GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #088
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Editorial

I've stopped doing work for other people, well I still help out occasionally but I no longer seek paid work because I've decided that my time is worth more to me now than any money I might earn.

A couple of years ago we were busted-arse broke and any extra income was welcome, that's no longer the case, we have more money than we need — not a lot mind you, just more that we need because we don't need much — and I'm not getting any younger. Of course I don't know how much longer I have on this earth but whatever time frame that is I don't want to spend any more of it than necessary doing things I don't want to do.

So there will be no more building for me as well, I still have a couple of small jobs to do like the camper and solar panel frames, and it looks like I'll knock up one more carport, but that's it I think. I'd rather be out taking photos, tinkering with electronics or in the workshop, or working on my land.

Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Mon 22 Mar 2021

It's actually been raining a bit of late, and all the mushrooms are poking their heads up.


 

Mon 05 Apr 2021

I've only been posting old photos lately and thought it was time to go out and shoot some new material. So yesterday I had reason to drive up to the Lowmead area and decided to take a camera with me and see what I could find after my business was done.

Over a period of 2 hours I took about 15 photos, some of them are posted here. All OK I think and a couple I really like. The rain helped by saturating colours as well.

Three of these are multi-frame stitches on an old 16Mpx camera, one of those resulted in a 77Mpx file, the others around 45Mpx, who needs a new $8000 Fuji or Canon?

NOTE: Some images have an info icon at top left, clicking on that will popup information about the image and also provide a link to the image's gallery page. In many cases the gallery page has a huge zoomable and pannable image that looks quite spectacular with lots of interesting detail if you go full screen.

Dodge truck in rain

Dodge truck in rain

Ivy on log

Shell depot


 


 


 


 The old Bruce Hwy.

Fri 09 Apr 2021

For a long time now I've liked the idea of photographing our old(er) buildings. The trouble is that invariably they have all manner of modern detritus around, and even worse, in front of them.

This can usually be overcome with modern software so I thought I'd give it a go with this building in Bundaberg.
It's many hours of work but I like the results so I think I'll start a project along these lines, all the old buildings in the Wide Bay Burnett district or some such.

The original photo. Yuck.


 

The colour version, getting there, still has some slight fringing and needs more work but I stopped at this point because I preferred the B&W version so worked on that instead.


 

The final version, I prefer it to the colour one and have done a little bit more work on it for that reason.

Qunaba House

Fri 16 Apr 2021

I scored 14 free solar panels today, from a neighbour that upgraded his system and had no use for the old panels. It was either give them to me or dump them at the tip.


 

They are so cheap these days it's hardly worth faffing around selling them for many people.

The bamboo is doing OK as well. Why the heck we planted bamboo I don't know, it was supposed to be a screen for the car I suppose, but I hate non-productive things and this serves no real purpose while using our water. I should have just built a wall.


 

Sat 17 Apr 2021

Here's another nice old building that's been "cleaned up", the Masonic Lodge in Childers.

Not a lot to do on this one and unlike the previous building I think I prefer the colour version this time.


 The preferred final image.


 Black & white version.


 Original image.

One thing to note is the importance (IMO) of having a vehicle that allows easy access to the roof because being two-ish meters higher usually gives you a vastly improved perspective. You will notice that in this photo my eye is roughly at the level of the first floor, so I can point the camera dead horizontal and therefore not have any leaning verticals. If I couldn't shoot from the roof of my car this would not be the case and I would have to correct the leaning verticals on the computer, doable of course but you lose pixels when you do that.

Thu 22 Apr 2021

I try to move the truck this morning, it starts OK but the clutch pedal goes straight to the floor. So I have to spend time removing and cleaning the master cylinder and bleeding the line.

The video also seems to prove that I have a stuck brake as I have suspected for some time, another thing to fix.

After all that the truck is now in it's new, and probably final, location.


 
 

Sat 24 Apr 2021

Adding to our fuel stores.


 
 

Mon 26 Apr 2021

Last week the call went out on a local Facebook group for people to help an old bloke to clear his yard.

So today quite a few of us turn up to old Drew's place with various implements like brush cutters and mowers. After a couple of hours the place looks pretty trim and we are treated with coffee and cake.


 
 

That's "old Drew" on the right of the first photo, turns out he's younger than me, but has several medical issues. And for those that don't know me, I'm the handsome chap in the blue t-shirt.

Sun 02 May 2021

My neighbour's old Fiat tractor, I thought it looked nice with the lantana flowers.


