Tuesday, 5 December 2017

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review & Fitting Tips

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review - Intro

First off if you are buying this to treat tap water in the UK don't bother. Tap water in the UK is the most highly regulated in the world, in terms of quality. Depending on where you live you may be lucky enough to get mineral water out of you tap for free!

Residents of Portsmouth for example get beautiful calcium rich chalk aquifer water out of their taps. And the Drinking Water Inspectorate place strict limits on any nasties full stop. Do not bother treating mains tap water.

If you however use borehole water that is contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides or other then please read on . . . .

Takes up Most of Room Under Sink - Not a lot of room for Washing Up Liquid

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review - Cost

The East Midlands Water Company sells well priced reverse osmosis units, at around the £150 mark at the time of buying. This is pretty cheap considering how complicated the unit is. However, just like buying a cheap printer, you could expect to make up for it with the cost of the cartridges. The 5 filters in the units at present are around £60 to replace, although you can order extra for not much money.

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review - Quality

This worries me. I am not saying that the RO unit does not function, but the connections between filters are numerous and the the fitting are small and do not inspire confidence.

The unit operates at mains pressure! So small screw fit plastic connectors make be worry a bit. If one of these "popped off" there would be £1000s of damage done in just a few hours. Other higher cost system feature much more robust connectors and less of them.

Plastic Fittings do not Feel Very Sturdy

Like I say I am sure it is fit for purpose, but this is a mains pressure system, and as such could be conceived as a bit flimsy.

The instructions that come with the kit are OK, but a bit more details wouldn't go amiss. Also I did not have enough inserts to put in all the pipe ends. Which was a bit annoying, how much does an insert cost 1p? And I was short. The fitting for the top of the pressure vessel will not seal with PTFE tape, so get a role of that prior to fitting. Again they could include roll of this (50p), you need it for fitting.

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review - Fitting Tips

Fitting is fairly simple. But any mistakes will lead to much damage from leakage so this ups the stakes a bit, it is not an enjoyable process knowing the risks are so high. Especially considering the flimsy nature of the connectors. For fitting you will need:

  • Drill with c.12mm drill bit - To make hole in sink for tap.
  • File Possibly - To enlarge hole in sink.
  • Smaller drill bit - for fitting waste pipe
  • Some silicone to seal waste pipe, if not using kit (optional extra)
  • Screws and screwdriver for mounting inside cupboard
  • Sharp knife and chopping board to cut pipes to length
  • Adjustable spanner for tap fitting.
  • PTFE Tape to seal tank threads
PTFE Around Tank Thread

It took me around 3 hours. Although the last hour I was also cooking tea at the same time. 

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review - Taste

The water tastes pretty flat, this is to be expected as you are pretty much drinking distilled water. Mineral filters are available to the put the minerals back in before you drink it. I have not done any analysis on the water to test how effective the treatment is. 

Lots of Tubes!

EMWC - Reverse Osmosis - 5 Stage - Review - Conclusions

This is certainly is as very cheap option for those wishing to treat water to a high state of purity, however the fittings do not inspire confidence. 

Waste Transfer Station Permit

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review - Intro

The Sony SRS-XB3 is a smallish portable bluetooth speaker with has been superseded by the SRS-XB30. I went for the SRS-XB3 because it does not have all of the gimmicks that the SRS-XB30 has. If you want flashing lights and "demon modes" and all of the that annoying faff that gets in the way of listening to music then go for the XB30.

Understated - Satsuma for Scale

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review - Size

The  SRS-XB3 is about 20cm long and 8cm tall. Approximately the size of a battenberg cake. Of three rubix cubes in a row. It can be stood on end to fit in the narrow space on a book shelf or laid longways.

Sensible Size - Fits in Bag or Glove Box

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review - Battery Life

The battery lasts a long time. Specs say about 8 hours, so for me it will go over a week between charges. Of course as with all lithium batteries it is best to keep the battery topped up. Discharging the battery a lot will shorten its lifespan.

I have not used the speaker for charging USB devices, but this will shorten battery life. It is however a handy feature.

