Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's in my pocket right now?

A Kershaw. More specifically, a Kershaw Storm II serrated folder, as designed by the fertile mind of knifemonger Ken Onion. I bought 5 of these when Cabela's was selling them for $19.95 each. I figured if I ruined one, I could always bring the spare(s) into action. I'm still on Number 1, though.

When not packing the Kershaw, it's a Benchmade Eclipse Serrated that rides along with me. The Benchmade is also one heck of a pocketknife, but it appears Benchmade ain't making them anymore - as is the case when one finds something that really works well and takes a shine to it...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Everything old is new again...

Hardly does one week go by when I don't either hear or read about the FedGov's plan to deny We The People of the right to buy illumination created by running electrical current through a filament of some sorts.

No, says they, one must shed light by exciting mercury vapor in twisted little tubes that emulate real-by-Gawd light bulbs. We're determined to save you from the evils of incandescent light!

You want to have instantaneous light out on the back patio deck or the unheated garage in North Frostbite Falls during wintertime? Tough noogies - wait for those CFLs to warm up, which I'll tell you right now, takes absolutely friggin' FOREVER.

I got news for the mental midgets who first took my high-flow shower head, then my industrial grade single-flush Ferguson commode - PISS OFF!

I've already converted about 75% of all the lights in this house to CFLs of one form or another over the last several years, usually when the incandescent bulbs in those fixtures gave up the ghost. Did I realize a savings by way of the wattmeter spinning away outside? Yup, definitely. But that ain't the whole story.

I've had to replace several of the CFL bulbs that just didn't cut it. Either they died a premature death, or couldn't hack the environment they were placed in.

The front and back porch are back to incandescent, as are the accent lanterns on either side of the garage door. The lights on the garage door opener are back to incandescent. Two of the biggest lights in that same unheated garage are back to incandescent.

Every friggin' dimmable light fixture in the house is back to incandescent. I bought several of the "dimmable" CFL bulbs, and guess what - they don't. They "dim" to about 50% power, and then either cut out or oscillate in brightness while emitting a high pitched television flyback transformer whine. Sorry, Philips/GE/Sylvania, your engineers have more work to do in that application.

As a matter of fact, the "dimmable" small 14-watt CFL in my computer desk lamp just plain refused to cooperate, so I decided enough was enough and headed over to the local Menards to find a solution.

I found one. Actually, several, and they aren't going to make the CFL proponents very happy, I'm afraid. Menards is now selling retro-style Edison incandescent light bulbs, with long serpentine filaments and envelopes that look hand-blown, for a whopping $8.00 each. Of course, they're made in China, but damned if they don't just reach out and grab you. I know, I grabbed two of them, just in case the FedGov made it a limited time offer.

Now, I really hope it's all bluffoonery regarding this impending incandescent ban, but I'm convinced I'll head back to Menards this weekend and grab a couple more. I mean, just look at how that filament glows!

For 60 watts, it doesn't really run too hot. I'm sure the efficiency sucks, but I usually run my desk lamp dimmed down pretty low anyway, almost to the same filament color as the vacuum tube amplifier running on the desk. (Which feeds the computer's sound output into two huge floor towers on either side, something I will also not give up to the more-efficient transistors now all the rage)

I like it. Next stop, the nightstand light, also dimmable. Put that in your pipe, FedGov. Oh, and thanks, Menards, you've restored my faith in baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A dog named (wait for this...) Turbo!

The story is that he was sitting out in a field near an office complex, looking dehydrated, emaciated, and infected all at once. She Who Would Rescue The World calls me on the cell phone, telling me she has a "problem" and needs to see me at work over lunch. The "problem" was a tiny little furball, lethargic and looking as if today were going to be his last. She saw him out of the corner of her eye as she was driving to lunch. Honest to Gawd, I think she honestly scans for such things...

So I give in. Which I always friggin' do. I knock off a couple hours early, go grab the little doober from the house, and head straight to the family pet doc.

I walk out of there $65.00 lighter, knowing that the 15-ounce furball is seriously dehydrated, has worms, a massive respiratory infection, is a boy, and should perk up after getting de-wormed and as he sucks down the antibiotics and prescription (!) canned food.

