Finishing up Celtic Kraken leather notebook cover

Once the leather was cut, I had to square up the rough cut.  Then the design went on pretty fast. After that, the cutting and tooling was long and methodical.

 

End result, I like!

Front coverInside


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French Drain finally done

The drain is done! Hallelujah. Total cost DIY plus some labor of about $1800. Had to rent a jackhammer to deepen the drain and the water pipe channel in the back yard by 4-6″.  Once the ditch was dug, we ran a garden hose to it and filled it with water to check the level, making sure it drained. Once confirmed, we lined it with landscape cloth, put in the plastic french drain pipe withe perforations, then the gravel, then a layer of landscape cloth over it. Then 3″ of gravel again and the paving stones over it. This all leaves the 8″ before you reach floor level in the house.

 

Connecting drain to water runoff pipe. The drain collects it, the runoff pipe takes it away from house.

Connecting drain to water runoff pipe. The drain collects it, the runoff pipe takes it away from house. The pipe isn’t connected yet in the photo.

Under best practices I would have used a white perforated pipe for the French drain pipe, to make it easier to clean-out in 10-20 years. But the previous contractor already had the corrugated black one, so it was reused. Plus, the ideal gravel is supposed to be 3/4″ diameter, and I had 2-3″ gravel which could be used for a French drain without the pipe itself. So basically I have two drains in play.

French Drain done! WIth paving stones so wheelbarrows can navigate atop it.

French Drain done! With paving stones in middle so wheelbarrows can navigate atop it.

The paving stones we laid on top were about $1.50/sq ft which is more than I pay for tile, but the wife had a good point, we needed to roll wheelbarrows along it. The 2-3″ gravel is an ankle twister to walk over, a wheelbarrow is worse.

The connection from a 4″ French drain pipe to a 2″ PVC pipe was done using a drain grate box of 4″ to 4″ then a 4×3″ adapter and a 3×2″ adapter as you see in the picture.

I leveled out the runoff line to drain the French drain, and realized that once I put in the PVC pipe, if I fill in the ditch with 2″ gravel, I can drain the yard there as well. The space between the outside of the pipe and the ditch is the annulus and so I call it the annulus drain.  So the pipe takes water away from the side of the house, and the annulus gravel drain takes it from the low part of the yard.

Runoff line in place with gravel by it to make a annulus drain as a bonus. Where the large standing paving stone slabs are is where we get standing water after a rain.

Runoff line in place with gravel by it to make a annulus drain as a bonus. Where the large standing paving stone slabs are is where we get standing water after a rain.

The French drain in action. There is no sign of water at the side of the house.

The French drain in action. There is no sign of water at the side of the house. On the right you see the swale that captures water for the orchard. It is about 20′ long.

While the primary drain water is obvious, notice the water on the ground the pipe midway, That is draining from the annulus drain! It works!

While the primary drain water is obvious, notice the water on the ground the pipe midway, That is draining from the annulus drain! It works!

__________

Update June 3, 2016 – hit with 3″ rain in 2 hours. 2″ diverter pipe at 1/2 capacity and working like a champ.

3" of rain in 2 hours, The 2" pipe was running half capacity.

3″ of rain in 2 hours, The 2″ pipe was running half capacity.



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Leather Notebook Cover of Czocha is done.

Had a good week of finishing projects.  Finally got the axe hafted with the Douglas axehead. Wickedly heavy brute of 9# and sharp as sin.

Also finished the first notebook cover. Using 2-3mm veg tanned leather, a hilighter stain, and some tooling. I got damn lucky that someone did most of my design for me at http://www.123rf.com/photo_13186022_old-castle-czocha-in-poland-on-sketch.html which is Czocha from College of Wizardry 4.

I took the vectorized outline and then wetted the leather, let it dry 10 minutes then taped the printout over the leather and used a stylus to push lines into the leather. Then an x-acto knife and swivel knife to make the cuts.

Raw cutting with some tooling

After which I used highlight stain to stain the cut lines, then saddle tan dye to darken it up.

Designed for a 8.5"x11" Mead notebook.