Charging, USB Port and Line In - Open Rear Flap

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review - Connectivity

Use can music via bluetooth or via 3.5mm auxiliary port. The bluetooth is quick to connect and the connection is steady when used within the same room. The aux port kaes a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. So you will need a male to male connector lead to use this, which is not supplied, but can be had for £2 / $4 on ebay.

The SRS-XB3 remembers which device it is paired with after it has been switched back on. Thi sis handy as you do not have to re-pair the speaker to the audio source (such as phone). However, if you are switching to another phone or player then you just hold down the pairing button on the top of the unit until you hear a beep, and then connect . pair through the settings on you phone / player.

Clearly Labelled Button - Very Easy Setup

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review - Sound

The most important bit. The speaker is small, but the tone is very rich. This richness can be enhanced by turning on the "extra bass" feature, which I seldom switch off! The rich bass is very noticeable at low to moderate volumes, however when using the Sony SRS-XB3 at higher volumes the bass is reduced, with treble and midrange becoming more predominant.

The sound is produced by a two small speakers and 2 passive radiators. These a wobbly bits of rubber that wobble in and out in time with the speakers and act as extra speakers. One of these passive radiators is front facing the other rear facing. This is good, as you can place you Sony SRS-XB3 in the corner of room perhaps 30cm for a wall, and the rear facing passive radiator causes reverberation from the walls = extra extra bass!

When listening to EDM I find it helps to place the speaker in the corner. You get a free power boost this way.

Specs - 15V x 2.5A = 30W approx RMS Music Power

Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker Review - Conclusion

This is a good little speaker. The depth of bass for its size is most impressive, although it lacks very deep bass you may get with larger speaker systems. For day to day listening and radio listening it is perfectly adequate, and if you wanted to crank up the volume at the weekends then it can be quite loud.

Interestingly this speaker can be linked with a 2nd Sony SRS-XB3 Portable Speaker, to form a stereo listening experience, which would double the volume and create a more dynamic sound

Environmental Permit Applications

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Shimano BR-BL-M355 Review

Shimano BR-BL-M355 Review - Intro

This is my second purchase of these brakes. I have one on the front of my cargo bike for around a year. It has been a good brake, so when my Avid BB7 on the rear of my normal bike got so stiff I couldn't adjust the pads anymore, I thought I would upgrade to the BR-BL-M355.

Basic but Neat

Shimano BR-BL-M355 Review - Build Quality

There is nothing fancy about this brake, but its does have the normal budget level of shimano quality about it. The finish is clean, the parts are well machined. I think the bleed nuts might be stainless. . .that sort of thing.
Quality Mouldings

This is a low end kit though, the brake lever is made from pressed steel plate rather than aluminium which you normally find on most breaks. But I like steel so thats cool.

Pressed Steel Lever. . Fine

Shimano BR-BL-M355 Review - Fitting

Fitting is a sinch. You have to remove your grips etc. to slide this thing on the bars, but that no big deal. Use hair spray squirted under grips (prise up a little with thin screwdriver or small allen key) to loosen them up and then more hair spray inside when you put them back on.

The brake are pre-bled, so it is literally the case of just attaching them to the bike, and hey presto done! Fit and forget.

Note Adjustment Screw for Reach

Shimano BR-BL-M355 Review - Performance

Mounted on the front of my cargo bike one of these will stop a very heavy bike on all but the steepest of hills. My cargo bike with me a 3 kids on it weighs 180kg, so thats not too shabby. On the flip side pulling this much weight to a standstill does munch the pads!

Calipers Lack. . which is good.

Performance in my experience is fine. If you want modulation or some sort of fancy braking then waste more money on "better" brakes.

Shimano BR-BL-M355 Review - Conclusion

Shimano Quality. Cheap as Chips. Stop you Well. . . . What else do you want? More bling . .shame on you! Spend the money on your wife.

Top View

Environmental Permit Applications

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Vent Axia Lo-Carbon - Review & Install Guide

Vent Axia Lo-Carbon - Intro

For the most part the instructions give a good of idea how to install this thing. But the template that comes with the heat recovery fan is pants.

Vent Axia Lo-Carbon - Install Guide

There is one inadequacy with the instructions provided. That is the cable entry point, and also no description of how long the cable should be.

