Saturday, June 15, 2013

FJ Cruiser: The Platform Assembly Begins...

The orange paint is dry on the platform parts, so I've now assembled (in the FJ) the structural components.  The lid and doors still have to be painted with rubberized decking material, so they're not installed yet.  Once I had the structural components installed, I could mount the air compressor and inverter, and start all the associated wiring and plumbing (for the air compressor).  That's now well underway, as you can see in today's photo dump:

The 2000 watt inverter can draw up to 300 amps (at 12 volts) while handling peak loads.  This means I need a 300 amp Class T “slo blo” fuse, and these fuses are not small.  The fuse is mounted inside the engine compartment, close to the batteries, but there wasn't any convenient place to mount it.  So I fabricated this aluminum plate, tapping holes in it to mount the fuse holder, and drilling holes to match three existing threaded holes on the port front fender well...

The cables to handle 300 amps are massive – 0 gauge cable.  The copper part of these cables is 3/8" in diameter and made from over 1,000 tiny diameter wires, so despite the thickness they are still very flexible – key for easy routing.  The insulation is 1/8" thick, so overall the cables are 5/8" in diameter.  When Debbie first saw them in the truck, she asked me what the “hoses” were for.  That's how big they are!  As you can see, the terminations for this cable are equally massive...

Here's the fuse block installed and wired.  The fuse block is at the right bottom of the photo, with a clear plastic cover installed over the place where the fuse itself goes (it's not installed yet).  You can see the edge of the aluminum plate I fabricated.  The white oval shows where the two 300 amp cables penetrate the firewall (the top one is +12, the bottom is ground).  These enter the passenger cab just above the driver's left big toe.  From there I routed the two cables up into the dashboard, across to the center, down into the center console, and then out the back of the center console.  At that point they enter the platform I'm building...

Here's the first part of the wiring inside the platform that I've completed.  The photo shows the area on the port side of the platform, between the port rib and the port side of the FJ.  The orange panel on the left of the photo is the rear side of the forward rib.  The arrows point to various components:
purple: air compressor motor
yellow: cover for +12V distribution block, milled from a piece of oak
red: ground distribution block, milled from a piece of brass (identical to +12)
blue: air compressor motor relay
gray: fuse block (with plenty of room for expansion!)

Around Our Yard...

While working outside yesterday, this tarantula hawk (a large wasp) landed on my arm.  I took its picture after it finished resting and set off again on its quest for a tarantula.  This is the third time this has happened to me over the years we've lived out here, and it's a thrill each time.  First there's the sense of danger: the sting of the tarantula hawk is rated as the second most painful sting in the world (on the Schmidt sting pain index).  Entomologist Justin Schmidt, the creator of that index, describes the tarantula hawk's sting as “Blinding, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.”  Yes, he's actually experienced it.  Then there's the tarantula hawk's appearance: its body is an iridescent deep blue, and its wings are a shimmering orange.  Then you think about its lifestyle: the large female wasps spend their adult lives hunting for a tarantula spider (yes, we have them here), which they sting, paralyzing it – after which they lay their eggs in it.  The wasp eggs hatch inside the tarantula and the hungry little wasps then consume the entire thing.  It's thrilling to have one of these land on your arm!

The acacia in our yard just started blooming.  Various parts of it will be in bloom for the next few weeks.  These blooms are large enough to be attractive even at a distance, but up close they're much better...

And our “Desert Museum” palo verde tree just keeps getting better.  There are more flowers on it now than we've ever seen before, and the yellow carpet of fallen blossoms below it keeps getting thicker.  The tree swarms with honey bees, bumble bees, and hummingbirds.  Awesome!

Why Is Gay Pornography So Popular in Pakistan?


Tap It: The NSA Slow Jam...

From Reason, this is a very funny spoof.  My favorite line: “Everybody come quick - a straw man has been killed!”:

Of Burgers, Bikinis, and ObamaCare...

How can you resist a headline like that?  Here's the sub:
Andy Puzder, the man who revived Carl's Jr., explains why he's not expanding in California and how the Affordable Care Act is hurting employment. Expect to order with an iPad.
You should definitely read the whole thing...

