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All posts for the month May, 2018

There are a ton of rabbits on our neighborhood, so we wanted to find an attractive way to keep them out of the garden. After a fall and winter with chicken-wire + four metal fence posts, we started researching different ways of building a slightly-raised garden bed with a well-supported fence around the outside. Additionally, we wanted the fence to be easily removed as needed for planting, weeding, cultivating, harvest, etc. Here’s the finished project:

Planning

After looking around at pinterest and various websites, we found three potential designs that might work:

Option 1 – Notched corner post with framed fence panels
Pros: Looks nice, would be sturdy, reasonable price.
Cons: Need to use table saw to cut channels in posts. Unsure how deep into ground to drive posts. If the posts shift over time, it may become difficult to slide the fence panels in and out.
Cost estimate: $147

Option 2 – Normal frame plus PVC holders for fence panels
Pros: No expensive corner brackets or posts. PVC holders like this are widely-used and can be used with hoops+plastic to make a mini greenhouse.
Cons: More fiddly to build fence panels, need to keep tubes clear of dirt
Cost estimate: $132 (with 4×4 corners) or $106 (no corners, just screw 2×6’s together)

Option 3 – Pre-fab metal corners with fence panels that slide into holes in the corners
Pros: Metal corners would make it very sturdy and look very nice. Fence panels would be easy to keep square even if things shift around.
Cons: Metal corners are more expensive ($12.50 each from Gardener’s Supply Company)
Cost estimate: $145

Since this garden bed is in our front yard, we really wanted it to look nice, so we chose Option 3, using the pre-fab metal corners to keep the bed nice and square, with drop-in fence panels. Here’s the detailed plan we came up with (click to view higher-resolution image):

In the past, I’ve wanted to experiment with pocket screws, and this seemed like a decent project for an experiment. I borrowed a Kreg jig from a friend, and bought a box of their blue outdoor pocket screws. (We decided not to use the extra support brackets shown in the plan.)

Results

For once, it turned out like the pinterest image! Nailed It!

Lessons learned

If I was to do this project again, I would make a few changes to the plan:

  • Design the bed to be 4×8′ instead of 5×10′, because it’s difficult to get 10′ lumber in all sizes and types. I wasn’t able to find pressure-treated 1x2s in 10′ lengths, so I had to rip a 2x6x10 into 1x2x10s using the table saw, which was tricky.
  • The pocket screws had a tendency to split the thin 1×2 boards. I may have mis-configured the drill jig, or maybe I should have pre-drilled the other board too, or maybe should have used the fine-thread screws instead of coarse-thread screws?
  • I still need to figure out some way to keep the upper corners of the fence panels together. Maybe a door hasp closure or some velcro or something.

I typically listen to music with only my left headphone at work, so I can hear what’s going on around me. It bugs me when I listen to music that has important parts split across left vs right audio channels. I found this trick with the linux pulseaudio system to make a new audio output device that is a mono-only output, so it mixes left and right together. Only tested on Ubuntu.

1. Use pacmd list-sinks | grep name: to find the name of the output you want to use. Mine was alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo (strip away the < and >).

2. Use that string in this command: pacmd load-module module-remap-sink sink_name=mono master=alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo channels=2 channel_map=mono,mono

3. Use the GUI sound settings to select the new “Remapped Built-in Audio Analog Stereo”.

It doesn’t sound 100% as good as listening to the stereo music via both headphones, but it’s pretty good.

I decided to train for a marathon this fall, so I looked online for some training plans. Once I found a plan to use, I wanted an easy way to import the training plan into my calendar. I thought it might be cool to write a little tool to let me copy/paste from the training plan website and generate an ICS file to import into the calendar.

I wrote such a tool in python, posted here: https://github.com/matthewbeckler/training_plan_to_ics

You should customize the script by editing five things in the python file:

  1. Set a start_date or end_date below (but not both).
  2. Copy/paste the tab-split training plan table into the raw_data string.
  3. Then add day_of_week_details entries for each day of the week (if you want).
  4. If you want an URL added to the end of the details, add one to the url variable below.
  5. The output ICS file will be written to the file output_filename, change this filename if you like.

Once the script is run, you can import the ICS file into your calendar system.