bookmark_borderRise and Fall of D.O.D.O., The

A Novel by Stephenson, Neal and Galland, Nicole

Anybody who knows me well enough to read this here blog knows that I enjoy reading books by Neal Stephenson. Some people, including people I otherwise respect, consider him to be long-winded and tiresome. “Long-winded” I cannot argue against, but I find him to be endlessly entertaining.

DODO is 742 pages of epistolary diachronical action. It is chock full of manuscripts, emails, journal entries, after action reports, radio transcripts, running around, helicopters, car chases through the streets of Boston, boat rides, sex scenes, battles, beer drinking, quantum physics, holiday parties, and team meetings.

It took me more than a month to grind through it all, but I enjoyed the whole thing.

bookmark_borderLantern Storage Box

I’ve only made three of these lanterns so far, but I intend to make six, so eventually I will need something to transport and store them all in, or they are going to get pretty beat up. So, another box.

Lantern Box, Closed

This was also yet another exercise in using up surplus materials from other projects. I wound up having to use a piece of MDF for the lid, because that was the biggest piece of anything I had left. The edges are off-cut from 2-by-4 lumber from when I was making pole by cutting square pieces from 2-by-4. It awfully satisfying to use up some of that stuff.

Lantern Box, Open

You can see that the extra height of the lid makes it easy to get the lanterns in and out of the box. There’s an extra half inch in each direction, so the lanterns fit snugly but not tightly.

The whole thing is finished on the outside with spar polyurethane, especially the MDF on the lid, to give it a little more water resistance than a cardboard box. I glued some blocks of wood to the bottom to serve as feet, so it won’t be resting entirely in any puddles.

Basically, the whole thing is constructed with glue and nails form the nail gun. The bottom is thicker plywood to make it bottom-heavy, and the rim on the body both supports the lid and reinforces the corners of the box. This is a design and method I’ve used before with some success.

A lot of the sizing of pieces can be done while you’re building. For instance, I make the body of the box, then I measure the outside of the top before cutting the pieces for the lid. That way the lid is sized to fit the actual box, and not just my best hope.

The whole thing is kind of rough, because it’s not supposed to be anything special. You can see in the photos that I didn’t even sand off the mill markings.

bookmark_borderHexagonal Propane Box

We have a small propane-fueled grill that spends all summer out on the patio. Eventually, we decided that it wasn’t super cool to have a tank of propane just sitting out in the rain and sun, so I decided to build a storage box.

6-sided 3-leggad Storage Box for a Propane Tank

The box is mostly made from exterior-grade 3/8″ plywood. It’s hexagonal, which is more work, but actually uses less wood. I’m especially happy that I was able to keep track of all the pieces and their orientation, so the face grain of the plywood flows around the corners nicely.

The floor and lid of the box are 3/4″ plywood for durability. The edges of the lid are made from pine 1-by-4. Once you have the blade angled over to cut the 30 degree angle for the sides, you can use that angle for the lid edges, too. The 3 legs are pieces of 2-by-4 cut into my standard karabitsu leg shape on the band saw.

There is a large hole cut in one side of the box for the propane hose to pass through. A couple of smaller pieces inside block most of the hole and secure it once the tank is in place.

Open box showing the hose arrrangement

There are also some hols drilled in the bottom to allow any leaked propane to escape. I glued some nylon mesh over the holes to keep bugs from crawling inside.

The whole thing is finished in heavy-duty oil-based polyurethane. I had though about painting the box, but after I saw how interesting the grain was, clear satin it was.

A little closer up

It will also come in handy in the winter. We can clean up the grill itself and store it in the garage, but you really should not bring propane tanks inside like that. With the polyurethane I used, this thing can probably just sit outside on the patio all winter.

bookmark_borderPiLC

Having worked in two different industries where proprietary, custom-built, custom-programmed, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) were the order of the day, it is difficult for me to describe how accurate the name “Revolution” is for this product line.

Revolution Pi

Industrial controls based on open hardware and free software really do have the potential to change entires industries. I mean, they probably won’t, but they could.