Our Beloved Killer Bees

We had to destroy our lone hive.  This was the hive that had been going like crazy and racking up a ton of honey.  The one that survived the longest out of any of our hives, and was obtained for free from an infested owl box.  I had been having increasing aggression problems with them.  It was slowly building as the colony got larger.  I haven’t been able to mow the back yard in a month because they would attack, and then stay mad for hours later.  It was to the point that we couldn’t risk someone else getting hurt.

I will spare all the gory details of how we did it.  Needless to say our backyard was a horror show, I have been stung nearly 30 times, and we are both drained from the ordeal.

We did manage to harvest about 30 pounds of honey.  The spinner worked well again.  Newspaper on the floor really helped keep it from being a slippery mess.  The only major harvesting issue we had was that our electric hot knife died before we even got started.  This was only the third time we ever tried to use it.

Sore, swollen from stings and sad at the loss of another hive.

April-May Prints

April was a pretty quiet month for printing because I knew the new printer was coming.  May turned crazy once I got the prusa up and running.  I already posted on my battery storage and drawer divers in another post.


Salt Grinder

A co-worker had a cool salt grinder that kept breaking.  He wasn’t able to get refurbs anymore, so off to printing we go.  The body is heavy stainless, but that center window is very thin plastic.  It falls over easily and snaps off the threaded area.  I printed a tapered part that threads and glues into the spot where the plastic window was.  In addition I made a little stand for it to sit in so you can’t knock it over as easily.


Tape Measure Pocket

I typically use a tape measure at the table saw to set the rip width.  It works, but I think a wooden ruler would be more reliable.  I printed a pocket for it to attach to my table saw side so it is always close at hand.


Wonderful Wooden Filament

Not exactly the same as woodworking, but fun none the less.  They make wood dust filled filament.  It prints well and has a neat texture to it.  This stuff was made for printing baby groot!  I tried a set of benchy boats; one stained, one not.  It doesn’t appear to stain well, but made a great looking fidget spinner.


Desk Trophies

One of the criticisms of 3d printers is that they are only good for printing desktop trophies.  They are good for lots of other things, but yeah, they make awesome desk trophies!

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Bit Holders

Ok, back to useful prints.  I wanted to better organize my various driver bits, so I made these organizers with nice spacing for you to get fingers in and pick out the bit you need.  The markers are made using prusa’s multi-color print.  The one where you switch spools at a set Z height, not the one that changes color mid-stream.  I couldn’t do that on my last printer, but I am very happy it works on this one!  Too bad they don’t sell filament in dewalt yellow.


Mom Stuff

Don’t look mom, this is all going to be a surprise for you!  My mom wanted some altioid tin organizers and paint holders.  I figured she could also use pen/knitting needle/cable storage stuff as well as some funky knick knacks.

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Arbor Press

I picked up a cheap arbor press for pressing bearings, pressing printed parts, etc.  I made a number of arbor press fittings sized just for skate bearings and bolts.  They have a square hole that gives a perfect friction fit onto the arbor press end.  The printer also provided a nice glue on storage rack for my press ends.  I couldn’t help myself with the two color printing, and made a crush hazard sign.  Watch your fingers.  I should print some pirate flare and turn this thing into an ARRRRRRRRbor press.


Random

Last but not least I found a cool box on thingiverse for holding spare printer nozzles, a handle for turning reciprocating saw blades into short hack saws, and a penny powered fidget spinner.

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I probably forgot something, but that is enough for now.  Since getting the new printer I have printed for 136 hours, and pushed out over 800 meters of filament.  That is kind of impressive.  I can stop any time I want.

Prusa I3 MK2s Build

I finally got my new printer.  Nearly 2 months after purchasing it shows up the day after my birthday!  That is one serious adventure in a cardboard box.

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I rolled out some paper onto the dinner table and got rocking.  I couldn’t help but setup my gopro and get a time-lapse of the assembly.

The total build time was between 5 and 6 hours plus some tweak and tune time.  The first print had to be the prusa logo in honor of the great maker.

Print baby print

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With it up and running I got to bootstrapping.  The kit comes very complete, and really is a wonderful printer.  That having been said, the little knob they included to run the interface isn’t great.  It rubs and is awkward to use.  Print a new one!

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A lot of my filament is from when I first bought the monoprice back last summer.  It spent a lot of time sitting out collecting dust.  Someone made a nice clip in dust filter that goes right on top of the extruder.

