A little programing project to find the average price of Star Wars Black Series 6″ based upon past eBay auctions. I have it split out by multiple groups/waves and you can click on an item and get details on how the prices are compiled.
A little programing project to find the average price of Star Wars Black Series 6″ based upon past eBay auctions. I have it split out by multiple groups/waves and you can click on an item and get details on how the prices are compiled.
I recently started collecting vintage loose Star Wars action figures and soon I started to run out of space in my closet. While they didn’t look bad in the closet, I was questioning the point of collecting one hundred or so figures if they are going to be hidden behind a closet door all the time. I also didn’t want to have to worry about dust so I started thinking of ways to keep them clean, but viewable.
Old closet shelf display
Inspired by the awesome cabinets of figuredisplay.com and members of the Vintage Star Wars Facebook Group I decided to build my own cabinet to display my loose Star Wars Vintage collection. I did seriously consider buying a cabinet, but wasn’t prepared to spend the money. I also wanted a cabinet that didn’t look that Star Wars themed. I modeled it after the decor of the house which is basically white moldings and pretty simple design.
The display itself is pretty simple and cheap to build. The size of the cabinet was defined by the size of the acrylic plastic I found. My goal was have about 8 shelves which could display 10-14 figures per row. Not including variations, you need space for about 100 figures if you want to display the four vintage lines from 1977-1985.
32×44″ acrylic plastic ($25)
1x 2×6′ Premium Pine
1x 2×8′ Premium Pine
1x 3×6′ Pine Select
1x 3×8′ Pine Select
2x 2′x4′ Birch Plywood
Strong Earth Magnets
While this is not a complete list of tools, not all of these are necessary. It depends on how fancy you want to get. I’m not a huge fan of Harbor Freight tools either, because most of their stuff is low quality. However, the items I linked to here actually are a great deal and are highly rated and worked very well for me.
When selecting your pine stock, you can try to get the lower grade (cheaper) wood, but ensure it is straight and not warped. Rest it on a flat surface to ensure you won’t have any issues with squaring up the cabinet doors or cabinet.
The total cost of materials to build this cabinet is around ~$100 USD, not including tools. While the instructions below should help, they are by no means 100% complete. This article is meant to inspire and give you ideas on how to make your own cabinet, that will hopefully be better than the one I built!
Start by making the front window for the cabinet. I had to pick through about twenty pieces of acrylic plastic at Lowes to find one that was not damaged. Most had cracks on the sides or the protective wrapping was gashed. Whoever handles the stock must be a caveman. Using the size of the acrylic plastic as your guide, miter your 1×2″ at a 45 degree angle. I made the inside edge a 1/2 inch smaller so that when I cut the slot, in the next step, it would slip into the slot.
After you cut the 4 pieces, use the slot bit cutter to cut a groove into middle edge of the trim. Since the blade is rather large, the tools manufacturer’s recommendation is not to use a router that goes above 16k RPM. If your router is single speed (like mine), then buy a speed control dial like I have linked above. Ensure that after you cut the pieces and before you glue and nail the ends that the frame is a perfect square. Do this by measuring diagonally from each corner and ensure that the measurements are the same. Use the band clamp to clamp while the glue dries, but don’t over tighten as it will bow the wood. I used a brad nailer to tack the pieces together until the glue dries the next day. I also left the plastic film on the acrylic so I didn’t have to worry about damaging. One tip is that you might want to paint the slot so that it is white inside. I didn’t do that, but if I had to do it again…
The frame is basically just 1×3″ mitered at the ends. In order for the plywood backing to sit flush, use the slot bit about 1/16″ from the base to cut a notch. It essentially is being used as a rabbet router bit. Be careful to ensure it doesn’t hit the router base though, but try to get it as close as you can. You might have a slight paper thin, sliver of wood left after you complete your cut that will easily come off with a razor knife.
