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Hummingbirds
outdoors : by Tommy - March 12th 2008, 02:48PM
outdoors
It's 2008 Hummingbird season. Depending on where you live you can expect the influx of hummingbirds in your vicinity very soon. Being in northeast Texas, I anticipate that I'll have them here sometime within the next 2 days.

My feeders are ready to go. I dug them out, cleaned them up and checked their hanging hooks. I mixed up a batch of hummingbird nectar (see below) and filled one feeder up. The others will come out after I see the first hummers here. Walmart has some great wide-mouth feeders for less than $4 that are super easy to clean and plenty of feeder holes. If you have a window that's easy to get to, why not put up a hummingbird feeder. They're one of the best forms of entertainment while sitting outside doing nothing. The little birds will dive-bomb each other and dog-fight all around you trying to protect their precious sugar water.

Hummingbird nectar recipe
1c table sugar (don't use honey or any other sugar)
4c tap water (nothing special here)

You can make more, just keep the 1:4 ratio. Stir the sugar until it dissolves in the water. Don't use red food coloring - it isn't needed and can be bad for the birds. You don't have to boil it either. If you do, just remember not to put boiling hot water in your feeder! Store any leftover nectar in a 2 liter bottle in the fridge until needed. Check your feeder every few days for any signs of contamination (bacteria and mold love sugar water). If it is dirty, empty the feeder rinse it out (don't use soap!) and refill.

To find out when hummingbirds will be in your neck of the woods, check out this cool migration map (if you're out west, you get birds too), and here's a some video of hummingbirds from YouTube.

Continue reading...

( Comments : 7 | Full article )

 
Spirit of Knoxville IV Balloon
radio : by Tommy - March 11th 2008, 11:55AM
radio
The University of Tennessee Amateur Radio Club (UTARC) has launched their latest balloon "The Spirit of Knoxville IV". It took flight late last night on its voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, into Europe, via the swift moving winds of the jet stream.

The team put a computer and GPS on board to transmit the balloon's location and altitude via ham radio. The data stream is sent out via RTTY and CW at ~10.146 MHz. The data is displayed in rather raw format here and in a more presentable flash-based "dashboard" which features a Google Maps fix on the balloon's last reported location.

Quite a few people are monitoring the balloon so the site is a bit slow to load, but to track the little autonomous balloon is pretty neat. Right now, as I write this, it's zipping along at 111mph @ almost 40,000ft out over the Atlantic.

update: The balloon fell short of its European goal. The payload splashed down about 2:00pm CST, 425 miles southwest of County Cork, Ireland. The balloon began losing altitude the night before and never full recoverd. The decent was partly caused by the loss of sunlight heating the gas in the balloon and/or icing on the surface of the balloon. "Grams will make/break you in this business," one UTARC member said. The balloon's exact location was unkown as radio contact was lost at about 1:51pm CST. Better luck next time guys!

tags: balloon ham_radio

( Comments : 1 | Full article )

 
Image Uploads
neodux : by Tommy - March 10th 2008, 01:49AM
neodux
I've finally grown tired of having to upload images to other hosting services such as ImageShack and hotlink them in my own blog posts. I finally decided to do something about it and create an image upload feature when creating posts.

At this time you can only upload one image only when creating an entry. (You can't go back to edit an image and upload) I'll go ahead and stress the point that this is only temporary.
I'd like to have the ability to better control images that have been uploaded, upload (and display) multiple images, and remove images associated with blog entries (such as the butterfly image displayed here).

So there ya go, one more feature that will be little-used and few will care about, but I can finally say I've mastered PHP file uploads.

tags: neodux features

( Comments : 0 | Full article )

 
Ultra-Light Alcohol Stove
outdoors : by Tommy - March 8th 2008, 01:55PM
outdoors
While looking at various camping stoves, like the MSR WhisperLite and Pocket Rocket, I came across the old alcohol stove design. I was curious how they worked and found several howto videos on making your own alcohol stove.

Of all the videos I found this one was probably my favorite. I was able to track down some Bud Light in aluminum bottles. It's not Shiner, but it's not the beer I want - it's the containers.

I followed Russell's howto video and was able to hack apart a bottle and assemble it into a modest imitation. It wasn't the most sound design, so I made another. The second stove turned out better than the first and I was actually able to boil a standard sized pot of water!

Pics are forthcoming.

update: From the moment I lit the stove, it took 10 minutes to boil 2-1/2 cups of water (what my dehydrated meal calls for). Not too shabby.

tags: camping stove efficient

( Comments : 4 | Full article )

 
Permissions Boost
neodux : by Tommy - February 28th 2008, 09:20PM
neodux
In hopes of encouraging more posting and feedback, I've bumped everyone's permissions to add/edit posts on neodux.

Almost all of you should be able to create your own entry on neodux if you wish. Just make sure it's not flat out retarded and of some substance to at least a couple of people other than yourself. If you're having problems posting, let me know by leaving a comment on this post.

A few notes on creating a post:
  • Entries are essentially raw HTML, format accordingly.
  • Use inline links to relevant information
  • Check the post's spelling and grammar, please.
  • Chose the most approprate category.
  • ( Comments : 0 | Full article )

     
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