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Archive for April, 2010

WS-1080 Sensors

WS-1080 as packaged

The Ambient Weather WS-1080 weather station has been operational and gathering data for several days now. So far I’ve been very pleased with the unit.

Living several miles north of Fort Wayne, we often have slightly different temperatures and weather conditions than those reported by the television stations and weather websites like weather.com or wunderground.com.

It’s nice to monitor the live telemetry and review the 24-hour highs/lows and graphs right from my Lazyboy.

Based on my limited use thus far, I’ve already taken a preference to viewing the data on the computer rather than navigating through the receiver’s touch screen display.

Software-
The software package that came with the unit is EasyWeather 6.1. This software does a nice job for basic monitoring.

In doing my product pre-purchase research I learned about Sandaysoft’s Cumulus, which has become my primary montoring application.

Cumulus is a free (donationware) application that enables computer based telemetry monitoring of a full range of data (click on the image for a larger view of the dashboard). It also provides a nice assortment of graphs including wind speed, outside temp, inside temp, pressure, rainfall rate (in/hr), wind direction, temp min-max-avg, humidity, rain today, and daily rain totals.

Cumulus Screenshot

Cumulus also provides an option to update a website with realtime data (via FTP). It even includes a template for the site, so you can get it up quickly.

Now that I’ve got the unit up and running it’s time to get it mounted in it’s permanant location- on the old Dish Network bracket mounted on the roof.

Links-

Amazon has a newer version, the Ambient Weather WS1090 Weather Station which as an atomic clock and data logging- It’s a great unit for the price!  Check it out HERE…
Sandaysoft- Cumulus Software (good stuff!)

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For the last month the weather here has been unseasonably warm and sunny.  This has given the berries a great running start. 

While watering the containers today, after another fine day in the mid eighties, I had a few exciting surprises waiting for me…

1.) The strawberry blossoms are starting already.  There are only four, so far, but it’s a start.

2.) Both  transplant blueberries are showing signs of life.  I don’t have high expectations for either of them this year, but maybe next year.

3.) Every branch on the cherry tree is budding!  I was wondering if it would make it.  It was in pretty rough shape when I did the spring cleanup a few weeks ago.  This was a pleasant surprise.

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With the spring cleanup of the landscape underway, I’ve realized that there is an abundance of good fire starting tinder all around.

The river birch out front drops a lot of small twigs all winter (actually year round).  It also provides an amble supply of loose birch bark which I can save for months worth of fires.

In the back, the white pine’s sappy pine cones, which dropped in the fall, are now open and dry.  In addition, there is an ample supply of small dry branches that were never pruned out.  While I’ll leave most of these in place to serve as an animal safe habitat, I can use some for kindling.  Some of the large twigs will work well for featherstick practice.

Thanks to the winter winds, there were strips of white birch bark scattered about the landscape.  While I wouldn’t remove any of the loose bark from these young trees, anything they naturally donate is much appreciated.

I’ve also saved the fluffy tops from the ornamental grasses I cut down a few weeks ago.  These wil provide a nice experiment to see how well they take a spark.

This past winter we lost one of our white pines.   I’m hoping that, since it died during the winter, most of the resin dropped to the stump.  If this is the case, there might be an opportunity to make some resin sticks from the stump.  The diameter of this tree is only between four or five inches, so I’m not sure if it’s big enough, but it’s worth a try.

However things work out with white pine, I should have plenty of tinder material to practice my fire starting  and bushcraft skills this spring and summer.  Fun times to come, right in my own backyard.

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End Result- Rubber Paver Floor

After a long, cold. snowy winter, the indoor-outdoor carpet on the screen porch was looking pretty bad.

We’ve discussed replacing this carpet several times throughout the last year.  From the looks of it this spring we knew we wanted to do it before summer. 

We considered ceramic and porcelain tile options but had concerns about the tiles cracking in the winter, being slippery when wet, getting scratched by the feet on the patio furniture, having to deal with the maintenance of the grout, hard on the knees, and the tiles being too cold to the touch when the weather gets cool outside.

After a thorough research period, we agreed on the Flexible Rubber Pavers, from Gen-Rubber of Galion, Ohio.

The pavers look somewhat like cast-concrete bricks but are made from 100% recycled tire rubber.  They measure 16″x16″x3/8″ and come in several colors like brown, red and grey.  We opted for the Brown Brick color.

