28 January 2013

Shop time and other frivolities

Now what have I been doing in my spare time, such as it is?

First is my lady needing a new bed which would be one of those 'Numbers' type, which is a large air mattress (with all sorts of add-ons and internal components) mounted in a frame of sturdy foam and then having an air pressure measuring system with electric pump.  It replaced the old bed (a Sealy Posturepedic from a decade ago if not more) which also had the removal of a set of under-bed drawers get hauled away, as well.  Thus the new bed is lower than the old one.

That was in NOV 2012.

My experiences with waterbeds were that I can't sleep well in them and they leave me feeling less well rested and with additional aches and pains that I don't need.  I cannot adapt to them.  The 'Numbers' bed is also something I cannot adapt to, apparently, and it left me with no added reserves of energy from sleep even while I was sleeping longer.  I do not like a combination in which I sleep longer and less well.  I gave it a fair try (which is beyond the 'we will take it back if you don't like it' 30 day period) and by the beginning of JAN 2013 it was obvious I was in bad straights.  I had gone up and down the 'Numbers' scale, fully inflated and went down, fully deflated and went to fully inflated and down, changed up numbers and did everything I could think of.

Of the major problems with the bed, one of them is the actual height for it in the room.  I am closest to the window and dropping down 15" above the floor left me with cold air from the windows at just about that level.  That did not help matters, I'm sure.

I also gained aches and pains in my back and legs even at the highest levels.  I do note that at 100% it felt as if I was going to fall off the bed (yes it is level) which meant I could not actually sleep at full inflation level.  I gave at least 3 days at everything from 35 to 85 a try, with that 35 having me bump into the bottom of the bed support when I got into bed.  Like when I was on Provigil my sleep was just barely getting me through the next day.

Thus a few weeks ago it was decided to put one of the small rooms into use for me with its old bed (it was an XL Twin) and it was not comfortable but I was far better off on it than on the 'Numbers' bed and actually recovered energy starting on the first night.  Problems with the bed included lumpiness, springs that were half-dead and otherwise not being up to long-term use... so that meant getting a new bed for that room... and for this it was scoping out what was probable online, first, going to a Sleep Mattress Warehouse store to try a few different types (memory foam was a definite 'no' and, in fact, any bed with a foam pad or topping greater than 1" was ruled out) and then on to Sears which actually carried the line I was looking at which was a  Sealy Posturepedic with the titanium springs in it.  There was competition and there were about 3 beds from all manufacturers that I could live with, but for the firmness of the final selection it was a no-brainer.  I've had that for a couple of weeks and I'm regaining energy slowly, losing the aches and pains and now only get disturbed by some residential traffic noises.

This episode really did a number on my energy levels, but they are, finally, returning.

Which has meant getting to work back in the shop...

First up was a small cabinet for utilitarian use that I had most of the pieces cut, but hadn't had time to actually finish.  I went with whatever screws and bolts I had on hand, put on a single layer of shellac and finished that.  It had been eating up what little energy I had for the past couple of months and getting that off the table meant a lot to me:


Not much to look at, I'll give you that, but sturdy and with felt lined drawers.  I will probably put something on the edges of the drawers to make them look nice, but that is only if it bothers me while in use. If not it will continue on as-is.

I was glad to get that bit out of the way!

I've also been getting the bits and pieces together to put a DC power pass-through to my deck so the solar panels can be connected full-time.  I now have all the parts for that, made the internal and external box and am waiting for a good day that is dry to finally get that going.


On the left is the big box of parts, wiring, tools, connector parts and also buried in there is a NEMA-4 box to mount on the exterior.  On the right is a close-up of two old work boxes that will have the specialized connectors for the power systems on the interior of the house.  On the right of that picture is an Anderson Powerpole arrangement for the solo-panel unit I have, and for that you actually can get some panel and other specialized parts as the HAM radio community uses them as well as many in the RV community.  The wallplate is made for RV homes and it fits a 4 piece Powerpole connector gang mounted in a housing made by Anderson for the purposes.

The Anderson SB-50 connectors for my SUNRNR panels, however, that is another story and they are on the left as two red pieces on a wallplate.  It is perfectly valid to say that Anderson makes patch panel pieces for mounting not just their SB-50 but the Powerpoles in the 15/30/45 range of things.  Yes, you can say that.  It is also possible to say that for the Powerpoles in the 15/30/45 group (the 4 piece one) is that they are not only widely available, but to spec.  For the SB-50 connector housings, it is correct to say that while Anderson shows a groove in the housing for a their panel mount pieces, that their current manufacturing run of them does not contain that groove. 

It can further be stated that if you need an actual mount that fits an SB-50 housing in one piece and you can't find the specs to the recharging system of a golf cart using same, that your best bet is either the UK or Australia for such parts.  While the SB-50 is utilized for winches and some other equipment in the US, I looked high and low for patch panel mounts for same and came up empty.  For the Powerpole 15/30/45 range a wallplate is not sufficient or even pretty good for a  patch panel to go into an external wall box.  Luckily due to the housing to go to the wallplate you can cut up some sheet metal and make your own.  Finally, unless you want to make a circuit board for DIY purposes for a patch panel, you will find that plug'n'play pieces for Anderson SB-50 connectors are not made... they do make ones pre-mounted to circuit boards, however, for those needing to lug batteries around and needing a power connector to the box they are lugging them in.