Next came a replacement for the spool holder.  The one included works, but you have to sort of bend it out of the way to get a new spool on.  Plus something with bearings would DSC_0832roll a lot smoother.  Any catches or resistance in the spool rolling could cause Z banding as the extruder fights to pull in filament.  Thingiverse had a great assembly that sits on top.  It included a printable threaded nut and bolt that turned out gorgeous!  Skate bearings pressed into the rollers so the spool rolls with little resistance.  A filament guide keeps it running true.

Speaking of spool holders, my one major disaster so far has been this print job.  Sometime over night the extruder actually pulled the spool off the holder.  Nothing broke except the filament guide (just print another).  It turns out the spool was wrapped poorly and kind of synched itself off.  Poor spool wrapping perhaps.

I monitor all my prints with a webcam and octoprint.  This works out well while on the other side of the house, or on the go.  The only trick is that I have to leave a light on after dark.  Instead of leaving the room lights on constantly I designed and printed some brackets for holding thin under-cabinet LED lights.  Serendipitously one light will fit in a slot the spool holder had.  Only a small printed wedge was needed to keep it secure.  The other two went on my bracket.  It clears the extruder at full height.

It is turning into a proper looking monster!  Let the print games begin.

 

Major Hive Weight Increase

I don’t normally post about the usual inspections of the hive, but today’s was worthy.  We went out to check on the girls and oh boy had they been busy.  Despite having had very little rain since the new year they are finding nectar somewhere.  We had a 40 pound increase in the last 3 weeks.

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Seriously busy as a bee.  The previous time we checked they increased about 25 pounds in the same time.  Not sure where they are finding it all, everything is brown in the area, but glad they are.  We aren’t going to be able to harvest for a few weeks and everything was slammed full.  Had to stick on another super.  At this rate they will fill it too before we get to harvest.

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Battery Charging Station

I am mildly obsessed with flashlights.  These flashlights take fancy 18650 lithium ion batteries that can be recharged.  I have a lot of light accessories, spare batteries from laptops, and other things that need storage and organization.  Similarly cameras tend to have their own specialized batteries that need storage and charging.  I built a flexible station to hold all my chargers in one place.  Later I added an extras organizer from a repurposed storage box.

I started with all the specialized chargers I could find.  Two for flashlight batteries and two for cameras.  I decided to go for the pedal board route.  Guitarists can have a lot of effects pedals for their instruments.  Instead of having them all splayed across the floor they tend to put them on a thin box using velcro.  The box has slits that allow cables to pass inside the box out of the way.

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I built it to fit a shelf in my office closet and made it wide enough to expand with new charger capacity if need be.  Nothing special, just some pine I had hanging out.  The chargers are held at about a 60 degree angle, and there is space in the back to strap down a power strip.

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I wanted it dark to help hide the dark cables and velcro.  I never have good luck staining pine, but mixed up a water based dye blend.  It turned out great!

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With velcro and power strip in place I could start attaching chargers.

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A 4×1 outlet extender lets you plug in chargers that are supposed to go directly into a wall outlet.  I added a device called a blackout buddy.  Eaton makes them and they are red cross branded.  It plugs in and charges itself.  When the power goes out it turn on the light so can see.  Now when our power goes out I can find my way to the flashlight stash in the dark.  It fit like a charm on the shelf in my closet.

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Next up I pulled an old drawer storage box thing out of the trash.  It used to have board games in it, but was destined for the dump.  I thought the all-wood construction it was worth saving.  After re-gluing a few bad joints it was in good shape.

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The bottom drawer houses all the extra batteries I had from laptop pulls and random purchases.  I printed a number of organizers to keep them from touching.  Every organizer positively holds the battery in place so they can’t come out and can’t touch each other.  Keeping them from touching is an important part of preventing battery damage and fires.  Plenty of room left to store more batteries.

The middle drawer has random flashlight stuff.  O-rings, manuals, cases, etc.  I printed some dividers to hot glue down to keep the drawer from being a mess every time you open and close the drawer.

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Lastly I threw some of my DSLR gear in the top drawer because I never really had a good place for it.  3D printing and woodworking come together to help organize and support my camera and flashlight fixations.  What a gorgeous synergy!

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Sharpening Station

Sharpening is one of those things that you know you should do often, but always gets put off.  It is often said 90% of your problems with hand tools can be fixed by proper sharpening.  I am getting better at free hand sharpening, and getting less lazy over time.  It is hard to always have some dedicated space to sharpening though.  I read an article in Fine Woodworking Magazine where someone suggested using a basic tool box plus custom top as a sharpening station.  It is portable to follow you around the shop, and has all the right stuff where you need it.  Instead of buying something I decided to stash bust and build one.

