It gets better

I spent most of the last weekend studying and a bit sick.

When not reading for the Uni I binge watched a lot of talks from previous editions of the CppCon, because that’s obviously what only a sick person would do.

And after not being on that scene for quite a while I found that, like for some wines, the time made it nicer.

The use of auto variables when iterating containers, lambdas, parallelization and inclusion of atomic operations (albeit I believe they are insufficiently documented and will bite a lot of people) are just some of the things that surprised me in a good way. There’s a host of cool stuff under <algorithm> and the new optimizations (like the ones carried for constexpr ) are incredible.

Coincidentally, Bert Hubert started a series of posts with the good parts of C++ that actually makes me want to code something in it again.

Walk or Ride

(Take the easy way you know that you want to)

As part of my health and lifestyle changes I set up the goal to walk at least an hour a day. This is good as I normally don’t walk very much and with the bike the cold wind stabs deep inside me and I end up with my head aching even if I wear lots of protective clothing on it.

This morning wasn’t as cold as others so I left a bit earlier for uni and went there walking instead of cycling.
It took me more than double the usual time but the morning was lovely. About mid journey I found a lemon on the verge of an abandoned house. I carried it with me, smelling from time to time and capturing odd looks and a handful of smiles.

On my way back home a young lady stopped by my side to ask for the time. It was very strange that she didn’t have a cellphone but after catering to her request we started to walk together and talk, mostly about our whereabouts and her career as English teacher. We parted ways a few blocks from my home.

I don’t remember when was the last time I had that careless feeling of easiness around someone new, in general and for making conversation out of the blue. Perhaps the surprise was the difference.

Today I walked a tad more than hour and half. So far the week started very good.

Dumpster heaven

If there’s a heaven I think I visited it today.

After running a couple of errands early in the morning I headed to Lisandro Olmos on the outside of the City to buy some scrap metal for my welding classes.

A couple of members of the group said good things about Grúas Mársico so I went there, it was also a good opportunity to travel a bit on this part, as I don’t know almost anything about it.

As I entered the warehouse I became speechless. There are shelves that extend up to the roof with parts from all kind of machines neatly organized on one side. On the other pieces of metal plate and tubing. Some big planers, milling machines and spot welders among them. And on the background, the tallest pile of industrial waste I ever seen in person. All of this on sale by weight save for a couple of weird stuff.

The shop was run by a very nice lady and her brother. This morning I only bought some iron but the next time I come around I’ll bring a small truck to pick some very , very interesting stuff.

Fixing a metal chair

A while ago we bought a very nice set of chairs with a chromed base and the bog standard pneumatic height adjustment.

After a lot of use a couple of them had the welds on the base break apart. I took one home and after thinking a bit I chose to make a stiffening plate instead of just redoing the missing parts as that area looked very flimsy.

Fixing a metal chair

I traced the outline on some cardboard and then cut a bit of plate with the plasma torch.

Fixing a metal chair: stiffening plate

Some light prep and careful welding made it usable again. I tried first with a small 6013 rod but the arc wandered and blew a hole through the thin base. I had more success with 7018. The welds look horrible but are strong enough, I jumped a couple of times and it didn’t even notice.

Be kind.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Alicia Reinoso.

This afternoon I walked to the city centre for a quick check up with my doctor and to run some errands. When I finished, the day had turned colder and a very fine mist was morphing into rain.

As I approached the bus stop a woman started to look at me, finally asking if I could lend her my sube card in exchange for money for the fare.

With a very distressed tone she related me that she was a Doctor and misplaced her purse with most of her documents and money but someone found it and called so she could pick it up.

The place was in a kind of sketchy neighborhood and she was very afraid of going there alone (and also, it was already dark). It’s not very far from my home and the local police station so I offered to escort her there.

Still, she was afraid and when we arrived at the police station tried to get hold of an officer to come with us but the only patrol car was on duty. We arranged for meeting there and while she waited for whomever found her purse I went to pick up our family car (she lives in the other extreme of the city and the night wasn’t that friendly for such a trip).

We drove to her home chatting about life, her children and strangely enough given my orientation, about religion, moral compasses and other stuff.

That was a very nice quarter of hour. It’s been quite a while since I had such a meaningful conversation with a stranger.

Get up off your lazy bum.

For the most part of last week I felt like catching a cold but not quite.
My body and joints ached and was in this general state of drowsiness.

This morning was humid but not cold. I gathered all my willpower and hoped into the bike instead of taking the bus to the uni.

I arrived exhausted and sweaty.
As it happens at these stages the classes are very small. Today it was only me and the professor. We stood up side by side in front of the whiteboard discussing for about an hour.
A very productive morning.

Back at home I felt terrible but empowered.

Later I went to do some errands.
I took a rest on the sidewalk and the neighbors cat brushes me, asking for petting.

We sat there for a while, attracting odd looks from the passerby people.

Wrench

Sometimes I use wire cups and wheels on the grinder. Screwing them is easy but the clearance between the guard and the tool makes it very cumbersome to use an ordinary wrench to loosen them. And also they come in different sizes.

So instead of having to carry around two tools that aren’t fit I fashioned one with some flatbar. The welds are pretty enough for a beginner and this application.

After that I gently heated it over the stove to reach a lovely shade of iridescent blue:


Home made grinder wrench, heat treated

Intercom mount

We are installing an intercom system and the front door unit is meant to be mounted in a recess in the wall. But the problem is that that wall is not really suitable for making such a hole.

I cut some strips of flat stock and fashioned a box. It has a couple of tabs to bolt into the wall and another ones threaded to hold the device. This is going to be painted later but I love that blue shading.

Sliding patchbay mount

I’ve been working on and off on this for the last couple of weeks. The space we’ll have on the comms rack to handle the wiring isn’t that great and I saw on a couple of places patchbays that are articulated.

I thought on adding a twist to that and mounting everything on rails. This way I can slide it from behind the rack and then unfold it, gaining access to both sides.

We bought some pre-drilled (but not taped, ugh.) angle with the holes spaced in standard units, that was welded into a fixed frame with a couple of hinges.

This will hang from a small cart with iron wheels that rides on a couple of rails fixed to the walls.

Steel doors for rack closet

With the outer frame already built I continued with the doors. During the last couple of days I made the frames, aligned the hinges and had them welded. I also started to cut the expanded metal for the body and made a couple of simple handles.

Fixing an inverter welder

Today while working on the rack closet the welder died on me for no apparent reason. But, after power off it made a couple of noises and the fan ran for a moment.

For being a Chinese machine it actually looks quite good and neat on the inside. The boards have conformal coating and just a tad of flux residue on some pads. The only thing out of place was a blob of solder on a header instead of a jumper.

I made a couple of measurements, the high voltage section was fine but the control supply was totally dead, except for a brief moment when turning off the main switch. Traced back from that board until finding a small block with a forward converter (kinda odd, I expected a flyback). The only component with bad readings was the recovery diode. I swapped in an UF4007 and at the next flick it was alive again.

Of all the things that could go wrong with a welder on novice hands this was not expected.