Travel Gaming

Posted in Gadgets, Games, Lifestyle, Travel with tags , , , , , on 08/24/2016 by Baghead Kelly

Travel Kit

 

  • Set of dice
  • Playing card deck
  • Notepad
  • Pencil

With a little knowledge these four simple items open up a world of games. Dice have been around for thousands of years whilst playing cards are only a mere eleven hundred years old. They have survived through to this modern era of computer games simply because we find them amusing. Beyond that we like them because of their social aspect. They make conversation easy.

If you take the time to learn some games or expand on the ones that you already know you will have a repertoire that you can pull out at any time. Missed your flight? Stuck in the emergency department? Not yet out on bail? Then perhaps a game of craps is in order or even strip poker. Maybe the grandkids are over and you can play Beetle or Old Maid. The choices are as many as you can memorize and teach.

The real trick here however, is in keeping it all compact. You can buy ‘Bridge’ sized playing cards which are generally a quarter of an inch smaller in width and die usually come in 10, 14 and 16mm sizes. The 10mm die are still a good size to play with, as are the ‘Bridge’ sized cards. Once you’ve sorted those items out and sized matched them with a pad and pencil you can start looking for a suitably sized tin or Tupperware container. Good luck with that.

My personal favorites dice games are ‘Pig’ and ‘Ship, Captain. Crew’ whilst I like Conquian and Euchre card games. I’m slowly learning new games and testing them out on my family; some work and some don’t. When they’ve had enough there is always time to fit in a couple of hands of ‘Solitaire’.

English Benchwarmer

Posted in Art, Carpentry, D.I.Y., Design, Home Renovations, Lifestyle with tags , , , on 08/05/2016 by Baghead Kelly

Bench Warmer

I have a materials rack in my workshop which was filled beyond capacity and so it was about time to use up some of my hoardings. Essentially I had a pine plank which was 2.4 meters long and some dunnage/bearers that I had scabbed from jobsite skip bins.

What do you do with a plank?……… well you make a bench of course!

Now I wanted to make a knockdown bench so I could pack it up if I had to. Thus I used two wedges to hold it all together ( 9° from plumb and 8mm thick, hardwood is advisable). No nails, or screws. I used ‘ Sketchup Make’ to draw up the plans above. The components are essentially;

  • the plank
  • the cross brace
  • The legs x 2
  • The wedges x 2

It was all fairly straight forward but the hardest part was manufacturing the two legs. The feet were made from two pieces of 90mm x 45mm stud glued together so I could band saw the ogee shape and cut the 10mm groove out of the bottom. Then the uprights had a mortise and tenon carved top and bottom to house the feet which were glued and the bench which is dry fitted. I was worried about the dry fitting at the plank end for stability but in retrospect the mortice and tenon works great. However if you lift the bench by the plank it will come off – you have to lift it by the mid rail, which I can do easily by myself. If you’re worried about this you might think about a dowel to pin it on or glue it permanently.

Benchwarmer combined

The other modification I would incorporate would be to shorten the plank to 1800mm to reduce the span. Due to the detail that I’ve drilled into the centre of the plank there is a weakness right in the middle. Now I can sit on ‘Ye Ole Benchwarmer’ with my wife and six foot four son no worries but I don’t think we would be doing it across an infinite abyss. Plus I like the little detail of a cross cut with a hole saw and routered with an ogee to fancy it up – a little design feature I nicked from a church pew. The cross brace was also chamfered with a router in the middle to add a little old world charm as were the uprights and feet.

This was a fun project and I use it to put my toolboxes on, which leaves them on a convenient height to rummage through. So if your interested in a plank with legs, I’d recommend making the two legs first, followed by the cross brace and  leaving the mortises in the plank till last.

Any queries, I’ll try to help.  Cheerio Ladies and Gents!

Bench Warmer 4 pos

 

 

My God I’m A Bird Spotter!

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on 04/11/2016 by Baghead Kelly

My Garden

One of my favourite movies is called “Birdy”, starring a very young, Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. It is the story of childhood friends of disparate backgrounds who go to Vietnam where the Nicolas Cage character is traumatized by his experiences and regresses to a near comatose state. Mathew Modine is brought in to coax Cage back into the real world using memories of their childhood. Directed by Alan Parker it is an unusual and powerful story. Anyway I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

The point of this reference is that from this movie I developed a love of birds and ornithopters. I have three cockateels as pets. I used to have zebra finches but they bred so profusely that I set them free. I wasn’t sure about this as I’d heard stories about tame birds not surviving in the real world. As a precaution I bought a chook feeder which I hung from a tree in my back yard and continued to feed my little buds. At first they would come every day, then it was once a week and sometimes they would disappear for awhile but always come back.

