Corbin's Treehouse - Corbin Dunn, Santa Cruz, CA
Plug Bug

How much money does my YouTube channel pull in?

I’ve wondered why my YouTube payments never show up in my Google Adsense payments. I finally realized that it is because they have never hit the $100 minimum threshold for payment issuing (ever!). I enabled ads on my videos starting in 2012; mainly just to see if I could make any money from it. I really don’t get enough video visitors to actually get anything; although I’m pretty close to the $100 minimum! Here is a screen grab of the estimated earnings and stats for each video I have with ads:

Screen Shot 2015 05 27 at 5 14 00 PM


I have gotten a few $100 payments from ads on my website; it pulls in about $80/year in ad revenue — which doesn’t quite cover the shared web hosting or domain registration fees.


Plug Bug: Transmission / motor removal in an electric conversion

I was still having trouble with my transmission. My last post talked about how I got it back in — this was months ago, in October 2014. I drove the car about 20 miles, and while coasting in 3rd downhill it made some bad grinding noises, so I put in the clutch (which didn’t stop the noises) and pulled over on the notoriously dangerous Highway 17 by Scotts Valley. The transmission was spewing oil everywhere! I had to get towed home. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, and I took the motor/transmission back out. Oil was everywhere in the clutch, and I had to clean it out really well with brake cleaner. It seems to have spewed into there from the “main shaft seal”. I had no choice but to mail it back to MOFOCO. It took a while, but the mechanic Roy Henning sent me this picture back:


I asked why this would happen and he said it may not have been filled with gear oil, or it was low on oil. I trust these guys; they have been doing bugs for longer than I’ve been alive, but I know I put a few quarts in it (I forget how much at this point – it was too long ago). But, I may not have filled it enough; I do recall filling it while it was on the jacks, and the instructions say to fill it when level. Maybe that was the problem…I don’t know.  He said he would fix it for free as a courtesy, but wasn’t happy about it. So, I offered to pay the shipping costs to help offset the difference. This ordeal made the transmission cost way more than it would have if I would have bought it local (but I did get to keep my old transmission — there was no core exchange required).

So, I waited for him to fix it. A few weeks go by, and I ask how it is going. He said it has been done for a while and was waiting for payment for shipping — however, I didn’t get any ship notification (I checked everything — spam folders, etc), and as soon as they sent the request for reals (via PayPay), I got it. So, I think they simply forgot to bill me. I got the transmission back in late December. When it wasn’t in the car, and I rotated it, it didn’t sound quite right; sort of a odd non smooth noise every now and again. But, I figured they knew what they were doing, and they said they did test drive it before they mailed it to me. 

The car had been sitting idle for a few months at this point, and I was frustrated with it. So, I had ordered another EV replacement for a while, and put the bug project “on pause”…this gave me less stress about getting it running again to have an EV to drive; I wanted a reliable car — even though the bug has been quite reliable, it still occasionally has “old car” problems that need to be dealt with (like the tranny, the brakes, and the steering).  I got the transmission back into the car in December on my break, and did a test drive the day before Christmas. After 45 miles, it was leaking a bit of oil again out of the drain hole from the flywheel. I feared it was going to have the same problem again. So, I emailed Roy at MOFOCO and he said he had no idea, but did offer to take a look at it again for free. At this point…I didn’t feel like dealing with it, and I just parked the car and drove my new EV.

Roll around to last week, and I decided to get it going again. The car sat for five months, and I missed driving it. If It wasn’t driven the batteries would just deteriorate over time, and I wanted to get use out of them. This time, I documented pulling the transmission, in case anyone else needs to do it sometime. The video is below, but be warned, it is 20+ minutes long!


One thing I had heard on The Samba was that it could be the main pilot bearing not seating right. That might cause excessive vibration, and cause the main seal to leak. It turns out my pilot bearing was pushed a bit far into the adapter, so I machined a little ring to push it out to what I think is the proper location. I’m hoping this fixes the problem…so I put it all back together.

So far, I’ve got about 120 miles on it this way. It is still leaking a tiny bit of oil….but I think I’ll ignore it for a while. It might be the main shaft seal was blown out, and not replaced. I’m just going to go with it as is and hope it is okay. It seems to drive pretty well again, but the transmission is still the noisiest part of the car.




