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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on Paige Russell's instructable Homemade Energy Drink2 months ago
    Homemade Energy Drink

    Nice recipes - I will definitely try #2 and #3. Good old water with lemon works OK for basic hydration, occasionally some lime or sugar-free lemonade at about 1/2 recommended concentration.But I wanted to remark on your "desk organizer" -- I use virtually the same thing! I find that a long rubber band around the brush about 1/3 of the way from the top prevents droopiness or outright escape of key implements. I find the ones referenced below great for this and so many things: https://www.amazon.com/Alliance-Products-Remarkably-latex-free-Approximately/dp/B004E2MGQG

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  • How to Make Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

    I sent a guy to the hospital with my ice cream once. He had apparently developed lactose intolerance as an adult, but since he hardly used milk except for a little in his coffee, he didn't even realize it. But he liked my ice cream so much, he ate three bowls, and an hour or so later, felt so ill he had to go the the ER. Oops!

    "Half and Half" is also a brand of chewing tobacco. I wouldn't recommend using that in this recipe!

    Salt mixing with water causes what is called "freezing point depression," and as the ice melts, the entire mixture cools. The key thing is to have enough salt around so that as more ice melts, there is more solid salt left to dissolve in the water. The lowest temperature will be when the liquid water that is present has as much salt dissolved in it as it possibly can ("saturated solution"). If the salty water just gets diluted as the ice melts, the temperature will start to rise again, approaching the regular melting point of ice (32 F.; 0 C.) as the water gets less and less salty. When I used to use a salt-ice churn, I just put a huge amount of salt in, and when I was done, I would carefully remove the floating ice, pour off the liquid, and save the salt right ther...

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    Salt mixing with water causes what is called "freezing point depression," and as the ice melts, the entire mixture cools. The key thing is to have enough salt around so that as more ice melts, there is more solid salt left to dissolve in the water. The lowest temperature will be when the liquid water that is present has as much salt dissolved in it as it possibly can ("saturated solution"). If the salty water just gets diluted as the ice melts, the temperature will start to rise again, approaching the regular melting point of ice (32 F.; 0 C.) as the water gets less and less salty. When I used to use a salt-ice churn, I just put a huge amount of salt in, and when I was done, I would carefully remove the floating ice, pour off the liquid, and save the salt right there in the churn for next time. Any kind of salt will do. Typically, home freezers are a bit colder than what you can achieve with ice and salt, so if you leave a batch of ice cream in there to "ripen" for a while, it will get closer to commercial ice-cream texture. If you use whipping cream, as I strongly suggest, the ice cream will get VERY hard after a few hours in the freezer.

    I was going to make the same comment. At its coldest, a salt-ice mixture is cold enough to freeze human flesh and blood. Gloves will allow you to really get in there and mix without discomfort or even damage.

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on F4916's instructable How to Desalinate Seawater4 months ago
    How to Desalinate Seawater

    Long known as a "solar still," these are difficult to construct on a scale sufficient to keep even ONE person alive. In a survival situation, limited in usefulness, and in a larger, more permanent situation, far from the most efficient way to use solar energy to desalinate seawater.

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  • Making a Survival Knife Out of a 16'' Saw Blade

    The build is very impressive, and the Instructable is well done.I have to object to calling the product a "Survival Knife," though. First of all, a knife like this, plus the sheath you need to carry it safely, are larger and heavier than a MUCH more effective survival kit consisting of multiple useful items.Secondly, a knife like this, although certainly a useful tool, will be seen by private citizens and law-enforcement personnel alike as the dangerous weapon that it is. A much smaller knife or multi-tool, combined with a lightweight folding saw will be both more useful for survival purposes and less likely to be seen as weapons.Real survival is NOT fighting off grizzly bears or squads of heavily-armed terrorists -- Rambo and Revenant fantasies do not play well in the actual ...

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    The build is very impressive, and the Instructable is well done.I have to object to calling the product a "Survival Knife," though. First of all, a knife like this, plus the sheath you need to carry it safely, are larger and heavier than a MUCH more effective survival kit consisting of multiple useful items.Secondly, a knife like this, although certainly a useful tool, will be seen by private citizens and law-enforcement personnel alike as the dangerous weapon that it is. A much smaller knife or multi-tool, combined with a lightweight folding saw will be both more useful for survival purposes and less likely to be seen as weapons.Real survival is NOT fighting off grizzly bears or squads of heavily-armed terrorists -- Rambo and Revenant fantasies do not play well in the actual wilderness.(Actually, the Revenant was reasonably realistic, but the bear attack in the beginning is not only a very rare event, it's one for which a loaded gun, a large knife, AND a belt ax proved to be inadequate protection.)