Since you are using two pieces of birch for backing, think about where the two pieces meet. What I did was create a template block and marked the locations of my shelves on the cabinet frame. I then cut the piece of backing so that the joint would be behind the middle shelf so there would be no visible seam. The height of my shelves were 4 7/8″ but don’t forget to include the width of the shelf as well (3/4″) when you start tempting the positions. You don’t want to go much lower than this or IG-88 won’t fit! Also, if you plan to run lighting inside the cabinet, drill holes in the back corners of the shelves so you can run a wire later. I didn’t want to have to deal with a plug, so I purchased a battery operated string of LED lights. Don’t expect it to provide a ton of light, but it does give it a nice ambient glow.
Since the backing is flush to the back, a 1′x3 shelf will protrude slightly. You can either cut the shelf down by about 1/4 inch and make it flush against the frame (easy to do if you have a table saw). I opt’d to create a little router jig and using a straight bit, cut out about 1/2″ from each side. Here is picture of the jig I made. Just measure from the end of the router bit to edge of your router fence and add the amount you want to cut. Test first on a scrap piece! This allows the shelf to almost butt up directly to the window without a gap.
To attach the front window to the cabinet I simply used two screws plus some strong magnets glued in along the frame. The weight of the window frame rests on the screws while the magnets hold it tight against the cabinet frame.
To mount to the wall, I used a 22″ Z-Hanger which allows you to catch two studs on the wall and easily mount the cabinet on the wall while still keeping it relatively flush. There will be a 1/4″ gap at the bottom so just use a filler piece behind the cabinet to keep it flush. This z-hanger I bought from Home Depot actually has a built in level which is pretty cool. If you want to just screw the cabinet directly into the wall, then make sure your design has a backing block at the top so you have some meat to to drill through and mount into the wall.
This is the battery pack for the LED lights that is hidden on the wall side. You can also see one of the magnets that flush mounted into the cabinet frame. On the oppose side of the window is another magnet.
The finished cabinet that needs a lot more figures
My view of my display as I work
I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time planning, designing, building and painting this piece. I didn’t track the total number of hours spent, but I finished it working on and off in about two weeks. If you like using your hands, then this is a fun project with the byproduct meaning an awesome display for your figure collection. Good Luck and contact me if you have any questions!
While I consider myself a technologist and not a futurist, I had the inspiration for this idea on the car ride back from the kid’s soccer practice.
It occurred to me that in the future, the phone, which is a means of communicating orally and via text input, will become transparent and evolve into a form of communication that combines the power of a layered communication grid beyond the Internet.
Your connection to the cloud will be a wearable device, most likely attached to your nervous system and fueled by your body. The clumsy interface of miniature keyboards on screens will be replaced by our own thoughts. Our conversations will become altered as we are able to have augmented communication in real time. The ability to speak one language and have the other person hear their native tongue asynchronously will bridge a gap between cultures like never before. Just as today, we customize our ringtones, backgrounds and social channels with pictures of our families our interests, we will alter our personalities by adding the equivalent of emoticons to our speech.
The opportunity to augment your communication on the fly will bring the same type of richness you expect in a Word document to your speech. Similar to how you bold/animate/typeface your written communication, you’ll be able to punctuate your communication with music, voice overs, cloud sourced knowledge. It may sound scary, almost Max Headroom like, but it will happen as the technologies around us mature into instantaneous computing.
Eventually, the oral communication that we depend on today, but avoid by using text messages and emails will be replaced with a telepathic form of connecting with each other. It might sound unnatural that a personal interaction, like talking to a friend, would become even more amplified by connecting with them directly. Cities will be eerily silent, but in your mind, dozens of conversations will feel as though there is a symphony of songs playing in your head. Scientists will discover that it doesn’t take thousands of years for humans to evolve and we will naturally become more adept at our new form of communication. System halts in the layered cloud will bring pockets of society to their knees similar to modern day power outages. Communities will form which only allow natural communication and ban any augmentation devices from their way of life. People will pay to hack other peoples thoughts for theft, for love and maybe just for curiosity.
The world that will exist in 100 years from now is going to be so different from the world we live in today and it’s going to happen quicker than you can imagine. I hope to see that world one day. I hope to help build it.
