Recent Articles

Been a while…

..since I added anything here. Been busy. I am watching my baby girl, Zoe, full time now. Quite an adventure. Got another free pool that I am grafting on to the first one. Updated MythTV and it’s computer. Moved my shop into my garage. Finally did some redesign on the rain barrel. Bunch of landscaping. And too many other small projects to list.
I will be expanding on these things soon in the next few posts individually.
Just thought I would let anyone who actually reads this know I am still alive!

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Forklift controller

This entry should pull together all the things in my web site name.Bunch of electronics, code, and some machining to make it fit.
I have a 30+ year old fork lift at my shop that died. It was basically given to us to use for storing it by someone who got it for free.

It was broke when we got it and I got it working whit the original electronics. It has a blown transistor and huge diode that I replaced and it worked for about a year until it finally gave up. The main power section was made up of 16 large PNP transistors (they actually had International Harvester part numbers on them, didn’t know they did electronics!) and all of them were dead along with the 16 low ohm high wattage resisters that tied all the sections together and acted as fuses.
Partial picture:

I started looking for replacements and found them at NTE for over $20 each and the resisters were no longer available. So rather than patching it back together for over $300, I decided to design my own. Read More..

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So…I got married. And my Mom hits the floor.

Yes, it happened and the world hasn’t ended yet.
There will be some pictures to follow at some point.
It was (suppose) to be a fairly small and simple affair at the court house that ended up with 20 people showing up. Thanks to all who did. The next day we had a simple reception with around 35. Thanks again. Small by most accounts, but bigger that we expected when we started planning with fairly short notice.
We have one more party to go with our friends at our home.
We didn’t have a honey moon since we have been living together nearly 9 years, (and still broke) but we did spend the day in St. Louis. The following day though will make the “honey-moon” hard to forget.

My mother has Parkinson’s that is slowly getting worse. She actually is very active and does quite well, with an occasional spill. We happened to be there for one. She missed a step going into the house and fell on her back on a concrete floor in the garage. We were all sitting there at the time drinking our morning coffee, when BAM. I turned around to see her laying there, not moving. Needless to say everyone freaked out. I was sitting right next to her landing spot and started trying to do all the things you should do.
She was out cold, and not breathing.
I started to remember my 20 year old CPR training class and gave breaths then checked for pulse, which I could not find or hear so I moved on to compressions. I felt her ribs go “crunch” which turned out to be cracked from the fall, but still was not a good thing feel. Still not breathing, so carefully tilted her head again since there was now some blood on the floor under her head, and more breaths and she started to breath again and come around.
I carefully held a rag under her head to stop bleeding (she is on blood thinners, so I was a bit worried) then set it down and packed towels on each side so she would not move around.
By this time my new wife Brenda was on the phone with 911 and gave it to me to fill them in and stay on the line until the ambulance got there. Living in the country can have it’s disadvantages at times. Mom was becoming more alert and starting to feel the pain, so I tried to keep her calm. I told her she went to a lot of effort just to get a kiss from her son! Of course my mom is a pretty tough old bird and just before they loaded her into the ambulance she said, “All I want to say is… SHIT” which the EMT told her she could say as many times as she wants. I rode along to the hospital and more family showed up there and THEN I about threw up from coming down from all that happened.

Turns out, she is going to be fine. 4 cracked ribs, 9 stitches in her head, bad bruise on her arm where she landed with her ribs, and a big head ache. My niece works at the hospital in imaging so we know she was checked out good. They kept her over night and kicked her out the next day.

I sort of wanted to write this down just to get it out of my head. Didn’t mean to get so serious in my blog. See, we live 4-1/2 hours away and it was “lucky” we were there when this happened. My dad would not have been able to handle it alone and I was so glad I was there when she needed me. I am still amazed I was able to react the way I did.

I think most people wonder how they will react to a situation when it arises and (mom’s) SHIT hits the fan, and I guess in my case I did OK?

Now I just have to deal with being married! Oh and did I mention the kid on the way???

(Love ya, mom)

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MythTV Menus Disapeared!

I have been in the process of setting up a new MythTV frone end and having lots of little issues. I go through this every time, all the little tweaks I need to work with my hardware drive me nuts! I am going to be adding important things here as they come up.
I just rebooted the system and all the menus were gone! Just a blank background. I navigated by “feel” to the settings and the screen came up. I tried changing from OpenGL to QT, changed theme, no good. Started googling, nothing looked familiar. I finally realized I had unplugged the monitor the night before. Opened nvidia-settings, rescanned monitors, saved and that fixed it.
Now a bit more explanation. I have an nvidia 8400gs card connected to a 61″ RCA DLP using DVI. First time I have used this card and this type of set up. I had a small LCD monitor hoked up as well while installing since the RCA cuts off the menus, and switched when finished. I disabled the LCD and every thing was OK. Last night I unplugged the LCD from the AC since I was done with it. Today I powered down to look at mounting a new hard drive and when I powered back up, no menus on Myth. I looked in nvidia-settings and the monitor was still listed. Rescanned and still there, Completely disconnected and rescanned, GONE! Saved xorg.conf, rebooted, changed all settings back, and now it is ok.
Apparently nvidia was trying to be too smart for it’s own good. I had hoped to leave the LCD enabled for future use, but I guess I will just have to reset things if I do.
Now I know, and knowing is half the battle! (To keep from pulling what hair I have left!)

