Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

12-volt lighting

Last month in Studio wired I showed you my breakthrough getting my studio 12-volt emergency lighting operating. I accomplished a couple of refinements recently. Besides the obvious advantages of having lights regardless of power grid failures, my 12-volt LEDs provide lighting options in addition to, instead of, or in combination with the various 110-volt lights I have installed. Prior to connecting up my antique meters, I was running on a gut-feeling that I had to be real conservative in my use of the 12-volt to avoid excessive depletion of the batteries, thus shortening their lives. The meters tell me I was wrong by A LOT. While modern digital meters consume almost no energy, my antique analog meters have a […]

Super Pup, part 1

Missy’s Beagle Lab cross is more the former than the latter. Scooter is fundamentally a pack dog. She’s been pack-less nearly all her life. That is not the best situation for a Beagle brain. It has her more nervous than she would be in her natural habitat. I am more attracted to dogs of substance. Size, muscle, but most of all, self confidence. I have surreptitiously been watching for a mastiff downline mixed with another medium sized breed. Mutt, but with some genetics that are known for peaceful self-confidence and strong intelligence. I also wanted a situation where the dog came to us without the baggage of a bad start in an ugly home. Most of all, I wanted […]

Studio wired

I feel like it has been a long time coming. But when I really think about it, we moved into a trashed homestead 7 months ago. We have made tremendous progress on numerous fronts. Nevertheless, today’s big success is the proper lighting and wiring of my studio. I have had a solar-recharged 12-volt grid-independent electrical system for about 5 years. The primary motivation was for my short and long range 2-way radios; my HAM gear. All of these radios run on 12-volts. You either run them on automotive-compatible systems, or you buy separate power inverters to turn you electrical grid power into juice they can use. That decision was the tipping point to have some independence from power deliveries, […]

Stand aside, groundhog.

I just realized a much more reliable predictor that spring is here; winter is gone. Both the woodbox by the fireplace, the kindling supply, and firewood storage outside the utility door are stuffed with fireplace-ready logs. The woodpile is in healthy shape as well. Being this prepared for cold surely must preclude its arrival. Well, that, and it is really nice outside. Blue sky, lovely sunshine, upper 40-degree temperatures, mud replacing much of the snow covering, insects on the move, kingfishers and geese arriving. Nature is telling me the pruning season is ending real soon. Get to work!

my first Instructable

I have seen a few that captured my interest, but what really caught my eye was their contest for first-time Instructable authors. They didn’t mind at all that I had published most of it here in one way or another and at my own instructable website The Fixer .biz. So I re-crafted my coffee making posts into one targeted to their audience. I do think that exercise improved the product. https://www.instructables.com/id/Roast-Your-Own-Super-fresh-Gourmet-COFFEE/

minus 18

It is probably my fault. Yesterday some great friends helped me blow insulation into our attic. I still have not personally visited the attic, but it doesn’t take a certified HVAC engineer to ascertain the need. I observe the snow melting off our roof, the prodigious icicles hanging from the eves and the 90%-efficient gas central heater’s inability to heat this house without the woodstove’s help and know our ceiling insulation is way below adequate. While a licensed HVAC contractor could double the price, they could not significantly improve the result. Tiny-town supplier Darby Distribution includes free rental of the chopper-blower with purchase of insulation – two pallets worth in this case. Their price beats Home Depot while delivering […]

tool tango

We are a couple months shy of five years since we started our move from our big subdivision home in Kuna, Idaho with my self-insulated, 5-car-garage shop to the Conner, Montana cabin. I spent the majority of that time estranged from my major tools. I had visitation rights, but the tools were not where I lived. I will never forget the gratitude I owe the great friend who housed them in a fully functional shop for me eight miles away. But, they were not where I lived. Today I am doing the happy dance around my tools. First things first, I fired up the mongo wood burner. Spotty insulation keeps my shop from getting real warm on cold days, but […]

alley dominated

In the grand war to make our homestead suitable, the alley between our house and garage has received little attention. The jetsam left behind by our squatters comprised much of what was heaped there, including the cat they abandoned. I am known to be anti-cat, but really am just against indoor cats; house-cats. Marmalade is a cool cat. A poorly kept secret is that I like having her around. She is a good rodent hunter, likes being scooped up, rumbles pleasantly when held, petted and fed, goes on walks with Mom, Missy and Scooter, handles herself with style, follows us around the yard, and is reasonably in control of her life. She and I seem to have worked out a […]