Within just a couple treatments of the antibiotics, he comes to life. This is him after just one day of feeding and antibiotics:

He's gained an absolutely amazing amount of strength and ambition since the above photo, so much so that we call him "Turbo" because he does everything in top gear. Even making room in the litter box for deposits results in mass quantities of Tidy Cat being flung halfway across the interim nursery. That's fine, his disposition and zest for all things both cat and human are refreshing, although his introduction to the two big dogs in the house is on a rocky start. Since the photo above he's gained more weight, and has no qualms about attacking me from halfway across the room. Tonight, it's "rush the old man from across the bed, then veer off for another attack from a different angle" night:

Here's to you, Turbo. Hope you and the dogs get along, because I'd hate to have to give you up now that we've become acquainted...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Old meets New

I finally fixed the gremlins found lurking inside my antique Hickok Model 665 oscilloscope (O-silly-scope?) and returned it to service. For now, it sits in a place of honor to the right of my 2009-vintage IBM IntelliStation Z-Pro 9228, which takes the vacuum tube switching technology of the Hickok and multiplies it several millions of times.

True to form, this particular IBM workstation is water-cooled, to keep the dual Xeon 5160 (aka, Woodcrest) 3.0Ghz dual-core processors happy while playing Fallout New Vegas or running SolidWorks, Adobe CS5, etc. There are 10Gb of FB-DIMM memory onboard, a monster MSI TwinFrozr Radeon HD6870 1Gb video card to feed the monitor, a Western Digital Caviar Black 1Tb hard drive keeping the files in order (hence the Masscool blower keeping the HD temps down), and a Koolance Exos 2 running blue coolant through the gold-plated waterblocks attached to both Xeon CPUs. The operating system of choice to run this 64-bit beast is Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, which is pretty much a seamless transition from its 32-bit sibling, save for my Canon LiDE 30 scanner drivers.

The Hickok oscilloscope will soon be attached to the output of the computer's sound card, to give a visual representation of whatever music or Windows Media Center TV/DVD I happen to be enjoying at the given time. That, or I'll attach it to the output of the MGE Pulsar EX30 UPS to show the perfect 60-cycle power feed...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lest We Forget...

(The True Meaning of Memorial Day, that is...)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Serious Smoke on a Sunday Afternoon...

But it's ok, really.

The weather is pushing 60 degrees, clear skies, the birds are singing, and I had this nice beef brisket getting all lonely and stuff in the freezer.

So it got soaked in apple cider for 6 hours yesterday, then patted down and given a spice rub coat to wear overnight. Now it's being accompanied by apple wood chips, and a firebox full of lump hardwood charcoal at around 225 degrees for 8 hours. As a matter of fact, I've got to get back to stoking that fire, so I'll leave y'all with a "before" picture.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More Cast 535gr Postell Boolits!

Here is another image of those little 30:1 alloy soldiers before they go through the Lyman Model 45 Lube/Sizer. They'll get boxed up in those perfect bullet boxes for loading and launch later on: (I'm so proud of my little aerodynamic projectile creations, can you tell?)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Blustery Saturday Afternoon Cast Boolits!

I'd finished putting new rotors, wheel bearings, and brake pads on the truck around noon last Saturday, so I had some extra time to myself to work on another project I'd been meaning to undertake.

I have a goodly stockpile of raw wheel weights in a 5-gallon bucket, and an even greater amount of sheet, pipe, and ingot lead accumulated over the last 10 years or so. This is good, because Santa Claus brought me a new Lyman 457132 mold to keep my 32" 1874 Sharps Business Rifle fed with nice big 535gr Postells.

It was cool outside, not too breezy, and I was seriously hankerin' to cast some boolits. First things first, I had to reduce all those wheel weights to ingot form. I used a small muffin pan that held 24 portions - it works perfectly for casting ingots small enough to alloy 30:1 bullet metal using wheel weight ingots and straight lead ingots.

Then I cast straight lead ingots from the sheet and pipe lead scraps. Boy, that stuff is dirty and required a lot of fluxing! Soon enough, I had several dozen small pure lead ingots, ready to go. There was a big pile of wheel weight ingots, and an even bigger pile of lead ingots - a recipe for success!

I'd settled on 9 ingots of lead to one ingot of wheel weight to make my 30:1 alloy. It's probably not exactly 30:1, but close enough to fill out the mold nicely, while still casting boolits soft enough to "bump up" in front of a 70gr charge of Goex Cartridge BP upon firing. It took some time for the mold to get up to temperature, so there were more than a couple wrinkly boolits that dropped at first. That's fine, back into the pot they go for another shot at greatness.

