Sunday, June 26, 2022

straight ahead...

Proverbs 4:25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

lost a friendly bunny...


...probably to a coyote

Friday, June 24, 2022

Thursday, June 23, 2022

RC car trivia question:


What do these have to do with a modification 
I will be making on the rover?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Grocery store renovation underway...

Grand opening in November...

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

more bronze

Five pounds of freshly blended bronze poured this morning in 4 batches.  Each batch is 600 grams of copper and 60 grams of aluminum.  93,97,70,0,B

Monday, June 20, 2022

New batch of skulls


16 more skulls on order.  It is brutal casting these during the summer, but it was a bit chilly today so I was able to crank out five of them.  75,95,76, .12",B

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A tree planted by the water...

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022

Casita update...

The new owners of the Casita have done a great job of making it their own.  Very nice interior touches and a buttload of solar that doubles as shade on the south side.  92,99,74,0,B

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wednesday, June 15, 2022


Ended up with a nice little storm last night that wasn't in the forecast. Total accumulation over 5 hours ended up at .81". Caught 1600 gallons off my rooftops and pumped 2000 gallons into one of my creek tanks. Last time I got a good amount of rain out of one storm was on December 10,2019 with .74". Previous to that was 1.15" on December 7, 2017 (I keep very detailed weather records). I've been wanting to try adding my real time weather station data to a video and finally got my shot. My weather station is a discontinued model that I bought years ago from You can see my current conditions on WeatherUnderground at KTXALPIN105.
The desert sure soaks it up fast...

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

back in business...

Nice visit today with Luther Krueger who came out to include The Field Lab in his solar cooking series on YouTube.  My solar oven heated up nicely today.  Clouds rolled in just before it got to 400°.  
76,105,77, .81",W

Monday, June 13, 2022

New mylar...

...for the solar oven reflector.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

you can run - but you cannot hide

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Solar oven time


A YouTuber is coming out Tuesday to do a segment on my solar oven.  It has been almost 4 years since I last used it.  Cleaned up the double pane tempered glass this morning - and putting new mylar on the reflector tomorrow.  It will be nice to get this back in operation again.  Kinda seems wrong to be cooking my dinner with propane while we frequently have daily temperatures over 100° this time of year.  99,105,68,0,C

Friday, June 10, 2022

Double Feature Friday

First test of the desert rover project - to see how the Wyze Cam V3 works on a cheap RC car. Camera running off a 13000 mAh power bank. Next test will be with a much more powerful RC crawler that has a range of about 600 meters - which is about the same as the wifi range of my Wyze cameras working through the boosted signal from my Starlink router. This is the cheap RC car I used for this test.

Easily controlled the Everest 10 out to 250 meters with the stock transmitter and receiver. Video shot with a DJI Osmo Action camera with "rock steady" turned on for smooth video. This is one of a series of tests toward the ultimate goal of turning this into a solar powered autonomous rover. Next test will be adding a platform for firmly attaching more things to the existing crawler - such as cameras, sensors, micro controllers, etc... It's a little top heavy as is. I may also have to widen the wheelbase and lower the center of gravity as well.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The extraction

This is part one of a series on this watch. One of the case screws is broken so I also ordered a pair of those as well. Part two of the series will be installing and testing the watch. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME! 95,100,68,0,C

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

A little surgery...


I was a little nervous because it has been over a year since I have worked on any watches.  Successfully extracted a broken mainspring from this 18 size Illinois Watch Co. Bunn Special pocket watch.  Took me awhile, but I finally found and ordered a replacement for it online.  Not out of the woods yet though.  Won't know if there are any other issues until the new mainspring arrives and I install it.  Video tomorrow.  86,107,81,0,B

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Cute as a button...


