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March 27, 2007

Noah's Quote of the Day

Steph took Noah shopping for some new Easter clothes yesterday (because he has outgrown everything!), and I guess he quite enjoyed it. He was checking himself out in the mirror, and was quite hacked off when he couldn't bring home all the clothes that he had tried on.

When I got home from work, Steph asked him if he wanted to go shopping with his Papa to find a Mother's Day present for her. He replied, "Yeah, and I will get you something very special....... SHOES!" :-D

March 24, 2007

Stereo System for Noah


What do you do when greeted with rain on a Saturday morning? That's right, you tinker in the garage.

Todays project was one I had been contemplating for some time... ever since this box of 22 little speakers (known as NSB's, short for No Stinking Badges) mistakenly landed on my doorstep. Noah has been asking for a stereo in his room, and I was just dying to build him some little speakers to go along with my old Denon 2-channel receiver and single disc CD player.

I had considered also using some larger speakers to fill in the low-end, but in the end I opted to run a pair of NSB's per side... a sort of 'mini-array'. I didn't have the crossover parts on hand to get a good match between the drivers, and I didn't want that large of a cabinet sitting on the dresser. I decided that I can always add a little sub later if he starts asking for more bass.

I measured the drivers with my Woofer Tester, and then modeled response in BassBox (a computer program that models frequency response). I decided on a small .08 ft^3 cabinet stuffed with poly-fill... frequency response graphs show a couple dB bump right around 200 Hz, and then rolling off rapidly below that. The very low inductance made for a nice model on the upper end of things... showing usable response well out to 5 Khz+ (still, these were just models, and I was a little skeptical of the upper end response).

The actual exterior cabinet dimensions are 10.25"H x 5.5"W x 5"D. My total cost for the project: $0.00. The box is built from scraps. The speaker wire was leftover from a project last summer (a customer paid for it). Polyfill and screws are from other projects.

A close up of the NSB 'mini-arrays'.

We plan to fill screw holes and paint the cabinets eventually, but I wanted to make sure they sounded OK before I went to all that trouble. I will let Noah choose the paint color. :-)

Noah had to listen to one of his CD's at first, but then it was time for me to try some of mine. I popped in my Pat Coil CD to do a quick test and was very pleasantly surprised. I was afraid that the bump @ ~200 Hz was going to cause problems, but I really can't say that I noticed it. The rapid rolloff below that point was very much evident, though. I was most impressed with the upper end extension of these little guys... I'd easily surpasses the performance of the *cough*BOSE*cough* (audio 4-letter-word) Twiddlers. Cymbals were crisp and the overall image was actually very good. The midrange seemed to get a little overwhelmed with complex passages, but I won't really complain considering the cost.

It was a fun little project... and it was especially fun having Noah out there 'helping' me. :-) And he couldn't be happier with his new stereo...

Noah's stereo.

March 19, 2007

What's On Your Workbench?

Rich's entry about his gorgeous new workbench (Part 1 & Part 2) gave me an idea for a new entry of my own... workbenches.

I built my workbench about ten years ago, using mostly scraps left over from our backyard fence. The corner and intermediate posts are pressure treated 4x4's, and the cross-braces are all 2x4's (if we ever have an earthquake I'm ducking under the workbench!). The shelves and the first top layer are all 3/4" plywood, and the overhung top is 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF) -- I overhung the MDF edge about an inch and a half in case I need to clamp anything to it.

Above the workbench, I put up pegboard and hooks, a shelf, a parts organizer, and a few ugly but cheap cabinets. I also had some dedicated electrical outlets installed just above the work surface -- I need enough juice to run a computer, test equipment, and audio gear; all at the same time.

While Rich's bench is both beautiful and functional, mine tends to be more one dimensional, and I don't mean on the side of beauty...

My work bench in its natural state.

So what is on my workbench? Well, besides a lot of clutter, you will find a lot of audio gear and test equipment -- a computer, a 12V power supply, a fully operational workbench audio system (consisting mainly of older car audio equipment), raw speaker drivers, a few CD's, a cordless drill and charger, and various other random tools that I may have been using for recent projects.

During the winter months, the workbench often becomes a catch-all for whatever Steph doesn't want in the house. Since my garage is neither heated nor insulated, this usually isn't a problem... but once spring rolls around, it's time to make it functional again.

Rich's workbench has several features that I think would be very handy... I could list them, but if you just follow the 'Part 2' link above, he pretty much points them out.

My friend Roger built a nice workbench a few years back as well. He incorporated a lower height section of bench surface for working on taller projects... and it serves as a work station for the kids. I wish I had something like that for Noah, but for now, he just uses my Stanley Folding Workbench and stands on a step-stool.

So, what's on your workbench?

March 12, 2007

Beast of a BBQ


My BBQ grill has served me well for almost 10 years now, but I'm afraid it's on its last legs.

Before we had a backyard garden shed, we used to leave the grill covered on the back patio. Occasionally, when the wind would blow, it would work its way to the edge of the patio and keel over... and eventually the handle just completely broke off. Luckily one of the bolt holes kept from breaking out, so I was able to attach a vice-grip to use as a handle.

Last summer, we transported the grill out to the box factory for a family BBQ. On the trip home, one of the cross-members (where we had attached a tie-strap) broke apart from the rest of the grill... which caused the grill surface to lean at a ~10 degree angle. Rather than abandon my trusty grill, I simply drilled holes in the tube frame and ran some lag screws into the detached cross-member. It's a little rickety, but it holds together and keeps the grill horizontal.

I got the grill out of the shed over the weekend and gave it a spring cleaning. I burned off all the junk that grows over the winter, and I gave the cast-iron grilling grates a good scrubbing. Now I just need to season the grates and she should be good for one more grilling season... I hope.

I've had my eyes on a new grill for several years now, but until this one finally gives up completely, I ain't spending a dime on a new one. And when I do replace this one, I plan to spend enough to get decent quality... and I pretty much have it narrowed down to two choices. Do I go with a Weber Gas Grill, or do I go all out and just get a Traeger? I just don't know...

March 8, 2007

Whose Birthday Is It?

Can you guess who just turned another year older? Isn't she cute? ;-)


March 5, 2007

Emily's Birthday Party

I did not manage to get any good photos from Emily's 1st birthday party, but my mom did. If you would like to see the photos, please click on the following link: Suzanne R's Life

"What a pretty light... I think I'll try to touch it."

March 2, 2007

Noah's Quote of the Day

'Excuse me' means 'Get out of my way!' in Spanish.