The Fallacy of Certainty

I’m turning my van into a stealth camper and mobile office. Once it’s done, I can live and work anywhere super cheap!

The Good News: This $400 device that will let me use 120V appliances in my RV works!
The Bad News: I took the entire fucking thing apart thinking it was broken when it wasn’t.

How do I wire the van? I must measure each appliance, including the power lost converting 12V DC of my batteries to 120V AC. That’s where this beast comes in.


Xantrex ProWatt 2000 Pure Sine Wave Inverter, Mistaken Idiot’s View

I accidentally touched the case (-12V) when screwing on the power cable (12V). *zzzZZZZAP!*

When I hit the power button, it would just beep fitfully like a sad R2D2. The display showed nothing. Without it, I can’t use my water heater, coffee maker or microwave, or order any cable to continue the project.

The manual said “qualified technician only.” I reached for the screwdriver.

Thirty screws later, nothing seemed broken. It still just beeped sadly. But then, in a fit of inspiration/serendipity, I *held in* the button for two or three seconds. *BEEP*! It came on!

I’m fairly certain I never tried that the first time. I *assumed* that because I had made the Big Spark and it wasn’t coming on, it was broken.


Good thing I live cheaply in a yurt and have no mortgage or debt! These kind of delays are part of the process. If I have to fix the inverter later, I’ll know how to take it apart.

After a painful re-assembly that I had to restart several times, it’s back together and inverting happily!

Next I need to install my battery flow meter (Tri-Metric 2030RV) to measure how much power each appliance uses, then see what wires will be required to keep all the power flowing in a worst-case scenario. I’ll cover that next.

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Spring Has Gesprunged!

Check out Lee’s fabulous row garden! He’s got lettuce, onions, garlic, cilantro, chard, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and a few more I’ve forgotten. I help a bit with maintenance, and we’ve reached the “too many greens to eat!” phase already.


Tyler learned how to butcher a hog today, too. Sorry, no pictures. 🙂 He’s gonna smoke and cure some meat also.

We’re not ready for the zombie apocalypse yet, but we’re headed in the right direction.

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Thrift Store Scores: Let There Be Light!

I save money and reduce my carbon footprint by buying as much of my stuff as possible second hand.

White Intertek Clamp Lamp $3.99
Stainless Translucent-Shade Clamp Lamp $4.99
Stainless Intertek Clamp Lamp, $3.99


These are great for task lighting in the yurt! Frequently these come with bulbs already installed. Sometime from other lamps. 🙂

I generally use low-temperature LED bulbs unless I need to dim. The extras will probably go into the woodshop.

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Thrift Store Scores: Blowing Glass Edition

A major way I save money, help the disadvantaged, and keep things out of the landfill is thifting! Look what I scored while waiting for Junior’s 2017 inspection today!

Nutless First Act Ukulele $4.99

Ryobi 18V fan, runs from the same 18V Ryobi batteries my tools use, $6.99

Round Kitchen Jar, $1.98

Square Kitchen Jar, $1.98

Google Cardboard-style VR Head Mount $2.98

Six ft. HDMI cable, $3.99



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Despite losing a critical Rock crewmember *just* before my first attack on the Rebel Flagship, I won with TWO WHOLE HIT POINTS TO SPARE!





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Plugging the Insectoid Firehose

The Spring Insect Explosion here in Austin has been flooding past the tiny gaps in my roof ring bug screen as though pouring from a fire hose. Excited, horny bugs you would never guess could fit through such tiny holes were draining the batteries in my zap racket at an alarming rate, and it was hard to sleep with the random drunken buzzing and scratching of June Bugs in May.

The problem is that it’s very hard to cut a perfect circle with a jigsaw by hand, which left small gaps between the edge of the screen and the roof ring. I needed to close that gap!


This is how I draw circles, very useful in yurt engineering! Screw down a stick at the center of the circle in the right place, then drill a pencil hole where the outside edge will be. Insert a pencil and trace away. A perfect, precise circle ready to be cut!


The solution had to be able to fit through the roof hole easily, and be removable when needed. I decided to cut two half-circles out of very thin plywood that would match the roof ring. The final result would be a circle that covered the gap between the screen and the ring, and it worked perfectly.



I was going to tack it down, but it turns out the tension of the crown is more than enough to hold it in place. You can see there are some very small gaps at the place where the two half-rings come together, but I don’t think they’ll cause a problem. If they do, I might add some kind of hinge.

It works! Last night I had way fewer bugs despite having the lights on until about midnight.


Soon I’ll be posting about another roof-ring upgrade, an adjustable set of louvers to make it easy to change airflow!

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Tieing Roses to the Japanese

This gorgeous new installation was officially opened at the Zilker Botanical Gardens this weekend at the Zilker Garden Festival!


It was created by David Mahler and team of Environmental Survey Consulting, the company my friend and farm-mate Lee works for. I felt proud to be even loosely associated with the group! It ties the zen water quality of the Taniguchi Japanese Garden upstream to the more formal and Western Rose Garden downstream.

David Mahler, 2nd from Right, points at things

Despite having worked on site at the project, Lee had never seen much of the rest of the park, so I took him on a sadly high-speed tour of the unseen bits.

I’m happy to live in a city that prioritizes beautiful public spaces like this one!


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