Many items on the agenda this morning. Not the least of which is the…

Fires Still Raging

Our condolences and support to families in California and Oregon who have lost homes and valuable personal effects in the raging wildfires out west.  Talking to friends up in the Seattle area, it’s much the same story up there.  Plenty of smoke – just like down in the SF Bay area.

Picture Courtesy of Mark P in SF/SJ

People who have never been around big fires, don’t appreciate how treacherous they are.  Firefighters have different names for fires  –  The Beast and things best not said on Sundays.

Your can get a feel for the real-life dangers of fire in movies like  Backdraft.  But for a more gut-level book try “Street Smart Firefighting” which looks at fire from the working end of an inch-and-a-half line.  And toss in D.E. McCourt’s really excellent “Notes from the Firehouse: Seventeen Firefighting Stories from a Retired Firefighter.”

Talked to George II who’s on the fires in Oregon (he rotates out Wednesday after 24 non-stop days on three fires).  He’s been moved to the Lion’s Head fire which is just south of the White River fire. 5% containment when I looked Saturday.  I reckon he’ll take 2 or 3 days and head out again next week to another one, but we’ll see.

Being with a department on the backside of the Cascades, he knows the risks.  “We could be next…

Talked about the food (OK to good) but I had no idea how much chow they go through:  Firefighters on serious type 1 fires eat about 6,000 calories per day – without putting on weight.  I’ll leave this as your Sunday math problem:  How many BTU’s is that?

My 3D Printing CPU Adventure

Picked up a 17-inch HP DV-7 series laptop a week or two back.  Including shipping (and tax) it was off eBay for around $120.  OK, Windows Vista and only 6 GB of RAM, but a working 500 GB drive and a  LIghtScribe DVD…hard to go wrong.

Well, except…   The computer wouldn’t boot when it arrived.  I opted to buy a new battery and charger on Amazon, and the seller (a very ethical seller “yellowchoo” – great to deal with!) refunded me 50% of the laptop price for my trouble.  So I still ended up with what I was after at the original price plus like $5-$10 bucks.  How cool is that?  And with a new battery and charger!  Can’t beat that with a stick.

Yes…there’s a point to this story which I’ll boot up to in a second…

“Wait!  Why did you leave Vista on the machine?  Why not just go whole-hog Linux Ubuntu?  Is Ure stupid here, or what?”

Tisk, tisk!  There’s the learning point on why I’ll keeping a Windows machine around (or saving the Win partition):  You see,  Logitech – which makes dandy wireless keyboards and mice – has as “unifying USB receiver.”

“So what?”

If you put the unifying receive in Linux directly, you can only use ONE of the wireless devices.  However, if you  pair the keyboard and mouse under Windows THEN the receiver will work with the keyboard AND mouse under Linux!

(See how these adventures occasionally get to some obscure but potentially useful points?  Let’s for another one…)

Love of 2-by-4 and 2-by-6’s

When I was a kid (how long ago was 1955?) I remember my mom handing me a bottle of Elmer’s glue and says  “Go ahead…make something…”

Well, I tried to build a bridge.  Turned into a glue-gob disaster because I have no patience when comes to letting glue (or paint, or cement, or undercoating, or dishes, or…) DRY.

Anyway, I’ve gotten over that.  And, instead of the toothpicks from the dining room table, I’ve up-sized to genuine 2-by-4s.  Armed with a band saw, planer, jointer, belt sander, and table saw (or chop saw if easier), I swear, there is NOTHING as useful as good straight 2-by-4’s.

I told you (I think….memory’s going, lol) that was going to make a “machine bench” under which I could roll the wire and stick welders and the plasma machine.  Well, Lookie here:

Plane old lumber, joint it on both sides.  Lam it up with pipe clamps…fill the attachment holes sand a bit (planer is nearly enough).  Whee!  Big boy fun!

All kinds of machines will populate this when it’s done:  Grinders, buffers, chain saw sharpener (not needed on the carbide-tipped chain, though) and a circular saw sharpener as well.  Then a 6-inch vise (nearly as heavy as me…well, not  quite) and a metal-cutting chop-saw and  (if there’s still room, the sheet metal bending brake (box & pan).

The “catch all table” in the shop where these things are presently scattered will become the 3D printing area.  Looking for used windows on Craigslist to enclose things.

Oh, and down at the (dirty, got to clear it off) main work bench end?  The fastener cart rolls right in under that end.

Make Your Own Tools?

Picked up a book a while back:  40-Tools You Can Make.  Gave it to my neighbor as he’s a very skilled fellow..  Anyway, point is there was one tool in this book that I memorized because I’m going to make one.

You take a regular jig saw.  Drill four holes – one at each corner of the foot of the tool – and then mount it upside down under a piece of plywood.

Since I’ll eventually get the 3D Printer going it will be  pi simple to make the top out of 3/4″ plywood.  Then counter-sink a quarter inch with a Forstner bit.  Then print out a slotted plug.

Presto!  Upside down jig saw mount.

Wait!  You have that 10-inch bandsaw…why not just use that???”

Excellent point.  Band saws are great for most curvy things.  BUT if you have to cut the middle out of a circle without an entry, how does a bandsaw do  that?  Ergo, the upsidedown jigsaw table.  Which is also a lot faster to change blades on (for cutting printed circuit board material, for example) than digging out the metal blade for the band saw and then bleeding putting the ultra-sharp wood blade back on…

Hell of a $30 project.  $20 for the cheapie jig saw on Amazon.  $5 bucks for misc.  And a $5 donation to the “beer on completion” fund.

Also Around the Ranch

Good news – and bad – about rain here.  44.42 inches year to date on the TylerTexasWeather.com website.  In a more normal year, we’d have gone almost a month without outdoor burning by now.

Result?  More “butt in seat” of lawn tractor just ahead.

Tower Work in Sight

Out at the base of the crank-up tower, there are some issues:

The cheap solar panel has an internal fault of some kind – so no juice.  And the battery box is home to a black widow (or it  was until Mr. Spider Spray arrived).

In the rework the plan is new panel and new (white) battery box to lower the heat on the electronics in the box (charge controller etc.).

Then a new winch with the super-duper synthetic line.  Because the fancy stainless aircraft cable has become dangerously frayed…

And the new (cooler in summertime) Mailbox is set to go:

If it isn’t one thing, let’s another.  But keeps like interesting, I suppose…

Off for another half cup of coffee and then back into manic mode with the new shop air conditioner going in…

Write when you get rich,

George@ure.net