Monday, October 5, 2009

Golf Cart Running

    Last week my parents came down to visit and I spend a good part of the time working on my golf cart with my dad.  We finished the wiring and thanks to Galen, we picked up some good looking skins off of craigslist. We had a little trouble at first getting it moving.  It went down the hill just fine, but was underpowered going back up the hill.  Fortunately I brought my dad for the test drive and he worked just as well as the motor to get us back to the shop.  Discovered that a few of the batteries were a bit under powered and had to use a different charger to get them up to where the cart charger would charge them.  Apparently if the voltage is too low on the batteries, the charger will not charge them back up.  Anyway, here are a few shots of the cart.  Still need to do some work on the interior.  The last guy tried to paint the hood camo so I tried to scrape off as much as I could and sand blast it a little.  I figure that paint will fix the rest.  The floor mat needs a little work as well.  Haven’t decided if a rear seat kit would be worth the expense.  I don't think it will make a difference on the price when I sell it.  I also need to recover the seats so they match.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons Weekend - Postmortem

Interestingly enough, it was awesome.
The Almighty DM has a real treat prepared for us when we arrived. He and some friends had conspired to create a intro to the game that was top notch. The actors painted a picture of intrigue, deception, and betrayal as the game participants contemplated how they came to be in their current predicament. One of the players (Clint) did the sound and editing, creating a seamless and engaging atmosphere. After the rest of the party staggered out the door in the wee hours of the morning, we hit the sack knowing that we have only a few moments of shut-eye before the gaming began.

We started out the day at 8am and finished around 2am. Things started off well on a ship somewhere in the depths that surround Ravenloft. Unfortunately for our DM we made quick work of what should have taken most of the day to process. Instead of sticking together and searching the ship, as was intended, we split up to cover more ground and probably ended up missing the true nature of why we were on the ship in the first place. right from the start most of the players seemed to be very withdrawn and secretive. They have even gone as far as to hide critical information that they gathered on the ship that could prove vital later in the game.

Once we got off the ship, we went our ways to get back home where we found a note instructing us to be at a certain spot at a certain time for further instructions. We met up the the town mayor, picked up a guide, shot up some locals, and found ourselves at the mansion of one of the oldest residents of Ravenloft. On our way to his house, we came across a mansion that appeared deserted with a bleeding statue who vomits flies. He gave us a mission to find several pieces of an artifact and bring them back to him. We set out and soon discovered that many of us were undergoing some changes, both physical and mental.

We stopped in a town and picked up supplies. I bought a horse that was way over priced at $2000 gold and used it for about a day. As we set out to find the first piece of the artifact, we hooked up with a witch that helped direct us to where we needed to go. Strange old coot who sold jewelry. As we headed to the first artifact, we encountered a crumbling tower with a zombie and a willow-wisp in the basement. The zombie was hanging in the middle of the room and pretty quiet until you tried to steal his treasure which was under a stone in the floor. When we pulled the treasure box out, he started to freak out and tried to grab the knife in his belt. I mean come on, since when did zombies start carrying knifes? So I took it away from him and he was pretty harmless after that. We took the treasure upstairs and was fixing to open it when a militia shows up and wants us to surrender. How did they find us? What would they want with us? To the first question, we were betrayed not really sure by who or why, this is where it probably help to have played they type of games before. To the second question, I think they want our autographs. I mean how many people to you know that are actively evolving into some other beings? We said no, so they started trying to bring the place down. Clint and I headed downstairs to get the zombie and send him out as a distraction. I grabbed the feet since I knew that zombies like brains and I did not what it anywhere near mine. Clint on the other hand... So we bring him upstairs and sick him on Adam. Instead of shoving him out the door, Adam goes a couple of rounds with the zombie. I open the treasure box and someone downstairs wants us to search the zombie for the keys. Clint does and I take the keys downstairs where someone has found a trap door that was under the treasure box. Fortunately, I only have 13 keys to try and the trap door is covered in 3 feet of water. It takes me several tries to get the right one and we all start piling through the door. Err, except that is for Adam. Clint graciously booby-traps the stairs and tells everyone upstairs that it is a trap. Probably to that they will know not to come down this way. Too bad Adam is still up there. Somehow we get the treasure box half way down the stairs and Bonnie dumps out her backpack to put all the gold in it. She gives the bag to me and jumps through the trap door. The rest of us follow suit except for Adam who is determined to finish off the zombie and the rest of the militia. Clint covers our tracks be setting off a smoke grenade before going down into the hole. So now the stairs are booby-trapped and the room with the only escape is filled with smoke. Good luck Adam. See you in another life :) The tunnel is pretty cramped. Picture a 3 foot x 2 foot drainage shaft with 6 people swimming down it. This is where we end our game session. I cant wait for the next one!

