Thursday, April 30, 2009


There is a Google blog post with more details.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Computer cabinet

Ever since we moved two years ago, "Chef", my file/web server, was sitting in the living room, and various other assorted computers were packed away in the garage.

You might argue, "why do you want to keep so many computers, when you survived for two years without them just fine?" ... Hmmm, good point. I am planning to consolidate a bunch of stuff, e.g redo the storage architecture for MythTV (do I really need 1.5T of RAID1 disk space in the living room, or can/should I split up into a true backend/frontend infrastructure, and combine this with the file server?)

Either way, those servers need to go somewhere and my old rack didn't fit into the train room, so I built a new rack that fits under the layout, and has enough space for those old Sun workstations, and my servers.

Since I still do wood-working near/in the train room, I added doors and dust screens. All the parts are left-overs from other projects:

  • The posts and wheels are from the old rack, and the posts shortened to match the new height requirements.
  • The bottom and top boards are from the tree house project (remember those roof plywood pieces were cut from a 8x4ft board).
  • The plywood for sides and doors was originally installed as cabinet doors in the garage. After one of the previous owners replaced the garage door the rails of the garage door are right in front of those built-in cabinets, so the doors no longer opened (!) One of my first actions in the garage was to take down the doors...

The new cabinet fits under the layout framing with 1/2" to spare, just as planned. When rolled to the middle of the room, I can access both sides of the rack. It's a bit cumbersome because the lower end of the layout framing is at a height of 27", but it works out reasonably well. I don't think I need to access this too often.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ein Baumhaus - selbstgebaut (Teil 2)

Fast fertig. Jetzt fehlt nur noch die Dachpappe.


I built this tree house from redwood lumber over the course of 4 days while on vacation a couple weeks ago. The lumber is from Home Depot. Assorted screws and some power tools I was eyeing for a while, I picked up at OSH. The first day was spent with preparing the site, digging holes for the poles, mounting the platform frame to the pressure treated posts and cementing the posts into place. The platform frame is made from redwood 2x6 boards held in place by 4" Timbertite screws.

After letting the cement cure for 2 days, Day 2 was spent on adding two additional floor joists and installing the platform floor. I used Spax 3" screws for mounting the floor. A variable speed, corded 1/2" power drill is invaluable for this. Normally, Spax screws don't need pre-drilling, but it's a good idea to pre-drill when you need to set a screw near the end of a board. I kept the drill in my battery powered drill, so was able to work quickly.

Day 3 saw the cutting of 7.5"x1/2" 8ft redwood planks into slats for the railing. The table saw is awsome for this. I sanded down the rough sawed boards first. The railing is built from 2x4" redwood boards at 2.5ft above the platform floor. I attached the slats using Spax 1 5/8" screws, again pre-drilling the slats, since the screws are close to the end of each slat. Finally, I added the support beams for the roof and cut the rear posts to length, so the roof slopes down towards the fence.

On Day 4 I installed the remaining support beams for the roof, and the plywood. The plywood was cut from two 8x4 boards. I had them cut at HomeDepot to 6x3.5ft and ended up shortening one of them to 6x3ft, so it doesn't stick out too far in the back. The roof support beams are 6ft long and the plywood sticks out all around by about half a foot, giving a bit more shade and space for wrapping around the tar paper.

This was a bit more interesting than I expected. I installed the top plywood piece first, secured it in place with several screws. Then threw the second plywood on the roof, and realized I can't reach beyond the first beam to add screws. Climbing on top of this, with a half secured plywood board in the rear was ... a bit annoying, but I was too lazy to get the ladder out of the garage.
Once the plywood was in place, I cut the rear wall from 6ft redwood fencing boards, sanded them on the inside, and again screwed everything in place. A jigsaw makes cutting openings for the roof beams easy.

All that's left to do is find some reasonably priced tar paper. I need 6x7ft, plus some slack, ~50 sqft. The smallest roll at HomeDepot costs $40 and covers 100 sqft.

