how to build a wheelchair ramp

a couple of weeks ago, i built a wheelchair ramp. there are all sorts of codes and regulations for how one should build a wheelchair ramp. make sure to follow your local laws. if a wheelchair ramp is to be connected directly to a structure, you have to go to your city’s city planning office and get permits and show plans and the whole nine yards.

two great resources i used were the metropolitan center for independent living and the dallas ramp project. i based my design loosely on the dallas ramp project’s design and improvised once i got on site. everybody says that the maximum slope for a wheelchair ramp should be 1:12, but after having made a 1:15 ramp, i still think that is too steep. if you are building a wheelchair ramp and you can spare the room, go conservative! 1:15, at least, 1:20 is even better.

i wish i took a picture of the completed ramp, but i didn’t have my camera with me. it’s been a while since i have done any woodworking, but i really enjoyed it. it was pretty fun. i’m ready now to make my arcade cabinet. i just need to find some place that carries the MDF that i need. the local home depot and OSH both don’t!

new microwave installed

the microwave that came with the house was an over the range microwave complete with an exhaust fan. it was the original microwave that comes with the house, aged about 9 years. it just stopped heating things one day and so the hunt for a new microwave began.

since we got a stainless steel refrigerator, we decided to get a stainless steel microwave. let me tell ya, the exact same microwave that comes in white or black will cost you an additional $50-100 just because it has a stainless steel front. ugh.

so now our kitchen looks like it is slowly morphing from a white appliance kitchen to stainless steel. the stove and oven are probably next on my list of things to replace. i wonder if i can replace them myself. it looks kind of hard. i would love to replace our stove, though. that sort of sounds expensive.

installing the microwave was no small feat. i was hoping that all GE microwaves used the same mounting plate, but when i removed the old microwave and tried to install the new microwave, i realized that the mounting plate was different with different holes.

our back splash is made out of tile so drilling new holes through tile without the proper tools can be quite difficult. as it turned out, i didn’t have the right tools. a trip to home depot later, i had the right drill bit and made the new holes. the rest of the install was pretty easy and we now have a new, working microwave complete with rotating tray! it’s very exciting because our old microwave didn’t have one. it’s like we’re in modern times or something!

ebay flash triggers

i purchased a set of ebay RF flash triggers and they came in the mail last week. i gave them a test run over the weekend and they work fabulously. i have read about people who have complained about them misfiring, but so far i haven’t had any misfire issues. they say that particularly with the canon 580EX, there are misfiring issues. i don’t have a 580EX, but i’ll borrow paul’s later to see if that really is the case.

what i didn’t gather from the pictures of these units is just how small they really are. they are tiny! the only thing that i’m not fond of is that they don’t have a tightening latch on the hot shoe, so i can’t secure them to my umbrella mounts. there must be some kind of part somewhere in the world that will solve this issue for me, but i haven’t looked into it yet.

the triggers work as advertised, though, i haven’t tested range or how well they work around corners yet. i am hoping to bring with me the triggers and a flash with me to hawaii, so i’ll be sure to post some pictures of how that all turns out. i really hope that the super clamps that i ordered come in soon. i also plan to get some ball bungees from walmart. i’ve never seen them, so i don’t know where they would be, but we’ll see!

the big day

today is the big day! i think all of the wedding preparations are pretty much done. it’s almost noon, and i’ve got another 2 hours to get ready and then it’s gonna be pretty much NON-STOP. go here. stand there. say i do. walk. it’s a lot of work!

ok, time for me to get myself married!

A-DATA 16GB Compact Flash review

thinking about getting the A-Data 16GB Compact Flash? i don’t blame you. at about $130, it’s the cheapest CF you can buy right now, at about half the cost of a sandisk extreme III 16GB card. so what are you missing at half the cost? speed.

this is going to really depend now on what application this CF is going to be used for. if you have a high performance camera (read: Canon 1D type body, for example) then this card is going to be glacierifically slow. how slow you ask? in my Canon 5D, i can burst about 16 RAW images before the internal buffer fills up. after that, i can take another raw picture about once every 6 seconds. just to give a little perspective, the already VERY SLOW hitachi 4GB microdrive can take a new RAW image once every 3 seconds after the internal buffer fills up.

i didn’t bother with JPGs because the 5D can buffer up to 60 images before the card limits you…and i don’t think i’ve ever taken 60 continuous images in a practical application. my camera is just too slow to fill up the buffer when i’m shooting JPG.

so, the question is, is this card worth it? if you don’t have a crazy machine gun-like SLR, absolutely. for point and shoots? if your camera can address that much space, absolutely. for those with inbetween cameras like me, it’s a judgment call. if you need high performance, errr, let’s face it, decent performance from your memory card, this is probably not the one for you. but if you are a casual shooter like me and use some discretion when picking your shots, you should be more than happy with this super inexpensive CF. it’s my primary card, it could be yours too.

black straws snoot – the construction and first use

constructing the black straw snoots was much more time consuming than i had anticipated. i ran into many obstacles. my first obstacle was the lack of proper tools. but before i get too far ahead of myself, perhaps i should explain just what a black straws snoot really is.

