author
83CommentsLeesville, SCJoined July 17th, 2009
Retired from USAF after 24 years in 2007. Involved with old cars since 1979, Ramblers and AMCs are my specialty. Build and modify my own computers since the mid 80s -- started with Tandy Color Computer 2. Part time instructor at Aiken Technical College (welding, other construction related courses).
  • farna commented on monickingbird's instructable Honda Civic Micro Camper/utility Trailer15 hours ago
    Honda Civic Micro Camper/utility Trailer

    Tongue weight has been discussed enough, but... If it has 200# of tongue weight now, you won't be able to load much in the front. Load as many heavy camping items behind the rear wheels to reduce tongue weight. A trailer MUST have a good bit of weight on the tongue or it will sway badly at anything over 40-45 mph. I've seen similar conversions of four door station wagons, vans, and just the trunk portion of a car. I did one of the later myself, but I moved the axle forward a bit so it was just about centered (also kept the back seat area to balance it out). A station wagon cut between front and rear doors is about right as far as balance, but then you have a large flat front. Cut the REAR DOOR area out and weld back together... shorten a van in the same manner... and it would be bette...

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    Tongue weight has been discussed enough, but... If it has 200# of tongue weight now, you won't be able to load much in the front. Load as many heavy camping items behind the rear wheels to reduce tongue weight. A trailer MUST have a good bit of weight on the tongue or it will sway badly at anything over 40-45 mph. I've seen similar conversions of four door station wagons, vans, and just the trunk portion of a car. I did one of the later myself, but I moved the axle forward a bit so it was just about centered (also kept the back seat area to balance it out). A station wagon cut between front and rear doors is about right as far as balance, but then you have a large flat front. Cut the REAR DOOR area out and weld back together... shorten a van in the same manner... and it would be better balanced. Lots of work there though, and you have to be a competent welder...

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  • farna commented on bennelson's instructable DIY Solar Garage1 week ago
    DIY Solar Garage

    Great job! Since you covered one whole side of your garage it would have been feasible to use the panels AS the roofing, but that would have taken a lot more planning and time to build the frame. You'd have still needed metal for the rear roof. Probably wouldn't have saved you any, or at least not much, due to the extra cost/time of building the frame and sealing the panels to be leak-proof. Would be a good bit more to make it an off-grid system -- have to store power for night use somehow. Right now lead-acid deep cycle batteries are probably the most cost effective, but would take a good many. I thought about an off-grid system just for the lighting in my shop. Wouldn't take much, 2 large capacity deep cycle batteries would have supplied 5-6 hours of light -- IIRC it would have been 4...

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    Great job! Since you covered one whole side of your garage it would have been feasible to use the panels AS the roofing, but that would have taken a lot more planning and time to build the frame. You'd have still needed metal for the rear roof. Probably wouldn't have saved you any, or at least not much, due to the extra cost/time of building the frame and sealing the panels to be leak-proof. Would be a good bit more to make it an off-grid system -- have to store power for night use somehow. Right now lead-acid deep cycle batteries are probably the most cost effective, but would take a good many. I thought about an off-grid system just for the lighting in my shop. Wouldn't take much, 2 large capacity deep cycle batteries would have supplied 5-6 hours of light -- IIRC it would have been 4+ hours with every light on the whole time (all fluorescent types... would be better with today's LEDs!). After I totaled the cost it just wasn't cost effective. If I spent a couple hours in the shop EVERY night it might have been, but reality is that I only spent an average of 3-4 hours in the shop at night a week. Would have taken 20 years to use enough electricity to pay for the initial cost of the system, and I'd have to replace the batteries every 5-6 years.

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  • Building a Custom Automotive Wheel From Scratch

    "Homemade wheels are not safe" isn't necessarily true -- it depends on the builder. They aren't DOT approved, but that doesn't mean they aren't safe. This is a judgement call every hot rodder has to make. There are always things that a rodder makes on their car that could be an issue if they failed. That's just part of the rodding culture. There is some risk involved, which is why I do some things on my car I wouldn't do for someone else.

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  • farna commented on gravityisweak's instructable How to Build a Block Retaining Wall1 month ago
    How to Build a Block Retaining Wall

    Very well done! When I first saw the photos I was thinking to make a comment about leaning the wall back by staggering the blocks, but discovered you did that (with the lip) ! Great observation about why you didn't use mortar and shouldn't unless it's a large wall with a deep poured concrete foundation. You could leave the lip on the first course though. The gravel (or sand) in the bottom should easily conform around it.

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  • farna commented on bekathwia's instructable Solar Balloon2 months ago
    Solar Balloon

    So use a hair dryer on "hot" to fill the balloon and it should be ready to rise! Might cool down quick though... depends on how hot the day is..

