Day 1!!
Welcome to the 2019 Glacier National Park trip! In 2017 we made the ambitious trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park and I did a terrible job documenting it. To be fair it was the first big trip in the van as I was stressed out!
This time is different! We have even more upgrades to the van and she is running like a top.

The trip started with Kate and jumping in the van at 6am on Saturday 8/3/19 to make our way to Defiance Ohio. For those of you that are on your game, you will notice that that date is Kates birthday. What better gift could one ask for than setting off on a monster adventure across the country!
We arrived in Defiance ay about 4:15pm that day with enough time to have a little birthday party and open some gifts. My parents were nice enough to prepare a little birthday jam. With a Mexican (build that wall) casserole and a beautiful Bert and Ernie cake to match the one, Kate had on her 3rd birthday.
It was a great (although short) visit. I borrowed my dads GoPro so maybe we’ll have some good video of our trip.

This was our lunch stop in Clarion PA : Pretty good,rough looking establishment.

We are 1 week away from the big trip! (I know there is a BNL joke there, but it’s early and “It’s been” a hot weekend!

In preparation for the trip Kate and I spent the weekend preparing. I installed the vent fan I posted about last week. That sucker was a monster to print! It was so big I had to break it into 5 pieces. Each piece took between 10 and 15 hours to complete. In the rush to complete I didn’t prototype it as much as I would have liked. This resulted in much cutting and shaving that needed to be done. Once I got it home and started putting it together. It took me the better part of the day Saturday to get it fitted right. Here are some photos pre fit and inplace.

Sunday we went to REI, Dicks Sporting Goods, and Home Depot. We picked up some last minute stuff at REI like hiking pants, camping utensils, and camping towels. At Dicks we got new baseball mits. Kate has been wanting a mit for a while now and I was still using the one I had when I was 15 so we thought “hey why not!”. Then at Home Depot I found the supplies I needed to finish the electrical install for the fan. I made a quick video for that. Check it out below.

So now it’s the final countdown! We leave early in the morning on Saturday! First stop is Defiance Ohio. Its about a 9 hour drive. The van is running strong, Kate and I are always alittle nervous as it is our way. We know this is a grand adventure, full of stories and excitment.

It was a weekend at home.

Last Thursday night while getting off the train, Kate clipped her big toe on the heavy steel door on one of the old NJT trains. Needless to say it was pretty rough. She’s ok but she’s doing to be limping around for a week or so while it heals up.

We had plans to go kayaking again, this time in a river. Although with a busted toe that felt like a bad idea. Instead we spent the day working on projects.

1. The water sensor Jon and I have been working on for my dehumidifier in the garage.

So a few weeks ago I posted some images of an ugly housing I made for the water tank sensor Jon built and programed for me. Last week I printed it out. Although ugly all the little snaps and fixtures to hold the electric parts worked perfect. I got it all set up in the tank and so far it works great! Big thanks to. Jon for doing the hard part of this project.

This is the Push Alert I get on my phone when the tank is full! There is also an alert for when the battery runs low.

2. A vent fan for the van that goes in the skylight window. As well as final designs for the window crank.

I spent far too much time working on this vent fan. First, I wanted it to be solar powered so it could be self sustaining. That didn’t work. Then I found some videos of people using radiator fans to make these types of vent fans. The cool think about these fans is the little controller you can add to it. It’s this little PWM unit that also has a 3 way switch that provides a pull rotation- a push rotation and a off position. This all made the encloser I need to build more complicated. It’s very large. I will need to print it in a total of 5 parts on the 3d printer. It should print quickly as it’s pretty thin wall. In the end I had 2 designs. The first desight ended up being too darn complicated visually so I scraped it in favored of something a little simpler.

Design 1: not moving forward

Design 2: Printing

For context, this is where the fan goes.

Window Crank, this is a short update. I’ve been working on this on and off for at least a year. I didn’t want to use any other parts so the entire solution is 3d printed. I made a couple of errors on this last build, but I think I have it all sorted now! You can see below how the new nob works. Simply cut in half and super glued together.