1 - The Cable Needs to be Long

The cable entry point (centre left of template) is around 15 - 20cm away from where you need to connect the cable internally (top left of unit). After leaving 10cm of cable sticking out of the wall, I was left short. Despite the requirement for a long cable there is very little room behind the unit for connectors etc. which makes adapting cable length with clamp type connector difficult.

 2 - Cable "Threading"

You also have to thread the cable through the body of the extractor fan. This would be relatively hard to do with 2.5mm cable. Bit probably OK with 1.5mm or flexible.

3 - Template 

There is nothing wrong with needing a long wire, but wire not mention this on the template!

4 - Run Off a Socket?

Yes you can run this off a socket. Handy if you want on and off to be timed. 

Vent Axia Lo-Carbon - Review

It seems to work OK, in terms of heat recovery. It is a bit noisy however. I used to ventilate my garden office with a couple of 120mm fans from a PC, which was better in terms of noise.

If I went again I would likley buy a passive MHRV unit for £99, some ducting and use PC fans again.

This vent axia lo carbon does have a boost function which shifts a lot of air, and also a summer bypass flap, so you can set it to just extract in the summer. 

Its a good bit of kit . . . . just a little too noisey. 

All the best,


Obviously this system could burn your house down if connected up incorrectly, and any cutting of wires will void any warranties. Do all of the above at your own risk. After all I have just written about what I am doing, it is your choice if you decide to do any of the above.

Environmental Consultants London

Monday, 6 November 2017

How to Install a Vented Tumble Drier

1- How to Install a Vented Tumble Drier - Intro

A condenser tumble drier is easy to install. Because you do not need a hole in the wall of your house. However with a vented tumble drier you need a pipe or duct that takes the warm moist air out of the tumble drier, and blows it outside.

2 -How to Install a Vented Tumble Drier - What Tools will You Need?

A professional would use a large diamond core bit, to make a perfect round hole. However this tool is not really worth buying for 1 job. Although they are about £20 on Ebay so not too bad.

Basic - Hammer and Masonry Chisel (It is be harder to do a neat job without a drill)

Intermediate - Drill with 120mm long masonry bit & Hammer and Chisel

Well Equipped - SDS Drill with chisel function

Pro - Diamond or Tungsten Core Bit

You will also need a tape measure, a marker pen and a vacuum cleaner is ideal for tidy up.

3 -How to Install a Vented Tumble Drier - What Materials?

A vent kit may be you cheapest option, and will likley come with instructions, so that could be a good bet if you are doing this for the first time, or not a keen DIYer.

If you are short of cash or need to get your drier up and running quickly, you could make the hole and pull the flexible duct through that is supplied with the direr, as a short term solution. Just make sure you allow the duct to hang downwards externally, so water will not run in.

You can also use a peice of 100mm waste pipe, and and a vent cover externally. This is what I used.

4 -How to Install a Vented Tumble Drier - Where to Make Your Hole?

Most tumble driers designed for domestic use will have a 100mm vent duct. Ideally you do not want you vent pipe to exit the wall any lower than 1 meter, to prevent rodents using it as a door. Realistically you will be limited to the the height of your kitchen worktop which is usually about 90cm. In short keep the vent hole a high as possible.

In the example shown below the drier is installed in a cupboard (door must be left open when in use) and the vent exits more than 1 meter above external ground level.

Important: The rigid duct should slop down hill towards the outside of the property. Otherwise the rain will run through the pipe in to you kitchen. Also condensation.

5 - How to Install a Vented Tumble Drier - Making the Hole 

A vent kit may be you cheapest option, and will likley come with instructions, so that could be a good bet if you are doing this for the first time, or not a keen DIYer.

It is better to start from inside, but you will need to have a think about where you hole will emerge on the outside of the house. Are there an pipes or cables in the wall? Is there a meter box (!) or similar close to where you hole will emerge?

Take a piece of you rigid ducting or in my case 100m waste pipe, and us it as a stencil, position the hole as discussed in section 5.

A - Draw Around your Chosen Ducting

Next take your drill and make a series of hole around the line the you have just drawn.

