Friday, April 6, 2018

The Cottonwood Trail

I've been doing handyman work as a sideline for a little over a year now and it has been both enjoyable and profitable. I would like to thank all of you that have allowed me to be your handyman. One of my more interesting encounters led to my discovery of the Cottonwood Trail on Lawsons Fork Creek. It seems I'm becoming more connected to this creek.. It seems to be everywhere I'm fond of frequenting. I enjoy riding a motorcycle and often ride on Hanging Rock road which borders the creek there at Valley Falls. It also borders the property at USC Upstate... its not so obvious there but I recently discovered that there are some nice trails alongside the creek there. Most recently I discovered the Cottonwood Trail by accident... I have a customer whose property is very close to the creek in the Fernwood area. After finishing a job there I saw a sign for the trail and decided to check it out. It is a 115 acre preserve complete with a boardwalk and nice trails in the heart of Spartanburg... if you've never been there you should check it out.



This is the view from my friends window... Lawsons Fork Creek is just across the road... they had this killer piece of glass art... A 12 inch cube of  fused glass with an incredible amount of detail in the colored cube in the center.



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Handyman's ESP32 Home Automation Web Server

The ESP32 Handyman home automation web server is up and running. The ESP32 connects to your local WiFi network and then you can connect via your cell phone or your computer or tablet and control eight devices. These are hard wired to an eight relay device which you can see in my previous post. The ESP32 serves up the webpage and switches the eight relays which are in turn wired to the devices you want to control. Virtually all of my lighting is led types. In my shed / shop area I have at least ten led light fixtures all on one circuit. I checked the load with an amp meter and it was less than two amps. The relay switches are rated for 10 amps so no problem there.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Alexa Home Automation R&D

I spent the last couple of weeks getting up to speed on some of the home automation tools that are available off the shelf and home brew versions as well. Many of the components can be used with the Alexa and similar devices. I picked up a couple of the Echo Dot 2nd generation devices and have some of the remote control devices that work with it on the way.  I can see where this thing might be a bit addictive as well as being capable of some pretty sophisticated uses.

I picked up one of these ESP32 boards and it's what got me on the home automation bandwagon. I didn't really know much about it when I bought it but in researching some of its capabilities I learned that it and its predecessor the ESP8266 can be used as a remote device to be controlled by an Alexa. The 32 board is still pretty bleeding edge but has a ton of capability. It has both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and a great deal of  information about them is available on the web.

It was a fairly easy undertaking to set up the ESP32 device as a webserver on my home wifi network that can control via a web page... 8 relays that can control lights or other low current devices.


Control by Alexa is not so well supported on the ESP32 but there are many examples using the ESP8266. I have a couple of them on the way.

I also have some Sonoff devices on the way as well that work with the Alexa or with a phone app right off the shelf.

I will be posting more on this undertaking as these parts arrive and get put online.

Stay tuned πŸ˜€

Sunday, March 4, 2018

It's Been Busy

Time flies when you are having fun. Close to having the old G Model Allis Chalmers ready to go.These are funky rear engine tractors from the late forties. Designed as a cultivator to plow between the rows of plants... you could look down between your legs and see it at work.




Made a little smoke yesterday with the old Allis Chalmers G model. I had done a valve job on it...
the block looks a bit like a 4 cylinder Briggs and Stratton with the valves in the block. Got the head back on yesterday and tried it with a little starting fluid just to see if it would fire. Put a new gas line on it and it fired right up... purred like a kitten.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years Resolution

I've not done very much posting here this past year... I'm hoping to step up my game a little... reconnected with an old friend of mine who wants to get a 29 model A Ford peach flat back into running condition. He's pretty serious about it and has even had heat and air installed in the shop where we will be working on it. Its a very nice place with a great view of Glassy Mountain.
A lot of folks learned to drive in one of these things back in the day. Its a custom flat bed that was used to haul peaches out of the orchard back when peaches were a big deal in Upstate South Carolina.
I don't think it needs a whole lot ... you sit on the wooden flat bed to drive.


He has some interesting toys and most could use a handymans touch 😎

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Getting Old is Hell... but it sure beats the alternative

As if I needed another reminder of just how old I'm getting... caught a late night wave surfing the net with no particular destination in mind. David Cassidy has passed away... Star Trek TNG turned 30 years old in 2017... Dale Earnhardt Jr rode into the history books.. I was never a big fan of Jr... more of a Tony Stewart guy... Danica went down in flames too... only 1 top ten finish this year... She's a cutie but seem to wreck in every race I watched... which was only a couple. Nascar... like the NFL... just aint what it used to be or maybe I'm just getting old too. The days of Richard Petty and and David Pearson just a faded memory... just like watching them on regular TV.