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on Darthorso's instructable Plastic Bottle Mosquito Trap6 months ago
    Plastic Bottle Mosquito Trap

    Well, it helps if you keep the hole very small, and as I said, make sure not to agitate it either before opening or after. I've had fast-food soft drinks stay reasonably fizzy in the fridge for several hours. Maybe if you made the entrance a "dip tube" like the straw in a cup of soda?There are also ways you could increase the back pressure, like forcing the soda to work against back pressure. Say, a 2 liter soda with a tiny pinhole in the cap, then put a 3-foot piece of hose over the cap and fill it most of the way with water. Then the soda would have a few feet of water pressure to work against, and it would go flat more slowly.Anyway, it would only need to work for a few hours to either prove or disprove the theory for a given person's yard.Maybe vinegar in one container and...

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    Well, it helps if you keep the hole very small, and as I said, make sure not to agitate it either before opening or after. I've had fast-food soft drinks stay reasonably fizzy in the fridge for several hours. Maybe if you made the entrance a "dip tube" like the straw in a cup of soda?There are also ways you could increase the back pressure, like forcing the soda to work against back pressure. Say, a 2 liter soda with a tiny pinhole in the cap, then put a 3-foot piece of hose over the cap and fill it most of the way with water. Then the soda would have a few feet of water pressure to work against, and it would go flat more slowly.Anyway, it would only need to work for a few hours to either prove or disprove the theory for a given person's yard.Maybe vinegar in one container and baking soda in water in another, with one dripping slowly, drop by drop into the other? That would give off CO2 slowly, too.

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on Darthorso's instructable Plastic Bottle Mosquito Trap6 months ago
    Plastic Bottle Mosquito Trap

    Very interesting trap and discussion. One way to make a quick test would be to waste one bottle of soda. Just keep it cold, open carefully, don't shake it up, cut off the top, flip it, tape it, and put it outside in a cool place. Maybe wrap with damp cloth to prevent it getting too hot. The soda will slowly release CO2, definitely for less time that the sugar / yeast approach described here, but maybe enough to see if it will work in your yard on "your" mosquitoes.The "billions of mosquitoes" and "do they just draw more mosquitoes" questions could probably be answered by trying out various numbers of traps in various positions, times of day, etc., and perhaps by comparing "baited" traps with results from unscented "no-pest" strips.Maybe ...

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    Very interesting trap and discussion. One way to make a quick test would be to waste one bottle of soda. Just keep it cold, open carefully, don't shake it up, cut off the top, flip it, tape it, and put it outside in a cool place. Maybe wrap with damp cloth to prevent it getting too hot. The soda will slowly release CO2, definitely for less time that the sugar / yeast approach described here, but maybe enough to see if it will work in your yard on "your" mosquitoes.The "billions of mosquitoes" and "do they just draw more mosquitoes" questions could probably be answered by trying out various numbers of traps in various positions, times of day, etc., and perhaps by comparing "baited" traps with results from unscented "no-pest" strips.Maybe try this . . . on two successive days / nights, under similar conditions at similar times, etc. . . . First, just go out and sit or have a meal around your outdoor table. Bunch of people, breathing out CO2, attracting mosquitoes. Hang a half-dozen or so unscented no-pest strips right over the table, right in the environment where you are sitting. Afterwards, count the bugs on the strips, and, if applicable, the bites on you and your guests.Then, on the next day / night, do everything just the same, but with several CO2 traps laid out around the perimeter of your outdoor area. If the traps are really capturing a significant # of mosquitoes (without drawing a billion additional ones from the whole neighborhood), you should find fewer mosquitoes on your no-pest strips, and fewer bites on you and your guests.(Conditions will probably not be 100% repeatable, but if there is a really significant effect, it should show up.)Nice 'ible!

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  • The Ring of Fire: a Cheap Steel Wool Pyrotechnic Display

    In my youth, I once used this for a nighttime performance with nunchaku. I was fairly proficient with them (for performance / exercise -- never used them on any living thing). I used fairly tight bundles of steel wool, because I didn't want a huge shower of sparks, and my "cages" directed the sparks as nearly as possible directly out the ends of the nunchaku, again to keep the sparks from spreading too widely. I tied the cages on a very short string to the two ends, lit them both, then went through a standard demonstration of various moves. It was in a snowy, nearly empty parking lot next to our dorm, so no risk of setting anything but myself on fire. Definitely need protective gear for this, but basic gloves, goggles or glasses, jeans, long-sleeve shirt, and a non-combustible...