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  • farna commented on Tiobel's instructable GPS Speedometer4 months ago
    GPS Speedometer

    Sammbo, I'd like to see how you made the speedo with the stepper motor. This GPS model is great too... easy to use in a different vehicle. Most likely just have a bad speed sensor in the car causing the original speedo not to work at times, or just a bad connection at the sensor...

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  • farna commented on emilyvanleemput's instructable TARDIS Siege Mode Cube5 months ago
    TARDIS Siege Mode Cube

    Hmm... print Rubick's Cube size stickers for each side and stick them on a cube... Would be interesting!!

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  • farna commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!5 months ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    Hmm... interesting, but more complicated. Generator just requires an electric cord connection. A mechanical engine as you describe would basically be one speed. You would still need a clutch connection (maybe electric, like a riding lawn mower blade clutch) and some kind of throttle. Otherwise the electric motor would be "helping" the engine at times. Maybe a one-way clutch so the engine never put a drag on the electric motor? Still think that would be a lot more complicated and harder to implement than a generator. Easiest thing to do is just rent a car for longer trips. Would be cheaper in the long run! I had a friend who didn't own a car, just his bicycle and public transportation. Rented a car 4-5 times a year for longer trips, even a weekend for Christmas shopping. No car...

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    Hmm... interesting, but more complicated. Generator just requires an electric cord connection. A mechanical engine as you describe would basically be one speed. You would still need a clutch connection (maybe electric, like a riding lawn mower blade clutch) and some kind of throttle. Otherwise the electric motor would be "helping" the engine at times. Maybe a one-way clutch so the engine never put a drag on the electric motor? Still think that would be a lot more complicated and harder to implement than a generator. Easiest thing to do is just rent a car for longer trips. Would be cheaper in the long run! I had a friend who didn't own a car, just his bicycle and public transportation. Rented a car 4-5 times a year for longer trips, even a weekend for Christmas shopping. No car insurance or maintenance, nor of course payments, just $1000 or so a year in rental fees. Would work with an electric car for commuting if it has the range.

    A lot of those plans were from Robert G Riley Enterprises.https://www.rqriley.com/plans.htmlPlans are still available. He allowed the magazine to print an article and rudimentary set of plans (that needed scaling up and such, but a really good fabricator/builder could do it from the article), then sold full size, more detailed plans if you wanted them. Good way to get cheap marketing!

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  • farna commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!5 months ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    That's a lot more than I thought it would be! Anything over a 5K generator would be rather large, 2500-3000W would be a better physical size. So you could add some miles, but not quite enough to cruise on... unless you built something like a trailer with a large generator on it. Would be good for long range running, and would be a bit more efficient than a typical gasoline car, but you may as well just rent a small car when you need to make a long trip, assuming your normal commute is short enough for an electric car (or hybrid with a small generator). Might double range with a small generator, but more than likely not add more than 20-30% -- depends on a lot of variables. May as well add 2-3 more batteries for the space and weight of the generator...

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  • farna commented on lukeg22woo's instructable Design and Build a Tiny House5 months ago
    Design and Build a Tiny House

    This is more home built camper than most tiny houses to me, but it suits your purpose and you did a fantastic job of planning and documenting! That you were planning an Instructable as you built is a big bonus -- otherwise would you have documented as carefully as you did? That documentation will come in handy a year or two down the road if/when you run into a problem or decide to make alterations. You would have done well to investigate campers more. A camper water heater is small, six gallons is typical. Older ones are gas only, newer gas and electric. When I use gas I just turn it on 5-10 minutes before I want hot water, then turn it off when done. They are very well insulated and compact, and will hold hot water for hours once heated. Obviously they heat up pretty fast on gas. My n...

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    This is more home built camper than most tiny houses to me, but it suits your purpose and you did a fantastic job of planning and documenting! That you were planning an Instructable as you built is a big bonus -- otherwise would you have documented as carefully as you did? That documentation will come in handy a year or two down the road if/when you run into a problem or decide to make alterations. You would have done well to investigate campers more. A camper water heater is small, six gallons is typical. Older ones are gas only, newer gas and electric. When I use gas I just turn it on 5-10 minutes before I want hot water, then turn it off when done. They are very well insulated and compact, and will hold hot water for hours once heated. Obviously they heat up pretty fast on gas. My newest camper has a gas/electric heater -- on electric I just leave it on. Doesn't take much to keep water hot once heated, and obviously the electric element doesn't heat it up as quick as gas. But your tankless water heater is a great idea, and takes no more room than the camper tank heater. Probably other camper tricks you could have used. Buying an old camper and stripping it for parts and such is a good idea. I don't think I'd try to use the shell for a semi-permanent abode, but strip it down to the frame and just use that and many of the aplicances, tanks, and other fixtures. Room for improvement, but you know that. Fantastic job for a first build!

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  • farna commented on bennelson's instructable Build Your Own Electric Car!6 months ago
    Build Your Own Electric Car!