Lacie supervising

These pavers met our criteria of low maintenance, cost-effective, easy to install (or replace), soft on the knees, very durable, and most importantly, they look good!  An extra bonus, the tiles are Made in the USA!!

I purchased a few to test.  I wanted to see if they would off-gas, get really warm in the sun, or lose their finish after being exposed to the elements.  I places four pavers in the porch to see if they ‘smelled’ (which they didn’t) then I placed them under the  hose spigots outside.  After several weeks in the elements and being walked on they still look as good as the day I placed them in service.

We purchased another eighty for the porch from Menards.  On sale, they cost $4.99 each.  It took us 74 pavers to complete the whole screen porch, with a half-dozen extras for use around the landscape or in the garage, the whole project cost less than $400 to complete (before tax).

We really like these pavers for this application.  After removing the carpet, I swept the floor and placed the pavers.  I cut the edge pavers to size (with a sharp utility knife), no special tools needed.  No glue, no levelling, no special floor prep, nothing fancy.  Place them end-to-end and trim the edge tiles to fit.  The whole project (not including pulling up the old crappy indoor-outdoor carpet) took less than two hours to complete.

I wish every project was this easy to complete!

Old crappy carpet

I have no relation to either Gen-Rubber or Menards, besides being a cash paying customer of both.

Related links

Gen-Rubber, LLC

Menards (one of my favorite stores- someday I’ll write a post about Menards and why I like them so much)

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I’ve recently stumbled upon another really cool podcast, Outdoors Aloud!  The podcast is available on iTunes or via the Woods Monkey website.

This is a relatively new podcast, with just eight published weekly episodes (at the time of this writing).

The podcast is hosted by Garrett Lucas of Woods Monkey.com and Adam Francis of Equip2Endure.com.

They have a great conversation style that has a very natural feel; covering a wide variety of outdoor, hiking, camping, bushcrafting, gear reviews, and just plain old entertaining conversation topics.

If you are interested in hiking, camping, bushcrafting, wilderness survival, or the great out of doors, you may want to check out an episode or two (or eight).

Do you have any podcast recommendations that fall within the same genre?

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related links

iTunes Link for the Podcast

Woods Monkey

Eqip2Endure

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Mora of Sweden- Clipper FP-840

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the mailbox today to find the package with my new Mora Clipper.

I finally have a Mora in my knife collection!  I’ve been thinking about adding a fixed-blade bushcrafting knife to my collection for months.  As a novice bushcrafter, my first choice could be none other than a Mora.

After making a few quick feathersticks I quickly understood why nearly everything I’ve heard or read about the Mora was positive.  This sub $12US carbon steel knife seems well worth the money. It feels extremely comfortable in the palm of my hand.

For months I’ve looked for one locally but was unable to find a retailer that carried them.

After watching the “DIY – Knife Bowdrill Handhold Mod” YouTube video from David Wendall of BushcraftOnFire, I decided to finally order one.

I did some basic research and ended up ordering it on eBay from power seller Amoscutlery.  Not only did they offer it for an excellent price, their checkout, packaging and shipping speed was all fantastic!

Based on this transaction, they will be one of the first places I shop for gear in the future.

I can’t wait to give the knife a good workout tomorrow.

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related links

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=spisblog-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000HAOTB4&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr” href=”http://amzn.to/2lGHeQ8″ target=”_blank”>Amazon has the carbon steel version for less than $15US

Amoscutlery eBay Seller Profile

Mora of Sweden (Frosts Mora English version)

BushcraftOnFire’s YouTube Channel

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Windy aftermathWhen I got home from work today I was surprised to find the growhouse on its side with all of its contents scattered upon the ground around it.

I thought I paid particular attention when I placed it down wind of the log rack, and even monitored it during some breezy evening earlier this week.  It appeared to hold fast so I didn’t think I needed to tie it to the log rack.

All was going well until I removed the two transplant blueberries from the bottom shelf.   I failed to consider that these were serving as the ballast for the whole growhouse.

Considering the mess, there weren’t too many damaged plants (the photo was taken after I regrouped everything).

Seeing that we have good weather forecast for the near future, I was thinking about transplanting many of these starts into their final containers.   I guess my decision has been made for me.

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