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Old TV with antennaA while back I wrote an article on how to negotiate a lower rate with Time Warner cable. For years I was paying the introductory rate of $90 per month for cable, high speed internet and unlimited phone service. After reviewing my options, I decided to take it one step further and eliminate my cable bill all together by switching to free streaming video. As for phone service, I discovered Ooma Telo which deserves an entire review of its own at a later time.

So I am down to a 15 mbps internet connection for $35 per month in addition to $4 per month for my Ooma phone service. The new change cut my already low bill down to just under $40 per month, an annual savings of $600 per year in addition to the $840 I was already saving by negotiating a deal with the cable company each year.

How is life without cable television? Since I rarely watch TV the transition was not bad at first. Fox news, local news, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and AMC (Breaking Bad) were officially off limits in a traditional sense. In order to keep my wife happy I connected my desktop computer to the big screen via HDMI and an adapter so that she could stream The Bachelor and we would stream bootlegged episodes of Breaking Bad. A few months went by and we both started to feel out of touch with the world mainly because our sole source of news came from an occasional internet visit to our favorite main stream media website.

While venturing around town last weekend we came across a gentleman at our local flea market who was selling his recreational vehicle. With ample time to spend we decided to hop in for a cheap thrill. While exploring his RV I noticed a small 21″ or so HDTV mounted at the front of the vehicle. It was turned on, broadcasting an amazing crystal clear football game in high definition. I had to ask “It must be a challenge to aim your satellite every time you move your RV?” I was absolutely astounded by his response: “Nope, just air TV”.

I returned home and immediately begun to search for all the information that I could find on broadcast television. Antenna WebTv Fool, and the FCC all proved to be resources with an abundance of information. What I found was that I could potentially receive 20 channels including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, PBS, and 14 others with a simple indoor antenna! Granted, 2 of these channels were in Spanish and one was the Home Shopping Network. Nonetheless, 17 free solid channels sounded good to me.

The common misconception surrounding Air TV

bad reception tvI must admit, my perception of air television dates back to the mid to late 1980’s when at some point we somehow survived with rabbit ears featuring a set of antenna boosters (balled up aluminum foil placed on the tips of the antenna). Reception was hit or miss depending on many factors including the weather, the direction of the antenna and even how close you were sitting in comparison to the TV. On the average day we could pick up 2-3 clear channels at best and an additional 3-4 which were snowy and faded in and out. I can recall propping my toes up against the antenna in order to finish watching a slowly fading episode of Scooby-Doo as a child.

Up until a week ago this was how I viewed air television. After witnessing the pristine picture last week that broadcast television delivered I decided that it was time to give air TV a second chance.

Choosing the best “Hi-def” air TV antenna

I was determined to replicate the quality picture that I saw on that small TV last week so I set out on a journey to find the best “Hi-def” tv antenna that was available. It turns out that there is no such thing. Attaching the phrase “hi-def” to any antenna is merely a marketing gimmick. Your television delivers the high definition, not the antenna.

At this point I had to decide – Do I want an indoor, outdoor, or attic mounted antenna? The general consensus is that a high mounted outdoor antenna provides the most channels and best reception. I had little interest in fishing a wire through the wall, up through the roof and mounting an antenna. Not to mention, I would be the talk of the neighborhood and once the HOA Nazis caught wind of my radical actions they would soon surround my house, bearing pitchforks and torches.

$8 RCA antenna from Ebay

An attic mounted antenna was my next option. It was a higher up and discrete alternative to the roof mount. After looking into this, I discovered that an attic mounted unit could possibly draw in 2 additional channels – neither channel was of interest to me so I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. The last choice was an indoor antenna which appeared to be the best fit for me.

Knowing this, I picked up an $8 RCA Indoor Passive Digital/Analog antenna on Ebay. You know the infamous 2 dipoles and round loop setup. The reviews on Amazon were okay so I figured that I had little to lose at this price. After making my big purchase I continued to read up on air television. Soon I begun to notice that several blogs and forums were referencing a homemade clothes hanger antenna. I mean, how effective can this really be?