Tested out the new EZVIZ C6 2K+ indoor camera today.  I was planning on doing a video review too, but there are already some on YouTube that are better than anything I could do.   The C6 is fairly simple to set up and the image quality is really nice, and the slightly faster frame rate mostly eliminates blurring of things in motion.  The horizontal tracking and AI recognition work surprisingly well, but I was kind of expecting it to tilt up and down automatically too.  That has to be done manually (and after thinking about it for a while - that really wouldn't make sense anyway).  For a new user, the menus are a little confusing and tricky to navigate (it took me forever to figure out how to remove the micro-SD card that I put into it).  I think a lot of overseas companies these days send out free products for review and end up with detailed how-to videos posted on YouTube so they don't have to include a manual written in broken English.  One other plus is that the E6 supports 2.4/5GHz dual band Wi-Fi (the Wyze cameras are 2.4 GHz only).  But while my Wyze cameras only shoot up to 1080P as opposed to the C6's 2K, I really like that the Wyze cameras can be programmed for continuous recording and time lapses in advance and as long as you keep it powered up, it will it keep running even from a remote location that is out of wifi range.  For me, time lapse capability is a plus, but I understand that moving the camera out of range probably isn't an issue with a security camera that will most likely get permanently installed in a fixed location.  The C6 image quality at night including color night vision is just as good if not better than the Wyze cameras but until there is an update, the infrared LEDs for night vision can't be turned off on the C6.  All in all, it is a very nice product for the price-point considering the features.  To be honest, I probably wouldn't have purchased this camera to try out had the company not sent it to me for free (thanks EZVIZ!) - but it is a nice deal if you are looking for a great little security camera with the features I mentioned above.   One of their other cameras that I am really interested in is their slightly more expensive C8PF Dual-Lens Weatherproof Pan &Tilt Wi-Fi Camera.  Of course I could write all about that one in a future blog post if they choose to send me one of those as well... 103,110,64,0,C

Monday, June 6, 2022

Ground Station

Successfully downloaded and installed mission planning software 
for the autonomous rover project.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

A tough nut to crack...

Matthew 5:44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Option 3

Already on to option three for the rover project.  Although I have a use for it (it may still be a good test platform for the ESP8266 Mode MCU), I am moving on from the first toy RC car I ordered.  It doesn't play well interference-wise with Wifi, and it won't work with the Radiolink RC6GS long range transmitter that I just got.  So, I ordered this RV crawler due to the price point and good reviews.  A good combination of drive features for a rover project - low speed and high torque.   94,99,68,0,B

Friday, June 3, 2022

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Pool Party


82,90,70, .05",G

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Free Stuff

I guess I've been talking about the Wyze cameras enough to get the attention of another camera manufacturer.  I was contacted by the folks at EZVIZ and they are sending me a free camera to test out and review.  80,105,75, .16",B

Monday, May 30, 2022

Option 2


So the plan is to build an FPV rover (a project that has been on my mind for years thanks to the Mars rovers).  My recent experience with the Wyze cameras got me to thinking about it again.  My first thought was to use the parts I posted a photo of on Friday to enable wifi control of a toy RC car.  The micro controller and motor driver circuits will come in handy (and together they were only 15 bucks) in the event that I progress to the point of attempting to make a rover that is autonomous which is the ultimate goal.  I found some tutorials online that are pretty thorough, but I am not very confident I can get that to work so if I run into a snag, there is another option that seems to make perfect sense for this stage of development.  I already know the Wyze camera is easy to power by battery and works fine over my boosted wifi out to about 500 meters - but the remote control that comes with this rc toy car is only good to about 100 meters.  After doing a little digging on YouTube, I discovered the transmitter above which comes with a receiver that is easy to replace in the toy car and should give me control out to 600 meters - and no programming skills needed.  We shall see... 97,103,65,0,B

Sunday, May 29, 2022


Revelation 3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

up the hill...