Kayaking! As you may know Kate and I have a rad ass inflatable kayak….. That we have used a total of 4-5 times. In an effort to drive that number higher we have been putting in some effort to find camping spots near lakes or rivers. Because the kayak requires us to inflate it it’s best to have a campsite to get that all done. As well as a place to let things dry out after.
This weekend we went to Swartswood State Park only an hour drive from our house. I made the reservation the Monday prior and some how we got a great spot super close to the lake. The lake was a decent size and has both a small beach and a restaurant on it. We arrived at noon on Saturday and wasted no time getting out on the water. I recently install an air pump in the van so it would be a bit quicker and easier to inflate the kayak. This was the first real test and it was ok. There are some weird things about the pump I don’t like but for the most part it does the job.

That said we got the sucker inflated and spent the afternoon paddling around the lake. We paddeled over to this little restaurant called the Boat House and had a few drinks, making the paddeled back to the campsite that much better.The boat launch at the campsite made for a lovely clearing in the trees so we took our camp chairs down to watch the sun set on the dock. Then made some burgers on the campfire and went to bed.
To my surprise the next morning Kate was eager to get back out in the kayak for a morning paddle around the lake. Hitting the corners we missed the day prior. We did a full lap around the lake and decided it best to head out for some lunch and then the short drive home.All in all a great campsite and a great weekend! We did miss buttfuzz, but we have all 14 months of winter to stay inside with her.

Well I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. We did. We went out to our friend Megan’s parents house to have and epic 2.5 day pool party. Megan was kind enough to host about 12 of us for a great time swimming, grilling out and generally being hoolagans. We drove the van out see it parked in the back yard below.

As I mentioned we drove the van out. Thus is was a great opportunity to try out the air-conditioner I built. It worked great! For 15 minutes….. I just put store bought ice in it so it melted super quick. My hope is that I can figure out where to buy a block of solid ice, as that should last a bit longer. See Kate being a good sport below… Sorry Kate.

On Sunday we went to brunch with our old friends Phil and Leena as well as there 2 children. It was great to get in a quick visit. Glad we could make it work. We met in Dumbo Brooklyn, so Kate and I reduced to make a day of it and go to “Beyond the Streets”. My favorite part was the Beastie Boys portion. There as an entire room with some of the greatest Beastie Boys memorabilia I’ve ever seen. It was great.

Lastly Jon and I put in a little more time on the water sensor I posted a few weeks ago on. We changed the switch to be a floating switch. We also changed the notifications to go through Push Bullet instead of ifttt. We are soooooo close to getting it right! I now need to do a bit of re-wiring and print out the housing and we are on to the next project!

What a surprise! The great Ian Swanson, of the Swanson’s of Australia visited us for a grand total of 12 hours last Friday. We haven’t seen Ian in like 6 years and it was great to have a moment to visit. We went to dinner in the city, then back to West Orange for a quick hangout on the porch.

I also had a little time this weekend to put together an emergency air-conditioner for the van. After last year’s heat disaster driving back from New Hampshire. I did a little research on what to do. I decided to build mine using a paper pulp cooler and a computer fan. The idea is pretty simple. Using a cooler filled with ice and fan blowing air over it you get air-conditioning. The computer fan is both small and easy to power over USB. I went to Home Depot and for the first time in my life found all the parts I needed. All in all here is the part list.

  1. Fan
  2. USB to 3 pin connector
  3. Cooler
  4. PVC 4in pipe connector (safety)
  5. Chicken wire mesh (safety)
  6. 3 in aluminum air conduit

fits perfectly between the front seats!

Last weekend was a big one! My brother Dr. John Diehl got married in Hilton Head SC. It was a hot one! We got to see some of my family including avid dport7 reader Krissy. It was certainly great to see everyone. We had a special bonus of going to Savannah for a day and a half. Which for Kate and I was really fun. We stayed the first night along with my parents at the Elisia Thomas house on Jones St.

Then on Sunday we stayed at the new hotel Perry Lane which was truly a delight. One of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed.

Savannah was fun, got to see our old friend Joel which 2as a hoot. Joel is one funny dude.

Things got a little rough

Have you ever been to Surf City. Surf City NJ? Well I have, that’s where I was last weekend. In a strange turn of events we went for our friend’s birthday. Although he failed to show up, so it was just a group hang in a little beach house and plenty of sand and surf.

