Monday, September 21, 2020

Keeping My Cool

 So when I moved in here the little knob for the fridge water filter thing was broken, and left behind by the previous owners. I glued it back together and shoved it back into service, but sadly it only lasted one filter before it broke again. Fail me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fail me -- you can't get failed again.

Naturally the only logical option is to 3d print a replacement, and that's exactly what I did.

I ended up splitting this print into two identical halves so I didn't have to worry about printing overhangs. Oddly enough I had a little bit of post-printing warping where the split line ended up bowing a little after removing the print from the printer. A little 120 grit post processing cleared up that issue right quick though, and I superglued both halves together.

I'd say it's a nice improvement over not having a knob.

Another item checked off the list.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Fresh Coat of Paint

 So the previous owners had a dog that they liked to keep in the garage for whatever reason. Dogs being dogs, it didn't like being cooped up in there and clawed at any opening it could to try to get out. This resulted in a fair bit of damage to both the door leading outside (which is a writeoff thanks to both the dog damage and just general rot and neglect) and the door leading into the house.

I had previously repainted in the inside half of the door leading into the house, just so I could contain the ugliness to the less trafficked side of the world, while I mulled over the option of either replacing the door or fixing the other side.

This weekend I finally got around to fixing the other side.

Step 1: forget to take a "before" picture.

Oops. I thought I'd taken a picture of that side of the door before that I could reuse, but apparently I never did.

Step 2: chisel out the damaged section of plywood veneer.

The dog had managed to claw its way through two plys of the plywood, so I scored along the edges of the damage and chiseled away the remains down to a flat base of reasonably solid wood.

Step 3: glue in a conveniently perfectly sized piece of veneer sliced from a 2x4.

So a few weeks ago when I was replacing my broken bandsaw blade and tires I made some test cuts by slicing some 1/16"-ish veneer slabs out of a scrap piece of crappy 2x4. Fast forward to today and it just so happens that one of those pieces is the perfect size and thickness to exactly fill the space left after chiseling away the damaged plywood. Weird how that works out sometimes.

At this point I had also given the door a bit of a sanding. I was hoping to possibly sand smooth the places where the paint had chipped out but the sanding didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped so I opted to fill the chips and scratches and other damage with wood filler.

Step 4: the wood filler.

I ended up doing two coats of wood filler. Initially I had only filled the big divots, but upon reflection I decided that if I was going to go to all this work I might as well go all in, so I sanded, applied a second coat, then sanded everything down smooth.

Step 5: the paint.

It took three coats of paint to cover the grimy "white" that the door was blessed with previously. I had a lot of difficulty fighting sags in the paint, and ended up having to do a fair bit of sanding after coat 2 to get things reasonably smooth before applying coat 3. I also thinned the paint a little for coat 3 which helped me smooth on just the thinnest possible coat of paint. The end result isn't really perfect, but it's good enough and a huge improvement over what I started out with.

I still need to replace the trim, but that's a project for another day.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Panopticon

 I finally got around to figuring a few things out for my front door monitor this week. It involved a little frustration and hair-pulling and yelling at whoever keeps screwing up the entire concept of web development so badly. You know, the usual stuff. But at the end of it all...

It is, at least, a start.

And yes, the clocks are set wrong for some reason, I think the time zones got messed up.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Don't Breathe That

Hmm, it's almost like there's been a bunch of pollution in the air recently. I wonder what could be causing it?

In semi-related news I finally got around to washing the PedoVan.

This might be the first time I've ever washed the roof. I didn't own a ladder tall enough to reach up there back when I lived in an apartment, and I don't specifically recall washing it after I moved here. It may have been washed once or twice when I took it in for an oil change, but I honestly have no way of knowing.

It's a bit of a silly exercise of course, it's not like anyone ever sees the top of it. Also yes, the Bay Area is still on Mars today. I think we're supposed to get teleported back to earth sometime over the weekend.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A Lot of Zeros

 I decided that since the heat wake broke I'd take a quick trip down to Monterey to pick up some oil and a filter for Gregg. Why Monterey? Because it's not here.