 

The pumpkins have sprouted.


 

Sun 16 May 2021

World chip shortages are affecting the production of everything because...well because everything you buy now, from a cat door to a Kenworth, is totally dependent on electronics and therefore "chips".

Sure I have stuff that does as well, the computer I'm typing this on for starters. But at this point I can see no new important purchases in my future that do (directly) rely on electronics in themselves, yeah I might want to upgrade my 10-year-old computer in another 10 years, and even if (actually make that when) I DOWNgrade my phone it will still be to a phone that need chips.

Of course even if I buy a hammer I am relying on chips to use eBay or for the distribution to the local hardware store, but I really don't need to buy anything these days, nothing essential anyway, just toys.

So by and large I don't care if we can get chips or not.

Chip shortage?...tell someone who cares.


 

Wed 19 May 2021

I've got a better way to unload sticks from the trailer.


 

Tue 01 Jun 2021

The shade sail we've been using for years, to protect our vehicles from the sun and tree sap, tore a hole a few weeks back, right at the spot where it's supported by a center pole. When I installed the sail I placed an upside down bowl on the pole to spread the load and stop any abrasion, and it's worked well for many years but something had to give one day.

And it gave a few weeks ago. I sewed the tear up and replaced the sail but didn't hold out much hope for a permanent fix.

And sure enough it's torn again, right next to the repair.

It's time for the sail to go, so I pull it down then remove one of the support poles.


 
 

You can see the center pole with upturned bowl in the above photo.

Many months ago Chris floated the idea of replacing the shade sail with a proper roof, and at the time I didn't want to do the work. I still don't really, but can see that a steel roof would be much better, so add that job to the list.

The pumpkins are doing well.


 

If I'm going to build a carport roof here the dead tree has to go before then, because after it will be too close to the new roof to drop safely. So it's time to drop the tree.


 
 
 

Wed 02 Jun 2021

I will now dice the tree up for firewood. I used to use the chainsaw bar length to measure the 12" lengths I need but now I mark off the log with a crayon first. I'm finding that to be easier.


 
 

Maybe one day I'll learn how to do a straight cut through the log as well.

Thu 05 Jun 2021

More pumpkin porn.


 

Sun 06 Jun 2021

The pumpkin seeds I planted a month or so back are doing well, so well in fact that they have outgrown their temporary wire enclosure and are in need of something permanent.

So being the DIYer extraordinaire that I am I knocked up this structure. It's a vast improvement and it also allows for easy expansion as required.


 

I was of course eager to show off my handy work to 'er indoors.

She inspected the workmanship and was heard to say "So good" on returning to the warmth of our slow-combustion fire...at least I think that's what she said, sounded a bit like that anyway.

Wed 16 Jun 2021

Ages ago I removed the ute liner from the Cruiser in preparation for the camper fitout.

It's been lying on the ground since then and has actually been quite useful as a sweepable "floor", but I think it will be more useful as a liner for the trailer because the plywood floor is looking pretty tatty these days and if I don't do something soon I will need to replace it. So I cut the liner down to size and drag it in.


 

It's deliberately a bit over size so the sides curve upwards, thus removing any corners for crap to accumulate.

Then I make a simple wire mesh rack to hold some items such as fuel and bar oil for the chainsaw.


 

These used to be stored in the body of the trailer but that was a pain because they got in the way of any load. Now they are nicely out of the way.

Fri 19 Jun 2021

Some local bloke is advertising 30 sheets of corro roofing iron. I offered $50 and he accepted so I drive down to Childers, pick up a mate, then go out to load the iron.

After loading a heap the bloke says, right, now we can get to the 30 sheets.

So we load them and then he says "What about those ones over there, do you want them as well?"

After a while we just have to stop because I am worried about the load getting too heavy for the trailer, it's a fairly large trailer but light weight and only rated to 500kgs, good for bulky loads like wood chip but not so great for heavy loads.


 

All in all I get 80 sheets, many are quite short but still, that's a pretty good deal for $50.

When I get home I sort them into lengths and document what I have to make any future use easier.


 
 

Fri 25 Jun 2021

Returning to my QUUB project after quite some time I just sent my design files off to the PCB fab house, $26 for 5 of these 4-layer boards (actually $10 for the boards, $16 for freight). It's amazing what you can do these days, I remember it costing an arm and a leg to have a simple 2-layer board made and then I had to wait until my work was having a panel made and slip my design onto that.