The seed I use now is a wild bird mix that contains different sized seed. Every weekend my wife and I would fill the feeder and first would come the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, the largest of the visitors, followed by the Galahs, the Rainbow Lorikeets, the Adelaide Rosella’s and finally my little marauding gang of Zebra Finches.

Essentially the larger birds eat the larger seeds until only the small seed is left for the small birds. Both a pecking order and a sorting process. Like myself the koala watches over the proceedings and we both think it is a hoot. Better than television.

Making A Roadcase

Posted in Carpentry, Design, Gadgets, Home Studio, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , , , on 03/24/2016 by Baghead Kelly

Road Case Blog

Roadcases are fun little projects to encase and protect your precious electronics. This is the second one that I’ve built and I’ve enjoyed both of those endeavours. My old one became superfluous after I blew up the amp (I have a habit of doing that) and as these projects are bespoke by nature, it was time to update.

I’ve had this Yamaha EMX 512SC for a few years now and I cannot speak more highly of it. It has a great sound with lots of bottom end when paired with my A15 speakers. The big surprise for me though was the cheap arsed Chinese DMX lighting controller that you see on the top. My lighting system consists of this unit and 10 x ADJ Mega Par Profile plus a couple of laser lights. DMX is 80’s technology which basically is a standard for lighting systems. I didn’t know much about it but today you can buy these units very cheaply from your electronics store and they are very versatile. Paired with DMX standard lighting you can change the colours, intensity, focus and direction of your lighting. It depends on the light what you can do with it but with the controller you can also program lighting shows to match a song or play.

Anyway these two units complemented each other perfectly and so it was a natural progression to pair them into one unit. This way I had only one power point to plug in plus two speaker cables and one DMX cable daisy chained to the lights. An easy set up.

I had to also include an electronic fan and venting to ensure that the P.A. was happy with access to the reset on the ELCB within the unit. It is quite heavy for the size of the unit and so I added the wheels. The trick with wheels is to have two fixed wheels and two lockable, swivel wheels to steer with. I incorporated a lockable drawer and a shelf to stash the microphones cables and torch.

I used ¾” construction ply for the construction which used to be 19mm but seems to have been downsized to 17mm these days. The last time I built one of these I added corner protectors which you can get in plastic or metal but this time I didn’t feel the need.

The last tip that I can impart on this project was that I got an RCA to 1/8” jack so that the kids could use the play lists on there cell phones and run them through the P.A. It worked a treat so long as they didn’t play around with the phones whilst songs were playing. You can get some pretty harsh sounds with any loose connections.

Party Lights

Making a Lagerphone

Posted in Carpentry, Design, Free, Gadgets, Home Studio, Humor, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , on 03/15/2016 by Baghead Kelly

 

I’d always harboured a desire to make a lagerphone and finally I’ve ticked it off of my bucket list. A lagerphone is essentially a tambourine type of instrument made from a broomstick and crown capped bottle tops. From the Idiophone family it is mainly used in folk music and is known by many names from many different cultures.

The first task was collecting the bottle tops, which required much merriment and the sampling of various types of lager which had different coloured bottle tops. I was clearly the right man for the job.

Another pre-requisite was my penchant for hoarding. During renovations I kept one of our old curtain rods, which was about an inch and a quarter diameter (32mm). It also featured a finial which with a nose added became the ‘Noddy’ head. In my research I discovered that it was commonplace to place a boot at the bottom to protect a venues flooring. It so happened that I’d kept one of my fifteen year old’s boots from when he was a toddler. Actually we kept all of them.

The next stage was punching holes in the bottle tops. For this task I used an off-cut from one of our veranda posts, which I had drawn diagonal lines from corner to corner and drilled a 5/16” (8mm) hole in the centre where the lines bisected. With a nail punch I could then line my bottle top up over the hole using the diagonal lines and with one tap I could punch a hole in the centre. The jig worked quite well although I had to manually pull off the bit off metal still left hanging.

Next I space out where I wanted the bottle tops which was basically a north/south/east/west pattern. I carefully drilled them and bought some screws with a clean shank to affix each set of twin bottle tops.

Additionally I placed a mint tin containing ball bearings into the boot which was simply screwed to the curtain rod between the tread of the boot. I used a bit of plumbing pipe insulation for the handle and the sock of the boot. Also on the large beer can at the top I placed a nut suspended from a bit of wire to act as a clapper.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the thought of terrorising my clan gatherings with my new lagerphone fills me with wicked glee. So if your interested in making a lagerphone here are a few name variations to Google as the various designs are as different and wild as your imagination.

a.k.a.

