Covered Topics

Please see the list of the topics I've covered. It's located near the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping in!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

PVC Archery - Test of New Bow

Readers of this blog have seen my previous posts regarding PVC bows. Due to life circumstances in general, coupled with a shoulder injury, I have not done anything with archery in over a year and a half. Today, that changed.

Using some tips I gleaned from Backyard Bowyer's YouTube channel, I quickly constructed this bow today and tested it out.

All in all it worked pretty well; it needs some tweaks and modifications but it clearly IS possible to make a usable 35#-45# draw-weight bow out of standard schedule 40 PVC water pipe for a total materials cost of under $10.

I'm using arrows bought at Wal-Mart for $3 a piece on clearance several years ago. These are good enough but need a little help, too - as the fletching was improperly glued on. I should remove the vanes and glue them on properly. Will discuss that in more detail in a future post.

I used a 55" piece of 3/4" ID Schedule 40 PVC pipe and formed it with a heat gun using methods found on Backyard Bowyer's site and elsewhere online. Flattening the limbs of the bow as he describes definitely helps improve the curve as it is drawn, the force distribution, the overall performance, and keeps the bow from getting a permanent and unwanted bend in the middle. I left the middle 5" of the bow untouched with its original round cross section.

After the pipe cooled, I shaped the ends for attaching the string, which consists of 350 Paracord. This is smaller than the 550 Paracord one normally reads about but works perfectly well on this light a bow. While Paracord is very durable and resists fraying, one definitely wants to put a serving on the string so that the nocking point is thick enough for a standard commercial arrow nock to grip.

I strung the bow for a 6.75" brace height at the center point.

The finished product has a measured draw weight of about 35# at 28 inches of draw.

The arrows in the target shown in the above photo were shot from approximately 30'. No doubt as I build up strength and accuracy much greater distances will be possible. I also plan to use the ballistic chronometer in future tests of PVC bows. Stay tuned ...

A couple notes:
Backyard Bowyer reshapes the middle "grip" section of the bow to improve shooting accuracy. Some folks say you don't need to do this and certainly, it is far easier to leave the handle section alone. This is the configuration I tried today. I noticed some issues with the arrow being deflected somewhat unpredictably when it would sometimes hit the bow and/or my hand. Clearly tapering the handle section and creating an arrow rest should help with this.

Using the technology described above, one can get into archery for about $15-$20 - NOT including the $17 target shown in the photo.

The piece of wire on the target in the bottom photo is for the vibration sensor used with the homemade ballistic chronometer. The sensor, which is actually the piezo buzzer out of an old computer, is duct taped to the lower left-hand side of the target.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chickens - At 1 Month Old

In a recent post I mentioned that a buddy of mine and I were raising chickens from hatchlings. We had gotten these at a day old in early to mid July. They're now approximately a month old and have joined the adult hens in the coop. You can see them in the photo above. I apologize for the slightly blurry image - they were in constant motion and the light wasn't good for photography inside the coop. In the foreground there is a banded rock on the left, a blue cochin rooster to the right of that, and 2 partridge cochins behind them (to the right in the photo). I don't remember and can't see well enough in the picture to be sure of the ones behind the patridge cochins.

All of them are still a bit shy around the adults, and will back away from the feeder and water when an adult approaches. There is definitely a "pecking order"; the adults get first dibbs on the food and water - when they're done the younger hatchlings can take what they want.

The next photo shows me holding the blue cochin rooster - the detail is better because he wasn't running around :) For chickens that have been handle gently and petted a couple times a day every day since they were hatched, they STILL can be quite difficult to corner and catch. He put up a brief struggle when I caught him.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Homegrown Basil Herb - Flowering

For nearly a decade, I have grown culinary herbs for use in my kitchen. One of the easiest herbs to grow at home is basil. Not only is basil an integral part of Italian cooking, it also plays an important role in the garden. This fragrant herb, which is a delicious complement to tomatoes sliced and served with olive oil and fresh ground black pepper, also serves to help protect tomato plants from pests when grown right beside them. Indeed, tomato and basil plants establish a symbiotic relationship when grown together. One helps condition the soil chemistry to aid the growth of the other.

After the main garden growing season, the basil may be dug up and transplanted into indoor planters and kept alive under full spectrum grow lamps all winter long. I have done this with basil, rosemary, and mint for several years. The basil and rosemary go into spaghetti and Italian soups while the mint makes for a great medicinal tea for stomach upsets or even just to relax with.

An additional benefit of herbs is most of them produce attractive flowers during their growing season. One thing to be aware of is if you let them flower, often they will stop growing or even die back - so you might want to keep the flower buds trimmed off a portion of your plants to keep them growing and producing edible leaves all season.

Clicking on the photo below will enlarge it so you can more clearly see the bloom.

Raising Chickens

A buddy of mine has raised chickens for a decade or more. Recently, he acquired 7 newly hatched chicks - including a blue cochin rooster, two partridge cochins, two black astrolorps, and two banded rocks - most of which can be seen in the photo. This was taken when they were approximately 4 days old.

In another couple or three weeks they will be big enough to go back with the adult hens. Meanwhile they are being kept under an infrared lamp for incubation, as they are unable to maintain their own body temperature. During the day the adult chickens free-range on a several acre farm, enjoying life and foraging on all sorts of natural things as God intended. This definitely makes for a superior quality egg - the factory-raised stuff in the grocery store is tasteless and "sick" by comparison to the product my friend's chickens produce. The shells on these home-raised eggs is thicker than the store-bought ones, and the yolks tend to be a dark orange to even a red color in some cases. This is due to the minerals and nutrients they get through natural forage as opposed to the artificial corn feed most factory raised chickens get. The taste and texture of these eggs is like nothing else I have ever eaten prior to moving into an area that permits people to raise chickens at home.

You can view some short video footage of the chicks I uploaded to my YouTube site - KarlsLabReport.

I plan to upload more pictures and video as these birds grow and develop. Please stay tuned!!

Meanwhile - below is a photo of an adult partridge cochin hen. My apologies for the somewhat blurry image - she would not stay still long enough to pose for a decent picture. Note her beautiful coloration and the dark 'highlighting' around the edges of the individual feathers. Also note the feathers on her feet - cochins are interesting in that unlike other breeds, they have feathers covering their feet. The blue cochin rooster in the picture above is just starting to show the beginnings of feathered feet, too. Clicking on any image on this page will enlarge it for closer inspection.