So I saddled up on Orthrus and headed down. Despite the 40c+ temperatures earlier this week I actually felt a little chilled with my textile pants and mesh jacket. Probably should have opted for the textile jacket too. Wasn't too bad at least.

As I was pulling into Watsonville though, the odometer rolled over and I pulled over to take a quick snap:

I wasn't the one that put on most of those 40k miles, but I've added my fair share. Here's to the next 40000.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

More Cush for the Tush

 The sun is a deadly lazer and has taken its toll on the seat of Rabbit Season in the form of rather unfortunate UV breakdown.

This is not ideal.

But the good news is that a coworker just happened to be selling a similar model bike with this exact model of seat as a spare, and I was able to convince him to part out the spare seat for a sweet price.

Ah, much better.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

No Mountain Lions Were Harmed

 Since I had Friday off to begin my week of vacation time, I decided to start things off with a blast... through the hills, of course. The weather was pretty much perfect for a ride through the scrubby exposed hills of San Vicente, Calero and Cañada Del Oro. So I saddled up on Blackbirb and rolled out early in the morning.

I had initially planned to ride a shorter route and drag Tyler along, but he had some stuff to do so I went on my lonesome and completed a route that I had been intending to do back when I was devoured whole by a mountain lion a few months ago.

Specifically I wanted to get to the highest point on the Bald Peaks trail, which runs along a bit of a ridge line through Cañada Del Oro. As such it's a bit difficult when on the bike to tell which part is the peak, and on my previous ride I had gone out-and-back on the trail and it wasn't clear if I'd made it to that high point or not.

This time I did a loop that encompassed the high point, guaranteeing that I'd pass through it. Of course I wasn't starting at the base of the trail leading to that goal point, so I had some riding between here and there to cover.

Thankfully my legs are doing great these days and I had basically no trouble covering the distance. I even had a great time blasting up one of the really steep sections of trail that, in previous attempts, I'd had to stop part way up on. Even late in the ride my legs still felt like they could keep on going forever. I love this feeling.

Really, the only low point of the ride was accidentally dropping one of my energy chews in the dirt. RIP that energy chew.

If you were to ask me if the trail was dusty, I would say the answer would be "a tad".

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Just A Little Off The Top

 When I moved in the plum tree in the back yard was a mess. It was also inconveniently located relative to where I planned to rebuild the hantavirus shack, so I wasn't entirely too concerned about it. However, given that getting around to replacing the hantavirus shack is going to happen in its own time, I decided that I'd at least try to give the plum tree a hair cut and see if I could get it growing a bit lower towards the ground.

Well, there's less of it now, and it's less tall, but it's still not really as low as it should be. Ideally a fruit tree should be pruned to stay within fruit-plucking height, and this is quite a bit higher than that. Maybe it'll sprout some branches further down and I can lop off the stuff growing above it again? Dunno.

What I do know is that I definitely removed quite a bit of it.

The pile here is maybe 5x5ft and maybe 4ft high. It's fairly well compacted since I needed to chop up the branches fairly small to get through my side yard. I'm sure glad we have municipal yard waste pick-up here!

Unlimited Power

 Generator finally came in, and I got it assembled and filled with oil without any difficulties. I opted for an open frame generator since they're a bit cheaper and lighter for an equivalent power output at the cost of being a bit more noisy than one with more bodywork and sound absorbing panels. Even though this one is advertised as being relatively quiet, it sounded about as loud as I'd expect a generator to sound, but since I'll be using it primarily for emergency power here at home and not being That Guy at a campground the noise isn't really a big problem for me.

The open frame generators also don't come with wheels as standard, so I added the wheel-and-handle kit, and I also opted for the make-things-cozier-for-rats-to-hide-in generator cover so I could store it outside and keep the weather off it.

I also ordered a 10/3 30a extension cord that plugs into the RV socket on the generator, but I waited until it arrived before putting in that order to make sure I got the matching plug. In my case, that meant getting an L5-30P cord and an L5-30R-to-TT-30P adapter. Then I tossed on some of the usual suspect 5-30 12/3 extension cords so I could actually distribute the power throughout my house and not just a few feet from the inside of my garage door.

