoid bargain basement serial interfaces!) and I want to replace them with a small USB hub and other devices.

I’m still contemplating getting some of the new kit in for review although not done as yet… maybe something for the New Year!

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Choosing LED Bulbs

Although I’m keen on saving energy (hence the heating control project) I’ve never been much impressed with the various kinds of light bulbs that have come along purporting to be the energy-saving solution.

The first era was the compact fluorescent lamp:

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There are loads of different types of these, as shown above. The earlier ones were straight (top left) and then there were various spiral designs. Although these clearly used a lot less power than old fashioned incandescent bulbs I didn’t like the colour of the light, and I particularly didn’t like the fact they took quite a few seconds to come on. Also of course you can’t use them with dimmer switches, and they don’t play well with the various home automation switches that I’ve been using.

More recently bulbs based on LEDs have been coming in. They have been around for a while but initially were quite expensive and couldn’t be used with dimmers. Also the colour of these was also a bit variable.

What has really prompted me to look at this properly has been the fact that it is increasingly difficult and more expensive to get hold of incandescent bulbs (around £1.50 each or more), and also the ones you get seem to last no time at all. I’m sure in the past they used to last for ages… but now seems only a few months at a time.

We have a lot of chandelier / candelabra light fittings, each of which uses at least 5 candle bulbs. These seem to be blowing all the time and not only does this lead to a dimly lit room it feels like it’s costing me a lot of money.

So I thought it was time finally to address the issue. It seems the market has moved on a lot since I last looked. I wasn’t keen on the ‘no name’ Chinese import brands and I also didn’t really like the ‘frosted’ look of the bulbs. Whilst you can find ‘filament’ style ones these are quite low wattage.

After a lot of digging around I finally found the Philips Master LED DiamondSpark:

There’s a lot to like about these – they are dimmable, they look good and in many ways resemble a real bulb (with the ‘DiamondSpark’ filament), and they weren’t very expensive. I got the 6W version from ledbulbs.co.uk whom I’d really recommend, and they were £4.50 each and actually cheaper because I bought a load of them plus had a discount code.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the results are really good – indistinguishable to my eyes from the candle bulbs they replaced, and the whole fitting now consumes less energy than a single one of the incandescent bulbs in it before. Also and just as importantly they work well with the Fibaro Z-Wave dimmers that I have scattered around. This is true for both the older v1 and new v2 versions, and I haven’t needed a dimmer bypass because the fittings have enough bulbs to be above the minimum load of 25W.

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So all in all I’m very impressed and am glad to have finally made the switch. I’m hoping it will save time and money, especially given the bulbs are rated at 25,000 hours each!

Repairing a Miele Dishwasher

I’ve always been keen on buying quality stuff where I can because it tends to last much longer and give better results. This applies to white goods just as much as anything else. I have had bad experiences with buying cheap washing machines etc in the past and so I now buy the high quality although expensive German brands – Siemens, Miele etc. This has worked out well so far and I’ve had years of good service from them.

The dishwasher I have is a Miele G975 SC Plus which is now pretty old (I bought it about 10 years ago). It has worked pretty much flawlessly all that time although there is one recurrent problem. They use a fan system to dry the dishes (so-called ‘Turbothermic’) with a vent on the front. Sometimes instead of blowing out hot air the fan starts spitting out water which makes a racket and a terrible mess. The reason for this is that there is a hose between the fan unit and the drain which gets blocked up with bits of food. The solution is to strip down the door and clean everything out.

Removing the front panel is a fairly simple matter of removing all the screws from the inside of the door and then various others round the plastic front panel. You also need to pull off the plastic mode selector knob:

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Then you can get to the hoses and fan assembly (fan at top left in the picture below). You then have to unscrew and fold down the metal front panel which you can do without disconnecting any of the many wires.

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The fan itself can then be unplugged and removed. There is a trick to this – it is held in place not by screws but by a circular grille on the inside of the door. To release it you need to twist the grille and the fan drops out. Be careful doing this or it can drop out unexpectedly.

Then you can dismantle the fan completely and clean out all the muck and old food, as well as cleaning out all the hoses:

It is then a matter of putting it all back together again, and hopefully it will all now work properly. It seems to go for quite a number of years between needing doing again.

I love the fact that these machines are so easy to work on and in my view they are definitely worth the extra money up front.