Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

my idea of fun

I combined my projects requiring polyeurethane finishes to minimize use of paint brushes or brush cleaning. It was hard waiting for all of them, but this batch size was just about right for the sanding and painting phases. A new shelf over Missy’s kitchen window is sturdy, expansive and takes up virtually no space physically or visually. The mug rack fit neatly in, freeing up a little bit of shelf space, displaying some of our mug collection with a look I like. An interesting touch I put in was tipping the pegs up so gravity would help keep the mugs on them. The print on Missy’s monthly calendar has been too small for me to read unaided. I bought a […]

my multi-lingual woodshop

I measure, speak, write and calculate in inch-foot as well as metric. Of course when I am purchasing materials at the hardware and building supply stores I have to use feet, inches and fractions thereof. But when it comes to working on my own, metric is typically easier to use. Finding the middle of a piece three feet eight and a quarter inches long is not as easy as dividing 112 centimeters in half. Millimeters handsomely split centimeters into tenths. 52.5 is easy to remember, repeat and work with compared to 1 foot 8 and 3/16 inches. I am much more likely to get the right number working with metrics than “a bit over 18 3/4”. Changing scales is also […]

feeling lucky

Not in the way supercop Clint Eastwood used the phrase … No, I am truly appreciating the good fortune that put me here … and now. Not quite a year into The Great Cleanup And Rehabilitation of the farmstead and TODAY I got the Round Tuit designated to my workbench. Okay, it is a reloading bench with other potential uses. The trick was to lower my expectations. This one is “TEMPORARY”. That means it doesn’t have to be perfect, or even as close to that as my rudimentary woodworking skills usually gets. I do not compromise on the engineering. NOTHING I build breaks. Period. That would be gross failure. Nope, nope and more nope. But Pretty? Wuffo? Then I sit […]

semi-auto mousetrap, Gen III

In response to what I have experienced as a chicken rancher, I just built my third semi-auto mousetrap. The first one had to be inside a chicken coop that had baby chicks along with adult chickens and roosters. I had to study up to figure out a way to eliminate a major community of mice who were eating chicken feed, drinking their water and, most importantly depositing mouse poop all over everything. The odds on their creating an unhealthy environment were very high. While the essence of this device came from other people, I adapted, adjust and re-invented it my own way. . . . . . . . One of the features I did not like from my […]

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 […]

handheld radio recommendation

Tytera MD-390 Progress in two-way radios is similar to that in all other electronics. That is to say this recommendation will not be the optimum choice years from now. Nevertheless, this radio can serve you well for many years. The other caveat is there are many good choices. This is only one of them. I am making this suggestion to help the novice find a solid handheld transceiver that is well received within the amateur radio community. In a crowded field of feature-rich radios, the MD-390 has most of what you would want while being in the lower part of the $25 to $500 price range ($130). IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you order this in the 400-480MHz UHF (ultra-high-frequency) model […]

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, […]

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 […]