From the video description: Funny thing about this video is that you really can't see anything I'm doing to rig this up until the very end. Sorry about that - but I don't feel like re-shooting it. I added a catchy tune for the soundtrack to keep you viewers entertained. This is for a neighbor that I recently did a solar and Starlink install for. We first rigged up his Wyze Cam V3 running it off a 50' extension cord coming from his battery bank and inverter. I have a Wyze Cam V3 that I installed at the end of my driveway, 230 meters from my house. I added a wifi repeater that bumps the signal out that far but no power out there, so I set up a similar system to power mine. I used a 12V / 10 Ah sealed lead acid battery, a 30-watt solar panel, and a cheap PWM charge controller I had on hand. In testing I found that it was a bit overkill (power wise) for the camera, so I have been experimenting with scaling the system smaller. For the system in the video, I used a 12 V / 5 Ah sealed lead acid battery ($15.99), a 10-watt solar panel ($25.99), and another PWM charge controller ($12.31) that I had to buy. The cheap PWM charge controller is nice in that it already has a USB port to plug the camera directly into (plug'n'play). I mounted the charge controller to the battery using silicone calk, electrical tape, and baling wire - and rigged it within a large, inverted coffee can to make it "water proof". In testing the system, I found that the 5 Ah battery worked fine without being drained too much powering the camera overnight and was fully charged again in about 5 hours of full sunlight with the 10 watt solar panel. We get A LOT of sun out here, so this works just fine for me. A larger system will be required to run the camera for extended periods of cloudy days. Comment below if you have any questions. (NOTE: When connecting up any system like this, ALWAYS connect the battery to the charge controller first - then connect the solar panel to the charge controller. There are no fuses in the systems I installed but it is always a good idea to fuse the positive lines for all components. This is NOT a how to do it perfectly right - this is a HOW I DID IT. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK IF YOU FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS.) Battery Solar Panel Charge Controller (You will also need some wire to connect the battery to the charge controller and extra wire if the solar panel is going to be further away from the charge controller.) 99,103,76,0,B

Friday, May 27, 2022

Outside my comfort zone...


hmmm...what are these for?

Thursday, May 26, 2022

just a little smaller...


One more test with the Wyze Cam V3 remote setup.  I found that the 20-watt panel I used in the last test had the 12 volt 5 amp hour battery fully charged within 2 hours as soon as the sun was up so I checked out how a 10 watt panel works today.  Fully charged in 4 hours (which sounds about right) so that works for me.  Going to install the new gear for my neighbor's camera tomorrow - and put away that extension cord.  99,102,57,0,B  

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

State of the water supply...


Been a pretty lean year so far rain-wise.  Less than a half inch since the beginning of 2022.  Checked my tanks this morning and I have 7,900 gallons on tap.  Tank prices have really gone through the roof since then.  When I bought mine 14 years ago, a 3,000 gallon tank from this company was $975 including shipping.  87,91,56,0,B

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Farewell BBT


The cord is finally cut to my old landline.  After 4 months of back and forth with BBT, every cell phone provider, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas, and the FCC - not a single person could explain to me why my landline number from Big Bend Telephone cannot be ported out while the FCC rules on the matter are quite clear.  My old phone number is officially history now.  BBT served me well over the years, but they just cannot compete with my new service providers.  I am quite happy with Starlink broadband internet and my smart phone with Mint Mobile.  Funny thing is...the blue conduit sticking out of the ground with a plug in it was installed with my phone line 14 years ago for a "future fiber optic upgrade".  BBT has finally gotten around to installing fiber in some areas (not mine), but the new service is still dismally slower and more expensive than Starlink.  88,93,60,0,B   

Monday, May 23, 2022

a little rain...

Got a little rain this morning in a heavy (but very brief) storm.  For a while it was looking promising as the rate was over 1/2"/hr.  The only problem is the storm only lasted about 10 minutes.  Forecast by early afternoon today called for another storm around 5PM with up to an inch more rain so I put stuff away and prepped my creek tank gear for some pumping.  Nothing as of 6:30 PM and the forecast is now down to less than a tenth of an inch - if any.  Still a slight chance of something later tonight...fingers crossed.  78,86,66, .14",B

Sunday, May 22, 2022

word of the day...mammon

Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  

Saturday, May 21, 2022

watch this...


