March 02, 2008

Spider Houses

The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls has died from lack of interest. So, since I did post several things over there, I shall take my posts and repost them here. I hope that the other authors do the same at their places, should they so desire.

First up, how to build a Spider House.

People have houses. Dogs have houses. Birds have houses. Even butterflies and bats have houses. Let's learn how to build a spider house.

Why in the world would you build a spider house? Firstly, spiders are fascinating creatures and it's neat to be able to go outside and watch one doing its spider-thing in a frame that you built. Secondly, spiders eat a lot of pesky insects, including some that might be eating the plants in your vegetable or flower garden.

Materials Needed:

Thin wood such as grapestake. What you're looking for is wood about the size of what yardsticks are made out of, something about one to two inches wide and one-quarter inch or less thick. Grapestakes are cheap, come in bundles and are about six feet long. Perfect.

Wood glue. Waterproof or exterior is better, but even hot-melt glue will work.
Saw
Ruler
String or twine
. You'll only need this if you want to hang your spider house instead of sticking it into the ground.

Directions:

Before you begin, cut out four pieces of wood about 12 inches long. Next, cut out two pieces about 3 inches long. A hand saw works fine for this. Save the rest of the grapestake, you'll use it later.

1. Put two of the 12 inch pieces next to each other as shown below. Put a good spot of glue on each end, where the gray circles are on the diagram.

spider-frame-fig1.jpg

2. Take the other two 12 inch pieces and lay them across the glue spots as shown above, to make a square. Clamp the corners or place something heavy on them (make sure to clean up any glue that oozes out!) and let the glue dry.

3. Those two short pieces that you cut will be attached to the square frame so they make a little nook for the spider. This gives the spider protection from the rain and a place to hide when it feels threatened.

4. Time for more spots of glue. The spot shown is where you'll put the glue on each side (front and back) of the frame.

spider-frame-fig2.jpg

5. Glue the two short pieces to the frame as shown. The front one is sideways and the rear one is on the other side of the frame and runs in the same direction. This creates the little hidey-hole. Clamp or weight down and let dry.

Next, decide how you want to display your spider house. You can glue the remaining length of grapestake to the bottom corner and stick it in the ground in your garden, or you can tie some string or twine through one corner and hang it. Either way, there should be some protection from the wind and elements or spiders will find it unsuitable and look elsewhere to live. Like inside your house.

spider-frame-fig3.jpg

This makes a fairly large frame, and all of the measurements are flexible. Make smaller ones if you'd like, even popsicle sticks can be used (although you'd likely have smaller spiders take up residence there). If you build something bigger than about three feet square, I don't want to know what decides to live there.

After you place your spider houses, wait a couple of days and you'll see webs being built inside the frames.

Posted by: Ted at 10:45 AM | category: Build It
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September 19, 2006

Box Hockey

Google is linking to an old Rocket Jones page about building your own Box Hockey, a page without links to the other parts of the series.

Box Hockey, part 1.

Box Hockey, part 2.

Box Hockey, part 3.

Box Hockey, part 4.

Posted by: Ted at 11:31 AM | category: Build It
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June 21, 2005

Rotating Blog Banners

VW Bug of One Happy Dog Speaks is having a bit of a formatting problem with her banner in some browsers, and as Munuvians do she posted her questions on our group blog. In the course of the conversation I mentioned Madfish Willie's excellent banner rotation script and some tweaking I did to allow it to handle banners of different sizes. Rather than try to describe it so that everyone could understand, I'll just post the changes here and go through it step by step.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 06:06 AM | category: Build It
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April 03, 2005

Building a simple but unusual rocket

I’m going to show you how to turn an ordinary badminton birdie into a real launchable rocket. These are easy to make and bigtime fun to fly, plus they don't go so high that you'll lose it.

Best of all, they fly on Estes "mini" motors. You can find these in the toy department at WalMart, and a pack of four will cost around five bucks. You're going to need one to help you construct the rocket, so pick up a pack before you start. Look for motors labeled A10-3T or A3-4T, they'll be a little less than 3" long and about one half inch in diameter (pinky sized).

If you need more information about rocketry, check out my Rocketry archives, there's lots there, plus links to even more.

I'm going to assume that you have a launch pad and controller. The ones that come with Estes or Quest starter kits work fine. Starter sets are cheap, include everything you need and the value is very good.

And finally, just to prove I'm not a complete loon, here's the original plans for the birdie rocket as it originally appeared as an Estes rocket kit.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 10:31 AM | category: Rocketry Resources
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February 27, 2005

Box Hockey - Part 4 (final)

Here's the final part of our series to build your own box hockey game. If you have any questions, feel free to leave 'em in the comments and I'll answer them as soon as I can.

Previous Box Hockey posts are linked to from here.

(in the extended entry) more...

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December 14, 2004

Simple Rubberband Gun

As kids, we used to make these as needed every summer, although occasionally someone would fashion a more elaborate one and keep it from year to year.