My electric service in Connecticut is provided by United Illuminating. They recently replaced my old electric meter with a new smart meter when I had my solar panels installed. If you have a Landis+Gyr Focus AX smart meter, then you can use this cheat sheet to understand what the display codes are that it cycles through:
I got the idea to make these DIY camp shoes from a backpackinglight.com thread. The blue foam pad only costs eight dollars in Walmart. They weight in at 1.6 ounces for a pair, size 12. I probably could get them a little smaller and down to 1.3 ounces. With one pad, you can probably make at least three pairs too.
Most ultralight backpackers are against camp shoes of any kind, but at 1.6 ounces, how could you resist? I’m looking forward to changing into dry socks and my camp shoes while making dinner the next time I go backpacking.
Surprisingly, it’s hard to find good backpacking loops that you can do in 2 nights, 3 days.
1. Mt. Marcy: Adirondacks. Lean-tos, water falls, cantilevered bridges, a wooden dam and climbing the highest point in NY are all some of the highlights for this trip. I have done this trip two times and it was awesome every time.
You’ll start your hike at the Adirondak Loj parking lot near Heart Lake. Their is a fee to park and you’ll need a bear canister and possibly crampons if there is still snow. You can rent them there, but call to make sure they are not out. They also have a gift shop, food, supplies and hot showers for after your hike (50 cents?)
Day 1: Arrive Friday afternoon and hike to Marcy Dam. Take Avalanche Pass to the tip of Lake Colden and snag a lean-to. Visit the gigantic park ranger’s log cabin and talk to him about recent bear sightings. ~ 6 miles
Days 2: Head East toward Lake Tear of the Clouds and ascend Mt Marcy, the highest point in NY. Enjoy awesome 360 views and your lunch. Head back down the North face towards Indian Falls. Find another lean-to at Marcy Dam ~10 miles
Day 3: A short 2 mile sprint out of the park and back to the car to shower. Remember to bring some soap and a towel with your clean change of clothes. Head into Lake Placid for breakfast/lunch.
Please see the map for the route described above.
2. Stratton: VT. At first I wasn’t excited to hike to the top of a ski mountain, but it’s nothing like that. You wouldn’t even know you were on Stratton mountain until you get the fire tower and see the lifts on the other side (barely). This loop features a 20 person shelter as well as beautiful Stratton Lake and classic Vermont hiking on the Long Trail.
Day 1: Park at Old Rootville Road just off of Route 30. Note that the road is named “Rootville Road”, but the maps incorrectly shows “Old Rootville Road”. There are a few small parking ares by the water tower on the right. Hike up Rootville road and stop at Prospect Rock and enjoy the views of your early ascent. Catch the Long Trail heading SE towards the South side of Stratton pond and hopefully grab a bunk at the spacious Stratton Pond shelter (sleeps 20!). Always bring a tent just in case, but chances are if you get there around 4pm, there will be room. You might consider cooking/hanging out at the shelter and then sleeping in a tent. The reason is that it can be quite loud with twenty or so people milling around. We also had some quite rude people show up at midnight which can be quite noisy. Hopefully you’ll meet a few AT thru hikers which will be more than happy to eat your extra food.
Day 2: Leave most of your gear except your lunch and wind breaker at the shelter and ascend up to the top of Stratton Mountain. Climb the fire tower and enjoy views all the way up to Killington. You’ll descend the way you came up again and pick up your gear before you head towards Bourn Pond. At Bourn Pond, head North on Branch Pond Trail to the WIlliam B Douglas Shelter. It only sleeps about 5-6 so you’ll need to get there around 4pm to have a good chance of having a spot. Otherwise there is plenty of tenting spots.
Day 3: Quick hike out to the car. Head to Bob’s Diner and enjoy a great meal before heading home.
Here is a map of the route.
If you have any other suggested loops, please post in the comments. I’m always looking for new hikes. As always, make sure you are practicing ultralight backpacking as well.
My original home generator system consisted of a 7000w power generator hooked up to a manual transfer switch which would power ten circuits in my house. It was a perfectly fine setup, but once I started researching other alternative options, I knew I had to change my approach.