Just got this pocket watch sent to me for repair (probable broken mainspring). I was contacted by an old high school buddy whose son inherited the watch. It was given to him this past Easter by his Great Uncle, who said it belonged to his Great Grandfather, a man named Henry Goode Claiborne. The Illinois Watch Company "Bunn Special" is a highly collectable railroad pocket watch. This one is a stem wind / lever set movement - which is set by opening the front crystal and bezel and pulling out the setting-lever. Once the lever is pulled out, the crown can be turned to set the time. The lever is then pushed back in and the crystal and bezel are closed over the dial again. This method of time setting on pocket watches was preferred by American and Canadian railroads, as lever setting watches make accidental time changes impossible. After 1908, lever setting was generally required for new watches entering service on American railroads. The serial number indicates that this watch was manufactured in 1902. 93,100,58,0,B

Friday, May 20, 2022

All carriers delivery day...


Bi-fold closet door via Fed Ex / shelves, solar panel, battery, charge controller via UPS / pocket watch via USPS.  The door and shelves came from Home Depot for a small closet job I am doing locally and cost $120 including free shipping to my door.  I priced them at McCoys and not including my travel time and gas for the 130 mile round trip, they would have cost me $175.  The pocket watch is a repair job I am going to attempt (broken mainspring) for the son of an old high school buddy of mine.  90,96,63,0,B

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Smaller is better?

Another Wyze Cam V3 remote power test coming up - parts arriving tomorrow.  Going to install this system for the neighbor up the hill that I did work for.  Fairly confident now that I can get away with half the amp hour battery capacity and a slightly smaller solar panel to keep his Wyze Cam chugging along 24-7 without having to be plugged into a long extension cord.  98,104,58,0,B

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Dust Storm


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Broadening my horizons...

Field Lab internet making a 1,100-kilometer round trip from space. 
and getting bumped out 500 meters from the router.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Monday moonlight...

Two views of the lunar eclipse last night using 2 Wyze Cameras - one looking north and one looking south. Time lapse on each camera programmed to shoot 4 frames per minute over 8 hours. 97,103,67,0,B

Sunday, May 15, 2022

moral dilemma


"God helps those who help themselves".  This passage is often represented as scripture - but in fact is not found anywhere in the Bible.  However, God will help those who take the first step of accepting Christ.  But asking for God's help is tricky business and how the help arrives is not always evident nor what may appear to be in a timely manner.

Recently a 66-year-old woman bought property right across the road from me.  I had notice someone "camping" on the 5 acre tract for 2 days so I contacted a local realtor to ask if someone had purchased the property.  I was told that "a very nice lady who used to live in Alpine bought it".  With that information, I went over to meet her and introduce myself.  There were numerous "red flags" popping up within minutes of talking to her.  She shared a lot of conflicting information about where she came from and told me she was planning on living there full time in a tent with no electricity.  I told her that was virtually impossible and at the very least she will need some kind of structure, some solar, and phone service in case of emergencies.  I also told her the vehicle she was driving was not at all appropriate for this area - a small black Hyundai sedan with highway tires and very low clearance.  It appeared to me that she has been living out of her car for some time.  She insisted she knew what she was doing and would be perfectly fine.

Over the course of a week, she spent the days just sitting in her black car with the doors open in 100+ degree daytime temperatures.  I don't think she even ran the engine to run the air conditioner (if it even worked).  She finally assembled a small tent on the third day but from what I could tell from that far away, I think she only used it to sleep in at night.  She didn't even have the ability to construct some shade over her vehicle with a dark grey tarp that she had.  A Brewster County Sheriff's Office deputy checked on her 3 times to try to convince her this was not a good idea.  He couldn't do anything else because she was on her own property.

So how can I help someone when they show absolutely no common sense for such a dire situation?   I'm talking none-zero-zilch.  I thought about this a lot.  Really the only thing I could have done for her was show her how to erect some shade over her car - but all she had was the dark grey tarp which would have been useless in providing any cooling.  Really - anything I could have done for this poor woman would have only enabled a hopeless situation.  That being said: after watching her spend her days just sitting in the black car with the doors open and wondering each morning if she was even still alive, I took her two gallons of chilled water late in the afternoon on her 5th day.  When I gave it to her, I bluntly said, "You have no business being out here.  You need to leave.  You are going to f*cking die out here because if you think it's hot now - just wait till it's over 110°!"   She just brushed it off and still insisted she was fine and asked me if I was going to town anytime soon.  I just walked away without answering her.  The next day she suffered through yet another day just sitting in her car (it got up to 103°).  