Designed for a 8.5″x11″ Mead notebook.


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French Drain work continuing

The main drain is dug, but not quite deep enough. Needs another few inches which requires lots of banging with a rockbar.

dischgarge trench

Discharge trench, putting in a 2″ or 3″ pipe connected under the fence door.

Discharge thru the front would require cutting a trench thru the driveway cement, backyard is easier and I can build a swale to catch the water.

The Side of the house that Pools water. Needs to be deeper

The Side of the house that Pools water. Needs to be deeper


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Hafting a Hewing Axe

I’ve got a 1890’s Douglas Axehead model ‘Pittsburgh” for hewing. One side is beveled and it is a little offset for hewing timber into lumber. I hafted it with mountain cedar (juniper actually) and after an hour of use the beefy handle broke much to my surprise.  It was a *very* beefy handle overly thick and still it broke. That tells me juniper is quite brittle and can’t use it for handles for striking tools. I still have one on my spoon hatchet but it has broken once, an I merely reused the handle because it was too long anyway.

I’m using oak this time, it worked for my mallet, which also had a broken juniper handle.  The handle is naturally curved oak wood from the tree that fell in my front lawn.  I’ve gotten it shaped to roughly what I want, I’m going to leave it to dry for another 2 weeks then work it down to the final shape.  I really want to avoid any shrinkage after fitting.

On length, it is for hewing not felling. So shorter than a felling axe, and research says about 28-30″. After all, this axe is just going up and down to chop off wood lumps between the jogs.

 

Axe handleDouglas Hewing Axe Head

 

 

 

 

-Update –

May 2, 2016

Finished the hafting. Leather cover from scrap leather and some tooling tools.

Douglas Pittsburg 9# axehead on a 29" handle. 32" from bottom of handle to toe of axehead.

Douglas Pittsburg 9# axehead on a 29″ handle. 32″ from bottom of handle to toe of axehead.

Scrap leather cover with a nice little tree.

Scrap leather cover with a nice little tree.


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Built a draw horse out of scrap and rough lumber

DrawhorseForgot to update, built this  6 months ago.

 

Took about 30 minutes to build:

used a 1″ wood drill,

a hatchet to made the tenons on the legs to 1″,

legs made of juniper to forestall rot,

the clamp lumber was a split hackberry that later cracked, have to redo.

Lessons learned: make sure the front legs of the horse are far forward not to touch the lower foot clamp when fully extended.


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Amps pulled by Dewalt Sawzall

Been building out an external power pack for my Dewalt tools. A 5S8P (5 series by 9 parallel) Lithium Co pack of old laptop 4.2v 2.2ah batteries.  Version 1.0 got the 18ga wire warm, which surprised me. So I upgraded to 16ga wire and added another 2P to make the 2.0 version of the current 5S8P that should put out at 1C about 16amps (2.2ah x 8amps – degradation).  And about 30amps if pushed to 2C.   I sense no warm up now.

But I wanted to know how many amps the Sawzall, so I hooked up a analogue amp meter and saw it pulls 9.5 amps steady state, no load. On the ramp up to steady state it jumped to 15amps+ for a moment but my amp meter only went to 15.external pack external pack2


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Converting Dewalt Cordless Tools to Lithium Ion 18650

Well, first 18650 laptop batteries are Lithium Cobolt Ion. Other 18650s, especially high current (10+amps) and Tesla 18650s are other chemistries. But I never seem to get my hands on those, only spare laptop batteries.

Normally, I try to build ebike battery packs with my 18650s.  I need 100+ and I make a 13s10p pack (for those not in the know, when you see 13S10P or 5s2p it means series/parallel, ie. 13s10p is 13 in series (13×4.2 = 54.6volts) and 10 parallel (each cell is degraded to about 2000mah or 2ah so 10×2=20 amp hours aka 20ah).

