Category Archives: Department of DIY

So that’s how it happened

Something that has been bothering me for almost 17 years has been how I was dead, and then I was telling people to be careful because I had broken the upper end of my femur, and how I went from no pulse or respiration to Chatty Cathy. I think I might have mentioned a few times that when I have a problem I never really let it go, it just gets put in the back of my mind until I solve it.

Well, I think I solved this one. The first two times I was hit with/by trucks I was hit from the side, so I got bruises and torn pants and skinned up, but never got the wind knocked out of me. Well the last truck got me from behind and my chest and back smashed the cab so that aside from the blood and lack of plant matter it could be convincingly said a tree fell on the truck. That impact compressed my chest considerably farther than any impact I had ever felt before, enough to knock all the wind outta me, and also stop my heart because it was squeezing my heart. So for about 2 minutes I wasn’t breathing, and I had barely enough heartbeat to keep my brain alive, but not enough to detect by palpation, or to quote The Princess Bride “mostly dead, but not all dead”. When they tried to scrape me off the street enough air came in I could breathe and advise them that I was not dead yet and to be careful of the broken leg. This also explains why I didn’t get the tour when I hit the afterlife. Afterlife is for people who are all dead. Mostly dead people get the waiting room, to see if they die all the way or come back to life, and the TV in the waiting room is 3D and set on the Universe Channel and they don’t bother to tell you how it works because you aren’t going to be there long enough to change the channel anyway. I still wanna know who the guy who was telling me to become one with the universe was. Was he like me, mostly dead, but got there sooner, or was he watching to see if I stayed dead before starting my tour of the afterlife?

In a way I’m glad, because I still have the customer loyalty card from Charon’s Ferry, and also I’m you know not dead. But still I have questions about the customer loyalty card, the waiting room, the other guy, and just WTF did I experience. The fact that I did not have a heartbeat prevented me from bleeding out of the massive holes in my leg, and got me as far as the waiting room. But the lack of answers to questions for over 16 years bothers me.

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It’s getting hot in here, again

“… so take off all your clothes.”

Current office temperature is 85°F with the AC going. I really need to use the extra $$ from the insurance payment withdrawal to get a new AC unit for the office, or the bedroom. I don’t want to be selfish, because I can live with an office temperature below 90°F as long as I have a fan going and the old AC unit does blow up a storm. And moving the clock with the thermometer to the bedroom has shown a drop of a full degree in about 10 minutes, and 2 degrees in about a half an hour. Knowing the response time for this particular thermometer I can safely say that the bedroom is roughly 80°F at the hottest part of the day, and high 70s at night. Mrs. the Poet and I can sleep when it’s like that, but the electronics in my office don’t perform well with sustained 85° temperatures. So, Mrs. the Poet says put the new AC in my office instead of our bedroom.

And I’m running out of cold water, and the laptop is warning about overheating. That’s my cue to cut this one short.

We need a “Gimme Shelter” video for the new Century

Seriously. There has been enough video shot since 2018-02-14 to date to make a completely new video depicting the lyricsEXACTLY as written.

That is all, just let it stew in your brains’ slow cookers for a while. I would do it myself but all I have is a broken Chromebook that I’m kludging around the broken bits, and no software. So someone else is going to have to carry the ball on this idea. Here’s what you got to work with:

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
(2016 campaign montage)
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
(Syria montage)
Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way
(Charlottesville march?)
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
(Pick a school shooting)
Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
(Pick another shooting)
Rape, murder yeah!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
(Pick another school shooting)
Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away yea
(Toronto Incel murder spree with van)
The floods is threat’ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away
(Hurricane Maria)
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away
(Rainbow white House, marriage equality)
©Keith Richards

Well, it’s a thought, anyways.

Musings On A Bird, Skeletonized By Ants

Author’s note: This is a performance script. Line breaks are breaths, bold or italics are emphasis, both are extra loud. This was one of my most popular pieces for performance.

