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Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

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Behold, The Semi-Cordless Drill! [Jul. 28th, 2014|09:33 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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Several years ago, I had a quite adequate cordless drill set I got for Xmas one year. That was, I must repeat, several years ago. Then, I bought a heavily discounted cordless drill set with a removable head that could convert from drill to jig saw to sander, and all with the same battery pack that my first one used! This gave extra life to my first, now fading battery pack.

Then, with none of the battery packs working, I picked up another drill and battery pack in a pawn shop for ten bucks. The pack it came attached to was working better than the others in my collection, and my charger kept it running for a few more years.

Then, I had a drawer filled with three dead drills and a collection of potential toxic nickle cadmium batteries just waiting to poison a landfill. Dope that I am, I was determined to prevent that from happening. I bought a mediocre corded drill and resigned myself to packing extension cords for the rest of my drilling days.

Then, a glimmer of hope. solarbird posted a small lead acid gel cell from a UPS unit for sale, cheap. Soon thereafter, I inherited a cordless string trimmer from my sister that needed nothing but a new battery.

After I disassembled the string trimmer battery holder, I noticed how darned small the thing was. Why, it was almost as small as the little batteries that used to power my drills. And it put out the same voltage.This got me to thinking, which is most always bad.Collapse )
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The Optimistic Futurist [Sep. 10th, 2012|12:15 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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It's old, so I apologize if this is old news to you, but seriously, check out Chris Martenson's podcast interview with Frances Koster. Dr. Koster runs something called The Optimistic Futurist, where he documents efforts to improve food, energy and fuel security in ways that make local investments in one's community both profitable and of benefit to the community Seriously, this guy is everything home_effinomic hopes to be!

For the poddy-device impaired, Chris provides a transcript! As an example of Teh Awesome, what would you, someone with money to invest and concerned about the old air conditioning unit in the local high school that keeps the power bills sky-high? The school district has no money to replace it, so why bother? Frances says,

An investor might for example go to the local school system and say I will fix the following nine buildings and I will loan you the money and you will pay it back to me out of a percentage of what you no longer pay the utility. And I also by the way get to keep the tax credits which you cannot use and get quite handsome rates of return while doing good for their local community – looking good at the Rotary Club and so on. These are enormously secure investments. You are not banking on a gold bubble or other volatile things; you are banking on the fact that energy prices are not going to go down.


He also notes of the tax credits that many municipalities are legal forbidden to take advantage of these credits, so it's not like they are going to waste.

When I have time, I'm going to mine his web site for nuggets such as these. Enjoy!
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Estimation and Extrapolation [Jan. 16th, 2012|02:52 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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Just a couple of days ago, I shared a few bill and usage graphs I was goofing with. After posting, I started poking about on the utility's web site to find what the future might bring. I found something useful.Collapse )
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Utility Rates and The Economy [Jan. 14th, 2012|02:27 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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One of the chief reasons I started this forum was that I was reared with a variation on the Mel Brooks maxim, "Hope for the best; expect the worst." Therefore, we should all simultaneously look forward to our bright and shiny futures . . . while making preparations for the darker days ahead. Utility rates are a perfect example of the law of consequences both intended and not.Collapse )
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Making a Mini Dust Storm [Aug. 6th, 2011|11:51 am]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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Almost a year ago I shared my cheap dust collector. albionwood couldn't leave well enough alone, though, and gave me reference to a fascinating page by Bill Pentz. This poor woodworker suffered from chronic lung problems brought on by years of wood dust he inhaled in his shop, and decided to try engineering a solution.

From his site:

All fine invisible dust poses a serious long term problem and fine wood dust is particularly bad. The peer reviewed medical research clearly shows every fine invisible dust exposure causes a tiny but measurable respiratory capacity loss and some of this loss becomes permanent, so all exposed to fine invisible dust develop respiratory damage and capacity loss. This dust poses so much health risk that just two tiny thimblefuls of fine invisible is enough for a large two-car garage based shop to fail an EPA air quality test.

(Emphasis Bill's. Actually, he emphasized in red letters.)


He developed a cyclonic dust collector that manipulated the exhaust and allowed the dust within the airflow to settle quite a bit before reaching the filter. His design and build uses bent sheet metal, a medium I've worked with a bit in the past but find altogether too sharp and unforgiving and expensive and sharp. Did I mention sharp?

