Monthly Archives: October 2011

Cutting timber for the deck

Progress on the deck has been a little slow, but is getting there.

Recently I went to the local hardware store and purchased all the wood I need for the first set of joists and bearers. The idea is that I build something that resembles a hand rail at the front of the deck, then a similar thing at the back and then a frame that sits on top of it. Then I cover everything with decking boards and I’m done. Easy right?

Anyway, when I purchased some of the other materials, I also bought a drop saw. This I knew would make things a lot easier and only cost $87 (Ozito from Bunnings), so was worth the investment. I then went about drawing up plans on how I would actually put all the wood together.

The first thing I needed to do was measure up the lengths of timber needed for the joists (upright supports). Not too difficult because I had the stirrups there already. The first thing I wanted to measure was the corner joist, it makes it easier to then measure out the other lengths needed. I picked a number that seemed about right and used the sitting part of a chair as a height guide. The magic number was 500 (mm).

From there I needed to go up the garden where the slope was the most severe. The next joist would have to be smaller, but I didn’t know how much smaller. For this I approximated heights for the next three joists being lower than the original one. I also assumed that the back fenceline ones would be fairly equal.

Then to measure the bearers – those that ran along the top of the joists. Again, pretty easy because the distance between the joists can be easily measured by using the stirrups as guides. I measured the distance between the stirrups, added 90mm each side (the width of the joists) and then added 10% for wastage. It turned out in the end that adding the 10% was an awesome idea – you can always cut short, but not long.

Based on the above measurements, I worked out exactly how much wood I would need. Now, I went a little too nerdy on this step and mathematically predicted the combinations of each length in respect to the available lengths at the hardware shop. I labelled each joist from 1 to 6 and each bearer a letter from A to E. To be honest, piecing the lengths together to get the most efficient way actually ended up with me saving $40, so the exercise was worth it.

Once I got all the measurement set (ended up with 3 lengths of timber – 1 x 90mm by 90mm for the joists, 2 x 45mm by 90mm for the bearers – all treated pine) I went to the hardware shop and picked up the timber. Then back at my house I set up the drop saw in the garage and started cutting!!

Hi tech stuff, huh? Milk crates for saw horses and a box for a workbench. Meh, it worked, okay!

So anyway, I measured out the 90 by 90 and made the first cut. That was my base joist (3). Then I cut the bearer that would sit on it and bridge to the next joist on the slope (C). The reason I did this was so that I could work out the exact size of the next joist. For this I needed an extra person and my wife helped me out. I sat the joist in the stirrup in the corner and then rested the bearer on top of it. By lifting the opposite end (to the end on the joist) I could makes sure the bearer was 100% level. I used a spirit level sitting on top of the bearer to do this.

When it was level, all I had to do was measure the distance from the bottom of the bearer to the ground inside the stirrup. That gave me the height of the next joist. I then went and cut that joist and continued the process until I had all the joists on the slope done. Then I did the same thing for the other joists.

What I did find was that the ground sloped a lot more than I thought. I also found that the back part I thought was fairly level actually raised up. This meant that I came very close to the full dimensions of the amount of timber I had, but it worked out okay. If you’re a little short on the height for the joists, it’s okay, because my plan was to set them up a little off the ground anyway and the bolts allowed for this.

Once all the timber was cut, I labelled each joist and bearer as mentioned before so I could easily put it all together as required (tab A goes into slot B) and there was no confusion. None of this part of the deck will be seen, it will all be covered by the decking boards so I could write big letters/numbers and not worry. After I labelled everything I put them all sitting in place where they would be eventually fastened to ensure it looked right. I put a chair next to them to assess the final height (keeping in mind that there were still the frame and boards to go on top of the bearers).

Happy with all of that, the next step was to start bolting the joists in place and then attaching the bearers on top. I’m not going to go into the method itself in this post as I will cover it in a lot more detail in the next post. However, suffice to say that I managed two joists bolted in solidly before the light and my body got the better of me.

Next post, finishing the front frame… pictorial style!

