GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #085
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Editorial

Is it worth it? This is the question I've been asking myself a lot of late.

Is it worth building a house? making walking tracks? adding solar? building web sites? making a camper van? designing electronic gadgets? yada yada yada.

In 10 or 20 years time when I look back on the things I'm doing now will I think that I was wasting my time when really I should have been just enjoying the simpler things in life? Or will I think that I've used my time well?

I don't know. Maybe the only way to find out is to look back on what I've done in the past and ask the same question.

Well I suppose much of that time might have been better spent, but on the other hand by and large I have always been able to do what I liked when I liked, and with a lifetime of traveling and working at jobs I (mostly) enjoyed with people I (mostly) liked I suppose the answer has to be no, I didn't waste my time.

So I have to assume that by continuing on a similar path I will get a similar answer when I'm 80 or 90 should I be granted those years.



Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Sun 13 Sep 2020

I move the truck around to a spot nearer the workshop today. I might have a buyer so need to fix a few things up.


 

Sat 3 Oct 2020

Out to the range today. Then I have lunch in the rest area on the Burnett River.


 
 

Then I visit friends that own a farm nearby, have a cuppa and a natter then head home. About half way between Mt Perry and home I catch just a glimpse of an amazing tree as I drive past it. It's too late to stop so I make a mental note to have a good look next time. But after a few minutes I can't stand it and turn around.

I'm glad I did. It is a very photogenic tree and it needs some time spent on it, but for now I just take a quick pic as I'm keen to get home.


 

Wed 7 Oct 2020

Chris isn't well enough to cook dinner tonight so I make a pizza. She's been getting worse lately and I wonder about how much traveling we will actually get done when I build the camper.

Sun 11 Oct 2020

A friend is moving house and wants to get rid of a lot of tools. I don't really need anything but on the other hand if there's a bargain going.

I go around and wind up getting quite a lot of stuff including a battery charger, solar regulator, TIG/stick/plasma welder/cutter, about 500 3" stainless steel screws, a tool kit for the car and assorted tools, wire etc. All for $250.

Heck, there must be $200 worth just in the screws.


 

Not that I plan to do any more roofing and even if I did I would most likely need steel screws and these are for wood.

Fri 9 Oct 2020

I've been having some dizzy spells lately so I thought maybe it's an iron deficiency or something. The chemist says that she can test for that if I can wait a few minutes. Sure I have plenty of time.

She finishes with her current customer and sits me down in the office. She asks a few questions but one that struck me as odd was "Do you work out?". Not "get any exercise" or something I would consider normal, but "work out". The phrase implies lifting weights in a gym which I don't do. But do I look like I do? I doubt it, be good if I did though

Anyway it looks like my iron levels are good. She reckons it might simply be a lack of minerals as you lose them when you sweat, so she recommends one of those fizzy drinks. It's a bit expensive but I get a pack with 10 drinks, that should prove one way or another.

Fri 23 Oct 2020

I've been doing a lot of grass clearing of late, mostly for fire mitigation as that season is imminent. But also we prefer the look of the place when it's cleared.

When I finish an area I realise that I'm close to where I made my walking track a few years ago. I think it's time to resurrect that project so I clear about 20 meters of the now overgrown track.

It's looking pretty sad I have to say, that was seven years ago I made the track and it's been neglected ever since, mostly because I have been too busy building houses and workshops etc etc. But that's all but finished now, time to do some hobby jobs and the walking tracks are just that.

Sun 25 Oct 2020

I went blacksmithing today. I met a local Gin Gin bloke with a forge and he invited me around to have a bash. A mate of his turned up as well and we spent the entire day hammering and yammering. Good fun.

I really need to get my forge operational, actually it probably is operational right now, it's me that's not working.

Then later in the night I do some electronic design. You gotta love having feet in two totally different worlds eh?

Fri 30 Oct 2020


 My new vlogging camera.

<RANT>

I had to go into Bundy today and while there I thought I'd look at the DJI Osmo Action video camera. I've done a lot of research and it seems to be the current best value for its type and I'd like to up my Youtube game with a decent camera.

Well blow me down if it's not on special in at JB Hifi, $100 off. So I buy one.

I get it home and the battery is flat, who the hell sells a device with a flat battery these days? But no problem, we'll just plug it in for a few minutes then turn it on.

Straight up I get a screen that says I have to "activate" the device and that I have 5 more tries to do so.

WTF? It's a bloody camera, you turn it on and bloody use it. But it seems that with all DJI gear you need Bluetooth, WiFi, and a compatible smart phone just to get the thing started.

What if you don't have a smart phone? And even if you do WTF business do they have forcing me to download an app that collects who knows what data just so I can use their effing camera that I paid good money for?

And just last week the video editing software had such a bad bug after I upgraded that it was essentially unusable. Their response...upgrade again for another $60. I was...shall we say...somewhat terse in my response and they offered a free upgrade.

I'm SO wild about all this crap that the above few paragraphs were definitely not family friendly and I've had to edit them.

If I can't get it to work tonight I'll take it back and either they get it working or give me my money back. And I hope that nobody drops their Biro while I'm there 'cause I'm fixin' to shove this thing up somebody's arse.

</RANT>

Anyway once I settle down and use the camera a bit I'm happy with it. I'm slowly trying to improve the quality of the videos on my YouTube channel. One could argue that it's the content that matters and that's true, but the technical stuff has to be at least reasonable as well.

