Tuesday, March 24, 2009

PVC Camera Mount Secured

One of the possible drawbacks to the PVC camera mount is that the entire thing is only held together by friction. Theoretically, the camera mount, and the camera, could slip out of its socket and then bye bye $3,000 digital SLR.

The first solution is to never trust an expensive camera to my setup. I mean, it is homemade out of a dollar's worth of hardware. If you can plonk down a couple thousand for a camera, you should be able to afford a $50 tripod.

The other solution is a locking mechanism that I haven't tested extensively, but seems to work pretty well.

The mechanics are simple. Drill two holes in the camera mount on each side. Do the same for the PVC fitting. Align the holes in the two pieces, then bend a coat hanger or bike spoke so that it fits snugly into the holes. Slide the clip into the holes, and there you go -- a secure connection that won't slip out no matter how hard you shake it.

One thing that I've found useful is to make the wire clip off-centered a little bit. It helps make slipping it into the holes a little easier.

Having shown this design, I want to point out that I probably won't be using it normally. It adds one more element of hassle, and the basic mount is secure enough that I've never worried about my camera falling off.

However, there are a few designs I've got running around in my head where a little extra security might be nice.

Price: Free, if you've got a metal coat hangar lying around.
Build time: 10 minutes, with a drill, wire cutters, and some pliers.
Availability of materials: Readily available.
Durability: Medium to High. The metal clip may fatigue eventually, but it should be fine for a while.
Functionality: Quick and easy, works great.
Portability: Only takes slightly more room than the camera mount.

Monday, March 23, 2009

PVC for PVC Camera Mount

I've gotten a few questions about the thing-walled PVC tubing for my PVC Camera mount. I've looked it up, and when you go to the hardware store, if you want to sound smart, ask for the 3/4 inch PVC SDR Schedule 21. You can read more about it here.

Around here, I know Lowe's carries it, but I don't know where else to find it. But Lowe's doesn't carry the flat top caps; only round ones. The person helping me at Lowe's suggested trying a sprinkler supply store or a plumbing specific store.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cous Cous a la Spam

This is actually one of my favorite foods while either going on a day trip or doing an overnighter.

3/4 cup whole wheat cous cous
1 packet Spam Single
1 one quart Ziploc freezer bag
Seasoning, to taste
1 cup water

At home, put 3/4 cups of cous cous into the Ziploc bag. Add seasoning to fit your taste (I generally use seasoned salt, but anything would work). That's it.

In camp, cut up the Spam and drop it into the bag. Boil one cup of water (check out my SuperCat Breakfast for my preferred method of boiling water) and add it to the bag as well. Seal the bag and let sit for five minutes. Open, and eat directly from the bag. When you're done, drop the Spam package into the Ziploc, wash off your spoon or fork, and you're done!

Before you say "Eww! Gross!" about the Spam, let me say that it's not as bad as you think. The Hawaiians eat it all the time. It doesn't need refrigeration, and contains 13 grams protein. Add that to the carbs you get in the cous cous, and you've got a pretty healthy meal.

Spam is high in fat, sodium, and calories, but when backpacking, none of these are necessarily bad things. You're expending so much energy and sweating out enough salt that a little bit in return isn't going to hurt you.

This recipe is enough to be plenty for one person, and can be prepared cold if you forget your lighter (trust me on that one). It feels great to hold the steaming bag on a cold morning/evening. Just be sure to take the saltiness of the Spam into consideration when flavoring the cous cous. And be sure to have plenty of water as well.



So this is my newest creation (at least, that I have a prototype for). I call it a SpearPod, 'cuz it looks like a spear. Clever, eh?

This is a device that works for the most part, with at least one problem. In a breeze, it tends to wobble a bit. I had that problem while filming the YouTube video, but remedied the situation by resting a brick at the base of it to hold it steady. Without a breeze, it's not a big deal.

The other thing is that when you slide the PVC over the stake, it doesn't sit completely parallel, but that can be remedied with the adjusters at the top (see my snowpod video to see how that works). I also wouldn't recommend using a heavy camera, but for compact ones, it works fine.

I envision that instead of the long piece of PVC, a stick could be whittled to fit into the PVC fittings, which would allow you to use this anywhere that has sticks lying about. I'm sure there are plenty of other uses people could come up with. Tell me if you think of anything!

Price: Under $5
Build time: 10 minutes, with the right hand tools.
Availability of materials: Should be available, if you can find the thin walled tubing.
Durability: Medium to High. It should be as durable as a cheap tripod.
Functionality: As long as you can find something to pound the stake into the ground, it's easy.
Portability: You have to carry around a long pole, but it can double as a walking stick.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Very Insulator

I've discovered a premade insulator for my hammock. It's not the warmest method, but it is probably the lightest and simplest. Go to Wal Mart or some other super center. In their automotive section, you will find the sun shades. Look for the kind that are metallic on one side and foam on the other. Here is an example. They should be less than five bucks.

To use, just stick it in your hammock, foil side up, and lay on top of it. The shiny side reflects the radiant heat back towards you, while the foam seems to be enough to protect against conduction (heat loss though contact). I wouldn't suggest using this method in sub-zero weather, but it could be used in connection with other hammock insulating methods to give you possibly an extra 10 degrees of warmth.

Here are some pictures of the setup.

This is the sunscreen folded up. Not very nicely, but I wanted it to be small.

This is it unrolled on the foam side. In front is a yardstick, so I'm guessing the entire thing is about four feet long or so. They also make larger ones. Normally there isn't a chunk taken out of the upper righthand side, but I was initially using this for a different project.

This is the sunscreen in the hammock, foil side up. Obviously.

As for durability, I wouldn't take a knife to it, but it has a fabric edging to it which mostly keeps it from tearing. Once a tear starts, however, it rips easily. But then again, for the price, you can just go buy another one.

I call it the Very Insulator because it's very cheap, very easy to make (or find in this case), and very easy to use.

Price: Under $5
Build time: None!
Availability of materials: Readily available
Durability: Relatively low
Functionality: Super quick setup
Portability: Weighs next to nothing, folds up pretty small

Welcome to my hopefully soon-to-be used blog!

Welcome all DIY fans! So far, nothing has happened here yet, but hopefully I will start to use this soon. If I don't have time to make a video, maybe I'll post something here instead.

So what is Good Enough Stuff? This refers to my personal philosophy of resource-light homemade equipment for photography, backpacking, and miscellaneous situations. What are these resources? They would include-
  • Time
  • Money
  • Tools
  • Skill
  • Materials
Can you make a hammock at home? Absolutely. But if it takes 10 days, requires a $500 sewing machine, expensive high-tech fabric, or a PhD in sewing, then to me, it's not worth it. So instead, I build a hammock in an hour or two for less than $20. Will it be as good as the $800 hammock? Probably not. But, it's "good enough."

Anyway, I hope you check back over time as I get more of my projects up here. And if you want to see what I've already built, try my YouTube account (search for PacoWarabi). Have a great time building stuff!