I'm still not convinced that I want to get back into embedded electronics, but I'm slowly getting the solar system wired up properly and I think a few gadgets to remotely monitor everything will be a fun project.


 

Fri 07 Jul 2021

Up at 5:30 this morning in the freezing cold (well freezing by our standards) splitting rounds for the fire because I was too lazy to do some yesterday. By the time I'd finished I was quite hot and no longer needed a fire.

As they say, firewood warms you three times, when you cut it, when you split it, and when you burn it. But then there's when you buck the tree, clean up the shattered branches from where the tree fell, load, unload and stack the rounds, carry split wood to the house, and probably 5 other times.

Sat 10 Jul 2021

Continuing with the firewood theme.

The handle of my block splitter shattered this afternoon, but of course I have a spare (two in fact, I have spares of just about everything), the new handle is a little large so 20 minutes with my paring chisel and one of my draw knives and I'm back in business.

That's a 2-hour round trip into the hardware store I didn't have to make, ya gotta love being prepared for "stuff" with all the parts and the tools to fix (most) things. And if I can't fix something on the spot I usually have a backup.


 

Thu 15 Jul 2021

I've finally done it, I've gone blue.

Yes that's right, I now have two Victron inverters.


 

Old-style ones, not a WiFi or a Bluetooth or an Android app in sight, so old-style in fact that all the components are all through hole devices, no SMD packages at all.


 

Heck I even know what most of the chips are. Have a look at that PCB, beeuuuuudiful.

Just the way I want my hi-tech, least ways the stuff I don't design myself.

Yes the newer "smart" ones are cheaper, but I won't have anything smart in my house...umm, hang on.

Fri 23 Jul 2021

Some time ago I was approached by an Aussie company and asked if I'd design and write the code for a simple RS-485 asynch-serial protocol that would allow their products to talk to each other.

I said sure, $1000 up front and another $1000 when done.

I wanted the first $1000 to buy an oscilloscope to help diagnose problems I encounter, but apart from that I just don't trust anyone and the up-front payment will cover me if things get gnarly between us.

"I don't think the boss will like that" said the fellow I was interacting with.

But I'm 67 years old and no longer really give a toss what people think so I replied.

"I don't much care what the boss likes or doesn't like, that's what I want to do the job. I neither need the money nor want the agro of doing the work, so find someone else. And for what it's worth if I was an engineer with my bum on a seat in the Sydney office $2000 would cover about 3 days of my time (including on-costs), can you find anyone to do this in 3 days?"

A week later

"The boss has given the go ahead".

So it's been another couple of weeks now and it's pretty much working, I bought the scope and you'll see why it's required in the photos below.

I also asked why they are so short staffed, I thought that for the last 30 years every man and his dog has been been doing Computer Science (or whatever it's called) at university. "We've been advertising everywhere" he said, "even overseas, but no luck". Actually they did put a young bloke on to do this but despite his BSc and sharp young mind he couldn't get anything to work so they had to come back to the old bloke that never finished school.

Go figure.

And in a related aside we talked about this same job over a year ago, at that time I quoted $50 an hour to do the work. They objected so I responded by telling them that I get $25 an hour just for feeding the neighbour's bloody cat (I did), admittedly that gig is off now because the cat killed a possum and I told the neighbour that I'll shoot the thing before I feed it again. But that's another story.

And no I don't normally charge to help out my neighbours, I feed the dogs on the other side for free, I water the plants at another neighbour's for free, I drop trees and buck them for firewood for free, I even helped clear the yard of an old bloke (Drew, see above) I've never met that lives 10k away for free. But this particular neighbour insisted on reimbursing me for my time (which quite frankly is worth bugger all in some respects, and a lot in other respects).

Anyway, back to the current job, it's taken me longer than 40 hours to write this protocol which of course reduces my hourly rate but that doesn't matter, it's money I wouldn't have had otherwise and I've got a new scope and will get a new chainsaw as well (ordered). Heck I used to get $80 per hour way back in the 90s, that's probably $150 in today's dollars, but those heady days are long gone I think.

Here's what the signal looks like on my logic analyser, all nice and clean, no problems there eh? But that's what logic analysers are supposed to do, just show you the logic levels to help diagnose "logic" problems, not look at the nitty gritty of analogue signals.


 

The framing error is deliberate, I send a "break" character as a start of frame (SOF) delimiter.