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    In my youth, I once used this for a nighttime performance with nunchaku. I was fairly proficient with them (for performance / exercise -- never used them on any living thing). I used fairly tight bundles of steel wool, because I didn't want a huge shower of sparks, and my "cages" directed the sparks as nearly as possible directly out the ends of the nunchaku, again to keep the sparks from spreading too widely. I tied the cages on a very short string to the two ends, lit them both, then went through a standard demonstration of various moves. It was in a snowy, nearly empty parking lot next to our dorm, so no risk of setting anything but myself on fire. Definitely need protective gear for this, but basic gloves, goggles or glasses, jeans, long-sleeve shirt, and a non-combustible hat were enough. Couple of tiny burns on the sides of my neck, otherwise unharmed, and the audience seemed to enjoy the show.

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  • 5 Ways to Remove a Stripped Screw

    I had this very problem with my cutting-wheel mandrel, and I probably use the cutting wheel more than any other "bit" in my Moto-Tool, so it's been a recurring issue.My solution works best if you still have the "other" end of the broken screw, but in a pinch, any metal rod of the same diameter might work.Under a magnifying glass, align the two parts and carefully apply a TINY drop of Super Glue with a toothpick or other very sharp pointy tool. Press the two together, and with a little luck and maybe a few tries, you'll get a bond strong enough to back out the broken portion of the screw. If the screw turns freely, this works much better, of course, and I have taken to using some high-T grease on the threads of ANY screw that I expect to be installing and removing fre...

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    I had this very problem with my cutting-wheel mandrel, and I probably use the cutting wheel more than any other "bit" in my Moto-Tool, so it's been a recurring issue.My solution works best if you still have the "other" end of the broken screw, but in a pinch, any metal rod of the same diameter might work.Under a magnifying glass, align the two parts and carefully apply a TINY drop of Super Glue with a toothpick or other very sharp pointy tool. Press the two together, and with a little luck and maybe a few tries, you'll get a bond strong enough to back out the broken portion of the screw. If the screw turns freely, this works much better, of course, and I have taken to using some high-T grease on the threads of ANY screw that I expect to be installing and removing frequently -- it make the screw much less likely to break in the first place, and easier to remove if it does.

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  • How to Buy an Ex-Ambulance

    Be sure to repaint and refit to make it OBVIOUS the vehicle is NOT a working ambulance. Ambulances are prime targets for thieves who assume there will be saleable drugs inside. Great 'ible, though!

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  • Quick and easy book safe/geocache container

    I've encountered two more British/American language differences, both of which led to some angst. In a meeting, after long and tedious discussion of a particular decision, one of the Americans suggested that we "table the issue." All agreed, and we then started to move onto other things. The Brits asked if we were going to table the issue as agreed, or not, and confusion ensued. As us Yanks see it, "table" means to set aside and revisit in the future. To the Brits, "table" meant to bring the issue to an immediate vote. In another case, when we were visiting a contractor in the UK, we asked to see certain documents, and we were told that we would get them "at the end of the day." As the meeting broke up that evening, we asked where the documents we...

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    I've encountered two more British/American language differences, both of which led to some angst. In a meeting, after long and tedious discussion of a particular decision, one of the Americans suggested that we "table the issue." All agreed, and we then started to move onto other things. The Brits asked if we were going to table the issue as agreed, or not, and confusion ensued. As us Yanks see it, "table" means to set aside and revisit in the future. To the Brits, "table" meant to bring the issue to an immediate vote. In another case, when we were visiting a contractor in the UK, we asked to see certain documents, and we were told that we would get them "at the end of the day." As the meeting broke up that evening, we asked where the documents were, and were again told them we'd get them at the end of the day. To us, "end of the day" was taken literally, but in the British interpretation, it meant "eventually."On a related topic, a Scottish friend was explaining to me the relaxed pace of life in the Highlands, where he was from, and I suggested that they must have a Scottish equivalent to the Spanish "manana." He asked what that meant, and I said that literally, it meant "tomorrow," but that it was often used more loosely to mean "in a day or two," . . ., or maybe three or four. He thought for a bit, then replied: "I canna think of a word in our language that expresses such a degree of urgency." :-)

    Great idea! My suggestion for cutting all the way through in one go would be to clamp it with a piece of scrap wood underneath. Just stop drilling when you hit the wood.

