Monday, August 22, 2016

DIY Arizona Scorpion Pest Control

I moved to Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona area a couple years ago from the midwest and found a whole new group of creatures. The one that bothered my wife the most was scorpions. The day we moved into our house we found one lonely scorpion limping alone the baseboard in our living room. She freaked out a bit and I went to the internet to find a Do It Yourself (DIY) way to kill scorpions. Online I also found out that Arizona is home to the pretty nasty bark scorpions.

First we bought a LED UV flashlight so we could easily see them. We used it to find scorpions at night and figure out where they may hide or nest nearby. It also was a fun "hunting" exercise for our nephews. Thankfully we only found a few scorpions on our property and weren't infested.

LED UV Flashlight Ultraviolet Black Light Flashlight - Inexpensive aluminum LED UV flashlight from Amazon. Just remember to by the 3AAA batteries for it.

Backpack Sprayer Chapin 61800 4-Gallon ProSeries Backpack Sprayer - Great backpack sprayer that makes mixing and applying these chemicals easy. I use it for all my spraying chores around the yard. Any pump up sprayer would work also.

I did a lot of reading on the internet about how to what chemicals are recommended to kill scorpions. There seemed to be two types of chemicals that were effective. I decided to use both and alternate one every other month. To get around our 2700 sq ft house and 3 car garage, I need about 1.5 to 2 gallons of insecticide.
Demand CS for SCorpion Pest Control
CS Spray #1 Demand CS Scorpion Insecticide -8 oz (odd months of the year) ~$30

  • Mixed 1.5 gallons to 36 ml of Demand CS in the backpack sprayer
  • This spray dries invisible and works well on scorpions (and other bugs) for a period of time. I spray it in a 2 ft band around the foundation, around the walls of the garage, around windows and doors, also inside under appliances and under sinks and in some large stone landscaping where we saw a couple with the UV flashlight.


Cyper Wettable Powder for Scorpion Pest ControlWP Spray #2 Cyper WP (Wettable Powder) Scopion Insecticide -1 lb (even months of the year) ~$64
  • Mix up 2 gallons - 4 scoops of WP in the backpack sprayer
  • I use this residual insecticide mainly outside and it will leave a white residue on dark surfaces. Sometime this is nice to see how long it lasts and where it is sprayed. I spray it in a 2 ft band around the foundation, around the walls of the garage, around windows and doors and in some large stone landscaping where we saw a couple with the UV flashlight.
Since we have been doing this for almost 2 years we have not seen any more scorpions in the house. The couple that we saw outside have also gone to zero. Another nice plus is we don't see any other bugs around our pool and patio worth mentioning.

Summary:
It takes about 30 minutes once a month, and about $75 in chemicals a year to get DIY scorpion pest control at our house. I need to buy the 8 oz CS product once a year and a 1 lb container of the WP should last 2 years.The price really went up on Cyper WP, so next time I may use Cyper WSP (understanding is they are the same chemical makeup).

References:
http://www.desertusa.com/insects/scorpion.html - General scopion information article
http://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/scorpions.htm - Good article on overview of pest control
http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/cyper-wp-p-228.htm - Good information on Wetable Powders and how they work
http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/demand-cs-p-46.html - Good information on Demand CS and how it works

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Utility Schedule Options - Honeywell RTH9580WF Thermostat

It seems Honeywell added some new features with a recent update to the RTH9580WF WiFi thermostat. One new feature is called Utility Schedule Options. I looked on their website and found no information on it, so I decided to put together this blog post and a quick video.

The feature allows people to take advantage of special time of day pricing programs offered by Electric utility companies. I did this in the past by setting up my schedule, but essentially lost 2 programs steps setting it up. The new menu item is under "preferences" under main "menu" (Menu>Preferences>Utility Schedule Options>On).


The video walkthough of Utility Schedule Options setup, I shot walks through the setup. It also gives an idea of the different options you can set (up to 4 different breaks and active on different days). The thermostats then uses the temperature limits you set on top of the regular programming steps. After setup the thermostat displays "Peak pricing" or "Non peak pricing" on the main display.