The clothes hanger antenna
Clothes hanger antenna cost less than $5 to build

Clothes hanger antenna cost less than $5 to build

While awaiting the arrival of my cheap RCA antenna I decided to build one of these primitive makeshift antennas. The design was simple and required only a few basic tools and the following materials:

  • 2.5′ or so long board
  • 6 clothes hangers
  • 10 wood screws or drywall screws
  • 10 washers
  • 1 Uhf/Vhf transformer
  • 1 piece of cable wire used to connect antenna to your tv or digital converter box

I actually had all materials laying around the house with the exception of the Uhf/Vhf transformer. These can be purchased at Lowe’s or Radio Shack. As usual, “The Shack” was asking more than twice the average retail price so I picked one up at Lowe’s.

Using the video below, I created my own homemade clothes hanger antenna.

Putting my antenna to the test

The antenna was built and my hopes were high. I connected the antenna to my High Def Tv which came equipped with a digital tuner. With the antenna positioned upright on the floor next to the TV I allowed the auto channel finder an opportunity to work its magic.

A minute goes by. Two channels found, four, seven…. Another minute. Ten, fourteen, seventeen, twenty channels found. And now the moment of truth.

I start to flip through the channels and what did I find? All 20 are coming in crystal clear, most in HD! The picture quality is better than ever received from the cable company. Absolutely amazing to say the least. Here are a few photos of the picture that I saw. Unfortunately these pictures do not serve justice.

air tv 16 air tv 15 air tv 14 air tv 13 air tv 12 air tv 11 air tv 10 air tv 8 air tv 7 air tv 6 air tv 4 air tv 3 air tv 2 Air tv 1

 

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How to rekey a kwikset doorlock or deadbolt

Whether you are a landlord, new homeowner, or just need to rekey several lock for whatever reason, learning how to rekey a lock cylinder can save you both time and money. I recently purchased a property and needed to change out 12 lock cylinders for security reasons. All of the existing lock sets were in fairly good condition so spending a couple hundred dollars for replacements did not seem like such a great idea.

A local locksmith wanted $10 per lock to key them and then I remembered that Lowe’s will do them for $5 each. Off to Lowe’s I went with a bag full of old doorknobs and deadbolts. As I laid the large sack of knobs on the counter top the clerk quickly exclaimed “we are not locksmiths” before I could get a word out of my mouth. He said that they provided this rekeying services to those who purchase new locks and want them all keyed the same. He further explained that the internal components will often corrode and rust, rendering them unusable once taken apart.  I suppose I understand their point of view as their associate would spend a couple hours working on these locks and may possibly destroy one or more of them in the process. It was clear that they were not interested in this job so I moved on.

This kit can be purchased from Amazon or Ebay for around $60

This kit can be purchased from Amazon or Ebay for around $60

While driving home it was evident that I had to make a decision – either pay $120 to have a locksmith do the work or learn a skill that I will be able to use over and over while saving a bit of cash. The decision was obvious so I set out on a journey to learn a new skill. After a bit of research, I got online a purchased a rekeying kit. The kit that I purchased was $60 upfront but I justified the cost, knowing that I will never have to pay a locksmith again or wait for one to arrive. This kit comes with everything needed including including 200 pins, the follower, lock opening tools, and several other bells and whistles. My kit arrived in a few days and I was in business.



Kwikset vs Schlage

Schlage on left, Kwikset on right. Note key top difference at top and different shaft thickness.

Schlage on left, Kwikset on right. Note key top difference at top and different shaft thickness.

Before you get started, it is important to understand the difference between a Kwikset style lock and a schlage lock. Both are styles are commonly sold in the US and on any given house, the installed locks could be one, the other, or a combination of both. This picture shows a clear difference between the two. Also, the Schlage will often have the word “Schlage” stamped at the top. Take a minute to examine your current keys and determine which one your home has.

The process that I am about to describe works for the Kwikset locks only. A Schlage key will not fit into a kwikset cylinder and vice versa. Because of this, it is impossible to key the two the same. Two different manufactures, 2 different style keys. Here is some more information on the difference between the two if you are interested.

