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Category Archives: miscellaneous

  • Well, we’re in

    That’s it, we moved into our little 16’x16′ 2 story gambrel. It’s far from finished inside but it’s dry and cozy. For now it’s a little bit like camping which is quite ok in the Summer.

    We love the outside shower

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    It’s a very interesting process to start from scratch and one that we wanted to go through. The smallest improvements we make have a drastic impact on our lives and are cause for celebration. The shower above started as just a solar heating water bag, we added a platform, then something to hold the bag, then a couple of walls.  It will soon have a water tank perched above. We are currently going through everything in our lives and carefully deliberating what we really need. And it turns out, we don’t need a whole lot.

    We’ve been without plumbing or electricity for the past 3 weeks and it barely registers as an encumbrance. Sure we have extra chores related to this (emptying buckets, charging batteries, doing dishes) but the simplicity gains largely offset them so it’s pretty much a wash. I’ve been messing around with a couple of solar panels and it opened my eyes to the world of 12V DC power which boating or RVing are familiar with. I’m starting to see that 110V AC is for a specific type of use (centralized power generation, distance distribution, high use) and that it doesn’t fit well the new world of high efficiency devices with batteries. It makes no sense to burn coal and loose 84% of its energy through conversions (coal->motion->electricity->transmission->charger) so you can charge a low powered DC device.

    Picture bellow, charging a tablet, a cell phone, a USB shower pump/head, cellular internet access, and lighting with 1 solar panel.

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    Everything we need has its own battery, this is why running straight from a solar panel with no charge controller is fine. The battery bank and charge control is delegated to the devices. Truth be told, I will probably have a battery in the final solar design for the convenience of being able to charge things at all times of the day, especially in the winter. I’m still figuring things out, but one big discovery is that power inversion to 110V AC and the loss that comes with it is far from necessary. It does mean no big appliances like a dishwasher or clothes dryer. For refrigeration there exist pretty neat 12v DC fridges but it’s not the type with 2 doors and an ice dispenser.

    We still have major projects to complete before the Winter, because when the cold and the short daylight hit, everything we’ve learned is off the table.

    • we need a good roof
    • more insulation downstairs
    • a chimney and hooking the cookstove to it
    • septic installation

    I recently spent a good chunk of time on the roof finishing the rakes, making a few last cuts and flashing it to get it ready for the roofers… Yes, we’re buying our way out of this one. Hours spent doing high altitude acrobatics and a few good storms will do that. We need a real roof fast and I’m sick of being up there. This means we’re also getting a standing seam metal roof with no punctures into the underlying sheathing. I’ve learned how much harder gambrels are over conventional roof designs.

    However it’s hard to resist that New England barn charm

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    Now we are hypocrites in some regards; there are things that our household doesn’t support right now. We get potable water from outside. We do laundry outside. Lastly, we use gas to power equipment (generator, chainsaw, ATV). We’ll be addressing the first 2 soon but our reliance on gas is unlikely to go away unless we start rearing horses. Which, I really don’t see happening anytime soon.

    5 years after giving up motorcycles, I get to ride again in the good name of Utility :)

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    Overall this is an awesome experiment to go through. There’s a lot of self discovery, learning, eye opening, liberating & fun going on. I can’t believe we’ve been in there 3 weeks already.

  • Footage from above of the beautiful place we’re calling home

    Thank you Jared :)

  • Hubsan X4 H107C

    Really a great little quadcopter. Much fun to be had with it, I’m almost ready to take it outside.

  • 3D Printed Snowglobe

    Here’s a cool idea for a present, model someone’s house, 3D print it and stick it in a snow globe. Bonus points if the person is really attached to their house and live in a place that gets good snow.

    How hard can this be right? Well it’s actually pretty hard but I feel like with all the gotchas researched and out of the way, that I would be able to do another one easily.

