Garage upgrades!

Turkey day weekend progress! After running the wiring in the attic a week or two ago, I managed to finish up all the wiring today. Now instead of having a single flourescent (switched to LED tube) light in the garage, I have that flourescent PLUS 4x new paddle style LED lights. The difference is immense! I’m very excited to have it all finished up. I do need to go up to the attic again and put the floor panels back in, but I’ll probably wait as next on the list for garage upgrades is some new outlets, and for them a new circuit breaker. That and I still have some attic work to do before I can really store stuff. I ended up removing the attic ladder so I can switch it’s orientation. When climbing up, you would climb into the short side of the attic and it was kind of a pain to get all the way up, so I’m going to have it climb up towards the peak of the roof, so it’s easier to step all the way in. That said the new lights are going to really help, especially since I’ve dived back into the wiring for the 818.

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A Scant 5 Months Later

Admittedly it’s been a busy 5 months. I try to keep this mostly to a project log, but occasionally real life does intrude. My wife had some complications following the birth of our kiddo, and ended up hospitalized a couple of times. Eventually it was diagnosed that she had a condition where the bottom of her cerebelum was basically poking into the spinal column and blocking flow of CSF fluid. She went through a surgery to correct it… then a second surgery when that one leaked… then finally after 2 months she had to have a shunt installed as apparently she was producing too much CSF fluid. The surgery process began at the beginning of June and as of this last Friday, she’s well enough to go back to being a full time mom. For a while there it was all I could do just to try and keep up with the kiddo, work, and taking care of her, but these days it almost feels back to normal… I mean living through a pandemic normal, but still so much better than a few months ago… so… projects!

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Embrace all change, all the time

Last post on at the beginning of May?! Okay… well… so… some things have changed. Personally, I feel it’s very important to have all of your most life changing moments in a single year… you know shake things up a little…

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818C One Year Later

The last couple weekends have been really productive on the 818C. With the progress I’ve made lately it feels like I haven’t been doing anything the last year. It’s important to look back a bit though. While I’m on pg 227, I’ve been skipping around a bit so it’s closer to 200 completed pages out of the 700+ page manual

I think I also need to remember just how much work came before this. It wasn’t just install the front suspension, then install the rear suspension. There was a ton of work drilling and riveting the sheet metal panels. There was a ton of work tearing apart the donor car. There was a lot of work getting the pedal box and the steering fitted up. Every part cleaned up, wire brushed, repainted… yeah… I’ve made a lot of progress.

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Labor Dabor

Three day weekend and I’d recently taken some PTO the week before to have a five day weekend, so I’ve made some progress! Not as much as I’d like of course (never is), but I did get quite a few things done now that I’m thinking it through.

The five day weekend started out perfectly, as I was heading out the door for work, I hopped in the truck and the starter just went ‘click.’ Super… I’d just replaced the battery so it was feeling a bit ominous. I wasn’t entirely wrong, that said, I was a bit fed up, so I went to CarMax and we now have a lovely Ford Escape! I’m actually really pleased with it. We got the Titanium edition and it only has 30,000 miles, so it should be good and reliable for a while. Also it has lots of very fun gadgets and buttons like it can parallel park itself!

Ford Escape

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Less than a week…yet so much has happened!

Wow… I must say this has been a pretty spectacularly eventful few days. Since I last wrote, the Mazda has had it’s alignment and then served as a faithful companion on a 6 hour road trip to visit my wife’s best friend in Joseph, OR. It was a nice trip. I made some delicious steak and skewers (care of our friend Heidi’s excellent purchases), then I remembered that of all the things I’ve done in my life so far, rode motorcyles and driven cars on racetracks, jumped out of perfectly good aircraft, learned…mostly how to windsurf and kite landboard, worked in machine shops on live explosives…no…the scariest thing to me is F—ing cable trams… I find them deeply, deeply unsettling. I love a good rollercoaster, but sitting gently swaying at 20-50 feet off the ground…not okay. Not even a little okay. I guess it’s just kind of funny, I’ve done things that I though would terrify me and not really felt affected, but then something that shouldn’t bother me at all, like the Joseph tram or pop-sickle sticks, no…that’s what’s really scary!

Anyway, I digress… the real news is that one of my long term projects is closer to fruition than ever before. As of Friday I committed to purchasing a project Subaru WRX! I cannot wait for this machine to arrive (luckily as we were soon to be leaving, the current owner agreed to hold it and deliver it next Sunday). So here’s the deal. It’s a 2003 WRX that had the headgasket blown, so the current owner sourced parts to build up a forged internals version of a 2.5L STI motor. In WRX circles it’s known as a hybrid build, Standard 2.0L WRX heads with a thickened gasket paired to a 2.5L bottom end. He had a machinist assemble it. I’m hoping for receipts to prove it…we’ll see. That said, the motor looks great. It’s still in the plastic packaging. Yes it is a jumble of parts and one hell of a big project, but I have plans brewing. Regardless this machine looks like it’s got a lot of good parts. Tein Coilovers (one needs a rebuild), a turbo or two, the original block, actually a pretty nice shape interior, and one hornet nest as a bonus! Okay not so much a bonus, but the current owner’s willing to deliver, which makes my life WAY easier. Can’t wait to tear this monstrosity apart and rebuild it in my own design. I will also admit with a delightful sense of…history? That this is nearly identical to the one my brother had back in the day… so if I can rebuild as something substantially more impressive that’ll just be icing on the cake of a very fun car.

To that end within hours of arriving home (as soon as the temperature dropped a bit) I spent a few more hours in the garage and managed to secure myself a new engine workspace! The garage, sadly still needs a lot of work. The triumph today was that I made a new home for large power tools and really cleaned off the former CNC workbench. I think it’ll do the job nicely for an engine/rebuild bench. I still need to go through the stuff underneath. There’s a kiln a single stage compressor and a bunch or other terrifying items below. Nonetheless…progress!

