Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Descent Into Madness Continues

Pipe Organ Madness That Is....

Got a call yesterday from the owner of the house with the built-in pipe organ I posted about before.
He's decided that he'll let me come cherry pick the pipe organ bits strewn about the house!!!!!
Yay Hurray!!!!
Well, the price was right so off we went. I was able to CON-vince a friend into helping...thank the gods as I would not of been able to carry all the stuff we got.

Another in the apparently ongoing series of, 'Look how much crap I stuffed our little truck with!'

Truck Full Of Free Pipe Organ Stuff

Some of these pipes are just monstrous. I'm talking like 8' long and 8" square.
If I ever get those working the sound is going to be thunderous.

WOW! there is a lot more than I thought...a lot more.
There appears to be four different types of pipes, two wood and two different types of metal.

Big Stack of Wood Pipes

I dig how some of them are mitered.
All of these pipes are new to me.
The wood pipes are stamped with MEL and ST. DIA.

Like the patent stamp on this one.
I think that means that they are Melodia and Stopped Diason?
The ST. DIA pipes sound amazing I think..better than the Melodia.
This means I now have two sets of wood Melodia pipes...

Metal Pipes!

There are some truly itty-bitty pipes. So small that you think they couldn't possibly be real.
But wow when you blow into them...they are real and VERY high pitched.
These pipes are made out of very soft lead. The stupid monkeys who dismantled the organ tweaked a lot of them...I hope its somehow possible to untweak them.
This makes me so mad, before the monkeys came along they were sealed up in a wall so they were probably in perfect shape....arrrrrrrrgh!

We also were able to save a fair amount of the facade pieces.
Here are my two favorite pieces.

Coolest thing is that these are functional bits of the organ.
Their are  air passages in them!


There were pipes on these things that played! How cool is that?

More facade pieces
There is some nice trim in there.

The across the street neighbor came over to chat while we were loading up the truck.
He said that he had a lot of good pictures of the organ back in its heyday.
He's going to email me copies!
Yay! at least now I'll have an idea of what this thing looked like.

Annnnnnnd, we still have to go back to get the rest....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A New Flavor Of Madness

I saw an interesting ad on Craig's List the other day.....
Does anybody think I have a 'Craig's List problem'?
I can quit anytime I swear!

Anywho, the ad was for the individual solar cells for a Solyndra solar panel.
Yes that Solyndra, the failed clean tech company that the repubs have made so
much political hay over.
The price was right, less than $8 each so I grabbed a bunch.

Check em out
Don't they just look cool?

Closer-up view of the tubes.
They are a dark, dark purple with a silver spiral wound around the inside.
In person they are quite striking. They have the same form factor as a FL tube.
They are about 3' long and 1" in diameter.

Thought I'd run some tests in direct sunlight.

Single one up close on a blue background.

Just lying on the blue blanket in direct sun I got these readings from a single tube.
Open Circuit Voltage
~118V DC! Yowza
Open Circuit Amps
With a whopping .028 Amps.

Then I picked up the tube and held it at a roughly 45 deg angle so that light could hit the tube from all sides the readings changed to this.
Open Circuit Voltage

Open Circuit Amps
So I've got 120VDC and .040A. I supposed this supports Solyndras assertion that these tubes are omni-directional.
I will need to test these under a load but I'm not sure what a safe load would be....anybody got any ideas?

My Crazy Plan
These tubes are so striking that I want to use them in some sort of outdoor art piece.
Maybe the tubes charge a battery during the day and then the piece lights up at night.
Or it could be a kinetic sculpture that moves during the day when the tubes are producing power.

I don't instantly know how to make use of 100-120V DC.
I'm not sure that DC-DC step down converters exist that can handle this high of an input voltage.
I need to figure out how to charge a battery from this input.

Anybody got any ideas?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Commercial Self Playing Pipe Organ

Okay, so in my crazy quest to build my own mini self playing pipe organ I am of course perusing Craig's list for ANYTHING cheap that I can use to further that aim.

I came across an ad for an 'Alan Pell Auto Organ'.
To the interwebs to do some research.
I couldn't find the exact product on their website but what I did find is...