Fortunately, I was invited back and got the thumbs up from the spouse! We are going to hold it quarterly in an attempt to make it more convenient for all the players to make it.

Darrien Lockwood

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons Weekend

  I have a friend that Emma introduced me to through one of Olivia’s friends at school.  His name is Chris Newton and we seem to have a lot in common.  Emma said when she first met him that she was shocked to find out that he was into everything that I was and then some.  Of course I do not make my own home brewed beer or dedicate me free time to preparing for the Renaissance Festival.  After meeting, he got me started in all sorts of hair brained schemes and of course I am more than happy to try anything.  :)

  The fist one was picking up free broken big screen rear projection TVs and fixing them up.  We thought we would be able to sell them for some extra cache… that is until we discovered that you could get a new 54” rear projection TV for around $200 since the technology has made them worthless.  So I did get a new (new to me) 54” Mitsubishi TV out of my efforts.  They are a little difficult to just drop off in a dumpster or have the garbage man pick them up on his way through the neighborhood so they are not exactly free.  I have to pay about $35 for the land fill to take the ones I don't want.

  The next scheme has a bit more merit.  We are building CNC router mills from free printer parts we get off of craigslist.  Again, not completely free since it costs money to dispose of the stuff you don't want, but we are hoping to work out the bugs and make an affordable desktop version that will help up to recoup our expenses.  The project is temporarily on hold until I can get the golf carts out of my garage and find my tables saw and work bench again.  We would like to get the CNC mills going before the next renaissance fair so that we can sell some the the stuff we make.  Chris has a great idea for making one that we can engrave mug blanks with custom designs.  I will post some images on our projects later.

  For Tessa and Tasha’s birthday party, one of Chris’s friends came up from San Antonio.  Johnny was talking about getting together to do a dungeons and dragons gaming weekend.  Having heard about D&D and never experiencing it, I began to ask questions and soon found myself invited to participate.  I had to do a lot of reading on how the create characters and what the basic rules were.  I also had to put together a character and a background for that character.  I came up with a character named Darrien Lockwood who was a blacksmith that found himself in a strange land after falling overboard when the ship encountered a strange mist.  I ended up in a town called Port a-Lucine in Ravenloft.  It took me about a month to come up with that story and I hope it is enough to go on.  I tried to give my character traits that I might have so that it will be easier to portray my character in game.  I am originally from England around the 1500s.  I am not sure how people talked back then so I may do my worst Scottish accent and try to pass that off.  I guess we get extra points for playing with an accent.  When all else fails, go Scottish.

  I don't know how excited Emma is about the whole thing.  She probably figures that it will pass.  I figure it would be fun to see what an actual D&D game is really like.  More of a social experiment you could say.

Golf Cart Restoration

The other day I picked up a golf cart off of craigslist for $300. I didn't have my trailer with me and it happed to fit nicely in the back of my minivan with the seats out. I brought it home and had a hard time pushing it into the garage apparently the previous owner tried to put a lift kit on it without putting a wider front axel on it and so the lift kit was rubbing on the tires. This is probably why the input shaft and coupler got stripped. I pulled out the batteries and looked at the battery box. It was in pretty rough shape and I didn’t have a welder. I figured I would just build me a new one since it didn’t look that difficult. Emma said that Jay Draper up the street had a welder and so I walked up there and got to talking to him. He said I could barrow his welder and that he have a friend named Van Watson down in Kyle that restored golf carts for a living. From what I read online, if you had a bad coupler, you had to replace the whole motor. I figured that I could just weld a nut onto the bad coupler and pop the if off the motor since they did sell coupler online, I figured there must be some what to get it off of there. Sure enough we were able to separate it from the motor. I called Van and got a new input shaft and coupler. My input shaft has the 21 teeth on it.

