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diy solar

What was your most interesting recent non solar project?

JJJJ

Aspiring apprentice
Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
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Wasn't sure where to place this. We all have a strong interest in solar and countless threads are written on the topic.

I was curious what other interests and projects others have worked on that they found interesting. Recently I found myself learning the details of a modern hot water heater. Two days I could barely explain what a thermocouple was. Since then, with the failure of our hot water heater I was given a choice. Try to find a repair person I could afford on a holiday or learn as much as I could in hopes of strapping together a basic repair. It is amazing how beneficial Youtube videos can be. Terms such as thermal switch, control board for a gas valve, multimeter values for a thermopile, the amazing simplicity of a pizoelectric igniter, clearing a pilot line, etc are easier to understand. Fortunately with some basic housekeeping the family again has hot water because the tank and lines were intact. I feel fortunate to have stood on the shoulders of others in this effort. I am also grateful to this forum because I have learned so much from the patient teaching of others. I am sure this in no small way helped me find the courage to attempt this project.

So I am curious. Is there a non solar project you found interesting that you are willing to share?
 
Nice thread idea! I get a lot of satisfaction from fixing anything that is broken, rather than having to buy new. Usually those things are electronic or electrical that I fix for myself, family or friends as that's my background.

But I was very proud when I successfully replaced a bearing on my tractor last year (y)
 
Well, ive been everywhere man... i own the domain name yourmrfixit.com... because, so far, ive not been stumped.
I am always learning things.

One of my sprinter vans started complaining about traction control and the steering wheel needed to be held to the left to keep straight on the road, so i scheduled an alignment visit, waited two hours for them to fix the issue... they charged me the 60, printed a nice report that confused the techs, and gave me back the van...
They couldnt understand why my van wasnt right.

They made a big list of things they said needed to be replaced, quoted 3500 to fix everything, and i took my van back...

I could tell from the readout that my rear track was off kilter...
Did a little digging on the sprinter forum and found the axle is prone to slide around the spring mount sometimes...
Got under there, and there was a big rust spot behind the axle...

So i loosened the shakle bolts, wrapped a ratchet strap around the tube, and pulled it back until the rust was covered...
Tightened down the bolts, and my van is back to normal again...

It still creeps forward occasionally, but it is a 5 minute chore to fix, so i just deal with it at oil change time...
 
I DIY repair anything I can because it costs too darn much to pay someone else all the time. And I learn along the way.

Like, I really do not want to know what it would have cost me to fix this. Leaked right around the window frame and rotted the mess.

1710786183962.png

Resulted in gutting the wall and framing. Note the only thing I've ever done with a window before was to open or close it and here I am literally ripping a giant hole in my house. At 3 PM I'm staring at it thinking I'm utterly insane, how am I going to get it back together...?

1710786213781.png

By 10PM that night I had the framing rebuilt, subfloor repaired, new sheeting put on, and the windows installed. and somehow, next day, before it started raining, I got all the siding reattached and redone where it was no good. And it hasn't leaked yet, despite some horrendous downpours. I guess I did something right 🤷‍♂️

1710786293323.png

Now if I could just get the drywall redone properly inside so I can get it pained and the carpet put back 6 months later.... Mudding drywall is not my strong point, at all. And the original drywall had a 1/8" layer across the whole thing for some reason, so I'm having to try to replicate that so the wall is flat. Yay.
 