Called the seller who refused to give me a price, WTF?
But I was intrigued so went to take a look at it.

Doesn't it look cute?
Its got 27 pipes, some reed and some flue.

It even has a snare drum!

We plugged it in and it worked!

This is the back side of it.
Check out the selection of songs and the awesome modern electronic interface...
This thing is serious vintage early 80's tech at best.

The back folds down so you can peek inside.
Wow, I think each card stores several songs.
Very low tech. No midi no easy expandability...just an interesting oddity I guess.
I was hoping that this was one of the newer models with MIDI so that I could use this as a base for my pipe organ and just add pipes....
Well, besides the fact that the seller was very disconnected from reality on what it was worth, the darn thing did not sound good.
I don't know if it needed to be tuned or what but even the quality of the sound was unattractive to me.
It sounded thin and shrill.

After looking at the manufacturers website and seeing the prices for a build your own model and hearing this one in the flesh I'm more convinced than ever that I can make something that sounds a lot better for A LOT less money.

And so the craziness continues.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Underdeck Bike Storage 2

Okay, been doing a little thinking about the under deck storage idea.
To review, we want to turn this long dark, head bumping, low overhead section of deck into useful storage.

My best idea so far is sorta a humongous pantry pull out for bicycles that could maybe look something like this.
Probably shouldn't of drew that in red pen....

Current Best Idea
Enclose the deep pocket above using the existing deck framing.
Make it water, critter and thief proof.
The front 'door' of the bike pullout will form the front of the 'cabinet'.
The door will lock securely to the deck framing.
The pull out will be made with simple angle iron (possibly old bed frames).
Using two angle iron pieces welded close enough together so that the bike tires fit in between them.
So each horizontal rung in the picture above will hold one bike.

Still To Solve
I need a way to keep the bikes upright so they don't domino everywhere when the pantry is pulled in and out.

The Mother Of All Caster Wheels
Check this baby out.
YEARS ago, I bought a ton of these surplus...They are crazy beefy.
That plate is ~10# of some kind of stainless steel!

They've got pneumatic cylinders and a cool heim joint. The axle for the wheel even rides on a sintered bronze bearing.
I plan to discombobulate these and use the cylinder and heim joints for some Halloween craziness and just use the wheels/yoke for the bike pull out.

Theres one little problem though.
I don't know how to remove this split pin to free up the heim joint.

Anybody have any ideas on how to remove these pins?

So, that's what I got so far.
Comments? Questions?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Alameda Realtors, Getting Desperate?

I swear, I think every other day I get an unsolicited piece of snail mail from some Alameda based Realtor.
The emails all say the same thing,

'Now is the bestest time EVER to sell your house!!!!'
'All houses in Alameda are getting multiple offers and going for WAY over asking.'

Some even come with charts and graphs! To prove their point.

I don't have access to official MLS stats but it seems like there's what, 3 houses on the market right now in Alameda?

Last time I checked G&L had what ~30 Realtors and Harbor Bay about the same?

Wonder how long its going to be before they start shivving each other for listings?

Glad I'm not a Realtor...though honestly, that herd needed to be thinned a looooong time ago.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Clever Under Deck Bicycle Storage?

We've recently just realized that if we ever (ahem) get the basement apartment finished and rented out that all the 'stuff' we store down there has to go somewhere else...
Que me spending the next couple of days going through all of our giant piles of stuff to see what we can keep, toss, sell...hellooooooo Craigs List!

What I'd like to figure out is how to cleverly store our bicycles and yard tools under our deck.
That way we can free up the space in the garage to store the building supplies currently stored in the basement.


Yard Tools

We've got these big deep pockets on the driveway side formed by the decks super-structure.

One immediate problem is, is that the dang deck is too low to hang the bikes vertically.

They'll fit at roughly a 45 deg angle though.

Which brings to mind this kind of bike rack.

The commercially available outdoor bike storage sheds leave a lot to be desired.

We have no access from the top, we hate plastic, and I trying to avoid crawling under the deck to get the bikes out. The joists are EXACTLY at the right height for us to bonk our heads on just about EVERY freaking time we're under there. A couple of times I've bonked my head so hard I actually saw stars...I think I even saw the little yellow birds tweeting around my head ala classic Warner Bros. cartoons....