Hello, Bird.
I see the heat was too much for you.
Not a glorious end to a glorious creature.
But the ants have fared well.
There is scarcely any flesh left on your fragile, hollow bones.
Did you have any dreams?
Did you know how great you had it,
Commanding flight at a mere whim?
Did you have a family?
Did you see little ones hatched.
Grow large and strong from your care,
And leave to grow little ones
Of their own?
I had dreams.
I have known flight.
I have been present at the birth
Of my little ones.
And I have watched them grow
Large and strong.
And I have watched them
Leave
And come back.
And leave
And come back.
And someday to leave
And not come back.
I had Dreams,
But now I merely dream.
Never Dream…
Don’t you dare have Dreams.
Dreams will dance along in front of you
Just out of reach.
Dreams will crush your soul
And tear out your heart,
And skip away, laughing merrily.
Much better to have mere dreams.
Mere dreams stand patiently waiting.
They say, “Here I am, come get me.”
Mere dreams are not major triumphs,
But they are not losses either.
And missing out will not leave you
Feeling like something inside you has died.
did you have friends?
Comrades, Brothers under the skin?
Do they miss you,
Or even notice you are gone?
Surely there is some member
Of your species
That knows, somehow
You are no longer there.

Opus the Poet

All-Star Weekend!

They are racing for $1,000,000 tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway. One of the things they do with this race is test proposed changes to the rules and there are a bunch of changes this year to the aero and engine. Yesterday’s qualifying already showed the differences in the specs made for differences on the track.

OK they are running the Open, and the aero changes have the racing almost like ‘Dega or Daytona, and the restrictor plate has them all running pretty equal.

OK the Open is over and they are doing the driver introductions for the All-Star Race. Signing off now.

Iterative design

I use a design process called “Iterative Design”. That is I make a design, then go back and look for mistakes before I freeze the design, or I make major changes and do a comparison to see which is better, then combine the best parts of both for the next iteration. This process grew out of “Trial and Error” which is an offshoot of “Cut And Try”. Anyway, that is the major reason why I take a completed design and make major changes or even start completely from scratch.

Of course some of the times I do that it’s because the design parameters were changed by factors beyond my control, as when the minivan donor vehicle became unavailable. That was an entire design that had to be scrapped, and started from scratch on the Pentastar lightweight replacement design. But the thing is I’m doing this because this is how I do things. Every so often I just click on “Start a new drawing” and start drawing a new design. Part of that is because I know I’ll never have access to the money or materials I need to build it, part is because if I stop creating I get antsy, and other psychological “issues” crop up. Fortunately I have two outlets for creating, this blog and planning the Sprint-T.

I have also been thinking about transcribing some of my poetry to the blog. Most of it is about 20 years old at this point, and the Y2K point-and-laugh in particular are a little dated (like Conan’s “Year Two Thousand” bits). But some are still pretty good if morbid, like “Musings On a Bird, Skeletonized By Ants”. Tell me what you think in the comments.

And it’s getting early in the AM and I have things to do tomorrow.

Never stop thinking

I can’t, it’s part of my condition. I have the frame almost complete in design phase, so what do I do? That’s right, I change everything forward of the firewall.

I’m trying to get unsprung weight down so the tires will be easier to keep on the road over bumps. This means making everything between the frame and the road lighter, and one way to do that is indirect springing AKA push/pullrod suspension. The thinking is that the connecting bits between where the push or pull rod attach to the moving part of the suspension are : a. lighter than the spring/shock unit, and : b. more sprung than unsprung weight. The coilovers on a rod-activated suspension are believed to be 75% sprung weight with the same said for the rocker. The rod is 100% unsprung, but the total of the rod, unsprung weight of the rocker and unsprung weight of the coilover is (hopefully) less than the unsprung weight of the direct-acting coilover. Another thing is the motion ratio, or the ratio between how much the wheel moves to how much the end of the shock that moves the spring moves. With the rocker arms the effective wheel rate can be anything just by drilling the hole where the shock bolts to the rocker a different distance from the pivot, and a long travel softly sprung shock can be used on a very stiffly suspended car.

Now what this does is change everything that connects the front axle to the frame. There are no spring mounts hanging out in the breeze and everything is tucked up tight. Google a shot of a modern F1 front end as an example. This means the parts of the frame that would have interfered with the tires when they were steered aren’t there any more, but it also means that I don’t have the same radius of gyration to work with as I would with direct springing. And since torsional stiffness is proportional to the 4th power of the radius of gyration that’s kinda important. Like this is going to make the front a whole lot less stiff unless I add a lot of bracing to reduce the average length between pivots or whatever the technical term is for bracing the heck out of the structure. It has been more than 40 years since my last structures class, the one where we built a scale model bridge with 1/16” square balsa and a piece of Bristol board for the road deck, so my terminology is a little fuzzy. Anyway, major loads would be carried by the .060″ wall tubes, and also the braces since I could use the cut-offs from making the major pieces of the frame.