After doing a LOT of research, I was able to find examples of how I can have my Prius power my house. What’s unique about my setup is that it takes the 110v that the Prius generates and transfers it into the 220v manual transfer switch. The flow is: Prius -> Inverter -> 15amp plug -> 30amp plug -> 10 circuit manual transfer switch.
The four main components of the system are:
Lets go into detail on some of the items:
Inverter: The inverter I chose can generate 1000w of electricity and peak at 2000w. After doing several tests, I knew that I didn’t need any more than 800w so a 1000w inverter would be more than sufficient. Additionally, I opted for a more expensive Pure Sine Wave inverter because I wanted to be able to to power electronics such as the TV, cable box, cable modem and routers. I also wanted a quick an easy way to connect the inverter to the Prius. You could go with alligator clips similar to how you would jump start a car, but after finding Woodman’s setup, I knew this is how I would need to set it up. I have more info in the video, but here is the parts list:
Manual Transfer Switch: Even though I didn’t have a lot of circuits to power at one time, I did have at LEAST six circuits I wanted to power. You can find 4 circuit transfer switches which are made to work with 110 volt cables, but it doesn’t seem like they make 6 circuit’s anymore. My setup allows you to power ten different circuits using a 120volt input
Custom Cable: They do not sell 15a to 30a power cords. If you want to mimic this setup, you’ll have to create your own. I followed the great instructions provided by hazardjk. In my video I talk a little bit about it, but there are a few things you should note:
During the installation of my manual transfer switch, my electrician found some serious issues with my subpanel. I had double tapped breakers, no grounding to the main panel, neutral and ground bars mixed up and multiple MBWC. I actually paid him to rewire the subpanel to sort out those issues which needed to be fixed regardless of generator setup.
Watch the two videos which show how I setup everything:
Through my research I found many folks who thought that using a Prius as a generator was not worth risking the car’s durability. Here are my thoughts:
So now I wait for the first power outage and we’ll see how my setup performs in a real life situation. I tested the setup a few times and everything worked flawlessly so I’m excited to try it out. However, if I never have to use it, that’s ok too, at least I’m prepared.
I don’t think anyone every says that they are getting less email. Over the years I developed an efficient system for managing my email and thought it would good to share with you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments:
July 2013 Update: I have since changed my plan and I am now powering my home with my Prius.
Compared to others, Sandy and Irene were merely inconveniences for our family. We were lucky and thankful for that. After getting through those storms, I actually wasn’t planning on getting a generator. However after seeing a predicated above average hurricane season, I decided it might be worth the investment and piece of mind as well (ok, and comfort).
I did a lot of research on generators and there are two main options that you can go with:
Portable Generator: There are a lot of options here with varying degrees of wattage and features. One of the main differences are inverter generators vs standard generators. Without getting too much into the engineering, what an inverter generator gives you over a standard generator are two things: they are quieter and they are more efficient at burning gas. For example, a standard generator running on 5 gallons of gas at 1/2 load will last about 8 hours. The same inverter generator will last 12+ hours.
Sound, or more specifically how noisy the generator is, might not be a deciding factor for you. Typically you want a nice quiet inverter generator for camping, hunting or for contractors where you’ll be around the unit as opposed to a backup generator for your home which you’ll put on the driveway and have the house walls to buffer some of the sound.
Portable generators are typically stored in your garage and you pull them out and connect them to a manual transfer switch in case of an outage. You have to ensure you properly store and maintain your generator so that when there is a power outage, you don’t have to deal with mechanical issues. The 7000w variety of generators are quite large and heavy (200+ lbs). Make sure that you get a model with wheels and you comfortable enough in handling as it’s more onerous then something like a lawn mower.
Standby Generator: These units are normally for those who want a fixed unit that is always available. Typically you would choose a standby generator if you have natural gas. This is advantageous because you don’t have to deal with buying gasoline and dealing with potential gas shortages. A standby generator installation is going to cost more than a portable generator because typically the units are larger, require plumbing of a gas line and includes an automatic transfer switch which will automatically switch power to the generator in case of a power outage. Also note that generators running on natural gas lose about 10% of their efficiency so you want to size them higher than gasoline fed engines. For example, if you calculated you need 7000w of power, you’ll need at least a 8000w generator.