Sat 31 Oct 2020

And now for something completely different. From the complexity of modern cameras and phones to the simplicity of Army ground anchors, a huge snatch block, and some big-arsed shackles.


 

I should have put something in the pic to give scale, but those shackle pins are about 35mm (1 3/8") in diameter. I reckon the snatch block weighs 15kgs.

They were in the truck and had got pretty grubby and even rusty, so I've cleaned them up. They can go back in the truck now.

Sun 1 Nov 2020

About 7 years ago I started on what was going to be a network of walking tracks around our land. Then house building and other things got in the way and the 400-meters or so that I did build got left to fall into disrepair.

Fast forward to last week and while clearing the long grass in readiness for fire season I stumbled across a part of the old track and decided to at least clear the regrowth from it. This I have done to some extent but that got me back into track-making mode so I have started cutting a new track as is shown in the photo here.

I reckon I can get 2-3 kilometres of walking track on our land if I keep at it. Depending on the difficulty (lots of rocks in places that needs the crow bar) I can get about 10 meters done in a session so in a year I could have it finished if I do an hour or so most days.

For now I'm just cutting a narrow path and in places where it's not steep I really just rake it and chip out the tussocks. In time I will go back over it and make it wider and flatter (it will eventually need to be wide enough for my Zimmer frame), but for now I'd rather have a 100% of the tracks half made than 50% of them fully made.

Why make them at all? Well firstly because I always need a project, but mostly because it's just too steep, ankle-twisting, and scrubby around here to allow a pleasant walk, and if it's not pleasant you don't do it. And what's the point in having multiple acres if you don't walk around them? Also it will be good for photographing the wildlife because you walk very quietly on a track whereas you make a racket stumbling over rocks and fallen branches in the native bush.


 

So at the end of each session I walk back along the new track to make sure I'm happy with it. But on this day I see 100s of native bees dead on the track, I look up and see others swarming on a tree. I don't know if they are setting up a new hive or leaving an old one, but this makes four that I know of on the property.


 
 

This sort of thing justifies the existence of a track network to me. If you're out and about you see stuff you just don't see from the lounge room.

And speaking of seeing from the lounge room, this is my view at beer o'clock.


 

You could do worse eh?

Sat 14 Nov 2020

A young couple that live just a few kilometers away are selling up and moving onto a yatch with a view to sailing it around the world. As such they are getting rid of a heap of gear they don't need. I don't need most of it either, but I can use their 13 solar panels.

He said that they were 250w and showed me the eBay ad he bought them from.


 

It looks like he paid $115 each and he's asking $60 per or $500 for all 13 and most have literally not been used. I won't argue the price.

He also sent a photo of one panel.


 

Just looking at the size (and shape, 250-watt panels are generally squarer than that) I was pretty sure they weren't 250s, so I asked for a photo of the label.


 'All technical data is udnder test conditions' Ha ha. A quality product we have here.

There is no current rating on the label. What the heck? I've never seen this before and I doubt that this is even legal.

When I get there I measure them and calculate that they are in fact 170 watts. So he was ripped off, but even at 170 I'm happy with the price, and I didn't have to drive far to get them.

They are 12-volt panels therefore I have to use them in pairs, so I'll have an array of 12 with one spare.


 

Tue 24 Nov 2020

The gum trees around here shed their bark every year but this year it seems to be way over the top.


 

Most days in the winter we go searching for bark to start the fire and there's bugger all around by then, so this summer I've decided to collect it while there's so much on the ground.

thu 26 Nov 2020

The shade sail that creates a car port has ripped where it tubs on the central support pole. I have an upside-down bowl on top of the pole that spreads the load and that has worked for years, but I guess the stress eventually took it's toll.

So today I took the sail down and sewed the rip with my heavy-duty sacking needle. I'm not sure how long it will last but I think we'll be replacing the lot with a proper roof one day so it doesn't matter much. That said I'm a bit over building so maybe not, it would be easier to just buy another sail.


 

Sat 28 Nov 2020

Time to do a bit on the solar expansion.

I've bought a box to house the bus bars that I will terminate all the solar panels, The box will be mounted on a post outside near the panel arrays. So I start by making a post from two back-to-back 100mm C purlins and mount the box to that.


 
 

The three large holes will allow entry of the cables through the 2" PVC pipe I use as conduit.

Now I move on to organising the wall of power in the shed.

I add cable ducting and hang the new battery chargers and two of the new solar regulators I recently bought. I'm still waiting for one more regulator and some cable, but this is a start.


 

That large inverter/charger at the bottom is an old Trace unit from the truck and it will go back there soon. I do however want to have two inverters for redundancy and I've ordered another inverter. The new one is 5000w and I plan to have two 240v circuits, one on the 3000w inverter you can see here above the Trace, this will drive the house. The other circuit will be on the new 5000w inverter and be dedicated to driving the workshop. Should one fail I will be able to swap things around, but meanwhile I'm hoping that the 5000w inverter will be able to run my small compressor without too much drama. At present the only two tools that need the generator are the welder and the compressor, I don't think I'll ever be able to weld from the inverter, but the compressor should run OK.

That said I have done light welding from that old Trace and that's only 3300w, as mentioned the new one is 5000w but it can surge to 10,000w so maybe. But on the other hand these are Chinese watts so let's wait and see

 

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