Sunday, January 29, 2006

Biofuel Blowout

Well then!
Thursday morning I left for Troy's with my dad. We got up to Masonville, NY, and found Troy. It wasn't too long before we were down in the basement of one of the houses he owns, putting together plans for a WVO reprocessing system to be used with his oil furnace. With us were Troy's son Vaughn, a welder and car mechanic, Gary, an electrician/hvac tech/plumber, and Alex, a semi-retired manufacturing engineer. We were somewhat stymied by the whole filtering aspect of production, but we continued on, working on a 5:1 WVO/methanol mix which we found that evening to be quite good for our purposes.
I've also found out that Troy wants to do biofuels in a big way. As he says it, "I wanna F**K an oil company!" Much of the knowledge I gained from this visit was useful in deciding how to do that, such as that there are many people in the Delaware County region of New York who are currently farming Canola specifically for use as an oil fuel source.
So that's what took up Thursday and Friday. Yesterday, Saturday, I had work all day, and then my parents arrived back from Masonville that night. Later, I had the hard task of going through plans and articles online to see what the cheapest, easiest way of making biodiesel from WVO might be. This site has some of the best information out there.
And now to make the filtration system plans...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

There's a Printer in the Car!

Let me repeat that sentence, because it bears repeating. There is a printer in my dad's car. Hooked up to the cigarette lighter port, we have an inverter. There is a splitter on that, which hooks to my laptop and, yes, the printer in the back seat. Also, today I made an estimate on the burn temperature of an alcohol/oil mixture, and proved that such a mixture would work as a fuel. All in all, a very busy day. I can't wait to get up to Troy's tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Craft Day

Today was a day of craft projects. I made a lantern out of some tissue-paper mache, some wire, and an old LED bottle opener. I also started in on making the beads that I intend to sell next month. all of them are rolled paper. I also got a bit more done on my website.

And don't worry. Tomorrow I promise I'll make something a bit more... interesting.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Site's Up!

Today has been a productive day. Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning, it was to sleet and snow, and as I told Katie on the phone, there's no way I'm driving three hours into New York state in that. No siree Bob. So, I was forced to be productive at home, instead. Now there's a new website for me to show for it: Check it out! It's what I made today!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Still in Limbo...

I still don't know if I'm heading upstate to Troy's tomorrow. I will find out in the morning when I look out the window and see what kind of mess the weather has made.
Speaking of making things, I made a good bit of music today with my friend Rob, and we also got to talking about RONJA. Thanks to a VGA connector pinout, we were able to figure out how to make a multichannel optical link for a high-bandwidth low-loss remote monitor, via either fiber or air optics. You can see the basic layout above.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cooking Again...

Due to work and my parents' anniversary dinner today, the only thing I made, other than a few shoe sales, was breakfast. At that, I only really helped make it.
Also, today I discovered RONJA, Reasonable Optical Near Joint Access. Watch this space for more development of RONJA repeaters and RRNA (Reasonable Radio Network Access) projects. This seems like a cool project to jump in on.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Water Sensor, Take 2

Sorry about yesterday. I spent the day with my parents and my Grandma, and had a good time.
Anyhow, today so far consisted of a lot of running around. My parents are very enthused about the water sensor, and so I've created the full-scale production model, which will be placed up in the basement ceiling, under the bathroom tub. Hooray!
My favorite part of this is the tensioning method I used. There are three little blocks holding wires that connect to the upper electrode: the screen. These are taught, and so suspend the screen above the metal contact plate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Today included a goodly bit of hanging around, waiting for the weather to clear up. It didn't till the afternoon, so I worked on previewing some of the material we'll be doing in my multivariable calculus class. I also worked further on my newest piano composition, and made a Möbius chain, as you can see above. Yes, each of those little links is a Möbius strip. Fun, eh?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Water Sensor

Well, yesterday my dad and I took down a panel on the basement ceiling due to an apparent leak above it. Above you see my solution to the problem: a prototype water sensor that will light an LED when more than a drop or two of water is on it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Makings of a Meal

Today, I composed another song, made a commitment for tomorrow, and made dinner.
Dinner was tortellini with creamy garlic-marinara sauce, chicken with spinach and provolone, and a caesar salad. The new song, well, I'll probably upload a midi of that tomorrow. And the commitment is to take Katie's brother Matt down to school tomorrow. 9a we begin the road trip!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dry Ice

We got some ice cream today, and they packed it in with dry ice.
Obviously, when I got home, this meant time for fun. I first dropped
some in a cup of water and got that to bubble and fog. But then an
idea hit me: I put some in a used spring water sport bottle, and let
the pressure build up until the valve on top popped. Hmm... releasing
gases... That's when I put the drip of dish detergent into the cup.
Sure enough, a column of foggy bubbles began spilling over the edge
in what one might call a stable foam. I then put a drop or two in the
sport bottle, as you see there above. Quite fun!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday's Fun

With all my running around today, I can say that I still got to make something: a mess. Yeah, I know. I barely have time to do this post, and I'm not certain if I'll be able to do one tomorrow.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More Google Earth...