By the time the sun started going down, I had culled down the afternoon's work to approximately 5 dozen 535gr Postell bullets, ready to run through the lube-sizer and eventually load into my favorite .45-70 BP rounds. That's work for another day, though. In the meantime, it's nice converting scrap metal into an intrinsically beautiful piece of functional metallic art, ain't it?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Perigee Moon of March, 2011

Tonight's full moon looked every bit as impressive as the news people said it would. I moved a bar stool to the back deck, plopped the Nikon 8700 onto the mini tripod, screwed in the 1.5x telephoto lens, and let fly using the auto timer for the shutter. Keeping the two dogs from tromping around on the deck while I held still was almost more of a task than composing the shot. It seems to have worked, though. I had only a few minutes to take the photo, the cloud cover was pretty heavy with only a few "windows" of opportunity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's not Chernobyl Pt. II, honest.

And to the fearmongers sowing panic like so many meadow muffins from the backside of a manure spreader, shame on you.

Chernobyl was a graphite-moderated reactor, aka RBMK Reactor, with no containment vessel. The former design feature is very much obsolete, and the missing latter feature in conjunction with all that flammable graphite are what made Chernobyl, well, Chernobyl.

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi reactors are light-water reactors, aka LWR or Boiling Water Reactors, with proper containment vessels. There's none of that graphite stuff, and the reactor cores are well-contained inside exceptionally thick steel and concrete pressure vessels designed to keep all the bad stuff inside where it belongs.

It's an apples-to-oranges comparison in every way. Japan's broken reactors will never become a Chernobyl-style catastrophe, because it's physically impossible.

I'll skip the human-induced fumbling that started the Chernobyl catastrophe, and simply state that a hydrogen bubble ignited and burst open the reactor building when the fuel rods lost their cooling water. That's what happens in nearly all reactors using water as the working fluid when they run dry. The increasing residual heat melts and oxidizes the zirconium alloy cladding of the fuel rods, the remaining water flashes to steam, hydrogen splits from the water in the steam, and you have this big honkin' hydrogen bubble under pressure looking to recombine with oxygen at its earliest convenience. Why did it burst open the reactor building? Because there was no reactor pressure vessel, no real primary containment of the reactor's core, and no real way to prevent the hydrogen from getting intimate with the oxygen it wanted back.

In doing so, the bursting of the reactor building exposed the reactor core itself to the environment. Remember those graphite moderator rods I mentioned earlier? They're graphite. That's a very pure form of carbon, halfway between charcoal and diamond. It burns like all get out, and generates some serious heat at very high temperatures once ignited.

So now you have a reactor core exposed to the environment due to the lack of a reactor pressure vessel, no cooling water, residuals of a hydrogen/oxygen "recombination event" that lifted the lid off of that reactor building, and oh yeah, tons and tons of graphite fire starter sticks. This is a recipe, lest anybody miss what's coming up next...

And boy, howdy, did it ever come up in grand fashion! As many Soviet military conscripts and career troops gave their lives to throw sand, boron, and other agents into the gaping maw of a ruptured Chernobyl, the fire in that big old Weber Grill ran hot enough to climb way up there into the atmosphere. So high, in fact, that it intercepted the Jet Stream. That ain't good, because the witches brew of daughter isotopes created in the reactor both before and after the accident found a convenient dispersal path thanks to the lack of a pressure vessel plus the super-hot, graphite-fueled fire. You've seen the pictures of livestock, produce, and dairy products that were destroyed as the plume dropped isotopes over the region. The Jet Stream carried the physically lighter isotopes around the world, and we (crazy bastards flying USAF nuclear reconnaissance jets) found activity off the West Coast of the U.S. in short order. It wasn't a dangerous level of REMs, but it indicated the nature of the reactor accident when the owners weren't exactly forthcoming with the info. The fuel rods did undergo a total meltdown, and they later found the solidified and formerly molten blob in the basement of the facility right where they figured it would go. It didn't burn down to the earth's core, and it didn't undergo an uncontrolled fission reaction. It melted, burned through the floor, and solidified into a huge "elephant's foot" of an intensely radioactive uranium metal sculpture which will remain there for many generations if not longer.

