Saturday, March 23, 2019

Boeing, Airbus, Tesla, and Automation

If you've been paying attention to the news recently, you might be aware that the FAA has grounded the Boeing 737MAX series airplanes, pending investigation into what appear to be MCAS-caused crashes.


Since I'm a (private) pilot, and have more than a slight interest in automation systems, a few people have asked my opinion of the whole situation.  Of course, this being me, the whole thing scope creeped badly into a post containing more than a few thoughts on Boeing, Airbus, control system design, automation, complexity... the works.

So, keep reading and let's dive in.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Our Little Neighborhood Library

On rare occasions, I manage to get off our property - and this week, I have proof!  My wife and I have put together a Little Neighborhood Library, which is almost exactly like a Little Free Library, except $40 cheaper and not listed on the LFL website.


And you should build one for your neighborhood!  Or, at least, a useful neighborhood near you.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

UE Mini Boom Teardown

I've not found a great teardown of a UE Mini Boom - and, especially, nothing talking about battery replacement.  The Mini Boom is an older Bluetooth speaker that was quite popular some while back - and they're not particularly well documented.  So, of course, I ripped into mine.

This little gizmo is a perfect example of "nearly unmaintainable consumer crap," and I'm going to rip on it as I go - there is no reason to build something this hard to work on, and I think it's irresponsible for consumer product companies to build stuff this way.  It's hard to get apart, you can't get it back together without heroics, it doesn't look the same after you get it back together, and... I just don't understand why you'd do this.  It's not even waterproof, which is a common excuse for hard-to-take-apart things.  It's got glue, it's got soldered connections where headers would make sense, and it's just a pain to work on.  On the plus side, they did design it to last - but, seriously.  Don't build things like this.


Anyway, what's inside?  How do you get inside, anyway?  Keep reading to find out!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Thinkpad T430S IPS Screen Upgrade

If you have a ThinkPad T420/T420S/T430/T430S laptop, I have great news for you: You can replace the screen with something that doesn't suck!  It's a bit of moderately deep laptop surgery, but it's doable!

If you don't have a ThinkPad of that series, well... you're not missing out on the screen side.  They have one of the worst screens shipped in recent history - and that's comparing them to an awful lot of the cheap netbooks out there.


The replacement is fairly straightforward - but it does involve diving pretty deep into the laptop, and it does involve a sketchy bit of display translator hardware.  So, what's involved?  Keep reading to find out!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Solar Ultrasonic Critter Repeller Teardown

One of the problems I have on my property out here is burrowing critters.  We have voles, rock chucks, and gophers - at a minimum.  There might be more I haven't found yet.  I've attempted to deter them from areas we care about (like the garden) with some little solar "burrowing critter" emitters.  In theory, they make enough annoying noises under the ground that the critters just go somewhere else.

Maybe you've seen them - a solar panel on a stick that you wedge in the ground.  A 4-pack on eBay runs about $25, maybe a bit less.


Do they work?  Hard to say.  They're faintly annoying to me, but I'm not a gopher.  Would a gopher find them annoying enough to stay away from the garden?  Maybe.  Ask me in a few years.

How do they work?  Well, that's a question best answered with a teardown - and that, I can do!


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Shipping Container Shelves

You know what I always need?  More cowbell shelves!  This week, I'm adding shelves to the back of my shipping container - because the back of a shipping container is a good spot for shelves, and I've not been making very good use of the vertical space in the shipping container.  I've got a high top container (9.5' high), and I've been mostly using the floor for storage space, which is quite silly.  So I've added shelves!  This is a fairly simple build that should work for any more or less normal shipping container - it's completely free standing, just wedged into the corrugations of the container.


How do you build such a thing?  Keep reading to find out!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2018 Reflections, 2019 Resolutions

Well, 2018 has wound up - time for the annual reflection post, and the 2019 resolution post (combined this year for your reading convenience).


The big news in 2018 was the new kid - he showed up in June, and is doing great!  I also spent most of the spring working on a giant time-sink of a building that our church purchased - it needed a lot of work, and I happily dove in to work on demolition, rebuilding, roofing... everything that needed doing.  However, I didn't get as much done around the property as I'd hoped for this year.

On the other hand, I've got some seriously large projects lined up for 2019 that will be documented in proper blog form.  So, keep reading to find out what comically absurd project will take my 2019!