I have a ton of 3/4″ plywood around from my temporary kitchen counter tops, and some left over spares from the cabinet installation.  I turned them into a 16×16 open fronted box, along with a few drawers.

Given that the case and drawers would be short I didn’t want to use my normal method of attachment.  This typically involves building the drawer to just below the inside width of the box, and using pine as runners.  It is quick and easy, but the drawers fall out if you pull too far.  Instead I went with metal slides, and got to use my new drawer install tools.

I picked up a slide install tool and drawer guides from rockler.  They help a lot, but are a little awkward to use.  I wish I had do more research before buying.  I think kreg might have a better system.

Instead of using some kind of gripy surface to hold all the various plates and stones in place I went with a small vise.

On the left is a small work surface with bench dog clamps to help hold sharpening plates.  It is offset to the left to prevent drawer interference.  On the right is a small granite surface plate I had.  I added a protective cover to it eventually (seen in later photos).  Now I can use whatever method of hand sharpening best fits the situation of the tool.

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I built 3 sets of drawers to start with because it was all I thought I would need.  Then I found enough stuff to add a 4th drawer.  Once that was built and installed I found enough for a 5th.  I probably have too much sharpening junk.

The project ended up stretching out over a month as I worked on other things and came back with more ideas.  In that time I used a few different pieces of plywood for the front face of the drawers, so they don’t match well.  I did cook up a cool side caddy for honing fluids though.

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In all I think I am going to like it.  It rolls nicely, tucks away under one of my other benches that didn’t have a use for that space, holds a lot of stuff in the drawers, and even has space on the bottom shelf for my work sharp tool box and saw sharpening clamp.  The only thing it might need is weight in the bottom to help with stability.  Now I have no excuse not to sharpen early and often.

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Easter Brisket Saga

How can one lowly Brisket turn into a whole saga?  Well gather round, because I have a tale of how much misery and woe a single slab of beef can cause.  Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but there was a lot of water all over the kitchen floor.

This story starts off innocently enough.  A boy and his brisket.  15 pounds of beefy goodness.  I had read about cooking a brisket via sous vide, then smoking it.  You get the tenderness of sous vide, with natural smoke flavor added.  Smoking briskets is hard, they are easy to dry out in the thinner flat area.  This should be easy!

I gave it a nice trim, set the fat cap to roughly the right thickness and then sprinkled generously with salt and pepper.  It is like putting on a fancy tuxedo, only for food.

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Plan A

Next I cut it up, stuffed it in big ziplocks and tried to fit everything in my usual food grade polycarbonate container.  Oooohhh  might not be big enough.  The point is sticking up inches out of the tub.

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Plan B

No big deal, I have one of those fancy modern soft coolers.  People do sous vide in coolers right?

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It looks all snug and warm in its soft jacket.  Zip everything up and come back 24 hours later!

Wait, what is that dripping sound?  Why is the cooler leaking?

It turns out the cooler is only rated for 120F, not 155.  So the liner glue let go and started leaking everywhere.  I pulled out my hard plastic cooler and dumped everything in.

Plan C

Plastic coolers are definitely ok to work with.

Why is there water everywhere?  Oh great, the drain plug was out.  At this point I was running around like a mad man trying to sop up the gallons of hot water.  No pictures exist.

This container will work, but it is huge.  It needs at least 5 gallons to get everything covered right, and there is no good way for the sous vide cooker to live in there.  Normally they cut a hole in the lid so the electronics can be outside.  This will hold for now, but I need a…

Plan D

Run off to the supermarket and come back with a styrofoam container.  Big enough for a brisket, but not a monster like my big cooler.  It can definitely handle the high temp (you put boiling hot coffee in the stuff after all!).  I modified the lid on the band saw and we were back in business.

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A few hours later I walked by and water was all over the floor.  Apparently the foam is porous enough to let a little bit of water weep through.

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Plan D-2

Re-enter the plastic tub I tried using from the beginning.  It is only weeping a cup every hour or two.  I can keep it full for the time needed, and this tub should keep the floor dry.

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The Next Day

I made it through the night without spilling any more water on the floor.  The brisket actually turned out looking pretty.  Dark, soft, and ready for the smoker.  After another application of the tuxedo treatment that is.

Because the beef is already completely cooked there is no need to smoke all day.  Only a few hours to impart some nice flavor.  I went for about 3.5 hours on a low smoke.

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They are nowhere near as dark as they would be had they been smoked all the way through.  Still, they have been nice dinners for the week.  Reasonably moist, and pretty tender.  The fat is rendered perfectly.  That kind of melt in your mouth velvet feeling when you eat some of it.  I need a new container scheme if I want to do this again.