Plug Bug Videos

I made a playlist of all the videos I have on YouTube to more easily find them. Here they are:

Unicycle handlebar: Inverted V

In my last unicycle handlebar experiment I did a simple T, slightly bent forward. This design was too close to my knees, didn’t feel very good on my hands, and felt a bit unstable.  I made a new handlebar with a slight inverted V, and a more forward position. I also put some comfy handlebar grips on them from REI, sort of similar to these ones from Amazon for $6. I think I paid more at REI, and next time I’ll get a set from Amazon as I can get free Prime shipping. Here are a few shots of the setup on my V 36 unicycle.

IMG 3744

IMG 3745

The V has some extra cuts and re-welds, as I experimented with different forward positions. I settled on pretty far away and up high enough so my knees have plenty of clearance. This also makes for quite a comfortable riding position! I like it a lot. So far I have about 50 or 60 miles on this setup. My first setup was giving me some hand and wrist pain. This has been super comfy with zero riding pain (so far!).

It is hard to get a good feeling for it from the pictures, so here’s a walk around video:



Photography: House in Nepal

House in Nepal, Himalayas

UW1A8047 48 49 50 51 tonemapped

Nepal. April 2015. 5 exposure HDR Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm lens. No tripod; supported on the edge of something.

HDR image made with Photmatix. Buy it on Amazon: Photomatix Pro 5 on an Apple iMac.

Downloading WordPress Content – “Maximum execution time of 30 seconds” error

I occasionally want to download all my blog posts from WordPress. This is easy to do in the web config – go to Tools -> Export and “Download Export File”.

Screen Shot 2015 05 09 at 6 41 16 AM

The download would max out at about 8 MB and just stop, probably because I have a relatively slow connection at home. I’d get a fatal error at the end of the file:

Fatal error:  Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in... on line ...

To fix this, I need to change the “max_execution_time=30″  to something higher (like 500), and then lower it back down to make sure the server doesn’t do something bad (timeouts are good for general blog work!).

I use dreamhost, and here is how to set the value in the PHP.ini:

Note that the best way to find what PHP you are running is to login and do a “ps aux” to see what PHP processes are actually running. My dream host page says I was running 5.4, but apparently I’m stuck on 5.3!

Portable solar panels

I do a lot of adventures. My last adventure was unicycling the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. I wasn’t planning on having a lot of access to electricity, so I wanted to get a portable solar panel for the trip.  I’ll share my notes and research in case you are looking to do the same.


  • 12 volt output (for my DSLR batteries)
  • Minimum 5 watt output (7 watts or more ideal)
  • Fairly durable
  • Ideally regulated voltage (but not essential)
  • Ideally waterproof, or weather resistant
  • Some type of battery system would be nice
  • Optional: USB outputs
  • The lighter the better
  • The cheaper the better

I bought the Goal Zero Guide 10 Solar Panel Kit — in the end, I decided on this one because I could buy it in person at REI and use a 20% off coupon and dividends to make it really affordable. Several of my friends on my Nepal trip also had Goal Zero panels and we could chain them together (I did this once — so, that wasn’t all that useful of a feature). The Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel (which is what is in the kit) is small enough to strap to my camelback and ride with it on – this worked out quite well to charge my phone while riding. I found the USB battery pack was essential for charging it; otherwise it wouldn’t work all that well directly off the panel. The battery stabilized the power output. 12 volt charging of my DSLR batteries didn’t work all that well; I needed a lot of direct sun, and a lot of time to do it. Instead, I found power outlets to top them off (and bought two spare Wasabi power 5d battery packs)

Monocystalline vs Thin Film cells: Thin film seem to be much better suited for indirect sunlight, and are usually really light weight for the same wattage as monocyrstalline. However, they require at least twice the surface area! For deploying while riding, this won’t work. But for deploying while stationary, that is totally fine.

 My research led me to the following:



Nomad7 pdp 1500x1000 black and camo1

Goal Zero Guide 10 Solar Panel Kit (What I bought)

  • $111 on Amazon — Amazon prime shipping (a plus!)
  • 7 watt solar panel
  • Guide 10 battery pack — 11Wh, with 4 replaceable AAs. Can charge AAAs too! This is an added bonus for me
  • Nomad 7 panel size:  9 x 1.5 x 17 in (22.9 x 3.8 x 43.2 cm)
  • Nomad 7 weight: 0.8 lbs (363 g)
  • Monocystalline cells (relatively heavier, but smaller surface area)

 Notes: Small in size, but heavy. Could easily be strapped to my backpack.