Rekeying locks all the same

Your rekeying set has arrived and you are ready to get started. Here are the steps that you need to know in order to successfully rekey your existing locks.

Use the pickle fork to rotate the spindle so that the notch at the bottom is in the straight forward position.

Use the pickle fork to rotate the spindle so that the notch at the bottom is in the straight forward position.

Insert a pickle fork under the spring and push up.

Insert a pickle fork under the spring and push up.

Use your fingers, or a pair of pliers if necessary,  to remove the center spindle after depressing the spring.

Use your fingers, or a pair of pliers if necessary, to remove the center spindle after depressing the spring.

Insert wide end of pickle fork into spindle hole

Insert wide end of pickle fork into spindle hole

Turn knob over and lightly tap bottom of pickle fork against the workbench. Cylinder should pop out.

Turn knob over and lightly tap bottom of pickle fork against the workbench. Cylinder should pop out.

This is what the lock cylinder looks like once removed.

This is what the lock cylinder looks like once removed.

Remove the plug retainer e clip using one end of pickle fork. Work it back and forth until it comes out.

Remove the plug retainer e clip using one end of pickle fork. Work it back and forth until it comes out.

Insert the key and turn slightly to one side. Use large follower tool to push the plug out. Your lock pins will likely drop out. Don't worry.

Insert the key and turn slightly to one side. 
Used large follower tool to push the plug out. Your lock pins will likely drop out. Don’t worry.

Use the provided feeler gauge to decode new key to be used. Kwikset keys have 5 notches, each one corresponding to a pin number.  Write down 5 digit number.

Use the provided feeler gauge to decode new key to be used. Kwikset keys have 5 notches, each one corresponding to a pin number. Write down 5 digit number.

 

Using your code, choose the corresponding pins and drop them into the slots. Note, old pins must first be removed by turning upside down.

Using your code, choose the corresponding pins and drop them into the slots. Note, old pins must first be removed by turning upside down.

Once the plug is reloaded with new pins, insert the key. Pins should be completely flush with the plug surface. If not, check for error.

Once the plug is reloaded with new pins, insert the key. Pins should be completely flush with the plug surface. If not, check for error.

 

Reinsert pug at slight angle into lock cylinder while pushing out follower plug.  Assemble entire lock in reverse order.

Reinsert pug at slight angle into lock cylinder while pushing out follower plug.
Assemble entire lock in reverse order.

What if I do not have a key for my old lock?

remove master pin cover with small screwdriver

remove master pin cover with small screwdriver

If you do not have an existing key you can still rekey the lock. It involved an extra step which is to remove the master pin cover.

This cover is located at the top of the lock cylinder. Simply use a small screwdriver to pop it off. Inside you will find a spring in each slot and a master pin underneath. Dump out all pins by turning upside down. Your lock cylinder plug should now slide out freely from the housing. After you have rekeyed the plug, insert plug at angle and replace master pins followed by springs and the master pin cover.

I didn’t remove the cylinder plug properly, all of my pins and springs flew out. Now what?

No worries. Once you are ready to put your lock cylinder back together, simply remove master pin retainer and replace pins and springs as described in section above.

How do I rekey a deadbolt

Rekeying a deadbolt is actually a much easier process. The keying process is exactly the same except you do not have to remove the spindle and knob to access the cylinder plug. Simply start by removing the exposed e-clip and follow the instructions above exactly the same.

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Satin Gloss car wax review – Does it really work?

There are quite possibly thousands of car wax products on the market today and for every one that has survived, dozens have failed soon after being launched.

Satin gloss wax is made by a company that has been in business for 18 years now and seems to have stood the test of time. It is produced and bottled in the small town of Weaverville, NC just outside of Asheville by Matt Chemical Company. Matt chemical is owned and operated by Michael Matthews. When you call the number on their website to order, Michael is almost always the one who answers the phone, signaling this to be a fairly small operation. But don’t let the size of this operation fool you.

Several years ago my father-in-law introduced me to this product and I have been hooked ever since. He orders a case (12) every few years has it shipped to his house in Pennsylvania. He has a 1997 Dodge truck that has maintained its showroom finish for years now using only the Satin Gloss wax.