  • Boozaphone,
  • Mendoza/mendozer,
  • Monkey stick,
  • Murrumbidgee River Rattler
  • Teufelsgeige
  • Jingling Johnie
  • Stumpfidel
  • Ugly Stick

The Inheritance

Posted in Art, Carpentry, Design, Family, History, Home Renovations, Humor, Lifestyle with tags , on 02/10/2016 by Baghead Kelly

JKS Toolbox

A few years back my father gave me, my grandfather’s toolbox, as seen in the photo above. I was chuffed, it was full of tools both old and new. Indeed as a youngster I well remember the odd occasion whilst in my grandfather’s care we would ‘stooge about’ at his workbench. My favourite memory, is when he showed me how to make hot air balloons that floated up to the rafters in his loft. At other times we would make secret compartments in his house. He was big on secret compartments. One in particular I wondered if after he died whether anybody knew of its existence except me. I guess I’ll never know. Anyways my memories of this toolbox were fond ones and it reminds me of a time that was happy and carefree.

Still that was an era when my grandad owned the toolbox and now it belongs to me. The first act of sacrilege that I committed was when I removed the contemporary tools that were contained within and replaced them with the antique tools that I had collected over the years. All of a sudden, Voilá, it was transformed from a toolkit from a bygone era into a mini museum.

The second act of vandalism was when I decided to paint a mural on the front. I had the idea of painting an English pub type sign with sawyers in a sawpit. When I started searching for photographs to base my design, I came across, a book called; “The Book of Trades or Library of the Useful Arts” from 1805. Volume 1, page 68 contained a magnificent illustration of “A Sawyer”, which I duly lifted for my own purposes.

Interestingly enough, the said book was a vocational guide for young people to compare occupations and indeed such publications dated at least 200 years prior to this one. Reminding me of my recent encounter with my sons teachers who seem to want to pigeon hole him into some dead end career at the age of fifteen. The difference being at the earlier time 11 or 12 was probably more appropriate an age to begin your working life but I digress.

Having finished the mural I have concluded that I ain’t much of an artist but one day my son will inherit his great grandfathers toolbox and he will be free to do with it whatever takes his fancy. At this point however just trying to entice him from his virtual reality to stooge about with his Dad is proving to be a new challenge in itself.

Finnished

 

 

 

Thoroughly Modern Baghead

Posted in Lifestyle with tags on 03/15/2015 by Baghead Kelly

Jock Story

The Undies Story

When I was young so many years ago my beloved grandmother used to work in a local department store selling underpants. In those days the standard underwear for men and boys were colloquially called ‘blue ringers’, which were white ‘Y‘ fronted undies. The ‘blue ringers’ referred to the two stripes that encircled the elastic belt at the top. For me, having family connections in the underpants department meant that when ‘jocks’ came to my hometown, I was one of the first to receive the aforementioned apparel; a leopard skin print ala’ Johnny Weissmuller. I didn’t think much of the sartorial improvement foisted upon me until sports day when I was ridiculed by my male colleagues and later the whole school. Within a month of this embarrassing episode, attitudes had changed so much that if you were caught wearing the old style ‘blue ringers’ then you risked being a pariah of the school fraternity.

Your Father’s Wristwatch

Years later in my working life, I remember scoffing at the young men who entered the construction sites and who didn’t own a wrist watch but would offer the time via their cell phones. In this instance, I was the Philistine clinging to the old ways for it wasn’t long before I too was framing my day with the cell phone timekeeping method. Later I binned my watch collection because no-one wanted them and they were just taking up room, then a month later my sister gave me a watch for my birthday. Incidentally I am wearing that watch right now as I type.

Google Glass

In more recent times I’ve read about the ‘iPhone watch’ and ‘Google Glass’ and think to myself that I would never need such things because I’m too set in my ways. This is why advertising is directed to the 10 to 30 y.o. demographic. Personally I have an iPad and a smart phone but I still prefer my trusty old PC, because it has a proper keyboard, a nice big screen and I like using an old style mouse. For me the future is changing rapidly but I’m not a risk taker, I prefer other people to wear the fancy jocks and after its been filtered through society and given the thumbs up, then I’ll explore purchasing it.

iTunes

I do the same thing with music, although I like some contemporary music there is so much available that it is a waste of my time to troll through it to find music appealing to me. It is easier to go back in the decades and find music that has been filtered through the masses and declared quality by the charts or by the very fact that it is still available. I have a better strike rate at finding music that I like that way.

The Future Is A Funny Thing.

