So let’s just say you have a carpenter ant infestation…
We bought our home in Dallas 2 years ago this month. We’ve been battling a problem with carpenter ants in the dining room ceiling since then. A few days ago I noticed one of these pests on one of the large dining room windows (then entire north wall is glass). When I looked up… DAMN! – the windows were covered with these 1/2″-long winged ants. We had a swarm taking place and literally hundreds of them were covering the north wall, the ceiling and inside our Roman shades. Disgusting! Quick fast like a bunny I called our Critter Gitter (on speed dial of course). He couldn’t get out until maybe the next day and suggested a vacuum cleaner to dispense with the pests.
I have a fairly new and robust shop vac that gets a lot of use in my workshop. However… We have a 15 foot cathedral ceiling in the dining room which required a 12 foot stepladder to install the chandelier. There’s no way the shop vac is going to get the pests off the highest corners, which is exactly where most of these pests have chosen to congregate.
Extend the reach of my shop vac with a 10 foot length of 1″ PVC I just happen to have in the shop.
This is pretty simple and it has some additional advantages. Reducing the diameter of the opening increases the velocity of the intake, which does a better job of detaching ants from the surface they are scampering across. Sucking in air from a 2″ opening (stock size for the shop vac) has considerably less velocity than that same amount of cfm going through a 1″ opening. So… BONUS!
My favorite tape for such activities is RED Duct Tape. Why? Because it leaves no sticky residue. You can peel it off and you are not left with a sticky, hard-to handle shop vac tube when you’re done. I always keep a supply of this stuff in my supply cabinet. I actually have probably six different kinds of duct tape for different uses.
So. Off to the workshop and return with shop vac, PVC and red duct tape. Inserting the PVC about 2 feet into the stock tube gives it better stability and still allows me to reach the ceiling. Checking this before you tape it up saves a lot of time. Thoroughly wrapping the intersection with red duct tape results in a very manageable “wand” which allows me to snork up hundreds of carpenter ants in about an hour.
They do not appreciate this intrusion into their dining routine and try to get away as you might imagine. I, however am at least as motivated as they are – and have technology on my side.
It seems these not-so-little pests have set up housekeeping in the joist space above our dining room and may require extreme measures to permanently eradicate them. In the meantime, I stay busy snorking up any stragglers that appear.
Keeping in mind that there are most likely thousands of these guys up in the ceiling if I have managed to snatch up several hundred so far, is motivation to keep after them.
One more important thing you might have thought of by now…
How do you make sure they don’t come crawling back out of the vacuum
(to re-infest the premises after you’re done?)
My solution is to grab the first can of any insecticide I can find and give them a lung full of it. Keep the vacuum running and spray this stuff in its snout for about 30 seconds. That should turbocharge their little lungs with enough toxins to settle them down permanently (see photo of inside of shop vac).
For all you Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guitarists out there, one of my favorite inventions in the Pick-A-Palooza. With this clever punch you can make almost any reasonable plastic sheet product into a guitar pick. This makes for a good, eco-friendly operation where you can recycle things you’d normally throw out and turn them into picks. Over time, you save a lot of money as well.
Take your old credit cards, for example. Now you can recycle them into guitar picks rather than run them through a shredder – or meticulously slice them up with a scissors to make sure no one steals your CC number.
Normal everyday things you can turn into picks:
- Credit Cards
- Clear plastic packaging (you know those things that slice YOU up while you’re trying to cut them open?)
With the Pick-a-Palooza you can’t punch things like metals, but if you’re a shredder and pretty handy, you can make aluminum picks like these with a jewelers saw and a file. It takes awhile, but I made and sold quite a few of these some time ago.
I used Reel to Reel tape flanges as my source material. Today I would just buy sheet aluminum stock and go to work with a scroll saw. If you’re interested in my signature shredder picks, drop me a line and maybe I’ll make some for you. They sound really cool!
Put up an Antenna. Save $$$ Over Cable!
I don’t know about you, but I look at our cable bill (AT&T U-Verse) and am in disbelief how much we spend for the handful of channels we actually watch. Since we never watch sports, just scrolling through the (literally) hundreds of sports channels wastes too much of my time for what we are spending. Currently we are spending over $160 per month for Internet and cable. It just seems like a ridiculous amount of money. Add that up over a year and we’re spending just shy of TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS a year on cable. I can think of a lot of other things I could spend that money on — and actually have something tangible to show for it. Or better yet, go on a nice little vacation every year.
So my bride and i discussed it and decided we could live without all the channels we never watch as long as we get the major networks. I started researching antennas and found lots of options. There are very inexpensive digital antennas for apartment dwellers that you can just stick to the wall. We have a nice large attic and I decided something higher in quality with more signal would be a good investment.
I installed an outdoor antenna in the attic, along with an amplifier (we have 4 TVs and need the extra signal) – and after a couple of hours of getting everything configured and running an new 25′ Toslink (optical digital audio) cable for our main TV, we were all set. We get over 100 channels on the newer TVs and less, but plenty of channels on the older one. The signal quality is better than cable. It’s direct, with no long distribution issues to degrade the image. We love it. And we’re saving $$$ every month. So long U-Verse!
You do need to be basically line-of-sight to the transmitter antennas. We live in North Dallas and it’s simple to point the antenna south and pick up a lot of stations. You also never have outages…
You can do the same thing too. Follow the links below for the units I used to put this together. It’s easy!
Add this amplifier / splitter if you have more than 1 TV or need to run long distances to your sets from the antenna. It provides 8db of gain out of all 4 ports and is easy to install.
As we were gearing up for our Halloween party, I wanted to make our long, L-shaped hallway into something special.