One Awesome Young Lady...

Can you even imagine doing this as an adult, let alone at age 11?  I can't...

The Flow of Mistrust...

Richard Fernandez analyzes the current NSA scandals, and concludes:
For this reason the current crisis of trust in tech cannot be dispelled without resort to a political solution, just as the question of trusting the USAF with nukes cannot be severed from the question of whether those in charge of the Air Force daily dream of nuking America or not. The Administration is part of the problem. Though they pretend it is not, the quality of their character is relevant. In fact, the doubts over that quality are the central element in this crisis of trust. It spreading the contagion of mistrust into the system. The vector of doubt doesn’t go from Tech to the Administration. It goes from the Administration to Tech.
Read the whole thing; it's excellent.

The IMF Has Some Advice for the U.S...

Friend and reader Simon M. passes this along, with the comment “Good grief, Charlie Brown!”  Basically, the IMF is worried about the U.S. economy (the source of most of its funding), and wants us to undo sequestration, spend more money, collect more taxes, continue the massive “quantitative easing”, and cut entitlements.

I detect a little self-interest in this advice :)

Notice to Older Employees...

My mom spotted this somewhere (didn't say where) and passed it along:
Due to the current financial situation caused by the slowdown in the economy, Congress has decided to implement a scheme to put workers of 50 years of age and above on early, mandatory retirement, thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment.

This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).

Persons selected to be RAPED can apply to Congress to be considered for the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).

Persons who have been RAPED and SHAFTED will be reviewed under the SCREW program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).

A person may be RAPED once, SHAFTED twice and SCREWED as many times as Congress deems appropriate.

Persons who have been RAPED could get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependents & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).

Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTED or SCREWED any further by Congress.

Persons who are not RAPED and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible.Congress has always prided themselves on the amount of SHIT they give our citizens.

Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to the attention of your Congressman, who has been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.

The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (E.V.I.L.)

PS - Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.
They turned off the light at the end of the tunnel?  Oh, noz!

New Fire Monitoring Tool...

Completely by accident I just discovered a marvelous new tool for monitoring wildfires on the web.  It's the “WunderMap” from Wunderunderground, the weather information site I've preferred for years.  I've even been using this map for a year or so, without realizing that it had a fire information layer!  Here's a screenshot showing a current fire near Beaumont, California:

There's a lot of information on this map!  First, the orange blob is the latest officially reported fire perimeter.  This information is usually a day or two old, sometimes (especially on smaller fires) even more.  Then there's the triangle icon – click on that and you'll get basic information about the fire, and sometimes links to more information.  In the upper right you can see little fire symbols – these are “hits” from low-resolution fire-detecting satellites (using infrared scanners).  That information is generally only a few hours old at most.  This lets us infer that this fire is burning toward the northeast.  Finally, there's topographic information and roads – letting you see what sort of country is being burned through. 

All of this information was available previously, but not all in one place like this.  Wonderful job, WunderMap!

To see this fire information yourself, got to the link above and then click on the layer control.  Scroll down through the list of layers and you'll see the control for for fire information (off by default, which is why I never realized it was there!):

There's one more thing worth paying attention to – the little “settings” gear to the right of “Active Fires”:

Here you get to choose what information about active fires you want displayed.  Note the satellite choice: the North American Satellites choice gives you higher resolution and more frequent coverage, but North America only.  The MODIS choice gives you coverage of the entire globe, but with lower resolution and less frequent updates.

Awesome tool!

California Doom...

Here's the text of California Assembly Bill 1266, passed along by friend, reader, and Idaho real estate mogul Doug S. (I think he enjoys laughing at the sufferings of the denizens of his former abode).  The bill has already passed in the Assembly and is currently awaiting action in the Senate.  The key bit is in Section 1, amending Section 221.5 of the education code to include:
(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.
So...a high school boy who claims identification as female must be allowed to join a girl's sports team, must be allowed to use the girl's locker room, and must be allowed to use the girl's restrooms.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

Doom.  Doom.  Doom.  The sounds of the drums beat ever closer...