Here in Arizona this was the perfect thermostat for SRP's EZ-3 Price Plan. This plan says that you will reduce electric consumption during a 3 hour window Monday through Friday. I believe a lot of other utility companies have similar "time of use" savings plans to encourage homeowners to reduce power usage during times of peak demand. In exchange you get lower electric rates. My savings are about $300 a year - and using this new feature of the Honeywell RTH9580WF was easy to setup.

The only disadvantage that I saw is this setup isn't vising in the mobile app or web interface right now. You need to set this up on the thermostat itself and can't modify it remotely. This may change with future updates.

If you ever have the pricing notifications showing up on the screen, just go and turn off the "Utility Schedule Options". Press Menu>Preferences>Utility Schedule Options>Off to get rid of the extra prompt, if you're not using it -or haven't set it up yet.

You can buy the thermostat at the link below from Amazon like I did. I do get a small affiliate fee if you use this link:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Honeywell RTH9580WF Thermostat - Waiting for Update Deep Dive

I'm still having issues with the Honeywell wifi thermostat (RTH9580WF) displaying "waiting for update" on when the wifi is routed through my proxy server, so I decided to do a deep dive into what the thermostat is doing when it's getting the weather updates.

I also wanted to better understand how to trace traffic on my network.

Here's what I learned about the thermostats weather updates system by tracing the communication between the thermostat and servers. Currently:
I got this information by tracing the packets to and from the thermostat using the command:
tcpdump -i eth2 -n src 192.168.20.191 and port 80 or dst 192.168.20.191 -w Honeywell.pcap

I then inspected the file using tcpdump
tcpdump -qns 0 -A -r Honeywell.pcap

Below is the relevant request and the responses from the Honeywell server pulled for the tcpdump log when the squid cache wasn't enabled:

GET /WeatherAPIProd/api/weather/current?appKey=b9db7a3d469892e8&language=en-us&locationKey=36691_PC HTTP/1.0 

10:56:12.019826 IP 104.209.185.251.80 > 192.168.20.191.30934: tcp 458
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: no-cache
Pragma: no-cache
Content-Length: 180
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Expires: -1
Server: Microsoft-IIS/8.5
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2015 17:56:11 GMT
Connection: close

{
  "currentWeather": {
    "dateTime": "2015-12-13T10:20:00-07:00",
    "weatherIcon": 1,
    "iconText": "Sunny",
    "temperature": 8.1,
    "relativeHumidity": 68
  }
}

GET /WeatherAPIProd/api/weather/forecasts/hourly/12hour?appKey=b9db7a3d469892e8&language=en-us&locationKey=36691_PC HTTP/1.0 

10:56:12.254178 IP 104.209.185.251.80 >192.168.20.191.30935: tcp 1460
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: no-cache
Pragma: no-cache
Content-Length: 2228
Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
Expires: -1
Server: Microsoft-IIS/8.5
X-AspNet-Version: 4.0.30319
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2015 17:56:11 GMT
Connection: close

{
  "forecastWeather": [
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T11:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 9.9,
      "relativeHumidity": 49
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T12:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 11.6,
      "relativeHumidity": 43
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T13:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 12.5,
      "relativeHumidity": 37
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T14:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 13.3,
      "relativeHumidity": 33
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T15:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 13.7,
      "relativeHumidity": 31
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T16:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 13.2,
      "relativeHumidity": 32
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T17:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 2,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly sunny",
      "temperature": 12.2,
      "relativeHumidity": 35
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T18:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 34,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly clear",
      "temperature": 10.7,
      "relativeHumidity": 42
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T19:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 34,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly clear",
      "temperature": 9.1,
      "relativeHumidity": 51
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T20:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 34,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly clear",
      "temperature": 7.5,
      "relativeHumidity": 59
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T21:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 34,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly clear",
      "temperature": 6.2,
      "relativeHumidity": 67
    },
    {
      "dateTime": "2015-12-13T22:00:00-07:00",
      "weatherIcon": 34,
      "iconPhrase": "Mostly clear",
      "temperature": 5.7,
      "relativeHumidity": 75
    }
  ]
}

