Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Batteries Not Included

So I've been enjoying my indoor/outdoor temp/humidity sensor for a while.

But a key problem has been keeping the batteries topped up so that the LCD display doesn't go all dim and washed out. It naturally takes two AAA batteries and those don't hold a lot of juice.

So eventually I got tired of recharging the batteries every 2-3 weeks and decided to take slightly more drastic measures.

That ain't gonna run out for a while.

Buying Time

A man with a watch always knows what time it is.

A man with two watches is never quite sure.

My old Seiko (blue face) was starting to go soft in the capacitor and wasn't holding a kinetic charge like it used to. I bought it used back in 2010 after destroying my previous watch falling off my longboard, so I figured it didn't owe me anything more. Into the drawer it goes, replaced by something newer and shinier.

My wrist has never felt so bling. It's also never felt so cozy, since I actually adjusted the strap on this one to fit correctly. No more loose, floppy watch!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Dirt Rockets

The seedlings have finally graduated. I decided enough was enough and it was time for them to either move out or start paying rent, so move out they did.

Some of them got stuck in pots, the bigger ones mostly. The rest got shoved in the ground up atop the retaining wall (no pictures). I also stuck some in the pot out front that has something else growing in it. No idea what that something else is but I guess I'll find out soon enough.

All told I got about 30 seedlings out of the tray of 50. The other ones? Some might say they were the lucky ones, free from the burden of living in a world hurtling inexorably towards catastrophic climate change.

To be fair I don't expect some of the ones I stuck in the ground to survive. Anything that basically looked alive-ish got planted, and some of them were a bit more unalive than the ones pictured in the pots above. I'm not out much if they don't make it though, I'll probably be seeding up a second tray to fill in the rest of the retaining wall soon enough.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Now With 33% Less Hantavirus

Took a stab at disassembling some of the hantavirus shed today.

It's coming along ok. I'm not sure if all the rot and termites are making things easier or harder. It's nice that the wood weighs so much less and falls apart in my hands, but on the other hand it'd be nice to have something solid to get some leverage against sometimes.

Got my garbage can stuffed with about half the debris so far. Gonna send out the other half next week then pull down the remains of the remaining plywood on the walls, then probably pull off the OSB from the roof (which is relatively new material and I'll probably save).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

There and Back and There and Back Again

This week hosted a bit of a personal achievement for me: for the first time in basically ever, I climbed a hill on my bike, rode back down, and climbed it again. Doing repeats like this is something that isn't unfamiliar for most cyclists, but throughout all my riding I'd been treating hills as enough of an achievement on their own to not tempt fate doing them twice in a row in the same ride. If I needed more challenge, I'd just find a bigger, steeper climb.

That said, on some level I knew I really should get into the habit of doing repeats, since they're a great way to get in a variable-length workout while still pushing yourself. Rather than committing beforehand to climb a certain route, I could just pick a short, tough climb and go out and ride it as many times as I needed to wear myself out, whether that be two, five, or 35 times, and I'd get the time spent on the descent to recover between repeats.

Here's what it looked like.

This weekend I also put some miles in on Blackbirb since it'd been a while since I got dusty. Nothing spectacular to report, though I'm happy to say that the downtube pouch I installed performed flawlessly. I did overestimate how cool it would be riding first thing in the morning, and I probably could have done to just wear my usual kit rather than adding the wind breaker, winter gloves and thermal cap. No harm done though, it was still fun.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


So for a while now I've had a mild annoyance with crows digging around in the mulch and pulling up my grass in search of grubs. There's not really much I can do about it except hope they eat their fill and decimate the grub population so for the most part it hasn't been all that concerning.

However, over the past week or so I've been putting my seedling tray outside during the day to get more sunlight on it, and, well...

Fucking feathery shitheads destroyed three of the cells. Luckily the rest of the tray is undamaged but I really didn't need this setback. I've been having a hard enough time as it is getting these seedlings to grow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

It Slices, It Dices

It probably even makes julienne fries, though I wouldn't recommend it.

Long story short: my free saw arrived today. Yay!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

There's more than one way to do it

I like to keep a minimal patch kit on every bike I ride, or at least the ones I ride any distance away from home (so the BMX gets a pass). At one point I'd been using an under-saddle bag to hold these goodies, but over time it got old and faded and it never really held things securely and rattle-free. So given that, I decided to explore different options and ended up with 3 different solutions for 3 different bikes.

First up: Purple Haze.

