Category Archives: Daily post

I got to go with Mrs. the Poet for jury duty

In case you were wondering how I “got” to go with Mrs. the Poet, it’s almost but not quite the exact opposite of “simple” (and I stole that from Douglas Addams description of the beverage dispenser on the “Heart of Gold”).

Mrs. the Poet has a back condition that precludes her from walking to the bus stop 0.42 miles (0.676km) from Casa de El Poeta, and Mrs. the Poet does not have a smart phone which precludes her from hailing a ride share. I have a smart phone and the Lyft app. Guess who “volunteered” to get Mrs. the Poet to the courthouse for her jury duty? Guess who further “volunteered” to get up less than an hour after normal get-to-sleep time to hail said Lyft? Yep, little old nightowl me.

The only thing worse than jury duty is having to go with someone to make sure they get to jury duty but not able to actually do anything useful once you get there. I wasn’t just bored, I was B-O-O-R-E-D all caps and extra vowels and hyphens to extend the pronunciation and emphasize how mind-numbingly tedious it is. Seriously given the choice between taking someone to jury duty, and say having a tooth extracted, go for the tooth. It will hurt less and there will be something of value attained, assuming the costs are roughly equal. Seriously.

Other news I’m still perusing the manuals for installing and programming the Microsquirt ECU, the latest version of the firmware allow for self-learning to get the VE tables set to the desired AF ratio. This will make tuning for 87 octane easier, and give me a better start for tuning the E85 table. The Microsquirt controller has a flex-fuel setting that I can use for doing the E85 tuning, not the actual tuning but using the algorithm they use to adjust fuel and spark to set partial throttle tuning to get close to the spot on setting and good enough to use for off-throttle driving that doesn’t require top power or fuel economy. I mean they post it right in the manual under “flex-fuel” that they just multiply the fuel setting by 1.63*Ethanol% to get the injector time and just add 4 to 6 degrees of advance to account for the slower burn rate of E85 compared to not-enriched gas, which is a good starting point for a performance tune. I’m also working with the knowledge that while the burn rate is fixed, the time available for the burn is less as the RPM increases and more advance is needed as the RPM rises until it reaches the point that there isn’t enough time to burn the fuel before the exhaust valve opens without the rising piston on the compression stroke having to fight combustion pressure, the compromise then being having as much pressure working for you as possible on the power stroke to overcome the pressure working against you on the compression stroke. So, that’s my place to optimize for power and economy, minute adjustments in ignition timing in the 87 octane tune at the eventual cruise RPM, while watching the AFR like a hawk to keep it at the “economy” setting that’s slightly lean of stoichiometric.

And it’s gotten late and I have other “stuff” to do since Mrs. the Poet is dog sitting for a neighbor while her husband is in hospital…


Been working on the Sprint-T but nothing I can show

Whatever engine I get will most likely need an ECU of some type, and I have been studying the installation and operating manuals for the Microsquirt, which costs about the same as the OBDII dongle needed to reprogram OEM ECUs. I will have to build a harness for the engine not matter which ECU I use, even if it’s the one from the donor vehicle the engine came with, because the engines I can afford are on the older end of the spectrum and the harness is likely to be dry rotted. Unless someone gives me a totalled-out vehicle with an engine and transmission I can use of recent-manufacture that still have decent wiring, which is a low possibility scenario. Given my luck I’m not going to say it’s impossible, because there have been a lot of “impossible” things happening to and around me, but realistically, yeah that’s not gonna happen.

Now the funds I have dictate $800 max for the engine with all the electronic bits and bobbles stripped off, $330 for the Microsquirt, and $40 for the bare harness plus finding and buying the various plugs and terminals, plus either an old-school non-electronic transmission or a standalone controller for the computer-controlled transmission, or if a 4l80e bolts up some kind of logic cam that attaches to the shifter and turns switches on and off to match the physical position of the mechanical shift control inside the transmission so that I can change the gears. Now this would be lots cheaper if I could roll around in the dirt at a junkyard and get these parts myself, but that is another thing on the list of things I can’t do anymore as a subset of “things that require being able to get up off the ground unassisted”. So I have to pay for someone to roll around under cars in a junkyard for me which eats into my budget.

But getting back to the premise of this post, I have been working on stuff I can’t show you because it consists mostly of reading .pdf files uploaded to my computer and taking notes in another file on my computer and apparently Notepad is no longer a thing in Windows but Word is? And WTF is Sticky Notes, is that like Notepad? And yes it has been ages since I did anything offline with Windows. Anyway I know Word, sort of, and that is what I have been using to take notes on using the Microsquirt. The files aren’t as compact as with Notepad, but I have almost 400 GB free space on the hard drive and another 90 GB free on the USB drive, I got all the space I need for anything short of video editing. So word files that use too much space compared to the amount of text are not going to be a major concern.