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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Decking [COMPLETE]


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Poweriser progress

Okay, I’m getting better at getting around on the powerisers. I’ve had a few goes now and I have some footage to prove it. Below you will find some links to You Tube vids and some pics. More as I do more. 🙂

Check out the You Tube vids:

First time –

Jogging –

Loving it !!!!!


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Poweriser Bag

Okay, I love my powerisers. However it’s a bit of a pain to transport them around because they’re heavy and bulky. I really want a bag to carry them in, but the ones you can buy on the net are expensive and not exactly what I’m after. Therefore, I have decided to make my own.

In the next few posts coming up I will take you through the sewing process for the bag and of course, the end result. In the mean time, I have started planning how to make the bag.

The idea is that it will be made of pretty durable material, preferably water resistant, with padding inside to protect the powerisers from hitting each other. I’ve done some rough sketches working out how I’m going to do this.

Doesn’t make much sense at the moment, but it will come together soon…. Stay tuned!


Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Powerisers (jumping stilts), Sewing


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Quinoa Bolognaise

A quick an easy recipe. I made it last night and decided to take some photos while I did.

This recipe is all about a cheap and easy meal that feeds thousands. It’s pretty much your standard Spaghetti Bolognaise, but with quinoa instead of meat.

First things first – boil some pasta. I put in a packet and a half (500g pkt) which was way too much, but left overs are great.

I had preboiled some quinoa (2 cups quinoa, 6 cups water, 6 teaspoon of powdered vege stock) and took out a couple of cups worth – there would have been about 3 cups left. Next I grabbed some leftovers from burrito night (but any vegetable matter will do) and a bottle of pasta sauce and a tin of diced tomatoes that were left in the cupboard. And a few herbs and seasoning…

Just so you know, that’s pineapple, grated carrot, corn, celery and the quinoa in the background.

Then once the pasta was cooked, I put it in a steamer and left it in the sink to drain. I through the vege ingredients into a hot frying pan and fried them a little, then chucked in the quinoa and heated it up as well. After that that diced tomatoes went in, got mixed up and then I added the pasta sauce. I gave it all a really good stir and then added the parsley and vege stock (just a sprinkle of each).

Once it was thoroughly mixed up, I threw the pasta in and mixed it all together after turning off the frying pan. When it was all nicely mixed up, I spoon out some into a bowl, added a little grated cheese on top and sat down with a bottle of Jolt Cola. 🙂

So, the funny thing is that I made HEAPS. To give you an idea on exactly how much I did make, here is a picture of what I ended up with.

So to give you scale, the non pasta containers have exactly one cup of quinoa in each. I then have three lunches with cheese on top (on the left), the two empty bowls for dinner that were eaten (rear left) and two massive containers with more leftovers – the one with the blue lid will be my dinner tonight, the stuff in the red container will be made into quinoa bolognaise pasta bake. 😀

I figure that this meals would have to be only a dollar or two per serving and makes heaps. Cheap, easy, quick – win.

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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Recipes


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Drawing 24th October

Alright, much better night. There was a new model I hadn’t seen before and I was drawing really well. Anyway, got some good practice done (mostly from two minute poses), but couldn’t stay too late. I have added a kinda of sepia filter to some of these pics when I uploaded them cause I thought it looked cooler.

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Drawing


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Drawing 17th October

Okay, straight up I gotta say I had a crap night. All inspiration left me and I just sucked. Every drawing was bad, but I guess there are days like that. The only one worth mentioning was…

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Drawing


I have them!

Finally got the powerisers. I had them delivered to work.

Firstly, before I gush all over my blog in excitement, I have to say that I’m very impressed with Weirder the Better where I bought the powerisers. Graham told me he would have them to me by Friday and I had them around 3 on Friday afternoon. Had them on at 3:02.

Alright, so the box arrived….

They came fully assembled…

So I had a really good look at them for a minute or so…

Then I had to try them on. However, I decided that trying them OUT was not a great idea in the office, so you’ll have to wait for the next post to see the results from the first steps…


Getz connected to the head unit

Alright, now for the latest instalment. Firstly, I need to precursor this post by saying that I had very limited time to do this. Knowing that in advance is a good thing. The reason I mention it is that there are a few steps in here that wouldn’t need to be done, but I have because it means that I could pack everything up and return the car if I had to.