Eventually I'd like to build a small generator shed at the side of my house to put this generator in, and install a transfer switch to power a few circuits in the house directly, but space around my panel is a bit cramped so I'm going to wait until at least after (or simultaneously with) getting my HVAC upgraded so that I can shuffle things around to make room more easily.

Of course, that also depends on how frequently I need to use it. If I only need it once or twice a year I might not honestly bother with that, but on the other hand if I start needing it more like once a month I'll start looking into installing an actual whole-home backup generator in roughly this same space here. Time will tell.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Monday, August 24, 2020

It Really Sucks

 So my bandsaw is equipped from the factory with a dust collection port. I do not have a dust collector, which is a roughly fridge-sized box that takes 240v of electricity and turns it into noise with the side effect of sucking dust and chips out of whatever's attached to its 4 inch pipes Absent this dust collection, the bandsaw has a tendency to produce a cloud of fine wood dust when sawing that then covers every surface in the shop, much to my annoyance.

But while I do not have a dust collector, I do have a shop vac. While this also turns electricity into noise, it does so at a much slower rate, only sucking in dust via a 1.75 inch inlet rather than the 4 inch inlet more characteristic of a proper dust collector. However, with that deficiency in mind, I decided to try to see if it would be useful to adapt the dust collection port on the bandsaw to the hose on the shop vac.

Enter: a plywood monstrosity.

This monstrosity was born into this world with a few deficiencies.

  1. The plywood it's constructed out of is kind of half rotted and water damaged and falling apart.
  2. The plywood it's constructed out of was never actually good in the first place.
  3. The 4 inch hole is tapered. This is because I cut it out with a jigsaw, and when you cut out curves with a jigsaw the blade deflects towards the outside of the curve while you're cutting.
  4. It's also just kinda ugly.
However, all those issues aside, the one thing it does do is actually work. I hooked up the shop vac and cut a few test boards and I was mightily impressed to find that pretty much all the dust got sucked up by the vacuum, despite its anemic relative performance when compared with a dust collector. I had initially hoped that it would at least collect the fine dust that tended to spread through the air a lot, but it even collected the heavier dust that usually settled around the base of the machine. Sweet.

That said, it still had issues, so to address those I did what I probably should have done in the first place and 3d printed an adapter out of black PETG.

The J-shaped cutout is to allow the bolt-and-threaded-insert to clamp down onto the outside of the dust collector port without causing stress risers in the plastic that might shatter it later. It also probably lets in a lot of air but if that becomes a problem I'll just slap some duct tape on it.

Long story short, I'm quite pleased with how this turned out and I expect that this'll make my use of this tool a lot more pleasant.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Early Re-Tirement

 A few weeks ago I was using my band saw to saw up some wood from the pallet that my new desk came on. For reasons I have yet to fully diagnose, the blade exploded on me during one of these cuts, a most unfortunate happening. I luckily had a different blade I could use to finish the cuts, though it was a thin, fine tooth blade mostly intended for making curved cuts in thinner material rather than the heavy duty ripping blade I had been using.

Anyway, I ordered a new ripping blade off the magical internet delivery machine and went to install it when I noticed that one of the tires on the bandsaw didn't look quite right.

That right there is what we in the industry would call gibbled, right and proper.

Luckily band saw tires are a consumable item so I ordered a replacement set off said same magical internet delivery machine and waited for their arrival. Then I waited for the weather to cool down enough so that I could install them. Then I finally got to installing them.

And wouldn't you know it, when I measured out the wheels I correctly noted that they're 14 inches in diameter and an inch wide, so when the internet showed me a half billion listings for 14x1 band saw tires I just hit the "buy" button and didn't give it a second thought. However, it turns out that Laguna, the manufacturers of my particular machine, saw fit to buck the trend and spec a 14x13/16 tire for their band saw. Lovely.