And this afternoon I’m going to get the tickets for the trip to see my friend for the last time before he moves to be with his wife in DC and won’t have room to put us up when we visit any more, and maybe pick up another one of those portable light switches that stick to the wall. The desk lamp in the room isn’t connected to the wall switch and the lights that are need fixing, so I’m going to slap one of those $3.00 lights on the wall so I don’t trip over anything trying to get to the desk lamp. So it’s nighty-night time for this poet/engineer. Speaking of poet/engineers I have a bone to pick with Howard Taylor about engineers and poetry. Prior to getting killed I was an in-demand spoken word poet and a decent shade-tree engineer.😛

Not dead, just nothing to say

That’s basically all I have to say right now. I have been looking at an engine controller that costs less with the tuning software than the OBDII Dongle to control the factory controller for the LS Family of engines. But I still don’t have an engine to use it on, so …

Taxes are done for the year

And minimum tax payments have been kicking my backside last year, but our combined incomes didn’t even break the standard deduction, so we get it all back. What really was bad was the IRA tax payment that was triggered by my turning 60 last year. Taxes were being taken out on income I hadn’t gotten, which is a major bummer and would not have been refunded if I didn’t start making at least quarterly or more frequent withdrawals.

But long story short because it’s 0330 and I finally got my words back to make a post, we got a refund of over $2K on an income of just over $15K, which even just looking at the unfairness leaps out at you. That’s a marginal rate of 13+% on a sub-poverty income. Granted we got it all back, but $2K is a lot of groceries, haircuts, and massages not gotten because I didn’t get the money during the year. In fact, doing a quick calculation, I had more taxes taken out than I got in income from the trust. By my calculations I got about $1800 in non-exempt income from the trust and the IRA, but there was right at $2100 ± a few $ taken out in taxes. That’s a tax rate of more than 50%, roughly 54%, and last I checked the top bracket was only 37%. And something’s definitely rotten in DenmarkDC when my little pittance has withholding at more than the top tax bracket.

In non-news I didn’t win the Lotto again, and I still don’t have the bits for the Sprint-T. And it looks like I will have to spend the refund on plumbing problems and a cat with a skin condition.

RPG Group yesterday

With this group we spend more time planning than doing, but because we spend so much time planning there usually isn’t much that needs to be done. Last night’s Shadowrun session was a good example of that. We were going up against a force 12 spirit that cursed us for moving a magical artifact a few runs back, and has caused loss of life (mine) or destruction of materiel (everybody else) for the party, so it had to be destroyed because it was created as a guardian for that magical artifact and can’t be negotiated out of doing what it was created for. So the potions we got from the previous run were not “Curse-be-gone” but actually a way of merging the astral and physical planes for a short period so that we could pull the spirit physically into our reality where we could shoot it.

The way that worked was to find a confined space with walls and sturdy doors that would confine the spirit within the area of effect of the spell released when the vial containing the potion was smashed on the floor. Otherwise the spirit could just wander away and we couldn’t hurt it, but it could still hurt us. So I moved the vehicles out of the garage under the house and we set up our ambush there, the garage having walls of reinforced concrete several feet thick and a bunker-strong outer door and inner door to prevent unsavory people from getting into the house through the garage, which would make it good enough to confine most embodied spirits who were below god-level strong. So after selecting ammunition that would do great damage to the spirit but not have a large enough area of effect (for fragmentation ammo, I had to just use slugs for both the grenade launcher and the Cybershot because other ammunition had too large a blast radius to use in the garage) we activated the potion to trap the curse spirit in the garage. And in less than a full round of initiative the curse spirit was no more. Seriously, I was fourth in initiative and I never got a chance to fire a round because of how well we selected ammo and weapons, that and a little dice karma wiped a force 12 spirit in less than one initiative pass.

Now we have to return the Pink Purse Poodle to the rich bitch we swiped her from a few runs ago. I’m trying to get the party to use the animal rescue in the back to get her to come to us and retrieve her dog. The tentative plan is to have the party member with the highest charisma stat “working” for the animal rescue when Ms. Rich Bitch comes to get her dog from the rescue, because I have the charisma needed to seduce orc and troll women, but that’s about as far as I can push it. Even in the 6th world, healing powers and plastic surgery can only do so much when you lead with your face into deadly situations. The plan so far is after the ransom is confirmed Ms. Rich Bitch gets a call the next morning saying her dog was identified as hers during a routine scan for ID chips, and she could either get it herself or send a pre-identified minion to pick it up. The alternative would be to use the regular employee and just tell them the story we want them to know so there is no need for anyone on our side of the transaction to be untruthful.