    Cheapest way to add range is to install a small generator -- even a little 700W (running, 900W peak), $99 Harbor Freight unit would add a LOT of cruising miles. It would sip gas, so you'd get 70+ mpg, and could even use fewer batteries for less weight. The 20 mile range car would get triple the range, as the batteries would mostly be used for taking off, cruising would run mainly on the generator. Would take some work on the control side though. Should be able to rig the generator basically as a battery charger and run it all the time, that would be the simplest way. It would only run at higher speeds when there was a lot of current draw. Just make sure the generator exhaust is run out of the car... sort of goes without saying! Makes it a hybrid instead of true electric, but would be m...

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    Cheapest way to add range is to install a small generator -- even a little 700W (running, 900W peak), $99 Harbor Freight unit would add a LOT of cruising miles. It would sip gas, so you'd get 70+ mpg, and could even use fewer batteries for less weight. The 20 mile range car would get triple the range, as the batteries would mostly be used for taking off, cruising would run mainly on the generator. Would take some work on the control side though. Should be able to rig the generator basically as a battery charger and run it all the time, that would be the simplest way. It would only run at higher speeds when there was a lot of current draw. Just make sure the generator exhaust is run out of the car... sort of goes without saying! Makes it a hybrid instead of true electric, but would be more practical. The generator could provide all cruising electricity. Ideally you'd want a little more generator than required for cruising so the batteries would get a little extra charge for when you get back in town.

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  • farna commented on scoochmaroo's instructable Krispy Kreme Donut (Doughnut) Recipe6 months ago
    Krispy Kreme Donut (Doughnut) Recipe

    Just cut into squares or rectangles and fry, call them Beignets!

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  • farna commented on woodbywright's instructable Free Lumber the Hard Way7 months ago
    Free Lumber the Hard Way

    The way it was done in the "good old days"... think pioneering days..

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  • Digital Wall Calendar and Home Information Center

    DAKboard: https://dakboard.com/siteBasically the same as this 'ible, but it apparently runs from a web service you sign up for. I'd prefer something stand-alone so I don't have to share info with anyone I don't want to. But DAKboard does have a ready to go unit at a reasonable price ($299 +$20 shipping to US, but currently on backorder, so price may go up a bit). Or there are instructions to make your own, then you can sign up for the service... apparently at no charge? Couldn't find anything about cost without actually signing up. But you can use it on a regular computer as well.

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  • farna commented on seamster's instructable Portable Bandsaw Metal Stand11 months ago
    Portable Bandsaw Metal Stand

    I bet an old sewing machine foot switch would work, for those who want to re-purpose/recycle something...

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  • farna commented on buck2217's instructable La-z-boy Reclaimed11 months ago
  • farna commented on craftedworkshop's instructable Building A Computer Desk / DIY Desk PC12 months ago
    Building A Computer Desk / DIY Desk PC

    If you don't need much computing power it would be real easy to build everything into one drawer. Just mount a ITX or other small motherboard in there with a power supply. You just need to make sure you have enough cable slack to open the drawer. Many other small computers come to mind, the quad core Raspberry Pi for example...

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  • Bluetooth Door Lock (Arduino)

    There are problems with this, one being if power fails you can't get in. Batteries die also. There are several makes of push-button combination door locks that run on batteries. A really cool idea would be to attach the Arduino controller to one of those. Even if you had to by-pass the keyboard (use bluetooth smart phone to get in) it would be a neat project. Should be able to simply bypass the keyboard lock and activate the bolt remotely though, at least on the dead-bolt versions. These locks have a keyed entry option also, so you're never locked out (or in without taking the lock apart). Of course Schlage and Kwikset both make bluetooth accessible "connected" lock sets in the US, starting at $200...https://www.build.com/schlage-be469nx-cam/s828834...

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  • farna commented on makjosher's instructable The Anywhere Outlet1 year ago
    The Anywhere Outlet

    Well this is a good looking outlet and I can see where it would be a better choice than a traditional power strip. I must be a stick-in-the-mud, however, and point out that a power strip with a small dual USB wall wart (or two if you need them) will be a lot less cost and serve the same purpose, and most have a built-in circuit breaker. A long narrow strip might not work well for some locations though. I've used a similar setup on construction sites -- a dual outlet metal box on the end of a 10 gauge extension cord so more than one power tool can be plugged in. As noted, you need to size the cord according to the expected load. Even with four outlets, we usually only ran one or two tools at a time, just didn't have to reach down and change cords when more than one tool was required for ...