Another thing on my mind has been replacing the heavy steel tube axle and steel spindles with a carbon fiber axle and aluminum spindles. I have even been heavy thinking about how to construct said CF axle. What brought this on is I have had to move the steel axle I bought back when I thought I was going to be using the minivan engine and drivetrain, every time I needed to go in or out of the office, because Mrs the Poet didn’t like where she put something and insisted it belonged in my office. So because leaving the axle on the floor was a tripping hazard and because it blocks access to the door when leaning against the wall, the axle has to be moved every time I go in or out of the office. And I have come to realize that it is freaking heavy and detrimental to handling because it is 100% unsprung weight, and will work to get the car built but needs to be replaced at the earliest opportunity. Between the axle and the forged steel spindles we are talking about 80 pounds (+/-) of unsprung weight on a 1450 pound car. And replacing it with a 16 pound axle carrying 2 7 pound spindles. So replace 80 pounds of unsprung with 30 and the hubs that fit those spindles are lighter than the ones that fit the spindles I have now, by about a pound.

And final note, I screwed up again in my last correction. I used an old value for the rollover hoops of 16 feet back from when I didn’t have a good idea as to how far the rollover structure had to be over my head. The actual value is about 11 feet which takes a metric buttload of weight off the frame. Well a little bit because 5 feet times 1.75 pounds per foot isn’t much, about 9 pounds per hoop, or 17.5 pounds total. But every pound, every gram, adds up, and the fewer there are to add the lower the total will be at the end of the project. Also the less metal I have to buy, the less money I need to spend. Also important.

Ooops.

I made a statement two posts ago about revamping the frame design adding 30 pounds to the car. That was an error based on the fact that I added or relocated 8 frame braces during the redesign so I figured the weight for all 8 changes. Then last post I stated the empty car weight was 1450 pounds which was accurate based on calculating the length of every frame member and multiplying that by the weight per foot of tubing for that size tube.

There are 2 different tubes used in the Sprint-T. Most of the frame is made from 1.5″ X 0.060″ wall round DOM tubing, except the rollover structure which is 1.5″ X 0.120″ for rules compliance. Now because of the design there is room for interpretation as to where the frame ends and the rollover structure begins, but I’m taking the interpretation that any diagonal braces that touch the rear hoop inclusive are rollover, and everything else is frame. There are a lot of tubes in the frame, the front and rear hoops are the longest at roughly 16 feet apiece as they wrap around the body, and then the upper and lower frame rails at roughly 100″ each for a total of 400″ or just under 34 feet total. Then there are the front suspension mount, the internal diagonals for the rear hoop, the bracing inside the top halo, and the rest of the diagonals that connect everything together to make one solid structure. That comes to another 40 or so feet in mixed sizes.

So, all told the Sprint-T frame carries a few more pounds than the Speedway kit frame, but is orders of magnitude more stiff, both in bending and especially in torsion. The Speedway frame is 2 hunks of 1.5″ X 3″ X 0.120″ wall rectangular tubing with round tube crossmembers to hang the engine and transmission from. Adequate in bending loads under all circumstances, but lacking in torsion to be charitable. It is an upgrade from the Model T frame or any OE Ford frame used back in the day, but that is damning with faint praise. It was designed as a cruising or freeway frame, not for racing and especially not for racing around cones set up in a parking lot. It was not made for installing a rear roll hoop that meets SCCA safety rules for one thing and as an open car (no roof structure) it would be required to have a full cage, and there is no place to mount the front hoop either. Now there is a place to mount a drag race style cage, but not an autocross legal cage. This is annoying because using the kit frame would make the build so much easier. And probably cheaper, too. There would be work involved with relocating the suspension pickups to prevent the tire-lifting behavior of the stock rear axle and the resulting power oversteer in tight corners even with radical bigs-‘n’-littles tire sizes (I saw a YouTube video of a bucket getting sideways off a corner with 14″ wide rear tires and 3″ wide fronts).