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on ShiftyTips's instructable DIY Air Conditioner1 year ago
    DIY Air Conditioner

    MJM - It's important to distinguish between "NOx" (all nitrogen oxides) and N2O (nitrous oxide). NOx is mostly made up of NO and NO2, and overwhelmingly is a result of combustion, including internal-combustion engines and power generation in particular. Some people include N2O in NOx, but most do not. NOx contributes to smog, acid rain, and low-altitude ozone formation. N2O, on the other hand, is a very potent greenhouse gas, and also leads to ozone depletion at high altitudes. N2O emissions are about 2/3 natural and 1/3 manmade. The manmade emissions are primarily a result of the use of nitrogen fertilizers in agricultures. N2O is important to consider in greenhouse gas analysis. N2O emissions are far lower in volume than those of CO2, but N2O is nearly 300 times more potent ...

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    MJM - It's important to distinguish between "NOx" (all nitrogen oxides) and N2O (nitrous oxide). NOx is mostly made up of NO and NO2, and overwhelmingly is a result of combustion, including internal-combustion engines and power generation in particular. Some people include N2O in NOx, but most do not. NOx contributes to smog, acid rain, and low-altitude ozone formation. N2O, on the other hand, is a very potent greenhouse gas, and also leads to ozone depletion at high altitudes. N2O emissions are about 2/3 natural and 1/3 manmade. The manmade emissions are primarily a result of the use of nitrogen fertilizers in agricultures. N2O is important to consider in greenhouse gas analysis. N2O emissions are far lower in volume than those of CO2, but N2O is nearly 300 times more potent than CO2 in terms of the greenhouse effect it creates. In terms of ozone depletion, N2O is less potent than the old CFC refrigerants / propellants, but now that these have been successfully reduced, N2O has become the largest single contributor to ozone depletion.

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on ShiftyTips's instructable DIY Air Conditioner1 year ago
    DIY Air Conditioner

    Gases don't "sink" or "rise" in the open atmosphere because they are more or less dense than the air around them, except very temporarily. Even in the absence of any wind, a process called DIFFUSION will slowly eliminate any concentration differences. If heavy gases did sink, there would be plenty of CO2 ("heavier" than air) in the atmosphere to accumulate near ground level and suffocate us all. In the upper reaches of the atmosphere, where the pressure is very, very low, there are some other effects that become important. But from sea level up to the summit of Everest and beyond, significant concentration differences in the atmosphere are constantly being evened out by diffusion, and gases being "heavy" or "light" have nothing to do wit...

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    Gases don't "sink" or "rise" in the open atmosphere because they are more or less dense than the air around them, except very temporarily. Even in the absence of any wind, a process called DIFFUSION will slowly eliminate any concentration differences. If heavy gases did sink, there would be plenty of CO2 ("heavier" than air) in the atmosphere to accumulate near ground level and suffocate us all. In the upper reaches of the atmosphere, where the pressure is very, very low, there are some other effects that become important. But from sea level up to the summit of Everest and beyond, significant concentration differences in the atmosphere are constantly being evened out by diffusion, and gases being "heavy" or "light" have nothing to do with it.The same thing occurs with miscible liquids. Ethanol is less dense than water, and if I mix the two very carefully, the ethanol will be on top, and the water on the bottom. But over time, even if I don't stir the mixture at all, the water will diffuse into the ethanol and vice-versa, and eventually the concentration everywhere in the container will be exactly the same. Based on density differences among liqueurs, skilled bartenders can make drinks that have 5 or 6 or even 7 different layers, but if you don't drink them in a hurry, eventually they will all mix due to diffusion.To the extent that some gases are pumped INTO the atmosphere down near the ground, they will have a higher concentration there as long as we keep supplying more. Diffusion does not work instantaneously. So with things like CFC's, as long as we kept producing them, concentrations did remain highest near ground level, but the CFC's did unquestionably diffuse to the upper reaches of our atmosphere. There, they participated in reactions that cleaved ozone (O3) to produce regular old oxygen (O2). Lots of gases do this, but certain "free radicals" from CFC's and other compounds containing chlorine and bromine are dramatically more stable than most of those other gases, and so one molecule of CFC can break up many thousands of molecules of ozone before it gets converted to something less harmful.As for the ozone layer, it is true that the polar "holes" are seasonal and natural. But it is also true that ozone has decreased by 4-5% GLOBALLY since reliable measurements were first available, and that does make a difference in how well that layer protects us here on Earth. Nowadays, with release of chloro- and bromo-compounds having been reduced, nitrous oxide is the largest man-made cause of ozone depletion. The problem is generally considered important, but not as critical as the accumulation of greenhouse gases, although the ravings of scientifically-incompetent loudmouths and well-paid lobbyists continue to hamper efforts to resolve both problems.