B - Drill A Series of Holes & Chisel Out

Now you will need to chisel out the bit of the wall you have made you holes around, it is better to chisel because it make less dust. When you have finished chiselling you should have the following. .

C - Remove Insulation
Once you have chiselled out your hole, your will likley see the insulation in the wall cavity, this can look like wool, polystyrene or it could be foil coated.

If it is wooly (as pictured) poke it out of the way. If polystyrene or foil backed foam, you will need to cut a circular piece. I did this from outside. I like working outside!

D - Check Holes Line Up

When you are looking through the hole, there is likley to be a strong draft blowing dust etc.through it. It will slow you down if you have any eye full of fibreglass so don't get too close. 

E - Install Ducting
Next tap through you rigid duct. It may not go through first time, you may nee to get the old hammer and chisel out again to remove extra bits of masonry before it will slide through. When it is flush / parallel with the wall on in the inside, mark the pipe flush with the wall on the outside, and then slide it out a bit to cut with a saw. 

The rigid duct is now installed, first go inside and slide you tumble drier in to position, you can then reach through the pipe from the outside and pull the flexible duct in to your rigid duct. Then install the vent extract external cover.

F - Install External Vent Cover

Comments appreciated good or bad.

Environmental Consultants London

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Netgear WN3000RP Review

Netgear WN3000RP Review - Intro

There are a great many wifi range extenders on the market. If you are a fan of Netgear products (TP Link are a good alternative) then you may have come across the Netgear WN3000RP.

Summary: A good quality piece of equipment that performs well once setup, but let down by a very glitchy user interface.

Netgear WN3000RP Review - The Good

This small booster will work as a range booster or an access point. Quick explanation:

Booster: Picks up a wireless signal using aerials attached and fires it back out again at increased "strength".

Access Point: Allow access to a wired network. You could route a wired network through the WN3000RP so at to provide wireless access to that network.

I have used both features at two different houses and they work well . . .  once setup. The wireless access point I am running at the moment take ethernet from a powerline adaptor, and spews forth internet goodness in to our home.  This enable me to keep the router near the broadband source, and have an access point where we actually use wireless devices.

Because the WN3000RP allows access to our wider home network, it also allows us to use network printers and other back resources that are sited 100 meters from the house in my office.

The signal strength will pass through a 18" or 40cm thick stone wall. Although it is a little weak. In our old house which was built from concrete blocks the coverage was strong throughout the whole house.

Netgear WN3000RP Review - The Bad

Because the aerials are on the side it takes up too much room when using a multi-socket, so that is a bit annoying.

Netgear WN3000RP Review - The Ugly

The setup process is trying. In order to set this thing up you connect to it over wireless and then log in using the default password etc. As soon as you change any of the settings you are disconnected which you would expect. However, half the time when you do finally manage to re-connect you will find no progress has been made.

Choosing a SSID (Wireless Network Name) other then the one suggested creates all sorts of problems, so best avoided for you own sanity. All in all very frustrating. It could be that all range extenders are like this, it is the only one I have every had.

Environmental Consultants London

Friday, 13 October 2017

How Many Tons can You Shovel by Hand in 1 Hour / 1 Day

How Many Tons can You Shovel by Hand in 1 Hour or 1 Day

This is a quick note to say how many tons a fit healthy strong(ish) person can shovel in 1 day if properly motivated.

Recently I received 16 metric tons (16,000kgs) of crushed lime stone delivered tipped out of a lorry in to a heap. I manged to load this in to wheel barrows with a normal shovel during 7 hours of shovelling.

This would give an approx rate of 2 tons per hour, with a short walk included to empty the wheelbarrow. A few notes from this example:

  • The Gravel was Easy to Shovel (30mm max gravel size) 
  • The gravel was spread over a 30 meter long drive way.
  • I am a well fed, 90kg bloke who keeps fit.
  • You can shovel 16 tons in one day.

I am not sure if I could have repeated this the following day! But I dare say you would get used to the work after a couple of weeks!

I worked as hard as this for my own benefit, it was stressful and I was exhausted afterwards. I would not expect one of my employees to move the same amount.