So that was my night last night, how was yours?

I was going to do an April Fools post

but changed my mind. After yesterday’s almost stream of consciousness post of almost 1K words about the Sprint-T I was considering a mock diatribe against bicycles, but considering the almost 8 year history of bicycle advocacy in this blog that would be about as believable as a Presidential Promise.

Basically there was nothing I could post that would work as an April Fools post, because to be effective a good AF joke has to be believable, as in “Is this a joke, or actual (news, sports, whatever, content)”. And because this blog has wandered in so many directions since departing from bicycle wrecks and advocacy it would be very hard to put something up I hadn’t already treated seriously. About the only thing I haven’t mentioned at length is my love of anime and manga. That’s just an offshoot of webcomics, which I have a plethora of links for in the sidebar.

So there’s no joke here, just me. Enjoy the day and be careful, because the difference between a good April Fools joke and disinformation is practically nil.

Well, let’s do a reset

I just got finished watching a good race, Denny Hamlin won, Kyle Busch won 2 of the three races this weekend but not today, and I have to go do things tomorrow. I need to pay for my phone, I need to shop for a new mattress for the bed in the big bedroom, and I need to get a massage.

Also I need to figure out where the links for the front axle are going to fit on the frame so I can make the links to length in scale for the Mini Sprint-T. It’s basic trig and geometry, the axle is x distance from the front hoop, the lower rail is y inside to inside and y+3 outside to outside and the links have to be l distance apart to clear the tires at full lock. This has been determined previously to be 31″ outside to outside, and the links are 1″ diameter so the links have to be 30″ center to center. The only dimension that is unknown at this point is the altitude of the triangle formed by the front hoop and the lower frame rails, because I still haven’t set how far in front of the axle the forward crossmember is, because I still haven’t decided if I want big or small body shocks. The big body shocks use 3″ OD springs, the small body use 2″ OD springs and there is 0.5″ difference in how far forward the front crossmember sits which means there is maybe 0.125″ difference in where the lower rails are 30″ apart center to center measured from the front hoop.

And it has occurred to me that some of you don’t know where the transverse structural parts go and what they are called on the Sprint-T and because it is the same but in scale, the Mini Sprint-T. From the front, there is the front crossmember that holds the front coilovers over the axle and the radiator gets mounted to the front of it and the mount for the track bar that locates the axle from side to side, then the front hoop that is 1.5″ X 0.120″ for most of the structure and 0.060″ for the rest of it because it’s part of the roll cage that has to be 0.120″ wall thickness except for the part that isn’t roll cage but frame, then the rear hoop that is the same as the front hoop, then the rear crossmember that basically doesn’t do anything except hold the rear of the frame apart and protect the fuel tanks in a rear end crash, and provide additional torsional rigidity by increasing d4. The point of interest in today’s post is the front crossmember because the lower rails meet at the center and the upper rails are right over the coilover mounts and also pick up half of the mount to put the upper mount in double shear. The triangle formed by the lower rails determines how far the rear mount of the links that mount the front axle are from the front hoop because the mount has to be 30″ center to center. The links have to be parallel to work best with no bump steer from moving the ends of the axle when the car rolls in a turn. So the center of the rear mounts on the frame have to be the same distance apart as the mounts on the axle to keep the links parallel.

Anyway finding the location for the rear mount is a simple ratio. The problem is I don’t know the terms for the ratio beyond the first term. That term is 30/46.5 or 0.645161290323. That’s the ratio of the center separation of the links to the center separation of the frame rails at the front hoop, the term I’m missing is the distance from the front crossmember to the front hoop to multiply that by. I know about how far that is but not exactly how far that is. But if I think about it some more I can make it so there won’t be a difference because I’ll use the distance for the larger spring and just enjoy the extra clearance if I decide to use the smaller spring instead, so doing some quick calculations, the rear axle is 5″ behind the rear of the body, the body is 52″ long and the rear axle is 100″ behind the front axle and the front hoop is right in front of the firewall and where the frame rails meet the front hoop is 58.5″ in front of the rear axle or 41.5″ behind the front axle and the front crossmember is 1.5″ in front of the front axle, so the distance from the front hoop to the front crossmember is 43″ so the rear mounts for the links are 43-(0.645161290323*43) or 15.258064516111 from the front of the front hoop. Rounding makes that 15.26″ from the front hoop and links that are 23.25″ center to center after using the distance from the center of the rear axle to the center of the holes for the Heim joints on the 4-link brackets and the size of the vertical member supporting the rear mount which will probably be 1.5″ X 0.060″ to make it stiff enough in bending with the load triangulated at both ends, which I just decided. The diagonals will run from the top of the front hoop and the bottom of the front hoop so there will be no possibility of hitting the frame with the front tire at full steering lock. And as previously stated there is another diagonal that runs from the top of the front hoop to the top center of the front crossmember so there is a parallel frame member to capture the top of the rear mount for the links and make that area fully triangulated.

