No report on my whiz-bang installation of tile in the kitchen this weekend. Because other events overwhelmed “The Plan.”
That’s OK, though. Gives me a chance to talk about Project Planning. Which is a seriously important aspect of Life in the Shop.
Steps and Pitfalls
Given that most Home Shop Projects involve usually four operations (measure, cut, join, and finish) you’d think it would all be simple.
It’s not. Because there are “unwritten and unspoken” other steps which can get you seriously off plan. Here are some I ran into this week:
- Tool acquisition: If you have watched enough project videos on Youtube (and usually only one or two are needed), you’ll have a good idea of what tools would be ideal for any job. Getting them takes time. Like waiting on a 1/8th-inch sawtooth tile mud-smearing device (trowel). Could the project roll with a 1/4-inch? Yes. But we have the luxury of time and I’ve had enough experiences where the “almost right tool” turned out impacting the finished project. Almost-right results.
- Material acquisition: We are waiting on one more sack of grout to get the right color mixed up. It will be here this coming week. Could we have used a bright grout? (White) Yes, but that didn’t pass muster with the Art Department. Similarly, said department wasn’t happy with gray grout. Clock runs.
- Competing Projects in Completion Phase: Oh…moving 387 GB of George’s digital life onto a new computer? Then working out why the 55-inch UHD monitor in the office doesn’t want to lock on the HDMI signal from the new Dell? Blew-up the schedule.
- Weather and Prep: Since the “I” part of “we” weren’t ready to fully and decisively engage the project, the weather window moves on us to next weekend. Rain is expected Tuesday through Friday. Since I’ll be using the wet tile saw on the BBQ deck, playing with plugged-in power tools with potentially wet feet and precip just didn’t pass the OSHA check.
- Previous Project Cleanup: Being seriously ADHD I tend to have multiple projects going at the same time. Too many. As a result, I end up with tons of cardboard boxes to recycle in the shop. Saturday afternoon. Gone. Three choices here: Burn barrel, burn pile on the lower 16-acres, OR slice and fold for use shipping out radios which I’m repairing for sale on eBay. Some will be used for the floor covering while tiling.
There’s one more to think about.
Plans with Cut Lists, Solid Design
When you do something rough – like a deck – it’s easy enough to “ad lib” your way through it. Get something engineered if you can.
Pappy’s guidance on this kind of thing was easy: “Build it so it will still stand and work even without fastenings.”
This was a little “firehouse wisdom” because you never want the design to depend on a single fastener. That’s one of the problems in aircraft design, too. Those “single points of failure” are commonly called “Jesus Bolts.” Because when they let loose, you’ll soon be with… Elevator hinge on fixed wing and the prayer nut that holds the rotors on rotary-winged naturally-falling machines.
You want plans with cut lists for many jobs. Cut lists are a serious short-cut. A good plan has the cut list included. All you do? Cut and assemble. The planning cuts yourself can be mind-numbing if you’re trying to save wood. Pre-done cut lists? Fast.
There are two carts full of project boxes in the shop – and a shelf full of electronic projects all neatly teed-up and ready for focus. But more than anything over the past six-months, I’ve been trying to focus on one project at a time. With some measure of success.
Paint Prices Taking Off
Chris Tyreman passed word to us from the wilds of Saskatchewan this week that the local Sherwin & Bill paint store manager was telling his friend Michelle that “The supply line’s broken…get paint while you can…”
Judging by the lines of ships waiting to be offloaded out West, we will probably hold-off on our Christmas purchases this year until January or February. By then, Taiwan should be off the table, shipping resumed somewhat, and real deals on consumer electronics returning. Maybe.
New Tools & Preps
My consigliere – off hiking this weekend somewhere in upper Michigan if I was paying attention – recommended we pick up a Sawyer water filtration system as a backup out here. Sawyer Products SP2160 Dual Bladder One-Gallon Gravity Water Filtration System w/Dual-Threaded Mini Filter was the pick. Sure we have a few LifeStraws, but the Sawyer claims a 100,000 gallon service life which seemed like a deal.
Here’s a tool that won’t bust your budget. It’s under $12 at the Zon: Kelly Surgical Scissors 6 1/4 inches Angled. The specific use is for a radio restoration where I need to get some laced-up wiring apart. In where fat-man fingers don’t fit. But you’ll find plenty of uses for them, as long as you keep them hidden from your spouse’s sight…
Parts Collecting for Ham Gear
Ham Radio parts are coming in, too. Since the winter plan is a make-over of the main radio positions, I wanted to get a switching lash-up so I could pick from four possible ham radios at each without plugging and unplugging everything in the world.
I think the answer is this: a couple of Panlong 4-Way AV Switch RCA Switcher 4 in 1 Out Composite Video L/R Audio Selector Box for DVD STB Game Consoles. One for each of two operating positions.
Since each operating position will have only one antenna tuner and one linear amplifier, but four possible radio units, the solution was to switch everything with one knob.
None of the manufacturers (like MFJ) has what I really want. Everything in an “Antenna Switch Plus.” But this way, only two switches to throw.
The three colors will keep things somewhat reasonable: Red will be push-to-talk, Yellow will be ALC (automatic loading control of the amplifiers), and white will switch around the DSP speaker system.
Each operating position will have an Icom 761, an external DSP unit, linear amp and the antenna tuner. One position will have the Hallicrafters version of the S-Line, a Drake 2-B w/Q and GSB 100 exciter, plus an AM station consisting of an RME 6900 and Viking II.
The main position will sport the Heathkit SB line with scope, another 761, TS-590 plus my Icom M700 for 60 meters (and maybe CPU for ALE at some point). I don’t expect to have the SB line up very long. This is one of those “get it done to say been there, done that…” and then move on.
All the stacked up projects have are kept me off the 3D printer farm for a while. But I’ve been keeping an eye on the $1,100 Creality CR-30 3D Printer 3DPrintMill Infinite Z Belt Printer Continuous Belt CoreXY Motion Upgraded 32-bit Silent Board Dual Gear Metal Extruder. 11-hundred smackers.
See, these printers which are slowly getting into the market have a very special aspect to them: An infinite Z-axis.
And that got me to thinking: You know what a printer like this would need? Know how a table saw is a lot more fun to use with a ball-bearing outfeed table?
Well, I was thinking: A really clever person could design a printable outfeed table for this kind of printer! Use the standard skateboard bearings and make it adjustable.
See, without even buying one, I can already see how if you print something several feet long, at some point the outflow weight will try to lever the print off the print bed. The solution, therefore, would be a kind of “mini outfeed table.”
Not going to get rich with the idea, but hey! Isn’t the idea to have fun? Be a hell of a fine design project.
Which I figure you’ll get to and done by the time I save up enough scratch for the “new and improved” version of printers….
Off to the thinset mud merchant.
Write when you get rich,