So, that said, I’m now at a point where I need to connect the amp to the front speakers and the head unit to the amp. Now, the way it works is that the head unit sends the music as a signal to the speakers. I want to introduce the amp into that loop, so I want the head unit to send the signal to the amp and the amp to them send the signal (amplified) to the speakers. (Not: Head Unit = the stereo unit, the place where you put the CDs etc)

The car currently has a wire that goes from the stereo to the speaker. I need to put a new wire from the stereo to the amp. Then I need to put a new wire from the amp to the speaker. However, if you think about it, I don’t really need to rewire the whole car. I can just tap into the wire going from the head unit to the speaker!

With that in mind, the idea of this post is to show how I’ve inserted two wires (per speaker) into the head unit area to by tap into the existing wiring. I will also make sure that it works (and be able to return the car on time with a working stereo) by temporarily connecting the two wires at the amp – that is the stereo to amp wire and the amp to speaker wire. Essentially I’m just lengthening the cables.

The first thing I had to do was pull out the headunit. To make this and future steps for this section easier, I also pulled out the chairs and centre console, which I can do in about 30 seconds now. See previous posts for instructions.

The headunit wasn’t too difficult to get out. To start with, the best way I found to do it was to get at it from the glove box. To do that…

  1. Remove all stuff from the glovebox. All of it. Otherwise, when you do the next couple of steps, anything left inside will be unceremoniously dumped on the floor.
  2. With the glovebox open, find the rubber stoppers on the left and right hand sides that keep the glovebox from falling open.
  3. A plastic square inside the glovebox corresponds with the rubber stoppers – get a fingernail under one of these and you’ll find it comes up pretty easy. (tip – don’t put pressure on the glovebox to do this)
  4. Gently pull the plastic square away from the wall of the glovebox and at the same time, push the rubber stopper from the other side. Rotate the plastic part a little as you go and you’ll find that it will come out pretty easily.
  5. Once both stoppers are removed the glovebox hangs nicely down out of the way, exposing a hole where you can stick you hand in to get to the stereo.

Now, for the next part you want to have really small hands – if you don’t prepare to get cuts and scrapes on your hands and arm. Stick you’re hand in the gap and locate the back of the head unit by feel. Gently push on it and see if it will come out. Also feel for the connectors that go into the back of the head unit.

There are two little metal clips on either side of the unit, not very big, but they are supposed to hold the head unit in. With something large and flat (eg butter knife or metal ruler or something) gently slip it down the side of the head unit from the outside, while pushing from the back of the unit. What you’re trying to do is disengage the clips on the side. It’s not too difficult, just be careful not to scratch anything on the outside. 

Once these clips come undone, you’ll find the unit will only push so far. You will need to disconnect one of the clips at the back of the unit for it to actually come out. When it does, just let it hang there.

Below is a close(r) up photo of the panel on the top of the head unit. This is a good one because it gives you the information about which wire goes where. We’ll need to know that when we connect the wires.

So, speaking of wires, it’s time to put the wires through. First task – cut the wire.

I said that there needs to be a wire from the stereo to the amp and then from the amp to the speaker for each speaker. This means 4 sets of wiring (8 if you count the positive and the negative separately). To measure how long each wire should be, get one length right first and then cut the others to the same size. We can o this by running the wire from the head unit (on the outside is fine) to the amp. Make sure it’s really slack so it accounts for bends and such.

Remember, longer is always better – you can cut it shorter, but you can’t cut it longer.

Two things first on best practice. Number 1 – the squarish wire should be positive and the roundish wire should be negative. If they are the same it doesn’t matter, but if that’s the case (and even if it isn’t), Number 2 – label all your wires.

A bit of electrical tape wrapped around the end of the wire is fine for labelling and avoids mistakes and uncertainty. The way I found easy to do this is to put the strips of tape on your jeans leg and then write on the with a sharpie (permanent marker).

The abbreviations I’ve used should be pretty straight forward…. plus or minus for positive (+) and negative (-), L or R for left and right (speakers) and then from the head unit to the amp (to amp) and from the amp to the speaker (to spkr). To make sure I put these on the right wires, I laid them out on the roof to see them all at once and then went through and labelled them.