And this has turned into one of the longest non-wreck report posts I have done. So since I don’t want to overload people doing an archive dive, this seems like a good place to take a break and put this post to bed.

More parts arrived

The parts I bought this January finally arrived today. The backgrounds are the business cards for the company I bought the parts from, to give you an idea of scale for these parts, and I’m using “scale” in two forms for this. The parts are for the Mini Sprint-T in 1/25 scale.

Rod ends in 1/25 scale, the color is because there was a brass lamp bouncing light from the camera flash

The seat in scale. This is actually much nicer than the actual seat in the car that I showed a few weeks ago, but if I had the $ this is exactly the seat I would install

Again, the backgrounds in the picture, the dark part, is the business card of the company that I bought these from. They literally get lost on a standard size business card. And there was a note inside the delivery envelope saying the guy that runs the whole show for this company just got out of the hospital after 2 months. And those thin pins coming off the top row of rod ends fit snugly in the stainless steel tubes I bought to make the links for the 4-link, and the plan is to add a tiny drop of solder to the end of the tube to hold the rod end and jam nut in place. The jam nuts are those hex-shaped things above the rod ends.

And I need to get to bed, so the blog post needs to, too.

Bad news, and worse news

I finally made it to the doctor for my free Lasik preop examination Tuesday, and as the headline says it wasn’t all good news. In fact there was hardly any good news, so I’ll hit that first: I don’t have glaucoma or even seriously elevated intra-ocular pressure that precedes glaucoma.

Now the bad news. My cornea is too thin for Lasik to work with the amount of correction I need to focus on the retina. My cornea is 510 µm thick, and my eyes are so bad that I need 620 µm to have any kind of safety margin after reshaping. So absent additional surgery I would still need to wear glasses after Lasik, but they would be much lighter.

And to make things worse/better, I have cataracts and they are progressive. At this time they only affect my night vision and do not affect my vision with normal amounts of light, but they will get worse and eventually require a lens replacement. That’s the worse, the better is when they do the lens replacement my distance vision will get corrected and I’ll just need glasses for close work, the exact opposite of now where I take my glasses off for close work, and they can fix the astigmatism with a light pass with the Lasik that still leaves a safety margin.

And in the meantime I will buy some new glasses for the first time in almost a decade.

I forgot the pictures and other stuff

I forgot the picture of the stuff I got for the Sprint-T, and I forgot to tell you what I weighed after fasting at the Lab Rat Keeper. And other things as well.

First things first, this is a picture of the stuff I got combined with stuff I already had so you can see how it goes together.The special Heim joints bolted to the axle brackets

These Heim Joints have 3/8” holes and 5/8” shanks to fit the brackets and the links available. The brackets obviously have the holes and can’t be drilled larger without weakening them to the point that a minor wreck would tear the holes, requiring major repairs to the axle. So what I have planned is making the weak link where the links meet the frame. The plan is to use cheap, fragile aluminum body Heim joints that break at impact loads but still strong and rigid enough to not flex in regular use. And the next weak link is the links themselves, internally threaded aluminum tubes, that bend under impact loads but like the frame mount Heim joints don’t flex during normal operation. The intent is to absorb impacts by bending or breaking cheap parts that are easy to replace without damaging expensive parts that are difficult to replace, or have a long lead time to replace like the 4 week lead time for the front axle.

Now, my weight at Wednesday’s visit to the Lab Rat Keeper showed just how much I have for breakfast, particularly how much coffee. I weighed 211 pounds (95.7 kg) the previous visit, but only 208 (94.3 kg) this visit. My normal breakfast before a visit is a package of PopTarts and a “my cup” (750 ml) of coffee, and I usually have a light meal right before bed at about 0300. I have measured the capacity of this “cup” several times and the only way it reaches the manufacturer’s 1 quart rating is to leave the lid off and fill it to the brim, but measuring to the inside top of the lid gets 750 ml. But anyway no 0300 meal and no breakfast has me at 208 pounds.

Also there were races today, but if you were interested in that you would either have watched them yourself, or accessed a sports site to find out who won. I will say that the semi-local IndyCar race Will Power broke while leading. 🙁