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on ShiftyTips's instructable DIY Air Conditioner1 year ago
    DIY Air Conditioner

    This illustrates a very good point. With the "swamp coolers" that people have discussed, you evaporate water, which humidifies the air, but also cools it. You are trading humidity for temperature, and in a hot, dry climate, that can be a good tradeoff, and swamp coolers can be very effective. With the ice-based cooling, though, in a humid climate you need not only to cool the air, but as you do, to condense water out of the air, as "dew" forms on the outside of the ice-filled bottle. The process of condensing that water causes the ice to melt faster than it would in a very dry climate.

    No, the outside air needs to be dry for an EC to work. It enters the EC hot and dry, cools by evaporation of water, then exits cool and humid. The simplest EC's just dump that cool, humid air into the room. But you can also run that long one side of, say, a thin metal plate, and run the room air across the other side. That way, you can cool the room air without bringing in extra water. Of course, it makes the cooler more complicated and expensive, and you lose a little bit on the cooling. Some parts of Kansas might be dry enough, but I've seen them mostly in the Rockies and the Southwestern States.

    No question -- evaporation has much greater potential for cooling than melting. Evaporation does mean that the water used is lost forever, so even if the climate is dry, one might want to think carefully about consuming water in this fashion. With ice, the same water can be used again and again, albeit at the cost of even more energy than it would take to run an efficient air conditioning unit to produce the same amount of cooling.

    In some commercial swamp coolers, the cool, humid air never enters the living space. Instead, there is a metal heat exchanger, where the cool, humid are is used to cool the air on the room without any direct contact. This causes the humid air to warm up, and it is exhausted outside the house. Homemade swamp coolers can indeed be homes to various molds and other microbes, and care should be taken not to let them be a health hazard.

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on ShiftyTips's instructable DIY Air Conditioner1 year ago
    DIY Air Conditioner

    You also have to remember that the heat added by the freezer may be able to scheduled at a time when the house does not need to be cooled. I very effectively cooled a room during a hot, humid New Jersey summer in a similar way. I had a full-size refrigerator in the room that I did not need to use to store frozen food. So during the day, when I was away at work, I froze several 1-gal milk jugs in the freezer. I kept a fan running in the window, and that kept the room at a maximum of around 90 deg. F. Any "excess" heating from the fridge, in effect, got dumped out the window. The room was going to reach 90 during the day no matter what I did. When I got home from work, the room was a few degrees below 90, and the sun was low in the sky (but the temp. outdoors still near 90). I c...

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    You also have to remember that the heat added by the freezer may be able to scheduled at a time when the house does not need to be cooled. I very effectively cooled a room during a hot, humid New Jersey summer in a similar way. I had a full-size refrigerator in the room that I did not need to use to store frozen food. So during the day, when I was away at work, I froze several 1-gal milk jugs in the freezer. I kept a fan running in the window, and that kept the room at a maximum of around 90 deg. F. Any "excess" heating from the fridge, in effect, got dumped out the window. The room was going to reach 90 during the day no matter what I did. When I got home from work, the room was a few degrees below 90, and the sun was low in the sky (but the temp. outdoors still near 90). I closed the window, pulled the frozen jugs out of the freezer, set them on top of a little storage cabinet, and set up the fan to blow air over them. Even though the outdoor temp. rarely dropped below the mid-80's through the night, I was able to bring the room down to the mid-70's and sleep comfortably. I did forget to provide a tray under the jugs the first night, and woke up to find a small swamp on the floor. After that, I put a couple of plastic trays under the jugs, and just dumped the condensed water down the sink every morning.Note that this was a rental room, the fridge was provided with the room, and I did not have to pay for the electricity I used. I would never use this method if I had to pay for the electricity, or if I had to buy a fridge and devote at least part of it to room cooling.

    (forgot to mention -- the milk jugs had been used, cleaned out, and refilled with water. It wasn't actually milk that I was freezing & thawing every day ;-)

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  • Prof. A. Z. O_Trope commented on Slime Eel's instructable Waste Oil Burner1 year ago
    Waste Oil Burner

    Depending on the source of the oil and the combustion conditions, the emissions could present a health hazard to yourself or an environmental hazard out of compliance with various regulations. I know that a small backyard forge seems like a minor thing, but for yourself, being very close to the operation, chronic exposure even to very low concentrations of some emissions can have long-term consequences. And on a broader scale, these kinds of operations can have a surprising impact. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I recall data showing that operating a typical 2-stoke lawnmower for an hour resulted in more emissions than driving a modern, properly-maintained car for HUNDREDS of miles. Please be careful to take care of yourself and of the air that the rest of us breathe.

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  • How to Make a Death Star Mailbox

    I agree. In my neighborhood, this wouldn't last a week. Maybe if the tank could be strengthened with an inch or so of concrete internally. Anything less would soon be dented, if not destroyed by the local "Luke Skywalkers."

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