PowerFilm R-7 Rollable Solar Panel Charge

  •  $132 on Amazon – has Amazon Prime shipping
  • 7 watts
  • no battery
  • 368.3 mm / 14.5 inches Length: 584.2 mm / 23 inches
  • Weight: 0.27 kg / 0.6 lbs
  • Waterproof, rollable to a small size
Notes: This one would probably be better at charging my DSLR off 12 volt, but I would also have to buy a 12 volt USB charger to charge my iPhone. And no battery backup, for a higher price!



PowerFilm 5W F15-300N Foldable Solar Charger

  • $112 on Amazon, also has Prime
  • 5 watts (a little on the lower side)
  • no battery
  • not waterproof (I think that would be fine…do you really want to charge stuff when it is raining?)
  • 6 onces / .17 kg (very light!!)
  • Folds to a very small size
  • I think it’s output is unregulated; so you need a 12v to <something> adapter that regulates the charging
Notes: There is a cheaper PowerFilm USB that would work nicely if you don’t need 12 volts. 

  • $94 (plus shipping) – available on Go Green solar or California PC  Couldn’t find on Amazon.
  • 6.5 watt (15v at 433mA)
  • Unfolded: 9” x 29” (229 mm x 736 mm), Folded: 9” x 5” (229 mm x 127 mm) (small!)
  • Weight: 7 oz (198 gm) (very light!)

Notes: This is what I would have gotten if I had more time. I would have tested it and gotten some 12V USB chargers, and a small lithium battery (and charger) to go with it. I just didn’t have time, and in the end, my Goal Zero was cheaper with the coupon at REI.

I was going to pair it with a Voltaic battery system

 Others: – looks good, $112, but I wasn’t sure about it..and about getting it in time for my trip. The voltaic systems ones look MUCH cheaper than goal zero, and more power or more storage.



Repairing a “Stuck Brush” error on Neato XV-11 Vacuum

I have a Neato XV-11 Vacuum that I bought quite a few years ago when it first came out. The initial version had quite a few glitches and bugs, and I had it replaced a few times within the first few years. Neato is a great company in how they support their product, and they offered free shipping and returns of the vacuum. I really liked this kind of top notch support.

The XV-11 is now superseded by the Neato XV-12 and costs around $270 on Amazon (you can also find it on Ebay). Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the vacuum as it does a great job. I’d probably buy it again, as it seems better than the competition (mainly Roomba).

However, it does have problems. The XV-11 needs its batteries to be replaced every one to two years; this isn’t difficult, but they are expensive. You can easily buy and replace the batteries: XV-11 batteries — about $30 to $50 each, but it adds up to the costs of owning the machine. It also tends to loose its set time every time the battery goes completely dead; this is annoying, and I stopped using the pre-programmed cleaning feature because of this. I hope the XV-12 fixes that problem.

Another bigger problem is a “stuck brush” error that may come up constantly, even with a good cleaning of hair and gunk from the vacuum bottom. The only sure way I found to fix this is to take the machine apart and clean the motor.

IMG 3672

It isn’t too hard to take it apart. Flip it upside down and first remove the springs on the wheels; otherwise, they pop off. Then take the front bumper screws off, and all the screws on the bottom. Flip it over (right side up) and take off the two screws by the suction intake hole and it should come up and off.  Don’t pull off the LCD wire! You can remove it from the circuit board by pulling up the circuit board insert and removing the wire (but be careful). The motor is held in by a few more screws (three if I recall right), and comes out. 

The motor gets a ton of hair stuck around it and inside the rotor. I just cut it out with a sharp exacto and pull the hair out with tweezers. Then re-assemble and it will work again. 

IMG 3673

Feel free to email me questions! corbin at corbinstreehouse. 

Website statistics

Here are my website statistics:

I just ran across SeeTheStats — a site that imports Google Analytics data and turns it into some cool graphs that anyone can see. I’m hoping to slowly grow visitor growth on my blog by providing some sort of useful content. 

Here’s a screen grab of my current stats today:


Photography: Himalayas



Nepal. April 2015. Taken from the air. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm lens. No tripod; supported on the edge of something.

For cool HDR images, use Photmatix!. Buy it on Amazon: Photomatix Pro 5 on an Apple iMac.

(c) 2008-2015 Corbin Dunn

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