Not feeling good today

I did several days in a row with 2-3 miles walked with allergies and now my back is complaining, not loudly, but making its presence known. This is my notice to take a break and not overdo things. Also after several days of good behavior the “m” key on the keyboard is acting cranky again, and Google keeps sending me notices that my OS is no longer supported.

Now this can be dealt with in many ways. I can buy a new computer (ha, ha), I can get the keyboard fixed and install Linux, I can install Linux on my Dad’s old computer after I drag it out of the box it has been stuck in since 2012. And one of my friends might have an old laptop they can give me. First I need to call and find out how much getting the keyboard fixed will cost, then work from there.

On the Sprint-T I have been contemplating a frame revision that would add maybe 40 pounds but provide a major increase in torsional stiffness. It isn’t as pretty now, but it will be much more tunable for handling. Basically what I did was make sure all the possible load paths were continuous and triangulated in all 3 dimensions and clear the body. It was that last requirement that has been the monkey wrench in the works, as the body is 34″ wide underneath and 45″ wide at the top and there has to be a structural member to meet the mounts underneath or the body would have not crashworthiness. That’s not the problem by itself, the problem is the diagonal from the top of the rear roll hoop to the bottom of the front roll hoop. Now I thought I had this solved a while back, but when I traced the load paths I found it went all wonky at the front roll hoop. The loads went from in line to bending around the front hoop because of having to have a member under the body and the diagonal snake around the bowed-out sides because there is no straight line from the top of the rear hoop to the bottom of the rear hoop. Interestingly enough, there is straight line access from the top of the rear hoop to the middle of the front hoop, and back to the bottom of the rear hoop, but that places bending loads on the front hoop unless there is a corresponding member from the front suspension support to the front hoop. And that is what increases the weight so much, about 8 additional members about 50″ long each weigh 30 pounds total plus the gussets at each intersection add about 8-9 ounces each end. If I could reduce the size of the structural members any more without worry about damage from people leaning or climbing on the car I could make it lighter, but I have to use the frame as a ladder to get in through the top of the cage.

While I have been writing about fixing the mistakes in my frame I had a show about engineering mistakes and fixing them on the Science Channel on the Tee Vee. Some of those mistakes cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix, some couldn’t be fixed for any amount of money. I’m just glad I’m finding my mistakes before I spend money building unusable junk.

Happy Beltain!

Today is the arguably the second-biggest holiday in the Wiccan liturgical calendar, after Samhain (pronounced Sow-when (more or less, depending on your particular accent of English)). There’s a rude rhyme that goes with the holiday about how the usual weather on the British Isles is warm enough that sexual activity in the out-of-doors is unlikely to cause death by exposure after this date. If that’s what you’re into, enjoy. Here in TX we have been enjoying that particular activity for over a month now.

I’m not going to explain the holiday here, Witchvox used to have a nice explanation of our liturgical calendar and what the holidays meant to our ancestors, but that was then and this is now. It’s still a celebration of the Earth and its fertility and ability to give life, but we don’t have sex in the fields to show the plants how it’s done. My eyes and nose are ample evidence to plants already knowing how to have sex, and that they are unable to keep their sexual activity to their own species. They don’t need any training on this. I’m just going to say if that’s your thing then party on dudes.

I’m still thinking about the Sprint-T, and how to wrap the cage and frame around the body without any need to cut the body for clearance except the firewall and the bottom where the engine and drivetrain make that a requirement. I have also been looking real hard at the Winter’s catalog for lightweight alternatives with the required 5″ driveshaft offset to match the engine and reduce u-joint angularity. So far the best I have found is the 8″ with the aluminum billet locker as the best compromise between street manners and light weight and also able to handle the HP of the mighty Pentastar. The 7″ is lighter but might be marginal with a Pentastar for street driving and autocrossing. The setup for one or the other would work, but trying to do both requires changing too much going from one to the other. The harder ring gear that would work on the street is just too brittle for the shock loads of the autocross standing start. Think drag racing with 1st and 2nd gear left and right turns and you’ll have a good idea of the stresses of autocross, but the materials that work for that are too soft for street driving and will wear out quickly. The larger 8″ ring gear has enough inherent strength that the harder material will work for both applications.

Well I need to put this one to bed while it’s still Beltain.