Welding a Welding Table

When I started cutting up steel for the back seat frame of my Bede BD-4C airplane, the chop saw threw off so many sparks that I singed the top of my wooden workbench. Being a bright boy, I thought that moving the saw to a metal table would be just a wee bit safer. :-)

I went shopping and found the cheapest possible welding table at (no surprise) Harbor Freight. $79 seemed like too much money for a crappy tool, though, so I decided to build a welding table. It would be fun (I love flame!) and educational (I would learn more about welding) and less expensive (I’m cheap). I found a set of welding table plans at Lincoln Electric to use as a guide. Continue reading Welding a Welding Table

Installing Lift Reserve

As you know, if you are a citizen of the universe, I am building a Bede BD-4C airplane and I have been writing about the process here on my blog for the last couple of years. Today I am going to write about something that few aviators, and even fewer homebuilders, write about. I am about to write about Lift Reserve.

Many people adhere to the common misconceptions about what makes airplanes fly: money. (Sorry… I couldn’t resist that one.) Many people adhere to the common misconceptions about what makes airplanes fly: a balancing of the four forces Lift-Gravity-Thrust-Drag. This is based in classical physics as taught to high school students and it is naive, to say the least. The problem with the LGTD is that it is simply incomplete. Lift Reserve is not addressed because, classically speaking, it is simply too hard to explain in a high school physics class. Continue reading Installing Lift Reserve


Few wives are as lucky as Candy. Not only does she have a freshly spray painted rudder push-pull tube drying in her dining room, but it is hanging from her chandelier! I’ll bet that none of her girlfriends have anything anywhere near this cool.


Then again, maybe I’m lucky that she lets me build an airplane… in her garage… and sometimes in her house.

Thanks, Candy!

$76 Media Center

Several years ago, we got a Sony PlayStation 3 as a home theater PC and it has been a fantastic way to watch Blu-ray discs, Netflix, etc. It has not been a good way to listen to music for two reasons. First, listening to music requires me to turn on the home theater projector, since we do not have a TV. Second, the PS3 does a lousy job of organizing a reasonable sized music collection. (I have about 4700 songs.) The PS3 web browser is pretty mediocre, too, making the PS3 a poor choice for YouTube, Vimeo, TED talks, and so forth.

Ever since then, I have been looking for my ideal media center computer to compliment the PS3. It needed to be silent, inconspicuous, usable (for simple stuff) without turning on the projector, and an awesome mechanism to get my music to the receiver in the den. Beyond my own music, it needed to give me access to internet media such as YouTube and Pandora. It has been possible to build such a machine for quite awhile, but the multi-multi-hundred dollar price tag has always put me off.

This winter, I finally got to see a Raspberry Pi computer running the XBMC media center software and immediately ordered one for myself. At last, the media center PC that I have been waiting for!

For a total outlay of $76, I pulled together this hardware

  • RaspberryPi – $35
  • 32 GB SD card – $41
  • leftover cell phone charger – $0
  • leftover cordless USB keyboard & mouse combo – $0

The Raspberry Pi is a full fledged computer running Linux. You add an SD card as a “disk drive,” plug in an ethernet cable, hook up an HDMI cable, and add power from pretty much any old cell phone charger. Here is mine (click on either picture to see it larger).

Raspberry Pi top
Raspberry Pi top
Raspberry Pi bottom
Raspberry Pi bottom

The SD card works like a disk drive, holding the Linux operating system, the XBMC software, all 22 GB of my music, and a few miscellaneous videos.

Beyond buying the hardware, here are the software components that I gathered together to make everything work.


  • I grabbed Sam Nazarko’s excellent Raspbmc, which is a bootable version of XBMC version 12 (Frodo) for the Raspberry Pi. I followed the instructions and, within minutes, had a basic XBMC system up and running.
  • Since I am in the USA, I edited /etc/default/keyboard and set:
    giving me a US keyboard layout. (The default is “uk”.)

The Official XBMC Remote for Android lets you use your Android phone or tablet as a remote control. This is key component, letting me play music without turning on the projector.

You can easily add plugins from within XBMC and the Pandora plugin was one of the first that I grabbed.

Oh, did I mention that all of this software is free? And did I mention that XBMC includes AirPlay, just like an Apple TV?

Be careful, though. A Raspberry Pi is an addicting toy! If you get one, you may find it hard to do anything other than play with it.

Don’t Build Airplanes While Sleeping

I know that this keeps you awake at night, wondering whether or not you will be able to avoid building an airplane while asleep. Let me encourage you to persevere in your efforts. At all costs, strive to be awake when building your airplanes.

Monday night, I built a set of ribs for the rudder of my Bede BD-4C and was very proud, indeed, of my accomplishment. Tuesday morning, before my coffee had sufficiently activated my brain, I double-checked my work by placing one of the ribs on the drawing for the top of the rudder. Here is the photo that I took.

Rudder rib on drawing of top of rudder
Rudder rib on drawing of top of rudder

This had me very worried because, as you can see, the bolt near the rear (narrow end) of the rib is not really “in” the rib.

Tonight, being slightly more conscious, I realized that I have the rib too far forward (too far to the left) in the photograph above. It should be positioned about 3/4″ farther back (to the right). When I do that, everything works beautifully, as you can see from this photo.

Rib in top of rudder with a paper template of the part which will go on top of it
Rib in top of rudder with a paper template of the part which will go on top of it

The rib extends well past the bolt so all will be well. I suppose I will never become a “morning person.”