Anyway, I test incoming 18650s by charging them up to 4.15 volts (not 4.2 because some 18650s aren’t designed to go that high) and then wait 2 weeks and measure the batteries. I then rank them by how much voltage they’ve self-discharged

4.13 – 4.15  Excellent

4.11-4.12  Good

4.06- 4.10 Poor. Only for non-bike projects

<4.05 throw out, these obviously have internal damage and can be dangerous

These Poor quality is still good enough for non-critical projects like building packs for inverters or retooling NiCad tools to 18650s.

Converting Cordless with external pack

So I had 2 cheap drills who’s packs were dying and I converted them over to 18650s because I had some spares from a pack built (see Homemade Pack thread)

And I posted a thread about a dangerous voltage inversion on one of the 18650s that I pushed too hard, at which point it devolved into a tool conversion thread. Thus, here is a thread for DIY tool conversions.

For my 18v cheap drill, I opened the battery case, ripped out the guts, kept the connector and shoved 4s2p into the case and wired it up. No balance lead, I just want to see how it performs over time.

For the 12v drill, I did the same thing but only put in a 3s2p pack.  You need to understand that typical laptop cells can only push 1C discharge continous and peak 2C .  The average laptop cell these days is 2.4ah therefore 1C is 2.4 amps. However, they have degraded usually to 2ah so therefore 1C is 2amps and 2C is 4amps. If I have a 3s2p, that means I have 2 parallel for 4ah and capable of 4amps continuous and 8 peak. That is good enough for a cheap drill, but not a high quality drill.  If you want to convert a high amp draw drill you may need to go to hobby king and buy a 10C 3-4ah pack. They will fit in the old drill battery pack (you must check reference sheet for dimensions!).  In my case I had an idea for an external pack.

My 18v XRP Dewalt drill I’m more protective of. I have 3 batteries, 1 good, 1 bad, 1 dying at 15v. The bad one I ran with an idea someone mentioned of an external pack.

I opened the bad pack, ripped out all the cells but the one in the stem. The stem has a cell that fits perfect. It holds the connector fine, so I fixed it in place and soldered a bypass around it to the connector. Then ran these 18ga wire to an external pack and put them in a leather hip pouch that is thick enough to protect it in the field. I found the 18ga wire gets hot while using a sawsall. I’ll fix that with 14 or 10ga wire from my stocks.

The pack itself was 5s6p at about 12ah, with a balancing lead coming off it.  I just used packing tape to tape that out of the way while in the pack.

It should be able to supply 24amps at peak pull.  For charging, I’m just using the alligator clips on my icharger to clip to + and – and charge off of it. In the future as I convert the rest, I’ll convert the stock Dewalt charger with a modded meanwell or other powersupply.

So here it is.

Pouch is leather and can take some abuse

Pouch is leather and can take some abuse

5s6p pack of 18650s


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FA Tour done

IMG_3594Some journeys don’t have beginnings. Just like some friendships don’t have a start. You simply slip into them slowly, warily, over time. This journey was like that. Those in FA know other players, some for years, but almost none have met any other in person. Simply ghost voices over teamspeak, reliable, perennial voices that seem to show up month after month year after year. Well, I chose to change that.

I pondered a trip and then one day, I boarded a train. And the adventure began.

Dallas - Ft Worth bridge

Dallas

Mighty Mississippi

At first, I traveled from Austin to Chicago by train, about 28 hours. There were dozens of stops, lots to see. I was able to snap a shot of the mighty Mississippi.

Springfield or Lincoln, not sure

Springfield or Lincoln, not sure

St Louis was easy to spot, the arch was there, and the train passed right by it. St LouisThe St Louis arch

Watching the US go by.

Watching the US go by. The extra $350 a night for a private roomette was kinda nice but not worth the money.

In Chicago, I was met by |FA|Bin who I promptly hugged and he showed me around Chicago and dragged me along to an attorney shindig party that got rained out. So we spent hours talking about the meta aspects of UrT, the players, the demographic of players, and bicycles. Oh so much talk of bicycles, it made me sad I didn’t bring my folding Downtube. We inward bounded about our identities with bicycles, and how his injury may affect his.

Before conversion to an ebike with Bafang middrive. 27lb before conversion.