The tool roll under the saddle is perhaps the most classic solution for road bikes, and so I bought 3 different tool rolls to test out which one I liked the most. I'm glad I got more than one as they seem to be of highly variable design quality.

One was from SKS, which is a fairly highly regarded european cycling accessories brand. The tool roll was, somewhat curiously, designed to fit under the handlebars rather than the saddle, and despite its fairly large size it was incapable of holding even a bare essential set of tools before becoming too bulky to properly roll up. Total fail.

I had more success with the Lezyne tool roll, as you can see from its place securely strapped under the saddle. However, it too suffered from a mild lack of space, and I wasn't able to include a CO2 inflator without the roll getting too bulky. Luckily I run fairly low pressures on this bike so it's not too difficult to pump up by hand. (You can see the purple mini-pump just behind the bottle cage on the down tube)

So with that bike down, it's on to the next: Blackbirb.

For this bike, an under-saddle solution wasn't a good option as the motion of the dropper post would put the tool roll/pouch/bag/whatever too close to the rear tire when the saddle was in the low position. For a while I was running a small frame bag that I designed and sewed myself, but there were a few features I wasn't happy with (mostly that it didn't mount tightly enough to not rattle against the frame) that lead me to the thought of either taking another shot at designing a new one, or going for an off-the-shelf solution. The latter won out and I got this Dakine down tube pouch.

That's not to say that the pouch was without its own flaws. The designers had intended for it to hold a pair of CO2 canisters, a MTB-sized tube, and some tire levers stuffed in the elastic sides. I personally have no use for tire levers, and instead opted to put a multi-tool in the elastic sides, but since a multi-tool is bulkier and heavier than a set of tire levers it seemed likely that it would slip out the open bottom of the elastic strap. Thankfully the strap was close enough to the bottom edge of the pouch that I could just stitch the two together, and now my multi-tool is safe and sound and well restrained.

This all came together to make a nice solution for my mountain bike, but due to road bikes being a bit more slender it wouldn't work on my third bike: Dirty Dozen.

When I bought the tool rolls, I actually bought three of them all at once to decide which pleased me the most. The Lezyne was good enough to stick on Purple Haze, the SKS was a bit of a dud, and this final one, a Camelbak, did the best job of holding a full set of roadside repair tools (multi-tool, tube, patch kit, CO2 inflator). The downside of this one, however, was that it didn't have a proper strap to hold it to the underside of the saddle, so I decided to try out a standalone downtube strap (in this case a "Granite Rockstrap") for securing the tool roll.

At first I tried strapping it under the saddle and it worked ok-ish there, but the buckle that held the tool roll closed kept the strap a bit off center and it was difficult to position it in the perfect spot. So I did a little experimenting and found that just under the down tube was the perfect position for it (above the downtube between the pedals wasn't an option as the tool roll was slightly too wide and would interfere with the chainrings).

Barring some unforeseen mishaps with these solutions, I think I'm pretty sorted for on-bike storage at this point. Now I just need to find the time to actually go out riding...

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Pale Reflection of Former Glories

Or maybe it's just a lighted, magnifying mirror. One of the two. I'm at home sick with a mild cold today so I decided to install this mirror I got off Amazon to cover a little patch of chipped paint on the wall.

Can't see that chip anymore!

A battery powered version (and there are many available) might have had a slightly cleaner installation, but given I almost never plug anything in to the outlet here I figured having a cord draped across the wall a little ways was a fair tradeoff for never having to change batteries.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Two-gang Done Right

Wiring multiple outlets in a single box? Save yourself some time and headache with a little advance preparation.

A little bit more power

In my pursuit of juicing up my server to act as my security camera processing box, I decided to pop in an upgraded video card. In theory, if everything goes to plan, this should allow me to encode video and run image processing and ML algorithms much more efficiently than trying to do it on the CPU.

Of course, what I didn't count on when ordering the video card is that it would be too long to fit into the existing case, and that furthermore I would need a new power supply with the right connectors for the auxiliary power inputs on it. Cue another trip to Amazon and...

Now my server is much larger. It's quite nice having so much space inside to work on stuff, for the rare occasions that I'll be digging around in there to work on stuff. The important part is that the RTX2070 card fits inside with room to spare.

Amusingly I went for a 1kw power supply just for the sake of making damn sure I'd have enough dancing pixies to keep the magic smoke contained, and after powering the system on and checking the display on my UPS, I'm only using about 100w at idle. I think I've got a little headroom left over.

Now I just have to get all the software to actually talk with the video card. Also peel off the protective plastic once I shove it into its final location in my crafts room.