To make the dual SB-50 wallplate I just used a media wallplate that had two larger sized connectors and nibbled it out and used a UK purchased mount to attach them to the wallplate.  For the external box I utilized a piece of angle aluminum for that purpose and used the sheet metal cut-out for the PP-30 gang to give it some final stiffening.  Now with an SDS drill, a 1.125" bit, some flexible conduit, glands and a few other odds and ends including silicone sealant and di-electric grease, I'm just waiting for a nice day to get things going.  I am semi-looking forward to the day I can open up some of the sheetrock and see just what the actual distance is between the exterior brick and the interior sheetrock.  I'm guessing it is between 1.25" and 3.75", but I could be wrong.  It is hard to guesstimate these things without actually seeing what the construction work looks like.

What I can work on in the interim is the router table!

With the drawer cabinet out of the way, that meant I could do some more on Phase 1 of the router table, which included putting up a simple rear brace arrangement for when I have to get plywood up on it.  Plus I could put the back panel on the forward part of the table and rough-fit some interior panels and the first of the electrical boxes.

At that point I could do little else to it on the workbench and still be able to lift it off and down to the floor, thus I had to take it off the workbench, clear the old router table and the table it sat on off, transfer the router top, find places for other stuff on the table and then put the shop vac from Ridgid onto the rear of the table (which will be its final home).


Ta and Da!

That wooden piece now semi-buried is the router table carcass, with a bench grinder sitting on the table top with a blue towel over it.  That needs a real stand, but is a bit farther down on the list of 'what comes next'.

On the left the board sitting on the rear of the router table is a piece of Padauk which will serve as trim pieces for the table.  Leaning against the workbench are the plywood parts for the top and sides, and there are additional pieces to cut for the front and rear.  This means cutting up some large pieces of 3/4" plywood and to do that I have one of those Rockler straight edge guide system things to replace some of my older methods for doing such tasks which just haven't been all that satisfying.  Short of having a panel saw (really, there is no space for it) or a real long surface for the contractor saw (again, space) that means putting the pieces up on saw horses, putting a straight edge cutting system on it and knocking them down to size.  With that I can also more accurately do the cut-out for the router table top surface, which is a big plus.

One of the things I realized after checking to measure that the steel table surface is at the same height as the work bench, is that I now have a long surface for feeding material into the router table!  It can actually help make its own parts... at least for some of the joinery, the sawing and such is another matter.

On the workbench are the tools that still need to be put away and those out to get the plate for the Rockler system put together.  I'm not fond of acrylic for its somewhat brittle nature and may look to get a replacement in UHMW or PVC.  Once you have the system, then making new glide plates is a simple matter of 1/4" plastic sheet stock cut and drilled to size.  I'll be utilizing an old HF power saw for the cutting as it had a few defects in it that don't stop it from turning the blade but have been a PITA, overall.  The store did promise to send a replacement for the original faulty saw retaining screw, but that never showed up and I needed a higher power saw for other things... thus a Skil saw was added to the line-up.  For the old HF I can sacrifice its bottom plate, secure it to the plastic and turn that into my ersatz distance cutting saw until it gives out.  I do like that the Rockler system basically self-packs as a unit without the glide plate, it shows a bit of forethought in the design of the thing.

Also needing to be done with the router table is get the power system laid out, the dust collection system laid out and then pre-prep panels for them during install.  Once the side panels are on and a test fit of the top has been accomplished and looks good, then the rear frame disappears as the panels to the front and rear get attached.  Padauk will go in the corners and over the sides as onlay to hide the edges of the plywood.  The underside has been finished with a single coating of Tung oil (1:4 with solvent) some time ago, and it doesn't need to look pretty.  Birch ply for the sides, front, rear and top isn't the best of all possible looking plywood, but staining that stuff would have to wait until good weather for about a week... actually even an oil finish will have to wait for that.  I would also like to extend the sides of the top out by an inch or so... perhaps tongue and groove some Padauk on, that is mostly for cosmetic purposes, although some light clamping would be nice, as well.  I guess I could cut up the whole top and start putting a parquet together for it out of ply, Padauk and white wood or whatever else I can scare up in square quantities so as to get just a slightly larger top.  A lot of work for a little extra help here and there just might not be worth it...

Other than that an Every Day Carry knife I had been trying out from MTech came apart in my hands after only a few weeks of being EDC clipped to my pocket.  I knew there would be problems with the pivot screw to the folder knife needing tightening every couple of days.  I didn't expect two of the spacer screws to work out along with the pivot screw, however.  Luckily the screws got stuck in pocket lint!  I disassembled the entire thing, saw that it was decent on a per-part basis, just not put together well, did a basic 'get the crud off' cleaning and then re-assembled it.  Using Locktite 262 which is what I use for rimfire sights and such.  After a week and some of EDC there is no movement of the screws, it folds a bit stiffly but that is fine, and looks to be good for the long-term.  It isn't a great knife, all told, but its sharp and has a good heft to it, which is really nice for cutting into boxes.  Just one of those little surprises I could do without in life.

Working on some fiction as well...

I find that I can work a story up to a certain point and let it flow and then I'm forcing it.  At that point I must stop and work on something else, usually another story, and let that one flow.  When a story is flowing, it writes itself.  When I'm having to force it, things just don't feel as good for the writing part... although for filler scenes, its fine... filler scenes are those that are necessary to backfill a bit of plot or storyline that I decided to pass over to keep the main thread running smoothly.  There are tons of places I can backfill other storylines and thought threads in a story, and I sometimes wonder just why the scenes I write are the ones that seem like a good fit to the story.  No idea, on that... I'm writing for myself, not for an audience or money... and I actually do enjoy re-reading them although I'm always correcting spelling or phrases or the little things that just need to be fixed (like having two of a word in a row... happens when I jog off a thought and back on it and try to pick up again).  If its not flowing, don't force it and write something that does flow.

Yup that means less 'real' blogging and more junk like this.

Thems the breaks.

Now I just need to get well enough to get to the range.

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