Converting a big white pine into firewood. About 48" at the base, it was around 120 feet high. I hired a tree climber to climb it, He dropped the top 50 feet while up in the tree and then dropped the lower 70' in one piece. It cracked in two spots, but I did get two nice base logs and a couple of others a bit higher. Counting rings that tree was around 125 to 130 years old, a youngster by west coast standards but good size for northern NH. I started out trying to split the logs by scoring them with a chain saw and then using hydraulic jacks but that didnt work (dont believe folks on internet forums ;) ) so I sawed the biggest two with a big chainsaw. That took a lot of effort and some waste, so I then hired a guy come to the site to slab the wood into 8" deep slabs log width with a Lucas portable mill. The logs were 10'6" long and estimated weight was 4000 plus pounds each green. Sitting in the background of the Lucas mIll shot is my trusty FLU 419 (Unimog) army surplus backhoe loader that was used to drag the logs around the lot and load the slabs onto trailers. I was right on the edge of its capability. We made two 46" 2" thick slabs, one of which is now someone's bar top. Then (no photos) we hauled the slabs to my friend's bandsaw mill and after sawing the slabs to 28" wide with a chainsaw to fit in the mill, then sawed them into boards. Ended up with two piles of boards 4' wide and about 5' high. There was a bit of ant damage in a few spots but most of the bottom logs were clear and relatively tight grain. Tight grain white pine is not something you see at most lumber dealers as most loggers cut pines when they are half the diameter of this one. They are sticked up and drying. The last stack photo has some aspen boards that I had cut earlier on top of the pine to keep it flat. In the next to last photo there is a 2 foot wide by 2" thick slab I kept just for the heck of it for some future project. WIde slabs can crack and warp as they dry so I usually stick with the smaller stuff. I paint all the ends of the logs with wax penetrant that reduces splitting and also leave the logs a bit long so when I need one I have some end trim.
 

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Main recent project has been updating and upgrading my 1955 built house. New plumbing, new electrical, new HVAC, etc. Next would be my day job, which is involves working with wonderful people, and finding or creating solutions to problems in an intensely technical field.

I also dabble in welding and metal fab, metal art, turning wrenches on vehicles, chainsaws, collecting kerosene lamps, lanterns, and camp stoves, the list goes on.

The DIY project that's helped the most has been working on personal health and wellbeing. That's undoubtedly brought the most improvement to my loved ones and myself.
 
My hobbies include managing a sizeable property with all its upkeep inc. water, electrical etc.
In addition to interest in cars, built my own 73m2 Home Cinema, building amplifiers, Computers/networks as both work and hobby, field competitions with handguns, woodworking and everything else technical that comes my way.
And ofc. the solar in the last 2 years.

I am not getting bored ^^
 
Jack of all trades, master of none..

I've done just about all the mechanical work on all our vehicles, tractor, mowers, weed eaters, chainsaws, etc.

My biggest mechanical endeavors include changing the timing belt on my 2003 V6 Honda Accord. At first I thought there's no way I want to attempt this, because if you get the timing belt put on wrong, you'll end up with a 300lb boat anchor. But after getting estimates for the job of over $1K, I said I wanted to try. Watched a few YouTube videos, consulted a few mechanical friends, and I did it. It took a couple weeks, because I don't have a garage, so I was dodging the rain.

The timing belt kit was about $170, which included the belt, water pump, and some pulleys and tensioners. Anyways, I got it all done, and fired it up with no bad noises! That was 5 years ago, and my Accord still runs like a top. That V6 sounds like a sewing machine. Honda makes some great engines.

Also had to replace the radiator, water pump and fan on my 1981 John Deere when the WP bearings went wonky and caused the fan to crash into the radiator. What a mess. Took me a while to fix that.

My next project is to fix up the old farm chicken coop, I promised my wife I'd do that before I built my solar system, so I need to fulfill my promise..

I'm also into growing big veggie gardens every year, start a lot of my stuff from seed, grow them under lights indoors before planting out. We can (preserve) a lot of the stuff we grow- tomatoes, corn, green beans, cukes, peppers, etc.

Also grow various fruit trees and berry plants. Not very successful with the trees as squirrels and freezes steal my fruit. Best fruit crop for us is blackberries.

Other interests include basic carpentry, playing guitar, studying foreign languages, music, etc. I have a basic understanding of German, Spanish and French.

Always enjoy learning new things, keeps your mind young..
 
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Jack of all trades, master of none..