The following morning just as I was about to call Adult Protective Services, I saw her drive away.  APS investigates abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults who are elderly or have disabilities and who live in the community.  Any adult who has a disability or is age 65 or older that is in a state of abuse, neglect or exploitation may be eligible to receive services - such as short-term shelter, home repairs, food, transportation, managing money, medical care, home healthcare services, and mental health services.  (I'm not sure if this woman is just naive, incredibly stupid, or has some mental health issues.)  Two days later, she was still gone but her tent had completely collapsed and there was a huge thunderstorm heading this way.  I was just going let it be as it was but decided to send a message to the realtor she bought the property from.  Not knowing if this women was ever coming back for the stuff she left on the property, I told the realtor if she was in contact with the women to tell her that I am going to go collect her tent and her belongings and bring them back to my place for safe keeping in case the storm hits and that she can stop by and collect the items when she comes back.  

So the storm ended up petering out and we just got a sprinkle.  Early that evening, two deputies showed up at my place and the woman was back at her property.  She had gotten the message I sent to the realtor and asked the deputy to come get her stuff from me.  The deputies both agreed with my assessment of her situation but at this point there was still nothing they could do about it.  He also told me that the women said she wanted nothing more to do with me (not a thank you for saving her stuff from the storm).  It should be noted that had the storm hit, most likely neither the woman nor the deputies would have even been able to make it out my road that evening.

The deputies left and a little while later the woman drove off and didn't return until sometime later that night.  So now we are up to yesterday.  She spent the entire day just sitting in her black car yet again (got up to 102°) - without bothering to put her tent back up.  This morning she drove off after putting up a no trespassing sign next to her pile of a tent and whatever else she left there.  I have no idea what her plans are at this point.  Perhaps she got the message?   I guess I will try calling APS if she returns.  How her help arrives certainly may not be immediately evident to her, but hopefully it will be timely enough to save her life.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Thanks, Elon

(Skip ahead to the 13 minute mark for the launch.)
SpaceX's 13th launch of Starlink satellites this year...bringing the total number of satellites so far for 2022 to 656.  Due to a geomagnetic storm that occurred on February 4 (a day after the 3rd launch of the year), 38 of the 49 satellites from that mission failed and ultimately burned up in the earth's atmosphere.  As of May 2022, the Starlink internet satellite constellation consists of over 2,200 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers.  Today was a new record for SpaceX in that they successfully launched 2 Starlink missions within 24 hours.  Yesterday's launch happened from their west coast facility and was the 5th mission for that particular Falcon 9 booster.  Today's group of satellites rode into space from Florida on a brand-new Falcon 9 and marked the 111th successful recovery of a first stage booster by SpaceX.  Note: It takes about 6 weeks after launch for Starlink satellites to reach operational orbit.  93,102,62,0,B

Friday, May 13, 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

the long view


Test with the new gear to remotely power the Wyze Cam V3 was a success.  Now that I know it works for sure, I'm going to permanently install it out at the end of the driveway.  Next up, I am going to replace my wanky indoor wifi extender with a better model that is rated for outdoor use.  88,101,71,0,B

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Monday, May 9, 2022

Pigs in love...


I would say the javelinas are getting a little too comfortable being around me...99,104,59,0,B

Sunday, May 8, 2022


Psalms 111 & 112 is an acrostic poem, 
the lines of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Identified Flying Object


The neighbor that I did some work for on his vacation getaway out here lives full time in Houston.  He got this alert on his cell phone this morning from the Wyze Cam V3 that I installed.  98,103,56,0,B

Friday, May 6, 2022



Plant growing time lapse coming Monday...

Thursday, May 5, 2022

I spoke too soon...

Every now and then, someone actually comes through with a helpful suggestion in the comments.  Thanks to MountainManMike's assistance in the comments yesterday, my weather station if alive again on Weather Underground.   88,94,63,0,B