    Here’s the process in a nutshell:

    1. Sketchup for modeling
    2. Shapeways for 3D printing
    3. Painting
    4. Sticking in snow globe

    Here’s the actual process with all the gotchas:

    1. Sketchup for modeling

    Sketchup is perfect for the job and can export models to DAE natively and STL using this plugin, both formats can be imported by Shapeways. But it can be very hard to model a solid with no leaks. And leaks will really fuck things up. Also if you have a leaky model, fixing it it out of the question requiring starting from scratch. This other plugin is quite good at finding leaks but horrible a pointing them out, I only found it later in the process but I found it useful to check the model with it every time I made a change. The same way you compile after every added line of code right? There are other products out there to find the leaks and point them out, all of them horrible and requiring various exports imports to see results. Ultimately you know you have a leak when your model looks like shit in the finder preview on your mac (yes *.daes are previewable) or in Shapeways’ excellent viewer.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 21.54.02

    2. Shapeways for 3D printing

    Absolutely nothing bad to say there, Shapeways is amazing and light years ahead of the competition in terms of service & useability. I used their “strong & flexible plastic” material as it’s cheap and I had done extended submersion tests with it but it is quite limited in the small details it can render. The minimum wall size with it is 0.7 millimeters and anything around this size doesn’t look super sharp. They just came up with a line of “Detail Acrylic” materials which promise much better resolution but I was too far in the process and hadn’t tested the material in water. To compound the issue the empty snowglobes I found are on the small side and so a lot of details that make a house special to someone got lost.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 16.50.27

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    3. Painting

    This is where small didn’t help, it was tedious but not impossible. Definitely being able to 3D print the color would have been nice but the only material that allows this at the moment (full color sandstone) doesn’t lend itself well to this project. You also want to varnish it for good measure. As far as gluing the house and subsequently the globe on its wooden base I’ve used E6000 which was recommended by the manufacturer and many custom snowglobe making blogs.

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    4. Sticking in snowglobe

    This is the trickiest operation where everything can go wrong. First of all it’s good to play with how to insert the rubber gasket before you glue a house to it. Putting in in the freezer for 5 minutes and adding water to its edges will help slide it in.

    Now about 80% of the snowflakes that were provided floated and wanted to do nothing else than float. A good idea is to put the flakes in another glass of water, scoop the shitty floating ones out and then add the rest to the globe upside down right before you add the house. Quite frankly I wish I had even filtered the snowflakes, they came with particles that gray out the water a bit. Some recommend adding glycerin to slow the falling of the flakes, I felt like they were falling at an acceptable rate with only water.

    Another issue is one of bacteria growth. Per recommendations I’ve disinfected everything and used distilled water and added 1 drop of rubbing alcohol to the water. In the submersion tests I’ve done (not using distilled water or alcohol) the water would get noticeably funky after ~3 months. I don’t know how the new method holds over time.

    Pull a bit of the gasket away to fill with distilled water, add some E6000 glue around the joint between the rubber and the glass and you’re set.

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    Hard truth #1: A simple house isn’t a great subject to put in a snow globe, it kind of depends on it shape but it will occupy only the bottom part of the globe. I’m still happy about the result.

    Hard truth #2: Snow globe distort the view of what is inside them. Not a huge deal, this just caught me off guard.

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    The finished product

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  • Vermont Winter

    Crazy drivingIMG_1351

    Power outagesIMG_1364

    No water? No problem with all the snowIMG_1373

    Out of this worldIMG_1383

    Pretty decent breakfast viewIMG_1387

    Not all trees can take it  IMG_1319

    All this untainted snow to play inIMG_1221

    Do you want to build a snowmaaaaaaan?IMG_1174

    Yup, same oneIMG_1303

    Not just majestic; Maple majesticIMG_1306

  • Can’t catch a fucking break from all the buying.

    can't_catch_a_fucking_break

    Marketing: lining your pockets while contributing nothing to the world. A weird mix of hedonism and nihilism.

  • Setting stuff on fire

    bringing humans together since 1,600,000 B.C.

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  • Chicken coop moved to our land

    First the snow, then the mud, then we’re building a house. The chicken coop needed to be moved before all this. It’s weird to see it there.IMG_0763It took only 1:30 hours to move it 6 miles, flatbed trailers and good friends are awesome.