What makes this product so great? Well, there are several reasons but for many it breaks down to ease of application, longevity, and value.

Applying the wax

Unlike most waxes, this one is easy to apply and easy to take off. It has somewhat of a pleasant petroleum smell that will give you a  buzz if used in an un-ventilated area. After washing your vehicle, simply apply the wax with a cloth using a back and forth motion. It is not necessary or recommended to use the circular application method that most of us are use to. Simply put some on a rag and apply it to the vehicles surface. Since this is a heat activated product, it is okay to apply it in direct sunlight when temperatures are above 60 degrees F.

After applying the wax, give it a few minutes to dry. Drying time will vary depending on temperature, sunlight exposure and humidity. Once dry, wipe off with a clean microfiber towel in the same manner that it was applied – back and forth. That’s it! The wax is easy to remove and is fairly forgiving if accidentally applied to molding. In addition to waxing the painted surface, I like to also wax the windshield so that water just rolls off while driving.

How long does Satin Gloss last?

The bottle claims that you should use the product every 6 month to maintain “a showroom shine” but as with any other product your mileage may vary. My vehicles are not garage kept and are driven on a daily basis. Under these conditions the wax may last 3-4 months. Under ideal conditions, garage kept -rarely driven, you will get six months or more between applications.  Overall, I would say that this product last slightly longer than most other products on the market.

How much does it cost?

The retail price of a bottle is $29.95 which may seem like a lot of money for a bottle of car wax. Fortunately, you can buy this wax by the case for much less. Currently, it sells for $130 for 12 bottles plus the cost of shipping. Michael gives you a fair shipping price and does not gouge his customers. With shipping charges, you are looking at around $150 per case or $12.50 per bottle. The bottles are a rather large 32 FL oz. A 16 oz bottle of other premium car wax  costs about $7,  placing Satin Gloss in line with similar products on the market. As for the rate of application, very little wax is needed to cover a mid size vehicle. One bottle should last you several years if applied 2-3 times per years. Overall, it is a great value when purchased by the case.

Satin Gloss – about the product

Satin Gloss car wax

Overall, I give this product 4.5 our of 5 stars.

Why 4.5 out of 5?

This product loses 1/2 a star because it is difficult to get a hold of at a reasonable price unless you purchase a case. Aside from availability, it outperforms any wax product that I have ever used. When finished, there is no messy wax powder left behind and the shine is unbelievable. The manufacture stands behind their product with a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee.  Even at full retail price I would still consider it a good buy for any car enthusiast who wants to spend more time behind the wheel driving and less bent over the hood of their car waxing it.

Is it a carnauba wax?

The manufacture claims that “Waxes are made of 100% carnauba wax for maximum protection”. If you are serious about wax, you know that using a carnauba wax based product is  one of the best ways to protect your automotive finish. Carnauba is made from the leaves of the Copernicia prunifera palm which is refined and used for a variety of applications including furniture polishes, food, cosmetics and a number of other products.

Other uses

This product has a variety of other uses besides being used as a wax for cars.

  • Use it to remove light oxidation, tree sap, bugs, paint overspray, tar and other contaminates. Simply apply a thick layer over the desired area and let sit. After it sits for a while (do not allow to dry) work the area until the contaminates disappear. I have found that as a contaminate remover, it is best used in the shade with higher humidity to prevent drying.
  • Can be used to remove fiberglass oxidation, boat docking marks, and algae growth. It also claims to remove motor home black marks. While I have never tried using it for these applications, I wouldn’t doubt its effectiveness based on the accuracy of other claims that have been tested.
  • Use it to polish metals in your home such as faucets. It works well on most metals including silver, brass and aluminum. It can also be used in the home to remove soap scum.

Where can I get this pink mysterious liquid glory?

Pick up a bottle or case of this product directly from Michael at satingloss.com. He takes all major credit cards and even Paypal. According to his website, he has people selling his product nation wide at the retail level. Give him a call and ask if there are any retailers nearby that carry his product.

How are you affiliated with this company?

I’m not at all. I simply have been using this product for a few years now and thought it would be a great topic to write on.

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