Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tarden Timelapse

The first year of our Tarden (what you get when the Tards decide to grow a garden) has been fairly successful. Using an old (~1990 vintage) 8mm camcorder hooked up to my Mac Mini on the porch over the summer, we took some stills of the garden once an hour. After removing all of the "dark" pictures during the nights, I made a quick time-lapse video.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We finished putting up the frame with some help from my bucketloader. We used lag bolts at the top to attach to the frame of the garage. The goal is to have no support posts so that we can get the large vehicles toys (like bucketloaders and dump trucks) to the back yard. This video is our 2 hours of work squeezed into 2 minutes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fixin' up the garage

We're adding a little roof to the side of the garage to protect the short walkway to the side door from falling ice/snow. The bucketloader is helping us out here, as this section of roof is heavy. The frame is made up of wood recycled from another roof that we dismantled. We have some metal roofing (also recycled from the other section of roof) that we will be mounting to this frame.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun with LEDs and CNC machines

When my cousin Ian was here during the summer, he wanted to make something cool for a girl... It's amazing what boys will do for girls. He wanted to make something really cool and personalized. I, of course, saw this as the perfect opportunity to play with my CNC machine.

First, we used a super-tiny end mill (0.020 inches in diameter!) to engrave her name in a piece of acrylic.

Then we created a base from polyethylene. While it machines OK, it absolutely sucks to cut on the bandsaw (it just melts against the blade). It was so bad, I ended up using the mill to "cut" the piece from a larger block. Here, we've added an LED. This one is a green (because she likes green, of course) Avago 1W LED. We put one at each end facing towards the center where her name will go.
Here's a test of the unit. The green LEDs shine into the acrylic, and where it hits the engraving, it comes out the front. The picture is a little over-exposed. It looks way nicer in real life.We tucked all the wiring into the base and added a barrel plug in the back that hooks up to a miscellaneous DC "wall-wart" I had laying around. The barrel plug fit nicely into the hole we machined into the base, and there was a slot in the bottom for all of the wires and a resistor (to limit the current to the LEDs). The wires and resistor were kept securely in the base using H.G. technology (that's Hot Glue, for the unacronymned).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tards repeated on 2 meter amateur radio

Aaron has constructed a 2m receiver and we finished aligning it. Ollie duct-taped a dual band whip base station antenna to make it vertical and we connected it to a vhf/uhf duplexer. The UHF side was connected to a 448.500 MHz transmitter at about 1.5 Watts. The receiver was connected to the VHF side at 147.740. The units were linked with a small PIC microcontroller that Ollie helped me build during the long winter. This provides Morse code ID, tail, and tailbeep, as well as timeout functions. This is all the features you need for a ham repeater which allows you to be rebroadcast from a good vantage point. After a cranky solder joint on the transmitting crystal was identified, I did a road test with KB1FLG with my HT in the car. I was able to go 4.5 miles up route 12 before things got scratchy, not bad for an antenna laying the driveway. This could be the basis of a system that is remotely located and/or solar powered. (BTW, in case you care, the TX crystal was from a toy walkie talkie at 49.830 MHz, which x3 and x3 is 448.5)

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Here at TardHaus, we like to recycle our aluminum cans. In typical TardHaus style, we don't do it the same way most people do. Instead, we melt the aluminum (using a charcoal-powered blast furnace) and use green-sand molds to make whatever we want. The extra melted aluminum goes into a muffin pan to make "ingots" that can be remelted later and made into more stuff.

I took a couple of these ingots and decided to try them out on my CNC mill. It's an EMCO F1-CNC milling machine that was retrofitted by students from Vermont Technical College with new stepper motors, gecko drivers, and Mach 3 software.
After milling some flats on the sides so my vise could grip the ingot, I milled the face and then played with cutting a circular pocket.

Then I played with machining heatsink fins.

I plan to mount some high-power LEDs to this heat sink and make a more permanent lamp for the CNC machine. The current lamp is a single CREE X-Lamp star that Aaron hacked together for me. It does a good job, but I'd like more light.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


How do you shingle your screened in porch in seven hours? Hire us. We've needed to do this for a while but it didn't leak so what was the rush? Unfortunately for us our hand was forced and we needed to get it done. The weather hasn't exactly been cooperating so when we finally got a nice day we went for it. The work was started at roughly 4:30pm and work completed at about 12:00am. Everyone chipped in to get this done and it doesn't look half bad.

We had the roof cleared of all the old debris at about 5:30pm.

I'm going to guess this was about 7:30pm or so, we had all the new tar paper in place.

The ground crew measuring and cutting everything we needed to make the install go smoothly.

At about 9:30 SamCo was showing me how to properly apply bug spray. Oh and we had fourish rows of shingles down.

Thanks to Minion for this picture at 12:10am or so. I couldn't have climbed the tower if my life depended on it.

Giant Plant

Part of our lawn has been left to the wilds and we get some pretty weird things growing out there. This however has us baffled. We don't know what it is but it sure does like growing. That's SamCo for height reference.