I also noticed that the frame was in pretty rough shape and so I talked to Van about getting one from his scrap pile. He sold me the input shaft, the coupler, and the frame for $250. Great deal! The input shaft is $100 online the coupler is $30 and I couldn’t even find a new frame. I would have had to build it form scratch.

New $300 Golf Cart

ELP_0787 (Medium) ELP_1028 (Medium)
Rusted out frame
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Battery Box has seen better days, but there is enough of it to use as a pattern for the new one.
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Front lift kit. Guy forgot the wider axel and stripped the input shaft from the wheels rubbing.ELP_1047 (Medium)Good batteries are worth about $100 a piece and there are 6 of them. That alone was worth picking up the car
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Coupler that I welded a nut to so I could get it off the motor and Stripped Input Shaft
ELP_0783 (Medium) ELP_0782 (Medium)
Left Over Parts form both Cars
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I decided to use the rear springs off the fist cart since they were in better shape (not flat)ELP_1029 (Medium)Rear axel out of the new cart all painted… sure hope the the differential accepts a 21 tooth input shaft.
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Just finished up welding the new battery box
Applied the rust converter and all the spots where rust was is now black. So that means everything
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Put the rear back together and now it is the front ends turn.
Could not get the rack and pinion off for the life of me so I am painting around it.
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Finished with the rust-x now to the final coat of black high gloss
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Nearly forgot the seat rack.
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Shot of the front end off for painting
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I stopped by Van’s today to pick up a new F&R Switch, but his mechanic used the last new one he had on another car a week ago and didn’t tell him they were out. Have to wait a week to pick it up so I can start installing the electronics. I figure I will put the front end back on tomorrow and finish putting the battery box in place. I lined the batter box with truck bed liner to try and keep it from corroding from battery acid. Wish these were sealed gel batteries. I guess those are a bit more expensive. Also wish I had taken some more shots of the cars before I took them all apart. I remember where everything goes, but it would have been nice to see what they looked like before I started. I will probably finish stripping the car with the bad frame and and toss it. It is more rust than frame at this point. Not sure where I will be putting all the extra parts. Maybe I can see if Van wants them in trade for another project car when this one is done. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SpringBreak 2009

Spring break was fun this year. We pitched a couple of tents out in the back yard and camped out for 2 days. We recently acquired a fire pit and cooked all of our food on it. You see, campsites in Austin are extremely hard to come by if you dont make reservations a year in advance for spring break. I checked all the state and local parks in the area and everything was full. Probably just as well, the kids had lots of fun and we had the comforts of home close by. The rules were:
No playing in the house
Use the house if you need to go potty
Cook everything outside
No electronics
No eating the local wildlife
I spent both nights in the tents with the kids and Emma joined us on night 2.
Day 3, Emma did a home schooling experiment and you would have to ask her what the verdict was.
Day 4, we bought the parts for our water bottle launcher.
Instructables - Water or Soda Bottle Launcher

Water Bottle Rocket Launcher

We also hiked to a nearby part about a 2 mile hike.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Zilker Kite Festival 2009

Zilker Park Kite Festival Austin TX is a really big deal.

It is a good excuse to show off your bling.
If you take the CPR course, you get a free kite!!
The Yellow Cab of Austin is one of the sponsors.
Big Kites and weird people who like their picture taken. I charged him 5 buck for a copy.As you can see, the squid is chasing the purple monster and is about to eat him.We also have big caterpillars here in TX.Olivia is a "Super Star!""This kite business is a piece of cake.""Lets see... I don't think I need this stick thing..."A Plethora of Kites"The Kite Festival is so FUN!!"Biggest Kite Contest"Man I wish I could run out there during the demonstration."Seconds before the eminent collision...
I can hardly believe my eyes! They are not fighting! :)An Old Car Picture for Grampa

As you can see, I did not get any pictures of my kids "flying" thier kites. It was a strange wind day. It would blow for about 2 mintues and then die for about 5. It did this all day so I spent most of the time trying to get the kids kites up in the air and by the time I had 1 or 2 of them up, the wind would die and we spent the next 5 mintues finding and winding up the kites. Just when you get them all ready to go again, the wind picks up and you have enough time to let out the string and hand it to a kid before you start over again. Lots of fun. Seems to do this every year. The kids enjoy it though.