When the traffic is routed through the squid cache here is what the request and response looks like:

GET /WeatherAPIProd/api/weather/current?appKey=b9db7a3d469892e8&language=en-us&locationKey=36691_PC HTTP/1.0 

11:26:11.876659 IP 104.209.185.251.80 > 192.168.20.191.30938: tcp 770
HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request
Server: squid/3.5.11
Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2015 18:26:11 GMT
Content-Type: text/html;charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 2356
X-Squid-Error: ERR_INVALID_REQ 0
Vary: Accept-Language
Content-Language: en
X-Cache: MISS from trebacz-smoothwall
Via: 1.1 trebacz-smoothwall (squid/3.5.11)
Connection: close
ERROR

The requested URL could not be retrieved

Invalid Request error was encountered while trying to process the request:
GET /WeatherAPIProd/api/weather/current?appKey=b9db7a3d469892e8&language=en-us&locationKey=36691_PC HTTP/1.0 

Some possible problems are:


  • Missing or unknown request method.
  • Missing URL.
  • Missing HTTP Identifier (HTTP/1.0).
  • Request is too large.
  • Content-Length missing for POST or PUT requests.
  • Illegal character in hostname; underscores are not allowed.
  • HTTP/1.1 Expect: feature is being asked from an HTTP/1.0 software.


  • Still not exactly sure what is causing squid to puke on the request, but I understand a lot better what is going on behind the scenes and learned a lot about tcpdump on Linux.

    Resources:
    http://blog.trebacz.com/2014/12/outdoor-temperature-waiting-for-update-honeywell-wifi-hermostat-RTH9580WF.html - Original Problem Post

    Monday, December 7, 2015

    Update Arpwatch ethercodes.dat file from IEEE source

    I was noticing that many of the Arpwatch notification messages coming back were marked "unknown" for the manufacturer name in the MAC address lookup. I looked at the date of the file in my Ubuntu file system and it was last updated in 2012. Arpwatch uses this file to determine the manufacturer name for a given MAC address prefix.

    I found a script at this blog post which looked quite promising. A few simple transformations of the file downloaded direct from IEEE, updates from the comments on the blogpost and it was ready to go. I added in the lines to copy the files to the correct locations in Ubuntu's implementation of Arpwatch.

    Here is the updated script:

    Here are the basic steps and commands to do it on a terminal session.

    1.Create the script using nano (copy and paste the script above) into a file called update_mac_addresses and then run it.
    nano ~/update_mac_addresses.sh

    2. Make it executable
    chmod +x ~/update_mac_addresses.sh

    3. Execute the script. Sudo is only needed to on the last step to copy to updated files to the right place in the files system.
    sudo ./update_mac_addresses.sh


    Resources:
    http://jhjessup.blogspot.com/2010/04/update-mac-address-manufacturer-tables.html

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015

    Quick and Easy Linux Internal Network Speedtest

    I found a quick and easy way to setup a way to test network speed on my internal network using the linux command line tool netcat (or nc), I used this for node to node testing of my wireless network under a variety of conditions. It required no extra tools or software to be installed on my Ubuntu linux machines. It gives me transmit speeds I can understand and easily allows me to size the payload to the type of network I'm testing.

    Put the first machine in listening mode (this example machine 192.168.0.188):
    nc -lk 2112 >/dev/null

    Put the second machine in transmit mode to send packets to first machine 192.168.0.188:
    dd if=/dev/zero bs=16000 count=6250 | nc -v 192.168.0.188 2112

    The first part of the command tells the machine to copy 100 MB of data from /dev/zero in 16 KB blocks. The part after the pipe tells it to send that to the first machine (192.168.0.188) over port 2112.