Thankfully it's easier to remove material than it is to put it back on, though in this case removing some high durability urethane that's designed to not be shredded to pieces by the band saw blade running over it hundreds of thousands of times was by no means easy. That said, I did manage it, and got the new tires installed without too much fuss.

As I understand it, the orange makes it go faster.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

More Ups, More Downs

 I took The Crimson Ghost on a ride through Santa Teresa County Park this morning. I had initially planned to do a figure-8 loop to catch the Rocky Ridge trail and the Stile Ranch trail, but due to the fact that STCP is a maze of twisty trails all different, I ended up taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque and getting all mixed up.

Basically what happened was I took a left up Mines trail near the beginning, which I thought was the way I wanted to go, but in fact I actually should have gone straight and passed the bottom of Rocky Ridge on my way to loop around to the top. As a result, when I finished the "loop" part of the ride, I found myself at the junction of Rocky Ridge trail and proceeded into it, not realizing I'd arrived at the bottom of the trail rather than the top.

I rode up for a while, occasionally thinking to myself "gosh, this trail would be fun to ride in the other direction" until I got to the top and checked my map, and realized that yes, indeed, it would have been much more fun to ride in the other direction.

Properly oriented now, I headed back down Rocky Ridge, through all the rocks along the ridge that had made the climb so slow and challenging.

When I got to the bottom I considered swinging up to catch Stile Ranch now that I knew where both it and I were in relation to each other, but the slow climb up Rocky Ridge had taken quite a bit out of me and the heat of the day was starting to set in, so I left that one for another day.

The good news is that both my new dropper post and the top tube bag did a great job of doing their respective jobs, and I had plenty of fun on the trail despite my occasionally unreliable sense of direction.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Cozy and Quiet

 One of the challenges of carrying tools and spares on the bike is figuring out where to fit them. The other challenge is keeping them from rattling around constantly and scuffing against each other. I wasn't satisfied with the arrangement I came up with on The Crimson Ghost so I got a tube strap and top tube bag to replace the pouch I had down near the bottom bracket that was interfering with where the bottle cage usually goes.

Of course with the pump and CO2 just loose in the top tube bag they would have rattled around like the dickens, so I stitched up some cozies for them out of some fleece I had left over from making my sound panels.

I left the edges of the flap square for the one with the pump and didn't really like how they looked, so I rounded them for the one for the CO2 cartridges. On the other hand I got the length spot on for the pump but ended up almost short for the CO2. But they both work so whatever. Blissful silence!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Drippy Edges

 Finally got around to picking up some drip edge from the Home Despot to finish up the roof repair I started a while back.

I would have preferred to nail it in from the top rather than the face, but with the shingles already in place I didn't really have a lot of options. The important thing is that the water coming off the shingles is going to go into the eavestrough rather than behind it, and a nail hole or two isn't really going to be an issue in that regard.

At some point when the roof needs redoing, hopefully not any time soon, the drip-edge can be installed properly once the old shingles are ripped off. But that's a tomorrow-problem, not a today-problem.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Incremental Upgrades

 Yesterday I took the bikes out to stretch their legs, and as I was kind of expecting Rabbit Season didn't have enough juice left in its poor battery to start. The battery is still the original from 2016 so it didn't owe me anything, and it had been going a little soft since the winter. I boosted it and rode it around anyway, but I decided it was time to just swap it out.

So swap it out I did; I nipped down to the battery store and got a replacement for both Rabbit Season and Scooty-Puff, opting to go lithium this time. I've been having good luck with the lithium battery in Orthrus so I figured it was worth a few extra pennies to keep the trend rolling. Plus they're way, waaaay lighter.

On the unpowered bike front, I swapped out the dropper seat post on The Crimson Ghost. The one it came with was a RaceFace Turbine, a model that was not known for its trouble-free operation. For me, it sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, and I got tired of trying to figure out what magic incantation would make it behave, so I just decided to do the simple thing and swap it out for a shiny new OneUp dropper.