Bill has another distinctive advantage over me. Head over to his site and marvel at the space he has available in his shop. I, by contrast, am forced to squeeze my work into a single-car garage. Were I to actually clean this garage, I might be able to cut, fold, roll and bleed my way around a 4'X 8' sheet of metal, but it's doubtful. The previous owner of this house installed shelves and workbenches that, while wonderful to use, suck up the available elbow room. A full sheet of metal was pretty much out of the question.

Which leads to follow-up question: If not sheet metal, than what?Collapse )
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Conspicuous Conservation [Jul. 23rd, 2011|02:53 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
I had a moment of extreme coincidence the other day. I spent the early part of the day transcribing a bit of interesting info from Oren Harman's The Price of Altruism. Let me share the coincidence.Collapse )

And now, let me rant.Collapse )
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Cheap Scaffolding [Jun. 16th, 2011|07:15 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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Everyone who's done siding or roofing work knows the conundrum: one must be able to move not only on an elevated plane, but also be able to either move laterally across that elevation . . . or move a lot of ladders. Furthermore, some areas are less amenable to safe ladder placement than others. Today's project was one such ladder-resistant locale, with a hillside and uneven base providing absolutely no way to safely raise a ladder.

I've found a cheap way around this problem, at least in a fairly limited circumstance where the object to be roofed is supported by wooden posts. The key is in the screws, but just the tips.Collapse )
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Futuristic Nostalgia [Jun. 7th, 2011|05:10 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
This is just the kind of thing I find myself drawn to, no matter how practical they actually prove.



It's a treadle-powered kitchen appliance suite, with blender, coffee grinder and immersion blender attachments. Yes, yes, I know; electrical versions of these same gadgets are ubiquitous and available at a fraction of the cost. Newer ones also don't come with required dishwasher-sized frames, just a simple cord. I'm attracted, though, to the simplicity. One can see exactly how the torque is provided. (Better get a plexiglass or Lexan cover for the flywheel assembly if you have pets or kids, though. That way they can watch but not touch.) Stylistically, it's also well constructed and aesthetically pleasing.

This is nothing new, of course. Before electricity rewrote the rules on home and farm appliances, gadgets like this were common.



If you're off-grid, exploring the human power gizmos might be a good idea. For me, as long as the rain falls and the snow melts, electrical power in the Pacific Northwest will be far too cost-competitive to warrant purchases like the nifty foot kitchen for any reason . . . other than the cool factor.
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Making Cheap Tools [Jul. 26th, 2010|02:39 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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I have for years been more interested in making tools than actually using them. Why? Whenever I use a tool, I over time (sometimes seconds, sometimes years) discover an irritant, a draw-back inherent in the tool's design, its use, or both. Sometimes these drawbacks are merely me bitching. Sometimes they reflect a limitation that restricts what I had planned to do with the darned thing.

Sometimes, I put the tool aside and move onto another project, preferably one that doesn't require its use. Sometimes, I try to engineer a solution to the perceived problem. Often that solution simply involves an attachment, an add-on, a doo-hickey readily available at my local tooly depot . . . but that involves money. Worse, it involves me parting with my money. Sometimes I break down and splurge, but often I actually fix the problem by building something myself. Why? Why should I spend hours and hours working on a problem fixed with the wages I would earn in half that time?

For me, that's the wrong question. For me, it's more important to solve a problem on my own than rely on the so-called "tried and true" solutions those with deep pockets choose.

(Actually, I, too, have pretty deep pockets. I also have very short arms.)

I've been doing this so long I don't even think about it, until I meet someone else who doesn't think that way. Then I'm reminded that I'm either a genius or a moron. I've decided to let you be the judge, showing you a tool I built a year or so ago. So, tell me, is this genius or a very real and clinical sign that I'm a moron?Collapse )
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Defining the Parameters in Low-Impact Construction [Jul. 20th, 2010|10:07 pm]
Home Effinomics, or Effin' Around the House

peristaltor
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Catherine Mohr discusses the depth of analysis she went into in planning her new home. Thought it might apply to you folks, or at least prove somewhat interesting.
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