Starting with the indirect lighting that I installed several months ago, I added red gels over the ultra-white LED lighting to create a very Dante’s Inferno look. Theatrical gels would yield the best results, but they are expensive, especially when you need about 80 feet of gel that measures about 3″ wide. Fortunately my wife found exactly what we needed on her travels. Red cellophane rolls used for wrapping gift baskets is perfect. It did take about an hour to cut something like 6 strips and drag a ladder along, setting them in place. The effect was worth it though, as it created an uneven, fire-like effect.
I decided parking a fog machine in the doorway to my wife’s office was the best location, and on a tripod above the fog machine I installed a
TSSS® Disco DJ Stage Lighting LED RGB Crystal Light unit, which turned the hallway into a swirling mass of color. Very kaleidoscopic effect with the heavy layer of fog. I had the fog machine set to pulse for about 2 seconds every minute of so to keep a distinct layer of fog in the hallway.
A nice feature of this unit is that it has a standard tripod fitting on the underside, which enables mounting it almost anywhere. It comes with a plastic bracket if you want to permanently mount it — and a compact (5″ or so) flexible tripod for lightweight installations of a temporary nature. Since most of us own a tripod these days (or can pick one up cheaply) this is a great feature.
The fog machine I used is one of the professional units rated at 700 watts. I’ve used lots of the “party” level fog machines over the years, but had them all fail after one or two uses, so I decided to go the Eliminator Lighting series. These are very well made and quieter than the cheap ones.
The thing to note about these fog machines is you CANNOT use the party variety of timer controls that you buy at a Halloween store. The control voltage is entirely different. I found this unit to be perfect after contacting the very helpful people at Eliminator.
The end result looks like this:
For my fellow photographers and artists of 2D media (prints, paper, canvas), here’s a solution I worked out for transporting large prints to my framer. The problem is that if you have anything larger than about 11×17 – or maybe 13×19, protecting them and making the process of transportation un-cumbersome is a bit of a challenge. The “regulation-size” paper can be put in the box it arrived in, of course. But throw in some precipitation and the possibility of having to make a panic-stop in traffic and you need a better solution than a cardboard box.
With the acquisition of my Epson 9900 large-format printer, I realized I had now created a real problem for myself in getting these very large prints ( a 44″ x 71″ image is drying on my coffee table at the moment…) to my framer. What I needed was a protective, water-tight tube to transport my prints.
If you’re a do-it-yourself-er and don’t mind a little DIY project, read on.
For smaller stock, you can buy architect’s tubes if you can find a supply store, but I’ve never seen one four feet long. And I’ll bet it would be expensive as hell if I could find one. So wracking my aching brain, I came up with a plan. Needing to stop at Home Depot anyway, I decided to detour down the Plumbing aisle and scare up the biggest PVC pipe I could find. Unfortunately, the largest size pipe they have is 4″. Not ideal, but “close enough for government work”. The ideal product is their 4″ sewer pipe. This is a much thinner construction – and therefore lighter – than standard schedule 40 PVC. But they don’t make end caps for this thin stock. Drat.
So I bought 10 feet of the standard PVC and a couple of end caps. This set me back about $29.00. The nice people at Home Depot will be happy to cut the sucker in half so you can fit it in your car, if like me, you don’t drive a gas-guzzling beast. When you get it home, you need to cleanly cut the pipe down to about 4″ longer than the widest stock you will ever use. In my case, this is 48″. I use a chop saw. A radial arm saw works better, I suppose. If you’re really careful (and accurate) a hacksaw or crosscut saw will do the job just fine.
Next, I recommend sanding off the exterior of each end to make it just enough smaller that the end caps fit smoothly – and snugly (remember, you want a water-tight seal) but not so tight you can’t easily remove them. You could lubricate the ends with silicone, but then you’d risk getting it on your print, so I do NOT recommend this approach.
Then you need to smooth the opening with sandpaper so you don’t cut yourself, snag your clothes, or more importantly, scratch the print sliding it in (photographic prints will go in finished surface out…). Wipe it down really well after this.
After the cleanup is done, you need to give the interior a bath to get anything out of the tube that might be abrasive or soil your print, so a washcloth or loofah-type product on the end of a rod can be run through it several times with hot soapy water. Like cleaning a gun (cannon) barrel.
Next, it’s a good idea to pack the end caps with silica gel packets. A small mesh bag to put them in is a good idea, then double-stick tape it to the center of each cap. This keeps the contents dry. I also suggest a dry washcloth stuffed in each end to keep your print from sliding and give you something to wipe down the exterior with. If you’re out in the rain, this will be important. You can wipe down the open end after removing the end cap – and before taking out your print.
The finishing touch (not shown here) can be a shoulder strap to make lugging the beast easier. I’m a fan of guitar straps. You can get them in any color / pattern / design you can imagine and they’re very comfortable. Designed to suspend a heavy guitar or bass for hours at a time on a musician’s shoulder, this aspect has been well thought-out for decades. I also use these for camera straps. Fasten the guitar strap in place with large wire ties. The kind used for A/C ducts are perfect, if a bit of overkill (Home Depot has these). After you cut the excess off the wire tie, I recommend filing the end smooth with a file. Otherwise they are incredibly sharp! Until you’ve been sliced by the end of a cut-off wire tie you can’t appreciate this. Profit from my experience.
You could also wire-tie simple handle to the center of the tube if you prefer this approach. You could even make one out of duct tape and it would probably work great. I would use Gorilla Tape if I were to go this route.
Note: This photo was taken under low light with an iPhone, so yes. It’s noisy. I will update this with a studio shot of the completed tube in a few days.