Rachel's Yard

| A New Continuation

As someone who grew up in Southern China, where the climate is usually hot and humid, the always nice weather in the SF Bay Area has spoiled me tremendously.

Technically, the heat was the worst for the weekend, so I thought, okay, I will just ride it out.

As Monday comes along, it got hotter. Fine, I will take it one more day. Tuesday comes along, and holy crap God have mercy.

face palm

Naturally, when hot weather comes, everybody rushes to their favorite stores and buy the AC that fits their needs. Sure enough, my local Home Depot's are sold out of portable AC units. No problem, I will just drive half an hour away to grab one... Although, 60 lbs was just a biiit too heavy to me. Luckily, physics rocks!


Anyway, casement is such a bitch and a half for portable AC...

attempt 1

The plan was, hmmm maybe I can just run the AC in the bathroom, then the cold air can blow into my room, which is basically right next to the bathroom. Though for reasons that I will explain later, that didn't work:

clearly thermodynamics isn't a thing

At first I thought it was because of the BTU rating. From what I can tell, my room is 150 sqft, with 8 ft ceiling, so that's about 6000 BTU. The unit that I have is rated for 7000 BTU (DOE), which should be enough. However, that clearly didn't work.

Alright then, let's just move the unit to my room and see how that works:

attempt 2

That's still a resounding: Nope

My theory is that because of the direct sunlight coming from the windows (one big 72x40 window, but with 1/3 of it seal off and insulated) heats up the room, and that's gonna be a lot of BTU added to the room.

Secondly, the janky cardboard seal is not a perfect seal, with hot air still leaking in, so that's another source of BTU.

In addition, the exhaust hose is pretty warm to the touch, and that means, MORE BTU FOR YOU!!!11!

Some Googlings and YouTube later, this video seems to confirm that the exhaust hose is basically a giant radiant heater. Okay, no problem, early morning run to Home Depot (couldn't sleep), and got one of these bad boys, and some reflective foil tape.

For the sealing issue, I picked up one of these seals that is supposed to be for casement window, and the installation was relatively painless.

Lastly, for the windows, I'm using the same Double Reflective Insulation Roll from Reflectix, and tape some cardboard behind to support it, hang it on the middle section of the window (I will probably do that same for the remaining third but I want light in my room :( ).

And here's the very professionally done installation of everything:

seal and insulate

i think we have a winner

(If I were an HVAC person I think this will get me fired :P

Now, I don't think the hose will be retracted anymore, so it's gonna be a whole assembly at this point. Summer is here, so I think that setup will be here to stay for now (thanks Global Warming). The piece of the roll is there so the temperature sensor behind the air filter for the air inlet will be shaded instead of under sunlight or whatever.

The result is very promising. The insulated hose is practically room temperature to the touch, and the AC cools down the room pretty well in the morning before the sun kicks into high gear. When the sun does come out and starts assulting my side of the window, it does struggle a little, but upping the temperature to 78 or 80 seems to make it happy, and the room is still pretty comfortable. Whereas before, running for like 3 hours and the room is basically still a hot oven.

I wouldn't call this whisper quiet (my bed is 75cm from the AC unit with the compressor AND exhaust fan pointing at me), but it beats not being to sleep because of the heat:

literally whisper quiet

And in the afternoon, I ran out and bought an Eve Energy to see how our AC is doing:

not bad

When the compressor and exhaust fan is off, it's taking about 70W in low speed. With everything on, it draws about 1100W, which is okay IMO. I think with the ~$0.24362/kWh during peak time 4-9pm, and $0.22483 off-peak (both for summer pricing), this summer will be bearable, my wallet and my sleep.

What happens if you don't need AC?

Simple. Move the unit a little so you can maneuver the hose, get it out of the window seal, close up the seal, and close the window:

thank god for chill wind

...and now you can just shove this big pipe somewhere else:


Gonna leave it in the living room for now, pretty sure that I'm gonna need AC sooner or later.

...and now you have a box fan!

(Continuing the series of making you fabulous with HomeKit.)

Not too long ago, we went to NorCal Night Market for a fun night, and unavoidably I was hooked to one thing:

me and my baloon

Just look at it! Balloon with an LED strip on it! Balls!

However, good things never last. Just after a few days, the helium has leaked to the point that it can no longer support all the weight, and the balloon has shrank:

sad balloon

Suddenly, I remember my trusted Raspberry Pi, and we are going to have so much fun...

Let's see if we can separate the child from the mother

(unintentional Trump)

led off the balloon

looks good to me

we don't need this transistor

The board has a three-stage switch: off, flashing, constantly on. We probably don't need the transistor anyway.

Let's do a quick and dirty test and see if our RPi can power it (off the 3v3 pin).

of course

Not a problem!

It sounds good in practice, now how is it in theory?

For the life of me I could not figure out how I broke the SD card, so I will have to make a trip to the closest Best Buy. While I was there, I saw something interesting:

best buy = bitlocker confirmed

Well, moving on...

Back home, I naively thought that the GPIO pin would have enough juice to power all the LEDs.

Hahahahahaha.... Jokes on me. Switch a pin to high, and the LEDs are pretty dim.

Relay time!

soldering is my enemy

So, pretty standard relay. 5v + signal to control the relay, and the NO side is the 3v3 power (the ground is always connected).

With the help of a fellow Internet friendly tinkerer, using homebridge-gpio-device will now complete the circuit:


pink strip in action


poor man's philips hue

(Yes, I used electrical tape, don't judge me)

For the sake of my own sanity, the social worker signed me up for Intensive Outpatient Program.

So far it's been very helpful. In small groups, we unpack, and everyone can be there to listen and help.

Anyway, the therapist and the psychiatrist both suspected that I might have a form of mood disorder, after hearing my background and stories.


Well, no amount of therapy would prepare me for my depressive episode, as now I call it. I can feel and see myself falling from hypomania to how I felt on the other Wednesday, where I've almost lost my will to live.

So, as soon as I got to my program on Wednesday, I asked my psychiatrist if I can get on medication, and yes, I'm now on Lamictal.

There isn't a formal diagnosis of "Bipolar" on my medical records yet, but we all know that Bipolar II pretty much aligns with my symptoms.


Hindsight 20/20, looking back at myself again, it seemed pretty apparent:

  1. Even before my HRT (so I can't blame that on my hormones), I have times when I would stay up for 3-4 nights and non-stop programming. Dermail and SlugSurvival were the results of that, plus some other projects including Andromeda.
  2. Then, I would have days where I just do not want to do anything, and withdrawn from my friends and family and my surrounding.
  3. Worst of all, hypomania and depression can happen on the same day, and my friends are scratching their heads of why I'm so "moody."
  4. On top of that, I've made outrageous claims so outrageous that, Alex was surprised that I said those.
  5. Even my mom was surprised that I bought so many clothes and shoes as if money was unlimited.
  6. Plus, I talked so much sometimes even a person with the most patience would be annoyed.
  7. Last but not least, when I'm "down," I would have no self-esteem and contemplating self-harm, even though deep down I know that "I'm not a failure."

Needless to say, the cycling is pretty deliberating. I thought that it was just part of me, well actually, I thought that was me. In reality I wasn't well, it was just so happened that my "good performance" masked all the abnormalities.

On the other hand, now I have to distinguish what is really "me" and what is really my symptom. But as my therapist said, the core me is still me, that hasn't changed.

I'm hopeful that with the help of medication and therapy, I can manage my symptoms.

Gonna be a bit playful here...

applies to mental illness as well

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