Let the Sun…


Taking the “edge” off…

Sparks and Welding Fireworks…

I spent the better part of last week going through safety procedures for each machine I will be using to build the tripod-anemometer stand.  I can now officially use the following machines:

  • cold saw
  • horizontal band saw
  • belt grinder
  • hand held grinder
  • drill press
  • MMA-TIG welding (really like this, but need to keep practicing!!)

Curt’s words to the wise:  If you are going to do a job you must keep the following in mind…is your job intended to be a…

  • Rolls Royce
  • Holdan
  • Hyaundai
  • Victor (an Aussie lawn mower brand)

Basically, is your job going to be the cleanest, meanest piece of technology with artistry in every part, or is it going to be dangling together by two hex nuts that any squirrel on a good day could rip out.  So I decided the tripod at best sho

uld be Holdanesque…whatever that means to us “greenbacks.”  I started with all of our uncut parts and decided which machines would suffice and in

measure, score, centerline…POP…and repeat

what order it would be best to tackle.  I imagined it would take 3 days to cut, weld, and assemble…like most things I was wrong.  I am on day four of the cut-weld-assemble the Holdan process and still see two more days in my future.  Curt is considered a

welding, grinding down, and re-welding…updating a Holdan to a Rolls Royce

mechanical engineering tradesman where he has a very good understanding of all of the tools and machines that will be needed for any job and tends to invent what he needs when the machines around him will not suffice.  He is meticulous, pragmatic, and fine tunes each cut or grind from my Holdan to a Rolls Royce.  I also find that while I am keenly concentrating on each job making sure

finding the not so right angles

everything is done with precision, Curt looks over and with one glance observes glaring issues or aspects I was not attentive to.  This tripod as much as its functional use by the Cyclone Testing Facility has also become a sculpture… it represents what I am learning and Curt’s patience with me in each step.  I am definitely not attempting to characterize this as a work of

tools of the trade

art, this tripod has a low chance of survival in the its final ability and is in every definition of the word a prototype that will most likely find it’s last days next to the wooden spoked Whippets or in the back of JCU’s rugby fields with the multiple wallaby families that sneak onto the grounds at dusk.  My Holdan is definitely nothing to write home about, but it represents a learning curve that I have been very proud to be apart of.

LOVE welding!

Joel, new apprenticeship tradesman (where are the tradeswoman?) from the Army just came to work with Curt for the next month and learn and perform new tasks that need to be signed off when he accomplishes them.  One of the tasks he has taken on is welding all the bits and bobs that I have been cutting and drilling into.  Joel had a welding session with me and it was incredibly fun.  I am horrible at welding and look forward to practicing more.  It is definitely a work of art.  I found myself staring at my bike and assessing the mystery welder that assembled each part together.  I was actually grading her job and well I would like to shake her hand because 96% of her job looks wonderful.

The final tripod is almost finished and it is cumbersome, heavy, and mostly impractical.  There are many aspects that were changed last minute due to cost and time.  I would have telescoped the central post as well as the internal and external struts.  I would not have used cleats to join the legs, but rather a collar that could be move vertically on the post.  We are now using a fabric and a ratchet to join the earth screw and have been unable to obtain any of the screws while I have been here so that will be left untested.  The next phase that I have been working on is taking measurements of the prototype to determine its efficiency using Space GASS and Solid Works.  I am learning mostly about these ideas with Solid Works, but have been shown examples with the Space GASS program as well.

On Thursday David and Amy (civil engineering PhD student) were asked to host a school trip for Queensland high school students on Thursday.  Initially they were to take the student on a quick tour of the Cyclone Testing Center

feel’n breezy…David talks to HS group about wind tunnel

and then Amy was going to talk about what she is currently studying.  I asked if I could help out and work with Amy to design a small hands-on activity that the kids could do as part of the tour and they said, yes! Amy and I talked about this idea a week ago and met again to discuss it during the week.  We ended up settling on a building design that students became so immersed in it needed to be concluded the following day.  One of my personal highlights of this shared time was when David placed all of the students behind the wind tunnel (with safety glasses!) and talked about the research in the cyclone testing center as all of their hair and was whipping around and their faces looked incredibly happy.


Around Townsville….

I was able to go to a brilliantly written play at the Civic Theatre in Townsville

Let the Sunshine stage

that was penned by a local Townsvillian.  I had no idea what the play was or the context of the show, but I was pleasantly surprised at how funny and dynamic it ended up being.  There were six characters and the scenery never changed, but it did not need to.  The entire show was captivating.  It was about a young couple and two married couples that continuously moved between a small Aussie town and Sydney.  It was comical, had enormous wit, and centered around the love each individual felt for the other.  During intermission there was a made rush to the tea stand where ample amounts of tea had already been poured and biscuts where readily at hand.

intermission break: cuppa and bickies

People gulped their Bushel’s tea, gobbled their cinnamon bickies and then were ready for round two.

I have been taking my weekends slow.  Slow as in I am not dashing off to find Crocodile Dundee or push my limits on the kangaroo ridden roads with very small medians and really fast drivers.  I decided that part of the magic in being offered opportunities in far away places is the benefit of

sitting on favorite climbing tree

getting to know the magic of one place really well.  Well enough where you can give someone a heads up on how great this little pocket of Australia really is.  I would love to visit Tazmania, Papa New Guinea, and all of the wonderful islands so incredibly close to me, but two or three days in these places would more or less put a stamp in my passport, but not really awaken me to the culture and beauty of each breathing land.  A few notable weekend trips were to the monthly Townsville Home Brew Club meeting, Castle Hill (again..I know…it is so great!), and Reef HQ (world’s largest coral museum).  Reef HQ was unbelievable.  Each window allowed a glimpse into the incredibly mysterious world of the ocean.  The views were like visiting the depths of someone’s imagination and

Chris ready to bike down and dive!

creativity.  I sat with Chris just staring at this world and every moment I saw something new, something wild that fluttered its fins or stayed in a vertical entranced state, or something that flashed its brilliant colors notifying us that all fashion statements underwater are acceptable an very appreciated (the fish I am thinking of in particular was hyper yellow and purple…a definite 80’s flashback)

I have been climbing any willing tree and had great luck to observing many

egret or egreat…

species of birds.  There are so many colorful, strange, and beautiful types of birds here.  I would like nothing more than to sit Mr. Audobon down and watch him draw all of the plates these wonderful creatures would most likely

the only way to silence a cockatoo in Australia

inspire.  In the morning the cockatoos sound ravenous as if they are tearing apart prey.  There is a catbird that sounds like it is hissing and in heat, and then there are the bee-eaters that when they move there wings back and forth in flight make this little high-pitched vibrational sound like a babies toy being squeezed.  Ibises are considered the pigeons of Aussie and are everywhere stalking around and


plunging their huge beaks into the bush and lastly the bush turkeys…well not much to say about them other than pure terror.


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