More fun with Google Earth...
The first one up there is a double overlay of a topographical map and hi-res aerial photo of a piece of real estate that my parents are looking at purchasing.
The next one is from a fun little project I did at school, the Drewcam. I overlaid the field of view (FOV) image onto the Google Earth landscape, and was able to profile the geographic features that you can see in the camera's view.
Finally, the last one is a map that my dad and I have been working from of Little Ferry Farm in the 1870s. This approximates the area where the supposed nitroglycerine blast was.
Neat stuff, eh? I've really gotta start working on making physical things again, though...
Although, I will say that my friend Terry's power supply project might afford that opportunity. Updates on that as events warrant.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ah, Wednesday...

And Katie's home from Costa Rica! Lots of running around today, and the only thing I got to make was a friend: Google Earth is out for Macintosh!!! Woohoo!!!
Oh, and Katie and her folks loved the pie. Oh, happy day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mmm... Pie...

Today saw me make a weird scheduling lapse. I thought my girlfriend was coming home from Costa Rica today, but, instead, she's coming in tomorrow. Not much of a big deal there, with the exception that I was running around tracking flights all day for nought.
Anyhow, she's a big fan of cherry pie. To be precise, a fabulous version of it wherein tapioca is used instead of corn starch as the thickening agent. She's used this pie to "accidentally" ruin me to all other cherry pies. Well, as her welcome-back-present, I've baked her one such pie, the first I've ever made. Let's see how it goes over tomorrow...

Monday, January 09, 2006

A fool...

Today, well, today was spent working on things around the house, and with helping my dad with some research. We're working on figuring out the case of a nitroglycerine explosion in the 1870s down in Little Ferry, NJ. We've made a good bit of progress. Also, today saw me make a fool of myself while trying on a renfaire costume my friend Rob had put together. Picture to come later.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I know it sounds lame, but that's what I made today. I made tracks across the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area with the rest of the NJSAR crew. Afterwards it was come home and laze about time.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Well, the thing I made today was music. I was out at the Campmor holiday party tonight, being one of the few people who were not drunk off their butts by the time they left. I have to get to bed, as tomorrow morning at 8.30 I've got a SAR drill.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Four Words...



In the meantime, I've been working on making the backpack fully complete, and with the addition of clips and such for my radio, GPS, and cell phone, I think I've got the makings of my full nav/com package, along with room for a backpacking tent and sleeping bag, if not a ridge-rest or therm-a-rest. I've even got a pillow in there! My SAR bag is ready, and, I think, so am I. Now I just have to be sure to pick up my maps and Bryan's gaiters at work tomorrow...

And yes, that's what I made today: modifications to my backpack.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What time does the penguin on top of the telly explode?

Eight o'clock.
Intercourse the penguin!

I spent a good bit of today making up and packing my kit for the search and rescue drill I'll be doing with NJSAR on Sunday. We'll be hiking around Anthony Wayne for a while (i.e. 7 miles). I went in to work this evening to find that I wasn't actually scheduled, and found I'd been reading my co-worker Matt's schedule, a line below mine. They let me stay the four hours to re-organize the Books and Maps section, anyway.
I'm reading another great book, now that I'm done with The Know-it-All: Spider Robinson's Callahan's Key. A fabulous read. I just regret not reading the other books in the series first, but this just looked too interesting at the Ridgewood library to pass up, and they didn't have any others from the series.
Apologies for no pictures; further updates as events warrant...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

White LED Interlude

Let me start by remarking that if you're ever in the northern Bergen County, NJ area and need some sort of small electronic part, you should really head on over to the Radio Shack in Midland Park. They actually know what the heck they're talking about over there! The fellow who helped me find the white LEDs actually made certain I had a resistor to put in front of the LED so that I wouldn't toast it! Needless to say, I was impressed. Every other Radio Shack I've been to recently would rather sell me a cell phone than help me find a 2N2222 transistor that I'd asked for. Highly inappropriate. As I was about to leave, the guy said that he guessed he'd see me back there again. I told him that when I needed parts, I'd know where to go.
Speaking of northern Bergen County, the Ridgewood Public Library has recently undergone an extensive renovation. If you get a chance, go have a look-see. It's beautiful!
But about today's project...
Last night my parents and I had a wonderful visit with our next-door neighbors, Fred and Jane. Fred showed us a splendid 3-D woodcut that he'd gotten from Germany. It was laser-cut wood. We were all duly impressed. Fred then told us of the one thing that was missing: there'd been a light hanging from the top and illuminating the inside. He then showed us the light, a rather heavy-handed affair, looking for all the world like a nightlight from the 1970s. For all we know that's what it might have originally been. We decided a small white LED lamp might look better after I demonstrated how it would look with my LED penlight. And so, I was commissioned to build one. That's what I made today, as you can see above. I happened to have an old power indicator LED PC board from an old computer laying around, which made things easier. I drilled a .25" hole for the switch, and connected the LED, switch, and 2xAAA battery box.
Ét violá!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's Being Framed!