My beautiful Great Grandmother, ‘Alma’ died when I was 25 years old. She in turn was born in 1894 and in her time saw the advent of the motor car, flight, and man landing on the moon amongst many other technologies that we all take for granted today and everyday.

In my own time as it currently stands I’ve seen the advent of “jockettes”, microwaves, digital camera’s, ATM’s, GPS, Drones, Solar panels, PC’s, battery operated vacuum cleaners, electric toothbrushes and a myriad of other things too vast to mention. The list is seriously phenomenal. It’s like the rate of innovations and inventions are accelerating in a massive ever steepening curve upwards. When it seems like everything that you could possibly need has already been invented the boffins come up with something else you never knew you had to have.

Its hard to predict the future but as a spectator I can only say that I’m enjoying a front row seat and who knows, maybe someday soon I will be walking around with my new glasses, talking to myself but that would be nothing new.

Harmonica for Health

Posted in Lifestyle, Music with tags on 03/13/2015 by Baghead Kelly

Caught this at The New York Harmonica School page.

Harmonica for Health.

The Ships Clock

Posted in Gadgets, History, Maritime with tags , , , , on 06/16/2013 by Baghead Kelly

Ships Bells 2
When I first got married I bought an antique, ships clock and barometer. At the time my wife thought that it was too expensive but these days she lovingly and dutifully winds it each Sunday and takes it to the watchmaker when it runs awry. The clock features the eight bell system in homage to days of yore when a ships crew would take turns manning the ship 24/7. The term ‘watch’ refers to these shifts and is perhaps a little overused these days by our dullard politician’s who like to bandy the ‘not on my watch’ cliché.

There were many variations of this set up but essentially if a large crew were divided into three then each crew would work on a four hours on and eight hours off rotation. That is an attractive proposition to someone like myself who has been working night shift until my skin has turned a glowing alabaster.

When the bell tolled eight bells it marked the end of one crews watch and the beginning of another’s. The bell tolled every half hour with an odd number of bells and tolled on the hour an even number of bells. Note the table above only shows twelve hours and is repeated to make up the twenty four hours.

The Return Of Vinyl Records

Posted in Gadgets, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , , on 06/03/2013 by Baghead Kelly

Vinyl blog

My grandfather gave me a reel to reel tape recorder when I was around eight or nine years old. It wasn’t one of those fancy home studio kind of arrangements it was small and had little three inch reels that you would have to thread through like a sewing machine. I loved it to death and I would listen to the radio and try and record songs without the DJ talking over the top. That tape player was the beginning of my lifelong love of music and general musical geekery.

I also had a little portable record player with a speaker in the lid that I would play my 45rpm records on. Later on my father got a real stereo and I started collecting 33rpm records. The records were appealing not only because of the music but also for the artwork and literature displayed on their covers. They were tactile objet d’art that you could read whilst you listened to the record itself.

Alas records gave way to CD’s and the digital revolution. Digital laser technology promised an end to the snap, crackle and pop of vinyl records. It promised a purer sound experience and I fell for it hook line and sinker. I was an early adopter and when I bought my Phillips player there was only a choice of 10 CD’s to choose from. I still am a true believer in CD’s but in the department of album art they were a retrograde step. The second evolution of the digital age the MP3/Wav era has reduced album art to a mere thumbnail.

Lately I have realised that something was missing in my audiophile world. I missed records. I missed the albums and I missed marvelling at the wonderful engineering of a good record player. It was like the difference between having a solitary cuppa with a tea bag and the ritual of sharing a pot of tea with good friends.

This whole mid life crisis event came about when a record store opened in a nearby town. In an earlier life I had harboured a desire to open a record store in that very same town but wisely declined when another one went bust nearby. So with a vested interest I watched closely as the little record store prospered and eventually I was seduced back into the allure of all things vinyl. I went and purchased a turntable and once a week I trot off down to our new record store and buy an album. It has become my Saturday night highlight.

The little record store owner and I have developed a friendly rapport but I have noticed that the price of Jimi Hendrix records have increased now that I have been identified as a fan. I think the proprietor sees me as a new revenue stream. Not to be deterred I have widened my net and discovered a whole new underground of vinyl enthusiasts that I didn’t know existed. Although not a purist I am looking forward to my first vinyl fair to hopefully track down some old favourites. It’s the thrill of the hunt especially when I find a gem from my old record collection. You see there certainly is an element of nostalgia not only in the process of playing records but also because I am essentially recreating my old record collection. One that I foolishly gave away many years ago. This time around though I am being very selective of which records are worthy of my collection because I believe that playing music on a record player is special. Like bringing out the fine china. These days I even like the snap crackle and pop.