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Mapping your wifi network

In my earlier blog post about powerline networks, I noted that our wifi range extender didn't seem to work in our extension. I haven't been sure. In theory, using Wifi Protected Setup (WPS), the extender had the same wifi name and password so I couldn't tell whether our wifi devices were connected to the extender or the wifi router/base station.

On a rainy ANZAC Day I thought I'd look for an app to help me map my wifi network. Within seconds I came across the Telstra Wi-Fi Maximiser app.

This app enables you to import or sketch a floor plan, then take spot readings of your wifi network. It then turns those into a heat map.

In the example below, after marking the location of our 'gateway' (commonly called a wifi router), each target spot shows where I took readings inside and outside the house.


This map shows our second floor, with the gateway on the ground floor.


The plans made it clear that there are network coverage issues in our living room and on our first …
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How to install a new garden tap for your vegetable garden

The day before the turf for our lawn was laid, I used a trenching shovel to quickly dig a trench from our existing tap on the back wall of the house, to the edge of our raised vegetable patches.


I laid a length of 25mm blue line PE pipe ("poly-pipe") and back filled the trench. I fitted a right angle elbow fitting to either end, with a short length sticking in the air, clear of the soil, so the line wouldn't become blocked.

During summer, our gardening efforts were focused on establishing the new lawn, so we didn't plant any vegetables.  Then last weekend, about six months after we laid the lawn, I completed the garden tap after speaking to a plumber about my options for connecting the pipe to the water supply.

In the end I took the easy and cheaper DIY option. At Bunnings I bought the tap fittings for the garden end, and quickly screwed it together.  A star dropper and some cable ties provide temporary support until I put in place a more substantial post.


The other …

Valve cosy for hotter water and energy savings

During the week I was lucky enough to be given a sample Valve Cosy.

A valve cosy is an energy saving and safety device that covers to hot water outlet from a hot water heater.

Where the hot water pipe leaves the heater is a point where energy is lost from the heater.  This means cooler water in your taps, and the hot water heater has to run for longer to reach the right temperature. Well, that's the theory anyhow.


The Valve Cosy itself is hard plastic, with a polystyrene type lining and foam around the pipe holes.

 It took about one minute to read the instructions and clip the cosy around the heater outlet.  The outlet is hot, supporting the claims about energy loss. The official page on their effectiveness shows that they appear to contain heat energy within the insulated cosy.

However, I noticed that the cosy easily moves - in my case it isn't a tight fit against the hot water heater. To me, that suggests its effectiveness is reducing energy loss from within the heater is mi…

Finishing the lawn

Through winter we endured muddy boot and paw prints through the house, and a mud covered verandah due to the pile of top soil and weedy back garden. it helped us make up our minds about finishing the lawn.


Ned Bailey of Desertscapes by Design again came to the rescue and did the hard lifting.  Following from liberal poisoning of the old lawn and weeds, a few weeks later the huge pile of topsoil was spread by hand across the whole back garden.

Ned used treated pine to form garden borders and to make a walkway along the backwall of the house. The treated pine forms an easy, neat border, that you can easily run a line trimmer along.  Eventually we plan to have bamboo along the whole backfence, to screen out the presence of single story medium density units.

 I'd also installed pine sleepers around the edges of the deck, enabling Ned to raise the garden to deck level. The sleepers were held in place with steel retaining uprights, available from Bunnings.

For the lawn, I selected Palme…

Powerline networking for more reliable Internet

For years we've been using wifi throughout the house.  Our 'Fritz! Box 7390' provides dual band wifi for most of the house, with some poor reception in the furthest parts of our extension.  I'm pretty certain the deadspots are because of the number of walls and presence of steel work and cables within them that interfere with reception.

With four people in our house, there's huge amounts of Netflix and YouTube viewing as well as gaming,

Periodically we've had bad connections. Our (now ageing) Samsung TV was perhaps the most frustrating, frequently losing its dongle wifi connection and having a frustrating process of re-establishing it. That includes entering the wifi network name and password using the TV remote - a job no-one could enjoy.

We didn't cable the house for data when we extended it, which is something I regret. At the time I though wifi would be good enough. That was a short-sighted decision.

When we had a section of floor repaired, I used the o…

Building a verandah

Following from the completion of our pool, we decided to build a verandah so as to have a covered area overlooking the pool.  Because of the size of the area, a plan and design details need to be prepared for approval by a building inspector.

It took several months for the preparation of the drawings and approval, although this was more related to the workload of our chosen designer. A constraint on the size was, again, the presence of a sewage easement along our back boundary, and an inspection point.

With tight backyard access, our landscaper excavated the foundation by hand.  This resulted in a mountain of top soil in our backyard.

During construction, the building inspector had to sign-off at certain stages. For example, each post hole had to be deep enough and have enough space for the concrete to form an appropriate footing. To help reduce the cost, I finished digging some of the post holes and cleared them of falling sand before the inspector arrived. His only suggestion was to…

Finished pool

With the pool completely filled came a lesson from the pool company on how to operate the equipment. There was a lot to remember and you should take notes so as to remember what everything does. There's at least a one inch high stack of instruction books to go with the equipment.

We're absolutely overjoyed with the pool and surrounds, seen here through our dining room window.



We just need to sort out that back fence, and stain the bench seat along the side fence.

The first evening we gave the pool lights a workout. They can change colours using a remote control.

With completion comes regular cleaning. In the first weeks the pool has to be completely brushed every day for the first week, then every second day for the second week, every third day for the third week, then once in the fourth week.  In that period it is manually dosed with liquid chlorine each day. This is to brush off any mineral deposits on the finish, and it helps bring out the blue in the Quartzon.

In our case,…