Oh and Thursday I had a fun game of Infinity! With a similarly detailed/cartooney battlereport. Those are pretty fun to make.

Busy and not busy!

In seemingly alternating bursts. I’ve actually been up to quite a bit in the last week or so since writing here. In relatively chronological order, I’ve been playing a good bit of Infinity! Undeniably my favorite miniature wargame. It kind of catches me coming and going because I love the ‘orders’ system. Then you add to that my love of the futuristic (but good future) sculpts and background…it’s pretty much a solid hit for me. I just don’t feel the appeal for the ‘grim darkness’ of the future…because if we’re looking from even the 1950s to today, things have generally gotten a lot better in my opinion. It’s definitely not perfect, but in my tiny corner of the universe the people I know and work with really seem to be trying to make it better. Hmmmm… Actually retyped this several times after waxing too philosophically! Opinions are not in fact like assholes, because everyone has LOTS of opinions, and I’m determined not to make this some opinionfest… Evidence! That’s what we need! So here’s evidence of my most recent Infinity games in the StrikeZone Wotan campaign. I decided to put them all in one place so far. Might come back add new ones or just make new posts. We’ll see.

Proper Care and Feeding of Pupniks

MVZ: Most Valuable…Zhanshi?!

Bar Fight on Sygtir-1

The Triumphant Return of Zombie Salty Bob

The Combined Army Could Not Care Less

Those have actually been properly fun to put together. I’ve been using Prisma for the filter and then PicSay Pro to add captions. It’s just kind of entertaining; I know what ‘happened’ in a game, in terms of X shot Y, Y punched Z in the face…but when you sit down after the fact and try to write out what actually happened, you find yourself starting to name the characters and making up a more cohesive story of what happened.

Bonus! I also learned more about photo editing in GIMP. It’s how I made some of the images like the featured image for this post. As I’ve learned taking close ups of miniatures on a camera phone, depth of field is a complete jerk, so what I’ve now learned to do is take multiple photos holding as still as possible (yes I should have a tripod…but that’s pretty inconvenient in the middle of a game), then go back later import them into Gimp and try to overlay the focus of each photo. Kind of a fun process and pretty new to me.

 

Oh…lastly…more work in the garage today… It feels like a bit of the end of an era. I decided it’s finally time to dismantle the CNC machine. Amazing how quickly something like that comes apart…and sad in its own way. The poor CNC machine was just a victim of too many problems. On the one hand it could only cut plywood and some hardwoods…very very slowly… It also had a ridiculous toolchain ie: design the part in whatever CAD, import to Heeks CNC, basically extract the outlines which sometimes mostly sort of worked, then make sure you have the right bits, speeds, feeds, etc set up, run the G-Code creator… put the file in the shared folder… shut down windows and boot into Linux to run Linux CNC… realize you made a mistake… boot back into Windows… screw with the gCode… etc… Also as an added bit of wonderful functionality, the lack of breakers in the garage meant that I had to power up specifically and I could not operate any other devices on that circuit… I also had to watch it to make sure it didn’t light itself on fire… you know again… It was also insanely loud. So that left me with an overall process that took a long frustrating time to get the part to start cutting THEN left me sitting there staring at it, because I couldn’t do much of anything else while it ran…

All that whinging on though…the CNC did its job. I did learn a HUGE amount about CNC, gCode, toolchains, tooling generally…and I had a lot of fun building it. It’s also left me with the confidence to design or build one again…this time knowing SO much more. So yeah…Project Success! Not a brilliant success, but still a good one!

It is amazing how months of work went into it and it took…oh maybe an hour and half to have it pretty much disassembled and any of the valuable components stripped off… Admittedly a CNC machine made of MDF and some bolts does not have many valuable components remaining…

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Spiderwebs are nonconductive right? I’ll definitely keep all the stepper drivers for the next project…that serial controller though…what a pain to deal with! Either use linux or Windows XP…Linux is fine it’s just all my other CAD/CNC stuff is Windows only…

Bah! I’ve been typing too much! Time for bed!

First night with a new domain

Well hello new domain name. Fancy meeting you here at this hour.

Time to start work on exactly what this little journal/blog/site is currently about. An open log of projects. For tonight, in spite of the higher than pleasant temperatures, I committed to an hour of working on cleaning up the garage. See the thing is, the garage used to be a place of quiet and solemn construction of new and interesting things. Between a spate of tedious house projects like new flooring, new ventilation ducts, new bathroom tile, the garage became home to many a half finished project and leftover house materials. Example:

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So yes! Some clean up is in order. Thing is this is enginerding time, so we need a decision tree!

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Incomprehensible?! Absolutely, but fairly simple in execution…if it’s a project that I just can’t see myself getting back into, it’s out the door. And if it’s not something useful in a future project it’s out the door… ‘course…that’s what trips me up a bit… Well of course 6 different sizes of thin gauge brass tubing aren’t useful right now…but in the future?! (answer: No…they still won’t be useful because I will have long since forgotten I have them!) Sadly if there’s one thing I do know it’s that my memory for my current inventory of raw materials is pretty bad when designing something new. I tend to just go to McMaster and download a new model, then order exactly the parts I need. Nothing wrong with that, it’s more expensive, but it also means that when I have excess parts they’re often wasted. Ah well…such is the way of things.

Although maybe this go-round I can finally figure out a system to file and inventory raw materials…not a bad idea… Just have to make sure the cost of keeping such a system does not exceed the cost of the materials themselves… McMaster-Carr is only a few mouseclicks away after all.