Yesterday I saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Go see it, you won't regret it. My friends Rob and Pete were discussing the allegories and allusions to Christianity and Christian mysticism in the story. They missed so many of them that it's not even funny. It really isn't! As for today...
Well, today was a day for sitting around, doing a couple of things that had to get done, and most of all, working on my newest project: converting an old travel alarm clock/calendar/calculator to a new housing. What new housing? A picture frame. To be precise, I'll be using the extremely postmodern-looking CLIPS frame from Ikea. I've still got more soldering to do, so it'll probably be done tomorrow.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Link...

You must go to this site. This webcomic is just my speed. As a Mac user who's also an amateur inventor of sorts, I positively love what they're doing. Check out the archives, and you'll see what I mean.

Trombum? Drumbone?

What should I call this thing? It's a tunable drum that works like a trombone.
Last night I had a bit of a party over at my house, and in the midst of it all, my friend Nick and I got to talking about Potato Guns, the US winning the space race, and other fun stuff. That's when the PVC pipe came out of the back room.
Now, a word about my parties. They are dry. That is to say there's no alcohol involved whatsoever. We're all crazy enough, though, so some really weird things get done, said, and, as you can see here, made.
The PVC pipe in question was sitting in my workshop, just the other side of the wall from the room in my basement that we were having the party in. Next came the tubing and the duct tape. By the time that Nick had left and it was down to just three of us, I had a funnel involved. I asked my friend Joe what he thought I could do with this, and he merely shrugged. Tape over the funnel provided a handy drumhead, and some duct tape on the slider pipe made for a slightly better seal.
I already had a fixed length pipe (see the first picture above) to shove in the end with a pretty good seal, and viola! The drumbone, trombum, trum, or whatever you'd call it, was born.
Hear it in action!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My First Mechanism

Yes, that's a clock movement.
I've unbuilt and reassembled this one.
The interesting thing about this is the part that you don't see. Somehow, in my variously well-spent youth of dissasembling small household items, I never got around to a quartz clock movement. Let me tell you, it's been an experience. The gears are tiny, and the motor isn't so much a motor as a solenoid with a magnetic bead between the poles. It's amazing how it works!

What I did:
I took apart and reassembled the movement (technically cheating, since I did it last year, i.e. 3 days ago). I then put the small ball-chain on the minute hand part of the crown assembly, and put the zip tie on the hour hand part of the crown assembly. I then put the copper 12-hour reset delimiter wire on. This can now act as either a variable minute or variable hour timer, and can either pull something with the chain, or switch something with a wire glued to the zip tie. Ladies and gentlemen, a mechanical timer, for your viewing pleasure.

What I'm getting myself into...

So this is my new year's resolution list, in order of importance:
-Work harder in my courses.
-Write a blogger journal every day.
-Make something new (or work on making something new) every day.

 To explain a little bit, I'm taking somewhere around 20 credits worth of courses at Ramapo College as a Physics major. As for the journal, I've started so many notebooks and journals that it's ridiculous how few are filled completely. Actually, the first time I ever completely filled a notebook was this past semester in my Calculus 2 class. How sad is that? I figure what with being able to e-mail blog entries to myself, I should be more than able to work through my apparent lack of attention to notes.
 Recently I've been reading the book, The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs, wherein the Esquire editor decides to read the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica, and it has inspired me to make some sort of quest for myself. This year will hopefully see me make some very cool things, and some interesting journal entries in the meantime.
 Now, I understand that there are some very easy cop-outs (oh, how I loathe that phrase...) that I could make here, and I intend to, whenever possible, avoid them. So, some ground rules:
-The thing that I'm making may not have schoolwork as its primary purpose.
-Only a restriction of access to both e-mail and web can justify a lack of entry for a day. However, if I get access, I must do a backdated entry.
-Finals and important assignments for school or my internship take precedence over writing or making something. That being said, backdated entries are still okay.

Wish me luck!