Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)

What a week for solar activity. TWO large CMEs were hurled at the Earth. This is very unusual. During solar activity maximums, such as we have now, there are about 3/week but rarely aimed at the Earth.

These were not record busters by any means but enough to alter the Earth’s magnetosphere. And being only two days apart, the second one hit while the effects of the first one was still being felt.

#1 “launched” on the 19th and arrived the 22nd. From SpaceWeather for that day:

Arriving a little later than expected, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetic field at 0617 UT on Jan. 22nd. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the impact strongly compressed Earth’s magnetic field and briefly exposed satellites in geosynchronous orbit to solar wind plasma. Shifting lines of magnetic force induced strong ground currents in Norway

This got my attention! We use Hughes.net for our internet access via a satellite 22,000 miles away. Hughes.net was bought by EchoStar in 2011 and they have a “fleet” of 15 satellites. If the CME damages “our” satellite, we will lose internet access until it is either repaired or a technician re-aims us to another satellite.

We saw little effect on our internet or TV reception (Dish Network, also by satellite).

The second CME hit on the 24th; from SpaceWeather:

As expected, a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field on Jan. 24th at approximately 1500 UT (10 am EST). The impact produced a G1-class geomagnetic storm and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle.

It usually takes a week fro the magnetoshere to recover so this one-two punch had more effect than either alone.

A view from Sweden.

And even an agency in Colorado even had a role to play.

It was a big day at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder because the scientists there once again nailed a forecast, accurately predicting not only the arrival time of the big plasma ball, give or take 30 minutes, but also the relatively modest impact.

Lots more at the Denver Post.

More on historical big CMEs from these sources:

Thursday, September 1, 1859, a 500 year event

March 13, 1989 which caused the Canadian power outage.

Water House Wiring

This is really boring to most people so I suggest you skip over to Pogo or FaceBook. Or read a blog. Lol. (All links safe for work!)

I worked on the outlet wiring in the Water House Thursday afternoon. It went from this

to this.

And it only took two redesigns and one rewiring to complete! Lol. Yeah, it is in service but needs some covers to be “complete”.

The first problem was my discovery of the GFCI in the little dangly box below the large switch box. I had forgotten I installed it many years ago! I considered leaving it there but finally moved it to the existing box. But that meant five wires in the 1/2″ conduit between the junction box and that outlet box: 2 white, 2 black, and a green. One set of B/W “in” and a set “out” so all the outlets on the wall would be protected. I wanted to mount the GFCI on the junction box but I had bought a box that didn’t allow outlets to be mounted. Onward.

I only had one conduit curve so reused the piece of Romex which is functional but tacky. Some day it may get replaced with conduit and individual wires. Or not.

I had begun connecting the wires in the junction box when I realized I had to connect the right blacks and whites for the downstream outlets to be protected. Then it dawned on me all the terminals on the GFCI were not the same! I had just landed them randomly and had no idea which wire was which! So a major undo as I disconnected all the wires from the GFCI!

So I had to do both ends of each wire as I connected it to the GFCI so I would know which was in and which was out (“line” and “load” as they were called on the back of the GFCI)(If I had had two more colors of wire, I wouldn’t have been so constrained.). The biggest problem was the stiff 12 gauge wire but they were already bent making the redo easier. By the time I got all the wires landed, I was pretty much done! In several senses; I was worn out but had had to finish so there would be power in the WH and water for the night.

So I asked Donna to turn the power back on and I would watch for any excitement. Nothing, which was good. Then I plugged in a flood light to test. Still nothing, which was bad! I asked her to turn it back off assuming a wirenut connection was not right.

That was when she discovered she had turned on the wrong breaker! We have another 220 breaker that used to go to the A/C and attic fan neither of which we have now. When she turned the breaker to the Water House on, the light came on! I was so relieved! The GFCI manually test tripped and reset and all the outlets worked. Success.

I began plugging stuff back in. The yellow cord goes to the small freezer; the white cord goes to the patio lights; the tan cord is for the water line heat tape.

And some of the stuff got moved to the new outlets: the heat lamp timer and my work flood. I will be putting the electric heater in service shortly since the NWS is forecasting a HIGH of 35 Tuesday! Plus each of the treatment column controllers have transformers for their power.

So I went from 5 outlets to 12. And 8 of them are claimed already! Now “all” I need to do is plumbing.

Our Kitchen Oulet

Last July, my coffeemaker quit working. I quickly realized it was the upper wall outlet that was the problem. I figured what the heck; I will pull the old duplex outlet out and replace it. It is under the window so maybe it got “watered” sometime.

That was when I realized our outlets did not have the little screw to hold the face plate on them! I had never noticed nor I had to remove one! But Donna knew even though she didn’t recall it!

When she painted my bedroom, she removed the faceplate by snapping it off the box. This is a modular home so there are some differences from standard practices. Also being perpendicular is optional! (The dirt on the wall is from the dog turning around and lying down between my bed and the wall. It is impossible to keep clean.)

So I popped the cover off and revealed a thing I had never seen.

The wires enter this box and when the back is pressed in place, they are crimped through the insulation for a connection. Quick and dirty. Only one of the wires had become disconnected on one outlet. I tried to press it back in place and reinstall the box. It didn’t work; one of the tabs that hold the box chewed through the sheetrock and it protruded. But it did work! I was in a hurry and put electrical tape to cover the crack.

Half-assed but I would need to buy a finish electrical box to do it right. Eventually I got the box but, since it was working, this project got postponed. Until my coffeemaker quit working again! Messing with my morning coffee is a motivator! Lol.

I found the extra outlets and faceplates and prepared to do battle. When I picked up the outlet to begin, birdseed fell out of the outlet! Apparently a mouse decided this was what the ground port was for! We store a lot of stuff in an area outdoors but out of the weather! We live with nature. 🙂

Actually, I was hoping it would be easy. Wrong. The kitchen is wired with #12 wire which is a bit stiff and uncooperative! While struggling with installing the new box and outlet, I realized the old and the new outlets were rated for 15 amps. According to electrical code, a kitchen circuit must be rated for 20 amps, hence the #12 wire. But a 15 amp outlet is designed for #14 wire, much smaller in diameter! And easier to bend. No wonder the outlet quit working since the two cables coming in made a sharp bend to connect. And to enter the new box.

So I struggled to make the connections but finally prevailed, given enough large tools! Lol. And forced it back into the wall!

Now it looks like an electrical box with an outlet instead of just an outlet stuck in the wall. Yeah, it is a little crooked from those cables pulling the box and outlet sideways but close enough for who it’s for!

The torn sheetrock paper looks bad. Maybe we will paint it white or something but that can’t be helped. This is the only outlet in the house (so far) that has a faceplate screw!

And it works! I can get my morning coffee without messing around with plugs!