Wood Fort Pictures

Quick addition to the post from below. Some of you might not realize when we say a fort we really mean it. We don't really have any place to store 16 pallets of wood pellets besides our giant driveway. We still can't see who's parked in a few of our parking spots. Oh and by the way Shane was wrong, it has now been a week and there are still six pallets in our driveway. Fail.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fort Tard

We have received 16 pallets of pellets (Sally sells sea shells) wood pellets on wood pallets that is. The "Tard's Mahal" (garage) is primarily heated with a homemade pellet stove (made from a recycled washing machine and furnace). "Shane says" the ones that we don't own (we bought 4 of the 16 we unloaded) will be gone in a week. We'll see. The tall pallets make the driveway feel like a fort. It is cool. If it would stop raining for a few days we could do cool things with them since the forklift now has brakes that really work!

Signals from 22200 miles in the sky

In June, 2005, the Tards braved great peril installing a 10 foot C-band antenna. Only a few days after successfully receiving NASA, the transition to digital occurred on Jul 1, 2005. An FTA receiver that could decode the new digital signals was purchased and was used to view the "return to space" mission (after Columbia was lost in February, 2003) on July 25, 2005. The satellite system has been down since the building of the new garage. With help from Aaron, one of Tardhaus's best summer residents, the satellite is again up and ready for the next launch July 11, 2009 (weather permitting). We currently have 4 NASA TV channels to choose from and are rebroadcasting on the Tardhaus video system on channel 125. The signals are being received on C-band at 4040 MHz from AMC 6 at 72.0 degrees W, almost directly South of the Tardhaus!. Imagine, the Tardhaus is receiving digital transmissions directly from NASA!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


While all of us that live in the TH are known for being electronic minded, none of us are known for having a green thumb. We're still in the early stages of the Tarden but Ollie has gotten little green plants to sprout form the ground in a semi ordered fashion. We'll have to wait and see if things continue to go well as the summer progresses.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Busy Day

Lots going on at the TH today. We had Hydrogen Rockets, which ended when the rocket ended up on the roof of the garage. Building a bare bones computer system, sill in process with that, see the "green screen of death" picture below. Lastly there was the cooking of fried dough in the fryer thingie. Sweet pics below.

Ok, so I just realized I don't have any photo editing software on my lappy yet. Minion tried to get me to use Paint to resize and crop my pictures. While he is correct that it can be done, he left out some steps when relying how it was done, so I ended up with a giant white background and a little picture. I'll update the pictures tomorrow.

Its tomorrow and I finished loading some real photo editing software onto my lappy. Makes things much easier. Speaking of making things easier theres gotta be a better way to create/edit these blog posts. This "compose" view blows, and the HTML isn't much better. Partly cause the window is so darn small. . Here are the pictures.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tards making cookies

What do you do when you have a 72 oz bag of chocolate chips? You make one giant batch of cookies. The giant batch is actually the recipe on the back of the bag x4. Making four batches of cookies sounds like a great idea cause you end up with tons of cookies. What we didn't realize was how long it would take to bake them. You might ask yourself what does a giant batch of chocolate chip cookies look like. Well it looks our sweet Kitchen Aid mixer overflowing with cookie dough. We were astonished at how much the bowl weighed so we went and measured it. Yea, 16lbs of cookie dough. How many cookies does that make? For us it made 188 cookies, there is a ginormous pile of them on our table. So if you want some cookies stop on by.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Tards!

Aaron (aka "Minion") has come to Tardhaus. He had so much stuff to bring down from VTC that I brought the dump truck up to pick him up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yardwork, Tardwork

This weekend we continued the removal of brush and converting the yard for summer. We've lost more bank behind the garage, but we cut some ugly leaner trees and removed deadwood. Instead of burning the brush, we have piled it in gorges forming along the bank to provide a base of fill. The new toy (backhoe) ought to help speed the process once it is up and running. Sumac and wild chervil are trying to take over. It's war.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Toy! New Toy!

I just purchased a 1973 Michigan bucketloader/backhoe. It needs a little bit of work (although not as much as I was expecting), but I think a weekend or two at the Tardhaus should have it in tip-top shape. If there's anything we can't fix ourselves, there is a place about a mile down the road called Farm-All-Fix that works on such equipment for reasonable rates. I bought it today, but it would't fit in the car to bring it back to Tardhaus, and we don't have a low-boy trailer (yet), so we're probably going to get a trucking company to pick it up and deliver it for us sometime this week.

Dryer Fixin's

Our dryer, a Maytag Neptune, has been drying clothes more and more slowly, and has needed multiple cycles to get clothes all the way dry. I had previously cleaned out the metal hose from the dryer to the outside of the house, but that didn't fix it. This, of course, means that it needs to be taken apart to be fixed. In my usual style, I didn't think about this until I was loading wet clothes into the dryer and decided I would fix it. With the wet clothes in the drum, I googled how to take apart this particular dryer, located the needed tools, and was off.

The culprit was a ton of lint that had made it past the lint trap and gathered up right in front of the blower motor that blows the air out the back of the unit. With this being clogged, the dryer just made steam in the dryer, but never blew much of it outside the house. With this problem resolved, I reassembled the dryer and ran my load of clothes, which dried nicely in a single cycle. Yay!

Life at Tardhaus

The Tards (residents of Tardhaus) do a lot of interesting projects. This blog is an attempt to capture some of the projects we work on so we can show others what we do.