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    Well this is a good looking outlet and I can see where it would be a better choice than a traditional power strip. I must be a stick-in-the-mud, however, and point out that a power strip with a small dual USB wall wart (or two if you need them) will be a lot less cost and serve the same purpose, and most have a built-in circuit breaker. A long narrow strip might not work well for some locations though. I've used a similar setup on construction sites -- a dual outlet metal box on the end of a 10 gauge extension cord so more than one power tool can be plugged in. As noted, you need to size the cord according to the expected load. Even with four outlets, we usually only ran one or two tools at a time, just didn't have to reach down and change cords when more than one tool was required for a job. Running four 8-12A power tools at once would have been a problem! 10 gauge is only rated for 15A. Most replacement cords are 16 or 14 gauges, rated at ~4A and ~6A, respectively, when used for power transmission (22A and 32A for short runs, the shorter the cord the more it can safely carry). See http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm

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  • farna commented on jenspen's instructable Retro Radio Upgrade1 year ago
  • farna commented on amackay's instructable Junkyard Radio to Table Radio1 year ago
    Junkyard Radio to Table Radio

    Try a wal-wart from telephone equipment -- answering machine or wireless telephone. They should be a bit better shielded and have enough power.

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  • How to Spray Paint your jeep and make an assault vehicle

    No negotiating over price. I removed all the trim, bumpers, and lights. One car I drove to the shop so left the tail lights in, took a screwdriver and removed them when I got there. I also wet sanded the car and filled a few minor dings. Even if you let them fill the larger dings still wet sand the car yourself. You need to research paint prepping a car, you can find several articles on the 'net better than I can explain. If you want a color they don't have you will need to purchase your own paint. Talk to the shop owner about what brand and type paint they prefer before buying. You may need more than just paint -- they should be able to tell you what you need to bring if you use something other than what they normally use -- or they may refuse to spray a different type/brand. As I said...

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    No negotiating over price. I removed all the trim, bumpers, and lights. One car I drove to the shop so left the tail lights in, took a screwdriver and removed them when I got there. I also wet sanded the car and filled a few minor dings. Even if you let them fill the larger dings still wet sand the car yourself. You need to research paint prepping a car, you can find several articles on the 'net better than I can explain. If you want a color they don't have you will need to purchase your own paint. Talk to the shop owner about what brand and type paint they prefer before buying. You may need more than just paint -- they should be able to tell you what you need to bring if you use something other than what they normally use -- or they may refuse to spray a different type/brand. As I said, no negotiating on price. You buy the paint job they sell. If you do more prep work you get a better, longer lasting job and they tend to take more care also. If you bring your own paint they won't reduce price normally. When using house paint their cost is minimal since they buy in bulk. They can usually mix just about any color, the house paint is a good quality paint in most cases.

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  • farna commented on ambercollective's instructable How to Buy an Ex-Ambulance1 year ago
    How to Buy an Ex-Ambulance

    Your biggest mileage breaker in an ex military vehicle is the rear ale ratio. The smallish engine (2.24L? small I-6?) for the vehicle size means it needs a lot of gear, especially when carrying a load. The military Jeep Gladiator based M-715 had a 3.77L I-6 and used a 5.87:1 axle with a four speed manual transmission. You need a bit higher (smaller number = higher gear) rear axle for one thing, but remember that it will reduce towing/load capacity. Unless you plan on hauling a load cross country that shouldn't be much of an issue. I would think you can go up at least one whole number (using the Jeep example, from a 5.87 to a 4.87). That should gain you 2-3 mpg and increase highway speed. The Jeep would attain 55 mph, but I wouldn't want to push it at that speed for a long run.

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  • farna commented on MathieuP2's instructable Armchair upcycled from pallets1 year ago
    Armchair upcycled from pallets

    Great design, but the pallets I find around here (central South Carolina. US) are usually made of rather rough wood. Unless you have way too much time on your hands sanding isn't a good option -- better to buy wood or salvage from another source. I realize, however, that part of the "fun" is recycling the pallet. A belt sander will work best. Sand the upper surface before taking the pallet apart so everything stays in place, then as the poster suggests, CUT the end boards off close instead of trying to pull the nails/pry boards apart to reduce splitting. If the wood is really dry and brittle (cracks easily), DRILL holes for screws or nails just a little smaller than the screw or nail. You may need to countersink screw heads. Don't need a fancy countersink bit, just drill the ...

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    Great design, but the pallets I find around here (central South Carolina. US) are usually made of rather rough wood. Unless you have way too much time on your hands sanding isn't a good option -- better to buy wood or salvage from another source. I realize, however, that part of the "fun" is recycling the pallet. A belt sander will work best. Sand the upper surface before taking the pallet apart so everything stays in place, then as the poster suggests, CUT the end boards off close instead of trying to pull the nails/pry boards apart to reduce splitting. If the wood is really dry and brittle (cracks easily), DRILL holes for screws or nails just a little smaller than the screw or nail. You may need to countersink screw heads. Don't need a fancy countersink bit, just drill the small hole first then use a bit the size of the screw head and drill a shallow hole. The smaller hole will guide the larger bit to center.

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