And no, none of us ever put an eye out with one of these. Then again, we were bright enough not to intentionally aim at the face. We also did a lot of target shooting with 'em. That's what I recommend: target shooting at cans or flies or plastic army men. Don't be dumb, and I'm not responsible if you are.

Materials
Wood - length of broomstick or dowel, or a 1"x2" or even a 2"x4". Whatever you use, you need a piece about 12" long (more for a 2"x4" rifle).

Clothespins - tradition says use the wooden spring type, but the plastic ones will work just fine. The simplest gun uses one, we usually used at least two. They come in bags of 100 or more, so borrow from a neighbor if you don't have your own. Or make lots of guns, you politically incorrect brute.

Rubberbands - in our house, we kept rubberbands around the doorknob on the furnace closet, and had plenty because you got one with every newspaper delivered. They're cheap, so don't go mugging the paperboy for his.

How To
Take sandpaper and round off any sharp edges to eliminate splinters.
Use a file to cut a shallow "V" notch in the end of the wood.
Use one rubber band to fasten a clothespin to the wood on the opposite end of the wood from the notch.
That's it!

Here's a picture of a fancy store-bought model that works exactly this way. It's a good view of the clothespin and notch setup.

To Use
Hook a rubber band around the end of the wood so it's in the notch.
Stretch it back with one hand, use the other to open the clothespin and catch the rubberband.
When ready to shoot, press on the clothespin and zing!

You can cut out pistol or rifle shapes from the wood, mount multiple clothespins (and make extra notches), and do all kinds of custom coolness with the basic design. Often we'd grab a piece of scrap wood, use a rock to gouge out the notch, grab a clothespin from the clothesline out back and a handfull of rubberbands from the doorknob. Within minutes you had something that worked, and sometimes the ugliest thing was the straightest shooter (my best was from an old yellow broomstick with two clothespins attached). Showing up with a store-bought rubberband gun was tolerated - barely - mainly because we'd closely examine it to see how they managed multiple shots if it worked that way.

Posted by: Ted at 05:49 AM | category: Build It
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October 11, 2004

Half-baked Halloweeny Idea

Let's build a Haunted House!

In the comments, leave a description of a room or area in our haunted house. What does it look like? What kind of eerie stuff is there?

Two starters:

Butler's Pantry: a small narrow room dominated by a huge desk built in along one wall. There are two oil lamps on the back wall, and a dusty, decrepit wooden chair before the desktop. On shelves above the desk are the old volumes of ledgers used by the butler as he managed household affairs, and dozens of small drawers and cubbyholes. One drawer is conspicuous by the large padlock holding it closed. The hasp looks hastily added and was clumsily installed.

Root Cellar: only accessable from outside the house, just by the kitchen door, opening the door reveals narrow stone steps leading down into darkness. The air inside is damp and cool.

So come on, put on your imagination caps and join in the fun.

Posted by: Ted at 05:03 PM | category: Build It
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June 20, 2004

Box Hockey redux

The memory is the first thing to go. I completely forgot about our half-finished box hockey set until this evening, when I got a comment from this place. It's not the same game, but it still looks pretty cool. I'll finish up our series this week sometime, although judging from the lack of feedback I don't think anyone was paying all that much attention.

Posted by: Ted at 07:28 PM | category: Build It
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May 30, 2004

Box Hockey - 3

The previous post about our project to build an old fashioned box hockey table can be found here.

As usual, the main part is in the extended entry, and y'all are invited to ask questions and leave comments. more...

Posted by: Ted at 07:36 PM | category: Build It
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May 27, 2004

Box Hockey - 2

I talked about Box Hockey back in March, but things got hectic and that became low priority. Now is a good time, so let's get started.

If you've never followed the Rocket Jones Build It series, I do some project online over a series of posts and hopefully by following my directions you can complete the same project. Our first project was a model rocket.

As usual, the meat of the post is in the extended entry, and y'all are invited to ask questions and leave comments. more...

Posted by: Ted at 12:01 PM | category: Build It
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March 05, 2004

Box Hockey - 1

When I was a youngster, one way we filled our summer days was by going to the local elementary school for ‘rec’. Rec was shortspeak for “Recreation Services” and it was a program sponsored by our school district. Basically, for a few hours a day, someone (usually a college kid earning some pocket money) would sign out kickballs and jump ropes and games. There would be organized activities like bike races and weenie roasts and marble tournaments. I fondly recall heading up to the school to find out who was there and what was going on. It was one of the ‘mixing bowls’ of the area, because otherwise groups of kids mostly hung around together based on what street they lived on.

Some days it was just too darn hot to do anything. Even marbles sucked, because the best dirt beds for that were in full sun, and nobody felt like frying their brains.

That’s when the board games would come out. Alongside the playgrougd were several fixed benches, shaded by the buildings and close to the cool bricks of the school wall. Looking like birds lined up on a telephone wire, we were grouped up in various ways as we played the games. Parcheesi (ick), Sorry and Chinese Checkers, Mandala (we called it something else though), and my personal favorite – Box Hockey.