This is an acknowledge (ACK) frame to node 0, from node 1 with a type of ACK (6) and data length 0, and lastly a checksum of F8.

Now let's look at this signal on the scope.


 

Hmm, not quite as clean eh, a little bit hairy in places but overall pretty good.

But what's with those anomalies on the rising edges? Let's zoom in a bit.


 

Yikes! My square wave is not as square as I thought.

At the speed this is currently running it doesn't really matter, but if I crank it up a few notches that might become a problem.

Mon 02 Aug 2021

I love the Google Earth program, many years ago it cured me of my desire to return to London because I could take a virtual walk down the streets I used to know without the hassle and expense of actually going there. Yeah I know, not the same, but it's pretty good.

So last night I had occasion to have a poke around Gibraltar, and while there thought I'd go for a stroll over to north Africa and from there moved east to Egypt at a high altitude.

I spotted the Nile delta but it was covered in small dots. "What the heck are those" I thought.

Check out these pics to find out. Hint, this area is just HEAVING with millions of people.


 

Clearly this is the Nile delta, but what are all those dots?


 


 

Still not sure what they are. It's hard to get the scale here, but they look a bit like the mullock heaps at Coober Pedy.

Let's look a bit closer. Oh shite! They are houses...


 

...villages...


 

...towns...


 

...even whole cities.


 

If you look at the bottom of the delta you can see a huge city, that's Cairo. The population of Egypt is about 100 million, and I reckon 95 million of them live in this relatively small area. I just can't imagine living like that, although at least there is some space around the towns I suppose.

Tue 03 Aug 2021

Guess who's got a new toy...err I mean tool.


 

It's a little ripper, well actually it's quite a large ripper but you get the idea. It's an MS261 with a 20" bar and TC (tungsten carbide) chain, twice the size of my existing saw and man does it go through the Aussie hardwood in a flash. You know a motor has some grunt when it needs a deco (decompression) lever for starting.

I got a longer bar than standard but looking at the photo I'm wondering if I should have gone even longer. Stihl can I suppose.

Meanwhile back at the pumpkins.


 
 We have a lot of native bees here.


 A pumpkin starts.

 

 

Comments

Date  ::   20 Sep 2021
Name  ::   Mark
Location  ::   Hunter NSW
Comment  ::   Hey Rob, I saw a comment a while back about maybe having a buyer for the truck. No, I don't want to buy it. I'm wondering if you'd be better off trying a bit harder to sell such a fine beast to someone who will use it, rather than having it parked and biodegrading until it no longer runs. I learnt that the hard way years ago...sell it now rather than keep it until it's too late. Anyway, just a thought, obviously it's your truck to do whatever you want with. To me it seems a shame for the truck's career to end with a whimper like this, after all the work you put into it. Love the blog, keep at the projects, stay well. Cheers. Mark.
   
Date  ::   21 Sep 2021
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Mark,

Yeah we should sell it, I'm just too lazy to make it look more presentable and we still think we might use it one day as a backup to live in, but that's unlikely and anyway with the money we could buy something smaller and more appropriate.

And it is just wasting away. I will revisit the idea.

Rob
   
Date  ::   26 Oct 2021
Name  ::   robert
Location  ::   sydney
Comment  ::   Hi Rob, Really enjoyed reading your adventures in north QLD, Wallaby Ridge.
Those galvanized sheets look like the real heavy duty stuff, good find.
Bought a couple of new sheets from Bunnings, to my surprise they were so thin you could actually tear them with just your hands..
The old sheets are much better!!
   
Date  ::   27 Oct 2021
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Thanks.

Yeah most of that corro I got is old stuff and that was made a lot thicker than modern material. It's quite obvious when you pick one up after the other, nearly twice the weight.

I was in Bundy the other day and drove right past Bunnings without going in, first time ever I think
   
Date  ::   02 Nov 2021
Name  ::   Daina
Location  ::   Wollongong
Comment  ::   Here. Is one out of the woodworks. Reading betwean the lines i wonder if good helt there at waluby ridge is in the upper. Anyhow whatthehellisthat mar 11 woulnd it be up for rend by a super quiet single individual tememporarily while me own unit gets sorted? What do you think? Cheers
   
Date  ::   07 Nov 2021
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hi Daina,

I gather that you want to rent the truck to live in for a while. Unfortunately it's not really usable at present, it needs a lot of work to get everything working. But apart from that we only allow people here that we have known for a long time.

Rob
   

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