Wish I had brought my folding bike on the trip. Great for multi-modal travel.

By 8pm, I had Bin singing silly ditties with me on the streets of Chicago. The man has a good soul and a competitive spirit, but a career as a singer…not so much.

Then I got on my train at 9pm and departed again. The masses were herded into coach and I smiled as I was pointed forward to my private sleeping car with the other rail nobility.

I spent hours watching the land form and land cover change from short trees to tall giants, and the building methods go from cinder block to red brick.  It was a step back in time to see all the old brick factories with their glorious brick architectural features on the top edges.

The next day I got up, had my train french toast in the dining car and then prepared for the end of my train journey. It had been over 50 hours by train and the time had flown by. Now it was the time to shift into the camping part of the trip.

My train was an hour and a half late. But that was expected. Finally when I arrived |FA|Funder picked me up in Syracuse holding a sign “Grandma” which cracked him up to no end. I gave him a warm hug and we were off north to meet with our esteemed high pinger |FA|Rassilon 3 hours north near the Canadian border. We almost crossed into Canada at the 1,000 islands bridge but avoided the socialist bastards and u-turned then took Hwy 13.  As expected, the beginning conversation was a touch awkward as the entire context of the relation you have with your fellow FA is game related, but it warmed up within the hour.

As we closed in on Rassilon’s position we called to get final directions- “Left on I think main street, then left again on I think main street, then left at the next street”  Which, as you would expect, is a set of directions that should make anyone nervous. Funder and I exchanged glances and quickly pulled out our trusty Tomtom, plugged in the final addy and good ol Tomtom got us there.

Rass’s other half was putting us up for the night. A fellow Whovian and sci fi nut, she was a wonderful host and good company. We crashed the night then headed off the next day to the mountains. Tres Amigos

 

We pitched camp quickly in a coming gale and prepared for rain. Pitching camp in a galeWhile waiting for the rain to hit, we built a fire and I went about carving wooden spoons.

I like a bit of woodworking and it was a challenge to carve a spoon with a dull wood splitting hatchet, a scandic brush axe, and a leatherman.

Finished wooden spoon with spaded end. Total time ~2 hours.

Finished wooden spoon with spaded end. Total time ~2 hours.

Note the bowl of the spoon has been burnt out using an ember.

Note the bowl of the spoon has been burnt out using an ember.

Bowl of wooden spoon. Burnout marks still present.

Bowl of wooden spoon. Burnout marks still present.

Sliming down the handle and taking off rough edges.

Sliming down the handle and taking off rough edges.

When the rain hit, we all retreated under my Kelty tarp I put over my sleeping hammock.

Under the brown tarp lies my comfy sleeping hammock.

Under the brown tarp lies my comfy sleeping hammock.

The next day we did a stiff hike saw some good views.

Cranberry Lake

Rass on left, Thunder on right. One of these two knows how to hike.

Rass on left, Thunder on right. One of these two knows how to hike.

IMG_3570

We also spotted interesting mushrooms, a bolete, some Russalas, and some unknowns.

Boletus ___?

Boletus ___?

IMG_3572IMG_3579

The temps dropped into the upper 30s at night, but we were covered, as our firewood supply was huge.

Monday came, and we had to break camp, reflect on how we spent 3 days unplugged, but talked about video games the whole weekend, and ponder the changing face of our social worlds with the internet challenging norms.3 stooges


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Whofest coming up, new game almost done

Quiet busy preparing the details on the TARDIS adventure game and finishing a most challenging new game, Red Shirts in a Blue Box choose-your-own-adventure game.   Chris and I have almost finished our costumes, and our helms and collars are done by the wonderful ParkerandQuinn.  Our robes cost has been high, over $800 in materials with 13 yards of thick velvet and lined with Berdine

The TARDIS game is really getting good. More theater, tougher challenges, malevolent actors, and real swag to win.  The TARDIS adventure game is a 3 part game and we always need TARDIS volunteers. If interested, and you will be at the DFW Whofest, let us know.

The GameMasters of Gallifrey need you.

The GameMasters of Gallifrey need you.


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