Contrast that to what's going on in Japan this week. These reactors are contained, are being fed boron and seawater, and are "burped" on occasion to keep pressures down. Those "burps" release pressure and allow more cooling water to be pumped into the reactor pressure vessels. It's not easy pumping water into a pressurized boiler, as anybody who knows about feedwater pumps on steam locomotives can tell you. Unfortunately, those "burps" also contain hydrogen gas and radioisotopes, which are responsible for the external explosions we saw that lifted the roofs off of at least two of the reactor buildings. They didn't blow the reactor pressure vessels, but they did make some serious skylights overhead. The reactor cores are still contained, which is in stark contrast to Chernobyl, where Pandora's Box was out there in the open for all to experience.

Radiation, while a fine trigger for genetic diversity in Homo Sapiens and other species of flora and fauna, really isn't too healthy to living organisms in larger doses. I know, I absorbed more than a few beta and gamma hits when inserting the pointy end of a jet into a suspected nuclear debris cloud to get a good sample. As crazy as the mission might seem, we still stayed safe by following some basic rules.

Time, Distance, and Shielding are what saves your bacon. Time means minimal time spent in contact with radiation. Distance means that the specific energies of those alpha, beta, and gamma emitters drop off considerably with the more distance you put between yourself and them, roughly an inverse square formula. Shielding means that you put something that blocks those ionizing energies via the appropriate material for the radiation you want to stop. Alpha's easy, a sheet of paper will do. Beta needs something a bit more substantial, and Gamma's no fun at all. I'm seeing evidence of all three methods of protection being used by our Japanese friends while they're fighting the reactor problems and keeping the Japanese public safe. Somebody's got their head screwed on straight, especially after the double whammy of a 9.0 earthquake and the tsunami it spawned hit them in rapid succession.

As far as I'm concerned, the Japanese reactor crews and Japanese Self Defense Forces are doing the appropriate textbook maneuvers to keep a bad situation from getting worse. Sure, the non-pure seawater will permanently ruin those reactor cores, but it'll cool down the fuel rod assemblies over time until they're safe to extract and reprocess (save for the Tokai-Mura incident, Japan's pretty good at reprocessing spent fuel rods). The venting of excess core steam pressure prevents damage to the reactor pressure vessels, and allows the cooling water to be pumped in with considerably less resistance. The vented steam will contain radioisotopes and hydrogen, especially now that seawater is the expedient coolant of choice, but it's way less activity than were those pressure vessels to rupture and cause the fuel rods catch fire while exposed to the environment.

And that released radioactivity is much, much less than what Chernobyl scattered hither and yon, with fewer isotopes and lower specific activities in the shorter, lower-altitude dispersed plumes. In the meantime, all the scared folks buying Potassium Iodide tablets in Washington, Oregon and California are merely providing the industry with a temporary monetary boost. Those poor sods will never have occasion to use them here in the U.S., and if they do use them without actually being in contact with radionuclides, they'll booger up their thyroid glands something fierce. How's that for cruel irony? The fearmongers cause injuries by scaring people into sucking down potassium iodide tablets like candy, when the plume coming from Japan never carries enough debris to injure folks here, let alone make it across the Pacific. Wunnerful!

Instead of spending money on potassium iodide tablets, how's about writing a check to the relief fund of your choice to help the folks on the other side of the Pacific who have no electricity, no food, no water, no shelter, and need to get their lives back on an even keel after witnessing so much death and destruction? You'll feel better, honest. In the meantime, Uncle Sam is monitoring the situation probably better than anyone else in the world...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spalted Maple 1911 Grips!

The last time I put "fancy" grips on any of my handguns, they were highly figured walnut Altamont finger-groove grips for my S&W Model 696, taking it pretty close to Barbeque Gun status, albeit missing the obligatory engraving. Otherwise, most of my tools wear Hogue rubber Monogrips, w/finger grooves, including my raceguns. They earned my trust during IPSC and USPSA competitions over the years, and I figured a parkerized gun can't be made to look dressy, regardless.

I wasn't particularly looking for dress-up bits for my 1911s, but when I was just noodling around on eBay, these caught my eye. I dunno why, other than the mineral streaks and figure of the light maple, but they were indeed striking. So striking, in fact, that I bought them. It appears they have taken up residence on my Dick Bancroft-assembled Norinco/Kart/Videcki/Ed Brown/Brownells 1911 variant (Known in various circles as either Raunchorinco or The Gook Cup), and I dare say they look good. As a matter of fact, the old Hogue monogrip may not return, either.

Right side:

Left side:

Not bad. Not bad at all!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Vicious Snow Dog!