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Auto login Fedora 11

Another note for future installs of Fedora.
I use the auto login feature in Fedora and it wasn’t working on my latest install. I have had this problem in the past and never figured out why until now.
In the KDE settings there is a “Login Manager” where you can set automatic and password-less login which I set everything and it still didn’t work.
I use KDE but decided to install Gnome as well to try it a bit. I used “switchdesk kde” to change to KDE. Apparently Fedora uses GDM by default not KDM if you install Gnome. The settings only effect KDM! I normally do not even install Gnome to save space so if GDM is missing it will default to KDM. This explains why it normally works for me, but some times, like now, it does not!
The solution is to add the file (if missing) /etc/sysconfig/desktop and add/change the entry
Reboot. Now it works

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KDE4 Super user file manager in panel

After installing Fedora 11 several times I have finally decided to document how I did this so I will stop pulling my hair out (not much left) each time I do this. I have it working on my main system but can never remember how. Since I got smart a while back and put /home in it’s own partition I now don’t wipe it when upgrading so I haven’t had to recreate it since.
In previous versions (pre KDE4) there was a menu item for super user file manager using Konqueror. I am use to Konqueror and set it to default, but I got use to being able to get at the system files without having to switch users or use a terminal. Yes I know the dangers, It’s my system and that’s the way I like it. You use to be able add it to the panel and when clicked it would ask for password and run. Any configuration files would then open in kwrite in su mode as well and save properly.
The first problem I ran into was that KDE4 requires you to use kdesu instead of su if you want anything to run in X as root. Very upsetting to open a terminal, type su, pw, kwrite, and have nothing happen.
So once I got over that I went to add what I wanted to the panel, but there is no choice for application, only damn “widgets”! Since there is no widget for “file manager super user” I tried dragging /home down there and then modifying it, no joy. It is just a folder, opening with the default app. not an app. itself. I dug on my main system and recreated what I must have done.

What I ended up doing:
Right click the launcher icon, select “Menu Editor”
Created a New Item. (Where ever you like)
Set Command to “kdesu konqueror”
Set other preferences (icon, name, description.)
Drag new icon and place on panel.

(Edit: I just figured out how to do it in”Menu Editor” DUH!)

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Rain barrel note

You might have noticed on my main page a note about a rain barrel system. I have to go back and take pictures of each component and put it together. The problem is it is summer and all kinds of other projects have came first (see next posts), and now planning for a wedding to.Here is a quick sneak peek at it and see if you can guess what makes it special.


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Front yard landscaping

My front yard has been slowly sliding down hill for years. There is hardly any topsoil left, so the grass looks like crap. I have been wanting to add a small retaining wall along the front then back fill to level out the whole yard and replant new grass. After doing the pool, I had to a lot of dirt left over and figured now was a good time to do it. (hence the “free” pool just got more expensive!) Of course, there was not quite enough dirt to fill it all the way! Now to get more dirt (or dig another hole in the back yard!) and get some grass growing. I like having nice grass in my yard, of course the best grass I had was right where the pool went!! I could always start on the garage I wanted to build and use that dirt. Hmmm… another project, but not for a while, I need to rest up for this whole wedding thing. A few more pictures

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New “free” pool

Earlier this spring we got a complete free pool on freecycle. It was in pretty good shape, we just had to take it down. At the time it was still cold, in fact part of the pool was buried and was frozen into the ground! The liner had a small leak in it but didn’t matter since it was still frozen too and got destroyed.The reason “free” is in quotes is it still cost some money to install:
A new liner (duh)
Building permit
Electrical supplies ($45 GFCI breaker!!)
Spray paint for the uprights and rails
Renting tiller
Pavers to go around edge
New filter cartridge
Vermiculite for bottom
Misc. replacement hardware
Food to feed the friends who helped on set up day (Thanks Scott)
All in all, no where near the several thousand a new pool would have cost.
For others who might do this, we found the Vermiculite at Menards in the “insulation” department for insulating block walls, worked out to be cheaper than bags of sand and a whole lot lighter to handle!! It also gives a wonderful bottom. We installed the liner using a shop vac to suck it into place and have no wrinkles!! My family had several pools and I had been though setting them up before, and this method rocked!

Next thing will be to install the solar heater we also got on freecycle. I am not happy with it’s cheesy installation though and will be looking into something better. (Oh goody, another project)
You may also notice the home made solar cover roller. It was a quick project that needs some refinement (it bows real bad) When I redo it, probably season, I will try to document it as well.

A few more pictures, during and after

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Note to self

Bridge network Fedora and VB

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