I've done just about all the mechanical work on all our vehicles, tractor, mowers, weed eaters, chainsaws, etc.

My biggest mechanical endeavors include changing the timing belt on my 2003 V6 Honda Accord. At first I thought there's no way I want to attempt this, because if you get the timing belt put on wrong, you'll end up with a 300lb boat anchor. But after getting estimates for the job of over $1K, I said I wanted to try. Watched a few YouTube videos, consulted a few mechanical friends, and I did it. It took a couple weeks, because I don't have a garage, so I was dodging the rain.

The timing belt kit was about $170, which included the belt, water pump, and some pulleys and tensioners. Anyways, I got it all done, and fired it up with no bad noises! That was 5 years ago, and my Accord still runs like a top. That V6 sounds like a sewing machine. Honda makes some great engines.

Also had to replace the radiator, water pump and fan on my 1981 John Deere when the WP bearings went wonky and caused the fan to crash into the radiator. What a mess. Took me a while to fix that.

My next project is to fix up the old farm chicken coop, I promised my wife I'd do that before I built my solar system, so I need to fulfill my promise..

I'm also into growing big veggie gardens every year, start a lot of my stuff from seed, grow them under lights indoors before planting out. We can (preserve) a lot of the stuff we grow- tomatoes, corn, green beans, cukes, peppers, etc.

Also grow various fruit trees and berry plants. Not very successful with the trees as squirrels and freezes steal my fruit. Best fruit crop for us is blackberries.

Other interests include basic carpentry, playing guitar, studying foreign languages, music, etc. I have a basic understanding of German, Spanish and French.

Always enjoy learning new things, keeps your mind young..

Jack of all trades, master of none..

I've done just about all the mechanical work on all our vehicles, tractor, mowers, weed eaters, chainsaws, etc.

My biggest mechanical endeavors include changing the timing belt on my 2003 V6 Honda Accord. At first I thought there's no way I want to attempt this, because if you get the timing belt put on wrong, you'll end up with a 300lb boat anchor. But after getting estimates for the job of over $1K, I said I wanted to try. Watched a few YouTube videos, consulted a few mechanical friends, and I did it. It took a couple weeks, because I don't have a garage, so I was dodging the rain.

The timing belt kit was about $170, which included the belt, water pump, and some pulleys and tensioners. Anyways, I got it all done, and fired it up with no bad noises! That was 5 years ago, and my Accord still runs like a top. That V6 sounds like a sewing machine. Honda makes some great engines.

Also had to replace the radiator, water pump and fan on my 1981 John Deere when the WP bearings went wonky and caused the fan to crash into the radiator. What a mess. Took me a while to fix that.

My next project is to fix up the old farm chicken coop, I promised my wife I'd do that before I built my solar system, so I need to fulfill my promise..

I'm also into growing big veggie gardens every year, start a lot of my stuff from seed, grow them under lights indoors before planting out. We can (preserve) a lot of the stuff we grow- tomatoes, corn, green beans, cukes, peppers, etc.

Also grow various fruit trees and berry plants. Not very successful with the trees as squirrels and freezes steal my fruit. Best fruit crop for us is blackberries.

Other interests include basic carpentry, playing guitar, studying foreign languages, music, etc. I have a basic understanding of German, Spanish and French.

Always enjoy learning new things, keeps your mind young..
 
Jack of all trades, master of none..
But ALWAYS better than a master of one.

Ya gotta finish the full quote.

As long as you dont blindly go without learning what is needed, a person with diagnostic skills and aptitude to understand the job is WAY better than an EXPERT master of one trade with zero skill in the project at hand.
 
My experience with masters in one trade is that the issue is ego, not knowledge.

Nothing wrong with being a master in one trade, but so many people who are masters in one trade think that expertise or authority bleeds over to other areas. Think of the movie star, who may be a very gifted actor, handing out dietary advice. As long as the brain surgeon can say "nope, figuring out why the grinder isn't working isn't in my wheelhouse, let's hit YT university or ask someone who knows better", they'll still be fine.