A new broadcast standard set to replace the current one which I had some hand in... working at WSPA when they switched over to HD TV 20 years ago now.   There is  new standard set to make existing TV's obsolete. WSPA is a shadow of its former self... it changed hands while I was there and has done so several times since... and now seems to make its living showing old reruns of Andy Griffith. They still dont have an HD camera on the eye in the sky helicopter... you can buy a drone with a 4K camera on it and do your own aerial video cheaper than a lot of cell phones. Some of them you can even control with your cell phone. Scary to think what a broadcast quality 4K camera might cost... not to mention all of the related equipment that goes with it.

TV itself seems to be showing signs of extinction... youboob and cell phones that fit in your hand made in third world countries by companies with their headquarters on some obscure island and cost as much or more than the huge old console color TV's with their massive picture tubes. Most of the cost going to going to a choice few at the top.

It appears that I have gotten a bit off track as seems to be norm for getting old and for most ventures onto the net. Our form of government seems to be getting pretty old too... old geezers with lots of makeup... still arguing about immigration and doing nothing but spending money and lives in far away places with no end in sight.

But the year 2020 is just over the hill... it has a bit of a science fiction ring to it the year 2020. I distinctly remember pondering how old we would be in the year 2000 long ago on the playground during recess at Startex Elementary.  I'm a bit surprised I've made it this far but with a little luck I still be here bitching about something.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Swamp Man

On the way back from Daytona I saw the signs for Branchville near where 95 and 26 intersect. Branchville was the home of the Swamp Man whom I learned to blow glass from at his place there in the swamp on the banks of the Edisto River. Branchville I think is the location of the first train crossing in the state... from which its name came. The Edisto River is the longest black water river in the world... probably in part because its meanders and doubles back on itself so much there in the flatlands.

It was about 2000 when I found him online while looking for information about torch working glass. Thats where you make pieces using pyrex glass by heating it in a special torch. The Swamp Man had a furnace with a crucible inside full of molten glass... you dip a stainless steel blowpipe into it to "gather" molten glass on the end of it... then you add color... more glass.. and more heat... in the "glory hole" before blowing it into something cool.

A few years ago I was going to go back to visit and googled the swamp man only to find he had died a few years before that. All that to say this... I decided to stop by and see what if anything was left of his place in the swamp. Although it had been 17 years since my last visit and about 6 years since he had passed... I was able to find it.



There was a German lady there that owned it now and she let me look around the glass studio.... although they had stored some furniture and other stuff in there... it was pretty much as he had left it.... blowpipes in their holder... a bag of Spruce Pine Batch ready to go in the furnace... jars of color on the shelf. The annealing ovens ready for new pieces... spare burner parts... you have to burn a lot of propane to blow glass.

Rest in Peace Swamp Man

For more pics and info on the Swamp Man Check out these links
Swamp Man Had a Zest for Life
Swamp Man's work in the Whitehouse



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Daytona... There We Went

An ad on craigslist creates a little excitement here at the shadetree




What started innocently enough... looking at craigslist ad for sailboats near Daytona Florida... turned up one with promise... a check of the weather for the area showed 73- 82 for the week. Packed the bags and made an AirBnB reservation in Ormond Beach.

This would be my first B&B experience and it turned out to be a big part of the trip.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FPV Shakedown

I bought a little FPV copter a few months ago but only recently added video capability... using a gopro and tiny transmitter and also picked up a tablet like device that can monitor the video real time. The transmitter uses a usb type connector that connects to the gopro and using it for video transmission... the video quality is surprisingly good and in color as well... not nearly as good as the video that is recorded by the gopro but I was surprised at how good it was. I tried the FPV mode a little by viewing the tablet video... not easy to do... I'm not going to be happy until I get some of the FPV goggles... I think I'm going to ride down to Hobby Connection in Easley today and look at what they have... I'm afraid I want be able to see in them properly either with glasses or without... thats why I'm going to go have a look first hand.




Friday, November 18, 2016

FPV Quad Racing

The quad copter scene has evolved at quite a rapid pace since I first discovered a website a few years ago called DIY Drones. They now have 32-bit microprocessors with the math co-processor.... tiny sensors not much bigger than a pinhead that provide 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3 axis magnetometer or compass. The software that controls the copter and software tools for adjusting the myriad of settings that control just how rad your copter can fly is state of the art and supported by a huge number of folks that are always improving how it works.

First person view or FPV as it is referred to... is one of the more popular aspects of quad copter or drone flying where there is a camera on board that transmits video back real time and you fly the copter wearing goggles where you see only what the camera sees. It is a bit like virtual reality and you feel that you are actually in the copter flying it. Some of the flying is only possible with the goggles as they fly in places you could not possibly fly otherwise.

The popularity of this type flying has become pretty big and there are a huge number of youtube videos to prove it. I bought a used 250 size copter at the fall all electric fly in down in Woodruff. The 250 means 250mm between the props centers... so they are pretty small and pretty beefy as well... they have to be because this type of flying usually involves all too close encounters with the ground, trees, other copters, often with no damage other than a broken prop. Mine does not have the add ons needed for FPV flying but probably just a matter of time before I bite the bullet and go whole hog. Below is a video shot at an ad hoc  race site.