New House

Yesterday, I bought a house. Today, I am in Rhode Island and the Provodence Plantations on a business trip. Kinda makes it sound like buying a house is a trivial thing for me, doesn’t it?


I made the offer back in February!

The new place is a raised ranch with an english basement in Carpentersville IL. All that is Realtorese for a ranch style house 4 feet up in the air with a basement wedged underneith that you can have bedrooms in. It’s kinda awkward looking on the outside.


Its a three or 4 bedroom (depends on if you consider the tiny dinning room a bedroom because it has a closet and carpeting) with a full bath upstairs and half bath downstairs. The downstairs bath has room to add a shower – it is in the demolition stage of renovation currently. Adding 2 walls would make it a 6 bedroom, with a basement family room still. Another wall would make an awkward shaped 7th bedroom if needed. We looked at the house before we bought it and made shure we could make it work even if we had a good number of kids.


The kitchen is brand new. Granate countertops, new stainless appliances, gas stove. There’s even an upright freezer in the basement! We loved the kitchen, it was the “we love this house” item and out weighed the shortcomings.



The bathroom is new too and done up nice.

The living room is nice and big. The laminate floors goes throughout the upstairs (not the bedrooms). The window is a west window, so the tv has to be in the right spot or glare is going to be a problem.


The entry steps comes up into the kitchen/livingroom intersection. I want to put the big fish tank there. I will need to build a shelf or something in the basement to hide the support columns I would like to add so I don’t warp the floor from all the weight.

The bedrooms are small, and closet space is severly lacking. Two big bedrooms upstairs and one down. The downstairs one will be the guest bedroom. They all need paint and the upstairs ones need carpet.

The yard is small, and two narrow, so the 2 car garage is behind the house and you only have room to get one car to it. So they made it a 1.5 car garage with a covered patio. So cool! This made the small yard feel so much bigger. The garage may never have a car parked in it – it will have my tools and boat. I will finally have room to make things again!image There is a spot for the garden, but its too grown over with trees to be any good for growing anything anymore. So the garden will need to go out into the main backyard area where there is more sun. This is fine by me as I am not a big fan of the waste of resources that grass is.

Sliding Glass Door Insulation

I have a leaky sliding glass door. No, water doesn’t poor in every time it rains, cold air comes in. I don’t know why, by my apartment sucks – it pulls air in from the outside.

So, I decided to insulate my sliding glass door. I looked at the sliding glass door insulation kits for $13, but that renders the door useless. I thought about doing just the glass, but that doesn’t really stop the leaks, just reduces the cold air falling off the window from being in contact with such a large, cold surface.

So, I build a double pain, plastic door.

Using my favorite stuff… Duct tape!

temporary wooden frameI used a bit of scrap lumber I had to build the frame. I had kept a bundle of edge that got trimmed of some one-by at some point in the past.

duct tape joints in a temporary wooden frameThe joints are just duct taped together. This is a temporary structure, so it’s fine by me.

duct tape hinge in a temporary wooden frameI created a duct tape hinge by leaving a gap in the wood when I taped it together. This allows the joint to hinge. Clever, I think.

double sided tape weather strippingI have moved this messed up roll of double sided tape, foam weather stripping from WI, to FL, to IL. I am such a packrat. It is a sickness. I can make cool things by scrounging around in a closet. **grin**

winter insulated sliding glass door Here, I have the whole set up installed. The window isn’t usable for looking out anymore, but that’s not a big deal, the drainage ditch in the yard and street aren’t that grand of a vista anyhow.

hooks used to hold the frame to the wall I used some small hooks to hold my contraption to the wall. I just screw them down until I can twist them and they will hold the frame snug. I used the weather stripping for both sealing and also shimming the frame out so the hooks would hold it snuggly. I put these around the right hand half, including on top.

hooks used to hold the frame to the wallOn the left hand side, by the slider, I put just a single hook. I use this as the ‘latch’ as I can give it a quick twist, and the frame can open up on my duct-tape hinges. I can now use the sliding glass door, even though it’s covered in 2 layers of plastic sheeting.

How cool is that? (ugly as sin, too, isn’t it?)

The blinds close to hide the whole thing, so it look just fine from the inside.

Finishing the TV antenna

While I was at my parents, and making my cat annoyer, I also made the backplane to my Home made Digital TV antenna. This is just a reflector for the antenna to give it better gain.

homemade digital TV antenna It’s actually a little short, but I didn’t want to pay the $6 difference for the taller wire mesh.

straight view of the DIY digital TV antenna It needs to all turn white or something, as it’s visually kinda dominating the room.