My FIL was an ASE certified master mechanic before he retired, at one point he was the highest trained and certified Ford technician in his state. He not only has no issue asking others for advice in areas outside his realm of expertise, he enjoys picking their brain and learning. We should all try to emulate that.
 
an EXPERT master of one trade with zero skill in the project at hand.
Sounds like certain professors. Have tons of knowledge but no common sense, real world knowledge.

I'm an electronic technician by education and 30 years of experience. It's good to have an education in a field but there's no substitute for real world experience.

I've always had a curiosity in how things work, and if possible fix them when they don't work. That has expanded into health, and relationships, altho that doesn't always work out like I think it should..

One of my favorite things I got when I was growing up was a 150 in 1 electronics kit, which had basic parts like resistors, capacitors, transistors, coils, etc laid out on a large board with springs on each end of the part with wires to make the connections. So, armed with a schematic you could rig up all kinds of cool circuits. That gave me a head start when I actually went to a tech college.
 
One of my favorite things I got when I was growing up was a 150 in 1 electronics kit, which had basic parts like resistors, capacitors, transistors, coils, etc laid out on a large board with springs on each end of the part with wires to make the connections. So, armed with a schematic you could rig up all kinds of cool circuits. That gave me a head start when I actually went to a tech college.
(y) loved mine :)
 
One of my favorite things I got when I was growing up was a 150 in 1 electronics kit, which had basic parts like resistors, capacitors, transistors, coils, etc laid out on a large board with springs on each end of the part with wires to make the connections. So, armed with a schematic you could rig up all kinds of cool circuits. That gave me a head start when I actually went to a tech college.

Had a couple of those too! Head start on what wound up being my career, for sure.
 
I still have a few sets on my shelf. Even has capacitance test pads, and optical circuits… radio shack for the win!
Yeah I wanted the 250-1 kit but what I had was fine. My favorite circuits were anything with an alarm, like a light or noise activated one. It had a little PV cell on it and a speaker to make that possible. Also thought the hearing aid circuit was cool, using the speaker as the mic.

I miss Radio Shack, paradise for a nerd like me..
 
Funny about that kit. I literally learned everything I know from that radio shack kit.

Xmas present from my dad when I was in 2nd grade.

Funny how that kit provided such a strong foundation for repair and design basics of electronics and tinkering. So much real-world usefulness or a solid foundation for a future electronics engineer.
 
It doesn't really qualify as recent but I built and operated an amateur 70 cm repeater in the Pittsburgh area. It had an ERP of over 1000 watts and 3 voted receivers, one of which was on the roof of USX Tower. With a normal 35 watt mobile radio, it had good coverage over 20+ counties in Southwest PA, Western Ohio, and Northern West Virginia. It had 2 meter linking capabilities and an APRS digipeater on site.
 
Been killing all my grass and planting native flowers & clover to take it over for months. Grass this spring is almost gone it seems, I would guess maybe 10-20% left in spots.

Just moved 4 cubic yards / 3 cubic meters of compost for the garden (not that interesting)
 
Been killing all my grass and planting native flowers & clover to take it over for months. Grass this spring is almost gone it seems, I would guess maybe 10-20% left in spots.

Just moved 4 cubic yards / 3 cubic meters of compost for the garden (not that interesting)

Love it, something like this is on my "round-tuit" list. Convert the landscaping into something I don't have to think about, ever, if possible.

I love a forest, meadow, or rolling farm fields, but the typical useless American lawn and landscaping isn't my jam at all. Maintaining these things are one of the very few parts of homeownership I absolutely hate. Hate. HATE. There is zero ROI, every cent, second, and thought spent on it is 100% waste.

Started paying a neighbor girl to mow, and while I still hate spending any $$$ at all on freaking grass, it's good to help out a teen in the community, and so very worth not having to deal with it myself.
 

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