Box Hockey was the low-tech version of Air Hockey. In fact, to that point we had never heard of Air Hockey. Play is similar, and so is the speed of it, if only because the ‘rink’ is smaller.

The puck was a regular ol’ checker, and the paddles were wedge-shaped pieces of hardboard. Each end had three goals, larger ones on each side worth one point, and a smaller one smack in the middle worth three points. Games went to 11 or 15 or 21, and there was usually someone hovering nearby with dibs on the next game.

When my kids were that age, I built our own Box Hockey game. It proved to be a hit, and I built several more over the years to give away as gifts. On the underside we put a checkerboard and backgammon board, and just flipped the hockey rink to play those. We'd usually include a set of checkers, some dice, and if the child was old enough a set of chess pieces.

So that’s what we’re going to do this go-round of "Build It", we’re going to build a Box Hockey set. It makes a great birthday gift, or save it as a surprise for those heat-wave days coming up. It's also a great family project, simple enough to have the little ones pitch in. It makes it more special when they help.

If you’ve never done any woodworking, no worries. The skills are basic, the materials are readily available and inexpensive. Power tools will speed things along, but aren’t at all necessary.

Update: While out running errands tonight, I made a quick stop at the hardware store to price the lumber needed. I'm estimating right up front that you can do this project for around $30.00. Not bad for a from-the-heart gift.

Next time (probably this weekend), a detailed parts and measurement list, and pictures!

(Update: click here for the next part of the series)

Posted by: Ted at 05:00 AM | category: Build It
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February 23, 2004

Flight Report (lack thereof)

Our rocket was scheduled to make her maiden flight this weekend, but high winds prevented it. I could've launched, but probably would not have gotten it back from the drift under parachute.

Posted by: Ted at 07:24 AM | category: Build It
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February 15, 2004

Build It - the finished rocket

We've had a nice stretch of weather, which allowed me to get outside to paint our rocket. You can do painting like this in the winter, but the secret is to bring the rocket into a warm place immediately after the final coat.

The picture, and the rest of this post is in the extended entry.

What is all this about? "Build It" is a series of posts where we’re building a basic model rocket online. Each post shows part of the process step by step, including pictures and passing along tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. You can find the rest of the series here. more...

Posted by: Ted at 07:43 AM | category: Build It
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February 03, 2004

Build It (quickie update)

I know there hasn't been an update in a while (find previous posts here). I've been dodging weather, trying to get the rocket primed and painted. It's not ready to go yet, but getting there. The plan is to make the maiden flight on the 21st of February, at the NOVAAR club launch.

Sometime in the next week or so, I'll try to get a post up about the stuff you need to launch a model rocket safely and inexpensively.

Posted by: Ted at 07:54 AM | category: Build It
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January 19, 2004

Build It - 8

This is a series of posts where we’re building a basic model rocket online. Each post shows part of the process step by step, including pictures and passing along tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. You can find the rest of the series here. To learn more about what model rocketry is about, see this Q&A.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too. more...

Posted by: Ted at 10:26 AM | category: Build It
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January 14, 2004

Build It - 7

This is a series of posts where we’re building a basic model rocket online. Each post shows part of the process step by step, including pictures and passing along tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. You can find the rest of the series here. To learn more about what model rocketry is about, see this Q&A.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too. more...

Posted by: Ted at 06:24 AM | category: Build It
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January 12, 2004

Build It - 6

This is a series where we build a model rocket step-by-step. You can find the rest of the series here.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too. more...

Posted by: Ted at 05:16 AM | category: Build It
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January 04, 2004

Build It - 5

This is a series where we build a model rocket step-by-step. You can find the rest of the series here.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too. more...

Posted by: Ted at 08:02 AM | category: Build It
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December 31, 2003

Our Rocket

I haven't forgotten our rocket that we're building. In fact, it's sitting right beside my monitor, looking phallic and making me feel slightly inadaquate for not moving along to the next construction step. I promise we'll get to it in the next day or so. In the meantime:

Wal-Mart is having their after-holiday sales, and I noticed they have an Estes rocket starter set called the 'Stars & Stripes' for $17.00. The kids got this one for me last year for Christmas and it's one heckuva deal. The rocket is a little easier to build than the Fat Boy we're currently doing (and the Fat Boy is not at all difficult). Plus you get a couple of motors, the launch pad and rod, and the launch controller to ignite the rocket motors. All you'll need besides this starter set is some glue and AA batteries.

If you're building along, or thinking about it, now is the time to look for a pack of rocket motors. Each rocket kit will give a list of recommended motors, to start out I'd recommend 'B' motors. For the Fat Boy, get B4-4's or B6-4's if possible, they come in 3-packs and the igniters are included. Look here for an explanation of rocket motors and their designations.

Check back in the next couple of days for the next bit as we attach the fins to our rocket.

Posted by: Ted at 07:59 AM | category: Build It
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December 10, 2003

Build It - 4

This is a series where we build a model rocket step-by-step. You can find the rest of the series here.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too. more...

Posted by: Ted at 11:09 AM | category: Build It
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