Summer 2012 Update

8.4.2012 – Saturday

It’s been more than a little difficult to sit down and adapt thoughts to words.

I’ve begun to dable with video. I’m now using a Canon T3i DSLR and have upgraded my lenses to include two very sharp, fast lenses: a Sigma 10mm f/2.8 fisheye and a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 standard zoom. Rich, my wife’s grandfather, is a retired machinist and has recently honed his skill of making model engines. Not table top models – but actual machines that move under their own power, make noise, and threaten the straightness of errant fingers when running (if bandwidth allows, watch in HD).

I wasn’t content simply videotaping a finished product, so I returned with a challenge for Rich. Here’s the back story: The Ol’ man and I are into firearms for the purpose of target shooting and hunting. One firearm that Dad and I enjoy shooting and recently assembled (for both target and hunting) needed one final modification – a brass catcher. I researched and selected what I thought would be the perfect finishing touch and ordered a 3Bucc Inc brass catcher (a canvas pouch that mounts to a semi-automatic firearm and catches ejected shells). It didn’t fit. And so the machining challenge was set. I returned to my experiments with video and this time brought along a sturdy tripod. The end result was an aluminum bracket with stainless steel hardware.

I’m still taking photos when I find the chance. A storm passed through a few weeks ago and after work I had an opportunity to snap a shot of the passing clouds.

A little after the storm rolled through, Negaunee had a fireworks show as part of the Pioneer Days festivities. The next day when I sorted through my photos I found this cool shot of a green firework.

Meanwhile family activities have included trips to Lake Superior. I love that we can drive a few miles, park, walk a few hundred feet, and find ourselves on a beech where as far as the eye can see there isn’t a single sign of a man-made anything.

And as for the cabin… I’ve only made the trip two or three times so far this year. The battery monitor is acting up a bit. I identified a bad connection between the battery monitor and the ethernet cable in the cabin. The heavy shielded outdoor ethernet cable is a beast when it comes to crimping on a connector. It’s solid core wire and most crimp on ends are best suited to stranded wire. Once I adjusted the connector the problem was resolved and the battery monitor was back in good working form. I may have to re-crimp the end with a brand new connector in the future if the problem pops up again. The bad connection is indicated by the Victron BMV-600s reading 15 Amps regardless on input from the PV panels or output through the inverter.

There was also a close call with the batteries this spring. The PV charge set points were at 13.8V float and 14.7V absorb from winter and I hadn’t had a chance to change the charge points for summer. On June 24th I checked the batteries and adjusted the charger to 13.5V float and 14.5V absorb. Between 14 golf-cart batteries I added 6 liters of deionized water. Each battery had a water level even with the top of the plates or plates exposed 1-3mm to the air. It was a close call and a reminder to periodically check the water level of the batteries. Ideally I’d like to check the water level every 3 months with extra attention given to the transition from winter to spring and fall to winter when I adjust the charge set-points.

During one trip to the cabin I had a chance to photograph some of our recent undertakings. This is the charging station at the top of the basement stairway. The plate with with four automotive outlets is in it’s finished form. The shelf will be replaced once the wall is paneled and we finish the stairway in pine tongue and groove paneling.

The cabin 12V system is fed from this distribution panel. Below the distribution panel is the DC timer for the kitchen LED light fixture. Our DC wiring station is located next to the AC distribution box in the cabin basement.

The last photo from the cabin is the wood room. Rough cut pine tongue and groove (no need to use finished paneling in a wood room – the firewood would just dent the paneling) was recently put up this July. The Ol’ man is currently filling the basement with white-ash paneling of several widths as we gear up to panel the rest of the basement and create a second living space. Eventually 2/3 of the basement will be a wide open game room with a pool table, dart board, and possibly a pinball and/or foosball table. The remaining 1/3 will be sectioned off for utilities (water heater, pressure tank, wood room, pantry, storage).

One final photo and video from July:

EAA AirVenture 2012. This is a B-17 Flying Fortress WWII bomber. I got to take a 30 minute flight on it and took a short video of the trip.

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