So knowing all this, I spent a lot of time researching options. For a standby generator, CT Generator Solutions quoted me $8900 for a 11KW Generac Guardian (46 amps) 12 Circuit with Automatic Transfer Switch unit. In my particular situation they would have had to run an electric conduit about 40 feet from the panel since the generator would on the opposite side of the electrical panel. Conversely, the gas line was on the same side. This seemed like a fair quote to me as I researched that a standby generator install is typically about 1/3 of the price of the actual generator. In this example, the generator is about 3k so 9k for the installation + parts seems about right. A few reasons on why I didnt with a standby installation:
So that left me with a portable generator solution. I researched a lot of generators and what I learned is Honda Generators are the best. They are used by professional organizations (like the film industry) and literally last forever. However, you’re going to pay a lot. You have to decide if you think that you’ll need the most reliable generator for the rare occasions when the power goes out. Typically most people buy a 7kWh generator. If we compare:
So why are Honda’s 3x the price of a generator that actually has more capacity? Basically, we’re back to reliability. You can research the top selling generator at Home Depot and you’ll find that the Generac for $1000 will have hundreds of reviews at 5 stars. However, what these reviews are not telling you is the longevity of this generator. I’m assuming most homeowners are thankful that they had power during the last hurricane, but what about the 2nd and 3rd outages?
I debated going for it and getting the $4000 Honda but it just didn’t make sense. I literally could buy the Generac four times! Of course, it wouldn’t match the efficiency and quietness of the Honda. One interesting item I found is that maintenance is very important, specifically changing the oil. Typically all the generators I found require an oil change after the first 20 hours of usage. After that, it’s every 100 hours of operation. However, be careful when buying a generator because I found some that suggested every 20 hours! Stay away from these generators!
So what to do. The Hondas are too expensive and I don’t trust the 1k range generators. I then found that some of the generators had Honda Engines. And while a Honda Engine is a big component of a generator, it’s not the only component. The alternator is a big piece of the equation and the lower priciest generators don’t match the quality of the Honda generators. But unless you plan on running it every day, does it matter that much?
I researched Generators around 7kWh with Honda engines and was lucky to find that my local Costco had a Powerstroke 6800 with a Honda Engine for $1000.00. As a bonus it had electric start and came with the wheel kit, trickle charger for the battery and usage meter. The only thing that it didn’t have was a meter for wattage output.
Why this is a perfect generator for me is that I get my Honda engine and more importantly, I have the backing of Costco’s return policy. Literally, I can return it in three years with no questions asked. If I were to buy it online from Amazon at Home Depot, I’m basically SOL if it breaks and have to deal directly with the manufacturer. You know how those battles go.
So now that I know the generator I want, it was onto the next part of installing the manual transfer switch. I called a few folks and the person I thought was the friendliest and came in at a fair price was Lazaro from Barrios Electric. For $850 he put in the 10 circuit manual transfer switch that I supplied. It only took a day and he tested all the circuits while the generator was running to ensure everything was running properly. Since my generator didn’t have a load meter, it was important that the manual transfer switch had wattage meters so I can see how much I’m drawing when on generator power. Even though I have ten circuits, I don’t plan on using all of them at the same time. The main ones I picked are:
Grouping: Office + Kitchen Lights + Alarm + TV + Kitchen Outlets + Fridge: Peak: 1200w, Run: ~600w
To be honest, everything but the first three are a nice to have. I did a lot of pre work identifying all my circuits that I wanted to use and then estimating the total wattage. If you aren’t as detailed as me, your electrician will help you with that.
For emergency prepardeness, I bought the following items:
Good luck with your research and I hope this has helped a little.
I recently had an opportunity to meet with Google about a recent announcement. They shared with us a few documents that I have not seen before:
The theme is that the PC is a part of the experience, but not the only one. The world is going Mobile First. How about you?