This way it’s pretty easy to make sure that the positive on one end is the positive on the other end. You’ll need to do two sets of labels from what you saw of my leg above – one for each end of the wire.

Once you’ve done that (and I know it takes ages, but it will help down the track, trust me), we need to put all these wires in the same place, so we can tie them all together. I found that a bit of pvc tape wrapped around them at intervals is enough.

Beautiful. Now all we need to do is put it in place. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Next we need to connect the wires up. So, I keep going on about this, but the flow is headunit – amp – speakers. I’m going to take the amp bit out of it so I can test that everything works okay. I’ve also run out of time and need to put the car back together so this will hold in the short term, allowing the owner to use the system.

First we need tools!

You probably know the wire strippers and screwdriver, but the lego block looking thing is a wire connector. The idea is that the two wires are inserted into either side and then secured with a screw. Not the best way to connect them, but a good temporary way. I’ll be using these to connect all the wires at this stage so that I can make sure everything is working properly and then I can replace the connectors with twist, solder and heatshrink.

First, at the amp, use the wire strippers to… unh… strip the wires.

Then we want to find the Left Positive wires – there should be two – one to the amp and one to the amp and one to the speakers. We want to connect those two together.

Above you can see (well, in a blurry way) where I’ve connected both the positive to positive and negative to negative on the left speaker. Do the same for the right speaker as well.

Then once that’s done, let’s go to the head unit. At the headunit, find the coloured wire that corresponds with the wire we’re inserting. Ideally we’re splicing the wires into where the current wire is. Therefore, cut the wire, strip it and the connect one end (at the headunit) labelled “to amp” and the connect the other end of the coloured wire to the wire labelled “to spkr”. this basically brings the amp into the loop, uses existing wiring and should be great for us to test it’s all good. Use the diagram I had a picture up of earlier explaining what each colour is so you don’t get them mixed up. Check and double check as many times as you need to because it will be a pain to find out which one isn’t working if you have problems.

Clearly it goes green, red, orange, blue. I tried to keep both sides the same to make it a little easier. I know I haven’t used all of the connector space, but that’s fine. Remember these are temporary until we go through and solder/twist/heatshrink the actual wires. But if all goes well, we should have a fully functioning stereo the same as before, but with extra wire in there. 🙂

Last step is to tidy up all the wires so nothing gets accidentally pulled out. Then cable tie them and test. Did it work? Awesome. We can put the car back together and next time connect power to the amp!! If it didn’t work, go through and check each of the wires and ensure they are all connected properly and that the right wires went to the right places.

Catch you in the next post where we connect power to the amp !!! Almost done. 😀


Life Drawing 10 October, 2011

This drawing night only had one model and she was new to the group, but she did really well. I got a few good ones, the best are shown below. I also zoomed in on the head of one of the drawings because I thought it turned out well…

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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Drawing


Finishing Drainage

Okay, my last update post was the concreting of the drainage. I put a bunch of rocks and stuff to backfill the hole and the next step was to go through and fill that hole with dirt.

Now, I probably should have concreted it, but to be honest the concreting is a horrible job and it got a fair bit of support from the post stirrups, so I didn’t think it needed the extra effort.

Once I found a day when it wasn’t raining, I went through and used the dirt I had dug out of the hole to fill it back in again. I kept the plastic on to do this so I wasn’t pouring heaps of dirt back into the drain. As I filled the hole, I stomped on it with my shoe so that it would pack down a bit and then kept filling until it hit the level (more or less).

Then once that was done, I went through and I removed the plastic. I was happy with the result as the drain grates were a little dusty, but no signs of concrete. I think the whole plastic wrapping exercise was 100% worth the extra time I spent doing it.

The other reason why I just used dirt is that there will be a front on the deck which will be level with the drainage grate (but still leaving enough room to remove the grate to take out leaves). This means that I will then backfill behind that front to add weight to the dirt there already. This should give an even more stable base for the drainage.

Okay, so now that the drainage is complete, the next step is to start building the frame…

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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Decking [COMPLETE]

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