Looking up at my homebrew digital TV antenna  It needs to be tipped away from the wall a little bit to get the right angle to point towards Chicago to get the towers. It does reject Rockford and DeKalb stations quite strongly though, but alas, that is it’s design.

Burnt out florescent lamp

The living room light burnt out last week. This weekend, I picked up a new 3-way bulb for it. When I went to take the old one out, look what I found.

It looks a we-bit shot. Broken. I wonder if this is a fire hazard?

Stolen GPS

Last night my GPS was stolen out of my trucklet.

Entirely my fault to!
I had picked up a few essentials at WalMart, unlocked all the doors and put them in the back seat. I was waiting on a guy to get home so I could pick up an Oscar fish from FreeCycle. I called him, still at work, so I decided to wander around Walmart to kill some time until he got off work.
I locked my door how I always do. The lock touches my knuckle when I open the door, so I just lock it as I push the door open. Quick, Easy, and I always lock the door when I get out of my vehicle. The trucklet locks all the doors every time you drive it, so all is good in the world. Except, I had unlocked all doors since I had last driven. DOH!
Somebody musta tried the passenger side door and grabbed my GPS. Nothing else. Not the Nokia 770, bluetooth headsets, power inverter, winter coat with radio scanner, FM power transmitter, etc. Just the GPS.
I called the cops, filed a report. We where hoping that Walmart security camera got it on film. Nope.
I went home to get the serial number so they could check with craigslist & pawnshops.
You know how I am a packrat. I keep everything. Boxes included. Wouldn’t you know, I tossed the box a month ago? I kept all the paperwork, expecting the serial number and such to be on the warranty card, etc. No card, no serial number. How frustrating.
There could be several lessons learned here:
  • Don’t leave GPS out in plain site
  • Always lock all the doors and not just mine
  • Never, ever throw anything away. Ever. I always seem to need it a month later.
  • Keep a google spreadsheet document with all the serial numbers of all the electronics I have.

So, I have a problem and I intend to fix it.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the GPS could tell me where it is.
Wouldn’t it be cool if I could take my own photo of the theif?

This got me to thinking…

I’ve been wanting to build a security system for my trucklet ever since the ‘OEM’ unit was installed in mine. It royaly sucks!

I haven’t done it because it would be pretty spendy – I really want a cell based internet connection for it so I can ask the truck where it is, it can tell me where it is, and send me photos of who’s driving it, etc. I can’t justify $50 a month for a internet connection even if I can use google maps on the fly on a computer I would replace the stereo with.

A little thinking ‘outside’ the box, I think I found my solution. It’s 2 peices, but I didn’t find anybody that has put them together like I want to.

An Eye-Fi Pro is an SDHC memory card with a built wi-fi card. It will take photos that are saved to it, geocode them, and upload them. How cool is that? You don’t have to stick the card into the computer to get your photos.
For $15 a year, it will connect to a paid, public wifi connections including the ones at McDonalds. My data-plan woes are now addressed, $15 a year is very reasonable!

The other half is the camera. A search revealed the following.

A Defender STEALTH1 Covert Security DVR w/ Hidden Surveillance Camera. It is a motion detector with a built in camera. It can take photos and video which it saves the the memory card.

The freaking awesomeness comes when you combine the two together. You now have a motion detection surveillance camera that automatically uploads photos to a place where you can see them when your away from home. No wires to run half way across the house, just plug it into the nearest power outlet. It can email, text, or even twitter you when it’s triggered. It runs for 17 hours on battery if the power goes out. Put your modem and router on a battery back up, and your set!

How sweet is that?

I got to thinking, all the motion detector is, is a hunter’s trail camera in a house-friendly looking enclosure.

I can get one of these for the trucklet instead. I was going to shell the camera unit out and install it into the dash anyhow, so why not use a cheaper camera that does the same thing?

So, for around $260 I can either build a really slick house security camera or one that I can cut into the dash of my trucklet that works anywhere.



  • Nice looking ‘normal’ security motion sensor.
  • Automatic uploading of photos/video using home network.
  • Ability to view photos even if home computer or security camera itself is stolen!
  • Notification of events via email, text, twitter.



  • Less expensive camera that I can take apart to install into vehicle
  • Automatic uploading of photos/video using home network or any of 10,000 public wifi accesspoints.
  • Geocoding of photos.
  • Ability to view photos even if they steal the vehicle – they just need to slowly drive/park near a wifi access point.
  • Notification of events via email, text, twitter.

Now, to find a few extra hundred dollars, because I need a GPS, a couple of motion camera, and a couple of memory cards….