Well, not really, but when you whistle and Quinn of the North Woods comes charging your direction, having the camera ready is a reward unto itself...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Yuengling Lager in Wisconsin!

In their infinite wisdom (ala' Coors back in the day) Yuengling Breweries won't distribute their stuff to points west of the Eastern Seaboard. That's too bad, because some of us Damn Yankees who spent lots of time south of the Mason-Dixon line have a real hankering for Yuengling, shucked oysters, pulled pork sammiches, and decent buffalo wings.

I didn't fix the problem, but rather treated the symptoms. I ordered a case of Yuengling online from and by Gawd they shipped it! They were even good enough to wait for the weather to go above zero degrees Fondly Fahrenheit so that the bottles wouldn't burst in transit.

So as I sit here awaiting the 20 inches of snow they're predicting by Wednesday AM, there's a crock pot of chili simmering, and many bottles of Yuengling chilling on the back deck in a positive application of fluffy frozen raindrops.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

They Trademarked "Tactical"!

I kid you not. Usually, if you paint something black and attach rails to it, you get a cart-blanche excuse to call it "tactical". I've seen tactical flashlights w/scalloped bezels, tactical letter openers, tactical coffee mugs (Thanks, Oleg!), and damned near everything else labeled with that particular adjective.

I'd resigned myself to the fact that the term "tactical" is pretty much a marketing ploy and nothing else, but I was floored today when I received my Cabela's sale flyer. There it was - Federal American Eagle TACTICAL ammo, with the nice Registered Trademark right behind "tactical". Yup. The summonabenches trademarked it.

That worries me now. Will Federal/American Eagle go after the makers of my tactical toilet tissue? How about the Tactical Air Command patch memento in my shadow box? What if something just plain looks tactical, like the knives made by my late knife and gunsmith? That Caspian Officer's ACP of mine? Yeah, it's probably tactical, too. Well, it could be strategic, I suppose, but that's not a sales buzzword...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Noodler's "Dark Matter" & Lamy Safari

I know I reviewed Noodler's "Dark Matter" with both a Cross ATX and Lanbitou 866 fountain pen earlier on this blog, but I've since found another combination that works exceptionally well.

Lamy makes a mostly-plastic fountain pen called the Safari, and while it isn't the most classical looking thing, the fit, form and function are top notch. I purchased my fine nib Safari, plus converter, on over the holidays thanks to a sale offer that found its way to my email. The price was right, and my bottle of Dark Matter was still pretty full, so what the heck?

My first impression upon arrival was that the pen was really light. So light, in fact, that I don't like writing with it unless it's posted - otherwise the balance is way off. My next impression was that the converter reservoir was very generous in capacity. It holds a lot of ink, much more so than my Cross. That's a Good Thing when I'm writing 20+ page engineering reports longhand, so Lamy gets bonus points from me right there. Having a couple clear windows in the barrel to view the ink levels doesn't hurt, either.

The fine steel nib has a dark oxide finish that complements the charcoal color of the barrel and cap. There aren't a lot of frills or flourishes on this pen, and the most "artsy" part of the Safari is probably the wire pocket clip. That's not a real problem for a daily-use pen, and the ergonomics of the Safari design more than make up for any lacking aesthetics. The triangular barrel section that interfaces with the writer's fingers and thumb are perfectly shaped, and the nib fairly glides over the paper with nary a thought. The scratchiness of the Lanbitou 866 and occasional edge grab of the Cross ATX are long things of the past with the Lamy Safari pen.

I have noticed that Noodler's "Dark Matter" is very flowy in this pen, while still being smooth and very dark in color. Not quite gushing ink, mind you, but one has to wait just a few seconds to allow the ink to dry before stacking other documents on the just-written page, but it's actually quicker to dry than our company-provided UniBall Gel pens. The latter smear quite horribly in comparison to the Safari/Dark Matter combination.

I'm inclined to believe the light weight and ergonomics of the Safari combine to make this an enjoyable pen, reducing fatigue when writing for extended periods. From my own, somewhat limited experience with fountain pens, this makes for a great value when one's writing so much that refillable fountain pens eclipse the practice of buying ballpoint refills. Kudos to Lamy for their Safari pen, and kudos to Noodler's for their Dark Matter ink!

Nikon Cameras -They Breed!