The installation was nice and easy, and the new dropper works flawlessly. Let's hope it stays that way.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Dent in My Forehead

I am not a tall person by any measure, but nonetheless I have found that one too many times my head has contacted the chandelier in my bike area.

So I replaced it with something with a bit more clearance.

Naturally the wiring had been half-assed by the previous owner. Here's a list of boneheaded fuck-ups:

  1. No strain relief clamp on the new wires entering the box.
  2. Fixture ground wire left just swinging in the breeze, ground screw on fixture mounting bracket left completely untouched.
  3. White return wire from remote switch not marked with black electrical tape.
Anyway, I didn't think to pick up a strain relief clamp when I was out, and installing it would have meant crawling around in the attic, so I left that deficiency to fix at a later date.

In the meantime, I found an appropriate place to put the cheap, ugly chandelier.

Ups and Downs

Since I took the week off this week, I decided to start things out energetically by dragging BlackBirb, my XC bike, out to Mt Um to see if I could reach the top on dirt (I could), and then subsequently reach the top of Mt El Sombroso (I could not).


I did find out that the trail from the top of Barlow to Mt Um peak is really nicely made and a fun ride. If only Barlow weren't so awful...

More writeup and photos in the link above.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Chipping Away

Many moons ago I got a cheap Chinese backup camera. I'm not 100% sure where it came from, I think maybe Father picked it up on sale from Princess Auto and gave it to me for xmas one year. I never installed it on Jellybean, but after I got Pedovan and moved down south I finally got around to getting it all hooked up.

Things went ok for a year or two, but eventually the cheapness showed through, in the form of the lens cover on the camera fogging from UV exposure. So after ignoring it for a while I eventually ripped it out and threw it in the trash. Money well spent, that.

However, ripping it out left a little memory behind, in the form of the glue that the screen had mounted to the dashboard with.

I ignored that for a few years too, but today I finally got around to removing it. I initially tried using some vinegar (more on this later) to soften up the glue but it was hard and crusty enough that it didn't seem to be making much headway. I switched over to chipping it off with an x-acto chisel and cleaning off the remains with vinegar, and after a bit I managed to get it looking pretty much shiny and new.


So the vinegar. Initially I'd gone onto Amazon and ordered some highly concentrated cleaning vinegar, about 45% (regular vinegar is 5%). Some of the items showed up as not being able to ship to my location, but I found a listing that seemed ok and clicked the buy button. Then a day later I got an email saying that my package was undeliverable and refunded me. Great. Thanks, California, for banning vinegar of all things.

Anyway, with the concentrated stuff out of the question I decided to pick up a jug of the normal stuff at Safeway. I headed down the cleaning aisle and found a half gallon jug of 5% cleaning vinegar for about $4. That seemed a bit pricy, so I checked the next aisle over near the condiments and wouldn't you know it but I could get a whole gallon jug of food-grade 5% vinegar for... $4. Who the hell would buy cleaning vinegar, exactly the same stuff except not guaranteed to be food-safe, for twice as much? Absurd. But, now I have vinegar so all's well that ends well I guess.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Shiny and New

Pro tip: installing pre-painted mouldings and trim doesn't mean that you don't need to paint it.

The previous owner had a different opinion, apparently. A wrong opinion. They also put a giant sticker over the HVAC vent for some reason.

Anyway, since I'm spending a lot more time in my craft room lately I decided to paint all the trim and reorganize things a little. It's much nicer in there now.

Speaking of painted things...

The painted rocks that had been left in my front yard disappeared a month or two ago. I think someone might have stolen them? Either way, a new one appeared this week.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Illuminati Confirmed

Really cleaned up on indoor projects this weekend. Possibly because outdoors is sweaty death right now. Possibly.

The second bookcase is now illuminated to match the first. I had meant to get to this a while ago, but it was almost kind of nice having the project waiting for me to complete it. Like I could go into a weekend not really knowing what to do and think to myself "well, if I can't think of anything else to do, I could do the lighting on the second bookcase", but now I'll never have that ever again.

Truly completing this task has been a terrible misjudgement on my part.