    The output for this test on the second machine returns:

    Connection to 192.168.0.188 2112 port [tcp/*] succeeded! 
    6250+0 records in 
    6250+0 records out 
    100000000 bytes (100 MB) copied, 8.38876 s, 11.9 MB/s

    Essentially we sent 100MB of data from one machine to the other at a speed of 11.9 MB/second.

    When done with the tests, end the listening mode on the first machine by pressing CTRL-C.

    Hope this helps you out I thought it was really cool and addapted ewhat I found at this link:
    http://tuxtweaks.com/2014/11/linux-network-speed-test/

    Saturday, August 15, 2015

    Dell Optiplex 755 Upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 - Won't sleep

    I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my Dell Optiplex 755 USFF music PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The idea of a free upgrade with smaller disk footprint and better security was just too good too pass up. The upgrade went pretty smoothly until about two weeks later.

    At first everything seemed to work wonderfully. Then I started to be unable to wake the Dell Optiplex without a reboot. There were also some weird chimes coming from the speakers when the computer was unable to be wakened. The hard drive was working, so it appeared the computer never actually made it to sleep mode. Especially annoying, since this PC provided our streaming music on our patio.

    I even went through a complete Windows 10 OS reinstall, to see if that would help. No avail. I tried turning hybrid sleep mode on or off. I applied a BIOS upgrade from Dell. I looked though the event logging and found nothing out of the ordinary.

    Currently, I have disable sleep altogether and resorted to mapping my sleep button to the ancient hibernate mode until Microsoft or Dell sorts this out.

    UPDATE: Turns out the final solution was to change the settings on USB. Start|Settings|Power & sleep|Additional power settings|Change when the computer sleeps|Change advanced power settings|USB settings|USB selective suspend settings set the setting to "Disabled". After this change sleep seems to work as it should on Windows 10 on the Dell Optiplex 745...

    Sunday, June 28, 2015

    Swimming Pool Chemistry - First Time Pool Owner

    We bought a new house in Fountain Hills, AZ. With the hot weather in the summer it just seemed to make sense. Being the science guy I really wanted to understand why all this pool chemistry stuff seemed so complicated. I'm a DIY guy and a scientist, so how hard can this stuff really be.


    The 4 main DIY tools to maintain my swimming pool chemistry and water clarity are:


    My friend Bill

    He's had pools in Arizona for many year, but not sure how to franchise his knowledge, so most of you can skip this one.


    Trouble Free Pools website

    http://www.troublefreepool.com - great website with real information on pool chemistry and how simple it really is. I now effectively maintain my pool myself with Walmart bleach (sidum hypochlorite and water), Muratic acid.

    When filling the pool I added Cyanuric acid as a Chlorine stabilizer and Borax as a buffer/mild anti algaecide.

    Now "knowing" my pool, It's a couple cups of bleach every morning and some acid on the weekends. Water temperature has the biggest effect on Chlorine usage here in Arizona.

    Read the 123-abc-of-pool-water-chemistry article at Trouble Free Pools and you'll get to the same place.


    Good wet chemistry test kit

    http://tftestkits.net - Cost effective test kit for pool water, let's me understand the makeup of my pool. I do a quick free temperature, chlorine and pH test 2-3 times a week and a deep test once a month.


    Pool Pal android app

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.plb.pool&hl=en All the tests and maintenance are kept track of in this app.

    1. Download the app to your smartphone (iOS or Android)
    2. Put in your pool size once
    3. Put in the concentration of chemicals you use (% acid and % sodium hypochlorite)
    4. Regular test results and the app will tell you how much chemical to add

    I also use the app to keep track of my regular maintenance actives (chemicals, filter maintenance, etc) on the pool. You can easily export the data anytime to get a view of your pool maintenance activities over time.

    If your a new pool owner, I hope these tools help you understand how simple pool chemistry can be. If you want to maintain your own pool it's not a big deal, if you get the the right information the first time. Here is my profile information at Trouble Free Pools, so you can see I'm a regular guy - http://www.troublefreepool.com/members/79914-Trebacz.