At last count, there were 3 Nikons and one Canon in the house. I used the Canon PowerShot S50 to take pics of the 2 Nikon CoolPix 5700s and CoolPix 8700 during a rare moment when all 4 cameras were having their CF cards backed up to the server. I've been wanting to go the DSLR route, but the Nikon photos are so nice, and the little Canon is so handy...

Chances are, if you see photos uploaded across the web by your's truly, they were taken with one of these cameras!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Western Electric Red Alert Phone

This is my Western Electric 502 phone, a former alert phone from a USAF installation. I had it re-wired for the standard modular phone jack, and it's tied into the house Vonage phone system. Unfortunately, the ringer will wake the dead, even at its quietest settings. When that happens, one of the dogs starts howling, and the other dog starts looking for me to make it stop.

So in the interest of domestic tranquility, I wrapped duct tape around the electromagnet's clapper. Now it just buzzes when an incoming call rings in. The little white AT&T box behind it and to the right? That's an inline touch tone dialer, with 4 programmable speed-dial buttons in front, and a full keypad hidden under the flip-top cover. It's pretty handy to have if you want to make outbound calls on a receive-only handset, otherwise I'd have to rely on my old Radio Shack pocket tone dialer pressed against the mouthpiece...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I've always wanted a weather station...

Lo and behold, Santa Claus delivered a LaCrosse WS1510U-IT weather station this Christmas, thanks to a little bird who told him I'd wanted something along those lines. On New Year's Eve Day the weather warmed up to 49 degrees, melting the snow and making the installation task much more tolerable.

I knew the biggest problem with any weather station installation in my residence was going to be having the wind vane and anemometer seeing winds that would otherwise be masked by the height of the house. Were I to place the system further out in my back yard, I'd probably exceed the 300 foot range of the remote transmitters to the base unit. What to do?

My deck on the south side of the house is already 6' up off the ground, so that gave me an idea. I bought 2 each 10' sections of 1 3/8" galvanized steel chain link fence tubing, and a half-dozen clamp brackets to anchor things securely. My intent was to make a 20' instrument pole, and secure it to the 6' high deck for a total of 26' instrument height. That should allow the wind vane and anemometer to see winds coming over the house from the north, but if I didn't anchor things really well, I'd also have something that would dance nicely in heavier winds if it didn't plain fall over.

I used 5 of the clamp brackets to secure the instrument mast to the deck and upper railing. I'd considered drilling both a clamp and the mast to use a sheet metal screw for rotational stability, but I can't twist the mast now with 5 clamps holding it, regardless. I'm going to leave that portion alone for now, because I plan on taking the rig down later this summer for modifications.

Here's the mast as attached to the deck:

The thermometer/hygrometer/transmitter is visible attached to the deck support. The wind data wire coming from inside the mast attaches to the unit, so that it can transmit everything but the rainfall amounts - which are handled by a separate tipping-bucket rain gauge mounted elsewhere. I placed the thermometer/hygrometer/transmitter under the deck, to protect it from rainfall and also keep the summer sun from exaggerating temperatures via direct heating.

The upper portion of the mast mounts were attached to the deck railing, along with the aforementioned rain gauge. The rain gauge is mounted on standoffs to allow the measured rainfall to dump directly to the ground below. Looking up, one can see how it sits:

That's a makeshift plywood dog gate at the top of the outside deck stairs, until I come up with something a bit more substantial. The two 10' mast sections fit together via a 4" end section that's swaged down to about 1" in diameter. It made for a tight fit, but I added extra insurance in the form of a few sheet metal screws installed through the overlapping pipe sections. They're just barely visible near the joint in this view of the mast looking up towards the instruments:

As it looks from a normal vantage point on the deck, the rain gauge sitting nearby:

If you take your camera and point it up towards the instruments, then hit the zoom, you can see them way up there:

The top portion of the mast looks unfinished to me, even with the wind vane swinging and anemometer spinning away. So later this coming summer I will take everything down and install a 12-volt high brightness automotive red LED taillight bulb as a mast cap, illuminating the wind vane and acting as a beacon of sorts. This will serve as a visual reference in late evenings when the wind gusts are heavy during thunderstorm season, and also act as a landmark to see my house from the highway at night.

Once the three sets of batteries were installed, it was time to see what the weather station reported. I fired up to synchronize my barometer readings and compare the displayed data with that of other local public and private weather stations, and was pleased to see it matched theirs almost exactly! Now that's what I'm talking about!