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


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.


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

Boletus ___?

Boletus ___?


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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Call for Doctor Who volunteers!

Greetings! I bear good news!

Yes, our efforts as the Gamemasters of Gallifrey running the TARDIS game has earned us another invitation to the WhoFest in Dallas on 24APR15.   This time, we will have more time for planning and preparation. So we’ll be adding some dimension to the game this year,  more interactive and awarding the odd medal here or there for exceptional players.

132_0419We are seeking:

7 NPCs – In game characters who need some acting capability and the maturity to stay ‘in character’ for the whole game (2 hours) .  Some characters will be kind, some maniacal, some dead serious UNIT staff, and one convincing Brigadier.

1 Volunteer co-ordinator – Offload volunteer co-ordination from our feeble shoulders.

1-2 Sceneographers – Someone whose job is to add depth to our game by dressing up our UNIT HQ room. This will require us to talk weeks in advance and tell us what we need to buy.

1 Floater –  someone to help our with anything that the Gamemasters need, from securing pens, to logging times during the timed game.

1 Videographer/photographer – We’d really like to videotape the game next year and make a snazzy video.


1. You must pay your way into the WhoFest

2. Volunteer for 1 hour at minimum, but the cool games will need 2 hour minimum commitment.

3. Over the Age of 20

4. NPC actors will need to be able to adlib parts true-to-character where we have no script and the players ask something weird. .

If you are game to help out with our TARDIS game, contact me on my contact page!

We have created a TARDIS game design page for explaining what will happen at the game. As well as a TARDIS Game NPC guide.

Karma Earned:

Invitation to the Lunch pizza party for the winners, and the gratitude of the Gamemasters.  You also will be permitted a photo while standing in our TARDIS, something we normally don’t allow.  And any volunteers will be on the short list for volunteering with us at  other Cons we may go to, like Comicon.




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Pondering Pomplamoose’s Success

There are may talented musicians. From all around the world. This pair, Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn collectively known as Pomplamoose somehow have risen to the top of my “A” list.  The real question is why have this dynamic duo risen in popularity faster than other talented musicians?  Well, from what I can tell, it boils down mainly to the power of video.

You can tell they are having fun. You can tell they are humble and happy.  The pure emotional energy combined with the authenticity of their playfulness resonates with their fans. Sure, they aren’t as polished as a $50,000 music video, but these two engage the audience as *real*, a beautiful voice and a brilliant goofball musician. After each song, they chat with you, even dragging in their pet cat, or sister who just made soap to discuss news of their world with you.

Both Jack and Nataly have solo careers, but their respective videos don’t capture that raw playfulness as they do when they are Pomplamoose. Jack comes across much darker, harsher, yet brilliant while Nataly more aloof and set back from the audience. Quite different from the intimate musical videosongs of Pomplamoose. Perhaps it is the innate need of joy in our lives that resonates with the audience and is delivered with harmony and catchy chords that makes it all so easy to ingest with eyes and ears.

When they put out their Do Not Push video, which showed a fictional argument,  there was quite a visceral reaction from their fanbase. Some member wrote “Jack and Nataly do not fight!” and others were quite upset that the duo had crossed a line and violated an unspoken rule that Pomplamoose are to be our source of happiness and not confrontational. That video served as a watershed moment to me and I think to Pomplamoose. They understood more about their audience than any other they had done, as they quickly made a sequel video that was happy and playful. They even called in fans to come in as extras for the filming.

Lauren O’Connell, who teams up with Nataly as ‘My Terrible Friend’ also has a wonderful voice and clear talent. But she doesn’t engage the camera like Pomplamoose or My Terrible friend. She often doesn’t even smile for the camera. Like most musicians she mostly chooses to ignore the camera forget that the camera is actually thousands of people watching. So therein lies the secret to the success of Pomplamoose, the duo uses the camera to bring the audience into their world and laugh and sing with them.

All I can do now, is wait till they invite me over for their next song…

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How to backup the Samsung M400 phone to Ubuntu

This nasty little problem is not well documented out on the net. I couldn’t move files over using the USB cable, because it won’t show as a mass storage device.

Here is my solution.


1. on your Ubuntu computer turn on Bluetooth.  If it doesn’t have it, you can buy a cheap USB dongle for $5 on ebay.

2. Turn on Bluetooth on your phone.

On your Samsung M400

On your Ubuntu

1. From your home screen, press Menu/OK.
2. Select Settings/Tools > Tools > Bluetooth.
3. If Bluetooth is off, select On/Off and then press the left Option key to select On.
4. Make sure you have “bluetooth manager” on Ubuntu
5. In Bluetooth Manager, search for new device.
6. It will find a device, flash a hex address, then update the name to M400
7. Choose “pair device” after you see it.
8. Approve pairing
9, Go to Settings/Tools > Tools > Bluetooth>Visibility and turn on for 3 minutes  (this may not help but i did it)
10. Go to Settings/Tools > Tools > Bluetooth>Trusted devices  and select your computer name that it gave you after the pairing. (it should be there) there is on option to ‘transfer’  choose it! Then choose ‘send contacts’.  It will show all your contacts but none are selected. In options, choose ‘select all’.
Then click “send”This begins the transfer once you approve step 11
11. Ubuntu asks you to approve incoming files. Click yes, even tho it didn’t give you an option of where they are going.  After I accepted, it dumped them into ‘/home/(me)/Public’ as one file per contact.
 If this worked for you, feel free to tip me some LiteCoin  LWnAqriAeMywWFZ5VAeYd3SakLoAUNHXSU

My opinion of this phone is low. The flip sanyos are much better. Unfortunately all the smart phones are very dumb in that they leak data out wifi horribly and I can’t use them due to security.

Oh, and if you hate the ‘nuance’ button being pressed while in your pocket (“Say a command”)  and trying to pocket dial, you can pry out the button (bottom left) with the tip of a knife. Nuance will still work when activated by your bluetooth headset. I have no frilling idea why these idiots dedicated an outside button to it.


Source of inspiration:

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