Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The plan to build a wood fired cedar hot tub
Scott Symmes3:34 PM

Western Red Cedar four hoop hot tub handcrafted by Forest Lumber Cooperage Ltd.
Picture courtesy of Forest Lumber & Cooperage Ltd
For the last couple of months, I been researching on how to build a wooden hot tub. If you haven't seen one, it's a six foot round barrel about 4 feet high. Normally made from vertical laid Western Red Cedar planks that are fitted together. A heavy duty banding is wrapped around the outside to keep the vertical planks from bursting. A snorkel style of wood stove is used to heat the water up. The stove sits just under the water line. Of course, I could pony up the $3500.00 a buy one. But, that's not in the budget. The deck at the cabin comes first.
Anyway, after travelling on the internet, came across a story about another dude that wants to do the same thing...
"Hi folks, I am considering taking on the construction of an outdoor cedar hot tub. I want to build it using a joint that I have seen in use by kits I have assembled. The joint is called a canoe joint and it is used on 2x6 edges. I looked online to purchase a shaper/router bit set to achieve this joint and have only found ones that have smaller radius than i require for my staves. Any help you can provide in a source for this bit set would be very much appreciated. Thanks, Jerry"
round-nose-profileSo, I'm like cool. I'm not the only one. Found a post response and he/she suggested a Round Nose Router Bit by Freud. Freud makes really sweet saw blades, but I haven't tried the bits yet. Looks like I'll head down to the local Windsor Plywood store and pick one up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pole mount solar panel (from scrap materials)
Scott Symmes11:57 AM

Back in July 2011, I was sitting out front the cabin having my morning coffee and starring at the fixed solar panels. Figured there was a better way to catch all the rays of sun with a rotating solar panel. After a few quick sketches on a scrap piece of paper, I went to the shop and found a bunch of left over plumbing parts and aluminium angle iron. The mount is based on a 1" galvanized "T" that has two arms and a body (pole) that is treaded into a 1" pipe union. The union sits nicely on top of a patio umbrella metal pole, which is inserted into a wider galvanized fence post. The left and right "arms" are standard 24 inch lengths that thread into the Tee. A U-Clamp was used to secure the pipe to an angle iron.The angle iron was bolts with stainless steel bolts to the solar panel frame. No really high tech, but it works. There is just enough friction on the union that the wind does not spin the panel, but can be easily turned by hand. The solar panel can be adjust up or down to match the summer or winter latitude.  See the video below!

Thursday, January 17, 2013 we've got a website too!
Scott Symmes8:07 AM

Looking for more information about solar panels, wind turbines and cabin reno projects?
No prob!
Pop by the website at  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Radio Controller Forest Service roads
Scott Symmes9:48 PM

If you travel on any back roads in British Columbia, you are required to have a UHF radio that is "tuned" to that road. That way you can communicate with the logging trucks. Here's an example of a frequency "153.23". Your radio would be pre-programed from the dealer.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Talking about solar stuff with a rockstar
Scott Symmes3:11 PM


Xantrex XW MPPT 60A Solar Charge Controller, XW-MPPT60-150Had an amazing discovery on the weekend. We hosted a birthday party for a good friend and one of the guests, worked for the company that produces Xantrex inverters, charge controllers, battery chargers, etc for off grid use. (I almost fell off my chair!) For someone like me, that's really into the alternative energy, it was like meeting a rock star. Since we were sitting at the dinner table, enjoying a tasty dessert, I had to hold off and not get to excited with the questions/answers. Xantrex makes really good products, and for me, it's a local company. As we were talking, my spouse and close friends were making fun of us talking about "solar stuff". I had briefly mentioned I had a YouTube channel and do reviews/how to videos for different products. I got a nod, but, afterwards felt like a geek mentioning it. Sadly, the guest had to leave for family obligations.

I didn't get a chance to ask him some details about the Xantrex MPPT Charge Controller.  Below is a few pics of the charge controller. I'd say it right up there with the Morningstar Tri-Star TS-60 charge controller. The good news is I could switch the Morningstar into Diversion mode to divert the excess power to the two 100 watt transistors. Hmm...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Simple (and cheap) wind turbine tower from building materials
Scott Symmes9:47 PM

Simple (and Cheap) wind turbine tower from building materials

If you need a wind turbine tower and the build budget is tight, this video should help. My tower cost about $30.00 and it's 25' tall.
The original idea came fro Mike Davis. (The guy is a THE DIY Wizard. See link below)
I followed Mikes advice, and modified the design to be adapted for my cedar deck. I decided to see if I could savage parts from a used building supply depot. The materials came from fencing, plumbing and electrical departments. I had noticed that  horizontal pipe used for the top/bottom of chain link fence. It fit nicely inside (with very little play) over top of a 1" galvanized metal EMT. If you look around, I'm sure you'll find some with minor dents for a $7 - $9 each for a 10' section.  I picked up about $30.00 worth of material and took it home.

So, for the stand, the feet are (2) 1" floor flanges, legs (2) 6" of pipe, (2) elbows, (2) 6" pipe, (1) T-intersection and about 36" of 1" pipe. The fencing pipe slips over the water pipe. Then depending on your height, the 1" EMT fits nicely inside and the fencing pipe. Then you alternate the lengths to create the tower. For guy wires, use the clamps in the fencing section for the ropes. Sounds complicated, but I'll see what I can find for pictures.

In an ideal situation, would takes 2 people to raise the tower. But, if you use a pulley and a heavy counter weight, 1 adult can do it. Just make sure to have your guy wires ready.

All the credit for the wonderful design goes to Mike Davis. He makes a ton of really cool projects. See his web site at