Anyone want to share?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ein Baumhaus - selbstgebaut

Naja, Baumhaus ist vielleicht etwas uebertrieben, eher wohl Spielhaus auf Stelzen. So oder so, ich hatte diese Woche Urlaub und wollte wenigstens einen Eintrag von meiner Liste streichen koennen.

Montag und Dienstag verbrachten wir mit diversen Handwerkern, die Angebote fuer anstehende Renovierungen im und am Haus abgaben. Mittwoch nach dem Fruehstueck wurde der Bauplan gezeichnet, und dann kam der Grosseinkauf. Zwei Stunden bei Home Depot, eine Stunde bei OSH. Am Abend war es dann beschlossene Sache, dass ich das Fundament aus Zement mache (und nicht Eisenbahnschwellen wie urspruenglich geplant).

Donnerstag baute ich zunaechst den Rahmen der Platform aus 2x6 Redwood, und montierte dann die Pfosten (4x4 pressure treated fir) in die Ecken (mit Timbertite 4" Schrauben). Schoen gleichmaessig ausgemessen, so dass die Platform in jeder Ecke die gleiche Hoehe hat. Was ich nicht bedacht habe war die leichte Hanglage am Zaun, und so musste ich mich beim Lochgraben fuers Fundament hinten etwas verkuensteln damit die Platform in jeder Richtung eben ist. Das letzte Loch war Donnerstag abend mit Zement gefuellt und die Platform und Pfosten provisorisch abgestuetzt waehrend der Zement abbindet.

Samstag ging es dann mit dem Boden der Platform weiter. Ich zog zwei zusaetzliche Spanten ein (2x6 Redwood) und montierte dann den Boden (2x6 und ein paar 2x4), worauf mir aber dann doch tatsaechlich die Schrauben ausgingen (Spax Stainless Steel 3").

Gleich nach dem Fruehstueck am Sonntag ging es nochmal zu OSH um den Schraubenvorrat aufzustocken. Dann ging es Schlag auf Schlag. Die restlichen Schrauben im Boden der Platform kamen rein, dann die Balken fuer das Dach. Nach Bestandsaufnahme der Vorraete stellte ich fest, dass ich zwei weitere 2x4 brauche, um das Dach ordentlich abstuetzen zu koennen. Ein Besuch bei HomeDepot steht auf dem Programm... Fuer das Gelaender habe ich grob gesaegte Redwoodbretter abgeschliffen, zersaegt und verschraubt (mit Spax Stainless Steel 1 5/8"). Fuer die Rueckwand haben die Bretter nicht mehr gereicht, und ein paar muessen noch nachgekauft werden.

Und da steht es nun in unserem Garten, das langersehnte Baumhaus. Naechstes Wochenende sollte alles fertig werden. Rueckwand ran und Dach drauf.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Da kommt's hin ...

A high-quality online model railroad magazine

Just came across Model Railroad Hobbyist, a quite nice online only model railroad magazine. Several well-known authors are writing for this magazine, Joe Fugate is an editor. The magazine looks very good, and is well done. The articles are targeted to the serious modeler, and, especially the step-by-step instructions, go into quite some detail. Nice. I wish them best of luck, and hope they succeed financially as well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A random Link

Every so often one comes across a really well done site, and then it's written in a language you don't speak. Case in point: Avontuur in Miniatuur

The layout is very nice. The quality of the text and pictures is top-notch. I really like the Tips & Tricks section.

... and it's all in Dutch. Thankfully Dutch is close enough to German that I can find my way around, even though its quite a bit of work to muddle through words like "oppervlaktespanning" (surface tension), "afwasmiddel" (dish washing detergent), or "injectiepuit" (syringe). With a little bit imagination and reading the sentences out aloud the meaning often becomes clearer. "Oberflaechenspannung", "Abwaschmittel", "Injector thingie" convey enough meaning to make clear what the author wants to tell me.

Much more fun than using automated translation tools.


and if I actually paid attention, I would have noticed the "English" link in the top right corner earlier, though there is much less content in English than Dutch.