The Design Challenge
Somehow make use of the depth of the 'deck pockets' to store bikes, strollers, bicycle trailers in a safe, secure, weather tight way. Where we will not have to hunch over and walk under the deck to dig our bikes out.

I've pretty much got nothing....
Except build something that will hold the bikes like this.
But then the entire rack pulls out into the free 'no head bonking' air space.

Anybody else have any ideas?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Cost vs. Value Report

Remodeling Magazines Cost vs. Value report for 2013 recently came out.

Lets take a look at the numbers.
 The left hand column is the data for the SF Bay area region and the right is the national averages.

Pacific — Midrange
2013 National Averages
Job CostResale ValueCost RecoupedProjectJob CostResale ValueCost RecoupedChange vs. 2011-12
$56,612$50,38089.0%Attic Bedroom$47,919$34,91672.9%Change
$12,616$7,55759.9%Backup Power Generator$11,410$6,01452.7%Change
$73,530$64,59387.8%Basement Remodel$61,303$43,09570.3%Change
$43,852$30,26269.0%Bathroom Addition$37,501$20,56954.8%Change
$18,570$14,79179.6%Bathroom Remodel$15,782$10,29565.2%Change
$16,811$13,72981.7%Deck Addition (composite)$15,084$10,18467.5%Change
$11,116$10,68296.1%Deck Addition (wood)$9,327$7,21377.3%Change
$2,897$2,45284.6%Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass)$2,753$1,81365.9%Change
$1,245$1,18395.0%Entry Door Replacement (steel)$1,137$97485.6%Change
$93,262$69,90675.0%Family Room Addition$79,006$50,01363.3%Change
$55,179$43,03578.0%Garage Addition$48,806$31,09163.7%Change
$1,669$1,55192.9%Garage Door Replacement$1,496$1,13275.7%Change
$31,338$15,88650.7%Home Office Remodel$27,292$11,91143.6%Change
$60,865$49,36681.1%Major Kitchen Remodel$53,931$37,13968.9%Change
$119,724$88,17073.6%Master Suite Addition$101,873$64,39063.2%Change
$21,094$18,98590.0%Minor Kitchen Remodel$18,527$13,97775.4%Change
$21,834$16,08473.7%Roofing Replacement$18,488$11,63362.9%Change
$13,271$10,14276.4%Siding Replacement (vinyl)$11,192$8,15472.9%Change
$81,682$42,1881600.0%Sunroom Addition$72,179$33,52946.5%Change
$172,167$130,11875.6%Two-Story Addition$152,470$99,67465.4%Change
$10,993$9,07282.5%Window Replacement (vinyl)$9,770$6,96171.2%Change
$12,036$10,66188.6%Window Replacement (wood)$10,708$7,85273.3%Change

Pacific — Upscale
2013 National Averages
Job CostResale ValueCost RecoupedProjectJob CostResale ValueCost RecoupedChange vs. 2011-12
$80,393$53,60066.7%Bathroom Addition$70,969$39,73056.0%Change
$55,410$38,70169.8%Bathroom Remodel$50,007$29,16258.3%Change
$39,434$26,50167.2%Deck Addition (composite)$34,403$20,53259.7%Change
$91,056$60,48166.4%Garage Addition$80,511$44,03454.7%Change
$2,930$2,67091.1%Garage Door Replacement$2,720$2,04675.2%Change
$7,507$5,94779.2%Grand Entrance (fiberglass)$7,088$4,52863.9%Change
$117,210$81,68169.7%Major Kitchen Remodel$107,406$64,11359.7%Change
$246,520$147,43359.8%Master Suite Addition$220,086$114,56952.1%Change
$41,997$26,16462.3%Roofing Replacement$33,880$19,19456.7%Change
$15,355$12,84083.6%Siding Replacement (fiber-cement)$13,083$10,37979.3%Change
$16,277$12,09874.3%Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl)$13,818$9,92671.8%Change
$14,119$11,56181.9%Window Replacement (vinyl)$13,055$9,29571.2%Change
$17,627$14,39181.6%Window Replacement (wood)$16,361$11,19468.4%Change