I don’t have any particular event or story to discuss. We just had a nice time. No drama, no injuries, no disasters. Oh wait, one stand out moment was our friend Elaine who is just back from Australia was there and she brought one of her famous power hour videos. The power hour is a video that is 1 hour long. Based on a theme Elaine selects 1 minute music video clips and mixes them together. She is masterful at it and it is truly a delight.

Oh, and I had the best crabcake sandwich of my life! So good infact that I felt guilty for eating it. It felt as if I didn’t deserve this level of crab cake. I am just a common man, and this was a crab cake for Kings! You can get one to at Ship Bottom Shell Fish in Surf City NJ.

Pics below

this was the house

Hello, last weekend was Memorial Day. Kate and I took the van to Pennsylvania to the Frank Lloyd Wright, Falling water house. Kate had never been and I enjoyed it so much when I went in 2017 that I wanted to go back with her. They don’t let you take pictures inside which is kind of a boner. Our tour guide was a robotic turd in her 20’s. On her very best day she’s a shitty tour guide and we didn’t catch her at her best. That said it dosent really matter the house is truly astonishing and I very much recommended it.

We stayed at Ohiopyle State park on Friday night. We got up on Saturday and went for a hike to find the cool ass water falls in the area. It was great!

We went on the Maryland to do some Kayaking for Sunday and Monday. Sadly I was pretty sick, coughing all night and keeping myself and Kate from sleeping. We decided to the just do the beach Sunday and drive home in the evening to avoid the Holiday traffic on I95 on Monday morning.

We found this little beach at Elk Neck State Park. It’s not a destination by any means but it did the job for getting some sun and putting our feet in the water.

So, the van. I had the new engine kit put on to make things a bit more reliable. To that end I think it is. It may need a bit more tunning as the idle is a bit jumpy but all in all it’s good. It may be wishful thinking on my end but there might even be a bit more power in 4th gear now.

I was flying solo this weekend gang. You know what that means!? Time to get my nerd on… As many of you may know I come from an era where being a nerd was not acceptable. Thus I do my best to hid my nerdy ways. Although I may be fooling myself in thinking it’s hidden.

Kate and her mom went to Pittsburgh to see the great singer,actor,writer,performer Garth Brooks/Chris Gains. That left me some time to build a computer, and oh what a time it was.

6 months ago I ordered a computer case from the start up company Louqe. It’s a high quality ITX (mini) case. I was excited about the build quality and small foot print. Sadly the company is at best irresponsible and never sent me my case. There is a list of endless excuses why, but who cares.

On Saturday I couldn’t take it anymore. Back in March Louqe sent me an email that the case was on it’s way. I was excited and ordered all the parts to build the computer. Processor, Motherboard, Ram etc. The case never showed and I had all these parts just sitting in my office ageing not being used. I was struggling to use my old iMac while all this power sat on the floor.

I went and bought the NZXT H200i case over at Micro Center in Paterson NJ. I got it on clearance so it was a good price. I started tinkering with it on Saturday night and got it to the point where it would turn on. On Sunday morning I booted it up, installed Windows and felt pretty good. The last step was to put in the graphics card. This is where things take a turn. Some of the wiring was tough to snake through the case and didn’t have enough slack to easily connect to the Motherboard and the Power Supply. When pushing the Graphics Card into place I applied too much pressure and the cables damaged the Motherboard, breaking it! This ment I had to run back out to Micro Center and buy a new board. Not cheap but not an total disaster.

After spending a few hours at Micro Center getting the Power Supply checked and picking up a new Motherboard and cable extenders I was on my way back home to know disasemble everything again. I knew what I was doing and had the entire thing put back together in an hour and a half. I was excited to turn it on and when I did it just clicked. I was heart broken. At that point I had to take a break. I had a beer, talked to Kate on the phone a little. When I went back to it I noticed that I had the secondary power connection plugged into the wrong section on the power supply. I changed that out and BAM it worked!

Everything is installed now and working well. Hooray! See pictures below.

It was a great experience, and I’ll probably do it again in the future. I like being able to control what I’m getting. Apple just cost too much for shit graphic card support.