Weekend Update 10/26/2008

Some random thoughts...

Weather Station Delta: For Jen's birthday this year, I bought her a bowling ball. This is figuratively speaking of course. I purchased a weather station for her as we are both somewhat amateur weather junkies. Rather then the usual canned package, I went the "some assembly required" route and got a TAI8515 1-Wire Weather Instrument Kit from AAG Electronica (based on Dallas Semiconductor weather station). This is a modular and expandable system, so she can add on modules as she wants them. Using the Open Source package One Wire Weather, we can not only use a Linux based server to gather data, but also upload to Weather Underground. After purchasing it, I realized I needed to actually position this on our roof somewhere and also tie it to a system. I had an old antenna mast from our previous wireless Internet setup along with a bulk of CAT 5 cable which ran to the house. I repositioned the antenna mast and CAT 5 line to the garage roof where it should get pretty clean air flow for wind measurement. The monitoring system was a bit more challenging though. I wanted a standalone system, which is not a problem as I have many of these, but I wanted it to be pretty quiet and low power. I kicked around the idea of a laptop, and even tried staging a few with mini Linux distros, but did not have the results I was looking for. I found an old thinclient salvaged from a client site that wound up fitting the bill. The CPU is an Eden 533MHz chip with 128MB of RAM and an IDE bus header on the mother board. I found a very reasonably priced 2GB Transcend solid state drive on Amazon and was able to load TinyME with little issue. After installing a few requisite packages, I was able to compile OWW 0.82.1 and verify good communications with the instrument cluster. So Jen's weather station is complete...at least until she wants to add a pressure sensor or humidity gauge...

Woodworking: I have not had nearly enough time to power up the lathe. Last weekend was consumed with family events and this weekend was occupied by miscellaneous home repair/improvement projects. The rest of my shop time has been spent working on a special Christmas project for our nephew, and I hope to have pictures of that available soon. Not having turned anything since Labor day, I did manage to get some pen blanks setup on Saturday which I hope to turn this coming weekend if the weather is good. Our local Woodcraft store is holding their Turn for the Troops on November 8th (check your local Woodcraft, it's a great event and fun as well) and I want a few pens to donate to the cause. I will not be able to help at the event this year since we have a prior commitment, but I can always donate some turned pens. Another project they are working on is a wooden toy drive for Christmas. I have a bit of scrap wood from other projects and have been researching some fun plans for inspiration. It's kind of fun to play the part of the Christmas elf making toys for kids (Horse 'Em!).

A day on the town: After spending all day at home on Saturday, Jen and I went into town for breakfast and some light shopping. We wanted to stop by Hobby Lobby only to find they are closed on Sundays (good for them, their people should get a day off), although the Game Stop was open. I acquired Resident Evil 4 for the Wii and looked dreamily at Dead Space and Fallout 3. After, I took Jen to a new yarn store in Sylvania so she could fondle all their wares. Nice place, nice people, and they even have a table/chairs waiting area! After a quick stop to a B&N/Starbucks for coffee drinks, we headed down to MacQueen's orchard for donuts and cider then out to Oak Openings Metro Park for our Autumn ritual of said donuts and cider by Mallard Lake. It started off being a rainy/cloudy day, but had cleared up and was very pleasant for a walk in the Metro Park. Afterwards, we completed our autumn ritual with a stop by a local greenhouse for pumpkins as Halloween is this week.

The coming week: Things I am looking forward to: art class on Tuesday (we learn value this session), pumpkin carving with Dave & Kelly on Thursday, and a visit from some of the best friends you could ask for, Deb & Brian, on Friday, and last, our Toledo Symphony concert this Sunday at the Rosary Cathedral in Toledo. Things I am loathing: nothing on this list yet!