simply put, it is an attachment added to a flash that will make your flash output a tighter beam of light. this accessory for your flash can be used to create a spotlight effect. this is good for creating dramatic lighting. after i play with it a little more, i’ll show some examples.

now, apparently, there are snoots that are commercially available that you can buy. i don’t know about you, but, for me, making your own snoot is just cool.

so, anyway, it’s an accessory for photographer’s flashes. ok, great. i thought i had the tools that i needed, and i thought that i could do without a ruler, but you really, really need a ruler. i tried to do it with a tape measure, but it was just too hard. so i went out to longs and bought a 79 cent ruler. worth. every. penny. at least! i had some cardstock lying around and used that instead of the cereal box cardboard. looking back on it, i think the cereal box cardboard may be better suited for this, but i don’t eat cereal.

i actually made the colored version of the black straws snoot which basically allows for a color filter to be installed in the snoot. i built the snoots for my canon 550EX. i built 2 snoots, a 2cm length straw and a 5cm length straw. the 2cm snoot needed about 12 black straws. the 5cm length straw required (shockingly) about 30 straws. i hear that you can get black straws from panera bread or boston market. i haven’t tried boston market, but the panera bread that i went to had plenty. they are individually wrapped straws. let me say that again. individually wrapped! talk about such a waste of resources.

the measurements for my 550EX were a little different from the directions on the lighting mods web site. mine were 1cm, 4.5cm, 7.4cm, 4.5cm, 7.4cm x (6cm and 9cm) to fit the 550EX. it fits quite snugly.

i used a hot glue gun, ruler, straws, black duct tape, and cardstock paper. the black duct tape is optional, but it sure does give the snoot a little bit more credibility and it ups the coolness factor. many people use gaffers tape, but i kind of like the shine of the black duct tape.

the next, tedious step, is to cut the straw to the right length. let me tell you, trying to cut 2cm pieces of straw is a lot harder than you would think. so you cut a bunch of 2cm straws and then you are ready to glue.

let me talk a little bit about glue. glue is something that i don’t use very often. in fact, the last time that i used glue was a long time ago when i first moved into the house and i was changing the shower head. the shower head had an attachment that you glued to the wall. that was months ago. before that, i don’t recall when i used glue. it’s been that long.

so when it came to putting this snoot together, i bought some glue. actually, i bought two types of glue. elmer’s glue, which is very slow drying and i found to be a little too cumbersome for this task. i needed a glue that was quicker to harder, but still easy to work with that would not melt the straws. some solvent based glues might just melt away at the straws.

i decided to try using a hot glue gun. i’ve never really used a hot glue gun before, but i figured it couldn’t be that hard to use. boy was i wrong. it is actually quite hard to use. i was making a mess, burning myself, and gluing myself to the snoot. after a while, i started to get used to it and it was all good.

the snoot was made and it was time to try it out:
the first image is without the snoot.

this next image is with the snoot. see the nice spotlight effect and the falloff? the flash was about a yard away from the subject at about 1/128th power. pretty nifty, eh?

now pointing the light in different directions and at different angles ought to give a rather pleasing effect. i’m going to try it out later tonight after i charge up my flash batteries which all died so i had to stop taking pictures. ahhh, the power to manipulate light. i feel so powerful.

black straws snoot – the heist

i saw the black straws snoot and had decided that i wanted to give it a try. the hard part was finding black straws. apparently panera bread and boston market both use black straws, so i went over to panera bread today to get some straws. i felt bad grabbing the first handful of straws, but it was really the second handful that i grabbed that really made me feel bad…well, that and the shocked look on the employee’s face when he caught me grabbing them.

i made a quick exit. hopefully, i have enough straws to make the snoot. i’ll try it out tonight and take some pictures to see.

the biggest inspiration i’ve had in a long, long while

strobist: lighting 101 is the most in-depth series of articles about off-camera strobe photography i’ve read, ever. it is so well written and so informative that it makes me want to pick up my multi-flash setup and start to experiment again. i never really understood how to light a scene, but there’s a lot of information here and i’m hoping that i can take it all in and figure it all out.

i just checked my st-e2 transmitter and the battery is dead so i need to replace it before i can do anything fun. the big question is going to be whether or not i can take what i’ve read and learned and apply it in real situations. we’ll see!

the big smoke out

a few days ago, i noticed that we had new visitors at the house. they were unwelcome, uninvited guests. my first strategy to make them leave was to ignore them, hope that they get bored, and leave. as with most problems, ignoring them simply didn’t work.

my next strategy was to confront them and try to scare them away. yes, they got scared. i was even a little frightened. but i think all that did was test their resolve. they brought friends with them the next day and started to eat our food.

yesterday was the last straw. they had gotten out of control. they were bold enough to eat our food in front of us. leave a plate on the table, they were there eating it. i had had enough. heavy handedly, i had decided to squash them. i started to swat at them, smash them, best i could, but there were too many of them.

it was time, there were just too many of them and desperate measures had to be taken. i fumigated the house. after 2 hours or smogging and another hour of clearing the air, i am happy to report that the house is ant-free.