Sunday, May 31, 2015

Big giant table gardening

I've had a garden every year since 2009. The story has been the same every year. I try to grow food and then children, dogs, weeds, rabbits, ants, and squirrels conspire to ruin parts of it. But that's the game, if it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing. This year I think I've had a major technological breakthrough.

It all started by ripping a bar out of my basement. While trying to figure out what to do with all of the excess wood from that project, I ended up designing this garden box. It's put together using woodglue and 18guage pneumatic nails but designed so that if the glue and nails fail the forces exerted by the dirt in the box will still keep everything together. Here is my daughter helping me prove this concept.

At some point, I had the idea to put the garden boxes up on saw horses which kept them out of reach of our children and the dogs. This worked out so well that I built a giant table to hold them. Here's pictures from the build.

The table is made rigid by the the braces I placed along all three axis of the back leg joints. This worked out incredibly well and I think I'll use this design again in the future. I cut the legs so that the table would be level, which is why they are shorter on the far end. 

As shown above, I originally used pallets to hold the planters. It was only a day before I found enough time in the garage to cut all of the palet wood out and pneumatically nail them to the top of the table. A note about all of this: I left enough of a gap between all of the boards in this project to account for expansion during watering. I still expect to see failures, but everything is trivial to fix. 

Total cost of project was 26$, because I only had to pay for the 2x4s and 2x6x12 boards to build the table structure. Everything else was salvaged from my basement bar tear down or pallets that we received server shipments on at work.

It's way easier to tend to this garden than any I've ever had before. There are no ant nests in the soil, I don't have to bend over to pull weeds, the dogs and children ignore it, and I have a nice work surface I can keep tools like shovels and gloves just laying around on.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lathe project

Some video and pictures from the latest project, an Atlas 10D 246 vertical drive lathe restoration. 

These guys have been awesome help so far: the mailing list has an extremely deep knowledge of these old tools and is eager to share information an dideas.

The ways determine accuracy of the lathe. The ways are the metal parts where the carriage moves toward and away from the jaws of the jaws of the chuck, which holds the spinning material. Older lathes wear here first and lose accuracy. Here I am trying to measure for problems.

On overall picture of the project in pieces.

The first real problem. A carriage gear is missing a tooth and the gear case is broken into three pieces. Unfortunately the case is an injection molded alloy metal with a very low melting point so welding or brazing are out of the question. The metal itself is an interesting mix of aluminum, zinc, magnesium, and copper called Zamak. 

 The gear will have to be pressed off the shaft, I have a new one on the way. Still researching how to best fix the case. That may take a while to think through. 

Update: Last night I presented this broken part to the CAMS club monthly meeting. I mean actual presentation. I stood in front of the group and described the project, it was a fun impromptu public speaking opportunity. The group discussion about the project was informative and I think I have several good approaches to this project.  

There were plenty of ideas about how to fix the broken part. I think I'm going to try alumaweld aluminum rods to do the repair. I picked some up today at harbor freight, 15$ for a ten pack, along with a cheap butane torch. While in Home Depot I also noticed that they had aluminum welding rods, so I picked some of those up $3.69 for a pack of three. I'll have to experiment to see which works better.

At the end of the meeting, one of the club members who was following my project on the mailing list pulled me aside and presented me with some better chucks for the lathe and sold them to me at a great price. The original three jaw chuck is in the picture to the right. The two chucks to the left are a better three jaw and an independant 4 jaw that I purchased at the CAMS meeting.

Update: Today, my new gear arrived in the mail. I spent a few minutes taking things apart and getting them ready for alumaweld. After some light heating with a small butane torch, the gear was easily tapped off of the shaft. 

I've since cleaned the oil/grease off of these, but neglected to take a picture. I'll post more after I attempt the weld.

Update: Weld failed. I heated the part slightly too much. Without any warning or indication it transformed from a part to a thousand little molten balls of metal skittering across my work bench. It wasn't that important anyway since the lathe is somewhat usable without it. I have plans to fabricate a new part from scratch, I can infer the dimensions from my sketches and the bolt holes on the lathe apron.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

i before e except after c

Somebody misspelled the word "weird" in an email to me this morning. Our HBase system was acting weird and they were sending me a note. "Weirding" is a common occurrence with big data software, so this was nothing surprising.

What caught my attention was that "weird" is another one of those words that violates the only grammar rule most people know.  We've all heard and memorized that "i comes before e except after c". Weird.

I believe that spell checkers have made us all dumber since we're able to outsource our thinking without really thinking about it. I've often found myself just hammering away at keys and letting the computer just generally figure out what I was trying to say. The computer is accurate and able to do do this, so we've formed sort of a symbiosis in this manner. But as a consequence I've found myself embarrassingly uncertain of my self when hand writing letters or notes with pen and paper. So I've tried to slow down and eschew spell checking systems before I become any more incompetent. Now I'm trying to pay attention to the spelling of words.

So how many words violate this rule?

Here's the wikipedia page:

If we scroll down to the Exceptions section we see four violations of the "cie" part of the rule listed. They are all words I'd never use, so that's not helpful and doesn't seem comprehensive. There's no real numbers anywhere in this article to look at. Maybe we can do better.

My next stop was here:
It was just the first page I found that had a list of english words. There are about 100,000 of them in a nice text file.

Grab the file

eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ wget

And count some stuff

eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep ie wordsEn.txt | wc -l
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep ei wordsEn.txt | wc -l
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cei wordsEn.txt | wc -l
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | wc -l

Hang on a minute... "i before e, except after c". That's strange that there's more occurrences of "cie" (322) than there are of "cei" (88).

A quick look tells us why:
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | head

It looks like there are a lot of occurrences of a popular suffix "ies". A quick trip to the wikipedia page about suffixes.
So....... despite being used 6 times on the wikipedia page "ies" isn't listed as a suffix.  That's frustrating.

More searching and there's a page about it on wiktionary:

Let's filter those out.

eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | grep -v cies | wc -l

Not bad. That's small enough of a list to take a look at. But I have a hunch "science" will show up a  bunch of times, since that's one of the exceptions I remember. And hey, we're not being very scientific anyway, so let's get rid of that too.

eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | grep -v cies | grep -v science | grep -v scientific | wc -l

Not too many. Here's what's left.

eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ dos2unix wordsEn.txt
dos2unix: converting file wordsEn.txt to Unix format ...
eric@glamdring:~/workspace/words$ grep cie wordsEn.txt | grep -v cies | grep -v science | grep -v scientific | tr '\n' ' '
abortifacient ancien anciens ancient ancienter ancientest anciently ancientness ancients bioscientist boccie bouncier calefacient chancier coefficient coefficients concierge concierges conscientious conscientiously conscientiousness deficiency deficient deficiently delirifacient dicier efficiency efficient efficiently facie fancied fancier fanciers financier financiers fleecier flouncier geoscientist geoscientists glacier glaciered glaciers hacienda haciendas icier inefficiency inefficient inefficiently insufficiency insufficient insufficiently intersocietal jouncier juicier lacier lanciers liquefacient mincier nescient nescients objicient omniscient omnisciently overconscientious prescient pricier proficiency proficient proficiently racier saucier scientist scientistic scientists societal societies society specie spicier stupefacient sufficiency sufficient sufficiently unconscientious unconscientiously

Notice I had to use dos2unix. Windows and a few other programs really dork up newline characters, which makes a lot of transforms involving newlines not work. In this case I had to convert it so I could change newlines into spaces.

But back to weird... what's the deal with that category of exceptions.

Actually, nope. Times up. I'm done with my coffee and about to walk out to go to work, so that's where this post ends.